Main Street: What’s next?

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Project to shift from reconstruction to beautification

In late July of this year, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began the final phases of the Main Street Widening Project. After almost three years of daily, significant road construction, nearly all lanes have since opened to traffic. Some daytime-only lane closures remain for specific elements of the project, including work on sidewalks, medians, and sound walls.DSC01321

So what’s next? Whereas TxDOT has overseen the actual roadwork all these years, the City will now take on much of the finishing touches in the months ahead. Those touches include steps to ensure the end result of this project is something we can all be proud of as we enjoy smoother commutes up and down the road.

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The sound walls feature a wave design.

Residents have often asked what beautification elements would be a part of the project. For starters, custom sound walls have been installed by TxDOT next to all residential areas adjacent to Main Street. The wall panels have a wave design depicting the lakeside theme of the community. The stone pattern on the side facing the road is painted to look like real stone while the sides facing residential areas are a tan brick pattern.

Motorists may have noticed the large, open squares at the end of the existing sound walls. That’s where sculptured art panels are being inserted into the walls. TxDOT is installing the panels but the city will maintain them moving forward. Much like the wave pattern, the artwork will feature signature elements of The Colony community. One of the art panels is already installed at the intersection with Ridgepointe Drive.

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This artwork has been installed in the sound wall at the intersection of Ridgepointe and Main.

Installing new traffic signals at the major intersections has been a significant portion of the project thus far, including ongoing adjustments to the timings of the lights once traffic was fully flowing. When completed, the new signals will have illuminated street signs at each intersection, as well as decorative “clamshell” bases. The new crosswalks at each intersection have also been stamped with a plank pattern designed to look like a boardwalk.

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Decorative street lights have been installed up and down Main Street.

Much of the beautification, however, will ultimately take place in the medians. For example, residents would likely have already seen the enhanced street lights, which are different from the standard “cobra-head” lights normally installed by TxDOT.

Landscaping and irrigation will, of course, be a big part of the median work still to come. Fortunately, the design work has already been completed, and the Parks Department has been approved for just under $1 million in grant funding from the TxDOT Green Ribbon Program for installation of the first phase.

Initially, the landscaping will include about 500 trees and some native grasses. Future phases will include a wide variety of plants and additional trees along the parkways. When finished, it will look similar to the landscaping in the medians along North Colony Boulevard between Main Street and Paige Road.

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The medians along Main Street will eventually feature landscaping similar to what is currently seen along North Colony between Paige and Main Street.

Lastly, but not certainly least, the sidewalks along Main Street have been connected to the city’s trail system and widened to be more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Northbound Main Street now features a 10-foot sidewalk between Memorial Drive and North Colony Boulevard. The 10-foot trail then cuts across to the southbound side of the road at North Colony and continues north to the city limits.

Community Services Director Pam Nelson, whose department will be overseeing much of these remaining projects, said the remaining art panels will be installed in the upcoming weeks. The first phase of irrigation and landscaping should begin in the spring of 2018.

“It’s going to take a little while to wrap up the loose ends but beautification is an essential part of the overall project,” she said. “TxDOT built the new road to improve both local and regional transportation but it’s our residents who will drive it every day. We want them to reap the rewards of their patience these past few years by not only traveling a less congested road but also enjoying a much more aesthetically pleasing view along their city’s main thoroughfare.”

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Three Things to Know This Week (Oct. 30-Nov. 5)

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Things to Know

  1. We’re less than two weeks away from “American Heroes: A Salute to Veterans,” featuring a FREE performance by the legendary Oak Ridge Boys at The Colony Five Star Complex! The event also features the American Hero Run, Veterans Memorial Ceremony, car/truck/bike show, and so much more! Did we mention the fireworks? Visit the official festival website for all the details or call the Parks & Recreation Department at 972-625-1106. See you there on Saturday, Nov. 11!

  2. Early voting for the Nov. 7, 2017, City Council Election for Place 6 is underway and continues through Friday, Nov. 3. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Locally, early voting will be held at the City of The Colony Annex, 6804 Main St. For more locations, visit votedenton.com. For more info about the election, contact the City Secretary’s Office at 972-624-3106 or visit the city’s website at www.thecolonytx.gov. In addition to the City Council race, several statewide propositions are on the ballot, as well as bond initiatives for voters in Little Elm ISD.

  3. Last, but certainly not least, exciting news broke today as the LPGA and other event officials announced that the Volunteers of America LPGA North Dallas Classic will be at the Old American GC in The Colony next year! Organizers are planning a community-minded event for the whole family. Please see our press release for all the details.

Three Things to Know This Week (Oct. 23-29)

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  1. Early voting for the Nov. 7, 2017, City Council Election for Place 6 begins today and Vote-smallcontinues through Friday, Nov. 3. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 23-27; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 28; 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29; and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Locally, early voting will be held at the City of The Colony Annex, 6804 Main St. For more locations and general information, visit votedenton.com. For more info about the City Council election, contact the City Secretary’s Office at 972-624-3106 or visit the city’s website at www.thecolonytx.gov. In addition to the City Council race, several statewide propositions are on the ballot, as well as bond initiatives for voters in Little Elm ISD.

  2. The Owl & Howl Prowl hits the Shoreline Trail from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Oct. 24. This is a great opportunity to learn about the many wildlife and native plants on the trail from a local expert. It is also a rare chance to traverse the trail after hours. The walk will be approximately 1-2 miles round trip. Bring waterOwl&Howl2017 and dress for the weather; bug spray and binoculars are optional. Make sure to bring your flashlight. Participants are asked to meet at intersection of Lakeshore Boulevard and Lake Ridge Drive between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m. We encourage everyone to sign up for the event online. For more info, contact Danny Dill at 972-624-3159.

  3. Help make a difference in your community by joining volunteers from around The Colony and the entire nation during Make A Difference Day on Saturday, Oct. 28. On that day, volunteers in the City of The Colony will be working on a variety of local projects throughout the city, including: fence repairs, tree trimming, painting, graffiti removal, and trash and debris clean-up in city parks and along the Shoreline Trail. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at Lions Club Park, 4800 Nash Drive. The event will last until noon. Light refreshments will be available at the conclusion. Participants must be at least 12 years old and are encouraged to register online. Please bring work gloves. Other project-related materials will be provided. For additional information, contact Danny Dill at 972-624-3159.

Three Things to Know This Week (Oct. 16-22)

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  1. Looking for ways to keep the kids active during the winter months ahead? Join TheYBB Colony Winter Youth Basketball League for kids ages 3-12. Registration is open until this Saturday, Oct. 21. You may register at The Colony Recreation Center (5151 North Colony Blvd.) or online at PlayTC.com. Registration is $65 for The Colony residents and $75 for non-residents. For more information, call Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.

  2. The Colony City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at City Hall, 6800 Main St. The Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. Click here for the agenda. The Board of Adjustments also meets this week, at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18. View the agenda online.

  3. The Colony Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife to offer a camping workshop for the community! The workshop, called Texas Outdoor Family, will take place at Lake Ray Roberts State Park: Isle du Bois park. During the event, families will hike, geocache, fish, learn to cook in a DutchTexasOutdoorFamily oven and much more! No experience is required and all equipment is provided. Families only need to bring personal items and bedding. Equipment included: tent, cots, cook stove, pots and pans, utensils, etc. The cost per family of five is $75. Also included is food for the weekend. The workshop is on Nov. 18-19. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and cleanup is finished by 10 a.m. on Sunday. Register at PlayTC.com or by calling Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.

Three Things to Know This Week (Oct. 10-15)

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  1. Members of The Colony Public Library’s Local History Committee will be on hand to talk about the history of Bridges Cemetery and discuss its preservation and TwilightBridgesrestoration plans, as well as answer questions about the history of the City of The Colony, during Twilight at Bridges Cemetery, 5 p.m. to sunset Saturday, Oct. 14. The cemetery is located at the corner of Morning Star and Chesapeake drives. Click here for more info, visit www.thecolonypl.org or email Assistant Library Director of Operations Megan Charters.

  2. Are you ready for the annual City-Wide Fall Clean-Up? If not, you’ve got one weekend left to get your junk in order! The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 21, in the parking lot of Hawaiian Falls Waterpark. Residents of The Colony may bring trash and refuse, such as large tree limbs, furniture, appliances, lumber, remodeling debris, fencing materials and scrap metal, for disposal. This list is not all-inclusive, and some limitations apply. Click here for all the details or call Environmental Services at 972-624-3131.

  3. oak-ridge-boysMark your calendars now if you haven’t already. We are ONE MONTH away from American Heroes: A Salute to Veterans! This year’s festival and fireworks event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11, at The Colony Five Star Complex. The event features a headlining performance by the Oak Ridge Boys, as well as live music from Sammy Kershaw and Cooder Graw. Registration for the American Hero 5K/10K/1-mile Fun Run is already underway. A whole day’s worth of fun and activities is in store. Check out the festival schedule for all the details or call Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.

Three Things to Know This Week (Oct. 2-8)

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  1. Join us on Friday night, Oct. 6, for our second fall installment of Movies in the Park at The Colony Five Star Complex! This week’s movie is Beauty and the Beast, rated PG. FREE admission for everyone! Gates open at 6:15 p.m. Movie begins BeautyBeastapproximately 7:15 p.m. Parental supervision required. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets! Concessions will be available for purchase. The Colony Five Star Complex is at 4100 Blair Oaks Drive. Click here for more info or call the Parks & Recreation Department at 972-625-1106.

  2. #ICYMI: A new feature launched this past Sunday enables residents and visitors to access a food establishment’s health inspection scores from their smartphone or tablet. Starting Oct. 1, the letter grade cards showing health inspection scores were replaced with city-issued placards containing a QR code which, when scanned by a QR-code reader on your device, takes the user to the Health Inspection page of the city’s website. Click here for more details.

  3. Vote-smallVoters in Place 6 have one week to register to vote in time for the Tuesday, Nov. 7, City Council Election. The voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 9. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3. For more info, call the City Secretary’s Office at 972-624-3106.

‘Ready for anything’

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Medical Control contract keeps TCFD on the cutting-edge

“Check your own pulse.” That’s the first rule for fire department paramedics arriving at the scene of an emergency. The patient (or patients) requires immediate attention, and first-responders don’t have the luxury of being flustered.

“The more cool, calm, and collected we are, the better care we can provide,” said Shannon Stephens, Assistant Chief for The Colony Fire Department (TCFD).

To that end, The Colony Fire Department is staying on the cutting-edge of medical training by virtue of its current Medical Control contract with Medical City Plano (MCP). Through the affiliation, TCFD paramedics have access to a wide variety of programs and services – computerized training, facility access, ongoing statistical analysis of department operations, on-site training by emergency room physicians, operating-room rotations, ER rotations, and more.

One of the facilities they utilize is a cadaver lab at UT-Southwestern Medical School in Dallas where paramedics and other first-responders can practice hands-on, life-saving techniques. Shift by shift, TCFD has been sending all of its paramedics to the lab to keep their training fresh. A recent trip to the lab emphasized what they call “taking an airway.”

“When we arrive on a scene, one of the first things we’ll assess is if the patient’s airway is at risk through some kind of traumatic injury or medical event like a chronic illness,” Stephens said. “Sometimes patients are just fighting so hard to breath they get exhausted, and they’re not providing adequate ventilation on their own. So we take over for them and assist their respiration through different procedures like an intubation or tracheotomy.”

As the name implies, the cadaver lab provides paramedics the chance to use their tools and techniques on actual cadavers as opposed to mannequins, which not only have a tendency to wear down but simply don’t compare to the real thing, Stephens said.

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The Colony Fire Department paramedics Harrison Stoker, left, and Mike Powers prepare for their lab training by reviewing some of the tools of the trade.

TCFD veteran Mike Powers and newcomer Harrison Stoker were among the recent paramedics to undergo training at the lab. Powers has been in the fire services for 17 years. He said that most often a paramedic may only encounter serious trauma scenes a handful of times in their whole career.

But when that time comes, you have to be confident and let your training kick in. That’s when time spent in the labs really pays off.

“One of the unique things about fire services is that you go from 0 to 100 very quickly. One minute you’re literally sitting there at the table having a cup of coffee then just minutes later you’re at the scene of a horrific car accident, using the Jaws of Life, taking an airway,” he said. “It goes that quick. You don’t know from one minute to the next what you’ll be asked to do so you have to be ready for anything. The lab experience is great so that you’re not going in totally green when those situations arise.”

Then again, there are times when serious incidents come in waves. On average, each paramedic in the department performs about three intubations a year, Stephens said. Stoker, however, has performed five in the last two months alone. Despite those opportunities to put his skills to the test, he’s still appreciative of the lab training.

“I remember the first time I did CPR on someone. It’s totally different than the mannequin,” Stoker said. “At the lab, I definitely learn things to apply for the next time. You get very specific instruction regarding common issues.”

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TCFD paramedics Harrison Stoker, left, and Mike Powers were among the latest department personnel to attend lab training at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

All lab participants are, of course, very respectful of the cadavers. Those individuals’ last act in life was to donate their bodies for educational purposes so that other lives may be saved.

“The more exposure you get, the more acclimated you are, the better you’ll do. This is a great opportunity,” Powers said, adding that his confidence in his skills was 100-percent restored following the lab work. “When we’re out on a call, we have to be fast. Like the doctor told us, the patient is dying and it’s just you. You have to do something. It’s intense. The more practice, the better.”

In his 20-year career, Stephens has performed many different emergency medical procedures. He remembers well the sensations of those experiences, especially his first chest decompression.

“I was startled because that was the first time I’d ever experienced something like that,” he said. “These types of laboratories take that away. They tone down the excitement level. This is our profession and it’s the patient’s emergency. There’s no room for error.”

TCFD’s Medical Control contract with Medical City Plano began in November 2016. Since that time, MCP has been tracking various department statistics.

“In the beginning, our first-attempt intubations were right at 50 percent, which isn’t really bad. It’s a complex procedure,” Stephens said. “But last month, our first-attempts were at 100 percent. That’s unheard of. It’s a goose-bump moment where you can really see the difference being made by the level of training.”

TCFD is one of only four fire departments in the region partnered with MCP for Medical Control services, along with Plano, Frisco, and Rowlett. The training and communication goes both ways, as well. As part of the program, for example, Emergency Room staff at MCP are instructed to observe the “45-second rule” when receiving a patient. Rather than simply whisk the patient off to a room, this ensures hospital staff members absorb relevant information from the paramedics.

“That rule makes sure the hospital has a clear understanding of what happened at the scene and why we’re bringing in our patients the way we are,” Powers said. “It’s a win-win.”

The ER rotations also give paramedics the chance to develop a better understanding about procedures taking place after they drop off their patients. “Paramedic training opens the door to the medical profession but getting the actual real-world experience in the hospital is different,” Stoker said. “It’s like learning Spanish in school versus living in a Spanish-speaking country.”

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The Colony Fire Department’s contract with Medical City Plano for Medical Control services requires ER staff to observe a ’45-second rule’ when receiving new patients. This protocol ensures paramedics are given ample opportunity to convey important information about the circumstances surrounding the patient’s emergency.

MCP’s program capitalizes on decades of medical, technological, and pharmaceutical advances developed by military medics on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stephens said. Thus, TCFD paramedics assigned to The Colony Police Department’s Special Response Team (most of whom are former military medics already) receive additional training through the program specific to those needs.

“We’ve got four firemen that are embedded on TCPD’s SWAT team as tactical paramedics. They’re not armed; they’re not officers. They’re just assets to the team,” Stephens said. “They have additional training and protocols that they perform. Most of the equipment is the same but they carry a small amount of specific medical equipment for certain traumatic injuries,” like for complex sutures or even dental work.

The way the system is set up, Stephens said, The Colony FD paramedics will always take care of The Colony Police officers. “In the event our SWAT team is making a raid outside the city and a member is injured, there will be a TCFD paramedic providing our level of care all the way to the hospital, regardless of the mode of transport.”

And by “our level of care,” Stephens is referring to what’s called The Colony Way. TCFD prides itself on maintaining a high, consistent level of specific training (like what’s provided at the cadaver lab) in order to create necessary cohesion within the department.

“We’ve all got to be on the same page. That’s The Colony Way,” Powers said. “Whatever the call, you’ve got to multitask and pay attention to the lead paramedic giving instructions. It takes a village to save a person.”