Local & Regional

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The first of three town halls being held by Mayor G.T. Bynum for public input on his search for Tulsa’s next chief of police is tonight.

Tonight's forum is at 6 p.m. in Hardesty Library's Frossard Auditorium, 8316 E 93rd St.

"Hiring the next chief of the Tulsa Police Department will be one of the most important decisions I make during my time as mayor," Bynum said in a statement. "It is important to me that I hear from my fellow Tulsans what they hope to see in and from our next chief of police."

Tuesday's headlines:

  • The State Treasurer's Office sees signs Oklahoma's economy is slowing.
  • Superintendent Deborah Gist presents to the Tulsa Public Schools Board school closure recommendations meant to close the district's $20 million budget shortfall.
  • Aero, Tulsa's bus rapid transit service, is now collecting fares.

Superintendent Deborah Gist presented Monday night to the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education her recommendations to close four elementary schools as the district works to close a $20 million budget shortfall.

Gist proposes closing Wright, Grimes and Jones elementary schools and consolidating Mark Twain Elementary School into Wayman Tisdale. Those measures would save the district an estimated $2 million to $3 million a year.

OKC Police

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Five Oklahoma City police officers opened fire on a knife-wielding man, killing him, after he repeatedly refused officers’ commands to drop the weapon, police said Monday.

Officers were responding to a separate domestic assault call Sunday night when they encountered Samuel Lanham, 50, carrying a large knife, according to a narrative of the incident released by police.

Lanham repeatedly ignored officers’ commands to drop the weapon, and non-lethal devices including stun guns and bean-bag shotgun rounds were ineffective, police said.

Rogers, Mayes and Craig Counties District Attorney's Office

Two days of meetings and new searches are planned this week for two 16-year-old Oklahoma girls missing and presumed dead for more than two decades, authorities said Monday.

Investigators with the Craig County District Attorney’s Office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will be joined by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman in and around the former town of Picher, about 85 miles northeast of Tulsa, said district attorney spokeswoman Michelle Lowry.

Now that Aero bus rapid transit service is fully operational, Tulsa Transit is moving on to its next big project: a mobile fare application.

It won’t just be for paying bus fares, though.

"So, it’ll be like a mobility app that you can really — kind of a Swiss Army knife of apps for transit that you can book a bus, ridesharing, plan your trips, everything you can think of in one handy application," Rieck said.

Tulsa Transit will be using a platform from Dallas Area Rapid Transit and its developer, Unwire. Rieck said the parties are finalizing the agreement.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission on Monday authorized the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to negotiate a financing agreement with the federal government for part of the Gilcrease Expressway.

"This will allow us to go ahead and secure the last piece of the financing that’s going to be necessary to move the Gilcrease project forward to construction and then have a payment agreement with the turnpike authority to facilitate the payment," said ODOT Director Tim Gatz.

Office of the State Treasurer

2019 ended with signs of a slowing state economy.

Oklahoma Deputy Treasurer Tim Allen said it’s clear when they look at gross receipts quarter-by-quarter.

"The first two quarters of 2019 were very strong. We saw growth of almost 10% each of those two quarters. But then in the third quarter, it dropped to just over 4%. In the fourth quarter, we actually saw a contraction in gross receipts of 0.5%," Allen said.

That puts 2019’s total state revenue growth rate at 5.7%, down from 13.2% the year before.

Tulsa Transit

After six weeks, Tulsa's Aero bus rapid transit service is no longer free to ride.

After a six-week trial period, fares went into effect Jan. 2. Tulsa Transit General Manager Ted Rieck said they’re the same as regular bus fares.

"The adult is $1.75 for a one-way trip. It’s a two-hour pass, basically, and would allow people to transfer between bus routes so the timing works out," Rieck said.

Cherry Street Association

Major work in a street rehab project is now underway on Cherry Street.

The City of Tulsa is making extensive street improvements. The work will mean no on-street parking and just one lane of traffic in both directions on 15th Street between Peoria and Utica avenues. City Field Engineering Manager Ryan McKaskle said things will be like that for awhile.

"Early summer, we should be wrapping up with the water line and the roadway work on the south side, and then we’ll be shifting the traffic to the newly improved side as we work on the north side lanes," McKaskle said.

The Children's Society

The Tulsa Sheriff’s Office signs on to a program to help reduce trauma in children. Sheriff Vic Regalado says ‘Handle with Care’ addresses much of the trauma a child might suffer when law enforcement has to be introduced into a situation such as domestic violence.

Wikimedia

State officials are hoping they can come up with best practices for driving away feral hogs.

Two pilot programs start this month with the goal of getting landowners and state and federal agencies working together to trap and remove feral hogs. Agriculture Secretary Blayne Arthur said the problem is so bad here, a federal grant is helping fund Oklahoma’s work.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

New leaders of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation were honored at an inauguration ceremony Saturday at River Spirit Casino.

Principal Chief David Hill said the tribe’s continued sovereignty is his primary concern.

"We will use strong roots planted and a fire born unto us [to withstand] the battles facing our nation. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation will remain resolute, stand firm against attempts to weaken our nation," Hill said.

Selser Schaefer Architects

Backers of the Route 66 Experience, an interpretive center planned for near Cyrus Avery Plaza, plan to move forward with the project despite losing more than $6 million in public funding.

The City of Tulsa is reallocating those funds from a sales tax package, likely to a Route 66 museum now proposed as part of a development at 11th Street and Lewis Avenue. Route 66 Alliance Executive Director Ken Busby is trying to get the Route 66 Experience built and said he doesn’t see the two projects as being in competition with each other.

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Tamaulipas (AP) — An American family returning to the U.S. after a holiday visit to Mexico came under attack just south of Texas on Saturday night, with armed gunmen killing a 13-year-old and wounding three other people.

The attorney general’s office in the state of Tamaulipas said the child was a U.S. citizen and that the parents were permanent residents of the U.S. They did not release the victims’ names.

The family was traveling in a Chevrolet SUV with Oklahoma state plates, returning from a holiday visit to relatives in the state of San Luis Potosi.

Legal Aid Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma County judge facing a felony charge of failing to file her state income tax returns has been removed from presiding over criminal trials.

The Oklahoman reports that Judge Kendra Coleman was reassigned Friday by Presiding Judge Ray C. Elliott to handle victim protective order requests and mental health cases.

Monday's headlines:

  • New leaders of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation are sworn into office.
  • A 13-year-old is killed after an American family returning from a holiday visit to Mexico is attacked.
  • The City of Tulsa will start switching over to LED street lights, with the first ones along the Broken Arrow Expressway.

Sanders Campaign

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign raised more than $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 with more than 12,000 donations and $182,000 from Oklahomans.

Sanders’ campaign raised more than $18 million from over 900,000 donations in December alone, which is the campaign’s single best fundraising month to date. Nearly 300,000 new donors gave in the fourth quarter.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Jeriah Horne scored 23 points, Brandon Rachal added 19 and Martins Igbanu 14 as Tulsa clobbered Temple 70-44 Friday night to win its American Athletic Conference opener.

Horne, Rachal and Igbanu combined to make 21 of the Golden Hurricanes 27 field goals as Tulsa (9-5, 1-0) shot 51% from the floor (27-for-53) with eight 3-pointers, 13 steals and five blocked shots.

MCALESTER, Okla. (AP) — Police are investigating the slaying of a prominent local advocate for transgender rights who was shot and killed on New Year’s Day while driving a cab.

Dustin Parker, 25, was found dead early Wednesday in the driver’s seat of the cab he was driving in McAlester, Preston Rodgers, a police sergeant in the city about 105 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press. Police are searching for a suspect or anyone with information about the killing, he said.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A man crossing the interstate in Oklahoma City after his vehicle ran out of gas was struck and killed by a police officer, police said Friday.

The unidentified man was returning to his vehicle about 9:20 p.m. Thursday after getting gasoline when he was hit by the officer and a second vehicle, Oklahoma City police said in a statement. Both vehicles were traveling westbound on Interstate 40.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injures were reported.

Police identified the officer as Sgt. John Ricketts, a 24-year veteran of the force.

Governor's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday the hiring of an out-of-state law firm to represent him in his ongoing dispute with Native American tribes over casino gambling.

Stitt hired Seattle-based Perkins Coie to advise his office in his attempt to renegotiate the state’s gaming compacts with the tribes.

The contract, signed last month by Stitt’s general counsel, Mark Burget, is for legal services up to $300,000 and authorizes attorney fees of up to $750 per hour.

Tulsa County Sheriff

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa County authorities say three more individuals have been arrested in connection with the December murder of a member of a white-supremacist prison gang.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office says the three suspects — Tyler Brett Coyle, Taylor Michelle Harper and Destiny Rae Asher — were arrested Thursday afternoon.

The sheriff’s office says all three were taken in custody on first degree murder warrants for the death of 23-year-old Jared Langworthy.

Oklahoma Watch

Tulsa Public Schools officials noticed a trend in the latest Oklahoma school report cards.

The lower a school’s grade was, the higher its share of students considered economically disadvantaged tended to be. At nearly all schools getting an "F" on their state report card, 90% of students or more are considered economically disadvantaged.

Superintendent Deborah Gist said TPS isn’t writing off those students.

City of Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow still plans to build an innovation district featuring advanced manufacturing and tech companies.

It was first announced in 2017, but City Manager Michael Spurgeon said the pieces will start falling into place this year.

USDA

Oklahomans are still grappling with a sudden uptick in poultry farm operations, especially in the northeastern part of the state.

Oklahoma Conservation Commission Director Trey Lam said they’re trying out a community conservation program that brings farmers, residents and elected officials together.

"They’ll identify and prioritize whether it’s dust, smell, runoff, water wells. One of our agencies will have some expertise — even work with county commissioners on traffic," Lam said.

The program is funded by a $500,00 grant.

File photo

Updated 1-3-2020: 

Tulsa Police have made three arrests in the city’s first homicide of the New Year. Responding officers found Darrell Hope lying in the street early Thursday morning near  an apartment complex at 15th and South Garnett. He had at least two bullet wounds in his chest. He was taken to a hospital where he died. Investigators say Hope went out for cigarettes and a confrontation took place in the parking lot where he was shot.  After an investigation, Hilary and Trenton Talbert and Jesse Webb were arrested on first degree murder complaints.

Byron Clark

Oklahoma is set to begin full-scale commercial hemp growing this year, and there could be tax credits available for companies that want to process the crop.

Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling said they’ve taken a close look at state and federal laws.

"We have determined that incentive programs can go to assist with hemp processing as long as it is something that is completely separated from a medical marijuana processing facility," Kisling said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Elected officials from the City of Tulsa plan to lobby state lawmakers during the upcoming session about allowing cities more sources of funding than sales tax revenue.

City Councilor Kara Joy McKee said the council’s consensus is legislators need a nudge.

"We all agreed that we need to be going up there to the capitol to talk to our counterparts at the state level. So, I think there’ll be a bus to the capitol — or several — this coming spring, and maybe we’ll bring some constituents along as well," McKee said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma lawmakers are keeping a watchful eye on the state agency that provides information technology services to everyone else.

Lawmakers routinely asked agencies presenting their budget requests for the upcoming year what the Office of Management and Enterprise Services was charging them.

Department of Environmental Quality Director Scott Thompson said their OMES fees are doubling from $1.2 million to $2.4 million, and he’s frustrated because he doesn’t know exactly why.

Pages