• PICHER -- Weekend repairs on a new city well allowed water to flow again Monday for residents who last week had to rely on an old well that put out rust-colored water.

    Acid mine drainage is blamed for the orange discoloration. Contaminated water from abandoned lead and zinc mines entered the town's well in the mid-1980s.

    The Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Quality drilled a new well in January. But service was turned off Thursday so that workers could fix a hole in a pipe.

    A city official said service was restored Saturday.

    Jo Montana, special project coordinator with Grand Gateway Economic Development Association, said Picher will pay for the repairs with grant money from the Rural Economic Action Plan. The grant was originally awarded to buy trees and other vegetation to enhance the "moonscape" caused by tons of gravel-like mine waste, called chat.

    "The money is for landscaping but can be used in an emergency situation on something other than landscaping," Montana said. "Clean drinking water is important and takes precedence."

    An estimated 1,700 people live in the far northeastern Oklahoma town.

  • `Trash-Off' days to spruce up Oologah Lake

    OOLOGAH -- Litter and trash thrown in and around Oologah Lake has become a serious problem that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking the public to eradicate.

    The unsightly deposits -- everything from empty bait containers to discarded furniture and building materials -- is dangerous to wildlife and can result in costly repairs to boat motors and water supply intakes and pumps, a corps spokesman said.

    The Corps of Engineers is sponsoring two ``Trash-Off'' days on April 17 and 18. Volunteers are invited to select their own time and place to clean up. The first to register gets priority. Trash bags and a trash can will be provided.

    Anyone or group who wants to participate may contact Glenda Vincent at the Corps of Engineers office at (918) 443-2250cq to register.

  • Embezzlement trial to be determined

    POTEAU -- A decision on whether a former drug investigator will face trial on multiple embezzlement charges is expected this week.

    Charles David Love, 46, is accused of embezzling several thousand dollars intended to be used to pay confidential informants in drug cases while he was an investigator with the LeFlore County District Attorney's Office.

    Judge Tony Benson took the charges under advisement after a preliminary hearing last week.

    A co-defendant in the case, Michael Shane Hilburn, 31, waived his preliminary hearing and will be arraigned April 15.

    Two of the 39 counts against the men have been dropped after testimony from witnesses failed to support those charges.

    The men were indicted by a multicounty grand jury in Oklahoma County. The case was later moved to LeFlore County.

  • Charges filed in two-state crime spree

    POTEAU -- Felony charges have been filed against two men and a juvenile suspected in a two-state crime spree earlier this month.

    Ralph Howard Cassady III, 23, and David Krueger, 20, were charged in LeFlore County District Court with robbery with a firearm.

    Cassady also is charged with shooting with intent to kill and feloniously pointing a firearm because shots were fired at police.

    Krueger also faces a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle.

    The teen-ager has been charged with armed robbery and feloniously pointing a firearm.

    Prosecutors are seeking to certify the 17-year-old as an adult so he can be tried in district court on the charges.

    Authorities believe the trio robbed two stores in Poteau and Fort Smith, Ark., on March 18 using guns stolen in Pushmataha County and a pickup truck stolen in Poteau.

    Shots were fired from the pickup during a chase with police. The chase ended in the Cameron area, where the trio was subsequently arrested after a manhunt.

  • Federal warrants issued for jail escapees

    LAWTON -- Federal warrants have been issued for two escapees from the Comanche County Jail.

    Richard A. Marquise, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oklahoma, said Monday that the warrants were issued for David Lee Kemp, 29, and Antonio Marceana Willis, 21.

    The two were among nine people who escaped from the jail on March 11. The other seven have been recaptured.

    Kemp is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Willis was being held for auto theft.

    The federal warrants for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution allow the FBI to join the search.

  • Convicted murderer asks for death

    A former Oklahoma inmate has changed his mind again and now wants to be put to death, a Pennsylvania newspaper reported Monday.

    David Paul Hammer, 39, is asking the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to ignore his December appeal of his death sentence, the Patriot News of Harrisburg said.

    Hammer had been scheduled to die Jan. 14 and didn't want to challenge the death sentence. But he changed his mind and the appeals began.

    Hammer is a former inmate at the Allenwood Federal Penitentiary. He was convicted of strangling his cellmate. Hammer is in prison in Colorado for that 1996 death.

    Hammer strangled his cellmate with a cord after tying him to a bunk. At the time, he was serving a 1,223-year sentence at Allenwood for a 1980s crime spree in Oklahoma.

    The spree included kidnapping and attempted murder following his escape from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester in the early 1980s.