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Roundup: Parking Meter Parks In Downtown Dallas


By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Parts of downtown Dallas will look very different Friday. It's International PARK(ing) Day. Parking meter spaces will be taken over by artists and organizations. They will turn the curbside spaces into dozens of "temporary parks" that will host community events.

Crawford: You'll have street soccer, obviously with short geographical boundaries. Somebody's thinking about doing a book swap. They'll have winter clothing donations for the Bridge. They'll all be different in some form or fashion.

John Crawford, with Downtown Dallas Inc (INK) says 180 cities are part of International PARK(ing) Day. The idea is to call attention to the importance of open space to the quality of life in urban areas. Event participants will primarily use the downtown meter-spaces dedicated to "Valet Parking".

From 11 to 7 today, more than 40 spaces along Main Street, in the Arts District, and Deep Ellum will become mini-parks.


New Dallas Elections Administrator

Dallas County Commissioners have named Toni Pippins-Poole, a veteran employee of the Elections Department, to the top post. She was named "Acting Administrator" when longtime elections chief Bruce Sherbet resigned after being targeted for removal by County Commissioners.

County Judge Clay Jenkins says a nationwide search yielded more than one hundred applicants. He says Pippins-Poole proved herself by running two major elections without complaint.

Critics of Sherbet's ouster say it was politically orchestrated by County Commissioner John Wiley Price and a new Democratic majority on the Court. Pippins-Poole has been a longtime ally of Price. County Judge Jenkins has denied politics played a role.

Voting map trial in Texas goes at least 1 more day

Closing arguments will last at least one more day in a federal trial to determine whether new redistricting maps in Texas violate federal law by diluting the voting power of minorities.

Minority groups arguing that new election lines hurt Hispanics and fail to recognize their surge in population wrapped up closing arguments Thursday.

The three-judge panel hearing the case adjourned until Friday, when the state will make its closing statement. The court isn't expected to issue a ruling for weeks.

Texas received four new seats in the U.S. House following the last census population count, more than any state.

The new map was passed by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature last summer.

The Texas attorney general's office said the map wasn't drawn with prejudice and preserves the voting power of minorities.

Last of fire-weary Texans get all-clear to go home

Officials say the last of thousands of Central Texas residents evacuated from devastating wildfires have been allowed to return to their homes.

Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald said Thursday the 34,000-acre fire was about 75 percent contained. The fire has been burning since Sept. 3 and has destroyed nearly 1,600 homes. Officials said a boil-water notice has been lifted for the area about 25 miles east of Austin.

County emergency management coordinator Mike Fisher said there was still one person whose whereabouts were unknown. He says friends told officials the man might have traveled to Arizona several weeks ago.

Spokeswoman April Saginor told The Associated Press the weather outlook for the next few days is encouraging across Texas, with the possibility of rain.

More aid coming to those dealing with wildfires

Federal and state officials say more government aid will flow to those fighting Texas' wildfires as well as residents whose homes were destroyed by the blazes.

The Texas Forest Service said Thursday that grants totaling $27 million will be expedited for use by volunteer firefighters under the state's Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program.

The agency said another $5 million will be made available to pay for equipment and other expenses.

The money was requested by Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. It will be distributed to departments hardest hit by this year's fires.

Wildfires have charred thousands of homes and millions of acres in Texas since late last year.

Fort Worth: Cheapest Gas

Gas prices across Texas are down four cents from last week.

The AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch shows the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.44. That's 18 cents less than the national average.

Gas in Dallas is down SIX cents to $3.40 a gallon. Fort Worth prices dropped the same to $3.39 - the least expensive in the state.

Identity Thief Stole From Military

A Dallas judge has sentenced a California man to more than six years in prison for stealing the ID's and credit card numbers of members of the military. 42 year old Rene Quimby pleaded guilty to stealing 16 thousand identities from the Army Air Force Exchange Service in Dallas.

Investigators say Quimby used file-sharing programs to search for and download victims' computer files containing personal data.

Court documents say he used the stolen ID's and credit card numbers to buy computers, cameras, washing machines and dryers from the AAFES website. He then sold them and pocketed the money. Quimby's also been ordered to repay the Army Air Force Exchange Service more than 200 thousand dollars.

Texas shoplifter gets life in prison

A man has been sentenced to life in prison for shoplifting and knocking down a Fort Worth store worker who later died.

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office says William Kennedy was sentenced Wednesday after being convicted of aggravated robbery.

While fleeing a Walmart after stealing a television last year, the 38-year-old knocked down a worker who hit his head.

Bruce Florence died nine days later in a hospital. The 56-year-old Florence suffered from hepatitis and had been waiting for a liver transplant.

Tarrant County prosecutors told jurors that Kennedy had nine prior convictions, including ones for theft, drugs and burglary. After the trial, prosecutor Nelda Cacciotti said she hopes all shoplifters get the message that thefts may have long-term consequences.