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Early voting ends Friday


Early voting ends Friday

Early voting for the March 1 primary ends Friday. Initial reports indicate turnout has been low, as is traditional in midterm primary elections, with less than a fourth of registered voters going to the polls most years.

Voters will pick nominees for Texas’ governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner, comptroller and railroad commissioner, as well as legislative and county races.

Texas Secretary of State John. B. Scott’s office provides a website that allows voters to see who is on the ballots in all races at votetexas.gov. Texas law allows registered voters to participate in either party primary, but not both. In addition, a voter in the Republican primary cannot participate in any runoffs in Democratic races, and vice-versa. However, in the November general election, voters are free to choose candidates from both parties.


Wildfire activity increases
west of I-35

Blustery winds and freeze-dried vegetation are increasing the number of wildfires reported west of Interstate 35 and into South Texas, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

“Wildfire activity has increased across the state and is driven by underlying drought and above-normal grass production from last year’s growing season,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief. “We have increased the number of personnel, equipment and aircraft in state to assist with response as we’re concerned about large areas of the state.”

Since Feb. 14, local and state firefighters have responded to 91 wildfires that burned 7,312 acres.

Nine out of 10 wildfires in the state are caused by humans, according to TFS, which has fully staffed task forces and fire-suppression equipment staged in Victoria, Kingsville, Childress, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Burkburnett, Fredericksburg, Smithville, McGregor, San Angelo and Mineral Wells.


Number of imprisoned Texans stays steady

After a drop last year when some inmates were released due to COVID-19 concerns, the state’s prison population has stayed steady, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. As of January, 118,733 adults were in Texas prisons, up about 1,000 from a year ago.

The state’s total operating capacity is 129,681 beds, according to TDCJ.


More than $112 million
in cancer prevention grants

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas announced 74 new cancer research and prevention grants totaling more than $112 million.

“The grants awarded today illustrate the broad spectrum of CPRIT’s impact in the fight against cancer,” said Wayne Roberts, CPRIT’s chief executive officer. “From recruitment awards bringing topflight researchers to Texas, continued investment in cancer prevention and screening programs across the state and supporting cancer-fighting innovation in early-stage companies, Texas just took another major step forward in becoming a national leader in conquering cancer.”

The projects approved include 65 academic research grant awards, seven prevention awards, and two product development research awards, which were granted to 16 institutions and companies across the state. The awards are designed to expand access to clinical trials, incubate innovative cancer research, support the state’s emerging biotechnology industry, provide needed cancer screenings for underserved Texans and recruit outstanding cancer researchers to Texas, according to the news release.


UTSA, Baylor gain
Tier One academic ranking

The University of Texas at San Antonio and Baylor University have earned the national research ranking of Carnegie Tier One, joining nine other Texas universities that have been recognized for academic excellence at doctoral universities with “very high research activity.”

In addition, Prairie View A&M University, Sam Houston State University, Tarleton State University and The University of Texas at Tyler have earned Tier Two research rankings for “high research activity.”

“The Lone Star State is truly brimming with promise,” Gov. Greg Abbot said. “The 22 Texas universities now ranked among the best in the nation as Carnegie Tier One and Tier Two research universities are a reflection of the breadth and depth of academic excellence at our institutions of higher education as they open the doors to opportunity for all Texas students.”

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education was developed in 1970. It is based on an institution’s annual research expenditures and other factors.


COVID-19 cases still dropping, but deaths up

The number of new cases of COVID-19 cases in the past week again dropped dramatically to 65,521, down 40% from the previous weeks and 85% from the record high set the week of Jan. 17. However, the number of new deaths in Texas increased to 1,588, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 5,681 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, down 30% from the previous week.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 6.575 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas with 83,648 deaths reported, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center. Meanwhile, the number of Texans who are fully vaccinated has slowly trickled upward to 17.16 million, with 6.18 million receiving a booster dose.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@texaspress.com.


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