Perhaps the biggest football game ever between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University takes place Saturday night in Stillwater.
This one is for the Big 12 Championship, for state pride, for bragging rights, for respect, for the players, the fans, the students … and for just about any other purpose you can think of.
This is Bedlam.
But if you’re traveling to Stillwater for the game, THIS is a list of construction projects that will impact travel on major highways from Friday through Sunday, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
These projects are all weather permitting.
* East- and westbound Interstate 40 is narrowed to one lane from the Arkansas state line extending west five miles.
* East- and westbound I-40 is narrowed to one lane from four miles east of State Highway 99, then east seven miles to Cromwell.
* All lanes of east- and westbound U.S. 60 will be closed near the SH 66 junction (Craig County). A detour route will be in place along SH 66 and SH 28 through Nowata and Rogers Counties.
* The right lane of northbound U.S. 69 is closed in Savannah in Pittsburg County.
* North- and southbound U.S. 69 is narrowed to one lane in each direction over the North Canadian River in McIntosh County (Lake Eufaula). Drivers should expect reduced speed and wide load restrictions.
* Southbound U.S. 69 will be narrowed to one lane over I-40 in McIntosh County.
* I-40 is narrowed to one lane in each direction near Checotah. Drivers should expect reduced speed and wide load restrictions.
* U.S. 81 is narrowed to one lane in each direction at the Cimarron River south of Dover.
Oklahoma City Metro:
* The right lanes of east- and westbound I-40 are closed between Council Road and Sara Road. Traffic on Morgan Road will be shifted as part of the interchange reconstruction project.
* Drivers can expect various lane closures and lane shifts on I-35 at NE 23 for cable barrier work.
* There will be various lane closures on east and westbound I-40 at I-44 near the fairgrounds from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday nights through Friday mornings. On weekends the lane closures will be from 7 p.m. Fridays to 5 a.m. Mondays. This project is scheduled to last through January.
* The right lane of westbound I-44 is closed between Broadway Extension/I-235 and Western Avenue at this time as part of the ongoing BWX/I-235/I-44 ramp reconstruction. In addition, Grand Boulevard east of Shartel Avenue and Robinson Avenue between NE 57 and Grand Boulevard will be closed through December. Drivers are strongly encouraged to avoid the area and find an alternate route.
* The eastbound I-44 ramp to eastbound I-40 (Amarillo Junction) has shifted slightly until 2012.
* Eastbound I-40 is narrowed slightly between Portland Avenue and I-44 until 2012.
* The northbound I-35 off-ramp to westbound I-40 is open, however it is no longer a dedicated lane.
* Robinson Avenue closed between SW 7 and SW 11. Detour is Walker Avenue.
* The left lane of north- and southbound U.S. 75 is closed near 201st Street S (at S Duck Creek, south of Glenpool).
* All lanes of eastbound I-44 are shifted across the Arkansas River bridge into the westbound lanes, which will carry two lanes of two-way traffic until further notice. Plan for extra travel time in this corridor.
* All westbound I-244 traffic over the Arkansas River is shifted to the eastbound bridge, which will carry two lanes of two-way traffic until further notice. Plan ahead for extra travel time here.
Ramps closed at the SW corner of the Inner Dispersal Loop, detour in place until 2013:
* Westbound U.S. 64/SH 51 to eastbound I-244/westbound U.S. 64/SH 51 (southwest corner IDL).
* Southbound U.S. 75/westbound U.S. 64/SH 51 off-ramp to westbound I-244/southbound U.S. 75
* Eastbound I-244 on-ramp from 17th Street and the westbound I-244 on-ramp from 7th Street.
For turnpike information call the Turnpike Authority at 425-3600, or visit www.pikepass.com.
See more about the game at http://knowit.newsok.com/brandon-weeden and http://knowit.newsok.com/landry-jones as well as reading The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com.
Be careful, enjoy your trip, and enjoy the game.
Standing in a blustery, cold northern wind on a median at a busy intersection, he held the hand-lettered sign to his chest for drivers in the turn lane to see.
“Lost job. Have family to feed. Can you help?”
He was slightly unkept, but certainly not grungy-looking. His hair, his clothes, his clean-shaven face implied that he still had access to some grooming. But the weary look on his face and the sign indicated, whether honestly or not, that he had needs.
This man was among those seen recently around the city who are looking for assistance from others who will provide it. In many instances, the individual appears in more dire straits.
Sometimes, the person displays a sign that notes he, or she, “will work for food.” Others might be looking for clothing, blankets, or food. Some beg for money.
They may be labeled beggars. They often are referred to as panhandlers. Some just call them needy.
While some people give them anything from loose change to dollars, others offer them food. I’ve known many people who say they have offered to drive them to a cafe or store where they could buy them food, and others who have brought sacks of food to them.
But there also are representatives of churches, organizations and local law enforcement who’ve given them a ride to shelters or food banks.
Oklahoma City has its share of homeless individuals, as well as a segment of its residents that live below the poverty level and others who are in need of assistance. There is a concentrated effort to help these people. If it within your means and your heart to do so, you can help.
If that’s what you would like to do during this holiday season, go to http://knowit.newsok.com/homless-oklahoma and http://knowit.newsok.com/charity-oklahoma to see how you can help.
If you’re going to be on the road during the Thanksgiving holiday, do your part in making it a safe journey.
My friends in law enforcement and public safety remind everyone that Oklahoma roadways will be filled with travelers this week, before, on and after Thanksgiving. They urge extra precautions to keep drivers and passengers safe.
And remember, Thanksgiving starts the holiday season, when you’ll see more people traveling and more people visiting shopping centers and malls, as well as places to eat.
Any of those can lead to increased stress for the driver.
Officials in the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office advise taking a little time to make smart choices about your travel. Alice Collinsworth, OHSO communications manager.
Last year in Oklahoma, the Thanksgiving holiday period ran from 6 p.m. Wed., Nov. 24, to midnight Sunday, Nov. 28. During this time period, 546 crashes were reported. Six people were killed and 327 others were injured, said Alice Collinsworth, OHSO communications manager. Four of the six fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes, she said.
“Law enforcement officers across the state will be out in force during the holiday,” Collinsworth said. “They’ll be watching for drivers who are impaired, who are breaking the speed limit, or who are distracted, and they also will be enforcing seat belt laws. The goal is to save lives and to make sure everyone arrives safely at their holiday destination.”
OHSO also recommends taking these steps for safe travel:
* Make sure all children in your vehicle are placed in age-appropriate car seats and all adults are buckled up.
* If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement, or dial *55 from any cell phone to alert the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
* Plan ahead for inclement weather and make sure your vehicle has appropriate emergency equipment.
* Avoid distractions while driving, such as cell phones and electronic equipment.
* If alcohol is part of your Thanksgiving celebration, plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver.
AAA Oklahoma once again is offering Tipsy Tow services over Thanksgiving to motorists who have partied a bit too much and feel unsafe behind the wheel. The auto club will give the driver and one more person — plus the vehicle -– a free ride home.
AAA’s Tipsy Tow program, free to members and nonmembers alike, will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, and will run until 2 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28, in metropolitan Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as well as in Lawton, Shawnee, Enid, Muskogee and Bartlesville.
“Many motorists may think they are okay to drive but research shows that impairment starts with the first drink,” said Chuck Mai, AAA Oklahoma spokesman. “And remember, the first thing to go when you drink is judgment. After drinking, we tend to make less-than-smart decisions -– like going ahead and driving.”
To access Tipsy Tow, call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) and ask for Tipsy Tow. There are just two restrictions: the tow must be within a 15-mile radius of point of pickup, and there is only one place AAA will take you and your car: home.
For information on Oklahoma road conditions, check The Oklahoman and/or NewsOK.com.
Meetings with the Parents Helping Parents organization proved to be most valuable for my wife and me. They gave us the opportunity to hear from professionals in the field of substance abuse and its co-occurring disorders
We listened carefully and took notes, learning so much from the presentations and from the ensuing question-and-answer segments. It was interesting that many of the answers to questions other parents asked were exactly what we needed to know.
Once the speaker finished, we would visit with other parents. It was such a relief to know that we were not alone in this struggle.
One of the other great advantages we received from the organization was having access to their library. It contains tapes and books providing us with information and resources that proved invaluable. By choosing information that addressed the situation we were dealing with at that time we were helped to prepare for an appropriate plan of action.
For instance, at the Nov. 15 meeting, Kyle McGraw LPC*, LADC** was the guest speaker. He touched on numerous situations in which we, as parents, find ourselves. These are known as high-risk situations and he gave us practical solutions for preparing for their occurrence.
Part of his presentation targeted on what we can expect after our children find recovery. He went over the many aspects of what relapse entails and how to recognize the very early warning signs. We were given specific details on how to prepare for this situation.
This sums up what I call the three P’s of parenting: preparation, preparation, preparation.
Parents Helping Parents has chapters in Norman and Edmond. For more information, visit www.parentshelpingparents.info
Holidays and winter days are just around the corner, and now’s a good time to make those last-minute preparations for colder weather.
If you haven’t already, there are some key repairs you should make, the experts say. Such as:
* If you have a fireplace, have it cleaned and inspected. A chimney sweep can remove built-up soot and creosote, which can lead to a chimney fire.
* Check the mortar for gaps and chips.
* Use a cap or screen on the top of the chimney to keep out birds and small animals. Fireplace experts say you should inspect the fireplace damper to make sure it opens and closes properly.
* Buy or cut up firewood and store it in a dry place, preferably away from the home exterior., call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
* Have a professional inspect your furnace. Clean the ducts.
* Change the furnace filters. If possible, have extras on hand.
* A programmable thermostate can help regulate temperatures better and save you money.
* If you have a hot-water radiator, have the valves bled. This is done by slightly opening them, then, when water appears, close them.
* Make sure all flammable material is removed from around the furnace.
* Check all doors and windows leading to the outside. Look for cracks and exposed areas around pipes. Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
* Replace cracked glass.
* If you have a basement, check for any water or gas leakes. You might want to protect window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
* Clean out gutters an downspouts.
* If necessary, add extra insulation in your attic and any other location that will accept it. Also be sure to inspect the roof and the flashing to avoid leaks.
* Check your foundation and seal up or cover any spaces where small animals could get under the house.
* Drain all outside hoses and disconnect them from the faucet, then cover the faucet.
* Know where your water cutoff is located.
These are just some preparations you can make. Learn more by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma and checking the resources area.
The parent of an addicted child lives with unexplainable emotional pain. The only way to deal with this pain is to take the love for your child to a new level.
As I look back over the many battles I have encountered with my child and the disease of addiction, I can see small pieces of myself strewn over the numerous battlefields. The years of combat against an enemy that can not be defeated, a war that never ends took a tremendous toll on me.
I could only seek a truce as the enemy is known for never keeping its word. Still, helplessly, I was forced to watch the disease of addiction progress until my child was completely taken from me. All my hopes and dreams for him were eaten away.
I learned to grieve the loss just as one would if their loved one had physically passed away. I learned acceptance of my new reality, what I now call my new normal which has been a journey of fifteen years. I am still a work in progress.
We enter this battlefield with little to protect us and there are no reinforcements. We are alone and frightened as the army of addiction surrounds us and eventually forces us to surrender. We seek and need the support of others fighting this battle and learn to accept their love and compassion. We learn the healing help of returning that compassion to other parents experiencing the same pain.
Even though the pain never goes away completely, releasing the child with love and trusting in God’s healing power and peace will make it bearable. This is the greatest love of all.
Please pray for all parents of addicted children.
It’s Winter Weather Awareness Day in Oklahoma and a good time to work on your pre-winter preparedness. It won’t be long until the consistent freezing weather, snow and ice will be in the forecast, so make plans now on how to survive them.
Gov. Mary Fallin issued a governor’s proclaimed naming the day. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, National Weather Service and other state and local agencies are sharing information to help the public prepare for the winter season.
State officials said last winter’s blizzards were strong reminders that we need to have our homes and vehicles, as well as our families and pets, ready to meet cold-weather challenges.
Weather officials said that “during the Christmas blizzard, record snowfall required stranded motorists to be rescued by the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local first responders.
“The experience of those stuck in the cold for long hours during the blizzard last winter should drive home the need to always prepare,” OEM Director Albert Ashwood said. “Having a blanket, emergency food and water, a flashlight, a well charged cell phone and a full tank of gas would have made a big difference for many of those awaiting rescue on Oklahoma roadways.”
The state officials remind you that if you have to travel in heavy snow or ice, you should allow extra time and “be particularly cautious on bridges and overpasses as they will be the first to freeze.”
Remember that “travel conditions can rapidly change. Drivers who must travel in these conditions are urged to drive slowly during snow or ice storms and to plan extra time for their travel. ODOT crews report they are ready for this upcoming winter season.
“Statewide, our salt and sand supplies are fully stocked, and more than 500 trucks are available to clear snow and ice from highways and interstates,” ODOT Director of Operations Casey Shell said. “During our clearance operations, we ask that drivers stay at least 200 feet behind our equipment, for both their safety and the safety of our crews.”
At home, be sure you have adequate weather stripping and insulation. Keep your furnace clean and ready to use. Make sure your pipes are protected against freezing temperatures.
“By following some simple tips and monitoring your local weather during times of severe weather, Oklahomans stand their best chance at not becoming a victim,” said Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS office in Norman.
He also reminds everyone that information regarding hazardous winter weather, including watches and warnings, is available on the NWS website at http://www.weather.gov, on NOAA Weather All Hazards Radio and on local radio and television stations.
You can sign up to receive OEM’s weather alerts and receive NWS watches and warnings on your cell phone or other email address at http://www.ok.gov/OEM/.
Go to knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma to find more ways to get ready for winter.
What do these have in common?
* Ice storms
* National championships
* Heisman Trophy
* Pro basketball
* Tropical storms
* Pro baseball
* Pro golf
* Pro tennis
* Record heat
* Auto racing
* Record cold
* Horse racing
There are others, but these are enough for now.
These are events, people, or related items that have caused excitement in Oklahoma in the past 50 years.
In truth, fewer years than that for most of them.
And you can add earthquakes to the mix, especially after this past weekend, when the largest quake recorded in Oklahoma occurred.
You say a hurricane never has hit in Oklahoma? Remnants of hurricanes have, and caused plenty of problems when they did. Torrential rains, high winds … they made things nasty.
Same for tropical storms. Those big, bad Oklahoma thunderstorms, often producing tornadoes, can be bad enough, but add some punch from the Tropics and it can be miserable.
Elvis’ shaky leg and hips stirred many a fan in his visits to the state, but the recent quakes caused things to shake, then break.
The Olympic Festival in the late ’80s added a lot of excitement to the lives of Oklahomans. The rumbling and tumbling that knocked books off shelves, caused lights to sway, and caused cracks to appear where they shouldn’t in walls and ceilings brought their own kind of excitement.
Sports and weather always have been big news in our state, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Now, we received a fair amount of attention because the ground moved.
Welcome to Oklahoma.
See more about Oklahoma’s weather extremes and other related conditions by going to http://knowit.newsok.com/severe-weather-oklahoma
There’s a little known secret that could all but eliminate some addiction issues in this country. That secret is compassion.
I am speaking of compassion with a little love and understanding for parents who have children using alcohol or other drugs.
This frightened parent may first appear in front of a school counselor as she is being informed of her child’s suspension, or perhaps the parent is standing next to her son as the juvenile judge discusses fines and community service requirements.
These are just two examples where we can see the very beginning of the collapse of the family system and the birth of the disease of addiction.
The parents are buried in shame, secrets, silence, stigma and guilt and an already highly dysfuntional household is laden with additional stress. They are forced into deeper denial and secrecy which only supports addiction as it completes it’s destructive process. All of society eventually will pay a very steep and severe price.
The simple and effective solution is to first establish compassion and understanding for the parent(s). Individuals and/or agency staff personal who are likely to be the first contact with parents dealing with their child’s substance abuse who are formally trained could be instrumental in helping the family focus on the abuse of substances and not on the individual family members.
In other words, attention will be directed at the true problem and not just the symptoms of the problem.
The next step is to provide the family with all the resources the community has to offer including connected and supportive mentors to lead them down the path of change.
If this compassion can be the focus of schools, police, the juvenile system, and other local resources, the change can be accomplished. Punishment in the way of school suspension or legal burden is not in the best interest of anyone.
A healthy change starts in the heart and stepping in the shoes of those who are caught in this situation.
As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
You’ve most likely heard that Oklahoma has a weight problem. You may even have one of your own. If so, you aren’t alone by any means.
Obesity is the visible, unfortunate outcome. What gets us there is what really has a grip on our state and our country.
We’ve become too lazy, the experts say. We aren’t concerned about physical fitness. And, we’ve become too lax in our efforts at eating right.
Let me rephrase that. We don’t work on eating right.
Of course, there are those who do exercise, eat right, get the right amount of sleep, cut down on stress and live happy, energetic, successful lives.
I know they’re out there. I’ve seen them in commercials and printed advertisements. Those ads don’t lie, right?
For the rest of us, there is an ongoing battle to do better, or a surrender to those factors that ultimately will shorten our lives.
Don’t expect a lecture from me on being fit and healthy. I’m in that battle myself, as are many people I work with, am related to, or simply know.
These battles are complicated, of course, when other health issues enter the picture. Not everyone can participate in an active, strenuous exercise program. Others have to eat certain foods.
I will admit, however, that there are things anyone can do to improve.
Check out http://knowit.newsok.com/fitness-and-nutrition-oklahoma and see what you can do. It just might save your life.