ARLINGTON SCHOOLSDistrict seeks members for financial futures panelThe Financial Futures Committee provides vital community input into the Arlington school board’s budgeting process each year.The committee’s 25 members and its chairman are appointed by trustees based on applications received. Membership must include two resident representatives from each of the six high school attendance zones, one employee representative from each of the three teacher associations, one employee representative from the administration association and at least nine at-large nonemployees who live in the district.Members must be free to attend several meetings over three months: Feb. 4 and 18, March 4 and 18, and April 1, 7, 10 and 17. Members cannot miss more than two meetings.Applications will be accepted through Jan. 10. Apply at www.aisd.net/temp/form/futures.aspx. — Shirley JinkinsARLINGTON Airport gets $200,000 state grant for development planA $200,000 grant will be used to help Arlington Municipal Airport make an airport development plan, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.A project consultant will be hired after the first of the year, according to a news release from the department. The money was approved recently at the December meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission.“Project costs will be funded through the city of Arlington and TxDOT’s Aviation Facilities Grant Program,” officials said in the news release.This program “preserves and improves the state’s general aviation system,” the officials said.About $60 million were earmarked by the department in 2013 for improvements at community airports. These facilities, according to the agency, account for more than 3 million flight hours per year.They also provide aviation services for agriculture, hospitals, commerce and commuter flights, the agency said. — Bill MillerKids can win prizes in annual animal essay contestKids in third through sixth grades have a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD and a $100 savings account in the essay contest that Arlington Animal Services opened this month.The contest originated 13 years ago to bring awareness of pet responsibility to Arlington youths. “We try and instill in children at a young age that if you’re going to be a pet owner, then that’s a responsibility of a lifetime. And how you treat that pet also will carry forward how you treat other people,” Councilwoman Sheri Capehart said.“That’s why we really do it,” Capehart continued. “It certainly helps with promoting the animal shelter. That’s a side benefit. But it’s more about the education.”The contest is open to students who live in Arlington and attend public, private, or home school. Essays will be judged on effective writing, focus and coherence, organization, development of ideas, and voice and conventions.Third-graders will write about what they would do if asked to help at the shelter. The topic chosen for fourth-grade students is “What changes do cats and dogs have to make to live and survive as homeless pets?” Fifth-grade kids will write about the advice they would give a family to keep a new pet from producing unwanted offspring. Sixth-graders will cover how an overpopulation of homeless cats and dogs affects our ecosystem.Winners will be introduced at a City Council meeting in March. Essay entries may be submitted beginning Jan. 13 and are due by 5 p.m. Jan. 17.Contact Cheri Colbert at 817-459-6183 or visit www.arlingtontx.gov/animals/annualanimalessaycontest.html. — Faye ReederFLOWER MOUNDTwo patients receive free hip, knee replacementsDr. J. David Evanich, an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, performed free hip and knee replacements for two needy patients as part of the third annual Operation Walk USA program, held Dec. 2-6.Operation Walk USA, an independent medical charitable organization, provides all aspects of knee and hip replacement treatment, including surgery, hospitalization, and pre- and post-operative care, at no cost to patients who do not qualify for government assistance, are uninsured and are unable to afford surgery on their own.The nationwide program, which included 120 volunteer orthopedic surgeons and 70 participating hospitals in 32 states, treated more than 230 patients. That was twice the number of patients and orthopedic surgeons of 2011, Operation Walk USA’s first year. This year’s event was expanded from one day to a week to allow more hospitals, surgeons and patients to participate.The program’s website is www.opwalkusa.com. — Shirley JinkinsGRAND PRAIRIEPrairie Lights display to run through Jan. 5Prairie Lights, the colorful holiday drive beginning at 5610 Lake Ridge Parkway in Grand Prairie, has extended its last day to Jan. 5. “With Thanksgiving being so late this year and the days we lost due to the ice storm, our patrons are clamoring for more nights of lights,” said event manager Beverly Grogan.The 2-mile drive featuring 4 million lights drew 168,000 visitors last year.Prairie Lights will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and holidays through Jan. 5. Cost is $20 per car Monday through Thursday and $30 per car on holidays and Friday through Sunday. Rates for larger vehicles vary.Check www.prairielights.org or call 972-237-4569. The Holiday Village attraction is midway through the drive, with concessions, carnival rides and gifts at additional cost. For an extra $5 per adult and $3 per child through Tuesday, guests can attend Holiday Happiness, a 15-minute musical show performed by actors and singers from Texas Family Musicals series. The Holiday Magic Walk-Through Forest of lights costs an additional $3 per adult and $2 per child. — Shirley JinkinsUplift Education to open in Grand Prairie The coming year will be pivotal for a new institution coming into Grand Prairie, and a historic one relocating elsewhere in the city.Uplift Education charter school network will open a primary and middle school on the First Baptist Church campus, at 122 NE Second St. in downtown Grand Prairie.The charter network closed on the 114,537-square-foot property on Dec. 3 for $4.6 million.Uplift serves 9,600 students at several locations and will add 389 with the expansion. The new school will open with kindergarten through second grades, plus grades six and seven. Each year a grade will be added until the school reaches a full K-12 campus with more than 1,100 students.“Grand Prairie was of interest to us because of the great work already being done inside Grand Prairie ISD to provide choice to families,” said Uplift CEO Yasmin Bhatia during a recent community meeting in Grand Prairie. “The response of families in this community had been very active in in selecting the best school for their child. We want to be another option for those families.” Uplift gained four buildings covering 4.9 acres in the purchase. During the first year, the school and the church will share space until the congregation moves into its new location.Uplift plans to make renovations to the existing buildings during 2014 while finalizing plans for a new building to be constructed on the site in the future. Funding was secured through grants and the sale of more than $52 million in bonds. Uplift’s goal is to enroll at least 13,000 students annually by 2015.The church expects to break ground in early 2014 on its new facility to be located at Mayfield and Robinson roads. First Baptist Church first met on its present site in 1880, and its original building there was considered to be the first church built in Grand Prairie. — Shirley JinkinsREGION State park events can kick off a good yearJan. 1 is a great day to get out of the house and into a nearby state park to begin keeping those resolutions about getting more exercise. Here are four parks sponsoring First Day events within a short drive of Fort Worth. • Cedar Hill State Park is scheduling the Day One Trail Run, with entry fees for the 20K and 5K runs benefiting the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation. Fees (through Tuesday) are $60 for the 20K and $45 for the 5K before Dec. 31, and $5 more apiece on race day. Both races begin at 10 a.m.Cedar Hill State Park is located at 1570 W. Farm Road 1382. Take the Farm Road 1382 exit off Interstate 20 and go south for 4miles on the right (at Joe Pool Reservoir). • Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose offers intermediate and advanced First Day Hikes along Limestone Ledge Trail. The hikes are from 1 to 3 p.m. The intermediate level family hike is 2.5 miles long and follows the river, with a stop to view dinosaur tracks along the way. The hike begins at the park store parking lot.The Outer Loop Trail Hike begins at the Cedar Brakes Trailhead parking lot. This advanced hike is 7 to 8 miles long and follows the outer loop, transversing through the interior trails. The park is located 4 miles west of Glen Rose. Take U.S. 67 west to Farm Road 205 for 4 miles to Park Road 59, then go 1 mile to the headquarters. Park admission is $7 per adult; it’s free for kids under 12. • Cleburne State Park has a guided First Day Hike, with park interpreters and Texas Master Naturalists along for the trek along Coyote Run Nature Trail. The hike is from 2 to 3:15 p.m. and participants can bring along leashed pets. The group meets at the Coyote Run trailhead.The park is 10 miles southwest of Cleburne. Take US 67 south from Cleburne, then turn left on Park Road 21. The park entrance is another 6 miles on the right. Entrance fee is $5 for adults, children under 12 are free. • Lake Mineral Wells State Park’s First Day Hike is a guided trek called the Penitentiary Hollow Wild Walk. Park Interpreter David Owens will lead this strenuous walk that involves some crawling through tight spaces in rock cracks, crevices and short caves. Trekkers can view awesome sandstone formations in remote areas that are only accessible on the guided hike. The hike is from 2 to 4 p.m.Reservations are required, and hikers should plan on getting dirty. Call 940-328-1171 to reserve a spot. Lake Mineral Wells State Park is 4 miles east of Mineral Wells on U.S. 180. Entrance fee is $7 per adult and free for children 12 years and under.Participants at all hikes are advised to bring plenty of water, healthy snacks, good hiking shoes and to dress in layers. — Shirley Jinkins
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