Update: Hightower apparently headed for runoff in Arlington

With 80 percent of the vote counted, gay candidate Chris Hightower appears to be headed into a runoff for the District 5 seat on the Arlington City Council with incumbent Lana Wolff.

Although only 112 votes separate the two, Hightower is leading by 7 percentage points.

Their closest competitor is Julie Douglas with 13 percent.

—  admin

Hightower leads after early voting in Arlington

Chris Hightower

Realtor Chris Hightower, who’s vying to become Arlington’s first openly gay city councilmember, leads the District 5 race after early voting.

Hightower received 41 percent of the early vote. Incumbent Lana Wolff is second with 34 percent. Julie Douglas is third with 11 percent, Terry Meza is fourth with 9 percent, and Christopher McCain is fifth with 4 percent.

Although fewer than 100 votes separate Hightower and Wolff, he appears likely to at least advance to a June runoff.

Hightower is endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

For a profile of Hightower, go here.

—  John Wright

Great Spaces: Conditioner love

Yes, you can have a cold house without the big bills — and that’s not hot air

By David Taffet

Perhaps the one thing we loathe the most besides triple digit temps in summer is that dreaded electric bill. The air conditioner is a must for summer in Texas, but the wallet sure takes a beating. One local expert recommends these simple tips to help you keep your cool and some green.

Todd Ylen of TNS Mechanical in Arlington said that only half the air conditioning complaints his company receives could be traced to the main unit. The first thing he checks is the overall cleanliness of what he calls “the guts.” He recommends a professional cleaning with caustic chemicals.

“It should be done professionally,” he says, “The chemicals won’t hurt the plants but it can melt the rubber off your sneakers.”

During the season, he said, don’t be afraid to wash the unit with a hose, but not a pressure washer. A garden hose will not damage an outdoor air conditioning system. They’re made to withstand gale-force winds.

Keep grass and weeds off outdoor condensers. They clog the system and decrease efficiency.

Next, Ylen said he checks the house.

“How efficient is the ductwork?” he says. “How efficient is your house?”

The outer lining of much of the ductwork installed in the 1980s has deteriorated. Squirrels, raccoons and other animals that get into the attic can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the ducts as well.

Cold air will blow in the attic but never reach the living areas of the house if the ducts are torn or worn. He recommends modern, high-insulated ductwork.

Next, he suggests an energy audit company to check for leaks around doors and windows.

“Seal the house,” he says. It pays off in lower energy bills quickly.

And ventilate, he said. Ylen called the old whirlybirds on most roofs worthless.

He recommends solar-powered, fan-driven ventilators. A year ago, he said, they were $1,800. Today they sell for $400, an amount that will pay for itself in one season. He calls it an upfront investment that continues to pay off by lowering electric bills on air conditioning and never costing a cent to operate.

Filters should be changed monthly. Dirty filters prevent the system from drawing air easily, making it work harder and use more energy.
Programmable thermostats are also useful in keeping the system from cooling the house when not needed.

Ylen calls radiant barriers ineffective with a 50-year payback, but insulation very useful.

“A preventive maintenance program is crucial,” he says. He sums up his energy-saving tips to all homeowners — insulate, ventilate and stop air leaks.

TNS Mechanical services homes throughout Texas and has other tips at AirConditioningRepairArlington.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

AIDS Outreach Tarrant to close Arlington office, eliminates four positions at Fort Worth office

Officials with AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County announced today that the agency will be closing its Arlington office, effective Aug. 31. The office is located at 401 W. Sanford St. in Arlington. There will be limited access to the office until Aug. 31 to facilitate the closing and alert clients to the change.

Allan Gould

Allan Gould

In explaining the decision to close the Arlington location, Executive Director Allan Gould said: “This is a very difficult decision to reach in light of AOC being actively involved in the Arlington community for over a decade. However, with the effects of the worsening economy and a lack of viable transportation within the city of Arlington it has become clear that those most in need of our programs and services have an on-going challenge in reaching us.”

Because of that, Gould said, the number of clients accessing the Arlington office had been steadily declining, making maintaining that office “no longer an option.”

But the agency will continue to maintain a presence in Arlington by offering regular confidential testing, medical case management and counseling services at the Southeast Campus of Tarrant County College and at the University of Texas at Arlington. Other such locations will be announced in the future.

The four positions being eliminated at the center’s Fort Worth offices, at 400 N. Beach St., are associate executive director of oral health, volunteer coordinator, Arlington program services director and office manager. Duties for those four positions will be reassigned to existing staff members.

AIDS Outreach Center is also reducing the hours of the staff accountant and eliminating all contract counselors, except for one Spanish-speaking counselor. Counseling duties will also be reassigned to existing counseling staff.

—  admin

Concert notice: Julie Schurr to play 1851 Club in Arlington Jan. 8

I just received word that out artist Julie Schurr will bring her “unique fusion of indie rock and comedy” to the area next week. In fact, she calls it “Indierockbitchfolk.” How’s that for branding your own genre?

I’ll tell you one thing though, comedian or not, this video for “Been So Long” is heartbreaking. Man, I wasn’t expecting this at the end of the day (a day so far without snow, I might add).

Her tour stops at the 1851 Club in Arlington next Friday at 9:30. $5 at the door.

—  Rich Lopez

Not so bad in Texas

If you are one of the many Texans who has had to tighten up those laces around your wallet and has been struggling to make ends meet during the recession, you might find this hard to believe. But Texas is the state that has weathered the financial storm the best — at least according to Business Week.

According to the magazine, Texas was one of the last states to really feel the pinch of the recession; the recession here has been relatively mild, and the Lone Star State will likely be one of the first to rebound. The magazine’s experts say that is mainly due to the fact that housing prices here didn’t spike upward like they did in many areas.

The magazine just published this list of the 40 strongest U.S. metro economies, and six Texas metropolitan areas made the list — five of them in the top 10, including the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

No. 1 was San Antonio, the second-largest city in Texas. According to Business Week, the Alamo City has one of the strongest job markets in the country, thanks in part to construction now underway on a new J.W. Marriott hotel and a new Caterpillar plant, and to ongoing school, hospital and military projects.

The Austin/Round Rock area was No. 2, on the list, followed by Oklahoma City at No. 3 and the Little Rock/Conway area at No. 4.

The Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington Metroplex was at No. 5, with Baton Rouge at No. 6, Tulsa at No. 7, and Omaha/Council Bluffs at No. 8.

The Houston/Sugarland area at No. 9 and El Paso at No. 10, rounded out the top 10. I didn’t think there were any major metropolitan areas left in Texas after that list, but Business Week disagreed, putting the McAllen/Edinburg/Mission area on the list at No. 12.

So every time you sit there writing checks to pay the bills and watching your checking account balance dwindle, just remember: It could be worse. You could live in Las Vegas.

—  admin

Rainbow Lounge bartender's blood alcohol was over 3 times limit at time of deadly crash

Brad Larsen
Brad Larsen

FORT WORTH — Bradley Larsen, the Rainbow Lounge bartender killed in a car wreck July 26, had a blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, according to toxicology results released earlier today by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Larsen’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was 0.254. The legal limit is 0.08.

Larsen’s toxicology results also came back positive for cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. The Medical Examiner’s report lists Larsen’s primary cause of death as blunt-force head trauma.

“He was under the influence, yes, very much so,” said Linda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner’s Office. “It would be a contributing factor because it would impair his ability to react to certain things.”

Larsen was traveling at speeds of up to 100 mph on eastbound Interstate 30 in Arlington when he rear-ended an 18-wheeler at about 6:15 a.m. that Sunday, according to police reports.

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said today the agency is now conducting a full-scale “source investigation” to try to determine where Larsen consumed the alcohol in his system, and whether it was obtained illegally.

Beck has said previously that if it’s determined that Larsen, who’d worked the night before, had been drinking at the Rainbow Lounge after hours — which is illegal — it could mean serious penalties for the bar under its liquor license.

“As soon as it [the wreck] happened, they started fact-finding, interviewing witnesses and things like that,” Beck said. “But once they have evidence of intoxication, that’s what kicks it into higher gear.”

“Our investigators are working hard to find out exactly what happened and whether any laws were violated, other than the obvious ones,” she said.

Randy Norman, general manager of the Rainbow Lounge, told Dallas Voice in July that the Rainbow Lounge closed at 2 that morning. Norman said he saw Larsen leave the bar at about 4 a.m.

“I don’t know where he went afterward,” Norman said at the time. “Brad was definitely not intoxicated when he left this bar. Our policy is no tolerance on drinking by staff.”

—  John Wright