Five stories that have North Texas talking: The most beautiful library in Texas was a Walmart in a past life; northeast bound lanes of the Sam Rayburn Tollway will be closed this weekend; Texas will use Medicaid funding to provide mosquito repellent to women through October; and more.
The 123,000-square-foot McAllen Public Library was named the most beautiful place to borrow books in Texas by Tech Insider.
Almost five years ago, the empty shelves of an abandoned Walmart were finally re-stocked but this time, with thousands of books. The former superstore became the largest single story library in the country. The re-design was so transformative, the library won a AIA Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture in 2013.
According to The Monitor, McAllen’s library “sees an average of 60,000 visitors each month. Library amenities include: 16 meeting spaces, 116 computers, a café, teen area, an expanded children’s area and a collection of 355,794 items.”
Tech Insider looked at past and current award winners chosen by the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association Awards to determine the most beautiful facilities in the country. See the superlative picks for each state. [Tech Insider, The Monitor]
- Part of the Sam Rayburn Tollway will be closed for construction this weekend. Workers are setting giant steel beams in place for the ongoing 35Express project. So, all main lanes of the northeast bound SRT between MacArthur Boulevard and northbound I-35E will be closed. The closures will extend from 11 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday. Luckily, there’s a detour: Northeast-bound Sam Rayburn traffic will exit at MacArthur and continue along frontage road to the entrance ramp east of I-35E. Here’s a map and contact information. [NTTA]
- Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women. Securing federal funding for Zika is at a standstill in Congress, but two months ago, President Obama told states they could use Medicaid to pay for Zika prevention, like repellent and family planning, The Texas Tribune reported. Women between the ages of 10 and 45 are eligible to receive repellent with a doctor’s prescription. Women don't need an appointment, but just the means to pick up the repellant at a pharmacy. Those eligible can request two cans of spray each month through Oct. 31. [The Texas Tribune]
- DeSoto’s former District Attorney Craig Watkins has been arrested twice in recent months. On May 28, police responded to a domestic disturbance call involving Watkins and his wife, Tanya. “Two of his children told police that the county’s former chief prosecutor pushed his wife against a wall at their DeSoto home and punched his 17-year-old son when he tried to intervene,” WFAA reported. On July 14, Watkins was found drunkenly walking on the street near a golf course in the middle of the night. He told police he was walking to where his wife was staying to apologize after a fight. In both instances, police “used their discretion,” and chose not to arrest Watkins, but some believe his former position has afforded him preferential treatment. [WFAA]
- For a Texas gymnast, the road to Rio was a family affair. Chris Brooks from Houston will compete in several gymnastic feats of strength — pommel horse, parallel bars, still rings, vault and high bar — during the Olympic games, which kick off this weekend. Brooks credits his late father for getting him as well as his brother and sister started in the sport, saying they “kind of fell in love with it as a family,” during his interview on Texas Standard. Brooks says his time spent inside the gym is undoubtedly important, but the decisions made outside the gym are even more so. Brooks is the only Texan representing the U.S. men’s gymnastics team. [Texas Standard]