From the Commissioner
NE Tarrant Continues to Remain Strong and Vibrant
by Gary Fickes, Tarrant County Commissioner, Precint 3
We are indeed fortunate to live in Northeast Tarrant County. Our residents and employers are blessed with an extraordinary quality of life and a business environment that is the envy of the nation.
Tarrant County remains one of the fastest growing counties in the entire United States, increasing by 400,000 people within the last decade. We continue to grow at a rate of almost 1,000 people each week.
In Precinct 3, we are focusing our efforts on four major priorities: financial, transportation, seniors and economic development.
Tarrant County has earned a distinction shared by only 40 counties out of the nation’s 3,200: the AAA bond rating. With the high bond rating and relatively low taxes, the commissioner’s court has lowered the tax rate while serving our rapidly growing population.
We have consistently urged the Tarrant Appraisal District to use realistic appraisals on all properties and stop raising values for the sake of raising revenues.
When I took office in 2007, I committed to devote much of my time to reducing congestion and improving mobility in Northeast Tarrant County. With Loop 820, Airport Freeway, Highway 114 and I-35W, we have some of the most congested roads in all of Texas.
This past February featured our third annual Northeast Tarrant Transportation Summit, which attracted a capacity crowd to the Hurst Conference Center. At each annual event, concerned residents and business representatives have heard transportation leaders share the latest progress, and have then had one-on-one access to the speakers, city leaders and TxDOT representatives. They also heard about transportation alternatives being implemented in other areas.
The unified effort of working with our cities, their citizens, community groups and business leaders has paid off. Collaborative partnerships have led to most of our major highways being under construction while other major road projects are either completed or nearing completion.
Mobility certainly includes the DFW Connector and the North Tarrant Express, but we travel so many other crucial thoroughfares. These road projects include Northeast Tarrant Parkway, Golden Triangle Boulevard, FM 1938, Watauga Boulevard, Precinct Line Road, Pipeline Road, SH 26, FM 156, Brown Trail, Cheek Sparger Road and many others. No area in Precinct 3 has gone without some type of road improvements.
During the past five years, I have spoken to over 150 groups in Northeast Tarrant County about transportation. I have also shared this information in great detail with every city council in Precinct 3.
Senior citizens represent a population that is growing by leaps and bounds in our community. In early 2009 we established a Senior Task Force to study the needs of our seniors in Northeast Tarrant County. They identified four major challenges: transportation, healthcare, isolation and employment.
The outcome of that task force led us to create Empowering Seniors in 2009. The event has presented an opportunity for seniors to have a huge local event with free health screenings including tests from four area hospitals, timely workshops dealing with senior issues (Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, identity theft, etc.), lifestyle information from area non-profits and agencies that serve seniors, free entertainment and a meal.
Here are a few compelling numbers from the 2011 event: 4 hospitals providing free health screenings, 90 exhibitors (including 40 non-profit organizations and county agencies), and 1,200 attendees. Our Precinct 3 staff joined with 50 volunteers to manage these events, with no funding provided by Tarrant County.
Empowering Seniors has become recognized as one of the elite senior-focused events in all of Texas. Even though this is a totally free event, our sponsors have underwritten costs to the extent that we have provided funding for several non-profit transportation agencies for seniors: HEB Transit, CARS (Call-A-Ride of Southlake), STS (Social Transportation Services), HEB Care Corps and NETS (Northeast Transportation Service).
As a commissioners’ court, we have focused on quality in the area of economic development. The major growth area for Tarrant County has been Precinct 3 as we have created more jobs and value than any other portion of the county.
We assist all the cities in our area in their efforts to expand existing businesses and recruit new enterprises to our area. We have been pleased to work with the development of Fidelity Investments, Deloitte University, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cabela’s, Grapevine Mills, the Gaylord Texan, Southlake Town Square, Keller Town Center, the Village at Colleyville, Home Town NRH in North Richland Hills, and countless others.
Quality development brings long-term value to our communities and helps create a better quality of life for everyone. You can count on us to keep you up-to-date by visiting Tarrant County, or with the award-winning Northeast Tarrant Newsletter, which we publish on a bi-monthly basis.