After careful review, these are our favorite stories of 2018 as selected by the staff of The Frontier and our readers.
* Tulsa’s Amazon offer
After more than a year of trying, The Frontier was finally able to get Tulsa’s secret offer to Amazon to try and lure its second headquarters here.
* Former Mayes County deputy who headed anti-drug unit had been previously disciplined for meth use
This was one of those stories that got stranger and stranger the more I kept digging on it. Even though the district attorney’s office and the sheriff knew that the deputy had faced disciplinary action before for testing positive for meth, he was still chosen to head the county’s drug interdiction unit.
*Gatesway says state budget cuts caused its financial woes. Documents show the problems run far deeper
The Frontier spent a month piecing together documents on Gatesway’s financial problems. We found Gatesway quickly fell from steady financial footing and tumbled into debts so unmanageable its leaders began frantically liquidating assets, laying off employees and picking off clients they deemed “unprofitable” just to pay its bills.
*Witnesses say Corey Atchison isn’t a killer. Will their testimony set him free?
Corey Atchison was convicted of first-degree murder in 1991. Witnesses say he didn’t kill James Lane. Some key witnesses were never called to testify at Atchison’s trial. Atchison is asking a judge to overturn the conviction. His case comes about two years after his younger brother was set free for a murder he didn’t commit.
*Abuse of power allegations levied at judge who ordered woman to jail for talking in court
Judge Curtis DeLapp resigned after it was revealed he had ordered people to jail for minor offenses such as eating sunflower seeds and talking in court. The Frontier broke the story, which gained national attention.
*Survivors of Oklahoma City bombing left with questions about how money from disaster fund was distributed
Reporting this piece, I was struck with how a tragedy has no ending. The 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building continues to touch every moment of survivors’ lives.
*Alleged embezzlement caught at Broken Arrow nonprofit, but records show the wrong woman was charged with the crime
Cliff stumbled on this story while we were all working on our aforementioned Gatesway investigation. He heard that some embezzlement had bee discovered, so he did some digging. When the charge was filed he sat in our office and said that he didn’t feel right, that it seemed like they had charged the wrong woman. Imagine her surprise when Cliff tracked her down at home and informed her that although she had nothing to do with Gatesway or the alleged embezzlement, she was wanted for the crime anyway.
*Prior spousal assault allegations surface against Gov. Fallin cabinet member
This story was literally years in the making. The first records I got back about that night where state Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger allegedly choked his wife were in 2016, but they were bare and not enough to go on without other information that the City of Tulsa was not forthcoming with. Two years later, as Doerflinger had been named Health Department Commissioner (despite lacking the statutory requirements for the job) I decided to put myself back to work. One afternoon I finally got the records I needed, we published this story later that evening, and by the following morning Doerflinger had resigned from all of his state jobs.
*‘Contaminated, totally:’ A tour of Tar Creek
For the most part, Tar Creek is considered a lost cause by state environmental officials.
*The Meat Man v. The State of Oklahoma
Laverne Berryhill died in prison for stealing $52 worth of meat from an Oklahoma City grocery store
*Oil bust helped some of Oklahoma’s largest companies avoid income taxes
When crude oil prices crashed between 2014 and 2016, many Oklahoma energy companies booked sizable losses that can be used to reduce or completely eliminate state income tax liability for up to 20 years.