Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Lawmakers, scientists seek millions more to study cause of earthquakes

The TexNet system will include 22 permanent seismographs.
The TexNet system will include 22 permanent seismographs. Texas Bureau of Economic Geology

Researchers studying what’s been making the earth move below our feet are seeking $3.4 million from Texas lawmakers to continue operating a network of seismographs installed over the past two years.

In 2015, Texas lawmakers approved $4.5 million for the comprehensive network known as TexNet following a string of temblors in North Texas, the largest being a 4.0-magnitude event near Venus and Mansfield that May. Of that, $2.47 million was designated for equipment and $2 million to study the results.

Scott Tinker, the state geologist and director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, says the bureau is now seeking about $3.4 million for TexNet for the next biennium to continue its groundbreaking research. Lawmakers and scientists wanted to determine if the tremors are naturally occurring or can be linked to oil and gas production.

“It is to operate and maintain [the system], which takes a lot of field time,” Tinker said. A completed TexNet system will include 22 permanent seismographs and 33 devices out in the field at any time. Another three seismographs are going to be held back to respond as particular situations arise, he said.

Although Tinker and others say TexNet enjoys widespread support — a 12-company consortium called the Center for Integrated Seismic Research is prepared to spend $1.8 million to support it — the geological bureau is based at the University of Texas at Austin, and higher education funding is a hot-button issue.

“Until the end of May, everything is worrisome,” Tinker said, referring to the time when the Legislature adjourns.

So far, funding for TexNet exists in House and Senate budget language, but the budgets need to go to a conference committee where differences will be resolved. In the House budget plan, the bureau is a special line item, while in the Senate version, the money was plugged into the overall university funding formula.

State Rep. Drew Darby, chairman of the powerful House Energy Resources Committee, said it doesn’t make sense to spend millions of dollars to gather data and then not fund the research. But he said there are folks he described as budget vultures who “look to pick apart what they consider to be nonessential services.”

“We have to fund the BEG and fund the science in order to evaluate the data that the TexNet system gathers,” Darby said. “I happen to think that this TexNet system is a very important service to the public and to our regulatory entities so we can protect public health and safety.

“We need to address this head on with an appropriation in the budget,” the San Angelo Republican said.

By March, scientists had installed 14 of the 22 permanent seismographs and an additional 15 portable stations.

New name for Woodhaven banks

Eight area offices of Woodhaven Bank, which was acquired by Nebraska-based Pinnacle Bank in 2015, will open their doors under their new parent’s name Monday.

In addition to offices in Fort Worth, Rhome and Colleyville, the bank offices include Mercantile Bank, Ridglea Bank and Mansfield Community Bank. All will become Pinnacle Bank.

“We look forward to working with customers as Pinnacle Bank,” said Ron Casey, chairman and CEO of Woodhaven Bank, which has operated under that name since 1983. “Our customers remain our top priority, and they will continue to receive the same quality service they know and expect from us.”

With the name changes, Pinnacle Bank, Texas, will have will have 21 branches in Arlington, Azle, Benbrook, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Fort Worth, Joshua, Keene, Mansfield, Rhome and Springtown.

Ojos Locos heading to Arlington

Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, the Latin-themed sports bar famous for its balones of beer and sultry waitresses, has leased space in the heart of Arlington’s growing sports district.

The sports bar will move into a former El Fenix at 1620 E. Copeland Road, positioning it in the shadows of AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, and Globe Life Park, where the Texas Rangers opened the 2017 season Monday.

The new location for Ojos Locos will also be close to Texas Live!, a $250 million entertainment and dining complex that is slated to debut in 2018, a couple of years before the new $1 billion Rangers stadium opens.

Ojos Locos opened its first sports bar in 2010 in Dallas, and has since added seven locations, including one in downtown Fort Worth in 2011. That location has been the subject of closure or relocation rumors for some time. In January, CVS pharmacy filed a permit to build in the Ojos Locos space at 515 Houston St.

A manager said Thursday that the Fort Worth bar is still open and has no immediate plans to close or move.

No word yet on when the Arlington Ojos Locos will open, but an application for a liquor license has been filed. Rick Press

Four Payless shoe stores close

Payless ShoeSource stores in Fort Worth, Arlington, Weatherford and Roanoke were among 400 to close after the Kansas-based retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week.

According to a closing list posted by the company, the local stores shutting down are located at Beach Street Commons, 3869 Maurice Ave., in Fort Worth; 2500 E. Pioneer Parkway in Arlington; Weatherford Commons, 1940 S. Main St., in Weatherford; and Roanoke Crossing Shops, 1224 N. U.S. 377 in Roanoke.

Founded in 1956, Payless ShoeSource has over 4,400 stores in more than 30 countries, including five in Fort Worth, three each in Arlington and Hurst, and others in Watauga, Burleson, Mansfield, Lake Worth and Cleburne.

In all, Payless will close 66 stores in Texas, including other locations in Mineral Wells, Dallas, Plano, Irving, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko