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Category: State News

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Officials Reveal Funding Plan for $105M Astrodome Project

HOUSTON (AP) — Harris County leaders have announced their financing plan for a $105 million redevelopment of the Houston Astrodome that would include raising the two bottom floors to accommodate about 1,400 parking spaces. Officials said Friday that the county would pay for a third of the project, another third would come from hotel taxes and the remaining amount from county parking revenues. County commissioners will determine Tuesday whether to spend $10.5 million on the design of the parking garage inside the county-owned stadium. If that’s approved, a firm would be hired to produce an overall redevelopment plan. The dome has been vacant for 17 years and the Houston Chronicle reports officials want to make it suitable for festivals, conferences and commercial uses across more than 550,000 square feet of air-conditioned space.

Harris County Official Quits Amid Questions Over Credentials

HOUSTON (AP) — A Harris County toxicologist who regularly provided expert testimony in DWI cases has resigned after questions were raised about her academic qualifications. The Houston Chronicle reports Dr. Fessessework Guale resigned late Thursday from the Harris County medical examiner’s office, where she had worked since 2006. She earlier had been reassigned after officials learned that she testified to having a master’s degree in toxicology but actually earned one in physiological science from Oklahoma State’s veterinary school. The district attorney’s office last week sent letters inviting defense attorneys representing thousands of DWI defendants in Harris County to request reviews of cases involving Guale’s testimony. Guale previously told KPRC-TV that she didn’t do anything wrong, explaining that her training is in toxicology but her degree says physiological sciences. She described the matter as a “misunderstanding.”

Officials: Texas Man Shoots, Kills Father During Disturbance

CLEBURNE (AP) — A 48-year-old man is in custody after authorities say he fatally shot his father at a home south of Fort Worth. Johnson County sheriff’s Lt. Tim Jones said in a statement Saturday that Omar Rodriguez shot his father during a disturbance at the home near Cleburne. Rodriguez’s sister called 911 and then took 72-year-old Manuel Rodriguez to the hospital, where he died. It’s not clear what prompted the shooting Friday night. Jones says Omar Rodriguez fled to an adjoining residence and refused to exit. Deputies entered and Rodriguez was injured in the shoulder when a shootout occurred. A deputy was hurt when struck by flying debris. Both will recover. Jones says Rodriguez will be charged with murder.

Starr: Ex-Baylor Football Coach Briles ‘An Honorable Man’

AUSTIN (AP) — Ken Starr, the former president and chancellor of Baylor University, is defending former head football coach Art Briles by saying he’s “an honorable man who conducted an honorable program.” Starr also said Saturday that Briles didn’t deserve to be fired by Baylor’s regents. But he acknowledged that the university’s response to women who earlier complained about being assaulted was “completely insufficient.” Starr spoke at the Texas Tribune Festival, where he discussed the sexual assault scandal involving several former football players, Title IX, and other issues. An outside review determined that for years the school mishandled rape allegations and the football program operated as it if was above the rules. Briles was fired in May and Starr soon after was removed as president. He later resigned as chancellor.

Trump’s Texas Chairman: Cruz’s Support Didn’t Come Too Late

AUSTIN (AP) — The chairman of Donald Trump’s Texas campaign says Ted Cruz decided to vote for the billionaire businessman after a “thoughtful and prayerful process.” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was state chairman of Cruz’s presidential campaign but now has that role for Trump. Cruz announced Friday via Facebook that he was voting for Trump, in a dramatic reversal. In a phone interview, Patrick called Cruz’s announcement “extremely significant because Ted has a large number of supporters and donors who believe in him.” He added: “Hopefully, Ted stepping forward will bring more of them” to Trump’s side. Patrick had suggested Cruz would be left in the GOP’s “rearview mirror” if he didn’t endorse Trump. But he’s now praising Cruz’s timing ahead of Monday night’s first presidential debate when, “America focuses on this election.”

Court Clears Way for Texas to Make Children Therapy cuts

AUSTIN (AP) — Texas can proceed with cutting $350 million from a Medicaid program that provides therapy for disabled children after a lawsuit stalled at the state’s highest court. The Texas Supreme Court on Friday didn’t explain why it rejected the case after issuing a temporary injunction this summer. Opponents have said roughly 60,000 kids statewide stand to lose access to speech and occupational therapists. It wasn’t immediately clear how quickly Texas might implement the cuts. Republican lawmakers made the cuts in 2015 amid frustration of growing Medicaid costs. They again defended that decision in front of families at the Capitol last week. One prominent lobbying group fighting the cuts, the Texas Association of Home Care and Hospice, called the outcome disappointing. A state health spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Driver, 14 Students Injured in School Bus Crash Near Houston

CROSBY (AP) — A school bus carrying about 50 middle and high school students flipped on its side into a ditch beside a rural road near Houston, sending 14 students and the driver to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Ralph Gonzales says the 15 appeared to have bumps and bruises and were taken to hospitals for precautionary examinations. The accident happened about 3:30 p.m. Friday on Farm-to-Market Road 1942 near Crosby, about 35 miles northeast of Houston. Gonzales said the driver of the Crosby school district bus swerved the bus into a roadside ditch to avoid another vehicle. Crosby school Superintendent Keith Moore said the bus was not equipped with seatbelts.

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Officials Reveal Funding Plan for $105M Astrodome Project

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

HOUSTON (AP) — Harris County leaders have announced their financing plan for a $105 million redevelopment of the Houston Astrodome that would include raising the two bottom floors to accommodate about 1,400 parking spaces. Officials said Friday that the county would pay for a third of the project, another third would come from hotel taxes and the remaining amount from county parking revenues. County commissioners will determine Tuesday whether to spend $10.5 million on the design of the parking garage inside the county-owned stadium. If that’s approved, a firm would be hired to produce an overall redevelopment plan. The dome has been vacant for 17 years and the Houston Chronicle reports officials want to make it suitable for festivals, conferences and commercial uses across more than 550,000 square feet of air-conditioned space.

Harris County Official Quits Amid Questions Over Credentials

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

HOUSTON (AP) — A Harris County toxicologist who regularly provided expert testimony in DWI cases has resigned after questions were raised about her academic qualifications. The Houston Chronicle reports Dr. Fessessework Guale resigned late Thursday from the Harris County medical examiner’s office, where she had worked since 2006. She earlier had been reassigned after officials learned that she testified to having a master’s degree in toxicology but actually earned one in physiological science from Oklahoma State’s veterinary school. The district attorney’s office last week sent letters inviting defense attorneys representing thousands of DWI defendants in Harris County to request reviews of cases involving Guale’s testimony. Guale previously told KPRC-TV that she didn’t do anything wrong, explaining that her training is in toxicology but her degree says physiological sciences. She described the matter as a “misunderstanding.”

Officials: Texas Man Shoots, Kills Father During Disturbance

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

CLEBURNE (AP) — A 48-year-old man is in custody after authorities say he fatally shot his father at a home south of Fort Worth. Johnson County sheriff’s Lt. Tim Jones said in a statement Saturday that Omar Rodriguez shot his father during a disturbance at the home near Cleburne. Rodriguez’s sister called 911 and then took 72-year-old Manuel Rodriguez to the hospital, where he died. It’s not clear what prompted the shooting Friday night. Jones says Omar Rodriguez fled to an adjoining residence and refused to exit. Deputies entered and Rodriguez was injured in the shoulder when a shootout occurred. A deputy was hurt when struck by flying debris. Both will recover. Jones says Rodriguez will be charged with murder.

Starr: Ex-Baylor Football Coach Briles ‘An Honorable Man’

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

AUSTIN (AP) — Ken Starr, the former president and chancellor of Baylor University, is defending former head football coach Art Briles by saying he’s “an honorable man who conducted an honorable program.” Starr also said Saturday that Briles didn’t deserve to be fired by Baylor’s regents. But he acknowledged that the university’s response to women who earlier complained about being assaulted was “completely insufficient.” Starr spoke at the Texas Tribune Festival, where he discussed the sexual assault scandal involving several former football players, Title IX, and other issues. An outside review determined that for years the school mishandled rape allegations and the football program operated as it if was above the rules. Briles was fired in May and Starr soon after was removed as president. He later resigned as chancellor.

Trump’s Texas Chairman: Cruz’s Support Didn’t Come Too Late

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

AUSTIN (AP) — The chairman of Donald Trump’s Texas campaign says Ted Cruz decided to vote for the billionaire businessman after a “thoughtful and prayerful process.” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was state chairman of Cruz’s presidential campaign but now has that role for Trump. Cruz announced Friday via Facebook that he was voting for Trump, in a dramatic reversal. In a phone interview, Patrick called Cruz’s announcement “extremely significant because Ted has a large number of supporters and donors who believe in him.” He added: “Hopefully, Ted stepping forward will bring more of them” to Trump’s side. Patrick had suggested Cruz would be left in the GOP’s “rearview mirror” if he didn’t endorse Trump. But he’s now praising Cruz’s timing ahead of Monday night’s first presidential debate when, “America focuses on this election.”

Court Clears Way for Texas to Make Children Therapy cuts

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

AUSTIN (AP) — Texas can proceed with cutting $350 million from a Medicaid program that provides therapy for disabled children after a lawsuit stalled at the state’s highest court. The Texas Supreme Court on Friday didn’t explain why it rejected the case after issuing a temporary injunction this summer. Opponents have said roughly 60,000 kids statewide stand to lose access to speech and occupational therapists. It wasn’t immediately clear how quickly Texas might implement the cuts. Republican lawmakers made the cuts in 2015 amid frustration of growing Medicaid costs. They again defended that decision in front of families at the Capitol last week. One prominent lobbying group fighting the cuts, the Texas Association of Home Care and Hospice, called the outcome disappointing. A state health spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Driver, 14 Students Injured in School Bus Crash Near Houston

Posted/updated on: September 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

CROSBY (AP) — A school bus carrying about 50 middle and high school students flipped on its side into a ditch beside a rural road near Houston, sending 14 students and the driver to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Ralph Gonzales says the 15 appeared to have bumps and bruises and were taken to hospitals for precautionary examinations. The accident happened about 3:30 p.m. Friday on Farm-to-Market Road 1942 near Crosby, about 35 miles northeast of Houston. Gonzales said the driver of the Crosby school district bus swerved the bus into a roadside ditch to avoid another vehicle. Crosby school Superintendent Keith Moore said the bus was not equipped with seatbelts.

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