Five stories that have North Texas talking: Courtney Okolo has already broken records before graduating from UT this weekend; a nonprofit is starting small in the fight against homelessness; humans Texas are to blame for a century of earthquakes; and more.
Courtney Okolo of Carrollton graduates this weekend from the University of Texas at Austin. And she has had the burning post-graduation question answered for a while. She’s aiming for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
Okolo, a world-class 400-meter runner, has the NCAA regionals and nationals coming up, and three weeks after that, the Olympic trials. To earn a spot on the U.S. team, she has to get through preliminary, semifinal and final rounds. She needs to place in the top 3 in the trial finals to run in Rio, she told Texas Standard.
The soon-to-be college grad already has an accomplished career running for UT. At LSU's Alumni Gold meet in April, she ran the 400 in 49.71 seconds, a new NCAA collegiate record. And last weekend, she won at the Big 12 championship in Fort Worth.
“Sometimes when we have dreams, we just think of them as dreams. If you plan out a map to achieve those dreams, they’re not just something that’s far away. They can come in your reach. I really don’t like to say dreams anymore – they’re more goals. Because goals sound more achievable. If you just focus on achieving those goals and center your everyday life around achieving those goals, it’s definitely possible.”
Listen to Okolo’s conversation. [Texas Standard]
- Fifty tiny homes are being built to chip away at Dallas’ homeless problem. The Cottages At Hickory Crossing will house the city’s “most expensive homeless.” That mean folks who cycle in and out of the hospital or jail -- costing taxpayers an average of $40,000 a year, said Chad Baker, assistant director at Central Dallas Community Development Corp. The nonprofit is investing $5 million in the homes — each measuring 339 square feet. The long-term goal: Save a lot of money by housing these people for roughly $15,000 a year. Along with a roof and walls, the project will bring mental health services and case workers on-site. Read more about the project. [KERA News]
- Humans have been causing earthquakes in Texas for almost a century, according to a new study. Oil drilling and related activities likely set off 59 percent of earthquakes across the state between 1975 and 2015, according to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Seismological Research Letters. Another 28 percent were “possibly” caused by oil and gas activities, and only 13 percent of the earthquakes were natural. The study was done by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin and Southern Methodist University. The Dallas Morning News reported: “A spokesperson for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the oil and gas industry, dismissed the study’s methods as 'arbitrary,' but an expert at the U.S. Geological Survey said the study offers important new information that could affect the agency’s future threat assessments for Texas.” Read more. [The Dallas Morning News]
- Delish made a list of the 50 best taco places in America, and some are not in Texas. The state capital claimed the top spot — Veracruz All Natural. Another Austin-based shop, Torchy's Tacos, which also has outposts across the state, followed at No. 2. The list doesn’t say much about each taco shop, letting the Instagram pictures do the talking. Noteworthy entries: Tacodeli, an Austin stalwart that just opened a Dallas branch, finished No. 7; Velvet Taco in Dallas (No. 14), Fuel City in Dallas (No. 38) and Tacos Tierra Caliente in Houston (No. 39). Note: Delish updated its rankings over the last day. See how tacos compare across the country. [Delish]
- Dallas-Fort Worth improved four spots — a 13.7 percent increase in the number of residents being physically active — according to the American Fitness Index. D-FW ranked 37th out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Being in the bottom half isn’t great, but the good news is the metroplex improved its ranking by four points from last year. Dallas’ overall score was 42.2 out of a possible 100 points, so there’s still room for improvement, starting on the individual level, according to Amerigroup Texas Medical Director Dr. Brandon Charles. According to the study, “Dr. Charles encourages all Texans to exercise for at least 30 minutes and participate in 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days a week.” Dallas’ individual rank was higher than the community’s overall. The ninth annual study was conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Amerigroup Foundation. Explore the study to see where Dallas could improve its health. [American Fitness Index]