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Introducing “Texas Standard” – News, Arts & Culture By Texans, For Texans

There’s a new weekday news, arts and culture program coming to the West Texas airwaves – Texas Standard.

Produced at KUT in Austin, with collaboration from public radio stations in big cities and small towns across the state, Texas Standard brings West Texas listeners a new source for expansive coverage of statewide, national and international news – from a distinctly Texan perspective.

Starting on Monday, March 2 – Texas Independence Day – you can catch the show live each weekday from 10 – 11 am.

In addition to carrying the program, we’ll also be regularly contributing to it – bringing the sounds, stories and unique personalities of West Texas to listeners across the state.

So, you’re probably wondering: “What does that mean for Talk at Ten?

Long-form interviews with community members, local organizations and interesting people from far and wide have been a staple of Marfa Public Radio since we launched – so that’s not going away.

Talk at Ten will be re-branded as West Texas Talk – and will continue at its 6:30 PM slot every weekday.

In the meantime, you can check out some of the of innovative radio journalism we’re bringing to West Texas next week. Our reporters have already been featured on the program in recent weeks.


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Friday Interview: Director Hector Galán on “Children of Giant”

Hector Galán is our guest during this first week of West Texas Talk. Galán is a prolific documentary filmmaker and a native of San Angelo, Texas whose films focus on Latino experience in America.

Galán’s newest documentary is titled, “Children of Giant.” It chronicles the filming of the classic western, “Giant,” here in Marfa, and also charts the continued legacy of the film’s story of race in the American West. Currently, the film has been showing in special events across Texas.

West Texas Talk is broadcast at 6:30 pm each weekday.
The fence between the U.S. Border Patrol's Big Bend Sector headquarters (left), and the "hippie campground" El Cosmico (right.) (Travis Bubenik / KRTS)

The fence between the U.S. Border Patrol's Big Bend Sector headquarters (left), and the "hippie campground" El Cosmico (right.) (Travis Bubenik / KRTS)

Lines In The Land: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

In our Lines In The Land series today we’ll look at fence lines. These mark the boundaries of our large ranch-lands, but in towns, these lines keep neighbors in check. Here’s a look at one of the more unusual fence lines

We’re on the grounds of El Cosmico approaching the Border Patrol fence. Twelve foot high fence with a lot of barbed wire on the top.

That’s Liz Lambert, the owner of El Cosmico, looking out at her neighbor. The saying is true in West Texas as it is anywhere.

Good fences make good neighbors.

And this is a good fence. Twice the height of a human, strung with razor-sharp concertina wire, and monitored by 24-hour video surveillance.

U.S Customs and Border Protection is one of the largest businesses in town. And El Cosmico, that’s….ahhh how do you describe it?

El Cosmico is, a sort of, alternative campground, lodging experience.

Yurts, tents, teepees, hot tubs, hammocks, and vintage trailers. This fence line, which runs a few city blocks, sums up the split personality of West Texas, and especially of Marfa.

You couldn’t pick two more different neighbors, I don’t think. And so it’s funny it says something about West Texas that this like hippie campground and the federal border patrol can actually be next to each other and consider ourselves good neighbors. Particularly since they fired into El Cosmico, not too long ago. That was really, you know, that was more than borrowing a cup of sugar.


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Lannan Foundation Writer-in-Residence Terry Tempest Williams (Debra Anderson)

Lannan Foundation Writer-in-Residence Terry Tempest Williams (Debra Anderson)

Thursday Interview: Lannan Resident Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams, current Lannan Foundation Writer-in-Residence, has been called a “citizen writer” and praised for her work in environmental literature.

Host Rachel Monroe talks with Williams about her “life of engagement” as a writer and activist. Williams discusses her recent writing on national parks, including Big Bend.

Williams books include Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Finding Beauty in a Broken World and others.

Williams has been described as “one of the wisest – and loveliest – voices for conservation” in the West.


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West Texas Talk is broadcast at 6:30 pm each weekday.
TRAX bus in the Fort Stockton DeVita parking lot. (Anna Rose MacArthur / KRTS)

TRAX bus in the Fort Stockton DeVita parking lot. (Anna Rose MacArthur / KRTS)

Lines in the Land: The Long Road for Dialysis Patients in Rural West Texas

When you live in rural West Texas, you do it with the understanding that you can’t always have access to everything you might want or need, especially when it comes to healthcare.

If you get sick, sometimes you just have to drive for an hour or more to get the doctor.

But for people with kidney failure – people on dialysis – the reality of living in our far flung corner of the state means getting onto a bus three days a week for a 14-hour trip, every week.

It’s before dawn in Presidio, Texas, and a small TRAX bus picks up dialysis patients from their homes. TRAX is the only public transportation for Medicaid patients for hundreds of miles.

The bus leaves Presidio, then picks up more clients in Marfa and Alpine. Then we are off to DeVita in Fort Stockton, the nearest dialysis center.

It’s a three-hour drive over 200 miles.
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Carrizo cane covering the banks of the Rio Grande. (Ian Lewis/KRTS)

Carrizo cane covering the banks of the Rio Grande. (Ian Lewis/KRTS)

Lines in the Land: A Pesky Plant on the Rio Grande Attracts Federal Attention

As the dividing line between Mexico and the United States, the Rio Grande has been a stage for contentious geopolitics.

But for many years, the river has also had a turbulent ecological history. One persistent concern for scientists who study the borderlands of Texas has been an invasive plant species known as carrizo cane.

Unsurprisingly, carrizo cane was again a central topic of discussion at an Annual Sister Park Summit at Big Bend National Park between American and Mexican park officials from the other side of the river. The plant has muscled major control of the banks of the Rio Grande on both sides.

At the meeting was Joe Sirotnik, a botanist with the National Park Service

“Carrizo cane is a large grass species that is from the Mediterranean and it’s been here on the Rio Grande for at least fifty years, Sirotnik explains.


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Lines in the Land: Descendants of the Buffalo Soldiers in Fort Davis

In 1867, two regiments of black soldiers were stationed in West Texas. They were called the Buffalo Soldiers by the Native American tribes they fought. Many of those soldiers were former slaves, and their descendants still live in the area. But today, not all are willing to acknowledge their mixed heritage.

The sound of the bugle call still echoes every day at the Fort Davis Historic Site. After the Civil War, two regiments of Buffalo Soldiers served here.

Jeremy Bentley’s great-great grandfather, George Bentley, came to Fort Davis in April of 1868 with the company K of the ninth cavalry.

“His father was a white man, and his mother was a black woman,” says Lonn Taylor. A longtime historian at the Smithsonian Institution, Taylor has studied George Bentley for the Texas Historical Commission.

“When he took his discharge from the army, he married a Hispanic woman in Fort Davis and settled down in Fort Davis,” says Taylor.


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Mexican Man Dies from Apparent Seizure in Border Patrol Custody

A 50-year-old Mexican man died earlier this month while in Border Patrol custody in Marfa, after suffering what Customs and Border Protection (CBP) described as an apparent seizure.

According to CBP the man, identified in Presidio County documents as Maros Baray-Magallanes, was taken into custody on February 17th around 5 p.m. after allegedly entering the U.S. illegally.

The incident began around 5:20 a.m. on February 18th, when according to witness testimony from on-duty Border Patrol Agent Gaberial Vega, Magallanes “became ill in his cell.” Agents performed CPR and called Marfa EMS, who arrived and also performed CPR, but were unable to revive the man.

He was pronounced dead about an hour later, at 6:13 a.m.

It’s not clear where Magallanes was taken into custody or how exactly he tried to enter the U.S. illegally.

The Presidio County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the death, along with CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara has ordered an autopsy from South Plains Forensic Pathology in Lubbock. A preliminary autopsy is expected back within the next few weeks, but it could be months before the final autopsy results are available.

Raymond Skiles, the Park's wildlife biologist, has monitored the bird since the 1980s. (Ian Lewis / KRTS)

Raymond Skiles, the Park's wildlife biologist, has monitored the bird since the 1980s. (Ian Lewis / KRTS)

Big Bend National Park Continues Annual Trail Closure To Protect Peregrine Falcons

The peregrine falcons are returning to Big Bend National Park for their breeding season, and the Park, as they have done in previous years, has closed a small section of the South Rim trail of the Chisos Mountains to hikers, to give the birds a quiet and safe place to raise their young.

Every February, Raymond Skiles – the Park’s wildlife biologist – hikes up to the South Rim with trail closure signs, to keep hikers from getting too close to the peregrine falcon’s nesting area.


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A worker transfers crude oil from a truck to a pipeline that sends the oil to several states. The FBI says a recent case involving stolen oil has set a precedent. The courts ruled that the theft of oil by implication meant the oil was destined to cross state lines, meaning the weight of federal law can now be applied to cases that once were tried in state court. Tools and equipment stolen here have also been smuggled to borderland Mexico. (Lorne Matalon)

A worker transfers crude oil from a truck to a pipeline that sends the oil to several states. The FBI says a recent case involving stolen oil has set a precedent. The courts ruled that the theft of oil by implication meant the oil was destined to cross state lines, meaning the weight of federal law can now be applied to cases that once were tried in state court. Tools and equipment stolen here have also been smuggled to borderland Mexico. (Lorne Matalon)

Theft In The Oilfields Of Texas and New Mexico Traced To Borderland Mexico

The decline in the price of crude oil is translating into job losses in the oilfields of Texas and New Mexico.

And that means there’s renewed focus on an ongoing problem in the oilfields, and that’s the theft of oil, tools, piping and copper wire by laid off or disgruntled workers.

The FBI has a team working full-time to identify stolen oilfield equipment which in at least one case was smuggled to borderland Mexico.

“They live paycheck to paycheck,” said Midland County, Texas Sheriff Gary Painter driving past an oil well.


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Two planned pipelines would export natural gas from the Permian Basin across the border to Mexico. (Energy Transfer Partners)

Two planned pipelines would export natural gas from the Permian Basin across the border to Mexico. (Energy Transfer Partners)

West Texas to Mexico Pipelines On Track for 2017 Finish

A Dallas-based company looking to build two sizable natural gas pipelines from Far West Texas to Mexico says it plans to have both pipelines built and operating by early 2017.

Energy Transfer won a contract from Mexico’s electricity commission to build the manage the pipeline’s construction. It’s estimated the two 42″ lines could carry a combined 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

In an earnings call this week, the company’s CEO Kelcy Warren – also the owner of the Lajitas Golf Resort near Big Bend National Park – said the company’s making progress on meeting that timeline.

“We’re very excited about our business south to Mexico,” Warren said. “The next two projects that we were winners on, we’re looking at both of them to come on in the first quarter of 2017, and we are finalizing negotiations and everything is on track to that timeline.”

One of the pipelines would stretch from near the towns of Monahans and Pecos south through the Marfa area to Presidio. The other would travel from the same area west to the border near El Paso.

Some West Texans are worried about how the pipeline’s construction would impact roads and the environment, while some people across the border are wary of selling their land for development on the Mexican side.

The company’s also looking to expand its holdings in South Texas and other parts of the Permian Basin.

Cars and trucks heading east on Interstate I-10 east of El Paso pass through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas. The county, the first gatekeeper in the state legal system, is not accepting federally initiated drug cases sent to it from the checkpoint. (Lorne Matalon)

Cars and trucks heading east on Interstate I-10 east of El Paso pass through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas. The county, the first gatekeeper in the state legal system, is not accepting federally initiated drug cases sent to it from the checkpoint. (Lorne Matalon)

Texas County Declines All Federally Initiated Drug Cases From Sierra Blanca Checkpoint

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas – A border county in Texas with two U.S. Border Patrol highway checkpoints is refusing to prosecute drug cases previously sent to it from those checkpoints.

The county—and all four states bordering Mexico—wants funding from Washington, D.C. to handle cases that federal prosecutors decide to send to state courts.

But federal money has run dry.

A program that reimbursed California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas for prosecuting federally initiated cases hasn’t been funded since 2013.

The largest of the two federal checkpoints in the county is sometimes dubbed “Checkpoint of the Stars” because people such as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog (aka Snoop Lion) and Fiona Apple have been arrested here after dogs detected marijuana.


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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.
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Introducing “Texas Standard” – News, Arts & Culture By Texans, For Texans

There’s a new weekday news, arts and culture program coming to the West Texas airwaves – Texas Standard.

Produced at KUT in Austin, with collaboration from public radio stations in big cities and small towns across the state, Texas Standard brings West Texas listeners a new source for expansive coverage of statewide, national and international news – from a distinctly Texan perspective.

Starting on Monday, March 2 – Texas Independence Day – you can catch the show live each weekday from 10 – 11 am.

In addition to carrying the program, we’ll also be regularly contributing to it – bringing the sounds, stories and unique personalities of West Texas to listeners across the state.

So, you’re probably wondering: “What does that mean for Talk at Ten?

Long-form interviews with community members, local organizations and interesting people from far and wide have been a staple of Marfa Public Radio since we launched – so that’s not going away.

Talk at Ten will be re-branded as West Texas Talk – and will continue at its 6:30 PM slot every weekday.

In the meantime, you can check out some of the of innovative radio journalism we’re bringing to West Texas next week. Our reporters have already been featured on the program in recent weeks.

Continue reading

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Dan Dyer, Jack Sanders, and Butch Anthony, of Design Build Camp Adventure, Marfa, Texas, March 2015.

Sounds of a “Design-Build” Camp in Marfa

This past week, visitors from other parts of Texas came to Marfa to make things … out of junk.  Dan Dyer is warming up near a fire pit, as students hammer and weld. He’s one of the instructors for the program, called Camp Design Build Adventure.

So right now they are hammering out some sheet metal that is going to being used in a design for a chair that they came up with. This is all stuff that we found in a cowboy junkyard. This is all windmill blades. We’re just here to help them not get hurt.

The camp is run by Jack Sanders, who’s been setting up workshops in town for 10 years. One of the students is Mary Ann Hendrickson of New Mexico.

We’re flattening out this windmill blade so we can use it in this chair that we’re building. Probably as the back of a chair.

 

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Henryk Orlik (Big Bend Brewing)

Wed. Mar 4 Interview: Big Bend Brewing’s New Brewery Manager, Henryk Orlik, Gives a Tour of the Brewery and Talks about his Career in Craft Beer

German-born Henryk Orlik is a master trained brewer who arrived in the United States during the infancy of the craft beer movement. After working in breweries across North America, Orlik has joined Alpine’s Big Bend Brewing as Brewery Manager during a time of expansion.

Today, Orlik leads a tour of the Big Bend facilities before sitting down to talk about his education in brewing and his take on the current state of craft beer in America.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Tue. Mar 3 Interview: Fredda Arney, Juror in the American Sniper Trial, from West Texas

Fredda Arney, 71, lives in Stephenville, Texas, but grew up in the West Texas city of Crane. She was among the jurors to find Eddie Routh guilty of murder in the killing of of Chad Littlefield and Chris Kyle, the Odessa-born Navy Seal who wrote the book American Sniper. Kyle’s life and death was featured in the Oscar-winning film of the same name.

Just back from the trial, and released to speak to the media, we hear her story tonight on West Texas Talk.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Cecilia Ballí. Credit: Marfa Book Co

Mon. Mar 2 Interview: Cecilia Ballí on our Changing Borderlands

Today’s West Texas Talk is a rebroadcast of a conversation with Cecilia Ballí, a journalist and cultural anthropologist. Ballí has reported on borderland culture for years, and she was formerly a Lannan Foundation writer-in-residence in Marfa.

A long-form narrative journalist, Ballí has contributed to Harper’s and Texas Monthly. She holds a PhD in anthropology and taught as a faculty member for six years in UT-Austin’s anthropology department. Currently, she’s working on a book about the physical border fence.

In 2015, Ballí was awarded a 2015 Jessie H. Jones Dobie Paisano Writing Fellowship.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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It’s Not a Festival. It’s the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering

For the past 29 years, cowboy poets have gathered in Alpine on the campus of Sul Ross State University. It’s called the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering and it kicks off today.

Doris Daley has been coming to this event in Alpine for 13 years. It’s smaller, and she thinks homier, than similar events across the country.

And here at Alpine, Texas, it’s a gathering-up of old friends and new friends, a Western hug and a Western howdy. There’s nothing razzle-dazzle about Alpine. None of it is for show. It’s more like a family gathering.

And it’s not a festival – as organizers will tell you – it’s a gathering. One of them, Bill Brooks, says it’s really about the performers doing their thing. The audience just happens to be there.

Because we have been true to our mission since Day One. And that is to make it kind of a reunion; thus, the gathering name – for them – then invite the public to come hear them.

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