North Texas Arrivals and Departures 2015/16

Arrived: Free Plastic Bags
When 2015 started, free, single-use plastic bags became officially verboten in Dallas. If you wanted one, you had to shell out a nickel, which wasn't the most punitive thing in the world. Still, the city got sued by plastic bag manufacturers in May and ended up caving before the summer was out. The bags, once again, were free.

Departing: Brandon Weeden

Tasked with replacing an injured Tony Romo, backup quarterback Brandon Weeden was awful. He inherited a 2-0 team, led the Cowboys to three straight defeats and was so inept that he forced the Cowboys to trade for Bills quarterback Matt Cassel in an attempt to get something going. Weeden was quickly cut by the Cowboys. He was signed by the Texans and, because this is how things work, has played well in relief of TJ Yates over the last two weeks, leaving Houston one week away from a playoff birth.

Arriving: Cole Hamels' First Full Season
Cole Hamels arrived in Arlington just before the trade deadline in July. The Rangers were languishing in third place, on the wrong side of .500 and coming off of a 21-5 drubbing by the Angels. After the arrival of the erstwhile Phillies ace, the team stormed through August and September, caught the Angels and Astros and won the most improbable playoff birth in franchise history. Next year, Hamels will pair with returning Rangers No. 1 Yu Darvish to make perhaps the most potent top of the rotation in baseball. It's going to be fun.

(Potentially) Arriving: Cite-and-Release Pot Rules
The very first City Council briefing of 2016 will see the full Dallas City Council hear from Dallas Police Chief David Brown about DPD's plan to ticket, rather than arrest, certain marijuana users, should the council wish to sign off on it. Penalties for possession will remain just as serious, but Dallas County Jail will be less crowded, officers will get to spend more time on the streets and pot users won't see their lives as disrupted for getting caught holding.

Arriving: More Earthquakes
After experiencing no earthquakes in its recorded history before 2008, North Texas was hit by 27 tremors in 2014. In 2015, that number grew to 83. Through state seismologist Craig Pearson and the Texas Railroad Commission, the state of Texas refused to blame fracking or fracking related activities like wastewater disposal for the quakes, despite SMU researchers' published findings that wastewater injection likely had something to do with the earthquake swarm that hit the towns of Azle and Reno in Tarrant County. 
Arriving: Open Carry
Beginning Friday, licensed concealed handgun carriers will no longer have to conceal their sidearms. The city of Dallas has created a handy video to tell when you should and shouldn't freak out in the face of visible fire power. 
Departing: Parched Construction Workers
This month, the city of Dallas finally passed its construction worker rest break ordinance. Contractors who don't let workers take a 10-minute break every four hours in 2016 will face fines from the city.

Departing and Arriving: Ethan Couch
"Affluenza"-riddled teen Ethan Couch skipped town to Mexico following a video surfacing that showed the DWI-killer apparently playing beer pong in violation of his probation. He and his mother were found a couple of weeks after Tarrant County officials began publicly looking for him, holed up in Puerto Vallarta. He'll be back in Texas soon enough, to face his probation being shifted from the more lenient juvenile justice system to the same adult probation system most 18-year-olds have to deal with.
Arriving: Presidential Hysteria
Thanks to Texas having an early primary for the first time in a long time, we should get our fill of the remaining presidential hopefuls before the March 1 vote takes place. The onslaught begins in earnest next week, as GOP establishment favorite Marco Rubio hits town for a private fundraiser and a public rally on January 6.
Departing (Maybe): Horse Tracks
Despite strong suggestions from both the Legislature and state leadership that it do so, the Texas Racing Commission has refused to remove a contentious policy from its books that would allow horse track patrons to use so-called historical racing terminals — essentially slot machines with outcomes determined by already run horse races. If the commission doesn't kill the policy before February 2016, the Texas Senate could kill its funding, leading to all tracks in the state shutting down due to a lack of a regulating agency.

Departed: Joseph Randle
Cowboys running back and head case Joseph Randle became former Cowboys running back and head case Joseph Randle in 2015. Randle, who started 2015 as the Cowboys' starting running back, was cut after the team found out he faced NFL discipline for an alleged domestic-violence incident at a Wichita hotel in February — Randle was accused, but not charged with, threatening his ex-girlfriend with a gun.
Departing: Mike Miles
Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles quit the district, and his efforts to reform it in June, less than three years after taking the gig. Throughout 2015, he'd faced pressure from his board for things like firing popular principals and implementing extensive teacher evaluations. Michael Hinojosa, who previously served as Dallas ISD superintendent before leaving to take the same role in Cobb County, Georgia, took over the reins again in September.
Departing and Arriving: Blue Bell
Texas' favorite inexplicably popular frozen treat was taken off the shelves for months in the spring and summer following a listeria outbreak that left three people in Kansas dead. In November, when the stuff returned, people went wild, with some driving hours just to get their hands on ice cream that isn't even the fourth-best thing in Kroger's freezer case.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young