Oklahoma Headlines – 2012: Year in Review, MARCH

obama at tinkerMarch was a long, full and busy month in the state of Oklahoma.  Don’t believe me?  Check out just a few of the highlights we experienced in our state!

(Photo at left by Brian Terry, Daily Oklahoman.  President Obama visits Tinker Air Force Base, March 22, 2012)

  •  Oklahoma County commissioners move forward with a plan to build a new jail at the cost of $330 million.
  • State fire marshal agent recommends the Pauline E. Mayer children’s shelter be closed if continued overcrowding problems cannot be corrected.
  • Oklahoma City concludes it’s 9th warmest winter on record.
  • Reverend Joe Carter, a former Oklahoma City resident, led Whitney Houston’s funeral.
  • “Right size” and “smaller size” state government become buzzwords in legislative culture as public officials looks for ways to streamline state workforce.
  • Oklahoma City Civic Center prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year.
  • Senator Mike Morgan is convicted of one bribery count.
  • “MAPS for kids” projects move toward completion; illustration of this was a ribbon cutting ceremony at Sequoyah Elementary school for a renovation.
  • U.S. Airforce decides to shut down a unit that employed 600 persons at Tinker Air Force base.
  • Rick Santorum wins the Oklahoma GOP primary.
  • An announcement was made that Garth Brooks would be among the next inductees into the County Music Fall of Fame.
  • Audit reveals that $2.3 million was spent by the Department of Education through slush funds, mostly under the watch of former Superintendent Sandy Garrett. Current Education officials also used foundation funds for questionable expenses.
  • OU students petition Boren for gender-neutral housing.
  • New report cites addiction costs Oklahoma $7.2 billion per year. Follow up report show that overdoses of prescription pain and anxiety medications take more Oklahoma lives each year than car crashes. Further, a second report showed that drug abuse costs U.S. employers a whopping $276 billion per year.
  • Barry Switzer states he’s worked with a movie producer on a potential biography film.
  • Religious artifacts collection owned by the Green family (Hobby Lobby owners) is on display at the Vatican.
  • State of Oklahoma report shows catastrophic storms have cost insurance companies over $1 billion in repair/recovery costs in recent years.
  • Oklahoman Mason Cook will join Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in new “Long Ranger” movie.
  • A jury returned a $4.55 million verdict against Creoks mental Health Services for failing to report sexual abuse.
  • The Oklahoma City Museum of Art celebrates its 10th anniversary with special activities and events including a 70th anniversary screening of “Casablanca.” [quoted from the Daily Oklahoman]
  • Devon prepares for a move to the new tower.
  • A State Integrity Investigation reveals problematic “openness” policy with state policies and awards Oklahoma a “D,” and a ranking of 38th out of 50for information access. Frequent delays to requests were cited.
  • President Obama makes first visit to Oklahoma to announce new pipeline plans a priority. While here, he pledged support foro the pipeline project at location in Cushing.
  • OKC Thunder welcomes new point guard Derek Fisher.
  • Two men were arrested after they pulled up to Gaffney Crane Inc. and stole a one ton crane.
  • The Oklahoma State Capitol is in desperate need of repairs, and some parts are sectioned off due to safety concerns. A $150 million dollar bond project could be option for repairs.
  • Concerns continue for the stalled American Indian Museum and Cultural center. The City of Oklahoma City pledges to pay $9 million of the more than $80 million remaining on the project.
  • A judge strikes down a “mandatory ultrasound prior to abortion” measure.
  • In the middle of a large and burdensome U.S. recession, Oklahoma’s employment rate falls to 6% – far below the national average.