It's an honest-to-goodness Senior Spelling Bee for the 60-and-up crowd. Watchers are welcome. It starts at 9 ayem Friday in the Sidewalk Cafe at SOSU, continues until two finalists are left, and one puts foot in mouth.
Doesn't cost a thing to take part, or to just sit and watch. It can get pretty lively.
Sponsor is the SODA Area Agency on Aging. The top two spellers may come, unfortunately, when these things could fade from the scene, thanks to handy-dandy Spell-Check programs on computers. Folks in Washington say that over 75 percent of Americans now have access to a computer, either at work or at home.
But I digress. If you'd like to compete, give Sharia Nichols a call at 920-1388. Also, I'm sure a ringle-ding would help them decide how many chairs to set up even if you're just interested in observing.
THERE WAS MUCH coffee cup conversation about Sunday's page-one layout on huge Choctaw Nation construction plans that include an all-new casino south of Durant.
Nearly $50 million worth of bricks, roads and, yes, parking lots, were outlined. Construction gears up just as Big Lots and Cardinal Glass finish their jobs.
To pinpoint it for you, the new casino will be just south of the Choctaw Inn motel, which will be doubled in size to 120 rooms.
Right now, they're tearing up much of the truck parking lot south of the Texaco Travel Plaze to make room for the first of a string of new buildings: a big wellness center. Wellness center definition: Go there to work out, and stay healthy.
The eye-opener to us is the size of an indoor arena that could be used for everything from concerts to big basketball tournaments. The arena will be substantially larger than the "old" casino, and will go with a separate outdoor arena north of Choctaw Road, aimed mostly at horse events.
THE ASTOUNDING part is that the development is a pay-as-you-go affair, with a bundle more being spent at other Choctaw sites including Idabel, McAlester, and Pocola (across the line from Fort Smith, Ark.)
Assistant Chief Mike Bailey recently spoke of a budget of $500 million a year. The bulk comes, of course, from the casinos and other tribal businesses.
Matter of fact, Bailey noted that the Choctaw Nation is 80 percent self-sufficient, getting around 17 percent federal cash. Just a few years ago, it was the other way around. The federal total hasn't dropped.
Unlike some other tribes that hire (and pay) outsiders to run the operation, it has always been a do-it-yourself thing here.
The money? Goes to needs of native Choctaws, whether one of the current 4,000 college scholarships, clusters of modest homes for the elderly, summer jobs for the younger set, full-blown medical care - you name it.
People helping themselves...