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Texas Crime
3:57 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Thieves Plead Guilty To Stealing Mail From 96 Post Offices In Texas

Dozens of USPS mailboxes like these were broken into when a pair of Central Texas thieves hop-scotched through 96 post offices, stealing money order imprinting machines and mail containing checks, credit cards, tax returns, and personal identification information from thousands of customers. Postal service investigators say they have been working since March and still haven't located all the victims.
Credit Eileen Pace

  Two people this week entered guilty pleas in a Waco federal court on charges of stealing mail and identities from thousands of victims in over 90 Texas cities and towns.

From North Texas to the Gulf Coast, Austin through San Antonio and west to San Angelo and Midland, the thieves made their way through the state, breaking into 96 post offices.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas in Waco Mark Frazier said more than a dozen of the post offices hit were in the Austin area but the thieves also hit Rockport and Corpus Christi, Killeen and San Marcos.

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Arts & Culture
3:43 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Briscoe Mixes Art, Food, Music, Dance And Drinks

McNutt Courtyard & Sculpture Garden at the Jack Guenther Pavilion.
Courtesy Briscoe Western Art Museum

The Briscoe Western Art Museum is inviting the public to their art-strewn courtyard. The party is called  Summer Sol Fest, and as for party places, the McNutt Courtyard off of the Briscoe is well-positioned.

“We now have several sculptures out there, it’s a beautiful space," said the Briscoe’s Jennifer Wijangco.

And it's not just beautiful; it's shady. Massive oaks cool the courtyard and the western art that’s positioned all through it.

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Texas Matters
2:46 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Politicians Step Forward With Plans For Border, Minors: Cornyn, Cuellar, Cruz File Bills

A U.S. Border Patrol watch tower overlooking the entrance of the Anzaldua's County Park near Mission, Texas.
David Martin Davies TPR News

Texas Matters: Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick supports speeding up the immigration hearing process for unaccompanied minors housed in Texas; but Democrat Leticia Van De Putte says it is a death sentence. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is also putting forward a plan. Also on this show: Texas Nationalist Movement calls for day of action, how payday lending stays unregulated, blues great Johnny Winter dies.

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Arts & Culture
1:36 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Massive Stone Art Installation Taking Shape On Mission Reach

Kids playing on art installation.
Stacy Levy

The Mission Reach continues with its massive, multi-year transformation. I was there Friday morning to get an update after heavy overnight rains had swollen the river. The artist who is creating the artfully imagined portal at Mission Concepción is Stacy Levy.

“This park lies right between the San Antonio River and Mission Concepción," she said. "So my job is to create a place that is talking about both the river and the mission.”

The installation is massive: nearly 200 ft. long and 90 ft. wide.

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Fronteras
12:42 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Texas Border City A Model For Solar Power

The Acacia Solar Plant in Presidio, TX has allowed this border city to put more power onto the electric grid than it takes off.
Travis Bubenik KRTS

Fronteras: The USDA has lifted a ban on inspectors working in Mexico, which could invigorate a cattle trade that has been hurt in both countries. We look at how one border city provides a model for solar power in Texas. State health officials have alerted the CDC about conditions in border facilities where thousands of Central American minors are being detained. Commentator Yvette Benavides takes us inside an immigration court room in San Antonio where these children and teens are making their cases.

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City Ordinances
9:40 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Major AT&T Project Could Be In Jeopardy If Company Violated NDO

Dist. 1 Councilman Diego Bernal emphasizes a point during the NDO debate and vote last year.
Ryan Loyd TPR News

Tensions are mounting with the first complaint filed since San Antonio's revised non-discrimination ordinance passed last year.

Previously TPR reported that AT&T contract employee Matt Hileman, a transgender man, found a derogatory note about him at work and overheard co-workers threatening to harm him.

The city is now putting pressure on AT&T to come up with documentation in the case and determine an outcome because the company has an important contract with the city that could be put in jeopardy.

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Arts & Culture
3:40 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Gemini Ink, Bibliotech Using Arts Grant For Digital Placemaking

Gemini Ink workshop.
Courtesy Gemini Ink staff

A modest grant may play a no-so-modest role in the local arts scene. A National Endowment for the Arts grant has been awarded to Gemini Ink and Bibliotech. As Gemini Ink's Executive Director Sheila Black noted, it's not a massive amount of money.

“It’s $25,000, which is small for this funding source, but we’re thrilled," Black said. "The focus of the grant is creative placemaking.”

I asked Black exactly what creative placemaking is.

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Arts & Culture
2:40 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Broadway Dynamo Seth Rudetsky Sets Woodlawn Performance

Seth Rudetsky.
Robb Johnson

A Broadway comedian is coming to San Antonio with his one-man show. And I've got to tell you, Seth Rudetsky talks faster than anyone I’ve interviewed.

“You know, I talk about how I loved Broadway as a toddler but I think they think I was exaggerating like my mother. My mother exaggerates everything," he said.

The performer played piano for ten years in "The Phantom of the Opera" production and he told me this short story:

“I heard something clatter next to my piano. As it turns out it was the phantom’s mask,” Rudetsky said.

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Military Veterans
2:20 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Soldier Gets Surprise Of A Lifetime With H-E-B Smart Home

Onlookers hold flags before Michael Crawford arrived to the surprise of his life.
Ryan Loyd TPR News

Because he gave of himself in service to his country, H-E-B and Operation Finally Home are giving something back.

23-year-old Army Specialist Michael Crawford found out at a special surprise ceremony that he and his fiancé will receive a mortgage-free smart home to accommodate his needs as a wounded warrior.

The anticipation brewed before he arrived with workers busy putting the finishing touches on the event. H-E-B partners passed out American flags while sound checks were done.

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University of Texas
2:07 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

UT Chancellor Tells House Committee Powers' Resignation Had Nothing To Do With Hall Impeachment

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa told a Texas House committee that the UT Board of Regents relationship with UT at Austin President Bill Powers had become strained and his negotiated resignation had nothing to their impeachment investigation of Regent Wallace Hall. 

The Texas House Select Committee on Transparency in Government Agency Operation asked Cigarroa and the Board Chairman Paul Foster to explain some of the reasoning behind Powers negotiated resignation.

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