Local & Regional

In the local news:

  • The Tulsa City Council considers what to do with Helmerich Park.
  • Mike Hunter will replace Scott Pruitt as Oklahoma's Attorney General.
  • Another revenue failure is expected for Oklahoma.

 

Oklahoma revenue officials are likely to declare a revenue failure when a state board meets Tuesday to certify the amount of state revenue lawmakers have to appropriate next year.

Preliminary figures from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services indicate collections by the general revenue fund are projected to fall 5.7 percent below estimates.

Legislation to phase in a $6,000 raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years has been approved by a state House committee although lawmakers don't know how to pay for it. The House Appropriations and Budget Committee voted 26-2 Monday to send the measure to the House floor for a vote. The bill by Republican Rep. Michael Rogers of Broken Arrow calls for a $1,000 pay raise next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed Secretary of State Mike Hunter to replace former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who was tapped by President Donald Trump as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Fallin appointed Hunter on Monday, four days after Pruitt resigned following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate as EPA administrator.

Hunter served as first assistant attorney general under Pruitt until Fallin appointed him secretary of state and special legal counsel last year. Hunter takes over as attorney general immediately.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A foundation has been set up to accept private dollars on behalf of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

"Law enforcement personnel, professional training, top-notch equipment and a transparent, community response requires additional funding to accomplish the goal of providing the best public safety in Tulsa County," said Tulsa County Sheriff’s Foundation Chairman Tim Harris.

The initial goal is $300,000 in private donations to fund body cameras for all deputies and to hire someone to oversee a new citizens advisory board.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

An Oklahoma senate panel approved a bill Monday to prevent city and county governments from outdoing state laws on employment and public accommodations.

The bill initially prevented local governments from going further than any state law. A committee substitute focused it on employment and public accommodations laws.

Senate Bill 694 author Sen. Joshua Brecheen sparred with Sen. Kay Floyd over the need to preemptively protect business owners' expression of sincerely held religious beliefs through refusing service to LGBTQ people.

File photo-Tulsa Police

The Tulsa Police Department has released the names of the three officers involved in last Friday afternoon’s fatal shooting of a rape suspect.  The Police Department identified the officers as:

·      Jered Metzger, 29, an officer since 2012.

·      Greg McClintock, 44, an officer since 2000.

·      Chad Murtaugh. 38, an officer since 2006.

Crowd Expected For Council Park Meeting

Feb 20, 2017
Google Street View

The Tulsa City Council will meet in a special session on Tuesday. The members will consider if to abandon nine acres of Helmerich Park in South Tulsa. The move is seen as a step toward selling the land to a developer.

The land is on the southwest corner of 71st and Riverside Drive. The developer has offered $1.4 million for the property to build a sporting goods store. It is said to be an REI facility, but the company has not confirmed that. The firm has no stores in the state.

OKC Memorial

 

 A water leak caused by heavy rainfall has forced the temporary closure of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum.

Museum spokeswoman Mary Ann Eckstein says the museum is closed Monday after a thunderstorm caused a leak in an adjacent structure that spread into the structure. Eckstein says museum officials hope to reopen Tuesday.

Executive Director Kari Watkins says none of the museum's artifacts was damaged and that they are all protected from further leaks.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

Oklahomans won't vote until next year on whether to legalize medical marijuana, but a state lawmaker has already introduced legislation that would set the framework if sales of the drug are approved.

State Rep. Eric Proctor of Tulsa has introduced a measure that's nearly an exact replica of what's being considered in neighboring Arkansas, where medical marijuana was legalized by voters last November.

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.

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