Local & Regional

This is part one of a three part series looking at the craft of journalism.

In the local news:

  • The fate of an Oklahoma Veterans' home is uncertain.
  • Workers dismissed for taking off without notification for a 'Day Without Immigrants' are hired by another restaurant.
  • Tax hike proposals may be in trouble in the legislature.

 

Native Americans are hoping President Donald Trump doesn't forget them as he promises to put "America first."

Tribes across the country have been reaching out to the Republican administration since it took office last month, saying they're ready to help it achieve its campaign promises.

Among them are five large tribes in Oklahoma as well as a tribe in Massachusetts seeking reservation lands for a $1 billion resort casino.

The Children's Society

 

A federal report indicates more children were abused or neglected by foster parents in Oklahoma in 2015 than any other state in the nation.

The child maltreatment report by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says there were 150 confirmed cases of children abused or neglected by Oklahoma foster parents in 2015. The Oklahoman reports that's 121 more than Texas, which has more than seven times as many people, and 34 more than California, which has 10 times as many as people.

KWGS News Photo

 

Police are asking for the public's help in finding a purple suitcase that may contain remains of a 25-year-old Colorado woman after her former boyfriend was arrested in Oklahoma on a murder charge.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports police in Colorado believe that partial remains found in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, on Wednesday were those of Ashley Mead. She disappeared from Boulder, Colorado, this month.

Investigators in the two states say they believe other remains might have been left in the suitcase somewhere between Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Federal and state investigations are underway into the choking death of a man with later-stage dementia at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs have launched separate investigations into the Jan. 31 death of 70-year-old Leonard Smith. Smith died in the nursing home's locked-down, special-needs unit.

KWGS News Photo

Police say a Claremore man wanted on rape, kidnapping, assault and other charges died after being shot by officers at the end of a vehicle chase in southeast Tulsa.

Police say 34-year-old David English died at a hospital where he was taken after being shot Friday night.

Officer Demita Kinard told reporters that English was shot by three officers after moving aggressively toward them with a knife. Kinard says a knife was recovered at the scene.

A family of six are in the hospital after an overnight fire in Chouteau. Four of those hospitalized are children and two of those are in critical condition.

The home apparently had no working utilities and no smoke alarms. The parents were outside the home at the time of the blaze and rushed inside to save the children but were overcome by smoke.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

OKC Fire Department-Facebook

 

Authorities say one person is dead and a second was critically injured when the vehicle they were in collided with a city of Oklahoma City bus.

Fire Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson says the crash occurred Friday northwest of downtown Oklahoma City.

Police at the scene told reporters that about 10 people were on board the bus and suffered minor injuries.

Police say the dead person and the critically injured person were in a car traveling westbound when the car crossed into eastbound lanes of traffic and collided head-on with the bus.

KWGS News-File Photo

Gov. Mary Fallin's ambitious proposal to expand Oklahoma's sales tax to dozens of services to help balance the budget and raise teacher pay appears on life support just two weeks into the legislative session.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb resigned his position on Fallin's cabinet over the proposal last week. Other potential candidates for governor in 2018 and rank-and-file GOP House members have panned the plan as a non-starter.

Workers Fired for Immigrant Protest

Feb 18, 2017
Facebook

12 Hispanic workers were terminated Friday for failing to show-up to work on Thursday, at a popular Catoosa restaurant. The workers took part in the nationwide 'Day Without Immigrants'.

The workers were employed at the 'I Don't Care Bar and Grill'  on Highway 412 near the navigation channel. The business has a strict policy regarding employees failing to show up, without notice, for a shift.

The restaurant posted on Facebook that it had openings for staff.

Rape Suspect Shot and Killed By Tulsa Police

Feb 18, 2017
File photo-Tulsa Police

A man suspected of a Valentine's Day rape in Claremore is shot and killed by Tulsa Police Friday afternoon. 34-year-old David English was spotted driving his car on south Memorial Drive in Tulsa. Officers tried to pull him over, but English sped away. That led to a police chase.

Another Mistrial in the Shannon Kepler Case

Feb 18, 2017
KWGS News photo

For a second time, Judge Sharon Holmes declares a mistrial in the First Degree Murder case of Shannon Kepler. The former Tulsa Police Officer was accused of killing Jeremy Lake. Lake was his estranged daughter's boy friend.

After over eight hours of deliberation the jury was unable to reach a verdict, where all 12 jurors agreed. Kepler's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, painted the case as self-defense, claiming Kepler was fearful for his own safety when he took the action.

A hearing is set for later this month to see if prosecutors will seek a third trial.

KWGS News Map

 A principal and a teacher have been charged with failing to promptly report suspected child molestation to police in Oklahoma.

The Tulsa World reports that 85-year-old Calvert Cowen has been charged with 18 counts of lewd or indecent proposals or acts on a child under age 16. He's also charged with one count of child pornography.

Investigators say Cowen was a teacher's assistant for Perry Upper Elementary School. A police affidavit alleges he told authorities molested female students in class and initiated unwelcome hugs.

KWGS News File Photo

Republican Scott Pruitt has resigned his position as Oklahoma attorney general following his confirmation to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt submitted his resignation to Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday, the same day he was confirmed on a 52-46 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Fallin praised Pruitt in a statement for his six years as Oklahoma's top prosecutor and says she expects to name his successor soon, although she didn't provide a time frame.

KWGS News

Developers looking to get in on Tulsa’s revitalization of Route 66 can apply for loans to help with environmentally problematic sites.

The city received $1.1 million from the EPA for a revolving loan fund. Money can be loaned out to help clean up things like old gas stations. Michelle Barnett oversees the city brownfields program and said funding can be used for more than soil and groundwater issues common to old service stations.

Pryor Police

A Pryor substitute teacher is in big trouble with the law.  58-year-old John Autry was arrested after allegation he showed pornography in the classroom to students aged 12-to-14.

Nearly two dozen students were in the class and 21 report seeing the porn. Autry was arrested and booked into the Pryor jail.

Autry has been a substitute teacher for over 25-years.

C-SPAN

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as President Donald Trump's new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt was confirmed by a 52–46 vote. Senate Democrats failed in their effort to delay the confirmation vote until Feb. 27 in order to review roughly 3,000 emails a judge recently ordered released between his office and coal, oil and gas companies.

Southwest Airlines

 

A federal safety agency says it's not investigating an airport collision involving two jetliners at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The planes clipped wings Thursday evening, but there were no injuries to people. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Terry Williams says the agency isn't investigating the accident because the damage to the planes was "very, very limited."

Officials say a departing Frontier Airlines flight was pushing back from its gate when it collided with an arriving Southwest Airlines flight.

 

An Oklahoma City psychic who has been arrested could see jail time in her future.

The Oklahoman reports that fortunetelling for a fee has been illegal in Oklahoma since 1915, but the law is rarely enforced.

Officials say 52 -year-old Sonia Lisa Marks was arrested in August and is currently free on bond. She has been charged with obtaining money under false pretenses and fortunetelling for a fee.

If convicted, Marks could serve up to two years in prison and be fined up to $500.

Oklahoma-DOC

 

 The Oklahoma House has approved a bill that would eliminate the electric chair as a mode of execution, although it's more than 50 years since the state's last electrocution.

The bill lists which execution methods are allowed, including lethal injection, nitrogen hypoxia, which causes death by depleting oxygen in the blood, firing squad and any other form not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

The bill also would give the Department of Corrections' director the choice of which method to use.

OKC Bombing Memorial

 

 President Donald Trump and his supporters say the nation's greatest security risk lies in attackers who potentially sneak into the U.S. from abroad. But a list of worldwide attacks recently released by the administration left off many that were carried out by right-wing extremists and white supremacists.

And organizations that track terrorist and hate groups say the government focuses too narrowly on threats from the outside instead of adopting a broader approach.

KWGS News photo

 

A draft memo indicates that the Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants. The memo was obtained by The Associated Press.

The proposal includes four states that border on Mexico -- California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. But it also includes seven other states that don't -- Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says the AP report is "100 percent not true." And he called it "irresponsible."

Special Meeting Set on Helmerich Park Future

Feb 17, 2017
Google Street View

A special meeting of the Tulsa City Council is set for next Tuesday. The Council will consider a proposal from the Mayor's office to abandon a section of Tulsa's Helmerich Park at 71st and Riverside.

The action would clear the way for allowing a sporting goods store to be built on the southwest corner of the intersection. Sources says it would be a REI store, however, the company has not confirmed such plans.

The proposal is expected to be strongly fought by those opposed to using park land for commercial purposes. The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning

 

An Oklahoma judge has ordered state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, to turn over documents sought by an advocacy group related to his communication with coal, oil and gas corporations.

District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons said Thursday "there really is no reasonable explanation" why Pruitt's office hasn't complied with a request filed in January 2015 by the Center for Media and Democracy.

KWGS File photo

 

Gov. Mary Fallin has scheduled a special election to fill a House seat being vacated by a lawmaker who resigned after admitting he asked a legislative aide to send him topless photos and accompany him to a strip club.

Fallin on Thursday scheduled the filing period for House District 75 for Feb. 27-March 1; a special primary election for May 9 and a special general election will be July 11. If a special primary is not necessary, the special general election will be May 9.

The winner will replace Republican Rep. Dan Kirby of Tulsa.

In the local news:

  • Republican Party Split: The Lt-Governor resigns from the Governor's Cabinet Over Taxes Dispute.
  • The State House approves 'Read ID'.
  • A Tulsa non-profit finds a work-around 'A Day Without Immigrants'.

City of Tulsa

YWCA Tulsa and the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women recognized 11 women Thursday who have had a big impact in the community.

Women of the Year – Pinnacle Award winners work to achieve YWCA Tulsa's goals of eliminating racism and empowering women.

Youth at Heart President and CEO Jocelyn McCarver is among this year’s 10 winners. The after-school program brings tutoring, field trips, sports and other enrichment activities to underserved kids.

KWGS Map

  Authorities say one person was injured in an explosion at a gas well in south east Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the explosion happened near Quinton in Pittsburg County, about 100 miles southeast of Tulsa.

The Pittsburg County Emergency Management Office says multiple volunteer fire departments are at the gas well site.  Emergency management crews and the county sheriff's office also are on the scene.

 

 

File Photo-Facebook

 

 Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb is announcing his resignation from his position as Oklahoma's small business advocate on Gov. Mary Fallin's cabinet, citing a disagreement with Fallin over her plans to broaden the sales tax.

Lamb — who's considered a likely candidate for governor in 2018 — said in a statement that he felt it was best to step aside from his cabinet post because he's unwilling to be an advocate for the tax proposals.

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