Category Archives: Home & Health

Flying high at 100 years old

Patrice Howe, a bridge club buddy of Jane Lipscomb, was tasked with interviewing Jane a week before her 100th birthday. She wanted to find out more about Jane’s storied life and what the 100-year-old firecracker, as her friends call her, still hopes to accomplish.

“The last question I asked during the interview was out of all the adventures you’ve had in your life, what’s the one thing still on your bucket list,” Patrice said.

Jane, a former theater actor, opera singer, and “Debutante,” had a quick response: ride in a hot air balloon. So a group from Jane’s bridge club, led by Patrice and Nancy Cogburn, worked to surprise their friend and her son, Lloyd Lipscomb, at her upcoming birthday party.

Patrice called Brian Rohr of Rohr Balloons, a family-owned hot air balloon business in North Texas, and on Wednesday, July 12, Jane took to the sky in a hot air balloon.

With a rose-embroidered hat that she was quick to show off, Jane and her son took off from Allen on a trip she called once in a lifetime. 

Jane grew up on a ranch in Amarillo where she learned to drive at the age of eight. She received a degree in music education in 1937 from SCW (Texas State College for Women), a precursor to today’s Texas Woman’s University in Denton. After one year of teaching, she joined the Amarillo Little Theater, where she performed, helped build sets, and worked in the ticket booth.

Afterward, she pursued a master’s degree at Columbia University in New York to study voice. She auditioned for a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera on Broadway and joined the show’s chorus.

During that time, she also joined a group of six female singers called “Debutantes.” The group toured across the Unites States and Canada at state fairs, hotels, and variety clubs.

One night while her company left a show in Washington, D.C. bound for the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, their train stopped in Tennessee and a man came on board and yelled, “We are at war!” It was December 7, 1941. 

Eventually fired because she could not hit the high “C” in a performance, Jane returned to Dallas and married her good friend, Joe Lipscomb. Joe had just graduated as part of the first class from Southwestern Medical School and later became an M.D. and Lieutenant in the US Army. He spent the war years as a ship’s doctor and captain.

While Joe was finishing school, Jane worked for Delta Airlines at Love Field. Later, the couple adopted two children, Lloyd and Laura. Adopting her two children, Jane admits, was the happiest moment of her life.

Jane’s 100th birthday party, hosted on Friday, June 30, at Via Real Restaurant, included her immediate family and bridge club partners. Honored to host the special occasion, the restaurant’s manager presented Jane with a card that gives her a free meal at the business for the rest of her life.

During the celebration, a group of Jane’s bridge club friends, including Patrice and Nancy, presented Jane with framed pictures as well as proclamations from the city of Irving declaring June 30 “Jane Lipscomb Day” as well as a congratulatory letter from U.S. Senator from Texas, John Cornyn.

Jane’s son Lloyd did not originally sign up for the ride. Patrice volunteered him in front of everyone in attendance during the birthday celebration.

“I handed the picture of the hot air balloon to Jane along with, ‘I’m not going with you, your son is,’” Patrice said. “I knew she would want to be with her child.” She said Jane cackled with excited upon receiving the gift.

After the ride, Lloyd was all smiles.

“It was magical, it was heavenly,” he said. “It was beyond what I expected. She stood up the whole time until we started coming in for the landing.”

Rohr Balloons began operations in 1994. Brian Rohr, a commercial pilot, has been flying since the age of six and his company has eight hot air balloons of various sizes. Rohr’s team said they recently flew a woman who was 101 years old.

When asked what would be her next adventure, Jane reflected for a minute before settling on a ride in an airboat across a swamp. For now, she says, she wants to concentrate on the hot air balloon.

“I’m going to get up in that balloon,” she said. “That’s enough for today.”

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

Great Days of Service lends helping hand to homeowners

Not even heavy rain on Friday, March 24 could stop the Great Days of Service’s over 150 volunteers working throughout the Irving community to help restore homes.

Great Days of Service is a two-week event that entails cleaning up and restoring 29 homes. The event will conclude on April 2.

“The goal is to help these homeowners and make them feel better about themselves and improve their home,” Operations Coordinator Eddie Shaw said. “It’s really more than just the home. It’s about how they feel as an individual and how they feel better about themselves because their house is cleaner and their neighbors won’t look down on them as much. It’s about that self-esteem. That’s the real goal and benefit.

“More than helping someone is bringing faith organizations and non-faith organizations and participants together, because it’s people helping people. There may be differences in core philosophies and outskirts of philosophies and beliefs, but those differences tend to be minute.”

Great Days of Service has been around since 2002 helping those in the community in need once a year, around the Easter Holidays. 

“We find out about the homeowners through neighbors, the churches that are involved, their members, relatives and the city code enforcement,” Chairman of Great Days of Service Andi Schellenberg said. “Different churches have been the host. This year’s host is Plymouth Park United Methodist. Some of the same people such as myself have been involved from the very beginning. We get to meet different home owners and volunteers that we wouldn’t know if we weren’t involved with this project. We work in different areas of the city. This year and in the past year, the zip code 75060 had the most homes that we served and repaired.”

The service program receives contributions from over 30 businesses with additional businesses providing discounts on supplies.

“A lot of the projects include the houses being painted and also some work being done inside,” Schellenberg said. “Some work will be done inside; however, a majority of the work will be done outside.

“Something new this year is that we provide smoke detectors and install them for the home owners. We give them information about fires and how to escape and what you do in case of a tornado.

“We are a faith-based organization. We believe that by helping people in need, we’re serving God and bringing hope, care, and blessing to the homeowners because we are called to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’” he said.

Celebrate National Arbor Day with free shade trees

National Arbor Day is Friday, April 28, and the Arbor Day Foundation is making it easy for anyone to celebrate the annual tree-planting holiday. Join the Foundation in April and receive 10 free shade trees.

By joining the Foundation in April, new members receive the following trees: red oak, sugar maple, weeping willow, baldcypress, thornless honeylocust, pin oak, river birch, tuliptree, silver maple, and red maple.

The free trees are part of the Foundation’s Trees for America campaign.

“These trees provide shade in the summer and vibrant colors throughout the fall,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Through the simple act of planting trees, one person can make a difference in helping to create a healthier and more beautiful planet for all of us to enjoy.”

The trees will be shipped postpaid with enclosed planting instructions at the right time for planting in April or May. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge.

To become a member of the Foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE SHADE TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by April 30, 2017, or visit 


SOURCE Arbor Day Foundation

Chocolate and Chic Luncheon supports domestic violence victims

Photo: David Pfaff, Irving Cares CEO Teddie Story, and Irving council member Kyle Taylor attend a luncheon to raise money for Brighter Tomorrows. /Photo by Ariel Graham

An afternoon of auctions and awareness benefited domestic violence victims during the Chocolate and Chic luncheon hosted on Wednesday, March 29.

The 21st annual luncheon, held at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, raised funds for Brighter Tomorrows, an organization that provides care and emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The event originally began as a fashion show, but this year over 200 items were bid upon during the silent auction, along with several big-ticket items in the live auction, including a day of SWAT training and a day of sniper training with local police.

Among their 24-hour crisis hotline and women’s shelters in Grand Prairie and Irving, Brighter Tomorrows operates transitional housing, a counseling center in Irving, and thrift stores in both Grand Prairie and DeSoto.

“We really are the “connect the dots” kind of agency,” Diana Franzetti, CEO of Brighter Tomorrows, said. “We can connect our clients, whether they’re in the shelter or transitional housing, with legal proceedings, medical, any of the entitlement or social benefits that they might need, and especially finding permanent safe housing and getting the kids enrolled in school. We help them with all of that and give them all of those resources, so they can become independent and have a permanent, safe living environment.”

Ronnie Low, the luncheon’s keynote speaker, shared his own story of domestic violence, parental abuse, and the tragic death of his sister at the hands of an abusive husband.

“It happened in my home,” Low said. “It happens in homes in your community. I tried being very, very good. I tried being very, very bad. It made no difference, because I finally realized, it’s not about me.

“It’s not about who I am or what I did or what I didn’t do. It was about him, and it was about who he was, and it was about the way he viewed things, and I could not change any of those things,” he said.

The event serves as a means to raise not only funds, but also awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault. Tina Strand, president of Brighter Tomorrows, said violence against women is becoming more and more commonplace, and that women need to know where to turn for help.

“We’re hearing more and more about domestic violence,” Strand said. “It’s more prevalent than ever; people are talking about it more. I think it’s important for women and men to know that there are resources out there that can help them, because the statistics show that a woman will leave [a relationship] seven times before staying gone for good. They need to know that every time they go back, the violence gets worse, and they need to know that there are alternatives and a healthier way of living.”

“Today, over one-third of all women experience violence against them by an intimate partner, and we need to do something about it,” said Dr. Beverly Black, a professor at University of Texas at Arlington and member of the Board of Directors for Brighter Tomorrows. “A lot of people don’t understand violence against women. They don’t understand family violence. It’s important for people to support efforts to fund not only the interventions to help women that have experienced it, but also the prevention so that we don’t have to have events like this in the future.”

CEO Diana Franzetti also stressed the importance of awareness, especially for the victims themselves.

“We believe that any domestic violence victims who are out there, as long as they know there’s help, they very much have an advantage to taking care of themselves and their children,” Franzetti said. “But we’ve found that the people who don’t know about the help they can get, whether it’s from Brighter Tomorrows or any other domestic violence agency, are at very high risk of terrible injury or possibly even death if they can’t get away from their abuser.”

Thanks to events like Chocolate and Chic, organizations like Brighter Tomorrows receive not just the funding they need, but the awareness that makes them invaluable to victims of violence.

“It’s just a wonderful way to gather community support and continue to raise awareness of what we need to do to help these victims who have turned into survivors,” Franzetti said.

Great Hearts student competes on “Chopped Junior”

Great Hearts Irving’s 7th grade student, Yashica Nabar, was a contestant on the nationally syndicated show “Chopped Junior”. The episode aired on the Food Network on Wednesday, March 1. During the show, four young contestants are given a surprise basket of ingredients to prepare an appetizer, entree and dessert for celebrity judges. The judges critique every plate, and one chef is eliminated after each round.

Yashica’s love of cooking began at just six years old when she started helping out in her family’s kitchen. She enjoyed everything from mixing to stirring and eventually started grilling and baking up delicious dishes for her family. She loves to make a variety of fusion dishes that combine her favorite Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and traditional American foods. But her all-time favorite dish is making crunchy and flavorful Hawaiian tacos.

Her time and talent in the kitchen inspired her to apply and audition to be on “Chopped Junior”. Every year, thousands of hopefuls apply to be on this show, so they must have been pretty impressed when they saw Yashica’s audition tape. During the nearly five-month audition process, Yashica was interviewed by a casting producer, culinary specialists and production marketing managers, and tested on her verbal and culinary communication skills. Her portion of the show was taped in two different studios in Manhattan, NY.

The outcome of Yashica’s episode revealed that she was “chopped” that is, eliminated after the appetizer round, but considering she beat out hundreds of young culinary masterminds who applied to compete, in our opinion she’s already a winner.


SOURCE Great Hearts

Party releases more than 100,000 ladybugs

Photo: Students from Dana’s Dance Academy perform maypole dances dressed as ladybugs at Saddlehorn Park. / Photo by Ariel Graham

Tens of thousands of ladybugs took flight during the 14th Annual Ladybug Release Party hosted at Saddlehorn Park in Valley Ranch on Saturday, March 25.

Dozens of families filled the small park, many of them decked out in red and black dots of their own. Events for the kids enlivened the park, such as a scavenger hunt, craft stations, costume contests, bounce houses and a cake walk. But the main event was the ladybug release at noon. Volunteers set out hundreds of cartons filled with ladybugs around the park, then stepped back as the kids gathered around the cartons catching ladybugs in their homemade terrariums, as well as on their clothes, hair and their parents.

“What we’re doing here is releasing over 100,000 ladybugs for all the kids to capture and enjoy and take home to their gardens,” LaWanda Brannon, lifestyle director for Valley Ranch, said. “We chose such a large volume because, first of all, they’re so small, and we just wanted to make sure we’ve got enough for everyone to have a chance to enjoy them.”

In addition to all the various activities, this year’s party also welcomed a new addition. Young girls from the Academy Dancers Youth Ensemble at Dana’s Dance Academy dressed up like ladybugs and performed maypole dances throughout the day.

As Jodi West, one of the instructors from Dana’s Dance Academy watched her girls dance in the park, she stressed the importance of getting kids back in touch with nature.

“I feel that nature is such a big part of our lives,” West said. ”We’ve slowly been getting kind of away from it. I think it’s important to get the kids interested in nature more than the screen, so they can really learn about the world around them.”

The biggest benefit of having ladybugs in a garden is pest control. Nancy Payne of Habitat Landscapes, and also chairman of The Green Club in Valley Ranch, explained how ladybugs help keep tiny pests out of the garden.

“Ladybugs are the biggest carnivores in our garden,” Payne said. “They eat other insects, and their favorite insect to eat is the aphid. Ladybugs are basically free, organic insect control.”

Aphids in particular are very damaging to plants as they will suck the sap out of them and can oftentimes transmit diseases to the plants they eat. Ladybugs and their larva act as an eco-friendly solution to harmful chemicals and sprays for getting rid of these aphids.

Payne added that events such as the Ladybug Release Party are vital for teaching children the importance of how nature works, as well as providing a practical example of the food chain.

“I think everybody needs to understand ecology and the food chain,” Payne said. “When we humans interfere with the food chain, which we do by killing insects, we’re in essence killing animals that live higher on the food chain.”

Swati Ahearwal, a homemaker from Irving, agrees it is important to teach kids how to take care of not just ladybugs, but other insects and animals from an early age.

“If [children] learn at a younger age, they’ll know how to take care of nature, what plants to plant and what to put in the garden, and how to do the right thing in the future,” Ahearwal said.

Spring Break/St. Patrick’s Day weekend DWI No-Refusal results

The Irving Police Department conducted Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) No-Refusal operations over the Spring Break/St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend. The operations took place on the nights of Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18, by means of a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.

During No-Refusal operations, those arrested for DWI are offered only a blood test to determine their blood alcohol concentration. A search warrant, authorizing a blood draw, was sought for anyone refusing consent to a blood test.

A total of 14 DWI arrests were made and 64 citations issued by officers working grant funded positions over the holiday weekend. Of those 14 arrests only 2 required search warrants to obtain blood samples. Additionally, officers made 3 arrests for offenses other than DWI.

The Irving Police Department will continue to participate in these grant-funded operations as they have shown continued success in Irving and across the state.


SOURCE Irving Police Department

Scientists, technicians from across globe attend Proton User Meeting

Two hundred of the top cancer clinicians and therapists gathered from 20 different countries and four continents for the annual IBA Proteus Users Meeting presented at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy on March 19-20.

“It’s wonderful and beautiful,” Medical Director of Willis-Knighton Cancer Center in Shreveport, La., Dr. Lane Rosen, said. “I don’t think they have spared any expenses. I’m sitting here just looking around the facility. It’s just very high end. I think they did a very wonderful job trying to make it not only aesthetically pleasing, but calming, and I’m very impressed by it.”

IBA is the world’s leading provider of proton therapy solutions. The Willis-Knighton Cancer Center in Shreveport and Texas Center for Proton Therapy in Dallas worked together to host the event.

“Today is the IBA user meeting, which is a proton equipment vendor who manufactures more proton equipment than any vendor in the world,” Director Gary Barlow said. “There are 25 proton centers operating in the United States today. Over two thirds of them are IBA vendor proton centers, so all of the engineers and all of the sales people and scientists will be here today to see this proton center. We have IBA equipment, and they are looking at it from a clinical perspective.

“The meeting is also a collaborative meeting where they bring together all the proton centers in not only the United States, but all over the world. They also come and share collaborative data on how to use proton therapy to eradicate cancer without damaging normal healthy tissue.”

The event gave those in attendance a chance to learn about how the Texas Center for Proton Therapy operates.

“I have visited almost 30 proton centers in my career along with the Texas Proton Center here in Irving,” Rosen said. “Together Dallas and Shreveport hosted the IBA International Users Meeting. We have actually been in Shreveport for the last two days where we had a big Cajun and creole party with a zydeco band and crawfish and a bar all out of a plantation home. Then we had the pleasure of coming to see this beautiful facility to learn about the physicians here in Dallas doing really great work with proton therapy as well.”

This year was the first time that the Proton Users Meeting was hosted at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy as the event alternates between Europe, Asia and the United States annually.

“There were roughly 125 guests here today,” Barlow said. “When they came in, we divided them into five groups so they could see the different areas of this 60,000 square foot world class cancer facility. They got a chance to see the various areas imaging, treatment planning and go to treatment delivery and spend about two hours with us. They also heard from our medical director Dr. Andrew Lee who talked to each group for 15 minutes about the future of proton therapy and where it is going in regards to being able to treat more cancers without side effects and without compromising the patient’s quality of life.

“In a nutshell that’s what proton therapy does. [It provides] hope for more cancer survivors to be cured from their disease without side effects and compromising their quality of life.”

Don Williams a representative of the Irving Chamber of Commerce who strategically partnered with Barlow and the IBA to bring the Texas Center for Proton Therapy to the North Texas region is a cancer survivor. He feels that the center is an asset for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

“I’m an accountant by trade, not a scientist, but I do know from being around them that this technology will zero in on the tumor itself and not damage the other parts of the body, which is very critical to patients,” Williams said. “Patients coming from out of town will stay in extended stay hotels and after their treatment they will want to know where the golf courses are, the malls so they can go shopping and all of that, so you don’t have the typical sickness that you would have from radiation and traditional cancer treatments. It’s a true asset for North Texas, and for the residents in Irving it’s just unbelievable, a tremendous asset.”

Texas legislators file ‘Granny Tax’ bill to fill state budget hole

Austin,Texas — Texas legislators Senator Chuy Hinojosa and Representative J.D. Sheffield have filed legislation to tax nursing home residents paying for their own care. Known as the Granny Tax, Senate Bill 1130 and House Bill 2766 would generate state revenue by taxing elderly residents of nursing homes. Nursing home residents would each carry a tax bill of over $4,000 per year. The bill would tax 30,000 nursing home residents a total of over $120 million dollars.

“The legislation balances the state budget on the backs of elderly veterans, retired teachers, and other Texans paying for their own nursing home expenses,” said George Linial, President of LeadingAge Texas, the association representing non-profit nursing homes.

C.C. Young, a faith-based retirement community in Dallas, would see residents hit hard by the tax. Russell Crews, President & CEO, sees the legislation as an unacceptable route to generate state revenue.

“We are asking the generation that has already sacrificed so much to now pay a significant and unfair tax,” Young said. “We hope legislators make the right choice and find quality of care solutions that are paid for by all Texans, not just those that are sick and aging.”

In San Antonio, Air Force and Army veterans would be forced to pay the Granny Tax. Retired Air Force Lt. General, Chip Utterback, is now on a mission to defend retired veterans from the scope of this tax.

“This is not the way to fill a hole in the state budget,” Utterback said. “This tax will put much needed care out of reach for many of our vets.”

Many of the nation’s largest for-profit nursing home chains are pushing the tax to improve Medicaid funding. However, a recent report by AARP indicates that Texas nursing home quality is among the worst in the nation.

“This tax simply throws money at a problem without linking funding to quality. It’s unfortunate that care for those paying their own way might now be jeopardized,” Utterback said.

Rather than taxing elderly residents of nursing homes, LeadingAge Texas supports tying state funding to quality of care.

“As Texans, we pride ourselves in minimizing the number of taxes on our citizens and a granny tax seems inconsistent with that sentiment,” Linial said. The Texas Legislature is almost mid-way through its legislative session, as bills continue to wind their way through the legislative maze.

SOURCE LeadingAge Texas