Fort Worth Zoo reopens to the public May 29

To help control the flow of people and to distribute guests throughout the day, the Fort Worth Zoo will temporarily enact a reservations system when it reopens on May 29.

All guests, including members, must reserve tickets online for each member of their party and must select a designated time slot. Membership cards and timed tickets will be checked on entry. No tickets will be sold at the zoo.

Social distancing among all zoo staff and guests is vital. The zoo will have visual reminders placed to ensure guests are maintaining a safe social distance along the pathways.

Per state and county officials’ suggestions, guests are strongly encouraged to wear facemasks while visiting the zoo. (Please bring your own.) All zoo staff working in the park must wear masks.

Guests will not have access to some high-touch attractions and areas of the zoo, including some rides, animal feedings, playgrounds, water fountains and misters. Staff will continuously clean high-touch surfaces like vending machines, tables, chairs and more. Guests are encouraged to wash their hands after encountering those areas. In addition to restrooms located throughout the zoo, some hand-washing stations are positioned throughout the park.

If a guest feels sick, they should not visit the zoo.

Plan your zoo visit.

View full post on City News

Virtual hearing seeks comments on Southeast Connector project

A virtual public hearing dealing with the Southeast Connector project will be posted at 6 p.m. June 4 and will be available through June 22.

The purpose of the virtual public hearing is to present the proposed reconstruction and widening of I-20, I-820 and US 287, including the three major interchanges in southeast Tarrant County. Materials will consist of a video presentation explaining the proposed project and other exhibits and materials for review.

Proposed improvements:

  • Along I-20, from Forest Hill Drive to the I-820/I 20 interchange, proposed improvements would reconstruct and widen the existing four to five main lanes in each direction to six main lanes in each direction. The project would also reconstruct the two- to three-lane frontage roads to include two to four new continuous frontage road lanes in each direction.
  • Between I-820 and US 287, five main lanes in each direction, four lane collector-distributor roads and new two- to four-lane frontage roads in each direction would be constructed.
  • From the I-20/US 287 interchange to Park Springs Boulevard, improvements would include reconstruction and widening to five main lanes in each direction, reconstruction of existing frontage roads from two to four lanes each direction, and construction of new frontage roads between Green Oaks Boulevard and Kelly Elliot Road.
  • Improvements to I-820 would include reconstruction and widening from two to four main lanes in each direction to seven main lanes in each direction between I-20 and US 287.
  • From US 287 to Meadowbrook Drive, improvements would include reconstructing and widening the existing two to four main lanes to four main lanes in each direction, with auxiliary lanes between entrance and exit ramps.
  • The current frontage roads along I-820 would be reconstructed and widened to two to four lanes in each direction. The main lanes of US 287 would be reconstructed and widened from two to three main lanes in each direction to three main lanes in each direction with auxiliary lanes between entrance and exit ramps. The frontage road lanes in this section would be reconstructed to two to three lanes in each direction.
  • Bicycle or pedestrian accommodations, including shared-use paths and sidewalks along frontage roads and at cross-street intersections, would be included. Separate bike lanes and sidewalks are proposed at cross streets when shared-use paths are not provided.

The proposed project would, subject to final design considerations, require additional right of way and potentially displace 23 residences and 19 nonresidential structures. Relocation assistance is available for displaced persons and businesses.

View a fact sheet in English and Spanish.

To learn more, contact the TxDOT Fort Worth District Office at 817-370 6500.

View a map of the construction project area.

View full post on City News

Driver license offices to reopen by appointment only with limited services

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin reopening driver license offices by appointment only and with limited services. The reopening will happen in a phased approach to allow DPS to keep customers and staff as safe as possible while also adhering to new safety guidelines and social distancing practices in place due to COVID-19.

Offices in DPS’ North and Southeast Texas regions, which includes Fort Worth, will reopen with limited services June 3. Customers can begin scheduling appointments at 1 p.m. May 29.

Services will be limited to customers with appointments who are seeking a first-time Texas driver license, commercial driver license, learner license or identification card, as well as those who need to take a driving test

Safety measures for reopening

New safety measures will be in place:

  • All staff members and customers who are taking a driving test will be required to wear face masks or facial coverings.
  • Every person will be screened for symptoms before entering the office; this includes having their temperature checked. Customers may be asked to reschedule their appointment if they do not pass the safety screening.
  • Only customers will be allowed into driver licenses offices to help limit capacity and ensure everyone can maintain a safe social distance. Exceptions include people needing ADA accommodations, elderly people, parents with small children and parents and legal guardians needed to complete a transaction.
  • DPS staff will sanitize workstations and equipment between each customer transaction.
  • Eye examinations will no longer require physical contact with an eye testing machine.
  • Customers must pay with a credit card, check or money order. No cash payments are allowed.

View full post on City News

Preserve the Fort initiative offers $10 million in grants to Fort Worth small businesses

The City of Fort Worth recently received approximately $158 million in funding from the CARES Act, and is partnering with the United Way of Tarrant County to distribute $10 million of those funds to Fort Worth small businesses through the Preserve the Fort small business grant program.

Of the $10 million allocated for Preserve the Fort grants, $2.5 million will be dedicated to supporting minority-owned businesses, and another $2.5 million is reserved for businesses located in the city’s Neighborhood Empowerment Zones and Designated Investment Zones – areas of Fort Worth that are predominantly low-to-moderate income, which the city has already identified for revitalization efforts.

Grant applications will be processed with the help of partners at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce.

Applications for Preserve the Fort grants open Tuesday, May 26, and will close at 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 8. Business owners can apply at fortworthtexas.gov/preserve-the-fort.

“These grants are critical to helping support and preserve the city’s small business community, which has helped define so much of Fort Worth’s character,” said Robert Sturns, the city’s Economic Development Director. “As businesses across the state start to reopen, these grants can help offset some of the costs from the recent shutdown and provide a way forward for those small businesses who have been hit hardest.”

“We applaud the City of Fort Worth for developing the Preserve the Fort Grant Program and using CARES Act funding to help our small business community,” said Leah King, President and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to so many small business owners who had to close because of the shelter-in-place restrictions. It is our sincere hope that these funds allow them to get back on their feet and position them for long-term success.”

Eligibility

Grant funds are open to businesses who fit the following criteria:

  • Small business (250 employees or less).
  • Located within the City of Fort Worth, with a Fort Worth mailing address.
  • Registered to do business in the State of Texas.
  • Business must have been in operation since Sep. 1, 2019.
  • Self-employed individuals, independent contractors, sole proprietors, and nonprofits serving the business community are also eligible.

If a business has already received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they are still eligible to receive these funds. However, priority will be given to businesses that have not received funding through these programs.

For more information about eligibility requirements and other questions, a list of frequently asked questions is available on the Preserve the Fort webpage in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Funding information

Depending on the number of full-time staff a business employed as of March 17, 2020, the funding levels are:

  • Micro-enterprises with less than 5 employees are eligible for a grant of $5,000.
  • Level I businesses (with 6-25 employees) are eligible for a grant of $7,500.
  • Level II businesses (with 26-50 employees) are eligible for a grant of $10,000.
  • Level III businesses (with 51-250 employees) are eligible for a grant of $50,000.

Preserve the Fort grant funds can be used to reimburse the costs of business interruption due to COVID-19 as a result of required closures, voluntary closures to promote social distancing, or decreased customer demand. A complete list of examples is available on the Preserve the Fort webpage.

Businesses who receive grant funding are required to document how the funds are used.

Before applying

Business owners can complete the Preserve the Fort funding application more quickly by getting the following business documents in order:

  • A completed W-9 form.
  • Documentation of Going Concern and Business Verification. This will require one of the following documents: Secretary of State Texas File Number, Employee Identification Number, DBA, 2018 or 2019 tax return (schedules not required), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or Certificate of Filing.
  • Proof of employment. This will require one of the following documents: W-3 form, 941 form, or other document showing payroll expenses, employer insurance expenses, or employer retirement expenses for the first quarter of 2020 (prior to the COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 17, 2020) as well as the most current version of this document.
  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement for 2019, as well as a P&L statement as of March 2020.
  • For sole proprietors, applicants are required to provide a 2018 or 2019 Schedule C.

Once business owners compile this information, they can visit Preserve the Fort webpage to begin their application.

Questions and application help

Because this may be the first time that many business owners are applying for financial aid, there are a variety of resources available to help make this application process as simple as possible.

In addition to FAQs and other documents available on the Preserve the Fort website in three languages, Tarrant Small Business Development Center is staffing a call center to help business owners prepare their application documentation or fill out their applications between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the call center for assistance at 817-515-2603.

View full post on City News

Meals to Go distribution dates modified for Memorial Day

The Fort Worth ISD will close to observe Memorial Day, and there will be no Meals to Go distribution on Monday, May 25.

Because of the holiday, meals originally distributed from noon to 1:30 p.m. weekly on Monday and Thursday will be distributed on Tuesday, May 26 and Thursday, May 28. Meals to Go will resume its typical operating dates and hours the following week.

The Fort Worth ISD offers meal distribution at 18 school sites across the city. The district provides six meals per child on each distribution day.

A list of all Meals To Go sites can be found on the FWISD COVID-19 website.

The program has been a successful partnership between the district and its food service vendor, Sodexo MAGIC.

View full post on City News

Celebrate Sister Cities’ 35 years with international virtual activities

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Worth Sister Cities International. To celebrate Fort Worth’s sister cities and everything international, tune in at noon daily for educational, informative and entertaining content leading up to the official anniversary on June 26.

“We have created some spectacular international virtual activities focusing on our relationships around the world for the community. We’ll be showcasing all kinds of things like French cooking lessons, Japanese origami lessons, tours of gorgeous sites and even tai chi classes,” said Mae Ferguson, president and CEO of Fort Worth Sister Cities International.

Check out the calendar of events.

View full post on City News

Hopscotch inspires Wedgwood South neighborhood

With a hop and a skip, the Wedgwood South neighborhood was inspired with the age-old children’s game of hopscotch.

As neighborhood residents began spending more time outside on daily walks and bike rides during stay-at-home orders, one neighbor decided to make those walks a little more fun. She drew a hopscotch game on the sidewalk in front of her house.

To everyone’s surprise, many walkers stopped to participate, teach their kids how to play and hop down memory lane. The simple game has since been the inspiration for other residents to join in on the sidewalk entertainment. Several neighbors noticed the game’s popularity on their walks (and through Facebook posts) and decided to create even more games in front of their homes.

Who knew a round of hopscotch could build so much community? Wedgwood South Neighborhood Association President DeVonna Tinney said that not only are walkers enjoying added enjoyment, they are “helping with egret concerns by taking horns and noisemakers on their walks to ward them off. It has been a neighborhood effort.”

With a modest game and some noisemakers, neighbors have found some encouragement and new ways to join together in a time when we need to stay apart.

What is your neighborhood doing to stay connected and engaged during the stay-at-home order? Let us know.

View full post on City News

Court on Demand is just a click away

Fort Worth’s Municipal Court has launched virtual courtrooms, adding to its catalog of e-services. This new feature allows the public to see a municipal judge from almost anywhere by way of a computer, tablet or smartphone.

“Court on Demand is another opportunity for the Fort Worth Municipal Court to serve our community. It is our hope that many will take advantage of this opportunity,” Chief Judge Danny Rodgers said.

The public can appear remotely to perform many court functions, including entering pleas, requesting payment plans, community service, compliance dismissals, driver’s safety course, deferred disposition (probation) and others.

All that is required is a stable internet connection, a video device with a microphone and a working email address. This will allow residents to receive and sign documents electronically.

“This continues building on our goal to meet the public where they are in the community, both in-person and online,” Interim Court Director William F. Rumuly said.

Request a virtual courtroom appearance by calling 817-392-6700 or visiting the municipal court webpage. Select the “Let’s Chat” icon 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

View full post on City News

Sales tax collections down 6.5% in March

Fort Worth’s net sales tax collections in March totaled $14,371,791, down from March 2019 by $993,498, or 6.5%.

March is the first month that reflects sales tax decreases influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further reductions are expected in subsequent months. Year to date, sales tax collections are up 2.8%.

Before the pandemic, the city anticipated collecting $172,769,615 in the general fund by fiscal year end.

Sales tax revenue represents 22.4% of the city’s General Fund budget. This is the second largest revenue source, with property taxes being the largest.

For the Crime Control and Prevention District, sales tax revenue represents the largest revenue source.

View full post on City News

In many cases, city meetings are going virtual

The City of Fort Worth is responding to community needs by replacing in-person public board and commission meetings with a virtual format.

State and local emergency declarations related to the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines on social distancing eliminated the ability of boards and commissions to meet in traditional public venues. Gov. Greg Abbott granted a request by the attorney general to temporarily suspend open meeting laws to allow telephonic or video conference meetings in response to coronavirus.

Fort Worth’s Development Services Department quickly assembled a team to create a virtual process that allows transparency to city business while encouraging a high level of resident participation and engagement.

Since mid-April, the city has successfully hosted public meetings ranging from the City Plan Commission to the Public Art Commission. These public meetings are held using the WebEx Events platform, which allows up to 10,000 people to participate either by phone, computer or smart device without leaving the safety of their home.

In addition, meetings are broadcast on the city’s cable channel and livestreamed on the city’s website. Recordings of the meetings are provided on the city’s website for the public to view at their convenience.

Public participation has been robust at these virtual meetings.

In accordance with the latest extension of Abbott’s disaster declaration, city staff will continue to use a virtual format as long as necessary.

To learn how to participate in virtual public hearings, contact the Development Services Department at 817-392-8000 or review a FAQ page.

View full post on City News