James Dunn comes hurtling out of the shade of the tree-laced AT&T Plaza downtown, holding a cell phone that just ran out of batteries and a folder full of looseleaf paper. The 59-year-old has been fielding calls from hundreds of homeless across the city and taking down notes for how to make substantive changes to their situations.
An experiment in a new way of managing the bloated system has been unfolding in North Texas. In what has been dubbed Foster Care Redesign, Tarrant County-based nonprofit ACH Child and Family Services has partnered with DFPS to implement reforms in managing foster children in seven counties (Tarrant, Palo Pinto, Parker, Johnson, Hood, Somervell and Erath).
This isn’t the first time the city has created some sort of coalition saying it's getting serious about fighting long-term obstacles facing Dallas' homeless citizens.
Two 16-year-old girls walk through the doors of Midland Park Mall into a gust of air conditioning -- a relief from the heat of summer. Mackenzie Butts has light red hair pulled into a low bun, skinny jeans and an oversized plaid shirt. Her blue eyes are rimmed by black eyeliner.
BIG SPRING -- In 1849, U.S. Army Capt. Randolph B. Marcy was commissioned by the United States government to find a southern stagecoach route that could one day be part of the development of a rail line across the southwest plains. Marcy had heard rumors of a spring in far west Texas and, as he journeyed from Santa Fe, New Mexico, through El Paso and on to Fort Smith, Arkansas, Marcy asked his Comanche guides to take him there. They arrived at a healthily flowing spring in what is now Howard County. "This big spring ...
Eighty percent of the foster children in Region 9 - which includes Midland and Odessa - are sent more than 50 miles away because of the lack of local foster homes, according to Child Protective Services data.
SWEETWATER -- "You headed to the rattlesnake roundup?" asked the man serving breakfast tacos at a Stripes about 12 miles outside of Sweetwater.
Today marks the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that sparked the two longest wars in American history, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Midlander Richard Vernon, 31, remembers a particular Father’s Day in Afghanistan. It was either in his first or second of three deployments, ‘07 to ‘08 or ‘09-’10. He’s pretty sure it was his second, but he can’t quite remember. The tours melt together.
In early summer of 2013, Glasscock County had 43 rigs drilling compared to 28 in Midland County...an average number for Midland, but exceptionally high total for Glasscock, according to data collected by the Reporter-Telegram. By January of this year, Glasscock County had only one active rig, when oil had settled at a 13-year low of under $27 a barrel. Midland remained stable at 30. Like many of the smaller West Texas counties, both the boom and the bust hit Glasscock County harder than bigger cities with more industry diversification. Still, Glasscock was one of the luckier ones, particularly due to the strength of agriculture.
In 1979, when she was just 13-years-old, Marlena Kam along with her five younger sisters and three brothers arrived in Midland with their mother. They were fleeing the Killing Fields of Cambodia, where more than a million Cambodians were murdered in an act of genocide by the Khmer Rouge regime during the late 1970s.
Some walked for two hours; some walked for 10 hours. Some shivered in the cold winds in Mexico City; others sweated under a blazing sun in Juarez. All made the pilgrimage for one reason: to see Pope Francis.
Wilson has watched four oil busts come and go, and this downturn is more like the others than different, he thinks. "In the '80s, many of our businesses hadn't seen a bust before, and they got in trouble in a hurry," Wilson said. "This time, for a whole lot of our businesses, this is not their first rodeo." Still, Permian Basin towns are struggling with low oil prices and oilfield activity at a fraction of what it was two years ago.
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration was a "day of remembrance, cultural awareness," but also was a time to reflect on where we are in achieving King's dream.
Stray cats are a common sight to many Midlanders, and dead cats in the roads are probably even more common. Lack of affordable spay and neuter options in the city contributes greatly to this problem, say local shelter directors.
Midland ranks among the top 15 metropolitan areas in the United States with the widest income inequality, according to Census data compiled between 2009 and 2013.
When Travis Baur moved to Midland he was looking for a fresh start. He had decided to move out of his mother's house in the Dallas area and move in with his father and attend Midland Freshman High School. The last thing he expected was to become homeless.
Stories of continuing the family legacy in the military tend to go down the male line. Sons join after their fathers, uncles or grandfathers have served. But when Midlander Stephanie Harper, whose father and grandfather had served in the U.S. Air Force, joined just out of high school, she started a new trend in her family: a line of female veterans.
James Schoonover doesn't look like your typical Midlander. That’s because he is wearing tzitzit and a kippah, traditional garb worn by Orthodox Jewish men. And there are few Orthodox Jews in the Midland-Odessa area.
The smell of simmering beef and vegetables fills the Koinonia room at First Presbyterian Church. So does the lyrical sound of multiple languages, punctuated with laughter. Spanish, Chinese, English and more can be heard throughout the room. This is a typical monthly meeting of Basin Bridges International Women's Group -- Permian Basin women who hail from all corners of the world.
....Many veterans returning home experience this — feeling unneeded when they’re back home, feeling like something drastic has changed with a place they thought they were supposed to know. Or feeling they have changed too much for this place. But with the support of his wife, church community, family and the leadership at the Midland Police Department, Dominguez readjusted to life back home. Though his wife tells him he remains “hyper-vigilant,” Dominguez feels his experience as a combat veteran has made him a better police officer.
The Odessa-based temple, which serves Midland, Odessa and surrounding areas, was founded after World War II in 1946. Before that, when oil was discovered in the 1920s, people, including a handful of Jews, flocked to these flat lands, but the Permian Basin's Jewish community was initially slow to grow.
At the end of July in 1910, a genocide occurred in East Texas. A white mob went door-to-door in the town of Slocum, killing African-Americans. At that time Slocum was a self-sustaining Black community, with African-Americans owning businesses and land-all in all, doing quite well for themselves. he reasons for the white mobs’ attack on Slocum are unclear, said author E.R. Bills, who wrote the book detailing the murders, “The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas.” But was it forgotten or covered up? One leads to the other in mainstream America -- i.e. White America -- said Bills. Bills himself is white and was born and raised in Texas. He now lives in Fort Worth. "I grew up here and I can tell you that the forgetfulness in terms of history here in Texas, it's like another form of entitlement that Whites have," said Bills in a phone interview. "I don't know if it was so much forgetfulness, as sweeping it under the rug so to speak. To address it would have raised issues of legitimacy in terms of property acquisition, ownership, stuff like that."
It's cool inside, but if it weren't the three girls at dance practice -- Kamila, Kayla and Catalina -- probably wouldn't notice the heat. They're concentrating hard, watching their form in the mirror and following the steps their teacher, Andrea Hernandez Gonzales, is calling out. The Spanish flamenco class is a new offering in the Midland-Odessa area, instructor Gonzales said. The Hispanic Cultural Center of Midland introduced the class in November. This class will expand HCCM's dance program, which until now has consisted of three ballet folklorico classes.
Due to a chance meeting between an El Paso-based artist and a Midland educator in the sparsely populated town of Valentine, an art workshop and exhibit that showcases aspects of Mexican culture is coming to town.
Some people hold a tennis racquet with one hand, others with two, but 13-year-old Vanessa Rodriguez plays tennis with no hands, a fact she once boasted to a group of middle school boys while waiting for her match. They didn't know what to say, but Vanessa's used to that.
The Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse provides numerous services, many of which are aimed at children and teenagers struggling with the pangs of growing up, the influences of their peers and the world around them. But what about the families of those who may be struggling with drug use or gang pressure? One of CADA's premier programs for parents of troubled children is the Fighting Back Parent Program.
The Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse not only provides much-needed programs for those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, but also seeks to create a supportive environment for at-risk children with its Fighting Back Mentor Program. "Kids grow up in this neighborhood with 10 people in a one-bedroom apartment," said Juliana Lee, the mentor program coordinator. "No one looks out for them and if they leave no one notices. So, if we give them one person who does notice, one person who will ask them what they were doing, that's what matters."
With a slight nervousness, a group of youngsters filed into the nearly empty courtroom and sat down in the jury box. Parents, guardians and mentors quietly took their seats in the audience, a safe distance back from the proceedings. An adult strode to the front and soberly addressed the youths. "Tonight, you are the law," he said to a few giggles as smiles began to spread slowly across the young faces. The introduction marked the beginning of a Teen Court mock trial designed to help youths in Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse programs understand the workings of the law and the criminal justice system.