Still Posted In West, ATF Agents March Without A Leader | KERA News

Still Posted In West, ATF Agents March Without A Leader

Apr 30, 2013

Five stories that have North Texas talking: ATF investigators solider on at blast site without commander, Children’s Medical Center celebrates a century of care, Texas hears the lullaby of Broadway and more.

Nearly two weeks have past since the West Fertilizer Co. explosion, but members of the ATF are still posted in Central Texas. Agents continue to look for evidence in the rubble near the 93 foot crater on the blast site, but the ATF is operating at a disadvantage, according to some. The bureau hasn’t had a permanent leader in almost seven years.

"You need a director in place," says Bart Johnson, executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a group that’s been urging Congress to move on this. "It's sometimes unsettling not to have a boss overseeing the activities." Earlier this year President Obama nominated acting chief and former marine B. Todd Jones to direct the ATF. But Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley is pushing for a Senate-confirmed director. He recently said that he isn’t getting all the documents he wants about a long list of ATF controversies. [NPR]

  • Tiny City, Enormous Undertaking: In the days since the deadly explosion, gestures to help citizens have poured into the community and nearby fire stations have scrambled to help West respond to emergencies. But as of last night, the state has returned law enforcement and patrol duties to the city. With a city staff of only 15 and a community still crippled by re-building efforts, employees and volunteers have inherited a massive undertaking. Volunteer Karen Bernsen has been appointed to oversee long-term efforts. Her first move will be to establish a nonprofit called the West Long Term Recovery Foundation which will be headquartered at a converted downtown movie theater for at least three years. [Dallas Morning News]
  • Before Pediatrics, There Was Baby Camp: Children’s Medical Center of Dallas celebrated a century of patient care this month, and the journey has been a remarkable one. KERA’s Lauren Silverman spoke to CMC Archivist Mary Hayes about the hospital’s humble beginnings; four canvas tents on Oak Lawn and incubators made from hot bricks wrapped in towels. See some of the hospital’s earliest photos and read the full story here. Originally known as Dallas Baby Camp, the facility was eventually renamed Bradford Hospital and finally Children’s Medical Center.
  • Living Between Two Countries: American author Benjamin Alire Saenz remembers a time when people surged back and forth across the bridge that connects downtown El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Those days have past, but his poignant collection of short stories about life on the border helps preserve them. "Imagine someone in El Paso loving someone in Juarez and imagine that person getting killed," Saenz says. "That happens — that's happened. So I just put it in a story." Saenz’s book Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club received the prestigious 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award. [NPR]
  • And The Tony Might Go To…: Tony Award Nominations were announced this morning and while musicals like Kinky Boots and Matilda racked up a dozen or more apiece, a one-woman play with deep Texas roots also got a nod. Holland Taylor was nominated in the best lead actress category for her role in Ann. She plays late Texas Governor Ann Richards. See all the nominations here.