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Stillwater's First News with Bill Van Ness

 
 
Conversation opened. 1 read message. FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:FROM THE-------------------------

FROM THE STILLWATER POLICE DEPARTMENT:

On the evening of May 2, 2022, Stillwater Police received a call regarding sexual assault of a child victim. Patrol officers obtained the initial information and a detective from the Criminal Investigations Unit was assigned to the case. The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Saville Center for Child Advocacy. This investigation resulted in Victor Aldridge charged with Lewd Molestation and Rape by Instrumentation filed through the Payne County District Attorney’s Office.

On the morning of May 6, 2022, Stillwater Police received a call of an unrelated sexual assault of a child victim. Patrol officers again responded and were joined by detectives from the Criminal Investigations Unit. Again, with the assistance of the Saville Center for Child Advocacy, an investigation commenced. Erick Edmondson was charged with Child Sexual Abuse.

Arrested in these cases were:
William Victor Aldridge, 44 years old
Lewd Molestation (4 counts) and Rape by Instrumentation
and Erick Michael Edmondson, 31 years old
Child Sexual Abuse

Both Edmondson and Aldridge were located and arrested on May 6, 2022, by Stillwater Police Detectives and Payne County Deputies.

It is not common in Stillwater to make two arrests of child sex offenders in the same day. However, officers and detectives believe getting these two individuals off the street does make Stillwater safer.

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FROM THE STILLWATER PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

The Stillwater Board of Education approved the hiring of Brian Warwick as the new Athletics Director for Stillwater Public Schools at its regular May 10 meeting. 

Warwick has served as Assistant Athletic Director for the district since July of 2019. He began working with Stillwater Public Schools in August of 2003 as a teacher and a coach at Stillwater Junior High. Over the last 18 years, he has also served as Assistant Football, Boys Basketball and Track Coaches, Head Track Coach, Assistant Middle School Principal, and Assistant Junior High Principal.

“I am very excited about this opportunity and the future of the SPS Athletic Department ,” says Warwick. “We have seen a lot of growth and success in all of our programs over the last several years, and I feel confident that will continue in the future.”

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with district administrators and community members on planning for the upcoming 2023 bond issue,” he says. “It has the potential to impact our students for decades to come. Academics, athletics, safety – every aspect of our students’ experiences stand to benefit. It’s a great opportunity to add to the successes we are already having.”

Warwick received both a Bachelors in Secondary Education and a Masters in Administration from Oklahoma State University. He is married to Emily Warwick and together they have two children, five-year-old Braylon and two-year-old Blair. He enjoys spending time with his family, working out, and traveling in his spare time.  

The athletic director role was previously combined with coaching duties, but Interim Superintendent Gay Washington says that is no longer the case. “Over the last ten years our sports programs have expanded the number of athletes participating across all grade levels where we have sports,” she says. “With that increase comes an increase in scope of responsibility, and it was time to eliminate coaching duties to allow that individual to really focus on those director responsibilities.”  

“I’d already been impressed by my interactions with Mr. Warwick and his reputation in the district,” says Washington. “While contacting references, I was struck by how well respected Mr. Warwick is. It’s clear that he is viewed as an impressive, up-and-coming leader by his peers in other districts for his knowledge, insight, and careful consideration of issues facing student athletes.” 

Warwick assumes his new duties on July 1.

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FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY:

Ree Drummond, known for her Food Network TV show "The Pioneer Woman", was the keynote speaker at Oklahoma State University's 2022 spring commencement.

More than 3,400 students walked across the stage for the university's 144th graduation.

Drummond spoke at all four ceremonies, giving advice to graduates that she has learned through her career.

“I have never spoken at a graduation before,” said Drummond, whose own college graduation was 30 years ago at the University of Southern California. “Thank you for letting me try it out on you guys. Thank you to Dr. Shrum and the entire OSU faculty for letting me be a part of this incredible day.”

Ree Drummond keynote speaker at OSU's 2022 spring commencement (Courtesy: Oklahoma State University)

Drummond commended the class for adapting and overcoming through a difficult last two years, with the pandemic interrupting colleges across the country.

“Life is about to unfold for all of you in all of its forms: love, heartache, accomplishments, disappointments, new friendships, lost relationships, babies maybe, testing of faith, development of faith, illness, injury, loss of loved ones, triumph, tragedy and tears,” Drummond said. “I could check a lot of those off my list, but enjoy it, life is beautiful. Buckle up and laugh along the way.”

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:
APRIL 2022 TAX APPORTIONMENT REPORT

Note: The collection is based off of February transactions that were reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in March and apportioned to the City in April.

TOTAL SALES AND USE TAX COLLECTION: $3,022,582
·         PREVIOUS YEAR’S MARCH TOTAL SALES AND USE TAX COLLECTION: $2,529,631
·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $492,951 (19.49%)

SALES TAX COLLECTION: $2,762,937
·         PREVIOUS YEAR’S MARCH SALES TAX COLLECTION: $2,276,840
·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $486,097 (21.35%)
·         Note: One cent ($0.01) of collected sales tax is dedicated to the Stillwater Utilities Authority and a half-cent ($0.005) is dedicated to Transportation projects, as determined by a vote of Stillwater residents.

USE TAX COLLECTION: $259,645
·         PREVIOUS YEAR’S MARCH USE TAX COLLECTION: $252,791
·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $6,854 (2.71%)

HOTEL/MOTEL TAX COLLECTION: $52,676
·         PREVIOUS YEAR’S MARCH HOTEL/MOTEL TAX COLLECTION: $35,853
·         INCREASE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: $16,823 (46.92%)

For more information about the budget and taxes, visit the City’s Financial Center at stillwater.org/budget.

We also update a sales, use and hotel/motel tax report monthly at stillwater.org/document-center/detail/id/285.

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FROM THE OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN FRANK LUCAS:

Oklahoma 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas has announced an addition to his District Office staff following the hiring of Emma Alexander as a Field Representative.

Emma, a native of Collinsville, Oklahoma, graduated from Oklahoma State University in December of 2020 and recently served as a Staff Assistant for the Office of Governor Kevin Stitt. Emma will serve Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Ellis, Roger Mills, Beckham, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Logan, Lincoln, Payne, Noble, Pawnee, Creek, and Osage Counties.

She will represent Representative Frank Lucas at meetings and events throughout the District while also conducting staff outreach on behalf of the office.

Emma Alexander is the proud daughter of Mike and Debbie Alexander of Collinsville, Oklahoma.

With the addition of Emma Alexander on staff, Luke Vanderwork will now serve Woods, Woodward, Dewey, Custer, Washita, Kiowa, Caddo, Blaine, Major, Alfalfa, Grant, Kay, and Kingfisher Counties.

Grace Enmeier, Congressman Lucas’ District Director, will continue to serve Canadian and Garfield Counties.

Congressman Lucas’ District Office provides several services to constituents, including providing assistance with federal casework and information regarding federal grants. For any type of assistance, please call the District Office at (405) 373-1958.

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FROM THE STILLWATER PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
At a special meeting on April 26, the Stillwater Public Schools Board of Education approved the hire of Ashley Moore as Director of  Secondary Education. The position has been held by longtime district employee Becky Szlichta, who recently announced her retirement. The position manages all curriculum decisions for secondary schools, including facilitating new teaching standards implementation, curriculum maps, the textbook adoption process, and coordinating professional development for secondary teachers. The director is also the district testing coordinator.

An Oklahoma State University and Union High School Alum, Moore most recently worked for the State Department of Education as Executive Director of Literacy, Director of Gifted and Talented, and Project Manager of the Oklahoma Young Scholars Grant. She holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and has lived in Stillwater for more than 20 years. Previously, Moore taught for SPS for nine years, and was employed by OSU as Program Coordinator for OSUTeach. Moore and her husband Brady have two daughters, 15-year-old Kinley, and 12-year-old Sadie.

The Stillwater Board of Education also approved two new principals in a special meeting on April 26. Long time Stillwater administrators Joy Cawood and Dane Sallaska have been appointed as the principals for Richmond and Will Rogers Elementary Schools, respectively.

Since 2012 Joy Cawood has served the district in a variety of roles – Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Instructional Coach, and Assistant Principal at Richmond, Assistant Principal at Skyline, Technology Integration Coordinator for the district, and Principal of the Stillwater Pioneer Virtual Academy.

Cawood is a Stillwater High School graduate, with bachelor's degrees from Oklahoma State in History and Education as well as a masters in Curriculum and Leadership Studies. Cawood and spouse, Chad have both lived in Stillwater all of their lives and have two children, Caris and Marin in the district.   

Richmond’s current principal Kendra Rider will step into a part time assistant principal role in order to spend more time with her family and says she’s happy to have the opportunity to remain to help provide consistency at Richmond. Rider and Cawood worked together as principal and assistant principal for two years.

Dane Sallaska returns to Stillwater Public Schools after a brief stint as an administrator in Ponca City. “Ponca City is a sensational community, filled with wonderful students and educators. It is incredibly difficult to walk away from families and colleagues whom I have grown to love, but I am blessed to come home to Stillwater.  I am proud and honored to be a Will Rogers Mustang. I am ecstatic to develop life-long relationships with our students and staff.”

Sallaska has worked for SPS since 2007. He served at Westwood Elementary for twelve years, working eight years as a teacher and four as an assistant principal. Sallaska also served as an assistant principal at Stillwater Junior High for two years prior to becoming the principal of Roosevelt Elementary School in Ponca City.

A Beaver High School graduate, Sallaska received his elementary education degree from Oklahoma State University and his masters in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He is currently working toward his EdD at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.  He and his wife Jody have two children, Ella and Hilton, who attend Stillwater Public Schools. 

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FROM THE STILLWATER PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

Highland Park Elementary School Pre-K Teacher Theresa Campbel has been selected as the Stillwater Public Schools District Teacher of the Year.

Campbell is in her 22nd year of teaching at Highland Park, with one year of experience at a previous district.

“She provides an excellent developmentally appropriate learning environment,” says Highland Park Principal Laura Gordon. “Theresa has a deep understanding of the social, emotional, and academic needs of four year olds - no small feat! She helps students learn to self-regulate and manage all the feelings and behaviors that come with being a four year old in school for the first time. Theresa is an excellent ambassador for Stillwater Public Schools!”

SPS announced the Teacher of the Year during a districtwide virtual ceremony honoring all school site teachers of the year and retiring teachers on April 20, but Interim Superintendent Gay Washington and a team of administrators arrived to deliver the news and prizes in person.

“Theresa is an amazing educator and a quiet leader,” says Washington. “She has earned the greatest of respect, not only from those in her building, but across the district from her colleagues in early childhood. Hundreds and hundreds of kids have benefited from her instruction in those oh so important early years of their school careers.”

Campbell was selected for the honor by a group of her peers from three finalists. Other finalists were Lincoln Academy Mathematics Teacher Sally Buss and Sangre Ridge Reading Interventionist Abby Grantham.

Of the honor Campbell says, “SPS holds such a special place for me. It has always been known for excellence and is a system I am proud to be a part of. To teach with such amazing and supportive educators and friends and to be a part of the lives of children and families who have taught me so much is a blessing. I am both humbled and honored to be chosen to represent this district.”

Other SPS school site Teachers of the Year are: Sarah Pittman at Richmond, Casey Hansen at Skyline, Karyn Spencer at Will Rogers, Nicole Jarvis at Westwood, Carmen Ryan at Stillwater Pioneer Virtual Academy, Lynn Franzmann at the middle school, Heaven Meeks at the junior high, and Traci Richardson at Stillwater High School.

Campbell will go on to compete with teachers from across the state for the title of Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

Stillwater Emergency Management (SEMA) now have the new storm sirens and poles installed and fully functional.
Ongoing system testing has been occurring now to prepare for possible severe weather. The sirens were tested first earlier this month.

The project has been in the research and planning stages for several years and received funding approval for equipment in March 2021 from Mayor Joyce and Councilors.

The final bid, approximately $493k, was awarded to Goddard Enterprises for 22 mechanically operated storm sirens, relocation of 10 modular storm sirens and removal of 29, outdated Modulator Controller Plus (MCP) storm sirens. Of the replaced storm sirens, 15 will be utilized for parts to support remaining modulator storm sirens or can be used in areas of new development. Additionally, 32 poles were replaced for $45k.

“We knew several of the storm sirens in the outdoor warning system were quickly approaching the end of their life cycle due to age, lack of support from the vendor and unavailability of parts. Our team focus was to protect existing coverage areas, expand coverage to ensure there were no gaps, while also saving tax payer dollars,” said SEMA Director Rob Hill.

SEMA analyzed coverage and gap areas to find solutions to reduce the number of storm sirens, reduce the number of batteries needed to provide power and expand the coverage for the Stillwater community. The location of the storm sirens was calculated by using a propagation matrix to determine coverage patterns, population density and community needs.

Hill explained by selecting the Federal Signal 508 sirens and utilizing the current modulators, Stillwater, Oklahoma State University campus, Lake Carl Blackwell and Lake McMurtry would be covered with storm sirens for emergencies.

“The new sirens are located in town, while the modulators are concentrated in the highly populated recreational areas, where announcements are needed to distinguish the types of disasters,” Hill included.

While the 508 model sirens do not make announcements, they are mechanical and produce a deeper tone that carries farther in windy conditions and storm situations. The new sirens will rotate on top of the pole when activated.

The modulators will be re-programmed to match the tone of the new sirens and will make announcements prior to activation. The modulators will announce the type of activation the siren is conducting – whether a test, warning or even a manual announcement related to a man-made event. After the announcement has been made, sirens are timed to activate simultaneously with a consistent tone

The installation process was delayed due to equipment delivery delays from the manufacturer and supply chain availability. However, once equipment was received, contractors began installation in January and February. Once the installation is fully complete, old poles from previous siren locations will be removed.

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