Year in review news: 2017’s top stories

This has been a year of news in Yukon and across the county. The following is a look back at some of the biggest stories from 2017 in Canadian County:

 

TEACHER SEX SCANDAL

Hunter Day, a 22-year-old married first-year Yukon teacher was arrested Nov. 15 after she allegedly set up a meeting with one of her 16-year-old chemistry students. The pair had allegedly begun a “friends with benefits” relationship about a month earlier, authorities say

Day and her husband, Tyler Day, who was a member of the Yukon coaching staff, resigned after her arrest on second-degree rape and solicitation of a minor for sex allegations. She is free on bond while awaiting a Feb. 26 hearing.

Meanwhile, the family of the victim has filed a lawsuit against the Yukon Progress and its staff writer, editor and publisher after the newspaper published a photograph and the name of the victim in multiple news stories.

 

CITY FINANCES

The City of Yukon filed a lawsuit in November against two former auditing firms and the former city manager accusing them of negligence and fraud in connection with financial issues the city faced in fiscal year 2016.

The auditing firms — R.S. Meacham CPAs and Advisors and FSW&B CPAs — are accused of providing advice and inaccurate audits that nearly bankrupted the city of Yukon in 2016 and led to the resignation of City Manager Grayson Bottom.

Bottom is accused of negligence, bid-rigging and fraud, and is being countersued in federal court. Bottom has filed his own lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and defamation of character.

The cases are pending.

Meanwhile, Yukon’s finances continue to improve. The city had seen at least seven months of increased revenue through sales tax receipts.

By November, after having dipped to almost $3,000 remaining in its reserve funds by the end of FY-2016, the fund had jumped to almost $3 million.

 

MOLLY SPENCER’S FARM

After decades of being known as the Kirkpatrick Family Farm, one of the city’s historic pieces of property received a new name in 2017 — Molly Spencer’s Farm. The farm now is named after one of Yukon’s founders and the original property owner,

The announcement came in November from Spencer’s great-great grandson Christian Keesee, who is chairman of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, which owns the land.

 

HEART TRANSPLANT

Yukon teenager Ethan Ellis received the gift of life for Christmas. Ethan, who was suffering from congestive heart failure, received a heart transplant on Dec. 21 at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Ethan was born with a congenital heart defect and had the first of six open-heart surgeries when he was four months old.

Ethan’s mother said this week that her son is doing remarkably well, and already is going through physical therapy.

Ethan is a junior at Mustang High School.

 

WATER RATES

Water rates in Yukon are based on costs charged by the city of Oklahoma City. Yukon customers received the second of two rate hikes in March. Officials have said no additional hikes are expected until at least 2019.

Many residents, however, questioned why their water bills were higher than normal.

City Manager Jim Crosby has said the bills are normal, and the city has previously sent crews to recheck meters to make sure they were properly read.

 

CHILDREN’S JUSTICE CENTER

Bill Alexander was fired in October as the co-director of the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center. Alexander had been suspended since June after a former employee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission citing discrimination.

Alexander’s firing came after an internal investigation that cost the county more than $30,000. The report was not released to the public, as officials claimed it was a personnel record and was not subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

The report from the EEOC also has not been released.

Alexander has said he is looking at his options since his termination with the county.

 

MACKENZIE ASHER

Eleven-year-old Mackenzie Asher lost her battle with cancer in December. She had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in 2016 and had undergone a series of stem-cell treatments.

Mackenzie’s death came weeks after meeting her favorite Youtube star during a Make-A-Wish trip to Los Angeles. Her death was mentioned by University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield during the Heisman presentation. The Sooners have dedicated the rest of the season to Mackenzie’s memory.

 

BOND ISSUE

Yukon school district voters approved a $44 million bond issue in September to help fund “unsexy” projects throughout the district.

The projects range from buying new textbooks, upgraded software and electronics to the purchase of new desks and carpet. These are things that typically come from the district’s maintenance and operations budget.

Officials have said that by using bond funds to pay for those items, additional general fund monies are available for other projects, including giving teacher pay raises.

The district does plan to build a new elementary school to help with overcrowding. The new school will be built near Mustang and Britton roads.

The property for the project was donated to the school district by Rausch Coleman Homes.

 

DATA LEAK

An email scam led to the leak of personal data of about 1,400 employees of the Yukon School District.

The leak occurred in March when an employee opened an email that appeared to be from the district. The email sought W2 information for all employees. The case remains under investigation.

 

STATE HIGHWAY 4

Plans are moving forward for the renovation of State Highway 4. Officials from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation have said construction on the multiple-phased project should begin within the next few years and will involve relocating several bridges as well as widening the roadway.

However, that isn’t quickly enough for many people, who call the road one of the most dangerous roads in Canadian County after multiple car accidents have resulted in tragic outcomes.

Efforts to place signal lights at SH-4 and Britton Road have yet to bring results as state officials say the roadway is in the Oklahoma City limits and requires action by the Oklahoma City City Council.

The family of a Yukon High School senior who died in 2016 has sued the city of Oklahoma City in an effort to get signal lights in the area.

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