Learn about the dangers of human trafficking

When it comes to human trafficking, would you know what signs to look for?

Human trafficking is happening all over the country, including in local neighborhoods. Learn about this growing problem at a free Human Trafficking Awareness Forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at Heritage Church of Christ, 4201 Heritage Trace Parkway.

Guest speaker will be Officer Hannah Rivard, a homeland security investigations officer in the Fort Worth Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit.

To learn more, contact Officer Barry Sawyer.

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Fort Worth scores a perfect 100 for LGBT inclusiveness on national scorecard

Fort Worth scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which measures cities’ inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The 2018 Municipal Equality Index is a rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law. To earn perfect scores, cities must embrace inclusive laws and policies that often go beyond explicit protections offered by their state or the federal government, the report stated.

This is the third consecutive year Fort Worth has scored 100. Fort Worth scored 99 points in 2015, 83 points in 2014, 91 points in 2013 and 89 points in 2012.

Fort Worth’s 2018 scores, based on five broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination laws, 30 out of 30 points.
  • The municipality’s employment practices, 20 out of 28 points.
  • Municipal services, 12 out of 12 plus six bonus points.
  • Law enforcement, 22 out of 22 points.
  • Leadership on LGBTQ equality, seven out of eight points plus four bonus points.

Here’s how other Texas cities stacked up on the scorecard:

  • Austin, 100 points.
  • Dallas, 100 points.
  • San Antonio, 100 points.
  • Houston, 70 points.
  • El Paso, 51 points.
  • Arlington, 48 points.

The full report, including scorecards for every city and a searchable database, is available on the Human Rights Campaign website.

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Hearing to study bicycle use on state highways

The Texas Department of Transportation’s Fort Worth District is partnering with the North Central Texas Council of Governments to offer a public hearing on district transportation projects, programs and policies affecting bicycle use on the state highway system.

The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 29 at NRH Centre, 6000 Hawk Ave. in North Richland Hills. An open house begins at 6 p.m. with a formal presentation to follow at 7 p.m.

Displays illustrating existing bike facilities and upcoming projects on the state system in the Fort Worth District will be available for viewing during the open house.

Comments must be received by Nov. 14 to be a part of the official public hearing record.

To learn more, contact TxDOT at 817-370-6591.

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Council to look at truck parking on city streets

The City Council will consider the problem of truck parking on city streets on Oct. 23.

Truck storage is not allowed on public streets. City staff is recommending increasing the parking fine for oversized commercial vehicles on a public street from $35 to $200, the maximum allowed.

Truck storage refers to unoccupied, commercial vehicles that are stored on property overnight or long term. Where outdoor truck storage is the primary use of a property, the property must be zoned ‘I” “J” or “K” industrial, and the owner must obtain a special exception from the Board of Adjustment and comply with certain standards:

  • The storage must be secured from vandalism, theft or other mischievous acts.
  • The storage must be surrounded by a screen fence a minimum of six feet to screen the storage from public view. No material may be visible above the required fence.
  • The storage may not be placed in any area that will interfere with the natural flow of stormwater drainage.
  • No storage of unregistered motor vehicles, wrecked or dismantled vehicles or vehicles being retained for the purpose of removing or using parts is permitted.

Where outdoor truck storage is an accessory use on property supporting a business, no special exception is required, and the primary building must have a certificate of occupancy. Also, truck stops that provide retail sales and fueling as a primary use are allowed in industrial zoning.

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Organizations condemn anti-immigrant activities

Recent anti-immigrant activity in Fort Worth has prompted two city-affiliated organizations to issue statements condemning the actions.

Statement from the Task Force on Race and Culture

Fort Worth is striving to become a city that values diversity and inclusion. For the past year, the Task Force on Race and Culture has been working with residents to recommend strategies and actions that will reinforce these values by reducing racial and cultural disparities. The task force respects each person’s right to free speech, but considers recent anti-immigrant activity in our community — including the placement of defamatory banners and fliers on public property — to be fundamentally incompatible with our core values and beliefs.

We encourage residents to report any activity that may target a segment of our community. If you see a hateful sign, banner or flier, please call the Fort Worth Police Department at the non-emergency number, 817-392-4222, say that you want to report a hate incident and request that an officer be sent to the scene. The officer will thus be able to document and remove the item if it is on city property and to initiate an appropriate report. We urge residents to allow the police to handle these situations and not to remove the sign, banner or flier themselves. If you have already done so, however, please file an official police report anyway so the police will have a record of the incident. We are confident that the Fort Worth Police Department will respond swiftly and appropriately to these hate incidents.

When our community is faced with such hateful acts, it is essential that we pull together, declaring and reinforcing the fact that these groups do not represent our core values or our community. The stated vision of the task force is that Fort Worth will become a city that is inclusive, equitable, respectful, communal and compassionate. We must do everything we can to uphold our values and not allow any individual or group to target any segment of our community. We must unite at these times to make our vision a reality for our city.

Statement from the Human Relations Commission

The Fort Worth Human Relations Commission (FWHRC) held a special-called meeting at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 15 to receive an update on recent incidents involving banners and fliers and to discuss possible action. The FWHRC voted to issue the following statement:

Fort Worth is a community that values diversity and inclusion. Since its creation by city ordinance in 1967, the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission has sought to uphold the city’s declared public policy that all of its residents and persons subject to its jurisdiction should enjoy equal freedom to pursue their aspirations and that discrimination against any individual or group because of race, creed, color, sex, religion, disability, age, national origin, familial status, sexual orientation, transgender, gender identity or gender expression is detrimental to the peace, progress and welfare of the city.

The FWHRC respects each person’s right to free speech, but considers any form of hate activity in our community to be fundamentally incompatible with our common values and beliefs.

We encourage residents to report hate activity involving the placement of printed materials on public property to the Fort Worth Police Department at the non-emergency number 817-392-4222. When you call, state that you want to report a hate incident, and request that an officer be sent to the scene. The officer will thus be able to document and remove the item if it is on city property and to initiate an appropriate report. We urge residents to allow the police to handle these situations and not to remove the sign, banner or flier. If you have already done so, however, please file an official police report anyway so the police will have a record of the incident.

Working together, we can send the message that such hateful acts have no place in our city and that Fort Worth is a community that values diversity and inclusion.

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$200,000 grant to enhance trails at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

Thanks to a fundraising effort led by the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department awarded a $200,000 recreational trails grant to enhance trail facilities.

The Friends raised more than $100,000 in matching funds for the project. The grant will fund additional parking, trail stabilization and restoration as well as a trailhead kiosk and a compost toilet.

The project will take place at the southern portion of the nature center’s 20 miles of trails at Greer Island. This area suffered extensive flooding in 2014 and 2015, creating the need for restoration.

Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, presented the Friends with a check for $200,000 at a reception honoring Fort Worth resident Ralph Duggins, who was appointed Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission chairman earlier this year. The event also kicked off the initial phase of the nature center’s plans to preserve and enhance one of the largest urban nature parks with the goal of making it one of the best in the country.

The trails are used by more than 60,000 visitors annually with a growth rate of 6 percent per year. The trail system forms one of the largest and most diverse trail systems in North Central Texas.

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Traffic switch on East Rosedale as work continues

Work continues on East Rosedale Street. Phase one of construction is almost complete. Weather permitting, traffic will switch from the north lanes to the south lanes on Wednesday, Oct. 17. This switch will move traffic from the old asphalt lanes to the new concrete lanes recently completed.

Traffic operations will continue to be a single-lane each way from Miller Avenue to Loop 820. The next phase of construction is expected to last approximately seven months.

Upon completion of this next phase, both eastbound and westbound lanes will be separated by a median and will be open for traffic while median work continues.

Vehicular traffic should continue to follow signage and watch for workers in the area.

The project is scheduled to be completed in summer of 2019.

For more information or questions, contact Raul Lopez at Raul.Lopez@FortWorthTexas.gov or 817-392-2457.

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Flame sign above former gas building temporarily coming down

The iconic flame sign that has perched atop the former Lone Star Gas Building since 1957 is temporarily coming down. Efforts are underway to identify funding to restore and reinstall it.

Due to recent storms, the sign has become structurally unsound and will be removed and stored at a city facility until additional funding for restoration can be identified. Once restored, the sign may be considered by the City Council for inclusion in the Fort Worth Public Art collection, allowing it to be properly maintained as a cultural icon.

An emergency certificate of appropriateness for removing the sign has been issued by the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission. The sign will be labeled and photographed before storage. Original drawings of the sign are filed with the city’s Planning & Development Department and Facilities Management Department.

The restoration will cost approximately $120,000. Atmos Energy has pledged $60,000 toward the restoration.

About the building

The former Lone Star Gas Co. headquarters, 908 Monroe St., was designed by Fort Worth architect Wyatt C. Hedrick in 1929 as a four-story building that could be expanded with three additional floors. Those three floors were added to the top of the building in 1957; they were also designed by Hedrick.

That same year, the blue flame neon sign of the Lone Star Gas logo was installed atop the building. The enamel-painted rotating sign featured neon lighting. The sign was designed, constructed and installed by Federal Electric Sign Co., now called Federal Heath Sign Co.

The building features Art Deco styling and has a beautiful lobby that has been restored. The Fort Worth Water Department and other city offices currently occupy the building. The building is designated a historic and cultural landmark and includes the Lone Star Gas sign as an essential element.

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Read Fort Worth needs your vote to receive $100,000 grant

Read Fort Worth is one of three finalist organizations in the running for a $100,000 donation from Reliant Gives, a charitable-giving program from Reliant Energy.

Reliant Gives will help support initiatives that promote children’s literacy in Fort Worth ISD, such as reading volunteers and the Library Classroom campaign. The shared mission of Read Fort Worth and Fort Worth ISD is to align partners, strategies and resources to significantly improve early childhood literacy so that 100 percent of Fort Worth third-graders are reading on grade level by 2025.

From Oct. 15-21, the public can vote online. The nonprofit with the most votes receives $100,000. The other two nonprofits receive $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, based on the number of votes received.

Reliant employees nominated a wide selection of Texas nonprofits, which are narrowed to three finalists for each round. Winners will be announced Oct. 23.

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Top three finalists move forward in Fort Worth Business Plan Competition

Ten entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to a panel of judges during last night’s sold-out Fort Worth Business Plan Competition Pitch Night, and three competitors will move on to the final round.

These three finalists are:

  • Carlo Capua and Cortney Gumbleton of Locavore, an all-inclusive resource for foodie entrepreneurs looking to affordably scale up their business, including a commercial kitchen and event venue for rent.
  • Mateson Gutierrez of Cache, a mobile app that allows consumers direct access to purchase wholesale tax foreclosure properties from anywhere in the world, with no experience in real estate required.
  • Saryina and Glen Oliver of Aspen Tyke Traveler, a developer of innovative, supportive bag and packing systems that help prepare new parents for on-the-go adventures with young children.

Attend the finals on Oct. 25

RSVP online to see these competitors give their final round of pitches in front of the judges from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the TCU Brown Lupton University Union Ballroom, 2901 Stadium Dr.

The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 in cash, the runner-up will receive $5,000 in cash, and third place will receive $3,000 in cash. Additionally, the winners will receive various in-kind services, such as program memberships and access to co-working space at IDEA Works, video production with CoLAB Creative Group LLC, business consulting and coaching services, and more.

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