Local & Regional

Oklahoma County

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Five inmates have been charged with murder in the death of another inmate during a hostage-taking incident at an Oklahoma jail.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater filed charges Monday and says more are expected after further investigation into the incident at the county’s detention center, according to The Oklahoman.

Two inmates were charged with first-degree murder and three others were charged with second-degree murder for alleged actions that led to the death of Curtis Montrell Williams, 34, after taking a detention officer hostage.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of people planning to run for Oklahoma governor next year is continuing to grow, with two more candidates filing paperwork to seek the office.

Independent Paul Tay, a perennial political candidate from Tulsa, and Libertarian Natalie Bruno of Edmond both filed paperwork with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission indicating their plans to run. That brings to five the number of candidates seeking to run for governor in 2022, including incumbent Republican Kevin Stitt.

file photo

With the state ending federal enhanced unemployment benefits at the end of the week, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is hosting another career fair in Tulsa on Wednesday.

The career fair will be at Tulsa Expo Square River Spirit Expo Center. Doors open to veterans at 8:30 a.m. and to the general public at 9 a.m. The event goes until 4 p.m., and applicants are welcome to bring paper résumés, digital copies or use computers on site.

Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office

The first indigenous U.S. cabinet secretary said Tuesday her agency will take a close look at federal boarding schools the government forced Native children to attend.

Speaking at the National Congress of American Indians Midyear Conference, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative will include compiling and analyzing the institutions' records to help figure out how many children died at them and what their ongoing effects on Native American communities are.

Wikimedia

The Oklahoma State Board of Equalization on Monday voted on its final certification of funds for fiscal year 2022, anticipating impacts of changes made in the recently adjourned legislative session.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa man is facing federal charges after federal prosecutors say he threatened to kill President Joe Biden, members of Congress and their families.

Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson says 58-year-old John Jacobs Ahrens was charged Monday with making threats against the president.

Johnson says Ahrens sent a series of emails to a Tulsa television station threatening to murder Biden, members of Congress and their families if he didn’t receive money.

Oklahoma Watch

Yesterday was named Child Tax Credit Awareness Day by the Biden administration. 

 

Marcela Swenson, executive director of Tulsa Responds, says the reason is to raise awareness for a tax credit the President hopes to see continue.

 

Tuesday's top stories:

• Local housing advocates are preparing for a "tsunami" of evictions following the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium scheduled for June 30.

• Restore Hope Ministries has distributed more than $4 million in emergency rental assistance since April, their executive director says.

• State health officials are trying to get Oklahoma up from dead last in the nation for percent of COVID-19 samples sequenced to detect variants of the coronavirus.

Officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Health say they’re asking all medical providers and laboratories across the state to send positive COVID-19 samples to the public health lab in Stillwater for variant sequencing.

 

“There’s a big notification going out today that says, ‘If you have a positive specimen, please send it to us because we want to be as robust as possible,’” said state epidemiologist Jolianne Stone. 

 

Oklahoma ranks 42nd for child well-being according to the 2021 KIDS COUNT report, up from 45th last year.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual report ranks states on economic well-being, family and community context, education, and health. Oklahoma dropped one spot to 41st in family and community context indicators. The state moved up seven spots to 42nd in health and three spots to 45th in education.

The nonprofit tasked with administering an Emergency Rental Assistance Program in Tulsa and 19 other Oklahoma counties has distributed more than $4 million the past two months.

Restore Hope Ministries has given out $4.3 million since April 9. Executive Director Rev. Jeff Jaynes said over the 12 preceding months of the pandemic, Restore Hope gave out $4 million dollars, and that was an enormous increase over their typical levels of financial assistance.

OSHA: Employers Should Encourage Vaccination

Jun 21, 2021
Food and Drug Administration

Guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for how to protect workers during the pandemic were updated June 10th. 

 

Changes to the new guidelines include a focus on unvaccinated workers. 

 

According to OSHA, employers no longer need to take steps to protect fully vaccinated workers, but a list of suggestions for unvaccinated and other at-risk workers is given.

 

Monday's top stories:

• The federal Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) has updated its COVID guidelines for employers regarding unvaccinated employees.

• The mayor of Tullahassee, Okla., the oldest of Oklahoma's historic all-Black towns, is joining a group of mayors from across the U.S. in committing to develop a municipal reparations program for Black residents.

• Two former Oklahoma County Jail employees have been charged with felonies in separate incidents of alleged neglect and/or violence.

Oklahoma Watch

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Prosecutors charged two former employees of the Oklahoma County Jail in separate cases in which they are accused of allowing inmates to severely injure each other.

Town of Tullahassee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Eleven U.S. mayors — from Los Angeles to tiny Tullahassee, Oklahoma — have pledged to pay reparations for slavery to a small group of Black residents in their cities, saying their aim is to set an example for the federal government on how a nationwide program could work.

Google Maps Street View

CAMERON, Okla. (AP) — Five northwest Arkansas residents, including two teenagers, were killed in a head-on collision in eastern Oklahoma near the Oklahoma-Arkansas state line, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports.

The five died Friday in the collision on State Highway 112 near Cameron, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City, according to an OHP report.

University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr.

PRYOR, Okla. (AP) — Los Angeles-based electric vehicle company Canoo announced Thursday it has selected Pryor, Oklahoma, for its U.S. manufacturing facility, which is expected to employ 2,000 people.

The company plans to build its factory on a 400-acre campus at the MidAmerica Industrial Park near Tulsa. It will include a paint and body shop, along with a general assembly plant, and is targeted to open in 2023.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thirty-four Oklahoma lawmakers, including 28 Republicans, called Wednesday for reopening the investigation that led to the conviction of death row inmate Richard Glossip. 

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Oklahoma ranks 50th in the nation for percent of COVID-19 test samples being sequenced to detect virus variants of concern, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Oklahoma has sequenced 0.18% of the positive tests that we've seen coming through on the state level," said Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, on a Tuesday press briefing conducted virtually by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition.

Mayor Unfazed By Amazon's Safety And Turnover Records

Jun 18, 2021

Mayor G.T. Bynum comments on Amazon’s safety and turnover. 

 

Responding to reports that Amazon warehouse workers are injured at nearly twice the rate as workers in other warehouse jobs, Mayor Bynum says he trusts Amazon to work out its problems. 

 

Friday's top stories:

• Celebrations are underway in Tulsa for Juneteenth, now officially a federal holiday.

• The 100 block of North Greenwood Avenue has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Courtesy Greenwood Chamber of Commerce

The 100 block of North Greenwood Avenue has been added to the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.

Courtesy Tulsa Juneteenth Festival

Juneteenth programming is underway in Tulsa and will run through the weekend.

A Thursday night block party on North Greenwood Avenue kicked off the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival.

"We want everyone in the city of Tulsa to really see what Juneteenth is all about," said Carmel Blumenberg, a festival organizer. "Let's celebrate together. Let's commemorate together. Let's remember together, and just have a good time."

Two Parks Changing To Honor Veterans, Native Americans

Jun 17, 2021

Some monuments to veterans are moving. 

 

At a press conference today, officials announced that Veterans Park will be moving to Centennial Park. One reason for the change is to create more visibility for the Veterans Park monuments. 

 

Josh Sparks, veterans chair for the Human Rights Commission, said Veterans Park was first established on South Boulder Drive because that street was once a main thoroughfare. It’s not so much these days.

 

Thursday's top stories:

• Oklahoma's COVID-19 case rates are far below their peaks, but there are localized spikes, and some variants of concern are being found in infected patients.

• With the heat index over 100, cooling centers have been opened in Tulsa; Tulsa County residents should also call 211 to see if they qualify for a free window unit.

Changes Coming For Two Tulsa Parks

Jun 16, 2021
Trust for Public Land

Two local parks are seeing changes.

Centennial Park at 6th and Peoria will be renamed Veterans Park, and what was Veterans Park will be called Dream Keeper Park to honor Native Americans.

During a meeting of the Indian Affairs Commission Tuesday evening, chair Cheryl Cohenour said the location on South Boulder Drive has meaning.

“It’s pretty close to the Council Oak Tree and the river, so it has a little bit more symbolic reference for us. We have an opportunity to do a lot of different things at that park,” said Cohenour.

CDC

COVID-19 cases are down globally but some regions are seeing spikes. 

 

Dr. Jennifer Clark of OSU’s ECHO Project compared the pockets of infection to smoldering fires. 

 

“It’s one thing to have pockets of smoldering fires, but it’s another thing when smoldering fires kind of come together. Is there going to be a potential for an outbreak? It’s something we’re continuing to watch.”

 

Wednesday's top stories:

• The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Tuesday that new federal guidance will allow the state to extend the shelf life of 75,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire at the end of June.

• Two parks in Tulsa will be getting new names.

• Three Tulsa mail carriers were indicted on federal drug conspiracy charges Tuesday.

Tulsa Health Department

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Tuesday it will be able to extend the shelf life of 75,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that were set to expire at the end of this month due to a change in federal guidance.

"The 75,000 doses anticipated to expire in June will now be available for administration until August 7, with some of the lots expiring July 24," the department said in a news release.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa man and three U.S. Postal Service carriers have been charged with participating in a methamphetamine drug conspiracy, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

A federal grand jury in Tulsa indicted Kamau Jahi Williams, 42; Erick Scott, 49; Christine Conner, 54, all of Tulsa; and Shawn Boike, 46, of Skiatook, with drug conspiracy, acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said in a statement. The defendants made initial federal court appearances Tuesday.

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