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Making Dallas Even Better

Leading Off (8/21/15)

Parkland’s Moving Day Goes Smoothly. Hundreds of patients were taken into the new $1.3 billion complex on Thursday, as the county hospital’s operations officially began to transition away from the old building. Over on D Healthcare Daily, Matt Goodman wrote about the “slew of firsts” that racked up in short order: “The first two trauma patients at the new hospital were men in their 30s who were in a car accident. The first CareFlite helicopter landed on the helipad atop the hospital at 7:35 a.m., carrying a man in his 30s who was also hurt in a car accident. The first baby, a boy, was born via C-section at 9:40 a.m.”

Dallas Police Assistant Chief Demotes Himself. Tom Lawrence has asked Chief David Brown to reduce his rank to lieutenant. Brown says the request came after he confronted Lawrence about an inappropriate comment he’d allegedly made about a female commander. Lawrence says he’s been considering the change for six months and that the recent incident had nothing to do with it. The president of the Dallas Police Association says the unusual request — which comes with a significant pay cut — is a sign of major dissatisfaction with the department’s management.

Autistic Girl Kidnapped, Raped in Rowlett. Imagine the horror of the mother who became concerned when her daughter’s GPS tracker indicated she was in an unusual place, so she turned on the device’s microphone and could hear that the 15-year-old was being sexually assaulted at a nearby park.

Woman Stole Nearly $1 Million, Bought Roller Rink. Aurelia Anna Campbell was arrested for having embezzled $940,000 over the past seven years while working as a payroll clerk for a Bedford company. Some of the pilfered money was allegedly used to purchase the House of Quad roller derby rink in Denton, which is home to the North Texas Derby Revolution league. A body builder, investigators are also apparently looking into whether Campbell was using steroids.

Gainesville Man Indicted For 18-Year-Old Murder. Christopher Ax, 38, is charged with having killed his former girlfriend in 1997. The arrest was made after Texas Rangers took a new look at the case.

Rob’s Chop Shop Celebrates 20 Years

The old-school barbershop in Exposition Park run by third-generation barber Rob Villareal — and recent Best of Big D winner — will celebrate two decades in business on Saturday with a shindig from 6 to 9:30 pm. Plus, it’s Rob’s 50th birthday. So after drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the shop, there’s an after party at 10 at the brand-new Eight Bells Tavern (in the old Amsterdam space) with a performance by The Rhythmaires and tunes by DJ Mr. Rid.

MegaFest Kicks Off in Klyde Warren Park

MegaFest 2015 officially kicked off today in Klyde Warren Park. Half family atmosphere — kids splashing and playing in the kids’ park, people getting food from the Thursday food trucks, and an Elsa impersonator wandering around — and half official, the kickoff served to welcome those who had traveled to Dallas for the event. The morning felt not so much like an event itself, as hype for the weekend ahead. And hype there was.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Aug. 20

I imagine we all have a lot of work-related things to do today before we can get to the fun-related things to do, so let’s not waste any time on extended introductions. MegaFest kicks into high gear, Incubus and Deftones rock out at Gexa, Tera Melos and Power Trip play at Trees, and God of Carnage thrills and repulses at the Addison Theatre Centre. Go forth and do things.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Nutria, the Furry Menace in Our Dallas Waterways

Question: The other night, we were standing on the Continental Bridge, taking in the glorious river, when we saw something swimming upstream. We were at first concerned it was a dog, but it was moving with such ease, and going underwater and coming back out, that we decided it must be something else. Our final guess is a nutria. What the hell is a nutria? Are there many in Dallas? Will we have more now, and if we were to jump in to try to rescue it, would it kill us? (Sure, all these questions could be answered on Google, but I’d prefer to hear Mr. Bryan’s take.) — David H.

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Leading Off (8/20/15)

New Parkland Hospital is Open Today. Bright and early at 6am, the Rees-Jones Trauma Center, Emergency Department, Urgent Care Emergency Department and Labor & Delivery services in the new Parkland Memorial Hospital opened at the new location, 5200 Harry Hines Blvd. Other sections of the new hospital, including intensive care units and a burn center, will gain operation over a three-day period. All inpatient services will be transferred by Saturday’s end. I, for one, would not wish to be a patient during this transition. Chaos. But the new 2.1 million-square-foot facility does look pretty.

Burn Bans Spread Across DFW like wildfire. Denton and Tarrant counties have already set up burn bans, and Dallas County will likely do so next Tuesday, which would be in effect for 90 days. Funny how the burn bans are coming on the heels of yesterday’s rain, the first since July 8. And to think, not long ago we were all hoping the downpours would desist.

Cannabis-based Smoothies Coming to a Suburb Near You. I mean, Frisco. Who would have thought? As it turns out, the AmeriCanna Cafe, a cannabis-based smoothie shop, is indeed set to open in Frisco within the year. If the hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck while reading this, don’t worry. It’s perfectly legal. Apparently, the ingredients are derived from hemp seeds, while are allowed for consumption in the U.S. Smoothies will have at most only negligible traces of THC, so you will not need to worry about failing a drug test (at least not because of this smoothie).

NorthPark Celebrates 50 Years With 50 Days of Giving

There was a big announcement at NorthPark today. We dispatched intern Britt Stafford to witness the proceedings. She reports. You decide:

August 19 isn’t merely another day to shop at the NorthPark Center. This year marks a special milestone. Under the red beams of a Di Suvero sculpture stationed in one of the mall’s many atriums, Nancy Nasher gave her remarks to celebrate the shopping center’s 50th anniversary and announce the launch of a new initiative. To celebrate its success as of one of the top malls in the country, NorthPark will donate to 50 North Texas nonprofit organizations over the next 50 days. NorthPark has also entered into a partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas and will host the organization’s North Texas Giving Day on September 17. Sorry shoppers, no freebies for you.

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Jim Dent Gets Three More Years In the Joint

Dent, the author of Junction Boys and semi-professional mugshot model, was already sentenced to 10 years for felony DWI in Collin County. Now the well-known writer and serial drunk driver will stack three more on top of that, thanks to a plea deal in Williamson County for another DWI. So he’ll have plenty of time to work on his memoirs and not drink too many drinks then try to drive an automobile.

For more on Dent, read this very good story by Michael J. “Mike” Mooney.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Aug. 19

Dallas megachurch leader T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest, which will settle into the convention center and American Airlines Center for the next several days, is so big it’s a little overwhelming. “Mega” may not do justice to the size of an event that has Tyler Perry producing a Madea play, a film festival, and at least 150 speakers featured within a “faith, family, and entertainment” extravaganza that’s expected to bring 85,000 people downtown. Hopefully crews tidied up the convention center after last week’s big expo.

In less-mega happenings tonight in Dallas, Michael McDonald performs at House of Blues, and noted charlatan Kim Russo claims to see dead people at the Kessler.

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How Much Money is DISD Missing Out On by Not Fully Funding Pre-K?

At this past week’s board briefing, trustee Nancy Bingham said something that thoroughly irritated me. Now, I feel bad calling her out, because she is, for the most part, a fantastic trustee. She understands proper governance, and she doesn’t allow herself to get dragged into the mud with trolling status-quo types. I also like her because she tends to zone out and play Candy Crush Saga when status quo trustees start filibustering. Last week, though, she said something I’ve heard often from other trustees, too, and it was way off base.

Bingham, in an off-hand comment, said that she believes the district should move forward with putting the $1.6 billion bond issue on the ballot in November. Nothing wrong with that. As I said last week, it’s the right thing to do.

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The Di Suvero Sculpture In Front of The Meyerson Is Almost Gone

Good job, Dallas! Now take down the Di Suvero in front of the DMA, because there is probably room to put an office building there, too, if you try hard and don’t really care about design. Not that caring about design or the integrity of neighborhoods or thinking holistically about the city is ever really a concern. And anyway, the museum’s facade is all busted up, so no one will probably care. Great idea, huh? AWESOME.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Aug. 18

Have news organizations become too cavalier about the use of the word “breaking?” I think maybe we’ve gone too far when this city’s paper of record opts to use a hashtag, capital letters, and — just in case you weren’t already paying attention — an exclamation point in a tweet about fried food. Is this just an internet thing? Are Minions memes about Dallas City Council meetings next?

I understand the excitement about bacon margaritas and fried alligator meat, but this is not exactly a developing situation we’re dealing with here — The State Fair, as it is wont to do, will have some wacky new fried food. Let’s put a moratorium on the word “breaking” as it pertains to news. Even when used ironically, it feels like overkill.

In today’s breaking entertainment news, Alabama Shakes will play at Verizon Theatre, the Rangers will play Seattle at home, and the Texas Theatre is screening a documentary about a manic depressive cult musician who’s playing a show at Dada later this week. Stick with us as this situation develops.

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Coppell Is the 8th-Best Place to Live in the U.S.?

Here’s some of what Money had to say about Coppell, in naming the city on its annual list of the Best Places to Live. Are they trolling Patrick Kennedy?

Coppell has made a virtue of concrete. The ring of freeways that surrounds the town also shields it from Dallas’s sprawl … Those freeways also give residents easy access to the airport (a 10-minute drive) and the big cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.

Clearly the editors of Money have lost their minds, since we established last year that Coppell is only the 13th-best Dallas suburb. You might also remember that the city that topped last year’s Money countdown was McKinney. I don’t believe that its absence in 2015 has anything to do the aftermath of  its pool parties — the magazine seems to like to turn over the entire top 50 each year, alternating between ranking towns with populations of 10K-50K and cities populations 50K-300K — but I’m going to guess that it might keep it from making a return trip in 2016.

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