Friday, March 8, 2024

The Roundup

Article Icon 1 Xcel Energy Admits Role in Wildfire

Xcel Energy has admitted that it played a role in causing the largest wildfire in Texas history—resulting in over 1.1 million acres burned, two deaths, and 500 structures destroyed.

Investigators with the Texas A&M Forest Service have determined that sparks from downed power lines ignited the Smokehouse Creek and Windy Deuce fires. While Xcel Energy acknowledged it may have caused the Smokehouse Creek fire, they dispute the alleged claims of larger infrastructure negligence.

As state and federal authorities continue to dig into the matter, Governor Abbott ordered flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Fire Chief Zeb Smith, who lost his life while fighting a house fire in Fritch, Texas.

Article Icon 1 A&M Student Mysteriously Disappears

Local authorities are actively searching for clues surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Caleb Harris, a student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He was last seen walking his dog at 2:45 a.m. on Monday, and the dog returned home later that day.

Corpus Christi Police have mobilized search parties and drones to canvas the city and nearby wetlands, while U.S. Coast Guard dive teams have been deployed to assist in the search efforts. As of now, there is no evidence of foul play.

The university is appealing to the public for any information that may aid in locating Harris, a 21-year-old man standing at 5’11” and weighing 180 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. If you have any information, please contact the city police department.

Article Icon 1 States Takes Control of IDEA Schools

The largest charter school network in Texas, IDEA Public Schools, has fallen under state control after investigators discovered the school used public funds for luxury chauffeurs, private boxes for Spurs games, and leasing a $15 million private jet.

Texas Education Agency officials announced they will appoint two conservators to inspect and assess the IDEA system, with the expected result of district-wide improvements. A similar situation happened earlier this year when the state took over Houston ISD.

This comes after the U.S. Department of Education completed an audit on the charter in 2021. The IDEA charter network has over 60 campuses nationwide and 15 in the San Antonio area. For the 2023-24 school year, they received $821 million in state funding.

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Around Texas

➤ Houston: A United Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines spewed fire. The Boeing 737 safely returned to Houston with no injuries reported. The FAA is investigating the incident. (See the Video)

➤ Borger: Local corrections officer Guy Pigg single-handedly saved ten homes from encroaching wildfires by constructing fire barriers. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice praised his heroic efforts. (More)

➤ Boca Chica: Officials from SpaceX announced their 400-foot Starship is preparing for a third super heavy test flight launch. Elon Musk stated they could launch as early as March 14 once the FAA approves it. (Video)

➤ Austin: Eanes Independent School District created its own police department and swore in the first nine officers. The district selectively enlisted candidates with prior law enforcement experience—strategically deploying them across nine campuses. (Photos)

➤ Arlington: YouTube celebrity Jake Paul announced he will fight the legendary Mike Tyson at AT&T stadium in July. Tyson’s most recent fight was an exhibition in 2020, and Paul is coming off recent UFC wins. Ticket sales are expected to begin soon. (Video)

Texas Sports

➤ Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders traveled with the USO and visited troops in South Korea. They went to four Army bases, including Camps Walker, Bonifas, Humphreys, and Casey. (Photos)

➤ Austin: University of Texas softball secured its first No. 1 ranking since 2006, winning 5-0 against the Oklahoma Sooners. The game moved the Longhorns to a new 17-1 overall season record. (More)

 No. 1 Houston came from behind to beat Central Florida 67-59 on Wednesday night. L.J. Cryer scored 19 points in the second to secure Houston’s victory. (More)

The Business Of Texas

➤ Robinson: Walmart officials announced plans to construct a $350 million milk processing plant. It’s expected to supply over 750 stores and provide close to 400 jobs. (More)

➤ Austin: Tech company Waymo initiated a test deployment of autonomous vehicles over a fifty-mile stretch of the city. Austin is the fourth American city to get Waymo’s driverless ride-sharing services. (Video)

 Fort Worth: A federal judge ruled that the Minority Business Development Agency must offer its services to people of all races. This came after two white businessmen sued the agency after being denied for not being part of the “qualified minorities.” (More)

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Et Cetera

Texas anthropologist and photographer Amanda Stronza has gone viral for turning roadkill into beautiful photographs—a passion of hers since 2019. Her artistic images have attracted 500,000 followers on Instagram. (See the unique Photos)

➤ San Antonio residents captured images of a ‘Jet Car’ along Highway 10. Jim ‘Jet’ Nelson from Panama treated onlookers to his 50,000 horsepower vehicle and said he wants to break his land speed record of 404 mph in Hondo, Texas. (See the Jet)

➤ A wooden troll is the latest addition to Austin’s tiniest park. BEPI Park lies in the middle of a road intersection and is known for different landscape themes throughout the year. The current ‘Traffic Troll’ reminds drivers to slow down. (Photos)

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The Polling Station

 Have you ever visited the USS Texas?

  1. Yes
  2. No

Thursday’s Results:

What coffee roast pairs best with Texas mornings?

  1. Medium: 34.5%
  2. Dark: 25.1%
  3. I don’t partake: 15.0%
  4. Light: 9.5%
  5. Espresso: 9.3%
  6. Other: 6.5%
Texas Trivia

What medieval attraction can you find in the small town of Bellville?

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