Tulsa County

Oklahoma State University

Tulsa County Commissioners on Monday approved their biggest allocation of American Rescue Plan funding to date: $4 million for the expansion of OSU Medical Center.

The medical center received $120 million from Congress for a new veterans hospital, and the City of Tulsa and private donors have given money to OSU for what’s billed as the biggest downtown development in decades. Board of County Commissioners Chair Stan Sallee said OSU has also been in talks to double the capacity of the psychiatric hospital.

Preliminary figures show property values in Tulsa County are up 3.5% from last year, despite worries about the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tulsa County Assessor John Wright said commercial property accounts for about one-third of countywide valuation, and businesses in all sectors were taking a hit from decreased hours or total closures. 

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.

Department of Tourism

Tulsa Regional Tourism has been approved for $75,000 in virus relief funding from the American Rescue Plan for a media buy to promote the area to travelers.

Tulsa County commissioners approved the expenditure last week. It will go toward an episode of CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg’s "Travel Detective" show, which airs on PBS and select streaming platforms, along with related assets Tulsa Regional Tourism can use later.

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Local leaders are not leaving it to chance when it comes to landing new nonstop flights from Tulsa International Airport.

County Commissioner Karen Keith

With earmarks reinstated in the congressional budgeting process, Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe has requested $13.8 million to push ahead improvements for Tulsa’s levee system.

Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended up to $200 million in work on the levees. The money Inhofe requested will expedite engineering and design work for the first phase of construction.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Monday announced funding allocations from President Biden and Congressional Democrats' American Rescue Plan for states, cities, and counties

Youtube / Patriot News Network

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado on Monday defended his participation in a convention rife with conspiracy theorists held Friday and Saturday in Broken Arrow.

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Tulsa County officials are starting to plan for the distribution of funding coming from the $1.9 trillion virus relief package President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.

Board of County Commissioners Chairman Stan Sallee is overseeing Tulsa County's spending of the new aid. He said key differences between this package and 2020’s CARES Act are Tulsa County’s $126 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be delivered in two tranches over two years and proposed spending must be submitted to the federal government first.

The Board of Tulsa County Commissioners is formally opposed to legislation that would give the state more power over the Tulsa Health Department.

The board unanimously passed a resolution Monday saying they are against House Bill 2504, which would make changes like banning THD from adopting regulations more stringent than the state health department and involving the state health commissioner in hiring local directors.

Another round of emergency rental assistance is available for Tulsa County residents.

The City of Tulsa and Tulsa County have chosen Restore Hope Ministries to administer a combined $19.6 million in federal aid from the relief package signed into law by President Donald Trump in late December to people in danger of eviction because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Director Jeff Jaynes said the need remains deep.

Freezing temperatures didn't stop thousands of Green Country residents from voting in local elections on Tuesday.

In Tulsa County, John Fothergill was elected treasurer over Francis Hart III with 71% of the vote. Fothergill has been Tulsa County treasurer on an acting basis since Dennis Semler's retirement in September after 25 years in the position.

Races for the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals start tonight at the River Spirit Expo Center at Expo Square.

The midget car event attracts racers and thousands of fans from across the U.S., but this year, it’s being held amid a global pandemic in which thousands of Oklahomans are falling ill and hundreds are dying every week.

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said founder Emmett Hahn has committed to holding the event as safely as possible.

KWGS File Photo

All in-person proceedings at the Tulsa County District Court will be suspended from Dec. 8 through Jan. 11 because of rising COVID-19 case numbers.

Jury trials will be suspended until Feb. 1. A November administrative order had suspended them until Jan. 11.

Court proceedings involving defendants in custody will continue to be done via videoconferencing.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Tulsa County District Court Presiding Judge William LaFortune has ordered the suspension of jury trials and some other court activity due to rising COVID-19 rates.

"Due to an increase in Covid-19 infections in Tulsa County and surrounding areas, the following modifications will be instituted," LaFortune wrote in a Nov. 18 internal memo obtained by Public Radio Tulsa.

The memo lists jury trials and preliminary issue hearings as suspended from Nov. 25 until Jan. 11 of next year.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Voting access proponents staged a press conference Tuesday, saying Tulsa County and the Tulsa County Election Board aren't doing enough to communicate that early voting will take place over three days at ONEOK Field this year due to COVID-19, instead of the traditional early voting locations at the Hardesty Regional Library and the Election Board building on North Denver.

Tulsa County has approved $1.4 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for the nonprofit Opportunity Project to offer no-cost or low-cost child care.

County spokesperson Devin Egan said officials have heard the need for that right now is great.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The latest tenant of the Cherokee Industrial Park has opened its doors.

Milo’s Tea has a 108,000-square foot production and distribution center there now. It’s the beverage maker’s first location outside its home state of Alabama.

It’s served by Tulsa’s municipal water supply, and the company famously took a tanker truck full back to Bessemer, Alabama, to test its quality in their products. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he’s been asked why he’s so big on the Milo’s facility, which is in Owasso and is bringing 110 jobs there.

KWGS News File Photo

Tulsa County early, in-person voting for the November election will take place at ONEOK Field.

The Tulsa County Election Board said it’s a large, centrally located venue with adequate room to accommodate large crowds with social distancing outdoors. It also has several nearby parking areas and can be reached by public transportation.

Early voting will be Thursday, Oct. 29, and Friday, Oct. 30, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Voters will be encouraged to wear a mask.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

One day after Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, called for all municipalities in Tulsa County to introduce a mask mandate similar to the city of Tulsa's to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials in some of those cities and towns showed no indication they plan to take the guidance.

"We have discussed it, and the Bixby council is not willing to pass a mask mandate at this time," said Bixby Mayor Brian Guthrie. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The 2020 Tulsa State Fair has been canceled.

The Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority pulled the plug Tuesday afternoon on midway rides and attractions, concerts, the rodeo, and Disney On Ice.

"I just can’t imagine that we can get people together on that midway and do it safely. I mean, you could see from other fairs, like the Springfield fair, nobody’s wearing their masks and they’re clustered together, because we’re social beings and it’s just a fun thing to do," said County Commissioner Karen Keith, who chairs the facilities authority.

Tulsa County Commissioners approved on Monday an initial $3 million for local housing assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tulsa Housing Authority will administer the program, which should start late next month. THA President and CEO Aaron Darden said funds will be available to Tulsa County residents who are having trouble paying their rent or mortgage because of the pandemic, hopefully helping them stave off eviction.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler and United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Trent Shores both cited the recent Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma in announcing action in two separate cases, some of the first legal maneuvers navigating what Shores' office calls their "new responsibilities."

Oklahoma Watch

Some of Tulsa County’s $114 million in federal coronavirus relief funds may go toward getting personal protective equipment to area school districts before students and teachers potentially return to classrooms next month.

"We think that it’s of vital importance to make sure that we’re allowing for them to have to proper equipment they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 heading into the fall," said Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Joe Kralicek.

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Tulsa County District Court announced Monday that it will resume issuing summonses for jury duty, and that it will do its best to reduce jurors' risk of exposure to COVID-19.

In a press release, the court said that jury duty remains "a legal obligation as well as a civic duty."

"Local and county officials are taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for those that visit the Tulsa County Courthouse," the statement reads. "However, no one can guarantee an environment without any risk of exposure."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 64 new cases of COVID-19 in Tulsa County on Thursday, the county's second-highest one-day increase during the outbreak.

Tulsa County now has 1,372 total cases.

Thursday's jump in cases follows Tulsa County posting its largest single-day increase on Tuesday with 65 new cases and what's now its third-largest increase on Wednesday with 47.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 65 new COVID-19 cases in Tulsa County on Tuesday, the county's biggest one-day increase during the state's now three-month outbreak.

Tulsa County now has 1,261 confirmed cases of COVID-19, second most in the state behind Oklahoma County's 1,404. Tulsa County's previous one-day high in new cases was 45 on April 3 and April 29.

On Friday, the Tulsa Health Department offered free COVID-19 testing at a food distribution event in north Tulsa. They quickly reached capacity there. Fewer tests are processed over the weekends.

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The Tulsa Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution on Monday to let county employees take up to three days of paid leave to be poll workers through the 2020 election cycle.

County Commissioner Karen Keith said with the COVID-19 pandemic, Tulsa’s go-to population of poll workers may be sitting this one out.

"Most of our poll workers are elderly. So, we need some 800 poll workers to man the polls for the June election. We’ve got three elections coming up, including the November election, which is huge," Keith said.

Tulsa officials on Friday said the city and county are ready to follow the state into phase three of a reopening plan on Monday.

As of Friday, Tulsa County had 983 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, 158 active cases and 51 deaths. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said the county's case trend is almost flat and hospitalization rates are trending up but remain manageable.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he does not have the same concerns proceeding to phase three as he did going into phase one, however, because the main benchmark is hospital capacity.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa County renewed on Tuesday its agreement with the federal government for the sheriff’s office to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation after they’ve been arrested.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 2–1 for the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) agreement. Commissioner Karen Keith voted against it.

Tulsa County’s previous agreement was set to expire in June. The new one is in effect until terminated by the sheriff or ICE.

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