Carol Vig

This roundup of news around Dallas comes replete with quantity, there are many items, the question is, are they quality items? There's a drop in violent crime. A proposal to turn one-way streets into two-way streets. There are grants for women, and parks for seniors. There's a meet-up with an author, a late night at the DMA, and a fancy new fountain at a downtown park.

Here's what happened in Dallas this week:

Violent crime drop
Violent crime has dropped in Dallas, following a Violent Crime Reduction Strategic Plan implemented by the Dallas Police Department in 2021. In the first year, overall violent street crime (murders, robbery, nonfamily violence aggravated assault) is down 12 percent citywide. Violent crime in Dallas had been on the rise in the three years leading up to the Crime Plan implementation, and it still is in many large U.S. cities.

The Crime Reduction Plan was developed by the Dallas Police Department, University of Texas-San Antonio criminology and criminal justice professors Drs. Michael Smith and Rob Tillyer, and the City of Dallas. According to a release from the DPD, it uses evidence-based strategies including hot spot policing, placed network investigations and focused deterrence. DPD Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement that there is still work to be done but the numbers show positive results.

Klyde Warren Park fountain
A new water feature called the Nancy Best Fountain has opened at Klyde Warren Park, between Olive and Pearl streets. The design features three stainless-steel "trees," 14 "rosebud" bubblers, and 106 small nozzles that create giant leaves, plus a 5,000-square foot splash pad that can accommodate hundreds of children at a time. At sunset, it'll display a 30- to 45-minute choreographed light and music show. Guests are allowed to play in the water even during the show, which a release says is unique. The fountain is powered by recirculated water, which goes through a continuous, four-step filtration and sanitizing process.

Two way streets
Dallas City Council member Jesse Moreno is requesting an evaluation for a possible two-way street conversion of three streets in East Dallas that include Peak Street, Haskell Avenue, and Graham Avenue. The rationale is that two-way street conversions can enhance mobility, accessibility, and safety. There's been a trend recently to transform one-way streets, most recently one in Oak Cliff.

Parks for seniors
WellMed Charitable Foundation presented Dallas with $150,000 to give senior citizens free access to recreation programs. Dallas Park and Recreation will use the gift to waive annual and monthly fees at city recreation centers for adults 60 and older. Since the first donation was announced in March 2017, more than 29,500 adults have enrolled at a City of Dallas recreation center. WCF is the philanthropic partner of WellMed and USMD Health System.

Grants for women
The Texas Women’s Foundation has distributed $7.1 million in grants to 223 nonprofits and $2.1 million in programs to build more equitable communities to address the pressing needs of the women and girls and their families. The Foundation raises funding from a broad base of donors, including individuals, foundations, and corporations. For a complete list of grantees, visit txwf.org/grants.

Shady doc
Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., a 59-year-old anesthesiologist, has been charged with injecting nerve blocking agents and other drugs into patient IV bags at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas. According to a release from the US Attorney's office, Dr. Melanie Kaspar, a fellow doctor at the facility, died from a lethal dose of bipuvacaine, found in an IV bag she used. Ortiz was the only person caught on camera handling IV bags that resulted in her death as well as multiple cardiac emergencies.

DMA Late Night
Creative Arts Center of Dallas is partnering with the Dallas Museum of Art on Late Night, taking place September 16 from 5-11 pm, hey that's tonight, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the life and work of Mexican American artist Octavio Medellín. There'll be music, artist demonstrations, curator talks, a poetry workshop led by Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez, film screenings, tours of the exhibition Octavio Medellín: Spirit and Form, a Texas art scavenger hunt, and a live painting of the Mexican flag on a monumental scale.

Meet the author
Author Alex Temblador will make an appearance at Half Price Books at 5803 E. Northwest Hwy. on Sunday, September 18 at 1 pm. According to the Lake Highlands Advocate, Temblador won the 2019 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Young Adult Fiction Award, and Kirkus Reviews' Best of YA Books 2018. Her newest book is an adult novel called Half Outlaw, about a woman's quest to find a better future while wrestling with a rocky past. She'll sign books, then join fellow author Samantha Mabry (Tigers, Not Daughters), in a discussion about culture moderated by Half Price Books' Becky Gomez, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. RSVP here.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar

New cat cafe prowls into this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This Week's Hot Headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. New cat cafe will prowl into East Dallas from kitty rescue group. A well-known Dallas cat rescue organization is expanding its reach with a new cat cafe. Called the Cat Café, it's from nonprofit A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), and will provide a home for rescued cats, a sanctuary for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and a place for abandoned cats to get access to veterinary care.

2. Dallas hot rod king Richard Rawlings is clearing out Gas Monkey Garage. There was a double dose of news about Dallas hot rodder Richard Rawlings this week. First came news that the Fast N' Loud reality show star and owner of Gas Monkey Garage was selling off a slew of classic cars — nearly his entire collection. Then came word that he's gearing up to open another bar-restaurant mega-venue in Dallas-Fort Worth.

3. Dallas designer serves up new sustainable loungewear brand inspired by Juicy Couture. Dallas-born designer Monica Millington is launching a new loungewear brand that, she hopes, will provide an ethical alternative to fast fashion while playing on millennial nostalgia. Called Sette, it's a line of sustainable, unisex loungewear officially launching online Saturday, August 27.

4. Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with ultra-hot happy hours. Fall has (almost) arrived, and if there's one thing that a change in seasons always brings to mind, it's happy hours. This August edition of Where to Drink rounds up five new candidates with exciting happy hour programs, some with great drink specials, some with food and drink, and one that's really just all about a cheap martini at lunch.

5. Cirque du Soleil's first-ever Christmas show makes Dallas debut for 2022 holidays. 'Twas four months before Christmas and all through Dallas-Fort Worth, holiday event news was stirring — and now comes a Cirque. Cirque du Soleil’s inaugural Christmas show, "‘Twas the Night Before…" will make its North Texas debut at Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie during the 2022 holiday season.

A new cat cafe is coming to East Dallas.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar
A new cat cafe is coming to East Dallas.

Drought uncovers ancient dinosaur tracks at park in Glen Rose Texas

Dinosaur News

Ancient dinosaur tracks were uncovered in a famous Texas park: The tracks, dating back approximately 113 million years, were discovered in a dried-out riverbed at Dinosaur Valley State Park, 75 miles southwest of Dallas, on August 18.

The tracks were revealed due to the drought. Under normal weather conditions, they would have remained hidden underwater, as they have for these many decades. But thanks to climate change, patches of the Paluxy River, which runs through the park, dried out completely. According to park officials, it brought the tracks to light.

Sadly for dino fans, it's fleeting: With the rains crossing Texas this week, the tracks are anticipated to soon (maybe already) be buried again.

"While these newer dinosaur tracks were visible for a brief amount of time, it brought about the wonder and excitement about finding new dinosaur tracks at the park," said a park spokesperson in a statement. "Dinosaur Valley State Park will continue to protect these 113-million year-old tracks not only for present, but future generations."

The tracks are believed to belong to the Acrocanthosaurus, a dinosaur that would stand about 15 feet tall and weigh nearly seven tons. The other species found at the park is the Sauroposeidon, a much larger dinosaur at 60 feet tall and weighing about 44 tons.

Park rangers at Dinosaur Valley State Park caution that the visibility of any dinosaur tracks depends on how much rain the area receives. If you go there, you may not see these tracks. You probably won't see these tracks.

The tracks have made international news, after a group called the Friends of Dinosaur Valley State Park posted photos showing a clean-up of the space. The discovery has been covered by CNN, the BBC, and major networks. Everyone loves dinosaurs.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar

New cat cafe will prowl into East Dallas from kitty rescue group

Cat News

A well known Dallas cat rescue organization is expanding its reach with a new cat cafe. Called the Cat Café, it's from nonprofit A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), and will provide a home for rescued cats, a sanctuary for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and a place for abandoned cats to get access to veterinary care.

The cafe will open side by side with an adoption center and luxury boarding near Garland and Peavy.

AVAP president Caroline Stovall, who has worked with a number of rescues in Dallas, and her husband Rob have purchased two buildings: 1211 Casa Vale, which will be home to the cat café and adoption area; and 10320 Garland Rd., which will be home to the boarding facility.

According to a release, these buildings are being renovated with a planned opening later this year.

"Our team, along with volunteers, will run the cat café and adoption center," Stovall says. "We will run it like a business with a coffee shop where people can work. We see the coffee shop as a means of funding our non-for-profit organization, too."

AVAP will do treatments such as spay/neuter, medications, and baths, as well as provide a place for cats to become socialized around people and other animals. Having a place where people can visit cats ready for adoption will be a huge benefit to AVAP.

"Cats generally receive less attention than dogs when it comes to shelters," Stovall says. "Creating a center and cafe that focuses specifically on cats and kittens will help the community meet them and find their forever homes."

Nancy Stephenson, AVAP's original founder and well known for her cat rescue work in Dallas, relocated to Oregon in July, but is still involved in operations, fundraising, and marketing, while Stovall handles day-to-day operations.

Board members also involved include Libby Cooley, Shelley Dai, and Dr. Gail Bushur-Irwin (Medical Director), who are all East Dallas residents.

Volunteers are welcome, as are donations, at avoiceforallpaws.com.

The organization offers these tips if you see stray cats:

  • If you see kittens, leave them alone. Moms have to leave to go to eat. They rarely abandon kittens.
  • Don't give cats away without getting them spayed or neutered.
  • Fees for cat adoptions are higher because cats often require more medical needs than dogs. Cats have a more difficult time regulating body temperature (hypothermia), and they can have hypoglycemia.

Tiger cub found in home during arrest of mediocre Dallas rapper Trapboy Freddy

Animal News

A baby tiger cub was found on August 17 in the Dallas home of a mediocre rapper named Trapboy Freddy, real name Devarius Dontez Moore.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Marshals took the 30-year-old into custody on Wednesday on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and found the baby tiger in a cage.

It's illegal to have a tiger as a pet in Dallas. It's also cruel to keep a wild animal in a cage.

Dallas Animal Services was summoned and took possession of the animal which is now in the custody of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

His initial appearance is slated for Friday August 19 at 10 am before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan.

Fox 4 notes that the rapper has a criminal history including unlawful carry of a firearm, assault, drug possession, and multiple probation violations. His Instagram page is loaded with typical thug images such as him sitting at a table with piles of cash.

According to NBC DFW, Moore lives at 2700 block of Meadow Gate Lane, in southern Oak Cliff near Highway 67 and Interstate 20.

He's not listed on DCAD as a homeowner, so that means he's a renter. All that money and doesn't even own his own home. Based on DCAD records, it looks like the home he's renting is owned by Huang Rong Sheng Lin & Li Qi Hong, who reside at 5806 Ray St in El Cerrito, California — out-of-state investors with no current ties or commitment to the area.

One Instagram photo shows him with what would seem to be the tiger cub on a leash. The photo tags an Instagram page called Cool Money Kennels, which breeds all your thug favorites — "Frenchies, bullies, bulldogs, stud/pups." The CEO is listed as, surprise surprise, Trapboy Freddy.

He seems to like to show his "manhood" by dominating animals; his Facebook page has photos of him holding a huge cobra snake.

Dallas swarms to No. 1 spot in ranking of buggiest cities in the U.S.

Creepy crawlies

There’s some buzz going around Texas: Dallas is the buggiest city — yes, even buggier than Houston.

Thumbtack, a home management app that connects owners with service providers, took note of its bug-related service requests, and ranked Dallas the No. 1 buggiest city in the United States.

Austin hooked No. 4, and Houston crawled in at No. 5.

A quick note about methodology: This data came entirely from consumers on Thumbtack, requesting “pest control, pest inspection, bed bug extermination, and outdoor pesticide application.” Those numbers were adjusted for population and ranked across an unspecified number of states. (If one city has fewer bugs than another, it just wants to get rid of them more.)

Thumbtack calculated a national average of $50-200 per household on extermination services, but before spending that, residents can consider cheap, nontoxic solutions like diatomaceous earth (fossilized plankton) and neem oil. Be gentle on spiders and pollinators — which includes lots of flying insects that aren’t bees — and don’t panic when the heat sends a few more buggies into your air-conditioned home.

“Keep bugs out all summer by turning on a dehumidifier, eliminating standing water in your yard and garden and by keeping screenless windows shut,” said Thumbtack home expert David Steckel in a press release. Bug control doesn’t always mean waging war, either. “Hiring a bug control professional can help identify areas for improvement and provide you with regular maintenance to avoid problems down the line.”

The Top 10 Buggiest Cities in the U.S., according to Thumbtack, are:

1. Dallas
2. Atlanta
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Austin
5. Houston
6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
7. West Palm Beach, Florida
8. Baltimore
9. Orlando, Florida
10. Tampa, Florida

Texas towns are slightly outnumbered by those in Florida on the list, yet Texas still fell far below Florida on a CNBC list of best places to live, where the Lone Star State ranked second-to-last.

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Texas hot spot hooks No. 1 ranking as best college city in America

Studies Show, Study Here

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows.

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the No. 1 college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside in Austin, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169).

Dallas landed well down the list in every category: wallet friendliness (226), academic & economic opportunities (168), and social environment (147).

Fort Worth fell even farther down the list in the same categories: wallet friendliness (242), academic & economic opportunities (201), and social environment (149).

Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Christmas spirit is in full swing, with all but one of this week’s events being holiday-themed. Check off pics with Santa for both the family and fur babies; take a Christmas cocktail-making class; sample holiday spirits from around the world; and stroll acres of candlelit walkways while indulging in holiday hors d’oeuvres and drinks – just to name a few. ‘Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 6

Caymus Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Decadent four-course meal features pairings with wines from award-winning Caymus. Courses include Stuffed Mushrooms with Shrimp, Rigatoni Al Forno with Chicken, Filet & Scallop Spiedino with Mashed Potatoes, and Crème Brulée, paired with Caymus wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum Red Blend. The dinner is $75 starts at 6:30 pm. For the Dallas location, reserve here, and for Plano, reserve here.

Fontodi Wine Dinner at La Stella Cucina Verace
The Dallas Arts District Italian restaurant will host a five-course dinner paired with wines from Fontodi, a producer located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Courses will include beef carpaccio, butternut squash cappellacci with brown butter and sage, porchetta di Pienza with marble potatoes, Wagyu New York strip tagliata with porcini mushroom and butternut squash, and apple crostata. Dinner begins at 7 pm and is $175 plus tax and gratuity.

Thursday, December 8

Santa Paws at Texican Court Hotel
The Irving hotel invites furry friends and their humans to pop by for photos with Santa and complimentary hot apple cider and s’mores by the fire. Santa will be available for pet photos from 5-7 pm. Also enter to win a “Pups Night Away” overnight stay. Don’t miss the hotel’s pocket tequila bar, Salt, for new holiday cocktails in jolly keepsake glassware.

Reindeer Games Bar Crawl
Here’s a holiday bar crawl that spans beyond just drink specials. Participants get their money’s worth with a night of mini golf, axe throwing, unlimited video games, a chartered “sleigh bus,” and a pizza buffet. Start at Another Round and make stops at Flashback Retro Pub, LoneStar Axe Dallas, and Sylvan Avenue Tavern. Participants will also get a beer or seltzer at each stop. Tickets are $150 per duo, and the crawl will run from 6:15-10:30 pm.

Holiday Spirits Around the World at Hotel Vin
Sample an array of global spirits during this tasting experience at Grapevine’s Hotel Vin. Spirits to be served include Montenegro Italian liqueur, The Dalmore Scottish whiskey, Komo tequila, and Horse Soldier bourbon. Each spirit will be paired with globally-inspired bites. The tasting is $50 and will begin at 7 pm.

Friday, December 9

Cocktails by Candlelight at Old City Park
Candlelight will feature more than 13 acres of holiday cheer with decorated buildings, carolers, craft vendors, and candlelit walkways in Old City Park. Its 50th edition is set to begin on December 10, but adults only can get a sneak peek the night before during Cocktails by Candlelight, which comes with heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple, and the event begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, December 10

Shaken, Not Stirred, Holiday Cocktail Class at Elm & Good
The modern American restaurant inside the Kimpton Pittman Hotel will host a holiday cocktail class great for groups looking to make spirits bright. Elm & Good’s lead mixologist Indy Acevedo-Fowler will guide guests through creating three cocktails: a cranberry margarita, peppermint espresso martini, and sangria rosa. Guests will also receive a branded take-away gift. The class is $35 and will begin at 2 pm.

Sunday, December 11

Brunch with Santa at the AC Hotel Dallas by the Galleria
Meet the big guy himself while indulging in brunch dishes during this family-friendly Sunday Funday. Tickets are $25 for adults (includes one mimosa) and $15 for kids 3-12. Children will get to meet Santa and take family photos. Brunch will run from 11:30 am-1:30 pm.

Monday, December 12

12 Days of Thompson
The Thompson Hotel Dallas will spread Christmas cheer with 12 days of daily holiday activations. The festivities start Monday with Home Alone, S’mores & Sips, a movie night with cocktails themed after the Christmas classic, a s’mores bar, and movie screening amid downtown views. The price is a $15 charitable donation. Doors opens at 5 pm with the movie to start at 6 pm. Other 12 Days of Thompson events range from a pie-baking class and cookie decorating to brunch with Santa and Holiday High Tea. See the complete calendar of events here.

Dedicated volunteers extract Spaghetti Warehouse trolley from Dallas' West End

Trolley News

Thanks to a dedicated team of conservation-minded folks, the vintage trolley from the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End has been moved to a temporary new home: in a warehouse at Orr-Reed Architectural Co., the salvage store just south of downtown Dallas, which will provide a safe space for the vehicle while it undergoes a restoration.

A permanent home is still TBD, but Orr-Reed will be housing the trolley for at least the next 12 months.

The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.

The streetcar got a bid from an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.

The trolley was donated to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association in Old East Dallas who wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights.

Orr-Reed is providing the space and backup manpower for free.

"The first time it went on the auction block, I wanted to buy it because I'm obsessed with keeping the city’s history," says Orr-Reed owner Hannah Hargrove. "Dallas is known for tearing things down and replacing it with bigger and better things, but 'bigger and better' only lasts 50 years. Since we have the space, we wanted to be helpful in providing the trolley's next chapter of life."

spaghetti warehouse trolley A team unloads the Spaghetti Warehouse trolley into a warehouse at Orr-Reed.Johann Huebschmann

The move
JD Middleton, who builds out restaurants and bars for his "day job," oversaw a team of volunteers who broke the trolley down into pieces and transported it to the new location.

"My buddy JJ Velez and I saw it in the news, we both had a personal connection," Middleton says. "My grandfather drove the trolley, it's possible he drove that one, while JJ had seen it when he was a little kid, after the Christmas parade in downtown Dallas."

With another friend, Randy Lasiter, assisting, they volunteered to do it on a 100 percent volunteer basis. For the past six months, they've been going there in the early morning, before heading to their regular job sites.

"We do a lot of crazy things for customer requests, and this was right up our alley," Middleton says.

This entailed cutting the exterior into parts: removing the front and back "nose pieces," breaking down the body of the trolley into panels, then splitting up the chassis foundation — like a vertebrae that they cut up, to be reassembled by a welder.

Middleton says that Uncle Dan’s Pawn Shop donated saw blades and trailers and other equipment, as did Frida's Social Club on McKinney Avenue, who provided a big trailer and truck to haul it over to Orr-Reed.

Middleton assembled a group of friends who spent four hours on December 3, loading the trolley piece-by-piece onto trailers, then unloading it at Orr-Reed. He's also volunteered to help restore it.

"There's some rusting on the inside, it's like an old Ford Model-T that's been sitting in a garage," he says. "We'll get it sand-blasted and primed and painted, then put it back together again."

Their work is saving the Junius Heights Historic District hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's like an art project for us, and we're getting the opportunity to help take care of history," Middleton says. "JJ ate there when he was a little kid, and he'd like to take his kid to see it when it's finished. That’s why we're doing it."

Spaghetti Warehouse trolley Spaghetti Warehouse trolley, in pieces.Johann Huebschmann

The new home
The Junius Heights group does not yet have a permanent home for the trolley, nor a plan for how it will be managed or maintained. Details details.

For now, it resides in Orr-Reed's "dry house" — a warehouse they've used for overflow and for items that need to be kept out of the elements such as big furniture items, casement windows, and things that cannot get wet.

Hargrove and her staff built shelving and redesigned the warehouse to make it work.

"It'll definitely affect our day-to-day routine — there's a giant cumbersome trolley that's taking up space — but it’s worth it," Hargrove says. "If we hadn't done it, they would have had to spend a lot of money on storing it rather than restoring it. I'm a keeper of history, it’s my duty, although I've never done anything on this scale."

"We're not doing it for the money, we're doing it because someone has to," she says. "I feel like I'm doing the right thing."