Author Archives: StaceyD

Rail Arrives for Silver Line in Plano

A new rail for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Silver Line project has made its way to Plano.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, a special train from Steel Dynamics, Inc. of Indiana, delivered the 1,600 ft. long rails to a spot between N Avenue and Jupiter Road and off-loaded it adjacent to the existing tracks.

The 26-mile Silver Line Regional Rail Project is under construction between DFW Airport, Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano and includes 10 new stations.

When completed, the $1.2 billion Silver Line will connect with the Trinity Metro TEXRail commuter rail line at DFW North station providing access to Downtown Fort Worth, Grapevine, and various other Tarrant County locales.

The line will also connect with the Denton County Transportation Authority A-train commuter rail line providing access to various Denton County locales and DART’s Green Line providing access to Dallas Love Field and Downtown Dallas via Downtown Carrollton station.

DART anticipates beginning revenue service in early 2023.

The Coppell ISD Education Foundation Give for Grants Program Continues Integral Support for Classrooms

The Coppell ISD Education Foundation (CEF), which launched the Give for Grants initiative last school year, provides donors a means to give funds directly to teacher grants of their choice. The Give for Grants program offers flexibility, ease of use and will increase funding given directly to classrooms in Coppell ISD (CISD).

The CEF supports the educators in CISD through their annual grant program. The Classroom Grant Program is designed to encourage, facilitate, recognize, and reward effective, innovative, and creative, instructional approaches that directly impact students while transforming classroom learning. For example, during the 2019-20 school year, the CEF awarded more than $63,000 in classroom grants. The Give for Grants program will allow parents, educators, and community members to donate at any giving amount directly to a specific grant of their choosing. Whether a donor would like to support a specific campus, specific educator or a specific project, the Give for Grants program gives donors the flexibility of choice.

Donors can select specific grants to support financially through the website. Additionally, a donor can select to give to the Give for Grants campaign in general and not to a specific grant here. The donation window will be open from October 1 through October 31. The donation process is simple:

  1. Choose the campus
  2. Select the grant to support (or give to the general Give for Grants campaign here)
  3. Donate at any giving amount and make an impact

This year, 12 grants were submitted by educators totaling more than $29,000. The goal of the Give for Grants program is to make a lasting impact in the classrooms in CISD. Together with individual donations and the funds raised by the CEF, more grants will be funded transforming the learning in CISD. The CEF will continue to financially support the grants as in years past through donations raised in other fundraising efforts.

Donors can choose the specific grant to support at website from October 15-November 15.

Texas Education Agency promises funding for school districts offering in-person instruction through first half of 2020-21 regardless of enrollment

School districts across the state offering in-person instruction are guaranteed to receive their anticipated funding through the first half of the 2020-21 school year regardless of changes in student enrollment or attendance rates due to COVID-19, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Officials announced Oct. 1 a six-week extension to the minimum funding guarantee established due to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure flexibility and financial security for school districts, according to a press release. Remote instruction will also be fully funded for those who wish to learn from home as previously announced by TEA officials.

“Given the uncertain nature of this public health crisis, we are giving as much support and flexibility as possible to school districts to ensure that we are balancing the need for student learning with our desire to help all our state’s students, teachers, staff, and families remain healthy and safe,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement.

Statewide, school districts have generally seen a slight decline in enrollment in 2020-21 due to the pandemic, and officials said the extension allows time for enrollment to become more stable. Districts taking advantage of this extension must identify and locate students who are not currently participating in either in-person or virtual instruction.

Funding adjustments for the second semester will be based on data gathered through January, according to a press release.

To read more, visit Community Impact…

How North Texans can prepare for voting this election season

Election Day is approaching, and so are key deadlines. This election will look a little different in Texas with COVID-19 precautions and the absence of straight-ticket voting. Here are some things to look out for this October and on the Nov. 3 Election Day based on a presentation by the Texas secretary of state’s office and the League of Women Voters.


The deadline for voter registration was Oct. 5. To check on resident registration, check online here or on a local county website.

More information on early voting in specific counties can be found at each North Texas county’s elections website:

Information about state rules and guidelines can be found at the VoteTexas website; from the Texas secretary of state’s office; and Vote411, a website by the League of Women Voters.

Read more about Early Voting, Voting by Mail, Safety Precautions When Voting, Straight-Ticket Voting and Assistance While Vorting at Community Impact…

Once Upon a Time – Historic Family Lost Farm, Will Keep Cemetery Forever

Article By Chris Daigle, Houston Historian

Drivers on Long Point scarcely notice the fenced off area in a parking lot at the corner with Pech Road. Many might think it’s a community garden because of all the weeds. Once upon a time, this was part of a massive farm, and the home of Spring Branch pioneers.

Here was the farm and home of the Hillendahl Family, landowners since 1854 when land cost $2.00 an acre and Long Point was an empty country road. About the size of an average suburban patio, the pebblestone cemetery is surrounded by a four foot hurricane fence. The city wouldn’t allow posts on the street side because of the fear of drivers crashing into cemetery, so it is left vulnerable on its western flank.

A few long-time residents still look backward with the Hillendahls, and even still care. Most of them are In their 80’s and 90’s now, like Danny Turner, who remembers the howls of wolves along Wirt Road, and pasture land as far as the eye could see, before the parking lots that surround the graves now.

Once there were five cars a day on this empty country road, d past a place that lives in history. rations of Hillendahls, many of whom lived and died on this land on a deserted dirt road that went to Houston.The holdouts against the forward march of progress, Arnold Hillendahl Sr. and wife Etta continued with the property long after Spring Branch ceased to be a rural outpost.

News stories in the Chronicle, Post, and Houston Press detailed the Hillendahls’ stand against urbanization, and their ultimate surrender to it in 1962. By then, Long Point had been paved for years, and there were stores and a restaurant or two. Long time resident Jerry Simonton was 10 in the 1950’s remembers, “We would play behind that farm, and watched Arnold plow that land with a mule. There was a lot of land, but most of it was trees.”

Arnold had already sold off most of the massive farm, including that which became the Monarch Oaks neighborhood. Taxes of $200 an acre made a family farm untenable. He gave 5 acre parcels to each of his four kids: Rosie, Arnold Jr., Herb, and Ruth. All but 12 acres went into Monarch Oaks.

Arnold and Etta farmed those last 12 acres until they were surrounded by progress. They raised the white flag, gave up the farm, and moved a few miles west. Houston caught up with them there, too. When they moved, they took the farmhouse, a couple of magnolia trees, and Rock, their 21-year-old mule, with them. Two century old barns were demolished, along with the pens, smokehouse, and chicken coops. An old well, dug by hand a century earlier, was covered over. Developers turned what was left of the Hillendahl farm into a parking lot and shopping center, with a 80.000 sq. ft. and Kmart at it’s center. A sea of concrete was poured over land that once grew corn, beets, onions,cabbage, and peas.

The only trace remaining, besides a street named after the Hillendahl family, is the cemetery. This will remain, no matter what. Arnold Hillendahl Jr. says his father saw to that.“The cemetery is set up with the city, county, and state to remain a cemetery. It took Dad five or six years to get that through. He wanted to make sure it would never get moved.”

A trust fund provides for maintenance of the little plot of land, final resting place for 20 of the Hillendahl family, including the patriarch, Heinrich Hillendahl. He purchased the farm’s original 80 acres in 1851 for $2.00 an acre. The rest was added in 1904. Heinrich buried his wife Elizabeth there in 1854. When he died in 1870, he too was added there.

Though the Hillendahl farm ranged from Long Point to what is now Westview Drive, and from Pech Road to Monarch Oaks, the family owned property all over Spring Branch. The family owned the first post office, and from 1885 to 1912, the area was known as Hillendahl.

How different were times back then? “We used to drive the cattle down to Wirt Road in the morning, and bring them home in the evening,” says Ruth. They talk of well water, wagon rides, chores, and switch whippings. The family laments the loss of the farm, and a fading way of life in general. Herb says their father was born and died at the farm, and their mother, Henrietta Viola Williams, known as “Etta,” was born a mile away, where 610 is now.

The family travelled in a buggy to get into town for provisions, and would make homemade sausage, homemade bacon, homemade ham. Vegetables were plentiful. For fun, Herb and Arnold played ball and rode bicycles to Houston when its city limits were miles from home. Produce grown on the farm fed much of Houston, and was sold at the Farmer’s Market on weekends.”You didn’t dare get in trouble then,” says Ruth. “Because when you get home, Daddy already knows about it. He didn’t have to whip us, he had to just look at you.”

The memories spring like the flowers on their ancestor’s graves. “Giving up the farm the family had for over a hundred years was the hardest thing Daddy ever did,” says Ruth. “Where the old house was, you could look out and see nothing. Then the city put up a bridge across from us.”

“They were sad, but they knew there was nothing they could do about it,” says Herb. “They never showed emotion much.”

Danny Carter’s family weren’t Spring Branch pioneers, but he laments the changes. “It’s all these apartments now. I was in the service when this was farmland. I came back and got married, and everything changed. We didn’t have air conditioning back then. We’d keep the windows open and hear the wolves out on Wirt Road.”

Most area residents are glad to see Spring Branch spiffed up from its former image of the 1970’s, but the fact is, revitalization is about the future, not the past. Even if it develops into a futuristic haven, it never again will be the pastoral world the Hillendahls remember.

Herb talks instead of the swimming hole at the creek that gave Spring Branch its name. He’s the only one living near the former farm. Some mornings he waters and tends the crepe myrtles on his ancestor’s graves. Each ancestor gets their favorite flower on his or her gravestone. It’s part of an old German philosophy that says, “From death springs new life. Herb tries not to linger too long or notice the busy traffic on Long Point, which is 20 feet away these days.

Once there were five cars a day on this empty country road, driving past a place that lives in history.

Once upon a time.


CHRIS DAIGLE is a native Houstonian and a contributing editor to The Grapevine Source. All articles and photos are copyright Chris Daigle. To contact Chris, click HERE.

North Texas Police Officer Who Doubles as ‘Captain America’ Gets New Superhero Look for Ride

On Wednesday morning, Midlothian Police Officer Christopher Douglas got a custom new look for his alter-ego ride.

“He said he wanted it Captain America-themed,” Nick Daryanani of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’s Custom Car Wrap’ in Dallas said.

“The real hero in him is going out and changing those kids’ lives.”

Officer Douglas dresses up as Captain America to visit sick children in DFW area hospitals. He brought in his Chevy Silverado to get a custom Captain America wrap, but didn’t know until the reveal on Wednesday that Daryanani would not take payment for it. The wrap was free.

Douglas dropped to his knees, overcome with emotion when workers lifted the tarp to show the truck.

“I knew it was going to be remarkable, I just didn’t know this,” Douglas said. “Unbelievable!”

Read more from NBCDFW Channel 5…

GPISD’s Hobbs Williams Elementary School Named 2020 National Blue Ribbon School

The Grand Prairie Independent School District is proud to announce that Hobbs Williams Elementary School has been named a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School. Williams is one of only 367 schools across the country to be recognized today by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as a Blue Ribbon School based on overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“We are extremely proud of the students and staff of Hobbs Williams Elementary School,” said Linda Ellis, GPISD Superintendent of Schools. “This award affirms their hard work and commitment to excellence.”

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years. 

“Congratulations to this year’s National Blue Ribbon School awardees,” said Secretary DeVos. “It’s a privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students’ needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives.”

The U.S. Education Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores and graduation rates:

·         Exemplary High Performing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

·         Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The U.S. Education Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education (CAPE).

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13.

Gerry Miller selected as CISD Coordinator of Fine Arts

The Coppell ISD Board of Trustees approved Coppell High School Band Director Gerry Miller as the district’s Coordinator of Fine Arts during their meeting Sept. 28 

“For the past five years, I have seen firsthand Mr. Miller’s dedication to our student performers and the fine arts program at CHS, as well as his instilling a passion for instrumental music in our middle schools,” CISD Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt said. “He has elevated our high school band to achieve at the highest levels, while demonstrating a commitment to all of our fine arts’ disciplines.

In his new role, he will continue to help ensure the creativity of our students can flourish and thrive allowing them to demonstrate success in a variety of ways.  I am excited to see the impact Mr. Miller’s leadership will have on our fine arts program in CISD, which will include helping to spearhead our future orchestra program.”

Miller begins his new duties on Oct. 1. For the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, he will continue to serve as the CHS Band Director, in addition to his new duties.  The hiring process for a new CHS Band Director will begin in the spring. 

“It is my distinct honor to have been selected to serve as Coppell ISD’s Coordinator of Fine Arts,” Miller said. “The arts play a vital role in the well-rounded education of every child in CISD, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to continue to grow our already superb fine Arts programs into the very best for our staff and students.”

Miller joined CISD as the Coppell High School Director of Bands and the school’s Fine Arts Department Chair in 2016. Prior to joining CISD, Miller served as the founding Director of Bands and Fine Arts Department Chair at Wakeland High School in Frisco ISD. 

He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Loyola University New Orleans. He currently serves as an Area Band Chair for the Texas Music Educators Association, the Marching Band Vice President for the Texas Music Adjudicators Association and as a music judge for Drum Corps International.

Miller and his wife, Lori, live in Frisco. They have two sons, Gerry, who attends the University of North Texas, and Benjamin, who attends Griffin Middle School in Frisco ISD. 

Q&A: Candidates for mayor of Keller discuss relevant city issues

Three people, Tag Green, Armin Mizaniand Mark Mathews, are throwing in their hats for the position on Keller City Mayor. Here’s what they had to say:

Tag Green:

Why did you decide to run for office?

TG: Passion for people. Our family searched for two years to find our home in Keller. That was almost 15 years ago. Our two youngest children graduated from Keller schools, and we have two grandchildren in Keller schools now. We love our city, our schools and our neighbors—hose who live in our cul-de-sac and those across all of Keller. Five years ago, I felt led to step out to be an influence in our community for positive things. That culminated in being elected to Keller City Council, where I have served you the past three years. Keller is a great place to live and has so much to offer, so much to preserve and protect. We need leadership with vision that looks beyond this month, this year or even this decade to assure we steward our city’s resources with excellence and integrity.

Mark Mathews:

Why did you decide to run for office?

MM: We all have a choice. We can complain or choose to help make our city better. I choose to be “for” something. I’d like to see Keller do better.

Armin Mizani:

Why did you decide to run for office?

AM: Keller is and will always be my home. As a husband and [as a] father to two young kids, I could not be more committed to making sure that Keller is prepared for a prosperous future. The vision I share for Keller is an ambitious one: to be recognized as “Texas’s Most Friendly City.” To do this, we must appreciate the past all the while keeping our sights towards the future. We must bring real taxpayer relief, attract quality economic development that is both vibrant and experiential, prioritize our roads, sidewalks and infrastructure, ensure public safety and maintain Keller’s unique character through our parks and trails. Above all else, we must put our residents first—all 45,000 residents, regardless of whether they voted for you or your opponent.

Read more questions and answers at Community Impact…

McKinney City Council to consider updates to master thoroughfare plan

As part of a collection of minor changes to the city of McKinney’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, a few changes are being proposed to the city’s master thoroughfare plan.

The master thoroughfare plan provides general locations for future streets and roads in McKinney. Thoroughfare alignments might shift as roads are engineered and designed to accommodate planning and developments as well as flood plains.

The updates were presented to McKinney Planning and Zoning commissioners Sept. 22, who approved the changes to the comprehensive plan and sent them with a favorable recommendation for McKinney City Council to consider Oct. 20.

The most significant change to the thoroughfare plan occurs in the New Hope area, where the North Texas Municipal Water District facility is going in, city staff said. This caused staff to make some alignment changes to work around that facility.

Read more from Community Impact…