Don’t choke. Stop the smoke

Next time you see a smoke-belching vehicle rolling down the road, do something about it.

The Regional Smoking Vehicle Program (RSVP) is designed to inform vehicle owners that their vehicle may be creating excessive smoke and emitting pollutants that are harmful to people’s health and the environment. Driving a vehicle with excessive smoke in Texas is a violation of the state’s smoking vehicle statute, which defines a smoking vehicle as one that either emits smoke for 10 or more consecutive seconds and/or whose suspended smoke does not fully dissipate within 10 seconds.

Texas law enforcement agencies may issue citations, punishable by fines up to $1,000, to drivers operating a smoking vehicle on any roadway.

RSVP allows North Texans to anonymously report vehicles emitting visible smoke and pollution. Wireless users can call 817-704-2522 or, for certain wireless service providers, #SMOKE (#76653). Landline users can call 817-704-2522. Internet users can complete an online form.

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Monarch waystation provides beauty for humans, food for butterflies

When you visit Forest Park Pool this summer, keep an eye out for butterflies flitting among the old oak trees and above the cooling waters.

The Native Plant Society of Texas worked with the Fort Worth Park and Recreation Department to plant a monarch butterfly waystation near the entrance to the pool. More than 250 nectar-providing plants were planted in 1,250 square feet of garden beds. The waystation was dedicated this spring.

Monarch waystations are garden patches that replicate wildflower areas frequented by butterflies in the wild. They’re designed for migrating monarchs who travel through Texas on their way to overwintering in Mexico. The garden is planted with nectar plants and milkweeds for caterpillars next spring.

The purpose of the project is to save the butterflies by fostering the recovery of declining populations of migrating monarch butterflies in North America. The decline in their population over the past 20 years is mainly attributed to loss of habitat and native milkweed plants due to urban development, shifts in agricultural practices, land management activities, use of insecticides, severe weather, and degradation of their winter habitats in Mexico.

Mayor Betsy Price has signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, through which cities and municipalities are committing to create habitat and educate residents about how they can make a difference at home.

Besides the Forest Park Pool, the Native Plant Society of Texas has built a monarch waystation on I-35 at a rest area in Hill County south of Hillsboro. The waystation is one of four planned by the group along the interstate in Texas.

The effort is part of the multistate Monarch Highway Project, created to increase monarch habitat and public awareness and participation along I-35 through Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the central flyway of the monarch migration.

In Texas, I-35 follows the eastern spring migration route of monarch butterflies as they make their multi-generational trip south from Canada to Mexico in the fall and return north in spring.

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Downtown street closures due to utility work

Starting Wednesday, July 12, to Friday, July 14, Oncor Electric crews will be performing work inside manholes on Houston St. between 9th St. and 11th St. and on Throckmorton St. between 11th St. and 9th St.

Lanes impacted:

  • Northbound Houston St. between 11th St. and 9th St. will be closed.
  • Southbound Houston St. between 9th St. and 11th St. will have a left lane closure.
  • Throckmorton St. between 11th St. and 9th St. (crews will work behind barricades of existing lane closure).

Work hours for road/lane closures will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Pet adoption fees reduced to $17.76 through end of July

For the second time this summer, the Fort Worth Animal Shelter is over capacity with more pets arriving at the shelter every day.

The week surrounding the July Fourth holiday is traditionally the busiest period of the year for animal shelters; many pets get scared and run due to fireworks. Many end up in shelters.

The shelter is caring for about 610 dogs and 100 cats, all of whom are waiting to be adopted into their forever home. If there was ever a time to find the dog or cat of your dreams, now would be great since there are so many too choose from.

Fort Worth Animal Care and Control has reduced adoption fees through July 31 to $17.76. The fee includes an initial medical examination, rabies vaccination, city license, micro-chip and spay/neuter.

The main shelter campus at 4900 Martin St. in southeast Fort Worth is open seven days a week at noon. The city has satellite pet adoption centers at the PetSmart at I-35W at Heritage Trace Parkway in far north Fort Worth and at Southwest Loop 820 at Hulen Street in south Fort Worth.

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Construction resumes on Victory Forest Community Center

After an unexpected delay, Fort Worth’s newest community center is closer to opening its doors to an eager public.

Construction on Victory Forest Community Center, 3427 Hemphill St., resumed on July 3. The city reached an agreement with the bonding company to have the center substantially completed approximately 120 days from the start of construction.

About Victory Forest Community Center

Victory Forest is Fort Worth’s newest multipurpose fitness and activity center. Once completed, this premier facility in south Fort Worth will include:

  • A 2,000-square-foot fitness room complete with cardio, strength equipment and free weights.
  • A full-size gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and other sports.
  • A state-of-the-art teaching kitchen for cooking and nutrition classes.
  • An outdoor stage for community performances.
  • Multipurpose spaces and outdoor patios for special events.
  • A classroom/computer lab and youth play area.
  • Recreational programming that will be offered to all ages — from art to Zumba, and everything in between.

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Weatherford and Belknap bridge improvements start July 17

Street improvements are scheduled soon for two popular east-west thoroughfares through downtown Fort Worth.

Beginning July 17, bridge panels and concrete will be replaced on Weatherford and Belknap streets.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane each direction during construction. Please follow all posted notices and expect delays during construction. Improvements are expected to be complete by the end of August.

To learn more, contact Project Manager Tariqul Islam 817-392-2486.

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Open house to discuss land-use strategies for military installations

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is collaborating with military and community leaders for Joining Forces, a regional joint land-use study that will identify and recommend land-use strategies that support continued military capabilities.

During a joint land-use study, the cities and counties surrounding the military installation work with the installation to plan and carry out specific actions that will promote compatible community and economic growth.

The public is invited to an open house from 6-8 p.m. July 10 at Westworth Village City Hall, 311 Burton Hill Road in Westworth Village. A brief presentation on Joining Forces begins at 6:15 p.m.

In addition to Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, the Joining Forces study will examine Redmond Taylor Army Heliport, Fort Wolters Training Center, Col. Stone Army Reserve Center, Camp Maxey Training Center, Eagle Mountain Lake Training Site and the Brownwood and Brady Military Operating Areas.

Joining Forces seeks to promote compatible growth and to insulate regional military installations from encroachments that could threaten the installations’ ability to conduct their missions.

The results of the study will include recommended actions for the communities to adopt, including:

  • Zoning overlays.
  • Obstruction ordinances.
  • Comprehensive plan language.
  • Communication strategies.

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Fort Worth partnering with businesses for greener practices, greater water efficiency

The Fort Worth Water Department is offering free, comprehensive water efficiency assessments for industrial, commercial and institutional customers.

The facility-wide assessments will evaluate all water use, including irrigation, cooling towers, metering, process water, bathrooms, showers, laundries, kitchen/cafeteria, outdoor fountains and more.

How it works

Before the site visit, a consultant will request information to help in the preliminary assessment of your water use. After the visit, a comprehensive report of the site assessment will be provided, typically within 30-45 days. This report will make it easy to see and consider best management practices. It will include recommendations of estimated savings in both water and money, with projected costs for implementation.

Although implementation of the recommendations is not mandatory, those options with three years or less return on investment are encouraged for consideration.

Smartwater Partner awards

These awards are open to businesses that implement any of the recommended strategies in the final report. Winners will be recognized for their leadership in water conservation at an annual awards ceremony in the fall.

To learn more, call 817-392-8740.

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Water use is up this year

Many Fort Worth water customers are probably seeing higher bills, and the reason is simple: they’re using more water.

Fort Worth reports an 11 percent increase in usage for its system, which includes 30 surrounding communities. The other entities comprise 30-35 percent of overall system water use each year.

From January through June, system water use totals just over 3 billion gallons more than during the same period in 2016. The highest daily usage so far this year was 243.5 million gallons on June 21. That is well below the all-time record of 368 million gallons on Aug. 3, 2011.

“Weather plays a significant role in water use, especially in summer,” said Interim Water Director Kara Shuror. “Water use rises with the temperature, but all it takes is overcast skies for usage to drop. When it does rain, water use really plummets.”

Even though Fort Worth’s water supply lakes are almost full, Shuror reminded customers that each location has assigned watering days. The City Council adopted the year-round, twice-per-week schedule in 2014.

Reduce your consumption

There are steps customers can take to lower water use:

  • Experts say deep and infrequent watering is the key to having a healthy lawn. All it takes is one inch of water every week.
  • Customers in homes built before 1994 can apply to receive up to two free, ultra-low-flow toilets that use less than half the amount of water per flush.
  • Only washing full loads of laundry or dishes, turning the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving and taking shorter showers all add up to lower water use.

Visit the Save Fort Worth Water website to learn about the Smart Irrigation and Smart Flush programs and other water-saving tips.

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Traffic-calming devices to be installed at River Trails Elementary School

Students returning to River Trails Elementary this fall will have a safer walk to school.

City of Fort Worth Transportation & Public Works crews are finalizing plans to install eight dynamic signs, which will help slow traffic while flashing the speed of vehicles as they approach.

“Children have been struck by motorists who failed to obey the required speed limit in the school zone,” Councilmember Gyna Bivens said. “Thanks to Bob Horton, we were made aware that there had was a need for traffic calming at this HEB ISD school for years.”

Horton, immediate past president of the Randol Mill Valley Alliance, recently urged city council members act on the need for traffic calming around the school.

Sam Werschky, assistant director of Transportation & Public Works, has directed city crews to have the new devices in place before the school year begins. “Installing these dynamic signs will dramatically improve safety conditions as the children walk from their homes to the school, as well as those being dropped off,” Werschky said. “There is nothing more important than focusing on the safety of our children.”

The location will have standard school zone flashing beacons, along with driver speed feedback signs on the same pole. The flashing beacons will operate on school days during school arrival and departure times, while the driver speed feedback signs will operate 24 hours a day, every day.

The school, at 8850 Elbe Trail, is in Council District 5.

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