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AM NewsBrief: April 5, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

Civil Rights Curriculum Advances Through The Senate Education Committee

After an emotional hearing, a bill that would require the State Department of Education to develop certain civil rights curriculum advanced through the Senate Education Committee. The bill says it represents a “reaffirmation of the commitment of the people of this state to reject bigotry.”

House Bill 1397 directs state education officials to develop a stand-alone unit of curriculum on the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. The measure outlines several curriculum objectives, like a focus on the nonviolent philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and genocides committed elsewhere around the world.

The measure comes from Adair Republican and former history teacher Rep. Michael Bergstrom.

"I grew up in a home with two parents that I loved and who loved me, but who were both bigots," said Bergstrom. "There were two things that helped me, that carried me to rise above and stand against the bigotry that existed in my home as a child and as a teenager — that was my Christian faith and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We desperately need our children to think critically as he did. We need peacemakers to overcome bigotry."

The measure can now be heard on the Senate Floor.

Rogers State Announces New Nursing Program

Another university is expanding the number of nursing school slots in Oklahoma.

Rogers State University is partnering with St. Francis in Tulsa to offer a new bachelor’s of nursing program. Students will take their prerequisites on the Claremore campus, and then they’ll spend junior and senior year taking classes and undergoing training at the hospital.

In the fall, 16 students will be enrolled in the program, but the goal is for 32 students to graduate annually.

This announcement comes a few days after Oklahoma State University announced it would create a bachelor’s of nursing program on its campus and about a year after the University of Oklahoma announced it would expand its nursing program.

Oklahoma City Animal Shelter Remains Closed Following Infection Outbreak

The Oklahoma City Animal Shelter will be closed for at least another week.

More than 100 dogs at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter have been diagnosed with an infectious upper respiratory disease since the shelter temporarily closed on March 29. Since then, several dogs have died from the disease and more have been euthanized due to the severity of their illness.

OKC Animal Welfare Superintendent Jon Gary says the shelter will be closed for at least another week so the disease can be identified and the dogs can be treated.

In the meanwhile, the shelter is asking the community to try to provide temporary housing and locate the owners of stray animals themselves. Dogs at the shelter cannot be adopted at this time, but lost pets can still be reclaimed by their owners.

OTA Authorizes Tolling Equipment For Turner Turnpike, Approves Speed Limit Increase

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has approved a $500,000 contract for tolling equipment to convert the Turner Turnpike to PlatePay, eliminating the need for cash tolling. The OTA plans to convert all Oklahoma toll roads to PlatePay by the end of 2024.

Additionally, the speed limit on select portions of the H.E. Bailey, Cimarron, and Muskogee turnpikes will be raised from 75 mph to 80 mph pending completion of several factors including PlatePay conversion and new speed limit signs.

Hummingbirds Are Back In Oklahoma

Oklahoma birders are heralding the arrival of ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds in our state.

They spend their winters in Central America and fly up each spring to nest. Tim O’Connell, an ornithologist at Oklahoma State University, says these tiny beacons of spring will be flying all the way across the Gulf of Mexico every night for the next couple of weeks.

"If you've lived through a long, hard, dark, cold winter and suddenly, you know, the ground is starting to warm up and and the first flowers are starting to bloom, and then you get these like little feathered jewels that show up. It is such a feeling of hope and renewal," said O'Connell.

Hummingbirds drink the sugarwater people leave out for them, but their natural diet is nectar and insects. If you want to welcome the hummingbirds to Oklahoma, O’Connell says the best ways are to cultivate native flowers and be judicious with pesticides.

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