VOLUME 3, ISSUE 6 FEB. 27MARCH 28, 2021
Texans struggle through ERCOT power grid strain
PRIVATE SCHOOL GUIDE
Millions in lost enrollment dollars looms for schools
mental health calls Each year, the Richardson Police Department elds hundreds of calls related to mental health. Those calls have steadily increased over the past ve years.
BY WILLIAM C. WADSACK
Enrollment issues related to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to budget decits of around $10 million each for Richardson and Plano ISDs. RISD enrollment is around 1,700 students below projections for the current year, while PISD enrollment is more than 2,000 students under its projection. The Texas Education Agency uses average daily attendance to determine the amount of state funding each district receives. “The loss of that funding could be devastating, especially as we work to overcome the learning loss our stu- dents have experienced because of the pandemic,” RISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone said via email. Hold-harmless TEA implemented a hold-harmless guarantee for the rst semester of the 2020-21 school year, which ensured that districtswould receive their antic- ipated funding regardless of changes to attendance or enrollment. But TEA had not applied the guarantee to the CONTINUED ON 18
Richardson Police Department’s new Crisis Intervention Team began operations in October. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
SOURCE: RICHARDSON POLICE DEPARTMENT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Police teamforms to addressmental health crises As a member of the Richardson Police Department Crisis Negotiation Team for nearly ve years, Sgt. Cam- eron Smith knew he wanted to be part of a newly formed team aimed at addressing local mental health concerns. “It’s meant to try to keep [people] from getting to that critical mass cri- sis state,” Smith said. Assistant Police Chief Gary L. Tittle said mental health is a top priority for law enforcement agencies across the nation. Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lived with a mental illness in 2019, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. own Crisis Intervention Team is a “fabulous idea.” She said police resources related to mental health are “spread so thin” that allowing individuals to focus on mental health as part of the solution is a “cut- ting-edge” practice. “Mental health and mental ill- ness is not a crime,” Cook said. “If we start working to provide peo- ple with mental illness with solu- tions—and we don’t treat [them] CONTINUED ON 16 BY WILLIAM C. WADSACK The Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, works to intervene before a mental health crisis occurs as well as to help ocers responding to mental health calls, Smith explained. Bonnie L. Cook, executive director of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, said Richardson having its
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FROMOLIVIA: In this edition, we take a closer look at the Richardson Police Department’s recently launched Crisis Intervention Team, which aims to curtail mental health- related calls through a partnership with Methodist Richardson Medical Center. We also explore the nancial consequences of the potential discontinuation the state’s hold-harmless policy, which could cost public school districts millions. Olivia Lueckemeyer, EDITOR
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RICHARDSON EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding
Bagel Cafe 21
COURTESY BAGEL CAFE 21
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COMING SOON 8 Adda plans to hold its grand opening in early March in the Richardson Restau- rant Park development, located at 744 S. Central Expressway, Ste. 230, Richardson. The eatery will serve Indian and Pakistani street food with global inuences. The owner of Adda also owns Plano restau- rants Jimmy’s Burger Grill and Mama Pita Mediterranean Grill, among other spots. www.theadda.io 9 A new Chick-l-A location is scheduled to open on the edge of Richardson this spring at 7934 Arap- aho Road, Dallas. 469-617-1233. www.facebook.com/cfaspanishvillage 10 Greenville Avenue Pizza Co. , also known as GAPCo, plans to open a new lo- cation this spring at 520 Lockwood Drive, Richardson. The eatery originally hoped to open its Richardson location by the end of 2020, but delays related to con- struction and the coronavirus pandemic pushed back its opening. GAPCo oers from-scratch pizzas with thin, crispy crust and homemade sauce. 214-826-5404 (Greenville location). www.gapc.co
TM; © 2021 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MAP NOT TO SCALE N
3 Litit Smoke Shop opened Dec. 1 at 516 W. Arapaho Road, Ste. 110, Rich- ardson. The business oers a variety of cigarettes and vaping products. It also oers Mediterranean snacks, such as baklava, Turkish delight, dates and nuts. 469-970-2183. www.facebook.com/lititsmokeshop 4 Nails Plus opened Nov. 24 at 1235 E. Belt Line Road, Richardson. The beau- ty supply store sells nail and beauty supplies, including spa products, wet hair products, hair razors and clippers, false eyelashes and facial treatments, among other items. Nails Plus was originally scheduled to open last summer but was delayed due to the coronavi- rus pandemic. The store is expected to have its website up soon. 469-372-5110. www.nailsplusonline.com 5 Peak Physical Therapy opened Feb. 1 at 819 W. Arapaho Road, Ste. 40, Richardson. The business oers
Choose an expert to prepare your taxes PERSONAL RETURNS: Form 1040, Schedule C, E, F and more. BUSINESS RETURNS: 1120, 1120S, 1065, 990 and more. Individuals. Families. Small Businesses. Seasoned CPA and Reasonable prices Tax | Accounting | Advisory SCHEDULE A FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION TODAY AT CALENDLY.COM/BROWNECPA in-clinic and telehealth physical therapy evaluations and appointments. Peak uses cutting-edge technology to oer a variety of treatments and therapies. 214-377-7349. www.peak.urpt.com 6 Pho Sen Noodle and Grill opened this winter at 400 N. Greenville Ave., Ste. 15, Richardson. The Vietnamese restaurant oers a variety of appetizers, noodle soups with various meat options and rice plates as well as vermicelli and vegetarian meals. 214-484-1833. https://phosennoodleandgrill.com 7 TayK Cosmetics opened in late December at 7602 W. Campbell Road, Ste. 5, Richardson. Licensed permanent cosmetic tattoo artist Taylor Keeney specializes in 3D areola tattoos for breast cancer survivors as well as permanent combination brows. All work is created using a machine tattoo gun and cus- tomized for each client. 469-818-8891. www.facebook.com/taykcosmetics
NOWOPEN 1 Aspen Dental opened a new oce Feb. 11 at 205 S. Plano Road, Ste. 300, Richardson. The business oers a variety of dental services, including routine care and checkups, treatment of periodontal disease, tooth extraction, llings, root canals and dental crowns. It also oers cosmetic dentistry services and dentures. 214-245-1086. www.aspendental.com 2 Bagel Cafe 21 opened Feb. 14 at 1920 N. Coit Road, Richardson. The bagel shop oers 21 varieties of New York-style bagels, including breakfast and lunch options, and 12 cream cheese choices as well as muns and iced beverages. Own- ers Lisa and Kyriakos Kouzoukas formerly owned Bagel Fresh Deli in The Colony. 469-466-8131. www.bagelcafe21.com COMPILED BY OLIVIA LUECKEMEYER, LIESBETH POWERS & WILLIAM C. WADSACK
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11 Jersey Mike’s Subs expects to open a new location March 31 at 205 S. Plano Road, Richardson. This will be the restaurant’s fourth Richardson location. A phone number is not yet available. www.jerseymikes.com 12 Kids Montessori Academy expects to open March 1 at 1521 E. Arapaho Road, Richardson, following a grand opening event Feb. 27. The early learning and child care center operates in a Montessori environment, which promotes lively and purposeful engagement in both indoor and outdoor settings, according to Kids Montessori social media. 972-235-6930. www.facebook.com/ kidsrichardsonmontessori 13 A new Storage 365 facility is scheduled to open this summer at 350 Buckingham Road, Richardson. The facil- ity, which will be located near the corner of South Greenville Avenue and Buck- ingham Road, is expected to have three to ve retail spots that can be leased out for separate businesses underneath the self-storage units. 469-600-8830. www.storage365.us 14 Texas Family Fitness expects to open June 1 at 1361 W. Campbell Road, Richardson. A preview center with infor- mation on the new location, amenities and member rates opened Feb. 1 in front Monster Bodybuilding Sports & Fitness plans to hold a soft opening March 1 at 235 N. Central Expressway, Richardson. The business will feature a 14,000-square-foot facility and oer a variety of training styles for a range of ages. Clients will be able to choose from traditional free weights and exercise equipment, multiple mixed martial arts disciplines, exercise boot camps, one-on-one personal training and more. Memberships are available now. Prospective members can sign up on the website. 855-204-0004. www.monstertnessclub.com
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of the future gym. The location ex- pects to have a kid’s club, a free-weight center, cardio center, group exercise classes, personal training, showers and hydromassage beds. 469-399-1720. www.texasfamilytness.com 15 Happy Lemon is coming to 169 N. Plano Road, Richardson. The Chinese boba company sells a variety of fruit teas, milk teas, cheese teas, smoothies, and slushies. No opening date has been announced as of this paper’s press date. http://happylemonwest.com IN THE NEWS 16 Serene Global recently began development of The Crossings at Greenville subdivision, which will be located at the southeast corner of South Greenville Avenue and Centennial Boulevard in Richardson. The development is expected to have 79 townhomes with prices starting at $385,000. The townhomes will include two- or three-bedroom designs that will range in size from 1,900-2,900 square feet. A representative from Serene Global said the rst buildings in the subdivision are scheduled to be nished in spring 2022. 972-366-4214. https://sereneglobal.com/communities/ the-crossings-at-greenville
RICHARDSON EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
M O R E T H A N A D E G R E E It's the knowledge to address community mental health needs.
SCIENCE THROUGHART EISEMANN CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS
This virtual Plano Symphony Orchestra concert, performed at the Eisemann Center, combines a concert and lm with images from the Hubble Telescope. The concert honors the 39th anniversary of the Hubble in 2020. 8 p.m. $25. Online event. 972-473-7262. www.planosymphony.org (Courtesy Plano Symphony Orchestra)
Pursue your M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at our Dallas Campus
COMPILED BY LIESBETH POWERS MARCH 01 THROUGHAPRIL 30 RICHARDSONWOMAN’S CLUB RAFFLE
those joining will receive information on how to participate after registration. 2:30-4 p.m. Free. 972-744-4358. www.cor.net/departments/public-library 06 ZION’S BRAIDING CLASS This six-hour course teaches the basics of hair braiding and oers tips for building a braiding business. Hosted by Zion’s Braiding School in Richardson, the class touches on box braids, feed-ins and cornrows as well as hair types to use, sealing braids and tips on how to braid faster. Supplies and tools are provided, and beginners are welcome. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. $350 per person. 777 S. Central Expressway, Ste. 3C, Richardson. 469-283-8990. www.zionsbraidsboutique.com 18 SUS: A PAINTING EVENT Richardson’s Painting with a Twist is taking on portraying the digital game “Among Us” for one of its March 18 paint and sip classes. Participants are encouraged to arrive early to uncork and relax before the painting session begins. Those coming with others but making individual reservations can list a group in the registration’s special request box. 6-7:30 p.m. $30 per person. 819 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson. 469-802-6333. www.paintingwithatwist. This rendition of “An Evening with C.S. Lewis” is scheduled to take place with limited seating at the Eisemann Center’s Hill Performance Hall. The play depicts C.S. Lewis, the famous British author, hosting a group of American writers at his home near Oxford and explores the people and events that inspired his thoughts and works before his passing in 1963. 3 p.m., 8 p.m. (March 27); 3 p.m. (March 28). Tickets start at $49.50. 972-744-4650. www.eisemanncenter.com com/studio/richardson 27 THROUGH 28 ‘AN EVENINGWITH C.S. LEWIS’
Learn more at www.thechicagoschool.edu/dallas
at thechicagoschool .edu B E M O R E T H A N
This online, 24/7 rae is taking place over a two-month period or until 200 tickets are sold. The winner receives a 20-inch by 26-inch watercolor titled “Bluebonnets of Texas,” which was donated by Elsie Hicks, a local artist and club member. Hicks has been recognized by the Richardson Civic Arts Society, and her work has been exhib- ited in numerous galleries. All proceeds will benet the club’s community outreach as well as scholarships for Richardson ISD seniors. The winner will be announced May 6. The rae launches at 9 a.m. March 1 on www.biddingowl.com/rwc and closes April 30 at 6 p.m. The cost is $50 per ticket. 05 THROUGH06 LIVEMUSIC AT LOCKWOOD DISTILLING CO. Lockwood Distilling Co. hosts live music concerts on its patio every Friday and Saturday. Texas artist Big Gus Samuelson and acoustic blues artist Devin Leigh are expected to perform the weekend of March 5. Reservations are encouraged for inside seating and as is bringing chairs or blankets to listen from the parking lot or patio. 5:30-8:30 p.m. (March 5); 2-5 p.m., 5:30-8:30 p.m. (March 6). Free. 506 Lockwood Drive, Ste. A, Richardson. 469-399-1599. https://lockwooddistilling.com 06 WHOSE TURN IS IT? ONLINE BOARD GAME CLUB Hosted by the Richardson Public Library, this virtual event will teach participants how to play board games, such as 6 Nimmit! and Can’t Stop. The online board game club is ongoing event and meets twice in the month of March. Registration is required, and
cityofcarrollton.com Visit Downtown Carrollton for good tunes, good treats, and good times.
Find more or submit events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES November bond could include traffic signal upgrades, roadway improvements
COMPILED BY OLIVIA LUECKEMEYER
PROJECT BREAKDOWN Transportation staff divided the proposed projects into four major categories.
Multimodal and pedestrian projects: $350,000
Richardson staff is proposing $15.5 million in transportation improve- ments for inclusion in the city’s poten- tial November bond. The bulk of funds would be allocated toward traffic signal projects in the combined amount of $7.6 million, Director of Transportation and Mobility Mark Nelson told City Council during a January meeting. Fifteen traffic signals would be rebuilt, and four new signals would be added at Frank Johnson Drive and Waterview Parkway; Floyd Road and Synergy Boulevard; Floyd and Look- out Drive; and Renner Road where it intersects with Fire Station No. 5. near Jupiter Road. All signals would be equipped with upgraded technology. Bonds are the preferred way to cover large signal reconstruction and upgrade projects rather than through the city’s annual operating budget, Nelson said. New signals can cost about $355,000, although some cost
less, he added. Another $3.4 million is needed for operational and efficiency improve- ments at two city intersections, Nelson said. The first project, located at Jupiter and Campbell, would cost $2.1 million and expand the roadway by installing additional lanes. It would also realign some existing lanes and rebuild the signal with upgraded technology, Nelson said. The second project, at University Boulevard and Campbell Road, would cost $1.3 million and improve inter- section capacity, Nelson said. It would also include a signal rebuild. Traffic technology projects in the amount of $2.6 million are also included in the proposed package. The bulk of the money is needed for $1.2 million in pre-emption system upgrades. There is also $625,000 set aside for replacing analog cameras with digital versions. The remainingmoney is reserved for
Traffic signal projects: $7.6M Traffic technology and street lighting projects: $4.1M Operational and efficiency improvements: $3.4M
ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF FEB. 18. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT RICNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. which began in 2019, involves $21 mil- lion worth of infrastructure updates to about a mile’s worth of Main and Greenville Avenue. The improvements are intended to be a catalyst for future development by both public and pri- vate entities, according to the city. Timeline: September 2019-March 2021 Cost: $21 million Funding source: city of Richardson Main Street infrastructure project Road construction on Main Street in Richardson is still on track for completion in March. Crews have been working on planting trees along the planned boulevard and moving overhead power lines along Greenville Avenue underground. The project,
SOURCE: CITY OF RICHARDSON/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
upgrades to city-owned street lights in the amount of $1.5 million. Multi- modal and pedestrian projects, such as the addition of flashing crosswalk beacons and speed radar signs, are also proposed in the amount of $350,000. Transportation staff will continue to refine these projects before a package is finalized in May or June. Council is expected to call the November bond election in August.
ADVANCED CARDIAC CARE FROM THE TRUSTED TEAM AT METHODIST RICHARDSON.
A leader in cardiac disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, Methodist Richardson Medical Center uses some of the latest treatments and therapies like the Watchman™ implant. This innovative device helps patients like Larry Minter, who have atrial fibrillation, reduce the risk of stroke. It can also mean peace of mind. Don’t give your heart to just anyone. Trust. Methodist.
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For a referral to a cardiologist, call 877-637-4297 or visit MethodistHealthSystem.org/Richardson- Heart.
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Richardson Medical Center, Methodist Health System, or any of its affiliated hospitals. Methodist Health System complies with applicable federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
RICHARDSON EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
HEALTH CARE Vaccine rollout unfolds inRichardson
BY LIESBETH POWERS
commissioners meeting. At Collin County’s Plano ISD John Clark Stadium, rescheduling began the Monday following the winter storms, according to Collin County public information ocer TimWyatt. No vials went bad for any reason during closures, as the vaccine freez- ers have backup generators, Wyatt said in an email. Dallas and Collin counties both have multiple hubs that work o of county waitlists as well as locations using independent waitlists, such as UT Southwestern and select Baylor Scott &White locations. Health departments for Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton counties, as well as providers using indepen- dent waitlists in the area, are currently linked on the city of Richardson’s vaccine information website. The city is encouraging residents to sign up for several waitlists to see which one might take them rst, Magner said. Texas residents can get vaccinated anywhere in the state, making neighboring cities and counties good options, he said. Once signed up for an appointment, residents can remove themselves from any additional lists. Receiving federal assistance The state has struggled with a shortage of vaccines while supply remains limited frommanufacturers. Supply is expected to increase in coming months, representatives from Texas’ health services department shared online, and the possibility of additional vaccines authorized for use should help with that increase. A federally backed program for vaccine distribution in Texas was set in motion the week of Feb. 8 when the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program began distributing shots at various pharmacies. Locations included a CVS store in Richardson as well as Walmart, Sam’s Club and local pharmacies across the state. As more vaccines become available, more pharmacies should begin receiving doses, Richardson’s Director of Communications Greg Sowell said. Fair Park also began receiving federal assistance with vaccine distribution Feb. 24. The location was selected as a federal Commu- nity Vaccination Center, which runs alongside county operations,
The city of Richardson has prioritized informing its residents and helping counties run COVID-19 vaccine hubs as doses of the shot remain limited, ocials shared. The way vaccines are distributed has shifted since rollout began in late December, with a focus on state-rec- ognized hubs taking precedence in recent weeks. Because of this, the city of Richardson is coordinating with Dallas and Collin counties to provide sta and resources at various hubs, Deputy City Manager Don Magner said at a Feb. 8 city council brieng. If state distribution plans shift in a way that necessitates opening sites within Richardson, the city is prepared to do that, he said. “We feel like this is the most eective way to get our residents the vaccine as quickly as they can,” Magner said. Distribution is set to ramp up in the coming weeks in Dallas County following approval of Fair Park as a federally backed Community Vacci- nation Center; however, the Texas Department of State Health Services said it does not expect the vaccine to be available for most Texans until late spring or early summer 2021. Current projections by the city of Richardson suggest this timeline could be delayed until at least Septem- ber of this year if vaccines continue to be distributed at the same rate as The process of distributing COVID- 19 shots was most recently slowed by dangerous weather and power outages across the state, which delayed vaccine site openings the week of Feb. 8 and closed many through the week of Feb. 15. As sites work through the backlog of rescheduled vaccine appointments, second doses are taking priority at Dallas County’s Fair Park site. In its rst days of reopening the weekend after the storms, it worked to catch up on missed second doses from a full week prior, news releases from the county said. The Depart- ment of Defense is helping with that eort, using Army medics to catch the county up, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said at a Feb. 19 recent weeks, Magner said. Working through challenges
Dallas resident Alisia Thomas, a health care worker, received her rst dose of the Pzer vaccine Feb. 5. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
RAMPING UP VACCINE DISTRIBUTION Health ocials in Dallas and Collin counties have scaled up their COVID-19 vaccine distribution eorts in recent weeks as the state has increased its weekly supply. Collin County is now outperforming Dallas County in terms of doses administered per 100 residents age 16 or older.
DATA AS OF FEB. 21
DALLAS COUNTY Doses administered per 100 residents, age 16+ 17.9
COLLIN COUNTY Doses administered per 100 residents, age 16+ 20
Doses administered to residents, age 16+ 363,363
Doses administered to residents, age 16+ 160,388
Residents age 16+ 2,028,105
Residents age 16+ 801,716
Fully vaccinated residents age 16+ 109,642 5.4%
Fully vaccinated residents age 16+ 41,841 5.2%
SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Dallas County Chief of Sta Lauren Trimble said. Three sites in Texas—in Houston, in Arlington and in Dallas at Fair Park—were selected by the White House. The center currently vaccinates several thousand people per day, Trimble said. But federal backing means the site will be capable of administering more than 10,000 shots per day, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. The federal allocation, which aims to reach disadvantaged populations, is currently limited to 17 Dallas-area ZIP codes, Philip Huang, Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Director, said during a Feb. 19 update to county commissioners. Because of this, the county will begin priori- tizing vaccine registration based on those most at-risk for not receiving the vaccine, Huang said. Commis- sioners rescinded a similar method for distribution of state-allocated doses at a Jan. 20 meeting after being challenged by the state. The county is joining forces with former Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke to register people for
vaccines and to strategize other ways to reach people. The federal allocations could come to an end without a documented need for additional doses, Jenkins said. “They [the federal government] wants to see what kind of impact they can have in underserved communities by focusing, to the extent possible, exclusively on those underserved communities,” he said. Because Dallas County is now receiving help from the federal government, Texas’ health services department has moved to limit the number of vaccines Dallas County receives in weekly state allotments, Jenkins said. The county has appealed this decision so that Fair Park can continue to adequately distribute vaccines to North Texans living outside of those 17 at-risk areas, he added. “The federal [site vaccine allocations] are limited to certain ZIP codes,” Jenkins said. “So, you disadvantage the 7.7 million people ... here in North Texas that don’t live in these 17 ZIP codes … if you cut the vaccine [allocation].”
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages an electric grid that covers most of Texas and is disconnected from larger interconnections covering the rest of the U.S.
WESTERN INTERCONNECTION Includes El Paso and far West Texas 1 EASTERN INTERCONNECTION Includes portions of East Texas and the panhandle region 2 3
ERCOT’s grid provides electric
ERCOT man- ages 90%
ERCOT provides for 26 million customers.
ERCOT’s grid includes 46,500 miles of transmission.
power to the majority of Texans.
of the Texas electrical load.
Winter conditions bring outages to isolated Texas power grid Widespread power outages across the state left thousands of Plano residents with intermittent power or no electricity at all. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Real-time data varies, but more than half of ERCOT’s generation capacity comes from natural gas. Experts cited a natural gas shortage in February’s power outages.
2021 ERCOT grid power generating capacity 51% Natural gas 4.9% Nuclear
24.8% Wind 3.8% Solar
13.4% Coal 1.9% Other
BY BEN THOMPSON
it prone to isolation issues during high-demand events, such as Febru- ary’s winter storms, experts said. “Staying independent keeps the management of our power systems within Texas. But it means that we can barely import any power when we need it most,” Daniel Cohan, a Rice University civil and environmental engineering professor, said via email. Winter collapse A Feb. 11 press release from ERCOT stated the agency issued notices from Feb. 8-11 about the cold weather expected to hit Texas and that gener- ators were asked to prepare for it. ERCOT followed with a Feb. 14 notice asking customers to reduce electricity through Feb. 16. The next day, ERCOT announced the council had begun rotating outages at 1:25 a.m. Feb. 15. More than 4.3 million Texans were without power the morning of Feb. 16, according to poweroutage.us. Despite early warnings, Ramanan Krishnamoorti, a chemical engineer- ing professor and chief energy ocer at the University of Houston, said he believes the state’s reliance on market conditions to manage supply and
Widespread power outages prompted by severe weather across Texas in February led to increased focus on the Electric Reliability Coun- cil of Texas, which manages statewide electric power ow. The failure of portions of the state’s power grid left millions of Texans without electric service the week of Feb. 15-19. As blackouts and power restoration eorts continued, public ocials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, called for an investigation of ERCOT. ERCOT did not respond to phone calls or email requests for comment. An independent system Texas’ power grid has long been controlled within the state, separate from eastern and western North Amer- ican interconnects. Founded in 1970, ERCOT operates under the supervision of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature and manages most of the state’s electric system and retail market. ERCOT ocials have highlighted benets of the insular system in the past, although its disconnect from the continent’s larger grids has left
TRACKING THE OUTAGES Millions of Texans lost power during winter storms Feb. 15-18.
• At 1:25 a.m. Feb. 15 , ERCOT began rotating outages from customers statewide • As much as 16,500 megawatts removed
• 4.3 million Texans were without power at 9 a.m. Feb. 16
from the grid due to forced outages Feb. 15 • 1 megawatt can power about 200 households during peak demand
SOURCES: ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL OF TEXAS, PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS, POWEROUTAGE.US COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
demand is partially responsible for outages given providers’ lack of incen- tive to begin production in advance of the supply shortage. He and Cohan also cited a low supply of natural gas. “The shortfall in natural gas supply is about 20 times as large as the shortfall in wind supply compared to expectations for a winter peak cold event,” Cohan said. Planning ahead The statewide outages were the fourth such event in ERCOT’s history. One result of the most recent event in February 2011—also caused by winter weather—was the publi- cation of a federal report outlining past failures of power generators
and recommending ERCOT and other authorities make winterization eorts a top concern. Beyond just following previous recommendations, the state and power suppliers could have further incentivized preparation for the record-breaking conditions experi- enced, Krishnamoorti said. “We knew that this polar vortex was coming at least a week ahead. We could have planned,” he said. Cohan said he hopes the state will take a broader range of issues into consideration for potential updates to its energy systems. “We need to look beyond the elec- tricity system and realize that this is an energy systems crisis,” he said.
RICHARDSON EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021
News from Richardson and Richardson ISD
Another industrial project could be headed for Owens Spring Creek Farm
area is residential. This is not the first time a proposed development on the land has been opposed by residents. Last fall, Stan- dridge proposed a mixed-use project that would have included retail and residential properties. When an overwhelming number of residents came out against the project, Standridge chose to forgo the development, he said. Neighbor Gerald Long said he and fellow residents were opposed to the mixed-use project in part because they feared homeowners there would quickly become disillusioned by odor and noise from an existing garbage transfer station located nearby. “Those new homeowners, after a year or two, would have sold their homes at lower-than-market prices just to get out of them, thereby affecting the other homes in the surrounding neighborhoods,” Long said. “We were afraid it would turn into a dense neighborhood of low- cost rentals.” Long said he remains opposed to a large warehouse project but would be satisfied with a single-family
LOOKOUT TRANSFER STATION
BY OLIVIA LUECKEMEYER
allowed zoning, one-story buildings are limited to 29 feet in height, Richardson Development Director Michael Spicer said. Neighbors came out in droves to voice their opposition to Crow’s proposal. Among their concerns were increased traffic; noise caused by idling trucks; and flood risk associ- ated with the proposed amount of impervious cover on the site. Resident Charline King said the development would “forever change” her neighborhood’s quality of life. “No amount of concessions will nullify that this is 22 acres of a con- crete warehouse distribution center in a greenbelt next to residences and a golf course,” she said. The Owens property has been zoned industrial since the 1960s. Part of the property was home to the Owens Country Sausage plant until its demolition in 2013. Much of the
RICHARDSON A vacant property in Richardson that was recently the subject of a controversial rezoning case could become home to a new industrial development, according to the property owner. The 27-acre parcel of land, known as Owens Spring Creek Farm, is owned by Standridge Companies, a commercial real estate firm based in Addison. Founder and President Stacy Standridge had partnered with development company Crow Hold- ings Industrial to build three spec warehouses totaling about 354,000 square feet. After nearly five hours of delibera- tion and public comment, Richardson City Council voted Jan. 25 to reject Crow’s rezoning request, which sought to add 44-foot, one-story buildings, a height normally reserved for two-story buildings. Under the
E. LOOKOUT DR.
development that fits with the area. Mayor Pro Tem Janet DePuy warned that if Crow’s request were to be denied, the developer would likely return with a new industrial use that does not require a zoning change, leaving the city without “any negotiating power.” Standridge said his staff has been “inundated” with interest from industrial developers who will stay within the existing zoning. “We are likely to go in that direc- tion since it will not require another public hearing,” he said. RESIDENTIAL
City, school district upended by outages, damage inwake of storm
BY OLIVIA LUECKEMEYER & WILLIAM C. WADSACK
Day holiday on Feb. 15. Deputy Super- intendent Tabitha Branum said RISD is eligible for a waiver for the missed instructional minutes from the Texas Education Agency that should keep it from having to make any changes to its school calendar. According to RISD staff, 45 of the district’s 55 campuses saw some type of damage during the storm. Chief Financial Officer David Pate said that while the district does not yet know howmuch that damage will cost, he does not expect it to be anywhere near the district’s total insurance coverage limit of $250 million. “We certainly have the funding between [the] general fund’s fund balance and local capital projects to be able to fund these repairs and then get our recovery [payments] from our insurance companies,” he said. With the exception of three campuses that pivoted to virtual instruction, RISD students were back
RICHARDSON Thousands of Rich- ardson residents and business owners were left without power when severe winter weather led to widespread outages across the state. Controlled outages began in the early hours of Feb. 15 and continued through mid-day Feb. 18, Deputy City Manager Don Magner said during a Feb. 22 council briefing. Outages peaked at around 10 a.m. on Feb. 16, when nearly 17,500 residents were without electricity, he said. Close to 200 residents were still without power the evening of Feb. 18, but those outages were due to equipment failures, Magner said. Oncor fully restored power to the city by the evening of Feb. 20. Schools were also affected by the outages. Richardson ISD made the decision to cancel school Feb. 16-19 following the scheduled Presidents
O. Henry Elementary School was one of several district campuses that experienced ooding due to the storm. (Courtesy Richardson ISD)
in school by Feb. 22. Superintendent Jeannie Stone said the district’s ability to have water and heat in its buildings was crucial to the decision to reopen. Demand for water in Richardson far outpaced supply over the six-day weather event, Magner said. More than 32 million gallons were delivered to Richardson on Feb. 14, which is more than double the five-day average of 15 million gallons per day this time of year, according to the North Texas Municipal Water District. Most of this was due to residents dripping water from their faucets, Magner said. The city will issue a “drip
allowance” credit on all March water bills to compensate for this usage, he added. Magner encouraged homeown- ers, renters and business owners affected by the storm to self-report damage through an online survey administered by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. This is essential in helping the state make the case for additional funding from the
federal government, he said. More information on assis- tance for affected residents and business owners is available at www.cor.net/winterweather.
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
DATES TOKNOW MARCH 1-29 The North
Over-65 property tax exemption holds steady in fiscal year 2021-22
$100,000 exemption to fall below the city’s 30% goal. Pfiel said he expects exempted city taxes will total $5.3 million in FY 2021-22, assuming a 5% growth in home value and a 2% increase in the number of accounts. This is up slightly from the $5.1 million exempted in FY 2020-21. The incremental cost to the city is $182,272, most of which is paid for through its general fund. Because no change to the exemp- tion was recommended, a council vote was not needed, City Manager Dan Johnson said. SENIOR SAVINGS Under the current property tax rate, each $5,000 increment of a senior’s home value equals about $31 in saved city property taxes. SOURCE: CITY OF RICHARDSON/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Richardson City Council Meets March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 411 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson. www.cor.net. The meetings are open to the public but also streamed live on the city’s website. Richardson ISD Meets March 8 and 29 at 6 p.m. at the RISD Administration Building, 400 S. Greenville Ave., Richardson. www.risd.org Plano ISD Meets March 23 at 7 p.m. at the PISD Administration Center, 2700 W. 15th St., Plano. www.pisd.edu MEETINGSWE COVER Three candidates—Tony Casagrande, Vicky Suárez and Megan Timme— filed for the Single-Member District 1 seat, which is currently held by outgoing trustee Jean Bono. Board members in RISD serve staggered three-year terms and are not subject to term limits. Five of the seven seats are chosen by voters in specific districts, and the remaining two seats are elected by voters districtwide. Early voting for the May 1 election is scheduled to take place April 19-27. Texas Municipal Water District will temporarily change the disinfectant in its water treatment process during this timeframe. The annual, routine change is critical for maintenance and to ensure quality, a Jan. 29 news release from the district said. The absence of ammonia during this window may make the taste of chlorine more noticeable for some people, according to the release. To minimize taste, odor or skin sensitivities, the district recommends the following: • placing a pitcher of water in the refrigerator overnight; • adding a slice of citrus to water; or • adding a crushed 1,000 milligram vitamin C tablet to bath water. For more information, residents can visit www.ntmwd.com/safewater. HIGHLIGHT RICHARDSON ISD Ten candidates will vye for a seat on Richardson ISD’s board of trustees in May. Seven candidates—Amanda Clair, Nicole Foster, Gavin Haynes, Nicholas Frank LaGrassa, Christopher J. Poteet, Blake Sawyer and Eric Stengel—filed for the At-Large Place 7 position, which is currently held by outgoing trustee Kim Caston.
BY OLIVIA LUECKEMEYER
City police report year-over-year drop in crimes in 2020 some flexibility in maintaining the current exemption while also honor- ing its exemption goal. The finance team recommended keeping the exemption where it is and noted that the average market value would need to increase by 7% for the that amounts to about $625 in savings, Pfiel said. Each year, council reviews the exemption to ensure it meets the city’s goal of maintaining a tax benefit of approximately 30% of the average senior home value. In 2019, council upped the exemption from $85,000 to $100,000. No change was made to the exemption amount in 2020. After reviewing last year’s certified values, Pfiel said the average senior in Richardson is actually receiving about a 32% tax benefit, which gives the city
RICHARDSON The city’s property tax exemption of $100,000 for residents who are disabled or age 65 and older will remain unchanged in fiscal year 2021-22. The estimated market value of a senior’s home in Richardson is about $310,334, which is up about 3% year over year, Richardson Chief Financial Officer Kent Pfiel said at a Feb. 8 City Council meeting. There are currently 8,353 homeowners who receive the exemption, which represents more than 30% of all residential accounts, Pfiel said. Under the city’s current tax rate, each $5,000 increment of the average senior’s home value translates to a reduction of about $31 in property taxes. For a home valued at $100,000,
RISDboard calls $750Mbond election
CRIME STATS Crime is on the decline in Richardson, according to the latest year-end report from the city police department.
BY WILLIAM C. WADSACK
RICHARDSON ISD Voters will have the chance to decide on a $750 million bond package for the district as part of the May 1 election. Trustees called the bond election, which will cover capital and tech- nology improvements by way of two separate propositions in the amounts of $694 million and $56 million, during the board’s Feb. 8 meeting. RISD Chief Financial Officer David Pate said the proposed package would not require a tax rate increase. Voters can get more information on the bond package at www.risd.org/ bond2021. BONDBREAKDOWN The package will include two propositions for voters to weigh in on.
BY OLIVIA LUECKEMEYER
RICHARDSON Crime saw a 2% drop in 2020, according to the city police department’s most recent year-end report. There were 6,552 known crimes and 2,217 arrests made locally in 2020, Police Chief Jimmy Spivey told members of City Council at a Feb. 8 meeting. “We’ve been very successful in our crime strategy and deploy- ments,” Spivey said, adding that people staying home more due to the COVID-19 pandemic also likely played a role in the decrease. The biggest decrease was seen in the number of residential burglar- ies—down by 31% from 127 incidents in 2019 to 87 last year. This category has seen consistent declines since 2009, which Spivey attributed to the ramp-up of neighborhood watch programs, the switch to data-driven policing and the increased prevalence of home surveillance systems.
SOURCE: RICHARDSON POLICE DEPARTMENT/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Business burglaries, however, were up 35% in 2020, from 167 in 2019 to 225 last year. One of the department’s biggest concerns is the uptick in car thefts, which saw a 19% increase in 2020 to 289 incidents. This category has been on the rise, Spivey said. “The technology got ahead of the thieves five years ago, but I think the thieves have figured out a way to get ahead of the technology,” he said. Automobile thefts are a problem across the state, Spivey said. How- ever, much of these crimes could be prevented; about 27% of cars stolen in Richardson last year had the keys in them, he added. Business robberies are up per- centage-wise, but the actual change in incidents—from 19 in 2019 to 22 last year—is still low, Spivey said.
Improvements to buildings, buses and vehicles Tech improvements
SOURCE: RICHARDSON ISD/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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