Justin Zagaruyka and his son talk to the press during Surgeon General Vivek Murthy's visit to Oklahoma City on May 17, 2016.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU


Justin Zagaruyka’s problems with substance abuse began early. He started smoking marijuana when he was 11 or 12. Within a couple years, he was using methamphetamine. He kicked meth four years later, but then he started drinking heavily. Soon, he was taking opiates.

“I’d go use the opiates because it would sober me up a little bit, you know, when I’d get too drunk. So I would go snort a lortab or a roxy and then I would be back up and ready to go and I could drink more,” Zagaruyka said.

Volkswagen grill
Benjamin Shaw / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A consumer protection lawsuit the state filed against Volkswagen is on hold for another month. A federal judge turned down Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s request that the Volkswagen lawsuit should be handled in state court.

The judge wrote that a judicial panel will decide later this month whether to bundle Oklahoma’s lawsuit with others that involve “common questions of fact.”

The City of Bethany is suing a pair of aerospace companies after a “plume” of hazardous chemicals migrating from an airport manufacturing plant contaminated public water supplies and forced the city to shut down a pair of municipal water wells.

In the federal lawsuit, filed Aug. 31 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, the city claims Rockwell Automation and Gulfstream Aerospace owned and operated an aircraft manufacturing facility at Wiley Post Airport contaminated with toxic solvents and degreasers containing trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene, which have been detected in municipal wells at levels exceeding federal limits.

ACT test book
Seth Perlman / AP

Eighty-two percent of high school seniors took the ACT this past school year, with more than 1,700 scoring 30 or higher.

State Regents for Higher Education Director of Student Preparation Matt Higdon said that's due to better accessibility, eCapitol’s Tyler Talley reports:

He said an expected dip in the state's composite score was expected due to wider accessibility. Oklahoma's ACT Composite Score dropped from 20.7 to 20.4 after remaining steady for the past eight years.

Rikki Cosper stands in the McGee Bright Start Early Education Center in Norman, where she is director. She also heads the Licensed Child Care Association of Oklahoma. Her center is one of 3,409 remaining child-care homes or centers in the state.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

After 23 years in the child-care industry, Laura Hatcher is edging toward a decision she doesn’t want to make.

The 51-year-old Antlers resident runs one of the four licensed day-care facilities in Pushmataha County in southeast Oklahoma. But she questions whether she can keep her doors open beyond another year or two because running the business is getting more expensive and difficult.

“It’s a struggle and I’m working 11, 12 hours a day,” she said. “If it continues the way it is, I’m not going to be able to keep going.”

Karen Holp, KGOU General Manager.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

September 4, 2016

This is from the Manager’s Desk.

I want to celebrate the growth of KGOU Radio over these many years, so I am inviting you to a party.

Come to my celebration on Thursday, September 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Sam Noble Museum. We’ll have some music from Mary Sallee, refreshments, and good words for each other. I’ll have an update about our capital campaign to replace the KROU transmitter.

gas pumps
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

AAA Oklahoma says more than 400,000 state residents will travel at least 50 miles over the Labor Day holiday weekend – the highest number since 2008.

Spokesman Chuck Mai said 96 percent of that figure will travel by car, and even though gas prices are up about $0.20 since August 1, he thinks many drivers are encouraged by gas prices about $0.19 below the 2015 Labor Day holiday.

A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is under construction at N. Perkins Road and W. Airport Road in Stillwater.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Building permit activity indicates Oklahoma's two major college towns are having a record year when it comes to commercial development.

Stillwater saw its property valuation more than double from $34 million to $84 million between 2014 and 2015, and the city is already only $6 million away from passing that mark.

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake damaged the facade of a brick building in the city of Pawnee, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The strongest earthquake to hit Oklahoma in nearly five years shook the state Saturday morning, rousing some residents from a dead sleep. It was felt as far north as Nebraska and as far south as Texas.

Updated 6:30 p.m.

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County after the 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck the state Saturday morning, damaging buildings across north-central Oklahoma.

Robinson Tolbert was honored in 2014 by the University of Oklahoma’s Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work Hall of Fame for her work in rural areas,
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

From its vast, open ranges in the northwest to its lush, rolling hills in the southeast corner, rural Oklahoma still evokes an idyllic image.

The archetype of quiet, small towns with a strong sense of community – where friendliness is abundant and “big city” stresses are few – often marks the popular imagery used to represent the state and its values.

But for many of those who live in Oklahoma’s rural areas, the reality does not match the trouble-free imagery.