Local & Regional

STUART, Okla. (AP) — A small Oklahoma school district has adopted a policy saying students, athletes and spectators are "expected" to stand during the national anthem with no "gestures of demonstration or protest."

The policy adopted by the school board says it isn't intended to force anyone to violate their religious, political or social beliefs. It asks that all stand out of respect to those who have died for the country.

The policy says students who violate the policy would be disciplined on a case-by-case basis. Potential action against spectators is not addressed.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A white former Oklahoma police officer on trial for the fourth time in the 2014 killing of his daughter's black boyfriend told jurors Wednesday he had no choice but to shoot the young man.

Former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler was the last witness called in the case. He doesn't deny that he shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, but he said he did so because he believed Lake was armed.

Kepler said he saw Lake reaching into his waistband, so he shot him. No weapon was found on or near Lake's body.

Laureate Gets Huge Grant for Brain Research

Oct 18, 2017
St. Francis Health System

The Laureate Institute for Brain Research was awarded an $11.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health  this fall. Known as a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence  award, this is the largest grant awarded to LIBR to date. LIBR was founded by The William K. Warren Foundation in 2009.  Funding for this CoBRE grant comes from NIH’s Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research initiative that funds research in states where populations are medically under-served.

Oklahoma Watch

The director of the agency that provides mental health and substance abuse services says outpatient programs provided to 189,000 Oklahomans will be eliminated and other services will be cut on Nov. 1 due to a state budget gap that's forcing a $75 million cut to the agency's budget.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa are showcasing cultural, recreational and quality-of-life attractions as Oklahoma's two largest cities compete for Amazon's second headquarters in North America.

The online retail giant will clearly need tech-savvy talent and will likely seek subsidies. But leaders are touting more than 160 miles of hiking and biking trails, world-class training venues for Olympic rowing, and the archives of American musical icons Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

KWGS News File photo

The former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is suing an insurance company and broker because she says the $4 million she received for a lost blue diamond ring isn't enough.

  Kathy Taylor's federal lawsuit filed in Tulsa seeks more than $75,000. It alleges AIG Property Casualty Co. paid $4 million for the loss, but hasn't covered the ring's full value.

The insurance broker, Integro USA Inc., filed a motion to dismiss the case in which it says Taylor and her husband rejected a policy that would have covered any increase in the ring's value.

In the local news:

  • The head of Tulsa's ambulance service steps down.
  • New state tests scores are not pretty for Tulsa School students.
  • A proposal is floated to cut lawmakers' pay.

State Rests in Kepler Case

Oct 18, 2017
KWGS News photo

The prosecution has rested in the 4th Shannon Kepler murder re-trial. The case is again being heard before District Court Judget Sharon Holmes.

The case could go to the jury late today or tomorrow. Kepler is a former Tulsa cop accused of killing Jeremy Lake. Lake was Kepler's estranged daughter’s boyfriend.

Past trials ended with a hung jury.

File photo

There is more fallout from those new, tougher academic standards for Oklahoma’s Schools. The test scores are in and Tulsa’s public schools did not fare well.

In over a dozen schools, students tested with zero percent proficiency in the test subjects. Out of the entire district only 13 schools had students scoring above 50%.

Oklahoma State Capitol

   

A committee created to decide whether to give Oklahoma lawmakers a pay raise instead is considering reducing the salary and benefits for the state's 149 legislators.

The Legislative Compensation Board voted Tuesday to keep the $38,400 annual salary for now. But the nine-member panel agreed to meet again in four months to discuss the issue more.

Chairman Wes Milbourn and several members suggested the board consider reducing lawmaker salary and benefits given the state's budget crisis and a perception from the public that lawmakers are doing a poor job.

Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Health Services adopts a program to educate patients on alternative ways other than antibiotics to heal common illnesses. According to the U-S Centers for Disease Control, antibiotics are often misused for illnesses like flu and the common cold. Medical Director for W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital, Dr. Sharon Smallwood, says the tribe is using the CDC guidelines to help educate patients and staff on the proper use of antibiotics.

The tribe will use the guidelines to more closely monitor the use of antibiotics by patients in all Cherokee Nation health facilities.

Williamson Out As EMSA CEO

Oct 17, 2017
Matt Trotter / KWGS

EMSA President and CEO Steve Williamson has resigned effective Oct. 19.

The resignation was accepted by the EMSA board of trustees Tuesday morning after nearly two hours behind closed doors in Stroud. Stroud is halfway between EMSA’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City divisions.

"It’s been my pleasure to serve the organization that has, through its thousands of employees through 39 years, cared for and given millions of patients excellent medical care," Williamson said, reading from a prepared statement. 

Kepler's Daughter Expected on the Stand

Oct 17, 2017
Tulsa County Booking Photo

The estranged daughter of former Tulsa Police officer Shannon Kepler is expected to testify against her dad today. The trial is underway in Tulsa County District Court.

Kepler is accused of killing daughter Lisa Kepler’s boyfriend,  Jeremy Lake. Lake's roommate was on the stand yesterday. While testifying, Josh Miller called the defense's questions "bull sh--!"  Shortly afterward, Judge Sharon Holmes ended proceedings for the day.

This is Kepler's 4th trial on the matter. The others ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict.

Oklahoma #1 in Hispanic Teen Pregnancy

Oct 17, 2017
KWGS NEWS/Tgov

It seems Oklahoma is always first in the wrong categories. The Tulsa Hispanic Affairs Commission has learned of one of the latest stats.

Oklahoma ranks number-1 in the national Hispanic Teen Pregnancy rate. The Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s Marcia Bruno-Todd told the Commission that 58 out of every 1,000 Hispanic births in Oklahoma are to a teenage mother. That number eclipses all other ethnic groups in Oklahoma, according to Bruno-Todd, in the 15-to-19 year-old demographic.

She urged the commission to help with education programs into the Hispanic community.

In the local news:

  • Oklahoma has the highest Hispanic teen birth rate in the nation.
  • The Tulsa School Board renews Deborah Gist's contract as superintendent.
  • Still no state budget deal.

Morton Health Care

The state funding shortage is now hurting child abuse and prevention programs.

Tulsa’s Morton Comprehensive Care and the Parent and Child Care Center of Tulsa will be among the agencies taking a hit.

The State Health Department is being forced to trim $3 million from its budget because lawmakers have yet to plug a budget hole.

Gist Contract Renewed as Tulsa School Super

Oct 17, 2017
TPS

The Tulsa School Board extends the contract of Tulsa School Superintendent Deborah Gist for another three years.

Under the plan, she will get around a quarter of a million dollars a year, plus bonuses. This makes her the highest paid common-education official in the state.

Superintendent Gist’s contract is essentially the same as her initial 2015-2018 contract with two updates:      

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Three weeks into special session, there is no word of progress from Oklahoma City.

Owasso state Sen. J.J. Dossett said a lack of proposals isn’t the issue.

"There's bipartisan plans out there that have been agreed to by the majority of folks in the legislature and the governor's office. It's just there's a group that's holding onto political ideology as opposed to common sense solutions," Dossett said. "So, until we can remove the political aspect of this and start thinking of Oklahomans, we're going to have a problem."

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin focused on business Monday at a Tulsa Regional Chamber congressional forum, but he touched on national security during a Q&A with the audience.

Beginning his remarks with a focus on business, Mullin said too many small businesses are failing. Mullin said small businesses account for a majority of the state’s economic activity, but just one in three make it past two years — and even fewer make it to five years.

Mullin said Oklahoma small business owners should be mentoring up-and-coming entrepreneurs to help them succeed.

KWGS News File Photo

 

The fourth trial of a former Oklahoma police officer charged with murder in the 2014 slaying of his daughter's boyfriend is beginning its second week.

More witnesses are scheduled to take the stand Monday in the latest first-degree murder trial for 57-year-old Shannon Kepler. Three previous trials have ended in hung juries.

Kepler was a 24-year veteran of the of the Tulsa police department. He is accused in the death of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, who had just started dating Kepler's daughter.

Strait Schedules 2nd Tulsa Concert

Oct 16, 2017
KWGS News Photo

If you are among those upset over how fast the BOK’s 10th anniversary concert sold out, there is some good news.

The BOK Center says country music star George Strait has agreed to a second Tulsa show. Actually, the second show is the day before the sold-out concert.

The tickets for the new show go on sale this Friday.

2 Dead in Skiatook Crash

Oct 16, 2017
Google Street View

Two people are killed in a crash on Highway 11 near Skiatook. It happened late last night and closed the highway for several hours.

The Oklahoma Highway Patorl says killed were Roy and Cindy Roberts of Barnsdall. Their vehicle went out of control and slammed into a tree.

McCurtain Hospital

Regional hospitals are taking the brunt of forced budget cuts from the legislature. With $70-million  pulled from the Health Care Authority’s budget, that amount is trickling down to Medicaid providers like the McCurtain Regional Hospital at Idabel.

Hospital C-E-O Jahni Tapley says lawmakers are playing with the health of Oklahomans. She says hospitals like her’s can’t holdout much longer.

Review for Superintendent Gist Set for Tonight

Oct 16, 2017
KWGS NEWS/TPS 20

Tulsa School Superintendent Deborah Gist is the subject of tonight’s Tulsa School Board meeting.

The board is expected to go into an executive session to discuss the superintendent’s contract and possible renewal.

Gist, a Tulsa native,  has been the head of the TPS since the summer of 2015.

In the local news:

  • State budget cuts are crippling rural hospitals.
  • Feral Hogs are causing problems now in eastern Oklahoma.
  • Tulsa School Superintendent gets a school board review tonight.

OHP-Facebook

 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a 14-year-old Tuttle boy was killed when the utility vehicle he was riding in overturned near Hinton.

The boy's name was not released.

An OHP report says the boy was a passenger in a Polaris Ranger on Friday afternoon when it overturned onto its top in a gravel field.

The driver and a second passenger, both also 14, were not injured.

The report says the cause of the crash has not been determined.

Google Street View

 

 Some residents of Velma have returned to their homes after a leak in a natural gas well forced them to evacuate.

Velma Fire Chief Jay Dumas said Saturday that a buildup of pressure caused the Stephens County well head to fail, releasing toxic hydrogen sulfide gas into the air.

Firefighters who monitored the gas found lethal concentrations surrounding the site and evacuations were ordered northwest of the well. Officials say a state highway in the area was also closed for about three miles.

OG&E

 

Hundreds of central Oklahoma residents are without power following a powerful thunderstorm that brought strong winds and cooler temperatures to the area.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co, said Sunday that almost 2,000 customers in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. As many as 5,000 has lost power as the storm moved through the area late Saturday.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahomans who buy health insurance on the federal exchange will see higher premiums again when open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

Recent actions by President Donald Trump to dismantle federal health-care policies also could increase costs and reduce options in years to come, particularly for people with chronic or sudden major illness, health experts and insurers say.

Authorities are renewing an expired reward for information in the slaying of a woman whose dismembered body was found in a duffel bag in central Oklahoma.

Friday's announcement of renewal of the $10,000 reward comes on the sixth anniversary of the Oct. 13, 2011, discovery of the body of 19-year-old Carina Saunders.

Saunders' body was discovered in the duffel bag that was found in a field behind a grocery store in the Oklahoma City suburb of Bethany.

Two men were charged in Saunders' death, but the charges were dismissed. No other charges have been filed.

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