Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bill Thornton is retiring in 2020

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce announced the retirement of President and CEO Bill Thornton. His last day will be July 7, 2020.

Thornton, who recently celebrated his 30th year with the chamber, has been in the CEO/president role since 2000. He joined the chamber staff as director of local business development in July 1989, and was named vice president of economic development in 1992.

As president, Thornton has been involved in numerous community initiatives, including the Wright Amendment agreement, the Base Realignment and Closure task force and the formation of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council.

“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with exceptional business and community leaders, as well as an outstanding staff team at the chamber, past and present,” Thornton said. “With strong community support, the chamber will continue to meet the evolving needs of this region in order to help Fort Worth address challenges and achieve success for all of our residents.”

To ensure a smooth transition, effective Oct. 1, Thornton will assign some of the responsibilities of president to Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development.

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Fort Worth celebrates a summer of exploration and reading

The numbers tell the story: Participants of all ages in the Fort Worth Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge read for the collective equivalent of nearly five years — almost 2.6 million minutes — in June and July.

Participants averaged 701 minutes — just more than 11.5 hours each — or the time it would take to drive from Fort Worth to Atlanta.

While the challenge was designed to spark the joy of reading for younger readers, adults were encouraged to take the challenge to serve as models for children and be reminded of the fun of reading. The Fort Worth Public Library provided reading logs for participants to track their time and served as a hub of activities including themed story times and special programs.

Readers ages 5-12 turned in the most reading logs, with 1,696. Adults (age 18 and up) came in second with 859 logs.

“The response to the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge has been incredible,” said Library Director Manya Shorr. “Our hope is that the challenge ignites a spark that keeps everyone — from children to adults — interested in reading all year long. We are here at the library to help you find your next great book to read.”

The Fort Worth Library Foundation provided important support for the challenge.

“We are so pleased to have been part of the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge,” said Foundation President Andrea Ash. “The Foundation is all about supporting how the library impacts young lives to help set them up for future success. From summer reading to helping provide regular programming for children of all ages, we know that the ability to read well has a positive impact on individuals and the community as a whole.”

Read Fort Worth’s support of the Summer Reading Challenge ties into its mission to ensure all Fort Worth children read at grade level by the year 2025. The third grade is the focus because studies show that 75% of students who struggle with reading in the third grade never catch up and are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Currently, only one in three Fort Worth third-graders read at grade level.

While this year’s Challenge is over, there is much more to see and do at the Fort Worth Public Library. Visit the library’s webpage to find programs, classes and services available at library locations across the city.

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Fort Worth Sister Cities takes annual Leadership Academy to Japan

Since 1989, the International Leadership Academy has brought young people from Fort Worth’s nine sister cities to the area to discuss pressing global issues. This year, Fort Worth Sister Cities is taking the Academy to Nagaoka, Japan, to celebrate the summer leadership program’s 30th anniversary.

A select number of students from Fort Worth were selected to participate in an Advanced Leadership Academy with other students from Hungary, Indonesia, Italy and Japan. This year’s theme, Peace through Innovation, will encourage students to explore and focus on critical and current issues. Through the program they will gain essential leadership and communication skills through cross-cultural activities such as art, music and language studies.

Participants will stay with host families in Nagaoka. During the day, they will attend classes designed to challenge stereotypes, highlight cultures, promote diplomatic dialogue, develop leadership skills and solve global problems. Activities will also include visits to area businesses, museums and other cultural venues, as well as a community service project.

“The students will be challenged to improve and refine their leadership skills and learn how diverse cultures can support common goals. It’s a tremendous opportunity for personal growth,” said Nancy Marchant, Leadership Academy coordinator.

The students return to Fort Worth Aug. 11.

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Ribbon cutting opens Tarleton’s Fort Worth campus

After more than 40 years in Fort Worth, Tarleton State University opened the first building of its planned campus along Chisholm Trail Parkway with a ribbon cutting, tours and remarks from community leaders, legislators and Texas A&M University System officials.

The three-story, 76,000-square-foot building — crowning 80 acres donated by Walton Development — will enable Tarleton to work with business and industry leaders to expand current degree programs and add new ones, furthering continued economic growth and development in North Texas.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called education the key to the city’s future.

“As Fort Worth continues to see economic growth and attract new residents and businesses, we must provide greater educational opportunities,” she said. “Tarleton’s Fort Worth campus is a significant step in offering accessible and affordable higher education opportunities that will lead our community toward a better-educated workforce. Together, we will make Fort Worth the best place to live, work and learn.”

Tarleton State University came to Fort Worth in 1978 with eight students on West Myrtle Street, moved to the Richard C. Schaffer Building on Enderly Place in the 90s and expanded to the Hickman Building on Camp Bowie Boulevard in 2006.

Tarleton-Fort Worth now offers more than 50 graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs to working adults, community college graduates and returning students. Classes for the university’s first Ph.D. — a doctorate in criminal justice — begin this fall at the new campus.

Plans are for the campus to serve 9,000 students by 2030.

Councilmember Jungus Jordan (District 6) said Tarleton is helping Fort Worth sustain its reputation as one of the most livable large cities in America. “The strategic location of Tarleton’s new campus is a catalyst for continued development in southwest Fort Worth and a tremendous benchmark for the future success of higher education in North Texas.”

For more information on Tarleton in Fort Worth, including a copy of the campus master plan, visit the Tarleton website.

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Fort Worth M.D. school seats inaugural class

Sixty students made history when they arrived this summer at the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, the nation’s newest M.D. school.

Adding to the academic offerings of both universities, this collaborative new medical school represents an expansion of health professions training in Fort Worth. With a curriculum designed to transform medical education, the medical school will focus on creating physicians who are compassionate leaders prepared for the future.

Sixty percent of the inaugural class of the new TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine are women and 58% self-identifies with one or more of the school-defined diversity domains. With an impending national shortage of more than 120,000 clinicians by 2030 and an educational environment that hasn’t changed in more than 100 years, the Fort Worth medical school is training physicians as “empathetic scholars” who are compassionate, excel in new technology and can communicate effectively with patients.

The 60 students come to the School of Medicine from across the United States, representing 34 undergraduate colleges and universities, as well as eight graduate institutions. Here’s more about the Class of 2023:

  • 60% women; 40% men.
  • Average age is 24.
  • Students have bachelor’s degrees from 34 institutions. (Two students graduated from UNT and 12 from TCU.)
  • 52% of the class comes from Texas.
  • One student is a triple major, several have double majors and nearly 30 undergraduate areas of study are represented ranging from sciences, social sciences and humanities, including a music performance major.

By 2030, the annual economic impact of the medical school is estimated at $4 billion and the school is expected to generate about 31,000 jobs for North Texas, according to a Tripp Umbach study.

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Fort Worth Sister Cities wins innovation award

Fort Worth won the Sister Cities International 2019 Innovation Award for Business and Trade for a city with a population greater than 100,000.

The awards competition, which is open to more than 500 sister city programs nationwide, recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding individuals and community sister city programs that are promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.

In the fall of 2018, Fort Worth Sister Cities International and Wild Acre Brewing Co. collaborated with Trier, Germany, to introduce the first-ever collaborative beer at the fifth annual Oktoberfest in Fort Worth. The brew master from German-based Kraft Bräu brewery in Trier attended and tapped the keg of the collaborative beer called Wild Acre Kraft Haus Lager.

Similarly, Fort Worth companies Best Maid Pickles and Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. both found a natural partner in Nagaoka, Japan. Both companies brought samples of their products to Japan and a tasting was arranged with members of Nagaoka’s Chamber of Commerce small-business group.

Sister Cities International Annual Awards recognize excellence in overall programming and highlight key innovations in arts and culture; business and trade; humanitarian assistance; youth and education; and professional and technical exchange categories.

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Rabid bat found at Fort Worth Water Gardens

On July 15, a bat was found in the water at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, 1502 Commerce St. The bat later tested positive for rabies.

Anyone who may have come in physical contact with this bat is asked to call Fort Worth Animal Control at 817-392-1234.

Tarrant County Public Health reminds residents that rabies exposure occurs only when a person is bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal, or when abrasions, open wounds or mucous membranes are contaminated with saliva, brain or nervous system tissue of a potentially rabid animal. Touching such an animal or contact with its urine or feces does not constitute exposure.

Additional information about what to do if you encounter a bat:

  • Bats will generally leave a building on their own, given the chance. If you find a bat in a room, do not try to catch it (unless testing is necessary because a person or pet has been sleeping in the room while the bat was present).
  • To encourage a bat to leave on its own, open windows, turn the lights on and leave the room, closing the door behind you and keeping children and pets out of the area.
  • Check the area every few hours to see if the bat has departed — it may take up to 18 hours for a bat to leave a resting place.
  • If you must remove a resting bat from a room immediately (because there is no way to avoid contact with people or pets), put on thick leather gloves and carefully place a wide-mouthed cup, jar or coffee can over the resting bat, slip a piece of cardboard between the opening and the resting surface, then take the container outdoors to release the bat.
  • Never handle a bat, alive or dead, with your bare hands.
  • Keep people and pets away from a sick or injured bat and call Animal Control.
  • Dead bats no longer pose a threat of rabies if they are not handled.
  • If the bat is in an area where it may have come in contact with a person or pet, call Animal Control.

If your pet catches or kills a bat, confine the bat and call Animal Control for further instructions. Confine the pet, preventing contact with people or animals outside the family until test results are received.

If bats are roosting in an attic or similar area, a one-way exit can be constructed which allows them to leave in search of food, but will prevent their re-entry. Many pest control professionals can help with this problem, and Bat Conservation International can provide information on how to evict bats yourself. Do not use one-way exits during June and July or flightless young may be trapped inside.

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Author to visit Fort Worth Library, discuss novel based on home for troubled girls

Best-selling author Julie Kibler will discuss her latest novel, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls, at a special event set for 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at the Central Branch of the Fort Worth Public Library, 500 W. Third St.

Adults and young adults who are fans of historical fiction would especially enjoy the book and the opportunity to meet the author.

The new novel is based on historic events, set in the early 1900s in Arlington, at a home designed to rehabilitate prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers and “ruined” girls where they could stay with their children. Two of the women at the home form a strong friendship that helps them overcome obstacles, but ultimately head down different paths in life.

A century later, a university librarian uncovers the stories of the two women and begins to comb through her library’s archives to learn more. The librarian herself is changed by the journey and confronts her own past.

The author will be available to sign copies of the new book purchased at the event.

Kibler is also the author of the best-selling novel, Calling Me Home, a book sparked by a love story her father told her about her grandmother.

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Triathletes to converge on Fort Worth for July 14 event

Triathletes will swim, bike and run through Fort Worth as part of the seventh annual Mayor’s Triathlon, which starts at 7 a.m. July 14 at the Downtown YMCA, 512 Lamar St.

The sprint triathlon includes a 300-meter swim, 15-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run. The swim will be in the YMCA pool, while the run and ride will be through beautiful Fort Worth neighborhoods.

Mayor Betsy Price is participating in the triathlon to benefit the cause. In addition, triathletes from all over Texas and the nation have signed up to compete.

Learn more on the Tri Fort Worth website.

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Fort Worth Public Library locations offer passes for free Botanic Garden admission

The Fort Worth Public Library will offer passes to allow library users to visit the Fort Worth Botanic Garden at no charge after the new garden fee system is enacted on July 19.

The passes may be checked out from a library to provide one week of free admission for two adults with children who are 17 or younger and all reside in the same household.

Passes are not valid at special events or for educational programs at the Botanic Garden. Library users may also check out a digital pass on their mobile device if they use Overdrive’s Libby app with their library card number.

Additionally, passes must be checked out and returned to the same library, and should not be placed in the book drop. Pass users must present the due-date slip as well as the pass at the Botanic Garden.

More about the fees

The City of Fort Worth is implementing the fees to fund needed maintenance and improvements at the garden. Entrance fees will be $12 per adult and $10 for senior citizens; $6 for children ages 6-15; and children under 6 will be free. The admission fees grant access to all areas of the garden, including the Japanese Garden, which has had a separate entrance fee in the past.

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