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.

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Tulsa County Booking Photo

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said he asked a judge to order an 18-year-old man accused of killing his parents and three siblings to undergo a full mental health evaluation with a doctor chosen by prosecutors.

Kunzweiler said Tuesday after a closed-door hearing in the case of Michael Bever that Bever's attorneys have submitted a psychological report from their doctor and that the state should get to conduct its own inquiry, but Bever refused to participate.

Wikipedia

How would you like to get to Oklahoma City in 25 minutes?

Some passenger rail supporters think it’s possible with high-speed rail.

At state Sen. Kevin Matthews' interim study on passenger rail Tuesday, McGrath Construction President Jon McGrath said an elevated line could be built along I-44 to allow for trains up to 220 miles per hour. His firm specializes in railroad construction and has been involved in passenger rail projects in more than two dozen U.S. cities.

McGrath said the system would cost up to $3 billion dollars, but the state wouldn’t have to pay that.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The numbers are in, and the State Department of Education calls Oklahoma’s summer feeding program a success.

Participation in the federally funded program was up 14 percent this year. That means 1.6 million free meals went to kids between May and August. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said it wasn’t easy with education funding cuts preventing schools from offering summer sessions, which bring kids to meals.

drug free.org

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has joined other state attorneys general in asking Congress to allow Medicaid funding for residential addiction treatment.

The Road to Recovery Act eliminates the Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion from Medicaid. The exclusion was part of the original Medicaid legislation and is used to keep federal funding from supporting inhumane asylums.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • With tough decisions to make on a new eight-year plan, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will focus on major corridors through 2025.
  • Former Tulsa police officer Shannon Kepler will face a fourth murder trial for the 2014 death of Jeremy Lake.
  • Economic growth continues for a 10th straight month in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma.

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Oil and gas companies are feeling the pinch.

Industry experts in Oklahoma believe natural gas prices between $2.50 and $3.50 and oil prices between $45 and $55 dollars are here to stay for a decade or more.

"You have to look at the full-cycle economics and make it worth within this price range. There is no thinking about prices going higher in the future," said Oklahoma Energy Resources Board member Ronnie Irani. "If they do, great. That's icing on the cake, but you cannot afford to work in that environment."

Economic growth continued in September for a 10th straight month in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 58.2 last month, up from 57.5 in August and 56.1 in July.

"You see it's been trending upward for about 10 months into 12 months. We're seeing it growing. That's a real good number, and I expect that to continue, as manufacturing in the region is doing well," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss.

When it comes to local economic growth, Tulsa doesn’t fare well in a new analysis.

Financial website WalletHub's rankings of 515 U.S. cities’ economic growth consider data on things like population, job and income growth, unemployment rates, even building permit activity.

"And, unfortunately, especially when it comes to large cities, Tulsa finds itself near the bottom of these rankings," said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation took "unprecedented measures" to make its new eight-year construction plan work.

Since the 2010–2017 plan was approved, nearly $840 million has been taken from ODOT to balance state budgets.

"So, we have about 40 projects that are just sliding out of the eight-year plan, one that was in this plan" said ODOT Director and State Transportation Secretary Mike Patterson. "And that's the new routing of U.S. 70 around Madill. A project that we've all been working on at some level for many years, but we just can't keep it in there."

State officials want to put friends and loved ones of prescription drug addicts on the front lines of the battle against opioid deaths.

The key is more access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, which is an increasingly common tool among first responders.

There are now 19 community hubs throughout Oklahoma that offer free Naloxone kits.

Health care for Oklahoma’s poorest children will take a $49 million dollar hit because of congressional inaction.

Federal lawmakers did not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by a Saturday deadline. Cate Jeffries with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said they can prolong the program if they essentially start buying on credit.

"We can continue to fund the CHIP program through state fiscal year 2018, which ends June 30, by pushing out some of our provider claim runs into the next fiscal year," Jeffries said.

A man was shot and killed in front of his family Sunday afternoon as he confronted an armed robber during a home invasion.

Tulsa Police say the home in the 9000 block of East 67th Street was 16-year-old Deonte Green's second stop during a Sunday crime spree.

Police say Green approached the man's wife and two daughters as they left the house around 12:30 p.m., pointing a gun at them and forcing them back inside. Once inside, the family's 44-year-old father confronted Green. During a struggle, Green shot him, and the man collapsed a short time later inside the house.

Monday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma loses $49 million for poor children's health care after Congress failed to reauthorize funding for it this weekend.
  • A back-and-forth over the gross production tax may be a sticking point in special session budget negotiations.
  • Oklahoma oil and gas industry experts believe modest prices — $2.50 to $3.50 for natural gas and $45 to $55 for oil — are here to stay for a decade or more.

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Police are noticing the effects of Oklahoma’s addiction to prescription painkillers.

Many people addicted to the pills eventually turn to heroin. Tulsa Police Capt. Mark Wollmershauser said a full-blown painkiller addiction can mean as many as 100 hydrocodone a day at $3 apiece or 10 oxycontin at $30, so it's common for addicts to have a $300 a day habit.

"Or, I can score my 1 gram of heroin a day, be pretty much OK and only pay $100. So, I've cut my cost in a third," Wollmershauser told the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.

KWGS News

EMSA could end up suing its liability insurance company to recoup some of the $2.4 million in legal fees the agency expects to incur fighting a federal anti-kickback lawsuit.

The emergency medical care provider has a $1 million policy with Atlanta-based RSUI Indemnity. It covers EMSA directors and officers for losses brought through legal actions.

While EMSA has filed a claim with RSUI, the insurer has not authorized it.

Friday's top stories:

  • Despite complaints it doesn't fall under the purview of special session, a state House committee passes a bill requiring intensive checks of Oklahoma's Medicaid rolls every three months.
  • Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford says Russia is part of why NFL players' protests against racial injustice have become a hot-button issue.
  • Health officials say if state lawmakers don't pass a cigarette tax increase, already suffering nursing homes will be even worse off.

Tulsa County Sheriff

Tulsa police have arrested a man in connection with a string of downtown burglaries.

Pedro Canteras, 24, was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on three counts of third-degree burglary Thursday afternoon. Online jail records indicate Canteras is homeless.

The burglaries happened over several hours in and around the Brady Arts District, starting late Wednesday night and ending early Thursday morning.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The crew that will sail the combat ship USS Tulsa has been in the city this week learning about their vessel’s namesake.

The city council and Mayor G.T. Bynum gave the crew keys — yes, two keys — to the city.

"We're hopeful that the crew knows any time, any day, wherever they happen to be in the world, that they have a whole city of 400,000 people here who are thinking about them and rooting for them," Bynum said.

Navy Lt. Junior Grade Matt Prentice said getting keys to the city and visiting Tulsa has been an honor.

Wikimedia

Despite complaints it doesn’t fall under the purview of special session, a state House committee passed a bill Thursday requiring intensive checks of Oklahoma’s Medicaid rolls every three months.

House Bill 1093 tells the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to review a wide range of records — including income, employment, residency status, enrollment in other public assistance, financial resources, incarceration status, lottery winnings and death records — for each enrollee and notify them if there’s a discrepancy.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall adjourns special session after three days.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health turns to furloughs and buyouts to deal with a $10 million budget shortfall.
  • A tip leads Tulsa police to the city's 66th homicide victim of 2016.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says it will furlough some employees and offer buyouts to others in order to cover an estimated $10 million budget shortfall.

Starting Oct. 30, employees will have to take an unpaid day off every two weeks unless they make $35,000 a year or less. The health department is also preparing voluntary buyout offers it will present to employees in the coming weeks.

Coming off consecutive years of roughly $1 billion state budget shortfalls, state lawmakers cut the health department's budget 2.8 percent this year.

File photo

A tip received Tuesday led Tulsa police to the city's 66th homicide victim of the year early Thursday.

The dismembered body of 18-year-old Anthony Pietrzak was found at 2 a.m. in the 2000 block of north Yale Avenue with the help of Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies.

Dearld Peal, 46, and Tracey Price, 40, are charged with murdering and kidnapping Pietrzak.

A Crime Stoppers report received by the Tulsa Police Department on Tuesday said Pietrzak was in a relationship with a woman and had been beaten to death at a home in the 2800 block of east 42nd Place North.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

With Linde Oktoberfest a few weeks away, River Parks Authority received Wednesday its annual donation from the event’s profits.

River Parks is getting $250,000 after what Tulsa Oktoberfest Board Chair John Hickey called a “banner year” in 2016. Hickey said River Parks has been a partner and major part of Oktoberfest’s success over many years.

"They've done a tremendous amount for the festival in terms of infrastructure, electricity, plumbing, storage — a variety of things," Hickey said.

Those funds will go to various River Parks needs.

Tulsa State Fair

The Tulsa State Fair starts Thursday, and Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado shared some tips to stay safe.

Sometimes kids get lost in the big crowds. Last year, deputies working the fair reunited 145 lost kids with their families.

"And although that's successful and that's a stat that we certainly are proud of, what I would like to do next year is be able to say, 'You know what? We didn't have a single incident of a lost child,'" Regalado said.

To relieve prison overcrowding, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will let certain nonviolent inmates out on a new supervised release program.

The Community Supervision Program will be strictly monitored — at least two probation officer visits a month and six months of GPS monitoring to start. Only nonviolent, minimum security inmates will be eligible.

"There are no violent offenders, no sex offenders, no child abusers, no domestic infractions — none of those people are going to qualify for this program," said DOC Director Joe Allbaugh.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

With the key piece of Oklahoma Republican lawmakers’ plan to fix the budget apparently dead on arrival, House Speaker Charles McCall adjourned special session Wednesday.

Democrats and tax-averse Republicans weren’t in support of a new cigarette tax to fill a $215-million dollar budget hole. House Majority Leader Jon Echols says negotiations will continue. Adjournment just means the legislature won’t spend $30,000 dollars a day in official special session.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • State lawmakers send a new cigarette tax proposal to the full House, but it probably doesn't have the votes needed to pass.
  • State workers want lawmakers to give them a raise during special session.
  • Oklahoma stands to lose $49 million for poor children's health care if Congress doesn't act by Saturday.

What do football, soccer and lacrosse players have in common? They’re the athletes most likely to suffer from concussions.

Concussion specialist Dr. Eric Sherburn will speak at a seminar about how concussions happen and how to recover from them. Sherburn said concussions are serious injuries, and student athletes must take themselves out of a game if they think they’ve suffered one but coaches or referees don’t recognize it.

okhca.org

Though the Senate now will not vote by Saturday’s deadline for Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority, it’s also the last day for another significant action.

Additional funding approved under President Barack Obama for the Children’s Health Insurance Program must be reauthorized by then.

"Should the enhanced CHIP funding not be reauthorized, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority stands to lose about $49 million in federal funds in state fiscal year 2018," said Cate Jeffries with OHCA.

Looking to fill a $215 million budget hole, Oklahoma House and Senate committees passed Tuesday a second run at a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase, but it probably doesn’t have the votes to pass both chambers.

Three distinct factions have emerged in the legislature: Those supporting the cigarette tax on its own, those supporting it as one piece of a package of revenue measures and those against the legislature raising taxes at all.

Senate Appropriations and Budget Chair Kim David is among those urging lawmakers to pass the cigarette tax now.

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