Five stories that have North Texas talking: downtown Plano gets a national honor; the first woman and African-American to lead Tarrant County College has died; Interstate 35 is important for monarch butterflies; and more.
Downtown Plano has been named one of four Great Neighborhoods by the American Planning Association. The APA says its Great Places in America program “recognizes streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces in the United States demonstrating exceptional character, quality, and planning—attributes that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth, and inspire others around the country.” The APA says downtown Plano once faced decline, but has become the “historic and artistic center” of Plano and attracts lots of visitors. The APA credits DART light-rail for helping to create a “strategic transit village plan.” The other three great neighborhoods: Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Missouri; Wynwood Arts District in Miami; and the Roosevelt Row Arts District in Phoenix.
Watch this video about downtown Plano:
- Erma Johnson Hadley, the first woman and African-American to lead Tarrant County College, has died. Hadley, 73, died Thursday of pancreatic cancer, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Hadley was a founding faculty member of Tarrant County College, beginning her career in 1968. In 2010, she became the college’s fourth chancellor. “Erma was laser-focused on the students we serve,” Tarrant County College Board President Louise Appleman said in a message sent to faculty and staff Thursday. “Every decision she made was driven by her deep desire to provide access to higher education for our community and for that education to pave a path to success in today’s workforce. We will miss her terribly and I personally have lost a dear friend.” Read more here.
- The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will premiere Pharrell Williams’ first composition for live dance and theater. KERA’s Anne Bothwell reports on Art&Seek: “Pharrell Williams is a master of rap, soul and pop, the force behind many hit songs from DaftPunk’s ‘Get Lucky’ to ‘Happy,’ the theme song for the movie ‘Despicable Me.’ Now, he’s going to try his hand composing music for a theatrical dance performance. And the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will be first to perform it. This project is called ‘Rules of the Game.’ Williams is part of a collective creating the work. Choreographer Jonah Bokaer and his dancers will create the performance. Artist Daniel Arsham will design the set. The work premieres May 17, during the DSO’s Soluna Music & Art Festival. Tickets go on sale later this year.”
- Interstate 35 plays a key role in saving monarch butterflies. WFAA-TV reports: “Over the last 15 years, the monarch population has plunged from 1 billion to just 50 million. But believe it or not, I-35 is a crucial piece of the government's plan to help bolster the butterfly's numbers. ‘The I-35 corridor actually comes up through the state of Texas and goes all the way up north, and that's also the natural flight path for the majority of these butterflies,’ said Diane Barber of the Fort Worth Zoo. Barber says federal funding has started coming through for President Obama's new ‘Pollinator Initiative.’ It aims to saturate areas near I-35 with nectar plants monarchs can eat, and milkweed the caterpillars can use as host plants. You may start to see loads of these plants along the highway and at rest stops.” [WFAA-TV]
- A longtime North Texas restaurant is closing. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “Vance Godbey’s, a North Texas staple of homestyle meals served buffet-style for nearly 60 years, is closing its doors for good. The ranch-style family restaurant northwest of Fort Worth in Lakeside will serve its last Sunday dinner to the public Oct. 11, owner Carol Godbey, daughter of the founder, confirmed Tuesday in a phone interview. But the company, which for many years has been open to the public only on Sundays, will remain open year-round as a catering business, keeping its fleet of trucks.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]