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Road Safety Initiative to Address Increased Traffic Fatalities

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San Antonio Police officers are now receiving additional training on Vision Zero and crash reporting during their daily roll call in an effort to combat San Antonio’s alarming increase in traffic fatalities. Additionally, officers are sharing educational material with roadway users, especially those who are making unsafe choices.

On average, 162 people are killed on San Antonio roadways annually while some 40,000 are killed in traffic crashes across the United States. In the first six months of this year, 85 people were killed on San Antonio roads. This is a 44 percent increase in roadway fatalities when compared to the same period of time last year. In 2016 there were 98 fatalities during the same time period.

“As police officers, we see the tragedies caused by poor driving decisions that are made on a daily basis,” said Chief William McManus, SAPD. “Last year alone, we saw 144 people lose their lives on San Antonio roadways. Being able to stop these incidents before they happen is a priority we take seriously. Partnering with Vision Zero on this campaign will educate our officers about best practices for reporting on crashes and provide the community compelling information that can lead to a safer San Antonio.”

During their daily roll call, SAPD officers will view a video narrated by Chief McManus. The video provides statistics and encourages officers to be thorough in providing greater detail in their crash reports.

“The more detail we have in those crash reports, especially the contributing factors, is vital,” said Art Reinhardt, who oversees the Vision Zero initiative for the City of San Antonio. “We can take this information and identify patterns, which can help us make changes to the roads to improve safety and reduce injuries and fatalities.”

Officers will also be handing out pamphlets, prepared by Vision Zero, to people they see demonstrating unsafe behavior. An electronic version of the pamphlet can be accessed at www.visionzerosa.com.

“We all make mistakes, but there are steps each and every one of us can take to make our streets safer,” said District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales. “Through SAPD’s partnership, this campaign will allow us direct access to having conversations with people who are exercising poor judgment on the road. We can educate and encourage them to make safer decisions—because we want people to know that their decisions really do make a difference.”

The ultimate goal is to make San Antonio streets safer for people walking, biking, and driving. In 2015, San Antonio adopted Vision Zero, a plan designed to eliminate traffic fatalities and enhance transportation safety amidst community growth. The new sub-initiative, launched today, combines education, encouragement and enforcement, three of five pillars that San Antonio focuses on to achieve Vision Zero. The other pillars are engineering and evaluation.

Key points Vision Zero SA is sharing through this campaign:

  • Distracted driving is deadly – distracted driving accounts for almost 45% of crashes in San Antonio
  • Speed kills – increased speed heightens the odds of serious injuries and fatalities
  • A list of the most common crash types and how to avoid them
  • Tips for sharing the road
  • The importance of heightened awareness at intersections
  • Safety pointers for people walking, biking and driving

Stay up-to-date on Vision Zero San Antonio:

  • here
  • VisionZeroSA.com
  • #VisionZeroSA
  • Twitter: @SanAntonioTCI
  • Facebook: San Antonio TCI
  • YouTube: San Antonio TCI/li>
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Student Volunteers Operate One of the Busiest Tax Offices in the City

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St. Philip’s College students will open San Antonio’s most productive income tax preparation site when the 2019 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) season begins on Jan. 22.

Currently the top floor of the college’s Bowden Building, at 1801 MLK Drive, has been taken over by the VITA San Antonio program for training its entire corps of new and returning tax preparers. The St. Philip’s site, which was established in 1992 and run by students, is ranked No. 1 in productivity locally in 2018, No. 4 in productivity in the region, and No. 12 in productivity nationally.

Kenneth Bankston is the VITA college site leader and the instructor for the tax training center. He said they have already trained 300-400 volunteers on campus since December. VITA provides free income tax return preparation to taxpayers earning up to $60,000 annually. All VITA tax returns are prepared and submitted to the IRS electronically by volunteers. Taxpayers can anticipate receiving a check in seven to 10 days business days.

For the 2018 tax season, the VITA-St. Philip’s College volunteers processed $7.3 million in refunds for 4,170 clients. Many of the students who volunteer to help taxpayers are scholarship recipients of the HEB Student Engagement Grant.

Crystal Gandara is a 2015 alumna of the college’s liberal arts and business administration programs who began volunteering for VITA in 2014.

“For 2019, I’m going to help with Spanish speakers and see if we can serve 5,000 people. I think both are achievable,” said Gandara.

Lisa Alvarez is a 2018 alumna of the college’s computerized accounting program. Now she’s training this week to become the leader at VITA’s Brook Hollow site.

“When I got into VITA, I was no longer unsure what I wanted to do. When I tell people what I love do with taxes, they are like, well you are one of the few. When I get to Brook Hollow, I’m going to have my St. Philip’s College VITA experiences in my head the whole time. I love it, because this is helping people,” Alvarez said.

For details, contact site leader Kenneth Bankston at spc-vita@alamo.edu or call (210) 486–2122. To learn more, go here.

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New Interim District 2 Councilman

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Former Councilman Art Hall has been chosen as the interim District 2 Councilman to replace William “Cruz” Shaw. Hall previously served on the council, representing District 8. He has residences in both districts.

Hall was selected among a group of three finalists that included military veteran and motivational speaker Jada Sullivan, and Denver Heights Neighborhood Association President Aubrey Lewis. Thirteen people originally filed to be considered for the position. Hall said he will not file to run for the position in May. Hall must wait 10 days before being seated on the council.

Hall, who is an attorney and a dean at St. Philip’s College, served two terms from 2003 to 2007 when he represented District 8. The recent District 2 Council seat became vacant when Shaw resigned to accept an appointed judicial position at the Bexar County Courthouse.

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San Antonio City Council *Live*

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