Friday, March 31, 2023 Mar 31, 2023
71° F Dallas, TX


A Daily Conversation About Dallas
Local News

Dallas County Is Back!

Tim Rogers
By |
The 1892 Dallas County Courthouse, aka Old Red

The U.S. Census dropped some data yesterday under the headline “Growth in the Nation’s Largest Counties Rebounds in 2022.” We’ve noted here at FrontBurner several times that when people talk about the explosive growth in Dallas, what they really mean is explosive growth in North Texas, specifically in Collin and Denton counties. Dallas County in recent years has actually lost residents. But not anymore!

From the Census report: in many urban counties in the South and West, “many impacts experienced during the pandemic are either reverting to near pre-pandemic levels or making a full recovery. For example, Dallas County, Texas, the eighth most populous county in the U.S. in 2022, lost over 22,000 (-0.8%) people between 2020 and 2021, but between 2021 and 2022 gained nearly 13,000 (0.5%) people—the fastest gains the county has seen since 2017.”

Pow! The fastest gains since 2017! This is good news, people. I’m sitting here refreshing Mayor Eric Johnson’s Twitter feed, waiting for him to say something about Big Dallas Energy. So far, nothing on the new population numbers. But if you want one of his campaign yard signs from four years ago, he can hook you up.


UNT Just Won Its Biggest Sports Championship in 71 Years

Mike Piellucci
By |
Celebrations like this don't happen often in Denton. Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

There is no friendly way to say this, so let’s just rip off the band-aid: UNT isn’t exactly the national standard when it comes to athletics.

The Mean Green are nothing to scoff at, mind you. You’re doing something right any time your athletic director can stroll into a room and deliver an elevator pitch including 16 Division I teams, 130 conference championships, and arguably the baddest defensive lineman to ever play football.

Nevertheless, despite being founded 110 years ago, UNT has all of four national titles to its name. Those championships come in one sport, too: men’s golf, during a colossal four-peat from 1949 through 1952. A hell of a run, and also the sort of thing that’s liable to get people wondering what the roadblock is for literally every other sport in every other moment in time.

So it was a very, very big deal to watch the men’s basketball team win the National Invitation Tournament last night by defeating Alabama-Birmingham in a thriller that came down to the final minute. Here’s the dagger from Conference USA Player of the Year Tylor Perry (yes, you pronounce his name like the writer-director’s):

Local News

Leading Off (3/31/23)

Matt Goodman
By |

The University of North Texas Mean Green Are NIT Champions. CAW with me, please. My alma mater cut the nets down in Las Vegas for the first time in the school’s history, besting the University of Alabama at Birmingham by a score of 68 to 61. The Mean Green cruised by 10 in the first half, and UAB couldn’t match it in the second. Tylor Perry was borderline brilliant in the second half, killing momentum when the Blazers made a run. By the end of it, Coach Grant McCasland became the new coach of Texas Tech and these scrappy young dudes get to leave Vegas accomplishing more than any other UNT men’s basketball team. (Although, beating Purdue in 2021 ruled.)

Rangers Win on Opening Day. Jacob deGrom gave up five runs in his Rangers debut, but the bats came out in the fifth and propelled Texas to a 11-7 win over the Phillies. It’s the first time in just about three years that the Rangers have a winning record. Mike will have more today on StrongSide.

I’m Closing With Weekend Storm Chances Because Very Little Else Is Going On. Monday and Tuesday will be around 80 degrees, and expect about 30 percent to 40 percent storm coverage today and Sunday. A week from now, we’ll get a cold front. Keep an umbrella with you.

A Nebraska-based company has purchased about 35 acres of West Dallas, and a community that fought off a high-rise tower two years ago now finds itself watching warily to see what happens next.

Until recently, West Dallas Investments (helmed by Stuart Fitts, Phil Romano, and Larry “Butch” McGregor) owned this land, which amounts to about 90 properties. WDI was responsible for the Trinity Groves development. The investment group began buying up land in West Dallas in the early 2000s, seeing the potential opportunity streaming in from the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge that now connects the area to downtown. 

“With the Ballpark, Cowboys Stadium, the horse track, DFW and Alliance [airports], common sense just said, in order to expand the city of Dallas’ tax base, you have to expand west,” Fitts told D Magazine in 2013. “So we said, What the hell, we’ll just start buying land out there and we’ll hold it. It’s already at the bottom of the barrel. It had no place to go but up.”

The same article predicted that the three men stood to become even wealthier if their gamble took off. An Urban Land Institute study on Trinity Groves found that when WDI began acquiring land in 2005, they could get it for around $2.50 a square foot. By 2016, it was selling for “over $30 per square foot.” Current listings for where the development sits in the 75212 zip code show lots listed for upwards of $65 a square foot.

This week, the Dallas Morning News reported that Nebraska-based Goldenrod Companies purchased more than half of the 60 acres WDI had amassed.

Mistrial Declared in Murder Trial. Judge Mike Snipes declared a mistrial in a capital murder case Tuesday after lawyers found that Dallas police failed to hand over video evidence. Lacorius Hawkins was on trial for the 2021 fatal shooting of Christion Washington in West Dallas. Camera surveillance footage was among the 212 videos the lead detective didn’t share with lawyers. The detective said he was unsure how the videos weren’t transferred to prosecutors. The issue comes as the department is facing increased scrutiny regarding how it preserves evidence in violent crime cases.

Narcan Approved for Over-The-Counter Use. The Food and Drug Administration approved selling naloxone without a prescription Wednesday, creating a way for the overdose-reducing drug to be sold over the counter. Making the nasal spray more available is seen by many experts as a way to control a national opiate overdose crisis.

Opening Day Weather Report. Rain is possible today around lunch, and then rain and thunderstorms are possible after 2 p.m. This means that Opening Day may be a bit of a soggy walk from the parking lot for Rangers fans, but thanks to that retractable roof, there won’t be any game delays.

UNT NIT Championship Programming Note. You’re going to want to tune in to ESPN2 around 8:40 tonight, when the University of North Texas Mean Green men’s basketball team will take on the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the NIT championship.

Food & Drink

Discover a True Texas Roadhouse and Have the Night of Your Life

Kathy Wise
By |
A pickin’ night at the Gar Hole, in Anna.

Here’s how not to discover the best little roadhouse in Texas: google “Texas roadhouse.” The term was effectively appropriated by the late Kent Taylor, may he rest in peace, the Kentucky native who founded the Texas Roadhouse chain of restaurants that successfully commodified the concept nationwide.

What was previously understood to be a welcoming, no-frills establishment providing passing travelers with food, libations, and musical entertainment—maybe even guest and equine accommodations—instead became synonymous with fried onion blossoms, jalapeño poppers, and “Texas chili” with, bless Taylor’s bluegrass heart, beans.

No, the best way to discover the best little roadhouse in Texas is to hit the actual road. Or, in my case, to stumble across a Facebook tribute to Hondo Crouch on the anniversary of his death written by an East Dallas guy named Claude “Spider” Webb. 

Webb was so inspired by Crouch and the way he turned the former ghost town of Luckenbach into a music and gathering destination that Webb opened his own roadhouse, the Gar Hole, right before the pandemic in a bank once robbed by Bonnie and Clyde in a town once known as Westminster. 

Even more bizarrely, it turns out Webb isn’t the only great storyteller with a spider-related nickname to open a new roadhouse with an old soul in a historic building relatively close to home. There’s also Laura “Spydie” Bush, the proprietor of the Rattlesnake Roadhouse in Walnut Springs. You can read more about both venues—as well as several more good-time gathering places worth the drive—in our March cover feature, which goes online today. (Then, stick around and read about Spidey Webb’s love of Luckenbach and why he brought its energy to North Texas. He wrote an essay about it.)

So ditch the Cactus Blossoms and try a Texas roadhouse less traveled by. I promise: it will make all the difference.


Southlake Done Dirty by Dumb DMN Story

Tim Rogers
By |
Southlake Town Hall

Here is today’s media lesson. Get out your pencils.

The Dallas Morning News today published a story headlined “How Far Can a $100K Salary Stretch? Maybe Not So Far If You Live in Southlake, Survey Says.” When you go googling, you’ll find an even click-ier headline: “Why Affluent Cities Southlake, Bellaire Seem Undesirable.” The second and third paragraphs of the story read as follows:

“The perks of a six-figure salary vary depending on purchasing power, or the ability to buy things, according to deals discovery website [name redacted]. For example, inexpensive [sic] cities such as San Francisco and New York City, a lot of income goes toward paying rent and affording other basic necessities.

“To figure out what cities appeal to people, the real-time coupon site surveyed 3,000 respondents and presented them with this hypothetical: which of America’s 150 most expensive cities would you least like to live in, if earning a salary of $100,000?”

It’s hard to know where to start. I guess, first off, who felt the need to define “purchasing power” as “the ability to buy things,” and why didn’t that person simply use the phrase “cost of living”?

Local News

Leading Off (3/29/23)

Matt Goodman
By |

The Rash of Deleted Evidence Gets Worse. Prosecutors apparently knew that Dallas police had accidentally deleted evidence in homicide cases and allowed those cases to go to trial anyway. Defense attorneys for six clients told the Dallas Morning News that they were not informed of any missing evidence, although prosecutors in one case let the attorney know after securing a life sentence for capital murder.

North Texas Mean Green Advances to NIT Championship. It’s the first time in my alma mater’s history to make it this far, and it came after an absolute defensive suffocation against the curd-fed Wisconsin Badgers. The Mean Green plays a very specific game of muck. Its most effective offense appears stuck in molasses and uses most of the shot clock. But its swarming, help-reliant defense sucks any sort of rhythm out of the opposing team. The Badgers came out running and gunning and grew a 14-point lead, but UNT allowed just 13 points in the second half—and none in the final 9 minutes. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but these never are. That’s the cost of victory. The championship is Thursday.

Carroll ISD School Board Votes to Leave State School Board Association. Carroll ISD, which is under federal investigation for violating its students civil rights, will no longer be a part of the Texas Association of School Boards. The board apparently found it “woke” to follow the TASB’s guidelines that call for districtwide policies that protect transgender students from discrimination and bullying. The association provides vendors and other services to its members. The vote to leave was 5-1.

About a quarter of land in Dallas’ city center is used for parking, a percentage roughly shared by the Texas cities of Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Concrete covers 42 percent of Arlington’s core, while just 17 percent of Austin’s city center is used for parking. The capitol city features the lowest parking percentage of anywhere in the state, according to a map from the Parking Reform Network.

The PRN analyzed parking lots in the densest, most central, and most valuable real estate in 50 cities then compared how a city’s land use measures up to other cities of similar sizes. (In Dallas, the organization stuck to the downtown core.) It then assigned each city a score. The lower the score, the less land a city has devoted to parking compared to the average for a city its size.

Translated: 24 percent might sound good, but Dallas scored a 75, putting it in the upper echelons of municipalities with a ton of parking space in high-demand areas. Arlington, where more than 40 percent of its most dense real estate is devoted to resting vehicles, scored 100. Austin, where less than 20 percent of its city center land is parking, scored a 43.

Local News

Leading Off (3/28/23)

Tim Rogers
By |

Globe Life Field Reveals New Food Options. Opening Day is Thursday. Our Nataly Keomoungkhoun reports that baseball fans will be able to eat a 2-foot-long hamburger and also tacos from a place called Cartel Taco Bar. Have fun, y’all.

Jerry Jones’ Hit With Defamation Suit. Alexandra Davis filed a lawsuit against Jones last year, seeking recognition that she is his daughter. Now she has filed a federal defamation suit against him, claiming he “initiated a deliberate plan” to portray her “as an ‘extortionist’ and a ‘shakedown artist’ whose motivation was money and greed.”

Carroll ISD to Leave Texas Association of School Boards. I’ll just quote from the lede of the Fox 4 story: “The Carroll ISD school board decided to cut ties with the state’s association of school boards over its diversity and inclusion policies. It’s another escalation from a district facing several federal civil rights investigations for discrimination.”

Local News

Watermark South Dallas and Its Neighbors Will Spend More Time Hashing Out Concerns

Bethany Erickson
By |
Watermark Church purchased the former Pearl C. Anderson Learning Center in 2019, intending for it to be both a south Dallas outpost and a community services hub. Google Streetview

Pearl C. Anderson Learning Center was shuttered by Dallas ISD in 2012, sat vacant for seven years, then was sold as surplus property to Watermark Church. 

At the time, the church sought to reassure district trustees that it intended to use the building on Garden Lane, just off Elsie Faye Heggins Street, for worship services and as a place to provide social and medical support for the surrounding community. Even then, the community questioned Watermark’s intentions, wondering if the church was aware of the already present supports in the community that it could collaborate with.

Last fall, the church asked for a zoning change that would allow it to build a mixed-use planned development. A story published in the Dallas Free Press indicated that the community felt the church had not adequately explained why it needed a zoning change. In fact, it submitted plans for the 10-acre space less than two weeks before it held its second community meeting, which was meant to be an opportunity for the church to collaborate with its neighbors.

“It feels like an arranged marriage,” Ken Smith, president of the Revitalize South Dallas Coalition, told the Dallas Free Press. “It seems like we were brought into Watermark South Dallas’ plans.”


The Explosive Story You Won’t See on Grey’s Anatomy

S. Holland Murphy
By |
first reunion after fire
The firefighters’ first reunion in the wellness garden. Courtesy

When I read a recent headline that said Meredith Grey would be leaving Grey’s Anatomy, I was absolutely shocked—I honestly had no idea the show was still on TV. So, maybe I’m off-base here, but if the medical drama formula has remained the same since I watched in the Katherine Heigl heyday, you can count on any given episode to involve insane injuries (at least one a year is rectal, am I right?), mysterious illnesses, and of course, plenty of collegial broom-closet canoodling.

The medical drama I wrote for our March issue only ticks one of those boxes. A gas explosion nearly killed three Dallas firefighters in September 2021. The injuries the three suffered were so horrific, I questioned whether I should even include some details. Firefighter Pauline Perez gave me the green light on one particularly graphic image, saying, “I want people to know how bad it was.”

But the story also includes the kinds of things you will never see in an episode of Grey’s: a realistic portrayal of how a hospital functions during a mass casualty event and a profile of a stand-out nurse who gave the blast survivors a ray of sunshine when they needed it most. The story is online today.

Page Cached: 2023-03-31 16:10:01 on