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KRLD 1080 - Texas
US Officials Granting $29 Million For Coastal Protection
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Projects to protect Texas marshes from erosion and an Alaska village from the Bering Sea are getting help from some of the 44 grants awarded by the National Coastal Resilience Fund, a public-private partnership assisting communities threatened by storms and flooding from rising and warming seas.
The $29 million in grants announced Monday are being matched by nearly $60 million from government agencies and nonprofits in 20 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.
“This is the way things are supposed to work,” said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. “It’s bipartisan, leveraging millions of dollars” in a way that will pay off exponentially, he said at a news conference.
The fund partnership was created last year after severe weather caused a record $306.2 billion in damage in the U.S. the year before. It seeks to blunt the impact of extreme weather, flooding and other threats on diverse areas including wetlands, coastal beaches, rivers, streams, oyster beds and coral reefs.
The program got 176 applications, including far more high-quality projects than the 44 the fund was able to support, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s director of coastal conservation, Erika Feller said after the news conference at a project site in suburban New Orleans.
The Texas General Land Office is getting $3 million, the largest grant on the list, and contributing another $9.5 million to restore about 80 acres (32 hectares) of coastal marshes in Galveston County’s Swan Lake.
The tiny Native village of Shaktoolik, Alaska — listed in 2009 among a handful of Alaska communities that should move “as soon as possible” because of coastal erosion and repeated flooding — is matching $1 million from the foundation with nearly $5 million to build a coastal berm to protect the spit of land where the village is located.
Just under $3 million will go to the University of Miami, to restore more than 125 acres (50 hectares) of coastal reefs off Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. The university is matching the grant with another $3 million.
A grant of $2.4 million, with a matching grant of $2.5 million by suburban Jefferson Parish will build a series of stone breakwaters, behind which silt can build up to create 60 to 70 acres (28 hectares) of marsh, tidal creeks and lagoons along a mile-long (1.6-kilometer) stretch of beleaguered Lake Pontchartrain shoreline.
A pile-driver was pounding 65-foot pilings into the estuary’s mucky bottom on Monday for a boardwalk planned to go through the wetlands’ eastern edge.
The smallest grant, totaling $75,000 and matched by an equal amount of local money, will enable the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to pay for preliminary assessment and design work to build green infrastructure along 49 acres (20 hectares) along the Quonochontaug Salt Pond.
Other projects are in California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, North and South Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, Guam and Puerto Rico.
Money for the fund came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,Shell Oil Co. and Transatlantic Holdings Inc., also called TransRe.
Four projects in California are receiving nearly $2 million, including $1.4 million to set levees back from a tidal creek area to reduce flooding and reconnect tides to brackish wetlands. The Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District is contributing another $12.3 million for the work at Walnut Creek.
The District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment is receiving $250,000 and contributing $500,000 to develop preliminary designs to restore Oxon Run in the southeast section of the nation’s capital, including plans to remove nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) of concrete lining the stream bed.
Houston Firefighters Make A Special Delivery
DALLAS (KRLD) - Some Houston firefighters are still smiling after a special delivery Monday morning.
Houston firefighters received a call about an emergency on I-45 at around 1:50 a.m. When they arrived, they found a van along the shoulder. Inside, a woman was delivering a baby in the passenger seat.
Firefighters were able to carefully move the baby in a blanket to an ambulance along with the child's mother.
There's been no update as to how the family is doing.
Ceremony Marks 20 Years Since Deadly Texas A&M Bonfire Collapse
DALLAS (KRLD) - It's been 20 years since the deadly log pile collapse at Texas A&M.
We remember them. pic.twitter.com/1MzsH3LAqV— Texas A&M University (@TAMU) November 18, 2019
Early on the morning of Nov. 18, 1999, a dozen Aggies died when the nearly 60-foot stack of bonfire wood fell in on itself, injuring 27 and killing twelve.
A ceremony marking the anniversary was held this morning at 2:42 a.m. which is believed to be the time of the collapse. The Aggie bonfire tradition dated back nearly a century.
Following the tragedy, the university withdrew its sanction for the event. But since 2002, a much smaller unofficial student-sponsored bonfire has been held off-campus.
Dallas Man Hospitalized For Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
DALLAS (KRLD) - A Dallas man is hospitalized for a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
It happened Saturday evening in the 8600-block of Tonawanda Drive in Pleasant Grove.
Police say a 19-year-old Hispanic male was in a vehicle with another witness.
The witness tells investigators that the man was playing with a gun and accidentally shot himself.
The complainant was taken to an area hospital where he remains in critical condition.
The witness is being questioned by detectives.
Woman Dies in Irving Shooting
DALLAS (KRLD) - A woman is dead following an overnight shooting in Irving.
This happened just before 1:00 AM Sunday morning in the 1700-block of California Crossing, near Las Colinas.
Investigators say four Hispanic men in a Chevy Tahoe pulled up to the Campion Trail park and started shooting at another vehicle.
One woman in that vehicle was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene.
The other two people were taken to police headquarters for questioning.
So far, there have been no arrests.
Pardoned by President Trump, North Texas Soldier Returns Home
DALLAS (KRLD) - A North Texas soldier is home after receiving a pardon from President Trump.
First Lt. Clint Lowrance received the pardon for his conviction of ordering a soldier to fire upon what turned out to be unarmed men in Afghanistan in 2012.
He was sentenced to 19 years in prison and served six years in Leavenworth.
NBC 5 reports that a large group of people organized to support Lowrance, and worked on finding ways to get him out of prison.
That effort stopped with Trump's pardon.
Lowrance is one of three military members who received pardons or commutations of their sentences or military discipline decisions from the President.
Army Green Beret Major Matt Goldstein was pardoned after admitting to killing a Taliban bombmaker in an ambush.
Navy Seal Edward Gallagher was found not guilty of murder but convicted of having his picture taken with a dead ISIS fighter. His rank was restored by Trump.
The American Civil Liberties Union claims that the pardons are an abuse of presidential power.
Dallas Family Seeks Answers in Deadly Hit-and-Run
DALLAS (KRLD) - A Dallas man was hit by a driver who left him to die, and now his family wants answers.
NBC 5 reports Gerardo Alvarez was crossing Esperanza Road on October 23 sometime before midnight, when police say a dark 2006-2009 Ford SUV hit him and was last seen turning westbound onto Kit Lane.
It would now have damage to the front left headlight.
"What hurts us the most is the vehicle didn't stop to check in on him," Alvarez's daughter Catherine said. "We don't know if my father could've still been with us if someone was able to send out first aid."
Alvarez was just two months shy of turning 60.
In addition to his kids, he left behind a wife, siblings, friends, and a grandchild.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information about the case.
Texas Appeals Court Blocks Rodney Reed's Execution
HOUSTON (AP) — Texas’ top appeals court on Friday halted the scheduled execution of inmate Rodney Reed, whose conviction is being questioned by new evidence that his supporters say raises serious doubt about his guilt.
The stay of execution issued Friday afternoon by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals came just hours after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended delaying the lethal injection.
The parole board unanimously recommended a 120-day reprieve for Reed. The board rejected Reed’s request to commute his sentence to life in prison.
The 51-year-old Reed is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
The board’s decision was to go next to Gov. Greg Abbott, who hadn’t said whether he would accept or reject it or do nothing. The stay likely makes Abbott’s decision moot until Reed’s appeals are exhausted.
Bryce Benjet, an attorney with the Innocence Project, which is representing Reed, said the 120-day reprieve would be critical to properly consider “powerful new evidence of his innocence” and for possibly allowing DNA testing that could prove “who actually committed the crime.”
Reed's efforts to stop his execution have received support from such celebrities as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Oprah. Lawmakers from both parties, including Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, have also asked that officials take a closer look at the evidence in the case.
Since Texas resumed executions in 1982, only three death row inmates have had their sentences commuted to life in prison within days of their scheduled executions.
The parole board since 1982 has recommended commuting a death row inmate’s sentence five times. But former Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected the recommendation twice, in 2004 and 2009.
Since taking office in 2015, Abbott has halted only one imminent execution, which occurred in 2018.
Reed still has several appeals pending, including with the U.S. Supreme Court. His supporters have held various rallies leading up to his execution, including an overnight vigil on Thursday in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. A rally in front of the Texas governor’s mansion is set for Sunday.
Prosecutors say Reed raped and strangled Stites as she made her way to work at a supermarket in Bastrop, a rural community about 30 miles southeast of Austin.
Reed has long maintained he didn't kill Stites and that her fiance, former police officer Jimmy Fennell, was the real killer. Reed says Fennell was angry because Stites, who was white, was having an affair with Reed, who is black.
Fennell's attorney has said his client didn’t kill Stites. Fennell was paroled last year after serving time in prison for sexual assault.
Prosecutors say Reed's semen was found in the victim, his claims of an affair with Stites were not proven at trial, Fennell was cleared as a suspect and Reed had a history of committing other sexual assaults.
Reed's lawyers say his conviction was based on flawed evidence. They have denied the other sexual assault accusations made by prosecutors.
In recent weeks, Reed's attorneys have presented affidavits in support of his claims of innocence, including one by a former prison inmate who claims Fennell bragged about killing Stites and referred to Reed by a racial slur. Reed's lawyers say other recent affidavits corroborate the relationship between Stites and Reed and show that Fennell was violent and aggressive toward Stites.
Head Of Heidi Group Claims Pro-Life Beliefs Drove 'Error-Filled' Report By The State
The Heidi Group (THG), an anti-abortion women’s healthcare organization, was brought into the Healthy Texas Women Program to replace the recently ousted Planned Parenthood. THG was awarded two contracts to both provide family planning services and to build a provider network of doctors. After 3 years of service, and a contract extension the State terminated the service of THG in 2018.
Last week, the HHSC released a report documenting an investigation that concluded THG owed the state more than $1.5 million in overcharges. On Thursday, the Heidi Group’s leader, Carol Everett fought back against the report saying the numbers are wrong and the investigation was flawed. “I still wonder how you can issue a report without ever interviewing the source of the investigation. We were never interviewed. Our due process rights were violated,” Everett said in an interview after releasing a statement discrediting the HHSC report.
When asked why she thought HHSC leveled the investigation in the first place Everett said, “I believe because we’re pro-life. I know there were people at HHSC that did not like me because I was pro-life and every time I talk to them they tell me I was pro-life, like I needed to be reminded. What difference did that make if we we’re taking care of women?”
Among the various numbers that THG challenges in the final report, is the number of clients served. The report shows that number at just 4,733 out of the 50,000 pledged to be served in the HHSC contract with THG. Everett says this number is another example of the “numerous errors” in the report. “We have 30,499 of those R&S’s (Remittance and Status reports) from Medicaid in our office proving that we served 30,499-+ patients.”
Everett adds that the termination of the Heidi Group’s from the Healthy Texas Women Program had nothing to do with the work they did. “The contract had two opportunities to terminate us, for cause and for convenience, but we were terminated for convenience not cause.”
Retiring Texas State Rep To Face Drug Charges After Allegedly Dropping Cocaine At Airport
DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - A retiring member of the Texas House of Representatives will be charged with felony drug possession.
On Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued for Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass).
According to a search warrant affidavit, Nevarez flew a small plane owned by his law firm from Eagle Pass to Austin September 6. The affidavit says Nevarez landed at Bergstrom International Airport and dropped an envelope on the ground as he was leaving.
The DPS special agent who signed the affidavit says two employees found a sealed envelope outside the entrance to TxDOT Flight Services.
"I observed the white envelope had a letterhead that was from the 'Office of the State of Texas House of Representatives Member Poncho Nevarez,'" the agent wrote in the affidavit.
The affidavit says the envelope contained four small plastic bags containing a "white powder-like substance." Lab results tested positive for two grams of cocaine.
In the affidavit, the agent leading the investigation asks for DNA testing.
"Through training and experience, I have learned that individuals involved in the possession of narcotics would like to remain discreet and typically conceal the narcotics as best they can. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe Rep. NEVAREZ, using his own letterhead envelope, licked and sealed the envelope that contained the cocaine in order to keep it concealed," the affidavit continues.
Nevarez announced his retirement last week. He has now released a statement reading, "I do not have anyone to blame but myself. I accept this because it is true and it will help me get better. In a weird way I am grateful. Grief and addiction were consuming me, but oddly enough, I feel better now than I have in a long time, and I mean that."
Nevarez was first elected in 2012.