A view from Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park. (Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

Despite Government Shutdown, Some Operations At Big Bend Return

By Mitch Borden

As the partial government shutdown —now the longest in U.S. history– continues, employees at Big Bend National Park in far West Texas are in their fourth week of unemployment.

While many bathrooms, trails, and campgrounds closed when the shutdown began in late 2018, today, officials with the 800,000-acre park in Brewster County announced they’ll “resume routine basic custodial services and trash removal.”


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Mississippi Records' presentation attempts to tell the entire history of recorded music in 90 minutes. (Photo Courtesy of Mississippi Records)

EVENT: Portland’s Mississippi Records Comes To Marfa

On Tuesday, Jan. 15 join Marfa Public Radio and Mississippi Records for a “cosmic and earthly history of recorded music.”

The record label’s founder, Eric Isaacson, will present a mix of film, audio, and slides. The presentation attempts to tell the entire history of recorded music in 90 minutes, from the first star being born to the current age of bizarre technology.


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A natural gas pipeline under construction in Alpine, TX in 2016. (Travis Bubenik / Houston Public Media)

New Push For Eminent Domain Reform Expected At Texas Legislature

By Travis Bubenik, Houston Public Media

If you want to cook up a battle over private property rights in Texas, here’s the recipe:

Take a handful of sprawling cities and growing populations that are expanding into once-rural areas, add a booming oil and gas industry with a desperate need for new pipelines to move record-high volumes of hydrocarbons, and sprinkle in the new electric lines needed to power both of those trends.


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Julian Castro announces that he's running for president at an event in San Antonio on Saturday. (Julia Reihs / KUT)

Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro Announces He’s Running For President

By Ben Philpott, KUT 

Julián Castro, former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, announced Saturday that he is running for president.

The 44-year-old told a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered at Plaza Guadalupe in San Antonio about his life there – from going to school to becoming mayor. He thanked everyone who had helped him get from then to now.


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An aerial view of the "tent city" in Tornillo, Texas, on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. The shelter opened in June. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune)

Tornillo Tent City For Youth Migrants Is Now Empty, Texas Congressman Says

By Matthew Watkins, Texas Tribune

A Texas congressman said Friday that the federal government has officially removed all children from the Tornillo detention center for undocumented migrant youths, ending more than half a year of operation for a facility that was decried by critics as a “tent city” and served as a symbol of President Donald Trump’s hardline approach to immigration.


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The 37,000-acre KC7 ranch is closer to being sold. (Photo courtesy of Icon Global Group)

This West Texas Ranch Near The Davis Mountains Is Closer To Being Sold

By Carlos Morales

A West Texas ranch spreading across 37,000 acres in Reeves and Jeff Davis Counties is closer to being sold.

El Paso Businessman Paul Foster has placed a $32.5 million offer on the KC7 ranch, which sits along the foothills of the Davis Mountains near Interstate 10.


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Lisa Bownds founded Reflection Ministries in 2016. (Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio)

Midland Nonprofit To Open Shelter For Victims of Sex-Trafficking

By Sally Beauvais

Reflection Ministries, a Midland-based nonprofit established in 2016, is preparing to open the region’s first long-term care facility for victims of sex-trafficking.

The group presented a lecture at Midland College Thursday night, as a part of Phi Theta Kappa Student Honor Society’s Honors in Action initiative. According to Reflection Ministries President Lisa Bownds, the nonprofit has spoken in front of more than 900 people around the Permian Basin since May, spreading awareness of an issue that tends to fly under the radar.


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Parents and residents brainstorm on the qualities ECISD's next superintendent should have. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Odessa Residents Chime In On Superintendent Search

By Mitch Borden

The search is on for the new Ector County Independent School District Superintendent. Recently, in Odessa, public meetings were held to gather the opinions of community members about what kind of person residents want to see lead their schools.


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Sharon Wilson using an FLIR camera to track oil and gas emissions. (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)

Activists And Researchers Are Working To Keep Tabs On Oil And Gas Emissions Near Balmorhea

By Mitch Borden

Funky smelling fumes, dimmer skies, and increased health concerns have all been reported by residents in the Southwest corner of the Permian Basin as the oil and gas industry expands. Growth has been happening north of the Davis Mountains over the last two years.  

Concerns about greenhouse gasses and toxic emissions have spurred some citizens like Sharon Wilson— to try to keep oil companies accountable themselves, one rig at a time.


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Marfa City Hall (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)

Marfa Commission Proposes City Zoning Changes

By Sally Beauvais

Marfa’s Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council addressed a packed house Tuesday night, during the first of two joint public hearings in which they’ll be taking comments from residents about proposed changes to the city’s zoning map.

The commission is tasked with keeping the map current, as well as identifying areas where the city can create new opportunities for use — whether commercial or residential. According to city officials, the map hasn’t been updated in 10 years.


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KRTS 93.5 is getting a new transmitter. (Ian Lewis / Marfa Public Radio)

Station Milestones: KRTS Gets A New Transmitter

Longtime listeners to Marfa Public Radio know that stormy weather and power outages periodically knock 93.5 off the airwaves. Some of these off-air moments are unavoidable — put a 300 foot radio tower on top of a 7,200 foot mountain in West Texas, and you get lightning strikes, high wind, and equipment failure.

But updated, more efficient technology helps. So in hopes of fewer off-air moments in 2019, the station is installing a new transmitter.


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Texas Legislature Will Look At School Funding, Safety In The Upcoming Session

By Claire McInerny, KUT

State lawmakers filed dozens of bills about educating kids ahead of Tuesday’s start to the legislative session. The most interesting discussion at the Capitol will likely be around school funding.

It’s something the Legislature brings up every session, but bills aren’t always passed. Lawmakers typically pass school funding bills only when they’re forced to act because of a lawsuit.

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UPDATE: Suspect in Alpine Murder Found Dead From Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

By Sally Beauvais

The suspect of a murder in Alpine was found dead Sunday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to law enforcement officials.

The Alpine Police Department had been looking for 42-year-old Robert Nin since Saturday, when they announced an arrest warrant for the Alpine resident on social media.

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Jean Beaufort

After A Slow Start In 2019, Permian Oil Prices Expected to Rebound

By Mitch Borden

Oil companies in West Texas are currently seeing low prices for their crude. One industry forecast for the year predicts 2019 may not start with a bang, but new pipelines being built in the Permian Basin may change that.  

The new year is starting off a bit slow for the oil industry in the Permian Basin, with West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, trading around $45 per barrel.

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The Rambling Boy Meets West Texas Wonders, Part 2

Rachel Maxwell of Alpine wants to know what the highest level of education the Burro Lady achieved was. Harry Hudson of Dallas wants to know how Mrs. Kerr of Fort Stockton’s marriage proposal related to rainfall. Gretchen Coles of Marfa wonders what route Old Ft. Davis Road followed from Marfa to Fort Davis when it was built — according to her plat map, it included the street she lives on. Phoenix Navidson of Marfa is curious about why there are so many old gas stations in town.

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The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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The Burro Lady, Rainfall and Marriage, Old Roads And Gas Stations With The Rambling Boy

Rachel Maxwell of Alpine wants to know what the highest level of education the Burro Lady achieved was. Harry Hudson of Dallas wants to know how Mrs. Kerr of Fort Stockton’s marriage proposal related to rainfall. Gretchen Coles of Marfa wonders what route Old Ft. Davis Road followed from Marfa to Fort Davis when it was built — according to her plat map, it included the street she lives on. Phoenix Navidson of Marfa is curious about why there are so many old gas stations in town.

On this episode of The Rambling Boy, Lonn teams up with Marfa Public Radio’s Sally Beauvais to answer some more of our listeners questions about esoteric regional history.

These questions came to us via West Texas Wonders, our journalism initiative where you ask and Marfa Public Radio investigates. Submit your question below.

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