Category Archives: Community Events

Community celebrates opening of Fire Station 12

Irving’s leaders, fire chiefs, and several residents came together to celebrate the grand opening of a new fire station on Thursday, Aug. 10.

Fire Station 12, located off Interstate 635 between Belt Line Road and Olympus Boulevard, will serve the communities of Hackberry Creek, Valley Ranch, and La Villita.

“The grand opening was a celebration of a long time vision,” said Irving Fire Chief Victor Conley. “We’ve got a council and a city management staff that saw the vision become a reality because of all the growth up here in North Irving.”

Construction started in the spring of 2016. This past July, the Joint Fire Training Facility was opened, which is shared with the City of Grand Prairie. The training facility, along with the brand new fire station, have helped Irving receive the Insurance Services Office class 1 rating.

“It’s a win-win for the community and the fire department,” Conley said. “We achieved the ISO 1 rating. For the fire department, all that means is more resources to better serve our community. What the community got was an insurance break.”

A study performed through an international fire organization projected the need for a station in North Irving. The station needed to meet compliance with the national emergency response time, which for a fire-related medical emergency is four minutes and eight minutes.

City councilman Brad LaMorgese said 80 percent of the city was within that eight minute response time, the 20 percent in the north was not.

“Even though our firefighters do a great job and many times could meet that response time, we now know we’re going to be within that response time,” LaMorgese said. “I’ve come to learn from the firefighters that every minute is critical when you’re trying to keep a piece of property from going up in flames and keep people safe.”

Those who attended the grand opening had the opportunity to tour the facility and explore the new fire trucks. The fire station will house an aerial Tiller truck, a fire engine and an ambulance. The Tiller truck is a new concept for Irving that allow firefighters to turn sharp corners to better reach tight areas.

“Each one of these pieces of equipment cost around $1 million or over, so it’s an expensive piece of our budget, but definitely worth it,” LaMorgese said. “Public safety is a vast majority of our budget. Sometimes spending is frowned upon. I want to spend the money wisely and be very responsible with it.”

In order to welcome the new equipment, firefighters and guests participated in the Fire Apparatus Wash Down/Push Back. The new equipment was christened with water before being pushed into the station. The tradition dates back to when horse-drawn fire wagons were used.

“It’s a symbolic tradition we do when we open up a new station,” Conley said. “It signifies that we got new equipment, we’re taking care of it for the community, and it’s ready to respond.”

A ten man crew will be on shift every day, 24 hours a day, including four on the aerial truck, four on the engine truck and two on the ambulance. Many of the crew members worked on cleaning the facility to get it ready weeks before the opening.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said State 12 Fire Captain Darrell Hall. “It’s been a lot of work, it’s been well worth it, and it’s actually kind of a relief for all the guys to actually have a home again. I’m happy that it’s done. The city has really stepped up and given us something that we think is going to serve the city and citizens for a long time.

KIB recognizes individuals, businesses

Over a dozen Irving citizens and businesses were recognized for their efforts in helping beautify the city during the 2017 Mayor and Keep Irving Beautiful Awards reception hosted at First Baptist Church of Irving on Monday, Aug. 7.

Keep Irving Beautiful (KIB) is a non-profit program dedicated to educating the citizens of Irving on litter abatement, recycling and beautification to make the city a cleaner, greener place to live. Every year, KIB partners with Irving’s mayor to hold an awards banquet to honor both individuals and organizations who went above and beyond in their efforts, either through volunteer work, corporate sponsorship, or contribution to the community.

Principal Kelly Giddens of Barton Elementary School received the Educator Award. Nominated for her commitment to both her school and the environment, Giddens led her students in trash pickup and recycling efforts. In 2016, Barton Elementary was named the top paper recycler in the district, recycling over 86,000 pounds of paper on campus, or nearly 100 pounds per student.

“It’s a great honor, but I feel like I can’t accept it just for myself,” Giddens said. “This is the doing of my students. We have 800 students at Barton Elementary and they are all very environmentally conscious. We have a Green Team that’s been in place for many, many years. Last year when they recycled so much paper, I knew then, immediately, these kids are invested in not just Irving, but Earth. It’s exciting to see kids so young want to be involved.

“I wish other communities did the work that happens here with Keep Irving Beautiful. It’s vital because we all know that resources are limited. We know that unless we take care of each other, we take care of the environment and our city, it won’t be what the people who came before us worked so hard to create. Everybody’s got to be involved and do their part to make things wonderful for the generations to come.”

Brandon Morton, an adjunct professor of biology and sustainability coordinator from North Lake College, also received the Educator Award. During his time at the University of North Texas, he served on the President’s Sustainability Council and co-authored a wind turbine project for the nation’s first Platinum LEED certified football stadium. Today, he promotes a number of green, eco-friendly initiatives on the campus of North Lake College.

“It’s really heartening to be surrounded by peers and the community that also care about keeping Irving beautiful,” Morton said. “I think one of the big successes with KIB is that they work cross-sector. They’re working with non-profits, schools, churches, businesses, chambers, colleges. It’s really all over the spectrum. It’s one of the cornerstones of the organization.”

KIB itself also received recognition earlier this year, earning the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) President’s Circle National Award as well as the Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) Gold Star State Award. These are the highest honors KAB and KTB can award an organization.

The committees also recognized City of Irving Code Enforcement. KAB named the department 1st place in Overall Community Improvement, and KTB named them 2nd place in the Government Program Category.

“It makes me really proud of all of my team members, both the KIB group and the code officers that are out there in the trenches every single day doing what they do,” Code Enforcement Director Teresa Adrian said. “It can be considered a thankless job sometimes, but they don’t look at it that way. We really appreciate the partnership we have with our citizens and the ability to go out there and hopefully improve the quality of life for folks in our city.

“Everybody has a goal of making Irving more beautiful. Regardless of how they’re going about doing it, it really is a joint effort and a shared vision for Irving.”

Additional winners are as follows:
Boy Scout Troop 508 – Youth Leadership Award
Baptist Benevolent Ministries of Irving – Faith Group Award
FASTSIGNS Irving/Las Colinas – Business and Industry Award
Verizon – Business and Industry Award
Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce – Media Award
DFW Humane Society – Civic Organization Award
City of Irving Water Utilities Department – Green Government Award
Detective John Shingle – Civil Servant Award
Barry Allen – KIB Hometown Award
Councilman David Palmer – KIB Hometown Award
Shareen Altum – Lifetime Achievement Award.

Irving police teach women’s self-defense

Irving police officers taught women how to fight back against would-be attackers during the Girls Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Camp held Monday, Aug. 7 through Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Irving Police and Fire Training Academy.

During the free four-day course, women of all ages learned how to defend themselves and their loved ones from attacks. The RAD system is a comprehensive, women-only course that focuses on awareness, prevention, and risk avoidance while incorporating self-defense techniques like strikes and escaping holds.

Counselors were also available to talk to the women about what to do if they or someone they love are assaulted as well as steps they should take to protect themselves.

“The techniques are designed to complement a woman in the way she would naturally fight,” Officer Jill Smith said.

“Not every technique will work for every person, regardless of age or size. But we teach many different types of techniques so that somebody’s going to find something or several things that will work for them.”

Smith emphasized that giving women a variety of techniques to choose from not only allows them to pick and choose what works best for them, but more importantly gives them options other than panicking when confronted by an attacker.

“What we do is we give people options,” Smith said. “There are no guarantees, that’s what we tell everyone, and we tell the girls this as well. But we give you tools for your physical and mental toolbox. If you’re ever in a situation where you have to use something, you’re going to have a lot of options instead of just panicking and screaming.”

This summer course saw primarily younger girls from tween to teenagers. Helen Granello, an 11th-grader at Lancaster High School, was one of the attendees. She was surprised to see such a young group, but was also very pleased that young people were learning how to defend themselves.

“Whenever I first came in, I saw 10-year-olds and I thought that was a really good thing,” Granello said. “It’s good to teach your children this, because [predators] are trying to get them younger and younger. I think it’s a really good skill to learn, especially nowadays.”
Although this course was mostly attended by younger girls, Smith says women of all ages can attend this course and that many come back to the course to refine their skills even further.

“We get a lot of people who will come back for practice and train throughout the year with us,” Smith said. “They get better and better. They build a lot of confidence, and the more they do it, the easier it gets for them.”

In fact, Smith encourages participants to come back and take the course again as many times as they need to feel confident in the techniques.

“We don’t want to instill a false sense of security in anyone. Every time you practice this, every time you do it, you’ll gain more ground. You’ll get better at it, and that’s what it takes to be able to succeed in defending yourself,” she said.

According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation, last year there were over 2,500 reported cases of sexual assault in North Texas alone, with 87 percent of the victims being women. Smith said women need to take steps to protect themselves and to prevent becoming just another statistic.

“There’s not always somebody that you can go to for help,” Smith said. “Sometimes it is going to take the police a little bit of time to get there if you need help from us. I want to be there for you all the time, but it’s not always possible. There’s plenty of time in life when we’re alone in our house or apartment, or alone walking around the mall parking lot, anything like that. It’s important that you learn how to take care of yourself in different situations, and that’s what is great about this program.”

The next round of RAD classes starts Oct. 9 and runs through Oct. 12 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sign-ups will be available on the City of Irving website in September. Those interested may also contact Officer Smith at

Mark your calendar!

Back-to-School Nights
August 15-18

Each campus in the district will host a back-to-school event that will give families and students the opportunity to meet teachers, drop off school supplies and become familiar with the school. In addition, those who have not completed all steps of the registration process can do so at these events. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, August 15 – high schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Wednesday, August 16 – middle schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, August 17 – elementary schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday, August 18 – early childhood schools, 2 to 4 p.m.

School Supply Drive
August 18, 6 – 7:30 p.m. 

First Baptist Church in Irving (403 S. Main Street) will be having a School Supply Drive to help provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Parents of Kindergarten – 5th grade students may pick up a free package of school supplies, while supplies last. 

Educational scholarships awarded to children of Irving Police Department

Fran Mathers of Via Reál Restaurant awarded collegiate scholarships from the Pat Mathers Scholarship Foundation to six extraordinary children of Irving Police officers On Wednesday, July 19. The foundation awarded a total of $34,000 in tuition scholarships for the 2017‐2018 academic year to Michaela Braly, Makayla Moore, Mikayla Burres, Connor Vincent, McKenna LeCroy, and Tori Zettle.

The selection of scholarship winners comes from an applicant pool of children from Irving Police officers and civilian employees. They are all college bound or current college students who excel in academics, community service, extracurricular activities, and who exhibit “above and beyond” ambitions to reach their goals. 

The mission of the Pat Mathers Scholarship Foundation is to help further the education of the children of Irving Police Officers and to ease the financial burden on their parents. Funding is raised at Via Reál’s Pat Mathers Scholarship Foundation Fundraiser which takes place once a year at the local restaurant. This year’s upcoming fundraiser is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2017.  

The University of Dallas will match Pat Mathers Scholarship Foundation scholarships for students enrolled in the University of Dallas. 

Fran Mathers, owner of Via Reál Restaurant, began the foundation in 2007 in memory of her late husband, James Patrick Mathers, who was a great supporter of the Irving Police Department.

SOURCE Pat Mathers Scholarship Foundation

One Act Play inspires youngsters to perform

The Irving Park’s Recreation Centers continued a time honored tradition by inviting friends and family members to attend the 53rd annual One Act Play Competition, which was presented at the MacArthur High School auditorium on Friday evening, July 21.

During the event, young actors and actresses from six recreations centers performed on stage in front of an audience while demonstrating their acting, singing, and dancing abilities. Students from the ages of seven to seventeen practiced twice a week during the summer and prepared plays encompassing a variety of genres, from fantasy to drama to Dr. Seuss.

Karlie Ulloa acted in “Daisy-Head Mayzie” produced by Lee Park Recreation Center.

“We practiced an hour and a half for twice a week,” Ulloa said. “There are also a lot of kids, so it’s really fun to interact with them. When you think about it, it’s like a big family with all of the cast and directors included.”

The five judges scored each performance on presentation, delivery of lines and clarity of story, correct speed and length, and originality.

The 2017 One Act Play Competition winners are as follows:

Best Play – Snow White Lite by Northwest Park Recreation Center

Runner-Up Best Play – Bonding by Senter Park Recreation Center

Best Actor – Silas Whitworth from Senter Park Recreation Center, Play: Bonding

Runner-Up Best Actor – Vgom Jain from Mustang Park Recreation Center, Play:  When Two Superhero Universes Collide

Best Actress – Regina Lubbers-Reyes from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite

Runner-Up Best Actress – Helja Estrado from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite

Honorable Mentions:
Danielle Jackson from Georgia Farrow Recreation Center, Play: Guest in the Barracks

Angel Franco from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite.

Summer Games provide friendly competition


The tennis courts at Irving High School were filled with children early Monday morning, July 24, to kick off the first week of the annual City of Irving Parks and Recreation Summer Games. The two week competition features a variety of challenges including softball, chess and dodgeball for people ages 11-17. Challengers are separated into two groups: youths (11-14) and teens (15-17). The top three winners from each age group receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal.

“Some kids will start to collect medals for every event they’re in, and they wear them all week long for whichever event they won,” Della Jones, a Senior Recreation Specialist at Lee Park Recreation Center said. “We really want the kids to communicate and socialize with other kids, but the main thing is to keep them very active in the summer and to keep them coming to the rec center. Once they get to a certain age, they think they’re too old for the rec center, and we want to make sure they keep coming back to us.”

All seven recreational centers in Irving were represented, as participants began training at the beginning of the summer for each game they signed up for.

“We practiced every week from 4-5 and 5-6,” Joshua Buckett, a Lee Park participant, said. “We practiced everything that we play in the summer games like volleyball, basketball, and dodgeball during the week. The summer games are a lot of fun, and the practice really helps prepare you for the actual tournament.”

Buckett has participated in the summer games for the past three years and has won medals in dodgeball, football and volleyball. This year, Buckett decided to try a new sport.

“This is my first year playing tennis. I didn’t know I was going to be this good,” Buckett said. “I wanted to try something new just to compete with other kids, and it sounded like fun.”

Day one of the summer games began with a tennis tournament with over 20 participants. Each player was guaranteed two rounds of play.

“We did not expect this many kids for tennis,” Jones said. “This is the biggest turnout we’ve had and have a lot of kids return each year. Some of the teens, once they get to a certain age, start working so they can’t participate and play like they used to. It’s mostly youths who are returning players.”

The games continued with dominoes and chess in the afternoon at Lively Pointe.

Mustang participant Tharun Sobanbabu (13) was one of the few tennis players that went on to pla chess. 

“I liked tennis because it was more active,” Sobanbabu said. “It was also the hardest, because there wasn’t a lot of competition for chess like there was for tennis.

“I don’t really like just staying at home. I wanted to do something with my summer and I like sports. I’m good at sports, so I wanted to do the summer games.”

Sobanbabu placed second in youth tennis and first in chess. He is signed up to participate in every single sporting event except dominoes.

“It was a lot of fun because everyone got together to play sports, and there was a lot of good people showing good sportsmanship,” Sobanbabu said. “I would love to come and play again next year.”

“Tea with the Sheriff” discusses Dallas County Sheriff Department programs

Officer Paul Lehmann with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department discussed how his department is helping to “Build a Better World” during “Tea with the Sheriff,” hosted at the East Irving Library on Thursday, July 27.

During the presentation, Lehmann first went over services the Sheriff’s Department is required by law to provide. These services include keeping the Dallas County Jail, serving warrants and subpoenas, coordinating extradition of prisoners, and providing bailiffs for county and city courts. While these services are necessary for any Sheriff’s Department, Lehmann wants to focus on the programs that are not required by law but were created by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department to help the community.

“If a judge tells you to go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), people go to AA because they’re told to and they want to get out,” Lehmann said. “Even though we offer AA, for all the good it does, that’s been left out of the kind of things I put in to the ‘Build a Better World’ (program). These are the things that the Sheriff’s Department is trying to do, on its own, to ease the workload and ease problems we’re finding in the community.”

One of those problem-solving services is the homeless diversion program, which is designed to help homeless and/or mentally impaired individuals stay out of jail and get into programs that can help them.

“If you are mentally ill or homeless and picked up on the kinds of charges that mentally ill and homeless people tend to get picked up on, which is shoplifting, trespassing, things like that, there is a program in place now to identify you and will divert you over to a judge who will let you out of jail without bond, on the condition you go to drug counseling or you go to mental health services,” Lehmann said. A similar program was also created to assist prostitutes, offering to let them go free if they agree to seek help for whatever initially drove them to prostitution.

Lehmann discussed many other services the department provides, from education and vocational training for inmates, to roadside assistance with the Courtesy Patrol, to community outreach with programs such as Citizens’ Academy, Homes for Hounds and Kids and Cops. Many of these services came about as a result of officers observing problems in the community and deciding to do something about them. 

“One of the things about working in law enforcement that I will say is probably a benefit – you don’t have to complain,” Lehmann said. “If you get involved in this line of work, a lot of times you can actually do something about the things you’re complaining about.”

Rose Mary Cortez, branch manager of the East Irving Library, organized the event as part of the library’s “Build a Better World” summer reading program. She said after hearing about the many programs the Sheriff’s Department provides, she wanted to let the public know about them.

“I had heard about the different programs [the Sheriff’s Department] offers our community, and so many of them we are not aware of as just general citizens,” Cortez said. “This was a good opportunity for us to let everybody else know what a wonderful job they’re doing to build a better world in our community.”

Cortez feels events like this are important to help improve the public’s perception of law enforcement as a whole.

“I think if more people knew about [these programs], it would really help our community to make a better contact with them and to understand they’re not just sitting in an office or giving out tickets,” she said. “They’re really helping our community.”

Judith Osegueda, a clerk at Cedar Valley College and a criminal justice student, was very impressed by all the different services the Sheriff’s Department offers.

“I didn’t realize how much the Sheriff’s Department did for taxpayers,” Osegueda said. She would like to see more law enforcement outreach to the Hispanic community as well as the public at large. “I feel that my people are not well informed, even me. I used to be intimidated by sheriffs because they have a reputation of being mean. It’s really good to have the first-hand information and know that they’re not here just to pull me over, give me a ticket, and put me in jail.”

Atos opens state-of-the-art facility

Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, opened a new regional headquarters in Irving with a ribbon cutting event on Tuesday, July 18. The 800,000 square foot facility featured the company’s first North American Business Technology and Innovation Center, which will allow customers to have hands on experiences with their latest innovations.

“This new building in Dallas is a natural progression of our trajectory in the United States,” said Michel-Alain Proch, Senior Executive Vice President of North American Operations of Atos. “By providing the latest technology to our employees, we want to empower them to achieve firsts in the industry for our customers. To accelerate our expansion, we will continue to recruit top talent in the region.”

Atos works across 72 countries and is one of the largest IT service providers in Europe. Their expansion into North America comes on the heels of a string of strategic acquisitions including signing a contract to provide infrastructure and data center services to National-Bank in Germany and teaming up with Dell EMC Cloud to launch Atos Canopy Orchestrated Hybrid Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack.

“We have a large employee base here based on all of the acquisitions that were centralized,” said Lacey Hautzinger, the company’s senior director of marketing communications. “Why do many companies come to Dallas: it’s the central location, it’s the airport, and the ease of getting clients in and out. We have many North American customers, and we really wanted to put our footprint here in Irving.”

The facility contains a cafeteria, which features locally produced foods, and a game room.

“This is where we want to bring most of our customers in North America,” Hautzinger said. “We can show them what we are able to do, and show them our innovations, and come up with creative ideas.”

Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer expressed his enthusiasm for the new headquarters.

“Atos is a significant addition to Irving’s roster of leading national and international corporations,” Stopfer said. “Not only has Atos chosen a stunning new facility, the company will contribute a tremendous depth of experience, opportunity, and leadership to our city. We are proud Atos chose Irving as its North American Regional Headquarters, and we welcome this exceptionally innovative technology company and its employees to their new Irving home.”

Stopfer and Michel-Alain Proch, Atos Group’s Senior Executive Vice President and CEO North America, both shared the honor of cutting the ribbon. Proch believes the prosperity of the 650 employees depends on a suitable workplace.

“It’s important to not only have a place but to work, but also to play, and that is really the success of an enterprise,” he said.

Chad Harris, president of Atos North American Operations, is proud their business technology solutions company is coming to North America.

“It’s important because it represents the center of innovation, not just because as us for employees and what we do to create solutions for our customers, but it also represents the center of innovation for Fortune 500,” he said. “These companies allow CEOs to come into Irving and imagine a future for their business. It’s not only important for us as a provider, but for the city, and we do this with great pride.”

Set the Date!

Free Genealogy Classes
August 4 – 18, 12:30 p.m.
Free genealogy classes are available to the public provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, who has created the largest collection of family records in the world. A three part course will be offered at The Summit Active Adult Center in Grand Prairie. Topics that will be covered include Genealogy for Beginners, Sources for Genealogical Information and Search Techniques for Genealogical Information. Instructors for the course are Elder and Sister Grieve, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints. Classes will be Fridays at 12:30 pm. The class is free for all Summit members. Nonmembers may be charged a $5 entrance fee by The Summit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints collection of family records includes more than 3 billion deceased people and has 5,003 family history centers in 138 countries.

Summer School Graduation
August 10, 7 p.m.
Summer school graduation for all high schools is Singley Academy.

August 12, 10:30am-4:30pm
The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra will be holding auditions for the Lone Star Youth Orchestra’s 2017-2018 Season at the Irving Arts Center.

Based in Irving, the Lone Star Youth Orchestra is the only tuition-free youth orchestra in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Lone Star Youth Orchestra is open to all middle and high school students residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. These talented youths are given the opportunity to supplement and enhance their music education by learning symphonic literature through high-quality orchestral and ensemble training with the very best in the field. Students have the opportunity to perform with the Garland Symphony Orchestra and the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra through our side-by-side concerts, and students may also compete for scholarship opportunities and guest artist spots through our annual concerto competition.

Auditions are by appointment only. All audition information can be found at Students can expect to perform two scales, a solo of their choice, and 2-3 excerpts that have been preselected for their instrument.