Matt Trotter

Reporter

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN. 

He has a master's degree from Arizona State University, where he spent a semester on the first reporting staff of Cronkite News Service's Washington, D.C., bureau. As a grad student, he won awards for multimedia journalism and in-depth TV reporting.

Matt is from Southern California, so he's slowly following Route 66 across the United States. He would have made it Chicago by now, but he's not a fan of long drives.

Ways to Connect

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Transit has two big projects to plan and complete in order to accommodate its transition to a fleet fully powered by compressed natural gas and its introduction of bus rapid transit service.

The current fueling system has two compressors to supply individual stations, but only one can run on the incoming gas line.

Tourism officials are working to set up a citywide special taxing district that will raise money to market Tulsa to potential visitors.

Tourism improvement districts were authorized by a state law that took effect Nov. 1, and VisitTulsa President Ray Hoyt aims to have Tulsa’s established by April.

"It's only hotels and not restaurants or anybody else, and the goal is that assessment is on occupied rooms. The hoteliers, like a business improvement district, have to agree to it — 50 plus one percent," Hoyt said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa moves to formalize its support of education.

The city council has taken up a resolution declaring support for public education and public education institutions a public purpose. The City of Tulsa Charter grants spending authority for any public purpose.

Nick Doctor with Mayor G.T. Bynum’s office said it’s not a raid on city funds.

"This is simply allowing the City of Tulsa to say that education is something we care about and we think it's important for our city to be successful," Doctor said.

Route 66 News

The group working to promote tourism and business along Tulsa’s stretch of the Mother Road welcomes two new members.

Tulsa’s Route 66 Commission is now made up of 17 members. It started under Mayor Dewey Bartlett with 15 members.

VisitTulsa now has a formal seat.

"This is a group that's out there right now recruiting people to town, and so we have an opportunity to make sure that the work we're doing here to highlight, improve and enhance Route 66 will be a part of those marketing efforts," said commission Vice Chair Ed Sharrer.

KWGS News

A recent uptick in copper wiring theft is delaying progress in re-illuminating dark Tulsa highways.

The estimated cost of fixing all the damage caused by thieves is $2.9 million after a rash of thefts over the past several months.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Construction is finished on a 43,000 square foot expansion of the Tulsa County Jail, but how half of it will all be used is still up in the air.

"Right now, there are several options that we're looking at, and it will be utilized. Trust me, they're not going to stand there empty for very long," said Sheriff Vic Regalado.

Two of the four pods are for general population inmates, but no one is moving in just yet. Regalado said they may rotate some inmates through them.

Tulsa Police Department

McLain High School students will be the first in Tulsa to participate in a new city-district partnership dubbed Project Trust.

The pilot program will start later this month with informal, after-school meetings between Tulsa police officers and around 15 students to talk about issues young people face. Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police are also involved.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office believes its new mental health wing at the jail is the only one of its kind in the U.S.

Sheriff Vic Regalado said from paint colors to fixtures, the wing was designed with mentally ill inmates’ well being in mind. Regalado said the area will have specially trained detention officers, a psychiatrist and a nurse on duty at all times.

"We believe that the system we have in place will truly provide the necessary mental health needs of our inmates," Regalado said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The addition of two clocks designed to look like the lost originals completed the restoration of Tulsa’s iconic Meadow Gold sign in November.

But if you looked closely, you may have seen the clocks displaying the wrong time at points over the past two months. That’s been fixed.

"I can't say I understand what the technical solution was, but different motors than the ones that were originally installed seem to have fixed the problem," said Route 66 Commission Vice Chair Ed Sharrer.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Service along a Peoria Avenue bus rapid transit route in Tulsa is scheduled to begin in early 2021, but Tulsa Transit Interim General Manager Debbie Ruggles said with the right moves, it could start sooner.

"We have discussed some options for how to make that happen so that we could roll out BRT on the Peoria line in January — or perhaps February — but in that timeframe of 2019," Ruggles said.

Starting BRT service two years sooner could involve delaying other projects. A decision must be made soon.

KWGS News

Workers are making their final checks on the City of Tulsa’s fleet of snow plows and salt spreaders before a winter storm rolls in late tomorrow.

Street Maintenance Manager Tim McCorkell said they’ll probably start treating main roads with salt around midnight Thursday, depending on how the storm moves.

"The issue with this storm, what it appears to be is we're going to have a lot of rain first, so it's really hard to pretreat anything for a storm when you're getting that much moisture. It washes it off the roadway," McCorkell said.

File Photo

Like their peers across the U.S., Oklahoma builders think 2017 will be a good year.

The Associated General Contractors of America’s annual outlook shows builders in Oklahoma and nationwide have a positive outlook for all 13 market segments in their annual survey. There’s not as much optimism for one area.

"The only market segment where contractors are less optimistic this year than they were last year is the multifamily residential sector, although that still garnered a net positive reading of 11 percent," said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.

Tulsa Transit expects it will need a budget of roughly $20 million for next fiscal year, which is an increase of 10 percent.

Higher health care and Lift program contractor costs are two big factors for the jump.

"We're up over $1 million just in those two cost centers and so we have some opportunity to offset some of those costs, but we have some needs as well," said Interim General Manager Debbie Ruggles.

Some increased costs will be balanced out by an anticipated $570,000 in rebates for using compressed natural gas.

Tulsa health officials launch a plan to improve the community’s overall health.

The plan was developed over nine months, and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said they have big things in mind.

"It's our goal, No. 1, initially, to be the healthiest county in Oklahoma," Dart said. "But, in thinking broadly, and why not here, and why not Tulsa, why can't we be the healthiest county in the country? And there's no reason why we can't."

Stillwater Police

A woman charged with killing four people and injuring dozens more by driving her car into spectators at Oklahoma State University's 2015 homecoming parade was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison after accepting a plea deal.

Adacia Chambers, 26, was sentenced in Payne County District Court after pleading no contest to four counts of second-degree murder and 39 counts of assault and battery.

The aroma of gasoline and fried food hovering around the Tulsa fairgrounds right now can mean only one thing: The Chili Bowl is back in town.

Drivers have a practice session tonight, and races start tomorrow. The field this year is the biggest in the event's history, growing by about 50 cars from last year to 375.

Former NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is in charge of building the quarter-mile dirt track inside the River Spirit Expo Center. He said midget racing's lack of strict rules is why the Chili Bowl keeps growing.

Winter.jpg

A severe winter storm may rain ice down on Tulsa starting Friday, but fair weather is in the forecast for the next few days.

"This is the time to take advantage of the several days we have to get you, your family, everybody ready to ride out this event and not be out if you don't have to," said Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Roger Jolliff.

Besides reviewing your family emergency plan, Jolliff said you should make sure your car is ready by topping off your fuel tank, making sure it's in good working order and preparing an emergency kit to stash in it.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Proposed zoning code changes that could affect Iron Gate soup kitchen have been nixed, at least until their court case is resolved.

The change explicitly classified soup kitchens and other nonprofits under governmental and social services, a determination previously made by the city when it came to Iron Gate.

Iron Gate has appealed that classification in court. Attorney Lou Reynolds accused the city of trying to move the goal posts on them.

pixabay.com

Tulsa's city council will consider proposals to increase batch limits on coffee roasters in the zoning code.

They would increase the limit for roasters in areas zoned commercial use from 3 kilograms to 45 and in industrial areas from 35 to 45.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education asked state lawmakers Friday for $958 million in funding next year.

Chancellor Glen Johnson said they understand the state is in another difficult budget situation, but he had a strong message for the House budget committee.

"Higher education needs to be a funding priority. There's nobody else. There's no other game in town," Johnson said. "If we're going to meet those job needs that they tell us are going to be coming to in 2020, nobody else can do that but higher education."

KWGS News

K-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Sears, now Macy’s — several national retailers have now shuttered or intend to shutter stores in Tulsa.

The closings mean dozens of people could lose their jobs, but what do they mean for the City of Tulsa, which runs on sales tax revenue?

"There should not be a major impact from those on the city, but it is sort of reflective of kind of the changing nature of how people obtain goods," said City Finance Director Mike Kier.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A new competitor in commercial phone and internet is entering the Tulsa area in the first quarter of 2017.

Bixby-based BTC Broadband recently completed a 90-mile fiber optic backbone network stretching from Henryetta to Bartlesville. President Scott Floyd said they’ll build out from that main line into Tulsa by April, roughly at the intersection of the Broken Arrow Expressway and Highway 169.

KWGS File Photo

Oklahoma's courts and law enforcement agencies have six months to prepare for State Question 780 to take effect.

The initiative reclassifies certain crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies. Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said that could mean a strain on his agency.

Pixabay

Oklahoma — Tulsa, more specifically — may be poised to take a big chunk of business from the rapidly growing health data industry.

Though the amount of U.S. medical data is growing by exabytes — that's 1 billion gigabytes — a year, there’s a focus on using it to lower costs and improve patient outcomes. Dr. William Paiva runs OSU’s Center for Health Systems Innovation. He said there’s record investing in health data right now, and organizations in Oklahoma are ahead of the curve in applying data analytics to health care.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A trio of new Tulsa County elected officials was sworn in Tuesday.

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado was sworn in for his first full term. Regalado ran while serving the remainder of former Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s last term.

Glanz was removed from office after a grand jury investigation in the wake of a volunteer deputy fatally shooting an unarmed man.

Regalado said he wants to continue the positive momentum he feels building in the agency. He said the sheriff’s office is also working on getting body-worn cameras for all deputies.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Work is nearly done on an expansion of the Tulsa County Jail.

County commissioners accepted a certificate of substantial completion Tuesday from Manhattan Construction and Dewberry Architects.

"They have completed all but a few minor issues with the housing units. They're ready to go, and I believe this week we will have the keys and have occupancy rights to the new housing units," said Tulsa County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Michelle Robinette.

State of Oklahoma-File Photo

The Oklahoma House Speaker-elect is calling for a bipartisan investigation of a sexual harassment settlement paid to Tulsa Rep. Dan Kirby’s former assistant.

Atoka Rep. Charles McCall said the House Rules Committee will take up the matter. The committee will investigate the $44,500 settlement to Kirby's assistant and her attorney, the allegations that led to it, and how the House deals with sexual harassment allegations.

Today's top stories:

  • The Oklahoma House Speaker-elect calls for a bipartisan investigation of a sexual harassment settlement paid out of public funds to Tulsa Rep. Dan Kirby's former assistant.
  • There have been fewer accidents under the state's ban on texting while driving.
  • The unemployment rate was higher this November in three-fourths of Oklahoma counties than it was last November.

file photo

The Tulsa Regional Chamber is urging lawmakers not to let a state film tax credit sunset in 2024.

An incentive evaluation committee made that recommendation for the incentive. VisitTulsa President Ray Hoyt said that's a mistake.

"One, it's just two years old. We haven't had the opportunity to really start to rebuild that industry and to incubate it back in Oklahoma, and it takes time to get back to those producers and directors and make them more aware of what Tulsa and Oklahoma has for film sites," Hoyt said.

Thursday's top stories:

  • The Tulsa Regional Chamber wants to save Oklahoma's film tax credit, which is on the chopping block.
  • Embattled state Rep. Dan Kirby rescinds his resignation.
  • Prisoners in Oklahoma are among the most likely to be killed or die behind bars.

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