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Latest from Russell Mills

    Ironically, the 2018 edition of the Blue Dome Arts Festival was the largest, best-attended, and by all accounts most successful in the event’s 15-year run. But when Jo and Chris Armstrong saw the sign go up that Santa Fe Square has begun leasing spaces, they knew that was the last nail in the coffin. “That’s great for Tulsa, it’s great for the Blue Dome District.  As a business owner down here, it’ll be great for our business, I’m certain of that. For the festival, it means more construction,” Jo Armstrong told KRMG Friday. More construction, and less space. The hotel which just opened nearby would have closed off a quarter of the space the BDAF once had. And while the Armstrongs considered moving the festival, they decided it just wouldn’t feel right. “If we move it, it’s just not the same. It’s not the Blue Dome Arts Festival. It’s more than the fact that we use the Blue Dome as our office. It’s that it’s this iconic landmark that is the heart of the festival, and it’s important to be near it. We could shrink the festival down and do things very, very differently, but unfortunately still yet the festival is diminished, and it’s only going to get more and more so while this stuff is happening for now, until new things can be figured out... potentially... maybe.” Another complication is the state’s new liquor laws, which no longer allow for “low-point” beer consumers to leave the premises from which it was purchased. That means they would have had to fence in the entire festival, at great cost, and face fines for every individual citation issued. She says while she knows closing the festival is the right decision, that doesn’t make it any easier. “This has been a hard day,” she said. “I’m not gonna lie.”
  • Last year, on Easter Sunday, Heather Borsuk’s sister took her own life. She had a young daughter that she loved deeply, a successful career, and a deadly mental condition that she just couldn’t fight any more. “She didn’t commit suicide. She didn’t commit a crime. She died a tragic death, because she was sick, not because she just wanted to die,” Borsuk told KRMG.  Her personal search for understanding, and a belief that the stigma long attached to suicide may be a major hurdle to preventing it, led her to a film called “Suicide: The Ripple Effect.” The documentary tells the story of Kevin Hines, who attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and lived. Heather used a website called “Gathr” to bring the film to Tulsa for a special showing. It will be shown at Warren Theater in Broken Arrow on Monday, Nov. 19th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for “Suicide: The Ripple Effect” can be bought online at this link.
  • The George Kaiser Family Foundation has teamed up with the City of Tulsa to create a new program designed to lure workers and business owners to the city. It’s called “Tulsa Remote,” and it includes a $10,000 grant and a number of other incentives to eligible applicants. The $10,000 will be paid out over a year, starting with $2,500 to help defray moving expenses. The funds are provided by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. GKFF says the successful applicants will also enjoy a number of other benefits, including:  Discounted Rent: Participants will have the option of living in a brand new, fully furnished apartment in the Tulsa Arts District for 33 percent off base price, plus free utilities, for the first three months.  Regular Meetups: Programming such as monthly dinners and weekly brainstorm sessions with fellow program members will allow participants to build a collaborative remote community.   Community Building Opportunities: Programming and events designed for remote workers and Tulsa's entrepreneurs to engage with the community including opportunities to engage with local nonprofits.   Co-Working Space: A year of desk space at 36 Degrees North as well as programming and events, conference rooms, WiFi, and complimentary snacks and beverages.   Skillshare Workshops: TYPros, Tulsa’s young professional cohort, will offer monthly workshops to help participants develop new skills and strategies to effectively work remote. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have proof of employment with a business based outside of Tulsa County, and have to commit to living and working in Tulsa for at least a year. Program manager Aaron Bolzle with GKFF tells KRMG the hope is once they come to Tulsa, they’ll stay. “I think the ultimate goal of the program is to identify individuals who might not know how exciting Tulsa is these days, so that they can come here and get connected to the already incredible workforce that exists in Tulsa,” he told KRMG Tuesday. “I think that the opportunity for collaboration, the opportunity for new ideas that will help grow everybody’s perspective, I think is a really positive thing. For me, this isn’t about trying to attract somebody who has a specific skill set that is missing from Tulsa, because I believe that Tulsa has so much when it comes to individuals with amazing skill sets. It’s about maximizing the potential of the people who are already here by broadening their network with these individuals.” Bolzle tells KRMG that though they only announced the program hours before we spoke with him, they’d already had thousands of visits to the Tulsa Remote website, and hundreds of applicants.
  • On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns fell silent across Europe as World War I came to an end. The 100th anniversary of the end of that conflagration falls on Sunday, making this year’s Veterans Day parade in Tulsa especially poignant. Armistice Day has since morphed into Veterans Day, but the parade has been a constant in this city for all of that hundred years. On the day itself in 1918, there were actually several parades - ad hoc affairs where people gathered to engage in patriotism and relief that the “war to end all wars” had come to a close. This year’s affair is much more organized, and quite a bit bigger. Parade Commander Josh Starks with VFW Post 577 in Tulsa says nearly 4,000 people will march in the 2018 edition, with well over 300 vehicles taking part. The commemoration begins with a BBQ brunch and bell-ringing on Sunday, November 11th, from nine a.m. until noon, at the VFW (1109 E. 6th Street in Tulsa). Around the world, bells will ring at 11:00 a.m. in each time zone to mark the moment the armistice went into effect. On Monday, November 12th, the VFW will host a free breakfast for the community beginning at 7:00 a.m. The parade begins at 11:00 a.m. For the first time this year, the Tulsa Community College and Boston Avenue United Methodist Church parking lots will offer free parking. A trolley provided by the City of Tulsa and Old Urban Trolley will offer free rides up to the parade route. Visit the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade Facebook page for more information.
  • For the first time, Tulsa’s long-running annual tradition of a downtown Christmas parade will culminate in a block party. The idea, according to parade chairman Paul Ross, is to “extend the fun, the celebration of Christmas.” Some of the floats and giant balloons from the parade will assemble near 8th and Boston, which will be cordoned off for the party. Organizers say they’ll have food trucks, music, and bouncy houses for the kids. Bob Pielsticker with CBRE, a member of the Cathedral District downtown, says it only makes sense to have an event which keeps the party going after the parade ends. “We bring 40,000 people downtown, and then everybody leaves afterwords,” he said Thursday. “So what a great opportunity to provide a kind of family friendly event.” The parade begins at 1:00 p.m. on December 8th. The block party will kick off as the parade ends, and is scheduled to go until 5:00 p.m. For details on the parade route and more information on the block party, visit the Tulsa Christmas Parade website.
  • In a move anticipated by many in the nation’s capitol, President Donald Trump asked his attorney general to resign Wednesday after election results guaranteed a solid Republican majority in the Senate. That’s important, because the Senate would have to approve the president’s nominee to replace Jeff Sessions, whose resignation letter today made it clear that he was stepping down at the president’s request and not because he wanted to leave. It begins with the words “At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” and then goes on to list what Sessions sees as a list of important accomplishments by the Department of Justice over the last two years. You can read the entire letter on KRMG Washington Watchdog Jamie Dupree’s blog.
  • After eighteen months of campaigning, Drew Edmondson was gracious in conceding to his Republican foe, Governor-elect Kevin Stitt. Edmondson had hoped his name recognition, and experience as a district attorney and Attorney General, would put him over the top. But GOP voters turned out in huge numbers to create another sweep of statewide offices for the Republican party. Edmondson did well in the metropolitan areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but his support in rural Oklahoma was lacking. Edmondson also fought an uphill battle in terms of fundraising.  According to FollowTheMoney.org, Stitt outraised Edmondson by a factor of about three to one. Stitt, a self-made millionaire, also put up a lot of his own money to help put his campaign over the top.
  • All three men competing to be Oklahoma’s next chief executive spoke with KRMG at length about the issues facing the state, including all five state questions on the November 6th ballot, in exclusive interviews. We spoke with Mr. Stitt on October 15th, Mr. Edmondson on October 30th, and Mr. Powell on October 31st. We present the entire interviews with KRMG reporter Russell Mills unedited and in their entirety.  Use the embedded audio player or tap the candidate’s name below to hear or download the interviews.  Drew Edmondson, Democrat candidate for Governor of the State of Oklahoma Chris Powell, Libertarian candidate for Governor of the State of Oklahoma Kevin Stitt, Republican candidate for Governor of the State of Oklahoma
  • Republican Kevin Hern and Democrat Tim Gilpin each visited the KRMG studios for in-depth interviews in the run-up to the November 6th elections. KRMG sat down with Mr. Gilpin on October 6th, and with Mr. Hern on October 16th. We present the entire interviews with KRMG reporter Russell Mills unedited and in their entirety. Use the embedded audio player or tap the candidate’s name below to hear or download the interviews. TIM GILPIN, Democrat running for Congress in Oklahoma’s 1st District KEVIN HERN, Republican running for Congress in Oklahoma’s 1st District
  • Expired or extra medications often collect in medicine cabinets or drawers around the home. It’s important to dispose of them safely, and dumping them down the sink or toilet ends up putting dangerous chemicals into the water system. Water treatment plants are not designed to remove many of those chemicals. So the city and several non-profit agencies in the area are teaming up for a drug take back event Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The locations are: Reasor’s parking lot – 7114 S. Sheridan Road  Patrick Henry Elementary parking lot – 3820 E. 41st St. Spirit Halloween (old Gander Mountain) parking lot – 8310 S. Olympia Ave. Union High School/UMAC – 6636 S. Mingo Road Union Ellen Ochoa Elementary – 12000 E. 31st St.  You can also take unused medications to any Tulsa Police Division  or the Sheriff’s Office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. throughout the year.  Tulsa Police Gilcrease Division, 3436 N. Delaware Ave., 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tulsa Police Mingo Valley Division, 10122 E. 11th St., 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tulsa Police Riverside Division, 7515 S. Riverside Drive, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tulsa County Sheriff, 303 W. First St., 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Russell Mills

    Anchor/Reporter

    Russell Mills came to Tulsa in 1991 with an AA degree in Broadcast Journalism and a new family. He worked in local television for more than 20 years as a show producer, assignment editor, and online content director. He built one of the first television news websites in the country and helped pioneer streaming audio and video, especially as it related to weather and live news coverage on the Internet. Russell says working for KRMG fulfills a longtime dream. "I worked in newsrooms for a long, long time before finally getting the chance to get out and cover the news in person. I can't tell you how much I love doing just that -- driving toward the big story to talk to the people involved gets my adrenaline going like almost nothing else in life." Russell grew up in Bozeman, Montana then spent several years as an "itinerant musician and restaurant worker," living in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and California before finally starting college at 28 and discovering broadcasting as a possible career path. He is married to Shadia Dahlal, a nationally-known Middle Eastern Dancer and instructor, and has two stepchildren. You can connect with Russell via TwitterFacebook, or Linked In

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  • After a post-election vote fight that showcased vote counting troubles in two south Florida counties, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) conceded defeat to Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Sunday, ensuring Republican gains in the Senate in the 2018 mid-term elections, and delivering a welcome piece of good post-election news for President Donald Trump and the GOP. “I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service,” said Scott in a statement. “My focus will not be on looking backward, but on doing exactly what I ran on,” Scott said. “Making Washington Work.” Florida elections officials on Sunday announced a final advantage for Scott of 10,033 votes – that was down from just under 15,000 in favor of Scott when the machine recount began, and lower than the nearly 12,500 edge for the GOP before the hand recount started on Friday. For Republicans, the hard fought win gives them a gain of two seats in the Senate for 2019, as the GOP will have a 53-47 edge, provided they can also win a special runoff election for Senate in Mississippi after Thanksgiving. The Scott victory was a rare piece of good news for Republicans since Election Day, as the GOP has lost a number of close House races in recent days. Democrats have now gained 37 seats in the House, with five GOP seats still undecided amid continued vote counting. Nelson becomes the fifth U.S. Senator to lose in November, joining three other Democrats – McCaskill in Missouri, Heitkamp in North Dakota, and Donnelly in Indiana – along with one Republican Senator, Heller in Nevada. While 5 Senators were tossed out by the voters in November, 27 House members – all Republicans – have been defeated. Several more could still lose in the five remaining House contests which are undecided. Hanging over the defeat for Nelson is what appears to have been a ballot design problem in one small part of Broward County, Florida, where thousands of voters did not cast a vote in the U.S. Senate race, which happened at a much higher rate than other areas in that county. The Florida Senate count is at Scott+10,033, right around the margin where the Broward County undervote/bad ballot design could have been decisive. We may never know https://t.co/Gg14C1heaV — Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) November 18, 2018 The ‘undervote’ problems in that area of Broward County were just part of a slew of post-election issues highlighted by the wrangling over the final tally in both the Florida Senate and Florida Governor’s race.
  • Over a week after being publicly ridiculed for losing her seat in Congress by President Donald Trump, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) on Friday night was on the verge of pulling off a stunning comeback in her re-election bid, as the continued counting of ballots in her Utah district finally pushed her into the lead by a slender 419 votes. “Hard to see how she relinquishes that now,” said Dave Wasserman, an elections expert who has been forecasting a possible comeback by Love for several days. Still being tabulated are thousands of provisional ballots in Utah and Salt Lake counties, which take time to verify, as Utah and a number of other states slowly push their way through the votes of the November mid-term elections. The jump into first place for Love came as a judge tossed out a lawsuit that she filed – which oddly would have stopped vote counting in Salt Lake County – a move that her opponent said ‘smacks of desperation.’ “Utah voters deserve better than this,” said Democrat Ben McAdams. With the Utah County numbers posting, Rep. Mia Love has taken a 419-vote lead over Ben McAdams. #utpol — #VoteGehrke (@RobertGehrke) November 16, 2018 But the McAdams lead over Love has slowly withered away in recent days, leaving Love favored by many to win re-election. A comeback victory would be filled with irony, especially after the mocking ridicule heaped upon Love and a number of other House Republicans by President Donald Trump, who said the day after the elections that Love and others were defeated because they refused to embrace him. “Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” the President said, almost seeming to enjoy the outcome. “Too bad. Sorry about that Mia.” President Trump lists Republicans who didn't embrace him and lost. 'They did very poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.' 'Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that Mia.' pic.twitter.com/ZV7EKcWjLX — CSPAN (@cspan) November 7, 2018 Two weekends after the elections, a small number of races remained undecided – with some that could stretch until after Thanksgiving: FLORIDA SENATE – With a manual recount finishing up, and Florida’s 67 counties waiting through Saturday to deal with any other stray ballots, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) seems headed for victory over Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). This will give the GOP a big victory, and a 2 seat margin in the U.S. Senate. From a statistical/electoral/historical perspective, Scott's defeat of Nelson is pretty much unmatched in recent political history. Beating a swing state opposition party senator without a hint of scandal in a midterm… It's quite impressive. — (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) November 17, 2018 CALIFORNIA 39 – This is the first of six (or maybe seven) undecided House races. After holding the lead for days, Republican Young Kim has now been swamped by late votes coming from both Orange and Los Angeles counties, and now trails Democrat Gil Cisneros by over 3,000 votes. This should complete what is a total GOP wipeout in Orange County, as Democrats would gain six GOP seats in the Golden State. Congressional districts in Orange County, Calif. in 2016 and in 2018 pic.twitter.com/TWRQ1pPzS4 — Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 16, 2018 CALIFORNIA 21 – This seat has already been called by the AP and other news organizations for the Republicans, but as the votes keep coming in, Rep. David Valadao’s lead keeps shrinking, and some wonder if he can hold on. This might be a long shot, but it bears watching. It’s hard to fathom that Democrats could gain a seventh seat in California. We've been watching CA-21 like a hawk for more than a week now, and the chance for Democrat T J Cox to catch up to Valadao has gone from remote but intriguingly possibile to plausible. We're moving this one to our uncalled races tab. https://t.co/FeGWU7SsoE — Daniel Donner (@donnermaps) November 17, 2018 UTAH 4 – As mentioned above, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) now has the lead. This would be a big save for Republicans, who have had very little to cheer about in the past 10 days since the elections. In fact, there has been an almost daily drumbeat of Democratic victories each night since then, as they edge closer to a possible pickup of almost 40 House seats, their largest gains since 1974 after Watergate. BREAKING: As expected, #UT04 GOP Rep. Mia Love (R) has pulled into the lead over Ben McAdams (D) by 419 votes. Hard to see how she relinquishes it now. https://t.co/nfsptUdHiN — Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 16, 2018 NEW YORK 22 – This seat can probably be called for the Democrats by the AP and other organizations, as absentee ballot counts on Friday went clearly for Democrat Anthony Brindisi, leaving Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) behind by over 3,000 votes in this northern New York district. This is not a spot where the GOP should have lost. @Redistrict Brindisi lead in NY22 has surged to more 3000 votes! I see no path to victory for Tenney. She's falling further behind as more ballots are counted, that's a losing combination, a larger deficit, and fewer votes left to count. https://t.co/ae1Ny8Osws — Kevin O'Connell (@Kevtoco) November 17, 2018 NEW YORK 27 – Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) still leads by over 1,000 votes in this western New York district, with one big cache of absentee ballots and provisionals to count next Tuesday around Buffalo. Democrat Nate McMurray has been winning a majority of absentee ballots in recent days in counties where he lost the Election Day vote, making some wonder if he has a chance to win this race at the last minute next week. This is the equivalent of betting a horse that’s maybe 9-1. It might win. Nate McMurray continues to gain ground in counties that he lost to Rep. Chris Collins in. Biggest test will be Tuesday when the Erie County absentee and affidavit votes will be counted. https://t.co/f5nincKkZx — WGRZ (@WGRZ) November 16, 2018 GEORGIA 7 – While the race for Governor is over, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) has a 419 vote edge in this suburban Atlanta district, with all of the votes counted. Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux announced on Friday afternoon that she would ask for a recount. While a recount doesn’t usually switch the outcome, we have certainly seen in Florida and other states in recent days where there are tabulation errors uncovered – so you can’t say this is in the bag for the GOP – but they are favored. News: We will file for a recount of the 7th district race. With a margin of only 419 votes (0.14%), we want to make sure every vote was counted correctly & fairly. It is crucial that every eligible vote is counted & every voice is heard. #GA07 #GAPol — Carolyn Bourdeaux (@Carolyn4GA7) November 16, 2018 TEXAS 23 – Even though she’s behind by just under 1,000 votes, Cindy Ortiz Jones spent the week in Washington going through freshman orientation, but that may not work out for the Texas Democrat, as Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) seems like he’s in good position in this race, leading by 0.5 percent. Hurd’s people on Friday were declaring victory, but it wasn’t clear if Jones would press for any kind of vote review. Republicans are favored to hold on to this border district, but it was much closer than anyone had predicted. Bexar County has finished counting, leaving only six votes left to count (Kinney & Upton). @WillHurd has won by 928 votes, this race is over #TX23 — Connor Pfeiffer (@ConnorPfeiffer) November 16, 2018 Democrats right now have a net gain of 36 seats – they should win at least two of the undecided races left, and have an outside chance at others. Right now, the new Congress stands at 231 Democrats to 198 Republicans, with six seats undecided. One final note – this extended time of vote counting is totally normal. Reporters follow it every two years, but many partisans think there is something amiss.
  • Deputies say Rick Swan’s body was found in a burned travel trailer east of Claremore on Thursday. Investigators tracked down Kevin Foster, the victim’s stepson at his home in Bixby and arrested him for first degree murder and first degree arson. “He certainly denied the fact that he had been in Claremore yesterday,” said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton. “And we know by multiple sources and video that he was.” Sheriff Walton says it was well known that Foster and Swan had been in a feud.
  • A public memorial service is scheduled for country music star Roy Clark. His longtime manager, Jim Halsey, says the service will be at Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow on November 21st. Clark passed away yesterday at his Tulsa home after complications from pneumonia. He was 85-years-old. The legend was known for his music and his 24 years on Hee Haw. KRMG will be at the memorial. Tune to NEWS102.3 and AM740 KRMG for the latest.  
  • Ironically, the 2018 edition of the Blue Dome Arts Festival was the largest, best-attended, and by all accounts most successful in the event’s 15-year run. But when Jo and Chris Armstrong saw the sign go up that Santa Fe Square has begun leasing spaces, they knew that was the last nail in the coffin. “That’s great for Tulsa, it’s great for the Blue Dome District.  As a business owner down here, it’ll be great for our business, I’m certain of that. For the festival, it means more construction,” Jo Armstrong told KRMG Friday. More construction, and less space. The hotel which just opened nearby would have closed off a quarter of the space the BDAF once had. And while the Armstrongs considered moving the festival, they decided it just wouldn’t feel right. “If we move it, it’s just not the same. It’s not the Blue Dome Arts Festival. It’s more than the fact that we use the Blue Dome as our office. It’s that it’s this iconic landmark that is the heart of the festival, and it’s important to be near it. We could shrink the festival down and do things very, very differently, but unfortunately still yet the festival is diminished, and it’s only going to get more and more so while this stuff is happening for now, until new things can be figured out... potentially... maybe.” Another complication is the state’s new liquor laws, which no longer allow for “low-point” beer consumers to leave the premises from which it was purchased. That means they would have had to fence in the entire festival, at great cost, and face fines for every individual citation issued. She says while she knows closing the festival is the right decision, that doesn’t make it any easier. “This has been a hard day,” she said. “I’m not gonna lie.”