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BC-TX--Texas News Digest 1 pm, TX

December 24, 2018

Good afternoon! Here’s a look at AP’s general news coverage in Texas at this hour. Questions about coverage plans are welcome and should be directed to the Dallas AP at 972-991-2100, or, in Texas, 800-442-7189. Email: aptexas@ap.org

Reminder: This information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change. Expected stories may not develop, or late-breaking and more newsworthy events may take precedence. Advisories and digests will keep you up to date. All times are Central.

For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at newsroom.ap.org

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TOP STORIES:

CLOSED CHURCH-HOUSTON

HOUSTON _ During the Christmas season, the aromas of hot chocolate and tamales would mingle with sounds of mariachis and hymns praising Our Lady of Guadalupe within the walls of the nearly 80-year-old St. Stephen Catholic Church near downtown Houston. But since May 2016, the church has stood silent, surrounded by a chain-link fence after the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston ordered the building closed as St. Stephen parish was combined with a neighboring church. Some parishioners appealed, taking their case to Rome and the Vatican’s highest court, which in April ruled in their favor. Legal experts said such a ruling by the Vatican to reverse a decision to close or merge a parish is rare. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 800 words, with photos.

CHILD DEAD-US BORDER PATROL

SAN ANTONIO SECORTEZ, Guatemala _ The tiny white coffin carrying the body of the 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died while in U.S. custody ended its somber journey home in the pre-dawn hours Monday in a dusty hamlet 220 miles north of the capital. Villagers wept and watched curiously as the coffin arrived at the home of Jakelin Caal’s grandparents in San Antonio Secortez. Jakelin’s death earlier this month at a hospital in Texas, while in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol, was a tragic reminder of the plight of Central American migrants as they make their way through Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S., and came as Americans are deeply divided over U.S. President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration. By Sonia Perez D. SENT: 460 words, with photos.

AROUND THE STATE & NATION:

HOUSTON OFFICERS-CRASH

HOUSTON _ Two Houston police officers were hospitalized Monday, one in serious condition, after authorities say a drunken driver crashed into their patrol vehicle. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the officers were responding to a call early Monday with their SUV’s lights and sirens on when another vehicle turned in front of them, causing a near head-on collision. Acevedo says Officer Alonzo Reid, who was the passenger in the SUV, pulled himself to safety as the vehicle burst into flames. The chief says that Reid along with a passerby rescued the driver, Officer John Daily, from the burning SUV. The other driver wasn’t hurt and he was arrested for driving under the influence. SENT: 240 words.

WACO-TOURISM-HOTELS

WACO, Texas _ Hundreds of hotel rooms are being built in the Waco area amid the visitors’ boom associated with the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper” and other Central Texas attractions. The Waco Tribune-Herald reports officials with the Waco Convention Center predict nearly 1,300 rooms could become available in the next three years to host visitors to attractions such as the Cameron Park Zoo, the Dr Pepper Museum and Magnolia Market, another project of Waco-based “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines. UPCOMING: 250 words. Pursuing photos.

AMAZON-HQ2-NORTH CAROLINA

RALEIGH, N.C. _ North Carolina taxpayers may never learn how much in tax breaks, free land and other giveaways business recruiters were willing to throw at tech giants Apple and Amazon to attract thousands of jobs to the Raleigh area. Public records tracking the Amazon project and released by the state’s two corporate recruiting agencies exclude information on what was possibly the largest basket of corporate sweeteners in North Carolina history topping $2.4 billion. A North Carolina law to withhold details of failed business recruitment efforts was changed in 2014 just before public disclosures showed the state offered Toyota more than $100 million to move its North American headquarters to Charlotte, but lost out to Texas. By Emery P. Dalesio. SENT: 810 words, with photo.

MEDICAL DEBT ERASED

ALBANY, N.Y. _ Philip Sasser had a familiar, sinking feeling when he saw the yellow envelope in his mailbox. He figured it was another past-due medical bill, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. “I opened it up and it said these bills had been paid off,” said Sasser, of Milton, Florida. Sasser is among the lucky recipients of a letter from RIP Medical Debt, a Rye, New York-based nonprofit that uses money from donors to eliminate crushing medical debt. Reagan Adair, a fifth-grade teacher in Murchison, Texas, had $3,100 in debt erased by RIP. She was inspired to pay it forward by making a donation to help others struggling with medical bills. By Mary Esch. SENT: 740 words, with photos.

YE--STORY OF THE YEAR

The depths of Larry Nassar’s depravity began to emerge some 15 months before the calendar flipped to 2018 _ when reports of his sexual abuse first appeared in news stories that would eventually lead to a trial and, ultimately, to the doctor’s imprisonment. But it was January 2018, the month when more than 150 female athletes testified at Nassar’s sentencing hearing for convictions on child-porn and sex-abuse charges, that marked a turning point. Nassar’s crimes and the chaos they provoked _ massive turnover at Michigan State, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, to say nothing of trauma of the victims _ was the Story of the Year in balloting by AP members and editors. By Eddie Pells. SENT: 900 words, with photos. Moving on news & sports lines.

IN BRIEF:

_ BANK ROBBERY _ Two Texas men accused of robbing a North Carolina bank have been arrested in Oklahoma.

SPOT MEMBER EXCHANGE:

EXCHANGE-INMATES-REFURBISHED BICYCLES

DALLAS _ Dallas County inmate Eliza Zabaleta gushes when Roy Love, a detention services officer, places a small pink bicycle over a repair stand. The Dallas Morning News reports the handlebars are faded, and the tires with heart-shaped grooves look more gray than the original white. Zabaleta _ who was jailed in July on an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge _ studies the bike and starts her cleanup work. The Dallas County jail is no home for playthings. But in this room, men and women in jumpsuits transform discarded bikes into gifts for needy strangers in the outside world. By Julieta Chiquillo, The Dallas Morning News. SENT: 740 words, with photos. Not for online use in the Dallas area.

SPORTS REFER:

FBN--TEXANS-CLINCH

HOUSTON _ The Houston Texans clinched a playoff berth with Pittsburgh’s loss to New Orleans on Sunday to put them in the postseason for the fifth time in franchise history. But the already injury-riddled Texans likely lost receiver Demaryius Thomas for the season with an Achilles tendon injury and cornerback Kareem Jackson status for Sunday is unclear after injuring his knee in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia. By Kristie Rieken. 600 words, with photos.

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