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

Leaders from throughout Tulsa County are at a two-day workshop with the goal of finding ways to send fewer people to jail.

It’s a "sequential intercept mapping" workshop — a complicated way of saying elected officials and other leaders are getting together to lay out the path through the criminal justice system for people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders.

okhca.org

These are uncertain financial times for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

OHCA was appropriated $70 million from the cigarette fee opponents are asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to strike down. Oral arguments are next week.

Depending on congressional actions, OHCA could also soon be missing as much as $90 million in federal matching dollars for SoonerCare, the state's Medicaid program.

Tulsa Regional Chamber

Work called for in the Tulsa Regional Chamber's economic plan will continue through 2020.

The chamber announced Monday it's raised the $21 million dollars needed to carry out efforts called for in Tulsa's Future III.

Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal said it took about two years to raise the money from public and private investors.

"This plan enables the northeast Oklahoma region to effectively compete with peer regions across the country for jobs as well as capital investment," Neal said.

Wikimedia

According to a new study, Oklahoma's older teens and young adults are more at risk than their peers in 41 states and D.C.

According to a WalletHub analysis, Oklahoma has high proportions of youth not working, not attending school, without a degree, overweight or obese, or homeless.

The state has a couple of top-10 rankings it doesn’t want, like ninth in the percentage of youth without a high school diploma.

Co-authors of an interim study on passenger rail in Oklahoma say they have the support of the state, Tulsa Regional and Oklahoma City chambers of commerce, along with other business groups.

"There are about 5,000 daily commuters between Tulsa and Oklahoma City for business alone, so if we think about the safety implications, think about the productivity implications for those folks who are working and traveling back and forth, that alone shows that this has tremendous viability," said Rep. Monroe Nichols.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa’s Great Raft Race will feature a few new things this year.

Race director Seth Erkenbeck said they’re bringing back the sand castle contest, which garnered national attention.

"We are flying in a world champion sand sculptor from the east coast, and he will produce a live, Tulsa-themed exhibition piece at the after-party at West Festival Park," Erkenbeck said.

The raft race will also have boat rentals this year for people who want to make the eight-mile float but don’t want to build or buy a raft.

Youth Services Tulsa

A taco cart — well, bicycle — is the first winner of a competition among social enterprise start-ups.

"A social enterprise is any organization that applies a business principle to address a social issue. For us, it is employment for youth transitioning out of homelessness," said Youth Services Tulsa Social Enterprise Specialist Wesley Rose, who runs the T-Town Tacos program.

T-Town Tacos is a way for youth transitioning out of homelessness to learn culinary skills and earn a wage. They also work with employment specialists.

Tulsa County Sheriff

Tulsa Community College will offer a corrections certificate starting this fall.

It’s the result of a partnership with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, and the coursework focuses on psychology, addiction and mental health. TCSO spokeswoman Casey Roebuck said they want to lower turnover among detention officers.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma House Democrats will host a public meeting on the state budget Aug. 3.

With some late-session revenue measures facing legal challenges, they want to negotiate a contingency plan.

"We have some concerns that if any of these court challenges with the Supreme Court come to fruition and they get thrown out that that's going to leave a hole in the already very tight budget," said Rep. Steve Kouplen.

Tulsa’s iconic Meadow Gold neon sign on Route 66 was restored to its former glory almost nine months ago, and three long-gone signs west of the Arkansas River will soon make a comeback.

Those are just the start.

"The next big neon project on Route 66 is to try to reach out to all of the property owners and start getting some of the smaller neon signs restored — and maybe getting some more new neon — and really creating, you know, a whole corridor of fantastic signage," said Tulsa Route 66 Commission member Amanda DeCort.

Braun Ambulances

Broken Arrow Fire Department now has a seventh ambulance in service.

Chief Jeremy Moore said he’s been working with the city council for several months to get it for Fire Station 7, which opened in January 2016 on Elm Place north of 101st Street with only a fire truck.

KWGS News File Photo

Frontier Airlines announced a big expansion Tuesday that will bring it back to Tulsa after a seven-year absence.

The airline is adding 21 cities and 85 routes to its network, with service for some starting as soon as October.

"Their Tulsa service, though, will come on board this spring, and they'll be providing nonstop service to three destinations: Denver, Orlando and San Diego," said Tulsa International Airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins.

Frontier's flight schedules for Tulsa should be loaded sometime this fall.

Governor Fallin

Gov. Mary Fallin got a national stage Tuesday to tout Oklahoma’s work to stop sending so many women to prison.

Fallin was the keynote speaker at Women Unshackled, a forum to address female incarceration hosted by the Justice Action Network. Fallin said risk screenings to get nonviolent women out of prison and into local programs proved successful enough to expand them to county jails.

State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Speaker Charles McCall has replaced the House Appropriations and Budget chair the day after a public disagreement over Department of Human Services funding.

In an email Tuesday to some members, McCall said Rep. Leslie Osborn will be replaced by her vice chair, Kevin Wallace.

Members,

I wanted you to be the first to know that I have replaced Rep. Osborn as Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee.

KWGS News

Saying he’s tired of ongoing jail cost negotiations with the City of Tulsa, Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo has another go at settling the matter.

Smaligo proposes multiplying the per capita cost for Broken Arrow to run its jail, $8.78, by Tulsa’s population to determine what the city should pay to use the county jail.

"$8.78 for every man, woman and child in the City of Tulsa comes to $3.5 million, which I think is absolutely reasonable. It's an apples-to-apples comparison," Smaligo said.

Jail Visiting Days Reduced

Jul 17, 2017
TCSO

In an effort to save money, the Tulsa Jail will trim the number of jail visitation days from six to two.

Starting next month, visitation will be allowed Sunday and Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Currently, visitation is 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for half the jail, and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for the other half.

"We analyzed 25 other jails and 19 other prisons ... every one of them, I believe — with the exception of one — had visitation for two days, so this is nothing new," said Sheriff Vic Regalado.

Oklahoma programs to prevent teen pregnancy will lose $3.9 million dollars in federal funding each of the next two years after the Trump administration suddenly decided to end early five-year grants supporting such programs nationwide.

Youth Services Tulsa Executive Director David Grewe said Oklahoma’s teen birth rate has gone from 50 per thousand in 2010 to 35 per thousand — still the second-highest in the U.S.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

Charges have been filed against the man who fatally shot a 15-year-old after the boy and his adult cousin allegedly stole fireworks from him on the Fourth of July.

Johnny Mize, 32, is charged with first-degree manslaughter. District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler alleges Mize shot Jake Ulrich in anger or that he did so unnecessarily during the theft.

According to an earlier account from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, shots were exchanged before Ulrich and his 27-year-old cousin, Jack, drove away from the fireworks stand near 65th West Avenue and Charles Page Boulevard.

Tulsa Police

Less than two months after she was acquitted of manslaughter and returned to work, Officer Betty Jo Shelby is resigning from the Tulsa Police Department.

Shelby issued a statement today through the Tulsa chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. She said her desk job makes her feel isolated from her fellow officers and the citizens of Tulsa.

Shelby has been at TPD in that capacity since being reinstated in late May.

Tulsa Flag

City councilors have balked at a vote to adopt the winner of a citizen-led campaign to adopt a new Tulsa flag.

After surveys, design solicitations and an expert panel, the one with blue and beige fields above and below a gold Native American shield with a red circle and beige star in its center got more than half the 8,000 votes on the three finalists.

City of Tulsa/Tulsa Transit

City and transit officials unveiled branding and design concepts Thursday for the bus rapid transit line along Peoria Avenue.

It will be known as Aero. The name and design concepts are meant to call back to Tulsa being in the vanguard of the aerospace industry and a center for Art Deco architecture. Mayor G.T. Bynum said he loves the branding.

Facebook

The man accused of bombing a Bixby Air Force Recruiting Station has been charged.

Federal prosecutors say Benjamin Roden holds a grudge against that branch of the military. Roden was arraigned Wednesday on felony charges related to Monday night’s explosion. Acting U.S. Attorney Loretta Radford said the former senior airman discovered he couldn't complete the training needed to become an Air Force electrician.

Facebook

The FBI has made an arrest in connection with a Monday night explosion at the Air Force recruiting office in Bixby.

"We can confirm that we have taken into custody a person of interest in regard to the bombing at the USAF Recruiting Center last night," the FBI Oklahoma City office said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. 

In custody is 28-year-old Benamin Roden of Tulsa. He was arrested at the Sand Dollar Apartments near 61st and South Riverside.

On his Face Book page, he had posted about being upset with the government over his lack of employment.

Trip Advisor

With a feeling that momentum is building to draw business and tourism to Tulsa's stretch of Route 66, the commission acting as the Mother Road's main booster may look for more power.

City Councilor Blake Ewing said at a Tuesday meeting it makes sense to transition the Tulsa Route 66 Commission into a Route 66 authority.

"An authority can own assets, and so if we look into the long-term objectives of Route 66 and we're thinking about developing land along the corridor and those kinds of things, I think an authority is the best framework," Ewing said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The FBI says an explosion Monday night at an Air Force recruiting station in the Tulsa suburb of Bixby is not currently being considered an act of terrorism.

That’s despite an earlier statement from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that it was being treated as an act of domestic terror "out of an abundance of caution" because it happened at a military facility. The FBI is in charge of the investigation.

Robert Scoble

The state’s top transportation official said Monday lawmakers’ approval this past session of additional fees on hybrid and electric cars was the right move.

"At the time, we knew that Tesla had already presold 400,000 units of their new Model 3. That's to go with everyone else's electric vehicles that are already in the market, but then Volvo announced ... that by 2019, all their vehicles will be either hybrid or electric," Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Mike Patterson told the ODOT Commission.

Cherokee Nation Welcome Center

Full-time employees of Cherokee Nation will now get five days of additional paid leave if they become foster parents.

Chief Bill John Baker said the new policy is in response to a problem they noticed among new foster families.

"They get the kids, and then all of a sudden, they've got to start taking sick leave or vacation pay or whatever to get them to their doctor appointments or to get them into daycare or into a school," Baker said. "It just takes time to get those things done."

The days may be taken at any time during the first year after placement.

File photo

The 2016–2017 flu season is now Oklahoma’s second-deadliest on record.

A State Health Department death certificate review this week added 14 deaths that happened between February and April to the totals.

"We have 2,394 hospitalizations that have been reported for the season, and we have 110 deaths," said epidemiologist Kendra Dougherty. "And I don't anticipate that the number of deaths will increase much, if at all, unless there's just several other late reports that we find."

The 2014–2015 flu season was Oklahoma’s deadliest on record, with 115 people dying.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After tackling zoning code and subdivision regulation updates, Tulsa city planners turn their attention to landscape regulations.

"If we're talking about landscape requirements, they're going to be things like how many trees are in your parking lot or what kind of screening you provide," said Planning Director Dawn Warrick.

The city’s landscape regulations are largely for developers or for public projects.

The updated regulations will support the Tulsa Urban Forest Master Plan from Up With Trees.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A few weeks after a long-term soft drink contract derailed plans for the new USA BMX headquarters at the fairgrounds, city officials announced Wednesday a new site has been chosen.

Evans Fintube is now the preferred site. Mayor G.T. Bynum said there will be a complete overhaul of the 22-acre former steel foundry over the next couple years.

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