Local & Regional

Horia Varlan / Flickr

 

The father and son owners of an Oklahoma publishing company have been charged with conducting fraudulent business practices.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office on Thursday filed felony charges against both Richard Tate and Ryan Tate of embezzlement, extortion by threat and racketeering and misdemeanor embezzlement.

The owners of Tate Publishing and Enterprise in Mustang were arrested Thursday morning and ordered jailed on $100,000 bond each. Court records do not list attorneys for them and a message left with Tate Publishing was not returned.

In the local news:

  • Lawmakers debate ways to raise revenue for the state.
  • State Farm will exit Tulsa, taking over 500 jobs with it.
  • Keystone Lake levels are continuing to rise.

 

Agriculture experts in Oklahoma estimate the state's farmers planted 10 percent fewer acres of winter wheat at the end of last year, opting to use the acreage for more profitable endeavors.

The Oklahoman reports the information revealed at an Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association meeting Wednesday shows the number of acres farmers plant for winter wheat has dropped over the past five years.

OKC Fire Department-Facebook

 

Firefighters say 19 people have been safely rescued from a roller coaster that was stuck on the tracks at an Oklahoma City amusement park.

Fire Lt. Ray Lujan says the last person was removed from the Silver Bullet at Frontier City shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday and no injuries are reported. The ride became stuck about 11:30 a.m.

Lujan says it isn't clear how high off the ground the group was when the ride became stuck, but that the roller coaster is 83 feet tall at its highest point.

Over 500 Tulsa Jobs to Leave Town

May 5, 2017

Tulsa is about to lose 530 jobs. State Farm Insurance has announced it will close its regional office in Tulsa. The closure is part of a system wide realignment.

The jobs will be phased out over the next two years. The facility,  near 51st and the Broken Arrow Expressway, will close in 2019. The employees will be given a chance to relocate.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum called the news "disappointing", while the Regional Chamber of Commerce called it "unwelcomed news".

State Farm opened its regional office in 1980.

KWGS

Citing costs faced by North Dakota in the wake of Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the Oklahoma House passed a bill creating liability for anyone who compensates protesters.

House Bill 2128 says anyone who compensates, remunerates or provides consideration to someone who causes damage while trespassing may be held liable.

Rep. Mark McBride faced a barrage of questions from Democrats, including Rep. Cory Williams, who asked what constitutes compensation under HB2128.

"It means just what we want it to on this bill. How about that?" McBride said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A day after Gov. Mary Fallin chastised lawmakers for a lack of progress in closing Oklahoma's $878 million budget gap, the Senate sent her four bills worth a total estimated $7.4 million in new revenue next year.

One of those bills given final passage by the Senate, however, won’t have an impact until 2023. House Bill 2358 ends a fuel tax discount on July 1, 2022. Senator Roger Thompson said the discount was instituted to benefit retailers doing all the administrative work.

Miami Emergency Management

 

 Thunderstorms that dropped several more inches of rain in waterlogged eastern Oklahoma have moved out of state, leaving at least one town's streets flooded and local riverbanks swollen.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Wednesday for several rivers in northeast Oklahoma, including the Caney River and Bird Creek, where up to 3 inches of rain fell overnight.

Tulsa Police

 

 A judge will allow video evidence during a manslaughter trial for an Oklahoma police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed black man.

Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby is charged with first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 16 death of Terence Crutcher. Shelby has pleaded not guilty.

District Judge Doug Drummond found the video is relevant to the case because it shows the conduct of Shelby and the other officers at the scene. It shows what took place moments after Shelby's interaction with Crutcher from a helicopter.

Brookdale

   A Tulsa County judge has dismissed a manslaughter charge against a man who was accused of culpable negligence in an 84-year-old woman's death on an assisted-living facility's bus last year.

The Tulsa World reports that 25-year-old Johnathan Kendrick was charged in December with second-degree manslaughter in the Aug. 28 death of Mary Schlecht, a resident of the Brookdale Tulsa Midtown facility.

Court records show District Judge James Caputo dismissed the count at the state's cost during Kendrick's hearing Monday. Prosecutors plan to appeal his decision.

 

 Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation aimed at increasing some lottery payouts in Oklahoma, a move that supporters hope will increase funding for schools.

The Oklahoman reports the legislation signed Tuesday won't affect multistate lottery games like Powerball, but that people who buy scratch-off tickets should see a change in July. Lottery officials say they hope the move stimulates sales of instant-win scratch tickets and in turn boosts funding for public schools, CareerTech institutions, colleges and universities.

In the local news:

  • The Governor says she will veto the budget if it guts state government again.
  • A Sapulpa 2nd Grade Teacher is arrested on drug issues.
  • The FOP files an ethics complaint against Tulsa's D.A.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Broken Arrow now owns the property where two brothers murdered five of their family members in 2015.

The city embarked on a fundraising campaign in February with plans to turn the former Bever family home site into a memorial garden.

"For me, it was helping ... those people on Magnolia Court [and] our first responders to make this property go away and create something that was healing and that would bring some tranquility to them and some healing not only to Broken Arrow, but to the metropolitan area," said Broken Arrow Councilman Mike Lester.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In the seven weeks they have to fine tune next year’s budget, Tulsa city councilors will also have to decide what to do with $2.8 million in unallocated funds that will carry over.

Councilors can add them to the city’s version of a rainy day fund or apply them to a list of $1.4 million worth of needs.

"So, it's just a matter of kind of balancing those interests and considering whether we need to shore up those reserves or address some critical, one-time expenditures," said Jack Blair, Mayor G.T. Bynum's chief of staff.

Matt Trotter/KWGS News / KWGS

The Tulsa chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police files a grievance with the state bar against District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.

Tulsa FOP Chairman Jerad Lindsey said Kunzweiler was under pressure to charge Officer Betty Shelby with manslaughter after she fatally shot Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed.

"Many of us look nationwide to similar situations and the outcome of those, whether it be Ferguson or wherever, and I believe that there was a want and a need by all parties involved to not have that happen in Tulsa," Lindsey said.

KWGS News/State of Oklahoma

 

Gov. Mary Fallin is urging state lawmakers to act on revenue-raising legislation and says she will veto next year's state budget if it does not include additional revenue to fund state services.

With less than one month left in the 2017 Oklahoma Legislature, Fallin appeared Wednesday with dozens of state agency heads, health care workers and educators. Fallin says the services they provide are in jeopardy without additional revenue.

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has scheduled special elections to fill vacant seats in the state House and Senate.

Fallin on Wednesday set elections for Senate District 45 and House District 76.

Former Sen. Kyle Loveless of Oklahoma City resigned the Senate seat April 27 as he's being investigated for his use of campaign funds.

The House seat is open due to the death of Rep. David Brumbaugh of Broken Arrow.

Sapulpa Teacher Busted for Drugs in the Classroom

May 3, 2017
Sapulpa Public Schools

 

A Sapulpa 2nd grade teacher has been arrested at school on drug and embezzlement complaints and police say drugs and syringes were found in her purse.

Police in Sapulpa told reporters that officers were called after the teacher left a social media account open on another teacher's computer and the second teacher found a conversation in which the suspect discussed using and selling heroin and pawning school-owned items.

Traffic Snarls Ahead for Broken Arrow

May 3, 2017
Google Street View

 

The City of Broken Arrow is advising drivers that a nearly two-mile stretch of Kenosha (71st) Street, from Garnett Road to Aspen Avenue will be under construction until early September, weather permitting. The work is scheduled to begin around May 15.

Due to the extensive construction activity that will be taking place, drivers need to be alert and cautious of workers who will be on the roadway. The speed limit will also be reduced to 35 miles per hour. Motorists are reminded that traffic fines double in active work zones.

KWGS News

A man, sitting in the middle of Garnett Road, is struck and killed this morning in Tulsa. Tulsa Police say the crash took place just before six this morning during a heavy thunderstorms near 53rd Street. It is unclear why the 30-year-old was in the roadway.

The man was transported by EMSA to a Tulsa hospital where he was declared dead. The Police Department closed the roadway while it investigated the crash.

In the local news:

  • BREAKING-- A man is struck and killed while crossing Garnett Road at 53rd Street.
  • The  State House votes to freeze the standard Oklahoma Income Tax deduction at current levels.
  • North Tulsans say they want a grocery store. not another discount variety store.

 

Devon Energy Corp. plans to sell off $1 billion worth of assets to focus more on drilling in Oklahoma, west Texas and New Mexico.

The company said on Tuesday that the sales are expected to be completed during the next 18 months and will include part of its holdings in the Barnett Shale in north Texas.

Central and southern Oklahoma's Sooner Trend Anadarko Basin Canadian and Kingfisher counties fields and west Texas and New Mexico's Delaware Basin now will be Devon's focus, the company said.

Joplin Police

 

A man whose original conviction for a Joplin murder was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court accepted a plea deal that will send him to prison for 20 years.

Twenty-two-year-old Daniel Hartman entered Alford pleas Monday to second-degree murder and armed criminal action for his role in the death of 23-year-old Jacob Wages of Joplin.

NASA

A Texas state agency has withdrawn its ownership claim to 10 microfilm Bibles that Apollo astronauts took into space, leading an Oklahoma judge to award them to an author who says they were bequeathed to her.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services dropped its claim to the so-called first lunar Bibles last week. The judge ordered them given to Carol Mersch in a court document filed Friday.

Eight of the postage stamp-sized Bibles landed on the moon during the 1971 Apollo 14 mission.

File photo

  Oklahoma has had one of the busiest death chambers in the country for decades, executing more people per capita than any other state since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that death sentences could resume.

File Photo

The Oklahoma House approved a budget bill Tuesday freezing the state’s standard income tax deduction at current federal levels.

House Bill 2348 means Oklahoma’s standard deductions would be $6,350 for single filers, $12,700 for joint filers or $9,350 for heads of household for this tax year forward. Otherwise, they would increase with the federal standard deduction.

"We can have this be higher than the federal deduction. We can have it be lower than the federal deduction," said Rep. Lewis Moore. "It is what is required revenue-wise to provide for the people of Oklahoma."

ODOT

    

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma transportation officials have suspended construction on about a dozen highway projects, citing uncertainties with the state's budget.

The Oklahoman

  reports the Oklahoma Transportation Commission voted to defer action Monday on the award of nine highway construction projects. Executive Director Mick Patterson also announced that a memo has been sent to his division engineers, asking them to scrutinize a list of 80 previously awarded projects.

Bracing for More Rain

May 2, 2017
NWS-Graphic

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect from Tuesday night through Thursday morning across Northeast Oklahoma. A strong upper storm system will force a broad swath of 1 to 2 inch rains across northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas beginning tonight and continuing into Thursday morning. Some locally heavier amounts are possible. This rain will fall on areas where soils are still fairly saturated from the heavy weekend rains, and the resulting runoff could cause flash flooding, despite the fact that expected rainfall rates would not normally support flash flooding.

 

  

Authorities in Oklahoma say 10 people have been charged with drug-related offenses after a marijuana cigarette found inside a child's Easter basket at a school led police to a home were marijuana was growing.

The Shawnee News-Star reports that the police investigation began last month after a teacher who was counting Easter eggs discovered the marijuana cigarette inside a student's basket at school. Shawnee Police Cpl. Vivian Lozano says the basket had been dropped off by the student's aunt.

KWGS News file photo

Americans lose roughly $100 billion dollars a year through gambling. A new study of all 50 states shows where gambling addiction is most prevalent, and Oklahoma ranks high in several categories. Jill Gonzalez is a top analyst with WalletHub. She says Oklahoma ranks 7th overall in the list of most gambling addicted states.

Oklahoma is tied for first in casinos per capita, second in gaming machines per capita, ranks high in illegal sports gambling, and is 11th in the percentage of adults with gambling disorders.

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