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  September 11, 2012

City of Houston E-Newsletter

Table of Contents


Heavy Trash Pick-Up Schedules Are Changing
Effective November 1, 2012

Solid Waste Department LogoContinuing its efforts to maximize cost savings, provide efficient service delivery and engage in proactive customer service, the Solid Waste Management Department has taken your feedback and is improving your heavy trash (tree waste/junk waste) collection service.

Effective Thursday, November 1, 2012, the monthly heavy trash (tree waste/junk waste) pickup date for your neighborhood will change. Tree waste and junk waste collection will still occur in alternating months, odd-numbered months for tree waste (January, March, May, July, September and November) and even-numbered months for junk waste (February, April, June, August, October and December), but on the new heavy trash (tree waste/junk waste) pickup day designated for your neighborhood. Please note that collection day schedules for other Solid Waste services such as garbage, yard trimmings and recycling collection WILL NOT change.

The service date change aims to to achieve the following:

  • Less confusion with neighborhood collection schedules
  • A single service day for major community areas
  • Easier to read/interpret service maps for customers and 311 operators
  • Easier management of routes
  • Budget savings in fuel and maintenance
  • Greater availability for department support for community-based beautification projects

You will receive reminders by mail from the Solid Waste Management Department about your new heavy trash (tree waste/junk waste) pickup day. Remember, this change only affects your heavy trash (tree waste/junk waste) service day.

Thank you for your support as we continue to maximize your savings.

To see the improved service maps with your new neighborhood schedule collection date, visit www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/2012_heavytrashreroute.html. For questions contact Sandra Jackson at Sandra.jackson2@houstontx.gov.

To learn more about solid waste services and recycling in the City of Houston, visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org, www.greenhoustontx.gov, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwaste and on Twitter @houstontrash.


September is National Emergency Preparedness Month
Houston Hide From The Wind Website Update

As part of September's month-long focus on helping Houstonians be prepared for emergencies, including hurricanes, the City of Houston and a collaborative group of local governments across our region have updated the "Houston Hide From The Wind" website, www.HoustonHideFromTheWind.org.

This newly redesigned tool helps residents across an expanded 13 county region find out what the forecasted wind speed is for their area in the event of a storm. The map also shows residents whether or not an evacuation has been ordered for their zip code. When no storm is forecasted to impact the Houston area, the site shows information from a simulated storm for demonstration purposes.

The site's intent is to encourage residents who live outside of areas with a storm surge threat to make plans to shelter-in-place during hurricanes and tropical storms, freeing up evacuation routes for coastal residents with a higher level of threat from storm surge. Historical storm information is also available from Hurricane Ike and other storms.

For more information from the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management, visit www.houstonoem.net.

Houston Hide From The Wind Logo


City of Houston Bond and Charter Amendment Information

Houstonians are reminded to vote in the November election. It is a long ballot that includes five City of Houston bond referendums totaling $410 million and two proposed changes to the City Charter. Information about these initiatives is available at www.houstontx.gov/2012bondreferendum.html.


Houston Public Library 2012 Gulf Coast Reads

Gulf Coast Reads GraphicHouston Public Library (HPL) invites everyone to join 2012 Gulf Coast Reads, a citywide reading program in October. This year's book selection for Gulf Coast Reads is "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" by author Jonathan Safran Foer. This program brings our culturally diverse city together to read the same book at the same time. Throughout the month schools, local libraries, community groups, friends and neighbors will read together and discuss this poignant novel.

The featured event includes a student performance as well as a discussion with author Jonathan Safran Foer, on Saturday, October 27, noon - 4:30 p.m. at the Houston Public Library, Central Library, 500 McKinney, Houston 77002.

The 2012 Gulf Coast Reads program also includes film viewings, theatrical renditions from portions of the novel and other exciting events and activities throughout the month. All events are free and open to the public. For details visit www.gulfcoastreads.org or call 832.393.1313. To learn more about HPL, visit www.houstonlibrary.org.


Volunteer As an After School Mentor

Help students prepare for college and careers by volunteering with the After School Zones with the Graduation Game Plan mentor program, in which mentors help students explore college and career resources. The four-week program in October 2012 focuses on the students' goals, abilities and the endless possibilities of a good education. Mentors will meet starting in October, with a group of 3 - 5 students for an hour and thirty minutes once a week for four weeks.

  • Mentors will be provided with training and resource materials for their small group
  • Each student will create a personal plan that connects college and career resources to support academic and professional success
  • Mentors will share professional and academic experiences to guide students throughout the program
  • Mentors will help students identify a positive support network in their lives, while providing general support, motivation and encouragement

For a list of dates and locations for the "After School Zones with the Graduation Game Plan" mentor program, which is a partnership between the Department of Neighborhoods and Houston Public Library branches, visit www.houstonservice.org/pages/pages/80.

To volunteer as a mentor, visit www.houstonservice.org/pages/pages/80 and scroll down to the section How to Sign-up to be a Mentor. For more information contact Michael Webb with the Office of Education Initiatives (OEI) at Michael.Webb@houstontx.gov or 832.393.0856.

To learn more about the Department of Neighborhoods and OEI, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.


Free Childhood Immunizations This Fall

Fire Department LogoThe Houston Fire Department and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Care Van program are teaming up once again to provide free childhood immunizations to Houston area children from birth to 18 years of age. This is the perfect opportunity to get your children up to date on their immunizations. All children's vaccines will be provided, including the meningitis vaccine.

A parent or an adult guardian must accompany the child along with the child's current immunization records to any of the clinic locations between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. For a complete list of locations in English and Spanish, visit www.houstontx.gov/citizensnet/2012fallfreeimmunizationschedules.pdf.

For additional information visit www.houstonfire.org, www.carevan.org or contact Paul Box at paul.box@houstontx.gov or 832.394.6636.


Parking Improvements at Bush and Hobby Airports

The Houston Airport System (HAS) is always looking for ways to improve services and amenities at both George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and William P. Hobby (HOU) Airports. Customers have seen, and will continue to see, improvements at the parking facilities at both airports including, but not limited to:

Parking Ambassadors at Hobby and IAH
Using 11-passenger courtesy shuttles, Parking Ambassadors will pick up travelers in the parking garages at IAH and drive them and their luggage to the elevators. These same shuttles are used at the Hobby Airport ecopark 2 lot to take customers to/from the terminal. Ambassadors also help with loading and unloading luggage for senior citizens and parents traveling with small children, passengers who can't find their vehicles and calling for help to jump start dead car batteries.

SUDS Car Wash GraphicPortable Car Wash Now Available at IAH
IAH offers an environmentally safe car wash service at ecopark. SUDS Hand Car Wash cleans vehicles a few hours before customers return to Houston. Customers simply talk to the SUDS sales associate and make the appointment. SUDS uses a high-pressure nozzle that turns water into a near vapor, and only the exterior of the car is cleaned, so there is no need to leave your keys behind. SUDS is coming to HOU by the end of the year. For more information on SUDS, visit www.fly2houston.com/IAHSUDS.

Time-Saving Valet at IAH
IAH now offers valet parking that allows customers to drive into a reception area and drop off their keys. Customers must provide return flight information at check-in, to ensure that their vehicle will be waiting for them at the reception area as soon as they return to IAH. Valet is $25 a day, compared to $17 a day to park in the terminal garages. Valet parking will be introduced to HOU this fall. For more information on valet parking, visit www.fly2houston.com/IAHValetParking.

To learn more about HAS, visit www.fly2houston.com.


Community U 2012 Conference for Neighborhoods
Saturday, September 29

Community U GraphicAttend the Community U 2012 Conference on Saturday, September 29, 2012, 8 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. to learn about tools and resources for your community. Network with others and share ideas about how to improve your neighborhood.

Conference topics include:

  • Blighted lots and structures
  • Food deserts
  • Go-Neighborhoods initiative
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Grants: funding resources for your neighborhood
  • How to increase youth volunteerism

Register by Tuesday, September 25 at www.houstontx.gov/planning/Neighborhood/CommunityU-2012_info.html. The conference will take place at United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston 77007 (between Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive) map. The conference has a $5 fee per person and includes free parking. For more information email CommunityU@houstontx.gov or call 713.837.7701.


Report Allegations of Fraud, Waste and/or Abuse to the City of Houston

Fraud GraphicThe City of Houston Controller is committed to eliminating fraud, waste and abuse in City government, thereby protecting city assets and helping save taxpayer dollars. To help report activities that are allegedly committed by city employees or officials, citizens or business entities against the City of Houston, visit www.houstontx.gov/controller/audit/fraud.html or contact the Fraud Hotline at 832.393.3542.

  • Fraud
    Fraud is commonly defined as a type of illegal act involving the obtaining of something of value through willful misrepresentation1
  • Waste
    Waste is commonly referred to as mismanagement, inappropriate actions and/or inadequate safeguarding of resources
  • Abuse
    Abuse is commonly referred to as the intentional misuse or improper use of government resources

For more information or general questions about the City Controller's Audit Division, visit www.houstontx.gov/controller/audit or email the City Auditor at controlleraudit@houstontx.gov.

1 Fraud- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government Auditing Standards, 2011 Revisions


Wednesday City Hall Farmers Market is Open for Business
Serving the Best Local Lunch Items Downtown

The 2012 Fall City Hall Farmers Market is back in business. Every Wednesday from September 12 - December 19, 2012, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., rain or shine, the freshest local lunch items and produce are back in the heart of downtown Houston at City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002. Stop by and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and live music.

For more information, visit www.greenhoustontx.gov or follow GreenHoustonTX on Facebook and Twitter or contact Katelyn Orenchuk at Katelyn.orenchuk@houstontx.gov or 832.393.1066.

City Hall Farmer's Market Logo


Rain Barrel/Compost Bin One Day Sale
Saturday, October 13

Rain Barrel GraphicOn Saturday, October 13, 2012, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Houstonians can buy rain barrels for $55 (a $120 value) and compost machines for $45 (a $100 value) on a first come, first served basis at the Houston Permitting Center, 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston 77002. Parking is free.

Rain barrels are used to collect and contain groundwater from rooftops, which can be used for watering gardens and lawns. Rainwater conserves water, improves air quality and saves money. Compost bins are used to store and assist the decomposition of various materials to be used to fertilize garden soil. Composting enriches soil, deters erosion and contaminated soil, prevents pollution and saves money.

For more information on the rain barrels and compost bins visit www.norsemanplastics.com/products/norseman_rainbarrel_npl_315.html and http://earthmachine.com.

For additional information contact Katelyn Orenchuk at Katelyn.orenchuk@houstontx.gov or 832.393.1066. To learn more about Green Houston, visit www.greenhoustontx.gov.


BARC Continues Effort to Win the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100,000 Challenge and Save More Pet Lives

BARC LogoAs BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions continues its effort to reach 2,100 dog and cat adoptions to win the national ASPCA Rachael Ray $100,000 Challenge, the shelter is constantly developing new ways to build momentum and support across Houston. Every week through the end of the ASPCA $100K Challenge, BARC will release a video to update supporters on its progress toward reaching its goal to save more lives than ever. The videos allow supporters to meet a new member of BARC's team, view a different area of the shelter and learn about upcoming adoption events.

BARC is competing with 50 shelters across the nation in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge from August 1 - October 31, 2012 to save at least 300 more lives than their shelter saved between August and October, 2011. The shelter with the greatest increase in lives saved compared to their previous year's total will win the $100,000 grand prize grant. If BARC wins the competition, the shelter will use the $100,000 grant to purchase a Mobile Adoption Unit that would allow BARC to travel across the city for adoption events. BARC is the only shelter in Houston involved in this year's Challenge.

View the latest weekly update video and other recent BARC videos by visiting www.youtube.com/WeAreBarc. Be sure to visit www.houstonBARC.com and www.Facebook.com/BARCHouston to stay updated on BARC's latest news and upcoming events.

If you are unable to permanently adopt a pet but would like to help animals in need, BARC encourages you to consider becoming a volunteer or foster parent at BARC. Contact Taran Hutchins, BARC's Adoptions Coordinator at Taran.Hutchins@houstontx.gov with any questions.


October is Disabilities Awareness Month

Mayor's Office for People With Disabilities LogoThe Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, invites the public to the 4th Annual Disabilities Awareness Month Kick-off on Friday, October 5, 2012, at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center (MMSC), 1475 West Gray, Houston 77019. The event will feature keynote speaker Bill Klein from the "The Little Couple" reality show on TLC network and other exciting live entertainment.

Disability Awareness Month events include:

  • The National Disabilities Employment Awareness Job Fair on Thursday, October 11, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the MMSC
  • "Out of the Shades" Disabilities Awareness Fair at West Oaks Mall, 2600 Highway 6 South, Houston, 77082, Saturday, October 13, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • White Cane Safety Day March on Tuesday, October 23, at 10 a.m.; starts in front of the Nutrition Bar at 914 Main Street, Houston 77002 and ends at City Hall, 901 Bagby Street, Houston 77002, with the resource fair and celebration continuing until 1 p.m.

Numerous other events are scheduled throughout the month including special book displays, performances by The River, and sign language and Braille story times at the Houston Public Library. For more details about these and other scheduled events, visit www.houstontx.gov/disabilities or contact the MOPD at mopdmail@houstontx.gov or 713. 284.1990. To learn more about the Department of Neighborhoods, visit www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods.


HFD's Get Alarmed Houston Program Offers Smoke Detectors
Now Offering Free Visual Fire Alarms for the Deaf

Working smoke detectors save lives. It is just that simple. The Houston Fire Department (HFD) would like to remind you that having a working smoke detector in your home can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire. Have you tested yours lately?

HFD offers free smoke detectors to seniors, disabled and low-income residents. If you need a smoke detector, know someone who does or would like more information on the "Get Alarmed Houston!" program, visit www.houstonfire.org or call 832.394.6633.

HFD and the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) also offer free visual fire alarms to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. To qualify for a free visual fire alarm, you must:

  • Live in the City of Houston or in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area
  • Have a substantial hearing loss which requires the use of a visual fire alarm

To see if you qualify or for more information on the visual alarms for the deaf program in English, visit www.houstontx.gov/citizensnet/visualfirealarmsenglish.pdf, in Spanish visit www.houstontx.gov/citizensnet/visualfirealarmsspanish.pdf, or contact MOPD at mopdmail@houstontx.gov or 713.284.1990.


Celebrate My Drive: Encourage Safe Driving Habits
Saturday, September 15

On Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Houston Fire Department (HFD) in partnership with State Farm Insurance will host a Celebrate My Drive event, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray, Houston 77019. The event is designed to rally around new drivers and encourage safe driving habits.

The free event is open to all young student drivers and includes a Fatal Vision Obstacle Course with such activities as putting puzzle pieces together, hop-scotch, jumping rope and playing catch. Once the course has been completed, there will be peace officers onsite to put each teen through a field sobriety test. A Rollover Convincer, a distracted/impaired driving course (with pedal cars), will also be used to help encourage safe driving.

Getting a driver's license brings new joy and freedom, but the first year behind the wheel can be one of the most dangerous. In an effort to prevent tragic accidents, HFD is extending its "Texting Distracts" campaign to include other major causes of motor vehicle accidents. For more information visit www.houstonfire.org.


HPD Seeks Participants in Houston Citizens' Police Academy and
Youth Police Advisory Council

Police Department LogoHouston Citizens' Police Academy
The Houston Police Department (HPD) encourages citizens to enroll in the Houston Citizens' Police Academy to provide citizens with sound and accurate information about HPD and the criminal justice process to prepare them to make informed decisions when issues or matters involve the police department or police activity.

The ten week program is free to the public and begins Thursday, October 11 with an orientation and ends December 13 with graduation. The classes meet once a week on Thursdays from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. and most take place at the HPD Academy, 17000 Aldine Westfield Road, Houston 77070. Applicants must be 17 years of age by the application deadline, Thursday, September 27, 2012. For all of the details, visit www.houstontx.gov/police/vip/vip_hcpa.htm or call 713.308.3200.

Youth Police Advisory Council
HPD invites Houston area high school students to apply for the 2012 - 2013 Youth Police Advisory Council (YPAC) and interact with Chief of Police Charles A. McClelland, Jr. and other top HPD officials. Students will address issues affecting youth and the community, participate in community service projects and attend youth leadership conferences throughout the state.

YPAC members are required to meet five times during the school year at HPD Headquarters at 1200 Travis, Houston 77002. Applications are available online at www.houstontx.gov/police/vip/forms/Y-PAC-App.pdf. The deadline is Monday, October 1, 2012. For more information, visit www.houstontx.gov/police/vip/ypac.htm, email rhonda.holmes@cityofhouston.net or call 713.308.3200.

To learn more about HPD, visit www.houstonpolice.org.


Viewing Houston City Council Meetings

Per Houston City's Charter, City Council meets at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons and 9 a.m. on Wednesday mornings in the Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002. The Tuesday session is devoted to public comment. The Wednesday session is for consideration of actions that require Council approval.

These City Council meetings may be viewed live on Houston Television (HTV) and on the following cable providers: AT&T U-Verse (Channel 99), Comcast (Channel 16), Phonoscope (Channel 2), Suddenlink (Channel 14) and TV Max (Channel 16). City Council's Public Session replays Thursday nights at 7 p.m. and the Agenda Session replays on Fridays at 7 p.m. The complete City Council airs on Saturdays at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The meetings may also be viewed online at http://houstontx.city.swagit.com. The first tab allows one to watch live. The second tab will list all past sessions that are on file.

Note: The Council meeting calendar www.houstontx.gov/citysec/calendar.pdf indicates scheduled break weeks throughout the year and meetings that are consolidated due to holidays.

If you have questions about any of the items posted on the agenda, contact Agenda Director Marta Crinejo at marta.crinejo@houstontx.gov. To see a complete list of all meetings held in the City Council chambers, including meetings of Council committees and City commissions, visit www.houstontx.gov/citysec/calendar.html.


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Mailing Address:  City of Houston | P.O. Box 1562 | Houston, Texas 77251
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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Mike Sullivan • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green