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

Taylor Horn-Speck / Tulsa Public Schools

How do you get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? Tulsa Public Schools finds it’s best to show them how they get to our tables in the first place.

The district’s fall farm-to-market event Friday let students make smoothies on blender bikes, learn about composting and gardening, and milk a wooden cow.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The community remembered Terence Crutcher at an event hosted Friday by Tulsa Community College.

Lawrence Rosenborough sang his friend's favorite song, "I Can't Complain," at a remembrance ceremony. TCC President Leigh Goodson said Crutcher believed in the transformative power of education.

"Like so many of our students, he brought to TCC his talents, hopes and dreams of completing a degree, a dream for both himself and his family," Goodson said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In 1965, a NASA engineer turned on the lights at Tulsa’s Central Library for the first time through a satellite link. Next Saturday, the downtown branch reopens after a three-year, $50 million renovation.

Central Library got a complete overhaul inside and out. Tulsa City-County Library CEO Gary Shaffer expects the number of visitors to jump from 1,100 a day pre-renovation to 2,200 a day now.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa code enforcement inspectors are working hard to catch up on a nearly 1,800 case backlog, but they're going to run out of money at their current pace.

Working in Neighborhoods Director Dwain Midget said his budget is down 20 percent from two years ago, and the backlog swelled during hiring freezes.

Broken Arrow is looking for 11 new firefighters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced its Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grants for 2015. Broken Arrow is receiving nearly $1.5 million, enough to cover salaries and benefits for 11 new firefighters for two years.

"This is going to help us to be able to really cut down on having to have firefighters work overtime shifts or extra shifts. We're going to be able to provide a greater level of service to our citizens," said Broken Arrow Fire Chief Jeremy Moore.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A small group chanted and sang spirituals outside Tulsa's city hall Wednesday morning.

The protesters were there not only because of the death of Terence Crutcher, but also because of a delay in forming a city African-American affairs commission.

A committee meeting was set to hear an update on the commission, but the item was pulled. City Councilor G.T. Bynum met with state Rep. Regina Goodwin and other leaders recently to talk about the commission. Bynum said a mayoral task force has already been at work on the matter.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Jenks has broken ground on a Vision 2025–funded park project.

Jenks Downtown Commons will connect the high school to downtown. The Tulsa County Vision Authority approved the $1.1 million project in November.

County Commissioner Karen Keith said the Vision 2025 sales tax is why downtown Tulsa has the BOK Center.

"And I will tell you, without the suburbs stepping up and taking their portion of Vision 2025 later, we would not have the facility that we have today," Keith said.

Tulsa County

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s longtime headquarters could go on the market.

County commissioners have approved an appraisal for the Dave Faulkner building at First Street and Denver Avenue. If it’s sold, TCSO would use the money to finish the north Tulsa training center and move there. Sheriff Vic Regalado said having both seems unfeasible.

"It's about the future, and you have to look ahead and say, 'Can you sustain this moving forward?' and I don't believe we're on solvent enough ground to do that," Regalado said.

Oklahoma Watch

A presidential proclamation makes this week Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

In 2014, 78 Americans per day died from an opioid-related overdoses. Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli said that needs to stop.

"And the best way to do that right now is for Congress to provide the $1.1 billion in funding President Obama requested, which would help states expand their prevention, treatment and recovery support services," Botticelli said.

Oklahoma stands to benefit greatly from that funding.

KWGS News

A few dozen protesters gathered outside the Tulsa County courthouse Monday morning to protest the fatal police shooting of a black man whose SUV had stalled on a city street.

The protest Monday comes in response to the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who was shot Friday. Authorities released audio and video recordings of the shooting Monday afternoon.

Mareo Johnson said Crutcher was a brother to him, and these sorts of shootings could create unrest if they're not dealt with.

File photo

A June 2007 storm in Oklahoma produced the longest lightning flash in the world.

A World Meteorological Organization committee determined the bolt covered 199.5 miles. NASA research scientist Timothy Lang measured the flash, which started near Tulsa and reached the panhandle.

"When these big — we call them mesoscale convective systems or squall lines — in these big systems, it's very common to see large lightning flashes, but this was extremely unusual," Lang said.

A prolonged oil slump will keep challenging Oklahoma, according to credit rating giant Moody’s.

In a new report, Moody’s analysts said they expect Oklahoma’s sharp decline in oil and gas tax revenue to continue. State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said Oklahoma leaders agree with Moody’s outlook.

"We know we're in a challenging time, and we just have to do the things necessary to position the state in the best way possible," Doerflinger said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa’s new 311 system still isn’t up and running after more than a year of delays, but it might be ready by the end of the month.

The high-tech system from Verint has a mobile app, online chat and a voice response system. It was originally set for a summer 2015 launch, but that was delayed until mid-January. That date was then missed because of apparent software bugs.

Now, the servers keep crashing.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa school districts in line for $10 million in Vision funding are changing their minds about the program it will support.

Jenks, Union and Tulsa Public Schools representatives are no longer envisioning the "live" component of the teacher recruitment program that came to be known as "Teach, Live T-Town."

"There were discussions back before the vote about the possibility of a teacher town or teacher village, which would be a redevelopment project," said City Manager Jim Twombly.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City officials appear set to spend more than half a million dollars to improve access to a recently announced southwest Tulsa sports complex.

City councilors will consider using $550,000 in Improve Our Tulsa funds for work on 71st Street to benefit the Titan Sports and Performance Center. Plans for the 60-acre complex near Tulsa Hills only have an entrance on 81st Street, which is prone to flooding.

Titan Sports board member Danny Christner said they always wanted 71st Street access because of how many people may use the sports complex.

Route 66 News

The board tasked with boosting Tulsa’s share of the Mother Road hopes for some influence over Vision 2025–funded projects.

The Tulsa Route 66 Commission would like to help guide certain projects on the master plan list that are yet to be completed, like streetscaping and sign projects. Those projects' total funding is about $1.8 million.

Flaherty and Collins

An expected vote Monday afternoon on a development proposal that would bring a grocery store downtown didn't happen.

The Performing Arts Center Trust had the vote on its agenda, but several members still had questions about the deal that would sell the PAC parking lot at Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue to Indiana-based Flaherty and Collins, ranging from the parking lot's value to what happens if the developer goes bust mid-project.

Past PAC Trust chairman Ken Busby said economic development outside the arts isn't their area of expertise.

USFWS

The lesser prairie chicken could go from threatened to not threatened to endangered all in a matter of months.

Conservation groups are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the birds endangered status, saying there’s scientific proof the likelihood its extinction is becoming more likely.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Volunteers across the Tulsa area mark a quarter century of service.

Today was the 25th annual Day of Caring through Tulsa Area United Way. Several companies were represented at Domestic Violence Intervention Services' emergency shelter, where employees were landscaping, cleaning and holding a cookout for residents.

Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission

Planning commissioners approved measures this week to address concerns from neighbors of a proposed north Tulsa industrial park.

Vision Tulsa will provide $10 million toward the development of the Peoria-Mohawk employment center. Julian Wilson is among residents worried about noise, traffic and what exactly will be built on the 112-acre site.

"I didn't buy that property to come out and see buildings and such," Wilson said. "I bought the property because of the wooded area, the homes and the community."

KWGS News

River Parks Authority will contract out mitigation work required to renovate Zink Dam.

Through a fee-in-lieu-of program, the authority will pay The Terra Foundation nearly $250,800 to create wetlands equal in area to what the renovations will disturb. Consultant Gaylon Pinc said the foundation was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a set amount of credits, with one credit equivalent to one acre.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa hosts a video game festival conceived by VisitTulsa later this month.

XPO Game Festival is inspired by the highly successful Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX, which launched in Washington 12 years ago and has grown to five events worldwide.

XPO Event Manager Matt Stockman said it will be fun, but it’s also a chance to show off Tulsa to a multibillion dollar industry.

"This was just one more way to show Tulsa is progressive, cutting-edge, and bring something in the tech industry to the central U.S. for people locally to enjoy," Stockman said.

Broken Arrow Police

The older Bever brother admitted guilt in killing five of his family members last year in Broken Arrow.

Robert Bever, 19, entered guilty pleas during arraignment this afternoon in Tulsa District Court.

April, David, 12-year-old Daniel, 7-year-old Christopher and 5-year-old Victoria Bever were found stabbed to death July 22, 2015. A 13-year-old sister survived the attack, and a 2-year-old was unharmed.

Health

New health care rankings are in, and Oklahoma is still near the bottom.

WalletHub crunched the numbers to come up with scores for health care costs, health care access and health outcomes. Overall, they rank Oklahoma health care 44th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Out of those three broad measures, Oklahoma scored the worst on health outcomes, ranking 47th.

Oklahoma Historical Society

The home site of one of history’s most famous Cherokees is going to his tribe.

Cherokee Nation is buying Sequoyah’s Cabin near Sallisaw from the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Sequoyah is credited with developing the written Cherokee alphabet, which was completed in the 1820s. Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin said that caused literacy rates to soar.

"We've always been firm and great believers in education, and this syllabary only enhanced that and gave our people an opportunity not only to survive, but to thrive in modern civilization," Hoskin said.

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.

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