Local & Regional

In the local news:

  • Tulsa prepares for possible ice.
  • Officer Betty Shelby wants charges dismissed in the Terence Crutcher case.
  • A local lawmaker wants to put caps on the Wind Energy Tax Credit.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The addition of two clocks designed to look like the lost originals completed the restoration of Tulsa’s iconic Meadow Gold sign in November.

But if you looked closely, you may have seen the clocks displaying the wrong time at points over the past two months. That’s been fixed.

"I can't say I understand what the technical solution was, but different motors than the ones that were originally installed seem to have fixed the problem," said Route 66 Commission Vice Chair Ed Sharrer.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Service along a Peoria Avenue bus rapid transit route in Tulsa is scheduled to begin in early 2021, but Tulsa Transit Interim General Manager Debbie Ruggles said with the right moves, it could start sooner.

"We have discussed some options for how to make that happen so that we could roll out BRT on the Peoria line in January — or perhaps February — but in that timeframe of 2019," Ruggles said.

Starting BRT service two years sooner could involve delaying other projects. A decision must be made soon.

KWGS News

Workers are making their final checks on the City of Tulsa’s fleet of snow plows and salt spreaders before a winter storm rolls in late tomorrow.

Street Maintenance Manager Tim McCorkell said they’ll probably start treating main roads with salt around midnight Thursday, depending on how the storm moves.

"The issue with this storm, what it appears to be is we're going to have a lot of rain first, so it's really hard to pretreat anything for a storm when you're getting that much moisture. It washes it off the roadway," McCorkell said.

 

Oklahoma's state school superintendent says every public school district will be able to choose between the ACT and the SAT college entrance exams for high school juniors this spring.

The Tulsa World reports administering the test this spring will be optional, but it is strongly encouraged so schools can be prepared for next year when students' scores on one of the exams will likely determine whether the state considers them proficient.

Oklahoma Forestry Service

 

The National Weather Service says strong winds, unseasonably warm temperatures and low humidity have combined to create a high risk of wildfires in Oklahoma.

Forecasters have issued a red flag fire warning for western Oklahoma until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasters say temperatures in the mid-70s, wind gusts of up to 30 mph and 15 percent humidity will pose a critical fire danger.

Officials say that any wildfires that develop will likely spread rapidly due to strong winds and that outdoor burning is not recommended.

 

A special House committee investigating allegations of sexual harassment by two lawmakers and the use of taxpayer funds to settle a wrongful termination complaint is holding its first meeting at the state Capitol.

The committee met Wednesday and approved its rules, including a requirement that members sign a confidentiality agreement they won't publicly discuss their work. That prompted opposition from Chickasha Democrat David Perryman, one of three Democrats on the panel.

Wikipedia

A Green Country Freshman State Senator wants to put the brakes on Wind Energy Tax Credits. Mayes County Republican Michael Bergstrom wants to cap wind tax credits at $25-million.            

Bergstrom says the goal was for 15% of Oklahoma's energy to be wind generated. He says Oklahoma is currently above that amount at 20%. He says much of the energy is being sold out-of-state so, in essence, Oklahoma is paying for other states’ electricity. In 2014, $113-million was claimed in the wind tax credit.

File photo

 

An Oklahoma lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make elementary school students subject to out-of-school suspensions for assaulting teachers and other school employees.

The Oklahoman reports Republican state Sen. Ron Sharp recently filed the bill, which would expand the list of students who can be suspended for violent acts to include students in grades three through five.

The Professional Oklahoma Educators organization requested the expansion. Executive director Ginger Tinney says some of the group's members have been assaulted by students.

In the local news:

  • The Oklahoma Health Care Authority seeks $200-million in additional funding.
  • A new Tulsa health improvement program is announced.
  • Adacia Chambers gets life in prison for the OSU parade crash.

File Photo

Like their peers across the U.S., Oklahoma builders think 2017 will be a good year.

The Associated General Contractors of America’s annual outlook shows builders in Oklahoma and nationwide have a positive outlook for all 13 market segments in their annual survey. There’s not as much optimism for one area.

"The only market segment where contractors are less optimistic this year than they were last year is the multifamily residential sector, although that still garnered a net positive reading of 11 percent," said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.

Tulsa Transit expects it will need a budget of roughly $20 million for next fiscal year, which is an increase of 10 percent.

Higher health care and Lift program contractor costs are two big factors for the jump.

"We're up over $1 million just in those two cost centers and so we have some opportunity to offset some of those costs, but we have some needs as well," said Interim General Manager Debbie Ruggles.

Some increased costs will be balanced out by an anticipated $570,000 in rebates for using compressed natural gas.

Tulsa health officials launch a plan to improve the community’s overall health.

The plan was developed over nine months, and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said they have big things in mind.

"It's our goal, No. 1, initially, to be the healthiest county in Oklahoma," Dart said. "But, in thinking broadly, and why not here, and why not Tulsa, why can't we be the healthiest county in the country? And there's no reason why we can't."

Stillwater Police

A woman charged with killing four people and injuring dozens more by driving her car into spectators at Oklahoma State University's 2015 homecoming parade was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison after accepting a plea deal.

Adacia Chambers, 26, was sentenced in Payne County District Court after pleading no contest to four counts of second-degree murder and 39 counts of assault and battery.

Health Care Authority Needs $200 Million More

Jan 10, 2017
KWGS News/State of Oklahoma

 

The agency that oversees Medicaid in Oklahoma is requesting an additional $200 million, mostly to maintain funding for its programs that provide health care for low-income residents.

Becky Pasternik-Ikard, the new chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, outlined her agency's budget during a hearing on Tuesday before the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Kendall Griffith

 

A woman charged with killing four people by driving her car into spectators at Oklahoma State University's 2015 homecoming parade has entered a no contest plea.

If a judge agrees to the deal with prosecutors, Adacia Chambers would be sentenced to life in prison on four murder counts and additional time for the assault and battery of others injured in the crash.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

 

Officials with the Oklahoma House of Representatives say a panel investigating a wrongful termination claim paid to a House employee last year will look into at least two sexual harassment complaints against current legislators.  

House spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton confirmed Tuesday that formal complaints against both lawmakers had been filed with the House human resources department.

Grand Casino

 

Authorities say one person is dead and another is injured after a shooting involving two employees at an Oklahoma casino.

The shooting happened Tuesday morning at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Shawnee, about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The casino is run by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

The tribe's police chief, James Collard, says the shooting occurred in an administrative area and not on the casino's floor. He says no other employees or casino visitors were at risk.

OU

Recent reports show that disposal well operators placed about 23 percent less saltwater from oil and natural gas production into Oklahoma's deepest geological formation within the earthquake zone in 2016 compared to the previous year. The year-end reports about the Arbuckle formation come from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The commission says the 2016 volume numbers are mostly complete, though some companies haven't reported their latest data.

 

Firefighters have contained a wildfire that broke out in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The fire broke out Monday near the town of Slapout, about 165 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Beaver County Emergency Management says the fire spread rapidly because of high winds, but said early Tuesday that crews have contained the blaze.

Beaver County officials say firefighters from surrounding agencies assisted in containing the blaze.

 

The director of Oklahoma's Department of Human Services says the agency could be forced to furlough workers or cut provider rates if it doesn't receive an infusion of more than $42 million before the current fiscal year ends in June.

DHS Director Ed Lake presented his agency's budget request to lawmakers on Monday, urging them to pass a supplemental appropriation bill after they reconvene next month.

In the local news:

  • The DHS says it must have more money to finish the year.
  • An audit is critical of the Tulsa Jail Inmate Accounts
  • The Chili Bowl is back.

KWGS News

 

A state audit of the inmate trust accounts at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office during the previous administration shows the records were so poorly managed that auditors could not determine whether more than $188,000 was embezzled or misappropriated.

The aroma of gasoline and fried food hovering around the Tulsa fairgrounds right now can mean only one thing: The Chili Bowl is back in town.

Drivers have a practice session tonight, and races start tomorrow. The field this year is the biggest in the event's history, growing by about 50 cars from last year to 375.

Former NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is in charge of building the quarter-mile dirt track inside the River Spirit Expo Center. He said midget racing's lack of strict rules is why the Chili Bowl keeps growing.

Winter.jpg

A severe winter storm may rain ice down on Tulsa starting Friday, but fair weather is in the forecast for the next few days.

"This is the time to take advantage of the several days we have to get you, your family, everybody ready to ride out this event and not be out if you don't have to," said Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Roger Jolliff.

Besides reviewing your family emergency plan, Jolliff said you should make sure your car is ready by topping off your fuel tank, making sure it's in good working order and preparing an emergency kit to stash in it.

NWS Tulsa

 

A week of weather extremes is expected in Oklahoma, with forecasters predicting unseasonably warm temperatures early in the week followed by the possibility of a "significant winter weather event" heading into the weekend.

The National Weather Service in Tulsa says windy, warm weather is expected, then thunderstorms and winter weather could move in. Forecasters say there's still quite a bit of uncertainty about the forecast but that there is the potential for "damaging ice accumulations," Friday through Sunday, especially north of Interstate 44 in northeast Oklahoma.

DHS Review By State House Committee

Jan 9, 2017
KWGS News/State of Oklahoma

The giant Oklahoma Department of Human Services goes before the State House Budget Committee today for  a performance review. DHS Director Ed Lake outlined programs for the lawmakers, including an update on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or Food Stamps.

Authorities in Stephens County say a duck hunter has drowned while trying to save his dog. Sheriff Wayne McKinney told The Duncan Banner that the victim was duck hunting when he tried to rescue his dog after it got into trouble in icy water while retrieving a duck Saturday near Duncan. The victim's name hasn't been released.

 

State of Oklahoma

 

More than 500 Oklahoma state employees received pay raises last year despite the state facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall.

Information obtained by The Oklahoman from the state Office of Management and Enterprise shows 554 raises totaling just more than $5 million.

Pages