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The governors of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico are seeking temporary suspension of grazing restrictions for farmers and ranchers because of wildfires.

The fires have burned more than 2,300 square miles in the four states, forcing farmers and ranchers to move their livestock.

The letter from the governors to acting Secretary of Agriculture Mike Young asks that the restrictions in the Conservation Reserve Program be lifted to provide more land for grazing.

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At least four people have been arrested after a large fight broke out inside an Oklahoma shopping mall.

Oklahoma City police spokesman Sgt. Houston Dilbeck says the agency received a call late Friday about a disturbance inside the food court at Penn Square Mall.

He says some patrons heard what they thought sounded like gunshots and called police. Dilbeck says they possibly heard the sound of a stun gun going off and called authorities, although it's unclear whether the device was fired at all.

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Chesapeake Energy Corp. has withdrawn its claim for more than $455 million against the estate of late former CEO Aubrey McClendon.

It's part of a settlement of a 2015 lawsuit in which the company alleged McClendon took trade secrets when he left Chesapeake and used the information for his new company.

An Oklahoma City probate judge approved the settlement Thursday.

Oklahoma Forestry Service

 Forestry officials say a dozen firefighters from Kentucky are in Oklahoma to help battle wildfires there.

WKYT-TV reports that while Kentucky is experiencing a below average number of fires so far, some of its firefighters are staying busy.

Chad Brothers, a firefighter from Marion, says his team brought two bulldozers and three engines to help with the Selman fire in Woodward, Oklahoma. Wildfires there have destroyed nearly 50,000 acres.

Brothers and his team arrived in Oklahoma on Friday morning. They're expecting to stay for a couple of weeks.

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A jury has convicted a suburban Tulsa woman in the fatal shooting of her ex-husband and recommended that she spend the rest of her life in prison.

The Tulsa World reports that jurors spent about two hours deliberating Friday before finding 70-year-old Judith Nix guilty of shooting her ex-husband, Kenneth Nix.

Attorneys for Judith Nix claimed their client suffered from battered woman syndrome and shot her ex-husband in self-defense after years of abuse.

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The father of an Oklahoma boy who authorities say was sexually assaulted by members of a high school wrestling team has sued the school district. The Oklahoman reports that the father alleges that his 12-year-old son sustained emotional distress and physical harm as a result of the attacked. He says lax supervision led to his son being attacked three times during a school trip.

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 U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says damage from a wildfire that scorched hundreds of square miles in northwestern Oklahoma is "unprecedented."

Oklahoma's senior U.S. senator and fellow U.S. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma spoke to farmers and ranchers in Woodward Friday after visiting some of the fire-damaged areas.

Inhofe says he flew over portions of the region to get an idea of the enormity of damage along the Oklahoma-Kansas border. Inhofe says he's visited other disaster areas but has never seen anything like the wildfire damage in northwestern Oklahoma.

The McCarville Report

 

Longtime Oklahoma political journalist, broadcaster and author Mike McCarville has died.

McCarville's daughter, Shelli Aliff, says McCarville died Wednesday morning after suffering complications from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 76.

McCarville's career included work for various Oklahoma newspapers and broadcast stations, including serving as assistant news director of KWTV television and as program director, reporter and talk show host on KTOK radio.

Wikipedia

 

A plan approved overwhelmingly in the House to raise Oklahoma teacher pay by $6,000 over the next three years appears to be facing a stiffer challenge in the state Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said Thursday without a way to pay for the raise, the bill amounts to giving teachers "false hope."

The House voted 92-7 this week for the bill that calls for a $1,000 pay raise for teachers next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year. Each $1,000 pay raise costs about $53 million.

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An Oklahoma custom-home builder has been indicted after accusations of involvement in an organized theft ring.

The Oklahoman reports that 43-year-old Dennis Lee is among six defendants charged by a federal grand jury in Oklahoma City. Lee owns Richardson Homes LLC.

An indictment filed Feb. 22 but made public Wednesday alleges that the individuals involved would transport stolen vehicles and riding lawn mowers in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Grand jurors allege the stolen property was stored at Lee's business.

Okmulgee Police

 

Authorities are investigating after an Okmulgee police officer shot and wounded a woman who was a passenger in a car involved in a high-speed chase.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says the pursuit began Wednesday after officers tried to make an "undercover buy" of items from a man in Okmulgee. The OSBI says the man fled before officers could complete the purchase, and police began pursuing him.

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 Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is making some key staff changes in his office following the departure of his predecessor Scott Pruitt to take over as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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The commissioner of Oklahoma's Department of Public Safety is warning of "crippling" effects if lawmakers move ahead with plans to slash funding, including the closure of two dozen driver's license stations and four weeks of furloughs for employees.

Commissioner Michael Thompson released a list Wednesday of some of the cuts his agency would be forced to make if his budget shrank by 15 percent. It includes the elimination of the Highway Patrol's motorcycle division.

Michael Willmus-Oklahoma Watch

 

 The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is canceling contracts to house state inmates at county jails in a cost-saving move.

Director Joe Allbaugh said Wednesday the agency is looking for ways to close a projected $3 million budget hole through June 30, the end of the fiscal year. It's part of a revenue shortfall of $34.6 million due to lagging state revenues.

The county jails charged $32 per day to house the inmates. The move should save about $775,000 through the end of the year.

Stillwater Police

 

  Police say two suspects have been arrested in a shooting near Stillwater that killed one man and wounded two women.

Lt. Dale Higgins says both men were arrested Tuesday, one in Stillwater and one in Raton, New Mexico, on first-degree murder warrants.

Online court records do not show that either man has been formally charged.

Police say the two are suspected in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Christian Thomas Peck, who died Sunday afternoon following the shooting in Payne County, south of Stillwater. Two women were wounded in the shooting.

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  A Tulsa attorney specializing in drunken-driving cases is criticizing legislation that would criminalize refusing to take a breath test to determine if someone is intoxicated.

The Tulsa World reports attorney Bruce Edge announced his opposition Tuesday and discussed filing a lawsuit to challenge a new set of administrative rules dealing with DUI arrests.

State Impact-Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller says he's cautiously optimistic after overall collections to the state treasury last month were slightly higher than those from the same month last year.

Miller released figures Tuesday showing it's the second straight month of revenue growth following 20 months of contraction.

Gross receipts to the state treasury in February totaled $759.5 million, which is about $1 million more than February of 2016. Miller also noted that February saw the first increase in sales tax collections since March 2016.

Shawnee Tribe

 

Gov. Mary Fallin is giving her approval to a federal agency's decision that paves the way for the Shawnee Tribe to build a $25 million casino near Guymon in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Fallin announced Tuesday that she agrees with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision to place a tract of land 4 miles southwest of Guymon into trust for the Oklahoma-based tribe, which has no jurisdictional land of its own.

Oklahoma Forestry Service

Numerous wildfires are burning in Oklahoma and evacuations have been ordered in the state's northwest.

There is another Red Flag Fire Warning for Wednesday. The warning includes the Tulsa area.

Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says up to 200 people had to leave their homes late Monday afternoon in Woodward County and Beaver County officials told residents of Gate, a town of about 90 people, to leave their homes.

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain says two people have died from the fires.

RSU-TV

 

  

 The University of Oklahoma is considering another round of voluntary early retirement offers to faculty and staff as a cost-saving move amid further expected budget cuts.

An agenda item for Wednesday's OU Board of Regents meeting includes a recommendation from President David Boren that members approve the Special Voluntary Retirement Incentive.

If approved, university officials hope to save an estimated $9.4 million in annual budget costs of the Norman campus.

State of Oklahoma-File Photo

 

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the residency of newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick.

The state's highest court ruled Tuesday that the lawsuit was not timely filed and that two southeastern Oklahoma residents who filed it did not have legal standing to challenge Wyrick's residency.

Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Wyrick to a vacancy on the court from southeastern Oklahoma last month. The lawsuit alleged Wyrick does not live in the judicial district where he claims to reside and is not qualified to serve in the seat.

   

Proposed Oklahoma legislation heading to the Senate would exempt property owners from civil action if they destroy drones not regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Tulsa World reports the proposed bill, authored by Republican Sen. Ralph Shortey, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote Feb. 21.

 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating a train derailment in southwestern Oklahoma.

OHP Capt. Paul Timmons says at least three Stillwater Central Railroad cars were reported off the tracks northeast of Cement in Grady County, Monday afternoon, but no injuries are reported.

Timmons said it wasn't clear what caused the train to derail and company officials did not immediately return to phone calls and an email for comment.

The railroad is owned by Pittsburg, Kansas-based Watco Companies, LLC.

Oklahoma Forestry Service

 

The National Weather Service has Tulsa under another RED FLAG FIRE WARNING today as numerous wildfires are burning in Oklahoma and evacuations have been ordered in the state's northwest.

Woodward County Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer says up to 200 people had to leave their homes late Monday afternoon in Woodward County and Beaver County officials told residents of Gate, a town of about 90 people, to leave their homes. Evacuations were also ordered near Laverne and Buffalo in Harper County.

OHP

 

A single-vehicle collision in Pittsburg County has taken the life of a 24-year-old Eufaula woman.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says Nicole Blair was killed in Sunday's early morning crash west of McAlester.

Troopers say the collision occurred at 2:51 a.m. along U.S. Highway 270. A vehicle driven by Blair was westbound when it left the roadway and struck a tree. The victim died at the scene and her body was pinned in the wreckage for about two hours before being freed by area firefighters.

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A report of a suspicious pickup truck parked on a New Jersey street led to the discovery of 30 pounds of marijuana that authorities say was hidden in a secret compartment installed in the vehicle.

Bergen County prosecutors say the truck found Thursday in Ridgefield didn't have any license plates attached to it and was registered in Oklahoma. It wasn't immediately known how long the truck may have been in the area.

State of Oklahoma

 Oklahoma's top auditor says legislation that would allow county officials select who audits them and what type of audit is conducted could lead to more public corruption.

 

The Oklahoman reports the measure would allow county officials choose whether the state auditor or an independent certified public accountant does their audits and as well as the type of audit. The measure is similar to the system for Oklahoma cities and school districts, which hire independent auditors.

Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

A lawmaker's proposal to relocate a state-run nursing home for veterans in rural southeastern Oklahoma that is under investigation following the death of a veteran is raising concern among residents over the economic impact of the move.

Legislation by Republican Sen. Frank Simpson of Ardmore would close the Oklahoma Veterans Center at Talihina and relocate it to a new facility in a larger city.

Stillwater Police

Three people have been wounded during a shooting inside a residence in Stillwater.

Stillwater Police Department Capt. Kyle Gibbs says in a statement that the shooting occurred around 10 p.m. Saturday. Gibbs says a distraught caller told authorities that a body had been found at the residence and an ambulance was needed.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

An Oklahoma lawmaker who once likened Islam to a cancer has handed out a form asking Muslims to answer questions that include, "Do you beat your wife?"

Republican state Rep. John Bennett's office distributed the questionnaire this past week as the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations organized its annual Muslim Day at the Capitol. Bennett told Muslims who wanted to see him at the Capitol to fill out the form.

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