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  December 17, 2012

City of Houston Holiday E-Newsletter

Table of Contents

Holiday Greeting from Mayor Annise Parker


During the holiday season, we reflect on the events and memories that have made an impact on our lives over the past year. Unfortunately, this year we are once again forced to reflect on the evil that resides with us in this world. My heart goes out to Newtown, Connecticut and the families mourning the loss of loved ones taken from them by this senseless act.

On a more positive note, 2012 was a successful year for Houston. We were the first city to emerge from the nation's recession, restoring jobs lost and adding even more along the way. Houston has been named the Coolest City in the nation by Forbes magazine and we're continuing to gain national attention as a destination city. I'm very thankful for these accomplishments and anxious for more positive news in 2013. May the New Year bring peace, prosperity, joy and appreciation for all Houstonians. From the City of Houston and its employees, and from my family to yours, happy holidays and have a prosperous new year.

Mayor Annise Parker

New Year's Eve Houston

New Year's Eve HoustonRing in 2013 at New Year's Eve Houston with Grammy® Award winner KC and the Sunshine Band. The free family-friendly event will take place on December 31 from 7 p.m. - 12:15 a.m. in Discovery Green Park located at 1500 McKinney, Houston 77010, across from the George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, Houston 77010.

Don't miss the GlowParade by Art Cars of Houston at 8 p.m. and a special Kids Confetti Countdown at 9 p.m. Dance to the sounds of Houston's finest DJs who will spin from atop lighted towers above the crowd. Hang out in the swanky outdoor lounge with electric go-go and hip-hop dancers at Club New Year's Eve Houston. Keep the party hopping on the lighted dance floor or get a free photo taken with projected images for all to see.

Chill out on the ICE at Discovery Green. Be enthralled by professional skater and Champions of Ice performer Dan Hollander accompanied by local skaters Sasha and Roman Zaretsky, sibling pair skaters, who competed at the Olympics and World Championships. Also enjoy Olympic hopefuls Emily Chan and Nina Jiang. Public skating will be available between performance times, which will be posted on when available.

Other attractions include a Bubble Garden and Silent Disco area, The Kids Soul Train and Family Disco, three diverse food courts with delicious, cultural cuisines and holiday beverages. Enjoy a Prosperity Plate of traditional good luck food to bring happiness and success in 2013.

At the stroke of midnight, the crowd will be mesmerized by awesome lighting and video displays, complete with dazzling fireworks by Houston First.

This event is sponsored by Mayor Annise Parker, City of Houston, Houston First, the Houston Downtown Management District and Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and is produced by the Mayor's Office of Special Events. For more details, visit

Houston Public Library Holiday Schedule
Closed December 22 - December 26, 2012 at noon

Houston Public LibraryHouston Public Library (HPL) will be closed Saturday, December 22 - Tuesday, December 25, 2012, and will reopen at noon on Wednesday, December 26, 2012. The website, catalog and customer accounts will be unavailable during this period. We apologize for the inconvenience. The holiday closure will be used to replace a critical component of the electrical distribution equipment.

Important Information about the Closure

For questions about this closure, contact HPL via or call 832-393-1313. To learn more about HPL, visit

HPD Encourages Everyone to Have a Safe Holiday

Houston Police DepartmentThe Houston Police Department (HPD) wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday season and encourages you to remember a few simple tips that will help you and your families stay safe, especially during this holiday season.

While Shopping

  • Stay alert to your surroundings
  • Don't walk and talk on your cell phone
  • Only carry what cards and cash are necessary
  • Make sure you secure your belongings in your car, out of sight
  • Keep your purse nearby at all times

Protect Your Personal Data

  • Be wary of who you provide your personal information to and watch for credit card skimming devices
  • Watch your bank and credit card statements closely and report any inconsistencies immediately

At Home

  • Remember to keep the outside well lighted, doors locked and curtains closed
  • If you are traveling out of town during the holidays, have a neighbor watch your house and put your lights on a timer
  • And while it might be tempting to display your tree in the window for everyone to see, it is best to keep your tree and gifts where onlookers cannot see

When it is Time to Clean Up

  • After the gifts have been unwrapped and the holiday meals have been eaten, remember not to advertise what gifts were received
  • Destroy the boxes or place them in sealed garbage bags before you set them out for garbage/recycling collection. (See Green Holiday Ideas story below for more information on recycling)

For more information on holiday safety tips, visit or contact the HPD Public Affairs Office at 713.308.3200 to speak with a crime prevention specialist. To learn more about HPD, visit

HFD Offers Heating Safety Tips

Houston Fire DepartmentThe Houston Fire Department (HFD) urges citizens to be careful and follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters, fireplaces and other supplemental heating sources.

Heating devices cause more than 100 fires in the City of Houston each year, resulting in numerous injuries and possible death. Citizens should always keep in mind that Space Heaters Need Space and make sure you have a working smoke alarm. Remember that all heating units need space.

Vented Space Heaters, Vented Gas/Fired Heating Appliances Tips

  • Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heaters. Children can knock over space heaters, particularly if the space heaters are placed on top of wobbly tables or stools and/or near where the children play. Children may stick paper or toys in the grates of the space heaters, especially gas space heaters, all of which is very dangerous
  • Keep all combustible materials, such as curtains, table cloths, wrapping paper, including yourself, at least 3 feet from the space heater
  • Open-faced heaters should have a screen
  • Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Have your heaters inspected annually by a qualified service technician. Don't wait for cold weather!
  • Do not use exhaust vents made out of metal or without proper vent pipes. Vent pipes must exhaust to the outside!
  • If your flame is not blue, it is not burning properly. It is producing carbon monoxide which can't be seen, smelled or tasted. Turn it off. (See below for more specific information on carbon monoxide)
  • Use flexible metal tubing with threaded ends to connect the heater to the gas valve. There should be a cutoff valve for the heater at the wall. Never use a rubber hose to connect a space heater to the gas valve!
  • Use soapy water to check all connections and valves for leaks. NEVER use a match to test for a gas leak!
  • Look for the American Gas Association label and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper usage

Electric Heaters Tips

  • Never overload outlets or breakers
  • Do not use extension cords for heaters. If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it!
  • Electric heaters permanently installed in the wall or ceiling should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and dust will burn!

Fireplace Safety from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA)
According to the NFPA, while fireplaces often conjure up images of warmth and comfort, they also represent a source of home heating fires. Creosote - a sticky, oily, combustible substance created when wood does not burn completely - rises into the chimney as a liquid and deposits on the chimney walls. Creosote deposits play a role in nearly one-fourth (23%) of all home heating fires each year.

  • Just like a space heater, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from a fireplace, and create a three foot "kid-free zone" around open fires
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room
  • Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present
  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container and kept at a safe distance from your home
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room
  • Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present
  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container and kept at a safe distance from your home

Know the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO), produced during the incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood, kerosene and coal, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that kills hundreds and injures thousands of people each year. Be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning and what you can do to avoid it as you are heating your home, idling your vehicle, using the fireplace or even cooking your dinner.

The danger increases more during the winter months as heaters are used more frequently and fresh air ventilation is minimized by closed windows.

  • Install a CO detector in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home, especially if you use a gas or a fireplace to heat your home
  • Have your furnace professionally inspected every year and checked for CO emissions
  • Check your CO detector every month by pressing the test button
  • Replace the detector every 5 years
  • Warming up automobiles in an attached garage, even with the garage door open, can allow concentrated amounts of CO to enter your house through nearby windows or carport door
  • When inhaled, carbon monoxide is absorbed into the bloodstream 200 times as fast as oxygen
  • If your CO alarm sounds, ventilate the house with fresh air by opening windows and doors , immediately turn off all appliances and other sources of combustion, get fresh air into the property by opening doors and windows and exit the premises. Be sure to do a head count to ensure all persons are accounted for, then call a qualified technician for an inspection and approval to restart appliances. Do not re-enter the building until the problem has been corrected and the home has been properly aired out
  • Depending on age and amount of exposure to CO, persons can experience disorientation, dizziness, headaches, fatigue and/or nausea that are often mistaken for the flu. Call 9-1-1 and move to a location with fresh air

For more safety tips or to request a fire truck visit, speaker, station tour and more, visit or call the HFD Public Affairs Office at 832.394.6633.

Free Visual Alarms Available for
Persons Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Mayor's Office for People with DisabilitiesThe Houston Fire Department (HFD) and Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) continue to offer free visual fire alarms to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). To qualify, individuals must be deaf or hard of hearing and live in the City of Houston or in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. To register for the free visual alarms, contact MOPD at or 713.284.1990 or call HFD at 832.394.6700.

For more information about HFD, visit For more information about MOPD, visit

During this Holiday Season, Make the Commitment to Recycle
Holiday Trash and Recycling Schedules

The City of Houston encourages citizens to recycle during the holiday season as well as all year round. The Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) has several locations to drop off holiday recycling such as Christmas trees, electronics and holiday wrappings. In addition, styrofoam blocks can be recycled at the Westpark Recycling Center, 5900 Westpark, Houston 77057 or the Environmental Service Center South, 11500 South Post Oak Road, Houston 77035.

Holiday Trash and Recyling Schedules
To see both the SWMD holiday trash and recycling schedules, visit

Christmas Tree Recycling
For the 22nd year, the City of Houston is providing special recycling drop-off sites throughout Houston from December 27, 2012 - January 8, 2013. All drop-off sites will be closed on New Year's Day. For more information visit or call

E-Recycling Partnership
CompuCycle LogoIn addition to the Westpark Recycling Center and the Environmental Service Centers, the City of Houston now partners with CompuCycle to accept e-recyclables CompuCycle's permanent location in Spring Branch, 7700 Kempwood Drive, Houston 77055, Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Due to the holidays, each of the locations will be closed December 24, 25 and 31, 2012 and January 1, 2013.

The CompuCycle location is also a drop off for common household recyclables such as aluminum, glass, paper and plastics. Monthly weekend drop off site events are also held at select locations. For more information call 713.869.6700 or toll-free 1.888.314.7922 or visit

Free Paint
The City of Houston's Environmental Service Center South offers free paint to give your home a fresh look for the new year. Located at 11500 South Post Oak Road, Houston 77035, the Center is open for paint distribution on Fridays (except if the Friday falls on or near a holiday) from 9 a.m. - noon. First come, first served. For more information visit or call 3-1-1.

Tree Waste/Junk Waste Program
Remember your Odds and Evens. SWMD collects tree waste only in the ODD numbered months of January, March, May, July, September and November. Tree Waste is clean wood waste such as tree limbs, branches and stumps.

Junk waste is collected in the EVEN numbered months of February, April, June, August, October and December and is defined as lumber, furniture, appliances with the freon removed and other bulk items.

For more information on recycling all year round, visit and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability at For more information about SWMD visit,

Green Holiday Ideas

Green Building Resource Center

The City of Houston Green Building Resource Center (GRBC) offers several holiday and gift ideas that will last throughout the year and reminds everyone to recycle holiday packaging and trees.

Decorations and Gift Ideas

  • In addition to reusable family traditions, try making clever items from common disposable materials to give it a personal touch
  • Considering last year's drought, as we enter into the rainy season, you might consider a rain barrel as a gift. It's the gift that keeps on giving year round to use rainwater for your plants. The GBRC has five different types on display, including a Do-It-Yourself model for with construction instructions
  • From download Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit to investigate ways to save energy at your house, which could be the gift that keeps on giving
  • A fantastic book for middle school students on up is Cradle to Cradle; Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

For more information on recycling all year round, visit the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department at and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability at

2013 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon
More than 25,000 Runners to Participate on Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chevron Houston MarathonEvery year, thousands of people come to Houston to participate in and to be part of the special events for the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Join the City of Houston and cheer on world class runners from many locations as they compete for the best time.

The City will close some streets along the 26.2-mile marathon route. This will include many streets downtown - near the start and finish lines and in the following neighborhoods:

  • Montrose
  • Greater Uptown (Tanglewood and Galleria areas)
  • Greenway Area
  • University Place (near Rice University)
  • Medical Center Area
  • Houston Heights
  • Northside

Visit the following links for a map of the Marathon route, a list of street closures and activities during the race. Learn more at

Save the Date: Get Up Close and Personal with
Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr.
Saturday, January 26, 2013

Houstonians will have the opportunity to meet with Houston Police Department (HPD) Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. at HPD's Police and Clergy Alliance (PACA) Town Hall meeting, Saturday, January 26, 2013, from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Lakewood Church, 3700 Southwest Freeway, Houston 77027.

This gathering is open to the public and is an opportunity for attendees to get up close and personal with Chief McClelland, as well as members of the HPD Command Staff, to voice concerns on how to strengthen police/community relationships. HPD captains from all patrol stations and members of various HPD divisions including Homicide, Internal Affairs and Juvenile will also meet with the public.

PACA allows local clergy volunteers in partnership with HPD to provide valuable services and resources. These include providing support to victims and family members, participating in ride-alongs, mentoring at-risk students in schools and apartment complexes and assisting with disaster relief efforts and other significant events occurring within the city limits of Houston.

Free parking will be provided at Lakewood Church, as will accommodations for the hearing-impaired and language translation devices. For more information and requirements on becoming a member of PACA, visit the HPD Volunteer Initiatives page at or call the HPD Public Affairs Office at 713.308.3200. To learn more about HPD, visit

BARC Paving the Way to More Pet Adoptions

BARC LogoPaw Prints Lead Potential Adopters to BARC
At the recommendation of Houston Mayor Annise Parker and thanks to the donation of Ennis-Flint Traffic Safety Solutions, there is now a new and innovative tool to lead potential adopters to the perfect pet, giant paw prints leading the way to the BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions at 3200 Carr Street, Houston 77026. The paw prints on the pavement begin on the West side of Highway 59 on Collingsworth Street and continue all the way to BARC on Carr Street. The prints end with a large imprint of BARC's logo just outside the entry gates of BARC's animal shelter.

ASPCA Rachael Ray $100,000 Challenge Final Report
BARC successfully completed the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Rachael Ray $100K Challenge with 2,868 animals saved between August and October 2012. BARC finished 20th in overall rankings and SECOND in total pets saved through adoptions, transfers to rescue groups that resulted in adoptions, Returns to Owner and the Trap-Neuter-Return program. BARC also received a $5,000 grant for completing the Challenge successfully and a $2,000 grant for the ASPCA Challenge photo contest finalist who adopted from BARC.

Come to BARC today and get a holiday gift card that can go toward an adoption, a pet city license, BARC's pet wellness clinic and more. Invite a shelter pet into your home before the New Year! If you are unable to permanently adopt a pet, BARC encourages you to become a volunteer or foster at BARC.

Visit, and to stay updated on BARC's latest news and upcoming events. Contact Taran Hutchins, BARC's Adoptions Coordinator, at with any questions.

Houston Public Library Offers E-books for Electronic Readers and Computer Classes for Seniors

Electronic Readers
Houston Public Library and its partners, EBSCOnet E-books, Gale Virtual Reference Library, OneClickdigital and Overdrive, are excited to offer downloadable e-books, audiobooks and videos to its customers who have a valid Library card in good standing and a compatible device. HPL offers everything from business and language learning to the latest mysteries and romances.

For more information on compatible devices, how to access the downloadable collection and other related questions, visit or call 832.393.1313. For additional help with HPL e-books, visit E-Books for Texans at

Computer Classes for Seniors
HPL is offering free computer classes specifically for seniors in libraries throughout Houston. Classes offered include Computer Basics, Internet Basics, Introduction to Microsoft Word, Introduction to Excel and Introduction to Power Point and Windows Basics.

The Gates Foundation recently featured the HPL digital literacy program for seniors in a video as part of a series spotlighting library best practices. View the video at and experience how seniors are becoming empowered and are embracing the life changing services offered by the Library. Community members can find more information about classes such as the Fifty-Plus Computer Club (featured in the video) at or by calling 832.393.1313.

Houston Public Library Presents a Concert with Reggie Quinerly
Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 2 p.m., the Houston Public Library will present a concert with Reggie Quinerly at the African American Library, at the Gregory School, 1300 Victor Street, Houston 77019. Originally from Houston, Mr. Quinerly began playing the drums at an early age. As an educator and clinician, he has toured the United States, Austria, France, Italy and Spain. Mr. Quinerly was also among the performers of bassist Christian McBride's New York premiere of the "The Movement Revisited" suite.

For more information visit or call 832.393.1440. To learn more about HPL, visit

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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