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Texas Dance Halls Are Dying, Preservation Group Says

Peter Durand
The Gruene Dance Hall is thriving, but many are not in Texas, a preservation group says.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas dance halls are fading away; Texas Health Resources responds to the Nina Pham lawsuit; is Tex-Mex dying in Texas?; and more.

Are Texas dance halls fading away? The Associated Press reports: A preservation group says old Texas dance halls that for years served as important social centers in rural areas of the state are decaying and closing, with comparatively few still operating. Patrick Sparks with Texas Dance Hall Preservation says the halls are culturally significant and the state loses part of its heritage as they close. He says from 1870 into the 1920s hundreds of the halls were built, many in German, Polish and other immigrant communities. The halls were initially built for rifle clubs, agricultural societies or other groups. Sparks says about 400 of the buildings still stand but many are unused. (About 1,000 halls sprung up around Texas in the 1800s.) Only a few dozen are used at least monthly. A push has been underway to save some of the older buildings. [Associated Press]

  • Texas Health Resources submitted a response to the lawsuit filed by Nina Pham, the nurse who is suing after contracting Ebola while caring for a patient. The Dallas Morning News reports: “THR ‘generally denies the allegations’ by Pham. The company said it was not negligent and no one violated Pham’s privacy. THR’s filing also said that because Pham contracted the disease while working for the hospital as an ICU nurse, the remedy should be a worker’s compensation claim.” THR spokesman Wendell Watson said in a statement: “The facts show that Texas Health Resources and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas acted responsibly to protect their employees. System and hospital administration actively sought and utilized the most up-to-date guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and also coordinated with leading experts at Emory University Hospital to determine and provide the best possible care for Ebola patients. We respected Ms. Pham’s privacy and acted only with her consent.” Pham was one of two Presbyterian nurses who contracted Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola and died last fall. [The Dallas Morning News]

  • How did the University of Texas get Shaka Smart to be its basketball coach? The Washington Post explains: “For one, Texas is swimming in cash as one of the few schools that actually makes money off its athletic programs. Because it pulls in profits annually, the school is able to spend vast sums on its sports teams, like the basketball practice facility that includes one full-court and one half-court practice area with seven basket stations, a locker room with a players’ lounge, an instructional film theater, a 4,100-square foot strength and conditioning area, an athletic training and hydrotherapy area, an academic resource and activity center, and a coaches’ lounge and locker room.” Read more here. [The Washington Post via Texas Tribune]

  • Wichita Falls' use of its direct potable reuse system for water to combat a drought has been extended for another year by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Wichita Falls Times Record News reports that the city recently received notice that its new UV barrier had met all requirements for renewal. The city has been using the direct potable system, which introduces purified, recycled water into the potable water supply distribution system downstream of a water treatment plant or into the raw water supply immediately upstream of a water supply plant, to help bolster low water supplies due to severe drought in the city. The ultraviolet barrier works as a part of the system. The commission also told the city that it must install the UV barrier at Cypress Water Treatment Plant. [Wichita Falls Times Record News via Associated Press]

  • What’s happening to Tex-Mex in Texas? On Texas Monthly’s website, John Nova Lomax recently wrote that it’s getting “harder and harder to find the authentic stuff with each passing year.” He continues: “Here’s the dirty little secret we can all admit to now: in most cases, old-school Tex-Mex was, and is, objectively bad food. It’s bland by modern standards, overly filling, heartburn-inducing, and coronary-breeding. In the big cities of modern Texas, it’s so easy to find authentic Mexican meals that are cheaper, tastier, and healthier, all at the same time.” [Texas Monthly – h/t Kristen Taylor with KERA]

Photo: Peter Durand/Flickr

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.