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:

The clinic attached to the hospital is staying open for now.
Health Care

Scenes from a Rural Hospital’s Final Day

Chillicothe Hospital closed its doors on July 22. Its closure reverberated through the community in both expected and surprising ways.

This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Inside a tiny frontier hospital at the Texas Panhandle’s southern boundary, Judy Borton is hunched over the same gas stovetop that … Read More

The Potter County courthouse.
Criminal Justice

Potter County Criminal Defense System is Lambasted in a New Report

A 200-page report produced by the Sixth Amendment Center exhaustively shows how the long arm of the law gives poor people in Amarillo the short end of the stick.

An incendiary new report on the constitutional right to counsel, produced by a nonpartisan watchdog group and obtained by the Observer, uncovers a deeply troubling criminal justice system in Potter County, where Amarillo is located. The report found that jailers … Read More

Health Care

Critical Condition

Rural health care is in crisis around the country, but Texas is suffering the most. At least 20 small-town hospitals have closed since 2013.

a Texas Observer Special Investigation Critical Condition Rural health care is in crisis around the country, but Texas is suffering the most. At least 20 small-town hospitals have closed since 2013. More than one-fifth of Texas’ 254 counties have only … Read More

The now-vacant hospital in Mount Vernon.
Health Care

A Dying Town

When a rural hospital dies, the community around it starts to follow suit.

Critical Condition: part 1 A Dying Town When a rural hospital dies, the community around it starts to follow suit. + + + by Christopher Collins and Sophie Novack November 4, 2019  On the evening of December 28, 2014, … Read More

Andy Sansom walks on his property where a proposed new natural gas pipeline would pass through his ranch in the Texas Hill Country near Stonewall, Texas Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. A proposed pipeline is a 430-mile, $2 billion natural gas expressway that pipeline giant Kinder Morgan has mapped from the booming West Texas oil patch to Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Landowners Got One Hill Country Oil Pipeline Moved. But Can They Do It Again?

Rule No. 1 of averting pipeline routes: Always bring a high-powered, politically connected oil and gas executive to the negotiating table.

A month after news surfaced that a pipeline proposed by a Texas-based petroleum juggernaut would run across the Edwards Aquifer, the primary source of water for San Antonio and other cities, the company said it would shift the pipeline’s path. … Read More

The Martin Lake power plant in Tatum.

The Creature of Martin Creek Lake Won’t Die

The Martin Lake coal plant in East Texas is the biggest sulfur dioxide polluter in the nation. And unlike other regional super-polluters, this one is still chugging along.

From above, the Creature takes the shape of a spider: Its eyes are smokestacks, its legs spindly railways stretching from the semicircle of clearcut pines into the East Texas woods beyond. Given its proximity to Martin Creek Lake—a popular fishing … Read More


Trump’s USDA Lets Animal Abusers Off the Hook

A South Texas facility has been repeatedly penalized for violating animal treatment standards. Under newly loosened rules, will it and other offenders be held to account next time?

On June 6, an inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal-welfare division made a macabre discovery. At a sprawling animal research facility in South Texas, 25 captive monkeys had not been fed for six days. They were in such … Read More

homelessness, amarillo, tent city
News, Rural Reporting Project

Public Camping Bans Won’t Solve Homelessness. But Could They Get Us Talking About Real Solutions?

In Victoria, an anti-camping ordinance stands to harm the homeless. But it could also lead to important conversations about a statewide problem.

On July 16, Andrew Young, a member of the Victoria City Council, said he had a problem: A few homeless people had set up tents on public property and along city rights-of-way in the town of 63,000 near the Gulf … Read More

The Red River on the Oklahoma-Texas border.
News, Rural Reporting Project

Water Wars Pit Rural and Urban Texas Against Each Other

Fast-growing North Texas towns need water. But a reservoir project will displace families who have lived in Fannin County for generations.

You know you’re getting close to Harrold Witcher’s place when you pass the water tower in Carson, a community of 22 people in northeast Texas just south of the Oklahoma border. A mere 20 minutes from the Red River, this … Read More