Special Report: Auditing The Disaster Aid For 2013 Tornadoes And Storms

Federal public-assistance funds are paying for the rebuilding of Plaza Towers Elementary School, in which seven children died in the May 20, 2013, tornado. The school is expected to open next month.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

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The Two-Way
11:46 am
Fri July 11, 2014

LeBron James Will Return To The Cleveland Cavaliers

A Cleveland Cavaliers fan holds up a LeBron James poster at a New York Yankees game Thursday. One day later, the fan's wish was granted: James will return to the Cavs for this year's new season.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 12:20 pm

The Miami experiment is over: LeBron James will play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. The NBA star opted out of his contract with the Heat after spending four seasons in Miami, where he won two championships.

James, 29, played for Cleveland for seven seasons before leaving the town, and his home state of Ohio, for Miami. Speculation about his next move heated up after James and the Heat were trounced in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: 'I'm Coming Home'

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Health
11:44 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Tulsa Preparing For National Gay Men's Blood Drive

Credit Expert Infantry / Flickr Creative Commons

Tulsa's Dennis R. Neill Equality Center and the Oklahoma Blood Institute are teaming up for Friday's National Gay Men's Blood Drive.

Officials at the center say that gay and bisexual men have been banned since 1983 from donating blood. The ban was instituted shortly after the start of AIDS. Officials at the center say it has been left in place since that time.

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Music Interviews
8:37 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Miranda Lambert And The Soft Side Of Tough

Miranda Lambert.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 8:57 am

Miranda Lambert has painted herself as one of country music's bad girls: Whether it's solo or with her trio Pistol Annies, she's got a deep catalog of songs about revenge, guns, cigarettes and beer. But her new album, Platinum, shows a more vulnerable side.

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Education
7:45 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Former State Regents Chancellor, Oregon State President Dies

Credit Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

The former Chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education has died.

Oregon State University says Paul Risser passed away Thursday in Norman at the age of 74. He served as the 13th president of OSU in Corvallis from 1996 until 2002.

Risser also led Miami University of Ohio from 1993 until 1996. He left Oregon State in 2003 to return to his home state and take charge of Oklahoma's system of higher education.

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It's All Politics
6:06 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Study: Statehouse Press Corps In Decline

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver talks to reporters in a hallway at the capitol in Albany in March. The ranks of statehouse reporters have been thinning in recent years.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 7:26 pm

A declining number of reporters are stalking the hallways of the nation's statehouses.

That's according to a Pew Research report released Thursday. The study found that the number of full-time statehouse newspaper reporters declined by more than a third between 2003 and 2014. There are now just 164 full-time newspaper journalists reporting on the bills, protests and politicians in the nation's 50 state capitals.

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Oklahoma News
6:53 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Aeronautics Commission Concerned About Legislature's Raid Of Their Fee-Based Fund

Credit P. Alejandro Díaz / Wikipedia Commons

Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission members expressed concern about a $3 million withdrawal from the agency’s revolving fund by the Legislature. The agency’s revolving fund was one of several lawmakers tapped for funds to appropriate for fiscal year 2015.

Aeronautics Commission Executive Director Vic Bird noted the agency was the only one from which money was taken that does not receive appropriated funds. He said the general appropriations bill was drafted without input from the commission and the agency received no notice the money would be taken. 

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Health
6:26 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

First Case Of West Nile Virus Found In Oklahoma

Credit dr_relling / Flickr Creative Commons

The first case of West Nile virus in Oklahoma this year has been confirmed in a Major County resident.

The Oklahoma Department of Health said Thursday the victim is over the age of 50 but declined to release more details.

There were 84 cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Oklahoma last year, including eight deaths. Those infected ranged in age from 17 to 92 years.

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Material To Protect Astronauts
5:59 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

OSU Researchers Awarded Grant From NASA

Credit Paul Hudson / Flickr.com

A team of researchers from Oklahoma State University campuses in Tulsa and Stillwater have been awarded a $750,000 grant from NASA.

The grant announced by OSU on Thursday is for a project to develop a material that will protect astronauts from radiation during space missions.

The project is one of 15 selected for funding through the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

Researchers are working to develop a material that will shield astronauts from ionizing radiation during missions to asteroids near Earth, the moon and Mars.

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Media Tour Today
4:16 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Immigrant Kids Playing Soccer And Attending Class

Credit www.military.com

Federal officials have allowed members of the media to tour a temporary shelter at Fort Sill that is being used to house more than 1,000 teenage immigrants from Central America.

Participants in tours Thursday at the Army post in southwest Oklahoma were heavily restricted and prohibited from taking pictures, asking questions or interacting with staff or children at the shelter.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:44 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Four More State Parks At Risk As Budget Cuts And Low Revenue Loom

Credit Christopher Caldwell / Flickr Creative Commons

Four state parks in northeastern Oklahoma could be sold off, leased out or closed due to state budget cuts and low park revenue.

Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation hasn’t made a final decision on three of the parks, but is considering selling or leasing Disney/Little Blue Area at Grand Lake, Snowdale Area at Grand Lake and Spring River Canoe Trails.

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