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Rita Cook – Guest Contributor
Jan 5 @ 00:00
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The City of Grand Prairie's mayor receives the recent clean air award.

It’s that time of year when the ozone problems halt for a few of the cooler weather months. However, that doesn’t mean the cities around North Texas stop reminding residents how important it is to keep clean air in mind.

Recently at the Regional Transportation Council meeting, Air North Texas awards were given to cities in the area striving to keep the clean air message in mind.

The City of Grand Prairie was named Air North Texas Partner of the Year for the second straight year. Grand Prairie was recognized, in part because the city has developed a comprehensive campaign that includes website content, social media promotion, newsletter articles about air quality and coordination with the promotion of Air North Texas at community events during ozone season.

“Our strategy for outreach is to look at this issue from multiple viewpoints,” said Cindy Mendez

City of Grand Prairie, Environmental Quality Manager. “For parents, teachers, outdoor enthusiasts – we focus on the health impacts of poor air quality and ozone. For community and businesses, we focus on how air quality non-attainment negatively impacts businesses moving to the area versus moving to an area that has attainment with the eight- hour ozone standard.  For others, we have a more general focus on letting them know how their actions impact air quality.”

Mendez said the city is always thinking of ways to make sure residents and businesses are mindful of clean air through public education. 

“We heavily use the terminology 'Do 1 Thing for Clean Air Today' and stress the importance through social media and printing that doing things like tuning up their car, checking air pressure in their tires, turning off lights, and reducing energy use are things that benefit themselves financially and our environment and health.”

Grand Prairie and cities like it are continuously working alongside Air North Texas, the region’s public awareness campaign designed to make breathing cleaner air a priority.

The City of Dallas was recognized for its Outstanding Effort in Outreach. Dallas used its website, social media platforms and advertising to promote Air North Texas, encouraging both the general public and its employees to make clean air commitments. Dallas was also recognized with the Arlo Ambassador Award for incorporating Arlo the Armadillo into a popular social media campaign encouraging participation in Air North Texas.

The City of Plano was recognized for its Outstanding Effort in Partner Involvement. The Live Green in Plano air quality webpage included information about Air North Texas while encouraging visitors to become partners and Plano’s sustainability staff members participated in Air North Texas meetings and conference calls.

The award for Outstanding Effort in Initiative went to the University of North Texas Health Science Center. UNTHSC created its own Clean Air Action Day pledge in an effort to increase campus involvement and award participation. A total of 116 people took the pledge. UNTHSC also offered subsidized transit e-passes in partnership with the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. Electric vehicle charging is offered on campus, and the school is a sponsor of Fort Worth Bike Share, a program that offers an alternative to vehicles for short trips. 

Air North Texas is one of many strategies in place to improve air quality in the area with 10 North Texas counties striving to meet the Environmental Protection Agency regulation for ozone pollution. It includes 35 partners committed to educating the public about air quality and motivating them to help make the air healthier to breathe.

Air North Texas is coordinated through the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), which is a committee made up of previous Air North Texas award recipients. The NCTCOG staff members selected the most recent award recipients using the Air North Texas Partner Agreement data as well as annual progress reports of the partners.