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

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.

Tulsa Transit

Three public workshops are coming up for Tulsans to weigh in on decisions affecting land use along a future Peoria Avenue rapid bus route.

Tulsa Transit’s Debbie Ruggles said public transportation and land use are married to each other.

"The more you have density, the higher the density, more mixed-use development, businesses closer to the street, sidewalks — all of those things make for higher transit ridership," Ruggles said.

Bus rapid transit service on the nearly 13-mile route should start in 2020. There will be 36 permanent stations.

Google Earth

The expert studying how pedestrian-friendly downtown Tulsa is will also make some traffic recommendations, and that could mean more congestion within the IDL.

"When I talk about congestion for vehicles, it's going to be increased. That's just the plan," said City Engineer Paul Zachary. "But the whole idea is, is to slow the traffic down, and that, in turn, results in a safer pedestrian environment as well as a bicycle environment."

City of Tulsa

The "live" piece of a Vision-funded teacher recruitment effort known as Teach, Live T-Town may not be forgotten after all.

Tulsa's Vision sales tax renewal included $10 million for the initiative. Jenks, Union and Tulsa district officials recently indicated they prefer using that money for training rather than housing.

But city councilors say training might soon be funded by other sources, like a proposed penny sales tax. That has several councilors — including G.T. Bynum, David Patrick and Phil Lakin — again thinking housing is the way to go.

Matt Trotter

Workers made a costly mistake on a new Tulsa Zoo exhibit that will house rare Asian animals.

A surveying error meant the floors of the 3 acre Lost Kingdom exhibit were initially set low enough that buildings could flood. Though the error was caught in time to be fixed, it caused several other problems, like walkways not meeting requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tulsa’s parks department wraps up a years-long accreditation process by getting the stamp of approval.

The entire process through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, or CAPRA, took five years. Parks Director Lucy Dolman said hers is just the 152nd agency to get CAPRA accreditation.

"Out of 10,000 recreation agencies throughout the country, and so we're really proud of that, because we're the first in Oklahoma," Dolman said.

The process took a long time because it started off with writing a new master plan, which took two years.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

An East Central Junior High teacher is this year's recipient of a classroom makeover.

Eighth-grade algebra teacher Emily Partridge walked into a freshly painted room Monday with a now-permanent number line, an upgrade from one she hand-wrote on note cards.

Partridge said a big chalkboard wall will get students out of their seats for better learning.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Northeastern State University has joined the recent movement away from Columbus Day to a recognition of tribes around the world.

A proclamation issued Monday by NSU President Steve Turner capped the approximately year-long effort to have NSU celebrate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day.

Center for Tribal Studies Director Sara Barnett said not only did the explorer never set foot in the present-day U.S., he brought slavery and disease to the Americas.

Google Maps

North Tulsa residents will be asked to weigh in on potential redevelopment projects near Emerson Elementary.

Tulsa Development Authority received two proposals for property across Latimer Street from the school and wants neighborhood associations to review them.

One calls for 134 units of affordable senior housing. Patricia Williams presented the proposal to TDA and said it will be a mixed-use project.

HUD OIG

An audit of federal disaster recovery funds given to Oklahoma says the state failed to comply with requirements for managing the money.

Out of $93.7 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds awarded for disasters from 2011 to 2013, $11.7 million in obligations weren’t properly documented. Of that amount, $4.3 million was already spent and may have to be paid back.

Will Nixon with Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General said state officials had only obligated about half the funding when the audit began.

Oklahoma is one of 10 states targeted for an initiative to feed more students breakfast.

Partners for Breakfast In the Classroom has a $7.5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to work with districts and schools. Spokesman Scott DiMauro said they'll get funding to buy equipment needed to serve breakfast in classrooms rather than cafeterias.

"By getting this investment in their equipment, [schools] are able to leverage federal resources to make sure that more of their students are being fed," DiMauro said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Ballpark-adjacent land in downtown Tulsa is back up for grabs.

Tulsa Development Authority is again calling for redevelopment proposals for the northwest corner of Archer and Elgin, across the street from ONEOK Field.

TDA got proposals in June for a nine-story, mixed-use office development and for the long-awaited OKPOP Museum. The authority had terminated a 2013 agreement to sell the land in April after granting five extensions to the developer to provide proof he could pay for his project.

Work on a Peoria Avenue rapid bus route is set to pick back up soon.

Tulsa Transit’s Debbie Ruggles said they and the City of Tulsa have set a date with architecture firm HNTB to start planning work on dozens of new and improved stations that will be needed.

"That date is set for Oct. 17, so we'll work really quickly begin on that. We've all been waiting anxiously for that to begin," Ruggles said.

Guthrie Green

Tulsa is home to one of the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America for 2016.

Guthrie Green made the list of APA's Great Public Spaces. APA President Carol Rhea said they were impressed by how Guthrie Green reclaimed a large industrial site in need of environmental remediation.

"It took not only an unused space, but one that was dragging the neighborhood down, and turned it into one that has attracted thousands of people to the neighborhood and is, in that way, helping to economically empower and raise the entire area," Rhea said.

City of Tulsa

Thirty years ago this week, the Arkansas River crested at its highest level ever, 25.2 feet, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened Keystone Dam’s floodgates so it wouldn’t overflow.

A total of 20 inches of early fall rain forced the release. Mayor Dewey Bartlett said subsequent improvements to Tulsa’s stormwater system meant to prevent that sort of flooding were tested during similar storms last year.

Tulsa Police

A white police officer charged with manslaughter after fatally shooting an unarmed black man in Tulsa has pleaded not guilty.

Betty Shelby’s arraignment, which came two weeks to the day after Terence Crutcher died, was brief, though courthouse security was increased for it.

Shelby’s attorney actually tried having her first court appearance moved up a day, citing safety concerns and worry about professional protesters coming to town. That request was denied, but the Tulsa County Sheriff took the unusual step of limiting the number of reporters allowed into the courtroom.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After a three-year closure for a top-to-bottom, inside and out renovation, Tulsa’s Central Library reopens Saturday at 11 a.m.

The makeover hasn’t been just about looks. Tulsa City-County Library CEO Gary Shaffer promised patrons are getting a 21st Century library out of the $50 million overhaul.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A Tulsa city councilor took other city officials to task this week over city employees' health plans.

In a committee meeting, Councilor Anna America told city administrators non-public safety employees were told to explore all insurance options this year, even SoonerCare. She said employees making less than $30,000 have deductibles nearing $7,000, and one employee complained costs for their family plan doubled since last year to $10,000.

10th Circuit Court

A Tulsa probate attorney faces federal charges after allegedly taking more than half a million dollars from 11 estates he represented.

IRS special agent Damon Rowe said Christopher Mansfield was expected to uphold the law and serve his clients with integrity.

"Mr. Mansfield was entrusted by grieving families to handle the estates of their family members. He was entrusted with the money of those estates, and he was supposed to dispense that money in the clients' best interest. This didn't happen," Rowe said.

PSO

The University of Tulsa is home to one of Oklahoma’s largest — if not the largest — rooftop solar power installations.

A partnership between TU and PSO helped put a 936 panel, 300 kilowatt system on the roof of the Case Tennis Center to power the building. It can generate the same amount of energy as 75 residential rooftop installations.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa's city council takes up a resolution in apparent opposition to State Question 777, the "right to farm" measure.

Constituent Services Director and Sand Springs Vice Mayor John Fothergill said city councils don’t often take positions on issues.

"And this one is more to ask that the citizens take a look at all the potential consequences rather than to advocate a position, per se, but if you ask us individually, I think you'd get a different answer," Fothergill said.

Tens of thousands of breath tests used in hearings to revoke Oklahoma driver's licenses after DUIs are invalid.

The problem lies with testing machines used throughout the state.

"The issues in this case, specifically, was the canister and the mouthpiece. They were not properly approved, so they were using unapproved equipment," said attorney Bruce Edge.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Protesters demanding justice for Terence Crutcher march to Tulsa's city hall.

The demonstration is part of a day of justice called for last week by Crutcher's family, their attorneys and Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton was on hand to lead the march. He praised Tulsa police for releasing video of the shooting but said there are two more steps to take.

"We need to know why all of the police there — what is going to be the disciplinary action there? I want to know what is going to be done for his four children," Sharpton said.

Courtesy Tulsa County

Tulsa County has hired Manhattan Construction to oversee work on the new Family Justice Center.

County Commissioners approved an agreement with the firm Monday. Commissioner Karen Keith called the move a big step.

"We've got a really good team to work with, and we're thinking October or December of [2018]," Keith said in regards to the project's completion date.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The attorney for Terence Crutcher’s widow believes there should be more video of his death at the hands of a Tulsa police officer.

According to a TPD policy manual, officers are able to trigger dash cam video recording five different ways, including by pressing a button on a microphone worn on their duty belts or elsewhere. Attorney Dan Smolen wants to know why there’s no video from Officer Betty Shelby’s car when she was there two minutes before anyone else.

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