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AM NewsBrief: June 26, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, June 26, 2024.

Severe Storms Leave Behind Damage, Thousands Without Power

Severe thunderstorms last night brought destructive winds and caused power outages in central Oklahoma.

Snapped power poles, downed trees and damage to roofs were reported as winds gusts up to 85 mph and large hail tore through the Oklahoma City metro.

At its height, more than 50,000 customers were without power.

OHP reported three overturned semis along I-35 near Perry due high winds.

The extent of the damage will become clearer with more daylight.

The power outages come ahead of dangerously hot temperatures forecast today. The National Weather Service says heat index values could reach up to 115.

State Supreme Court Rules Religious Charter School Is Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court says the state’s contract with what would be the first publicly funded religious school is unconstitutional, and must be rescinded.

The ruling was decided in an 7-to-1 majority Tuesday.

The lawsuit was brought by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who argued that because charter schools are public schools in Oklahoma and by law must be nonsectarian, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School’s contract was unconstitutional.

The state’s highest court agreed.

In its ruling, it wrote because St. Isidore will evangelize its faith as part of its curriculum, it violates Oklahoma laws, the Oklahoma constitution and the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Despite St. Isidore arguing its creation was lawful through the constitution's Free (religious) Exercise Clause, the court wrote that as a state-created school, St. Isidore doesn’t exist independently of the state and isn’t a private entity - as in the other case precedents St. Isidore’s arguments relied on.

The case is likely not over, though. The court gave St. Isidore 10 days to petition for a rehearing, and it’s expected the decision will be appealed.

Zebra Mussels Found In Woodward County Lake

Invasive zebra mussels were found in a Woodward County lake during recent sampling.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation says it's the first time the mussels appeared in Fort Supply Lake.

Zebra mussels attach to objects—like pipes and boat engines—and affect ecosystems by threatening native fish and wildlife.

The agency's aquatic nuisance species program has confirmed invasive zebra mussels in more than 25 water bodies throughout the state.

Officials say once the mussels are present there is no feasible way to eliminate them.

Oklahoma's Aging Population to Surpass Youth in Next Decade, Sparking Need for Enhanced Senior Services

Oklahoma seniors will outnumber children in the next ten years, meaning more services will be necessary to meet their needs. Oklahoma Human Services unveiled a plan Tuesday to handle the shift based on input from stakeholders.

The ten-year Multi-Sector Plan on Aging includes objectives like providing more options for independent living, improving access to transportation and expanding efforts to connect older adults with younger generations. The goal is to empower Oklahoma seniors to age their way. Oklahoma Human Services held listening sessions across the state to tailor a plan for Oklahomans.

“This is a celebration. We now know what we need to do and now we just got to do the hard work ahead. This is where the rubber meets the road, where the blood, sweat, and tears are gonna create a better Oklahoma," said Jeromy Buchanan, the agency’s Director of Community Living, Aging and Protective Services

Buchanan says he hopes the plan will help to equip people serving seniors to handle this demographic change.

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