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Bring Back Fried Food To School Cafeterias, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Says


Five stories that have North Texas talking: Blue Bell recalls its ice cream; Willie Nelson will sell his own marijuana; UT-Austin has a new president; and more.

Could the deep fryer come back to Texas public schools? A top state official wants to remove the fryer ban. KUT in Austin reports: “Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants to end a decade-old ban on deep fried food in Texas public schools. Miller, who was elected last year, believes local school districts — not the state or federal government — should decide whether schools serve fried foods. He says the ban on deep fat fryers goes against his philosophy at the Department of Agriculture. … The repeal of the ban of deep fat fryers is one of six proposed changes to the Texas School Nutrition Policy that Miller submitted last month. He also wants to remove restrictions on the sale of carbonated beverages. … Some nutrition experts think the commissioner is setting a bad example when it comes to making sure students are eating healthy.” Read more here. [KUT]

  • Blue Bell Creameries is recalling all of its products on the market. The news comes after two samplings of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeriosis. Blue Bell's chief executive Paul Kruse said in a statement Monday night that the company "can't say with certainty" how the bacteria was introduced to the manufacturing line. The company last month issued its first recall after ice cream contaminated with listeriosis was linked to three deaths at a Kansas hospital. Five others in Kansas and Texas were sickened with the disease. Read more here. [Associated Press]

  • Music legend Willie Nelson is jumping into the movement to commercialize marijuana. He plans to roll out his own brand of cannabis that he intends to make "the best on the market." The singer-songwriter announced in a statement Monday that Willie's Reserve will be grown and sold -in Colorado and Washington, two states where recreational use of the drug is legal. A release explaining Willie's Reserve says it reflects Nelson's appreciation for "the many varieties and range of the plant's qualities." The release says the 81-year-old Nelson will collaborate with master growers to define standards for the strain. Nelson is a longtime supporter of marijuana for personal use and has spoken of its benefits for hemp production. He's also pushed for the end of laws criminalizing use of the drug. [Associated Press]

  • UT-Austin has a new president. The Texas Tribune reports:“After more than three weeks as the sole finalist for the job, Gregory Fenves has been named the next president of the University of Texas at Austin. And this time, the current executive vice president and provost has been elevated without any dissent. The vote to hire him was 8-0 by the UT System Board of Regents. Regent Wallace Hall abstained from voting. That means two regents, Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich, changed their minds from the 6-3 vote on March 26 that named Fenves sole finalist. Hall was also a ‘no’ vote on that day. Fenves said after Monday morning’s vote that he was ‘deeply honored’ to receive the job. … Fenves, 58, will take over on June 3 following the June 2 departure of current president Bill Powers. His pay has not been finalized, university officials said, but his base salary is expected to be $750,000, plus deferred compensation and benefits.” [Texas Tribune]

  • In North Texas, the grackles are everywhere. But downtown Fort Worth has managed to get rid of them – at least for now. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “Grackles, black birds that roost in large flocks, had been hanging out in downtown Fort Worth, where they made a mess on cars and sidewalks. Downtown Fort Worth Inc. uses a private company, Texas Bird Services, to encourage the birds to leave and now only a few stragglers remain, said Matt Beard, the district’s director of the public improvement. Company employees shine lasers at the birds to disrupt their homing mechanism and, during the worst of the invasions, the company used trained Harris hawks, who prey on the grackles, to try to get the large flocks to move out of the central city. … Beard said that although most of the birds have left downtown, Texas Bird Services continues to use lasers to move any dawdlers along. The city also uses noisy blasts from a propane cannon to try to scare the birds away.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Photo: Kondor83/

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.