FrontBurner

A Daily Conversation About Dallas

State Fair of Texas

State Fair Photo of the Day: 9/24, Welcome Back Y’all

| 1 day ago

Alert FrontBurnervians will recall a time when the word “COVID” was unintelligible gobbledygook and a drive-thru State Fair of Texas, which is what we saw last year, would have been unthinkable. In those years, the photographer Jason Janik would head down to the fair each day with his camera and find an interesting scene, which would end up here.

We’re bringing that back for 2021. And I can’t think of a better way to start it than with a half dozen Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. We’ll see you here throughout the fair. And, as always, head here for more coverage of the State Fair.

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Media

North Texas News Outlets, Universities Align To Cover Affordable Housing in Dallas

| 2 days ago

At first it was just coincidence — or perhaps luck — that Dallas journalists Keri Mitchell and Tom Huang started calling up other local journalists in the summer of 2019. They both wanted to brainstorm how Dallas news outlets could work better together. 

But Huang of The Dallas Morning News and Mitchell of Dallas Free Press quickly caught wind of each other’s outreach. Fast forward a few years, meetings, and a pandemic later, and now Huang, Mitchell, and their news organizations are joining forces with several other media outlets, as well as local universities, non-media organizations, and the Solutions Journalism Network, to form the Dallas Media Collaborative. 

The nonprofit network of organizations will collaborate on reporting, share content, and host events, all to highlight and vet solutions to address affordable housing challenges in the Dallas area. The key partners on the project say it’s a topic none of them has been able to consistently address on their own — but it’s a vital, systemic issue demanding greater response.

“The traditional business model [for local news] is not working, I don’t think, very well for civic journalism,” said Mitchell, who founded nonprofit Dallas Free Press to amplify voices in Dallas’ disinvested neighborhoods. “This seems like the only way to really have a big impact in some areas where we need to have a big impact as local journalists.”

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State Fair of Texas

A Guide to Extreme Couponing at the State Fair of Texas

| 2 days ago

Big Tex clips a mean coupon. And so do we. We’re about to help you save money on tickets to the fair so you can spend it on the important State Fair of Texas attractions: food, beer, and dumb.

Before we get started, remember, the cheapest beer at the fair is $3 and you should be able to find that on the midway, and in Cotton Bowl Plaza. And take the DART or an Uber to avoid all that $20 parking.

Now, let’s find your perfect ticket discount. The State Fair kicks off today:

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Local News

Leading Off (9/24/21)

| 2 days ago

Wings Fall To Sky. The punchy young squad fell 81-64 to Chicago in the single-elimination first round playoff game, but had fought back to pull within three after a 15-point halftime deficit. The Sky were too much—and too familiar with the moment—for the Wings to handle. Dallas failed to follow screeners and off-ball stunts, leading to open layups and other gimmes near the basket. But they came close and kept the game tight for much of the second half, until Chicago pulled away in the fourth and didn’t look back. The takeaway: we have ourselves a team, but they’re not quite there yet.

CDC OK’s Booster Shot for Older Americans. The federal government announced new eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots: All Americans 65 and older, plus those who are between 50 and 64 with an underlying health condition. Front-line workers who are 18 and up are also now eligible for a booster. This is for the Pfizer vaccine, not Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

North Texas Giving Day Brings In $66 Million. That’s $8 million more than the previous record, which was set last year during an emergency round to help during the pandemic. About 100,000 people donated to participating nonprofits in the Dallas area.

Feds Release Report on Texas Grid Failure. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that equipment that had not been winterized froze, slowing generation, while the natural gas supply failed and existing resources were not properly managed.

The State Fair Is Back. Expect temperatures in the mid-80s and low-90s this weekend. 

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Local News

Dallas County’s Old Red Courthouse Will Soon Be a Courthouse Again

| 3 days ago

For the first time in years, the Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas will again be used as a courthouse. And the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History, which has occupied the space since 2007, will be moving.

“Dispersed is not the right word,” museum director Evelyn Montgomery says. “And the most important thing is that the museum’s collection and all items are safe under our care and insured. But instead of being all in one building, we will have the opportunity to spread our mission and our exhibits out over probably seven county buildings: three of them in the West End and then four satellite government centers where they would like to have some history displays.”

Plans to make the historic 1892 courthouse a courthouse again have been gestating for several years. Worries about relatively anemic attendance at a museum dedicated to local history—and what it costs Dallas County—have been around for even longer. As have concerns over how to make a big 19th century courthouse with its airy spaces and high ceilings function as office space for attorneys and county employees.

But now it’s official: Following renovations that are scheduled for early next year, the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals will move in, vacating its current digs at the George Allen Courthouse across the street.

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Philanthropy & Nonprofits

North Texas Giving Day Launches With a Focus on Equity

| 3 days ago

In 2020, North Texas nonprofits faced unprecedented demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders. There were impossibly long lines at food banks, a surge of domestic violence incidents, and an influx of Dallasites needing services at both homeless shelters and on the streets. Nonprofits couldn’t afford to wait for North Texas Giving Day, our region’s preeminent fundraising event that takes place each September. Instead, NTGD collaborated with United Way Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys to launch an emergency day of donations on May 5, 2020, in addition to the regularly scheduled North Texas Giving Day in September. In all, last year was NTGD’s most successful yet: $58.8 million was raised through 106,000 donors, benefiting over 3,200 local nonprofits.

In the year since 2020’s North Texas Giving Day, most nonprofits have settled into a rhythm and adjusted to serving our community during a pandemic, but the demands for their services remain high.

The 2021 iteration of North Texas Giving Day kicked off this morning, and a record 3,367 local organizations are asking for the public’s support. The 18-hour initiative is led by the Communities Foundation of Texas and connects individual donors to causes they care about, from grassroots movements to huge operations. Early giving opened on September 1, and by September 22, $16 million in donations had already come in. Many larger nonprofits have had funds pouring in for weeks; North Texas Food Bank hit $500,000, and Children’s Medical Center Foundation reached $300,000. (Check out the leaderboard here.) It’s already on track to shatter the previous record; by 10:30 a.m., participating nonprofits had raised a collective $30 million.

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Heroes

Carl Cornelius, R.I.P.

| 3 days ago

One of the weirdest nights of my life was spent in Carl’s Corner, at a truck stop that harbored a topless bar. Carl Cornelius was the proprietor. I can’t tell you everything that happened that night in 1995. In fact, I’m not going to tell you anything that happened that night. But upon hearing the news this morning that Cornelius died Tuesday, I immediately thought of that night. And the Tango Frogs. And Willie Nelson.

Mike Shropshire broke the news to me. He profiled Cornelius for D Magazine back in 2006. We deemed the story one of the 40 best we’ve ever published. Find your way to the story through this post from 2014, in which Jason Heid (now with Texas Monthly) updated Mike’s story with a short interview with Cornelius, who was then serving as the mayor of Carl’s Corner.

I’ll update this post if I can get some details about the manner of his passing. Just know for now that we lost a true Texas legend this week.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (9/23/21)

| 3 days ago

It’s North Texas Giving Day. About $21 million had been raised for 2,900 nonprofits as of about 7:45 a.m.

Supply Chain Challenges As State Fair of Texas Readies To Open Friday. There’s been a run on gigantic cowboy hats and Big Tex will have to show off his bald spot. Kidding. A little State Fair humor. Having fun here first thing in the morning. But, seriously, some food and game vendors are having a hard time with things like paper plates, beanbags, and gloves.

Dallas Children’s Aquarium Reopening. New and improved, open tomorrow.

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Local News

The Dallas Police Department Will Get the Overtime Money It Wants

| 3 days ago

Between 2011 and 2019, the Dallas Police Department shrunk by about 444 officers, a more than 12 percent reduction in the size of the city’s police force. In that same time period, spending on police overtime increased by 676 percent. 

It’s a number that helps explain why, in the $4.35 billion city budget being adopted by the Dallas City Council on Wednesday, it was $10 million in police overtime spending that proved the most controversial.

But it’s not a number that tells the full story, Police Chief Eddie Garcia told council members. Garcia, who took over as the city’s top cop earlier this year, rattled off some numbers of his own: since 2015, a 30 percent increase in police salaries, a 10 percent increase in high-priority 911 calls, a 30 percent increase in violent crime.

He said his officers need all the $28 million in overtime the department is budgeting for, including $10 million that a slim majority of the City Council voted two weeks ago to put into a special reserve fund. To get at that money, police officials would have to come to the council and explain their overtime spending. 

Except that on Wednesday, the City Council—this time in a 12-3 vote—decided to put that $10 million back into the main overtime account for the police department. Police officials won’t have to ask for it.

What changed in the last two weeks? Political pressure. A different understanding of a new state law that effectively threatens cities that reduce their police budgets. Also, more numbers. Sorry about all the numbers.

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Coronavirus

How Many Children in Your Kid’s Class (Probably) Have COVID-19?

| 3 days ago

Among a group of 25 people with low immunity, there is a 44 percent chance that one of those individuals has COVID-19 in Dallas County. In Tarrant County, that number is 50 percent. Balloon that room’s occupancy to 100 people and there is a 90 percent chance at least one person has COVID-19 in Dallas County and 93 percent in Tarrant County.

For parents thinking about their unvaccinated children spending time in 25-person classes and cafeterias with over 100, these numbers from a UT Southwestern community briefing are cause for worry. Every cough, sniffle, or fever is now treated with the utmost caution, and sending them to school is also putting them in harm’s way. While COVID-19 doesn’t impact children at the rates it does adults, the delta variant has pushed children’s hospitals to capacity throughout the summer.

Masking and testing can help, though many districts are locked in legal limbo with the state government regarding whether they can require it for their students and staff. UTSW modeling says that after about three months in school with low immunity levels without masking or testing, 91 percent of the students will be infected with the virus. With testing, that number goes down to 79 percent, and masking will mean just 49 percent will be infected in three months. If both are present, just 22 percent of children will be infected by that time. In schools where most students are under 12, there are low levels of immunity. A school with high levels of immunity, masking, and testing can keep infections as low as 13 percent, according to the UTSW models.

The good news? The vaccines are inching closer to being available to younger patients. The Pfizer and Moderna versions have been given Emergency Use Approval for children as young as 12, and there are trials underway for patients aged 5 to 11, 2 to 5, and six months to 2. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will soon receive full approval from the FDA for patients as young as 18, and there are trials underway for patients as young as 12. 

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Animals

These Puppies in a Basket Will Make Your Heart Melt

| 4 days ago

I’ll pull the curtain back a bit. We’ve all got quotas around here for FrontBurner posts. It can be oppressive. If we don’t hit our numbers, Christine Allison makes us scrape gum off sidewalks in Highland Park. The hard part about that is finding gum on sidewalks in Highland Park. Also, we have to do wall sits. The good thing about that is Zac has killer quads. I wish he’d wear shorts more often.

Where was I? Oh yeah! Operation Kindness sent over some pics of some puppies, along with the following words: “Operation Kindness took in Mary Lou, a pregnant bulldog, to care for while waiting for the birth of her puppies. The leading lifesaving shelter in North Texas decided to give her a maternity photoshoot to pamper her, alongside medicated baths to spoil her rotten. Then, soon after she gave birth, it made total sense to do a newborn photoshoot to show off her adorable puppies.”

Share this post! Here are some pics of Mary Lou and her litter.

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