Sales tax collections up 1.9% in September

Fort Worth’s net sales tax collections in September totaled $14,714,848, up from September 2018 by $275,990, or 1.9%.

Year to date, sales tax collections are up 5.1%.

The city’s general fund actual collection exceeded the fiscal year 2019 amended budget by $1,400,938, or 0.9%. The Crime Control and Prevention District fund actual collection exceeded the FY2019 original adopted budget by $1,444,406, or 1.9%.

Sales tax revenue represents 22.3% 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.

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Sundance Square Christmas tree arrives Nov. 18

Holidays are a special time of the year, and this Christmas, Sundance Square will make it even more memorable. The holiday season will kick off with the arrival of the Sundance Square Christmas tree at 9 a.m. Nov. 18.

Sundance Square President and CEO Johnny Campbell will continue the annual tradition of hoisting the giant 50-foot concolor fir from Hart, Mich., in the center of Sundance Square Plaza.

The official tree lighting ceremony, called one of the best in Texas, will take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 23. Kids Who Care, a nonprofit international theatre company, will perform at this year’s tree lighting.

Santa Claus will be prominently featured on the Plaza Stage, which will be transformed into a winter wonderland with a dramatic silver fabric backdrop and a sleigh backed by beautiful trees. The entire plaza will feature large, brilliantly lit sculptures as backdrops for photos with family and friends.

Parking is always free in Sundance Square after 5 p.m. on weekdays. Before 5 p.m., parking is free with validation from a Sundance Square restaurant or retailer. Validation is good for 2 1/2 hours of dining or shopping, or four hours for weekday movies. Weekends are free throughout the day and evening.

Guests also have the option to valet park for free throughout Sundance Square with purchase from a Sundance Square merchant. Look for the red umbrellas at nine locations throughout Sundance Square.

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Learn the latest on recycling and Fort Worth’s part in the global movement

Fort Worth is hosting its first “State of Recycling in Fort Worth” on Facebook Live at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 16 on the Keep Forth Worth Beautiful Facebook page.

The recycling market around the world is changing, yet recycling remains extremely important to global resource conservation — and just as essential in growing cities like Fort Worth. Taking endless truckloads of trash to the landfill is not working in today’s society.

Hear from the city’s Code Compliance assistant director, along with Waste Management’s general manager for Fort Worth operations and Republic Services’ general manager for Fort Worth operations as they talk about today’s recycling market and how it affects Fort Worth residents.

Register online for the conversation.

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Sparkyard is helping Fort Worth become the City of Cowboys, Culture — and Innovation

Entrepreneurs in Fort Worth are about to have a digital one-stop shop to provide them with the right resources at the right time in their business development.

The initiative is called Sparkyard, a name that derives from combining that innovative “spark” of an idea with the lineage of the Fort Worth Stockyards — one of the first industries that helped establish Fort Worth as a city.

But while the concept pays homage to Fort Worth’s Western heritage, Marco Johnson, network builder for Sparkyard, said the platform is all about helping Fort Worth — and its community of small businesses and entrepreneurs — grow into its new identity as the 13th largest in the country.

“It’s no longer adequate to rely on the identity of Fort Worth as the ‘City of Cowboys and Culture,’” Johnson said. “We have a very diverse population — ‘Cowboys and Culture’ doesn’t resonate with everybody. We’re collectively trying to figure out as a community who are we, and I think Sparkyard will be a valuable tool that helps us take a look at who we are, what we have locally, and — maybe even aspirationally — what are we trying to be?”

The spark that will light the fire

The primary purpose of Sparkyard is to help entrepreneurs sort out the often-confusing collection of local resources available to help them locate funding, scale up production or even launch their business. In fact, Sparkyard’s foundation — the Sourcelink platform — was developed in Kansas City to solve a similar problem: local entrepreneurs needed help navigating the area’s multitude of resources, and those resources needed help connecting to each other.

“There are gaps in our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Johnson said. “As an entrepreneur standing on the outside, it can all seem a bit fragmented. They don’t always know where to go to access the resources, who the resource providers are or what they’re offering. With Sparkyard, we’re trying to create a comprehensive experience so that people can understand what’s out there and how to access it.”

The tools that Sparkyard provides are primarily digital, and include a resource navigator, a referral mechanism, a comprehensive community calendar and basic background information on topics like how to register a business, funding, hiring employees and more.

However, there are offline components for those who are less tech-savvy — Sparkyard has a telephone helpline available at 682-351-2563, and will soon be hosting office hours for entrepreneurs hoping to talk things over in person.

More functionality will be added soon, and one element that Johnson is particularly excited about is the ability to collect data on Fort Worth’s entrepreneurial community.

“The reality is that we don’t have a very good understanding of the nature of our entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Fort Worth,” Johnson said. “How many entrepreneurs are there? How many different industries are they working in? What are their needs? Where are they excelling? None of that information is known right now, and by starting to collect this kind of data, we’ll be able to start producing baseline reports that can help give us a solid foundation to build upon.”

Ready for launch

For those looking to celebrate Sparkyard’s official launch during Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 14-22), the launch party will kick off from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 at the IREB Building on the UNT Health Science Center campus. Admission is free, and registration is available online.

Additionally, podcast listeners can download a recent episode of the Innovate Fort Worth podcast through their preferred provider to hear Johnson discuss Sparkyard with Cameron Cushman at the UNT Health Science Center.

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Parade of Lights begins the holiday season in downtown Fort Worth

The GM Financial Parade of Lights, will deliver the magic of the holiday season to downtown Fort Worth at 6 p.m. Nov. 24 as it illuminates the streets in shimmering colors for the 37th year.

Featuring more than 100 spectacular floats, giant balloons and half a million lights, Fort Worth’s signature event of the season will bring the holiday spirit to thousands of North Texans. The 1.59-mile parade route will be lined with decorated horse-drawn carriages, antique cars, festive marching bands, strolling carolers and a special finale appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The 2019 parade theme is “Sounds of the Season.” Musical performances will take place before and during the parade. Curated by Hear Fort Worth, five local entertainers will perform 15-minute sets as they travel block-to-block on mobile holiday-themed platforms, sponsored by Sundance Square. Performances begin at 4:30 p.m. and continue throughout the parade.

Parade attendees are encouraged to arrive early to snap photos next to the majestic Sundance Square Christmas Tree, shop and eat at the 50-plus retailers and restaurants throughout downtown, and enjoy live holiday entertainment.

The parade will begin at the corner of Weatherford and Throckmorton streets, then proceed east along Weatherford Street and turn south on Commerce Street to Ninth Street. At Ninth Street, the parade will turn west, then turn north on Houston Street until it reaches Second Street. At Second Street, the parade will proceed west to Throckmorton Street. At Throckmorton Street, the parade will turn south and conclude at Third Street.

For guests in need of transportation to and from the Parade of Lights, TEXRail and Trinity Railway Express will be in operation.

The Sundance Square Christmas tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m. Nov. 23.

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Will Rogers Auditorium to host diverse concerts during Stock Show run

Classic rock band Foreigner is the first act announced for the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo’s 2020 lineup in Will Rogers Auditorium, a building designed and known for its sound quality.

For many, the concerts will bring back memories of legendary acts. Of the hundreds who’ve headlined in the Auditorium, a few include Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Tammy Wynette, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Paul Simon, Sheryl Crow and Michael Bublé.

“Our goal is to bring Stock Show guests a variety of music acts and comedy shows to the Will Rogers Auditorium that appeal to our diverse audience,” said Stock Show President and General Manager Brad Barnes. “The legions of notable performers who played there is impressive and we’ll introduce the Auditorium to new generations who can enjoy the wonderful acoustics and intimacy provided by this legendary venue.”

With decades of No. 1 hits, Foreigner will set the stage for a new entertainment format being launched in a music venue with a rich history of memorable concerts. With the support of local distillery TX Whiskey, the Will Rogers Auditorium will thrill 2020 Stock Show guests with acts from various genres.

Tickets for the Foreigner concert start at $39.50 and are on sale to the public at Ticketmaster.com.

Other acts booked for the Will Rogers Auditorium during the 2020 Stock Show will be announced in the coming weeks.

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City Manager announces panel of national experts to conduct review of Police Department

City Manager David Cooke has selected a panel of national experts to review police department policies and practices and provide recommendations on changes the police department should implement to improve and retain public trust and confidence.

“First and foremost, I want to again express my complete confidence in Chief Kraus and the leadership team at the Fort Worth Police Department,” said City Manager Cooke. “To that end, I acknowledge that every organization can benefit from having an independent group of experts review policies and procedures to see where we can improve the work we do with, and for, our community.”

This expert panel has extensive knowledge and policing experience in areas including applications of procedural justice, investigative best practices, bias-based policing and use of force. They will conduct a rigorous and completely independent review of the police department.

“We were contacted by firms and individuals around the country who are recognized for this type of work,” said Cooke. “After a review of qualifications and experience, I believe we have assembled an excellent team to provide recommendations and best practices that will allow us to improve our police department and the way we work with all members of our community.”

The purpose for this review is to identify patterns and practices related to police interactions with the public during investigative stops, searches, arrests, de-escalation and use of force incidents. The panel will examine police policies, operational practices, training, documentation, accountability systems, corrective and reporting procedures, and technology applications. The review will include substantial interaction and listening sessions with community members, groups and police personnel.

Other areas the panel is expected to review include community policing and engagement, Internal Affairs complaints, recruiting, hiring and promotions, critical incident interactions within the mental health community, and interactions with youth.

The panel will be led by Dr. Theron L. Bowman and Dr. Alex del Carmen. Both experts, with strong local and national ties, who also have extensive police reform experience. Other panel members include:

Lynda Garcia – policing campaign director, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Emily Gunston – Washington Lawyers’ Committee and former USDOJ Civil Rights Division deputy chief
Tom Petroski, JD – former FBI Dallas chief legal counsel
Jonathan Smith – Washington Lawyers’ Committee and former USDOJ Civil Rights division chief
Marcia Thompson, Esq. – law enforcement and civil rights attorney and consultant
Dr. Rita Watkins – executive director of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas

City Manager Cooke will present the recommendations to City Council at the Tuesday, November 12 City Council Work Session. Following presentation to the City Council and residents, City Manager Cooke will place a resolution to approve the creation of the panel on the Tuesday, November 19 City Council meeting agenda. The panel’s review process will begin immediately upon finalization of the contracts with each individual or entity. The review is expected to continue for several months, with regular updates, reports and recommendations on changes and improvements.

All reports and updates will be posted online at fortworthtexas.gov/FWPDReview.

Additional information:

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Fort Worth named a Tree City USA — for the 40th consecutive year

Fort Worth was again named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. Fort Worth is the oldest and longest-running Tree City USA in Texas, a designation the city first received in 1978.

Fort Worth achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forest budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Fort Worth received the Tree City USA Growth Award for the 19th year, highlighting innovative programs and projects as well as increased commitment of resources for urban forestry.

Fort Worth has promoted sound urban forestry practices since 1873, when the city charter declared it illegal to hitch a horse to a tree. The city hired its first arborist in the 1920s.

The Forestry Section of the Park and Recreation Department plays an important role in continuing Fort Worth’s green legacy. Forestry plants and maintains trees, as well as gives residents the skills they need to care for the city’s urban forest. The Forestry Section includes 20 employees.

Forestry crews also ensure the safety of residents by removing hazardous limbs and trees on city property, and by responding after storms to clear debris and other hazards from city streets.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.

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Need a job? The Water Department is hiring

The Fort Worth Water Department is seeking highly-motivated individuals in the field operations division.

Attend a job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 16 at Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St.

Available positions include crew leaders, equipment operators, maintenance workers, utility line technicians and senior backhoe operators.

The field operations division is the largest division of the Water Department. The department serves more than 800,000 residents in Fort Worth’s 350 square miles.

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Learn about how transit could change in Fort Worth

What do you want the future of transit to look like in Fort Worth? Learn more about potential transit scenarios at one of the upcoming Transit Moves Fort Worth public meetings.

Meetings will begin with an open house followed by a short presentation 30 minutes after the start of the meeting.

Choose from these meetings:
Nov. 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Southwest Library, 4001 Library Lane. Served by Trinity Metro route 25.
Nov. 13, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Fort Worth Central Station, 1001 Jones St. Served by routes serving Central Station, including TEXRail and TRE. (This meeting is an open house format only, without a presentation.)
Nov. 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Greenbriar Community Center, 5200 Hemphill St. Served by route 72.
Nov. 14, 7-8:30 p.m., Victory Forest Community Center, 3427 Hemphill St. Served by route 1.
Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to noon, Northwest Library, 6228 Crystal Lake Drive.
Nov. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Shamblee Library, 1062 Evans Ave. Served by route 4.
Nov. 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m., TCC Opportunity Center, 5901 Fitzhugh Ave. Served by routes 9 and 20.
Dec. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Heritage Church of Christ, 4201 Heritage Trace Parkway. Served by route 11.
Dec. 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Diamond Hill Community Center, 1701 N.E. 36th St. Served by Route 12.

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