Local briefs • 02.03.12

OUTreach Denton hosts  dinner

OUTreach Denton will hold a Valentine’s dinner and fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 14.

“We are excited about having an LGBTQA event in Denton for once,” said the Rev. Pam Wat of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

OUTreach Denton and Seven Mile Cafe are partnering to create a romantic, fun and philanthropic evening.

Wat promised “a delicious Italian meal, beautiful music and warm hospitality at one of Denton’s newest restaurants.”

Seven Mile Cafe is at 311 W. Congress St. Half of the proceeds will support LGBTQA programming and resources in Denton including the newly formed LGBTQA youth group. The cost is $30 per person and reservations are required. To RSVP, email OUTreachDenton@gmail.com. Seating is limited. Soft drinks are included. BYOB.

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Cathedral marks 5 years with UCC

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Cathedral of Hope as a United Church of Christ congregation, UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black will come to Dallas to preach on Sunday, Feb. 5 at the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Hope, the fourth-largest congregation of the UCC, officially became a member of the denomination on Feb. 4, 2007.
Jo Hudson, senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope, recalled the day, saying: “When all the i’s had been dotted and all the t’s crossed, after the official words of welcome had been spoken, and we all felt good about the service we had just shared, the Voices of Hope choir and our orchestra led us in the anthem How Great is Our God. I thought the roof was going to come off the church.”

The relationship between Cathedral of Hope and the UCC has been great for both the congregation and the larger church, the Rev. Hudson said.

“What has stayed the same are our shared core values of compassion, inclusion and liberation, our hope and our faith in Jesus,” she said. ”What changed was that the UCC welcomed all at once the largest influx of LGBTQ members in the history of a mainline U.S. church. And, in the ensuing months, Cathedral of Hope saw a double-digit percentage increase in the number of heterosexual worshipers on Sunday morning. Our God is a great God, indeed!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

In the Butte

Remote and charming, Crested Butte, Colo., spreads warmth even in the winter months

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FLY THAT FLAG | Quaint Crested Butte went all out to welcome the gays for Shoot the Butte gay ski week in March, with many local businesses proudly displaying gay-friendly banners and residents abuzz about the event. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

You can imagine that when locals in small towns hear that “the gays” are on their way — for a Pride parade, or a dance party or a protest — some will react with a disdainful shiver. But when Crested Butte, Colo., hosted its first-ever gay ski week earlier this year, the news didn’t even warrant a shrug. Indeed, the entire town seemed to get its Pride on.

The local gays there — and there are a few, a very few — were of course happy to be with family, as were the resorts glad to host a late-season influx; so were the businesses in the very walkable downtown area. But the people were just as excited — stores proudly flew rainbow flags for the first time, and diners at restaurants chirped with delight that the gays were coming. Good for business, of course, but also good for the Butte. (Unfortunately, there are no current plans to hold another gay ski week there.)

Crested Butte, after all, isn’t located along I-70 and the string of famed ski resorts; don’t like Vail? Drive another hour and settle in Beaver Creek. Wanna resort hop? Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone are in the same county 90 minutes from Denver. No, if you wanna go to Crested Butte, you gotta really wanna go.

There are two different kinds of ski-resort towns in Colorado: The rich man’s playgrounds and those with a roughing-it, low-stress country ruggedness, where the Doobie Brothers are still considered pop music. Crested Butte is the latter — unfussy and without the pretensions of a Vail or Aspen, but with just the right amount of sophistication to make it a savvy destination for those who like to stumble off the beaten path but still appreciate a few creature comforts.

That’s certainly the case at the Elevation Hotel and Spa, a large, comfortable resort standing at nearly 9,400 feet above sea-level. (The friendly café at the lift base, 9480 Prime, is named for the elevation.) Clean, warm and well-appointed, with an excellent spa and salon, the hotel provides super-convenient access to the slopes and its 16 lifts. (The summit is at an ear-popping 12,162 feet.)

For skiers or snowboarders, the snow provides a great powder, though even diners can appreciate the mountain: The ski-in, ski-out restaurant Uley’s Cabin is accessible by lift and short slalom to mid-mountain, or if available, a “ski taxi” can take you here like a passenger on the Iditerod. It’s worth a visit, too, with excellent haute cuisine and a cozy, rustic atmosphere.

Indeed, the dining in Crested Butte is remarkably diverse and satisfying. It may seem counter-intuitive, but some of the best seafood dishes I ate this year were in Colorado. (The landlocked types know how to cook a scallop.) But the range of choices for Crested Butte is as good as any 10-block stretch of a major city.

Stay on the mountain to indulge your tastebuds at Django’s. This high-end, intimate resto, draped in sheer curtains and with a wide, open kitchen, serves gourmet tapas just steps from the slopes. “Date with a pig” isn’t as dirty as it sounds — Medjool dates wrapped in Serrano ham — but it is  decadently enjoyable, as are the crispy Brussels sprouts and braised spiced boar belly.

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CUISINE ART | Dining in the Butte, including mountainside dining at Uley’s Cabin, is diverse and delicious. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Off the mountain, in downtown Crested Butte, the not-to-miss steakhouse is Maxwell’s. Warmed by a beautiful fireplace and welcoming décor, it serves some unmatched dishes. Of course, you have to try the rack of (Colorado) lamb, crusted in pistachios and drizzled with a blueberry demi that makes it both sweet and savory, as well as the smoky wagyu tartare. The wine list offers some bold, interesting choices as well.

Over at the West End Pub, enjoy high-end bar food with a sense of humor. The “ubiquitous fish and chips” may sound tired, but it’s well prepared, as are the oysters on the hall shell and clam chowder. (I told you about the seafood.)

For something even more casual but also extraordinary, The Secret Stash is a must-do. It’s no accident that the name sounds like a head shop — the place, opened in 2002, has the hippie-dippie vibe of a stoner hangout. It also serves some of the most inventive pizzas you’ll ever encounter, like the Mac Daddy, their lettuce-covered take on the Big Mac that will wow you. (Just a slice is huge.)
You can grab a brew at Dogwood, a hole-in-the-wall bar with pool tables and sports on the TVs that’s cool, friendly and hip, and LoBar, which serves sushi. (Fish! Again!)

For an exquisite brunch, East Side Bistro is a sure-bet. Looking out on the mountain, it has the feel of an Old West saloon but the cuisine of a sly master, including the deconstructed doughnuts and coffee, and the chilaquiles, a tortilla-chip-and-egg dish with poblano molé that will spoil you for all Mexican-themed brunches for all time.

Crested Butte may not be the first resort to occur to you when you think of ski destinations, but as most everyone from Colorado will confess to you, it’s one of the best.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

YFT restructures its staff

Development will become a board function, with programming handled by a professional staff member

YFT-GaylaProm-006

PROM NIGHT | Youth attending a previous Gayla Prom stop dancing long enough to smile for the camera. Previously presented at SMU by Resource Center Dallas, the prom now comes under the purview of Youth First Texas.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Officials with Youth First Texas have created the new part-time position of youth program coordinator, and the board hopes to fill the job before the end of January.

The new hire will be responsible for program development, implementation and evaluation.

The agency, which serves LGBT youth up to age 22, currently has no employees.

Sam Wilkes had served as director of development and administration, but that position has been eliminated.

In announcing the change, the YFT board called the staff restructuring a reflection of its stronger commitment to core programs.

“We really found that even though we have a program committee, we need a dedicated person,” said YFT Board Co-Chair Chris-James Cognetta.

He said the agency is looking for someone who has experience in youth work, preferably with the LGBTQA community. Other preferences include someone with an education or programming background and who is bilingual.

“We’ve had an influx of LGBTQA Hispanic youth,” Cognetta said.

Most of the Hispanic youth who attend are fluent English speakers, but their parents primarily speak Spanish. He said that it is important to welcome parents having trouble accepting their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity and to answer questions they may have.

“It makes a huge difference when we have a bilingual staff member,” he said.

Development will be taken over by a committee chaired by the treasurer, currently Kevin Mackenroth, and will include two other board members.

“The plan is to launch a sustained giving program from individuals and corporations, and include estate planning,” Cognetta said. He said this was the first time the agency has tried this approach.

Cognetta also said that YFT is in good shape financially.

“We’re going into the first quarter with 30 percent more income than we expected,” he said. “We’re putting more money into programming in 2012 than ever.”

Cognetta said that the core programs will continue. Education instruction includes health and nutrition classes as well as helping youth obtain GEDs or get into college. One of the agency’s recent success stories is a student who applied to Southern Methodist University with the help of YFT, and who is now a pre-law and pre-med student there.

Other YFT programs include the big group on Thursday nights, the gender identity group, self-defense class and Friday night family dinner.

The center maintains a food pantry for emergency situations for youth living on their own.

“We move them over to the SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] food stamp program,” Cognetta said. “But we fill the gap until we can get them into that.”

YFT is also trying to take over planning and organizing for the annual GAYLA prom, which has been held at SMU in May in recent years. Cognetta said the new programming director would take over handling the project, which was dropped by Resource Center Dallas.

“We’re looking for volunteers to pull it together,” Cognetta said.

Also, Cognetta said he hopes the new staff member will do more outreach to schools and gay-straight alliances and do “gap analysis” to determine who and what areas are underserved.

“I want to see the center open every evening at 4 and every Saturday night,” Cognetta said.

Currently, YFT is open Tuesday through Friday at 6 p.m., Thursday at 5 p.m. and every other Saturday evening. Cognetta said that many youth go home after school and don’t get out again. Opening earlier would serve more people, he said.

“Finding volunteers who will be there at 4 is a challenge,” Cognetta acknowledged. He said finding a group of people to each devote one Saturday a month to opening the center will likely be easier.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas police issue statement on safety, alleged increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center

The Dallas Police Department issued the following statement today in response to an unsubstantiated, viral e-mail claiming a huge increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center:

Safety at North Park Mall

There have been multiple inquiries in the last twenty-four hours from the media regarding safety at North Park Mall. These inquiries were apparently spurred by an e-mail from a mall patron who noted an increase in young people at the mall and increased police presence as well as from an informal conversation about the situation with off-duty officers there. Please know the following:

North Park officials report an increase in the number of young people at the mall, particularly around the movie theaters. The report we have from patrol and gang unit officers is that there is no discernable organized gang presence there. The Dallas Police Department’s gang unit did go to the mall during the week of the Super Bowl as a routine measure. They made one arrest. They then did a follow-up but found no compelling reason to continue monitoring the mall on a regular basis.

Reported crime at the mall is actually down since the first of the year as compared to the same time last year. There have been 14 reported Part 1 crimes (not counting shoplift cases) compared to 21 last year. And the overwhelming majority of the offenses both years involve thefts of or from vehicles in the parking lot. There have been two robberies and one aggravated assault reported in the mall so far this year. While those certainly are a concern, they closely parallel the number and kinds of crime seen in previous years and by no means suggest an up-tick in offenses at the mall.

In late January additional off-duty Dallas officers were hired by the mall in anticipation of an influx of visitors coming to Dallas for the Super Bowl. The mall decided to keep hiring additional officers, particularly on weekend evenings, as a precautionary measure.

It is always a best practice to be vigilant of your surroundings whether it is walking in your neighborhood or shopping at your favorite locations. North Park security and the Dallas Police Department will continue to work to keep the mall a secure and vibrant shopping area where the public can go with confidence of being safe.

—  John Wright

Halloween Block Party sees record attendance; future Cedar Springs events to require fencing

We’ve posted photos and video from Saturday night’s Halloween Block Party on Cedar Springs, but we also had some pretty major news to share.

About 12,000 people attended this year’s Block Party, according to police estimates, up from roughly 8,000 in 2009. DISD Detective Sgt. Jeremy Liebbe, co-operations commander for the block party, said when he first began working the event eight years ago, attendance was only about 4,000.

While some don’t appreciate the apparent influx of non-LGBT people to the block party, Liebbe said he thinks it’s actually a good thing for the community. However, he added that the increasing crowd size presents some safety issues, and authorities likely will require future block parties on Cedar Springs to be fenced.

“It’s good for the businesses, it’s good for the economy of the community, but that does create some added public safety issues that we have to stay ahead of the game on,” Liebbe said, adding that local authorities can apply lessons they’ve learned from larger events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Avenue.

Liebbe said all future block parties on Cedar Springs, including arts festivals, likely will require fencing. He said the fencing is inexpensive at only a few hundred dollars, but it will allow authorities to create a handful of checkpoints where people can enter and leave. In addition to controlling crowd size if necessary, they can stop people from bringing in alcohol in glass containers, coolers and backpacks, which is illegal.

“It’s all about what we can do to increase the safety and enjoyment of everyone who’s coming to the events,” Liebbe said, adding that many people purchase alcohol at places like Walgreen’s and Valero, not realizing they’re not supposed to bring it in. “Our biggest concern right now is the glass and the risk of injury.”

Liebbe said the fenced area for Cedar Springs block parties likely will extend from Reagan Street to just west of Woody’s, and possibly beyond ilume for some events. He said there are no plans to charge admission for people to enter the fenced area.

“It’s going to be as invisible as we can make it,” Liebbe said of the fencing. “We’re going to use the natural barriers.”

Liebbe said there are no plans to fence off the area during the Pride parade, although there is some talk of fencing Lee Park during the Pride festival.

Despite the huge crowd at this year’s block party, there were only five arrests, Liebbe said — two for assault, one for theft and two for public intoxication. Liebbe credited strong cooperation from the community combined with good work by officers for the small number of incidents.

“The problems are historically very, very low at that event,” he said.

—  John Wright