Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
A chatter of voices laughed as people marveled at the smartphones in their hands. Senior citizens at the AT&T Reconnect Tour leaned over to see each other phone screens at the mobile technology education workshop for seniors, pointing to the phone’s different features.
The group of about 100 was learning how to check the weather and preset their phones to show them forecasts for different locations.
“Okay, I know the weather is fun, but let’s try something else,” Naomi Dean, host of the workshop, told attendees on Nov. 20 at the Heritage Senior Center.
The AT&T Reconnect Tour stopped in Irving as part of its journey through 15 cities across the country. The Tour, in partnership with smartphone maker Pantech, is meant to teach technology newcomers to the fast-changing world of mobile communication, including smartphones, tablets and apps.
“Mobile technology has really changed the way we communicate with friends and family and many of us have come to rely on these tools to stay connected,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president – Devices, AT&T. “By teaming up with Pantech on the AT&T Reconnect Tour, we hope to help these tech newcomers feel more comfortable with technology and show them new ways that it can make their lives easier.”
The Irving group was divided into smaller clusters of about 10 people with each small group having an AT&T technician to help them navigate their phones. Among other things, the group learned how to place a phone call, take a photo and send text messages by typing and through voice command.
“It looks like we’re getting the hang of the keyboard,” Dean said. “Let’s look at some common text messaging abbreviations.”
Dean walked the group through the shortened phrases, stopping at “Lol.”
“You normally write this when there’s a joke or something’s funny,” she said. “You’re not really laughing out loud.”
But attendees were laughing in good humor as they accidentally sent texts to wrong numbers and took pictures of Styrofoam cups.
“Personally, we have a smartphone, but there’s a knowledge gap there,” participant Jan Killen said. “I just thought it was a good opportunity to learn.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 November 2012 19:24
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
Imagine a commuter rail corridor extending from west Ft. Worth to Plano, winding through several cities with a transfer station at DFW International airport. Along its 62 mile service, the commuter train would also connect with The T (Fort Worth Transportation Authority), DART’s (Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s) Green, Red and Orange Lines, as well as DCTA’s (Denton County Transportation Authority’s) A Train.
If you have enough time to wait, you will not have to imagine this regional rail service. With the support of all three transit authorities, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and possibly the federal government, the first seven mile stretch of the corridor from Carrollton to DFW Airport should be open to daily commuter traffic sometime around 2040. Fortunately for the region with its expanding population and congested highways, representatives of the transit authorities and NCTCOG are not content to wait that long.
The Board Chairs and Presidents of DART, The T and DCTA signed a Tri-Party Passenger Rail Alliance on Nov. 16 to formalize their commitment to working together in order to expand mass transit options in the region.
“Today is exciting from the standpoint that the three transit authorities are recommitting to continue to work together to promote transit throughout the North Texas area,” said Garry Thomas, President, Executive Director of DART. “We work to give people choices throughout our region, so they can get out of their cars. We know what they are going to do if we don’t give them a choice.
“DART has the longest light rail system in the United States. DART also has the TRE, which we jointly operate with The T in Ft. Worth. In addition, we have a cooperative agreement with DCTA on the A Train, which meets our Green Line at Trinity Mills. So we all work very closely together to make sure the customers don’t realize that it is one agency or the other. At the end of the day, all they really care about is being able to get from point A to point B safely, physically and effectively.
“There is a lot of conversation in our region right now about the 62 mile Cotton Belt Corridor that goes from south west Ft. Worth, through downtown, across the north side of the DFW Airport, through Carrollton and over to the Red Line between Plano and Richardson.
“The T is working on the western side. They are going through a full funding grant process with the Federal Transit Administration to try to receive funding. DART continues to work with the private sector on a public/private partnership to develop innovative ways to finance this project and move it forward.
“Currently, on the eastern side of the region, the Cotton Belt Corridor is scheduled for passenger rail in 2040. A lot of people would like to figure out how to advance that date to 2016. On the western side, The T is looking at a 2016 revenue service date, but that is predicated on the federal funding.”
Looking to the future, John Danish, DART Board Chair, predicts commuter and passenger rail travel will extend throughout Texas.
“I believe this alliance is potentially the next major step in a whole new era of passenger rail transit for the North Texas region, which is an area that extends across 16 counties,” Danish said. “The Dallas-Ft. Worth region is the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area, and it is consistently ranked as the fastest growing. In the next 20 years, our region is expected to reach nine million in population. It is also one of the most sprawling, covering an area roughly seven times the state of Rhode Island.
“People from throughout the region are clamoring for transit. Competition for transit projects is much greater these days, and the federal purse-strings are much tighter. Our Tri-Party Passenger Rail Alliance is in a position to further multi-modal transportation in our region. Increasing the scope of transit and having it blend seamlessly with road travel, passenger rail, air traffic and other modes is not just desirable. It is a vital objective.
“Sometime in the future, the near future we hope, you can add the Cotton Belt to that mix. Sometime after that, I envision the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line being developed for passenger rail, extending from south Irving through downtown Carrollton and on to Frisco. Eventually, it could even reach the Red River. And beyond that, a passenger rail network extending to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Oklahoma, Shreveport and the Rio Grande Valley.”
The Cotton Belt Corridor could provide unique transportation options to the traveling public, according to Jim Cline, President of DCTA.
“The Cotton Belt passenger route would be very significant in that it would provide a circumvential that doesn’t just go north and south, or into and out of the regular routes downtown,” Cline said. “It would provide a tie across the service area. It is a focal point for all three agencies.
“DCTA is proud to be a part of this. We’ve been working together for several years, running trains and dispatching. We are continuing to build those relationships and strengthen them.”
Money and construction would be necessary to make the proposed commuter line a reality, according to Richard Green, Vice President of the Fort Worth & Western Railroad Company.
“The infrastructure of the track will have to be upgraded,” Green said. “The Cotton Belt Corridor is currently class two railroad which is rated for 25 miles per hour (mph.) They are going to want to run 60 mph commuter trains on this line. It will need new ties and rail. On the Ft. Worth side, it would probably cost $700 million for 34 miles of railroad. So overall, it is probably a billion dollar project in today’s dollars.
“I think this is a great project that will really enhance the Metroplex. Opening this track to commuter trains will be a good thing for both Tarrant and Dallas Counties. The master plan is pretty solid.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 November 2012 19:21
Written by Phil Cerroni
On Nov. 17, just after noon, the Irving Police Department responded to the 3900 block of Grimes Rd. for a report of a shooting.
When officers arrived, they located an adult female who was suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. The female was in the front yard area of her home and told officers that she had been shot by her husband, who was still inside their residence. Officers attempted to make contact with her husband; however, he would not respond.
Officers learned that there was another family member inside the house with the husband, but it was unclear if they were being held against their will.
Officers established a perimeter and the tactical team and negotiators were called to the scene. Once the tactical team and negotiators arrived, numerous attempts to contact the suspect were made using a loudspeaker. The suspect did not respond; however, the other family member who was inside the residence heard the commands and came out of the house.
Attempts to make contact with the suspect continued but there was no response. A tactical robot was deployed and was able to see into the house. The video from the robot showed a male lying on the floor that appeared to be deceased. Based on this information, the tactical team made entry into the residence and confirmed the male was deceased. The male appeared to have a gunshot wound and is believed to be the shooting victim’s husband.
The female victim who was transported to the hospital was in good condition. The other male who was located inside the residence was not injured.
Source: Irving Police Department
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 November 2012 19:21
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jason Alderman
The closer the holidays loom, the less time harried families have to buy gifts, plan seasonal events and make travel arrangements. Unfortunately, when time is at a premium and you're forced to make last-minute decisions, it's usually your budget that suffers.
As an occasional procrastinator myself, let me share a few tips I've picked up over the years that can help take the expense – and stress – out of holiday planning:
Before you start shopping, calculate how much you can afford to spend on the holidays as a portion of your overall budget. If your finances are in good shape, spend no more than 1.5 percent of your annual income. But if you're deeply in debt, can't meet your regular monthly expenses or don't have an emergency fund, this isn't the time to rack up additional debt.
Once you determine an overall amount, tally up expected holiday-related expenses including gifts, decorations, new clothes and accessories, giftwrap, cards, postage, special meals and year-end gratuities. Don't forget travel-related expenses if you plan to leave town, and try to recall unanticipated expenses from last year.
If you're looking for ways to cut back, consider:
Arrange gift lotteries with family members and friends so everyone concentrates their time, effort and money on buying fewer, nicer gifts.
Speak candidly with friends, coworkers and extended family about placing a moratorium on exchanging gifts. They're probably feeling the pinch too.
If the gift-giving gesture is important to you, suggest pooling resources with others to make a sizeable contribution to a charity you all believe in.
Once you've determined your overall holiday spending budget – and before you start shopping – make a detailed list that includes:
Everyone on your shopping list.
Spending limits and several gift alternatives for each person.
How much you actually spend on each gift. If you overspend on one present you'll need to make up for it elsewhere.
What you gave each person – to avoid giving them the same thing next year.
What each person gave you to avoid "re-gifting" disasters later on.
Other expenses (decorations, etc.)
Some people relish hunting for bargains; others loathe it. Either way, here are a few money-saving tips:
Clip newspaper and online coupons. Stores often match competitors' prices even if their own items aren't on sale. Plus, many consolidation websites post downloadable coupons and sale codes for online retailers.
Mobile shopping apps let in-store smartphone and tablet users scan product barcodes and make on-the-spot price comparisons, read reviews, download coupons, buy products and more.
If you're traveling for the holidays, note that many airlines charge $25 or more for each checked bag. Many stores and websites ship gifts for free, saving you hassle at the airport.
Carefully read purchase-return policies for deadlines, exclusions (e.g., for sale or clearance items) and restocking charges.
Keep receipts. Many retailers will refund the price difference if an item goes on sale within a few weeks after purchase.
Check whether your credit card agreement provides free product warranty extensions and/or price protection.
And finally, consider the gift of time. Older relatives don't need more chocolates, but they probably could use help with chores, running errands or rides to doctor's appointments. Plus, they would probably appreciate your company. Offer to babysit for harried parents so they can run a few errands or simply recharge their batteries.
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 November 2012 19:20
Written by Phil Cerroni
New to the event will be an afternoon concert on Main Street featuring Canta Rhythmn and Bass band and sidewalk shopping opportunities.
The Blue Christmas Chili Cook-Off, hosted by the Police and Fire departments, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1 at Heritage Park, 217 Main St.
Contestant entry fee is $20 for chili, $5 for beans and an unwrapped toy. Attendees may purchase a tasting cup for $5. There will be a chance drawing, photos with Santa, children’s games, vendors, a silent auction and cake walk. Credit cards will be accepted. Proceeds will benefit the Blue Christmas Toy Drive.
The “Joy to the World” holiday parade kicks off at 4 p.m. Dec. 1 with the procession traveling through the Irving Heritage District. Enjoy fun and festive floats—celebrating the various ways the holidays are recognized around the world—along with holiday music. The parade will travel southbound on O’Connor Road, eastbound on Second Street, northbound on Lucille Street, westbound on Irving Boulevard and northbound on O’Connor Road.
The Tree Lighting Ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at City Hall, 825 W. Irving Blvd. Entertainment will include a holiday stage show, children’s crafts and fireworks. Activities also include Santa visits and concessions.
Holiday Lights at Centennial Park, a festive light display, can be viewed from dusk to 10 p.m. Dec. 1-30. There is no admission charge. Centennial Park is located at 444 W. Second St. For more information, call (972) 721-2501.
Source: City of Irving
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 November 2012 19:19
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- Local kids learn first hand what it's like to vote
- Coppell Community Garden teams up with Youth Village Resources of Dallas
- Parker University’s student body presents awards