Five stories that have North Texas talking: Ted Cruz says “No, Canada;” Harold Simmons has died; the Chinese Lantern Festival wraps up soon, and more:
- Hundreds gathered in Richardson over the weekend to remember Ray Price, the country singer and bandleader who died earlier this month. Price, who had more than 100 country hits in his decades-long career, was 87. He had pancreatic cancer. He died at his ranch outside Mount Pleasant in northeast Texas. Price had big hits like “Crazy Arms” and “City Lights.” NPR’s All Things Considered aired this remembrance. WFAA-TV reported from the memorial service: “Fort Worth country radio personality Bill Mack read a statement from Willie Nelson, who used to be a bassist in Price’s band. ‘Without a Ray Price, there wouldn’t have been a Willie Nelson,’ he wrote.” Mack said that Price had finished a record just before his death – and that he had never sounded better, WFAA reported.
- The Chinese Lantern Festival ends Sunday. The Fair Park show, which has been open since the State Fair of Texas this fall, features 25 scenes. They include a royal dragon boat and a 52-foot-tall porcelain pagoda made from 68,000 plates, bowls, spoons and wine cups. A team of more than 100 artisans put together the lanterns. The festival describes the scene: “Brilliant, glowing, artworks comprise 25 stunning displays in a kaleidoscope of color. Like stained glass in 3D, each lantern set is made of hundreds and thousands of individual pieces.”
- Texas Senator Ted Cruz has announced he’ll be renouncing his Canadian citizenship. The Dallas Morning News reports that he has retained counsel, which is preparing the proper paperwork. He expects to complete the process in 2014, the newspaper reported. Cruz, who was born in Calgary, has dual citizenship. The News reported: “Under U.S. law, a child born with even one American parent is automatically entitled to citizenship, even if the birth takes place outside the country. Canada, like the United States, also confers automatic citizenship to anyone born on its soil, regardless of the parents’ nationalities.” In October, Cruz returned to Texas – catch up on his visit. Earlier this month, Cruz was featured in a children’s coloring book that was selling quickly in time for the holiday season. Catch up on his 21-hour talk on the Senate floor from the fall, when he read “Green Eggs and Ham.”
- Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons died over the weekend. He was 82. The Texas Tribune reports: “His support of conservative causes and candidates is decades deep, though he sprinkled in donations to Democrats from time to time. The Center for Public Integrity ranked him as the second-biggest overall political donor during the 2011-12 election cycle, giving $31 million by that organization’s count.” Simmons was born in 1931 in Golden, a small town in northeast Texas. The Tribune reports: “He worked as a bank examiner, then bought a pharmacy across the street from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, expanded that into 100 stores and sold it all to Eckerd Corp. That launched his career as a highly successful and often controversial investor. One of his companies, Waste Control Specialists, has been a frequent subject of legislative and state agency debates; it operates a low-level radioactive waste facility in Andrews, a West Texas town near the New Mexico border.”
- More than a dozen people in Texas are reported to have died from the H1N1 virus, better known as swine flu. About 95 percent of this flu season’s Texas influenza A cases are H1N1.Texas has one of the highest rates of infection in the country. KERA’s Breakthroughs blog offers three things you should know about the virus.