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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 29, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, August 29, 2023.

Bomb Threats Expand Across State

Bomb threats originally targeting Tulsa-area Union Public Schools have expanded across the state.

The latest threats are related to an elementary librarian’s TikTok video altered by a far-right account and shared by the state’s highest education official.

Union saw nearly a full week of bomb threats last week, and the district says they’ve received additional threats since, this time targeting areas outside of the district, like stores, malls, police stations and highways.

A Union spokesperson says they’re in constant contact with police and FBI regarding the ongoing threats, and none of them have been found to be credible.

Tuesday morning, another threat came in, with the subject line saying “Bombs have been placed at Moore,” though the email itself only references Union.

“We sent Union public schools a warning and they chose to ignore us.”

A Moore Public Schools spokesperson says the district has not received any threats.

This is all in response to a Union librarian’s TikTok video that said her woke agenda was teaching kids to love books and be kind.

It was altered by a far-right account and then shared by State Superintendent Ryan Walters. Though he released a statement last week saying the threats were “reprehensible and absolutely unacceptable,” Walters’ post of the altered video is still up.

OKCPS Rolls Out New Security Protocols

Oklahoma City Public Schools is increasing safety measures in response to Friday’s deadly shooting at a Choctaw High School football game.

The district says it will start using its new Weapons Detection System and security officers will be present at all athletic events.

Director of Security for OKCPS Wayland Cubit said a new bag policy will also be in place.

“We’re also going to go to a no bag policy. So, no backpacks, no duffle bags, any of that kind of stuff. Only small purses and clutches will be allowed,” Cubit said at a Tuesday news conference.

Cubit said school administrators will be assigned to sporting event entrances to monitor attendees.

Other school districts in the metro are also rolling out new security protocols.

Residents Voice Concern Over Potential Site For New Oklahoma County Jail

Some Northeast OKC residents are unhappy with the potential donation of a parcel of land in the area for the new Oklahoma County jail.

The land, owned by Bergen Real Estate LLC, was offered to the county as a cost-free option for the city to replace its troubled county jail.

Rev. Major Jemison is a senior pastor for St. John Missionary Baptist in Oklahoma City. His church could be less than three miles down the street from the jail.

He told The Oklahoman the land at the corner of N Kelley Ave. and Britton Road is not an appropriate place for the jail because of its close proximity to Harding Charter Preparatory High School. Other residents said they would like to see homes built there instead.

The Bergen property is just one of an additional seven added to the list of potential locations, bringing the total to 13 locations the Citizens Bond Oversight Advisory Board and the jail's architect are considering as potential places for the new county jail.

Opioid Abatement Grants

The state has been awarded almost a billion dollars to counteract the impact from the opioid epidemic via litigation against drug companies. Some of that money will be awarded to communities through grants.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says the Oklahoma Opioid Abatement Board will begin awarding $23 million to eligible groups. Those can include Oklahoma counties, public school districts and more. The eligible groups will have to apply for consideration.

This is the first time the board will distribute funds. The board has nine-members, including the AG, who award grants using opioid lawsuit settlement funds. Drummond says the money will help counteract the opioid crisis by creating treatment and recovery programs, opioid education and prevention efforts, and other ways too.

The total number of awarded grants and amounts recipients will get, will be determined later.

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