Local & Regional

'Fair' Weather This Weekend

Sep 29, 2018
KWGS News File photo

Patchy dense fog will continue in a few areas through mid morning across eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas before dissipating. A limited fire danger threat will develop across northeast Oklahoma this afternoon as southerly winds begin to increase with warm conditions. Unseasonably warm weather will persist through much of the upcoming work week with fire weather concerns increasing. Gusty southwest winds around 30 mph will create a very high fire danger on Wednesday.

OKC Police

Police in Oklahoma City say a robbery suspect in custody for almost a year is also facing charges in four homicides.

Court records show 27-year-old Mario Normore is charged with 10 counts of robbery with a firearm involving several businesses and two banks.

Oklahoma City police Officer Megan Morgan said Friday that police recommended to prosecutors that Normore also be charged with four counts of murder and prosecutors agreed.

Exotic campaign

A former Oklahoma zookeeper who ran for governor this year and uses the name "Joe Exotic" has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Online court records show 55-year-old Joseph Maldonado-Passage entered the pleas Thursday to two charges in federal court in Oklahoma City.

An indictment alleges Maldonado-Passage twice tried to hire someone to kill the operator of a Florida-based animal sanctuary, identifying the intended victim only as "Jane Doe."

The federal government will continue to recognize Oklahoma driver's licenses and identification cards as an acceptable form of ID for at least another year.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced on Friday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted the state another extension, this one through October 2019. That means state licenses can still be used to board commercial flights or enter federal government buildings.

KWGS News/City of Broken Arrow

A judge in Tulsa County has issued a temporary injunction that prohibits the city of Broken Arrow from enforcing new regulations on medical marijuana.

Court records show Judge Patrick Pickerill granted the injunction Friday in a lawsuit that alleges that city officials in Broken Arrow didn't have the authority to impose the new restrictions. Among the new regulations approved by the Broken Arrow City Council earlier this month was a $2,500 permit fee for dispensaries and restrictions on growing marijuana indoors.

ARLP

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several environmental groups are trying to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from transferring oversight of the disposal of toxic coal ash to state regulators in Oklahoma.

The group Earthjustice filed a lawsuit this week in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Oklahoma-based Local Environmental Action Demanded agency.

The groups allege the EPA unlawfully approved Oklahoma's state coal ash program that allows "unsafe impoundments full of toxic coal ash" to continue operating.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Boston Avenue looked a little different between Fifth and Sixth streets on Friday.

Tulsa’s Young Professionals and the Downtown Coordinating Council paid the fees to take over three parking spaces for the day.

"But then using landscaping, using art and design to help people think differently about the public realm and about the importance of urban parks and public spaces in the built environment," said Downtown Coordinating Council Executive Director Brian Kurtz.

Package Explodes at Fort Gibson Post Office

Sep 28, 2018
Postal Service

A minor explosion rocks the post office in the town of Fort Gibson. The blast came from a package. It is unknown what was in the package or whether it was intended to be an explosive device.

No injuries have been reported. The blast is being investigated by the postal service and the Fort Gibson Police. 

State of Oklahoma

 

When voters booted a dozen Oklahoma Republican legislators from office in the primary, the common thinking was that educators angry about classroom funding were behind the ousters.

But there were forces at work beyond just agitated teachers.

A top GOP House leader actively participated in a plan to take down several hardline members of his own caucus, a move that went far beyond what former President Ronald Reagan once called the 11th Commandment: never to speak ill of a fellow Republican.

 

One of the nation's top rating agencies is revising Oklahoma's economic outlook from negative to stable, citing a stabilization of the state's finances as a result of revenue growth.

Moody's Investors Service announced on Thursday that it was affirming the state's Aa2 rating, the agency's third highest rating. The switch from a negative to stable outlook suggests more financial stability and the agency's belief the rating will remain unchanged for at least a year.

The Oklahoman Sold

Sep 28, 2018
The Oklahoman

 

The Oklahoman is being sold to GateHouse Media.

Publisher Chris Reen announced the sale to staff Thursday. Terms have not been disclosed. The sale is expected to close Monday.

Reen says some layoffs would happen Thursday to help stabilize financial operations for Oklahoma City's only daily newspaper. Reen says he will be leaving his position as publisher.

The Anschutz Corp., owned by Denver businessman Philip Anschutz, bought The Oklahoman in 2011.

KWGS News

The total stands at 2,562.

That is the number of emergency teaching certificates the state board of education has authorized this school year. 412 new certificates were added to the list.

State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told the board yesterday she hopes we have reached the peak, now that state teachers have received a $6,100 pay increase.

Many teachers have left the profession in part to low pay. The emergency certifications have been steadily increasing. Five years ago, there were less than 200 such certifications. 

In the local news:

  • Another 412 emergency teaching certificates are approved in the state.
  • OU-Tulsa gets a grand to expand early education monitoring.
  • The Tulsa State Fair is underway. What is new?

Tulsa Flag

The city council got the ball rolling this week on officially adopting a redesigned Tulsa flag unveiled last year.

The blue-and-beige flag with a gold line and shield, red circle, and Art Deco star has proved popular. Joey Wignarajah led the redesign campaign and said they’ve sold more than 1,000 flags and it’s popping up on merchandise, appearing in sports team uniforms, and being incorporated into local projects like the new Marshall Brewing Taproom.

"At this point, I think the community has adopted this sort of full stop," Wignarajah said.

Bixby Begins Work on New School

Sep 27, 2018
Bixby Public Schools

The Bixby School District breaks ground on its newest elementary school. Bixby West Elementary is being constructed near 151stSouth and Harvard Avenue.

The school is the first in the Bixby district to be built west of Sheridan Road. The school will serve Pre-K through the 6thgrade. 

The district plans to open in the school in 2020.

 

Authorities in southwestern Oklahoma say a municipal worker in Mangum has been electrocuted after coming in contact with a high-voltage power line.

Mangum City Manager Dave Andren said Wednesday that 28-year-old Charlie McLaughlin died while loading a roll-off dumpster onto a hauler. Andren says the accident occurred when chain-link debris in the dumpster became entangled in a high voltage power line. He says McLaughlin was electrocuted when he came in contact with his truck and died instantly.

ICE Roundup in Oklahoma and Texas

Sep 27, 2018
ICE

 

Federal officers have arrested 98 people in a Texas and Oklahoma immigration enforcement sweep that authorities say could lead to dozens of deportations.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday announced officers made 87 arrests in North Texas and 11 in Oklahoma. Of the 11 arrested in Oklahoma, eight of those were in Tulsa.

ICE officials say most of those immigrants targeted by deportation officers have criminal convictions. Officials say 29 of those arrested had illegally re-entered the U.S. after being deported.

Tulsa Council Delays Medical Pot Moratorium

Sep 27, 2018
KWGS/TGov

The Tulsa City Council sends a moratorium on growing-and-processing medical marijuana back to committee for more discussion. The council took the action in a lengthy meeting last night at city hall.

The public spoke out strong against the moratorium. 

Attorney Ron Durbin told the council the moratorium would hurt small investors wanting to get into the emerging industry on Oklahoma.

Councilor Phil Lakin suggested the measure be sent back to committee for review. The rest of the council went along with that suggestion.

PSO

 

Oklahoma's second largest electricity provider says it's seeking an $88 million rate increase to upgrade aging infrastructure and become more efficient.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma asked the Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Wednesday to authorize a rate increase to replace and upgrade infrastructure and invest in new technology to improve reliability and efficiency. PSO says the rate increase would amount to about $7 per month for a typical residential customer.

The KWGS News Morning

Sep 27, 2018

In the local news:

  • The Tulsa City Council delays actio of a medical marijuana moratorium.
  • PSO seeks a rate increase.
  • Rides are inspected at the Tulsa State Fair.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Downtown Tulsa’s largest special taxing district may be up and running by November.

The city council has been asked to approve a tax increment finance district spanning from Denver Avenue east to the Inner Dispersal Loop and from Archer Street south to Eighth Street to be formally established. The TIF is part of a broad economic development plan approved last year.

Stay Regular

Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Working Group reached consensus Wednesday on some potential testing requirements.

That will include extending the deadline for labs to achieve accreditation and not starting the clock on them until six months after rules are adopted.

"Making sure that the language is very clear that laboratories will be given up to 24 months that they can operate under a provisional accreditation so that we can have testing up and going as soon as humanly possible in the state of Oklahoma," said Sen. Greg McCortney, a working group co-chair.

KWGS News

Just in advance of the Tulsa State Fair opening, all rides get a thorough inspection. Labor Commissioner Melissa Houston says eight inspectors are checking every ride on the midway. The inspectors have combined experience of more than 50 years doing the job.

If a ride doesn’t pass inspection, it’s shut down until it can meet requirements. Members of the Labor Department will stay on the fairgrounds during the run of the fair in case problems crop up later. There are 66 rides on the Tulsa midway this year.

google Street View

 

Amazon continues to expand delivery from its Whole Foods grocery stores, announcing new service in 10 cities while broadening delivery areas where it's already operating.

The Seattle company said Wednesday that it's broadening delivery areas in New York and Seattle, and announced the first expansion of free grocery pick-up service to five new cities.

Amazon's entry into the grocery arena has forced traditional stores to expand amenities for customers, or at least speed up plans to do so.

Charges Refiled in Tulsa Murder Case

Sep 26, 2018

 

A first-degree murder charge has been refiled against a Tulsa woman who was previously found incompetent to stand trial.

Court records show prosecutors refiled the charge Tuesday against 27-year-old Michelle Millikin in the 2011 stabbing death of 59-year-old Gary Bailey.

The initial murder charge was filed in 2011 and dismissed in 2013 after Millikin was found unable to attain competency.

Google Street View

 

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has requested a district judge empty the courtroom for testimony on the state Highway Patrol's pursuit policy in a felony murder trial involving a state trooper's death.

The Tulsa World reports that the department's motion argues disclosing the pursuit policy is dangerous because a future suspect could "reasonably deduce" tactical procedures.

The Last Poster Child

 

Pam Henry, who was stricken with polio at the age of 14 months and went on to become the March of Dimes' last national poster child and an Oklahoma City broadcaster, has died.

Close friend and former broadcaster Don Sherry says in a statement that Henry died Tuesday following complications from emergency surgery. She was 68.

Henry rose to national prominence in 1959 as the face of the nation's effort to eradicate polio as the last poster child for the nonprofit fundraiser March of Dimes.

City of Broken Arrow

 

An attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop a Tulsa suburb from adopting new regulations on medical marijuana, like permit fees for dispensaries and restrictions on growing the plant.

The petition filed Tuesday in Tulsa County also alleges that city officials in Broken Arrow violated the state's Open Meeting Act by meeting in groups ahead of a council meeting to develop the new rules.

Telephone messages left on Tuesday with a city spokeswoman were not immediately returned.

In the local news:

  • A new report shows Oklahoma's finances are improving.
  • A lawsuit is filed against Broken Arrow's new medical marijuana ordinance.
  • Sonic is sold for $2.3 Billion.

Advocates with the American Cancer Society are on Capitol Hill this week pushing U.S. lawmakers to increase research funding.

Oklahoma lead ambassador Carrie Mayes said she’s a staunch supporter of research after surviving cancer of her retina.

"The treatment at the time, generally, was just to remove the eye. Because of the research that had been done, we found a fabulous hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that had cutting-edge treatment, and they were able to treat my melanoma and save my eye," Mayes said.

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