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AM NewsBrief: Nov. 1, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.

Small Central-Oklahoma Town Sees Uptick In Violence

The central Oklahoma town of Wewoka has seen unprecedented gang violence over the past several weeks.

According to official records, the town of just over 3,000 has seen 10 instances of gun violence in the past six weeks. The violence led to Wewoka Public Schools canceling class on Friday, and the cancellation of a popular festival on Saturday.

Sorghum Festival organizers said the cancellation was due to weather, but Seminole Producer newspaper editor Ken Childers said the city manager told him it was because of legitimate concerns about violence.

"That brings thousands, tens of thousands, literally tens of thousands, of people to the town. And I don’t know how many thousands of dollars in tax revenue, but it’s a big deal," Childers said.

District Attorney Erik Johnson said he’s met with the FBI, ATF and Bureau of Indian Affairs on the matter, and anticipates a roundup of suspects over the next month.

Kasey Alert Goes Into Effect

A new law goes into effect Wednesday aimed at helping Indigenous families find their missing loved ones.

There's a new alert system for adults who go missing under suspicious circumstances. It's coming in the wake of Kasey's Act -- named for Cherokee Nation citizen Kasey Russell. The 29-year-old went missing in 2016 while walking near his home. Law enforcement didn't start their investigation into his disappearance for weeks.

A Kasey Alert will require law enforcement to investigate reports of people over the age of 18 that go missing -- much like a silver alert for the elderly -- if there are suspicious circumstances.

The bill was signed into law last spring and was sponsored by Representative Ken Luttrell, a Cherokee citizen who lives in Ponca City.

New Law Blocks Local School Board Members From Joining Oklahoma’s Top Education Board

A new law going into effect Wednesday will bar people from serving on a local school board while also serving on the state's top school board at the same time.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education takes crucial votes on school districts’ accreditation and funding. It develops regulations schools have to follow on myriad matters, and it can impose penalties on school districts accused of wrongdoing. It's already illegal to hold two elected positions at one time.

However, Oklahoma Voice reports former state board members Bob Ross and Jennifer Monies have served on charter school boards while also serving on the state board.

The current board has two members who resigned from their local board positions in the days leading up to their selection for statewide service.

Poultry Companies File A Motion To Dismiss Court Ruling

Tyson and other Arkansas poultry companies have filed a motion to dismiss a court ruling that says they’re responsible for cleaning up pollution in Oklahoma’s Illinois River Watershed.

When Oklahoma filed this case against the poultry companies in 2005, Pluto was still a planet. Judge Gregory K. Frizzell heard arguments in court in 2010.

Frizzell’s ruling didn’t come until earlier this year, when he ordered the poultry companies to remediate the Illinois River Watershed at their own expense. After months of back-and-forth over that clean-up plan, the poultry companies have filed a motion to dismiss the ruling.

They say it’s based on evidence that’s no longer valid — pollution management practices and water quality in the Illinois River have changed since 2010. Oklahoma has until November 10th to respond.

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