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Statewide News

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 11:10

Mega Millions Jackpot Hits $310 Million

A $211.1 Million Cash Value

Oklahoma City (Jun. 15, 2016) —The Mega Millions jackpot for Friday night’s drawing has reached $310 million! The estimated cash value of the jackpot is $211.1 million.

Players have until 8:59 p.m. on Friday to purchase tickets for the next Mega Millions drawing. Mega Millions drawings are held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:59 p.m.
Play Responsibly

With the Mega Millions jackpot at $310 million, the Oklahoma Lottery is encouraging everyone to play responsibly.

(Shawnee, Okla. – June 6, 2016) St. Gregory’s University announced today that its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program has been granted full accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The accreditation is retroactive to October 15, 2015.

“Going through the development and implementation of a nursing program at St. Gregory’s is a great illustration of The Little Engine That Could. The faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to make the accreditation process a successful reality,” Dr. Susan Barnes, Dean of St. Gregory’s School of Nursing said. “This accreditation is a testimony to the good people that are so dedicated and passionate about nursing. This hard work is an acknowledgement of the nursing shortage and our ability to make a contribution to solving the problem. Nurses play an important role in each of our lives.”

St. Anthony Hospital, Saint Francis Health System, St. John Medical Center and Mercy Hospital — Oklahoma’s four Catholic healthcare systems — are key partners in St. Gregory’s nursing program, supporting a caring approach that preserves the dignity of the human person. The curriculum's ethical component is informed by the Catholic Church's moral teaching, and supports the University's overall mission of forming the whole person - mind, body and spirit.

The success of the nursing program has spurred the University to explore the possibility of opening a College of Health Care as part of its recently approved strategic plan, Vision for Our Next Century.

“This is a marquee day for not only our School of Nursing, but also for St. Gregory’s University,” Michael A. Scaperlanda, President of St. Gregory’s, said. “Our nursing program’s roots within the Catholic Liberal Arts intellectual tradition prepares our students to go out into the world and become beacons of light within their communities while serving others in a way that respects the dignity of human life. This is only our first step as we continue to look for ways the University can serve the vast Catholic health care network in Oklahoma and across the nation.”

The nursing program has previously been approved by the Higher Learning Commission, received provisional approval from the Oklahoma State Board of Nursing and has been offering nursing courses in a traditional format as well as the accelerated Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree completion program for working adults since August 2014. Currently there are over 75 students enrolled in both the traditional nursing and RN to BSN Degree programs.

For more information on St. Gregory’s Catholic Nursing or RN to BSN program, contact the St. Gregory’s admissions office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 1-844-BE EXTRA or visit www.stgregorys.edu/nursing.

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, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. For more information about the University, visit www.stgregorys.edu.

TULSA, Okla. (June 6, 2016) – Jehovah’s Witnesses in Northeast Oklahoma have begun invit-ing the public to attend their 2016 “Remain Loyal to Jehovah!” Regional Conventions. Tulsa University’s Donald W. Reynolds Center will host two of the 481 conventions being held in 130 cities throughout the United States.

Approximately 6,000 delegates are expected to attend those two conventions, which will be held during the first two weekends in July.JW2

Each of the 2016 “Remain Loyal to Jehovah!” Regional Conventions will feature 49 presenta-tions exploring the theme “loyalty.” Additionally, the Witnesses have prepared 35 video seg-ments specifically for the program plus two short dramatic films. The conventions will address the important need for loyalty in our world today and its role in both the family and community.

About the conventions

Tulsa convention dates: July 1-3, 8-10
Convention Venue: Donald W. Reynolds Center, 3208 E. 8th Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Open to the public at 8:15 a.m. each day – No admission fee – No collections
Approximately 3,000 expected to attend each convention

About JW.org

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official website, www.jw.org, is the most widely translated website in the world, with more than 800 languages, offering access to free, downloadable Bibles, Bible-based publications and videos for the entire family, including teenagers, couples, parents and children.

For further information, please contact:

Tom Lincoln (918) 740-2344 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mark Snead (918) 625-1136 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement on the Memorial Day holiday:

"I encourage all Oklahomans during this Memorial Day weekend to take time to remember and honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Their service keeps our nation free and protects the freedoms we enjoy every day. Oklahomans have a deep and profound respect for the men and women of our military – and their families. We can never fully repay the debt of gratitude owed to them.

“I'm wishing Oklahomans a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend. I know they will join me in keeping our former and current military personnel in their thoughts and prayers."

There’s a lot to explore within the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s new online map portal. From navigating bridge data to checking out upcoming construction projects and viewing a map of every railroad crossing in the state, the department is increasing transparency by providing a more interactive approach to many types of state maps and data.

Designed as a one-stop, all-inclusive data experience, the ODOT Map and Data Portal recently launched for public use at www.odot.org under the Road Conditions Resource Center. Mobile device users will need to click View Full Site to reach the full portal.

The portal includes more than 30 interactive maps and data sets such as the planned highway projects in the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan, current construction updates, live traffic times and cameras as well as traffic counts for state highways and mileage chart generators among many others. Many of the key maps are also listed by ODOT field division so that users may quickly hone in to their area of interest.

“We create and maintain a tremendous amount of data about our state highway system that we want to make more readily accessible,” said Dawn Sullivan, ODOT director of capital programs. “This portal will be useful to contractors and vendors as well as the general public wanting to learn more about construction plans and highway conditions for their area.”

The new online portal also allows the department to maintain and update public data closer to real-time. Some data will be updated weekly while other maps and data sets will be updated as needed.

An interactive tool bar in the upper left corner of all the maps allows users to toggle layers on or off, add base maps, measure or share the map. There are six maps ready for use on mobile devices with more scheduled to be available in the future. Other types of maps and data available within the portal include:

A county report map provides a significant amount of road and bridge information by clicking on each county and then choosing a report such as school district boundaries, U.S. Census Bureau information and historical data.

A complete inventory of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges, both on and off the state system. Each data point contains detailed information about the location, the type of bridge, year it was built, traffic counts and whether it’s on a school bus route along with other data.
The public also will find a map dedicated to load-posted bridges. These are bridges with a posted weight limit for vehicles that may use the structure.

History and trivia buffs have not been left out of the map portal. They will find several applications of interest, including:

Historic Bridges and Roadways map application that shows the location of Depression-era bridges from 1933-45 and more than 100 truss and arch bridge locations statewide.

Memorial Roads and Bridges is an inventory of every highway and bridge designated with an honorary name by the state Legislature. The public may apply to have a bridge or state highway named after a loved one through their state legislator.

A county population map shows not just the current U.S. Census population for each county, but historical population numbers going back to 1890.

The online portal was created by ODOT in-house using industry-standard mapping tools with an annual $17,500 licensing cost. Engineers and contractors who already use ODOT mapping data also may find many of these maps and the underlying raw data via ArcGIS Online by using the keyword “okdot.”

16 025 mapportal screenshot crop

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation recently unveiled an online Map & Data Portal with more than 30 maps and data sets as part of its efforts to increase transparency and provide more information electronically to the public. It may be accessed via www.odot.org under Road Conditions Resource Center.

WASHINGTON — Oklahoma joined 10 other states on Wednesday in a lawsuit claiming the Obama administration's recent guidance on transgender bathroom policy violates the law and the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. attorney general and other cabinet secretaries and federal officials "have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights," the lawsuit states.

The states and school districts that filed the suit in federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas, have asked that a temporary injunction be issued blocking the administration from taking any action to punish schools or employers that don't comply with the guidance on transgender accommodations.

Joining the Texas-led lawsuit were Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, the governor of Maine, the Education Department of Arizona and a school district each in Texas and Arizona.

The lawsuit follows a now familiar pattern of Republican-led states challenging Obama administration regulations in federal court; Oklahoma and other states have also sued over health care, immigration and environmental regulations.

The new challenge comes on an issue that flared up earlier this year in North Carolina when that state passed a law requiring people to use public bathrooms of the gender on their birth certificates.

The Justice Department has filed a civil rights suit against North Carolina over the law, claiming that it discriminates against transgender people.

Guidance for schools

Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice and Education departments issued guidance to the nation's public schools about how to accommodate students who identify with a gender other than the one on their birth certificate.

"A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity," the document states.

"A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so."

The document advised schools that discrimination against transgender students would be viewed as sex discrimination and a threat to federal funds.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked for clarification about the guidance, and some Oklahoma lawmakers introduced a bill granting religious accommodations to students who object to sharing restrooms or shower facilities with transgender students who were born a different sex; that bill died this week.

Lawsuit claims

The lawsuit filed Wednesday says the guidance means schools that receive federal money "must allow students to choose the restrooms, locker rooms, and other intimate facilities that match their chosen 'gender identity' on any given day.

"Single-sex classes, schools, and dormitories must also be open to students based on their chosen 'gender identity.' "

The lawsuit also names the Labor Department, citing similar guidance to employers about workers' bathroom use.

The suit claims the administration is defining sex discrimination beyond congressional authority; that it was issuing rules and regulations without going through the formal rule-making process; and that the guidance violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection by allowing only transgender students to choose which bathroom they wanted to use.

Earlier this month, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the guidance for schools "does not add any additional requirements to any school district or state under the applicable law."

He said, "This is in response to extensive requests for guidance and for information and advice that have been put forward by school administrators and teachers and, in some cases, even parents who are seeking practical solutions to this challenge."

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister today made the following remarks on House Bill 3218, which repeals the end-of-instruction tests required for high school graduation and is en route to the governor.

“This testing reform bill will repeal our current end-of-instruction tests and replace them with high-value assessment tools for high school students. In addition, it limits standardized testing in grades 3 through 12 to only those federally required, plus U.S. History in high school.

“This is a momentous step toward a new focus on rich instruction and personalized learning for all students. It ensures input from stakeholders over the next year regarding new plans we will propose for state tests, graduation requirements and school accountability.

“The EOIs were a noble and ambitious idea, but after eight years of shackling them to graduation requirements, we have failed to move the needle in terms of college remediation or academic achievement.

“There is a better way. This legislation helps enable a smarter and more effective approach. In doing so, we can build stronger pathways to college and high-skill/high-demand careers, and we can build a meaningful A-F accountability system that is strengthened, credible and more transparent. Oklahoma public schools are facing serious challenges on a number of fronts, but I am optimistic that great things are ahead of us. House Bill 3218 helps pave the way for promising things on the horizon. And in the midst of a budgetary crisis impacting the entire state, there is no better time to dispense with these tests of dubious value.”

May 13, 2016 - The Diocese of Tulsa - her priests and deacons, her religious and her lay faithful - give thanks to God and rejoice that His Holiness Pope Francis has named Father David Konderla, 55, as the fourth Bishop of Tulsa.Bishop

Bishop-Elect Konderla is the second of twelve children, the son of David and the late Ann Konderla. He grew up in Bryan, Texas; graduated from Bryan High School in 1978 and worked for several years as a machinist before entering the seminary in 1985. He was ordained on June 3, 1995, after graduating from the University of Dallas in 1989 and having earned a Masters of Divinity from the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary's Seminary, in Houston.

Father Konderla served at St. Louis Parish in Austin and St. Luke's Parish in Temple before his assignment as associate pastor of St. Mary's in College Station. After four years there, he was named the Vocation Director for the Diocese of Austin, where he served the diocese another four years returning to St. Mary's as pastor and Director of Campus Ministry in August 2005. Other diocesan assignments include: member, priests’ personnel board, 2004-2011; member, vocations team, 2006; member, presbyteral council (2008-present) and interim presbyteral council (2010); member, College of Consultors, Austin, Texas.

Tentative plans call for the ordination and installation of Bishop-Elect Konderla at the end of June, at which time he will replace Bishop Edward Slattery, who turned 75 last August 11. Of his successor Bishop Slattery said: “Today with the announcement of my successor as the Bishop of Tulsa, Bishop-Elect David Konderla, my heart turns to Christ with sentiments of gratitude and joy for his constant Presence in my life and in the life of the Church. My prayer of petition to God the Father is for the good health and spiritual strength of the new Bishop. I know our people have been praying that Pope Francis would send us an energetic and prayerful man to be our shepherd, and I believe God has heard our prayer.”

Bishop-Elect Konderla will be at Catholic Charities Padre Pio Helping Center, 2450 North Harvard Avenue, Tulsa, assisting in the distribution of food from 11:40 a.m. and the press is invited. A press conference with questions and answers will follow at 12 noon. Unfortunately because of time restraints, there will be no individual interviews today but if you would like to arrange one, please feel free to contact Msgr. Pat. Brankin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 918-307-4955.

FrCharles(Shawnee, Okla. – May 6, 2016) Rev. Don Wolf, Chairman of the Board of Directors for St. Gregory’s University, and Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B., St. Gregory’s University Chancellor, have named Father Charles Buckley, OSB, as acting President/CEO.

Fr. Charles is a long standing member of the monastic community at St. Gregory’s Abbey. He currently serves as a mathematics professor, but has served in a wide variety of roles throughout his time at St. Gregory’s, including a career counselor, dean of students and chaplain. He also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs from 2002-2005.

This announcement follows a vote by the Board of Directors to confirm the title of Emeritus on President D. Gregory Main, which will allow Main to continue his active role to advance the successful implementation of the recently announced strategic plan.

“The title of Emeritus is our way of expressing appreciation and acknowledging President Main’s countless contributions to St. Gregory’s University. The Board’s decision is intended to support the success of the University, which remains a primary focus of President Emeritus Main’s attention and energy,” Wolf said. “We are especially fortunate that he will continue to help guide the implementation of the initial phases of the comprehensive strategic plan, which he spearheaded during the last year and which the Board of Directors approved in February.”

The process for selecting the University’s new president is currently underway.

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, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. For more information about the University, visit www.stgregorys.edu.

Barack Obama is launching a crackdown on international tax evasion in response to recent disclosures in the Panama Papers revealing the scale of offshore financial activity.

In a series of initiatives announced by the White House on Thursday night, the president will take executive action to close loopholes used by foreigners in the US and call on Congress to pass legislation

Though the later steps may hit political obstacles in an election year, the package of measures are among the most comprehensive response yet to the Panama Papers revelations, disclosed by a consortium of international journalists including The Guardian.

“In recent weeks, the disclosure of the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ – millions of leaked documents reportedly revealing the use of anonymous offshore shell companies – has brought the issues of illicit financial activity and tax evasion into the spotlight,” said the White House in a statement.

“The Panama Papers underscore the importance of the efforts the United States has taken domestically, and the efforts we have undertaken with our international partners, to address these shared challenges.”

Earlier Obama, who is also under pressure to limit the flow of corporate money out of the US, was one of the first world leaders to respond to the record-breaking leak last month.

“There is no doubt that the problem of global tax avoidance generally is a huge problem,” Obama told reporters in an unscheduled appearance last month. “The problem is that a lot of this stuff is legal, not illegal.”

The initial package of measures outlined by the White House this week may not go as far as some campaigners wish, but focus largely on increasing transparency regulations as a tool to flush further offshore tax abuses into the open. These include:

immediate executive action to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and tax evasion with tighter transparency rulesnew treasury rules closing a loophole allowing foreigners to hide financial activity behind anonymous entities in the US.Stricter “customer due diligence” rules for banks handling money of behalf of clients

The White House and Treasury also called on Congress to pass a series of detailed measures they say would more directly tackle the problem of offshore tax avoidance in the longer run.

New Treasury rule could make it easier to hide money in the US, critics say

In wake of Panama Papers revelations, US Treasury is re-examining its policies on shell companies but experts say rule is too broad to discourage tax avoidance

“The treasury department has long focused on countering money laundering and corruption, cracking down on tax evasion, and hindering those looking to circumvent our sanctions,” said treasury secretary Jack Lew in a statement.

“Building on years of important work with stakeholders, the actions we are finalizing today mark a significant step forward to increase transparency and to prevent abusive conduct within the financial system.”

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