Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go?

Debris filled the streets in Moore, Okla. on May 20, 2013.
State Farm Flickr Creative Commons

After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.

One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.  The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with Oklahoma Watch to track where all the money went. 

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Shots - Health News
6:34 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Bingeing On Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:34 pm

If you're feeling stressed these days, the news media may be partly to blame.

At least that's the suggestion of a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Weather and Climate
6:54 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Farmers Hoping For More Rain To Lessen Drought

Brothers and business partners Fred and Wayne Schmedt stand in their family's wheat field near Altus in southwest Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Some Oklahoma farmers say there's "cautious optimism" that patchy rains this summer will make a dent in the drought afflicting much of the state and help save crops and cattle.

But they concede conditions could change quickly, like they did last year when Oklahoma settled back into the oppressive heat of the summer months. Crops wilted and hay shortages were prevalent across a large swath of the state.

Tim Bartram, with the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, says if periodic rains suddenly dry up, many farmers will be left with a familiar picture from last season.

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Concern Over Vehicle Emissions
5:27 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

EPA And DOD Come To Agreement To Benefit Rural Fire Departments

Credit JIm Legans, Jr / Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says a deal has been reached between two federal agencies that will allow local firefighters to continue receiving surplus military equipment.

Oklahoma's senior U.S. senator issued a statement Wednesday praising the agreement reached between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense.

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Wyandotte Nation
4:01 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Is The Interior Department Too Slow?

Credit Brian Turner / Flickr.com

A federal judge has ordered an Oklahoma tribe to show cause why the court shouldn't dismiss the last remaining claim in their lawsuit seeking to build a casino on suburban Wichita land.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday gave the Wyandotte Nation until July 19 to make its pleading.

The Interior Department has notified the court that it rejected the tribe's application to take the land into trust so the tribe can build a casino there.

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Environment
1:08 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Gov. Fallin Criticizes EPA For Cutting Fire Department Vehicle Agreement

Credit Office Of The Governor

Governor Mary Fallin added her voice to the Oklahoma lawmakers who oppose the discontinuation of a program that supplies vehicles to rural fire departments. Fallin wrote a letter Wednesday to an administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency criticizing the discontinuation. 

"The decision to terminate this successful program was clearly made without thought to the adverse effects to local firefighting efforts and the ability to protect the lives and property of our citizens," Fallin said. 

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Here & Now
12:28 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Wichita Falls Fights Devastating Drought

Wichita Falls, Texas, is in its worst drought on record. (Justin Cozart/Flickr)

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 1:48 pm

Wichita Falls, Texas, is in its worst drought on record – worse than the dustbowl days of the ’50s. It started in 2010, and climatologists don’t see it letting up any time soon.

As city manager Darron Leiker explains, the city has taken a series of aggressive measures to cope.

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Politics
10:17 am
Wed July 9, 2014

What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer

Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other while being separated by police officers on July 4, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 6:28 pm

It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.

Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.

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Education
7:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Full Supreme Court To Hear Common Core Challenge

Oklahoma's Supreme Court Justices
Credit Oklahoma State Courts Network

The full Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of a new law that repealed Oklahoma's adoption of the Common Core curriculum standards and requires the state Board of Education to draft new standards that the Legislature would have the power to change as it sees fit.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of parents, teachers and members of the State Board of Education. The group's petition alleges that HB3399 is unconstitutional because of several reasons. The allegations are that the Oklahoma Constitution vests the State Board of Education with authority over the "supervision of instruction in the public schools" and that the Legislature has inserted itself into the legislation, and that the law violates the principal of separation of powers.

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Elections
6:09 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Democrats Will Appear First On Ballot In November

Credit K Latham / Flickr.com

The names of Democratic candidates will appear first on the ballot in November's general election in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced the ballot order Tuesday following the results of a drawing held at the state Capitol. State law requires the selection process be held every two years to determine the order of the party candidates on the ballot. Representatives from both parties observed the drawing at the Oklahoma Election Board's office.

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Majority of states see rise in costs
4:15 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Prison Health Care Costs Less In Oklahoma

Credit Alex Proimos / Flickr.com

While the vast majority of states in the U.S. have seen prison health care costs climb sharply in recent years, a new national study shows Oklahoma is one of the few states bucking that trend.

A report on state spending on prison health care released Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows Oklahoma is among ten states where the per-inmate spending declined from 2007 to 2011. Oklahoma had the lowest per-inmate cost in the country in 2011 at $2,558, a decline of 17 percent from $3,071 per inmate in 207 spending.

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