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Texas To Hold Hearings On Jail Suicides Following Sandra Bland’s Death

Texas Department of Public Safety
Footage showed Sandra Bland exiting her car during a traffic stop earlier this summer. Bland was found dead in the Waller County jail on July 13, three days after her arrest.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: the state will review jail safety; the State Fair of Texas announces its top new foods; Blue Bell’s comeback; and more.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants a review of jail safety around the state following the death of Sandra Bland in a rural county lockup. Patrick said Tuesday that lawmakers will begin holding hearings next month about suicides in state jails. Texas has seen an average of 25 suicides in county lockups each year since 2012. Bland was found dead in the Waller County jail on July 13, three days after her arrest. Authorities say she hanged herself with a garbage bag, a finding her family has questioned. Democratic Sen. John Whitmire did not say whether Bland's family would be invited to testify to lawmakers. A trooper had pulled over the 28-year-old Illinois woman for failing to signal a lane change. [Associated Press]

  • The State Fair of Texas will feel a little bit like New England this year. That’s because lobster is on the menu. But it will be fried. (But of course.) Fried lobster, alligator, buffalo are among the hot new foods at this year’s state fair. Fair officials announced the finalists Tuesday morning for the 11th annual Big Tex Choice Awards, which honors the best of the best new fair fare. Learn about the hot new foods right here.

  • Blue Bell is continuing its comeback. The Brenham company announced Monday it will start selling its ice cream in selected stores once again. The first batches will be distributed starting Aug. 31 -- and parts of Texas will get the first shipments. Blue Bell will re-enter parts of 15 states in five phases. The first areas to get the ice cream? Brenham, where the company started in 1907, as well as Houston and Austin. Ice cream will also be sent to stores in Alabama (Birmingham and Montgomery), where the ice cream is being produced. North Texas and southern Oklahoma will be next. In April, Blue Bell recalled its products and suspended production because of a listeria outbreak. Ten listeria illnesses were reported, including three deaths in Kansas. Learn more here from KERA News.

  • The Texas agriculture commissioner isn’t apologizing following a controversial picture posted on his campaign Facebook page. The Texas Tribune reports: “Don’t expect Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller to apologize over a social media post that appeared to call for the atomic bombing of ‘the Muslim world’ – despite an outcry from critics. Miller, who is currently on a trade mission to China, did not personally share a controversial photo that appeared on his campaign Facebook account and has since been removed, Todd Smith, the Republican's campaign spokesman, said Monday. The commissioner has no plans to figure out which of his staffers shared the controversial posting, or to apologize, Smith said.” Read more here. [Texas Tribune]

  • A pioneering Houston police officer has died. Edward Thomas, who died last week, was 95. The New York Times reports: “When Edward Thomas joined the Houston Police Department in 1948, he could not report for work through the front door. He could not drive a squad car, eat in the department cafeteria or arrest a white suspect. Walking his beat, he was once disciplined for talking to a white meter maid. Officer Thomas … was the first African-American to build an eminent career with the Houston Police Department, one that endured for 63 years. By the time he retired four years ago, two months shy of his 92nd birthday, he had experienced the full compass of 20th-century race relations.” Read more here. [The New York Times]

The Associated Press contributed to this report.