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Dallas Officials Say Abandoned Calls – Not "Ghost Calls" – Caused 911 Wait Times

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Abandoned calls are behind 911 wait times; Texas Republican says there’s no need for bathroom bill; Buc-ee’s sues Nebraska-based Bucky’s for trying to expand into Texas; and more.

Dallas officials said abandoned calls are actually responsible for the long wait times for 911 callers, and not "ghost" calls, as previously reported.

The discovery comes after two days of investigation by T-Mobile. The mobile service provider has been at the center of the issue, as news outlets have reported that numerous emergency calls made by T-Mobile users had been blocked by the 911 system.

Abandoned calls occur when a caller hangs up before reaching a 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher has to call back to try to clarify whether the caller has an actual emergency – a process which takes time and resources away from assisting other callers.

Until Thursday, Dallas city leaders and T-Mobile had suspected that ghost calls, which happen when a person’s phone makes repeated calls on its own, were responsible for the backlog.

The city said extra staffers will work in the 911 call center to ease wait times, and that T-Mobile will also dispatch a team to address technological issues. [NBC 5]

  • A top Republican in the Texas House said he doesn't see any reason for the so-called “bathroom bill” to become law. Rep. Byron Cook chairs the House Committee on State Affairs, which is slated to take up Senate Bill 6 next in the state Legislature. The Corsicana Republican said there’s never been a need for the legislation in the past and there’s no evidence of a problem now. Senate Bill 6, which has been commonly called the “bathroom bill,” would prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms in government buildings, public schools and universities that match their gender identity. The bill breezed through the Senate on Wednesday and will advance to a public hearing in Cook's committee. Cook's comments echo that of Speaker Joe Straus, who has said the bill would not be a legislative priority and warned that it could hurt Texas business. [Dallas Morning News]

  • Texas' favorite rest stop is fighting to keep a competitor from coming to town. Buc-ee's Ltd. filed a lawsuit in federal court this week against the parent company of Bucky's gas stations and convenience stores. The lawsuit claims the Omaha-based Buck's Inc. is obtaining licenses, permits and property in Texas under the name Bucky's, which could cause confusion. The lawsuit also alleges trademark infringement. There are at least six Bucky's convenience stores expected to pop up within the next year, including locations in Houston and Nassau Bay. [Houston Chronicle]

  • Texas is now in possession of a rare Stephen F. Austin map of the state. Thomas B. and Marsha Brown Taylor, of Seabrook, donated the piece of history to the Texas General Land Office. Historians say the map provides possibly the best view of what Texas looked like in 1848 because it was the first map made by someone in Texas. The discovery of the map changes what is known about the cartography of Austin. [KPRC Houston]

  • Jason Mehl’s degree is in environmental science, so his art skills are mostly self-taught. It's no surprise, then, his sculptures reflect natural shapes, the biomorphic twists and turns of wood or bones and the erosion-smooth curves of rocks. Mehl has had solo shows in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Korea, and he's the new director of the artist's residency at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas. As part of Art&Seek’s Artist Spotlight series, Jerome Weeks talks to the artist, who has a habit of disappearing into the mountains. [Art&Seek]
Former KERA staffer Stephanie Kuo is an award-winning radio journalist who worked as a reporter and administrative producer at KERA, overseeing and coordinating editorial content reports and logistics for the Texas Station Collaborative – a statewide news consortium including KERA, KUT in Austin, Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.