$3.9M project to address obesity in rural eastern Oklahoma

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State University has a $3.9 million plan to address obesity in two rural counties, one of which includes the town with the lowest life expectancy in the U.S.

The Curbing Obesity program will use a five-year federal grant to offer cooking classes and distribute healthy food options in Muskogee and Adair counties in eastern Oklahoma, The Tulsa World reported .

More than 40 percent of residents in those counties are obese. Stilwell in Adair County has the lowest life expectancy in the country, with residents living an average of just 56.3 years.

The university's Center for Health Systems Innovation will run the program in partnership with local organizations. Primary-care physicians will be asked to identify patients at risk of obesity-related health problems and refer them to the program. Officials hope to apply the information gathered from the pilot program to other rural areas in Oklahoma, said William Paiva, CHSI's executive director.

"It will take decades or generations to see a change in life expectancy," he said. "But it starts with curbing obesity."

The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma will participate by offering classes that it says will show people how to make delicious, low-cost, healthy meals.

"Ironically, poverty and obesity can go together," said David Parrack, director of finance and accounting at the food bank. "The most affordable meals are not necessarily the healthiest."

Many families don't have a history of having home-cooked meals and changing such eating habits may take generations, he said.

"If you can reach one family, you can make a difference in the quality of life of that family," Parrack said. "And it doesn't take many families, one by one, to begin making a difference for the community."


US grand jury indicts 3 in alleged health care fraud scheme

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A federal grand jury in Oklahoma has indicted three people, including two physicians, on charges that they engaged in a kickback scheme and conspired to commit health care fraud.

Prosecutors in Tulsa say the indictments were handed up Monday against 58-year-old Dr. Gary Robert Lee and 57-year-old Christopher R. Parks, both of Tulsa, and 65-year-old Dr. Jerry May Keepers of Kingwood, Texas. Records don't list attorneys for the men.

Authorities allege Lee and Parks bribed physicians to write unnecessary prescriptions for expensive compounded drugs for submission to Oklahoma and Texas pharmacies with which they had relationships. The indictments say they then submitted claims to federal health care programs and private insurers.

Keepers is accused of receiving kickbacks on prescriptions he wrote and submitted to pharmacies affiliated with Lee and Parks.


Plane carrying Carolina Hurricanes makes emergency landing

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A passenger says a Swift Air charter plane carrying the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes made an emergency landing in Oklahoma over the weekend after a noxious smell filled the cabin.

The Boeing 737 landed at Tulsa International Airport about 4 a.m. Saturday while traveling from Long Beach, California, to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. The aircraft was returning the hockey team to North Carolina after a game.

The team's vice president of communications, Mike Sundheim, was on the flight. Sundheim said Monday that passengers could smell something similar to burning plastic.

Once on the ground, Sundheim says technicians replaced a malfunctioning air data computer and took off again after a delay of about two hours.

No injuries were reported.

Phoenix-based Swift Air hasn't responded to telephone and email requests for comment.


Oklahoma police shoot, kill man after store robbed in Kansas

PERRY, Okla. (AP) — Investigators are looking into a police shooting in northern Oklahoma that left a man wanted for robbery in Kansas dead following a chase.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says it's looking into the shooting death early Monday of 39-year-old Shane Adair Wentling after a police pursuit involving officers from the Perry Police Department and Noble County Sheriff's Office.

The OSBI says Wentling brandished a gun after a clerk at a convenience store in Wichita, Kansas, refused to sell him beer Sunday night. After Kansas authorities released details of the robbery, Oklahoma police spotted Wentling's vehicle near Perry and a chase ensued.

Investigators say police used a tactical maneuver to stop Wentling's car and he was shot and killed after he exited his vehicle while brandishing a firearm.