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Sanger officials confirm those killed in weekend crash were all teens
  • Updated

Sanger officials Monday afternoon confirmed that all of the occupants in a vehicle that crashed over the weekend while fleeing from police were teenage boys — with the three who were killed being ages 14, 15 and 16.

The collision happened around 5:30 a.m. Sunday after Sanger police spotted a pickup connected to burglary attempts earlier in the night. Donna Green, a spokesperson for the city of Sanger, confirmed there were five people in the car when it hit a tree.

She confirmed the deceased boys are 14, 15 and 16 years old. The two survivors are the 14-year-old driver and an 18-year-old passenger who is still in a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

“None of them are from Sanger, but they’re all from North Texas,” Green said Monday afternoon. “At least one of them had ties to Sanger. That’s why they were here.”

Green said authorities have reached out to the next of kin for the deceased. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office hadn’t identified the three who died by Monday afternoon.

Fifth Street was closed between Austin Street and First Baptist Church because of the crash. Police were in the area responding to a report that multiple people in a vehicle were attempting to break into other cars.

Green said Sunday that the people took off when police spotted them in a white Ford extended cab truck in the 300 block of North Fifth Street. According to a news release, police attempted to stop the truck, and the driver fled, eventually losing control and crashing into a tree in the 700 block of South Fifth Street, less than half a mile away.

“[The pursuit] was not very long at all,” Green said. “Once officers spotted them, they went to pursue, and [the crash] happened almost immediately.”

Green said she didn’t know yet what type of criminal charge the survivors released from the hospital will face, if any. The crash is still under investigation.

Gridlock expected as 12% more travelers will hit roads and skies for Thanksgiving

As many drivers are expected to be on the road this Thanksgiving — including in Denton County — as before the COVID-19 pandemic, with 3.9 million Texans predicted to travel over the holiday, an increase of 12% from last year.

AAA said with 6.4 million more people traveling across the U.S. for Thanksgiving, in addition to the recent reopening of U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international travelers, people should be prepared for crowded roads and airports.

Air travel across Texas will be up from 2020, with 230,000 people planning to travel by plane for Thanksgiving. Air travel has almost completely recovered from the hit it took during the pandemic, with it now up 80% from last year. Additionally, 50,000 Texans will be traveling by bus, train or cruise, an increase of 258%, as many of these travel options have reopened.

Angela Jaimes, a sophomore at the University of North Texas, said she plans on flying to Houston for Thanksgiving to see her family.

“I’m actually flying because every time I drive, it ends up being an eight-hour trip,” Jaimes said. “I’m flying to avoid traffic or bad weather or anything, and leaving a bit late at night so the airport isn’t too full.”

In total, 3.6 million Texans will travel by automobile, the most popular and preferred mode of travel. In collaboration with AAA, INRIX, a private company that gives location-based analytics, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion going into the holiday weekend due to commuters leaving work early and holiday travelers mixing in with each other.

“I am going home for Thanksgiving by car, and I expect there to be a lot of traffic because I’m leaving during work rush-hour traffic,” said Emily Manard, a Denton restaurant employee.

Major metro areas across the U.S. could possibly see more than double the delays compared to typical drive times, with drivers traveling in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City expected to have more than three times the delays.

INRIX found that the best times to travel for Thanksgiving week are on Wednesday after 9 p.m. and before 11 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. For the weekend, it is best to travel before noon.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, AAA expects to respond to about 17,000 calls for help along Texas roadways. For those traveling by car, the AAA suggests getting a car inspection to check the fuel system, tires, brakes, battery and fluid levels.

AAA booking data saw that tropical destinations and big cities, both domestically and abroad, are at the top of traveler lists this Thanksgiving, including Dallas-Fort Worth.

The actual number of holiday travelers could fluctuate as Thanksgiving approaches, AAA acknowledged. If there is a reported increase of COVID-19 cases, some people may choose to stay home, while others may see the increasing number of vaccinations and make last-minute travel plans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its holiday gathering and travel-related recommendations, stating the best way to prevent COVID-19 risks while traveling is to get vaccinated if eligible and to delay travel until you are.

The Denton Police Department said it has no plans to increase patrols for the week of Thanksgiving, but more officers will be patrolling around busy shopping areas for Black Friday and around the holidays in general.

Police encourage drivers to watch their speed and to pay attention while behind the wheel. They also advise drivers to take it easy and not get worked up over heavy traffic.

Checking in with Sen. Jane Nelson
  • 3 min to read

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first appeared in the November/December 2021 edition of Denton County magazine.

Sen. Jane Nelson announced in July that she will not run again in 2022, saying her 10th term will be her last. The highest-ranking Republican in the state Senate answered Denton County magazine’s questions about her long public service as well as her personal life.

Q: Tell us more about your decision not to run again.

A: It has been a great honor to serve in the Texas Senate, and I’ve loved every minute. However, a former colleague once told me you’ll know when it’s time, and it’s time to pass the torch. We just completed a successful session. I successfully carried the past four state budgets and am going out on a high note.

In your long legislative career, what lessons have you learned about representing your constituents?

I have stuck to a fairly simple set of principles. Listen. Work hard. Get results. I strived to keep to that formula throughout my career, and I think that’s why my constituents kept sending me back to Austin to represent their values and priorities.

Constituents sometimes do not understand the reality of what goes on in Austin. How do you handle that?

Communication. I read every letter and email that arrives in my office, and try to respond in a manner that helps people understand why certain bills are advancing and others are not. It’s challenging because the items that get the most attention are usually the most controversial, when in reality the Legislature agrees far more often than it disagrees.

Discuss your greatest successes as an elected representative.

As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I have been working throughout the pandemic to make sure we have the resources necessary to protect Texans — and preparing for what we all anticipated would be an extremely difficult budget situation. To have that budget pass unanimously this session was special — and a testament to the resiliency of Texas. I am proud to have passed over 30 bills to support victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Perhaps most of all, I will look back on my efforts to establish the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, which has led to major breakthroughs in the effort to find cures and treatments for cancer.

What are you still working on that you consider important?

I am preparing to file SB 2, which will replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust fund and hold businesses harmless for any pandemic-related layoffs and prevent any increase in unemployment taxes. I am also working on the broader plan to appropriate over $16 billion in federal pandemic relief.

What would you like to change about election laws?

We passed legislation in the special session that will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Texas elections. It expands early voting hours, allows voters to track their mail-in ballots and requires employers to allow employees to leave work in order to cast their ballots. After every election, it is important to review lessons learned and consider ways to encourage more people to vote — and to ensure that voters can trust that their vote counts and is not canceled out by a fraudulent vote.

Courtesy photo/Sen. Jane Nelson 

State Sen. Jane Nelson is shown in an undated photo with her family.

How have you managed your family while being an elected representative?

When I first ran for office, my kids were in elementary school. In my first campaign I would load them up in the Suburban and take them with me campaigning in the rural parts of my first district. We usually set up shop at the local Dairy Queen. They grew up thinking that this was normal. I also have a very patient husband and an outstanding staff, which helps. I tell women who are considering a run for office that the timing is never going to be perfect. I also point out that my male colleagues are rarely asked how they balance being a father and an elected official. So to women who want to serve in public office, go for it. You can make it work.

Discuss your future. What do you foresee for yourself?

I’m not done. There is more I want to accomplish. This not a retirement. It’s just time to find a new way to make a difference. I will continue to serve Texas and work in other ways to make the world a better place. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Do you have any parting words for your constituents?

I truly believe we live in the greatest state in the greatest nation on the planet. I know I’m biased, but I believe I’ve been blessed to represent the greatest district in the state.

For more information, visit JaneNelson.org.

Like what you just read? For similar content, subscribe to Denton County magazine, online at DentonCountyMagazine.com or by emailing info@DentonCountyMagazine.com.

Builders plan rental home community off Loop 288 in Denton

Two Arizona builders plan to break ground next year on single-family home rental communities in Denton and Celina.

Christopher Todd Communities and Taylor Morrison Home Corp. earlier this year partnered on their first rental house neighborhood in Grand Prairie.

Taylor Morrison — which builds for-sale housing across North Texas — serves as developer and builder in the rental home joint venture, and Christopher Todd Communities provides community design and management.

The Denton rental community is planned to have 316 single-story homes located near Loop 288 and Elm Street. Construction is set to start on the project next year.

The Denton community will have one- and two-bedroom houses ranging from about 750 to 1,050 square feet.

In Celina, the builders plan 264 rent homes in the Cross Creek Meadows community being built east of Preston Road by Corson Cramer Development. Taylor Morrison builds homes for sale in this same community.

The Celina rental community will include houses as large as three bedrooms with 1,250 square feet. A second-quarter groundbreaking is set.

“Taylor Morrison is excited to begin development of two more best-in-class single-story for-rent communities that offer a vastly different living experience than traditional apartment living,” Taylor Morrison’s Darin Rowe said in a statement.

The new rental home communities will include private backyards, swimming pools, fitness centers and dog parks.

“Christopher Todd was an early innovator in the build-to-rent luxury living niche,” Todd Wood, CEO of Christopher Todd Communities, said in a statement. “Our strategic partnership with Taylor Morrison allows us to deliver the experience to more people in new markets where the demand is strong.”

The Denton land sale was brokered by David Davidson Jr., Edward Bogel and Ryan Turner of Davidson & Bogel Real Estate.

Taylor Morrison and Todd Communities are working on other rental home projects in Arizona, North Carolina and Florida.

The 650- to 993-square-foot Grand Prairie rental houses near Interstate 20 will be ready late next year.

Christopher Todd Communities is based in Mesa, Arizona, and has about a dozen rental home developments in that state. Homes in the Arizona communities range in price from less than $1,500 a month for the smallest one-bedroom unit to more than $3,000 for the larger homes.

Christopher Todd and Taylor Morrison are just one of the builders expanding their offerings in the rental home market in North Texas.

Dozens of rental home communities are under construction or planned in North Texas with thousands of houses not intended for sale.

The houses are aimed at residents who can’t afford to purchase a home but want a traditional home lifestyle.

Dallas-Fort Worth builders started 2,786 rental homes in the 12 months ending in September, according to Dallas-based housing analysts Residential Strategies.