Local & Regional

Facebook / Cowboy Gatherin' Church

A pastor in Inola has been arrested following allegations of sexual assault by three children.

Roy Shoop, 55, pastor of the Cowboy Gatherin' Church, was taken into custody by Rogers County Sheriff's deputies Wednesday. 

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said his investigation began with an allegation sent to his office by the Mayes County Sheriff's Office, and eventually uncovered three children claiming that Shoop molested or raped them in his home. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health on Thursday reported 148 new cases of COVID-19 and five new deaths.

The jump in cases was the second-largest single-day increase this month behind 151 new cases reported May 16. Oklahoma now has 5,680 confirmed cases of the illness.

The five deaths reported Thursday included five adults 65 or older and one one man between 50 and 64 years old. One death was in the past 24 hours; the rest happened between May 14 and Tuesday.

Facebook / Catoosa Public Schools

Catoosa High School seniors will be some of the first Tulsa-area students to be graduating via a traditional, in-person commencement ceremony since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to the school community sent on Wednesday, Catoosa High Principal Josh Brown confirmed that the ceremony would take place at the school's football stadium on Thursday evening (or this weekend, if weather forces a postponement). 

Thursday's top stories:

  • Tulsa is reportedly a finalist for a 10,000-job factory for automaker Tesla. The city is rolling out all the stops to attract CEO Elon Musk.
  • Governor Kevin Stitt says local governments will be able to apply for $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus aid beginning on June 1st.
  • 299 Oklahomans are now confirmed to have died of COVID-19, with 5,532 known cases.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma cities and counties can apply for federal coronavirus relief funds through an online portal starting June 1.

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that will be the method for them to be reimbursed for eligible COVID-19 expenses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which Oklahoma received $1.2 billion from.

Tulsa is going wild for Tesla.

The city is reportedly competing with Austin, Texas, for the company’s new factory and 10,000 jobs, and its thirst was on full display Wednesday, as stadium video screens lit up with the Tesla logo, Tesla cars paraded through the city and officials unveiled what many had already seen: the 75-foot-tall Golden Driller with a red Tesla "T" emblazoned on his chest, a Tesla belt buckle and a mask of Elon Musk’s face plastered over his typically undefined features.

Salvation Army Tulsa will open its summer camps June 1, prioritizing spots for essential workers and past clients.

Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa Executive Director Richard White said with several other organizations deciding not to hold camps amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they know there’s a growing need for child care with school out and Oklahoma reopening.

Tulsa's tourist industry is hoping a major event recently booked for Expo Square in July could be the start of the economy's revivial. 

The week-long National Junior Angus Show will bring thousands of visitors and $2.5 million to Tulsa, according to Ray Hoyt, president of Tulsa Regional Tourism.

"We're excited about the whole opportunity to kickstart the tourism aspect of what's going on in the community," Hoyt said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Responding to complaints from Oklahomans across the state who say they're struggling to receive unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic, a state cabinet secretary said Tuesday that many issues and delays are being caused by the applicants themselves.

"The biggest issue that we've seen that's causing people to get - either they get paid one week and then it stalls, or they stall completely, are inconsistencies or incomplete information," said David Ostrowe, Governor Kevin Stitt's Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration. 

Department of Defense

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Wednesday five new deaths from COVID-19 and 43 new confirmed cases of the illness.

The deaths occurred between April 22 and Monday, with two in Tulsa County, two in Oklahoma County and one in Cleveland County. All were adults 65 or older.

Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland counties lead the state in COVID-19 deaths with 51, 39 and 37. Since March 18, 299 Oklahomans have died.

The health department reported 43 new coronavirus infections, bringing the state's total to 5,532.

Norman Police

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma police officer is under investigation after responding to a departmental email about coronavirus protective masks that were issued by sending images of people with white bags over their faces carrying torches, reminiscent of lynchings of blacks by the Ku Klux Klan, his police chief said Tuesday.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • At least 116 people, both inmates and staff, have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Comanche County Detention Center.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health now reports 5,498 cases of COVID-19 across the state. 294 Oklahomans have died.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt has vetoed a bill that would have cut the state's affordable housing tax credit. 
  • Stitt signed a bill to prevent guns from being confiscated by those deemed a danger to themselves and others.

Oklahoma Governor's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law on Tuesday legislation to prevent local municipalities from implementing so-called red flag laws.

Such laws allow judges to order the confiscation of firearms when a person may be a danger to themselves or others.

JailExchange.com

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State corrections officials are helping a southern Oklahoma county battle an outbreak of COVID-19 in the county’s jail, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said Tuesday.

In a statement, department officials said 12 of their security experts have been dispatched to the Comanche County Detention Center in Lawton to help the county grapple with its outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority earlier this month closed on a $120 million federal loan to help with construction of the Gilcrease Expressway in west Tulsa.

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, loan will be used to pay off private, short-term financing being put up for the project in a few years time.

Oklahomans will likely vote this fall on reducing the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s share of annual payments under the state’s master settlement agreement.

A resolution passed by the state legislature would cut TSET's share from 75% to 25%. Lawmakers are looking to use a chunk of the roughly $75 million a year for the state’s share of Medicaid expansion costs.

Oklahoma’s affordable housing tax credit will not be touched going into next fiscal year.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has vetoed House Bill 2760, which would have cut its annual cap from $4 million to $2 million.

Mental Health Association Oklahoma Chief Housing Officer Greg Shinn said Stitt’s veto message correctly noted cutting the incentive would not provide more money for the state budget until fiscal year 2023.

Instagram / @TulsaTriumphs2021

A free webinar series beginning Wednesday aims to help Oklahoma teachers craft curricula and lesson plans for effectively teaching the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Dr. Karlos Hill, chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the head of the Tulsa Race Massacre Institute, said that while the pandemic dashed plans for a third-annual, in-person program in Tulsa's Greenwood District, the limitation of moving programming online may also be an opportunity.

Sperry Police Department

A 17-year veteran of the Tulsa Fire Department has been arrested in connection with two bank robberies.

Police in Skiatook said they arrested Jerry Ray Brown Monday evening on charges of second degree robbery and possession of stolen property. They allege that he was the suspect in a March 12th robbery at the Oklahoma Capitol Bank in that city.

Sperry police say they suspect Brown of also being the culprit in the robbery of an Exchange Bank branch there on May 7th, and that they will pursue separate charges.

NIAID-RML

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 91 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 5,489.

The illness has now killed 294 Oklahomans after six additional deaths were confirmed Tuesday. All were adults age 65 or older who died between May 4 and Sunday.

Since the outbreak started, 897 people have been hospitalized, with 167 currently in the hospital.

Tuesday's News Update From KWGS

May 19, 2020

Tuesday's top stories:

  • Oklahomans frustrated by problems with the state unemployment system rallied outside the Capitol on Monday.
  • An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Comanche County Jail has infected more than 100 people.
  • 5,398 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Oklahoma, with 288 confirmed deaths.

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Dozens of people rallied at the state Capitol on Monday, complaining that their state unemployment claims aren’t being processed.

Most of those who gathered on the Capitol’s south steps were self-employed and complained of glitches with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission’s website, waiting on hold for hours to talk to an agent and not getting promised call backs.

Most City of Tulsa residents can expect to see their utility bills go up $1.03 if the city council approves a proposed 3% sewer rate increase.

No water rate increase is being proposed for next fiscal year — or for most of the next five years.

"For the next five years, it’s 0% for the next two, a 1% rate increase in fiscal year 23 and then back to 0% for the following two years," said Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority Operations Administrative Manager Eric Lee.

File photo

If you’ve enjoyed buying beer, wine or spirits and picking them up curbside or having them delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic, that may become a permanent perk under state law.

Hound Labs

State lawmakers want Oklahoma to be among the first in the U.S. to implement a marijuana breathalyzer test.

Through a spending bill, they're directing the Department of Public Safety to spend $300,000 on testing units made by Oakland, California–based Hound Labs, which are expected to be available late this year.

C-SPAN

Seeking to mark out a middle ground between unmitigated spread of the coronavirus and an overzealous public health response, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said he believes that measures like social distancing and wearing masks have been effective across the country because of—not despite—their being optional.

www.fallscreek.org

Saying they couldn't safely host their typical 50,000+ campers safely amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Oklahoma Baptists announced Monday that their Falls Creek Youth Camp would be canceled for the 2020 summer season.

"With a heavy heart, and after extensive consultation with pastors, lay leaders and information from public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel," said Hance Dilbeck, Oklahoma Baptists' executive director-treasurer, in a statement.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 88 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the state's total number of cases to 5,398.

No new deaths were reported Monday.

The health department reported 25 additional patients as having recovered from the illness, meaning they did not die, are not currently hospitalized and it has been at least 14 days since they tested positive for the illness. Symptoms, however, can reportedly linger for several weeks.

Monday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma is one of the states the U.S. Secret Service says has been targeted by an international criminal ring targeting state unemployment systems.
  • The state legislature adjourned on Friday, but stands ready to be summoned back to override any vetoes by Governor Kevin Stitt.
  • Oklahoma has now surpassed 5,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Pixabay

Oklahoma may be among the targets of a Nigerian crime ring perpetrating 'massive' unemployment fraud against U.S. state programs.

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