Latest Texas news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. CDT

October 09, 2018 - 12:00 am

BORDER WALL-TEXAS

DHS to waive laws for new border gates in South Texas

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it's waiving environmental laws so it can build gates between sections of border barriers in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley.

The waiver posted online Tuesday lists 11 locations where the government plans to install gates.

The U.S. government already has 654 miles (1,053 kilometers) of fencing on the southwest border. In far South Texas, segments of fencing stop and start along the levee built next to the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also plans to start constructing more border barriers to fulfill President Donald Trump's signature pledge to build a wall.

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said in March that the agency wanted to start installing the gates in October. CBP declined Tuesday to confirm that is still the agency's plan.

WEST TEXAS FLOODING-THE LATEST

The Latest: Boat crews search for 4 missing in Texas floods

DALLAS (AP) — An official says swift-water boats are patrolling a 35-mile stretch of river for four people who went missing after floodwaters overran a recreational vehicle park in a small West Texas city.

Texas Game Warden Rachel Kellner said Tuesday afternoon that the boats were patrolling a stretch downstream from the RV park located on the South Llano River in Junction, a city about 140 miles (225 kilometers) west of Austin.

She said the boats would be slowly going down the river, as crews hoped to hear anyone who might be in a tree or on a riverbank.

Kellner said an unmanned drone was also on its way to be used in the search.

DEPUTY SHOT-HOSTAGES

Texas sheriff's deputy shot while responding to disturbance

SUGAR LAND, Texas (AP) — A gunman has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Houston-area home after shooting a sheriff's deputy as the gunman's family was being held inside.

The deputy had responded to the home early Tuesday near Sugar Land, southwest of Houston, after a woman called authorities saying an armed man was threatening her life.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls says the deputy was shot in the leg and taken to a hospital with wounds not considered life-threatening.

The gunman, identified as 41-year-old Serik Olivares, fired at other deputies who responded to the scene.

The woman who called, who shared custody with Olivares of their 2-year-old son, later was able to leave the home along with the child and Olivares' parents.

A tactical team that entered the home found Olivares dead inside.

COAL COMPANY BANKRUPTCY

One of oldest US coal companies files for bankruptcy

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — One of the oldest coal companies in the U.S. has filed for bankruptcy to deal with steep debt amid declining world demand.

Englewood, Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston.

Company officials say in a statement the filing is part of a restructuring agreement with an unnamed group of lenders.

Company officials say operations won't be interrupted and there are no expected staff reductions.

Court filings show the company has $770 million in assets and $1.4 billion in debt.

Westmoreland was incorporated in 1854 in Pennsylvania. It has coal mines in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas, and a coal-fired power plant in North Carolina.

Its mines in Canada are not part of the bankruptcy filing.

AP-US-LAW-REVIEW-LAWSUITS

Harvard, NYU law reviews sued over alleged discrimination

BOSTON (AP) — A group in Texas says legal journals at Harvard University and New York University illegally give preference to racial minorities and women when selecting editors and articles.

The group, called Faculty, Alumni and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences, filed a federal lawsuit against The Harvard Law Review on Saturday and a separate suit against The NYU Law Review on Sunday.

It says the student-run journals previously picked editors and articles based on merit alone but now consider race and sex.

The lawsuits say the practice amounts to discrimination and demands that it be stopped.

The group's website says its membership is confidential. The group and the law journals did not immediately provide comment.

Harvard is separately being sued by a group that says its admissions policies discriminate against Asian-Americans.

ELECTIONS 2018-TEXAS AD

Filmmaker Richard Linklater directs anti-Ted Cruz web ad

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Filmmaker Richard Linklater is the latest celebrity wading into the tight U.S. Senate race in Texas with a social media ad attacking Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

The "Boyhood" and "Dazed and Confused" director made a 30-second spot for a political action committee backed by Cruz opponents. It doesn't mention Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who has campaigned on rejecting outside groups' money but can't control their actions.

The ad revives a character from Linklater's 2011 film "Bernie," who mocks Cruz for embracing President Donald Trump after the billionaire insulted his family during the 2016 presidential campaign.

During a debate in September, Cruz said he put aside personal feelings after the election to do his job.

Country music legend Willie Nelson held a concert for O'Rourke last month in Austin.

SCHOOL DISTRICT-FINANCIAL CRISIS

Texas school district says it's facing financial emergency

(Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com)

CROSBY, Texas (AP) — A Houston-area school district has declared that it's facing an official financial emergency, becoming the 16th district since 2012 to inform the state it's facing such a crisis.

Trustees for Crosby Independent School District adopted a resolution Monday that established the financial emergency and the need to cut staff.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the district of 6,000 students needs to cut at least $5.5 million through layoffs.

Administrators learned the depth of the problem in June when a new chief financial officer found "cash-flow issues" relating in part to construction spending.

Declarations of a financial crisis have been rare since 2011, when the state created tougher standards for districts to qualify.

They must meet one of five criteria, including losing 20 percent of a district's fund balance.

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CONFEDERATE SPECIALTY PLATE-TEXAS

Texas commissioner backs Confederate group's license plate

(Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is backing a Confederate group's latest attempt to sell specialty license plates.

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has proposed a license plate that features a rebel soldier carrying a Texas regiment's special flag at a Civil War battle. The tag won't include the Confederate battle flag.

Miller says he sees nothing wrong with group's push for the specialty tag.

Democratic opponent Kim Olson questioned the move. Her campaign manager Kolby Monnig says candidates should be focusing on the state's hungry children and struggling farmers, not license plates.

Olson will face Miller in the Nov. 6 election.

A Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman says the plate's design may be considered in December.

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AP-US-DEADLY-TOWN-HOUSE-COLLAPSE

1 killed, 5 hurt when unfinished Dallas town house collapses

DALLAS (AP) — A construction worker is dead and five co-workers are hospitalized with injuries after a three-story town house they were building in Dallas collapsed during a thunderstorm.

The collapse happened about 4 p.m. Monday about a mile (1.6 kilometers) west of the city's downtown.

Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans says 20 to 30 people were working in and around the wood-frame structure when it collapsed, trapping six workers.

One worker died at the scene, while five others were taken to hospitals. Evans says their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation. However, the National Weather Service reported wind gusts exceeding 60 mph (97 kph) and a rainfall rate of 4 inches (101 millimeters) per hour in the vicinity.

ARKANSAS-CORRUPTION-SHELTON

Ex-consultant reports to prison in Arkansas corruption case

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A former Arkansas political consultant has reported to a federal prison in Texas for his role in a corruption case.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows 39-year-old Randell Shelton Jr. is being held in a low security facility in Beaumont.

Shelton's attorney, Shelly Koehler, told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Shelton reported Monday to begin a six-year sentence.

Shelton and former Ecclesia College President Oren Paris were convicted of funneling cash bribes to then-state Sen. Jon Woods in exchange for Woods' directing more than $715,000 in state grants to Ecclesia.

Paris received a three-year sentence while Woods was convicted of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

All three men are appealing the convictions.

Woods reported to prison last month and Paris is to report Wednesday.

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