Local & Regional

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A steep drop in oil prices that sent financial markets plummeting Monday got Oklahoma officials’ attention.

Saudi Arabia is seemingly trying to force Russia into production cuts to keep oil prices up for the long term. Oklahoma Deputy Treasurer for Communications Tim Allen said they're paying attention but can't yet predict how the move will affect Oklahoma.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa city councilors continue to discuss what they can do to increase trust in the police department.

After several meetings following a series of public hearings on the Equality Indicators report, they generally agree any lack of trust comes down to a perceived lack of transparency and accountability. Councilor Kara Joy McKee said those can be tied to a lack of data collected by and available from the department.

David Shankbone-Wikimedia

Tulsa County liquor stores didn’t have to wait long to take advantage of a voter-approved change that lets them do business on Sundays.

Liquor stores were able to open yesterday after voters approved a proposition Tuesday to allow Sunday sales.

The Oklahoma Retail Liquor Association estimates the state has been losing about three liquor stores a month since grocery and conveniences stores started selling beer and wine seven days a week.

Now that Oklahoma has submitted a plan to expand Medicaid to the federal government, lawmakers must figure out how to cover the state’s estimated $150 million share.

Gov. Kevin Stitt favors boosting fees under what’s known as the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program. Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd said there are hundreds of millions of dollars in Oklahoma’s main savings accounts, the rainy day and revenue stabilization funds.

Whitney Bryen-Oklahoma Watch

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — From their keen taste for sun-ripened pot to their first meeting at a pro-marijuana rally in college in the 1990s, everything about Chip and Jessica Baker fits the stereotype of cannabis country in Northern California, where they lived for 20 years.

Tulsa County is still at just one case of COVID-19.

The Tulsa Health Department said tests for pending cases have come back negative. Tulsa County's first case of the illness caused by the coronavirus was announced Friday.

The person with the illness, a man in his 50s who returned to Tulsa from Italy on Feb. 23, developed symptoms Feb. 29 and was tested after contacting his doctor. He has been in isolation at home since then.

Monday's top stories:

  • Tests come back negative for pending cases of COVID-19 in Tulsa County.
  • Oklahoma's medical marijuana business is booming.
  • It's up to state lawmakers to figure out how to pay for Oklahoma's share of Gov. Kevin Stitt's Medicaid expansion proposal. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

A Tulsa County man in his 50s who recently traveled to Italy tested positive for the virus.

"Italy, as you know, is the level 3 travel health notice country and currently has widespread, sustained transmission of COVID-19," said Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart.

Officials said the man returned from Italy through Tulsa International Airport on Feb. 23, then developed symptoms and contacted his doctor Feb. 29.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority on Friday submitted a state plan amendment seeking to expand SoonerCare eligibility.

SoonerCare is Oklahoma's Medicaid plan. The plan would make adults aged 19 to 64 at or below 133% of the federal poverty level eligible for SoonerCare as soon as July 1.

Gov. Kevin Stitt would then work to transition SoonerCare to the new Healthy Adult Opportunity Program, a capped-funding model recently announced by the Trump administration, and to enact restictions like work requirements and monthly premiums -- the plan he has dubbed SoonerCare 2.0.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A convicted killer found dead in his cell at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in November died of a methamphetamine overdose and had a small package of the drug found inside his body, according to a medical examiner’s report.

An autopsy report released on Thursday lists the cause of death for Albert Ray Johnson, 52, as acute intoxication by methamphetamine, The Oklahoman reported. The report also noted heart problems contributed to Johnson’s death and that a pathologist found white powder wrapped in plastic inside the inmate’s rectum.

MOORE, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma high school student who was among three people to survive a hit-and-run that killed three of his friends says his fellow cross-country runners helped save his life.

Joseph White and others with the Moore High School cross-county team were jogging on the sidewalk near campus when a pickup truck hit the six students last month.

“That truck came so fast that we didn’t have time to react,” White, whose girlfriend was among those killed, told KWTV-TV in Oklahoma City.

The Black Wall Street Gallery re-opens Friday in a new, larger space after a six-month hiatus.

It had been closed since last summer after a dispute over rent payments, and it has come back as a for-profit, black-owned business, still in the Greenwood District.

Oklahoma officials are trying to soothe public concerns about the coronavirus.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said he's been in constant contact with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and believes they are ready. Director of Emergency Response Scott Sproat says they’ve gone their range of possible responses in case there’s an outbreak of the virus, no matter large or small.

Matt Trotter / KWGS


Tulsa's Gathering Place started its new shuttle system on Friday.

The free shuttle will transport park visitors back and forth from Williams Lodge to three locations in Downtown Tulsa: Fourth Street and Denver Avenue, Tulsa Community College's Metro Campus, and Boston Avenue United Methodist Church.

Tulsa Transit General Manager Ted Rieck said the shuttle will run through May for now.

Tulsa Police

A man shot by Tulsa police and an apartment complex security guard early Friday has died.

Police say officers were called to a domestic disturbance involving a knife at the Waterstone Apartments around 2:30 a.m.

Police say 42-year-old Jerry Gaghins was still holding the knife when officers arrived and would not follow commands to drop it.

Two officers and a security guard shot Gaghins, who died at the hospital later on Friday.

How many times Gaghins was shot is unknown. The officers are on paid leave as the Tulsa Polic Department reviews the shooting.

Friday's top stories:

  • The Oklahoma Senate passes a bill to allow third-party wrongful death lawsuits against doctors who perform abortions.
  • A jury convicts a former Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate of assault and battery in the July shooting of a process server.
  • The latest proposal to set up an independent police oversight office in Tulsa hits a wall.

Tulsa County Sheriff

A jury found a man guilty Thursday of assault and battery for shooting a process server at his south Tulsa home in July.

Jurors deliberated about an hour and rejected Christopher Barnett’s argument he shot the man trying to serve him with legal documents in self-defense.

During trial, prosecutors presented a Facebook post Barnett made that read, "The best process server is a dead one," and a Google search asking whether he could kill a process server for trespassing.


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two leaders at an Oklahoma-based megachurch have been quarantined after learning they may have been exposed to the new coronavirus at a Germany conference where a scheduled speaker tested positive for the virus.

Rev. Craig Groeschel, Life.Church’s founder, went to speak at the Willow Creek Leadership Congress 2020, along with pastor-innovation leader Rev. Bobby Gruenewald. The leadership conference held in late February drew about 7,400 people.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, 85, a fixture in Oklahoma politics for more than 50 years, announced Thursday that he intends to seek another six-year term in office.

Inhofe told The Associated Press this week that his close relationship with President Donald Trump and his seniority on two key Senate committees are the main reasons he’s running again.

“He (Trump) has done an incredibly great job, and I’m very, very close personally with him, and that upsets a lot of people, but I am, and he does call with regularity,” Inhofe said of the president.

Cherokee Nation

In the midst of a dispute over gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt, Cherokee Nation made its largest-ever disbursement of car tag revenue Thursday to area public school districts.

In all, 108 districts got a total of $6 million. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said that’s in addition to funding that goes toward public education statewide through gaming exclusivity fees.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill on Thursday to let third parties sue doctors who perform abortions for wrongful death.

Senate Bill 1728 would hold doctors liable if they fail to screen a patient for signs of coercion or trick a patient into having an abortion, and Sen. David Bullard gave unverified statistics from anti-abortion groups as evidence doctors are doing the latter in most cases.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Low pay is at the center of Oklahoma’s struggle to keep its prison employees.

Six-year veteran corrections officer Paul Mullaney quit over pay and working conditions just months after lawmakers approved a $2.00 raise for prison employees. He worked in the mental health unit of Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.

The extra money wasn’t enough to keep him.

“It was just crazy. I mean it was just dangerous and … I (had) enough,”

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A city councilor’s proposal to let Tulsans vote on whether to set up a police oversight office hit a wall Wednesday night.

The council voted 5–3 against sending Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper’s proposed charter amendment establishing an Office of the Independent Monitor to city attorneys for review, the first step in getting it on a ballot.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has canceled visitation at six facilities today through Sunday.

The cancellations are related to a statewide lock down put in place Tuesday after a Monday night incident at Mack Alford Correctional Center, a medium-security men's prison in Stringtown.

In addition to Mack Alford, North Fork, Dick Conner, Cimarron, Davis and Lawton correctional centers will not have visitation until at least next week. Cimarron, Davis and Lawton are privately run prisons.

Tulsa County Sheriff

A man charged in the shooting a process server testifies in his own trial.

Christopher Barnett told jurors he regrets shooting the process server at his south Tulsa home last summer but maintained he feared for his life.

Barnett said he embellished his story when he talked to reporters and said things like the process server was trying to break into his house or that the man was reaching for a gun.

Jurors will begin deliberations today. They will be allowed to consider Barnett's attorney's assertion he acted in self-defense.

File photo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man serving a 90-year sentence for participating in the 1993 murder of a Kansas corrections officer is charged in a 55-count federal indictment with running a drug ring from his Oklahoma prison cell.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release Wednesday that 47-year-old Travis Knighten was the brains behind a criminal organization that distributed methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine powder, crack cocaine and marijuana in Wichita. No attorney is listed for Knighten in online court records.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Supporters of a state question to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma deliver a petition to the governor asking him to set an election date.
  • A man charged in the shooting of a process server last summer testifies in his own trial.
  • The Oklahoma House passes a bill to require "In God We Trust" signs at all state buildings.

KWGS News File photo

The Tulsa Port of Catoosa has received a $1.1 million federal grant to improve its rail infrastructure.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. It's funded from $600 million in supplemental disaster relief appropriations for areas hit by floods and tornadoes last year and will go toward upgrading freight train crossings.

River Parks Authority

Work should start soon parts of River Parks affected by flood damage in 2019.

Contracts for repairs have been awarded for three areas. River Parks Authority Executive Director Matt Meyer says they represent $1.1 million in work at the 41st Street Plaza, 57th Street and Riverside, and 68th Street and Riverside.

Together Oklahoma

Advocates for a state question to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma delivered a petition Wednesday to the governor’s office asking for him to put it on the ballot.

Together Oklahoma, the grassroots advocacy arm of Oklahoma Policy Institute, followed that up with a series of meetings with lawmakers at the capitol.