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Top Morning Stories April 20, 2011

Photo by SSG Malcolm McClendon.
Flames destroy property near Possum Kingdom Lake. Texas National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters were launched out of the Austin Army Aviation Support Facility to help fight the wildfires in North Texas.

Wildfires Continue to Burn Near Fort Worth

Wildfires burning west of Fort Worth have destroyed nearly 150 homes and one church.  The Texas Forest Service says evacuations have been ordered near Possum Kingdom Lake, including the evacuation of a jail.  Two Texas Army National Guard Blackhawk Helicopters are among the resources being used.  These wildfires west of Fort Worth have burned nearly 150,000 acres.

The Texas Forest Service says it responded to 11 new smaller fires yesterday.  And firefighters are still working to contain at least 20 other wildfires across the state.

NRG Exiting Nuclear Expansion in South Texas

Japan’s nuclear troubles appear to have put the brakes on the expansion of a nuclear plant in South Texas. NRG Energy has announced it’s not investing any more money to add two new reactors to the South Texas Project it partly owns in Matagorda County.  NRG has been investing in the expansion over the past five years. 

The company says the uncertainties created by the Japan incident make it impossible to justify any more spending.  Austin Energy co-owns 16 percent of the South Texas Project’s existing nuclear units.  NRG had approached the city to possibly buy power from the two proposed reactors.

AISD Expanding Dual Language Program

The Austin Independent School District is expanding its dual language programs to two more elementary schools.  That will bring the total number of schools offering dual language education in AISD to six starting this fall.  Here are more details from the district's release:

Sunset Valley and Travis Heights elementary schools will join Becker, Ridgetop, Perez, and Wooten elementaries in offering the program for students in Pre-Kindergarten through first grade.  “Two-Way” Dual Language Program supports two language groups (English and Spanish) in becoming bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural in both languages. For example, an equal number of Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students would learn in both languages.