Matt Trotter

News Director, Morning Edition Anchor, & Reporter

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN. 

He has a master's degree from Arizona State University, where he spent a semester on the first reporting staff of Cronkite News Service's Washington, D.C., bureau. As a grad student, he won awards for multimedia journalism and in-depth TV reporting.

Matt is from Southern California, so he's slowly following Route 66 across the United States. He would have made it Chicago by now, but he's not a fan of long drives.

Ways to Connect

John Durkee

It’s time for a Tulsa Route 66 icon to get a little TLC.

The "East Meets West" sculpture at Cyrus Avery Plaza is due for a cleaning and fresh coat of wax. Rhys Martin with the Tulsa Route 66 Commission said they’re also going to replace some items on the sculpture that disappeared in the eight-plus years since it was installed, like a pickaxe that used to be on the horse-drawn oilfield wagon.

A citywide hotel tax intended to enhance Tulsa’s tourism marketing efforts has been declared invalid.

In a lawsuit filed by a group of hoteliers objecting to the Tourism Improvement District, Judge Linda Morrissey ruled on Thursday the City of Tulsa did not have legal authority to set a threshold of 110 rooms before hotels are subject to the proposed 3% assessment.

State law allows such taxing districts on hotels with 50 or more rooms, and Morrissey’s ruling said the city went with a higher number because smaller hotels didn’t support the plan.

Tulsa Police Department

City councilors got an update this week on the Tulsa Police Department's community policing initiatives.

Tulsa police said they’ve had a lot of success building relationships through Project Trust, a program launched in 2017 that puts officers in high-school classrooms once a week for eight to 10 weeks to talk to students about topics like how to interact with police.

Anonymous surveys show most kids come away with a more positive perception of police. City Councilor Kara Joy McKee said that’s a good start.

Friday's top stories:

  • A state bill filed for the 2020 legislative session would let Oklahoma counties use property taxes for disaster response and preparation.
  • A judge rules the City of Tulsa did not have authority to set a different threshold than allowed by state law for a citywide hotel tax.
  • Oklahoma is among 13 states that still can't facilitate online voter registration.

Tulsa Regional Chamber

The new Tulsa Regional Chamber board chair wants the region to focus on technology and innovation.

Cox Communications Vice President Roger Ramseyer said it used to be a city’s proximity to rivers, then railroads, then airports that most influenced its success.

"Many contend that the most prosperous cities of the future will be those in which businesses and educational institutions connect to the rest of the world through technology and leverage core strengths in developing new industries," Ramseyer said.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announces four finalists to be the city's next chief of police.
  • Criminal justice reform advocates say 2019 was a historic year for Oklahoma, but there's more work to be done.
  • Industry experts encourage kids who may not pursue a traditional, four-year college degree to "Dream Out Loud."

City of Tulsa

After a round of interviews, Mayor G.T. Bynum has picked four finalists out of the seven internal candidates vying to be the next chief of the Tulsa Police Department.

The announcement comes after a community group led by City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Reps. Regina Goodwin and Monroe Nichols, and state Sen. Kevin Matthews sent Bynum a letter last week demanding a national search. Bynum responded to that letter Monday.

Dozens of area high-school students who may not go straight to college got a chance Wednesday to learn about different career paths from experts in the fields.

Tulsa Tech, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office teamed up to offer the third-annual "Dream Out Loud" event.

Nathan Hale junior Kiara Catholic attended for the first time. Her interests are in technology, graphic design and animation, and she likes video games.

Wednesday's headlines:

  • Fewer Oklahoma kids are suffering multiple adverse childhood experiences.
  • A state lawmaker will sponsor legislation this session to abolish the death penalty.
  • Tulsa County needs poll workers for a big election year.

Allegiant

Allegiant Air will start offering nonstop summer seasonal service between Tulsa and Nashville this year.

Service will begin June 4, with flights departing Tulsa at 8:35 p.m. Thursdays and returning from Nashville at 6:14 p.m. Sundays.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has offered a response of sorts to demands for a community-driven, national search for the city’s next police chief.

North Tulsa elected officials delivered Bynum a letter signed by more than 100 residents on Friday calling for a nationwide search and for a selection committee to assist with it. The letter asked for a response by the end of the day Tuesday.

Tuesday's headlines:

  • North Tulsa leaders demand a community-driven search for the city's next police chief and an end to Tulsa's involvement with the "LivePD" reality show.
  • Oklahoma has a new electronic tracking system sexual assault victims can use to track their rape kits.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter files a lawsuit against opioid distributors.

One of Oklahoma’s largest Christian denominations is moving toward a split over how it treats LGBTQ persons.

The United Methodist Church will likely vote on a plan later this year that would give more conservative members $25 million to establish their own traditionalist denomination. Remaining members would then be free to change policies regarding LGBTQ persons.

Patricia Miller leads the Confessing Movement, which is against LGBTQ marriage and ordination in the church. She said the divide has been around since the early 1970s.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Local elected officials made public their call for Mayor G.T. Bynum to have a transparent, community-driven search for Tulsa’s next chief of police.

North Tulsa leaders City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Reps. Regina Goodwin and Monroe Nichols, and state Sen. Kevin Matthews delivered a letter to Bynum last week telling him they and their constituents want a selection committee of community members to help conduct a national search for a chief who will take on racial disparities in policing, with finalists available for public forums.

Commissioners of the Land Office

The head of the agency managing Oklahoma's school trust land says they can do a much better job when it comes to getting lease revenue.

The Commissioners of the Land Office can offer surface leases at auction, but more than 100,000 of the 750,000 acres the agency oversees is up for grabs each year, and interested parties typically have to go check out sites for themselves.

Acting Secretary Brandt Vawter said the land office is starting to compile drone footage and full data sets on land for an online system.

KWGS News file photo

Many companies in Oklahoma are hurting for workers, and many former or soon-to-be former inmates need good jobs.

Oklahoma Career Tech has a $2.5 million plan to get more people in Department of Corrections custody access to training programs. Director Marcie Mack said they'll start with a few key industries.

"Truck driver training is one of the largest areas of request that we have for the state. And so, we have individuals that would qualify to serve in that capacity or that occupation," Mack said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

West Tulsa residents are still waiting for the Reed Park gym to reopen after it was damaged during last spring's storms.

Rain softened the ground enough that an old oak tree fell on the gym's north side May 3, damaging the roof and wall. It happened before a federal disaster declaration, and Parks Director Anna America said the delay in fixing the gym comes down to officials being unfamiliar with using the city's insurance policy for the amount of damage done.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations is probing the death of a woman who died while being held in the city’s jail on misdemeanor warrants.

The Tulsa Police Department says 46-year-old Lawanda Ward had been booked into the jail around 7 p.m. on Jan. 2. Ward had complained of not feeling well when she was booked, but Tulsa Police Lt. Shane Tuell says paramedics checked and cleared her.

Ward was found unresponsive about 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 6. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Monday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma Career Tech plans to expand training programs in correctional centers.
  • A governor's task force submits its final report on next steps in criminal justice reform.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to appoint the state's top public education official.

Oklahoma Tourism

Tulsa city councilors got an update Wednesday on a downtown and near downtown housing study that's underway.

A final report isn’t due for a couple more months, but consultants shared some initial findings, such as a great need for affordable housing. City Housing Policy Director Becky Gligo said about 90 percent of people need something in the $700 to $1,500 per month range.

Experts monitoring Oklahoma’s progress instituting court-ordered foster-care reforms report the state is still not doing enough to provide homes to children who need therapeutic care.

In their latest commentary on the settlement agreement known as the Pinnacle Plan, experts known as co-neutrals report the Oklahoma Department of Human Services has seen an 82% net decline in therapeutic foster homes since 2013.

Inhofe Press Office

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has proposed and Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is supporting a change in Senate rules that would allow the GOP-controlled chamber to dismiss President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

The proposal would empower the Senate to dismiss the articles of impeachment if the House fails to deliver them within 25 days of its impeachment vote, which was Dec. 18.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Investigators use new tools in their search for two girls who went missing near Welch in 1999.
  • Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe backs a resolution to dismiss articles of impeachment against President Trump.
  • Ballot language has been finalized for a Medicaid expansion measure in Oklahoma.

Authorities continue their search for the bodies of two Green Country teenagers missing for more than 20 years.

They’ve dropped cameras down some mine shafts in the Picher area before, but now federal mining officials are offering a submersible camera to explore mine shafts in the area where Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible’s bodies are believed to be.

They’ve also got a camera with a tether of around 320 feet, much longer than in previous searches.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tulsa has not seen the apocalyptic infestation of emerald ash borers officials feared in recent years.

The destructive beetle was first detected near Grove in 2016.

"That actually has kind of sat still since then. So, nothing new has come up since then. It’s been just kind of stagnant, which is good," said David Zucconi, the City of Tulsa's urban forester.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The first of three town halls being held by Mayor G.T. Bynum for public input on his search for Tulsa’s next chief of police is tonight.

Tonight's forum is at 6 p.m. in Hardesty Library's Frossard Auditorium, 8316 E 93rd St.

"Hiring the next chief of the Tulsa Police Department will be one of the most important decisions I make during my time as mayor," Bynum said in a statement. "It is important to me that I hear from my fellow Tulsans what they hope to see in and from our next chief of police."

Tuesday's headlines:

  • The State Treasurer's Office sees signs Oklahoma's economy is slowing.
  • Superintendent Deborah Gist presents to the Tulsa Public Schools Board school closure recommendations meant to close the district's $20 million budget shortfall.
  • Aero, Tulsa's bus rapid transit service, is now collecting fares.

Superintendent Deborah Gist presented Monday night to the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education her recommendations to close four elementary schools as the district works to close a $20 million budget shortfall.

Gist proposes closing Wright, Grimes and Jones elementary schools and consolidating Mark Twain Elementary School into Wayman Tisdale. Those measures would save the district an estimated $2 million to $3 million a year.

Now that Aero bus rapid transit service is fully operational, Tulsa Transit is moving on to its next big project: a mobile fare application.

It won’t just be for paying bus fares, though.

"So, it’ll be like a mobility app that you can really — kind of a Swiss Army knife of apps for transit that you can book a bus, ridesharing, plan your trips, everything you can think of in one handy application," Rieck said.

Tulsa Transit will be using a platform from Dallas Area Rapid Transit and its developer, Unwire. Rieck said the parties are finalizing the agreement.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission on Monday authorized the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to negotiate a financing agreement with the federal government for part of the Gilcrease Expressway.

"This will allow us to go ahead and secure the last piece of the financing that’s going to be necessary to move the Gilcrease project forward to construction and then have a payment agreement with the turnpike authority to facilitate the payment," said ODOT Director Tim Gatz.

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