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

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 1,307 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 110,855.

Tulsa County had 166 of those cases. Its total now stands at 20,805, second only to Oklahoma County's 22,422.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, jumped from 1,151 to 1,177. The state hit a new record average of 1,182 on Oct. 15. Since Sept. 19, the seven-day average has been below 1,000 just two days.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

State lawmakers during an interim study on Tuesday dug into reported problems with Conduent, the company processing Oklahomans’ unemployment benefits.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has complained Conduent is not giving them detailed enough information on accounts it flags for potential fraud to effectively deal with it. General Manager Paul Gates said federal privacy regulations prevent Conduent from just handing over all the information they have on an account.

Pikist

State officials announced on Tuesday changes they intend to make to Oklahoma’s hospital surge plan after the number of COVID patients surpassed 800 for the first time.

Capacity would be managed on a regional basis. Oklahoma’s eight hospital regions would move among four tiers based on their hospitals’ COVID admissions to medical/surgical and intensive care unit beds hitting targets for three days.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 1,475 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 109,548.

Tuesday's new case total was the state's third-highest to date. The highest was 1,533 on Oct. 10, and the second-highest was 1,524 on Oct. 9.

Tulsa County had 191 of Tuesday's cases. Its total now stands at 20,639, second to Oklahoma County's 22,213.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Workers installed the last beam of Broken Arrow’s replacement Fire Station 3 on Monday.

The topping out ceremony took the place of a groundbreaking, which couldn’t be held earlier this year because of a COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.

The replacement Fire Station 3 is on County Line Road near 115th Street. Broken Arrow Fire Chief Jeremy Moore said they crunched some numbers to figure out where to place it.

File Photo

Dyslexia experts told Oklahoma lawmakers in an interim study on Monday they’re off to a good start in helping struggling readers, but there’s more work to do.

Screenings for all students through third grade will start in the 2022–23 school year, but Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma founder Michelle Keiper said they should also be given to targeted groups.

Tulsa Public Schools students in middle, junior and high schools will go back for in-person learning four days a week starting Jan. 4.

Those students would attend Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would continue to be distance learning days.

The TPS board on Monday night voted down a proposal to send them back starting on Nov. 30 on a 3–4 vote, then approved the post-winter break return 6–1. Board member Jerry Griffin was the lone vote against it, saying that’s too long to wait.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 774 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 108,073.

Tulsa County had 126 of those cases. Its total now stands at 20,448, second to Oklahoma County's 22,008 cases.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, declined slightly from 1,130 to 1,127. The state hit a new record average of 1,182 on Thursday. Since Sept. 19, the seven-day average has been below 1,000 just two days.

File photo

Facing a difficult economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the group representing Oklahoma’s city governments told state lawmakers during an interim study at the state capitol last week that they’re struggling with dozens of sales tax exemptions.

Mike Fina, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, said those exemptions cost a total of $8.3 billion in sales tax funding. Fina said that not only constrains city budgets, but it also holds up policies many would like to see, like making groceries exempt from sales tax. 

Broken Arrow Fire Department

Nine Tulsa-area fire chiefs are asking INCOG to look at whether it’s feasible to enter into automatic aid agreements to cover their bordering areas and establish a regional dispatch center to handle those calls.

A review says such an arrangement could mean thousands more addresses are reachable within national response time standards. A combined, regional dispatch center would cost $3.8 million in its first year.

David Branch of Matrix Consulting Group says about one-third of that would go toward technology needs to get nine agencies on the same page. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday evening a record 301 Oklahomans were in intensive care unit beds because of COVID-19.

The previous record for ICU patients was 293, set Wednesday.

According to the latest executive order report, 289 ICU patients had confirmed cases of COVID-19, while another 12 were suspected of having the illness.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A former fiscal director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives told state lawmakers in an interim study this week they’ll need to play an active role in a long recovery from the coronavirus-driven economic downturn.

Oklahoma Policy Institute Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst Paul Shinn said while corporate income will likely return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, unemployment numbers may not get there until 2030. Same goes for oil prices.

Google Street View

Woodland Hills Mall shut down for about an hour Friday afternoon after a report of shots fired, which turned out to be a gun going off in a man’s pocket while he was at the food court.

The incident happened around 2 p.m. Police said the man immediately left the mall.

There were no injuries, though some reports indicate the man shot himself in the leg.

While Oklahoma allows open and concealed carry of guns without a license, they are not allowed inside Woodland Hills Mall by owner and operator Simon Properties. 

Food and Drug Administration

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 1,472 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 105,308.

Tulsa County had 214 of Friday's cases and became the second in the state to surpass 20,000 cases as its total hit 20,102. Oklahoma County leads the state with 21,506.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, declined from a new high of 1,182 to 1,174. Since Sept. 19, the seven-day average has been below 1,000 just two days.

University of Tulsa

The American Athletic Conference postponed Thursday the University of Tulsa’s homecoming football game this Saturday because of COVID-19 cases among its opponent, Cincinnati.

The game has been moved to Dec. 5. Interim Director of Athletics Rick Dickson said he was disappointed.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa could soon adopt a new special taxing district that benefits residents directly rather than a developer or company.

The plan calls for four distinct tax increment financing, or TIF, districts at the Peoria Mohawk Business Park, with one encompassing Muncie Power Products truck part plant to be activated immediately. Officials estimate the TIFs will bring in $42.6 million over the next 25 to 35 years.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Updated Oct. 16, 11:08 a.m. to correct state's seven-day average.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 1,221 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 103,836.

New data was delayed because of technical difficulties, according to the state health department.

Tulsa County had 231 of Thursday's cases. Its total now stands at 19,888, second to Oklahoma County's 21,260.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa City Councilors are less than thrilled with the new Arkansas River pedestrian bridge after their latest look at it.

The Gateway Bridge will replace the old railroad bridge at Zink Dam. Previous renderings showed a structure built on a $35 million budget. That’s since been pared down to a design based on just the $27.4 million in public funds available.

At a presentation Wednesday, Councilor Crista Patrick quickly complained about the absence of shade.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday 1,121 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 102,614.

Tulsa County had 184 of those cases. Its total now stands at 19,657, second most in the state.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, rose from 1,164 to a new high of 1,180. It's the average's third new record high since Sunday. Since Sept. 19, the seven-day average has been below 1,000 just two days.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Younger students will be allowed to return to in-person classes next month following a prolonged all-virtual start to the Tulsa Public Schools year caused by troubling local rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus.

The Tulsa Public Schools board came up with its own plan for students to come back to school. Over the course of a seven-hour meeting, they settled on pre-K and kindergarten students returning on Nov. 9 and attending Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be distance learning days.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Months after the Tulsa Route 66 Commission said it was time for the Brookshire Motel to be torn down, it’s being done.

The city started demolishing the 1940s landmark on Monday.

There were four fires in the span of two years at the motel. Two this year ended with firefighters finding a dead man. The Tulsa Route 66 Commission had toyed with the idea of preserving the motel but abandoned those plans in May.

Embattled Epic Charter Schools took another hit on Tuesday.

After reviewing a state auditor’s report, the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board started the process of terminating its contract with Epic Charter Schools’ governing board. Board counsel and Assistant Attorney General Marie Schubel laid out 42 potential violations by Community Strategies, Inc., ranging from using state funds out of state to not fully cooperating with auditors.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated Oct. 13, 6:15 p.m. with information about Tulsa County hospitalizations. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 1,309 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 101,493.

Tulsa County had 218 of those cases. Its total now stands at 19,473. Oklahoma County continues to lead the state in total cases, with 20,822.

The state's seven-day average of new cases, which shows the trend in infections, declined slightly from a new high of 1,172 to 1,164. Since Sept. 19, the seven-day average has been below 1,000 just two days.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s new leader said Monday he’s spent the past few weeks making a plan to tackle a backlog of commutation requests.

Executive Director Tom Bates said he expects there will be some training soon to help sort through around 3,000 applications that have built up as the board has taken up smaller dockets because of concerns about the review process.

"The whole purpose of this is to divide these up into some manageable buckets by objective criteria that allows us to help you as a aboard prioritize these pending applications," Bates said.

Epic Schools

In the wake of a state audit of Oklahoma’s largest charter school, the State Board of Education is demanding it repay funds members say were misused.

After nearly two hours in executive session on Monday, the board unanimously voted to demand Epic Charter Schools pay back $11,235,919 in total within 60 days of receiving work papers from the state auditor.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Monday 797 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the state's total to 100,184.

It took Oklahoma more than five months from when its first case was reported in early March to hit 50,000 cases. The state added another 50,000 in less than eight weeks.

Tulsa County had 117 of Monday's new cases. Its total now stands at 19,255. Oklahoma County continues to lead the state and now has 20,620 total cases.

R.L. Jones Jr./Riverside Airport

Tulsa’s municipal airport may have a new name by year’s end.

Officials could propose changing Richard Lloyd Jones Junior — also known as Jones-Riverside Airport — to Tulsa Riverside Airport as early as next month. Tulsa Airports CEO Alexis Higgins said part of the push is confusion with the growing Jones Memorial Airport in Bristow, which opened a new runway this summer.

Animal welfare officers lack the legal authority to enforce a City of Tulsa ordinance requiring dogs to be on leash within parks.

That came to light at a park board meeting last week as members discussed recent complaints about off-leash dogs. Animal welfare officer Pete Theriot said they can’t enforce the leash requirement under Title 26 of the municipal code, which deals with parks specifically, but they do have authority to enforce a broader city leash requirement under a different section.

Tom Holland-Wikimedia

Justice reform is on the table in Oklahoma, and state lawmakers want to know what steps they can take.

In an interim study this week, former senior vice president at Koch Industries Mark Holden, now with Americans for Prosperity, told them taking a look at the state’s criminal code would be a good start. That’s a move Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he wants to make.

Holden said an overhaul not only whittles down the number of reasons people can end up in prison, but it also narrows the job of police.

Food and Drug Administration

Updated Oct. 9, 5:15 p.m. with Friday's hospitalization numbers. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 1,524 new cases of COVID-19, the most in a single day since the state saw its first case in early March.

Friday's new case total broke the old record of 1,401 cases set on July 27 and brought the state's total to 97,088.

Tulsa County had 328 of Friday's cases, its second-highest number of new cases to date. The county's total rose to 18,812, second to Oklahoma County's 19,985.

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