Friday, April 29, 2011

Lamb's letter

Newly elected Lt. Gov. Will Lamb was kind enough to write a press release thanking the hard work of LeFlore County leaders in solving the mess the bureaucrats in Oklahoma City created in closing the Runestone.

You can read the release HERE.

Everybody who has tried to save the Heavener Runestone Park (notice, state is not included and never will be again) deserve a lot of credit. In Lamb’s press release, he cited Lundy Kiger, Traci Barnes, Samantha Hess and Mike Kennerson.

They recently visited Oklahoma City to visit with OTRD leaders and members of the state legislature and yes, they should be thanked.

In Lamb’s press release, he states that there has not been a better time than now to visit our great state. I agree. Visitors bring in a ton of money to our state, especially the eastern part of the state, where six of the seven starts parks that are being closed are located.

He also talked about the recent budget cuts which caused the OTRD to re-visit the financial opportunities of many state parks at the end of the summer and prompted a discussion at home and in the office. Financial opportunities? Uh, something closed will not provide financial opportunities. And discussion?  Lamb might have been involved in discussion before the parks were closed, but nobody from LeFlore County had that opportunity.

Instead, it was like the state of Oklahoma, the governor and the OTRD took a roundhouse swing at a bunch of little communities that depend on the state parks to thrive.

Lamb also mentioned the $500 million shortfall and the 5 percent reduction in budgets for state agencies. Good thing the OTRD has $39 million in the bank. And he gives props for the OTRD doing what they had to do, along with LeFlore County!

I almost felt giddy reading this. Almost.

I will probably once again catch some flak since we are supposed to put on our happy face while we work with the OTRD in transferring the operation of the Runestone.

And no, I do not know the Lt. Governor and have nothing against him. I thank him for, uh, thanking our county leaders. Yes, the Runestone will stay open because of the four people he mentioned, but also because of a lot of others such as Rep. James Lockhart, Sen. Mark Allen and many more.

Last but not least, Lamb mentions this true renaissance the state is experiencing. I might be wrong, but I thought a renaissance was something good, not the state leaders we elected allowing a travesty such as the closing of the state parks.

But thanks for the press release.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Looking for my safe place

To those in charge of ordering the weather, we apologize.

Whatever we did that was not right, WE ARE SORRY. Please, no more. We had the worst winter in recent memory and my shoulder has still not recovered from that dreadful slip and slide trip down the driveway thanks to the ice back in February. Did I mention how steep our driveway is? Think George Washington’s nose on Mt. Rushmore!

So now, every day almost for the last two weeks, radio guys and television dudes have talked in excited voices about vortexes, bulge patterns (should we be discussing this over the air?) and going to my “safe place”.

I have a safe place? Great, where is it? It does bring comfort in these times of woes to retreat to my safe place. Now, if I could just find it.

Garrett and the guys on 40/29, who I don’t know but visit when KFSM gets scrambled, which has strangely happened a couple of times, or switches over to air “Wheel of Fortune” when half of LeFlore County is about to get blown away, have started using “safe place”. I even heard it on the radio.

It used to be “get in the (insert dirty word) storm cellar or bathroom…and duck!” Is that our safe place?

I asked Trish where our “safe place” is, but she was too busy watching the same “Sister Wives” for the 15th time and did not give me directions.

Personally, I trust Garrett. In Garrett we trust, even though he, like every other announcer needs to realize it is R-I-C-H-A-R-T, not R-I-K-E-R-T. We have also been blessed with the butchering of Bokoshe and Pocola, but not by Garrett, by gosh!

Weather technology has come a long way. Now, we know just how big the blasted hail is going to be that is going to dent our heads, hoods and houses.

“See this purple mass!” a weather person announces. “That is hail! Let’s take a look at just how big the hail is!”

When they say “Whoa!” or use hail in another tone, it is not a good sign. Softball size? Please no. I don’t much care for the green pea size, let alone softball.

I do believe some of our weather guys have gotten a little carried away with all the technology available. “Say weather sidekick, let’s check out the vortex of that storm and before anybody figures out what the hail they are looking at, switch to something else right before we tell the good people of some community I have never heard of to duck because we missed that tornado which is about to wipe the community off the map while playing with our weather technology!”

And what makes it even worse is, as some of you are aware, my Clark Kent duties are working at an insurance agent before I put my cape on and become Journal Man.

Let’s just say the downtime around the office has been slim. Claims, claims and more claims.

The people have suffered enough. Heck, Molly turned a year old the other day and couldn’t even celebrate with a game of fetch since every time we tried to go outside, it rained and the wind blew hard enough to even mess my hair up.

Okay, it was nostril hairs, but it was still bad. Fortunately, that same weather technology is predicting good weather for the next few days. So we can all come out of our “safe place” and return to living.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baseball LCT was a good one

The 2011 edition of the baseball LeFlore County Tournament ended approximately at 4 p.m. Saturday.

This is one of my favorite events of the season, even though temperatures this past week went from freezing to hot.

Spiro capped off the week with a 4-1 victory over defending champion Wister in the finals behind a gutsy pitching performance by junior Joe T. Ross and some timely hitting.

As Spiro coach Paul Croft said after the win, “Baseball can be a funny game.”

How else can one describe the events over the tournament?

On Friday, Wister pounded Spiro 10-0 and most people probably expected a repeat performance in the championship game.

But it was a different Spiro team on Saturday. The Bulldogs looked nothing like the team that got blown out on Saturday.

You could tell by their enthusiasm level even before the game started. On Friday, the Bulldogs were just there and appeared to be intimidated by Wister.

If there was any intimidation, it disappeared overnight. Facing a team which had dominated county baseball for the last year, Spiro jumped ahead and most of Wister’s hard hits found a defender in the right spot.

True, the Bulldogs did get a little benefit as the wind was blowing in and two Wister hits which might have been a home run the night before, turned into long outs.

But Spiro earned this win behind its junior pitcher, who along with Whitesboro’s Dexter Morgan, showed that indeed, good pitching does beat good hitting.

You also can’t blame the Wildcats if they were a little worn out after winning four straight over the previous two days to force a second championship game. Yes, they are a bunch of teenagers, but the loss to Whitesboro on Wednesday forced Wister to win three times in less than 24 hours to just get into the first championship game.

This was definitely a tournament to remember.

And, it should get better next year. Spiro only loses two seniors. Wister will be missing three seniors, but returns all its pitching. Poteau has most of its players back and Pocola and Cameron will both be better.

So…how can the tournament get better? One idea some of the coaches have discussed is having the last two or three days played at Carl Albert. That would be an excellent idea and hopefully this can be implemented.

Some schools will be against that, but always having the most important games at a central location will increase the size of the crowds, as was evidenced during the games at Wister.

There were good crowds all week, much bigger than the ones that attended the games the previous year at Talihina.

Arkoma is scheduled to be the host next year. Hopefully Arkoma will give this a try, at least for one year. The field at CASC is great and would give the tournament an even bigger atmosphere.

And now, the attention turns to the girls slowpitch LCT, starting Monday at the PARC in Poteau.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wister, Whitesboro was a classic

I seldom like to throw around clich├ęs and sound like a cheesy sport’s broadcaster, but pardon me for saying the Wister and Whitesboro game Wednesday evening was indeed a classic.

The game was a winner’s bracket semifinal in the baseball LCT, coming shortly after Spiro defeated Poteau, 10-9, in the earlier game.

Wister is the defending tournament champion and had been virtually unbeatable since winning the LCT last year. The Wildcats’ only loss this season coming into the tournament was by…Whitesboro in the season opener.

But the Wildcats had reversed the previous loss in the Wister Tournament a couple of weeks ago and appeared poised to cruise through this year’s tournament just like they did last year.

However, it was soon evident this was not going to be another Wister slugfest. Typically, opposing pitchers need counseling after undergoing the battering by the Wildcats’ hitters.

On this beautiful spring evening, Whitesboro pitcher Dexter Morgan mixed his pitches well and kept the lethal Wister hitters off balance.

He wound up striking out 13 and allowed only three hits, all to Caleb Hill. Wister pitcher Clint Crane was almost as good.

The two teams battled back and forth, playing the game like it should be played. Neither team ridiculed the other or hollered out any silly chants to try and rattle the opponent. When Crane hit one of the Whitesboro batters, he apologized.

Think that would happen in many other games? I don’t.

After Hill’s solo shot in the bottom of the fourth, Whitesboro rallied for two runs in the top of the fifth on Morgan’s double down the left-field line.

But nobody thought this one was over, not with Wister having at least nine outs. But Morgan stayed calm and the Wildcats’ only chance was a one-out triple by Hill in the bottom of the seventh.

Morgan struck out the next batter and got the final out on a grounder to first.

Many teams would have rushed the mound and celebrated like school had been cancelled for the rest of the year. But while the Bulldogs were pleased with the win, they also realized this tournament is far from over.

Whitesboro, one of the smallest schools in the county, will play longtime power Spiro tonight and Wister is still lurking, not yet ready to give up its championship.

But for at least one night, Whitesboro was at the top of the baseball world in LeFlore County.

This was a surprise, but the win improved Whitesboro to 16-4 overall and the Bulldogs reached the state tournament in the fall, so it is no fluke.