Tuesday, September 29, 2015

McLain celebrates 44 years at Grove Drive-In Pharmacy

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller • khutson@grovesun.com

Carolynn McLain celebrates behind a cake purchased
for her by her colleagues at Grove Drive-In Pharmacy.
 McLain's final day at the business will
be Wednesday, Sept. 30.
- Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
Thursday, Oct. 1, will mark a new chapter in the life of Carolynn McLain.

It will be the first workday, in 44 years, the Grove woman will not be behind the counter at Grove Drive-In Pharmacy.

Instead, she'll be at home planning trips to visit her newborn great-grandson, organizing items for future garage sales and maybe even sleeping in late.

On Monday, family and friends gathered at the Grove Drive-In Pharmacy to kick off a three-day celebration of McLain and her work at the business.

"I started in October 1971," McLain said. "I've done everything that could be done in the pharmacy from book keeping, filing, typing of prescriptions.

"When I started, there was a little shelf in front of the register that held checkbooks with blank checks for all of the banks in town. People would pick up the book for their bank, and write a check. It wouldn't even have their address on it. Then the checks would go through the bank. We had very few hot checks."

In the beginning, McLain said she did lots of work by hand - including the processing and filing of prescriptions. Now through the advances in technology, much of the work has been computerized.

As McLain has worked behind the counter at the pharmacy for 44 years, she has been joined for all but a few months by Pharmacist Carl Deason.

Deason jokes that people often thing he and McLain are married - because they would often be found "fussing" at each other behind the counter.

McLain said Deason after all these years is like a brother, joking that he likes to bully her.

Co-worker Linda Beal said at times, she had to stand between the two, to keep them from squabbling - all in good fun.

McLain credits her longevity at the pharmacy to her colleagues.

"It's very easy to work with someone you like," McLain said of Deason and the rest of her co-workers, adding that she had trained most of the current staff.

McLain said Deason served as a mentor to her, helping her learn how to develop her customer service skills.

"I've always enjoyed learning about medicine, what it does and how it came to be," McLain said, of her time at the pharmacy. "And the people. I like cutting up with people."

McLain said changes over the years often mean more time working with insurance companies and less time visiting with customers.

Colleagues placed signs on the doors at the Grove Drive-In Pharmacy on Monday, letting customers know about Carolynn McLain's plans to retire after 44 years of service. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
As she ponders her future, McLain said becoming more active within the ministries of the Assembly of God church in Grove tops her list.

She also plans to travel to Bismark, North Dakota to see her great-grandson, Liam McLain, born to Jamie and Garrett McLain on Aug. 12.

Additionally, her husband Leon, plans to take her to Branson for a three-day weekend to celebrate her retirement.

After her initial flurry of trips, McLain plans to clean her house of "40 years of stuff," as well as items in storage from her in-law's home.

They also plan to hang out at their travel trailer, housed at Snider's Campground in Grove or Leon McLain's hunting cabin.

McLain might even dive into a few books she's had on her "to read" list, including several from the Left Behind series.

"I'm going to miss my co-workers," McLain said, "as well as my job. I've always liked it.

"It makes me feel good knowing that you can help [a customer], especially if they are struggling with their insurance."

More about McLain

McLain and her husband, Leon, recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. They moved to Grove from Bristow following Leon McLain's graduation from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol academy. The Vinita District was his first posting, and the couple chose to remain in Grove ever since.

The couple have two adult children, Leah and Lee, who are both Grove High School graduates. Leah Tyner and her husband, Mike, reside in Grove, while Lee McLain lives in Wagoner with his daughters, Elizabeth, 20, and Haley, 18. Other grandchildren, Garrett and Jamie McLain reside in Bismark, North Dakota, and Jaden and Bradley Thomas live in West Siloam Springs.

This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 29 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Impact of Alcohol: Hidden dangers of underage drinking

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller • khutson@grovesun.com
This story originally appeared in the Friday, Oct. 25, 2015 issue of The Grove Sun.

Editor's Note: This is the second part of a three part series examining the impact of alcohol use on young lives.

As an investigator for the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, Lt. Erik Smoot has serious concerns when it comes to the dangers connected with underage drinking.

Among the things that make Smoot the most apprehensive: alcohol found in deceptive packaging and antics of students pursuing a high.

Smoot often travels around Oklahoma, talking with parents and educators, about these issues.

During his presentations, he brings along a cardboard box filled with containers of alcohol.

The beverages, which include flavored beer, a variety of wine, or portable containers of liquor, are packaged in such a way that the alcoholic content can be mistaken for non-alcoholic drinks.

Smoot’s collection includes a cardboard container of wine designed like an energy drink; sparkling wine in a package that resembles a can of juice; and a milk bottle decorated with cow spots, which contains an alcoholic chocolate milk beverage.

All were purchased legally in the state of Oklahoma and most are available the average liquor store.

All of them, Smoot said, could be carried by students in public under the noses of unsuspecting adults.

“My concern is I could carry any one of these products into school and nobody would question it,” Smoot said, surveying his collection. “[In many cases] nobody would ask what they are drinking, because it doesn’t look like alcohol.”

Lt. Erik Smoot said alcoholic products in non-traditional packaging
may allow students to consume alcohol without the knowledge of adults.

Popular Items
The most popular beverage Smoot and other ABLE Commission investigators see during busts of underage parties is a flavored malt drink known as Four Loco.

Smoot said the 23-1/2 ounce beverage is a favorite of students for three reasons: it comes in a dozen sweet flavors, a single can has an alcohol content which is equivalent to a six pack of low-point beer and it cheap at $2 per can.

Another, known as a “pocket shot” is an airtight collapsible plastic container of rum, which is small enough to slip inside a pocket.

Smoot said students could, in theory, carry the “shot” into the school in their pockets, purchase a drink from a vending machine and then discretely add it to the soda. The packaging is then thrown away, rather than re-filled like a traditional flask.

Ultimately, Smoot said, he takes his message to parents and instructors for one reason – awareness.

“Parents and teachers need to go see what is out there,” Smoot said. “They need to go see what is available for purchase at liquor stores. So [they will recognize it] when they see the stuff in the kids’ hands.”

State Rep. Doug Cox (R-Grove), who is also an emergency room physician, agrees.

"We need to make parents aware," Cox said. "You cannot legislate away negative behavior by teens.

"The first line of defense is not going to be the government or legislation. It's going to be the parents."

Risky Behaviors

Smoot said, he sees the aftermath of students' choices when it comes to consuming alcohol. He said students often take part in risky behaviors as they chase an alcohol high.

Many of those behaviors involve teens and driving. Smoot was one of the law enforcement officers who investigated the death of Fairland teen Colton Kerns, who was involved in a one-vehicle crash involving speed and alcohol on April 20, 2012.

However, he said, other behaviors — which can lead to death — take place during parties or even in a student's bedroom.

It involves ingesting the alcohol in non-traditional ways, which can lead to a faster rate of absorption and ultimately, an increased risk of alcohol poisoning.

One method, known as “stringing” or “plugging” involves both males and females inserting a vodka-soaked tampon into a bodily orifice. Another method, known as “butt chugging” entails the use of alcohol in the form of an enema.

A third form of consumption, known as “vodka eyeballing” involves pouring alcohol directly into the eye socket, often times by placing the bottle of alcohol directly over the eye.

Smoot said the risk of alcohol poisoning is higher when using these methods because it is absorbed directly into the blood stream, bypassing the digestive system. This means vomiting does not expel the excess alcohol from a student's system before a blackout occurs.

Smoot said many students choose to use the internal methods because it allows the ingestion of alcohol without the lingering odor on a person’s breath, and because it provides “an immediate high as it is absorbed into the blood stream.”

Students learn about these behaviors through word of mouth and from internet sources, which are readily available.

While neither Grove Police Chief Mark Morris or Cox have seen the use of these techniques in Grove, Smoot said officials in other parts of the state have reported the methods in use by underage students.

Smoot said at least one instance, involving a female using a vodka soaked tampon, took place within the past two years in an Oklahoma City-area town.

Cox said he has witnessed numerous cases of alcohol poisoning during his tenure as an emergency room physician. He said the use of these forms of consumption run significant risk for people — especially underage drinkers.

"The human mind never ceases to amaze me, [especially] in the diverse ways and things [people] think they can get away with, which are really bad for their health," Cox said. "It never ceases to amaze and frustrate me."

The health risks of these methods extend beyond an alcoholic overdose.

Smoot said doctors reporting the use of vodka eyeballing said it can cause scaring to the cornea and could potentially damage the optic nerve.

Cox said people who insert alcohol rectally run the risk of damaging the mucosal lining of the anus, opening a person's system up to potential infection.

The risky behavior can also lead to death.

Smoot cites a case involving a Houston, Texas-area woman who killed her husband by allegedly giving him a alcoholic enema.

The woman allegedly gave her husband an enema using at least two 1.5 liter bottles of sherry. This method was used because medical problems with the man's throat kept him from drinking alcohol. The man died from alcohol poisoning.

Cox is concerned about students who might present in an emergency situation with high blood alcohol content, but say they did not drink anything.

"They will be less open to admitting how it happened if they are doing it by enema or tampon," Cox said. "It leaves us, as physicians, in the dark as to how they got to this level of alcohol."

Ultimately, Smoot hopes educating parents and teachers about the dangers surrounding underage drinking has one result.

“This is all about saving lives,” Smoot said.

Cox and Morris agree.

"Kids already know this," Cox said. "We need to make parents aware.

"Parents need to have frank discussions about the issue and also set a good example for their teens."

"Parents should be aware, and pay attention to what their teens are doing," Morris said. "Look for signs, smells and behaviors. There are a lot of dangers out there.

"Everyday there are new ways to introduce alcohol into a teen's system. Some are extremely dangerous."

* * *
Other Dangers

Lt. Erik Smoot with the ABLE Commission said since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, some Oklahoma schools are reporting an increase in the use of edibles containing the drug by students.

The products include a cinnamon candy laced with marijuana, which Smoot said is packaged like many other candies legally available in the state.

Another item is a cookie, which he said, contains 12 servings of marijuana.

Smoot said teens run the risk of an overdose when consuming the cookie, because most people eat the entire cookie, rather than portioning it out.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Fox 23 reported deputies with the Wagoner County Sheriff's Office found marijuana-laced gummy candies during a traffic stop. Law enforcement officials believe the candy was bought in Colorado. Officials are concerned that similar candies could get into the hands of children.

Another substance, available on the internet, but banned in Oklahoma is palcohol or powdered alcohol.

Smoot said at least half of the states have also banned the sale of the product, which is often poured into drinks or even snorted by users.

* * *
Area Services

ROCMND Area Youth Services provides services designed to help combat, and hopefully prevent, drinking while driving.

For more information about the services offered by ROCMND Area Youth Services, persons interested may contact Bonnie McAffrey, RPC director, at 918-787-2104 or visit w.w.w.2kool2start.com.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Images from the 09.22.15 issue of The Grove Sun

A few of my favorite photos, from the 2015 Lady Red Softball Senior Night, Tuesday, Sept. 22.

The game was against Skiatook. Many were published in the Friday, Sept. 25 issue of The Grove Sun.

All Photos by Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun





















Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wandering Photos: Wildflowers in DelCo

So I've started experimenting. 
I'm taking time to breathe

Even if it's for just a brief moment or two.

This morning, I turned the car around so I could stop
and take pictures of the yellow wildflowers on my road.

I've been watching them, wanting to stop for days....
Today I said, I can be at the paper a bit late.

I can stop, take some pictures and maybe just smile.

I'm not perfect by far. I'm trying to stop and smell the roses.

Litterally and figuratively.

I'm trying to put some rest into my world.

Even if it's just a few moments. 

A photo of a flower here. 

A late lunch that comes with a piece of cake, 
and a brief moment of solitude. 
(An unexpected gift from my friends at Chickenellas).

A stolen moment to pray in color. 

A moment of rest. 

So here are the photos I took today. 

May they bring you joy and peace.

Photos by Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller 





Lankford to visit Grove

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller •  khutson@grovesun.com
A Republican senator, described as being "in the thick" of things in Washington, D.C., will be the featured guest for the Northeast Oklahoma Lincoln Reagan Dinner.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) will serve as the keynote speaker for the meal, set for 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Grove Civic Center, 1702 South Main, Grove.

Delaware County Republican Chairman Pastor Robert Carter said the dinner will give Lankford his first opportunity to be in Grove since his election in 2014 to complete the remaining two years of retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn's term of office.

"Sen. Lankford is in the thick of things in Washington, and he will provide an interesting and timely report on many of the issues our Federal Government is dealing with,” Carter said. “Sen. Lankford is Oklahoma’s highest ranking elected Federal official, and northeast Oklahoma is honored to be able to host him at this public dinner."

Lankford said he plans to talk to the gathering about who Republicans are, and where the party is headed in the future, concerning national issues.

Lankford said he "ardently disagrees," that the country is beyond hope.

"I'm not one to just throw up my hands, say it's too hard and quit," Lankford said. "That's not who we are."

Lankford admits the nation is "not in a good spot," but there is room for improvement.

"Congress is fighting like a couple who have overspent their credit cards," Lankford said. "Every fight we have circles back to money."

Lankford said much of his discussion will center upon the core beliefs that Republicans hold - including family, local control of government, work, rule of law and developing solutions which actually help people get out of poverty.

He said the party needs to focus on finding solutions that solve issues of poverty, rather than placing a bandaid on the issue.

Lankford likened the need to return to core values to those, held by those known as the greatest generation, like work ethic, values and integrity.

"We're not just losing this generation, we're also losing their values," Lankford said.

Ultimately, Lankford said, happenings in Washington D.C. mirrors what's taking place throughout the country.

"It reflects who we are, and what we've become as a nation," Lankford said.

Change, will only come when people make a difference in their own community, churches and schools.

"The long-term turnaround will only come through out states and communities," he said.

Lankford said he also expects he will discuss the upcoming presidential election and the slate of GOP candidates vying to become the party's nominee.

At this time, Lankford said he has not picked a favorite candidate.

"I'm pleased with the field and its diversity," Lankford said, adding that much of his views will focus on the overall process and provide "inside baseball" style tips about several of the candidates.

At this time, Lankford has not publicly thrown his support behind a candidate.

Lankford said he plans to also discuss some of his views concerning the nuclear treaty with Iran.

"This is not good for the U.S. and not good for the middle east and it's not good for Israel," Lankford said of the president's current plan. "I think no deal is better than a bad deal - and this is a bad deal."

More About Lankford

After serving four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lankford was elected to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 4, to complete Coburn's term of office, which expires in January 2017.

Lankford currently serves on the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Indian Affairs Committee. Additionally, Lankford serves on the Senate Republican Whip Team for the 114th Congress.

Before Lankford was elected to Congress, he served as the Director of the Falls Creek Youth Camp and Director of Student Ministry at the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma from 1995 to 2009. Falls Creek is the largest youth camp in the United States, with more than 51,000 students and adults attending each summer.

Lankford lives in Edmond with his wife Cindy. They have been married for over 20 years and have two daughters: Hannah and Jordan.

Tickets for the dinner are $50 per person and may be purchased by Monday, Sept. 28, in Grove at Shadow Arms Protection, 311 South Grand; Allstate Insurance, 2106 S. Main; Edward Jones, 2123 S Main; and Trinity Baptist Church, 206 Elk Street. Tickets are also available by contacting local Republican leaders.

One Thing With Lankford
One person who has inspired you

My faith is the driving force behind my life. It's essential to my day to day life.

With that said, my mother has always stood behind me. She's quite the lady. She has lived a life with a focus to help other people, and she's a life-long encourager to me personally.

One book that has 'stuck' with you

Scripture is extremely important to me. Another book, it's older, but "Good to Great" a book about management structures. It looks at structures that are broken and how you can turn them around.

Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson is also important to me as well.

One thing that might surprise people about you

I'm a little bit of an introvert. I speak to people all of the time, but I enjoy sitting on my back porch or in the yard planting, working or just being by myself. I like to spend a lot of time in the quiet or solitude.

One thing you can't live without

Sonic Vanilla Dr. Pepper. One of the things I don't like about D.C. is that there is no Sonics.

One piece of advice you've been given

Advice that came from Dr. Coburn. Several years ago I asked him how he did effective leadership in the congress. He said there were two ways. Become a conference committee chairman or study the issues. He was incredibly accurate. So few people study actually study the issues. If you engage and study, you can do your part behind the scenes to make an impact. Study and do the work, that was good counsel.

One thing you hope to impart on the people attending the dinner

An optimism and a sense that that national direction starts at home.

Images from the 09.22.15 issue of The Grove Sun

Scenes from the 77th Annual REC Day
From Frito Chili Pies to games and prizes for kids, there was something for everyone to be had during the 2015 REC Day, held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Grove Civic Center.

The 77th annual event drew in 1,857 registered members of the Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative.

Here's a few of my favorite pics from the event.
(Most were originally published in the Sept. 22, 2015 issue of The Grove Sun.)

Photos by Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

Kevin Summerlin with the Foundation for Exceptional Warriors watches as Jay Richardson, 15-1/2, from Colcord drives the tank chair. The group attended the 2015 REC Day Saturday, to let people know about its offerings for service members recognized for acts of valor or who were part of the special operations. For more information about the group, based in Pryor, persons interested may visit www.exceptionalwarriors.org or search "exceptional warriors" on Facebook.

The American flag is always an iconic part of REC Day.

Averi Silverstone, 3, Cleora, gets a birds-eye view of REC Day on top of her grandpa's, Steven Copeland, shoulders.

Rebekka Tuck, 7, of Langley eats her Frito chili pie during the 2015 REC Day, held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Grove Civic Center.

Dylan Hall and his band, Pure Tradition, perform during the 2015 REC Day, held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Grove Civic Center. Hall is a native of Jay.

Kyle Lemasters and Charlie Coble cook up chili during the 2015 REC Day, held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Grove Civic Center.

Alexis Currie, 8, reaches for a lollypop in a children's game during the 2015 REC Day, held Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Grove Civic Center. Currie won a bottle of bubbles as her prize.

REC employee Gary Roger (center) watches as Sara Jane Mahurin, 4, tries to knock over cups during one of the children's games at REC Day, held Saturday, Sept. 19, in Grove.

Shiloha King, 5, of Wyandotte, dances to the music of Dylan Hall and Pure Tradition with her uncle, James Hayworth, on Saturday, Sept. 19, during the 2015 REC Day at the Grove Civic Center.

While 2-1/2-month-old McKenzie Beeson of Ketchum sleeps in her mother's arms, the rest of her family (from left) Alex Beeson, Richard Newman, Matthew Beeson, 2-1/2, and Jerry Beeson prepare for the start of the 2015 REC Day cooperative meeting on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Grove Civic Center.

Brenda Miller of Wyandotte was the winner of the Raven ATV lawnmower, the top prize for the 2015 REC Day celebration. Miller joked that now that she has the lawn mower, she just needs a man to run it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Stepping out in faith: Tulsa State Fair Entries


My entries for the Tulsa State Fair. Ready to drive to Tulsa tomorrow after REC Day. #lifeofaneditor Seven entries, Pro division. No clue what the judges are looking for..... but we have seven new pics for the walls of our new house.

Impact of Alcohol: Aftermath of DUI leaves survivors reeling from effects

Brandon Abel, 21, Eucha, died and his passenger, Dakota Fullerton, 19, was injured following a one-vehicle accident, which took place north of Grove on East 270 Road, near the Apache Springs subdivision, on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Highway Patrol Reports indicated alcohol and speed were the key factors in the accident. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller • khutson@grovesun.com
Editor's Note: This is part of a three part series examining the impact of alcohol use on young lives.

Life changed on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, for Alan and Ida Abel.

It was then that the rural Delaware County residents stopped using a calendar to mark off the days of their lives.

Now a single number dominates each day — 28.

According to statistics provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an average of 28 people are killed each day in accidents caused by alcohol.

It’s a sobering statistic — of which the Abels have first-hand knowledge.

Brandon, their 21-year-old son, died as a result of injuries he received in a one-vehicle accident, which took place north of Grove on East 270 Road, near the Apache Springs subdivision, on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

His passenger, 19-year-old Dakota M. Fullerton, Eucha, also sustained injuries in the accident. He was taken by Mercy Air Ambulance to Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, where he was admitted in good condition with trunk internal and external, arm and leg injuries. He has since been released.

It was an accident fueled in part by alcohol and speed, according to reports issued by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Medical examiner's reports indicate Brandon Abel had a blood alcohol content of .16 – twice the legal limit.

“My son was killed by a drunk driver – himself,” Alan said.

* * *

Since Aug. 19, Alan has discovered a new mission in life.

“I want to turn his tragedy into someone’s triumph,” Alan said. “I want one person to make a change, then reach the second person, then a third [and keep on multiplying].”

His wife, Ida, agreed.

“I don’t want somebody else going through life like this today,” Ida said. “I don’t want someone else to lose a loved one. [We want to] stop this from happening to another person.”

The former director of the Grove Emergency Medical Services, Alan wants people to hear about the dangers associated with driving under the influence of alcohol.

He wants people to see images from his son’s accident, even though it causes pain.

The Abels hope the shocking the images of their son's vehicle will help convince people of all ages about the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

They say speaking out not only gives them a way to channel their grief, but it fuels what has become their ultimate goal.

“It will be worth it, if I can turn his tragedy into triumph,” Alan said. “If one person, young or old, takes time to stop and think before they get behind a wheel, and instead call a loved one [it will be worth it.]

“If I could have stopped [Brandon] I would have. I just want to hug him, and tell him that I love him.”

* * *

Brandon Able with his son, Braden, 1.
Photo courtesy Alan Abel
While the Abels admit choices made by their son throughout his teenage and young adult years led to his death, they know he was more than just a troubled young man with a pattern of bad behaviors.

He was also a young man learning to become a husband to Stacey (Summerfield) and father to son, Braden, 1, and stepsons Ryder, 3, and Roman, 4.

“He loved his boys,” Ida said. “He had lots of plans for those boys – and now he won’t be able to follow through with them. “

Alan remembers a son who cared for others, someone with a heart of gold.

“He would do anything, for anybody,” Alan said. “He had a good heart. Our solace is that while we look at the outward appearance, God looks at the content of our heart.

“My boy wasn’t just a drunk driver. He was somebody who loved and who was loved.”

* * *

Age played a role in the choices Brandon made.

“He was young,” Ida said. “He said, ‘mom, you’re supposed to mess up when you are young.’ He thought he had time to make it right. He thought he had time to turn his life around. [But] we saw his life leading two places – jail or death, which broke our hearts.

“It was like a bad dream we just couldn’t stop.”

* * *

In addition to educating others, the Abels hope their younger daughter, Brianna, a junior at Jay High School, takes heed of the message.

“I know to pay attention to the road, not to drive stupid, no drunk driving and no texting while driving,” Brianna said.

Alan hopes their daughter will remember one simple message, should she get into a situation involving alcohol.

“Stop, look, listen and learn,” Alan said. “Just call somebody. Save money [DUIs cost thousands of dollars], save a life. Call somebody, anybody.

“Everyone carries a cell phone, call somebody. If Brandon had made a phone call, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

* * *

To help spread their message, the Abels have joined the Oklahoma Chapter of MADD. Alan has also become a member of the national FADD or Fathers Against Drunk Driving. At this time there is no state chapter of FADD.

“We are looking for outlets to help spread our message,” Alan said. “Twenty-eight people lose their life every day from alcohol and driving. That’s one person every 45 minutes. On Aug. 19, our son became one of the 28.

“We want people to make a phone call, to call someone to come get them. I want people to understand, they just need to make a phone call, to call somebody. If they don’t the wake of destruction they leave behind is massive.”

For more information, persons interested may contact MADD of Oklahoma at www.madd.org/local-offices/ok or 405-748-3122 or FADD at www.faddintl.org. Persons interested may also contact Alan Abel to speak about the issue at alanabel@ymail.com.

Honoring First Responders

Grove Police Chief Mark Morris presents Officer Daniel Amendolara with the Governor's Commendation for his actions surrounding the Aug. 19 accident. Off-duty, Amendolara responded to the scene of the one-vehicle accident and assisted the two men until medical help arrived. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

Alan and Ida Abel have repeatedly said they are grateful for the first responders who helped their son, Brandon, and Dakota Fullerton on the night of the accident.

“For everyone who touched our son, who gave their best efforts, words will never be enough,” Ida Abel said. “Our thank you’s will never be enough, but we want that out there."

The actions of one first responder, off-duty Grove Police Officer Daniel Amendolara during the accident, has received recognition from both the Grove Police Department and Governor Mary Fallin's office.

Amendolara, who was at his residence at the time of the incident, heard the impact of the crash, and responded. He assisted both Abel and his passenger, Dakota Fullerton, until medical personnel arrived at the scene.

Ida Abel credits Amendolara's actions for helping her son get out of the burning car following its impact with the tree.

He has been given a Governor's Commendation by Gov. Fallin and the Medal of Honor by Grove Police Chief Mark Morris.

"When you are a police officer, you are never 'off duty,'" Amendolara said. "That goes for any emergency personnel. When someone gets hurt or needs help, we do what needs to be done regardless.

"I swore to 'protect and serve' my community and thats what I did and will continue doing so.

"In a situation like that, you don't have time to think. You just react. Being where I was at that time when I saw the vehicle pass by, I don't know if it was fate or just a coincidence, but I knew I had to go help when I heard the impact.

"Doing what we do, you don't really think of the dangers you put yourself into, you just know there are other people in danger and need your help so you do what you have to do at any cost."

Amendolara said it's hard to receive accolades for an accident that ended in a fatality.

"It's nice to be recognized, but I feel I was just doing what any person would have done or hope they would have done in that situation," he said. "It's kind of hard to put into words the feelings I have toward the entire situation due to the loss of a young man's life."

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Friday, Sept. 18 issue of The Grove Sun.

Bits & Pieces: Life of Job?

It's been an interesting couple of weeks in the land of we, as the Lawman and I continue to create life outside of work.

Part of our world has been punctuated by a few, well, illnesses on my part.

Two weeks ago, what I initially thought was a rash turned into a full-blown case of the shingles.

For the record, I'm NOT old enough to get the shingles vaccine.

So instead of celebrating the last weekend of the summer - that beloved holiday known as Labor Day - doing something fun, the Lawman took care of me. Let's just say, I'm not the easiest patient to deal with.

Thank goodness, a very kind volunteer from Har-Ber Village. When I called out to the Country Store to ask about their famous oatmeal and lye soap, she not only took my order over the phone, she brought it to me as I finished the paper on Sept. 3.

I'm also grateful for the various folks that pitched in, and took pictures for me at the first home football game. I hated to miss it, but my pillow seemed to be a better choice.

The fun with shingles continued into the next week. I was just getting over them (at the not contagious stage) when I went to the Delaware County Bowl.

I love covering our "bowl" games. They are fun and the fans make great pictures.

If you've seen me in the last week, well, let's just say I got too close to one of the flag girls.

It all started because I got involved (ok absorbed) with taking a picture of the trumpet section of the band. As the music ended, I started to slipped around the drum major's stand to get in position for another picture.

That's when it happened. Apparently the flags don't finish at the same time as the band.

The poor unsuspecting flag girl brought her flag around for the finale. It just happened that her ending connected with my left eye. By fourth quarter, it was swollen, and by the next day, quite purple.

Never let it be said that I don't "throw" myself into the job.

Oh, did I mention the infection that landed in my right eye, or the crown that fell off of my tooth?

A friend asked me if I was trying out to be the next Job. I just laughed and shook my head.

So, if you see the Lawman, you might give him an extra hug or at least some condolences.

I'm slowly getting better and the land of we is going back to normal. We're still adjusting to married life, shared spaces, doing laundry and fixing meals.

In a few weeks, if all goes well, we're moving out of the apartment formerly known as "my" space, into our first "we" place.

I'm sure I'll have a few more stories to share. In fact, I can bet on it. Because if there's one thing I know, the land of we is full of laughs and a whole lot of fun.

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at khutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228.

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the Friday, Sept. 18 issue of The Grove Sun.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Images from the 09.18.15 issue of The Grove Sun

Spreading A Love of Learning
Ruth CartagenaNutter helps Emma Housel look up a word during the Grove Rotary Club's distribution of dictionaries to approximately 175 third graders at the Grove Lower Elementary School. Rotary club members have been presenting third grades with dictionaries for more than a decade. Each student received a dictionary which includes additional study helps such as the U.S. Constitution, biographies of each president, the periodic table and more. One student in Barbara Couch's class said "this is much better than Google," as she received her dictionary. Tim Johnson, with the Grove Rotary Club, said the dictionary is the first book owned by many students. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

 Starting Young At The Delaware County Fair

A young exhibitor gets a helpful hand during the annual bucket calf show, which took place Saturday, Sept. 12, during the 2015 Delaware County Free Fair. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

 Here Piggy Piggy
Four of the youngest competitors take part in the annual greased pig scramble, held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Delaware County Free Fair. Children in the 3- and 4-year-old division were each awarded a dollar bill for taking part in the event. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

Honorable Mention
Photos I loved, but didn't have space to put in the paper

Showing with Mom
Taylyn Alkine, 2,  answers questions from Charlotte Karnes (far right) while her mother, Jessica Alkine of Leach watches. This was the youngster's first experience showing calves in the bucket calf show at the Delaware County Free Fair. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun.

Watching the Action
Brothers Levi Summerfield, 5, and Cade Cash, 3, watch the action inside the show ring, during the livestock show at the 2015 Delaware County Free Fair, held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Jay. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun.

Cook-off blends fun, food at DelCo Fair

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller • khutson@grovesun.com
The aroma of spices and meat filled the air as the 10th Annual Road Kill Chili Cook-Off got underway on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.

The event, an annual fixture at the Delaware County Free Fair, drew cooks of all ages to create a pot of chili designed to win accolades.

The competition, organized by the Jay Chamber of Commerce, was open to individuals, as well as businesses, non-profits and school groups.

Saturday was Checota Sperry’s first foray into the world of cooking contests.
Checota Sperry, 15, a sophomore at Jay High School, dishes up chili for Harley Buzzard during the 10th Annual Road Kill Chilli Cook-Off, held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Delaware County Free Fair. Sperry won second place in the youth division. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun

A member of the Jay FFA, Sperry learned of the contest when her fellow FFA members began discussing the chapter’s entry.

“I decided I liked to cook and I wanted to enter for the fun of it,” Sperry said as she stirred her crockpot of chili. 
Grove FFA member Rylee Caswell jokes with Eugene Elliott as she serves him a bowl of chili during the 10th Annual Road Kill Chilli Cook-Off, held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Delaware County Free Fair. Caswell said she started with a recipe created by her father and brother, but continues to perfect it each year.  - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
It was the second year Grove FFA member Rylee Caswell entered the competition.

Caswell said her recipe was passed to her by her brother, Trent, and father, Tim, and is designed to be a sweet chili made with Blue and Gold products.

Caswell said she continues to perfect the mixture. This year she added hatch chili peppers to her chili, to give it a different flavor.

Lexie Farley, 13, stirs her pot of chili during the
10th Annual Road Kill Chili Cook-Off,
held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the
Delaware County Free Fair.
Farley won first place in the youth division.
- Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun
With five years under her apron, 13-year-old Lexie Farley was one of the youngest, and most experienced competitors at the event.

Farley’s mother, Becky, joked that she began entering the cook-off before she was old enough to brown her own meat.

Farley said she continues to improve her entry each year, adding and subtracting things in an attempt to create the perfect recipe.

Ultimately, Farley said, being in the competition gives her a chance to cook chili often with her father, Butch.

“It’s a daddy daughter thing, I’ve always done it with him,” Farley said.

In the end, Farley walked away with the first place in the youth division, while Sperry took second. Caswell, representing Grove FFA, took second place behind Jay FFA in the school division.


Mattie Haynes watches as Tristan Robinette serves chili to Jim Cameron during the 10th Annual Road Kill Chilli Cook-Off, held Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Delaware County Free Fair. The Jay FFA officer team won first place in the school division as well as the best decorated table and the best overall chili during the competition. - Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller / Grove Sun


10th Annual Chili Cook-Off Results

Best Decorated Table – Jay FFA.

Best Overall Chili – Jay FFA.

People’s Choice - Sarah Adams

Business Awards: 1st - Grand Savings Bank-Jay; 2nd - Subway; 3rd - Bank of Grove.

Church Awards: 1st – First Baptist Church, Jay.

Individual Awards: 1st – Sarah Adams; 2nd - Beverly Buzzard.

Youth Awards: 1st - Lexie Farley; 2nd - Checota Sperry.

Non-Profit: 1st – Delaware County Historical Society.

School: 1st – Jay FFA; 2nd – Grove FFA.

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Friday, Sept. 18 issue of The Grove Sun.
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