McAlester-area homes are eligible to receive new smoke alarms and have them installed – for free – through a program recently revived by the McAlester Fire Department. Through a partnership with Oklahoma ABLE Tech, Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation, and Fire Protection Publications, t…
More help is needed for this year’s Community Christmas Dinner. Read more
Testimony in the trial against National Oilwell Varco and its involvement in the January 2018 well fire near Quinton that killed five men continued Friday as attorneys for two of the men killed continued to present evidence that NOV was primarily responsible for the incident.
True love is sweet, but “till death do us part” is easier said than survived. Such is the case of a beautiful girl and her young lieutenant in post-Civil War America. Vivia Thomas was born into Boston wealth in 1840. She was expected to find a husband by attending the various Boston society balls.
The event will begin with hors d'oeuvres and music at 6:30, followed by supper seating in the museum at 7:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day. Proceeds benefit the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma.
Tahlequah city officials say there's no conflict of interest with three family members having a role in local government.
The world is larger than Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and local students are expanding their inspection of it by participating in the National Geographic GeoBee.
Jurors heard the last two witnesses testimony in Cherokee County District Court Thursday morning in a case against a man accused of first-degree murder.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, representatives of federal and local agencies and volunteers will hit the streets, looking for homeless people so they can be included in the nationwide Point-in-Time count.
Democrat Amy McGrath, a 44-year-old retired Marine combat pilot, has officially filed her candidate papers to challenge Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November's election.
CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. — Nolan LaValley, blind since birth, does not let his disability keep him from bowling and enjoying a sport he has learned from his high school coach and teammates.
OLIVE HILL, Ky. -- It had the trappings of a scene from The Natural. A hand-crafted bat made from scratch for Tim Johnson’s son J.T.’s summer season in the North Carolina North State League, showcase for college baseball players with big league dreams.
It wasn’t “Wonderboy” made for Roy Hobbs from a tree split by lightning. But it lickety-split earned the reputation of whim-wham lumber from J.T.’s Piedmont Whitetails’ teammates, including the winner of the league’s 2019 home run derby.
From there, word of mouth spread so fast that Tim Johnson’s woodworking hobby moved to the early stage of a budding bat production company, making customized and model bats for baseball and softball players of all ages.
Located in the northeast Kentucky hamlet of Olive Hill, the informally named Big Johnson Bat Company includes marketing maven Madison, Johnson’s niece and a softball player at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. She sells Johnson bats like they were hotcakes cooked in pork fat.
“I had to tell her to quit,” said the 54-year-old Johnson. “I couldn’t make them as fast as she sold them.”
With the assistance of his brother Shawn, Johnson fastidiously lathes blank cylindrical billets of ash or maple into sanded, customized bats, each taking three to four hours. Duplicates of non-customized bats take 20 minutes on a duplicator, a machine designed to ensure the legs on a chair are identical.
Customized bats are made to a hitter’s preferred length, weight and sweet spot. A wood-burning pen brands the barrel, then Johnson hand rubs each bat with seven or eight coasts of lacquer, a task performed in the bathroom of the family home because there’s too much humidity and dust in his workshop.
Johnson’s “plant” is his 576-square-foot garage, jammed with various machines, prototypes, raw wood, tool chests and a refrigerator for drinks in one corner. To cross the sawdust blanketed workspace, you carefully set your foot with each step.
Making bats is Johnson’s night job. During the day he’s an administrator for three area vocational schools, meaning he starts his bat-making around 4 p.m. He normally turns out two customized bats before calling it a night, though he’s made as many as five hand-turned bats in one very long night, an experience he doesn’t plan to repeat.
Johnson works on and off during the week, unless “Madison goes back to a selling rampage, then it’ll be every night.”
The Johnson customized bat sells for $125. Madison-designed bats for training, with an enlarged sweet spot, go for $75. One-handed bats cost $50. Johnson also makes long, lightweight fungo bats for hitting practice balls to fielders.
The Johnson brothers learned wood working at a young age, assisting their father, who owned a used furniture store that included refinished antiques. They also played baseball in high school and college before taking up successful high school coaching careers. That background has been helpful in bat production, said Tim Johnson.
“I know what a bat needs to feel like,” he said, “if it needs to be balanced or end-loaded, how thick or thin a handle needs to be, if you need a cupped end, a smaller taper on the barrel or a longer barrel, and what type of wood has the qualities that would be most productive with each particular swing.”
Johnson never thought his bat hobby would go this far. Yet he plans to retire from his school administrator’s position sometime next year, then decide whether to make bats for a living -- with the help of his brother Shawn, son J.T. and niece Madison.
They already have a tee-shirt slogan, “Swinging hard wood.” Now all they need is a natural like Roy Hobbs to popularize the power of the Johnson bat.
Zach Klemme, sports writer for the Ashland, Ky., Daily Independent provided details for this story.
TV trumps Twitter. At least this election cycle.
Richard Malone, the embattled bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, has resigned, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
ENID, Okla. – Air Force officials Friday identified the two airmen killed in a crash landing of a trainer jet at Vance Air Force Base as student pilot Lt. Travis Wilkie, 23, and instructor Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade, 47.
Before dying of a methamphetamine overdose early on Aug. 1, 2017, La Salle County, Texas, prisoner James Dean Davis, aka “Country,” moaned and yelled for most of the night. Sweat dripped off him in a chilly holding cell, as vomit ran red, like Kool-Aid, on the floor.
ENID, Okla. –Two jet fighter planes used for pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in northern Oklahoma crashed Thursday morning, causing the death of two airmen, base officials announced.
DUNCAN, Okla. – The police clock read 9:55 a.m. Monday when a 911 caller reported an unidentified man and woman, walking calmly from the money center in Walmart to enter their parked car, suddenly were shot to death through the windshield.
“Let’s respect each other versus tearing each other up.”
CNN’s media correspondent Brian Stelter recently unleashed his frustration when a 10-year-old tweet set off a firestorm.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Lt. Clyde Doty kept telling the man clinging for his life in river rapids 100 yards from the brink of the American Falls the same thing over and over: “We got you, we got you.”
The immediate aftermath of what some political pundits view as puzzling election results in Kentucky on Tuesday is hardly time enough to analyze accurately what happened and why. But we can draw some broad conclusions.
It’s promising to be a banner year for the business of media, thanks to the 2020 elections just under a year away.
OKLAHOMA CITY – President Trump's critics won’t get their kicks on Route 66 under an Oklahoma legislator’s proposal to rename a small stretch of the iconic roadway after the president.
This Week's Circulars
Martha “Pat” Linell Burger, 10 a.m., First Baptist Church of Wilburton, Jones-Harkins Funeral Home.
Laura Nell Cook passed away peacefully on Thursday, January 9, 2020, in her home surrounded by loved ones. A memorial service for Laura will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 20, at Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church. She was born on May 4, 1929, in Reams, to Jim and Hollie Cook. When…
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