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Fortune advises readers to not let Wylie’s “picturesque, historic downtown fool you.” And for good reason. The magazine hails the North Texas city as “a fast-growing, modern community that doesn’t skimp on the amenities.”

Thanks in large part to those amenities, Fortune puts Wylie at No. 2 on its list of the 25 best places in the U.S. for families to live. Ann Arbor, Michigan, takes the top spot.

In recognizing Wylie, the magazine cites the city’s well-above-average public schools, numerous facilities for older residents, and events such as the Bluegrass on Ballard festival and Wylie 500 Pedal Car Race.

"With its start as a stop on the Santa Fe Railway in the 1880s, Wylie has always been a gathering place," the magazine writes. "In fact, because shops stayed open late to accommodate the railway visitors and business, one of the town’s nicknames became 'Wide-Awake Wylie.' The historic downtown continues that tradition of community today..."

Fortune lists the median home price in Wylie as $399,838 and the median household income as $96,845. The booming suburb is home to nearly 60,000 residents. It now stretches across Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties.

To come up with its ranking, Fortune combed through mounds of data for almost 2,000 communities in the U.S.

The only other Texas city in the top 25 is the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, ranked 17th.

“Residents have a sweet spot for this Houston suburb that brings the community together through its lively downtown hub, local events, and even a ball game or two,” Fortune says.

Among other highlights, Fortune notes Sugar Land’s “outstanding schools,” the Sugar Land Space Cowboys minor-league baseball team, Sugar Land Town Square, and high-quality health care at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital.

In Sugar Land, the median home price is $399,250 and the median household income is $121,665, according to Fortune. The suburb is home to around 110,000 people.

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2 distinguished Dallas high schools sit at head of the class as Texas' best in 2022

A+ rating

Two campuses in Dallas have earned extra credit as the best high schools in Texas.

In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented & Gifted tops the list of the state’s best public high schools, and St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas leads the list of the state’s best private high schools. Both schools ranked first on their respective Niche lists last year.

“Some of the biggest decisions that parents face have to do with their children’s education,” Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release. “We strive to put as much power in their hands as possible so they can make informed decisions with confidence.”

Other Dallas-Fort Worth public high schools in the state’s top 10 this year are Dallas ISD’s School of Science & Engineering (No. 3) and Carroll ISD’s Carroll High School (No. 7).

Aside from St. Mark’s, three other DFW schools appear in the top 10 for the state’s best private high schools: Greenhill School in Addison (No. 3), The Hockaday School in Dallas (No. 5), and Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving (No. 8).

Meanwhile, DFW school districts dominated Niche’s list of the top 10 school districts in Texas:

  • Carrollton ISD in Carrollton, No. 3
  • Lovejoy ISD in Addison, No. 5
  • Coppell ISD, No. 6
  • Frisco ISD, No. 7
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, No 8
  • Highland Park ISD, No. 9
  • Prosper ISD, No. 10

Niche says that while traditional rankings rely heavily on metrics like test scores and academic performance, its rankings combine ratings from current students, alumni, and parents with data from the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate teachers, resources, facilities, extracurricular activities and more.

Here’s how other Texas schools and school districts fared in this year’s Niche rankings.

Austin area

  • Austin ISD’s Liberal Arts & Science Academy, No. 2 among public high schools
  • Eanes ISD’s Westlake High School, No. 6 among public high schools
  • Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High IB World School, No. 8 among public high schools
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, No. 4 among private high schools
  • Eanes ISD, No. 1 among best school districts

Houston area

  • Houston ISD’s Carnegie Vanguard High School, No. 4 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Debakey High School for Health Professions, No. 5 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, No. 9 among public high schools
  • Katy ISD’s Seven Lakes High School, No. 10 among public high schools
  • The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, No. 6 among private high schools
  • The Village School in Houston, No. 7 among private high schools
  • The Kincaid School in Houston, No. 10 among private high schools

San Antonio area

  • Keystone School in San Antonio, No. 9 among private high schools
  • BASIS Texas Charter Schools in San Antonio, No. 4 among school districts

Rio Grande Valley

  • South Texas ISD in Mercedes, No. 2 among school districts
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These Texas cities roll out the welcome mat as America's most polite places

That's nice

Texas is considered a pretty nice and friendly. After all, our interstate welcome signs encourage folks to "drive friendly - the Texas way."

Language-learning app Preply surveyed more 1,500 residents of the country’s largest metropolitan areas to determine which cities are home to the politest people and the rudest people. Texas' own capital city of Austin topped the list of the polite cities (or, put another way, the least rude ones).

“From our results, it seems that Austinites enjoy a laid-back, friendly city atmosphere, even as the city continues to grow rapidly,” Preply observes. “In general, the state of Texas has a reputation for politeness and friendliness, along with the rest of the South, underscoring the stereotype of Southern hospitality. It makes sense that five of the most polite U.S. cities are concentrated in the Lone Star State.”

Several other Texas cities did well on the list.

Fort Worth (where being "Fort Worth nice" is a real sentiment) comes in at No. 3 nationally. Dallas is farther down the list, at No. 15 (tied with Charlotte, North Carolina).

El Paso appears at No. 13 on the nice list, with San Antonio at No. 14.

Joining Austin and Fort Worth in the top five on the list of the politest cities are:

  • San Diego, No. 2
  • Nashville, No. 4
  • Indianapolis, No. 5

At the top of Preply’s ranking of the rudest cities is Philadelphia. Houston lands at No. 10.

Preply’s list of the most polite cities differs from one published earlier this year by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. The publication’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey crowned Greenville, South Carolina, as the friendliest city in the U.S., with San Antonio at No. 4 and Austin at No. 10.

Meanwhile, a list released last year by Airbnb placed Austin at No. 7, Dallas at No. 9, and San Antonio at No. 10 among the country’s most hospitable cities.

Dallas Love Field

Dallas Love Field lands No. 3 ranking among best large airports in U.S.

Airport news

Dallas Love Field flies to the top of a new ranking of the best major airports in Texas.

Nationally, Love Field ranks third in the large-airport category of J.D. Powers’ 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. With a score of 825 on a 1,000-point scale, Love Field nails down the highest finish among the six Texas airports included in the study.

Love Field is preceded on the large-airport list by Tampa International Airport in Florida (846) and John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California (826).

“Providing a first-rate customer experience is, without question, our No. 1 goal,” Mark Duebner, aviation director for the City of Dallas, said in a 2021 news release issued by Love Field.

The J.D. Power study measures overall traveler satisfaction with mega, large, and midsize North American airports by examining six factors: terminal facilities; airport arrivals and departures; baggage claim; security check; check-in and baggage check; and food, beverage, and retail.

The study is based on survey responses from 26,529 U.S. and Canadian residents who had traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport in the previous 30 days.

Among the six Texas airports featured in the study, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — the world’s second busiest airport — lands at No. 5 (score of 778) statewide. On the list of mega airports, DFW appears at No. 8, with Minneapolis-Saint Paul International claiming the top spot.

“At DFW, we continue on a path forward that prioritizes the customer’s journey, operational excellence, and a culture that welcomes all to North Texas,” Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW, said in an April news release.

Here’s how the four other Texas airports fared in the J.D. Power study:

  • Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, No. 2 in Texas and No. 8 among large airports (score of 803)
  • San Antonio International Airport, No. 3 in Texas and No. 9 among large airports (score of 802)
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, No. 4 in Texas and No. 15 among large airports (score of 785)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston, No. 6 in Texas and No. 16 among mega airports (score of 758)

J.D. Power says overall satisfaction with North American airports fell 25 points to 777 in the new study.

“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage, and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated — and it is likely to continue through 2023,” says Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

Photo by Sean Pavone/iStock

Dallas ranks No. 14 best city in U.S., says prestigious new report

Towering above

According to a new report, Dallas is one of America's best. A new study from Best Cities, powered by Resonance Consultancy, puts Dallas at No. 14 among the best cities in the U.S.

What lifts Dallas to the No. 14 spot? These are some of the factors cited by Best Cities:

  • Location of more than 10,000 corporate headquarters
  • Strong showing (No. 2) in the airport connectivity category
  • Kudos for the soon-to-be-expanded Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center Dallas
  • Home of the country’s sixth largest LGBTQ+ community
  • Presence of the 28-block, 68-acre Dallas Arts District

"It’s not only city sloganeering that’s big in Dallas. It’s economic reality," the report says. "'Big Things Happen Here' can refer to any one of investment, population growth, or cultural ascent in The Big D."

Best Cities bases its list of the best U.S. cities on Resonance Consultancy’s combination of statistical performance plus qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors. Those figures are grouped into six main categories. This year’s ranking features 100 U.S. cities. To come up with the ranking, Resonance Consultancy assessed all U.S. metro areas with at least 500,000 residents.

Austin is right behind Dallas, at No. 15, and Houston comes out slightly ahead, at No. 11. Two other Texas cities make the Best Cities list: No. 34 San Antonio and No. 94 McAllen.

Here are some of the individual rankings that contribute to Houston’s 11th-place finish:

  • No. 4 for restaurants
  • No. 7 for culture
  • No. 8 for foreign-born population

“Educated, diverse and hard-working, Houston is America’s stealthy powerhouse on the rise,” Best Cities proclaims.

Best Cities also notes that while Austin grabs much of the best-city attention, “the promise of the Lone Star State drawing Californians and New Yorkers is quietly being fulfilled in Houston.” The website points out that the Houston metro area has gained nearly 300,000 residents in the past year, thanks to both domestic and international migration.

Best Cities praises Austin as “a place that’s incredibly livable. Talk to any entrepreneur leaving Silicon Valley or Seattle and chances are they’ve considered Austin.”

The website points to a number of Austin’s assets, such as:

  • Growing presence of Fortune 500 headquarters
  • Comparatively low unemployment rate
  • Location of the University of Texas’ flagship campus
  • Status as the Live Music Capital of the World
  • Home of the annual SXSW gathering

So, which U.S. city tops the rest? That honor goes to New York.

"After a hellish two years, few places on the planet are as ready to relaunch as NYC," they say.

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Dallas-Fort Worth saddled with 5th highest inflation rate in U.S., says new study

Feeling the pain

By now you’ve heard plenty about the nine-letter word that’s on everybody’s mind these days — inflation. This reflects a rise in prices, for everything from gas and groceries and cars to health care, coupled with a decline in buying power.

In August, the U.S. inflation rate stood at 8.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from a four-decade high of 9.1 percent in June. For Dallas-Fort Worth consumers, though, inflation remains above either of those marks. And it turns out DFW is saddled with one of the highest inflation rates among major U.S. metro areas.

DFW’s inflation rate in August settled at 9.4 percent, according to a new study from personal finance website WalletHub. This means prices for a host of goods and services climbed 9.4 percent from August 2021 to this August. Meanwhile, DFW’s inflation rate went up 1 percent in August compared with the previous two months.

Taking into account the short-term and long-term spikes in DFW’s inflation rate, the region ranked fifth on WalletHub’s list of the metro areas where inflation is increasing the most. In all, 23 major metro areas appear in the ranking.

The Phoenix area ranks first. Its inflation rate in August reached 13 percent, the highest rate of any metro area in the WalletHub study. The short-term change in the inflation rate was 0.80 percent.

The only other Texas metro on the list is Houston, which sits at No. 10. In the Houston metro area, the inflation rate jumped 9.5 percent from August 2021 to this August, and the near-term inflation rate inched up by 0.10 percent.

WalletHub points out that several factors are pushing up the inflation rate, including the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukrainian war, and labor shortages.

“The government is hoping to continue to rein in inflation with additional aggressive interest rate hikes this year, but exactly how much of an effect that will have remains to be seen,” WalletHub notes.

John Harvey, a professor of economics at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, tells WalletHub that he believes hiking interest rates is a bad approach to easing inflation.

“There is no logical reason that lowering the overall level of economic activity (the goal of the higher interest rates) actually helps in situations like this. Furthermore, the only kind of inflation it could possibly address is the good kind,” Harvey says.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Top-ranked high schools make the grade in this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 2 distinguished Dallas high schools sit at head of the class as Texas' best in 2022. Two campuses in Dallas have earned extra credit as the best high schools in Texas. In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented & Gifted tops the list of the state’s best public high schools, and St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas leads the list of the state’s best private high schools.

2. NFL legend Terry Bradshaw's ranch north of Dallas listed for $22.5 million. An Oklahoma ranch around 70 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth that’s owned by NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw is back on the market for $22.5 million. The 744-acre ranch was relisted after a deal with a would-be buyer fell through.

3. Dallas grilled cheese restaurant abruptly closes location in Oak Cliff. A Bishop Arts restaurant dedicated to making grilled cheese sandwiches has closed: The aptly named Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. closed its original location at 310 W. 7th St., after nearly eight years. According to co-owner Diana Ezzell, the closure was prompted by problems with the location.

4. Best vegan grocer in Denton relocates to market-deli space. An acclaimed market in Denton specializing in all things vegan is making a move: Mashup Market, the plant-based specialty grocer that debuted at 316 Oak St. in 2020, is closing that original location and making its new headquarters at 1302 W. Hickory St., its second location that opened in 2021.

5. Dallas man allegedly scammed $26M from Chinese real estate investors. A Dallas-area man has been charged for allegedly scamming Chinese investors out of more than $26 million in a real estate scheme. Timothy Lynch Barton, the 59-year-old president of real estate development firm JMJ and CEO of real estate investment firm Carnegie Development, has been indicted on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of securities fraud.

Beto to visit Dallas college campuses following debate on TV with Abbott

Campaign News

On November 8, Texas will vote for its next governor — choosing from either incumbent Republican Greg Abbott or Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

In anticipation, the two will participate in a debate on September 30, which takes place at 7 pm at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. It's hosted by KXAN news anchor Britt Moreno and will feature questions from a panel of journalists.

The debate will air on Nexstar television stations which in Dallas is KDAF Channel 33; the Texas Tribune will also livestream.

It's their only scheduled debate and according to the Associated Press, Abbott conditioned his participation on the debate taking place without an audience.

"Sources tell me Abbott would only agree to face Beto with no audience in the room," said journalist Scott Braddock, in a tweet which is right here:

This will be first time Abbott and O'Rourke meet since the May 25 press conference where O’Rourke confronted Abbott after the shooting in Uvalde.

O'Rourke, who previously undertook a summer tour across Texas, holding 70 public events in more than 65 counties, is now launching a College Tour focused on young voters. It includes visits to two Dallas-area campuses, with only one open to the public, as follows:

  • Monday October 3, 10 am: Town Hall at University of North Texas, at the University of North Texas - Gateway Center Ballroom, 801 N. Texas Blvd., Denton. Open to UNT students only.
  • Monday October 3, 12:30 pm: College Tour Town Hall at Dallas College El Centro Campus, 801 Main St., Dallas. Open to the public.

During the College Tour, he'll hold more than a dozen public events at colleges and universities around the state, affording an opportunity not only for him to share his platform — reproductive freedom, reducing gun violence, raising minimum wage, legalizing marijuana — but also an opportunity to get students and young people registered before the October 11 deadline.

Zac Efron finds out war is hell in The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Movie review

Longtime comedy writer/director Peter Farrelly duped a lot of people – though not this critic – with his first attempt at drama, 2018’s Green Book, for which he won Oscars for both Best Original Screenplay and, astoundingly, Best Picture. His follow-up film, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, is another film based on little-known history, with much stronger results.

Chickie Donohue (Zac Efron) is kind of a ne’er-do-well in a 1967 Manhattan neighborhood, living at home and going down to his local bar on a daily basis to drink with his friends. There, he, his friends, and bar owner Doc Fiddler (Bill Murray) commiserate over the fate of the local men who are getting injured or dying in the Vietnam War. Though they hate what the men face, they mostly agree that the soldiers are doing their patriotic duty.

On a drunken whim, Chickie – who has job as a merchant mariner – says he’s going to pay tribute to their friends by bringing them beer from back home. By hook or by crook, he actually manages to get over to Vietnam on a supply ship. But what starts out as a fun lark for the genial Chickie turns into an education about what war is actually like, how his friends are handling their deployments, and that governments may not be always telling the truth.

Co-written with Farrelly by Brian Hayes Currie and Pete Jones, the film is a tale of two halves. The first 45 minutes or so is pretty goofy, as it sets up the story by showing the growing divide about the war, a serious topic that’s undercut by almost every character utilizing an over-the-top New York accent. Chickie’s apparent lack of concern about heading into a war zone also rubs the wrong way.

But the film’s shift in tone once he gets to Vietnam is a welcome one, and helps to make sense of what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish in the beginning of the movie. As Chickie tries to track down the various guys from his neighborhood, his eyes are opened about the experience on the ground in a war. Chickie traveling in plain clothes gets him mistaken for a CIA agent, a falsehood he willingly goes along with until an encounter with a real CIA agent pulls the wool off his eyes once and for all.

Farrelly appears to have matured as a filmmaker in the past four years. While he went for overly simplistic conflict and just as facile resolution in Green Book, he gets down and dirty in this film. He and his co-writers don’t pay lip service to the bad parts of war; they put Chickie right there in the middle of it all, witnessing atrocities firsthand. He’s not a soldier, so they don’t try to overplay their hand, but they give the film just enough intensity that the changes he experiences don’t feel tossed off.

Of course, the film is “based on a true story,” so you know liberties were taken – would the number of beers he brought really last? – but they do an effective job of making eye-rolling moments relatively believable. Chickie’s interactions with his soldier friends have a good arc to them, as do his run-ins with in-country reporters like Coates (Russell Crowe). A late film sequence that finds the two of them running around Saigon while the city is under siege is one of the best the film has to offer.

Efron, save perhaps for his turn as Ted Bundy in a Netflix film, has never been known for his dramatic chops. This role gives him the best of both worlds, allowing him to let loose and dig deep in equal measures, and he makes the most of it. Relative unknowns play his various friends, with the ones playing soldiers coming off the best. Murray and Crowe provide contrasting color to the film, and each is effective in their small amount of screentime.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever is a nice step up for Farrelly and proof that there are still interesting ways to demonstrate that war is hell. The funny premise behind the film belies the seriousness with which it treats the larger issue at hand, a bait-and-switch that gives the story a gravitas you might not expect.

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The Greatest Beer Run Ever is now playing in theaters and streaming on Apple TV+.

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Zac Efron in The Greatest Beer Run Ever