Woman types on a laptop
Ed Gregory / Pexels

Life in a military family is full of intersections. The spouses of service men and women sometimes connect with each other for just a short time before they must move to a new base or even a new country. Social media is a vital resource for these people to create relationships and maintain them over long distances.

Oklahoma State University economist Dan Rickman
Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma will continue to see job growth in 2015, even if lower energy prices slow those increases, Oklahoma State University economist Dan Rickman said Tuesday.

Speaking at the 2015 Oklahoma Economic Outlook Conference, which is hosted by the OSU Center for Applied Economic Research at the university’s Spears School of Business, Rickman forecast over 30,000 jobs will be added to the Oklahoma workforce during the 12-month period beginning Jan. 1.

The majority of the jobs, he said, are expected to be in administrative and support services and durable goods manufacturing. More than 5,000 new jobs are projected to be created in each sector, according to Rickman.

Emily Soreghan

The idea of local, sustainable food isn't new. It's pretty much the only way early settlers on the Oklahoma prairie didn't starve to death.

But in the 21st century, everything from home gardens, to restaurants, to huge organic agribusinesses help pass the practices, and the connection between the land and the food that comes from it, to future generations.

Katie Shauberger’s yard has two small garden plots, which she showed me on a cool September night. Katie is a senior at The University of Oklahoma and an avid gardener who has many reasons for growing her own food

Four state universities offer new programs to make college education more affordable. OU, OSU, Langston University, and USAO have moved to a flat-rate tuition, where students pay one rate regardless of hours taken. OU has also launched a debt-free teacher initiative, in which the school will forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt if a student agrees to teach in Oklahoma for at least 4 years.

A Mental Health Mission Goes Statewide

Aug 24, 2014
Michael Brose, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.
Angela Chambers / Oklahoma Watch

Growing up in Kansas near the Oklahoma Panhandle, Michael Brose saw firsthand the struggles of rural residents to find quality health care.

Later, in two decades as executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Brose observed similar problems with urban residents’ access to affordable care for mental illness and substance abuse.

Today, Brose is using his experience in those two settings to carry out a new, broader mission for his advocacy organization. In April, the Mental Health Association in Tulsa renamed itself the Mental Health Association Oklahoma. That change occurred after the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City closed its doors.

MHA Oklahoma, based in Tulsa, is now the state’s most prominent nonprofit to focus on mental health services beyond the local level. The need is great: Oklahoma’s rate of mental illness ranks among the highest in the nation, and funding for health services is limited.

In an interview with Oklahoma Watch, Brose discussed the association’s plans for expansion; efforts to help the homeless, teens and veterans, and how to prevent suicide. The interview has been edited and condensed.

You now lead an organization for the entire state. Does that mean you will be offering your services for the mentally ill in every part of Oklahoma?

It’s a step-by-step approach. We’ve always served the Tulsa metro area. The next step is to develop systems that will primarily be targeting Oklahoma City and central Oklahoma areas that will include Norman. I spoke and met with people in Stillwater not too long ago. Ultimately, we want to serve the whole state. Before the expansion, we consulted and worked with contacts in central Oklahoma and around the state in rural areas. We’ve become a member of the United Way of Central Oklahoma, so we’re members of both United Ways (Tulsa and Central Oklahoma).

One of the most exciting things about expanding in other parts of the state is meeting people. We’re all Oklahomans and have similar needs. We’ve had this long history of this dichotomy between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and we’re really about doing our part to break down those barriers.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next month in a lawsuit filed by a group of death row inmates over Oklahoma's execution procedures.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for Sept. 18 in the case, which was filed by 21 inmates following the April 29 botched execution of Clayton Lockett. The inmates are trying to halt any attempt to execute them using the state's current lethal injection protocols.

U.S. Energy Information Agency

There were 211 drilling rigs operating in Oklahoma last week, the state’s highest level in almost six years, Bloomberg’s Lynn Doan and Richard Stubbe report.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Three Oklahoma death row inmates whose execution dates have already been set are among 21 plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection procedures.

—Charles Frederick Warner, 47, had been set to die on the same day as the botched execution of Clayton Lockett but is now scheduled to be executed on Nov. 13 for the 1997 rape and murder of 11-month-old Adrianna Walker, the daughter of his roommate.

OETA reports that both Oklahoma and Texas are looking for information and entities willing to take over operations of the Heartland Flyer.

State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valiant.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Sen. Jerry Ellis on Monday suggested that a federal task force be formed to develop a statewide earthquake “emergency action plan.”

The task force would be charged with examining and evaluating scientific studies related to Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, which a growing chorus of scientistssay is likely linked to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, and make recommendations on possible solutions, according to a press release from the House Democratic Caucus. 

Lora Zibman / Flickr Creative Commons

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.

Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?

Bloody Marty /

Reactions to today’s federal court ruling striking down the Oklahoma ban on on same-sex marriage were mostly from those celebrating the decision. Friday's ruling was put on hold pending any appeal, which means gay marriages won't immediately take place in Oklahoma.

An Oklahoma couple that challenged a state ban on same-sex marriage is praising a federal court ruling striking down the ban. The court decision was in favor of Tulsans Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin.

amboo who? / Flickr Creative Commons

The 2014 State of the State's Health Report released by the Oklahoma State Board of Health shows Oklahoma ranks 44th in overall health status of its residents compared to other states in the nation.

Unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors such as low physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption, along with a high prevalence of smoking and obesity, contribute to most of the state's leading causes of death. Significant health disparities among many of the state's population also contribute to Oklahoma's health status.

The report says, “Overall, Oklahoma has the fourth highest rate of death from all causes in the nation, 23 percent higher than the national rate. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that while Oklahoma’s mortality rate dropped five percent over the past 20 years, the U.S. mortality rate dropped 20 percent. So, Oklahoma is not keeping up with the rest of the nation.”

The annual study reports on a range of factors and details information by county.

Lisa Davis (right) with the advocacy group Save Lake Texoma near the Rooster Creek Bridge at Lake Texoma State Park.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

On Wednesday, April 30, StateImpact Oklahoma presents an important conversation on how the changing climate will affect Oklahoma.

Guests will include Clay Pope, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, and David Engle, the Executive Director of Oklahoma State University's Water Resources Center.

Jessica Lothrop / Flickr Creative Commons

Supporters of gay marriage in Oklahoma are praising a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples.

But opponents of same-sex marriages also found a silver lining in Wednesday's ruling, saying Oklahoma's constitutional ban on gay marriage remains intact.

Governor Mary Fallin issued a statement Wednesday saying that like "the vast majority of Oklahomans," she supports traditional marriage.