• Pruitt re-election campaign raised $300,000 after it learned it would have no opponent

    BY RANDY KREHBIEL, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s re-election campaign has raised more than $300,000 — and spent almost $160,000 — since he learned in mid-April that he would not have an opponent this election cycle. Oklahoma Ethics Commission records show Pruitt not only continued to receive campaign contributions but actively raised funds through the Nov. 4 general election, even though he had no opponent and cannot seek re-election in 2018. While it is not unusual for term-limited officials with no opponents to continue fundraising, the extent of Pruitt’s activity is. By comparison, state Treasurer Ken Miller, who was also re-elected without opposition and is term-limited in 2018, has raised less than $2,000 since the filing period for this year’s elections ended on April 11. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Botched execution described as 'a bloody mess,' court filing shows

    BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER and CARY ASPINWALL, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    When Oklahoma investigators issued a report on what went wrong with the April execution of Clayton Lockett, they downplayed and omitted disturbing details from witnesses and officials, records filed in federal court show. During interviews with state investigators, the warden at Oklahoma State Penitentiary recalled the scene inside the execution chamber on April 29 as “a bloody mess,” according to a motion filed Friday by attorneys for death-row inmates. Another witness said the scene “was like a horror movie” as Lockett was bucking and attempting to raise himself off the gurney when he was supposed to be unconscious and dying. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com . Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Some Oklahoma teachers leaving the state, profession

    BY NOUR HABIB, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    Jamie Christian is where she belongs — in the classroom. Christian was hired at Broken Arrow’s Oliver Middle School last month as a long-term substitute, until she gets her certification from the state. She officially graduates from Northeastern State University this month. Christian, who out of high school had originally considered becoming a teacher before entering the computer science field instead, made the decision to return to education three years ago. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Visiting Hope Elephants Rosie and Opal in Oklahoma

    Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    HUGO, OK — Rosie and Opal lumbered slowly through the prairie grass Dec. 3, under a cold Oklahoma mist. At the fence, Henry Laurita was waiting, and when they arrived, the Penobscot Bay Pilot reports, he placed a gentle hand on Opal's shoulder. She turned her gaze into his eyes. 'Nice to see you, Henry,' she seemed to nod, adding, 'got any treats?' Rosie stood nearby, raising her trunk toward his heart in that slow regal gesture that elephants make when greeting friends. Henry had arrived the night before, riding shotgun for 1,800 miles from Hope, with Andrew Stewart in the driver's seat of the Dodge Caravan. They had left Maine at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, driving first to Baltimore, then to Nashville and finally arriving in Oklahoma Dec. 2. It was a sweet reunion taking place at the Endangered Ark Foundation. But it was also a trip loaded with intent and emotion, the cementing of a friendship between Hope Elephants and the Endangered Ark Foundation, the acknowledgement that Jim’s legacy was to continue, and the strengthening of a relationship between two distance communities: Midcoast Maine with the community of Hugo, Ok., where ranches intersperse with hunting and fishing camps. Where the median household income in 2012 was $21,360 and the economic issues of rural America are as sharp and hard as they are in many parts of Maine.

  • Injection wells in faults could trigger earthquakes, Devon executive chairman says

    By ZIVA BRANSTETTER - Tulsa World | Updated: Thu, Dec 11, 2014

    Although Devon Energy’s Larry Nichols said Wednesday that he doesn’t think fracking causes earthquakes, he said he believes that injecting the resulting wastewater into existing faults could trigger them. Speaking to the Tulsa Rotary Club, the co-founder and executive chairman of Devon Energy Corp. was asked whether fracking, or hydraulic fracturing during drilling, causes earthquakes. The $32 billion company is one of the largest natural gas and oil producers and independent processors of natural gas in North America. Nichols, who has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Princeton University, responded that “there’s no logical way” fracking could cause an earthquake. Read the full story at

  • Man sends text message to wife, jumps to death from Mayo Hotel, police say

    BY KENDRICK MARSHALL, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Dec 10, 2014

    A man sent a text message to his wife and then jumped to his death from the top of the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa on Wednesday, police said. Police were called to Fifth Street and Cheyenne Avenue about 7 a.m. after pedestrians spotted the body of a man in the street near the hotel. Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker said investigators believe the 43-year-old man jumped from the building and suffered “massive injuries” to several parts of his body in the fall. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • QuikTrip ranked 21st nationally among best places to work by employees

    BY ROD WALTON, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Dec 10, 2014

    QuikTrip's reputation for taking care of its employees keeps growing stronger. The Tulsa-based convenience store chain made yet another list of best places to work for Wednesday. Glassdoor's 7th annual Employee Choice Awards ranked QuikTrip 21st nationally among best places to work, according to those who work at these firms. The company already has made Fortune magazine's annual list of "100 Best Companies to Work for" 12 years in a row. This time is different, spokesman Michael Thornbrugh said. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Tulsa young adult population sees vast demographic changes

    BY CURTIS KILLMAN, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Dec 9, 2014

    Isaac Rocha always figured he’d be long gone from Oklahoma by now. “I kinda joke around and say, ‘I’ve been trying to get out of Oklahoma my entire life,’ ” Rocha said. It’s somewhat understandable. After all, the 31-year-old has seen many of his friends make the leap. “I’ve lost a lot of my friends to other states,” Rocha said. But opportunities have managed to keep Rocha here. As chairman of Tulsa’s Young Professionals, he is one of the biggest advocates for retaining and attracting young talent to Tulsa. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Corrected report pushes Tulsa even lower in rankings for teachers' lifetime earnings

    BY NOUR HABIB, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Dec 8, 2014

    In a report released last week, a miscalculation by researchers at the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Tulsa teachers' lifetime earnings, adjusted for cost-of-living differences between states, as higher than they actually were. The corrected numbers, which were released Saturday, push Tulsa's down ranking to 109 out of 125, from  102. Oklahoma City's ranking dropped to 117, rather than 113. The National Council on Teacher Quality used a standard measure to calculate a typical teacher’s expected lifetime earnings — the salary of a 30-year veteran teacher who earned a master’s degree after working five years, adding an additional 30 credits after 10 years and an additional 30 credits after 15 years. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Rogers State 'shelter in place' request lifted after apparent suicide

    BY COREY JONES, Tulsa World | Published: Fri, Dec 5, 2014

    CLAREMORE — People at Rogers State University were directed to "shelter in place" after an apparent suicide outside a building on campus Friday evening. David Hamby, public relations director, said police responded to what appeared to be a suicide that occurred near Preparatory Hall. Text messages and automated phone calls were sent to students, faculty and staff around 7 p.m., asking them to "shelter in place" until an all-clear was given. The college's Twitter account said shortly before 8 p.m. that multiple gunshots had been reported. A second tweet urged everyone to remain sheltered until police finished sweeping the campus.

  • Tulsa resident befuddled after police officer kills family dog

    BY DYLAN GOFORTH, Tulsa World | Published: Fri, Dec 5, 2014

    A Tulsa police officer shot a loose dog outside a midtown home Thursday evening, leaving the animal's owner questioning whether the shooting was necessary. Matthew Belanger and his wife were sitting in their home in the 1100 block of South Atlanta Place when an officer knocked on their door, saying police had shot a dog and asking them to see whether it belonged to them. "I thought, 'Surely that's not my dog,'" Belanger said. "But I went outside, and there he was." Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Department of Corrections investigating whether notification service needs repairs

    BY DYLAN GOFORTH, Tulsa World | Published: Thu, Dec 4, 2014

    Michael and Faye Taylor have been through a lot already. For a few brief hours this week, they thought their troubles had gotten even worse.  Charyl Schultz, 33, the couple's daughter, was recently found dead outside her home in Henryetta. The couple's other daughter, Ashley Taylor, was killed in 2011 by her fiance, Kevin Sweat. Sweat eventually pleaded guilty in her death, as well as the 2008 murders of Skyla Whitaker and Taylor Paschal-Placker. Late last month he was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. When the Taylors awoke Wednesday, they discovered a message on their phones from Vinelink, a Louisville, Kentucky-based inmate notification system, telling them that Sweat had been released from Oklahoma Department of Corrections custody. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Oklahoma Senate leader says Legislature should stay away from writing new academic standards

    BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Dec 3, 2014

    The leader of the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday said lawmakers should not be involved in writing new academic standards. Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman’s comments were made during a public affairs forum featuring legislative leaders in Oklahoma City. It was sponsored by the State Chamber. The state is rewriting academic standards after lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin repealed the Common Core standards that some criticized as a national education plan that reduced local control. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Man dies after being dragged under Tulsa Transit bus

    BY SAMANTHA VICENT, Tulsa World | Published: Wed, Dec 3, 2014

    A pedestrian was killed Wednesday evening when he was struck by a Tulsa Transit bus. Tulsa Police Sgt. Mark Mackenzie said the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, apparently was trying to catch the attention of a Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority bus driver while running south alongside the bus on Harvard Avenue just south of 31st Street around 6:35 p.m. Wednesday. Police don't know whether he stumbled while running alongside the Route 222 bus, but they think his arm got caught in a bus wheel, and he was dragged under it, Mackenzie said. The man died at the scene. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Tulsa police officer awaiting trial on murder charge retires, seeks lump sum pension payout

    BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

    A Tulsa police officer charged in the murder of his daughter’s boyfriend retired last month and collected a lump sum pension payout of more than $160,000, records show. While a state law prevents officers convicted of felonies from collecting their monthly pensions, Officer Shannon Kepler gets to keep the lump sum even if convicted in the case, said Steven Snyder, executive director of the state Police Pension and Retirement board. However, Kepler would forfeit monthly pension benefits if convicted of a felony not resulting in a deferred sentence, Snyder said. Records show that during its meeting Nov. 19, the state Police Pension and Retirement Board approved Kepler’s request to retire and collect his pension payments. His retirement date was listed as Nov. 1. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Survey respondents: Addressing problems with testing first priority for Hofmeister

    BY ANDREA EGER, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

    State Superintendent-elect Joy Hofmeister on Tuesday released the results of an unscientific poll conducted by her transition team that identified testing, teacher pay and overall funding as the top three priorities identified by more than 10,000 respondents. “The survey found that the first priority of parents, teachers, principals and superintendents is addressing problems with testing,” Hofmeister said. “We must stop over-testing our students, and instead reach a balance where assessments are aligned to the goal and inform instruction.” Increased teacher compensation and overall funding were also mentioned frequently as goals for her first 90 days in office, which begins Jan. 12. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Homicide victim, jailed roommate may have fought over rent payments

    BY KENDRICK MARSHALL and SAMANTHA VICENT, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

    The suspect in the bludgeoning death of his roommate at a Tulsa home late Monday possibly killed the man over a dispute about rent payments, a Tulsa police detective said Tuesday. Ted Wayne Kissel, 31, was found dead underneath a mattress inside a bedroom, Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker said in a news release. His roommate, Joel Giefer, 29, was booked into the Tulsa Jail at 5:38 a.m. Tuesday on a first-degree murder complaint. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Tulsa woman, 24, shot in head in 'horrible, horrible accident'

    BY SAMANTHA VICENT, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

    Tulsa police are at the scene of an apparent accidental shooting in east Tulsa. Officers were called to a house in the 100 block of South 168th East Avenue about 4:30 p.m. A 24-year-old woman was transported from the scene in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head, an EMSA spokeswoman said. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Two teachers' refusal to give tests puts their jobs at risk, but they say it's worth it

    BY ANDREA EGER, Tulsa World | Published: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    Why are two first-grade teachers risking the jobs they love to take a stand against new student tests and surveys? Because they know they’re not alone. “It’s definitely not about my evaluation,” said Skelly Elementary School’s Nikki Jones. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Few Oklahoma exonerees receive payment for wrongful convictions

    BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER, Tulsa World | Published: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    What Greg Wilhoit really wanted after five years on death row was an apology from the state of Oklahoma. Sure, the money would have made a huge difference in Wilhoit’s life after being convicted of murdering his wife, losing his freedom and missing the chance to raise his two daughters. After 12 forensic experts said Wilhoit’s teeth did not match a bite mark used to convict him in 1987, an appeals court threw out his conviction. Two years later, a judge halted Osage County prosecutors’ efforts to retry him, telling Wilhoit: “You’re free to go.” Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .