Five stories that have North Texas talking: When The Cowboys are in trouble, they call an ex-con for help; Labeling the new cups at the state fair as “edible” might be a stretch; A Fort Worth artist opens up about producing music and dealing with mental illness; and more.
An 8-year-old girl whose passionate speech about wanting to attend the University of North Texas when she grows up has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship and admittance for whenever she wants to enroll. So, anytime after she graduates high school in 2026. Jordin Phipps was surprised with the scholarship during an assembly Thursday at her school, the Watson Technology Center for Math and Science in Garland, The Associated Press reports. Jordin's mother and 2006 UNT alum, Nichole Smith, posted the video on Facebook on Sept. 20, and it has since been shared more than 90,000 times, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports. University officials took notice, and awarded the third-grader the President's Award for Excellence in Leadership. She’s most likely the youngest person to be guaranteed admission to UNT, and perhaps the only to be earn it from a viral video. [The Associated Press, Denton Record-Chronicle]
- David Wells is a 54-year-old ex-con, ex-cop and the man The Cowboys go to when they’re in trouble. The Washington Post published a feature on Wells, who “might be the most influential behind-the-scenes figure for the NFL’s most valuable franchise.” All football teams have security experts and problem solvers, particularly of the legal kind. But, the Post says Wells has a special set of skills that allows him to find a route for any player trying to navigate the system. “A tremendous asset to the franchise,” Jerry Jones said. “. . . I won’t get into detail of the kinds of things [Wells does], because he does everything.” [Washington Post]
- According to GuideLive, the Edible Cola at the State Fair of Texas is more trouble than it’s worth. One of several dozen new items at the fair, Edible Cola attracted a lot of attention before the fair opened Friday because one could drink the soda and then eat the container. Another selling point — Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban became an investor in 2015 after the owners pitched their edible cups on Shark Tank. But, the cups, partially made from seaweed, don’t function well as cups or food. Watch the video from GuideLive to learn why. [GuideLive]
- Recently named artist of the year by “Fort Worth Weekly,”James Talambas creates art through sound and uses it to communicate. Talambas, 33, is a musician, deejay, composer and producer at his company, New Media Recordings. “I think he’s a huge dream-realizer,” says Rambo, a North Texas photographer. “He’s the kind of person that when you want to do something, you call James.” He also creates sound and light installations that speak to issues ranging from fracking to anxiety. The latter, he knows first hand. Talambas explains how mental illness informs and inspires his work in the most recent Artist Spotlight. [Art&Seek]
- Many Texas dance halls haven’t survived the modern era. Some have fallen apart, closed their doors or even burned down over the decades. Deb Flemming, president of a Texas Dance Hall Preservation says at one time there were 1,000 dance halls in Texas, and now, there are about 400. But, there is a small yet strong community in Blanco, Texas wanting to save its own. The Twin Sisters Dance Hall has been a gathering place in the Hill Country town for around 140 years, Texas Standard reports. Residents recently pulled together to raise $15,000 of the $55,000 needed to keep the hall in operation. [Texas Standard]