Local & Regional

Sapulpa Voters to Decide $40M Bond Issue

Jan 14, 2020
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Sapulpa voters are being asked to approve more than $40.2 million in general obligation bonds today.

The funds are spread across six propositions. The largest one has $10.6 million for street projects and downtown improvements.

Other propositions will pay for public safety needs, parks, an economic development fund and sports facilities.

Tuesday's headlines:

  • North Tulsa leaders demand a community-driven search for the city's next police chief and an end to Tulsa's involvement with the "LivePD" reality show.
  • Oklahoma has a new electronic tracking system sexual assault victims can use to track their rape kits.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter files a lawsuit against opioid distributors.

One of Oklahoma’s largest Christian denominations is moving toward a split over how it treats LGBTQ persons.

The United Methodist Church will likely vote on a plan later this year that would give more conservative members $25 million to establish their own traditionalist denomination. Remaining members would then be free to change policies regarding LGBTQ persons.

Patricia Miller leads the Confessing Movement, which is against LGBTQ marriage and ordination in the church. She said the divide has been around since the early 1970s.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Local elected officials made public their call for Mayor G.T. Bynum to have a transparent, community-driven search for Tulsa’s next chief of police.

North Tulsa leaders City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Reps. Regina Goodwin and Monroe Nichols, and state Sen. Kevin Matthews delivered a letter to Bynum last week telling him they and their constituents want a selection committee of community members to help conduct a national search for a chief who will take on racial disparities in policing, with finalists available for public forums.

KWGS News

The annual Chili Bowl Midget Racing Nationals are back at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. NASCAR Racing Team owner Tony Stewart says the annual dirt track event is a favorite for fans across the nation and internationally. The races, the biggest of their kind in the world are tied to Tulsa in a contract through the foreseeable future. It means an estimated $33-million a year to the Tulsa area.

Nearly 360 drivers from 40 states and Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are participating this year. Racing is under the roof at Expo Center through Saturday.

Commissioners of the Land Office

The head of the agency managing Oklahoma's school trust land says they can do a much better job when it comes to getting lease revenue.

The Commissioners of the Land Office can offer surface leases at auction, but more than 100,000 of the 750,000 acres the agency oversees is up for grabs each year, and interested parties typically have to go check out sites for themselves.

Acting Secretary Brandt Vawter said the land office is starting to compile drone footage and full data sets on land for an online system.

KWGS News file photo

Many companies in Oklahoma are hurting for workers, and many former or soon-to-be former inmates need good jobs.

Oklahoma Career Tech has a $2.5 million plan to get more people in Department of Corrections custody access to training programs. Director Marcie Mack said they'll start with a few key industries.

"Truck driver training is one of the largest areas of request that we have for the state. And so, we have individuals that would qualify to serve in that capacity or that occupation," Mack said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

West Tulsa residents are still waiting for the Reed Park gym to reopen after it was damaged during last spring's storms.

Rain softened the ground enough that an old oak tree fell on the gym's north side May 3, damaging the roof and wall. It happened before a federal disaster declaration, and Parks Director Anna America said the delay in fixing the gym comes down to officials being unfamiliar with using the city's insurance policy for the amount of damage done.

TCSO

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — When Ken Friend learned a job transfer meant moving his family to California from the small farm they’d been living on in rural Oklahoma, he knew he’d have to find new homes for his animals.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations is probing the death of a woman who died while being held in the city’s jail on misdemeanor warrants.

The Tulsa Police Department says 46-year-old Lawanda Ward had been booked into the jail around 7 p.m. on Jan. 2. Ward had complained of not feeling well when she was booked, but Tulsa Police Lt. Shane Tuell says paramedics checked and cleared her.

Ward was found unresponsive about 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 6. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Stitt Campaign

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is taking steps to reduce the requirements for businesses to open in the state, echoing a federal move that implemented a similar policy.

The Republican governor said Wednesday that he plans to sign an executive order aimed at slashing the number of regulations in Oklahoma.

“My goal is to have a 25% reduction in regulations by the end of my term,” Stitt said at a Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma luncheon. His term ends January 2023.

NWS Photo

Icy roads, deadly tornadoes, punishing waves — severe weekend weather has been blamed for 11 deaths and major damage in parts of the Midwest, South and Northeast.

Tens of thousands remained without electrical power Sunday as a result of the storms a day earlier. Officials in far-flung locations were assessing the damages while utility crews worked to restore power.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma should overhaul its criminal code and change its bail and pre-trial detention programs to help address its high incarceration rate, a governor’s task force recommended on Friday.

Monday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma Career Tech plans to expand training programs in correctional centers.
  • A governor's task force submits its final report on next steps in criminal justice reform.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to appoint the state's top public education official.

OKC Thunder

 

Former Oklahoma City Thunder player Enes Kanter plans to open a charter school in the metro area that primarily serves low-income minority students and those from immigrant families with limited English-speaking abilities.

The Oklahoman reports that Kanter notified Oklahoma City Public Schools of his intentions to open the Enes Kanter School for Exceptional Learning. He and a group of “civic-minded individuals” from the city will submit a charter school application to the school district on Tuesday.

Spring Storms Then Harsh Winter Weather Ahead

Jan 10, 2020
NWS-Graphic

Here is your one stop location for information you need concerning our severe weather threat in Green Country.

Agencies Split $2-Million in Drug Funds

Jan 10, 2020
U.S.Attorney

United States Attorney Trent Shores announced that 17 law enforcement agencies will receive $2 million in seized funds from the drug operation Killa Gorilla. U.S. Attorney Shores also highlighted the essential work performed by the men and women of law enforcement and thanked them for their service to the people of Oklahoma. The announcement came at a press conference held on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the Broken Arrow Police Department.

Demolition Begins on Old Union Stadium

Jan 10, 2020
Union Public Schools

Union Public Schools began demolition on the west side of the Tuttle Stadium – originally built in 1976 – in preparation for the construction of a new $42 million stadium and fine arts facility, which also includes significant renovations in the high school.

A crowd gathered to view the spectacle, including Dr. Wesley Jarman, superintendent when the stadium was first built in 1976, and Gil Cloud, former athletic director at the time. Retired Principal Dave Stauffer and Benny Dixon, another former athletic director (when the UMAC was built), also watched.

In the local news:

  • Severe storms are expected today, followed by snow.
  • Law enforcement agencies split $2-million in drug forfeiture funds.
  • The old Union High School football stadium is coming down to make way for a new stadium and fine arts center.

As the new year gets underway, I’ve been struck by the "perfect vision" metaphor for 2020.  May we all have perfect vision for this year and the future, working and listening together! On that note, here's a bird's-eye-view of what's happening at Public Radio Tulsa this new year:

Wikimedia

The first flu statistics for 2020 in Oklahoma are in and nearly 200 more people have been hospitalized in just the past week. Twelve people have died, four of those in Tulsa County. Tulsa Health Department Epidemiology Supervisor Jessica Rice says we’re just now reaching peak season, but flu cases can continue into April or May in the Sooner State.

Storms Then Snow?

Jan 9, 2020
KWGS News File Photo

Strong southerly winds remain ongoing with gusts up to 30 miles an hours expected to continue at times this morning. Wind speeds will lessen during the afternoon hours. Scattered thunderstorms are expected to develop as early this evening, with slightly higher coverage overnight across southeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. A few strong storms approaching severe limits are possible overnight, and will also be capable of producing locally heavy rainfall.

Google Street View

 

An Arkansas panel is calling for increased oversight of the state's levees after last year's historic flooding. The Arkansas Levee Task Force presented its final report Tuesday on the state's system of levees.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has approved a plan to add an area code for 19 central Oklahoma counties, including Oklahoma County.

The commission announced Wednesday that the North American Numbering Plan Administrator will announce the new area code later this month and it will be available beginning in July. Starting in January 2021, callers will have to dial 10 digits that include the area code plus the seven-digit number.

Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said existing phone numbers will not be affected.

Booking photo

A former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of raping and sexually victimizing women he encountered while on patrol is appealing his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court. Court records show Daniel Holtzclaw's petition to the nation's highest court was filed last week.

Holtzclaw's attorneys maintain prosecutors mischaracterized DNA evidence that was key to his conviction. They also cite a secret hearing held after he was convicted involving the state's forensic expert witness from which defense attorneys were excluded.

KWGS News File Photo

 A Oklahoma man is facing a federal charge after authorities say he called Tulsa International Airport on Christmas Eve and reported that a drive-up nuclear bomb would be detonated there. Federal prosecutors in Tulsa say 64-year-old Anthony John Michalski was charged Monday with one count of providing false information about bombs at an airport. According to an FBI officer's affidavit, Michalski admitted to making the bomb threats. He told investigators he was being held hostage by a terrorist organization. Michalski's family told investigators he has a history of mental illness.

In the local news:

  • A former Tulsa Fairgrounds official is arraigned for embezzlement.
  • North Tulsans want community leaders involved in Police Chief candidate interviews.
  • A push for more affordable downtown housing.

In the local news:

  • A former Tulsa Fairgrounds official is arraigned for embezzlement.
  • North Tulsans want community leaders involved in Police Chief candidate interviews.
  • A push for more affordable downtown housing.

Oklahoma Tourism

Tulsa city councilors got an update Wednesday on a downtown and near downtown housing study that's underway.

A final report isn’t due for a couple more months, but consultants shared some initial findings, such as a great need for affordable housing. City Housing Policy Director Becky Gligo said about 90 percent of people need something in the $700 to $1,500 per month range.

Marelbu-Wikimedia

As state funding for higher education has risen across the country, Oklahoma has been one of five states that’s seen a decline in the last five years.

Between 2015 and 2020, higher education funding from states rose by on average 18.8% which represents $15.3 billion total. In Oklahoma, funding fell 18.6% or $195 million, according to the Grapevine Survey, conducted by Illinois State University. The survey measures state support of colleges and universities nationwide.

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