Christopher Collins

Christopher Collins is an investigative journalist based in Abilene. The Wichita Falls native graduated from Midwestern State University in 2012 with a degree in Mass Communication. He previously has worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News and the Wichita Falls Times Record News, along with running a freelance reporting business. At the Observer, he writes about rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at [email protected]

By Christopher Collins:

homelessness, amarillo, tent city
Human Rights

Instead of Fighting ‘Tent City,’ Amarillo Decides to House Its Homeless

The city sued a landowner in 2018 for allowing about 30 homeless folks to set up tents. After a change of heart, city staff asked a camp advocate to help guide a "housing first" pilot program.

When Amarillo temperatures dip into the teens, like they did in early January, 36-year-old Dominic Baldivia simply turns up the heat in his two-bedroom duplex near downtown. But a few months ago, staying warm in the Panhandle nights was considerably … Read More

Environment

Texas State Park Could Close as Vistra Energy Seeks to Sell Land Near Shuttered Power Plant

For decades, the energy company has leased to the state the property on which Fairfield Lake State Park sits. But there’s no guarantee the new buyer will do the same.

For decades, Fairfield Lake State Park has been a fixture of family life for Brenda Pate. She’s spent countless hours at the park, an expanse of timber, trails and water 6 miles northeast of Fairfield, a town of 3,000 south … Read More

A golden cheeked warbler
Environment

Could Kinder Morgan’s ‘Permian Highway’ Scar the Hill Country?

On its 430-mile path to the Gulf, the natural gas pipeline would gash the iconic Hill Country, a region relatively free from oil and gas development.

The golden-cheeked warbler — a compact, yellow-headed songbird that migrates from Mexico to Central Texas each March — is in trouble. The endangered species, which nests nowhere else but the cedar breaks of the Texas Hill Country and surrounding areas, … Read More

midland
Economy

The Poor in Texas Have Been Vastly Undercounted, New Report Finds

The federal poverty level fails to take into account 2.6 million struggling Texas households.

It ain’t cheap living in the oil boomtown of Midland, where the fracking frenzy sweeping through West Texas has led to an eyeball-popping spike in rent. In 2018, a two-bedroom apartment cost on average $1,460, a 28-percent increase from 2017. … Read More

coal ash, groundwater contamination
Environment

Report: Power Plants are Leaking Cancer-Causing Toxins into Groundwater Across Texas

An environmental group found that all of Texas’ coal-fired power plants have polluted groundwater with multiple chemicals, including arsenic, which was detected at 13 of the 15 sites.

In 1975, Alonzo Peeler Jr. figured that selling a small section of his ranchland to a power company was a sage financial move. Now 78, the lifelong rancher says he never would have guessed that San Miguel Electric Co-op, which … Read More

Politics

One Casualty of the Government Shutdown: Low-Income Texans Who Need Housing Assistance

Texas is a super-user of federal housing programs, but the shutdown has brought loans, tax credits and rental assistance to a screeching halt, hurting poor Texans the most.

The heating and cooling units inside Sandstone Foothills Apartments, which houses low-income seniors in Mineral Wells, need to be replaced and the aging elevator servicing the three-story building is overdue for refurbishment. The sidewalks, handrails and entrances at the 40-unit … Read More

Border

These Rural Panhandle Towns Should be Shrinking. But Thanks to Immigrants, They’re Booming.

In the farming town of Dalhart, where voters resoundingly put Trump in office, immigrants have staved off population loss and boosted the local economy.

These Rural Panhandle Towns Should be Shrinking. But Thanks to Immigrants, They’re Booming. In the farming town of Dalhart, where voters resoundingly put Trump in office, immigrants have staved off population loss and boosted the local economy. – by Gus … Read More

Environment

TCEQ is Finally Doing Something About an East Texas Polluter

After years of inaction, the state environmental agency is poised to force German Pellets to install pollution controls at its Woodville processing plant.

One day in late November, a cloud of white smoke swept through Woodville, a small East Texas town of 2,500 about 55 miles north of Beaumont. It was a moment that many in town had been dreading: a literal smoke … Read More

rural reporting, tumbleweed, tractor
Economy

Six Stories About Rural Texas You Should Read Before 2018 Ends

From the shuttering of Dairy Queens, driver's license offices and rural hospitals across the state to an only-in-Texas alligator tale, you may have missed this great reporting.

I understand if the wild and weird news cycle of 2018 has got your head spinning. This rollercoaster ride of state and national politics has some reporters nearly dizzy enough to upchuck in newsroom trash cans. It’s only speeding up, … Read More

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