Local & Regional

Kepler Trial Continues in Tulsa District Court

Feb 14, 2017
KWGS News photo

  

The Shannon Kepler re-trial continues in Tulsa District Court. The former Tulsa Police officer’s first trial ended in a hung jury. He is accused of killing his daughter’s boyfriend back in the summer of 2014.

Kepler’s daughter, Lisa, took the stand yesterday to describe the night Jeremy Lake was shot. At times, the exchange became heated between Lisa Kepler and her father's attorney.

File Photo

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's plan to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack to help pay for health care has passed its first legislative hurdle.

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations and Budget Committee voted 17-10 to advance the measure to the full House. Some Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the measure.

It would more than double the cigarette tax, from $1.03 a pack to more than $2.50. Fallin says it would raise almost $258 million for health care.

State House

 

 A Republican lawmaker from southeast Oklahoma who described a pregnant woman as a "host" is standing by his use of the term, saying his intent was not to offend anyone.

State Rep. Justin Humphrey of Lane said Monday he didn't know of a better term to describe a pregnant woman and apologized to anyone who took offense.

Humphrey used the term while discussing his bill that would require women seeking an abortion to first obtain the written informed consent of the father. The bill is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday in a House committee.

In the local news:

  • A proposed measure to protect students may violate due process.
  • A water leak floods the Warren Clinic Tower in Tulsa.
  • The Kepler re-trial moves forward.

KWGS News photo

The Warren Clinic Tower, near 66th and South Yale, is closed. This after a water leak flooded the first floor of the high rise. 

The water caused floors to buckle and some windows to pop out. The facility will be closed until Thursday.

Doctors are still seeing patients, but at other locations. Click here to find your doctor's temporary location. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

An Oklahoma House budget subcommittee advances a bill meant to better prepare the state for revenue problems.

Rep. David Brumbaugh’s bill directs the tax commission to compute a five-year average of all general revenue fund sources for the Board of Equalization. Brumbaugh said the bill builds on work from 2016.

"Senate Bill 1030 ... that we introduced last year, I'm sure you'll recall was the three-year forecasting. This is the second part of this that allows us to look back at monthly and yearly peaks and valleys to come up with a more smoother approach," Brumbaugh said.

State of Oklahoma

State lawmakers are working on a bill its sponsor believes is necessary to curb sexual abuse of students by Oklahoma school employees.

Senate Bill 392 would prohibit school district employees from helping a colleague get a new job in a different district if they know or have reason to believe that person is engaged in an illegal relationship with a student. The bill's author, Sen. Kyle Loveless, said Oklahomans have become desensitized to such behavior.

KWGS News File Photo

The Tulsa Sheriff’s Office will hire private, armed security guards to staff courthouse entrances. The County Commissioners today okayed Sheriff   Vic Regalado’s request to hire armed private guards from Praetoria Security to takeover courthouse entrances from deputies. They will staff the metal detectors and portable wands and check bags at all public entrances.

He says the change will free up deputies for other duties and save his office about $80-thousand a year. The target date for the switchover is March 1st

Oklahoma Senate

 

A state senator who wants to undo some of the changes to Oklahoma's drug laws that were approved by voters in November is soliciting input from the public.

Republican Sen. Ralph Shortey is hosting a public forum at the Oklahoma City Community College to discuss his plans.

File Photo

 

Some Oklahoma lawmakers are seeking to make a permanent exception to the state's requirement for third-grade students to be reading proficient before moving on to the next grade.

The Oklahoman reports that currently, Oklahoma's Reading Sufficiency Act requires students in the third grade to score proficient on the state reading test in order to go into fourth grade. A temporary exception was approved in 2014, allowing students to move on anyway if a committee of teachers and parents of the student approve promotion.

Bleak House: Suicides in the Penitentiary

Feb 13, 2017
Oklahoma Watch

Most were in their late 20s or early 30s. All were in a type of isolated confinement, with 23-hour lockdown and one hour alone in an outdoor recreation yard or an underground concrete bunker.

All died by hanging themselves.

Between 2012 and 2015, nine inmates in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester took their own lives, giving Oklahoma’s only state-owned maximum security prison the highest suicide rate among corrections facilities. Its rate was six times that of the prison with the second highest rate, according to data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

 

A warm front brought record high temperatures across Oklahoma, including near 100 degrees in southwest Oklahoma that tied a nearly century old record.

The National Weather Service says the high in Mangum on Saturday reached 99 degrees to tie a record set Feb. 24, 1918, in Arapaho as the highest February temperature ever in Oklahoma.

Much cooler temperatures are forecast through Tuesday. There is a 90% chance of rain tonight and a 70% chance on Tuesday.

Kathy Taylor

 

The U.S. Navy's new littoral class combat ship the USS Tulsa has been christened.

Former Tulsa mayor and ship sponsor Kathy Taylor joined current Mayor G.T. Bynum and other Tulsans in christening the ship on Saturday at Austal USA's facilities in Mobile, Alabama. It was Taylor who broke a bottle of champagne on the hull of the warship.

The Tulsa is expected to be launched next month, and commissioned in 2018.

Oklahoma City Fire

 

Oklahoma City firefighters believe they are making progress in controlling a grass fire on the city's southeast side, but the fire is not out and residents are asked to leave their homes.

Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson says no injuries have been reported and no homes have been burned, although some outbuildings have burned. He said helicopters are being used to drop water on the flames.

Fulkerson said 60 to 70 Oklahoma City firefighters have been joined by about firefighters from about a dozen nearby departments to help fight the fire.

 

  A federal report shows Oklahoma had more children abused or neglected by foster parents in 2015 than any state in the nation.

The report released in January by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows 150 cases of child abuse or neglect by Oklahoma foster parents during the year.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services spokeswoman Sheree Powell told The Oklahoman that the number is too high and efforts are being made to bring it down.

In the local news:

  • Rain tonight and tomorrow could bring relief from Oklahoma wildfires.
  • USS Tulsa ready to sail.
  • Protests are planned against the Diamond Pipeline.

Cameron Felts

Kevin Durant scored 34 points in his return to Oklahoma City, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Thunder 130-114 in a chippy game Saturday night.

It was Durant's first game back since he left the Thunder after eight seasons in Oklahoma City to join the rival Warriors as a free agent last summer.

The crowd booed him loudly during pregame warmups, starter introductions and whenever he touched the ball.

KWGS News file photo

An Oklahoma Indian tribe wants to return to its ancestral Georgia home, and bring a casino with it.

It's the latest twist in the effort to legalize gaming in Georgia.

WSB-TV reports a lawyer for the United Keetoowah band of the Cherokee said an Indian casino will help a native Georgia people struggling to survive.

The Keetoowah band was driven from Georgia during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

The impoverished tribe's executive director hopes for a fruitful homecoming. Anile Locust says she would like to see her people flourish in her lifetime.

File Photo

Lingering frustration with a series of state court decisions has prompted members of the Oklahoma Legislature to file a series of bills that would reshape how Oklahoma judges are selected and who is eligible to serve on the bench.

In recent years, state courts have overturned several tough anti-abortion bills that were overwhelmingly approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. The Oklahoma Supreme Court also overturned a sweeping rewrite of the state's civil justice code.

Facebook

Anti-abortion activists in Tulsa are calling on the federal government to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.

About two-dozen residents gathered Saturday in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic to voice support for ending the funding. The Tulsa demonstration was among rallies staged all around the country.

Protesters held signs that read, "God Loves Babies" and "Time to Repent" as cars passed, some honking and waving out the windows.

Across the street, about a dozen Planned Parenthood supporters staged a counter-protest.

Carlisle To Close at Tulsa Port

Feb 11, 2017
Google Street View

The Tulsa Port of Catoosa will soon see 200 jobs go away. Carlisle Brake and Friction has announced it will be closing its facility at the Tulsa Port. The company manufactures brakes for vehicles and aircraft.

The workers in Tulsa will be offered severance packages. A handful of workers will be given the chance to relocate to a company plant in Ohio.

Wild Fires Burn Overnight

Feb 11, 2017
Okay Fire Dept-Facebook

Fire fighters in the Wagoner County town of Okay, responded to an overnight wild fire near Fort Gibson Lake. The fire burned about 10-acres before being brought under control.

Gusty winds, extremely dry conditions and a very low humidity made for a difficult fire fight. No homes or structures were damaged in the overnight blaze. The rocky terrain and darkness also complicated the situation. 

Gov. Mary Fallin has named a career prosecutor as the new district attorney for three south-central Oklahoma counties.

Fallin says Paul Smith of Seminole was appointed Friday as district attorney for Seminole, Hughes and Pontotoc counties. He replaces Chris Ross, who retired on Jan. 1, and will serve out the remainder of Ross's term, which expires in January 2019.

NWS-Norman Twitter

Hundreds of the nation's top meteorologists and disaster recovery experts will converge on Oklahoma City next week for the sixth-annual tornado summit, even though much of the discussion is likely to have more to do with temblors, not twisters.

The previous five years, forecasters and first responders assembled in the gut of Tornado Alley to talk about the natural disasters taking place above ground. Below the surface, thousands of earthquakes were rattling the state.

Tulsa Metro Under a Burn Ban

Feb 11, 2017
Governor's Office

Governor Fallin has issued a BURN BAN for 53 counties in Oklahoma because of the extremely dry conditions. The ban includes all of the Tulsa Metro.

"Critical fire weather and worsening drought have created conditions very conducive to wildfires," said Fallin. "A burn ban is now necessary to reduce the risk of preventable wildfires and to protect lives and property.”

The oil and gas industry continued a slow recovery this week, as the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 12 to 741.

Oklahoma, however, is among eight states with no change in their numbers.

A year ago, 541 rigs were active.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday 591 rigs sought oil and 149 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Texas increased by seven rigs, New Mexico was up by four rigs, Louisiana and West Virginia each gained two and Pennsylvania was up one.

In a video released by the Norman Police Department, Amelia Molitor said she rejected Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon's advances before Mixon punched her and broke bones in her face.

Mixon punched Molitor at a Norman restaurant in July 2014 and broke her jaw and cheekbone. He was suspended for a year. Mixon entered an Alford plea, acknowledging there was likely enough evidence to convict him of misdemeanor assault while still asserting innocence.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum took his gospel on data-driven policy to the nation’s capital.

As part of a talk about reducing partisanship in local government titled "Why Partisan Rhetoric is for Losers," Bynum retold the story of his Tulsa mayoral election victory over Dewey Bartlett. Bynum said despite being cast as a Democrat in the nonpartisan race while Bartlett sold himself as a Republican’s Republican, he relied on data-driven policy to win by 17 points.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Among the first bills passed by the Oklahoma House are two restoring some of the legislature’s oversight of rules written by state agencies.

Muskogee Republican George Faught said in 2013 the state changed from requiring standalone legislation for new rules to an omnibus process, where all new rules are in a single, lengthy bill. Faught said the Senate hasn’t passed an omnibus resolution since.

naval-technology.com

One of the Navy’s newest ships, the USS Tulsa, will be officially christened tomorrow. Tulsa native and Navy Lt. Travis Nicks and his family will be on hand in Mobile, Alabama for the ceremony. He says the naming of a ship for a person or place is one of the highest honors the Navy can give.

The USS Tulsa is a state-of-the-art Littoral LCS-16 combat ship. Former Mayor Kathy Taylor and her family are sponsors of the ship, and she will get to break a bottle of champagne on the bow, carrying out the official christening.

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