Local & Regional

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The Environmental Protection Agency is barring The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants.

The EPA blocked the news organizations from attending Tuesday's Washington meeting, convened by EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred.

Mary Fallin

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says burn bans are being lifted in half of the 14 counties where they have been in place due to extreme fire conditions.

Fallin said Tuesday that recent rainfall has had a positive impact on some parched areas of the state, but the drought continues in northwestern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Fallin says she modified the burn ban on the recommendation of Oklahoma Forestry Services. Counties where burn bans will remain in effect are: Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Harper, Texas, Woods and Woodward.

File Photo

 

An Oklahoma lawsuit accusing an oil company of being responsible for damage caused by earthquakes in 2011 has gained class-action status and will go to trial.

 A judge ruled the class includes citizens with property in nine central Oklahoma counties that were damaged by the earthquakes near Prague.

The lawsuit alleges that New Dominion LLC's wastewater disposal operations caused a trio of earthquakes in November 2011. The quakes included a magnitude 5.7, which was the strongest quake in recorded state history until 2016.

Tulsa Police

A video arraignment is held for the Tulsa mother accused of stabbing one child, gagging another and then abducting a third child.                

Tarheera Almad is using a public defender as she faces four felony cases. The judge set a preliminary hearing for June 14th during this morning’s hearing.

The 39-year-old is accused of stabbing her 11 year-old over 50 times and then setting the house on fire. Her nine year-old daughter was bound and gaged but escaped and went for help. She is then accused of taking her 8-year-old daughter and fleeing. That led to an Amber alert.

Tulsa Public Schools

  

Some members of the Tulsa School Board may be suffering from “renaming remorse.” Several board members say the name change from "Robert E. Lee" to just "Lee Elementary" does not go far enough.

The board voted to make the change earlier in the month, as it reviews the names of all Tulsa Schools. The Robert E. Lee name is considered offensive to some because of his slave holdings and Confederate General status in the Civil War.

Board member, Dr. Cindy Decker, apologized  last night for her vote:

In the local news:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court takes up an appeal that could change the legal landscape of Oklahoma.
  • The Tulsa Ozone Alert Season is off to a rough start. Officials are concerned what a hot, dry summer could bring.
  • A Tulsa "non-stop" flight takes two days to make it to San Diego.

KWGS News File Photo

 

Lack of rainfall and above-average temperatures are prolonging the drought conditions that have stressed crops and rangelands and placed new pressures on groundwater sources across the U.S. Southern Plains.

New Mexico State Climatologist Dave Dubois said Monday that while some areas of the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Oklahoma have received plentiful precipitation in recent days, other parts of those states plus New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas have experienced only spotty precipitation since October.

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An appeals court has upheld the 2014 firing of an Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality attorney accused of conspiring with a lawmaker to cut the agency's budget.

The Oklahoman reports that the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals unanimously affirmed last week the decisions of lower courts that Mista Burgess' dismissal was lawful.

Department administrators fired Burgess as supervising attorney in May 2014. Burgess was accused of conspiring with colleague Wendy Caperton and then-Rep. Don Armes to cut the department's budget.

OPMX

Experts are looking at how Oklahoma's seismic activity impacts critical infrastructure as frequent, low-level earthquake swarms continue to pop off throughout the state.

The Tulsa World reports that Oklahoma has experienced 80 earthquakes of 3.0 or greater magnitudes this year through Thursday morning. The Oklahoma Geological Survey says that 2015 was the state's peak year, with just over 900 quakes of 3.0 or greater.

File photo

Tulsa has already had as many Ozone Alert days this year as last year, and a summer that’s expected to be hot and dry means there could be many more.

"It’s looking like we’re going to have a summer where there will be the need to do what we can do on certain days. You know, postpone your mowing until a non-ozone alert day," said INCOG Air Quality Program Manager Nancy Graham.

The Tulsa area has had three alert days in May. There have been four or fewer alert days every year since 25 of them in 2011 and 21 in 2012.

Oklahoma Office of Highway Safety

Dozens of Oklahoma law enforcement agencies are participating in the "Click It or Ticket" seatbelt crackdown now through June 3.

Oklahoma Highway Safety Office Director Paul Harris said there will be zero tolerance for people not wearing seatbelts, but tickets aren't the intent.

"So many times we hear about the enforcement part, we’re trying to raise money or we’re trying to infringe on people’s rights. That is not the case," Harris said. "We’re all Oklahomans. We love Oklahoma, and we want Oklahomans to be safe so that we can have you around for years and years."

Oklahoma DOC

 

The Supreme Court will hear Oklahoma's plea to reinstate the murder conviction and death sentence of an American Indian.

The justices on Monday said they will review an appellate ruling that overturned the conviction and sentence of Patrick Dwayne Murphy. He claimed he should have been tried in federal, not state, court because he is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the crime occurred in Indian territory.

Jessica Anzai-Twitter

A non-stop flight from Tulsa to San Diego made a stop last night. In fact, it was an emergency stop at Albuquerque. 

Frontier Airlines flight 1839 left Tulsa about 9:30 last night but was later diverted to the New Mexico airport when pilots noticed a smoky smell in the cockpit. Oxygen masks did not drop from the ceiling.  

The passengers were rescheduled on other flights today.  Frontier started the non-stop service just last month.

In the local news:

  • Mental Health will get more state funding.
  • A former Tulsa eatery could become an office complex.
  • Higher energy prices mean more Oklahoms hiring.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s mental health officials are breathing a little easier. The new state budget for the first time in years, does not cut mental health funding. In fact, the department is getting an increase.

Director Terri White says that is good news. The department is getting an additional $11-million.  That figures to a 3% budget hike for the department.

White says however that is not enough to off set the years of cuts. The new budget becomes effective on July 1st. 

From Eatery to Office Space

May 21, 2018
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The closed Spaghetti Warehouse, downtown, is getting a new owner. However don’t expect to get pasta and meatballs there.  

There are reports the WPX Energy is buying the structure for office expansion. WPX is a Tulsa-based drilling firm.

The Spaghetti Warehouse closed last year after business sharply dropped off. 

KWGS News File

 

Law enforcement authorities say at least one person is dead following a boating accident on a central Oklahoma lake.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the accident occurred late Saturday night on Lake Thunderbird in Cleveland County.

Officials say at least one person was killed in the accident and two other people were pulled from the water. Their conditions were not immediately known.

KWGS File photo

 

The head of the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association says Gov. Mary Fallin's veto of legislation involving state prison inmates incarcerated in county jails will worsen financial and legal problems for sheriffs.

The Oklahoman reports the bill would have eliminated financial consequences to counties that don't notify the Department of Corrections within five days of a county jail inmate being sentenced to state prison. The bill involved the payment of incarceration expenses of state prison inmates held in county jails.

Journalism Group Honors KWGS

May 20, 2018
Kendall Trotter

The Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists honors Public Radio 89.5. KWGS won numerous awards at the SPJ’s annual banquet, held in Tulsa at the Warren Place Doubletree Hotel on Saturday.

KWGS News was honored with a 1st Place award for best radio newscast in Oklahoma. The cast was anchored by John Durkee and featured the reporting of Matt Trotter and Marshall Stewart.

The station’s ‘Studio Tulsa’ picked up two awards from the Society. General Manager and host Rich Fisher accepted those awards on behalf of himself and producer Scott Gregory.

Some Rain Today, But Then Cooler

May 20, 2018
NWS Graphic

Showers and thunderstorms continue early this morning across eastern Oklahoma. The main threat with these storms will be strong or damaging wind gusts. The severe potential for this afternoon may be more limited in areas that had rain overnight. The higher severe potential will likely be across far southeast Oklahoma. An outflow boundary extended from roughly Gainesville to Atoka, and this could serve as a focus for storm development later today. Otherwise, main hazards with ongoing storms will be brief heavy rainfall, gusty winds and lightning.

Many Felons Can’t Vote, But They Can Lobby at the Capitol

May 20, 2018
State of Oklahoma

As a convicted felon on a suspended sentence, former state Rep. Gus Blackwell can’t vote. But he can still lobby his former colleagues in the Legislature.

Blackwell, who left office in 2014 and became a registered lobbyist, was convicted in 2017 of “double-dipping” on his per diem and travel claims when he was a legislator. He remained a lobbyist and still can be seen in the Capitol corridors pressing the interests of his client.

Lake Keystone Crash Kills Tulsa Man

May 20, 2018
OHP-Facebook

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating a late afternoon fatality motorcycle crash near Lake Keystone. The Patrol say 54-year-old Edward Landes of Tulsa was killed when he lost control of his 2005 Yamaha motorcycle near the White Water Park at Lake Keystone.

EMSA reports he was dead at the scene from massive injuries.

The Highway Patrol says Landes was not wearing a helmet. The crash took place just before 5:30 Saturday afternoon.

Saturday Storms Caused Damage in Osage County

May 20, 2018
Danette Daniels-Facebook

The cleanup and assessment is underway in Osage County. Several towns sustained heavy damage from storms that passed through on Friday. The storms spawned at least one tornado. It was reported west of Pawhuska along Highway 60. It caused no major damage.

The town of Fairfax took the brunt of the storm. Damage was reported at the town’s Post Office and High School. Numerous trees were snapped and power lines were downed. It is believed this damage was caused by straight line winds.

BREAKING WEATHER

May 19, 2018

TORNADO WARNING until 3:30 for Osage and Pawnee Counties.

A Mixed Weekend For Green Country

May 19, 2018
NWS Graphic

There is an elevated risk of severe storms this afternoon and evening, mainly across Osage and Pawnee counties in northeast Oklahoma. Large hail to 2 inches in diameter, damaging winds to 70 mph and an isolated tornado are possible. A limited risk of severe storms exists southeast of the elevated risk area, and includes areas to the north of the I-44 corridor in northeast Oklahoma. Hail to the size of golf balls and damaging winds to 60 mph are possible in the limited risk area.

Tulsa Man Drowns at Keystone

May 19, 2018
KWGS File photo

A man drowns in Lake Keystone near the Harbor Marina. It happened about 9 p.m. when 47-year-old Michael Goodenough jumped from a house boat into about 100-feet of water. Witnesses say he was going for a swim.

His body was recovered an hour late in about 30-feet of water. The OHP Marine Enforcement Division says Goodenough was not wearing  a life jacket. He was dead at the scene according to Mannford EMS.

Tulsa County Sheriff

Police have arrested a teacher's aide in central Oklahoma after allegations she was high on meth during work.

Edmond Police arrested 42-year-old Amanda Greenfield this week for public intoxication, possession of a controlled dangerous substance 1,000 feet of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A man who terrorized a woman and her 2-year-old granddaughter in Branson has been sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole.

Federal prosecutors say 35-year-old Alberto Colina Jr., of Muskogee, Oklahoma, was sentenced Friday for being a felon in possession of a firearm and stealing a firearm.

Investigators say in January 2016, Colina carjacked a truck and also terrorized a 63-year-old woman and her granddaughter in an apartment for nearly two hours. He hit the woman with the weapon and forced her take drugs while ransacking the apartment.

File photo

The official tapped to lead Oklahoma's embattled Department of Health says his office already has implemented some of the recommendations from a scathing multi-county grand jury report that said financial mismanagement led to nearly 200 employees unnecessarily being laid off.

Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates released a statement Friday outlining steps he's taken since taking over the agency about two months ago.

Bates said the department is still struggling to find a qualified permanent chief financial officer and controller.

OU

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by one this week to 1,046.

At this time a year ago there were 901 active rigs.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 844 rigs drilled for oil this week and 200 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, New Mexico added three rigs and Texas tacked on two. Kansas gained one.

Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota and Ohio each shed one rig.

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