Local & Regional

KWGS File photo

Oklahoma anti-tax "zombies" were pushed away from the state Capitol in mock event by groups supporting tax increases to prevent cuts to social services.

Saturday's event featuring people dressed as zombies was staged by Together Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Videos are posted on Facebook and Twitter .

Charles Martin of Together Oklahoma says the group supports increasing gross production taxes on oil and gas from 2 percent to 7 percent, which would raise an estimated $400 million.

Riverwind Casino

High winds and torrential rains accompanying a likely tornado tore part of the roof off of an Oklahoma casino while the Beach Boys were playing a concert attended by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Fallin says in an interview with KWTV that she had to be evacuated from the Riverwind Casino in Norman, Oklahoma, twice during the concert Saturday night. She says that at one point: "I looked up towards the balcony and there was this huge flood of rain coming through the roof." The building was evacuated at that point because of concern the roof would collapse.

OSSAA website

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma State's Ramon Richards intercepted a Sam Ehlinger pass in the end zone in overtime and Matt Ammendola kicked a field goal, giving the Number 10 Cowboys a 13-10 victory over Texas. The Cowboys scored the winning points on a 34-yard field goal by Ammendola on the first possession of OT. He missed a 29-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. 

KWGS Severe Weather Information Clearing House

Oct 21, 2017
NWS-Tulsa

Here is your one stop location for information you need concerning our severe weather threat in Green Country.

KWGS File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former Oklahoma inmate is suing authorities he says refused treatment for a painful erection that lasted nearly four days.

The lawsuit filed for 32-year-old Dustin Lance says the erection began Dec. 16 after he swallowed an unidentified pill he got from another inmate. He wasn't taken to a hospital until Dec. 19.

Lance seeks $5 million from Pittsburg County, the county sheriff and others, claiming Lance's constitutional and civil rights were violated and that his injury is irreparable. The county is about 130 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's House Speaker says the state has funds available that could protect health care services impacted by the state's $215 million budget cut.

Three health care agencies will be most affected by the loss of an unconstitutional cigarette fee. They began reducing monthly spending this month to account for the money lost.

Speaker of the House Charles McCall said Thursday that the funds would delay cuts until 2018 "or until a strategic budget solution is reached."

KWGS File photo

Oklahoma claims a large share of the $30 billion U.S. tribal gaming industry.

An analysis commissioned by the American Gaming Association finds Indian casinos in the state accounted for $8.7 billion in sales and 66,000 jobs.

"And that's not to mention the nearly $2.2 billion in tax revenue and the $3.6 billion in employee wages that go to those 66,000 employees across the state," said AGA's Steve Doty.

Pixabay

Whether it’s moderate or severe, a financial stress test finds Oklahoma is not prepared for the next national recession.

Moody’s Analytics’ study says states need at least 10 percent of their budgets in reserve funds to weather a moderate recession, and 16 for a severe one on par with the Great Recession.

Oklahoma has about 4 percent saved, making it the third-worst prepared state for an economic downturn, behind North Dakota and Louisiana.

Google Street View

 

Oklahoma's top auditor says the FBI and the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office are interested in a critical audit that indicates more than $1.7 million in utility revenue collected by a small southeastern Oklahoma city was never deposited.

State Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones said Friday a forensic audit by his agency shows utility revenue collected between July 2009 and July 2016 by the city of Hartshorne. 

 

A settlement has been reached between two Oklahoma oil and natural gas companies and a woman who was injured in a 2011 earthquake.

The Oklahoman reports that Prague resident Sandra Ladra filed the lawsuit in 2014 against New Dominion LLC, Spess Oil Co. and 25 other unnamed companies.

The lawsuit alleges the companies are liable because they operated wastewater disposal wells that triggered the largest earthquake in state history, a 5.7-magnitude temblor in 2011. Ladra says the quake crumbled her fireplace, causing rocks to fall on her knee.

Google Street View

 

Arkansas-based Simmons First National Corporation has announced the completion of its purchase of both Southwest Bancorp, Inc. of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and First Texas, BHC of Fort Worth, Texas.

Simmons said Friday that shareholders of the two companies approved the transactions earlier this month. Terms of the purchase were not released.

Southwest Bancorp is the parent company of Bank SNB and First Texas is the parent company of Southwest Bank.

Amazon

Tulsa is among the dozens of cities vying for Amazon HQ2, the company's $5 billion second headquarters and its promise of up to 50,000 high-paying jobs, but it could come at a cost to current residents.

A study by Apartment List estimates existing renters would see rents rise through the roof.

"That's especially true for lower-income renters who may be already struggling and just barely making ends meet, and if their rents are increasing another 2-plus percent a year, they'll really struggle," said research associate Sydney Bennet.

SPC

 

Heavy thunderstorms with strong winds, large hail and possibly tornadoes are forecast during the weekend in much of Oklahoma and Arkansas and parts of Texas.

The National Weather Service says a cold front moving into the region will bring storms starting primarily Saturday afternoon in the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma, then spread into northern Texas and eastern Oklahoma and move eastward across Arkansas.

In the local news:

  • With state social service budgets slashed, local non-profits are bracing for an influx of clients.
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses Oklahoma Sheriffs.
  • Bob Bates is out of prison.

   

A man accused of attempting to blow up a bank in downtown Oklahoma City has been indicted.

An Oklahoma City federal grand jury formally charged 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell this week of one count of attempted use of an explosive device.

The FBI arrested Varnell in August on a charge of attempting to detonate what he believed to be explosives in a van outside the BancFirst building.

Court records show the FBI discovered Varnell's alleged plans last year and closely monitored Varnell for months before the arrest.

State of Oklahoma

 

Gov. Mary Fallin has named Oklahoma's commissioner of public safety as the state's new adjutant general.

Fallin said Thursday she has appointed Michael C. Thompson as secretary of the military and adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard. Thompson currently serves as secretary of safety and security and as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.

Thompson will take over command of the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard Nov. 15. Fallin's spokesman Michael McNutt says Fallin will name a new public safety commissioner to replace him.

KGOU

 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended his agency's civil asset forfeiture program and decried the rising number of homicides and opioid deaths nationwide during a speech before dozens of Oklahoma sheriffs and law enforcement officers.

Sessions was the keynote speaker Thursday during a meeting of the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association in Midwest City.

Tulsa Non-Profit Says Need is Growing

Oct 19, 2017
KWGS News

As the state slashes social service budgets, Tulsa’s nearly 50-year-old, Neighbor-For-Neighbor is bracing for an influx of new clients. Executive Director Ann Smith says the need is already great and growing.

They offer medical, dentistry and optometry services as well as a food bank and certain medications. They receive no state or United Way funding.

The non-profit purchased the old Northland Shopping Center at 36th Street North and Hartford. It bases its operations from there.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says federal officials have extended the state's deadline for complying with the REAL ID Act to Oct. 10, 2018.

Fallin said Thursday that the compliance deadline was extended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agency's previous deadline for complying with the federal law passed last week.

Fallin says the extension means that the federal government will continue to recognize Oklahoma driver's licenses and ID cards for entering federal buildings and installations for another year.

Bob Bates Released from Prison

Oct 19, 2017
DOC

Former Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates has been released from prison. The former voluntary lawman was sentenced for the 2015 death of a suspect during a sting operation.

Eric Harris, a suspect in a gun running operation, was fleeing on foot from deputies on North Harvard in Tulsa. While trying to subdue Harris, Bates pulled his gun and shot Harris. Bates said at the time, he thought he had pulled his taser.

In the local news:

  • Mental Health programs brace for a drastic state cut.
  • A jury finds Ex-Cop Shannon Kepler guilty of killing his estranged daughter's boy friend.
  • The mayor thinks Tulsa has a real shot at landing Amazon's 2HQ

Tulsa County Booking Photo

 

A former Tulsa Police officer has been convicted of first-degree manslaughter in his fourth trial for the 2014 fatal shooting of his estranged daughter's boyfriend.

Jurors reached a verdict for the lesser charge late Wednesday in ex-Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's first-degree murder trial. The jury recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 20.

File photo

More than 78,000 Oklahomans will practice what to do during an earthquake Thursday, Oct. 19, at 10:19 a.m.

"As an Okie, you know, growing up, we were taught during tornadoes at school to get in a crouching position and put your hands over your neck," said Melinda Belcher, who is leading an earthquake drill at the Community Service Council. "And I've noticed a lot of similarities with an earthquake drill, except you need to get under a desk or a table and assume the same position but use the other arm to hold on to something."

STUART, Okla. (AP) — A small Oklahoma school district has adopted a policy saying students, athletes and spectators are "expected" to stand during the national anthem with no "gestures of demonstration or protest."

The policy adopted by the school board says it isn't intended to force anyone to violate their religious, political or social beliefs. It asks that all stand out of respect to those who have died for the country.

The policy says students who violate the policy would be disciplined on a case-by-case basis. Potential action against spectators is not addressed.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A white former Oklahoma police officer on trial for the fourth time in the 2014 killing of his daughter's black boyfriend told jurors Wednesday he had no choice but to shoot the young man.

Former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler was the last witness called in the case. He doesn't deny that he shot 19-year-old Jeremey Lake, but he said he did so because he believed Lake was armed.

Kepler said he saw Lake reaching into his waistband, so he shot him. No weapon was found on or near Lake's body.

Laureate Gets Huge Grant for Brain Research

Oct 18, 2017
St. Francis Health System

The Laureate Institute for Brain Research was awarded an $11.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health  this fall. Known as a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence  award, this is the largest grant awarded to LIBR to date. LIBR was founded by The William K. Warren Foundation in 2009.  Funding for this CoBRE grant comes from NIH’s Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research initiative that funds research in states where populations are medically under-served.

Oklahoma Watch

The director of the agency that provides mental health and substance abuse services says outpatient programs provided to 189,000 Oklahomans will be eliminated and other services will be cut on Nov. 1 due to a state budget gap that's forcing a $75 million cut to the agency's budget.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa are showcasing cultural, recreational and quality-of-life attractions as Oklahoma's two largest cities compete for Amazon's second headquarters in North America.

The online retail giant will clearly need tech-savvy talent and will likely seek subsidies. But leaders are touting more than 160 miles of hiking and biking trails, world-class training venues for Olympic rowing, and the archives of American musical icons Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

KWGS News File photo

The former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is suing an insurance company and broker because she says the $4 million she received for a lost blue diamond ring isn't enough.

  Kathy Taylor's federal lawsuit filed in Tulsa seeks more than $75,000. It alleges AIG Property Casualty Co. paid $4 million for the loss, but hasn't covered the ring's full value.

The insurance broker, Integro USA Inc., filed a motion to dismiss the case in which it says Taylor and her husband rejected a policy that would have covered any increase in the ring's value.

In the local news:

  • The head of Tulsa's ambulance service steps down.
  • New state tests scores are not pretty for Tulsa School students.
  • A proposal is floated to cut lawmakers' pay.

Pages