Monday, August 20, 2012

Predicting the football finishes

Predictions are like a person’s exterior region.

As in, everybody has one.

It’s the time of the year when newspapers and magazines are predicting the expected outcomes of Oklahoma high school football districts.

This is an inexact science, as you may recall.

It’s a good thing people do not depend on these predictions for income. I know I wouldn’t like that wager. There is no way to predict what a bunch of 15-18 year olds will do.

Factor in injuries, stage fright and much more and it becomes an impossible call.

Most of the predictions are based on either last year’s success or the number of starters returning.

I have looked over magazines and newspaper and decided to give you what they say, and what I expect to happen.

In 4A-4, Poteau is predicted to finish somewhere between third and sixth. Everybody says the district winner will come from Sallisaw and Cascia Hall. It is a tangled mess for the final two spots.

Broken Bow is mentioned in most predictions based on the number of returning starters, along with Fort Gibson, Poteau and Muldrow.

I’m going with Cascia Hall to win the district with second-place coming down to the Poteau and Sallisaw game, the district opener for both teams win week four.  This isn’t a homer pick, mind you, but based on what I saw in the scrimmage last week and the Pirates’ performance against Catoosa and Tulsa Memorial on Friday.

The Pirates will have a good test when they host Mena on Thursday in their final scrimmage.

In 3A-8, county teams Spiro and Heavener will compete. Spiro is usually mentioned in the top four while Heavener is near, or at the bottom. I think Stigler will probably win the district with Spiro, Checotah and Valliant competing for the final three spots.

Vian is the overwhelming choice in 2A-6. Pocola was predicted to finish in the top four in one poll I saw, but after the Wolverines and Hartshorne, the final two spots are wide open. I expect Panama to open some eyes this year.

Talihina is back in class A and predicted to finish behind Gore and Savanna. Uh, wrong.  With a load of starters back and dropping down a class, the Tigers will finish in the top two and wouldn’t surprise me to win the district.

Arkoma is picked in the top three of its district but has to replace a lot of starters. Bokoshe is expected to finish near the bottom of the district.

You can discuss the upcoming football season

Friday, August 17, 2012

And let the battle begin...

Imagine you are at Friday Night Fights, or in this case, Oklahoma fights.

In one corner, you have the powerful Oklahoma Tourism and Parks Department.

And the challenger in the other corner, the people of LeFlore County, represented by the Poteau Chamber of Commerce!

The fight will be to decide if there will be a Christmas Light Display at Wister Lake this year, or, more appropriately, will the tourism department help, like they have done since the event originated in 2003.

The first blow was delivered by the tourism department: No, there will be no help! We don’t have the manpower to assist in the display. Do it yourself! We will let you do it, but no help from us!

The challengers came back with a request that isn’t it your job and duty to actually support events like this, to bring tourists to Oklahoma? That is what the tourism department is designed to do and our tax payers support your department.

Tsk, tsk, the department shakes their head as they engage in a staredown. Don’t these people learn? Can’t they remember the Runestone? We do what we want. The governor is a buddy of our director, fools!

But wait, the locals fire back, we raise money every year to buy more and better displays. We don’t ask for your help in buying lights, just in putting up and taking down the displays and lights. This brings people from as far away as Arkansas to our state to visit and spend money, contributing to our state’s economy.

We will not use our manpower to put up or take down the lights, the tourism department counters with an uppercut. Even though we have $300 gazillion hidden away, we won’t spend the time or money for something in LeFlore County! What, you think you people down there are important?

The good people of LeFlore County are about to deliver a solid combination when Rep. James Lockhart fights through the crowd to join the fracas. He sends a solid right with a letter to the governor of the state, who will likely hide in her office and not get involved, much like the way she did during the tourism department’s foolish decision to close state parks.

The tourism department takes Rep. Lockhart’s fight and counters with the old we are losing money at the park and have had to take a 22 percent cut in the department!

The fight continues, but winds up in a draw!
There are no winners. The tourism department slips out the side door without making any changes. The chamber forges ahead with plans to try and keep the display, even without the help of our tourism department.

And once again, LeFlore County and its people are ignored.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Save the lights!

The Heavener Runestone is one of Oklahoma’s better attractions.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2011,  the Oklahoma Parks and Recreation washed its hands of the park and six others around the state. The city of Heavener is responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and advertising.

Now, one of the county’s more popular events is in danger of shutting down.

Since 2003, thousands of local and not-so-local residents have visited Wister Lake to drive through the beautiful Christmas Light display on Quarry Island.


It is a great way to bring visitors to the county, who can see a great display and hopefully shop in the county.

Unfortunately, park officials have notified organizers the staff will no longer help in putting up the display or taking it down after the tour ends.

Who is to blame? A person close to the situation says it is split between local and state officials.

Sure, this is more work for the workers at the lake, in addition to their other duties.

But isn’t it worth it?

Think this would happen if it was a park in Oklahoma City? I don’t.

Organizers are hoping to save the display, which they have worked extremely hard to grow each year. Volunteers greet the visitors at the entrance to the display and the guests give donations to help maintain and add more lights.

Some of the lights from last year were never even taken down.

So unless something is changed, if you want to see an excellent Christmas light display, be prepared to travel to Muskogee or some other distant location come December.

If you want to help save the Christmas Lights at Wister Lake, contact the Poteau Chamber of Commerce at (918) 647-9178.

You can also contact the Oklahoma Parks and Recreation Department at (800) 652-6552 or by email at

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A strange request

Since April, I have been publishing, a website about Oklahoma sports from the pros down to high schools.

The site has stories and links to other stories on Oklahoma sports, including teams and players with ties to our state. Many of the state’s teams and schools send me their press releases and I post them.

All the stories are broken down by sport, along with team or school. I am working on updating high school scores by school and have got most of the Heavener information published. The Heavener page has 99.9 percent of the football scores back to 1926, along with pictures, stories, coaching records and much more.

You can see the Heavener page HERE. Eventually, I hope to have the same sort of page set up for each school in the state.

The website has not caught on like I expected. I blame this on bad marketing on behalf of the publisher.

Over the weekend, I purchased a book on marketing. So I have been reading up on marketing, looking for a way to spread information about the site and get the word out.

I have been posting updates to’s Facebook page and the Google + page, and sent out some emails to get people to visit the site and read the stories.

Last night, I woke up about an hour after falling asleep with a strange idea. I would send out an email to one friend, ask him to send out emails to anybody he knows might be interested in the site, and ask them to do the same.

I would ask that if they like the site to do the whole like thing on the site’s Facebook page and see if and how many people liked the site and how many hits the site received. And also to request they also forward the request to the people who are interested in sports, especially Oklahoma sports.

Plus, I decided to write this blog to help. Currently, the site has 50 fans. But instead of just sending out the email to the person, who is still considered a friend but who might reconsider after this request, I ask that you do the same.

Visit the site. If you like it, please like it on Facebook and share a link to this blog with anybody you think might be interested and ask them to do the same. Then ask them to repeat and keep it going.

I will report back the results, whether they are great or it was a waste of time.

Plus, I have even a stranger idea in the works for next week.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A new addition to the Journal...

The LeFlore County Journal will turn three years old in the middle of September.

Thankfully, we have a good base of readers who click on every day, or at least several days a week.

Then, there are the occasional clickers to the Journal.

To all of you, I can’t tell you how much you are appreciated. (P.S. I would appreciate you even more if you share the Journal with friends, neighbors, relatives and people you meet at the store)

Because without you (and my great advertisers!), there would not be a

Back in 2009 when the Journal was first launched, I described the site basically as an online newspaper.

But that description did not fit then, and really does not fit anymore. The Journal isn’t a newspaper, of course, even an online one.

It took a while to figure that one out. We are a website to inform and hopefully entertain our readers.

I want to get the news, sports and information out to you readers, both first and best. That’s our biggest advantage over our friends at other media companies. And I want to offer additional services you will not find by opening a newspaper.

That includes photo galleries and my latest offering, video. That is our new and hopefully big addition to the Journal in coming months.

In addition to stories and photo galleries, I will be adding video to a lot of the stories on the Journal, especially sports.

I must caution that I am not a professional videographer, which is plain to see. Saturday was my first real experiment adding video to a story as I went to the Poteau Red-White football scrimmage and embedded the video clip to the story.

You can see the video HERE.

For the Journal to continue to grow and reach more people, we have to offer the things people like. That includes stories, photographs and now, video.

Hopefully you like the new addition. Also, when we switched software and hosts last year, I did not include the link to the Journal’s forum.

But I am also bringing it back out of the dreaded mothballs so our readers can discuss issues with each other. It has never caught on like I expected, but hopefully it will now.
Here is the link to the Journal’s forum.

Please take part in it, but keep it civil.

As always, I like to hear from you. If you have comments, suggestions or advice, please send an email to

Friday, August 10, 2012

See ya, summer siesta

The summer siesta, as if, is officially over.

The summer used to be a time to catch my breath here at Journal world headquarters, but no longer. No games to cover, but a lot more content comes through the inbox and the new website is growing bigger each day.

Check it out. Now. Or, at least as you finish reading this insightful column. It’s stories about Oklahoma sports, from the professionals to the high schools. And, a special bonus, no Arkansas crud!

Schools have already started or will soon. Trish the Wife no longer can sleep until noon since she is busy educating students.

It is still hot, like you didn’t know that, but cooler temperatures should arrive by, say Thanksgiving.

The monsoon season for LeFlore County arrived on Wednesday, at least for a day. There were winds blowing up to 75 mph in Poteau with rain coming down in sheets. You can check out the video HERE. I almost broke an arm off by simply opening the door, got a wind gust and soaked in approximately half a second.

Several trees were lost at Choctaw Country Club and houses in south Poteau were damaged by the high winds.

Typically, we don’t have to worry about those types of weather outbreaks this time of the year. We just have to worry about if we will get any rain during August.

Everybody is complaining about the heat and saying it’s because of global warming. Okay. Each day in our weather forecast on the Journal, I list the record highs for the particular date.

Several days recently, the record high was from the dreaded summer of 2011. But there have also been record highs from back in 1936 of well over 100 degrees.

I didn’t suffer through that summer. My parents were only a year old so they weren’t even dreaming about having a child, even one as brilliant as, uh, my brother Brian. Speaking of brother Brian, he just had his 51st birthday yesterday. I used to think people of our age group were pretty much ancient.

Sometimes, my view has not changed.

Think it’s rough now? Air conditioning was rare in most homes and business offices back in those dark ages. I imagine the body odor factor was rather pungent, even more so than now, eh?

For those of you bored about the dog days of summer, there are plenty of activities coming up (which you can read about in our county calendar!) with fastpitch softball games already being played and football coming soon.

So far, we just have the practices. But the scrimmages start next week and the first game for county teams is Aug. 30 when those fighting Panama Razorbacks host Gore. The other county teams get started the following night.

Plus, you Poteau Pirate fans out there can get a preview Saturday night when the Red-White scrimmage is held at 7 p.m. at Costner Stadium.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Great year for OK Kids teams

It’s hard to make a state tournament in any sport.

That is true in basketball and baseball, even in the OK Kids leagues.

This was a banner year for LeFlore County and the future of baseball in our county looks good.

LeFlore County was represented in all four divisions at the OK Kids State Baseball Tournament.

Heavener Thunder advanced to the state tournament in coach-pitch, Poteau had two teams in the pee wee state tournament while the Poteau Pirates made it to the midget state tournament and Wister fielded a team in the preps state tourney.

But even better, two of those teams brought home state championships.

The Heavener Thunder won the first state championship in OK Kids baseball with a 19-17 win over Hollis on Saturday. Heavener was undefeated in the tournament and not really challenged until the finals.

Head coach David Grubbs said his team won over 50 games and lost just three, only one to an OK Kids team.

The Poteau Buccaneers were the second county team to win a state championship. The Buccaneers closed out a perfect season with a 4-2 win over the Shawnee Spikes to capture the pee wee state championship.

Until the finals, the Buccaneers’ closest game at the state tournament was the opening round against the Poteau Rebels.

The Poteau midget team lost its opening game to eventual state champion Clinton White, but bounced back to win a game before being eliminated.

And while Wister failed to win a game in the state tournament, both games were close contests.

Plus, the Heavener Hotties finished second in the OK Kids softball state tournament.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Smart phone? No thanks...

I remember how excited I was back in November of 2011.

I was getting a smart phone! Wow! I could get on the internet on my phone and do so many things with it!

The Craigman with a smart phone! I thought of all the hours of enjoyment the phone would bring and…then I got it.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent techno person. But the problems started early and continued. I had problems with the battery running out after approximately five hours, going over my allowed internet use when I didn’t use the internet.

Trish the wife complained about the extra cost, especially the overage. I paid around $200 for the phone, and soon after buying the device, saw the price drop to $100, and then even lower. Aargh.

And I figured out pretty quickly that I really did not enjoy looking at the internet on a small device when I typically was on the computer for some 10 hours a day already. If I needed to look something up on the internet, I could do it most of the time by walking into the office of LeFlore County Journal world headquarters or at work.

So the whole smart phone for a dumb Craig did not really work that great.

I received notice last month that I could upgrade my phone. I did, sort of, by downgrading my phone.

Now, I am probably one of the few people in history who have gone from a regular cell phone to a smart phone, and now dropped back to a regular cell phone.

My smart phone was good for calls and texting, which is primarily why I have a cell phone. I might be a tad bit dumb when it comes to smart phones, but I figured out I could probably do the same thing with a regular cell phone and not have to worry about going over my tiny allotment of internet time.

I went and got my new phone the other day, even received in some trade in for my old phone. Bonus, by gosh!

I had to sign a new extension and paid a whopping $1.06 for the phone. The battery life is much better. The reception in our house usually stinks (get that fixed AT&T!), but the new phone seems to get much better reception. I was able to take a call last night and not have to walk outside.

And, best of all, it wasn’t a hassle to get it done. I was actually able to talk to a person at the Best Buy Mobile store at the mall. I didn’t have to make a call, listen to all the voice mail prompts, try to understand an individual from some foreign country speaking jibberish English, or wait for the phone to arrive.

Very nice. Now, if I can just figure out how to make this phone work…

Friday, July 6, 2012

The alumni are coming!

Hundreds of new and old alumni will descend upon Heavener this hot weekend to catch up with old friends at the Heavener Alumni Reunion.

Every other summer the alumni get together for a street dance, parade, class parties and a banquet, thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people.

Our class held its 30th reunion this past fall so I doubt there will be a lot of activity for the all-time greatest class at Heavener, the Class of 1981.

But it always amazes me what a big deal this is for a lot of people. Alumni travel from near and far, as in very far, to prove you can return home, at least for a short time.

Yeah, home has changed a lot over the years. But the memories are still there of snake dances, Liberty Theater, cruising from one end of downtown and back, football games, teachers, events and so much more.

Once again, grads will return to a place that helped make them what they are. They will see all the changes at the school, cruise through town and remember when this was here and that was there, and think back to spending some of the best years of their lives in this little town at the base of Poteau Mountain.

I have been fortunate to meet a lot of people over the years, and some of them I consider friends. But my closest friends have always been, and will be, those who once wore the purple and gold and knew the words to Allegiance to old Heavener High and wondered what exactly
High-rickety-whoop-dee-do actually meant.

So welcome back all you other ex-Wolves and I hope you enjoy your return home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Go vote!

Go vote!

Now, not later. And certainly not when and if you get around to it.

An individual’s right to vote is one of the biggest privileges we have.

People have died so we have the right to vote for who we want to represent us in our government.

And still, the voter turnout is usually low.

That is a shame. I have been guilty of this, as well, at times when the election did not seem important or I didn’t care about the question or the candidates.

But no more.

If there is an election, I will do my best to vote starting today.

You can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at your local precinct. It doesn’t matter if you are a supporter of only one candidate or have a good grasp on all the elections.

Go vote.

We have the opportunity to vote for who will possibly represent us in the state house, a congressman, sheriff and county clerk and more, depending on where you live in our fine county

No governor or president, but it is still an important election.

I will be casting my vote during my lunch hour, unless somehow I can get around to it before going to work.

Hopefully, a lot of county residents will take advantage of this opportunity and let their voice and vote be heard.

This is the first of possibly three elections spanning the rest of 2012. There could be a runoff election in August with the general election in November.

And remember to take some form of identification, either a state or government issued identification or your voter card.

We will post updates from the election board as the results start coming in on the Journal’s Facebook page so you can get updates as they are reported.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Let's 107 degrees?

I found out Friday I get to play in the Poteau Chamber of Commerce golf tournament today.


I do enjoy my golf, especially the better tournaments such as the Chamber’s golf outing.

This morning, I was updating the weather forecast for the Journal.

Going to be sunny, okay, kind of expected that.

No chance of rain, always a good sign when one is going to hit the links.

Hmm, let’s see about the temperature…107!

Egad! Is that a typo? Has some weather dude, or dudess messed up. Negative.

That 107 degrees, ladies and gents, will set a new record for June 25.

I don’t know that I have ever golfed when it is 107 degrees. Last year when it got so hot, I traded in the golf for air conditioning.

Of course, it will be cooler up on Wolf Mountain.


Good breeze, can’t forget about that. But then again, since it is up on a mountain, wouldn’t it be warmer since we are closer to the sun?

I have already planned for my attack against the heat. Cool clothes, hat, ice, lots of water, and seek out shade at every opportunity.

My choice of liquid refreshment has changed to water. And lots of it. No heat stroke for Craig!

What happened to the milder summer? I’m extremely sorry, but 107 degrees in June is not mild in any shape or form.

The poor yard is already parched. Heck, I even started watering last night to try and save the grass. Typically, I just let it die so I don’t have to mow.

I fear if this is a teaser of things to come, there isn’t enough water in Wister Lake, or its tributaries, to save our grass.

Fortunately, the forecast calls for cooler temperatures on Tuesday. Cooler as in 102 degrees. I doubt that will bring out the return of a jacket.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Send us your scores

With the summer slowdown firmly set upon us, I have been spending quite a bit of time adding old football scores to my new website

I had a bunch of scores from county schools and others from around the state last year when I had to shut the site down.

Now, I am rebuilding all the information and I could use your help.

I have not posted them yet, but do have all the football scores from county teams back to 2004. I have Poteau’s scores posted back to then. Here is the link to the section on high school football scores

I have more scores from Heavener than any other school, since I once did research and came up with most of the scores going back to the 1930s. You can see the Heavener scores I have posted HERE.

I have the scores posted back to 1990 as I write this, but have several years missing. I am going to post all the information I have from Heavener before starting on the other schools.

So, I need your help. If you have scores from any of the county or state teams, please send an email to

Eventually, I hope to have scores posted for all the state schools, although that will take a lot of time and help.

If you see a year, or game missing, please let me know. I would also appreciate it if you would pass this on to any friends who might have this information.

I continue to post the top Oklahoma sports stories every day on the site, but the old football scores will probably be the most popular part of the website.

Also, if you have old pictures from football games, please send them along also. I do have some pictures from a bunch of old Heavener games and players, but would like to have them from other schools as well.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Let the people, er, candidates speak!

Despite the obvious Thunder obstacle, the political forum went on as planned Thursday and a good crowd flocked into the Reynolds Center to see and listen to local, state and national candidates.

Prior to the start of the forum, I mentioned to a couple of friends that at approximately 7:50 p.m., it would look like Moses parted the Red Sea as the crowd disappeared in search of a television to watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Thunder and the Heat.

We did lose a few, but most of the crowd stayed for the entire forum.

And they got a final look and chance to listen to many of the candidates running for positions in the upcoming Primary Election on June 26.

We got to hear some good speakers…and some that were not as polished.

Candidates talked about the usual hot button topics like jobs, taxes, water and the like.

The current office holders talked about the progress that had been made during their terms while those seeking the office preferred to look forward.

For the most part, it was a civil evening. Nobody nodded off, at least no snores could be heard from the audience.

One of the best parts of the evening was hearing Pansy Kidd student Talynn Barnes sing the National Anthem.

Then, we got to meet the candidates as they all gave a short introduction and asked for our vote.

There seemed to be a general consensus among 99.9 percent of the candidates that more and better jobs are needed, that big government is BAD, water in southeastern Oklahoma needs to stay here and not be sold or given to Texas or Oklahoma City, the economy is not all that great and nobody likes or wants to burden the good people of southeastern Oklahoma with more taxes.

We got to hear candidates for county clerk, county commissioner in District 2, county sheriff, state senate, state representative and congress.

All the candidates were given a chance to introduce themselves. Only those candidates who are involved with the Primary Election answered questions from the panel consisting of representatives from the Poteau Daily News and Sun, Oklahoma Welcome, LeFlore County Journal, Spiro Graphic and Heavener Ledger.

The event was put on by the Poteau Chamber of Commerce and the PDNS, while Central National Bank was gracious enough to sponsor the event.

Former state senator Kenneth Corn was the emcee for the event while James Smith did a good job timing the speakers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Political forum tonight

The political forum will be held Thursday at the new Reynolds Center in Poteau.

This is the third forum that I have helped “moderate”.

There were two of them during the last rash of elections two years ago.

Kudos to the Poteau Chamber of Commerce and Poteau Daily News for organizing the event and to Central National Bank for sponsoring it.

I expect most of the candidates running for local office, along with the state representative and even some of the Congressional candidates will honor us with their presence.

This is a really good way to compare the apples to apples (or candidates vs. the other candidates).

All the candidates will be given a chance to introduce themselves and answer questions that have been submitted by the citizens.

During the last forums, we took questions from the audience, but that was not real easy to do. Of course, we did get some off-the-wall questions. I was the question booter last time. Hopefully this will have been done prior to the forum this time.

This will be one of the last times for the voters to listen to the candidates prior to the June 26 Primary Election.

The thing I like about these forums is you get a chance to see the candidates grouped together. We can gauge how well they speak, appearance and their knowledge of things the voters are interested in.

If it is anything like the last forums, some of the candidates will be well prepared while one or two might get caught with the old deer in the headlights look.

The forum starts at 6:30 p.m., which gives us roughly an hour and 30 minutes before the crowd disappears to check out the Thunder in the NBA finals.

I think it would be interesting to throw in some really wacko questions like if you were an animal, which animal would you be?

But I doubt the other media representatives would go for that.

So check it out tonight and get a look at our future leaders.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We be streaming

Perhaps, I am a bit out of touch.

Okay, I am a lot out of touch on a lot of things.

But last week, we finally got streaming service at our house.

We were even behind by mother, who was been watching movies and other stuff streamed over the internet for way over a year.

My brother, Brian, upgraded some electronic device and no longer needed his Roku player so we received a hand-Craig-down electronic device.

I had signed up for Amazon Prime back when Trish the Wife purchased me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, but I had not used it much for the video stuff. It was tough for me and my aging eyes to watch movies or anything on something with that small of a screen.

I do enjoy reading on the Fire, though, and do some surfing on it.

After we figured out how to make the Roku work, we looked for something to watch.

And kept looking for something to watch.

That is a big problem in the Hall household. There is a big choice of stuff to watch and it is hard to pull the trigger on one thing, worried there might be a better choice available if you keep going through all the available shows.

For two nights, we watched old horror movies from the 1980s. The first was the original The Fog and the next night we watched Silver Bullet.

Both movies were far scarier than any of the crud which is put out now.

The special effects are not so special and some of the acting is not the best (Think Gary Busey. Enough said). But both movies were still enjoyable to watch.

One thing I did notice quickly was the movies back then did not feel the need to drop a F-bomb every other word. They might throw in a Hoover Dam (take out the Hoover and add an “n” to the last word), but none of the F-this or other words which most directors and writers seem to think need to be included now to qualify for an R-rating.

I also watched a documentary Sunday morning which was very good.

Brian says we need to add Netflix, but there is so much available through Amazon Prime that it will be a while before that is necessary.

You can rent movies which aren’t included among the free stuff available through membership in Prime, including many new releases. The movies cost a little more than they do at Blockbuster, but you don’t have to waste time driving to and from the video store.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Signs, signs...everywhere a sign

Everywhere one goes in LeFlore County, it isn’t the Scissortail Flycatcher or the wildflowers that catches our eyes.


It is the campaign signs urging us to vote for this political candidate or that political candidate.

I try to ignore them, and do for the most part. But they are still irritating.

And do they work? Would somebody actually vote for a person just because they saw his or her campaign sign?

I can just image somebody driving down the road and they see a colorful sign. “Lookie there, woman!” the man says while pausing to spit in his spit can. “Now that there’s a pretty sign! I’m a gonna vote for him (or her)!”

Maybe that happens. Let’s hope not.

I know, the signs are for name recognition. Political candidates and their supporters feel like the more signs they have out, the better chance they have to win the upcoming election.

The only people winning from all the signs are the sign makers.

I would love to see some town or city ban all political signs. It won’t happen since the people making those decisions will probably have to post similar signs for the next election.

But it would be nice.

Maybe I am in the minority, but I have never and hopefully will never vote for somebody because of a sign.

I prefer to vote for the person who makes the best impression and believes in the same things I do, not because they have the most signs or the prettiest sign.

And we still have the phone calls, both recorded and live, from the candidates and their supporters urging us to vote for their favorite candidate to look forward to as we move closer to the election on June 26.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A trip to Cedar Lake

Trish the Wife and I took four kiddoes to Cedar Lake on Saturday.

It’s hard for me to turn down a trip to Cedar Lake, even on a hot afternoon where there will be lots of people and a lot of noise

I’m still not used to the new access road to the lake, but it would probably be fun to drive in a sports car.

Since two of the little ones were…little, we went to the sandy side.

After we parked, I went to pay and bonus! It was a free day. Nice.

We unloaded all the crud and before Trish and I could even get seated, the little ones were in the lake.

Many others had made the same choice as we had to spend a Saturday afternoon at the lake.

There have been a lot of improvements at Cedar Lake over the years. Just on the sandy side, there is a fishing deck just off to the side and a concrete walkway down to the lake.

There is also some playground equipment to entertain the children when they get tired of swimming. New bathrooms, grills and much more.

Every time I visit Cedar Lake, I remember all the time I have spent there over the years. I remember camping, swimming, jumping off the dock for the first time, fishing with my dad, exploring the trails and so much more.

I can still remember the spot where we camped on a memorable visit back in the fall of 1971. We camped on the dock side and my father and I listened to the OU-Texas football game on an old radio while sitting in lawn chairs.

It took me a while to realize why he got so excited when OU scored or made a big play since I was only eight at the time. It didn’t take me long to figure it out, though.

All four of the kids had a good time, especially the little ones. Trish had gotten some water guns and balls that float on water. The little ones would throw the ball and race to see who could retrieve them first.

Some older kids would climb up on the poles and jump into the water, just like we used to do a long time ago. A couple of the kids hunted for crawdads while dads got out in the water and tossed their kids or took turns splashing and getting splashed.

No video games or phones, for a little while at least. Just summer fun the way it should be.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The drive-in experience

A couple of weeks ago, we were sitting at home watching a movie with some friends and somebody suggested we go to the Tower Drive-In to watch a movie.

Since the movie we were not exactly enjoying was not one of the best flicks ever, we agreed to go and watch a double feature offering Men in Black III and Ghostrider, the sequel.

It was around 7:30 or so and the movie wouldn’t start until around 8:40ish. No need to hurry, plenty of the time.

So we split up to get ready and decided to meet at the drive-In.

We loaded up some lawn chairs in the back of the Craigmobile (not to be confused with the Batmobile), and made the short drive to the Tower, expecting to leisurely make our way in, pick out a good parking spot and enjoy a night of watching movies under the stars.

As I drove up the lane, I realized the plans might not go as expected. There were already well over a hundred vehicles parked and waiting for the movie and several autos waiting in line.

Uh-oh, I thought and probably said, but can’t remember. I pulled out the phone and gave our friends a call telling them to get those rears in gear and hurry up.

Kids and some not-quite kids were playing down at the bottom down by the screen. I didn’t see any parking spots until we got to the top, and then, there weren’t all that many.

We paid and made out way into the lot to find a spot. I deftly parked at a spot in the upper corner, using my years of driving experience.

After I had to repark after the Trish the Wife was not exactly impressed with my parking, I got out and moved our chairs to an adjacent spot to save one for the Perdues, the Andy and Brenda variety.

“Gosh, there are a lot of people here,” I said. Trish said something appropriate like “duh”.

After I got comfortable in my chair, she decided it was time for some goodies. I had noticed the line was quite lengthy on the way in and suggested she go to the concession stand while I guarded the extra spot for the Perdues, but was given a wife veto and sent on my way in search of popcorn and a soft drink.

I ran into a couple I know (not literally) and mentioned how surprised I was to see this many people since my last visit was to watch Twister, which according to my friend Google came out in 1996.

Being veteran drive-In attendees, they said it was like this all the time. I thought they were joking.

Nope. Then, they said they arrived at 6:30 that night to make sure to get a good spot.


And I found out later that people actually had to be turned away the previous weeks when Avengers was showing. I also discovered the concession stand offered a lot more than I expected with hamburgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes and more, not just candy, drinks and popcorn.

Gosh, I felt like an idiot. I thought drive-in movies were on their last legs with DVDs, movies on smart phones and tablets, etc.

Not hardly. People still dug watching movies outside, just like they did back in the 1950s and 1960s. The biggest difference is you don’t have to attach a speaker to your window like you did back then. You turn the old radio dial to a certain frequency and hear the volume over the radio.

Our friends showed up and we parked the women folk in the back of the truck, but were nice enough to let them sit in lawn chairs, while Andy and I sat in our chairs by the truck.

Men in Black III was pretty good. We hightailed it after the first flick because it was past my bedtime and I had no desire to watch Ghostrider 2 Spirit of Vengeance since the original Ghostrider was easily one of the stupidest movies ever.

Plus, this week I read a story in the Tulsa World about a drive-in theater in Tulsa reopening after the screen burned and how anxious people were to attend it again.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The war is on

As the temperature heats up and summer makes its debut, it is obviously going to be a banner year for mosquitoes.

Maybe it was the lack of cold weather over the so-called winter, but it is almost impossible to spend much time outside at the Hall household without getting attacked.

I have done my part in trying to rid the mosquito menace by swatting several each trip outside, but the reserves are called out quickly to take the place of their fallen comrades.

We do not have any swamps or standing water, at least that I have found, so it is a mystery as to why the mosquitoes have chosen to make their stand at our house.

We bought one of the little candles in a pot that is supposed to rid the immediate area of bugs, but it almost seems like it draws more of them in. I change locations, which works for a few minutes until word spreads that the blood of Craig is available at a new location.

I read a story the other day that says you can use a fan to help alleviate the problem. I have not tried this yet, but did sit outside with Trish the Wife the other day and urged her to talk to see if the hot air would chase off the critters.

It didn’t.

They aren’t all that bad during the hot parts of the day, but in the evening when I like to sit outside and try to wear the dogs down by playing ball, the air is thick with them.

I have even considered putting up a Martin house (no relation to the Martin Tate home) since they are supposed to be quite the mosquito eaters, but have not done that yet as I fear the sparrows will take the house over and I will spend as much time battling them as I do the mosquitoes.

Some people have suggested using bug repellent, but I really don’t want the smell of Off! to mask my manly odor.

I guess the next step is to buy those Tiki candle things and fill it with citronella. Two problems right off the bat. I fear the ground is so hard it might require a backhoe and the smoke from the citronella makes me gag.

And then I got to read the story in the Journal the other day from the LeFlore County Health Department advising care as mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus. Egads. I don’t want any of that WNV stuff, although fortunately it is has been rare in the great state of Oklahoma.

Hopefully my chances of getting WNV are about the same as winning the lottery.

So it is onward in the great fight against the Mosquito Swarm of 2012. Fight hard brothers (and not just my brother Brian) and sisters (which I technically don’t have) and we shall prevail, or maybe the city will spray to rid us of this problem.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New projects

I wanted to share with you a couple of new projects I have been working on.

The first is I restarted a website in April and it is growing and getting bigger daily. has the top sports stories each day from throughout Oklahoma, from the professionals down to high school. All the stories and links are broken up into sections for each sports and team or division, which makes it easier if you are interested in OU, the Thunder, OSU or high school sports.

One of the most popular parts of the website is I am working on adding old high school football scores HERE. So far, I have all the county schools’ scores from 2011 and added Poteau back to 2003. Now, I am slowly adding the Heavener scores, which I have back to the 1930s but have only gotten a couple of years posted. There are a couple of years missing, so any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

I do have all the scores for county schools back to 2004, but need your help. If you have scores from any high school please send that information by email to, or mail it to: Craig Hall, 300 S. Earl, Poteau, Ok. 74953.

This is a statewide site, not just for the county so we need scores from all the high schools. I really appreciate any help you can give with the scores, or by sharing the site with anybody you know who likes sports.

I first started the site last year but had to shut it down because the web software I was using was not supported any longer.

Also, I am adding a new addition to the Journal. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a video camera so we can have videos on the Journal to complement the stories.

So far, I have posted one video to the Journal’s YouTube channel. You can view the video HERE or click the link above. It was a video of a golfing expedition on Memorial Day to learn how to edit and post the video.

The plan is to add video for stories on upcoming events and stories I cover to complement the pictures and story. Hopefully you will like this addition to the Journal, but there is still a lot I have to learn about using the camera and the editing process.

Thanks to all of you for your support. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send an email to

Sunday, May 6, 2012

These guys are good

To borrow a line from an old NBA commercial, “These guys are good!”

Those guys are the soccer players for Poteau and Heavener, two teams which met at Harvey Stadium Friday night in a Class 4A quarterfinal playoff game.

I have only attended approximately three soccer games in my life. The previous ones were not exactly compelling.

That certainly wasn’t the case Friday. I was caught up in the action, the excitement and all that goes with it.

I can’t count how many games I have been to this year, but Friday’s game was as good as any I have attended.

The players were like magicians with the soccer ball, backwards kicks to teammates, headers which would have given be a migraine, and the constant action.

They did things with the ball I could never dream of doing. Poteau’s Ashby Clark did something I have never seen before.

On throw ins, he would start way back at the track, run forward, place the ball on the ground and while flipping over heave the ball a long way and wind up standing. If I tried that, they would need to bring out the backboard and neck traction.

There was so much action that I grew tired just watching them within a few minutes.

It was hot and humid and the players were coated with sweat after a few minutes. But they kept going, like the old Energizer Bunny, full-speed sprints from one end to the other, then back again, with only short periods of rest.

Despite the importance of the game and one featuring opponents from only 15 or so miles apart, there seemed to be a respect between the teams which you seldom see in a sport anymore. Late in the game, there was a break and Heavener’s players got a drink of water.

They also shared the water bottles with a couple of Poteau players near the sidelines. Perhaps it is a sad reflection of the times, but that was one moment I will remember for a long time.

Think that would have happened in any other competitive sport such as football? I don’t.

Poteau eventually won, 4-2, to move on to the semifinals Tuesday at Mount St. Mary’s. The loss was the first of the year for Heavener in the Wolves’ first trip to the playoffs in the five years the school has been playing the sport.

And after the game ended, the players lined up and crossed the field to shake hands and offer congratulations. Again, just the way it should be.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A great day for the county

Thursday was a great day for LeFlore County.

Poteau's girls wrapped up the Class 4A state tournament by winning the tournament by 21 strokes over Anadarko and Hannah Ward was the medalist in the tournament.

The win was the first team state championship for Poteau since the late 1970s and Ward became only the second golfer to win an individual championship, to go along with the one Kyle Cofer won.

But that was far from the only good news.

The Spiro and Wister baseball teams won both their games Thursday to move within a game of making the state tournament.

While defending state champion Wister was expected to win both its games and the Wildcats did in defeating Haworth, 9-4 and Hartshorne, 3-1, Spiro pulled off a big one.

After defeating Morris, 9-5, in the first round of the regional tournament, the Bulldogs then defeated third-ranked Eufaula on its home field, 12-6, to move into the championship game of the tournament.

Wister and Spiro only have to win one more game to advance to the state tournament.

The only negative was Pocola lost to Hartshorne in the first round of the Wister regional and played a elimination game later Thursday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Heavener, Poteau meet in a big one

Heavener vs. Poteau, two old LeFlore County rivals will meet again Friday.

Just the mention of those two teams squaring off brings back memories of pep rallies, snake dances, bloated bleachers, lots of noise and a big game.

Heavener and Poteau have paired off in so many big games over the year in football, basketball, baseball and soccer. Just last month, they met in the finals of the slowpitch softball LeFlore County Tournament.

They haven’t met in football since 1985, at least the American variety. Now the biggest meeting of the year between the two schools comes Friday in…soccer.

Heavener didn’t even have a soccer team until a few years ago. Poteau has been playing for much longer.

While the stands at Harvey Stadium might not be as full as they once were back in the old days for an American football contest, this one is huge.

State quarterfinals. Winner advances one step closer to a possible state championship. Serious. Aside from the Poteau boys’ golf team qualifying for the state tournament, this is the deepest a boys team from either school has advanced into the playoffs.

Soccer fever hasn’t exactly swept LeFlore County, but this could help.

With apologizes, I must admit that I am not a big soccer fan.

We didn’t play it when we were kids or participate at any age group. I don’t understand much about soccer, other than the goal is to put a soccer ball into…the goal.

But for the players, parents and fans, this game is just as big, or bigger, than any they have competed in. And if it is anything like the first meeting, the fans will certainly get plenty of excitement.

In a conference game last month, the two teams could not figure out a winner in regulation. The first overtime didn’t help. Heavener finally won in the second overtime, 3-2, and eventually won the conference.

Poteau has won twice on the road in the playoffs, defeating Catoosa, 7-1, before edging Oologah 2-1 on Tuesday. Heavener had its first soccer playoff game Tuesday, winning 3-0 over Riverfield at home.

The two teams are the best in southeastern Oklahoma, and among the best in their class. Maybe the best overall. That will be decided next week.

Next up for the winner is a game against the Southeast-Mt. Saint Mary’s game on Tuesday in the semifinals.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I survive a spelling bee

Literacy Council coordinator Laura Young and husband Harvey look for Maverick.

It was my honor to represent the LeFlore County Journal, along with Trish the Wife and Big Barb the Mother in the Literacy Council of LeFlore County’s Adult Spelling Bee Thursday night.
The competitors ask each other how to spell.

I consider myself a pretty good speller, especially when using spellcheck. But this was my first spelling bee, at least that I can remember.

Naturally, I am not a win at all cost kind of person. I told anybody who bothered to ask, and a few who didn’t, that I either hoped we lost early or won it all.
Well, we didn’t lose early or win it all. Team Journal, not to be confused with Team Edward or the Team werewolf guy whose name I can’t remember, blazed to a third-place finish, outlasting seven other teams along the way.
I was surprised there were actually people who came to watch the Spelling Bee. I thought it must be a boring night for television, but discovered it was really pretty interesting, even for somebody like me who has Adult Attention Disorder, the old AAD.
Maverick of KTCS
While waiting for Maverick of KTCS to arrive, we were promised easy words for the first three rounds.
Our first word was caribou. I had a serious brain cheese and drew a blank so it was a good thing my teammates stepped up.
I could spell most of them and as Craig the Captain, so named because Ralphman Due Perdue had some family thing that prevented his appearance, or so he said, I had to actually spell the word when Maverick called on us.
We breezed through the first few rounds and soon other teams were dropping like band members at an August football game.
I was glad when the first team dropped out. At least we wouldn’t finish last. I tried not to show any joy when somebody else stumbled over a spelling, refusing to high-five the mother or even give a small fist pump.
I actually knew how to spell a couple of words my teammates didn’t, including aggregate, by gosh.
Soon, the words became borderline impossible. After the final four dropped to three teams, somebody informed us we had won a trophy. Whoa. Good thing I didn’t know that previously or I would have swallowed a tongue or choked on some of the tasty popcorn.
After it dropped to three teams, Maverick told us it was fixing to get tough, or words to that effect.
He was right. Buckley Library’s team was first to go. They were given a word so difficult they used a mulligan. I didn’t even know mulligans were available until shortly before the competition started and after finding out they cost $20, decided Team Journal would sink or swim.
That gave Buckley Library a pass.
Next, Maverick gave us the word abecedarian, but it was sounded out as abcdarian. I thought it was somebody who spelled out the alphabet. I did a mental check of the finances of Craig and thought maybe I could come up with $20 if I wanted to skip lunch and dinner for a few days.
Shouldn’t we be spelling words people actually use? It was helpless. I gave it my all but only got the first two letters right. I would say the crowd groaned because so many fans liked the underdog, but all I saw was a yawn or two.
The winning Stingers from Southern Star
The Southern Star team couldn’t spell their word, so a bit of controversy arose over Team Journal getting eliminated while the other two teams could not spell their words either in the same round.
Bee officials checked the rules and gave us the old heave-ho.
The other teams struggled after that, not that Team Journal could have done any better. Finally, the Southern Star Stingers actually spelled some ridiculous word correctly, then followed it up with another correct spelling and Southern Star was crowned champion and given the big trophy.
Team Journal: Maverick awarding us the trophy on the left along with Trish Hall, Craig Hall and Barbara Hall.
Our trophy wasn’t as big, but at least Team Journal left with some hardware.

Later, Maverick admitted he had never heard of I tried to console his anguish by pointing out we only cover LeFlore County. He asked some questions about the Journal and actually was interested, or put on a good act. I told Trish the Wife he didn’t sound like he does on his morning show, but she said he did.
It was a fun evening. I probably won’t start calling up friends and suggest we get together for spelling bee parties, but the main thing was it was a good night for the Literacy Council. So thanks to Laura Young and all the people who worked hard to make the night so good.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wister wins with class

It’s hard enough to reach the finals of the baseball LeFlore County Tournament.

And it’s even harder to actually win the tournament.

That is certainly true, but Wister’s baseball program is a different story.

The Wister seniors reached the finals all four years, winning their second title in three years with a 5-3 win over Spiro in the finals Saturday.

This group also won as sophomores and finished second as freshmen and as juniors.

Saturday’s win had to be even sweeter for the Wildcats by winning over Spiro on the Bulldogs’ home field. This came one year after Spiro won the LCT over Wister on the Wildcats’ home turf.

Many of the same players competed for both teams and it was a three-day war to cap off the tournament.

Wister won the first game, lost the second one Friday night to force a championship game, then got the lead and made it stand up behind the pitching of Cody Luman and an excellent defense which pulled off a pair of double plays and threw two runners out at the plate.

Clint Crane was the winning pitcher in the first game against Spiro and was 3-3 in the finals. He was named the tournament MVP for his play.

Luman also delivered for the Wildcats, pitching Wister to the win in the finals and also going the distance on Tuesday against Poteau.

And the win came despite Wister playing without Tyler Gibson, another standout pitcher for the Wildcats, who is out with an injury.

Saturday’s championship win continued to build on the Wildcats’ impressive resume, which includes a Class 2A state championship last spring and frequent trips to the state tournament.

The most impressive part of Wister’s play is the way the Wildcats play. They don’t talk trash or try to distract or embarrass the opponent.

And Wister’s success and class is what will be remembered.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rain...and running

Over my almost 49 years of living, I have learned to never complain about rain.

I have seen way too many dry summers and can usually not worry about a good rain, even if it is not the best time for it.

But this late winter, early spring monsoon of this week has been almost too much.

I planned to spend considerable hours watching baseball at the Poteau Wood Bat Festival, but noooo.

I have watched it rain. And rain. And then more rain. I have tried the old rain chant “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day…like July”, but gotten no response.

How are we going to bring thousands of college and high school students to make LeFlore County their spring break destination if all we can promise is rain?

The rain has also slowed down my annual spring running until my knees swell up like watermelons routine. I did get in a run Sunday and Monday, but that good start has been slowed because of the rain.

During my Sunday run, I did see something interesting. I was running (okay, maybe jogging very slowly) at the track when I actually passed a walker and noticed he was eating an ice cream cone while walking the track.

That didn’t quite add up to me. Yeah, it was an impressive use of multi-tasking and a part of me could understand his reasoning: Yes, I ate a double dip of ice cream and a waffle cone, but walked while I was doing it.

I am trying to get up to enough miles to do the Vike Hike in April and maybe do the Cavanal Killer in May, however, I am not particularly fond of trying out any event which has “Killer” in its title.

It has been over 10 years since I ran in a 5K. My only previous run was at Ben Geren Park in Fort Smith. That run was in May, starting at 1 p.m. Fortunately, I was in pretty good shape. But it was sunny and hitting close to 90 degrees, so it was not exactly prime running conditions.

When I got to the park, the sun kind of bothered me since I am lacking in the hair department. I checked and found no hat. I did have a visor and decided that would help keep my face cool. Bob Stoops does look better with a visor than the Craigman, I must admit.

Other than getting passed at the finish line by a guy approximately three times my age with more hair growing out of his ears than I did my head, I enjoyed the run since I actually finished without passing out or releasing projectile puke. The whole visor idea was not a great success, however.

I guess it did provide some relief to my face, but after getting home, I discovered that I had a unique sun burn over part of my head, but not other parts. Having a sunburned noggin is not an enjoyable experience.

All it did was provide some comic relief.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Journal answers the challenge!


A challenge? Issued to


Laura Young of the LeFlore County Literacy Council has asked me to get a team together for the 14th annual LCLC Adult Spelling Bee on April 19.

At first, I thought it was a joke. Really. She is recruiting teams to take part in the contest and wants all the county newspapers (and apparently the Journal falls into that category even though we are a website) as a part of the competition.

Just to be fair, I was going to turn down the invitation at first. I have a soft heart at times and didn’t want to crush the competition and make them leave with a beating of epic proportions.

Plus, there was the entry fee.

But after some consideration and because it is a good cause, I decided to give it a shot.

I have never actually competed in a spelling bee. There is the worry about getting asked a word and breaking out in sweats in front of the crowd with no spell check or internet to check for proper spelling, but then again, I could let one of my teammates be the actual speller.

That left another dilemma. It is a three-person team. I could probably win it all by myself, but I need to share the glory. So, who could I convince to be my teammates? Do I know anybody willing to step up to the plate and risk embarrassment after spelling an easy word wrong?

Sure. They just don’t know it yet. I plan to get my old pal Ralph (aka Ralphman Due) Perdue Jr. and Trish the Wife to be my teammates.

Plus, with Ralph, he could bring his chitlins Journey and Kirksey to be our cheerleaders. I considered using Molly and Dodger Dog, but they are easily distracted and don’t know if they will learn to bark on command in less than a month. Especially with everybody eating popcorn.

Ralph will hopefully be game unless Journey has a softball game that night. Trish the Wife is another story. Getting her out of the house can be a problem.

Both of them are smart and I think Ralphman Due would be an excellent speller for the team. I can just see him asking for the definition of a word and how it is used in a sentence, like the little guys and gals in the National Spelling Bee.

We could all dress in our official LeFlore County Journal T-shirts, which should both build camaraderie (in the interest of journalistic integrity, I did Google that word for correct spelling) and spread the word about the website.

This might not be the Dream Team of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan in basketball, but in spelling competition, I expect us to flourish and trounce the competition as we capture the championship.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Howe seniors close out great career

Part of the huge Howe crowd at the area consolation finals Saturday night

LeFlore County has been blessed with some great senior classes over the years.

You can add Howe’s senior class of this year to the mix. The Lady Lions’ class of Megan Brown, Brianna Hillebrand, Abigail McGarrah, Tori Kellogg and Mariah Landeros have more than done their part to keep Howe’s tradition alive.

Those seniors saw their high school career end Saturday night with a 39-30 loss to Amber-Pocasset in the area consolation finals.

The final mark for 2011-12 was 26 wins and only three losses. Two of those losses came to this same Am-Po team which is heading to the state tournament.

Four of the five seniors have started or been a major part of teams which have been the most consistent winners of the county’s girls’ teams over the last three years.

As sophomores, they finished second in the LeFlore County Tournament and reached the state tournament.

As juniors, they came up just short of another trip to the state tournament and once again finished second in the county, despite having to compete against six bigger schools.

And as seniors, they captured the LCT and were one of the final 12 teams playing in the state in Class 2A.

The only thing missing from their resume was a state championship. But despite not winning it all, this class will be remembered for a long time for their success, even though they played up a class over the last two years.

Howe could have easily made it to the state tournament this year if the OSSAA had not done some mixing and matching with the teams. If you go strictly on geography, Howe, Talihina and Colbert were the top three teams in the southeastern region.

But the OSSAA brought a pair of undefeated teams into the area in Amber-Pocasset, which is clearly not in the southeast part of the state along with Oktaha, which could have easily been in the northeast. And Colbert was sent to the southwest region.

Even without a state tournament berth this year, Howe was one of the top teams in the state and kept up the tradition of never having lost a game in its own gym.

Monday, February 27, 2012

County seniors provided many memories

Another basketball season is coming to a close and with it brings some sadness.

Since this is the third year for the Journal and my third year covering LeFlore County athletes, I have watched many athletes’ last dribble or shot.

During these three years, I have watched them grow in stature, along with skills.

I have watched their wins and losses and shared some joy and some of their disappointment.

I always try to be neutral in my stories and do not try the rah-rah approach. But I always pull for the county kids, at least when they are playing teams from out of the county.

Unfortunately, it will be tough for any county team to win state this year as the six teams left in the playoffs are all in the losers’ bracket. Spiro’s girls came through last year so there is always that chance, but it will be tough.

But they are still winners for being out there.

And the memories are plentiful. I remember Jared Brown of Howe as a sophomore hitting a pair of free throws which helped the Lions upset Red Oak, which came against a defending state champion in the finals of the Eastern Tournament.

Also, I remember Wilson Klutts hitting a shot against a good Heavener team as a sophomore, which pretty much clinched a big win. It was from deep in the corner, like many of his baskets.

I also enjoyed watching Ryan Carter of Cameron grow from a small sophomore to one of the better shooters in the county as a senior. He and his senior buddies such as Austin Standridge, Kenny Whitehead, Dylan Poor and Justin Cox helped the Jackets post one of the best records of county teams over the last two seasons.

The same goes for Grant Severe of Pocola. He was always a good player, but turned his game up several notches as a senior, helping the Indians surprise a ranked Gore team in the districts and playing one of the best games I have ever seen from a county player.

The Wister seniors kept getting better and finished third in the county tournament, along with their success in another round ball. Cody Luman developed into one of the better players in the county as a senior.

I only saw Howe’s girls lose twice over the last three years, both in the LeFlore County Tournament finals before the Lady Lions broke through this year to win the tournament. Those girls helped keep the amazing streak of never losing at home in place for the next group.

I felt a little pain for the Heavener seniors like Sadie Watkins and Jordan Kannady, who were part of dominating teams their first two years before the Lady Wolves struggled this season.

For the Poteau senior girls, it has been a long and difficult ride. After a rough sophomore season, they scored a big upset as juniors over Muldrow in the district tournament and had a tough senior season, until they got hot lately, won district again and are competing in the area tournament.

Nobody would have seen that happening a few weeks ago.

The time has run out for many of our seniors and will shortly for the others. But the memories will remain, long after the uniforms have been turned in for the last time.

Friday, February 10, 2012

County teams gearing up for playoffs

The 2011-12 basketball season is quickly winding down with districts for the smaller schools set for this weekend with the larger schools going at it next weekend.

The seasons seem to fly by and it only seemed like a short time ago that basketball started.

It has once again been a good year for many county teams with several teams having a chance to extend their seasons deep into the playoffs.
Last year, two county teams made it to the state tournament in the Spiro girls and Talihina boys with Talihina winning state.
Another state championship will be difficult as we currently have only one team ranking in the top 10 as the Howe girls are ninth in Class 2A, despite a 23-1 record.

With its record, Howe is obviously our best bet to reach the state tournament. The Lady Lions are in a tough area with second-ranked Oktaha, 14th-ranked Talihina, No. 15 Central and Rattan, the only team to beat Howe this season.

Perennial power Savanna is not ranked, but is also in the region.

Bokoshe’s girls are No. 10 in Class B and could make another run.

Spiro’s girls are not ranked and got a tough draw in the district with a road game at Eufaula, which is 14-4 and ranked 14th. The Lady Bulldogs had a difficult schedule and lost in district play last year before coming back through the losers’ bracket to make state.

For the boys, several teams have the potential to make a run, especially LeFlore and Spiro.

LeFlore is 13th in Class B and with the scoring combo of Dakota Watson and Caleb Smith, along with a good group of players, the Savages could surprise.

Spiro is so explosive and has played a very difficult schedule with games against Poteau, Muldrow, Roland, Stilwell and Oktaha. When the Bulldogs are hot and with their athletes, they could compete with pretty much everybody in Class 3A.

Howe, Pocola and Wister will be tough in 2A while Cameron could challenge in Class A with a solid bunch of starters, which can feature five seniors.

The county 2A teams are a tough draw. Howe has gotten better throughout the year and almost beat Spiro (at Spiro) in the county tournament. Wister has a pair of excellent scorers in Cody Luman and Tyler Gibson, while Pocola is also an explosive team with a 17-4 record.

Like Spiro, Poteau has played a difficult schedule and a tough conference slate. The Pirates are able to compete with anybody as they have played McAlester, Roland, Stilwell and Muldrow tough at home, only to lose late.

The Pirates got a break in the district by avoiding Muldrow and Roland and get to open at home against Hilldale. But Cascia Hall, Muldrow, Roland and Stilwell are all in Poteau’s area and the Pirates will likely have to play Roland on its home court in the district open with a win over Hilldale in the district tournament.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Alliance good for area

It is good to see the area working together under the Fort Smith Regional Alliance to make this area a better place to work and live.

A new manufacturing plant recently announced plans to open in Mulberry. Sure, Mulberry won’t have much effect on the citizens of LeFlore County, but it is still good news.

The Alliance is made up of towns within a 50-mile radius of Fort Smith, including six counties in Arkansas (Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Sebastian and Scott) along with two in Oklahoma (LeFlore and Sequoyah). There are 14 communities taking part—Alma, Altus, Booneville, Charleston, Clarksville, Greenwood, Fort Smith, Mulberry, Ozark, Paris, Poteau, Roland, Sallisaw and Van Buren.

In case you didn’t notice, Fort Smith is not listed first in that group. While it is named the Fort Smith Regional Alliance, this group seems to be working for the area and not primarily Fort Smith, which is a big reason I hope this group succeeds.

In the past, there have been other groups who tried to do the same thing, but the primary emphasis seemed to be on Fort Smith. For the alliance to succeed, it must be for the area, which seems to be the goal of the alliance.

We wish all the jobs and visitors would come to LeFlore County, but that is never going to happen. But if jobs and money come to the area, it is good for everybody. There are a ton of people from our county who work across the state line.
And unemployment in eastern Oklahoma is not that great. There are eight counties in Oklahoma with unemployment above 8.1. Three of those border Arkansas in southeastern Oklahoma in LeFlore, McCurtain and Sequoyah.

At the end of 2011, LeFlore County ranked eighth in the state in unemployment. Our percentage of unemployed was 8.4 percent, up from 7.6 in November, but down from 9.0 at the end of 2010.

LeFlore County has a labor force of 19,477 with 17,846 currently employed. Latimer County led the state at 10.5. Sequoyah was 8.9 and McCurtain was 9.7.
Here is a link to the unemployment statistics.

Aside from our local representatives and senators, nobody in Oklahoma City gives a flip about what happens in southeastern Oklahoma.

I imagine that is also true for our friends and allies across the state line. Western Arkansas and the Fort Smith area is not a big priority with Little Rock, especially not with the growth in northwestern Arkansas.

But with the Alliance working together, this could be the ticket. We have the development of Fort Chaffee and hopefully a lot more in the pipeline.

We will soon have a four-lane highway from Poteau to Sallisaw and I-40. Hopefully one day there will be a four-lane to Fort Smith from at least Poteau.

LeFlore County also has railroad access, an airport, college and the most beautiful area in the state for visitors to hike, camp, fish and hunt.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In case you missed it...

In case you missed it…

The following topics will be addressed in this blog:

Some blather about Groundhog Day;

Poteau’s Alyssa Kramer is hitting it big;

And…district basketball!


Today is Feb. 2, which means it is once again Groundhog Dog. Punxsutawney Phil will poke his head out to see if he can see his shadow, to determine if we are going to have six more weeks of winter.

Six more weeks? We haven’t even had winter. Duh.


Alyssa Kramer, the 14-year-old Poteau girl continues to amaze with her ability to say any word backwards. She appeared on the Today Show yesterday and her YouTube video has been viewed 2,041,448 times as of this morning.

Seriously. I did notice she didn’t say Bob Laval backwards, which is about the limit on my ability to say words backwards.

Her original YouTube video and her appearance on the Today Show can be seen by clicking HERE.


The class A and B basketball directs were announced a couple of weeks ago while the 2A, 3A and 4A will be released today at 4 p.m.

In Class A, our two county class A teams (Arkoma and Cameron) will be in a district at Cameron. Clayton is the third team in the district. Arkoma’s girls and Cameron’s boys have a bye.

The Class B schools have three different districts. Whitesboro is hosting a district (Eagletown and Moyers) in Area IV, while Bokoshe and LeFlore are in Area III.

Whitesboro’s girls and the Moyers boys have a bye in the first round.
Bokoshe will compete in a district at Kinta with Midway the third team. Bokoshe’s girls and Kinta’s boys have a bye.

LeFlore is hosting a district and will face McCurtain.

All the district games are scheduled for Feb. 10 and 11 according to the OSSAA.

It will be interesting to see how the districts for the larger county schools are set. We have five county schools in 2A with the districts set for three teams. Throw in Central Sallisaw and that would be six schools close by. You would think Howe and Talihina would be separated because of the strength of the girls, but you also wouldn’t expect the OSSAA to place Howe, Pocola and Wister in the same district because of the boys’ records.

We could easily see a pretty good team eliminated in the district tournament.

In 3A, Heavener and Spiro are the only schools competing. Also, Hartshorne, Stigler and Wilburton could be placed in a district. Don’t be surprised if Heavener and Spiro are paired together.

Look for Poteau to once again be placed in a district with either Muldrow or Roland. Sallisaw will likely be the other team competing against either Muldrow or Roland.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Readers respond...

Well, I apparently struck a few nerves with my blog yesterday about a recap of the LeFlore County Tournament, not that it was my intent.

My goal with the blog was to simply make a few suggestions, not disrespect any county gym, team player, official, fan, etc.

I wrote that I like Spiro’s gym and probably should have stopped there. Instead, I wrote that it was the nicest facility in the county.

This was not written to insult any other gymnasium, of course. The county is blessed with several nice facilities.

Lloyd James of Talihina wrote: I take offense that you said that the Spiro gym is the nicest in the county. Talihina has a nice gym and seats more than Spiro. Apparently Talihina is never considered as a host for the tournament except for its turn in the rotation. There has been several Area and Regional tournaments held here with the largest payback to the OSSAA in the state. All I ask for is a reason as to why Talihina cannot have the semi and finals here.

The tournament host decides where the semifinals and finals are played. Talihina can host the event just like any other school in the county and if it does, I would support it just like I would at any other location.

Another reader wrote: Howe also has a really nice gym, it may not have as much seating as Spiro but it is just as nice.

Howe does have an excellent facility.

I wrote that it would be better to play the tournament at a neutral facility so no team has a home-court advantage.

That brought on the following remark: i must be mistaken but i thought carl albert's gym was located in poteau. Did spiro have their own players ref the games?

Yes, Carl Albert’s gym is in Poteau. However, Poteau plays its home games at its own gym, not at Carl Albert. CASC would be a neutral site. As for officiating, that was not mentioned and I felt like the officials did a great job. Spiro won because the Bulldogs played better Saturday night, not because of favoritism by any official.

The best situation would be if the games were played at a neutral location. Any time a team plays on its home court, they have an advantage. Spiro has done a great job the last two years, and Bokoshe also did a great job as this year's host. I do not want to see anything hurt the tournament and there are always going to be some people who aren't happy if a team gets any advantage.

The LCT just completed its 80th run and I hope the tournament is around for 80 more years.


Unfortunately, not everybody can make the all-tournament team although Dylan, if this is actually Dylan, you have another shot at it next year and I wish you and all the other players the best.