PLAINVIEW (AP) – An eight-story Hilton hotel that opened in downtown Plainview in West Texas in 1929 but has been abandoned for more than 30 years is about to gain new life. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has approved a tax credit application to renovate the building into a multifamily housing project. Plainview Assistant City Manager Andrew Freeman tells the Plainview Daily Herald the agency’s approval culminates a more than year-long effort that it’s hoped will spur economic activity in the city’s downtown. The hotel had 125 guest rooms, a ballroom, a lounge, and private dining rooms when it opened July 3, 1929. It’s to be converted into about 27 rental units with one to three bedrooms. Developer MRE Capital says it intends to spend about $7.7 million on the project.
AMARILLO (AP) – Amarillo city officials are facing a $5.5 million expense to address the growing city’s growing amount garbage at its landfill. A gas collection and control system now is needed because the existing simple venting system no longer can handle the gas expelled by the increased amount of decaying garbage. Last year, the gas production exceeded allowable limits and the more sophisticated system is needed to avoid fines from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. City officials tell the Amarillo Globe-News they’re trying to find the money amid other capital needs. Public Works Director Robert Patrick says besides the $5.5 million to install the system, the annual maintenance cost will be about $200,000.
DALLAS (AP) – Federal inspectors say a South Texas research facility where 13 primates died of hyperthermia in overheated rooms violated the Animal Welfare Act and has been fined. Covance Research Products in Alice was fined $31,500 for four violations of the federal act following the 2014 deaths of the cynomolgus monkeys, a type of macaque often used in medical research. Two animals died when a thermostat malfunctioned at the facility about 40 miles west of Corpus Christi. A similar incident occurred about a month later when a thermostat override switch failed, killing 11. Inspectors further found that at least five other primates suffered that year when they weren’t given water or proper care after being flown into Texas for Covance experiments. The company didn’t immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.
EL PASO (AP) – Federal authorities in El Paso say an 18-year-old man believed from Africa is held without bond on a sex trafficking charge after he was arrested for bringing two 15-year-old girls from Phoenix and then prostituting them on an internet classified website. FBI assistant special agent Keith Byers says authorities arrested Edema Missiadan after police in Mesa, Arizona, relayed information that a girl possibly was being forced into prostitution in the El Paso area. An investigator responding to ads set up a meeting at an El Paso motel Wednesday evening and Missiadan was arrested. The El Paso Times reports Missiadan told a federal judge Thursday he committed no crime and is a U.S. citizen. Officials say he’s a refugee from Ghana and is believed to be a citizen of Togo.
HOUSTON (AP) – A federal appeals court has refused an appeal from a Texas death row inmate who was arrested nearly 19 years after an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl was raped and strangled in her home. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected claims from 53-year-old Juan Segundo that his lawyers at his 2006 Tarrant County trial were deficient for failing to properly investigate and develop evidence he was intellectually disabled. Segundo’s wife was a family friend of Vanessa Villa, who was found dead in 1986 in her home. A DNA match in a national database nearly two decades later tied Segundo to her slaying. DNA evidence also linked Segundo to the rapes and strangling of two other women in the Fort Worth area in 1994 and 1995.
AUSTIN (AP) – Austin’s police chief says his department’s chain of command needs to be reviewed in the wake of a video showing a white officer throwing a black teacher to the ground during a traffic stop. More than a year passed between the traffic stop in which Officer Bryan Richter nearly threw Breaion King into an adjacent truck and Chief Art Acevedo condemning what happened. The Austin American-Statesman reported that there were at least four opportunities for Acevedo to have been notified of the video sooner. Police officials tell the newspaper that Richter’s supervisors didn’t notify the chief that they were investigating the arrest months earlier. Austin Mayor Steve Adler called the video “disgusting,” and a grand jury is expected to review the case soon.