All posts by Nick Kammerer

Nick has lived in Irving for 22 years and is a graduate of Irving High School class of 2010. In 2014, he graduated from the University of North Texas with his Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice.

Mayor delivers State of the City Address

Photo: In addition to reflecting on 2015, Mayor Beth Van Duyne expresses her hopes for Irving’s future. /Photo by Nick Kammerer

More than 550 dinner guests gathered on the fourth floor of the Irving Convention Center for the highly anticipated 2016 State of the City event on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Mayor Beth Van Duyne, the keynote speaker, recognized Irving’s many achievements in 2015 and discussed the city’s plans for the future.

“Irving was propelled into the national spotlight fairly regularly in 2015,” Van Duyne said. “Mother nature had a hand in that with the extensive flooding in May and more this past fall with an occasional tornado or two. Earthquakes also continued to rumble through the city.

“Cultural differences also took center stage, but we responded by demonstrating leadership and resolve while forming new collaborations,” she said.

Attendees enjoyed a delicious dinner served by the Convention Center’s staff as Van Duyne highlighted Irving’s continuing economic growth, successes of the Irving Independent School District and the city’s continued reduction in crime due to the Irving Police Department’s relentless service to the community.

“I want to focus on three major areas: new economic activity, representing new businesses, new developments, new jobs and new housing; new infrastructure in the area of education, transportation and community services; and new horizons and opportunities,” she said.

After recognizing elected officials and city employees in attendance, Van Duyne discussed current economic development.

“I believe that Irving has continued to be the economic epicenter of the North Texas region. There are more than 50 Fortune 500 companies in Irving. We [also] have six local small businesses that were recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Van Duyne said. “Nearly 4,600 new jobs were created in Irving this past year. We have officially surpassed the peak level of jobs that existed before the recession. Unemployment in Irving is now down to 3.7 percent.

“Our diversified economy, low cost of living, low tax rates and high quality of life are hitting home for many people seeking new opportunities,” she said.

Van Duyne highlighted a few of the city’s newest businesses and attractions.

“The Texas Musicians Museum, which was a labor of love for so many in this community, opened its doors in South Irving,” she said. “The $111,000,000 Center for Proton Therapy, which is the first cancer center in North Texas that uses state-of-the-art proton beam therapy, opened this fall and began treating patients.”

Van Duyne also discussed the progress of the long-awaited Texas Music Factory.

“The Irving Music Factory project is progressing after some carefully navigated negotiations,” Van Duyne said. “For the first time in this project’s history, the council unanimously supported an agreement that would gain revenue share for the city and provide a date for the developer to finalize their financing.

“If financing is not obtained by the end of February, the developer will abandon the rest of the property, and the city can move forward without concerns of lawsuits or other delays. If the developer is successful, construction should be completed in early 2017,” she said.

Additionally, Van Duyne shared her excitement about the opening of Las Colinas’ Whole Foods development, which is set to open in June of 2016. She spoke about the future plans for the former Texas Stadium site.

“The completion of the Dart Orange Line, into which we have invested $1 billion, continues to yield interest, and we are working to develop land in and around the former [Texas] Stadium,” she said. “This is 400 acres of prime, developable land that’s one of the most valuable, and highly visible, commuter gateways in the Metroplex.”

Finally, Van Duyne highlighted the successes of Irving’s award winning schools and Police Department, citing Irving ISD’s recent title of 2015 Advanced Placement District of the Year for midsized school districts.

“Another key deciding factor in moving to the city for both businesses and families is public safety,” she said. “I am honored to report that Irving was named in the Top 10 Safest Cities in the United States. This year, we’ve witnessed incidents that include police officers being harshly criticized for doing their jobs, or being second-guessed and undermined by leaders who should know better.”

The event was hosted by the Greater Irving – Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.

Irving police department encourages dialogue

Photo: Assistant Police Chief Jeff Spivey and fellow officers were met with warmth and support from members of the community. /Photo by Nick Kammerer

Citizens often contact the police to respond to criminal incidents and emergency situations. During these calls-for-service, those involved are usually preoccupied and emotionally distressed.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, Irving police officers arrived at Starbucks Coffee on MacArthur Blvd for a completely different reason: to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation with the citizens of Irving.

Saturday’s ‘Coffee with a Cop’ event, an ongoing community policing program, strives to formulate a positive relationship between police officers and the citizens they protect while in a relaxed, informal atmosphere.

“This is an opportunity for us to meet with the public in a setting where there is not a problem that’s going on or where tensions are high,” Irving Police Captain Darren Steele said. “Usually, when we talk to people on calls, they’ve either had a crime committed against them, or they’re not happy; so conversations aren’t quite as friendly or fun to have.

“Since we started at 9 o’clock, we’ve been talking to people the whole time. This is a good turnout. [Citizens] want to know what the crime is like around here, what are the issues that they need to look out for and what areas are safe and not safe,” he said.

Although Saturday’s event provided an opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns and ask questions, many of those in attendance arrived solely to show their support and thank the officers for their service. Some Irving residents wore “Police Lives Matter” t-shirts and other supportive apparel.

“A lot of people come out just to say, ‘Hi,’” Steele said. “They see the Coffee with a Cop flyer on social media, and they come out here to meet with us and see who the officers are that work in their area. The majority of [citizens] don’t have any issues or questions. They just come out here to visit with us, and the few that do may have a specific question about an issue with a neighbor or about an offense that occurred.

“It’s a win-win for the officers and the public, because we have the opportunity to speak in a nice, casual and open-ended environment. We appreciate the people that come out, and we’d like to encourage the [community] to come out and meet with us.”

Coffee with a Cop originated in Hawthorne, California in 2011 and quickly spread to municipalities and other police agencies nationwide. Saturday’s gathering was the Irving Police Department’s fourth Coffee with a Cop event this year, and additional gatherings are being planned for the upcoming year.

“I am supporting the police and the first responders in Irving,” Irving resident Elena Blake said. “I think it’s important that we get behind the Blue. I want more people to be aware these are the good guys. They’re here to protect us.”

Blake, President of the Irving Republican Women’s Club, is an avid promoter of Irving’s Coffee with a Cop event.

“If there is anything that the [citizens] want to know as far as police work, they should feel free to come to the police department and get their information,” Blake said. “I had a few things to ask about parking. They’re here to help me resolve any issues that I have in my neighborhood, my city and in my community. I want citizens, especially our children, not to be afraid and to come forward.”

In 2013, Irving was ranked the fifth safest city in the United States, proof that the Irving Police Department strives to improve the quality of life for members of the community. The department’s unwavering, relentless service to the citizens of Irving is evident in their passion for community policing and caretaking.

Residents are encouraged to visit the Irving Police Department’s Facebook page for information regarding upcoming events and activities. For more information about the department, visit www.irvingpd.org.

Despite heated debate, council passes resolution to support HB 562

Photo: Feeling House Bill 562 slights certain Americans by calling their faiths and patriotism into question, Imam Omar Suleiman speaks to the Irving City Council urging them to vote against the proposed ordinance. /Photo by John Starkey

The city of Irving passed a highly controversial resolution on Thursday in support of House Bill 562, a bill that relates to the application of foreign law in the State of Texas. Hundreds of Irving citizens of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds gathered at the city council meeting to share support and opposition of the proposed resolution brought forward by Mayor Beth Van Duyne, Councilman Brad LaMorgese and Councilman Oscar Ward.

“This bill does not mention, at all, Muslim, Sharia Law, Islam, even religion,” Mayor Van Duyne said. “It specifically talks about foreign laws not taking precedence over U.S. laws and those of the State of Texas. This has absolutely nothing to do with preventing any tribunal. What it is saying is: if you have a tribunal and if you have a court system, you are going to be upholding the fundamental rights of U.S. citizens and Texas citizens.”

A few Irving residents signed up to speak at the city council meeting including iconic Imam Omar Suleiman.

“As you can see, though I might not look like it, I was born and raised in this country,” Suleiman said. “I was born in New Orleans; I’m from New Orleans. I’m as American as any of you who are up here today. I’m also an Imam [and] a scholar in Islamic studies. I’ve taught comparative religion and interfaith theology.

“I moved to Irving a couple of years ago, and ironically, the first night I was here in Irving was our Ramadan Iftar where Miss Mayor spoke and said that Irving has the most diverse zip code in America. That was one of my proudest moments as an Irving citizen.

“When laws like this target our communities and stoke irrational fears, we have to worry about going out in public and being told ‘go back home.’ If you don’t believe us, then just a few weeks ago, we had a convention where there were a thousand protestors yelled at us as we walked with our spouses and our children, who were born in America and pledged allegiance to the flag, were told ‘go back home.’”

Irving resident, Jacqualea Cooley, spoke in favor of Irving’s resolution to support HB 562.

“Our Constitution is over 227 years old, and it needs our support. It needs your support. It is the fabric of our country. Anything less than this is unacceptable,” Cooley said. “It is good and healthy to renew that support from time to time, and I believe tonight is one of those times. I don’t think we’re voting against anyone; I think we’re voting to support the Constitution, which is for everybody.”

“Irving has an opportunity to shine and stand with our great State in affirming our belief in this great document. We must not run from opportunities to express our confidence in [our constitution]. It guarantees freedom for all individuals without regard for nationality, race, creed, color or religious beliefs. It will be a shame if we miss this opportunity to shine by failing to support House Bill 562. I have been proud of the positive press that our city and Mayor have received simply by stating our support of the Constitution of the United States of America,” Cooley said.

Many of the council members weighed in on the resolution, some citing that HB 562 should not be a municipal issue and that bringing the resolution forward only divided the community further.

“I’m going to come at this with a logic that comes out of my religious precepts,” said Councilman John Danish speaking to the predominantly Muslim audience. “I know I sit in a room with multiple religious precepts, so I hope you will give me that leeway. When Jesus Christ was asked, ‘what is the most important commandment?’ his answer was to love your neighbor. This is the most important precept – love thy neighbor.”

“Even though Representative Rinaldi is correct that there is nothing in this bill that discriminates against my Islamic fellow citizens, it is clear that the way this has been developed you feel threatened by it. You my neighbor, you my fellow American feel threatened by it, and that’s not right. That’s why I will not support this,” Danish said.

Mayor Van Duyne discussed her support of HB 562.

“This is a country that allows you freedom of religion, freedom to practice religion and freedom to change laws if you don’t agree with them by a democracy. What it does not allow is the ability to just create laws and to bring foreign laws over,” Van Duyne said.

“The gentleman earlier mentioned that we live in a wonderful melting pot. What makes this an amazing place to live is that we can have that diversity. We can enjoy that diversity. Why? Because we all follow the same law. This law is based on the U.S. Constitution. I would expect everyone in this room to be supportive of that,” she said.

After heated deliberation between council members, the resolution passed 5-4: Van Duyne, LaMorgese, Ferris, Ward and Spink voted for the resolution, and Meagher, Webb, Putnam and Danish voted in opposition.

Kidz BOP Kids perform for Coppell elementary students

Photo: Over 500 Austin Elementary School students watch the Kidz BOP Kids perform a mini-concert on Friday, Feb. 27. / Photo by Nick Kammerer 

The famous KIDZ BOP Kids made a special stop at Austin Elementary School in Coppell for a mini-concert performance on Thursday, Feb. 27. Over 500 elementary students danced and sang along with the talented performers: Ashlynn Chong (13), Bredia Santoro (13), Grant Knoche (12) and Matt Martinez (11).

The exciting show was hosted in partnership with GoNoodle, a free interactive classroom resource that promotes physical activity through interactive videos and games. A few of the GoNoodle videos feature the KIDZ BOP Kids.

“When we were in the room and we could hear them [chanting], ‘Kidz-BOP, Kidz-BOP,’ we got so excited,” Martinez said about the elementary school performance. “Last year, we had a tour called ‘Dream Mixing Loud’ and we practiced for exactly six weeks. This tour, we’ve also practiced six weeks, and it’s really fun. Each of us pushes each other. This year, we’re performing at Disney Land. I’m really excited for that one. ”

The Coppell concert was scheduled just a few days before the start of the KIDZ BOP Kids’ ‘Make Some Noise’ national tour, which began at the Dallas House of Blues on Sunday, March 1. This is the second year of touring for the four Kidz BOP performers.

Knoche, who is from Frisco, shared his excitement about the Dallas stop.

“We have lots of friends and family that get to come to the show. I’m super excited to get to see them. It’s really cool,” Knoche said.

The 2015 tour will stop in more than 40 major U.S. cities. Grant Knoche’s father, Shawn Knoche, discussed the touring life from a parent’s perspective.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids. There’s really no other opportunity like this to get the [kids] training,” Shawn said. “They’re all completely inspired by music, and Kidz BOP gives them the training and the schooling. It just builds their confidence, even the traveling and the experiences they have outside of performing.

“We will be driving from one location to another, through the mountains and seeing things that you normally wouldn’t be able to experience. It’s invaluable,” he said.

Chong, who is currently in a book reading competition with her cousin, explained how the performers began their career with Kidz BOP.

“We [all] first started when they had a nationwide casting call in 2013,” she said. “We all auditioned along with thousands of other kids, and they sent twelve of us to Dallas to train and to do our final audition. At the end of the summer, they picked us.

“Last year, my favorite stop was either the California tour or Radio City Music Hall.”

The Kidz BOP Kids follow a 6-day a week practice schedule while balancing home school. At the mini-concert, the young performers discussed their shared musical influences, which included Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, among others. In addition, they shared their plans for their life after Kidz BOP.

“I like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson,” Knoche said. “They’re all incredible people. I want to be a solo artist and go around and perform for the people and share tons of music with them.”

“I think Bruno Mars is an outstanding performer,” Chong said. “I want to write songs for myself and other people. I want to compose music.”

Santoro added, “I never thought I would be doing this type of stuff. I always wanted to perform, and I always wanted to do something in the performing industry, but Kidz BOP has given me the chance to actually do it. I think composing music would be pretty cool. I’ve written a few songs. I want to be able to do everything in the performing industry.”

Finally, the performers offered advice to other kids and students.

“Just go for it. If you like a certain artist then go for that style and [mix] in your own creativity,” Martinez said.

“Always take an opportunity to learn,” Chong said. “All you can really do in life is learn. Know what you can and do something with that information. Do something great with it.”

The Kidz BOP Kids have been named Billboard Magazine’s “#1 Kids’ Artists”for the fifth consecutive year. In 2014, Kidz BOP released the “#1 Kids’ Album,” Kidz BOP 25, and outsold some of the year’s biggest artists, including Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, according to KIDZ BOP.

Residents work to imagine city’s future

Photo: Irving residents work in groups to lay out gaming chips across a large map of Irving at the Imagine Irving Comprehensive City Plan workshop on Tuesday, March 3. / Photo by Nick Kammerer

Dozens of Irving citizens gathered for two interactive public workshops to discuss the future of Irving on the third floor of the Irving Convention Center on Tuesday, March 3. Participants were able to collaborate with city officials and discuss the city’s comprehensive plan as a part of “Imagine Irving.”

“We did an update to the [comprehensive] plan nine years ago, and it is absolutely amazing to me how much our city has changed,” said Mayor Beth Van Duyne. “We have been looking to define what our vision is going to be in the future. We need all of your help. We know what we want right now, but we haven’t really planned long-term how we are going to get there.

“How many people want to have more shopping in Irving? How many people want more restaurants, entertainment options, more single-family homes, more school choices, more options for growth and more jobs? All of those things play a part, from our libraries to our recreation centers and roads.

“I will tell you, some of it is not sexy when we start talking about sewer systems and where we are going to get our water in 10-15 years. These might not be things you are thinking about right now, but all of this takes long term planning. Our staff is dedicated to getting there,” she said.

John Fregonese with Fregonese Associates, a team of nationally recognized, leading experts on long-range community planning and visioning, delivered a presentation to the attendees entitled, “Irving of the Future: The Choice is Yours!”

Residents worked in groups and utilized a large map of the city and gaming chips to outline future development strategies, including potential parks, roads, housing, hospitality, entertainment and more. Attendees also participated in a real-time survey using remotes to cast their vote. Many discussed the future of Irving schools, entertainment, restaurants, the Irving senior center and more.

Currently, Irving is home to over 229,000 residents, according to Fregonese’ presentation. By 2040, the population is projected to grow 27-percent to approximately 290,000. In addition, Fregonese found more residents would rather rent than own.

In February, the Imagine Irving comprehensive plan update was initiated, and the Imagine Irving team began gathering data and interviewing elected officials and city stakeholders.

In March and April, the city will hold a number of citywide workshops, similar to the initial meeting, and gather ideas and input from Irving residents. In May, the ‘Scenario Development’ phase begins, and the Imagine Irving Team will evaluate future growth scenarios and strategies based on the ideas of the public workshops. These strategies will be shared with the public.

In August, Imagine Irving will update Irving’s Comprehensive Plan Chapters in the ‘Plan Development’ stage. Finally, in early 2016 the City will begin the ‘Plan Adoption and Implementation’ stage.

For more information about upcoming workshops, visit www.imagineirving.org.

Conference aims to prevent child abuse

More than 650 social workers, nurses, councilors, child protective workers, attorneys, law enforcement officers and others gathered for the 29th annual Conference on Prevention of Child Abuse at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas Feb 23-24. The two-day, interactive event was presented by Prevent Child Abuse Texas (PCAT) in cooperation with State Child Fatality Review Team Committee, Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“We’re having a two day conference primarily focusing on preventing child abuse,” said Wendell Teltow, M. Ed., Executive Director of PCAT. “We want to prevent it from ever occurring. To do that, we also have to work with the abused and the survivors. We’ve got people from schools here, people from treatment therapy programs and education service centers. We’ve got the whole gambit. We’re hoping that by providing a wide array of information to a lot of different professions we can start making a difference back in our local communities. That’s the ultimate goal.

“It doesn’t do any good if we’re one state-wide conference, and we don’t give [attendees] information that they can take back. One of the things we found out about child abuse and child abuse prevention is people want to do something about it, but they don’t know what to do. So we’re trying to give them ideas and programs they can take back to do whatever they can in their local communities to prevent child abuse from ever occurring,” Teltow said.

The conference featured a variety of keynote speakers including Harvey Karp, MD, MA, who discussed a promising strategy to calm infant crying, promote sleep, and reduce neglect and abuse; Christopher S. Greeley, MD, MS, FAAP, who discussed the impact of adversity and disparity on child health; and James M. Hmurovish, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, who delivered a lecture entitled “Start the Love Right Always”.

“Kids who have been abused, when they become parents, they’re six times more likely to abuse their own children as someone who wasn’t abused,” Teltow said. “So, we tend to see the cycle perpetuate. We also know that a lot of the kids don’t even know they’re being abused. They think all families are raised like that, be it sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect.

“We know that to make a difference in child abuse it’s going to have to be a local solution. We cannot make a difference in child abuse at the national level, state level or even county level. It has got to be the local community, neighborhood, school district or the lowest denominator that we can get. That’s where we will start making a difference. We’re preventing child abuse one child at a time. We’re not going to help 100 kids at a time,” he said.

Conference attendees participated in sixty workshops and breakout sessions that discussed many aspects of child abuse with information including immigration remedies for foreign born victims of child abuse, child abuse from the perspective of survivors, solutions for the sexually abusive youth, the roles of the medical examiner and child death review teams in “undetermined” deaths, and bullying, cybercrimes and social media.

Other breakout sessions included predicting where maltreatment will occur in the future, sex and the law, promoting child well-being through interdisciplinary collaboration, ethics in child abuse prevention, turning tragedy into opportunity, understanding the impacts of prenatal alcohol exposure, child abuse data trends, intensive therapeutic group for bilingual adolescent females who have experience sexual abuse and more.

“For me personally, when my oldest son (7) was 11 months old, he was physically abused in daycare,” said Libby Carroll, member of PCAT Board of Directors. “He was shaken and beaten. Given the state laws in Texas, his perpetrator is still free. [The person] never saw a day in court. The last I heard the individual is still working at a day care, so someone else’s child is in danger.

“For me, it’s educating the public of what goes on and what we need to do to protect our children. After everything that my son and I have been through, this conference is kind of healing by working here and educating the public,” she said.

Irving ISD celebrates excellent

Photo: Members of the Irving ISD Board of Trustees eagerly await the announcements of the award winners at the 2015 ICE Awards on Thursday, Feb. 19. / Photo by Nick Kammerer

Hundreds of students, teachers and adoring parents gathered to celebrate the annual ICE Awards at the Irving High School auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 19. The Irving Celebration of Excellence, also known as the ICE Awards, encompasses all Irving ISD schools, including elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

The ICE Awards recognize unique accomplishments by Irving ISD students, teachers and campuses in one of seven categories. The categories include Humanities, Math and Science, Fine Arts, Physical Education and Athletics, Community Service and Citizenship, Special Campus and District, and Parent Involvement activities.

Irving ISD Superintendent Jose Parra presented Perfect Attendance awards to five students including Micah Edward Cole (12 years), Eden G. Tesfaslassie (13 years), David Hoang Khoa Tran (13 years), Jerod Velasquez (13 years) and Chidimma Okwara (14 years).

For each elementary school, middle school and high school, three finalists were selected in each of the seven categories. Crystal, Silver and Bronze awards were given to the finalists in each category.

Students from Cardwell Career Preparatory Center won the Crystal Award in the Humanities category for their documentary about Teen Parenting. Out of the district’s middle schools, Travis Middle School won the Crystal Award for their Battle of the Books reading incentive. Thomas Haley Elementary also won the Crystal Award for their #socialREADia learning activity.

In the Math and Science category, Crystal Awards were given to Cardwell Career Preparatory Center for their Junior Achievement Finance Park project, Travis Middle School for their Algebra Peer Assisted Learning Sessions (PALS) and Schulze Elementary School for Family Math Night at Fiesta Supermarket.

In the Fine Arts category, Crystal Awards were given to Irving High School for their theatrical performance of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ Lamar Middle School students for their performance series at Carnegie Hall and Elliott Elementary School for their Mini Davinci’s student club.

In the Physical Education and Athletics category, Crystal Awards were given to Irving High School’s varsity volleyball team for becoming District 9-6A Champions, Bowie Middle School’s 7th grade boy’s undefeated football and track and field City Champions, and Farine Elementary Family for their Fitness Fun Night.

In the Community Service and Citizenship category, Crystal Awards were given to Irving High School’s Football team for their community service activities, Austin Middle School students for raising money and awareness for homelessness in Irving and John Haley Elementary School for their Socktober homeless project.

In the Special Campus and District category, Crystal Awards were given to Cardwell Career Preparatory Center for their ALLIANCE Student Men’s Group, Bowie Middle School for their Cubbies for Cancer Scholarship Fund and Pierce Early Childhood School for their new Outdoor Learning Classroom.

Finally, in the Parent Involvement Activities category, Crystal Awards were given to Cardwell Career Preparatory Center for their “I Dream a World” ESL Adult English class, Bowie Middle School for their Parent Involvement Center and Kinkeade Early Childhood School for their Collaborating for Success child engagement activities.

At each ICE Awards ceremony, two prestigious Golden Apple awards are presented to an individual partner in education and group partner in education.

According to Irving ISD, “The Golden Apple Award is the highest honor that the Irving ISD Board of Trustees awards a Partner in Education for outstanding contributions to Irving ISD students and schools. This distinction recognizes dedicated groups and individuals that enhance the personal and academic achievement of IISD students by providing volunteers and valuable resources.”

This year, Dr. Thomas Velma (individual partner) and NCH Corporation (group partner) received Golden
Apple Awards.

In addition to the twenty-one trophies given to ICE Award finalists, one award is presented to an overall, “best-in-show” entry for the highest score from any of the seven ICE award categories. This year the award was given to Schulze Elementary School for their family math night at Fiesta Supermarket.

Irving man celebrates 100th birthday with friends and family

Photo: Irving resident, Earl Webb, and his daughter, Peggy Filbeck, celebrate Webb’s 100th birthday party at Elm Croft Assisted Living on Sunday, Feb. 22. / Photo by Nick Kammerer

Sporting an “Aged to Perfection” ribbon, Earl Webb was all smiles while surrounded by his friends and family at his 100th birthday celebration at Elm Croft Assisted Living in Irving on Sunday, Feb. 22. Dozens of partygoers from the living facility attended the celebration enjoying cake and fellowship.

“I have a lot of family here, and I love them,” Webb said.

Webb, born on February 23, 1915 in Tennessee during Woodrow Wilson’s administration, spent much of his time at his father’s sawmill until the age of six. During his youth, Webb enjoyed playing baseball. His baseball uniform was laid out on a table for guests to admire during his birthday celebration.

After high school, Webb began working as a barber. During World War II, he moved to Los Angeles, Calif. and started his career with Lockheed Martin in the aircraft industry. Eventually, he was transferred to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Dallas. He completed his career with Southwest Airmotive.

“I figured he would out live us all, because he’s always done so well,” said Webb’s daughter, Peggy Filbeck. “It’s really neat having him all of this time. He’s pretty sharp. We’ve always loved Irving. It’s been our home.”

Valley Ranch goes back in time with Vintage Vegas Night

Photo: Residents of Valley Ranch test their luck at the annual Vintage Vegas casino night at the Omni Mandalay Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 21. / Photo by Nick Kammerer

Dozens of dinner guests joined the Valley Ranch Association for the third annual Vintage Vegas Night at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas on Saturday, Feb. 21. The 1950’s-themed community appreciation event featured a live band, delicious food and a variety of casino games.

“Tonight is about celebrating the Valley Ranch residents,” said LaWanda Brannon, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Valley Ranch Master Association. “This is a Vegas style casino night.

“This year, a new element we added was a live band [Ricki Derek Band]. They’re performing 1950’s style music. The other thing we’ve added to enhance the vintage theme is showgirls. They added to the atmosphere. We have roulette, poker and blackjack. We also have a variety of really tasty food for the guests to enjoy. The chocolate fountain is a big deal that people enjoy,” she said.

Brannon encourages residents to explore Valley Ranch.

“With Valley Ranch, I would encourage people to stay connected with us [through social media]. Check out all of our offerings, because we are a community that is trying to bring an experience to our residents and celebrate them,” Brannon said.

Dinner guest, Charlotte Ann Moore, shared her excitement about the casino event.

“I love it. It’s very well organized with the food and music. Everything is fabulous,” Moore said. “The give-a-ways and prizes are amazing. I’m very happy to be here. My favorite part of the night is the community itself.

“There are so many nice people here who have clearly come together because they love this community. I think that Valley Ranch is one of the premier places in Dallas-Fort Worth to live. It’s great to see people who are so proud of their community come here to celebrate tonight,” she said.

IBFA celebrates commitment to youth football

Irving Boys Football Association (IBFA) players, parents and coaches gathered for a spaghetti dinner and awards celebration at the Senter East Building on Sunday, Feb. 22.

“We reward our players who have longevity with us,” said Kristopher Vinson, President of the IBFA. “When they reach a five-year mark with us, they have an option to receive a free jacket from the league. Some kids wait until their sixth year, or their last year, to get the [jacket]. We’re also recognizing our coaches that volunteer all of their time. They’re the people who make this thing work. We’re giving them appreciation placards.”

Senior IBFA player, 13-year-old Blake Burris, was recognized for participating in the IBFA program for eight years.

“Getting to hangout with all my friends and learning the game of football was a nice experience over the years,” Burris said. “It gives you something to do. It’s great to just have fun and to learn teamwork and life skills.”

Thirty-six year IBFA coach, Bob Haney, discussed the purpose of the IBFA.

“We keep our kids involved in sports,” Haney said. “We teach them to get high on sports instead of drugs, and we try to keep them out of gangs and mischief that they can get into by occupying their time in youth sports. That’s the whole purpose of the IBFA.

“It’s been a privilege for me to be able to coach all of these kids and to meet all of the different people I’ve met since I’ve been in this league. It’s been a great experience for me to work with the kids, and I’ve been blessed that the parents allow us to work with their kids,” Haney said.

Vinson shared a message to future parents and players of the IBFA league.

“The thing I tell my parents who are on my teams is that if you’re bringing your kids out here to create the next NFL superstar, that’s the wrong reason,” Vinson said. “I personally feel that football echoes life lessons better than any other sport. These boys learn that hard work pays off. These boys learn that everyone has a purpose. They get some rough housing out of the way in a controlled environment.

“The bottom line is that we’re not raising NFL players, but all of these boys will probably grow up and be leaders of their own families. We’re trying to make good, young men of them,” he said.