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Stillwater's First News with Bill Van Ness

Conversation opened. 1 read message. FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:FROM THE-------------------------FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:
-----------------------FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:
FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY:FROM Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum and First Cowboy Darren Shrum have been named grand marshals of OSU’s 2022 Homecoming festivities by the OSU Alumni Association.FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSFROMM


City of Stillwater Water Utilities will begin a temporary free chlorine conversion beginning April 3, 2023. The water treatment plant will stop using chloramines, its usual disinfection method, and switch to free chlorine for 30 days. Customers may notice some changes in odor and taste during the transition.

Chlorine and chloramines are both standard disinfectants used to kill bacteria in drinking water. This temporary switch is a common practice to ensure reliable disinfection and high water quality throughout systems that use chloramines.

The process is 30 days and the facility will resume using chloramines beginning May 3.  Additional information will be provided as available, if needed, at



Stillwater Public Schools have announced three teachers as finalists for the district Teacher of the Year - Chloe Andrews, Mechelle Helmberger, and Rayna Zimmerman

Chloe Andrews
An Oklahoma State University graduate, English Language Arts Teacher Chloe Andrews first started working with SPS students during her sophomore year of college. While working with a Lincoln Academy student on a writing initiative for a class, she decided she wanted to be a part of SPS and changed her career from Family and Consumer Science to English. She student taught at Stillwater Junior High with Shaila West in the Fall of 2017, and, following graduation, Andrews accepted her current teaching position at Stillwater Middle School.

"My educational philosophy stems from my personal experiences,” says Andrews. “It's short and sweet; I come as I am everyday with my heart on my sleeve ready to meet my students where they are at. If I take down my walls, many of my kids will do the same. It is only once our walls come down that our minds, and our hearts, can be open to learning. These are the moments that ignite my passion for teaching. There is nothing like seeing a group of students find their stride and embark on their own educational journey."

Mechelle Helmberger
Richmond Kindergarten Teacher Mechelle Helmberger is a Texas Tech University graduate, former Skyline Cub, and Stillwater Pioneer through Junior High. Helmberger began teaching in Texas sixteen years ago. She has taught English as a Second Language, preschool, kindergarten, first, second, and third grades throughout her career. She says she alway felt like Stillwater was home and wanted to raise a family in the community and to give back to the community by teaching in the district that inspired her as a child. She joined SPS at Richmond five years ago; this is her third year teaching kindergarten.

“I think to say that I am honored to be named a Teacher of the Year finalist is an understatement,” says Helmberger. “Overjoyed is more the feeling I have to represent Richmond and all of the amazing teachers that all work hard together to cultivate a school culture that is grounded by a mutual respect not only between student and teachers, but also as a school team that encourages and supports each other. l know I would not be half the teacher I am without them! As Mr. Gordon says, ‘I love Stillwater!’”

Rayna Zimmerman
In her ninth year of teaching, Instructional Coach Rayna Zimmerman is also an OSU graduate. Zimmerman spent her student teaching internship in the Chisholm and Edmond school districts and taught for five years in Harrah Public Schools, before returning to Stillwater. “We moved back after college, specifically for the diversity Stillwater offers,” she says. “This community just feels like home.”

“I am genuinely surprised and humbled by this recognition, says Zimmerman. “I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for the people of my school community. They’ve challenged me to grow, helped me when I’ve stumbled, and celebrated every success along the way. I certainly don’t feel the most worthy of this recognition as I work among the absolute best, but I’m honored that I’ve been chosen to represent the profession, and my school, in such a meaningful way.”

Following the selection of the eleven SPS site Teachers of the Year by each school, these three finalists were identified by a selection committee. The finalists will now submit a detailed portfolio and the district Teacher of the Year will be determined by a vote of their peers.

Other SPS school site Teachers of the Year are:
    Highland Park Elementary- Abby Varnum - Special Services
    Sangre Ridge Elementary - Rachel Wilson - Second Grade
    Skyline Elementary - Jacob Culpepper - Physical Education
    Westwood Elementary - Marie Sanders - Music
    Junior High - Aleshia Graham - English Language Arts
    High School - Larry Hesler - Mathematics
    Stillwater Pioneer Virtual Academy - Clarence Holley - Virtual Secondary
    Lincoln Academy - Carla Harnly - Family and Consumer Sciences
“Stillwater is an amazing place with hundreds of stellar teachers,” says Superintendent Uwe Gordon, “and these three are shining examples of what it means to be an excellent educator. While visiting their classes to surprise them, it was easy to see the genuine enthusiasm and pride their students have for their teachers. I wish them all the best on the next step, and I do not envy those voting in the process, because choosing a district Teacher of the Year from this group is going to be a very hard thing to do.”

The district winner will be announced this April and then participate in the competition to become the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.



Oklahoma State is strengthening its position within the national landscape of college athletics with the unveiling of the athletics facilities vision plan that was announced by Athletic Director Chad Weiberg on Monday.

The plan focuses on providing for the success of the student-athletes, improving the fan experience and bolstering the university's ability to attract student-athletes across all programs through the creation of a unified and connected athletic village unrivaled in college sports.

Included in the plan are a new football operations center, a new wrestling training facility, a new softball stadium, an indoor track, a new training center for basketball, upgrades to the Pedigo-Hull Equestrian Center and to Karsten Creek Golf Course as well as repurposed areas in the west end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium and Gallagher-Iba Arena for student-athlete services that include a new academics center and spaces for mental health, leadership and career development.
The athletics vision plan comes at an estimated cost of approximately $325 million. The implementation and order of construction will be determined as funding becomes available for each individual element.
"This is a time of conference realignment and unprecedented transformation in college athletics," Weiberg said. "With a history that includes 52 NCAA titles, for us to continue to achieve championship results, now is not the time to pause or rest on past accomplishments, but to honor those accomplishments by pushing forward and building upon what has been started.  This vision plan provides a road map for the next phase of an athletics village that will be unrivaled in collegiate sports."



Residents are encouraged to purchase rain barrels through the Central Oklahoma Stormwater Alliance’s (COSWA) rain barrel promotion event. Rain barrels are good for the environment and can potentially save residents money on water bills by harvesting rain water for future use.

Rain barrels capture water from roofs which can then be used to water lawns and gardens, wash cars and other similar uses. When runoff leaves a property, it can pick up pollutants and deposit them in our waterways. Using rain barrels helps to reduce stormwater pollution by minimizing the amount of stormwater runoff that leaves a site.

Rain barrels are made from repurposed food-grade barrels and are offered in black, grey, blue and terra-cotta colors. Prices begin at $69.50. The barrels Rainwater totes with a 275 gallon capacity will also be available for order this year.

If ordering by mail, orders must be placed by April 27, 2023. Online orders must be placed by April 30, 2023, at

Orders must be picked up at the City of Stillwater Convenience Collection Center, 807 S. Perkins Rd., on Saturday, May 6, 2023, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For more information, contact Zack Henson at (405) 533-8436 or email at

ABC News


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