For decades, the nation's media have covered, and amplified, the controversies of rap music, from the hype of the East Coast-West Coast rivalry that framed the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. in the 1990s, to last year's murder of Los Angeles rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle.
OKLAHOMA CITY — State Sen. Marty Quinn has worked in the insurance business for 36 years, but recently some of his business reviews are taking a turn for the worse.
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – The seamstress employee who played a central role in helping two convicted killers escape from a maximum-security prison in northeast New York in June of 2015 has been released on parole.
Over 125 church leaders, business owners and community members gathered Thursday for a seminar on law changes and safety concerns following the passage of Constitutional Carry last year.
Democrat Amy McGrath, a 44-year-old retired Marine combat pilot, has officially filed her candidate papers to challenge Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November's election.
CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. — Nolan LaValley, blind since birth, does not let his disability keep him from bowling and enjoying a sport he has learned from his high school coach and teammates.
OLIVE HILL, Ky. -- It had the trappings of a scene from The Natural. A hand-crafted bat made from scratch for Tim Johnson’s son J.T.’s summer season in the North Carolina North State League, showcase for college baseball players with big league dreams.
It wasn’t “Wonderboy” made for Roy Hobbs from a tree split by lightning. But it lickety-split earned the reputation of whim-wham lumber from J.T.’s Piedmont Whitetails’ teammates, including the winner of the league’s 2019 home run derby.
From there, word of mouth spread so fast that Tim Johnson’s woodworking hobby moved to the early stage of a budding bat production company, making customized and model bats for baseball and softball players of all ages.
Located in the northeast Kentucky hamlet of Olive Hill, the informally named Big Johnson Bat Company includes marketing maven Madison, Johnson’s niece and a softball player at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. She sells Johnson bats like they were hotcakes cooked in pork fat.
“I had to tell her to quit,” said the 54-year-old Johnson. “I couldn’t make them as fast as she sold them.”
With the assistance of his brother Shawn, Johnson fastidiously lathes blank cylindrical billets of ash or maple into sanded, customized bats, each taking three to four hours. Duplicates of non-customized bats take 20 minutes on a duplicator, a machine designed to ensure the legs on a chair are identical.
Customized bats are made to a hitter’s preferred length, weight and sweet spot. A wood-burning pen brands the barrel, then Johnson hand rubs each bat with seven or eight coasts of lacquer, a task performed in the bathroom of the family home because there’s too much humidity and dust in his workshop.
Johnson’s “plant” is his 576-square-foot garage, jammed with various machines, prototypes, raw wood, tool chests and a refrigerator for drinks in one corner. To cross the sawdust blanketed workspace, you carefully set your foot with each step.
Making bats is Johnson’s night job. During the day he’s an administrator for three area vocational schools, meaning he starts his bat-making around 4 p.m. He normally turns out two customized bats before calling it a night, though he’s made as many as five hand-turned bats in one very long night, an experience he doesn’t plan to repeat.
Johnson works on and off during the week, unless “Madison goes back to a selling rampage, then it’ll be every night.”
The Johnson customized bat sells for $125. Madison-designed bats for training, with an enlarged sweet spot, go for $75. One-handed bats cost $50. Johnson also makes long, lightweight fungo bats for hitting practice balls to fielders.
The Johnson brothers learned wood working at a young age, assisting their father, who owned a used furniture store that included refinished antiques. They also played baseball in high school and college before taking up successful high school coaching careers. That background has been helpful in bat production, said Tim Johnson.
“I know what a bat needs to feel like,” he said, “if it needs to be balanced or end-loaded, how thick or thin a handle needs to be, if you need a cupped end, a smaller taper on the barrel or a longer barrel, and what type of wood has the qualities that would be most productive with each particular swing.”
Johnson never thought his bat hobby would go this far. Yet he plans to retire from his school administrator’s position sometime next year, then decide whether to make bats for a living -- with the help of his brother Shawn, son J.T. and niece Madison.
They already have a tee-shirt slogan, “Swinging hard wood.” Now all they need is a natural like Roy Hobbs to popularize the power of the Johnson bat.
Zach Klemme, sports writer for the Ashland, Ky., Daily Independent provided details for this story.
Richard Malone, the embattled bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, has resigned, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
ENID, Okla. – Air Force officials Friday identified the two airmen killed in a crash landing of a trainer jet at Vance Air Force Base as student pilot Lt. Travis Wilkie, 23, and instructor Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade, 47.
Before dying of a methamphetamine overdose early on Aug. 1, 2017, La Salle County, Texas, prisoner James Dean Davis, aka “Country,” moaned and yelled for most of the night. Sweat dripped off him in a chilly holding cell, as vomit ran red, like Kool-Aid, on the floor.
ENID, Okla. –Two jet fighter planes used for pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in northern Oklahoma crashed Thursday morning, causing the death of two airmen, base officials announced.
DUNCAN, Okla. – The police clock read 9:55 a.m. Monday when a 911 caller reported an unidentified man and woman, walking calmly from the money center in Walmart to enter their parked car, suddenly were shot to death through the windshield.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Lt. Clyde Doty kept telling the man clinging for his life in river rapids 100 yards from the brink of the American Falls the same thing over and over: “We got you, we got you.”
The immediate aftermath of what some political pundits view as puzzling election results in Kentucky on Tuesday is hardly time enough to analyze accurately what happened and why. But we can draw some broad conclusions.
OKLAHOMA CITY – President Trump's critics won’t get their kicks on Route 66 under an Oklahoma legislator’s proposal to rename a small stretch of the iconic roadway after the president.
If you live in non-metro or rural America, you’ve been left behind by the economic boom cycle that came after the Great Recession. You also endured a more severe recession than people who live in bigger cities.
GREENVILLE, Tex. – Authorities have dropped murder charges against the man arrested for the shooting deaths of two people and the wounding of six others at an Oct. 26 Halloween party on the outskirts of this northeast Texas city.
At a May 2016 campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia, Donald Trump, the presumed GOP nominee for president, told the faithful: “If I win, we’re going to bring those miners back. You’re going to be so proud of your president. For those miners, get ready, because you’re going to be working your asses off.”
TAFT, Okla. – Tess Harjo, 28, couldn’t restraint her joy. She hugged and hugged her aunts, her grandmother and other relatives, one after another, on her first day of freedom from prison in nearly two years.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The sentences of more than 500 prisoners were reduced Friday by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, setting the stage for their release within days.
Yogi Berra once famously gave this puzzling advice to a college graduating class, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” The quip became lore, along with other Yogi-isms attributed to the legendary baseball player.
GREENVILLE, Texas – A suspect has been arrested and jailed on capital murder charges in the shooting deaths of two men and the wounding of six others at a crowded Texas party venue over the weekend.
GREENVILLE, Texas – Two men who died when a gunman opened fire at a crowded weekend party facility were identified Monday as Kevin Berry, Jr., 23, of Dallas, and Byron Craven, Jr., also 23, of Arlington, a Dallas suburb.
TONAWANDA, N.Y. – A victim of physical abuse for years by her ex-boyfriend, Jessica Cameron agreed to meet him outside Tim Hortons restaurant in this western New York town where she worked .
BLUEFIELD, W. Va. -- A handwritten note from a high school math teacher admonishing young John Forbes Nash Jr. to “organize your work … otherwise you will waste your talent” is among his prized documents up for auction in New York City Friday.
ENID, Okla. – Garfield County in northern Oklahoma has agreed to pay $12.5 million to the estate of a county jail inmate who was restrained in a chair for more than 55 hours before he died from medical neglect.
DANVILLE, Pa. - The parents of one of three infants who died from a waterborne bacteria outbreak at Geisinger Medical Center last month have hired an attorney to investigate their child's death and prepare a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.
NORMAN — Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown’s sack of Sam Ehlinger resulted in a safety during last year’s Big 12 title game, and arguably became OU’s best defensive highlight of last season.
STATE COLLEGE, Penn. -- An elderly Penn State grad’s letter to the football team’s black captain describing his dreadlocks as “disgusting” has touched off a social media firestorm and national media attention over the message’s racial overtones.
PALESTINE, Tex. -- With more than 100 jail deaths a year, Texas leads the nation, and probably accounts for more than 10 percent of the U.S. total of in-custody
BOSTON – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker Tuesday declared vaping a statewide public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping supplies, including those used to smoke marijuana.
McALESTER, Okla. – Prosecutors have elevated to terrorism the criminal complaints against the former McAlester High School student accused of threatening a mass shooting with her newly acquired AK-47.
BOSTON -- Star wide receiver Antonio Brown’s career with the New England Patriots ended Friday, 11 days and 1 game after he joined the team.
McALESTER, Okla. -- The teen waitress at a pizza restaurant who boasted to a co-worker and friends about her new AK-47 rifle was arrested Monday for what police said was threatening to “shoot 400 people for fun” at the high school.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Johnson & Johnson's appeal of the $572.1 million verdict for its role in Oklahoma's opioid crisis will assert the trial judge wrongly applied the state's public nuisance law.
NORMAN, OKLA. — A New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company caused an Oklahoma opioid crisis that led to thousands of deaths, and must pay $572.1 million to fix it, a Cleveland County, Oklahoma, district judge ruled Monday.
CLEBURNE, Tex. – A 35-year-old Texan wanted for the sexual assault of two small children pulled into the sheriff’s parking lot here Wednesday afternoon, then fatally shot himself in the head as deputies approached to arrest him.
BETHEL, N.Y. – The Beatles were not here 50 years ago when more than 400,000 people crowded shoulder-to-shoulder over acres of farm land to listen to rock ‘n’ roll music and define a cultural happening known as Woodstock.
In 2002, a friend’s eight-year-old daughter, Brianna Caddell, while sleeping in her bed, was fatally shot with an AK-47 assault rifle. The shooter, a drug dealer who had beef with another drug dealer, fired on the wrong house in Detroit, spraying it with two dozen rounds.
This Week's Circulars
ADA [ndash] Clayton Thorne Adams, 29, of Ada passed away Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Ada. Funeral services are at 10 a.m. Friday at Under The Blood Ministries Church in Ada. A family visitation will be held from 5 until 7 p.m. Thursday at Estes-Phillips Funeral Home in Ada.
ADA [ndash] April Dawn Odom, 54, of Ada passed away Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Pecos, Texas. Funeral services for April will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Estes-Phillips Funeral Home Chapel in Ada. Interment will follow at Maxwell Cemetery in Ada.
- Man in jail on charges of kidnapping
- Sheriff declares Stephens Co. ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary County’
- Third Moore High School athlete dies after Feb. 3 hit-and-run
- Cowan family reunited with long lost military items after 50 plus years
- Duncan Regional Hospital talks about programs at Chamber Breakfast
- Bonds pass, council member selected for Marlow
- Column: Did you know? In Oklahoma 2nd degree burglary is technically a non-violent crime
- SCHS Column: Beautiful Zuri ready for a home
- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month highlighted at Duncan Council
- Mayor proclaims Black History Month; Events scheduled to celebrate