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June 23, 2010

City of Houston E-Newsletter

Table of Contents


Freedom Over Texas with Fireworks Presented by Shell
Featuring Country Music Stars Pat Green, Little Big Town and Cowboy Mouth

Freedom Over TexasJoin the City of Houston in celebrating America's birthday on Sunday, July 4, 2010 with an explosive concert by country music stars Pat Green, Little Big Town and Cowboy Mouth. Enjoy the largest land-based fireworks show in the nation, presented by Shell, and a lively outdoor festival featuring fun activities for the entire family.

Freedom Over Texas with Fireworks Presented by Shell will take place in the heart of downtown at Eleanor Tinsley Park, 500 Allen Parkway, 77002 from 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.

For more information, go to www.freedomovertexas.org and to volunteer for the celebration, please visit http://www.houstontx.gov/july4/volunteer.html.


Prepare Now Before the Next Storm Hits
Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Stay Informed and Know Your Neighbor

Hurricane season is here. Are you ready? Here are four important steps to take:

  • Make a Plan – before a hurricane hits, families should determine if they are in an immediate flood zone and will need to evacuate, how to contact one another and where to meet in case of separation. Those who might be unsure whether their home can withstand hurricane force winds should locate nearby shelters such as a local church, workplace or neighborhood school for protection
  • Build a Kit – food, water, first aid kits and other supplies to last three days should be on hand
  • Stay Informed – residents should find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and manmade, are most likely to occur in their areas and how to best prepare for each one
  • Know Your Neighbor – neighbors should talk about preparedness to be sure everyone has a plan and, if necessary, register for transportation assistance (See below for more details)

Residents who may need transportation assistance during an emergency evacuation are encouraged to register with the Emergency Transportation Assistance Registry with the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM). All persons who have registered for transportation assistance in previous years must re-register for assistance in 2010.

To register, individuals may choose from the following options:

  • Online registration forms are available on the official City of Houston OEM website www.houstonoem.net. Click on the “Transportation Assistance” tab, complete the form and submit your information
  • Paper registration forms were mailed to individuals who registered in 2009. Call Houston OEM directly at 713-884-4500
  • Dial 2-1-1, the Texas/United Way Helpline, and follow the instructions provided

For more information and helpful tools for disaster preparedness, please see www.readyhoustontx.gov.


Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Awards: Calling for Nominations

Mayor Annise Parker and the Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Committee will kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in September with the 2010 Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Awards. Nominations are now being accepted.

The application is available at http://www.houstontx.gov/specialevents/hispanicheritage.html. Please click on “2010 Hispanic Heritage Awards Application.” The deadline is July 15, 2010.


Help Bring the Soccer World Cup to the U.S. and Houston

Everyone is encouraged to sign the petition to bring the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup™ to the United States and Houston in 2018 or 2022. Houston is one of 18 cities selected for inclusion in the U.S. bid to host the event and is currently ranked first among American cities participating in the petition drive.

Please help keep Houston at the top of the list by clicking on The Game is in Houston graphic just below, and when it opens up, click “SIGN THE PETITION." The petition may also be found at http://www.gousabid.com/city/local/houston-tx/. This year’s men’s world soccer championship, the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, is hosted by South Africa. The U.S. hosted its only World Cup in 1994. FIFA will announce its host country selections for 2018 and 2022 on December 2, 2010.

Vote for Houston!


Houston Public Library Central Library Summer Schedule
Clayton Library and Kendall Neighborhood Library New Hours

Library LogoThe Houston Public Library (HPL) Central Library is open every day during the summer except Fridays and Sundays. It will reopen again on Sundays beginning August 22, 2010. The Central Library is located downtown at 500 McKinney, 77002, 832-393-1313. The full Central Library’s summer schedule can be viewed at http://www.houstonlibrary.org/central-library.

Beginning, Thursday, July 1, 2010, Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research (Clayton) will be open on Fridays and closed on Mondays. Clayton is located at 5300 Caroline, 77004, 832-393-2600. The new schedule can be viewed at http://www.houstonlibrary.org/clayton.

Also, effective July 1, 2010, Kendall Neighborhood Library (Kendall) will add hours, opening on Saturdays. Kendall is located at 609 N. Eldridge, 77079, 832-393-1880. The new schedule can be viewed at http://www.houstonlibrary.org/kendall-neighborhood-library.

The Clayton and Kendall changes are as a result of an ongoing evaluation of the new systemwide schedules implemented in April 2010 due to budget constraints. A formal evaluation of all HPL schedules will be made in the fall, looking at the effectiveness of the new schedules and a review of customer feedback.

For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.


City of Houston Website Getting New Look

New Website GraphicThe City of Houston website is undergoing its first major modernization and rebranding since its debut in January 2005 as www.houstontx.gov.

Also known as the eGovernment Center, the website is a one-stop shop for resources within the city. The redesign updates the layout, and takes advantage of modern technologies and is being done completely by City of Houston employees with no extra cost to taxpayers.

The new look will be introduced during the second half of July 2010.


City Budget Balanced Without Tax Increase or Major Service Cuts

Houston City Council approved a $4.12 billion city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010. The taxpayer supported General Fund expenditure portion of the budget is $124 million below the adopted budget for the previous year and represents the lowest spending plan since 2008. It is balanced without a property tax increase and includes several management efficiencies that are designed to cut costs and save taxpayers approximately $22 million. In this budget, there is no reliance on debt to fund day-to-day expenses. For more information, see http://www.houstontx.gov/budget/11budprop/I_Maylet.pdf, which is a link to the budget letter Mayor Parker provided to Houston City Council.


Citizens Are Encouraged to Help “Keep Houston Safe” by Preventing Car Burglaries

All citizens are asked to hide their valuables and to lock their vehicles. Police reports indicate that in 2009, over 35,000 cars were burglarized in Houston and in the first quarter of 2010 about 7,600 burglaries of motor vehicles were reported. It takes less than 10 seconds for a thief to break a car window and take items from the back seat.

For more information on preventing the burglary of your motor vehicle, visit www.houstonpolice.org and click on Keep Houston Safe.

Keep Houston Safe


Summer Safety Tips from the Houston Fire Department

IT'S HOT AND GETTING HOTTER
No matter how long you have lived in Houston, it is still hard to get used to the extreme heat and humidity. The Houston Fire Department (HFD) recommends several steps you can take to help keep you and your family cool and safe from heat exhaustion and other heat related illnesses. Please click on http://www.houstontx.gov/fire/news/cscjune2010.pdf for important information on heat safety. If you or your organization would like to have these type of notifications sent directly to your email as a part of the HFD Civic Safety Chain email service, please visit www.houstonfire.org and click on the Civic Safety Chain link at the bottom of the page.

FIREWORKS ARE ILLEGAL IN THE CITY OF HOUSTON
HFD reminds citizens that it is illegal to discharge fireworks or to have fireworks in your possession in the City of Houston. Harris County residents should also be aware that HFD will be enforcing the fireworks ban in the Limited Purpose Annexation areas. The fines are $500 - $2,000 for each individual firework. Please visit http://www.hcfmo.net/fireworks.aspx for more information on fireworks safety and the law regarding their use, including maps of the ban areas.

WORKING SMOKE DETECTORS SAVE LIVES
Have you tested your smoke detector recently? If you need a new one, please call the HFD Public Affairs Office at 713-495-7900, email hfdpaevents@houstontx.gov or visit your nearest HFD Fire Station to receive a free smoke detector. To locate a fire station near you, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/fire/firestations/index.html.


City Removes 185 Dangerous Buildings from Neighborhoods

Residents cheered as they watched the demolition of 185 neighborhood eyesores that were taken down as part of Demolition Day, the most structures ever removed in one day in Houston. The effort was made possible by the volunteer help of the Houston Contractors Association, which removed 103 of the buildings. The organization’s donation saved the City of Houston an estimated $370,000. City contractors took down the other 82 properties, which had asbestos problems or were structurally unsound.

The city is on track to have torn down 831 buildings by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2010, setting a new record and far surpassing the initial goal of removing 600 dangerous buildings. The city takes action to remove a dangerous building only after the owner has ignored repeated orders to take care of the problem. To report a dangerous or structurally unsound building in your neighborhood, call 3-1-1.


Houston Police Department Opens a Downtown Museum and Gift Shop

Houston Police DepartmentA new tourist destination has opened in downtown Houston! The Houston Police Department (HPD) Museum is now open and is located in the lobby of HPD headquarters at 1200 Travis, 77002. Admission is free and the museum is open Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. and closed on weekends.

Visitors will see a unique display of artifacts including authentic HPD uniforms that date back to the early 1900s, antique guns, newspaper clippings, photos, vehicles and other historical pieces that chronicle the department's existence for more than a century in Houston. The museum also features an ornate Wall of Honor which highlights the names of fallen officers and the badges they once wore.

The HPD gift shop is located inside the museum with all merchandise proceeds benefitting the Houston Police Foundation. To learn more about the HPD Museum, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/police/museum/index.htm.


City of Houston Historic Preservation Ordinance
Mayor Parker Appoints Task Force to Consider Overhaul

As the first step in a process that will lead to enhancements to Houston’s 15-year-old Historic Preservation Ordinance, City Council has voted to temporarily discontinue the 90-day waiver for demolitions, relocations and incompatible new construction in City of Houston Historic Districts that are denied Certificates of Appropriateness (C of A) by the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (HAHC). In other words, if the HAHC says no, the project cannot proceed. However, if the HAHC approves a C of A for demolition, relocation or new construction, the applicant is free to move forward with his plans after seeking the appropriate permits.

The temporary discontinuance also applies to new applications for historic districts. However, there is an exemption for applicants who expended money or took other preliminary steps toward a new construction project prior to council’s passage of the ordinance. The measure will remain in effect until the end of the year or until amendments to the historic preservation ordinance are adopted, whichever is earlier.

Community meetings are planned this summer. In addition, any recommended changes to the Historic Preservation Ordinance will be considered by the HAHC, Planning Commission and City Council, providing numerous opportunities for dialogue and public input. See http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/historic_pres/hist_pres.htm for the existing ordinance.

In other historic preservation efforts, HAHC has launched a new educational website, www.houstonpreservation.org, with video tours of historic districts and stories to help citizens gain an understanding of historic preservation and a feature that lets visitors ask questions of historic preservation experts.


City Veterans Office Welcomes Home Soldiers

Veterans Affairs Office LogoIn May 2010, the City of Houston Office of Veterans Affairs hosted more than twenty-five soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen in their quarterly Transition Assistance Program (TAP) seminar.

TAP seminars are free programs designed to educate our local active duty, Reserve and National Guard service members about their federal and state benefits, available employment opportunities and provide direct access to Houston’s world-class educational institutions.

Houston’s TAP seminars are different than those at active duty military installations because local individuals are present to directly connect the transitioning servicemen and servicewomen with critical services located near their homes as opposed to only providing generalized information.

Veterans Affairs SeminarThis program is open to all retiring/separating service members, recently discharged veterans and their families returning to the Houston area.

The Office of Veterans Affairs was created in 2007 as a division of the Mayor’s office to make Houston the best city for veterans.

For more information on TAP or to register, please visit www.houstontx.gov/vetaffairs, Facebook, Twitter @COHOVA or call 832-393-0992.