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Wurzbach Parkway update

Construction over U.S. 281 starts this summer pg.14

COMMUNITY NEWS

Tragedy Vol. 2 Issue 06

HILL COUNTRY VILLAGE

HOLLYWOOD PARK

NORTH CENTRAL 78216 78232 78247

prompts school safety plan

pg. 08 Volunteers sought for Walking School Bus at NEISD campus

05/2014

local commentary SUSAN YERKES

pg. 03 What's

INSIDE your community

pg. 11 Flooding woes eased for Blossom Park City crews improve channel after residents meet with councilman

pg. 10 Oak-wilt warning sounded on North Side Getting rid of the fungal disease can be costly and damaging, experts say

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President Harold J. Lees Publisher Gregg Rosenfield

Assoc. Publisher Rick Upton

Editorial Executive Editor Thomas Edwards News Staff Collette Orquiz and Will Wright Contributing Writers Joyce Hotchkiss, J.E. Jordan, Lakendra Lewis, Travis E. Poling, Lucille Sims Thomas and Susan Yerkes ART Creative Director Lucía Rodríguez Production Designer Pete Morales Contributing Photographers Aiessa Ammeter and Joshua Michaels Contributing Illustrator Jeremiah Teutsch Advertising Advertising Director Jaselle Luna Account Manager Kelly Jean Garza, Amber Montemayor and Marc Olson Controller Keith Sanders READER SERVICE Mailing Address 4204 Gardendale Ste. 201 SA, TX 78229 Fax (210) 616.9677 Phone (210) 338.8842 Advertising Inquiries rupton@salocallowdown.com Story Ideas tips@salocallowdown.com Website www.salocallowdown.com

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staff takes the word "local" very seriously. That is why each month we feature short stories in the back of the newspaper focusing on relatively new businesses and dining spots/bars that have debuted in your neighborhood. Informal surveys indicate readers consider BUY LOCAL and EAT LOCAL among the most important articles in the newspaper. One caller recently told me, "I love reading those because they keep me informed about what's new down the street. My husband and I try to visit every restaurant featured in LOCAL." It warms my heart to hear such sentiments. One of LOCAL's main goals is keeping residents informed about what's going on close to their homes. That includes shining a spotlight on new businesses and restaurants. These establishments don't have to advertise with LOCAL, although there are times when we feature some of those. Our criteria for selecting these businesses and restaurants is pretty straightforward. They have to be new, opening within the last six months; the staff has to be accessible to a reporter; photography is permitted; and they have to offer viable products, goods or services. We occasionally feature older establishments, but only if they are changing hands, moving, significantly overhauling a menu or undergoing some kind of a radical change. Owners or managers approached by our reporters should know that thousands of potential customers read these stories … and many of them act on the information.

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local commentary

Goal for San Antonio is a no-kill city by susan yerkes

T

en years ago, San Antonians came face to face with a shameful reality. The gas chambers in the city pound were working overtime, killing 50,000 helpless animals a year —more than any other major city in the nation. For many years, animal activists had railed against the pound’s gas chambers. Back then, the idea of becoming a “no-kill” city seemed like a pipe dream to most. “It was horrific – a real black eye for San Antonio,” said Animal Defense League Director Janice Darling. “But since then, things have dramatically, dramatically improved.”

Today, with a new strategic plan, bond money, national grants and a number of partner organizations including the ADL, Humane Society, San Antonio Pets Alive!, low-cost spay and neuter providers and other nonprofits, folks at the city's Animal Care Services can talk about a vast improvement. And the dream of a “no-kill” city seems less like a fantasy. In the first three months of 2014, 80 percent of the thousands of unwanted animals passing through the pound found homes. In January, the city hit a historic high when an impressive 86 percent of all animals brought in to the pound left the new, improved ACS facility alive. The change has been driven by innovative strategies focused on three goals: Enhanced enforcement of animal ordinances; programs to reduce the number of roaming strays through education, outreach and more accessible and affordable spay and neuter programs; and continued efforts to increase the live release rate, according to ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood. Today the city has contracts with

several shelters to take dogs and cats that might otherwise be euthanized after a few days because of a lack of space. In February, the city and ADL broke ground on a new city-funded kennel and hospital facility at the ADL, which will house even more of the overflow animals from the pound when it opens next winter. Another new adoption facility, built on the remains of the sad old pound in Brackenridge Park, opened last year. Bottom line: Collectively, animal advocates are not just working hard, but working smarter, to deal with San Antonio’s stray, lost and homeless animals. But no matter how hard or smart they work, the problem isn’t going away. “When you say ‘stray animals,'’' Darling said, “you’re really talking about three different categories of animals: Pets whose owners can’t or don’t want to keep them, owned animals left unfettered to roam the streets, and feral dogs and cats that were born homeless.“ Spaying and neutering programs are a vital part of the picture. In 2012, an estimated 55,000 spay/neuter operations were performed by nonprofits such as

the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program and Spay Neuter Inject San Antonio, the major animal shelters and ACS. But motivating folks to take advantage of those programs isn’t easy. Last fall, the ADL was among nonprofit groups that shared a major grant to the city from PetCo to perform free spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations for pet owners living in specific ZIP codes with consistently high numbers of impounded animals. But more than half the folks who have made appointments for the service have failed to show up. “If we can motivate the community, it’s 99 percent of the battle,” Norwood said. “As a civilized community, we have to take better care of our animals, to keep stressing that pets are not just commodities," Darling added. Thousands of San Antonians are involved in the effort to save unwanted, stray or homeless animals, and that’s a big step in the right direction. But creating a culture of compassion and responsibility is the real key. How can you help? Email comments to syerkes@ salocallowdown.com


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may 2014 OUR GUIDE TO YOUR MONTH

Happening LOCAL

Plan your month with our calendar of upcoming events in the community.

JAVA WITH JOE Have a cup of coffee and a chat with District 9 Councilman Joe Krier, 9 to 11 a.m. every Monday at the field office inside the Frost Bank building, 16500 U.S. 281 North at Thousand Oaks Drive, Suite 290.

mondays

SNAKES ALIVE! Get a closeup look at native Texas snakes, including venomous ones. Expert Jeff Dominguez will talk about their distinctive characteristics, and participants can hold a friendly snake. There will be a craft for children, too. The program runs from 9 to 11 a.m. at Phil Hardberger Park East, 13203 Blanco Road. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.

may 3

May 15

may 17

HILL COUNTRY VILLAGE The City Council meets at 5 p.m. in City Hall, 116 Aspen Lane.

will hold a tournament with a fourperson-scramble format at Silverhorn Golf Club, 1100 W. Bitters Road, to raise money for charities. Registration is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with pre-games running from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Tee time is 1:30 p.m. The cost, $100 per player, covers green fees, a barbecue plate, beverages, a goodie bag and a raffle ticket. For more, call Alex Rivera at 834-7388 or Charlie Davis at 860-0403. THE NORTHEAST NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE meeting is 7 p.m. at the Tool Yard, 10303 Tool Yard, in the Northeast Service Center on the opposite side of Wurzbach Parkway from the Northeast Independent School District's Heroes Stadium.

GOLF TOURNAMENT Knights of Columbus Council 8065

May 19

May 20

HOLLYWOOD PARK The City Council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 2 Mecca Drive.

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RETIRED TEACHERS The North San Antonio Retired Teachers Association will open its monthly meeting with a “meet and greet” at 9:45 a.m.; the meeting begins at 10:15 a.m. and will include the presentation of a $1,000 scholarship. The meeting place is San Pedro Presbyterian Church, 14900 San Pedro Ave., and members are encouraged to bring a friend. This is the final meeting of the school year; the gatherings will resume Sept. 17 and will take place the third Wednesday of the month.

meets on the third Wednesday of the month (except for July and August).

SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION The San Antonio Chapter of the national organization will hold its monthly luncheon meeting at the Petroleum Club, 8620 N. New Braunfels Ave., at 11:30 a.m. Lunch costs $25. Reservations are required and should be made with Bob Clark, 4020871, or reservations@sarsat.org, by the Monday prior to the meeting. The chapter

DINOSAUR DAYS The San Antonio Public Library wraps up a two-month series of dino-themed Play & Learn programs from 10 a.m. to noon at Thousand Oaks Branch Library, 4618 Thousand Oaks Drive. The program combines stories, songs and hands-on activities for children 5 and younger (though all ages are welcome) and their parents,

May 21

may 21

CHRONIC PAIN SUPPORT GROUP Meetings take place the third Wednesday of the month at Baptist HealthLink, 188 W. Bitters Road, from 4 to 6 p.m. One main topic per hour is covered in the group discussions, which may be large or small. A syllabus and more information are available at http:// chronicpainsupportsa.wix.com/cpsgsa.

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GOD'S WONDERFUL WORLD OF WATER DAY CAMP & VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL This camp at San Pedro Presbyterian Church, 14900 U.S. 281 North, is open to students who have completed kindergarten through fifth grade at $50 per camper. It runs 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The program includes a morning themerelated field trip, puppet skits, science activities, Bible stories, crafts, snacks and games. The cost includes a sack lunch, fieldtrip admission, camp T-shirt and music CD. For more, call 494-6560 or register online at sppcsa.net. The church is between Bitters Road and Brook Hollow Boulevard.

june 10-13

Elsewhere in San Antonio S.A. ZOO SUMMER CAMPS daily Registration is under way for a variety of activities for children age 5 to 11, including both day and overnight Adventure Camps, Beyond the Gate: Zoo Design, and Jr. Zoo Crew. They kick off with the Olympic Animals Adventure Day Camp, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, June 2-6. Information on activities, prices and dates is available at www. sazoo.org; click on the Education tab and select Summer Camp 2014. You

can register at that site, or call 734-7184, extension 1503, for more information.

personnel. They can be purchased through a link at www.cameotheatre.org/.

GEMINI INK MENTORSHIP PROGRAM This year’s mentors are widely published and nationally recognized writers Nan Cuba, whose main focus is fiction, and Carmen Tafolla, a Chicana Literature standout and San Antonio’s first poet laureate. The mentorship runs from May to November and is geared to helping writers finish and polish manuscripts. The application deadline is May 15. To receive an application, call Gemini Ink at 734-9673. Information on required documents and fees is available at http://geminiink.org/.

TABLE TENNIS TOURNAMENT Games take place at Alamo Family Fitness Center, 16675 Huebner Road, starting at 9:30 a.m. both days. The San Antonio Table Tennis Club is sponsoring the tournament, which is USA Table Tennis-sanctioned. For an entry form, waiver and other information, go to http://satabletennis.org/ and click on the link under Club Events.

through may 15

WEEKends "GODSPELL" The popular Broadway show, based on through may 18 the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, gets a staging at the Cameo Theatre, 1123 E. Commerce St. The musical’s “Day by Day” was an international hit; the show’s songs bring the parables of Jesus Christ to life. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees are at 4. Tickets are $33, with reduced prices for seniors, students and military

may 3-4

CHURCH FESTIVAL St. Matthew Catholic Church and School’s annual fundraiser takes place over two days at the church, 10703 Wurzbach Road. From 6 to 10 p.m. May 3, it’s bingo plus arts and crafts in the McDonald Parish Center. On May 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., activities spread over the church grounds include prize drawings, food booths, music, games, rides and Trash and Treasures. There’s no charge to get in.

may 3-4

may 8-june 8

"THE FANTASTICKS" This muchloved show is being staged by the Sheldon Vexler Theater at

Barshop Jewish Community Center. Tickets run from $14 to $20 and are available by calling the Vex box office, 302-6835. Shows are Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Vexler Theater is at 12500 N.W. Military Highway. RAINDROP TURKISH HOUSE COOKING CLASSES These classes, for women only, demonstrate how to prepare Turkish dishes, and the menu changes every week. They take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Raindrop Turkish House, 4337 Vance Jackson Road; cost is $10 per session. The May 10 session will feature a sort of pita, with mushroom, cheese, ground beef and potato. Reservations are required, since seating may be limited; email rwasanantonio@ turkishhouse.org or call 979-422-9260.

may 10

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1. PHO FRESH VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT, 2895 Thousand Oaks Drive, bills itself as a "homestyle Vietnamese restaurant in San Antonio." The name of the familyowned restaurant comes from Vietnam’s most popular soup, known as pho. The menu includes traditional fare from Vietnam, plus vermicelli bowls, Thai food, Vietnamese hot pots and sushi. For more, call 495-0203 or visit http://www. phofresh.net/. (See story on page 16)

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2. OVER THE TOP CAKE SUPPLIES, 101 N.W. Loop 410, Suite 102, is a one-stop shop for all cake, candy and baking needs, according to the staff. An older store is at 10731 Interstate 35 North. Both stores offer classes that range from frosting tips to making gelatin and cupcakes. Hours at the 410 location are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more, call 475-3032 or visit the Facebook page at https://www. facebook.com/overthetopcakesupplies. (See story on page 17) 3. POPPY'S PIZZA, 7115 Blanco Road, Suite 107, is a new family-owned and operated New York-style pizza restaurant. The menu includes appetizers, garlic knots, stuffed mushrooms, wings, sweetpotato fries, jumbo all-beef hot dogs, New York cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli and rum-chocolate cake. A highlight is the

Big Poppy, a 28-inch pizza. Active-duty military, police and firefighters receive 10 percent off with identification. For more, including pickup or delivery, call 366-4000. 4. SEPHORA INSIDE JCPENNEY, 6909 N. Loop 1604 East in Rolling Oaks Mall, debuts in early May inside the department store to offer beauty and skincare products. The new 2,200-square-foot store, situated in the center of JCPenney, is a go-to beautification destination with nearly 50 brands. Product consultants with Sephora inside JCPenney are "well-educated in the beauty business," according to a release from the company. “We are thrilled to share Sephora inside JCPenney with the San Antonio community,” said Megan Davidson, beauty leader. The store features a beauty studio and several brand-name cosmetics, as well as Sephora's own line. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more, visit http://www.sephora.com/.

IN OTHER NEWS THE U.S. PARALYMPIC ICE SLED HOCKEY TEAM WON GOLD by defeating

Russia 1-0 in the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia on March 15. Forward Josh Sweeney scored the gamewinning goal in the second period. It was the third Paralympic Games gold-medal victory in the event for the United States.


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Other locals on Team USA included Rico Roman and goaltender Jen Yung Lee of the San Antonio Rampage Sled Ice Hockey Team. All are among several veterans benefiting from the many programs offered through San Antonio-based Operation Comfort, which aids injured servicemen. Some of the team members practice at the Northwoods Ice & Golf Center.

IN THE MAY 10 SAN ANTONIO SPECIAL ELECTION, interim Councilman Joe Krier

in District 9 is running for a full term after being appointed to the San Antonio City Council last fall. The District 9 seat came open when Councilwoman Elisa Chan stepped down in a failed bid to capture the GOP nod for state Senate District 25 on March 4. Other contenders who filed for the slot include Corey Clark, Weston Martinez, Bert Cecconi and Donald Oroian. Early voting ends May 6. If necessary, a runoff is June 14.

THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO has canceled

the election for the District 10 City Council seat because no one filed against Mike Gallagher, who was appointed Jan. 30 when Carlton Soules stepped down to become the GOP candidate for Bexar County

judge. Soules will challenge longtime Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a Democrat, in the Nov. 4 general election.

the District 7 slot. Because only one candidate each filed for districts 3 and 7, those elections were canceled.

ELECTIONS WERE CANCELED IN HILL COUNTRY VILLAGE after the only

STUDENTS AT MACARTHUR HIGH SCHOOL recently donated their time after

candidates filing for the May 10 contest were incumbents — Mayor Gabriel Durand-Hollis, Alderwoman Place 2 Jane Cronk and Alderman Place 4 George F. "Rick" Evans, officials said.

SEVERAL CANDIDATES HAVE FILED TO RUN IN HOLLYWOOD PARK in the May

10 election. According to officials, hopefuls include Chris Falls and Steve Phillips for mayor; incumbent Sudie Sartor and Dan O'Brien for Place 2; and Chris Murphy, Andrew Moon and Tom Vincent for Place 4.

BOARD ELECTIONS MAY 10 FOR THE NORTHEAST INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT will see District 2 incumbent

Edd White facing challenger Bob Coster. District 3 incumbent Susan Galindo has chosen not to seek re-election, and only Sandi Wolff — the wife of Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff — filed for the spot. Incumbent Brigette Perkins does not face an opponent for

class to help campus custodians spruce things up as part of the MacTEACH program. According to the North East Independent School District website, "MacTEACH is a student-led tutoring program coordinated by MacArthur teacher Steve Davidson. The students, along with PTA members and parents, broke a sweat performing tasks such as wiping desks, dusting, sweeping, mopping, floor polishing, trash disposal and more." Campus custodians directed their efforts. "We need people in the public to appreciate what these (custodians) are up against," Davidson said.

A VIDEO ANSWERING THE QUESTION "WHY IS EDUCATION BIGGER IN TEXAS?" garnered a team from MacArthur High School a $1,000 check from RandolphBrooks Federal Credit Union. The video contest is coordinated by the Texas School Public Relations Association and sponsored by RBFCU as part of the Celebrate Texas

Public Schools year-round campaign. According to a release, the film's director, senior Kevin Stevenson, instructor Steve Davidson and Principal. Peter Martinez received recognition for their efforts celebrating the state's public schools "in such a creative way." The video featured students from several clubs and organizations.

POCAHONTAS, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND EVEN FRIDA KAHLO put in

appearances recently at Stahl Elementary School after third-grade students researched a historical figure and then created posters and speeches, dressed in costumes to represent their subject. Educators, parents and community members attended the event.

THE ALAMO AREA METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION selected

several projects for the region’s Transportation Improvement Program for 2015-18. A Park and Ride plaza for U.S. 281 and Stone Oak Parkway will receive $15 million. The MPO’s Transportation Policy Board is expected to rubber-stamp the selection by its Technical Policy Committee to award $110 million to 19 of 55 projects that were under consideration.

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Improving Health One Life at a Time. MCCI Medical Group of Legacy Place is a state-of-the-art, primary care medical clinic with attached activity center. Our medical clinic and activity center focus on senior health and wellness. Both the physicians and staff are bilingual. The Activity Center offers recreational, educational, fitness classes and support group activities which are open to the community, 55 or older. At MCCI Medical Group of Legacy Place our goal is for our patients to live the healthiest, active life possible. Mention Local Community News advertisement to receive a complimentary gift.

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may 2014

Walking continues from pg. 01

Parents expressing interest in volunteering by Lakendra Lewis

N

orth East Independent School District officials hope plans for a program at Larkspur Elementary encouraging volunteers to walk students to and from school — prompted by the hitand-run death of a girl earlier this year — will catch on at other campuses. The Walking School Bus program is a proposed addition to other safety measures announced for the neighborhood near Braesview and Larkspur drives, where 9-year-old Tatyana Babineaux—a fourthgrader at Larkspur Elementary—was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in January while walking to school. An arrest has been made in the case. “This is certainly something the school board supports,” said Susan Galindo, NEISD board president. “I believe we have some schools in our area who do (Walking School Bus). It’s been talked about for a while, and I think it’s exciting that (Larkspur Elementary) wants to do something.”

According to Larkspur Principal Susan Del Toro, the school is in the early stages of coordinating a Walking School Bus, a volunteer program in which adults walk children to school. “I think everyone is concerned because of what happened and we want the children to be safe, so I think people are willing to at least talk about it,” Del Toro said. “It’s getting a commitment. We’re not quite there yet. We would need to figure out all of the logistics.” Del Toro, who has been principal at Larkspur for three years, said she and her staff are researching the Walking School Bus program, which is already in existence nationwide in many school districts. Del Toro is especially interested in a walking bus for the students who live in the apartments and duplexes about a mile from Larkspur Elementary, many of whose parents are lowincome and don’t have vehicles. “Most of the kids get driven or they’re bused. But 20 to 50 of our kids who live in

Photo by Aiessa Ammeter

My biggest concern is the apartments on Braesview susan del toro-principal

the apartments aren’t eligible for buses and actually walk to school,” Del Toro said. According to the principal, about 87 percent of Larkspur’s 860 students—700 of whom live in neighboring apartments—are economically disadvantaged. Many of the students walk or take the bus to the campus, which opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast. “My biggest concern is the apartments on Braesview,” Del Toro said. “There’s a lot more traffic and it’s on a hill. If I could have some parents to meet where those three apartments come together, that would be amazing.” Larkspur plans to send out fliers possibly in May announcing a community meeting regarding the start of a walking bus in time for classes in August. The school also would like to get San Antonio Fear Free Environment police officers and nearby apartment managers involved to create more interest in the program. The Walking School Bus system, which originated in the United Kingdom, was initially structured to have two adults: A “driver” who leads the children to school on

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foot and a “conductor” who follows them from behind, much in the same way the kids would be driven to school via bus. The United States version of the program does not strictly follow the driver/ conductor model, but does maintain the idea of adults walking kids to school through designated routes with “pickup” or meeting points, a timetable and a rotating schedule of trained volunteers. The bicycle train, a variation on the walking school bus in which adults supervise children riding their bikes to school, also is popular in some communities. “We want to set up a strong program. Ideally, it would be great to have two people walk the kids,” Del Toro said. “But initially we would be happy to have one person willing to commit to be at a certain spot every day and walk a group, follow the route and use the crosswalk.” Adults who volunteer for the program would be trained regarding routes and safety measures, and would need to pass a criminal background check. “We do have some parents who walk their kids every day. So if we could get that parent to wait for a group of kids

and walk them every day, that’s our goal,” said Del Toro, adding that some parents have already expressed interest. Although Del Toro said the school would not need the approval of the school board to spearhead a walking school bus, NEISD leaders are in favor of the idea. The city recently approved $90,000 in safety improvements at the corner of Braesview and Larkspur after Gina Babineaux, Tatyana’s mother, met with District 9 interim Councilman Joe Krier, city engineers, neighborhood associations and school officials. Krier at a press conference in February addressed requests for better safety at that intersection. Special concern was expressed for Braesview, where many accidents have been reported and residents complain of speeding, and cars hitting their fences. The improvements will include a new crosswalk along with overhead blinking school zone lights, brighter signage, a countdown stoplight and a handicap ramp, all estimated for completion in time for the new school year in the fall. To volunteer for the Walking School Bus program or get more information, call Larkspur at 407-4600.

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may 2014

Fungal continues from pg. 01

Disease more prevalent in last five years by Collette Orquiz

A

potential rise in cases of oak wilt has officials warning North Side residents to be on the lookout for the devastating fungal disease as winter turns to spring and trees start blooming again. Every year live oaks and red oaks fall victim to oak wilt, which is a vascular disease caused by a fungus. It is spread by insects or roots that infect the tree and cut off the transportation of water and nutrients. It cannot be cured and it can carry a hefty price tag to prevent the spread to other trees. “There are a number of infection areas within the city and the adjoining municipalities,” said Michele Forry, certified arborist and oak-wilt specialist. “It has

become more prevalent in the last five years and the infected areas are growing.” San Antonio officials even recently issued a bulletin reminding residents of the dangers of oak wilt now that spring is here. The Development Services Department stresses that trees must be carefully pruned to prevent oak wilt, with severed limbs being coated in paint within 30 minutes. Also, a tree-maintenance license is required for anyone who removes, prunes or trims trees inside the city limits. The disease has been in Texas for decades, and has slowly made its way through the Hill Country and into San Antonio, Forry said. “With no cure or total prevention, our city is at risk for losing thousands of trees to this disease. More education and research is needed to help aid in the prevention of this disease,” Forry said. Oak wilt shows up as leaf discoloration, wilt, defoliation and dead limbs. Hollywood Park takes the threat seriously, officials said. The city is one of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA members, meaning it meets standards of sound urban-forestry management, maintains a tree committee, has a community tree

NIPPING OAK WILT IN THE BUD l Educate yourself l Routinely water trees l Practice proper pruning l Choose diversity

when planting trees l Treat trees with fungicide l Eliminate diseased red oaks l Handle firewood properly l Paint wounds on

healthy oaks l Call a certified oak-wilt specialist with questions

Photo by Collette Orquiz

ordinance, spends at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrates Arbor Day. The Tree Advisory Board chairman, Mark Duff, who is also a certified arborist and oak-wilt specialist, as well as a staff forester at Texas A&M University's Forest Service, said Hollywood Park — known for wooded, large acreage lots — is sensitive to how an oak wilt problem can be portrayed.

“They want to paint the picture that they’re being proactive and managing the disease, not that disease has come in and just devastated the community,” Duff said. Hollywood Park has several regulations and ordinances dealing with trees and their upkeep, as a part of a neverending effort to keep oak wilt at bay. The Tree Advisory Board recently met to

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salocallowdown.com make one code even stricter, mandating that open wounds must be painted immediately to diminish the exposure of sapwood. Also, pruning cannot be conducted from Feb. 1 to June 30, to lessen the risk of spreading the fungus. Experts say pruning attracts nitidulid beetles, which spread the disease from fungal mats while moving from tree to tree feeding on sap. Oak wilt can also be spread through infected root grafts. Some oaks, however, have been bred to be highly resistant to the disease including Monterrey, Chinquapin (or Chinkapin) and Bur. “At present, there is not 100 percent prevention for the disease. There are several treatments that will aid in the survival of the tree,” Forry said. Duff said 75 oak wilt centers are concentrated in northeast Bexar County to help manage any outbreak. To his knowledge, neighboring Hill Country Village is clear of oak wilt, Duff said. Hollywood Park recently paid to trench an area where oak wilt was spreading. However, trenching is no longer an option because much of the city sits on old limestone deposits with

cave systems that allow the roots to penetrate farther down, Duff said. Trenching can reduce or stop the transmission of the fungus through the roots. The most common technique is to sever the roots by trenching at least four feet down. Using a rock saw, ripper bars or trenching machines, correct placement of the trench is critical for protecting uninfected trees, tree experts said. Trying to prevent oak wilt is more cost-effective than removing a dead or infected tree. The experts say the average cost for treatment is $10 to $12 per diameter stem inch. Both Forry and Duff agree that if a resident thinks a tree may have oak wilt, the best thing to do is contact a professional for an inspection and begin treatments if necessary. Because of the drought, and watering restrictions, residents should also make sure to routinely water their plants, as sometimes a thirsty specimen can show similar symptoms. “There’s a lot more scattered drought trees than there is oak wilt,” Duff said. TexasOakWilt.org is a valuable resource for information on how to treat oak wilt. It and other sites can offer tips on contacting certified arborists, as well as vendors to purchase fungicides and more.

Channel continues from pg. 01

Leaders warn not to leave debris in drainage ditch by lucille sims Thomas

B

lossom Park residents are breathing easier now that drainage issues plaguing their neighborhood have been addressed, but they say the community must work together to prevent future floods. Efforts by city crews to widen a channel in the subdivision should help alleviate flooding from storms and heavy runoff that flows through Mud Creek and McAllister Park, the neighbors said. The work was done after residents talked with interim District 9 Councilman Joe Krier at his initial Java with Joe meeting in January, officials said. The sessions are normally held 9-11 a.m. Mondays at the district field office, 16500 U.S. 281 North, Suite 290. “I cannot tell you how thrilled we are with what is going on,” resident Sherry Shaw said. “We still have to see during heavy rains if the berms they’ve built will

suffice. There may have to be additional construction at those corners. But the rest of it is looking pretty good.” Longtime resident Mike Pickett said he still worries about a retaining pond behind his house. “I will have to see after a big rain how effective the work has been,” Pickett said. In spite of the improvements, a neighborhood newsletter put out by Shaw and her husband Larry Shaw pleads with residents to not throw things into the channel behind the subdivision's homes. Pickett and other residents said Krier's involvement helped spur the drainage improvements. After Krier took office in November, he reached out to constituents to learn what issues troubled their neighborhoods, and the Blossom Park Neighborhood Association quickly brought him up to speed on the area’s drainage woes.

Channel continues on pg. 13

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local our turn

Views and opinions about your community.

Politicians must learn to listen

P

olitical campaigns are as certain as the sun rising and setting. That is why it's more important than ever for voters to remain educated about the issues and pay attention to what the candidates are saying — or not saying. Equally vital to the electorate is staying focused on the issues so they aren't blindsided by glib talk and fancy rhetoric from those out on the campaign trail. For example, here in the greater San Antonio area, a disturbing trend seems to be growing. Politicians keep pushing projects the public doesn't want. Many of these are quite expensive. From downtown streetcars to suburban toll roads, several of our politicos are promoting initiatives the voters have said no to time and again. These leaders appear out of step with the will of the people they claim to represent. Why won't the office-holders listen? Could it be they are putting their future political ambitions ahead of the people's wishes, trying to pad resumes for runs at higher office or ensure

Letters to the editor Light rail in SA would help Editor: San Antonio really needs

streetcars and trolleys. Unfortunately, voters were misled by the opponents and the Tea Party. Many of the opponents do not understand that light-rail transportation, or LRT, is very useful in keeping a number of cars off the road. Of course, it will not reduce congestion 100 percent. Opponents and the Tea Party do not understand that our traffic is bad enough — like Los Angeles — because we don't have light rail. San Antonio hasn't had any rail transit transportation since 1932. LRT will attract local riders and tourists if voters aren't sleepy. David Pattison

But not everyone supports streetcars… Editor: I would love to put my

name on a petition to put the streetcar issue to a vote. No doubt in my mind it would be defeated. Margaret Preston

may 2014

their place in the history books? Or is it a case of those in office thinking they know what's best for the rest of us, even when we say different? Frankly, voters are partly to blame. In many cases, apathetic voters stay away from the polls because they no longer trust the candidates and they no longer believe in the validity of the democratic process. Part of the problem is those who are the most qualified to lead choose not to run because of the exorbitant funding it takes to mount a campaign. Local politics in America once meant that average citizens felt called to serve because they wanted to help their neighbors. Today we have a professional class of politicians who seek office because they crave power, and special-interest groups with deep pockets to fund their races. It's time for local office-seekers to return to the grass roots, to listen to their constituents and to carry out the will of the people, not focus on some agenda-driven campaign designed to increase their own status at the expense of good governance. -the Local Community News editorial board includes Harry Lees, Gregg Rosenfield and Thomas Edwards. Send letters to the editor to tedwards@ salocallowdown.com or snail mail them to Local Community News, 4204 Gardendale, Suite 201, San Antonio, TX 78229. We reserve the right to edit for taste, grammar and length.

Editor: We are both registered voters and we are against wasting our money on having streetcars in San Antonio. R.J. Peisinger and G. Peisinger Too soon to name airport after ex-Mayor Henry Cisneros Editor: There are many of us who think it

unseemly to name public places for living persons, especially politicians of any stripe. Too many people spend their entire life affecting the lives of others, but often pass laws that only affect others, not themselves (like Congress). Many of us feel there should be a period between their passing and their "sanctification" of public entities, where their whole influence should be weighed, not their immediate popularity. C. Reed Carr

Current airport name is fine Editor: The San Antonio International

Airport has a fine name already. Why do we feel the need to name things after city and county officials at all? Chuck Hanna


13

salocallowdown.com Channel continues from pg. 11 “The silt has been building up for many years and the vegetation, which started growing in the silt, had built up for many years. And so that’s what caused the water to not flow smoothly,” Krier said. Also, brush and many large, unwanted items had been thrown into the drainage ditch. During major floods such as the ones in 1998 and 2002, water backed up into yards and even into a few houses. Krier went to the neighborhood and walked the drainage ditch with concerned residents to see firsthand what they were dealing with. “I was surprised that Krier came out and met with our board and some neighborhood residents and walked the neighborhood along the drainage ditches,” said Lee Shaw, the president of the Blossom Park Neighborhood Association. Within days of the walk, bulldozers were in the ditch fixing the problem. Art Gonzales Jr. has lived in the area for almost 15 years and has always been concerned about the water flowing through McAllister Park and Mud Creek. In the past, he made calls and inquiries about the issue; someone would come and take photos, but that’s as far as it would get, he said. This time he was pleasantly surprised at how fast things started to move. “I believe Councilman Krier and his staff saw that easement on a Saturday and the next Wednesday morning there was an earth-mover in there and an engineer. It’s going to go a long way in keeping it from flooding,” Gonzales said. City workers with bulldozers cleaned out the channel and then changed the contour so that water will no longer flood homes during heavy rains. The ditch was then seeded with green mulch. Workers also cleaned out debris from under a bridge. Debris in the channel has been a long-standing problem

in the past, neighbors said. Shaw said during one of the major floods some men in the neighborhood actually used trucks and tied themselves together as they went into the channel and pulled out all sorts of items clogging it and causing the streets to flood. After they removed the debris, the water level quickly fell. “The water level dropped tremendously fast. It just drained away like pulling the plug on a sink or something. It really went to show how effective the drainage would be if it were not plugged up with debris,” Shaw said. The neighborhood president said residents need to remember that drainage channels are not dumping grounds. 'They’re there to drain water away from streets and sidewalks and yards," he said. "And when you throw something in that drainage ditch, it could end up blocking that drainage and creating a lake and somebody downstream could get flooded out. It’s an issue everywhere.” Krier was appointed to the council last fall, with then-District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules and District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor the dissenting votes in an 8-2 decision. The District 9 seat came open when Elisa Chan stepped down to run for the Texas Senate District 25 seat in the Republican primary, which she lost March 4. Four opponents have squared off against Krier in the May 10 city special election for District 9: Corey Clark, Weston Martinez, Bert Cecconi and Donald Oroian.

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Wurzbach continues from pg. 01

Project to link I-35 to I-10 finishes in 2015 by J.E. Jordan

M

otorists this summer can expect some overnight delays when construction of the Wurzbach Parkway linking northeast and northwest San Antonio will shut down the main lanes of U.S. 281. No exact timetable is available for the project, but the Texas Department of Transportation will provide at least a two-week notice of the closure by alerting the media, said spokesman Josh Donat. "Later this summer when they're ready to set beams over U.S. 281, there will be many closures. Those closures will be announced well in advance and we will keep you updated," according to a release from interim District 9 Councilman Joe Krier. "Overall, the center segment, and

may 2014

the entire Wurzbach Parkway Project, is on pace to finish mid-2015." The closing of all main lanes of 281 at night allows construction crews to hang the support beams that make up the backbone of the parkway bridge structure, Donat said. The most up-to-date information on lane closures and progress is on TxDOT’s blog at txdotsanantonio.blogspot.com, he added. The span over 281 is the final leg of the project, officials said. Although the work could lead to delays, even at night, neighborhood leaders welcome the news. The parkway was first proposed 35 years ago and construction work has continued since the 1990s, with the first section of the Parkway — Wetmore Road to Nacogdoches Road — opened in 1996. The other end of the parkway turns into Wurzbach Road and extends to Fredericksburg Road. The $146 million project will connect Interstate 10 to Interstate 35 when it's finished. Final segment involving 281 is a 1.7 -mile stretch consisting mostly of bridge work between West Avenue and Jones Maltsberger Road. “It’s a long time in coming," said Chuck Saxer, president of Northside Neighborhoods for Organized Development. "That’s kind of a summation

of the project. Everyone is enjoying the segment between Lockhill Selma and Blanco (roads). And, of course, the traffic at the intersection of Blanco and the parkway now that the bridge is open (is) helping that quite a bit. We’re looking forward to the whole thing opening up.” Saxer had one caveat, saying the parkway will have a major impact on neighborhood traffic. “You’ve got a high – or higherspeed — parkway emptying into residential streets that are not really able to handle the traffic,” he said. The Wurzbach Parkway is designed to facilitate the flow of east-west traffic and relieve congestion on loops 410 and 1604 across the North Side, resulting in shorter travel times. When the final phases are linked, it should also reduce congestion on a number of existing corridors. When complete, the parkway is expected to accommodate some 40,000 vehicles daily, according to TxDOT. Constantine Klufas, director of Countryside San Pedro Homeowners Association board, hopes when the final segment is complete, residents along Bitters Road will see some relief from traffic headed to 1604. “Some of our single-family homes

do face Bitters Road and, because the parkway (is) so convenient going east and west, that will take a lot of traffic off (the road) and decrease the noise factor for some of these poor people with their front doors being 20, 30 feet from Bitters," Klufas said. "So we’re pleased that . . . traffic is going to be decreased.” He added when the houses were built in the early 1970s, Bitters was a two-lane road with a stop sign at San Pedro Avenue. “There wasn’t even a highway yet," Klufas said. "So these people are definitely experiencing the problems of traffic growth and city growth. In addition to the decrease in road noise on Bitters, our community will also see a significant decrease in traffic from motorists who cut through our streets to avoid the lights and traffic at Heimer Road and 281 and Bitters intersection. In the long run, it’ll turn out fine.” Work continues to progress on other sections of parkway, officials said. After a six-month delay due to contractor problems, the Blanco Road overpass opened April 2, completing another segment of the parkway, Donat said. The ongoing work along 281 includes two separate northbound exit ramps to Wurzbach Parkway and to Bitters. When

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salocallowdown.com they are finished, the current Bitters exit will be shut down. Bridge support pillars for an exit ramp from Nakoma Street and Wurzbach onto the northbound main lanes of 281 are already in place. No major lane closures are scheduled for May in connection with construction. Any closures will be minor, affecting only single lanes on frontage roads, similar to what commuters have seen in the past, Donat said. Jeffrey Schulz, president of the Lorence Creek Neighborhood Association, said he hasn’t heard any real complaints about the length of time the project is taking, except for disruptions on Jones Maltsberger. “It’s become a non-issue. No one even talks about it anymore,” he said. “It does seem to be taking forever. The little stretches that open don’t seem to do you much good because it’s been so disjointed.” Schulz added that having the Blanco overpass open and no longer having to exit at West Avenue is a muchappreciated convenience. Schulz said he has traveled the parkway from Starcrest Drive to Interstate 35, “but the real boon for us will be when it’s done from Nakoma, east from there.” However, he added, there is no way

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to predict whether the parkway will become as congested as 410 and 1604. “Will it be able to maintain the posted speed or will it slow to a crawl?” he said. Krier said he has hopes for improved traffic conditions when the parkway is complete, but is taking a wait-and-see attitude. “We know what we hope the impact will be, but we really won’t know until 2015 when the remaining legs open. We’re hopeful we will see a notable reduction in traffic in our area,” he said. The only inconvenience Krier said he has seen is “mostly just impatience with delays.” As for the existing segments, he added, “The design has turned out to be excellent. I go to lots of meetings in the (South Texas) Medical Center and it’s very direct and easy to just truck through there at any time of day or night.” In December, txdotsanantonio.blogspot. com replaced a TxDOT newsletter, Donat said, because the blog is easier to update and is accessible to anyone with a computer, rather than only to those on the email list. For even quicker updates, Donat suggested following the highway department's social media outlet on Twitter @txdotsanantonio.

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EAT LOCAL Learn about the newest neighborhood places for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks.

Variety, homemade taste staples at Pho Fresh by collette orquiz

A

relatively new North Side restaurant is giving residents a taste of traditional Vietnamese fare, including pho — a beef noodle soup that is a staple in Vietnam. But Pho Fresh doesn't stop there, offering plenty of other Asian meals, too. Peter Tang recently opened the restaurant at 2895 Thousand Oaks Drive. It is his family's second culinary venture in San Antonio, and continues a tradition started by his parents, who opened their original eatery in 2001. Tang’s brother runs the other establishment, called Pho Thien An at 126 W. Rector St. The siblings have been in the restaurant business 13 years.

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Pho Fresh focuses on fresh, authentic Vietnamese, Thai and other Asian cuisine under one roof, Tang said. “In our country, we don’t just offer Vietnamese food, there’s so many Asian varieties,” he added. “That’s why it’s a package. You can come and get more choices.” Tang’s wife takes care of the customers, while he prepares the majority of the dishes, specifically the Vietnamese ones. The owner said the restaurant is family-oriented and provides excellent customer service. The menu features more than 300 items, including pho, rice, noodles, hot pots, sushi and grilled barbecue. Tang said he strives to make guests feel as though they have walked into his own house for a homemade meal, he said.

“We love doing this because we carry on the tradition of my mom, our family,” Tang said. Hint: The pho is a must. While the beef is traditional, the Tang family also offers pho with seafood, chicken and vegan-friendly with a side of basil, sprouts and jalapeños. Pho Fresh is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Pho Fresh offers an extensive menu featuring multiple Asian selections including a combination platter of grilled chicken, shrimp and beef (far left, top); traditional pho (far left, bottom); or even lamb and shrimp (left). Photos by Collette Orquiz

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akers of all backgrounds — professionals or hobbyists — now have a place to call home, where the sprinkles are abundant and all the products they could possibly need are available. Over The Top Cake Supplies, which is affiliated with wholesaler Johnson Bros. Bakery Supply Inc., recently opened a second location, this one in the Blanco Junction shopping center at 1010 N.W. Loop 410, suite 102. Owner Kevin Johnson said the store is the place to go for all things baking, as well as a model for future franchising opportunities. “This is all I’ve ever done ... I grew up in a bakery, my parents own bakeries, so to see this at a retail

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level is really cool,” Johnson said. From sprinkles and frosting to cake pans and chocolate molds, the store has everything for baking projects, General Manager Jean Iennaco said. If the store doesn't, the staff will do their best to get it for the customer, Johnson added. Over The Top Cake Supplies offers several classes each month, from making cookies to wedding cakes, as well as ladies' nights and children's parties. The shop will also have a kids' camp during the day in the summer. Johnson described the staff as caring, understanding and excited about each customer’s project or venture. He added the store is a place where customers will be satisfied and keep coming back. “We all here have a passion for

Over The Top Cake Supplies has a candy and sprinkle wall (far left, top) where customers can buy by the pound, a wide selection of items for baking needs (far left, bottom) and cake bases, toppers, fondant and more (above). Photos by Collette Orquiz

over the top CAKE supplies 1010 N.W. Loop 410, Suite 102 For more, call 475-3032 or visit http://www.overthetopcakesupplies.com

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18

may 2014

Live LOCAL From real estate trends and neighborhood listings to home improvement, we’ve got you covered.

Real Estate LOCAL Trends ZIP Code Median sold price

New listings

Average days on market

Closed sales

Under contract

Months supply of inventory

78216

78232

78247

mar-13

150,250

$195,400

$139,900

mar-14

$156,000

212,000

$148,050

mar-13

42

63

83

mar-14

42

41

97

mar-13

105

102

70

mar-14

121

69

51

mar-13

20

43

71

mar-14

24

37

60

mar-13

28

55

81

mar-14

30

27

67

mar-13

4.8

2.6

2.2

mar-14

2.9

2.1

2.1

Source: San Antonio Board of Realtors: Texas Market Trends report The properties are new listings put on the market from early March 2014. The properties may no longer be on the market by publication date or prices may have changed. Local Community News assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions.

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LOCAL: Hollywood Park, Hill Country Village, 78247, 78232, 78216 May 2014  

This month in LOCAL Zone 3: Tragedy prompts NEISD campus to construct a safety plan and is now seeking volunteers for a Walking School Bus,...

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