Rural Reporting Project
Texas has the largest rural population of any state—3.8 million people—yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas. View an interactive story map here.
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...Read More
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 ...Read More
After 14 years, the artist colony inside a former Amarillo shopping mall is being laid to rest. Now the Panhandle creative-types who called the place home “are just gonna get scattered.”
It was a fine funeral for the fine arts. In early August, the denizens of Sunset Center, a 1960s-era shopping mall in northwest Amarillo that found a second lif...Read More
In tiny Albany, Texas, you can’t shop at Walmart or buy a beer, but you can see one of the state’s best and quirkiest art collections.
Little Arthouse on the Prairie In tiny Albany, Texas, you can’t shop at Walmart or buy a beer, but you can see one of the state’s best and quirkiest art col...Read More
Trump promised to help farmers burned by his trade war with China, but the state’s most powerful producers have received aid far exceeding the federal cap.
For some commodity farmers in Texas, Donald Trump must seem a little like a Sour Patch Kid: First he’s sour, then he’s sweet. The president burned agricultu...Read More
As an impressively wet Texas spring turns into summer, mosquitoes are coming to a neighborhood near you. Cities aim to eradicate the pesky insects, but at what cost?
Mosquitoes suck. And with all the rain that’s inundated Texas this year — many parts of the state have blown past their average rainfall amounts — mosquit...Read More
A countywide public defender's office would've saved Victoria County $1.3 million in its first two years alone. So why did the new DA kill the proposal?
Earlier this year, it seemed as if poor people charged with crimes in a handful of Gulf Coast communities would finally have a fighting chance in court. In Apri...Read More
Nearly 500,000 Texans Live in Communities with Contaminated Groundwater. Lawmakers Aren’t Doing Much About It.
Despite growing national concern about the health effects of “forever chemicals,” the state’s Congressional delegation has barely made a peep.
Even if they don’t kill you, they’ll definitely outlast you. Texans living near seven military sites discovered last year that their groundwater is heavily ...Read More
Rural East Texas has some of the highest suicide rates in the state. But the safety net for people who need help is being stretched thin, and some Texans are falling through.
Rural East Texas has some of the highest suicide rates in the state. But the safety net for people who need help is being stretched thin, and some Texans are fa...Read More
Ready, Set, File: Transparency Bills Passed by Legislature Could Open the Door to Once-Public Records
The measures would sew up the so-called Boeing loopholes, which the government has used thousands of times to keep taxpayer-funded deals private.
UPDATE: The effort to close the “dead suspect” loophole, which Texas law enforcement agencies have used to keep secret the circumstances surrounding...Read More