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:

Politics

Beto’s Drawing Big Crowds in Small Towns. But What’s His Plan for Rural Texas?

Focusing on rural access to health care, high-speed internet and immigrant farm labor, O’Rourke’s rural platform looks to be cogent and cohesive, if still a little skinny.

Beto’s Drawing Big Crowds in Small Towns. But What’s His Plan for Rural Texas? Focusing on rural access to health care, high-speed internet and immigrant farm labor, O’Rourke’s rural platform looks to be cogent and cohesive, if still a little … Read More

Texas Legislature

In Boerne, a Youth Suicide Prevention Effort that May Actually Work

Boerne ISD was once in the grips of a student suicide crisis, but now a prevention program has kept the district suicide-free for the last three years.

A decade ago, Boerne ISD — an 8,700-student district on the outskirts of San Antonio — was in crisis. Students were inexplicably killing themselves at the rate of almost one per year from 2006 to 2014. Among them was a … Read More

Politics

In New ‘Spray Box’ Decision, Sid Miller Dances Himself Right Back to Where He Started

In a dizzying two weeks for the Texas ag commissioner, cattle spray boxes have been closed and reopened with little explanation.

Illustration/Sunny Sone For the last two weeks, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has choreographed a dizzying do-si-do with cattle ranchers, state and federal regulators and a despised, eight-legged critter. It’s taken just 11 days for Miller to personally go to … Read More

sid miller
Politics

Sid Miller Ticks off Farm and Ranch Groups by Personally Shutting Down ‘Spray Boxes’

After some ranchers complained, the state’s agriculture commissioner halted 16 pesticide operations in South Texas that were allegedly misapplying a poison.

Remember when Sid Miller suggested that the entire “Muslim world” should be nuked? How about when he brought back deep fryers and sugary drinks to school cafeterias? Or when he was accused of exercising a horse by tying it to … Read More

Education

Amid Record Youth Suicide Attempts, Texas Lags in Prevention Training for Teachers

Despite a 2015 law requiring suicide prevention training for teachers, state officials say they do not monitor or enforce the requirement.

Pretty much everyone at Fairfield High School liked Jonathan Childers, a 15-year-old with kind brown eyes and a wide smile. The freshman played football, lifted weights for the school team and raised animals in the FFA. He had lots of … Read More

farm
Economy

Texas Farmers are Fed Up With Trump’s Trade War, but Most Stop Short of Blaming Him

The state’s dominant ag products, valued at $18 billion, are in the crosshairs of retaliatory tariffs. Still, most farmers here are hesitant to criticize Trump.

Russell Boening, a Texas farmer and rancher who’s also president of the Texas Farm Bureau, is starting to feel the effects of escalating trade conflicts between the United States and its trading partners, namely China. In response to tariffs on … Read More

air pollution
Environment

Report: Oil and Gas Production Is Making People Sick in Rural Texas

“The price of living near oil and gas shouldn't be giving up your health.”

Sue and Jim Franklin’s double-wide mobile home at the foot of the Davis Mountains in far West Texas is usually sealed up tight with the air conditioner blasting. One reason is because they live in Reeves County, a crown-shaped section … Read More

school, class, students, education
Education

Cash-Strapped Rural Texas Schools Look to Universities for Help

From East Texas to the Rio Grande Valley, universities are helping struggling schools train staff, start enrichment programs and expand space for district activities.

On June 20, a few weeks after Commerce ISD released students for the summer, about 10 fifth-grade students gather in teacher Cari Aaron’s classroom, playing math games on computers. Sitting cross-legged at a low table in the middle of the … Read More

democratic convention
Politics

Texas Democrats Want to Turn Out Rural Voters, but What’s Their Plan?

Dem party leaders like to talk about “energizing rural voters,” but what they’ve delivered so far is a vague, anemic message.

You’ve gotta give it to them — they have energy. But if the first two days of the Texas Democratic Convention are any indication, that may be all Democrats have to offer, especially in rural parts of the state. In … Read More

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