Five stories that have North Texas talking: Rising construction costs bump the price of McKinney’s new stadium to nearly $70 million; educators and students will talk about race in the region this week; what police found during a bingo hall raid; and more.
Like the town itself, McKinney’s school district is one of the fastest-growing in Texas. The school district started to expand in the mid-90s, KERA reported. Back then, it had about 7,000 students. Today, it has more than 24,000 kids.
Accommodating the ever-growing district was one of the justifications for the new 12,000-seat football stadium that will serve three high schools upon opening, according to The Associated Press.
In May, voters approved a $220 million bond package that allotted $50.3 million for the stadium, 2,400 parking spaces and a community event room, KERA reported. Another $11 million was previously set aside for site preparation and other work, according to AP.
But, rising construction costs have pushed the price up to nearly $70 million. The Dallas Morning News attributes the jump to soaring concrete prices and additional road construction around the stadium.
The new cost estimate would likely make the project the most expensive high school stadium ever built, according to AP. Construction is expected to start in September and be completed by fall 2017. [KERA News, The Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News]
- It’s the first week of school for Texans young, and old. As desks are filled and lessons plans are made, KERA will look at several issues surrounding race in North Texas schools. In a series called, “The First Week,” each conversation will have a different take on the large and looming issue of race, particularly after a tumultuous summer both in Dallas and the U.S. Part One — “the talk.” Black parents have long had to have “the talk” with their kids about interacting with police. This summer has changed that conversation. Tune in every morning at 8:20 a.m. on KERA 90.1 and listen on the KERA and NPR One apps as well as keranews.org. [KERA News]
- A mechanic at the Dallas Zoo saved 40 koi from certain death with a DIY contraption. The zoo’s 7,500-gallon koi pond needed a new multiport, an essential part of the sand filtration system, after breaking in early July. But a shipping mishap delayed its arrival, according to the zoo’s blog post on Sunday. As ammonia levels were rising in the pond, water features mechanic Ruben Pacheco and his assistant built a custom replacement from “non-working multiports and other random parts they found in our warehouse,” that will keep the koi swimming until the correct multiport arrives at the zoo. [Dallas Zoo]
- A police raid sure livens up bingo night. Harris County authorities made a dozen arrests and seized 100 guns, ammunition, body armor and about $87,000 in an underground bunker at Paradise Day and Night Bingo Hall in Houston, The Associated Press reported. Authorities say the back room of the bingo hall contained slot machines that people illegally could play for cash prizes. And, prosecutors say the owners had their own ATM machines to launder an estimated $15 million over the last four years. [The Associated Press]
- Pick a topic, get a poem. That’s what a small sign on a suitcase reads in front of Fatima Hirsi who sits on a fold-up chair and types on a 1950s Smith Corona. On weekends, the Dallas-based poet sets up shop throughout the city offering her gift of words to passersby for a suggested donation of $20. Hirsi shares her poetry throughout North Texas day and night, teaching poetry workshops for children, attending open mics or hosting her own series Dark Moon Poetry & Arts. Learn more about Hirsi’s introduction to and dependence on poetry in her life with Artist Spotlight. [Art&Seek]