Five stories that have North Texas talking: Denton officials will meet with the company that makes Sriracha; a UNT art project about breastfeeding has gone viral; the Dallas Zoo has a new otter pup; and more.
Denton will soon have a date with Sriracha. Denton officials announced they’ll be traveling to Irwindale, California, to meet with leaders of Huy Fong Foods, which makes the popular hot sauce. The meeting is scheduled for Monday. The news comes after company officials met earlier this week with a separate delegation of Texas representatives, including state Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas County Republican who hopes to lure the company to Texas. But Denton leaders are proud to say they were the first city in Texas to express interest in Sriracha. In October, Denton City Council member Kevin Roden, dubbed the “Sriracha Savior,” invited the company to relocate to avoid litigation. Officials in Irwindale say the Huy Fong operation is a nuisance after residents complained about flaming hot odors burning their throats and eyes. The company’s CEO says he has no plans to move his plant out of California, but is open to expanding to Texas if it can prove it can grow chili peppers as hot as the hybrid jalapenos he gets. [KERA News/Associated Press]
- With just hours before Texas was set to put Robert James Campbell to death, a federal appeals court halted the execution. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao has more details: Maurie Levin, one of Campbell’s attorneys, argues he is ineligible for the death penalty because he has an IQ of 69. “He’s a person with mental retardation, and the state hid evidence that supported that claim,” Levin said. Attorneys also were challenging Texas’ plan to use a lethal injection drug without revealing its source. The Texas Tribune reports: “Campbell [was] convicted in the 1991 capital murder of 20-year-old Houston bank teller, Alexandra Rendon. … Campbell’s execution would have been the first since last month’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma. … Officials in that state, who were using a new lethal cocktail, had trouble finding a vein in which to place the injection needle. Lockett died 43 minutes later, not of the drugs but of a heart attack. That state is delaying future executions until an investigation into the execution is completed.”
- A University of North Texas art project about breastfeeding moms has gone viral. Two students, Johnathan Wenske and Kris Haro, designed the ads for a class project. They feature moms breastfeeding in cramped bathrooms. The effort was featured in the Huffington Post: “The point? To drive home the idea that nursing women, and their babies, deserve better. The students … designed the ads with the goal of drumming up support for HB 1706, a bill in the Texas state legislature that would protect breastfeeding mothers from harassment and discrimination. While they don't currently have the funding and support to produce the ads, they're glad the images are going viral.” Wenske told the Huffington Post: "It means we did our jobs right as art directors in creating a campaign that is getting real responses, and as students, it's been a wonderful feeling.” This week, Adweek gave the effort a shout-out.
- There’s more to the Bernie Tiede story than the movie “Bernie.” That’s according to the granddaughter of Marjorie Nugent. Shanna Nugent wrote an essay for The Texas Tribune: “Before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears Tiede’s appeal, I want to remind Texans that there was a real murder, a real trial, and justice was served, until some of Tiede’s famous friends massaged the judicial system in Panola County. Those involved with setting Tiede free said that without his Hollywood friends, he'd still be in jail. My family thinks that's exactly where he belongs.” Last week, Tiede, a former mortician sentenced to life for killing a rich East Texas widow, was released from prison early. Tiede, 55, was convicted in 1999 for the shooting death of Nugent, who was 81, in Carthage. The case inspired the movie "Bernie." The judge agreed to let Tiede live with filmmaker Richard Linklater, who made the 2012 dark comedy. New evidence showed Tiede was assaulted as a child and had an abusive relationship with Nugent. [Associated Press]
- The Dallas Zoo has a new otter pup. Daphne, an Asian small-clawed otter pup, is the first female single pup in the country to survive longer than 30 days, zoo officials say. She was born Jan. 25, but needed more than 100 days of care because single otter pups usually don’t survive. Her mom is the oldest U.S. zoo otter to ever give birth – she was nearly 13 years old when the pup was born. “The survival rate for single otter pups is extremely poor, possibly due to their mothers’ insufficient milk production and lack of stimulation from littermates,” the zoo says. “Otters typically give birth to three or four pups. Since 2000, only 18 single pups have been born in U.S. zoos, and 76 percent have died.” Here’s video of her parents teaching her to swim for the first time: