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AM NewsBrief: Feb. 6, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.

OU researchers aim to get more counselors, behavior analysts, social workers in rural schools

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma are implementing a new initiative to get more counselors, social workers and behavior analysts in rural schools. The project is being funded by a $5.6 million federal grant.

It’s called “Project Rural Innovation for Mental health Enhancement,” or PRIME. Its aim is to fill the gaps in rural school districts by recruiting and training 64 future counselors, social workers and behavior analysts from rural communities and paying for their graduate tuition, fees and costs while in the program. In exchange, graduates agree to serve two years in a rural, high-need school for every year they received program funding.

The project’s lead researcher, Brittany Hott, says rural communities have been clamoring to be part of the program.

"There’s so much need that this is just the start, and we’re hoping to create a ripple effect once we have this set of scholars trained. I want every district and every child in the state to have access to the services that they need and for the teachers and administrators to have the support that they need, " said Hott.

Hott says the team plans to reapply for the grant when it runs out in 5 years and expand the PRIME program even more.

State of the State address highlights start of 2023 legislative session

During the latest edition of Capitol Insider, our podcast discussing Oklahoma politics, policy and government, KGOU general manager Dick Pryor asks Quorum Call’s Shawn Ashley about themes of the bills filed for the new session. There’s something for everyone among the thousands of bills. But issues related to abortion, firearm regulations, and transgender children will be featured. And, of course, education.

"Well, as usually is the case, there are a lot of bills related to education. Nearly 300. Some deal with what should and what should not be taught in classrooms. Some would modify graduation requirements. And others support raises for teachers and support personnel.," said Ashley.

You can hear the full conversation on weekly Capitol Insider podcast.

OKC Traffic Safety Grant

Oklahoma City will receive an $800,000 grant to improve safety on its roads.

The federal grant will pay for a detailed plan to reduce roadway deaths and injuries to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. It’s part of a broader Department of Transportation initiative to improve safety on roads and sidewalks across the country.

OKC had 402 vehicle-involved deaths between 2016 and 2020, the fourth highest rate of deaths for any city in the nation.

The city has more than 3,500 miles worth of streets.

The plan will take a year and a half to complete and officials will invite public comment as it shapes how OKC improves infrastructure in the future.

Native Athletes Hall of Fame

Two Indigenous Oklahomans are set to be inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.

Ask any baseball fan: who's the greatest catcher of all time? They'll say Johnny Bench. Bench is a Choctaw Citizen who grew up in Binger and played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967-1983 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Cherokee Citizen Sam Bradford played for nine years in the National Football League for the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings after winning the Heisman trophy while at the University of Oklahoma.

Both will be inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in April at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. The hall is set to move to OKC from its current location at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

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