Outside a polling place in Alpine, TX on Election Day, 2016. (Travis Lux/KRTS)

There’s An Election Next Month. Here’s What You Can Expect To See On Your Ballot.

By Marfa Public Radio

Early voting for next month’s election begins Oct. 21 and runs through Nov. 1. Throughout the state, voters will weigh in on 10 constitutional amendments. You can find a break down of each amendment here, and see a sample ballot here.

But apart from the constitutional amendments Texans will be voting on, there are also a few bond elections and local races that will appear on some West Texas ballots.


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Patrick Payton, Jerry Morales, and Jenny Cudd (From left to right) debate in the first of two Basin PBS mayoral debates. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Who Are The Candidates For Midland’s Mayoral Election?

By Mitch Borden

Early voting for the Nov. 5 elections in Texas is underway. In Midland, voters are weighing in on several local races, including a bond election, city council races and the Midland mayoral race.

When it comes to who will lead the Tall City for the next two years, Midlanders will have their choice between incumbent Jerry Morales, small business owner Jenny Cudd and former megachurch pastor Patrick Payton.


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A makeshift memorial for the 22 people who died in a mass shooting in El Paso. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Texas Lawmakers Visit El Paso In Effort To Prevent Future Mass Shootings

By Mallory Falk, KERA

Texas has seen four major mass shootings in the last two years. Despite conversations in communities and at the statehouse, little has changed in the state. But after gunmen killed 29 people in two West Texas shootings in August, state leaders called for “meaningful action” and formed special committees in the Texas house and senate. Their charge: come up with policies that will reduce mass violence.


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Speaker Dennis Bonnen in the House Chamber on March 27, 2019, the day the House will take up HB1, the 2020-21 budget plan. (Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune)

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Won’t Seek Reelection After Recording Scandal

By Cassandra Pollock, Texas Tribune

First-term Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on Tuesday announced he will not seek reelection to the lower chamber in 2020 — completing a stunning fall for the Angleton Republican who enjoyed near unanimous support in the House just months earlier.


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The Texas Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence And Community Safety held a public hearing in Odessa where they spoke to local officials and residents about how to prevent future mass shootings. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

State Senators Travel To Odessa In An Effort To Find Ways To Prevent Future Mass Shootings

By Mitch Borden

On Thursday, the Texas Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence And Community Safety held a public hearing at Odessa College. The state lawmakers listened to Permian Basin residents and local officials suggestions on how to prevent mass shootings — like the one that happened in Odessa late August.


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Energy Secretary Rick Perry had signaled earlier that he would leave his post by the end of the year. (REUTERS / Ints Kalnins)

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry Tells Donald Trump He Will Resign As Energy Secretary

By Stacy Fernández, Texas Tribune

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, will resign as secretary of energy later this year, President Donald Trump said during a visit to Texas on Thursday.

Perry drew scrutiny after being entangled in the president’s efforts to push Ukraine officials to investigate the son of a political rival.


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Heyue Zhang is a pianist from Nanjing, China. (Courtesy of Nick Hurt)

Texans In Tune: Heyue Zhang

Texans In Tune is a segment of Marfa Public Radio’s Monday classical music program In Tune, featuring live performances with students at the University of Texas Butler School of Music.

In this segment — which originally aired on Monday, October 14th — host Nick Hurt speaks with Heyue Zhang, a pianist from Nanjing, China currently studying with Gregory Allen in Austin. 


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Patrick Payton, former pastor at stonegate church in Midland, pulled in almost $200,000 in campaign contributions in less than three months. (Photo courtesy of the Payton Campaign)

In Midland’s Mayoral Race, Former Pastor Patrick Payton Is Raking In Campaign Contributions — Which Could Be Trouble For Opponents

By Mitch Borden

This week the three candidates competing to be the Midland mayor revealed how much they’ve raised for their campaigns — and one candidate had a record-breaking haul.


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Protesters stand outside the Governor's Mansion in 2015 to rally against Abbott's statement towards refusal of Syrian refugees. (Pu Ying Huang for KUT News)

Texas Groups Brace For Cuts That Could ‘Devastate’ Refugee Resettlement Services

By Ashley Lopez, KUT

Texas’ refugee resettlement programs are bracing for what could be a huge blow – one that stakeholders say could weaken the state’s support system for years to come.

White House officials recently announced plans to resettle the fewest number of refugees in recent history. The administration set the country’s cap at about 18,000 refugees – the lowest since the program was established in 1980.


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UPDATE: Multiple Witnesses Come Forward Claiming They Saw A Student With A Gun During Permian High School’s Evacuation

By Mitch Borden

Officials at Ector County Independent School District are still looking into what exactly caused hundreds of students to evacuate Permian High School in Odessa on October 10h.

That morning, Ector County ISD received a phone call warning officials there was a student at the school with a gun. Police were soon dispatched and then, at around 10:20 a.m., students were in between classes when a fire alarm was pulled. That’s when students fled the building.

The school district confirmed there was no active shooter, but police are still investigating and have not been able to confirm if a firearm started the panic.

A source close to the investigation told Marfa Public Radio that does not mean there wasn’t a gun involved.

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Number Of Migrant Kids In Texas Facilities Drops Suddenly

By Elizabeth Trovall, Houston Public Media

Facilities and foster groups that house migrant teens are at about half capacity in Texas. There are currently some 3,000 migrant kids being held in federal care statewide, according to Texas Health and Human Services. 

That’s 30% fewer children than they had in custody in August, and half the amount from June. 

Some of the shelters are at a quarter of their normal capacity. 

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After Students Fled Permian High — Ector County ISD Says There Was No Active Shooter

By Mitch Borden

This morning, according to Odessa’s Ector County School District, a fire alarm was pulled at Permian High School, causing students to flee the building and some classrooms to go on lockdown. Exactly what happened at the Odessa school is still unclear.

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Thu. Oct 10 Interview: Big Bend’s 75th Birthday; Chinati Artist In Residence Leeza Meksin

Big Bend National Park was founded in 1944. (L. Bartsch / Courtesy of National Park Service)

Superintendent Bob Krumenaker
& Chief of Interpretation Tom VandenBerg

On West Texas Talk, we’re celebrating the 75th birthday of Big Bend National Park. Diana Nguyen speaks to Superintendent Bob Krumenaker and Chief of Interpretation Tom VandenBerg about the history of the beloved parks founding and about what’s on the horizon.



Chinati Artist in Residence Leeza Meksin (Diana Nguyen / Marfa Public Radio)

Chinati Artist In Residence Leeza Meksin

The Chinati Foundation has hosted artist residents from a variety of disciplines since 1989. Each year, the organization chooses six people to work in Marfa for two months.

Chinati’s current guest is Leeza Meksin — a New York-based interdisciplinary artist who works in painting, installation, and public art. Meksin was born in the former Soviet Union but emigrated to the United States with her family in 1989.

Meksin received an MFA from The Yale School of Art and a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  She currently teaches at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

Meksin will have an Open Studio at The Locker Plant in Marfa on Friday, October 11 from 5 to 8 pm as part of Chinati Weekend.


West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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Border Patrol Apprehensions Dipped Last Month, But 2019 Saw A Dramatic Increase From 2018

By Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune

EL PASO — The number of people who were apprehended by or surrendered to federal immigration officials on the U.S.-Mexico border dipped by nearly 20% last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday. After totaling about 64,000 apprehensions in August, the agency reported a September total of about 52,500 apprehensions — a decrease of about 18%.

The September total is about 40% of July’s estimated 82,000 and the lowest monthly total of the 2019 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics.

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