Texas Agricultural Losses Hit Nearly $8 Billion | KERA News

Texas Agricultural Losses Hit Nearly $8 Billion

Texas agriculture officials say the historic drought has caused record-breaking crop and livestock losses estimated at $7.62 billion for 2011. 

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service's latest estimate is $2.42 billion higher than what was provided in August. Agency spokesman Blair Fannin gave The Associated Press the data on Wednesday before it was publicly released.

In August, the extension service's preliminary estimate of $5.2 billion already topped the previous record of $4.1 billion in 2006.

Texas' long history with droughts has been costly. Since 1998, drought has cost agriculture more than $14 billion. 

Crop producers and ranchers who continue to try to recover from the driest year on record in Texas also dealt with triple-digit heat and windy conditions. Texas' cattle herd is now at the lowest level since the 1950s.

AP

New Leadership On Parkland Hospital Board

Dallas attorney Debbie Branson is the new Parkland Hospital Board Chair.

She replaces Dr. Lauren McDonald, who resigned last month.

Branson was appointed to the Board last year. She says her top priority is completing the Corrective Action Plan ordered by an outside auditor after Parkland failed two major inspections on patient care and safety.

The hospital has until April, next year, to fix things or lose Medicare and Medicaid funding – 50% of the hospital’s budget.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Carrollton Man Pleads Guilty In Major Bank Fraud Case

A Carrollton man has pleaded guilty to bank fraud in a 3 Billion dollar scheme that brought down Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage and Colonial Bank.

The plea was announced in Virginia after a court appearance by Delton de Armas, former chief financial officers for the mortgage company.

Prosecutors say de Armas falsified financial reports in a scheme to mislead investors and banks. Officials say he joins seven other defendants to plead guilty in one of the largest bank fraud schemes in U.S. history.

He will be sentenced in June, and faces up to 10 years in prison.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Man charged with Fort Worth homeless shelter theft

A former official at a Fort Worth homeless shelter faces charges that he schemed to steal up to $100,000.

Dwayne Kenloch was indicted Tuesday by a Tarrant County grand jury. The 49-year-old Kenloch served as chief of operations for the Presbyterian Night Shelter. He is accused of creating fake invoices from a food supplier and having the shelter issue checks to pay them.

Kenloch is charged with theft and securing execution of documents by deception.

Tarrant County prosecutors say Kenloch has two prior felony convictions in New York and is subject to Texas' habitual offender law with a third felony conviction. If convicted on either charge, Kenloch could face 25 years to life in prison.

Kenloch was released on $25,000 bond. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone message.

AP

Carnegie fund lauds 21 who risked lives for others

A Texan who saved six people from a building fire after a tax protester crashed a plane into the structure is among 21 winners of Carnegie medals for heroism.

Robin DeHaven of Austin was on his way to a job in February 2010 when he saw the plane crash into the building.

Officials say DeHaven took a 17-foot ladder from his truck, climbed into the burning building and helped six people escape with minor injuries.

A tax protester raging against the IRS had slammed his plane into a building where the federal agency had offices.

Another Texan being honored Wednesday, Thomas Porter of Cleveland, saved a youngster from burning in January 2011.

Carnegie medalists or their heirs receive financial grants from a fund.

AP

Mayor of embattled Texas town: 'I quit'

The mayor of an embattled East Texas town has quit with just a few words.

Monty Collins says he went to the city secretary in Alto, wrote a note that said, "I quit on this date," and left. He tells the Jacksonville Daily Progress that his departure is effective immediately.

Alto - a town of about 1,200 people that's 130 miles southeast of Dallas - laid off all five police officers last year during a budget crunch over Collins' objections. The city council voted to reinstate its police department months later.

City council members have accused Collins of talking to reporters without their permission and ignoring other requests. Collins says he's leaving to avoid a fight and calls his move a separation, not a divorce.

AP