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Texas gained almost 9 Hispanic residents for every additional white resident last year
 
 06.20.19

The gap between Texas’ Hispanic and white populations continued to narrow last year when the state gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident.

With Hispanics expected to become the largest population group in Texas as soon as 2022, new population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed the Hispanic population climbed to nearly 11.4 million — an annual gain of 214,736 through July 2018 and an increase of 1.9 million since 2010.

The white population, meanwhile, grew by just 24,075 last year. Texas still has a bigger white population — up to 11.9 million last year — but it has only grown by roughly 484,000 since 2010. The white population’s growth has been so sluggish this decade that it barely surpassed total growth among Asian Texans, who make up a tiny share of the total population, in the same time period.

The estimates come as lawmakers begin to sharpen their focus on the 2021 redistricting cycle, when they’ll have to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative maps to account for population growth. And they highlight the extent to which the demographics of the state continue to shift against the Republican Party.

During the last go-around, which is still being litigated in federal court, Hispanics accounted for about 65% of the state’s growth. With about two years of growth left to go, their share of Texas’ population increase since 2010 reached 54% last July.

The Hispanic community is growing in numbers across the state. But 47% of Texas Hispanics now live in the state’s five biggest counties — Harris, Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant and Travis. Home to Houston, Harris County leads that list with more than 2 million Hispanic residents. But Hispanic growth since 2010 continues to be most significant in Tarrant County.

With a growth rate of 26%, the Hispanic population in Tarrant County reached 609,236 last year — up from 482,977 in 2010.

But while Hispanics’ numbers are growing the most, the state’s Asian community is growing the fastest.

The number of black Texans continues to grow, but their share of the state’s population has remained mostly stagnant in recent years, at around 12%. Nationally, Harris County had the largest increase in black residents, gaining 14,017 people last year.

The estimates also showed that Texas continues to be a fairly young state. The country’s median age increased to 38.2 in 2018, compared with 37.2 in 2010. In Texas, the median age sits at 34.8, up from 33.6 in 2010.


This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/20/texas-hispanic-population-pace-surpass-white-residents/.

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The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.


Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte  

weather

Lightning strikes over Riverbend Park baseball fields on Wednesday night. The storm brought 60 mph wind gusts in Waco.


Weather
spotlight
Area storms cause outages
Storm knocks out power to more than 8,000 customers
 Mike Copeland  / 
 06.20.19

Oncor crews spent Thursday restoring power to more than 8,000 customers in Greater Waco who saw their homes and businesses go dark as wind gusts approaching 60 mph battered the area Wednesday night.

By 5:30 p.m. Thursday, 186 customers locally were still without electricity, “and crews are working safely to restore the rest as quickly as possible,” Oncor regional manager Michael Baldwin said.

The crowd at Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon, on the I-35 frontage road in Lorena, used flashlights and cellphones to continue their merrymaking and pool playing when winds leveled a power pole at about 10:30 Wednesday evening. Tumbling, with a transformer atop it, the pole narrowly missed vehicles in the parking lot, manager Niki Lehmann said.

Oncor crews arrived about 45 minutes later, followed by law enforcement, employee Angela Carroll said. Carroll was sitting near the front door when nature crashed the party, and power was restored shortly after crews arrived, she said.

“Nobody could leave because of what had happened just outside the door,” Carroll said. “Everybody just passed the time and waited for instructions. It’s pretty much a family network here, a good crowd.”

At mid-morning Thursday, 1,396 customers remained without service, but numbers changed throughout the day, Oncor’s Baldwin said.

“At the height of the storm, 8,034 customers were without power, with areas all over Greater Waco impacted,” Baldwin said. “We have brought in additional resources, including 63 contract crews who are assisting.”

Some of the contractors are from elsewhere in Texas, and some are from out of state, Baldwin said.

Staff photo — Jerry Larson 

Southern Electric Corp. of Mississippi apprentice Dakota Smith guides a new transformer to lineman Tyrel Beech on Thursday at Park Lake Drive and MacArthur Drive.

City of Waco crews were dealing with downed limbs that threatened roadways in and around the Pecan Bottoms and Jacob’s Ladder areas of Cameron Park and at Brazos Park East, Parks Superintendent John Rose said. Mowing teams and others were assisting the parks department’s tree crews, Rose said.

“There were power outages in and around Waco last night that did impact traffic signals, but I am not aware of any major occurrences,” Waco Police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said Thursday.

Online updates from Oncor revealed 253 East Waco residents were still without power at midmorning, the most among local areas.

Waco Regional Airport reported that American Eagle canceled one inbound flight and one outbound flight because of Wednesday’s storms.

Residents citywide awoke to find limbs scattered across lawns.

City solid waste workers are continuing to take an inventory of brush that will need to be collected, Public Works Director Charles Dowdell said via email Thursday afternoon.

Clouds have moved out, and high heat will replace them.

Sarah Barnes, a meterologist with the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth, said Friday’s high will reach 96 degrees, but other conditions will make it feel like 108 degrees. There is a 20% chance of rain in the counties west of McLennan, but Waco is expected to remain dry, Barnes said.

“Rain chances will return Saturday night into Sunday, increasing Sunday night into Monday,” she said.

Despite the bluster Wednesday night, rainfall totals were sparse, totaling less than 0.2 of an inch around Waco, which has gotten half an inch more rain this June than last June, Barnes said.

The Associated Press reported that potent thunderstorms Wednesday night were blamed for one death and left more than 200,000 people without power across the southern United States. Fallen trees ripped down power lines and crashed into buildings along a line from Texas to Alabama overnight and into Thursday morning, the national Storm Prediction Center reported.

Straight-line winds of up to 85 mph damaged roofs Wednesday in the town of Greenville northeast of Dallas, the National Weather Service reported. In Mississippi, a 19-year-old man died when a tree fell on his home Wednesday night, according to the Delta Democrat-Times.


Police
editor's pick
New sheriff's office rescue boat makes debut on Tradinghouse Lake
 Kristin Hoppa  / 
 06.20.19

While it was no action-packed, made-for-TV drama, the new McLennan County Sheriff’s Office’s jet-propelled rescue boat was a welcome sight for five stranded and sunburned teenagers and a puppy this week.

The group was rescued Wednesday on Tradinghouse Lake after gusty winds pushed them on an inflatable raft across the lake. Deputies used the newly acquired 2018 Riverpro boat to navigate the choppy waters that eventually left the group marooned in a pasture inaccessible by other vehicles and on the opposite side of the lake from where they started.

“I think I was the one that had it the worst, because I went overboard and I’m the only one who can swim, so I just started floating,” said Luis Hernandez, part of the group. “I looked back up, and they were all way in the middle of the lake. When I tried to swim toward them, the current was just pushing them.

“I’m not going to lie. I started crying.”

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte 

Mireya Chavez, 18, of Bellmead, carries her puppy, after sheriff's deputies rescued them on Tradinghouse Lake on Wednesday using the county's new boat.

Luckily, the teenagers had cellphones with them and called first responders as they landed on the opposite side of the lake with no clear way to get back, said Mireya Chavez, another member of the group. Luis eventually made it back to the group, which included a 3-month-old puppy named Mia, as they waited on the shore.

“This is why we have this boat now,” McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Gates said. “For emergencies like this, this is exactly why.”

McLennan County commissioners approved the purchase of the $49,985 boat in July 2018 with forfeiture funds seized by law enforcement. Gates said deputies have been working with game wardens on a newly implemented marine safety enforcement team, and additional officers are working on certifications.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte  

McLennan County Sheriff’s Office deputies take the office’s new jet propelled rescue boat across Tradinghouse Lake on Wednesday.

“The reason this boat is handy for the sheriff’s office is you can utilize it for the two rivers, and we’ve taken it on both the Brazos and Bosque rivers, where there has only been an inch-and-a-half of water,” Gates said. “A lot of other boats can’t get to those areas. The sheriff wanted to be able to help as many people as we can, so this is a big step in making us able to do that.”

Deputies said they tried to contact other agencies for assistance with the group on Tradinghouse Lake, but no one was available for the water rescue. Deputies deployed the new jet boat, which was designed in Missouri with specification for the sheriff’s office and the bodies of water in Central Texas, Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

“It didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime, and we have several of our officers that have been trained to drive that particular type of jet boat so it can run around in very shallow water,” McNamara said. “Wednesday’s rescue is exactly why we have it, and I am so proud we were able to help.”


Courts_and_trials
editor's pick
Olivarez convicted in 2014 double slaying
 Tommy Witherspoon  / 
 06.20.19

A Waco man convicted Thursday in the slayings of two cousins at a North Waco apartment in 2014 will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury of 10 women and two men deliberated five hours Thursday before convicting Tony Olivarez of capital murder in the May 2014 shooting deaths of cousins Justin Gonzalez and Ulysses Gonzalez at the Pecan Tree Apartments, 2600 Grim Ave.

Prosecutors Robert Moody, Evan O’Donnell and Nelson Barnes waived the death penalty in the case, so Olivarez was sentenced to an automatic life prison term with no hope for parole.

Olivarez showed no emotion at the verdict, but his family members and those of the victims who packed 54th State District Court on Thursday wept quietly.

Todric McDonald, Olivarez’s co-defendant, was convicted in February and is serving life without parole.

After Judge Matt Johnson sentenced Olivarez, six family members of the Gonzalez cousins gave victim-impact statements in which each one said they forgive Olivarez.

Justin Gonzalez’s mother told Olivarez her son had two young children and his girlfriend was pregnant with his third child at the time of his death. Now they will grow up without a father, she said.

“Tony, I forgive you, but whether you know it or not, my life was forever changed on that day, it changed forever, forever, forever,” she said.

Justin Gonzalez’s brother said the last time he saw Justin, he was about to leave town and Justin asked him to wait a bit so he could say goodbye.

“If I knew that was the last time my brother would be there to give me a hug and a kiss, I would have never left,” he said. “Now, he is my guardian angel.”

Ulysses Gonzalez’s aunt told Olivarez that he is going to hear the cousins begging for their lives for the rest of his life.

Witnesses testified that Justin Gonzalez was dealing methamphetamine and cocaine out of one of the apartments with the permission of the woman who was living there. The woman said two men, one whom she identified as Olivarez, came to the apartment around 4:30 a.m., brandished weapons and killed the two cousins.

The woman said Olivarez stuck a gun in her face, cursed her and told her to stay down. She said she hid her face in the sofa and did not see who fired the fatal shots. However, prosecutors established that Olivarez was at the apartment and he could have been convicted as a party to the murders. They also introduced evidence showing guns of different calibers were used in the shootings.

Barnes said he was pleased with the verdict.

“It is a culmination of a whole lot of hard work,” Barnes said. “It all starts with law enforcement, from the folks who went forward and put this case together, from the folks at Waco PD, from the folks at the crime lab, and everybody who was part of this.

“I want to thank the staff here. Robbie and Evan did a tremendous job getting this case ready to go to trial, did a tremendous job presenting it to the jury and, obviously, we got the verdict we were expecting to get.”

O’Donnell told the jury in summations that Olivarez and McDonald were close friends and crime associates who were involved in a shootout after an attempted theft of a firearm just five hours before the double murders. He said Olivarez could have made a number of different decisions in the days before and after the murders that would have taken him out of McDonald’s swath of crime.

“I am pleased for the family, that they were able to close this chapter,” O’Donnell said. “They are very good people who have been very supportive of us all the way through. Hopefully, this verdict brings them some closure.”

Waco attorney Russ Hunt, who defended Olivarez with his son, Russ Hunt Jr., called the case “an unfortunate situation.”

“We are disappointed with the verdict, but we certainly respect the jury’s verdict,” he said.

The elder Hunt challenged the woman’s identification of Olivarez as one of the gunmen, saying she had been high and was up for two days straight and mistakenly told police that the man she eventually identified as Olivarez had a teardrop tattoo near his eye.

Olivarez does not have a tattoo near his eye, but McDonald does. Hunt also said McDonald has a tattoo on his chest of a shadowy figure holding a pistol in each hand, suggesting that McDonald shot both the men with two different calibers of guns.

He also questioned the manner in which the police photo array in the case was handled, saying it was improperly suggestive and led to the woman selecting Olivarez.

Moody told jurors in summations that Hunt’s speculative theories and defense were built on “a wing and a prayer.”

“Don’t check your common sense at the door,” Moody said. “The evidence in this case all fits like a big puzzle.”

Moody said the women at the apartment when the men were killed were traumatized by the event. One was so scared for her life that she jumped from a second-floor balcony when Olivarez and McDonald returned to the apartment in what Moody said was an attempt to eliminate the two witnesses they left behind.

The women locked the door, and McDonald shot the door and lock, jamming it closed.

“This is all because of you,” Moody said, pointing at Olivarez. “You stole those boys from their families. You stole those boys’ lives.”


Read more

Business
editor's pick
Elm Avenue Market to use TIF money for historical touches
 Rhiannon Saegert  / 
 06.20.19

As work on the The Elm Avenue Market continues with city financial backing, the company behind it is opting to highlight the building’s historical features.

Rapoport Academy founder and Lula Jane’s owner Nancy Grayson said work on the 78-year-old building at Elm and Preston Street uncovered transom windows hidden in the walls of the original building. Rather than press forward with original plans, Grayson said she opted to recreate the windows. The building’s brick and mortar requires repointing, and plans for the market include period-accurate awnings to complete the picture.

“It brings it back, historically, to the 1930s where it all began,” Grayson said. “It’s welcoming, it’s inviting, it’s bright, it’s fresh.”

The city approved an almost $97,000 grant from the Tax Increment Financing Zone to support the project, and the TIF board recommended amendments to Cottages on Elm LLC’s TIF contract Thursday.

The board signed off on shifting $22,011 originally set aside for sidewalks and parking improvements to instead be used to cover the cost of restoring historical elements of the building, including the awnings, windows and masonry work.

“We are trading it out and bringing it back in place of the sidewalk work,” Grayson said.

Other funding is covering the sidewalk work.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte  

Work is continuing on the future home of Elm Avenue Market, at the corner of Elm and Preston Street. The TIF board approved a change to its grant for the project, shifting money to cover historical elements in the renovation plans.

The board also recommended a reduction in the building’s appraisal dispute amount from $413,000 to $346,759. Recipients of TIF grants agree not to dispute property valuations up to a certain threshold once their redevelopment project is complete.

“We’re pretty close on the structure itself,” Grayson said, estimating the building will be complete in about a month.

Grayson announced the project in 2017, after she bought the building at Elm and Preston. The building has served many purposes over the years but was most recently used as a Community Baptist Church community center. She said the market will fill a need in an area deemed a food desert by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Grayson plans to focus on offering fresh foods at the store, she said.

“We will have no chips, no sodas, no cookies,” Grayson said. “This is where you come to get the good stuff.”

She said neighbors will also be allowed to sell produce at the market, and a basketball court behind the market will be repurposed as an outdoor theater where movies will be projected against the wall.

“That’s one of the reasons to paint the market white, so we have that screen available,” Grayson said.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte 

Work is continuing on the future home of Elm Avenue Market, at the corner of Elm and Preston Street. The TIF board approved a change to its grant for the project, shifting money to cover historical elements in the renovation plans.

She said the market will also have some amenities specifically for residents of the 76704 ZIP code, though she declined to elaborate.

“This is well-spent money for Elm, for a building that is 78 years old, and for the potential of a grocery and market for the neighborhood,” Grayson said. “We have to take care of our neighbors.”

The TIF board addressed several other matters during its meeting Thursday. The board declined to recommend the city give an additional $1.7 million in TIF funding to an incoming Hyatt Place Hotel for public parking spaces. The city has already approved $1.9 million in TIF money for other elements of the hotel project.

The board recommended approval on $495,087 for parking, lighting and pedestrian improvements at the Cameron Park Zoo and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum.

Shortly before the meeting, Magnolia representatives contacted Economic Development Executive Director Melett Harrison and requested to postpone their TIF application for an expansion of Magnolia Market at the Silos, which was on the docket for the day.

“We’re still in the process of solidifying all of the project details, and, given the scope and scale, we decided to hold off on the application right now,” Harrison said, repeating what the Magnolia representative told her.