Another year is done. We’re still thinking about the real estate craze in Lake Highlands. And Better Block showed us what a park could look like at Forest-Audeila. It’s crazy to think all of that and more happened. Here are 22 moments that captured neighbors’ attention in 2021.

Kent Fine Chocolates via Facebook

PRETTY & SWEET

Robert Kent’s fine chocolates are the result of a sweet life. His dad funded his entrepreneurial dreams as a child and his mom got him in the kitchen. Though he doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar shop up, he’s done well with online sales and personal delivery.

CITY OF REFUGE

Neighbors and City Councilman Adam McGough hoped an Atlanta-based nonprofit would realize the dream of a 12-acre urban farm at 12000 Greenville Ave., which would also provide resources and opportunities for homeless and low-income neighbors. The proposed project eased through City Hall until November, when concerns arose in City Council. The nonprofit, City of Refuge, has backed off the project but McGough says he still wants to make the concept a reality.

Photo courtesy of City of Refuge

$4.35-BILLION DALLAS CITY BUDGET: POTHOLES AND POLICE TOP PRIORITIES

The city proposed the largest part of the budget for infrastructure and transportation. Of the budget’s eight strategic priorities, the least money is set aside for housing and homelessness.

HEY, HEY!

A new concept from the owners of Cedar & Vine opened quietly in November in the Lakeridge shopping center. Hei Hei offers traditional American Chinese stir fry, noodles and fried rice alongside batch cocktails and a straightforward beer and wine menu.

TERRIFYING ORDEAL

A Lake Highlands family was shaken up but uninjured after finding a man in their sons’ playroom closet in July. The man left valuables untouched, only asking for food and claiming the family were the intruders. Police arrived within 3 minutes and removed him.

Photography by Carol Toler

LHHS STUDENTS PROTEST

LHHS students protested outside school after a teacher was caught using racial slurs. The teacher claimed she was showing students how to overcome racism at work

HOUSING PROJECT

A proposal to build 200 apartments with a 50/50 mix of low-income and market-rate units proved unpopular with residents of Hamilton Park. The city’s Housing and Homelesness Solutions Committee voted in February to move forward with the project near Home Depot at Forest Lane

Photo courtesy of Baldwin Associates

URBAN INFILL

Stillwater Capital plans to build 34 single-family homes on the site of the Hollywood Overhead Door Co. on White Rock Trail, after the City Plan Commission granted a zoning change in July. The developer agreed to share the cost of a traffic signal upgrade at Walnut Hill Lane and White Rock Trail, a portion of which must be paid before building permits are issued.

Photography by Jessica Turner

KAREN CLARDY RESIGNS FROM RISD SCHOOL BOARD

When RISD School Board President Karen Clardy resigned in September, she didn’t give a reason. She left before the May 2022 expiration of her term.

Chuck Connor at White Rock Skate Center (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Photography by Danny Fulgencio

WHITE ROCK SKATE REMEMBERED ON THE KELLY CLARKSON SHOW

Lake Highlands High School 2004 grad Leslie Connor’s grandfather Charles built White Rock Skate Center in 1972, always playing Frank Sinatra’s songs at the rink. He passed away in 2018 after a battle with cancer. During a March episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, Kelly sang Sinatra’s “My Way” at Connor’s request.

Photo courtesy of Mo’Bettahs website

ALOHA!

Dallas has many restaurants, but where else can you find Hawaiian food? Mo’Bettah’s Hawaiian Style Food brought authentic island food to our neighborhood in November. Among the offerings from the Utah-based chain, founded by brothers Kimo and Kalani Mack, are plate lunches with tempura shrimp or katsu chicken served with macaroni salad.

Photo courtesy of Brookdale White Rock

COMFORT THROUGH CAREGIVING 

Andy Celis is basically a kid at Brookdale White Rock. The 20-year-old is a caregiver, something he’s honed his skills in for the past six years. Helping residents stay positive throughout the pandemic has brought him comfort.

CALL IT A COMEBACK

The pandemic brought dine-in options to a halt in 2020, including at Wok Star Chinese, but the beloved neighborhood spot eased back into the swing of things last year with takeout before reopening its doors for indoor service on May 28.

UPSCALE & EFFICIENT

StoryBuilt Homes broke ground on 36 new, energy-efficient homes in White Rock Valley. It’s near the DART Redline, White Rock Lake, trails and parks. The three- and four-bedroom homes will comprise 2,200-2,800 square feet with prices starting around $750,000.

Photo by Patrick Dunn : Photography

VIRAL SENSATIONS 

Paxton Smith’s unapproved valedictorian speech on reproductive rights garnered national attention. New Orleans artist Ashley Longshore painted a portrait of the teen. Smith will be writing some chapters in the upcoming book A War on My Body, A War on My Rights.

ATOMIC DAYDREAM

A mid-century modern Ju-Nel home at 9023 Capri Drive hit the market for $600,000 in October. Someone bought the five bedroom, three bathroom house on Dec. 2.

Photo courtesy of Redfin

WITH THE COOL KIDS 

LHHS grad Justin Hamilton served as director or filmed several stars’ musical projects this year. His most standout pieces of the year were for Finneas, who also happens to be Billie Eilish’s brother, and Olivia Rodrigo.

Photo courtesy of David Weekley Homes

REDEVELOPMENT

David Weekley Homes plans to build 29 single-family homes priced $400,000-$500,000 on vacant land owned by the YMCA on Greenville Avenue. The sale of the land will give the YMCA much-needed cash to complete an expansion project begun in 2020.

PANHANDLING

A tent city took root at Central Expressway and Forest Lane, which is one of the areas the City has been cleaning up since July. The Office of Homeless Solutions discouraged neighbors from donating to panhandlers because it might prevent them from seeking placement in shelters.

RISD STUDENTS ARE DINING OUTDOORS 

Concerned parents helped come up with a plan for more outdoor dining spaces for students to stay connected in the time of COVID-19. Dining outdoors was meant to lessen the risk of COVID-19 transmis- sion as students ate without masks on.

Photo by Carol Toler

LIFE-SAVING CUTIES

Dr. Lauren Ortega, Chris Fulmer and Will Dusek saved one softball parent’s life. The dad seemed to be asleep, but he was actually in dire need of CPR.

A LOOK AT CRIME IN LAKE HIGHLANDS

Crime hit a high in the spring but calmed toward the end of July. In Lake Highlands, the most common crimes were property crimes.Data from 2019 shows Dallas had 2.26 police officers per 1,000 residents.