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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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I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

OPENING MARCH 2! Brooks Brothers Factory Store | H&M | Guess Factory Store Nike Factory Store | Express | Toys “R” Us | SKECHERS … and more!


fabulous brands.

Goodbye full prices. SAVE U P TO 65%

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Time flies when you’re having fun. On March 1, 1977, Southwest Airlines® flew its first flight out of Corpus Christi International Airport. Thank you, Southwest® for 40 years of taking us places and getting us back home again.

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40 Years at



BUSINESS COACH 14 Get Lean SPECIAL FEATURE 16 Stellar Service FEATURES 18 Spring is in the Air 20 We’ve Got You Covered 22 Hidden Treasures 24 Sea Change REAL ESTATE 46 Comparing Changes HOME INTERIORS 48 What a Difference! TASTE 50 Cookie Classic SPIRITUALITY 52 An Act of Mercy NONPROFIT 54 Exploring Opportunity INSPIRED STYLE 56 Ali Choe







Celebrating 40 years of service at Corpus Christi International Airport, the airline and its people continue to bring something special to the Coastal Bend community.



Brothers Andy and Matt Crocker keep the legacy of this fourth-generation family business alive by continuing the tradition of great customer and community service.

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It’s ART Time at

Tracey’s Studio of Arts and Crafts





Holly Duvall

EDITOR Erin O’Brien

ART DIRECTOR Elisa Giordano


Where all you need is your imagination!

Greg Duvall

SOCIAL MEDIA Morgan Bartel


After School Activities Drawing Painting Ceramics Mosaics Clay Crafts Wreaths



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mandy Ashcraft Kim Bridger-Hunt Jessica Dusek Dr. Coral Dworaczyk Randy Green Dr. Ridge Hammons Connie Laughlin Mary Lietz Seamus McAfee Sylvia Slezak Judy Smith Sarona Winfrey Dayna Worchel


• Water color and Acrylic Classes • Mixed Media Classes • Weekly Homeschool ART Classes • ART Birthday Parties • Art Parties for all Occasions! • Kid’s Night Out! Second Friday of every month • Walk-ins are always welcome

Dustin Ashcraft Dark Lab Photography Michael Giordano David Olds Fotografie



361-371-5023 5922 Yorktown Blvd. Ste. 110 For advertising information, please call 361.548.1044 or email For editorial comments and suggestions, please email

MORGAN BARTEL SOCIAL MEDIA morgan@ 620.417.5392

7957 Wolverine Corpus Christi, Texas 78414 Phone: 361.548.1044 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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Great Food. Great Times. Great Experience. Happy Hour 4-7pm

7 Days a Week

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

Fri & Sat 11am-2am 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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• Relaxing atmosphere • Live piano player and singer every Friday and Saturday • Signature cocktails from all across the world

6917 S. Staples St., Corpus Christi | 361-334-2172 | 13 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



What’s the hottest lean strategy for small to mid-size businesses today?

CONNIE LAUGHLIN is a business consultant for UniqueHR. For more information on outsourcing your human resources to a PEO, you may contact her at 361-852-6392 or


WISE MANAGERS know efficient operations increase profitability! The term, “lean,” lends itself to eliminating waste and cost. But running “lean” is much more complex than going about slashing costs. Quality should always be the end goal. Tweaking business processes is never just a one-time deal; it’s creating a new mindset striving for the best value for clientele, all the while maintaining high profitability. The No. 1 most overlooked area of management in small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) is human resources (HR). HR encompasses not only who does payroll; it’s a complete strategic initiative, a robust multifaceted solution, for the success and manageability of your entire operation. Too many SMBs are handling what they consider adequate “HR” inhouse. In doing this, you’re paying more, you’re less efficient and you’re running too many risks. These people, including you, are 99.9 percent of the time not appropriately trained to oversee HR. In-house HR is not a lean strategy! HR is as crucial to success as any other area of your business. Employment litigation is at an alltime high. Employee morale, which is directly related to productivity, can sour! Your employees, your most valuable asset, can become dysfunctional. Your worksite policies, employee handbook, work schedules, benefits, documentation, work environment and other employee-related activities might not be following current laws or be beneficial to profitability. One proven solution is to outsource all employee administrative duties to a highly accredited professional employer organization (PEO). You’ll pay

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HIGH EMPLOYEE MORALE EQUALS ADDED PRODUCTIVITY AND PROFITABILITY. one entity to handle all HR activities, including payroll admin, safety, HR, workers’ compensation and benefits. Access to a certified pro in HR is a necessity. This person will not only keep you out of legal trouble, they bring valuable tools to a SMB. Every small business must have a tailored employee handbook, effective safety programs, access to a wide range of

employee training programs, an online payroll portal and highly developed risk management strategies. Well-managed HR helps garner high morale, no matter the situation. Don’t forget: High morale equals added productivity and profitability. Creating these programs and processes internally takes too much time, and just like everything else, those programs and processes need continual tweaking. If you’re overseeing HR inhouse, how do you know – with certainty – you’re doing it right? So don’t be wasteful with your time that’s better spent on core functions that produce revenue – outsource HR! SMBs must construct lean strategic initiatives and implement solid HR programs beneficial to the organization. It’s imperative that all employees are on the same page. The key to this success comes from the most basic element of business: HR.




DESTINATION STYLE 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 • Coach • Michael Kors • ULTA • Oakley Grimaldi's Pizzeria • LongHorn Steakhouse • Tilly’s • Papaya • OshKosh B’gosh • Victoria’s Secret Featured Fashion: francesca’s, Express, Journeys, Charming Charlie 5488 S. PADRE ISLAND DRIVE • LAPALMERA .COM I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




Meet Stellar Energy Solutions Employee of the Month Irene Middleton, who is being recognized for excellence in leadership and service. SPECIAL TO INSPIRE COASTAL BEND



hat is the answer to escalating energy prices? Stellar Energy Solutions is an experienced energy broker that works diligently to secure the absolute lowest energy rate for commercial businesses, nonprofit organizations such as schools and churches and certainly the residents of the greater Coastal Bend area. And with the recent grand opening of a branch office in the Rio Grande Valley, their outstanding service is even more far-reaching. But Tim Clark, president and founder, is the first to tell you that the success this company enjoys is due in large part to its employees. Irene Middleton, a leader at Stellar Energy Solutions, will soon celebrate four years with the company. Her enthusiasm for her work as a business development consultant is contagious. Her hard work for her clients

and her electrifying personality, no pun intended, allow her to earn a top spot in new acquisition accounts from month to month. Middleton is also a leader in the training and development of new employees. When her work is done, she is busy playing her bass guitar alongside other praise team members at The Door Christian Fellowship, as they lead in song worship. Ask Middleton what she likes best about her job, and she gushes, “It’s my home away from home! My great boss! Awesome coworkers! And I really like that my job allows me to share Christ!”

For any and all of your electricity pricing needs, please contact Irene Middleton at


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PORT ARANSAS 1726 State Hwy 361, Port Aransas, TX 78373 (361) 749-2266 ROCKPORT 615 Bus Hwy 35 @ Market St, Rockport, TX 78382 (361) 729-2266 NORTH PADRE ISLAND 14330 S. Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78418 (361) 949-2266


www.mycoast alhome . ne t

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FEATURE The new H&M location will offer Corpus Christi residents and visitors a one-stop shopping destination for quality clothing for the whole family, with collections for ladies and men, including separate “store within a store” sections for accessories. The La Palmera location also carries the H&M Kids collection for newborns to 10-year-olds. “We have been anxiously awaiting the opening of H&M here at La Palmera, the first for the Coastal Bend region,” said Fred Walters, vice president and general manager of La Palmera. “The store is attracting even more visitors to La Palmera, adding to the millions who shop with us each year.” With more than one million square feet of space, La Palmera is already home to dozens of national retailers, including Michael Kors, Tilly’s, Pandora, Oakley, White House | Black Market, MAC Cosmetics, Build-A-Bear Workshop and Bath & Body Works, as well as smaller boutique-style stores such as francesca’s and Soma Intimates. The mall also provides shoppers both valet and WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING TO GIVE OUR SHOPPERS WHAT THEY WANT.” covered parking options, as well as convenient sitdown dining. LongHorn Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria are all located in the mall with Chili’s Grill & Bar in the front parking area. Guests can also choose from numerous food and snack options, including Chick-fil-A, Sarku Japan, Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, Ruby Thai Kitchen and H.J. Smoothies and Creamery, among others, in the spacious 600-seat food court, as well as Häagen-Dazs, located at the main entrance, Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots on the upper level and Coffee Beanery in Center Court. “La Palmera is a regional shopping destination,” Walters said. “We are always looking to give our shoppers what they want, including H&M, which is just the first of more new things to come. Although we don’t have specific announcements to make at this time, I can tell you that plans are underway for more shopping and dining at La Palmera. It’s very exciting, and I think our shoppers will be very pleased to see what we have planned.” The coming of spring also means it’s time for the Easter Bunny to hop into La Palmera. Easter is April 16 this year, and the Easter Bunny will be available Tuesday, March 7, through Saturday, April 15, for photos in Center Court each day during regular mall hours. La Palmera will also host a special party on Tuesday, March 7, to welcome the Easter Bunny as part of the monthly Tide Turners Kids Club event for kids 5 and under. Held in Center Court from 10 a.m. until noon, the event is free and includes a petting zoo, face painting, arts and crafts, balloon twisting, games and more. The Easter Bunny will meet and greet party guests to kick off the event and then hop Corpus Christi’s first H&M comes to La Palmera – back to his traditional garden spot in Center Court for photos. and that’s just one of many exciting things the mall Pet lovers can also bring their favorite canine or kitty for photos on one of six “Pet Night with the Easter Bunny” events to be held has in store for guests. By: SARONA WINFREY Tuesday and Wednesday, March 14 and 15; March 28 and 29; and April 11 and 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Spring has already sprung at La Palmera, and with more than 100 shops local organizations helping animals. Only dogs and cats are permitand eateries all under one roof, shoppers will find all the season has to offer, ted, and all animals must remain on a leash or in a carrier at all times. including the first Coastal Bend location for one of the hottest retailers. The annual March of Dimes Bucket Brigade will return once again H&M, one of the world’s largest fashion retailers famous for offering fashwith teams onsite at La Palmera Saturday, March 11, 18 and 25. All ion-forward apparel at affordable prices in a sustainable way, is now open at donations will benefit programs and research addressing every asLa Palmera. Measuring nearly 27,000 square feet, the two-level store is the first pect of the fight to end premature birth, as well as birth defects and location in the Coastal Bend. other critical health issues that threaten babies.

For information on the many programs and events at La Palmera, go to, follow us on Facebook or call 361-991-3755.


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 Automotive 

Cell Phones  Cameras  Alarm Systems  Wheel Chair  Laptops  Solar  Flashlights  Watch / 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 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M




As one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country, Salons by JC – Corpus Christi not only provides a home to salon owners, but helps them grow both personally and professionally.



ne of the newest trends sweeping the nation in the beauty and wellness industry is the concept of suite rental. Rather than renting a chair or a bed in someone else’s salon, or having to rent and maintain an entire building, professionals now have the option of renting a private, furnished suite in what’s called a salon gallery. While this concept has become quite common in more densely populated areas, it was absent from the Corpus Christi area until just about a year ago. That’s when owners John and Nancy Covill opened Salons by JC – Corpus Christi in the Shops at La Palmera, officially becoming the first option for suite rental in the local Coastal Bend area. Originally brought to life as a single salon gallery in Dallas in 1997 by co-founders Jack Griffey and Cecil Miller, the company is now headquartered in San Antonio. Salons by JC has become one of the fastest-growing franchises on the country, skyrocketing from No. 497 in 2016 to No. 54 in 2017 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious “Franchise 500” list. By choosing Salons by JC as their franchise, the Covills are able to fulfill their goal of offering more to salon owners in terms of return on their own investment. Simply put, they want to make people’s lives easier and to help them grow, both personally and professionally. “We hope to empower these individuals to reach their full potential by simplifying what it means to be a salon owner,” John says. “We offer 24/7 secure access, a central location in the heart of Corpus Christi’s shopping district, fully furnished, customizable suites, free Wi-Fi for tenants and their

guests, clean restrooms and employee lounge with washer and dryer onsite, a proprietary app with online booking and credit card processing and a quiet, upscale environment that guests love.” It turns out, people are pretty happy with what the Covills are offering. Many tenants are approaching their one-year anniversaries, with no plans to move any time soon. Several have expanded and have either moved into a larger suite or, as in the case of TimBo Mack of So Addictive Studios, added a second suite to offer more services. Mack is one of the over 20 professionals – including hairstylists, makeup artists, estheticians, body waxers and nail artists – who now call the location home. As an artistic educator and professional stylist for eco-friendly product line Pravana, Mack knows what it’s like to work for someone else and to feel like his potential was capped. “I’m all about the Zen and what flows, so when I reached the limit of my potential at my previous location, I was wondering what I should do next,” Mack says. “One thing led to another, I ended up touring Salons by JC on a whim one day, and now I’m right where I’m supposed to be.” Recently, he expanded his concept to the suite across the hall and opened So Addictive Nail Studio with his mother and business partner, Letricia Cook. Another success story is that of Sherry Neff, owner of BoD Lashes & Esthetics, who moved in at the beginning of the summer and has since built such a following that she’s moved to a larger suite and added more services. She’s also become a published author, having been recently asked to write a chapter for the book, “Behind Her Brand.” Neff offers professional single eyelash

For more information, contact 361-993-0093 or find us on Facebook.


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extensions, is a board-certified esthetician and is certified in microblading, also known as eyebrow embroidery or semi-permanent eyebrows. Tana Rivera of Tana’s Beauty Studio likes that the location provides easy access for her clients, and feels that the suite size and atmosphere are perfect. “I like making people feel beautiful and good about themselves, and this is the best place to make that happen,” Rivera says. “Taking on the challenge of going solo was the best decision ever. The timing was right, and after years of study, learning from mentors and following world-wide trends, I made the leap – and I’ve never been happier.” And one of the location’s newest tenants – hair guru, esthetician and energy worker Angela Delgado – chose Salons by JC because of the ideal location and the opportunity to excel with her own business, which to her means no longer having to share her clientele. “The opportunity to have my suite exactly as I want is amazing, and I just feel tremendously blessed,” Delgado says. “I’m happiest when I work for myself – not only can I provide excellent service to my clients, but I also have a happy family because I set my own schedule.” These are just a few of the many industry professionals who chose Salons by JC as home for their business. By simply wanting to make people happy by simplifying their lives, the Covills are also providing the people of Corpus Christi with something they haven’t been able to find anywhere else: a one-stop shop for all their beauty and wellness needs. Whether it’s a haircut, makeup, waxing, facial, mani/pedi or energy work, Salons by JC has you covered in the Coastal Bend.



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HIDDEN TREASURES shares some fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Rockport, Texas. By: SYLVIA SLEZAK

We’ve set up camp and are going to check out all the things we can do here, such as:  Fishing and birding along St. Charles and Aransas bays  Roasting marshmallows over a campfire  Hiking, geocaching and boating  Observing and photographing wildlife  Visiting the Big Tree, which has been standing sentinel on the coast for more than 1,000 years. In 1969, it was named the State Champion Coastal Live Oak. Save the swimming for the shores of Corpus Christi. Don’t plan on swimming here, as the shoreline has concrete bulkheads, oyster shells, mudflats and marsh grass. The next stop is some of Rockport’s area attractions, like the:    

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Copano Bay Fishing Pier Bay Education Center Fulton Mansion State Historic Site

Here are some interesting facts about the Fulton Mansion State Historic Site and its first owners:  The site is located in the resort area of Rockport-Fulton.  It’s surrounded by stately live oaks and called Oakhurst by the Fultons.  Its architectural style and mechanical systems were not typically found in this region.  It’s the only house in the area to have central heating, gas lighting and indoor plumbing.  It was built over a period of three years (1874-77).  It passed through a succession of owners: a private residence, a restaurant, a backdrop for a trailer park and a recreation center.  It was acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1976.  It became a Texas Historical Commission property in 2008.  The Fulton family built it and lived in it for 18 years.  George W. Fulton was a man of many talents who achieved some success as an engineer and inventor, as well as a ranching entrepreneur and promoter of the Texas Gulf Coast.  George and Harriet Smith Fulton were married for more than 50 years. We walked through Harriet’s gardens, heard stories of living in a grand Victorian villa, interacted with the exhibits found in the Education

Fulton Mansion and History Center and browsed the gift shop. That was an exciting taste of history. Speaking of taste, let’s put our taste buds to work at the finest cuisine the Coastal Bend has to offer. Paradise Key Dockside Bar & Grill on Cove Harbor provides spectacular views of the bay and wildlife preserve from their panoramic indoor dining room or dockside bar and dining area. We are surrounded by breathtaking views of nature. It is easy to get to by car or by boat. But we cannot satisfy our hunger by views only. Paradise Key specializes in freshly prepared seafood and unique “Marina Munchies.” They have Rockport’s best burgers, great steaks, delicious tropical drinks and live music set in a friendly, beach-casual atmosphere. It’s been a fun and exciting journey for us, and now it’s time to head back to basecamp. Come back next time to join us for another adventure as we discover more hidden treasures in and near Corpus Christi, Texas.

Sylvia Slezak is the director of marketing and social media at For more information on where to relax, have fun and enjoy the hidden treasures of the Coastal Bend, visit us online at to explore the featured premier restaurants, attractions and local events.


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ith spring just around the corner, it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. Come along with us for some camping and adventure at a nearby hidden treasure: Rockport, Texas. The first stop will be at Goose Island State Park to pitch our tent and set up camp. There are more than 100 camping sites to choose from; 44 are by the bay and 57 are nestled under oak trees, each with water and electricity. Every camping loop has restrooms with showers. For those who prefer more primitive camping, the park also has 25 walk-in tent sites without electricity and a group camping area.

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How Caribbean Journey transforms the Texas State Aquarium By: SEAMUS MCAFEE


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he Texas State Aquarium’s Caribbean Journey opens in May 2017, and the largest expansion in the aquarium’s 27year history means millions of guests will soon be rewarded with a new exciting and educational experience. After three years of planning and 30 months of construction, Caribbean Journey is in its final phases, and the space is really starting to take shape. Coral and stonework have been completed, the underwater exhibits are being filled with seawater and a 150-foot wide glass skylight has been installed. Most of Caribbean Journey’s animals, including flamingos, tropical fish, reptiles and a sloth, have arrived and are being acclimated to their new home. Tropical plants and trees are being planted for an authentic-looking Caribbean jungle that provides a natural habitat for birds and reptiles. Caribbean Journey provides an unforgettable adventure through the jungles and seas of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – and all without having to get wet. Travel through immersive habitats depicting the jungles and seas of the Caribbean, and encounter sharks, bats, crocodiles and other exotic species around every bend. Along the jungle pathway, a flock of vibrant pink flamingos lounge in a lagoon, iguanas roam freely and bright tropical birds fly among the trees. In a mangrove forest, fish dart among the underwater roots while shorebirds forage on land. Crocodiles lurk in the Karst pool, and a slow-moving sloth lounges on a nearby branch. Within the Mayan ruins, reptiles and bats wait in the dark, while several overlooks provide a glimpse at sharks and tropical fish swimming below. In the downstairs floor, countless reef fish and coral of every shape and color create a magnificent underwater landscape. In the 400,000-gallon H-E-B Caribbean shark exhibit, an acrylic tunnel crosses through an ancient shipwreck and features encounters with reef sharks from just inches away. Caribbean Journey’s exhibits are just one part of the guest experience. A 4-D Theater with 100 interactive seats adds another layer of fun. Premiering the

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

WINE-O WEDNESDAY $5 Wines by the Glass Rotating Specials BBC’s “Sharks,” theater seats employ unique special effects that make theatergoers feel like they’re swimming right alongside the ocean’s most infamous predators. A top-floor event space in Caribbean Journey also features a stunning view of the Caribbean jungle exhibit on one side and the Corpus Christi Bayfront on the other. Dance above sharks and tropical fish through an acyclic window in the floor, or just gaze out in either direction at the breathtaking sights. A luxurious private dining room with seating for up to 300 people is available for weddings, parties and other private events. This dining room’s ornate ceiling adds a touch of class to even the most formal gatherings while a wall of glass windows lets natural light in and give another breathtaking view out at the city. Caribbean Journey doubles the aquarium size and establishes it as one of the largest in the nation, which means big things for the aquarium’s mission to engage people with animals, inspire appreciation for our seas and support wildlife conservation. Guests of the aquarium may not know it, but they are helping to support several conservation and education programs. Part of their admission goes to the aquarium’s Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation Program, which rehabilitates and releases injures birds and marine mammals. The Wildlife Care, Conservation and Research Fund (WCCR) helps finance vital research projects in the Gulf of Mexico, and there are plans to expand the fund to support the work of scientists in the Yucatan region of

Caribbean Journey provides an unforgettable adventure through the jungles and seas.

TEX-MEX THURSDAY All Tex & Mex Beer/Liquor/Wine on Special SERVICE INDUSTRY SUNDAY $4 You Call It Vodka/Whiskey/ Tequila, 1/2off Shareables, Half Price Wine Bottles, $4 TexMex Beers, $10 Pizzas, $8 "Handhelds"

Mexico. The aquarium also currently reaches more than 75,000 students and teachers each year through its education programs, and it plans to engage even more young learners with Caribbean Journey. Purchasing a ticket or membership to the aquarium is a conservation action, but we hope Caribbean Journey will inspire you to go even beyond that. With half a day to explore Caribbean Journey and the rest of the aquarium, there’s more time to soak in the wonders of ocean life. Ultimately you’ll walk away not only awed and entertained, but with a greater appreciation of the environment and the need to conserve it. Caribbean Journey helps the aquarium boost its own conservation efforts, but it makes the biggest difference by also encouraging millions of others to do their part and build a brighter future for the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and beyond.

For more information about Caribbean Journey, visit You may also contact Seamus McAfee at 361-881-1259 or

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

4102 S Staples St, Corpus Christi, TX 78411


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Nonstop LUV for 40 Years Here’s to an airline, its people and their commitment to our community.


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In 1977, one of the most listened-to songs in America was “Hotel California,” made popular by The Eagles. That was the same year that Jimmy Carter was elected president and the Apple II, complete with a case, keyboard and a power supply, hit the marketplace at a base cost of about $1,300. The Apple II represented a huge leap toward what we now know as the computer age. But Apple wasn’t the only company making a splash that year. A 5-year-old company called Southwest Airlines was making a name for itself offering low fares and friendly service, and using a marketing slogan that promised to spread love all over Texas. In 1977, Corpus Christi got in on that love. On March 1 of that year, a Southwest jet pulled up to Gate 5 at Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA). Met by a welcoming contingency of local leaders, the inaugural Southwest Airlines flight arrived

to all the fanfare you would expect. At 10:45 a.m., that first flight took off to Houston Hobby. For longtime residents, those early days of Southwest at CCIA were memorable. There was something special about how this company operated. There was something special about the way it communicated with customers. There was something special about the people who worked for Southwest Airlines. Perhaps there was something to this whole “love” thing. Times were simpler back then. And for an airline that pledged to make air travel affordable for the masses, Southwest employees also seemed committed to making it fun. From the clothes they wore to the humorous announcements over the intercom, the men and women of Southwest Airlines seemed to march to the beat of a different drum. That unique style and quirky way of doing things blossomed over the years, and is now an endearing part of the fabric of the Coastal Bend community. When you talk to the people of Southwest Airlines, you quickly get a sense of what makes them tick. They make no bones about how much they love their customers, love their company and love their community. They show it with more than words. It’s all about the people.

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Eddie Rodriguez Ramp Agent

Eddie Rodriguez is one of the most highly decorated Southwest employees you’ll meet. But that’s not something he freely tells you about himself. “I have never had a bad day at Southwest,” said Rodriguez, when asked about his favorite part of the job. As a ramp agent, Rodriguez is responsible for marshalling the aircraft in to the gate and back out again. He does the job with the kind of precision you’d expect from a 30-year veteran. But before he comes to work most days, he is marshalling the cooking, cleaning and serving of meals at the Mother Teresa Homeless Shelter in Corpus Christi. “I like to talk a lot,” Rodriguez said. “And I think that’s why I enjoy helping the homeless. As long as we are talking with them and praying with them, we are keeping them engaged.” As Rodriguez racks up hours at the shelter, he is turning those hours in to Southwest and getting credit toward other rewards. Once he earns enough hours, he qualifies for airline passes that he donates to the shelter for their fundraising auction each year. The end result is that people get the help they need. “They can use lockers. They can take showers. If they need shoes, they are given shoes,” Rodriguez said. “Southwest has given me the opportunity

Even after all these years, he says he has no plans to stop any time soon. People tell him that in all the years he’s worked at Southwest, he hasn’t changed a bit. He chalks it up to the joy and happiness he gets from his work and his passion for helping people. “I’m 59 years old, and I have no stress,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve never treated my hair with anything but mousse.”

to help people in this community. Southwest has given me everything.” So it’s no big surprise that Rodriguez has earned a tremendous amount of recognition at Southwest Airlines. He has been named a “Hospitality Hero,” and back in November, he was handed the “Winning Spirit Award.”

Cindy Flores

Customer Service Rep When you visit CCIA, you could easily miss Cindy Flores from a distance. At 5 feet tall, Flores doesn’t exactly tower over the counter. But she more than makes up for it with her welcoming personality. She isn’t shy about engaging customers in conversation. While booking flights and collecting and tagging luggage, Flores is also reading the mood of her customers. “I see people who are excited to take a trip, people who are in tears,” she said. “When they are struggling for some reason, we cry with them. People open up to me. I think they can tell I care.” Getting to know Flores is to better understand the significant role that she plays in the lives of families who rely on the Ronald McDonald House in Corpus Christi. Southwest Airlines and its employees contribute countless hours and monetary donations to Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country. It’s a commitment that runs deep. From preparing Thanksgiving meals to cleaning and buying supplies for the house, Flores and her coworkers approach their volunteering the same way they do serving customers at the airport. “We want to give them whatever they need,” she said. Flores tells the story of a 6-year-old girl named Laura who had cancer and who was a frequent vis-


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itor to the Ronald McDonald House, along with her parents. Flores got to know the little girl and her family. She fondly recalls the times she and her daughter would load Laura up in their Suburban and take her to the mall for a day of shopping. When Flores’ daughter got married, Laura, who was very ill at the time, attended the wedding. Laura died two days later. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that little girl,” Flores said. “I think God put her in my path for a reason.” Most would agree that it takes special people to work at the Ronald McDonald House. Perhaps it’s people like Flores, who inherently know what people need, when they need it, and how to make the most out of every moment. When asked what she likes most about her job, she said, “The people. I’m always smiling. I’m happy that I’m here. I love my job.”

Abel Tamez

Customer Service Supervisor Abel Tamez is the first to admit how dramatically air travel has changed over the years. He remembers the days when people checked in at the ticket counter, walked down a long open air hallway to the Southwest gate at CCIA and got their plastic boarding passes when they arrived. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to connect with customers. “I love laughing, joking around with customers,” Tamez said. “Sometimes it makes their day. It’s about the customer. It’s all about them.” Tamez was born and raised in Robstown. During his 20 years at Southwest, he has also managed to carve out time to give back to his hometown. He served for 12 years on the Robstown City Council. Admitting that politics can sometimes be tough, Tamez saw his public service as a way to help his small town. “We were very aggressive with getting grants as a way to pay for improvements,” Tamez said. And just like his joking antics at the airport, he became known for injecting a little personality in to the city council meetings. “I kept things lively,” he said. “Kept the crowd laughing, too.” Tamez gets excited about the prospect of his hometown growing and changing for the better. He’s particularly happy about the new outlet mall and the boost in sales tax that will come with it. And even though he’s no longer on the city council, he cheers for his town and is thankful he had the opportunity to serve in that capacity. “They say the meetings aren’t the same without me,” Tamez said. “It’s good to be missed.” Tamez says the training he received from Southwest Airlines helped prepare him for what he did on the city council. “It all comes down to helping people,” Tamez said. “That’s what I enjoy.”

Looking to the future

Southwest has given me the opportunity to help people in this community.”

As Southwest Airlines begins its 41st year serving the Coastal Bend community, the company is growing and changing in ways that were unimaginable back in 1977. Southwest now serves 101 destinations throughout the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Some of these new international destinations are available out of Houston Hobby, which means one stop and one plane change for travelers from the Coastal Bend. “Our model represents the ability to bring people to Houston where they can connect to one of more than 150 nonstop flights to more than 50 destinations,” said Kelly Knox, community affairs and grassroots at Southwest Airlines. When it comes to Corpus Christi, Knox said, “we enjoy a fantastic partnership with the community while connecting our customers to places that are important to them.” In 2017, Southwest will continue to expand by opening their Fort Lauderdale International concourse, which will be very similar to their concourse in Houston and will mean the addition of service to Grand Cayman. Knox made a point to say, “thank you,” to the customers who choose to fly Southwest. “It’s our customers who allow us to continue flying to and from Corpus,” she said, “and without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.” Loyalty goes both ways. And there’s been a lot of that going around since that day in 1977, when Southwest Airlines brought its special people and special brand of caring service to the Coastal Bend.

Kim Bridger-Hunt is the marketing manager at the Corpus Christi International Airport. For more information, contact her at 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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Crocker Moving & Storage Co.: a legacy of service four generations in the making I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M


Andy Crocker can say something about his job that most people envy. He raised his hand, showing five fingers as he talked about the legacy of the company that has been in his family for four generations in Corpus Christi, Crocker Moving & Storage Co. “I love coming to work each day! I’ve had less than five bad days working here. We treat our customers right, and they treat us right. As with any business, there are customers you just can’t please. But those are very rare,” said the president of the company founded by his great-grandfather, Marcellius Crocker, in 1910 as Crocker Transfer & Storage Co. Inc. “You can’t let them spoil your day,” Crocker said of the occasional difficult customer. Crocker understands why the moving process can ignite passions from those who seek their services. “Because we move people’s personal belongings, what we are moving defines them,” he said. “If we don’t respect it, we are not respecting them. I think because of our closeness with our teams (of employees), our members understand that. If they don’t, it’s time to get another job.” An important part of the heritage Crocker wants people to know is that Crocker Moving & Storage is the oldest fourth-generation moving company in Texas that has been in the same family. “It’s very rare to get to the fourth generation,” he said. “Most family businesses die out during the third generation. The first generation works really hard to get the business open. The second generation witnesses that and learns that work ethic, but they don’t want their children to work as hard as they did, and so they give their kids a break. Sometimes the third generation grows up with a silver spoon in their mouth, although in my parents’ case, it was pewter.” Marcellus L. Crocker left the company to his two oldest sons and his oldest daughter, May Crocker, Andy’s great-aunt. She ran the business back in the 1930s and ‘40s, and passed away when Andy was 4. She left her mark as a strong business leader on both the family business and on the Southwest Movers Association board, a five-state association for moving companies founded in Fort Worth


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in 1917, “which promotes a safe, reliable and ethical moving industry” Andy said. Crocker Transfer & Storage was a charter member. The company was recently named a Pinnacle Mover, which means it meets certain standards of excellence in the moving industry. Some of these standards include having specific uniforms for the crew and vehicles, having a high Better Business Bureau rating, special training certifications, formal orientation for employees and a low number of formal complaints, among other quality credentials. “When I became an active member of that movers’ association in 1981, many people asked me about Miss May. She really left a legacy on the Southwest Movers Association board. She was the first female officer of that organization,” said Andy, who is a past board chairman and current board director of the association. After Aunt May retired, Andy’s uncle, William “Bill” Crocker, ran the business as president from the late 1940s until he sold it to Andy’s father, Lee Crocker, at the end of 1980. Andy has been with the company for 36 years, and he started working there in January 1981 after attending the University of Texas in Austin and then working for a movie theater, a nightclub and Coors of Austin. He graduated from W.B. Ray High School. Andy and his brother, Matt Crocker, who serves as vice president of the company, continue that legacy of service begun three generations ago, both to their customers and to their community. “My brother, Matt, and I bought the business from Lee Crocker in 2000,” Andy said. Andy, 60, is one of five Crocker boys born to Lee and Patt C. Crocker. He is the current and seventh president of the company, and his brother, Matt, 63, is vice president. Chris is the oldest of the five and lives in Austin, along with another brother, Court. Adam, the youngest, lives in Wisconsin. One key to the company’s longevity “is

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bringing in people who have worked for other companies and have fresh business perspectives,” Andy said. He includes his and Matt’s opportunity to work for others before settling into the family business when he says this. “Both Bill and Lee came to work for the company directly from school,” Andy said of his father and his uncle, who served in the U.S. Army during WWII. “They never worked for anyone else, whereas Matt and I worked for other people and brought those skills to the workplace. Instead of recycling tradition, we brought in fresh skills and new ideas.” Andy and Matt stay


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current on industry trends by being active in the Southwest Movers Association and other successful nonprofit boards and associations, allowing them to see what other companies do well. The brothers all worked in the business growing up, coming in on Saturdays as kids and later helping in the warehouse during summers as teenagers. “We would start working in the warehouse, and later, doing the lighter duties with the trucks,” he said. “That’s when we learned whether we really like this business or not. This work is not for everyone.” He enjoyed working for the family business

and got along very well with the crew. “When I was 18 and 19 years old, I treated the drivers and supervisors as my boss. I was not the owner’s son. I was their employee. When I came back as their manager, they showed me respect – because I had shown them the respect they deserved.” His brother, Matt, joined him at the business in 1983, and 17 years later, Andy and Matt purchased the company from their dad. Andy is most proud of his family’s legacy of community service as community partners, which he continues today. “We watched our parents help form the Harbor Playhouse, and my mom was active in Junior


League, where she was an officer for many years,” he said. “They worked getting the art museum open and were early contributors to the Lexington and to the aquarium. They recognized the need for Corpus Christi to grow.” Andy has served and currently serves on boards of numerous successful nonprofit associations, including the Mission of Mercy, the Fanny Bluntzer Nason Renewal Center, the Corpus Christi Education Foundation, Goodwill Industries of South Texas and the American Red Cross, to name a few. Each nonprofit organization has its own special place in his heart. “Mission of Mercy appeals to me because we’ve had employees who’ve made too much

money for government help, but not enough for medical care coverage – yet they have a need for it,” he said. “And in some cases, they have served our country in the armed services.” Another, the Spirit Center, will provide a youth facility for the spiritual, social and educational development of youth in the Coastal Bend, Andy said. This is currently only available in the Hill Country and beyond. Motivation to support the Corpus Christi Education Foundation comes from four generations of the Crocker family, including his own children receiving a Corpus Christi ISD education. Andy says his crew has a lot of pride in the job they do, and they appreciate being part of a company that is such a strong community partner. They realize the company is not just the building and trucks. “Our company is our employees,”

Andy said. “They are the ones who work sideby-side with the customers. They make the difference whether a move is successful or not. My part and Matt’s part is very minor in that. Our office team members support our decisions, and we support theirs. It all filters down to the team in the field.” Crocker Moving & Storage maintains around 10 fulltime employees, depending on the economy, including the administrative staff. Most have long tenures with the business. The company does household moving and storage, records storage and management and also works with decorators to receive, inspect and store new products for their decorating businesses. And the family legacy of the business may be continuing into a fifth generation. One of Andy’s three children, daughter Omega Crocker, 24, has worked with him for the past six months and enjoys being there. He has an older son, Drew, who is a U.S. Navy flyer. He also has another son, Alpha, Omega’s twin. “There’s a possibility Omega could be the next generation running Crocker Moving & Storage, or it may be one of the other siblings or the 10 nieces and nephews,” Andy said. “But they will have to earn it, just like my brother and I did.”

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


Local s Eat

Something to Write Home About Christian Bernard offers patrons a convenient one-stop shop for both local deli favorites and international flavors at Urbana Market and Deli and Sugarbakers.



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“I don’t know if I fell into it or if it was more so destined,” describes Christian Bernard of his lifelong career in the restaurant industry. The chef-turnedentrepreneur shares his colorful palette with Corpus locals, offering some European candor. In February 2017, he will open his second restaurant, Urbana Market and Deli in Corpus Christi on the corner of Chaparral and Schatzell. The specialty store will offer homemade premier deli options, including sandwiches, pastas, salads and individual pizzas made and baked onsite. “Our goal is to carry organic chicken and beef – we are aiming to get as much organic and local as possible,” Bernard explains. Urbana Market will provide a new lunch spot, as well as supply households with party appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, including artisan cheeses and sausages to European crackers and jellies. “We will have an estimated 80 craft beers throughout the store,” explains Bernard of the international beverage section. You can hear the excitement rise in his voice. Also carrying unique wine offerings for patrons, “We tried to put together a thoughtful and interesting list.” Onsite, they will feature individual pizzas, ordered to-go. “The menu is designed to be quick and homemade,” Bernard says. Emphasizing the “homemade” and rustic feel of a pizza kitchen


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onsite, their oven has been built to mimic a traditional brick oven, reaching the same temperature (800 degrees) as a wood stove. With experience in French, Italian and even Caribbean style cuisine, Bernard is enthusiastic to bring these options to Corpus Christi locals. In 2013, Bernard and his wife, Ashley, bought and remodeled Sugarbakers Bistro and Bakery, a local spot since the ‘90s that was opened an additional two times by the same person, and under two names after that. “The notion of change was more about expansion than change,” Bernard says. “There were six salads and eight sandwiches. We kept that core intact.” They have grown the business annually, and have worked their way to a staff of 20 people. “The lady that started it was extremely talented with cakes, and she was way more interested in the cake business than the restaurant,” Bernard explains. “So when I took it over, I kind of flipped the script. My focus was on building the menu.” Focusing on the entrée-style menu, the patron receives a choice of two sides with a main dish (beef, chicken or seafood). When asked about one of his favorites, Bernard says, “If you give me a good piece of beef tenderloin with a good demi sauce,” he smiles. Married with a red wine and portabella mushroom, it appears to be something to write home about – and it’s also available on the menu. Bistros to Caribbean: Christian’s restaurant rendezvous Growing up on the East Coast, Bernard had early exposure to the industry, as his grandmother and uncles all owned restaurants. He particularly gained early influence while working at a local respective French bistro. “I started to wash dishes in 1989,” he recalls. “I had just turned 14 and was in high school.” It was his time here that caused him to become comfortable with all aspects of the business. The restaurant, Le Bistro, was located in a small Rhode Island coastal town, Newport. Moving up in duties, he was a bit of an apprentice to the owner. “I eventually became the sous chef and the pastry chef – helping the owner manage the restaurant.” With his eight years at Le Bistro, he learned and grew his culinary and management skills. “That was really my foundation, my experience there,” he explains. Shifting the scenery, in 1997, he decided to take a breath of fresh air and headed West with a friend. His plan? “To go snowboarding,” he laughs. Gaining experience at West Coast chain, Chart House Steak and


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Seafood House, he quickly became a manager. His lens transferred from working in the kitchen to a real management position in Salt Lake City. However, business wasn’t growing upward steadily. “As the company went into a downward trajectory, I looked for something else.” Landing a spot at Lone Star, also a steakhouse, his franchise lens ramped up, as he became the manager overseeing location openings. “Becoming the GM, it was my first opportunity to manage an operation,” he explains. Several storefront openings caused him to travel around the country to Little Rock, Daytona Beach, Louisiana and Salt Lake to launch each location. “You learn a lot – the process of hiring and setting up at each location.” The time put in was grueling, yet rewarding. “There were some weeks during the Daytona Beach opening I was working 80 to 90-plus hours per week, but it was priceless information for me.” He describes of the four-year endeavor, “It was an exciting time – fun and hectic.” Yet, his most exotic chef gig was soon to come. “By the summer, I got my spot on a yacht!”

After getting rid of most of his belongings, he decided to jump on his motorcycle from Utah and ride cross-country back home to Newport, R.I. “I had a, well, early life crisis,” he says with some humor and sincerity. Homeward bound, he was determined to land a position off of the harbor. “Newport has a rich sailing history,” he explains. The restaurant I grew up working in was right in the middle of the harbor. There was no better place to go.” Once landing in Newport, “I began bartending to make contacts,” he explains. Connecting with the next “right” opportunity, he became head chef on a 160-foot, 3-masted Schooner, “Arrabella,” traveling to and from the Virgin Islands. He would serve patrons traveling to and from St. Thomas, St. John and the British Virgin Islands. He remembers a popular dish among patrons, with tantalizing flavors of fresh chicken, mango chutney, with a side of plantains. Preparing Caribbean island-style dishes, Bernard continued in this position for a year, preparing three meals per day, seven days a week for 25 to

35 passengers. Learning the business aspects, he had a 360-degree grasp on what made the business side function. “From a financial perspective and business operation, it’s really easy to sink a ship if you can’t control those two,” Bernard explains. No pun intended. Landing in Corpus Christi, Bernard was able to fit right in at Joe’s Crab Shack. “My wife was working at the Joe’s Crab Shack at the time,” he explains. “We worked together for a year, and she resigned so we could start dating,” he chuckles. After getting married, the husbandand-wife team went on the hunt to liven a local spot with some menu additions. “As much as I liked doing my own thing, we looked at doing something that was established, instead of doing a startup,” he explains. “To me, [Sugarbakers] looked like a great opportunity – had tons of room for growth.” With Urbana Market and Deli, the Bernards hope to heighten the pallet and taste buds of patrons with their carefully selected local deli options and international flavors with a convenient one-stop shop.

To view menu selections or to learn more about Urbana Market and Deli, please visit And for more information on Sugarbakers, 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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An update on the current state of the local real estate market


very phone call seems to start with “How’s the market right now?” and for very good reason. We have seen some significant changes in the local industry, a new year and a new president of the United States in the past several months. But as people settle in from the election (happily or not), and as many get ready to receive their tax returns, many are contemplating buying or selling their homes or other properties. The January 2017 market data was just released from the Corpus Christi Association of REALTORS, and the reports* may surprise you. These reports compare sales and market criteria

ty for sale to the date of closing) is currently 74, which is six days less than January 2016. Although some of this is worrisome, some is actually an improvement over the December reporting. When performing the same December comparison of 2017 to 2016, the total number of sales was down 13.7 percent and the average days on market was 83 (12 days longer than December 2016). As one would expect, the median sales price was similar in December at $184,900. With all the activity and debate going on “Over the Bridge” in Portland, I have also had several calls from clients curious as to how the potential industrial influx is affecting the Portland market. Although we cannot definitively


uary 2016. Of these sales, 78.57 percent were homes $199,999 and less and 21.43 percent were $200,000 to 499,999. There were no reported sales over $500,000. Interestingly, the number of active listings is up 50.7 percent (110 active listings in January 2017), and the number of single-family homes sold is down 21.1 percent (15 total units closed in January 2017). On the bright side, the reported average days on market is 35, which is 45 days less than January 2016. When analyzing the Portland December 2016 data, the median sales price in Portland was higher than January at $205,575 – with 41.67 percent being $199,999 and less and 58.33 percent be-



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say that the Portland changes are due solely to the ongoing controversy with the potential Exxon Mobil interests, the reported changes are worth discussing. (Before reading on, please keep in mind that Portland boasts a smaller data pool than that of Corpus Christi; therefore, percentages can be more volatile.) Like what was reported in the Corpus Christi review, the median sales price in January 2017 is $184,950, which is up 3.9 percent from Jan-

*Data reported was provided by the Texas REALTOR Data Relevance Project – a partnership among local REALTOR associations and their MLSs, the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the Texas Association of REALTORS.

Please feel free to contact Coral Dworaczyk, Ph.D., realtor with Palm Bay Rentals and Sales, at or 979-229-2836 (cell).


from January 2017 to the same as previously reported in January 2016. The good news is that the median home sales price in Corpus Christi is up by 7.4 percent compared to last year (currently $197,000). Of these sales, 52.66 percent were $199,999 or less, 44.38 percent were $200,000 to 499,999 and the remainder were over $500,000. Interestingly, although the median price is up from last January, the total number of homes sold in January 2017 is down by 9.6 percent (188 units sold in January 2017). The number of “active” listings (those not currently under contract to be sold) is also up by 17.2 percent. But the average days on market (calculated by counting the number of days from first listing a proper-

ing $200,000 to 499,999. But still, residents were showing an eagerness to sell with an increase of 67.7 percent in active listings; but buyers were less active with the number of single-family homes sold shown to be at a decrease of 31.6 percent (13 homes sold in December 2016). At this point of the year, it is hard to determine if these changes will continue or ultimately exert any long-term forecast upon the local market in future months. When only comparing one month at a time, coupled with this being the historically slower and more irregular time of year for the real estate market, all of these results should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt. However, it will be very interesting to see how the first quarter ends for our regional market, especially as specific areas face and navigate a wide variety of challenges.

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The many benefits of the throw rug, a perfect combination of form and function


hrow rugs are a super easy way to help decorate a room inexpensively. They can give each room its own design or pop of color to help give the room individuality, too. Throw rugs come in so many sizes; they can be small and welcome you into a space, they can provide color under the coffee table or sitting area or they can even finish off an eating area under the table. With the floor materials commonly used in many coastal homes like wood or tile, the floors can get cold or slippery. Use throw rugs to add warmth in the colder months, or use them to help absorb little


spills in the bathrooms or kitchen. Throw rugs also work very well in collecting sand in doorways so it doesn’t spread throughout the rest of your home. Area rugs are great for absorbing sound, as well. Wood and tile floors throughout your home can cause echoing. Add some colorful rugs to help control the echo, especially in the louder rooms like the living room and kitchen. Throw rugs are great for patios, too. Turn your porch or patio into another sitting area. Rugs can finish off the area and help the outdoor area look polished and complete. They’ll even make your furniture look a little more formal if you pick the right material and size. Another benefit to using rugs is that you can easily switch them out throughout the year. Change the color to go with the seasons or theme. You can also angle the rugs to give the room more dimensions or draw your eye to a certain wall, piece of furniture or piece of artwork. Throw rugs and area rugs are very diverse. Don’t invest in new flooring or new carpet if you don’t have to. Try a new rug and see what a difference it can make!

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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COOKIE CLASSIC The only recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies you’ll ever need By: MANDY ASHCRAFT Photos by: DUSTIN ASHCRAFT

You simply can’t go wrong with a classic chocolate chip cookie, and if you’re looking for the only go-to recipe you’ll ever need, tear this page out! These chewy beauties are big enough to share, whether it’s with a friend or just with a glass of milk. For more information, visit


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1 cup butter 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs 4 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup mini chocolate chips 1 cup chocolate chunks

INSTRUCTIONS: 1/ In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and cornstarch. Set aside. 2/ In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter, shortening and both sugars. Mix on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. 3/ Add flour mixture to butter mixture slowly, until just combined. 4/ Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips and chocolate chunks. Mixture will be thick and not very sticky. 5/ Place bowl in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees. 6/ On lined baking sheets, scoop cold dough using a 1/3cup measuring cup onto baking sheet. These cookies are large, so you should fit about 5 per sheet. Makes 15 cookies total. 7/ Bake each sheet one at a time, for 15 minutes. While baking, store bowl of remaining dough in the freezer to keep it cold. This helps your cookies keep their perfect, round shape. 8/ Remove to cool completely on a wire rack before storing for later, or enjoy them while they’re still warm. *Recipe makes 15 cookies.

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The incredible story of Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler In December 1943, a few days short of Christmas, 2nd Lt. Charles “Charlie” Brown was piloting a severely crippled B-17 bomber through the skies of Germany. He was returning to England after a mission over Bremen. During the attack, his Flying Fortress aircraft had been struck by explosive flak and ravaged by enemy fighters. His injured crew struggled to keep the plane aloft. Unable to keep pace with the retreating formation, the B-17 lumbered toward the coast alone at low altitude. It passed near a German

airfield, where a keen-eyed Luftwaffe pilot spotted the beleaguered plane. The pilot was Lt. Franz Stigler, a skilled fighter ace whose brother had been killed in the early days of the war. Stigler took off and gave chase. His sleek Messerschmitt fighter overtook the bomber in short order. He rolled in for the kill, ready to drop the hammer and send the B-17 to its doom. Instead, what he saw made him hesitate. The aircraft’s fuselage was riffled with bullet holes, and portions of the flight control surfaces had been completely shot away. The torn bomber hung helpless under his guns.


Stigler’s next decision was an incredible act of mercy. Rather than downing the B-17, he pulled alongside and flew close enough to exchange hand signals with Brown. Brown realized in astonishment that Stigler wasn’t going to shoot him down. Instead, Stigler kept his station next to the B-17 and escorted the enemy bomber through German airspace. At the North Sea, Stigler saluted and broke formation. Brown nursed his aircraft safely back to England. If Stigler had shot down the B-17 that day, no one would have given the encounter a second


thought. Brown and his Flying Fortress would have received their due for the Bremen mission, just another casualty among the thousands of aircraft lost in World War II. Instead, Stigler chose mercy. In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Mercy is an attitude of compassion that returns grace for offenses. In other words, instead of taking revenge, we forgive and do good to those who hurt us. We may marvel at how a fighter ace can spare an enemy bomber, but God’s mercy is even more amazing. He spared us when he sent his Son, Jesus, to die in our place on a cross. Every day his mercy continues. The sun rises each morning. The rain comes in its season. These are gifts from God, even if we take them for granted. God shows us mercy, so we treat those around us with grace and kindness, whether we think they deserve it or not. To be kind to our enemies isn’t an easy thing. We usually keep tally of offenses. We want to roll in, guns blazing, and settle the score whatever the cost. In the Old Testament, Samson toppled a house on himself to kill his enemies. Sometimes we want to do the same thing, hurting ourselves in the process. The Bible offers a better way: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink (Romans 12:20). These are the attitudes and actions God blesses. Do you want to be blessed by God? Show mercy. The heroic story of Brown and Stigler didn’t end that winter’s day over the North Sea. Both survived the war. After more than four decades, the men finally met face-to-face. Forever joined by an act of mercy, they began a friendship in their old age that lasted until the day they died. The story of Brown and Stigler is the subject of the bestseller, “A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the WarTorn Skies of World War Il,” by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander.

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


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3006 Niagara, Corpus Christi, TX

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


• Serving Corpus Christi, Alice and surrounding areas • Affordable funeral services and cremations • Prearranged funeral plans with low monthly payments • Family owned and operated since 1995

Honoring our veterans with a military casket at no charge

PORTRAITS G R A D U AT I O N S WEDDINGS GLAMOUR M AT E R N I T Y 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

120 E. Front St., Alice, TX

Corpus Christi: (361) 879-0085 Alice: (361) 668-1116

361. 944. 3686 D AV I D @ D AV I D O F OTOS . COM W W W. D AV I D O F O TOS . COM I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M



Hammons Education Leadership Programs introduces students to a variety of careers in order to HELP them find the job of their dreams. By: DR. RIDGE HAMMONS


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it’s like to do a given occupation, and introduces them to any number of career paths, from welder, pipefitter and nurse to firefighter, police officer, auto mechanic and more. Students get to see exactly what each career entails because HELP takes students into the refinery; into the police academy; into the fire station; into the training center at Del

HELP SHOWS STUDENTS EXACTLY WHAT IT’S LIKE TO DO A GIVEN OCCUPATION. Mar; into the mechanic shop, etc., to talk to, observe, interact with and shadow the professionals who are working in the field. The main objective of the program is to offer students multiple employment options and training. Students often have no real idea what they are capable of or even interested in – often because they have never experienced it. We also install touch-screen computers loaded with videos and photos of our job-site visits in schools that we serve. These cutting-edge computers allow students to virtually experience most of the real-world educational trips we take and decide if they would like to join us. This is onsite career mentoring, the basis of our program. We work with second-chancers who are in trouble with the law, kids with problems caused by school attendance and misbehavior and others who may have certain mental or physical challenges. In addition to On Site Career Mentoring, HELP also directs other programs, such as Summer Partners in Education (SPICE), Second Chance, DARS and a number of school-based career clubs. In its Second Chance Program, HELP contracts with the Nueces County Juvenile Justice Department to work with incarcerated youth in order



HOW MANY of us really get to explore all of the job opportunities around us before we settle on one? How many of us later wish we had known more about the job market before we settled? We all wish we had known more about the really cool jobs other people got that we never heard of. For the last eight years, Hammons Education Leadership Programs (HELP) has been taking students to job sites, career fairs and work opportunities all around the Coastal Bend, to HELP them make good decisions about what they want to do with their lives. We show them careers they have never even heard of, much less had a chance to explore. Just as importantly, we can keep them from spending too much time and money pursuing the wrong career. As a principal, it is heartbreaking to see teachers find out that they don’t belong in the classroom after five years and $25,000 in loans. One girl was on a nursing exploration that she had signed up for. Imagine our surprise when she recoiled with, “Ugh! Blood!? I hate blood!” When I informed her she might run into blood from time to time as a nurse, she replied, “But that’s not the kind of nurse I want to be! I want to be one of the ones that wear the long white dresses and write on clipboards!” HELP takes at-risk and challenged youth on visits to numerous work sites around the city and the county to give them hands-on experience in jobs that might spark their interest. We give them the desire to either stay in school or return to receive the training they need to accomplish their dream. In fact, that is HELP’s motto: “How can you find the job of your dreams if you don’t even know it exists?” During HELP’s eight years of existence, we have taken over 3,000 different students on 250 trips to more than 100 local jobsites. HELP puts the kids where the action is!  We have no lectures, no books and no classes – just the shared experience of a job done well by those who do it best, and who are willing to share their expertise. HELP’s On Site Career Mentoring Program shows students exactly what

to counter the high rates of recidivism of juveniles on probation. In its DARS program, HELP works with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to assist high school students with disabilities. The school-towork career club, which sponsors video “visits” to local business entities and brings professional visitors to school, is available to some 8,000 students at five schools. HELP uses local grant and donor money to purchase and install touchscreen computers and load them with HELP-produced interactive videos so students can virtually “explore” refineries and port facilities from the safety and convenience of school. The students can view more than 100 “field trips” to a variety of local businesses; if they see a job that intrigues them, they can communicate with the business by text, Skype or phone. They can also apply to be on a future trip we take there, and become involved in On Site Career Mentoring, which attempts to match youth with their “dream job.”

RECENT SUCCESSES  HELP recently took a group of culinary and hospitality students to Airport Holiday Inn, where they found out all about feeding and caring for hundreds of guests’ welfare, nurture and feeding. We have been asked to share this with over 3,000 middle-schoolers at the Education Service Center.  We have taken Juvenile Justice “Second Chance” students to the “burn room” at Del Mar College West. They got to experience exactly what it feels like to crawl through a room filled with fire and smoke looking for a lost baby.  We have been asked to do an On Site Career Mentoring presentation at the Texas State Mentoring Conference, and invited to remain on the State Autism panel. In fact, HELP is the only ASL-authorized workforce agency south of San Antonio.  HELP was recently visited by a Boston-based organization known as Career Hounds, who asked us to consider going to

Massachusetts to do a presentation for the Board of Education on our programs.  HELP has arranged to take Moody construction students on a group tour of Braselton Homes; this way, they can look at various homes in varying degrees of development. We are taking JJC to visit Craft Training Center and Ready Flo, King High School to the Aquarium and UT Ocean studies in Port A and other groups to other destinations. HELP is all about giving our clients the opportunity to find the “job of their dreams” here in the Coastal Bend.

Ridge Hammons, Ph.D., is the executive director for HELP. For more information, call 361-815-6122 or email

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Ali Choe Event Manager at The Ortiz Center



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My philosophy:

Live beyond “what if” – find joy in “what is.” I am a big believer in living in the “now.” I practice mindfulness to calm my mind and make myself aware of the present, with all of the wonderful things we often take for granted. Many of us go through each of our days on autopilot, with our minds and senses missing out on so much of what is going on around us. So I remain aware – trying to live within the moment, cherishing the moment as a memory I am creating and being grateful for the most mundane or extraordinary things in life.

Why I love doing what I do:

Every day is a new experience, new challenges, new people and new fun ideas. There’s constant change and shifting of trends in the wedding and events industry, so I’m constantly learning. I love the beautiful flowers, colors and designs my brides bring into our ballroom. I really am a sucker for the cliché of “turning a bride’s vision into a reality.” But my absolute favorite thing about the job is the people. Each of my brides chose me and The Ortiz Center to be a part of one of their most precious days (in their whole life!). I love watching the smiling faces, happy tears, first dances and little unnoticed moments between. I am very lucky to be a part of their big day, and I hope to always make their wedding a most cherished memory.


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Drink some coffee, and pretend you know what you’re doing.

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5503 SOUTH STAPLES ST. CORPUS CHRISTI, TX 78411 361.991.4967 FAX: 361.991.2361 TOLL FREE: 866.991.4967 WWW.THEFRAMEUPCC.COM


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Women’s fashion clothing, accessories and gifts


“The deals are as sweet as honey but we won’t sting ya!”

Home Auto  Boat  Commercial Motorcycle  Life Insurance Windstorm  Flood

Writing your policies is easy using e-Signature

Committed to Serving the Coastal Bend Area

Brian Niemann Insurance Agency


Farmers Insurance Agency

517 Everhart Rd. Corpus Christi The B Hive


Owners: Brooke (361) 765-8745 Lynnae (361) 688-8721

(361) 437-4646

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Inspire Coastal Bend Business Mar/Apr 2017  
Inspire Coastal Bend Business Mar/Apr 2017