Marfa courthouse

Presidio County Court Discusses Budget and Resignation of Auditor

Monday in Marfa, the second of two public hearings was held on budget discussions for Presidio County. Commissioners Hernandez and Artanda were in attendance, along with Judge Hunt. A previous hearing on the budget was held last Tuesday in the city of Presidio. Judge Hunt began the session with these words.

The agenda is very simple. This is part of the continuing workshops we have on the fiscal budget.

The group was still absorbing the news of the resignation of court-appointed County Auditor Rick Herrman. Hunt said.

It appears the county auditor has resigned his position.

The next fiscal year budget for Presidio County is scheduled to be ratified on Tuesday.

Davis Mountains site, at Hwy 3078, near command post for rescue operation of injured hiker, September 22, 2014 (Daniel Alvarado)

DPS Helicopter Transports Injured Hiker from Jeff Davis County Mountains

Update 4:15 PM: All first responders have made it off the mountain are back at the incident command post.

Update 1:30 PM: A DPS helicopter has just managed to successfully transport injured hiker Kista Franco out of the mountainous area where she was stationed with rescue crews.

Jim Fowler with the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department (FDVFD) says she will likely be transported by Balmorhea EMS to a hospital in Pecos. She was last reported to be medically stabilized, but had lost some blood after suffering an injury while on a hiking trip.

New storms are beginning to build in the area, so it’s possible the rescue crews in the mountains will have to trek out on foot. That process could take the reminder of the day, if not longer – roads in the ranchland near where the crews entered are reported to be rain-soaked and muddy.

Read below for more details as we continue to follow this story.

Update 12:00 PM: Additional rescue workers from the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department, Border Patrol and the McDonald Observatory have been dispatched to help carry out injured hiker Kista Franco, if crews decide weather conditions won’t improve enough to send in an airlift.

Jim Fowler with the FDVFD says the decision to hike out or send in a helicopter will likely be made within an hour.

He says crews aim to have Franco out of the mountains by sunset.

Original Story

Rescue operations are still underway Monday morning for an injured hiker who was stranded in a canyon in Jeff Davis County, in tough, mountainous terrain near Mt. McElroy.

Live Rescue Update 10 AM Hour

As CBS 7 reports, 19-year old Odessa resident Kista Franco was hiking with friends when she became stranded in a canyon after an accident:

Kista Franco fell and broke her leg during a hike with two friends, her mother, Sonya Lara, says she is stuck between two steep mountain edges.

Lara said one of her two friends went to get help.

Local EMS received an emergency call Sunday morning at 10 am, and crews were sent in to find Franco and pull her out of the canyon.

Our latest updates indicate Franco was successfully pulled from the canyon Sunday and taken to an area where a helicopter could land. An attempted helicopter rescue was grounded late Sunday because of poor weather conditions, which only worsened as the evening went on.

Continue reading

Rick Herrman, Presidio County Auditor (Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

Presidio County Auditor Resigns

Monday, September 22: KRTS News has learned that Rick Herrman, the Fort Davis resident who was assigned by Judge Roy Ferguson as Presidio County Auditor, resigned his position. He’s held that post for about four months, since he was appointed in June by the Texas’s 394th Judicial District Court.

Herrman led a new office – called the Office of Budget Management. The role was created after the county received an adverse opinion in its 2012 fiscal audit. At that time, the 2013 audit was incomplete.

Herrman came to the job after 40 years of experience in finance, banking, and accounting. Back in May, Herrman told the Big Bend Sentinel, “The job is to protect the public’s purse.”

But it hasn’t gone smoothly. His very appointment caused some contention within the courthouse and budget discussions over the past few weeks have not gone well and appear to have opened up some divides among county commissioners.

Herrman declined to comment on his resignation.

An additional budget hearing will take place today in Marfa. The budget is schedule to be ratified tomorrow.

Gap in the border wall, Fort Hancock, Texas-El Porvenir, Chihuahua (Lorne Matalon.)

Gap in the border wall, Fort Hancock, Texas-El Porvenir, Chihuahua (Lorne Matalon.)

With Claims of ISIS at the Border, a Shift in Border Politics

This year’s surge of Central American migrants across the southern border has put border security back at the forefront of national politics.

But with the number of migrant crossings on the decline, and the US stepping up its offensive against the so-called Islamic State – or ISIS – conservatives in Texas are now worried about terrorists crossing the border.

Some are now shifting the conversation to again call for tighter border security.

If you want to know how exactly ISIS went from being a far-off terrorist group plaguing Iraq and Syria just a month ago to allegedly an impending threat on the Texas border this month, you can basically trace a straight line from a recent New York Times article back to a report from the conservative website Judicial Watch in late August.

That’s where most of the recent fears about ISIS on the border stem from. The website claimed “high-level” law enforcement officials were warning of an “imminent” attack on the border.

Politically, the timing couldn’t have been better for those calling for tougher measures on the border. National Guard troops deployed by Governor Rick Perry had just started arriving in South Texas , a sign that conservative leaders were finally taking action to deal with illegal immigration, and Perry had that same week told reporters it was a “very real possibility” that ISIS had already hopped over the river.

“Certainly, there is great concern that the border between the United States and Mexico is unsecure, and we don’t know who’s using that,” Perry said at a Heritage Foundation event in Washington.

Despite that warning, the governor was quick to note there was “no clear evidence of that.” And that’s what homeland security officials say, too.

Continue reading

(Fábio Pinheiro / Todd Wiseman)

(Fábio Pinheiro / Todd Wiseman)

Midland ISD Developing “Petroleum Academy”

MIDLAND – As this Permian Basin city continues to thrive amid an oil boom transforming the region, local drilling companies have faced challenges in recruiting workers to come to West Texas.

But the local school district plans to implement a program that could provide a homegrown solution to those labor concerns.

Pending school board approval, the Midland school district will launch a pilot program in January for its “petroleum academy” for high schoolers. It will include state-approved courses for students who want to work in the oil industry immediately following graduation and those who wish to obtain a college degree in a related field. The district plans to roll out the academy next fall.

Continue reading

Governor Rick Perry on hand at the unveiling of a mockup of XCOR's "Lynx" spacecraft at MAF in 2012.

Governor Rick Perry on hand at the unveiling of a mockup of XCOR's "Lynx" spacecraft at MAF in 2012.

Midland Airport Gets the Go-Ahead to Launch Space Flights

On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a spaceport license application for the Midland International Airport (MAF), making the airport the first of its kind to be federally-licensed for commercial air and space flights.

“We are the 9th spaceport in the United States, but the first one that [also] has commercial service operations,” says Marv Esterly, Director of Airports at Midland International.

Esterly was on hand in Washington, D.C. to accept the license approval.

The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) announced the news Wednesday morning, noting that the airport will now be called the “Midland International Air & Space Port.” The MDC tweeted a photo of Esterly in Washington:


Esterly says the news is “truly exciting,” and that the arrival of the private space industry to Midland could mean new revenue streams for the airport.

Continue reading

The study explored different scenarios that may have accounted for elevated methane in the groundwater. (Thomas Darrah/OSU)

The study explored different scenarios that may have accounted for elevated methane in the groundwater. (Thomas Darrah/OSU)

Research Links Drilling Activities to Water Contamination in North Texas

For years, some residents of Parker County in North Texas have believed that nearby gas drilling was responsible for high levels of methane in neighborhood water wells. Research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences appears to back that up.

The study looked at water contamination in Texas and Pennsylvania. It suggests that faulty cement jobs on drilling wells could be at fault in North Texas. Cement is poured between the rock wall and the steel tubing of oil and gas wells to block contaminants.

“We think either there isn’t enough cement in this location or more likely there are cracks or imperfections in that cement. That’s what allowed the strong gas to move up through the well and then out into people’s drinking water,” says Robert Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Stanford, who co-authored of the study.

Continue reading

A guard stands wait outside of the deportation processing center in San Salvador. Jose was bused here in August after being caught in Mexico. (Jude Joffe-Block)

A guard stands wait outside of the deportation processing center in San Salvador. Jose was bused here in August after being caught in Mexico. (Jude Joffe-Block)

The Day After Deportation: Salvadoran Teen Returns to the Town He Fled

American immigration courts are gearing up to decide the fate of tens of thousands of children from Central America who came to the United States border in recent months. Meanwhile, Mexico has been cracking down on these migrants en route north, and is already sending children back to their home countries.

REPORTING FROM EL SALVADOR — There’s an important bridge in this rural town in the Salvadoran state of La Paz.

Locals say the bridge divides the town between two rival gangs, on one side a gang tied to MS-13, and on the other, one affiliated with Calle 18 — commonly translated as the 18th Street gang.

These gangs originated in Los Angeles and have overrun El Salvador.

On the day that we visited this bridge, a man on a bike rode up, staring at us. He was wearing the white Nike shoes that only gangsters wear here. He stopped near us, still staring, and made a call on his cell phone.

This seriously spooked our driver, who is from the capital San Salvador. He motioned for me to stop recording and get in the car.

We drove away quickly to avoid any possible trouble.

But for many who live here, getting away from the gangs isn’t so simple.

“The way things are now, going out into the street means danger, or death,” said José, a 16-year-old from this town who tried escaping to the United States twice this summer.

Continue reading

"Moon Over Prada," by Don Auderer.

TxDOT to Prada Marfa: Yes, You Are Art!

Art or advertisement? A long debate has come to a close in Far West Texas.

On Friday afternoon, KRTS News spoke with Dan Chamberlain, the Communications Coordinator for Ballroom Marfa, about the decision by the Texas Department of Transportation to close its case on Prada Marfa. Our conversation is linked in the podcast above.

Today Ballroom Marfa released a statement on their website:

After a series of productive negotiations with the Texas Department of Transportation, Prada Marfa is officially saved.

Their statement came on the heels of a report from the Associated Press, in which TxDOT announced they had come to an agreement. According to TxDOT, “the complaint file will be closed.” The concern began in 2013, when a complaint was filed against Prada Marfa, claiming it was not an art installation but highway advertising and should be regulated as such. 
Continue reading

Robert Earl Keen plays a benefit concert for KRTS Saturday, Sept. 27 at The Granada in Alpine.

Robert Earl Keen plays a benefit concert for KRTS Saturday, Sept. 27 at The Granada in Alpine.

Robert Earl Keen In Concert Benefits KRTS on Saturday, Sept. 27

Robert Earl Keen Plays Alpine’s Granada Theatre for Marfa Public Radio Fundraiser

KRTS Marfa Public Radio is pleased to present Texas country icon Robert Earl Keen in concert on Saturday, September 27 at The Granada Theatre in Alpine, Texas.

Long-regarded as one of the Lone Star State’s finest (not to mention top-drawing) true singer-songwriters, Keen remains as committed to and inspired by his muse as ever. From humble beginnings on the Texas folk scene, he’s blazed a peer, critic, and fan-lauded trail that’s earned him living-legend and pioneer status in the Americana music world.

With audience-favorite songs like “The Road Goes on Forever” and Big Bend-based tunes like “Gringo Honeymoon” (about Boquillas Crossing), Keen is a perfect fit for a radio station catering to “a wide range.”

“REK is helping us raise much-needed funds to keep public radio growing in Far West Texas. Our listeners love him, KRTS loves him, and we know it will be a tremendous show,” said KRTS General Manager Tom Michael.

Support for this benefit concert comes from Reata Restaurant, Pace & Associates CPAs, LLC, Malcolm and Anne Calaway, David Fannin, Liz Rogers, Joseph and Kelli Calaway, Kenneth Mills, and Kiowa Gallery & Custom Framing.

Tickets are $35 in advance (purchase them in our online store by clicking here) and $40 at the door. All proceeds benefit your public radio station, KRTS. Concert is for ages 21 and up.

Need more information? Call 432-729-4578 and check out Robert Earl Keen’s official website.




Become a Community Correspondent, learn new skills and make new friends.

Become a Community Correspondent, learn new skills and make new friends.

Become a Marfa Public Radio Community Correspondent

Never miss a city council meeting? Always finding interesting stories in the Big Bend? Go to a lot of community events or concerts? If you’re interested in sharing your knowledge and experience with Marfa Public Radio listeners, become one of our volunteer Community Correspondents.

We’re looking for engaged citizens from across the Big Bend. A Community Correspondent assists Marfa Public Radio with news gathering and producing stories from the community you live in.
Continue reading


Fri. Sep 19 Interview: Lannan Foundation Writer-in-Residence David Biespiel

Host Cory Lovell speaks with David Biespiel, author of three books of poetry as well as two books of prose on writing/poetry. He founded and directs the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters in Portland, Oregon, which teaches writing through onsite workshops with visiting writers.

Biespiel will be reading at The Marfa Book Company on Saturday, September 20th at 6 PM.

Talk At Ten is generally broadcast live at 10 am and repeated at 6:30 pm each weekday.
Tagged , | Comments Off
Brad Lancaster

Fri. Sep 19 Interview: Brad Lancaster on Harvesting Rainwater Strategies

Today’s Talk at Ten features drylands permaculture designer and educator Brad Lancaster, author of the award-winning series, Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, which offers strategies on how to plan and implement effective water-harvesting systems.

Lancaster has lectured across the globe, from the Middle East to Australia, and has worked closely with the city of Tucson to improve its water-harvesting practices. His own home in Tucson features a system that can harvest up to 100,000 gallons of rainwater annually.

This Friday in Alpine, Brad Lancaster will speak at the Granada Theatre at 7 PM, followed by a workshop on Saturday (8 AM-2 PM) at the Alpine Public Library. In Marfa, Lancaster’s lecture takes place Saturday 7 PM at the Crowley Theater, followed by a workshop (9 AM-3 PM) at Marfa International School on Sunday. Admission is free, but workshop space is limited, so make your reservation at

Talk At Ten is generally broadcast live at 10 am and repeated at 6:30 pm each weekday.
Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off
Hotel Limpia (Monica D.)

Thu. Sep 18 Interview: 7th Annual Midsummer Night’s Dream Garden Party

Host K. Yoland speaks with secretary Elaine Harmon and president Cyndee Barnes of Friends of the Jeff Davis County Library about the 7th Annual Midsummer Night’s Dream Garden Party on September 21st at 4 PM.

Taking place in the garden of the Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis, Elizabethian enthusiasts will perform excerpts from Hamlet, Hamlette, and more.

This free event will have refreshments, live Elizabethian music, and a drawing for a Kindle HDX tablet.

Talk At Ten is generally broadcast live at 10 am and repeated at 6:30 pm each weekday.
Tagged , , , , | Comments Off
David Oliver

Wed. Sep 17 Interview: David Oliver and His Accordion on Traditional Folk Music from North-East England

Musician and music educator David Oliver has spent his life in Northumbria, in the North-East of England. He visits Talk At Ten today to discuss the English folk music tradition. He plays accordion, leads folk dance bands, and calls dances.

Formerly a high school principal, Oliver has served since 1993 as Education Director of Folkworks, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to the promotion of the traditional music. He lectures widely and is a co-author of Folk Voiceworks (2008)  and English Folk Tunes for Accordion (2007).

On the program, he uses the accordion to describe different types of music and tells stories of the power of music worldwide. Oliver also makes a political prediction about the future of Scotland.

Talk At Ten is generally broadcast live at 10 am and repeated at 6:30 pm each weekday.
Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Tue. Sep 16 Interview: William Vizcarra at The Wrong Store

Copyright William Vizcarra

Copyright William Vizcarra

Ciudad Juárez artist William Vizcarra will be showing About Lines at The Wrong Store.

About Lines is William’s study into the duality properties of lines in relation to contrasting mix-media. His use of concrete, paper and ink are inspired by Japanese calligraphy lines, woodcuts and the process of repetition.

About Lines will be shown until September 28.

Talk At Ten is generally broadcast live at 10 am and repeated at 6:30 pm each weekday.
Tagged , , , , | Comments Off