Best Of Wharton County 2022

Page 1

Destination Ford Award Winning Dealer 10 Categories Wharton County Votes, Businesses Win! Over 23,000 VOTES! Meet Some of Your Winners Inside Special Publication of www.leader-news.com www.journal-spectator.com

Welcome to 2022’s Best of Wharton County Magazine

Welcome to the second not-quite-annual Best of Wharton County, a magazine we think you are going to want to keep as a handy guide for the next year.

“The El Campo Leader-News, East Bernard Express and Wharton Journal-Spectator are proud to bring you this publication and hope that you’ll consider visiting not only your favorites as you find them listed inside, but also other winning companies,” Journal-Spectator Publisher Bill Wallace said.

The Best of Wharton County 2022 is made possible thanks to you, the readers, along with generous support of the advertisers you find listed within these pages.

“Please consider visiting these advertisers as you place your orders, get things fixed, book a listing or go in search of help. You’ll find an amazing variety of businesses in Wharton County’s assorted communities whether you are looking for a retail store, a place to dine or someone who can take of a matter of concern,” LeaderNews Editor & Publisher Shannon Crabtree said.

A total of 6,970 nominations were made and 23,431 votes were cast in the 2022 contest, all tabulated by a third party vendor to ensure a fair tally. The newspapers began notifying winners as results came

in, but this is the first public presentation, broken down into 10 sections, a copy of which can be found online at each newspapers’ website.

Each section, we’ve highlighted businesses and firms representing the various communities in Wharton County.

“I’ve learned a lot about the variety of companies in the county putting together this publication,” Crabtree said.

Copies of the Best of Wharton County 2022 were inserted into the El Campo Leader-News, East Bernard Express and Wharton Journal-Spectator in addition to being made available to chambers, advertisers and placed in key locations throughout the county.

Results, along with the names of all nominees by category, remain on the website year round.

“This is literally the best bang we can give our advertisers for their bucks. We can still place an advertisers listing on the web for as little as $75. And, think about it, maybe your company didn’t win first this year, but maybe the winner isn’t convenient for the reader to reach, or maybe they’ve eaten everything on that menu. There’s a whole list for people to explore,” Wallace said.

Congratulations to all participants and winners – and enjoy the best the county has to offer.

The Cover:

Best Salesman winner, Jaye Mills stands in the showroom at Destination Ford with Isabella Hernandez in front of a new Ford truck.

Publishers Shannon Crabtree Bill Wallace Features/Design Al Dubé William Hedstrom Liz Moreno Rachel Rodriguez Joe Southern Advertising Michelle Bridges Haley Orsak Office Jennifer Davila Francis Dieterich Deborah Goad Diane Stewart
Brought To You By On
Best of Wharton County © 2022 - El Campo Leader-News, Wharton Journal-Spectator and East Bernard Express
2 • Best of Wharton County 2022
Look Inside... Letter from the Publishers ............................... 2 Farmer’s Friends, Here to Help ........................ 4 Driving Into Tomorrow, With Style 6 Coming In Clear 10 A Place, Just For You 14 A Divine Education ......................................... 17 Tag Me In, Coach 19 Warm Nights, Cool Drinks 20 Little Bit Of Chicken, Fried 22 One Party, Order Up! ...................................... 23 Low and Slow .................................................. 24 Thank You Guys, Burgers and Fries ............... 25 Keeping It Cool, When You Need It ................ 33 Got Those Good Citations .............................. 36 Sip and Stroll .................................................. 37 Would You Like It Wrapped? 38 Style for the Range 38 Categories Agriculture .............................. 4 Automotive ............................. 6 Home Services ....................... 10 Children & Education ............ 17 Entertainment & Social 20 Food & Drink 22 Health Care 29 Services 33 Lifestyles ......................... 36 Retail ................................ 38 They’re continuing to build almost a century of trust, with Wharton County Farmers and homemakers. A Godly education for our smallest, sets them up for a wholesome life. They’re going the distance to build the lives that customers deserve. 4 17 14 PAGE PAGE PAGE Taking a trip in comfort and style. 26 PAGE Best of Wharton County 2022 • 3

Co-op cultivates common coHesion

With nearly a century of cooperative ownership and service, United Ag of El Campo has made its’ mark on Texas Gulf Coast agriculture and it’s for that reason they are the go-to processor and marketer for so many local producers.

United Ag is a cooperatively owned by its more than 1,100 members. The board of directors and General Manager Jimmy Roppolo manage almost 150 employees at four general stores, four grain elevators, three cotton warehouses, two cotton gins.

United Ag’s four grail elevators have a total capacity of 6.36 million bushels, or over 350 million pounds. Their two gins can process 2,200 bales of cotton per day, and they can store up to 30,000 bales in their warehouses.

The Co-op got its start when El Campo Farmers Cooperative and the Modern Farmers Cooperative Society, both established in the 1920s, merged. The coop then combined with Danevang Farmers Cooperative Society Inc. in 2012.

“We profit share, we get to give back to our members,” United Ag Marketing Manager Michelle Frankum said. She added, “Some people think that you have to be a member to do business with us, you absolutely do not.”

United Ag sees itself as a feature in the community.

“We support churches, organizations and fundraisers all across town. We do a lot with the (youth) fair. I hope they view us as a partner,” Frankum said.

The United Ag flagship general store opened in 2014 and is 37,000 square feet of everything that both agricultural producers could need from machine parts and blades to general retail needs like small home wares, pets supplies and locally made jellies, jams and spice blends for home cooking.

The United Ag General Store is located at 907 S. Wharton in El Campo and is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and sells home and garden supplies, pet supplies and footwear.

EL CAMPO CREDIT OFFICE 1807 N. Mechanic St. El Campo, TX 77437 Main : 979-543-3327 • Fax : 979-543-8120 THANK YOU FOR VOTING US TOP 3 FOR AGRICULTURE BUSINESS SUPPORT! 1504 North Mechanic St. El Campo, TX (979) 543-1801 Thank You Wharton County For Your Votes!
4 • Best of Wharton County 2022 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY A G R I C U L T U R E

Winner -

Second Place -

Winner -

Second Place

Runner Up - Audra

Honorable Mention

Winner -

Second Place -

Runner Up -

Honorable Mention -

Winner -

Second Place

Second Place

Honorable Mention

Deere

Winner - Wharton Tractor Company

Second Place - Shoppa’s | John Deere - El Campo

Runner Up - Hlavinka Equipment Company

Honorable Mention - Rice Farmers Co-op., Inc.

1st Place for Best Feed & Farm Equipment Supplies 1105 N Fulton St. Wharton, TX 77488 (979) 532-8533 979-532-3172 Thank You! Wharton County for Voting Us 1st Place: Tractor Service & Parts 2nd Place: Tractor Sales BES t OF: AG ri CU lt U r E Best Ag Insurance
Wiese Crop Insurance.
Ag 1st LLC Runner Up - Bacak Insurance Best Ag Business Support
The First State Bank
- Capital Farm Credit
Rod Smith-El Campo
- Prosperity Bank Best Farm, Feed and Equipment Supplies
Wharton Feed & Supply
United Ag El Campo General Store
Tractor Supply Co
Southern Feed & Supply Best Tractor and Equipment
Hlavinka Equipment Company
TIE - Shoppa’s | John
- El Campo
TIE - Wharton Tractor Company
- Rice Farmers Co-op., Inc. Best Tractor Service & Parts
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 5

DESTINATION FORD

BEST OF THE BEST

It’s not good enough to be just average when the corporate company’s motto is to be the best in the industry.

Destination Ford, formerly Don Elliott Ford, was the first Ford dealership acquired almost two years ago by The Khoury Group, a family of Texas dealerships. The challenges to step into a new market, and to rebuild a dealership not only in terms of sales and service volume, but more importantly to re-acquaint the store to the community is not always an easy journey. Destination Ford has finally arrived.

Destination Ford received top honors when the magazine announced the winners of the Best Of Wharton County for Best Vehicle Dealer, Best Used Car Lot, and Jaye Mills as Best Salesman.

Jaye Mills has been in the automotive industry since 2000, and enjoys the support of his two boys, daughterin-law and two grandchildren.

“We absolutely love working in such a tight-knit community whether it’s here in East Bernard, or any of the surrounding communities such as Wharton, El Campo, Sealy or Columbus,” shares Jaye Mills, general

manager at Destination Ford. “The dealership has welcomed many new people, and we’ve enjoyed meeting the original customers. Plus we feel fortunate to meet so many new faces while we participate in charitable programs especially those that lend a helping hand to children and their families.”

Destination Ford is proud to support the East Bernard High School Senior Class’ Project Graduation with the donation of a 2022 Ford Maverick. All proceeds of ra le ticket sales go towards the East Bernard 2023 graduating senior class. Ticket sales begin Oct. 28, and the winner will be announced during the Senior Serve on Feb. 18, 2023, at Riverside Hall.

At Destination Ford you will find the favorites such as the Ford F-150, F-250, and F-350, plus the popular Ford Expedition and Explorer. The coming year promises an exciting and innovative lineup:

• F-150 Lightning, the all-electric pickup that’s part of the Ford F-Series.

• Mustang Mach-E, an electric SUV that o ers the 0-60 thrill.

6 • Best of Wharton County 2022 A U T O M O T I V E 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY

• Bronco two- and four-door, including Bronco Heritage edition with styling cues from the 1966 original, and special edition off-roaders.

• Bronco Raptor and Bronco Everglades.

• Bronco Sport, a rugged small SUV designed with Bronco styling and off-road capability.

• Maverick, the North American Truck of the Year winner.

• F-150 Raptor RTM, equipped with a supercharged V8 engine.

Ford is investing $22 billion in electrification through 2025 as part of its electrification plan. The company is electrifying its most iconic products – the Mustang, F-150 and Transit – with many more to come in the years ahead.

The Khoury Group, founded by Nick Khoury, operates 17 dealerships throughout Texas, carrying 13 brands: Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Hyundai, Jeep, Ram, Toyota, Mazda, and Mitsubishi. Dealership locations include: Amarillo, Brady, Cleburne, Corpus Christi, Del Rio, Dumas, Eagle Pass, East Bernard, Fort

At the Khoury Group, they say, “we realize that our most valuable asset is our people. We strive to create the best working conditions, the warmest family-like environment, and the strongest team work, whereby creating an atmosphere of total synergy, continuity and productivity.

Our mission is to be the best in the industry among our peers in every aspect of our business, by pursuing the best practices and highest standards of conduct toward our team members, vendors and most especially our customers”

To learn more about the Khoury Group, visit khouryautogroup.com.

Destination Ford is home of the Warranty Forever, a special powertrain coverage for any vehicle under 100,000 miles which covers the engine, transmission, and drive assembly at no additional cost to the customer. Learn more about Warranty Forever at https:// destinationford.com/warranty-forever.htm.

To learn more about Destination Ford, visit destinationford.com.

Stockton, Marble Falls, Mineral Wells and Uvalde.
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 7

Best Car Detailing

Winner

Second

Runner

-

- B.A.

Honorable Mention -

Best Car Salesman

Winner - Jaye Mills -

Second Place - Virgil Quintero - Don Davis

Runner

-

Honorable Mention -

Best Car Wash

Winner - Socha’s

Second

- Marshall’s

Best Oil Change

Winner - Wharton EZ Lube

Second Place - Hoffer’s Lube

Runner Up - Hoelscher Car

Honorable Mention - Miller’s Lube

Best Paint and Body Shop

Winner - Pekar’s Body Shop

Second Place - Stephen’s Auto Body

Runner Up - B K Customz & Collision

Honorable Mention - Medina’s Auto Body & Paint

Best Ser vice and Repair

Winner - Elite Automotive

Second Place - Wharton EZ Lube

Runner Up - Hoelscher Car Care Center

Honorable Mention - REDLINE Autoworks

Best Tires and Repair

Winner - Strouhal Tire

Second Place - Hoffers Lube Express

Runner Up - Impact Tire and Service, LLC

Honorable Mention - Mr. Tire Auto Service Center

Best Used Car Lot

Winner - Destination Ford Second Place - Traditions Chevrolet

Runner Up - Don Davis Motor Co Buick GMC Chevy

Honorable Mention - VonDerAu Ford

Best Vehicle Dealer

Winner - Destination Ford

Second Place - Don Davis Motor Co Buick GMC Chevy Runner Up - VonDerAu Ford Honorable Mention - Wharton Ford

1st Place for Best Oil Change 2nd Place for Best Service and Repair 2502 N Richmond Rd. Wharton, TX 77488 979-531-1107 25110 US 59 El Campo, TX 77437 979-543-7374 Voted #1 Wrecker Service THANK YOU WHARTON COUNTY! BEST OF: AUTOMOTIVE
- Black Diamond Detailing
Place
Pete’s Detail Corner
Up
Savage Detailing-Wharton
Midnight Tinterz
Destination Ford
Motor Company
Up
Mike Hail-Wharton Ford
Michael Phoenix
Car Wash
Place
Car Wash Runner Up - Speedy Stop
Express
Care Center
& Service
MOBILE DETAILING SERVICES • Passenger Vehicles • Commercial Vehicles • RV’s • Tractors • Boats 18 Wheelers/Big Rigs 979-320-7661 • Find us on Facebook FULLY INSURED 8 • Best of Wharton County 2022

BEST OF: SERVICES

Best Attorney

Winner - Audra Rod Smith, Attorney at Law Second Place - James Perez - Law Office of James L. Perez

Runner Up - Amy Rod - Paul Webb, PC Honorable Mention - Paul Webb - Paul Webb, PC

Best Bank

Winner - Prosperity Bank - El Campo Second Place - Woodforest National Bank Runner Up - The First State Bank - El Campo Honorable Mention - First Financial Bank

Best Butcher

Winner - Novak’s Meat Market

Second Place - Vincek’s Smokehouse Runner Up - The Ranch Downtown Honorable Mention - Juniors Smokehouse

Best Credit Union

Winner - Texas Gulf Federal Credit Union - El Campo Second Place - Texas Gulf Federal Credit UnionWharton

Runner Up - Wharton County Teachers CU

Best Dry Cleaner

Winner - Sunshine Laundry & Dry Cleaners Second Place - Lone Star Cleaning & Laundry Runner Up - Modern Cleaners

Best Financial Advisor

Winner - Edward Jones - Financial Advisor: Derek J Macha Second Place - Raymond James - JJ Croix Runner Up - Ann Hundl - Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC Honorable Mention - Edward Jones - Financial Advisor: Jalisa L Zboril

Best Florist

Winner - Flowers Etc & Gifts Etc Second Place - The Flower Shoppe Runner Up - Flowers It Is Honorable Mention - Floral Gardens

Best Funeral Home

Winner - Triska Funeral Home Second Place - Wharton Funeral Home Runner Up - Wheeler Funeral Home Honorable Mention - Matthews Funeral Home

Best Hair Salon

Winner - Infinity Hair Beyond Salon And Spa Second Place - Alicia’s Beauty Salon Runner Up - Shear Glam & Beauty By Yecenia Honorable Mention - Hair By Tiffany Matula

Best

Thank You Wharton County Voted Best Tires & Repairs 96 Years! 2720 N. Richmond Rd. • Wharton, Texas (979)532-5805 • www.pekarsautobody.com Voted 1st Place Best Body Shop Congratulations City-Wide Storage! 1st Place Winner! Marshall’s Car Wash 2nd Place Winner! City-Wide Storage 805 N Richmond Rd • Wharton, TX 77488 979-532-3823 Marshall’s Car Wash 808 N Richmond Rd • Wharton, TX 77488 979-532-3823
of Wharton County 2022 • 9

Sparklight county’s best Internet provider Company committed to serving its communities

Looking for the best Internet provider in Wharton County?

According to voters in the Best of Wharton County that would be El Campo-based Sparklight.

“Sparklight currently o ers speeds up to one Gigabit for residential customers and up to five Gigabits for business customers,” said General Manager Martin Schooley. “With investments of nearly $950 million over the past three years across the company’s footprint, the company is laying the groundwork to launch speeds as fast as 10 Gigabits (10G) and beyond. Delivering speed 10 times faster than today’s networks, 10G will transform the customer experience, creating new possibilities for smart cities, connected homes, virtual and augmented reality and business.”

Sparklight provides Internet, cable TV, and home phone services. Located at 505 N. Mechanic in El Campo, the store is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with 24/7 phone support at 888-863-9928.

“Sparklight is also committed to strengthening the communities we serve through donations of time and resources, including the Sparklight Charitable Giving Fund, which annually awards $250,000 in grants, concentrating support in the areas of education, digital literacy, hunger relief and community development; its Chromebooks for Kids initiative, through which Sparklight has donated nearly 3,000 Chromebooks to Title I schools since 2014; partnerships with the Arbor Day Foundation and Keep America Beautiful,” Schooley said.

For more information, visit sparklight.com.

Back Row: Martin Schooley, John De La Rosa, Melinda Gutierrez, Gloria Rodriguez, Darrell Johansen, Front Row: Vivian Leal, Lupe Gavilla
10 • Best of Wharton County 2022 S E R V I C E S 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY

Best Health Insurance Agent/Agency

Winner - Rod Insurance

Second Place - Danna Insurance

Runner Up - InsuranceNet

Honorable Mention - Lindsey Litton - Health Insurance Agent

Best Home/Auto/Life Insurance Agent/Agency

Winner - TWFG - Cockrell Insurance

Second Place - Rod Insurance Group LLC

Runner Up - Farmers Insurance - Gary Krenek

Honorable Mention - Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Company

Best Income Tax Preparation

Winner - Stephenson, LeGrand & Pfeil, PLLC Accounting Firm

Second Place - K. Kelley & Company, Inc.

Runner Up - Briggs & Veselka Co

Honorable Mention - Dobbins & Sheek CPA’s, PLLC

Best Internet Service

Winner - Sparklight - Wharton

Second Place - Sparklight - El Campo

Runner Up - Wirehand Wireless - WCEC

Honorable Mention - AT&T Store

State

It’s true! Thanks to a continued focus on family and service, The First State Bank was recently nominated in the 2022 Best of Wharton County Contest.

Now that’s

Best Law Firm

Winner - Paul Webb, PC

Second Place - Audra Rod Smith, Attorney At Law

Runner Up - Duckett Bouligny & Collins

Honorable Mention - Wadler Perches Hundl & Kerlick

Best Lawn Care

Winner - Professional Lawn Care

Second Place - Texas Coast Yard Maintenance LLC

Runner Up - J&R Services

friendly! Did you know … The First
Bank
is an
award-winner? FSBLouise.com | Member FDIC Our family helping your family at a time when family matters most. Thank you Wharton County for letting us be there when it’s most needed. Family owned and operated since 1929 JIMMIE & CECI TRISKA 612 Merchant Street • El Campo El Campo’s only locally family owned and operated since 1929
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 11

Winner

Winner

Honorable

Therapy

Trades

Winner - El Campo

Second

Winner

Second

Honorable

-

Best Pet Boarding

Winner - Wharton Veterinary Clinic

Second Place - Country Pets LLC

Runner Up - Coastal Plains Animal Clinic

Honorable Mention - The Paw Pad

Best Pet Grooming

Winner - Pawlished Groomery

Second Place - Wharton Veterinary Clinic

Runner Up - Country Pets LLC

Honorable Mention - Coastal Plains Animal Clinic

Best

Winner - Elated Photography

Second Place - HG Ranch Photography

Runner Up - Virtue & Vow Photography

Honorable Mention TIE- AMB Photography - El Campo

Honorable Mention TIE- KGibson Photography

Best Vet

Winner - Wharton Veterinary Clinic

Second Place - El Campo Animal Hospital

Runner Up - Alamont Veterinary Clinic

Honorable Mention - Coastal Plains Animal Clinic

Best Wrecker Service

Winner - Gene’s Wrecker Tire & Truck Repair

Second Place - Poor Farms Wrecker Services & Building

Runner Up - Always Ready

Honorable Mention - Allgayers Big Red LLC

ROD INSURANCE GROUP Thank You For Voting Us Your #1 Health Insurance Agency! INSURANCE SOLUTIONS YOU CAN TRUST • Home • Auto • Commercial • Employee Benefits • Health • Life 601 E. Jackson St., El Campo, TX 77437 979-543-8884 www.rodinsurancegroup.com Best Massage
TIE- Kacey Lee Luna, LMT
TIE- Overflow Wellness Studio Runner Up - Relaxation Therapy - Massage & Bodywork
Mention - Vivid Faces Best Metal
Sheet Metal LLC
Place
Multi-Fab Metals Best Nail Salon
- Classy Nail Spa
Place - Fancy Nails Runner Up - Pisces Nail Salon
Mention - Superior Nail Bar
Photographer
12 • Best of Wharton County 2022
sparklight.com/gig LIFE MOVES FAST. YOUR INTERNET SHOULD TOO. That’s why Sparklight brings you lightning-fast internet at speeds up to 1 Gig on a reliable fiber-powered network with local service you can count on. It’s a stronger connection so you can live life at any speed you want. Up to 940 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload speeds. Visit sparklight.com/gig for details

motto

Pride

Estate owner

Morton

has continued her quest to be the best

and her associates are making their mark on the Wharton real estate market because they are concerned about their clients and their personal needs.

started selling real estate in 2016 and worked the next four years for Century 21 in Wharton. On Jan. 1, 2021, Perez joined Country Pride Real Estate and opened her own office in Wharton.

She’s been so successful that she now has nine more agents working with her, covering surrounding areas from El Campo to Edna and Port Lavaca to Sugar Land. Although the office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,

she and her staff are available to show properties as needed seven days a week.

“We are best known for our friendly personalities, honesty, and hard work,” Perez said. “We strive to make everyone’s real estate needs a reality.”

In addition to residential, coast and farm and ranch real estate, Country Pride does all they can to help buyers and sellers, and they do have a mortgage loan originator on staff.

For more information, call 979-332-0753 or stop by the office at 1733 Carter in Wharton.

JAMES L. PEREZ ATTORNEY AT LAW The Law Office of James L. Perez 105 W Burleson St. Wharton, Texas 77488 Lawdoggg.com CALL THE LAWDOGGG 979-532-5500 Hablamos Español Category: Best Attorney #2 Attorney, Wharton County Wharton Veterinary Clinic Large Animals • Small Animals • Boarding • Grooming Repro Services • 24-Hour Emergency Services 1518 Highway 60 South • Wharton, Texas 77488 979•532•1431 1st place winner Vet and Pet Boarding 2nd place winner Pet Grooming With the
of “Let us go the country mile for you,” Country
Real
Lisa
Perez
realtor in town. She
Perez
Country Pride Real Estate goes the country mile for you 14 • Best of Wharton County 2022
1st Place Real Estate Firm 2nd place Realtor Lisa Perez 3rd place Realtor Brian Hargrove 1733 Carter Street, Wharton, TX 77488 Office: 979-533-0730 Cell: 979-332-0753 broker@countrypridetx.com www.countrypridetx.com
Thank You Wharton County It Is An Honor To Keep You & Your Family Safe & Insured 609 N. Mechanic • El Campo, TX 77437 jcockrell@twfg.com • sspring@twfg.com #1 Flooring & Carpet in Wharton County! JJ Bubela's FLOOR CENTER, INC. 1207 West Loop, El Campo, TX 77437 (979) 543-5500 jjbubelas@att.net Carpet, Vinyl, Ceramic Tile, Wood & Planking •FULLY STOCKED WAREHOUSE •FREE ESTIMATES 401 N. Mechanic, El Campo 979-543-6441 www.ffin.com Banking By Texans For Texans! • Home Loans • Personal Loans • Commercial Banking • Wealth Management MEMBER FDIC Thank You Wharton County For Your Votes! 16 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Children excel, grow at their First School

It’s not bragging when it’s true, and First School in El Campo genuinely is the best day care in the county, according to voters in 2022 Best of Wharton County.

Their approach, director Bree Joines said, is to include God in the lives of their little charges right along with joy as discovery all that their world hold.

“We go the extra mile for the families and we o er many special programs at our facility. We strive to create memorable moments for our children and families,” Joines said. “We recognize and appreciate needs and celebrate di erences and culture. We always approach each day with prayer and Bible class.”

First School, owned and managed by First Lutheran Church at 304 Oscar in El Campo, is a four star Texas Rising Star provider, the highest possible rating Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Child Care Services program. Only one other daycare in Wharton County, located in Wharton, shares the distinction, according to the Texas Child Care Availability Portal operated by TWC.Also a Texas School Ready provider, the center uses a state-adopted curriculum and requires primary sta to be early childhood teacher certified or have a teaching degree.Both of these ratings help ensure parents can trust the care their more than 100 little ones receive from the 25 workers at First School.

“We achieve this through daily experiences we share as well as our seasonal activities,” Joines said. “We are the only childcare that hosts a Strutters dance class to our current students each week during the day.” Strutters o ers children 18 months to four years old a chance to don their tutus or tap to the music learning everything from coordination and flexibility to

teamwork via a method sure to delight.

Opened in 1987, the church program has expanded greatly over the years and will continue to grow.“We have a new daycare in the plans for being built on our back lot and we recently bought a house that is next door to the school being renovated for more classrooms,” Joines said. “We continue to grow and strive to meet the needs of the community for quality childcare. We give God all the glory for everything we have and how far we have come.”

For more about First School, including rates, placement availability and o erings, please visit the campus or call (979) 5437075. First School is open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 17 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY C H I L D R E N E D U C A T I O N

After School Program

Winner - Just Do It Now, Inc

Second Place - Pilgrim Rest El Campo After School Activities Program

Runner Up - Boy’s & Girl’s Club-El Campo

Honorable Mention - The First School Coach

Winner - Danny Gaona - Wharton High School

Second Place - Alina Valenzuela

Runner Up - Coach Jonathan Gibson - Boling High School

Honorable Mention - Michael Hogan-Herrera - Hogan’s Victory Kickboxing & Karate

Day Care

Winner - The First School

Second Place - Methodist Child Care Services

Runner Up - Small Blessings Child Care Center

Honorable Mention TIE- Little Brahma Barn Preschool Honorable Mention TIE- Presbyterian Preschool

Teacher

Winner - Brittany Rives - Northside Elementary School

Second Place - Jessica Drapela

Runner Up TIE- Brooke Hlavinka - El Campo High School

Runner Up TIE- Kaitlyn HooperSivells Elementary Runner Up TIE- Lori Heard

Boling Independent School District

Best CoaCh

RunneR up

Jonathan Gibson

Head Coach • Boling ISD

Head Coach Girls Basketball Boling High School

Head Cross Country Coach Boling High School Head Tennis Coach Boling High School

1st Place Best coach Wharton high school

Daniel Gaona

High School Football Special Teams Coordinator

High School Powerlifting Head Coach

runner uP Best teacher sivells elementary

Kaitlyn Hooper Special Ed Paraprofessional

BEST OF: CHILDREN & EDUCATION
18 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Wharton coach stands out for efforts

Bachelors of Arts in humanities in 2016. He started his career coaching for six years in the Louise ISD.

who is the

the

School, was chosen as the county’s best coach for 2022. He is a special

teacher at Wharton Junior High School.

unreal,” he said of the vote.

this county and the people in it.

extremely grateful for this honor.

the other coaches’ names that were nominated and those are some amazing

Some of them have done some

things in their career and to even be in the same conversation with them is a blessing.”

Gaona, 39, graduated from Wharton High School in 2001. He attended Wharton County Junior College and the University of Houston-Victoria, graduating with a

He said the best part about his job is seeing the progress his students make. “I love my kids, watching them grow academically, athletically and as a person is very rewarding. The students and athletes I have been able to work with throughout the years have taught me so much and I only hope they have learned from me as well,” he said.

Gaona and his wife Venessa have three sons: Daniel Gaona III, Andres Antonio Gaona and Ein Joaquin Gaona. Gaona is active in the community, especially with youth sports.

“I love to lift weights, barbecue and spend time with my family,” he said. “I have volunteered in my community by coaching Little league baseball, youth football, and youth soccer for many years. I’m currently a member of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens). I love Star Wars and comic books.”

Need A Last Minute Gift? Shop Local! The City Development Corporation of El Campo offers a variety of assistance and incentives for qualifying businesses. Visit www.elcampoeco.org or call 979.543.6727 Looking for Workforce and Vocational Training Opportunities? The Northside Education Center may have what you’re looking for! • Three Certified Nurse Aide Classes Per Year • Phlebotomy Classes Financial Assistance and Payment Plans Available! Visit www.northsidecenter.com or call 979.543.6750 PROUDLY SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES! A Wharton native and junior high teacher has been voted as Wharton County’s best coach. Daniel Gaona,
varsity special teams coordinator for football and
head powerlifting coach at Wharton High
education
“It’s
“I love
I’m
I saw
coaches.
great
DANIEL GAONA
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 19

Keeping on the Sunnyside

A Local Watering Hole With The Coldest Beer

The “sunny side” is definitely outside at the Sunnyside Saloon on 1214 S Mechanic St. Inside it is dark and cozy. Cozy is a pretty good word for this bar. Terrific mood lighting and friendly patrons make you feel at home the minute you walk in. Owner Allison Bundick and her partner Casey Bundick keep the atmosphere light in the dimly lit bar.

Allison has been working at the bar for 17 years and, come November, celebrates her anniversary as owner.

“I bought the bar from a couple of the nicest people I’ve met, Sheldon and Karen Holub,” she said.

“We love our customers, and our customers are so loyal,” Allison said. Whether they’re setting up a feast for Monday night football or serving the pool league teams, everyone wears a smile.

It’s not surprising the bar won Best: Coldest Beer, they don’t serve liquor but they do provide setups. Not a lot of people bring liquor to the bar, just soda, water or iced tea. Every now and then someone will make a run for brisket tacos from a barbecue joint nearby.

“A lot of the customers are the same friendly faces we’ve seen for years,” Casey said. A lot of the daytime regulars are blue-collar, hardworking farmers and ranchers, oilfield workers or old-timers looking to start up a game of dominoes.

As the day wears on and the night moves in, the younger crowd begins showing up for pool playing and conversation. Wednesday and Thursday are league

nights for pool players and friendly competition usually begins with practice sessions and some upbeat music on the jukebox. Not your ordinary jukebox from the “Happy Days” era but a modern jukebox accessible by an app.

The owners have worked hard to clean up and renovate the patio that extends the cozy inside to a casual drinking and dining experience outside.

Allison said the patio has been a big hit, especially when the weather cools a little and the big fans start circulating air that’s not hot and humid. The music inside is audible outside as well, but people can still hear themselves talk.

“We try to make new people feel welcome, we keep things lively,” Allison said. The bar regularly hosts bands and DJs, offers drink specials and hosts special events for holidays.

Asked what they’re most proud of? Sunnyside now sponsors the black bear exhibit at the Texas Zoo.

Ruben Gaona of El Campo racks up for a league game of eight-ball pool. Tiffany Rodriguez of El Campo sets her cue on a rack of nine-ball pool for her practice break.
20 • Best of Wharton County 2022 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY E N T E R T A I N M E N T

BEST OF: ENTERTAINMENT & SOCIAL

Spot

Winner - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill

Second Place - Schellers Bar & Grill

Runner Up - Sunnyside Saloon

Honorable Mention - Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Winner - Blake George

Second Place - Chris Shorter

Runner Up - Rustic Sounds

Honorable Mention - ALL PLAY DJ/DJ ROBB Festival

Winner - Monterey Square Wine and Arts Fair

Second Place - El Campo Prairie Day Festival

Runner Up - St Philips Church Picnic - El Campo

Honorable Mention - Czech Kolache-Klobase Festival

Music Venue

Winner - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill

Second Place - Sunnyside Saloon

Runner Up - El Campo Lost Lagoon

Honorable Mention - J’s Patio

Winner - Scheller’s Bar & Grill

Second Place - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill

Runner Up - Sunnyside Saloon

Honorable Mention - Caddie’s Park

Winner - Legacy Park

Second Place - Dinosaur Park

Runner Up - Friendship Park

Honorable Mention - Zlotnik Park

gather

room

have fun.

Wedding/Party Venue

Winner - The Rustic Chandelier

Second Place - Simply Divine Lunch & Tea Room

Runner Up - The Orchard at Caney Creek

Honorable Mention - El Campo Civic Center

The Rustic Chandelier Thank You Wharton County! therusticchandelier.com 5472 N. Fm 441 S El Campo S (979) 637-0993 Owned & Operated by David & Donna Kutac and Family Voted #1 Best wedding venue
Date
DJ
Live
Nightlife
Domino
tables at the front, pool tables in the middle and
a patio out back give plenty of
for patrons to
and
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 21

New Wharton business offers tasty, unique fare

Rooster’s 2 Go Waffles-Wings and More has taken flight since opening its doors in July.

The restaurant was voted as having the best wings in Wharton County, along with being the runner-up for best food truck.

“Rooster’s 2 Go Waffle and Wings is your homemade chicken, waffle and more,” said James Riley, who owns the business with his wife Petra.

“We started five years ago in a church kitchen and then eventually purchased a food truck. We have traveled to many local cities and surrounding counties. What has made us who we are is we stand behind our food. Once you sit down and have a meal, you are no longer a customer, you are family. With that being said, we are not another fast food joint. Our food is always fresh and cooked to order. One of our famous quotes is, ‘We don’t cook it until you order it.’,”

Located at 106 W. Boling Highway in Wharton, the restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We at R2G have set high standards for our food quality and ensure each and every one of our guests receives the same quality and quantity with every meal,” Riley said. “Our objective is to satisfy our customers with home cooked meals and in a relaxing atmosphere.”

Riley said he credits God with giving him the vision for the business.

“What started off in a church kitchen has now expanded to a food truck and a brick and mortar. It has been a process, my wife and I have trusted God throughout the whole process. We are currently looking into expanding our business as we are expecting to open another location within the next year,” he said.

R2G can be reached at 979-532-1753 or by visiting www. roosters-2-go.business.site.

Pulling into the parking lot is like pulling into a memory, one of a simpler time of welcoming highway way stations offering weary travelers a friendly face, a plate of hot food or just a bit of sustenance before facing yet more time hearing the tires hum. While restaurants offer food and convenience stores provide the quick snacks, Juniors Smokehouse situated on U.S. 59 about six miles west of Wharton offers both of those and much more.

“It is our goal to have a one-on-one interaction of some sort with every person that walks in the smokehouse, our commitment to high quality personal service and high quality products is what I believe makes each visit to Junior’s a memorial experience,” said Lane Tobola, one of the businesses owners. Barbecue? Kolaches? Fresh-baked cookies? Jerky made in the family factory less than 15 miles away? Or, perhaps, just a bottle of root beer you can’t find in a grocery store?

Locals intermingle with travelers, enjoying a Best Of Wharton County first place chicken salad recipe or other tasty lunches.

Tobola and his wife Stephanie now own Juniors Smokehouse and Bakery, 164 CR 467, in Wharton. The business opened in 2005 with other family members at the helm. “Junior’s Smokehouse was originally started because of a desire to have a locally owned and operated business that brought value to the community of Wharton County by using the recipes and traditions of the past. The desire to represent Wharton County in a

positive manner while providing premier products and first class service is still the ‘why’ for Juniors Smokehouse.”

In that time, the staff has grown to 30 employees who do everything from stock the shelves and man the cash registers to bake tasty treats or process a deer for a hunter.

Voters in the 2022 Best of Wharton County awarded the company second place for their jerky, one actually created under the name Uncle Ervin’s, as well as their sausage, in addition to honorable mention for their kolaches and butcher services. The store offers 18 choices in smoked sausage along with barbecue and other hot plate selections, homemade bread, a selection of gift items and deer corn.

Juniors Smokehouse is open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Visit juniorsjerky.com/smokehouse to learn more.

And, Tobola says, if stopping by make sure you pick up one of the 19 varieties of jerky Uncle Ervin’s produces in Wharton County.

22 • Best of Wharton County 2022 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY F O O D D R I N K

Excellence in catering caused Reyna’s Cafe in Hungerford to be named the best caterer in Wharton County. They also placed second in steaks, and runner-up in family dining and iced tea.

July 6 was their 10th anniversary. Owners Frank and Rachel Reyna and their son Frank Andrew spend as much time as they can in the day-to-day operation of the

Reyna’s Cafe

business. Rachel is the general manager.

“I think that us being at the café for the majority of the time makes a big difference,” she said. “We do our best to go out and say hello and visit. It makes a huge difference.”

The Reynas and their 12 employees feed their customers six days a week with a variety of homemade specialties, including steaks, cakes, pies, desserts, Rachel’s famous salad and hand battered onion rings. “If you ask my husband and my son, we opened the café to give me something to do,” Rachel said good naturedly. The cafe was their solution.

Reyna’s has an outstanding reputation for each of their daily lunch specials that include a large glass of tea, brewed to Texas perfection.

The café is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with a big, all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet on Saturdays. Reyna’s is located 7902 Highway 59 North Business in Hungerford. Visit www.reynas.cafe. Call-in orders can be placed at 979-531-0880.

Bar-B-Cue & Catering 1st Place Catering Runner Up Family Dining & Ice Tea 2nd Place Steak 979-531-0880 7902 HWY 59 N Hungerford, TX Thank You for Voting for Us 48 Years of Service 389 Current Employees 2 Locations Countless customers who have become family. All this, because of you! THANK YOU!
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 23

When Charles Ray and Lois Vincek first opened

Smokehouse in July of 1985, they had no idea how successful

venture would be.

Located at 139 Dill St. in East Bernard, it has grown from humble beginnings 37 years ago to the thriving food business that it is today. Vincek’s Smokehouse has not only been named the top barbecue place in Wharton County, they’ve also been named by Texas Monthly as one of the 50 best places for barbecue in Texas.

Customers are welcome to shop with them every day of the week, except Monday, for fresh meats, homemade sausage, their famous fresh-cooked barbecue and their bakery, which includes fresh baked kolaches, cookies, pies and cakes.

Lois, the matriarch of the Vincek family, took over running the operation after Charlie’s death in December of 2016. Her children are part of the day-to-day activity.

provides excellent customer service for everything from their store, including catering for parties

or family gatherings. Their in-store deli serves daily lunch specials with their freshly prepared meals using delicious family recipes.

Vincek’s Smokehouse is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. They can be reached by phone at 979-335-7921 or online at www.vincekssmokehouseinc.com

The New Kid on the Block Everyone is Talking About! R2G Waffle 106 West Boling Hwy • Wharton, Texas 979-532-1753 Thank You Wharton County For Voting Us 1st Place Wings and Runner Up Food Truck Thanks to our fantastic staff and amazing customers for making this happen. We appreciate you all. 419 Main St. East Bernard, TX 77435 979-335-7533 Runner Up Best Pizza in Wharton County!
Vincek’s
their
Vincek’s
. 24 • Best of Wharton County 2022

A rather nondescript building out on FM 1301 in Boling has a sign that reads, “Mach’s Restaurant. Hamburgers. Enchiladas. Homemade Pies.” Besides having great enchiladas and burgers, the ever popular chicken-fried steak is a big draw to this little restaurant.

Jennifer Peña manages the restaurant for owners Chad and Laura Bickham. Peña has been managing the restaurant since 1999, starting her career at Mach’s when the Bickham’s purchased the business.

“I love it here, I love the people,” Peña said. “In 2002 my husband and I were married and we built a house across from the post office.”

The post office is just a few blocks away in a small town that’s center is a four-way stoplight, and not much else.

“We have a good reputation,” Peña said. “We have a good crowd, especially on game nights during football.”

The restaurant has a varied, Tex-Mex menu and features desserts by Peggy’s Homemade Pies.

Thursday’s dinner crowd often packs in for their enchilada special - chicken enchiladas with a white sauce, beans and rice on request, and some good ice tea. Often there is a line of vehicles at the drive-through

on Thursdays and Fridays that almost backs up onto the Farm to Market road.

While Mach’s won second place for Best Enchiladas, the “Mach Burger” has quite a reputation in the Boling/Iago area. The menu also features grilled and crispy chicken salads, beef and chicken taco salads, catfish and shrimp entrées and more.

Just 12 minutes outside of Wharton, and about 25 minutes from El Campo, Mach’s is a must try for home style dining.

2nd Place Best Butcher 2nd Place Best Chicken Salad 2nd Place Best Kolache Thank You Wharton County For voting us: GM GM GM GM GM GM GM GM GM GM GMGM GM GM GM GM GMGM 979-618-0966 • www.georgiamaesge.com Follow us on Facebook! You Have Voted Georgia Mae’s #1 Best Food Truck #2 Best Wings Georgia Mae’s Was Also Nominated for Best Breakfast Taco, Best Burgers, Best Catering, Best Family Dining, Best Iced Tea and Best Sandwiches/Subs THANK YOU WHARTON COUNTY! GM GM
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 25

Best Bakery

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse

Second Place - Amy’s Cookie Co. and Bakery

Runner Up - Cookies by B Honorable Mention TIE- The Breakfast Nook Honorable Mention TIE- Vincek’s Smokehouse

Best BBQ

Winner - Pitt Viper BBQ

Second Place - Hinze’s Bar-B-Que

Runner Up - Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q & Catering Honorable Mention - Mustang Creek Bar-B-Que

Best Breakfast Taco

Winner - La Dianita’s Tacos

Second Place - Taquerias las Regias Runner Up - The Breakfast Nook Honorable Mention - Daylight Donuts

Best Buffet

Winner - Freddie’s

Second Place - Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q & Catering

Runner Up - Mr. Gatti’s Pizza Honorable Mention - La Dianitas Tacos

Best Burgers

Winner - Father & Sons Grill

Second Place - Emil’s Old Fashion Burger Runner Up - Taco Citos Food Truck Honorable Mention - Freddie’s

Best Burrito

Winner - Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Second Place - Casa Hernandez Runner Up - Damon’s Real Texas BBQ Honorable Mention - Los Cucos Mexican Cafe

Best Catering

Winner - Reyna’s Cafe

Second Place - Pitt Viper BBQ Runner Up - Hinze’s Bar-B-Que Honorable Mention - Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q & Catering

Best Chicken Fried Steak

Winner - Lone Star Cafe

Second Place - Hinze’s Country Kitchen

Runner Up - 9ers Grill Wharton Honorable Mention - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill

1031 MAIN ST EAST BERNARD, TX 77435 P : (979) 335-4313 lupesmexicancafe.com/ 2nd Place Winner: Mexican Cuisine & Salsa Runner Up: Fajitas & Margarita’s
26 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Best Chicken Salad

Winner - Juniors Smokehouse

Second Place - Vincek’s Smokehouse

Runner Up - Molli B’s Coffee Cafe

Honorable Mention - 3 in 1 Fitness

Best Coffee

Winner - Molli B’s Coffee Cafe

Second Place - Glory Bean Coffee Co. Runner Up - McDonald’s Honorable Mention TIE- Paint Perfection

Honorable Mention TIE- The Breakfast Nook

Coldest Beer

Winner - Sunnyside Saloon

Second Place - The Beer Ranch

Runner Up - Scheller’s Bar and Grill

Honorable Mention - Beer:30

Best Cookie

Winner - Amy’s Cookie Co. and Bakery

Second Place - Cookies by B Runner Up - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse

Honorable Mention - Buc-ee’s

Best Crawfish

Winner - Pincher’s Restaurant Second Place - The Crawfish Bus Runner Up - The Beer Ranch

Best Enchiladas

Winner - Casa Hernandez

Second Place - Mach’s Restaurant Runner Up - Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Honorable Mention TIE- Laura’s Cafe Honorable Mention TIE- Los Cucos Mexican Cafe

Best Fajitas

Winner - Los Cucos Mexican Cafe

Second Place - Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Runner Up - Lupe’s Mexican Cafe

Honorable Mention - La Casona Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Best Family Dining

Winner - Lone Star Cafe

Second Place - Hinze’s Country Kitchen

Runner Up - Reyna’s Cafe

Honorable Mention - Casa Hernandez

Best Fast Food

Winner - Whataburger

Second Place - Sonic Drive-In Runner Up - Burger King - Wharton

Honorable Mention - McDonald’s

Best Food Truck

Winner - Georgia Mae’s Good Eats

Second Place - Taco Citos Food Truck

Runner Up - R2G Waffle- Wings and More L.L.C Honorable Mention - Karl’s Food Truck

Best Healthy Menu

Winner - The Feed Store Restaurant Second Place - 3 in 1 Fitness Runner Up - Subway Honorable Mention - Simply Divine Lunch & Tea Room

Best Iced Tea

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse Second Place - Pitt Viper BBQ Runner Up - Reyna’s Cafe

Honorable Mention - Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q & Catering

Best Jerky

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse

Second Place - Juniors Smokehouse/Uncle Ervin’s Runner Up - Vincek’s Smokehouse

Honorable Mention - Buc-ee’s - Wharton

Best Kolache

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse Second Place - Vincek’s Smokehouse Runner Up - Juniors Smokehouse Honorable Mention - The Breakfast Nook

Best Margarita

Winner - Los Cucos Mexican Cafe Second Place - The Beer Ranch Runner Up - Lupe’s Mexican Cafe Honorable Mention - La Casona Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Best Mexican Cuisine

Winner - Jalapeno’s Cuisine Second Place - Lupe’s Mexican Cafe Runner Up - Casa Hernandez Honorable Mention TIE- La Casona Mexican Restaurant & Cantina Honorable Mention TIE- Los Cucos Mexican Cafe

Best Pizza

Winner - Mr Gatti’s Pizza Second Place - Domino’s Pizza Runner Up - Simple Simon’s Pizza Honorable Mention - Pizza Hut - El Campo

Best Queso

Winner - Casa Hernandez Second Place - Los Cucos Mexican Cafe - El Campo Runner Up - Jalapeno’s Cuisine Honorable Mention - Lupe’s Mexican Cafe

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 27

Best Restaurant

Winner - Pitt Viper BBQ

Second Place - Casa Hernandez

Runner Up TIE- Hinze’s Country Kitchen

Runner Up TIE- Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Best Restaurant Service

Winner - Pitt Viper BBQ

Second Place - Lone Star Cafe

Runner Up - Hinze’s Country Kitchen

Honorable Mention - Reyna’s Cafe

Best Salsa

Winner - Casa Hernandez

Second Place - Lupe’s Mexican Cafe

Runner Up - Los Cucos Mexican Cafe

Honorable Mention - Reyna’s Cafe

Best Sandwiches/Subs

Winner - Father & Sons Grill

Second Place - Subway

Runner Up - Molli B’s Coffee Cafe

Honorable Mention - Georgia Mae’s Good Eats

Best Sausage

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse

Second Place - Juniors Smokehouse

Runner Up - Pitt Viper BBQ

Honorable Mention - Novak’s Meat Market

Best Seafood

Winner - Pincher’s Restaurant

Second Place - Hinze’s Country Kitchen

Runner Up - Christine’s Seafood

Honorable Mention - Best Seafood & Steak House

Best Steak

Winner - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill

Second Place - Reyna’s Cafe

Runner Up - Wharton Country Club

Honorable Mention - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse

Best Wings

Winner - Rooster’s 2 Go Wings and Waffles

Second Place - Pizza Hut

Runner Up - Georgia Mae’s Good Eats

Honorable Mention - The Hot Box

La Dianita’s Tacos Thank You Wharton County For Voting Our Breakfast Tacos 1st Place! 1204 S. Mechanic, El Campo Texas 77437 979-541-5501
28 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Linda Butcher, center, owner of Therapy Solutions 4 U, greets guests to her open house last summer in celebration of her 10th year in business in Wharton. She provides individual therapy, marriage and family therapy, and child and adolescent counselling.

Therapy Solutions 4U
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 29 H E A L T H 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY

Winner

Honorable Mention - Saiz

Winner -

Second Place -

Up - Blake

Honorable Mention - El Campo

Winner - Brian M. Swenson, DDS

Place - Boehm Dental

Hospital/Clinic

Winner - OakBend Medical Center - Wharton Hospital Campus

Second Place - El Campo Memorial Hospital

Runner Up - Melissa Kainer Erwin Medical & Cosmetic Dermatology

Honorable Mention - MEHOP Family Medicine & Behavioral Health - Wharton

Runner Up - El Campo

Elizabeth C. Cheng, DDS, FAGD

Honorable Mention - Abby Dental

Winner -

Place - AccentCare

Up - Sacred

Contact us Today to Learn More About our Disease Management & Specialty Programs and how we can help you stay healthy at home! THANK YOU Wharton for voting us the BEST HOME HEALTH AGENCY in our community and letting us serve you! Care Home Health An AngMar Managed Company 100% medicare coverage Proudly Serving: WHARTON & Surrounding Areas 979-282-2629 angelscarehealth.com • @ AngelsCareHH @ Your Angels Care Home Health Team Says: BENSON Chiropractor Dr. Zach Benson offers over 30 years of experience bringing you his personal health and back pain expertise. • Chiropractic Care • Electrical Muscle Stimulation • Trigger Point Therapy • PEMF Therapy • Nutrition Consulting 301 N. Mechanic Ste. A El Campo, TX 77437 (979) 543-8600 chiropractorbaycity.net BEST OF: HEALTH CARE Chiropractor
- Domino Chiropractic PLLC Second Place - Wharton Chiropractic Runner Up - Carolyn Bubela
Chiropractic Center Counseling Services
Turning Leaf Counseling & Education Center
Linda Butcher Runner
Benson
Family Counseling Dentist
Second
Dental Clinic:
Home Health Provider
Angels Care Home Health Second
| Home Health Runner
Care Home Health
30 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Optometrist

Priscilla Metcalf, M.D.

P.A.

Second

Wharton

Campo

Honorable

Campo

Wharton

Keith J. Ermis, O.D. - Berkeley

Karl M. Ermis, O.D. -

Ermis -

Center

Center -

Eye Center -

H-E-B Pharmacy -

Campo

H-E-B Pharmacy - Wharton

- Walgreens

Dr. Brooke

Place - Dr. Mark A. Marconi,

- Clay Zboril - Mid Coast Medical Clinic

- Salman

Sarfraz

It’s a sincere honor to care for you Wharton County. Thank you!
Brooke Dorotik,
M.D. •
El Campo Memorial
Hospital 1114 N. Fulton Street, Wharton, TX 77488 Hours: 10 am – 6 pm, Monday - Friday 979-282-8100 Linda Butcher – Owner, Lead Therapist 2nd Place Winner for Counseling Services Wharton Eye Associates 10119 US HWY 59 South Wharton, Texas 77488 (979) 533-7337 Lifestyle Vision 10119 US HWY 59 South Wharton, Texas 77488 (979) 488-2781 Linda Voulgaris 2nd Place Most Help Employee Dr. Priscilla Metcalf, M.D. 1st Place Best Ophthalmologist Thank You, Wharton County for Voting for Us!
Winner - Dr.
-
Eye Association.
Place -
Eye
-
Runner Up -
Berkeley Eye
El
Mention - Kayci
Berkeley
El
Pharmacy Winner -
El
Second Place -
Runner Up
Honorable Mention - Savon Drugs Physician Winner -
Dorotik Second
DO Runner Up
El Campo Honorable Mention
Aly MD &
Aly MD Wharton, Texas (979) 532-2871 Winner - Pest Control Best of Wharton County 2022 • 31

Roberson Heating and Air trusted name in Wharton

When it comes to heating and air conditioning, the people of Wharton County turn to a trusted name –Roberson Air Conditioning.

Voted the best heating and air conditioning business in Wharton County, Roberson Air is in its second generation of ownership.

Founded in 1991 by Ray Roberson, the company is now operated by his three sons, Michael, Joe and Jacob. They bought their father out in 2012 when he retired at the age of 53.

Michael Robeson said the business is best known for “fast-service, integrity, and reliability. We pride ourselves in making our customers happy and comfortable.

“We commit to being the highest quality contractor available by offering a strong positive family presence in the community and providing an exceptional customer service experience as we focus on innovative comfort and energy savings backed by our family name,” he said.

The company provides HVAC installation and repair, HVAC maintenance, indoor air quality service, mini-split service and installations, vinyl window replacement, and home energy saving solutions. Like many businesses, Roberson Air Conditioning was started to meet a need in the

community.

“Ray Roberson saw a need for honest, prompt A/C service. He started this business to support his family and offer services to other families in Wharton and the surrounding areas,” Michael Roberson said. “Our goal is to extend our reach by offering more homes and businesses our family service agreement and expert home services. As we grow, we want to continue to be a family legacy of home comfort by offering the same reliability and integrity that our father started 31 years ago.”

Roberson Air Conditioning is located at 200 E. Milam in Wharton. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To contact them, call 979532-5101 or visit robersonac.com.

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 33 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY H O M E S E R V I C E S

BEST OF:

Winner - Jose De Jesus Estrada

Second Place - G R Construction

Runner Up - J&R Services - Joe Salazar

Honorable Mention - Dream Maker Construction

Winner - Hobo Electric

Second Place - Barbee Electric Service, Inc.

Runner Up - H&M Electrical Services, LLC

Honorable Mention - Penner Electric Inc

Best Flooring/Carpet

Winner - J J Bubela’s Floor Center Inc

Second Place - El Campo Carpet One Floor & Home

Runner Up - Sutherlands

Best Glass Company

Winner - Lone Star Glass Inc

Second Place - Big G Auto Glass

Best Heating and Air

Winner - Roberson Air Conditioning

Second Place - Cannell Air Conditioning & Heating

Runner Up - Eldridge Air Conditioning & Heating

Honorable Mention - E.B. Air, LLC

North

West Jackson St.

Campo, TX 77437

NEW:

Best Home Cleaner

Winner - Stacy Spring

Second Place - Mann Maids Runner Up - Oakman’s Spotless Cleaning

Best Homebuilder

Winner - Dream Maker Construction

Second Place - G R Construction Runner Up - BLS Construction Inc

Honorable Mention - Exuma Construction and Development LLC

Walnut St.

TX 78934

a

(979) 532 1512

Wharton Fax: (979) 282 2414

El Campo (979) 543 1369

El Campo Fax: (979) 543 1240

Columbus (979) 733 0440

HOBO Electric 1315 S. Mechanic El Campo, TX 979-541-3799 Voted Your #1 Electrical Service Company In Wharton County Eldon Penner, Owner 1st Place BEST TITLE COMPANY Wharton Office 111
Fulton St. Wharton, TX 77488 El Campo Office 207
El
Columbus Office 410
Columbus,
Open Hours Monday-Friday: 8:30AM-12:00PM & 1:00PM to 5:00PM Give Us
Call Wharton
HOME SERVICES Best Contractor
Best Electrical
34 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Best Pest Control

Winner - Bugmobile Pest & Termite Control

Second Place - Safeguard Pest Control

Runner Up - Gillen Pest Control

Honorable Mention - El Campo Spraying Inc

Best Plumbing

Winner - Gary Tupa Plumbing & Supply

Second Place - Mason’s Plumbing Co.

Runner Up - Seaman’s Plumbing

Honorable Mention - Rath Plumbing Co.

Best Real Estate Firm

Winner - Country Pride Real Estate LLC

Second Place - RE/MAX Professionals

Runner Up - Wied Realty

Honorable Mention - Hudgins-Groover Real Estate

Best Realtor

Winner - Lin Hutzenbiler - RE/MAX Professionals

Second Place - Lisa Perez - Country Pride Real Estate LLC

Runner Up - Brian Hargrove - Country Pride Real Estate LLc

Honorable Mention - Kelly Balthrop, Realtor - Wied Realty

Best Roofing

Winner - Weather Guard Roofing

Second Place - Herrera Roofing Co

Runner Up - Wharton Roofing

Honorable Mention - Priority Roofing And Construction

Best Title Company

Winner - Mid-Coast Title Co Inc - Wharton

Second Place - Coastal Title Co

Runner Up - Stewart Title of the Coastal Bend, Inc.

Firm

1929 E Boling HWY Wharton, TX 77488 979-532-8150We sell the best and fix the rest! Best Heating & Air RunnerUp AC Repair • Installation • Maintenance Residential • Commercial
1st Place WINNER Best Law
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 35

Dance through night with deputy DJ

One Wharton County DJ moves from locking cells to locking steps on the weekend as Country Sounds DJ.

Blake George, who spends his days as a Wharton County Sheriff’s Deputy, was awarded best DJ in Wharton County.

The artist got his start more than a decade ago, before joining the force.

“This December, I’ll have been with the sheriff’s department four years,” George said.

“I started (DJing) about 12 years ago. The first thing I ever did as a DJ, as far as a gig, was a wedding. It was some friends that my whole family grew up with. They asked me if I would do the music at their wedding and I was able to get a hold of some speakers and we made it happen. It all kind of went from there.”

“The DJ portion came first. Before I became a deputy, I was a high school athletic trainer at Corpus Christi and decided to change careers into law enforcement.”

When it comes to events, George prefers some over others.

“There’s a lot more to do, but I like DJ-ing for weddings. I like the organization, keeping everything in line, helping everyone to make their day special, I feel like I help. I’m not a wedding planner per se, but I can keep us on track,” he said.

DJ Blake George is also a paramedic, on top of a musician and a sheriff’s deputy, so he’s used to performing under high stress environments.

George also plays parties of all stripes from small family get togethers to town festivals.

“I’m from Louise, that’s why I like playing their Fall Festival. I came through Louise High School and I love the community,” he said.

George is a bit of a sentimental, keeping songs on file when he plays a wedding.

“I save these songs and when I’m at a wedding and I see someone who’s wedding I’ve done in the past I’ll play theirfirst dance song, it’s a good way to get people on the

BEST OF: LIFESTYLES

Best Apartment Living

Winner - Red River Place Apartments

Second Place - Vallejo Properties, LLC

Runner Up - Greenbriar Apartment Homes

Honorable Mention - Prairie Village Apartments

dance floor and they seem to like it,” George said.

“I like to end my weddings with George Straits’ ‘I cross my Heart’. It’s become a thing i really like to do and people seem to like it.”

He’s played as far as Denton and College Station.

“It’s interesting as you travel the state, music taste changes but everyone likes good two-step music though. Really and truly, I like 90’s country, around in there. But I mix it up with everything. I really like to bring the dancing songs back into it, the ones you don’t really hear on the radio anymore.”

George can be contacted at 979-541-6530 or through his email at blakeageorge@yahoo.com.

Best Dance/Gymnastics

Winner - South Texas Strutters -El Campo

Second Place - Lynn Bates School of Dance

Runner Up - Full Force Tumble & Cheer

Honorable Mention - Dance Pizzazz

36 • Best of Wharton County 2022 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY L I F E S T Y L E

Best Fitness Center

Winner - Warrior University

Second Place - Hogan’s Victory Karate & Kickboxing

Runner Up - Snap Fitness El Campo

Honorable Mention - 3 in 1 Fitness

Best Hotel

Winner - Holiday Inn Express & Suites Wharton, an IHG Hotel

Second Place - Best Western Executive Inn El Campo

Runner Up - Lonestar Inn, El Campo Texas

Honorable Mention - Countryside Inn Wharton, TX

Best Non-Profit

Winner - El Campo Library

Second Place - Just Do It Now, Inc

Runner Up TIE- Friends of Wharton, Tx Animal Control

Runner Up TIE- Pilgrim Rest After School Program

Downtown Art with Wine

The Monterey Square Wine and Arts Fair was a dream back in 2008 that began as discussion amongst the then-current merchants whose businesses were located around the courthouse square in Wharton.

They were looking for a way to get people into their shops that had never ventured in before.

Mary Lee Ondrias came up with the idea to throw a wine festival of some sort and so began planning. “We had just come out of a deep recession in 2008 and weren’t sure how we were going to finance this idea. The Wharton Chamber of Commerce was willing to be a part of it and so began our annual Monterey Square Wine & Arts Fair,” Ondrias said.

Each participating merchant agreed to buy enough bottles of wine and hors d’oeuvres to give out one-ounce samples to each customer that bought an admission ticket. Things have changed through the years, as they most often do, and new approaches were taken to produce the wine fair as the years went by. In 2021 the current merchants got together and formed a non-profit organization specifically for the wine fair. “We are so grateful for the sponsors that step up each year to help out financially to make the wine fair happen,” Ondrias said.

Each year they try to make it just a bit better and through the years have added street performers, live music, horse and carriage rides, grape stomps, photo booths, food vendors, craft vendors, beer sales for the non-wine drinkers and car shows. In 2021 the Wharton County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce joined up as well and showed the Texas A&M football game on a 20-foot-tall inflatable screen on the courthouse lawn.

The wine fair is a bit different in that they have patrons enter businesses for their wine sampling. This way, they can stroll and shop at the same time in a small-town atmosphere around the downtown square. This year will have 19 tasting shops to enter giving patrons a shopping experience like no other.

The fair is best known for providing a safe festival environment that is entertaining enough to bring out all types of people from young to old. Of course, to sample wines a patron must be 21 years old or over. Businesses follow strict TABC guidelines each year.

Best Peace Officer

Winner - Sheriff Shannon Srubar - Wharton County Sheriff’s Office

Second Place - Chief Terry Lynch - Wharton Police Department

Runner Up - Kendrick Matula - El Campo Police Department

Honorable Mention - Laura Staude - Wharton County Sheriffs Office

Best Place to Work

Winner - Leedo Manufacturing Co

Second Place - H-E-B - El Campo

Runner Up - First Financial Bank

Honorable Mention TIE- Buc-ee’s Honorable Mention TIE- Prosperity Bank - El Campo Honorable Mention TIE- United Ag El Campo General Store

Best Retirement Facility

Winner - Wharton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Second Place - Meridian Assisted Living

Runner Up - Sodalis Wharton Honorable Mention - Prairie Village Apartments

Best Tanning Salon

Winner - Shabby Chic Boutique & Tanning Second Place - H243 Golden Glow Tans by Haley Runner Up - Infinity Hair Beyond Salon And Spa Honorable Mention - Palms Tan N Tone, LLC

We Are Building Solutions

Winner Best Place to Work

Leedo boasts long-tenured, highly engaged employees, and it’s not just about our compensation. It’s about the luxury of working with people you respect, making a high-quality product, and delivering superior services in a demanding field. It’s about the constant focus on progress and improvement – our metrics, processes and team ownership of progress against our goals gives us all a level of pride and engagement that other companies can’t match. And it’s about our relentless transparency and accountability – we each know where we’re going, and how our performance helps us all get there.

Thank

you!
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 37

Gift selections found on Wharton Square

If you’re looking for the best place to buy a gift for a special occasion, Selections on the Square is the place to go.

At least that’s what people in Wharton County said when they voted it the best gift store in the county. Owned by Mary Lee Ondrias, Selections on the Square has a wide variety of home decor, jewelry, bath and body, kitchen, accessories and assorted knickknacks sure to please a wide variety of people. They also provide gift wrap and a giftwrapping service.

Ondrias said her business is best known for “unique gifts, wrapping and service.”

Located at 1045 Houston St. in Wharton, the store began on April 1, 1990, (no joke!)

“My friend, Dell Young, passed away and I bought the business from her family. It was called Selections by Dell,” Ondrias said.

She runs the store herself with the help of Lupe Mata.

Selections on the Square is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is

closed Sunday and Monday. “Great place to get a gift! They always have something new and the customer service is truly exceptional,” said customer Matt Washburn.

“Awesome place! So many wonderful items and Ms. O. is amazing! Can’t wait to return,” added Linda Cruz Nolty.

Ondrias said what makes her business stand out is “Individual service and visiting with friends.”

For more information, call 979-532-0877 or visit their page on Facebook.

Mary Lee Ondrias, owner of Selections on the Square, shows some of the Consuela bags she has for sale in her store.

Cowgirls Everywhere find Gear Here

Open less than a year, and now in a new location, Branded Bliss Western Wear has been chosen by voters as the runnerup for Best Clothing Store in Wharton County.

Kristina Crouch owns and manages the store at 317 W. Milam St. in Wharton.

“We sell western wear for men, women, and children, as well as boutique clothing and accessories for women,” Crouch said.

The store also carries jewelry, handbags, wallets, and ladies shoes.

Crouch started the store in November 2021 in a spot across the street from where it is now located. It proved to be so popular that she need a larger space.

“Our business is best known for the clothing we carry and the welcoming atmosphere and customer service we provide,” she said.

The store has three employees and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Shop El Campo Retail Offers

Ruby & Yaya’s, located at 115 N. Washington in El Campo o ers a wide selection of style choices along with gift items for a variety of tastes.

The store is one of several women-owned businesses throughout the town, ranging from boutiques to eateries, all unique to the El Campo community.

Stop in, you might be truly surprised what you’ll find, small town shopping

Crouch said customer service is what makes the di erence at Branded Bliss.

“We have been told on many occasions that customers want to shop with us because of the friendly customer service we provide,” she said.

Crouch began the store to fulfill a dream.

“We originally started to fulfill a long-term dream of owning a boutique and to spend more time with children,” she said. “Our five-year goal is to continue to grow and provide better for Wharton.”

To learn more, of browse and purchase merchandise online, visit www.brandedblissboutique.com or look for the store on Facebook.

38 • Best of Wharton County 2022 R E T A I L 2022 BEST OF WHARTON COUNTY

BEST

Best Antiques/ Collectibles

Winner - Bohemian Rhapsody II

Second Place - The Mercantile - Consignment Furniture

Runner Up - Van Gorp Auction Service

Honorable Mention - Glen Flora Emporium Antiques Mall

Best Artisan Shop

Winner - Montgomery Gallery & Frame

Second Place - Unlimited Creations

Runner Up - The Shed

Honorable Mention - The Hornet’s Nest

Best Bargain

Winner - Dj´s Resale & Boutique

Second Place - St. Thomas Thrift Shop

Runner Up - Second Time Around Resale Shop

Honorable Mention - Christine’s Seafood

Best Clothing Store

Winner - Ruby and Yaya

Second Place - Shabby Chic 2.0

Runner Up - Branded Bliss Western Wear

Honorable Mention - Southern Belle Boutique

Best Computer Sales

Winner - The Computer Center

Second Place - Tec-Tronic Systems Inc - RadioShack Dealer

Runner Up - Walmart Supercenter

Best Furniture Store

Winner - Tree House Furniture

Second Place - Select Imports Furniture & Mattress

Runner Up - Jacques Gallery Furniture

Honorable MentionSutherlands

Best Gift Store

Winner - Selections On the Square

Second Place - Heavenly Helpers Christian Store Runner Up - Prairie Rose Emporium

Honorable Mention - The Hornet’s Nest

Best Gun Shop

Winner - R & M Firearms Second Place - Carroll’s Gun Shop & Police

Runner Up - C&E Firearms

Honorable Mention TIEFullAutoFirearms Honorable Mention TIE- United Ag El Campo General Store

Best Hardware Store

Winner - Rioux True Value Hardware Second Place - Sutherlands Runner Up - Vacek’s Hardware & Rentals

Honorable Mention - United Ag El Campo General Store

Best Jeweler

Winner - Gerberman Jewelers Inc

Second Place - Tyler’s Jewelry & Pawn

Best Liquor Store

Winner - Louie’s Package Store

Second Place - The Beer Ranch

Runner Up - J & D Bottle Shop

Honorable Mention - The Shot Spot

Most Helpful Employees

Winner - Prosperity Bank - El Campo

Second Place - Lifestyle Vision Runner Up - Heavenly Helpers Christian Store

Honorable Mention - First Financial Bank

Best Pawn Shop

Winner - Tyler’s Jewelry & Pawn

Second Place - Mr. Money Pawn Gun & Jewelry

Best Storage Facility

Winner - City-Wide Storage

Second Place - Stop-NLock Storage

Runner Up - My Storehouse Mini Storage

Thank You Wharton County For Voting Us #1 Best Computer Sales 119 N. Mechanic El Campo, TX • 979-543-1949 www.compcenter.net 1725 N. Richmond Rd • Wharton, TX 2005 SH 60 • Wharton, TX 979-532-2378#1 #2 Voted Best Liquor Store! 115 N. Washington St El Campo, TX 77437 • 979-578-1260 • rubyandyaya.com THANK YOU FOR VOTING US #1 IN WHARTON COUNTY
OF: RETAIL
Best of Wharton County 2022 • 39
CallText 979-532-5101RobersonAC.com
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