Dallas Among Best Cities For New Year’s Eve Fun

Dallas Among Best Cities For New Year’s Eve Fun

DALLAS, TX — New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. For many, the stress of finding the perfect celebration location has just begun. But Dallas party-goers have a little less to worry about this year as Dallas, among other Metroplex cities, was named one of the nation’s top places for New Year’s Eve fun.

In a recent study, WalletHub that took a look at 25 factors that they say are key indicators of an "epic New Year’s Eve celebration" and compared them across 100 U.S. cities to find the ultimate party cities.

The factors considered in the study included legality of fireworks, the price of an average party ticket and expected weather and precipitation for Dec. 31.

What WalletHub researchers found is that Dallas is the No. 12 city for New Year’s Eve fun in the nation and the first-place city in Texas. In the category of Entertainment & Food, Dallas came in at No. 14. The city placed 31st for Cost and 54 for Safety & Accessibility.

Fort Worth landed the No. 69 spot, Plano, 76; Arlington, 79; Garland, 93; and Irving, 96.

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Fort Worth came in near the bottom for Most Expensive Party Ticket, meaning party-goers in Fort Worth can expect to pay almost as much to get into a party as he or she would in New Orleans.

Irving and Garland ranked in the bottom five for nightlife options, but the proximity to Dallas should leave partiers in these cities without many concerns. Garland was also a bottom-five city for fewest luxury shops and gourmet food options.

Other Texas cities in the rankings were: Austin, 15; San Antonio, 18; Houston, 23; El Paso, 36; Laredo, 73; Corpus Christi, 88; and Lubbock, 95.

Click here if you’re looking for something to do in Dallas on New Year’s Eve.

Take a look at nationwide cities’ New Year’s Eve rankings:

Lead image via Patch

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Border arrests drop but interior arrests climb, especially in Dallas region

Border arrests drop but interior arrests climb, especially in Dallas region

AP

The nation’s top immigration authorities declared a big victory Tuesday in the immigration crackdown ordered by President Donald Trump, heralding at news conferences that immigration arrests were up 25 percent for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

But former President Barack Obama still retains his title of deporter-in-chief because actual deportations during Trump’s first fiscal year were down 6 percent compared to the previous year.

Thomas Homan, the deputy director of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in media briefings Tuesday that the decline in removal of unauthorized immigrants was actually a good thing because it reflects a drop in arrests by the Border Patrol.

“There is no population that’s off the table,” Homan said, repeating an often-used phrase. “We are hitting on all cylinders with current resources.”

The rise in arrests indicates greater enforcement, while the drop in deportations is because there are fewer new arrivals across the border, Homan said. Immigration courts are severely backlogged and that is also a contributing factor.

The agency said deportations are at a 45-year-low.

The Dallas regional office of ICE continued to lead the nation in the number of arrests of immigrants, who can be in the U.S. unlawfully or lawfully. The regional office covers half the state’s counties and Oklahoma.

Mark Krikorian, head of the nonprofit Center for Immigration Studies, which favors a crackdown on legal and illegal immigration, agreed about reasons for deportation decline. Deportations were down, he said, “but that is only because border apprehensions are down so much that the Border Patrol has fewer people to hand over to ICE.”

At the Washington Office on Latin America, a left-of-center think tank, Adam Isacson also agreed.

“It did show the power of the tough rhetoric that Trump had,” said Isacson, WOLA director for defense oversight. “But why build a wall and increase Border Patrol” with such low apprehension numbers, Isacson said.

The pace of deportations during the Obama years grew so swiftly that he was dubbed deporter-in-chief by Latino immigration advocates who have long pushed for a way to legalize the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.

Mexican arrests at historic low

Tucked in the data released Tuesday was another record: The apprehensions of Mexican nationals was the lowest annual total in at least 48 years, Isacson said. About 128,000 Mexicans were apprehended by the Border Patrol at the U.S.-Mexico border, he noted.

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 5: End of year statistics are displayed on a monitor as Thomas Homan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), speaks during a Department of Homeland Security press conference to announce end-of-year numbers regarding immigration enforcement, border security and national security, December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The nation’s clogged immigration courts are also slowing the deportation process as immigrants fight against deportation before a judge, analysts said.

There are about 650,000 cases pending in the federal immigration court system, according to a Syracuse University nonprofit called the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC. Nationally, a case can now take nearly two years to make it through the court system, but in Texas the process is longer at two years and four months, according to TRAC.

A further complication: There are about 550,000 outstanding final orders of removal issued by immigration judges.

Matt Albence, ICE’s executive associate director over the agency’s enforcement and removal operations, and Homan said they need to find more rigorous ways to apprehend immigrants who fall off the radar.

“If there is no certainty at the end of the judicial process, than there is no judicial process,” Albence said during a telephone news conference Tuesday.

ICE also reported that there was a spike in the number of assaults against its personnel. It reported 42 incidents, compared with 9 in the previous fiscal year. Many of the assaults were committed against the ICE enforcement and removal staff, ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said.

ICE, largely charged with interior enforcement, reported about 143,000 immigrants were arrested in the interior of the U.S. At the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported it made about 310,000 arrests — a decline of 25 percent from a year earlier.

CBP handles border enforcement. But ICE handles some deportations for the Border Patrol, part of CBP. Both agencies are part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The years-long diaspora from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala continued. The number of families detained, mostly from those three countries, has been climbing since May, according to Border Patrol figures. For the fiscal year, about 76,000 persons travelling in families were apprehended. That is only about 2,000 less than fiscal year 2016.

The number of unaccompanied immigrant minors apprehended was about 41,000 for the fiscal year just ended. Nearly 60,000 were apprehended last fiscal year.

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Good Reasons You Should Visit Dallas Today

Good Reasons You Should Visit Dallas Today

When you think of Texas, Dallas is probably one of the first things that pop into mind. This is because it’s a great city and one of the most popular ones in the state. With that said, read on to find out why you should visit Dallas at least once in your life.

Every year the Texas State Fair is held in Dallas, and it has been held there ever since the 80s. You should visit Dallas at the end of September and October, as this is when the fair takes place. You will love what the State Fair offers, as it features a food fair, parade and auto show to name a few. Let’s not forget to mention that concerts are held there and there are carnival rides you can go on.

The Museum of Art in Dallas is worth the visit from anywhere, and it is one of the biggest art museums in the United States. It was established in the early 1900s, and it houses objects that are from various cultures. Besides the many pieces of artwork that you’ll find here, there are programs for adults, kids and teens. While there, definitely look into an art workshop.

The city is known for its food scene, and there is something for everyone here. It doesn’t matter what type of cuisine you enjoy or what kind you want to try, you’ll find a restaurant that specializes in that cuisine. However, if it’s Mexican food that you’re craving, then you’re in for a treat because the city is very well-known for its array of Mexican restaurants.

Do you want to enjoy great tasting food and do you want to check out one of the best art museums in the world? Do you want to spend time at possibly the best State Fair in America? If so, then visit Dallas and stay for awhile.

Lupe Valdez resigns, candidates scrambling to replace her as Dallas County sheriff

Lupe Valdez resigns, candidates scrambling to replace her as Dallas County sheriff

Staff Photographer

Lupe Valdez has resigned as Dallas County sheriff and is expected to soon file a candidacy for governor.

Valdez, who has led the department since 2005, is expected to file her candidacy for governor as early as next week. When she does, Texas law requires her to step down as sheriff.

Dallas County Commissioners would pick a person to replace Valdez until a special primary and general elections to fill her unexpired term.

"We’re going to make sure the voters rights and opportunity to make selections are upheld," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat.

Three contenders have emerged as candidates in a presumed March Democratic Party primary election to fill the rest of Valdez’s term, which expires and the end of 2020. They are Dallas County Constable Roy Williams, Deputy Sheriff Marian Brown and Dallas lawyer Peter Schulte.

Roy Williams, Jr.

The trio of candidates were considering the top job in 2014, when Valdez considered leaving the department to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. But she decided against the underdog campaign and the race to succeed her never materialized.

With Valdez dropping hints all over town about her intentions, candidates for sheriff are expected to line up between now and when the filing period for the March primaries end on Dec. 11. Republicans will have a primary as well, with the winners facing off in the November 2018 general election.

Williams is a former sheriff’s deputy and Dallas County constable. Brown was a pioneering law enforcement officer in Duncanville, while Schulte is a former Dallas police officer and defense attorney.

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Anthony Lynn returns to Dallas to play Cowboys 12 years after being hit by drunk driver

Anthony Lynn returns to Dallas to play Cowboys 12 years after being hit by drunk driver

This Thanksgiving, Anthony Lynn is returning to Dallas where he nearly lost his life 12 years ago because of a drunk driver. The current Chargers head coach spent two seasons a running backs coach with the Cowboys.

On The MMQB podcast with Peter King, Lynn talked about what he was grateful for this Thanksgiving: his life.

“Back in 2005 I was with the Dallas Cowboys in training camp. On the last day of camp Todd Haley, the wide receivers coach on the team, and I go out for a pizza and a pop. Walking back to the vehicle, walking across the street, I got hit by a drunk driver.”

Lynn detailed that the car was going anywhere between 55 and 60 miles per hour when he was hit, and the driver’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.

“He hit me, and they said I flew 45-50 feet in the air across the street, landed on a Volkswagen, and totaled the car that I landed on.”

Lynn added, “Thank God the car was there. If I hit the concrete, maybe I wouldn’t be here today.”

He also mentioned how thankful he was for the Dallas Cowboys organization, and specifically Jerry Jones, for how they responded to the accident.

“I’ll never forget how they stepped up and helped me and my family make that time as easy and convenient as possible for us by bringing food to the house and just working with me every day and getting back to work and doing my job,” he said. “Jerry will always have a soft spot in my heart because he was there for me.”

Lynn talked about how it’s cool to go back to Dallas to play the Cowboys, especially because he’s from the area. He spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons as the running backs coach, and while he’s had many other coaching stops, none of his teams have ever played at Dallas until this Thanksgiving.

Lynn is in his first season as a head coach, after taking over as the interim coach for the Bills in 2016, and then for Mike McCoy on a permanent basis in Los Angeles. The Cowboys are hosting the Chargers in their annual Thanksgiving game, where the Cowboys are 30-18-1 all time.

He said that he couldn’t end the interview without mentioning his mother and her influence on him and in his recovery. “I’m sure there’s a lot more I can be thankful for, but for right now, I think that’s plenty.”

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This Magical Pumpkin Village In Dallas Is Made From 90,000 Gourds

This Magical Pumpkin Village In Dallas Is Made From 90,000 Gourds

Decorative gourd season is upon us, and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is fully reaping the harvest with its life-size pumpkin village.

DALLAS ARBORETUM

Constructed from more than 90,000 gourds, the enormous display takes visitors on a trip through The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Guests can spiral down a yellow brick road to see the Scarecrow’s Garden, the Enchanted Forest (complete with the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion), Emerald City and even Munchkinland (with a pumpkin patch and activities for the kiddos).

And don’t worry, those building blocks don’t go to waste: Leftovers are either composted or sent to the Dallas Zoo.

In case you needed another excuse to visit Dallas, the fantastical village is open for biz until November 22.

Related:

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Dallas County DA reverses plan to seek death penalty against Zoe Hastings’ alleged killer

This breaking news story will be updated.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office reversed its decision to seek the death penalty for a man accused in the murder of Zoe Hastings, saying the alleged killer has an intellectual disability.

The capital murder case against 36-year-old Antonio Cochran was set for trial last month but was delayed until January. If convicted, Cochran would receive an automatic life sentence.

Antonio Cochran has been charged with capital murder in the death of Zoe Hastings.

Cochran is accused of kidnapping the 18-year-old woman in 2015 while she was at a Lake Highlands pharmacy to return a rental movie. She was stabbed and left for dead by a creek.

His attorneys alleged Cochran was intellectually disabled and prosecutors requested to evaluate him. That evaluation has shown Cochran has an intellectual disability.

It is against the law to execute a person with an intellectual disability.

"However, we remain committed to seeking justice on behalf of Zoe Hastings and her family," said District Attorney Faith Johnson in a statement released late Friday explaining the decision.

Hastings’ slaying sent her neighborhood in a panic during the two-week hunt for her killer.

After Cochran was arrested, police called him a "sexual predator." He was acquitted of a rape charge in 2015 in Texarkana before he moved to Dallas. He has not been charged with a sex crime in Hastings’ slaying, but DNA found at the scene was matched to him.

The death penalty case against Cochran was the first filed since Johnson took office in January. The office has also filed to seek the death penalty against Kristopher Love, the alleged hitman in the 2015 slaying of Kendra Hatcher in an Uptown parking garage.

Johnson has said the decision to seek the death penalty is based on the severity of the crime, what the victim’s family wants and the criminal background of the accused.

"Our office only seeks the death penalty in the most heinous and serious of crimes," Johnson previously told The Dallas Morning News.

Jury selection in the Cochran case began in August and took more than two months. Jurors in death penalty cases are individually questioned.

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Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves bounce Dallas Mavericks

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves bounce Dallas Mavericks

Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves pulled in another win Saturday. Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA

MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns recovered from the worst offensive performance of his career by scoring 31 points, and Andrew Wiggins added 23 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves cruised to an easy 112-99 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.

Towns was held to just two points on 1-of-7 shooting in a win against New Orleans on Wednesday, but the third-year center had his way with Dallas. He added 12 rebounds and three blocks, notching his seventh double-double in nine games this season.

Taj Gibson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which has won four games in a row for the first time since December 2012.

The Timberwolves’ lead ballooned to 28 points in the third quarter as they coasted against the lowly Mavericks (1-10), who are off to their worst start since going 1-23 to start the 1993-94 season.

Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. had 18 points to lead Dallas. Harrison Barnes had 17 points but was scoreless in the second half, and former Wolves guard J.J. Barea had 14 points and six assists off the bench for the Mavericks, who have lost six in a row.

The arrival of Jimmy Butler, Gibson, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford has sparked Minnesota (6-3) to the Northwest Division lead this season, gelling around young stars Towns and Wiggins. They had five wins by single digits before Saturday’s win and are 6-1 with Butler in the lineup.

Butler was held to just four points, his fewest in a game since scoring three on Jan. 27. on 1-of-6 shooting.

NOTES: Dallas G/F Wesley Matthews started the game despite being bothered by left foot soreness. Matthews worked out pregame to determine his availability. He played 26 minutes and scored five points. … The Mavericks started C Salah Mejri on Saturday to combat Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns. It was Mejri’s first start of the season and just his 18th in 114 career games. Nerlens Noel had started Friday at New Orleans. … The Timberwolves host Charlotte on Sunday for their second set of 15 back-to-back games this season. Minnesota lost each game of its first back-to-back of the season without Jimmy Butler in the lineup. … The Timberwolves outrebounded Dallas 48-31. It was their largest rebounding margin of the season and they are 5-0 when outrebounding opponents. … The Mavericks sat out G Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia), F Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee soreness) and F Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury).

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20 Dallas-Fort Worth Companies Score Spots on Texas A&M’s Aggie 100

20 Dallas-Fort Worth Companies Score Spots on Texas A&M’s Aggie 100

Twenty Dallas-Fort Worth companies founded or led by Texas A&M graduates scored spots on this year’s Aggie 100, the college’s annual ranking of fastest-growing businesses.

Topping the list from North Texas is Dallas-based Modern Message, a technology company co-founded by 2004 A&M graduate Michael Ivey. The software firm, which developed a digital rewards platform for apartment residents, reported a three-year growth rate of 79 percent.

Modern Message, which ranked 738th on this year’s Inc. 5000 list with 2016 revenue of $2.7 million, works with about 2,500 apartment communities in the U.S. and Canada. Residents earn points that can be redeemed for prizes by creating social media content about their apartment community, taking online polls or surveys, paying rent or renewing their lease.

The company picked up $2 million in growth capital in June from venture capital fund AXA Strategic Ventures. It said it expects revenue to grow to $4 million to $5 million this year.

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, part of the college’s Mays Business School, announced its 13th annual ranking at a ceremony Friday night at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. To be considered for the Aggie 100, companies must meet specific revenue criteria and operate “in a manner consistent with the Aggie Code of Honor,” according to the university.

The top-ranked company this year is Lonquist Field Service Canada ULC, an oil and gas industry services firm with offices in Calgary, Austin, Houston, Denver and Wichita. Founded by 1987 graduate Richard R. Lonquist, the company posted a three-year growth rate of 223 percent.

Here is this year’s full ranking. Companies are located in Texas unless otherwise noted.

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New Rooms with Views: Hotel Count on the Rise in Central Dallas

New Rooms with Views: Hotel Count on the Rise in Central Dallas

Staff Photographer

As of this month, a two-block stretch of downtown Dallas contains nearly 600 new hotel rooms. That’s nearly 600 more than existed along the rejuvenated Commerce Street before 2016.

Each of the four hotels — including the first Marriott AC Hotel in Texas and the rebirth of an iconic Hilton — hopes to carve out a successful niche among the thousands of hotel guests who flock to central Dallas each year.

The developer of three of those hotels noted that several well-known brands have been underrepresented in central Dallas for years. But he allows that some of the gains he predicts for downtown may come at the expense of hotels further from the city’s core.

“Our downtown [was] missing these brands,” said Mehul “Mike” Patel, chairman, chief executive and founder of Lewisville-based NewcrestImage. “So why not go hard and fill that void.”

NewcrestImage owns 23 hotels, including 13 in Dallas-Fort Worth. The downtown portion of the portfolio includes three hotels carved out of two historic buildings.

The newest two are the AC Hotel, Marriott’s European-themed brand, and a Residence Inn, which includes compact kitchens and is geared to consumers planning longer stays.

The AC and Residence opened in mid-October at 1712 Commerce in the old Mercantile Commerce building, which had been vacant for more than 20 years. Renovations began in April 2015.

Next door, at 1700 Commerce, is a sister property — the Hampton Inn & Suites Dallas Downtown — which NewcrestImage opened last year in the old Allen Building, which was built in 1923.

Two blocks east on Commerce is The Statler, a rescued hotel that’s now part of Hilton’s Curio collection. It welcomed its first paying customers last week, following a $255 million redevelopment.

The openings are part of a major influx of new inns to the city’s center, including Uptown and East Dallas.

Renovation and preservation

The AC Hotel lobby and lounge are at street level in the Mercantile Commerce building, with guest rooms on floors 3 through 11. The Residence Inn lobby is on the second floor, with guest rooms on floors 12 through 21.

While preserving historic elements of the 1950s-era office tower, including a curved wooden stairway in the lobby and travertine walls at the entry corridor, the updated building includes the new bar, which hotel backers hope will have allure beyond the hotel guests.

“We hope we will see downtown residents” and workers, said Kellie Adams, general manager of both the Residence Inn and the AC, which was named for the brand’s founder, Antonio Catalan. He got his start in the hospitality business at his family’s small hotel in Navarre, Spain.

The Residence Inn offers free breakfast and in-room kitchens that include full-size refrigerators, a stove, dishwasher and dishes.

The two brands share a fitness center and an onsite laundry room.

Modern artwork, much of it highlighting Dallas’ skyline and bridges, is found throughout.

Still under construction is a 10-floor parking garage behind the Mercantile Commerce building, that will feature an indoor pool on the ground level to serve the two new hotels and the adjacent Hampton Inn.

A fire in late September pushed back the opening date back which is set for spring.

Patel declined to reveal the cost of the AC/Residence Inn project. City documents show that the three NewcrestImage hotels are in a tax increment financing districting. The developer is eligible to receive up to $10.5 million in aid from the city for the Mercantile Commerce project. The city documents, prepared in 2015, estimated the cost of the project at $54.9 million.

Both AC and Residence Inn are part of the rapidly growing “upscale” hotel segment, a category that also includes brands like Hyatt House and Hilton Garden Inn, according to STR, formerly Smith Travel Research.

“When you’re talking about the number of rooms under construction [nationwide], upscale is the No. 2 segment … with 60,000 rooms,” said Bobby Bowers, STR’s senior vice president of operations.

The fastest growing segment is called “upper midscale,” a category that includes Hampton Inn and Suites and also Fairfield Inn & Suites, which is coming to downtown Dallas next year, according to the hotel’s website.

The “upper midscale” segment is designed to appeal to a more budget conscious consumer.

STR places The Statler in the “upper upscale” segment.

In general, the STR categories correspond to price and amenities but there are nearly always deals to be found, especially during off-peak periods.

A spot check of room rates for Sunday, Oct. 22 showed the Hampton Inn had the lowest price per night, $159, with The Statler poised at about $200 a night depending on the view. The AC was $219 and the Residence Inn was $209.

Rate competition

When increased supply pours into a market, one of the big questions is what impact the new offerings will have on the overall room rates and occupancy rates in the area. More supply without a lot of new demand would mean lower rates.

STR figures show that between January and August of this year, the average price per night was $150.23, 0.1 percent lower than the same period a year ago in the central business district, which stretches from the Design District to the area around Baylor University Medical Center.

The occupancy rate was 69.5 percent, up by a scant 0.5 percent from a year ago.

Patel hopes to keep that number for decreasing by attracting new business customers, weddings and staycationers.

“We will draw from .. other parts of city, other parts of state,” said Patel. “There is demand shifting from Market Center and different parts of [DFW]. We will try to bring in more …business in downtown,” he said.

“Corporate customers would shift from different hotels,” he added. “Business shifts but there’s new demand also. People are moving into town, people are traveling.”

Some of those people, he hopes, work for Seattle-based Amazon, which set off a nationwide scramble among cities large and small in September when it announced plans to build a second headquarters, or HQ2.

Patel thinks North Texas can make a “compelling case.”

“We’re in the center of the states, low cost of doing business, land, there is opportunity,” he said.

Would that help his business? “Definitely.”

Twitter: @krobijake

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