Five stories that have North Texas talking: early voting in Texas wields power; 1.2 million people went to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo; bobcats are on the loose in Richardson; and more.
Sandbranch, the small, unincorporated corner of Dallas County without drinkable water, is blinking once again on the political radar. Over the decades, the community has dwindled to less than 100 people scattered across nine blocks. But they have acclimated to the lack of resources — like a running faucet or trash pick-up — even though downtown Dallas is just 18 miles away. The last major move the local government made in Sandbranch was about a decade ago when 36 families living in a flood zone were relocated, KERA’s Courtney Collins reported in September.
Momentum concerning the state of the community started picking up in recent weeks. The Dallas Morning News reported: “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, and a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited the site. It was also the subject of debate during a forum [on Feb. 2] for candidates running for Dallas County Commission District 3, which includes the area.”
The issues in Sandbranch have been ongoing for 30 years, with several failed attempts to bring in clean, running water due to expense and red tape. Some residents just don’t want to leave. County officials determined about 15 years ago that providing water and sewer service would be cost prohibitive because Sandbranch is in a federally designated floodplain.
Last week, Sandbranch came up for discussion among Dallas County commissioners. County Judge Clay Jenkins said he wants county staff to work with state and federal officials and charities to find ways to help Sandbranch residents.
“I think that we recognize in the 21st century, in an urban county, it’s not acceptable for people not to have clean drinking water,” Jenkins said.
Commissioner John Wiley Price, who represents Sandbranch and is running for re-election, reminded his colleagues that the county has spent years studying the issue and trying to help the residents.
[KERA News, The Dallas Morning News]
- Texas has political influence as an early-voting state. According to an analysis from The Texas Tribune, “The presidential field is shrinking, but the nominations won’t be decided until Texans have spoken. It’s partly a matter of timing and partly a matter of size.” The state primary is March 1, but voting starts as early as next Tuesday. Iowa and New Hampshire are important, but they don’t wield as much power as Texas and other Super Tuesday states, The Tribune said. Delve into the analysis and tune into KERA 90.1 FM from 7-9 p.m. for special coverage of the New Hampshire Primary. [Texas Tribune]
- More than 1.2 million people — a new record — attended this year’s Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported: “Final attendance records show 1,257,900 people attended 23-day-event that ended Saturday. A total of 9,400 more people than last year came to the show this year.” The busiest day was Saturday, Jan. 30 when more than 163,000 people visited, setting another record for busiest Saturday in the 120-year tradition of the show. Read how Fort Worth accommodate larger numbers of attendees in the future. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- Bobcats have been attacking domestic pets in a Richardson neighborhood. The wild animals were first spotted in mid-October in Canyon Creek neighborhood, The Dallas Morning News reported. Since then, enough reported attacks on neighborhood pets have warranted traps to be set up throughout the area. Although, there have been additional reports of people vandalizing the traps, most likely to protect the bobcats from unnecessary harm. Bill Alsup of Richardson’s Animal Control told The Morning News that the traps are completely humane, and the bobcats are taken to a wildlife refuge following capture. [The Dallas Morning News]
- Texas has 10 reported cases of Zika virus, according to the state health department. WFFA reported: “All of the patients had returned to Texas from affected countries, and one patient in Dallas became infected through sexual contact. Two cases were reported in Dallas County, including the first case of the virus being transferred through sex. Both patients have recovered.” President Obama asked Congress Monday for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat Zika virus, The Associated Press reported. A large portion of this money —$250 million—would go to help Puerto Rico, which has 22 confirmed cases. [WFAA, AP]