Matt Trotter


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

Collision prevention systems will soon be on all Tulsa Transit buses, but it’s costing a bit more than expected.

There are 21 fixed-route buses left to install Mobileye systems on. This week’s transit board agenda asked them to approve $12,000 for the work, but they approved up to $33,000.

Tulsa Transit General Manager Bill Cartwright said the supplier’s installation estimate was below the installer’s actual rate.

Tulsa Police hope they’ll have new tools soon to fight illegal scrap metal sales.

The problem isn’t with well-known dealers, which are often connected to steel corporations.

"They really have no interest in the illegal purchase of that kind of material to shut down their billion-dollar business," said TPD Cpl. Jason Muse. "What we're talking about when we talk about the illegal guys are just the mom-and-pop stores that pop up in the metro area or the people who will buy metal illegally and then try to go resell it."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Helmerich Park’s designation under new Arkansas River corridor zoning regulations is being reviewed.

City councilors are partly following a planning commission recommendation from two weeks ago to take the park out of the river design overlay and reconsider its RDO-2 designation, which allows some development. Rather than take out the entire parcel Helmerich Park sits on as the commission recommended, councilors are isolating the park amenities and some adjacent land.

Anna America is among those wanting it to have the RDO-1, or parks, designation.

Tulsa Transit

Tulsa Transit buses were less busy than expected last month.

The agency projected 262,000 fixed-route rides for July but only had 216,000. That’s an 18 percent difference, and it represents a 16 percent drop from last July.

Transit board Chairman Marquay Baul said the situation is not dire.

Route 66 News

The new commission charged with promoting business and tourism along Route 66 in Tulsa met for the first time Tuesday.

The 15-member Tulsa Route 66 Commission established five standing committees. Newly elected commission chair Ken Busby said starting out, their marketing committee's work will be the most important because it will concentrate on tourism.

Nico Gomez

The head of the state’s Medicaid program is on his way out.

Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez is resigning effective Sept. 30. Gomez has been at the authority for 16 years, serving as CEO for the past three and a half.

In a letter to the health care authority’s board, Gomez indicated he’s looking for work in the private sector.

A new partnership will bolster efforts to battle childhood cancer in Oklahoma.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust is part of a $2.2 million upfront investment to support three new researchers, expanded clinical trials and a research fund for pediatric cancer at OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center.

OU Pediatric Oncology Chair Dr. William Meyer said TSET is also allocating up to $1 million a year from an existing grant to the hospital to increase treatment access for kids.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Private school renovations — even multimillion dollar ones — don’t usually make news, but one in Owasso is.

Rejoice Schools' new campus includes storm shelters to accommodate almost 1,700 people. That's all 965 students in preschool through 12th grade, plus about 700 more people.The elementary and middle school gyms are built to withstand EF5 tornadoes.

Flaherty and Collins

If you think all downtown Tulsa is missing is a grocery store, well, the ball is rolling.

The Performing Arts Center Trust is considering a proposal by Indiana-based developer Flaherty and Collins to build a retail and residential project anchored by a 32,000 square foot Reasor's on the PAC-owned parking lot at Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Margaritaville casino and restaurant are now open at River Spirit Casino Resort.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief James Floyd said the tribe was given the land it stands upon in the 1830s because it was thought to be worthless for farming, ranching or building.

"However, decades of leadership have held this land as a great asset for our people," Floyd said. "We've nurtured it, and we've preserved it. Today, we're standing on what can only be described as 'upeckv,' which means a dream."

New ACT numbers show participation is up and scores are down on the college readiness test in Oklahoma.

The percentage of graduates meeting English, reading, math and science benchmarks fell from 22 to 21 percent, and the average composite score dropped from 20.7 to 20.4. Steffie Corcoran with the Oklahoma State Department of Education said that’s probably because participation increased by about 15,000 students.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

With less than two weeks until Labor Day, teams are putting the final touches on their vessels for Tulsa’s Great Raft Race — including several octogenarians.

Residents of Montereau Retirement Community will be on the water. Wellness Director Kristen Schooley is tasked with keeping residents active and engaged, and she likes to think outside the box.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt says after review, a new law allows breweries to sell you beer to take home and to drink there.

ABLE Commission Director A. Keith Burt said while he knew Senate Bill 424 would allow breweries to sell six-packs and growlers, he wasn’t sure it allowed them to serve on site.

"Because it didn't say on-premise consumption," Burt said. "And so we're open to the attorney general's office giving us guidance on if that suffices to allow them to do that."

Lisha Newman / Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation

The Grand River Dam Authority says it’s high time to take a look at the Illinois River.

For the first time in about 20 years, a carrying capacity study will be done on the Illinois River. GRDA spokesman Justin Alberty said they’ve hired OSU to perform the study.

"They're the ones that we've used before on Grand Lake, so they certainly have the background, and they have the expertise to do this," Alberty said.

OSU's geography department will look at how many boaters the river can support, how many actually use the river and how that affects the area.

Jenks Public Schools

One Tulsa-area teacher is among more than 200 honored by President Obama.

Jenks West Intermediate fifth-grade math and language arts teacher Moriah Widener got a call Monday morning telling her to check her email. That’s how she learned she was one of 213 teachers nationwide honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

American Humane

A recent investment by an Oklahoma foundation is helping animals displaced by devastating flooding in Louisiana.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation helped fund a 50-foot, 15-ton rescue truck for American Humane’s rescue team. Randall Collins with American Humane said they’re mainly working in Livingston Parish, where three in four homes have been destroyed.

"What we've been doing is search and rescue to find those animals, bring them back, get them veterinary care that they need and try to reunify them with their owners, their loved ones, their families," Collins said.

Matt Trotter, KWGS; TMAPC

Tulsa’s planning commission suggested changes this week to proposed design and use standards for the Arkansas River corridor.

Commissioners recommended Helmerich Park not be included among the affected properties. The standards have been in the works for nearly a year, and the park has been on track for a designation to allow more development than other parks' designations allow.

Craig Immel has been fighting a proposed REI development in the park and wanted Helmerich to be given the stricter designation.

Oklahoma breweries are a week away from being able to sell beer on site, but whether you can have a pint there is still up in the air.

The ABLE Commission believes Senate Bill 424 only allows breweries to sell beer for customers to take home, while brewers have worked off the assumption they can sell you a pint to drink there, too.

Marshall Brewing owner Eric Marshall said with that in mind, several brewers have made big investments they can’t back out of now.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

As lots of work happens on one of its signature features, A Gathering Place for Tulsa is 25 to 30 percent complete.

The Williams Companies Lodge at the Gathering Place is taking shape. The lodge will serve as the park's glass-covered gateway.

The basement’s concrete floors and walls have been poured, and Gathering Place Executive Director Jeff Stava pointed out during a Thursday site tour dozens of vertical steel beams that have been placed.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum likes using data to make budget decisions. Now, another councilor is following his lead to cut down on car crashes.

City Councilor Anna America is heading up a study that will use data from several sources to find ways to reduce the number of traffic accidents. A calculation from INCOG says there were 10,000 crashes last year within the city limits.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

It seems the City of Tulsa forgot something in its Vision plans.

Hiring 160 police officers and 65 firefighters with Vision funds will cost money besides their salaries, benefits and equipment — namely, ensuring city departments that directly support public safety can deal with 225 more employees.

Asset Management Director Mark Hogan estimated what he’d need to maintain 160 more vehicles a year: 1.6 additional technicians.

"I haven't figured out how to get a 0.6 technician yet, so that's maybe two people," Hogan said.

A real estate scam has made its way to Oklahoma, with at least two cases reported so far.

The Oklahoma Association of Realtors says people are listing foreclosed properties on Craigslist as rentals.

"They'll typically say, 'Go over and take a look at it, drive by, look in windows, and if you like it, send me a $300 or $500 or $1,000 deposit,'" said association President-elect Pete Galbraith. "Turns out the person they're sending the money to is not the owner. It's not the bank."

Friday's top stories:

  • The Oklahoma Geological Survey embarks on a six-month study to better understand fracking-related earthquakes.
  • Medical marijuana supporters deliver signatures to the Oklahoma Secretary of State but don't know if they have enough.
  • An agreement is reached between the state, Oklahoma City, and the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, ending a five-year fight over water.
Environmental Protection Agency

The Oklahoma Geological Survey is embarking on a six-month study of oil and gas injection wells to better understand earthquakes caused by fracking wastewater disposal.

The consensus is wastewater disposal is linked to earthquakes, but the exact mechanisms aren't known.

"If we can understand what is actually taking place down a hole, that's the start of modifying practices to make sure that we don't inadvertently induce a seismic event," said Kim Hatfield, chair of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association's induced seismicity working group.

So far, Oklahoma has not accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but a new report says it could be good for uninsured citizens and the state's bottom line.

Arizona, Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma -- these are the four strictest states when it comes to drunk driving, according to a new study.

The WalletHub analysis looks at state measures to punish and deter drunk driving. Oklahoma has strong criminal penalties, including the nation's longest minimum jail sentence for first-time offenders and a 10-year period in which past DUIs can factor into penalties for new offenses.

When Inola Public Schools students return tomorrow, they'll be among thousands across the state with four-day weeks.

Inola schools will be closed Mondays to save the district money on utilities. Superintendent Kent Holbrook said they chose Monday because it interferes the least with extracurricular activities.

Department of Tourism

The City of Tulsa effectively puts a hold on downtown businesses’ use of public space as more and more developments are incorporating it into their plans.

License agreements are used for a variety of things, including sidewalk cafes, planters, steps or ramps to buildings, railings, and signs. Policies on license agreements are being reworked and likely won’t be finalized until a walkability study is finished next month.

Tulsa County

Eight weeks after deciding the new family justice center will be built in the northwest corner of downtown, Tulsa County commissioners take the next step.

Chief Deputy Commissioner Michael Willis said they’ve started the process of hiring a construction manager.

"They're not necessarily the company that will actually build it, but they're the ones that oversee all of that," Willis said. "So, it's a little bit different than going out to bid for a contractor and have them submit a price on what it's going to cost to build your facility."

National Partnership for Women and Families

The grades are in from a study of how states are going above and beyond the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and Oklahoma is one of 12 getting an F.

The National Partnership for Women and Families looked at how states have gone further than the 23-year-old federal law, which requires employers grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in certain circumstances.

Oklahoma has no laws past that.