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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 23, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, August 23, 2023.

Tulsa District Sees Second Consecutive Day Of Bomb Threats

A Tulsa area school district dealt with a second consecutive day of bomb threats today.

The threats are in reaction to an elementary librarian’s back-to-school TikTok video.

A Union Public Schools librarian is also dealing with bomb threats at her residence.

The librarian posted a satirical video last week on TikTok saying she wasn’t finished pushing her woke agenda, and that her agenda is teaching kids to love books and be kind.

The video was then shared by a far-right TikTok account Monday evening, leaving out the caption about teaching kids to love books and be kind, and adding a picture of the librarian’s school bio, underlining a section that says she has a passion for teaching with an emphasis on social justice.

Tuesday morning, the librarian’s elementary school was evacuated after a bomb threat.

That morning, State Superintendent Ryan Walters reposted the altered video, saying “Woke ideology is real and I am here to stop it.”

It is unclear if Walters knew of the initial bomb threat before posting.

Another bomb threat for the school and the librarian’s residence came on Wednesday morning with the instructions to “stop pushing this woke ideology or we will bomb every school in the Union district.”

Despite the two threats and subsequent evacuations, Walters’ repost of the altered video remains up.

New Leader Appointed To Veterans Affairs

A new executive director has been appointed for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Former U.S. Navy Under Secretary Greg Slavonic, who was appointed as interim executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year, was unanimously approved by the Oklahoma Veterans Commission to take on the position permanently earlier this week.

Slavonic became interim executive director after the Oklahoma Veterans Commission voted to terminate his predecessor, Joel Kintsel. Kintsel, along with Attorney General Gentner Drummond and members of the state Legislature claimed Gov. Kevin Stitt broke the law when he appointed some of the members of the commission without consulting local veterans' groups first.

As a result, Kintsel declined to attend multiple commission meetings, and the chair of the commission claims he was later fired for insubordination.

Rural Broadband Grants

An Oklahoma tribal nation and two telephone companies are receiving more than $60 million from the USDA to expand broadband access in rural Oklahoma.

The amounts are broken down like this:

Pawnee Nation will get almost $25 million to expand access in Pawnee in Payne Counties.

Oklahoma Western Telephone will get the same amount for counties within Choctaw Nation.

And Cimarron Telephone Company will get an almost $9 million grant and $9 million loan to expand access in Muscogee Nation.

The money is part of the USDA’s ReConnect Program – a massive federal initiative designed to bring high speed internet to people in rural areas, this time in 22 states and the Marshall Islands.

The program is part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021.

Extreme Heat Puts Oklahoma In So-Called “Danger Zone” For Cattle

As the extreme heat continues across Oklahoma, it not only poses a threat to humans, but also cattle.

According to the Oklahoma Mesonet’s cattle comfort monitor we're in the “danger zone.”

OSU Livestock Specialist Earl Ward says the extreme heat has cattle eating less, and producers are having to keep a sharp eye on water levels.

"We’re checking water troughs. Normally, say, a water trough would last you two days, they’re drinking it within a day right now," said Ward.

According to Ward, normal beef cattle consume around 15 gallons of water a day, but now it’s more like 30-40 gallons. Adequate shade remains top of mind too.

The extreme temperatures are also affecting other facets of the farm.

"The heat stress on the bulls could impact your fertility rates," said Ward. "So, if you’ve got bulls turned out on cows right now there’s a really good chance that you might see a lull in activity."

And pests, particularly flies, are rampant right now from the heat.

Ward says he and other producers are keeping their fingers crossed for cooler temperatures in the forecast.

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