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

Oklahoma Tourism

The Tulsa City Council adopted a plan this week intended to encourage development of affordable housing near downtown.

A neighborhood infill overlay will allow additional residential building types, like duplexes and guest houses, which fall between single-family homes and large apartment complexes. Planners hope that will create affordable housing options, which are in short supply.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A primary care practice dedicated to those 65 and older opened Friday in east Tulsa.

ArchWell Health is exclusively for seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Lipp said doctors in the practice want to work with older patients and spend more time with them than in a traditional primary care setting.

Gov. Kevin Stitt's office on Friday thanked the City of Tulsa and the City of Owasso for filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the state’s request for the justices to overturn their ruling in McGirt v Oklahoma

The July 2020 ruling found the Muscogee Nation was never disestablished, meaning the state had been illegally prosecuting crimes involving Native Americans for more than 100 years.

Governor's office

Oklahoma State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye has resigned.

The state health department announced his resignation late Friday afternoon but did not give a reason for Frye's departure. The governor's office provided a copy of Frye's resignation letter, which was dated Oct. 22.

Top Republican elected officials on Thursday hurried to condemn a legal settlement that allows nonbinary Oklahomans to mark their birth certificates as neither male nor female, and LGBTQ advocates worry about the impact their "inflammatory" remarks will have.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A $16 million overhaul of the Tulsa Day Center is finished after more than two years of work.

The improvements to the 35-year-old downtown facility for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness include an expanded medical clinic, remodeled clothing room and kitchen, and an area to meet with case managers.

Executive Director Mack Haltom said the Day Center’s goal remains getting people into permanent housing, which can be difficult.

File photo

Oklahoma teachers continue to be on the front lines of the pandemic, and it’s stressing them out.

Cherokee Nation leaders are seeing progress on issues at the federal level, but that doesn’t mean they’ve turned a blind eye to the state capitol.

First up is the special session to redraw state legislative and congressional district boundaries, which starts Nov. 15. Cherokee Nation Director of Government Affairs and Cherokee Nation Businesses Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kim Teehee said the tribe’s geographic information systems team has analyzed various redistricting proposals.

Albert Herring / Virginia State Parks

An environmental nonprofit is suing a federal government agency over work to expand barge traffic in Virginia, and that has a group focused on Oklahoma waterways on high alert.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit last week against the U.S. Maritime Administration for its Marine Highway program.

OSU

Fall 2021 was the first semester several Oklahoma institutions used a test-optional admissions program, and officials from the state’s two largest universities briefed lawmakers on how it went.

OU officials said almost 36% of their new students applied without submitting a score from the ACT or SAT. At OSU, it was around 20%.

Pixnio

Lower standardized test scores amid the pandemic have Oklahoma lawmakers’ attention, but using them to compare districts or even schools may not be possible.

Less than one-fourth of students are proficient in math or English language arts, and scores in 2021 were down across the board from 2019. Standardized tests were not administered in 2020.

Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) said during an interim study this week she’s concerned but noted lawmakers value public education.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

State health officials say COVID trends are encouraging, but more Oklahomans need to be vaccinated against the illness.

The current seven-day average is 1,299, down more than half from a late-August peak. Hospitalizations have also fallen by about half in that time. State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said even better figures are within reach.

U.S. Department of Defense

There’s an adjustment coming to Oklahoma’s COVID-19 data as the state health department finishes up a data reconciliation process that will be included in Monday’s report.

"And we estimate an increase of about 1,366 cases and 1,053 deaths. This was done as part of a typical, annual review process that all states must complete in accordance with CDC disease surveillance and reporting guidelines," said State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone.

Lance Cpl. Natalie Greenwood / U.S. Marine Corps

Gov. Kevin Stitt is already calling President Joe Biden’s mandate for some employers to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing unconstitutional.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration submitted draft rules for the requirements Biden ordered this week. There is no set timeline for their initial review, and the proposed order won’t be made public until that is done. Still, Stitt released a video Thursday saying he has already conferred with his hand-picked attorney general on the matter.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is in the middle of a process to consolidate some of the functions it shares with the state turnpike authority and aeronautics commission, and ODOT is making some internal changes as well.

Facebook / Tulsa Police Department

A woman was treated and released from a Tulsa hospital Wednesday after apparently being shot while driving on I-244.

Tulsa Police responded to the call just before 11 a.m. A woman driving east on I-244 pulled over between Yale and Harvard after hearing a pop, and thinking it might have been one of her tires, but then she felt pain in her stomach and realized she was bleeding.

Police say they saw a hole near the driver’s side door handle that looked like a bullet hole.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A commission recommends moving about one-third of the city’s concrete planters dotting Route 66 to east Tulsa in an effort to better identify the historic highway there.

Of the 48 planters purchased with funds from a 2003 sales tax package, 46 remain, and the Tulsa Route 66 Commission wants 16 of them placed on Mingo Road at 11th Street, where there’s an interpretive plaza and recreation area.

Courtesy

The City of Broken Arrow is now the official owner of a 90-acre field between Aspen and Olive avenues south of Florence Street.

Mayor Debra Wimpee says they have big plans for the $5 million purchase.

"This will be the future site of our Innovation District, which will be a mixed-use featuring residential, commercial and educational components while focusing on high-paying career opportunities. Keep in mind, this is an investment into the future of Broken Arrow. So, we don't have plans to break ground just yet," Wimpee said in a video posted by the city.

There’s been a recent uptick in parole revocations in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had 14 such cases last month.

"In March 2020, after having several months with no revocation hearings, that was the amount of hearings that it took just to get caught up for the previous, I believe, five months, and that's how many we're seeing every month now," General Counsel Kyle Counts told the board on Monday.

A Tulsa OB-GYN who works with hospitalized patients is echoing the Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention's urging for pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The head of online city guide Root Tulsa says since its self-guided historic tour of the Greenwood District has proven popular, more is in the works.

Executive Director Matt Carney told city councilors more than 4,400 people have taken the tour since it launched in late May by scanning QR codes at points of interest or visiting RootTulsa.com.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A quick Tulsa traffic quiz: Are drivers allowed to use bicycle lanes as turn lanes? How much room must drivers give when passing a cyclist?

The City of Tulsa is developing a public education campaign so more people know the answers to those questions. (No, drivers can't use bicycle lanes as turn lanes, and they must give cyclists 3 feet while passing them.)

A Tulsa state lawmaker’s interim study dug into sentencing reform recommendations from a 22-member council that the authors defended as a needed compromise and reform advocates said didn't go far enough.

Republican Sen. Dave Rader wanted to hear more about the proposal, which would create 14 categories of felonies, each with a range of punishment, a minimum percentage that must be served and enhancements for any prior convictions.

American Rescue Plan Act funding for communities of 50,000 or fewer people has made it to about 10% of eligible places in Oklahoma.

So far, 65 of the state’s 579 eligible cities have received a total of $37 million through a new, online state distribution system, which is still being brought to scale. The portal was initially opened to 120 smaller cities with representatives at an Oklahoma Municipal League conference in early September, and a total of 325 have now been invited to sign up for it.

Provided

Oklahoma County residents want a grand jury to investigate District Attorney David Prater and recommend removing him from office, alleging he’s targeting Julius Jones by interfering with hearings that could wipe out his death sentence.

They filed a petition late Wednesday that laid out a timeline of events this year they said are attempts to deprive Jones of his rights, alleging there’s a pattern of conduct from Prater driven by racism. 

A potential way to address some of Tulsa’s affordable housing shortage is now before the city council for adoption, possibly by the end of the month.

A neighborhood infill overlay could be added to the zoning code for many neighborhoods near downtown but outside of the Inner Dispersal Loop. Travis Hulse with the Tulsa Planning Office said those communities have a lack of affordable housing units for a variety of reasons.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Tulsa Public Schools is the latest entity to offer a financial incentive to employees to encourage them to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated TPS employees will get one-time, $500 stipends. The district will pay for the incentive with its federal virus relief funds and will come up with a process for employees to submit proof of vaccination before the end of 2021.

The incentive was part of the TPS board’s consent agenda Monday night and was not discussed. The district did not make anyone available to comment on the incentive Tuesday.

Oklahoma has a major shortage of pediatricians to solve.

The state would need another 250 pediatricians today just to meet the national per child average. Just four states have fewer pediatricians per 100,000 children than Oklahoma: Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Transit is losing its current general manager at the end of the month.

Ted Rieck is taking the job as CEO of Jaunt, the transit authority of Charlottesville, Virginia. Rieck had announced in August he intended to retire in August 2022 but said he was pursuing the Jaunt job at the same time, and it’s too exciting an opportunity to pass up.

American Academy of Pediatrics

A steady decline in COVID hospitalizations coincides with the beginning of flu season, and local hospitals are anticipating more of the flu this year.

"Probably folks will be masking less, and that will contribute to more flu this season than what we had last year," said Saint Francis Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs Dr. Mark Frost.

Frost is urging people to get vaccinated against both diseases and not to put off doing so. 

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