Five stories that have North Texas talking: WHO is worried about Zika virus; Texas’ rent is higher than the U.S. average; UT Arlington’s stadium is eco-friendly; and more.
A record number of people wrongly convicted of crimes were exonerated last year — 149. Texas led the nation in overall exonerations with 54, and 42 of those wrongful convictions were in Harris County drug cases alone, The Texas Tribune reported.
New York state placed as a distant second with just 17 exonerations, according to the National Registry of Exonerations' annual report. Nationally, 105 exonerations were in homicide and drug cases.
The Tribune reported: “The Texas exonerations — defined as when someone is cleared of a crime or set free by a government official or body — were for crimes committed as far back as 2004, the report found. Texas counties with exonerations were:
- Bexar County – 1 sexual assault case, 1 assault case
- Cherokee County – 1 sex offender registration case
- Galveston County – 2 drug possession or sale cases
- Harris County – 42 drug possession or sale cases, 1 murder case
- Hidalgo County – 1 burglary/unlawful entry case
- Lavaca County – 1 robbery case
- Montgomery County – 2 drug possession or sale cases
- Nueces County – 1 murder case
- Sabine County – 1 sex offender registration case
The registry has recorded more than 1,700 exonerations since 1989. [Texas Tribune]
- Developments with the Zika virus in Texas this week have The World Health Organization worried. Speaking in Geneva Wednesday, WHO officials still believe “nearly all cases are caused by transmission by mosquitoes,” The Associated Press reported. However, one of two cases confirmed in Dallas was transmitted through sexual intercourse. KERA News reported: “Investigators have been exploring the possibility the virus also can be spread through sex. It was found in one man's semen in Tahiti, and there was report of a Colorado researcher who caught the virus overseas and apparently spread it to his wife back home in 2008.” What we know about Zika. [AP, KERA News]
- Dallas’ Bishop Arts District will receive millions in city subsidy for largest development in a decade. North Oak Cliff residents approved the $57-million project last fall, and city council did the same Monday morning. The Dallas Morning News reported: “City staff says about half that money will go toward, among other things, clearing and remediating the existing buildings along Zang and Davis, widening the sidewalks, planting trees, creating that open plaza and dealing with utility issues. The other half — approximately $5,846,400 — will act as an affordable housing grant, unless the city hears otherwise from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in coming weeks.” Read more. [Dallas Morning News]
- Texas rent surpasses the national average. Over the past year, the state’s rent average has increased 3.5 percent compared to the 3.3 percent increase nationwide, according to Apartment List’s February report. Other highlights from the report: A two-bedroom apartment in Dallas averaged $1,560, which is 30 percent higher than the statewide average of $1,200. And while no Texas city’s rent increased more than 10 percent over the past year, Austin had the biggest jump with rent climbing 7.8 percent over January 2015. Explore the full report.
- UT Arlington’s College Park Center was ranked No. 1 for Greenest College Basketball Arenas in the U.S. In a ranking from LawnStarter, College Park Center was praised for its environmentally friendly features and practices, “ including energy-efficient glazed windows, a roof that reduces the building’s solar load, a low-use water system and native landscaping.” The 7,000-seat, 218,000-square-foot, $78-million-dollar facility was designed by HKS Architects and finished in 2012, and it currently houses WBNA’s Dallas Wings in addition to UTA sports teams. Read more on what makes College Park Center green.