First Lady Michelle Obama is in Fort Worth Thursday night, talking to parents about ways to combat obesity among children. It’s part of the First Lady’s national tour to mark the second anniversary of her Let’s Move program.
Friday morning she’ll team up with top chefs, the Dallas Cowboys and students from Dallas’ Moseley Elementary to highlight DISD’s award winning nutrition program.
Dallas was chosen because it has more schools than any district in the country that have met the highest school food and fitness standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Nutrition director Dora Rivas says DISD has replaced a lot of fatty, sugary foods with more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. And they’ve convinced students to give the healthier foods a try.
Dora: In the food and child nutrition program we have worked very hard to do our menu planning and find food items that are acceptable students and that they enjoy. At the same time it’s been a coordinated approach with the physical education and health classes and the campus principles who are also doing school gardens.
Rivas says the district is excited and honored that Mrs. Obama is highlighting DISD schools.
Shelley Kofler, KERA News
DISD Takes Only Boys To A Movie
A Dallas school field trip took 5,700 fifth graders to see the World War II period movie Red Tails, about the renowned Tuskegee Airmen. But the district took boys only to see the story about African American pilots, and used $32,000 in Title I money to pay for it.
Title One dollars help ensure that ALL children have a fair & equal, opportunity at a high-quality education.
DISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander said the district does not believe it discriminated against girls. He said the district offers gender specific programs for boys and girls. He also said the plan was cleared in advance by the Texas Education Agency.
Dahlander: We have an all-boys school and an all girls school. We are doing more of the gender specific things because we understand that genders are different and they’re learning different things at different times and they get their information a little bit differently.
Dahlander said girls had the option of seeing the film Akeelah and the Bee in their schools. Later this month, they’ll also experience a girls-only program.
Dahlander said Red Tails focuses on the content of the pilots’ character. He acknowledged that lesson might be appropriate for all students, not just boys.
Bill Zeeble, KERA News
Santorum Packs Plano Event, Talks About Energy
A Plano crowd chanted Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s name Wednesday night as he donned a cowboy hat and told a packed crowd he’s the conservative who can defeat Barack Obama’s “socialist agenda.”
Santorum hit a popular note with his Texas audience of about 700 by calling for the creation of more jobs around natural gas.
Santorum: We have an opportunity for domestic fuels to power this country. Natural gas just six, seven years ago was $13. It’s now $2.50. We have cheap affordable energy in this country and we’re not doing anything. We have no plan in which to use it.
Santorum’s Plano rally capped a daylong visit to North Texas in which he prayed with pastors, attended a fundraiser and met with members of the Tea Party.
Tea Party voter Tom Fabry said he liked Santorum’s message of limited government and less spending.
Fabry: When we hear someone like Rick Santorum speak as did tonight he addresses those principles directly and his vision aligns with those principles.
Patti Stone said she’s decided to back Santorum because he’s not afraid to talk about his faith.
Stone: I like the way that he is very passionate about his personal moral beliefs and I want someone to take those personal, moral beliefs to the White House.
Santorum hoped to use his Texas visit to build on a three-state win Tuesday night.
Shelley Kofler, KERA News
Mom Runs Over, Kills Son
A 4 year old child is dead after being run over by his mother this morning.
Police say the mom was leaving her two children at their grandmother’s house in North Oak Cliff.
After one child reached the front door of the home, the mom began backing up for a better view of their entry. She then ran over the other boy.
The child died from his injuries after being rushed to Children’s Medical Center.
The case is being handled as an accident and no charges have been filed.
Justin Martin, KERA News
FBI Asked To Help In FW Amber Alert
Fort Worth Police are asking the FBI for help in a nationwide search for an 11 year old girl.
Tuesday, police issued an Amber Alert for Jessica Smith. Investigators say she was abducted by her mother Monday night. Kimberly Smith is said to have a deteriorating mental illness and has threatened to harm her daughter. Police say the Smith’s are going through a contentious divorce.
Kimberly Smith is reported to be driving a silver 2007 Mazda CX-9, Texas license BMZ-390.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas Police Officer Fired
A Dallas Police Sergeant has been fired for several alleged violations of department policies.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown says Sergeant Stormy Magiera inappropriately used her TASER during an arrest, fabricated a robbery to explain shooting at someone while apparently trying to buy hydrocodone on the street, and family violence.
Magiera has the right to appeal her firing.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas Water Bills Could Go Up For Biggest Users
Dallas residential water customers who use the most pay the highest rates. And they may go even higher. The Dallas City Council is considering adding a “fifth” pricing tier – higher rates for those who use more than 30 thousand gallons a month.
But Council member Ann Margolin is against it.
Margolin: Tier Four is already paying almost three times as much as Tier One. One person’s paying $1.68 for that thousand and another is paying $6.25 for the same thousand gallons.
Councilman Scott Griggs wants the highest users to pay more.
Councilman Jerry Allen says another top tier would cut consumption by less than “half-a-percent.” He says a better idea is to make twice weekly watering permanent. He says that would cut water use by 12%.
Any rate change must be approved by the full city council, and would take effect October 1st.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas Fair Park: A “Top Ten” Great American Place
Dallas’ Fair Park is on the 2011 list of Great American Places.
The list is compiled by the American Planning Association, which cites the park’s historic collection of Art Deco architecture, it’s museums, the Music Hall and the Cotton Bowl.
Friends of Fair Park director Craig Holcomb says it’s a very prestigious award, and he hopes people take note.
Holcomb: This is the kind of thing that affirms to the Dallas community how important Fair Park really is. We all take it for granted. But to get a national award saying we’re one of the ten best public spaces, says you know, this is really something special. This is not something you can put together overnight.
The award was presented at City Hall yesterday to a large crowd of Fair park fans.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Retail gasoline prices up 1 cent across Texas
Retail gasoline prices are a penny higher across Texas this week, a slight slowing of the upward trend statewide.
AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide was $3.39 per gallon.
The association says nationwide gasoline prices increased 4 cents, to settle at an average $3.49.
The statewide average price is a dime less than the national average.
Texarkana has the most expensive gasoline statewide, at $3.42 a gallon. Amarillo again has the least expensive in the latest survey, at $3.18 per gallon.
AAA says a drop in the demand for gasoline nationwide has prompted refiners to cut back on production, resulting in rising fuel prices for motorists.
Top Texas Officials Warn Of Power Plant Shortages
The private companies that generate electricity in Texas are not building enough new capacity to meet the state's needs.
Donna Nelson, the chairwoman of the Public Utilities Commission, said that low natural gas prices and difficulty getting financing for new projects are the main culprits. The Texas electricity market encourages competition among private generators.
Making matters worse are last summer's extremely hot summer and the ongoing drought.
The CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Tripp Doggett, said that Texas will not have enough reserve power from 2013 onward, making the possibility of rolling blackout more likely.
Nelson and Doggett told Texas lawmakers Thursday that they are examining how to encourage construction of new power plants by updating market rules. They also said they are encouraging greater conservation.
States, banks reach foreclosure-abuse settlement
Federal officials say the five largest mortgage lenders have reached a $25 billion settlement with 49 states over foreclosure abuses that took place after the housing bubble burst. They will have three years to fulfill the terms of the landmark deal announced Thursday.
The deal also ends a separate investigation into Bank of America and Countrywide for inflating appraisals of loans from 2003 through most of 2009. Bank of America will pay $1 billion to settle that federal probe.
Oklahoma is the lone holdout and will receive no money.
Spring rain unlikely for Texas despite La Nina end
La Nina will soon come to an end -- but don't expect spring showers in drought-stricken Texas.
The Climate Prediction Center announced Thursday that La Nina will dissipate between March and May. It brings less rainfall and warmer-than-normal temperatures, but its departure won't lead to immediate weather changes.
Victor Murphy of the National Weather Service says La Nina conditions are expected to remain in Texas the next several months. That's why forecasts show below-normal rainfall across the state this spring -- usually the wettest months of the year.
He says rain could come this summer and fall. It's not expected to end the severe drought that's plagued the state for more than a year.
But December and January rainfall has eased drought conditions in parts of Texas.