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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 10, 2022

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.

Turnpike bond approval

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is moving another step closer to constructing three turnpike routes in Central Oklahoma. The agency was granted approval Tuesday for up to $500 million in bonds, but it comes with conditions.

The OTA could be soon moving forward on the ACCESS Oklahoma Turnpike projects, but it’ll have to clear some hurdles first.

There are currently two cases making their way through the courts that could present significant challenges to starting construction on three Central Oklahoma turnpike extensions. And according to the Council of Bond Oversight at Tuesday’s meeting, those suits will have to be resolved in the OTA’s favor or be dismissed, and the state Supreme Court has to validate the plans before the agency sees any money.

One suit contends the OTA doesn’t have the statutory authority to build one of the turnpikes in its proposed location and that two other routes can’t be legally funded with new bonds.

Another suit alleges the OTA broke the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act in its January and February meetings by using vague wording on its agendas.

The OTA recently filed motions to dismiss the suits, but no decisions have been made yet.

Epic Charter School clears another hurdle Tuesday

Oklahoma's Statewide Virtual Charter School Board had initiated termination proceedings in October 2020 for the school. But since then, Board Chair Robert Franklin says, the school has taken appropriate actions.

“The big decision to separate from the management company was monumental. The reconfiguration of the board was not easy. And those were things that have been very encouraging.”

The school's founders, Ben Harris and David Chaney, have been charged with a number of counts of embezzlement and racketeering related to how they ran the school for years leading up to their arrest.

Since Epic's unceremonious divorce with its co-founders the school has reshaped itself and is attempting to re-make its image. Ending the threat of termination from the state is another step in that process.

Norman will not move forward on building purchase for affordable housing

The city of Norman will not be purchasing a building for use as an affordable housing complex.

Following the closure of an overnight homeless shelter in June, the city council had eyes on utilizing an empty medical building off West Robinson as a new affordable housing development. However, the city council did not get enough votes in favor to go through with the deal.

A city attorney said the council would have to appropriate $6.4 million of ARPA funds for the purchase.

The subject of affordable housing could come up again at a later meeting after the city council meets with the Norman Housing Authority.

Pipeline leaks thousands of gallons of crude oil into a Payne County creek

An underground pipeline ruptured last month releasing at least 42,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek in Payne County.

The Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the clean-up of Skull Creek northeast of Cushing.

Oil leaked into the creek from the Osage pipeline that carries oil from Cushing to El Dorado, Kansas. Skull Creek feeds into the Cimarron River, whose aquifer provides water for agriculture and irrigation.

The pipeline is back up and running, but it’s still experiencing lower pressure than normal.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said they’re analyzing the section of pipe that failed. They haven’t released any information about what caused the leak, but their investigation is ongoing.

Holly Energy Partners owns the pipeline. They say they’re working with government agencies and landowners on recovery procedures.

ACLU of Oklahoma files lawsuit over the state’s CRT ban

The ACLU of Oklahoma files a lawsuit over the state’s so-called Critical Race Theory ban.

The Tulsa World reports attorneys are citing the recent downgrade to Tulsa Schools accreditation in pointing out how vague and stifling House Bill 1775 is.

The federal lawsuit challenges the measure designed to limit instructions related to race and gender as violations of the First and 14th amendments of the U-S constitution.

Tulsa Public Schools has not said whether it will join the lawsuit.

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