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:

suicide, farmer
News, Rural Reporting Project

Congress Never Funded Program to Prevent Farmer Suicides. Now It’s an Epidemic.

With farmers’ suicide rates higher than some veterans, rural advocates are pushing Congress to fund mental health care supports for agricultural producers.

After Judith McGeary discovered that several dozen sheep had been slaughtered by a mountain lion on her 160-acre ranch near Waco in 2015, she unexpectedly found herself struggling with depression. Every one of the sheep had been born at McGeary … Read More

rural reporting, tumbleweed, tractor
Politics

Rural Texans Supported Trump, but They’ve Yet to Reap the Rewards

The president has taken a small step toward funding infrastructure projects in the nation’s small towns, but rural Texans aren’t beneficiaries.

Voters in parts of the country’s deep red regions are finally starting to reap slight rewards for sending Donald Trump to the White House, but those benefits haven’t been extended to the rural Texans who helped him beat Hillary Clinton … Read More

texas open records, access denied, open meetings, texas legislature
Politics

Access Denied

How lawmakers, the Texas Supreme Court and Ken Paxton closed the door on open government.

How lawmakers, the Texas Supreme Court and Ken Paxton closed the door on open government. – by Christopher Collins @collins_reports April 2, 2018 By most measures, McAllen’s 2015 Christmas parade and concert was a wild success. Telenovela stars, radio personalities … Read More

Politics

Is the Texas Open Meetings Act the Next Target for Transparency-Killing Legislation?

A Fort Bend County commissioner wants state lawmakers to consider exemptions to the open government law during emergencies, part of a larger trend of officials slackening important regulations in the name of public safety.

As Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains battered Fort Bend County in late August, flooding 4,000 homes in a largely unincorporated area near Katy, County Commissioner Andy Myers needed to coordinate high-water rescues and discuss mandatory evacuation warnings with other local leaders. … Read More

homelessness, amarillo, tent city
News, Rural Reporting Project

In Rare Legal Move, the City of Amarillo Takes Landowner to Court Over Homeless Camp

Experts say the city’s lawsuit, filed this month against a man who allowed a homeless camp to be developed on his property, is virtually unprecedented.

In a nearly unprecedented move, the city of Amarillo has made good on its threat to take a landowner to court over a homeless encampment on his property. City officials filed the lawsuit this month in state district court against … Read More

Environment

Investigation Finds Culprit in Panhandle ‘Chemical Drift’ Case, State Yet to Take Action

Texas Department of Agriculture investigators found that local crop duster pilot Jared Lambert sprayed pesticide that doused three dozen people in a tiny Panhandle town, but the agency has not issued any penalties.

It’s been nearly two years since an errant blast of a dangerous chemical doused the tiny Panhandle town of Quitaque, but the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) hasn’t done a thing to punish the culprit. Last May, investigators with the … Read More

sxsw, film, homeless, youth
Culture

‘Lean on Pete’ Sheds Light on Youth Homelessness, but Not Its Main Character

Featured at SXSW this week, the film magnificently portrays the problems faced by homeless youth — but fails to develop its protagonist in a compelling way.

As attendees of this week’s SXSW festival rush from one sold-out event to the next, they’ll likely walk right past some of Austin’s approximately 2,000 homeless residents, 20 percent of whom are 18 or younger. Across Texas, 113,000 students face … Read More

homelessness, amarillo, tent city
News, Rural Reporting Project

Lawsuit: Amarillo City Officials Pushing Homeless into Potentially Unsafe Shelters

The federal lawsuit is the latest in an escalating conflict between the city and local homeless advocates.

An Amarillo homeless advocate has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that officials are unlawfully forcing homeless people into shelters against their will. It’s the latest development in an escalating feud between city officials and advocates who oversee a … Read More

homelessness, amarillo, tent city
News, Rural Reporting Project

Hope (and Possible Heartbreak) at Amarillo’s ‘Tent City’

Advocates for the homeless in Amarillo have cheered the creation of a “tent city” near downtown, but the site has raised the ire of city officials threatening fines.

Hope (and Possible Heartbreak) at Amarillo’s ‘Tent City’ Advocates for the homeless in Amarillo have cheered the creation of a “tent city” near downtown, but the site has raised the ire of city officials threatening fines. Though they’re not related, … Read More

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