North Texas Youth Orchestra practices(Photo by Joan Wozny)
North Texas Youth Orchestra Musical Director Julianne Booth (Photo by Joan Wozny)
Youth Orchestra Selects Theater to Attract Regional Talent and Provide Top Quality Venue for Performances; Auditions Currently Underway
The North Texas Youth Orchestra (NTYO), a non-profit fine art organization dedicated to providing an outstanding musical experience for the area’s most talented young musicians, announced it has selected the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater as its new home. This venue, which features a 296-seat acoustically designed theater, will host the NTYO’s 2014-2015 Concert Series. The NTYO will also conduct its regular rehearsals at the theater.
According to the North Texas Youth Orchestra, location and theater quality were factors in their selection. “Thanks to the outstanding UIL band programs in area middle schools and high schools, north Texas is rich with outstanding talent,” said Julianne Booth, artistic director and conductor for the North Texas Youth Orchestra. “The Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater is ideally located to draw talent from all over the region. Additionally, the acoustics of the MCL Grand are remarkable, and will add to the true ‘theater experience’ for our young performers while enhancing the quality of the performance for the audience.”
Booth said the NTYO draws a broad mix of talented musicians who share in their desire to excel musically. “As a symphony orchestra, our musicians are comprised of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion,” said Booth. “Ours is a unique opportunity for young musicians to perform with a full symphony orchestra, something not common in most school band and orchestra programs. Additionally, our concerts feature selections that really push our performers technically, but also provide an eclectic and compelling mix of musical styles, ranging from classical to big band to movie scores.”
I've been meaning to write about how the City of Lewisville is lowering its property tax rate from $0.44021 last year to $0.436086 this year. That's the lowest rate since 1987. There's a bunch of other interesting stuff about what has gone on with revenues and property valuations and such, but what I'm geeking out over right now is that I have recently seen some nicely done charts that display the United States budget in a proportional format that helps people to understand it. We have all seen pie charts, but for some reason they seem to do a poor job at showing the smaller slices, which are sometimes tiny or invisible, and which are hard to compare to the whole, much less each other.
For this reason, and because it was fun to code, I wrote a program to display aspects of the City of Lewisville’s budget in this format, using rectangular proportional areas to show things at their relative sizes. I have no idea what this format is called - if it has a name - but when I was working on this, my wife asked why I didn’t just use a pie chart. I told her it was a pie chart, but it’s a pizza pie - cut into rectangles, just like the school cafeteria used to do. So to me, these are school pizza charts. Some areas are so tiny that they are difficult to read, but you can hover over them to see the details.
The first set of charts shows all of the fund accounts that are used in the city budget. Different funds have differing source revenues and legally allowable usages. Some funds transfer parts of their budget to other funds - for example to account for employee retirement costs or health insurance.
The different funds are shown by budgeted revenue and by the forecasted ending balance. If you click on the General Fund area, you will be taken to a chart showing how that fund is used. (Click the image to load and interact with the chart)
The second set of charts shows a breakdown of the General Fund by revenue source, and by expense:
I returned to Austin to present my petition that I have been working on. The petition would require elected and appointed officials be required to take the STAAR test. I was encouraged by the conversation and tone our senators were taking. Then the Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams, an attorney, gave his testimony. I found his statements disappointing, troubling and unproductive. Primarily, because of his complete lack of ownership in the test his department developed. His audacity to quickly lay the blame for the high failure rates solely at the feet of our educators and children was shocking.
This highlighted the adversarial role between our educators and the TEA and reinforced my conviction to see this unproductive relationship dismantled. Think how beneficial the STAAR test could be if we demanded its results were used to target the needs of students, teachers and schools. I was once one of those kids that would've had trouble with these tests. I was given a diagnostic test that determined I have dyslexia. That test did not punish me or my teacher for my disability; it got me the help I so desperately needed. I’m eternally grateful for the educational gift I was given.
What I said before the Texas Senate Education Committee:
We hope everyone is having a great extended Labor Day weekend. It's a great time to think about the contributions of American labor for the things we now take for granted - like weekends, living wages, and workplace safety.
These posts (every week or two) are a chance to share links to various stories elsewhere on the internet that we think might be of interest to our readers. Everything is on-topic for these posts, so feel free to leave a comment if something is on your mind.
The Lewisville ISD Education Foundation is hosting its “Fork and Pencil” fundraiser on Saturday, September 6th. Tickets are $75 per person or $130 per couple. Although the website does a poor job explaining exactly what it is, this is a sort of a gala dinner with live music, and catered by a variety of restaurants. There’s a silent auction too.
The Farmer football game Friday night against Rowlett was disappointing. The Farmers could have pulled off the win, but two bad snaps leading to a blocked punt killed those chances. But you couldn't ask for better weather Friday night, so it was hard to believe it's still August. Here's a Farmer Football Preview
Everything you need to know about trash service in Lewisville is on the city’s website. If you have a complaint about your trash pickup, please call Waste Management at 972.315.5400, because the rest of us are tired of hearing your bitching on social media. We have 22,000 households, and on any given week there will be problems, late pickups, misunderstood rules, etc. If all of them take to bitching on Facebook and Nextdoor, that’s all we’ll ever deal with, and the answer is always the same: Call Waste Management, and let them fix the problem.
In Ferguson, Missouri, court fines and fees add up to about 20% of the city’s budget, giving the city quite an incentive to get people tied up in the justice system. Incredibly, the judge keeps observers out of the court, and sometimes hears cases prior to the scheduled time, or locks the courthouse doors, resulting in people getting penalized for missing a court date.
For the past week, since Taylor Swift released her new single “Shake it Off”, it’s been a constant earworm. Dimensions Dance Company filmed a flash mob dance to this tune at a Lewisville Raising Canes restaurant, which resulted in Ms. Swift “hyperventilating”. If they had just invited me to show off some of my moves, I’m sure she would have needed a paper sack to breathe in.
An account has been set up for Mr. Freed, by some friends of the Freeds. The person heading this up is George Gober, long time resident of Lewisville. The money will be used strictly for Freed's court costs, attorney fees, defense investigators, and anything pertaining to his cost for defending himself. Those wanting to contribute can go to Ciera Bank in Flower Mound, 1801 Cross Timbers Rd. Make out checks to the Defense Fund for Brian Freed. any questions you can call Mr. Gober at 972-977-0618 and he will gladly answer any questions.
After discussion here at LTJ, we removed a story from the site and from our Facebook page today due to a very negative reaction in the community.
It's not often that we remove items from the site - especially when they are factual and fair, which we thought the article was. The reason we removed it is that the discussion on social media had vilified one of the unnamed people in the story to the point that the online discussion seemed like a lynch mob waiting to happen. The breaking point was when the discussion turned to personal bullying of others who expressed opposing viewpoints.
We do this service to spread the facts, and increase our community's understanding of one another and the institutions that make our community tick.
I'm just so incredibly disappointed right now to have had this forum and our work used in such a negative way.
Perhaps at some point, the story will come back into the archive, but for now we think it's best for all involved to cool off.
This story has been updated. Please see the update at the end.
By Steve Southwell
Lewisville mom Laura Stepp saw her son Kenneth get on the bus Wednesday morning at her apartment complex on SH 121 Business. From her rear view mirror, she saw him on the bus at 7:15 a.m., and figured it was safe to leave for work. What happened next turned into an hours-long ordeal for the 8 year old third-grader. Kenneth said the bus driver told him the bus was too full, and that he would have to get off. So, not knowing that his mother had already left, he tried going back to his apartment, which was locked. Not able to get in, he went to the apartment complex office, which wouldn’t open until 9. He says he saw another bus show up, but before he could get to it, the doors closed, and it left. Kenneth said he thought about crossing the busy SH 121 to walk to school, but that he decided against it.
Waiting alone at the office until it opened, the boy was taken in by the apartment manager, who attempted to contact Stepp, but only had her home phone number. The manager also contacted the boy’s school - Lewisville Elementary, who told them they would contact Durham Transportation (the school district’s bus vendor) and dispatch another bus. Time passed without a bus coming to get Kenneth, so Stepp says the school’s principal came and picked him up around 10:30.
Wednesday afternoon, Stepp posted about the story on the City of Lewisville Facebook page, where commenters almost immediately were up in arms over the incident. Stepp said she posted the story to see if anyone had ideas on how to handle it.
We contacted Durham Transportation Services manager Greg Newman, who explained that there is a legal limit on how many kids that a bus can carry. “It’s illegal to run a bus overcrowded,” he said, explaining that the normal procedure is for the bus driver to call in and dispatch an immediate backup bus. Newman said the bus driver would normally tell the kids to get off and wait there for the next bus, which would usually take “a couple minutes”. It’s this crucial instruction that Kenneth said he didn’t hear the bus driver say.
On Monday, August 18, Police Officer Tim O’Hare and Texas Department of Public Safety Corporal Dy Norng were recognized at a Lewisville City Council meeting for their official actions on April 24.
On April 24, Lewisville Dispatch received a call from a suicidal person and plotted the cellular caller around the intersection of the 121 Tollway and Interstate 35E. The Tollway Authority was also notified and dispatched State Troopers to the area. Lewisville Officer Tim O’Hare arrived and contacted a male sitting on a cross member between two bridges with his leg over the railing. The individual kept shifting his weight which made officers believe that the subject was, in fact, planning to jump. Officer O’Hare continued to engage the man while DPS Corporal Dy Norng approached the man from behind and shoved him at Officer O’Hare. Officer O’Hare quickly grabbed him in a bear hug and pulled the man to safety.
The Police Department’s Awards Committee met to review this incident and recommended Officer Timothy O’Hare and DPS Corporal Dy Norng receive the Life Saving Award. If not for their quick response and immediate actions, this individual would have most likely jumped to his death and possibly even hurt or killed others below. Pictured from left, are Police Chief Russ Kerbow, Officer Tim O’Hare, DPS Corporal Dy Norng, and Mayor Dean Ueckert.