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PM NewsBrief: Oct. 19, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, October 19, 2023.

OKC Mayor: Low-Cost Housing A Growing Concern

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt took part in a panel Thursday with other mayors discussing various challenges in their cities.

During an interview on NPR’s 1A, a question on affordable housing was posed to Mayor Holt and what the city is doing to combat the issue.

Holt acknowledged that low-cost housing is a growing concern amid OKC's rapid growth. According to the mayor, in 15 years Oklahoma City went from being the 31st largest city to the 21st.

"So, what we’re seeing is an erosion of what we used to advertise--and still largely do--that we are a low-cost place to live that your money goes farther," Holt said. "With the growth in population, that’s starting to slip a little bit and you’re seeing challenges from rental to buyers."

A recent study by Oklahoma Policy Institute found an Oklahoma worker needs to make over $16 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home.

Even more, workers employed in more than half of the state’s most common professions don’t make enough to afford a modest home or apartment.

Holt said progress is being made to address the housing shortage, citing a voter-approved incentive in 2017 for more affordable housing and MAPS4.

Football Coaches Facing Charges

Two public high school football coaches have been charged for separate alleged crimes this week.

Ringling football coach Phil Koons was charged with outraging public decency for using profane, degrading, and derogatory language toward student athletes from August 2021 until February of this year.

He is accused of calling students racist and homophobic slurs and forcing them to complete exercise drills in the locker room while naked.

Kingfisher football coach Jeff Myers was charged with child neglect following a hazing lawsuit from a former player and subsequent investigation.

Myers is accused of condoning locker room fights between students referred to as “The Ring”.

An assistant coach was also charged with child abuse and a school board member was charged with failure to report child abuse.

Cherokee Nation Leader Nominated For Federal Judge

President Joe Biden has nominated the former Cherokee Nation Attorney General to serve as a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

This is President Biden's fourth Native American judicial nominee and if confirmed, Hill would be the first Indigenous woman to serve as a federal judge in Oklahoma.

She recently served as the Cherokee Nation's Attorney General under current Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

Her office prosecuted thousands of cases and implemented huge changes within the tribal nation's criminal justice system in the aftermath of the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision. In addition to serving the Cherokee Nation as their Attorney General, Hill was the secretary of natural resources for the tribal nation as well as deputy attorney general.

Bison Restoration Project Update

The Nature Conservancy is celebrating 30 years of successful bison restoration.

The herd lives on the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, in Osage County, the world’s largest protected area of tallgrass prairie.

Three hundred bison were donated to the Nature Conservancy in 1993. Now, the herd has grown six times over and has a critical part in preserving the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

The bison restoration project is a private initiative through the conservancy and Geoffery Standing Bear, Principal Chief of the Osage Nation, was there when it began.

He says bison play an important role in his community and their presence has turned Osage County’s tallgrass prairie into a magical place.

“It was a wonderful experience seeing so many people supporting the return of the bison. It’s been over 100 years since they were here,” Standing Bear said.

Scientists estimate 60 million bison once thrived on tallgrass prairies in the U.S. Today, only 4% of the ecosystems are left in the world.

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