New Dream Park helps make Fort Worth a better, more inclusive community for future generations

On Monday, April 15, the long-held dream of three passionate community members will finally be realized with the ribbon-cutting celebration for Frank Kent’s Dream Park, a play space custom-designed for children of all abilities to explore, learn and play.

Located in the heart of Fort Worth’s Trinity Park, this 57,000 square-foot playground is set to become the city’s largest, as well as one of the largest play spaces of its kind in the state. Its size is only surpassed by its ambitious, inclusive vision: a place where kids of all abilities can share adventures together.

The state-of-the-art park far exceeds guidelines established by the Americans With Disabilities Act: its amenities include poured-in-place rubber surfacing for wheelchairs and individuals with limited mobility, adaptive swings for toddlers and children with low muscle tone, a stainless-steel roller slide that won’t short-out kids’ hearing devices, and much more. In addition, there are interactive and musical elements scattered throughout the playground to provide a truly sensory-rich environment that sparks curiosity and imagination.

This park couldn’t have arrived at a better time for the 15th largest city in the country. According to the Texas Workforce Investment Council, 203,041 individuals in Tarrant County have a disability. Approximately 29,000 students in Tarrant County are in need of special education services, according to Growing Up in North Texas’ community assessment.

A dream becomes a reality

The development of the park has involved an ongoing collaboration between dedicated community members Rachael Churchill, Sandy Mesch and Corrie Watson, and the City of Fort Worth. Almost $3 million was raised for the park’s creation through grassroots fundraising efforts, bolstered through generous contributions from the title sponsor Frank Kent and many other community organizations.

“Dream Park represents what Fort Worth strives to be: a generous, inclusive and active community where every child can thrive,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “Opening Dream Park in the heart of our city represents our vision for a better Fort Worth that all families can be proud of for generations to come.”

“Fort Worth’s park system has existed for over a century, and we are thrilled to add to that legacy through the creation of this Dream Park,” added Richard Zavala, director of Fort Worth’s Park & Recreation Department.

“This project is a testament to what can be accomplished through cooperation and the pursuit of a shared dream. Moreover, it perpetuates the legacy of community giving in support of Trinity Park, which has benefitted from the generous contributions of many organizations throughout its history. I am certain that the project sponsors’ deep compassion, generosity, and determination to build a more inclusive Fort Worth will echo in the happy smiles of the children – and their caregivers – who visit this park for many years.”

The Dream Park’s playground equipment was provided by Landscape Structures, an industry leader in creating inclusive play environments, and Dean Construction. The playground itself was designed by Arlington-based Schrickel, Rollins & Associates.

Frank Kent’s Dream Park joins Patricia La Blanc Park in southwest Fort Worth as the city’s second inclusive playground.

Dedication information and Mayfest schedule

The public is invited to the ribbon-cutting celebration of Frank Kent’s Dream Park at noon Monday, April 15. Kona Ice will be on-site from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. giving away free shaved ice.

The playground will remain open through Easter weekend, April 21, before temporarily closing on Monday, April 22, to accommodate preparations for the 47th annual Mayfest festival. The playground will be open to all Mayfest attendees during the festival, and will reopen to the public on May 9.

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Teamwork helps region meet transportation challenges despite historic growth

The Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to experience robust growth, adding more than 146,000 people in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Four of the nation’s fastest-growing counties are in North Texas. A total of 7.4 million people reside in the region, according to the latest population estimates by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

With careful planning and coordination with regional, state and federal partners, the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) and North Central Texas Council of Governments staff are meeting the transportation challenges posed by this extensive growth. One challenge is providing reliable commutes, helping employees get to work in the morning and home in the evening.

“We are proud to be a region where transportation challenges are being met. This wouldn’t be possible without teamwork,” said Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, who serves as chair of the 44-member Regional Transportation Council. “The Texas Department of Transportation, cities, public transit and other transportation partners are helping to keep Dallas-Fort Worth drivers moving, despite historic population growth across the region.”

##Congestion data
Typically, growing metropolitan areas across the country experience significantly more congestion as their population increases and more cars hit the roads. However, that does not appear to be holding true for Dallas-Fort Worth in recent years. In fact, according to one measure of congestion, mobility is getting better.

The region’s congestion rating moved from seventh in the country to 10th in 2017, with drivers spending 54 hours in congestion, according to the Inrix Global Scorecard. This was an 8 percent improvement over 2016 and represented the biggest jump in dependability of any of the 10 most-congested regions. Drivers in Seattle (55 hours) and Washington, D.C. (63 hours), by comparison, experienced an increase in congestion.

Inrix attributed the improvement to projects such as 35 Express and the Horseshoe project in downtown Dallas. These projects represent just a snapshot of the congestion-reducing activity in Dallas-Fort Worth. Since 2000, the region has spent approximately $28 billion on construction of transportation projects.

TomTom, another company that uses data to measure traffic congestion, presents a slightly different picture of mobility, rating DFW No. 34 nationally over a three-year period ending in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. In Dallas-Fort Worth, motorists are on the roads 18 percent longer because of congestion. By comparison, Seattle traffic adds 34 percent more travel time and Washington, D.C., 29 percent.

##Comprehensive approach
The RTC recently approved Mobility 2045, a $136.4 billion plan outlining improvements through 2045. On the roadway side, $53.6 billion would be spent on projects.

In a region as large as Dallas-Fort Worth, a comprehensive approach to improving reliability is important. Significant funding is also reserved for transit, bicycle-pedestrian improvements and sustainable development programs, all aimed at reducing the demand on the roadway system. Using funding mechanisms provided by the Texas Legislature, the RTC will continue to coordinate with its local partners and the Texas Transportation Commission to advance projects that keep people moving reliably.

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Upcoming event helps residents take care of outstanding warrants

Fort Worth Municipal Court will conduct a Safe Harbor initiative, meaning residents may visit without fear of arrest for outstanding warrants issued by the Municipal Court.

The Court in the Community event will be held 1-4 p.m. Jan. 17 at Good will Industries of Fort Worth, 4005 Campus Drive. The event is open to the public, but only the first 100 in line will be admitted.

Residents who plan to request alternatives to payment should bring all supporting documents for their request:

  • Time served. Bring booked-in and booked-out paperwork.
  • Community service/indigence documentation that shows you do not have the financial means to pay your warrants.
  • Time payment plans.
  • Two forms of identification.

To learn more, call 817-332-7866, ext. 2179.

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$100,000 grant helps Read Fort Worth improve literacy among third-grade students

Research shows 75 percent of third-graders who struggle with reading never catch up, drastically increasing their chances of dropping out of high school. But the nonprofit Read Fort Worth is on a mission to improve early childhood literacy and ensure all Fort Worth ISD third-graders are reading on grade level by 2025.

Their efforts got a major boost when the organization earned a donation of $100,000 after receiving the most public votes during the Reliant Gives charitable giving program. Camp For All and Undies for Everyone, both based in Houston, were awarded donations of $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, based on voting totals.

Reliant’s charitable giving program, Reliant Gives, launched in 2016 and puts the power of nonprofit advocacy in the hands of the public, inviting people to vote and direct the company’s charitable giving to three Texas charities nominated by employees. The program has now donated $850,000 to 21 deserving nonprofits across the state.

Read Fort Worth’s mission is to improve early childhood literacy in the Fort Worth ISD. Backed by leaders of the community and local businesses, the organization supports volunteer reading programs in area elementary schools, programs to increase student attendance and making quality early learning and preschools more accessible. The Reliant Gives donation will support the Library Classroom Campaign and Reading Volunteers.

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TCC Southeast Hosts Screening of Documentary Showcasing Monarch Butterflies College Helps Sustain

The public is invited to join Tarrant County College in a special screening of The Guardians, a documentary that provides insight into the fight to protect monarch butterflies and their Mexico homeland at TCC Southeast, 2100 Southeast Parkway.

Screenings for the 56-minute movie are open to the public as part of TCC’s commitment to serving the community. The film will be shown in TCC Southeast North Ballroom on Wednesday, Oct. 3, and Thursday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

TCC Southeast, along with TCC Northeast and TCC South, have created Monarch Way Stations — intentionally managed

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Joint PD and FD event helps keep kids safe

The Fort Worth Police Department and the Fire Department are joining forces to keep children safe at a free Kids Workshop from 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 6 at The Home Depot, 7100 N. Freeway.

Activities include a do-it-yourself workshop, Operation: Safe Child, an appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog, bike rodeo fire safety presentations and the police mounted patrol.

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New Connect Southlake Mobility Website Helps You Stay In-The-Know to Stay On-The-Go

From traffic tips to road construction and sidewalk options, the new Connect Southlake Mobility Page is your one-stop-shop for all things related to mobility in the City of Southlake. Designed as a resource to help keep Southlake residents and visitors moving freely, the page offers various options for learning more about issues that impact mobility.

As Southlake and the surrounding region has grown, traffic congestion has increased. Helping people get where they need to go efficiently and safely is one of the City’s top priorities. The new Connect Southlake Mobility Page will bring us one step closer to helping resolve mobility problems in Southlake.

The Connect Southlake Mobility Page offers the following resource links to combat mobility challenges:

  • Helping You Get Around: Waze, Lyft or Uber, navigating to Southlake and more.
  • The Future: Upcoming innovations that will increase mobility.
  • Sidewalks Where You Live: Where to find sidewalks in Southlake.
  • Bicycles Around Town: Where to find bicycle lanes in Southlake.

View Big Projects for an interactive tour of projects focused on increasing the ease of mobility and traffic flow and stay on top of upcoming and ongoing mobility projects. Click on a project to read the project’s description and see the physical location of the project indicated on a map.

See what’s new in the City regarding road construction, lane closures and more via the Mobility News section. Simply click on a mobility-related story to read the full article on MySouthlakeNews.com.

For live updates, be sure to follow @SouthlakeMobility on Facebook for the latest information on the City’s road construction projects and what is being done to improve mobility in Southlake.

Still have questions about traffic? The City of Southlake’s Traffic Management Division was created to respond to current and future transportation needs. Contact their office at (817) 748 8098.

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PD helps residents ‘blow away the box’ at hiring fair

At the Fort Worth Police Department’s first Blow Away the Box job fair, held at Como First Baptist Church last month, officers and volunteers helped more than 100 attendees apply for jobs. So far, more than half of the applicants who were unemployed are working, and many others have strong job leads.

The job fair was organized by community leaders in the FWPD’s West Division in conjunction with Tammy Maguire of People Ready, an employment agency that has helped more than 150 Fort Worth residents, most with felony violations or less-than-perfect backgrounds.

“Blow Away the Box” refers to the box on job applications that asks whether a candidate has a criminal history.

“We proved that we were able to meet an important, generational community need,” said Officer Tracy Carter, one of the event organizers. “This police/community effort gave members of the community hope that manifested in the form of exciting new opportunities to legally earn wages by blowing away the box and improving the quality of their lives, as well as their family members’ lives.”

Financial counselors were available to mentor and educate participants, who learned important fiscal management skills to increase the benefits of their new employment.

“Our mission in this endeavor was simple,” Carter said. “We strive to provide employment opportunities for all who need them, and through education and employment, break the box and change the lives and future for all involved.”

Other event organizers include Tammy Maguire, People Ready; Glen Strongberg Investment Group; Abdul Chappell, Build a Better Hood Partners of Tarrant County; the Rev. Kenneth Jones, Como First Baptist Church; the Rev. Kyev Tatum; and Nathan Carter.

A larger job fair is scheduled for Sept. 28 at New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church, 2864 Mississippi Ave. There are also plans to branch out to the north and east areas of Fort Worth.

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Floral Design Course Helps Blossom Student Creativity

“It’s oddly therapeutic, getting to arrange things; it’s like another form of art where you can express yourself.” Mikayla Gist, Carroll Senior High School Floral Design student, says as she works on a holiday floral arrangement that features roses, cinnamon sticks and bunches of pine needles.

In its second year as an elective option for students, the Floral Design program has provided a unique and nontraditional way for students to create beautiful works of art. Carroll Senior High School currently offers four Floral Design I sections and one Floral Design II section. In these classes, students learn everything from floral identification to the actual business side of running a company.

For teacher Johanna Belwood, it’s all about giving her students an experience that resembles the actual daily life of a florist or business owner.

“Being a CTE class, I want my students to have real-world experience and make a product that is going to be used,” Belwood states. “Making something that is really going into someone’s house makes all the difference in the world.”

Currently, both classes are working on holiday arrangements that are available for the public to purchase. Eden Monrad, a senior in the program, enjoys working on a project that the community can display during the holidays.

“Knowing someone is spending their own money on pieces that we work on really makes us want to work hard on making them nice,” Monrad says.

Belwood is in her second year with Carroll ISD and appreciates all the support the community has shown for the program. The students have created floral arrangements for local businesses, district events, and even wedding rehearsal dinners. While creating these beautiful pieces is exciting, Belwood’s favorite part of the class is seeing kids realize they can express themselves through their floral designs.

“I have so many kids say they took this class because they can’t draw or they aren’t artistic and it’s a fun way for them to discover that yes they are,” Belwood says. “There are so many ways to be artistic and flowers are just one way of them.”

Currently, the program has a limited supply of the holiday arrangements still available. If you are interested in purchasing an arrangement, click here. All proceeds from sales go directly back to the program and help students create even more unique pieces of art.

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