Local & Regional

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Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis announced on Friday he will retire July 1, 2021, after 13 years leading the university.

The former attorney and Bank of Oklahoma vice chairman is just the second OSU graduate to serve as its president.

"During our time at Oklahoma State, we have marveled at the boundless talents across our campus, enjoyed the thrill of success, and, of course, wept during moments of tragedy that have united us as a family," Hargis said in a video released by the university.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Kojo Asamoa-Caesar says he's no stranger to ugly remarks based on the color of his skin. The former teacher and school principal says over the course of his campaign challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Hern in Oklahoma's First Congressional District, he's heard more than his share of racist comments.

"It's unfortunate. It truly is unfortunate that I have become numb through this process of running for office," Asamoa-Caesar, who is Black, said.

Still, one recent comment left him surprised, less because of its contents and more because of who it came from.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Updated Oct. 23, 12:40 p.m. to correct county with highest rate of new cases.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 1,373 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 113,856.

Tulsa County had 206 of Friday's new cases. Its total now stands at 21,239, second to Oklahoma County's 22,816.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

Starting Sunday, Oklahoma will again require people filing new unemployment claims wait one week before receiving benefits and prove they are actively searching for work.

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said that's because Gov. Kevin Stitt's emergency order waiving those provisions expires, but with the state's unemployment rate down to 5.3% in September, the time seems right to again require those.

Courtesy

With COVID-19 continuing to suppress air travel, American Airlines posted its biggest net loss during the pandemic to date in the third quarter: $2.4 billion.

The news comes just weeks after federal coronavirus relief funds for airlines expired Oct. 1, and American has since started laying off 19,000 workers, about 180 of them in Tulsa, where 5,000 are employed at the airline's largest maintenance base.

American Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said on a Thursday earnings call leaders just haven't made a new relief package work yet.

Friday's top stories:

  • This week's excavation in Oaklawn Cemetery in search of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims has drawn to a close, with at least 12 sets of human remains being identified. The work will be paused until 2021.
  • Oklahoma's COVID-19 hospitalizations are at an all-time high, inching closer and closer to 1,000 people fighting to survive the disease in the state's hospitals.

File photo

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) — A magnitude 3.2 earthquake shook an area on the Kansas-Oklahoma line Thursday night, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The tremor struck at 8:17 p.m. and was centered in a remote area 22 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of Ponca City, Oklahoma, at a depth of almost 5 miles (8 kilometers).

A Kay County, Oklahoma, sheriff’s dispatcher said there were no reports of damage.

Le Flore County Sheriff Rodney Derryberry

POTEAU, Okla. (AP) — Two men in southeast Oklahoma have been charged for allegedly performing an illegal gender reassignment surgery without a license and storing the body parts in a freezer, according to court documents.

Bob Lee Allen, 53, and Thomas Evans Gates, 42, were arrested Tuesday and were still being held Wednesday at the LeFlore County Detention Center on separate $295,000 bonds.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A task force appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt made no specific recommendations Thursday in its report concerning the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared a swath of eastern Oklahoma counties remains an Indian reservation.

The report calls for consistent laws and regulations in the state governing taxation, zoning and business regulations, which Stitt said will be up to Congress to provide.

The governing board for Epic Charter Schools unanimously approved on Wednesday corrective actions after reviewing the state auditor’s review of their operations.

Those actions include clarifying payroll processes and more specifically outlining how management fees for the for-profit Epic Youth Services are calculated, areas the auditor’s report indicated were mishandled.

But the actions do not mean members have acquiesced to the auditor’s findings.

City of Tulsa

Researchers looking for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Oaklawn Cemetery have concluded their work for now.

State Archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said Thursday on the final day of digging, they found evidence of another burial, so there are at least 12 the team now knows of.

They also figured out the north, south and west boundaries of the larger grave shaft they’re working in. Stackelbeck said the trench they dug appears to cover about one-third of it.

Office of Sen. Jim Inhofe

Oklahoma's U.S. Senators, Republicans James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, met separately this week with Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. Both men say they support Barrett's confirmation.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 1,628 new cases of COVID-19, the most in a single day to date.

The state's total number of cases rose to 112,483. Tulsa County had 228 new cases. Its total now stands at 21,033, second to Oklahoma County's 22,669.

Courtesy Cherokee Nation / Sequoyah High School

Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, operated by the Cherokee Nation, reopened for in-person learning Monday after the tribal government received new, rapid test kits from the federal government, allowing school administrators to test all students and staff weekly before they enter the building.

Thursday's top stories:

  • A mass grave has been discovered in the search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Researchers have not yet confirmed the remains belong to massacre victims, but oral histories and funeral home records suggest victims were buried at the excavation site.
  • The Trump administration is urging Oklahoma to take more stringent steps to mitigate its worsening COVID-19 outbreaks. Oklahoma surpassed 900 patients hospitalized with the disease for the first time ever on Wednesday.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Virginia man who sent dozens of harassing emails and phone messages to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and his family in a failed attempt to stop President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in June pleaded guilty Wednesday to cyberstalking.

Appearing via video from his home state, Adam Maxwell Donn, of Norfolk, admitted during a federal court hearing in Tulsa that he sent Bynum and his wife 44 emails and left them 14 phone messages in June, some of which referenced the couple’s children and their home address, U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a news release.

City of Tulsa

Researchers at Oaklawn Cemetery made a big discovery Wednesday, the third day of their second round of searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

"What we were finding was an indication that we were inside a large area, a big excavation area, a large hole that had been excavated and into which several individuals have been placed inside of coffins and buried in that location. This constitutes a mass grave," said State Archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck.

White House coronavirus task force

The Trump administration is calling on Gov. Kevin Stitt to increase efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Oklahoma as the state's pandemic numbers grow worse.

Courtesy Tulsa Community College

Citing a lower than average rate of bachelor's degree attainment for students who transfer from two-year to four-year colleges and universities, leaders of Tulsa-area institutions of higher education came together Tuesday to announce new transfer agreements in an attempt to help more students graduate.

"We can improve to be a better institution for transfer students, and that means TCC sending students to universities, and universities receiving Tulsa Community College students," said Dr. Leigh Goodson, TCC President.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Wednesday that his office has declined requests from the Tulsa Police Department to bring charges against individuals alleged to have painted "Black Lives Matter" messages on city streets.

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.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Human remains have been found in the search for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims, though they have not yet been confirmed to belong to an individual killed in the racist attack.
  • Voting access proponents say the Tulsa County Election Board isn't adequately informing voters of changes in early voting locations.
  • With COVID-19 hospitalizations at record highs, state officials say a hospital surge plan is not quite ready but will be released soon.

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.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Voting access proponents staged a press conference Tuesday, saying Tulsa County and the Tulsa County Election Board aren't doing enough to communicate that early voting will take place over three days at ONEOK Field this year due to COVID-19, instead of the traditional early voting locations at the Hardesty Regional Library and the Election Board building on North Denver.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One set of human remains, and perhaps a second, have been found in a Tulsa cemetery where investigators are searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said Tuesday.

KGOU

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Former University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Vice President James “Tripp” Hall III will not be charged for alleged sexual misconduct with students, a special prosecutor investigating the allegations said Tuesday.

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.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • With COVID-19 hospitalizations soaring, the Oklahoma State Medical Association is again urging Gov. Kevin Stitt to implement a statewide mask mandate, a move the governor has rejected countless times.
  • Middle, junior high and high school students will be allowed to return to in-person classes at Tulsa Public Schools in January, the TPS Board of Education voted Monday.

Got Mask? Oklahoma / Healthier Oklahoma Coalition

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association is renewing the group’s call for a statewide mask mandate as the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus has reached record levels.

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