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Bernice Police Department mourns the loss of an officer

BERNICE, Okla. – The Bernice, Oklahoma Police Department announced it lost one of its own. Officer Matt North passed away Saturday morning after suffering chest pains.

According to a Facebook post from the department, Officer North began suffering chest pains after he finished his shift Friday. He sought medical attention and was discharged from the hospital later that night. North returned to the hospital the next morning where he was pronounced dead.

The Bernice Police Department is asking people keep the North family “in your prayers at this time of loss and grief.”

 

It is with the deepest of sadness and disbelief that I write this post today. Bernice Police Department lost one of its…

Posted by Bernice OK Police Department on Saturday, March 20, 2021

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Find COVID-19 vaccines near you

The Vaccine Finder below can help you locate a specific COVID-19 vaccine at several locations in your area. Select the vaccines you’re interested in, enter your zip code and mile amount. Then, hit enter to see the list.

Most locations have a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines and require appointments. Check with your local health department first to confirm you can get the vaccine.

Other useful links:

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5 officers charged with manslaughter in boy’s shooting death

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Five Oklahoma City police officers were charged Wednesday with first-degree manslaughter in last November’s fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy.

Stavian Rodriguez was shot by officers responding to reports of an attempted armed robbery at an Oklahoma City convenience store on Nov. 23. TV news video appears to show Rodriguez outside a gas station, dropping a gun. The boy raises his hands, then lowers them before being shot.

Oklahoma City District Attorney David Prater charged five of the responding officers with first-degree manslaughter. If convicted, they could face up to life in prison.

The officers charged are: Bethany Sears, Jared Barton, Corey Adams, John Skuta and Brad Pemberton. A sixth officer, Sarah Carli, used a “less-lethal” weapon and will not be charged, police said.

After being shot with the “less-lethal” round, while Rodriguez had one hand in his pocket and his other hand near his waistline, all five officers “unnecessarily fire lethal rounds at Stavian Rodriguez, striking him numerous times and inflicting mortal wounds,” Prater’s investigator, Willard Paige, wrote in an affidavit.

An autopsy determined Rodriguez suffered 13 gunshot wounds, Paige wrote.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the officers had attorneys who could speak on their behalf, but John George, president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police, defended their actions.

“Officers must make life and death decisions in a split second, relying on their training. When an armed robbery suspect did not obey police commands, five officers perceived the same threat and simultaneously fired their weapons,” he said. “A loss of life is always a tragedy and we know these officers did not take firing their weapons lightly. The OKC FOP stands by these officers and maintains they acted within the law.”

The officers have been on administrative leave since the shooting.

Police also released the officers’ body camera footage after the boy’s mother sued for it last month.

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OK bill would require high schoolers pass citizenship test to graduate

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Students in Oklahoma may soon have to pass a naturalization test to graduate from high school.

It’s part of Oklahoma House Bill 2030 and would require students pass the civics portion of the test before they can earn a high school diploma. According to House Speaker Terry O’Donnell, the test would be exactly what is required of someone from another country seeking citizenship. 14 other states have adopted similar legislation.

The measure passed the state House. If it passes in the state Senate and gets signed into law by the governor, the legislation would take effect at the beginning of 2022-2023 school year.

According to a 2018 Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass the citizenship test.

Read the full bill below:

H.B. 2030

 

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Northeast Tech gets a new state-of-the-art welding facility

AFTON, Okla. – Northeast Tech in Afton, Oklahoma is getting a new state-of-the art welding facility. And what better way for welders to celebrate the creation of this new facility,  than getting up close with the steel that’ll hold it together.

Students Monday signed the steel beam that will hang in the center of the new facility. The new facility will provide more elbow room.

“The welding booth where our welding booths are 4′ x 5′ rectangles these are now 10′  x 8’s,” said Northeast Tech welding instructor Corey Winesburg. “So (with) the bigger space, students are going to be more spread out. We can also handle more students with a larger classroom where we can handle more students.”

Northeast Tech officials hope to move into the new building before the end of the year, weather permitting.

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Oklahoma Dept. of Education allocates $49 million

Release from the State of Oklahoma Department of Education:

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 5, 2021) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has announced the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is allocating $49 million in federal relief dollars to 88 Oklahoma school districts that had received limited funds under Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II.

The funds are part of the set-aside ESSER II dollars that had been allocated to the OSDE.

“These recipients had received the least amount of federal aid but, like all public school districts throughout our state, are struggling with financial burdens exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Hofmeister. “These additional foundational dollars will help strengthen their ability to meet the many challenges posed by COVID-19.”

As required under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, ESSER II allocations were distributed based on Title I funds from fiscal year 2020. Consequently, some school districts with smaller number of high-poverty students received limited relief funding from the $665 million that ESSER II provided to Oklahoma schools.

Without the additional dollars, some districts indicated they would have been forced to cut critical staff such as teachers, nurses and counselors.

“We appreciate State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education for their steadfast support of Moore Public Schools through this very challenging year,” said Robert Romines, Superintendent of Moore Public Schools.

“The ESSER II funding will significantly fill the budget gap we have been preparing to face in our district. This funding will be instrumental for us to continue providing essential services for our students and staff, which include having mental health and medical health professionals in our schools. We will also utilize this allocation to continue building a virtual learning program that is academically and developmentally rigorous.”

His sentiments were echoed by Owasso Public Schools Superintendent Amy Fichtner.

“We are grateful for the State Department of Education’s diligent efforts to identify and address needs in districts across the state following the distribution of ESSER II funds,” she said. “These funds will allow us to provide continuity of services to our students and maintain our ardent focus on their education.”

OSDE determined that any district that had received less than $550 per student in ESSER II funds was awarded a portion of the $49 million. Allowable uses of the dollars include preventing, preparing for and responding to COVID-19, as well as mitigating learning loss and restoring high-quality learning environments. To see the breakdown of funds provided to the 88 districts, click here.

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City of Miami tells residents to expect higher energy bills

MIAMI, Okla. – The City of Miami, Oklahoma is reminding its electricity customers that bills will likely be higher. They say it’s because of using more electricity during cold temperatures. The city says the price per kilowatt hour has not changed.

The City of Miami says it has many solutions in place to support customers with utility bills. Customers can contact the customer service department at 918-542-6685 to discuss the Average Monthly Plan (AMP) or they can discuss a contracted plan with the City to pay out over the course of a specific number of months.

The Miami Public Utility purchases its power from the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). Like most energy producers in the region, GRDA was subject to massive increases in the cost of
natural gas it purchases due to demand and supply issues. However, officials say it is too soon to know the impact this will have on future bills.

In a statement provided to customers late Friday afternoon, GRDA believes “it would be imprudent for us to make estimates about GRDA’s net financial impact from the event”. The next GRDA board meeting is scheduled for March 10th, but they have stated it is looking more likely that it will be necessary to schedule a special board meeting to take any action on the response to the storm’s financial impact. GRDA maintains they have built a robust rate stabilization account and are in a solid cash position.

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Wyandotte Nation announces criteria for tribal vaccine eligibility

WYANDOTTE, Okla. – The Wyandotte Nation announced Wednesday the criteria to receive coronavirus vaccinations at the Bearskin Healthcare and Wellness Center in Wyandotte, Oklahoma.

Eastern Shawnee and Wyandotte Nation citizens and their spouses 18 and older are eligible for vaccines. It’s also eligible for Wyandotte community members 55 and older.

Tribal citizens and community members that are not active patients at bearskin will need to present their tribal membership card, drivers license and insurance. An appointment is required.

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Oklahoma man falls through ice, dies in SW Missouri

FORSYTH, Mo. – The Missouri State Highway Patrol says an Oklahoma man has died after he and another man fell through the ice on Swan Creek in southwestern Missouri.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that incident happened late Saturday night when 33-year-old Leo Satepauhoodle and 30-year-old Demarco McCoy, both of Tulsa, Oklahoma, walked out onto the ice on Swan Creek in Forsyth. Sgt. Mike McClure said something caught their attention, and they ventured far out onto the ice to try to get photos. When they reached thin ice far from the shoreline, both fell through.

The patrol says Satepauhoodle died early Sunday morning at a Branson hospital. McCoy was listed in serious condition at a Springfield hospital.

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Man killed in wreck with a semi north of Vinita, OK

CRAIG COUNTY, Okla. – A Claremore, Oklahoma man is dead following a wreck with a semi five miles north of Vinita, Oklahoma.

Police say the collision happened on OK-2 around 11:47 p.m. Sunday night. 35-year-old Patrick Heussmann of Claremore was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the semi, 68-year-old Raymond Hitchcock of Greeley, Colorado, was taken to a Tulsa hospital in critical condition.

The cause of the wreck remains under investigation.