We spent 2016 like we spend every year in Lake Highlands: Collecting the stories and photos that paint the picture of what makes this neighborhood great. But our readers only get to see a fraction of what we do; we are limited by how much we can put in print — which is an excellent reason to follow us online at lakehighlands.advocatemag.com, where you will find enriched magazine content and daily community news articles. Here, we’ll share some of the best images you didn’t see in our pages, along with updates about the people and issues we covered. Before you fully start 2017, look back at the wild, wet and often tense year.
We in Lake Highlands truly love our four-legged friends, which is why each September the Advocate celebrates pets and the joy they bring to our lives. After seeing the rampant problem of loose dogs in our city, this year we broke from tradition to spotlight some of the potential pets in our neighborhood. While they didn’t have homes, these pooches all were well loved by a network of dedicated volunteers who spend their time and resources improving chances for the most vulnerable creatures in our area. We checked in on our featured pups and found that just one of the four dogs from White Rock Dog Rescue, yellow-lab mix Shasta, found a home. Lolita, Spencer and Cassidy are still looking for the right families, says volunteer Lilia Hollis. Meet them at whiterockdog.org or call 214.507.4016. Over at Dallas DogRRR (Rescue, Rehab, Reform), where volunteers scoop up the saddest cases they can find — most dogs have medical issues and were rescued from local euthanasia lists — our coverage focused on eight dogs being fostered in our neighborhood. We are happy to share that seven of them — Faith Hill, Miriam, Spirit, Shirley, Ace Ventura, Leonard and Gatsby — all found homes. Glory, who was rescued after being hit by a car that left her with scars across her face, was moved to a sister shelter in New York where she awaits her happy ending.
Crime is tragically common in the Forest-Audelia neighborhood. In February, we went on patrol with two night officers in the Northeast Division, to see first hand what crime looks like in our neighborhood. That same month, Forest-Audelia sat at number six on the city’s top 10 “crime hot spots.” The next month, DPD upped its efforts in our neighborhood by deploying both a Crime Response Team and the Violent Crimes Task Force. Those teams, along with regular patrols, cracked down on the Forest-Audelia area, and results have already showed. “As of today, business robberies are down 7 percent and individual robberies are down 25 percent,” says Cristal Retana, assistant to Lake Highlands Councilman Adam McGough. “In March, violent crime at the Forest-Audelia (Targeted Area Action Grid) area was at 32 percent. Today, violent crime for the same area is at 11 percent, which means there was a 19 percent reduction.”
Throughout the year, we’ve highlighted the refugees we live alongside, many of whom fled horrific violence in their home lives and came here seeking peace. Vickery Meadow, which flanks Lake Highlands and has long been a hub of refugee services, offers even more now with the addition last year of a 15,000-square-foot community center. Built by Northwest Bible Church of Preston Hollow, the center includes computer labs and classrooms as well as a medical clinic operated by Healing Hands Ministry of Lake Highlands. The goal, says Pastor Neil Tomba, is to “improve the lives of the refugee children and adults who live in Vickery Meadow.”
Shots heard ‘round the world
Life in Dallas stood still July 7, the day a mass shooter targeted police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally downtown. This did not happen in our neighborhood, but every person in the city was touched by the violence as we prayed for the safety of our men and women in blue. In all, 14 officers were shot during the violent night, and five heartbreakingly lost their lives. In the days and weeks following the massacre, Dallas showed its true colors by coming together, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the affected officers and surrounding the force with as much love as we could muster. Here in Lake Highlands, officers drove a road lined with hundreds of American flags on their way to and from the Northeast Division on Northwest Highway. The substation was flooded with flowers, treats and homemade cards. Blue ribbons adorned trees and homes across the neighborhood. And when slain officer Sgt. Michael Smith was laid to rest in our Restland Memorial Park, dozens of residents lined the freeway to honor his processional, pictured here.
It’s a rare day when a skating legend like Tony Hawk talks to a neighborhood magazine in Lake Highlands. But that’s the power Jeff Phillips’ name commands. When Hawk heard we wanted to chat about his old skating buddy, the legend from Lake Highlands, he was happy to answer our questions. Phillips blazed ramps as a pioneer in the still-burgeoning sport in the late 1980s, skating with Hawk long before he was a household name. His death by his own hand on Christmas Day in 1993 is a wound that still feels fresh for the friends who grew up alongside Phillips in our neighborhood. They share his love for the skate park, a recreation that has been drying up around the city — a ballroom now sits where Jeff Phillips Skate Park once stood. But Dallas skaters rejoiced at the end of 2016 when Al Coker reopened Guapo Skate Park at 4000 Elm St. after shuttering another location last year, the day the above image was snapped.
After several years of drought, 2015 and 2016 both brought plenty of wet weather to satiate the dehydrated water tables. In August, 5.69 inches of precipitation fell, matching the 1914 record as the wettest August on record. It was par for the course, with Texas averaging 75.25 inches per year in 2015-16, the wettest 24-months in the state’s history, according to the National Weather Service. White Rock Lake “crested” 23 times in that two-year period, which means water rose above the 84-foot flood level (about 70 feet is average for the lake). That’s when we captured the spillway overflowing last March.
Helping to hear
Patty Pace and Adam Palmer’s love story reads like a romance novel. After a random attack behind the Aldredge House left Palmer’s future in question, Pace stepped in to mend his wounds, both physically and emotionally. And while the two have forged a strong path toward healing Palmer, the financial realities of recovering from a serious head injury will haunt the couple’s future. Palmer’s care has been determined by what he can afford, and hearing aids, which cost several thousand dollars, was something he planned to do without. When Woodrow Wilson grad and neighborhood audiologist Dr. Jay Miller read the story, he was compelled to help. He contacted the Advocate, who connected him with Palmer so the good doctor could arrange free hearing aids to help in Palmer’s recovery.
Where the wild things are
One thing neighbors love most about life in Lake Highlands is its robust natural amenities, particularly when it comes to wildlife. Coyotes and bobcats, owls and beavers all add to the magic of our neighborhood. All year long we spotlighted neighbors who help the animals living among us, from Erich Neupert, who rehabs winged creatures Blackland Prairie Raptor Center; to Barbara Turner, who monitors the frog population at White Rock Lake for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. See some of the cutest critters we met this year — cause who doesn’t love a baby owl?
End of the roll
When White Rock Skate Center owner Chuck Connor sold his property, a 20,000 square-foot, 43-year-old building his dad built, the neighborhood’s heart seemed to break. Gone were the retro nights of skating, the limbo contests and hokey pokey games. But not before one final blow out in October, when it seemed like the whole neighborhood came out for the community party of the year. What will happen next at the long-loved location is a question we have yet to answer. Developer Stuart Jones of LLC Shoreview Viola who purchased the 2-acre property has remained tight-lipped about his plans for the future, but has continued to buy up properties in the area, including Antioch Church.
When we became the news
While we always strive to tell the story without putting ourselves into it, that became impossible in June when our photographer made news across the world for being in the right place at the wrong time. Photo Editor Danny Fulgencio found himself in the thick of the Republican-Democratic divide when he covered President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign visit to Dallas. Fulgencio climbed up onto a bench to get a better vantage point of the raucous crowd. Without warning, he felt a sharp crack to his head as blood trickled into his eyes. A rock, thrown by an unknown person in the crowd, would make him a viral sensation over the next 24 hours. While he was patched up on scene and got right back to shooting, news media feasted on several social media posts that depicted our bloodied photographer. His Facebook page exploded with interview requests. At an otherwise uneventful rally, this was the gory drama with which most media led its coverage, inspiring many inaccurate, and often hilarious, headlines. But conservative pundit Pat Dollard’s site took the cake by proclaiming, “Typical Anti-Trump Protester Bashes Gay Journalist In The Head With Rock.” We assume they confused the Lake Highlands Advocate with the gay men’s magazine of similar name, while also assuming the sexuality of Fulgencio, causing still unknown damage to his love life (he’s straight and single, ladies).