Firefighters are looking to the skies for much-needed rain this week as crews continue to battle wildfires across the state. Fires reported by the Texas A&M Forest Service on Sunday were being fought in Brown, Taylor, Wilbarger, Llano, Schleicher and San Saba counties.

“Minimal rainfall, hot, dry conditions and intensifying drought continue to support wildfire activity across the state,” TFS Fire Chief Wes Moorehead said. “Due to the conditions, these wildfires require more time and resources to bring under control. The Texas A&M Forest Service continues to support local fire departments and has located additional resources in areas of concern.

Burn bans are in effect in 131 counties, covering almost all areas of the state except for East Texas.


The Texas Education Agency added 24 more teachers to the teacher vacancy task force formed in March, bringing the number of teachers to 26 — the same number as the administrators originally chosen. The TEA drew criticism when it announced the initial task force, with only two teachers selected.

“Teachers are the single most important school factor that affects student achievement,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “And the Teacher Vacancies Task Force will further ensure our ability to provide the best advice, support and resources to help schools find and retain the teachers they need for all of their students. Having these two dozen additional perspectives from a diverse and talented pool of Texan teachers will greatly benefit the important considerations before the task force.

Public school systems large and small across the state are facing severe staffing shortages, exacerbated by a flood of retirements and resignations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The working group hopes to develop strategies to solve the problem.


Buckling up is always a good idea, but not doing so could cost drivers a ticket as the Texas Department of Transportation conducts its 20th annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign with enhanced enforcement across the state.

“Since its launch in 2002, the Texas Click It or Ticket campaign has saved nearly 7,000 lives,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “We are proud of the work we have done over decades and the countless hours put in by our law enforcement partners. But there are still far too many preventable deaths on Texas roads. »

Texas officers and deputies will step up enforcement of state seat belt and child car seat laws over the next two weeks. Texas law requires that anyone in a vehicle be properly restrained. Children under 8 years old must be in a child safety seat unless they are over 4 feet 9 inches tall. If a child is unsecured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.


The presence of the emerald ash borer (AE) was confirmed last week in Dallas County. The county was added to the list of Texas places under quarantine to slow the spread of the insect.

“The emerald ash borer is a destructive, non-native pest of ash trees,” said Allen Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service regional forest health coordinator. “Since 2018, we’ve deployed nearly 500 traps in central, east, and north Texas each year to monitor the insect’s presence and movements.”

Native to Asia, this aggressive pest has killed millions of ash trees since entering the country 20 years ago. In Texas, it has been confirmed in Harrison, Bowie, Cass, Dallas, Denton, Marion, Parker, and Tarrant counties.

The Texas A&M Forest Service is working with communities subject to state quarantines restricting the movement of wood to and from affected areas.


A state audit released last week reported a breach of the personal information of 1.8 million workers who filed claims with the Texas Department of Insurance. The department said the personal information included Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth and other personal information.

The breach occurred “due to a problem in the programming code of the department’s web application that handles workers’ compensation data. The glitch in the code allowed members of the public to access a protected portion of this online application,” the Texas Tribune reported.

In response to media reports, TDI said it quickly corrected the programming code error when it was discovered and there was no evidence to date of any misuse of the information. It offers a year of free credit monitoring and identity protection services to those whose data has been exposed.


The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Texas over the past week has remained steady at 26,798, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, with 58 deaths reported in the state. The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide increased slightly to 859, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Gary Borders is an award-winning veteran journalist from Texas. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas over a 30-year period, including Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches, and Cedar Park. Email: [email protected]


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