Haws Athletic Center to be closed for a week

Haws Athletic Center, 600 Congress St., will be closed Jan. 22-26 for work on an obsolete radio tower nearby. Programs typically held at Haws will not be held during that period.

Three city-owned radio towers are being decommissioned due to new technologies coming online. One tower is located near Haws Athletic Center, one is near the former KXAS TV studios in east Fort Worth, and one is at the Holly Water Treatment Plant west of downtown. When removing these towers, activity within a 300-foot safety zone must cease. The public will not be affected by the tower work at KXAS or at Holly Water Treatment Plant.

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Don’t want the flu? Here’s what you can do

Tarrant County Public Health reports that the Fort Worth area is experiencing a flu outbreak that is one of the more serious of the past decade.

“Recognize the early symptoms of this disease and consult your health care provider so you can get on an antiviral medicine like Tamiflu or Relenza. This could lessen the severity of the disease for you,” said Russell Jones, chief epidemiologist with Tarrant County Public Health.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to hospitalization or death.

Important flu prevention tips for everyone:

  • Get a flu vaccine and avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you’re sick, limit personal contact to keep from infecting others. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever ends.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean shared spaces more often — desks, office equipment such as keyboards and phone receivers.
  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. They are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines and are not available over the counter.

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Book talk and signing to focus on African-American and Latino history

Attend a book talk and signing by Paul Ortiz, the award-winning author of “An African American and Latinx History of the United States,” at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at TCU’s Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom, 2901 Stadium Drive.

The event is free, but online reservations are encouraged.

Ortiz’s lecture will focus on his latest book, released by Beacon Press in January 2018 as part of the ReVisioning American History series, which consists of accessibly written books by notable scholars that reinterpret U.S. history from diverse perspectives.

Ortiz is an associate professor of history and director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

This event is sponsored by the Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies program at TCU and the City of Fort Worth Human Relations Unit.

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Race and Culture Task Force: The conversations continue

Six months into a yearlong effort to study racial equity and bias in Fort Worth, a city-appointed task force is intently listening to a diverse group of residents talk about issues related to race and culture in Fort Worth.

So far, about 600 residents have participated in the Race and Culture Task Force’s Town Hall and Community Conversations. Over the next two months, residents can share their input at one of 14 town hall meetings — dubbed “Continuing the Conversation” — at locations across Fort Worth. Each meeting will last two hours and provide a forum for sharing ideas and talking with others about the issues facing the community and ideas for improvement.

Upcoming meetings:

Jan. 18, 6:30 p.m., Northside Community Center, 1100 N.W. 18th St. (This meeting will be conducted primarily in Spanish; English interpreters will be available.)
Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m., Eugene McCray Community Center, 4932 Wilbarger St.
Jan. 27, 10 a.m., Martin Luther King Community Center, 5565 Truman Drive.
Jan. 27, 2 p.m., R.D. Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Road.
Jan 29, 6:30 p.m., East Regional Library, 6301 Bridge St.
Jan 31, 6:30 p.m., North West Library, 6228 Crystal Lake Dr.
Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m., Southwest Regional Library, 4001 Library Lane
Feb. 3, 10 a.m., Chisholm Trail Community Center, 4936 McPherson Blvd.
Feb. 3, 2 p.m., Victory Forest Community Center, 3427 Hemphill St.
Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m., Highland Hills Community Center, 1600 Glasglow Rd.
Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m., Diamond Hill Community Center, 1701 N.E. 36th St.
Feb. 10, 10 a.m., Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.
Feb. 10, 2 p.m., Riverside Community Center, 3700 Belknap St.
Feb. 17, 2 p.m., Summerglen Library, 4205 Basswood Blvd.

Residents may also submit comments and questions via email.

For regular updates on the task force’s work, follow them on social media:

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Race & Culture Task Force community update

The succeeding is an update from the Race & Culture Task Force:

In December 2016, Fort Worth gained national attention. Not for our world-class museums, historic stockyards or unprecedented economic growth, but because of a video involving a resident, her daughters and a Fort Worth police officer. In the days and months that followed, there were public outcries and calls for change. After the officer’s punishment was decided, the voices for equity and justice became louder.

The Fort Worth City Council heard the many voices in our community and in August 2017 they appointed a Task Force on Race and Culture. Four co-chairs were selected by the City Council. These chairs chose 19 other residents to join the Task Force. We looked for diversity and a passion to be involved. We selected some people who have served on other task forces and committees and some individuals who were new to city government. We brought together diverse representation based on race, age, gender and backgrounds.

The task force adopted their mission statement at its inaugural meeting.

The task force’s mission is to Listen, Learn, Build and Bridge in order to create an inclusive Fort Worth for all residents.

Over the past few months, the task force has focused on listening and learning from our residents. In October, we held a citywide town hall meeting where nearly 200 people came to speak and be heard. The meeting was also broadcast live and residents were encouraged to submit comments online.

The next opportunity to listen came through Community Conversations. Each conversation was hosted by one of 17 different community organizations and consisted of multiple sessions tackling some important questions:

  • What is the City of Fort Worth doing that helps or strengthens race relations, cultural awareness or racial equity?
  • Is racism a serious problem in Fort Worth?
  • What are you willing to do to improve racial equity, race/ethnic relations and/or cultural awareness in Fort Worth?

We heard from approximately 600 people and learned there are strong feelings surrounding this issue and residents want the opportunity to not only tell their stories but to find ways to improve the cultural climate in Fort Worth.

We heard that people want more opportunities to talk about race and culture. In answer to these requests, we scheduled 14 community meetings around the city. These will allow even more people to add their voices, and the task force to continue to listen and learn.

During its monthly meetings, the task force has received briefings on many topics including poverty, city workforce diversity, diversity of city boards and commissions, minority contracting, police relations, redistricting, and fair housing. To be transparent, we have recorded these meetings and made these recordings and handouts available at onefortworth.org.

Based on the comments from our public meetings and conversations, we have formed six committees to begin an in-depth look at the areas of the most concern to residents: criminal justice, transportation, housing, education, economic development and health. Each committee will bring back recommendations to the task force for inclusion in a final plan.

The City Council asked the task force to develop a plan with recommendations to improve race relations and racial equity in our community. We recognize that this is a huge task and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and yet we hope to deliver our findings to the council by August.

As we come to the end of our first six months as a task force, we will continue to listen and learn from our residents. At the same time, we will start to bring together these voices so that we can develop a plan that will build upon our unique and common experiences and bridge the gaps of differences that sometimes divide us.

Task Force Co-Chairs,
Lillie Biggins
Rabbi Andrew Bloom
Rosa Navejar
Bob Ray Sanders

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Join Mayor Price in the Community Challenge for fitness

It’s time to gear up for the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge. The statewide competition pits Texas communities against one another to see which can demonstrate their commitment to healthier cities and a healthier state.

The It’s Time Texas Community Challenge is an easy and fun way for entire Texas communities to demonstrate their commitment to healthy living. The challenge is being brought to Fort Worth by FitWorth.

This year, Fort Worth has been challenged by Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere.

“Come on Fort Worth, let’s show Plano what we’re made of,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “We all know that a healthy community is more united, more productive and more prosperous.”

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Fort Worth Bike Sharing stations closed near Stock Show

At the request of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the Gendy and Lansford streets station for Fort Worth Bike Sharing will be closed Jan. 5-Feb. 4.

Nearby stations that will remain open for Stock Show visitors include the art museums, UNT Health Science Center, Museum Place and Crockett Row.

Across the Fort Worth Bike Sharing system, there are 46 stations and 350 bicycles.

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New city education initiative looks to improve literacy, reading proficiency of Fort Worth children

The City of Fort Worth has set an ambitious goal for improving literacy and academic performance for its youngest residents, taking steps to ensure that by the year 2025, 100 percent of Fort Worth third-graders will be reading at or above grade level.

This 100×25 goal is only one component of the city’s new Education Initiative, which is led by Gleniece Robinson, former director of the Fort Worth Library. Her task is to coordinate the educational programs and activities of city departments in order to align them with the community’s larger educational goals like 100×25.

Background

In 2016, the Mayor and City Council took part in a brainstorming workshop identifying nine strategic challenges and opportunities facing Fort Worth. One of these challenges was a focus on education and workforce development.

But once the Council’s priority on education was combined with statistics from Fort Worth ISD, the numbers were less than flattering: The reading levels of Fort Worth ISD third-graders were compared to those of other large Texas school districts, and results showed that only 33 percent of Fort Worth third-graders were reading at grade level. Locally, Dallas and Arlington fared slightly better at 36 percent each, and Austin managed 48 percent, although several DFW school districts show promise: 86 percent of Carroll ISD’s third-graders are reading at grade level, as are 70 percent of Aledo’s third graders.

Statewide, Texas can only boast that 44 percent of its third-graders are reading at grade level.

Part of Fort Worth’s Education Initiative will involve learning from other cities, both locally and across the country, to establish best practices and find ways to incorporate those practices into educational programming coming out of city departments.

“Fort Worth wants to lead the way in increasing in these numbers,” Robinson said. “We want other Texas cities to follow our example, and we want to learn what we can from other cities so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

And the city won’t be doing it alone, thanks to partnerships with multiple agencies who are coming together to help make an impact on the education of Fort Worth students, including Fort Worth ISD, the local business community and a variety of community nonprofit education providers and funders, like Read Fort Worth.

Additionally, this education initiative allows Fort Worth to join several of its fellow index cities like Jacksonville, Fla., Indianapolis and Denver that have all developed education initiatives of their own during the past 20 years.

One of the first goals the group plans to tackle is to focus on Fort Worth’s elementary schools where STAAR tests suggest improvement is required. Several of these schools, including Logan Elementary, Como Elementary and John T. White Elementary, have had a spot on the “improvement required” list for five years.

There are some local bright spots though, as several Fort Worth schools with an economically-disadvantaged population of students (such as Washington Heights, Manuel Jara, Hubbard Heights and five others) have at least 40 percent or more of their third-graders reading at grade level.

A plan takes shape

The city’s education initiative will target kids ages 5-9, filling a niche between other organizations’ Early Learning programs and out-of-school programs geared toward older children.

The initiative has a strong focus on literacy, a unique set of skills that include reading, writing, listening and speaking. While literacy intervention is a rigorous, intentional use of curriculum tailored to individual students, the initiative also plans to provide literacy enhancements and activities that can utilize volunteers, like reading buddies or storytime.

Once literacy best practices have been explored and finalized, Robinson will work with nine city departments to find ways to incorporate literacy into their educational programming. Some department programs, like Camp Fort Worth (run by the Park & Recreation and Neighborhood Services departments) and the Families Reading Together program (run by the Library) are already off to a good start, but Robinson hopes that additional trained staff, new learning strategies and access to culturally-relevant books will help make the literacy components of these programs more robust.

Get involved

A “think tank” of city employees has already been created to help organize initiative efforts, and an action plan for the city’s Education Initiative is expected by the end of July.

A community advisory committee will also be established, which will hold conversations with residents to assess how the public can best use the city’s educational programming and address any barriers to attendance.

“Education is a big passion of mine,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “Education is central to all that we do — it lowers crime, it’s economic development and it really is community engagement.”

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Sales tax collections up in September, October

Fort Worth’s net sales tax collections in September totaled $13,958,731, up from September 2016 by $967,854, or 7.5 percent. Meanwhile, for October, net sales tax collections totaled $11,990,509, up $604.628, or 5.3 percent.

So far this fiscal year, sales tax collections are up 5 percent.

The city anticipates collecting $154,573,000 by fiscal year end.

Sales tax revenue represents about 22 percent 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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