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AM NewsBrief: Oct. 31, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023.

Ardmore City Leaders To Go Before State Senate Following Micheline Plant Closure

Following the news that Michelin plans to close its Ardmore plant, city leaders are going before the Oklahoma Senate.

Ardmore administrators get to speak to an Oklahoma State Senate hearing today about the economic challenges the closing presents. The Senate Select Committee on Business Retention and Economic Development will hold the hearing to discuss what can be done to keep other businesses in the state.

Michelin plans to close the Ardmore plant by 2025 costing approximately 1,400 workers their jobs.

Ardmore Development Authority President and CEO Bill Murphy told The Ardmoreite that there's a possibility for future new job opportunities in the market, but he said no sole employer will be able replace all the workers that are being laid off—and some projects are still years away from being operational.

In the next six months Michelin will start to slowly phase out employees at the plant.

Contractor Embezzlement Charges

The Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General is charging a contractor alleged to have stolen tens of thousands of dollars from his customers.

36-year-old Benjamin Moore was charged with nine counts of felony embezzlement and one count of pattern of criminal offenses in Pottawatomie County District Court late last week following an investigation by Attorney General Genter Drummond’s Consumer Protection Unit.

The investigation began in September 2022 after the AG’s office received several complaints about Moore’s business dealings.

Moore is alleged to have taken a total of nearly $85,000 from nine customers for construction projects that were never completed.

The charges come with the potential of several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Former Tulsa School Official Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud

A former public school official in Tulsa accused of embezzlement has pled guilty in federal court.

Devin Fletcher, who previously served as the chief learning and talent officer for Tulsa Public Schools, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

While working for TPS, Fletcher says he and another unnamed person created fake documents, including invoices and purchase orders, to defraud the district and the nonprofit Foundation for Tulsa Schools.

Clint Johnson, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, estimates a loss to both entities of more than $600,000.

Fletcher is on bond pending sentencing. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines in the hundreds of thousands.

State Park Funding

There is a growing need for infrastructure at state parks across Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department predicts $350 million in needed capital repairs.

A recent study organized by Republican State Representative Tammy Townley shows recreation and tourism is the state’s third largest economic driver.

The study also found the infrastructure for tourists to enjoy state parks in Oklahoma, like cabins, campgrounds, and restrooms are in need of major repair.

Townley says the state could invest more in park maintenance.

“We've got multiple places within our state system that are truly just flat out dilapidated. They need water wells. We want our our cabins to be the best," said Townley.

The lawmaker says $350 million could be spread throughout 8-10 years. According to the study, immediate funding of $50 million could allow the department to address critical maintenance needs over the next year.

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