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U.S. pet toys market tops $1 billion

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Toys is the largest durable dog and cat petcare category with sales crossing the $1 billion threshold in 2016, up from $851 million in 2011. This reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the brand new report Dog and Cat Toys: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities. Packaged Facts forecasts similar annual gains looking ahead to 2020.

As in the overall market, dogs account for the lion’s share of sales, at 75 percent in 2016, with cats accounting for the remaining quarter. Dog toys continue to see steady growth in sales as one of the faster growing segments within the durable petcare category. Much of the growth can be attributed to the steady demand in sport and fetch toys as well as renewed interest in chew toys and a new love of more durable plush toys. Packaged Facts pinpoints the uptick in chew and plush dog toys as a promising opportunity for both pet product manufacturers and retailers.

Historically, dog owners have always been more willing to purchase toys for their pets than cat owners, notes David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. A look at households by pet type over the last six years shows this trend has been consistent over the entire period. It is also worth noting that the percentage of households with either cats or dogs purchasing toys has stayed above 53 percent for this period as well, although there have been larger shifts in the percentage of households buying toys that own just cats or just dogs. However, the biggest change, and a positive one at that, is in households with both cats and dogs. In these homes, toy purchasing has gone from 57 percent of households buying toys in 2011 to 67 percent of households in 2016.  

Pet humanization and “pets as family” trends play pivotal roles in growth within the toy industry. For instance, there is an extremely strong tendency for dog owners to use new toys as a way to pamper their pet. In fact, survey data reveal that 88 percent of dog owners agree they enjoy pampering their pet with new toys. Of course, long gone are the days when any old stick or old shoe would do for a toy. Attitudes have shifted significantly over the decades, and now only 36 percent of dog owners say their pet regularly uses household items as toys more than commercial toys, which is great for pet toy manufacturers.

About The Report

Dog and Cat Toys: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities provides an in-depth analysis of dog and cat toy sales through all channels in the U.S. market, focusing on the key categories of toys driving the market and highlighting sales trends. The report covers sales of chew, plush, rubber, fetch, tug, and puzzle toys, as well as cat scratchers and cat stands, discussing the top marketers in each category. All information and analyses in the report is highly accessible, presented in concise text and easy-to-read and practical charts, tables, and graphs.

View additional information about Dog and Cat Toys: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities, including purchase options, the abstract, table of contents, and related reports at Packaged Facts’ website:      

SOURCE Packaged Facts

DCCCD receives green light for first bachelor’s degree

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 2118 into law on Monday, June 12, which now allows the Dallas County Community College District to offer a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, its first four-year degree.

State Sen. Royce West and Rep. Helen Giddings filed bills to address the shortage of early childhood teachers in the North Texas area. Ultimately, language from their bills was added to SB 2118 by Sen. Kel Seliger. This legislation will provide a solution to the shortage of more than 4,000 early childhood education teachers in Dallas County.

“Students in our area now can choose a quality, affordable bachelor’s degree in early childhood education,” Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor said. “It also supports the governor’s goal to provide quality pre-kindergarten for our youngest Texans, and it comes at no additional fiscal cost for the state.

“We are excited to offer this choice and also to solve a shortage that has limited the number of youngsters who were allowed access to pre-K programs in Dallas County because there weren’t enough teachers.”

The bill also allows several other community colleges in the state to offer a baccalaureate degree in applied science, applied technology or nursing.

DCCCD now will work with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to establish an education pathway for early childhood education in the district. DCCCD colleges already have child development programs in place and can offer the new bachelor’s degree once the specific curriculum and requirements are established and have been approved by the THECB.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools also will be involved in the accreditation process for the new degree, including faculty credentials, expanded library offerings and other criteria.

The entire process will approximately three to four years.

SOURCE Dallas County Community College District

Banks want to start making payday loans again

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) Policy Analysis, “Been There; Done That,” warns that banks are seeking the repeal of consumer protections established in 2013 that ensured that banks could no longer keep borrowers trapped in unaffordable payday loans. 

Six banks—Wells Fargo, US Bank, Regions Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Bank of Oklahoma and Guaranty Bank—were making predatory payday loans to their own account holders until 2013, when a public outcry and risks to the banks’ safety and soundness led bank regulators to establish commonsense guidelines to curb these unaffordable loans. The banks were siphoning $500 million annually from customers who were caught in a devastating debt trap structured just like storefront payday lending.

Now, as Congress invites a tempest of deregulation that would open the floodgates to predatory lending, the American Bankers Association is urging regulators to block and repeal protections against these dangerous loans.

“The banking industry is taking advantage of an environment in Washington where consumer protections are under siege,” Rebecca Borné, CRL Senior Policy Counsel and author of the report, said. “While payday lending has been effectively banned in 15 states plus the District of Columbia, payday lenders are still operating elsewhere and siphoning $8 billion per year in abusive fees from low-income communities. The banks want a piece of that action, to charge their own customers rates of 200 and 300 percent APR in order to strip away millions of dollars a year from fees on intentionally unaffordable loans.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is also the target of anti-consumer initiatives, including a proposal to eliminate its authority to regulate payday and car-title lending at all. The CFPB is in the process of finalizing a commonsense rule addressing these abusive 300 percent interest loans.

Like storefront payday lenders, the six banks making payday loans marketed them as an occasional bridge to the next payday, not meant for long-term use. But in 2011, CRL documented that the median bank payday borrower had 13.5 loans per year and was in debt at least part of six months annually. And in 2013, the CFPB found that borrowers spent an average of 114 days during the year in triple-digit debt. And CRL also found that more than half of borrowers had more than ten loans annually, and 12 percent had more than 30 loans annually.

The extreme harm payday loans cause borrowers has motivated communities, advocates, and state policymakers to address the practice. Data has shown that payday loans result in increases in difficulty paying living expenses, delinquency on credit card and other debt, delayed medical care, overdraft fees, loss of checking accounts and bankruptcy.

In their 2013 guidance, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency advised the banks they oversee that they must assess the ability of their customers to repay the loans without getting into deeper financial trouble. Instead, the banks got out of the business.

CRL recommends that the regulators keep the guidance in place and that the CFPB finalize a strong rule protecting consumers from debt trap loans. The policy analysis includes a range of other recommendations to stop both predatory storefront and online lending and the threat of bank payday lending.

SOURCE Center for Responsible Lending

Blaze burns through warehouse

At 12:07 p.m. June 21, the Irving Fire Department (IFD) responded to a structure fire at 1720 E. HWY 356 (Old Irving Blvd). The business name is New World International (NWI). This building consists of NWI, another warehouse business and several retail stores.

The fire was confined to the NWI warehouse. A second alarm was requested by the Incident Commander due to the size of the building, difficulty in reaching the fire through debris, and the high ambient temperature, which greatly affects the rehab process for our firefighters.

DFW Airport Fire Department was also requested to assist by providing their truck mounted high-volume ventilation fan capable of ventilating large buildings in a short amount of time. This worked well and allowed the smoke to be cleared from the structure permitting crews to continue digging through debris and extinguishing hot spots.

Two people were affected by light smoke inhalation; both were treated and released by IFD EMS crews. No injuries to IFD personnel were reported.

IFD crews mitigated the fire in a short amount of time.

The bystanders in the area are to be commended for calling 911 immediately, allowing for quick dispatch of IFD equipment. In the age of social media, often, bystanders become focused on obtaining video for social media and 911 calls are delayed. This was not the case today, and quick 911 calls helped the IFD in getting there quickly and limited the property damage.

SOURCE Irving Fire Department

Kona Ice now serving Irving

Bringing tropical tunes and cups of shaved ice everywhere it stops, Kona Ice is introducing Irving to its distinctive blend of entertainment and gourmet frozen treats.

“The communities’ first taste of our cool treats and colorful truck will keep them coming back for more,” said Cynthia Sanchez, the local resident and entrepreneur who has teamed up with her family to launch her new food truck franchise in Irving. “It will only be a matter of time before our Kona truck captures the hearts, minds and taste buds of the neighborhoods we serve.”

Kona Ice offers ten tastes on the truck’s Flavorwave, an interactive dispensing system in which individuals select from one or more of the flavors to pour over their fluffy snow, or the additional 20-plus flavors and 500 different combinations available.

“It’s an opportunity to enjoy a unique, tropical treat,” Sanchez said. “For a couple of dollars you can experience the excitement of the truck, flavor your own Kona Ice, donate to an organization you care about, and kick back for a few minutes enjoying the sounds of the tropics. It’s an escape that everyone can enjoy.”

Equally as appealing about the launch of Kona Ice of Central Irving is its philanthropic commitment. Sanchez is continuing the mobile franchise’s tradition of donating money each year to local school groups, teams and community organizations, and gives back a percentage of the proceeds from each stop. Nationwide, Kona Ice has donated more than $40 million to community-based organizations since its launch in June 2007.

“Cynthia shares our commitment to giving back,” said Tony Lamb, founder and president of Florence, Ky.-based Kona Ice. “She wants to have a positive influence on the people in their community, whether it’s new text books, sports uniforms or, simply, a smile. We are proud to have her on-board. Together, we are excited to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”

Beyond fundraisers, popular spots for the food truck franchise include fairs, festivals, corporate events, neighborhood socials, church events and birthday parties. Sanchez’s truck also maintains regular weekday and weekend routes.

To learn more about Kona Ice of Central Irving and to book your next event, contact Cynthia Sanchez at or (682) 222-6447.

DCCCD trustees approve concealed carry policy

Members of the Dallas County Community College District’s board of trustees unanimously approved a new concealed (or campus) carry policy on Tues., June 6. The policy will start on Aug. 1, 2017.

DCCCD and all other community colleges in Texas are required to have a concealed/campus carry policy in place on Aug. 1, 2017, so that they can implement state law, SB 11, which was passed in June 2015 by the Texas Legislature.

“The Dallas County Community College District is committed to protecting the health and safety of our DCCCD community as we respect the rights of its individual members,” Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor said. “Passing this policy allows us to comply with the law without compromising our mission, purpose or the environment in which we all work and learn.

“I have worked with the district concealed carry committee and members of our board of trustees throughout this process to ensure that we meet the state’s deadline for implementation of our policy. Our concealed carry policy ensures that students and employees can learn and work in a safe environment and meets state requirements for individuals who are licensed to carry concealed handguns.

“The input of our students, employees and community members helped the committee craft a policy that reflects the ideas and feedback of everyone who participated,” he said.


Senate Bill 11, passed by the Texas legislature and signed by the governor in June 2015, permits a licensed-to-carry holder to carry concealed handguns on campus. The law also allows DCCCD and other institutions to adopt rules or regulations to implement concealed carry on campus as necessary, in view of student population, safety concerns and uniqueness of the campus environment, as long as the rules and regulations do not generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting a license-holder from carrying a concealed handgun on campus.

“The law does not allow ‘open carry’ on college campuses,” said Lauretta Hill, DCCCD’s commissioner of public safety and security. “Open carry refers to the intentional display of a handgun, including the partially- or wholly-visible display of a handgun stored in a shoulder or belt holster. The law also does not allow the carry of rifles or shotguns on college campuses.”

DCCCD formed a districtwide concealed carry committee in fall 2016 chaired by Hill. Rob Wendland, the district’s general counsel, and Tricia Horatio, assistant general counsel, provided legal advice. Each college in the DCCCD system – Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland – had its own campus committee as well.

To prepare for and discuss concealed carry, the district held more than 40 open and public forums in January and February to gather comments from students, employees and community members. Following the public and campus forums held in January and February, the districtwide concealed carry committee worked on drafting a policy in April and May; the first reading of the policy was presented to the DCCCD board of trustees on May 2.

The policy’s second reading – and discussion in a work session among members of the board’s education and workforce committee with the chancellor, general counsel and police commissioner – was presented on June 6; board members then voted to approve the new concealed carry policy during their regular public meeting later in the afternoon and added an amendment to review the policy in two years..

DCCCD’s concealed carry policy

The district’s new policy prohibits the use, possession or display of a firearm on college district property or a college district-sponsored or related activity which violates the law or district policy or regulations.

The new DCCCD concealed carry policy applies to all faculty, staff, students, guests, visitors, and individuals and organizations that do business with or on behalf of the district or its property. The policy does not apply to commissioned police officers, including the college district’s police department.

The district’s newly-approved concealed carry policy includes a list of definitions referred to in the text, plus specific conditions, areas and events where concealed carry is not permitted. Open carry is prohibited.

Specific conditions, areas and events where concealed carry is not permitted on DCCCD property are listed below; additional details provided in the policy for those items can be found in the new policy document online here: .

DCCCD concealed carry policy specifics

The district’s policy says this about concealed carry: “An individual who holds a license to carry (referred to as a “license holder”) may carry a concealed handgun on or about his or her person on college district property, including public driveways, streets, sidewalks or walkways, parking lots, parking garages and other parking areas, unless such carry is otherwise prohibited by state or federal law or this (DCCCD) policy. A license holder is responsible for complying with applicable state and federal laws related to the carry of a concealed handgun.”

Licensed holders may not carry a concealed handgun on college district property if they are intoxicated, and they may not intentionally or knowingly display a handgun in the plain view of another person, even if holstered. They are required to display their driver’s license, or identification certification issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and their license to carry when directed by DCCCD police officers, who have the right to disarm them in order to protect the license holder, officer or other individual.

Here are other areas, conditions or activities where concealed carry is not permitted under DCCCD’s policy:

DCCCD does not allow concealed carry wherever it is prohibited by law or by the district’s policy.

Concealed carry is not permitted by DCCCD in child care centers or polling places; at sporting or interscholastic events; at board meetings; where counseling services are offered; in healthcare facilities or in laboratories or areas where potentially hazardous materials are located.

DCCCD’s policy also does not permit concealed carry in locations where Pre-K-12 school or college district-sponsored programs or activities are located (or by Pre-K-12 personnel on the grounds or premises where the program, activity or camp is held); in fitness centers or in fitness facilities; in college district vehicles; or where prohibited by law or by contract.

Concealed carry also is not permitted by DCCCD’s policy at event-specific activities (such as college and high school graduations); during grievance proceedings; and in temporary exclusion zones (which involve specific factors detailed in the policy). DCCCD also will provide notices at all locations and activities where concealed handguns are prohibited by the district’s policy or by law.

Other weapons also are prohibited on college district property or at DCCCD or college-sponsored or related activities, including: the use, possession or display of any illegal knife or club; fireworks of any kind; incendiary devices; instruments designed to expel a projectile with the use of pressurized air (such as a BB gun); razors; chains; martial arts throwing stars; or the possession or use of articles not generally considered weapons, if they pose a danger to any DCCCD student, employee or district property.

The new DCCCD concealed carry policy includes the use of disciplinary action for individuals who violate the policy, up to and including expulsion, termination of employment, severance of a business relationship or criminal prosecution.

SOURCE Dallas County Community College District

Public investment around DART Rail moving North Texas

A new study looking at the economic impact of publicly funded projects near the light rail stations of Dallas Area Rapid Transit demonstrates what economists and private real estate developers have seen for nearly two decades:  DART Rail is driving the North Texas economy.

Researchers from the Economics Research Group at the University of North Texas, led by Michael Carroll, Ph.D., looked at 11 public projects, like Parkland Hospital, the Irving Convention Center or the Hatcher Station Health Center between 1999 and 2015 and found those types of projects are valued at $1.8 billion. Combined with privately funded transit oriented development, $10.8 billion has been invested near or along DART’s 93-mile light rail system since 1999.

The updated study was presented at a meeting of the Urban Land Institute on May 11. Previous studies by UNT researchers looked at TOD projects like Mockingbird Station or CityLine and identified more than $7 billion in economic impact from new or planned construction within a quarter mile of rail stations.

Researchers concluded the projects studied “represent not only the region’s commitment to multimodal transportation options and an urban landscape that reflects the importance of those options, but billions of dollars in economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs throughout the region.”

“This proves the wisdom of regional leaders in building a regional transit network like DART,” Carroll said.

The 93-mile light rail system, the nation’s longest, was built at a cost of $5.5 billion. The most recent extension, three miles, connecting a renewed Ledbetter Station to the campus of the University of North Texas Dallas, opened Oct. 24.

“Public transportation transforms cities,” DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said. “It not only provides connections to great destinations; it can be the catalyst for economic growth and community renewal.”

SOURCE Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Chamber of Commerce names Sherry Ambrose Vice President of Economic Development

Sherry Ambrose, former Vice President of Business Development for Enterprise Florida, Inc., has been named Vice President of Economic Development for the Irving Economic Development Partnership (IEDP). Ms. Ambrose began her new role April 3.

At Enterprise Florida Inc., a public-private economic development organization, Ms. Ambrose was responsible for creating strategies for the recruitment, expansion, and retention for eight targeted industries including: aviation/aerospace, life sciences, information technology, financial/professional services, logistics and cleantech. She prepared, managed and tracked results for a one million dollar annual budget.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Ambrose was an economic policy analyst for Puget Sound Regional Council/Prosperity Partnership in Seattle, WA.

Beth A. Bowman, President and CEO of the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and IEDP, made the announcement.

“We’re delighted to have leadership of this caliber join our economic development team,” Bowman said. “Sherry has the experience, talent, energy and passion for this job. Irving-Las Colinas is one of the most competitive geographic regions in the country, and has become an international business address for global corporations. We think Sherry will be an incredible addition to the team, and we look forward to working with her to achieve growth and prosperity for Irving-Las Colinas.”

Ms. Ambrose holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Rollins College, and a Master in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton University.

The Irving Economic Development Partnership is a collaborative effort of the City of Irving, Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Las Colinas Association, and private investors.

SOURCE Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce


MacAdemics teams win regional titles, state bids

MacArthur High School students recently won three regional championships and 13 state bids at regional competition at the University of Texas Arlington. In addition, students Obed De la Cruz and Ronaldo Carbone qualified for state in two events. The state qualifiers are as follows:

Current Issues and Events – REGIONAL CHAMPIONS


Sam Dennehy – Individual Fifth Place

Nikhil Arora

Ronaldo Carbone

Spelling and Vocabulary – REGIONAL CHAMPIONS

Obed De la Cruz – Individual Fifth Place

Kyle Ikpatt – Individual Sixth Place

Ronaldo Carbone

Katherine Parks


Miles Brownlee – Second Place Individual

Charles Salazar – Third Place Individual

Daniel Earley – Fourth Place Individual

Xavier Alvarez

Calculator Applications

Katherine Kim – Individual Third Place.


Destination Imagination goes global

Dest Imagination - Travis (bottom) editedSix Destination Imagination teams represented Irving ISD at the state tournament in Lubbock. Students from Singley Academy, Johnston Elementary, and Travis, Houston and Johnson middle schools competed, showcasing their unique solutions to academic challenges in the areas of STEM, fine arts, improv and project outreach.

Travis’ “In it Together” team placed fifth in the engineering category, while Johnston’s “We Fell Up the Stairs” team placed fifth in the improvisational category. Both teams will head to Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn., May 24-27. The international event will feature the tournament, interactive exhibits and skills workshops for approximately 1,400 student teams from nearly 15 countries. Pictured at top are (from left) Tristyn Hobbs-White, Tyler Littleton, Landry Childress, Haylee Sanchez, faculty co-manager Mary Surber, Moises Ramirez, Rylee Williams, Laniya Bell and faculty team manager Erin O’Connor from Johnston. Below are Andrea Viehweg and Elle Caldon from Travis; not pictured are faculty team mangers Julia Clowacki and Pia Pulido. SOURCE Irving ISD