Local & Regional

Tulsa Sheriff's Office

The Tulsa Sheriff will add some psychological testing to background checks for jail guards. At least six Tulsa County officers have been arrested and fired since summer. Most are in roles as detention officers. Sheriff Vic Regalado admits it seems like a lot in a short period of time, but says his office remains committed to transparency on these cases. He does say another aspect will be added to the background checks, psychological tests for potential new employees.

Regalado says ‘violations of the law and the public’s trust will not be tolerated by his agency’.

 

One of the nation's top rating agencies is issuing Oklahoma a "credit negative" warning amid the state Legislature's inability to close a $215 million hole in its budget for the current fiscal year.

Moody's Investor Service issued the credit outlook for Oklahoma Monday in its latest credit bulletin on U.S. public finance.

The rating agency noted that while the estimated budget gap is only 4 percent of general fund spending, it is meaningful. It pointed specifically to the legislative budget impasse that has stretched on for nearly six weeks.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

Oklahoma's attorney general is refusing all political donations from prescription drug manufacturers and distributors.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who's seeking election in 2018 to a four-year term, received $3,500 in donations from political action committees associated with drugmakers in July and August. He returned those donations last month.

 Hunter has prioritized battling the opioid epidemic since he was appointed in February by Gov. Mary Fallin. He's helped create and is the chairman of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.

Mental Health Cuts Could Cut Intervention Funding

Nov 6, 2017
Studio Tulsa

Everyone is watching to see how the legislature funds mental health programs in the state.  Among those paying close attention is Gail Lapidus. She is the Director of Tulsa’s Family and Children Services.

She says it is no exaggeration to say “lives are on the line” if services are cut. The center oversees the COPES Mental Health Intervention program. The program responds to around six suicide calls per day in Tulsa. It state funding is slashed that program could be without funding.                     

Oklahoma Watch

We should learn more today about the financial crisis in the state health department. A news conference is set for this afternoon with interim director Preston Doerflinger.

A highly critical audit of the department has already led to several resignations, including long time director Terry Cline.

In the local News:

  • State mental health cuts could hurt suicide prevention programs in Tulsa as well as students with ADD.
  • The State Health Department holds a news conference later today on its fiscal problems.
  • A plane crash at Alva leaves on man dead.

 

  Authorities in northwestern Oklahoma say a 61-year-old flight instructor is dead following the crash of a single-engine aircraft in Woods County.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the crash occurred about 5:30 p.m. Saturday as the aircraft was approaching the Alva Municipal Airport. Troopers say a preliminary investigation indicates the aircraft experienced a mechanical failure during descent and that its landing gear struck some power lines. Authorities say the small aircraft struck some trees, plummeted to the ground and burst into flames.

OKC Fire

 

No injuries were reported when a fire damaged a single floor at a vacant high-rise building in downtown Oklahoma City.

Dark smoke poured from windows at the 33-story First National Center shortly before noon Sunday. Officials say the fire was contained to the 26th floor of the unoccupied building and did not spread to adjacent floors.

Bedlam sure lived up to its name. Baker Mayfield passed for a school-record 598 yards and 8th ranked Oklahoma outlasted Number 11 Oklahoma State 62-52 Saturday in one of the highest-scoring games in the rivalry. Marquise Brown caught nine passes for a school-record 265 yards, and he had touchdown receptions of 84 and 77 yards for the Sooners. OU gained 785 total yards in Stillwater.

An Oklahoma panel will consider providing millions for two key programs that are in jeopardy amid a state budget crisis.

The Tulsa World reports that the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Board of Directors will consider providing $1.81 million for senior nutrition services, and $1.27 million for mobile crisis response teams that offer behavioral health services to children. The board is expected to vote on Nov. 14.

KWGS News File Photo

The Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts are being allowed to intervene in a lawsuit by charter schools over funding.

An Oklahoma County district court judge ruled Friday that the two can join the lawsuit by the Oklahoma Public Charter Schools Association against the state Board of Education.

District officials say each stands to lose $1 million to $1.5 million if the lawsuit succeeds.

KWGS News-File photo

Two Republican former Oklahoma state representatives have been named directors of U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies in Oklahoma.

The U.S.D.A. announced Saturday that former Rep. Scott Biggs of Chickasha was appointed by President Donald Trump as Farm Service Agency state director and Lee Denney of Cushing was named Rural Development state director.

Biggs announced his immediate resignation from the state House on Thursday. Denney was term--limited and did not seek re-election in 2016.

File photo

The mayor of McAlester says at least some water service has been restored to most of the approximately 28,000 city and rural customers who lost service, including the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Mayor John Browne says one of the city's four pumps was working Saturday after a fire and a water line break shut off service, but the system will be shut down for about four hours starting at 7 a.m. Sunday for repairs.

Browne says pumps and fire trucks maintained water pressure at the hospital in the city of about 18,000, about 105 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma state Treasurer Ken Miller says the state collected 10.6 percent more revenue in October than in October 2016, with nearly 19 percent of the increase due to the elimination of some tax exemptions and rebates and some new fees.

Miller said Friday the treasury collected $980.2 million in October, an increase of $90.4 million from the same month last year and called the growth encouraging.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission says $17.8 million of the increase comes from bills passed during the regular Legislative session.

File photo

A lawsuit is challenging Oklahoma's debt-collection system that routinely sends poor people to jail for failing to pay court fines and fees.

The Tulsa World reports that the federal lawsuit filed Thursday names the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association, every county sheriff in the state and Aberdeen Enterprizes, a private collections company.

File photo

Oklahoma’s state government has had its day in court several times over the past few years to defend new laws from constitutional challenges.

Attorney General Mike Hunter maintains all that litigation is not costing taxpayers a dime.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

There’s a lot of progress being made on the north side of A Gathering Place for Tulsa.

The 28,000 square foot Williams Lodge is really coming together now.

Oklahoma Watch

With Oklahoma leading the nation in addiction to prescription painkillers, OSU announced Friday it's establishing the Center for Wellness and Recovery.

There will be clinical and research components.

"We will create statewide access to addiction and pain treatment services, and we'll recruit national experts in the treatment of pain and addiction, and to conduct cutting-edge research in neuroscience, addictive psychology and pain management," said OSU Center for Health Sciences Dean Dr. Kayse Shrum.

Tulane University

A national expert speaks to early childhood educators and health care professionals in Tulsa on supporting young children impacted by traumatic experiences. Dr. Allison Boothe is a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Tulane University. She says children are resilient, but they need proper support and proven ways to judge if additional help is needed.

She says without proper support, trauma can adversely impact the development of young children later in life. Boothe spoke last night at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center.

Oklahoma Watch

   

Legislation that appropriates $23.3 million to Oklahoma's mental health agency is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin's desk to be signed into law.

The measure received final approval in the state Senate on Wednesday. It's the first measure to pass both chambers of the Legislature after six weeks of a special legislative session to fill a $215 million hole in the state budget created when the Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidated a $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee passed by lawmakers earlier this year.

Google Street View

 

Authorities say a 28-year-old man has died after he reportedly stabbed two people then set himself on fire in a lakefront area of northeast Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says the three men were co-workers and had stopped to eat lunch Thursday at Monkey Island on Grand Lake, about 70 miles  northeast of Tulsa. Authorities say an altercation occurred, and the man stabbed his co-workers.

In the local news:

  • Mayor Bynum delivers his first 'State of the City' address.
  • A Tulsa man is shot and killed. Police are questioning his 17-year-old stepson.
  • A Tulsa bank is robbed by a 'friendly fellow'.

Tulsa Bank Robbed by a "Friendly Fellow"

Nov 3, 2017
Tulsa Police

He seemed like a pleasant enough chap! He nodded and said “good morning” to bank security guards. Little did they know he was about to rob the Bank of America at Pine and MLK.

He walked into the bank and presented the teller a note. No weapon was seen. He got the money and then left, again, exchanging pleasantries with the guards on his way out.

Police are looking for the suspect in yesterday’s robbery and provided this picture of the suspect.

State of OKlahoma

State Rep. Scott Biggs, a three-term Chickasha Republican who has recently opposed changes in Oklahoma's criminal justice system, has announced his resignation effective immediately. Biggs resigned Thursday in a letter to House Speaker Charles McCall, in which he said he'd accepted a federal appointment effective immediately. He didn't specify what his new job will be but said he believes he "can do much more for out state as I work to promote the agriculture industry in Oklahoma."

Oklahoma Watch

 

A probe of the Oklahoma State Department of Health is being changed to an investigative audit, meaning it could lead to criminal charges.

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones told The Oklahoman on Thursday that the state attorney general's office requested the change.

The health department requested an audit last month after Commissioner Terry Cline and senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain reported "a budget and operating cash shortfall" since the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

Tulsa Fire

Tulsa has had another fatal shooting. This is our 72 homicide of the year.

A 40-year-old man was shot and killed by his 17-year-old step son after threating the boy’s mother, according to Tulsa Police.

It happened in a neighborhood near 11th and Yale around 9 p.m. 

KWGS File photo

As Oklahomans wait on the state House to come up with a plan to fill a $215 million budget hole, the Senate is also looking for ways to give the state more money.

The Senate Rules Committee passed a bill Thursday to cut the refundable portion of coal tax credits starting Jan. 1, 2018. The credit is for the purchase of Oklahoma-mined coal to use in utility or industrial purposes, or for coal-mining companies. Sen. Josh Brecheen said while the change won’t have an impact for awhile, it needs to be addressed in special session.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Besides recognizing accomplishments of the past year, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced several new plans Thursday in his first state of the city address.

The city will push state lawmakers next year to eliminate a provision in the education funding formula that takes away state funding if local governments spend property taxes on things like boosting teacher salaries or hiring more teachers.

In the local news:

  • The latest budget news from the state capitol.
  • Congressman Bridenstine appears before a Senate Committee in his quest to become NASA's director.
  • The search is under way for a missing special needs boy near Grand Lake.

New Bullet Proof Windows at LGBTQ Center

Nov 2, 2017
Equality Center-Facebook

Tulsa’s Dennis R. Neill Equality Center gets some new windows.

Why is that news?

Well these windows are bullet proof.

It is in response to recently vandalism at the LGTBQ support center,  including shot-out windows.

A dedication and thank you party is set for tonight at the center. Most of the needed funds for the glass were donated to the center.

Pages