HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION
VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 APRIL 230, 2021
Taking stock of a pandemic
A Y E A R O F N U M B E R S
A Y E A R O F T R A U M A
“Change is dicult, and just as it was dicult to transition from work to home, the transition back will likely require patience and an oering of grace.” RENAE VANIA TOMCZAK, CEO, MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA OF GREATER HOUSTON
A Y E A R O F R E C O V E R Y
Business, community leaders reect on local challenges, changes
COVID19 local data, from case counts to the vaccine rollout
Expert advises prioritizing mental health 15
A Y E A R O F U N C E R T A I N T Y
How the city of Houston will avoid the eects of a devastating recession 19
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in River Oaks held a vigil for those who have died from COVID19. (Courtesy St. Luke’s United Methodist Church)
Houston ISD superintendent search is underway
and trust use.
Everyone deserves nonpartisan information they can
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HEIGHTS - RIVER OAKS - MONTROSE EDITION • APRIL 2021
WHAT DO HIPS, KNEES, AND ELBOWS HAVE TO DO WITH GOING ONE-ON-ONE? EVERYTHING.
If a bone, joint, or muscle condition is keeping you on the sidelines, Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center can help get you back in the game of life.. There’s nothing like a game of one-on-one…if your joints feel up to it. Remember, orthopedic pain doesn’t get better by waiting. It’s all about doing something now. And we can. Our specialists can address any bone or joint issue, from your neck to your toes. And it’s all done by treating you the way you want to be treated, one-on-one. Now’s the time to break free, be brave.
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FROMKRISTINA: Looking back on the last year, it is safe to say there have been a lot of newsworthy events, but many headlines have been dominated by COVID-19 news, statistics, research and so much more. In this edition we take a look at our state and local data as well as the stories of making it through the year and dealing with the toll of it all. Thank you for being a loyal reader making an impact in your community. Kristina Shackelford, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER
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FROMMATT: To try to capture all the year’s events in one print publication is impossible. However, we have brought a high-level look at the data as well as the on-the-ground experiences of how local businesses and leaders are coping. If there is one throughline, it is this: A community that comes together endures. Matt Dulin, SENIOR EDITOR
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HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION • APRIL 2021
Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding
T. C. JESTER BLVD.
W. 20TH ST.
W. 19TH ST.
Hungry Like the Wolf
W. 11TH ST.
COURTESY HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF
WHITE OAK PARK
WHITE OAK DR.
I N G T O N A
BUFFALO BAYOU PARK
COURTESY RAKKAN RAMEN
conrmed plans in March that it will open its rst Houston location at 3701 Travis St., in Midtown sometime this fall. The location will primarily serve to-go and delivery orders, including its signature walk-up window that stays open late, but it will also have a large patio space and a handful of indoor dine-in booths. www.homeslicepizza.com 9 Berg Hospitality Group, which last month announced two new concepts in Heights, is adding a third restaurant out- post to its 2021 plans. NoPo Cafe, Market & Bar will open in May at 1244 North Post Oak Road, just outside Loop 610, where Berg Hospitality’s headquarters is also based. The restaurant will oer breakfast, lunch and dinner with a 60-seat dining room, a 10-seat bar and a market space oering locally sourced items, premade meals and pastries. www.berghospitality.com RELOCATIONS 10 SignatureCare Emergency Center moved its Lower Westheimer-area clinic to 3209 Montrose Blvd., Houston, it an- nounced in February. The former location was vacated ahead of a demolition of the strip center at Westheimer Road and Montrose Boulevard. The free-standing emergency care center is open 24 hours a day. 281-479-3293. www.ercare24.com EXPANSIONS 11 The Story Church , an extension of St. Luke’s Methodist Church in River Oaks that was founded six years ago, formally began services in January at a new site at 8200 Washington Ave., Houston, on the rst oor of the Railway Heights devel- opment. The church focuses on outreach to nonreligious people and families, oering Sunday morning services as well
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NOWOPEN 1 The Monk’s , an Indian-Chinese restaurant, opened a Heights location March 12 at 126 Heights Blvd., Ste. 110. The restaurant, which has a Galleria location as well, oers a range of dishes inspired by Chinese and Indian cuisine, in- cluding spicy Szechuan avors, tandoori, noodles and a variety of appetizers. 713-869-1916. www.monksusa.com 2 The ’80s-themed diner Hungry Like the Wolf opened March 15 at 920 Studemont St., Houston. The menu covers breakfast, lunch and dinner with American diner-style oerings, ranging from pancakes and waes to burgers and sandwiches to chicken fried steak and meatloaf. It also features a cocktail menu. 346-320-2622. www.hungrylikethewolf.com 3 The Portland-based chain Voodoo Doughnut opened its new Montrose location at 1214 Westheimer Road on March 31. The location mark’s the chain’s second in Houston and features a mural of doodle art with icons representing the city and neighborhood, as well as a velvet painting of Houston-born director Wes Anderson. The doughnut shop employs 70 people and is open 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. The chain expects to open three more shops in 2021, including
the space of the former Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Named for chef Lance Fegen, the restaurant will oer an Italian-leaning menu with items ranging from steaks with au jus and chicken schnitzel to Nea- politan-style pizza and linguine with clam sauce. The restaurant will also feature Fegen’s Bar with its own cocktail program and menu. Fegen’s will open with dinner service rst before rolling out lunch and brunch hours, according to a news release. www.fegens.com 7 The Houston Farmers Market, 2520 Airline Drive, has announced two new restaurants for the nearly 18-acre site, which is undergoing a massive redevelop- ment and expansion eort by MLB Part- ners. In February, the market announced Underbelly Hospitality’s culinary director Nick Fine will debut A Wild Oats , a con- cept that will focus on “the history and traditions of Texas cuisine,” according to a Facebook post. In March, the Viet-Cajun restaurant B Crawsh & Noodles an- nounced it would open a 3,300-square- foot restaurant featuring James Beard Award nalist Trong Nguyen’s takes on crawsh, crab, chicken wings, fried rice and authentic Vietnamese dishes. www.thehoustonfarmersmarket.com 8 The Austin-based Home Slice Pizza
at least one more in Houston. www.voodoodoughnut.com
4 Milano Nail Spa , a local chain of nail salons, opened a Heights location on March 21 at 2799 Katy Freeway, Ste. 130, Houston. The salon oers manicures, pedicures, nail enhancements, waxing and facials with complimentary drink service. 281-974-2033. www.milanonailspatheheights.com COMING SOON 5 The Japanese chain Rakkan Ramen is expected to open its M-K-T location, 600 N. Shepherd Drive, Ste. 515, Houston, in April. The restaurant uses only plant- based ingredients in its broth, though soups can include a variety of protein sources, including eggs and pork. Rakkan was founded in 2011 and, along with three locations in Japan, has ve U.S. locations and four more in the works, including the Heights. www.rakkanramen.com 6 F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group announced in February it would debut Fegen’s , a new restaurant, this spring at 1050 Studewood St., Houston, taking
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
COMPILED BY MATT DULIN
Crawsh & Noodles
The Story Church
COURTESY CRAWFISH & NOODLES
COURTESY THE STORY CHURCH
School campus, 3325 Westheimer Road, Houston. The Elizabeth Ann Sauer Alumni Center was named for the 1962 graduate whose $500,000 donation supported the creation of the center, which will feature a history of the school going back to 1937. The Judy Allen Robotics Playpen was named for the 1957 graduate who became among the rst women to earn a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University and supported the creation and development of the Lamar robotics program. The school’s 100-yard synthetic turf eld will be named Coach- es’ Field at the request of a $1 million donor. Andrew White Gymnasium was named for a benefactor of Lamar athlet- ics who with the help of others contribut- ed about $710,000 to the school. Several more school features were given names as part of the agenda item as well. www.houstonisd.org CLOSINGS 15 Landmark’s River Oaks Theatre , 2009 W. Gray St., Houston, closed March 25 after failed negotiations to renew its lease, despite eorts organized by the Houston Film Critics Society and others to support the theater. A group called the Friends of River Oaks Theatre hosted a fundraiser for former workers March 27 and is discussing ways to revive the venue. In a statement, Weingarten Realty, which owns the building, said the theater had not paid rent since March 2020. The art deco movie theater originally opened in 1939 and had been owned by Landmark Theatres since 1976. https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOf RiverOaksTheatre
as small-group networks, Bible study and social events. The church oers in-person service but is operating at 75% capacity, requires masks and practices social dis- tancing. Online services are also oered. http://thestory.church ANNIVERSARIES 12 Locally owned gym O Athletik marks its fth year in business in April at 767 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston. The 35,000 square-foot facility oers a full-service experience with equipment, classes and trainers, as well as a boxing ring and MMA octagon, swimming pool, cafe, sauna and steam room, outdoor hill, and adult sports leagues. The gym also oers children’s programming and after-school training for high school athletes. 713-320-2450. www.oathletik.com SCHOOL NOTES 13 The Timbergrove-area Houston ISD campus Sinclair Elementary School , 6410 Grovewood Lane, will add a mod- ular building to help add capacity in the 2021-22 school year ahead of project- ed enrollment increases, the district announced. To make way for the addition, the district initially planned to remove as many as 23 of the 200 trees on the campus, but after working with parent feedback, reduced this number by about half, according to a press release. The school had an enrollment of 589 in 2019-20. www.houstonisd.org 14 On March 11, the Houston ISD board of trustees approved the naming of several features of the Lamar High
The renovated hotel mansion includes the new Bar No. 3.
COURTESY LA COLOMBE D’OR HOTEL
FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN After an extensive renovation and residential tower construction project, the reimagined La Colombe d’Or Hotel , 3411 Yoakum Blvd., Houston, opened March 29. “We are thrilled to introduce the redesigned La Colombe d’Or Hotel to the city of Houston and guests travelling from around the world,” said Dan Zimmerman, principal of La Colombe d’Or Hotel, in a news release. The Zimmerman family, which has owned the hotel for over 40 years, worked with Hines and TH Real Estate to develop the property. Alongside the 1923 La Colombe d’Or Mansion rises the new Residences at La Colombe d’Or, which oers 18 hotel suites as well as 265 luxury residential units across 34 oors. The apartment units opened for tenants in August. Completing the campus is The Garden Bungalows, a set of nine suites sharing a courtyard across the street from the residential tower. Hotel guests can enjoy multiple gardens; a private park; a tness facility and a pool with downtown views; Bar No. 3 and full-service restaurant
COURTESY LA COLOMBE D’OR HOTEL
Tonight & Tomorrow; in-room dining; and a private collection of over 350 pieces of art. Hotel rates begin at $500. 713-524-7999. www.lacolombedor.com
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HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION • APRIL 2021
COMPILED BY EMMA WHALEN
THROUGH APRIL 24
‘OBRAS’ ART EXHIBIT ART LEAGUE HOUSTON
RAULMALO IN CONCERT HEIGHTS THEATER
THROUGH DEC. 12
‘TIME NO LONGER’ BUFFALO BAYOU CISTERN
Texas-based Celia Álvarez Muñoz, a recipient of Art League Houston’s lifetime achievement award, presents an exhibit at the organization’s Montrose headquarters. By appointment only, visitors can view the exhibit, “Obras,” which features mixed-media work combining photography and design. Free. 1953 Montrose Blvd., Houston. 713-523-9530. www.artleaguehouston.org (Courtesy Celia Álvarez Muñoz)
Raul Malo, frontman of Grammy-winning band The Mavericks, brings his solo performance to the Heights Theater for three nights of performances. The genre- uid artist brings together Latin, rock and country alongside special guest Whitney Rose. 5:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. $34-$544. 339 W. 19th St., Houston. 214-272-8346. www.heightstheater.com (Courtesy Heights Theater)
A new installation, “Time No Longer,” in place at the Bualo Bayou Cistern debuted March 12 and runs through Dec. 12. The immersive art installation projects the image of a turntable set to 1940s-era string arrangement “Quartet for the End of Time” inside the Bualo Bayou Cistern, an underground water catchment. $8-$12. 105 Sabine St., Houston. 713-752-0314. www.bualobayou.org (Courtesy Lawrence Knox)
APRIL 10 BEATLES COVER BAND Beatles cover band Beetle will perform at Marmion Park as a part of an outdoor concert series organized by the Houston Heights Association. The show is the second of three monthly performances. More details about a May 8 concert are forthcoming. Social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols are enforced. 3-5 p.m. Free. 1800 Heights Blvd., Houston. 713-861-4002. www.houstonheights.com 10 LEVY PARK CONCERT SERIES Upper Kirby’s Levy Park continues its concert series with the John Richardson Band. Visitors can listen to the band at the park and purchase food and drinks from park-side restaurant Love Shack. Woodshed Smokehouse, adjacent to the park, is also open for reservations on its expanded patio and takes to-go orders. Blankets are permitted, but guests cannot bring chairs or furniture. COVID-19 social distancing and mask- wearing are enforced. 5-7 p.m. Free. 713-522-7275. 3801 Eastside St., Houston. www.levyparkhouston.org 10 AND 30 SUPPORT BLACK BUSINESSES The BLCK Market Houston takes shape on the rst Friday and second Saturday of each month at the Bualo Soldier Museum. The market features local Black vendors selling food, produce and a variety of products. The market also allows vendors to sell products on its website. 1-5 p.m. Free (entry, suggested $5 donation). 3816 Caroline St., Houston. www.blckmarkethouston.com 17 READ SOUTHALL BANDAT WHITE OAKMUSIC HALL Read Southall Band, a country music group, will perform a socially distanced
show at White Oak Music Hall’s lawn. The lawn is equipped with “pods” for individual parties to occupy while maintaining distance from other guests to best comply with COVID-19 safety measures. 7 p.m. $180-$225 (pods of six tickets). 2915 N. Main St., Houston. 713- 237-0370. www.whiteoakmusichall.com 17 MEMLI COFFEE TASTING Memli Coee, which roasts its coee in River Oaks, hosts a monthly tasting at the downtown coworking space The Annex HTX. A limited number of guests will sample eight brews over a two-hour class. Memli supplies to several local coee shops and the Houston Texans. 1 p.m. $35. 2007 Commerce St., Houston. www.memlicoee.com 27 LUNCHEON FOR AHOUSTON WITHOUT HOMELESSNESS SEARCH, an organization responsible for helping Houstonians nd permanent housing, will host its biannual fundraising eort at Silver Street Studios in Sawyer Yards. The 2021 Luncheon for a Houston Without Homelessness takes place both via livestream and in person with the in-person event limited to two guests per table to accommodate COVID-19 safety precautions. 11:30 a.m. $500-$25,000. 713-739-7752. 2000 Edwards St., Houston. www.searchhomeless.org THROUGH JUNE 12 ‘AT THE ENDOF THE TUNNEL’ An end-of-pandemic-themed exhibit, “At the End of The Tunnel” at Spring Street studios, presents art centered on the approaching re-emergence of “normal” life. Works explore what aspects of daily life individuals yearn to return to while also considering what changes may be benecial to hold onto in the long run. Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. 1824 Spring St., Houston. www.sawyeryards.com
The Urban Harvest Farmers Market is held weekly. (Courtesy Urban Harvest)
FARMERSMARKETS As warmer weather arrives, check out these local farmers markets oering goods from local artisans and producers.
HeightsMercantile FarmersMarket Second and fourth Sundays of each month 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 714 Yale St., Houston www.heightsmercantile.com HeightsMorningMarket Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 2122 Center St., Houston www.facebook.com/heightsmorningmarket UrbanHarvest FarmersMarket Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon 2752 Bualo Speedway, Houston www.urbanharvest.org
Find more or submit local 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.
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TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Federal, county ocials’ concerns prompt further reviewof I45 plans The proposed $7 billion reroute and expansion of I-45 through Hous- ton hit two new roadblocks. concerns voiced by elected ocials and advocacy groups noting as currently proposed, the design requires the relocation of hundreds of businesses and residences in
COMPILED BY MATT DULIN & EMMA WHALEN
of mid-March. Improvements range from adding crosswalks and curb extensions to restriping lanes and adding bike facilities. Timeline: fall-winter Cost: $25,000 (Bagby project only) Funding sources: Council District C Service Fund (Bagby), partners being sought for future phases
W. GRAY ST.
A lawsuit led by Harris County and a federal inquiry into potential violations of the Civil Rights Act, both led March 11, prompted further review despite the proposal reaching several critical milestones. The Harris County lawsuit alleges TxDOT failed to adequately consider the full environmental ramications of the project in its nal environ- mental impact statement, a federally required step. “We’ve been good-faith partners to TxDOT. We’ve done everything we could to move this project for- ward, but it has come time to pursue legal recourse,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. Similarly, a letter from the Federal Highway Administration sent March 11 requested TxDOT put the project on pause. The letter cited
W. ALABAMA ST.
predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the East End, FifthWard and Northside. As of press time, regional leaders were still unsure how the actions of the county and federal govern- ments would impact the scope and timeline of the project. “We were looking forward to con- tinuing our work with stakeholders on rening the plans for the project, but these plans may now be in jeopardy due to the lawsuit. We look forward to discussing our eorts to mitigate concerns about implement- ing the [Houston-Galveston Area Council]'s vision for I-45,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass wrote in a statement to Community Impact Newspaper.
MKT SPUR EXTENSION
WHITE OAK BAYOU
Montrose-area safety projects Houston’s Planning and Development Department and City Council Member Abbie Kamin’s oce have developed six “quick action” projects as part of a broad- er eort to improve trac and pedestrian safety. The sites were identied over the course of almost a year of input from stakeholders, including advocacy groups Bike Houston and Link Houston. The rst project will redesign the Bagby Street/El- gin Street/Westheimer Road intersection. The other ve targeted intersections are Richmond Avenue at Spur 527, Taft Street at Westheimer, Taft at Fairview Street, Taft at West Gray Street and Westheimer at Crocker Street; however, the Bagby project was the only funded project as
MKT Spur trail extension While the trail bridge awaits repairs, Houston Public Works announced a new project in March that will connect the Heights-area MKT Trail to the White Oak Trail nearby. The trail extension, called the MKT Spur, will include a new bridge structure and will tie the MKT to the Houston Heritage Corridor West Trail along Studemont Street. Timeline: summer-fall Cost: $950,000 Funding source: city of Houston
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HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION • APRIL 2021
PUBLIC SAFETY Mayor promotes Troy Finner to fill sudden police chief vacancy
The Finner file
“When we talk in terms of trust and building relationships ... it’s just as important in the criminal justice arena, and it’s time everybody takes some responsibility,” Finner said. “It’s time to stop throwing stones and sit down with each other.” Addressing recommendations from the Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force, which the city has fallen behind in implementing under the task force’s suggested timeline, Finner said he and Turner are committed to putting most of the proposals in place. “We agreed to roll them out, and the mayor is going to call us and order us to roll them out, so we should be seeing something really, really soon here,” Finner said. When Finner’s appointment was made, Brown said she hoped it repre- sented a change in relations between HPD and advocacy groups. “We’re alongside them. We’re pounding pavement to try to ensure that justice is certain, people are safe and that our community is not being terrorized by the people who are supposedly there to help them,” she said. Hometown: Houston Former position: executive assistant chief, Houston Police Department Experience: 31 years in the Houston Police Department Chief’s duties: • Oversees 6,400 employees, including 5,300 classified (patrol officers, investigators, etc.), 100 cadets and 1,000 civilian (support staff) • Manages $900 million budget SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTON/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
BY EMMA WHALEN
He said he appreciated Turner looking within the department for Acevedo’s replacement and echoed Turner’s remarks. “If you are Caucasian, Black, whatever you are, you have your own life experiences. People are different, and I don’t care if it’s their politics or what, you give validation to a person’s experiences,” Finner said. The department shakeup comes alongside a rise in the city’s homicide rate, surpassing 400 murders in 2020. Although Turner said Acevedo’s announcement was a surprise, he said with two years left in his final term, he knew there was a possibility Acevedo would leave. “In this business, I have hired people from other cities, and I’m sure it was a surprise to those mayors,” Turner said. “It happens all the time, and what I will say to people is that everybody is here for a particular season, and no one is here forever.” At a farewell press conference March 16, Acevedo said he chose to move to Miami because Mayor Fran- cis Suarez personally recruited him and because it is where his family first arrived from Cuba. Acevedo also downplayed his polit- ical future, saying he has no intention of running for office in Texas and that he considers his views ill suited for both Democrats and Republicans. He added he turned down a position in President Joe Biden’s administration and considered running for L.A. County sheriff but opted to continue with what he knows best.
Troy Finner, executive assistant chief of the Houston Police Depart- ment, is the city’s new chief of police. “My goal was to find someone who was fully capable of leading this department from Day 1 who knows the city, its neighborhoods and its people and someone who would work every single day to gain and maintain the trust of our diverse community,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. The appointment, announced March 18, came days after news of former Chief Art Acevedo’s departure was made public, raising concerns among some criminal justice reform advocates such as Houston Justice organizer Karla Brown. “When you think about the magnitude of this decision, it would be best to at least give an opportunity for the community to provide input,” Brown said. Brown added, however, that the group supports the choice. “Just before the winter storm, he was riding around checking on homes ... and he was out canvassing the homeless encampments,” she said. “I had never seen anyone at his level out there working and making sure people got the resources they need.” Fresh start Finner has served in the Houston Police Department since 1990, working in several divisions and ultimately overseeing field support operations and 15 patrol divisions.
“I love cops; I love being a cop, and I love being on patrol,” he said. Different approach Acevedo also used his farewell address to question bail reform efforts in Harris County, which he attributed to rising homicide rates. In 2017, Harris County began requiring courts to release most misdemeanor defen- dants prior to trial. Those include drug possession, trespassing, theft and driving while intoxicated. “No matter how good the leadership cadre is, you cannot have a criminal justice system that absolutely allows violent criminals to go in one door and out the other,” Acevedo said. A court-ordered independent study, however, found the amount of misdemeanor defendants who commit felonies within a year of getting released, about 13%, remained stable in the two years leading up to the county’s bail reform efforts and the two years following. The study has been issued in two installments so far, and further analysis is ongoing. Finner’s tone differed when speak- ing about the justice system.
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News from Houston ISD
COMPILED BY MATT DULIN
Texas Supreme Court upholds injunction in takeover case
HOUSTON ISD The Texas Supreme Court has allowed an injunction to remain in place blocking the Texas Education Agency from implementing a takeover of the Houston ISD board of trustees. The 8-1 ruling March 19 represents a setback for the
agency, but the court battle is not over. “While this very narrow technical ruling further delays action that will help the 200,000-plus students of HISD, we agree with Chief Justice Hecht, who well captured in his dissenting opinion the current reality:
‘This case has been on appeal for more than a year, with the wellbeing of school children in limbo,’” the TEA said in statement. In another pending case, judges could consider other merits of the takeover case. Attorney General Ken Paxton led a request for a Supreme
Court review in February seeking a ruling in favor of the TEA to allow it to resume its takeover action. In an appeals court ruling in December, however, HISD was found to have “a prob- able right to the relief.” But since that case was limited to the appropriateness of an
injunction, it did not speci- cally rule on the merits. The TEA originally ordered the takeover in November 2019, citing a state law requiring intervention when a campus fails to meet state academic standards for more than ve years, as well as other infractions.
District committee votes against innovation plan
District working to hire a superintendent by June HOUSTON ISD The search for a new leader for the state’s largest school district James Guerra told trustees in February. The district’s board of
state-mandated assess- ments. Statewide, almost 900 districts districts are using this policy exemption. Two other key plan provi- sions called for waiving the requirement for a certica- tion for teachers of career and technical education courses and allowing exi- bility on the attendance rule that requires the physical presence of students for 90% of class time to earn credit. The plan stated this could allow students to earn credit based on “mastery of skills as opposed to the amount of seat time” and could allow for alternative schedules. The plan itself was developed through a separate District of Inno- vation Committee with one representative for each trustee district and six HISD stamembers, and more than 80 other stakeholders were consulted during focus group sessions as well. “For such a large district, I think we’ve had pretty representative and really strong feedback in the pro- cess,” said August Hamilton, a manager in the strategy and innovation oce, told Community Impact Newspa- per in an interview before the DAC vote. If the plan had been approved by the DAC, the board of trustees would have been next to give the plan a vote before it could be implemented.
HOUSTON ISD A monthslong process to develop a District of Innovation plan is not moving forward after a key governance group refused to back the measure. The District Advisory Committee, a group com- posed of teachers, parents and community members, held a public hearing March 25 over the administration’s detailed proposal to enact the plan. The committee then voted the measure down during its regular business, which was not live- streamed to the public. The district did not issue
a statement after the vote. The draft plan itself, as well as records of previous meeting minutes and other information about the Dis- trict of Innovation proposal, were no longer available on the HISD website as of March 30. The innovation plan had called for exibility around three Texas Education Agency policies. One would have allowed the school dis- trict to begin classes before the state’s ocial start date, the fourth Monday in August. By starting earlier, propo- nents said, students can get more class time prior to the
began in mid-March with gathering community feed- back on what the search rm JG Consulting should look for in the high-prole hire. “My goal is to identify the best superintendent to serve the students of Houston ISD,” JG Consulting CEO Search timeline JG Consulting group has been charged with helping identify a sole nalist by the end of May. March 1-26: Stakeholder and public input is gathered. April 8: Firm presents community ndings and leadership prole to trustees for approval. April 9-30: Applications are accepted. May 9: Prescreened applicant packages are presented to trustees. May 13-14: First round of interviews is held. May 20-21: Final round of interviews is held. May 24: Sole nalist is named. June 17: New superintendent takes oce. SOURCE: HOUSTON ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
trustees is hoping to name a sole nalist by the end of May. Interim Superin- tendent Grenita Lathan is stepping down at the end of the school year to take a new position in Springeld, Missouri. The board in November declined to name Lathan the permanent super- intendent, opting instead to resume a national search that had been halted by the Texas Education Agency in 2019. A series of 20 public Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings were held March 22-26. Those sessions, along with a community survey, will inform the creation of a leadership prole that will guide recruiting eorts. From there, the ocial job posting will be published, applications will be vetted and a selection of candidates will be interviewed by the board of trustees.
The draft District of Innovation plan oered additional guidance on how the proposed policy exemptions could be implemented. Exemptions examined
Teacher certication Exemption: allow career and technical teachers without certication Guidance: ensure sta and parents are given sucient notice of calendar changes Start date Exemption: allow school year to start before fourth Monday in August
90%attendance rule Exemption: allow students to earn credit with reduced attendance Guidance: limit exception to middle and high school students and track usage
MEETINGS WE COVER
The Houston ISD board of education will next meet at 5 p.m. April 8. Meetings are streamed at www.houstonisd.org.
Guidance: oer mandatory training, require certication by fth year of service
SOURCE: HOUSTON ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION • APRIL 2021
News from city of Houston & Harris County
Houston City Council meets weekly at 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays for public comment and 9 a.m. Wednesdays for regular business at 901 Bagby St., Houston. Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv. Harris County Commissioners Court will meet at 10 a.m. April 13. Live meeting video is available at www.harriscountytx.gov. MEETINGSWE COVER Houston Emergency Medical Director Dr. David Persse said. MARCH4 Houston became the first city in Texas to commit to forming a database of LGBTQ Enterprise-certified businesses for city contractors to use to ensure diversity among subcontractor and vendor participation in city projects. CITY HIGHLIGHTS MARCH22 The Houston Fire Department and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department began a series of controlled burns at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center at West Loop 610 and Woodway Drive through April 2. The measure helps prevent wildfires by clearing debris and vegetation that has dried out. The last time a prescribed burn was used was over 20 years ago, according to a news release. MARCH 15 The Hire Houston Youth Job Board opened at www.hirehoustonyouth.org with positions for people age 16 to 24 in government, corporations and nonprofit agencies. The city of Houston alone planned to hire as many as 500 through the annual program. MARCH8 Newly released data showed that as of Feb. 22, the U.K. variant made up 19% of the total amount of coronavirus in the city. That number, however, does not mean that 19% of individuals infected with the virus had the U.K. variant because the amount of virus present in a person varies, QUOTEOFNOTE “WHEN IT COMES TO VACCINES, TRULY, NOONE GETS LEFT BEHIND—THAT’S OURMANTRA, AND THAT’SWHATWE’RE GOING TO CONTINUE TOPUSH FOR.” HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE LINA HIDALGO, ADDRESSING EFFORTS TO ENSURE BLACK AND HISPANIC COMMUNITIES HAVE ACCESS TO COVID-19 VACCINES
State lawmakers’ proposed election reforms draw rebuke fromHidalgo
City restricts use of scooters
BY SHAWN ARRAJJ
BY EMMA WHALEN
residents are allowed to vote by mail if they are disabled, though voters do not have to provide proof of disability. Among SB 7’s changes is a requirement for voters to provide medical proof of disability before being allowed to vote by mail. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo blasted this provision at a March 15 press conference. “Senate Bill 7 and related legislation is a poll tax designed or disguised as election integrity,” Hidalgo said. “It’s clearly a direct response to the massive success we had in Harris County last year in terms of accessible and secure elections.” Harris County’s budget for the November elections, most of which was covered by federal relief $27million SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
HARRIS COUNTY As a band of state lawmakers looks to move forward with a bill they said would strengthen election integrity in Texas, leaders in Harris County and members of voter rights organiza- tions said the legislation is likely to make it more difficult to vote, espe- cially for vulnerable populations. Senate Bill 7, jointly filed March 11 by 13 state senators, would prohibit polling locations from being open past 7 p.m., prevent counties from sending out mail ballot applications unless requested by a voter and prohibit drive-thru voting. In the November election, Harris County operated several 24-hour voting locations and drive-thru locations. Additionally, the Harris County Clerk’s Office sent out mail ballot applications to all residents age 65 and older. Under existing law, all Texas
HOUSTON Electric scooters will no longer be allowed on sidewalks, parking spaces and city-owned property downtown as well as in the Galleria area and in Greenway Plaza under a new ordinance adopted March 24. Riders can still use the scooters in these areas of town but must do so on the street or risk a fine, according to the ordinance. Scooter rental busi- nesses are also no longer allowed to operate on sidewalks or at city parks. “There have been reports of collisions; there have been reports of pets getting hurt. ... We are trying to move these scooter companies to private property,” said ParkHouston Assistant Director Maria Irshad, who presented the ordinance changes to a City Council committee March 4. Scooter business owners may face criminal citations and have scooters impounded under the new ordinance.
Public parks begin phased reopening
Houston City Council OKsmeasure to prevent water bill spikes caused byWinter StormUri
BY EMMA WHALEN
BY EMMA WHALEN HOUSTON About 1 in 4 households experienced a leak or disruption of water service during February’s Winter Storm Uri, Houston Public Works reported. Houston City Council approved a measure March 10 to prevent a spike in water bills frommeters registering and overcharging residents for leaking water. A previous ordinance in place cov- ered 50% of a bill increase related to leaks but was expanded to fully cover leak-related costs in February. “The current ordinance is insuffi- cient in addressing the magnitude and impact of the winter storm,” said Erik Dunn, Houston Public Works assistant director. For residents in single-family homes, all water bills will be adjusted to either the same amount they paid in the previous month or the average amount they paid for the 12 months preceding the storm. The department
will bill residents the lesser of the two amounts, Dunn told council. For apartment complexes and multifamily buildings, property managers will need to apply for an adjusted bill and submit an insur- ance claim or report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to document proof of damage. The adjustment will follow the same calculations as the single-family adjustment, officials said. Any water customers who received a water bill affected by the storm before the ordinance was passed will get a credit toward their next bill, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. Late fees were also suspended between Feb. 15 and March 15. Public works will continue to provide water for those behind on bills rather than disconnecting service. Amoratorium on service disconnections began in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOUSTON City-operated parks began allowing sports, playground use and pavilion rentals, among other activities, in March. Until further notice, 40 community centers; all swimming pools; the North Wayside Sports Center; and the Lake HoustonWilderness Park’s dining hall, group camping sites and group lodges remain closed. The Metropolitan Multi-Service Center will also remain closed except for outdoor activities.
• Baseball and softball fields • Other sports fields • Playgrounds • Outdoor exercise stations • Tennis courts for tournaments WHAT’S OPEN
• Small picnic
bootcamps • Basketball courts (rims • re-installed) • Youth and adult sports leagues
SOURCE: CITY OF HOUSTON/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
Get to know this Arts District hot spot
COMPILED BY MATT DULIN
SHEARN ST. SPRING ST.
Sawyer Yards is the linchpin of the Arts District, spanning an array of former warehouses and other retrotted properties. Known for its artist studios, the area oers a thriving hub of retail, restaurants and events and is attracting a residential boom with close to 1,000 apartment units coming online across three developments. Here is a look at some of the businesses taking up shop in Sawyer Yards.
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ARTIST STUDIOS 1 Sabine Street Studios 1907 Sabine St., Houston 2 The Silos at Sawyer Yards 1502 Sawyer St., Houston 3 Silver Street Studios 2000 Edwards St., Houston 4 Spring Street Studios 1824 Spring St., Houston 5 Summer Street Studios 2204 Summer St., Houston 6 Winter Street Studios 2101 Winter St., Houston 713-993-9823 www.sawyeryards.com FOOD&DINING 7 Awesome Bites Co. 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 185, Houston 832-582-0118 www.awesomebitesco.com 8 B&B Butchers & Restaurant 1814 Washington Ave, Houston 713-862-1814 www.bbbutchers.com 9 Bualo Bayou Brewing Co. 2101 Summer St., Houston 713-714-3335 www.burew.com 10 City Orchard Cidery 1201 Oliver St., Ste. 108, Houston 832-648-7773 www.cityorchardhtx.com 11 Dumpling Haus 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 180, Houston 832-781-1807 dumplinghaushtx.com 12 Fainmous BBQ 1201 Oliver St., Ste. 50, Houston 713-728-9663 www.fainmousbbq.com 13 Holler Brewing Co. 2206 Edwards St., Houston 832-781-0555 www.hollerbeer.com 14 Inside Evolutions 1502 Sawyer St., Ste. 107, Houston 713-880-2329 www.insideevolutions.com 15 Local Pho 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 145, Houston 281-501-2705 www.localpho.com
16 Loft18 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 200, Houston 713-505-1981 www.loft18.com 17 Platypus Brewing 1902 Washington Ave., Ste. E, Houston 832-742-5503 www.platypusbrewing.com 18 Sticky’s Chicken 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 190, Houston 832-767-5611 www.getstickys.com 19 Tacodeli 1902 Washington Ave., Ste. D, Houston 713-357-7770 www.tacodeli.com 20 Toros HTX 2202 Summer St., Houston 713-858-6673 www.toroshtx.com 21 Urban South 1201 Oliver St., Ste. 10, Houston 713-750-9670 www.urbansouthbrewery.com 22 Unbridaled 1502 Sawyer St., Ste. 105, Houston 832-767-0407 www.unbridaled.com 23 Urban Axes 1201 Oliver St., Ste. 106, Houston 713-364-9896 www.urbanaxes.com 24 Wolfgang Puck Catering 1201 Oliver St., Ste. 104, Houston 713-352-8407 www.wolfgangpuck.com SHOPPING, BEAUTY & FITNESS 25 Ageless and Beautiful Med Spa of Houston 1505 Sawyer St., Houston 832-879-4032 www.agelesshouston.com 26 Artbinsters 1502 Sawyer St., Ste. 102, Houston 346-354-6542 www.artbinsters.com 27 Bayou City Smiles 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 150, Houston
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Silver Street Studios
Winter Street Studios
PHOTOS BY MATT DULINCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
OPEN STUDIOS & MARKETS Second Saturday of the month: Open studios from noon-5 p.m. at all studio buildings with an outdoor market oering art, locally crafted goods and packaged food Third Saturday of the month: Silver Street opens from noon to 5 p.m. Parking is available at 2101 Winter St. and 1824 Spring St. For information on events, exhibitions and more, visit www.sawyeryards.com.
32 Love Dance HTX 2206 Edwards St., Ste. B, Houston 832-781-1735 www.lovedancehtx.com 33 Mania! 1502 Sawyer St., Ste. 103, Houston www.maniatx.com 34 Momentum Indoor Climbing 1401 Silver St., Houston 832-433-7211 www.momentumclimbing.com 35 My Salon Suite 2200 Edwards St., Houston 832-378-8371 www.mysalonsuite.com 36 Orangetheory Fitness 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 135, Houston 832-916-2138 www.orangetheory.com
713-518-1411 www.bayoucitysmiles.com 28 Cyclebar 2102 Edwards St., Ste. A, Houston 832-210-1110 www.cyclebar.com 29 Harper & Jones 1902 Washington Ave., Ste. J, Houston 713-338-9133 www.harperandjones.com 30 High Fashion Home Warehouse 2282 Edwards St., Houston 713-862-1373 www.highfashionhome.com 31 Koko Fit Club 2219 Crockett St., Ste. C2, Houston 713-802-0397 http://houstonheights. kokotclub.com
37 Polish Parker and Roe Nail Spa 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 140, Houston 713-865-4000 www.polishparkerandroe.com 38 Sola Salon Studios 1818 Washington Ave., Houston 346-426-4773 www.solasalonstudios.com 39 Satori Salon 2313 Edwards St., Ste. 170, Houston 713-869-2444 www.satorisalon.com 40 Yoga Better 2000 Edwards St., Ste. 309, Houston 281-704-5578 www.yogabetter.com
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