Wes Hilliard Appointed to Oklahoma Commission for Rehabilitation Services

Smiling man wearing a suit

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall has appointed local banker and former Oklahoma state representative Wes Hilliard to the Oklahoma Commission for Rehabilitation Services. The Commission is the governing board for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).

Hilliard currently serves as president at Landmark Bank in Sulphur and Davis. He served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012.

School for the Deaf principal to serve as next superintendent

Smiling man with a beard

SULPHUR, Okla. – Chris Dvorak from Ardmore will serve as the new superintendent at Oklahoma School for the Deaf.

OSD is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“Chris became the high school principal at Oklahoma School for the Deaf in August 2016 and has brought a progressive influence to the learning environment,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt wrote in an email announcement to staff.

Dvorak is currently a member of the Oklahoma Deaf and Hard of Hearing Transition Coalition.

DRS summer camp for jobseekers with disabilities at Wichita Wildlife Refuge

Young man carries slice of tree trunk

INDIAHOMA, Okla. – Seven young jobseekers who apparently enjoy hard work and tent camping turned out for paid employment at summer camp last week at Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Indianola.

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services offered the innovative on-the-job training June 9 through 14 for Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services clients in the DRS Transition School to Work program.

Bartlesville native named DRS DeafBlind Awareness Week spokesperson

Smiling woman with glasses

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Bartlesville native Beverly Bates once struggled to find a job where skills and work ethic were more important than her vision and hearing losses.

Bates, age 54, was born with profound hearing loss and developed Stargardt macular dystrophy, which causes progressive central vision loss.

She describes herself as DeafBlind.

Today Bates is happy to work 12-hour shifts as the dishwasher in the dietary department at Adams Post Acute Recovery (PARC) Center in Bartlesville.

Go back in time with us with this classic press release - meet Robert "Mitch" Rice

This media release was originally released on Nov. 8, 2007. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.

Cancer survivor is back at work with a little help from his friends

Rice in the driver's seat of the rock moving equipment.

SKIATOOK ─ Robert Rice, known as “Mitch” to friends, was not worried when he went to the hospital in Feb. 2006 for throat surgery to treat a common type of squamous cell cancer.

“Mitch figured he’d be off work a couple of days and get right back to it,” according to Connie Ketcham, Mitch’s sweetheart of16 years, “but that’s when things began to really go wrong.”

Rice had a severe allergic reaction to Heparin, an injectable anticoagulant prescribed before surgery to dissolve an arterial clot. As a result, doctors and nurses at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City worked around the clock to treat him for a series of medical emergencies. In addition to the laryngectomy surgery to remove his voice box, Rice had a heart attack, suspected stroke, kidney failure, impaired circulation and lapsed into a nine-day coma.

Go back in time with us with this classic press release - meet Bud Averyt

This media release was originally released on Nov. 30, 2016. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.

Visual problem can’t stop Chelsea gun repair businessman

Averyt hold a gun part.

CHELSEA, OKLA. – Albert Averyt, known as Bud, couldn’t afford a hunting rifle, so at age 17, he bought and converted a military rifle.

“The first thing I did was cut off the stock, cut off the barrel and crowned it,” Averyt said, smiling a little as he remembered the process. “I had to bend the bolt handle because I added a scope, contoured the receiver, and drilled and tapped holes for the scope mount.”

And so a gunsmith was born thanks to “a little common sense and a lot of reading.”

Thirty-eight years later, Averyt is still doing everything from rebarreling a rifle to building custom guns.

DRS offers free summer training for young jobseekers with disabilities

Woman hugs smiling woman with award

OKLAHOMA CITY – Career planning and on-the-job training will continue for Oklahoma students with disabilities when school ends, thanks to Transition School to Work.

Students from across the state are signing up for innovative job training programs offered free of charge by Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual services.

VR and VS are divisions of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

OSD to graduate eight on May 22

Eight photos of OSD graduating seniors

SULPHUR – Eight seniors from Oklahoma School for the Deaf will graduate in a commencement ceremony set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, in the OSD gym, at 1100 East Oklahoma Street in Sulphur.

The OSD 2019 graduating class valedictorian was Ezra Hart and the salutatorian was Haden Denney.

The class includes Denney of Midwest City, Dylan Dickson of Shawnee, Dylan Evans of Sulphur, Hart of Ada, Braiden Hilton of Keota, Brandyn Mieritz of McAlester, Miracle Pearson of Midwest City and Rosalinda Reyes of Oklahoma City.

Three School for the Blind students will compete in national Braille Challenge®

3 smiling young people

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Three Oklahoma School for the Blind champions will represent the state in the national Braille Challenge® competition in Los Angeles this summer.

The finalists are: Katelynn Zampella, Richelle Zampella, both from Muskogee, and Hunter Kelley from Claremore.

The OSB students were selected based on their scores in the Oklahoma Regional Braille Challenge® held at OSB in March. Braille students in grades one through 12 participated at the regional level.