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Latest from John Filbeck

    With concerns about the potential health and safety risks of so-called 'smart meters' mounting, even the installation process has riled some people up in the Tulsa area. John Filbeck, who works for KRMG and FOX23 as a traffic reporter and storm chaser, says the internal lock on his gate was broken and his dogs set free by installers who went to his home to put a PSO AMI meter in place. 'I wasn't there when they came to the house, but I have my gates locked from the inside,' he told our reporter. 'They pulled on the gate, and popped the lock on the inside, then went inside and installed the digital meter, and then just left the gate open and my dogs got out.' He found the dogs several blocks away, but isn't happy about the damage and the hassle. 'The reason why I knew somebody was in there was when I got home, the gate was wide open,' he said. He knows it was PSO because not only was there a new meter on his home, 'they had also left a note on the door basically saying 'we were here, and we installed a smart meter.' PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford tells KRMG that it's not their policy to trespass or damage property. 'We want to be as respectful of people's property as we always are,' he told KRMG, adding that he would look into the situation. Luci Morgan, who lives near 111th and Memorial, said she had a similar experience. While she managed to prevent installation on her own home, she says installers jumped over her locked gate to install a meter on her neighbor's home. Whiteford said he would also look into that incident. He added that installers will open any unlocked gate and enter private property to install the meters. Customers can opt out if they don't already have the meters installed, but can expect to pay a one-time fee and higher utility rates. Call PSO at 1-888-216-3523 for more information.
  • Michelle Richmond and Kirsten Allysse Richmond were married in Iowa in 2012, but they later moved to Alabama. That’s where they tried to untie the knot but Circuit Judge Karen Hall was having none of it.  Hall dismissed the request saying Alabama doesn’t perform or recognize same-sex marriages. In simple terms, Alabama never considered them married so there can be no divorce.  An attorney for the couple will file an appeal citing equal protection under the 14th amendment. 'This ruling is based simply on the gender of these two women,' he told AI.com.  The simple answer would seem to be, have the women move back to Iowa and split up there.  However, NBC news reports that won’t work due to the Hawkeye state rule that requires a couple live there for a year before they could be granted a divorce.  More here.   
  • KRMG has issued an extreme weather alert. Doing the storm, several counties in the area were under an assortment of watches and warnings. At the height of the storm, dozens of KRMG took to Facebook to share conditions where they live. Michael Wright in Owasso reported very heavy rains, lots of lightning, some thunder. Wright reports 2 inches of rain in the rain gauge. Beth Northcott Hopper lives in Prattville and reported pouring rain for the past half hour with lots of lightning. Jonathan T. Gentry  reported heavy rain and lightning in Owasso. Felicia Ramsey Christenson sat on her back porch near 91st and Memorial. She says she was watching her duck patter around in the rain. Christenson says, 'The lightning is amazing. It's been way too long since we've had a good thunderstorm.' Jackie Pippin Lane reported a lot of lightning and a lot of rain at the CityPlex towers. Keith Hilligoss with Air Solutions reported several cars upside down on Hwy 412 west of Sand Springs by the Hwy 64 bridge at 6:40 P.M. Hilligoss believes the accidents are a result of hydroplaning. At 6:30 P.M., KRMG's Russell Mills reported torrential rains and poor visibility in the vicinity of Highway 75 and Highway 20. Mills reports ponding on some of the roads. http://youtu.be/ZFQhauBVFNk KRMG's John Filbeck is reported heavy rains and gusty winds near Highway 75 and 86th St North at 5:45 P.M. Filbeck reported no hail and no rotation with the storm he is following. Russell Mills, KRMG reporter/anchor, reported heavy rain and hydroplaning in the Collinsville area. Mills was on Highway 20 around 6 P.M. Mills reported lots of water on the road. Stay with AM 740 and FM 102.3 News Talk KRMG and KRMG.com for the latest on this Extreme Weather Alert. Text 'Weather' to 95920 for up to date weather updates on your mobile phone. http://youtu.be/KHKae2dfFKQ
  • The 'Swiss Cheese Bridge' saga continues in Tulsa as another hole has opened in a Tulsa bridge!  This time it's on the Broken Arrow Expressway near 21st street.  A 1x1 hole opened in the center lane of the BA Friday afternoon.  ODOT quickly started an emergency repair operation to fix the problem, closing the 2 left lanes of the expressway in the westbound direction.  They said that they expect the repairs to go 'into the late evening hours'.
  • We are paying a lot more for gas this summer than we did last summer...about 95 cents more on average.  The average price on a gallon of gas in Oklahoma today is $3.58 per gallon, and $3.44 per gallon in Tulsa, despite lower demand and a sluggish economy. There are 11 states with lower prices on gas right now than Oklahoma.  Arizona's is the lowest at $3.37.   “Commodities markets, including crude oil futures, have been held hostage by global debt concerns since late June of this year when the spotlight shifted to the debt ceiling debate unfolding in Washington,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Today, after news that an eleventh-hour agreement had been reached, oil initially traded higher but prices have now turned lower over ongoing worry about global debt, poor domestic economic reports and a weakening US dollar.”             Nationwide the average price is $3.70 per gallon, down a half-cent since last Saturday but still 96 cents above the price posted on this day in 2010. After rising for 25 of the 31 days in July, the national average price has decreased slightly each of the past three days.   To find the lowest gas prices in Tulsa, check out the Traffic Page of KRMG.com.
  • An overturned garbage truck blocked westbound traffic on 71st street at Garnett for most of the morning rush hour this morning.  Apparently the truck took the left turn from northbound Garnett to westbound 71st street too quickly and turned over.  The driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital.  The garbage truck though, suffered more serious injuries as did the sidewalk on 71st!  Now construction crews will have to repair the damaged sidewalk which means a lane closure is in the future for folks that use 71st street coming out of Broken Arrow.
  • Traffic jams could potentially damage global business in the 21st century.  There are 6.8 billion people in the world today.  That number will likely approach 9 billion in our lifetime.  There are about 800 million vehicles on the roads.  By the middle of this century, that number could be between 2 and 4 billion.   The global roads infrastructure cannot support that kind of traffic flow.  We are already seeing signs of the future in some of the faster growing nations in the world.  Last summer in China, there was a 100 mile traffic jam that took 11 days to clear.  The average commute in Beijing is about 5 hours every trip.  In America, the average person spends about 1 week of each year stuck in traffic.   Experts say that the traffic problems will damage the global economy.  If folks are stuck in traffic for hours on end, that is lost productivity.  It also lessens opportunities to improve the world’s standards of living, and increases CO2 emissions while all those vehicles are idling in traffic.   One solution may be a better interconnected system of transportation.  Most major cities have some sort of public transportation, and many of them are very popular.  But in other areas, like Tulsa, the public transportation simply is not convenient enough for the masses to use.  New mass transportation systems would need to be interconnected globally and be more convenient than the wait time in traffic that is likely in our future.   Several car manufacturers are using new technologies to help with the growing traffic problems also.  One in the works is vehicle to vehicle communications.  If there is a crash ahead of you, one of the vehicles involved in that crash could send out a signal that would be received by other vehicles not yet on the scene.  That signal would advise your car to take an alternate route, which could be mapped by your on-board GPS system.  In theory, this technology would save you commute time and fuel.  It does not, however, fix the problem completely.  It just makes it less painful for a while.  “If we continue to follow the personal mobility model that is now in place, the world’s roads are going to become too crowded”, Bill Ford executive chairman of Ford Motor Company.
  • (Haskell, OK) – One of the towns hit hard by the storms on Tuesday evening was Haskell.  Much if not all of Haskell lost power. The damage was evident for Sylvia Harden.  The winds tipped a semi trailer over onto her husband’s semi.  She says it didn’t do much damage to her husband’s truck that she could see but she did see a lot of damage elsewhere.  “Tree limbs down everywhere.  The convenience store took a hit.” Darrell Kirby says he “hunkered down in the hallway.”  His home did get damaged.  “It was one of them turbines.  The kind that spin on top the roof.  I barely made it back in before it went through the front door.”  Kirby told KRMG’s John Filbeck the turbine wound up in his kitchen. There was a tornado warning for Haskell at the same time as the damage occurred but it has not been confirmed yet if it was a tornado or straight line winds that did the damage.
  • It's been a popular question to KRMG over the last few weeks, 'When are they going to open the ramps on the northeast corner of the IDL?'  The Department of Transportation answered that question today.  In an apparent construction or engineering mistake, the bridge clearance on the ramps from eastbound I-244 to both directions of  HW 75 has been lowered to an unsafe level.   Prior to the recent IDL construction project, the southbound HW 75 ramp was posted for a low clearance of 15 feet 1 inch.  During the final inspection, ODOT discovered a reduced clearance of about 6 inches where the ramp passes under westbound I-244, causing the ramp to be unsafe for traffic.  Engineers have determined that construction plans were followed correctly, so it's unclear at this point where the mistake happened.   ODOT will immediately begin a new project to eliminate the clearance issue and restore traffic.  They say that they will build a new support structure for a beam on the I-244 bridge directly over the ramp which will allow additional height clearance for the ramp.  The project is estimated to take about 6 weeks.   During the construction, drivers will need to continue to follow the south leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop (south of downtown) for access to HW 75.
  • More and more Tulsans are 'scooting' their way to and from work each day.  With the continued climb in gas prices, the very high gas mileage that a scooter offers is becoming more attractive to a lot of commuters.  But, how much money does a scooter really save?   Well, personally speaking, I bought my scooter 4 years ago for about $900.  To this day it still gets about 97 mpg, compared to my SUV (I drive it in bad weather) which gets about 27 mpg.  It costs me nearly $5 to fully gas up the scooter, and close to $60 to gas up the SUV.  That means the scooter saves me nearly 70 mpg each day that I drive it compared to my SUV.  At current gas prices, the difference in that gas mileages is a savings of just under $79 every couple of weeks!   On the national scale, if U.S. cities were made more scooter friendly, we could save almost 4 billion gallons of gas annually by 2020.  With the current instability in the Middle East, that would mean decreasing our dependence on foreign oil to $21.4 billion per year.  Scooters also produce few emissions than cars, trucks and SUVs.  In fact, the savings would include 77.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions each year.  That is good news for Tulsa on Ozone Alerts days.   The research was compiled by VespaUSA (who clearly have an interest in promoting the economic and ecological benefits of the scooter) and Mint.com.
  • John Filbeck

    Evening Traffic Anchor

    As a kid growing up in Sapulpa, John Filbeck knew KRMG his whole life. He used to listen to Paul Harvey with his dad every day, and would stay up late listening to Johnny Martin. He knew all of the great voices of KRMG over the years, and even got to meet a few of them. He remembers helping his dad build the raft each year that he and his friends would use in The Great Raft Race. KRMG was in the fabric of his life. After graduating from Sapulpa High School, he had one goal. Go to college, study journalism, and come back to work at KRMG. That’s exactly what he did. In February 1997 John walked through the doors of KRMG as an employee for the first time. He knew how important covering severe weather was to KRMG. So while in college, John studied severe weather tracking, and gained experience as a storm chaser for Oklahoma’s severe weather. He covered severe weather for State Civil Defense out of Oklahoma City, and for area TV Stations. He was hired at KRMG to anchor news on the weekends, and cover severe weather whenever the storms would arrive.

     

    After a short time John transitioned into covering Tulsa traffic. He continues in that role to this day. Now, after nearly 20 years covering traffic in Oklahoma, he is the most experienced, and recognizable traffic voice in the state. While covering traffic, he never lost touch with his first love though…covering severe weather in Oklahoma as one of KRMG’s primary storm trackers.

     

    John is married and has a little girl. He loves to spend time in his gardens and watch his daughter play soccer. John and his wife are supporters of the University of Oklahoma band, as well as local music programs in schools around Tulsa. You can hear John’s traffic reports every time you get in your car to head home in the evenings, as part of the KRMG Evening News with Dick Loftin.

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  • A woman was recently arrested for allegedly embezzling nearly $9,000 from a Broken Arrow Mazzio's. Police report Diana Pruett confessed to processing false refunds when customers used cash. She would then pocket the money. One resident we spoke to says Pruett is hurting the community by her actions. “It’s really sad when you feel like you can depend on the people that live in our community to be fair and honest,” the resident said.  “We’re all in this community together. “ She was discovered, when a manager noticed something suspicious with the number of returns and refunds at the store. Pruett was booked into the Tulsa County Jail and has since bonded out.  
  • We have updated information regarding a clerk getting fatally shot on Friday at the S&K Food Mart near East Virgin Street and North Sheridan. Following a standoff that lasted a few hours, police confirm three people have been taken into custody at an apartment complex near 31st and Garnett.  One of those suspects wasn’t involved in the standoff.    Police tell us the clerk didn't deserve to have this happen to him. “It’s never good when someone is dead,” TPD said  “It’s senseless.  For very little gain.” It's believed one or more of the suspects may also be responsible for a robbery at a bakery near 11th and Lewis around the same time. As of early Saturday morning,  no names have been released.  
  • President Donald Trump will use his 100th day in office to make a return to the campaign trail, holding an evening rally in the Pennsylvania state capital of Harrisburg, taking his message of change back to the familiar crowds of the 2016 race for the White House. While Mr. Trump has been happy to highlight his accomplishments of his first 100 days – he has also mixed that 100 day review with jabs at the news media, saying the measurement for a new President is a “false standard.” “We’re moving awfully well, getting a lot of things done,” the President told the press after signing an executive order on offshore oil and gas exploration on Friday. “I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this,” Mr. Trump added. President Trump: 'I don't think anybody has done what we've been able to do in 100 days' https://t.co/lww9H061kG — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 28, 2017 In a speech on Friday in Atlanta at a gathering of the National Rifle Association, the President visited familiar campaign themes, replaying the events of Election Night, and jabbing at Democrats at every opportunity. “Only one candidate in the General Election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the President of the United States, standing before you again,” the President said, eagerly reminding the crowd that few people gave him a chance to win last year. “And remember they said, “There is no path to 270.” For months I was hearing that,” Mr. Trump added, as he vowed to protect the Second Amendment during his time in office. President Trump: 'I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms' https://t.co/Gsk5Vz2iOV — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 28, 2017 The President’s choice to go to Harrisburg – the state capital – is an interesting one, as Dauphin County was one of only 11 counties to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, going 49 to 46 percent for the Democrats. Mr. Trump won the Keystone State by just 44,000 votes, as his wins in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin were a linchpin for his overall victory. “It was a great evening, one that a lot people will never forget,” Mr. Trump said Friday. “Not going to forget that evening.” The President’s decision to hold a Saturday evening rally in Pennsylvania is also notable for what he will leave behind in Washington, D.C. – the White House Correspondent’s Dinner – which Mr. Trump and his top aides decided not to attend.
  • If you have outdoor plans for Saturday, you will need an umbrella and a good pair of rain boots. National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Lacy tells us most of Saturday will be a rain out. “Pretty good chance for rain, about 100 percent,” NWS said.  “Especially, during the early part of the day.”   We also have a chance for severe weather.   “The main threat should begin to shift to the east and south of Tulsa,” NWS said.   The high for Saturday will be around 73 degrees. There is also rain in the forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.  
  • Police were called to a the S&K Food Mart Friday evening near Virgin St. and Sheridan. Police tell FOX23 the clerk was hit and killed. No one else inside the store was injured. No word yet on the clerk’s identity or any suspect information. Tune to NEWs102.3 and AM740 KRMG for updates.