ARLINGTON SCHOOLSSpeakers, advisers needed for career investigation programAdult volunteers are needed by the Arlington school district to serve as career guest speakers and advisers for eighth-grade students as they plan for their academic and professional futures. Sign up online to volunteer in the new career, technology and higher education investigations course that all eighth-grade students are required to take. The website is www.aisd.net/cthei. —Shirley JinkinsARLINGTONPolice urge drivers to plan ahead, stay soberThe Arlington and Grand Prairie police departments will be out in force this holiday season looking for intoxicated drivers. The extra patrols in Grand Prairie continue until Jan. 2 and are made possible through funding from the Texas Department of Transportation, according to a news release.Officers want people to “enjoy a safe and responsible holiday.” To do that, they urged them to avoid drinking and driving.Also, officers said people who drink and need a ride home, should use a designated sober driver, call or cab or just spend the night where they are.“Our officers will be working high-visibility enforcement along area roadways to locate signs of impaired drivers,” Arlington police Sgt. Steve Chao with the DWI Enforcement Unit said in a news release. Officers also urged people to not hesitate keeping friends and family off the roads if they’ve been drinking and to call 911 if they spot a drunken driver. — Bill MillerDon’t miss out on last-minute holiday happeningsHoliday events for the family are featured on Experience Arlington’s website, the Spirit of Arlington.The holiday hub features information on events including the Arlington Christkindl Market, which serve up German cuisine and gifts through today; A Tuna Christmas, which ends today; Six Flags Over Texas Holiday in the Park, which continues through Jan. 6; and the holiday lights at Interlochen.Places to shop and more events are featured on the site at spiritofarlington.com. — Monica S. NagyUTA researcher breaks new ground on snake genomesUniversity of Texas at Arlington evolutionary biologist Todd Castoe studies snakes to see how they evolved from lizards into slithering strong-jawed reptiles.He happened to lead author a recent scientific article — the first of its kind — on the Burmese python genome. Castoe is now looking for answers on how the snakes have extensively evolved over such a relatively short period of time.The evolutionary biologist’s recent work on pythons was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in early December, and now he is working to answer questions like how the snake, which only eats a few times a year, is able to ramp up its metabolism to 40 times its normal rate within days after consumption.Early in snake evolution, an overwhelming amount of functional changes in genes happened in a concentrated period of time, Castoe said. The paper points this fact out for the first time and asks the question of how it happened.Castoe looks at what genes are turned on and off before and after a python eats. By doing so they can pinpoint the subset of genes that are at work when the heart is growing 50 percent in size.“Snakes and humans have about 25,000 genes, and they are relatively similar,” Castoe said. “If we can understand what genes a python uses to grow its heart, we might be able to find out how to turn our versions of those same genes on to grow or repair hearts.”Snakes are able to grow not only their hearts, but kidneys, livers and guts twice in size within 24-48 hours of eating.Castoe also helped author a paper on the king cobra, and the two companion papers are the first snake genomes ever done.“Identifying the link between the change in a gene and the change in a physical characteristic is a really fundamentally important and hot topic that has been around for a number of years,” he said. — Arlington Citizen-JournalKELLER SCHOOLSDistrict’s film festival makes changes to help students For the hundreds of students who enter the Keller ISD Film Festival each year, the days before winter break have been crunch time as they prepare their films for submission.This year, kids have more time to put their videos together as the deadline moves to after spring break in March. The awards ceremonies are set for May 8 at Timber Creek High School.“We had a lot of feedback from teachers whose students had a hard time trying to get their entries done before winter break,” said Matt Hill, film fest organizer and KISD media coordinator.The festival guidelines allow submissions for films made in the previous year, so the change will line it up more with the school year rather than the calendar year, Hill said.More than 300 films were entered last year. For the festival’s sixth year, most of the contest remains the same, with divisions for elementary, middle grades and high school. Categories include story, documentary, comedy, instructional, animation and music video.Hill is also working with the Keller ISD Education Foundation to improve participation from businesses and get better prizes.“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to get them involved,” he said. — The Keller CitizenKeller, Northwest officials reflect on ice stormKeller and Northwest school district officials spent last week assessing the situation after the ice storm that closed schools for three days.Area superintendents, including Keller’s Randy Reid and Northwest’s Karen Rue, were part of a text-message group exchanging information about closings.Closing schools on Dec. 6 and Dec. 9 was an easy decision, Reid said, but Dec. 10 was trickier. Fort Worth and Birdville school districts reopened on a two-hour delay; other Northeast Tarrant districts remained closed.Keller will have school on bad-weather makeup dates April 18 and June 6. Reid said that Keller would likely request a waiver for the third day.“We lost three days in a period when teachers usually try to hit it hard between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he said.Northwest will make up classes on Feb. 17 and April 18 and apply for a waiver from the Texas Education Agency to not have to make up the third day. If the TEA were to reject the waiver, the district would be in session Jan.20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.Officials from both districts said they would hold debriefings with key personnel to determine if any changes to bad weather procedures need to be made.“The scariest part is it’s only December and this is projected to be a wet and cold winter,” Reid said. “I hope that’s not the case.” — The Keller CitizenMANSFIELDAnother delay for Farm Road 1187 completionNavigating the construction on Farm Road 1187 is not only a significant part of Lylia King’s commute to and from work at Mary Jo Sheppard Elementary, but it’s become a significant part of her job as the school’s principal.She and her staff, working around obstacles of the road-widening project, have had to devise campus entrance and exit patterns that have limited most access to the east side of Sheppard at Cardinal Road.It’s been frustrating, she said.The project manager is the Texas Department of Transportation, which is using state and federal funds of about $7.4 million to rebuild a 7,200-foot section of Farm Road 1187 from North Main Street westward to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That two-lane asphalt stretch with bar ditches is being rebuilt as a concrete, four-lane road with raised-curb medians, curbs and gutters. Work began in the summer of 2012 but was delayed for several months because of a redesign and reconstruction of part of the road section. At the time work resumed in July, state officials estimated the work would be completed during this calendar year. That target has been moved to sometime in the spring.The contractor for the project, Lone Star Civil Engineering, was facing a $5,000-a-day penalty from the Transportation Department if it did not have all four lanes built and at least one lane open each direction by Thanksgiving. That requirement was met, said David Boski, city transportation engineer.Currently, the four lanes are open between Main Street and Cardinal Road, but only one lane in each direction is open from Cardinal to the tracks.Steve Freeman, the city’s public works director, said he believes all four lanes could be in use by January, while work remains to finish remaining roadside projects like sidewalks, driveways, traffic signals and median.“They’ll put down sod in some places, and they don’t really need everybody on one half of the road to be able to do that,” Freeman said.Boski said he’s confident that the stress motorists feel will soon come to an end.“There has been frustration,” Boski said. “But now that everybody is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I think people are starting to feel relief now.”For King, when classes resume after the winter break Jan. 7, the new plan will allow access to the campus on the north side from Farm Road 1187.“We’re thrilled” about the road improvements, she said. “But you always have to go through a little difficulty to get to the good stuff.” — Mansfield News MirrorNORTH RICHLAND HILLSPublic works will collect used cooking oil for recyclingThe North Richland Hills Public Works Department is expected to collect used cooking oils for recycling Jan. 6-10. Containers holding the discarded oils and grease must be made of plastic and have a screw top lid. This program is for North Richland Hills residents and excludes restaurants or commercial users. Call 817-427-6457 to arrange for used cooking oils to be picked up. — Yamil BerardSenior center will host New Year’s Eve danceThe North Richland Hills Senior Center is expected to host a New Year’s Eve dance from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the Grand Hall at the NRH Centre. Tickets can be purchased prior to the event at the Senior Center. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. For more information, call 817-427-6695. — Yamil BerardSOUTHLAKEDel Frisco’s Grille opening soon will serve as training facilityThe new Del Frisco’s Grille at the northeast corner of Carroll Avenue and Southlake Boulevard is scheduled to open later this month for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The restaurant’s al fresco dining will open in the spring.The two-story, contemporary building in Southlake Town Square seats 265 inside and an additional 150 on two outdoor patios.As home to its corporate headquarters, the Southlake Del Frisco’s Grille location will serve as a training facility for the operations team and test kitchen for culinary staff. For more information, call or go to www.DelFriscosGrille.com.CARROLL SCHOOLSRegistration open through Jan. 17 for variety show auditionsThe Dragon choir booster club has opened audition registration to the Southlake community for its 30th annual variety show.Registration is open at www.dragonchoir.net until Jan. 17 for Jan. 28 and 29 auditions.Audition fees are $5 for individuals and duets and $10 for groups of three or larger.The show takes place at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 and 22 at Carroll Senior High School. Tickets are $5 for students and Carroll school district employees and $10 for adults. — Dustin L. DangliGRAPEVINE-COLLEYVILLE SCHOOLS Cannon Elementary students sell ornaments for charityStudents at Cannon Elementary donated $1,000 to Habitat for Humanity.Students at the Grapevine-Colleyville school district STEM school created and sold ornaments in the Homes or the Holidays project.The handmade ornaments are unique homelike pieces.“Each grade level’s theme is connected to science or other content areas that are part of their grade level curriculum,” Cannon Principal Tona Blizzard said in a press release. “Additionally, all students are using the engineering design process in their STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning to create their ornaments.” — Dustin L. DangliGRAPEVINETwinkle Light Boat Parade on Lake Grapevine rescheduled for SaturdayTwinkle, Twinkle: From 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, the Twinkle Light Boat Parade on Lake Grapevine will feature watercraft decorated in sparkling lights. The free-floating festival begins at Twin Coves Marina in Flower Mound and picks up entries at each marina including Scott’s Landing and Silver Lake. The parade is visible from the shores and from the Glass Cactus Nightclub at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center on Lake Grapevine.The event was initially scheduled for Dec. 7 but was canceled because of the ice storm. — Marty SabotaKELLERMotorcycle club stages holiday benefit for needy and homelessMembers of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club sponsored a toy and canned food drive on Saturday for the needy and homeless.Music was furnished by Big Casino, an all-original band headed up by popular musician Justin Ross, who is also a Boozefighters member.The event was held Saturday at Bronson Rock Burgers & Beer, 250 S. Main St. in Keller. — Shirley JinkinsMANSFIELD SCHOOLSLegacy High student publication go for gold in national competitionLegacy High School’s online newspaper, “The Rider,” and yearbook, “The Arena,” have been named finalists in a nationwide competition of school publications.The finalists know they have won at least a Silver Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. In March, a judge panel will announce which finalists will win Gold Crown Awards.“I’m proud to be a part of a profession that makes a lasting difference in the lives of kids, and I’m grateful to an organization that recognizes our student’s hard work,” said student media adviser Leland Mallett. “My students jumped and screamed when we saw the announcement. It’s always nice to get a pat on the back during deadline time.”This is Legacy’s fourth Crown Award for its yearbooks in the past six years. The previous three have been Silver Crowns. The newspaper’s past four Crown Awards have been gold.The Gold Crown Awards were first presented in 1982. The Silver Crown Awards were added in 1984. There can be multiple winners in each of the several media divisions, including print and online publications at the high school and middle school levels.The “Rider” was selected for a Crown along with nine other finalists, including two others from Texas — publications in San Antonio and the Lovejoy school district in Collin County. The Legacy yearbook was among 38 finalists, including 10 from Texas — the nearest being two from Dallas high schools. — Robert CadwalladerSOUTHLAKELane closed along for sidewalk constructionCrews have been working to complete a sidewalk along Southlake Boulevard.Along the main thoroughfare from Grand Avenue to Foxborough Drive, construction crews will close the outside westbound lane during the day.The city projects the project, which started Thursday, to be completed by Jan. 3.This project is part of the city’s plan to meet citizen demand for more and connected sidewalks. — Dustin L. DangliREGIONVietnamese community raises funds for typhoon recoveryA fundraising effort launched by Saigon Radio and Saigon Broadcasting Television Network has raised over $100,000 to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.Thousands of Vietnamese-Americans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area contributed to the effort, said Tina Do, executive director of the 10-year-old Vietnamese-language radio station, which is based in the Dallas suburb of Cockrell Hill.Do said the donation to the Red Cross is the Vietnamese community’s way of saying thanks to the people of the Philippines who aided hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War. — Steve CampbellEnergy firm offers $10 per bag of used items to be given to Union Gospel MissionIn the spirit of the holiday season, Fort Worth-based oil and gas company Yohawk Energy is rewarding residents for their charity. Yohawk will give people $10 for every kitchen bag of clean used clothing, blankets, nonperishable food and clean toys that they drop off, up to $50.“We’ve been very fortunate as a company this year, and it’s incredibly important to me to give back to the community that supports us,” said Yohawk CEO JB Yowell. “We wanted to do what we could to give back as much as possible and thought this clothing drive would be a great way to serve.”Items will be accepted Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 100 E. 15th St., Suite 420 through Dec. 31. People should call 817-484-9642 before dropping off items.All items will be given to Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County. For more information, visit www.womenshelters.org/cit/tx-fort_worth. Ditch the fruitcake and go find something real at flea marketFor those looking for some post-Christmas shopping at somewhere other than the mall, the Chicken House Flea Market will open its doors Saturday and Dec. 29 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.The flea market is held in an old chicken house on the second and fourth weekends of every month. It is located at 8080 U.S. 377 South, between Stephenville and Dublin. — Bill Hanna
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