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. He is an associate editor at the Observer. He previously was a staff writer covering rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at [email protected]

By Christopher Collins:


Biden Plans to Ban All New Fracking Leases on Public Land. Will He Actually Do It?

The federal Bureau of Land Management has a habit of auctioning off parcels of its land to oil and gas developments. For years, Texas cities and environmentalists have sounded the alarm about the arrangements.

In 2017, the oil industry, aided by Donald Trump’s Interior Department, set its sights on a swath of plains northwest of Corpus Christi. The 1,600 acres, located in and around Choke Canyon Reservoir, were deemed attractive by drillers who wanted … Read More


Strangest State: Fashionable Critters and Creepy Heirlooms

Plus, a dog from Plano shot his owner in the leg.

LUBBOCK // A hairless opossum in Lubbock became a viral sensation after the local animal shelter asked the public for fashion advice for the critter. KLBK reported that a concerned citizen brought the opossum, which suffers from alopecia, to the … Read More

A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11.

A Weird End for a Weird Year: Our Eight Favorite Strange Texas Stories of 2020

A wild horse chase, an alligator with a big appetite, and a cloned cat made this year a little stranger—in a good way.

As we near the end of 2020, we can only hope this cursed year has no more curve balls to throw our way. After all, we’ve weathered a global pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide; in … Read More

Illustration: An alligator thinks of a hamburger while looking at the Whataburger sign.
News, News, Strangest State, The Issue

Strangest State: Everybody Loves Whataburger

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

ARANSAS PASS // A small alligator with a big appetite sauntered into an Aransas Pass Whataburger expecting a late-night meal, KRIS 6 News reports. The ravenous reptile was not served, however—employees called the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which sent … Read More

An American and Texas flag fly from the tops of cranes near an oil rig by the site where President Donald Trump delivered remarks about American energy production during a visit to the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Midland, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Politics

Rural Voters Stepped on the Gas for Trump Across the Texas Oil Patch

Even in Democratic strongholds, some voters in the state’s vast shale plays were afraid of Joe Biden’s energy platform.

Once again, rural Texans voted en masse for President Donald Trump in 2020. Joe Biden spent no time campaigning in Texas and thus failed to reach the large swath of counties populated by some of the most conservative voters in … Read More

Health Care

A West Texas Nursing Home Sent Its COVID-Positive Residents Elsewhere. Now Two of Them Are Dead.

Texas allows nursing homes to voluntarily accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals and other nursing homes. But there are no additional safeguards for the people sent there, and some of the facilities have a history of breaking rules.

John Wayne McDermett used to manage nursing homes. Now he lives in one. After serving 12 years as a rural county judge and working a stint as a disc jockey at a country radio station, the Texas native switched careers … Read More

A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11.
Culture, News, Strangest State, The Issue

Strangest State: Mysterious Seeds and a Longhorn on the Moon

Weird news from far-flung Texas.

LUBBOCK // A wild horse led police on an hourslong chase through North Lubbock on July 11. The mare was adopted as part of a longstanding federal initiative to give wild horses and burros a new home, but the animal … Read More

Health Care

One of Texas’ Biggest Nursing Home Operators Beset By COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

New data released by the state health agency provides a glimpse into the infections, deaths, and recoveries at Texas nursing homes.

As COVID-19 spread across Texas in March, it became clear that the virus would batter the state’s 1,200 or so nursing homes, where some of the most vulnerable Texans were crammed together in largely understaffed, unprotected facilities. Five months later, … Read More

A nurse with a mask holds a life preserve.
Health Care

Texas Nursing Home Residents Were Already at Risk. Then COVID-19 Hit.

A management company with a poor record of infection control is linked to COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes across Texas.

When Gary Blake launched Creative Solutions in Healthcare in 2000, he started small, opening a single modest nursing home in Granbury. Now Blake runs a nursing home empire. He owns or operates 64 nursing facilities across Texas, from big cities … Read More