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The Hop Jam: Hanson-founded festival lures visitors from all over globe

The Hop Jam, which attracts Hanson fans from all over the globe, temporarily increases Tulsa’s population.

But Michelle Gaeta is evidence that Oklahoma’s largest craft beer and music festival may have a more lasting impact on the population.

Founded by the Tulsa-based music group Hanson, The Hop Jam celebrated a sixth year Sunday by drawing another big crowd to Tulsa’s Arts District.

Among faces in the crowd was Gaetta, who said she was born and raised in Los Angeles, but relocated to Tulsa after being introduced to the city by way of Hanson fandom and The Hop Jam.

“Last year I decided to move here just because every time I came, I stayed longer and longer,” Gaeta said.

“It’s just really weird because, being from California, I really didn’t think I would want to move anywhere else. In California, there is this underlying stress all the time, like go, go, go. I love Tulsa because it’s a big little city. In some regards, it reminds me of home, but in some regards it reminds you of like a little town in the middle of nowhere.”

Coincidentally, “Middle of Nowhere” was the title of a 1997 album that went multi-platinum and put Hanson on the map. Gaeta didn’t get on the bandwagon then. She came aboard in 2003 and eventually began traveling to Tulsa for Hanson Day events and The Hop Jam.

She said this about her new home: “I love there is like a big sense of community. You go to local stores and they remember your name and they remember your order. You really feel like part of something instead of just a number and I really like that.”

Gaeta, while sharing her story, was seated next to Kirsten Kirsch, who traveled to Tulsa from Toronto and wore an S.E. Hinton shirt to The Hop Jam.

“I love her,” Kirsch said.

Hinton is a Tulsa author whose most famous work is “The Outsiders.” Meanwhile, The Hop Jam routinely brings “outsiders” (read: visitors from other states and countries) onto Hanson turf.

Ting Chen of Shanghai, China, was front and center when Joshua & The Holy Rollers performed on the Main Stage. The band features Mac Hanson, younger brother of Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson.

A Hanson fan for many years, Chen made her first trip to The Hop Jam. “I really like Tulsa,” she said. “It’s a good city.”

Isaac Hanson, who was glad his brother’s band was able to take part, paused for an interview while Joshua & The Holy Rollers were on stage. He said he was pleased with a “great crowd” that showed up for the beginning of the event and he knew the crowd would get bigger as the day continued. He has seen enough over the past six years to know The Hop Jam is a worthwhile venture for Hanson and Tulsa.

“Absolutely, 100 percent,” he said. “Not only is it a worthwhile thing for us to be able to do, because obviously a lot of folks come out. But I think it’s an important part of a thriving community, a thriving city, and I think clearly people want it to stick around and want it to be here.”

Because the Hanson brothers always put boots on the ground at the festival, the event is ripe for make-my-day encounters. Allicia Nodurfth was still a little bit giddy when she was interviewed.

“I just got to hug Isaac,” she said.

A Hanson fan since “MMMBop,” Nodurfth traveled from Russellville, Arkansas, with her husband, Joshua, 10-year-old son Corey and her parents, Roy and Sue Riggs. Three of them wore Hanson shirts to their first Hop Jam experience, including 70-year-old Sue.

Allicia said she took her mother to a Hanson concert for her birthday in 2009. It was the first Hanson concert for both. The opening act was so good that Allicia said her mother told her there’s no way Hanson could be better.

“And then they came out and blew us away,” Allicia said. “I have been to probably around 50 different concerts in my life and nobody plays it like Hanson. Nobody puts on a show like Hanson.”

After meeting Isaac, Allicia was asked if she had expected a celebrity encounters.

“I was hoping,” she said. “I had an opportunity to get a picture with Zac and Taylor this morning. Isaac completed my collection, so I have a selfie with all of them now. I am very excited.”

Said her husband (also a Hanson fan): “I’m happy she’s happy.”

Allicia and her family intended to get some post-Hop Jam rest and return home. Gaeta? She’s already home. She’s a full-fledged Tulsan now and finds something new about the city to love every day — like breakfast at Dilly Diner the morning of The Hop Jam.

Gaeta said she recently returned to California and did the “touristy thing” with friends, including a Disneyland visit.

“And, after a week, I was like, I’m ready to go home now,” she said.

Tornado outbreak likely today, forecasters say; Tulsa under flood watch through Tuesday

7 a.m. Tuesday - Live weather updates, school closures: Tornado in Tulsa

Update (8 a.m. Monday): In an outlook issued Monday morning, the National Weather Service stated a "serious outbreak of destructive, tornadic supercells is likely" across the southern plains, including much of Oklahoma and parts of Texas throughout the day and into the overnight hours. 

Forecasters have the Tulsa area in a "moderate" risk categories for severe weather, with a rarely used "high" risk area stretching from the Interstate 44 corridor to roughly Snyder, Texas. A tornado risk exists across an arc from west Texas to the Oklahoma-Missouri-Arkansas border, but the "high" risk area carries greater chances for violent, long-track tornadoes.

The story below published in Monday's Tulsa World:

An atmosphere supportive of “all severe hazards, including significant hail and strong tornadoes,” is possible for much of Oklahoma on Monday, especially in the central and western parts of the state, forecasters said.

According to the Storm Predication Center in Norman, central and western Oklahoma are under a moderate risk category for severe storms, the second-highest category on a five-tier scale.

Tulsa is in the “enhanced” risk area, the third highest.

There is a “significant severe weather event possible across the southern Plains on Monday,” the center said.

The Tulsa forecast calls for storms mainly after 1 p.m., with severe storms possible both Monday and Monday night, the National Weather Service in Tulsa said.

“Emergency management personnel and first responders should continue to monitor the latest forecasts for Monday and Tuesday, as high-end severe weather will again be possible,” the NWS said.

Public school classes in Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman and virtually all of the OKC metro area were canceled for Monday because of the forecast. The University of Oklahoma also canceled classes Monday at its Norman campus.

Forecasters expect severe thunderstorms forming across the Texas panhandle and northwest Oklahoma to sweep toward northeast Oklahoma by Monday morning, bringing a potential for high winds, heavy rain and hail.

At the same time, a warm front is expected to lift north of the Red River, creating wind profiles capable of supporting rotating thunderstorms and tornadoes. Tornadoes will be most likely near the warm front, which will shift north during the day.

Thunderstorms are expected to spread through the area Monday afternoon and evening, and a secondary line of strong storms is expected to roll through Tuesday morning.

Much of central and eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa and Oklahoma City, are under a flash flood watch from Monday morning through Tuesday evening because the ground remains saturated from Saturday’s storms.

Up to 3 inches of rainfall is likely along the Interstate 44 corridor, with higher amounts possibly locally in areas north and west of Tulsa.

The weather service in Tulsa took to social media on Saturday, urging residents to be weather-aware.

Saturday storms that swept across northeast Oklahoma brought two low-rated tornadoes, the weather service reported Saturday night.

“Our survey team found EF-0 tornado damage west and northwest of Bixby,” the service tweeted. “The roofs of homes were damaged, an outbuilding lost its roof, and large tree limbs were snapped. We also found EF-1 tornado damage between Claremore and Pryor along and north of Highway 20.”

The tornadoes were two of five reported in the state from the Saturday storm system. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management is asking residents affected by the storms to report damage to their property at or by calling 211.

The National Weather Service is also asking residents to report severe weather, such as hail size, wind damage and flooding to the Tulsa office’s Twitter or Facebook page, @NWSTulsa, or webpage,


Kelsy Schlotthauer


Tulsa County commissioners could end 287(g) program. But would they?

Stan Sallee probably didn’t think much about it when he was elected District 1 Tulsa County commissioner last year, but his victory put him front and center in the debate over whether the county should assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws.

That decision comes down to a vote of the three-member Board of County Commissioners, and if history is any indication, Sallee would be the swing vote.

Last June — long before he took office — commissioners voted 2-1 to continue participating in the 287(g) program. The swing vote that day was former District 1 County Commissioner John Smaligo, who signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the commission.

Also voting “yes” was District 3 Commissioner Ron Peters. District 2 Commissioner Karen Keith cast the lone vote in opposition.

The Sheriff’s Office is one of dozens of local law enforcement agencies participating in the 287(g) program, which uses local law enforcement to identify and process undocumented residents for deportation proceedings.

The Sheriff’s Office has six employees certified by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to participate in the program.

Sheriff Vic Regalado recently signed a 12-month extension of the MOU that did not require BOCC approval. But opponents of the program continue to call for commissioners to end it.

Nearly 20 area residents told commissioners last week that 287(g) is creating mistrust of local law enforcement and leading to individuals being deported for minor offenses.

The MOU makes clear that the agreement could be ended at the request of either party.

“During the MOU’s effective period, either party, upon written notice to the other party, may terminate or suspend the MOU at any time,” the agreement states.

Don’t expect action on the issue soon. Commissioners have no plans to vote on the MOU, and Sallee says he’s still examining the program to determine whether he should support it or not.

“I owe it to both sides,” he said. “I certainly support law enforcement. I support our sheriff. He’s done a great job, I feel like, managing our jail … so I have a lot of confidence in him.

“But when we have concerns from throughout the county, we’ve got to look at those as well.”

Sallee said he is “100 percent, totally” against racial profiling and has yet to be convinced that it is happening.

“If I felt that (racial profiling) is happening … I would not support it whatsoever,” he said.

On the plus side, Sallee said, the program helps with public safety, which is an important consideration.

Another issue to be considered is the separate agreement the Sheriff’s Office has with ICE to hold inmates from around the country in the county jail. Last fiscal year alone, the agreement brought in $4.7 million, according to county records.

“If that is not here, then where is the BOCC or the county going to come up with those funds?” Sallee said. “And what are they going to be willing to cut, and what department are they going to cut from?”

Peters said he struggles with the issue and has spoken with several opponents of the program to try to find a middle ground.

“The big thing is, they’re making it sound like we’re just seeing that you are dark skinned and we’re pulling you over and arresting you so we can deport you,” the commissioner said. “That’s not going on.”

Peters has reviewed arrest data at the jail — including cases brought to his attention by advocates for eliminating the 287(g) — to try to determine whether undocumented immigrants are being arrested on minor charges and deported.

“You might be able to find some in there who got a trivial arrest, but for the most part, we’re not looking at good folks,” Peters said.

The county commissioner said he fears that pulling out of the 287(g) program could effectively make Tulsa a sanctuary city, “and I don’t think that is what a majority of people in Tulsa want.”

With the 287(g) program, Peters said, local law enforcement has a process in place by which to notify the federal government when undocumented immigrants facing serious charges have been apprehended

“So if we don’t have this program, we’re not calling ICE,” Peters said. “So I am a foreign-born national, I’m here illegally, I get arrested on DUI or domestic assault and battery, we don’t make that call, soon as your charge is resolved, you’re back out in the community.”

Critics of the 287(g) program note that state law already requires that jails make a reasonable effort to determine the citizenship status of persons charged with a felony or with driving under the influence and that if lawful immigration status cannot be verified, the jail is to notify the Department of Homeland Security.

Keith said she is philosophically opposed to local participation in either of the ICE programs.

“Countless local agencies that engage with the Hispanic populations report that individuals who may need the help of law enforcement are afraid to call in,” Keith said. “That is despite valiant efforts by Sheriff Regalado to reassure that population that it is safe to call his agency without fear of deportation.”

She added: “In addition to the potential impacts (of the ICE programs) on individuals, I don’t like the perception that as a county we are participating in these programs.”

Sheriff Regalado sees value in 287(g) program to combat 'criminal element' within county

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado was elected in 2016, nearly a decade after the Sheriff’s Office entered into its first 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Although he had nothing to do with the county’s initial decision to be part of the program, he’s come to see its value and says he supports keeping the program.

He signed a 12-month extension of the 287(g) program May 10. The program uses local law enforcement to identify and process undocumented immigrants for deportation proceedings.

Regalado said he could not speak to how 287(g) programs work in other communities, but the Tulsa County program is intended to help keep the local community safe.

“When you take a step back and look at the facts surrounding the 287(g) program, it boils down to that it is about the criminal element,” Regalado said, “and about those individuals that are committing crimes that affect our streets, our society, in particular here in Tulsa.

“It is not comprised of individuals who simply have committed minor traffic offenses but who are otherwise productive individuals and citizens of Tulsa. That’s just not factually correct.”

Regalado said all communities agree about the importance of public safety, but unfortunately, the 287(g) program has become part of the broader national discussion regarding the crisis at the border and the country’s overall immigration policy.

“And it should not be,” he said. “Those are separate things that require separate thought processes and problem-solving techniques.”