Learn the latest and greatest gardening techniques from Extension Specialists and Educators trained in horticulture and related fields. The Cleveland County Extension office is currently accepting registration for the 2016 Master Gardener program. Space is limited so apply early. The cost is $100 per person, which supplies each student with a soil test, several detailed educational manuals, as well as research based information provided by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. 

The classes are open to anyone with a genuine interest in horticulture, with a high school degree or equivalent. Classes begin Aug. 5 and are offered every Friday thru Nov. 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 601 E. Robinson, Norman, Oklahoma. Topics covered include the latest gardening trends regarding: botany, vegetable gardening, disease and insect control, trees, shrubs, fruit, fertilizing, lawn care, plus more! For an application, visit our website at http://oces.okstate.edu/cleveland, or contact the Cleveland County office for more information at 405-321-4774 or tracey.payton@okstate.edu. Becoming a Master Gardener is a great opportunity to further your horticulture knowledge and also meet individuals who share your gardening interests.

• L.I.F.T. social planned

L.I.F.T. A social event for widows and widowers sponsored by Primrose Funeral Service will be held on Feb. 25, 2015 at Zio's Restaurant at 1353 24th Ave. NE at 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Greg Gaston from JD McCarty Center will be speaking about the history, purpose and services of the Center. For first timers, lunch is on us. If desired a book or toy for the children at the Center will be appreciated. 

There is a "sewing group" that will be meeting on March 3, at Primrose Event Center from 9 am - Noon.

• National Association of Social Workers Oklahoma Chapter Conference

The Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is holding their 2016 conference March 3-5 at the Embassy Suites Norman. 

 “We are expecting 500 attendees this year.” said Executive Director Mary Jo Kinzie. 

Some of the topics for this year are: Myths, Facts, Current Reality and Opportunities about the Death Penalty, The Cruelty Connection: The Animal Abuse / Family Violence Link and Its Implications for Social Work, Improving Resilience in Native American Women Experiencing Relationship Violence, Understanding the Difference Between Toxic Shame and Healthy Shame in the Recovery Process.

“We are very excited and honored to have Angelo McClain, Ph.D., LICSW, the CEO the National Association of Social Workers with us this year. He will deliver our opening plenary.” said Kinzie.

Continuing Education hours have been approved as follows: 22.25 for social workers, 18 for LPCs, LMFTs, LADCs, and psychologists. For more information or to register go to: http://www.nasw-heartland.org/ or call the NASW-OK office at 405-286-4540. 

• Environmental Groups file fracking Lawsuit against Oklahoma energy companies

Sierra Club and Public Justice have filed a federal lawsuit against three energy companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in Oklahoma, alleging that production waste from fracking and oil production have contributed to an alarming increase in earthquake activity in the state. The suit comes in the wake of a 5.1 magnitude earthquake on Saturday, which was the third strongest ever recorded in the state. The suit, filed against New Dominion, Chesapeake Operating and Devon Energy Production Company, demands the companies, as a first step, “reduce, immediately and substantially, the amounts of production waste they are injecting into the ground.”

In 2014, seismologists reported more than 5,000 earthquakes in Oklahoma. In 2015, the state experienced 907 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater. “The earthquakes are continuing in 2016.” the suit filed today states, noting that “Oklahoma City residents were awakened on January 1 with a 4.1 magnitude earthquake. Six days later, 4.3 and 4.8 magnitude earthquakes occurred back-to-back. [The state] has had 131 earthquakes from January 1 through 16, 2016, ranging from 2.01 to 4.8.” On Saturday morning, the state experienced a 5.1 magnitude quake, the third-largest recorded in Oklahoma. 

“The science laid out in our case is clear,” said Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice. “Oklahoma may be on the verge of experiencing a strong and potentially catastrophic earthquake. All evidence points to alarming seismic activity in and around fracking operations, and that activity is becoming more frequent and more severe. This lawsuit, which we filed after the three companies named in our suit refused to take steps of their own, is an action brought by residents of Oklahoma in an attempt to protect their property, their communities and their lives.”

Continued injection of production waste, the groups said in their complaint, “may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment.” The complaint goes on to note that, “Overlaying the locations of Defendants’ wells onto the places where earthquakes above magnitude 3.5 have been felt shows that earthquakes are occurring in the vicinity of [the companies’] wells and along faults that are close to the wells.”

“The danger associated with fracking and its related processes has never been more clear than here in Oklahoma,” said Johnson Bridgwater, Director of Sierra Club’s Oklahoma chapter. “Oklahomans, just as all Americans do, deserve the right to live in peace and comfort – not to live in fear of man-made earthquakes. It is our hope that these three companies will recognize the immediate danger they are putting communities in, and put our health and our environment ahead of its profits.”

In addition to requesting a substantial reduction in production waste, the suit seeks an order requiring the companies to reinforce vulnerable structures, which could be impacted by large magnitude earthquakes. It also asks the court to require the establishment of an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center.

"The seismic activity of this past weekend is quickly becoming the new normal in Oklahoma,” said Robin L. Greenwald, head of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Environmental, Toxic Tort, and Consumer Protection litigation unit. “If the fracking industry doesn¹t change its ways, the next earthquake could be catastrophic. This lawsuit seeks to beat back immediately the amount of production waste that fracking creates, to reduce the deep well injection of that waste and, most important, to limit the amount of damage this process is causing across the Sooner State."

In addition to counsel from Public Justice and Wetiz & Luxenberg, PC, Sierra Club is also represented by Scott Poynter of Poynter Law Group and local counsel William B. Federman.


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