Celebrate Municipal Courts Week Nov. 6-10

Municipal Courts Week, Nov. 6-10, demonstrates Fort Worth’s recognition of the importance of municipal courts, the rule of law and the fair and impartial administration of justice.

During Municipal Courts Week, Fort Worth will conduct a Safe Harbor initiative, meaning that residents visiting a Municipal Court location will not be arrested for outstanding warrants.

In addition, several events will be held during the week, including community engagement activities, educational opportunities and staff appreciation.

An open house is planned for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 10 at both court locations: A.D. Marshall Public Safety Building, 1000 Throckmorton St., and Southwest Municipal Court, 3741 S.W. Loop 820 (southeast of the Trail Lake Drive intersection).

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NASCAR races at TMS bring heavy traffic surrounding speedway

Residents and visitors should expect traffic delays as NASCAR events at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) rev up. Upcoming events:

Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m., O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity Series.

Nov. 5, 1 p.m., AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Areas around I-35W and its intersection with Highway 114, and at FM 156 and Highway 114 will be especially congested all weekend. Traffic around the newly-opened Tanger Outlet adjacent to TMS will add to the congestion.

Fans traveling to the speedway are asked to follow directions from police officers and traffic control attendants. All lanes and gates will permit entry, so the Fort Worth Police Department asks patrons to stay in their designated lanes once in the cone pattern.

North Tarrant Express officials said there will be no new short-term closures on I-35W, excluding emergency closures, between Friday and Sunday between Western Center Boulevard and North Tarrant Parkway.

Traffic leaving the speedway after each race will be placed into different traffic lanes from the exit gates. Each lane will go to a specific major roadway. Watch for signs.

Officer W.T. Watkins with the Fort Worth Police Department said designated officers will work a special detail to provide extra patrols and security to neighborhoods surrounding the speedway.

View a map showing routes to the track.

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Volunteer with VITA to help provide free income tax assistance for families in Tarrant County

The City of Fort Worth is partnering with the United Way of Tarrant County to offer free income tax assistance for local families through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

The VITA program targets low- to middle-income families with a household income of $55,000 or less and offers free tax assistance and income tax filing. VITA also offers additional financial education training on how to manage finances by reducing debt and building assets.

This year, taxpayers can use VITA services three ways: through traditional visits to the VITA site, through VITA On The Go and through MyFreeTaxes.com.

VITA On The Go gives taxpayers the flexibility to drop off their tax information, have their taxes prepared within three days and return to the site to review and complete their tax filing.

MyFreeTaxes.com gives taxpayers the ability to prepare and file returns through computers at VITA sites. Certified tax preparers are available to answer questions.

All VITA volunteers are IRS-certified in tax law and must receive a score of 80 percent or higher to achieve this certification. Volunteers are also required to complete ethics training through the Volunteer Standards of Conduct.

This year, VITA sites will be located across Tarrant County.

Volunteers needed

The Fort Worth VITA program is seeking volunteers to assist during the upcoming tax filing season, which runs through April. Volunteers can get involved by becoming:

  • Greeters, who welcome and direct customers while overseeing sign-in.
  • Intake specialists, who ensure customers have the necessary documentation to complete their income tax return and help them complete the information in their VITA packet.
  • Interpreters, who provide free interpretation and translation services to customers not fluent in English, or customers who need additional assistance.
  • Tax preparers, who prepare simple tax returns and discuss the return with the customer after the quality review process is complete.

No prior qualification is required to be a VITA tax preparer, and VITA volunteers are not liable for mistakes, per the Volunteer Protection Act. A VITA staff person will be present with the volunteer at all times, and each tax return is reviewed before being submitted to the IRS.

Continuing education credits are available for tax return preparers and other enrolled agents who work as volunteers for the VITA program. These credits could include up to 14 hours of credit as quality reviewers or tax return preparers, eight hours of credit as tax law instructors and up to 18 hours of credit by meeting the requirements for quality reviewers, tax return preparers or instructors.

Qualifying volunteers must complete the Volunteer Standards of Conduct Training, certify in tax law using Link & Learn Taxes and meet the minimum requirements as quality reviewers, tax return preparers or instructors.

Become a volunteer by visiting the VITA website or by contacting VITA by email.

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New rules of procedure in place for residents addressing Council meetings

The City Council approved new rules of procedures for residents who want to speak at City Council meetings. The new rules go into effect Nov. 30.

Here’s what you need to know:

Sign up to speak

Everybody who chooses to speak before Council must register by 5 p.m. on the day of the meeting. There are several ways to register:

  • Drop by the City Secretary’s Office on the third floor of City Hall, 200 Texas St.
  • Call the City Secretary’s Office at 817-392-6150.
  • Filling out a speaker card online using the links available on the online Council Agenda.

Written comments may be submitted in lieu of making an oral presentation.

Make your presentation

  • Begin by stating your name and your city of residence.
  • You will be allowed three minutes to address the Council. The meeting chair, at his or her discretion, may reduce the time to two minutes per speaker.
  • Group presentations are permitted as long as a speaker is representing at least 10 other people. Provide those names when you register. All 10 people must be present in the Council Chamber and will be asked to stand and be recognized when their name is called.
  • Group presentations can be up to six minutes long; however, if all 10 people are not present, the presentation is limited to three minutes.

Rules of conduct

Residents have the right to criticize policies, procedures, programs and services, but speakers must stick to the time limits and stay on topic.

New rules of conduct prohibit behavior that fails to yield the floor when the speaker’s time is concluded; is not relevant to the agenda item or city business; repeatedly interrupts a councilmember; disturbs the order of the meeting; involves loud, threatening, hostile, abusive, vulgar or obscene language; and intends to break up the council meeting with prolonged loud yelling or clapping.

View tips for making successful presentations to the City Council.

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Andrew Avenue and Pate Drive to be rehabilitated

The city’s Transportation & Public Works Department is hosting a community meeting to inform residents of the upcoming construction on two streets in the Lake Shore Area:

  • Andrew Avenue from Elgin Street to Kutman Court.
  • Pate Drive from East Berry Street to Ramey Avenue.

The meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at the TCC Opportunity Center, 1509 Fitzhugh Ave.

Make plans to attend the meeting to find out about the construction scheduled and impacts to residents.

To learn more about the project, contact Kristian Sugrim at 817-392-8902.

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Park board approves new name for Jefferson Davis Park

The Fort Worth Park & Recreation Advisory Board voted unanimously to change the name of Jefferson Davis Park to Parque Unidad/Unity Park.

The name change must go before a vote of the City Council. The item is currently scheduled to be presented on Dec. 12.

Community members suggested in an online petition that the park be renamed Parque Unidad/Unity Park. At its September meeting, the board asked city staff to expedite the renaming process.

The 8.6-acre neighborhood park, 4001 Townsend Drive, was named Jefferson Davis Park in 1923 after the president of the Confederacy.

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City routinely conducts testing for lead in water at day care centers

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The City of Fort Worth will present a series of informative articles during the week. The theme of this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.

With children spending more time in day care facilities, safety and sanitation is a top priority. Testing for lead in drinking water at day care facilities is also important because children spend a lot of time in these facilities and are very likely to consume water while there.

Fort Worth’s Code Compliance Department has been inspecting commercial day care centers since an ordinance took effect in 1992. Testing for lead in the drinking water is part of those inspections.

Even though water delivered from the city’s public water supply must meet federal and state standards for lead, a building’s plumbing may contribute to elevated lead levels in drinking water.

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause permanent health damage, especially in children under 6. Young children staying at day care centers are constantly using tap water and are at a greater risk of being exposed to lead and copper if the water pipes are leaking those metals.

The city’s health inspectors test the tap water in day care centers to identify potential risks of lead and copper exposure to children. This allows the operator to remediate the risk before they open for business.

The city inspects 220 permitted day care facilities. Inspections are conducted before issuing a health permit. Additionally, day care centers will be inspected when there’s a change of ownership, if they are newly built, when water pipes have been repaired or replaced or when a complaint arises.

Learn more.

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Northbound Montgomery detours in place starting Oct. 30

Northbound traffic on Montgomery Street will be detoured onto Trail Drive and Harley Avenue to install new concrete paving. The detour will begin Oct. 30 and last for approximately two weeks. Southbound traffic will remain on Montgomery Street.

Drivers are encouraged to use University Drive to West Lancaster Avenue as an alternate route.

The northbound lanes of Montgomery Street from Linden to Camp Bowie have had pavement removed, waterline and storm drains installed, underground electrical conduit installed, and lime stabilization completed in October. Atmos gas lines, Oncor electric lines, Charter and AT&T telecommunications lines have been relocated.

Concrete road and sidewalk paving begins Oct. 30 and is expected to be completed by Dec. 22.

To learn more, contact Michael Weiss at 817-392-8485.

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Know the other sources of lead hazards

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The City of Fort Worth will present a series of informative articles during the week. The theme of this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.

Exposure to lead is dangerous to pregnant women and children under 6. It is important to know where items containing lead can be found and how to prevent those items from harming family members.

While paint, dust and soil are the most common sources of lead, there are other common lead hazards inside a home:

Imported makeup. Brands such as Sindoor, Kohl, Kajal, Al-Kahal, Surma, Tiro, Tozali or Kwalli are traditional eyeliners, popular in many parts of the world. They are a serious health concern because they commonly contain large amounts of lead and other heavy metals. These products are not allowed for sale in the U.S. Nevertheless, these products sometimes make their way into specialty markets in this country.

Drinking water. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might contain lead, use only cold water for drinking and cooking, and run water for 15-30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours. Learn more.

Older toys, older furniture and play jewelry. Toys and play jewelry manufactured in other countries and imported into the United States, or antique toys and collectibles passed down through generations, put children at risk to lead exposure. Avoid buying vintage toys and furniture. Do not buy toys in discount stores and estate sales. Do not buy play jewelry that children can put in their mouths.

Imported glazed pottery. Lead may be present in the glazes or decorations covering the surfaces of some traditional pottery. Typical use of glazed pottery includes coffee mugs, plates and pans used for cooking or consuming foods.

Home remedies. Home remedies and medicines can help cure sick people. However, some of these home remedies contain lead and will make both children and adults very sick. Folk remedies, such as “greta” and “azarcon,” are used to treat upset stomach. If details about home remedies are not visible on a label, discard the product and never use them on children.

Candy and spices. Avoid products like tamarindo, chili or imported spices like turmeric. Candy, foods and liquids cooked or stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain may contain lead. Avoid eating items that are delivered by family members or friends from countries that do not regulate lead contaminants in candies or spices.

Certain jobs. If you work in one of these jobs, you could bring lead home on your body or clothes: car repair, construction, painting, mining and plumbing. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family’s clothes. Shower and change before having contact with family members.

Certain hobbies. Hobbies that use lead include hunting (using lead bullets), fishing (using lead sinkers), making pottery or stained glass or refinishing furniture. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family’s clothes. Shower and change before having contact with family members.

To learn more about testing your home, testing your child or child lead poisoning, contact the city’s Lead-Safe Program at 817-392-7319.

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Join Mayor Price for the spookiest ride of the year

Mayor Betsy Price’s Spooky Bike Ride moves to a fun new location this year.

The party and ride will be at Founder’s Park at Walsh, 13801 Walsh Ave. The family-oriented ride through the Walsh neighborhood starts at 5 p.m. Oct. 28. The after-party, with food, music and fun, is 6-9 p.m.

To celebrate literacy, come dressed as your favorite book character. (Word on the street is that Price may be dressed as Alice in Wonderland.)

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