Local & Regional

City of Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City's new streetcar system has opened to the public, and rides are free for now.

Local public school student leaders and city and state officials were among the first passengers Friday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Transit officials expect 10,000 to 15,000 passengers this weekend.

Rides are free for three weeks and will cost $1 per ride or $3 for a 24-hour pass after that.

Construction of the $135 million-system took about two years. It covers about 7 miles through downtown and the Bricktown entertainment district.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt's latest cabinet-level appointments are the first holdovers from the outgoing administration.

The Republican on Friday reappointed Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson as adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard and Rusty Rhoades as commissioner of public safety. Both are pending state Senate approval.

Stitt praised both men as committed to keeping Oklahoman safe.

Tulsa Fire Department

University of Tulsa researchers and the Tulsa Fire Department want to know whether firefighters’ annual physical ability test can predict and prevent injuries.

Over three years, they’ll look at whether scores on job-specific tests like stair climbs, hose drags and dummy rescues are predictors of injuries and how they relate to laboratory measures of fitness.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

You may notice some downtown Tulsa streets look a little different.

Third Street has been striped with bike lanes and new, on-street parking spaces from the bridge over the Inner Dispersal Loop to around Lansing Avenue. That will continue through early next year to the western edge of downtown.

The same will happen on Archer Street and many others.

Oklahoma is spending more on tobacco prevention.

State spending this fiscal year is $21.3 million, up more than 12 percent from last year. Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for percentage of tobacco prevention funding recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Even at that, it’s still only spending about half of what the CDC recommends that the state spends on tobacco prevention. So, there’s still room for improvement even though it’s doing better than most states," said Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Director of State Communications John Schachter.

KWGS Map

 

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says a Missouri man has been found dead in far northeastern Oklahoma.

The OSBI said Friday that the body of 24-year-old Tyler Applebee was found Wednesday by hunters near the former town of Cardin in Ottawa County.

The OSBI says Applebee had no known connection to Oklahoma and investigators are seeking information about his activities leading up to Wednesday.

A suspected cause of death has not been released.

Bomb Hoax Emails Found in Tulsa

22 hours ago
KWGS News Photo

 

Authorities say bomb threats sent to dozens of schools, universities and other locations across the U.S. appear to be a hoax. Tulsa Police confirm five institutions here recieved the email ramson attempt.

The PD said the threats sent Thursday were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money and are not considered credible.

Some of the emails had the subject line: "Think Twice.

Massage Parlor Suspected as Prostitution Front

23 hours ago
Google Street View

An undercover investigation leads to the arrest of two people on prostituion related charges. 

Broken Arrow Police Department detectives received information about a South Broken Arrow massage parlor participating in commercial sex trade with some of its customers. Detectives began investigating the business, identified as Kneaded Massage, located in the 2400 block of West New Orleans Street. 

KWGS NEWS File Photo

 

A recent report shows Oklahoma is trailing behind neighboring states in per-student spending, even with this year's teacher pay raises.

The National Center for Education Statistics report shows that Oklahoma's annual expenditures were nearly $1.3 billion below the regional average for the 2015-16 school year. The region includes Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.

The region spent an average of roughly $9,900 per student, but Oklahoma lagged behind by about $1,800.

In the local news:

  • The Kendall-Whittier  Director will lead Tulsa's Destination Location effort.
  • Governor-Elect Stitt meets with the President.
  • Senator Inhofe criticized over defense stocks.

File photo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A former University of Oklahoma football player and fledgling recording star has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding investors of almost $900,000.

Federal prosecutors say 31-year-old T.J. Hamilton of Dallas was sentenced Thursday and ordered to pay $869,300 in restitution to his victims.

Hamilton pleaded guilty in September to federal wire fraud conspiracy charges. Hamilton acknowledged promoting false investment opportunities for sportswear and nutritional supplement ventures.

Inhofe Press Office

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee quickly unloaded newly acquired Raytheon stock following a report that the purchase was made after he urged President Donald Trump to boost defense spending by billions of dollars.

The Daily Beast first reported that a financial adviser to Sen. James Inhofe bought between $50,000 and $100,000 of Raytheon stock Tuesday, a week after the Oklahoma Republican met with Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to discuss the military's budget.

Stitt Campaign

Oklahoma's newly elected Republican governor is visiting President Donald Trump at the White House, with a dozen other governors-elect from both parties.

Trump tweeted a picture on Thursday of him meeting with Stitt and some of the other recently elected governors, including Florida Republican Ron DeSantis and Illinois Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

Like Trump, Stitt leveraged his status as a businessman outsider during his race for governor. Stitt enjoyed Trump's endorsement once he secured the GOP nomination.

A community leader credited with helping Kendall Whittier’s turnaround will try to do the same thing across Tulsa.

Starting Feb. 1, Kendall Whittier Main Street Executive Director Sharrer will be the city’s Destination Districts program director. The program is looking at similar efforts by Oklahoma City to revitalize neglected areas of the city.

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The results are in from a survey intended to help guide a new five-year plan to end homelessness in Oklahoma.

More than 650 nonprofits, state employees and concerned citizens responded to the wide-ranging survey from the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. GICH Chair Ed Long said 80 percent of them said a lack of funding is holding up progress in their communities or the state.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa City Council has taken up a proposal to let developers get building permits faster by certifying their own plans.

Mayor G.T. Bynum first talked about self-certification in 2017, saying it will spur development. The plan would let state-licensed architects, landscape architects and engineers attest that plans meet state and local building codes. The ordinance says anyone self-certifying plans must follow established professional standards and stick to their areas of expertise.

KWGS News

klahoma health officials say seven people have died from influenza during the current flu season that began Sept. 1.

The Oklahoma Department of Health said Thursday that six victims were 65 years of age or older and one was between 50 and 64.

Six of the deaths were in northeastern Oklahoma and the seventh was in the state's southwest.

The department says about 150 people have been hospitalized due to the flu, with 39 in Tulsa County and 10 in Oklahoma County making up nearly one-third of the hospitalizations.

Stitt Names 1st Woman to Head Department of Ag

Dec 13, 2018
State Impact

 

 

Governor-elect Kevin Stitt announced today his nominationof Blayne Arthur as the next Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, a position that will require State Senate confirmation.  

 

OKC Police

 

Oklahoma City's police chief has been cleared in an ethics investigation that began after four deputy chiefs accused him of retaliating against them for seeking overtime pay.

KWGS News File Photo

 

Police in Midwest City say a 7-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair was left alone for hours on a school bus.

Police Chief Brandon Clabes says the girl was picked up shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday. Other students were taken to various schools but the girl was overlooked. Clabes says the bus was parked for five or six hours before the driver and bus monitor found the child.

Wikipedia

 

Oscar-winning movie director Ron Howard says he still feels connected to the Oklahoma town where he was born but never lived, after visiting the now-shuttered hospital of his birth.

Howard this week posted a photo of himself on Instagram posing outside the boarded-up building in Duncan, 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City.

Howard says his family lived in Biloxi, Mississippi, but that his mother wanted to give birth in Duncan, her hometown. Howard says he never lived there but feels "a connection to the town & people."

In the local news:

  • SNAP benefits are safe for 97,000 Oklahomans.
  • More inmates could soon be free under criminal justice reform.
  • Crime victims remembered at a Chandler Park ceremony.
  •  

KWGS File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is recommending that sentences be commuted for nine more prison inmates convicted of various nonviolent offenses that would mostly be misdemeanors today.

The five-member panel voted Wednesday to forward the recommendations to Gov. Mary Fallin, who is expected to take action on the recommendations before her term ends next month.

A compromise Farm Bill sent to the president late Wednesday will not affect the one in seven Oklahomans receiving food stamps.

A previous House version backed by many Republicans applied work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits an additional 10 years up to age 59 and to parents of kids 6 or older.

Speaking on the House floor, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas said Farm Bills have always had two parts to them. One is providing a safety net to grow the food America needs.

BA Police-Facebook

The 19th-safest city in America is — Broken Arrow.

The ranking comes from financial analysis website 24/7 Wall St. The rankings lean on violent crime rates, though they also consider poverty and unemployment. Broken Arrow’s violent crime rate was 124.1 per 100,000 residents in 2017, down 19 percent from 2016.

City of Broken Arrow

City Manager Michael Spurgeon said Wednesday the state of Broken Arrow is strong, thanks to public and private investment in development.

He included in that a $211 million general obligation bond package voters approved earlier this year. Most of that investment has happened in downtown and near the Broken Arrow Expressway. Spurgeon said in 2019, redevelopment of south Broken Arrow needs to be an emphasis.

BOP

 

The FBI is investigating the death of an inmate at a federal prison in Oklahoma.

Officials say 34-year-old inmate Justin Clark was found unresponsive Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Oklahoma City. Clark was discovered in his cell about 2 p.m. Staff members performed CPR and rushed him to a nearby hospital, but Clark was later pronounced dead.

Wikimedia

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin will soon consider food safety rules on marijuana edibles, which advocates say should help bring clarity to the cannabis-infused food market.

The Oklahoman reports that the Oklahoma Board of Health voted Tuesday to send the rules to Fallin for approval.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Project Manager Buffy Heater says the rules follow similar guidelines for foods that don't have THC, which is the compound in marijuana that causes a high. She says the rules call for additional testing and labeling requirements.

Edmond Mayor Dies

Dec 12, 2018
City of Edmond

 

The mayor of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond has died.

Mathews Funeral Home in Edmond says Mayor Charles Lamb died Tuesday. He was 72. A cause of death has not been released, but The Oklahoman reports that Lamb complained of fighting a cold during a Monday night City Council meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Waner, who is now acting mayor, said in a statement that "we are incredibly saddened and shocked" by Lamb's death.

School Grades Delayed

Dec 12, 2018
KWGS News File Photo

The State Department of Education is delaying the release of school report cards – saying it needs more time to test and validate its new method for measuring public school performance. 

The Department planned to release the report cards in mid-December. But on Monday night, The Tulsa World reports education officials sent a letter to districts saying they need more time.

The accountability tool is required by federal law, and many parents use the report cards to choose a school for their children. 

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