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Making Dallas Even Better

A Dispatch From the D Magazine Sweat Lodge

When we got to work this morning at D Magazine world headquarters, in beautiful downtown Dallas, we learned the AC is out in our building, St. Paul Place. The editorial crew all sits on the east side of the office. That would be the side of the building that is currently under assault from the sun. I’m guessing, but it’s probably 87 degrees at my desk, which sits right by a window.

To survive, many of us have moved our computers into our lobby, which is on the west side of the building. We are sitting at the table you see here, elbow to elbow. We aren’t exactly sweating. But we are all sticky. At least I am sticky. I haven’t taken a survey. Zac (far left in the pic) is on edge. I made an innocuous comment earlier about the movie London Has Fallen, and he threw a coffee mug at me. Then the Spirit Father came to see me, and I sprouted wings, and I flew with him high above our hunting grounds, admiring the herds of buffalo that have sustained our people for generations. Do you hear that noise, my brother?

I am now naked save for my loincloth. I am lashing myself with the sage branch. An intern is pouring water on the stones that still glow red from the fire, and the steam is cleansing my MacBook Air. We are working on the August issue. It will be an inspired document, if not error free.

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Leading Off (5/17/16)

Urban farm coming to downtown. There’s a vacant lot located between Deep Ellum and the Dallas Farmers Market that will likely become an urban farm by next year. Yesterday, the City Council’s Economic Development Committee concurred that this is a good idea. The urban farm will help returning veterans learn how to work the land and will provide fresh produce that people can purchase.

Wrong apartment set on fire, woman dies. 58-year-old Debra Williams died at Parkland from fire-related burns at her southeast Dallas apartment. The fire was set as revenge for a gang-related shooting, except it was meant for someone else. The gunman in the shooting was Christopher Deon Shaw, and police sources believe that someone set the fire thinking one of Shaw’s friends lived at the apartment.

I-30 Cedars exit to be closed for months. Eastbound I-30’s exit for Lamar Street, which takes drivers to downtown and The Cedars neighborhood, will close this Friday evening and will be closed until the fall. This closure is part of the Horseshoe Project, which aims to revamp where I-30 and I-35E meet.

Hail expected today. It’s been a hail-heavy rainy season. Today’s storms could bring quarter-sized hail to North Texas. And of course, a whole lot of rain.

Leading Off (4/26/16)

Jury seated for Mexican drug cartel murder case. A jury in Fort Worth will hear opening statements today in a trial of the men charged in the murder of a Mexican drug cartel lawyer. Jesus Gerardo Ledezma Cepeda and Jose Luis Cepeda Cortes are on trial for gunning down Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa in 2013 in Southlake. They were charged with interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit murder for hire.

Johnny Manziel indicted, will plead “not guilty.” A Dallas County grand jury voted to indict Manziel on misdemeanor domestic violence charges. The indictment will become official today, and Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, says that his client will plead “not guilty” to assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley.

Mavs done in playoffs. A 118-104 loss to Oklahoma City yesterday means that the Mavs have stopped short of the second playoff round for the fifth year in a row. The combined injuries on the team added up, and their efforts just weren’t enough to surpass the Thunder. But I’ll always be hopeful for the coming year.

This afternoon brings severe weather threat. Storms are expected later today throughout North Texas with the possibility of hail and tornadoes. Stay safe out there.

Leading Off (4/12/16)

U.S. requests extradition for Brenda Delgado. Now that 33-year-old Brenda Delgado, the woman accused of plotting the murder of the dentist who was dating her ex-boyfriend, has been arrested in Mexico, the U.S. wants her back on American soil to face her charges of capital murder and unlawful flight. If Delgado doesn’t appeal this, it could only be two or three months before she is extradited.

Tent city to be closed by May 4. Last week, the Tent City situation seemed more uncertain, but now the homeless encampment near downtown is set to be closed by May 4. Residents who refuse to move to a shelter or other housing by then will be arrested. Dallas city officials have divided Tent City into five parts, and the first two will be closed next week. After these two have been closed, officials will decide when to close the others.

Mavs secure playoff spot. The Mavs’ 101-92 victory against the Utah Jazz last night put them in the NBA playoffs. Now Dirk and the Mavs can’t finish any lower than seventh in the Western Conference, but I’m always stubbornly hopeful for a 2011 repeat.

Softball-sized hail hits North Texas yesterday. Hail measuring 4.5 inches landed across North Texas yesterday. Wylie was one of the areas to be hardest hit; Wylie ISD cancelled all classes for today due to storm damage. Hopefully these spring storms are on their way out. Good riddance.

Leading Off (3/24/16)

Richardson high school grad injured in Brussels terror attack. Sophie Wauters and her mother were in the Brussels airport when the explosions hit. Both survived but suffered injuries from pieces of falling ceiling and broken glass. The Wauters family is from Belgium; after graduating from Richardson, Sophie moved there for school.

Hail and strong winds move through North Texas last night. Apparently there were piles of quarter-sized hail in Plano, and even larger hail in Flower Mound. And a lightning storm in Southlake. Even a tornado warning for northern Tarrant County. For now, the storms seem to have passed but could resurface later this weekend. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was kept awake by the ridiculously loud wind.

DISD janitor is top 10 finalist in contest. J. L. Long Middle School’s Enrique Mendez is considered one of the top 10 janitors in the nation right now. The Janitor of the Year contest, hosted by Cintas Corp., provides $5,000 cash and a $5,000 school makeover to the winner. You can vote through April 15.

Real estate firm is suing 93-year-old with Alzheimer’s. Dallas real estate firm Henry S. Miller Brokerage has sued Ruth Sanders, 93, over a failed deal to construct a 7-Eleven where her house currently sits in Uptown—one of the last historic black homes in the area and one that has been in her family since the early 1900s. Sanders also has Alzheimer’s disease, so that makes it difficult for her to keep track of the situation. It would be a shame to see this piece of history be removed, but it would not be surprising.

Leading Off (3/8/16)

Prepare For Possible Severe Weather in Dallas. Yesterday, the heavy rain stayed north and west of Dallas and Fort Worth, but forecasters say damaging winds, large hail, flooding, and potential for tornadoes could roll in today. Stay safe (and park in a garage if you can).

Murdered Rowlett Mother Case May Have A Second Person of Interest. A 37-year-old Rowlett mother, Laura Grillo, was killed inside her home last November, and police have been investigating three people in connection to the murder. One of them, Jesus Trevino, has possibly fled to Mexico, and James Villeda was announced as the second person of interest Monday. Both men are convicted sex offenders and worked for Grillo and her fiancé.

Dallas Zoo Asks Court To Dismiss Suit That Would Prevent African Elephants’ Arrival. The nonprofit animal-rights group Friends of Animals wants to prevent the Dallas Zoo and two others from bringing 18 elephants from a drought-stricken part of Africa to join their ranks. The zoo is arguing to the court that Friends of Animals is taking advantage of the federal court system in pursuit of its own agenda instead of protecting legal sanctity. It’s silly, if you ask me. Hand over the elephants already.

Greg Hardy Probably Won’t Return to The Cowboys. And that makes me happy.

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Leading Off (12/31/15)

Tonya couch returned to U.S. without Ethan. Tonya Couch, the mother of “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, is back in the U.S. after being deported from Mexico, without her son, who remains in holding in Guadalajara. Meanwhile, Ethan’s attorneys submitted paperwork to block his deportation, and that process could take weeks or months to resolve. Even so, fleeing to Mexico probably won’t earn Ethan more than 120 days in jail.

This year was wettest on record for Texas. Average statewide rainfall for 2015 has amounted to 41.39 inches. Dallas-Fort Worth alone, however, has received 62.61 inches this year. And drought isn’t predicted until 2017.

North texas tornadoes totaled 12. The National Weather Service increased the number of tornadoes that touched down last weekend to 12. This brings the total to 76 tornadoes for 2015 in D-FW, a record for North Texas since tornado records began in 1950.

Happy new year’s eve! Get ready for 2016!

How Much Will It Cost Dallas To Fix the Lewisville Dam?

UPDATE (4:40 pm) I’ve put Councilman Philip Kingston’s response at the bottom of this post. Original item:

As Zac mentioned in Leading Off, Sunday’s Morning News brought us an important story about the Lewisville Dam, which the Army Corps of Engineers lists as the eighth-most-hazardous in the country. You really should read the story, especially if you live downstream of Lewisville Lake. I’ve got a couple of wonky observations about the authorship and presentation of the story, and then I’d like to get Councilman Philip Kingston involved, because he and I had a back-and-forth on Twitter.

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Leading Off (11/5/15)

Dallas county voter turnout down from last year. Tuesday’s Dallas County elections saw a 9 percent turnout: 108,607 ballots cast out of 1,199,726 registered voters. Last year’s midterm elections saw a 34 percent turnout. Let’s change that next time, shall we?

Stepbrother arrested in death of woman found in Oak Cliff dumpster. Police arrested Anthony Davis, 41, in the murder of his stepsister, Lashunda Richardson, 36. Richardson had been stabbed in the back several times and her body thrown into a dumpster outside their Oak Cliff apartment. After neighbors called 911, police came and arrested Davis. Richardson’s family remembers her as a loving sister. Police are still trying to determine a motive.

Weatherford woman charged with capital murder. After her newborn girl was found dead in the trunk of her car, 22-year-old Ashley Nicole Blades was arrested and charged with murder and abuse of a corpse. Blades told police she’d given birth Monday morning and covered the baby’s face “for a minute” to keep her from crying. She wrapped the infant in a towel inside a plastic bag and put her in the trunk of her car, and when she checked on the baby, the infant was dead. Autopsy results pending.

Expect flash floods, thunderstorms today. A flash flood watch is already underway. After an afternoon respite, the forecast is thunderstorms, hail, high winds for the fun commute home. Hello, fall.

Leading Off (10/23/15)

It Rained a Bunch, Gonna Rain a Bunch More. After a month and half with hardly a drop, North Texas is expected to see 3 to 6 inches of precipitation through Saturday. Watch out for flash flooding. The Trinity River Wind Festival, which had already been rescheduled from May due to that month’s deluge, had to be cancelled again. Apparently God hates kites.

Brown, Police Associations Squabble Over Schedules. Reading this story, in which union heads complain that the chief altered the usual procedure for officers requesting their shift schedules as a form of retaliation, was about as interesting as reading an HR manual.

Mastermind of Uptown Dentist Murder Indicted. According to WFAA, Dallas Police have known for weeks that Brenda Delgago is in Mexico. They’ve been waiting for her indictment for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill Kendra Hatcher, the girlfriend of Delgado’s former boyfriend, before seeking her extradition.

Leading Off (10/22/15)

Texas health resources appeals decision in Nina Pham’s lawsuit. THR, which owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, appealed a judge’s order regarding the lawsuit filed by Nina Pham, a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan. The judge’s ruling temporarily stops the Texas Workforce Commission from saying whether THR is a co-employer of Pham with the hospital. If THR were ruled a co-employer, the lawsuit would be categorized as a worker’s compensation claim. Pham, who got the disease a year ago, recovered but is still experiencing ongoing health issues. She maintains that THR did not appropriately train and protect its staff.

Dallas Police to expand patrol in oak lawn following violent attacks. Dallas City Council member Adam Medrano announced yesterday with the DPD that patrol would be increased in the Oak Lawn area. Medrano represents Oak Lawn and is chairman of Mayor Mike Rawlings’ LGBT task force. Residents have voiced concern about poor lighting and lack of cameras near businesses. There have been about eight incidents of assault or robbery since the beginning of September, all of which occurred late on weekend nights. Expanded patrol will include bike officers, undercover officers, and officers on foot.

Margot Winspear, RIP. The Dallas opera house namesake died Tuesday in an assisted-care facility at age 83. She and her late husband, Bill Winspear, had contributed $42 million to the building of the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Winspear Opera House.

Flash flood watch for north texas begins tonight. This weekend, rain will take over for sunshine. Starting tonight, expect rain through Sunday. And with the dry state North Texas is in, we won’t complain about it.

Leading Off (9/10/15)

New and Improved LBJ Has Instruction Manual. Get ready for the new LBJ Freeway to be unveiled today. However, only parts of it are still free. There´s even an online instruction manual dedicated to answering all your inevitable questions. In short, part of LBJ is free, and the other part contains six toll lanes below. Prices can range from 10 cents per mile to 75 cents per mile depending on traffic. It will no doubt take drivers a few test runs to decipher the most efficient routes, but time will soon tell if the years of maddening construction were worth it.

Infant hit by car in north Oak cliff. Yesterday, a 4-month-old boy was left critically injured when a car hit him. He was with his 18-year-old mother in a parking lot by North Bishop Avenue. A friend who came to pick them up accidentally struck the boy with her car when she pressed the accelerator too hard and drove onto the sidewalk, where the boy was. He is now at Children´s Medical Center.

D/FW record rainfall thanks to hurricane linda. Yesterday´s rainfall exceeded the National Weather Service´s expectations when it grew to approximately 2 inches by the end of the day. The previous record was about 1 inch in 1913. This was the first real rainfall in weeks and even created flooding conditions for the first time since we needed an ark back in the spring. We have Hurricane Linda to thank for this break in the usual dry spell that is September. Still, Dallas is way ahead of our typical yearly rain rate with 38.83 inches of rain.

Why Central Expressway Doesn’t Flood During Torrential Rain

Here’s a little Dallas infrastructure secret that we missed in our Hidden Dallas edition: the Cole Park Storm Water Detention Vault. It’s an un-sexy name for an un-sexy facility that performs a rather un-sexy function. And yet, there’s something evocative and mysterious about watching this video (below) of a Dallas city worker descending in a steel grid-ed elevator into unknown cavernous depths beneath Uptown. The video follows the man into chambers that were carved out 100 feet beneath Uptown in the early-1990s during the construction of the new Central Expressway.

The statistics on the vault are staggering: the 13 chambers with 40-foot ceilings stretch a length of two football fields with the capacity of holding upwards of 71 million gallons of water. In the instance of massive rainfall, these vast basins collect rainwater that would otherwise overwhelm Central Expressway’s storm drainage system and flood the highway.

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Leading Off (5/8/15)

Apocalypse Now? Thursday night and early Friday morning brought North Texas tornadoes and flooding, tens of thousands without power, a train derailment that sent two locomotives into a creek, a gas well fire possibly caused by a lightning strike, and the biggest earthquake these parts have ever seen.

FBI Sent Warning About Gunman. Just hours before Sunday’s attack outside an anti-Muslim cartoon contest, the feds alerted Garland cops that Elton Simpson might show up, though the local police spokesman says officers on the scene “had no idea, no information” that Simpson and his accomplice were on their way.

Saturday Is Election Day. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Precinct locations found here. Vote if you haven’t already. Peter already did a fine job of guilting you into it.

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Friday Afternoon Time Kill: An Interactive Tornado Map

St. Delkus says we may be in for a tornado today. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise. April is Dallas’ peak month for tornadoes, according to this new interactive weather map created by U.S. Tornadoes that tracks the high-point of the tornado season across every county in the United States. Dallas County averages 22 tornadoes in April historically. As you scroll your mouse over the map, you may notice something of a pattern. The data suggests tornado season is migratory:

As we’ve shown in a number of other articles, tornadoes are like snowbirds — they winter in the South. Even there, cool and dry is the name of the game more often than not in the weeks around the new year when tornado tallies reach their minimum. Cold-season tornadoes are generally limited, but larger events happen.

Moving out of winter, we typically see tornadoes move back north and northwest through the Mid-South and Southeast during early spring, then into the Midwest and Plains heading into summer. The main tornado zone ultimately reaches the U.S./Canada border area by July or so, before crashing back southward (with occasional outbursts) during fall.

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