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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Shots - Health News
9:09 am
Wed October 23, 2013

States' Refusal To Expand Medicaid May Leave Millions Uninsured

Protesters fill the Miami office of state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. on Sept. 20 to protest his stance against expansion of health coverage in Florida.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 11:12 am

President Obama on Tuesday appointed one of his top management gurus, Jeffrey Zeints, to head the team working to fix what ails HealthCare.gov, the troubled website that's supposed to allow residents of 36 states to enroll in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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Bribery Probe
7:40 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Trial Continues For Ex-Oklahoma Legislator

Former State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore)
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

The trial of a former Oklahoma legislator accused of offering a bribe to a Senate colleague in exchange for her not seeking re-election is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Several notable Oklahoma politicians are expected to testify in the trial of Moore Republican Randy Terrill, including former Gov. Brad Henry.

During opening statements yesterday, Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Harmon told jurors the 44-year-old Terrill was motivated mostly by political power.

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Opening Ceremony On Friday
6:15 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Choctaw Nation Reopens Busy Tourist Info Center

Credit Ray Horwath / Flickr.com

The Choctaw Nation is celebrating the reopening of one of the state's busiest tourist information centers on Friday.

The Choctaw Nation assumed operations of the facility in Colbert in July under a five-year contract with the state.

Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory Pyle says the tribe is excited to share the Choctaw heritage with visitors. He says it's an opportunity to educate thousands of people a day about Oklahoma and the Choctaw Nation. The center will feature artwork by Choctaw artists and members of other Native American tribes.

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43 Were Aboard
4:20 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Norman High Students Safe After School Bus Fire

Credit Elisabeth D'Orcy / Flickr.com

Members of the Norman High School band are OK after a charter bus they were riding in caught fire while on the way to a band competition.

The bus was on Interstate 44 in Comanche County when it had a mechanical problem on Tuesday that led to the bus catching fire. Officials say 43 students were aboard and all got out safely.

Lawton television station KSWO reports the students were on the way to Cameron University when the problem occurred.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
1:15 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Fight For Safe Rooms Leads To Oklahoma Supreme Court

Credit hyku / Flickr / Creative Commons

Kathy Turner works with Take Shelter Oklahoma.  The group wants to build safe rooms to protect students from tornadoes like the one that destroyed Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools in Moore.  Turner says her experience as a former school administrator showed her how important government funding can be.

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2014 Elections
11:54 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Longtime Educator To Seek Oklahoma Superintendent's Post

State Superintendent for Public Instruction Candidate Freda Deskin
Credit Provided / Advanced Science and Technology Education Charter (ASTEC) Schools

A longtime educator, school administrator and former university dean is the latest candidate to announce plans to seek the state superintendent post currently held by first-term Republican Janet Barresi.

Democrat Freda Deskin formally launched her campaign on Monday with announcements in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. She was joined by Oklahoma's former First Lady Kim Henry, who is chairing her campaign.

Deskin was a public school teacher and administrator for 15 years, taught at the University of Oklahoma and was a dean at Oklahoma City University.

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10:42 am
Tue October 22, 2013

When The Luck Ran Out In El Reno

Lead in text: 
Motivated by adventure, science, and awe at the power of nature, stormchasers are risking it all to get closer to tornadoes than ever before. Last spring, during the deadly Oklahoma City outbreaks, they got more than they bargained for.
THE TOWNS IN Canadian County, Oklahoma, stand like so many thousands of others out on the prairie-anonymous grids of streets and continuous brick facades stamped into the plains by the same great waffle iron. Not much has happened in this rural area 30 miles west of Oklahoma City since the county was settled in one afternoon during the April 22, 1889, Land Run.
State Capitol
9:01 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Oklahoma Officials To Visit Bond Rating Agencies

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger.
Credit Oklahoma PCA / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin, Treasurer Ken Miller and other state officials will meet Wednesday with representatives of the nation’s leading bond rating agencies.

Fallin, Miller, Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger, Secretary of State Larry Parman and State Bond Advisor Jim Joseph are scheduled to meet with representatives of Standard and Poor’s Corporation, Fitch Ratings and others.

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The Two-Way
7:57 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Fewer Jobs Than Expected In Sept., But Jobless Rate Fell

People looking for work were filling out applications earlier this month at a career fair in Emeryville, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 11:20 am

The nation's jobless rate ticked down to 7.2 percent in September from 7.3 percent in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday.

But just 148,000 were added to public and private payrolls. That's below the 180,000 economists expected. It's yet another sign that job growth remains soft.

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Confused By Conflicting Decisions
6:23 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Hobby Lobby Wants To Go To Supreme Court

Credit Fan of Retail / Flickr.com

Lawyers for Hobby Lobby have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the company's lawsuit against the federal health care law's requirement that coverage include access to the morning-after pill.

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