Erath County Living - Vol. II

Page 1

FERRON LUCERO: THE POWER OF A SPOKEN WORD

The New Mexico native was born in Portales, but claims Clayton, NM as his hometown. Since 2005, he has hung his hat in Stephenville, making his living as an announcer of all things equine related.

BRAMLETT IMPLEMENT: A FAMILY TRADITION AND STAYING THERE

Now in its fifth generation, the business started by D.R. Barbee in 1937 as Barbee implement, is still going strong. Barbee was the grandfather of current owner, Donnie Bramlett.

COOKIN' UP A GOOD LIFE

Hometown Living At Its Best
WINTER 2022
His given name is Mike, but folks call him Cowboy Chef Newton. They also call him one of the finest cooks around.
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Hometown Living At Its Best 1

Begin your next chapter where you feel at home.

For parents ready to welcome their newest addition, Texas Health Stephenville is just around the corner. We offer newly remodeled labor and delivery rooms, celebratory meals for families and more of the comfortable perks you want - closer to home.

Texas Health is right there with you.

Doctors on the medical staffs practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health hospitals or Texas Health Resources. © 2022 Texas Health Resources Growing families start here.
a closer look at
2 Erath County Living
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CONTENTS

10

GROWING THE FUTURE IN SIX DAYS

Dedicated volunteers offer Erath County youth an event to transform their lives. Each year Erath County puts on a Junior Livestock Show.

18 COOKIN' UP A GOOD LIFE

His given name is Mike, but folks call him Cowboy Chef Newton. They also call him one of the finest cooks around.

26 TARLETON SUCCESSFULLY MOVES TO DIVISION I

It’s Tarleton State University telling the rest of the country that we are setting our students up for the highest level of success attainable in every way possible.

34

TRAVEL TEXAS: BRYAN

Ninety minutes past Waco is a community full of tradition, pride, and plenty of options for good family fun. Bryan and College Station boast a combined population of 175,000.

40

THE SHOW: THE BEST TUESDAY NIGHT IN TEXAS TAKES PLACE IN THE COWBOY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.

“Kim Andrae and I approached the board with our idea of hosting a fashion show like the one held during the NFR in Las Vegas. Our husbands both serve on the rodeo board, and we know the amount of work it takes to put on that event. We just wanted to help in our own way.”

48

EQUIBRAND: ROPING IN THE BEST

Equibrand CEO, Ken Bray received multiple invitations from Stephenville—the “Cowboy Capital of the World” to relocate the company’s rope making operations. After all, riding to the rescue is the Cowboy Way.

56

FERRON LUCERO, JR: THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD

The New Mexico native was born in Portales, but claims Clayton, NM as his hometown. Since 2005, he has hung his hat in Stephenville, making his living as an announcer of all things equine related.

ABOUT THE COVER

Cover photo is of Chef Newton and his wife, Melanie. To read more about his southern style cooking and his restaurant, Newton’s Saddlerack, turn to page 18.

56
18
4 Erath County Living
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CONTENTS

64

THE POWER OF OUR WORDS

God can pinpoint every failure and every sin, yet He chooses to celebrate us.

66

50 WOMEN STRONG: HELPING WOMEN GROW STRONGER

The purpose of the group would be to focus on unmet needs and on quality of life issues in the community, and to financially support different organizations, or people who historically do not receive large donations.

74

THE 2022 SEASON OF DROUGHT

In addition to the drought this year, the wildfires devastated some people, even with the help of friends and neighbors. Many ranchers had to sell their cattle.

80

BRAMLETT IMPLEMENT, A FAMILY TRADITION AND STAYING THERE

Now in its fifth generation, the business started by D.R. Barbee in 1937 as Barbee Implement, is still going strong. Barbee was the grandfather of current owner, Donnie Bramlett.

88

STAY HUMBLE AND KIND

With a straightforward and goal-oriented mindset, Angelone focuses on improving herself inside the arena. She knows she is an intimidating factor inside the arena.

66

88 6 Erath County Living
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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Hey, Erath County friends! The holiday season is upon us and a new year is just around the corner. We know how busy this time of year is, so we hope you are also taking time to enjoy your family and all of the blessings of this season!

We tell you with every issue how much the people of Erath County inspire us. In this issue, you will read about 50 Women Strong, a local nonprofit organization comprised of women who want to make a difference in their community. Also, Tarleton has successfully become a D1 school, setting students up for the highest level of success attainable in every way possible. Tarleton Texans are on the rise!

We want to thank our advertisers for making this publication possible and free to the community! Help us express our gratitude by shopping local and visiting their establishments to pick up your complimentary copy.

This publication is about you! Please feel free to email us photos of your events to add to our Hometown Happenings or any stories you would like to read in the next issue. We would love to hear from you!

We give thanks to God for our many blessings and look forward to a great year to come!

Until the next edition, wishing you many blessings -

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

– Psalm 51:10

Erath County Living Magazine | RedFin Publishing

www.ErathCountyLiving.com

PUBLISHER RedFin Publishing

Justin & Hayley Six

Kyle & Halsey Clark

EXECUTIVE EDITOR Hayley Six

CREATIVE | DESIGN GreenFox Marketing

CONTENT COORDINATOR Marybelle Gomez Marybelle.RedFin@Gmail.com

PROOF READER Jennifer Cabbage

PHOTOGRAPHERS Addison Jenkins

Caitlyn Moyer Photography

Fancy Yancey Photography

Jovelyn Roden Photography

Robert Finney

COVER PHOTO Photo by Jovelyn Roden Photography

SALES Kyle Clark

Justin Six

Lori Stephens

CONTRIBUTING Lindsay L. Allen

WRITERS Chandra Andrew

Nate Bural

Peggy Purser Freeman

Janette Halliday

Connie Lewis Leonard

Rick Mauch

Erica Willis

CONTRIBUTORS Tarleton State University

Erath County Living© is published semi-annually by RedFin Publishing. www.RedfinPublishing.com P.O. Box 1239 | Weatherford, TX 76086 (817) 618-9465 All rights reserved. Copies or reproduction of this publication in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without expressed written authorization from the publisher. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein. Advertising is subject to omission, errors, and other changes without notice.
8 Erath County Living

Doing Good Through Food®

Schreiber Foods strives to do good through food every day. Based in North America, we’re a customer-brand leader in cream cheese, natural cheese, process cheese, beverages, and yogurt Our more than 9,000 employees and presence on five continents enable us to be an essential ingredient in our customers’ success.

With annual sales of more than $5 billion, we partner with the best retailers, restaurants, distributors, and food manufacturers around the globe. We also recognize our responsibility to do good in the world and are driven to make a difference in everything we do.

Together, Schreiber and the Schreiber Foods Foundation provide support to charitable organizations and programs that address food insecurity and basic needs in our communities.

Partners, Doing Important Work

At Schreiber, we call ourselves partners – not employees – and there’s a good reason behind that. Our work is more than just a job. We make the company grow. We help each other grow and take care of each other along the way. And, we all share in the rewards. That’s our company culture.

Being a Schreiber partner is both exciting and challenging because we own our future. Our common goals drive and energize us as we work together to be the best we can be. And we do it in a way that takes care of our people, our food, our earth, and our communities.

Growth And Impact

At our Stephenville Texas location partners are preparing for large changes and growth. A new Distribution Center is being constructed and anticipated to be complete the first part of 2023. This new facility will be an estimated 300,000 sq. ft. facility and will increase our current capacity from 270 million lbs. of production to 400 million lbs. of production. This roughly equals 11,000 trucks in a year.

Schreiber has been investing in big ways in the Stephenville facility including line improvements and expansions adding nearly 100+ new positions for the Erath County community.

Grow With Us

If you come to work at Schreiber, you’ll quickly find out it’s more than just a job. You’ll work with great people who care about you and want to help you grow. Caring has been a big part of who we are since the very beginning.

Go to schreiberfoods.com for more information. 923 Co Rd 176, Stephenville, TX 76401 (254) 968-0012

GROWING THE IN SIX DAYS Future

Dedicated volunteers offer Erath County youth an event to transform their lives. Each year Erath County puts on a Junior Livestock Show.

Each year an Erath County Junior Livestock Show (ECJLS) changes lives and produces young people prepared to lead the community and the world into a brighter future.

All team sports can transform young people, however, ECJLS provides a successful experience for young people of all sizes and all physical skills. The event only lasts six days, but it takes 365 days of preparation for those who organize everything and the young people entering exhibits.

Not all Erath County shows are livestock related. Exhibitors showcase their photography, crafting, woodworking, cooking/baking, and other skills. Past youth have become Ag teachers, farmers, dairymen, ranchers, and countless other trades that support the community.

Audrey Bettiga looks forward to the ECJLS. “I love the night before the show. There’s an excitement. It’s like a reunion with our friends. It’s fun to see buyers browsing the items and appreciating the time and

Photos by Caitlin Moyer Photography
10 Erath County Living
Hometown Living At Its Best 11

effort students put into each entry. So many businesses and people bid and purchase animals. It makes me proud to be a part of this generous community.”

“When we load our animals into the pens, it feels like returning home.” Emily Bettiga also enjoys showing stock. “We set a goal and work towards that goal every day. The county show is where we see the results of our efforts. When I walk into the ring with my goat, it’s a big accomplishment.”

12 Erath County Living
The event only lasts six days, but it takes 365 days of preparation for those who organize everything and the young people entering exhibits.

Emily and Audrey’s parent, Michele Bettiga said, “I get emotional every year at the county show when I see the people of this community come together to support these kids. The best people are found in the barn!”

The ECJLS has been an integral aspect of the agriculture community in our county for fifty years. The dedicated adult volunteers work year round. From board meetings to fundraising, to the long days during the show, followed by postshow community meetings, the committees invest in the success of ECJLS for one reason. They know the results. They’ve experienced the benefits of growing up in agricultural communities. They want this for their children, grandchildren, and future leaders.

Chairman Beverly Funderburgh brings years of experience and dedication. “It provides our 4-H and FFA members with an opportunity to exhibit their animal, craft, and agricultural mechanics projects and to sell their livestock through the premium sale. Erath County boasts a rich history of agriculture in all aspects of farming, ranching, and dairy operations. Our 2022 show had over 600 animals and projects entered by over 300 exhibitors, and the total auction raised over $500,000 and distributed it to the youth who sold their projects at the Sale of Champions. This event means so much to my family. My parents, my husband and I, and my children all participated as youth, and now we all volunteer.”

When the exhibitors receive their checks, they use local banks to set up their first checking accounts and learn how to manage money to put toward their next animals, or for our graduating seniors it often goes towards their college funds and expenses.

FFA and 4-H build a strong work ethic, responsibility, and leadership in the lives of young

“She is truly like my little sister!”
Erath County boasts a rich history of agriculture in all aspects of farming, ranching, and dairy operations.
FFA and 4-H build a strong work ethic, responsibility, and leadership in the lives of young people.

people. It provides ways to learn how to build a competitive nature, learn to win, and learn how to handle defeat. Self-confidence, social skills, and public speaking don’t come easy, especially for teenagers. However, this event fosters those skills. The added benefits are goal setting and problem solving. Some of the youth enjoy scholarship opportunities while others discover social relationships and family togetherness improve when preparing to exhibit.

Caitlin Moyer grew up showing dairy heifers at the county show. “I capture the moments inside the show ring, from the joy and elation of winning, the handshakes between competitors, the appreciation pats, and all the emotions of a long show day, to produce images and memories for our exhibitors.” This sport took her to Tarleton to judge dairy cattle on a collegiate level. Now she has the joy of photography. Caitlin now volunteers for the media committee and photographs the shows.

“The students take responsibility of caring for another living thing,” Caitlin explained, “one they can be proud of come show day. Youth learn to budget and how to use the available resources. In the show ring, the judge usually asks questions related to their animals, so students learn not only about their show animals but about the agricultural community. We recognize not only the excellent animals in the show ring, but also the hard work of the students participating in every category. The Good Herdsman award sponsored by Erath Farm Bureau is designed to encourage and acknowledge the good work of 4H and FFA exhibitors as they care for their livestock at the show, as well as how they interact with show superintendents and the public.”

14 Erath County Living
"We've been a part of each other's lives ever since and it's been so rewarding and fun to watch her grow up over the past five-and-ahalf years."

Without people like Caitlin, county extension agents, Ag teachers, and other volunteers, the show could not happen. It takes dedicated individuals with a love for the agricultural community.

“The ECJLS also receives support from local business owners who attend the shows and donate at the sale. They sponsor events, buckles, or prizes for the exhibitors.

A trend of increasing participation has made the board take a good look at our facilities and find what improvements we could make in the future.” Beverly Funderburgh added. “That assessment has resulted in the construction of a new, larger show barn and sale ring. Our goal is to have the barn completed this year. We never want the size of our facility to limit the number of youth who can participate.”

ECJLS board member Paul Krause explained, “For the kids exhibiting a project, whether it be a market steer or pie they baked, the experience provides opportunities to learn hard work, perseverance, competition, teamwork, how to both win and lose with grace, and countless other life lessons. For the volunteers, it provides a way for them to give back to their community and provide their knowledge and expertise to the next generation in an environment they love. Probably most importantly, the Stock Show serves as a wonderful social event for the entire county every year.”

“The kids get to present their projects and provide a hands-on experience that can be life-changing,” said board member David Wilson. “As a community, we get to support the kids, to assist in the process of them becoming productive, happy.”

Secretary Brenda Haedge brings her own memories to the board. “For my family, we've had all five kids and two grandkids participating in ECJL shows. Each year brought new experiences, new friends, and new ways to do things. This instilled positive experiences into each one, learning skills to use in lifelong situations as adults who gain an understanding of a life experience that can be valued by all in some manner.” ECL

The 2023 Official Show Schedule

MONDAY JAN. 2

Dairy Heifers

TUESDAY JAN. 3

Youth Fair Arts, Market Goats & Lambs

WEDNESDAY JAN. 4

Youth Fair Foods, Broilers, Market & Breeding Rabbits

THURSDAY JAN. 5

Ag Mechanics, Market Swine

FRIDAY JAN. 6

Market Steer & Beef Heifers

SATURDAY JAN. 7

Horses, Breeding Does, Sale of Champions Auction

Youth learn to budget and how to use the available resources.
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See y’all in 2023! THANK YOU for a great year FIND US ON:
18 Erath County Living

COOKIN' UP A GOOD LIFE

NAME IS MIKE,

They also come from all over to dine at his restaurant in Stephenville, Newton's Saddlerack, a place where fine dining meets cowboy cuisine. The doors opened on July 13.

"Stephenville just made the most sense for us. We felt the town was large enough to support the concept, but still small enough to capture the small town, around the square sort of vibe, and we definitely wanted to be downtown," Newton said.

"Stephenville has so much potential with the efforts to rebuild historic downtown, all of the rodeo events and horse folks moving into the area, and Tarleton going D1 (NCAA Division I status) this year. Plus, we are still close enough to the Metroplex to draw folks looking for a little bit different dining experience."

If the name sounds familiar, locals got to know him and his former restaurant The Cellar, which opened in November of 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the concept took off, and he began working on another space where they could house the kind of bar/lounge they were after.

HIS GIVEN
BUT FOLKS CALL HIM COWBOY CHEF NEWTON. THEY ALSO CALL HIM ONE OF THE FINEST COOKS AROUND.
Hometown Living At Its Best 19

"My wife (Melanie) and friends say it’s really my sauces, and I would consider myself a pretty good saucier," Newton said. "My wife likes to say I could pour my sauces over a flip flop, and she would eat it!

"I really enjoy taking any recipe and adding my own 'cowboy' twist. With the dichotomy of cuisine we have in Texas and the influences of so many different cultures, it's easy to take dishes to the next level."

Visitors to Newton's restaurant also enjoy elegance without feeling the need to don a tuxedo and evening gown.

"I like to say that we all want to be innovators, but I just take it back to the greats like Escoffier, Child, Joel Robuchon, Jacques Pepin, and even Gordon Ramsay, and put my own twist on it, even the way I butter baste my steaks in cast iron - I'm just always researching and trying new recipes with my own cowboy flair.

"As far as the whole casual fine dining experience that we strive for, everyone enjoys a great meal, but not everyone enjoys the stuffiness that often goes along with the atmosphere. We want folks to be able to come in after a long day and enjoy an amazing meal unlike anything you

20 Erath County Living
NEWTON'S SPECIALTY IS SOUTHERN STYLE COOKING, STEAKS, BEEF, CHICKEN, AND BARBECUE.

can find any closer to home, a nice bottle of wine and a fine bourbon to end the day."

Speaking of Gordon Ramsay, Newton got to know the renowned chef/TV personality when Newton competed on "MasterChef" in Seasons 8 and 12.

"Everyone has always told me I should open a restaurant, but it wasn't until my experience on MasterChef with Gordon Ramsay that the opportunity to become a professional chef presented itself," Newton said.

Newton hasn't ruled out a return to that show, should the opportunity present itself.

"That fire is still burning in me, and I think I will pursue another celebrity chef competition," he said. "I am a tad bit competitive and not the least bit camera shy, so why not?"

Newton was born in Dallas and is a fifth generation Texan and the youngest of three brothers. His father was a barbecuer/griller/ranch cook and several other members of the family were known for their abilities in the kitchen.

SPEAKING OF GORDON RAMSAY, NEWTON GOT TO KNOW THE RENOWNED CHEF/TV PERSONALITY WHEN NEWTON COMPETED ON "MASTERCHEF" IN SEASONS 8 AND 12.

"I had two aunts that had quite a hand in my raising, and they were both amazing cooks that took me under their wings and taught me anything from French to southern cooking," Newton said.

"My uncle on my mother's side married a French prima ballerina who was shipped to Russia during World War II to keep her from the Germans, and she was an incredible chef. I was about five years old when she made crêpe Suzette for me, and I was hooked."

After graduating from high school Newton ran some small businesses and had an opportunity to go work on a ranch in Paris, Texas. While living this remote life his parents brought him the cookbook "From Julia Child's Kitchen." It sparked the passion of reading cookbooks and re-creating recipes to reflect his Texas roots.

After that tenure, he returned to Dallas and started working in the restaurant business, primarily in the front

22 Erath County Living
"I'VE ALWAYS ENJOYED THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS AND MEETING NEW PEOPLE, ALWAYS HAVING CASH IN MY POCKET, AND DOING SOMETHING I REALLY LOVE - AND I LOVE TO EAT AND DRINK."

of the house, with some great chefs like Dean Fearing, Stephen Pyles, Kevin and Keith Rathbon, and some great restaurateurs like Jack Baum and Tony Vallone.

"I've always enjoyed the restaurant business and meeting new people, always having cash in my pocket, and doing something I really love - and I love to eat and drink," he said with a chuckle.

Newton grew up in Irving, meeting Melanie in the first grade. Today they live between Lipan and Santo, where they moved after he suffered a stroke in 2016.

"I decided life was too short to live in the big city any longer," he said. "I had to get back to my roots, and Lipan was the perfect location with our family and real estate business still primarily in the Fort Worth area."

Oh yeah, he also sells real estate, one of many proverbial hats he wears.

"I started out on my own at the age of 16, and college certainly wasn't my thing. I was a very intelligent kid but didn't see what the use of Wordsworth or Shakespeare was going to do for me in the real world, so I had to start working," he recalled. "I've been an entrepreneur since I was very young and always enjoy a good challenge. Each of the hats I wear allows me to tap into my strengths and passions, and working for yourself does allow the flexibility to enjoy some of my favorite pastimes like hunting, fishing, horses, cattle, water sports and the like.

"My wife always tells me my love language is acts of service, which reflects in the restaurant, in real estate with helping folks buy and sell their own heritage, in the land as a rancher, and of course in giving back with the philanthropy."

Newton has many causes, including Boys and Girls Clubs, 4H, FFA, and many local charities throughout North Texas.

"The biggest impact I've been able to have for the charities is to donate private dining experiences where I go to the donor's personal residence and prepare and serve a four- or five-course dinner for them and nine of their friends. We've donated so many of those, and they have sold for as high as $8,000 each, selling multiples at each event," he said. "I'm told that all together we have helped raise over $1 million for local charities. It's quite humbling, and it's a great experience - a way to meet new people and give back to our communities."

And, of course, what's a cowboy chef without a cowboy hat? Newton is rarely seen not wearing one.

"First, I've always worn a cowboy hat except in certain business situations or at the dinner table. It's just part of my heritage," he said. "Second, as I've grown longer in the tooth, I have become follicle challenged, and though I've never been self-conscious about a thinning hairline, we do live in Texas where the sun bears down on you."

Along with his vision and continual desire to improve, Newton credits much of his success to those around him.

"I have surrounded myself with great chefs and a wait staff that is attentive to the details that make a meal pleasurable, yet not stuffy. We have worked hard to create a 'grown-up bar,' as my wife likes to call it, where people can come in and enjoy a nice cocktail, a little TV, great conversation and amazing food, without having to scream at one another to be heard," he said.

"They have a saying that behind every great man there's a great woman, and I certainly have that with my wife, Melanie. And behind every great executive chef you'll find a great sous chef. I have that in Whitley Bettis, a local chef that grew up in De Leon and went to school at CIAHyde Park (Culinary Institute of America in New York)."

ECL
Hometown Living At Its Best 23
"I'M TOLD THAT ALL TOGETHER WE HAVE HELPED RAISE OVER $1 MILLION FOR LOCAL CHARITIES. IT'S QUITE HUMBLING, AND IT'S A GREAT EXPERIENCE - A WAY TO MEET NEW PEOPLE AND GIVE BACK TO OUR COMMUNITIES."
DUBLIN I.S.D. EVERY CHILD. EVERY MINUTE. EVERY DAY. “Webelieveastrongcommunity buildsastrongschool.And,a strongschoolbuildsastrong community.”  2 0 1 9 N a t i o n a l B l u e R i b b o n S c h o o l  H i g h e s t A c a d e m i c S c o r e s i n E r a t h C o u n t y  C o m m u n i t y S e r v i c e O r i e n t e d  D e d i c a t e d G T P r o g r a m / C l a s s e s  S t a t e & N a t i o n a l Q u a l i fi e r s  I n t e r n a t i o n a l F P S Q u a l i fi e r s  M u l t i c u l t u r a l L e a r n i n g E n v i r o n m e n t  T u i t i o n A s s i s t e d C o l l e g e C r e d i t & A s s o c i a t e s D e g r e e P r o g r a m s  S t a t e o f t h e A r t A t h l e t i c F a c i l i t i e s  M e n t o r i n g P r o g r a m s • 2019 National Blue Ribbon School • Ranked #20 Among Best Elementary Schools in Texas 2021 • Community Service Oriented • Dedicated GT Program/Classes • State & National Qualifiers • International FPS Qualifiers • Multicultural Learning Environment • Tuition Assisted College Credit & Associates Degree Programs • State of the Art Athletic Facilities • Mentoring Programs 24 Erath County Living

Committed to Academic Excellence

Dublin Elementary is o one of 2 27 schools in T Texas, 3 362 in the n nation and the o only school in Erath County to be recognized as an e exemplary high performance school receiving the prestigious U.S. Department of Education 2 2019 National Blue Ribbon.

"Werecognize andhonoryour important workinpreparingstudentsforsuccessful careersandmeaningfullives,”saidNancy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education, inavideomessageto thehonorees. “As a NationalBlueRibbonSchool,yourschool demonstrateswhatispossiblewhen committededucatorsholdallstudentsand staffto highstandardsandcreate vibrant, innovative culturesofteachingand learning."

DUBLIN I.S.D. Administration

420 N. Post Oak, Dublin, Texas 76446 (254) 445-3341

DublinISD.us

Hometown Living At Its Best 25

Tarleton Successfully Moves to

DIVISION 1

It’s Tarleton State University

You’ve heard the news. You know the name. You’ve seen the athletic schedules.

But what does it mean to be Division I? NCAA Division I is a mindset. It’s Tarleton State University telling the rest of the country that we are setting our students up for the highest level of success attainable in every way possible. Whether it’s in athletic competition, life-changing research or the world of business, Tarleton graduates are elite and ready to be global change agents.

Our journey to NCAA Division I status has been far from traditional. When Dr. James Hurley was named Tarleton’s 16th President in 2019, he was ready to show the world just how Texans roll — even before his inauguration ceremony took place. Dr. Hurley, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Lonn Reisman and Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp met with Western Athletic Conference presidents in Denver to make their case for joining Division I.

It moved forward with Dr. Hurley’s vision. His Division I mindset. “There is something special about Tarleton,” he says. “It’s a place where we rise to challenges and seize opportunities. A place that propels us to excellence.” Ever forward, ever onward — that’s how H.A. Schmidt defined our trajectory in 1920 when

telling the rest of the country that we are setting our students up for the highest level of success attainable in every way possible.
Hometown Living At Its Best 27

he penned the Tarleton Fight Song: Strive for ideals high / Guard your standards, your traditions / Raise them to the sky / On Ye Tarleton, on Ye Tarleton / Biggest and the best.

“That is what we’re doing here at Tarleton. That is who we are.” An official invitation to join the WAC was extended to Tarleton in November 2019, and the journey was on. The one-time small agricultural college in Stephenville, Texas, was ready to take on the world at the highest level. Tarleton could no longer be a best kept secret.

Tarleton made the move on July 1, 2020, and spent its first year of NCAA reclassification navigating a global pandemic. Classes went completely virtual; athletics were postponed, and the once fruitful streets of Tarleton’s illustrious campus were bare.

“There is something special about Tarleton,” he says.
28 Erath County Living
“It’s a place where we rise to challenges and seize opportunities. A place that propels us to excellence.”

Led by its student organizations, passionate alumni, and dedicated faculty and staff, Tarleton showed exactly why it was ready for a bigger profile. While other universities around the nation struggled, Tarleton found a way to flourish. Tarleton set new records for enrollment with a growth of 6.5 percent, graduate program enrollment exceeded 2,000 students for the first time, and the school was setting new diversity standards with over 5,000 of its students reporting an ethnicity other than white — a growth of 6 percent from 2019. People were seeing Tarleton with a fresh set of eyes. A new mindset. A Division I mindset.

On the playing field, Tarleton Athletics reaped the rewards of its new Division I status. The Texans have squared off against big-name opponents, such as a 2022 football date with TCU in Fort Worth and basketball games against perennial top-10 programs Kansas and Gonzaga. The Tarleton brand was reaching new heights.

Hometown Living At Its Best 29
People were seeing Tarleton with a fresh set of eyes. A new mindset. A Division I mindset.

“Watching this university compete year in and year out on the biggest stage is a dream come true,” athletics VP Reisman says. “When I came to Tarleton as the men’s basketball coach in 1988, we were a small NAIA school. I have seen us grow from NAIA to NCAA Division II and now the pinnacle of college sports, NCAA Division I. “There are members of the Tarleton community who have KNOWN for years that we were ready for Division I competition. They knew the type of future leaders this outstanding school produces. I’ve had a note on my desk for over 20 years that says, ‘Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.’ Underneath that I put NCAA Division I. For more than 20 years, we never gave up on the dream that our students now get to experience every day.”

As each day passes, Tarleton’s name becomes more and more synonymous with Division I, leading to big dividends for our student population and alumni base. The Division I mentality brings a renewed energy around the campus. More opportunities are being created for our students to find success.

Recently, Tarleton developed a fresh strategic plan to lay out the next decade of success for the institution as it elevates itself into the premier comprehensive regional university in the nation. One of the main institutional objectives was to increase the number of social media followers on Tarleton’s athletic accounts by 20 percent and university accounts by 10 percent annually. Based on recent analytics, Tarleton has seen a spike in fan engagement on social media and interest from prospective students.

This newly minted Division I, forward-thinking mindset promises our students an affordable, high-quality education paired with personalized support from start to finish to help them grow academically, socially and professionally; engaged faculty, staff and alumni mentors who guide students in setting long-term goals and developing marketable skills with real world application; a diverse and inclusive community where all students feel a sense of belonging, safety and acceptance; and transformational educational experiences that challenge

students to achieve excellence and prepare them to lead meaningful and rewarding lives.

Tarleton offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees at campuses in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Midlothian, Waco, A&M-RELLIS in Bryan and online.

We’ve added 14 market-responsive majors since 2019 (six in fall 2022). Our expert faculty and student researchers are setting new standards for scholarship, which has elevated the university’s designation to Doctoral Universities High Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institution of Higher Education. This puts Tarleton among only 132, or 4 percent, of schools across the country holding this distinction.

Tarleton Texans are on the rise. Division I is more than a classification. It’s our mindset. It’s a mentality that anything in life can be achieved with enough hard work and dedication.

Joining the Western Athletic Conference in NCAA Division I has increased Tarleton’s national recognition for student-athletes and academic programs. In fact, our scholar-athletes earned the highest academic progress rate (987) of any school in NCAA history reclassifying to D-1.

Tarleton has one of the most loyal fan bases in Texas, and opposing teams feel the passion. Crowds routinely pack the sporting venues in Stephenville, which are some of the finest in the country. Capitalizing on the move to Division I, Tarleton plans to build a $110 million, 7,500set multipurpose center to provide the men’s and women’s basketball teams a stronger home court advantage. Now is a good time to watch a Tarleton Texans game live on the Stephenville campus. Be a part of something special.

Tarleton Texans are on the rise

ECL
team schedules and purchase tickets at tarletonsports.com.
Find
Tarleton offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees at campuses in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Midlothian, Waco, A&M-RELLIS in Bryan and online.
30 Erath County Living
Tarleton has one of the most loyal fan bases in Texas, and opposing teams feel the passion.
Hometown Living At Its Best 31

CTFAC has paired with several locations in Stephenville to bring art to the community with each location featuring different local artists.

CTFAC Gallery On The Square

148 West College Street

Stephenville Public Library

174 Columbia Avenue

Clark Field Regional Airport 1050 Airport Road

Stephenville Senior Center 164 E. College Street

20th Annual Ragin’ Cajun + Silent Auction

SAVE THE DATE!

Saturday, March 25, 2023, 6pm-9pm

Cooking, Music & Fun.

Big Red Barn Event Center

3159 N. US Hwy 67

Stephenville, Texas

For tickets or more information, Call (254)965-9160 or email us at info@ctfac.com

This FUN-raiser is sure to be an evening of great Cajun food & all things Mardi-Gras, while also benefiting CTFAC’s local art related programs, activities & events.

CROSS TIMBERS
COUNCIL Serving Bosque, Comanche, Eastland, Erath, Hamilton, Hood, Palo Pinto and Somervell Counties since 1980 148 West College Street Stephenville, TX 76401 (254) 965-6190 crosstimbersfinearts.org Find us on facebook COME SEE US AT OUR NEW LOCATION ON THE SQUARE!
FINE ARTS
April 15, 2023 2pm-6pm Downtown Stephenville on the Square
us for an afternoon of art, wine tastings, cheese sampling, beer tastings, food trucks and much more as the Stephenville Downtown Merchants and CTFAC present our 3rd Annual Wine and Art Walk.
Art in Public Places Saturday,
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Stephenville Wine + Art Walk
For Some Serious
Cajun

White Magnolia House is located in the Downtown Square of Stephenville, Tx.

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Come see us at 119 S. Graham St for any and all of your shopping or beauty needs!

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Bryan

In a state filled with beautiful landscapes, people of all backgrounds, festivals to celebrate every occasion and unique sunsets painting every evening skyline, one never has to leave the state of Texas to create memories that last forever. Join us as we explore Texas towns and what makes them so special.

Train Stop Turned Tourist Stop

Ninety minutes past Waco is a community full of tradition, pride, and plenty of options for good family fun. Bryan and College Station boast a combined population of 175,000 with the lines of the two towns somewhat blurred as they often referenced simultaneously as “BCS.”

Even if your college football allegiance doesn’t lie with Texas A&M University, located in College Station, you can still find many reasons to load up and take a road trip to experience this Texas town.

History

Bryan, established in 1859, is named after Texas pioneer Stephen F. Austin’s nephew, William Joel Bryan. The town was known in the early years for its agricultural resources and railway system.

College Station on the other hand was planned as a “model community by college professors when the college could no longer accommodate their living needs on campus,” the BCS Chamber of Commerce shares. The town, named as a railway stop by the Postal Service in 1877 grew exponentially in the 1960s when the college opened the doors to women and changed its name to Texas A&M University.

34 Erath County Living

Where to Eat

No trip to the area is successful without a stop at the famous Dixie Chicken – also known as “The Chicken.” For over forty years this bar, which has stayed the same all those decades, has served as a hot spot for all seeking cold beer and tasty burgers. Your trip will be marked complete when you finish a game of 42 (dominoes) and carve your name in the wood (table) at The Chicken.

Featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the Hullabaloo Diner is an eclectic place with pancakes the size of a hub cap – no seriously – we aren’t kidding! While breakfast is their specialty, they offer a full menu for lunch and dinner as well.

Feeling adventurous and very hungry? Try the Bryan Taco Trail – which includes dozens of authentic taquerias, Mexican restaurants, and some non-traditional and fusion taco offerings. There are 44 stops on the trail and after downloading and checking in at each stop via the app, you can earn a championship banner to acknowledge your victory.

Ronin Restaurant is a newer eatery in Bryan, located in a renovated icehouse with an open-air kitchen and dining room. The restaurant is located seven miles from the farm where food is harvested for the ever-changing menu, dependent on the growing season.

Downtown Bryan is filled with great eating options – from Papa Perez and Casa Rodriguez, to the most intimate Italian restaurant, Café Capri, which operates out of a renovated 1900s building. Mr. G’s Pizzeria is a fun place to eat and is known for famous sightings of “Mr. G” himself on busy nights. Top of the evening with a visit to the old soda shop in downtown and your evening in downtown Bryan will be one you won’t forget.

Hometown Living At Its Best 35

What to Do

Let’s start with the obvious – if you are going to College Station, you want to try and time the visit just right so that you can watch a Fightin’ Texas Aggie football, baseball, or basketball game.

And since you are already on campus, it would be the perfect time to take part in a campus tour or self-guided tour – be sure your tour includes visits to the Bonfire Memorial, the Aggie Ring at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center.

The Gardens on West Campus, the Century Tree, and the Memorial Student Center (make sure you do not walk on the grass and remove your hat as the center is a living memorial dedicated to all Aggies, past or future, who have given or will give their lives in wartime.)

Other attractions include Lake Bryan, a great way to soak up the sun and enjoy dinner with a view or a picnic, or Messina Hoff Winery, a beautiful location for dinner and a tasting or happy hour with friends. Lake Walk is perfect for a nightly stroll, live music, good eating, and all with a perfect view as you walk around the water with shops and venues along the path.

The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum is located on the campus of Texas A&M University and has numerous events, tons of history, a children’s area, educational resources and much more.

Downtown Bryan, while filled with good eats, is also known for its night life and shopping. The historic downtown has an old theater, antique shopping, charming scenery, and lots of murals. Get dressed up for a night on the town or go comfy and walk it all.

Fun for the Smallest in Size

If you are bringing younger ones with you, be sure the Aggieland Wild Animal Safari is on the list of “stops.” You can experience the animals in three ways – drive-thru in your vehicle, get out and experience the animal encounters and/or stop by the Adventure Zoo.

Adamson Lagoon is a neat place to cool off in the hot months. According to their site, “The tropical atmosphere in this exciting mini waterpark provides a pleasant and safe environment for the whole family. Attractions include a large serpentine water slide, a stump slide, tadpole slide, lily pad walk, and water basketball.”

The Children’s Museum of Brazos Valley features innovation stations, soft play zones, space exploration, a small scale “downtown main street” and much more that will keep your littles engaged and learning!

Other Area Attractions

Northgate is known for its night life – be it a good drink or dancing the night away. Be sure your visit includes a visit to the famous district with plenty of options for fun.

Kinda Candid is a selfie museum where you can take photos in 14 interactive exhibits to help remember your visit and The Cove at BearX is an adult only waterpark with a massive lazy river, swim up bar, VIP bungalows/cabanas, wakeboard lake and yard games.

What are you waiting for? Start packing for your unforgettable trip to BCS now…and if you want to blend in, wear maroon! ECL

WHEN IN BRYAN

Let’s start with the obvious – if you are going to College Station, you want to try and time the visit just right so that you can watch a Fightin’ Texas Aggie football, baseball, or basketball game.

WHERE TO EAT

Downtown Bryan is filled with great eating options – from Papa Perez and Casa Rodriguez, to the most intimate Italian restaurant, Café Capri, which operates out of a renovated 1900s building. Mr. G’s Pizzeria is a fun place to eat and is known for famous sightings of “Mr. G” himself on busy nights. Top of the evening with a visit to the old soda shop in downtown and your evening in downtown Bryan will be one you won’t forget.

Hometown Living At Its Best 37
Come Visit The Cheese Shoppe & Farm Taste the difference THURS - 12:00 SAT - 10:30 & 1:30 You can sign up for tours on our web site artisan, Raw Milk, Texas Cheeses Four generations of our family work together to provide real food for you. Our contented cows graze 180 pesticide-free acres. We never use colorings or preservatives. Grass fed meats, specialty foods and products from local producers are also available. MADE BY HAND, Blessed by God! www.veldhuizencheese.com Cheese Baskets Make the Perfect Holiday Gift! 254.968.3098 between Dublin & Stephenville go to Google Maps for directions
•Relax Inn •The Cottage* •Marmalade Station* •The White Pine Cottage At Clay House* *AirBnB Experience time travel… …in Dublin! Shop! •Things Celtic •Little Authors •Blessings/Merle Norman •Bargain Furniture • Wicked Clover Tattoo Studio •Golden Butterfly Jewelers •Dublin Floral Company •Interior Dimensions •Will Do Good Thrift Store •Velasco Car Audio •Lucky Vineyards •Lucky Brewing Company •Thompson's Meats •Bradberry's Best •Veldhuizen Cheese Shoppe •Brookshire Brothers • Austin Street Fabrics Sewing and Quilt Shop • Rusty Rose Antiques • Back Home General Store • 1.21 Gigawatts Antiques • Higginbotham Brothers Come to Dublin, Texas, and visit our three fabulous museums: The Dublin Historical Museum, The Dublin Rodeo Museum, and The Ben Hogan Museum. Take a journey through time and see for yourself the people, places, and events that are still giving Dublin its character today. Enjoy hearing the stories that change still images to living lessons. Wander through the years, hear the conversations, and get to know Dublin like never before. While you’re here, check out the places to eat and shop…then maybe stay awhile! dublintxedc.com (254)445-1919 dublintxedc@gmail.com dublintxchamber.com (254)300-6263 chamberdirector@ dublintxchamber.com Dining’s a short walk away! Eat! •Granny Clark’s •Blackjack’s Coffee Shop •Milano’s Pizza • Taqueria El Rio Y Mariscos •The Deer Lease Bar & Grill •El Rinconcito •Red Barrel Bar & Grill •Market Latina •Lucky Nutrition •Sonic •Dairy Queen •Golden Chick •Chigger Ranch •Dublin Donuts •Calvary Fellowship Tacos •The Dublin Stop •Big’s Convenience Store • Grafton Market - Happy Belly Deli • Backwoods Family Restaurant Hometown Living At Its Best 39
40 Erath County Living

THE SHOW

THE BEST TUESDAY NIGHT IN TEXAS TAKES PLACE IN THE COWBOY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.

“KIM ANDRAE AND I APPROACHED THE BOARD WITH OUR IDEA OF HOSTING A FASHION SHOW LIKE THE ONE HELD DURING THE NFR IN LAS VEGAS. OUR HUSBANDS BOTH SERVE ON THE RODEO BOARD, AND WE KNOW THE AMOUNT OF WORK IT TAKES TO PUT ON THAT EVENT. WE JUST WANTED TO HELP IN OUR OWN WAY.”

Once upon a time, the Tuesday night of Rodeo Heritage Week in Erath County was like any other weeknight—uneventful. That all changed a decade ago when two women approached the Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo Association’s (CCPRA) board with an idea.

“We wanted to put on a fashion show to help support the rodeo,” said Jodi Clements. “Kim Andrae and I approached the board with our idea of hosting a fashion show like the one held during the NFR in Las Vegas. Our husbands both serve on the rodeo board, and we know the amount of work it takes to put on that event. We just wanted to help in our own way.”

The board approved the proposal and gave the fashion show the Tuesday night of rodeo week so that it would not overlap with any other rodeo activities.

Hometown Living At Its Best 41

“THE SHOW COMMITTEE WAS HOPING THAT 100 PEOPLE WOULD COME SO WE COULD COVER OUR EXPENSES. INSTEAD, MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE SHOWED UP.”

“The board had no idea what the event would become,” said Chad Decker, former CCPRA president. “We thought we were making our wives happy by letting them have a ‘little’ fashion show.”

Not long after getting approval from CCPRA, a group of women in Erath County who loved rodeo came together to form The Show committee. Members include Chandra Andrew, Brooke Brooks, Jodi Clements, Carie Decker, Carly Elford, Jodee Lucero, and Jody Volf.

“While we came together as strangers at that first meeting, we were unified by our belief in the sport of rodeo as well as the opportunity to give back to our community,” said Carly Elford. “We are now a tribe of women who believe in empowering other women in our community while we raise money to benefit rodeo and charities in Erath County.”

The Show committee planned the first event on a shoestring budget, with each member pitching in $100 and a raffle item.

“I’m not sure who was more surprised the first year— The Show committee or the rodeo board,” said Carie

42 Erath County Living

Decker. “The Show committee was hoping that 100 people would come so we could cover our expenses. Instead, more than 400 people showed up.”

SHOWCASING BEAUTY

Stephenville is the Cowboy Capital of the World, which also places it at the forefront of Western fashion. Trends in the Western industry start in Stephenville and are found locally long before they are on Yellowstone or seen at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

“Featuring clothing trends found in boutiques and stores in Erath County made sense to the committee,” said Brooke Brooks. “Our fashion options in Stephenville are ahead of the curve. If you want to see where Western style is headed, then go shopping in our community.”

But it’s not just fashion that The Show puts front and center—the event displays the beautiful women who live in our community.

“We believe that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages,” said Jodee Lucero. “Our committee believes that women are gorgeous in all stages of life. Some of the most beautiful women in the world call Erath County home and we are proud to have them model each year.”

Model selection occurs early in the year when planning the next event kicks into high gear. The number of

“THE MODELS WE SELECT REPRESENT ALL ASPECTS OF OUR COMMUNITY.”

models selected will vary depending on the number of stores participating, with each store having the honor of dressing two models.

“The models we select represent all aspects of our community,” Jodi Clements said. “From the beginning, our committee wanted to bring town and country together. We need each other and our event brings out the best in our community. By bringing everyone together, The Show makes a big impact in our county.” Stores and models participating in 2022 included: Back at the Ranch, Lacey Donegan and Tasha Welsh; Buckin’ Buffalo, Kyndra Brown and Kassidy McKee; Charlotte Heart, Mady McLaury and Angela Withers; Grand Entry, Gina Graham and Paige Hammond; Johnny and June, LeAnn Durfey and Maddi Robbins; Punchy Vaquera, Raychell Donegan and Kat Messer; Punchy’s, Rande McKellar and Mary Schindler; Saddle Rags, Ginger Herbst and Lani Rust; Silver Wings, Presley Bray and Kristin Tredway; The Pearl at Hotel Lucy, Kelly Meyer and Melody Norton; Tru Spirit, Emma Abbott and Kristen Williams; Venture 19, Julie Brinkley and Alyssa Huckabee; and Whoa Pony, Morgan Holmes and Hayden Tucker.

44 Erath County Living
THE SHOW COMMITTEE SELECTED THE ERATH COUNTY VOLUNTEER FIRE RESCUE AS THE OTHER 2022 CHARITY.

THE SHOW RAISES MONEY THROUGH TICKET AND TABLE SALES, A RAFFLE, AND A LIVE AUCTION.

“I’m more of a sit on the sidelines and cheer other people type,” said Kat Messer. “But last night [The Show] was empowering. All the girls who walked were so fun. I am so glad that I said, ‘yes’ to this experience.”

PAYING IT FORWARD

In addition to supporting the Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo each year, The Show committee selects another organization to support financially as well as provide increased awareness of that charity. Previous charities include Backpack Buddies, Rainbow Room, Stephenville Police Department K9 Unit, Anything’s Paw-sible Stephenville, and Restoration Advocates.

The committee makes a point to pray each year before picking the models and charity. Earlier in the spring, The Show committee selected the Erath County Volunteer Fire Rescue as the other 2022 charity.

“Our committee truly feels God’s guidance in many of our decisions,” said Jody Volf. “We had no idea what a hot and dry summer was coming when we selected our charity. Many of the decisions our committee makes are a God thing.”

The Show raises money through ticket and table sales, a raffle, and a live auction. When the dust finally settled in 2022, the rodeo and the firefighters evenly split the $70,000 proceeds from the event. Passing the hat also raised a little more than $10,000 at this year’s event, with 100% going to the firefighters for a total donation exceeding $45,000.

“The amount we are able to donate varies each year,” said Chandra Andrew. “The auction generates more when the committee receives donations rather than purchasing auction items. Thankfully, we live in a community that continues to support our event and believes in our mission as much as we do.”

CHANGES ON THE HORIZON

The Show has been blessed to call The N at Hard Way Ranch home for most of its events. However, changes are on the horizon in 2023 for all events associated with Rodeo Heritage Week. The Show committee is optimistic about the upcoming changes as they will lead to a bigger venue that can host more people.

Tickets for the 2022 event sold out in less than 10 minutes. In fact, a line had formed at Tea2Go before the committee arrived to begin selling tickets. The Show has come a long way from worrying that only 100 people would come.

“If only we could go back in time and tell the rodeo committee what The Show would become,” said Ben Clements, CCPRA board member. “These ladies have built such an incredible event that the rodeo needs The Show, but The Show doesn’t need the rodeo.”

Planning is already underway for next year. Make sure to follow The Show – Cowboy Capital Pro Rodeo Association on Facebook for updates, ticket information, and other information. ECL

Hometown Living At Its Best 45
THE RODEO AND THE FIREFIGHTERS EVENLY SPLIT THE $70,000 PROCEEDS FROM THE EVENT.
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48 Erath County Living

ROPING IN THE BEST

Equibrand CEO, Ken Bray received multiple invitations from Stephenville—the “Cowboy Capital of the World” to relocate the company’s rope making operations. After all, riding to the rescue is the Cowboy Way.

Ken Bray and Equibrand personify the best. Stephenville has a way of bringing the best. The Chamber of Commerce brags that Stephenville is distinctively Texan – independent, hardworking, and educated. In 2015 a fire in Granbury left one of the best businesses in the western industry without its inventory, fiber, and equine manufacturing equipment. Equibrand CEO, Ken Bray received multiple invitations from Stephenville—the “Cowboy Capital of the World” to relocate the company’s rope making operations. After all, riding to the rescue is the Cowboy Way.

“The fire broke out in the warehouse/shop area of the building,” Bray explained. “When you lose everything, you must recreate it all over again. Everything we do is custom. Our manufacturing equipment is all specially made. The blessing was Stephenville. The city welcomed us in and helped us get permits quickly to begin construction of the new build-

Hometown Living At Its Best 49

ing. Most of our people live in the Erath County area. Between Stephenville, sub-contractors, and our great employees, we were back in business in less than a year’s time. We can’t thank the people of Stephenville and Erath County enough for helping us get back up and running so quickly.”

Born and raised in team roping, Ken is a living database of what a cowboy needs. Ken’s grandfather was a rancher who raised registered Hereford cattle and quarter horses. His father, Bryan Bray. roped calves and steers in the rodeo. He served as a lifelong leader and supporter of 4-H, FFA and High School rodeo. Ken had a rope in his hand more often than not.

“We grew up riding horses. taking care of them. and working livestock. We started junior rodeoing at an early age. Growing up in Dumas in the Texas Panhandle meant three youth rodeo events a year. No junior high rodeo program, so I went from youth rodeos straight into high school ones. In 1980 Tristate High School Rodeo Association (THRSA) was bigtime because there were like twenty-two rodeos a year.”

At Ken’s first qualifying rodeo for the Texas High School Rodeo Association, he qualified for state finals in calf roping, bulldogging. and team roping. Ken and his brother, Kirk, also qualified to go the National High School Rodeo Finals.

“When you lose everything, you must recreate it all over again.”

“It was an amazing experience,” Bray explained, “and high school rodeo got me scholarships for college.”

Ken continued the sport of rodeo in college at South Plains and then Tarleton State University. After graduation he competed in amateur and PRCA Circuit Rodeos and standalone team roping events across the country.

In 1987 Ken Bray entered the world of business as a bank loan officer. “I learned a lot at the bank, and I wouldn’t trade for the time I spent there,” Bray explained, “but the suit-and-tie environment was not my style.”

When one of his customers, a CPA named Ted Tomerlin, asked him if he wanted to be a part of a new rope-making business, Bray was quick out of the chute to trade in his nine-to-five job for a career in the Western industry.

“There’s a definite business side to ranching and feeding cattle. There is also a business side to rodeo. But the knowledge of the western industry and lifestyle is and was critically important to understanding the marketplace and the consumer. I think the combined knowledge

50 Erath County Living

obtained from ranching, working with my dad at the feedlot, and roping prepared me for this company.”

In 1992 Bray became a partner in Equibrand, and under his leadership as CEO, the company has advanced the technology, revolutionized the industry, and helped athletes (both human and equine) be more competitive.

“We’re a team of people actively involved in the western performance horse sports industry. Equibrand is made up of five brands: Classic Rope. Rattler Rope. Classic Equine. Martin Saddlery, and Cashel Company. We manufacture in three locations: Granbury, Greenville, and Stephenville with 258 employees.” Bray uses the word team and practices the concept of team in his leadership role. “And we have people that have been with the company their entire adult life—some for over thirty years.”

The best in the business use Equibrand products. Most of the leading professional ropers live in Erath County. Bray explains why the company is so successful.

Hometown Living At Its Best 51
Ken continued the sport of rodeo in college at South Plains and then Tarleton State University.

“We ask a lot of questions, and we work with experts in the horse industry to find solutions that help solve their problems or satisfy their needs for products that make them more competitive. Equibrand is made up of an effective team of like-minded and hardworking people that believe everything we do can be done better. We have a curiosity to design and develop products. A competitive drive to innovate without a fear of failure. We built our business by taking care of our customers, our people, and our brands, while being innovative and dedicated to new product development and design. Equibrand is a team effort and team success story. It’s been a blast to see the dramatic and positive changes within horse sports over the past 35 years,” Bray said.

A few of the team members mentioned as the key leaders in Equibrand’s production of their Classic and Rattler rope brands are Craig Bray (Operations Manager and Ken’s brother), George McQuain (Rope Production Manager), and Dallas Clay (Fiber Production Manager).

52 Erath County Living
Equibrand is made up of an effective team of like-minded and hardworking people that believe everything we do can be done better.

Ken’s wife, Billie, is from a family of generational ranchers in north central Montana. She and Ken have two sons. Paden, age 22, and Wyatt, 23, grew up competing. They now attend Ken’s alma mater, Tarleton State. Also, Tarleton alumni, Craig, Kirk, and Becky Bray, live in Erath County. Their children grew up competing in rodeo and all are following the family traditions of rodeo, Tarleton, and the western lifestyle.

As the Brays built and then rebuilt their business, they have invested their time and gifts to promote youth participation in rodeo, 4-H, and FFA organizations. In their service to youth events, they have remained in rodeo and in their boys’ lives. “Paden and Wyatt compete in pro rodeoing now. Paden was the PRCA Reserve World Champion in 2020 and 2021, and he is currently in the Top 15 of PRCA standings to qualify for his third trip to the NFR. Wyatt is competing on his PRCA permit while attending Tarleton.”

Ken previously served THSRA as the Region III President, State Director, and Executive Director. In 2017, Ken was recruited by his fellow executive board members to run for the position of Texas High School Rodeo Association President.

Ken has a unique perspective when it comes to high school and junior high rodeo. People who serve with him comment on his dedication to the kids. As a parent, western industry business owner, and as a contestant himself, he puts the sport of rodeo and the those who compete in it first. He genuinely wants Texas rodeo athletes to have the best opportunities possible.

Ann Moody Blackwell worked with Ken Bray on the Texas High School Rodeo Association board. “This man is one of the best. I count myself extremely fortunate to have worked with him on the board and call him my friend. The work by Ken and the board to pull together the state finals in 2020 was a phenomenal feat and shows how very dedicated he is to these kids.”

Ken Bray personifies the best in his career, in Texas High School Rodeo, in the community, in the western industry business, and the brotherhood that is rodeo culture.

Stephenville roped in the best with Ken Bray and Equibrand’s new manufacturing location. Bray added, “The industry and the sport has been amazing and fantastic for me and my family and Equibrand. I think it’s important we give back and pay it forward.” ECL

Their children grew up competing in rodeo and all are following the family traditions of rodeo, Tarleton, and the western lifestyle.
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56 Erath County Living

Ferron Lucero, Jr

THE POWER OF A SPOKEN WORD

Ferron Lucero, Jr believes in Stephenville, Texas. He believes in Erath County, Texas. And he believes in the power of the spoken word.

Lucero is not a native of the Cross Timbers area. The New Mexico native was born in Portales, but claims Clayton, NM as his hometown. Since 2005, he has hung his hat in Stephenville, making his living as an announcer of all things equine related.

The journey from New Mexico to Texas was not a path he designed himself. The Eastern New Mexico University graduate, with a degree in sports communication under his belt, had varied interests including basketball. He gained notoriety as an announcer for ENMU varsity sports, including college rodeo. His dream was to announce team ropings.

He was given the opportunity to announce the “Challenge Pen” for the United States Team Roping Championships( USTRC) Yet, despite that job, for two years, he struggled to get a full time announcing gig. He decided he would go to the Texas Panhandle area and secure a job as a television anchor.

The New Mexico native was born in Portales, but claims Clayton, NM as his hometown. Since 2005, he has hung his hat in Stephenville, making his living as an announcer of all things equine related.
Hometown Living At Its Best 57

A FORK IN THE ROAD

Just as Lucero had decided to implement Plan B in career choices, he came to a fork in the road. Two employment options would be presented to him simultaneously.

A late night phone call from Kirk Bray, then president of the USTRC, offered him a position with the USTRC in Stephenville. Would this lead to fulfilling his aspirations of being a team roping announcer?

Within 24 hours of the offer to come to Texas, Lucero would be courted by his alma mater, ENMU, to be the athletic event coordinator while obtaining his masters degree. It would be a challenging decision.

In the end, the offer from USTRC brought Lucero to Stephenville. “I had to borrow money to move. I moved myself with my two horse trailer the week before Thanksgiving in 2005,” Lucero said. He recalled his house furnishings were sparse. “I had a bike, a bed, two glasses and bowls from Piggly Wiggly,” he laughed.

He gives considerable credit to his Erath county friends, Shawn Vargas and Michele Wright for making the transition from New Mexico to Texas more comfortable and instrumental in his success.

58 Erath County Living
"I want people to do well. I love to announce. I would announce anything."

YOU ARE THE COMMUNITY

Lucero praises the Stephenville community for the support shown to him professionally. “This community has been so good to me, so supportive. They all help each other. When I moved to Stephenville, I had no idea I would be able to announce.” He is a member of the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, which has allowed him to “be a bigger part of the community and be able to give.”

“I want people to do well. I love to announce. I would announce anything.” And that he does. He announces team roping, bull riding and ranch rodeo productions, “my favorite is team roping and ranch rodeos.” “There is so much energy in team roping,” he commented. He appreciates the accomplishments the team ropers make through their perseverance and competition.

Lucero’s resume also includes giving his voice to non-profit and charity events. He was a co-emcee for the

“It’s fun. It’s the power of the spoken word.”

Cowboy Capitol of the World ProRodeo fundraiser, “The Show!” and the Heroes For Horses event in Lubbock, TX. Other notable events Lucero has lent his voice to include the Red Steagall Cow Gathering Ranch Rodeo in Ft. Worth and the infamous George Strait Roping.

His latest venture behind the mic is auctioneering. He has attended the Western College of Auctioneering and likes the diversification it adds to his career.

“I always wanted to go to auctioneering school. It helps me transition to other areas,” he commented. “It’s like being the Wizard of Oz when you are the host. It’s a more intimate gathering. You can be way more aware of the way you are communicating.”

THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD

As an avid reader, Lucero believes strongly in the advantages it gives to his career.

“It’s important to know vocabulary. I create all the time. Words help me create. That’s why I read. It opens the mind on how people view something. It’s how you communicate…how you get the point across. The spoken word is special to me.”

He will tell you it makes a difference in how he announces any event and communicates with his audience. His spoken word dives into another realm in motivational speaking and music. Lucero has his own YouTube channel and has produced “Wake Up Call,” featuring “Roosevelt Road,” that is available to download on all virtual music outlets.

His mantra is geared to helping individuals achieve the best of themselves. “How are you going to make yourself better? Let’s go to work. A desire to succeed will take you to the next level,” are just some of the inspirational quotes Lucero uses in his motivational productions.

ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL

Lucero knows that it takes a village to have a successful professional and personal life. He has two siblings that he credits as his biggest supporters. His three children, Isabella, a Stephenville High school sophomore, Eli, a sixth grader and Ace, a third grader, are all involved in Stephenville activities, keeping him equally as busy as his announcing career.

DID YOU KNOW?

Lucero has dabbled in the movie spotlight, appearing in “All The Pretty Horses.” He was working at a Clayton, NM grocery store when he answered a newspaper ad for a casting call for Hispanic horseback riders. After landing a part and the movie was released, he was surprised at the fan response. The movie was shown to a standing room only crowd in Portales and he was impressed that his name was spelled correctly in the credits.

For now, Lucero will continue utilizing his combined knowledge of equine, rodeo, and sports to provide an educated voice to audiences. Lucero will continue to find avenues to reach people through the “spoken” word. His beliefs in all things western and how to be the best version of yourself will no doubt find its presence in a production near you. ECL

“A desire to succeed will take you to the next level.”
60 Erath County Living
Lucero knows that it takes a village to have a successful professional and personal life.
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The Power of Our

WORDS

God can pinpoint every failure and every sin, yet He chooses to celebrate us.

Words are my favorite.

I love the stories intricately told with perfectly placed adjectives or intriguing plot lines. It’s my dream to dive into a book and pick it apart, on the hunt for sentences that shape my soul and engage my imagination. Being an author influences my passion for language and the art of story, so I read all I can. But in that unbridled excitement to find the good in each book, I am almost more delighted when I

Like a detective solving a crime, each mistake I discover feels like a clue leading to capturing the criminal.

find the typos in a major publication. Like a detective solving a crime, each mistake I discover feels like a clue leading to capturing the criminal. “They missed the comma!” “Can you believe they left out ‘and’?” “How are these people professionals?!” It’s a badge of honor to point out the wrongdoing and shortfall of other writers, right?

It was, until my own book was published. When I finally relished the satisfaction of the tangible, paper-printed copy in my own hands, I found an error right away. What? How could that be? It went through edit after edit, had the eyes of an entire publishing house scouring each page, and was even featured on shelves in Barnes & Noble, yet had an error. “WHY, God?” I thought. “Why, when I have finally achieved

Believe
Boldly
64 Erath County Living

my dream of publishing a book, did you let this slip by?” I felt like I failed, and the book would be judged as lessthan. God responded to my question with His own—

“Since when do you look for the mistake rather than celebrating the victory?”

He was right, as usual. Why would I bypass the victory of publishing a real-life, honest-to-goodness book, to agonize over one mistake? Sixty thousand words and all I could see was the one wrong one.

This had an obvious correlation to my faith, and I couldn’t help but see the connection. When I become too focused on my mistakes or failures, I can easily miss the ways I have already been redeemed by Christ. I can start to see my losses rather than my wins. God can pinpoint every failure and every sin, yet He chooses to celebrate us. He looks at our humanity and offers grace through Jesus, not a checklist of our shortcomings. Unlike my editing hand, He doesn’t pull out the red pen and comment in the margins—

Dumb.

Prideful.

Liar.

Lazy.

Instead, He calls us beloved. He calls us chosen. He calls us beautiful. When we don’t want to read our bibles or pray as we should, He invites us closer. We will all continue to make mistakes, but when we look for the mistakes in others rather than celebrating their victories, we miss the point of grace.

So, when reality allows the proverbial misspellings in the first chapter and doesn’t follow the rules of the Oxford comma in the last, I will choose to not lose my grip on the grace of God. I will look for the glory of His salvation in and amongst the messiest parts of myself and others because that is usually where He is the most visible. Thank God for grace! PCLS

Instead, He calls us beloved. He calls us chosen. He calls us beautiful.
Hometown Living At Its Best 65
- Erica

Helping Women Grow Stronger

Photos Provided by 50 Women Strong
66 Erath County Living

Who says New Year's resolutions don't come true?

Certainly not Dr. Rita Cook, who helped start the nonprofit organization 50 Women Strong in Stephenville. In fact, the idea for the organization was the result of just such a resolution.

"As you know, two years ago we were all sitting at home, unable to visit with family and friends as normal. I kept thinking that something good needed to come from that terrible time," Cook said. "It was evident that there were many people in need within our county, especially since so many lost all or part of their livelihood due to closures. I had many friends who were actively involved in charitable organizations within the community and already had full schedules of committee meetings and fundraising, but this would be a different type of organization."

So, Cook reached out to some highly successful women to get feedback. There would be a limited number of meetings, no fundraising, and no committees unless someone wanted to be involved on a committee. The purpose of the group would be to focus on unmet needs and on quality of life issues in the community, and to financially support different organizations, or people who historically do not receive large donations.

"Our goal was to be an inclusive organization and to include a diverse group of women. We wanted to be a voice for women who choose to make a difference in their community," Cook said. And so, 50 Women Strong was born. But where did the name come from?

"Originally, we felt if we could reach a goal of 50 women who became members, it would be a great success. So, we chose the name 50 Women Strong. We wanted this to be an organization for women because women are still

The purpose of the group would be to focus on unmet needs and on quality of life issues in the community, and to financially support different organizations, or people who historically do not receive large donations.
Hometown Living At Its Best 67

under-represented in philanthropy," Cook explained. "We also wanted to encourage and grow the number of women in our community who support philanthropy."

Originally, a group of five women, including Cook, met and began the planning process in January of 2021. The first recruitment meeting was held in August of 2021.

"Our first year, we were thrilled to have 57 women who chose to be a part of this new venture," Cook proudly exclaimed.

The organization is 501 (c)3. All donations are 100% deductible.

The age range in the group is typically 30s to 80s. Many of the members fall in the 40-60 age range, and Cook said they are excited to grow more memberships in the younger generations.

"We want this organization to flourish for many years to come," she said.

Members donate $1,000 each year and 100% of the money raised through memberships is awarded in grants. Some members choose to pay an additional $100 to cover administrative costs but each member, no matter how much they donate, has the same voting rights as all the members. One ballot per member.

"We do not raise money is any other way. We do have members or providers in town who may donate space for events or help cover the cost of refreshments," Cook said.

Grants are distributed during their spring meeting. Organizations are encouraged to apply and the group solicits applications through social media, newspapers, and social clubs. Areas of focus are culture and beautification, education, environment, family, health, and wellness. They do not consider religious or political requests. The applicants must be from Erath County or

provide services within Erath County that benefit local citizens.

At the spring meeting grant applications that have met the criteria are presented to the membership and they select through secret ballot which grants to fund.

"A typical grant amount would be around $10,000. We decided that we wanted to make an impact with our gifts and give amounts that would do that. There is no set amount so grants could be less or more depending on the decision of the membership," Cook said.

This past year, Cook said 50 Women Strong distributed $57,000 (100% of membership fees) to seven groups:

• Anything’s PAWsible, $10,000 for a therapy dog group

• Blessed Communities, Inc., $10,000 to purchase boots for volunteer firefighters

• Erath County Humane Society, $10,000 to spay and neuter shelter animals

• Erath County Historical Society, $10,000 for security cameras

• Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy, $5,000 to support abused children

• Restoration Advocates, $8,500 to purchase appliances for homeless women

• Stephenville 20th Century Club, $3,500 for library supplies

"The grant from 50 Women Strong is a tremendous contribution to our work in preserving the history or our community and Erath County. Having a quality security system helps us maintain the facilities and

The organization is 501 (c)3. All donations are 100% deductible.
"We also wanted to encourage and grow the number of women in our community who support philanthropy."

grounds, so that we can continue to offer the public a unique engagement with the people, events, and places that shaped the identity of this region," said Dana Adams, President of the Stephenville Historical House Museum.

"The response from the community has been tremendous. We are fully expecting to exceed our membership numbers again this year. So many women have reached out and want to be a part of this group," Cook said. "We want to change our name to 50 Women Strong…..and growing!

"While our purpose has certainly been to raise funds for our community, our membership meetings (four times a year) have become not-to-miss events. The dynamics from a roomful of women who are excited to be

The applicants must be from erath county or provide services within erath county that benefit local citizens.
Hometown Living At Its Best 69
“We decided that we wanted to make an impact with our gifts and give amounts that would do that.”

a part of something meaningful are a joy. Women of all ages and backgrounds mingle and interact while having fun. We always have good food and great conversations."

These events are funded through our 110% through the club, Cook stressed. A group of women choose to pay an additional amount to cover administrative costs and social events.

"We feel strongly that 100% of membership fees are always given to our awardees," she said.

"Our goal for the future is to increase our membership so that we can give even more gifts to groups within our community. The need is still great, and we would like to fund even more deserving groups."

Cook said the organization is proof of how many women in the community want to make a difference in the lives of others.

"This group started at a time when we were all at a low point in our lives. We were caught up in a pandemic that kept us from friends and family. At our first membership meeting the conversations were almost explosive!" Cook recalled. "We all realized how much we need each other and the satisfaction and joy that comes from doing something as a group that we cannot do alone. There is room for more women to be a part of this fun and dynamic group." ECL

"Our goal for the future is to increase our membership so that we can give even more gifts to groups within our community.”

Hometown Living At Its Best 71
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74 Erath County Living

Drought The 2022 Season of

Droughts come and go. John Collier of the Diamond C Ranch said, “Texas always has a drought until it has a flood.” He remembers droughts in the past, including the one in the 1950’s. Tracking rainfall for years, he said, “When rainfalls are above average for a few years, you can expect a drought in the future, because everything reverts to the mean average eventually.” Anticipating that this year might be dry, he stocked up on hay last fall. What he bought for fifty-five dollars is now selling for one hundred-fifty dollars, but he’s not selling it because he needs it for his cattle. He did sell off about half his herd in March before the prices dropped.

Other ranchers haven’t been as fortunate. Jeff Salyer said the drought of 2022 is the worst he can remember. This year, unlike the drought of 2011, there was almost no moisture in the winter, spring, or summer. The severe winds this summer dried up the crops so much that even irrigated crops had a

In addition to the drought this year, the wildfires devastated some people, even with the help of friends and neighbors. Many ranchers had to sell their cattle.
Hometown Living At Its Best 75

hard time producing.

Salyer was fortunate enough to keep three hundred rolls of hay on hand this summer, so he hasn’t had to downsize his herd. However, hay yields are way down, and he has had to feed in the summer like they normally only do in the fall and winter.

Ranchers are a hardy breed. They reach out and help one another when the need arises, because they know how tough times really are. In addition to the drought this year, the wildfires devastated some people, even with the help of friends and neighbors. Many ranchers had to sell their cattle. Salyer said, “I think and hope that if ranchers can hold on, the prices of beef will eventually rise this winter and spring. Maybe things will not ever be normal again, but hopefully it will be better than it is now. All we can do for now is keep praying for rain and hope that the cost of farming will go down.”

Brian Keith said this is the worst drought he can remember. At least in 2011, rainfall enriched the spring crops enough for grass to grow before the severe drought hit. “With this particular drought, we had terrible, almost non-existent winter crops, very little grass this spring and basically no grass all summer. The stock ponds are either low or completely dry and have been since July.”

They have taken a huge financial hit because they have had to hay and feed all summer instead of waiting until the first freeze, usually around November. It has also forced them to move cattle to pastures with water wells and troughs even if there is no grass available to

graze. “We usually keep thirty-five to forty black Angus mamma cows on one place. I consider us to be a small operation compared to many others, but even for our smaller herd, we’ve had to pick up two other pastures this summer to spread them out to conserve what water we have in stock tanks.

“As of now, we have been able to hang on to the cattle we have. My wife and I were considering culling a few cows back in July. The market dropped drastically in just three weeks due to the influx of cattle ‘going to town’ and we decided against selling. We normally plant a winter crop and wean calves and graze them all winter.”

Keith is hoping for some good fall rains, so he can plant wheat that will provide some winter grazing and into next spring. In order to recoup and build back their stock, they will need a good spring and summer in 2023. “Locally, I know the average age of the farmer/rancher continues to go up. I know some older ranchers that have either sold nearly everything or have sold everything. With their age, many of them say even if this drought ends and we get back to normal, they are done. With this taking place, I believe overall cattle numbers will be down for several years which should increase calf market

“Texas always has a drought until it has a flood.”
76 Erath County Living
The severe winds this summer dried up the crops so much that even irrigated crops had a hard time producing.

pricing. With this particular drought, it has been statewide. Cattle numbers are way down and sadly, I could see more having to go to town this fall if the weather does not change.”

Jay Procter of Procter Farms said 2022 has been much worse than the 2011 drought because there’s been no measurable moisture since last October. They have culled their herd down from two hundred to about one hundred-sixty due to lack of feed and grazing. Fortunately, due to cross fencing, they have been able to shuffle their cattle around with controlled grazing patterns. Their pastures have Coastal Bermuda, which grows quickly with just a little moisture.

Drought also causes water issues. They laid about three-fourths of a mile of black, plastic poly pipe from

Hometown Living At Its Best 77
Ranchers are a hardy breed. They reach out and help one another when the need arises, because they know how tough times really are.

the nearest water well to replenish stock tanks. Some ranchers lost their pastures and hay to the fires in Carbon and around Lipan. The community came together and helped one another by donating hay. Since then, hay piles have dwindled, and people can no longer donate what they need to feed their own stock.

One part of Procter Farm has been in the family since 1856. Jay’s grandfather purchased the main part of the farm in 1945 after returning from World War II. Growing up in the shadow of the King Ranch, Jay considers their 1,000 acres more of a farm than a ranch. With the rainfall in the past couple of weeks, the Coastal Bermuda is trying to grow. He also planted a fall oat crop earlier than usual in expectation of fall rains.

The season of drought in 2022 will impact the entire industry for a long time. Building back a herd involves a two-to four-year process. Because the demand for beef remains high, the packer cow market has held up. Procter is hopeful for the future. “Despite all hardships, suffering and financial loss, we will survive. We’ll come back because that’s what country people do. We’re a tough bunch.”

“A time to plant, and a time to reap”—Ecclesiastes 3:2

Refreshing rain is falling as I write this article. Keep praying for rain, so this season of drought will end.

ECL
"I know some older ranchers that have either sold nearly everything or have sold everything. With their age, many of them say even if this drought ends and we get back to normal, they are done."
“Despite all hardships, suffering and financial loss, we will survive. We’ll come back because that’s what country people do. We’re a tough bunch.”

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A FAMILY TRADITION AND STAYING THERE

Family means everything to the Bramletts. They've been showing that for 85 years in their business, Bramlett Implement in Stephenville.

Now in its fifth generation, the business started by D.R. Barbee in 1937 as Barbee Implement, is still going strong. Barbee was the grandfather of current owner, Donnie Bramlett.

"Family is so important to the business because it is the foundation of what we do," Donnie said. "There are so many different stories and memories that involve this building we call the dealership.

"Family isn't a task for us to keep the center of the business because it is what we love, and we just do it naturally. Our family has a deep love for farming and ranching and that is the center of our business."

NOW IN ITS FIFTH GENERATION, THE BUSINESS STARTED BY D.R. BARBEE IN 1937 AS BARBEE IMPLEMENT, IS STILL GOING STRONG. BARBEE WAS THE GRANDFATHER OF CURRENT OWNER, DONNIE BRAMLETT.
Hometown Living At Its Best 81

D.R. moved his horse and mule trading lot from Edna Hill to one block south of what was then the Dr Pepper bottling plant in Dublin. He became a John Deere dealer, beginning what would be a tradition that is now in its ninth decade. He would trade two or three teams of horses or mules for each tractor.

From the very beginning it was a family business, operated by D.R., his two sons and daughter. Several nephews and cousins also worked at the business.

In 1944 Don Bramlett, Donnie's father and D.R.'s son-in-law, purchased the John Deere parts department, while other family members continued running the other parts of the business. The business grew in the late 1940s to consist of John Deere equipment, Pontiac cars, home appliances, butane gas, real estate and even Hereford cattle.

In the 1950s different factions of the business were divided among family members. Worth Barbee purchased

the farm and cattle, while Durwood Barbee purchased the Pontiac cars, appliances, and butane gas.

Don Bramlett bought the John Deere Business, renaming it Bramlett Implement. He operated until 1964 in Dublin, when Donnie became a partner in the business.

The three stores in Dublin, Stephenville and Hico were consolidated into one location, along with relocating to the corner of Highway 281 and 377 in Stephenville. Father and son operated the store together until 1974, when Don retired to the farm and ranch, leaving the dayto-day operations to Donnie.

A few years later, in the early 1980s Bramlett Implement built a new business on Highway 377 South where it is located today.

Moving to a fourth generation, Todd Bramlett joined the business in 1992, carrying on the family tradition of father-and-son operation with his dad, Donnie.

82 Erath County Living
"Family is so important to the business because it is the foundation of what we do."
Hometown Living At Its Best 83

"Bramlett Implement has continued to be a many generations business because it is just what the family has known," Donnie said. "Growing up in the dealership you grow a love and appreciate the hard work that your family has put into it."

That feeling extends to the customers also, a reason they keep coming back after so many years, Donnie said. "One of the biggest parts to our business that stands out is our customers are truly like family," he said. "We have seen generations of our customers come into the dealership and the little ones grow into business owners themselves."

Not only have their customers been loyal through the years, the base has continued to grow. When Donnie first took over the dealership the customer base was peanut and dairy owners on a small scale. Now, they have large customers who are in need of larger equipment and maintain larger properties.

"Hay and dairy farmers have been a huge part of the business for a long time and some of our customers are third generation with us," Donnie said.

Donnie has also gone from running a dealership all on paper to having everything on computers now. But while the technology is different, that same family treatment is applied to each customer.

It was also in 1964 that Donnie married Pat, his wife of nearly six decades. Donnie took care of everything in the dealership and Pat stayed home and raised their children.

"Neither one of us were raised with a lot, so when we got married, we set goals and went after them," Pat said. "We have always strived to keep the family close."

They both only knew hard work and if you wanted something you had to work for it and make it happen. Another of the cornerstone beliefs that has kept Bramlett Implement success for so long.

When Donnie and Pat first started off, they lived in an apartment that costed $35 monthly and Donnie's salary was $50 weekly. They have three children, 11 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Today, Tashli Wilson, Donnie's eldest granddaughter can be seen working at the store bringing in the fifth generation.

84 Erath County Living
Growing up in the dealership you grow a love and appreciate the hard work that your family has put into it.

The family has also been big advocates for the environment, even long before it became a popular topic in society. They still maintain that advocacy today.

"Going green has always just been a family heritage for us. We were raised to love green," Donnie said.

Donnie recalled his first memories of being on a tractor around age 8.

"I remember having to jerk the clutch so that I could start driving the tractor," he said, adding that if he had to pick one tractor to farm with for the rest of his life, it would be a John Deere 7410, the first tractor with a power quad transmission.

Donnie remembered that first tractor he ever sold was a 1964 John Deere 3010.

As to why Donnie hasn't retired yet, he said, "I love the business and I'm in good health to keep going"

Donnie was the youngest owner in his first owners meeting with folks from the John Deere corporation many years ago. At the last meeting he attended earlier this year, he was the oldest owner.

And through it all, he said his favorite part remains working with customers, meeting new ones, and sharing experiences with all customers, old and new. Don't expect that to change, ever, Donnie said.

"The future will be the same as it is today, doing what we love and helping people that we share the same pride and joy with," he said. ECL

"Bramlett Implement has continued to be a many generations business because it is just what the family has known."
Hometown Living At Its Best 85
The family has also been big advocates for the environment.
86 Erath County Living
Call us for your Ag & Rural financing. LOANS | INSURANCE | LEASING | CASH MANAGEMENT Stephenville ( 254 ) 9 6 5 - 3151 • Exceptional Fresh Arrangements • Custom Permanent Botanicals • Unique Home Décor & Framed Artwork • Interior Design Services Open: Mon-Fri 8-5 / Sat 8:30-1 254.965.5979 • www.stephenvillescottsflowers.com 200 W. College • Stephenville, TX 76401 Erath County Living • WRITERS • PHOTOGRAPHERS • FEATURED CONTENT IDEAS IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR CONTRIBUTORS! Hometown Living At Its Best LETTING THINGS TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES For team roper Thorp, he set the destination to just be the best. The best team heeler in the world. STEVE TAYLOR: NEVER EVER QUIT Steve Taylor turned tragedy into triumph by never up. He turned his passion into world renowned saddle has provided successful life for him and SUMMER 2021 Hometown Living At Its Best THE LOVE OF THE GAME AND THE PLAYERS The Stephenville High School football coach grew up in Erath County playing for the Yellow Jackets and in 2019, returned to take the head coaching position after coaching at Abilene and Magnolia ISDs. SUMMER ACTIVITIES Need some ideas on ways to keep your kids occupied this summer? Here’s of events in the area that are guaranteed to keep them entertained and busy during the entire break. Bella Vita Ranch: A STUNNING WEDDING DESTINATION Bella Vita Ranch (which means “beautiful life” in Italian), is a beautiful 5,000 square foot Tuscan-style wedding and event venue 26-acres of rolling green countryside just minutes west of Stephenville. EMAIL HAYLEY.REDFIN@GMAIL.COM Hometown Living At Its Best 87

Stay Humble And Kind

Stay humble and kind…. lyrics from a popular country song that resonate with Martha Angelone. The 27-year-old professional rodeo breakaway roper practices those words daily in all that she does.

She ropes for a living, something she has wanted to do since she was eight years old. “I have always wanted to make a living roping. I wanted it to be my life and my job.”

The Virginia native attended junior colleges in Oklahoma and then Weatherford, TX College and now calls Erath County home because of the resources for roping, mainly being able to compete in jackpots on a regular basis.

“I wanted to stay in Stephenville for all the jackpots. It’s hard to find. Stephenville is pretty central. I can go to a jackpot every night. I like to jackpot during the week. It’s big thing. The more I jackpot, the sharper my roping is. A jackpot will be more like a situation you will be in at a rodeo.”

Photos provided by Martha Angelone
With a straightforward and goal-oriented mindset, Angelone focuses on improving herself inside the arena. She knows she is an intimidating factor inside the arena.
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Hometown Living At Its Best 89

Going For The Gold

With a straightforward and goal-oriented mindset, Angelone focuses on improving herself inside the arena. She knows she is an intimidating factor inside the arena. Yet, she is careful to not portray that and ropes quietly and efficiently.

Angelone’s goals are simple-to be the best roper possible. She wants to win a world title. “I want to be the best. I just like the feeling of winning. I like winning a little jackpot or big rodeo. I want to feel that every time.”

Ranked number one in PRCA standings, Angelone will be seeking her first world title and share of the $250,000 purse in her third qualification to the National Finals Breakaway Roping (NFBR). She was the reserve world champion at the inaugural NFBR finals in Arlington, TX in 2020, winning five rounds and the average.

Angelone is surprised at the combination of money won and her ranking in the standings. “The biggest surprise to me is going into the finals with over $100,000 won. No one thought in the world standings that we would have that much won. It’s crazy to think I have won that much money in one association in one year,” said Angelone.

The popularity of women’s breakaway roping has grown significantly and efforts to increase the prize money to match the other sanctioned events is starting to take hold. While always a sanctioned event within the

Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, it wasn’t until 2019, that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) added it to their list of sanctioned events available to female contestants including major rodeos such as Cheyenne Frontier Days, Denver Stock-show and Rodeo and the Pendleton Roundup. While breakaway roping is not on the docket for the performances inside the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas, the Southpoint Casino will host the two-day event.

“It has been weird to accomplish these goals. I won the Women’s Rodeo World Championship (WRWC) finals. “I didn’t ever think I would have that amount of money in my bank account. Pro rodeo gave me the chance to make it a career. The first year we had pro-rodeo, I didn’t know it was going to be this big. Rodeo has literally changed my life.”

“I used to work as a bartender. I always had to work other jobs to be able to rope. I can now rope and make

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“Rodeo has literally

enough money to support my habit,” she laughed. “Before the pro rodeos, I would have to work 4 to 5 nights a week to have all my bills paid. It’s crazy that now that I don’t have to work those jobs to support myself.”

“I consider roping my job. It’s how I make money to support myself. Before it didn’t make enough that it could just be my career. I don’t do anything else anymore. My whole life is around rodeo.

It Takes A Village

Most professional athletes will tell you their accomplishments aren’t done single handedly. For rodeo athletes, the support system includes human and horsepower. A contestant’s horsepower can be a game changer.

Two of Angelone’s horses, Legend and Jessie, have showcased their talent under the saddle and in turn, have allowed Angelone to show her abilities in the saddle and changed her season. The partnerships have propelled her over and over to the pay window. She won the WPRA finals on Jessie. “I feel like I am mounted,” said Angelone.

She understands the value of being well mounted and is willing to share her four-legged partners with other contestants in times of need, acknowledging how she would appreciate the same gesture given to her in times of need.

“I feel like I would want someone to help me out. I wouldn’t want to be told no. If someone needs me, I am going to help them. I have always been the one to loan.”

Angellone notes she has always admired breakaway roping standouts, Lari Dee Guy and Stephenville resident, Jackie Crawford. “I always wanted to be at the level they are at.”

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“I want to be the best. I just like the feeling of winning. I like winning a little jackpot or big rodeo. I want to feel that every time.”

Fellow breakaway roper, competitor and close friend, Maci Berry, points out Angelone’s attributes, in and out of the arena.

“Martha holds several great qualities as a person including caring, strong, hardworking, helpful, humble and the best definition of friend you can find. She also holds the truest quality of resilience. I've been blessed to hold a close friendship with her for almost five years now. Throughout that time, I have witnessed so much be thrown at her and watched her conquer it with strength and confidence. She deserves and has worked for everything she has accomplished. I am so happy to see her hard work and dedication being recognized.”

Her human support team and perhaps the most influential person in her life has been her 23-year-old sister, Sarah, a Tarleton State University breakaway roper and has been the Southwestern Region champion twice.

“My sister has been there from the beginning. I feel she has been the one to help me the most.” Angelone laughingly admits they have a typical sibling, love/hate relationship when they are in the arena together. She credits her father, who passed away six years ago, for their start in roping which led to competing in all high school rodeo events. And she describes her mom as the “sideline cheering section.”

“Mom wasn’t the roper. She’s always cheering section. It’s still great to have her on your team.” Her former bartending customers remain part of her support system. “I miss them. They are like family. They make sure I am

still alright. They are my family too now.” Many of those customers have traveled to the finals to support her and will do the same this year.

Angelone’s career doesn’t come without challenges. She travels five out of seven days, traveling alone. She admits it’s her choice to allow her to focus on herself and her horses. “I travel alone. Trying to overcome being by yourself and making the choice to be by yourself is a challenge.”

Angelone’s forecast doesn’t see her slowing down. “I am going to rope as long as I possibly can. I don’t really have a timeline. With the breakaway and team roping, it doesn’t take a toll on your body like other sports.” ECL

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“I don’t do anything else anymore. My whole life is around rodeo.”
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