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Permian Basin On The Upswing While Panhandle Struggles

Mose Buchele

As Oil Revenue Rises, Cost Of Living Follows

The fortunes of the oil industry have always written the history of the Permian Basin. And today, nearly three decades after the last boom and bust cycle, Odessa and Midland are definitely in expansion mode. People are flocking to the area--Odessa alone issued 572 permits for new housing in 2012; in a normal year, that number is 50.  Drawn by increasing salaries, a roughneck willing to work can make $100,000 a year. But there is another side of the story of rising oil revenue and that’s the rapidly rising cost-of-living that comes with it.

Betsy Donaldson works in the restaurant business in Odessa, and while she’s glad for the boom times, she fears it won’t last. “It’s nice having a lot of people around,” she says. “It’s nice having new businesses, but it’s tough because I know it’s not forever. It will go away…house values will drop…and they’ll still be paying mortgages that are really, really high for houses they can’t sell.”
Lorne Matalon reports from West Texas Public Radio.

A Plant Closes On The Plains

Just south of the Texas Panhandle, Plainview has been a center for the cattle industry for decades.  But early this month, after more than 40 years in operation, the beef processing plant there shut its doors.  Plant owners blame years of drought and the state’s dwindling cattle supply.  There simply aren’t enough cows to keep the plant running. As KUT’sMoseBuchelereports for StateImpact Texas, the closure could be a window into things to come for the Texas Plains. 


“Now that people are leaving here, you’re going to see a lot of houses for rent. Instead of a growing Plainview it’s going to be a ghost Plainview.” – Ruben Olivas, Plainview resident. 

How Crazy Must You Be Not To Be Executed?

There’s little doubt that Andre Thomas, a convicted triple killer, is not sane. After murdering his estranged wife, young son and 13-month-old daughter, he cut their hearts and other organs out, then turned himself in to police. He gouged out his own eyes, eating one of them. Thomas is on Texas Death Row, awaiting an execution date. But his lead attorney, Maurie Levin, who also teachers at the University of Texas Law School, says Thomas is insane and should not be executed.
Thomas’s case was recently profiled in Texas Monthly and on the Texas Tribune by Brandi Grissom.

“It’s considered cruel and unusual punishment to execute those who are considered insane. Andre [Thomas’] case… forces us to ask why we would prosecute somebody capitally who was so clearly, severely, mentally ill.”

Military Dogs Showing Signs Of PTSD From Combat Deployments

When America goes to war – American dogs are also sent into the combat zone alongside their human handlers. And researchers are finding that like some human warriors these canines are returning home with symptoms of something like “post-traumatic stress disorder” -- or PTSD. Texas Public Radio's Ryan Loyd reports that there’s evidence that man’s best friend needs some extra TLC after their tour of duty.

Credit DoD Military Working Dog Breeding Program Facebook Page

TCU Students Play For Cliburn Competition Spot

A pair of TCU piano students are playing for a chance of a lifetime. Both hope they get picked for this Spring’s Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth. It’s held once every four years. KERA’sBill Zeeble reports the two are among twenty auditioning this week in Fort Worth.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi