Winter storm to bring snow, freezing rain to Southern Plains

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A winter storm packing freezing rain and snow is forecast to cut an icy path through the Southern Plains as a busy holiday shopping weekend unfolds.

The National Weather Service says a storm system that caused heavy rain and flooding in southern California was forecast to produce freezing rain beginning Thursday in central New Mexico.

The wintry weather will move eastward Friday, producing freezing rain in northwest Texas, much of Oklahoma then northern Arkansas and heavy snow from eastern New Mexico to northwestern Oklahoma.

Forecasters say snow will envelope Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas and Missouri on Saturday as the storm stretches to the mid-Atlantic, producing freezing rain in Tennessee and Kentucky and snow in western Virginia and North Carolina.

Heavy rainfall is forecast for the Gulf Coast.


Kansas teacher arrested for trafficking meth

LIBERAL, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas teacher has been charged with dealing methamphetamine in Oklahoma.

The Hutch Post reports that 37-year-old Melissa Abla and a man were arrested last month after law enforcement executed a search warrant at their home in Tyrone, Oklahoma. Abla taught at Seymour Rogers Middle School in Liberal. The school district didn't immediately return a phone message.

She is charged in Oklahoma with five felonies and one misdemeanor. Bond is set at $250,000. No attorney is listed for her in online court records.

Tyrone is about 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) southwest of Liberal.


Divided Oklahoma court upholds conviction in infant's death

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A divided Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the conviction and life without parole sentence of a man for the death of his girlfriend's 4-month-old daughter.

The court in a 3-2 ruling on Thursday rejected the appeal of 25-year-old Brandon Nordstedt.

Nordstedt was convicted in the July 2015 death of the girl identified only as E.O. Investigators say the child had head injuries and died of blunt force trauma.

Nordstedt argued that his attorney failed to present expert testimony to contradict testimony of prosecution witnesses about the girl's injuries and cause of death.

Justices Gary Lumpkin, Robert Hudson and Scott Rowland ruled that Nordstedt failed to show the outcome of the trial would have been different. Justices David Lewis and Dana Kuehn wrote that they would send the case back for another hearing.


Oklahoma's new governor taps Norman man for top lawyer spot

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's incoming governor has named a longtime attorney from Norman to serve as his general counsel, adding a key member of his new staff.

Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt announced Thursday he was hiring Mark Burget, a 1979 graduate of the University of Oklahoma's law school who currently works for Search Ministries, a nondenominational evangelical Christian ministry.

Burget previously worked for 22 years for Oklahoma City law firm McAfee and Taft, including three years as managing director.

Stitt said in a statement that Burget's "business-minded approach to legal matters aligns with our vision."

Stitt already has appointed his chief of staff, secretary of state and secretary of energy and environment. The Republican will be sworn into office Jan. 14 and will present his proposed budget to the Legislature in February.


Oklahoma ag board to vote on new poultry regulations

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Agriculture Board is set to vote next week on a set of emergency poultry regulations after the state suspended dispensing new permits in October.

A key guideline in the new proposal would require poultry houses, with more than 30,000 birds, to be at least a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometers) from someone's home. It would also mandate a half-mile distance from schools and other incorporated city limits, Tulsa World reported .

The suspension of new permits was implemented largely due to residents complaining about the expansion of poultry house construction.

Tena Doan, a Colcord resident, said there have been six 66-by-600 foot chicken houses built just 1,000 feet from her front porch. Her neighbors are just 800 feet from the same operation.

"We need some things set. They've got to have some rules because it's gotten way out of hand out here," Doan said.

Residents feel the new rules still don't address all of their concerns, such as the lack of protections for churches, graveyards, parks or historic sites.

Pam Kingfisher, organizer at the nonprofit Green Country Guardians, contends the new guidelines fall short on numerous marks.

"It addresses 150 feet from a highway but says nothing about gravel or dirt roads, which is most of what we have here," she said. "It's completely inadequate, in my mind. It doesn't fix anything and is too little, too late."

Jim Reese, Oklahoma Secretary and Commissioner of Agricultures, said the suggested regulations would not apply to operations approved and funded prior to the Oct. 8 suspension.

The board would lift the suspension of new permits if the emergency rules pass through legislation, Reese said. He also noted that the proposed emergency rules will not mark the end of the issue for the Agriculture Department.

"This will address some of the more immediate concerns," he said. "It's certainly not the end. It's a step to move forward."