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

City of Broken Arrow

Rate increases could be in store for Broken Arrow utility customers as the city looks to fund repairs and additions to its water and sewer system.

The increase will likely be combined with around $50 million in bonds voters will be asked to approve by early 2018.

Flaherty and Collins

While it’s still not a done deal, an agreement that would bring a grocery store to downtown Tulsa takes a big step forward.

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust has agreed to negotiate terms with an Indiana-based developer to sell the PAC-owned parking lot at Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue. Flaherty and Collins will pay $5.5 million lot, which it’s eyeing for a 12-story mixed-use development. Plans include 240 apartment units and a 32,000 square foot Reasor's.

  Studio Tulsa broadcast with proponents

Criminal justice reform is a popular issue lately in Oklahoma.

Earlier this year, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a slate of bills aimed at reducing the populations of the state's overcrowded prisons and keeping more Oklahomans from having a felony on their records.

Tulsa Community College hosts a college preview day Saturday.

It’s being called the Big Blue Blitz, and they’ll be answering all the questions potential students and their parents might have.

"Even in the age of internet and social media, and students can receive information from multiple options these days, it's always good to have that hands-on experience and actually be able to meet people who are dedicated to helping students transition," Harris said.

There will be sessions for parents who may not speak English.

The entity that manages Oklahoma’s tobacco settlement hires a new leader.

John Woods will start as executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust later this month.

"He is currently the president and CEO of the Norman Chamber of Commerce and previously worked as a policy advisor for the Speaker of the House," said TSET spokeswoman Julie Bisbee. "[He] also has experience with congressional representatives here in Oklahoma, including Tom Cole."

The Nature Conservancy

If you’re not thrilled about Oklahoma’s redesigned license plate featuring a scissor-tailed flycatcher, there’s an option featuring another iconic animal.

"This design features a silhouette of a bison, along with kind of a red sunset background, and then 'Pioneers of the Prairie' as the tagline, which is really appropriate for bison, as they're pioneers of prairie restoration in the world of conservation," said Katie Hawk with the Nature Conservancy.

Fees for the special-interest tag, which are in addition to normal state tag fees, are $38.

In the news today:

  • State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and four of her 2014 campaign staffers face felony charges over illegal contributions and conspiracy.
  • The Oklahoma Corporation Commission takes action on nearly 40 disposal wells near Pawnee.
  • Early voting in Tulsa starts with long lines.
Wikipedia

A couple citizens are tired of Tulsa’s dull city flag and are starting a campaign to design a new one.

The current flag is a white background behind the city seal — a T under an arrowhead on a gold field with an oil derrick on the T’s left and water on its right. Joey Wignarajah isn’t fond of the design.

"When you look at it 100 feet up on a flagpole, you can't tell what's on it. It's not recognizable from afar," Wignarajah said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A diverse group known as the Oklahoma Stewardship Council is making a final case against State Question 777.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sarah Hill said even though the so-called "right to farm" constitutional amendment will not be law on tribal lands, it will affect them.

"We are neighbors with Oklahoma, so, of course, what happens in Oklahoma dramatically affects life in the Cherokee Nation," Hill said. "This is natural resources. They don't discriminate based on boundaries."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tiny houses are increasing in popularity, and that has Tulsa officials wondering how to deal with them.

There’s no exact definition of a tiny house in Tulsa’s zoning code, and that presents a problem for people interested in the trend. Depending upon how they’re built, tiny homes can be classified as single-family, manufactured, mobile or park homes.

Tulsa City-County Library

Tulsa City-County Library unveils another shiny, new thing.

Just a month ago, library CEO Gary Shaffer was on hand to open the newly renovated Central Library in downtown Tulsa.

"But, as you know, there are many people that can't make it to a library, either because of disability, mobility issues, transportation issues — so, we felt it important to also introduce a new bookmobile at the same time," Shaffer said.

KWGS News

From bad to worse — that’s how an analysis of pavement conditions across the U.S. describes Oklahoma roads.

A new report based on 2014 data from transportation researchers TRIP says 49 percent of Tulsa roads and 53 percent of Oklahoma City roads are in poor condition. The group's report earlier this year using 2013 data on pavement conditions had 45 percent of roads in both cities in poor condition.

Economic development leaders say Oklahoma needs certain financial incentives and more mindful legislation if it’s going to attract new businesses and help grow existing ones.

In an interim study on Oklahoma’s economy, House members were told to be methodical in eliminating tax incentives. Brien Thorstenberg with the Tulsa Regional Chamber said a five-year property tax abatement is pushing along two Tulsa-area deals worth a combined investment of $1.7 billion and 5,500 jobs.

City of Tulsa

Oklahoma’s world-leading female incarceration rate is a problem 20 years in the making, but Tulsa community leaders are ready to tackle it.

They gathered Friday at a public safety summit, the last hosted by Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Sticker shock — that’s what some people getting Tulsa handicap parking tickets have been experiencing.

Almost three years ago, Tulsa city councilors increased the fine for handicap parking violations from $150 to $500 dollars. It turns out several disabled people have been hit with the steeper fine. District 2 Councilor Jeannie Cue has received a few calls recently from cited constituents.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Mental health professionals and community leaders begin a comprehensive study to improve Tulsa’s mental health system.

"Tulsa will be a place where the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness is appropriate and available to all who need it," said Zarrow Family Foundations Executive Director Bill Major.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City councilors are working to adopt several changes to Tulsa’s building codes.

The updates deal with one- and two-family dwellings, manufactured homes and swimming pools. Most are not substantive changes — and in some cases, it’s something already on the books but worded differently — but Building Official Yuen Ho said if the city doesn’t adopt them, its rating with insurers will slip.

City of Tulsa

After nearly a year and a half of delays, a new citizen reporting system is live in Tulsa.

The launch was delayed by various software problems. The bugs got so bad, the company the city bought the new system from flew in its two best engineers from the U.K.

Customer Care Center Director Michael Radoff said all of those problems are finally resolved.

"We got what we set out to get and it's doing what we wanted it to do, so I feel like we really did our job, and I feel good about the value we got out of it," Radoff said.

File Photo

Oklahoma is among the leaders halfway through the transition to new federal education law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, is replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10, 2015, and all U.S. schools must comply for the 2017–2018 school year.

"Oklahoma is our shining model that's taking place right now and what they're doing to get it right for their students," said National Education Association President Lily Eskelen-Garcia. "It's not easy. It's not perfect."

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Turkey Mountain is the place to be Saturday if you ever wanted to learn more about Oklahoma’s 12 million-plus acres of forest.

Jerí Irby with Oklahoma Forestry Services says many people don’t know the state has that much forest or the forest’s economic benefit to the state.

"It adds over $2 billion to our state's economy every year, so it's important for the people of Oklahoma to know what their forests are and how they help them," Irby said.

Foresters are conservationists first, and stops along the hike will reflect that.

File photo

State lawmakers are looking at consolidating some of Oklahoma’s 27 district attorney districts.

Suzanne McClain Atwood with the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council told lawmakers the state’s 324 prosecutors average 359 new cases a year, which is on top of cases carried over from the previous year.

A lot of money is being thrown around for TV ads on some of Oklahoma’s state questions ahead of next month’s election.

As of Monday, groups have spent just less than $3 million to air nearly 3,800 ads. Ben Wieder tracks ballot measure spending for the Center for Public Integrity. He said this sort of outlay isn’t uncommon.

"This year already, spending on ballot measures in California has topped $100 million," Wieder said. "But certainly, Oklahoma is seeing a lot of activity and seeing more activity than some of its neighbors."

Starting in January, cash will no longer be accepted for tolls on the Creek Turnpike at the Peoria and Elm interchanges.

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is switching to license plate scanners, so drivers who don’t have a PikePass will also be able to drive right on through the toll gates. Those drivers will be mailed an invoice in about five business days.

"It increases our safety factor at a toll booth like this, where we don't have motorists who have to stop and look for change," said OTA spokesman Jack Damrill.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A downtown Tulsa soup kitchen is again planning to move, a little more than a year after a previous relocation was denied.

Iron Gate has its sights set on a vacant lot at Seventh Street and Frankfort Avenue. It currently operates out of Trinity Episcopal Church at Fifth Street and Cincinnati Avenue.

The organization has quietly raised $9 million to build a new facility with a bigger kitchen, dining room and warehouse. Executive Director Connie Cronley said Iron Gate’s current home has a dining room that seats only 127 guests.

Covanta

Broken Arrow is the latest city to direct its trash to a renewable energy facility in Tulsa.

Broken Arrow has a contract with Covanta starting Dec. 1 to bring trash to the incinerator rather than a landfill. About 40,000 tons of trash will go there over the rest of this fiscal year.

City General Services Director Lee Zirk said taking trash to Covanta has a couple advantages.

"We will substantially reduce our costs by taking our refuse there. Also, it's a very sustainable way to dispose of the refuse, and it generates energy as well," Zirk said.

City of Sand Springs

Local leaders in Sand Springs broke ground Tuesday on an overhaul of one of their oldest parks.

River City Park is getting a $6.3 million dollar makeover. Jeff Edwards in Sand Springs' parks department says $4.3 million came from Vision 2025, and $2 million came from philanthropist Mike Case.

"Which, you know, launched the project into a new level," Edwards said. "There's a lot of things we wouldn't have been able to achieve without that donation."

Plans include new baseball fields, a tournament soccer field, playgrounds and a large green space.

A lot has changed since 1987, the year the Metropolitan Environmental Trust was founded, but the mission of Tulsa’s main recycling group has not.

Now, that’s about to change, too.

Trustees of The M.e.t. are working on a new mission statement to show the broad range of environmental issues it's involved in.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Democratic candidate for Tulsa County Sheriff Rex Berry isn’t giving up on the race, but he sees winning the election as a long shot.

Berry is not withdrawing from the race, but three weeks from election day he’s giving several recommendations for the sheriff's office, presumably for Republican candidate Vic Regalado.

Berry wants all contracts put on hold until the votes have been counted and said that shouldn’t cause too many delays.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

When Northeastern State University celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day for the first time last week, they invited longtime native rights activist Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation to speak.

She said Native Americans have recently begun to reassert themselves after centuries of being forced to see themselves as less than human, and she urged fellow Native Americans to begin a process of decolonization.

A group of local teens gave up a day off from school Saturday to prepare for big roles in a public health campaign.

The Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is hosting a retreat for its 17-member youth leadership council. Education and Health Initiatives Director Heather Duvall said the 14- to 18-year-olds applied for the council and will serve as the youth voice to the campaign.

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