Local & Regional

Mary Fallin

Gov. Mary Fallin has asked the federal government to declare Tulsa a disaster area because of tornadoes and other severe weather seen there since Aug. 5.

Fallin directed her request Friday to the U.S. Small Business Administration. If her request is granted, the SBA will make low-interest disaster loans to business owners, homeowners and renters for repair or replacement of storm-damaged property. Counties contiguous to Tulsa County, including Wagoner and Rogers counties, also would be eligible for aid.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa city councilors are sending voters a ballot measure in November that would let municipal employees participate in city political campaigns.

"Out employees at the City of Tulsa are being treated in an inferior way to other citizens here in Tulsa, other Oklahomans and other public employees, and they deserve better," said Mayor G.T. Bynum, who has pushed for the proposed charter amendment.

Tulsa Housing Authority

The waiting list for public housing in Tulsa is now closed and will be purged on Sept. 29.

Those actions are part of the process to change from a centralized waiting list to individual lists for all 13 properties owned by the Tulsa Housing Authority.

"We will still be working from the waiting list that we currently have, we're just not accepting new people onto that list," said THA President Aaron Darden. "So, we'll house as many people as we can up until that point."

File Photo


An Oklahoma man has been indicted in the death of a woman whose remains were discovered in a river in the northeast part of the state almost 30 years ago.

The state's multicounty grand jury charged 55-year-old James Ray Vogel of Muskogee with first-degree murder in the 1988 death of 31-year-old Jeanette Ellen Coleman.

Vogel was arrested Friday and is being held in the Cherokee County jail. Attorney information for Vogel isn't available.

File Photo


Oklahoma's unemployment rate edged up to 4.4 percent in July, slightly higher than the 4.3 percent of each of the previous four months.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported Friday that the sharpest decline was in the manufacturing industry, which lost 1,400 jobs.

The commission says an increase in total employment of 242 was offset by an overall decline of 5,445 in the number of jobless, while the number in the total labor force fell by 5,200.

The national unemployment rate fell from 4.4 percent in June to 4.3 percent in July.



An attorney for a man accused of attempting to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van outside an Oklahoma City bank wants a hearing to determine whether he is competent to be tried on a federal charge.

The request was filed Thursday, one day after the family of 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell released a statement saying Varnell is a paranoid schizophrenic who has experienced "schizophrenic delusional episodes."

Bank Robberies Keep Law Enforcement Busy

Aug 18, 2017
Tulsa Police

Two bank robberies in northeast Oklahoma are keeping police in two cities very busy.

The Bank of America at Pine and MLK was robbed by a woman, who claimed she had a bomb. In reality, the device turned out to be a cell phone with some wires hanging out.

Over in Cushing, the Bank of the West was robbed by a man. He made good his escape. There were no injuries.

In both cases, police are looking for suspects.

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The Oklahoma City school board will consider a resolution that could lead to a lawsuit against the leaders of Oklahoma's Legislature over school funding.

School Superintendent Aurora Lora and board member Mark Mann said Thursday the resolution will be presented to the board next week.

A draft of the resolution says it authorizes school attorneys to interview law firms to pursue a lawsuit against House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz for alleged failure to adequately fund public education.

In the local news:

  • Broken Arrow's Mayor praises the tribal police raid on Embers Grille.
  • Two bank robberies keep police busy in Tulsa and Cushing.
  • The first two cases of humans with West Nile this season are confirmed in Tulsa County.

Coding Dojo

Tulsa’s tech community should get a boost with the opening of a new coding school.

Coding Dojo teaches students three programming languages in roughly three months, even if they don’t have a background in computers. Coding Dojo’s Jay Patel said nationwide, there’s big demand for developers but a low supply of them.

"There's a need for some of these postsecondary vocational schools that can fill that gap and help individuals who don't have a traditional tech background to break into that industry," Patel said.

Woman Robs Tulsa Bank; Claimed to have Bomb

Aug 17, 2017

Tulsa Police are searching for a female bank robber. The woman entered the Bank of America at Pine and Martin Luther King, late this morning, and demanded cash from the teller.

The woman told the teller she had a bomb. The teller complied with the request and the bandit fled. She left the device behind for the Tulsa Police Bomb Squad.



The Cherokee Nation is urging a federal judge to allow a tribal lawsuit against distributors and retailers of opioid medications to be litigated in the tribe's own court.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree filed written arguments Wednesday in the tribe's lawsuit alleging the companies have contributed to "an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse" among the tribe's citizens.

KWGS News File photo / KWGS


Health officials say more than a half-dozen cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Oklahoma so far this year.

The Oklahoma Department of Health says the cases have been confirmed in Cleveland, Muskogee, Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. According to health officials, most people are infected with the virus from June through September, with the number of infections peaking in mid-August. The illness is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes.

Blue Dome Gets New Lights

Aug 17, 2017
File Photo

A project to replace and add pedestrian lights along 16 blocks in the downtown Blue Dome District is scheduled to begin Friday, Aug. 18. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2018.

“The lights will serve to better identify the Blue Dome District, as well as represent the historic Blue Dome, which gives the district its name,” said Tom Baker, Downtown Coordinating Council Manager.

The project consists of work along the following streets:

● First, Second and Third streets between South Detroit Avenue and South Greenwood Avenue


The family of a man accused of attempting to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van outside an Oklahoma bank says he is a paranoid schizophrenic and that the FBI knew it.

Clifford and Melonie Varnell, of Sayre, Oklahoma, issued a statement late Tuesday that questions the tactics undercover FBI agents used to arrest 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell.

KWGS News File Photo


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says she believes a special legislative session is needed to address a $215 million budget shortfall after the state Supreme Court overturned a new $1.50-cent-per-pack fee on cigarettes.

Fallin stopped short of issuing a formal call for a session, but said Wednesday that the departments of Human Services, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Health Care Authority would run out of money without legislative action.

The KWGS Morning News

Aug 17, 2017

In the local news:

  • Tulsa is back in the jail business.
  • Creek Nation law enforcers stage raid on the new Embers Grille in Broken Arrow.
  • The Governor wants a special session, but stops short of calling one.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Lighthorse police staged a raid Wednesday on the new, soon to open, Embers Grill in Broken Arrow.

Officers arrived around 6:30 p.m. They confiscated illegal gaming machines and equipment and took the owner, Steve Bruner, into custody.

The restaurant is within Broken Arrow city limits near 129th East Avenue and the Creek Turnpike, but it is on Kialegee Tribal Town allotment land. The tribal town is a faction of the Creeks. It wanted gaming to help pay for town projects.

KWGS News Photo

Tulsa City Council action Wednesday may finally resolve the years-long dispute with Tulsa County over jail costs.

"Why no headlines of quarrels between Broken Arrow and the county over the jail? Why no high-profile rate hikes for Owasso or Sand Springs? Well, the difference is that each of those communities operates their own lockup facilities for their municipal inmates," said Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Survey Shows the Stress of Tulsa Caregivers

Aug 16, 2017
fIle Photo

A new survey of Tulsa residents by the AARP shows some startling facts about caregivers. Joy McGill is with the AARP. She says caregivers are getting younger. Two in 10 caregivers are millennials; slightly over half of northeastern Oklahoma caregivers are age 50+.

Other Survey Results:

·         Less than three in 10 caregivers are aware of the resources or information available to help them in their community

·         56% of respondents are interested in receiving assistance or information


Law officers and safety agencies warn drivers classes are beginning this week and next in the Tulsa area, and it’s time to strictly obey laws in school zones. It’s not only speeding and reckless driving rules that will be enforced. The Triple A’s Mark Madeja says distracted driving while on an electronic device like an I-phone is a growing problem. He says focus on driving, especially around school zones and school buses.

Sheriff’s deputies and other law officers say there will be NO tolerance when enforcing laws in school zones.

Eugene Cupido-Wikimedia

The group of roughly two dozen service agencies known collectively as A Way Home for Tulsa is looking to build on its success.

The collective has housed 828 homeless Tulsans — 641 veterans and 187 chronically homeless — since 2015, more than double its original goal.

"Our neighbors who are in need, we just needed to give them a little bit of help, and so now those folks who were once homeless are living in safe, secure housing in Tulsa and they're still able to be a part of our community," said past A Way Home for Tulsa Chair Jeff Jaynes.

In the local news:

  • The Tulsa Airport addresses economic growth.
  • The Tulsa City Council will discuss housing inmates at the Okmulgee County Jail.
  • The power is back on after thunderstorms cause outages in Tulsa.

KWGS News File Photo


School officials in Oklahoma City and Tulsa will reconsider whether their schools should bear the names of confederate generals after a white nationalist rally decrying the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia.

An online petition in Tulsa urges the district to rethink a 99-year-old decision to name a school after Lee. Four elementary schools in Oklahoma City also bear the names of Lee and other Confederate generals.


 The FBI says a 24-year-old man accused of robbing a Louisiana bank has been caught at a university in Oklahoma.

Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge in New Orleans, said in a news release Tuesday that Langston University police and FBI agents arrested Dillon Arnez Davis on Thursday in Langston, Oklahoma.

He says Davis is wanted in an Aug. 2 holdup at a Chase Bank branch in Kenner, a New Orleans suburb.

FBI spokesman Craig Betbeze ays the arrest was at Langston University. Vice President Mautra Staley Jones says Davis is not a student there.



Oklahoma's attorney general has requested that state regulators dismiss a preapproval case for a utility that wants to build a $4.5 billion wind farm.

The Oklahoman reports the motion against the Public Service Co. of Oklahoma's Wind Catcher project was filed last week by Attorney General Mike Hunter's public utility division. The motion argues the utility didn't follow competitive bidding rules and hasn't shown a need for new generation.

Tulsa Airports

Tulsa International Airport is close to having final approval for a plan to subsidize public improvements that will draw new businesses to the area.

"We are looking to spur development of hotels around the terminal, support services for the terminal — a convenience store, for instance, or restaurants that serve the traveling public," said airport spokeswoman Alexis Higgins. "We're also looking for those industrial development opportunities where people are looking to expand or grow or even relocated their business from another area."

A new blueprint could help state lawmakers decide whether certain jobs need government-issued licenses.

"Most people would assume that a doctor would be a public safety concern and need to have a license from the state, but when you get into things like hair braiding, that might not have as high a level of potential danger to the public," said Labor Commissioner Melissa Houston.

2 Alarm Blaze in Pearl District

Aug 15, 2017


Thick, black smoke filled the Tulsa sky from an afternoon blaze in the Pearl District.

Tulsa Fire Captain Stan May says it was a two-alarm fire at 5th and South Rockford. The building was a former manufacturing facility. A large section of the roof collapsed from the intense heat.

Captain May says the first was reported about one-o’clock this afternoon.  The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. 

2 Alarm Blaze in Pearl District

Aug 15, 2017
Tulsa Fire Department

Thick, black smoke filled the Tulsa sky from an afternoon blaze in the Pearl District.

Tulsa Fire Captain Stan May says it was a two-alarm fire at 5th and South Rockford. The building was a former manufacturing facility. A large section of the roof collapsed from the intense heat.

Captain May says the first was reported about one-o’clock this afternoon.  The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.