Sunday, February 7, 2016, 8:53 pm

The following editorial was submitted to www.chickashanow.com

Grady Memorial Hospital: Is it worth your time and effort?

​How many times have you been to GMH in the last year? For my family and myself, I can personally count on one hand how many times within the last year we have received care at GMH. With that being said, how many of you have checked with your insurance to see if GMH and its affiliates are covered under your insurance policy? I personally hadn't thought much about it myself, until the end of December when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma cancelled their Blue Choice policies. My family was forced to look into a new policy and try to figure out which one would be best for us. We chose to go with the Blue Preferred plan since it was more in depth coverage than the Blue Advantage plan. Both of these plans are the only options that individual policy owners have to choose from with BCBS.

​Everyone keeps talking about how we need the hospital and that they want the citizens of Grady County to fund the reconstruction of the Operating Rooms and also the Radiology Department. I was informed recently when I called BCBS that with the Blue Preferred plan we had chosen for my family, along with the Blue Advantage plan, citizens who had these policies would have to pay out-of-network costs to utilize GMH and their affiliates. How would you, as a citizen, like to pay this 1/4th cent sales tax for a hospital that you would have to pay extra to use in an emergency? Most citizens don't have that kind of extra money lying around. I know that I don't! If you did go to GMH, the BCBS Blue Preferred and Blue Advantage members would have only 20% of their whole bill covered compared to going somewhere else in the surrounding area that is in contract negotiations with BCBS and have 80% of their bill covered. That is a lot of difference to think about! I feel as if this whole tax vote is a pressured vote because there were many other options that could have been explored to fund the hospital, yet GMH wants the tax payers to fund something that some of the citizens won't be able to access unless they are willing to pay the huge out-of-network price difference.

​I want you to really sit down and think about this tax. It is a 14 million dollar expense to begin with, which would roughly cost $40 million with interest. It is $.25 of every $100 you spend in the county. The mortgage on the hospital would be 14 million for 20 years at a fixed 3.75% interest rate. A tax was passed in 2014 that was written the exact same way and was used to redo the Grady County Fairgrounds. The Grady county Tea Party was kind enough to gather the numbers from the County Clerk's office as to how much money was collected last year from the fairgrounds tax. The numbers were ran and if Grady County's revenue continues to slowly increase like it has over the last 10 years the GMH tax will become the biggest slush fund. The hospital did not allow for the estimated economy growth in the county when this tax was written. The county revenue as a whole has increased 10% in the last 10 years. Take that number and figure in 20 years with this tax. That is leaving GMH with an extra $121 million on the high end of the spectrum. That is a lot of extra money! Spellman was quoted at the Tea party debate Thursday night saying that if the tax did pass that he would use the extra money for "capital expenditures". What does "capital expenditures" have to do with a tax that is currently being promoted to fix the hospital?

​The next thing with this tax that I don't understand is why Rush Springs EMS and Tuttle EMS were included when they are both being funded by an Ad Valorem that has a current balance of $600,000. Also, the City of Rush Springs passed a city tax to help fund their personal EMS. I am all for helping the EMS but I personally feel that they were only included in this tax to only help sway votes in support of the tax.

This whole tax has been absolutely nothing but smoke and mirrors from the Hospital because they are not wanting to provide you, as citizens, with the proper information to make an informed vote. The Hospital could have easily applied for the USDA rural loans and they failed to do so because they probably understood the fact that they would only receive the money needed to fix the problem and not the extra that this slush fund tax would create. If you currently have an individual policy with BCBS and are not sure what policy your covered under please get in contact with your insurance provider or call BCBS directly and educate yourself to see if you would have to pay the out-of-network costs to use GMH or not.

So let me leave you with one final thought. Is it really worth your time to pass a tax that most people won't be able to benefit from due to GMH not being in contract with BCBS individual plans and also is it worth your hard earned tax money? It isn't to me!

An educated and concerned citizen,

Erica Wenzel


Friday, February 5, 2016, 9:08 am

2/4/16 0952 hours Possession of CDS 2000 block S 1st Street 16003352

Derik Kallstrom DOB 4/25/1990, was arrested for petit larceny from a retailer and possession of a CDS.

2/4/16 1950 hours DUI 1600 block W Grand Ave. 16003397

A traffic stop resulted in the driver Alfredo Baeza Jr being arrested for Operating a Motor Vehicle the Influence of Alcohol.

2/5/16 0601 hours Warrant Service 1400 block W Washington Ave 16003451

Aaron Robertson DOB 4/12/1990, was arrested for a Grady County Warrant.

Filed under: Crime

Friday, February 5, 2016, 6:17 am

Two performances scheduled for Feb. 26 and 27

The USAO Theatre Arts Department presents Bertolt Brecht's "A Life of Galileo" in translation by Mark Ravenhill. This masterpiece of epic theatre explores the conflict between scientific discovery and public belief. The brilliant Galileo must choose between sharing his knowledge about the universe and protecting his family from the terror of the Inquisition. Since being performed in Hollywood and New York in 1947, the play has become a classic in the world repertoire.

Tyler Woods, artistic director of Oklahoma City's Reduxion Theatre Company and member of Actor's Equity Association, is a guest artist at USAO and will appear in the title role of Galileo. The play is for adult audiences and opens Feb. 26 in the Davis Hall Little Theater at USAO in Chickasha.

WHAT: A Life of Galileo presented by USAO Theater Arts Department

WHEN: Feb. 26 and 27, 2016

7:30 p.m.

WHERE: University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

1727 West Alabama

Chickasha, OK 73018

Davis Hall Little Theater

COST: $10 general admission

Visuals:

Photo/video opportunities available in advance of opening night. Interview opportunities with actors/directors can be arranged before or after productions.

Media Contact: Christa Copeland | News Bureau | 405.924.0590 | ccopeland@usao.edu

Filed under: Entertainment

Friday, February 5, 2016, 6:15 am

The Cox City Baptist Church will be hosting a Valentine Dinner and Movie Night on Sunday, Feb. 14.

Dinner will be served by the Young Adults at 5:00 p.m. followed by the movie, War Room, at 6:00 p.m. This 2 hour movie will be shown in the church sanctuary on the projection screen over the stage.

Donations for the Young Adult Activities would be appreciated.

Bring your sweetheart, family, and friends and enjoy a dinner and a movie.

You may contact Pastor Bill H. Love at 405-756-8830 for more information.

Filed under: Local

Friday, February 5, 2016, 6:10 am

OSU/FST trainer Paddy Metcalf completed wildland training at CVTC last night.

28 firefighters participated and completed the 16 hour course.

Topics covered included but were not limited to: hand tool identification/use, apparatus types, fire behavior, incident command structure, direct and indirect extingushment methods.

75% plus of the firefighters and fire departments in protecting u in the State of Oklahoma are volunteer. Thank you to the volunteers for what you do.

Filed under: Local

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 11:59 pm

The Grady County Tea Party held a forum tonight at the Canadian Valley Technology Center to discuss the upcoming hospital tax.

Emotions were running high in the crowd of approximately 250 people and the attendees were actively engaged in the forum.

Mark Keeling, the leader of the Tea Party began the evening discussing the history of prior taxes that were placed on the ballot, including the Senior Nutrition Tax. Keeling stated that more money has been collected for the nutrition centers than was needed to feed the Seniors. Approximately $300,000 is currently sitting in the bank account untouched. Since the nutrition centers have surplus funds a new ballot proposal was submitted to the voters in the fall election to approve building new Senior Nutrition Center buildings. He explained that Pat Brooks had addressed the County Commission earlier in 2015 requesting that the Senior Nutrition Tax be split in two, part of which would go to the hospital and the other half to the nutrition center. He stated that this idea was turned down, and that the hospital decided to go for a tax all on their own, over and above what is needed to open the surgical center. Keeling also cited the most recent Grady County Firefighter tax that passed last fall, which is divided into the twenty run areas of Grady County. His point was that multiple taxes continue to be passed causing the tax rate to spiral out of control and that more money is collected than anticipated or needed for the original project. However, the end result is that the entity will spend what they receive and keep asking for more. He asked the question "When does this stop?"

Dr Kevin Crow USAO Professor of History was the moderator for the evening. The hospital panel included Nate Ellis, bond council, Ben Olgesby, financial advisor and Kean Spellman, GMH CEO. Several pieces of information distributed to the crowd contained conflicting sets of numbers that were being used to ascertain what the GMH tax will accumulate. The hospital believes the tax will generate approximately 40 million over the twenty year period, but the tea party believe the tax could generate as much as 80 million over the course accounting for a 4% growth rate. If the tax is passed a bond can then be obtained to fix the hospital and will have an interest rate of 3.75% for twenty years. Fourteen Million will be borrowed with a repayment amount of approximately twenty two million dollars.

The hospital cited the need for a new surgery ward and xray center due to the current facilities not passing a governmental inspection due to humidity issues. Listeners were told repeatedly that the hospital was in danger of closing if the tax did not pass because surgeries are an integral part of the hospital business. Spellman stated that the hospital had been profitable until the closing of the surgical ward, although not enough so that the hospital could obtain a loan on its own. The hospital is now losing approximately $300,000 per month. No lifesaving operations, no babies delivered and emergency transportation to another facility will cost the patient approximately $1,200 in ambulance fees.

Many local leaders have spoken out in support of the tax including Rev Morris Blakes of Sparrow Church Ministry, Senator Ron Justice, Pastor Kim Hayes of Bible Baptist Church, and Tim Elliot, Stanley Systems. Bill McVey, the last person to have surgery at GMH before the surgical ward was closed came out in support as well.

The Tea Party's main concerns seemed to lie with part of the tax going to the already funded EMS services of Tuttle and Rush Springs. According to the latest State Audit report, (www.sai.ok.gov) the Grady County EMS had over $600,000 in the bank after expenses and appears to be fully funded now. The Tea Party also seemed to be concerned that any extra money not spent on the new surgical and x-ray ward would be spent to build clinics in Tuttle and Rush Springs. The Tea Party would like the ballot language rewritten to only be for the needed fourteen million to fund the surgical ward, and not a 'slush fund' to spend on multiple capital expenditures not directly affiliated with the hospital.

The vote on this contentious issue takes place February 9th with early voting available now.


Thursday, February 4, 2016, 2:33 pm

It's Chocolate Time! Do you have a ticket?

It's CHOCOLATE time and you are invited! The 4th annual Chocolate Celebration, sponsored by the Friends of the Chickasha Public Library, is Thursday, February 11, 2016. It will be held from 5:00-7:00 pm in the Epworth Church Life Center at 4th and Iowa in Chickasha.

Look for the decorations in the north parking lot area which will show you the way to the CHOCOLATE!

This year there are 19 tables of delicious individual servings of chocolate treats, as well as tables of baked items for sale.

A ticket is $6 and entitles the guest to select six individual chocolate dessert items from the table sponsors.

A few tickets may be available at the door, but to ensure you get CHOCOLATE, please purchase a ticket by February 10. Tickets are available at the Library and from Friends of the Chickasha Public Library and the Table Sponsors.

The 19 table sponsors providing desserts include the AAUW, Altrusa Club of Chickasha, Barbara's Beauty Boutique, Chickasha Area Arts Council, Chickasha Community Theater, Chickasha Kiwanis Club, City of Chickasha Executive Team, First National Bank and Trust Company, GMH Auxiliary, Inspirational SCENTsations, Junior Social Workers, Lucile and Blue Bonnet OHCE, Noble Brother Tee's, P.E.O. Chapter FV, Rusty and Melissa, State Representative David Perryman, Story Time Moms and Friends, Sweet Creations and Triple C's (Christy, Cassidy, Chandra).

Corporate Gold Sponsors for the 4th annual Chocolate Celebration are Arvest Bank, Century 21/Mosley Agency, Chickasha Rotary Club, First National Bank and Trust Company, PEO Chapter CR, and Standley Systems; Silver Sponsors include Liberty National Bank, Chickasha Optimists and PEO Chapter DV.

The 4th annual Chocolate Celebration booklet of favorite Chocolate Recipes will be available for purchase, as well as the opportunity to become a member of the Friends of the Chickasha Public Library for only $5. New Friends members will receive a special gift.

Proceeds from the Chocolate Celebration will be used to continue renovations in the Children's Area of the Library and to help purchase a new microfilm machine for the Chickasha Public Library.

Contact info: Library 222-6075 and Angie 779-6969.

Filed under: Local

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 2:17 pm

25 year old Alvin William Jones was booked into Grady County jail on First Degree manslaughter charges on 02.03.2016.

The charges stemmed from a motor vehicle accident in the summer of 2015 which resulted in the death of Gordon Pipkin an Oklahoma Department of Transportation worker.

Mr. Pipkin was clearing weeds on the right of way when a SUV operated by Alvin William Jones left the roadway striking and killing Mr. Pipkin.

According to records Mr. William's state test for illegal substances showed positive for THC which is a metabolite found in marijuana.

Mr William's was taken into custody by the Grady County Sheriff's office on warrant CF-16-45 Manslaughter-First Degree.

Mr.William's bond was set at $500,000.00.

He was expected to appear in court on 02.04.2016 to enter a plea.

Filed under: Local

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 10:06 am

2/3/16 1234 hours Larceny of Merchandise from Retailer 2000 block S 1st St. 16003250

Officer arrested Juanita Orndorff DOB 9/30/1969 for shoplifting.

02/3/16 2125 hours Possession of CDS 2800 block S 4th St 16003299

A traffic stop resulted in driver Austin Branson DOV 12/17/1989, being arrested for traffic violations and possession of CDS.

Filed under: Crime

Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 5:02 pm

Mixed Media Picasso Faces is next First Saturday Morning Art Class

Children, ages 9 to 12, will create their very own Picasso in the next FREE First Saturday Morning Art Class. It will be on Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 10 to 11:30 am at 624 Chickasha Avenue in The Chickasha Art Center.

Adam and Amber Heilman will be teaching the class. Adam is President of the Chickasha Area Arts Council, a talented artisan and Manager of USAO's Printing Services where he oversees the printing of various projects and also helps to develop and create the designs. Amber is an art teacher in the Rush Springs Public Schools, a member on the CAAC Board of Directors and is an art teacher for CAAC's ArtScope, a two-week summer arts day camp for 8-12 year olds.

Adult caregivers are to accompany and stay with their children for the class.

This FREE arts class is sponsored and facilitated monthly by the Chickasha Area Arts Council (CAAC), a local non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

The CAAC arts class is limited to 15 children and pre-registration is required. A 'wait list' will be made.

Reservations are to be made by calling 405-222-4797 or 405-314-3307 or by emailing info@chickashaarts.org.

Give the (1) name of child, (2) birthday of child, (3) name of person accompanying the child, (4) a contact phone number and (5) an email address, if available. An email confirmation will be returned to those registering by email.

The CAAC is extremely grateful to the First National Bank and Trust Company of Chickasha, the Junior Social Workers of Chickasha and the Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) for funding the monthly First Saturday Morning Art Classes for children.

Filed under: Local