Very Houston News

J.J. Watt Is Back in Houston ... Sort of

A is for animals and Astrodomes. Plus, some questionable parking.

By Emma Schkloven May 21, 2021

A lot of things happen each week in Houston. Sometimes they’re newsy, sometimes ... well, it’s Houston. We’ve collected some of the most interesting gems of the last seven days for your internet perusal. It’s Very Houston News.

Every Watt’s a Star

When you’re as amazing as forever Houstonian J.J. Watt, it’s inevitable you’ll have a few things named after you. But it’s not every day you get your own turtle. That’s exactly what happened earlier this month when Houston researchers with the Turtle Survival Alliance named a massive 131-pound alligator snapping turtle for the former Texan. (Yes, yes, this is supposed to be news of this week, but everyone knows it takes turtles a bit longer to get places.)

The amphibious Watt was captured and tagged (he was the 99th one catalogued … get it?) before being released back into the wild as part of a research project to save the species, which is endangered and, up until recently, was thought to no longer populate Buffalo Bayou.

Turtle J.J., who was returned to the water last week, will play a major role in revitalizing his turtle kind.

“The discovery of this robust population of alligator snapping turtles will go a long way with helping us bring awareness to the public on just how special the bayous are and how much they need to be protected,” Kelly Norrid, urban biologist of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which collaborates on the research project, shared in a press release.

See, all Watts are overachievers. But more importantly, turtle J.J. has already got a No. 1 fan in none other than his namesake, who tweeted out well wishes last week.

OG Watt may no longer live here (*sob*), but he’s clearly keeping up with the city’s most essential news.


Just when you thought the cries had died down, the ink on all the ill-fated tattoos had dried, and the dream might well and truly fade into oblivion, the Astrodome Conservancy announced a new initiative for saving Houston’s Eighth Wonder of the World, per the Houston Chronicle. Here we go again.

For two months, the nonprofit will seek community input to find out what exactly Houstonians want for their beloved Astrodome, it announced Thursday (if you’re interested, fill out this survey or attend one of the upcoming meetings). After that, the organization will craft and present a pitch to the Harris County Commissioners Court.

Which is all well and good, but everyone knows the hard sell will be paying for the likely massive renovation. The last plan fizzled when Lina Hidalgo replaced Ed Emmett, a staunch supporter of the Dome, as Harris County judge because the Dome's price tag turned out to be more than the approved $105 million. And the job’s likely to cost a pretty penny since the dilapidated building hasn’t seen an event since 2002 or an Astros game since 2000 (though it did go viral last week thanks to a surprise visit from 50 Cent).

Will this time around be any different? Who knows, but grab those peanuts and crackerjack, folks, cause there’s bound to be fireworks.

Drift Away

We knew Houston roads were dangerous, but this raises the bar to new (water) levels.

Following flash flood warning just before the crack of dawn Wednesday morning, a car was found on the White Oak Bayou trail … you know, the one designed for outdoorsy Houstonians to hike and bike along.

No driver was found when firefighters rescued the car (hopefully a good sign), so the vehicle may very well have been swept away by all the rushing water. But still.

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