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Frenchy….

Denton, the town we choose to live in, is a cool place. Cool because of its history, cool because of its unsurpassed music, cool because of its unique demographics, cool because of our Square and surrounding areas, but especially cool because of the people who live here.

Andre Rheault, “Frenchy” is one of those people. Frenchy’s orange vans have been an iconic part of Denton for decades. Frenchy does a lot for the City of Denton……and when I say “a lot” that is an understatement. Frenchy is selfless when it comes to loaning anything he has to the numerous events that help define Denton.

Frenchy “adopts” parts of Denton to help keep it the beautiful town we all so love.

Frenchy is a Denton ambassador, helping keep Denton in the limelight…….which translates to a better economy.

Frenchy is dedicated to US Veterans………the people who have given so much to allow us the privilege of living in such a great country and city.

Frenchy is now being targeted by the City of Denton over code violations, primarily due to the constant and petty complaints of ONE individual. Frenchy is an asset to Denton. Should the complaints of one Denton citizen overrule the fondness for Frenchy of the majority of Dentonites? Should one person cause the City of Denton to harass a man who does so much for Denton?

Frenchy has 15 AMERICAN flags flying proudly on his lot…….in a commercial area.

The City wants that reduced to one.

Codes are in place for a reason. But codes are handled with discretion on a regular basis. I know of numerous people who say they know they are “home” when they see Frenchy’s flags on Dallas Drive.

I also find it unusually coincidental that a member of Denton’s Planning and Zoning Commission (who is married to a Denton Code Enforcement official) was out-voted on a sign variance by the rest of the Commission (which used discretion and approved a larger sign at a certain location)….and within days Frenchy is targeted by Code Enforcement. Was a message being sent?

Frenchy is a part of what makes Denton…..Denton.

Frenchy is eccentric…..as is Denton.

Now is the time to show support for Frenchy who has worked from the same place on Dallas Drive for 29 years……..why is this harassment happening now?

His AMERICAN flags are a constant reminder of the greatness of our country, our town, our way of life.

Denton has a reputation for being “different”. Let’s keep it that way.

“North of Ordinary” is not just a slogan……

Shame on the City of Denton for putting this man who has done so much for Denton in this position.

Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

Dentoning….1st guest blogger- Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

Dentoning is what it is in no small part to the vision, wisdom and hard work of former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock. It is with enormous respect, and an honor to me, that former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock, becomes Dentoning’s first guest blogger:

Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

Former Denton Mayor, Euline Brock

“Early voting for the May 10 city election is underway, and we are being swamped with newspaper ads, letters to the editor, mailings, and messages on social media.

It’s time to sort out some of the claims that have been made and look at the facts. I am supporting Jean Schaake because I believe she would be an excellent mayor, but also because I am concerned about Chris Watts’ qualifications for that important job.

You may have examined the large Schaake ad in last Sunday’s DRC (April 27). If you looked closely, you could see that the two mayors Chris served with—Perry McNeill (2006-08) and Mark Burroughs (2008-14)—are both supporting Jean Schaake over Chris Watts.

In addition, other past mayors are also supporting Jean—Jack Miller (1996-00), Euline Brock (2000-06), and Bill Neu (1973-75). These are people who know what it takes to be an effective mayor, and they have chosen Jean Schaake over Chris Watts.

The ad also lists current and former council members who support Jean Schaake. Four of those served with Chris Watts—Pete Kamp, James King, Bob Montgomery, and Jack Thomson. [The other three—Roni Beasley, Guy McElroy, and Randall Boyd—served on earlier councils.] Joe Mulroy is supporting Chris, which is not surprising given their mentor/mentee relationship. No other council colleague has come forward to endorse him.

After each election, the council elects the Mayor Pro Tem from among their number. In Chris Watts’ six years on council, not once did his colleagues have enough respect for his leadership abilities to elect him to this important position. And he wants us to believe he is a leader, a consensus builder?

(Chris’s followers have pointed to his election as president of the TMPA board as evidence of his leadership qualities. They have neglected to mention that the TMPA presidency is rotated among the four member cities—and it was Denton’s turn.)

Jean Schaake does not believe that labeling Denton as “anti-business” is a good way to promote desirable economic development.

Jean Schaake understands that our downtown is not only the heart of our community, but is a major economic development tool. Chris Watts voted against a downtown TIF (tax-increment-financing) and has repeatedly said that the city is paying too much attention to that area. He is equally contemptuous of the A-train and is unable to see what DCTA means for Denton’s future, especially for economic development.

Jean Schaake did not wait until she was running for mayor—or for any other office—to start supporting charities and community service projects.

Jean Schaake has not only proved that she is an effective leader, but she is totally honest and honorable—a person of real integrity.”

Euline Brock

(Mayor, 2000-2006; City Council, 1992-1998; Planning and Zoning, 1986-1992)

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Dentoning….Voter beware….emails and details

Dentoning’s very first post reserved the right to discuss Denton politics. While this blog is written primarily to discuss the daily delights of our humble (?) burg, occasionally an issue arises that has the potential to affect our beloved Dentoning.

Truth in political campaigning SHOULD be paramount in the time leading up to an election. I mean, if you can’t trust a candidate in what they tell you to get your vote, how can you trust them if they should get into office?

Misinformation, twisted facts and disingenuousness have no place in Denton politics.

Unfortunately, an extremely misleading issue was injected into the current mayoral election by candidate Chris Watts in his opening statement at the first major forum…….the Denia Forum.

During his opening remarks, Chris started a negative campaign to become our mayor by wagging his finger at his opponent, Jean Schaake, claiming erroneously that she was solely responsible for the Denton Area Teacher’s Credit Union’s (DATCU) decision to abandon Denton and move to Corinth.

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(He and DATCU continue to make this claim)

This claim stems from Dr. Schaake’s current LEADERSHIP role as chair of Denton’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) commission. Chris Watts, and Watts supporter, DATCU, submit that Schaake’s vote (as part of P&Z) RECOMMENDING to the FINAL decision-making body, City Council, that DATCU be denied their request for a zoning change, allowing it to move its headquarters to a primarily residential area on Teasley…….caused the credit union to abandon it’s plan to remain in Denton.

Seems like a lot of power for one person to scare a large Denton business to change major plans.

But the truth is in the details and the emails……

First…….P&Z answers only to the Denton City Council……It is solely an ADVISORY body in matters of zoning.

To claim that Dr. Schaake’s vote (ONE of _______) made the difference is both disingenuous and extremely misleading…………….especially when you look at the subsequent events…..

After the advisory vote by P&Z…….and BEFORE the City Council could make a FINAL decision on the issue………DATCU PULLED it’s request for a variance on the Teasley property.

Again, LOTS of power for ONE P&Z member!?!??

What Mr. Watts and DATCU continuously fail to mention is that there was an immediate effort by the City of Denton to persuade the credit union to remain in Denton…………AT THE TEASLEY LOCATION!

In an email dated 9/27/13, and obtained through an Open Records request, Dale Kimble, President/CEO states to Asst. City Manager, John Cabrales…………..that after his request to pull DATCU’s request:

I then had calls, visits from James King, Dalton Gregory, Pete Kamp, Mark Burroughs, Kevin Roden and George Cambell (sic) all encouraging us to reconsider our decision re: Teasley. I understood George to say those incentives could be considered and he asked if we wanted to stay on the (City Council’s) agenda, I expressed to him we would have to know about incentives before I would say we’d proceed. Without incentives the conversation about property in Corinth is much more attractive to us and less costly for our members.

Subsequently, in an email from Denton City Manager, George Campbell dated 9/30/13, obtained through an Open Records request, Mr. Campbell stated:

Although DATCU had not, prior to identifying the Teasley site as a potential location for the relocation/expansion of your corporate office, requested any type of economic incentives, I did express the opinion that such an expansion at any Denton site would qualify for incentive consideration by the City.

In the same email, The Denton City Manager went on to state:

………and if you elect to build your new administrative offices in Denton, you WILL (emphasis added) be eligible for an economic development incentive. I am prepared to recommend, and advocate for, an incentive in the range of a $500,000-$600,000 over a 7-10 year period to the Economic Development Partnership and to City Council. I am, of course open to DATCU’s needs and concerns in this regard.

While the City Council will make final decisions regarding the zoning case, if it moves forward, and any economics development incentives, please know I pledge my support to both. I firmly believe both DATCU and the City of Denton will benefit by DATCU’s remaining here, and I will do EVERYTHING (emphasis added) I can to insure this happens.

I genuinely hope you will carefully consider the zoning matter and incentive package and your long-standing relationship with the Denton community in your location decision. If there is anything else we can do to encourage you to retain your administrative offices in Denton, please let me know.

Sincerely,

George C. Campbell
City Manager

The next day in an email to John Cabrales, Dale Kimble, President/CEO stated simply:

John I received a letter from George Cambell (sic) re: incentives. Please advise all appropriate people we do not wish to be on the city council agenda, nor are we asking for a delay. Thanks for your help.

Furthermore, in an email dated 9/27/13 to John Cabrales, Kimble bluntly states RE: the move to Corinth …….

…..but as we were forced to consider other options we found out that actually about 60% of our business is outside Denton city limits……….. Economically it’s just a much better financial decision.

So, back to misinformation, twisted “facts” and disingenuousness………

Chris Watts and DATCU blame P&Z (and Jean Schaake specifically) for DATCU’s decision to abandon Denton as the location for their administrative headquarters………..yet MOST of the Denton City Council and the Denton City Manager contacted DATCU asking them to reconsider their decision to withdraw from the TEASLEY SITE.

Not somewhere else in Denton, but the TEASLEY SITE. When did DATCU begin negotiating with Corinth?

So how does P&Z fit into this scenario? Council does occasionally disregard the recommendations of its advisory bodies. They recently over-ruled a recommendation by the Historic Landmark Commission, a board on which I serve. It seems according to the emails above that the Council was about do just that.

According to Dale Kimble himself, the majority of the City basically pleaded with him to keep DATCU in Denton. Additionally, half a MILLION dollars plus was offered as incentive for the credit union to stay in Denton at the TEASLEY LOCATION.

Yet………..DATCU (which supports Watts’ campaign) and Chris Watts would have you believe that one woman……..(who happens to be Mr. Watts’ political opponent)………… on one zoning-ADVISORY board, caused a major Denton business and major Denton employee to leave Denton.

Lots of power for one individual.

By the looks of it, it seems that DATCU was in need of a scapegoat in order not to appear the bad guys in abandoning Denton.

Doesn’t DATCU have the right to move anywhere they want?

Absolutely! Just be honest about the reason……

Shame.

This is NOT Dentoning…….

FEMA logo

Dentoning….bunker on the edge of town

Denton underground…..nope, not the rumored tunnels under the Square, but the giant hole on the east side of town. Dentonites frequently drive by the Cold War relic on the hill. It is unassuming,…..not insisting upon itself. The only give-away that the building might be more than a small office is the manned guard shack. The building has been on Loop 288 for 50 years……the guard a “new” addition courteous of Arab terrorists.

FEMA logo

The underground Federal Center was opened in early 1964. It was the first of 6 fortified federal buildings dug out of the ground and built to withstand a 1 megaton nuclear detonation as close as a mile away. The reasoning behind the center revolved around the real possibility, at the time, of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Denton was chosen as the site due to its relative distance from the more vulnerable cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth and because of the NIKE missile base, in operation at the time, just north of Denton.

The building visible from Loop 288 houses a small meeting room, a reception desk and two entry ways…..a stairway and an elevator to the two floors lying unseen beneath. The surface building is nondescript and wouldn’t survive a run away car, much less a nearby nuclear blast, but in it are two massive doors, each weighing 25 tons which would quickly seal access to the subterranean office and command center if required.

FEMA Center

One of two above ground turrets. The only physical access to the surface if building sealed.

FEMA building

Ladder to surface turret.

The two floors below are massive, each over 25,00 sq ft. The building was designed to be completely self contained……able to allow 500 people to live and work for 30 days with no contact with the outside world……whatever might have been left of it. Food was stockpiled, a filtration system kept the air breathable, it has it’s own well and three massive diesel generators kept the lights on. The generators, overhead lights, even the toilets were on springs. Had the worst happened, the conditions would not have been ideal, but would certainly have kept that part of our government housed, alive, and safe.

Then there is this.....

Then there is this…..

Toilet

Fortified toilet

For the first couple of decades after opening, the Federal Center was maintained and consistently upgraded to perform it’s intended purpose. As time wore on and our world changed with the end of the Cold War, the facility began to downgrade not through neglect, but through conscious decisions not to maintain and/or replace systems which made the building self sufficient. With the Soviet Union no longer an eminent threat, the powers that be rethought the need for a stand alone bunker on the outskirts of Denton.

Two of three massive diesel generators

Two of three massive diesel generators

The Federal Center took on a new role with the global changes of the 1980s. The building is still well maintained, but is now dependent on surface utilities, water etc, to function. The two story underground office building primarily houses the Federal Emergency Management Agency which was absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Above ground warehouses now store a variety of vehicles used in any type of national emergency. Mobile command centers, communication vehicles……… even support vehicles capable of accessing underground fuel sources are maintained and ready to go at a moments notice.

FEMA

Mobile Emergency Response vehicles

I can't read underground

I can’t read underground

The Federal Center on the edge of town has been repurposed in response to major changes in our world. It’s not the “bunker” it once was, but the unique building, built for the problems of another time, still stands ready to address the problems of today……

Dentoning….We-Do Walnut….Dry run

The vision to close permanently Walnut St (1/2 block south of the Square) is growing legs. A dedicated group of local business people and interested citizens is working diligently to create a block-long oasis in downtown Denton. As covered in previous Dentoning blogs, the plan is to close Walnut Street to vehicular traffic, clean the “alley” and then create an urban park……with trees, grass, shrubberies, benches, other seating areas. This would be done with the City of Denton doing only what it has to, with the remaining labor, materials and talent provided by volunteers.

Much work has already been done, including discussions with the City of Denton. One thing the City requested was having an event or three to provide an example of how the idea would work. So……..on Friday, February 28, Walnut Street will be closed and the first Mardi Gras on Walnut will happen starting at 5:00 pm.

We-Do Walnut

On the 28th, Walnut Street will be closed at 8 am and clean up of the unsightly alley will begin. The street will then be transformed into a mini- New Orleans, pedestrian-only area for that day. The festival will start at 5 pm. There will be a stage featuring Dixieland/Zydeco music. Community Market vendors, jugglers, surprises, Cajun food, and libations which can be freely carried within the festival area will be available. There will also be mask, costume and float contests (floats can be kid’s wagons or anything 6 feet long or less).

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut will be the first of what is hoped to be an annual event ……..and is FREE!! The event will be family-friendly and the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for awesome weather………..!!! Tell your ma, tell your pa and tell all your friends. Put this on your calendar now!!

What better way to spend a pre-Spring evening in Denton!!