Local Community News http://localcommunitynews.com Search Local Community News Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:15:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.2 Alameda: New home for Texas Public Radio and Latin-focused performances http://localcommunitynews.com/final-restoration-new-home-texas-public-radio-latin-focused-performances/ http://localcommunitynews.com/final-restoration-new-home-texas-public-radio-latin-focused-performances/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:12:39 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2929 Thanks to an agreement among the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, Alameda Theater Conservancy and Texas Public Radio, the famed Alameda Theater will be restored. The project calls for Texas Public Radio to relocate from the South Texas Medical Center area to a new backstage area in the downtown theater, while the performance portion… Read More

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Thanks to an agreement among the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, Alameda Theater Conservancy and Texas Public Radio, the famed Alameda Theater will be restored.

The project calls for Texas Public Radio to relocate from the South Texas Medical Center area to a new backstage area in the downtown theater, while the performance portion will accommodate live presentations and special events.

“We’re really excited about the plans,” said Joyce Slocum, TPR’s president and CEO.

The City Council approved the funding agreement Aug. 31.

The $23 million restoration budget includes money from the city, county, federal historic tax credits and the private sector, including a TPR fundraising campaign.

Community meetings were held in June and August at Centro de Artes to update stakeholders and neighbors on restoration plans.

Having opened in 1949 in a former Mexican consulate and Chamber of Commerce building, the Alameda was one of the biggest venues in the country dedicated to Spanish-language movies and the performing arts.

The city acquired the property in 1994, and the theater has since undergone stages of renovation. The city and the county have had partners in La Familia Cortez in the endeavor.

The Cortezes, who own five downtown restaurants including Mi Tierra, have long advocated a full revitalization of the theater, emphasizing its value to the Latino community and to Pan-American culture overall.

Earlier this year, project partners asked Michael Kaiser with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management to review the plan and make recommendations.

Kaiser said TPR would be a great fit for part of the building, while a new nonprofit conservancy can oversee Latino-focused programming for the rest of the venue.

“I was very excited about the possibility of renovating the theater and creating an important Latino presenting organization,” Kaiser said.

“The newer portion of the building would not be needed by a revived Alameda and could be used for TPR. Since so much art and entertainment is now being broadcast electronically, especially on the web, TPR seemed a smart partner for collaboration with the Alameda,” he added.

Kaiser noted that TPR’s operations would stay separate from those of the renewed Alameda.

Following Kaiser’s other suggestions, the latest concept creates a stage thrust into the audience. The audience seating would be reorganized into tiers that can hold theater seats or event tables and chairs.

TPR’s new headquarters would occupy 35,000 square feet of the 80,000-square-foot facility, including a ground-floor production space holding studios with windows. There also would be a 160-seat black box theater.

TPR has outgrown its existing headquarters on Datapoint Drive. The public radio station sought available spaces around downtown, then got involved in conversations about the Alameda.

While the station did not want to lease an entire theater, TPR acknowledged a need to preserve the Alameda.

“This is an iconic building in downtown. It has huge cultural value to many people who have memories of going there,” Slocum said.

TPR would use its bigger space to enhance its programming and community engagement, including town halls, panel discussions and appreciation events.

“I think there’s recognition that the Alameda shouldn’t be dark with nothing happening, but that it should always be activated and animated,” Slocum added.

Slocum said TPR would help to promote the Alameda’s programming: “We want to be a collaborative partner.”

The project partners formed a new nonprofit, the conservancy, to handle programming, ranging from live performing arts and film festivals to arts education and private events.

The city and county each will help fund the theater’s operations for the first few years, with contributions decreasing over time.

Project partners also see the Alameda as integral to Zona Cultural, a 2-year-old cultural district encompassing the theater, San Pedro Creek, Main Plaza, Market Square and other destinations in western downtown, where San Antonio originally developed.

San Pedro Creek is currently undergoing a massive improvement project. Local elected leaders look forward to completion of the restoration.

“I cannot stress enough how critical it is to preserve culturally significant spaces like the Alameda as they help tell the rich story of our city and serve as reminders and inspiration to future generations,” said District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño in a press release.

“Bexar County has invested heavily in keeping the flame of hope burning for this iconic facility,” added Bexar County Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo.

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San Antonio music scene: St. Mary’s Strip seeks entertainment district status http://localcommunitynews.com/san-antonio-music-scene-st-marys-strip-seeks-entertainment-district-status/ http://localcommunitynews.com/san-antonio-music-scene-st-marys-strip-seeks-entertainment-district-status/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:06:56 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2926 Less than two years after forming the North St. Mary’s Business Owners Association, Blayne Tucker, a proprietor of the Mix, is urging the live music venues and other businesses on the St. Mary’s Strip to work together to persuade City Council to designate San Antonio’s primary nightlife destination an “entertainment district.” And he’d like to… Read More

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Less than two years after forming the North St. Mary’s Business Owners Association, Blayne Tucker, a proprietor of the Mix, is urging the live music venues and other businesses on the St. Mary’s Strip to work together to persuade City Council to designate San Antonio’s primary nightlife destination an “entertainment district.”

And he’d like to see the city pursue the Texas Music Office’s new “Music Friendly Community” mark of approval.

“We’re working with the city to be named a cultural district similar to Market Square,” Tucker said. “This is our first foray into trying to get official recognition from the city, but we think it would help with marketing the Strip on the local, state and national level. Currently, the Convention and Visitors Bureau tends to focus on the River Walk, the Alamo and theme parks, but we think visitors, especially the younger generation, are looking for a bigger variety of things to do, such as eating with the locals and enjoying live music. If we’re official, maybe it will be harder to overlook us.”

Debbie Racca-Sittre, director of the city’s Department of Arts & Culture, said there’s a good chance the council will go along with the proposal, but the process is probably going to take at least a year. Her department already has commissioned Jim Beal, former music columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, to write a history of the Strip — a half-mile stretch of North St. Mary’s Street between U.S. 281 to East Dewey Place or thereabouts — to be used as part of a presentation to the council.

“The city doesn’t have a formal procedure for naming an area an entertainment district, although we do have two official cultural zones – Southtown and the Zona Cultural, which extends from Main Plaza to Market Square,” Racca-Sittre said. “These both have official state designation from the Texas Commission on the Arts. But I’m optimistic that we will be able to make a presentation to City Council by next spring about the Strip.”

Originally, the state arts commission designation could be used to apply for state grant money, but with cutbacks to the state art agency’s funding, the grants are no longer available, Racca-Sittre said. However, as a marketing ploy, the cultural zone designation by the city could help to better identify for visitors places with plenty of entertainment options outside the usual well-trod tourist attractions.

“I recently toured San Francisco and that city has more than a dozen cultural zones,” Racca-Sittre said. “So along with the Strip, there are several other areas of San Antonio that I would like to see designated as cultural zones such as the Old Spanish Trail along Fredericksburg Road and on the West Side around the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. I think it would help to let people know that these cultural zones have lots of attractions close together in areas that are walkable and accessible.”

The Texas Music Office recently launched the “Music Friendly Community” program and the entire city should be able to qualify for the title, Racca-Sittre said. To become certified, San Antonio would have to establish a Music Office liaison, register with the Texas Music Industry Directory, demonstrate partnerships with the community’s music-related nonprofits and collaborate with music education programs, including area college or university music schools.

“We’re working with the Texas Music Office, but this is a new program, so right now no one has earned the Music Friendly designation,” Racca-Sittre said. “However, San Antonio should certainly qualify.”

Tucker said $7 million in bond money earmarked for North St. Mary’s Street from East Mistletoe Avenue to West Josephine Street, approved during last May’s 2017-22 bond election, may be used to address some of the issues with pedestrian safety that originally brought together the St. Mary’s Strip business owners.

“I expect that most of the money will be spent on improving crosswalks, signal lights, intersections and sidewalks,” Tucker said. “The city has already made improvements to the lighting along the Strip. We’ve also had some success in getting business owners along the Strip to open up their parking lots more for evening visitors. But it’s kind of a block-by-block situation and we really need a bigger solution. I’d like to see more use of pedicabs and trolleys to connect people with other parking and the Pearl.”

The Strip continues to add new music venues, restaurants and businesses. Folc restaurant is relocating from Olmos Park, NOLA Brunch & Beignets is serving up a taste of New Orleans and a food truck park named Buho is planned, Tucker said. Jandro’s, which opened last fall in the former Crazy Horse Saloon, has a stage and outdoor patio for live music.      

“Obviously, as the owner of Paper Tiger, we think an area where there’s a concentration of venues featuring live music is hugely important to our city,” said Chad Carey of the Empty Stomach Group which, besides the club in the former White Rabbit space, operates restaurants such as Hot Joy in Southtown, Barbaro on McCullough Avenue and Chisme on the Strip. “As far as new places on the Strip I’m excited about, I’ll be very happy to see the Phantom Room reopen its doors. And Kelly Edwards’ new tattoo shop is going to be awesome.”

The Phantom Room has been closed since a devastating fire destroyed the club on Nov. 16, 2016. The Phantom opened in 2015 and is owned by Danny Delgado, who also operates Faust, Hi-Tones, Botanica and Squeezebox on the St. Mary’s Strip.

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Medical advances help design targeted breast-cancer treatments http://localcommunitynews.com/medical-advances-help-design-targeted-breast-cancer-treatments/ http://localcommunitynews.com/medical-advances-help-design-targeted-breast-cancer-treatments/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:49:55 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2920 Treatment of breast cancers is moving away from a cookie-cutter approach as medical research continues to uncover new ways to fight the disease. In Bexar County, about 1,000 newly diagnosed breast-cancer cases are recorded annually, coupled with 177 breast-cancer deaths, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The agency also forecasts 14,651 new… Read More

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Treatment of breast cancers is moving away from a cookie-cutter approach as medical research continues to uncover new ways to fight the disease.

In Bexar County, about 1,000 newly diagnosed breast-cancer cases are recorded annually, coupled with 177 breast-cancer deaths, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The agency also forecasts 14,651 new breast-cancer cases and 2,767 deaths statewide this year.

Oncologist Dr. Amy Lang, with the Start Center for Cancer Care, 4383 Medical Drive, treats adult patients with cancer.

“What’s happening is there’s been a move away from one size fits all. It used to be common to do surgery and chemotherapy on the majority of breast cancers, but that’s no longer true today,” Lang said. “We only use chemo if the cancer is very aggressive.”

Emerging technology is paving the way for these new treatments.

“We have a number of molecular profiling tests that have come out based on genetic screening done on nearly all of our patients,” the doctor said. “The results of those genetic profiles have allowed us to look well beyond what the pathologist can tell us about a given tumor.”

Physicians have learned a number of things, she added.

“We find sometimes that large tumors aren’t necessarily more aggressive,” she said. “We’ve also learned that some cancer cells simply do not respond to chemotherapy because the genetics of the cell will not permit it to respond. As a result, we are treating a fraction of the number of women with chemo than we used to.”

She said, “In situ — noninvasive cancers — typically were treated with lumpectomy and radiation, plus some hormone treatment, but today, older women may need no treatment. Younger women, however, are not comfortable not getting treatment. As a result, for younger patients with in situ breast cancers, additional treatments are often prescribed.”

Advances in imagery are also helping, she added.

“New technology in mammograms — tomosynthesis 3-D mammography – is a major advancement in diagnosis of breast cancers,” the oncologist said. “The scan creates a three-dimensional image of breast tissue, which leads to even better identification of breast-cancer cells. There are also new drug therapies coming online that may prove very beneficial in treating breast cancer.”

Dr. Oscar Ochoa, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said the common belief that breast cancers run in families and thus greatly increases a woman’s risk of developing a cancer isn’t accurate.

“The majority – 80 percent of all breast cancers — are new breast cancers in a family,” he said. “Fifty percent of women (come in) with a noticeable change in the physical presentation of their breasts – nipple discharge, lumps or other changes that raise an alarm. The other half of breast cancers are caught on mammogram where the patient had no idea she had a problem.”

Echoing Lang’s observations, Ochoa said, “We’re finding out more and more about the genetics of breast cancer. As a result, we are getting closer and closer to designing drugs based on the genetic profile of the patient. That will mean less reliance on chemo and more reliance on targeted treatments tailored to an individual patient’s genetic makeup.”

Ochoa and his group, PRMA Plastic Surgery, 9635 Huebner Road, specialize in reconstructive work following a mastectomy or other procedures, which may change a breast’s appearance.

During the next decade, “one of the most exciting developments” will be tissue engineering using a 3-D bioprinter to construct the replacement tissue for a breast (or breasts) following a mastectomy, he said.

  “Using 3-D imaging we will be able to make a perfect copy of the cavity left after the cancer is removed to enable us to print out the replacement tissue,” Ochoa added.

Women and men ideally will take steps to reduce their risk of breast and other cancers, the doctors said.

“We know there’s a link between alcohol and breast cancer,” Lang said. “Women who consume more than three drinks a week are at higher risk for developing breast cancer, and the more she drinks, the greater the risk. As the alcohol content goes up, the estrogen levels go up, too, and we know higher estrogen levels bring about breast cancer.”

Controlling your weight, exercise and a low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables lowers the risk of breast cancer, Lang said.

For more, visit the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast.

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Keep it down! Too loud? http://localcommunitynews.com/keep-it-down-too-loud/ http://localcommunitynews.com/keep-it-down-too-loud/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:46:28 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2918 Excessive noise, though not an overtly harmful nuisance, can be tricky for cities to handle — and that includes the sounds made by weekend labor crews. What’s a noise nuisance to one person might not bother a neighbor at all. So while enforcing noise nuisance rules is not an exact science, cities such as Olmos… Read More

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Excessive noise, though not an overtly harmful nuisance, can be tricky for cities to handle — and that includes the sounds made by weekend labor crews.

What’s a noise nuisance to one person might not bother a neighbor at all.

So while enforcing noise nuisance rules is not an exact science, cities such as Olmos Park, Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills each have slightly different criteria guiding their regulations.

For example, Alamo Heights’ ordinance does not specify decibel levels that are considered excessively loud.

“We do not use a decibel range as a determining factor for violations,” Police Chief Richard Pruitt said. “Instead, we try to respond to any reported noise nuisance without setting parameters on an individual’s tolerances or special needs. Officers have been very successful in resolving most noise nuisances through a personal contact at the source without resorting to enforcement measures.”

On the other hand, Terrell Hills and Olmos Park both have ordinances that address specific decibel levels.

Terrell Hills defines a noise nuisance as any noise that exceeds 63 decibels in its residential or semicommercial zones.

In Olmos Park, over 85 decibels is considered too loud.

Some experts say prolonged exposure to sounds 70 decibels or higher can range from irritation to outright hearing loss. Rock concerts and chainsaws often register at 110 decibels; a police siren is 120.

Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and Terrell Hills also all have slightly different ordinances governing outside work/noise on weekdays and weekends by laborers, such as yard men, landscapers, tree crews and construction workers.

In Olmos Park, construction activities are permitted weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Olmos Park also allows construction 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills don’t allow construction work on weekends or city holidays, unless approved for special cases.

“There’s no construction work on the weekends or holidays,” Terrell Hills City Manager Greg Whitlock said.

Each of these cities do allow yard maintenance and landscaping on weekdays and weekends.

However, both Terrell Hills and Alamo Heights have ordinances that specifically address the use of gas-powered equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers.

In Terrell Hills, the devices are restricted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. In Alamo Heights, they are prohibited before 10 a.m. on weekends and city-observed holidays.

Olmos Park’s ordinance doesn’t specifically address gas-powered leaf blowers or lawn-equipment use on weekends, but the issue came before City Council during a meeting in February 2015.

“What has come to my attention from several concerned residents is the gas-powered leaf blowers that have a decibel of 85, but actually averages between 95 and 102 decibels and these lawn services are turning these leaf blowers on at 7 a.m. on Saturdays. I understand the lawn services want to get started early and get done early and tackle as many lawns as possible, but it seems like it is very disruptive to someone who is trying to enjoy their Saturday morning.” — Councilman Casey Fry

Fry discussed alerting Olmos Park residents through an email blast to ask homeowners to “convince their lawn crews to start at a later hour.”

“This is an ongoing nuisance and I continue to get complaints from residents,” Fry said during the session.

Olmos Parks Public Works Director Gilbert DeLeon said he spoke to about “10-12 yard men to see if it was possible that they start working at 9 a.m. and they all said, ‘Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills have asked us the same thing and we understand,’ and it was no problem. As of now it seems to be working.”

When residents and others have complaints on the weekend, the cities’ police departments handle those.

“Olmos Park code compliance officers do not work on the weekends. However, our Police Department can issue code violation citations as needed,” DeLeon said.

The fines for noise nuisances in Olmos Park can reach up to $500.

In Alamo Heights, “Police officers are dispatched to all noise nuisance complaints, including violations of prohibited hours/days of construction regardless of day of week or time of day,” Pruitt said.

“Convictions for noise nuisance violations could result in fines up to $500,” he added.

The Terrell Hills Police Department “handles all code violations, 24/7,” Whitlock said. “Fines can range from $10 to $200.”

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Cowboys, Cavaliers, cocktails and culture http://localcommunitynews.com/cowboys-cavaliers-cocktails-culture/ http://localcommunitynews.com/cowboys-cavaliers-cocktails-culture/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:14:01 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2906 Boysville’s boot-scootin’, bling-bearing and big-biddin’ 51st Annual Wildest Auction in the West raised more than $450,000 during an unforgettable night. The Alamo City’s most philanthropic cowboys and cowgirls dusted off their duds and gathered to raise the bar on fundraising. There were fantastic items at the live and silent auctions, great grub, The Bret Mullins… Read More

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Boysville’s boot-scootin’, bling-bearing and big-biddin’ 51st Annual Wildest Auction in the West raised more than $450,000 during an unforgettable night. The Alamo City’s most philanthropic cowboys and cowgirls dusted off their duds and gathered to raise the bar on fundraising.

There were fantastic items at the live and silent auctions, great grub, The Bret Mullins Band, Spurs legend Bruce Bowen and the one and only Michelle Beadle of “NBA Countdown.”  A great time was had by all.

At the Witte Museum, guests at “Cocktails & Culture” experienced the institution after-hours during an event exclusively for adults. This enchanted evening offered a tour of the exciting exhibit “Whales: Giants of the Deep” mixed with drinks, conversation and culinary delights from local food trucks.

Texas Cavaliers Commander Roger Hill recently announced the election of 14 new members.

They are Stuart “Lee” Cavender Jr., David Douglas Christian, Clayton Cullum Harrison, John William Hinchey, David Dowling Hornberger, Lance Woodley Littleton, Carlos Federico Longoria, Peter McLaughlin, David Keene Mauzé, Frederick “Gates” Mueller, Jackson Nahoum III, Tom Simms Oliver, Blake Stouffer and George “Bailey” Woods Jr.   

The Texas Cavaliers’ membership includes more than 500 business, civic and community leaders. The organization and its supporters have raised upwards of $2 million in the past 20 years for charitable causes.

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Bruce-Bowen,-Michelle-Beadle,-Beth-and-David-Green-SQRAllison-and-Chad-Lewis

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The Local Lowdown – October 2017 http://localcommunitynews.com/local-lowdown-october-2017/ http://localcommunitynews.com/local-lowdown-october-2017/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:00:14 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2903 TRINITY UNIVERSITY HAS NAMED TESS COODY-ANDERS vice president for strategic communications and marketing. Coody-Anders, a Trinity graduate, was appointed by university President Danny J. Anderson following an extensive national search. THE LANDA BRANCH LIBRARY REOPENED SEPT. 21 after being closed since June 5 for renovations, the San Antonio Public Library announced. The Monte Vista Historic… Read More

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TRINITY UNIVERSITY HAS NAMED TESS COODY-ANDERS vice president for strategic communications and marketing. Coody-Anders, a Trinity graduate, was appointed by university President Danny J. Anderson following an extensive national search.

THE LANDA BRANCH LIBRARY REOPENED SEPT. 21 after being closed since June 5 for renovations, the San Antonio Public Library announced. The Monte Vista Historic District facility “received a complete exterior restoration and interior improvements to realign public service areas for better customer service and refresh furniture and paint,” according to a press release. “This project will ensure that the beautiful Landa Branch Library remains an iconic part of the San Antonio Public Library system for years to come.” Funding of $815,000 came from the city’s 2016 and 2017 fiscal year budgets, plus $10,000 in private donations. According to officials, the library system celebrates the improvements and the Landa’s 70th anniversary with a family-friendly celebration from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 14.

OLMOS PHARMACY GENERAL MANAGER ROD CAMPBELL recently announced on Facebook the popular diner/soda fountain/pub at East Hildebrand and McCullough avenues is permanently closed. Over time, it was also known as the Olmos Park Bharmacy after it switched from a traditional drug store and diner to a live-music venue with food. No explanation was given, but Campbell thanked all his regular customers for their support over the years as well as the performers for their many live music events at the watering hole.

THE SAN ANTONIO CONSERVATION SOCIETY IS accepting nominations for its Awards for the Built Environment. According to a release, the goal is to recognize the highest level of accomplishment in historic preservation, and to recognize the highest quality preservation of the built environment, in an effort to educate the public about preservation and to encourage further contributions in that field. The nominations must be delivered by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3 to Conservation Society headquarters, 107 King William St. For more, visit: www.saconservation.org/Portals/0/Events/NomForm2018.pdf

AFTER A 30-YEAR ABSENCE, AN 1892 FIRE PUMPER has returned to the Alamo City. The horse-drawn apparatus, also known as a steam fire engine, was retired from service in 1910 when fire engines in San Antonio became motorized. The San Antonio Fire Department donated it to the Witte Museum in 1939. Later, the Witte loaned it to the Houston Fire Museum until it was returned Aug. 14 and delivered to the San Antonio Fire Museum, 801 E. Houston St.

DC PARTNERS HAS NAMED JORDAN FOSTER CONSTRUCTION the general contractor for the Thompson San Antonio Hotel and The Arts Residences, a $116 million, 20-level mixed-use hotel-condominium tower on the River Walk that will bring luxury living to downtown. The developer also announced the opening of The Arts Residences Sales Center, located in the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts Administration Building, 115 Auditorium Circle.

THE HERO RIDE, A MOTORCYCLE RIDE BENEFITING the 100 Club of San Antonio and Special Ops Warrior Foundation, recently collected nonperishable food donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey on behalf of the San Antonio Food Bank. The Alamo Quarry Market was one of the first stops, where Food Bank bins were located at Canyon Café and Whole Foods Market for food donations to families that felt the impact of the storm.

AT&T DONATED MORE THAN 150 BACKPACKS to the inaugural freshman class at CAST Tech High School, or Centers for Applied Science and Technology, to help students gear up for success and to help kick off the new school year.

BEXAR COUNTY JUDGE NELSON WOLFF RECENTLY UNVEILED BexarConnect —  new, interactive kiosks installed downtown to deliver street-level communication technology, including free public Wi-Fi, dual 55-inch outdoor displays, touchscreens and USB quick-charge capabilities. BexarConnect also displays information regarding Bexar County exhibits, upcoming events and information on BiblioTech, the digital library, as well as content on geographic points of interest.

THE COMPLETION OF TWO STREET PROJECTS off of Austin Highway has been lauded by District 2 Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw and other city officials.  Olney Drive between Pansy and Ginger lanes, and Pansy from Byrnes Drive to the dead end, were completely reconstructed to provide proper drainage. Both streets received new asphalt pavement, as well as new curbs, new sidewalks, driveway approaches and wheelchair ramps at the intersections. Other improvements include topsoil and grass along the right of ways.

TWO PORTIONS OF BLANCO ROAD HAVE BEEN COMPLETED UNDER THE 2012 bond project, from Edison Drive to El Monte Boulevard and from Olmos Creek to Jackson Keller Road. Both sections received underground drainage improvements, sidewalks, curbs, pedestrian crosswalks, wheelchair ramps and pedestrian signals, city officials said. Additional improvements included improved traffic signals at Dresden Drive, Burwood Lane, Lovera Boulevard, Wildwood Drive and Nimitz Middle School. The budget for Blanco Road Phase II was $14.6 million. The total investment for Blanco Road Phase I and Phase II was $36.4 million, drawn from the 2007 and 2012 bonds. Phase I, completed in July 2014, improved Blanco from San Francisco Street to Edison and from El Monte to Olmos Creek.

HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY LONG SNAPPER DANIEL GARZA, a 2013 Alamo Heights High School graduate and a football captain in 2012, was selected to the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team, officials said. According to a release, Garza, a senior, “picked up third-team honors after appearing in every HBU football game in program history as the team’s long snapper. In 2016, he did not have a fumbled snap on 25 field-goal attempts, 21 extra-point attempts and 80 punts. Additionally, Garza was the snapper on Alec Chadwick’s 60-yard made field goal at Incarnate Word on Nov. 17, (2016), the longest field goal in NCAA Division I (both FBS and FCS) all season.”

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Harvey’s heroes showed Texas spirit http://localcommunitynews.com/harveys-heroes-showed-texas-spirit/ http://localcommunitynews.com/harveys-heroes-showed-texas-spirit/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:51:12 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2901 Many of us who saw Hurricane Harvey’s power will never forget images of the storm’s staggering toll. Yet, we’ll also remember Harvey’s heroes — both first responders and ordinary residents. Their extraordinary actions provided both desperately needed aid and powerful inspiration as the crisis unfolded. The inspiration still resonates. One of the scenes touching me… Read More

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Many of us who saw Hurricane Harvey’s power will never forget images of the storm’s staggering toll. Yet, we’ll also remember Harvey’s heroes — both first responders and ordinary residents. Their extraordinary actions provided both desperately needed aid and powerful inspiration as the crisis unfolded.

The inspiration still resonates.

One of the scenes touching me the most was the crowd of strangers jumping from their cars and forming a human chain to rescue an elderly Houston man stranded in his flooded SUV. After being carried to safety, the motorist was reunited with his son at a hospital.

To me, the spontaneous human chain was a perfect metaphor for the very best things about Texas. The can-do spirit, kindness shown to others and Lone Star pride and generosity were displayed thousands of ways during Harvey’s worst days. Friends who have come to San Antonio from other states kept saying they thought Texans reacted with more caring and bigheartedness than folks in any other place they have lived. I’ve been here more than half my life and I agree.

There’s a special sense of place here — a Texas state of mind.

It’s the same spirit many of us — whose lives have been touched by natural disasters closer to home — have experienced: Neighbors who brought their boats and canoes in 1998 to waterlogged San Antonio neighborhoods during the 100-year flood, countless San Antonio Food Bank volunteers who respond to area cataclysms, or individual chefs such as Joan Cheever, whose nonprofit The Chow Train has reported to calamities from Bastrop wildfires to a San Marcos deluge, as well as serving thousands of Harvey victims and first responders in Rockport and Port Aransas in August.

Hundreds of unsung individuals, such as San Antonians Carol Hirschi and Bob Jeske, gave their time, gas and money traveling to Rockport, where Hirschi and other San Antonio-area folks helped provide meals with nonprofit Mercy Chefs, while Jeske pitched in with area efforts.

It seemed like everyone statewide wanted to help, and indeed, many did, whether it was making an online donation or getting in a pickup to support the relief effort. Doctors and medical techs, military folks and veterans, animal lovers and volunteer veterinarians, construction workers and couture designers put their figurative oars in the waters and rowed out to deliver boatloads of assistance. Homegrown Texas companies including San Antonio giants H-E-B, Valero, NuStar and USAA sent money, goods and volunteers to stricken regions. Texans came in swarms to help the Food Bank, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other nonprofits.

San Antonio sheltered more than 1,400 Harvey evacuees and sent dozens of first responders to help communities hardest hit by the storm. The Alamo City would have been ready – and more than willing — to house many thousands more if the need had arisen, as we did, with open arms, after Hurricane Katrina.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told me his granddaughter volunteered to comfort evacuees in Houston’s convention center. Almost every Texas family had a story of someone in the path of the flood, and someone reaching out to help others.

Texas is a state full of contradictions, from hard-core cowboys and die-hard hunters to hippies and yuppies, and folks both liberal and conservative. However, in a pinch, we’re all Texans.

“We may not like each other,” Wolff said, “but when disaster strikes, we pull together.”

Amen. Just think what we could accomplish if we always collaborated, like that lifesaving human chain.

syerkes@localcommunitynews.com

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Learning lessons from Harvey http://localcommunitynews.com/learning-lessons-harvey/ http://localcommunitynews.com/learning-lessons-harvey/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 14:50:35 +0000 http://localcommunitynews.com/?p=2898 The Greater San Antonio area dodged a bullet with Hurricane Harvey — this time. In the future, we may not be so lucky. Unprecedented rains, which deluged counties to the east, are a wake-up call for our vicinity. Don’t forget, meteorologists at one point predicted Harvey might hit San Antonio. This cataclysm calls to mind… Read More

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The Greater San Antonio area dodged a bullet with Hurricane Harvey — this time. In the future, we may not be so lucky.

Unprecedented rains, which deluged counties to the east, are a wake-up call for our vicinity. Don’t forget, meteorologists at one point predicted Harvey might hit San Antonio.

This cataclysm calls to mind the old Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Such advice applies to cities as well as people.

One hard lesson learned by Houston, which doesn’t have zoning laws as stringent as other Texas municipalities, is that unchecked development typified by impervious cover — concrete — leads to disaster.

When ground is paved over, water has nowhere to go.

In addition, evacuation orders should be heeded. Though Houston’s officials issued none, Gov. Greg Abbott was pretty clear what he thought, even before the hurricane hit: If you live in an area where you think it will flood, even if it never has before, then get out.

At the same time, pay attention to warnings from reputable sources, and ignore untrustworthy ones.

For instance, in the San Antonio area, there was no need to rush like panicked lemmings to gas stations, siphoning off the last drop of fuel. A faux crisis resulted, manufactured by some social-media Chicken Littles.

San Antonio and its neighbors have seen their share of disasters. Let’s hope we can all learn something from Harvey.

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