Local & Regional

Wednesday's top stories:

  • College football programs in Oklahoma are choosing to keep their COVID-19 numbers under wraps, even as outbreaks disrupt play.
  • The two men charged in connection with the June shooting of two Tulsa police officers appeared in court Tuesday, and their defense attorneys are at odds over whether body camera footage of the incident should be made public.

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I-44 and U.S. 75 in Tulsa are officially in line for an overhaul.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission awarded a construction contract for the replacement of five bridges and widening of I-44 from the western bank of the Arkansas River to Union Avenue.

"That contract is a major improvement at Interstate 44 and the U.S. 75 interchange in Tulsa. Contract is about a $90 million contract," said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz.

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While COVID-19 is already affecting college football season in Oklahoma, fans shouldn’t expect to know details.

TU and OSU postponed their season opener a week, moving it from Saturday to Sept. 19. Head coach Philip Montgomery said the Golden Hurricane needs another week of preparation after getting in just seven practices during a 17-day preseason camp because of multiple positive tests.

But he wouldn’t say during a Tuesday news conference how many cases the team is currently dealing with.

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Attorneys continue to argue over whether video from the shooting of two Tulsa police officers should be released to the public.

David Ware and Matthew Hall appeared in court together for the first time Tuesday. Judge William Musseman said he will watch the footage and likely agree with prosecutors it is graphic and disturbing, but he also framed its release as when, not if, and plans to announce a decision Thursday.

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On Aug. 3rd, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced $15 million in federal coronavirus relief funding would go toward the establishment of 30 HOPE Centers, meant to provide services like meals, mental health care, counseling,  internet access and more for kids and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now, the state says they're planning for more.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa dogs may be getting more room to roam off-leash.

The city's park and recreation board heard and approved a proposal earlier this month to explore turning Gunboat Park North, near 11th and Elgin, into Tulsa's third off-leash dog run.

"For a city of our size, we're actually underserviced on dog parks," said Thomas Carlson of Carlson Development Group, the real estate firm championing the project near their offices located on Gunboat Park.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 833 cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 65,053.

The state health department is transitioning to a new reporting system that will combine confirmed coronavirus infections with "probable" ones in case counts. Probable cases are indicated by positive antigen tests, and the state previously required a PCR test to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis before counting them.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • A woman incarcerated at Eddie Warrion Correctional Facility, where more than 700 women have contracted COVID-19, has died after being hospitalized for symptoms of the virus.
  • Tuesday is the first day of new policies and processes in the state of Oklahoma's reporting of COVID-19 cases, likely to increase daily counts.

Cherokee Nation

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. reflected on a year of difficulties and triumphs in his State of the Nation address.

A recorded speech was made available at noon Saturday during the Cherokee National Holiday. The 68th version of the annual event was held virtually because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus, of course, has been the tribe’s primary challenge in 2020. Cherokee Nation has more than 1,500 cases, and 17 citizens have died. Hoskin said he is proud of their response.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council will consider adopting a hate crime ordinance with protections for sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

State law covers crimes motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability.

The ordinance was proposed by Councilor Crista Patrick. She said as isolating as the past several months have been for many Tulsans, it would be good for everyone to hear that they are safe.

"I think that it’s important that all of our residents hear from us, the city leaders, that we are standing against hate," Patrick said.

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A woman incarcerated at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Muskogee County, where more than 700 women have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, has died after being hospitalized with "symptoms associated with COVID-19."

"Due to several health issues, the medical examiner’s office will review all underlying medical facts and conditions to determine if COVID-19 was a significant factor in her death," according to a statement from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two people have been arrested in Texas for the June shooting death of a Texas man whose body was found in southern Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Shannon Mayorga, 20, was arrested Friday on a first-degree murder warrant, a day after Randall Rudd, 23, was arrested on the same warrant in the June slaying of Juan Manuel Rosas, 43, of Denton, Texas, the OSBI said Friday.

Rental Realities

This story was supported by grants from the Pulitzer Center, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Park Foundation. It was a collaboration by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland, Big Local News at Stanford University, the University of Arkansas and Boston University.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, designed to stem evictions amid the pandemic fell flat when lawyers advised landlords the deal offering to pay owed rent was too risky.

University of Tulsa Football

Oklahoma State’s season-opening game at home against Tulsa has been pushed back a week, with the opposing Golden Hurricane still recovering from multiple players testing positive for COVID-19.

The game, which was supposed to be played Saturday, was rescheduled for Sept. 19.

Alan Lebeda, licensed under GFDL 1.2.

CHESTER, Ark. (AP) — Four members of a family from Oklahoma were killed when their single-engine plane crashed into a ravine in rural northwest Arkansas, authorities said.

Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown said the plane crashed Friday evening and was found the following morning.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Overall collections to the state treasury last month were nearly 5% below collections from August 2019, driven mostly by a slump in oil and gas prices, Oklahoma Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Friday.

The decline in August marked the fifth month since February that total receipts were lower than those from the same month in the prior year, McDaniel reported.

Owasso Public Schools is the latest district to pull the plug on distance learning ahead of schedule.

The district announced Friday students will return to the classroom Sept. 17.

Officials decided last month to start the year with at-home learning until Tulsa County spent two consecutive weeks at yellow or green on a color-coded alert system. That has not happened yet.

Oklahoma is changing the way it calculates coronavirus data.

State officials announced several changes to Oklahoma’s coronavirus data policies on Friday.

Health officials have always tracked results from the tests known as antigen or rapid tests. But those tests were considered less reliable than the standard PCR tests, the nose swab. Positive antigen tests have not been included in total cases.

Officials said Friday those tests have improved, and daily cases will include antigen positives starting next week.

A new study in the Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association looked at disparities among racial and ethnic lines in Oklahoma's COVID-19 patients over 12 weeks, from April through July.

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Hundreds more women incarcerated at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft have tested positive for COVID-19 since the state initially reported a major outbreak there last week.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said that, as of noon on Thursday, 721 women had active cases of the disesase caused by the novel coronavirus, with three hospitalized. The facility houses around 900. Eddie Warrior is a minimum-security facility, with open dormitory-style housing units.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Friday 1,013 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 62,040.

The state has 9,071 active cases of COVID-19, 326 more than the day before. It's the first time the state has had more than 9,000 active cases, and the milestone comes after the state broke 8,000 for just the second time on Saturday.

Tulsa County had 181 of Friday's cases. Its total now stands at 13,923, tied with Oklahoma County for most in the state.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

A grand jury returned a misdemeanor indictment against a Tulsa Police Department officer in connection with his shooting of a man during an altercation with a suspect in March.

According to a statement from Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, the referral to present the case against Ofc. Aaron Russell to Oklahoma's Multicounty Grand Jury came after discussions with TPD Chief Wendell Franklin and the department's detective division.

Friday's top stories:

  • University of Oklahoma students are accusing the administration of valuing profits over students' lives in their reopening plan.
  • A new study in the journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association finds non-white Oklahomans are being disproportionately sickened by COVID-19.

University of Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — More than a dozen students gathered outside the University of Oklahoma’s administration building Thursday to protest what they say is an inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students are violating the university and the city of Norman’s mask mandates at bars, restaurants and at fraternity and sorority functions, OU student Kellie Dick, a senior from Shawnee, told The Associated Press.

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The City of Tulsa has made few tweaks to an incentive program credited with landing several big employers.

The Economic Development Infrastructure Fund gets money from voter-approved sales tax measures. It’s used to pay for public improvements like roads and water lines companies want at new sites.

The new requirements say companies must offer basic health insurance and paid time off to qualify, and they must pay at least Tulsa County’s prevailing average wage from the prior year. That’s $51,945.

The City of Tulsa has made it easier for restaurants to set up outdoor dining spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New ordinances will let them apply for a temporary sidewalk café or parklet permit through a simplified self-certification process. Downtown Coordinating Council Assistant Director Maggie Hoey said the goal is helping restaurants hurt by the pandemic bring back customers who are still leery of indoor settings.

The man charged with murder in the shooting death of a Tulsa Police sergeant and wounding of an officer will go to trial, but a judge has acknowledged there are inconsistencies between how police have described the encounter and what body cameras captured.

"We’re very happy that the judge said on the record that she’d seen the video and that there are contradictions between that arrest and book affidavit and what the video shows," said attorney Kevin Adams.

The Tulsa Housing Authority has extended the deadline to apply for emergency rental assistance to Sept. 30.

THA said since applications opened Aug. 24, more than 2,000 have come in, requesting almost $3 million in assistance.

Matt Trotter / KWGS News

City of Tulsa officials say that people experiencing homelessness who have set up encampments on West Archer Street will not be pushed to move until the opening of an emergency shelter in the former Juvenile Detention Center on Gilcrease Museum Road scheduled for next week.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Thursday 909 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 61,027.

Tulsa County had 185 of Thursday's reported cases. Its total now stands at 11,742, second-highest in the state and just 49 cases fewer than Oklahoma County.

The health department reported 14 deaths, with two in the past 24 hours. One death was a man between 50 and 64 years old in Johnston County. The other 13 were adults 65 or older. Since March 18, COVID-19 has officially killed 835 Oklahomans.

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