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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Education advocates in Oklahoma are fighting to keep four-day school weeks as the state school board proposes new restrictions that could threaten the shortened schedules.

Supporters of the shortened weeks said the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s rules would force most districts to restore five-day schedules, The Oklahoman reported. Of Oklahoma’s 525 public school districts, 113 operate four days a week.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The "beta test" of Tulsa’s Aero bus rapid transit service is over.

Tulsa Transit and the City of Tulsa officially launched Aero on Thursday with a ribbon cutting in front of McLain High School. Tulsa Transit Board Chair Emily Hutton said Aero is proving popular.

"During this first month, we’ve had 50,000 riders on the Aero. Think about that — 50,000 riders. Many of these riders have never ridden Tulsa Transit before," Hutton said.

Wikimedia

In the past week in Oklahoma, two more people have died from flu and more than 40 have been hospitalized. We’re just now moving into peak flu season, and the Tulsa County Health Department’s Leanne Stephens says it’s not too late to get a shot. They’re offered at the Department’s clinics, pharmacies, through many employers, and at your doctor’s office.

So far this season in Oklahoma, six people have died and 213 have been hospitalized. Tulsa County leads with two deaths and 60 hospitalizations. All the fatalities have been in the population group age 50 and older. 

House of Representatives

Oklahoma’s U.S. House delegation followed their parties on last night’s impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Republican Reps. Tome Cole, Kevin Hern, Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin voted against both articles, while Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn voted for them.

On the House floor, Cole bashed the entire process.

KWGS File photo

Gov. Kevin Stitt followed up Wednesday on his call for tribes in Oklahoma to sign an extension of gaming compacts, setting an end date for it of Aug. 31, 2020.

Stitt said Tuesday the state and tribes need more time to renegotiate the agreements, but he did not have an expiration date for the proposed extension then.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and the nonprofit Crime Prevention Network will hold a series of town halls next month to get public feedback in the search for a new chief of police.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan is retiring Feb. 1, 2020. The forums will allow for public feedback on how Tulsans want the search to go and what they want to see in Tulsa's next police chief.

Thursday's headlines:

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's proposed gaming compact extension would run through August 2020.
  • After receiving a letter from elected officials, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announces town halls for police chief search.
  • Tulsa Public Schools support employees are getting raises.

State and local officials sent a letter this week calling on Mayor G.T. Bynum to include the community in his search for Tulsa’s next chief of police.

Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, state Senator Kevin Matthews, and state Reps. Monroe Nichols and Regina Goodwin signed the letter.

"There should be citizen input as it relates to the police chief, specifically black citizen input, being that we are among those most impacted when it comes to use of force and when it comes to arrests," said Goodwin, who represents a large swath of north Tulsa and downtown.

After back-to-back years of teacher pay raises, Tulsa Public Schools support staff are getting a bump in pay.

The TPS Board approved this week an agreement for a  30-cent raise between the district and the local union representing those 2,600 workers.

"The 30 cents per hour increase will be applied to the employee’s base salary only … and employees above the adjusted salary range maximum will receive 50% of the increased amount," said TPS Board President Shawna Keller.

The raises will be implemented this month, with back pay coming after the holidays.

Tulsa Police

A 29-year-old man has died after he was shot by Tulsa police early Wednesday morning at a QuikTrip.

Police say the man, identified  as Tyler Hall,  came into the QuikTrip at 23rd Street and Southwest Boulevard around 2:20 a.m. and pulled a gun on the store's armed security guard.

Police say Hall did not comply with officers' commands when they arrived, and he was shot by multiple officers.

Hall was reportedly alert and speaking to officers and paramedics when he was taken to the hospital. He died at the hospital later in the morning.

Jenks Police

JENKS, Okla. (AP) — Police in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks are trying to determine why a 36-year-old man fatally shot his 8-year-old and 10-year-old sons before killing himself, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

“Now we’re deeply involved in trying to determine a motive,” police spokesman Sgt. Eric Bowdle said.

Police said Thang Khen gathered his four children in the garage of their home Saturday afternoon and fatally shot 8-year-old Peter Khen and 10-year-old Samuel Pau. Police said a 9-year-old fled into the house and an infant was unharmed.

Wednesday's headlines:

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt urges tribes to sign extensions to gaming compacts he says expire Jan. 1.
  • Attorney General Mike Hunter pulls out of compact negotiations.
  • American Airlines will bring more work to its Tulsa maintenance base to start 2020.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma man is just days away from walking out of prison after a federal judge decided he has spent 35 years in prison for a kidnapping and murder that evidence indicates he likely didn’t commit, and yet his freedom could be short-lived.

American Airlines

American Airlines expects to add about 30 jobs at its Tulsa maintenance base to start 2020.

Brake and wheel repairs currently done by an outside vendor will be done in the maintenance base brake and wheel center starting Jan. 1. That will mean about 30 new jobs.

"It’s going to add about 41,000 man hours to the work that the team at the brake and wheel center’s already doing," American Airlines spokeswoman Linda Brock said about the work coming into Tulsa.

KWGS News File photo

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt remains entrenched in his position tribal gaming compacts expire Jan. 1, but on Tuesday, he called on tribes to sign an extension to the agreements.

"We do not want gaming to be illegal, and we do not want vendors to be operating illegally. The only way to ensure that this is the case is for the state and tribal leaders to agree to an extension," Stitt said duing a news conference.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has ended his involvement in Gov. Kevin Stitt's ongoing attempts to renegotiate gaming compacts with tribes in the state.

Hunter sent Stitt a brief letter on Monday informing the governor he was withdrawing.

"Pursuant to our recent conversations, I am withdrawing from further participation in the tribal gaing compact negotiations. I look forward to and a committed to working with you in the future on any and all matters within my purview as chief legal officer of the State of Oklahoma," the letter reads in full.

U.S. House

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, the lone Democrat in Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, announced Tuesday she is prepared to support articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“It is with a heavy heart, but with a clarity of conviction that I have made my decision,” Horn said in a statement. “The oath I took to protect and defend the Constitution requires a vote for impeachment.

“Inviting foreign interference in our elections strikes at the heart of our democracy, threatens our national security and is an abuse of power.”

Juni

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said Monday it has substantiated an allegation of child sexual abuse against another priest.

The archdiocese said in a news release that Father Papa-Rao Pasala admitted to “inappropriate though not-yet criminal advances” with a 17-year-old in 2001 when he was assigned to a church in Edmond for one month before returning to his native India.

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The former finance director of a public housing authority in Washington state stole nearly $7 million from the agency, auditors said in a report issued Monday.

It’s believed to be the largest theft ever from a public agency in the state, KNKX-FM reported.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A judge didn’t order Johnson & Johnson to pay enough when he said the company must pay $465 million to address Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, the state said in an appeal filed Monday.

Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office argues the award is only enough to pay for one year of the state’s abatement plan. During last summer’s trial, state experts testified it would cost about $17.5 billion over 30 years to abate the state’s opioid crisis. Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson have said that figure is wildly inflated.

File Photo

Researchers looking for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre identified two areas of interest in a report presented Monday night to a citizen oversight committee.

Tuesday's headlines:

  • Researchers looking for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre identify two areas of interest.
  • A newly filed initiative petition would legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma.
  • Tulsa County rejects a proposed medical marijuana dispensary on traffic safety grounds.

Wikimedia

Tulsa County Commissioners kill a zoning request for a medical marijuana dispensary. The owner sought a change to allow a dispensary on the corner of West 51st and Skyline Road, but Commissioners unanimously declined. John Fothergill represents the Commission on the planning board. He says the kind of business proposed isn’t the reason for the ‘no’.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Marian Anderson Elementary students are set to read over winter break.

Tulsa’s chapter of the Association for Women in Communications brought enough free books on Monday for each child to take one home for keeps.

"The more we empower children with words, they can communicate better to society and make sure that they are doing all they can to create their own world through words and communication," said AWC Tulsa President Jillian Shillaci.

Jennifer Martin

A pair of Oklahoma City residents has filed an initiative petition to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

State Question 806 would legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and older. They would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or eight grams of a concentrate, either alone or in an infused product.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Archaeologists report their findings tonight to the committee charged with overseeing a search for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

Searches were conducted at Oaklawn Cemetery and Newblock Park.

"I think the first step is to try to figure out if anything is going to be excavated, also whether or not there are going to be victims or not. I mean, there's going to be people who have nothing to do with the massacre buried," said Scott Hammerstedt with the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey in October.

Jenks Police

JENKS, Okla. (AP) — Police in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks said Saturday that two juveniles and one man are dead after a shooting at a home on the city’s west side.

Police Maj. Melissa Brown said the three were found about 1 p.m. inside the home by officers responding to a domestic disturbance call. Brown said another person in the home had called officers and that it appears one of the three dead killed the other two, then killed him or herself.

No names or ages were immediately released.

file

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Tourism Matt Pinnell will ask lawmakers for a bigger marketing budget.

Pinnell told OETA the state can’t afford to advertise to enough tourists with that budget and can't reach international markets like China and Japan at all. The tourism marketing budget is capped at $5.7 million a year.

Flaherty and Collins

The City of Tulsa is looking for some help to get a large-scale, mixed-use project started across from the downtown Performing Arts Center.

The city council has been asked to sign off on the city applying to the state commerce department for up to $12 million to help reimburse the developer of a project slated for the PAC parking lot at Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue.

Economic development specialist Spencer Mitchell said the request will supplement what’s captured in city sales tax from a special taxing district set up around the proposed development.

Tulsa’s emergency medical service, EMSA, is rolling out two new trucks soon.

They aren’t ambulances with a fun paint job, however. They’ll be specialized trucks that can transport people to and from facilities where they must be on an advanced life support machine referred to as ECMO. 

"It’s like bypass. Your heart’s not beating, they’ll run you through a machine that oxygenates your blood, cleans it out and then sends it back into you from a facility while they transport to another facility," said EMSA President Jim Winham.

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