The year 2007 brought sad moments along with brighter points for many citizens and surprises for others. A look back over the past year in the area communities reveals the top 10 headlines affecting the community. The headlines range from death to politics to weather. The stories are listed beginning with the number one story.



Woman killed during dog attack

ADA— On Oct. 15, the community was shocked when Rosalie Bivins, 65, was attacked and killed by a pack of pit bull-mix dogs. Bivins was on her way to her mailbox on County Road 1480 north of State Highway 3W in mid-October when the dogs attacked. Pontotoc County Undersheriff Joe Glover reported a mail carrier had come upon the scene found Bivins lying in the road yelling for help.

When the postal carrier exited the vehicle and tried to help the woman, the dogs turned and tried to attack him. He was forced to re-enter his vehicle and drive to a neighbor’s house to call for help. When the postal worker and the neighbor returned to help Bivins, another man was attacked and was bitten on his arm and leg.

The neighbor managed to shoot one of the dogs and the five others scattered. Some of them were found later and sent to be tested for rabies, of which the results were negative. Before emergency personnel arrived on scene, Bivins had died. “It was just crazy,” a neighbor said. “Things just happened so fast.”

Funeral services for Bivins were held Oct. 18.

Teen stabbed to death

ADA—Chris Carpenter died July 8 from being stabbed. His mother, Connie Haines, is facing charges of manslaughter and second-degree murder. Police officials responded to Valley View Regional Hospital on a report of a stabbing victim. While the officers were at the hospital, they were informed Carpenter had died. The details surrounding the incident remained sketchy as Haines had told officers she was playing with her husband when her son walked up behind her and she accidentally stabbed him in the chest.

According to witness testimony during a preliminary hearing in October, Haines and her husband, Carpenter’s step-father, were arguing when she came out of the bedroom and got a knife. Haines went back to the bedroom with the knife and Carpenter followed.

Haines’ husband testified Carpenter came up behind her while she was waving the knife and ran into the knife. Assistant District Attorney Chris Ross argued Carpenter did not run into the knife, but was stabbed when he tried to intervene. Since Haines was in commission of a crime — allegedly trying to kill her husband — there is reason to pursue the charges. Haines’ attorney said there was no intent to cause harm so there was no need for a trial.

Judge Thomas Landrith ruled there was probable cause and Haines was bound over for trial. The trial is scheduled for Jan. 31 at 9 a.m.

Carpenter had lived with his mother and stepfather until last January when he moved to Moore to live with his father, Gary Carpenter. In an earlier interview with an AEN reporter, he said his son was a “typical teenager” who had the world by the tail and had recently dedicated his life to the Lord.



Murder charges dropped;

Sliger released from jail

ADA—In March, Faye Francis Sliger was set to stand a second trial for murder and kidnapping in the Caitlin Wooten murder. The first trial ended in December 2006 in a mistrial. Sliger pleaded no contest to the charges of kidnapping while the murder charges were dropped.

Sliger was charged with the first-degree murder of Wooten who was kidnapped in Sept. 2005 from the Ada High School parking lot by Jerry Don Savage, her mother’s ex-boyfriend.

Savage shot and killed Wooten in a wooded area of Sliger’s land in Pontotoc County. After shooting Wooten, Savage killed himself. During the first trial, prosecutors claimed Sliger knew of the plot and allowed Savage access to his vehicle and land to commit the crime.

After the plea of no contest, Sliger was sentenced to 10 years. Eight and a half years were suspended and was credited for time served, which was over 500 days. The following day, Sliger was released from jail.



Scalf, York battle it out for council seat

ADA—Ada became a poster child for the “every-vote counts” motto and razor thin elections in March.

Donna York and Dick Scalf were competing for Ada City council’s Ward 1 seat. The results gave Scalf a five-vote lead over York. York requested a re-count. When the recount was over, Scalf was left with only a one-vote lead. The four additional votes for York were provisional ballots, ballots in which residency is disputed.

In the “irregularities” portion of the procedure, York’s attorney presented evidence a convicted felon had been allowed to vote. There was no way to tell who the felon voted for or how the felon was able to vote. District Judge Tom Landrith was presented with enough irregularity to ask Gov. Brad Henry for a new election. During the second election, Scalf won the election with 60 percent of the vote.



DA files lawsuit against author; Peterson to retire

ADA—District Attorney Bill Peterson along with Gary Rogers, a former agent for the Oklahoma State Bureau of investigations, filed a libel lawsuit against Author John Grisham over a nonfiction book Grisham wrote about the 1982 murder of Debbie Sue Carter.

The book, called “The Innocent Man,” chronicles Ron Williamson’s and Dennis Fritz’s experiences. Williamson and Fritz were origianally convicted for the murder, then exonerated by DNA evidnence and freed after 12 years in prison. Grisham’s book places Peterson and Rogers in an unfriendly light.

The lawsuit claims the defendants conspired to commit libel against the plaintiffs, generate publicity for self interest by placing Peterson and Rogers in a false light and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, whose firm filed the suit, said, “I think John Grisham forgot that he was writing a nonficion book. He himself stated in a speech in Virginia about the time the book was released, he said he fully expected to be sued.”

Less than two months after the lawsuit was filed, Peterson announced he was retiring as district attorney after a 28-year career. Peterson said the controversy surrounding Grisham’s book was only one of many things he and his wife had considered when discussing retirement.

“I would be lying if I said that it didn’t,” Peterson said. However, he stressed it wasn’t a major factor in his decision.

“I have always sought to seek the truth in charging of crimes and was willing to endure the consequences of those decisions. The job of a prosecutor is to make a charging decision based on provable facts of any case and to do what is right,” Peterson said. “After 28 years as a prosecutor, it is time to pass this responsibility to someone else.”

Assistant District Attorney Chris Ross was appointed to take over the position the first part of January.



I.R.T. grieves four deaths; Byng residents die near Okemah

ADA—The Interactive Response Technologies community was hit hard in November when four employees were killed in a car wreck near Goldsby. The Byng community also suffered a loss when two residents died in a car crash on Interstate 40 near Okemah in December. In recent months, many others have died in car wrecks.

Matthew Winton, 23, Gary Givens, 23, Rebekah Burgess, 21, and Monica Countryman, 18, died Nov. 11 on Interstate 35 on their way home. The friends, along with Marcus Moore, 22, and Daniel Cosar, 17, who were seriously injured, were driving south on I-35 when Sophia Roberts, 48, was driving north in the southbound lanes. The two vehicles collided, killing Winton, Givens, Burgess, Countryman and Roberts on impact.

The I.R.T. community grieved the death of the four friends by having a candlelight service and planning a memorial for the I.R.T. lawn to commemorate Winton, Givens, Burgess, and Countryman.

Rick and Sandy Woodward were killed in a car wreck Dec. 9. The two were travelling home from a bowling tournament in Tulsa.

Eleven vehicles were involved in the wreck. According to reports, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers were attempting to clear off two accidents on I-40 at the North Canadian bridge west of Okemah. Several more cars lost control on the icy roads and crashed into those vehicles.

A series of accidents on the bridge resulted in a vehicle pileup. A tractor trailer slammed into those vehicles, causing an explosion and a large fire. Rick and Sandy Woodward owned Rick’s Body Shop in Byng.

Only two days before the Woodwards’ deaths, two others were killed in a car wreck west of Ada.

Another shocking death was Murray State College President Dr. William Pennington. Pennington died in a car crash near Arpelar in October.



‘Hundred Year Event’

ADA—Ada saw a variety of weather this year, ranging from ice storms to raging waters. In January, many lost power and were trapped by the icy weather. During the summer, flash floods surged through streets in Ada, with the water measuring four feet in some areas.

The June 19 storm dumped a little more than five inches of rain on Ada, with some areas of the county receiving as much as six inches of rain in just a few hours. The severity of the storm and the rate at which the water fell helped it meet the qualifications as a “Hundred Year Event.” The storm dumped 4.67 inches of rain on Ada in less than two and a-half hours.



Servicemen killed in Iraq

The Ada community was impacted by the war in Iraq this year. Soldiers from this area or that had local ties, died in action in Iraq. In March, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Dustin Michael Gould, 28, died in Iraq while disarming a bomb to save his platoon.

“He took the fall for it,” Gould’s mother said. “He saved the others. He was the kindest, gentlest, sweetest person.”

Gould was scheduled to return home in April. Gould’s half-brother, Jason Corbett who was in the Army, was killed by a sniper in Iraq shortrly before Gould was killed.

Lance Cpl. Trevor Roberts, whose grandmother, Rita Roberts, is from Ada, was also killed in action. He was a U.S. Marine who died just 12 days before he was supposed to come home. Roberts, 21, was killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province when the vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb.



Blaze destroys

section of school

BYNG—Portions of the Byng School campus burned January 14, damaging the school’s information technology and communications department.

Byng Superintendent Steven Craword said the damage was to the I.T. department, communication department and the print shop, but the damage to the junior high was only smoke damage. Officials believe the fire was arson. The fire marshal was called in from Oklahoma City to investigate the cause of hte fire.



Dogs allegedly

poisoned, killed

Two seperate incidents of dogs poisoned with strychnine were reported in 2007. In March, residents on the 800 blocks of W. Seventh and Eighth streets reported to police that someone may be trying to rid their neighborhood of dogs. Police said that as many as nine dogs may have been killed by someone spreading hamburger meat tainted with strychnine poison.

In November, Kelli Bruce lost three dogs to the poison and a fourth pet survived. When she arrived home, two dogs were dead and the other two were convulsing and having seizures. Bruce said she found evidence where food had been left in her dirveway. The family used peroxide to induce vomitting and was able to save one pet. The other pet died.

When poisoned, the effects can occur within 10 minutes up to two hours after ingestion. Affected animals appear nervous and apprehensive, developing a tense abdomen and saw-horse stance. This progresses to violent, intermittent seizures. Death from the poison can occur in one to two hours after onset if not treated.



Other top stories of the year included Presidential candidate Rudy Guliani’s visit to Ada in September, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Annoatubby inducted into the ECU Hall of Governors and renvations on the Amphintheater at Wintersmith park.

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