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
7:30 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Entertaining the Hours of Your Week With Holiday Happenings

Jennifer Lashbrook's "DIY Mona Lisa" paint swatch piece. Lashbrook is this year's Arts Festival Oklahoma featured artist.
Credit jenniferlashbrook.com

Well, we’ve made it to Labor Day Weekend 2013. Take a load off. This week’s OneSix8 features several festival opportunities where you can reward yourself for another year of hard work. 

The Dusk ‘Til Dawn Blues Festival returns to Rentiesville for the 23rd time this weekend. The annual event boasts 33 bands performing from August 30 through September 1. Legends like Tee Dee Young and Roger Hurrican Wilson join local celebrities such as Watermelon Slim and Miss Blues.

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6:55 am
Thu August 29, 2013

What Do Hurricane Katrina and the Moore Tornado Have in Common?

Lead in text: 
It's been eight years since Hurricane Katrina, and about three months since the EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Okla. Mike Smith points out a commonality between the two storms and human reaction.
Yes, they were both "cyclones" (low pressure systems). Yes, they were both windstorms. But, there is something they have in common that might, if not managed properly, cause mass casualties in the future: Terrible traffic jams when a second storm days later.
It's All Politics
6:36 am
Thu August 29, 2013

How California Is Turning The Rest Of The West Blue

Newcomers from California are helping to shake up the politics in the Mountain West.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:15 pm

Colorado's politics have become positively Californian lately. There are new restrictions on guns. Pot is legal. The legislative agenda featured an expansion of alternative-energy use requirements for rural consumers. Gay couples can now enter into civil unions.

There's a reason for all this.

Lots of Californians have moved to Denver and its environs, bringing a progressive strain of politics with them and angering more conservative parts of the state — so much so that 10 northeastern counties are planning symbolic but serious votes on secession this fall.

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Missing Valedictorian
6:19 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Parents Of Missing Student Return From Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador
Credit Rinaldo W. / Flickr.com

An Oklahoma City couple has returned from Ecuador without their son, a class valedictorian possibly kidnapped while the family was in South America for a vacation.

The Oklahoma reported Wednesday that Chris and Randa Reiger recently returned to the state while the search for their son August goes on. Another son is back at school.

Ecuadoran authorities believe August Reiger was kidnapped because they have no other reasonable explanation for his disappearance. They say he would have been found by now if he had been lost or had fallen off a trail.

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Spartan College of Aeronautics
4:35 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Spartan Will Train Air Force So They Can Train Afghans

Cockpit
Credit flightlog / Flickr.com

A Tulsa air school has been awarded a $12 million Air Force contract to provide ground and flight training for operations in Afghanistan.

The Tulsa World reports that Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is getting the five-year contract.

Officials at the vocational training school say the contract will cover education on Cessna T182 and 208 aircraft. The school will also supply maintenance training on Beech King Air 350 aircrafts.

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State Capitol
12:38 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Fallin Names Michael McNutt As Press Secretary

Press Secretary Michael McNutt.
Credit Provided / Oklahoma Governor's Office

Gov. Mary Fallin has named longtime state Capitol reporter Michael McNutt as her press secretary.

McNutt has worked almost 30 years for The Oklahoman, including eight years at the paper's Capitol Bureau. During that time he covered the office of governor, the House of Representatives, various state agencies and a number of political campaigns.

Before moving to the Capitol, McNutt served as The Oklahoman's assistant news editor and assistant city editor. He has also worked in the newspaper's Enid bureau and for newspapers in Enid and Rolla, Mo.

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Point-in-Time Homeless Count
11:35 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Oklahoma Homeless Count Dips Slightly

Credit Oklahoma Watch

Nearly 4,400 homeless Oklahomans were identified during the 2013 statewide count of homeless people, reflecting a slight decrease over two years ago, according to numbers released this week by state officials.

The statewide Point-in-time Homeless Count, which is conducted in January and mandated by the federal government every two years, seeks to identify each state’s homeless population. Some cities, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, also do homeless counts in other years, but the statewide count is biennial.

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Shots - Health News
8:59 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Despite Distaste For Health Law, Americans Oppose Defunding

Defunding strikes most Americans as the wrong prescription for the Affordable Care Act.
Ricardo Reitmeyer iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 3:49 pm

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act often talk about how unpopular it is.

And this month's tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation bears them out. Negative views of the law (42 percent) top positive ones (37 percent).

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StateImpact Texas
8:42 am
Wed August 28, 2013

New Study Finds Another Link Between Drilling and Earthquakes

Cliff Frohlich of the University of Texas at Austin.
Credit Terrence Henry / StateImpact Texas

new study shows yet another link between oil and gas drilling and manmade earthquakes in Texas. The report, by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, says that a recent string of quakes in the Eagle Ford Shale formation of South Texas are mostly a result of oil and gas drilling.

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8:15 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Comparing State Taxes on Unconventional Oil and Gas Production

Lead in text: 
State government's financial support of horizontal drilling is being questioned. What was once unique, is now commonplace. The Oklahoma Policy Institute and Headwater Econmics studied just where the state ranks in incentives provided to oil and gas companies.
Download the 2-page Major Findings Download the Full Study A new study from Headwater Economics, in conjunction with Oklahoma Policy Institute, finds that Oklahoma's taxes on unconventional production of oil and gas, or horizontal drilling, are among the nation's lowest and would remain relatively low even if the state eliminated the tax breaks currently benefiting horizontal drilling.

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