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DART is Asking North Texas Young Artists to Share Their Heroes

The annual Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Student Art Contest has begun accepting individual entries from all North Texas students through Tuesday, March 23, 2021. The theme of this year’s contest is “Everyday Heroes Ride DART.”

Heroes come in many forms and this year’s art contest gives young artists the chance to salute the hometown heroes that have kept our community going during the pandemic – everyday people that have made a positive impact in the lives of others these past few months.

Kindergarten through 12th grade students throughout North Texas will compete for the opportunity to have their artwork featured on DART rail stations, buses and inside trains.

Winner’s artwork will also be displayed at the Dallas Museum of Art, Love Field Airport, and on DART’s website, DART.org. Prizes will be awarded to first place winners and runners-up in different grade-level categories.

The 2021 DART Student Art Contest thanks our community partners the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Contemporary and Half Price Books.

For additional information, as well as complete rules, prize information and additional entry forms, visit DART.org/artcontest, or contact TransitEducation@dart.org or call (214) 749-3494.

Grand Prairie ISD hosts Virtual Experience Live Event

The Grand Prairie ISD Virtual Experience Live Event is tomorrow, Saturday, January 9, from 9 a.m. – noon!

On Monday, January 4, the GPISD Experience web page went live. Families were encouraged to register and explore the site to see the numerous options and opportunities available to students in GPISD. To see the page, go to https://www.gpisd.org/experience

In the first 24 hours that the Experience web page was live, we had over 3,000 hits to the site and over 1,000 families register to get an Apply Early Pass.

Tomorrow, families will be able to live chat with principals from 9 a.m. – noon and use their Apply Early Pass to be among the first to apply for schools and programs of choice in GPISD. The link to each principal’s Zoom can be found on their school’s Experience page. 

Normally, this event – now in its 10th year – is held at one of our campuses with a festival atmosphere and thousands of attendees. This year, because of the pandemic, it was decided we would continue to hold the event – virtually!

Hustle to the Side…With Your Help

Hi Ladies and Gents!

I (Stacey) have a small request to help me and my family through this difficult financial stage in our lives (thanks, COVID). It will cost you nothing but a couple of minutes of your time.

My “side hustle” is a national news blog called News Break. If you could take a few moments to download the app via https://newsbreakapp.onelink.me/2115408369?pid=mp_500018&msource=mp_500018 I will get some referral points, which will break down into money.

The app basically lets you set what cities/counties/states you’re interested in receiving news about, plus you can choose to “follow” anyone whose writing you like. You’ll be taken to a sign in page, where you’ll have to do the dreaded ID and Password. Then you’ll be taken to a news page. Look up at the top right hand cornmer of the page and type in “Grapevine, TX.” That should bring my profile up at the bottom as a “Recommended Publisher.” If that doesn’t work, try clicking on https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2138198395384/tales-from-a-space-nerd which is my latest post. In any case, there will be a FOLLOW button, so please follow me!

If you decide to help, please make sure that you follow “Stacey Doud.” If you hate the app, uninstall it…no hard feelings!

Thanks in advance, and I truly hope that you enjoy the app, no matter if you follow me or not. Happy New Year (a little late) to our readers!

FAA Statement About DFW and COVID

This information is preliminary and subject to change.

A set of unique circumstances, including a positive COVID-19 test and convective weather, combined to create air traffic delays in and around Dallas-Fort Worth late this afternoon. Due to a thorough and expedited cleaning, the FAA quickly resumed operations, with the Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center in Fort Worth, Texas, back online in less than two hours.

Earlier today, an air traffic control employee at Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center in Fort Worth, Texas, tested positive for COVID-19. The employee had last been in the facility on Christmas Day. If an affected employee has been in the facility seven days or less before testing positive for COVID-19, FAA protocols will call for a Level 3 cleaning of all areas where the employee may have been. A Level 3 cleaning began at 3:45 p.m. this afternoon.

Because the cleaning required controllers to temporarily leave the control room, the FAA declared a ground stop, which held traffic at departing facilities. Other FAA facilities supported the closure and worked traffic around the effected airspace. Cleaning was completed at 5:05 p.m. local time, which is when controllers reoccupied the control room, began working traffic, and the ground stop was lifted.

It’s important to note that current air traffic movement is also being affected by thunderstorms moving through the area. Thunderstorms, wind and heavy rain can cause delays. You can check the real-time traffic information at www.fly.faa.gov.

The FAA takes the safety of its employees and the flying public very seriously. Please note that throughout this event, pilots were always in touch with air traffic control employees, either at Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center, or other air traffic control facilities.

Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center employs approximately 380 air traffic controllers, and handles high-level air traffic in multiple states.

The affected airports included Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field. Those air traffic towers were never closed. You can find out more about the impacts at each airport by contacting the airport authority directly.

For more information about COVID-19 impacts at FAA facilities, visit https://www.faa.gov/coronavirus/map/.

DFW is back online. See the affected areas here:

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2BmDhN_0YAu6m3c00

Fatality Crash in Grapevine

Grapevine Police responded to a major accident on SH-114 at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 29, 2020.

The driver of a 2016 Nissan Rogue was traveling westbound on SH-114 near SH-26 when the SUV rear-ended an 18-wheeler pulling a trailer. The SUV became lodged underneath the 18-wheeler, trapping the driver and sole occupant inside. The medical examiner pronounced the SUV driver deceased on scene.

The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured.

Grapevine Police crash specialists, as well as officers from Bedford PD, Colleyville PD, and Euless PD, responded. Westbound lanes of SH-114 were shut down for approximately six hours during the investigation.

The SUV is registered to a 31-year-old man from Lake Dallas. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office will confirm the driver’s identity and release the name.

Police Report #20-54185

Dallas chooses former California police chief as new top cop

A former California police chief will be the next leader of the Dallas police department and the Texas city’s first Hispanic chief.

Eddie Garcia, who retired as police chief in San Jose this year, will replace outgoing Police Chief U. Renee Hall, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced Wednesday. Garcia’s first day on the job is set for Feb. 3.

Garcia spent nearly three decades rising through the ranks of the San Jose police department before eventually taking over the top job there. He will succeed Hall, who was the first woman to serve a Dallas chief, after she announced she’d be leaving at the end of the year following criticism from city officials over her leadership amid protests and unrest that swept the country over the summer.

Mayor Eric Johnson welcomed Garcia in a statement and called his hiring a “historic moment for Dallas.” Johnson said he looks forward to seeing the new chief’s strategies to make the city safer.

Garcia beat out several other candidates, including current Dallas commanders, and will take over the department as it struggles with a rise in violent crime and dearth of trust among some Black and Latino residents.

Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said he looks forward to working with Garcia, although his organization had hoped an internal candidate would be named chief.

Garcia brings decades of experience to Dallas and the Texas city has a population similar to San Jose’s in size and demographics. But Mata said the new chief will also have his work cut out for him in bringing down Dallas’ murder rate and would do well to surround himself with commanders who know the city and its politics.

Great Wolf Lodge guests threatened on Christmas

Shortly after 9:00pm on Friday, December 25, 2020, Grapevine Police were alerted to a report of a man inside Great Wolf Lodge who made threatening comments and claims of a firearm. The man was no longer in sight when officers arrived but a witness provided a description of the man. 

Within minutes of the initial report, several phone calls were made to 9-1-1 about a hotel guest being threatened or in danger. Additional officers were dispatched to the scene, including members of the Northeast Tarrant County SWAT Team, as well as officers from Bedford PD, Euless PD, Hurst PD, Irving PD and Southlake PD. Grapevine Fire medics also staged on the property as a precaution. 

Officers began searching the property and securing areas, while also trying to make contact with the witnesses. The threats were traced to the 8th floor of the hotel, so officers evacuated the floor and conducted a room-by-room search of the guest quarters. Guests from the 8th floor were moved to a secure area inside the resort, while guests on other floors were asked to stay in their rooms. 

Detectives interviewed the occupants of a room where one of the calls originated, and determined they were not in danger. No reports of injury were ever made, and no suspect was located. Officers cleared all areas of concern at approximately 2:00 a.m. Some officers remained on the property as an additional precaution. 

Grapevine Police appreciates all of the employees and guests who reported information, and encourage anyone who sees something suspicious to report it immediately.

The ‘Great’ Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the “Christmas Star” is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of Dec. 21.

In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the night sky, discovering the four moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In that same year, Galileo also discovered a strange oval surrounding Saturn, which later observations determined to be its rings. These discoveries changed how people understood the far reaches of our solar system.

Thirteen years later, in 1623, the solar system’s two giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, traveled together across the sky. Jupiter caught up to and passed Saturn, in an astronomical event known as a “Great Conjunction.”  

“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.”

The planets regularly appear to pass each other in the solar system, with the positions of Jupiter and Saturn being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years.

What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”

The closest alignment will appear just a tenth of a degree apart and last for a few days. On the 21st, they will appear so close that a pinkie finger at arm’s length will easily cover both planets in the sky. The planets will be easy to see with the unaided eye by looking toward the southwest just after sunset.

From our vantage point on Earth the huge gas giants will appear very close together, but they will remain hundreds of millions of miles apart in space. And while the conjunction is happening on the same day as the winter solstice, the timing is merely a coincidence, based on the orbits of the planets and the tilt of the Earth.

“Conjunctions like this could happen on any day of the year, depending on where the planets are in their orbits,” said Throop. “The date of the conjunction is determined by the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth in their paths around the Sun, while the date of the solstice is determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis. The solstice is the longest night of the year, so this rare coincidence will give people a great chance to go outside and see the solar system.”

Want to learn when and where to look up? Join Throop as he talks about the “Great Conjunction” on #NASAScience Live Thursday, Dec. 17. Submit your questions by using #askNASA. The NASA Science Live episode will air live at 3 p.m. EST Thursday on NASA Television and the agency’s website, along with the NASA FacebookYouTube, and Periscope channels.

For those who would like to see this phenomenon for themselves, here’s what to do: 

  • Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
  • An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
  • The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.

Each night, the two planets will appear closer low in the southwest in the hour after sunset as illustrated in the below graphic:

For more information and tips for getting a good photo of this phenomenon, click HERE.

Son Begs Chinese Government For Proof Of Life After Dad Placed In Concentration Camp

Every day Arfat Elkin lives the same nightmare: The Chinese Government has detained his father and he has no idea if his father is dead or alive.

“In 2017 I lost contact with my parents,” Arfat said. “In 2018, a year later, I learned my mom was in a concentration camp, and my father disappeared in March 2018. I’ve contacted the Chinese government, sent letters to the Chinese embassy, the United Nations, every place I could contact. More than two years later I still don’t have information.”

Arfat came to the United States in 2015 as an international student to fulfill a dream to study economics.  He is from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, a mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking ethnic group.

Hid dad, Erkin Tursum, is a TV Producer and Journalist at Yili TV.  Arfat said his dad was detained by the government because he allowed his son to study abroad.

Arfat’s family is among the tens of thousands of families swept up in President Xi Jinping’s campaign to suppress the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China.

The NY Post reports: 

It turns out the Chinese Communist Party is bent on permanently locking up much of the Uighur Muslim population of the far-west region of Xinjiang: Satellite images show that Beijing has secretly built 260 high-security concentration camps to hold them.

Many, perhaps all, include a factory in the camp so the prisoners can be forced to labor for the state, as well.

“People are living in horror in these ­places,” said Zhenishan Berdibek, 49, who was held in a camp for much of 2018. “Some of the younger people were not as tolerant as us — they cried and screamed and shouted. I lost my hope,” Berdibek told BuzzFeed. “I wanted to die inside the camp.”

Beijing has claimed that the Uighurs represent an Islamic terrorist threat, but the ugly reality is the CCP under President Xi Jinping is bent on crushing any possible resistance or dissent, religious or secular — and laughs at the idea of human rights

Since 2017, the Chinese Community Party has detained between 1 million to 3 million Uighurs and other minority groups in mass concentration camps where they are forced to abandon their religion, study communist propaganda, and are accused of torturing Uighurs, including sexual abuse, forced labor, water boarding and forced sterilizations. Those not in the camps are believed to be under strict government surveillance.

President Donald Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 that condemns China for its human rights abuses and mandates sanctions against those responsible for the abuse of China’s Muslim minority.

To read more about the Uighur Muslim population and President Xi Xinjiang, click HERE.

Memorial Hermann Proud to be Among First in U.S. to Receive and Administer COVID-19 Vaccine to Frontline Healthcare Workers

Today (December 15), Memorial Hermann Health System received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and immediately began administering the vaccine to its frontline healthcare workers. The system’s very first vaccine was given to Robert Luckey, RN, who works as a nurse in Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s dedicated COVID Intensive Care Unit. He received the vaccine to a round of applause from his colleagues.

“We have been fighting this battle against COVID-19 since March,” said Luckey. “I’m thrilled there is now a vaccine to help protect us against this virus, and I am very grateful and proud to be among the first in the country to be able to receive it.”

The CDC recommends that healthcare workers who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 be the first in the United States to receive the vaccinations. In addition, the state has provided guidance on who will receive the first doses of the vaccine in Texas.

“Today is truly a remarkable day full of optimism for the near future,” said David Callender, M.D., President and CEO of Memorial Hermann. “We are so thankful to be included in the first allocation of this vaccine. Together, our employees and physicians have treated more COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals than anyone else in the Greater Houston area, and that’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

In partnership with UTHealth, the system was first in Texas to perform a double lung transplant on a patient whose lungs were severely damaged by COVID-19. In addition, Memorial Hermann and UTHealth are participating in over 30 clinical trials dedicated to COVID-19.

Memorial Hermann expects to receive 16,575 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first allotment, more than any other health system in the Greater Houston area. Moments after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfzier COVID-19 vaccine, the health system opened up online registration for frontline employees to begin signing up to receive the vaccine, with the first available time slots going quickly.

“It’s been a stressful, exhausting 10 months, so I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it’s an honor for us to be able to offer this vaccine to the individuals who have dedicated nearly a year of their lives to caring for our community during this pandemic,” said Dr. Callender. “We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure our workforce is protected, so we can continue providing the same safe, compassionate care our patients have come to expect from us.”

After the vaccine has been distributed to essential workers and vulnerable populations identified by the state of Texas, the vaccine will be more widely available. It is uncertain exactly when this will occur – timing will depend on how quickly the Pfizer vaccine can be produced and distributed, and whether or not other vaccines, including Moderna’s candidate, are authorized quickly by the FDA. As soon as doses of the vaccine are available for widespread use, Memorial Hermann plans to make them available for its patients and members of the community.

“We’re all very hopeful that this will be the turning point we’ve been waiting for since this pandemic began. However, now is not the time to let our guard down,” Dr. Callender said. “Our fight with COVID-19 is not over yet, but at least there is finally an end in sight.”

Dr. Callender stressed that, although the vaccine is here and others are on the way, it will take months to vaccinate everyone who wants to receive it. This is why it is important to continue practicing the three “W’s”: wearing a mask, watching social distance and washing hands frequently.

To learn more about Memorial Hermann’s response and resources related to COVID-19, please visit the system’s Coronavirus Resource page.