Category Archives: Featured Stories

Runners honor Irving’s fallen police officer


Runners of all ages gathered for the Officer Andrew Esparza Memorial Foundation 5k and one-mile fun run, May 10, at the North Irving Mustang Recreation Center. Photo by Stephen Goodgame.
Runners of all ages gathered for the Officer Andrew Esparza Memorial Foundation 5k and one-mile fun run, May 10, at the North Irving Mustang Recreation Center. Photo by Stephen Goodgame.

Dozens of runners gathered for the 4th Annual Officer Andrew Esparza Memorial Run at the North Irving Mustang Recreation Center on May 10.

The gathering consisted of a 5k race and a one-mile fun run, and proceeds from the event benefited the Andrew Esparza Memorial Foundation, which provides scholarships to Irving Police Officer’s children and students who attend Burleson and Centennial High School.

Officer Andrew Esparza, badge #966, died in 2007 as a result of an on-duty automobile accident while enroute to assist a fellow officer. He served the Irving community for two years as an Irving Police Officer.

Esparza’s family began the Memorial Foundation to carry on his legacy.

“It’s a great cause. We lost our brother in 2007 – and it seems like every year the more we think people are forgetting about it – it seems like we have more and more runners every year,” Ralph Esparza, Officer Esparza’s brother, said. “It feels pretty good, and it makes my family feel pretty good. We lost three police officers in Irving, and this is a way to carry on their legacy. [The run] is not just open to officers, it’s open to the public.”

Most of Esparza’s family ran in the 5k or one-mile fun run. In addition, dozens of police officers, including Irving Police Chief, Larry Boyd, ran at the event to support their fallen police brother. Many of the participants sported a black t-shirt printed with the words, “’Fear not for I am with you’ Isaiah 41:10”, in support of Esparza.

Since the beginning of the Irving Police Department in 1942, three police officers have fallen in the line of duty, including Esparza.

Irving Police Officer, Glenn Homs, died in 1993 while on-duty after being struck by a drunk driver. More recently, Irving Police Officer, Aubrey Hawkins, was shot and killed on Christmas Eve of 2000 after responding to a robbery-in-progress call at an Irving sporting goods store.

Benefits, such as the Andrew Esparza Memorial Foundation 5k, are important in order to ensure that the heroic acts of these fallen Irving Police Officer’s are not forgotten.

Saturday’s memorial run preceded National Police Week, which began May 11. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officer’s Memorial Day.

For more information about the Officer Andrew Esparza Memorial Foundation, visit


Cyclists of every age, description celebrate the joy of biking

Flying high, Spencer  Bass jumps his bicycle  over his friend, Matt Olson, during a BMX show by Big-Time  Action Sports performed for the Bike  Irving event. / Photo by  John Starkey
Flying high, Spencer Bass jumps his bicycle over his friend, Matt Olson, during a BMX show by Big-Time Action Sports performed for the Bike Irving event. / Photo by
John Starkey

Approximately 500 cyclists participated in the Irving Bicycle Fest held at Lively Skate Park, May 10. Hosted by the City of Irving and the Green Advisory Board, the event featured group rides, a kids’ bicycle safety rodeo, “on-the-spot” bike checks and BMX bike riding demonstrations by Big-Time Action Sports.

“This is a celebration of cycling,” said Francesca Funk, co-founder of Bike Irving. “We’re trying to let people enjoy cycling in all its different forms. We’ve got cargo bikes and electric bikes. I even saw someone on a bike without a seat. I saw someone on a side-by-side bike – two bikes in tandem that ride side-by-side. There are all kinds of bikes.

Avid cyclist Kevin Denny, a Sergeant with Irving Police Department, led 30 bicyclists on the 30 mile group ride.

“This event is making our community a little more aware of cycling,” Denny said. “The event hits your cyclists who normally ride. It also gets information out for the kids and families. So I would say it hits as broad a spectrum of the community as it can to raise the cycling awareness.

“The education part is huge, because over the last 30 years people have gravitated towards driving their kids to school more and more. However, statistics show, it is actually safer now for kids to be biking and walking to school than was 30 or 40 years ago,” he said.

Through its Physical Education Department, Irving ISD has begun initiatives to teach students to ride bicycles and to ride them safely.

“Irving ISD also has a cycling module in the spring PE program for the elementary schools and middle schools,” Funk said. “We have a fleet of bicycles that rotates through the schools, so all the kids can learn how to cycle. That (idea) actually came from the kids. Last year, they had just the safe walking and biking to school, and they were so excited. But some of the kids didn’t know how to bicycle. The teachers realized the kids weren’t getting bikes, because the parents didn’t think there were safe places to ride, and in some cases, the parents couldn’t afford them.

“So we initiated the Earn-A-Bike program. We’ve received donations from all over the community. People are coming to this event picking out a bike. They can fix it up, and they can have their own bike. I think this partnership between the community, the schools and cyclists around the community to bring the kids into it is the most exciting thing happening today,” she said.

An advocate of ensuring kids ride safely, Sandi Cravens, Irving ISD’s Health and Physical Education Coordinator, helped give away safety helmets during the event.

“We gave away 100 helmets to adults, kids and teens in about two-and-a- half hours,” Cravens said. “There was high demand. A lot of folks didn’t have a helmet. (The helmet give away) was made possible through a grant from the Texas Medical Association. They donate half and we (Bike Irving) raised half.

“This is a great event, and we need more people to come. It’s been well attended, but I think we can get even more folks out here and expose them to biking,” she said.

Man found next to baggage claim, arrested for public intoxication


Police Report

Criminal Mischief

April 29, 9:18 a.m.

At Composite Technology Inc., 1727 S.Main St., somebody punctured an employee’s tire three times–two holes were side by side. The employee said he knew of nobody who might have caused this damage. He said other people’s vehicles had also been damaged but not reported. Tire value: $150.


April 30, 2:28 a.m.

In the 1700 block of N. International Parkway, a man was stopped for erratic driving. He said he was coming from Arlington. When asked where he was going, he said, “Arlington”. When asked if he was coming from Arlington or going to Arlington, he stated, “Yes.” Later, he said he was coming from a bar in Carrollton. Odor of an alcoholic beverage came from the vehicle. The driver’s eyes were glossy, red and blood-shot. His driver’s license was revoked for DWI in April 2008. He said he does karaoke and is in the bars all the time. He said he had two or three shots of Jager. Later, he said he had four or five (drinks) rocker glass size. He said he started drinking about 8 p.m. and stopped at midnight. After field sobriety tests, he was arrested for Public Intoxication. When asked if he would drive a school bus full of children in the condition he was in, he said, “No”.

Public Intoxication

April 30, 2:28 a.m.

When officers arrived at Terminal C, Gate C-10, lower level roadway in reference to an escalator accident, they found a man lying on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette. He was bleeding from the face. DFW/EMS arrived to provide medical care. The escalator was stopped with a pool of blood at its base. The subject had a small cut on the bridge of his nose and several minor cuts and bruises around his left eye. He refused to be transported to a nearby medical facility. A DFW/EMS medic released the subject into police custody. The man had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath, his eyes were glossy and his speech slurred. He said he had two glasses of wine a few hours before. He could not stand without support and swayed back and forth. He was arrested for Public Intoxication.

Public Intoxication

May 1, 4:11 a.m.

Multiple callers near Terminal C food court reported an irate passenger screaming, cussing and throwing chairs. When police arrived, they found a barefooted, woman sitting on a bench, propping herself up with her arms and drinking from a 3/4 empty, single-serving bottle of Devils Cut Jim Beam liquor. She said her flight was canceled and she had spent the night in the terminal waiting to catch another flight. She said she had “only four drinks … here,” indicating she had been drinking in the terminal. She said she had her last drink about 10 p.m.When asked if she normally drinks, she said, “No.” She was arrested for Public Intoxication. Officers had to use a wheelchair to transport her to a patrol car.She screamed and resisted as an officer buckled her safety belt.

Public Intoxication

May 1, 10:26 p.m.

Officers found an intoxicated passenger lying on the floor next to the baggage carousel at Terminal A, baggage claim A29. The man said he was not injured and was talking to his wife on his cellphone. He told her to pick him up at the police station. He knew he was at “the airport,” and said he “had a couple of drinks” on his flight. He emitted a strong smell of an alcoholic beverage and urine. He had soiled the front of his jeans. When asked for his driver’s license, he produced his health insurance card. He continued to state, over and over, that he was sorry and he never does anything like this. He was arrested for Public Intoxication.

Public Intoxication

May 1, 11:56 p.m.

At Terminal D Entry 31 lower level, a man standing in the middle of the roadway appeared to be lost and confused. His zipper was down. Officers moved him to the median away from oncoming traffic. A taxi employee said the man jumped into a taxi he did not call for and told the driver to take him downtown to a bar. When told he needed a physical address, the man told the taxi driver, “F**k you. Take me downtown to a bar.” The driver refused to take him anywhere, because he would not give the driver an address. The man told officers he was “ok” and just wanted to get a taxi to go to a hotel. He said he had an argument with his wife about his drinking habits and was trying to catch a flight to Las Vegas. He was asked several times how much he had to drink and each time his answer changed. His speech fluctuated from very fast to very slow, his eyes were glassy and he smelled of an alcoholic beverage. He said he only had a few drinks and was ok. He passed over his driver’s license several times before he found it and had trouble removing it from the front pouch. The man had difficulty standing, nearly fell over several times, dropped his glasses on the ground and did not notice. He could not keep his head at a straight angle. He was arrested for Public Intoxication.

Public Intoxication

May 3, 2:56 a.m.

At Terminal D, Entry 23 upper level roadway, a man lay passed out, face down on the sidewalk next to the Grand Hyatt valet parking stand. An officer woke him. The man was confused and unaware of his surroundings. He said he drank six Budweiser beers. He smelled strongly of an alcoholic beverage and vomit was on the ground next to him. When asked on a scale of one to ten-with ten being really intoxicated-where he was on the scale, he said he was a two. He was unsteady on his feet and swayed from side to side. He had a one inch abrasion on his forehead. He said it happened when his head hit the ground. After sobriety tests, he was arrested for Public Intoxication.

Public Intoxication

May 3, 9:12 a.m.

Tipped off by a gate agent, officers located an intoxicated female in a passenger waiting area. When asked if she was “Ok,” she said, “Yes,” and the officer smelled alcoholic beverage on her breath. When asked if she had consumed any alcoholic beverages, she said, “Yes”. When asked if she had too many alcoholic beverages, she said, “Yes”. When asked if she knew where she was, she was unable to answer. She also did not know what day it was. She kept her head tilted down and her hair kept falling in front of her face. Even though she was seated, she kept swaying in all directions. She had urinated on herself. Officers helped her to stand, but she could hardly stay up. Officers looked for identification in her purse and found a Xanax prescription bottle. She said she had taken it in the morning, but officers were unable to verify how many pills she had taken. EMS came and asked if she wanted to be transported to a local hospital. She did. She said her boyfriend was in the area. As EMS was treating her, she received a phone call from him. He was in Tulsa, Okla. He said she had some family issues and was an alcoholic. She was transported to hospital. No charges were filed.


May 4, 2:53 a.m.

A vehicle entered the U-turn at 4000 N. International Pkwy and drove across the clearly marked solid white reflective median separating the U-turn lane and the other lanes of S. International. It headed southbound on International Parkway weaving in its lane of traffic. Officers stopped the vehicle suspecting the driver might be intoxicated. The driver said she had not been drinking, but the officer saw her wearing a gold colored wristband like those given at bars and night clubs. The driver said the wristband was from a place called “Zuri” (restaurant, lounge, bar). She said it is, “A hotel” located in Arlington and that she was headed home in Arlington. When asked if she knew where she was, she did not give a direct answer, instead she stated that she missed her exit. After Field Sobriety Tests, she was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.

Public Intoxication

May 4, 5:33 a.m.

A concerned passenger alerted officers to an intoxicated male at Terminal E who had his wallet hanging loosely open in his lap. Officers found him sleeping in the seating area near Gate 11. They tried to wake him by tapping his shoulder. He opened his eyes with difficulty and went back to sleep. When they woke him he was very disorientated. He said he was at a prom and drank “a lot”. He said his father dropped him off and was mad at him for drinking too much. He said he had to catch a flight for an academic competition. He handed over his cell phone instead of his driver’s license. He dropped his wallet and almost fell trying to pick it up. He swayed while standing in one place. He had missed his flight. He was arrested for Public Intoxication. He said he drank vodka and consumed several Jell-O shots.


May 4, 9:12 a.m.

A vehicle struck a concrete barrier at the north toll plaza, continued south, and stopped at south toll plaza. A 911 caller following the vehicle witnessed the accident. Officers stopped the vehicle with female driver and a small dog inside. The officer told her why she was stopped and asked for her driver’s license and proof of insurance. She handed him a Visa credit card. He told her it was not her license so she took the credit card and gave him another credit card. He gave the card back and again asked her for her license. The driver handed him her wallet and told him to find it. He could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle. He asked if she was injured or needed EMS, but she seemed confused why he was asking her and said she was fine. She said she was coming from Fort Worth to Lewisville. When asked where she was in Fort Worth, she said it was not important. When asked how much she had to drink, she said, “Enough”. When asked how much enough, she said, “More than enough”. Outside her vehicle, she appeared to be unsteady on her feet. When asked if she believed she was intoxicated, she said yes, and on a scale of zero to 10, she said she was “the highest number – probably an eight”. After refusing to finish a sobriety test, she was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. Inside her vehicle were approximately 12 small empty bottles of wine; 18 small individual empty bottles of Crown Royal; and one 750 ml bottle of Seagram’s Seven, about three quarters empty. A receipt from Lucky Liquor in Fort Worth showed a purchase of $17.31 at 4:11 p.m. The price sticker on the Seagram’s bottle was $17.31. Her dog was released to the Grapevine Animal Control.

Irving general election sees low voter turnout

A close race yielded an upset that ousted Rose Cannaday from her District 5 position on the Irving City Council during the May 10 general election. Cannaday was replaced by Oscar Ward who beat out the incumbent Cannaday, 52-48.

Mayor Beth Van Duyne held her position with a, no-contest, 70-30 win against challenger Herbert Gears.

District 3 incumbent, Dennis Webb, kept his seat with a 60-40 win over Billy Hickman.

In the race to see who would replace Irving ISD Board of Trustees District 2 member, Gail Conder Wells, Nell Anne Hunt won in a landslide 63-37 vote over challenger Garrett Landry.

Of the 88,889 registered voters eligible to vote in the May 10 election, only 7,154 ballots were cast.

A day of educational fun for persons with Parkinson’s Disease

Nick Kamm/Rambler Newspapers
Nick Kamm/Rambler Newspapers

Over 720 enthusiastic guests gathered at the Irving Convention Center for the Davis Phinney Foundation Victory Summit on Saturday, May 3rd. The Davis Phinney Foundation was founded in 2004 and aims to improve quality of life for persons diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The Victory Summit, an all day event, featured a variety of prestigious guest speakers including Parkinson’s professionals, medical specialists, nutritionists, neurologists and speech therapists. In addition to a live musical performance by The Loud Crowd, the event featured yoga, dancing, exhibitors and more.

The informative event educated guests on developments in research for Parkinson’s disease and healthy living. In addition, speakers emphasized the importance of exercise.

Parkinson’s disease specialist and physical trainer with Samford University, Dr. Matt Ford, explained the importance of physical activity to the attentive audience.

“It’s an uphill climb, and I liken it to learning how to ride a bike. For many of you, exercise has not been a part of your life, so you need to start with training wheels,” Dr. Ford said. “There will be some good moments – some happy moments. There’s going to be some moments that you stumble, that you crash. There’s going to be some tougher battles along the way if you stick with it. But, in the end, I think you’ll find if you stick with exercise that you’ll feel victorious related to Parkinson’s disease.”

The Davis Phinney Foundation, a non-profit organization, has allocated over 1.2 million dollars to innovative research in treatment options, speech pathology, neurobehavioral health and more.

Founder and inspiration, Davis Phinney, was the last speaker to take the stage at the Victory Summit. Phinney, Olympic Bronze medalist and Tour de France stage winner, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000.

The adoring audience at Saturday’s event listened intently to Phinney’s incredible story and inspirational speech entitled, “Moments of Victory”.

“Welcome, as I like to say, to a tremor-free zone,” Phinney said. “Commit yourself to a long-term course of action. Make yourself a promise. I can improve my function. I will improve my quality of life. I can do better. Believe in the process. Commit yourself to some form of exercise or activity. Will it tax and test you? I certainly hope so.”

“’Parkinson’s already taxes me too much’ you might be thinking. Fair enough, I feel your pain. But here, today, as of right now, we are all living, breathing, and our lives matter; our quality of life matters,” he said. “The important thing is to start. By coming to this Victory Summit you’ve signaled that intention and interest. Baby steps, either literal or proverbial, are fine. But you need to leave here with an ambition.”

Phinney also discussed an incident where he fell off of his bicycle and received stitches due to his injuries.

“Despite the doctors orders to take a week to ten days off my bicycle, forget that. I raced the next day, and guess what? I won,” Phinney said.

“Carl Aims, another friend of ours from Phoenix, took up cycling a few years after he was diagnosed [with Parkinson’s] in 2008. And just last year, he took his first 100-mile bike ride,” Phinney said. “As I speak, I could call him and he’d be on his bike right now. He’s riding from Vancouver to Portland as part of a Parkinson’s fundraiser. There’s lots of heroes like that – super heroes.”

During the afternoon, attendees separated into breakout sessions. The interactive workshops featured notable professionals including neurobehavioral health specialist, Joanne Hamilton; Baylor movement disorder specialist, ElmyraEncarnacion; Dallas sleep medicine specialist, Sonya Merrill; neurologic music therapy specialist, Carolyn Dobson; Samantha Elandary, with the Parkinson Voice Project; Jo Bidwell, with the Southwest Parkinson society; and many more.

The inspirational Victory Summit has inspired audiences in multiple other states including New York, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, California and more.

For more information about the Davis Phinney Foundation and to learn more about their exceptional programs, visit









After 56 years of flight, pilot yearns to go into space

Wally Funk. Courtesy of The Ninety-Nines, Inc.
Wally Funk. Courtesy of The Ninety-Nines, Inc.

When pilot Wally Funk was five years old, she tried to fly by jumping off her family’s barn in the Superman costume her parents gave her for her birthday. That short flight ended in the hay, but she did not give up. She soloed at 16 and in her 56 year career has flown 18,600 hours and has trained over 2,000 pilots.

She made history three times as a female: the first civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Okla.; the first Federal Aviation Agency inspector; and the first National Transportation Safety Board air-crash investigator. Going into space is the only goal that remains on her to-do list.

Funk spoke April 25 to the Happy Warriors, a group of mainly World War II veterans, who meet every fourth Friday at Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. She told them stories about growing up in Taos, New Mexico and about her quest to become an astronaut.

“My father had a business and my mom was too busy with social engagements, so I did all the things the (local Indian) kids did: shooting guns, riding horses – all the fun stuff at five and six years of age,” Funk said. “The Spirit of the Taos Mountain gave me the knowledge to know what to do – how to fix a tractor, a Model T when I was 10 – and I have had a wonderful, fabulous life. The Taos Indians are fantastic in the way they teach their kids and I was just one of their kids.”

She said she her parents let her do just about anything she wanted to do.

“I had great, forward thinking parents,” Funk said. “I was taught early to have no fear – to deal with whatever came up in my life and fix it. And I did. I’m impulsive. I’m spontaneous. I’m very practical. I’m bold. I’m always on time. I’m precise. I’m responsible. I’m a risk-taker – not to the point I would ever lose my life or hurt anybody – but I’ve done a lot of cockamamie things in the air. I march to my own drummer and that’s what keeps me going.”

She must have gotten her courage and love of flying from her mother who also dreamed of becoming a pilot. Funk said in the early 1920’s a barnstormer landed at her mother’s school in Illinois.

“She told the pilot she wanted to fly,” Funk said. “He said, ‘It will be a dollar a minute.’ She went back to school and came back with $10. She got her 10 minutes. That pilot did loops and rolls. She was elated running home to tell her father, ‘I want to be a pilot.’ In those days in Illinois, people were very stern. Her father looked at her and said, ‘You will never fly. Those girls wear britches.’ He was okay by the time I started to fly at Stephens College.”

She said when she became a pilot and she was teaching, the word astronaut had not come into existence.

“I had gone to the head of the class, so to speak, in aviation and teaching, so when the astronaut program came up and Jerrie Cobb asked me if I wanted to be with the program, I said, ‘Yes! Get me up there. You write to Dr. Loveless (Dr. William Randolph “Randy” Lovelace II).’”

She was accepted in 1961 and volunteered to be a part of the Women in Space Program as one of 25 women in the Mercury 13 Program.

“There were 100-and-something guys who took the test,” Funk said. “Seven made it. There were 25 girls that took the same tests, and 13 made it. They tested every part of my body possible. They weren’t sure what was going to happen to the nose, the ears, or the tongue in space. Nobody had an idea what space was going to do to our body. They strapped me in a dentist chair and injected 10 degree water – below freezing – in my ear for 30 seconds. You cannot imagine the tests they made up to do to us.”

Thirty minutes later, they brought her in and injected the freezing liquid into her other ear. She said the women’s tests were harder, faster and longer than the men’s.

“Our bodies could withstand more than the guy’s did.”

“That was 1961, but nobody knew anything about us until 1995 when “Dateline” came out with the story,” Funk said.

The women competed toe-to-toe with John Glenn and the other men, but in the end it was politics, not pilot error, that kept them grounded.

“Eisenhower had put into a record of some sort that only military men could be picked,” Funk said. “Many of the Mercury 13 girls were upset about it, but I knew I had to go on. I knew I would go into space one day.”

She is still waiting.

In 2005 she paid $20,000 to train with Russian cosmonauts at Gagarin Astronaut Training Center 20 miles northeast of Moscow. There she experienced weightlessness aboard an Ilyushin 76 cargo plane. The plane went to 35,000 feet and then nosedived to 10,000 feet to create weightlessness called Parabolic flying. She passed all the same test as the cosmonauts, but she is still waiting to go into space.

Funk is on the list to fly on Sir Richard Branson’s space vehicle.

“But I might not get that chance,” Funk said. “My number is over 100, and he can only take six people at a time.”

Funk expressed regret at not getting a degree in engineering.

“If I had gotten an engineering degree, I would have been on with NASA very early,” she said. “I’ve known all the girls that have gone up, and I’ve been at all the launches. Eileen Collins is one of my very best friends.”

Funk lectures around the country encouraging school systems to make the STEM Program – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – part of their curriculum.

Today, all of her students are teenagers who want to go into the military or be airline pilots.

“They know exactly where they want to go, so I’m helping them get there,” Funk said.

She flies out of Northwest Regional Airport.

Did you know?

 Wally Funk invented the Wally Stick when she was with the FAA NTSB. She investigated about 450 accidents in her career, and she said there were too many accidents where props had broken off. She used the Wally Stick to test propellers. The front of the propeller should have a ping to it, and the back should have a thud when struck with the stick. If there is a dull thud at the front of the prop, it is cracked.

North Texas Shootout (with winner photos)

Photos by Brandon Crosby

Coppell and Irving Ramblers to become one May 1

With high hopes in August of 2012, the staff of Rambler Newspapers made the bold decision to create the Coppell, Las Colinas Valley Ranch Rambler separate from the Irving Rambler.

Our intention in creating two papers was to better serve the communities and the people who live in them.

After more than a year-and-a-half of production, the Coppell, Las Colinas Valley Ranch Rambler publication has not met expectations. Therefore, as of May 1, the papers will be merged into a single publication: The Irving Rambler.

Despite the merge, the staff of Rambler Newspapers will continue to serve the city of Coppell and surrounding communities with fair and accurate reporting and advertising.

Our staff would like to thank all of our readers for your ongoing support as we work to better serve you.