Matt Trotter

News Director

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

Tulsa Transit

New drivers are taking over Tulsa Transit’s Turley Shuttle starting next month.

After the initial operator, Pelivan, asked for an 18% cost increase for its second year running the north Tulsa service, Tulsa Transit turned to another contractor, First Transit. First Transit said it can run the shuttles on their current schedule of every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday through June 2022 for just under $95,000.

While Tulsa Transit will now have to cover vehicles, fuel and maintenance, the combined cost will still be less than Pelivan’s proposal.

On the heels of ransomware attacks hitting a pipeline company, a meatpacker and even the City of Tulsa, the University of Tulsa is expanding its cybersecurity program.

TU announced on Friday a new School of Cyber Studies that will offer a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and a doctorate in cyber studies. The university previously offered an undergraduate minor or a master’s in cybersecurity.

School of Cyber Studies Inaugural Chair Tyler Moore said they’re training students for a field that’s currently short an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 workers.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will put new cruisers on state turnpikes in the coming weeks, but you may not notice them at first. 

"They're going to be specially marked. They're going to be a little different. They're going to be silver — one's [still] going to be solid white, some's still going to be solid black — they're going to be Dodge Chargers, but they're going to be a little sneaky. They're really going to bear down on the texting and driving. That's our hope," OHP Zone Commander Maj. Mike Mize told the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority this week.

A local attorney intimately familiar with the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma pushed back Thursday on Gov. Kevin Stitt and law enforcement officials’ claims the decision has imperiled public safety. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Days after volunteers helped move the last residents out of a condemned apartment complex, the Tulsa City Council announced a new working group to look into potential policy solutions.

Councilor Phil Lakin says the Residential Rental Property Habitability Working Group is not meant to go after the 90% of landlords he believes are doing right by their tenants.

U.S. Department of Defense

The head of the Tulsa Health Department warns local COVID infections are increasing exponentially.

THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart told city councilors on Wednesday new cases roughly doubled every week this month, driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus. While Tulsa County has the state’s third-highest vaccination rate, Dart said it’s still well below what’s needed to suppress the highly contagious variant.

Tulsa Transit

Tulsa Transit is trying to sort out how much of a steep decline in ridership the past fiscal year is due to COVID-19.

According to a survey, 40% of bus riders said their travel needs changed during the pandemic, but 70% expected to be back to their normal routines in a year. That's not bearing out in monthly ridership numbers for FY21, all of which fell below projections and just once topped the same month a year before.

Overall ridership from July 2020 through June 2021 was less than two-thirds what it was the 12 months prior.

Office of Sen. James Lankford

While Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator has announced millions of dollars in direct funding requests, his colleague remains steadfast in opposition to earmarks.

"Senate Republicans still have in our conference rules that it is not appropriate to do earmarks — for any Senate Republican. That is still in our rules, should be in our rules, as we know what has happened in earmarks in the past is they quickly became a way to leverage individuals to vote for a bad bill," Sen. James Lankford said last week during a discussion hosted by the nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste.

EMSA

There’s a nationwide shortage of paramedics, and there’s no exception to that in Tulsa.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the nation will have 42,000 fewer paramedics and emergency medical technicians than it needs by 2030. EMSA is currently 12 paramedics short of its staffing goal and keeps job postings up 365 days a year.

Department of Tourism

Tulsa Regional Tourism has been approved for $75,000 in virus relief funding from the American Rescue Plan for a media buy to promote the area to travelers.

Tulsa County commissioners approved the expenditure last week. It will go toward an episode of CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg’s "Travel Detective" show, which airs on PBS and select streaming platforms, along with related assets Tulsa Regional Tourism can use later.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is requesting $866,000 in federal funding to help address a long-running nursing shortage in northeastern Oklahoma.

The earmark is for Tulsa Community College’s nursing program to purchase new equipment including patient simulators, renovate lab space and make other adjustments to accommodate 70 more students a year within four years, a 20% increase.

Oklahoma has four fewer nurses per capita than the national average, and TCC Nursing Program Director Lisa Gerow said the nurses the state does have are getting older.

Leaders of seven area colleges and universities are optimistic a new approach will help them graduate more students with degrees.

The Tulsa Higher Education Consortium grew out of work to improve Tulsa Community College students’ experience transferring to other local institutions, and the organization wants to continue streamlining that process to make it easier for students to earn their degrees.

Mike Simons / Tulsa World pool photo

Updated July 23, 2:20 p.m. with information about funding for Oklahoma.

As the Delta variant pushes a rise in COVID-19 cases, the White House is sending $100 million to rural health centers to help bring up low vaccination rates.

Oklahoma has 34 rural health clinics that will receive a total of nearly $1.7 million.

Tulsa Police

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum wants to put a permanent property tax for public safety on the ballot in August 2022.

Bynum told city councilors Wednesday that’s his plan under a new state law allowing public safety districts, which cities can create to dedicate generally stable property tax revenue to their police and fire departments rather than just sales tax.

Another round of emergency rental assistance funding is on its way to Tulsa.

The city is receiving a $3.8 million initial disbursement from a total award of $9.5 million in the American Rescue Plan. The new funding is on top of $12 million in a previous coronavirus relief package to help pay late rent and utilities. 

City COVID Relief Funds Manager Alisa Dougless said the guidance for the new funds is less restrictive.

Administrators have reviewed Tulsa Public Schools curriculum in light of a new state law to limit certain teachings on race, gender and history, and the State Board of Education’s adoption of rules earlier this month to comply with that law.

TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist told the board during a Monday night meeting they found no conflicts with House Bill 1775 or the emergency rules.

Food On The Move

A local nonprofit dedicated to fighting food insecurity is resuming its monthly block parties featuring entertainment, food trucks and fresh produce on a "pay as you can" model.

Food On The Move is at Chamberlain Park at 4940 N Frankfort Ave. Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. They’ll be back there the third Tuesday of every month the rest of the year. Starting July 27, Food On The Move will be at Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N Greenwood Ave., the fourth Tuesday of each month. In September, they’ll add a stop at Tulsa Community College Northeast Campus, 3727 E Apache St.

Oklahoma Historical Society

This summer has brought help to a family trying to restore their Luther, Oklahoma, gas station that was likely the first and only Black-owned and -operated one on Route 66.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently included Threatt Filling Station in a $3 million total grant award to preserve 40 Black historic sites in the U.S. That came after the trust named it one of its 11 most endangered historic places in the country. According to the trust, less than 5% of sites they designate “most endangered” have been lost.

OU

The OU College of Dentistry will open a state-of-the art clinic in Tulsa.

The roughly 5,000-square foot facility on the OU-Tulsa campus is expected to open in June 2022 and will be the first of several planned across the state.

Dr. Raymond Cohlmia is dean of the OU College of Dentistry. He said the new clinics are meant to address a lack of access to affordable, comprehensive care in Oklahoma, not to just churn out additional dentists and hygienists.

Wikimedia

Tulsans really enjoyed their fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday, even though setting them off is illegal within city limits.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright described what she saw that night to her colleagues during a discussion last week. 

"There were up-in-the-air fireworks, 360-degree view; from [I-244] along [U.S.] 169, a haze of sulfur smoke everywhere. And then, even upon arrival to my house, you know, all kinds of things going off well into the wee hours," Decter Wright said.

Ruben de Rijcke

After one ozone alert day and exceedance in 2020, the Tulsa metro has turned in three of each so far this year, with more than two months left in the season.

On June 14, 15 and 17, monitoring stations picked up ozone readings above the Environmental Protection Agency standard of 0.071 parts per million, the highest being 0.087.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center trust still intends to sell its parking lot at Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue to a developer for a retail and residential project anchored by a full-service grocery store.

Courtesy

Local leaders are not leaving it to chance when it comes to landing new nonstop flights from Tulsa International Airport.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa is getting a new home to help deal with a growing local need for their services.

President and CEO Calvin Moore said the nonprofit has been forced to remain artificially small because of the constraints of their current 6,000-square foot facility at 31st Street and Garnett Road, where they’ve been for nearly four decades.

Updated July 18, 7:40 a.m.  

The City of Tulsa is now the proud owner of 30 undeveloped acres near 71st Street and U.S. 169, land that will eventually be combined with 27 adjacent, city-owned acres for a new park.

City Chief of Culture and Recreation and Parks Director Anna America started working toward a new park there when she was the District 7 city councilor from 2014 to 2018. She said there isn't enough access to parks and green space in the densely developed area.

Courtesy

PSO announced Thursday that Tulsa Deputy Mayor Amy Brown will be their new external affairs manager starting July 26.

As deputy mayor, Brown oversees the city’s administrative and public safety support divisions, serves on the pension board, and works on behavioral health and criminal justice issues on behalf of Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Before being named deputy mayor in 2019, Brown was Bynum's chief of staff. She previously worked for Mayor Kathy Taylor and was Bynum's council aid while he represented District 9 before earning a law degree at the University of Tulsa in 2017.

Lori Decter Wright

The City of Tulsa and housing nonprofits are still trying to relocate residents of an apartment complex near 61st and Memorial a city councilor described as being like a "third-world" country.

Courtesy

A yearlong beautification project on Route 66 at 11th and Lewis should begin this month.

Improvements in what’s been dubbed the Market District were unveiled Wednesday. Plans include new water and sewer lines, traffic lights, traffic calming measures, dozens of trees and benches, and Route 66 signage.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 1,082 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day report since late February as the state was coming off of a winter surge in infections.

It is not currently known when the cases reported Wednesday were acquired, but younger people and the Delta variant appear to be driving the spike. Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis said Tuesday half of current infections are in people aged 15 to 44, which presents a real problem with the start of a new school year just weeks away.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa has created a lookup tool for people to see if their information was posted online after a ransomware attack.

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