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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 10, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, August 10, 2023.

Investigation Into Laundry Room Fire At OCDC

A fire erupted in the laundry room at the Oklahoma County Detention Center early this morning.

The center says at a little after 6 a.m., the jail’s fire suppressions system was set off. A fire had started in a laundry cart, damaging the clothing and a rack nearby.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department responded quickly and called for an arson investigator.

The center says no injuries were reported and no inmates were relocated due to the fire. It doesn’t appear any inmates were at the scene of the fire when it started.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear, but the Oklahoma County Detention Center says in a press release sent to reporters, the clothes seemed to spontaneously combust.

Investigators are still working to find the cause.

Tulsa Mayor Speaks Out About TPS Situation

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says he’s “greatly concerned” about the discord between the State Department of Education and Tulsa Public Schools.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters has floated the idea of taking away the district's accreditation, which would close schools and force students to enroll in other districts.

Bynum says he has reached out to both Walters and District Superintendent Deborah Gist.

"They both want Tulsa Public Schools to be better. What I’m trying to get a good grasp on is, where is the disagreement on how we make TPS better, and where is the common ground there?," said Bynum.

In July, four city councilors sent a letter to the State Board of Education asking them not to revoke the Tulsa district's accreditation.

The Board has scheduled a vote on the accreditation for Aug. 24.

Report: Retail Growth Anticipated For OKC

Oklahoma City retail is anticipated to see some growth, but some older establishments are struggling.

The mid-year retail property report from OKC’s Price Edwards and Company says the city’s retail market is heading for moderate growth.

Bankruptcy news from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Tuesday Morning, Party City and David’s Bridal means a smattering of locations will close.

But, the report finds retail occupancy has actually increased - with a surprising and “significant influx” of new tenants.

Price Edwards says that can be seen in high-end mixed-use developments like Oak at Penn and Northwest Expressway, The Stacks in Yukon, Andretti Indoor Karting coming to the Half off Broadway - and a recent announcement of Dick’s House of Sports.

The commercial property company CoStar finds the nation's retail vacancy is near an all-time low at 4.2 percent.

Real estate experts say various pandemic relief programs were a “direct shot in the arm to consumers” who are still spending at the same rate as last year, even with savings dwindling.

Incarcerated Women Portraits

A new initiative is documenting women behind bars in Oklahoma through photographs.

A professional photographer is taking portraits of incarcerated women in Oklahoma.

Lisa Loftus met with women at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft.

Loftus says this is the first time she's been given access to an Oklahoma prison, describing an urgent call from sponsor nonprofit Poetic Justice that promotes positive self-regard among prisoners.

"Well, I was on a job, and Ellen texted me and said, do you have a minute? Call me right away. And she said, can you get back to Tulsa? I said what do you mean, what's happening? She said they're letting you come in," Loftus said.

Loftus will spend two days photographing and collaborating with the women to select their favorite shots.

Loftus, who is based in San Diego, says the portraits tell a complex story of humanity.

Oklahoma continues to have one of the highest rates of imprisonment for women in the country.


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