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#FeaturedFour: Rural Hospitals, Prisoner’s Pups, SCOTUS And Oklahoma City Bombing Anniversary

Inmates walk their training dogs at Mabel Bassett Correction Center in McLoud.
Kate Carlton Greer
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KGOU
Inmates walk their training dogs at Mabel Bassett Correction Center in McLoud.

Four stories that were trending or generated discussion online or on KGOU’s social media platforms during the past week.

Like every state agency, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections faces significant budget cuts due to the two revenue failures this fiscal year, and a $1.3 billion shortfall starting July 1. But there is one program within the state’s prison system Corrections leaders are interested in expanding – the Guardian Angels dog rehabilitation program. For several weeks, an inmate at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud will take an abandoned or unadoptable dog under her care, and train it until the animal can go to a new home.’
Reader Zachary Hadden writes on Facebook: “Dogs can teach us a lot.”

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland speaks at Timothy McVeigh's first presentment hearing at Tinker Air Force Base on April 21, 1995.
Credit Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
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Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland speaks at Timothy McVeigh's first presentment hearing at Tinker Air Force Base on April 21, 1995.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg spent three days in Oklahoma City earlier this month to talk with colleagues, reporters, and others affected by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building to gather their thoughts about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The federal judge was a top official in the U.S. Department of Justice 21 years ago, and he led the government’s investigation of the terrorist attack and the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh. Totenberg found few people with anything negative to say about the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, but his confirmation is still far from certain.
Reader Nick Jungman writes on Facebook: A great story on NPR All Things Considered today. It tells you why the convictions in the OKC bombing case were open-and-shut. And it tells you why Merrick Garland is a public servant worthy of being a Supreme Court justice.”

Mike and Mary Ann Johnson, and her daughter Deanie  Neugebauer, bought this home in Frederick, Oklahoma in the summer of 2015.
Credit Jacob McCleland / KGOU
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KGOU
Mike and Mary Ann Johnson, and her daughter Deanie Neugebauer, bought this home in Frederick, Oklahoma in the summer of 2015.

Hospitals outside of Oklahoma’s urban centers are struggling to keep their doors open, and two small-town facilities have already shut down this year. The state’s financial dilemma could lead to more closures on the horizon. Rising healthcare costs and fewer patients led to the closure of the hospital in Frederick, and a potential 25 percent cut to Oklahoma’s Medicaid reimbursement rate could put remaining rural hospitals in even more of a bind.

Donna Bucella, a former federal prosecutor, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning.
Donna Bucella, a former federal prosecutor, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning.

Oklahoma City paused Tuesday to mark the anniversary of its darkest day, and in Washington D.C., several supporters of Judge Garland’s confirmation to the high court highlighted the role he played during the bombing’s aftermath. But that upset Oklahoma’s junior U.S. Sen. James Lankford, who accused the group of fellow Senators, former prosecutors, and law enforcement agents of politicizing the tragedy. He delivered a speech on the Senate floor saying he plans to meet with Garland in the coming week, but he still opposes holding a confirmation hearing until after this fall’s presidential election.
Reader Ryan Schaller writes on Facebook: “If Lankford and others hadn't stonewalled the nomination this wouldn't have even been an issue.”

That’s a look at four stories that audiences appreciated on KGOU’s social media and online platforms this week. We’re always interested in your comments, feel free to write to us at news@kgou.org.

KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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