OKLAHOMA CITY — Rep. Karen Gaddis, D-Tulsa, was sworn into office Thursday to represent House District 75.
Karen Andrako Gaddis
By Barbara Hoberok - Tulsa World
July 20, 2017
The district includes portions of east Tulsa and north Broken Arrow.
Gaddis defeated Republican Tressa Nunley in a special election July 11.
The seat became vacant after the resignation of Rep. Dan Kirby following allegations of sexual harassment. The Republican lawmaker denied harassing legislative aides.
“This election wasn’t about me,” said Gaddis, a retired teacher. “Oklahomans are mad and frustrated with the continual neglect our education system has experienced the past few years. I look forward to representing the people of District 75 and lending a voice to that frustration.”
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Former Tulsa Judge Clancy Smith looks back as she retires from Court of Criminal Appeals.
By Barbara Hoberock - Tulsa World
Jun 4, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY — Clancy Smith has retired as a judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Her last day on the state’s highest court for criminal matters was Wednesday.
“It is the best job I have ever had,” she said of working on a court that decides about 1,200 cases a year.
She is a former Tulsa County district judge, special judge and teacher.
“The hardest job I have ever had is being a district judge in Tulsa County with a felony criminal docket,” she said. “That is just work from 8:30 a.m. until 6 or 6:30 p.m. and even longer if you have a jury out.”
Smith, 74, was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals by then Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice James Edmondson after then Gov. Brad Henry recused. In 2010 she was sworn in.
Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Gary L. Lumpkin said Smith invigorated the court with her zest for life, energetic engagement in the interpretation of law and talent for bringing people together.
“Every day, you just get to sit around and discuss legal issues with really smart people,” Smith said of her tenure on the appellate court.
As a Court of Criminal Appeals judge, she has seen all manner of crime, including those crimes for which a person is sentenced to death.
“Everybody gets attention, but because it is a person’s life, (a capital case) gets more scrutiny and it always gets oral argument,” she said. “I just think as a general rule, you are even more careful with it to make sure all of the proceedings were so fair.”
She has a philosophy about the law.
“If it is a close call, it goes to the defendant because you are taking away somebody’s liberty,” she said. “And you have to get it right. I don’t think I am soft on crime. I think I am hard on trial.”
There are a lot of cases she still thinks about.
One is about a perpetrator whom no one would have any sympathy for. But during the course of the judicial proceedings, she learned that he never had a chance based on his life circumstances.
“He was getting ready to go the penitentiary for life, and I thought ‘This is somebody’s child up here,’ ” Smith said.
And there are those who come to court and have family sitting in the front row while others have no one, she said.
She said she would try to talk the defendants out of being criminals.
“I had these long talks with them that didn’t do any good, I am sure,” she said.
The job also had its perils, including life-threatening emails from those upset with some of the decisions.
“Everybody is a law-and-order person,” Smith said. “Everybody wants the rule of law. They never understand why a case gets reversed or something like that.
“I always try to say ‘Look, I want to be the kind of judge you would want for your child.’ Nobody gets as interested in you being fair to the defendant until it is their family or them. Then, they want somebody who is fair. They don’t particularly want you to be fair to somebody else.”
But being a judge can also be rewarding, she said.
“I think the most rewarding thing that ever happened to me is probably three or four times a year, somebody stops me on the street and says, ‘You were my judge, and you gave me a chance. I have gone straight and I had a good life, and I want to thank you,’ ” she said. “And I get letters that say that.”
Smith graduated from Hugo High School in 1960. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Oklahoma State University in 1964. She taught English at Memorial High School in Tulsa and in Jacksonville, Florida.
She received a law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1980 and was in private practice for 14 years before being appointed a special district judge in 1994. She was appointed district judge in 2005.
Smith is the mother of two children and grandmother of four. She plans to spend more time with her family.
“I made a commitment over Memorial Day weekend that I was going to make every day count,” Smith said. “How that works out, I don’t know. There are a lot of ways to make a day count. But I guess the one thing I didn’t want to do at the end of the day is think I didn’t accomplish anything.”
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May 16, 2016
By MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Retirement turned out to not be nearly as slow-paced for Katie Alfred as she had imagined.
“You end up busier than you were when you worked,” she joked. “I really thought I’d stay home and garden and learn lots of stuff. I’m lucky if I can clean my house.”
Shortly after retiring from Citgo about eight years ago, she started volunteering at South Tulsa Community House through her church.
At the time the agency provided a food pantry in the 61st Street and Peoria Avenue area that served about 200 to 300 people a year.
When she started, Alfred would fill her car up with food and take it to the food pantry once a month.
As the agency has expanded during the last several years — in April it served 914 clients — so did Alfred’s volunteer role.
She goes in once a week and is in charge of a database of client statistics including age, ethnicity and income.
Alfred said she was never fond of math growing up, but her career and volunteer work happened to center on numbers.
She does point out that the clients she works with are more than just statistics on a spreadsheet.
“You learn a lot about them, their desires and their needs. I’ve known most of them for so long I feel like we’re part of a family,” she said. “A lot of times they come in and talk about their family and show me pictures.”
In addition to her weekly work at South Tulsa Community House, Alfred also delivers food with Meals on Wheels every other week and is her church’s secretary.
“This is my outlet. I come here once a week and get away from it all,” she said.
Gerri Inman, executive director of South Tulsa Community House, said she’s thankful for all the work Alfred provides.
“She truly is key to our day-to-day operations,” Inman said.
In addition to keeping track of the statistics, Alfred assists with client intake and helps connect clients with needed services that are not offered at the agency.
The agency is the primary service provider in the 61st and Peoria area, where more than 50 percent of the 18,000 to 19,000 residents are classified at the lowest level of poverty, Inman said.
In addition to the food pantry, the agency offers GED classes and has several in-house partners, including Emergency Infant Services, St. John Health System and Restore Hope Ministries.
The agency also provides bus tokens to clients, about 80 percent of which don’t have their own transportation.
“It’s hard to see so many people struggling,” Alfred said. “The needs are so great and I see that in our clients.”
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Stough is a leader in early breast cancer detection and has a passion for the cause.
“My mother and first cousin both had breast cancer that was invisible on the mammograms of that day,” says Stough. “With the advent of minimally invasive breast biopsies and digital mammography, the early diagnosis of breast cancer became possible.”
Around this time, Stough turned her attention from CT scanning to mammography, and in 1999, she helped open Mercy Women’s Center, the state’s first facility offering digital mammography to all patients.
However, she explains that despite the advances in digital mammography, there were breast cancers that were still unseen.
To increase detection, Stough launched the first comprehensive breast MRI program in Oklahoma in 2002 and is now one of the country’s most experienced breast MRI radiologists. She is an international speaker and educator on breast MRI and MRI-guided biopsies and serves as an advisor to industry leaders in imaging technology. She finds her greatest satisfaction in helping patients.
“Since these cancers are invisible by mammography and ultrasound, we perform an MRI-guided biopsy,” says Stough.
“Thus, we are able to make the diagnosis months before it would have been identifiable by any other method. This could be lifesaving.”
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Since 1967, Hall Estill has served Tulsa as a full-service business law firm. Hall Estill attorneys serve everything from mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Fayetville; Vaden Bales recently joined the 120-attorney team.
When Bales joined Hall Estill, he brought with him law experience in the areas of real estate and car dealerships, as well as general corporate work. Bales got his start with car dealerships by representing Don Thorton and Don Chalmers in the late 1980s.
“Because they were so well respected in the dealership community, others began to ask me to represent them as well,” said Bales. “It just grew from that point.”
Prior to working with Thorton and Chalmers, Bales began developing his experience in real estate law right out of school. He worked for a local commercial real estate law firm and later, in private practice, handled Leadership Square, a 800,000 square foot office and retail complex in Oklahoma City.
“From a real estate standpoint it had everything,” Bales said. “At the time it was a $92 million project, I was told it was the largest commercial real estate project in the state.”
When Bales joined Hall Estill, many of his clients from car dealerships and real estate followed him. Each area is unique in it’s own way, according to Bales, but they have more similarities than one might think.
“They’re similar in that structuring of the transactions is very important, entity formation is the same. What is the best form of entity to do this transaction, what’s the best tax structure, what are the parties respective obligations,” he said. “From a business organization standpoint a lot of things are the same.”
“Where they are different is regulations,” Bales continued. “Car dealerships are regulated by the Motor Vehicle Commission. They have a manufacturer who has all sorts of regulations for them that they have to comply with to be a dealer. There are more consumer issues in a car dealership. Real estate tends to be project specific.”
Despite key differences, practicing in different fields does not present itself as a challenge to Bales who says the two are complimentary.
“For example, if one of my car dealership clients is purchasing property, I can handle the real estate portion for them as well. I’ve done lots of real estate transactions,” Bales said. “But also because I’ve represented car dealerships I understand some of the car aspects that will affect real estate. I think those skills become complimentary; because I know about real estate and because I know about the car industry, I’m going to be quicker to see a potential problem.”
Bales added that what is great about Hall Estill is if a client faces an issue Bales does not have experience in, the firm has a “first-rate” attorney who does.
“Working for Hall Estill I know a lawyer who can fit all of my client’s specific legal needs,” he said.
When Bales isn’t busy serving Hall Estill clients, he’s serving on one of three charitable boards: the Sandia Foundation, the Gerald Ford Presidential Foundation and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
Bales joined the Sandia Foundation while living in New Mexico. The Sandia Foundation was created to aid educational, scientific, benevolent, religious and charitable institutions. Based out of Albuquerque, 45 percent of funds raised by the foundation goes to the University of New Mexico, 45 percent goes to Dickenson College in Carlisle, Penn., and the remaining 10 percent goes to Albuquerque charities. According to Bales, the foundations gives away $2.5 million to $3 million every year.
His involvement with the latter foundations stemmed from a family connection.
“Susan and I had been married a few years when I joined the Gerald Ford Presidential Foundation,” Bales said of his wife, daughter of Gerald Ford. “He [Ford] asked me to be on the foundation, I think I’m the first in-law to be asked to serve on it.
“When I joined the foundation they gave me a packet with the bylaws and I read them and started asking him questions about them. He said, ‘Why don’t you send me some questions and some recommendations of how they should be done.’ That led to me and another foundation member re-writing the bylaws of the Gerald Ford Presidential Foundation.”
The Gerald Ford Foundation’s mission is to promote and preserve the legacy of President Ford. Bales’ connection with the Ford family also led to his involvement on the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, an organization for individuals struggling with addiction and substance abuse.
You’re married to the daughter of President Gerald Ford and serve on his Presidential Foundation, what kind of effect has that had on you professional life?
It doesn’t really impact my business. ... He [Ford] recently had a ship named after him and I attended that ceremony- I was at a table with Rumsfelds, Cheneys, Kissingers- I’m around people, but for being married to Susan, I doubt I would spend a lot of time with.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment, professional or otherwise?
My grandchildren, I have three. I used to think people were a little goofy talking about their grandchildren, but I was proven wrong, because I’m probably as goofy as they get.
Between work and serving on the foundations it sounds like you’ve traveled a lot, where is your favorite place you’ve been?
I think my favorite place is the mountains in Colorado. I love to ski and I love to be in Colorado in the summer- there’s actually more to do, you can golf, hike, raft, etc.
You mentioned Hall Estill has something of a BBQ club, where has been your favorite BBQ?
Here in town, I think of the places I’ve been so far, I would say the downtown Albert G’s.
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It takes a lot of hard work and determination to keep that symbolic white hat clean for decades.
The Stetson-topped logo of Yale Cleaners, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, has heralded the company's industrial progress and customer service in dry cleaning for a large part of its history.
But John Rothrock, third-generation vice president, said the current operation faces a challenge to grow in a declining industry, with office layoffs still hitting dry cleaners hard.
"We have to work through all the same challenges every business has today: staffing, health care, technology and social media," Rothrock said. "Yale's goal hasn't changed; it remains focused on maintaining convenient dry cleaning locations with quick service and a place that Tulsa can depend on year after year."
The name of the cleaner is no Ivy League homage — the first address 70 years ago was at 1110 S. Yale Ave.
Yale Cleaners has made a lot of changes since those days, including same-day service, online discount coupons, drive-up carhop service and getting state government out of the price-setting business. The operation grew exponentially to 22 locations before scaling back to its current 12.
"It's a common misconception that Yale Cleaners is a franchise business — because of all the outlets," Rothrock said, "but they're all us."
James Hodges founded the company in 1944. Fifteen years later, Rothrock's grandfather James Stevenson, who had worked in dry cleaning since age 14, took ownership of Yale Cleaners.
In those days, the dry cleaning process involved huge, industrial-scale equipment, and the company's central production facility was at 5953 E. 15th St. Yale took in drop-off garments from the 22 shops, and processing took 24 hours. All the while, the ownership dreamed of being able to offer same-day service at discount prices.
In the 1980s, Stevenson's brother Jerry Stevenson and son-in-law Bill Rothrock Jr. — John's father — joined the family business. At that time, the American Dry Cleaner trade publication published a series of stories on different ways of looking at dry cleaning and commissioned scientists to conduct a study and write pieces for the publication.
"My grandfather read those and became a believer in some of the ideas," John said. "He and my father worked on the project and developed miniaturized dry cleaning systems and the ways to make them work — transforming the company from central plant drop-off locations to neighborhood dry cleaning facilities with their own equipment. Every location now has its own tanks and processing gear.
"In the 1980s no one had ever seen in-car dry cleaning service — customers driving up and carhops trotting out to pick up their clothing — and we developed the first carhop in Oklahoma, Broken Arrow being our first. We added a single-lane carhop service there and quickly learned that one lane wasn't enough because it backed up traffic clear out onto the street. So we built locations with two lanes to handle the volume."
Bill Rothrock, still an owner and operator today, also offered his recollections.
"In the late 1970s, Yale Cleaners sold drapes, cleaned and stored fur coats, and rented work uniforms," he said. "We eventually sold those operations, but when we sold uniform rental, that shut off quite a bit of volume ($3 million to $4 million a year) but made it possible to pay off most of our debt. That still left us with an operation worth $9 million to $10 million a year."
Yale Cleaners also fought what it considered governmental overreach.
The Oklahoma Dry Cleaning Act of 1945 created the State Dry Cleaning Board, which had the power to set prices that dry cleaners could charge. The board also prohibited advertising prices on dry cleaning and offering coupons or discounts.
The board later faced a legal challenge that was fought all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which upheld its price-setting power.
John's grandfather and two colleagues in the industry then lobbied the Legislature for two years to do away with the law. Finally, on July 1, 1985, it did so, abolishing the board and leaving price-setting to the dry cleaners.
Yale Cleaners also offers same-day service — impractical during the central plant days — and as long as the customer's dry cleaning is in by noon, it's ready by 5 p.m. Most stores operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday — carhop service and all.
Bill Rothrock has four sons and a daughter who all work for the company.
"Each of them has their own unique talents and abilities, and they all have important jobs to do," he said.
John Rothrock added: "Everything the company has done was geared to customer satisfaction. ... "Being the good guys in the white hats isn't just a slogan. It's something you have to live up to every day."
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By Laurie Winslow
World Staff Writer
Tulsa Plastics Co. was founded in 1941 to manufacture plastic covers for window water coolers. Within a few months the company was heavily involved in making parts for the U.S. effort to win World War II, according to its website.
Tulsa Plastics has several hundred customers in the United States, Canada and Europe.
It serves the aerospace, oil and gas, convenience store, display, signage, lighting, and water jet industries as well as machine shops, educational organizations, museums and numerous local businesses and individuals.
Jim Blakemore acquired the business with his brother, Tom, in 1996. Abe Abuali and David Bridges have small ownership interests, as well.
In the beginning, Jim Blakemore said, he did everything from purchasing materials to cleaning the bathrooms. But over the years his role has evolved into more of a CEO position.
What advantage does the company have by being in Tulsa? Have you ever considered relocating?
Tulsa is home to many great companies that we have been fortunate enough to serve. Being centrally located in the U.S. has been a great advantage in the distribution of our Durobrick Waterjet Bricks. We ship them coast to coast and to Canada.
We would never relocate; we are Tulsa Plastics. However, we've considered opening a branch in Northwest Arkansas.
How did the company fare during the economic downturn? What is business like now?
We did very well, and we didn't have to lay off any workers. It led to the expansion of our waterjet cutting business. In fact, we just purchased our third machine, which will cut at 90,000 pounds per square inch and allow us to cut up to 10-inch-thick metals with extremely tight tolerances.
What do you see as the most helpful thing state or federal lawmakers could do to help small businesses survive and thrive?
Lower the corporate tax rate and bring back the investment tax credit for the purchase of capital equipment.
How are you handling competition from China and other foreign countries?
As a predominately local company, that hasn't been a problem as of yet.
If you could share one practical piece of advice with other small business presidents or CEOs, what would it be?
Superior customer service is the most important aspect of building a small business.
What goals do you have for the company?
We want to increase our customer base, become more efficient in our operations and improve our already excellent customer service.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Clancy Smith was sworn in Wednesday as the newest member of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice James Edmondson appointed the former Tulsa County district court judge to replace Charles Chapel, who retired from the bench.
"This is a fine day for our court because we finally have five judges," said Court of Criminal Appeals Chief Justice Charles Johnson.
Smith was given the oath by Court of Civil Appeals Chief Judge Jane Wiseman. Two of her grandchildren, Jack, 10, and Luke Griffin, 8, of Tulsa helped her to put on her robe.
Tulsa County Presiding District Judge Thomas P. Thornbrugh described Smith as humble and modest, but with a wicked sense of humor. She is one of those rare individuals who is able to be serious without taking herself too seriously, he said.
"No one will work harder at her craft," Thornbrugh said. "No one."
Smith graduated from Hugo High School in 1960. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University in 1964. She taught high school English at Memorial High School in Tulsa and in Jacksonville, Fla.
She earned a law degree in 1980 from the University of Tulsa and was in private practice for 14 years before being appointed a special district judge in 1994. She was appointed district judge in 2005.
Smith said it is not her job as an appeals court judge to make law, but to interpret it. She said as a district judge she tried to ensure that everyone who went into her courtroom got a fair shake.