Irving Historical Society celebrates Mary Schulze’s 100th birthday


A birthday party honored one of Irving’s most famous children on Sunday, July 16.

The Irving Historical Society celebrated the 100th birthday of Mary Schulze, daughter of one of the founders of Irving, C.P. Schulze, by opening up Mary’s Playhouse to a backyard birthday party. The playhouse, part of the Irving Heritage House, started off as a humble chicken coop and was later repurposed by C.P. Schulze into a playhouse for his daughter. Mary used the playhouse not just throughout her childhood, but well into her adult years as well.

“Mary used this [building] when she was a little girl as a playhouse,” Patty Caperton, chairwoman of the Mary’s Playhouse committee, said. “Then when she grew up, most of her career was in teaching and as a librarian in Corpus Christi. But when she would come home to visit, this would be sort of her quiet place of contemplation.”

Over time, the playhouse fell into disrepair. When the Irving Heritage Society decided to renovate it in 2012, the building was beyond repair. The old building was razed, and the new playhouse was recreated from the ground up, using much of the wood and materials from the original house.

Mary’s Playhouse was re-opened to the public in November of 2015 and has since been used by the Historical Society to help educate guests, especially children, about what life was like for children growing up in Irving in the 1920s. While the Heritage House offers tours of the playhouse every month, Caperton said that the birthday party is one of the first larger-scale events to be held at the playhouse.

“We like to show the children in the community about their history, and that there were little boys and girls around and having fun,” Caperton said. “For today’s event, we were trying to look at popular games in the 1920s.”

Children participated in games such as croquet, checkers, sack races and fishing. They also took tours of the playhouse and learned about the various toys and games children played in Mary’s time.

Gail Norris, an independent business owner and member of the Irving Heritage Society, brought her grandson, 13-year-old Jordan Davis, to the event.

“I learned more things about Mary’s Playhouse than I thought I knew,” Norris said. “It’s been a barrel of fun.”

Norris added that Irving schools should consider bringing more students to the playhouse so kids can learn about the city’s history first-hand.

“[We need to] get the schools to know about these events and come to the playhouse and learn the history,” Norris said. “A good way to learn about Mary’s Playhouse is as they show you around, really listen so you can tell others. The first Sunday of every month is a good chance for all the kids to start.”

Parents can help educate their children about local history by taking them to Irving Historical Society events.

“Our teachers have been great in telling the kids about their history,” Caperton said. “But I think if parents would just take time, like on a Sunday afternoon, and bring their kids over and let them see [history] first-hand, I think that gets kids excited, because then they have a memory of what toys were like and who these real people were back then.”

District Attorney brings services to victims


Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer and Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke joined other city and police officials in standing beside Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson as she announced the Irving Family Advocacy Center and Genesis Women’s Shelter now house the District Attorney’s Office’s newest Community Satellite Offices. The Irving office is the first Community Satellite Office established in an advocacy center.

The satellite offices focus primarily on crimes such as family violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Personnel working in the offices will provide victims of domestic violence greater access to applications for protective orders while making the crime reporting, investigation and prosecution processes as efficient, successful and comfortable for the victims as possible.

“We are taking the office to them rather than people having to come down to the Frank Crowley Courts Building,” Johnson said. “People can actually get there protective orders right here in the community.

“We already had 11 locations in the city of Dallas, but Irving wanted us to come out here, and Cedar Hill wanted us to go there, so we said, ‘yes’. We are trying to take the office to the people, so that the people won’t have to worry about coming to Dallas County.

“We want to encourage people to take advantage of these services, because we have them in mind. We need to know that these services are needed, and they do appreciate being able to come right here in their community to be served, but if it doesn’t make that much of a difference we need to know that too. We are spending our DA time and our advocates’ time and effort, so we want them to come,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Alan Meagher believes the inviting atmosphere of the Family Advocacy Center will support people seeking justice.

“A lot of people are scared to go downtown,” Meagher said. “They might not have the money for the parking and everything. It’s intimidating to go downtown to the courthouse.

“If you come here, this is an inviting place. It is a safe place. People will come here and get the process done, where they wouldn’t before. I think people will be more comfortable coming here to Irving. It helps out our city a great deal. Any resident of our city can come here and get what they need taken care of by the District Attorney’s Office and not have to go to downtown Dallas.

“The Family Advocacy Center does an unbelievable job. If you are ever a victim of any family violence, you can come here and you will be safe. They will take care of you. A lot of people feel they can’t leave an unsafe environment, because there is no place to go, or no one will help them; the Family Advocacy Center does help them. It gives victims of domestic abuse a place where they can get away from their abusive situation,” he said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, or you simply someone to speak with, contact the Irving Family Advocacy Center, located at 600 W Pioneer Drive, Irving, or call 972-721-6521.

PINSTACK in Las Colinas offers new vision of bowling


The new PINSTACK on West I-635 is not your grandpa’s Wednesday night bowling league.

In fact, it might as well be a scene from a TRON movie with changing color patterns on the walls and floor, a large arcade and laser tag arena, and loads of LED-lit hand holds on climbing walls from a company out of Norway.

“When you hear gaming or bowling, it’s not what you’re envisioning,” said Gene Muncy, the Las Colinas PINSTACK General Manager. “If you’ve never been in, you wouldn’t imagine what you’re going to experience until you walk in the front door. I think the finish and the experience of the facility really tells that story.”

Alongside 28 bowling lanes, Las Colinas’ new 53,000 square-foot entertainment venue features a two-level laser tag arena, rock climbing walls, high-ropes course, a large arcade, and a full-service bar with beer and wine on draft. 

“Draft wine is starting to catch on and becoming more popular here,” Muncy said. “So we’ve increased it. We had six [drafts] in Plano, and we now have twelve in addition to all of our regular wines sold by the glass and bottle.”

Customers can even head outside during the hot summer, as a 2,000 square-foot, temperature controlled covered patio offers games including bocce ball and giant games in chess, connect four, and jenga.

Most of these areas are available for private parties and corporate events.

“We have meeting rooms that face the lanes,” Munch said. “We do full service banquet catering like you would find at any nice hotel property. We do a lot of corporate meetings where [corporations] have training. They’ve got a product launch or team building, and they’ll do food and beverage in their room and then come out and have lanes reserved for them and have their own private area to have an event.”

There are also features in games that are tailored for outings with a boss and work colleagues. One style of play in laser tag is called “lone wolf” and allows everyone to go after one player, which Muncy said is typically used to go after the boss.

Entertainment Properties Group, Inc. operates the new venue. Based in Dallas, they run three entertainment venues in Texas under the iT’ ‘Z Family, Food & Fun brand. PINSTACK is their latest location and first opened in Plano in 2015. Las Colinas marks their second location, and they plan to open their third PINSTACK in Allen in fall of 2017.

As part of their launch, PINSTACK in Las Colinas honored The Salvation Army of Irving and Irving Cares with a donation at a special VIP event attended by community leaders and PINSTACK executives.

“We look forward to being a good community partner,” said Mark Moore, president and CEO of Entertainment Properties Group, Inc. “We are confident the Las Colinas community and surrounding areas will enjoy PINSTACK’s many entertainment amenities, dining options, and more.”

The location has some differences than Plano’s, including a larger laser tag area. The Las Colinas venue used a subtle design change to add 700 square-feet to their laser tag arena without adding square footage to the building.

But the real draw is bowling.

A regular lane, which fits eight people comfortably, costs $18 during the weekdays for one hour and $22 for a VIP experience. Those prices rise to $34 and $45 during the weekends and shoe rental costs $4.

LED-lights on the sides and walls is coupled with advanced technology, including programmed bumpers for each bowler. This new type of bowling, Muncy believes, will be popular among young people.

“You don’t have to be a superstar bowler to have fun bowling,” he said. “Particularly millennials these days want to do fun activities together in a social environment but don’t want to be eliminating or isolating people who may not be experts. Bowling’s a great way to do that.”

DCCCD receives green light for first bachelor’s degree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The entire process will approximately three to four years.

SOURCE Dallas County Community College District

Tiller trucks latest advancement for Irving Fire Department


The Irving Fire Department is adding two new tractor drawn, aerial trucks, most commonly known as Tiller trucks, to its firefighting arsenal. Irving is the second city in Texas using these trucks, Dallas being the first.

Tiller trucks are designed to better maneuver around congested areas and narrow streets around town. Driving a Tiller truck is a two-man job.

“The vehicle has been in the fire service for a very long time, but it’s a relatively new concept in the South,” Assistant Fire Chief Tony Harvey said.

The Irving Fire Department began doing research on the Tiller trucks in late 2014.

“With some of the construction and stuff going on in the city, it has started becoming denser and more populated in tighter spaces,” Station 12 Captain Darrell Hall said. “We realized we have places that some of our equipment has trouble getting into.”

A committee approached the Irving City Council to propose the purchase of the trucks. Committee members even took a trip to the West Coast in July of 2015 to observe Tiller trucks in action.

“We set up a trip to California,” Hall said. “California has a lot of departments that have Tillers, because they’ve been tight quarters for a long time. They showed us their trucks, let us drive their trucks, and showed us what they were capable of doing. Even more important for us, it told us what you should do and what you should not do.”

The committee studied the concept for two years before presenting the idea to the council.

“We made the presentation and the council approved it,” Harvey said. “They actually approved two of these Tiller trucks, so we’re really excited about getting them in service.”

One of the trucks will be going to Station Three to cover the southern part of Irving, and the other will be going to Station 12, which is slated to open in July, to cover the northern part of town. All the personnel assigned to the two stations have received over 40 hours of Tiller training to learn how to operate the front end and the back end of the trucks while maintaining constant communication with one another through wireless headsets.

“The Tiller truck has a standard driver and in the back is the trailer, which also has a steering wheel. That driver is called the Tiller man,” Hall said. “He can steer the back of the truck so we are able to maneuver around some pretty tight areas. We want each guy to be crossed trained in both locations, so no matter what situation comes up, we can get the job done and get it done safely.”

Crew members trained on courses designed to simulate different street layouts and hard to reach areas.

“There’s four different scenarios we have to drive through,” fire equipment operator Steven Hall said. “A lot of this is stuff we’ve done before but on straight axle equipment, so whenever you get to do this on a Tiller rig, it’s a totally different game. We’ve spent several hours getting used to that before we actually start driving on the road with the public.”

The new trucks also give firefighters more space to store equipment.

“We’ve got so much compartment space that we have not had in the past,” Darrell said. “The trucks are set up for firefighting and rescue operations. Every piece of equipment has a place now. It’s wonderful to be able to have so much space that even as the department needs to change we can put more equipment on the truck, which we haven’t had the ability to do in the past.”

The trucks are scheduled to go into operation in July once Station 12 opens. There is the possibility more than two Tiller trucks could be protecting Irving in the future.

“Our personnel who’ve been training on them ask questions like, ‘How come we didn’t do this 20 years ago?’” Harvey said. “Maybe when another station comes up for a ladder truck replacement, it could be a consideration.”

Joint Fire Training Facility promises improved firefighter, policemen training

The City of Irving and the Grand Prairie Fire Departments came together to host the grand opening of their joint Fire Training Facility, located at 4850 N. Belt Line Road, on Friday, July 21.

The new $4 million facility features a five-story burn tower composed of apartments, commercial offices, and a balcony. The burn tower also includes an elevator shaft, rappel panel and training access hatches. The facility will train incoming and current firefighters on various techniques involved in fire safety and rescue.

The Fire Training Facility also has a 4,000-square-foot building, which contains classrooms, kitchens and a break room for the firefighters.

“I want to thank the city council and the city manager for supporting this,” said Irving Fire Chief, Victor Conley. “We haven’t had a facility to train at since 1968.

“This facility is going to help our first responders to be better prepared to respond to emergencies where there is a lot of muscle memory that kicks in, because they go through the training on a regular basis. It’s going to help our community and our fire department be better.

“By the addition of this facility, the fire department was able to help the city of Irving achieve an ISO-1 insurance rating. It will reduce insurance rates, have a huge impact on economic development, and bring more corporate partners to our city while keeping taxes low for our citizens.”

“We bought this land years ago, and there is a whole master site to develop this property,” Conley said. “This is just the first component. There will be classrooms, and an emergency operation center. We plan to have a rifle and gun range for our police department.”

Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer feels cooperation was a key component in the creation of the joint Fire Training Facility.

“It’s a great day for the city of Irving and the city of Grand Prairie,” Stopfer said. “To the community, it shows the spirit of cooperation we have between our two cities. I think regionalism is important, because it shows the responsibilities of both cities working together to bring one city together, so we can share those costs and be mindful of the citizens’ dollars.

“For the future, it shows we’re committed to having the facility and the tools our firefighters need for our future growth and development for the city. As we grow it’s becoming more and more evident that the firefighters have to be well trained.”

Mark your calendar!

Blood Donation
July 30, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thousands of people have responded to the emergency call for blood donations issued by the American Red Cross in early July, but there continues to be a critical summer blood shortage. Eligible donors of all types are urgently needed.

After issuing the emergency call, the Red Cross has experienced a 30 percent increase in blood donation appointments through mid-July. Despite this improvement, blood products are still being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, so more donations are needed to meet patient needs and replenish the blood supply.

A blood donation drive will be held at Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Parish, 2323 Cheyenne Street, Irving.

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.



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