5 things to know: Wednesday

5 things to know: Wednesday

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UPDATE: 20-year-old homicide victim identified by LSO

Sheriff's Investigators identified a murder victim found behind a house near East 2nd and Peach.

20-year-old Katrina Castillo's body was in the back yard of a home found by the homeowners.

No cause of death has been released.

If you know anything about Castillo's death, call the Sheriff's Office (806) 775-1400.


LP&L move to ERCOT could pave the way for green energy

Lubbock Power and Light's proposed move to ERCOT could make way for more green energy and environmental protection.

Texas Tech political scientist Robert Forbis said the Energy Reliability Council of Texas's portfolio includes a lot more alternative energy sources than most other providers.

The council's business plan allows consumers to choose different providers within ERCOT, so if you're in a high density area you could get up to 300 different choices.

Forbis said a recent study suggests a vast majority of Lubbock citizens want green energy, but getting it is going to be tricky.

"The current grid could handle it, but it's going to take some finessing," he said. "Those problematic surges that we have with wind, as well as hydro or any other resource for that matter: if you turn the volume up too loud, then it's too loud and your ears can't handle it and the line can't handle it."

Forbis said his department will expand a study into whether consumers want renewable energy nationwide.

He said that will help steer policy making when it comes to energy, including the government's investments away from fossil fuels.


Crumbling rural healthcare system affecting expecting mothers

It is a problem with colossal implications. 

Access to healthcare in rural America is dwindling. Texas providers, if they have not already closed their doors, are reducing the number of options being provided due to an increased financial strain.

It is a problem hospital administrators across West Texas are trying to deal with. Of the 163 rural hospitals in Texas, only 70 still have labor and delivery units. Around the South Plains there are only a handful that still offer these delivery services.

The latest to shut its unit down is The Medical Arts Hospital in Lamesa, TX.

Steve Beck, Senior VP at Covenant Health and rural healthcare expert, said these closures leave a vacuum for expecting mothers and often means they will have to drive long distances for care. 

This is a problem the Muleshoe Area Medical Center faces. Its labor and delivery unit closed about a decade ago. Mothers will still come in though after they are not able to make the journey to Lubbock.

Muleshoe, like many others, quit delivering babies due to the rising costs. 

These closures are likely just cracks in a quickly crumbling system though.This bind comes from rural hospitals simply not getting reimbursed by its largest population of patients. 

There is not an easy fix for this problem either. It is a multi-tiered problem that will likely take law makers overhauling the entire system and it should begin with funding. 


Recovering from DOW's downfall

The DOW's 1,175 point implosion on Monday was the biggest decline in a single day ever. Some financial planners are optimistic about the decline.

Although most experts thought that the drop was good for the market, some of them, including CEO and Chairman of First Bank and Trust Barry Orr, were confused. 

 "There's no reason for that market to be dropping like it is, I think it's a correction," Orr said. " There's probably been a little bit of exuberance in that market, but when you look at all of the corporate reports and corporate earnings coming out, everyone is paying record dividends. You're seeing earnings unlike any that you've seen before."

Experts said a four percent loss isn't historic, or economy breaking. In the long term, we're still far away from another recession. 

"This is not 2008. There is so much liquidity in the market on balance sheets across the country. Earnings and pipelines are strong, Manufacturing is increasing, all components are increasing," Orr said. 

Despite the precipitous drop, the DOW average is still up 21 percent over the past year. 


Lawmakers try to push through fifth short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown

The House approved a fifth short-term spending bill in a row to fund most of the government through late March.

From here, this bill will go to the Senate. Senate leaders are expected to change it - and the house would have to vote on those changes before Thursday night to avoid another shutdown. 

Republicans place the blame on democrats for the failure to reach a long-term agreement.

"I will remind you that the only reason we do not have a full budget agreement is because democrats continue to hold funding for our government hostage on an unrelated issue," said Rep. Paul Ryan, (R) House Speaker.

That issue is immigration, specifically, an agreement to protect so-called 'dreamers' from possible deportation.  Twenty-or-so senators have already been meeting daily, preparing for a future immigration deal. Even so, President Trump is prepared for a future fight.

 "If we don't get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed into our country and continue to kill, gang members, if we don't change it, let's have a shutdown," President Trump said. "We'll do a shutdown."

Both houses of Congress appear to be working to avoid that outcome both this week and beyond.  Aides from both parties in the Senate and House say there is little to no chance of a government shutdown this week.

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