David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor on Monday signed a bill to protect children 12 years of age or younger from being placed in a state juvenile detention facility unless all alternatives have been exhausted and the child is charged with an offense that would be classified as a felony if committed by an adult.

House Bill 1282, authored by State Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa, was a request by the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA). It also sets limits for 13- and 14-year-olds admitted to detention. The bill is part of an overall reform of the state’s juvenile justice system. It passed both chambers of the Legislature with unanimous consent.

“This bill requires the state to seek other alternatives for these children who commit adult crimes but who are much too young to be placed in detention facilities,” Lawson said. “They would only be placed in a juvenile center if no other alternative can be found for them and if their crime warrants such detention.”

Sen. David Rader, R-Tulsa, is the Senate author of the bill.

“We know Oklahoma leads the nation in Adverse Childhood Experiences, and detaining our children can contribute to these negative experiences that can have lifelong effects on our youth,” Rader said. “Now is the time to reform our state’s justice system, and ensuring our children are not placed in a detention facility when there are better alternative options available is an important first step.”

Lawson and OJA agreed that detention contributes to a child’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which can have a lasting and negative effect on a person throughout their lifetime. Oklahoma children have the highest rates of ACEs in the nation.

HB 1282 also requires OJA to pay 100% of the cost for any child in OJA custody awaiting an OJA placement bed. OJA currently pays 85% of the operating cost for every contracted bed, which historically has led to high wait times. The additional cost can be paid through unencumbered funds reserved for such expenses, according to OJA.

Lawson said he’s worked with OJA to ensure young children have different treatment options than just detention with the goal of restoring these children to normal life as quickly as possible and reducing the chance they end up in the justice system for life. He applauded the agency for its work to adjudicate juveniles more quickly, to allow them to receive services closer to home and to decrease the length of stay in the state’s care.

He said these changes have resulted in fewer detention beds being needed in the state.

Thursday, 21 May 2020 20:01

Injury Accident in Sequoyah County

A Personal injury collision occurred May 20, 2020, at 10:52 AM on I40 eastbound at mile marker 297, 1 mile east of Vian, Oklahoma, in Sequoyah County. 

A 2019 Ford F150, driven by Edward Madden of Perry, Oklahoma, was travelling eastbound on the on ramp to I40 from mile mark 297.

A 2008 Toyota Tacoma, driven by John Woods of Gans, Oklahoma, was travelling eastbound on I40.

Madden failed to yield at the yield sign and struck the Tacoma. Neither driver was injured.

The passenger in Woods’ vehicle, Joseph Woods from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, was transported by First Flight to St John Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma and admitted in stable condition with head and trunk internal injuries. 

Investigated by OHP and assisted by members of Sequoyah County EMS, Vian Police Department, and Vian Fire Department.

PRESS RELEASE

OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal judge has sentenced Jeff Terry to over three years in prison and ordered the former Mangum pharmacy owner to pay nearly $1.1 million he previously agreed to pay in restitution when he pled guilty to a false claims scheme in 2019.

The initial investigation that led to Terry’s indictment found he falsified prescription information within his pharmacy’s software program, then submitted those false claims to SoonerCare and Medicare Part D for drugs that were never prescribed or dispensed to patients.

“Many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens rely on the Medicaid and Medicare systems for healthcare coverage,” Attorney General Mike Hunter said. “To defraud it, as Jeff Terry did, is disgraceful. I appreciate Judge Scott Palk for sending him to prison and holding him accountable. I am also thankful for our strong partnership with U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma Tim Downing, whose team was instrumental in bringing Terry to justice. We will continue to combine our resources to ensure taxpayer money and Oklahomans are protected.”

The investigation was led by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Audit Services. The case, and resulting plea agreement, were handled by the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma. 

“The protection of the integrity of federal and state health care benefit programs is of paramount importance” said U.S. Attorney Downing. “Oklahomans and citizens across the United States rely on Medicare and Medicaid services to maintain a healthy quality of life. The pilfering by anyone from these programs will not be tolerated. We appreciate very much the opportunity to work with General Hunter’s capable team on this case.”

In addition to prison time and restitution, Judge Palk also ordered Terry to complete 100 hours of community service and three years of supervised release. In announcing the sentence, Judge Palk cited the nature and seriousness of the offense and the need to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. 

 

The Oklahoma Medicaid Fraud Control Unit receives 75% of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award. The remaining 25% is funded through recoveries. For further information, click here: https://bit.ly/2zRQJFT.  

Thursday, 21 May 2020 19:43

Fatal Collision in Ottawa County

A fatality collision occurred May 20, 2020, at approximately 9:34 PM approximately 2 miles east of Miami, OK near SH10 and County Road South 600.

Thomas Greer of Diamond, MO, was walking westbound on the roadway when he was struck by a 2016 GMC Sierra driven by Gina Elam of Miami, which was also traveling westbound.

Greer was pronounced dead at the scene by Integris EMS with multiple injuries.

According to the report filed by OHP, the cause of the collision was Pedestrian Action.

Investigated by OHP, Miami Police Department, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Miami Fire Department, and Integris EMS.

Thursday, 21 May 2020 19:33

Mullin: China Must Be Held Accountable

WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) today highlighted legislation he supports to hold China accountable for the role they played in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Chinese government and the communist party lied about where COVID-19 originated and covered up how bad it really was for months,” Mullin said. “They are directly responsible for the pandemic which has cost us too many lives and livelihoods, all while completely devastating our economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure China is held accountable for their actions.”

Legislation Mullin has cosponsored includes:

Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2020 – Every year, millions of Americans commemorate Memorial Day to honor the sacrifices so many have made to protect our country. This holiday weekend might not be like past years, so while we keep public health recommendations in mind, let’s not forget food safety practices to prevent foodborne illnesses.

“Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season,” says Dr. Mindy Brashears, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Food Safety. “This summer may look different than most, and you can protect your family from foodborne illness and other illnesses during your summer celebrations by avoiding large gatherings, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands regularly.”

For those who choose to celebrate outdoors, USDA recommends the following food safety tips to keep your outdoor activities safe and fun this Memorial Day weekend.

Remember the Summer Season

Summer weather can be hot and humid, which means your food won’t stay safe as long as it could indoors. When the temperature outside is above 90°F, perishable food such as meat and poultry, dips and cold salads, or cut fruits and vegetables are only safe out on the table for one hour. According to a recent USDA survey, nearly 85 percent of participants said they don’t nest cold foods in ice when they serve it. Keeping cold foods cold is an important step to keep food safe and healthy, so store them on ice, in coolers, or in your fridge and freezer.

In the same survey, 66 percent of participants indicated they did not keep their cooked foods, like burgers and hot dogs, warm after cooking. Just like cold foods, hot perishable foods should be kept warm (above 140°F) until they’re eaten. You can easily do this by moving these items to the side of your grill away from the main heat source, rather than taking them off the grill entirely. Make sure your grilled meat and poultry reach a safe internal temperature first by using a food thermometer.

Know Your Outdoor Environment

You may have everything you need in an indoor kitchen to be food safe, but the same may not be true for your outdoor grill or other food preparation space.

“Now that summer is finally here, many are choosing to move their meals outside,” says USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Paul Kiecker. “Prepare your outdoor spaces so they are food safe. If you won’t have running water, use hand sanitizer or moist towelettes to keep your hands clean before, during, and after food preparation.”

It’s most effective to use warm, soapy water to wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. If you have to use hand sanitizer, make sure to choose one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Using moist towelettes and paper towels can help to clean and sanitize any cutting boards or utensils while you’re outside or away from your kitchen. Keeping hands and surfaces clean when handling food will help lessen the spread of germs and foodborne illness causing bacteria.

With these tips in mind, it’s easy to avoid foodborne illness and other illnesses during your summer celebrations. For any food safety questions this summer, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Remember food safety to have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Press Release

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published the findings of an investigation into the contamination of romaine lettuce implicated in three outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 during the Fall of 2019.

Late last year the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state partners investigated the contamination of romaine lettuce with several strains of E. coli O157:H7 that resulted in three outbreaks of foodborne illness traced back to the Salinas Valley growing region in California. These outbreaks -- two multi-state and one single-state beginning in September and ending in December 2019 -- collectively resulted in 188 people falling ill.

The investigation was conducted at several farms identified in the outbreak traceback, as well as at other businesses and public access areas and resulted in several key findings:

1.  Each of these three outbreaks, identified in the report as Outbreaks A, B and C was caused by distinctly different strains of E. coli O157:H7 as determined by whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis;

2.  Traceback investigations of multiple illness sub-clusters and supply chain information identified a common grower with multiple ranches/fields which supplied romaine lettuce during the timeframe of interest to multiple business entities associated with all three outbreaks.  

3.  The same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused Outbreak A was found in two different brands of fresh-cut salads containing romaine lettuce in 2019;

4.  This same outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in Outbreak A was detected in a fecal--soil composite sample taken from a cattle grate on public land less than two miles upslope from a produce farm with multiple fields tied to the outbreaks by the traceback investigations;

5.  Other strains of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), while not linked to any of the  outbreaks, were found in closer proximity to where romaine lettuce crops were grown, including two samples from a border area of a farm immediately next to cattle grazing land in the hills above leafy greens fields and two samples from on-farm water drainage basins.

The FDA considers adjacent or nearby land use for cattle grazing as the most likely contributing factor associated with these three outbreaks. While the agency could not confirm a definitive source or route(s) of contamination of the romaine fields, the agency considers indirect transmission of fecal material from adjacent and nearby lands from water run-off, wind, animals or vehicles to the romaine fields, or to the agricultural water sources used to grow the romaine, as possible routes of contamination.

These findings, together with the findings from earlier leafy greens outbreaks, suggest that a potential contributing factor has been the proximity of cattle—a persistent source of E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC—to the produce fields identified in traceback investigations. These key findings reinforce our concern about the possible impacts of nearby and adjacent land use on the safety of leafy green crops and further underscore the importance of implementing appropriate risk-based preventive measures to reduce the potential for contamination of leafy greens.

Because of  the reoccurring nature of outbreaks associated with leafy greens, the FDA recently released a 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan, which outlines a three-pronged approach for tackling this problem.  It describes the FDA’s plans for working with industry, federal partners, state and local regulators, academia and others to address the safety of leafy greens by advancing work in three areas: prevention, response, and addressing knowledge gaps.

Food safety is a shared responsibility that involves food producers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers, and regulators. FDA is committed to working with these stakeholders to implement this action plan to ensure that America’s food supply remains among the safest in the world.

For More Information

·     Factors Potentially Contributing to the Contamination of Romaine Lettuce Implicated in the Three Outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 During the Fall of 2019

·     2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan

·     FDA Outlines 2020 Action Plan to Help Advance the Safety of Leafy Greens

·     Outbreak Investigation of E.coli: Romaine from Salinas, California (November 2019)

·     Outbreak Investigation of E.coli: Salad Mix (December 2019)

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) continues transporting healthy inmates from the Comanche County Detention Center (CCDC) in Lawton to a state lockup. Wednesday, the Comanche County Facilities Authority, which oversees jail operations, and ODOC signed an agreement for the state to house the county’s healthy inmates in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak inside the jail.

Wednesday, ODOC transported 73 negative-testing male inmates to an unoccupied unit at North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre. The agency anticipates transporting the remaining 69 healthy county jail inmates today, including one female who will go to Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.

ODOC staff will remain at the CCDC until June 10, helping manage infected inmates and disinfecting the building. County jail inmates housed in state facilities remain under the custody and control of the CCDC.

OSU leadership congratulates OSU Regent Calvin Anthony on Oklahoma Hall of Fame induction announcement

Following Thursday’s announcement of the induction of OSU Regent Calvin Anthony into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the OSU Board of Regents and President Burns Hargis offered their congratulations. 

Statement from OSU Regents:

“The Oklahoma Hall of Fame is reserved for Oklahomans who have distinguished themselves in their service to our state. Our fellow OSU/A&M Regent Calvin Anthony is most worthy of induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame this fall. His life is one of service as a businessman, public servant, and community volunteer. What stands out about Calvin beyond his notable achievements is his unwavering character. He does what is right, no matter what. We congratulate Calvin as well as Olympian and OSU graduate John Smith who has steered our wrestling program for almost 20 years, winning several national championships and producing over 130 All-American student-athletes. Calvin and John represent the very best of our state and OSU.”

Statement from OSU President Burns Hargis: 

“The 2020 Oklahoma Hall of Fame class has a bright orange glow with the induction of Oklahoma State University alumni Calvin Anthony, Martha Burger, Terri Stewart-Forst and John Smith. OSU congratulates these Cowboy family members and the entire 2020 class on their outstanding careers and contributions to our state."

Anthony is a pharmacist/businessman in Stillwater and has farming operations in Woods and Payne counties. He was appointed by Gov. Brad Henry in 2006 and reappointed by Gov. Mary Fallin in 2013 to serve as a member of the A&M Board of Regents. He attended Oklahoma State University from 1963-1965 and received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy in 1968. His term expires in 2022.

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 34,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 100 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 275,000 students to serve the state of Oklahoma, the nation and the world.

Thursday, 21 May 2020 19:08

Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend Safely

With Oklahoma returning to a sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 situation, that means lakes and rivers will be ready for guests this Memorial Day weekend.

While social distancing and hand hygiene are still important, so is the need to socialize and be with friends during the opening of the summer season.

If you're headed to the lake, river, or down the road to celebrate the long weekend, make sure you pack a plan to get home safe.

During the 2019 Memorial Day holiday period in Oklahoma, two people were killed in crashes, one of those was in an alcohol-related crash. That's down significantly from 11 people killed in 2018. While that decline is great news, Oklahoma still lost two people last year in preventable crashes.

If you're headed to the lake or river, make sure you have all the supplies you'll need before you make camp. This will save you from having to run back to the store after you've been drinking.

"We will have troopers on the roads, in the water, and in the air making sure people are being safe this holiday weekend," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant Chris Arnall. "We want to make sure everyone enjoys the time with friends and family, but we want them all to make it home safe."

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol want to remind everyone that law enforcement is still on duty and will be looking for impaired drivers this weekend.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol's marine enforcement division, Troop W, will have all available troopers out and working on area lakes this Memorial Day weekend

“We urge everyone to consider safety on the water as well as on the roads," said Troop W Captain, Mike Sharp. "Have a life jacket onboard your vessel for each passenger, children 12 years old or younger must wear a life jacket if they are on a vessel that is less than 26 feet in length. Never operate boats or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs."

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will team up with local law enforcement across the state to put a special emphasis on impaired driving enforcement this weekend. Several agencies in the areas around popular lakes and rivers will have officers working with the ENDUI Oklahoma Impaired Driving Liaison troopers to get impaired drivers off the roads.

"We understand everyone wants to have a good time. We just ask that you follow certain rules and use common sense to avoid a tragedy that could have been prevented,” said Captain Sharp.

For more information about crashes during the 2019 Memorial Day holiday period in Oklahoma, click here.

Note: the above referenced data are preliminary and are valid as of 05/15/2020. These data are subject to revision.

 

Established by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1967, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office works closely with local, state, and federal partners to combat the increase in the number and severity of traffic crashes and fatalities.

 

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

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