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Moon addresses taxation, zoning,Botanic Gardens fees

Kelly Allen Gray clarifies process on new development

In January, Cary Moon, District 4 City Council representative, told West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association members that he applies his skills in finance to the operation of the City of Fort Worth.

“Fort Worth is the nation’s 12th largest city on its way to becoming the 10th largest,” he said. “Our budget is $1.9 billion. My approach is that the first option to increase revenue should not be to increase tax rates.”

Moon has worked to update revenue structure, investment approach, and spending strategy during his term on the council. He credits his experience as chief executive officer of a $48 million company as the basis for his approach.

“We had not increased user fees in 20 years, yet we were raising taxes. In the past year for the first time in two decades or more, the city of Fort Worth has lowered its tax rate to match the value of property,” he said. “The city tax bill is 17 percent of your taxes. You may have paid more taxes, but not because of the city. “

Moon also said it’s critical to use revenue for the right projects. Funds from a taxing district have been allocated to three elementary schools to improve lighting, sidewalks, and striping. “Spending wisely is also important,” he said.

Zoning

Moon prefers to imitate successful development approaches elsewhere. “There have been more ordinances out of my office than all the other city council offices combined.”

He believes in helping development come in but with the cooperation of the neighborhood. “If the neighborhood doesn’t want it, the development doesn’t happen,” he said.

Moon is responsible for establishing the X team, a group of city employees that can speed permitting for developments. For $1,000 per hour, the team can guarantee a permit can be finished in two weeks.  He modeled the team on similar efforts in Austin.

Botanic Gardens

Moon was the sole no vote on increasing fees to enjoy the gardens to $12. He felt the increase was too much for citizens to absorb. “There is so much emotional attachment to the gardens that I felt the fee was too high,” he said. A strategic plan for how to move forward with fee structure is expected in June 2019.

 

Infrastructure

Mary Hanna, Transportation, Planning and Public Works, who supervises a street project in central Meadowbrook addressed concerns from citizens about trash, equipment storage, and timeliness.  Hanna said the street replacement and repairs are on schedule but the contractor has been advised to clean up the work areas as much as possible.

“As for the materials, we have nowhere to stage them except on site,” she said. “Sometimes we are delayed because of deliveries, but the project is moving along as planned.”

Hanna said the street upgrades “will be beautiful when completed,” but the process is stressful.

Moon warned that street construction will be a way of life in Fort Worth as the state and city prepare for an influx of new residents and traffic. “More disruption is on the way,” he said.

2504 Oakland Avenue

District 8 Council Rep. Kelly Allen Gray announced at a second public meeting on Jan.14 that the 2504 Oakland Avenue senior development project proposed by Saigebrook Development has been paused while a committee of neighborhood residents considers the merits of the project.

 The committee will work with Megan Lasch, principle, to prepare a proposal that will be unveiled to the community. No further work on site plans will occur until Lasch and the committee have met and conferred.

“Our goal is to get everyone on the same page, “ Gray said. “We will conduct a traffic study with an engineer chosen by the committee, review the idea of a commercial component, and evaluate the number and style of structures.”

A traffic study will show the city whether or not there is an impact on traffic and how to expand Oakland Avenue by two lanes. The committee will tour Saigebrook properties to determine if they are properly managed and maintained.

Gray said: “This process needed to stop. The City of Fort Worth will support or not support the project based on what the neighborhood decides.  Now we have a committee in place to work with Saigebrook to determine if this project is viable.”

The Saigebrook proposal will be one of many projects considered by the state and the city for a tax credit-based funding system designed to redevelop established neighborhoods. Deadline to submit a proposal to the city is Feb.5.  The city will then choose which projects to support.

“We have months ahead of us. This is a very competitive process at the local and state level,” Gray said.

District 8 City Council Representative Kelly Allen Gray

Announces Expansion of Children's Library to Include Playground

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In a wide-ranging presentation on District 8 progress, City Council Member Kelly Allen Gray surprised West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association members with the news that a playground will be added to the much anticipated Children’s Library on East Lancaster Avenue opening in 2020.

Vacant land adjacent to the library was slated for later development, but Gray says the Parks and Recreation Department, Storm Water management, and other city departments have agreed to add a playground while the library is under construction this year.

“Our library is 90 percent through the design phase. No later than May, we will see a design and begin discussing a name for our library.  We’ve chosen an artist, and I think we will all be really excited about the designs. We have an acre left on the site that would have become a playground in the future. The future is now!”  Gray announced. “This library just keeps getting better and better.”

The East Lancaster library has been a lifelong ambition for Wanda Conlin, a longtime resident of West Meadowbrook and a donor to the project. She and husband, Don Boren, have been involved in the library design and artist selection since the bond election approving funds to build the library.

In other news, McDonald YMCA opened in January in Renaissance Square with over 35,000 feet of child care, aquatics, and a fitness center. The facility is a partnership with the YMCA, City of Fort Worth, Amon Carter Foundation, Morris Foundation, Child Care Association and the community. The YMCA pool will be open to all residents. A partnership between Cooks Children and YMCA will offer drowning prevention classes at McDonald.

Business

Integrated Systems is building a new industrial warehouse at Everman and I35.  Hillwood Properties has also constructed an industrial park farther south along I35. Gray said businesses that can’t afford Alliance and want to do business in Fort Worth have moved to south Fort Worth.  Jackson Shaw has been approved to construct a complex with 40 acres of green space and 140 acres of development in Carter Industrial Park. McClane Foods is building a new business with 400 new jobs in same complex. Ben E. Keith is expanding in south Fort Worth adding 280 jobs at $75,000 in revenue annually. The Evans and Rosedale urban village is continuing to develop with a tech space made of shipping containers that is almost at capacity.  A request for expression of interest is out to potential businesses to seek further expansion.

Housing

A Columbia Renaissance multifamily project in Renaissance Square is 100 percent leased. A senior project is going through planning and development, and a multifamily project at Campus Drive with Fort Worth Housing Solutions is in progress. Redevelopment of Cavile and Butler housing project is moving people across the city to projects designed as mixed income, meaning a mix of units at market and affordable rates.

District 8 is historically a single family district, Gray said. She is working on a rezoning project in United Riverside Association where industrial and single family co-exist well together.  “It’s always a fight between industrial and housing in most neighborhoods, but in Riverside for six decades business and residential have protected each other,” she said. She is working to protect single family zoning now at B2 family. With this zoning, if the property were destroyed, a duplex could be built in its place. Gray is working to ensure single family and duplexes have correct zoning to retain mix of industrial and residential.

Parks and PID

Normandy Park near East Lancaster is being redone to add new playgrounds equipment and walking trails for residents.  Oakland Park dam and spillway, damaged by heavy rains and erosion, is going to be under construction and completed by November 2020. 

In a victory for West Meadowbrook, East Lancaster’s public improvement district has been certified and approved and will begin collecting taxes to support safety projects.

“Kudos to Haydn Cutler, Fort Worth Police Department, Code Compliance, East Fort Worth Business Association and volunteers who signed up businesses to support the PID,” Gray said. “Security and safety will be the priority for this PID. The PID is to help support what the PD does and ensure businesses are safe, customers feel secure, and panhandling is reduced. To everyone who knocked on doors and made phone calls to ensure PID came to fruition, thank you.”

Nuisance properties

TL Food Store on East Lancaster has a court date in April regarding a permanent injunction on this problem food store.  The store was inspected on Jan. 11. Improvements had been made but the property is still heading to court. The FWPD asked owners to complete five tasks:

  • Improve security on premises

  • Remove excess signage

  • Install cameras inside, outside and at edges of store

  • Ensure a manager is on property at all times

  • Remove all gaming machines

  • Hire private security  

TL Food Store has partially complied, but the injunction will go forward.

2504 Oakland Avenue

Going into the holiday season in 2018, discussions around this proposed Saigebrook Development project descended into confusion. The 2.77 acre tract of vacant land is undergoing a project planning phase for Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs tax credit funding. Gray said: “We decided to hit reset in January to start to work on what could actually be on this site.”  In February, the City of Fort Worth sent a letter of support along with WMNA to TDHCA regarding the application. Gray emphasized that this does not mean that the project is a go. The proposed project must score well enough to get tax credits from the TDHCA. “West Meadowbrook benefits from this proposal as a community because we will have a traffic study, site plan and other information that we didn’t have before. Not a done deal by any means,” Gray said. “The process is highly competitive.”

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Fort Worth Libraries Will Extend Operating Hours,

Expand Services Under New Plan

Michele Gorman, assistant library director for Fort Worth Library System, announced at the March meeting that a strategic plan developed after a communitywide survey last year will prompt some important changes to the system’s operations. Gorman is responsible for all public services in the system.

One of the first, tangible changes to be made as part of the strategic plan developed by Gorman and the library system will be the extension of all operational hours (10 a.m. – 8 p.m.) systemwide on March 30. Regional libraries will also add Sunday hours. Gorman also announced the library would be hiring a new adult programs director to drive outreach throughout the system.

Survey findings and mission statement

“The number one library users of libraries are millennials,” Gorman said, citing American Library Association research in 2018. Born between 1981 and 2001, millennials are young parents today. “They use libraries in part because of limited income.”

Forty three percent of people asked said they could find materials and entertainment not available anywhere else in the community library. Another 42 percent said libraries provide help with skills needed in the workplace.

Gorman said the Fort Worth library system is “woefully, woefully” underutilized. Libraries that are well-used often offer 20,000-25,000 programs versus Fort Worth’s 4,000 programs.

 “Are you a learner, dreamer or a doer?” Gorman asked the group. The library system’s new mission statement is “Building a community of learners, dreamers and doers.”

“We recognize people are passionate about coming together. We want to give all members of the community a place to gather and grow,” she said. “We also had a chance to redefine values.”

 The library’s values are to be customer focused, community driven, curious and creative, inclusive and accessible, and trustworthy and accountable. “The library will think outside the box, ensure all customers are served, and be good stewards of taxpayer money,” she added.

Community engagement

Six strategic focus areas were developed from survey results. Each on of these areas will help the library serve the community and be accountable to the city over next three years.

  1. Customer engagement – The library system is committed to increasing usage, providing services in community, eliminating fines and fees, and hosting more workshops and classes for adults.  

  2. Arts and culture – The system will contribute to the city’s art’s scene by highlighting digital archives, local artists, jazz programming year-round in all libraries, partnerships with Jubilee Theatre, Performing Arts Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Symphony, and hosting genealogy research workshops.

  3. Books and reading – Libraries in Fort Worth will cultivate a community of readers through book clubs, mobile author visits, book signings, and readings.

  4. Community vitality – The system will nurture local entrepreneurship and build a resource collection for communities of business owners. Also, libraries will introduce mobile maker spaces and computer classes.

  5. Education and growth – Public libraries want to make learning fun and enjoyable. Libraries want to offer computer coding, circuitry, technology, STEM and additional skills training. New partnerships with the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other youth service partnerships are ahead.

  6. Employee empowerment – Staff preparation is essential to offer new programs such as workshops and classes, as well as safe and welcoming spaces. The library system will also seek grants and awards for expanding services at our branches.

 

“The most important thing that I want you to know is that the future is ours. We know that we have so many opportunities to try new things. Under Director Manya Shorr’s guidance and leadership and with the city’s support, we are going to do great things,” Gorman said.

During a question and answer session, Gorman said the artist hired to design the East Lancaster children’s library has previewed a highly interactive, tactile design for the building to be completed by 2020. “The artist has come up with a unique, one-of-a-kind environment that will thrill children,” she said.

Kelly Allen Gray

Chris Nettles

2019 District 8 Candidate's Forum

Two candidates for the City of Fort Worth’s District 8 City Council seat participated in a forum moderated by Gary Cumbie and sponsored by West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association on April 15. Kelly Allen Gray, the incumbent, and Chris Nettles, challenger, answered questions and presented their vision for the area ahead of the May 4 municipal elections.

In a format agreed upon by both candidates, the pair introduced themselves, and then responded to a series of questions from the association and audience during the hour-long forum. Biographies were circulated in advance of the meeting and shared on the day of the meeting.

“What excites me most at serving on the Council is serving people in so many ways and being that voice for the community. Every day it is my desire to improve someone’s life, “ Gray said in her opening statement.

She has served on the Council since 2012 and is seeking a second full term.  She touted her record on economic development, housing, city services, parks, neighborhood association development. Gray cited her work to improve East Lancaster Avenue, create Vision Lancaster and develop a new, state-of-the art children’s library to open in 2020.

Nettles is a business owner in District 8, pastor, and Tarrant County employee. He believes he has a better vision for District 8 because of his meetings with residents and vision for area. Nettles said new leadership is needed to bring District 8 up. “The East side of Fort Worth does not look like the West side of Fort Worth,” Nettles said. “I want to make sure we bring economic development to east Fort Worth.” He noted the loss of grocery stores in the area in the last seven years. “I want to be voice for entire district,” he said. He promises a homeless initiative that targets employment and road and lighting improvement.

How will you help revitalization of Texas Wesleyan University area to spread to East Fort Worth?

Nettles encouraged partnerships. He would meet with Renaissance Square Board to work with them to create a plan for the surrounding area. “I would be working with neighborhoods and support the needs of district,” he said. He believes promises have been made to the District and have not been fulfilled.

Gray said there are already great relationships between TWU and Renaissance Square Board. With the creation of East Lancaster public improvement district in conjunction with Oakland Corners and Polytechnic area urban villages, there is good synergy.  Union Pacific runs between Vickery and East Lancaster and there has been discussion about rail service through TWU and West Meadowbrook. The library will be another catalyst for development.

What are your plans to use the new children’s library to spark new development and retail?

Gray said the library is one of the area’s most positive developments. Since 2012, Gray says Lancaster has made great strides with the passage of a PID, new lighting and paving.  As the city continues to support good housing choices and add features such as the library, West Meadowbrook will begin to see change.

Nettles agreed that East Lancaster did not deteriorate overnight. But in seven years, more should have happened, he said. He discussed the Polytechnic golf course that residents want to transform into a walking park.  Nettles says data collection is important to prove people are supporting the new library. Developers need to know that this neighborhood is a good investment.

What will you do to alleviate litter and trash?

Nettles said code compliance should be driving streets daily and remove trash. Residents should also be vigilant and discuss the need for picking up litter. More city services, not fewer, are needed. Nettles would spend time in the district, driving roads to check for litter, and lamented the higher death rate in this area.

Gray said residents are responsible for their own neighborhoods. She said she walks with a trash bag and picks up other people’s litter. She challenged using code compliance to pick up trash. Homeless residents of Fort Worth are hired by the city to pick up trash. They will spend two to three days picking up trash once scheduled.  The new PID should encourage businesses to be more vigilant, she said.

What can we do address home rehabilitation without permitting?

Gray said notify her office and she will notify planning and development and code compliance. Not every rehab job requires a permit.  Electricians and plumbers require permits, not general construction. The city has begun discussion on how to deal with the increased activity.

Nettles agreed with Gray. Nettles said houses are being bought and turned into rooming houses. “We need an extra step to figure out what we can do quick and fast,” he said. Responses from city depend on where a citizen lives, he said. Every call to city office deserves a letter or contact with person doing construction.

Both Gray and Nettles addressed a news story about state’s effort to rollback property tax rate. Gray said if that happens, it will be devastating for cities. If the rate is 2.5 percent, Fort Worth will be making cuts to services that are necessary to the city.

Homelessness is ongoing problem. What can we do about illegal camping and homeless migration?

Nettles said processes are in place to remove campers. He said a three-step plan to assess what caused homelessness. After an assessment, place the person in a process to get out of homelessness. He believes working with businesses, physicians and service providers, homelessness can be reduced. Shelters have strict rules about who stays there.  Illegal camps at various locations entering the city are an eye sore.

Gray says there are plans in place.  The city and county both have homeless teams. Shelters all have teams dealing with homelessness across the city. Camp removal requires working with a property owner to remove tents and get people moving. Many of the camps are dangerous. “It is an issue. There are plenty of services available. We can’t make grown people do what they don’t want to do. That’s what we see living along East Lancaster. People are in place working for homeless,” she said.

Nettles said homeless people are not on Lancaster because they want to be. He feels more needs to be done by the city. Gray cited the police department, code compliance, and services all work in tandem to help homeless.

How do you push back on state efforts to control city spending?

Gray said local control has been an issue since 2015. Education spending is the largest portion of tax bill. Legislature focuses instead on city spending which is decreasing. The city has legislative affairs representative who works with Legislature to support laws that help communities. Last week two bills restricting tax rate growth did not receive enough support to move forward.

Nettles encouraged voters to participate in municipal elections. Parts of the city are not being treated the same as other areas of the city. State action reflects inequities locally. Nettles said he would ensure that entire district has same services as rest of city. District 8 has not received its fair share of revenues.

Gray followed up to say local control. The state of Texas balked at federal mandates. Now the state of Texas leadership and elected officials want to tell cities what to do. Texas wants sovereignty, but state representatives who are together only 180 days every two years now want to tell cities how to operate.

Why do you want this job?

Nettles said he wants to serve because he was born in Fort Worth and wants to represent the district because he wants to make change.  Nettles mentioned that his children wanted to take his family to entertainment venue, but he had to travel to Arlington to find something for his family to do.  He wants to bring this type of development to the district. District 8 is a food desert and lacks restaurant options, he said.

Gray mentioned Top Golf as an option for Nettles. Gray said she gets calls thanking her for actions she has taken to improve the district. “It is not a thankless job by any stretch. I know what it pays. I do this because it is what I love to do,” she said.

Nettles responded that Top Golf is too expensive for his family.  He also said calls are not always returned by the District 8 representative.  Nettles said he believes there is a better way for the district.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

Gray said she is proud of state legislation passed in 2015 that made it possible to build mixed income housing in the inner city. Because of a non-profit law suit, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had swung funding toward areas outside city loops.  State Rep. Nicole Collier authored a bill in 2015 that allowed Fort Worth to access funds through TDCHA that supported Renaissance Square, a project on Campus Drive, and veterans housing. Sunset at Fash Place on Oakland Avenue is one of the TDCHA’s potential projects.

Nettles worked on a state project in 2016 to feed at-risk children through an after school program. He applied for the funding and received support to feed children from three to 18 every day. Nettles said he is proud of the opportunity to support children who need help.

Nettles and Gray both gave closing statements reiterating their desire to represent the district and to build a better future.  City elections are Saturday, May 4.

Butterflies, Amendments on August Program

State Representative for House District 95, Nicole Collier, and Monarch butterfly

ambassador Mark Nielsen spoke to the membership meeting of

West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association in September.

Rep. Collier, who has served the district for four years, spoke briefly about what

was accomplished and what was not in the 2019 Texas Legislature biennial session.

She is the chair of the criminal jurisprudence committee,

the first woman to serve in that position and vice chair of the

general investigative committee.

She encouraged members to review 10 constitutional amendments on the ballot

in November that she supports.  Collier encouraged voters to pay attention especially

to Proposition 8 that allows Texas Water Development Board funding in Forest Hill and

Everman to replace infrastructure affected by 2019 floods. The cost of repairs

is beyond the ability of these cities to handle. With help from bonds provided by the TWDB, the cities can begin restoration.  Collier also pointed out Proposition 1 that allows an elected municipal judge to serve in more than one district. “The reason this is important is that municipal judges work for the cities, whether elected or appointed.  Appointed judges may serve in more than one city; elected judges may not. Because rural areas have difficulty finding licensed attorneys to run for judgeships, this change would allow judges to serve multiple jurisdictions.”

 

 

 

 

“There were more than 3,000 bills I supported, but there are some I didn’t,” she said. “I passed several bills that I’m proud of.”

She is particularly proud of House Bill 996 that prevents third party bill collectors from restarting statutes of limitation on bad debt that has been declared dead. Another bill Collier introduced and passed prevents furniture rental companies from arresting customers for not paying their bills. In Tarrant County, several hundred people have been arrested for delinquent payments. Her bill moved the process to civil court. Collier also unmasked a scam by apartment owners and towing companies to remove tenants’ cars from complexes to extort towing fees.  Parking permits now must be issued as long as tenants have a right to possess. She also supported raising age to buy cigarettes to 21 and a Senate bill introduced by State Senator Kelly Hancock to ensure insurance companies and providers settle disputes about balance bills between themselves.

“Senate Bill 2 did not give tax relief, but it does tie the hands of cities in providing services,” she said. “I voted against it.”

She did not vote for SB2432 referring students to alternative disciplinary education because it disproportionally affects minority children.

Nielsen, a retired financial advisor and former pilot, explained the importance of supporting Monarch butterfly migration and propagation in Texas through the Fort Worth Botanical Garden. In “Bring Back the Monarchs in Texas,” Nielsen says there is a serious problem with declining populations of Monarchs in overwintering areas in Mexico.

“The last few years the population has been meager,” he said. “Loss of habitat is one of major reasons for decline.”

Drastic changes in farming, increased use of pesticides and new species introduced into the eco system all have had an impact on Monarchs. Loss of hedgerows and open space affects Monarchs primary host plant, milkweed.  Deforestation in Mexico’s Monarch habitat has had a detrimental effect.

Monarch butterflies circulate through Texas after leaving Mexico as part of their reproductive cycle. Urban growth has consumed open spaces that often host Monarch populations. Nielsen said the ecosystem is simple – they need food, water and shelter.

Milkweed is essential to the Monarch reproductive process. Monarchs go through a series of reproductive cycles before returning to Mexico. From March to September, Monarchs may go through five generations. They travel back from Michigan to Mexico through Texas in one generation.

Egg laying lasts about five days. Tiny sacs attach underneath the leaves of milkweed plants. Larva develops in five stages, consuming milkweed sap to continue development over 15 days. A chrysalis then hardens around larva. The exoskeleton protects the butterfly as it develops. When the Monarch emerges, its wings must dry for three to four hours before it can fly.

Nielsen encouraged homeowners to plant milkweed either in the open or in gardens to support Monarch repopulation. Many varieties are available and Weston Gardens carries several options. Butterfly bushes, sage purple mist flower, daisies, cone flowers, Indian blanket, and other species are good sources of nectar. Overplanting to create shelter helps encourage Monarchs to visit. More information on how to establish a waystation can be found here.

Highway rights of way are good places for Monarch gardens. Nielsen also encouraged neighborhood associations to construct Monarch waystations in their communities. Native plants are good choices for these gardens because of their durability and sustainability. Providing a source of water, even wet pavement, can help Monarchs thrive.

Nicole Collier, House District 95

Sex and labor trafficking thrives in U.S., Texas

UB-FORTWORTH_color.png

Cathy Wilson, Unbound, opened many members eyes in October with her presentation on human trafficking in Texas, nationally, and internationally. Wilson, a volunteer who works with trafficking victims, reported that the U.S. is the top country for human trafficking and a major hub for both labor and sex trafficking. Houston is #1 in Texas sex and labor trafficking.

 

She told members that common fronts for sex trafficking are pornography, massage parlors, nail salons, online ads, modeling agencies, escort services and strip clubs. Labor trafficking is often found on farms, day labor agencies, sweatshops or factories, domestic servitude, forced begging, food service and peddling.

“Twenty percent of human trafficking victims end up in Texas,” Wilson said. “Think about that. Of the 40.3 million people who are trafficked worldwide, 20 percent end up right here.” Trafficking is also a lucrative industry earning $150 billion annually and victimizing 313,000 people annually, 79,000 of whom are minors.

The average age of sex trafficking victim is 15. “Most victims are forced to have sex on camera and are often sold for sex by family members,” she said. “Foster children are the most vulnerable because they are often in difficult circumstances and don’t have a support system.”

The industry feeds an appetite for pornography that is almost bottomless. “Pornography addiction is one of the primary reasons cited for eventually committing violent acts,” said Wilson. Pornography shapes sexual desires, desensitizes victims to forced sex, and feeds demand for trafficked individuals who are forced to have sex on camera.

Often the victims are recruited by other sex trafficking victims. “Wherever young people congregate, in malls, at ball fields, schools, there are recruiters,” she said. “You don’t think it’s happening in your city or your neighborhood, but it is. When you see a young woman or man with a neck tattoo that is a brand indicating that person belongs to a pimp or handler. Remember that these people are victims, not bad people.”

Social media is a prime method of recruiting. She told parents and grandparents to watch out for apps like Concealment, Chatting, and Connection, prime methods for criminals to talk to youth. She also said video game messaging and networking is another favorite way for recruiters to meet children. Despite an incidence of child kidnapping in Ryan Place in Fort Worth, stealing children is not a preferred way to recruit victims.

Wilson confirmed with Fort Worth Police attendees that there are 79 gangs operating in Fort Worth. Gangs often enslave and traffic women as part of their rules.  Law enforcement is trained to recognize when children and young adults are being trafficked. Erratic school attendance, bruises or cuts, involvement in sex industry or controlled or manipulate by an adult are a few of the patterns.  And, of course, drug use is a factor.

“Students can be in school and be selling sex at night,” she said. “It’s not uncommon.”

Victims are traumatized and often bonded to their abuser. “They often feel some misguided love for their handler.  They are so afraid, fearful, shamed and manipulated, they don’t realize they can be more,” Wilson said. Wilson worked with one woman who was trafficked, escaped through police intervention, and underwent treatment through Unbound, a nonprofit that integrates victims back into society.

Wilson said it took quite some time to penetrate the victim’s defenses and begin to turn her life around.

“The one thing they need to know is there is a way out,” Wilson said.

See the full presentation on West Meadowbrook's Facebook Page. 

  • Wix Facebook page
  • Wix Twitter page

© 2015 West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association