Lawton Constitution

All clips featured on this page were published during my internship employment at The Lawton Constitution.

Dates: May 27, 2014- July 21, 2014

Volunteens get a feel for medical, technical fields

Teens from local high schools are getting the chance to work with medical professions as part of Southwestern Medical Center’s Volunteen program.

Southwestern’s program throws 17 local teens into their desired areas of the medical field to learn from doctors and work with patients to further expand their knowledge about the profession. Many teens attend the program without a precise idea of where they want to work, while others have it all planned out and are just looking for the experience to launch them into a career in medicine or otherwise.

From June 2 through the first week of August, each teen works several days throughout the week, depending on their schedule, and they get to chose where they want to learn about various medical topics. Anna Marie Ochsner heads the program at Southwester and she believes this program helps build life skills, not just medical experience. There are many chances for collaboration and group involvement, including a trip each year to broaden the teen’s idea of the medical field.

The volunteens went on a trip to the Duncan Learning Center, where representatives from the Duncan Hospital taught them the basic needs of a patient. They had several mannequins on beds where the teens practiced physically moving a patient from one area to another. They also let them experience what it’s like to be a handicapped patient, letting the teens use crutches and go through small areas with wheelchairs. Ochsner and the hospital plan a trip for the teens every year. Ten of the hospital’s 17 volunteens were able to participate in the trip this summer, and after their trip, Anna Marie treated the group to Braums.

“It was a good experience for the teens, and they really enjoyed it,” she said. “It’s nice when they don’t want to leave by the end of the trip.”

Ochsner says it’s not an easy process to become a volunteen. There is a process every kid needs to go through. After the application is submitted, there is an extensive background check, drug screenings and an orientation.

Lawton Christian Junior Jazz Johnson, 16, and Senior Carlo Williams, 16, both agree the program provides more than just medical experience. After talking about their future, Johnson and Williams realized they both want to attend Baylor University and plan on becoming roommates.

Williams is in his second year of the program and wants to major in Biology and then hopefully get into med school, which he hopes will result in working for a hospital. Johnson is in his first year of the program and has taken all of his tests to move on to higher education and is looking at going to Baylor, majoring in Chemistry and earning a minor in Mathematics. Johnson then wants to go to medical school, and finally complete a radiology residence in Dallas, Texas.

Johnson and Williams work together in the short stay area of the hospital, but they each have different areas they spend their time. Johnson also works in engineering, and radiology is what he enjoys most about the experience. Even though his dad works in the hospital as a surgeon, Johnson did not retain any “surgeon genes.”

“I’m not too good with cutting people open,” Johnson said. “I’m really interested in radiology because I like medicine, science and technology, and I’m also a pretty big nerd. So for me, radiology is the perfect place to stick me.”

Johnson loves the atmosphere and the people working around him.

“Whenever you are working with a big group, there are always going to be those people who are mean, but for the most part everybody is nice here, and I love it,” he said. “People treat me well and it just works out nicely for me.”

In the short stay area the two help wheelchair patients out of the hospital whenever they are recovering from anesthesia, clean beds and fold them up. Williams enjoys these duties, but working with the orthopaedic surgeons is where he likes to spend the most time because he gets to watch surgeries and clean up afterward. The experience has been highly constructive for Williams.

“I wanted some experience before I entered college and see what I what I was getting myself into,” he said. “I wanted to see if I really felt like going to med school or go into the health field at all, and this is good for helping me decide.”

The orthopaedic surgeries have given Carlo the idea that maybe he wants to work in the same field of medicine.

“It’s really beneficial. The patients are either those ones who are really bad to you or you have the nice patients who compliment you and are nice, which is rewarding.”

Jackson Beach, 16, and Michaela Rutledge, 16, both of Elgin High School, work together in the engineering department where they learn about fixing and maintaining the hospital instead of the patients. In his first year with the program, Beach also works in physical medicine and his favorite part of the program is working with the air handlers on the roof of the building.

Beach plans on getting a degree at the University of Central Florida after high school and become a chiropractor.When Beach would go to his chiropractic physician growing up, he always was curious as to what was going on with his bones and the volunteen program has helped him learn from the practice.

“I’ve learned a lot about the hospital and medicine in general,” Beach said. “I feel like everybody is friendly and we joke around and making connections here at the hospital will be beneficial.”

Rutledge is in her third year with the program, working five days a week in several departments. Rutledge enjoyed the program so much the first year, she ended up returning for two more summer programs. After school she wants to attend Oklahoma State University and become a radiologist.

“I enjoy all the stuff the Radiology people get to do,” she said. “They take the X-rays and see what’s wrong with the broken bones, and I like that.”

One of the older teens in the program, Cache junior Jessie Froysland, 17, is in her first year with the program working six different areas throughout the week including accounting, surgical, medical and radiology. Her favorite is a tie between radiology and accounting.

“There is just more to do than the other departments,” she said. “It keeps me busy and it’s interesting.”

Froysland wants to go into criminal justice after high school, and she is planning on spending her first two years of school at Cameron and then hopefully transfer to Harvard.

“I want to be a JAG officer preferably,” she said. “I like to talk and I like to argue, which are good qualities for a lawyer.”

Froysland learned about the program from her sister, who works in pre-op at the hospital, is one of the many teens who wanted to volunteer for the benefit of adding hours to go toward their college career.

Radiology loyal Danielle Lewis, 15, is a sophomore at MacArthur and is in her second year of the program. While many teens want to spread out and get a feel for what they would enjoy doing one day, Lewis already has scoped out her options and found the best fit. In the radiology department, Lewis learns about the X-ray process and the details that go into bone examination. Her favorite part is the people she gets to work with every day.

“I like it here because sometimes I might be having a bad day and the doctors will just smile and be nice to me, which can brighten up my whole day,” she said.

Her mom volunteered at the hospital, which sparked her own interest. Her first year working in the volunteen program gave her the idea of becoming a radiologist. She wanted to be a teacher, but after her second year with the program, she’s quickly changing her mind. She has her eyes set on Midwestern College in Altus because of their radiology program.

Not all of the volunteen positions are medically oriented. First year Cache freshman Ryan Hazzard, 14, works in the information services department where he works with computer programming, but also sets up computers and towers. Before this year, information services did not have a volunteen, but Hazzard seems to have found the best place for him because of his love for math and computers.

“I just knew the basics before this, but I wanted to learn more about computer technology,” he said. “In the beginning, I thought I would be working with patients, and I’m not really a people person, and then I found out I can work with computers and how there are more things to do here than just work with patients.”

He’s learning how to repair computers, but what makes this his favorite thing to do out of his many hospital duties is the constant learning opportunities. Hazzard has his goal set on working for Microsoft one day, but the volunteen program has opened his eyes to more possibilities. Hazzard plans to return next year and work in the information services area again.

Ochsner is happy to see the teens build relationships each day and is planning on a trip in August to reward the volunteens for all of their hard work this summer.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Protesters from both sides line interstate overpass at Rogers Lane

Political organization Overpasses for America collaborated with several other groups to hold a protest at the Rogers Lane and I-44 overpass, questioning the government’s (specifically President Obama) handling of the unaccompanied minors housed at Fort Sill.

Overpasses founder James Neighbors says the groups primary directive is removing the president from office.

“He has violated his oath of office countless times and nothing is done to him,” Neighbors said. “He leaves our boarder wide open and collaborates with the Mexican president, agreeing to house them here, which is basically a soft invasion of the United States.”

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., protestors from all over the state shared their views with the traveling public about the current state of American immigration. Not everyone standing on the Rogers Lane overpass Saturday was against the presence of the unaccompanied minors. Counter protestors stood on the overpass sharing their view as well, asking passerby’s what they would do it it were their children.

Overpasses began in June 2013 and Neighbors says the movement has spread all over the country in their attempt to notify the public about the president’s actions.

“Prior to us coming here, no one would even mention the word impeach,” Neighbors said. “Now we have more than three dozen members of congress saying they will file it.”

Along with Overpasses, Neighbors says the Two Million Bikers organization and Internet supporters showed up to help promote their cause.

Published by The Lawton Constitution

Scooters assault reported

In the parking lot of Scooters Bar around 10 p.m. last Monday night, Scooters security personel reportedly assaulted Guissette Ocasio after he attempted to enter the facility, sending him to the hospital with several injuries.

According to police reports, Lawton Police arrived on the scene shortly after the altercation, where Ocasio reported he was in the south parking lot with his girlfriend, Rachel Holterman, when the security officers advised them to leave because the bar was closing. Ocasio said one of the members of the club’s security personel insulted Holterman’s appearance. Ocasio stated he then said he did not appreciate the way they were speaking to his girlfriend.

According to the police report, one of the bouncers then placed Ocasio under a choke hold until he was unconcious, then threw him to the ground. The witness, Holterman, said all the security officers then continued to assault Ocasio while he was on the ground unconscious. Reportedly, the officers then walked away without any further altercations.

An ambulance responded to Scooters and transported him to the hospital where his injuries were treated. The Lawton Police report many of the injuries sustained were contusions and abrasions to several areas of the body and heavy swelling to the face, but no major or life-threatening injuries were reported.

A follow-up of Ocasio’s medical state has not been conducted, and no charges against Scooter’s security personel have been filed at this time.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

‘The Purge: Anarchy’ slightly better than mediocre predecessor 


The 99 percent rise up again in director James DeMonaco’s second annual Purge.

“The Purge: Anarchy” is the sequel to last year’s suprise box office hit, “The Purge,” which was not critically praised, but the predecessor’s ticket sales have sparked a more intriguing sequel.

The sequel does well to tear away the negative aspects of the first installment. “The Purge” was distracting and had several misleading sub-plots. Ethan Hawke played a father who was the brain behind an expensive home protection system. When members of the the community outside his neighborhood gates aimed to break through his fortress, Hawke’s character had to protect his family from teenagers who didn’t exactly look to be part of the 99 percent. The preppy leader was too animated for his own good and confused more people than frightened them.

The sequel throws us out into the streets on purge night, which was a much needed improvement. Much like the first film, “Anarchy” is full of social critique and standard horror tropes with a repeating tune of “the wealthy wicked must be overthrown.”

In 2023, The New Founders of America actively advertise the right to purge one night a year, where citizens live in a nation with no laws for 12 hours. It is seen as a “soul cleansing” experience and is believed to keep crime down throughout the year because people can let out their unpleasant aggression during the course of one night.

According to the New Founders, after nine years of purging, the country has seen diminishing unemployment and crime rates since the Purge’s institution, but the streets are the last place common citizens should be during the Purge.


A daring couple pushes the limit, staying out too close to Purge time. They are driving home to their children when their car runs out of gas, stranding them outside as the Purge commences. Another man hits the streets, seeking to avenge his murdered son, while a mother and daughter flee the scene of their destroyed home. These five people all come together to attempt the seemingly impossible; survive Purge night on the streets of Los Angeles.

Throughout the evening the group runs into the obvious maniacal psychopaths, wealthy connoisseurs looking for a fun way to spend their money, amateur street gangs and unknown entity who is more dangerous than all of the prior threats combined.

Even with the New Founder’s constant attempts to relieve the public of stress with claims of the Purge being beneficial for society, the people of the nation have mixed opinions. Some save up all year for a night of battle and post-apocalyptic behavior, while the wealthy are perceived as cowardly, shacking up in their mansions and hiring people to run around like puppets. The middle and working class seem to have one of tow options; participate or lock up and pray your residence is left alone for 12 hours.


To many, the Purge is seen as a scheme only in place to exploit the underprivileged and benefit the wealthy. Carmelo (Michael K. Williams) has plans to lead a revolution against the New Founders and their annual tradition, which could lead to a trilogy for the franchise, regardless of whether we want it.

DeMonaco returns to write and direct the sequel with partners Michael Bay (“Transformers” franchise) and Brad Fuller (“The Amityville Horror”). Producer Andrew Form brings his horror experience to the crew as well. Form has been a part of several successful modern horror reboots including “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003), but as we saw in the first film, this does not guarantee critical praise.

It’s evident DeMonaco is taking the side of the 99 percent, praising them without much artistic pizzazz. Even with his direct, poverty proclamation, “The Purge: Anarchy” prospers where its predecessor failed, but expect only a slight increase in critic approval, which wasn’t high to begin with.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:


Camp takes kids on a five-day world tour

Wednesday was Japan day at Owens Recreational Center, where local kids learned about Japanese culture through crafts, performances and exercise.

The Lawton Parks and recreation Department is hosting Around the World in Five Days, a free summer camp for area kids to learn about foreign cultures. Each day has a different national theme; Monday was Africa; Tuesday the kids learned about Mexico; Wednesday was Japanese culture day; Thursday will cover England and different currencies; and Friday the camp returns to America where the Fort Sill Band will perform for the children.

Parks and Recreation Activities Coordinator Michell Rosario sends out a notice about the free program to all the school systems and daycare facilities throughout the community and is always pleased with the response from attending kids.

“We wanted to make sure everyone in the community and surrounding communities knew this was a free program,” Rosario said. “It’s all educational and fun and exciting for the kids to learn about different cultures.”

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day the kids take part in crafts and watch guest performances pertaining to the day’s theme. Lawton Public Schools provides lunch and Rosario is thankful for their help and the support from civic groups in the community and local high schools donating recyclables for crafts and contributing snacks for the kids.

Wednesday was Japanese culture day, where four groups of kids ranging from 3-15 years old learned different aspects of the language and how to write certain words. After activities such as archery and sack races, the kids come together in their individual classes each day before the leaving to discuss what they have retained from the day’s topics.

The camp takes place every year and Rosario says next year’s should happen around the same date within the three locations the camp takes place; HC King Center, Patterson Center and Owens Recreation Center.

For more information about the program and how you can get involved, contact Rosario at mrosarilo[AT]

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Eager teens learn about medical career potential

The Volunteen program at Memorial Hospital throws eager teens into different areas of the medical field to broaden their perspective of the practice as a whole.

Volunteer service head Connie Holcomb heads a group of 76 volunteens from local hospitals looking for early medical experience. Fliers with detailed descriptions of the specific volunteering needs at the hospital are sent out to the teens so they can pick the best options for them. She sends these with applications all over the area, even stretching to Cache and Sterling. The teens spend several days a week at the hospital from June 1 to July 31 getting hands on experience from professionals in their desired practice.

“The volunteens we have in our program this year are being exposed to many aspects of healthcare, giving them the opportunity to work hands on in an area they are interested in,” Holcomb said. “The program continues to grow from year to year and I think it’s because more and more young people are realizing the value of this opportunity, not only for the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile with their summer, but for all the educational benefits that it has to offer.”

Holcomb and Memorial believe volunteering is an excellent way for a teenager to prepare for the future, because they can get realistic views of the workplace while enhancing their knowledge of a healthcare related career.

The program started with around 25 kinds and it has grown exponentially. Memorial had the opportunity to receive 100 teens for the program this year, but there are only so many placement opportunities in the hospital. With too many teens volunteering, Holcomb fears there would have been too many kids standing around and not receiving the proper experience. The hospital try to get the teens to stay active, but at times there are duties that maybe aren’t so fun.

“In the beginning it used to be a lot of filing, but we are tying to get them into areas they are interested in so they can see how it actually works,” she said. “We want them to do more than just file. It’s teaching them the real environment, and we tell them it’s not going to be fun stuff to do every day. There will be things you don’t want to do, but you have to.”

Most of the teens work in four hour shifts, which turn into volunteer hours at their respected schools. A teen will usually come in at 8 a.m. and works in a certain area until noon, then a second teen fills the spot from 1-5 p.m.

Holcomb and Memorial try to get the teens into areas they want to be in, but pharmacy, emergency and administration are usually full of kids who want experience in those areas. So Holcomb wants kids who are looking at the program to consider all of the different areas volunteens can lend a hand. Even the smallest tasks provide beneficial skills for the teens. The hospital provides resources, such as a pay grade sheet, for the teens that will help improve their idea of where they want to go in the medical field.

Around half of the teens volunteering are return volunteers, which is an opportunity the hospital enjoys giving the teens. All of the teens, regardless of whether they are returning, must go through an orientation seminar, which goes over policies sand procedures. The teens sign contracts at the orientation stating that everything they see or hear stays at the hospital, because it can be a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality.

After the program concludes, there is an evaluation process where the teens sit down with Holcomb and discuss their experience. Many of these teens go on to Volunteer at the hospital as an adult, and some even end up working for the hospital.

Esther Park, 16, works in the orthopedic area of the hospital and is the only volunteen in this section of the hospital. Park will be starting her junior year at Lawton High School and this is her third summer working at Memorial as a volunteen. Some of the duties Park does on a daily basis included helping with castings, injections and cleaning rooms after each patient leaves.
Park wants to eventually work as an orthopedic surgeon.

“I started volunteering after 8th grade during the summer before my first year of high school,” she said. “I heard about it from the announcements in the morning at school.”

Park gets to work closely with volunteens who attend Lawton High as well, making it easier for her to be comfortable. The doctors also work closely with Park and the other volunteens, actively placing them it situations where they can learn.

“I get to experience really cool things like casting arms, restocking equipment and sometimes I get to watch injections,” she said. “Out of everything in the body, I’ve always felt like the bones are the most important. At first I wanted to become just a surgeon, but now I really want to be an orthopedic surgeon.”

Even though Esther hasn’t had to endure any injuries requiring her to wear a cast, her favorite part about the programming is watching the casting process.

Amira Rachie, 14, works in the pharmacy and radiology department. Rachie is part of the youngest age group who can qualify to be a volunteen. She will be entering her first year of high school this fall at Eisenhower.

Rachie is one of the many volunteens using this program as a launching pad for career ideas.

“I was hoping to get some ideas from this,” she said. “I don’t really have any plans. I was planning on going to the Air Force Academy or be an accountant in the FBI.”

Many of the teens change their mind during or after their volunteen experience. Holcomb says one of the better parts of the program is the spark kids get with this hands on approach. Rachie finds nursing a suitable career choice as well after her time at memorial.

“It’s good working here,” she said. “It gives you social skills you need and teaches you how to help others.”

Her friend, Victoria Sustaita, is also in the volunteen program. Sustaita’s mom works in the hospital, which is how Rachie heard about the program. Rachie says she loves working the staff and seeing patients, but there are things that are not as fun as others.

“There is a lot of paper work, but you get that everywhere,” she said.

Out of all her duties, Rachie’s favorite part is delivery.

“You get to see all the different parts of the hospital with delivery,” she said. “I also love ER. No one comes in with the same injury so you see something different every day. Being able to help them makes me feel like I can do something for people and not feel useless.”

Sustaita, 14, will also be entering her first year at Eisenhower High School, making this her first year in the program. She is looking at the possibility of becoming a pharmacist, so her position in the volunteen program is exactly where she wants to be volunteering.

“You do a lot of different things here every day and it’s never really the same thing,” she said. “It’s actually a lot of fun and I enjoy it a lot.”

Her mom works for the hospital and helped her come up with several options for what Victoria would be interested in doing.

“In pharmacy, you get to work with the medication and the new machines to see how all of that works out.”

Victoria’s favorite part is waking up and getting to the pharmacy early.

“I love seeing everyone smiling and saying ‘good morning,'” she said. “It feels comforting like I’m welcome here.”

Holcomb opens up all areas of the hospital for volunteens to experience, even it that means volunteering in non-medical areas such as the gift shop.

Madison Dudley, 17, graduated from Eisenhower High School this spring, making her one of the older volunteens in the program. Dudley’s mom works at the hospital, which is the how she learned about the program.

“I really wanted to work in the hospital, but I’m one of those people where blood and that kind of stuff makes me queezy,” she said. “So they were able to find something where I could make a difference in the hospital, and I didn’t have to work directly with patients.”

Her duties include helping with merchandise sales, delivering packages to hospital guests and helps in admitting. She also help with events such as The Spirit of Survival.

“I do most of the non-medical things, but I still get to work with patients when it comes to taking orders and delivery presents to patients.”

Dudley wants to work as a Journalist and is going to attend DePaul University majoring in Communications and International studies this fall.

Working in the hospital gives Dudley practice with vital life skills.

“I’m learning customer service and management,” she said. “I have all these new skills now, and if I don’t necessarily go into writing right away like I want to, I still have a back up plan.”

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Volunteers install new playground equipment

With the help of community members, Swinney Elementary School will have a new, adequate playground for their special needs students.

Leadership Lawton Fort Sill Class 24, with the help of Swinney school staff, military personel and other community volunteers, spent their $49,000 in fundraising to update the special needs playground at Swinney Elementary. Leadership Lawton is an organization that pulls together leaders within the community, giving them opportunities to tour city facilities and see where fundraising money can be spent to improve the quality of living in the Lawton.

The class has to come up with a consensus on their own of where to use funds, and class spokesperson Brandi Whatley, after deliberating with her class members, felt Swinney had the greatest need.

“The decision resembles the heart of the class, and I can honestly say that is the case here,” she said. “We decided early on we were going to do a project that had something to do with children. Through the selection process, we decided we wanted to focus on special needs students, and we ended up picking a playground, because there isn’t anything in Lawton that is suitable for special needs students to enjoy the outdoors.”

Volunteers arrived at Swinney around 7 a.m. Friday morning, planning the project and getting everyone organized. They started with one of the swing set pieces and moved on to building more of many of the playground’s features including a merry-go- round, touch and sound panels, several rest areas and a central play station. The playground is focused on meeting the demands of special needs children, but all the school children and children in the community will be able to utilize the land.

“It was quite a process to figure it all out, and even after that we had to raise the right amount of funds to complete the project,” Whatley said. “We were very successful in our fundraising so we were able to do a lot more than we could have hoped for.”

The class was able to earn more than double their fundraising goal through events such as an American Legion benefit concert and barbecue, a golf tournament, Goodwill donation drives, Zumbathon, a Toyota raffle and other events. Swinney classrooms also pitched in on the fundraising effort. Many teachers held events like “wear your pajamas to school,” where kids had to pay $2 to wear their bedtime gear to class.

Contributions didn’t just come from the city of Lawton, but many outside influences with connections to the school also contributed to the fundraising, including past students and staff family members. These contributions helped Class 24 raise nearly $50,000 in just two and a half months.

“We went with a $20,000 goal, knowing we could make a difference with that,” Whatley said. “The fundraising went so well we ended up doing more than we thought we would.”

The extra money left over will go toward other future improvements for the school. Principle Traci Newell is proud of what her students were able to raise for themselves.

“The students did fundraisers themselves during the day like a valentine dance,” Newell said. “They really embraced it and didn’t want it to be something that was just given to them, but they wanted a hand in it, too.”

One the biggest problems media committee chairman Lauren Rudicel noticed with the old playground was the entire set was metal. She said with the 100 degree plus weather Oklahoma can see, kids find it painful to play on the equipment. The new set is more heat-friendly, keeping metal components at a minimum.

Fort Sill military personel came out to help as well, dropping their formal gear and sporting Lawton Leadership T-shirts. Captain Samuel Flaming, along with nearly 20 other members of the 4-3 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, was there to lend a hand and says the military are all here to serve in one way or another, whether it’s deployment or helping out at home.

“We heard they were building a playground in the community, and a lot of us love to give back, so we got some names together to help out,” Flaming said. “A lot of us are from all over the country, and this is our home for at least the next couple of years while we are here, so we want to make it a better place.”

Class 24 plans on finishing the site Saturday afternoon, and they say the whole experience could not have gone better.

For more information about Leadership Lawton and Class 24, call Rudicel at (580) 580-5740 or visit the class’s website at

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Library to hold session on new app

The Lawton Public Library is expanding their services to the cloud, as e-books have hit the virtual shelves this month.

The library’s website is now the new way to gain access to your favorite books without having to leave the house. Library card holders can borrow popular digital media anytime and anywhere when they visit and click on the OverDrive link.

OverDrive is a leading multichannel digital distributor of eBooks, digital audiobooks, music and video. They supply a secure lending platform for 22,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide with support for all devices. The Cleveland based company has been named to the EContent 100 for their user compatibility.

This new OverDrive powered service is free for users with a library card. Users may browse the library’s website, borrow titles with a valid library card, and enjoy the program on all major computers and devices, including iPhone, iPad, Nook, Android phones and tablets and Kindle. These digital books can be read immediately on any device with an Internet browser, and all titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, making late fees a thing of the past.

The system automatically returns the e-book. After 14 days the content disappears from the device, but can be easily checked out again. The program allows card holders to check out five books at one time and soon they will allow those same card holders access to virtual DVD rentals.

To gain access to the library’s e-book database, you must have a valid library card, a piece of mail received within the last 30 days, a valid picture ID and all library fines must be paid off.
Library director Kristin Herr aims to please customers with this new program.

“This is the number one request we get,” Herr said. “People know that friends and family in other cities can borrow e-books, but it has been a long time coming for the Lawton community.”

Now individuals can get best-selling and classic titles from the comfort of their home, even when the library is closed.

Because the Lawton Public Library joined the Oklahoma Virtual Library, there are already lots of e-books available for checkout and more than 65 other public libraries in Oklahoma participate.
For further information regarding this service or any other library service, please contact the Lawton Public Library at 580.581.3450.

The library will also provide an OverDrive support help session from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, which will focus on helping card holders learn the new system. They are requesting anyone wanting to attend to bring their devices and any knowledge they have regarding the program.

Published by The Lawton Constitution

12-year-old designs new library card

The Lawton Public Library has a new library card, and the artistic credit goes to a 12-year-old Lawton resident.

During their promotion for National Library Week in March, the library held a bookmark contest. Library Director Kristin Herr was looking to revamp the library card image to appeal to all ages, so if there was an outstanding design during the contest, they would use it for their new library card image.
Eighth grade student at Tomlinson Middle School Meckenzie Weaver was the most appealing to the library staff with her “read” theme.

“We though Meckenzie’s entry stood out above the rest, and we were super excited,” Herr said. “Since the bookmarks and library cards were different sizes, we needed to find a drawing that would work well with both sizes and would appeal to kids and teens.”

Several years ago when Herr became the library director, they had the “old” library cards and felt they needed to be revamped. Herr wanted to have a community photo contest, but the stock of library cards was running low, forcing them to hold the contest among the library staff. Children’s Assistant Beth Knighton’s buffalo picture won, but since then the library has received several requests to have a kid friendly card, but the staff could not decide on a design or artwork style to use for the new card.

“We asked Meckenzie if we could turn her art work into a library card and she said yes,” Herr said. “We worked with Lucas Color Card in Oklahoma City and they fixed it all up.”

Now library card members have a choice between the buffalo card of Meckenzie’s “read” card. She started drawing at the age of 7, but has several other hobbies.

“I like drawing butterflies and words outlined with a cool design for a personal touch,” she said. “I also love reading. It takes me on an adventure whenever I’m sad or lonely.”

Meckenzie found out about the contest through her sister’s volunteer involvement with the library. Meckenzie says she loves going into the library to see her sister and check out all of the latest movies and books, but her favorites are the classics. When it comes to drawing, she knows her forte.

“I can’t draw people, she said. “I see other artists draw amazing 3D art, but I can’t do that yet, so I find my strength in making designs and bookmarks.”

Lucas Color Art featured Mackenzie’s work at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas. Her card was shown off to librarians across the country as an exceptional library card example.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

‘Pacesetters’ get United Way off to fast start

United Way of Southwest Oklahoma kicked off their annual fundraising effort with the Pacesetter Luncheon at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

At noon, the Oakwood room at Memorial Hospital was full of agencies looking to put fundraising money in the hands of the charitable United Way foundation. The United Way funds local agencies and their various programs that address community issues.

The campaign will be running July through September with 14 local businesses leading the way for the community as Pacesetter Companies. United Way of Southwest Oklahoma’s Executive Director Lauren Ellis plans to beat last year’s fundraising total of $1.5 million.

“This luncheon gives us a nice head start on our campaign goal, which is $1.69 million,” she said. “Last year we raised $1.5 million and the pacesetter event alone raised 57 percent of that amount, so these companies are really great partners and we really appreciate their support.”

United Way is grateful for these organizations providing the right amount of momentum and enthusiasm to meet the needs of the community through more than 60 community-based programs. This early campaign is primarily to “set the pace” for the United Way fundraising campaign, officially starting in September.

Ellis says these agencies work around the clock making sure enough money is raised to help the people they serve every day.

“Our agencies are our life blood, so the money we raise, the more money we can give them so that they can serve more people,” Ellis said. “I have a really strong passion for united way. It’s the greatest way to give to one organization, but support so many others. Just visiting our agencies, we see the need and how they work so hard on such limited budgets, so anything we can do to help not only the agencies, but those they serve is our mission.”

Some of the companies helping kickoff the campaign include Adventure Travel, Arvest Bank, Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Fort Sill Federal Credit Union, Lawton Food Bank, the Great Plains Improvement Foundation and many more.

United Way campaign chairman Los Irizarry believes the three step process of focusing on education, income and health are vital to achieving their goal.

“The pacesetter companies are fantastic,” he said. “They are able to go ahead and really get us on track, making sure our goal can be achieved. Some agencies, like Target, have already stepped up and provided funds toward this campaign.”

Irizarry’s connection to Lawton is something he takes pride in and looks to use his passion to help the people of the city.

“You think about those folks in need, you think about the shelters or what the salvation army does for young men and women in Lawton,” he said. “You think about all of these agencies that provide not only assistance, but leadership. Lawton, to me, is my home. I came her four years ago and I see Lawton as a fine jewel of southwest Oklahoma and we have so many excellent people that do great things. This is just part of that whole process of being able to know I can give my time and effort to something that is valuable.”

For more information about what United Way of Southwest Oklahoma is doing in your area, visit

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Drunk driving targeted on July 4 weekend

As part of a statewide enforcement effort for the July 4th holiday weekend, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and numerous law enforcement agencies will be operating a special enforcement patrol, impaired driving checkpoints and safety checkpoints from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Local patrols will take place in Comanche County and the Lawton city limits. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will also be conducting saturation patrols in different locations within the Troop G geographical area throughout the July 4th holiday.

The majority of state troopers are assigned to one of 13 regions in Oklahoma. Lieutenant Joe Williams is the Troop G supervisor, patrolling Comanche and the surrounding counties including Grady, Stephens, Jefferson and Cotton.

According to data compiled through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during July 4th holiday period, between 2008 and 2012, 765 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more. These fatalities account for 40 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities during this same five-year period.

Lieutenant Joe Williams is the Troop G supervisor and, much like every year, plans to crack down on impaired holiday driving.

“We have transitioned into a regional task force through Oklahoma Highway Patrol,” Williams said. “We don’t bring in troopers from all over the state, but just from this select group.”

Saturation patrols are different than checkpoints. An average saturation patrol consists of three to seven troopers and a supervisor, such as Williams, who patrol areas where they know there have been several crashes and various vehicle issues. Any vehicle that may be in question, swerving, unnatural speeds, etc., will be be stopped. These issues will be a target for Troop G and the same system will be taking place in every other section in the state.

“We usually do checkpoints on holidays, and because the day falls on Friday, it makes it more of a festive event and more impaired drivers will be out,” Williams said. “If you’re going out, make sure to be extra cautious, be aware of who is with you and make sure to have a designated driver. If not, don’t be behind the wheel, because we will be out in force. It’s not just us on patrol, everyone will be at full capacity during the evening hours looking for impaired drivers.”

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Rain barrel transfer system helps collect water

Karen Woodward grew up in a small farm town where conservation was key, and now as the state is in the midst of another draught, water is the least of her problems.

Twelve rain barrels cover Woodward’s Lawton residence where she has an intricate conservation and transfer system she’s picked up from friends and several live auctions. For around $40 a barrel, Woodward can hold gallons of water by the hundreds. Through shopping at Atwoods and Sams Club, she has been able to find the best deals for water conservation.

Three years ago, a friendly neighbor got Woodward interested in fresh water collecting through live barrel auctions, where local conservers come together to exchange barrels and water conservation tools.

For Karen, It’s a hobby, but also a great use of Earth’s natural resources. Growing up on a farm, she has experience with using the resources most people take for granted.

“It just makes sense to collect the water that’s falling instead of using the city’s supply,” she said. “When we are in a drought like this, it just seems smart to use the free supply.”

Woodward grew up in Fort Supply, a small farm town with a population of 330, according to a 2010 census. She retired 7 years ago after working for the American Red Cross providing emergency services. Before being transferred to Fort Sill in 2000, Woodward was stationed in Korea on a military instillation.

She has found her farming roots again with her water conservation practices. With three barrels in the front of the house, three on the side and six in the back yard, Woodward is quickly minimizing her eco footprint.

At auctions, many barrels are painted for a better appearance. Karen likes the camouflage look so the barrels aren’t too much of an eye sore on her property.

“I’m not a very good painter, but I thought I would go with camouflage,” she said. “It blends in and it’s easy to do.”

One barrel in her front yard has this camouflage tone, but two of the other front yard barrels are so well blended it’s difficult to notice them at first. Once the faucets at the base and side are recognized, you can see how she uses them for different streams and hose attachments. The barrels rest inside a cement cast to hide them from view. Each barrel has a filter system at the top, which keeps the gutter water running into the top of the barrel as fresh as possible. The filter is a net-like piece that is fastened over the barrel’s entry point. Above the entry point on each barrel is a gutter end, placing the roof’s water runoff into each barrel. This system took some time to figure out for Woodward.

“Sometimes you don’t know how flat your land is,” she said. “Some water falls off the house more heavily in one area than another, and that’s something we have had to figure out and place more barrels in those areas.”

Woodward says she had to figure out a way to keep collecting rain after reaches its limit, and a transfer system was created. Dale Woodward, Karen’s stepson, helped her create a transfer system she never even thought of utilizing. A hose is connected to the faucet at the base of one barrel. Then, at the base of another barrel, the other end of the hose is connected to that barrel’s faucet, leveling out the two barrels and collecting as much fresh rain water as possible.

“Water finds it’s own level,” she said. “I didn’t know that, and now it makes for easy transferring.”

The water can be used for any number of things, but Woodward says she uses the majority of the water to keep the grass green and flowers alive. She even collects water in empty milk jugs after the barrels get too full.

“Whenever I have an empty container of any kind in the house I like to reuse it somehow,” she said. “It just makes sense to fill them up with water out of the jugs so more water can be collected.”

Woodward is thinking about buying larger, tank-like water contraptions that would hold about 200-250 gallons for the side of the house, but doesn’t want her yard to be full of rain barrels, even though she thinks some people might already think she has a rain barrel yard. She loves her hobby regardless.

After collecting for several years, she still doesn’t have the best idea of how much to use.

“You never know when you’re going to run out,” Woodward said. “Whenever it rains I want a place to put it, but most of the time everything is full. Yet I don’t want to use too much and run out.”

According to People Water, The average American’s lifestyle uses 2,000 gallons of water a day, which is twice the global average. If you don’t find water barrels appealing, National Geographic has created a water footprint calculator, where anyone can measure their daily water usage at The test will help provide ideas of how to cut back on a person’s water waste.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is even better than its impressive predecessor


The second installment to the most recent reboot of 1970s television series, “Planet of the Apes,” hits theaters this weekend and has already gained a wide audience.

“Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves adds “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” to an already historic franchise. “Dawn” had a mission for this sequel, make it better than the original. Its predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), was a critical and financial success. This was a relief to many viewers tired of gritty disappointing reboots, but the film found success with a solid mixture of special effects and actor James Franco leading the way.

In “Dawn,” Franco is out of the picture, but ape lovers need not worry. Gary Oldman (“The Dark Knight Rises”), Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Keri Russell (“Mission: Impossible 3″) provide an even better arsenal of acting power. We cannot forget about the brilliant Andy Serkis, who we have seen play some of the most popular creatures, including Gollum in ” The Lord of the Rings” series. Serkis will throw on the CGI suit and reprise his role as Caesar, king of the apes. His success in reflecting animal movements in one of the brighter sides of a film world caught up in computer generated images.


At the end of “Rise” we were left with an image of Caesar and his band of merry apes hiding out in the woods, looking over a city with an expiration date. In “Dawn,” this developing nation of genetically evolved apes finds a group of humans who are threatening their way of life after a deadly virus wipes out a vast amount of humans. As peace agreement is made, but the treaty is short-lived and war will determine who will inhabit Earth as the dominant species in the wake of this disaster.

“Dawn” finds success in several aspects. Each one is hard enough to find success individually. For the entire two hour duration, the film is able to keep a high level of tension in every scene. Even in the scenes with heavy dialogue, the interspecies conflict is always looming, as the brink of war is frightening for both sides.

Constant tension is difficult to keep for this amount of time in any film, but the fact that it’s successful doing so in a sequel is one of the most impressive aspects of the film. This is not a minor improvement, the sequel is exponentially better than its predecessor, and “Rise” was an impressive film in itself.


Serkis steals the show with his ability to display a passionate and thoughtful non-human performance. Though we have seen Serkis and other actors play the physical canvas for CGI, his role hasn’t necessarily been invented yet in film, so this style is beginning to break ground, which makes “Dawn” that much more of an exciting gift. It’s a great performance in general, one that many viewers will overlook thinking he is just an animation. There is someone behind that computer generated image making those movements, and it’s one of the most impressive acting achievements in recent memory.

Though these apes are highly evolved, speaking is not something they have mastered yet. Subtitles throughout the movie creatively give us words for their intricate sign language. The smooth dialect transition between apes and homo sapiens keeps the viewer informed and interested in the narrative.

“Dawn” was filmed mostly in Vancouver and New Orleans, and the 3D viewing experience throws you right into the wet, misty greenery of a convincing California setting. Though 3D viewing is not a necessity, “Dawn” is one of the films where your $15 would be a smart investment. Most of the time the 3D element is promotional and therefor unimpressive, but “Dawn” manages to engulf you in the world of apes on the rise.


Reeves lays on the imagery, but instead of pushing for the geeky, scientific route, he manages to promote a deep, philosophical narrative that’s intelligent as it is thought-provoking. He does this without overwhelming the viewer, which is popular in today’s cinema.

“Dawn” is heavy on the CGI, but if you are going to use it in a world where nearly every movie has some sort of computer generated image, make sure it’s done in a smart way. “Dawn” excels in the intelligence column and provides a profitable and intriguing spectacle.

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‘Deliver Us From Evil’ fails to trump the tropes despite strong acting performance


“Deliver Us From Evil,” the latest paranormal film based on “true events,” saw a wide release midway through the week, and outlines the alleged accounts of NYPD officer and paranormal investigator Ralph Sarchie.

Eric Bana plays Sarchie, and in an interview with the New York Daily News, Bana described his chilling preparation for the role. He had to watch an old, grainy tape of what was allegedly a genuine exorcism Sarchie witnessed. Bana still finds the footage disturbing to this day. He would say only one thing about the tape, but his viewing experience has silenced him otherwise.

“It was quite confronting,” Bana said. “If I could have avoided it, I probably would have, but I saw it and it will be forever etched into my brain.”

Director Scott Derrickson has experience with successful spooky thrillers, headlining popular films such as “Sinister” in 2012 and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” in 2005. He had no problem talking about the videotape with New York Daily.

“That videotape in particular is pretty harrowing,” Dickerson said. “You see a guy’s forehead split open and nobody’s touching him. He does not look like a human being … when we left (the viewing room) I remember Eric being literally pale, going ‘That was one too many exorcism videos for me.’”


Sarchie released a memoir in 2001, “Beware the Night,” detailing his experience. Derrickson wrote the first draft of the script two years later, basing it off the memoir. Obviously, the film took a while to take off, but finally began filming in New York, with Sarchie as an on-set aide.

Released Wednesday, the film covers Sarchie’s investigations as an NYPD officer. When a series of possessions begin flaring up around the city, Sarchie seeks the help of a priest who specializes in exorcisms to eradicate the demon influences in the city.

After it’s initial Wednesday release, the reviews are mixed, leaning toward poor. The obvious reason being the cliches are all evident in the film. The ‘believe it or not’ mantra so many movie fans are used to seeing hasn’t changed in this one, but could still be fun for the casual film fan.

Derrickson is well praised regardless of the film’s shortcomings. His impressive resume attracts solid acting from people such as Bana, but there are two role players on the crew that bring life to a film. Three-time Oscar- winning sound designer Paul N.J. Ottosson (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Hurt Locker”) and cinematographer Scott Kevan (“Death Race,” “Underworld: Awakening”) bring new life to a film treading on tired ground.

Without the influential cast and crew members, Sarchie’s story would likely fall through the cracks. Sarchie, 52, retired from the NYPD in 2004 after walking a beat in Bronx’s 46th Precinct. The devoted Catholic told New York Daily he felt as if he had a higher calling in life.

“I always felt that God was real, and I always felt the devil was real,” Sarchie said. “So there really wasn’t a stretch for me. All I really needed to do was to have faith and to get the knowledge that I needed to battle the devil.”


He claims to have assisted in 25 exorcisms and performed hundreds of in-home exorcisms. Without making the tapes public, he advertises exerciser-patient confidentially and plans to continue his work regardless of whether the film is successful. Derrickson has always been open about how successful the “based on a true story” marketing was for his 2005 and “Emily Rose” hit ($150 million), but he claims to trust the ex-officer’s story.

Sarchie began assisting exorcisms after seeking out husband and wife tandem Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were featured in their own film last year, “The Conjuring.” The film made more than $310 million worldwide, proving the “true story” piece hasn’t died yet, but even though “Deliver Us From Evil” has an impressive cast and crew, “Conjuring” had a better one and carried phenomenal reviews after the initial release. Sarchie took his professional tips and picked up a new hobby.

Sarchie was the main contributor to the film getting produced in the first place. His ambition drove him to get a copy of his book on producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s desk, but the newfound fame is starting to weigh on the Queens native.

“I feel like I’m naked in the middle of Yankee Stadium in the middle of the World Series,” Sarchie says. “It’s pretty frightening.”

Like many exorcism films, the build up toward the final exorcism is vital to the attentiveness of the audience. “The Conjuring,” featuring just one possession, was able to successfully carry a story and add a pulse-pounding exorcism as the cherry on top. “Deliver Us From Evil” features many instances, but Bana’s performance is quickly becoming the only highlight for this summer’s demon flick.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Celebrate safely this Independence Day

Jeff Dixon/Lawton Constitution

Jeff Dixon/Lawton Constitution


Independence Day is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate, but the dangers of the celebration cannot be overlooked.

Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate the American holiday, but can cause serious injury if users neglect to take proper precautionary measures. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 57 percent of the 2012 fireworks-related injuries were burns, while almost 18 percent were contusions or lacerations. The risk of fireworks-related injuries were highest for young people ages 15-24. Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 25 percent of emergency fireworks injuries in 2012. Sparklers may seem user-friendly, but they can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.

While many people see fireworks as harmless entertainment, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons heeds fireworks users to take precaution. Columbia, Mo. orthopedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Brett Crist is a witness to the injuries the celebration can cause.

“Fireworks are a fun and memorable part of the 4th of July holiday, but can cause devastating injuries if not used properly,” Crist said. “If you are going to use fireworks, consider the following recommended safety tips to protect your fingers and other parts of your body. For example, never hold lighted fireworks with your hand or place them near the body.”

Crist and AAOS are avidly promoting ways to stay safe, such as telling citizens to check with the local police department to determine whether fireworks can be discharged in your area legally; consider watching a fireworks show in the community rather than having one at home; always have a water source nearby in case of a fire, such as a faucet hose; read the caution labels on all firework packaging before igniting; soak used fireworks in water before discarding, and never try to relight fireworks; and be careful when handling sparklers, while they may seem harmless, sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.

Personal injury is one thing, but the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance wants to keep citizens informed about the possibility of property damage.

Common insurance claims around this time of year include boating accidents, cooking fires and fireworks injuries. According to the the NFPA, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 fires in 2011, resulting in $32 million in property damage.

Lawton Fire Marshal Mark Mitchell, and the National Fire Protection Association strongly oppose the use of consumer fireworks. A recent city ordinance will make it illegal to sell, posses or discharge fireworks within city limits after the 4th of July holiday this year.

“The reason we did that is because it’s been historically illegal to shoot fireworks in Lawton for a long time, but if someone is shooting fireworks off, it’s a misdemeanor, but we have to witness the individual do it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell says one of the major problems in previous years is citizens will evade enforcement, simply waiting for an official to pass and then continue to carry on with their festivities.

“Professionally, for me, fireworks are never a good thing in regard to fire protection. They do cause fires, property to be burned down and sometimes people get injured, but if we are going to start enforcing the ordinance here in town, we need to offer an alternative, which would be a public display.”

Mitchell estimates a full-scale fireworks display that would be pleasing to the public, based on the surrounding cities, would cost around $20,000.

At some point, Mitchell wants to get the City of Lawton involved with some other groups and put on a large scale display. They are also looking into acquiring electronic ignition devices and training firefighters to use the equipment for an environment that’s safe for people to celebrate.

This would be an upgrade to the classic approach of loading fireworks by hand and using flares to ignite the source. Mitchell says that after many companies sponsoring major fireworks displays witnessed deaths due to this method, they have elected to use an electronic match. An electric match is a device using an externally applied electric current to ignite a combustible compound, which can be synched to music for a more advanced display.

The ordinance will be issued so that city officials, like Fire Marshal Mitchell, do not have to witness illegal firework displays before a citation is delivered. Mitchell says he wants it to be known it’s still illegal to ignite fireworks in the city, even prior to the new ordinance taking effect on July 5. Disobeying the new ordinance could find Lawton citizens signing a check for $750 and/or 30 days in jail, which is the maximum penalty.

Nonprofit organizations take advantage of the popular holiday festivities, partnering with firework giant TNT to sell fireworks for local fundraisers. Their fireworks stand, located outside of the NW Quanah Parker Trailway Wal-Mart, is where the Great Plains Area Management Team earns a major percentage of their yearly funds for local Special Olympics participants. This particular stand averages about $7500 a year.

Mitchell does not want this ordinance to impact these individuals personally, but is focused on the saftey of the town’s citizens as a whole.

“We are very pro- small business, and we understand that people have been selling fireworks for years and many civic organizations are able to sell fireworks as fundraisers, but fires do start, and people use them in harmful ways,” Mitchell said. “In the wild west they used to celebrate by shooting their guns in the air, and they finally realized that those bullets have to come down somewhere.”
In Lawton, the discharge of consumer fireworks is prohibited within city limits.

Resolution No. 13-34, approved on June 11, allows the discharge of fireworks on July 4 from noon to 11 p.m. at the following locations:
Lake Lawtonka areas: Robinson’s Landing in the ball field area; day use area; and the area from the Lawton Boat Club north to group use 1 area (including group 1 area).
Lake Ellsworth areas: Fisherman’s Cove starting from Road Lake; Ralphs Resort (railroad tracks to the dam); Chandler Creek camping area; and Collier Landing camping area.

Other safety tips
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance offers the following tips for Oklahomans to consider this Fourth of July:
Fireworks safety- To enjoy the Fourth of July in the safest way possible, leave the fireworks to the professionals. There are plenty of free or low-cost fireworks shows for the public to enjoy. If you live in a city that permits home displays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises to never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, always use adult supervision, keep a safe distance when watching displays and avoid using fireworks wrapped in brown paper, which usually indicates they are professional grade. Purchase your fireworks from reputable vendors.

Grill safety- Clean out your grill’s grease trap before firing it up. Make sure to keep it away from awnings or siding of buildings that might catch fire, and never leave your fire or grill unattended. Use long-handled grilling tools to avoid getting too close to the flames. You should never grill in an enclosed area. Keep a fire extinguisher close by, and ensure your homeowners policy is up-to-date to cover any fire or smoke damage that might occur.

Water safety- Homeowners insurance may not provide enough coverage if you have a pool, and some policies even exclude pools. Consider boosting liability coverage. Never leave children unattended around bodies of water. Homeowners or renters insurance may cover a canoe, small sailboat or motorboat, but larger and faster boats, including personal watercraft, require a separate marine policy. Make sure insurance policies are up-to-date, observe all boating safety rules, make passengers wear life jackets and turn off the engine while passengers are swimming.

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Comanche Nation opens new Spur casino

Comanche Nation opened their fifth casino, Comanche Spur, Elgin, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday evening.

The event kicked off at 5 p.m., as 15 speakers took the podium including casino CEO Chas Robbins, eight Comanche Business Committee members and several other crucial individuals that had a hand in opening Spur.

Robbins is excited to have had the oportunity to host several opening ceremonies within the past year, seeing the forward progress of the Comanche tribe in many ways.

“It’s alwasy fun to see multiple groups come together from the tribe with a common goal and purpose,” Robbins said.

The team created to push the casino projects forward is something Robbins is proud of, specifically with their work toward the Spur project.

“There are a lot of guests and patrons that show up to these events, because this is their casino, and they feel that way. I remeber when we were opening, there were some players standing outside of the door asking if they could get in there with a broom and help because they were so ready for this thing to open,” Robbins said. “They take ownership in this, and it’s a place they’re proud of, and Spur is unique in that way. It’s the casino for the people in this community.”

Robbins is glad to have created an environment with more amenities the players can enjoy, and is proud of the technology the property has to offer. The C Club card is one of these advancements, where players can now use their players club card at all Comanche Casino locations.

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a native ground blessing also took place after the ceremony, where Thomas Blackstar blessed the new casino with smoke and prayer.

For those who were there to play, Spur had promotional offers including a triple points oportunity for players from 6- 11 p.m. and casino giveaways every 30 minutes. Comanche nation also provided a cookout for guest after all the ceremonial activities concluded.

The casino has been open since May 16, but the grand opening ceremony wasn’t until Thursday. When the casino opened, more than 130 people were lined up outside, waiting to hit the gambling floor first. The new facility offers more than 180 slot machines, a deli, convenience store, fueling stations and a smoke shop.

Now that the Spur Casino has opened, all Comanche casinos offer a ticket-in/ ticket out system and C Club membership, using a one-card solution.

Comanche Spur is located in Elgin on U.S. 62., and for more information about the grand opening or casion promotions call Comanche Spur at (580) 250-3090.

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‘Snowpiercer’ still aims for American success after Weinstein limits release


United States film distributor, The Weinstein Company, failed in their attempt to edit one of the most shocking and socially intriguing films of the year because it predicted small market demographics, including Oklahoma, would not be able to understand “Snowpiercer.”

What they received was a compromise. Director Bong Joon Ho (“The Host,” “Mother”) takes a stab at his first film where audiences see an English-dominated dialect in one of the most highly anticipated science fiction films this year, “Snowpiercer.” Bong had no intention of editing the film, but the compromise resulted in the film receiving a limited release and will spread out after the initial box office numbers.

The Weinstein Company wanted to cut 20 minutes worth of dialogue so that the film “will be understood by audiences in Iowa and Oklahoma.” I’m not sure what kind of content was in those 20 minutes that South Korean viewers can easily understand, but the average mid-western citizen finds confusing.

The only thing about “Snowpiercer” that may be different for mainstream audiences is that the film has a South Korean director and has some Korean dialect (20 percent), which doesn’t call for massive edits and a limited release. Luckily, Bong held his ground, but had to settle for the limited release. The film was released in August 2013 in South Korea, but hits large American markets this weekend. The film is full of metaphors about class system issues and the nature of humanity, but to say the mainstream American audience is too dim-witted to understand “Snowpiercer” as a whole should be insulting to areas not getting the oportunity to see a spectacular film this weekend; a film that features many of America’s beloved movie stars, most notably Chris Evans, who is known for his Captain America persona.

“Snowpiercer” starts off in 2014, as a global warming experiment goes awry and causes another ice age, killing most of the world’s inhabitants. A premise that may seem a bit bleak, as we’ve seen one-too-many post-apocalypse films, but “Snowpiercer” covers new ground in a worn out genre. The only survivors are aboard the Snowpiercer, a massive, perpetual-motion powered train, traveling on a track that surrounds the globe. A class system is created through the separate train cars, which evolves throughout the film.


The train was originally built as the railway equivalent of a cruise ship, but turns into a life raft, as the inhabitants cruise through a frozen world they once called home. The poor inhabit the tail of the train, and the class rises as you move toward the front. In 2031, the poor inhabitants of the tail prepare for another rebellion, even though several have failed in the past. Mysterious messages incite Curtis (Chris Evans) to lead the rebellion after a routine guard’s visit, pushing their way to the prison section to free Namgoong Minsu (Kang-ho Song), the man who built the dividing doors of the train, and his daughter Yona (Ah-sung Ko). With Minsu’s help, the group pushes forward, hoping to force a new world order.

Based on author Jacques Lob’s French graphic novel, the film boasts an impressively diverse, award-winning cast with Evans at the helm. Tilda Swinton (“Adaptation,” “Moonrise Kingdom”), John Hurt (“V for Vendetta,” “Alien”), Octavia Spencer (“The Help,” “Being John Malkovich”), Jamie Bell (“Adventures of Tin-Tin”), Ed Harris (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Gravity”), Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko (both appeared in Bong’s 2007 international hit “The Host”) join Evans, as they live in a giant metaphor bound for nowhere. This may be a sci-fi film, but it also features a story about a violent class war and the things humans do to survive when resources become scarce.

Evans is already moving past his Captain America character, even while he’s still in the process of filming “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” On March 25, during an interview with Variety magazine, Evans emphasized a desire to move toward a career in directing.

“I’ve known for a while I wanted to direct,” Evans told Variety. “But time never really opens up. There’s another movie to do, there’s another acting job. It just got to a point where I was like, you know what — I have to do this.”

His statements created waves in the entertainment world, to the point where he had to appear on “Good Morning America” to clarify he wasn’t taking an acting hiatus.

“I said that I directed last year,” Evans explained on “Good Morning America” March 31. “I really responded to it and really enjoyed it. By no means am I planning on retiring. It’s kind of a silly statement. But I certainly am going to try to focus a bit more on directing at this point.”


Evans performance in “Snowpiercer” doesn’t provide any signs of backing away from the acting world. If anything, his acting brand will be defined within the next year. Evans is proving he can do more than act in a pair of tights inside a computer generated world. Unfortunately for Evans, The Weinstein Company has taken away a chance to share his new persona with America entirely, but with a big opening weekend and a solid audience response, “Snowpiercer” could become a nationwide release, which is deserving to say the least.
Director Bong Joon Ho is used to critic praise for his recent films, with his flawless use of subtle comedy in any genre he takes on, pleasing crowds all over the world. His big budget creature feature “The Host” found American popularity soon after and is available to stream on Netflix.


“The Host” will give American, mainstream moviegoers an idea of what they’ll get with “Snowpiercer.” “The Host,” along with his other critically praised film “Mother” (2010), are both horror flicks, but Bong has successfully created a film that’s one part drama, one part social experiment. This is the first English film for Bong, and critically speaking, much like his previous work, it’s a major success.

“Snowpiercer” may have a far-fetched plot line, but much like Bong’s lake monster in “The Host,” it creates many thought-provoking circumstances, allowing no easy solutions.

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Lawton Public Library implements e-book system


The Lawton Public Library is expanding their services to the cloud, as e-books have hit the virtual shelves this month.

The library’s website is now the new way to gain access to your favorite books without having to leave the house. Library card holders can borrow popular digital media anytime and anywhere when they visit and click on the OverDrive link.

OverDrive is a leading multichannel digital distributor of eBooks, digital audiobooks, music and video. They supply a secure lending platform for 22,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide with support for all devices. The Cleveland based company has been named to the EContent 100 for their user compatibility.
This new OverDrive powered service is free for users with a library card.

Users may browse the library’s website, borrow titles with a valid library card, and enjoy the program on all major computers and devices, including iPhone, iPad, Nook, Android phones and tablets and Kindle. These digital books can be read immediately on any device with an Internet browser, and all titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, making late fees a thing of the past.

The system automatically returns the e-book. After 14 days the content disappears from the device, but can be easily checked out again. The program allows card holders to check out five books at one time and soon they will allow those same card holders access to virtual DVD rentals.

To gain access to the library’s e-book database, you must have a valid library card, a piece of mail received within the last 30 days, a valid picture ID and all library fines must be paid off.

Library director Kristin Herr aims to please customers with this new program.

“This is the number one request we get,” Herr said. “People know that friends and family in other cities can borrow e-books, but it has been a long time coming for the Lawton community.”
Now individuals can get best-selling and classic titles from the comfort of their home, even when the library is closed.
Because the Lawton Public Library joined the Oklahoma Virtual Library, there are already lots of e-books available for checkout and more than 65 other public libraries in Oklahoma participate.

For further information regarding this service or any other library service, please contact the Lawton Public Library at 580.581.3450.

The library will also provide an OverDrive support help session from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, which will focus on helping card holders learn the new system. They are requesting anyone wanting to attend to bring their devices and any knowledge they have regarding the program.

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Five southwest Oklahoma teens selected to attend prestigious OSAI program


Quartz Mountain is where school and camp collide, as the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute takes to the hills once more this summer to further educate some of the state’s most impressive teenagers.

Five Lawton- area students earned spots in the nationally recognized program, running from June 14- 29 at Quartz Mountain in Lone Wolf. Each student receives a $2500 scholarship to attend the program free of charge, where they can work with professionals from across the country.

Since 1978, the secluded location of Quartz Mountain holds a 700-seat performing arts center, studio pavilions and many more resources for the students to utilize.

At OSAI, the high school students attend with one of five specific disciplines in the literary, visual and performing arts areas, but the program is known to blend the students together to create an education focusing on the arts as a whole. The students eat meals together, bunk with random students, study in groups and take classes with other disciplines.

Tomasz GolkaJackson

Mary Carpenter

The program has been running for 38 years, and since the beginning, many famous artists have taught at OSAI. Former faculty artists include recipients of the Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards. This year’s Institute boasts a renowned faculty, including Tomasz Golka, who was recently named Chief Conductor of the Colombian National Symphony, and Dean Irby, former acting coach for “The Cosby Show.” These few Lawton-area students are working with these mentor-professors closely, and they are feeling the impact.
Lawton students were selected to attend OSAI through competitive statewide auditions, with about 1,000 students auditioning for just 270 spots. The summer program is for high school students, but OAI offers a fall program for adults who wish to become more educated in the arts.

Tori Hack, a Marlow student, is attending OSAI for her creative writing talents. She graduated from Marlow in May and early on in her high school years, auditioned for the program in Oklahoma City, where the number of prospects overwhelmed her at first, but those emotions evaporated after she recieved the acceptance call. Hack didn’t fully understand the weight of her honor until she stepped into a 15- student creative writing class on her first day and realized after more than a thousand applicants tried to ear a spot, she was chosen to be there. Now she’s in her third year in the Qartz program. Usually a fiction writer, Hack felt the school pushing her out of her comfort zone.


“I had never written poetry before, and if I had it was for a school assignment and all it did was rhyme and it was horrible,” Hack said. “They flipped a switch in me and that’s all I write now, is poetry.”
She found her passion for writing in the first grade when she wrote her first book in a bound, 12 page purple book with her own illustrations, but Hack finds solace in her poetry because it’s so concise and can be easily tweaked. She also is fond of spoken word poetry, where she feels more comfortable talking about the things she’s passionate about and enjoys the performance aspect of spoken word. Like many returning students, she’s had three different instructors at Quartz and finds the difference each year to be beneficial.
“You get three different styles of teaching and they all approach it differently,” she said. “I’ve learned multiple ways to approach poetry.”

Instructors do faculty presentations in the evenings where the students can hear or see where their instruction is coming from. Hack finds inspiration from these presentations.
George Bilgere is the creative writing instructor. Bilgere is a professor from Ohio, where he’s published several poems and books of his works, recieving the Cleveland Arts Prize, Pushcart Prize and several others.
“Bilgere writes very serious poetry, where I write funny poetry,” Hack said. “After listening to him read, I find myself wanting to mimic his style and learn from that.”

Bilgere is one of several professors in the program, but not all instructors implement the classroom setting. Hack finds the setting to be lecture- oriented, which she is learning to love. Hack is attending the University of Central Oklahoma to study Mass Communications in the fall.

The camp prides itself on collaboration. Students don’t just room with other students of their craft, but are placed with students of other disciplines so they have the opportunity to learn from each other.

McKena West just graduated from MacArthur High School and was chosen to attend because for her speciality in drawing and printmaking. West’s senior year offered an opportunity to join an advanced art class for the first time and she jumped on the opportunity quickly.
“I didn’t really know what it was and my teacher had never had anyone go for it, so I decide I would do it the week before the audition,” West said.


West gathered some pieces from her time in class and created an original piece that weekend for the audition. The drawing candidates were given an hour to draw still-life pieces at the audition.
“It was really amazing to see each other’s work when it was over,” West said. “Some kids were really talented, and so I wasn’t confident because it all depends on your style of art, so they could have liked mine or not.”
West and her high school art teacher were elated at the opportunity for her to expand the craft she loves so much. The experience has impacted West through the collaboration of students’s work, even though the first few days were difficult to get integrated into the different styles the instructors want the students to grasp.

“My style is drawing faces and details of the mouth and bone structure, and they had us starting with things like landscape,” West said. “So it was difficult at first, but after you get comfortable, they give you more freedom.”

West has enrolled at the University of Oklahoma and plans on becoming a physical therapist in the future, but after taking classes in the program, she wants to minor in Art.

Alexis Armendariz, an incoming junior at Elgin High School, is also at the program for drawing and printmaking. Her high school art teacher got her involved through traveling competitions, and that same teacher recommended Alexis audition for the program.


“I honestly didn’t think I was going to get in, but I’m here and it’s amazing so far with all this talent,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about toning down you passions. There is a lot of freedom here so it doesn’t feel like a school. It would be amazing if school was like this.”

For Alexis, printmaking is obscure. When she saw the audition asked for drawing, printmaking and painting, her experience with printmaking was lacking next to her painting expertise, but when she’s pushed out of her comfort zone, her strong suits become that much more efficient. The program focuses on artistic mediums, but they also want to educate the students about the future and how some talented people don’t get to live their artistic dream. Alexis and her peers get to hear from the instructors every night about these life lessons.
“It’s really nice to know, because some of these instructors did just jump into their craft, while others started doing other things before they landed where they are now,” she said.

Alexis plans on enjoying her last two years of high school and testing the waters, after receiving the special education she gets to experience this summer.

Jose Rodriquez is the drawing and printmaking instructor for Alexis and NcKena. He feels the collaboration between fields of study is optimal in receiving a full understanding of the arts.

“Not only does collaboration expose the writers to the visual artists, but it also crates important bonds,” Redriquez said. “All of these kids are really sharp in their fields, but not all of them will continue and go on to be artists. My students will, of course, focus on drawing and printmaking, but we need to expose them to the importance dance and music, because they become the support structure for the arts in general once they become more mature. It gives them a broad understanding of what they do and how it’s connected to every other discipline, and that’s something that’s really unique about this experience.”

Madison Morrow and Bailey Pelletier are both Altus students attending the program for choral music. Morrow is an incoming senior and is finding herself, like most students, engaged and collaborating with other disciplines.

Madison Morrow and Bailey Pelletier

Morrow, left, Pelletier, right.

“We have no idea what we’re going to get into each day in our classes,” Morrow said. “These teachers are mentors as well who make a long lasting impact. So it’s more than just an instructor to us.”

Morrow’s older brother went through the program as well, but even with the knowledge he provided for her, she still finds her first year to be fantastic and overwhelming at the same time. There are 16 pieces the students receive that they have to learn and know before the camp concludes.

“Personally, I was scared,” Morrow said. “Once you get here, you’re trying to settle in, but I’ve had a great experience throughout the first week because at the end of the day you realize you’re here with such passionate people and it starts to feel like a big family in such a short period of time.”

Morrow has a few options she’s considering for the future, but she is looking at biochemistry or becoming a pediatrician.

“That’s what’s so great about coming here,” she said. “I never really considered going into music, but I’ve never had this experience where I get to be around and working with such passionate people.”

The experience has impacted Morrow so much just in the first week she’s now considering taking her music education to the next level in college.

Pelletier graduated this year from Navajo High School, in Altus, and as a returning student, she has a different mindset, but the first year was intense for her as well.

“I felt like I had to prove myself and try to absorb all the new information and after four years of attending, I know the ropes and can see it from a new point of view,” she said.

This new point of view has relaxed Pelletier and has settled her nerves. She feels she can take in more of the education now that she’s caught up with how the excitement can overwhelm students. Pelletier finds this experience to help students grow in their field, but also learn how to take good advice from professionals. Pelletier, as well as her choral partner, Morrow, understand they’re good at what they do, but they also understand modesty can go a long way in this program. The students also learn the business side of show business, which is an important aspect to Pelletier.

“They tell you about the arts in a general sense and how to mentally prepare yourself for the future,” she said “I think it’s such a good preparation technique, because, especially in music, if you want to go into music education or do any sort of conducting, it really is about the connections you have. So being here and getting to work with these conductors, we are getting to make these connections now, and getting ahead of the game.”

Pelletier will be attending UCO, in Edmond, and double majoring in Vocal Performance and Chemistry in the fall.

Rina Cook 2

OSAI ends the program with a performance weekend on Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28. The weekend consists of concerts, performances, film screenings, and gallery exhibitions where every OSAI student has a chance to display their work. All onstage events are free and open to the public, and a performance schedule is available at or (405) 605-7500.

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‘Game of Thrones’ tests the waters with season four, looks to continue the push for independence


“Game of Thrones” wrapped up its fourth season Sunday night on HBO to 7.1 million eager viewers, but the finale, like most of the season, took another bold step toward a new direction for the groundbreaking show.

Sunday night’s 9 p.m. eastern time showing for finale title, “Children,” had to battle with ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals game five, but still increased its viewer total from last week and almost beat the series’ viewing record of 7.195 million.

According to Nielsen, the finale saw about 7.1 million viewers, compared to last week’s 6.95 million. When last year’s season three finale aired, 5.39 million viewers tuned in, and its first season, in 2011, saw 3.04 million, providing solid proof that HBO’s “Game of Thrones” continues to attract a wave of new fans each season.

“Thrones” is blowing away all other current HBO programming. In 2011, “True Blood” saw 5.53 million viewers, which is one of the larger showings in recent years, not including “Thrones.” Though the show is gaining immense popularity, it has yet to reach the network’s impressive record of 11.9 million viewers during the finale of “The Sopranos” in 2007.

These numbers all come from legal viewers that pay for HBO access, but “Thrones” is setting records in other, illegal categories. In the piracy-heavy culture we live in, many fans are following the show without having ever subscribed to HBO.

According to sharing news giant Torrent Freak, for the third time this year, season four has set a new piracy record for the largest torrent storm ever.

Sunday night 254,114 people were sharing one copy of “The Children” at the same time, 190,701 people were sharing a complete copy of the torrent and 63,413 were still downloading it. This number trumps the previous record, that “Thrones” with episode five, of 207,054.

Author George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novel series is a known masterpiece that’s now become a worldwide phenomenon thanks to HBO and show creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The show is breaking records everywhere, whether that’s in legal or illegal categories.

Fans have praised the show over the years for keeping on track with Martin’s storyline he presents in the novels, which arguably is one of the reasons the show is so popular. Season four has been a different story. It’s no secret in the “Thrones” world that the show is catching up with Martin’s timeline and fans are wondering what’s in store for the future. Martin still has novels to write before his vision for the Seven Kingdoms concludes. There have been multiple instances where the show has veered away from the books’ plot line, specifically character deaths.


If the series plans a spring premier date for season five, we could see HBO venturing into unknown territory, causing a dramatic affect on how fans will receive the show.

“A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance With Dragons” are the two novels left in the “Thrones” universe that have yet to get television adaptations. The first four seasons of the series covered the first three novels; season four covering the second half of the third novel, “A Storm of Swords.” The show has been renewed for two more seasons and we likely won’t see the same format. Many season four plot points have caused controversy among fans, most notably in response to character deaths, but regardless of heavy, book-loving criticism, Benioff doesn’t see their method changing any time soon.

“There are some characters who will die that I won’t think people will predict,” Benioff said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “And as Martin has said, we’re killing off more characters than in the books and will continue to do so.”

Martin doesn’t seem to mind, according to Benioff and Weiss, who work with him on a regular basis to provide the best experience for fans.

“We have talked to George extensively about where he’s going with the books, and will continue to do so,” Benioff said. “His books are the blueprint for the world we’re building. Ultimately the show needs to work on its own terms, and keep on moving. Our job is to square that necessity with George’s work to the best of our ability.”

Martin and the “Thrones” crew seem to have an understanding about where the show will go, even if the show surpasses the novel’s current timeline. Martin took 20 years to write the five novels available today, but his latest addition to the saga, “A Dance With Dragons,” took him five years before it’s publication in 2011. It’s no wonder fans are worried about the show’s future, even with the reassuring words from the show’s creators.
Benioff and Weiss have discussed Martin’s final vision for the series and say they are “on board 100 percent.”

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Lawton Summer Food Program feeds thousands


The Lawton Public School system is once more partnering with quality of life service giant, Sodexo, to bring free meals to the people of Lawton this summer, kicking off their Summer Food Program.

The LPS Food Program is providing more than 18 sites this summer for kids to grab some grub at no charge to them or their families. Any child, ages 18 and under, can receive free meals through the LPS sponsored program. There is no registration process and no eligibility guidelines for participation. All meals will be served on weekdays, and depending on the site, kids may receive breakfast and lunch.

Serving dates and times vary by site, although none of the sites will serve meals on July 4 because of the Independence Day holiday.
The state-funded program offers two different menus, a hot meal menu and a sack menu, providing healthy, diverse options for kids in need of food throughout the summer. The Lawton Public School system provides the food and receives reimbursement at the end of each month for every child that shows up to eat, whether that’s for breakfast or lunch.

Nothing is paid for until all the food is distributed, much like the school lunch program that operates throughout the educational calendar. Cleveland Elementary School is one of these sites where kids can arrive during the scheduled serving hours and receive food, much like they would during the school year. The food is served from the same place and kids eat in their normal lunchroom. Volunteer site managers serve the kids in an school-style fashion, forming a line and recieving trays they are accustomed to seeing during the school year.

Schools aren’t the only places kids can receive meals. The Boys and Girls Club, of Lawton, serves a plethora of kids each day, whether they’re regulars or kids accross the street looking for a free meal. During lunch, LPS workers arrive and haul in several coolers packed with sack lunches and drinks for the kids to enjoy. In an orderly fashion, the kids line up and receive their lunch for the day.
Lawton Boys and Girls Club youth volunteer, Jameesha Franklin, sees what the program does every day.
“It helps a lot,” Franklin said. “Sometimes parents just come and drop the kids off and expect us to feed them and everything.”

In the first week of June, Sodexo helped LPS serve 1783 breakfast meals and 4487 lunches at the Lawton sites combined.

Tony Shepard is in his first year as the Child Nutrition Director for Sodexo, and his department oversees serving site setup, making sure each site is adhering to LPS policies, because it’s an LPS program. The child nutrition services puts on an hour long training that’s required by state, teaching how to give out the food, what is allowed and not allowed to reimburse.

“Its a great program and fills the need in a community for kids who want something to eat for breakfast,” Shepard said. “We will run into parents a kids who say we didn’t know we could go. There is a need for it. look how many we served last week, that’s a lot of meals and all you have to do is show up.”
Shepard encourages Lawton residents to take full advantage of this wonderful oportunity.

Locations and dates:

Boys & Girls Club, 1305 F: Sack breakfast and lunch served from 8:30-9 a.m. and 12:15-12:45 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Brockland Elementary, 6205 NW Ferris: Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Central Middle School, 1201 Fort Sill Blvd.: Sack breakfast served from 8-8:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30-11 a.m. June 2-July 3.
Cleveland Elementary, 1202 SW 27th: Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Great Plains Technology Center, 4500 W. Lee: Sack breakfast served from 8-8:30 a.m. and lunch served from 11-11:30 a.m. June 2-27.
Pat Henry Elementary, 1401 NW Bessie: Breakfast served from 8-9 a.m. June 2-27; lunch 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Kid’s Zone, Northwest 38th Street and Meadowbrook Avenue: Sack lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to noon June 2-July 25.
Lawton High School, 601 Fort Sill Blvd: Breakfast served from 8:30-9:30 a.m.; lunch from 10-11 a.m. June 2-July 25.
Lincoln Elementary, 601 SW Park: Sack lunch served from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays only June 3-July 10.
MacArthur High School, 4400 E. Gore: Breakfast served from 7:45-8:15 a.m.; lunch from 10:30-11 a.m. June 2-July 3.
Owens Center, 1405 S. 11th: Sack lunch served noon to 1 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Patterson Center, No. 4 NE Arlington: Sack lunch served from noon to 1 p.m. June 23-27.
Ridgecrest Elementary, 3005 NE Angus Place: Lunch 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Saint John’s Preschool, 1112 SW Tennessee: Sack breakfast and lunch served from 8:30-9 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. June 2-July 25.
Swinney Elementary, 1431 NW 23rd: Lunch from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. June 2-July 25. Sack breakfast and lunch will also be served July 28-Aug.1 from 8:30-9 a.m. and noon to 12:30 p.m.
Wilson Elementary, 102 NW 17th: Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2-July 25.
Wind of Change, 4469 E. Lee: Sack lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to noon. June 2-July 25.
YMCA camp off Southeast 69th Street: Sack lunch served from 11-11:30 a.m. June 2-July 25.

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Relay For Life takes over Bentley Gardens

food service- relay

Cancer survivors took a lap around Bentley Gardens Friday night, kicking off an all night Relay For Life event, in honor of those who beat cancer, are still fighting and those who have passed.

The survivor walk was only the beginning of a 12-hour celebration of life at Cameron University. Relay For life is the American Cancer Society’s national signature activity, and From 7 p.m. on Friday, to 7 a.m. Saturday morning, community volunteers and survivors and their teams raised money to help battle cancer in the Lawton area.

The Relay has been at Ron Stephens Stadium over the years, but the High Plains American Cancer Society provided a change of scenery this year.

Teams made up of fellow employees, family members, church members, organizations or neighbors, consisted of 8-15 runners, walkers or strollers.

Relay For Life is the largest fundraising event in the nation, hosting 5,000 events that see more than 3.5 million participants. These events are held in a noncompetitive, family-friendly settings where anyone can participate.

A live auction took place at 8 p.m. after the survivor lap, and at 9 p.m. there was a fun run as part of the fight back ceremony, where each person made a commitment to how they’ll finish the fight against cancer, stating what each person will do during the next year.

Lumination ceremony
At 10 p.m., hundreds of luminaria (candles placed in decorated paper bags) lit the track in rememberance and in honor of those who have faced cancer. These glowing tributes are the result of individual donations of friends and family who have lost loved ones to cancer, honoring survivors or loved ones still fighting.

After the illumination ceremony, everyone took part in a silent lap in the glow of the candlelight.
Lyndse Tatum is the Relay Specialist, overseeing Relay in Lawton, and she has the opportunity to see what Relay does for the community. Tatum’s best friend in high school was diagnosed with brain cancer, and that motivated her to find out how to help with Relay in her community.

“Everyone that I see here and in the office that’s fighting a battle is what brings me back every year to run these events,” Tatum said. “The luminary ceremony is my favorite because they read the names of those that we’ve lost and survivors, and the moment of silence is a nice rememberance of why we are relaying.”

The overnight event symbolized the path a cancer patient takes during treatment. In honor of those who battle cancer 24 hours a day, team members took turns walking the track overnight. For the participants not walking, there was entertainment throughout the evening, as camp sites littered Bentley Gardens and local businesses and organizations were there to lend a hand as well, providing food fundraisers during the event.

Carol Page is a committee member and cancer survivor who has been relaying since 1997. She finds joy in coming back each year to share her story and help others.

“Every step I take and every year I come to Relay, is another year that I’ve been given another chance to help people,” Page said. “More than anything, you help other people. They can look at you and say, ‘gee she’s had cancer but she’s out there doing the chicken dance.’ You motivate other people.”

Money raised will directly impact the American Cancer Society in Lawton. The office will use funds raised at the event to help maintain their care given to patients. The “wig room,” where patients going through cancer treatments can receive wigs, hats or turbans for free, is an example of what the American Cancer Society is doing in Lawton with the Relay funds.

Look Good Feel Better is an American Cancer Society program specifically for Women in treatment where they learn hands-on beauty techniques from cosmetologists and get a free bag of makeup. This is held monthly at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton.

Local cancer patients are also given a file system with accurate, up-to-date cancer information specific to diagnosis in a file folder to organize bills, test results, medications and appointments.
Relay For Life has raised more than $5 billion to help the American Cancer Society since it began and more than 500,000 survivors along with 3 million other volunteers participated, raised funds and led the fight against cancer at 5,200 Relay For Life events last year.

Tatum and The American Cancer Society is looking for anyone that wants to participate in next year’s relay event can call or visit their office that’s located at 1320 NW Homestead.

For more information and statistics visit and

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MacArthur grad performs at Tony Awards

Erin opening night bow

The 68th annual Tony Awards will feature MacArthur graduate, Erin Clemons, as she performs in the ensemble for the Broadway classic, Les Miserables.

Clemons helps make up an 18- member ensemble that can be seen on Broadway eight times a week at the Imperial Theater in New York City, putting on a show that’s been nominated for Best Revival of a Musical at this year’s Tony Awards.

This newly re-imagined Les Miserables grossed more than $160 million in its recent two and a half year American tour, that Clemons joined for 13 months before the show moved to Broadway.

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Miserables is a story about the survival of the human spirit. The award-winning score of Les Miserables includes songs such as, “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” “Master Of The House” and many more.

Clemons is not only a member of the ensemble, but she is an understudy for one of the leading roles, Éponine Thénardier (Niki James).

Éponine Thénardier, also referred to as the “Jondrette girl”, is a spoiled child, but appears later in the story as a ragged teenager who speaks in the Parisian streets, while showing signs of her former charm and innocence.

Clemons is living her dream and is honored to be recognized, along with her ensemble, at the Tony Awards.

The cast of Les Miserables has a packed Sunday Tony schedule. Clemons and company begin with an early morning dress rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall. Then the cast will be bused back to the Imperial Theater, a ten minute ride, to do their normal performance for a 3 p.m. show. After their show, they will be bused back to Radio City where they will perform for the Tony’s. Like many other performances, the specific song that will be performed hasn’t been released. The cast will then travel back to the Imperial Theater to watch the rest of the awards ceremony.

“I had no idea how this would come about, or if this would even happen, but somehow it has,” Clemons said. “It’s a dream come true, for sure.”

Clemons started dancing at 3 years old, but gained the motivation to sing from her mom in middle school. She attended MacArthur High School from 2004 through 2007 where she joined the choir and says she got lucky enough to have the same director the entire time, Kelly Martin.

“Singing was fun, but I was too embarrassed,” Clemons said. “Mrs. Martin encouraged me to audition and gave me my first role in 9th grade, and that’s where I got the bug.”

Clemons moved to New York after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2011 with a Bachelor of Music and always knew she wanted to move to the big apple.

“Saying that and doing it are two different things,” CIemons said. “I knew I would have to move to New York or Los Angeles to make it. I wasn’t as interested in television of film so New York was the place to go.”

Clemons wasn’t wrong in her assumptions. Broadway theatres are widely considered to contain the highest level of theatre in the English-speaking world.

According to The Broadway League, Broadway shows sold approximately $1.193 billion worth of tickets in 2013.

For Clemons, making it to the big stage took time and effort.

After graduating from UCO, she joined the Summer Music Theatre, of Wichita, Kan. Founded in 1972, MTW is the largest subscribed non-profit arts organization in the state of Kansas. Each summer at Century II Performing Arts Center, in downtown Wichita, MTW self-produces five Broadway-scale musical productions, using a unique mixture of top-flight professionals from Broadway and Hollywood.

“I met a lot people who worked in the industry and in Broadway, which really helped me when I moved to New York,” Clemons said. “When I finished, I looked at auditions and told my dad I would leave three days after the season ended.”

She was in New York for 10 months auditioning and ended up on the Les Miserables American tour.
The show directors gave everyone on the show auditions and Clemons got the show four months after the tour ended and started rehearsing for the Broadway show soon after. The Broadway show premiered on March 1, 2014, with Clemons featured in the ensemble.

Clemons and her cast found out they were nominated last month and have been restaging at Radio City to adjust for the camera angles, for this performance would be televised.

Clemons is feeling a mixture of excitement and confidence this weekend as they prepare for the show.
“The stage at Radio City is much bigger,” Clemons said. “There is a bigger backstage area and this is filmed for television, and we have just two rehearsals to go over it, but after doing it so many times, it’s just doing what you do every night. That’s what makes it so special.”

The cast of Les Miserables will go back to their normal schedule of eight shows a week after their Tony Awards performance.

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Camp George Thomas earns accreditation once more

Scouts 4

Camp George Thomas has been an accredited Scout camp since it was established in 1935 and retained that recognition Monday afternoon during its second Residence Camp session of the summer.

The Boy Scouts of America own the expansive 165- acre property, and anybody can attend that’s in scouting, but it’s being used for Residence Camp right now, which is only for the Cub Scouts. George Thomas is used in some way every weekend except for Christmas and Easter, and the large events are in June and October. Residence Camp begins in June and lasts 38 days, broken up into sessions, and Fall Adventures is every weekend in October, where anybody, whether it’s Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or Cub Scouts, can attend. Most of these campers live in tents while they’re attending, but there are some cabins for staff.

Cub Scouts range from 6-11 years old and George Thomas hosts around 200 campers each session. There are seven sessions during Residence Camp at four days per session. The second session that began Sunday saw 190 Cub Scouts that 35 staff members watch over.
Scout Troups attending can vary. Norman, Edmond and Lawton are a few examples of Oklahoma troups attending.

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This particular session saw the kids arrive on Sunday and they will leave Wednesday morning, then another group will arrive Wednesday afternoon for the Camp’s third session. With such a large number of kids attending every year, specific regulations must be met.

Every year the Residence Camp has to pass an inspection. A nationally trained team of Scout leaders perform a peer review and this group (in this instance, a group of three) inspects the entire camp, making sure it’s adhering to a set of standards that the National Boy Scout Committee creates.

After going through the guidebook’s several hundred pages that include saftey regulations such as, fire safety, hospital agreements and food safety, the representatives give the camp a score that determines whether the camp will be accredited for another year. Just like every year since the camp’s existence, Camp Director Alana Prater accepted the accreditation certificate.

“We have to make sure we follow all of the local, regional and BSA (Boy Scouts of America) standards,” Prater said. “It takes a little bit of time, but we get there.”

Class events go on all day as the campers rotate from station to station. Group size can vary, so once the group shows up for camp, the schedule is made. Kids and parents decide which classes they want to take before the camp starts and the camp adjusts to their needs.

The campers switch events every hour and each camper, upon successful completion of each event, receives a pin and belt loop at the end of camp for the designated activity.

Camp Commissioner Alan Prater, husband of Director Alana, takes pride in the effectiveness of the camp.

“We have really good staff members that care about what these kids are learning,” Prater said. “It’s a great program here at George Thomas and really provides a great direction for the kids to go instead of the negatives that we’re all challenged with every day.”

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Campers can enroll in several activities the camp provides including crafts, boating, fishing, archery, BB gun shooting, showmanship and many others. Staff members come up with creative ways to keep the kids entertained with events like, “shoot the alien,” where staff members build alien cutouts for the campers to use for target practice. They also have top shooter awards for the best BB shooter each day.

The staff consists of many Boy Scouts who write their own lesson plans and brief the plan to the camp director. They then tweak it to fit each individual age group and rehearse in front of the other staff members several times before teaching the kids.

Matthew Patrick, 18, is an Eagle Scout and staff member at George Thomas.
“I was here as a Cub Scout myself,” Patrick said. “Teaching here as an Eagle Scout looks good on a resume, but just seeing the kids having so much fun always brings me back for more.”

The camp still finds ways to improve. A rock climbing wall is under construction at the camp to provide Cub Scouts with a chance to practice climbing so when they join the Boy Scout camp, they’ve had experience climbing. The Boy Scout climbing wall reaches 50 feet, but Cub Scouts can’t climb on a wall higher than 8 feet. The climbing wall will be completed before the next event in the fall for October’s Fall Family Adventures.

To find out more about Camp George Thomas, there staff can be reached at (580)-588-3327.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Comanche County will see funding for cancer patients

Breast care patients in 14 counties, including Comanche, will see $80,400 go toward their care thanks to a grant awarded to Oklahoma Project Women (OPW), the largest ever in the area.

Oklahoma Project Women is a statewide organization providing breast health care services for men and women without health insurance and limited financial resources. The Susan G. Komen Central and Western Oklahoma branch is behind the grant, bringing further care to the area.

The Komen grant will help OPW provide diagnostic mammograms and other screenings to uninsured Oklahomans. Oklahoma Project Women, founded in 1998, has provided breast health care for more than 28,000 Oklahomans without insurance, 547 of whom have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Through events like the Komen Oklahoma City and Lawton Race for the Cure events, the Komen Central and Western Oklahoma has invested more than $10 million in community breast cancer programs across 47 counties.

Anne Bogie, OPW executive director, is a witness to the impact grant money can provide citizens.
“We know that when it comes to treating breast cancer, early detection and treatment saves lives, but many Oklahomans aren’t able to afford preventative and diagnostic breast health services,” Bogie said. “We provide access to those services free of charge for men and women with limited financial resources, helping them detect breast cancer and receive the appropriate treatment. We are grateful for the support of Susan G. Komen Central and Western, which will help us expand our services in the Central and Western Oklahoma area.”

Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding programs helping men and women overcome breast cancer barriers accross the globe. Lorna Palmer, Komen Central and Western’s executive director, noticed a need for aid in the area.

“At Komen Central and Western Oklahoma, we conducted a needs assessment of our community and discovered a need for the services that Oklahoma Project Woman provides,” Palmer said. “We are confident that through Oklahoma Project Woman, more men and women will get the care they need but can’t afford when it comes to prevention, detection and treatment of breast cancer.”
Komen Central and Western Oklahoma completes a needs assessment of an area in two ways; quantitative, where elements such as mortality rates are compiled, and qualitative, where Komen brings in survivors of that area to provide feedback on the care they recieved in the community whether it be positive or negative.

Community volunteers, Komen’s national headquarters and the department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at OU’s College of Public Health collect the information and find where the target areas are in the community. The review is done every two years, but the last complete analysis was done in 2011. The Komen organization is undergoing a revamping process, so the needs assessment that led to this particular grant came from a small-scale assessment in 2013. The next complete assessment will be in 2015.

“The affordable care act has not helped many people in our state with health insurance so we are seeing a significant need,” Bogie said. “A third of the state is uninsured and living below poverty. We want to do what we can where no woman goes without a screening.”

The money will be used in Lawton to pay for mammograms and citizens who meet the qualifications will recieve free care. It’s a comprehensive program, where OPW pays for everything through a contract with Lawton medical centers.

“This grant is very significant,” Bogie said. “It’s the largest grant ever to be awarded in this area and we are honored to be chosen by the Komen organization.”

If a Comanche county citizen wishes to utilize this benefit, they would need to go to the Lawton Community Health Center and recieve an exam. The doctor will determine the mammogram needed and the patient will recieve a coupon, which would work as money, paying for any medical attention needed after that point.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Lawton PD dive team sharpens saving techniques


The Lawton Police Department dive team spent Friday afternoon at Lake Lawtonka testing their search and rescue tactics with equipment they look forward to replacing.

Thursday the team practiced in a pool, where visibility was optimal, giving the officers an idea of how a real pattern would look like. Friday morning the dive team walked a search pattern on the shore of Lake Lawtonka, practicing for the afternoon diving drills.

Dive team leader Brad Davis, Lawton Police Department Lieutenant, finds the land work is great practice before getting into the water.

“When we are on land it’s nice to have some wide open areas to simulate what’s going to happen inside the water,” Davis said. “Once you get into Lake Lawtonka you have very limited visibility. So it’s hard to try to learn anything when you’re in the water. So it’s better to get a visual up on dry land where you can see so you have an understanding of what’s going on so you can apply it under the water.”
Search patterns are used for finding weapons or other evidence in a body of water. These patters are also used when the team is trying to locate bodies.

The dive team meets several times throughout the year to practice, but with Davis taking over two months ago after three years of diving for the team, he plans on placing a heavier emphasis on training.

“Last year was the first time we actually got any training,” Davis said. “I’m really big on training because I’m new to the team myself and I want to train a lot to get familiar with what’s going on.”
With the makeup of the team, they come from all over the department including patrol, gang unit, detectives and the motor unit. Davis says it’s difficult to get everyone together to train, but is optimistic about training in the future.

The team consists of ten divers and all members are present on a volunteer basis. Nine of the members are diving, while the tenth member observes the group from above the water. Five of Davis’ divers are new to the team, making this their first training dive.

The team uses props to search for in the water. These props can be toy weapons or full mannequins to simulate a rescue, but sometimes they simply use whatever equipment is available, placing it at an average depth of 8 feet.

A training routine begins with placing what’s called a wheel at the lake’s floor.This wheel looks similar to what you would wrap a garden hose around, but instead the dive team uses string, which gets unraveled and creates a search pattern. The string covers a 75-foot radius and the team follows that string, winding it back up as they move along the path until they reach the wheel again. This is to ensure the team doesn’t cover the same ground twice.

The dive team recently recieved grant money for new equipment that will be added to the team’s arsenal in the coming weeks. The dive team members have paid for the equipment that they use today out of their own pockets including buoyancy compensators, wet suits and communication equipment.


“Some of the veteran guys on the team have some department equipment, but it’s been years since the department has bought anything,” Davis said. “The Burns grant gave us an opportunity to purchase new equipment, which is a huge stepping stone for the team.” Davis said.

The Lawton Police Department was unable to release detailed information about the grant.
With the grant money, one of the things Smith ordered were bright orange wet suits that, according to Detective Ken Parsons, are due to his Oklahoma State ties.

With the visibility so low under the lake water, other forms of communication are utilized.
“Sometimes you can see the yellow tanks on our backs, but other than that you can see in front of your face, maybe,” Parsons said.

Com units are present on each diver so they can communicate with each other underwater. The oxygen mask is equipped with a com button and when pressed, the diver can communicate with other members of the team. There are three speakers built into the mask; one on the mouthpiece and a rubber-protected speaker on each side of the mask that covers each ear.

Parsons, like some of his peers, finds the com units to be more of a hassle than anything.
When the item in question is located, the diver will let everyone know they’ve found something. Parsons says that can be confusing when someone finds something “over here” because it’s pitch black down there and the team doesn’t know where “over here” is located.

“I absolutely hate it,” Parsons said. “It’s good if you find something and you have to let the people up top know, but we used to communicate before we ever had these.”

The rescue process in place before utilizing the com system was the buddy system. Two divers would swim together and upon finding anything, whether that be a body or otherwise, one diver would stay with the object while the other would swim topside and let the lifeboat know they’ve found the object. An officer on the boat would hit the boat with an oar and that would let everyone in the water know the object in question has been found.

The current com system allows the communication to broadcast over the water so the officers on land or in rescue boats can hear the communication among the divers. The com box, located on shore or on the boat, runs a microphone cable that’s tied to a floatation device near the divers so the communication can be heard above the water and through the com box itself. This process takes about 15 minutes to put together, and officers such as Parsons find traditional tactics to be more effective.

The team looks forward to the incoming equipment and hopes it will help make the com system more effective.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

Relay For Life

Cancer doesn’t sleep and neither will Relay For Life participants next week, as survivors, family members and community volunteers will walk all night at Cameron University.

Relay For life is the American Cancer Society’s national signature activity. Cameron University’s Bentley Gardens will host the 18th consecutive Relay in Lawton starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 13, and ending at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. The Relay has been at Ron Stephens Stadium over the years, but the High Plains American Cancer Society is providing a change of scenery this year.

Teams consisting of 8-15 runners, walkers or strollers take turns during the 12-hour event. Teams are made up of fellow employees, family members, church members, organizations or neighbors.

Relay For Life is the largest fundraising event in the nation, hosting 5,000 events that see more than 3.5 million participants. These events are held in a noncompetitive, family-friendly setting where anyone can participate.

The survivor lap opens every Relay For Life event and American Cancer Society staff member, Jennifer Redman, considers it to be a heartwarming experience.

“A lot of people out there are still battling cancer, some are in remission, and they get out there and do the first walk,” Redman said.

A live auction will take place at 8 p.m. after the survivor lap, and at 9 p.m. there will be a fun run as part of the fight back ceremony, where each person makes a commitment to how they’ll finish the fight against cancer, stating what each person will do during the year.

“For some people it might be helping their brother quit smoking, or getting in better shape,” Redman said. “So everybody has a chance to think about how they’re going to fight back during the year.”
At 10 p.m., hundreds of luminaria (candles placed in decorated paper bags) light the track in rememberance and in honor of those who have faced cancer. These glowing tributes are the result of individual donations of friends and family who have lost loved ones to cancer, honoring survivors or loved ones still fighting.

After the illumination ceremony, everyone does a silent lap in the glow of the candlelight.

“You’ll walk around and see people stop at their loved one’s luminary bag,” Redman said. “It’s a cool experience, but the rest of the night is a celebration. We do funny laps, like, everybody has to make a hat for one lap or everybody scavenger hunts. We have all kinds of activities to keep people engaged.”
The overnight event symbolizes the path a cancer patient takes during treatment. In honor of those who battle cancer 24 hours a day, team members take turns walking the track overnight. For the participants not walking, there will be entertainment throughout the evening and can set up camp sites if they wish.

Local businesses and organizations lend a hand, providing food fundraisers during the event and Cameron will sell refillable cups that participants can pay one price for refills all night.

Registration for team captains can be completed at and selecting a local relay event. Participants can either join a team or create their own and receive a personal fundraising page where they can send invites to friends and family.

Relay For Life team captains organize and build a team for the event, focusing on raising funds for the American Cancer Society. Each team captain will put together a kit for each individual team member outlining what their job will be during the event, for the goal is to raise $100 individually. Captains are encouraged to highlight the stories of the survivors on their teams to raise awareness during the event.

The goal for this year’s Lawton relay is $98,000 and each team member has been asked to pay a $10 dollar commitment fee, which was to raise a minimum of $100 in donations.

“If people sign up this late, they unfortunately do not get promised a T-shirt,” Redman said. “Our goal now is to invite families out to enjoy the event, celebrate the survivors attending and support the teams who will have fundraisers set up at Relay, such as food, drinks, games, and inflatable games.”

Where does my donation go?
Money raised will directly impact the American Cancer Society in Lawton. The office will use funds raised at the event to help maintain their care given to patients. The “wig room,” where patients going through cancer treatments can receive wigs, hats or turbans for free, is an example of what the American Cancer Society is doing in Lawton with the Relay funds.

Look Good Feel Better is an American Cancer Society program specifically for Women in treatment where they learn hands-on beauty techniques from cosmetologists and get a free bag of makeup. This is held monthly at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton.

Local cancer patients are also given a file system with accurate, up-to-date cancer information specific to diagnosis in a file folder to organize bills, test results, medications and appointments.
Redman sees the impact fundraising can have on the community.

“If a patient has to travel for treatment, we are able to offer free nights at our Hope Lodges in some cities and free or reduced rates for hotel rooms through our Guestroom Program,” Redman said. “Last year we fulfilled almost a million requests for cancer information through the phone, email or online chats and this is available to everyone in the community.”

Relay For Life has raised more than $5 billion to help the American Cancer Society since it began and more than 500,000 survivors along with 3 million other volunteers participated, raised funds and led the fight against cancer at 5,200 Relay For Life events last year.

A sidewalk chalk art contest will be on June 13, the day before the relay, at Bentley Gardens from 4-6 p.m. All ages are welcome to compete in the contest for a $5 dollar entry fee that will go toward the overall donation total.

For more information and statistics visit and

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

’22 Jump Street’ benefits from strong leading roles


Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller look to humor the public again after a successful “21 Jump Street” reboot paved the way for this summer’s must-see bromance blockbuster, “22 Jump Street.”

The film’s title says it all. Lord and Miller set out to create a mock-sequel, playing on the sequel-driven movie culture that’s been alive for years.

Some of the best jokes that came out of the 2012 hit “21 Jump Street” were when the characters made light of the fact they were in a cheesy reboot of the late ’80s television show. The sequel does just the same, cracking subtle jokes about how it’s a cheesy sequel to a cheesy reboot, and it works.

Lord and Miller aren’t new to the comedy scene, nor are they new to the sequel scene. Both filmmakers have collaborated on several recent projects including “The Lego Movie” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” In 2017, “Lego” will get a sequel, while “Cloudy” received its sequel last year. Success is something the filmmakers are used to as well. “Lego” eared rave reviews for its quirky characters and fun play on the classic toy franchise, and the “Cloudy” series became a hit with the kids, for it’s loosely based on the children’s novel of the same name.

The directing duo’s first R-rated comedy, “21 Jump Street,” quickly proved they could split the sides of any age group. Their “laugh at ourself” mentality became a reoccurring, successful box office device.
The plot line for “22″ carries the same tone as it’s predecessor; it’s simple. Officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go back undercover, but this time as college students chasing a known drug dealer, WHYPHY (wifi), after the death of a student who was photographed buying his product. Once they figure out what kind of criminal they’re dealing with, Schmidt and Jenko go on spring break with their “peers,” in hopes of catching WHYPHY dealing on the beach. With plenty of college humor and self-mockery, “22 Jump Street” will capture it’s target audience and find the same success the first film found. Hill and Tatum’s chemistry is alive and well, picking up where they left off, proving the “bromance” genre that we have seen in films like “I Love You, Man,” and the “Rush Hour” series, isn’t dead.

Like the first film, Jonah Hill isn’t just a leading actor. His writing contributions to the film are an important aspect to the film’s success. Hill doesn’t seem to have any desire to leave his raunchy roots, even after receiving his second Oscar nomination for his role as Donnie Azoff in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” last year. His journey to prove he can do it all on the screen is quickly becoming a fact. His addition to a film as a leading role almost solidifies a successful show at the box office. With Hill as the leading man, his last three films earned more that $100 million and averaged a $25 million opening weekend. These might not be mind-melting statistics, but it’s impressive when you consider the adult subject matter in the majority of Hill’s films. Hill is all to familiar with bromance comedy. One of his breakout performances was “Superbad” alongside Michael Cera. His character’s explicit, carefree lifestyle arguably defined his career until his role in the 2011 hit “Moneyball” earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and changed the way moviegoers saw Jonah Hill.

Hill is in good company as Channing Tatum returns, and we get to see the great chemistry the two actors share once more. Tatum had a hot streak after the release of “21 Jump Street,” starring in the 2012 hit “Magic Mike” that earned more than $113 million, and “Side Effects” in 2013, which didn’t do well at the box office, but Tatum delivered a great performance that’s different from the perceived “Jock” stereotype he’s developed.

After an unfavorable appearance in “White House Down,” earning only $73 million domestically, Tatum looks to have a great 2014 at the movies. Earlier this year, “Foxcatcher” premied at the Cannes Film Festival and gained a wealth of support and Internet popularity. The film is based on the story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz (Tatum) and how paranoid schizophrenic John du Pont (Steve Carell) killed Schultz’s brother, Olympic champion Dave Shultz (Mark Ruffalo). The film premiers worldwide November 14 and will be prevalent at next year’s Oscars and should pull a large audience after Tatum’s performance in “22 Jump Street.

“There’s no question “22″ is going to be successful after critics and viewers praised “21.” The question is whether it’ll be a breakout sequel, like fellow buddy-cop franchise “Rush Hour,” or earn the money slowly. “Rush Hour 2″ was released in 2001 to an opening weekend of $66 million (versus the first film’s $33 million). To have that same impact, “22″ will have to earn $72 million this weekend. A tall task, but “22″ could be what most moviegoers go see this weekend, due to lack of competition. “Edge of Tomorrow,” starring Tom Cruise, leaves the spotlight after a decent opening weekend, and “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (Which Jonah Hill also appears in) will likely draw families. Whether the film will create that much success is debatable, but “22″ won’t have to worry about box office success.

Published by The Lawton Constitution:

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