Five stories that have North Texas talking: Chili’s reviews its gun policy; North Texas isn’t that fit; a North Texas student advances to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee; and more.
The Dallas-based parent company of Chili’s says it’s reviewing its policy on guns in its restaurants. The Huffington Post reports the review by Brinker International was “prompted by a video that surfaced on YouTube of a group of men carrying rifles into a Chili’s in San Antonio.” The video shows the men asking to be seated, but the server “appears to hesitate.” A restaurant host asks them to leave. “Given the recent attention to open carry laws, we continue to evaluate the policy to ensure we provide a safe environment for our guests and team members,” a Brinker International representative told KERA News. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says that while people can openly carry certain firearms in public, a business that is licensed to serve alcoholic beverages is prohibited by state law from allowing rifles or shotguns. Chili’s review comes after Chipotle announced earlier this month that guns aren't welcome in its restaurants after an incident at a Dallas restaurant. Gun rights advocates brought military-style assault rifles into a Dallas Chipotle, and the company says "the display of firearms" created a potentially intimidating environment. [Huffington Post/Associated Press/KERA]
- A Flower Mound student has advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Lokesh Nagineni, 14, did quite well Wednesday. The Dallas Morning News reports: “[He] sailed through the second and third rounds Wednesday, spelling ‘voortrekker’ and ‘cispontine’ with relative ease.” Lokesh, an eighth grader, told The News: “I’ve been watching the [Scripps] Spelling Bee since I was in third grade, so I’ve been living through it a long time. So to finally come up here means quite a lot to me and to actually compete with other spellers from around the world, the best of the best, I don’t think words can describe.” Semifinals are from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday on ESPN2, with the winner announced Thursday night on ESPN. The winner gets $30,000 cash and a $2,500 savings bond.
- Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t that fit. North Texas ranks 38th out of the country’s 50 largest metro areas for fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine unveiled its seventh annual American Fitness Index, which examines health behaviors, chronic diseases and community resources and policies that support physical activity. Washington, D.C. ranked No. 1 with a score of 77 out of 100. Dallas-Fort Worth scored 43. Austin ranked 14th, Houston ranked 35th and San Antonio ranked 45th. The fittest cities? Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked No. 2; Portland was No. 3. The worst cities on the list? Oklahoma City was No. 48; Louisville was No. 49 and Memphis ranked 50th.
- In November, Dallas voters could go to the polls to decide if DISD is converted to a home-rule district. A 15-member committee will soon draft a home-rule charter for consideration. On KERA’s “Think,” host Krys Boyd talked about the home-rule effort with KERA reporter Bill Zeeble and Tawnell Hobbs and Matthew Haag of The Dallas Morning News. Listen to the conversation here.
- Poet, autobiographer, activist and essayist Maya Angelou died Wednesday at her home in North Carolina. She was 86. She’s the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and she read her poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning,” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports on Art&Seek: “In 1992, KERA taped Angelou at her home reading excerpts from her poem, ‘Still I Rise,’ for the documentary, Kindred Spirits: Contemporary African-American Artists.” Watch her read the poem: