Local & Regional

DHS Wants Additional $42-Million

Jan 23, 2017

The giant Oklahoma Department of Human Services say it is going to near over $42-million to finish out the last six-months of this year. Representative Pat Ownbey heads the committee that oversees the DHS.

He is not surprised by the request. But, Ownbey says the request would be hard to fulfill with Oklahoma's cash crisis.              

The state is facing a $900-million shortfall. The DHS says without it, programs will be cut and employees furloughed.

Double Homicide at Sapulpa Business

Jan 23, 2017
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Two people are dead after being shot to death last night at a small convenience store and gas station in Sapulpa. No names have been released.

The OSBI has been called in to aid the Sapulpa Police Department in its investigation. The business is a Main and Burnham in Sapulpa.

Police believe robbery may have been the motive for the double homicide. 

Investigators believe the victims were a customer and a clerk. No suspects have been identified, but authorities say they are reviewing surveillance video from the store.

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 More than $56 million worth of school bond issues will be on Tulsa-area ballots next month.

Voters will decide Feb. 14 on the packages for Union, Jenks and Skiatook Public Schools.

Union Public Schools proposes a $26 million bond package to ensure the next phase of construction at the district's new elementary school.

Skiatook Public Schools has a near-$20 million bond package to finish the second phase of construction at Skiatook Elementary and provide funding for a technology initiative for students, among other projects.

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 A Church of Scientology-backed drug rehabilitation program in southeastern Oklahoma where four clients died continues to operate because of a loophole in a state law.

Under Stacy's Law, Narconon Arrowhead lost its state certification for a medical detox facility in McAlester in 2013 and subsequently closed.

But The Oklahoman newspaper reports that the loophole lets the facility continue to operate its drug rehabilitation program certified not as an inpatient treatment program, but as a halfway house.

In the Local News:

  • The DHS says it needs over $42-million in additional funding.
  • Two people are killed at a Sapulpa gas station.
  • Rallies are held for women's rights in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Bills to Boost Teacher Salaries Pour Into Capitol

Jan 22, 2017
KWGS File photo

Among the deluge of bills filed by state legislators in advance of the upcoming session are more than two dozen proposals to boost teacher pay.

Teachers, disappointed by the defeat of State Question 779, which would have generated about $550 million a year for education through a 1 percent sales tax, say they’re counting on legislators to do more than just talk.

OKC Fire Department-Facebook

Oklahoma City police are investigating after firefighters discovered a body in a burning car on the city's northwest side.

Oklahoma City firefighters responded to a car fire early Saturday morning and found one person dead inside the burning vehicle.

Authorities have not released the name of the person and said the investigation was ongoing Saturday.

OSU

Members of an Oklahoma State University fraternity have suspended social events for the academic year after the death of a member by alcohol poisoning last year.

The Oklahoman newspaper reports that the Sigma Chi fraternity put themselves on social probation.

Twenty-year-old Brandon Matthew Cavazos of Bedford, Texas, was found unresponsive Nov. 12 in his bedroom at the fraternity house. The state medical examiner determined he died from alcohol poisoning. The death was ruled accidental.

A school spokesman says OSU has yet to take disciplinary action.

KWGS

Women in Oklahoma's two largest cities joined hundreds of thousands more in cities around the world to send President Donald Trump a message that his agenda won't go unchecked over the next four years.

Organizers estimated at least 5,000 protesters marched at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Saturday and hundreds more in Tulsa— just two of some 600 cities around the world holding similar demonstrations. In Oklahoma City, protesters held signs that read "Unite Together" and "You Can't Comb Over Misogyny."

A 17-year-old pedestrian trying to run across an Oklahoma highway has died of his injuries.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says in a preliminary report that the unidentified teenage male died Friday at an emergency center in Wichita, Kansas.

The patrol report says the pedestrian was trying to run across the highway near the town of Hooker Thursday morning.

The patrol says the 35-year-old driver was uninjured.

A federal appeals court says lending companies operated by Native American tribes are subject to investigation by a government regulator.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Friday rejected a claim by three tribes that their lending companies were protected by tribal sovereignty from investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

A three-judge panel of the court said Congress did not exclude tribes from the bureau's enforcement authority.

Oklahoma State Capitol

 Some familiar topics like abortion and firearms are among those in the more than 2,200 bills and resolutions filed by Oklahoma House and Senate members ahead of the 2017 legislative session that begins Feb. 6.

The 2,242 bills and resolutions filed by this week's deadline is about average for the first session of a Legislature in Oklahoma. There were 2,091 filed in 2015 and 2,466 introduced in 2013.

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 A man who was involved in a police chase that seriously injured an Oologah officer has been sentenced to life in prison.

Cesar Rios was sentenced Friday to four life sentences after pleading guilty last fall to multiple charges, including shooting with intent to kill. The 25-year-old Rios will be 62 when he is eligible for parole.

Prosecutors say Rios was a passenger in a vehicle that led officers on a pursuit in May 2015. Prosecutors say someone inside the vehicle fired shots at a police car, striking Oologah officer Charles Neill, causing his squad car to roll over.

TravelOk

Authorities say a human skull found more than a year ago in Pittsburg County belonged to a Broken Arrow man who was wanted on lewd molestation charges.

The Tulsa World reports the state medical examiner's office has identified the skull as belonging to Russell Ray Wilson. The skull was found in December 2015 in the Turkey Flat area of Arrowhead State Park.

A report from the medical examiner says Wilson died from a gunshot wound, but examiners were unable to determine whether his death was a homicide or suicide.

Catholic Online

For the first time in state history, nonwhite students collectively make up the majority of total enrollment in Oklahoma public schools.

The Oklahoman reports that enrollment data released Thursday shows nonwhite students now account for 50.6 percent of the total enrollment. Nearly 700,000 students attend Oklahoma public schools.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans’ goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act could cost Oklahoma big.

Doing away with premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion would mean a $140 billion drop in federal health care spending in 2019. Sara Collins with the Commonwealth Fund said Oklahoma’s share of that loss is $4.2 billion.

"This would have the effect of reducing state economic output by about $13 billion over five years," Collins said.

Thousands of jobs could also be lost.

Oklahoma Watch

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has expanded eligibility for its Rural Development loans to another 100 square miles of Osage and Tulsa Counties.

"We have no down payment requirements on any of our single-family programs. They are fixed rate. Terms are 33 years on our direct program and 30 years on the guarantee," said Oklahoma Single Family Housing Program Director Tommy Earls.

Oklahoma lawmakers were told not to propose teacher pay raises without a plan to fund them.

State Senator David Holt wants to raise teacher pay $10-thousand dollars over four years, and he’s filed a dozen bills with funding ideas.

"Things I've proposed include the expansion of the applicability of the sales tax, include looking at nonappropriated agencies and what they pay to the state," Holt said. "It includes tax credits. It includes apportioning new revenue growth to teacher pay."

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Officials in an eastern Oklahoma town are investigating after many residents temporarily lost water service this week.

The loss of service happened in the Muskogee County town of Boynton, about 100 miles east of Oklahoma City. The town's water operator, Travis Wilson, says officials initially thought that there was a major leak after he discovered Sunday that the town's water tower was empty.

Wilson estimates that the town lost nearly 140,000 gallons of water per day before the main valve was closed.

   

Officials say one person has died in an oil tank battery explosion west of Waukomis in Garfield County.

The explosion occurred Wednesday evening. The Enid News and Eagle reports that Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles says the victim was at the site at the time. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission's oil and gas division has been contacted to investigate.

KWGS News File Photo

 

 The body of a 52-year-old woman has been recovered from Grand Lake in eastern Oklahoma.

The Grand River Dam Authority Police Department said in a news release that the woman's body was found in about 5 feet of water on Thursday.

Her name was not immediately released.

Police say they were called about 9:30 a.m. Thursday after the woman disappeared near the Tera Miranda Marina and her body was found near a dock shortly after officers arrived.

The body is being sent to the state medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death.

In the local news:

  • Filling the Gap. Lawmakers consider ways to fill a budget shortfall.
  • Tulsa's Regional Chamber gets a new leader.
  • The flu takes another Tulsa County life.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa Regional Chamber welcomed its new chairman Thursday at its annual meeting.

Claremore-based Pelco Structural President Phil Albert is the chamber’s first chair from a business outside Tulsa city limits. In his remarks, Albert called for greater public-private collaboration to solve the area’s big problems.

He pointed out what governments, businesses, philanthropists and communities have accomplished working together: the Port of Catoosa, the Gathering Place and a plan to improve Tulsa’s community health.

AUDIO: The 'Oklahoma Observer' Frosty Troy Dead at 83

Jan 19, 2017
The Oklahoma Observer

The Oklahoma Observer newspaper announced today the death of its founder, Frosty Troy. Here is the story from the Observer:

Observer Founding Editor Frosty Troy, the diminutive firebrand who became an Oklahoma journalism giant, died early today in Oklahoma City after an extended illness. He was 83.

Services are pending.

Known across Oklahoma for his fiery essays and editorials, Troy called out injustice wherever he saw it, championed public education, and routinely exposed duplicitous and corrupt politicians.

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Authorities are investigating after a sheriff's deputy fatally shot a man in eastern Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says the shooting happened Wednesday night in Watts.

The OSBI says an Adair County deputy fatally shot the man after the man reportedly raised a metal pipe "in an aggressive manner." The man, who was identified as 40-year-old Stoney McJunkin, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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A third person in Tulsa County has died of the flu. The latest stats from the State Health Department show six deaths this flu season, half of those in Tulsa County. Tulsa County recorded its’ third death in the past week. A fourth death occurred earlier in Rogers County. There’s no specific reason as to why so many in this area, according to Jamie Dukes with the State Health Department. Tulsa County also leads the state in the number of flu related hospitalizations with 73 out of a total of 311 this year.

Tulsa Health Experts Encourages MMR Vaccine

Jan 19, 2017
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The Tulsa Health Department encourages Tulsa County residents to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases like the mumps. While Tulsa County residents are not experiencing an excess of mumps cases like the outbreaks in Garfield County, Northwest Arkansas and other parts of the US, THD health officials want to be proactive to ensure residents and clinicians have the information they need to prevent and limit their exposure to the mumps disease.

New Supermarket for South Tulsa

Jan 19, 2017
WinCo

While north Tulsa is considered a food desert, a new supermarket chain is coming to south Tulsa.

WinCo, out of Idaho, will be part of the major redevelopment of a shopping center on the southwest corner of 71st and Memorial. That center once housed a Safeway and later a Homeland store. It also was the home of Tulsa's second Target store.

WinCo is employee owned and is a discount food store chain, with over 100 stores nationwide. There is no word on when exactly the Tulsa store will open.

Booker T Principal Resigns

Jan 19, 2017
Twitter

Oklahoma loses another educator to Texas. 

Tulsa's Washington High School principal Nanette Coleman has submitted her resignation. She is a Booker T alum and has been the school's principal since 2014.

She will be joining the International Leadership of Texas,  a charter school operation. She will serve as its principal. 

Retired Thoreau principal Tom Padalino is being brought back to serve as the interim principal at Washington.

In the local news:

  • A time table is set for Tulsa's new Vision Tax projects.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is quizzed by U.S. Senators regarding his nomination to head the EPA.
  • A new supermarket is coming to south Tulsa.

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