Marshall Stewart

Reporter & All Things Considered anchor

Marshall Stewart comes to KWGS after more than 30 years in radio news. He’s been an anchor, editor, producer, and reporter with a focus on government stories. He’s the recipient of numerous state awards and a 2006 Edward R. Murrow national award.

The Air Force veteran is a Ponca City native and Oklahoma State University alum and the proud father of three children and granddad to three granddaughters.

Ways to Connect

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The effort to modernize Oklahoma liquor laws continues, but not everyone is on the same page. The Grocer’s Association is fighting the Oklahoma Retail Liquor Association’s initiative petition. Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom is also pursuing an initiative petition, and efforts are still underway in the legislature.

State Representative Glen Mulready of Tulsa is working on the issue on the house side. A proposal has cleared the senate, but is yet to be approved by the house.

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After the terrorist attacks in Belgium, Americans want to know could such a coordinated, devastating, attack happen here.

University of Tulsa Assistant Professor of Political Science Gaurav Kampani is an expert in US and foreign security policies. He says theoretically, it’s possible, but a lone wolf kind of attack is the more probable scenario, Similar to what took place in California.

Broken Arrow Police-Facebook

Investigators in Broken Arrow say what is first reported as a suicide is actually a homicide. Corporal Leon Calhoun says the evidence at the scene didn’t match the wife’s story of a suicide by the 69-year-old male victim. Calhoun says the suspect apparently at some point confided what happened with her two adult daughters.

The woman and one daughter have been arrested. The other daughter wasn’t immediately located. Police had been called to the residence previously for domestic related incidents.

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The Creek Nation’s 11th hour reluctance to agree to provide funding for a Vision River Proposal could negatively impact other river projects. The tribe is asked for $18-million, but now Creek leaders want to wait for the outcome of the Vision vote in Jenks and Tulsa on April 5th. Part of the Vision money would fund repairs on the levee system. County Commission Chief Deputy Michael Willis says that’s a priority for the county and having the Creek Nation on board improves chances for additional federal funding.

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It’s spring break time, and Oklahomans are being cautioned to take steps to try and avoid mosquito bites if traveling to certain locations. The Caribbean, Latin and South America are experiencing Zika Virus outbreaks. Tulsa County Health Department Epidemiologist Nicole Schlaefli says if heading that direction, be cautious, and maybe consider an alternate destination. The three reported cases of Zika in Oklahoma are all in people who recently traveled to countries where outbreaks of the virus are prevalent.

Tulsa County Sheriff

Prominent Hispanic community activist Francisco Trevino is upset over the Democratic Party’s call for an investigation into donors to Republican Sheriff’s candidate Vic Regalado’s campaign. The donors are Hispanic and Democrats believe they are ‘straw’ donors as a way to get around campaign laws. Regalado calls the Democrats’ move ‘political racial profiling’ and Trevino agrees.

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A new non-stop flight destination is added at Tulsa International Airport. New Orleans, the Big Easy, is the latest non-stop service added by Allegiant Airlines to and from Tulsa. The seasonal direct flights to New Orleans will begin in late May. Allegiant Station Manager in Tulsa is Kurt Harvey. He says the city has been good for the airline and vice-versa. This is the sixth non-stop destination that will now be flown by Allegiant to and from Tulsa.

The flight directly to New Orleans takes a couple of hours where it can take twelve hours or longer to drive the route.

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A bridge replacement will mean detours for drivers on a busy south Tulsa street. County Chief Engineer Tom Rains says the project on South Garnett between 81st and 91st begins next week and could take three weeks to finish.

You will be able to get through intersections at 81st and 91st, but you will not be able to go completely through that mile section on Garnett. The road will be closed to traffic between West San Antonio and West Urbana. There will be some access to neighborhoods and businesses. The project is scheduled to begin March 14th.

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A program to help small businesses based in Tulsa is launched. The Mayor’s Office of Human Rights is behind the new Small Business Enterprise Program. The goal is for the city to use small business for six to ten percent of goods and services. Spokesman Dr. Stacey Cole says it will make it easier for smaller businesses to get city contracts.

The Enterprise Program is free and open to any Tulsa based small business meeting the qualifying standards. The business must have 25 or fewer employees, and a Tulsa area office conducting core business activities.

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The state senate passes a measure to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell strong beer and wine. It now goes to the house, where Tulsa Representative Glen Mulready is one of those working on language for a bill. At least two groups are circulating petitions to get measures on a statewide ballot. Mulready would prefer the legislature do it, but says the people will make the ultimate decision. Since Oklahoma liquor laws are incorporated into the state constitution, it will take a vote of the people to amend them.

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Three are in custody after a Monday night shooting that sent two people to the hospital. Officer Leland Ashley says a father and son were shot in an attempted robbery in the parking lot of a busy shopping center in East Tulsa.

Both victims’ wounds are described as non-life threatening. Ashley says there were plenty of witnesses and security cameras in the area. It led to a quick round-up of three persons of interest, and after interviews with investigators…they were arrested.

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The Tulsa City-County Health Department gets a grant from the Public Health Institute to study the mosquito that carries the Zika virus. The Division Chief for Environmental Public Health in Tulsa is Elizabeth Nutt. She says the grant is actually a climate change grant that will allow the study of the impact of a warming climate on the mosquito that causes Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Zika.  

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There’s a line outside the door before it opens on this first day of business for Trader Joe’s in Tulsa. Among the first in line is Sharon, formerly from L.A. and an experienced Trader Joe’s customer. She says she lived in L.A. for 28 years and frequently shopped at the specialty grocer. She and friends are glad to see one open in Tulsa.

Well known in other parts of the country as a popular specialty grocery, the Tulsa Trader Joe’s in Brookside is the first to open in Oklahoma. A Costco is scheduled to open in Tulsa in April.

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16 more hospitalizations from flu are reported in Oklahoma in the past week, and for the first time this season, three people died from the illness. They are the first deaths reported this year, and one of the fatalities was in Tulsa County. Health Department Spokesperson Kaitlin Snider says the number of reported cases is increasing. The other deaths were in Rogers and Harper Counties. More than 200 people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms in Oklahoma this year, 41 in Tulsa County…a number which leads the state.

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The initiative is called makeOKbetter, and it’s an effort to broaden health care coverage under Insure Oklahoma. Craig Jones, President of the Hospital Association, says it would take federal dollars normally targeted for Medicaid expansion and put them instead into an Oklahoma based plan. He says it could create jobs and help save rural hospitals.

He says for each dollar invested with Insure Oklahoma, nine more would come back to the state…money now being left on the table.

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Early in-person absentee voting begins later this week for the Super Tuesday Presidential Primary and the Republican race for Tulsa Sheriff.

Tulsa County

Transportation and juvenile justice are two areas where Tulsa County should see cutbacks from the state because of the budget shortfall. County Commission Chief Deputy Michael Willis says while it isn’t yet known exactly how much or where the cuts will come, they are inevitable, so department heads are preparing as much as possible.

Willis says county leaders will lobby lawmakers to try and keep cuts to a minimum, but it’s likely they will have to do more with less and some projects may be delayed or put on hold.

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The latest flu statistics are out, and there are still no deaths from the illness in Oklahoma this year. While Tulsa County leads the state in number of hospitalizations with 31, the good news is there are far fewer this flu season than in the past two years. Nicole Schlaefli is Epidemiologist with the Tulsa County Health Department. She says the vaccine is much more effective this year.

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Beer distribution giant Anheuser-Busch opposes Senate Joint Resolution 68, a measure supporters claim will modernize Oklahoma’s liquor laws. Also in opposition are members of the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma. President Bryan Kerr says the bill is not good for package stores and the smaller Mom and Pop businesses. He says the resolution as written could mean the closing of dozens of package stores in the state.

The resolution would lead to a public vote to allow cold, strong beer and wine to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. It must still pass the full senate. 

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For the first time in decades, a new company will operate midway rides at the Tulsa State Fair. Murphy Brothers or a subcontractor of Murphy’s has been the midway carnival attraction provider for about 40 years, until now. A three year deal is signed with Indiana based North American Midway Entertainment. Tulsa Fairgrounds Authority Chairman John Smaligo says it’s a good deal for Expo Square and taxpayers.

Oklahoma Watch

Members of the State Senate Finance Committee are scheduled to vote tomorrow on a measure to halt the most recent income tax cut. Citizens are being asked to call lawmakers and urge them to roll back the cut. David Blatt with the Oklahoma Policy Institute calls the cut ‘ill-advised’ at a time the state is facing a one-and-a-half billion dollar shortfall.

The bill by Tulsa Senator Mike Mazzei would not eliminate the income tax cut, just delay it until times are better.

Salvation Army Facebook

Tomorrow, interested volunteers can get basic information in disaster relief from the Tulsa Salvation Army. Course Coordinator is Charity Mitchell, the local Salvation Army’s Volunteer and Disaster Resources Manager. She says in Oklahoma, we’re not just talking about tornadoes and flooding, wildfires and now earthquakes are included in the preparation. This course is a prelude to more detailed courses offered later.

The training is free and open to anyone, but you must pre-register by calling the Salvation Army.

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Angry deputies and Tulsa County Commissioners confront each other over morale and money. A county management conference gets heated between commissioners and members of the Sheriff’s FOP lodge. A fiery message from FOP Union leader Travis Jones to County Chair Karen Keith sparked the confrontation. Jones claims elected officials are damaging morale by being negative and critical of the Sheriff’s Office and jail management.

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The Senate Finance Committee passes a measure suspending 20 tax credits for two years. Some credits were removed from the bill, but some remaining like the earned income tax credit and the child care tax credit would most impact the poor and working poor. It’s a cause for concern by advocates who don’t want to see the poor bear the brunt of the cuts. David Blatt is with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, and he believes subsidies for oil and gas production and property tax exemptions for business need to be in the discussion.

The measure must still pass the full Senate.

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113 hospitalizations in Oklahoma and no deaths reported in the state so far this flu season…the latest statistics indicate a slow start to flu cases. The Tulsa Health Department’s Kaitlin Snider says it’s hard to say why there’s been such a mild season to this point. It may be because the vaccine is more effective than the last couple of years or more people may be getting shots and taking precautions.

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An American Lung Association report gives Oklahoma poor grades in dealing with tobacco and tobacco related illness. Some progress has been made, but Oklahoma’s American Lung Association Director Jeremy Hughey says more must be done to just get us to where most other states are already.

The state received a D in smoke-free air and an F in tobacco taxes. Governor Fallin has proposed a hike of a $1.50 a pack, which could improve Oklahoma’s grade in the tobacco taxes area. Hughey says Oklahoma also  needs a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law.

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A resolution is passed to get Tulsa County’s share of Vision Renewal on an April 5th ballot. Commissioners okay a resolution asking for one-half of a tenth of a penny for county capital projects. Commissioner Ron Peters says it’s only a portion of the money expected because of a compromise worked out with the city of Tulsa.

The .05% sales tax would provide 140-million in capital needs. The county would also get 30-million from the city of Tulsa for Expo Square, and between 15 and 20 million from excess 2025 Vision funds.

Air Guard

Tulsa city leaders include nearly $9-and-a-half million dollars in the Vision proposal for upgrades to the Air National Guard base here. It will help in the effort to position Tulsa as a location for the next generation fighter aircraft, the F-35. They would replace the currently flying F-16's beginning in 2022. Colonel Brent Wright, Vice-Wing Commander of the 138th Fighter Wing, says it could mean millions in economic impact, and a home for the 12-hundred airmen in Tulsa for years to come.

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Tulsa area leaders agree on priorities they’d like to see lawmakers pass in the upcoming session. The OneVoice agenda is the work of regional business, civic, education, and government leaders. One member of the group is Wes Mitchell of H.P. Enterprises, who says education, especially the teacher shortage, is at the top of the list. He says it must be addressed despite a $900-million shortfall. He says the state will continue to lose teachers as long as pay is the lowest in the region, and funding continues to be sliced at the state level.

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Oklahoma’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.2 to 4.1 from November to December. It sounds like good news, but while a household survey shows more people working, a business survey shows several thousand job losses. Lynn Gray with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says, not unexpectedly, the hardest hit sectors are related to the oil and gas industry.

The state has gone from over 63-thousand oil and gas jobs in 2014, to around 50-thousand in 2015, a drop of nearly 20%.

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