Oklahoma ScissorTales: Airport expansion a sign of progress
If a city is going to grow, it needs a growing airport, too. Oklahoma City has exactly that.
Stories in The Oklahoman in recent days have expounded on an $89.8 million expansion of the terminal at Will Rogers World Airport. Construction is newly underway and is expected to last about two years.
When it’s finished, the airport will have an additional 150,000 square feet and four new gates, bringing the total number of gates to 22. Plans will allow officials to add as many as nine gates in the expansion area, if the need is there.
The finished product will include, among other things, a streamlined security checkpoint, larger restrooms, a lactation room, and a mezzanine for nontraveling visitors that will serve as a viewing platform.
It also will have vibrant new artwork throughout. The “OKConnected” design by Oklahoma City artist Matt Goad will highlight Oklahoma’s history, culture, industry and weather, something Goad says will “make residents feel they have returned home” and “stay in the minds of visitors long after they leave.”
The changes at the airport will be as exciting to watch unfold as those going on throughout the rest of the city.
Cracking down on alleged prescription fraud
The U.S. attorney’s office in Oklahoma City has filed 40 counts of health care fraud against a southwest Oklahoma pharmacist. Jeffrey Scott Terry, 37, is accused of submitting false claims to Medicaid and Medicare for drugs that had not been prescribed or given to patients. Terry reportedly received about $1.09 million from those claims between August 2015 and September 2018. Terry had operated Bratton Drug in Mangum since August 2015, and allegedly received reimbursements from Oklahoma’s Medicaid program and from Medicare Part D. Trial is scheduled for next month. If convicted, Terry could face up to 10 years in prison on each count with a fine up to $250,000. Some people pooh-pooh the idea of scouring federal programs for fraud and abuse, saying the problem is minimal at best. Perhaps, but cases certainly exist and they deserve to be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.
Perhaps safety program will pay dividends
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation hopes that borrowing from the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” might make a point about traffic safety. ODOT is using a “Game of Cones” campaign to remind motorists to be extra careful in construction zones. The campaign theme is “In a Game of Cones, Safety Always Wins.” This effort is important, because 65 people have died in traffic work zones in Oklahoma during the past five years. Four of those victims were ODOT employees. Those four are among 61 highway department workers killed on the job throughout ODOT’s history. Oklahoma City’s SkyDance Bridge will glow orange on Monday in their memory. Officials say drunken drivers at night formerly presented the greatest danger to highway workers. Today, however, inattentive drivers using their cellphones at any time of the day or night pose a similar risk. That’s a sad commentary indeed.
Disappointing turnout in school board race
Gloria Torres secured another four-year term on the Oklahoma City School Board by handily defeating challenger Josh Means in Tuesday’s election. Torres, the board’s vice-chairwoman and a member of the board since 2014, won re-election to the District 6 seat with 57 percent of the vote, compared with 43 percent for Means, a college student. However, only 502 patrons — in a district that’s home to 13 schools — bothered to cast a ballot (Torres won 287 votes, Means 215). The meager turnout is especially disheartening considering the amount of coverage the district has received during the past several months over its pending, and controversial, realignment. And it’s disappointing given how important a robust and successful school district is to the future of Oklahoma City.
A difficult stretch for Joe Biden
At least seven women have said former Vice President Joe Biden was a little too cozy with them through the years. One of the accusers said Biden’s behavior should disqualify him as a candidate for president. Other Democrats have piled on, among them candidate Elizabeth Warren who says Biden “needs to give an answer.” Biden has done so — he says he never thought he behaved inappropriately toward women, but that “if it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectively.” Biden, who’s considering a run for the presidency, has also apologized left and right for his work as Senate Judiciary chairman during the Anita Hill hearings and for saying Vice President Mike Pence is “a decent guy.” As for the current flap, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that Biden join the “straight-arm” club when greeting people — that is, use a traditional handshake with arm fully extended. Biden took to Twitter on Wednesday to say he would be "more mindful about respecting personal space in the future." But it may already be too late.
Another reason Sutton belongs in hall
Selectors for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame left Oklahomans (and others) puzzled this week when they once again opted against inducting former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton. His coaching credentials certainly merit Sutton’s inclusion — 806 victories, the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament, three trips to the Final Fours. That on-court resume dwarfs most of those already in the hall. But Sutton also distinguished himself by the way he guided his team and the program following the January 2001 plane crash that killed two players and eight others associated with OSU basketball. Few, if any, in Sutton’s position could have handled such a situation with similar distinction. The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel had it right in a column this week — Sutton would do more for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame than it would for Sutton.