Randy Ellis, The Oklahoman

Randy Ellis

The Oklahoman

Contact Randy

Discover and connect with journalists and influencers around the world, save time on email research, monitor the news, and more.

Start free trial

  • Unknown
  • The Oklahoman
  • NewsOK
  • Tulsa Worlds

Past articles by Randy:

Cherokee Nation to purchase Will Rogers Birthplace Museum

OOLOGAH — The Cherokee Nation plans to purchase the historic Will Rogers Birthplace Museum in Rogers County from the Oklahoma Historical Society. “Will Rogers’ humor and his unique ability to make complicated political and economic issues easy to understand made him a powerful social critic and commentator,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. "He captivated audiences around the nation because… → Read More

Oklahoma lawmakers sound off on scathing state audit of Epic Charter Schools

A scathing state audit report on Epic Charter Schools sparked an immediate response from several state lawmakers who are former Oklahoma public school educators. Here are quotes from some of them: • Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee: “I’m not surprised with the findings of the audit of Epic Charter Schools as I’ve been trying to point out their illegal use of state funds for years with no avail.... Past… → Read More

'Deeply concerning" investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools released

OCT 1, 2020 - State Auditor Cindy Byrd on Thursday released the first part of an investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools and said she is sending her findings to the FBI, the IRS and the state attorney general. "I have seen a lot of fraud in my 23 years, and this situation deeply concerns me," she said at a news conference. A total of $458 million in state aid and federal funds has been… → Read More

Highway weigh stations closed to deal with COVID-19 issues

Four Oklahoma highway weigh stations were temporarily closed for deep cleaning Wednesday after officials confirmed that staff at the facilities were exposed to individuals who later tested positive for COVID-19. Matt Skinner, spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, confirmed the temporary closures Wednesday, but declined to reveal specific locations, citing the need to maintain a… → Read More

Emergency bridge repair to disrupt I-40 traffic in Midwest City

Traffic delays can be expected Monday on westbound Interstate 40 in Midwest City after a hole was discovered in the S.E. 29th Street bridge. Repairs will be made between 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today. During that time, westbound I-40 traffic will be narrowed to one lane between Air Depot Boulevard and S.E. 29th Street, state transportation officials said. The hole is about 1 foot by 1 foot,… → Read More

State receives $22 million grant to reconstruct historic bridge on Route 66

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Oklahoma a $22 million grant to help reconstruct the historic Bridgeport Bridge on US-281/Route 66, members of Oklahoma's Congressional delegation announced Friday. Built in 1933, the two-lane bridge spans the Canadian River and links Caddo and Canadian counties. The 3,944-foot bridge, known for its distinct pony trusses, made a brief appearance… → Read More

Autopsy says blood clot likely caused death of Black man involved in jail altercation with Oklahoma City police

SEP 9, 2020 - A 56-year-old Black man who died last May following an altercation with personnel at the Oklahoma County jail likely died because a blood clot moved into his lungs, according to a state autopsy summary report released Wednesday. Olain Jefferson Jr., 56, of Oklahoma City died May 14 after he was taken to the Oklahoma County jail and became involved in an altercation with jail… → Read More

Native Americans encouraged to use both medicine and culture in treating opioid use disorder

SEP 8, 2020 - Medication assisted treatment is considered the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder, but culturally adapted practices also could play an important role in both preventing and treating it among Native American populations. Kathy Etz, director of Native American Programs and program director in the Epidemiology Research Branch for the National Institute on Drug Abuse,… → Read More

Horse racing groups write letters opposing Kialegee gaming compact

Two Oklahoma horse racing associations have written letters to Gov. Kevin Stitt and the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior voicing strong opposition to a tribal gaming compact negotiated by the governor that supports building a casino in eastern Oklahoma County. Allowing the Kialegee Tribal Town to construct a casino in eastern Oklahoma County would pose a financial threat to… → Read More

Wichita and Affiliated Tribes seek ruling that exclusivity fees no longer required

AUG 11, 2020 - Wichita and Affiliated Tribes are asking an Oklahoma City federal judge to go beyond his July ruling that the state's 15-year gaming compacts automatically renewed New Year's Day and rule their tribal group is no longer legally required to pay the state exclusivity fees. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes contend the state violated exclusivity provisions in the compact by taking… → Read More

Gov. Kevin Stitt's attorneys defend gaming compacts with two tribes

Gov. Kevin Stitt's attorneys contend his gaming compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Kialegee Tribal Town should be legally upheld because they exclude key provisions that the Oklahoma Supreme Court found objectionable when it struck down gaming compacts with two other tribes. The new gaming compacts "do not include sports betting or house-banked card and table games,"… → Read More

ODOT to widen I-40 to six lanes from Oklahoma-Pottawatomie County line to Shawnee

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation on Tuesday unveiled its proposed plans for widening Interstate 40 to six lanes from the Oklahoma-Pottawatomie County line to US-177 in Shawnee. Construction on the first phase of the $77 million, 7.5-mile project is expected to begin in 2022, with completion of the third and final phase expected for 2027. Plans call for the middle 2.2 miles of the… → Read More

Coronavirus in Oklahoma: COVID-19 cases on the rise in Cherokee Nation

TAHLEQUAH — Positive COVID-19 cases recorded by the Cherokee Nation's health care system have increased more than 200 percent within just 30 days, prompting Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. to caution tribal members to continue wearing masks and taking other precautions. “As the number of positive cases quickly rises in the Cherokee Nation, we need to be more prepared than ever to make tough… → Read More

Gov. Kevin Stitt reacts to federal judge's ruling in tribal gaming lawsuit

JUL 28, 2020 - Gov. Kevin Stitt issued a statement Tuesday expressing disappointment in a federal judges ruling that the state's 15-year gaming compacts automatically renewed Jan. 1. Here is the full text of that statement: “I am deeply disappointed by the federal court’s ruling. It confirms my fears, and the fears of many fellow Oklahomans, that the State entered into a poorly negotiated deal… → Read More

Gov. Kevin Stitt loses another tribal gaming lawsuit

A federal judge Tuesday handed Gov. Kevin Stitt another defeat in his effort to restructure Oklahoma's nearly three dozen tribal gaming compacts, ruling the compacts automatically renewed on Jan. 1. Stitt had argued that the 15-year compacts expired on that date, which would have made it illegal for tribes to continue offering Las Vegas-style Class III games unless they renegotiated new deals.… → Read More

Cherokee Nation adds 16 bee pollinator homes to heirloom garden

JUL 25, 2020 - TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation has installed 16 new bee pollinator homes in the tribe’s heirloom garden in Tahlequah. The project is part of an initiative by Cherokee Nation First Lady January Hoskin to boost the population of pollinators while improving the environment. “As First Lady of the Cherokee Nation and as the mother and grandmother of Cherokee children, caring for our… → Read More

Osage Nation to build new casinos in Bartlesville, Pawhuska

JUL 21, 2020 - After years of waiting, the Osage Nation has finally received federal approval to put land into trust that will enable it to construct new tribal casinos in Bartlesville and Pawhuska. Near Bartlesville, the Osage Nation is planning to build a 57,400-square-foot casino and a hotel with 150 rooms and about 11,800 square feet of meeting space, according to a news release issued by… → Read More

Legislative leaders file new lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt

JUL 14, 2020 - Leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature filed a new lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt Tuesday, again accusing him of exceeding his gubernatorial authority by signing tribal gaming compacts that violate state law. "The governor has accelerated his go-it-alone brand of compacting, ... necessitating this Court's early intervention," State Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat and House… → Read More

Coronavirus in Oklahoma: State receives $51.4 million to help transit agencies cope with COVID-19

JUL 13, 2020 - The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has been awarded a $51.4 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help 20 transit agencies and intercity bus operators weather the COVID-19 crisis. The grant will support transit services in 76 Oklahoma counties, officials said. It is part of about $25 billion in transit funding that is being distributed nationally through… → Read More

Governor's attorney: Oklahoma Supreme Court lacks authority to invalidate gaming compacts

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has no authority to void state gaming compacts that were approved under federal law, an attorney for Gov. Kevin Stitt argued Wednesday in an appearance before a Supreme Court referee. Attorneys for Oklahoma legislative leaders and the state attorney general's office countered by arguing that the state Supreme Court does have that authority and should invalidate the… → Read More