Associated Press

Oklahoma Senate

 

A newly elected state senator from Tulsa has been sworn into office, boosting the Democrats' minority in the 48-member body.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Douglas Combs delivered the oath of office on Thursday to state Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, who won a special election in November in a traditionally Republican district. Republicans now hold a 39-8 advantage over Democrats in the Senate, with one vacancy.

File photo

 

The Oklahoma Department of Health's chief financial officer is stepping down and says he can no longer perform his job because the agency's leadership "is compromised."

CFO Michael Romero announced his resignation Thursday in a letter to state Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger, interim commissioner of the embattled agency.

Romero testified last month before a special House committee investigating financial problems at the agency. His letter says that the process for the agency's financial recovery is "tainted with multiple conflicts of interest."

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

The latest campaign finance reports show Republican Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has raised more than $3.1 million to lead all of the GOP candidates for Oklahoma governor in fundraising totals. But a Tulsa businessman and political newcomer actually amassed the most in the final quarter of 2017.

Contribution reports released Thursday show Kevin Stitt of Tulsa raised nearly $300,000 from individuals and then loaned his campaign an equal amount for a total of $627,000 for the quarter. He has raised a total of $2.2 million for his campaign so far.

OETA

 

A report says a business conditions index for nine Midwest and Plains states slipped over the past month but still pointed to continuing improvement in regional economic conditions.

The report released Thursday says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 57.3 in January from 59.0 in December. The November figure was 57.2.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says manufacturing and other business sectors in the region are adding jobs at a solid pace.

KWGS News Photo

Dozens of Republican lawmakers, their families and staff were on a chartered Amtrak train that crashed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia Wednesday. One person in the truck was killed and at least two others in the truck were believed to have been seriously hurt.

Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford and Congressmen Lucas, Cole and Russell were on board. No injuries were reported aboard the train, which was headed to a strategy retreat at the luxury Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A police officer has testified that an Oklahoma man charged with a hate crime in the killing of his Lebanese neighbor said the slain man didn't like him because he is gay.

Testimony resumed Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of 63-year-old Stanley Majors for the 2016 shooting death of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara.

Tulsa officer Josh Metcalf testified Tuesday that Majors called Jabara "creepy" and a terrorist who disliked him because of his sexuality.

Fall Creek

 

An Oklahoma man who is legally blind has been sentenced to probation for raping a 13-year-old Texas girl at a church camp, after prosecutors cited his disability in agreeing to a plea deal that spares him prison time.

Benjamin Lawrence Petty, 36, pleaded guilty to attacking the girl in 2016, while she was attending the Falls Creek church camp in southern Oklahoma. Petty, who was a cook at the camp, tied a rope around the girl's wrists, raped her and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, according to investigators.

 

Chesapeake Energy Corp. has announced the layoffs of about 400 employees, the vast majority at its headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The layoffs were announced Tuesday in an email to employees from Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler.

Lawler says the layoffs are part of the company's continuing effort to "structure and position" itself for success.

The layoffs include about 330 employees in Oklahoma City. The remainder will be at company field offices in Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. That accounts for about 13 percent of the company's workforce.

OFS

 

More than half of Oklahoma is now under a burn ban because of the threat of wildfires.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday issued burn bans until Feb. 16 for 40 of the state's 77 counties, including those in the Oklahoma Panhandle and all counties west of Kay County on the Kansas border to Love County on the state's border with Texas.

County-issued burn bans are also in effect in Atoka, Coal, Johnston, Pittsburg and Sequoyah counties in southeastern and eastern Oklahoma.

AG Office

 

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt sought to distance himself Tuesday from his 2016 statements that presidential candidate Donald Trump is a bully who, if elected, would abuse the Constitution.

Pruitt made the comments in February 2016 while appearing on a conservative talk radio program in Oklahoma, where he served as the state's Republican attorney general. At the time, Pruitt supported Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination.

 

A new report shows that Oklahoma still lags in higher education attainment compared to the rest of the country.

The latest Vital Signs report by the United Way of Central Oklahoma found that nearly 16 percent of Oklahomans earned a bachelor's degree between 2007 and 2016, which is below the national rate of 18 percent for Americans age 25 and older.

The Oklahoman reports that the state also ranked below the national rate for adults who earned associate, graduate and professional degrees.

U.S.G.S. Photo

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking residents near a polluted site in northeast Oklahoma how much fish they eat and how often they wade in the local waters.

Two surveys were administered by the EPA's Technical Assistance for Communities to residents of areas near the Tar Creek Superfund site. It asks residents to gauge the accuracy of certain statements and offer comments for improvements.

The 40-square-mile (64-kilometer) site encompasses a portion of the Tar Creek, Elk Creek, Spring River, Neosho River and Grand Lake watersheds.

KWGS News photo

 

Witnesses have begun testifying in the trial of a man charged with murder and a hate crime in the slaying of his Lebanese neighbor.

Prosecutors began questioning witnesses Monday following opening statements in the trial of 63-year-old Stanley Vernon Majors. He is accused in the August 2016 killing of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara.

Majors has pleaded not guilty.

The first witnesses included 911 operators and a neighbor who testified she heard Khalid Jabara being attacked.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

 Jurors hear opening statements in a trial for an Oklahoma man accused of first-degree murder and a hate crime in the slaying of his Lebanese neighbor.

63-year-old Stanley Vernon Majors is accused in the August 2016 killing of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara.

Prosecutors say Majors fatally shot Jabara after bombarding him and his family for years with racial epithets, including "filthy Lebanese" and "Moo-slems." The Jabaras are Christian.

TU Sports Information

 

  After making his seventh 3-pointer of the first half in as many attempts, Wichita State reserve Austin Reaves heard the whistle signaling a Tulsa timeout and tried to make his way to the bench.

His teammates wouldn't let him.

Each one shoved or hugged him to celebrate a rare shooting display that sent the 17th-ranked Shockers to a 90-71 victory Sunday.

"I honestly couldn't explain how that felt," said Reaves, a sophomore guard. "It was an adrenaline rush."

Oklahoma Forestry Service

 

Firefighters say wildfires have scorched hundreds of acres in western Oklahoma, damaging fences and equipment but causing no injuries.

Capt. Forrest Valentine of the Clinton Fire Department said Sunday firefighters battled two large wildfires Saturday afternoon, including one north of Clinton that scorched about 975 acres in Custer County.

Valentine says about 20 structures were threatened by flames but that none were damaged. He says some agricultural equipment and supplies were damaged in the wildfire.

File photo

 

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says the city wants a liquid butane transfer company to relocate its facility from an area the city plans to develop for USA BMX's headquarters and arena.

The Tulsa World reports that Bynum plans to meet with the owner of the 11-acre facility. Nick Doctor, the city's chief of development and community policy, says the facility does not need to relocate for the BMX project to go forward. But Bynum says it limits the development potential of the site.

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The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating a pair of separate crashes that left two people dead.

The patrol says in a preliminary report that 48-year-old Mannford resident Robyin R. Anderson was killed late Friday in a Creek County crash. Earlier Friday afternoon, 43-year-old Broken Arrow resident Jonathan B. Taylor died in a crash in Rogers County.

Troopers say Anderson ran a stop sign, sending her car airborne. The vehicle hit a tree while in the air. Anderson was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

KWGS News

Federal prosecutors say three former tellers have been sentenced to prison for embezzling more than $427,000 from the Elk City bank they worked at.

Prosecutors say Breanna Lashea Vinson, Shanquaie Stevenson and Kayla Rene Jackson were each sentenced this week to 18 months in prison for conspiring to embezzle funds from Great Plains National Bank.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange also ordered them to pay restitution to the bank and an insurance company. They'll also be on supervised release for two years after their release from prison.

KWGS News

A federal judge has ruled that the city of Tulsa violated the Civil Rights Act when it retaliated against a black police officer who objected after being ordered to march in a Martin Luther King Day parade.

The Tulsa World reports that U.S. District Judge John Dowdell ruled in favor of Capt. Walter Busby Jr.'s retaliation claim on Thursday. Dowdell ordered the city to remove Busby's unfavorable performance evaluation, credit him with 453 hours of combined vacation and sick leave he took following his reassignment, and pay his attorney fees.

KWGS News Photo

A federal judge has ruled that the city of Tulsa violated the Civil Rights Act when it retaliated against a black police officer who objected after being ordered to march in a Martin Luther King Day parade.

The Tulsa World reports that U.S. District Judge John Dowdell ruled in favor of Capt. Walter Busby Jr.'s retaliation claim on Thursday. Dowdell ordered the city to remove Busby's unfavorable performance evaluation, credit him with 453 hours of combined vacation and sick leave he took following his reassignment, and pay his attorney fees.

OHP

A federal regulator says an Oklahoma-based circus did not violate the Animal Welfare Act in the roadside transfer of four elephants into another vehicle after the floor of the trailer hauling them began to give way.

U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman R. Andre Bell said Friday that Carson & Barnes Circus followed procedure. The Animal Welfare Act protects against inhumane treatment and applies to commercially transported and exhibited animals.

A 17-year-old Oklahoma high school student is facing obscenity and child pornography charges after authorities say he posted nude photos of students on a Snapchat page then tried to blackmail administrators when they turned off the school's Wi-Fi access.

Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes says the Carl Albert High School student faces 10 charges, including blackmail and transmitting obscenity and child pornography.

Kratos

A defense contractor plans to open offices in Oklahoma where it will design and build jet-powered drones and employ more than 350 workers over the next several years.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Friday that California-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions will open administrative, engineering and production facilities in Oklahoma City.

The company will initially operate out of a facility near Tinker Air Force Base and focus on engineering and production planning. In six months, the company wants to move into a 75,000 square-foot facility.

KWGS News photo

 

Coca-Cola has announced that its bottling plant in eastern Oklahoma will close as part of a consolidation with the company's Oklahoma City facility.

Coca-Cola spokesman Ish Arebalos says the company is designing a new operating model to support its growth strategy. He says the changes at the Oklahoma City and Okmulgee locations could result in approximately 246 job reductions.

Spavinaw State Park

 

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have contracted with the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to conduct a five-year study on a northeastern Oklahoma stream.

Rainbow trout will be stocked and examined during the Spavinaw Creek study. University researchers began gathering base data on fish and fauna in the waters through physical surveys and sampling this winter. Trout are expected to be stocked for three years beginning this year.

 

Federal safety records show 10 workers have died over the past decade at well sites linked to drilling contractor Patterson-UTI, the same driller involved in this week's rig explosion in Oklahoma that killed five workers.

An analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data shows the previous accidents happened at drilling sites in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The company also was fined nearly $367,000 over the past 10 years for more than 140 safety violations.

OHP-Twitter

 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a truck hauling four elephants stalled in eastern Oklahoma, blocking one lane of a busy highway for about two hours.

Patrol Lt. Jarrett Johnson said Wednesday that the commercial vehicle broke down shortly before 2 p.m. on a portion of U.S. 69 near Eufaula, about 120 miles east of Oklahoma City.

Google Street View

 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is authorizing a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the death of an Oklahoma woman who was found floating in a reservoir.

The governor issued an executive order Tuesday in the case of 33-year-old Cassie Ann Easom, of Miami, Oklahoma.

She was found Dec. 7 in the Elk Creek Reservoir in southwest Kansas and was later declared dead. Investigators say she was shot several times in the head.

Wikimedia

 

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has distributed nearly $127,000 in pay raises to 14 employees since Jan. 1.

According to the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the largest pay increase was $20,000, a 30 percent increase.

A spokesman for House Speaker Republican Charles McCall tells the Tulsa World that the money came from the House's appropriated operating budget.

The House raises come as lawmakers are being asked to consider tax hikes on tobacco and fuel to fund core services and raises for teachers.

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