Five stories that have North Texas talking: Thousands of volunteers removed 86 tons of trash from Texas beaches in a recent fall cleanup; part of the Astrodome will turn into a parking garage; a monument celebrating African Americans was erected at the Capitol; and more.
Thousands of volunteers recently removed more than 172,000 pounds of trash from Texas beaches. The Texas General Land Office on Wednesday announced results of the 30th annual fall Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup. More than 8,000 volunteers joined forces Saturday along 169 miles of the Texas coast to remove trash as part of annual efforts that began in 1986. Some strange items recovered from the cleanup included fireworks, baby strollers, windshield wiper blades and plastic vampire teeth. See the rest here. Coastal cleanups are held three times each year. The next event led by the Land Office is scheduled for April 22, 2017. [The Associated Press, Texas General Land Office]
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- Harris County green-lighted part of a $105 million parking project for the Astrodome. The approved portion will raise the stadium two levels and build 1,400 parking spaces underneath. The Houston Chronicle reports Tuesday’s vote reverses the fate of the stadium, which many thought would be demolished in 2013 after a $217 million bond proposal was rejected. In the past, the stadium has housed the Oilers, the Astros and Muhammad Ali's boxing matches as well as Hurricane Katrina refugees in 2005. But it has sat vacant since being declared unfit for occupancy in 2009. [Houston Chronicle]
- After more than two decades of effort by lawmakers, the main components of a memorial celebrating African Americans were installed at the state Capitol this week. On one side, the monument depicts 48 slaves and marks the moment that slaves were emancipated in Texas, according to the Texas Tribune. “The other points to the state’s abundant cattle, cotton and oil resources and the contributions black Texans made to those industries." It will be completed and dedicated later this fall. Hear from Denver-based sculptor Ed Dwight, who worked on the Texas African-American History Memorial for six years. [The Texas Tribune, Texas Standard]
- A new education poll shows that Texans widely agree on issues of student debt and the cost of college. Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, designed the poll, funded by the nonprofit online university WGU Texas. In the poll, 93 percent of Texans say student debt is a major problem – a group that includes people with and without student loan debt. And 95 percent of those who say debt is an issue believe having a college degree is important. Explore more stats. [Texas Standard, WGU Texas]
- Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and open access to information. This week also serves as a reminder that many great works of literature — books like "The Great Gatsby," "1984," "The Bluest Eye" — were once deemed unfit for public consumption and censored. Books have been challenged and banned in the U.S. and Texas for decades. In the 2015-2016 school year, the Texas ACLU recorded 13 book challenges from 12 school districts across the state. Books were challenged for several reasons including being too scary, too offensive and too insensitive to religion. Five of those books were banned. [KERA News]
These five books were banned by schools: