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PM NewsBrief: Sept. 6, 2022

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.

Coalition of research centers receive grant

A coalition of biotechnology research centers led by the Oklahoma City Economic Development Foundation is receiving a $35 million grant from President Biden’s Build Back Better Challenge.

The Cluster is one of 21 winners receiving grants through the ARPA-funded program, which focuses on projects that bolster economic transformation and competitiveness.

It plans to use the money to expand the region’s clinical trials center to include more disease types and patients served - with a special focus on Indigenous communities - an OKBioStart program to launch and grow biotech startups in the region, and a bioprocessing core facility and workforce program to scale up the region’s biomanufacturing.

It will also go toward building the Oklahoma Center for Development Therapeutics, with the goal of attracting leading scientists to the area and supporting pharmaceutical development.

In the last 20 years, biotech employment around the Greater Oklahoma City area has grown 25 percent, and research and development has more than doubled.

In a Twitter announcement, the city’s mayor, David Holt, says the grant will be a “catalyst for OKC’s biotech sector.”

Former Norman High teacher faces harassment

Summer Boismier told Fox 25 she has been doxed and harassed online amid controversy surrounding her sharing of a QR code to banned books.

She says she’s moving out of her home in the wake of Secretary of Education and GOP State Superintendent candidate Ryan Walters’ letter calling for her to have her teaching license revoked.

It’s just the latest development in a controversy around what can and can’t be taught in the classroom.

On the campaign trail, Walters has said he will call for revoking licenses of teachers like Boismier in the future.

“The state superintendent can take those away. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have been doing that. I will be doing that."

The state superintendent doesn’t really have that authority, though the state board can revoke licenses. It has historically been for committing serious crimes, not sharing QR codes.

Officials recommend boiling water in areas around Lake Eufaula State Park and Checotah in rural eastern Oklahoma

Leaky pipes caused some disruptions for water customers around Lake Eufaula heading into the holiday weekend and officials are still recommending caution.

After relying on the 230,000 gallons in their water tower, McIntosh County’s Rural Water District #9 ran out of water. So did the City of Checotah and areas around the lake.

Officials found and repaired large leaks to get the system back up and running, but residents may still experience lower water pressures than normal as the pipes refill. The Rural Water District recommends that its customers boil their water just to be safe after such a major disruption to the system.

The district plans to submit water samples for testing this week and should know for sure whether the water is safe to drink by Friday.

OKC Apple union

Employees at one of Oklahoma’s two Apple stores have filed a petition to join a union.

Bloomberg reports employees of the Apple store in Oklahoma City’s Penn Square Mall filed a petition to join the Communications Workers of America union.

According to the CWA, about 70% of the store’s eligible workers signed up.

An Apple store in Maryland was the first to unionize in June, joining the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees.

This follows a recent resurgence of the labor movement across the country and in the state, particularly in the retail and service industries. Several Starbucks locations petitioned for unions and won their elections in Oklahoma earlier this year.

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