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Summertime in the Coastal Bend







361-592-2661 | 2501 S. Hwy 77, Kingsville

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Texas’ Oldest Dealership 361-592-2661 2501 S. Hwy 77, Kingsville

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When you shop with us, back-to-school style is a no-brainer. With big brands at small prices, you can get way more for much less. Now that’s easy math.

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Great Food. Great Times. Great Experience. Happy Hour 4-7pm

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5409 Saratoga Blvd., Corpus Christi 361.992.2333 Sun-Thurs 11am-1am 4

Fri & Sat 11am-2am

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BUSINESS COACH 12 Set the Stage SPECIAL FEATURE 16 Stellar Service FEATURES 18 Destination: Summer 20 Dueling Diamonds 22 A Touch of Irony 24 A Business in [R]evolution 26 Stay Safe MONEY MATTERS 44 The Right Track REAL ESTATE 46 Changes and Challenges HOME 48 Relax and Enjoy TRAVEL 50 Something New TASTE 52 That Perfect Chip ENTERTAINMENT 54 Escape If You Can


INSPIRED STYLE 58 Summertime in the Coastal Bend







Bringing some of the most exciting events to Corpus Christi and contributing to the city’s growth, the general manager of SMG-managed American Bank Center is proud to consistently improve the quality of life in the Coastal Bend.

Robert and Courtney De Pol create timepieces that are sleek, professional and affordable for aviators and military enthusiasts, truly capturing the mystique of military aviation.

With high-quality craftsmanship, a savvy IT background, an effective marketing strategy and an interest in giving back, Art Ramirez has unlocked a winning strategy for success.




SPIRITUAL 56 Fighting the Leans


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DESTINATION PLAY MORE THAN 100 OF THE FINEST NAMES IN STYLE, SERVICES AND CUISINE Dillard’s • Macy’s • JCPenney • Express • H&M • Forever 21 • White House | Black Market • MAC Cosmetics

francesca’s • Aldo • Pandora • PINK • P. F. Chang's China Bistro • Michael Kors • ULTA • Oakley • Grimaldi's Pizzeria LongHorn Steakhouse • Tillys • Buckle • OshKosh B’gosh • Victoria’s Secret • Soma Intimates Featured Fashion: The Children’s Place • Macy’s • Journeys Kidz • Payless 5488 S. PADRE ISLAND DRIVE • LAPALMERA .COM

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MEET THE STAFF More Ga me More Rid s. es More Foo . d MORE FU . N!








EDITOR Erin O’Brien



Make t ex o Y ur N eeting M s s e nt Busin pany Eve r! m e Or Co Rememb o T n e e v t On our E Plan Y day! To

Games Go Karts Mini Golf Bumper Boats Batting Cages Rides, Ropes Course, Bungy Dome and More! Delicious Food Plus Beer & Wine Too!



and request more information 9605 S Padre Island Dr. Corpus Christi

Morgan Bartel

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mandy Ashcraft Colton Bartel Anne Booher Kim Bridger-Hunt Jessica Dusek Dr. Coral Dworaczyk Peter Colis Caroline R. Freeman Randy Green Connie Laughlin Erin O’Brien Sylvia Slezak Judy Smith Kelly Trevino Sarona Winfrey

Dark Lab Dustin Ashcraft Michael Giordano

ELISA GIORDANO ART DIRECTOR 210.716.5320 For advertising information, please call 361.548.1044 or email For editorial comments and suggestions, please call 479.935.0868 or email





or Visit

Elisa Giordano

MORGAN BARTEL SOCIAL MEDIA morgan@ 620.417.5392



Copyright 2017 © Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited.


Why Choose us: Our customers come first. The Stellar Energy Solutions and Hudson Energy support team is made up of people who understand the industry and care deeply about helping you in every way. We are here for you.  Dynamic Pricing: We have several clear advantages over other suppliers, including market experience and purchasing power, which add up to more value for your business.

 Environmentally Sound: We see the big picture. As an industry leader, it's our responsibility to explore green energy product options and offer affordable ways for companies to reduce their environmental impact.

 Energy Advisors: Our team of industry specialists will work with you to create an energy solution that meets all of your company's needs from budget to roll-out and support.

 Fully Integrated Partnership: Stellar Energy Solutions partners with Hudson Energy because our business values align. There is a mutual trust in our white glove approach to serving your business needs.

361.884.8973 |

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I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M 11 ㌀㘀㄀⸀㜀㐀㤀⸀㌀㜀㄀㘀     簀     倀伀刀吀ⴀ刀伀夀䄀䰀⸀䌀伀䴀     簀     㘀㌀㄀㜀 匀吀䄀吀䔀 䠀䤀䜀䠀圀䄀夀 ㌀㘀㄀ ∠ 倀伀刀吀 䄀刀䄀一匀䄀匀Ⰰ 吀䔀堀䄀匀 㜀㠀㌀㜀㌀



Four reasons to outsource your human resources to a professional employer organization By: CONNIE LAUGHLIN


rofessional employer organizations (PEOs) can be very effective at setting the stage for you to budget your funds, keep risk factors low, effectively manage employees and handle the employer administrative duties – all at a low cost and with only one vendor. Eleven years ago, I became a business consultant for the highly accredited UniqueHR. Luckily for me, and for my clients in South Texas, we’re headquartered right here in Corpus Christi! It’s worthwhile for every business owner to look into this comprehensive bundled human resources (HR) package. PEOs provide: CONNIE LAUGHLIN is a business consultant for UniqueHR. UniqueHR provides payroll administration, workers’ compensation insurance, a safety program, risk management, an HR program and, optionally, benefits as a package. For more information, you may contact Laughlin at 361-852-6392 or conniel@uniquehr. com.

• Payroll administration • Workers’ compensation insurance • Safety programs • HR • Benefits HERE ARE FOUR REASONS YOU SHOULD OUTSOURCE YOUR HR TO A PEO: 1. LOW COST Business leaders fear the cost to bring in professionals will be too expensive – but that’s not so. Before you need to have an attorney specializing in employment law on retainer, or to hire certified HR professionals, payroll specialists, benefits specialists, workers’ compensation risk specialists/safety consultants or multiple vendors – outsource it to save the hassle and money! Niche HR outsourcing service providers (PEOs) have established an obviously affordable and viable solution, or they wouldn’t be one of the fastest-growing businesses in the country. When you utilize best practices via a PEO relationship, expect a boost in production! Additionally, the PEO’s bill rate includes all HR costs, therefore streamlining all your HR admin tasks by dealing with one guaranteed vendor! The fee is also a write-off! 2. ELIMINATES RISK Many administrative risks aren’t understood by business leaders, which could lead to a higher level of financial damage because the risk management strategies, risk mitigation and precautions weren’t in place. Business management processes are segmented, as each department’s tasks fall into those employees’ hands. Company leaders face the risk of having a myopic view of each department based on the information employees decide to share with them. Many companies realize way too late that their departments are not as effective or efficient as they should be, or that they’re not operating legally according to worksite employment law. Utilizing multiple outsourcing providers or even handling non-core business functions in-house makes it harder to establish an organizational view of performance, produce a detailed cost, evaluate employee production levels and effectively resolve performance issues. Additionally, not being on top of HR can negate strategic planning.


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3. TOP TECHNOLOGY The latest technology in HR is offered to you via a PEO arrangement. Payroll software is costly. On your own, you have to put a lot of time into sourcing it, operating it and paying for it with start-up fees and annual upgrades. If you need time accounting solutions, job costing or certified payroll solutions, look at a PEO arrangement first before dipping into the bank. A long list of online HR skill-set training coursework in addition to your cutting-edge payroll software is available to you, your managers and your employees through your online portal. 4. BEST BENEFITS It’s a huge relief to know you can add benefits at a super rate to your bundled HR package. You should see a really good rate on your medical, dental, vision, etc. Even the 401(k) is at a minimal cost. The more benefits you have to offer employees, the more likely they are to stay with you, and the more likely you are to attract crème of the crop talent! START NOW! Achieving return on investment, eliminating financial risk and managing personnel are major preoccupations. Valuable time can be found by utilizing the outsourcing services available to you by a PEO. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the beginning stages of going into business or you’ve been in business a hundred years. Explore the option of outsourcing HR with a PEO.


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Corpus Christi, TX 361-723-0130


“Don’t Forget Your Filters!”

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1620 SPID #180 (@ Greenwood)

Corpus Christi, TX 361-855-1123


@ art the builder

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Meet the Stellar Energy Solutions Employee of the Month, Blake Warner, who is being recognized for excellence in service. SPECIAL TO INSPIRE COASTAL BEND



ccording to President/Owner Tim Clark, “He is the man who risked everything to move here and has done very well.” Blake Warner truly made a decision to “put everything on Stellar and trust God’s lead” when he moved from Oklahoma to Texas in January 2017. “I saw an opportunity to make something better of myself for my family and me,” he says, “and so, I made my million-dollar move.” In March, a strong background in sales and a competitive spirit catapulted Warner to the top spot for acquisition of accounts at Stellar Energy Solutions after only three months on the job. Warner is the first to tell you his motivation is his family: his lovely wife and two beautiful boys. While he asserts that he has always been good in sales, he insists that to do really well, “you have to sell something that sells itself.” And Stellar Energy Solutions does just that. The business development consultants at Stellar Energy Solutions monitor the NYMEX report daily and ensure that their clients and pro-

spective clients consistently receive the absolute lowest energy rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and the most favorable contract terms. This premier energy brokerage negotiates all aspects of your electricity needs to obtain the most valued, competitive offers for your business or residence. Future Price Locking and Blend and Extend agreements are just a few options that allow clients to take advantage of today’s best prices without cancelling existing contractual obligations. Energy is not something consumers have a choice about; electricity is a must-have commodity for commercial businesses, nonprofits, municipalities and residential customers. However, there is a choice about selecting an energy brokerage that offers integrity, choice and outstanding service to handle all your energy needs. Stellar Energy Solutions is the right choice. Warner sums it up like this: “We do business right the first time. We keep our customers by always doing right by them.”

For any and all of your electricity pricing needs, please contact Blake Warner at


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otive  Cell Pho nes  Cameras   Laptop Alarm Systems  s  Solar  Fla Wheel Chair shlights  Watc h / Key Fob 4903 Ambassador Row Corpus Christi, Texas 361.854.5000 Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am – 6pm, Sat 8:30am – 2:30pm, Sun Closed Instagram@interstatebatteries_cc

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3 LOC AT I ON S F OR YOUR CONVE NIE N C E ! NORTH PADRE ISLAND (361) 949-2266 | PORT ARANSAS (361) 749-2266 | ROCKPORT (361) 729-2266 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




This July and August, La Palmera guests enjoy live music, tax-free breaks, back-to-school deals and much more. By: SARONA WINFREY


s the summer sun heats things up outside, guests stay cool inside at La Palmera. And with more than 100 retail and dining options, it remains the Coastal Bend destination for the hottest fashion trends and entertainment. Shoppers will find a variety of seasonal styles at Buckle, H&M, francesca’s and White House | Black Market, as well as accessories and more from Charming Charlie. And when the shopping is done, guests often stay and enjoy a refreshing beverage or delicious meal at one of La Palmera’s full-service restaurants, including



A local favorite, this five-piece band keeps crowds on their feet with the big sounds of the ‘80s, the ‘90s and today.

LongHorn Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Chili’s Grill and Bar, or one of the many quick-serve options in the cool and comfortable 600-seat food court. In addition to great deals and meals, guests will also enjoy free entertainment throughout the summer, including the Sounds of Summer concert series. The popular series runs through July with Coastal Bend bands performing onstage in La Palmera’s food court. Scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. each evening on July 5, 19 and 26, the series features a variety of musical genres.



Based out of South Texas, the group has been picking up steam on the local circuit with the release of the self-produced album, “Prayers to Saint Jude.” With all-original material, the group has an innovative and signature sound featuring a blend of classic blues and rock. 

La Palmera will also kick off special open-mike events in August featuring more local musical talent on the food court stage. Events will be scheduled for each weekend in August beginning with Texas Tax-Free Weekend, Aug. 11 to 13. Many residents and visitors alike wait for the annual Texas Sales Tax Holiday to stock up on clothing and other back-to-school necessities at La Palmera, including the latest clothes and shoes, school uniforms, athletic wear, backpacks and book bags, as well as haircuts, eyeglasses and dorm items. Tax-free items once again include most basic school supplies, as well as



They describe themselves as “Makers of Music. Creators of Sound. Fellas of Odd.” Drawing inspiration from musicians such as Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this pop fusion group are regulars on the Corpus Christi music scene.

backpacks, clothing, shoes and many accessories priced under $100 used by elementary and secondary students. Shoppers will also find special deals at many stores whose merchandise does not qualify for tax-free status. Select retailers at La Palmera will have extended hours for the threeday event, a list of which will be found online at Officers from the Corpus Christi Police Department will be onsite Friday through Sunday at La Palmera to assist with traffic control, making it easier for customers to navigate their way in and out of parking areas. Valet parking is also available at the mall’s main entrance near P.F. Chang’s.

Go to, call 361-991-3755 or follow La Palmera on Facebook for more information and to discover the best deals.


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Natural diamonds have a “new” rival. By: COLTON BARTEL


or centuries, diamonds have been a symbol of wealth and status, some calling them the most valuable of all things in this world. Royal families have passed them on to their heirs as symbols of power, they are tradition to give as a symbol of commitment and love and now there is a new competitor for its spot on the top: lab-grown diamonds! Yes, I said lab grown. Lab grown, or synthetic, diamonds are actually not a new thing. In fact, the first diamonds to be synthesized made their appearance in the mid-1950s. The problems at that time were the cost of production, poor atmospheric control and, well, it just took months to grow them. Just like anything else, technology has improved and has now made labgrown stones a viable and cost-effective practice. With diamond deposits being depleted and the world as a whole becoming more conscious of the environment, the timing for lab-grown diamonds couldn’t have been more perfect. This millennial generation not

only loves technology, but is increasingly more aware of protecting our natural surroundings. Many want to continue with tradition and seal the deal with their loved ones using diamond jewelry, but usually have some reservations because of an eco-friendly mindset. Lately, those millennials are asking for other synthetic diamond simulants like moissanite and cubic zirconia (CZ) to avoid buying a natural diamond. The drawback with both of these options is simple: They aren’t diamonds, and though they may look similar, they just don’t have the same exact appeal or look. On top of that, few people are proud to show off their CZ or



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used in the growth process are the exact same as natural and result in identical, crystal structure, optical, density and hardness properties. At one time, there was a way to separate natural from lab-grown diamonds using magnification and UV light. However, growers have refined the process so well that the diamonds can only be separated now by certain diamond labs like GIA. Prior to this new wave of stones, lab-grown diamonds traditionally were not very white and most often were tinted with brown or yellow due to nitrogen in the atmosphere and how difficult it was to keep it out of the growing process. Growers now have all but entirely eliminated the color in many of the stones they produce, and therefore are able to offer D, E and F color stones (D-F grades are considered colorless). Another improvement was the near elimination of inclusions and fluorescence, which



moissanite ring because they know that it’s just not “real” and don’t want to admit it. So exactly how do lab-grown diamonds fix this problem? The answer is simpler than you would think. Lab-grown diamonds are actually diamonds. They aren’t CZ or any other simulant; they are in absolutely, every manner, diamonds! Stones produced in a lab exhibit identical properties of their natural counterpart with only one difference: location. Obviously, natural stones are mined out of the earth, while lab-grown stones are just that: grown in a lab. The elements

were the factors used to most easily separate natural and lab stones. Though all of these factors are well and good, the biggest improvement was growing time. Early stones took months to grow and usually were still quite small. Now stones over two carats are common. Not only does this speed equate to larger stones and more production, but also the reduction of costs, which is reflected all the way to the consumer. Our store has had the privilege of being one of the first in the country to offer these new lab-grown diamonds, and what we

noticed right away was their affordability. If all things are equal, lab grown stones now average about half the price of natural diamonds! Never has something like this happened before in the diamond industry. Not only are they half the price, but many are cut better than most of the natural diamonds in the market today, making them look even more beautiful. Most of the labgrown diamonds that we carry are actually Super Ideal cuts. So you may be asking, “What is the drawback here?” We really can’t think of one! It’s required that these stones be sold as “lab grown,” but other than that, everything about them is diamond. No more embarrassment when talking to your friends about your engagement ring being CZ or moissanite. Instead, you can show off a bigger and more beautiful diamond, and be proud to do so!

Colton Bartel, G.G., A.J.P., is a 2007 GIA graduate gemologist and accredited jewelry professional in residence, as well as jewelry designer for Susann’s Custom Jewelers. For more information or to see lab-grown diamonds, please contact Bartel at 361991-7565, visit Susann’s online at or on Facebook or stop by 4254 S. Alameda in Corpus Christi, Texas







ike Brannon’s motto is “less is more.” This is appropriate to his style as both a lighting designer and a musician. However, take a look at his résumé, and you’ll see that this motto is also a bit ironic. The owner of Lightlink Lighting has won 20 ADEX Awards for Design Excellence since 2016 alone, and his designs are frequent “Best Of” product selections in publications like Design Journal and EnLIGHTen-


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ment. Since he launched the business 20 years ago, his work has also been featured in Organic Spa, Natural Home, Apartment Therapy, Houzz and many more media outlets, as well as at AIA, ASID, IIDA and TEDx events in both San Antonio and Austin. And this is to say nothing of his music career (hint: he’s worked with people you’ve heard of). And now, to even further expand his résumé, Brannon also recently announced a new venture: Zenlight Photography. Brannon isn’t

a stranger to the camera, as he’s been photographing his lighting designs for the past 14 years out of necessity. However, as he was photographing some of his latest pieces last fall, an all-new inspiration struck. “When I was shooting the Triangulation and Hypercube lights last year, I was making an effort to focus on and get the best out of them, and other aspects of the shots started to speak to me,” Brannon said. “I was doing a lot of setup and staging, and I was getting some really


Less may be more, but Mike Brannon’s reach as an artist is expanding – and creative enthusiasts everywhere are the better for it.

cool unexpected effects. I started thinking about it more, and I got really interested the possibility of shooting other types of subjects.” Some of these subjects include art, architecture, fashion, lifestyle, nature and travel. It’s been an organic change for Brannon – that is, a natural extension of the “eye” that’s served him so well as a designer. Brannon’s a man of many interests, but everything he does features his signature minimalist style – deemed “Zen/industrial” by the design press. His photography is no exception. “I take a Zen-like ap-

proach to photography, as well,” he said. “I tend to see the quality and intensity of light almost before I see a given subject. I think having shot the lighting designs for so many years has given me a unique slant on photography.” Part of this slant involves incorporating less conventional materials and effects into his shots (a favorite approach of his in general, as he’s made lights out of every unexpected source from scrap metal to old CD racks). He’s currently experimenting with LED fiber-optic light engines, dichroic film as gels, perforated metal sheets and a full-color laser projector, among other things. So far, the results are very intriguing – and he’s just getting started. Photography is a whole new ballgame, but as a true artist, Brannon is enjoying the creative process. “You tend to learn a lot about yourself as you explore a new art form,” Brannon said. “In my case, the unique effects of light and the simplicity of form always get my attention. Less really is more.” Well, less might be more from a design standpoint. But when it comes to a seasoned artist expanding his craft and creating exciting new work – I’d say “more” isn’t such a bad thing. To learn more about Zenlight Photography, visit guitarspeak or contact Mike Brannon at 210-414-3695. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




Tenured public relations firm launches with the excitement and energy of a start-up.


fter 15 years of successful public relations services, a local PR firm is experiencing a business [r]evolution, setting a new course and inviting Corpus Christi to connect with something new. Originally established in 2002, Kailo Communications Studio has served clients from around the region and across Texas in the industrial, financial, manufacturing, retail and nonprofit sectors. In late 2016, Doreen Harrell, agency manager and long-time employee, purchased sole ownership of the company. On May 24, KCS Public Relations (utilizing the acronym for Kailo Communications Studio) was unveiled as the company’s new name, along with a new brand and logo, tagline, redesigned website, expanded client services and a community giving program unique to the Coastal Bend region.


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“This company has a long history of successful leadership by passionate professional women,” Harrell says. “I am proud to have the opportunity to lead KCS Public Relations in a new direction and on to our next chapter. It’s an exciting time for KCS|PR!” Since taking ownership, this locally grown businesswoman has been busy creating a new vision for the company and making it her own, while also pay KCS|PR BRAND ing homage and LAUNCH EVENT remaining conGUESTS (FROM LEFT: ED CANTU nected to the WITH CANTU business success INSURANCE built over the AGENCY, TERRY SWEENEY FROM past 15 years. THE DMD/MARINA “We’ve been ARTS DISTRICT working hard AND MARISOL RAMIREZ WITH maintaining HURRICANE ALLEY current business WATERPARK) SHARING “WHEN operations while COMMUNICATION brainstorming MATTERS” an updated mission and vision, creating a look and a thematic approach that better reflects our business and appeals to a wider audience as relevant, innovative and forward-thinking,” Harrell says. “During the development phase of our company [r]evolution, words like ‘connect,’ ‘partner’ and ‘engage’ were mentioned in reference to forming and maintaining relationships. Our ‘duh’ moment came when we recognized public relations in its most basic form is simply about communication.” KCS|PR’s new tagline immediately became, “When communication matters” – “Why? Because communication always matters,” Harrell says emphatically. “It is the primary building block of connecting with others and successful rela-



Food.Wine. Full Bar. Music. Come ... Be Social.

FoodBoogie Test Kitchen Tuesdays Pop-up Kitchen Every 3rd Wednesday tionships, business or  NEW OWNER AND otherwise. I’m often ACCREDITED PUBLIC asked what public reRELATIONS (APR) lations is. I explain, PROFESSIONAL, DOREEN HARRELL, marketing is focused LEADS KCS PUBLIC on consumers, adverRELATIONS INTO ITS NEXT PHASE tising is focused on OF GROWTH products and public AND A MARKETrelations is focused FACING APPROACH TO BUSINESS on relationships.” AcDEVELOPMENT. cording to Harrell, KCS|PR is primed and ready to help clients build those relationships – effectively, authentically and honestly. At the company’s recent launch event, more than 120 KCS|PR clients, friends and family joined business, civic and community leaders along with the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the company’s 15th birthday and new brand reveal. “My team and I are grateful to have the support of the Corpus Christi business community,” Harrell says. “We look forward to the future growth potential of the company.” In addition to the new company brand, KCS|PR has been inspired by a national trend, led by media conglomerate EcoMedia, a CBS Company, to extend upon the services provided to clients by going one step further, doing more and making an impact on the community. KCS Community Connections

will redirect a portion of all client spending on PR services to a local nonprofit(s) annually. “Since it’s our first year as a new company and KCS Community Connections is in its infancy, we will kick off the program at 1 percent,” Harrell says. “But as we grow in service and success, so will the percentage we contribute.” Harrell anticipates the charitable initiative will motivate and inspire companies to partner with KCS|PR not only as a strategic business partner, but also as a philanthropic partner in service to the community. Moving forward, KCS|PR will continue to serve large corporate and industrial clients, but they are also focused on serving local small businesses and nonprofits. “By providing an affordable strategic consulting alternative,” Harrell says, “we can help fill the marketing/ PR gap often experienced by these smaller organizations due to resource constraints.” All client services provided by KCS|PR are custom-tailored and cover a wide spectrum of communication strategies to meet any business challenge or opportunity. “We are focused on being the premier full-service public relations firm in Corpus Christi by situating ourselves to take advantage of new opportunities in the market,” Harrell says. “Our success is defined by our ability to help clients connect with their target audience(s), enhance relationships and communicate effectively.”

When communication matters, KCS|PR provides solid public relations expertise that leads to powerful connections between companies and communities. Learn more about the KSC|PR [r]evolution at

Singles Mingle Every 3rd Thursday BassMint Party Every 1st Friday Street Brunch Sundays Live Music Thursday-Friday-Saturday

Tues-Thurs: 4-12am • Fri-Sat: 4-2am • Sun: 12-4pm

4102 S Staples St, Corpus Christi, TX 78411


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STAY SAFE The Better Business Bureau offers some tips for business owners and managers to avoid workplace injuries and accidents. By: KELLY TREVINO

TO HELP PREVENT ACCIDENTS IN THE WORKPLACE, BBB SERVING THE HEART OF TEXAS OFFERS THE FOLLOWING TIPS FOR BUSINESSES AND WORKERS:  Install a workplace safety program. A successful safety program depends on spotting hazards early, evaluating their risk and removing or controlling them before harm is done. It is just as important for a business office or a retail store to have a safety program in place as it is for a construction site or warehouse.  Ensure workplace is “accident free.” Slips, trips and falls are among the leading causes of workplace accidents. Most falls in the workplace are caused by wet floors or icy walkways, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Make sure wet floors are clearly marked, and take steps to prevent walkways from icing over. If the workplace is a retail store, for example, be careful when lifting or


walking around with heavy objects. Be aware of your surroundings to avoid running into table displays and knocking over shelves or racks that could cause serious injury.  Set up measures to avoid workplace violence. While no one expects violence in the workplace, it does happen. On-the-job shootings and attacks come from coworkers and outsiders, like robbers. It’s important for business owners and managers to carefully review security procedures for the business, storefront, employees and customers. Decide if you need security guards. And set up avenues to resolve workplace disputes before they escalate.  Make sure equipment and infrastructure are in good condition. The main workplace safety and health law in the United States is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which requires all private-sector employees to provide a safe workplace, free of hazards, to their employees. According to the National Safety Council, 25 percent of injuries occur when people get struck, caught or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment or other heavy objects. BBB recommends businesses store heavy objects close to the floor and wear the proper personal protective equipment. Always be aware of moving equipment in your work area.

For more important business advice, visit our website at under the “For Businesses” section, or our independent blog, Kelly Trevino is the regional director for the Corpus Christi/Victoria area of Better Business Bureau serving the heart of Texas. Trevino is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her at 361-945-7352 or


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workplace injury can be a nightmare for a business to deal with. You have an injured coworker, lost productivity and a probable workman’s compensation claim. As part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) mission, BBB encourages and supports best practices by educating consumers, employees and businesses. Safety should be the most important part of the workplace, as it protects the well-being of employees and can increase productivity and lower production days lost due to work-related injuries. In 2015, nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Every business is different. We get that. That’s why we provide unique investment levels, designed to help you right where you are. Don’t just take our word for it.

Research Shows... Consumers are 63% more likely to buy from a business that is a Chamber member. Companies enjoy a 49% increase in consumer favorability rating for being a member of the Chamber.

Membership is valuable & affordable, with investment starting at less than $42 per month

Consumers are 73% more likely to be highly aware of a business if it is a member of the Chamber, and 68% more likely to think positively of its local reputation. 7/10 consumers believe that being actively involved in the Chamber is an effective strategy for enhancing a business’ reputation and for demonstrating that it uses good business practices. Source: Shapiro Group, Atlanta, GA

The United Corpus Christi Chamber is your... PARTNER IN PROMOTION

Increase your visibility, get the word out, gain access to cost-effective and often free advertising for your business.


United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce 602 N. Staples Street, St. 150 Corpus Christi, TX 78401

Looking for leads, networking and business showcase opportunities? You’ve come to the right place.

(361) 881-1800


For more information on Chamber membership contact Efrain Franco,

We are your voice on issues that affect business and we maintain direct contact with leaders in all levels of government. When you need change, we make change happen.





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ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE Eric Jaramillo is the man in charge of Corpus Christi’s most exciting events. By: Caroline R. Freeman Photos by: Dark Lab

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ric Jaramillo’s journey to the prominent and influential position of general manager at the SMG-managed American Bank Center was paved by hard work, enthusiasm and ingenuity. With the American Bank Center Convention Center, Arena and Selena Auditorium at the core of Corpus Christi’s events, Jaramillo makes the Coastal Bend more progressive every day. “I am very fortunate to be in a position to make such progression happen on a day-to-day basis,” Jaramillo says.

Jaramillo is a born-and-raised Texan who grew up in San Antonio. While studying marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio, he obtained an internship on the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs game operations crew, his lifelong favorite team. “I’ll never forget my first day of orientation with the Spurs back in ‘02,” he says. “The thing that set off the light bulb for me was the game operations manager saying, ‘What you put into this is what you are going to get out of it.’ I still have that mentality instilled in me from day one.” Before the first game of the season, Jaramillo contacted all the other game

overtime,” he laughs. “Again, what you put into this is what you’re going to get out of it.” As a part of the Spurs Sports and Entertainment game crew, Jaramillo helped organize and execute the creative ingame promotions for the NBA Spurs, WNBA Silver Stars and AHL Rampage. In his first year in the business, the Spurs won the national championship. Jaramillo recalls, “the confetti falling down from the rafters, my team I’ve loved growing up ... it was an unbelievable introduction to the industry. I immediately fell in love with it.” Jaramillo was with Spurs Sports and Entertainment for a total of four years. He transitioned from sports franchise’s game crew and internship into working fulltime on concerts and family shows for the venue, AT&T Center. “I was a part-time intern while going to school. Then I graduated and didn’t tell them because I didn’t want to leave!” he says. “I went into another year with the Spurs and got called into HR in the middle of the season. They asked, ‘Did you graduate?’ At that point, I’d been there three years and loved it and knew it was the direction I wanted to go. However, I was deathly afraid of them telling me that I had to move on since I had already graduated. To my surprise, they said, ‘Well, we have to bring you on part-time

JARAMILLO BELIEVES CORPUS CHRISTI HAS HUGE OPPORTUNIT Y FOR GROW TH. crewmembers and told them that if they ever needed someone to cover their shifts, to let him be their first call. “I got email after email. I was hitting overtime every week for the game crew, and nobody had ever hit overtime working game crew before but me. The next season, the Spurs actually made a policy that no game crewmembers could get


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with our office staff and pay you hourly now!’” After a year of working part-time, he gravitated more and more toward the operations aspect of venue management and was promoted to a fulltime event marketing coordinator for Community Arena Management, AT&T Center’s venue management group. After several years, he was ready to take on more responsibility and leadership. Jaramillo applied for management positions and interviewed all over the country, including at the American Bank Center. He explains his fortuitous connection to Corpus Christi: “While working at AT&T Center, I worked as a DJ at the venue on the side – playing music, getting people excited before the games. The GM of the American Bank Center went to the Spurs games and would see me outside, so he knew who I was. When I applied for the job, he checked out my references and recommended me.”


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SMG, a worldwide entertainment and conference venue management firm, and the City of Corpus Christi hired Jaramillo as the SMG-managed American Bank Center’s director of marketing. The position was a great fit, and Jaramillo quickly fell in love with Corpus, met his wife and began laying down his roots in the Coastal Bend. The acting general manager at the time, Jim Salamenta, became an influential person in his life. “The GM came from an operations world,” Jaramillo says. “He knew everything. He could walk into the restroom and tell you the chemicals they use to clean it. I told him I wanted to download ev-

erything he had upstairs into my own head.” They soon began meeting every other week as Jaramillo strived to learn everything his mentor knew about operations, from finances to HVAC systems. When Salamenta decided to move, he recommended Jaramillo as his successor.

DON’T LOOK DOWN – LOOK UP! GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN CORPUS.” Jaramillo explains: “He recommended me as taking over one day, so they promoted me to assistant GM/director of marketing. I was still in the marketing world, which I love, but I was in a position to lead and run departments and get involved officially instead of just inquiring. A year-and-a-half later, he moved and I was promoted to general manager.” As the general manager, Jaramillo wears many hats, and no two days are the same. Jaramillo oversees department heads, establishes and maintains relationships with promoters, prepares and negotiates contracts and manages budgets, among many other responsibilities. It is through these many duties at the SMG-managed American Bank Center that Jaramillo consistently improves the quality of life for Corpus Christians and the city as a whole. Jaramillo strongly believes Corpus Christi has huge opportunity for growth, and he recognizes the city investing in itself. He ac-

knowledges that Corpus is already on the map in many ways. “We have had Cirque du Soleil, Dolly Parton, Beach Boys, HBO boxing, Def Leppard and the Selena MAC launch,” he says. “I get to meet those people who are coming in from out of state and even out of the country. It’s amazing! But soon, I believe Corpus will really be on the map even more than we are now.” Jaramillo and the SMG-managed American Bank Center are directly related to Corpus Christi’s growth, and under Jaramillo’s leadership, Corpus has experienced many of the most famous and sought-after acts in the world, such as Elton John, Enrique Iglesias, Kevin Hart, WWE Elimination Chamber Pay Per View, Lil Wayne and Jerry Seinfeld. “For me to be in the position to host these events is huge,” Jaramillo says. “We’re a progressive town because we’re truly a destination.” Though he is not one to be star-struck with

celebrities, he admits, “When I see a full-house arena or auditorium, I get goose bumps. It’s not because of who is onstage; it’s because of the crowd. I see the passion that’s there. They spend their hard-earned money to be here for three or four hours – to leave their problems at the door and enjoy an entrainment experience.” Looking forward, Jaramillo hopes to deepen his roots by starting a family while continuing his stellar leadership of Corpus Christi’s premier event spaces. “Don’t look down – look up! Good things are happening. Things are bright here in Corpus,” he smiles. And the future looks just as sunny for the passionate, skilled and inventive Eric Jaramillo.

For more information, visit

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Robert and Courtney De Pol create sleek, high-performing timepieces at affordable prices for aviators and military enthusiasts. By: Anne Booher Photos by: Dark Lab


aval aviators take great risks daily, whether they are training students, landing on an aircraft carrier at night or flying missions in our nation’s defense. It is a specialized camaraderie, and while it is, at times, associated with mirrored sunglasses and awesome ‘80s movies, it forges a bond unlike any other. Traditionally, members of aviation squadrons commemorate those times by purchasing specialized watches, meant to be functional as well as a treasure to be passed down through generations. Robert De Pol decided to honor that bond by creating such a timepiece that appeals to both aviators and military enthusiasts while staying at an affordable price point.

Naval roots run deep for the De Pols. Originally from Annapolis, Md., Robert is an active-duty Naval aviator stationed in Kingsville. His wife, Courtney, handles the accounting and financial component of the business and is also a fulltime engineer for the Navy. “I see how aviators react to watches. It’s all about invoking a feeling. Your watches tell the story of your life – where you’ve been and the experiences you’ve had,” Robert explains. “When I was on deployment, our squadron decided to do a custom watch buy. Most of the options can cost upwards of $5,000, and I thought, there has to be a more affordable alternative.”  With that motivation and in the middle of an overseas deployment, De Pol set out to design and manufacture his own. He sat down with Courtney in the Singapore Marriott, and together, they hashed out a business plan on the back of a napkin. Within a year, they had selected an American manufacturer and prototypes came soon after. “I saw a void in the market for this specific price point of customized watches and decided to fill it,” De Pol says. “It’s hard to get a junior officer with a family and a house to spend several thousand dollars on a watch. So I decided to create a quality timepiece for under $1,000. I came up with two models: the LSO, which is vital to how we time landings, and the Tailhook, which is a key player in aviation on the ship.” In addition to their air of sophistication, functionality was an essential component. “I wanted to use a Swiss movement to maintain precision, accuracy and quality,” De Pol explains. “Precise timing is critical, and these watches can be used as training tools.” Every 60 seconds, a plane lands on an aircraft carrier and each pilot has a window of time they must adhere to, which comes down to a matter of 15 to 18 seconds. The landing signal officer (LSO) is on the ship’s platform all day, timing and recording these landings within seconds of one another. If you look at the LSO model, there are four colors around the bezel: green, yellow, brown and red. Green is a pilot’s goal, within the required window of time. Yellow is a warning for either just too early or just too late, and brown and red will adversely affect the pilot’s grade.  “Everybody’s grade is put up on the ship. Yes, it’s a fun game and helps pilots establish a baseline upon which to improve, but in addition, it keeps people safe by being competitive and avoiding complacency. If these grades didn’t exist, mistakes would start to happen.”  Aside from Swiss movements, the watch is assembled entirely in the United States. “Our main assembly is in Florida, then those models

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are sent to me and Joel Smith, a local watchmaker and friend, in Corpus Christi to be customized,” De Pol says. Corpus Christi and South Texas have fueled the development of their company. “I love the Corpus area because I’ve developed this awesome network. First of all, the military culture fits right in with our mission. Secondly, Joel, a former P-3 pilot, is an amazing mentor and his watch-making skills enhance our product. He has even developed


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tools specifically for working on the De Pol brand, and has taught me so much about this process. Finally, we have an amazing engraver in the San Antonio area, and their work has been flawless.” Offering more custom and personalization options for his clients is one of De Pol’s top priorities. “Our future expansion plan includes marketing our product to corporations, fraternities, sororities, fire departments or any organization that wants to honor a specific event,” he says.  De Pol’s watches are sleek and professional, and they can be designed with any logo, squadron or business in mind. In addition to offering limitless custom options, they plan to add a line of women’s watches to their collection. “We want to bring a part of military aviation to the public,” De Pol says. “People like to associate themselves with flying and the atmosphere around it. It’s dreamy – it’s what little kids want to be when they grow up.” De Pol watches capture that mystique, delivering a high-performing timepiece that will eventually become a cherished part of one’s heritage.


For more information, visit I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




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Art the Builder: his advantageous approach, career success and support of community

By Pho : Jess tos ica D by: u Dar sek k La b

“Eight years ago, I decided to start flipping houses,” explains Art Ramirez, aka Art the Builder. His marketing strategy and savvy technology background have elevated his social media and advertising presence. He explains, “75 percent of our leads, in some shape or form, come through Facebook marketing.” In addition, Art’s success stems from using energy-efficient products and a higher quality of craftsmanship. “We use great products that will save clients money in the long run,” he says. “It may cost more upfront, but clients ultimately save money.” Building exquisite homes, his specialties include remodels and new construction – and he recently added industrial jobs to his portfolio.

myself to become a victim of circumstance.” Receiving his bachelor’s degree in business management and an associate’s degree in information systems, Art worked his way up the ranks in the field of IT. Yet something still felt out of place. “I knew I wasn’t 100 percent passionate about it,” he confides. “I felt there was more in life I wasn’t touching on.” Although his father pushed him to pursue IT, construction was Art’s true calling. He began flipping houses for fun, realizing he truly loved it and could nearly match his income in IT. He resigned and started his own construction business.

Art’s promise: quality construction hits home

One month into his new endeavor, Art received a call from a former IT client: Mark Garza, president and owner of Kingdom Builders. Mark was interested in login credentials for his Kingdom Builders website. “After a quick 10-minute catch-up conversation over the phone, Mark and I scheduled a meeting with each other that Friday,” he laughs. “Within two hours, we formed Summit Construction, and our partnership has been running three years strong.” With Art handling most of the business side, including contracts, correspondence and marketing, Mark oversees the operations, scheduling and management. “The great thing is, we have the ability to swap roles at any time.”

Growing up in Agua Dulce, Art’s journey has been a humbling one. His Facebook page reads: “The House That Built Me,” with a backdrop photo of his childhood home. “My father was a carpenter throughout my childhood,” he describes. Growing up, his family scrapped by. “We lived in a house that was less than 800 square feet with five people living in it,” he says. “We didn't have air conditioning until my later years. As kids, we knew what candles were, not because a storm had come through, but because (at times) we couldn’t pay the light bill.” Although times were tough, he describes boldly, “I wouldn’t allow


Opportunity knocks

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Art the Builder’s Keys to Success:

 Tackle the day: Early-to-rise, Art hits the gym at 4 a.m.! Ambitiously scheduling his day by 5 a.m., he is sure to get his kids off to school by 7:45 a.m. He encourages others to seize the day. “Not everyone has a lot of encouragement,” he says. “I try to post something positive every morning so that I might be able to ignite the fire in other people. Perhaps it's direction and guidance I didn’t have and I'm trying to provide that for others.”  Transparency and customer partnerships: “If it’s good news or bad news, we will tell you (the client) right away. If it’s bad news, we’ll tell you even faster!” Art explains. Partnering with the customer, he understands the value of customer feedback and satisfaction. “The word-of-mouth is strong when the customer has a good experience.”  Technology is key for communication and marketing: “When I first started marketing and putting my face everywhere, I was slightly ridiculed. I was told, ‘That’s not what builders do; that's what realtors do. Why would you want to do that?’” However, Art has found that marketing his profile picture on social media outlets, billboards and bus benches has given the public familiarity with Art the Builder.  Delegate tasks and improve operational efficiency: “You can’t swing hammers, write contracts and manage operations all at the same

time,” Art explains. “When you learn how to delegate responsibility to the right person, it works out well.”  Give back: “I’ve helped people (and causes)  both emotionally and financially when I could,” Art says. “I’ve helped with scholarships, clothes, food and recommendations. I want to help how I can. I’ve been blessed. It is though God that all things are possible, and I want to pay that forward." “Most of my drive is my wife and my kids,” explains Art of his strong family values. Yet much of his success has been built upon helping people and building a network without selfish intentions. “I always try to motivate people to be the best they can,” Art explains enthusiastically. “There is plenty out there for everyone. Why not help each other out?” From residential ranch style to Victorian and contemporary, Art’s team has expanded into larger projects, including Odem High School and Mattress One Retail Store renovation on SPID, as well as the new Allergy Partners Medical Facility in Esplanade Medical District. Their next goal is to enter the industrial market. “We don’t try to control the build,” Art explains. “We’d rather see eye-to-eye with our clients as a partnership so that the experience is great on both sides. We love challenges. If it’s different and difficult, we are up for the job!”

For more information, look for Art the Builder on Facebook at, or contact Art directly at

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THE RIGHT TRACK Looking for life insurance? Here are three questions to ask before making a decision.


our life insurance needs will ebb and flow throughout your lifetime. Buying a term policy early in your career or taking a basic employer-issued life insurance policy is a common course of action. However, deciding how much and what type of life insurance you need at each stage of your life will serve you and your loved ones much better. One simple thing to keep in mind throughout this process is that the more responsibility you have, the more life insurance you need. Here are three questions to consider: 1. WHO DEPENDS ON ME? Of course, if you have children, a term life insurance policy that is large enough to pay off your home and debts with some money left over to support your family while

your spouse or partner grieves and recalibrates the new financial situation is the option that gives everyone peace of mind. Many times, it’s easy to overlook the other people who depend on you. The care of elderly parents or grandparents, siblings or people in your family with special needs should also be considered carefully when deciding how much basic life insurance to buy. You can also get a working idea of how much you might need with the Life Happens Life Insurance Needs Calculator (see below). 2. HOW MUCH INSURANCE CAN I AFFORD? A term life insurance policy that covers the care of your loved ones in the event of your untimely death is an inexpensive option, if you are under 40 and in reasonably good health.

Permanent life insurance is worth researching if you know you have a permanent need for life insurance, such as caring for a special-needs child or sibling. It also makes sense if you’d like certain benefits beyond a guaranteed death benefit for your loved ones, like premiums that do not increase with age or changing health conditions, and a cash value that you can borrow against. If you can afford the additional premium amount and expect your financial situation and income to remain stable long-term, whole life insurance policies offer living benefits that may outweigh the temporary pain of higher premiums. 3. HOW HEALTHY AM I? People in great health who have only a little bit of wiggle room in their monthly budget may want to consider a combination of term and permanent life insurance cov-

erage. Your clean bill of health will keep premiums for both types of insurance lower than if you have major health issues. If you have a term life insurance policy, but want more coverage, adding a permanent policy to the mix may be the ideal answer. By adding a permanent policy with a cash-value element to your portfolio, you also open a world of options that could help add to your nest egg in retirement, start a business or pursue a second career, among other benefits. It is possible to have multiple policies and customize your life insurance to your changing wants and needs. Choosing a policy or combination of policies that gives you and your family the greatest potential benefit may seem tricky. So simplifying the process by asking these three questions will set you on the right track.

For more information, please contact Ruben Bonilla with Farmers Insurance at 361-881-1033 (office), 361-944-8400 (cell) or You may also visit the firm online at And the Life Happens Life Insurance Needs Calculator can be found here:


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201 Bayside - $875,000

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CHANGES AND CHALLENGES The current state of local real estate: a look at the numbers


ur nation and local region have both certainly seen some big changes in the past months – and it’s interesting to see which parts of our real estate market are reflecting dramatic fluctuations and which are holding relatively steady. The following data were presented by the Texas Realtor Data Relevance Project, which is a partnership among the Texas Association of Realtors and local Realtor associations throughout the state. Analysis of these data is provided through a research agreement with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in College Station,


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Texas. Please keep in mind that this data is collected and analyzed from Multiple Listing Services (MLS), and does not include unreported data. Overall, the City of Corpus Christi’s market has seen an increase in activity as we have entered the summer months, as expected; however, “data doesn’t lie,” and we have some big changes since last year. Comparing May 2017 to May 2016 (the most recent data available at time of publication), the median price is $185,000, which is only down 2.6 percent compared to May 2016. However, the number of active listings is up 23.2 percent (at 1,790 in May 2017), but the actual closed


sales is only up 2.2 percent (380 properties sold in May 2017). Considering the distribution of sales, the vast majority of sales (47.1 percent) of May 2017 sales were $100,000 to $199,999. Ten-point-seven percent of sales were less than $100,000, 26.6 percent were $200,000 to $299,999, 11.0 percent were $300,000 to $399,999 and the small remaining portion was over $400,000. The average total days on market for all homes sold was 112 days (74 days on market, and then 38 days to close once under contract). When considering Nueces County overall, the picture is similar to the City of Corpus Christi (which is expected considering



that the city comprises the majority of the county data also). The Corpus Christi Association of Realtors jurisdiction also includes Jim Wells County, consisting of the cities of Alice, Ben Bolt, Orange Grove and Premont. Without a doubt, these communities have seen their ups and downs, driven largely by the petroleum industry. The current picture for Jim Wells County still reflects a downcast market. The price of homes is much lower than it was in May 2016 – 15.6 percent lower (at $111,000), to be exact. Active listings are up 38.2 percent (152 active listings in May 2017), and there is still over a year (12.2 months) of inventory currently available. The good news: The number of closed sales is up 20 percent compared to May 2016, which sounds pretty promising, but there were still only 12 individual sales reported this May. Of those sales, 50 percent were $0 to $99,999, 33.3 percent were $100,000 to $199,999 and 16.7 percent were $200,000 to $299,999. There were no sales reported over $299,999. The San Patricio County Association of Realtors submits data for the cities of San Patricio County. It’s very interesting to keep an eye on the real estate market activity in Portland right now. With the controversy surrounding the industrial growth in their backyard, their market is suffering. In Portland alone, there has been a 72.6 percent increase in active listings comparing May 2016 to May 2017, with 126 properties for sales this May. That is a huge change. The good news: The number of closed sales is up 33.3 percent for the same period. So, even though an unusual number of homes are being listed for sale, many of them are selling. Median price of homes in Portland is slightly down by 11 percent ($204,600). Of the 126 properties sold this May, most of them were in the $100,000$199,999 (48.2 percent) range. Of the others, 29.6 percent were $200,000 to $299,999, 14.8 percent were $300,000 to $399,999 and 7.4 percent were $400,000 to $499,999. There were no sales reported over $500,000 this May. When considering all cities in San Patricio County (Portland, Gregory, Sinton, Taft, Mathis, Odem, Aransas Pass, Ingleside and Ingleside On The Bay), the overall impression is less volatile. The median price is down 8.8 percent (at $178,000). The number of active listings is up 37.2 percent overall for the county, but the number of closed sales is also up 35.7 percent countywide. There were 76 properties sold in May 2017 – 14.3 percent were $0 to $99,999, 42.9 percent were $100,000 to $199,999, 27.1 percent were $200,000 to $299,999, 10.0 percent were $300,000 to $399,999 and the remaining percentage were over $400,000. The average number of days from listing to contract was 103 days, with 36 days from contracting to close, for an average of 139 total days on market. It will be interesting to see how our real estate market continues to adjust as our communities adapt to some major changes and challenges. If you would like specific data for your area, please feel free to contact me anytime.

For more information, please contact Coral Dworaczyk, M.S., Ph.D., Realtor, at 979-229-2836 or You may also visit

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njoying the outdoors? As you relax and enjoy the outdoors this summer, include all-weather outdoor furniture. My Coastal Home provides options for durable outdoor furniture. When you think about the hot sun, UV rays, rain, sand and human use, consider using Envirowood or Polywood furniture. Seaside Casual and Wildrige both offer long-term options for durable, long-lasting furniture. Do you like to cook outdoors or entertain by the pool? Think about the height of the outside dining tables or the bar height – can you see over your balcony railings? For sitting or conversations, try the standard Adirondack chairs and baror balcony-height chairs. Poly/recycled plastic furniture comes with a 20-year warranty. It also has UV ray protective ingredi-

ents to ensure you can leave it out 12 months of the year. Bright colors like teal, yellow, orange, bright blue, red, lime green and hot pink will brighten up any outside area. If you like more traditional colors, you can also get browns (looks like a wood grain), charcoal, navy, summer white, natural/tan, chestnut or cranberry. Furniture on the outside can enhance the exterior impression of your home when you choose one of the “brighter” colors. You can also mix and match – i.e. pair white with bright blue, white with hot pink, white with lime green or even dark brown with natural. If you have investment rental properties, think “poly” outdoor furniture. Think new furniture this year. Your guest will enjoy the simplicity of the furniture and most likely will not be able to damage it. The heaviness of this type of furniture makes it a great


addition to beach properties, since the wind is not as likely to move it around or blow it off the deck. Add ambiance to your outdoor furniture with indoor/outdoor rugs, lanterns and hanging lights that have a solar panel. They turn on and off with the light sensitivity, making your patio/exterior areas even more enjoyable. The price of this quality furniture may seem high at first glance. Let’s imagine buying a “big box” product for one-third less. Do the math, and you will certainly find that “you get what you pay for.” Buy poly furniture once, or buy metal-based products every 12 to 18 months. Quality, great look, great sit and great comfort will bring you to shop for the best in the outdoor industry. Recycled plastic has all of these qualities (not knock-off brands). Buy this summer, and enjoy for many summers to come. Outdoor furniture: Relax and enjoy.

Judy Smith is the owner of My Coastal Home Furniture Stores in North Padre Island, Port Aransas and Rockport. For more information, visit


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Looking for outdoor furniture? My Coastal Home offers some suggestions for comfortable, quality pieces that will enhance your outdoor spaces for summers to come. By: JUDY SMITH



It’s a beautiful thing… being shot by David! My job is to make you and your business look good in all of your photographic needs


“The Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a 77 year old organization, hosts all its events at the Ortiz Center. It is such a unique venue to host our events, with an amazing view of the Port, where we always find attentive staff and reliable service. We are happy to have a partner like Spectra!” Teresa Rodriguez Bartlett, President & CEO, CCHCC

PROFESSIONAL P H O T O G R A P H Y: R E A L E S TAT E MARKETING W E B S I T E I L L U S T R AT I O N Award-winning International photographer “Big Wig” photographer of the year for American Advertising Federation - Corpus Christi

GREAT FOR ■ Meetings + Training Seminars ■ Luncheons + Banquets ■ Galas + Special Events ■ Trade Shows ■ Job Fairs With 10 rooms that can accommodate groups of 10 to 850.




SOMETHING NEW Come to the Corpus Christi International Airport, and #SeeCC for yourself! By: KIM BRIDGER-HUNT

to know Corpus Christi during the time they spend in the airport. But it’s not just for visitors to the Coastal Bend. CCIA is a public building that hosts more than one million people every year. Many customers at CCIA are local residents who travel through the airport a few times a year, and who may not always take the time to stop and appreciate the place they call home. Next time you visit CCIA, fly on up to the second floor of the terminal and check out the experience that awaits. Take some pictures and include #SeeCC when you post them on social media. And remember that CCIA is a modern, convenient and welcoming place for all who depend on it. When it’s time to take your next trip, FlyCCIA! The more you use your airport, the better the chances of expanded air service options in the future.


Kim Bridger-Hunt is the marketing manager at the Corpus Christi International Airport. To learn more, contact her at


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t’s no secret that one of the things visitors love about Corpus Christi is the beautiful Bayfront. So it stands to reason that the Bayfront is the backdrop for literally thousands of pictures taken every day. The truth is, when you are a destination city, there are countless places that are photographed over and over for the rest of the world to see. Airports are now getting into the swing of things by providing space for a unique experience for both visitors and locals alike. When visitors arrive at Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA), they can get a taste of the city before they ever leave the terminal. The Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB) has created a one-of-a-kind visitor experience at CCIA that will surely entice visitors to explore. The photo wall is a unique blend of some of the iconic sites and activities that make Corpus Christi so very special. But it’s not just a beautiful display. The CCCVB recently launched a campaign called #SeeCC, which aims to showcase Corpus Christi in the ever-changing and expanding social media sphere. Visitors and locals need only take pictures of their friends and families and post them on social media using the #SeeCC in the body of the post. Those pictures end up being seen not only by each person’s social media friends, but also by people all over the world who happen upon the #SeeCC designation. At CCIA, there has been a concerted effort underway to give the terminal the look and feel of the community. Featuring the city’s history and natural habitat in museum-quality displays allows visitors to get

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INGREDIENTS: 2 to 3 pickling cucumbers (depending on how thin you slice them) 1/2 cup Heinz Perfect Pepper vinegar (or sub white vinegar if unavailable) 1/2 cup water 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 clove garlic, crushed Handful of fresh dill

INSTRUCTIONS: 1/ Chop cucumbers into bite-sized chips, and pack them into a jar or container, layering the fresh dill throughout. Set aside. 2/ In a small saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. 3/ Pour cooled liquid over cucumbers, ensuring that slices are completely submerged. Add additional water if it doesn’t cover them entirely. 4/ Close lid and refrigerate for 48 hours for a perfect garlicky herb pickle flavor. 5/ Pickles will last about 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Do not store at room temperature. *Recipe makes approximately one 16-ounce jar of pickles.


For more information, visit


Enjoy these 48-hour garlic-dill pickle chips for a refreshing summer snack. IF THE THOUGHT of making your own fresh crunchy pickles sounds refreshing, but the thought of learning proper canning procedures sounds more like homework, opt instead for a quick pickle brine. This one takes about 48 hours to achieve that perfect chip, and you can use any container with a lid that’s on hand. Just be sure to keep them refrigerated! You’re 48 hours away from a great summer snack.


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(15 and 16-week sessions) through July 20 Pay tuition by July 20 5503 SOUTH STAPLES ST. CORPUS CHRISTI, TX 78411 361.991.4967 FAX: 361.991.2361 TOLL FREE: 866.991.4967

See for more Fall Registration dates and payment deadlines through August!


Registration Hotline (361) 698-1290 New!

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5301 Everhart Rd., Ste. C, Corpus Christi 361-855-7777

Pay tuition on your mobile device. Installment Plan available for Fall. VikingPay available on the VikingGo mobile app for iOS and Android! Get more info and important dates: Del Mar College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M





ave you ever watched a suspenseful movie or read a detective novel, like Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes, where they have to decipher some secret code in order to get the next clue or escape or find out “who dunnit”? Today’s next best thing seems to be escape rooms filled with mystery, puzzles, clues and the excitement of testing your wits to escape within a set time. Have you ever heard of them? Come along, gumshoe, for a clue-finding experience, and discover escape room themes and locations you may not have known about before. WHAT IS AN ESCAPE ROOM? Inspired by “escape-the-room”style video games, escape rooms are a new type of immersive adventure game, often used for entertainment with friends and family or as a team-building experience with corporate groups. In this physical adventure game, players are locked in a room with other participants and have to solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand, all within a set time limit to unveil the secret plot, which is hidden within the rooms. Participants must be observant, explore the room and use critical thinking to be successful.  

WHAT KINDS OF ESCAPE ROOMS ARE THERE? These games are as exciting and challenging as video games, but better because you are really there, being part of the action and experiencing a level of interactivity that can’t be found in any other type of game. You can move and touch objects with your own two hands and listen to sounds in real surroundings rather than through headphones. If you want to experience a fully immersive game, try one of these rooms. 11TH HOUR ESCAPE IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS  Cottage Chaos: Your neighbor, Ethel, frantically called for your help. Her nephew, Kevin, moved into her spare bedroom, and he’s in there conducting science experiments! She discovered a countdown timer and needs your help to stop the experiment from spreading … before time runs out!    Pirate Captives: Your ship has been taken captive. You end up locked in the brig, and the only way to become part of the crew is to solve your way out. If you try to cheat or don’t make it out in time, you’ll become fish food, matey.  

GREAT ROOM ESCAPE IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS  Countdown: The missile defense system has been sabotaged, a missile has been launched toward your location and you only have an hour to bring the system back online to prevent a disaster.    Zombie Room: Trapped with no way out, a bloodthirsty zombie invades the room.   THE ESCAPE GAME IN AUSTIN, TEXAS    Gold Rush: For nearly two centuries, the hope of gold has lured people to the hills of Northern California. No one was captivated more than Clyde Hamilton, a greedy gold prospector who loved to gamble. Clyde made too many bets with the wrong crowd, and now he’s missing. You’ve been tipped off to where he stashed his gold … but so has the mob. Finders, keepers.    The Heist: Stealing is wrong, most of the time. This is an exciting challenge of beating thieves at their own game. If you succeed in your mission, you will become a national hero! If you fail, you will be treated as a common criminal by the authorities.    Prison Break: The year is 1955, and you’ve been wrongfully ac-

cused of a crime and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Your new “home” is a cell that once belonged to an inmate who disappeared without a trace … or did he? Some claim he escaped; others swear he was murdered by the infamously cruel warden. But no one actually knows. Can you escape before you suffer the same fate?  Classified: Your team, an international anti-terrorist organization, has been assigned to a critical covert mission. Your objective? Stop a major international terrorist threat by gathering details on the impending attack. In this thrilling high-stakes mission, it’s up to you to get inside the head of the masterminds and infiltrate their evil plan.   CAN YOU ESCAPE? While each room is uniquely tailored to provide a different experience, an escape room is a perfect place to have fun and test your wits. Since these rooms are completely indoors, they are perfect for vacations and traveling, especially when bad weather takes over the day. Escape from mundane activities, and try one of these rooms. Our time is up for this mind-blowing revelation; we hope it turns you into a clue-finding detective. Remember to be aware of your surroundings, for you never know when the slightest object will become a key to your next adventure.

Sylvia Slezak is the director of marketing and social media at For more information on where to relax, have fun and discover new adventures, visit us online at to find local premier businesses, restaurants, events, attractions and more.


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Discover a new type of immersive game where virtual code-cracking and adventure are brought to life. By: SYLVIA SLEZAK


361.881.1033 2727 Morgan Ave., Ste. 300 Corpus Christi, TX 78405


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n aviation, pilots are taught that a key to successful flying is to trust the flight instruments. It’s a skill they work to develop. Without instrument training, a pilot’s tendency is to operate the airplane based on the body’s natural feedback. Pilots call this flying by the seat of the pants. Our body’s feedback, however, isn’t reliable. Eyes can be fooled by optical illusions, and acceleration forces can temporarily wreak havoc on one’s sense of spatial orientation. In contrast, the instruments give an accurate picture of the aircraft’s attitude and position. This lesson hits home the first time pilots experience “the leans” while flying in


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the clouds. Although the plane may be perfectly straight and level, pilots can feel as if they’re turning. If they ignore the instruments and attempt to compensate for this false perception, they could accidentally roll the aircraft inverted. Spiritually, we have the same sort of tendency: We tend to trust our judgment and perception instead of God’s word. We have the perfect instrument panel in the Bible. It gives us a wondrous picture of God and his plan for our lives. All too often, though, we’d rather fly by the seat of the pants, doing our own thing. After all, following God’s word means submission and


How to keep the wings level

accountability – things we really don’t like. As a result, we may feel like our lives is going straight and level, but a glance at the instrument panel would tell us the truth. We’re spiritually dead because of our sin. In effect, we’re upside down in the clouds. We just don’t realize it. Our only hope is Jesus Christ, who offers forgiveness for sins. The moment we receive him as Savior, he gives us life through his Holy Spirit. The Spirit acts as a sort of stabilizing gyroscope that keeps us oriented on God and the truth of his word. As our faith develops, we learn to yield control to Jesus, trusting him to keep the wings level during periods of turbulence. This is easier said than done. Like a pilot works to develop an instrument scan, we need to pursue our relationship with Jesus to help build our faith. Let me offer a three-fold way to make this pursuit: 1. Vertical pursuit: We draw close to God through daily Bible reading, prayer and worship. The Bible is how God speaks to us. The same words that created light in Genesis are ready to shine light in our lives, if we read them. Prayer, in turn, is our conversation back to God. Worship is the natural outflow of this Bible-prayer dialogue. 2. Horizontal action: By imitating Jesus in loving, forgiving, serving and being merciful to others, we take the focus off ourselves and our circumstances. Through this effort, we fulfill Christ’s command to love our neighbor, and we allow the Spirit to take control and begin to work in us. 3. Personal purity: When we walk in obedience to God’s word, we enjoy the outflow of his love and mercy in our lives. Obedience provides a relational connectedness that helps us trust God in life’s storms. Obedience isn’t something that happens all at once. We are changed degree by degree as the Spirit works in us. Even with this pursuit plan in place, we’ll still struggle with “the leans” from time to time. This is a normal part of the Christian experience. However, as we grow in our faith, we’ll learn to give God more and more control. Through his ongoing grace, this will keep our wings level whatever weather we encounter.

For more information about God’s good news, contact Randy Green at randy@, or visit GracePoint on the Web at

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Summertime in the Coastal Bend

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Angelica, Local Spokesmodel, & Rene “Bo” Vela Jr., Local Attorney Husband-&-Wife Professional Duo Balances Career, Family & Community


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The Vela Family: Angelica & Bo, Adelina (8), Alessandra (4), Ariana (3) , Tres (15 months)


We understand that there is a lot of need here in our community. We also know that the people who can benefit most from our goodwill are right in front of us: our family. A great community begins at home.� I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



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Inspire Coastal Bend Business July/August 2017  
Inspire Coastal Bend Business July/August 2017