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C-130’s To Stay In Fort Worth For Now

Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios
U.S. Air Force

The eight Texas National Guard C-130 cargo planes will stay in Fort Worth at least until fiscal year 2014. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to keep the planes at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station for the time being.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says it’s an “important step in preserving the strategic deployment of the C-130’s” at the Joint Reserve Base.

And she says the committee vote will give Texas time to work with the Department of Defense, which has plans to move the planes to Montana.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Judge Orders Farmers Branch To Change Elections

Farmers Branch has 60 days to change the way it elects city council members.

Dallas federal judge Sidney Fitzwater has ruled the current at-large election system provides Hispanics “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” Judge Fitzwater says that is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Hispanics make up 45% of the population. The Farmers Branch City Council is all white and all male.

Council members will discuss the ruling at their regular meeting next week.

Thursday night, at a special meeting, they were to discuss the long legal battle to preserve their ordinance prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. A legal challenge and series of unsuccessful appeals have cost the city nearly five million dollars in attorneys’ fees.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Parking Problems At Dallas County Courthouse

Dallas County residents who have jury duty at the Frank Crowley Courthouse may have trouble finding a parking place for the next week or so.

The multi-story parking garage across Riverfront Blvd from the courthouse is closed because of structural problems.

That will put additional pressure on the garage closest to the courthouse and the surface lot across Commerce Street. County officials say anyone with court business should take the bus, get a ride, or arrive early to get one of the available parking spaces.

Work to “shore up” the garage is expected to take about a week.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Modano To Enter Hall Of Fame In Dallas Ceremony

Former Dallas Stars team captain Mike Modano will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in ceremonies to be held in Dallas.

The National Hockey League, on Thursday, announced the ceremonies for the 2012 Hall of Fame will be October 15th --on the ice -- at the Plaza of the Americas downtown. It is the first time Texas will host the US Hockey Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and dinner.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Heat Wave Challenges Electric Grid

ERCOT, the electrical grid operator for most of Texas, asked consumers yesterday to take it easy between 3 and 7pm. Consumers were asked to turn off all unnecessary lights and avoid using electrical appliances in order to reduce demand on the grid as temperatures reached 105 or more, and air conditioners ran full blast across the state.

The current load on the system has exceeded yesterday’s forecast peak by about 100 megawatts.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Gas prices are steady after 3 weeks of increases

Gasoline prices in Texas are holding steady after three straight weeks of increases.

The weekly survey from AAA Texas showed Thursday that the average price of regular unleaded fuel stayed at $3.36 in Texas. The national average is $3.53.

The travel agency reported that the Austin-San Marcos area had the most expensive gas at $3.39, while El Paso had the least expensive at $3.15.

AAA officials say gas prices should remain flat through Labor Day and could ease somewhat after the summer driving season ends.


2 rides closing next month at Six Flags Over Texas

Six Flags Over Texas will be closing two longtime rides as summer winds down.

A statement Thursday from the Arlington amusement park says the Texas Chute Out and Flashback will be open through Labor Day. Spokeswoman Sharon Parker declined to elaborate on the pending closure or say whether any new rides are planned.

The Texas Chute Out opened in 1976 and was modeled after the old parachute drop at Coney Island. Park officials estimate more than 29 million people have tried the ride.

Flashback, which opened in 1989, is a boomerang-style steel coaster with a corkscrew-spiraled layout that flips riders. An estimated 17 million people have ridden Flashback.

Six Flags Over Texas is operated by Six Flags Entertainment Corp.


Farmers in Louisiana, Texas, join RiceTec lawsuit

Rice farmers in Louisiana and Texas have filed papers to join an Arkansas lawsuit that accuses RiceTec Inc. of providing hybrid seed that produced inferior rice and didn't live up to promised yields.

Court papers filed in Greene County Circuit Court show that 11 farmers in Louisiana and seven in Texas have joined the suit. The law firm representing the farmers said Thursday that a total of 51 growers are now suing the Texas-based company.

RiceTec denies that its products are defective and vows to defend itself in court.

The farmers claim in their lawsuit that RiceTec falsely represented the quality of its hybrid rice. The farmers say the hybrid doesn't mill as well as traditional long-grain rice, which has hurt farmers' ability to export their products.


30-year-old death row case ends with plea deal

One of Texas' longest-serving death row inmates has avoided execution for a slaying more than three decades ago with a sentencing agreement that makes him eligible for parole in 12 years.

Delma Banks arrived on death row in 1980 for stealing the car and fatally shooting a teenager six months earlier near Texarkana in far northeast Texas.

Banks long argued his trial for killing 16-year-old Wayne Whitehead was unfair, contending prosecutors withheld information that a witness during his punishment trial was a paid police informant.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld 53-year-old Banks' conviction but agreed he should have a new punishment hearing.

The Texarkana Gazette reports the plea agreement was reached Wednesday.

In 2003, Banks got within 10 minutes of his scheduled execution before the Supreme Court stopped it.