Texas Digest: Landowners getting letters about border wall


SOUTH TEXAS

More landowners get letters about wall

More property owners along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas say they’ve received notices from the federal government asking to review their land, which could be used for border wall construction.

KENS-TV reported that residents in the town of Escobares, including Mayor Noel Escobar, received letters from the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection a few weeks ago to get their consent to survey their land.

“I walk out the back door, and what I’m going to see is a 30-foot fence,” Escobar said.

Rio Grande City school board President Daniel Garcia said the district got a letter in May about property being considered for “tactical infrastructure, such as a border wall.”

The school board last month approved a request from Customs and Border Protection to visit district property for survey and site assessment. Garcia said had he known it was meant for the border wall, he would have voted against the request.

Roma resident Felix Rodriguez said he was visited by a government employee surveying his land earlier this year, offering $300 for a portion of his 500-square-foot property. He wants at least $1,500.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who represents the area, said federal officials told him more than 200 such requests have been made in Starr and Hidalgo counties.

DALLAS

5 officers slain in 2016 ambush remembered

Flags were lowered to half-staff and law enforcement badges from across the country were fastened to a tree outside police headquarters Saturday to mark the two-year anniversary of an attack that left five officers dead.

The date of the police ambush, July 7, 2016, was the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11 attacks. An Army veteran fatally shot four police officers and one transit officer before authorities killed him using a robot-delivered bomb.

The Dallas Morning News reported that nearly 200 people gathered for a ceremony Friday to honor the fallen officers, along with another killed in the line of duty this year. Police Chief U. Renee Hall said department personnel faced adversity but became the “beacon of courage and public service” to law enforcement officers.

EL PASO

Officer pulling gun on kids prompts review

A police officer’s actions are being reviewed after he was captured on video pointing his gun at a group of children during an arrest.

The El Paso Times reported that the unidentified officer has been placed on desk duty while officials investigate whether he violated Police Department policies.

Video of the Thursday incident, posted on Facebook, shows the officer pulling out and briefly pointing his handgun at a group of at least six boys who had been yelling at him during an arrest.

Deputy City Manager Dionne Mack said Saturday that no complaints had been filed against officers involved in the altercation.

Officials declined to provide details about the department’s policies on officers pulling out their handguns or batons during incidents.

NORTH TEXAS

Confederate group replaces stolen markers

A North Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has replaced historical markers of two Confederate soldiers that had been stolen from a graveyard.

The Greenville Herald-Banner reported that the new markers were for Benjamin Martin and Lt. Alexander Cameron.

Martin was a Civil War veteran who later became the first mayor of Greenville, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.

Cameron was the Hunt County surveyor and county clerk before and after the Civil War.

Craig Smith, commander of the local Lt. Alexander Cameron Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Saturday that the group is raising money to replace other stolen historical markers in the area.

Since 2015, 110 Confederate monuments have been removed nationwide, according to a study last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

HOUSTON

Famed operating rooms to close

Some operating rooms where pioneering heart procedures were done in the era of famed surgeon Michael DeBakey will close this summer.

Houston Methodist Hospital will end use of those operating rooms after nearly 50 years as one of the historic spots at Texas Medical Center, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

Methodist’s Fonden-Brown operating rooms will shut down in August as the hospital’s Heart Center moves into the Paula and Joseph C. “Rusty” Walter III Tower. The new tower will feature 366 patient beds and 18 high-tech operating rooms.

DeBakey died in 2008 at age 99.

The Fonden-Brown ORs were the locus of numerous breakthroughs in heart care, according to the newspaper, including the world’s first coronary artery bypass; the first successful autotransplant for cardiac malignancy; the first implantation of the MicroMed DeBakey Ventricular Assist Device; the nation’s first percutaneous implantation of a left ventricular assist device; the first repair of a large aneurysm of the aortic arch; and the world’s first multiorgan transplant that included a heart, lung and two kidneys from one donor.

COURTS

Experts cost $500,000 in abortion law challenges

The Texas attorney general’s office has spent $500,000 to defend the state’s recent abortion restrictions with expert court testimony that has mostly been given little or no weight by judges.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the attorney general’s office has paid 21 expert witnesses to testify in legal challenges to a string of abortion laws and regulations enacted since 2013.

In dismissing the testimony of some of the state’s experts, judges said they lacked medical or scientific credentials or were simply expressing personal opinions.

Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Attorney General Ken Paxton, said the attorney general’s office picks “an array of highly qualified and esteemed experts — some with pro-choice views.”



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