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Jury Awards $3 Million Verdict To North Texas Family In Fracking Lawsuit

Paul Moseley/Star-Telegram archive

Five stories that have North Texas talking: A family gets $3 million in a fracking verdict; a dozen cattle were killed on a highway near downtown Fort Worth; a jazz ensemble performs Thursday night; and more.

A Dallas County jury has awarded a Wise County family $3 million after finding that fracking caused health and property damages. KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports: The verdict against the Plano energy company may be the country’s first in a fracking trial. Attorneys for Robert and Lisa Parr and their daughter say the family’s problems began in 2009. Aruba Petroleum had begun drilling the first of 22 natural gas wells near the Parr’s ranch outside Decatur. The company used hydraulic fracking, a process that pumps water and chemicals deep into the shale to crack the rock and release the gas. Robert Parr told jurors that after the fracking began the family had to stop drinking their well water. They experienced migraine headaches, rashes, nausea and nosebleeds. Livestock and pets became ill. Aruba Petroleum issued a statement saying the verdict was not consistent with the evidence and the company will be filing motions to have the verdict reconsidered. 

  • The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved more than $46 million to redevelop the old Statler Hilton, the downtown hotel where Elvis and other rock stars once stayed. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao reports that the developer, Centurion American, hopes to build a mix of residential units, hotel rooms, and restaurants and retail space, along with a small movie theater. The project is estimated to cost more than $175 million. The site is in council member Philip Kingston’s district. “It also is the last piece of the puzzle on Main Street Garden,” he said. Mayor pro-tem Tennell Atkins, who went to the hotel for his prom in 1974, says it’s about time. “It’s been an eyesore to the city of Dallas, so it’s great to have something on that side of town, right next to the Farmer’s Market,” he said. Centurion expects to break ground by the end of the year.

  • A North Texas woman talked with NPR about her father’s deportation – and her own fears of being deported. The Obama administration is reviewing its deportation policies in an effort to conduct enforcement more humanely, according to the White House. NPR featuredGraca Martinez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 2 months old. Her parents were undocumented. Her father was deported in 2008 when she says he failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign in Carrollton. She says she hasn’t seen him since. “My sister graduates in May and this will be the second college graduation he misses,” Martinez told NPR. “My sister is about to get married, and he can’t walk down the aisle with him.” She and her mom are undocumented. Martinez says the threat of deportation is “very real.” Listen to the story here.

  • At least a dozen cattle were killed near downtown Fort Worth early Wednesday. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that traffic was at a standstill all morning. A cattle truck crashed on a northbound U.S. 287 ramp to Interstate 35W, just south of downtown. Traffic was being rerouted for several hours. Fort Worth police told the newspaper that the truck was going too fast on the ramp. More than 80 head of cattle were in the truck – at least 12 of them were killed.

  • New York based jazz ensemble AfroHORN is performing a free public concert at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Latino Cultural Center. AfroHORN has been in Dallas for a residency with the South Dallas Cultural Center. The group has been conducting student workshops with Richland College jazz students, as well as lectures and demonstrations around the city. There was also a jazz jam. The Latino Cultural Center is at 2600 Live Oak St. Thursday’s concert takes place during Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month.

(Photo Credit:Paul Moseley/Star-Telegram archive)

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.