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Texas Denied Up To $120 Million In Pre-Kindergarten Funding

Stella M. Chávez
Last year, pre-K teacher Misty Hollis worked with students on their writing at Maudrie Walton Elementary in Fort Worth ISD.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: José Feghali, a pianist who won the Van Cliburn competition, has died; Fort Worth fights back against some smelly sewage; a Texas brewhaha; and more.

Texas has fallen short of federal requirements to qualify for up to $120 million in pre-kindergarten funding. That leaves it among 17 states omitted from a list of states approved for federal pre-k grants, the Associated Press reports. The decision by officials of the U.S. Department of Education leaves it to state lawmakers to meet a call from many for improved programs for more Texas children. Federal reviewers graded Texas poorly on such elements of its application as how it would implement its proposals. If approved, Texas could have drawn up to $30 million a year for four years. The state had proposed using grant money for a trial voucher program that drew criticism from education advocates and pro-business groups. [Associated Press]

  • Doctors, nurses and others who fought back against Ebola have been named Time’s Person of the Year for 2014. They include Kent Brantly, the Fort Worth-trained doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia, as well as Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, the two Dallas nurses who became infected with Ebola after treating an Ebola patient.  The magazine announced the news Wednesday. Read more about it here.

  • José Feghali, a pianist and TCU professor who won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in the 1980s, has died. He was 53. KERA's Jerome Weeks reports: "Feghali launched an extensive performing career, appearing with such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony and virtually every major orchestra in the United States. TCU says he appeared in more than 1,000 performances. Feghali was found dead in his Fort Worth bedroom around 5 p.m. Tuesday. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s initial report called the death a suicide. Fort Worth police say they are investigating." Read more here from KERA.

  • Talk about a brewhaha. The Texas Tribune reports: Three Texas breweries filed a lawsuit against the state on Wednesday seeking to overturn a 2013 law they say violates the Texas Constitution by forcing them to give away their territorial distribution rights for free. In their complaint, filed in state district court in Austin, the heads of Live Oak Brewing in Austin, Peticolas Brewing Company in Dallas and Revolver Brewing in Granbury, say that were it not for Senate Bill 639, they would be expanding. Instead, their plans to bring their beer to new markets around the state have been put on hold. In the suit, they accuse the law of "stifling the Texas craft beer renaissance." Read all about it. [Texas Tribune]

  • Fort Worth’s smelly sewage isn’t as pungent. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “The stinky smell from Fort Worth’s ‘sewage sludge,’ which is being recycled as fertilizer on nearby farms, is getting better. … Buster Fichera, assistant director of the city Water Department, said the city is seeing ‘remarkable’ results after adding iron to the sludge, which bonds with another chemical and reduces the smell, which some describe as similar to ‘rotting flesh.’ Adding iron to reduce the smell is in a four-month trial that cost the city $488,000. If the the data continue to show success, Fichera said, the new process will cost $1.5 million a year.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
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.