Brand It Blue Day: Helping Food Banks Around the Country


My travels this week showed me the best of people and the worst….

Welcome back. Saturday morning found me at the Regional Food Bank in Oklahoma City where I had   heard there was going to be a big food drive and volunteer event. Their massive distribution center is located just a few miles south of town on Purdue Street. When I got there Express Employment Professionals had a team of over 150 staff, family and friends, along with CEO Bob Funk, who were getting ready to work. The volunteers unloaded trucks, prepared and packs meals and baked bread and then they cleaned up the place. It was quite a day’s work but everyone left with a smile on their face. While I was there I learned that Express has been sponsoring this event for four years. Known as Brand It Blue day, this year the event provided over 50,000 meals in the Oklahoma City area alone. Express offices also donated 1,700 pounds of food and a cash donation of $6,633. In the past four years they estimate that Brand It Blue Day has provided 265,000 meals in the United States and Canada.

A few years back I wrote a story about Express and Bob Funk and their outstanding support of causes not only in Oklahoma but all over the world. I also knew of their support locally for Elder Care but I was not familiar with this event or the food bank. According to their website, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma serves 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Through a network of community based hunger relief agencies they feed 116,000 people every week! In our area, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma operates in a similar fashion, distributing food and other grocery items to partner agencies in 23 counties, including Washington County. Both food banks depend on private donations and when you see these numbers you realize how great the need is across the state. For someone who knew very little about this situation it was quite the eye opening experience. I’ll leave you with the motto of the Regional Food Bank: “Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope.”

From Oklahoma City I went on to Pawnee, OK and the home of Gordon W. Lillie, or as the world now knows him, Pawnee Bill. The Pawnee Bill home, museum and ranch is open 7 days a week during the summer and folks if you don’t know about this man’s place in American history you need to learn. Trapper, buffalo hunter, interpreter, teacher and cowboy, he traveled the world with his Wild West Show and teamed up with Buffalo Bill to have the largest and fanciest show of its time. This weekend was the reenactment of his show and the promoters told me it was one of the biggest ever, playing to a full house. If you missed the show this is a must see place and one of my favorites. When in the area,  check it out.

Moving from two positive stories to Monday’s wrap up of a trial dealing with mass murder, torture, drugs, prison gangs and jailhouse snitches. The verdict in the so called Cathouse Murder Trial brings an end to one of the bloodiest crimes in Oklahoma City’s history and I myself am glad it’s almost over. If you haven’t been following my coverage of the trial over the past three weeks you can check it out on my website or pick up back issues at the offices of the Examiner Enterprise.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…



National Softball Hall of Fame

A little more on the Cathouse Murders trial and another little known gem in Oklahoma. Congratulations to the OU Women’s Softball Team on their 3rd National Title!

Welcome back. According to Assistant D.A. Merydith Easter the estimated cost of the “Cathouse Murders” trial that is currently underway in Oklahoma City has not been tallied up but with a couple of dozen witnesses left to testify and at least three more weeks of proceedings I’ll let you add it up. One of the state’s witnesses this past week was a man who calls the federal prison in   Terre Haute, IN home. This man, who will remain unnamed for his own safety, testified that Danny Phillips, who if you haven’t heard is one of the defendants, told him about the murders in a jailhouse conversation. A snitch as other inmates call them, he also told the judge and the jury that he would be a dead man if he was not moved to another prison.

Listening to all the details that go into this type of witness protection program, and after asking Assistant D.A. Easter a few questions, I learned that these programs are quite secretive and add significantly to the costs of a trial. Secret witnesses, the South Side Locals and the names of other gangs I’d never heard of along with tales of killings, robberies and intimidation, I’m hearing it all which makes me even more eager to thank every cop I see and I hope you will as well. I’ll keep you up to date with any tidbits from the courtroom that catch my interest.

In case you haven’t heard there was a huge crowd numberings in the thousands at the state capitol this week, I was there and it wasn’t for basketball this time. I’ve written about the Remington Park horse racing track in the past as well as the Oklahoma City Zoo which is next door. Adjoining these properties is a museum which I just had the opportunity to visit and that is the National Softball Hall of Fame. There is a regulation ball field with a huge seating area outside of the museum but friends it wasn’t near big enough last weekend. The college softball World Series wrapped up here. With the overflow crowd sitting in the farthest section of the outfield, you can imagine that it was almost impossible to find a parking spot anywhere close. I can tell you from personal experience that the sounds of the game and the enthusiastic roar of the crowd could be heard for miles. The playoffs are having a big financial impact on the OKC area as well. I found that motel rooms were scarce and the restaurants were packed.

The exhibits at the museum trace the development of the game and offer profiles of the 366 current members, both male and female. Originally founded in Newark, NJ in 1957, the museum moved to OKC in 1966 and the current building was completed in 1973. Since then there have been 2 major renovations and expansions to accommodate their growing exhibitions. With the racetrack and the zoo nearby this is quite a complex and a lot of fun to visit. There’s nothing like a ball game and the National Softball Hall of Fame is certainly worth a trip.

On the local front, the OK Mozart is gearing up to fill all the hotels in Bartlesville this week as hundreds of music lovers visit our city. With dozens of free shows and good weather predicted this is a good time to sample everything our community has to offer including Woolaroc, the Price Tower (where I hear the Peanuts show is great) as well as the Phillips66 Museum, the Dewey Hotel and the Tom Mix Museum. I could go on and on about how much there is to do right here or just a short drive away so enjoy and have a great summer.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..

The Cathouse Murders in OKC Trial Part 2.

I am still following this trial and there have been some dramatic developments…..

Welcome back.  This is part two of my coverage of the ongoing six count murder trial of Denny Edward Phillips and Russell Lee Hogshooter in Oklahoma City. Referred to as the “Cathouse Murders” because one of the victims Brooke Phillips worked as a prostitute at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Last week’s evidence included graphic photos of the charred remains of the six victims which included two unborn children. Firemen and detectives testified to the severity of the fire which left the remains completely unrecognizable. In all, the state plans on calling about fifty witnesses before they rest their case which means this trial will last awhile.

Comparing this trial to the other high profiles trials I have covered over the past couple of years, it appears that the judicial system is similar in every state. These two men are considered innocent until proven guilty by the twelve jurors. Whenever they are led into the courtroom they are not handcuffed so as not to prejudice the jurors against them. The same procedure was followed at the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston, the American Sniper trial in Texas and the Colorado movie theater shooting trial. In every case the defendants were brought into the courtroom unshackled.

Both Denny Phillips and Russell Hogshooter have two lawyers each defending them. At the state’s table are the two investigating detectives who are testifying and two assistant district attorneys. Assistant D.A. Gayland Geiger is a tall man with a commanding presence and he stuck to the facts as he walked the jury through the gruesome photos of the crime scene.

The other Assistant D.A., Merydith Easter, gave the opening statement and it appeared to me that several jurors were in tears while she was speaking. Looking around I saw several courtroom observers also crying. Easter is a slender woman, about five foot eight or so with shoulder length black hair and the youthful face of a college student. When I first saw her before court started I figured she was an intern, helping the prosecution but I had her all wrong. After looking into her background I discovered she is a graduate of O.U.’s law school and a veteran of several other major murder trials. I also learned that her father is special judge Donald Easter. Merydith Easter is a tough prosecutor and the citizens of Oklahoma can only hope that she will have a long career putting the bad guys where they need to go.

From a spectator’s perspective, Judge Timothy R. Henderson appears to have little trouble keeping his courtroom in order as there have been no outbursts from either the defendants or observers.  Hogshooter has sat quietly through the proceedings with very little expression on his face but Phillips talks frequently with his attorneys, often smiling and seeming to be very involved with his defense.

Now that the excitement of the opening few days of testimony are over, the following days of the trial will be dedicated to a tedious review of the many factual details and the crowd has thinned to just a reporter from the Oklahoman and a few others that’s it. Any fast breaking developments will be posted on my website

Next week I’ll be bringing you some scoop on interesting things to do and places to stay within walking distance of the courtroom. In the meantime I’m back on the road with OU legend Joe Washington as we will be at the Hall of Fame Gun Show in OKC on June 4th and 5th.

Hope to see you there or if not I’ll see ya down the road…..