Local & Regional

Tulsa Man Accused Of Trying To Steal Firetruck

Aug 2, 2021
Tulsa Fire Department

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has been arrested after being accused of trying to steal a firetruck.

Tulsa police say they were called to a fire station around 3 a.m. on Saturday.

After arriving at the scene, police found a group of Tulsa firefighters holding down a suspect.

Firefighters told police that they found the man after hearing glass break and the sound of the ladder truck’s horn going off.

Police allege the man had started the truck and tried driving through the fire station’s overhead doors before firefighters discovered what he was doing.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission signed off Monday on an updated five-year work plan for county roads and bridges.

State lawmakers created the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges program in 2006 in order to help local governments pay for projects they couldn’t afford on their own. The updated plan covers work through fiscal year 2026.

www.vperemen.com / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

Oklahoma House Democrats are calling for a special session to repeal the law now pre-empting school boards from requiring masks because of COVID-19.

The law requires an emergency declaration from the governor before schools implement a mask mandate. House Minority Leader Emily Virgin said school boards know the most about what’s happening in their communities.

The CDC eviction moratorium protecting renters impacted by COVID ended July 31st. 

 

There may be some additional federal protections on the way, but in the meantime, those seeking legal help can get it at court.

 

Oklahoma Children's Hospital OU Health

Pediatricians at OU Health are backing recommendations for universal masking in the classroom and kids 12 and up being vaccinated against COVID-19, ahead of a back-to-school season taking place against the backdrop of a surge in infections in Oklahoma.

Tulsa Planning Office

Tulsa voter-approved sales tax funding used last year to help organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic are going back to their original purpose: grants supporting arts projects that encourage tourism and economic development.

Vision Arts program funding was repurposed as relief grants last year with many organizations severely limited in what they could offer or shut down entirely. A significant portion of applications’ scores, 30%, will come from their anticipated economic impact.

Tulsa Transit will have a consultant evaluate what it will take for the agency to implement a mobility as a service model and what other transit agencies across the country are doing.

The idea is giving riders more transportation options to plan their trips so they can easily get from their front door to a destination.

Monday's top stories:

• The Oklahoma Republican Party is standing by an offensive Facebook post they made on Friday comparing employers requiring workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 to Nazi atrocities committed against Jews.

• Gov. Kevin Stitt is taking a hands-off approach to the state's low COVID vaccination rate, according to a new Oklahoma Watch report.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Just over four months ago, with the TV cameras running, Gov. Kevin Stitt sat down to get his single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from a state health department nurse.

Oklahoma Republican Party

The Oklahoma Republican Party is refusing to back down from an offensive Facebook post made Friday in which they compared private employers requiring their workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Friday post, which suggested unvaccinated Americans are being treated the same as the Jews murdered during the Holocaust, drew rebukes from Jewish groups and some Republicans, but party officials not only left it online but attempted to use it to raise funds.

Oklahoma and Texas accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference in July 2025 on Friday, worried that their storied athletic programs were in danger of losing ground if they stayed in the Big 12.

A whirlwind week of official moves — after who knows exactly how long the schools worked behind the scenes — came to a conclusion when regents at both Texas and Oklahoma unanimously jumped at the chance to join the SEC.

“After thorough consideration and study it became obvious that standing pat would be falling behind,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said.

Tulsa Transit

New drivers are taking over Tulsa Transit’s Turley Shuttle starting next month.

After the initial operator, Pelivan, asked for an 18% cost increase for its second year running the north Tulsa service, Tulsa Transit turned to another contractor, First Transit. First Transit said it can run the shuttles on their current schedule of every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday through June 2022 for just under $95,000.

While Tulsa Transit will now have to cover vehicles, fuel and maintenance, the combined cost will still be less than Pelivan’s proposal.

On the heels of ransomware attacks hitting a pipeline company, a meatpacker and even the City of Tulsa, the University of Tulsa is expanding its cybersecurity program.

TU announced on Friday a new School of Cyber Studies that will offer a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and a doctorate in cyber studies. The university previously offered an undergraduate minor or a master’s in cybersecurity.

School of Cyber Studies Inaugural Chair Tyler Moore said they’re training students for a field that’s currently short an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 workers.

An emotional scene unfolded at Oaklawn Cemetery today during the city's reinterment of remains excavated during the search for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims. 

 

Kristi Williams is a member of the Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee. She protested the reinterment, and said the remains shouldn’t be buried yet because they haven’t been identified.  

 

COVID Risk Remains Highest Among Unvaccinated Older Adults

Jul 29, 2021
Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Watch

Pediatric hospitalizations due to COVID haven't increased dramatically when compared to other points in the pandemic. 

 

Dr. David Kendrick, CEO of the public health information sharing network MyHealth Access Network that compiles data from the Tulsa Health Department and other organizations, says there have been some exceptional days but we aren’t seeing previous levels now.

 

“Certainly some big days, some occasional big days, not as high as we’ve been in previous times around December and so on in terms of absolute count,” said Kendrick.

 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will put new cruisers on state turnpikes in the coming weeks, but you may not notice them at first. 

"They're going to be specially marked. They're going to be a little different. They're going to be silver — one's [still] going to be solid white, some's still going to be solid black — they're going to be Dodge Chargers, but they're going to be a little sneaky. They're really going to bear down on the texting and driving. That's our hope," OHP Zone Commander Maj. Mike Mize told the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority this week.

A local attorney intimately familiar with the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma pushed back Thursday on Gov. Kevin Stitt and law enforcement officials’ claims the decision has imperiled public safety. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Days after volunteers helped move the last residents out of a condemned apartment complex, the Tulsa City Council announced a new working group to look into potential policy solutions.

Councilor Phil Lakin says the Residential Rental Property Habitability Working Group is not meant to go after the 90% of landlords he believes are doing right by their tenants.

Thursday's top stories:

• The Tulsa Health Department is urging residents get vaccinated as hospitals face significant challenges under the strain of the COVID-19 surge driven by the more contagious Delta variant.

• With the federal moratorium on evictions expiring on Saturday, advocates are scrambling to connect tenants with resources and support to try to prevent a predicted "tsunami" of evictions in Tulsa County and around the nation.

The CDC moratorium on evictions is ending Saturday, July 31st. At a press conference today, Eric Hallett, the coordinator of housing advocacy for Legal Aid Housing Services of Oklahoma, said next week is going to be a busy one in court.

“We have more than 60 cases on the docket Monday, more than 100 on Tuesday. Next week is going to be very hard on tenants in Tulsa. We probably have 300 families facing eviction next week,” said Hallett.

U.S. Department of Defense

The head of the Tulsa Health Department warns local COVID infections are increasing exponentially.

THD Executive Director Dr. Bruce Dart told city councilors on Wednesday new cases roughly doubled every week this month, driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus. While Tulsa County has the state’s third-highest vaccination rate, Dart said it’s still well below what’s needed to suppress the highly contagious variant.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

Gov. Kevin Stitt remains in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, on a week-long trip his office said was meant to strengthen "strategic partnerships" between the nation and the state of Oklahoma.

"I started my day in Azerbaijan with a tour of Baku’s Old City and sampled some local caviar before heading to some very productive meetings with our Oklahoma delegation and our Azerbaijani counterparts. More to come soon!" Stitt tweeted Wednesday. 

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) on Tuesday called for a 20% reduction in proposed spending increases in House Democrats' "minibus" spending package, lambasting what he called several "massive" increases to various federal agencies.

Facebook / Justice For Greenwood Foundation

The legal team representing the three known living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in a lawsuit for reparations for the attack and its ongoing harm said they may bring additional litigation regarding the city of Tulsa's oversight of the search for massacre victims' remains.

Wednesday's top stories:

• Oklahoma health care providers are calling on Gov. Kevin Stitt to declare a public health emergency amid surging COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, but the governor says he has no plans to do so.

• Ascension St. John will require its employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, the first major hospital in Tulsa to announce such a policy.

Ascension St. John

Along with other Ascension facilities in its multistate network, Ascension St. John Medical Center in Tulsa will require its employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, the first major hospital system in Tulsa to do so.

KWGS News file photo

Updated July 28, 11 a.m.

Last week Governor Kevin Stitt announced he had no plans to issue a COVID emergency order, saying Oklahomans should be able to make their own choices.

The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association Dr. Mary Clarke spoke about that idea today at a Healthier Oklahoma press conference. 

Big 12's Texas, Oklahoma, Request To Join Powerhouse SEC

Jul 27, 2021

Texas and Oklahoma made a request Tuesday to join the powerhouse Southeastern Conference, with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey saying the league would consider it in the “near future.”

A day after the Big 12 schools notified the league that they would not be extending an agreement that binds conference members to 2025, the schools publicly stated for the first time they want to join the SEC.

Oklahoma and Texas sent a joint letter to Sankey, requesting “invitations for membership to the Southeastern Conference starting on July 1, 2025.”

Stitt Appoints Tulsa Judge To Oklahoma Supreme Court

Jul 27, 2021
Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday chose a Tulsa woman to fill an Oklahoma Supreme Court vacancy, marking for the first time in decades that most of the nine court members were Republican appointees.

In a statement, Stitt said Judge Dana Kuehn of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals would fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Tom Colbert.

Tulsa Transit

Tulsa Transit is trying to sort out how much of a steep decline in ridership the past fiscal year is due to COVID-19.

According to a survey, 40% of bus riders said their travel needs changed during the pandemic, but 70% expected to be back to their normal routines in a year. That's not bearing out in monthly ridership numbers for FY21, all of which fell below projections and just once topped the same month a year before.

Overall ridership from July 2020 through June 2021 was less than two-thirds what it was the 12 months prior.

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