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Fair Park Fire Displaces Nearly 40

In 2000, you might recall a tornado ripping through Fort Worth. I was at my aunt’s house that evening, had gone to bed early, and snoozed through the whole thing.

Somewhat closer to home, last night I had the strange experience of sleeping next door to a five-alarm fire. I live in Fair Park. I went to sleep at 2 am, which is why when I woke up at a little past 3 am because my bed was shaking and sirens were wailing and my neighbor was pounding on my door, it felt like I was in some sort of weird red and orange and blue dream. That’s also possibly why, after poking my head out in to the hall and not really seeing anything, I went back to sleep. In retrospect, I should have done a little more investigating. When I woke up again, my power was out, my building smelled like badly burnt toast, and I couldn’t leave to get to work—firefighters were still parked outside my garage and the air was thick with smoke. The fire started at a warehouse, 4100 Commerce, and spread toward my building, which, thankfully, is fine. My neighbors in 4130 Commerce are not so lucky. The units are uninhabitable.

Justin Terveen, cityscape photographer extraordinaire who apparently lives nearby, got a photo of the fire—it’s huge. Anyway, what I am saying is, I’m glad everyone made it out alive. Firefighters are awesome and brave and I’m crazy grateful they contained the fire. And I need to rethink my sleeping patterns.

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Leading Off (12/15/2014)

Female Marathon Winner Doesn’t Get to Break Her Own Tape. Shitaye Gemechu of Ethiopia lead the whole 26.2 miles, and then she got passed up by a relay runner who mistakenly crossed the finish line meant for Gemechu. Gemechu’s time was 2:46:46—20 minutes under her personal best. The female runner-up was 22-year-old Jessica Harper from Southlake, and Sunday marked her first marathon.  The overall winner was Kimutai Cheruiyot, with a time of 2:17:10.

4-Year-Old Boy Missing After Mother Killed. Maria Isabel Romero Medina, 27, was found dead in the Denton insurance office where she worked Saturday night. An Amber Alert was issued for her son, and police are looking for the boy’s father, Ricardo Lara Martinez, in connection with his abduction as well as her death.

Tyson Chandler Rejects a Shoe. I’m going to attempt to write something else sports-related without royally screwing it up. Golden State Warrior Marreese Speights lost his shoe near the end of the third quarter. Teammate Stephen Curry tried to toss it to him. Tyson Chandler whacked the shoe out of bounds. 

Man Last Seen With Christina Morris Arrested. If you remember, Christina Morris is the young woman who disappeared from the Shops at Legacy on August 30. She was last seen walking in the parking lot with a man in the wee hours of the morning. That man was later identified as Enrique Arochi, who was arrested by Plano police Friday and charged with aggravated kidnapping, in part due to DNA samples collected earlier in the investigation. Previously, he has maintained he did not know where Morris went after they parted ways. There is still no sign of Morris.

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Leading Off (12/8/2014)

Jordan Spieth Wins at Isleworth. Spieth, who is 21, dominated the Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge. He won by a record-setting 10 strokes. 9:37 Update: Look, if there’s a sport I know less about than football, it’s golf.

How is the US Airways/American Airlines Merger Going? Very well, according to CEO Doug Parker, one year later. However, milestones for 2015 include the pesky merger of frequent flier programs, as well as booking systems.

Three Families Robbed at Gunpoint in One Night. This all happened on Saturday evening in Allen, within a little over an hour. Police are also investigating a fourth home invasion Friday night in Coppell that played out similarly. The families were tied up and held at gun point by one of the robbers, while others searched the house for money and valuables.

No College Football Playoffs For TCU. Or Baylor. The two schools end regular season play as the Big 12 co-champions. I am gathering that people are upset about a few things here.

Two Charged With Murder of Fort Worth Woman. I mentioned this story last week. Ashlea Harris was found dead in her burning Fort Worth apartment building after working a late shift at Hulen Mall on Black Friday. Two men have been arrested for her murder. These two men were also arrested in connection with an $18,000 theft from the American Eagle store where Harris worked.

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Leading Off (12/1/2014)

Dallas Police Officer Arrested in Highland Park. For allegedly driving drunk and then attempting to flee on foot.

Man Shot By Dallas Police Officer Suing for $10 Million. In other, not-so-flattering news for the DPD, Kelvion Walker, the unarmed man shot by then Senior Corporal Amy Wilburn late last year, has amended his lawsuit against the city to ask for at least $10 million. His lawyers say that depositions from high-ranking officials, including Chief David Brown, support their claim that Wilburn, who has since been fired and indicted on a felony charge, acted wrongly.

Woman Found Dead in North Dallas Apartment. The 20-year-old woman, Erika Mong, did not show up for Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and was later found dead of an apparent gunshot wound. The police have not yet released a description of a suspect.

Woman Found Dead in Fort Worth Apartment. Sorry for the repetition, but this was a sad holiday weekend, especially for these women and their families. In this instance, police were alerted to the apartment because it was on fire, a fire that was kept small by a sprinkler system. Fort Worth Police have said that she did “not die of natural causes.” The victim, Ashlea Harris, had worked until 3 am at Hulen Mall for Black Friday before returning home.

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Leading Off (11/24/2015)

Governor-Elect Promises Lawsuit Over Immigration Action. On behalf of all Texans, Greg Abbott will probably sue the Obama administration for his executive order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally. This is not new territory for Abbott, since he’s sued President Obama some 30 times in his previous life as Texas attorney general.

Two Earthquakes in Two Days. On Saturday, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake registered near the site of the old Texas Stadium. On Sunday, a 2.5 magnitude earthquake occurred south of Highway 183 beneath Loop 12. It’s too bad we don’t have any idea what might be causing these quakes, since there have been seven in the last two months.

After Crash Kills Five Family Members, Terrell Teen’s Ticket Dismissed. This sad story, first mentioned in this forum last week, does not get too much better. However, the teenage driver, a 16-year-old boy who apparently fell asleep at wheel of the family’s SUV while en route to Florida for a vacation, was originally ticketed for careless driving. The crash killed five of his relatives. The judge dismissed the misdemeanor charge, saying that the boy had been punished enough, and there was no need to add to his pain.

Cowboys Coach and Governor Chris Christie Make Friends. This photo of New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is great. Garrett might be smiling, or laughing—I can only tell so much from the crinkled eyes. Could this be Christie’s “lose or I’ll engineer a monster traffic jam and trap you here forever” face? The world may never know. Anyway, the Cowboys beat the Giants. I am pleased.

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Leading Off (11/17/2014)

What Was That White Stuff, It’s Not Even Thanksgiving. It snowed, as per a particularly on-the-ball weather report, but it did not stick. More important, here is a photo of Delkus, conducting the flurries.

Temperature Drop Means More Rescued Cats. Aw. Even though my recent brush with cat ownership was like tugging impatiently at the devil’s coattails, this absolutely does not mean that these kitties are not deserving of warm homes. $15 adoptions will hopefully help.

Top Perry Advisor Has Three Alcohol-Related Offenses. Governor Perry’s office says it knew about Wayne Roberts’ record, which includes DWIs in 1990 and 2006, as well as a public intoxication charge in 2000. This is all the more relevant, however, since Perry is facing charges after attempting to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her 2013 DWI arrest.

Memorial Held For Thomas Eric Duncan. The service, held Saturday evening, was private, and took place more than a month after Duncan died of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

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Leading Off (11/10/2014)

South Dallas Fund Comes Up Short. Apparently, mistakes were made in the way city funds were allocated, which means the fund, created in the late ’80s to encourage business development in South Dallas, is thousands of dollars short. The fund has also been plagued by allegations of mismanagement over the years.

American Airlines Flight Attendants Reject Contract. By just 16 votes. The airline, which merged with US Airways last year, and the union will enter binding arbitration.

White Supremacists Rally in Rockwall. They were protesting illegal immigration, if you can believe it. There was “yelling and finger pointing.”

Cowboys Go to London to Play Another Team From America. This is presumably one of those money-making ventures I hear so much about? Anyway, we won, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-17; Dez Bryant was the star; and that concludes the Liz Sports Report. Go, us.

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Recent College Grads Still Not Choosing Dallas

The Dallas Morning News has the breakdown of a study from Portland-based think tank City Observatory. Short version: the idea of a move to our fair city is not met with praise hands emojis from recent college grads. Cities such as Austin, Denver, and Portland are easy draws, but the study (which uses Census data) indicates that 25-34 year olds also find Houston, San Antonio, and Los Angeles preferable to Dallas. Per the News:

From 2000 to 2012, the Dallas area was among a handful of metros that didn’t grow the young grad segment as fast as the total population, the study said. And the share of young residents with a college degree actually declined over the period. In 12 years, the number of college grads, ages 25 to 34, increased 20 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth. That compares with an average increase of 25 percent for the 51 largest metros, the study reported. Houston, Austin and San Antonio added young college grads twice as fast as Dallas over the same time.

Of course, the Census numbers are from 2012. The study tosses out a few reasons for the demographic’s aversion, once of which is a downtown still playing catch up.

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Leading Off (11/3/2014)

Nina and Bentley Forever. Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who survived Ebola, and Bentley, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, were reunited on Saturday morning after he was released from quarantine, and the scene could not have been cuter.

Frisco Has a Mosquito Problem. It’s thanks to the warmer weather we had leading up to this cold snap. The city is spraying after there was a positive test for West Nile.

Someone Bought the Rights to Name Baby Giraffe. The Dallas Zoo raised $50,000 by selling the rights to name the baby giraffe born at the zoo on October 29. All the funds will go to conservation.

Fisticuffs at Texas Motor Speedways. Two Nascar drivers, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, got in a punching match after Keselowski’s car hit Gordon’s, causing Gordon to fall behind and finish 29th. Another driver, Jimmie Johnson, actually won.

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Leading Off (10/27/2014)

Two x Two Fundraiser Smashes Records. The annual black-tie fundraiser, Two by Two for AIDs and Art, broke its record this year when an anonymous collector bid $2.6 million for a Wade Guyton painting, bringing the total take to $7 million. Half the money goes to the Dallas Museum of Art, and the other half to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. CeeLo Greene performed.

After Hugging President Obama, Nurse Nina Pham Back in North Texas. But she can’t have Bentley, her dog, back just yet. The dog will be released from quarantine on Nov. 1.

Former Penneys CEO Raises $30 Million For New Start Up. Ron Johnson is back, with a secretive e-venture called “Enjoy.” It’s meant to humanize the online shopping experience when it comes to buying “things that matter.”

Standardized Test Scores Are Out. The Morning News put together this interactive, where you can see how schools’ STAAR results improved, stayed the same, or declined between 2012 and 2014.

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Leading Off (10/20/2014)

Ebola Update. Texas Health’s CEO took out a full page ad in the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to apologize for the hospital’s initial response to Thomas Eric Duncan. Meanwhile, the 21-day monitoring period for the first group of people exposed, including Duncan’s fiancée, Louise Troh, ends today. Finally, the lady on the cruise ship who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health was cleared, and allowed to disembark in Galveston. D Healthcare Daily’s Matt Goodman has all the latest here.

Sports-Related Update. Listen, I know you’ve missed these. I hate to wear a good joke thin. But I really don’t like the Giants, so believe me when I say that I actually cared about this outcome: a 31-21 win, making this six-game streak the Cowboys’ longest in 7 years. In other important news, Joseph Randle, now notorious for his attempt to score a five-fingered discount on underwear and Gucci Guilty, will endorse underwear for a website called in a deal that will, reportedly, more than help him repay whatever fine he got slapped with for shoplifting, in addition to the however many multiple thousands of dollars he’s going to make playing football this year. And, like magic, I have gone from being vaguely invested to utterly annoyed with the way things work in this world.

Early Voting Starts Today. I hope you guys are all already registered. If not, you’re out of luck for this election. The voter ID law is in effect even while it’s being challenged in court, so keep that in mind, too, and while you’re at it, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent is worth your time. Early voting will continue through Oct. 31, with the election on Nov. 4.

Change of Venue Request Denied in Kaufman County Murder Trial. Eric Williams, who faces the death penalty for killing Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, and his defense attorneys requested a change of venue for the trial, arguing that he wouldn’t get a fair one in Rockwall. His request was denied. Jury selection continues, and the trial date is set for Dec. 1.

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Leading Off (10/6/2014)

Police Find Homeless Man Who Rode in Ambulance After Ebola Patient. Michael Lively, the homeless man who was described as low-risk and not exhibiting symptoms, nonetheless inspired a manhunt that began Saturday. He walked out of Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been transported in the ambulance that had also transported Thomas Eric Duncan. Lively was found Sunday and taken to Parkland. Meanwhile, Duncan’s condition has reportedly worsened.

Woman Attacked By Bees Dies. Nancy Whitehead had rushed into the swarm to save her husband after he disturbed a hive near Possum Kingdom Lake. She was stung more than 200 times.

Rep. Ralph Hall Injured in Car Crash. Hall, 91, is the oldest serving member of Congress, though he lost the election in May that would have kept him in office for another term. He was injured in a car accident on Saturday and airlifted to Medical Center of Plano. He had surgery on his hip, but is said to be in good spirits.

Oncor Customers Still Without Power. On Sunday, 10,000 customers still didn’t have power after Thursday’s storm. Yikes. Service is mostly expected to be restored this morning.

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Leading Off (9/29/14)

There Are So Many Tires In The Trinity River. Tons, in fact. And until recently, the job of removing them was left to volunteer groups. Now, a Dallas-based company called Good Earth Inc. has a city contract that will pay out $850 per ton, with a cap at $2.8 million over three years. They have pulled 114 tons of rubber thus far.

City Pension Funds For Same-Sex Spouses Stalled. The City Council has taken steps to protect LGBT municipal employees by adopting resolutions that call for equal treatment and to amend personnel rules with language prohibiting discrimination. However, city pension benefits for these employees and their spouses are still in flux, because Texas does not recognize same-sex marriages.

World’s Biggest Passenger Jet Lands at DFW Airport. The double-decker A380, which is almost 8 stories tall and can carry 500 passengers, begins scheduled service this week. It’s so massive that the airport had to make about $4.5 million in renovations to accommodate it. Should you feel like flying in something I find fairly terrifying, you can go to Sydney, Australia on Qantas, or Dubai on Emirates.

TxDOT v. NCTCOG. In a charming battle of bureaucratic acronyms, the North Central Texas Council of Governments is using high traffic estimates to justify a toll road that would stretch from Garland to Greenville, through Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, and Hunt counties. The Texas Department of Transportation’s forecasts are much lower. There’s other stuff going on, too, like the fact that NCTCOG’s estimates for population growth in Rockwall and Hunt counties is significantly higher than state estimates. Anyway, just read this.

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Leading Off (9/22/2014)

Wrecking Ball Demolishes 129-Year-Old Building Downtown. 1611 Main Street, one of downtown’s oldest buildings, was razed almost completely Sunday afternoon to make way for the new incarnation of Forty Five Ten, the luxury boutique currently located on McKinney. It’s part of developer Tim Headington’s continued expansion along Main Street.

Man’s Body Found Next To Wrecked Pick-Up. The man was shot multiple times, and his body was found in a field in Fort Worth. Homicide police are investigating.

Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott Debate Exposes Policy Differences. Not so surprising. According to the Dallas Morning News, Davis came out swinging, but Abbott was unruffled as topics ranged from Medicaid to early childhood education to President Barack Obama. And abortion, of course.

Former SMU Student Sues. The unnamed plaintiff is suing the university over its alleged mishandling of a 2012 sexual assault complaint. The plaintiff says that after he reported the assault, the environment on campus became so hostile that he was forced to withdraw.

Okay, Fine, Cowboys Win Again. Because you practically begged me, I will tell you that the Cowboys came back from 21-0 to beat the Rams, 34-31.

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Leading Off (9/15/2014)

Dallas Cowboys Are Winners. I enjoy the fact that because these games are on Sundays, I have become your de facto announcer of sports information that you are probably already aware of, unless you live under a rock. Anyway, they overcame the misery of last week’s season opening loss to beat the Tennessee Titans, 26-10. All is right in the world, except for these next few news items.

Man Falls From AT&T Stadium Stands. This happened at the UCLA vs. UT game on Saturday. The man is in critical condition after falling 12-15 feet from the 100 section to the floor level suites.

Body Pulled From West Dallas Pond. Jerry Sanchez, 42, was reported missing on Friday. He has been identified as the man divers found in a pond off Canada Drive on Saturday. Cause of death is still undetermined.

Full Report On Fired Dallas ISD Investigator Released. Jeremy Liebbe was the head of the district’s Professional Standards Office. A couple months ago, he was placed on leave, allegedly without being told a reason, but he had done some digging into his boss’ background (she had a criminal conviction that she hadn’t reported on her job application) and there were questions regarding the installation of surveillance cameras. He was fired on September 5, and the district released statement saying that they had found ““multiple instances of poor behavior and decision-making, and violations of law and the Texas Education Code.” Now, Liebbe’s lawyer provided the Dallas Morning News with a copy of the 17-page report compiled by an outside attorney, along with a rebuttal to the findings.

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