We’re Hiring a Development Director!

Marfa Public Radio believes in the capacity of public media to shape and animate who we are, where we live, and how we relate. Public media from West Texas serves a critical role in our state and our nation: from border stories to energy stories, West Texas is a part of the country whose stories need to be amplified. MPR has been one of the most awarded small-market stations in the nation for excellence in journalism.

We are looking for a dynamic Development Director who is passionate about facilitating the financial health of our stations. The Development Director is an integral member of our team. S/he will develop and implement our annual fundraising strategy with know-how, wit, and attention to detail. Our Development Director is a passionate advocate for the power of public radio.

We are seeking candidates who can demonstrate success at generating revenue through multiple funding streams: membership, major donor cultivation, underwriting, and grants. Other important attributes include being a team player, having a sense of humor, and a strong belief in the power of storytelling.

This is a full-time, salaried position.
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Robert Fabian (Alpine Police Department)

No Trial Location Set for Suspect in Zuzu Verk Murder Case

Robert Fabian, the main suspect in the murder of Zuzu Verk, appeared in a courtroom in Alpine this morning as part of a pre-trial hearing. Verk was a student at Sul Ross State University, when she disappeared last year. Fabian is facing first-degree murder charges in her death.

Fabian’s attorney, Harold Danford, filed a motion today for information about the prosecutors’ witnesses. A change of venue for Fabian’s trial was granted back in August. But there was no talk today of where or when the trial will take place.
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Rick Treviño is one of the four candidates running in the democratic primary for District 23 (Photo courtesy of Rick Treviño)

District 23 Candidate Rick Treviño on his Congressional Run and What Inspired It

Rick Treviño is hoping to bring his “progressive platform” to District 23. Held by Helotes Republican Will Hurd, the district is often considered one of the most competitive and is a target district for Democrats in 2018.

Treviño recently talked about his campaign and the inspiration for his platform.


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Mayan Interpreters Scramble to Meet Demand ‘Before the Wall Goes Up’

Since the late 1970s, Guatemalans been crossing the border into to the United States in large numbers – taking their indigenous languages with them. As Guatemalan immigration continues, paired with anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, demand for translators of America’s ancient languages is on the rise.

Carmelina Cadena wanted to be an interpreter since she was a child. At five years old she left her home country of Guatemala. Her family was fleeing extreme violence.

“My uncles, my cousins were put in a house and they were set on fire while they were still alive,” Cadena says.

After a couple years in Mexico, Cadena and her family crossed into U.S. territory where they were met by Border Patrol.

“We turned ourselves in to immigration and we were just there at their mercy.”

Her family, unlike many Guatemalans at the time, were able to understand some Spanish. But, they mostly spoke the Mayan language Akateko. Cadena watched her mom struggle to understand court documents and proceedings as the immigration status of the family hung in the balance. She says the family could have received residency sooner if there had been an interpreter working with them.

Though it took decades, Cadena eventually did get her residency and citizenship. Her experience inspired her to found Maya Interpreters, an organization that hires speakers of 14 Mayan languages to do telephonic interpretations all over the United States, including West Texas.

Business has been good – too good. She’s struggling to meet demand for interpreters,  which are hired by refugee resettlement programs, immigration courts and other organizations.

“As soon as January hit we noticed there was a spike and it has been incrementing little by little to at a point to where it’s becoming harder and harder to have everybody.”

Cadena says she attributes increased demand on the election of President Trump.

“I see it we all need to get in before the wall goes up.”

Mexico-United States Border at Big Bend Sector (Photo by Elizabeth Trovall)

Guatemalans have been immigrating to the United States for decades. When civil war violence spiked in Guatemala during the late 1970s, people fled their country in droves.

And it’s still an issue today. From 2007 to 2015, the number of Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. increased 31%, while Mexican immigration decreased 6% (Pew Research Center, 2017).

In terms of illegal immigration, more than half of people apprehended crossing the Southwest Border last year were from Central America, a total of 222,847 (CBP). During the 2017 fiscal year, 33,570 Guatemalans were removed by ICE, second only to Mexican removals (ICE).

“We’ve seen a steady increase in the what we term as ‘other than Mexicans’, majority of those being Guatemalans,” says Rush Carter, Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor for the Big Bend Sector.

The sector makes up a quarter of the southwest border.

Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor Rush Carter (Photo by Elizabeth Trovall)

Parked on the side of highway 90 near Alpine, Carter points to a hill where agents are tracking a group they suspect are Guatemalans. Carter says they’re hard to track. To avoid leaving footprints, they wear carpet on their shoes and usually are being guided by professional smugglers, or coyotes.

When the Border Patrol does find a group, communication is crucial.

“With the Guatemalans we do hear more of that indigenous language,” says Carter, “of course our agents are all trained in Spanish, however when they hear something like that it’s a foreign language to them.”

Though most Guatemalans do speak Spanish, organizations like the Border Patrol and immigration courts sometimes have to call on translation services like Cadena’s for help.

Communication is especially tricky in court, when a Guatemalan might understand some Spanish, but it’s their second language. Last year, of the ten most commonly-used languages used in U.S. immigration courts, two were Mayan languages. This demand for interpreters, combined with low supply and the fact that some Mayan languages are incredibly rare, creates extra challenges for Guatemalan immigrants.

“Unfortunately, the issue of facilitating translations for Guatemalans going through the immigration system has been difficult,” says Benito Juarez, of the International Mayan League. He also works for New American and Refugee Affairs for the City of Houston.

“If you don’t have language services available for somebody who is going through the immigration system, it basically makes more difficult the process and can affect the outcome, resulting in people just giving up and saying well, I’m just going back or being deported.”

He says there are just three organizations nationwide that provide translation assistance for indigenous Guatemalans going through the immigration process. One is Maya Interpreters – Cadena’s company.

She says with the increase in Guatemalans coming to the U.S., she’ll be scrambling to facilitate translations. Cadena is up for the challenge – she sees it as her American duty.

 

MIGUEL GUTIERREZ JR. FOR KUT

There’s A Democrat Running For Every Texas Congressional Seat Next Year

In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every congressional seat in next year’s midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas’ 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.


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Crew Capsule 2.0 features large windows, measuring 2.4 feet wide, 3.6 feet tall. (Photo courtesy of Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Completes Successful Test of “New Shepard”

On Tuesday, the commercial space flight company Blue Origin completed it’s latest rocket test in West Texas.


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West Texas Border Towns Face Barriers to Affordable Health Care

Texas continues to drag behind the rest of the country when it comes to health coverage, with a 16.6% uninsured rate, compared to 8.8% nationwide (U.S. Census Bureau). Within the state, counties along the border are where you see the highest uninsured rates. As the December 15th Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline approaches, navigators scramble to help people find an affordable plan. Despite their efforts (and improving uninsured rates) there are still many barriers keeping Texans – especially along the border – from finding affordable coverage.


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GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

Texas Landowners Take The Wind Out Of Their Sales

Owning land in Texas isn’t as simple as just owning land. The rights to some properties are divided between “surface rights” — who can build on the land — and “mineral rights” — who can extract oil and other things from underground. Now, there might be a new category in the mix: wind rights.


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The moment New Shepard's crew capsule separated from its rocket booster during last year's test launch. (Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Set to Begin Test Flights This Week

After a year-long hiatus, the commercial space company Blue Origin is resuming test flights at its West Texas facility.


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Emilio Gutierrez, seen here with Associated Press journalist Michele Salcedo, received a press freedom award from the National Press Club in October. (Noel St. John/National Press Club)

Mexican Journalist Seeking Asylum in the U.S. is Detained

Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez fled his home in the state of Chihuahua in 2008. After reporting on cartels and military corruption, he says his life was under threat and he’d been put on a “hit list.” Now, after nearly ten years in the U.S., Gutiérrez was arrested by immigration agents last week and told he would be deported, according to his lawyer.


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15 Undocumented Immigrants Found Outside Marfa, 1 Dead

After a night of 20-degree weather, 15 Guatemalan nationals who had entered the country illegally were found outside Marfa, suffering from various states of hypothermia, according to Border Patrol officials.  One of them died from the extreme conditions.


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(KRTS/Carlos Morales)

Delayed Starts and Closures for Area Schools on Friday

Winter weather and the icy conditions have caused several school districts in our area to either delay the start of school, or close today.


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Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez suffered injuries to his head and body while on patrol in Van Horn. Officials have yet to comment on the events that led to the officer's death. Photo courtesy of Border Patrol.

Two Suspects Emerge in the Death of Border Patrol Agent

According to federal documents, the FBI is closing in on two suspects they believe may have been involved in the death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez last month in Van Horn, Texas. It is still unclear exactly what happened, but the FBI has been investigating Martinez’s death as a “potential assault.”


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Photo by: Jackie Wasiluk. 185 pounds of liquid meth seized at the San Diego/San Ysidro crossing.

Meth traveling to the Permian Basin “spills” along the way

A drug sweep in the tri-county area last month lead to more than 30 arrests for distribution of drugs, specifically methamphetamine.


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Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, A Democrat, Is Running For Governor

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday morning that she is running for governor, giving Texas Democrats a serious candidate for the top job with five days until the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primaries.

“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition,” Valdez said in a statement. “Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor. I’m a proud Texas Democrat. I believe good government can make people’s lives better, and I intend to do just that.”

Valdez’s campaign said she will file for governor at 11:45 a.m. at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.

Until Wednesday, six little-known Democrats had filed to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is seeking a second term in 2018. Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White, has been exploring a run for weeks and is set to announce his campaign Thursday in Houston.

Here’s the statement the Valdez campaign campaign released Wednesday morning:

After 13 years of service to the good people of Dallas County, Sheriff Valdez will seek the Democratic nomination for Texas Governor. From migrant farmworker in a humble family of eight children to U.S. Army captain, federal agent to sheriff, Valdez has dedicated her life to hard work, service, and defending Texans.

“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition. Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor,” said Lupe Valdez. “I’m a proud Texas Democrat. I believe good government can make people’s lives better, and I intend to do just that.”

This morning, Sheriff Valdez will officially notify the Dallas County Commissioners Court of her decision to pursue the next chapter of her service and step down, initiating the process for the appointment of an interim sheriff and the primary and general election of her successor.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

CHERYL GERBER FOR THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

Texas Heads Back To Federal Appeals Court In Long-Winding Voter ID Fight

NEW ORLEANS — State officials and the minority rights groups suing Texas over its strict voter identification restrictions are headed back to court.


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Hundreds of Texas law enforcement officials lined the street in November for agent Rogelio Martinez's funeral. (KRTS/Carlos Morales)

BP Agent Death Still Unresolved, and Politicians’ Rush To Judgement May Be Part of the Reason

More than two weeks later, there are still more questions than answers in the death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez. He died after he and a fellow agent were seriously injured while on patrol around Van Horn in West Texas. After the incident, prominent politicians wasted no time weighing in, saying the officers had been attacked. Senator Ted Cruz called it a quote “Stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities.” President Donald Trump tweeted “We Will, and must, build the Wall!”

The investigation was quickly taken over by the FBI, which steps in whenever there’s a potential assault on a federal officer. Since then, they’ve released few details on the case. As Mallory Falk reports, those early statements by politicians may be part of the reason.

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Science teacher, Joel Chavez, stands in front of a TexNet earthquake monitor at Crockett Middle School in Pecos, Texas. (Bayla Metzger)

Despite Expert Reassurance, Pecos Residents Are Concerned About Earthquakes

Earthquakes have been on the rise in Texas for almost a decade. A lot of scientific research links these tremors to oil and gas activity, specifically to injection wells where frack wastewater is disposed of deep below the earth’s surface. In Pecos, an oil-rich town in the Permian Basin, residents have been experiencing a lot of earthquakes lately.

Joel Chavez, a middle school science teacher, experienced his first earthquake last December. He says he was lying in his bed reading at around 1:30am when it hit. “I definitely heard a boom. And then I felt a sensation go through my body,” he says. He knew right away that he needed to do something about it. He initially approached the Pecos City Council about setting up an interactive map where residents could self-report the earthquakes they felt, but the council opted not to help.
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Gina Ortiz Jones is a former intelligence officer. She's running in a packed primary field, hoping to challenge District 23 incumbent, Rep. Will Hurd.

District 23 Challenger Gina Ortiz Jones on her Congressional Run and the “Gut Check” that Led to It

Gina Ortiz Jones is one of the candidates running for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District 23. It’s currently held by Helotes Republican Will Hurd. It’s one of the most competitive congressional districts in the state, stretching from San Antonio into West Texas.

Jones recently talked about her decision to run and how her experiences following the 2016 election were a “gut check.”


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(KRTS Photo/Lorne Matalon)

A market solution to Texas’ groundwater woes?

Fracking has dramatically increased the demand for water in the nation’s most productive oil field, Texas’ Permian Basin. Water usage has already risen sixfold since 2011, and according to research firm IHS Markit, demand will double again by the end of this year.

The market for water is booming, but many in West Texas worry about the depletion of groundwater. But there are new market developments that could meet the demand for frack water and mitigate environmental concerns at the same time.


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The El Paso Christian Home School Panthers’ coaches speak to the team after their loss against Fort Davis ISD. Photo by Natalie Krebs

Texas Home Schoolers Have a League of Their Own

Barred from UIL competition, home schoolers have banded together to play six-man football and other sports.


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PHIL ROEDER/FLICKR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

What Does The Senate Tax Bill Mean For Texans?

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. House passed its version of a tax bill on Nov. 16, and now the Senate is racing to pass its own version before the end of the year.


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This picture by Jack Nolan shows the old Bankhead Highway south of the railroad tracks in Odessa, Texas. Photo courtesy of Petroleum Museum, Richard Donnelly Collection (69-029.003).

Did You Grow Up in an Oilfield Company Camp? We Want to Hear From You!

For the better part of the 1900s, oil field companies set up housing camps near boom towns to lure both white-collar and blue-collar workers. These camps provided basic shelter for workers and their families. But they also created a sense of community. The stories from these camps are part of a new project we’re working on in Marfa Public Radio and West Texas Public Radio.


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Dumas-area farmer Dee Vaughan checks the ground after a short test run in one of his combines. Vaughan has been farming since 1978 and worries increasing corporate control of agriculture may price farmers out of their jobs. Gary Rhodes for The Texas Tribune

As Bayer and Monsanto push for merger, Texas farmers fear rising prices

Multinational agricultural firms Bayer and Monsanto say their planned merger will boost innovation by consolidating resources. But some farmers say the merger eliminates competition and could lead to higher seed prices.


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GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

If Congress Doesn’t Fund CHIP, Thousands Of Pregnant Texans Will Lose Health Insurance, Too

If Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) soon, it’s not just Texas children who could lose access to health insurance; thousands of pregnant women could lose coverage, too.


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Hundreds of Texas law enforcement officials lined the street in November for agent Rogelio Martinez's funeral. (KRTS/Carlos Morales)

More than 500 Say Goodbye as Border Patrol Agent is Laid to Rest

More than 500 law enforcement officers, family and friends paid their respects Saturday to a West Texas border patrol agent who died last week. Details surrounding the agent’s death have yet to be revealed. Some Texas officials say the agent was the victim of an attack,  while others claim the agent might have accidentally fallen while on patrol.


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Border Patrol, Alpine, Texas (Photo by Frank Heinz, CC-BY-2.0)

Details of Border Patrol Agent’s Death Still Unclear

Details are still murky about what led the death of a US border patrol agent over the weekend. Agent Rogelio Martinez was found unconscious on Saturday night, in a culvert about twelve miles from Van Horn, Texas. 

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The site of a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities in Conroe, Texas that will house up to 1,000 immigrants at a cost of $44 million a year to U.S. taxpayer. JOHN BURNETT / NPR

Big Money As Private Immigrant Jails Boom

The Trump administration wants to expand its network of immigrant jails. In recent months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has called for five new detention facilities to be built and operated by private prison corporations across the country. Critics are alarmed at the rising fortunes of an industry that had fallen out of favor with the previous administration.


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Photo Courtesy of Texas Department of Public Safety

Warrants Issued Across West Texas for ‘Distribution of Drugs’

The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Investigations Division, along with local and state agencies, conducted a drug sweep in the tri-county area, leading to more than 30 arrests. The sweep reached across several West Texas counties.


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Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez suffered injuries to his head and body while on patrol in Van Horn. Officials have yet to comment on the events that led to the officer's death. Photo courtesy of Border Patrol.

Border Patrol Agent Dies While on Patrol in Van Horn

A U.S. Border Patrol Agent has died and another remains hospitalized after sustaining multiple injuries while on patrol in the Van Horn area this weekend.


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Marfa City Council

Marfa PD Discusses Department Report at City Council

The Marfa Police Department presented its first “Police Department” report at the Marfa City Council meeting Tuesday night. The report outlined department activities since the municipal force was launched on October 23rd of this year.


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Jeff Williams in front of an irrigation ditch on his family's alfalfa farm and ranch in Fort Stockton. Photo by Sally Beauvais

New Demand, Same Old Story: West Texans And Their Water

In arid west Texas, where rain is infrequent and rivers and lakes are few, groundwater – water from sources beneath the surface of the earth – is key to survival. And as the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin demands more of this resource from the surrounding area, researchers are scrambling to study the systems of webbed aquifers that feed households, farms, ranches and industry in the region.

But for residents there’s a familiar tension, over who gets to decide the fate of their water.


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Credit: Travis Bubenik

Despite A ‘Downturn,’ West Texas Oil Production Expected To Hit A Record High

Cost-cutting and advances in drilling technology are helping companies withstand persistently low oil prices.


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The growing number of oil rigs pulled in from the oilfield and stored in this lot in Odessa, Texas is a testament to the steep decline in the price of crude oil in the last year. (Lorne Matalon)

Report: West Texas Oil Boom Gives Rise to Gas Flares

A new report out this week by the Environmental Defense Fund finds the amount of gas lost to intentional releases and burnings — known as venting and flaring, respectively — ranges widely, suggesting a sizable performance gap between the Permian’s top producers.


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Source: Texas Department of Transportation

Safety Concerns Spur New Study of Traffic on U.S. 67

The Texas Department of Transportation is undertaking a 2-year long project on a major highway in West Texas.  The study will evaluate future needs for the major West Texas artery with input from people in the tri-county area.


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Despite A ‘Downturn,’ West Texas Oil Production Headed For A Record High

It was almost three years ago when the oil industry took a nosedive.

The headlines told stories of lost jobs and struggling towns,but now, despite the continued downturn, things seem better. At least in the Permian Basin of west Texas.


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MIGUEL GUTIERREZ JR. / KUT

Children’s Health Program In Texas Is Weeks Away From ‘Chaos,’ Advocates Warn

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending.

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September, and Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the program. Legislation aimed at shoring up the program has bipartisan support, but there’s disagreement in Congress about how to pay for it.


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After Sutherland Springs Shooting: Songs, Prayers, Tears

One week after the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the congregation gathered for its Sunday service to mourn the loss of the 26 lives while also celebrating the faith that brings them together.


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Marfa Police Chief On Policing in ‘Tight Knit Community’

It’s been about 2 weeks now since the Marfa Police Department began operations after a nearly 8 year hiatus. During that time the Presidio County Sheriff’s office serviced the town. But now police chief Esteban Marquez and a team of officers are patrolling the town, officially marking the return of a municipal police service.


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Painful history underpins ranchers’ opposition to the estate tax

By Caroline Halter

The Republican tax plan seeks to eliminate the estate tax, a 40% tax on the value of land and other inheritances over $5.49 million.

The Tax Policy Center estimates the estate tax will affect fewer than 100 farms in 2017, but eliminating it is still seen as a big win for rural communities in Texas and across America.

“I think we all know people who’ve lived through horror stories of the founding generation passes away, the next generation inherits the farm and then ends up having to sell it to pay the estate tax,” explained Tiffany Dowell Lashmet. She’s an attorney who specializes in Agricultural Law at Texas A&M. 

Those stories became rarer after the estate tax threshold was raised from just $1 million to over $5 million in 2012 and indexed for inflation. But, they’re still cited by lawmakers who oppose the tax.

Tyler Simonsen comes from a ranching family in West Texas, but he worries the Republican approach is merely a windfall for the wealthy.

“The Wall Street types definitely want to get rid of the estate tax. It’s just more money for them once they do,” he said.  “But for the ranchers, their land really is the lifeblood of their families.”

Instead of eliminating the tax, he’d like to see exemptions for ranchers.

“Getting rid of it just would, in my opinion, really hurt our system. It’d hurt the country more than anything,” said Simonsen. 

About 5,000 individuals will pay the estate tax in 2017, and almost all are in the top 10 percent of income earners in the United States. But, eliminating it is still seen as a meaningful policy change in rural parts of the state.

GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

Texans Add Seven Amendments To State Constitution

Voters added seven amendments to the Texas Constitution on Tuesday. The mostly noncontroversial propositions won by wide margins of up to 70 points, via KUT News.


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AP via NPR Blood donations, as well as financial donations, are the main ways in which people can help the victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre and their families.

How To Help Victims Of The Sutherland Springs Massacre

Blood donations, as well as financial donations, are the options at this point.


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LYNDA GONZALEZ / KUT

Multiple Casualties Reported In Church Shooting in South Texas

Multiple people are reported dead after a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.


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Marfa resident Emily Hocker in her adobe home. Hocker says her home appraisal increased by $39,000 this year. (Bayla Metzger)

The Cost of Living in a Dirt Home

A new classification system for adobe structures has caused a big jump in property taxes for some Presidio County homeowners.

Adobe is one of the most humble building materials around: it’s essentially mud, water and straw, shaped into brick, and dried in the sun. However, it’s also gained cachet in and around Marfa.

“Adobe is cool,” according to Paul Hunt, who formerly served on the Presidio County Appraisal District (PCAD) board of directors and the Appraisal Review Board. He says home buyers from Austin, Houston and New York have driven up the valuation of adobe properties. On real estate site Zillow, several adobe homes are currently listed for over half a million dollars; that’s in one of the poorest counties in the country.

At the beginning of this year, the PCAD created a new classification for adobe structures to reflect their true market value. According to Hunt, 380 homes were reclassified as adobe, resulting in a markup of approximately 60% for many.


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Guatemala Standoff: Migration & International Loans In Play

A constitutional standoff between the Guatemalan president and a United Nations-led commission prosecuting corruption is triggering a crisis that Guatemala’s Central Bank acknowledges may damage the country’s economy and spawn more illegal migration to the United States. Guatemalans in Vermont are among many within the Guatemalan diaspora in the United States dismayed by an attack on political reform but buoyed by the response of thousands of their countrymen and women inside Guatemala.


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Presidio County commissioners discuss embattled precinct 3 commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez at a meeting in July.

Months After Federal Bribery Arrest, Presidio County Official Resigns

At a Presidio County Commissioner’s Court meeting Wednesday, embattled Precinct 3 commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez officially resigned from his position. 


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Photograph courtesy of Archives of the Big Bend, “Dolores Garcia Collection”, Bryan Wildenthal Memorial Library, Sul Ross State University, Alpine Texas

From Richest Acre in Texas to Ghost Town: the Story of Shafter

On highway 67, some 20 miles before reaching the Mexican border, a green sign reads “Shafter Ghost Town”. A dusty drive takes you past adobe ruins with a glimpse at what’s left of this once-thriving mining town.


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West Texas Representative Reacts to Manafort Charges

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort surrendered to federal authorities this morning for 12 charges ranging from Money Laundering to conspiracy against the United States. Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos were also asked to turn themselves in. via Texas Public Radio.

 


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The Gateway International Bridge crosses over the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in Mexico. Photo: GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

What Stood Between An Undocumented Minor And An Abortion? One Trump Appointee

A 17-year-old girl who entered the U.S. without documentation or family told the staff at a Texas shelter in March that she wanted an abortion, reports KUT News.

The shelter is one of many in the U.S. under contract with the federal government to provide services to unaccompanied children (UACs). Those services include food and shelter, as well as health and education services.


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Porkers Into Profit: How Some Are Dealing With Texas’ Problem Pigs

At 2.6 million, there are more feral pigs in Texas than any other state. They do an estimated $52 million worth of damage to the state’s agriculture.

Hovering a few hundred feet above a cotton field outside College Station, Chase Roberts is pointing out just some of that damage.


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For Years Texans Ranched in Lobo. Now it’s Boarded up and Owned by Germans

Driving west out of Marfa, Texas, you’ll pass a foreboding sign. “No service next 74 miles.” You won’t see much on that stretch of highway 90. But past the small town of Valentine, population 134, there’s a place where the mountains stand guard over a row of desert-worn, derelict buildings. There’s a rundown 4-room hotel. A boarded up gas station. All covered in overgrown brush. This is Lobo


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We’re Hiring a Development Director!

Marfa Public Radio believes in the capacity of public media to shape and animate who we are, where we live, and how we relate. Public media from West Texas serves a critical role in our state and our nation: from border stories to energy stories, West Texas is a part of the country whose stories need to be amplified. MPR has been one of the most awarded small-market stations in the nation for excellence in journalism.

We are looking for a dynamic Development Director who is passionate about facilitating the financial health of our stations. The Development Director is an integral member of our team. S/he will develop and implement our annual fundraising strategy with know-how, wit, and attention to detail. Our Development Director is a passionate advocate for the power of public radio.

We are seeking candidates who can demonstrate success at generating revenue through multiple funding streams: membership, major donor cultivation, underwriting, and grants. Other important attributes include being a team player, having a sense of humor, and a strong belief in the power of storytelling.

This is a full-time, salaried position. Continue reading

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Thu. Dec 14 Interview: The State of Renewable Energy

On this episode of West Texas Talk we hear from Carey King on the state of renewable energy in Texas. King is the assistant director of the energy institute at the University of Texas at Austin which looks at the technology, policy and economics of energy.

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West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Wed. Dec 13 Interview: Stories from the Transom Traveling Workshop – Part Two

We bring you the second part of stories from the Marfa Transom Traveling Workshop. Transom has cultivated hundreds of audio producers who are making radio, podcasts, and much more. The class was taught by Rob Rosenthal and Matt Largey, KUT’s Managing Editor. 

The students came here to produce stories about people in the Big Bend in just a single week. You’ll hear about a traveling veterinarian, a post office worker, a certain restaurateur/musician/Justice of the Peace, and a spur collector.

These students who produced these stories are Margot Wohl, Brantley Hightower, Rachel Stevens, and Andrea Gibbs.

Margo Wohl lives in San Diego and is working towards a PhD in neuroscience. Wohl’s been producing short podcasts about scientists on the side.  When she was a kid, she wanted to be a veterinarian.

Brantley Hightower is an architect by trade, but has dabbled in teaching and writing. He’s also a dad.

Rachel Stevens lives in Bozeman, Montana. She works as a Creative Producer at an advertising agency. Stevens also works on documentaries, writes, and now, makes radio.

Andrea Gibbs is an actress and hosts “Weekends with Andrea Gibbs with the Australian Broadcasting Company. She also founded “Barefaced Stories,” a live storytelling show and podcast.

Thanks to Aaron Burbach, Leslie Williams, David Beebe, and Russ Quiett for sharing your stories.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Tue. Dec 12 Interview: Stories from the Transom Traveling Workshop – Part One

We bring you the first part of stories from the Marfa Transom Traveling Workshop. Transom has cultivated hundreds of audio producers who are making radio, podcasts, and much more. The class was taught by Rob Rosenthal and Matt Largey, KUT’s Managing Editor. 

The students came here to produce stories about people in the Big Bend in just a single week. You’ll hear about a policeman, an outdoors man, an aspiring winemaker, a bartender, and a glider pilot.

The students who produced these stories are Bridget Mulcahy, Christine Fennessy, Elizabeth Stewart-Sevry, Kathleen Mcgovern, and Sally Beauvais.

Bridget Mulcahy produces political podcasts in Washington DC and is largely self-taught.

Christine Fennessy is a longtime magazine editor turned podcaster. She helped  produce “The Runner’s World Show,” a weekly podcast for the magazine. To no surprise, Christine loves being outside.

Elizabeth Stewart-Sevry works for Aspen Public Radio. She reports on issues related to the environment, energy and outdoor recreation. She switched to radio from teaching about a year ago.

Kathleen Mcgovern is from Los Angeles. When she’s not producing audio, she’s working for the family business – tending bar.

Sally Beauvais is one of the reporters you regularly hear contribute to station reporting. She moved to Marfa about four years ago to intern at the station. Beauvais also teaches our youth media program.

Thanks to Gilbert Carillo, Roger Siglin, Ricky Taylor, Jerram Rojo, and Burt Compton for sharing your stories.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Fri. Dec 8 Interview: Rob Rosenthal Visits Marfa with the Transom Traveling Workshop

Rob Rosenthal has taught hundreds of students with Atlantic Public Media’s Transom Story Workshop – a celebrated program that has taught radio fundamentals to numerous audio producers. The website is a resource for those looking to learn the ins and outs of making radio.

For the first time ever, Rosenthal came to Marfa to teach a traveling workshop hosted by this station. Students visited from around the country to learn and produce stories about people who live in the Big Bend – all in a single week.

In this conversation, Pepple and Rosenthal discuss how he got into radio, the workshop, and what makes audio storytelling special.

“Think about how long we’ve been communicating in sound with one another… I don’t know what that sound was like, but I know we were doing it. I think it’s become, over the millennia, essential to who we are as critters… It’s part of what makes us human…” Rosenthal explains.

On Saturday, December 8, you can hear the stories produced during the Marfa Traveling Workshop from 6-8 pm at the Lumberyard.

Rosenthal also produces the podcast HowSound – a show that delves into the backstory to great radio storytelling.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Finnish Ski Troops During the Winter War

Finland is a small country. It covers 130,666 square miles, about half the size of Texas, and its population of 5.5 million people is about a fifth of that of Texas. On this episode of Rambling Boy, Lonn celebrates the centennial of Finnish independence from Russia, which was declared in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution on December 6, 1917.

Lonn has a personal tie to the country. His wife’s mother’s uncle, Karl Wilhelm Kankkonen, immigrated to America in 1879 from the coastal town of Kokkola, Finland to Astoria, Oregon. Lonn and his wife will fly the Finnish flag all weekend long.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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