May 4th West Texas News Round Up
Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.
Deal To Takeover EISD School Changes
The agreement between Texas Tech and Ector Independent School District was rejected by the state. The plan would've allowed the University to take over the struggling Ecotor Middle School and create an open-enrollment charter school.
However, a new agreement with the Ector Success Academy Network is now pending approval by the Texas Education Agency. Laura Dennis, of the Odessa American tells us, the ESAN non-profit is the same group of people behind that were behind Texas Tech plan.
"We don't have a lot of information on the why," Dennis says of the reasons behind TEA's disproval of the Tech agreement.
EISD is one of six districts that has submitted requests to the TEA to create a "turnaround partnership", which Dennis says allow for the creation of an open-enrollment charter school with institutions like universities or non-profits. It remains unclear why the plan with Tech was axed.
McDannald Ranch Fire
By late Thursday evening, fire officials said McDannald Fire was now an estimated 18,892 acres and is 23 percent contained at this time.
The acreage represents the footprint of the fire and not the size of the active blaze.
“That’s the total affected area of the fire,” says Beauvais. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that that amount of acreage is actually burning.”
The total acreage is a reassessment from Thursday’s total, which were estimated to be at 22,000 acres.
"It's fire season," says Robert Halperin with the Big Bend Sentinel. "It's what happens here in West Texas. Seven years ago it was the Rock House fire that burned over 300,000 acres."
"We're at the mercy of Mother Nature," says Halpern.
Ector Theater Future Unclear
The Ector Theater in downtown Odessa was set for a makeover, but in the last year the price to renovate the space has doubled to $10 million -- a cost that's giving the City Council some pause.
"Well [the City Council] talked about a couple of options: Going ahead to find a way to pay for it, scale back the project or tear down the building," says Dennis.
The venue is historic and is part of a larger effort to revitalize the downtown corridor. "We have a hotel and downtown convention center being built right now, and the Ector Theater is one of the corners of that new project.
The theater is included in part of the redevelopment plan, Dennis says. "So it seems to me the City can't really renege on doing that when there's been investment into redeveloping the downtown center."