Day 12: Stumbling upon hidden treasure

DSC02493Take a step in any direction in downtown Dallas, and the only way to find any sign of nature, is to look straight up — way up at the sky, slightly hazy from the tinge of smog lingering over the city. One would not expect to see the simple, delicate spirit of Mother Nature present in this jungle of glass and steel.

At the edge of downtown is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. The Katy Trail provides a tranquil acquaintance with nature to thousands of walkers, joggers, and other enthusiasts.

As part of a national “Rails to Trails” program, cities take defunct railroad lines and transform them into accessible nature pathways.

The Katy Trail in Dallas meanders away from the downtown areas and through University Park and Highland Park, near Southern Methodist University. It’s tastefully landscaped, incorporating native plant species that attract small creatures such as butterflies.

The trail, which was created from an abandoned rail line running from downtown Dallas through areas to the northernmost part of Dallas.  People run, walk, roller blade, and bicycle along this jewel of nature.

Along its footprint, the trail intersects several high traffic streets — the focus of today’s story.

We interviewed one doctor who said he has treated several patients for injuries sustained on the trail.  One instance involved a man being hit by a car.  We interviewed another patient who fractured his upper arm after a fall while exiting the trail.  Others complain of inadequate entrances and exits from the trail.

The intersection that we inspected was marked with a crosswalk, as well as signage indicating that pedestrians are given the right of way. Located on the sidewalk along the road are blinking caution lights. The caution signal on one direction of traffic is obscured by small trees planted in the sidewalk.

We spoke with people as they crossed the intersection on foot, who said they generally feel safe, however, more should be done to warn those behind the wheel.

It’s not a widespread problem, nor one that could threaten the existence of the Katy Trail, but some attention from local government is needed.

Today, we left the station not knowing which story we were going to cover, but needed to narrow it down to a package, and then decide what to do with the others. We learned a soldier from Frisco had been killed in Iraq and were in contact with the family, who understandably did not want to appear on camera at that time.

I was very interested in hearing David’s conversation with the sister of the soldier.  His foremost concern was to maintain the greatest amount of respect and sincerity in regards to the loss of a loved one.

He said that speaking with the family of a loved one is one of the most challenging things to do. You have to get information on the story from the source, but at the same time, you must approach the story with dignity and care. We spoke with the family to confirm the details, and a nice tribute to the soldier’s memory aired at 6 p.m.

The second news tip was about a man who was selling his personal belongings outside his high-rise apartment building. A woman had contacted the station, concerned about his well-being. After looking into the matter, we learned that he had not paid rent in over 5 months and was evicted. The man was not at the building when we arrived, so we moved on to the story about the Katy Trail.

David gave me tips on being efficient with a limited time frame. Today was a great example of the importance of being able to think on your feet, because a story can change significantly while you’re in the field.

So as week two comes to an end, I stand by my earlier assessment of WFAA Channel 8. The people are truly some of the finest journalists in the business and have been extremely warm and welcoming. Small graces and a generally pleasant attitude surely contributed to their success. There is so much to learn this summer, which I imagine will be difficult to soak up.

Tomorrow I’m set to work with reporter Chris Heinbaugh on election coverage of the mayor’s race. This should be a good blog post, so check it out.  Thanks for ending your week with me.  Good night friends!

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the corporation and employees of WFAA-TV, Belo Corp., or Northwestern State University. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2007 Lane Luckie

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