TEXAS DIGEST: Officials approve $105M Astrodome renovation plan


HOUSTON

$105M Astrodome renovation plan approved

Officials are going forward with a $105 million redevelopment of the Houston Astrodome that would include raising the ground level two floors to create about 1,400 parking spaces.

Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to give the project final approval.

Officials had approved $10.5 million on the project’s initial design in 2016.

Plans call for the bottom floor of the county-owned Astrodome to be raised for parking so that it can be used for festivals, conferences and commercial uses across more than 550,000 square feet of space.

Parking revenue, hotel occupancy taxes and county general funds will cover the cost.

Opened in 1965, the Astrodome has been vacant for 19 years and closed to all events since 2009. Voters in 2013 rejected a $217 million bond package for renovations.

DALLAS

Funeral held for slain police officer

Mourners sang and prayed to honor a suburban Dallas police officer who was fatally shot while answering a disturbance call.

A funeral was held Tuesday for Richardson police officer David Sherrard. A flag-draped casket was part of the service at Watermark Community Church to honor Sherrard, who was the first Richardson police officer killed in the line of duty.

Police Chief Jimmy Spivey called Sherrard a “true hero.”

Authorities say the 37-year-old officer died Feb. 7 at a hospital hours after he was shot while entering an apartment. Police say another man was found shot dead at the scene.

The suspect, Brandon McCall, eventually surrendered and remains jailed without bond on capital murder charge. Investigators are trying to determine what prompted the disturbance.

HARRIS COUNTY

Paratrooper charged in rape, abduction

A Fort Bragg paratrooper from Texas has been charged in a 2013 sexual assault near Houston in which the naked victim walked to a movie theater for help.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday announced DNA evidence led to the North Carolina arrest of Pvt. 1st Class Levi Austin Goss of Port Neches. He’s charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and aggravated kidnapping.

A 16-year-old girl was walking in Cypress when she was grabbed by a masked man, dragged to a field, raped and left for dead.

Investigators say the February 2013 attack happened three years before Goss, now 24, joined the Army. Fort Bragg is cooperating in the investigation.

Goss on Monday waived extradition from Fayetteville, N.C.

HOUSTON

Surgeons separate conjoined toddlers

Doctors in Houston have successfully separated toddler girls who were born in 2016 conjoined at the chest and abdomen.

A spokeswoman at Texas Children’s Hospital says 13-month-old Anna and Hope Richards were in good condition Tuesday. Lindsey Fox says separation surgery was done Jan. 13 and announced Monday.

Fox says the twins join two brothers and their parents, Jill and Michael Richards of North Texas. Fox declined to provide a hometown or more specifics about the family, as the parents focus on their daughters’ recovery.

Officials say a routine ultrasound revealed the girls were conjoined. The twins were born premature, at just over 35 weeks, on Dec. 29, 2016, at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Their combined weight was 9 pounds, 12 ounces.

Further details weren’t provided on their prognosis.

AMARILLO

Man gets life in drug case

A 39-year-old Panhandle man must serve life in federal prison for what prosecutors say was his involvement in drug trafficking even while in custody.

Prosecutors say Moises Jimenez of Amarillo was sentenced Monday. Jimenez last August was convicted of drug possession and distribution charges, plus a weapons count related to trafficking of cocaine and methamphetamine.

His apartment was searched in early 2015, leading to authorities confiscating drugs, a pistol, about $22,000 and drug trafficking paraphernalia. Prosecutors say Jimenez acknowledged he delivered 50 pounds of methamphetamine less than a week before officers executed the search warrant at his Amarillo home.

Jimenez has remained in custody since his December 2016 arrest. Prosecutors say recorded telephone calls made by Jimenez while he was in jail corroborated his involvement in drug trafficking.



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