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2018: FOX23's Top Local Stories of the Year
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2018: FOX23's Top Local Stories of the Year

2018: FOX23's Top Local Stories of the Year
Photo Credit: � 2018 Cox Media Group.

2018: FOX23's Top Local Stories of the Year

Take a look back at some of the most-read local stories of 2018 on FOX23.com.

 


 

1. 9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri

A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, killed 17 people July 19, including the boat’s operator and nine members of an Indiana family, according to authorities. Fourteen other people were injured.

2. Officials arrest suspect in Oklahoma girls 1999 disappearance

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were 16 years old in 1999, when they planned a sleepover to celebrate Freeman's birthday. Officials named and arrested a suspect in April 2018.

3. Coverage of Oklahoma's teacher walkout

A statewide teacher walkout dominated local headlines in early 2018. It ended with Gov. Mary Fallin signing a bill to provide a pay raise for teachers, though not all demands were met.

4. Mother charged in shooting death of teen son, daughter in Beggs

A shooting that killed two children and injured another shocked the small community of Beggs this fall.

5. One killed in accident at Big Meat Run

One person was killed in a rollover crash at the Big Meat Run off-road event in Disney last March, according to Grand River Dam Authority police.

6. Tulsa police release arrest video of woman accused of stabbing daughter

An Amber Alert that lasted nearly 24 hours resulted in the arrest of a woman accused of running away with, and stabbing, her 11-year-old daughter in Tulsa.

7. Oklahoma parent finds Blake Shelton's name in daughter's 1980s-era textbook

An Oklahoma parent took to Facebook to voice her concerns after she claimed to have learned that her daughter was using the same school textbook country music star Blake Shelton used decades earlier.

8. Broken Arrow's Rose District listed among nation's top main streets

Broken Arrow’s Rose District is one of America’s top 50 main streets, according to USA Today.

9. Groups work to support families of workers killed in Oklahoma gas rig explosion

An explosion at an Oklahoma gas rig early last year killed five people in Quinton.

10. Liquor store owner talks to FOX23 after shooting, robbery

An employee of a Tulsa liquor store shot a serial robbery suspect who was allegedly trying to hold up the store. 


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  • A video posted Friday to Twitter shows a woman wearing black on her face and hands while using a racial slur. OU's Office of University Community confirmed in a statement that it is an OU student in the video, which it described as 'inappropriate and derogatory.'  The statement says university officials are following up with the students. In 2015, the university severed ties with a fraternity and expelled two students after several members took part in a racist chant caught on video that referenced lynching.
  • Hate Robocalls? Verizon is offering a free service that could help. The cell phone carrier already had its Call Filter add-on for $3 a month, but starting in March, Engadget reports that Verizon will offer the service free of charge. The technology can often spot and alert you to a spoofed number. Spoofed numbers make it look like the robocall is a local call, increasing the chances that you'll answer. The service doesn't work with all phones, but newer phones and operating systems are more likely to be compatible. You can read more about the story here.
  • Michigan's attorney general in 2016 promised to investigate 'without fear or favor' the scandal over Flint's lead-tainted drinking water and pledged that state regulators would be locked up for fudging data and misleading the public. Yet three years later, no one is behind bars. Instead, seven of 15 defendants have pleaded no contest to misdemeanors, some as minor as disrupting a public meeting. Their records eventually will be scrubbed clean. That has angered some people in Flint who believe key players who could have prevented the lead disaster are getting off easy. Four of five people at the state Department of Environmental Quality who were on the front line of the crisis have struck deals. The remaining cases mostly center on a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease and early disastrous decisions to use water from the Flint River. 'I'm furious — absolutely furious,' said LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four who is credited with exposing the lead contamination. 'It's a slap in the face to every victim in the city of Flint.' Walters, 40, said she was repeatedly brushed off by the Department of Environmental Quality, known as DEQ, even as she confronted officials with bottles of brown water. She testified in Congress after then-Gov. Rick Snyder in 2015 finally acknowledged the lead mess, and she later was honored with an international prize for grassroots environmental activism. 'Instead of people being held accountable, they're getting a free pass,' Walters said. 'The fact remains there wouldn't have been a problem with the lead and the legionella if the water had been treated properly, if MDEQ would have done their job.' Flint was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. While waiting for a new pipeline to bring water from Lake Huron, the majority-black city of 100,000 pulled water from a river in 2014-15 without treating it to reduce corrosive effects on old pipes. Lead infected the distribution system in Flint, where 41 percent of residents are classified by the government as living in poverty. Due to poor finances, Flint was being run by financial managers appointed by the governor. The uproar over water quality reached a peak by fall 2015 when a doctor reported high levels of lead in children, which can cause brain damage. The water no longer comes from the river and has significantly improved, but some residents are so distrusful that they continue to use bottled water. Liane Shekter Smith, who was fired as head of Michigan's drinking water office, was charged with misconduct in office and neglect of duty. Special prosecutor Todd Flood later put her on notice that he would pursue an involuntary manslaughter charge, arguing that she could have shut down the Flint water plant and reduced the threat of legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires'. But charges were dropped on Jan. 7 in exchange for a no-contest plea to an obscure misdemeanor that will not result in any jail time: disturbance of a lawful meeting. She had declined to accept a report about water quality from Walters and others. Two other key agency employees, Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, made deals on Dec. 26. All three will have their records erased if they cooperate with Flood. Shekter Smith wanted 'to put some closure on this matter,' attorney Brian Morley said of her plea agreement. 'Criminal charges weren't warranted.' State Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint, who runs his water through a filter, said he's listened to frustrated residents. 'At the beginning there was a feeling of good, someone is going to be held accountable. Now people don't believe anyone is going to be held accountable,' he said. The outcome so far is different than the dramatic scene in 2016 when Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican who was poised to run for governor, traveled to Flint to announce felony charges against Prysby, a DEQ engineer, and Busch, a DEQ regional supervisor. 'Mr. Busch and Mr. Prysby misled federal and local authorities, regulatory officials, and failed to provide safe and clean water to families of Flint,' Schuette declared at that time. 'When we prove these allegations — and we will — Mr. Busch and Mr. Prysby will be facing five years in prison for this count alone.' Andy Arena, a Flint water investigator and former head of the FBI in Detroit, believes the plea deals are appropriate. 'There are culpable folks out there that we need to get to,' he said. 'This is how it works: You cut deals with certain people to move the case up the line. I believe these people have some information that could significantly assist in our ongoing investigation.' Schuette, who lost the governor's race and is out of public office, said: 'I stand with Andy,' referring to Arena. Flood declined to comment on his strategy. The new attorney general, Dana Nessel, has asked a Detroit-area prosecutor to review the remaining cases , including involuntary manslaughter charges against Nick Lyon, the former head of the Michigan health department who has been ordered to trial. Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public in a timely manner about the Legionnaires' outbreak, which has been linked to foul water and at least 12 deaths. Dr. Eden Wells, who was Michigan's chief medical executive, also is facing an involuntary manslaughter trial, although both cases are tied up in appeals by aggressive defense teams. Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley, who were state-appointed emergency managers when Flint was using river water, are also charged. They're accused of being obsessed with saving money instead of protecting residents. All have pleaded not guilty. ___ Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap
  • After yet another day which featured no hints of progress in ending a funding fight that has to a partial government shutdown taking paychecks away from over 800,000 federal workers, President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday evening that he would make a ‘major announcement’ on Saturday about his push to get money to build a wall along the Mexican border, which has led to an ongoing standoff with Democrats in Congress. “I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown,” the President wrote on Twitter, giving no details about what he might announce. With no indications that Democrats in Congress are ready to give in on their opposition to a border wall, some Republicans have continued to urge the President to declare a ‘national emergency’ under existing laws, and move money around in the military’s budget to build a wall. I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019 “He ought to go ahead and declare an emergency, and it would be over,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). “I don’t know why he is reluctant to do that.” Inhofe – who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee – said Thursday that he would not oppose the President dipping into military construction funds to build the wall, though other Republicans have publicly opposed the idea. Democrats on Friday also pressed the Department of Homeland Security on another front – using eminent domain to take land away from landowners, in order to build the way – focusing on a case involving the Catholic Church in Texas, which owns land that the Trump Administration wants. “The federal government must exercise extreme caution when seizing private property,” wrote Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer to the Homeland Security Secretary. To @SecNielsen: The Trump Administration’s lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, raises important questions on the exercise of eminent domain to build a border wall. We ask you to respond to these questions by January 31: pic.twitter.com/MXcfoQib9E — Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 18, 2019 The President has asked for $5.7 billion in border security money for both fencing and a wall; Democrats in Congress have offered $1.6 billion – the original requests of the Trump Administration and Republicans – but Democrats want none of that to go to the wall.
  • A Tennessee elementary school is making sure that all students are able to come to class with clean clothes no matter where they live, or what they do or do not have access to. Copper Ridge Elementary School officials said some students are living on old farms, motels and other transitional housing or even campgrounds, WBIR reported. Many families, district officials have found out, do not have access to washers and dryers.  Principal Jennifer Atkins first converted a supply closet at the school into a laundry room after getting a grant and picking up a washer and dryer during Black Friday sales, WBIR reported. >>Read: High school principal puts in laundry room to curb bullying The washer and dryer were installed earlier this month and this week, Atkins and other volunteers started doing the wash. Students drop off their clothes at a location outside so classmates don’t know the laundry is being done at the school, according to WBIR. Atkins is looking for donations of detergent, dryer sheets and other laundry supplies to keep the program going.  “They need to have clean clothes and full bellies and happy hearts so that they can come to school ready to learn,” Atkins told WBIR.