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Top 10 State Parks listed by Texas Parks and Wildlife

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

With summer in full swing, Texas’ 89 state parks are expecting an influx of visitors. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently released the top 10 parks in terms of visitors. The top 10 in reverse order are, according to the Austin American-Statesman: 10. Ink Lakes State Park, Burnet County 9. Dinosaur Valley State Park, near Glen Rose in Somervell County 8. Brazos Bend State Park, Fort Bend County 7. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, between Fredericksburg and Llano 6. McKinney Falls State Park, Travis County 5. Ray Roberts State Park Isle du Bois, Denton County 4. Cedar Hill State Park, Dallas County 3. Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Sanger Unit, Denton County 2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Armstrong County And the top state park for visitors: Garner State Park, located in Uvalde County, which hosted more than 475,000 visitors in 2023.


Legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn would, if passed, establish a new resource center that would monitor threats to local judges and provide training for both judges and staff at state and local courts, The Dallas Morning News reported.

At a panel held recently at the University of North Texas law school, participating judges and prosecutors expressed support for the measure, which passed the Senate unanimously in mid-June and awaits consideration in the House.

A consultant for the nonprofit National Center for State Courts said attacks and threats against members of the federal judiciary increased 400% from 2015 through 2021. In Texas, security incidents involving local judiciary have increased four-fold on average since fiscal year 2017, though the number dropped slightly last fiscal year.

“This isn’t partisan. It’s just common sense,” Cornyn said during a news conference after the roundtable discussion.


A federal appeals court appears to have cleared the way for officials in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office to testify before a grand jury probing alleged corruption, the Houston Chronicle reported.

While the case before the 5th Circuit of Appeals remains under seal, last week the court last rejected an unnamed state agency’s attempt to stymie federal investigators from calling top officials.

While the case is under seal, the Chronicle reported, “the dates and details line up with those in the years-long federal probe into allegations by Paxton's former top deputies, who say the attorney general took bribes to benefit Nate Paul, an Austin developer who is a friend and donor of Paxton’s.”

The court said that the AG officials may have evidence of a potential crime, and that the Department of Justice can invoke the “crime-fraud exception” to get around potential attorney- client privileges.

Paxton did not respond to requests for comment.

FEWER STUDENTS SEEK FINANCIAL AID AFTER FAFSA GLITCHES Nearly 30,000 fewer Texas students have filled out the federal form this year to apply for financial aid after a new rollout was beset with complications and delays, the Texas Tribune reported.

A revamped Free Application for Federal Student Aid has resulted in hurdles that have led to fewer highschool students seeking financial aid for college, with FAFSA completion rates for Texas students dropping by 8.8 percentage points. That decline is sharper than what the state experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These are by far the steepest declines that I have observed,” said Bill DeBaun, the senior director of data and strategic initiatives at the National College Attainment Network. “It's going to take a really significant push this summer to continue to connect students with the FAFSA completion support they need and keep them on track for the post-secondary pathways to which they aspire.”

The U.S. Education Department was ordered by Congress to revamp FAFSA in 2020 to make it simpler to fill out, but the new form’s release came out three months late, cutting the time high school counselors had to help students with the form. Glitches were reported by many students attempting to complete the form, The Tribune reported. ABBOTT APPOINTS NEW PUC MEMBER Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Courtney Hjaltman to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, filling the final vacancy on that board. The PUC regulates the state’s utility industries — electric, water, wastewater, and telecommunications.

Hjaltman has been chief executive and public counsel for the Office of Public Utility Counsel since December 2022. She has worked in state service for more than 17 years.

“Courtney Hjaltman's longtime service to the State of Texas and extensive legal expertise makes her the ideal choice to serve on the Public Utility Commission,” Abbott said.

FIRE SAFETY URGED FOR FOURTH With the Fourth of July bringing a possible fourday weekend for lucky Texans, the Texas A&M Forest Service urges outdoor enthusiasts to exercise fire safety outdoors, especially when using fireworks or starting campfires to roast hot dogs and toast marshmallows.

Approximately 90% of wildfires are caused by humans and their activities, and the Fourth of July is one of the top days for reported wildfires, according to the forest service.

Large wildfires generally are not expected, and none are prevalent currently, but north and northeast Texas has received little to no rainfall since early June. That reduces moisture content and increases the potential for wildfires to start.

“As we start to observe typical summer weather with conditions becoming hotter and drier, we anticipate wildfire activity to increase,” said forest service chief Wes Moorehead. “State and local firefighters are prepared to respond quickly, but we need Texans to be careful and prevent wildfire ignitions while conditions are hot and dry.”

Anyone considering using fireworks is urged to comply with any burn bans in place, follow the warning labels on fireworks, use only under close adult supervision and keep them away from structures, dry grass and brush.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666