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The construction site of an apartment complex at Chisholm Creek at N. Blackwelder Avenue and W. Memorial Road in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

A new forecasting survey from Associated General Contractors of America finds builders are having a difficult time filling skilled labor positions. Among 20 firms surveyed in Oklahoma, half said they have hard time finding craft workers, and 40 percent have difficulties putting workers in salaried and craft positions.

Molly Flemming reports in the Journal Record:

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will invest $2 million dollars in career development programs over the next three years. The money comes from a grant funded by JPMorgan Chase.

 

The U.S. economy is projected to produce millions of high-skill, well-paying jobs over the next decade, but more and more kids are graduating from high school unprepared for college or a career.

 

So JPMorgan Chase is pumping $20 million dollars into 10 states to change that. Oklahoma is one of those states.

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) speaking during a 2013 town hall meeting.
Congressman Jim Bridenstine / Facebook

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, met with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team and is under consideration to be NASA’s top administrator.

The Oklahoman reports that Bridenstine’s office confirmed that the congressman met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and members of the transition team to discuss space and national security.

President Barack Obama speaks at McCormick Place in Chicago giving his presidential farewell address on Tuesday.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

President Obama gave his farewell address in Chicago on Jan. 10, speaking for just under an hour. The NPR Politics team and reporters across the newsroom annotated the speech, adding fact-checks and background to Obama's comments in real time.

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President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a rally at DeltaPlex Arena, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Andrew Harnik / AP

Betsy DeVos, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, has given millions in campaign contributions to politicians across the country.

Some of that fiscal muscle trickled into Oklahoma during the last election cycle through a pro-school-choice “Super PAC” that, notably, opposed so-called “teachers’ caucus” candidates in many instances. (The caucus arose out of many educators’ frustration over what they view as low education funding levels and teacher pay.)

25-year-old Adacia Avery Chambers
Stillwater Police Department

Adacia Chambers, the woman who is charged with driving her car into the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade in 2015, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.

Chambers accepted a plea agreement on the first day of her trial, when jury selection was scheduled to begin, Kyle Schwab write in The Oklahoman. She pleaded no contest to four second-degree murder charges and 39 counts of assault and battery.

Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell
Oklahoma House of Representatives

A special committee in the Oklahoma House of Representatives that is investigating the wrongful termination claim of a former aide will expand its scope to a second lawmaker.

Updated Jan. 10 at 3:56 p.m.

The House's Special Investigations Committee released information Tuesday at it is investigating Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell, after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him.

In an email from the Oklahoma House of Representatives Democratic Caucus, Fourkiller said the complaint was filed in April 2015 and involved a high-school page.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake.
Public Radio Tulsa

The head of Oklahoma’s social safety net agency requested lawmakers provide an additional $45.8 million in supplemental funding for the current fiscal years.

The Tulsa County jail isolation unit.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Misappropriation of funds and mistaken or undetected accounting errors led to an undetermined amount of missing money from 2007-2012 at the Tulsa County Jail, according to a new state audit released on Monday.

State auditor Gary Jones’ office found few records during the years 2007 and 2008. During the years 2009-2012, auditors discovered many receipt books and drawer reports were missing. Receipts books were filed in random order, and many were unreadable.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Despite a budget shortfall of approximately $1.3 billion, some Oklahoma state employees received a pay increase during the current fiscal year. The Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services provided documents to The Oklahoman which show 554 state employees received raises of at least $5,000.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s 25 public colleges and universities were among the biggest losers in last year’s budget battle.

Lawmakers cut the state’s higher education budget by $153.4 million, or nearly 16 percent, as part of the Legislature’s work to close a $1.3 billion shortfall during the 2016 session. This led to tuition increases, elimination of degree programs and layoffs across the system.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Lawmakers will take another stab at increasing teacher salaries, will attempt to stymie four-day school weeks and try to eliminate the end-of-year exam in U.S. history.

With the filing deadline on Jan. 19, bills have been streaming in, including many related to common education. Additional bills could surface later because of exceptions to the deadline and shell bills whose language is often replaced mid-session.

Chad Post
Chad Post

 

A world of literary tradition remains outside the grasp of many American readers because few works are translated into English. Chad Post, the publisher of the University of Rochester’s Open Letter press, works to increase access to international literature by translating and publishing ten books each year.

An anti-Syrian government fighter, left, looks at a Syrian soldier, right, as he leaves the last besieged rebel-held neighborhood of Al-Waer in Homs province, Syria, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016.
SANA via AP

 

A cease-fire backed by Russia and Turkey is falling apart in Syria, and that leaves few good options for rebels in that country who are fighting against president Bashar al-Assad

Joshua Landis, the head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told KGOU’s World Views that Assad intends to take back all Syrian land currently held by rebels. Meanwhile, Turkey’s involvement in the cease-fire is an indication that country will no longer back the rebels.

Tiffany Batdorf is the business improvement district chief executive for Oklahoma City’s Adventure District.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

 

Oklahoma City’s Adventure District is home to some big attractions, such as the zoo, Remington Park, the National Softball Hall of Fame and Science Museum Oklahoma. But development has been slow in the area, and some residents and business owners are voicing their displeasure.

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