Fort Worth makes an impression during diplomatic mission to Russia

Fourteen delegates just returned from a 12-day diplomatic mission to Russia where they met with officials and local citizens to promote Fort Worth.

The delegation consisted of representatives from business, education and financial sectors, as well as representatives from the national Sister Cities International office in Washington, D.C. The delegation visited Moscow, Kolomna, St. Petersburg, Pushkin and Maryino.

Meetings were held with U.S. Embassy representatives in Moscow, Russian media experts and local entrepreneurs and students. The highlight of the trip was a meeting with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev where delegates discussed the need for U.S. and Russian citizens to connect on a personal level.

The meeting with Gorbachev came on the 30th anniversary of the symbolic end to the Cold War when President Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev walked across Red Square and shook hands.

“President Gorbachev stated that the voice of the civil society must be heard in order to bring about understanding between our two countries,” said Mae Ferguson, president and CEO of Fort Worth Sister Cities.

Other missions to connect Fort Worth internationally are planned this year to Hungary and to the Czech Republic. To learn more, contact Danielle McCown at 817-632-7100.

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Community conference to focus on the problem of homelessness and possible solutions

A community conference on homelessness is planned for 9 a.m.-noon June 30 at University Christian Church, 2720 S. University Drive. The goal is to educate the public and to redirect charitable efforts to be more effective.

Workshops will cover effective giving, how to get involved and housing opportunities. Scheduled presenters:

  • Mayor Betsy Price.
  • Tammy McGhee, Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.
  • Lauren King, Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.
  • Gary Wilkerson, When We Love.
  • Rev. Ralph W. Emerson Jr., Rising Star Baptist Church.
  • Bruce Frankel, DRC-Solutions.
  • Lindsay Klatzkin, Tarrant Churches Together.
  • Flora Brewer, Paulos Properties.
  • Gage Yager, Habitat for Humanity.
  • Rev. Dan Freemyer, Broadway Baptist Church.
  • Tara Perez, City of Fort Worth.

The event is free, but registration is required.
The conference is organized by the city’s Directions Home program and the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.

To learn more, contact Tara Perez at 817-392-2235.

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Learn the basics of home purchasing

Fort Worth’s Neighborhood Services Department is hosting the 15th annual Housing Summit on June 23 at Cendera Center, 3600 Benbrook Hwy. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and workshops will run from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Free workshops will include “Home Buying 101: Ready to Buy in Today’s Real Estate Market,” “Obtaining a Mortgage Loan” and “Down Payment Assistance and Homeownership Counseling.”

Register in advance. A box lunch and refreshments will be provided to registered attendees. Childcare will be provided for children ages 5-13, but registration is required. Door prizes will be awarded.

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Skunk tests positive for rabies in far north Fort Worth

The Texas Department of State Health Services informed the City of Fort Worth on Tuesday afternoon that a wild skunk, located in a residential area near Westheimer Road and Gessner Drive in far north Fort Worth, tested positive for the rabies virus.

The skunk was killed by a family-owned dog in the backyard. Fortunately, the dog is current on rabies vaccinations and was provided additional medical care.

Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Officers are canvassing the residential areas and leaving informational fliers.

Rabies is a dangerous virus that is transmitted through the saliva of mammals. Anyone can become infected if they handle bats or get bitten by an animal that has the disease. Coming in contact with the smell of the exposed skunk will not cause humans to contract rabies.

Animal control officers urge residents to avoid approaching or handling any free-roaming, unfamiliar animals behaving in an unusual manner.

With the weather becoming warmer, hibernating wildlife start to roam and look for food. The city reminds residents to keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats and other domestic pets. This requirement is important not only to keep pets from getting rabies, but also to provide a barrier of protection to humans if an animal is bitten by a rabid animal. Residents should consider picking up any dog or cat food and birdseed left outside before nightfall.

To report incidents, contact the city’s customer care call center at 817-392-1234.

Low-cost pet vaccinations

Rabies and other pet vaccinations are available 6-8 p.m. every Tuesday at the Chuck Silcox Animal Shelter, 4900 Martin St. Vaccination fees range from $5 for rabies to $25 for all vaccinations.

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Neighborhood Improvement Strategy revitalizes Stop Six, Ash Crescent neighborhoods

In October of 2016, Fort Worth created the Neighborhood Improvement Strategy program to help revitalize some of the older neighborhoods around the city.

Through in-depth research and community outreach, the program selected the Cavile-Stop Six neighborhood and the city allocated $2.56 million to help improve the neighborhood. The long-term goal is to promote economic revitalization, provide supportive services to create paths towards self-sufficiency and to reduce poverty.

The Police Department, in partnership with neighborhood residents, set out to curb crime by installing security monitors and adding streetlights. As part of the project, the city installed sidewalks and walkways so kids could walk to school instead of cutting through vacant fields and properties.

Another project the city worked on was cleaning up litter and removing dilapidated buildings. Contractors removed brush and debris to make the neighborhood more walkable. After brush was removed, the city cleaned up more than 180 tons of trash that had been hidden by overgrown brush.

To make old or unsold properties more attractive to potential buyers, the city is using a durable, clear plastic instead of plywood to board up vacant property and to make it look more presentable.

The community helped the city formulate improvement plans for the neighborhood, said Michelle Pantaleo-Clough, head of the Neighborhood Improvement Strategy program. “We had to engage the community. That was a huge part of it. They have established neighborhood associations in that area. The churches are essential to the folks in the neighborhood, and we had great turnout when we started doing our community meetings,” she said.

The city is $330,000 under budget and will use the funds to continue sidewalk construction, install more surveillance cameras and improve vacant properties. The city is also improving neighborhood parks by installing playground equipment, and helping to bring a grocery store to the area in what would be a major accomplishment.

Over the last year, average property values have risen from a little more than $49,000 to just under $65,000. Crime rates have decreased 3 percent.

View a video about progress in Stop Six.

Next focus: Ash Crescent neighborhood

Up next for the Neighborhood Improvement Strategy program is to revitalize the Ash Crescent neighborhood in east Fort Worth. The City Council approved $2.77 million for the project.

Work in Ash Crescent will improve sidewalks, help reduce crime and illegal dumping with security cameras, add more street lights, and demolish or repair dilapidated buildings in the neighborhood.

“We are doing things differently. We learned a lot from the Stop Six project,” Panatleo-Clough said. “We are using that knowledge here.”

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Find out about infrastructure improvements in the Ridglea area

The city will replace existing water and sewer lines and rehabilitate the streets in the Ridglea area. Affected streets include:

  • Olive Place from Hemsell Place to Curzon Avenue.
  • Tex Boulevard from Elizabeth Lane West to Calmont Avenue.
  • Mary’s Lane from Greenway Road to Garland Avenue.
  • Ridglea Avenue from Kenwick Avenue to Locke Avenue and from Darwood Avenue to Malvey Avenue.
  • Calmont Avenue from Tex Boulevard to Bigham Boulevard.
  • Locke Avenue from Sappington Place to Olive Place and from Bryant Irvin Road north to Halloran Street.
  • Curzon Avenue from Lackland Road to Sappington Place, from Olive Place to Mary’s Lane, from Bigham Boulevard to Edgehill Road and from Sappington Place to Olive Place.
  • Garland Avenue from Sappington Place to Bigham Boulevard.
  • Elizabeth Lane West from Olive Place to Tex Boulevard.
  • Malvey Avenue from Bryant Irvin Road North to Halloran Street.
  • Halloran Street from Camp Bowie Boulevard to Malvey Avenue.

Make plans to attend the project meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 21 at the R.D. Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Road, to learn about the construction schedule and impacts to residents.

To learn more, contact Project Manager Liam Conlon at 817-392-6824.

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Sue McLean recognized for her commitment to Fairmount neighborhood

Sue McLean, a dedicated volunteer in Fort Worth’s Fairmount Neighborhood Association, is among this year’s three inductees into Neighborhoods USA (NUSA)’s Who’s Who in America’s Neighborhoods recognition program.

NUSA honored McLean with the award at its 43rd annual conference in Birmingham, Ala.

McLean has been a neighborhood volunteer since she moved to the Fairmount neighborhood 33 years ago. Neighbors say Sue is always there, always instrumental, always helping.

From the moment she moved into her 1918 bungalow home in 1984, she became an advocate for the neighborhood’s historic homes. She immediately began her volunteer work by helping with the Fairmount Tour of Homes, an event where six to 10 homes are selected to highlight the beautiful architecture of Fairmount and — in the early years of the event — to inspire people to move into a neighborhood that was considered neglected and rundown.

Over the years, McLean has become a fount of information on houses in Fairmount. She began gathering and cataloging all the Fairmount written history, which was then sent to the Fort Worth Library for safekeeping.

In 1990, the neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and listed as a City of Fort Worth Historic and Cultural Landmark District.

Beyond her work with the Fairmount Neighborhood Association and historic preservation, McLean has been a key volunteer for Code Blue, Citizens on Patrol, Fairmount Southside Garden Club, Fairmount Marching Band and Good Neighbor Animal Rescue. She resurrected the neighborhood’s monthly Girls Night Out.

For 34 years, McLean’s neighbors and fellow neighborhood association members have recognized her to be the most loyal and consistent volunteer in their neighborhood. They nominated her for the award so she can be recognized and thanked for her years of service and dedication.

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Fort Worth Animal Shelter awarded $50,000 grant

Two-year-old Millie, an adorable, solid black terrier-mix, was shaking from head to toe as she arrived at the Fort Worth Animal Shelter after her owner decided she couldn’t afford to care for her anymore. Millie’s fur was covered with mats that were pulling at her skin. Sadly, she also tested positive for heartworm. Two days later, Millie’s owner surrendered her brother.

Nationwide, thousands of municipal animal shelters struggle daily as they are overwhelmed with the number of animals entering the facilities as a result of being surrendered or found roaming the streets when owners can no longer care for them.

The $50,000 Better Cities for Pets grant was awarded to the City of Fort Worth to assist the people and pets of Fort Worth who lack access to mainstream veterinary care. The grant was awarded through Mars Petcare and the United States Conference of Mayors’ Better Cities for Pets program, a nationwide initiative designed to help cities implement, support and expand pet-friendly programs and policies.

“Fort Worth prides itself on being a pet-friendly city, as research shows living with pets enhances quality of life and has numerous health benefits,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “This grant will support the City of Fort Worth’s Animal Care & Control Unit as they expand efforts to improve animal well-being, as well as provide additional pet care resources and services to our citizens.”

Data collected by the Humane Society of the United States from the nation’s most underserved communities found startling differences in pet ownership. People living in underserved communities love their pets as much as pet owners anywhere else in the nation. However, they don’t have access to veterinary care, spay/neuter and other services most Americans take for granted.

  • Pets living in underserved communities in the U.S.: 23 million.
  • Percentage of pets living in underserved communities who:
  • Are not spayed or neutered: 87 percent.
  • Have never seen a veterinarian: 77 percent.

The Fort Worth Animal Welfare Division of Code Compliance will use Pets for Life, a national program providing wellness resources to residents in underserved communities. Thanks to the grant, residents will receive information and assistance with access to free or low-cost pet services such as vaccinations, spay/neuter and micro-chipping. The Ash Crescent neighborhood has been selected to receive the initial services.

(By the way, there’s a happy ending: Millie and her brother were both adopted into loving homes shortly after being surrendered.)

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Police Foundation honors exemplary service

Fort Worth Police Officer Landon Rollins was named Officer of the Year for 2017 at the 66th annual awards dinner hosted by the Fort Worth Police Foundation.

Officer Rollins, with more than 15 years of experience, provides support and guidance for younger and less-tenured officers. He is a shining example of excellence in the Fort Worth Police Department, going above and beyond the call of duty to keep Fort Worth safe.

In August, Rollins transferred to the newly-created Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). As a founding officer of the unit, Rollins was key in molding the CIT into a critical asset to the department.

Rollins consistently leads by example. In July 2017, he located an armed carjacking suspect who was wearing body armor. The carjacker attempted to assault an uninvolved resident during an intense pursuit. However, Rollins continued to pursue and eventually apprehended the dangerous suspect without anyone being injured.

In September 2017, a man was on a bridge getting ready to jump. Rollins was successful in talking the individual down from the bridge.

In addition to being an inspiration to peers, Rollins is also an active member of the military and assists those in need by working with Veterans Outreach. He has a Master Peace Officer’s license, a civilian associate’s degree and is certified as a Mental Health Peace Officer.

Other award winners:
Central Northwest Command: Officer Michael Byrd.
Southeast Command: Officer Heidi Plummer.
Specialized Units: Officer Domingo Martinez.
Supervisor of the Year: Sgt. Neil Harris.
Commander of the Year: Commander Michael Shedd.
Dwayne Freeto Service With Respect Award: Sgt. Clay Hendrix.

Platinum sponsors of the event were the Robert S. & Joyce Pate Capper Charitable Foundation, Karen and Larry Anfin, BNSF Railway, R4 Foundation, The Miles Foundation, QuikTrip Corp. and Pavlov Agency.

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Work begins on White Settlement Bridge superstructure

Texas Sterling, the Texas Department of Transportation’s contractor for the Panther Island bridges, has been making major progress on the new White Settlement Bridge.

The eighth and final concrete V-pier pour was completed in May, and the contractor has started constructing the superstructure that will allow for the construction of the deck structure — the part of the bridge motorists will drive on. The contractor is currently working on both the east and west ends of the bridge.

The new bridge will serve as a connector across a new bypass channel and over the Trinity River. The bridge will join its partners at Main Street and Henderson Street as one of Fort Worth’s three iconic V-pier bridges.

The Panther Island project is a collaborative effort between the Trinity River Vision Authority, TxDOT, the City of Fort Worth, North Central Texas Council of Governments, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tarrant County.

View a live cam showing bridge construction.

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