The State of Texas: May 15, 2015
Video of the Day
In case you missed it, Governor Greg Abbott touted his barbecue credentials earlier this week in a video by the IJ Review. In it, the governor sits in front of a big plate of goodness and claims he’s been “eating barbecue since I was a kid growing up.” Naturally, his efforts didn’t please everyone. The San Antonio Current strongly disagreed with Abbott’s declaration that “the most important thing about barbecue is sauce. If you don’t have the sauce right, I don’t think it works.”
It’s not exactly Craigslist (or OkCupid), but Granbury resident J.C. Baughman is trying once again to find the perfect woman by advertising for a wife on the back of his pickup truck. His requirements seems fairly reasonable: “No drinker, no tobacco and under 40.” And as the 64-year-old who recognizes that this “might be my last decade,” Baughman just wants to share his little piece of heaven—three acres with goats, chickens, and pigs.
Warning Bell – Regulators are finally stepping up their game with Blue Bell and its apparent inability to keep clean facilities free of listeria. Officials in Texas and Oklahoma announced “a set of testing and other measures that Blue Bell has agreed to take to ensure that its ice cream is safe before it can sell products from plants in those states,” according to the Associated Press. The story seems to indicate some previously loose standards by state inspectors. “Despite minor infractions like a dirty mop bucket, Texas inspectors had given Blue Bell glowing reports in past visits. Only when the FDA responded to the outbreak did federal inspectors note that condensation was dripping into pints of ice cream and sanitation programs were failing.” State health officials also detailed other requirements Blue Bell must meet, all of which sound appropriately strict. “Blue Bell must notify the Texas Department of State Health Services at least two weeks before its intent to start producing ice cream for sale so health officials can conduct a full assessment of the company’s progress and test results,” according to a release obtained by the Dallas Morning News. So what does that mean for the hungry consumer? Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse said it would be “months before sales resume.”
Goodbye Drought? – Rain drops keep fallin’ on our heads … and that’s a great thing! Thanks to the recent downpour in a significant portion of the state, “the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated Thursday that Texas is no longer contending with so-called exceptional drought, the most serious of five levels. In October 2011, 88 percent of the state was in exceptional drought,” according to the Associated Press. There are, however, a few places still suffering. “The drought map this week shows a few regions of “severe” drought remain, such as in the Panhandle, in the area of Wichita Falls and west of Austin in Kerr and Gillespie counties. Much of the spine of Texas extending from the Panhandle south into Central Texas still has either abnormally dry conditions or moderate drought.” Still, let’s look on the
bright wet side of things. “The amount of precipitation may diminish in the summer months but, ‘in the fall and winter we should return to enhanced chances of above-normal rainfall,’” said state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
Mad As A Shark – As sure as the water’s clear, someone was bound to seek justice for all the marine life killed at the Texas State Aquarium. Despite testing, a mislabeled container of chemicals ment to control tank parasites ended up killing about 400 fish at the facility last month (the chemical was actually a toxic substance used in paint, motor fuels and film processing). Now “Local attorney Craig Sico, with the firm Sico White Hoelscher Harris & Braugh, said he filed the civil suit in federal court Thursday on behalf of the aquarium against the chemical distributor, citing neglect and seeking monetary damages that could reach into the millions,” according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. “Aquarium officials are asking for a jury trial, according to documents in the lawsuit filed with Corpus Christi’s U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.” The issue with the chemical distributor doesn’t seem to be isolated as an aquarium in Arizona did their own testing and also found the treatment to contain the deadly toxin. Messy as this ordeal has been—and continues to be—“about a half dozen aquariums in Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Kentucky Florida and Michigan have donated 130 new fish representing more than 30 species, with more on the way.”