Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Eyes on Arlington: Winners announced in 15th Animal Essay Contest

The first-, second- and third-place winners in the 2016 Animal Essay Contest.
The first-, second- and third-place winners in the 2016 Animal Essay Contest. Courtesy photo

Every time we see a homeless dog or cat roaming our community, it’s a red flag that more education of our residents about responsible pet ownership is needed. Our city’s animal services department knows there is no better place to begin this education than with young people who are the pet owners of the future.

Their annual animal essay contest — now in its 15th year — has helped thousands of our city’s elementary school kids learn more about responsibly caring for our four-legged friends. Twelve students were recently named the top finishers among the nearly 1,500 Arlington students in grades 3-6 who participated in the writing competition.

“The contest brings awareness to caring for homeless pets and how important it is for pet owners to spay and neuter their pets to prevent pet overpopulation,” said Cheri Colbert, volunteer administrator and essay coordinator.

“The students are very excited each year to share their thoughts through writing about animals while at the same time, they are learning working on their writing skills.”

First place winner in third grade was Asaya Matsumoto from Butler Elementary. Her essay described what she believed volunteers at the animal shelter would be asked to do. Penning her essay on the changes that cats and dogs have to make to live and survive as homeless pets also earned a first-place finish for fourth-grader Katelin Crain from St. Maria Goretti School.

Nicke Nguyen from Cross Timbers Intermediate School wrote about preventing pet overpopulation and walked away with first-place honors among fifth-graders. Finishing first in the sixth grade was Grace Wilson, a home-school student whose essay addressed the affect of homeless animals on our local ecosystem.

Each winner received a $100 savings account along with a Kindle Fire HD. Winners were honored at a recent City Council meeting and later attended a reception at the animal shelter where they toured the facility and then read aloud their winning essays.

“Winners will also have the opportunity to visit the library TechLink bus to receive training on their new Kindle Fire,” Colbert said.

See the winners, read their essays and learn more about the essay program at

On a personal note, a recent experience with my elderly kitty (who is blind and deaf) has left me convinced that young people in our community do indeed care about being kind to animals. Our kitty accidentally slipped away from our home, and two young UTA students, Alex Bergman and Nicole Hix, heroically rescued her on a busy street and took her to the Arlington animal shelter.

The awesome staff at the shelter was already working hard to help us find our cat and reacted instantly when she was brought in by the young couple. Needless to say, I think this happy ending can be repeated for others if we continue education through wonderful activities like the animal essay contest. Shelter manager Chris Huff and Colbert truly have a servant heart in their work to increase animal adoptions and reunions and constantly educate the public about preventing pet overpopulation.

City gets share of 811 trees planted across Texas as reminder to ‘Call 8-1-1’ before digging

Pay a visit to Stovall Park and you’ll see 47 news trees recently planted by Atmos Energy as part of a “Fueling Cleaner and Greener Communities” initiative the company launched last year. A tree-planting ceremony was held at the park last week and attended by local dignitaries and partners in the project.

“The Arlington event is a continuation of Atmos Energy’s commitment to plant 811 trees by April, which is National Safe Digging Month,” said Kelly Pacleb, public affairs manager for Atmos. “We feel like this donation will create a long-lasting, positive impact on the Arlington community and also raise awareness of the importance of calling 811.”

In a partnership with the Texas Trees Foundation and Texas811, Atmos aims to educate property owners and contractors about the need to call 811 before digging. A call to 811 connects them to the state’s one-call center, which notifies all appropriate utilities about the excavation so that underground utility lines can be marked.

Around 30 people gathered for the ceremony including Mayor Pro Tem Sheri Capehart, Arlington parks board Chair Donna Darovich, Lemuel Randolph, parks and recreation director, along with representatives from Keep Arlington Beautiful, Texas811 and the Texas Trees Foundation. The Salvation Army sent its landscape team to plant the trees.

“This donation by Atmos is another example of the role our corporate community can have in helping make Arlington greener and enhancing its environment,” said Darovich.

The 52-acre Stovall Park is at 2800 W. Sublett Road. Direct questions about the program to Pacleb at 817-375-7911.

Girls Inc. annual celebration breakfast highlights female achievements

In a morning set aside to applaud achievements by females, Arlington-based youth agency Girls Inc. of Tarrant County celebrated its mission of “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” The annual event held last month honored individuals and companies for their support along with awarding scholarships to local students.

BNSF Railway was presented the Strong Partner Award, and Kathy Wolfe was the Bold Woman recipient. Jill Freer, Lockheed Martin aeronautics engineer, was named Volunteer of the Year.

Three eighth-grade students from Fort Worth received scholarships funded by the national Girls Inc. organization. Receiving the 2016 Smart Girl Award were five high students from Fort Worth.

In past years, the Smart Girl Award winners have received scholarships from the national organization, but a reduction in these funds meant that no scholarships were awarded this time.

As a result, Girls Inc CEO Jennifer Limas has issued a call to action to raise $25,000 for scholarships for this year’s scholars. A generous offer from the Deena Jo Heide-Diesslin Foundation will match any funds raised for Girls Inc. scholars.

“I am confident that collaboratively, our community will come together as they have so many times before to raise $25,000 to ensure that these girls will receive the scholarships they have dreamed of and the vote of confidence from their community,” said Limas. “Of course, knowing that contributions will be matched will be an even greater incentive to donate.”

They hope to present the scholarship awards at the College Shower event planned for July 28. Contact Amy Rasor at 817-468-0306 or to learn how to make a contribution.

Cardboard boat registration now open through April 11

Everyone who wants to get in on the wet and wild fun of the cardboard boat regatta hosted each spring by the River Legacy Foundation has until April 11 to enter the competition.

Individuals, companies, schools, families and local groups or clubs are invited to participate in the regatta, set for April 23 at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Participants will design, build and navigate boats made entirely of corrugated cardboard and then race other competitors in a wild competition in the wave pool.

General entry fees are $60-$90 per team, and school entries are $55-$75 per team. Free cardboard will be given to school teams to build their boats.

Sign up online at and while you’re there be sure to watch the video to show you how to build a boat. There’s also a nifty boat-building manual available. Contact Kristi Payne at 817-860-6752, ext. 107, with any inquiries.

Events at a glance

▪ State of the County Luncheon is March 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel. Hosted by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley as he talks about highlight of the past year along with his forecast for 2016. Register online at or call the chamber office at 817-275-2613.

▪ Driving Miss Daisy is showing March 12 and 13 at 2 p.m. at the Uptown Theater, 120 East Main St. in Grand Prairie. The theater classic is the warmhearted, humorous story of the “unlikely relationship between an aging, crotchety white Southern lady and a proud, soft-spoken black man.” Purchase tickets online at, or call the box office at 972-237-8786.

▪ Leadership Arlington speed networking happy hour is Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Maverick’s Bar & Grill, 601 E. Main St. Tables will be set up where leaders on the topics of education, nonprofit, finance, real estate, municipal and medical will be on hand to answer questions.

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