Associated Press

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Oklahoma prison officials say an inmate who walked away from a prison in eastern Oklahoma four months ago has been apprehended in Tulsa.

The state Department of Corrections says 29-year-old Troy Peiffer was captured Monday night. Officials say Peiffer was incarcerated at the Jim E. Hamilton Correctional Center in Le Flore County when he walked away on Dec. 16.

Peiffer had been living homeless in the Tulsa area when a nonprofit organization reported that a man matching his description had been using its services under an assumed name.

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Ongoing drought and wildfires have cattle ranchers in at least five Southwestern U.S. states scrambling for hay or pastureland, while others are selling off some of their herds.

Extreme drought conditions have contributed to wildfires in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, delaying the growth of or destroying grass and wheat used to feed cattle in spring.

Rancher Darrel Shepherd of Custer, Oklahoma, says finding hay in northwest Oklahoma is nearly impossible and two wildfires that burned about 545 square miles have destroyed pastures.

State of Oklahoma

 

Republican legislative leaders have reached an agreement on a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year that increases overall spending by more than 10 percent and gives virtually all state agencies a boost in funding.

The $7.6 million general appropriations bill is set to be considered in the full Senate on Wednesday and the House later this week.

It includes nearly $500 million in new spending for public schools, an increase of nearly 20 percent for education that mostly funded teacher pay hikes and was the subject of statewide teacher walkouts.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Ongoing drought and wildfires have cattle ranchers in at least five Southwestern U.S. states scrambling for hay or pastureland, while others are selling off some of their herds.

Extreme and exceptional drought conditions have contributed to wildfires in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, delaying the growth of or destroying grass and wheat used to feed cattle in spring.

Kansas Department of Corrections

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Suspects in the 1999 shooting deaths of an Oklahoma couple and the abduction of their 16-year-old daughter and her friend "bragged" about photographing the girls while they were bound, according to a court affidavit that outlines accusations against the only suspect who's still alive.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Supporters of a proposed Oklahoma City charter school that would serve mostly Native American students plan to take their application to the state after a second rejection by a public school district.

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Dry weather will prolong the wildfire threat through summer in the southwestern United States, even though weekend showers temporarily relieved drought conditions in parts of the area, forecasters said Monday.

The drought is rooted in a dry spell that began in October and is considered "extreme" from southern California to central Kansas. Conditions are even worse in the Four Corners region and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, warranting their description as "exceptional."

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A group planning a signature drive to let voters decide whether to increase the oil and gas production tax to fund a $4,000 pay raise for Oklahoma teachers is abandoning their effort.

The group Restore Oklahoma Now announced on its website Monday that it was withdrawing its initiative petition. Led by several longtime oil and gas industry leaders, the group was established before the Legislature agreed earlier this year to a pay raise for teachers averaging about $6,100.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Shutting down the Utah Jazz offense is proving easier said than done for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

For a second straight game, a late second-quarter surge by Utah carried over into the second half and it allowed the Jazz to pull away for a 113-96 victory Monday night. The Jazz used a 20-3 run spanning the end of the second quarter and the start of the third to break open the game.

Utah takes a 3-1 series lead back to Oklahoma City. Game 5 in the best-of-seven playoff is Wednesday night.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's escalating dispute with China over trade and technology is threatening jobs and profits in working-class communities where his "America First" agenda hit home.

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VINITA, Okla. (AP) — Authorities in Oklahoma say a 66-year-old man has been charged with the 1999 deaths of a couple and the abduction of two then-teenage girls who remain missing.

District Attorney Matt Ballard said Monday that Ronnie Dean Busick is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of first-degree arson.

Authorities say Danny and Kathy Freeman of Craig County were shot to death in their mobile home on Dec. 30, 1999. The home was set on fire to cover up the slayings.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans overwhelmingly believe teachers don't make enough money, and half say they'd support paying higher taxes to give educators a raise.

The findings of the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research come amid recent teacher strikes and other protests over low pay, tough classroom conditions and the amount of money allocated to public schools in several Republican-led states.

OFS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Forestry Services says widespread rainfall that soaked portions of western Oklahoma has helped firefighters contain two major wildfires that have charred about 549 square miles.

Spokeswoman Jeannette Dreadfulwater said Sunday that the 34 Complex fire in Woodward County is about 85 percent contained. She says the fire has charred 98 square miles in Woodward and Harper counties since it started on April 12.

Officials say the Rhea Fire in Dewey County was almost 50 percent contained on Sunday after burning about 451 square miles.

C-SPAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt met in his office last year with a veteran Washington lobbyist tied to the bargain-priced condo where Pruitt was living.

Both Pruitt and lobbyist Steven Hart had previously denied Hart had conducted any recent business with EPA.

A spokesman for Hart confirmed Saturday that the lobbyist met with Pruitt at EPA headquarters in July 2017 to discuss efforts to preserve the Chesapeake Bay.

KWGS News

A former Omaha police officer charged with misdemeanor assault for his role in the stun gun-related death of a mentally ill Oklahoma man last year will stand trial next year.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that 27-year-old Ryan McClarty will stand trial in January for a count of third-degree assault in the June confrontation at an Omaha convenience store with 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels. Bearheels was pronounced dead after the incident.

OFS

Rainfall is aiding firefighters' efforts to contain two major wildfires in Oklahoma that have charred 550 square miles.

Forestry officials reported progress Saturday on the two largest wildfires burning in western Oklahoma as weather forecasts estimated up to 1 inch of rain could fall in the area.

Officials said the Rhea Fire in Dewey County was nearly 30 percent contained Saturday. The blaze has charred about 452 square miles. The 34 Complex fire in Woodward County is nearly 70 percent contained and has burned 97 square miles.

Ricky Rubio waited seven years for a night like this.

Rubio, who never reached the playoffs in his first six seasons with Minnesota, had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Utah's first playoff triple-double in 17 years to help lead the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

"We were down by 10 ... and I just changed my mentality, trying to be more aggressive and make some shots," Rubio said. "We made a run and it helps a lot when you're making shots and it felt great."

OU

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by five this week to 1,013.

At this time a year ago there were 857 active rigs.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 820 rigs drilled for oil this week and 192 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas added eight rigs while Louisiana and New Mexico each added one.

Colorado and North Dakota each declined by two rigs while Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania dropped one apiece.

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A recent report shows Oklahoma was among four states nationwide to generate at least 30 percent of the electricity produced inside state borders last year.

The industry report published by the American Wind Energy Association shows that Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota achieved that mark for 2017.

The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma also ranked second in the country behind Texas for its nearly 7,500 megawatts electricity generating capacity provided through wind farms.

Oklahoma Forestry Service

Authorities are investigating the possibility of arson in connection with one of two large wildfires burning in Oklahoma, a blaze that's resulted in the death of one person.

Dewey County Sheriff Clay Sander said Friday that one person has been questioned, but not arrested, about a fire that began July 12 near Vici, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) northwest of Oklahoma City.

That fire merged with a fire that began near Leedey and has burned about 452 square miles (1,171 sq. kilometers).

State of Oklahoma-File Photo

 

Scott Pruitt's penchant for travel and concerns about security were notable even before he became head of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to newly obtained records that show that as Oklahoma's attorney general he frequently traveled out-of-state for appearances before conservative groups and used an office investigator as a driver.

As Oklahoma's top prosecutor from 2011 to 2016, Pruitt was raising his profile nationally as a conservative in favor of rolling back regulation and federal authority.

OFS

   

Firefighters are hoping higher humidity and milder winds will help them fight wildfires in Oklahoma.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Todd Schroeder said Thursday that a fire near Leedey, about 110 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, that has burned about 440 square miles is about 15 percent contained.

A 106-square-mile blaze near Woodward, about 40 miles north of Leedey, is about 45 percent contained.

 

 

KWGS File Photo

 

A jury has been picked to hear the murder case involving the younger of two brothers accused of fatally stabbing their parents and three siblings inside their Oklahoma home.

Twelve jurors and two alternates were seated Thursday for the trial of 19-year-old Michael Bever.

Bever is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault and battery with intent to kill for his role in the July 2015 stabbings.

Opening statements are scheduled Friday in Tulsa district court.

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The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says law enforcement officers in Tishomingo fatally shot a man who was using his vehicle to ram a patrol car.

The OSBI says two Tishomingo officers and a Johnston County deputy were responding to a family violence call Tuesday night when 39-year-old Justin Monjay rammed the patrol car.

The agency says Monjay continued to push the car backward and the two officers and the deputy opened fire. Monjay was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Oklahoma County

 

An Oklahoma man has been found not guilty by reason of insanity in the fatal stabbing of his father, who served as the state's labor commissioner at the time of his death.

Authorities say Christian Costello fatally stabbed his father, Mark Costello, in August 2015 at an Oklahoma City Braums.  On Wednesday, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott found Costello not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered that Costello be sent to the state hospital for treatment.

OFS

 

Frazzled residents in a part of rural northwestern Oklahoma paralyzed by days of wind-whipped wildfires expressed fear a blaze could overrun their home Wednesday, as firefighters battling the deadly fires there and in Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico found some relief at the promise of easing of dangerous weather conditions.

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A key budget negotiator in the Oklahoma House says lawmakers are nearing a final agreement on a spending plan and are hoping to adjourn this year's legislative session three weeks early.

C-SPAN

 

The Republican chairman of a Senate oversight committee is pressing the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to provide details about his use of multiple government email addresses.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso issued a letter asking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to disclose all his email addresses and affirm that all were being searched in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Drummond Law Firm

 

A Tulsa attorney is challenging the candidacy of Republican Attorney General Mike Hunter, claiming Hunter is not eligible to seek the office because he purchased a home and lived in Virginia within the last ten years.

Republican attorney general candidate Gentner Drummond filed the contest of candidacy paperwork on Tuesday, along with evidence showing Hunter and his wife bought a home in Virginia and lived there while Hunter worked in Washington, D.C.

OFS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Forecasters warned of dangerous, life-threatening wildfire conditions in parts of the Southwest and Southern Plains on Tuesday, as a forestry official warned firefighters battling a terrifying deadly blaze in Oklahoma that it would be a "historically critical day."

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