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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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Leading Off (8/1/14)

City and Klyde Warren Park Talk of Closing Olive. And they didn’t tell their neighbors yet. They swear they were going to. Why wasn’t that stretch of the street closed when they built the park?

Fort Worth Doctor With Ebola Returns to the U.S. Kent Brantly was in West Africa offering humanitarian aid when he contracted the deadly virus. CNN has used the pandemic as an opportunity to scare the bejesus out of its viewers by pointing out that Ebola is “only a plane ride away.”

Immigrant Kids Won’t be Housed in Dallas County. County Judge Clay Jenkins announced as much after the federal government said that the tide of refugee children from Central America has slowed significantly.

Dallas ISD Won’t Tell Investigator Why He’s Being Investigated. Jeremy Liebbe was placed on paid leave and escorted from his office two weeks ago, but his lawyer says he still doesn’t know why. Sources told the Morning News it’s because of the way he went about conducting an investigation of his own supervisor.

Toddler Falls Over Railing at the AAC. The 2-year-old was watching the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus with her family when she tumbled from the 200 level to the Plaza level below. She was hospitalized in critical condition.

Another Day With a High in the 80s. Yes, you still live in North Texas.

A Less Than Complete Recap of Last Night’s ‘Best of Big D’ Party That Includes an Appearance by Pat Green

A good time was had by all, I believe, at last night’s Best of Big D party at the Rustic. DJ Sober and Sam Lao were great. The drinks flowed freely. Much food went into many mouths. And so on and so forth. But I will tell you this: before the front moved through, it was a little steamy. The meteorological conditions occasioned my favorite moment of the night:

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Brantley Hargrove Lands Book Deal with Simon & Schuster

I want to say something funny here. I want to poke fun at Brantley’s affinity for “cat facts,” or his life in “the bubble,” or his fear of ghosts, or his inexplicable desire to climb–and then jump off of–things he shouldn’t. But no. Today we celebrate.

It’s official: Simon & Schuster will publish D contributor Brantley Hargrove’s forthcoming book about famed storm chaser Tim Samaras and the gigantic tornado–the widest ever recorded–that killed him. The book, tentatively titled The Storm is likely to come out some time in early 2016. It grew out of the reporting Brantley did for this Dallas Observer story last year. I know David Patterson, his agent, is very excited. So is Brantley, though he knows he has a formidable task in front of him.

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