Five stories that have North Texas talking: an Arlington man is scheduled to be executed Wednesday; Allen High’s stadium is fixed; the Denton City Council discusses its fracking ban; and more.
Condemned inmate Lester Bower Jr. is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to keep him from becoming the oldest Texas prisoner put to death. Bower, 67, faces lethal injection Wednesday for the October 1983 fatal shootings of four men at an airplane hangar on a ranch near Sherman, about 60 miles north of Dallas. He'd be the eighth inmate executed this year in Texas. Bower always has maintained his innocence, although he initially lied to investigators who used telephone records to identify his involvement related to the sale of an ultralight aircraft owned by one of the victims. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes about Lester Leroy Bower: “Once a husky outdoorsman and hobbyist, Bower has turned into an old man as he waited for his case to wind its tortuous way through the American judicial system. One thing has not changed in all the years. Bower, who lived in Arlington at the time of his arrest, continues to maintain he is innocent. In a recent interview on Death Row near Lake Livingston, he repeated that claim.” Read more here. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Associated Press]
- Denton’s hydraulic fracturing ban took center stage Tuesday night at the City Council meeting. The council decided not to repeal its ban – for now. A new state law makes bans like the one approved in Denton illegal. The Denton Record-Chronicle reports: “The Denton City Council walked away from repealing the city’s 7-month-old ban on hydraulic fracturing early Wednesday morning, after more than four hours of public testimony and two hours of deliberation. Council members said they wanted to explore whether the city could write an ordinance that both acknowledged the current effects of House Bill 40 and the future possibility that the sweeping, unprecedented law could be found unconstitutional.” The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “Throughout the meeting council members expressed their frustration with what state lawmakers did and appeared to be struggling with exactly what to do. The city already has been sued by the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas General Land Office over the ban.” The Texas Tribune has this recap. [Denton Record-Chronicle/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Texas Tribune]
- Allen High School’s $60 million football stadium will reopen – just in time for Friday’s graduation. KERA’s Stella Chavez reports: “Allen Superintendent Lance Hindt said PBK Architects and Pogue Construction, who were contracted to build the stadium, completed the repairs at no cost to Allen ISD or taxpayers. PBK also doled out $2.5 million in lost revenue and expenses to Allen High. Eagle Stadium opened in 2012 and received widespread attention for its splashy facilities. The stadium seats 18,000 and includes a 38-foot wide high-definition video screen. However, school officials soon noticed cracks in the concrete.”
- A new study shows Dallas has had a big drop in violent crime. The Dallas Morning News reports: “Police officials are promoting a new John Jay College of Criminal Justice analysis that shows Dallas has had the third-biggest drop in violent crime from any peak year recorded before 2000. Dallas just edged out New York City for the third spot, and falls behind only Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles. … Dallas police recorded 500 murders in 1991. Last year, the number fell to 116.” [The Dallas Morning News]
- Is climate change playing a role in the recent Texas flooding? The Texas Tribune explores that topic in this story: “Climate change is taking a toll on Texas, and the devastating floods … are some of the best evidence yet of that phenomenon, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said. ‘We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas,’ said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. ‘And it's consistent with what we would expect from climate change.’ But the state's Republican leaders are deeply skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate, with top environmental regulators in Texas questioning whether the planet is warming at all.” Read more here. [Texas Tribune]