Local & Regional

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.

Experts monitoring Oklahoma’s progress instituting court-ordered foster-care reforms report the state is still not doing enough to provide homes to children who need therapeutic care.

In their latest commentary on the settlement agreement known as the Pinnacle Plan, experts known as co-neutrals report the Oklahoma Department of Human Services has seen an 82% net decline in therapeutic foster homes since 2013.

Red Cross Needs Blood Urgently

Jan 8, 2020
File photo

TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 8, 2020) — The American Red Cross currently has a critical need for blood donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors to make an appointment now to give and help replenish the blood supply after the holiday weeks. Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood. To help tackle the critical need, the Red Cross and NFL are working together to offer one lucky winner a trip to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

 

Inhofe Press Office

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has proposed and Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is supporting a change in Senate rules that would allow the GOP-controlled chamber to dismiss President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

The proposal would empower the Senate to dismiss the articles of impeachment if the House fails to deliver them within 25 days of its impeachment vote, which was Dec. 18.

File photo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The looming production shutdown of Boeing 737 Max jets is taking a toll on a key supplier.

Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. is asking employees if they will take voluntarily buyouts. Spirit suspended production of fuselages and other parts for the Max on Jan. 1, after Boeing told the Wichita, Kansas, company to suspend shipments.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Investigators use new tools in their search for two girls who went missing near Welch in 1999.
  • Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe backs a resolution to dismiss articles of impeachment against President Trump.
  • Ballot language has been finalized for a Medicaid expansion measure in Oklahoma.

Tulsa Airport

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man accused of calling Tulsa International Airport on Christmas Eve and reporting that a drive-up nuclear bomb would be detonated there is facing a criminal charge, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Anthony John Michalski, 64, was charged Monday with one count of providing false information about bombs at an airport.

Authorities continue their search for the bodies of two Green Country teenagers missing for more than 20 years.

They’ve dropped cameras down some mine shafts in the Picher area before, but now federal mining officials are offering a submersible camera to explore mine shafts in the area where Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible’s bodies are believed to be.

They’ve also got a camera with a tether of around 320 feet, much longer than in previous searches.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tulsa has not seen the apocalyptic infestation of emerald ash borers officials feared in recent years.

The destructive beetle was first detected near Grove in 2016.

"That actually has kind of sat still since then. So, nothing new has come up since then. It’s been just kind of stagnant, which is good," said David Zucconi, the City of Tulsa's urban forester.

OU Foundation

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A third University of Oklahoma student has come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against a former university administrator.

The 21-year-old student claims in a lawsuit filed Monday that former OU Vice President Jim “Tripp” Hall III performed a sex act on him last year without his consent. The student claims Hall befriended him in 2017 when he was a sophomore and Hall was the vice president of university development.

KWGS News File photo

Fire danger is high until a front moves into the area Thursday. Safety officials urge caution. With dry vegetation and high winds predicted, Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralichek says it’s prudent to be careful. He says don’t throw cigarettes out the window, monitor any outdoor fires, and put off large scale outdoor burning until the high winds ease. Wednesday and Thursday have the most potential for wildfire danger.

Rain and then snow are possible late in the week and this weekend.

KWGS News File photo

Fire danger is high until a front moves into the area Thursday. Safety officials urge caution. With dry vegetation and high winds predicted, Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralichek says it’s prudent to be careful. He says don’t throw cigarettes out the window, monitor any outdoor fires, and put off large scale outdoor burning until the high winds ease. Wednesday and Thursday have the most potential for wildfire danger.

Rain and then snow are possible late in the week and this weekend.

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