Archive for Soonerland

Presumably at a low rate of speed

Zombies, according to everything I’ve read, just aren’t all that fast, which makes this story just a tiny bit less implausible:

According to a police report, a man called 911 Tuesday morning to report that a woman had jumped into his truck, locked the doors, and was attempting to drive away. The truck, carrying Sparkletts water bottles and jugs, was parked outside a Walmart in Sapulpa, a Tulsa suburb.

The suspect, identified by cops as Tamanda Billings, 27, reportedly told driver Devonte Harris that she needed his wheels to flee zombies. Harris, who was delivering an order to Walmart, said that when he asked Billings to get out of his truck, she replied, “No, there are Zombies after me.”

But Billings, a mother of two young children, had her escape from the undead stymied when she could not get the Freightliner truck moving. Cops responding to the 911 call eventually had to break the vehicle’s window to remove Billings from the cab.

Oh, and just one more thing:

Billings was charged with auto theft, trespass, and receiving stolen property. She was arrested hours after bonding out of the county jail following an April 6 bust for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Hayley at TLO observes:

Like my niece’s $60 toys that never include batteries and Walmart only having one checkout lane open at a time, it can readily be assumed that methamphetamine played a “contributing factor” in Ms. Billings’ zombie escape plan. The meth may not have been allowing her to think clearly by sober people standards. But you have to admit, on meth she has the perfect rationale, guts, and problem-solving ability to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Yep. Says it all.

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Spirited douchery

You might expect this sort of thing from a seven-year-old. But from a state senator?

One morning back in February, Paul Scott tippy-toed into the Senate before session and unscrewed a roller on Carri Hicks’s chair. He also hid her microphone. There’s no word on if he put tape under her mouse, or encased her stapler in Jell-O.

Later that morning, when Hicks arrived for work and attempted to take her seat, the chair gave way, causing Carri to fall to the floor. Startled, confused and hoping she didn’t just flash the world in her dress, she left the Senate chambers to compose herself like a Bachelor contestant who learned she didn’t receive a rose.

Usually, after playing a stupid prank like that, the culprit will come forward, help the victim laugh it off, and then everyone will go play on the big toy at recess. As least that’s how things worked when I was in elementary school.

Paul Scott, on the other hand, does things a little differently. As opposed to admitting that he committed the prank, or even (gasp!) apologizing, he went silent and didn’t fess up. Classy, huh?

The Senate, not unreasonably, launched an investigation, and yes, they had the whole incident on video; Scott, on the spot, issued an apology with about as much sincerity as y0u’d think.

District 43 is stuck with Scott through next year. Let’s hope the opposition takes note of this.

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Fund us, please

Apparently OG&E doesn’t think an insert in the monthly bill is sufficient warning to the customers, so I got this in email:

Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company (“OG&E” or “Company”) is seeking an annual increase of approximately $76.6 million, which reflects a 4.4% increase over rates set in July of 2018, to recover increased business costs and electric infrastructure investments including costs associated with the Sooner Scrubber and the Muskogee Conversion projects.

The increase, as proposed by OG&E, would raise a residential customer’s bill by approximately 7.7% when compared to current rates. This equals about $7.55 per month on the average residential customer bill. As proposed by OG&E, General Service customers would receive a rate increase of 4.4%. For the industrial rate classes both Power and Light customers (PL) and Large Power and Light customers (LPL) would receive rate increases ranging from 4.6% to 9.8%.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (“Commission”) is scheduled to begin hearings before an Administrative Law Judge on OG&E’s request for a rate increase on May 29, 2019, at 8:30 a.m., and continuing each business day thereafter until the hearing concludes, in Courtroom 301 on the 3rd floor of the Jim Thorpe Office Building, 2101 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105. After the hearing, the Commission will issue its final order and any rate changes will become effective after the final decision is issued.

The only really bothersome aspect of this is the timing: if the hearing is right after Memorial Day, the increase, or whatever percentage the Corp Comm allows, will hit in mid-summer.

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Dead guy loses election

It wasn’t quite a landslide, though:

In Edmond, voters chose to elect Dan O’Neil as their next mayor. On the ballot, O’Neil faced off against deceased mayor Charles Lamb.

Lamb, who died in December at age 72, had filed for another term shortly before his death. His candidacy was promoted by some Edmond residents who opposed other candidates for mayor, with the hope that if he was re-elected, the city council would pick his successor.

O’Neil garnered 4,385 votes, or 67.01%, while Lamb had 2,159 votes, or 32.99%, according to unofficial results.

The late Mr. Lamb’s showing was better than the last dead candidate I recall, circa 1998:

Remember this name: Jacqueline Morrow Lewis Ledgerwood.

The estimable Ms Ledgerwood filed in July to become a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, hoping to unseat Senator Don Nickles (R-Okla.), the three-term incumbent. To borrow a line from an earlier, more famous, candidate, if nominated she will not run, and if elected she will not serve. The reason for this is simple: she’s dead.

Ms Ledgerwood, it seems, died soon after filing for the office, but not soon enough to meet the deadline for having her name removed from the ballot. So in the Democratic primary on the 25th of August, her name appeared alongside the names of three other wannabes. A chap named Don Carroll garnered about 46 percent of the votes, not enough for a majority, so the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff on the 15th of September — Mr Carroll and the late Ms Ledgerwood, who bagged about 21 percent. Jerry Kobyluk, who finished third, complained loudly and bitterly, but the secretary of the state Election Board would not be moved.

In the general election in November, Nickles won 76 of 77 counties. Haskell County, in the east, is generally reliably Democratic, to the extent that any part of Oklahoma is reliably Democratic; its voters, about three-fifths Democratic, backed the Democratic presidential candidate every year from 1976 through 2000.

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Fark blurb of the week


A formidable Scrabble player

Well, I don’t actually know that she’s a formidable Scrabble player, but she’s already demonstrated one of the core competencies for the game: she can spell.

Rachel Hamilton is a fourth-grader from Pauls Valley, an hour south of this desk. She attends Whitebead Elementary, a rural school about two miles out of town. (Whitebead is what we call a Dependent School District, mostly because it offers no high-school curriculum; the nearest high school is in Pauls Valley proper.) And she won the Central Oklahoma Spelling Bee on the 16th of March, beating out 25,000 competitors; she’ll go on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which begins on Memorial Day.

Spelling seems to run in the family: brother Luke placed second in 2016, and her dad won in 1978.

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Poor immigrant

This actually showed up on Quora yesterday: What are the things I need to get to have a 100% assurance that I’ll be given a visa to Oklahoma?

The proper way to handle this, I suggest, is complete and utter deadpan, and that’s what happened here:

The best thing to do would be to contact the Oklahoma embassy to request a visa be expedited. Include the arrival and departure dates and where you intend to stay during your visit. Applications for an Oklahoma visa may only be made in person, at the Oklahoma embassy in your country.

Be aware that Oklahoma only issues a limited number of visas every year so requesting your visa from the Oklahoma embassy should be done before third quarter of the year.

You’ll know the Oklahoma embassy when you see it: directly under the flag, there’s a second one, with a stylized chicken-fried steak.


A close but slow shave

Twelve-year term limits? Maybe it should have been eight. Or six.

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Tilt that axis!

And this is what you, or we anyway, get:

Oklahoma 11-season climate

(Via Edmond Active.)

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Pae as you go

It’s as least as silly as “Carpae Diem,” the slogan which appears on Rep. Daniel Pae’s LinkedIn paege. The freshman legislator, a Lawton Republican, is known mostly for this session’s House Bill 1071 [pdf], which scoots the speed limit on rural toll roads up to 80 mph.

“Hot damn,” says Hayley at TLO:

Now instead of puttering along at a slow and steady 75-mph, Oklahomans may soon be able to cruise at a cool 80 on the turnpike. Oh, who am I kidding. Everyone already takes a 75-mph speed limit as permission to travel at least 80, if not 85. But whatever lets me legally shave 7-12 minutes off of a trip to Tulsa to actually see a non-country musician perform in concert is fine with me.

Should this measure be enacted, and frankly I can’t imagine Governor Stitt not signing it, the effective date, typically for new Oklahoma laws, will be the first of November.


The buck stopped there

I mean, this can get you in serious trouble:

Game warden Cannon Harrison probably wasn’t expecting to make his latest bust on a dating app. But that’s what happened after he matched with an Oklahoma woman on Bumble.

As they struck up an online conversation, the woman immediately shared that she had just killed a “bigo” buck — “obviously not knowing Cannon is a game warden,” wrote the Oklahoma Game Wardens in a Facebook post.


Harrison asked if she had shot the deer with a bow, as bow hunting is still legal in Oklahoma through mid-January. She said she didn’t want to discuss that, but Harrison innocently pressed further, prompting his match to reveal the details. She shared with him the location where she killed the deer and sent him several photos of the dead animal, including one in which she can be seen holding up its antlers.

In the process, the woman, whose name was not released, revealed to Harrison that she had committed two illegal acts — shooting the deer with a rifle outside of rifle season and using a spotlight at night to help her shoot the deer.

And from there, it got worse:

Oklahoma Game Wardens went to the property the next day. Further investigation showed the woman had committed a third illegal act — harvesting only the head and back-strap meat of the animal. The woman and an accomplice pleaded guilty and paid $2,400 in fines, according to the Tulsa World.

A “romantically challenged poacher,” quipped Peter Grant.

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Seven decades ago

I found this in an old copy of Broadcasting magazine, from 1947. There were a lot of ads like this at the time:

Advertise on KTUL and KOMA

At the time, both these stations were owned by John Toole Griffin and family, who also owned Griffin Grocery Company in Muskogee. Both those sets of call letters have migrated a bit, KOMA across the dial to the FM band, and KTUL to a Tulsa television station.

And in the 1960s, both stations were local Top 40 powerhouses, something that couldn’t even have been imagined in 1947. (KTUL had already transformed into KELI.) The Griffins own a cluster of stations in Tulsa, but not this one, which was acquired by Clear Channel Communications, later rebranded as iHeartRadio. KTBZ, the current call (1430 The Buzz) has run some sort of sports format for two decades, and has gotten a daytime power boost to 25 kw. KOKC, still a corporate sister to KOMA, runs news/talk on its 50 kw blowtorch, owned by Tyler Media, based right here in the 405. (Come to think of it, when the current telephone area-code system went into effect in the late 1940s, the whole state was “the 405.”

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An auspicious beginning

I really wasn’t expecting the Legislature to accomplish a great deal in the next session. But I find this action heartening:

Casey Murdock, a Republican from Felt, at the far end of the Panhandle, is a, um, er, rancher.

And should this pass, I assure you that I’m not going to burn them to a crisp just because Donald Trump likes them that way.

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The sky gods know where you live

PJR has moved to Oregon, but you never really put Oklahoma behind you:

Redbird Smith is, of course, named for Redbird Smith (1850-1918), one of the strongest voices for Cherokee traditions and against the “reforms” of the Dawes Commission.

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Mood indigo

When I moved over here fifteen years ago, you’d have been able to characterize this area as center-right and leaning Republican. Redistricting came after 2010, and suddenly it was a virtually-even split. Precinct-level numbers for 2018 indicate Vastly Increased Blueness, as follows:

Governor: Edmondson (D) 836; Stitt (R) 375; Powell (L) 40.

Lt Governor: Pittman (D) 699; Pinnell (R) 467; Holmes (L) 79.

Attorney General: Myles (D) 737; Hunter (R) 504.

Congress District 5: Horn (D) 815, Russell (R) 430.

State Senate District 40: Hicks (D) 819; Howell (R) 379; Hensley (I) 43.

County Commissioner District 1: Blumert (D) 804; Reeves (R) 421.

The first three, all statewide races, were won by the GOP, but Democrats took the remainder. (There was no race for State House District 87; incumbent Collin Walke (D) drew no opposition.)

And that Congressional race was legitimately a squeaker: winner Kendra Horn pulled in 50.7 percent, a difference of about 3300 out of 238,000. She’s the first Democrat to represent District 5 since John Jarman switched to the GOP after the 1974 election.

Disclosure: I had a yard sign for Carri Hicks.

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Working the clichés

Newly elected Oklahoma County District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert had to put up with several iterations of this same script:

Which is not to say that only men caused her to raise an eyebrow:

And she had to knock on a lot of doors. Under the commissioner system, each county gets exactly three commissioners; each of them, in this county, has to cover an area home to a quarter-million people. (No State House or Senate member has as large a constituency.) Yes, we voted for her.

Carrie Blumert making the rounds

And yeah, we’d do it again.

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As I picked them

Without going into too much detail over what is, after all, a secret ballot, I will reveal the following facts:

  • I voted down all five state questions.
  • In general, if there was a woman running for a seat, I voted for her over whichever guys made it to the ballot, mostly because I’ve seen most of these guys before.
  • I could work up no enthusiasm for either of the two major-party men running for Governor, opting instead for the Libertarian.

This is the Libertarian in question:

And I should mention here that while I have no particular quarrel with incumbent Congressman Steve Russell, I vowed on the day of the primary that I would vote for Democratic challenger Kendra Horn, who did a great service to the state by sparing us the indignity of yet another uninspiring, and inevitably losing, campaign by Tom Guild, the state’s closest equivalent to Harold Stassen.

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Speed is of the essence

Last weekend, I felt sufficiently drained to figure that maybe I’m not up to standing in line for a long, long time, which, not at all incidentally, has been more or less true for the last couple of years. Accordingly, I duly hit up the Oklahoma State Election Board Web site and requested an absentee ballot. They processed the request on Monday; the ballot was delivered on Wednesday.

Thursday around noon, I dropped the completed ballot in the mail.

Friday evening, I got a text message:

Hey Charles, it’s Erica with the OK Democrats. According to state records, you have not returned your mail ballot yet. Since it must be notarized and received by Election Day, can you put it in the mail tonight?

Only two weird aspects of this:

  • The call was apparently placed from a Tulsa (area code 539) number. State Democratic HQ is just down the road from me, at 36th and Classen in OKC.
  • Per the Election Board: “Physically incapacitated voters and voters who care for physically incapacitated persons who cannot be left alone are not required to have their signatures on the absentee affidavits notarized. They are required to have their signatures witnessed by two people.”

As of 5 pm Friday, the state reported the receipt of 17,179 mail ballots from Oklahoma County: 8278 from registered Republicans, 7718 from registered Democrats, 56 from registered Libertarians, and 1667 from registered Independents. It’s not hard to see why the Democrats might push the panic button.

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Your 2018 State Questions

Nine questions went through the mill; five of them will appear on the General Election ballot next month.

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And now here’s Jim Donovan

The Cleveland Browns Radio Network includes a couple dozen signals in Ohio, one in Pennsylvania, one in West Virginia — and one in Norman, Oklahoma:

Norman’s KREF (SportsTalk 99.3 FM and 1400 AM) announced Friday it will broadcast all Cleveland Browns games for the remainder of the season, giving Oklahoma fans the opportunity to follow former Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The radio station will also broadcast pregame and postgame coverage, as well as Browns coach Hue Jackson’s weekly show on Monday nights.

Which is not unheard of for KREF, which picked up Rams games (from, um, St. Louis) while Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was A Thing. But Bradford was lost for a season with an ACL tear after a particularly vicious sack, and the Rams dealt him to Philadelphia.

If you’re keeping score, Bradford was done in during an exhibition game against, um, the Cleveland Browns.

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Too late to cancel

Sooner or later this, um, japery had to appear in the Oklahoman, and today it made Page 1A:

Tribe tells High Court they have a reservation

Since you’ll ask:

In 1893, Congress directed federal representatives to travel to what was then Indian Territory and what is now eastern Oklahoma and convince Creek tribal members to hand over their land or break it into allotments. The meeting didn’t go well.

The Creeks “would not, under any circumstances, agree to cede any portion of their lands to the Government,” wrote members of the Dawes Commission. Due to “this unanimity,” the federal commission told Congress it would “abandon” this approach.

One hundred and twenty-five years later, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation says such abandonment by the Dawes Commission is evidence that Congress never formally disbanded its reservation. It is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to agree with a lower-court ruling and formally declare that the reservation, long thought to be eliminated during Oklahoma statehood, still exists to this day.

Four years after the Land Run, you have to figure the Creeks had had plenty of opportunity to observe their new, um, neighbors.

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Best hashtag of the 2018 election

So far, anyway:

(Everything you always wanted to know about Kevin Stitt.)

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Nomenclature update

A note from the lawn service:

Since 2004, I have worked hard to provide friends in my neighborhood the best lawn care services. Over time, people started recommending me to their friends and my little business expanded to other neighborhoods where I made even more friends.

Now I have a crew helping me provide the same top-notch service to even more people. Therefore, to reflect this growth, Andrew’s Lawn Service has been renamed LAWNSTER.


Then again, “Ground Control,” as Major Tom could tell you, has been taken.

Still, were this a woman-owned enterprise, I doubt if they’d have come up with “LAWNSTRESS.”

And their tag line, in quotes under the name: “We Mow Grass”. Um, yeah, I guess you do.

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Coming out in the wash

Or, um, something to that effect:

A University of Central Oklahoma professor has been accused of exposing himself at a laundromat.

William Franklin Stockwell, 67, was charged Monday in Oklahoma County District Court with a felony count of indecent exposure and a misdemeanor count of acts resulting in gross injury. If convicted, Stockwell could spend years in prison.

Stockwell was arrested Aug. 7 after Edmond police received a report that he had dropped his pants in front of a woman and her child, revealing his buttocks, according to a court affidavit. The incident occurred at the Edmond Laundromat at 317 E 2nd St.

Most exciting thing that’s happened in Edmond in weeks.

I shudder to think what might have prompted this, um, revelation.

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Ghouls on film

It’s too damn early for Halloween stuff in the stores. Then again:

Quit ringing my doorbell you little sheets

(Spotted at Walmart in Elk City by @programwitch.)

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Expect no discount

Today in the Oklahoman:

Now on sale at Dollar General Stores

I’m assuming the price of the paper — $1.50 daily, three bucks on Sunday — will remain unchanged, despite the name over the door.

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Where it all comes together

And it’s not so far away, either:

The “Center of the Universe” is a little-known mysterious acoustic phenomenon. If you stand in the middle of the circle and make a noise, the sound is echoed back several times louder than it was made. It’s your own private amplified echo chamber.

As the legend goes, a foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle and those on the outside wouldn’t hear it. This may be an exaggeration, but your voice does sound extremely distorted when heard from outside the circle. It’s an incredible effect.

Explanation: There isn’t one, really:

Like the Lake George Mystery Spot — another acoustical vortex that seems to defy the laws of physics — the effect is thought to be caused by the sound reflecting off a circular wall, in this case a nearby planter. Still, though many people have studied the cause of the odd anomaly there’s no clear consensus. Whatever the causes of this natural sonic distortion may be, it is truly an amazing place.

And it’s nearby, in the unit block of Archer in downtown Tulsa:

A brick path leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks, accessible from the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave. It is located directly northwest of the old Union Train Depot (now the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame), and immediately north of the Williams Center Tower.

Not a likely place for a foghorn, but what the heck.

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A rare talent indeed

Girl catches fish with teethWhen I saw this on page 11A of yesterday’s Oklahoman, my first thought was “That couldn’t have been easy for her, using her teeth to catch a fish.”

The spiritual ancestor of this story, of course, is the famous Captain Spaulding, the African explorer, from the motion picture Animal Crackers (1930): “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” I mean, we’re talking an interpretation with eighty-eight years to back it up, and besides, who’s gonna argue with the likes of Groucho Marx? Certainly not I. But no, that’s not what it meant at all:

Pacu fish caught at Fort Cobb Lake

An 11-year-old girl has quite the fish tale: A rare pacu with human-like teeth chomped down on the worm at the end of her line while she was fishing with her grandparents and brother in an Oklahoma lake.

But Kennedy Smith isn’t exaggerating when she describes her catch. Caddo County Game Warden Tyler Howser confirms that the fish was a pacu, a relative of the piranha that is native to South America and can grow up to 50 pounds (22 kilograms).

Kennedy’s fish weighed about 1 pound (half a kilogram), according to Howser and Kennedy’s grandmother Sandra Whaley.

Kennedy says she initially was “really excited” to have caught a fish Sunday in Fort Cobb Lake, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City. She was shocked when the fish bit her grandmother, as Whaley removed the hook from its mouth.

How did this wee but scary beastie arrive here?

Howser said the fish was likely purchased as a pet and was released into the lake when it grew too large for the aquarium of the family that owned it.

This is how species become invasive, guys. Don’t do that.

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Still I wonder, who’ll start the rain?

One of the relatively pleasant side effects of tax increases:

Officials say Oklahoma expects to deposit a record $370 million in its fund created to protect the state during economic downturns.

The Tulsa World reports that the state is expected to announce the actual deposit amount for the Rainy Day Fund in August.

Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokeswoman Shelley Zumwalt says the state hasn’t made a deposit to the fund in the last four fiscal years. Oklahoma deposited a record $326 million into the fund in fiscal 2012.

The Rainy Day Fund was created in 1985 for an emergency, to make up for a shortfall in fiscal year collections and to make up revenue if next year’s general revenue fund collections are forecast to be less than the current year. Zumwalt says the fund currently has about $70 million.

Yeah, but some of us remember this from 2011:

Nothing quite as comforting as having almost a quarter-billion to spare. Then again, it wasn’t so long ago — 2009, specifically — that there was almost $600 million stashed away in what is officially called the Constitutional Reserve Fund. Unlike some other governments we could name, Oklahoma isn’t allowed to run a deficit, so the Fund was repeatedly raided, and the balance dropped to $2.03. That’s two dollars and three cents, which won’t get you so much as a footlong cheese coney from Sonic.

There is apparently a statutory cap on the Fund: $756 million.

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As the smoke clears

State Question 788, authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, passed by about a 5 to 4 margin, much to the surprise of national pundits, who don’t realize we have running water here, and of local officials, who were hoping to push the whole thing under the rug.

Precinct-level vote counts are now being circulated, and here’s how we did: 804 Yes, 250 No. A solid 76 percent.

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