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'Awesome sacrifices': 'Let Freedom Ring' ceremony commemorates Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War generation

As much time as she’s spent wearing Revolutionary War-era women’s outfits over the years, Orriene Denslow knows it better than anyone:

They weren’t designed with comfort primarily in mind.

“I don’t even wear a bustle or corset,” she said. “The dresses are constricting enough without them.”

“Especially for me,” she added. “I’m normally a pants lady because I’m so active.”

The Broken Arrow resident is more than willing, though, to sacrifice a little comfort if it helps promote historical understanding.

That’s really what “Let Freedom Ring” on Thursday is all about.

Honorary state regent for the Oklahoma Daughters of the American Revolution, Denslow will again join several of her male counterparts in period dress to perform the traditional Fourth of July bell-ringing ceremony at the University of Tulsa’s Bayless Plaza.

Held annually by the local chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the free program will begin at 12:45 p.m. and last about half an hour.

It includes the bell-ringing, a reading from the Declaration, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, along with renditions of the national anthem and other patriotic songs.

Members of the Tulsa SAR color guard, including Denslow’s husband, Stuart, will wear their uniforms — replicas of the ones worn by Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army.

Ron Painter, Tulsa SAR president, said: “In the northeast they have a lot of era landmarks, historical reenactments. We don’t have any of that in Oklahoma, so I think the dress is even more important. It gives people a visual of the period and helps make an impact.”

And it inspires questions.

How women moved around in such restrictive clothing, Denslow said, is something she often gets asked by young girls.

“We also get kids who ask if we’re really that old,” Painter added, laughing.

A former history teacher and career educator, Denslow said she would’ve taught history differently had she known then what she’s since learned through the DAR.

History “is not about dates,” she said. “It’s about people and the context of what was going on in their lives.”

For many of the American colonists, she added, “England was home. What a tremendous decision it was for them (to revolt). It’s incomprehensible to us today.”

Making that history more comprehensible has become a mission for Denslow. She speaks regularly across the state, including on the subject of women in the American Revolution.

At Thursday’s event, the history behind the Fourth of July will be front and center.

Bayless Plaza is home to TU’s historic Kendall Bell, which per tradition will be rung 13 times as part of the ceremony, once for each of the 13 original states.

Every Fourth of July, bells are rung across the country at 1 p.m. CDT, traditionally recognized as the hour the signing took place.

The “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony was established nationally in 1963 by Congress as a way to recognize the signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1776.

Denslow, who’s taken part in the ceremony for 15 years, sees it as another opportunity to educate.

“We are 243 years away from (the Declaration) and unless we really make an effort not to, we will forget the awesome sacrifices that generation made,” she said.


Business
AP
S&P 500, Dow industrials and Nasdaq close at record highs

NEW YORK — Investors extended a rally through a holiday-shortened day and pushed the S&P 500 index to its third straight record high close on Wednesday. Other major indexes also closed at record highs.

The rally follows a slight easing of trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Both nations have agreed to refrain from new tariffs while they open a new round of negotiations. The development relieved some pressure on the market, though the trade war still looms over global economic growth.

The S&P 500 rose 22.81 points, or 0.8%, to close at 2,995.82. The third record high close in as many days also pushed the index closer to breaching the 3,000 mark.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average also reached a record, gaining 179.32 points, or 0.7%, to close at 26,966.

Technology stocks led the gains, helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite join the record-breaking club. The Nasdaq rose 61.14 points, or 0.8%, to 8,170.23.

“Clearly the trade truce with China has been a catalyst for the market even though there remain uncertainties,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Technology companies, which tend to do a lot of business with China, have been particularly sensitive to the trade war between the U.S. and China. The sector has been broadly higher this week.

Cybersecurity software company Symantec surged 13.6% and did much of the heavy lifting on Wednesday as media reports suggest it is considering a sale to chipmaker Broadcom. Microsoft and Apple also made gains.

A broad mix of health care companies lifted that sector. Johnson & Johnson rose 1.5%, and Merck rose 1.6%.

Communications and internet companies were also among the biggest gainers, with strong pushes from Facebook and Netflix.

Tesla rose 4.6% after telling investors that it delivered more electric cars in the second quarter than any three-month period in its history. The upbeat trading comes as the electric car maker struggles to meet production promises and to consistently make money.

Every sector in the S&P 500 made gains.

The records are adding to a yearlong rally. The S&P 500 is up more than 19% so far, while the Dow is up more than 15%. The Nasdaq is now up 23% for the year.

The market will be closed Thursday for the Independence Day holiday.

Investors will be on the lookout for the government’s closely watched monthly jobs report scheduled for Friday. The results of that report will likely be a factor in the Federal Reserve’s meeting later this month. The central bank has already said it is prepared to cut rates to shore up the U.S. economy if trade disputes crimp growth.

“The market is going to expect a rate cut if there is a weak report,” Krosby said.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.95% from 1.97% Tuesday.

In commodities trading, benchmark crude oil rose $1.09 to settle at $57.34 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.42 to close at $63.82 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to $1.92 per gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.90 per gallon. Natural gas added 5 cents to $2.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar rose to 107.87 Japanese yen from 107.84 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.1278 from $1.1291.


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State-and-regional
One year since new tax, cigarette sales down 25% but state tax revenue up $133 million

Although people bought fewer cigarettes in Oklahoma in fiscal year 2019, the state collected more than $100 million more than during the previous year thanks to the $1 per-pack cigarette tax that went into effect July 1, 2018.

Oklahomans bought nearly 60 million fewer packs of cigarettes in the last fiscal year, which ended Sunday. That’s about a 25% drop, according to a statement from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Paula Ross, communications director for the Tax Commission, said in an email that the cigarette tax, which helped contribute to a teacher pay raise, directly led to $133 million in additional tax revenue. It was more than enough to have a net increase in collections year-to-year, despite the drop in sales.

With lower cigarette sales, Christin Kirchendauer, tobacco manager with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said it’s a step in the right direction toward fewer smokers in the state.

Before the tax went into effect, Kirchendauer said, the department analyzed the projected impact of the tax on smoking’s prevalence. Although the numbers can be a bellwether for smoking information in the state, Kirchendauer said the department’s own research using the same data will give greater information at least in the short-term.

“Those chronic conditions we look at, we won’t be able to see that for years down the road,” Kirchendauer said. “We will be able, hopefully, to see a drop in the smoking rates among adults, and we hope to see a decline in youth utilization.

“The best indicator of what’s happening is the consumption data, that tax data.”

Kirchendauer said follow-up research near the end of the summer should give more insight into the tax’s effects on smoking in the state.


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State-and-regional
Pawhuska's outgoing city manager unexpectedly fired the police chief. Five days later an interim manager rehired him.

PAWHUSKA — Nick Silva led reporters to the police station’s parking lot, where a dozen or so of his supporters were on tenterhooks for his first words Wednesday evening.

Only five days earlier Silva had been terminated as police chief in an impromptu meeting with two city officials who no longer are with the local government.

How did it go? one supporter asked. “Everything’s good,” Silva responded of his private meeting with the city attorney and freshly minted interim city manager.

How so? “I’m the chief of police,” he replied, eliciting cheers and applause from the group.

The Pawhuska City Council met behind closed doors for 40 minutes Wednesday to discuss the vacant city manager’s position. The governing body in a 5-0 vote approved administrative assistant Tonya Bright as interim city manager, and she then met with Silva.

“They offered me an apology in an informal manner, just we’re sorry and we didn’t know what was taking place,” Silva said. “We just had a good conversation, the city attorney and myself, man to man. And of course Tonya and I talked and discussed the furtherance of how the department’s going to go.

“They said, ‘We love what you were doing. Keep it up, and just keep moving forward the way you were going.’”

The details of how the city found itself in controversy are murky.

Then-City Manager Larry Eulert and then-Assistant City Manager Rex Wikel met with Silva on Friday. Silva said they told him they didn’t like the Police Department’s direction since Silva took over as chief in April after Wikel’s promotion.

Silva was then fired.

Specific reasons weren’t provided, he said. But he said he did let go of two officers who served under Wikel.

“It was just decisions that were made that it was either best to go elsewhere or there was policy violations,” Silva said.

After the council’s vote, City Attorney John Heskett said there was no termination letter or discipline regarding Silva.

The Tulsa World reached Wikel by phone earlier Wednesday. Wikel declined to discuss his reason for resigning Monday nor why Silva was fired.

Wikel confirmed that he was in the meeting Friday with Eulert and Silva. Wikel said ultimately it is the city manager’s responsibility to make hiring and firing decisions, not his.

Wikel’s resignation letter stated that he felt it was “in the best interest of my family and I that I resign from this position.”

Heskett said Eulert already had planned to retire and that Eulert considered Sunday to be his final day.

Bright is serving as interim city manager until Dave Neely, most recently Nowata County assessor, takes the post Aug. 1. That arrangement previously was in place.

Bright said Silva’s reinstatement took effect immediately.

“It’s my opinion that in the interest of fairness this is the right decision,” she said. “Both the city and Mr. Silva look forward to a new beginning.”

Silva was flanked by police Sgt. Daniel Alden, who also returned to duty Wednesday. Alden had left a larger agency in the Tulsa area to work for Silva, a former supervisor, and resigned in protest of Silva’s termination.

“Bosses like that, a man of integrity, they’re hard to find,” Alden said. “So I definitely pursued it. And I was only here for a couple weeks when they did what they did to him. And it isn’t acceptable.

“I felt like I had to do something, even if it didn’t make a difference. I had to do something to show I’m sick of good ol’ boy politics.”

Silva said he was eager to put on his uniform Wednesday evening and get back to work. And he noted that the public forum he had scheduled for 6 p.m. July 23 at the Pawhuska Church of God remains on tap for the community to have a dialogue with police on myriad matters.

“The public’s come out and made their voices heard. And the officers and dispatchers made their voices heard,” Silva said. “And we’re ready to move forward and past this.

“I will certainly hold myself and the officers accountable, and we will be transparent to this public.”

Several people attended the special council meeting in support of reinstating Silva. Tjuana Boulanger carried a petition being circulated to recall each council member.

“Once Nick came on, we finally felt peace. We felt protected because we never was before,” Boulanger said. “All these people do what they want.”

Mayor Roger Taylor said he was caught off guard by Silva’s firing. Taylor described the City Council as an advisory-type board, given no one is paid for the work. He said the city manager is employed to run the government.

Taylor asked for a chance to “make the best of a bad situation” and said the City Council is trying its best to make it right.

“Maybe we should have been a little more reactive with it. It wasn’t us who fired him, and it wasn’t us that told the man to fire him. He did it on his own,” Taylor said. “Now I’m not throwing Mr. Eulert under the bus — he’s a good guy — but the situation … maybe we didn’t handle it quite right. I don’t know; I wasn’t there.”



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WPX Energy's 260,000-square-foot tower will be built on the block of property where the old Spaghetti Warehouse was located.

Read the story: WPX Energy investing $100 million in new 11-story downtown Tulsa headquarters