• Planned health clinic excites South Dallas neighborhood

    Published at dallasnews.com: 01 May 2022 11:11 PM

    The new South Dallas clinic being built for Parkland Memorial Hospital represents more than an improvement in health care for one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

    As a crowd of nearly 200 people assembled Thursday for the clinic’s ceremonial groundbreaking, the excitement level was almost palpable for the cluster of nearby residents.

    “I haven’t seen anything so big in this neighborhood for 50 years,” said Willie Mae Coleman, 79. “It’s a big day for all of us. I’m so excited.”

    Until five years ago, the 7-acre site at Scyene Road and Hatcher Street was home to a “hot-sheet” motel, illegal nightclub and other illicit activities that plagued the community for decades.

    “They killed one of my church members in that nasty old motel,” recalled Coleman, president of the surrounding Bertrand Neighborhood Association. She and others fought to get the businesses closed and finally torn down in 2009.

    Development of the $19.8 million clinic is a public-private partnership involving the city of Dallas and Frazier Revitalization, a community development organization that amassed the land for the project. A long list of local philanthropy groups also provided financial support, including the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund.

    “This could not have happened without significant public and philanthropic support,” said Richard Knight, a former Dallas city manager and Frazier’s chairman.

    Frazier is hoping to develop a second phase of the project, called Hatcher Station Village, attracting a variety of neighborhood amenities. They might include a legal services office, pharmacy, dental clinic or workforce training site.

    Parkland will lease the 44,000-square-foot clinic when it’s completed in early 2015. It will replace the hospital’s outmoded Community Oriented Primary Care facility at 3320 Live Oak St. in East Dallas.

    Currently, the East Dallas clinic serves about 15,000 patients, many of whom live closer to the South Dallas clinic location, said Sharon Phillips, the Parkland executive who oversees Parkland’s 12 community clinics.

    Patients also could benefit from the new location being across Hatcher Street from a DART rail station on the Green Line. The new Parkland hospital, which also opens in 2015, is on the same rail line.

    “This is the first community clinic we’ll have on the DART line,” Phillips said.

    Although the project has not received final approval from Parkland’s board of managers, a lease agreement is expected to be signed in coming weeks. The Dallas City Council also is slated to finalize its involvement in the project later this month.

    “We worked long and hard for this,” City Council member Caroline Davis told the gathered crowd. “It has taken a lot of rolling up your sleeves and getting your feet dirty to make sure this project works.”

    See the original article at: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/best-southwest/headlines/20140501-planned-health-clinic-excites-south-dallas-neighborhood.ece

  • Tiger Land

    Published by Dallas Weekly

    Chris Bosh wrote Lincoln High School history in 2002 when he led teammates to a 20-point blowout in the state Class 4A Championship to cap off a 40-0 season. He’ll write a new chapter in that history this month when he takes the court in Arlington for the NBA All Star Game.

    Few probably remember Lincoln’s dream season more clearly than Principal Earl Jones. “A team like this comes along once every hundred years, if you’re lucky,” he says. What he remembers that many may have forgotten, though, is that all 13 team members graduated and went on to college.

    “The G.P.A.s for these young men were among the highest in their class,” Jones says. “I looked to many of them to lead the way for all Lincoln students, and to teach and model through how they lived their lives.”

    “Our students that year provided the greatest example of what the words ‘student athlete’ really mean,’ ” says former DISD trustee Ron Price.

    And Lincoln excelled far beyond the basketball court, notes Dr. Shirley Ison-Newsome, the Dallas ISD administrator who oversaw all South Dallas schools: “The school during that same period was named one of the best high schools in the country by a national magazine, established an exchange program with a school in Swaziland, the last kingdom on the continent in Africa, and continued to be one of the few high schools in Dallas that was moving the needle academically.”

    That’s the kind of history Lincoln boosters are looking to commemorate this month as they kick off a drive to raise funds to build Tiger Land, a ceremonial gateway and garden celebrating the school’s place in Dallas history. Built in 1939 to relieve overcrowding at Booker T. Washington, the city’s first and only high school for African-American students, Lincoln educated many of North Texas’ most prominent and successful black residents.

    They include Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, longtime DISD trustee Hollis Brashear, and former DART board member Joyce Foreman, pro football player Abner Haynes, Dr. Frederick Todd, Dr. Harold Lang, Sr., Dr. John Hopps, Dr. Leon Hayes, Dr. Herbie K. Johnson, and former Dallas Thornton-Reese, to name just a few.

    Bosh was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated with honors. Today, through his charitable foundation, he promotes the importance of reading as well as physical fitness for children. He will return to Lincoln on Feb. 13, the day before the All Star Game, to make a donation of computers for two Dallas community centers. Kevis Shipman, who played guard to Bosh’s power forward, works today as security at Lincoln.

    They and the other three starters – Jason Allen, William Langrum and Bryan Hopkins – began playing together in a Biddy Basketball League when they were just 7. “The boys loved the game of basketball since they were little,” says Charlie Robinson, the uncle of Bryan Hopkins and his brother Ryan, who also played on the team. “They used to play in the backyard with homemade basketball rims.”

    In their junior year at Lincoln, the team went to the state championships. They lost, and according to Shipman, a lot of people doubted that they had the fortitude to come back and take the title the following year. Bosh and Co. didn’t doubt it, though. Lincoln head coach Leonard Bishop still remembers Bryan Hopkins vowing to him: “Coach, we will be back!”

    And they were – with even greater cohesiveness than before. On the eve of the climactic game, three starters, including Bosh, shaved their heads in honor of their coach, who is bald. The entire team took a break from training to hold a car wash to raise funds for the homeless. Nearly a decade later, most team members will be on hand to watch Bosh play in the All Star Game, and many participate each summer in the basketball camps run by his foundation.

    “Every challenge presented to this team they met head-on with a special tact and determination that only a few can comprehend,” Jones says. “What made this team so special was not the great basketball skills they had, but how intelligent these young men were, and how the each one provided leadership, and understood their role.”

    Tiger Land will transmit the lessons of such moments to generations of future Lincoln students. To make it a reality, the school district has purchased a vacant lot in front of the school, on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Hatcher Street. Designs include a monument commemorating the school’s eight principals and its contributions to the community, a tiger mascot statue, elaborate landscaping and a series of benches forming an outdoor classroom.

    Jones calls the project an important piece of furthering Lincoln’s central mission: “to create an environment where all students … are afforded opportunities for academic excellence … in an atmosphere where they are valued, accepted, challenged, motivated, and expected to learn.”

    For more information about Tiger Land, including sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.lincolntigerland.com.

    Jerry Chambers is Lincoln High School’s historian and chairman of the Tiger Land effort.

  • Baylor Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute to open in South Dallas

    The Dallas Morning News


    The diagnosis of diabetes is accelerating across the nation, most commonly afflicting African-Americans and Latinos.

    With those realities in mind, Baylor Health Care System is confronting the disease in a core spot — South Dallas.

    Hospital and city officials joined neighborhood leaders Tuesday morning at Juanita Craft Recreation Center for a ceremonial ground-breaking of what they hope will be a model for diabetes care.

    The center at 4500 Spring Ave. will become home next year to Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute — an initiative involving both treatment and prevention with a goal of improving lives and reducing health care costs.

    “Instead of treating the disease in our hospitals, we want to deal with it in the neighborhoods,” said Dr. Paul Convery, chief medical officer of the Baylor system.

    Rev. Henry Green Jr. attended Monday’s groundbreaking event. He presides over the red-brick Community Outreach Baptist Church, across the street from the recreation center. He knows diabetes well. The lanky 62-year-old was diagnosed seven years ago and is planning to work closely with the Baylor initiative.

    Even with health insurance, the preacher found it difficult to find a good diabetes education program near his home, he said.

    That won’t be the case with a center in the middle of south Dallas.

    “With this place here, I can see a lot of us not losing our legs, not losing our eyesight, not losing our lives because of diabetes,” he said. “I applaud Baylor for making a bold statement.”

    Placing a diabetes treatment center in the middle of a neighborhood means folks are more likely to come to get services, he said. “It fits into the neighborhood. It is the same old place with a new idea.”

    Through education, the preacher became the “poster child” for the diabetes education cause, he said. “I went from insulin to three types of medicine to two types of medicine,” he said. “And then to diet and exercise. I did all those kinds of things because I had access to education. Ninety percent of people don’t have access so they don’t have success.”

    The institute will offer a clinic staffed by doctors and other medical specialists, affordable medications, plus diabetes education ranging from nutrition and cooking classes to exercise programs.

    Exercise and the consumption of healthy foods can help prevent or manage diabetes, among the mostly costly and deadly chronic diseases.

    The Juanita Craft center will still offer its regular services and will be expanded for the institute. The city is contributing $2 million toward that work with Baylor paying $15 million for construction, equipping and staffing the institute for four years, Convery said.

    The institute will be open to all regardless of residency, insurance or income. “We won’t turn anyone away,” he said.

    South Dallas was selected because of its predominantly African-American population that is relatively poor, medically underserved and has limited access to healthy food, he said.

    “It was considered the least healthy area of Dallas County,” he said.

    Nationwide, 6 percent of the population was diagnosed with diabetes in 2006, up from about 3 percent in 1997, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And in Texas, diabetes rates are highest among African-Americans (12.9 percent) and Latinos (12.3 percent) compared to Anglos (8.5 percent), according to the Texas Diabetes Council.

  • Crime-ridden Dallas motel checks out for good

    The Dallas Morning News

    By Rudolph Bush

    It took the bulldozer less than an hour to end a 20-year nightmare.

    A low-slung brick building peeking from behind a high wall at the corner of Scyene Road and Bertrand Avenue, the American Inn Motel gave way quickly – a surprise perhaps to those who fought for so long against the prostitutes and drug dealers who made it a home.

    Their fight, which at times seemed hopeless, became a victory Sunday afternoon under a blazing blue sky.

    “The things that used to be allowed here, we will see them no more. The lives that were lost here, both literally and figuratively, we will see that no more,” said the Rev. Donald R. Parish, pastor of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, which sits next door in South Dallas.

    Joined by Mayor Tom Leppert and three members of the Dallas City Council, the church’s parishioners cheered, prayed and sang hymns as they waited to watch the motel come crashing down in a pile of dust.

    For nearby residents, the American Inn was a constant source of trouble that seemed impervious to their best efforts to shut it down.

    No sooner would they bring a complaint to the courthouse or City Hall than the hotel’s ownership would suddenly change and the bureaucratic paper chase to have it shut down had to begin again.

    But their luck began to change last year with an effort led by council member Dwaine Caraway, who at the time was running for office.

    Mr. Caraway and other activists raised $1,000 with Mr. Parish’s help to take the motel before the city’s Board of Adjustment.

    The city also sued the motel for failing to pay back taxes and illegally operating a sexually oriented business.

    “This place was notorious for drugs, prostitution, women displaying themselves openly in the day and night,” Mr. Caraway said.

    Mr. Caraway and others succeeded in persuading the Board of Adjustment to rule that the motel had to shut down, which took place in May 2006.

    Today, the American Inn is an empty slab, a sight 69-year-old Dorothy Beasley thought she would never see.

    Ms. Beasley has lived in the same simple A-frame house on Imperial Court for 37 years. For the last 20, her home backed up to the American Inn.

    “I’ve endured it all,” she said, standing on her front porch, pointing to a bullet hole in her siding.

    “At 5:30 in the morning, it was like rush hour,” with men picking up prostitutes on her two-lane street, she said.

    Before her husband, Charles, passed away earlier this year, he would often wake up before dawn to chase the women off the streets.

    When the city finally managed to shutter the motel, the neighborhood underwent a sudden change.

    “It’s been very quiet and peaceful,” Ms. Beasley said.

    Mr. Leppert said Sunday that he wants the city to become more aggressive about places like the American Inn.

    Dozens of similar operations are in business in Dallas, primarily in the southern sector, where they thrive on illegal activity, officials said.

    The city has a long-standing ordinance that prohibits motels with 60 rooms or fewer from operating without a specific-use permit.

    But neighborhoods often don’t challenge the motels or, when they do, they see the case linger interminably before the Board of Adjustment.

    Mr. Leppert said he has asked City Attorney Tom Perkins to be as aggressive as possible in targeting motels where crime festers.

    “We’re going to push it. We’re going to push as it far as we can to make sure we use every single tool … to try to take these down,” he said.

    Mr. Leppert said he also wants the Board of Adjustment to make cases against such motels a priority.

    In the neighborhood around Bertrand on Sunday, there was a sense of hope that finally, outside of the shadow of the American Inn, better times are ahead.

    The motel site was purchased by Frazier Revitalization Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to bringing about a vibrant mixed-use community in the Bertrand area, said Frazier president Jon Edmonds.

    The company paid a premium of $347,000 for the site, but the property was critical to bringing to fruition long-term development of the community, Mr. Edmonds said.

    As the bulldozer carved into the walls of the American Inn, the parishioners of True Lee seemed to
    agree that, whatever the price, it was money well spent.

  • Carolyn Davis and Tom Leppert: South Dallas neighborhood’s passion for revitalization has paid off

    The Dallas Morning News

    Sunday, tens of thousands of people from all over the region will make their once-a-year pilgrimage to South Dallas to sample the delights of the State Fair – a nostalgic nod to our agricultural past. Just a few blocks away, residents of one South Dallas neighborhood will gather to stake their claim to an urban future that is safe, productive and prosperous.

    They will come together at the corner of Scyene Road and Bertrand Avenue to take part in the demolition of a business that has been a thorn in the side of their community for many, many years. It is a motel now known as the American Inn but once named, with far more candor, the Mi Amor. Its rooms, which rented by the hour, were a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes and other elements that subtracted from, rather than added to, the value of the community. At least one murder took place there. The owners – outsiders who had no roots in the neighborhood – repeatedly evaded court orders to close their doors. They went for years without paying property taxes or obtaining the necessary permit to operate in an area not zoned for businesses such as theirs.

    Residents fought back in every way they could. They wrote down license plates. They called the police on dozens of occasions. Sometimes, the police made arrests. A few years ago, the city sued the American Inn as a nuisance, and it closed for a while.

    Somehow, though, the drug dealers and the hookers always came back. But the good people never gave up – and there are many good people who can claim victory today. Members of the Bertrand Neighborhood Association refused to accept the blight in their midst. The congregation of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, which is just next door, spoke boldly against evil and offered a vision for renewal.

    Our City Council colleague Dwaine Caraway was among those who gathered the $1,000 necessary to bring the American Inn before zoning authorities, who ultimately forced it to shut down this spring. Frazier Revitalization Inc., a nonprofit organization created to partner with residents in bringing new housing and reputable businesses to the area, purchased the property, making it possible, finally, to erase the scourge once and for all.

    Like man’s first steps on the moon, this is a giant leap for this community that has lived so long in the shadows of more prosperous parts of town. It shows those of us who live elsewhere that the people of South Dallas care passionately about their neighborhoods and are willing to fight to make them wholesome and safe. It proves that change is possible.

    If you are planning to go to the State Fair on Sunday, come just a few blocks beyond it and take a look for yourself. You’ll be surprised at what you see. All along Scyene Road, just across the street from the American Inn, the new southeast DART rail line is taking shape day by day. It holds fresh promise for this area: new residents, new businesses, new jobs.

    Already, the elected officials who represent the area and organizations such as Frazier Revitalization are working with residents to see that the right people benefit from the coming changes: the ones who live here now. They have endured; they have toiled in the vineyards; the fruit is rightly theirs. Today is their day to begin to taste that sweet, sweet fruit.