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

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.

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.

“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.

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

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

Brought To You By Publishers Shannon Crabtree Bill Wallace Features/Design Al Dubé William Hedstrom Liz Moreno Rachel Rodriguez Joe Southern

2 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Advertising Michelle Bridges Haley Orsak Office Jennifer Davila Francis Dieterich Deborah Goad Diane Stewart

“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.

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

Best of Wharton County © 2022 - El Campo Leader-News, Wharton Journal-Spectator and East Bernard Express

Look Inside... Letter from the Publishers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Farmer’s Friends, Here to Help . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Driving Into Tomorrow, With Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Coming In Clear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 PAGE They’re continuing to build almost a century of trust, with Wharton County Farmers and homemakers.


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 PAGE

Low and Slow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

They’re going the distance to build the lives that customers deserve.


Thank You Guys, Burgers and Fries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Keeping It Cool, When You Need It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Got Those Good Citations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 PAGE

A Godly education for our smallest, sets them up for a wholesome life.


Sip and Stroll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Would You Like It Wrapped? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Style for the Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38


Entertainment & Social . . . . 20 Food & Drink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

Agriculture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Health Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

Automotive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Home Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Children & Education . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


Taking a trip in comfort and style.








Lifestyles Retail


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.



1807 N. Mechanic St. El Campo, TX 77437 Main : 979-543-3327 • Fax : 979-543-8120

4 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Thank You Wharton County For Your Votes! 1504 North Mechanic St. El Campo, TX (979) 543-1801

BESt OF: AGriCUltUrE Best Ag Insurance

Best Tractor Service & Parts

Winner - Wiese Crop Insurance. Second Place - Ag 1st LLC Runner Up - Bacak Insurance

Winner - Wharton Tractor Company Second Place - Shoppa’s | John Deere - El Campo Runner Up - Hlavinka Equipment Company Honorable Mention - Rice Farmers Co-op., Inc.

Best Ag Business Support Winner - The First State Bank Second Place - Capital Farm Credit Runner Up - Audra Rod Smith-El Campo Honorable Mention - Prosperity Bank

Best Farm, Feed and Equipment Supplies Winner - Wharton Feed & Supply Second Place - United Ag El Campo General Store Runner Up - Tractor Supply Co Honorable Mention - Southern Feed & Supply

Best Tractor and Equipment Winner - Hlavinka Equipment Company Second Place TIE - Shoppa’s | John Deere - El Campo Second Place TIE - Wharton Tractor Company Honorable Mention - Rice Farmers Co-op., Inc.

1105 N Fulton St. Wharton, TX 77488

(979) 532-8533

1 Place for Best Feed & Farm Equipment Supplies st

Thank You!

Wharton County for Voting Us 1st Place: Tractor Service & Parts 2nd Place: Tractor Sales

979-532-3172 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

6 • Best of Wharton County 2022

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 raffle 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 offers the 0-60 thrill.

• 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

Stockton, Marble Falls, Mineral Wells and Uvalde. 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 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:// To learn more about Destination Ford, visit

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 7

BEST OF: AUTOMOTIVE Best Car Detailing Winner - Black Diamond Detailing Second Place - Pete’s Detail Corner Runner Up - B.A. Savage Detailing-Wharton Honorable Mention - Midnight Tinterz

Best Car Salesman Winner - Jaye Mills - Destination Ford Second Place - Virgil Quintero - Don Davis Motor Company Runner Up - Mike Hail-Wharton Ford Honorable Mention - Michael Phoenix

Best Car Wash Winner - Socha’s Car Wash Second Place - Marshall’s Car Wash Runner Up - Speedy Stop

Best Oil Change Winner - Wharton EZ Lube Second Place - Hoffer’s Lube Express Runner Up - Hoelscher Car Care Center Honorable Mention - Miller’s Lube & Service

Voted #1 Wrecker Service THANK YOU WHARTON COUNTY!

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 Service 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

25110 US 59 El Campo, TX 77437 979-543-7374 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

2502 N Richmond Rd. Wharton, TX 77488 979-531-1107

1st Place for Best Oil Change 2nd Place for Best Service and Repair

BEST OF: SERV ICES Best Attorney

96 Years!

Thank You Wharton County

Voted Best Tires & Repairs Congratulations

City-Wide Storage!

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

1st Place Winner!

Winner - Novak’s Meat Market Second Place - Vincek’s Smokehouse Runner Up - The Ranch Downtown Honorable Mention - Juniors Smokehouse

2nd Place Winner!

Best Credit Union

Marshall’s Car Wash City-Wide Storage 805 N Richmond Rd • Wharton, TX 77488


Marshall’s Car Wash 808 N Richmond Rd • Wharton, TX 77488


Winner - Texas Gulf Federal Credit Union - El Campo Second Place - Texas Gulf Federal Credit Union Wharton 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 2720 N. Richmond Rd. • Wharton, Texas (979)532-5805 •

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

Voted 1st Place

Best Body Shop

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 of Wharton County 2022 • 9



Back Row: Martin Schooley, John De La Rosa, Melinda Gutierrez, Gloria Rodriguez, Darrell Johansen, Front Row: Vivian Leal, Lupe Gavilla

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 offers 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.”

10 • Best of Wharton County 2022

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

Best Health Insurance Agent/Agency

Best Law Firm

Best Home/Auto/Life Insurance Agent/Agency

Best Lawn Care

Winner - Rod Insurance Second Place - Danna Insurance Runner Up - InsuranceNet Honorable Mention - Lindsey Litton - Health Insurance Agent

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

Winner - Paul Webb, PC Second Place - Audra Rod Smith, Attorney At Law Runner Up - Duckett Bouligny & Collins Honorable Mention - Wadler Perches Hundl & Kerlick Winner - Professional Lawn Care Second Place - Texas Coast Yard Maintenance LLC Runner Up - J&R Services

El Campo’s only locally family Family owned and operatedsince since 1929 owned and operated 1929

JIMMIE & CECI TRISKA third generation owners

612 Merchant Street • El Campo


Best Internet Service

Winner - Sparklight - Wharton Second Place - Sparklight - El Campo Runner Up - Wirehand Wireless - WCEC Honorable Mention - AT&T Store

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.

Did you know … The First State Bank is an award-winner? 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 friendly! | Member FDIC

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 11

Best Massage Therapy

Best Pet Boarding

Best Metal Trades

Best Pet Grooming

Winner TIE- Kacey Lee Luna, LMT Winner TIE- Overflow Wellness Studio Runner Up - Relaxation Therapy - Massage & Bodywork Honorable Mention - Vivid Faces Winner - El Campo Sheet Metal LLC Second Place - Multi-Fab Metals

Best Nail Salon

Winner - Classy Nail Spa Second Place - Fancy Nails Runner Up - Pisces Nail Salon Honorable Mention - Superior Nail Bar

Winner - Wharton Veterinary Clinic Second Place - Country Pets LLC Runner Up - Coastal Plains Animal Clinic Honorable Mention - The Paw Pad Winner - Pawlished Groomery Second Place - Wharton Veterinary Clinic Runner Up - Country Pets LLC Honorable Mention - Coastal Plains Animal Clinic

Best Photographer

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 Thank you for voting me Best of Wharton County for 2022! Mention this ad for 10% off any portrait service. 979-922-2695

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


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 12 • Best of Wharton County 2022


FULL-PAGE - NO BLEED 7.875 x 10.375

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 for details.

Country Pride Real Estate goes the country mile for you With the motto of “Let us go the country mile for you,” Country Pride Real Estate owner Lisa Morton Perez has continued her quest to be the best realtor in town. She and her associates are making their mark on the Wharton real estate market because they are concerned about their clients and their personal needs. Perez 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.



The Law Office of James L. Perez 105 W Burleson St. Wharton, Texas 77488 CALL THE LAWDOGGG

979-532-5500 Hablamos Español

Category: Best Attorney #2 Attorney, Wharton County 14 • Best of Wharton County 2022

1st place winner

Vet and Pet Boarding 2nd place winner

Pet Grooming

Wharton Veterinary Clinic Large Animals • Small Animals • Boarding • Grooming Repro Services • 24-Hour Emergency Services 1518 Highway 60 South • Wharton, Texas 77488


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



Thank You Wharton County For Your Votes! Banking By Texans For Texans!

• Home Loans • Personal Loans • Commercial Banking • Wealth Management

401 N. Mechanic, El Campo 979-543-6441

#1 Flooring & Carpet in Wharton County!

Carpet, Vinyl, Ceramic Tile, Wood & Planking •FULLY STOCKED WAREHOUSE •FREE ESTIMATES 1207 West Loop, El Campo, TX 77437 (979) 543-5500

Thank You Wharton County It Is An Honor To Keep You & Your Family Safe & Insured 609 N. Mechanic • El Campo, TX 77437 • 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 offer 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 differences 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 staff 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.

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 offerings, please visit the campus or call (979) 5437075. First School is open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.

“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 offers 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

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 17

m s fi s

BEST OF: CHILDREN & EDUCATION 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

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


Winner - Brittany Rives - Northside Elementary School Second Place - Jessica Drapela Runner Up TIE- Brooke Hlavinka - El Campo High School Runner Up TIE- Kaitlyn Hooper Sivells Elementary Runner Up TIE- Lori Heard

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

18 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Wharton coach stands out for efforts A Wharton native and junior high teacher has been voted as Wharton County’s best coach.

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

Daniel Gaona, who is the varsity special teams coordinator for football and the head powerlifting coach at Wharton High School, was chosen as the county’s best coach for 2022. He is a special education teacher at Wharton Junior High School.

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.

“It’s unreal,” he said of the vote.

“I love this county and the people in it. Gaona and his wife Venessa have three sons: I’m extremely grateful for this honor. I Daniel Gaona III, Andres Antonio Gaona and saw the other coaches’ names that were Ein Joaquin Gaona. Gaona is active in the nominated and those are some amazing DANIEL GAONA community, especially with youth sports. coaches. Some of them have done some “I love to lift weights, barbecue and spend time with my great things in their career and to even be in the same family,” he said. “I have volunteered in my community by conversation with them is a blessing.” coaching Little league baseball, youth football, and youth Gaona, 39, graduated from Wharton High School in soccer for many years. I’m currently a member of LULAC 2001. He attended Wharton County Junior College and (League of United Latin American Citizens). I love Star the University of Houston-Victoria, graduating with a Wars and comic books.”


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 or call 979.543.6750


The City Development Corporation of El Campo offers a variety of assistance and incentives for qualifying businesses.

Visit or call 979.543.6727 Best of Wharton County 2022 • 19


Ruben Gaona of El Campo racks up for a league game of eight-ball pool.


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.

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 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.

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 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.

“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.

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.

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

“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

20 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Tiffany Rodriguez of El Campo sets her cue on a rack of nine-ball pool for her practice break.

Domino tables at the front, pool tables in the middle and a patio out back give plenty of room for patrons to gather and have fun.


Wedding/Party Venue

Winner - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill Second Place - Schellers Bar & Grill Runner Up - Sunnyside Saloon Honorable Mention - Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Winner - The Rustic Chandelier Second Place - Simply Divine Lunch & Tea Room Runner Up - The Orchard at Caney Creek Honorable Mention - El Campo Civic Center

DJ 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

The Rustic Chandelier

Live Music Venue Winner - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill Second Place - Sunnyside Saloon Runner Up - El Campo Lost Lagoon Honorable Mention - J’s Patio

Nightlife Winner - Scheller’s Bar & Grill Second Place - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill Runner Up - Sunnyside Saloon Honorable Mention - Caddie’s


Voted #1

Best wedding venue Thank You Wharton County!

5472 N. Fm 441 S El Campo S (979) 637-0993 Owned & Operated by David & Donna Kutac and Family

Winner - Legacy Park Second Place - Dinosaur Park Runner Up - Friendship Park Honorable Mention - Zlotnik Park

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 21



“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.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

“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

22 • Best of Wharton County 2022

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 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.

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 Bar-B-Cue & Catering u Thank Yog n i t o V for for Us

979-531-0880 7902 HWY 59 N Hungerford, TX

1st Place

Catering Runner Up

Family Dining & Ice Tea 2nd Place


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 Call-in orders can be placed at 979-531-0880.

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 Vincek’s Smokehouse in July of 1985, they had no idea how successful their venture would be.

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

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.

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

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.

419 Main St. East Bernard, TX 77435


Runner Up Best Pizza in Wharton County!

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

the Block n o id K w e N The lking About! a T is e n o y r e Ev

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.

R2G Waffle

106 West Boling Hwy • Wharton, Texas


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.”

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.

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




Voted Georgia Mae’s GMYou Have #1 Best Food Truck GM #2 Best Wings GM Mae’s Was GM Also GM Georgia Nominated for GM Best Breakfast Taco, GM BestGM Best Burgers, Catering, GM GM Best Family Dining, Best Iced Tea and Best Sandwiches/Subs GM GM GM 979-618-0966 • GM Follow us on Facebook! GM


Thank You Wharton County For voting us: 2nd Place Best Butcher 2nd Place Best Chicken Salad 2nd Place Best Kolache

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 25

Best Bakery

Best Burgers

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

Winner - Father & Sons Grill Second Place - Emil’s Old Fashion Burger Runner Up - Taco Citos Food Truck Honorable Mention - Freddie’s

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

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 - La Dianita’s Tacos Second Place - Taquerias las Regias Runner Up - The Breakfast Nook Honorable Mention - Daylight Donuts

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 Buffet

Best Chicken Fried Steak

Winner - Freddie’s Second Place - Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q & Catering Runner Up - Mr. Gatti’s Pizza Honorable Mention - La Dianitas Tacos

Winner - Lone Star Cafe Second Place - Hinze’s Country Kitchen Runner Up - 9ers Grill Wharton Honorable Mention - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill

2nd Place Winner: Mexican Cuisine & Salsa Runner Up: Fajitas & Margarita’s 1031 MAIN ST EAST BERNARD, TX 77435 26 • Best of Wharton County 2022

P : (979) 335-4313

Best Chicken Salad

Best Food Truck

Winner - Juniors Smokehouse Second Place - Vincek’s Smokehouse Runner Up - Molli B’s Coffee Cafe Honorable Mention - 3 in 1 Fitness

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 Coffee

Best Healthy Menu

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

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

Coldest Beer

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse Second Place - Pitt Viper BBQ Runner Up - Reyna’s Cafe Honorable Mention - Mikeska’s Bar-B-Q & Catering

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 Iced Tea

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

Best Sausage

Winner - Pitt Viper BBQ Second Place - Casa Hernandez Runner Up TIE- Hinze’s Country Kitchen Runner Up TIE- Jalapeno’s Cuisine

Winner - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse Second Place - Juniors Smokehouse Runner Up - Pitt Viper BBQ Honorable Mention - Novak’s Meat Market

Best Restaurant Service

Best Seafood

Winner - Pitt Viper BBQ Second Place - Lone Star Cafe Runner Up - Hinze’s Country Kitchen Honorable Mention - Reyna’s Cafe

Winner - Pincher’s Restaurant Second Place - Hinze’s Country Kitchen Runner Up - Christine’s Seafood Honorable Mention - Best Seafood & Steak House

Best Salsa

Best Steak

Winner - Casa Hernandez Second Place - Lupe’s Mexican Cafe Runner Up - Los Cucos Mexican Cafe Honorable Mention - Reyna’s Cafe

Winner - Greek Bros. Oyster Bar & Grill Second Place - Reyna’s Cafe Runner Up - Wharton Country Club Honorable Mention - Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse

Best Sandwiches/Subs

Best Wings

Winner - Father & Sons Grill Second Place - Subway Runner Up - Molli B’s Coffee Cafe Honorable Mention - Georgia Mae’s Good Eats

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 28 • Best of Wharton County 2022



Therapy Solutions 4U



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.

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 29



Winner - Domino Chiropractic PLLC Second Place - Wharton Chiropractic Runner Up - Carolyn Bubela Honorable Mention - Saiz Chiropractic Center

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

Counseling Services Winner - Turning Leaf Counseling & Education Center Second Place - Linda Butcher Runner Up - Blake Benson Honorable Mention - El Campo Family Counseling

Dentist Winner - Brian M. Swenson, DDS Second Place - Boehm Dental Runner Up - El Campo Dental Clinic: Elizabeth C. Cheng, DDS, FAGD Honorable Mention - Abby Dental

Home Health Provider Winner - Angels Care Home Health Second Place - AccentCare | Home Health Runner Up - Sacred Care Home Health

BENSON • Chiropractic Care • Electrical Muscle Stimulation • Trigger Point Therapy • PEMF Therapy • Nutrition Consulting Chiropractor Dr. Zach Benson offers over 30 years of experience bringing you his personal health and back pain expertise.

301 N. Mechanic Ste. A El Campo, TX 77437 (979) 543-8600

Your Angels Care Home Health Team Says:


THANK YOU Wharton for voting us the BEST HOME HEALTH AGENCY in our community and letting us serve you!

Contact us Today to Learn More About our Disease Management & Specialty Programs and how we can help you stay healthy at home! Care Home Health An AngMar Managed Company

30 • Best of Wharton County 2022

Proudly Serving: WHARTON & Surrounding Areas 979-282-2629 • @ AngelsCareHH


medicare coverage

Optometrist Winner - Dr. Priscilla Metcalf, M.D. - Wharton Eye Association. P.A. Second Place - Keith J. Ermis, O.D. - Berkeley Eye Center - Wharton Runner Up - Karl M. Ermis, O.D. - Berkeley Eye Center - El Campo Honorable Mention - Kayci Ermis - Berkeley Eye Center El Campo

Pharmacy Winner - H-E-B Pharmacy - El Campo Second Place - H-E-B Pharmacy - Wharton Runner Up - Walgreens Honorable Mention - Savon Drugs

Physician Winner - Dr. Brooke Dorotik Second Place - Dr. Mark A. Marconi, DO Runner Up - Clay Zboril - Mid Coast Medical Clinic El Campo Honorable Mention - Salman Aly MD & Sarfraz Aly MD

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

Thank You, Wharton County for Voting for Us! Dr. Priscilla Metcalf, M.D. 1st Place Best Ophthalmologist

Linda Voulgaris 2nd Place Most Help Employee

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


Linda Butcher – Owner, Lead Therapist

Winner - Pest Control

Wharton, Texas

(979) 532-2871

2nd Place Winner for Counseling Services 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.

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

“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

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 33


Winner - Jose De Jesus Estrada Second Place - G R Construction Runner Up - J&R Services - Joe Salazar Honorable Mention - Dream Maker Construction

Best Electrical

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

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

HOBO Electric Eldon Penner, Owner

Voted Your #1 Electrical Service Company In Wharton County

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

1315 S. Mechanic El Campo, TX 979-541-3799

1st Place


TITLE COMPANY Wharton Office 111 North Fulton St. Wharton, TX 77488

Give Us a Call

El Campo Office 207 West Jackson St. El Campo, TX 77437

Wharton Fax: (979) 282 2414

NEW: Columbus Office 410 Walnut St. Columbus, TX 78934

34 • Best of Wharton County 2022


(979) 532 1512

El Campo

Open Hours

Monday-Friday: 8:30AM-12:00PM & 1:00PM to 5:00PM

(979) 543 1369

El Campo Fax: (979) 543 1240


(979) 733 0440

Best Pest Control

Best Roofing

Winner - Bugmobile Pest & Termite Control Second Place - Safeguard Pest Control Runner Up - Gillen Pest Control Honorable Mention - El Campo Spraying Inc

Winner - Weather Guard Roofing Second Place - Herrera Roofing Co Runner Up - Wharton Roofing Honorable Mention - Priority Roofing And Construction

Best Plumbing

Best Title Company

Winner - Gary Tupa Plumbing & Supply Second Place - Mason’s Plumbing Co. Runner Up - Seaman’s Plumbing Honorable Mention - Rath Plumbing Co.

Winner - Mid-Coast Title Co Inc - Wharton Second Place - Coastal Title Co Runner Up - Stewart Title of the Coastal Bend, Inc.

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

1st Place WINNER Best Law Firm

Best Heating & Air RunnerUp

AC Repair • Installation • Maintenance Residential • Commercial

We sell the best and fix the rest!

1929 E Boling HWY Wharton, TX 77488

979-532-8150 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


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

Best Apartment Living

Best Dance/Gymnastics

Winner - Red River Place Apartments Second Place - Vallejo Properties, LLC Runner Up - Greenbriar Apartment Homes Honorable Mention - Prairie Village Apartments

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

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.

Crouch said customer service is what makes the difference 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.

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

“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.”

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.

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

Shop El Campo Retail Offers

Ruby & Yaya’s, located at 115 N. Washington in El Campo offers 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

38 • Best of Wharton County 2022


Best Furniture Store

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

Winner - Tree House Furniture Second Place - Select Imports Furniture & Mattress Runner Up - Jacques Gallery Furniture Honorable Mention Sutherlands

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

Most Helpful Employees

Winner - Prosperity Bank - El Campo Second Place - Lifestyle Vision Runner Up - Heavenly Helpers Christian Store Honorable Mention - First Financial Bank

Best Storage Facility

Winner - City-Wide Storage Second Place - Stop-NLock Storage Runner Up - My Storehouse Mini Storage

Best Pawn Shop

Winner - Tyler’s Jewelry & Pawn Second Place - Mr. Money Pawn Gun & Jewelry

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


FOR VOTING US #1 IN WHARTON COUNTY 115 N. Washington St El Campo, TX 77437 • 979-578-1260 •

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

SH 60 • Wharton, TX #1 2005 979-532-2378 1725 N. Richmond Rd • Wharton, TX #2 979-532-2599 Voted Best Liquor Store!

Thank You Wharton County For Voting Us #1 Best Computer Sales 119 N. Mechanic El Campo, TX • 979-543-1949

Best of Wharton County 2022 • 39

CallText 979-532-5101