Worst West Nile Season May Be Peaking in North Texas | KERA News

Worst West Nile Season May Be Peaking in North Texas

The Centers For Disease Control is now officially calling 2012 the worst year in Texas for the West Nile virus.

Dr. Lyle Petersen says a fourth of all Texas cases were officially reported just last week. But he says the situation may have peaked in North Texas.

“In those areas that used aerial application of insecticides, there was a substantial reduction in mosquito populations that carry West Nile virus,” he said. “In the areas that did not receive aerial spraying, the number of mosquitoes actually went up.”

Peterson says this year’s record-setting heat wave is a player in promoting the outbreak. At the end of the season, the CDC and health officials will look deeply into why Dallas County netted so many cases.

As of Wednesday, 326 human cases of West Nile virus were reported in Dallas County, and 13 of those ended in death.

CDC West Nile Activity By County

Lyndsay Knecht, KERA News

2 hurt in crash at Fort Worth's Spinks Airport

Emergency officials say two people have suffered burns in the fiery crash of a twin-engine plane after takeoff from a North Texas airport.

Fort Worth spokesman Bill Begley says the crash happened around 10 a.m. Wednesday on the south side of Spinks Airport. The city-operated airport is located 13 miles south of downtown Fort Worth. The Cessna ended up in a wooded area.

Officials say both victims were airlifted to a hospital. Their names and details on their conditions weren't immediately available.

Federal investigators will help determine what caused the crash. The National Weather Service says conditions were clear with temperatures in the mid-80s at the time of the accident.

The plane's tail number indicates the aircraft is owned by an individual from nearby Burleson.


Man to die for spree that killed 5 loses appeal

A Dallas man set for execution later this month for a shooting rampage that killed five people during the robbery of a Dallas-area car wash has lost an appeal at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Robert Wayne Harris is facing lethal injection Sept. 20. He was convicted of two of the five killings at the Mi-T-Fine Car Wash in Irving in March 2000 days after he was fired from his job there.

The appeals court Wednesday refused an appeal that raised questions about jury selection at his trial in September 2000. Harris' lawyers can still take appeals to the federal courts.

A day after he was arrested for the car wash shootings, Harris led police to the decomposing body of a woman who had been missing about four months.


Texan accused in pipeline case faces mental exam

A North Texas man described by his lawyers as "delusional" faces a mental examination amid allegations he tried to bomb a pipeline.

A federal judge in Sherman on Tuesday ordered the psychiatric evaluation of Anson Chiof Plano.

Documents filed by the defense describe Chi as having a "delusional mindset" that prevents him from understanding the legal proceedings. Prosecutors did not object to the psychiatric evaluation.

Chi has been charged with possession of an unregistered firearm or explosive device in a June 18 incident that left him burned. A bomb allegedly made by Chi exploded on a natural gas regulator in Plano. The device went off prematurely and caused little damage.

Chi, who remains in custody without bond, has another court hearing Jan. 7.


Air Force base training head out amid sex scandal

The head of training at Lackland Air Force Base has stepped down and is headed to the Pentagon amid a sex scandal involving instructors and trainees.

The San Antonio Express News reports Wednesday that Air Force Col. Eric Axelbank handed command of the 37th Training Wing to Col. Mark Camerer in a ceremony closed to the media.

The Air Force had previously announced Axelbank's departure and said it was a normal change of command. But it comes as the Air Force implements new training guidelines.

The base's top commander, Col. Glenn Palmer, was ousted last month.

Military prosecutors have investigated over a dozen Lackland instructors and charged six with crimes ranging from rape to adultery.

Lackland is where every new American airman reports for eight weeks of basic training.


Bankruptcy judge throws out AMR pilots' contract

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane is throwing out the union contract of American Airlines' pilots as part of the company's restructuring.

A key part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the ruling clears the way for the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline to dramatically cut costs and quicken its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The airline has successfully renegotiated contracts with all its other labor unions.


Bedford man gets 80 years for 9th DWI conviction

A North Texas man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison for his ninth driving while intoxicated conviction.

A jury in Fort Worth sentenced 50-year-old Miguel Medrano in the 2010 case.

Prosecutors say Medrano had been drinking at a restaurant while watching the Super Bowl. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving when police witnessed his car driving over a curb in a parking lot.

Records show Medrano had six drunken driving convictions in Tarrant County, one in Tom Green County and one in Collin County. He was convicted last Thursday of a ninth DWI charge and sentenced the following day.


Nearly One In Five Texans Hungry

New figures from the US Department of Agriculture show more than 18 percent of Texas households went hungry or were at risk of hunger during the last two years.

Texas Food Bank Network CEO Celia Cole says that’s the 3rd highest “food insecurity” rate in the nation.

“A rising economy does not lift all boats,” said Cole. “And in this case, low income people who are struggling to afford food, who have lost their jobs or experienced a drop in earnings, the improvements, the gains we’re seeing overall in the economy are not reaching them.”

Cole says food banks across Texas continue to see record demand. And she calls on Congress to reject cuts to the food stamp program that are in the farm bill under consideration. She says those cuts would drop more than a quarter-million Texans from the food stamp program.     

September is national Hunger Action Month.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Three Now Charged In Dallas Fatal Accident

Three people are now under arrest and charged in the deaths of two women in a fiery car crash in Oak Cliff August 21st.

Dallas County Sheriff’s investigators say two cars were racing on I-35 between Illinois and Saner when one of them slammed into the victims’ vehicle. It burst into flames. The two occupants died.

Deputies have arrested the drivers of the racing cars and a passenger in one of them. One driver was arrested last month.  The other two were picked up this morning. All three are charged with manslaughter. 

Detectives still don’t know who the victims are.  They’re waiting on DNA analysis to identify the women.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas Man Joins East Texas Pipeline Protest

A Dallas man is one of three people who chained themselves to heavy equipment being used to clear trees for the Keystone XL pipeline in East Texas.

Contractors discovered the protest Wednesday morning, and called-off work for the day.

The Hopkins County Sheriff was said to be negotiating with the protesters, including 54 year old Gary Stuard of Dallas.

At tarsandsblockade.org, Stuard says it's not right that a multinational company can seize people’s property to build a controversial and damaging pipeline.

Last week, seven so-called blockaders were arrested outside Livingston, Texas as they tried to prevent delivery of pipe segments to a Keystone XL construction site.

The TransCanada pipeline will carry heavy tar sands slurry to refiners on the Texas Gulf.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Irving Police Seek Help In Hit And Run

Irving Police are asking for help in a fatal hit and run case.

Investigators say it happened over the weekend on Valley View Lane, near Northgate.

Officers found 52-year-old Timothy Niewolak of Irving with severe injuries lying 15 feet off the roadway.  Investigators say evidence shows he was hit from behind by a Ford F-150 pickup.  The driver did not stop. 

Police are asking witnesses or auto-body repair shops to contact them. The truck would have damage to the passenger side headlight and rear view mirror area.  

Police say Niewolak was on his way to work when he was hit and killed.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Fire Disrupts Classes At Elementary School

No school for the rest of the week at Holiday Heights Elementary in North Richland Hills.  Officials say an electrical fire in a custodian’s closet this morning knocked out power to the school.

Birdville ISD officials say they are working on a plan to resume school next week.

No one was injured in the fire.  

BJ Austin, KERA News