Six candidates named finalists for Fort Worth Police Chief

FORT WORTH – City Manager David Cooke named six finalists for the Fort Worth police chief position.

“We are very pleased with the group of finalists and look forward to the process next week,” Cooke said. “We have two internal candidates, which speaks well for the Fort Worth Police Department, and four external candidates who bring different experiences and backgrounds into consideration. All of the candidates have experience working in large urban police departments.”

 The candidates, listed aphabetically:

 

Jose Banales has been assistant police chief in San Antonio since 2010 and has served in the San Antonio Police Department for 32 years. He previously has been deputy chief, captain, lieutenant and sergeant in the San Antonio Police Department. As assistant chief over the Operations Bureau, Banales has managed the department’s Crime Control Strategic Plan, managed a program to install in-car cameras in police vehicles, and introduced department policies on use of force, citizen complaints and police pursuits. Banales has a master’s degree in management and leadership.

 

Kenneth Dean was recently promoted to assistant police chief in Fort Worth and has also been deputy chief, captain, lieutenant and sergeant, having served in the department since 1992. In his current position, he commands 1,000 sworn and civilian personnel, manages a budget of $106 million and is responsible for maintaining and improving community relationships through long-established policing programs. Dean is currently working on a master’s of business administration degree.

 

Joel Fitzgerald is police chief in Allentown, Pa., a city with a 119,000 population. He previously was police chief in Missouri City, Texas, and served in the Philadelphia Police Department for 17 years. His experience includes patrol, emergency and crisis management, strategic planning, budgeting, media relations, recruiting, community policing, investigations, and more. Fitzgerald has a master’s of business administration degree and a doctoral degree in business administration.

 

Anne Kirkpatrick is a senior instructor in the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Development Program in Seattle. Previously, she has been chief deputy in King County, Wash., (population 2 million) and police chief in three cities in Washington. As second in command of the King County Sheriff’s Office, Kirkpatrick managed day-to-day operations of the office and oversaw 1,050 employees. Kirkpatrick has a master’s degree in counseling and a law degree.

 

 Kirk Munden retired in 2014 as executive assistant police chief in Houston after serving the Houston Police Department for 33 years. As executive assistant police chief, he was responsible for Field Operations (2,800 classified and 300 civilian personnel) before being assigned to Strategic Operations (1,000 classified and 800 civilian personnel). Munden has an undergraduate degree and a law degree.

 

Abdul Pridgen has been assistant chief over finance and personnel in the Fort Worth Police Department since January. He has been with the department since 1992 and has served as assistant chief of the Patrol Bureau and the Support Bureau, as well as deputy chief of the Operational Support Bureau, and a captain and lieutenant. In his current role, Pridgen supervises 174 employees and oversees a $270 million operating budget while supervising the Financial Management, Program Support, Employment Services, Policy Management and Safety, Public Safety Support, Fleet Services, Centralized Police Payroll, Peer Support, and Military Liaison functions. Pridgen has a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice.

Meet the candidates

The public will have an opportunity to meet the candidates at a Community Forum from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, 501 W. Felix St.

 Beginning Sept. 2, residents can suggest questions to be presented at the Community Forum:

    Visit YourFortWorth.org.

    Call 817-392-8085.

Staff will compile the questions and select as many as possible to use during the town hall meeting with the candidates.

“This is an important leadership position for our community and our police department,” Cooke said. “We invite the public to meet the candidates at the Community Forum next week.”

MVPA convoy to trace Bankhead Highway from D.C. to San Diego & will come down Hwy. 80 in October

It’s taken more than five years of research in museums and libraries across the country, but Terry Shelswell said he now believes he’s put together the most accurate account and routing of the largely forgotten Bankhead Highway, a critical step in leading as many as 65 vintage military vehicles on a cross-country trek retracing the route later this year.

Named for Alabama senator John Hollis Bankhead, the highway runs from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, California, an attempt by Bankhead, a Good Roads promoter, to offer an alternative to the Lincoln Highway that coursed through the South. In 1916, Bankhead helped push through the legislation that established the highway, and it eventually ran through nearly every state in the South – Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas – before dropping through the southern tiers of New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

At first, though, the highway merely ran over rutted old wagon tracks and unimproved dirt roads, Shelswell said. It took the effort of Colonel John F. Franklin’s 50-vehicle 1920 Motor Transport Corps convoy – a U.S. Army effort to confirm everything it learned in the Army’s famous D.C. to San Francisco convoy the year prior – to convince many municipalities along the highway to actually pave the roads.

“Their practice was to go out of the towns they came across, build about a mile of good road, and then invite the townspeople to drive the new road,” Shelswell said. “Franklin’s group would then encourage the townspeople to put up money to connect the sections of road to their towns.”

Along the way, Franklin’s convoy encountered impassable sands, axle-swallowing gumbo, and flooding. They had to build or replace bridges, reroute, and worst of all find their way without a Dunkin’ Donuts every 15 minutes. “I’m quite amazed and impressed with the 1920 convoy,” Shelswell said. “They did it in 116 days driving World War I-era vehicles that could do a maximum of five or six miles per hour.”

Shelswell’s convoy, organized under the banner of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, won’t take nearly that long. MVPA members - (Military Vehicle Preservation Association) - will "re-trace" the route of the historic Military convoy of 1920 along the BankHead Highway from Washington D.C. to San Diego California. The MVPA 2015 Convoy will depart from Washington D.C. on September 19, 2015 and arrive in San Diego, CA on October 17, 2015.

With a maximum speed of 35 MPH, this year’s 3,400-mile convoy will take 29 days to cover as many of the Bankhead Highway’s original roads as possible. “More than not we’ll try to be on the actual roads the U.S. Army took in 1920, mostly state and county roads,” Shelswell said. “Out west, we may have to get on the interstates only as a last resort.” Only in a few places – where reservoirs flooded the original route or where bypasses erased the original route altogether – will this year’s convoy have to detour from the original Bankhead Highway, Shelswell said.

That pace will keep any World War I-era military vehicles – such as those that took part in the original Bankhead Highway convoy – relegated to portions of the convoy or to the twice-daily static displays. Instead, Shelswell said this year’s convoy will consist of mostly military Jeeps along with some heavier trucks up to deuce-and-a-halfs and even a 12-ton tractor and trailer. “A few years ago we did have a half-track join us for a section or two,” he said. “But we definitely won’t have any tanks on the convoy.” Shelswell himself will be driving a 1952 Willys M38A1 that he took on the two most recent MVPA convoys in 2009 (tracing the Lincoln Highway) and 2012 (tracing the Alaska Highway)

The MVPA Bankhead Highway convoy will take place September 19 to October 17.

For more information on the convoy, visit the convoy’s Facebook page or MVPA.org. In addition, amateur radio operators can follow the convoy’s progress via ConvoyOnTheAir.org.

Judy Taylor, President of Handley Neighborhood Association, is planning a patriotic citizens salute to the military. Judy and several other Neighborhood Associations will be setting up "review stands" to watch the convoy/parade travel down Lancaster Ave. aka. Highway 80, on the way from the Texas State Fair to Farrington Field, where they will stay the night, and where the vehicles will be on display. (More details to come when plans and times are confirmed.)

Comprehensive Solid Waste Plan

Rethinking Waste: A Greener Fort Worth

The City of Fort Worth is undertaking one of the largest green initiatives yet with the development of a comprehensive solid waste management plan.

The plan will serve as a blueprint for how waste is handled and managed in Cowtown for the next 20 years. The previous plan -- created in 1995 – addressed a number of issues, including ensuring adequate landfill space. This time around, the city is looking to involve all residents of Fort Worth to answer tougher questions:

What is waste, and what part of waste is a resource?

Which resources can we recapture for value, and what’s the best way to do that?

What behaviors are Fort Worth residents and businesses willing to adopt to make a greener city?

Just the facts:

Fort Worth is growing. It’s grown by 50 percent over the last 20 years.

Residential waste only comprises about one third of all of the waste generated within the city.

Industrial, commercial and institutional waste comprises the remaining two-thirds.

Making progress

 The city's goal is to divert 40 percent of residential waste away from the landfill through recycling and other programs.

Prior to 2003, the city diverted 7 percent of waste.

In 2013, the city diverted 24 percent. See what kinds of waste are making their way to the landfill.

Goals

Evaluate and address all waste produced within the City not just the residential waste.

Consider emerging technologies and sustainable practices in managing our solid waste as both practices and technologies have changed significantly since 1995.

Determine if the city has the best available technology in place.

Move beyond traditional waste management programs and find the best material management solutions for the city’s future.

Watch an update from Solid Waste Services Assistant Director Kim Mote. (for a related story, see RECYCLE RIGHT on page 2)

 

Public meeting  on Aug. 12 discussed proposed changes to residential zoning definitions

The public meeting that provided residents a chance to comment on proposed zoning definitions related to residential uses, including options for a new “single housekeeping unit” definition, was held on Aug. 12 at University Christian Church, with about 100 people in attendance.

Dana Burghdoff led the meeting, explaining city staffers did a poor job of communicating these proposed changes to residents, and that's why the meeting was scheduled.

Most were from the immediate TCU area, and the remainder were from other parts of the city, including several people representing the Eastside of Fort Worth.

The meeting started with an open house at 6 p.m. for one-on-one questions and comments with city staff, followed by a presentation on proposed changes to certain definitions, including:

  • Restaurant
  • Community home
  • Transient or short-term resident (new)
  • Boarding house or lodging house
  • Family
  • Single housekeeping unit (new)

 

The most commented, and hotly contentious item was the new "Single Housekeeping Unit." It has some additional 'presumptions' added to the definition that caused many of the residents to voice their opinion in opposition to the presumptions.

The four presumptions that the home is NOT acting as a "single housekeeping unit" are:

(1) deadbolt locks on interior doors,
(2) members of the household significantly change over the course of a 12-month period by gaining or losing members, (but no definition of what "significant" is.)
(3) one or more of the members of the household has a different address for the purpose of voter registration, driver's license, motor vehicle registration or filing of taxes; or
(4) The association of the members of the household is temporary or seasonal or the sharing of a dwelling unit is merely for convenience and economics.

The first comment was made 'that having roommates was always for convenience and economic factors.'

Several people commented that having a locking door was a safety factor and should NOT be included in the ordinance. It was mentioned that many high-priced new homes come with keypad locks on the master bedroom doors.

One person jokingly said she "needed to be fined now, because she lives alone and has key locks on all the bedroom doors in her house for personal safety." It got laughs from the audience, but not from the city staffers.

The legal department did not say what "significant" meant. The comment was made 'In a 2-person house, one member moving out would be "signigicant", but not so much if 4 people were renting a single house.' How would the ordinance be interpreted and enforced?

Many in the audience questioned if these ordinances were specifically written to address the rental properties near TCU, and that was denied by the city staff.  They said this was to clarify housing in single family zoned areas.

There was some discussion on short term rental units, where the rent lease is for less than 30 days.

Dana explained that Boarding houses, where individual rooms are rented with individual leases, are not allowed in single family zoned areas, only in multi-family zoning.

The current Community (group) Home wording is being struck, with new wording added to comply with the Texas Human Resources Code, Chapter 123.  The president of the Brentwood-Oak Hills neighborhood association asked "What could be done to better monitor group homes?"  She stated that "BOHN  has several group homes in the neighborhood that are poorly managed and have been  constant trouble spots, with Police being called to the homes on a weekly basis, if not more."

She mentioned two horrible incidents that occurred at the group home on her street. The first was a dog fight, started by the group home's pit bull, who broke through the wood fence and attempted to attack the 3 pre-school children and family dog playing in their own backyard. The family dog came to the children's defense, so they were not injured, but the dog suffered fatal injuries.  The owner of the group home was out of town, and the BOHN President took the severely injured pit bull to the Vet to be euthanized, as the group home owner did not want to pay for extensive medical treatment.  The second incident – a male resident castrated himself, and was bleeding out. It was over an hour before the group home residents came outside to tell someone what had he had done. There was no land-line phone in the home, and both times, the residents –who are mentally damaged– did not have the  ability, or sense, to call for help when these incidents occurred. Both times, neighbors had to call Police and ambulance.

She asked "What agencies supervise the 'supervisors' –beside the Police– and what wording can be added that states 'if the police are called to the home more than 6 times in a year, that the group home license is revoked."

There was no immediate response from the city legal department or staff to that question.

Survey Forms were distributed to the attendees to fill out and return to the city staffers.

 

After this public meeting, the Zoning Commission will conduct a public hearing and vote on the definitions at 1 p.m. Sept. 9 at City Hall. On Oct. 13, the City Council will conduct a public hearing and vote on the definitions at its 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

To learn more, view a presentation online.
(or Scroll to Item 11 to view the presentation.
)

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New Eastern Hills Alumni Group formed to help current students

A new Eastern Hills Alumni group, put together by Michael Stewart, has been formed to support the current students.

 Info is on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/964311500300051/.

 The focus of the group is to lift up struggling EHHS students:

 We are former Eastern Hills students, who recognize that we are blessed, but unfortunately our school and the surrounding area has fallen on difficult economic times. We want to help.

Currently there are EHHS students who are dealing with struggles as basic as not having proper clothes or shoes to wear to school. There are similar problems spread throughout extracurricular activities and sports. Kids don't have money to get a cheerleading or band uniforms. Most baseball and football players do not have cleats of their own, with the coaches working with years-old hand-me-down shoes. Specifically the school budget is so thin that the athletic department does not have money to pay for any of these things on a regular basis.

Sadly sometimes also, the best meal of the day for these kids is the one they have in the school cafeteria. That means that on game day, many haven't even eaten before, or don't eat after their athletic participation.

All of these things are examples of how if kids participate at all, they often must go without, food, cleats, uniforms, etc.…which t means sometimes they choose to simply not participate at all. That's just wrong. Not having the right apparel or equipment is the kind of thing that makes it easier for kids to drop out of school and even possibly get on the wrong path. But we can help.

We may not be able to save the world, but we can make a difference in the lives of one deserving young person at a time. We will do so by identifying areas where we can have an immediate impact, which in turn we believe will also have an impact on the individual students.

We will come together to raise funds, seek donations, find equipment, provide food, transportation, and other essential student services. We want them to know that someone cares. We want them to feel a sense of community and support. We want them to be responsible participants also, as we work together to benefit their education and growth toward a productive and happy life.

We are BLIND to everything else. There is no race, nor religion, nor any other method of discrimination within our efforts to assist a student in need.

Will you join us for this important cause?

A GoFundMe account has been set up for donations to help the mission and can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/zmf4czg

  In under 24 hours just under $5,300.00 of the $40,000.00 goal has been received! (which shows the true heart of the Highlander Alumni and other Eastsiders.)

Home Invasions Targeting Elderly

A group of  black males in their late teens or early 20s are targeting elderly victims on the east side of Fort Worth

Fort Worth Police detectives are requesting the public’s assistance in identifying a group of suspects wanted for a series of home invasions.

A group of young black males in their late teens or early 20s are targeting elderly victims on the east side of Fort Worth. The suspects appear to be casing the victims’ homes before they break in. The suspects are violent and armed with handguns; they assault and rob the victims at gunpoint. Victim ages range between 58 and 83 years old. They may be occupying a white Chevrolet Impala with large silver wheels. A description of the break-ins is listed below with the report number listed first:

15-67755 - 07/20/15 – 4700 block Strong Ave. – At approximately 11:00 pm, 3 young black male suspects entered the back door of the 83-year-old victim’s home. Two of the suspects robbed him at gunpoint and assaulted him while the third stayed outside.

15-70806 - 07/30/15 – 4700 block Strong Ave. – At approximately 3:00 am, 3 young black male suspects again entered the back door of the 83-year-old victim’s home. The victim attempted to defend himself with a hatchet but was assaulted by the suspect. The suspect then took the victim’s wallet, removed his ATM card and demanded his PIN. When the victim could not recall it, the suspect pointed a gun at the victim and pulled the trigger several times but the gun did not go off.

15-72548 – 08/04/15 – 5200 block Dunbar St. – At approximately 3:45 am, multiple young black male suspects entered the front door of the victims’ home. One victim was an 83- year-old elderly male and the other was a 58-year-old female. One of the suspects assaulted the female victim, punching her and hitting her with a stick. One of the suspects pointed a handgun at the victim and threatened to shoot her. The suspects also assaulted the male victim. The suspects knocked the victim to the ground who then hid in his closet as the suspects attempted to open the door.

15-72555 – 08/04/15 - 3700 block Killian St – At approximately 4:30 am, 3 or 4 young black male suspects entered the back door of the victim’s home. The victim was a 66-year-old elderly female. The victim was asleep on the couch and one suspect pointed a handgun at her and demanded money. The suspects took the victim’s purse and attempted to take the victim’s TV. A witness saw the suspects flee in a white 4-door Impala with large silver wheels.

Anyone with information on any of these cases is asked to contact detectives at 817-944-1834.

Water & Wastewater Rate Change Report - Increase starts Jan. 2016

A report outlining the proposed 2016 water and sewer rate changes and explaining the factors behind the changes is available for review in all Fort Worth libraries and online (www.fortworthtexas.gov/water).

Written comments regarding the report must be submitted to the water director by noon on Wednesday, Aug, 26.

If approved by the City Council next month, the new rates take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Average Fort Worth customers would see the water and sewer portions of their city services bill increase by $5.42 per month in 2016 based on the proposed rates presented to the City Council on Aug. 4.

Even with the proposed changes, the average customer would still pay less than $2 a day for water and sewer service. For residential customers, the proposed rates for each tier remain the same, but the usage starting point for tiers two and three is two hundred cubic feet lower.

This proposed change reflects lower water use as a result of more efficient appliances and changes in outdoor watering habits.

Current tiers, measured in hundred cubic feet, are up to 8, 8 to 20, 20 to 30 and above 30. The proposed new tiers are up to 6, 6 to 18, 18 to 30 and above 30.

By changing the tier levels to reflect the changes in customer usage, the utility is able to recoup the needed revenue without a change in residential rates. The proposed water and sewer fund budget is increasing by $23,355,316.

Higher raw water rates, higher transfers to the General Fund and the need to replenish reserves to meet financial policies and improve liquidity are some of the factors driving the budget increase. There are higher costs associated with biosolids odor control, treatment and land application. Also, the Trinity River Authority is raising its rates for treating wastewater from far North and far East Fort Worth.

The proposed increase to both water and sewer rates affects both the fixed monthly charge, which is based on meter size, and the volume rates.

All customer classes would experience increases if  the City Council adopts the recommendations.

New park to be constructed in historic Mosier Valley

Plans are underway to build a park to commemorate the Mosier Valley community where the first freed Texans settled after news of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Residents are urged to give feedback on park amenities being considered. These include a playground, trails, shelter, benches, picnic tables, multiuse court and security lighting. The park will be accessible to the neighborhood and have an interpretive commemoration or historical designation area.

The Master Plan is expected to be complete in late 2015 and construction finished late 2016. Park dedication fees and private donations will fund the project.

According to the State Historical Association, Mosier Valley was established in the 1870s on the north bank of the Trinity River just south of Hurst, Euless and Bedford. Robert and Dilsie Johnson and 10 other emancipated slave families were given and sold Trinity River bottomland by the Mosier and Lee plantation families. There, the families established a close-knit community.

From about 1910 through the 1930s, population in the area reached its peak at perhaps 300. The area was annexed by Fort Worth in 1963.

In 2014, the city council approved acquiring about four acres of land on the south side of Mosier Valley Road and west of Vine Street and Knapp Street from the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District and Tarrant County to build Mosier Valley Park. The city paid $260,000 plus closing costs.

To learn more about the project, contact Project Manager Cornell Gordon at 817-392-5764.

https://www.facebook.com/mosiervalleypark.