Five stories that have North Texas talking: Blue Bell announces its first flavor; it’s time to head back to school; freestanding ERs are taking off across the state; and more.
Blue Bell announced this morning its first flavor that will return to selected store shelves: Homemade Vanilla. Another flavor is expected to be unveiled Tuesday. The Brenham company will start selling its ice cream in selected stores once again starting Aug. 31. The first areas to get the ice cream? Brenham, where the company started in 1907, as well as Houston and Austin. Ice cream will also be sent to stores in Alabama (Birmingham and Montgomery), where the ice cream is being produced. North Texas and southern Oklahoma will be next, followed by stores in southwest Texas and central Oklahoma. We don’t know exactly when ice cream will appear on North Texas shelves. Blue Bell says once it can "properly service" customers in an area, it will expand to the next. The company will re-enter parts of 15 states in five phases. In April, Blue Bell recalled its products and suspended production because of a listeria outbreak. Ten listeria illnesses were reported, including three deaths in Kansas.
- It’s back to school time for many North Texas schools. Naturally, students have some first-day jitters. School administrators and teachers say they’re eager to start the new school year. Theresa Morgan has been a teacher for 25 years. She’s a mathematics instructional coach at Sunset High School in Dallas Independent School District. “I’m thinking of all this preparation and got a classroom and supplies and plans and everything ready to go,” Morgan told KERA. “And now I’m remembering we all do this for the kids and we can help their lives be better and touch someone’s life in ways we really have no idea how.” Teachers have been preparing – so have bus drivers. Here’s how one Fort Worth ISD driver got ready last week. [Stella Chavez/KERA]
- To get in the back-to-school spirit, we’d like you to share your kids’ first day of school photos. Post them to the KERA Facebook page or email them to us at email@example.com. And check out some retro school pics from the KERA News staff. Check out some of the pictures that have already come in.
- Burleson police say a 5-year-old autistic boy who was found unconscious in a hot car has died. Burleson police Deputy Chief Chris Havens said the boy's family called around 1 p.m. Sunday to report the child missing and officers arrived minutes later to help look for him. Police say about a dozen other people assisted in the search. About an hour later, officers found him the backseat of the family's vehicle. Police say it was about 100 degrees at the time. He was taken to a hospital in Fort Worth. [Associated Press]
- Freestanding emergency rooms are taking off across Texas. The Texas Tribune reports: “Five years after Texas became the first state to permit freestanding emergency rooms, more than 160 of the facilities have set up shop around the state — a presence that suburban commuters and health insurers alike are finding impossible to ignore. Health care experts say the financial success of the freestanding facilities — and the growing bargaining power that comes with it — is leading health insurers to arrange for more of the emergency rooms to be in a patient’s network. That could mean better deals for the Texans who rely on the facilities for quick access to emergency care, mostly in wealthier, suburban neighborhoods.” [Texas Tribune]
- Actor Owen Wilson talks about his father's Alzheimer's disease. Robert A. “Bob” Wilson was one of KERA-TV’s first chief executive officers. The Dallas Morning News reports: “’Such things just happen in life,’ says the actor, who grew up in Preston Hollow and attended St. Mark’s School of Texas. ‘You just have to do your best to deal with it. You’ve got no choice but to accept it. And then, you sort of still look for the things to be grateful for. He is at home, taken care of, and he has people around that love him. For me and my brothers, there just wasn’t a bigger influence on us. Maybe it sounds trite or something, but I really believe that his spirit gets carried on through me, the way I like to joke around.’” [The Dallas Morning News]