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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OneSix8
9:58 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week With OU’s Civil War Teach-In And A Tornado Project Forum

"A War for the Union 1862-A Cavalry Charge" engraving by Winslow Homer
Credit Winslow Homer / Brooklyn Museum

The University of Oklahoma presents a “Teach-In On The Civil War” Monday, March 10. Highly reputable academics from across the country come to Norman for the all-day event that features lectures and panel discussions about the era.

OU President David Boren delivers a few words before the opening lecture from Clemson University historian Vernon Burton at 9:30 a.m. in OU’s Catlett Music Center.

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Chesapeake
8:48 am
Thu March 6, 2014

OKC's Cheseapeake Energy Accused Of Collusion

Credit Chesapeake Energy

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he's filed criminal charges Chesapeake Energy and Encana Corporation for colluding to avoid bidding against each other for Michigan oil and gas leases.

Schuette said Wednesday that the antitrust violations happened in 2010, when Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake and Calgary, Alberta-based Encana bought natural gas leases in Michigan.

He says collusion is suspected of depressing the per-acre cost of leases from $1,510 in May 2010 to under $40 in October 2010.

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The Two-Way
6:14 am
Thu March 6, 2014

'We Are Ready To Protect Our Country,' Ukrainian Leader Says

Demonstrators carried a Russian flag during a rally this week in the western Crimean city of Yevpatoria.
Genya Savilov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 12:25 pm

We're updating this post as the day continues.

While conceding that his nation can't come close to the military power of Russia, the interim prime minister of Ukraine said Thursday that "we are ready to protect our country" if Russia does not stop its "military aggression" in Crimea.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, that the presence of Russian forces in that autonomous region of his nation "is unacceptable in the 21st century."

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29 Democrats Pledge Support
5:54 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

House Democrats Support Proposal To Finish Museum

Credit American Indian Cultural Center & Museum

The 29 Democrats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives have agreed to support a Senate-backed measure to spend $40 million to complete an unfinished American Indian museum in Oklahoma City.

The announcement by House Democratic Leader Scott Inman on Wednesday could boost the chances for the proposal to pass the House, where many Republicans oppose the idea.

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OSU Did not admit liability
4:17 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

OSU Settles Lawsuit With Anti-Abortion Group

Credit musicalwds / Flickr.com

Oklahoma State University has settled a lawsuit with an anti-abortion group that said it wasn't allowed to distribute leaflets with graphic images on campus.

OSU and Cowboys for Life settled the federal lawsuit last week that alleged the university refused to allow the group to display leaflets and signs of an aborted fetus in heavily trafficked areas of campus.

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State Capitol
12:45 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

House Rejects Expansion Of Oklahoma's DNA Database

Credit Steve Greaves / Flickr Creative Commons

A plan to require people facing trial for certain crimes to submit DNA samples to law enforcement has been rejected by the Oklahoma House, despite an emotional plea from the bill's author.

On Wednesday, the House voted 51-35 against the bill by Stillwater Republican Rep. Lee Denney, who says the measure would help solve cases and would only target people charged with particularly heinous crimes.

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Oklahoma Watch
12:04 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

The Reading Scramble: Teachers Prep Third Graders For Read-Or-Fail

Credit Nate Robson / Oklahoma Watch

Two years ago, when Oklahoma third-grade students took the state’s annual reading test, nearly 5,500 them, or 11 percent, failed.

Last year, the results were worse, despite a stepped-up focus on reading instruction: 12 percent of third graders scored at the lowest of four levels, unsatisfactory, meaning they were still reading at about a first-grade level.

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The Two-Way
11:17 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Don't Worry, They Say, 100-Foot Asteroid Will Miss Us Today

A NASA artist's illustration depicts an asteroid belt around a star that the space agency says is "the same age and size as our Sun."
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 10:56 am

Don't say you weren't warned.

But also don't worry, the experts say.

As we wrote last month when an asteroid measuring about 900 feet long passed near enough to Earth to generate headlines about a "close encounter," more rocks are always headed our way.

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Tornado
9:57 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Judge Orders $15 Million Judgment In Woodward Tornado Case

The path of the April 2012 tornado that hit Woodward.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

An Oklahoma judge says Farmers Insurance and a subsidiary must pay a total of $15 million to three plaintiffs whose homes were damaged in the 2012 Woodward tornado.

District Judge Ray Dean Linder ruled in favor of three plaintiffs who filed breach of contract lawsuits against Farmers Insurance and Foremost Insurance Group. The lawsuit alleged that the insurance companies underpaid claims and used adjusters that they knew would offer low estimates.

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Open Meetings
8:16 am
Wed March 5, 2014

State Board Of Education Gets Redo On Previous Votes

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi

The State Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday to approve once again previously voted on actions from their Feb. 27 monthly meeting in Enid.

The board neglected to file its change of location from Oklahoma City to Enid with the Secretary of State’s Office 10 days in advance of that meeting as required by the Open Meeting Act, making all votes taken that day invalid.

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