Texas Standard for March 22, 2022

Tornadoes, damaging winds and hail wreak destruction across Texas. Several state agencies are still responding to storm damage in North and central Texas, and tens of thousands are reported without power – we’ll have the latest on the weather front. And: The head of investigations for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services resigns as questions mount over allegations of sexual exploitation at a shelter in Bastrop. Also: Efforts to secure the return of a Houston native and WNBA star now held in Russia. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardMarch 22, 2022 9:20 am,

The aftermath of tornadoes and hail in Texas  

Springtime in Texas can mean strange weather. Multiple tornadoes touched down in Texas yesterday. That, plus hail throughout parts of the state made for an odd forecast. Just how unusual were last night’s weather events, and what was the impact? Andrew Quigley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service based in New Braunfels, joins us with more.

More details, fallout from investigation of home for trafficked girls

The founder of The Refuge, a Bastrop shelter for girls who are victims of sex trafficking, testified before a Texas House committee Monday. She said nude photos were taken by two trafficked teenage girls at the direction of a staff member; the employee exchanged drugs for the photos, then sold the images online. Amid the growing controversy, Department of Family and Protective Services child care investigations head Justin Lewis resigned yesterday. Robert Garrett, Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News, joins us with an overview.

A new contract for Houston police 

Houston could soon have a new contract with its police union. As Houston Public Media’s Jack Williams reports, city council will hear public comment on the contract today, but the document still hasn’t been formally released to the public.

Weeks after five Midland Christian School officials were arrested, questions still loom

Midland residents are watching and waiting to see what will happen to five officials at a local private school. They were arrested about a month ago for allegedly concealing the sexual assault of a student at Midland Christian School. SInce the arrests, former students have aired their frustrations about campus culture, while others voiced support for the school that’s served Midland students for decades. To get a better picture of the situation, Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden takes us back to a few days before the story broke.

What can be done about the spike in car crashes?

Deadly crashes on Texas roads are all too common. Texas Department of Transportation data shows that 2021 was the second deadliest year on record, with 4,480 roadway fatalities. Only 1981 saw more. Joining us to explain the numbers and how roads can be made safer is Robert Wunderlich, director of the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas A&M Transportation institute.

Descendant of Confederate soldiers says it’s probably time for statues to go

Born and raised in Yoakum, Texas, Kenneth Merian grew up with the stories that came out of his family’s Confederate past. But now he says it’s time for Confederate statues to go, adding that empathy has helped him come to terms with why the statues are a source of trauma for Black Americans. Hear more in this show ID. (This story was originally published/aired on Aug. 21, 2017)

Dallas musician’s otherworldly record will take you on an existential trip

There’s a new music project out of Dallas garnering national attention. Jupiter’s Purse is the debut EP from Mattie Calloway, who goes by MATTIE. The record received a coveted 8.0 rating from Pitchfork, and Bandcamp has gushed over its trippy, alien sound. The Oak Cliff-based musician fuses elements of electronic music, hip hop and ambient to create deep meditations on identity, reality and transcendentalism. KERA’s Miguel Perez offers us this glimpse into the artist’s mind.

New developments in Russia’s imprisonment of WNBA star Brittney Griner

Houston native and WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner remains in Russian custody after being arrested for marijuana, according to the Russian government. Late last week, news broke she would remain in Russian custody until at least May. Family members and U.S. officials have been relatively quiet about Griner’s detention, possibly as not to provoke Vladimir Putin. But it’s also raised concerns not enough attention is being paid to the situation, where Griner’s safety could be in jeopardy as a successful Black, gay woman. Valena Beety with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University joins us with her perspective.

All this, plus the Texas Newsroom’s state roundup and Wells Dunbar with the Talk of Texas. 

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.