• Commission hears report critical of Oklahoma's handling of new teacher evaluations

    BY ANDREA EGER, Tulsa World | Published: Thu, Jan 29, 2015

    The statewide commission overseeing Oklahoma’s new teacher-evaluation system received a stinging new report Thursday about educators’ lack of buy-in and trust in the system. Researchers from the Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, conducted focus groups with 131 educators from 58 school districts across the state in September and October. They told the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Commission that while new methods for rating teachers based on classroom observations are widely considered to be a significant improvement over schools’ old ways of evaluating teachers, other student data-based measures of educator performance are widely misunderstood and considered invalid. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • State Rep. Sally Kern withdraws bill that would have allowed businesses to discrimnate against gays

    BY BARBARA HOBEROCK, Tulsa World | Published: Thu, Jan 29, 2015

    Rep. Sally Kern has withdrawn a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay people. The Oklahoma City Republican issued a statement Thursday indicating the measure did not accomplish her desired purpose. She was not available for additional comment. Kern's House Bill 1597 stated: “No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.” Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Stolen Bartlesville dinosaur statue found headless, cut up in Tulsa trash bin

    BY COREY JONES, Tulsa World | Updated: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    BARTLESVILLE — The hunt for a 9-foot-tall dinosaur in the Tulsa area was short-lived. A stolen statue of a dinosaur was found beheaded and in several pieces inside a trash bin in Tulsa, bringing extinction to the landmark that had stood sentinel at Classic Pets in Bartlesville for a decade. The fiberglass dinosaur was taken Sunday morning in broad daylight from in front of the store at 119 S.E. Washington Blvd. Witnesses reported the odd sight of the body covered and its tail and legs protruding out of a pickup truck driving south on U.S. 75 into Tulsa. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Kristin Chenoweth returning to Broken Arrow for performance, class

    BY JAMES D. WATTS, Jr., Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    BROKEN ARROW — Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth will return to Broken Arrow this August to conduct her second annual Kristin Chenoweth Master Class for young singers. The master class, which will be open to the public, will likely include Chenoweth performing a brief concert, as she did at the inaugural event last year. This summer will also be the first season for Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway Boot Camp, a weeklong event for high school performers June 22-26 at the Broken Arrow PAC. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Gov. Mary Fallin sidesteps question on discrimination against gays

    BY BARBARA HOBEROCK, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday sidestepped a question regarding whether it would be acceptable for a restaurant owner to refuse service to a gay person. The exchange happened during an annual legislative forum at the Capitol featuring Fallin and legislative leaders. Lawmakers return Monday to the Capitol. Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, has filed House Bill 1597 that would allow businesses to refuse service “to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association,” and be immune from civil liability. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Oklahoma Marine veteran receives all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl

    Published: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dustin Butler of Tahlequah has been selected by the national nonprofit Operation Enduring Respect for an all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl 49. Butler will receive free transportation, lodging, food and souvenirs. He will also attend a NFL Hall of Fame luncheon with Earl Campbell, Roger Staubach and other former NFL greats. “I can’t really describe the feeling; it’s almost unreal,” said Butler, a member of the Cherokee tribe, told the Tahlequah Daily Press. “I’ve been watching the Super Bowl since I was old enough to remember, and I never expected to ever go in person. Words don’t describe how happy I am to be going and experiencing this firsthand.” Butler served two tours in Iraq. He received an honorable discharge in 2005. In addition to serving six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Butler also served in the Air Force Reserves from 2006 until 2013, when he was medically discharged. Operation Enduring Respect, founded in 2009, was established to provide an opportunity for military men and women to attend sporting events they might not typically be able to attend. The nonprofit has provided more than 1,000 tickets to five Super Bowls, and also to the Texas Longhorns, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and Alamo Bowl games over the past five years.

  • In Colorado, Oklahoma lawsuit unites those for and against marijuana

    BY MICHAEL OVERALL, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    A widely popular figure with a reputation for bipartisanship, Attorney General John Suthers was one of the most vocal opponents of legalizing marijuana in Colorado. But when voters legalized it anyway — by passing a state constitutional amendment in November 2012 — Suthers dutifully implemented the new law, despite his personal objections. So it surprised no one in Colorado when Suthers, during his last few weeks in office before his term expired this month, offered a vigorous defense against a legal challenge from the state of Oklahoma. It might have been a mistake for Colorado to legalize pot, Suthers argued. But it was a mistake Colorado had the right to make. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • State Rep. Sally Kern says anti-gay bills are an effort to support traditional values

    BY BARBARA HOBEROCK, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    A state lawmaker under fire for three controversial bills targeting the gay community on Tuesday defended the measures as an effort to support traditional values. Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of House Bill 1599, called the “Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act.” It attempts to nullify federal court action that legalized same-sex marriage after Oklahoma voters approved a constitutional ban. Critics say the measure will not withstand legal scrutiny, among other things. They also said same-sex marriage is an effort toward equality. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Grove woman who lied about burying fetus in yard is recharged with child neglect

    BY SHEILA STOGSDIL, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Jan 26, 2015

    JAY — A Grove woman who allegedly lied during a juvenile court hearing about not being pregnant was charged with perjury, and previous child neglect charges were refiled, a prosecutor said Monday. Stacy Leigh Belt, 34, is accused of lying in court while under oath, prompting the perjury charge that led to refiling the March 2013 child neglect charges. Belt is charged in Delaware County District Court with three counts of child neglect, perjury and a misdemeanor charge of causing, aiding or encouraging a minor child to become deprived. She is free on $10,000 bail, said Stephanie Bush, assistant district attorney. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Tulsa man jailed, accused of raping 13-year-old girl he met on Facebook

    BY SAMANTHA VICENT, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Jan 26, 2015

    A 19-year-old Tulsa man was arrested early Monday after reportedly raping a 13-year-old girl he met on Facebook the previous day. Tulsa police received a call around 9:10 p.m. Sunday from Hillcrest Medical Center, where they spoke to the girl’s older sister, who alleged that Abraham Bucio-Bucio had committed that rape. Police reported the girl was “in a catatonic state” at the hospital, according to Bucio-Bucio’s arrest report. While at the hospital, investigators were told the girl met Bucio-Bucio, also known as “King Pekas,” on Facebook, and that he went to the girl’s north Tulsa home and asked her to have sex with him. The girl reportedly declined, and she claims Bucio-Bucio grabbed her, tore her pants off and sexually assaulted her, according to the report. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Man charged with 18 felonies after botched convenience store robbery

    BY DYLAN GOFORTH, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    A Tulsa man was charged Wednesday with more than a dozen felonies eight days after a failed robbery attempt left two cohorts dead. Lakeit Thompson faces 18 felony counts, including two first-degree murder charges, and a number of robbery and assault counts. Thompson’s list of charges is so lengthy that nearly four pages of possible witnesses — exactly 100 names — appear on his charge sheet. The 20-year-old Thompson is accused of attempting to rob Ryan’s Convenience Store, 9948 E. 21st St., along with three other people on Jan. 13. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Muslim advocacy group asks Oklahoma lawmaker to drop religious education bill

    BY BARBARA HOBEROCK, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    A Muslim advocacy group on Wednesday asked a state lawmaker to drop a bill on elective religious education courses. Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 48. “A school district and its employees and agents shall incur no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible,” the bill says. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Oklahoma County listed in top 5 most disaster-prone places in America

    Updated: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    Fires. Floods. Storms. Hurricanes. Volcanoes! The Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared more than 3,000 disasters since 1953, covering the gamut of large-scale calamities ranging from tornadoes to terrorism, and everything in between, The Washington Post reports. Since 1964, they've been tracking these disaster declarations at the county level. The award for most disaster-prone place in the U.S. goes to Los Angeles County, CA, which has experienced 53 disasters in that time period -- on average, a little more than one disaster per year.  Oklahoma County, OK comes in at number 4, on the strength of its severe storms, fires and ice storms.

  • Parents hold power in high-stakes testing debate, state Rep. Katie Henke and educators say

    BY ANDREA EGER, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Jan 20, 2015

    Parents possess the most clout in the growing fight over the use of high-stakes tests in public education. That was the common message at a panel discussion Tuesday evening featuring State Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller, and two teachers and a mother of two from Tulsa’s Skelly Elementary School. Almost 40 people jammed into a small meeting room at the Brookside Library for the public discussion of “The Testing Environment in Oklahoma and Where We Go From Here,” hosted by the Oklahoma Coalition Against High-Stakes Testing. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Broken Arrow teenager arrested in Craigslist robbery plot

    BY KENDRICK MARSHALL, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Jan 20, 2015

    BROKEN ARROW — A Broken Arrow High School student was jailed on an accusation that he and a juvenile robbed someone at gunpoint during what was supposed to be a Craigslist transaction, police said. Calvin Ivan Bowen, 18, was booked into the Tulsa Jail about 4:15 a.m. Tuesday on complaints of armed robbery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, jail records show. An arrest report says Bowen committed the robbery Monday in the 1000 block of East Hillside Drive. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Oklahoma City officer involved in shooting en route to Garth Brooks concert in Tulsa

    BY SAMANTHA VICENT, Tulsa World | Updated: Fri, Jan 16, 2015

    A 25-year-old man is in critical condition Friday evening after being shot by an off-duty police officer from Oklahoma City who was en route to the Garth Brooks concert in downtown Tulsa, a Tulsa Police official said. Officers received a call around 5:15 p.m. from outside the Renaissance Uptown apartment complex, where they learned the man had been shot during an altercation with the Oklahoma City-area officer, Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker said. Police do not yet know what agency employs the officer in the Oklahoma City area.

  • Oklahoma animal shelter being investigated after dog filmed cannibalizing dead kennel mate

    BY DYLAN GOFORTH, Tulsa World | Updated: Wed, Jan 14, 2015

    Idabel Mayor Tina Foshee said Wednesday the town would investigate its animal shelter after a dog housed there was filmed this week eating its dead kennel mate. Abe Thomas posted the video to his Facebook account Tuesday night after he said he went to the shelter that day in hopes of adopting a dog. The gruesome video shows Thomas walking outside the shelter, to a fenced area where a gray pit bull is seen eating the remains of a dead puppy. The video was provided to the Tulsa World and has been shared numerous times on social media. The pit bull, which looks like it recently had puppies, can be seen calmly picking at the remains of the dead dog, whose entire rib cage on one side has been torn away and its internal organs

  • Garth Brooks surprises fans with front-row seats

    BY JERRY WOFFORD, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Jan 13, 2015

    After almost skipping the Garth Brooks show Sunday, Andrea Spears Kidwell and her group changed their minds and headed downtown. And boy are they happy they did. Kidwell and her friend, Margaret Oliver, were two of the lucky fans selected by members of Brooks' tour to get new seats. Well, not seats because they didn't really sit down the whole time they were pressed up against the stage, reaching for Brooks when not wiping away tears of joy. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Students return to Oologah-Talala school one week after kindergartner's mysterious death

    BY DYLAN GOFORTH, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Jan 12, 2015

    OOLOGAH — Students returned to classes Monday at Oologah-Talala Public Schools, the fear and confusion over the mysterious death of a kindergartner having dissipated somewhat. Traffic at the school appeared normal early Monday as parents dropped off their children, though some in the community had vowed last week not to return their kids to the school until they were sure why 6-year-old Jenny Yang died. The girl died Jan. 5 in an Owasso hospital hours after she went home early with a fever from her lower elementary classroom. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Former pastor sentenced to 37 months in prison

    BY CURTIS KILLMAN, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Jan 12, 2015

    A judge Monday sentenced the former pastor of the Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church in Tulsa to a 37-month prison term and ordered him to repay nearly $1 million in funds prosecutors say he “pillaged” from a nonprofit he once led. U.S. District Judge John Dowdell also ordered Willard Lenord Jones, 63, to pay the Internal Revenue Service $155,112 and serve three years of supervised release after the completion of the prison term. U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams called the prison term and restitution order a “just sentence.” Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .