Q. Does Dallas have any system to rate the standards of child day-care centers? S.A., Mesquite.
A. The Texas Department of Human Resources (DHR) has requirements for day-care licensing, but Roberta Bergman, an executive for resource development for Child Care Dallas, a private nonprofit organization, says the DHR’s requirements “set a minimum floor rather than a maximum goal” for day-care centers. Some of the basic requirements that must be met are an adequate number of toilets, a certain number of square feet per child in a given facility, a telephone and educational material. The major requirements for staff employment are that employees be at least 18 years old and free of disease, and they must not have been convicted of a felony. Bergman says that some organizations, including Child Care Dallas, have been trying to develop a citywide quality-control and rating system, but due to a lack of funding the need has not been met. A few organizations have information offices, but they’re just for targeted (usually lower-income) groups. The DHR does, however, publish a checklist from which parents can do their own snooping into available child-care centers.
Q. What occupies the building on Ross Avenue that has a car in the window? I think the sign reads “Transportation Institute.” F.H., Dallas.
A. The Transportation Institute is a magnet school for the Dallas Independent School District. It opened in 1976 as one of the district’s first four such schools; others were the arts, business and health magnets. The transportation magnet specializes in auto and motorcycle repair and in the sale and marketing of cars. Besides being a specialty school, the institute is also a comprehensive high school. The first year it was opened, there were 650 students enrolled. Since then, enrollment has been cut in half; last year’s enrollment was 296. Assistant principal W.C. Dorsey says enrollment declined because after the school was in operation for five years, only full-time students were accepted. Up to that point, both full and part-time students were accepted. This year, Judge Barefoot Sanders ordered the DISD to allow part-time students back into the institute. This year’s enrollment is 350.
Q. I heard that Mick Jag-ger bought a ranch next to that of his girlfriend, Jerry Hall, in Dallas. Is this true, and if so, where is it? K.R., Irving.
A. It is true that Jerry Hall, a top model with the Ford agency in New York, bought a ranch in the Dallas area. But Mick didn’t follow suit. The location of Hall’s Dallas ranch is top secre
Q. Today I was nearly flattened by an ambulance en route to an emergency. What kind of driver’s training course are emergency vehicle drivers required to pass before they are licensed? J.D., Oak Cliff.
A. Ambulance drivers for the Dallas Fire Department must go through rigid training before they obtain the status of “ambulance driver.” To begin, they must be hired by the fire department. Then, they must take an 18-week firefighting course plus a four-week emergency program for medical technicians. At the end of 18 weeks, if they pass the program, the “firefighters” serve by responding to fires for about two years. If they choose to move to ambulance work, they must complete a four-month paramedic course after which they ride in and drive ambulances. Although they must have a standard operator’s license, at no time in the training program are firefighters required to take a driving course. They are, however, encouraged to take a two-day defensive-driving course.
Q. When I drive down-town in the morning, 1 pass a building under construction on Pearl Street. Often, there is a huge crane overhanging the street with a cable attached and a heavy metal object on its end. If the cable broke, it could result in a horrible accident for an innocent bystander. Is there some sort of law regulating this? L.V., Richardson.
A. There are no laws gov-erning cranes overhanging the street. Barry Knight, a Dallas assistant city attorney, says that the city building inspector does, however, encourage safe construction practices. Contractors try to avoid this practice; insurance premiums are much higher for contractors who must swing cranes over streets and sidewalks.