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East Texas Firefighter Fired After Praising Charleston Church Shooter On Facebook

Darryl Brooks
The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where nine people were shot and killed this month.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Highland Park gets fancy porta-potties; rain causes problems with roads; what a Supreme Court ruling on healthcare could mean for Texas; and more.

An East Texas volunteer firefighter has been fired after writing a post on Facebook saying that the man who shot and killed nine people in a South Carolina church “needs to be praised for the good deed he has done.” Kurtis Cook, a Mabank volunteer firefighter, allegedly posted the comments on a South Carolina newspaper’s Facebook page, KLTV in Tyler reports. Mabank is about an hour southeast of Dallas. Cook’s comments bounced around social media – and the Mabank Fire Department learned about the remarks. The department investigated, saying it took the allegations seriously. On Friday, the department announced on Facebook that Cook had been fired. The department wrote on Facebook: “The Mabank Fire Department does not condone nor promote these type of actions or thoughts. On behalf of all members, the Mabank Fire Department offers our deepest apologies to all that were offended by his actions and comments.” Cook hasn't been talking with Tyler-area media. Here’s more from KETK-TV. And here’s a report from the Tyler Morning Telegraph. [KLTV]

  • Highland Park is cleaning up its portable toilets. The Dallas Morning News reports: “They must be either located out of sight at the back of the property or hidden behind wood screening that shields three sides of the outhouse. The new rules are voluntary, but the city doesn’t expect any issue with compliance. Wooden screens camouflaged potties at construction sites on Armstrong and Douglas avenues … They’re a bit retro, given that early portable restrooms were made of wood and metal. That was in the 1940s during World War II when new military bases were quickly established, according to Portable Sanitation Association International. … Highland Park is not the first place to encourage creative design for public portable toilets. Karleen Kos, executive director of Portable Sanitation Association International, said some companies decorate their portables to blend with the area.” [The Dallas Morning News]

  • The U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on the Affordable Care Act. What will that mean for Texas? Shelley Kofler with Texas Public Radio in San Antonio reports: “Plaintiffs in the case have argued that subsidies which help lower-income people pay for insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act should only be available in states that operate their own insurance markets. Texas is among 34 states that chose to have its residents use the federal government’s exchange rather than set up its own. If the Supreme Court agrees with the plaintiffs, insurance subsidies would disappear for about 830,000 Texans who already receive them. Over 1 million Texans qualify for subsidies.” [Texas Public Radio] 

  • All of the rain falling on North Texas is causing problems with the roads. WFAA-TV reports: “Countless … roads in North Texas have either buckled, given way or washed away, thanks to standing water or floods. Civil engineer Travis Attanasio said we are starting to see what happens when rain saturates our roadways, and it doesn't look good. ‘The road surface is designed to generally be dry,’ he explained. ‘When you introduce water for a long period of time, it can break down some of the pavement.’ And the longer the water stands on roads, Attanasio said, the worse it will get.” [WFAA-TV]

  • Forget all of the important, serious legislation approved in Austin this spring. The Texas Legislature also voted on the official state hat and state crustacean. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:  “During the 84th Legislature, which wrapped up June 1, they made sure that the cowboy hat is the official state hat of Texas, the western honeybee is the official state pollinator of Texas and ‘Lone Star State’ is the official nickname for Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law many of the proposals and [had] until the end of Sunday to sign or veto proposals or they officially become law without his signature.” Dripping Springs is the Wedding Capital of Texas. Jasper is the official Butterfly of Texas. And lawmakers voted the Texas Gulf Shrimp as the official state crustacean of Texas. Read more here. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Photo: Darryl Brooks/

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.