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Statewide News

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin tonight released the following statement after jurors reached their verdict in the trial of Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby:

“I ask Oklahomans to respect our criminal justice system and especially the jurors, who heard the evidence from both sides in this case. Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions; I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner. I appeal to Tulsans and others to remain calm. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 13:32

Electric Costs on the Rise

Both Mother Nature and many of the electric utility companies have been very kind to everyone over the past 12-18 months. Unfortunately, it is time to get back to reality. Mother Nature skipped the spring season. Actually, most of us would say we skipped winter and went from fall right into spring. Now we are jumping right into summer. At the same time, many of the utility companies have had an increase in the “fuel adjustment” rates on your electrical bills. If you have a “fuel adjustment” charge as part of your utility rate, you are probably paying more for your electrical usage than you were in December. Many OG&E customers started seeing the increased rates in their February bills. OG&E customers are seeing fuel adjustment increases of 29 percent. Here at the Capitol complex we have several facilities that have decreased electrical usage compared to last year and still saw an increase in cost.
Facility: Attorney General Building

Usage: Decreased 8.5%
Cost: Increased 17.1%
Facility: Connors/Hodge Complex

Usage: Decreased 8.9%
Cost: Increased 8.4%
Facility: Governor’s Complex

Usage: Decreased 8.8%
Cost: Increased 2.7%

We have been fortunate. With the mild weather, most of us have seen a decreases in natural gas usage. This has helped to offset the overall utility costs. The bad news, heating season is over. Cooling season is upon us which means increased electrical usage at the higher rates. With the current budget situation this could not be happening at a worse time.

What can we do? Be as efficient with your HVAC and electrical systems as possible. This does not necessarily mean turn everything off. In some cases this will actually cause an increase in usage if implemented at the wrong times. Get the message out to your agency reminding them that it takes everyone’s efforts to be efficient. Turn off lights when not required. Unplug the phone chargers. Turn off the personal fans. Those are the types of things individual employees can do to assist. In regards to your facility HVAC and electrical operations, get with your maintenance departments and discuss facility operations. If you cannot come up with some energy efficiency options, please contact the State Energy Program office. We can assist you with these evaluations.

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- Northeastern State University’s Sequoyah Institute presents the Annie Moses Band as the culmination of the Sequoyah Institute 2016-2017 Performing Arts Series. The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. on April 4 at the NSU Center for the Performing Arts.

The Annie Moses Band has been inspiring and entertaining audiences for over a decade, bringing its distinctive style of music across the nation and around the world. A captivating blend of folk and classical, the Annie Moses Band is a talented ensemble of songwriters, singers and musicians, combining technical skill with exhilarating showmanship. The Band’s innovative sound has delighted audiences around the world in record-breaking numbers of airings on PBS and on stages as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry.

The band’s award-winning composers weave diverse musical styles into cinematic arrangements that beautifully showcase their Julliard-honed chops and soaring vocals. The Annie Moses Band combines the best of beloved genres in a style that unifies audiences, young and old.

“When I heard this group live, I was captivated by the musicianship of each of these individuals and the incredible sound they make as a group,” Cindy Chanslor, coordinator of the Sequoyah Institute, said. “And it wasn’t just me; the entire audience was spellbound.”

Chanslor said the community is in for a treat. The Annie Moses Band will share an afternoon performance with area schools prior to the evening performance. School reservations are required; please call 918-458-2075 for details.

Tickets for the evening performance can be purchased online at www.nsuok.edu/si , by phone at 918-458-2075 or in person weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sequoyah Institute Box Office located at 529 Seminary Ave. Tickets will also be available at the Center for the Performing Arts Box Office beginning one hour before show time.

The Sequoyah Institute Performing Arts Series is funded in part by a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council. The Sequoyah Institute can be reached by phone at 918-458-2075.

(Shawnee, Okla. – March 7, 2017) Seven students from St. Gregory’s University attended the Oklahoma Native American Students in Higher Education (ONASHE) Conference on February 25, 2017. The conference offered three days of workshops and a variety of activities.

"The ONASHE American Indian Higher Education conference truly provides our Indigenous student population with an opportunity to discuss, debate and implement their concepts surrounding a variety of issues impacting Indigenous students in higher education settings,” said Cedric Sunray, Co-Activity Director and Retention Specialist. “From the use of Indigenous people as mascots to combating significantly low graduation rates, as well as sharing stories of success, Indigenous students know that their voice is being heard and valued. They are grateful for the support St. Gregory's has provided in insuring their involvement."

Emmaline Barrett, Alyssa Chavez, Sutv Meely, Crystal Pablo, Shannon Foye, Jeffrey Trout, and Phoenix Bills all attended the conference, which celebrated the contributions of American Indian/indigenous populations in higher education and empowered their path towards graduation.

“It was a great experience to be exposed to different Native American cultures here in Oklahoma since I am not from here,” said sophomore Crystal Pablo, a Gallup, New Mexico native. “It was nice having some friends come with me to the event, but also great to meet so many new people.”

Founded in 1875, St. Gregory’s University is Oklahoma’s oldest institution of higher learning and only Catholic university. St. Gregory’s offers a liberal arts education rooted in the Benedictine tradition of cultivating the whole person – mind, body and spirit. With campuses in Shawnee and Tulsa, St. Gregory’s features both traditional and adult degree programs, including associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. For more information about the University, visit www.stgregorys.edu.

Governor Mary Fallin Declares State of Emergency for 22 Counties Due to Wildfires, Critical Fire Conditions

OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today issued an executive order to declare a state of emergency for 22 counties due to ongoing wildfires and critical fire weather conditions.

The counties included in the governor’s declaration are: Alfalfa, Beaver, Blaine, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Harper, Kay, Kingfisher, Logan, Major, Noble, Osage, Payne, Pawnee, Roger Mills, Texas, Woods and Woodward.

Estimates show between 200,000 and 300,000 acres have already burned in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties alone, where dangerous fire conditions are expected to continue tonight and tomorrow.

Under the executive order, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. It is also the first step toward seeking federal aid should it be necessary.

The executive order is in effect for 30 days and could be amended to include additional counties if conditions warrant.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gross Receipts to the Treasury in February were slightly higher than those in the same month of last year. It marked a second month of positive growth following 20 months of contraction, State Treasurer Ken Miller announced today.

February also marked the first increase in sales tax collections since March of last year and only the fourth month of positive sales tax numbers in the past two years.

At $759.5 million, total February Gross Receipts to the Treasury expanded by $1 million, or 0.1 percent, compared to February of 2016.

“State budget problems and missed estimates notwithstanding, indications from gross receipts and other measurements show a marginally improving Oklahoma economy,” Miller said. “The revitalized economic activity might take some time to filter down into the state budget, but we have good reasons to remain cautiously optimistic.”

State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger has declared a revenue failure for the remainder of the current fiscal year due to projections of General Revenue Fund (GRF) allocations falling further below appropriated levels. In addition, the state Board of Equalization has certified an almost $900 million reduction in estimated revenue for Fiscal Year 2018.

The GRF, the state’s primary funding source, is a subset of Gross Receipts to the Treasury and growth in total collections don’t necessarily directly result in GRF increases. The latest report on GRF allocations will be made next week by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

February gross production collections from crude oil and natural gas rose to $37.9 million and were more than the same month of the prior year for a fifth consecutive month. February collections come from December oil field activity when the average price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil was $51.97 per barrel.

While February sales tax and gross production collections showed improvement, both individual and corporate income tax and motor vehicle gross collections decreased from the prior year.

Gross receipts for the past 12 months total $10.8 billion and are $624.2 million, or 5.5 percent, less than collections from the previous 12-month period. Each of the state’s major revenue sources – income, gross production, sales and motor vehicle taxes – are less than collections from the prior 12-months.

Other indicators

For a seventh consecutive month, Oklahoma’s unemployment rate in January was higher than the national jobless number. However, at 4.9 percent, the state jobless rate has decreased by one-tenth of one percentage point each month since October. The U.S. unemployment rate was set at 4.8 percent in January.

The Oklahoma Business Conditions Index, predicting economic activity for the next three to six months, was set at 59 in February. It marks a second consecutive month above growth neutral following seven months of negative ratings. Numbers above 50 indicate anticipated economic expansion.

February collections

The report for February lists gross receipts at $759.5 million, up $1 million, or 0.1 percent, from February 2016.

Gross income tax collections, a combination of individual and corporate income taxes, generated $238.1million, a decrease of $8.6 million, or 3.5 percent, from the previous February.

Individual income tax collections for the month are $232.4 million, down by $5.9 million, or 2.5 percent, from the prior year. Corporate collections are $5.7 million, down by $2.7 million, or 32.4 percent. Wide monthly variances in corporate collections are not uncommon.

Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, total $323.9 million in February. That is $2.2 million, or 0.7 percent, more than February of last year.

Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $37.9 million during the month, an increase of $9.3 million, or 32.4 percent, from last February. Compared to January reports, gross production collections are up by $4.8 million, or 14.7 percent, over the month.

Motor vehicle taxes produced $53.5 million, down by $6.6 million, or 11 percent, from the prior year.

Other collections, consisting of about 60 different sources including taxes on fuel, tobacco, horse race gambling and alcoholic beverages, produced $106.2 million during the month. That is $4.7 million, or 4.6 percent, more than last February.

12-month collections

During the last 12 months, gross revenue totals $10.8 billion. That is $624.2 million, or 5.5 percent, below collections from the preceding 12-month period.

Gross income taxes generated $3.9 billion for the March 2016-February 2017 period, reflecting a drop of $404.5 million, or 9.4 percent, from the preceding period, March 2015-February 2016.

Individual income tax collections total $3.5 billion, down by $259.4 million, or 6.9 percent, from the prior 12 months. Corporate collections are $434.8 million for the period, a decrease of $145 million, or 25 percent, from the previous 12 months.

During the past 12 months, sales taxes generated $4.2 billion, a decrease of $125.9 million, or 2.9 percent, from the trailing period.

Oil and gas gross production tax collections brought in $367.3 million during the 12 months, down by $51.9 million, or 12.4 percent, from the prior period.

Motor vehicle collections total $740.1 million for the period. This is a decrease of $24 million, or 3.1 percent, from the prior 12 months.

Other sources generated $1.6 billion, down $17.9 million, or 1.1 percent, from the previous 12 months.

About Gross Receipts to the Treasury

Since March 2011, the Treasurer’s Office has issued the monthly Gross Receipts to the Treasury report, which provides a timely and broad view of the state’s macro economy.

It is provided in conjunction with the General Revenue Fund allocation report from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which provides important information to state agencies for budgetary planning purposes.

The General Revenue Fund receives slightly less than half of the state’s gross receipts with the remainder paid in rebates and refunds, remitted to cities and counties, and placed into off-the-top earmarks to other state funds.

See charts and graphs HERE

Ready, Set, Go!

Get READY by clearing out your garages, homes and sheds!

SET your items up to sell to the thousands of folks that come out each year to find your one of a kind treasures!

GO to the bank with all of the cash that you will make at the 12 Annual Ten Mile Yard Sale in Longtown, Ok!

Every year on the Saturday of Father’s day weekend, garage doors fly open, tables are set to hold everything from clothing to antiques and signs begin popping up to direct visitors to the front yard of those homes from Eufaula Ok 9E jct. all the way through Enterprise, Ok.

Call 918-429-9436 with any questions or to rent booth space. Space ranges from $30 to $75 with electricity. If you have space that you are willing to rent, let us know and maybe we can help fill it.

Saturday, June 17th is the date set for this year’s sale and is sponsored by the nonprofit, Longtown Merchants Association! It usually runs daylight until you drop! We will need several food vendors to serve the folks along the 20+ miles that the sale runs so please call to find space to set up.

See you Saturday, June 17th for Longtown’s 12th Annual 10 Mile Yard Sale!!

Just an hour from Okmulgee!

Wednesday, 08 March 2017 20:08

Oklahoma Economic Report now available

Read the latest on the state's first credit downgrade in 30 years and commentary by Governor Fallin in the new Oklahoma Economic Report

The latest Oklahoma Economic Report is ready for you to read. This month, we have details on the downgrade of Oklahoma's credit rating by Standard & Poor's -- the first such action in 30 years -- plus, commentary by Governor Mary Fallin on fixing the state's structural budget deficits.

Read the report here: Oklahoma Economic Report


“Indian Givers: Indigenous Inspirations;” American Indians influencing and inspiring modern culture

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- The Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies has announced its 45th Annual Symposium on the American Indian will be April 10-15 in the University Center on the Tahlequah campus. This symposium’s theme is “Indian Givers: Indigenous Inspirations,” and the event will include the return of the NSU Powwow.

“The 45th Annual Symposium on the American Indian will focus on the many ways in which American Indians have contributed to mainstream, western culture through art, literature, government, and other areas of the humanities,” the American Indian Heritage Committee states on the symposium website.

The film series will kick off the symposium with two screenings: “Violet” will be shown on April 10 beginning at 6 p.m. and “Medicine Woman” will be shown April 11 at 6 p.m. Both will be presented in the Webb Auditorium.

The Opening Ceremony will take place on April 12. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., the Native American Student Association will welcome guests with comments from Sara Barnett (Muscogee Creek), director of the Center for Tribal Studies, and Jacob Chavez (Cherokee), president of NASA. The Opening Ceremony will also include a presentation of colors from the Cherokee Nation Color Guard, the Miss Native American NSU Crowning Ceremony and a special presentation from the Wewoka High School students and first year students of Maskoke Seminole Language class.

Keynote speakers presenting at the symposium include Jacklyn Roessel (Navajo), founder of Grown Up Navajo and former education and public programs director at the Heard Musseum; Dr. Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee), associate professor and graduate advisor in the School of Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria; Dr. Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw), professor in International Cultural Understanding at the University of Kansas; Tim Tingle (Choctaw), author and storyteller; and Dr. Jenny Davis (Chickasaw), assistant professor of American Indian Studies, Anthropology and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois.

Rounding out the activities will be the return of the NSU Powwow on April 15. The day will begin at 2 p.m. with a Gourd Dance, dinner will begin at 5 p.m. and the Grand Entry/Intertribal begins at 7 p.m. and closes out at midnight.

For a full schedule of events and more information about the symposium, visit www.nsuok.edu/symposium <http://www.nsuok.edu/symposium> .

About the theme “Indian Givers: Indigenous Inspirations”
“The term ‘Indian Giver’ has a rather negative connotation in American culture, reflecting one of the greatest cultural misunderstandings of Western history,” the American Indian Heritage Committee states on the symposium website.

The committee further explains that Lewis and Clark have been credited with coining the term, as they did not quite understand the gift exchange and bartering practices of the local tribes and perceived them to be unfair or even insulting.

“While there were obvious differences in culture, beliefs, and customs of Indigenous people and what would eventually become the dominant western culture, the two have managed to coexist. In fact, there are many areas in which American Indian culture has influenced and inspired the development of modern culture.”

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Tulsa man who filed a bogus insurance claim and assaulted an insurance adjuster has been sentenced to life in prison. Prentice E. Ponds II, 43, was on parole at the time of the crime. He has a long criminal history with multiple felony convictions.

“Oklahoma is a safer place with this man behind bars,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “While it’s common for insurance fraud to be committed in conjunction with other crimes, we don’t typically see violence like this. But it does happen. I am extremely proud of the work done by our Anti-Fraud Unit to get this violent criminal off the streets. I also want to thank the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office for its excellent work on this case.”

Ponds was arrested in August 2015 after an investigation by the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Anti-Fraud Unit. Investigators found that Ponds filed a fraudulent insurance claim on a 2014 Chevy Camaro with preexisting damage he’d purchased off eBay. When an insurance adjuster went to Ponds’ home to question him about the claim, Ponds became angry. He attacked the adjuster and took his file and audio recorder. The insurance adjuster was later treated for a head laceration and broken ribs.

Last week a Tulsa County jury convicted Ponds of robbery and insurance fraud. He was sentenced to life for the robbery conviction and 25 years for the insurance fraud conviction. Ponds’ prior felony convictions include assault and battery, robbery and burglary.

“I could not be more pleased with the jury’s verdict,” said Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Reagan Reininger. “The jury was able to evaluate the evidence and send a message that making a fraudulent insurance claim and robbery by force or fear are crimes that will not be tolerated in our community. A violent criminal was taken off our streets with the help of the Tulsa Police Department and the thorough investigation of the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Because of our collective efforts, the hope is that this criminal will never be able to victimize again,” said Reininger.

“Repwest takes insurance fraud very seriously and works closely with authorities to fervently pursue justice,” said Robert Pirmann, vice president at Repwest Insurance Company. “On behalf of our team, I want to commend the Oklahoma Department of Insurance, the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office and local law enforcement for their diligent efforts in this case. The violence exhibited against our insurance investigator should never be tolerated.”

About the Oklahoma Insurance Department

The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.

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