Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week on guns and school safety. (GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT)

Here Are 22 Ideas Gov. Abbott Shared For Stopping School Shootings

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The first roundtable, held Tuesday, focused on “school and community safety.”

The meeting was private, but afterward Abbott read reporters “a list of suggestions and ideas that came out of” the discussions.

He said these ideas will help Texas lawmakers come up with new policy to stop gun violence.


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David Suro, restaurateur and tequila producer, is among the founders of the Tequila Interchange Project. Suro and his partners argue that the future of agave spirits – and of agave itself – depends on a respect for the plant’s ecology, including its intimate link with two species of “agave bats.” Suro, and fellow Tequila Interchange Project founder and bat scientist Rodrigo Medellín, will speak at the upcoming Agave Festival Marfa.

Tequila Interchange Project Says Future of Agave Spirits Must Be “Bat-Friendly”

It’s been a staple for as long as people have lived within its range. From Texas to the Mexican interior, agave has been food, fiber and drink, and its distilled spirits – tequila, mezcal – have been called “the spirit … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm.

Elmaz Abinader (Sally Beauvais/KRTS)

Thursday Interview: Lannan Resident Elmaz Abinader on Writing the Personal into the Political, and Growing Up Arab American

On this episode, Sally Beauvais speaks with writer Elmaz Abinader about her family’s dislocation from Lebanon to the United States, and how that has informed her work.

Abinader is an award-winning author of two volumes of poetry, This House, My Bones and In the Country of My Dreams, and a memoir, The Children of the Roojme: A Family’s Journey from Lebanon. She’s also written plays that uncover personal narratives of Arabs living through political trauma.

She teaches at Mills College in Oakland, CA and is co-founder of the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, which holds annual workshops for writers of color.

Abinader will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 27 at 6 pm.

 

West Texas Talk is each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.

Public Domain Photos.net

As Drought Spreads Across Texas, Ranchers Are Forced to Liquidate Their Stock

One Panhandle ranch manager is liquidating 90 percent of his cattle, because there’s not enough grass to support them.


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Photo Courtesy of Craig Hawker

UPDATE: Local Crews Fight Two Fires in Jeff Davis County

Fire crews across West Texas continue to fight two blazes burning in Jeff Davis County. As of Wednesday morning, the two fires are almost fully contained.

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Author Melissa del Bosque will speak Saturday May 26 at 6:00 PM at the Crowley Theater. (Photo Courtesy of del Bosque)

Melissa del Bosque Discusses her Book “Bloodlines” in Marfa on Saturday

This weekend, award winning investigative journalist Melissa del Bosque will read from her book Bloodlines at the Crowley Theater in Marfa at 6 PM. 

She has written about the U.S.-Mexico border since 1998 for various media outlets, including The Texas Observer, the Guardian, and Time.


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The US 67 Corridor Master Plan public meeting in Marfa. (Carlos Morales for Marfa Public Radio)

Concern and Optimism Surrounds the US 67 Corridor Master Plan

Last week, the Texas Department of Transportation hosted a series of meetings to gather public input about a major West Texas roadway — US 67. To some, it’s a welcome conversation about making this traveled path safer. But for others, the renewed talks are reminiscent of a contentious study years ago.


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Lupe Valdez gives her victory speech after defeating Andrew White in the Democratic runoff for governor on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Photo by Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune)

Lupe Valdez becomes first openly gay and first Latina candidate to win a major party nomination for Texas governor

After swapping leads early in the Democratic gubernatorial runoff, Valdez pulled ahead of White and will face incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.


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Tarek Atoui (Diana Nguyen for Marfa Public Radio)

Wednesday Interview: Artist and Composer Tarek Atoui

On this episode, we speak to artist and composer Tarek Atoui and curator Jennifer Burris. Marfa Live Arts, in collaboration with Fieldwork Marfa, will showcase his “examination of sound, place, and the social practice of improvisation across the varied landscapes of Marfa” during Marfa Sounding. This will be the third and final year of this project.

Atoui discusses his background, influences and practice of creating instruments and spaces which question the definition of listening. The artist insists that his improvisational and collaborative performances are meant to be experienced in-person. Atoui’s performances are something that “not only involves the ears as a way of listening, but also involves the eyes, the body, the sense of touch. It’s a very experiential way of listening to a concert of musical performance.”

The entire schedule for site-specific musical performances during Marfa Sounding can be found here.

West Texas Talk is each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.

GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT

Election Results: 2018 Party Primary Runoffs

It’s Election Day for the Democrat and Republican primary runoff elections in Texas. Voters across West Texas will cast ballots in a handful of local and statewide races, including. Get the latest results here:


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(L) RICK TREVINO, (R) GINA ORTIZ-JONES

In District 23 Democratic Primary Runoff, Jones and Treviño Battle to Face Will Hurd

Today is Election Day for the party primary runoffs in Texas. One of the races still up for grabs is the democratic candidate for Congressional District 23. 

Here’s what you need to know about the sprawling Congressional District and the Democratic Candidates looking to represent it.


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Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

U.S. House Rejects Farm Bill With Controversial Changes to Food Assistance

The legislation would have restricted eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


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Calvary Crossroad Church, seen two days after Friday’s deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School. (Travis Bubenik/Houston Public Media)

Santa Fe Church Community Reflects On Texas Shooting

Rocked by Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School, the religious community is looking for answers. Some faith leaders and churchgoers say prayer needs to return to school.


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Waste Control Specialists' Federal Waste Facility in Andrews County (Courtesy of Waste Control Specialists)

Andrews’ City Manager Glen Hackler on High-Level Nuclear Waste

Earlier this month, the House of Congress passed a bill to move forward on plans for building out the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada. Some legislators hope this will be the final home for the country’s nuclear waste — a problem the federal government has struggled with for several decades. The overdue decision hangs in a political balance, with Senate approval uncertain. 

The Department of Energy is also tasked with finding “interim” homes for the high-level nuclear waste. In this case, “interim” means anywhere from sixty to a hundred years. 

One of those potential sites is in Andrews County, Texas, where the company Waste Control Specialists already operates a low-level nuclear waste site. In 2016, WCS submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store high-level nuclear waste. The company halted the review after financial concerns, but have resumed the licensing process once again. Although some Andrews’ County officials have expressed support of the project, not everyone is convinced. 

Andrews City Manager Glen Hackler says there simply isn’t enough information about the project. “It needs to have the right geology, the right science, and the proper regulatory oversight,” Hackler says. “That’s the official position of the city of Andrews as the governing entity.”

Photo courtesy of Ector ISD

Ector Middle School May Secure Non-Profit Charter Partnership

Ector County Independent School District is getting closer securing a partnership with a non-profit organization that could take over operations for Ector Middle School next year. 

The ECISD Board of Trustees approved an agreement last month with Ector Success Academy Network – the entity that would operate the school as a charter beginning Fall 2018.


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GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT

What You Need to Know About the Race for District 23

Early voting continues this week for the Democrat and Republican primary runoff elections in Texas.

In the race for the Congressional District 23, Democrat voters will decide whether Gina Ortiz Jones or Rick Treviño get’s the nomination.


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A pharmacist holds prescription painkiller OxyContin, 40mg pills, made by Purdue Pharma. (Photo: REUTERS/George Frey)

Texas sues the maker of OxyContin over the opioid epidemic

The Texas Attorney General’s Office says Purdue Pharma fueled “the nation’s opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers,” including OxyContin.


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The McDannald Ranch Fire burned up hills inside the Highway 188/166 scenic loop west of Fort Davis. (Photo: Sally Beauvais/KRTS)

After Nearly 2 Weeks, McDannald Ranch Fire Now 100 Percent Contained

As of Monday, May 14, the McDannald Ranch Fire, which has been burning west of Fort Davis since late April, is 100% contained. It burned up 19,043 acres of grassland in the Davis Mountains.

Millions of dollars in resources and personnel were directed towards putting out the fire, which reached into portions of the Davis Mountains Nature Preserve. 


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Democratic candidates for governor Andrew White (left) and Lupe Valdez (right) hold a debate at St. James Episcopal Church in Austin on Friday, May 11, 2018. (Photo: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune)

Lupe Valdez, Andrew White clash over abortion, immigration in debate

The Democratic runoff candidates for governor sparred Friday evening over abortion and immigration in their first and likely only debate before the May 22 election.


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The spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park in West Texas. (Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

With State Park Pool Closed, Balmorhea is in For a Long, Hot Summer

The community, which depends heavily on the pool to attract tourists, is currently benefiting from the Permian Basin oil boom.


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The Voices from Both Sides festival takes place on the border of Lajitas and Paso fajitas. The event, also known as Fiesta Protesta, calls for the return of an informal port of entry along the isolated stretch. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

At Lajitas’ Fiesta Protesta, Calls for Border Port to Return

The Trump administration’s tough talk on immigration and campaign promises of a border wall have given new meaning to the annual Voices from Both Sides festival on the Texas-Mexico border.

At the event, residents from both Mexico and the U.S. meet in the middle of the muddy Rio Grande to reunite with family members and recall a time when they could cross the border with ease.


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On a map of Highway 67 drivers write out potential changes, like rest areas and passing lanes. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

TxDOT Hosts Public Meetings for US 67 Corridor Study

The Texas Department of Transportation is currently in the middle of conducting a two-year study on the Highway 67 Corridor. As tourism and travel along the highway increases, the study aims to identify short, medium, and long term projects for the corridor. 


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In May, Balmorhea State Park began limiting visitors to 1,300 people a day. (Diana Nguyen)

Balmorhea State Park Pool Closes After Structural Damage Found

If you’re in West Texas and planning on making a trip to the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world, you’ll have to wait.

That’s because Balmorhea State Park pool has been closed  due to “structural failure.”


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Environmentalists say the growing sand mining business in the Permian Basin is threatening the dunes sagebrush lizard's habitat. (Photo by Steve Jurvetson)

Environmental groups ask feds to protect threatened West Texas lizard

Two environmental groups asked the federal government on Tuesday to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as threatened or endangered.


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(Photo: Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Report: After Donald Trump took office, ICE transfers jumped 60 percent in most populous Texas county

Even before last year’s protests, lawmaker scuffles and marathon committee hearings over “sanctuary” legislation, Texas counties were some of the most compliant when it came to immigration enforcement, a new study shows.


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(Erik Hersman via Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

May Election Results Across West Texas

Voters across West Texas have decided on a range of issues and elected candidates to fill positions from city council to their local school board. This is a collection of some of the results.


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This Week’s West Texas Headlines: Walkouts, Boundary lines and Charter School Proposals

Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.


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Dr. Ron Green (Image Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute)

Dr. Ron Green on Understanding West Texas Water

In the early 1950s, over-pumping water in Pecos County led to Comanche Springs drying out. In an effort to not repeat history, researchers are now trying to better understand West Texas’ water systems and how to properly manage them. This research is spurred by growing interest in the Balmorhea area from the oil and gas industry.

Dr. Ron Green is a groundwater hydrologist with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. He joined us to talk about the current understanding of water systems in West Texas, and some of the research that will happen in the near future. 

Manny Varona-Torres and Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand (Diana Nguyen for Marfa Public Radio)

U.T. Arlington’s C.L.E.A.R. is Researching Produced Water Recycling

The upswing of oil and gas production has spurred scientists and researchers to look at ways to diminish the potential impact of oil and gas production on water resources. In West Texas, part of the solution could mean finding effective ways to recycle produced water — waste byproduct made during oil and gas production.

Diana Nguyen speaks with Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand from the Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis Remediation(C.L.E.A.R) about recent research on recycling produced water. The organization partnered with the company Challenger Water Solutions to conduct this research, which Hildenbrand says has been successful.

“The implications for this are…to improve environmental stewardship, but also to save companies money in their operating costs,” Hildenbrand says.

He joined us to talk about the research, its implications, and the water monitoring C.L.E.A.R has been conductingin Balmorhea since 2016.

May 11th News Editor Roundtable

Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.

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In West Texas, Fracking Companies Face a Tough Challenger – The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Out in the sand dunes of west Texas, a tiny lizard has been wrapped up in a big controversy for years. The four-inch long dunes sagebrush lizard calls the middle of the Permian Basin home, but conservationists have long feared the oil boom there would be detrimental to the lizard’s rare habitat. But in the past year, a new threat has emerged.

The process of hydraulic fracking relies on the use of a very specific type of sand called frac sand. And the recent increase in mining for it is the new threat facing the dunes sagebrush lizard. This has left conservationists scrambling to find new ways to protect them.

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McDannald Ranch Fire Now 83 Percent Contained

Nearly 2 weeks after it first started, the McDannald Ranch fire is now 83 percent contained and still has a footprint just above 19,000 acres.

The McDannald Ranch Fire — which is believed to have been started by a lightning strike — has burned throughout the Davis Mountains area since April 30th.

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More than a Week Later, the McDannald Ranch Fire is Now 77 percent Contained

More than a week after it first started, a west Texas wildfire is now 77 percent contained and has a footprint just above 19,000 acres.

The McDannald Ranch Fire — that’s believed to have been started by a lightning strike — has burned throughout the Davis Mountains area since April 30th.

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Thu. May 10 Interview: Literary Criticism, Earthquakes, and Walking with Lannan Resident David Ulin

On this episode, Rachel Monroe speaks to writer David Ulin about how his experiences in New York and Los Angeles influenced his writing. They discuss two of his non-fiction works, The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, and Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles.

The writer spent several years at the LA Times as a book editor and critic. He is currently assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.  A second edition of his book, The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time, will be published September 4, 2018 with a new introduction and afterword.

Ulin will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 13 at 6 pm.

West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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