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

A new blueprint could help state lawmakers decide whether certain jobs need government-issued licenses.

"Most people would assume that a doctor would be a public safety concern and need to have a license from the state, but when you get into things like hair braiding, that might not have as high a level of potential danger to the public," said Labor Commissioner Melissa Houston.

Tulsa County Sheriff

Tulsa County approved an agreement Monday that will keep sheriff’s office dispatchers in the city’s 911 center another year.

Sheriff Vic Regalado said the city and county have simply renewed last year’s rental agreement, which will see the county pay $186,533.

"Our 911 center is ready to go, and it's funded through E911 funding; however, it's located in the training center, which is not complete," Regalado said.

Local pilots grounded because they’re behind on training can catch up Saturday and prepare for a flight review.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is hosting a Rusty Pilots seminar at R.L. Jones Jr. Airport to go over things like taxi and airport diagrams and new federal regulations. Tulsa Community College assistant professor in aviation sciences Austin Walden said while certificates don’t expire, sometimes pilots miss the training required at least every two years to keep flying.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter isn’t the only one suing the makers of opioid painkillers.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the costs of the opioid epidemic are too great for her city to bear, so Dayton became the first Ohio city to sue drug makers.

Bixby High School students who want to park on campus will now have to submit to a drug test.

"Our ultimate goal is to try to educate and discourage and limit kids from using alcohol and illegal drugs," said Principal Terry Adams.

The test costs $25. The new policy is an expansion of Bixby High School's drug testing requirement for extracurricular activities, and Adams said any student in an extracurricular activity will have already paid that fee and taken the required drug test.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A marathon discussion on temporarily banning new dollar stores in Tulsa ended with no action by the city council Thursday night.

District One Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper wants the six-month moratorium. She says that will allow enough time to find a permanent solution to dollar stores crowding out healthier grocery stores in north Tulsa.

The permanent solution would likely be in the form of spacing requirements added to the city zoning code.

KWGS News

Former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby is now Rogers County Reserve Deputy Betty Shelby.

Shelby was sworn in Thursday at the Rogers County Courthouse.

"I will continue to serve the great state of Oklahoma and strive to improve the relationships between law enforcement agencies, organizations and our community through education and community involvement," Shelby said.

Shelby returned to TPD at a desk job in May after being acquitted of manslaughter in the on-duty shooting of Terence Crutcher.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The first day of school is less than two weeks away, and the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance is making sure teachers are equipped for hands-on science, technology, engineering and math lessons.

Emily Mortimer with the STEM alliance says their free STEM Shoppe has a variety of goods teachers can take or borrow.

City of Tulsa

A Tulsa city councilor has the support of a majority of her colleagues for a plan to put Vision's public safety tax revenue in a legal lockbox.

Councilor Karen Gilbert wants voters to approve a charter change saying that revenue is off-limits for annual budget building. An ordinance that can be changed by a council and mayor currently governs the revenue.

Gilbert said voters in 2016 wanted a public safety tax that would pay for an additional 160 cops and 65 firefighters, and future voters should be the ones to make changes to the tax.

File Photo

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments today in legal challenges that have the potential to cut nearly $400 million from the current state budget.

The court allotted an hour to each of three cases, which involve a total of four bills passed by the legislature this session.

Opponents say the bills are unconstitutional tax increases because they were passed during the last five days of session without three-fourths majorities in both chambers of the legislature. One of the four bills originated in the Senate, giving its opponents an additional point to argue.

Oklahoma joins a handful of other states relying on U.S. Geological Survey computers to figure out which bridges to inspect after an earthquake.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says the USGS ShakeCast system will save time and money. Engineer Steve Jacoby said the way ODOT used to do it meant all bridges in a 50-mile radius of Prague were inspected after a 5.6 magnitude shaker in 2011.

PSO

It’s taken a lot of work, but PSO says almost everyone’s power will be back on by 11 p.m.

"We, at last count, had approximately 125 poles in that one concentrated area in the 41st Street corridor that all had to be replaced, so that's just an indicator of how much damage there was right in that one area," said PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford.

file photo

Whether it tore off roofs, broke windows or ripped through walls, at last count, Sunday’s EF-2 tornado damaged 173 businesses in the Tulsa metro area.

If they’re being repaired, some workers could be without a job while that happens. Those that choose to apply for unemployment benefits may end up being paid less than what they earned at work.

Post-disaster job placement isn’t typically what Workforce Tulsa does, but the job-placement organization is ready to help.

Monday's top stories:

  • Tulsa's emergency manager says Sunday's storm intensified and moved too quickly to sound tornado sirens in time.
  • As cleanup from the tornado continues, the Tulsa Police Department warns people to be wary of insurance scams.
  • Climate-wise, this is a far from normal August.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tornado sirens were not sounded in Tulsa ahead of an EF-2 tornado early Sunday because the storm that spawned it intensified and moved too quickly.

Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Roger Jolliff confirmed Sunday afternoon the city's system of 98 tornado sirens was silent ahead of the tornado touching down because the storm passed into Broken Arrow in the time it took to confirm the tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service.

The weather service issued the tornado warning at 1:25 a.m.

Karen Gilbert

An EF-2 tornado struck midtown Tulsa overnight, injuring more than a dozen people and causing power outages and damage to businesses.

No deaths are reported following storms that struck shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday.

At least 13 people were taken to hospitals, two with life-threatening injuries.

A survey team with the National Weather Service in Tulsa was sent Sunday morning to determine whether severe thunderstorms did, in fact, spawn a tornado. After about two hours, the surveyors confirmed an EF-2 tornado had hit.

File photo

Oklahoma’s annual sales tax holiday is underway, but it may not be as good a deal as you think.

Gene Perry with Oklahoma Policy Institute said a common belief is sales tax holidays mean an overall economic boost from people buying more.

"It doesn't encourage people to buy more than they otherwise would have, it just shifts when they buy it, obviously, to the time when they don't need to be paying sales tax," Perry said.

OutdoorsOK.com

The Illinois River basin is booming, and the resulting development and land use near the river has led to more frequent and bigger floods.

"Of the records that have been set for flooding in the Illinois River basin, they've all been accomplished since 2015," said Grand River Dam Authority Vice President of Scenic Rivers and Water Quality Ed Fite.

GRDA expects the Oklahoma Conservation Commission to approve $500,000 next week for a program to counter erosion along the Illinois River. The voluntary conservation easement program pays landowners $75 per acre for 30 years.

Lyft

It’s now much easier to find your Lyft driver at Tulsa International Airport.

Lyft is the first ride-hailing service to reach an agreement with the airport for a designated pickup spot on the arrivals road. Airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins said that will solve problems for travelers — even those not using Lyft.

In the news Friday:

  • Tulsa city councilors work on a way to keep future city officials from reallocating Vision funding for public safety.
  • Experts investigate the latest series of earthquakes near Edmond.
  • A program to help pregnant teens going back nearly 50 years closes.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa City Councilor Karen Gilbert is leading a charge to put Vision funding dedicated to public safety in a legal lockbox.

"Voters did approve this, and so I just want make sure that we stick to our word with this funding to those departments, police and fire, and making sure that we get to our goal to getting up to authorized strength," Gilbert said.

When voters approved the public safety tax, they also approved — whether or not they realized it — an ordinance saying it be spent to hire and equip 160 cops and 65 firefighters.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A city councilor's attempt to put a pause on new dollar stores in north Tulsa looks unlikely to succeed.

District 1 Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper wants a six-month ban on new discount stores. She said they're crowding out full-service grocery stores — and, therefore, healthier food — in her community.

"With business, it's location, location, location. So, if all the key locations are taken, common sense tells you that that's going to pose a problem if a grocery store wants to come in," Hall-Harper said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa fire stations are the drop off spots for a school supply drive to help out Tulsa Public Schools teachers.

City Councilor Karen Gilbert said teachers who struggle to make ends meet often buy their own classroom supplies, and their classes are only getting bigger right now.

"We are wanting to relieve some of that stress and help our teachers with supplies in their classrooms," Gilbert said.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said the most-needed item is white board erasers.

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.

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