January 2008

Weekly Winner
Oologah Lake Leader

AT&T Wireless outage could have been disaster
by John M. Wylie II

When a massive AT&T Wireless outage shut down service to the 918 area code for more than two hours on Jan. 7, it endangered the lives of law enforcement officers who were searching for a felony suspect – and for a state trooper who reportedly had been seriously injured in a crash related to the manhunt. AT&T’s policy barred any public announcement of the outage and public safety agencies that called the utility customer services desk received inaccurate information. The Oologah Lake Leader dug out the truth and published it. Since then, OTEMS Ambulance authorized taking the needed steps to bring AT&T under state regulations to require proper notification of emergency service agencies of long-term outages. The Leader exposed a major problem affecting public safety and started a process to fix it.

Daily Winner
Muskogee Phoenix
Parents face fines, jail for truancy
by Donna Hales

Staff Writer Donna Hales reported on the fines, court costs and other possible punishments parents or guardians may face if their child misses too much school. Hales interviewed Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore, who said schools, prosecutors and judges try to solve the problem without putting anyone in jail. He also discussed the correlation between education and crime, adding many criminal defendants have not finished high school. The article reported that during the semester that just ended, probably 150 to 200 Muskogee Public School students out of about 6,000 had problems with unexcused absences.