Redistricting Task Force sets first meeting Sept. 17

A City Council-appointed, 11-member Redistricting Task Force that will advise on redistricting criteria and procedures will meet for the first time at 4 p.m. Sept. 17.

The in-person meeting will be conducted in Room 2020 at City Hall, 200 Texas St. The meeting will also be available remotely via Webex videoconference. Access code: 126 099 9988.

In 2016, Fort Worth voters approved an amendment to the City Charter to increase the number of City Councilmembers from nine to 11 following the completion of the 2020 Census. The Task Force on Race and Culture in December 2018 recommended the goal of ensuring that the City Council reflects the diverse communities that it represents.

At the Thursday meeting, task force members will hear remarks from Mayor Betsy Price, hear a charge to the task force, learn about the legal basis for redistricting, and view a demonstration of redistricting software.

Task force meetings are open to the public. Residents who wish to address the task force during public presentations must sign up to speak no later than 12:30 p.m. on the day of the meeting. To sign up, register through WebEx or contact Mary Kayser at 817-392-6150.

Visitors to City Hall must undergo a temperature check and health screening upon entering, and masks or face coverings are required.

Watch the meeting live on Fort Worth TV, either online, or on TV. You can also watch the meeting via the Fort Worth TV video library.

Future task force meetings:

  • Oct. 15, 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 19, 4 p.m.
  • Feb. 4, 2021, 4 p.m.

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Sales tax collections down slightly in July

Fort Worth’s net sales tax collections in July totaled $13,097,419, down from July 2019 by 1.8%.

The city’s General Fund net sales tax collections through July are 96.2% to budget and at 100.6% through the same period last year. The Crime Control and Prevention District Fund sales tax collections through July are 97.3% to budget, and 100.6% through the same period last year.

The city originally anticipated collecting $172,769,615 in the General Fund by fiscal year end according to the FY2020 adopted budget.

Current collections are performing in line with expectations considering the adverse effects of COVID-19. Net collections performed better than the state’s decrease of 5.63% compared to last year. Future collections will continue to provide further understanding of the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic.

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.

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Trinity Metro offers free rides for job seekers

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many Tarrant County residents suffered job losses and are looking for new employment opportunities. Trinity Metro is providing free rides for job seekers on all of its services.

“The pandemic impacted many people’s careers,” said Wayne Gensler, vice president and chief operating officer of bus and paratransit. “We know job seekers will be using our services to travel to job fairs and interviews, so we want to help them by providing free rides.”

Customers will need to provide a communication from the hiring company to the bus operator or train conductor. Examples include a document (email or text or flier) indicating the date of the interview from the hiring company and/or job fair. On the day of the interview or job fair, the rider will show the document and ID to the bus operator or train conductor.

Free rides will be offered on all buses, trains, ACCESS and ZIPZONE services in Tarrant County. ZIPZONE riders will need to enter a code when booking their ride. To obtain a one-time code for a round trip on ZIPZONE, call customer care at 817-215-8600 and provide the time, date and location of the interview or job fair, and the representative will provide a code.

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Experience the unbreakable bond and love with a shelter pet

The PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend will look a bit different this month. But, the great news is, instead of just one weekend, adoptions can be made during a multi-day event – and two weekends.

The Fort Worth Animal Shelter continues to help keep everyone safe and healthy during COVID-19, whether you visit the main shelter or the two PetSmart Adoption Centers.

The adoption event is scheduled for Sep. 14 -30 at all three of the shelter’s locations. Adoption fees are reduced to $10 for dogs and cats. Fees include an initial medical examination, vaccinations, micro-chip and spay/neuter services. Adopters also receive a coupon book and a complimentary bag of pet food courtesy of PetSmart Charities.

In the eyes of a shelter pet, there’s nothing more important than having a family to love. Fort Worth shelter pets deserve a chance to have that unbreakable bond. Nearly 500 dogs and cats, kittens and puppies are in the shelter, and each of them is waiting to meet their new family.

Check out all three adoption locations:

  • Chuck Silcox Animal Care & Adoption Center, 4900 Martin St.
  • PetSmart Adoption Center Hulen, 4800 S.W. Loop 820 (I-20 at Hulen).
  • PetSmart Adoption Center Alliance, 2901 Texas Sage Trail (I-35W at Heritage Trace).

View available pets on Facebook and online.

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Founder and president of Fort Worth-based RFD-TV to be featured on CBS Sunday Morning

This Sunday at 8 a.m., popular national television series CBS Sunday Morning will feature founder and president of Rural Media Group Patrick Gottsch. The episode will showcase Gottsch’s 20-year journey with RFD-TV and his mission to serve rural America in an urban-dominated media environment.

RFD-TV has evolved into Rural Media Group, which includes a sister station in the Fort Worth Stockyards, The Cowboy Channel and a Sirius XM satellite radio station, Rural Radio on Sirius XM channel 147.

The vision for RFD-TV started with two main goals in mind: to serve the needs and interest of rural America, specifically farmers and ranchers, and to reconnect urban viewers with their rural cousins.

Gottsch left farming in 1984 and began installing satellite dishes throughout eastern Nebraska. He quickly realized the need to develop a television network that would serve the needs and interests of rural America not being addressed by urban cable channels. RFD-TV launched in December 2000.

“To have a feature story on CBS Sunday Morning is truly a dream come true for our company,” Gottsch said. “I grew up watching Charles Kuralt host the original Sunday Morning show. Postcards from Nebraska was my favorite segment, and I can’t help but believe that this quality program strongly influenced the desire to form a whole network with similar content.”

Tune into CBS Sunday Morning at 8 a.m Sept. 13 on KTVT-11.

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North Texans invited to comment on transportation funding programs

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is conducting an online input opportunity to give residents the chance to comment on a series of transportation initiatives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

North Texans are encouraged to provide their input through Oct. 7.

NCTCOG staff will provide information related to fiscal year 2020 proposed transit projects funded by the Federal Transit Administration. Programs of projects will be presented from the cities of Arlington, Grand Prairie, McKinney and Mesquite, as well as Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Denton County Transportation Authority, NCTCOG, Trinity Metro, Northeast Transportation Service, Public Transit Services, Span Inc. and STAR Transit.

Funding programs include Urbanized Area Formula, Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities, State of Good Repair, and Bus and Bus Facilities.

NCTCOG staff will also present findings from the Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Impact Study. The study was conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute in coordination with NCTCOG. The study characterized and estimated emission impacts of oversize/overweight vehicles on air quality in the Dallas-Fort Worth nonattainment area.

Additionally, staff will present details and opportunities related to electric vehicle infrastructure funding and other clean vehicle incentives. Rebate funding will soon be available for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations across Texas through the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program. Staff will present key details on how to take advantage of this funding as well as provide other opportunities available for North Texans or fleets to acquire cleaner vehicles.

Staff will also present details of the $5 million Optimizing Freight Movement Project proposal designed to improve the flow of truck traffic between freight hubs and expressways. The project will identify where improving the flow of trucks can do the most good and select one or more technologies to enhance truck travel.

In addition to the presentations, proposed modifications to the list of funded projects will be posted for review and comment.

Finally, information on the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program and vehicle incentive opportunities will be available.

To request printed copies of the information, call 817-608-2365 or email NCTCOG.

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Attention, job seekers. Virtual hiring fair set for Sept. 11

Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County is hosting its fourth annual Industry Discovery Expo in celebration of Careers in Texas Industries.

This statewide initiative, in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tri-Agency partners, is an initiative to promote statewide and regional industry clusters that support a variety of businesses and job creation through employer partnerships across Texas.

The Industry Discovery Expo and virtual job fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 11. After the live event has ended, job seekers will be able to view information about the businesses that are hiring as well as express interest in job openings until 5 p.m. Sept. 12.

Register online.

Learn more via email.

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Tarrant County ban on outdoor burning has been lifted

A countywide ban on outdoor burning has been lifted by the Tarrant County fire marshal.

The Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court had approved an outdoor burning ban for Tarrant County in August. All outdoor burning was prohibited for 90 days after the unincorporated areas of Tarrant County were determined to be under drought conditions by the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The ban was lifted Sept. 8 following widespread rainfall across the area.

Nonetheless, the Fire Marshal’s Office reminds residents to observe the following requirements:

  • Burn only in unincorporated areas of Tarrant County.
  • Contact the Tarrant County Fire Alarm Center at 817-232-9800 on the day you plan to burn to register your address and to confirm it is an allowable burn day. The Fire Alarm Center is open 24/7.
  • The party responsible for the burn must be present at all times and remains liable for damages.
  • Begin burning no earlier than one hour after sunrise and end the same day no later than one hour before sunset. No burning at night.
  • Make sure the smoke does not blow toward a neighbor’s house or onto a road.
  • The burn must be downwind and at least 300 feet from structures on adjacent properties.
  • Only burn brush, tree limbs, grass clippings or leaves. The material must be generated from the property. No hauling in. No burning of construction material, heavy oils or chemical wastes.
  • No burning if wind speeds (either constant or gusts) are greater than 23 mph.
  • To conduct prescribed burns, contact the Tarrant County Fire Marshal’s Office for approval.

To report someone illegally burning outdoors, call the Tarrant County Fire Alarm Center at 817-232-9800 or the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office at 817-884-1315.

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Applications open today for second round of Preserve the Fort business grants

Applications for the second round of Preserve the Fort business grants open at 3 p.m. this afternoon to help local businesses who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2.

Almost $9 million is available to businesses through these grants, which are funded from a portion of the City of Fort Worth’s CARES Act allocation.

Thanks to the success of the first round of Preserve the Fort grants earlier this summer, the city’s Economic Development Department and United Way of Tarrant County have expanded the grant criteria to include slightly larger businesses with up to 500 employees, in addition to smaller for-profit businesses and self-employed individuals/independent contractors.

Special focus is also being given to bars and music venues that were forced to close as of June 26. These businesses are eligible for a grant up to three times their lost average monthly revenue before the COVID-19 disaster declaration of March 13. This award will be capped at $100,000. Businesses must demonstrate a financial impact due to COVID-19 that meets or exceeds the eligible grant amount to receive the full award.

Performing arts nonprofits will be eligible for a grant of up to 1.5 times their gross average monthly revenue before the COVID-19 disaster declaration occurred on March 13. This award will be capped at $100,000 and can be used to cover expenses from sales and concessions.

Lastly, nonprofit businesses are eligible for a Preserve the Fort grant that covers up to 75% of expenses incurred as part of their COVID-19 reopening efforts. The grant will reimburse nonprofits for expenses like personal protective equipment (PPE), plexiglass barriers, sanitizer stands and more.

A complete list of eligibility information and required documentation, for both businesses and nonprofits, is currently available on the Preserve the Fort webpage.

Document assistance available to business owners

As with the first round of Preserve the Fort grants, business owners must submit a variety of financial documentation with their application to verify their financial need. However, this may be the first time that many businesses have had to apply for financial assistance, and the process can be overwhelming.

To address this challenge, the City of Fort Worth is leveraging its partnerships to provide business owners with help to prepare their documentation, particularly their profit and loss statements. Spearheaded by Fort Worth Now, a team of volunteers will be on standby over the next several weeks to help answer questions about the documentation required for the application. Volunteers will even be available on weekends and after 5 p.m., to accommodate business owners with nontraditional working hours.

Business owners can schedule an appointment time that’s convenient for them, and will receive a 30-minute phone call from a volunteer at the appointed time to discuss whatever they need help with – whether it’s explaining documentation requirements, providing direction on the application itself, or assisting with the creation of profit and loss statements.

These document assistance appointments begin Wednesday, Sept. 9, and business owners can schedule their appointment online. Document assistance is also available in Spanish.

Business owners will be expected to submit up to seven documents – including a 2019 federal tax return, their profit and loss statement for 2019, their profit and loss statement for 2020 with data broken down by month, and a proof of employment Q1 2020 941 – as part of their application.

A faster and stronger recovery

“It’s critical that we continue to support our residents and businesses throughout the pandemic,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “By supporting our small businesses, including bars and performing art nonprofits, we can all work to ensure that Fort Worth recovers faster and stronger.”

“While we had many successes with the first round of Preserve the Fort, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Robert Sturns, the city’s economic development director. “In addition to our small-business owners, several of the industries for which Fort Worth is known – our bars and restaurants, our arts scene, our music venues and others – are all still struggling. This second round of funding will hopefully help offset some of the damage from the past few months.”

“United Way of Tarrant County is pleased to partner again with the City of Fort Worth on the Preserve the Fort small business grant program,” said Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “The initial round of funding provided a much-needed lifeline to more than 800 small businesses, and yet we continue to see economic devastation, especially among small business owners, as a result of COVID-19. The distribution of the next round of funds will support even more locally owned companies in Fort Worth and help them avoid layoffs or keep from going out of business.”

Important notes

  • Businesses that have already received a Preserve the Fort grant earlier this summer are still eligible to receive another one during this second round of funding.

  • Businesses that received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan are still eligible for this grant.

  • Credit scores and existing debt will not be taken into account before the funds are awarded.

  • Businesses and nonprofits that receive Preserve the Fort grants will be expected to keep track of how their grant money is spent, and may be called upon to produce these documents in the event of a financial audit.

  • Business owners are encouraged to apply at FortWorthTexas.gov/preserve-the-fort until 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, and follow the city’s Economic Development Facebook page for updates.

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Free workshops offer advice on financing

The Neighborhood Services Department is moving its Financial Empowerment Program online, offering additional webinars on planning to pay for higher education and buying a car. The workshops are presented by GM Financial.

Workshops are free, but registration is required to receive a webinar link.

Upcoming webinars:
Sept. 10, 1-2 p.m. Higher Education: Paying for College. College costs are rising, but with strategic planning and saving, paying for education can be within your reach. Regardless of your financial situation, there are smart ways to plan and pay for education. Explore options that may be available to you and your family.
Sept. 16, 3-4 p.m. Buying a Car. This virtual KEYS experience is designed to help you get into the driver’s seat by providing tools and information to use whenever you are ready to purchase your next vehicle.

The workshops will provide greater knowledge of key financial concepts and strategies for making small changes that improve financial well-being and reduce stress.

View additional workshops and seminars.

To learn more, email Financial Compass.

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