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October 7, 2010

City of Houston E-Newsletter

Table of Contents

City Hall Farmers Market and Victory Garden
Mayor Annise Parker Wants Houstonians to Grow and Buy Local Fruits and Vegetables

City Hall Victory GardenThe City Hall Farmers Market officially opens for business on Wednesday, October 13, 2010, around the Reflection Pool, in front of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002. Managed by Urban Harvest, the weekly Wednesday market, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., will host over 40 vendors of local and organic fruits and vegetables, as well as locally prepared lunch items.

At the opening, local chefs, including Randy Evans from Haven Restaurant, Monica Pope from t’afia Restaurant and Chris Shepherd from Catalan Food and Wine will join public officials to promote nutrition, health, sustainability and the importance and affordability of local, organic produce.

For more information please visit or follow Green Houston TX on Facebook and Twitter

The City Hall Victory Gardens, modeled after gardens popularized by former United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II to promote local food production, are another part of the city's local food initiative to encourage the building of vegetable and rain gardens throughout Houston. The vegetable container gardens join the 30 container gardens outside the 611 Walker Bob Lanier Public Works Building, to make downtown a vegetable garden destination, and demonstrating how easy and affordable it can be to build a vegetable container garden anywhere in Houston. Check out how easy it is to build your own container vegetable garden and save money at

ONE DAY SALE: Half Price Rain Barrels and Compost Machines
Saturday, October 16, 2010

Compost Bin GraphicOn Saturday, October 16, 2010, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Houstonians can buy rain barrels for $55 (a $120 value) and compost machines for $45 (a $100 value) at Minute Maid Park, Parking Lot “C” corner of Texas and St. Emanuel, 77003 or Northwest Station Park & Ride, 18502 Hempstead Highway, (south of West Road at Castlebridge), 77065.

Free parking at both locations.

Rain barrels offer savings in your water bill. One inch of rain can accumulate up to 600 gallons of rainwater.

Rain Barrel GraphicAnd you can turn your rain barrel into art. Find out more at

Compost machines not only are beneficial for your yard, but help divert organic waste from landfills.

For more information, see


Houston Green Office Challenge -- Sign Up Today:

Houston Green Office ChallengeIf you work in an office building in Houston, we want you to sign up for the City of Houston’s first annual Green Office Challenge. The Challenge invites commercial office owners/managers and tenants in Houston’s business districts to increase their environmental and economic performance in cleaner transportation choices, energy conservation, property management/tenant engagement, water efficiency and waste reduction.The Houston-wide challenge will bring local, state and national sustainability experts together with businesses and properties to learn and engage in both introductory and high performance green building practices through free workshops and training.

Registration for the yearlong Houston Green Office Challenge is open now. For more information and to register, visit or Or follow the Houston Green Office Challenge on Facebook and Twitter

BARC Exciting Events and Volunteer Opportunities

Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care LogoThe City of Houston BARC, Animal Shelter & Adoptions has several exciting events and volunteer opportunities for Houston residents to lend a hand to homeless animals. BARC benefits greatly from the selfless dedication of a volunteer team. Additional volunteers are always needed to help increase the number of BARC animals that find new homes.

BARC animals are taken to five off-site adoption events each weekend, in addition to periodic special events. Individuals are needed to drive animals to and from these events, which will allow us to increase the number of animals we are able to feature in the highly visible Houston locations. BARC is also looking for adoption counselors to help match potential adopters with the perfect BARC animal. Interested individuals may visit BARC’s volunteer web page at

The BARC facility, 3200 Carr, 77026, will host the First Annual Animal Blessings on Saturday, October 30, 2010, from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. The blessings will begin at 2:30 p.m., and Houston residents are encouraged to bring their personal animal companions. Friends of BARC will be offering the best complimentary hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks, as they do every weekend as part of their Wags to Whiskers adoption event held at the BARC facility.

For BARC facility location and hours, off-site adoption event locations and maps, and up-to-date shelter information, visit or on Facebook at

October is Fire Prevention Month: "Stay Fire Smart"

Fire Department LogoWorking Smoke Detectors Save Lives...Test Yours Today!
The Houston Fire Department (HFD) encourages everyone to look around your home for potential fire hazards and to install or check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - possibly the most inexpensive, yet most important, security device you can install in your home. If you need a new smoke detector or assistance with installation, please call the HFD Public Affairs Office at 713.495.7900.

Do You Have A Fire Escape Plan?
HFD stresses the importance of having a fire escape plan in place and practicing that plan every month with your family. Every escape plan should include two ways out of each room and the home, a safe meeting place outside the home, a way to call 9-1-1 and what to tell the operator. REMEMBER: When You Get Out...Stay Out!

Cooler Months Are Ahead. Remember: Space Heaters Need Space
It is important to remember that there are dangers involved when you use space heaters and other means to heat your home. Please consult safety tips at heater card.pdf.

For more information on smoke detectors (including how you can receive a free detector), fire escape plans, safety tips on space heaters and more, please visit

Help Keep Our Kids Safe This Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, the Houston Police Department (HPD) wants to remind parents of some do's and don'ts of personal safety when you take your little goblins out trick-or-treating.

The safest way to celebrate Halloween is to participate in an organized event coordinated by a local school or place of worship. For those who still want to observe the holiday in the traditional manner, the HPD suggests following these tips:

  • Children should wear light-colored costumes short enough to prevent tripping. Reflective tape can be added to enhance visibility.
  • Your child should be able to see properly through a mask.
  • Children should be accompanied by an adult at all times, should stay within their neighborhood and only visit homes of people they know.
  • Carry a flashlight after sunset.
  • Examine all candy or treats at home before allowing your child to eat them. If any candy appears to be tampered with, throw it away.
  • Keep your costumed children away from pets since the animals might panic and not recognize the child.

Remember, we owe it to our children to help keep them safe. See for more information.

Houston Financial Planning Day
Saturday, October 23, 2010

Join the City of Houston for the first ever “Houston Financial Planning Day”, on Saturday, October 23, 2010. This free event will offer educational workshops on budgeting, social security basics, smarter investing and estate planning - just to name a few. The Financial Planning Association will provide private consultations from Certified Financial Planners at no cost. The event is open to the public and people of all ages.

Houston Financial Planning Day will be held at Texas Southern University Barbara Jordan - Mickey Leeland School of Public Affairs, 3100 Cleburne Street, 77004 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. View more information about Houston Financial Planning Day (.pdf).

This event is part of the Bank on Houston initiative which offers free financial education classes. To learn more about Bank on Houston, visit

More Money @ Your Library® Program Series Offers FREE Bilingual Financial Education Classes

The Houston Public Library’s (HPL) free financial literacy program “More Money @ Your Library®” has launched its classes and online resources. HPL is working with the Women’s Resource of Greater Houston, University of Houston Human Development and Consumer Science Department, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) and Money Management International to provide FREE bilingual financial education classes to English and Spanish-speaking families. This program will provide access to workshops and resources to help Houstonians take charge of their finances.

HPL and its community partners are offering classes and online resources for all ages, including children and teens. Class topics include choosing a banking institution, borrowing basics, starting a small business, how to budget, reading a credit report and improving your credit score, first time homebuyers, setting long-term financial goals and much more.

All Houstonians are encouraged to take advantage of the classes offered through each series at HPL locations. Classes are free, on a first-come first-served basis, and will be held October 2010, January 2011, April 2011 and October 2011.

For more information about HPL services, see For a complete list of More Money @ Your Library® classes and programs, visit Online resources are also available at

More Money at Your Library

Jones Plaza LIVE!
Begins Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. with Cast of Shrek the Musical

Jones Plaza Live Logo“Jones Plaza LIVE!” is a new fall series of free daily outdoor performances in downtown Houston’s Jones Plaza, 601 Louisiana, 77002. Jones Plaza features all new décor, the addition of food trucks and it is an exciting and entertaining spot to grab lunch with friends or dinner before a theater performance.

Beginning October 20 through November 24, 2010, entertainment is scheduled:

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Wednesday - Friday)
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Weekends)
 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.  (Wednesday - Sunday)

Food trucks, beverage bars and ambient music will remain on the plaza 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Check for the full performance schedule.

Houston Salutes America's Heroes Veterans Day Parade
Join Us Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Parade LogoOn Thursday, November 11, 2010, the City of Houston will show support for our Armed Forces as we celebrate the 12th Annual Houston Salutes American Heroes Veterans Day Commemoration and Parade.

The ceremony begins at 10:00 a.m. on the steps of City Hall, 901 Bagby, 77002. The American Heroes Parade will follow at 11:30 a.m. and travel down Smith Street between Texas and Lamar. The AT&T Veterans Job Fair will be from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at City Hall where top companies will be recruiting.

Free parking will be available from 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Theater District Parking Garage courtesy of City of Houston Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department. Enter the parking garage on Rusk between Bagby and Smith. For more information, visit

Citizenship Week November 15-21, 2010

Citizenship WeekMayor Annise Parker and the Citizenship Week Steering Committee invite Houstonians to celebrate the City of Houston’s Second Annual Citizenship Week November 15-21, 2010.

Citizenship Week is a series of community-sponsored events and programs designed to encourage and enhance citizenship and civic engagement while celebrating Houston’s diversity. The weeklong initiative underscores how the traditions and values of the city’s ethnic and immigrant communities promote social cohesion and build more secure and vibrant neighborhoods.

For more information about Citizenship Week, visit, or contact Russell Etherton, Citizenship Week Program Coordinator, at 832.393.0939 (Direct), 832.393.0962 (Fax) or by e-mail at

Houston Police Department Reaches Out to Victims of Domestic Violence
Community Invited to Two Events

Houston Police Department (HPD) Family Violence Summit
Saturday, October 16, 2010, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., River Oaks Crown Plaza Hotel, 2712 Southwest Freeway, 77098.

The summit will be a roundtable discussion with representatives from Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, HPD Family Violence Unit, HPD Victim Services Unit, Harris County District Attorney's Office and the Houston Area Women's Center.

"One Voice" Against Family Violence Event
Saturday, October 23, 2010, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Hillcroft between Harwin and Southwest Freeway Service Road

HPD is hosting its 4th Annual "One Voice" Against Family Violence event, in partnership with the DAYA Center: Serving South Asian Families, to draw attention to the issue of family violence. People will join hands to form a human chain just like hundreds did who participated in last year's event.

To learn more about how HPD can help those involved in family violence situations, see For more information, visit


Bush Intercontinental Airport Taxiway Project

Airport ConstructionA $15 million construction project is now underway at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). The work began on September 8 and is set to be completed May 8, 2012.

The airfield improvements are funded by the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program.

The taxiways were originally built 45 years ago and designed at a time when the largest aircraft at IAH was the Boeing 727-100 aircraft. IAH will eventually welcome the world's newest jets, such as the Boeing 787 – Dreamliner and the Airbus 380.

Airport taxiways typically have a 20-year design life, but the new upgraded taxiways will have a new overlay that is expected to add 30 years to their life. New taxiway centerline lights for surface movement guidance control systems and runway status lights will be installed during the project.

For more information about the Houston Airport System, visit

City of Houston Municipal Courts Department Unifies

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and City Council recently amended the Code of Ordinances to combine the former Municipal Courts Judicial and Municipal Courts Administration Departments into one unified department, the Municipal Courts Department. The newly combined department is led by The Honorable Barbara E. Hartle. Court services have been unaffected by the merger, and all six Houston court locations continue to operate under the current scheduling. For more information, see

Notice of Public Hearings on Hurricane Ike/Dolly Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant Funds

The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) will apply for Round II of Hurricane Ike/Dolly Disaster Recovery Funds made available for rehabilitation or reconstruction of rental and single family housing.

HCDD has scheduled two fall public hearings to solicit the public’s input in the development of the application for a second round of Hurricane Ike/Dolly Disaster Recovery Funds. The first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, 4014 Market, 77020. The second hearing will be Thursday, October 28, 2010, at 7 p.m. at the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington, 77051.

If special arrangements are needed or for more information on the public hearings, contact Andrea Roberts or 713.865.9314 or Andrea Jones or 713.868.8439.

Notice of Public Hearings on the 2011 Consolidated Action Plan

The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) has initiated work on the 2011 Consolidated Action Plan. The Consolidated Action Plan is a progress update to the comprehensive assessment of community development needs included in the 2010 Consolidated Plan.

HCDD has scheduled two fall public hearings to solicit the public’s input in the development of the 2011 Plan. The first fall hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, 4014 Market, 77020. The second fall hearing will be Thursday, October 28, 2010, at 8 p.m. at the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington, 77051.

At the public hearings, HCDD will 1) publicize the schedule for development of the Consolidated Action Plan, 2) provide information about current projects and application processes, and 3) discuss other federally funded neighborhood revitalization initiatives. To see the 2010 Consolidated Plan and Action Plan, visit:

If special arrangements are needed or for more information on the public hearings, contact Andrea Roberts or 713.865.9314 or Andrea Jones or 713.868.8439.