Explore Katy Magazine

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W W W. E X P L O R E K AT Y. C O M


natural .

Enjoying the great outdoors and creating those special moments comes Naturally in Cross Creek Ranch where residents find a bounty of “life is great” opportunities.

• Lamar CISD and Katy ISD schools • Two on-site Katy ISD elementaries with new on-site junior high & high school opening soon • Multiple water parks and playgrounds • Flewellen Creek Nature Preserve • More than 34 miles of trails • On-site fitness center • Tennis, basketball and sand volleyball courts • On-site Italian Maid Café • Nearby shopping and dining, including H-E-B *Pricing and availability subject to change without notice.

CrossCreekTexas.com New Homes from the $200s to $1 Million+


breath-taking beauty


country lifestyle


Secluded in one of the scenic bends of the Brazos River, Laprada Landing offers an escape from the rigors of the city. Located 40 miles west of downtown Houston, Laprada Landing feels worlds away with dense stands of mature trees and sweeping vistas overlooking the Brazos. The unspoiled, natural beauty of the tracts offers a pristine piece of the rural Texas countryside without having to sacrifice the amenities of city living. Laprada Landing, located just south of Fulshear, is easily accessible from Westpark Tollway and FM 1093. Laprada Landing offers tracts ranging from Âą60 - 105 acres, each with its own unhindered view of the Brazos River. With varying tree coverage, each tract has its own features that set it apart from the others with no two being exactly alike. There is ample opportunity to build and create your own sense of place.


HWY 99

Interstate 10

Westpark Tollway

FM 1093

FM 723

Stratman Rd

Laprada Trace

(Formerly Montgomery Rd)

r ive

sR zo


359 HWY

Bois D’Arc Ln

Winner Foster Rd

Secluded in one of the scenic bends of the Brazos River, Laprada Landing offers an escape from the rigors of the city. Located 40 miles west of downtown Houston, Laprada Landing feels worlds away with dense stands of mature trees and sweeping vistas overlooking the Brazos.

Beadle Ln

The unspoiled, natural beauty of the tracts offers a pristine F othe r mrural o r e Texas infor m at i o n cwithout o n t a chaving t piece of countryside to sacrifice the amenities of city living. Laprada Landing, ROLLER located just southMIKE of Fulshear, is easily accessible from 346-0222 Westpark Tollway and(281) FM 1093. M I K E @ M OV E W E S T. N E T

Welcome Readers,


Thank you for taking the time to read through our first issue of Explore Katy magazine. We’re honored to bring you a different kind of community lifestyle magazine.



The team that puts Explore Katy magazine together includes some of the most talented, civic-minded, community-spirited people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. In short, our team of writers, photographers, and editors work together to bring you original, relevant and interesting articles that respect your time and intellect. This magazine is intentionally different from others that compete for your attention. By its physical design - high quality cover stock, superior page weight, and extended dimensions - this magazine strives to mirror the quality and uniqueness of the Katy area. Crafted to look beautiful on your coffee table or desk, Explore Katy magazine invites you to open its pages and enjoy a good read. You’ll also find us through our online presence and search portal, ExploreKaty. com, which features an excellent categorized directory showcasing thousands of business and service offerings found within the overall Katy area. Our parent company, Explore.us, has included Explore Katy magazine along with other magazines that we have published for communities, such as Brenham, Navisota, Fulshear, Rosenberg, and Richmond, and they now appear in a statewide online directory called ExploreTexas.com. Through this categorized and localized business search engine, we can uniquely introduce readers and visitors to over 2.6 million business listings serving over 500 communities in Texas. Now, that’s quite an impact! As you read through these pages, it is my sincere hope that you’ll enjoy the insightful articles that come from the hands, hearts, and minds of our talented magazine staff. Our writers, photographers, editors and contributors all have a story to tell. You can be assured that their work is a labor of love and respect for the community. Please join with me in celebrating the journalistic gift we now offer to you through Explore Katy magazine.

Daniel McJunkin



Photo Credit: iStock.com/gabetcarlson



JENNI M c JUNKIN Media Director



Chamber Consultant









Walter Cunningham, Earned his Place in American History Books


Cinco Ranch

ORIGINS OF A TOP SELLING Master-Planned Texas Community





River Cruising


4017 Penn Lane, Fulshear, TX 77441

EXPLOREKATY.COM © Copyright 2019 - Explopre America, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Cover Photo Credit: iStock.com/aniszewski




Contents TABLE OF


From the Ashes




New Name...



The Next


Top-Selling Communities





in the New Generation of Girl Scouts


Andy Meyers








Laprada Landing


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The Right

Stuff Apollo 7 Astronaut, Walter Cunningham, Earned His Place in American History Books




October 11, 1968, families all across America were glued to their television sets. The big names in politics, music, and film were gathered together at the Cape in Florida, on crowded bleachers, with their eyes to the skies. There, on launch pad 34, sat Walter Cunningham, Walter Schirra Jr., and Don Eisele, strapped in to a one million, three-hundred-thousand pound rocket. Following the devastating accident of Apollo 1 that took place only months prior, these men aboard Apollo 7 were carrying the nation’s hopes and dreams of one day reaching the moon. Born in Creston, Iowa during the height of the great depression, Walter Cunningham did not have it easy. Times were hard, and his family worked tirelessly just to get by. How did he pull through and find his way into such an elite and selective group of our country’s history? It was no coincidence. There was no luck. Walter grew up with the firm belief that, with hard work and dedication, he could achieve the high goals he had set for himself. With this mentality, he was able to join what the writer Tom Wolfe once described as “The Brotherhood of the Right Stuff.” To be chosen by NASA, during this early generation of the space program, was next to impossible. These selected individuals were hand chosen out of the best of the best. These men had to have the “right stuff.” Walter was no exception. He earned his place in history because he had drive, he had brains, he had passion, and most of all, he had confidence he could handle whatever he faced.

The depression took a toll on his family. Walter’s father traveled to California in search of a better life. In 1939, seven-year-old Walter, his brother, and mother made the move to Venice, California to reunite as a family. As young as ten years old, Walter was known to pick up odd jobs to help the family. His first job was assisting his father to clean under houses and build foundations. Walter also worked with his brother and cousin making cement blocks for construction. For almost four years, Walter had a paper route, delivering the Santa Monica Evening Outlook. “I didn’t have a bicycle, but our area’s distributor for the newspaper had a spare and sold it to me for $5,” smiles Walter. “I was able to pay it off in a couple of months’ time. It may sound like I am talking about how poor we were during that time, but it really was great. It was all I knew. I simply enjoyed looking for opportunities to get ahead.” When asked who instilled this positive outlook and drive, Walter replies, “I think it just reflects the time.” There were no strongly driven life lessons, or a particular “aha” moment. Walter simply had an innate desire to better himself – a strong drive to succeed. “I don’t remember ever regretting or resenting any of what I had to do to move up in life.” To this day, Walter stresses the importance of this kind of attitude. Little did that young boy know that, on October 22, 1968, his picture would be on the front page of the very newspaper he delivered years before.




From small town Iowa to flying amongst the stars, Walter was not one to sit around and wait for his destiny. He had a drive that was so profound it actually propelled him toward his dreams.

From a young age, Walter knew that determination could only get you so far. A strong education is a fundamental key to success. Luckily for him, school often came easy. Due to being placed on the advanced track at an early age, Walter graduated high school as the top boy in his class.




Left: Walter Cunningham inside the Command/Service Module in 1968. Above: The Florida launch of Apollo 7 on October 11, 1968.



Walter enlisted in the Navy out of school; he did not want to be drafted by the army. Two years of college were required in order to get in to Navy flight school. To his surprise, Walter managed to pass a two-year college equivalency test, allowing him an early acceptance into flight training in Pensacola. Six months before earning his wings, Walter learned that the only way to be guaranteed fighter planes was to join the Marine Corps. He did not give it a second thought; he made the transition. Walter graduated from flight training as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. While overseas in Korea, Walter witnessed many circumstances where a college education helped individuals move quicker through the ranks. “I came to realize that I better go to college,” remembers Walter. “A year after returning home, I transferred to a reserve squadron and went to the University of California at Los Angeles at the age of 24. At one point, Walter was juggling five jobs along with his studies. His education was number one, but he knew he still had to earn a living. Walter was selected as an Astronaut by NASA while in the final year of his doctorate work in physics at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. Opportunity was at the door, and it was knocking loud and hard. Walter trained as the backup crew for Apollo 1, prepared for and flew his Apollo 7 mission, and later took the position of Chief of the Skylab Astronauts. After his retirement from NASA in 1971, Walter did not take a break; he set his sights on the next goal. Walter attended Harvard Graduate School of Business through their Advanced Management Program. Walter is quick to note that without his extensive education and desire to learn, he would not have been given a second look by NASA. The ability to think quickly, reason, and make educated decisions is exactly what it means to have the “right stuff.”

Confidence and



Walter took an early interest in planes. With WWII in full swing during his childhood, airplanes were flying in and out of Southern California factories on a regular basis. Walter, at nine years of age, developed the impressive ability to identify the specific plane flying overhead by the sound alone. This early interest had young Walter sneaking into Douglas Airport to watch the planes take off and land. “When I was about 12 or 13, Douglas Airport had a weekend where for a penny a pound they would fly you in a circle around the airport.” Walter lights up as he recalls the childhood memory. “Weighing roughly 130 pounds, I lied and said I was 115 because that is all the money I had!” Walter experienced a rush during those fast flying minutes in the air. Surprisingly, this was his only time in a plane prior to flight training!

Hurricaine Gladys off the Gulf of Mexico as seen from space on the Apollo 7 mission - photo taken by Walter Cunningham.

Walter entered flight training at the early age of 19. Most of his colleagues had college degrees, and Walter wondered if he would be able to fit in considering his age and lack of experience. Not only did Walter fit in, but he excelled. He was a natural who stood out from the pack, finishing top of his class. Flying became his passion. “While I’ve flown other planes that may be considered “better,” the T-38 was like a toy to me,” reminisces Walter. “I just strapped it on my shoulders and went.” Like walking or breathing, flying was second nature. “From the beginning, I lived, grew, belonged in an airplane. Mechanical skills are only a small part of what makes an aviator. It’s what’s in the head and heart that makes a great pilot. I viewed flying as a joyous liberating experience. I came to know that the magic for me was in the control or mastery one has over one’s destiny when flying an airplane.” “We lost a lot of good people in plane accidents.” Walter continues by saying, “There were 30 in our first three groups selected by NASA, and by the time I flew my mission, there were only 25 left.” Walter stresses the importance of confidence. “I’ve always considered myself a fine aviator, and one of the best. Most good fighter pilots consider themselves one of the best; in fact, they kind of need to. I had the self confidence that it takes to do these sorts of jobs.” Having a love and passion for flying was not enough -- these men had to have confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Sharing the Ticket to

Success Walter Cunningham overcame hurdles, both big and small, to earn himself a coveted space in American history books. Through determination, his studies, a passion for flying, and confidence in himself, Walter earned his place in the “Brotherhood of the Right Stuff.”


“How quickly we take for granted what so long ago seemed impossible�


- Walter Cunningham -

Photo by: rhonda renee Photography


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APOLLO 7 Quick Facts: OCTOBER 11, 1968 - OCTOBER 22, 1968 ALTITUDE: 141.65 miles INCLINATION: 31.608 degree ORBITS: 163 revolutions DURATION: 10 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes, 3 seconds DISTANCE: 4,546,918.3 miles Apollo 7 accomplished what it set out to do – qualifying the command and service module and clearing the way for the proposed lunar-orbit mission to follow. Apollo 7 remains the LONGEST, most AMBITIOUS and most SUCCESSFUL first test flight of any new flying machine! Walter and his crew earned an Emmy for the first live TV downlink from space - INFORMATION FROM NASA.GOV -

Apollo 7


Mission Photos

S-IVB over Kennedy Space Center.

The Apollo 7 crew: Walter Schirra Jr., Don Eisele, and Walter Cunningham.

the vehicle was the airplane,” notes Walter. That ambition is what landed him in that rocket, on pad 34, on display for all to see, carrying the dreams of America.


Today, Walter is a successful business man who enjoys his morning newspaper and cup of coffee at the local McDonald’s. His time with NASA are now happy memories that can be seen sprawled out across his office in the forms of awards, plaques, medals, and photos. He and his wife proudly look out through their big picture windows over the city of Houston, the city they love – the city where Walter’s dreams came true.

Photo by: rhonda renee Photography

Mr. Cunningham in his home, reflecting on the incredible experiences of his time with NASA.

An astronaut is a symbol of man’s desire to explore the unknown. It is a job that few want, few qualify for, and few earn. Dr. Robert Voas, a psychologist and the training director for the Mercury astronauts, described the unique blend of characteristics these men possessed as: “intelligence without genius, knowledge without inflexibility, a high degree of skill without over-training, fear but not cowardice, bravery without foolhardiness, self-confidence without egotism, physical fitness without being muscle-bound, a preference for participatory over spectator sports, frankness without blabber mouthing, enjoyment of life without excel, humor without disproportion and fast reflexes without panic in a crisis.” Everyone has these traits; however, very few have them in that particular balance. Walter grew up at a time when there were no handouts. He worked for every dollar he earned and every step he took up the ladder. “My ticket to upward mobility was ambition;

When Walter speaks to students, he shares stories and answers questions about his time in space, but he also hopes to pass on a very important message. “Stop depending on other people for your success – you need to make it yourself. You have got to be willing to stick your neck out. Even the little challenges, when you take them on and tackle them yourself and succeed, that increases your confidence and your outlook the next go around. And most importantly, quit depending on the rest of the world to take care of you; make sure you can take care of yourself.” Walter was there at the beginning. He and his colleagues had an integral part in landing America on the moon. This did not come without sacrifice, sacrifice on them and their families. However, these men chose each and every day to risk their lives for science. Their hunger to explore the unknown and push science to its limits far outweighed these sacrifices. Walter proved he has the “right stuff” and joined the brotherhood of American explorers. It is now up to the younger generations to prove that the “right stuff” isn’t going out of style. d

Photo by: rhonda renee Photography

Just a few important books on Mr. Cunningham’s shelf, including his book “The All-American Boys.”


Writer’s note As a longtime lover of the space program and a kid who attended space camp, a childhood dream became reality the day I sat down and interviewed Mr. Walter Cunningham for the Fulshear Magazine. While I was not alive to see the Apollo missions first hand, the appreciation and understanding is still very much there. I bought and read Walter’s book, The All-American Boys, in preparation for our interview. In it, he discusses the application process for NASA, the journey to the first 30 selected, the significance and lessons learned from Apollo 1, astropolitics, and of course, what it was like to fly into space. The book was inspiring, and an interesting look into the inner workings of the space program. The problem was, how do I narrow it down to a small article? Truth is, I couldn’t! This only scratches the surface. I could have written about Apollo 7 and Walter’s role during the mission, but I chose to instead highlight the road that led him to that big day in 1968. However, I highly recommend you grab his book to continue the story. What an honor it was. Thank you Mr. Cunningham for making a girl’s dream come true!


F O R MORE INF O CA LL CHRISTIE AMEZQUITA, CCIM • 713.979.0436 christie@ read-king.com



CINCO RANCH REDNews Interviews Bill Wheless III Special Thanks to REDNews & Ginger Wheless


Reprinted by permission from REDNews June 2014



by Newland Communities, is the number one top-selling community in Texas, and the number three top-selling community in the entire United States.


Ted Nelson from Newland Communities gave a talk in April 2014 addressing the dramatic growth Southeast Texas is undergoing because of Eagle Ford and other energy developments and how that growth is affecting the real estate market. Mr. Nelson said that “between the medical and energy sectors, Houston now has the greatest accumulation of intellectual capital the world has ever seen.” “Cinco Ranch, Telfair, The Woodlands and a number of ‘new’ communities skirting the edges of Houston and along the Grand Parkway are becoming selfcontained cities unto themselves and a major source for the housing and retail needs of the booming influx of workers,” he stated.

Cinco Ranch is a mature community, having been developed in its current capacity for close to thirty years.

But where did it all begin? It started with the father of the father of Texas, Moses Austin. The Spanish government gave the blessing for Moses Austin to settle hundreds of families into the area. His son Stephen F. Austin, the father of Texas, finished this settlement while Texas was still under Mexican government. One of those settlers was Randolph Foster who was deeded 4,000 acres in Fort Bend and Waller counties, which at the time were occupied predominantly by Indians and buffalo. Foster’s daughter married Thomas Blakely, cattleman and future sheriff of Fort Bend County. His son, Bassett Blakely, followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and became a cowboy and cattleman. Bassett Blakely owned 15,000 acres of land, 14,000 head of Brahman cattle, and his grandfather’s land. The cowhands of his Blakeley Ranch annually drove 10,000 head of cattle to the railheads in Kansas. Our interview with Mr. Bill Wheless elicited more history of Cinco Ranch post World War II up to its sale to Newland Homes. Have you ever studied the history of Cinco Ranch, in books or online? Mr. Wheless: Yes.

Bill Wheless III

grew up at Cinco Ranch. His family and the Abercrombie family bought it in the ‘40s. It was originally purchased by the Blakely family, who had it parceled to them by Stephen F. Austin, himself, in a land deal done before Texas joined the Union. Cinco Ranch, now managed

Mr. Wheless: Yes, I’ve seen some of that. My grandfather, William M. Wheless Senior, was head of the Land Department for the Gulf Oil Company. He did a lot of transactions representing Gulf with Mr. James Abercrombie who was an extremely successful independent oil man.


William (Bill) M. Wheless III

There is information on you, your family, and the Blakelys owning the property in 1937.

Mr. Abercrombie was on a trip, a grand tour of Europe. My grandfather was here. The head of Texas Commerce, now JP Morgan Chase Bank, came to my grandfather and said, “We foreclosed on a large ranch and we want you to buy it. We want to get it off our books.”



My grandfather was reluctant to do that because it was such a huge deal, 10,000 acres. “I don’t want to do that because it’s too big a deal,” he said “I have to consult with my partner before taking on such a huge obligation.”

William M. Wheless Senior

Mr. Abercrombie asked my grandfather to quit his job, which at the time was a very good job, to be his partner. Mr. Abercrombie proposed putting up the financing, and he wanted my grandfather to acquire property for their venture.

With much trepidation, my grandfather signed the papers without communicating with Mr. Abercrombie, there being no faxes or emails at that time. He then owned 10,000 acres between Westheimer and Katy and Highway 6, formerly the Blakely Ranch.

My grandfather took that step and became partners with Mr. Abercrombie. That was in the 1940s, right around World War II.

The more he thought about it, the more uncomfortable he was with what he had done, so he found partners to bring in on the deal before Mr. Abercrombie returned



At that time Jesse Jones was the head of the bank. He was also the head of the Reconstruction Finance Committee in Washington for FDR. Mr. Jones told my grandfather, “No, I talked to Jim before he left. He said you can buy anything you want. Here are the papers, and I want you to sign them right now!”

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When Mr. Abercrombie got back from his trip, my grandfather met him at the dock in Galveston and said, “I don’t want you to be mad, but I want to tell you what happened . . . Jesse Jones made me buy this ranch . . . But, don’t worry . . . We got three more partners and now there are five of us.” Mr. Abercrombie looked at the deal for a second and said, “I am furious. This is the best deal I’ve ever seen in my life. They purchased it for ten dollars an acre. You go buy those other partners out immediately and give them double their money.”

Mr. Abercrombie and my grandfather owned the ranch 50/50 for over forty years. My father operated it, and they grew rice and raised cattle. When I finished graduate school, my grandfather was in failing health. He decided to sell half the ranch to Robert Mosbacher. I have fond memories of working with him on that sale.

So now Mosbacher and Abercrombie were partners? Mr. Wheless: Yes. Mr. Abercrombie’s daughter Josephine owned one half and Robert Mosbacher and a group of his friends owned the other half. That was in the ‘70s. Then in 1984 Abercrombie and Mosbacher decided to sell. The first part of the ranch that sold was to Vincent Kickerillo. That was eight or nine hundred acres, now called Kelliwood. That was closer to I-10. Mr. Wheless: Yes, closer to I-10 off Fry Road. In 1984 the purchasing group consisted of US Homes, the largest home builder in America, American General, one of the largest insurance companies in the nation, and the Mischer Corporation, one of the largest land developers in Houston. Each one played a role. One was the developer, one was the financier, and one was going to build the houses.

That sale was $84M. When you add in the Kickerillo transaction, it was a raw land sale in excess of $100,000,000.


from his vacation in Europe. One was his good friend, the president of Gulf Oil Company, Mr. W. B. Pyron. The others were Mr. H. G. Nelms, a successful oil man and Mr. Lenoir Josey, another good friend of my grandfather. Now there were five partners, hence the name Cinco Ranch.



CINCO RANCH TEXAS MAP In total? Mr. Wheless: Total. Which was and still is, to the best of my knowledge, the largest raw land sale in the history of Houston. Once they had it, Mischer, US Homes, and American General, developed it through several business cycles, and American General wound up with it. Their subsidiary was called Newland, who had an affiliation with a company called Newland Homes, and Newland’s is to this day the developer of Cinco. They added several more tracts to the west toward Fulshear as they ran out of land in Cinco. It was two years ago, I think, that Cinco was rated the top-selling Master-Planned Community in the United States. I believe it even surpassed the Woodlands. That is quite remarkable. What do you think made it so successful? Mr. Wheless: Staying power, the ability to go through two really bad cycles because there were some bleak times. It wasn’t all straight up. They had such a huge land cost, and in addition they had a huge infrastructure cost. They had to channel Buffalo Bayou through Cinco. The headwaters of Buffalo Bayou start just on the northwest corner of Cinco near Katy. As you know, the Bayou goes through the middle of Houston and all the way to the Ship Channel.


When did they start developing? Mr. Wheless: Kickerillo started in the early ‘80s. Cinco started in the late ‘80s. If you remember, Houston’s economy was horrible in the late ‘80s. What was the price of an acre back when you sold it? Mr. Wheless: Divide 5,200 acres into 84 million. It was an all-cash transaction.

Mr. Wheless: Now we have Bridgeland and the Woodlands. Both are really big deals. Camp Strake will be a very big deal. Yes, it will be a big deal. Mr. Wheless: When you develop large tracts, it takes a long time to absorb all the land. What was the best time and the worst time? Mr. Wheless: The best time for me personally was growing up as a kid out there and having access to all that property, hunting and fishing. My brothers and sisters and I have great memories. It was a Tom Sawyer type of existence. We hated to part with it, but my grandfather was in ill health, and he wanted to get his estate in order before he passed away. Anyway, it was hard emotionally to part with the ranch. I was privileged to be in a position to help him sell our property as well as to be involved with the subsequent sale in 1984. I remember reading, years ago, that your grandfather was considered to be one of the largest land owners in Texas. Mr. Wheless: He and Mr. Abercrombie were the second largest land owners in Harris County when he died. They also owned the Atascocita Country Club, as well as most of the land on the western shores of Lake Houston. He certainly was a role model for me. REDNews would like to thank Mr. Wheless for his travel back in time through one of the nation’s great burgeoning communities. The history of land and the big power brokers of Texas are fundamentally the history of Texans, from Stephen F. Austin to William M Wheless - big people, big deals. As George W. Bush said, “Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called ‘walking.’” d






Photo Credit: iStock.com/JWJarrett


Just say the word and for a lot of people, shivers go up and down their spine. And… I’m one of them. I just have never been a fan of snakes since I was a kid and found one in my sleeping bag. Snakes have been objects of fascination, or fear and suspicion since ancient times. Sadly, for some people, their first reaction to a snake is to pick up the nearest shovel or hoe and quickly dispatch the intruder. Snakes, however, play a key role in the balance of nature.

Granted, some Texans may be reluctant to brag about this one, but the Lone Star State is, undeniably, a cornucopia of snake diversity. Although the exact number of species is hard to determine, we boast a stunning 76 species of snakes. If you include both species and subspecies in that number, it gives you a grand total of 115, or more - the highest number in all of the United States.

The vast majority of Texas’ snakes are nonvenomous and completely harmless. Only 15% of the total number are venomous and should be treated with caution and respect. The venomous varieties can be grouped into four basic categories: coral snakes, copperheads, cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins), and rattlesnakes.

Here are some facts to understand and help you as you live in our natural settings within Cross Creek Ranch. • Snakes are found throughout Texas. Of the 254 counties in Texas not one of them is snake free. • Snakes are active from March through the beginning of November. • You may see them now if you live in a newer area where you have not seen them before as construction of homes, pools, roads, etc. creates a tremendous amount of ground vibration. Snakes do not have inner or outer ears; they rely on taste and sight and are amazingly sensitive to vibrations. Therefore, they move away from their normal hiding places that are now shaky to the still surroundings of our yards and playgrounds. Severe droughts and rains also displace snakes into our yards. • To be safe, look around! Never step or put your hand where you cannot see. • Keep grass and vegetation cut short. Trim shrubs and bushes so you can see the ground under them. Remove debris piles immediately (branches, leaves boards, logs). Cut low limbs (Keep three feet above the ground). After cutting down a tree, remove the stump— do not leave it to rot and provide hiding and nesting places for the Texas Coral Snake. Should you have a wood burning fireplace, do not store fireplace logs on your back porch or backyard.


As a Texas Master Naturalist, I have often been asked: What kind of snake is it? Is this snake poisonous? What good are snakes anyway? And, by the way, snakes are not poisonous, but some are venomous. While I personally am not a snake lover, I do recognize that many snakes that God put here perform certain functions to help the environment. Some are predators and feed on a variety of creatures. Small snakes feed on many harmful bugs and insects. Larger ones eat mice, rats and other small mammals that can destroy the ecosystem or damage personal property. Snakes tend to control rodent population in particular, so without them, we might be completely overrun by nuisance rodents.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Weber

The Coral Snake ... Red, Yellow & Black Photo Credit: iStock.com/PhilBilly



The Copperhead ... typically rust with brown ... see the Hershey Kiss shape on the sides?

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Wide-River-Rick

Photo Credit: iStock.com/stephen bowling

THE Diamondback...note the diamond pattern down the entire body

Now to address the key issue of this story. There are four venomous, or poisonous, snakes that call Texas home. You will want to be able to identify them. Let’s start with the easiest one. The Coral Snake. Red next to yellow, nasty fellow or is it red next to black, nice Jack. Easy to get mixed up. So, our advice is if you see any snake with bands of red, yellow and black, do not try anything with it. Just let it go away. It is a smaller snake, typically very slender. This is the most dangerous of all the venomous snakes in Texas as it secretes a neurotoxin when it bites…and it bites. It does not strike like the rattlesnake. It has numerous little small teeth that all are razor sharp and they puncture the skin and secrete their venom. There is no anti-toxin for the Coral Snake today. The snake’s neurotoxic venom causes rapid paralysis and respiratory failure in its prey; however, according to the National Institutes of Health, it can take many hours for symptoms to appear in humans. Additionally, there is often little or no pain or swelling in humans from a coral snake bite. So, get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Period. The other three snakes are pit vipers. The Diamondback Rattlesnake is responsible for inflicting two-thirds of the venomous bites in the State of Texas. There are nine different varieties of rattlesnakes. The western diamondback is the most common and widespread followed by the Timber or Canebreak rattler. Copperheads are found in this part of Texas. Copperheads have chestnut or reddish-brown crossbands on a lighter colored body. These snakes are found in rocky areas and wooded bottomlands, although can be found along streambeds. There are three subspecies, but all have the similar shape and size. The last venomous snake is the Cottonmouth , or Water Moccasin . This snake does have a bright white mouth which is clearly evident when it opens its mouth wide for its prey to see. Cottonmouths can be dark brown, olive-brown, olive green or almost solid black. They are marked with wide, dark bands, which are more distinct in some individuals than in others. Juvenile snakes are more brilliantly marked. Although not 100% reliable, we have used the triangular head identification with 99.9% accuracy for many years. If the head of the snake is rounded, it typically is not venomous. However, if the head is triangular with the mouth of the snake sharper, rather than round, it might be venomous…and make extra effort to leave these guys alone.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/tornado98


The Cottonmouth

the CanebrakE Rattlesnake

Copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes are called “pit vipers” because they have a special “pit” organ between their eyes and nostrils that uses heat sensors to hunt prey. The best method to identify venomous snakes is by looking at their eyes…not lovingly, just to see the eyeball. And, you don’t have to get real close to do so. All venomous snakes in Texas have vertical slits in the eye (actually called vertically elliptical pupils). So a triangular head and up-down slits in the eyes….a definite no-no!

Snakes do not prey on humans and they will not chase you, in fact they usually retreat or escape if given the opportunity. The danger comes when they are either surprised or cornered. Following are photographs of the four snakes that could endanger you, your family or your pets. However, we recommend getting a field guide, so you can be more educated and safe. There are several good ones available today. The University of Texas Press has a very good publication for less than $15, Texas Snakes: A Field Guide .

A few final thoughts and recommendations

if you get bitten


what to do

Assume envenomation has occurred, especially if initial symptoms are present. Initial symptoms of pit viper bites include fang puncture marks; in addition, they almost always include immediate burning pain at the bite site, immediate and usually progressive local swelling within five minutes, as well as local discoloration of the skin. Initial symptoms of coral snake bites include tremors, slurred speech, blurred or double vision, drowsiness or euphoria and a marked increase in salivation within four hours; however, life-threatening effects from coral snake envenomation may not be evident for 24 hours or longer.


Try to identify the species of venomous snake that inflicted the bite, if possible, taking care to avoid another person being bitten. Identification is not necessary, but may be helpful.

3 4

Keep the victim as calm as possible. This helps reduce the spread of venom and the onset of shock.

5 6 7 8

Keep yourself and any other members of the group calm as well. This will help reassure the victim and ensure that the appropriate first-aid measures are followed, as well as preventing anyone else from becoming injured. Wash the bite area with a disinfectant if available. Remove jewelry such as rings and watches, as well as tight-fitting clothes, before any onset of swelling. Reduce or prevent movement of a bitten extremity, using a splint if possible; this helps decrease the spread of venom. For the same reason, position the extremity below the level of the heart. Get the victim to a medical facility as soon as possible. Recently the supplies of anti-venom for pit viper bites has expired and is not being replaced. So, quick response time to the nearest medical facility is critical.


what not to do

Old School‌.Do NOT make incisions over the bite marks. This can result in significant damage to already traumatized tissue, and can damage intact structures such as nerves and blood vessels, enhance bleeding caused by anticoagulant components of venom and increase the rapid spread of venom throughout the body if the circulatory system is compromised.

2 3

Do not use a tourniquet or other constricting ban except in extreme cases of envenomation, and then only if properly trained in the technique.


Do not use electroshock therapy, a method popularized following publication of a letter from a missionary in South America reporting its effectiveness in treating bites from snakes of uncertain identity.

5 6

Do not drink alcohol, as it dilates blood vessels and increases absorption from the circulatory system, and thus helps spread venom faster.


Do not use the pressure/immobilization technique, which consists of firmly wrapping the entire limb with an elastic bandage and then splinting, especially for pit viper bites.

Do not use cryotherapy (including cold compresses, ice, dry ice, chemical ice packs, spray refrigerants, and freezing) for the same reasons that the tourniquets should be avoided, and also because it can increase the area necrosis.

Do not use aspirin or related medications to relieve pain, because they increase bleeding. A pain reliever not containing aspirin, however, may be used.

One final thought‌rumor is that rat poison will keep snakes away. Please, do not use rat poison to try to prevent snakes in your yard. It could endanger your own pets and certainly can do harm to other wildlife that might be a positive impact in the environment. d






ne of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry is river cruising, which is of no surprise to those who have had the pleasure of taking one of these wonderful journeys. As with any kind of travel, many of us hear “buzz” from various and sundry sources including friends, acquaintances, commercials, the internet, etc. When some people hear the word “cruise” they automatically have preconceived notions based on ocean going cruises. The main areas of commonality are that the major means of travel is water conveyance and that the vessel acts as a sort of floating hotel and restaurant. After that, the similarities diverge and that is where we will take the path leading us to the river cruise. The focus will be on European cruising, although river cruise itineraries can be found on almost every continent.

A number of factors come together to attribute to the river cruise’s burgeoning popularity. At the time that Europe was being settled, rivers were the highways of the day. Exploration and settlement made river access a must for many reasons, both economic for trade and needed water for agriculture and survival. Thus, river itineraries follow these ancient paths and lead through the European continent to the very midst of the cities along their banks. Those who have traveled through Europe or elsewhere on land based tours know the meaning of “hit the ground running.” Once you arrive after your flight, there is a fairly strict timetable to adhere to—unpacking, repacking, having your luggage beside your hotel door at 6am and

boarding a coach at 7am to drive to the next town. Self-driving tours can be more leisurely if you are comfortable driving in a foreign country and navigating highways and roads you have not driven before. The river cruise usually begins after a brief transfer to the ship and you unpack once and begin your adventure.


There are many river cruise companies, and with their growth in popularity, new companies and ship expansion within existing companies is the order of the day. Additionally, there are an exciting array of river itineraries including the European Christmas markets in November and December. There are also holiday river cruises that feature once in a lifetime events such as New Year’s Eve in a Viennese palace. Your travel consultant can help you decide based on your personal tastes and budget. Of those that have taken a river cruise, 85% plan to take another one in the near future. Recently we embarked on a river cruise in Italy, focusing on the region around Venice and the Po River. The ship was our floating hotel. It provided breathtaking views of a moonlit Venice at night and panoramic views of the ancient, colorful architecture during the day. Most river cruises include some type of daily excursion itinerary. A private night time opening of St. Mark’s basilica was part of our trip and was hosted by an art historian. As our small group sat down in the semi-darkness inside, our breath was taken away as the lights slowly came up to reveal the utter magnificence of this most historic church. The size and splendor and the hopes and dreams of the people who created this material edifice to inspire awe and reverence within became a palpable reality to me. I was both amazed and humbled. The food was a culinary experience of the first order being sourced by our chef at local markets. I had never tasted prosciutto, mozzarella, cantaloupe, or many other foods that had so much flavor in and of themselves. Every evening dinner was expressly designed to engage all senses. The ship’s décor also reflected our locale by featuring an exquisite chandelier from the nearby Murano glass factory as well as other touches of beauty and elegance. Finally, we were treated to impeccable service on every level. Our needs and wants were anticipated so that we could focus on savoring every moment on board. However, the atmosphere was anything but stuffy as we met and dined with wonderful fellow passengers that made the trip even more memorable.


There is most certainly a river cruise that will provide a fabulously memorable travel experience for you. Finding the right fit and planning early are the keys to ensuring success and we all know that anticipation is all part of the excitement and inspiration of travel. d




WRITTEN BY CJ McDANIEL - Coastal Prairie Chapter Past Training Director AMBER LEUNG - Coastal Prairie Chapter Past President PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMBER LEUNG


hether you’re a native, you moved here a long time ago or very recently, you have likely heard the expression, “Everything’s bigger in Texas!” In so many ways, it’s true. From Oklahoma to the Mexican border it is 801 miles, and east to west the state spans 773 miles. With over 268,000 square miles of land and an everincreasing population projected to be more than 29 million residents in 2019, Texas is the largest state in the continental U.S. and the second-most populous. “So what?” you might ask. Due to the vastness of Texas, most of us do not realize that it is one of the most ecologically-diverse states in the country with 10 distinct climatic regions. These regions support more than 180 species of mammals, 645 different birds, thousands of varieties of plants, and tens-of-thousands of invertebrates.


With all these plants and animals, Texas has always been a great place of discovery for naturalists. The first European naturalists to arrive studied and cataloged new species for those who followed in their footsteps. For settlers and their descendants, a desire to understand the interactions between nature and agriculture grew into formal disciplines of higher learning.

“To be whole. To be complete. Nature reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” - Terry Tempest Williams -

What does that mean? It means there are a myriad of opportunities for a Texas Master Naturalist to serve local communities and are limited only by their imagination, time, and energy. Some Master Naturalists choose to specialize their knowledge in specific disciplines such as plants, insects, birds or native flowers and grasses. Some enjoy giving public outreach presentations to adults and children, while others prefer the peace and solitude of habitat restoration. Usually, most serve in a combination of ways. The Texas Master Naturalist Program is jointly sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. From its inception in 1997, it has grown to 48 chapters and more than 10,800 volunteers. Whether it’s designing nature trails, conserving habitat, setting up birding stations, or planting wildflowers, TMN volunteers are creating a better environment for their fellow Texans. Since 1997, Texas Master Naturalist volunteer efforts have provided over 3.7 million hours of service valued at more than $84.9 million. This service

has resulted in developing and maintaining more than 2,150 miles of trails; enhancing 226,200 plus acres of wildlife and native plant habitats; reaching more than 4.3 million youth, adults and private landowners. One member discovered a new plant species. The program has gained international, state, and local recognition with the Wildlife Management Institute’s Presidents’ 2000 Award, the National Audubon Society’s 2001 Habitat Hero’s Award, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission’s 2001 Environmental Excellence Award, Texas A&M University’s 2001 Vice Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Partnership and in 2005 the U. S. Department of Interior’s “Take Pride in America” award.

More than 3,000 acres of land have been conserved or impacted by Chapters throughout the State. The local Coastal Prairie Chapter serves Fort Bend and Waller Counties and has more than 100 dedicated volunteers. Why the coastal prairie? It’s likely hard to believe that several hundred years ago, there were very few trees in our area. Coastal prairie is the name of the habitat that historically existed right under our


The Texas Master Naturalist Program mission is “to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their local communities for the State of Texas.”



feet here. It is a type of tall-grass prairie that extended along the Texas and Louisiana coasts from Corpus Christi to Lafayette. One could call it critically endangered today, because less than one-tenth of one percent of that habitat still exists relatively undisturbed. The other 99.9 percent of the land went the way of agriculture and development long ago.

TMN working to protect endangered Monarch butterfly migration.

TMN volunteers Gerald Trenta, Sal Cardenas, and Roger Hathorn setting fenceposts for hog proof fence in the Seabourne Park demo garden.

Butterfly Gardens Big Help for Small Flyers Butterfly gardens are rapidly growing in popularity and are a great way to beautify homes and public spaces with wild blooms and colorful wings, while providing critical habitat for pollinators. Members of TMN have helped build butterfly gardens throughout Fort Bend County, including one that is one of the primary features at Seabourne Creek Nature Park in Rosenberg, Texas.


The basic building blocks of a butterfly garden are host plants and nectar plants. Host plants are the preferred food source for caterpillars (that ultimately become butterflies). Common host plants include milkweed for monarchs and queens and passionflower vine for gulf fritillaries and zebra longwings. Once these caterpillars complete their first life-stage and emerge as butterflies, however, they will need nectar sources. These native blooms provide this critical nectar . Blue and white mistflowers, purple coneflower, lantana, and coral honeysuckle are excellent native options to attract and feed the adult butterflies. Don’t be surprised if you see colorful moths also enjoying these plants.

These gardens are a delight for observers but they also play an important conservation role. Texas is a critical habitat in the migration of endangered monarch butterflies because it is situated between the principal breeding grounds in the north and the overwintering areas in Mexico. Monarchs funnel South through Texas in the fall, with our region in the center of the flyway. The land in this important flyway has changed drastically over the last few hundred years with the loss of thousands of acres of milkweed that provides the sustenance for monarchs. The future of the Monarch migration is uncertain but we are hopeful it can be preserved by bringing back the flora that sustains it.

Birds of Many Colors Birding, sometimes called birdwatching, is the recreational observation of birds. As mentioned before, Texas is an extraordinary place to be a birder with 645 resident, migrant, and incidental species. It would likely not come as a surprise to anyone reading this article that many Master Naturalists are avid birders. Readers might be surprised, however, that birders have documented nearly 200 distinct species in nearby Seabourne Creek Nature Park. On the first Wednesday morning of most months (usually excluding mid-winter and mid-summer), the public is invited to join a Monthly Bird Hike in the park led by local experts. Many people don’t realize the surprising beauty and vivid colored plumage that are sometimes hiding in plain sight, such as the brilliant painted bunting. Far from a selfish hobby, birding checklists can contribute valuable scientific data to individual landowners, the state, and the world. On the most local of scales, TMN volunteers form survey teams to help local landowners understand their own species diversity and as an aid for their 1-D-1 Wildlife Management Plan. This plan allows a landowner a significant tax benefit for dedicating and managing a portion of his land for wildlife species. However, the minimum requirement is 25 acres dedicated to the Wildlife Management Plan.

Roger Hathorn, Diane Shelton, and Linda Rippert prepare to re-plant the butterfly garden.

Citizens can be scientists when bird lists are uploaded to the eBird.org database. This is an online, publiclyaccessible database created by the Cornell Lab of


02 37

Smoky the bear said, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” This is what many of us grew up hearing. More recently, land conservationists have developed the technology and means to adopt a policy of large-scale fire suppression for the protection of life, property, and livestock. Sometimes this policy was also applied in a misguided attempt at conservation. To replicate those old natural conditions, TMN volunteers assist trained Texas Parks and Wildlife personnel to conduct prescribed burns on private property throughout Texas. Burns are conducted only under very specific wind and humidity conditions and are carefully controlled and monitored. Trained volunteers roam the perimeters to ensure no flames escape the control burn areas.



The critically endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken. On the brink of extinction due to the loss of native prairie habitat and the spread of invasive species.

Ornithology. It is crowd-sourced science on a grand scale, providing population and migration data that professional ornithologists could never have imagined possible 20 years ago. Volunteers also help with the state’s effort to study white-winged doves through an annual dove banding effort. Basic statistics on each bird are recorded and an individually numbered band is affixed to a leg before they are released. When a banded bird is found, the location, age and date help improve understanding of the movements, population numbers, and harvest statistics for this popular game bird.

Each fall, Texas Master Chapters including the Coastal Prairie Chapter offer training to become a Certified Texas Master Naturalist. This 12-week course provides opportunities to see and explore some of the nearby Texas Parks as well as have experienced biologists, botanists, environmentalists and other specialty field experts provide hands-on training in many areas of interest. An individual gains the designation of Texas Master Naturalist after participating in this approved chapter training program consisting of a minimum of 40 hours of combined field and classroom instruction. Trainees become Certified by obtaining 8 hours of approved advanced training and completing 40 hours of volunteer service. Following the initial training program, trainees have one year in which to complete their 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training. To retain the Texas Master Naturalist Certification title during each subsequent year, volunteers must complete 8 additional hours of advanced training and provide an additional 40 hours of volunteer service coordinated through their local chapter. Though that seems like a lot for a volunteer program, so many volunteers do even more; 52 volunteers have given over 5,000 service hours, and 9 volunteers have given over 10,000 service hours! Should you have interest classes begin in August and end the last week of October. The office is in Rosenberg in the Texas AgriLife Extension office on Band Road adjacent to the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds. d

To learn more about TMN volunteers assist trained Texas Parks & Wildlife personnel to conduct prescribed burns.


A Prescription for Fire A part of returning natural prairie or farmland to its best condition is through controlled burning. Hundreds of years ago, natural fires helped to maintain the prairie boundaries by clearing the few invading trees and shrubs and thinning the fast-growing grasses, thereby allowing greater plant species diversity. Fires also return nutrients to the soil and make them available for the new growth that many types of wildlife (including popular game species) depend upon.

visit - http://txmn.org/coastal Events, meetings and activities are open to the public and are always listed on the chapter calendar. Please join us.

Not Your Ordinary Community Tucked behind the guarded entrance along FM 1093, the EXCLUSIVE 1,400-ACRE COMMUNITY of Weston Lakes remains one of the BEST KEPT SECRETS in the Fulshear area. Many long-time area residents drive right past it every day and don’t realize all that this community has to offer.

country club lifestyle on a daily basis Featuring a private 18-hole championship golf course designed by PGA Tour champion Hale Irwin, tennis courts, two swimming pools, the Waterside Grill and a fully appointed fitness center with personal trainers, Weston Lakes residents are treated to a country club lifestyle on a daily basis. The Ballroom at the Weston Lakes Country Club, which overlooks Pecan Lake, is an ideal place to host a wedding, special event or corporate retreat. Country club memberships are available to both residents and non-residents. Originally developed in 1984, Weston Lakes is an established community that boasts a tax rate of 2.3%, which makes purchasing a custom home surprisingly affordable compared to other master planned communities.

The Weston Lakes community contains miles of natural lakes and greenbelts, which meander through the stunning custom crafted homes, along with frontage along the Brazos River frontage where deer and other scenic wildlife roam freely in native habitat. With homes from $300’s to over $1 million, The Reserve at Weston Lakes is the newest section of the Weston Lakes community. The Reserve is accessible from Weston Lakes’ main entry gate, as well as the new guard gate along Bowser Road, which is located just west of the Weston Lakes community. The friendly staff at the Weston Lakes Information Center and County Club are available to show you all that Weston Lakes has to offer.

w e s to n l a k e s. n e t 32611 F.M. 1093 Fulshear, TX 77441 (281) 346-1967




Before settling into their life in Fulshear, Kristy and Steve lived for a time in New York City. There, they became firsthand witnesses to the horrible events that occurred on September 11, 2001. After much reflection, Kristy (Smith) is now able to share their story.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Andrew_Deer

“The sky was falling and streaked with blood. I heard you calling me, then you disappeared into the dust. Up the stairs, into the fire. Up the stairs, into the fire. I need your kiss, but love and duty called you someplace higher. Somewhere up the stairs, Into the fire.”



These are the opening lyrics to Bruce Springsteen’s “Into the Fire.” They hit me hard every time I hear them. The album, The Rising, was Springsteen’s response to the September 11, 2001 tragedy. For me, there is no more fitting tribute. The emotions he captures in every verse are so real and still so visceral for me. Like the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, or the catastrophic end to the Space Shuttle Challenger launch in 1986, we all remember where we were on September 11, 2001. As you are reading this, I imagine you are thinking back to when you got the phone call or turned on the television that morning. My husband, Steve, and I were in the center of that horrific event in Manhattan. We lived through it in real-time with no newscasters explaining the situation and no electronic barrier that we could turn off if it all got to be too much. This is the short version of my experience. The long version could fill a book.



Like this year, September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. It was election day in New York City. We were supposed to vote for a new Mayor, and I had intended to go to the polls after work. Like usual, I got on the shuttle outside my apartment building. We lived in Hell’s Kitchen, just three blocks west of Times Square. At the time, it was not the hip and trendy neighborhood it is now. We were considered “way west” – nearly New Jersey! – so to entice people to move in, our high-rise sponsored a commuter shuttle to get residents to the much more central and civilized location of Fifth Avenue and 44th Street. Steve and I had just come back from a trip to Boston over the weekend to celebrate our birthdays. I had been sick all weekend and was happy to be home. The morning was glorious. Sunny skies, warm – a perfect late summer day in New York City.

04 01 - Soldiers marching in New York - Photo by Sven Duyx (2003) 02 - Kristy & Steve on their wedding day - PHOTO by Leah Flanigan (2003) 03 - World Trade Center Towers 04 - Flag off the back of a ferry


I got off the bus and began my walk to my office building; a fifteen-minute commute I had been doing daily for six months. We had just moved to Manhattan from Chicago that March, and even though I had never imagined that I would visit New York City, let alone live there, I loved it. I’d get lost in thought, awed by my surroundings every morning. As I walked that morning, I heard a plane. It sounded incredibly low and



immediately, and innocently, my mind wandered to, “What would happen if a plane crashed in the city?” I pondered that thought the rest of the way to my highrise office.

I knew in my heart of hearts that Steve had made it out. He had to. I simply could not accept any other outcome.

I got off the elevator on the 33rd floor and the receptionist shouted, “A plane just hit the Trade Center!” I ran to the windows – we were up high enough that we could see some of the taller buildings further away. I took two steps, stopped short and shouted, “Steve!” and then took off toward my cubicle.

Our best friends from Chicago had just moved to Manhattan a few weeks prior. They moved into our building and lived one floor below. They were home that day. I had them to help me through the next few hours of not hearing from Steve.

My husband worked at 7 World Trade Center. He was on the 27th floor, and his office faced the two towers. I got to my desk and my phone was ringing. It was my mom calling from Michigan. She’d seen the news already. “I don’t know what’s happened, Mom. I have to call Steve. I love you. I gotta go.” I called Steve immediately after hanging up with my Mom. At this point, we had no idea what kind of plane had hit, whether it was a tragic accident, or where it hit on the building. Nothing. I got through to Steve, and as we were talking, the second plane hit. Seventeen years later, and I’m still struggling to keep my cheeks dry as I write this. “There’s been another explosion. evacuated. I have to go,” he said.



“I love you.” “I love you, too.” Three hours of radio silence after that. The cell towers were on top of the buildings that had been hit. Our phones became bricks in our pockets - reminders of how little control we had over the situation. I ran to my boss’s office. I didn’t know what to say or do. We all ran into the board room to watch the madness unfold on television as we tried to figure out the best course of action in real life. I worked in a high-rise. I lived in a high-rise. They were attacking high-rises. I wasn’t safe anywhere. I wanted to go home, to Michigan. Sadly, that wasn’t an option, so I left the office. If I was going to die that day, I wasn’t going to die at work. My colleague joined me. She lived in New Jersey and she did not know how she was going to get home. I was lucky. It was about a thirty-minute walk to our apartment, so I walked home every day. The only difference was this time I didn’t know if my building would still be there when I got home.


As we walked, a mini-van stopped, and the driver rolled down the window, shouting, “The tower is falling!” This wasn’t a movie. Nobody shouted “cut!” and ordered us to do it all again. This was happening, and we didn’t know what to do about it. Scared and confused, my colleague and I continued through the chaotic streets of Manhattan and made it back to my apartment. It was still standing. But the cell phones were still out.

Then, he came home. The elevator dinged and Steve and ten of his office mates shuffled out and into our 700 square foot apartment. Humor helps me deal with stressful situations, and the prospect of housing twelve people in our tiny Manhattan apartment though stressful at the time, makes me laugh now. I also laugh remembering that Steve’s boss stopped at our neighborhood grocery store – which was still open during all of this – and bought cold cuts, eggs and spaghetti to feed the masses. We didn’t buy spaghetti for a year. As the day went on, and it became evident that the attacks – because that’s what we learned they were now – were over, people began looking for ways to get home. The Circle Line, a tourist boat company that provided tours circling Manhattan with views of all five boroughs, the Twin Towers, and the Statue of Liberty, opened up their boats to ferry people from Manhattan to New Jersey for free. The lines were long but moving, and some of our temporary roommates made it home that way. Throughout all this, there was one other person I hadn’t heard from, another Chicago transplant, and one of my very best friends - Phyllis. She worked in Tower II. It was the first building hit that morning. She worked on the 101st floor. I didn’t know if she made it out. I couldn’t get a hold of her, no one could. Late in the afternoon, I finally got through to friends in Chicago, using the land line, and got word that Phyllis was okay. Later, I found out that she had been late to work that morning. She was on a bus uptown when the first plane hit. She was on a bus, and late for work. One unintended action – being late – led to my friend still being with us. There’s certainly some “larger than me” philosophy to be pondered there. I am grateful that she is still here. Around 5:00 p.m., all our unexpected guests had left. Steve and I had got hold of our parents, and they all knew we were alive. I don’t want to think about the terror they felt that day. Our apartment faced south. When we moved in, we had a 180-degree unobstructed view. We could see Times Square (barely, from the balcony, but it counts), the Empire State building, the Twin Towers, the Statue of Liberty (she was tiny, but she was visible), and the Hudson River and New Jersey. During our four-year stay, construction blocked our view of the Empire State Building and the Towers were gone. But, we still had the Statue of Liberty: a testament to the strength and pride we shared as New Yorkers. The television showed a near exact replica of what we could see from our living room. All day: smoke, fire, fear, dust. The news cycled through the horror of the towers falling, on repeat. We couldn’t take our eyes off it. Then, as we looked out our window, Steve’s building





11 - 9/11 memorabilia - magazines from shortly after - rescue 1 patch from the neighboring fire department (see photo 13) 12 - NYC Police - Photo by Sven Duyx (2003) 13 - this fire department lost 11 of their crew - Photo by Sven Duyx (2003) 14 - the newly built one world trade center






05 - view of NYC from Kristy’s apartment 06 - streets of New York - Photo by Sven Duyx (2003) 07 - grand central station terminal - Photo by Sven Duyx (2003) 08 - kristy & her mom 09 - statue of liberty in New York HARBour 10 - NY GIANTS game shortly after the attack






fell. A split second later, it fell on our television screen. In a day of surreal experiences, that was just one more.

September 12th, 2001 was the quietest Manhattan had ever been. I recall walking up 9th Avenue and expecting to see tumbleweeds, it was so empty.


My husband didn’t have an office to go to. It hadn’t been hit, but it bore the brunt of the heat and the stress of losing the other two buildings, and it was gone just the same. We went to breakfast with some of his colleagues. I didn’t know if I should go to work or not. I didn’t have a playbook on how to deal with terrorist attacks at that point in my life. But, eventually, I made it to the office and was immediately turned away. Everything was too raw. Fighter planes were still circling the city, and every time one flew past, I shook, expecting it to be another attack.


Photo Credit: iStock.com/onurkurtic

to it. We cried. We laughed. We were awestruck at each other’s descriptions of our experiences. But, we had gone through this unthinkable, immense, world-changing event together. We needed each other to heal. And we did, eventually. We’re not the same as we were before that day. None of us are, not in New York, not in Texas, not anywhere. But, we are healing. I went through dark days afterward of blaming, hating, and stereotyping. None of that made me feel any better about what I had gone through. Not in the long run, anyway. Maybe at first it felt good to have someone to hate for such unspeakable actions and so much loss. But, after a while the hate didn’t have a purpose any more. It didn’t fill the hole, that hole would always be there. My feelings had nothing to do with it.

We were immensely proud. We were strong. We didn’t need hate. We needed 16 action, organization. Companies began putting together business continuity 15 - the new 9/11 memorial site plans in earnest. We all 16 - Kristy’s friend Phyllis at the Survivor Tree participated in fire drills – walking down thirty-three These feelings of fear and confusion lasted months, flights of stairs in some cases – to make sure we knew even years. I remember nearly breaking down on the what to do just in case. That is something that has stuck sidewalk when the subway thundered by under my with me. Everywhere we’ve lived since then, we’ve feet. The rumbling had caught me off guard; I thought it had a plan: meeting points, how to communicate if was another plane. I became hyper-aware of the flight technology fails, how to stay safe. pattern at Newark Airport. We could see those planes coming and going from our living room window. Any It’s true that it’s a different world now. But, I don’t think time one came too far out over the river, I expected it that means it’s worse. The tragedy of the September to hit my building. We both slept with “go-bags” next 11th attacks is something that will never leave our to our bed - tennis shoes, undone and ready to slide collective consciousness, and, rightfully so. Thousands on. I began running again, and Steve took up cycling. I of innocent people died that day. But, from the ashes, needed to be fit so that I could outrun whatever might we grew, and continue to grow, stronger. We need to happen next. call on that strength and lean on our friends and family when we feel like we can’t face the day. We can. I think Things did happen. A large plane went down exactly Bruce summed it up well in the chorus of Into the Fire: two months later just after takeoff from JFK Airport. It wasn’t terrorists. It was engine wake. Nearly two years later, the lights went out in the city. Most of the east coast and part of the mid-west was without power for several days over the summer of 2003. Also, not terrorists. But, we banded together. New Yorkers had never been so cooperative. Lines at blood donation centers circled entire city blocks. People looking out for each other in ways they hadn’t done before. We were sad and scared, but we were tough, and determined.

“ May your strength give us strength - May your faith give us faith - May your hope give us hope - May your love give us love”

We, New Yorkers, all talked about it a lot afterward. Every conversation, if it wasn’t the initial topic, it turned

Strength. Faith. Hope. Love. Building blocks of a strong community. Even after the worst. d




Top-Selling Communities


arry Johnson and his company, Johnson Development Corp., are synonymous with successful master-planned communities.


Mr. Johnson founded the company in 1975 and has watched the firm grow throughout the years to become one of the nation’s most successful residential developers. In fact, Johnson Development currently has six master-planned communities listed among the nation’s top-selling — more than any other developer in the nation. And that’s an achievement it has earned every year since 2014. The key to his success, Mr. Johnson says, is a focus on lifestyle. “It’s a great thing to create places for people to plant roots, grow their families and celebrate life,” he said. That mantra is on full display right here in Fulshear, where two of Johnson Development’s 17 active communities can be found. The 1,350-acre JORDAN RANCH, which broke ground in 2015 and welcomed its first residents the following year, evokes a small-town ambiance despite being only a mile from Interstate 10. A lifestyle director plans frequent events where neighbors can meet, and The Shed recreation complex is a favorite gathering spot. Johnson Development communities are known for extraordinary amenities, and Jordan Ranch is no exception. Anchoring the recreation complex is a resort pool and signature lazy river — something seldom found in master-planned communities. Also located in Fulshear is a community with a longer history — CROSS CREEK RANCH. Now celebrating 11 years of home sales, the 3,200-acre development is one of the nation’s best-selling master-planned communities — No. 25, according to Robert Charles Lesser & Co. Necessary improvements to the land — such as restoring Flewellen Creek and creating a water treatment basin — are transformed into picturesque amenities that not only offer outdoor recreation to residents, but also habitats for indigenous wildlife. Fields of Texas wildflowers beautify the landscape, creating a family photo backdrop. The 50-acre Polishing Pond is the equivalent of three football fields, offering a naturalized system of bio-remediating lakes that essentially “polishes” the water before it ultimately flows from Flewellen Creek then into Oyster Creek. It’s also a fantastic place to bird watch.

“It’s a great thing to create places for people to plant roots, grow their families and celebrate life,”


Cross Creek Ranch also employs a formula Mr. Johnson has found successful in other communities — on-site schools, an accessible location and destination retail.



“It’s our focus on resident lifestyle and creating a sense of community that really sets us apart.” Two Katy ISD elementary schools are currently open in Cross Creek Ranch with a Katy junior high and high school under construction now. Residents also are served by popular schools within the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District. The Westpark Tollway expansion is almost complete and the Grand Parkway isn’t too far away. A large H-E-B opened in 2018 to serve the many residents who have moved to the area and many more retailers and services have opened (and will continue to open throughout 2019) at the Market at Cross Creek Ranch. The approximate 8,000 people who live in Cross Creek Ranch are far more than the 400 who lived in Mr. Johnson’s hometown of Kress. Attending Texas Tech University on a football scholarship and later attending law school at the University of Texas, Mr. Johnson was introduced to real estate while living in Austin. When the company he was working for moved to Houston, he went with them. Mr. Johnson decided to make the leap into owning his own firm in 1975.

“I liked the independence of doing things the way I wanted,” Johnson said. And that was paying attention to location, developing in areas served by desirable schools and partnering with highly regarded builders. “But it’s our focus on resident lifestyle and creating a sense of community that really sets us apart,” he said. But Mr. Johnson doesn’t take all of the credit for the success of his communities. In fact, he points to his team of highly creative and talented people who work at Johnson Development.


“It’s because of them that we’ve built Johnson Development into one of the leading developers in the nation,” he said. “After all of these years, I still get excited working on deals and working with the people in the company.” And after riding the ups and downs of the Houston economy for decades, Mr. Johnson says he sees good things ahead for the area right now. “There is not an oversupply of housing or lots, jobs have come back, oil prices are good. I think Houston has a good run ahead of it.” d


On My Honor… Building CHARACTER in the new generation of




HONOR AND TRADITION In 1912, Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low held the first Girl Scout meeting in her home in Savannah, Georgia with the goal of raising girls to become strong, successful women. Over 100 years later, The Girl Scouts of America is still honoring that ideal. More than two million girls and adults count themselves as Girl Scouts in the United States alone. Jenn Montgomery is a troop leader and head recruiter for the Way Out West Community, which is part of the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto council. Montgomery says that combined with the Lone Star Treasures Community, our area has girls in approximately 175 troops, from the youngest Daisies through the seasoned Ambassadors.

IT STARTS WITH A PROMISE “On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.” All Girl Scouts are taught the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law from their very first meeting. The Promise is the foundation, and the Girl Scout Law provides the framework for everything Girl Scouts do. According to the Girl Scouts of the USA website, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make


LEADERS Montgomery loves the Girl Scouts and the values it teaches girls of all ages. She currently leads a Junior troop of fifth graders from three different elementary schools in the area. Her girls love to camp, so they focus on planning monthly camping trips to one of the Girl Scout campgrounds. The girls do all the planning, from deciding which camp and theme they would like to attend to planning meals, setting a budget, and shopping. Montgomery loves that Girl Scouts is designed for girls, with many of the activities addressing “female stereotypes and how to bust them.” She says that girls learn to succeed based on their choices, consequences, and planning.


AREN’T JUST TASTY You have seen them on your street or in front of the local grocery store – those cute little girls in their blue, brown, or green vests with colorful boxes of sugary goodness stacked taller than they are and smiles wider than the Gulf of Mexico. You try to ignore them, but then they speak. “Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies?” Their cute little voices pull you in, and it is over. You have already pulled out your wallet and bought five boxes. Those cute little girls are not just there to be cute. Before they even get near a cookie booth, they will have spent hours practicing valuable life skills and learning the business of selling cookies. According to the Girl Scouts of the USA website, “[a]ll of the net revenue raised through the Girl Scout Cookie Program—100 percent of it— stays with the local council and troops.” This means, each box sold helps to keep campgrounds and programs running, as well as funding activities for each troop. To Montgomery, cookie sales are important because they teach the girls how to “take ownership of a program so they can finance their own goals.” The girls decide how they are going to spend the money they have earned, usually paying for camping trips or buying supplies for service projects.




As part of the Girl Scout Promise, the girls learn the value of helping in their community. Laura Lear, co-leader of Brownie Troop 129156 has a small troop of serviceoriented girls who love to help. Their biggest goal, according to Lear, is “getting our girls’ hands and feet active.” Lear’s girls have spent several hours making lunches for and donating cookies to Lunches of Love, making and distributing blankets to cancer patients at MD Anderson, and, using their troop funds, making lunches and feeding the homeless at the Emergency Aid Coalition in Houston. They make giving back to the community a priority every month, while also working on badges and having fun together. Brownie Troop 152045, led by Laura Peart, also embodies the spirit of helping in the community. This troop of second graders has been together since they were Daisies. Peart states that in that time, they have “made bedroom bags for the Rainbow Room in Rosenberg, made non-slip socks for the children’s hospital, homeless bags, and passed out valentines at a nursing home.” These girls will also get to camp at a community campout in the fall and they will pick a “journey” to work on during the year. According to Peart, “[a] journey is a set of badges all following a similar theme…with a community service project at the end that ties all the badges together.” Madi Orta’s Brownie Troop from Huggins Elementary regularly donates cookies to the Fulshear Police and Fire Department. The girls cherish the smiles and hugs they receive from our first responders. Montgomery’s troop routinely helps the Ballard House by donating money and supplies. In return, her girls get a chance to tour the facility and see how their hard work and donations help others in their community.



AND AWARDS, OH MY! The Girl Scout program encourages young girls to discover what interests them, and then learn and attain new skills associated with those interests. From astronomy to golf,


the world a better place.” This mission is first embodied by Daisies, the youngest scouts, who earn petals representing each value of the Girl Scout Law. Once earned, the girls proudly display their petals on their vibrant blue vests. They carry these values with them through their entire scouting career and on into adulthood.



robotics to dance, and any activity in between, there is a place for girls to discover what they love. Many of these activities have badges related to them, so not only are the girls learning a new skill or developing a new passion, they also get something tangible to remind them of all their hard work. Girl Scouts of any age and level can earn badges by completing a task or learning a skill. Each type of badge, award, or insignia has a specific place on the girl scout uniform. The uniform is worn during ceremonies and when representing the Girl Scouts in public. The highest award a girl scout can achieve is the Gold Award. The path to achieving this award, and other awards and badges, is laid out on the Girl Scouts of the USA website. It explains that the Gold Award is an individual award and the girl must be a Senior (9th or 10th grade) or Ambassador (11th or 12th grade) to begin her work. Montgomery has one girl beginning to formulate her plans for this award. Her project must meet rigorous standards set forth by the Girl Scouts of the USA. After completion, she will have created something that will live on and inspire others to help in their community and to do their personal best.


JOIN OR VOLUNTEER! There will always be a place for any girl who is interested to join the Girl Scouts. There are sign up booths at all the elementary schools during Meet the Teacher night, and the website www.gssjc.org has information on finding troops near you and the forms you will need to join. The Way Out West community also has an active Facebook page. Adults, women and men, who are interested in becoming a troop leader, or helping in other ways, are welcome to register. The Girl Scouts will provide you with the materials you need to lead; you need only bring your desire to help. Montgomery, who has been a leader for more than a decade, emphasizes that Girl Scout leaders are mentors who touch the lives of girls and young women in ways their parents cannot. They provide a safe place for their girls to talk. You can do this too. Your talents, experience, and willingness to be a presence in the lives of girls will help them achieve their goals and dreams and create leaders who will help their communities prosper. The Girl Scouts have been an important part of the lives of many girls and women in our community, our country and around the world. This author is proud to count herself and her daughter among them. d



If you are interested in Juliette Gordon Low’s story, or to learn more about the Girl Scouts including cookie sales, awards and badges, and how to sign up for a local troop, please visit www.girlscouts.org

Over the summer, my daughter and I had the privilege of touring Juliette Gordon Low’s home in Savannah, Georgia. We stood in the room where the Girl Scouts began, and we were surrounded by the energy that I know Daisy Low must have exuded in that space. It is hallowed ground, indeed. Special badges await girls who make the journey to the Low home in Savannah.










SPEAKING OF HARVEY During the height of the storm, Meyers’ role across Precinct 3 concentrated on the most pressing needs. His attention was focused on opening shelters, collecting food, water and supplies, emergency planning meetings with the Commissioner’s Court, and continued later as he subsequently organized large community informational events at Cinco Ranch and Fulshear high schools. In the final tally, over 4,000 homes in Precinct 3 flooded.

Commissioner Andy Meyers speaking in Canyon Gate, Photo by Suzy Tighe


Hurricane Harvey brought out the best in many within Fort Bend County. There are countless stories of dramatic rescues, selfless giving, and neighbors helping neighbors – communities becoming more united than ever. As the worst storm in our area’s history galvanized the community, Fort Bend County triumphed over the tragedy. Among the many unsung heroes of Hurricane Harvey, Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers stands out for his decisive actions during and after the event.


Commissioner Andy Meyers represents Precinct 3 in Fort Bend County. It is an area that extends from the Brazos River, just north of Simonton, and goes as far south as the Sugar Creek community in Sugar Land. It can be said that this heavily populated precinct was the hardest hit during Hurricane Harvey.

Meyers’ home flooded too, although he minimized attention to it. His time and resources were focused primarily upon his responsibilities as Commissioner. Apparently, not even his own staff knew the initial extent of Andy’s flood damage. According to Meyers’ staff member, Robert Pechukas, “It wasn’t until weeks later that we found out that his home had also taken on water.” Robert continued, “I had been talking with him hourly during the height of the storm and I didn’t even know that his house had flooded. He was so focused on communication and help for our residents who were relying upon us for information as we pieced it together. It’s a testament to what kind of man he is.”

HAMSTRUNG BY TEXAS LAW Future generations may very well benefit from what Andy accomplished during Harvey because of the subsequent attention he brought to an unintended “quirk” of the Texas Open Meetings Act, which hindered emergency communication during the Harvey event. This law is intended to ensure open public access to governmental meetings and carries stiff punishment for any violation. The troublesome issue came to light during Hurricane Harvey as Andy, in his role as Commissioner, was

“It wasn’t until weeks later that we found out... I didn’t even know that his house had flooded too.”





forbidden to freely communicate with the County Judge, in his role as Emergency Director. This, even though the County Judge could speak with the city mayors unhindered. For Andy, it was frustrating that the County Judge could pick up the phone and call the Mayors of Katy or Fulshear to coordinate planning or evacuations, but the Open Meetings Act prohibited that call being placed between himself and Commissioner Meyers. That meant delays and duplication of efforts were a real risk for the 230,000+ residents of Precinct 3 who do not live inside city limits. Precinct 3 Constable, Wayne Thompson, put it this way. “Commissioner Meyers and his staff were operating with one hand tied behind their back because of that law. That’s why the State Legislature hustled Andy in to testify.” According to the Constable, “The interim committee members were stunned when he gave them the blow-by-blow of how the Open Meetings Act hurt communication and confused our residents with the evacuation orders. They called up the Attorney General’s experts to verify what Commissioner Meyers said, and the AG’s office confirmed it. They’re going to change the law for the better this session, in large part due to Commissioner’s leadership and testimony.”


AFTER THE STORM Commissioner Meyers’ leadership did not end with the storm’s passing. From Harvey’s landfall to present day, he has continued brainstorming ways to provide financial relief to individual families impacted by Harvey. Early in his tenure as commissioner, Andy founded a charitable organization called Fort Bend Charities, Inc. The mission of this organization is to give to organizations and people in need of various types of assistance and included Katy Christian Ministries, Simonton Christian Academy, and the Lone Star Veterans Association. After Hurricane Harvey, Fort Bend Charities adopted a new mission - assisting families that had been financially impacted by the storm and flood. “Andy raised over $130,000 through the charity,” said Chris Elam, another member of the Precinct 3 staff. “He told the Charity Board that he didn’t want it to be some sort of Instagram social media promotion campaign.



Hugh Durlam, who lives in Canyon Gate and was flooded out due to the Barker Reservoir, said, “he had a charity to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Harvey and was able to put thousands of dollars in the hands of those who really needed it. Commissioner Meyers always took my calls or called me back quickly. He was very handson, ground floor, and accessible during this disaster and worked tirelessly to help make us whole.”



GOOD WORK Hugh Durlam cleaning out his house.

Photo by Ben Hester

Instead, he devised a plan and successfully executed it. He found the families who needed help the most and has spent the better part of six months giving each of those families $1,000 checks. They have really appreciated it, especially coming from someone who lives in his own home that still isn’t fully repaired.” One recipient, Adriana Vecino, said, “On behalf of my family, thank you so much for your donation. We have been blessed for receiving assistance from generous people like you.”

Andy remains engaged in a number of “under-theradar” roles in his effort to bring aid to flood victims. Whether working through the State Legislature to improve laws, raising funds through Fort Bend Charities, Inc., or grinding out the 12+ hour workdays he regularly keeps, his staff acknowledges that Andy is always on the move as he continues to advance solutions for his constituents that go above and beyond the formal duties of his elected office. Regardless of the time and financial burdens from his personal flood damage and recovery, Andy Meyers continues to work through his position as County Commissioner to faithfully serve those whose lives have been turned upside down by hurricane Harvey. d

“On behalf of my family, thank you so much for your donation. We have been blessed for receiving assistance from generous people like you.”


06 • 01: Volunteers clear out a flooded home in Canyon Gate. Photo by Hugh Durlam • 02: Shelter volunteers gather to provide relief. PICTURED (L-R) ARE: Former Fulshear Mayor Tommy Kuykendall, Tracy Jensen, Rhonda Kuykendall,

Commissioner Andy Meyers, Fulshear Councilwoman Kaye Kahlich, former Fulshear Councilwoman Tricia Krenek, Constable Wayne Thompson, Don McCoy, and Chief Deputy Constable Robert Van Pelt. Photo by Rhonda Kuykendall • 03: County crews de-silting the Willow Fork diversion channel after Harvey. Photo by Hugh Durlam • 04: ulshear Area town hall meeting at Fulshear High School. Photo by Robert Pechukas • 05: State Rep. Dr. John Zerwas and Commissioner Andy Meyers at the 1 Year after Harvey Party in Canyon Gate. Photo by Suzy Tighe • 06: Ray Aguilar from Classic Chevrolet and Commissioner Andy Meyers gathering supplies for delivery to those in need at the Precinct 3 Annex. Photo by Robert Pechukas



quality restaurant brings unique dining to Fulshear WRITTEN BY JACLYN RITTER


ulshear residents tend to be very loyal to their local restaurants and coffee houses. While there may not be an abundance of options, the available establishments have been embraced and supported from the beginning. While neighboring towns have a plethora of options, it sure is nice to ditch the drive and stay close. Yen Teppanyaki Sushi Steakhouse is one of the new kids on the block, and, in a short time, has already proven to be a staple amongst Fulshear residents.

Why Fulshear?


Yen may be a new restaurant, but the gentlemen behind it have been in the game for a long time. The owners, Jason Wang, Tony Wang, and Leo Dong opened Sushi Hana, a very successful restaurant in the Shops of Bella Terra along the Grand Parkway, in 2007. With Fulshear’s consistent growth, the three jumped at the opportunity to share their craft with its residents. Yen Teppanyaki Sushi Steakhouse opened on March 7th, 2016 along FM1463. Tony Pham, manager at Sushi Hana, was eager to get to work on the new restaurant. During college, Tony worked at a local Florida restaurant to help fund his degree in electrical engineering. Twenty-five years later Tony Pham is still in the food industry and he would not change a thing. “If you do not love what it is you are doing, you can never truly do it right,” smiles Tony. “I love what I do and am glad I chose the path I did.”

of Dining

Tony, along with owners, Jason, Tony, and Leo, opted for a more contemporary interior for Yen Teppanyaki, instead of a traditional Japanese decor. While the menu at Sushi Hana was more fusion, offering a variety of Asian cuisines, Yen is more focused on traditional Japanese sushi and hibachi. Their seafood dishes tend to be the most popular, however they have chicken, three different cuts of steak, and vegetable entrees to please a broader palette. Tony’s favorite – the filet mignon lobster. When it comes to dining, guests have four different options: the sushi bar, traditional table dining, hibachi grill dining, and the VIP room, which is available to reserve for parties and corporate events. To experience the real deal, opt for the hibachi grill! Hibachi is a style of Japanese teppanyaki cooking that integrates gas heated hotplates into tables that seat multiple people. This more family oriented

style of dining is not only about the food, but also about the experience. The chef puts on a show, all while preparing a mouthwatering meal. Hibachi chefs are specially trained. There is no wall separating the dining room from the kitchen. Their work is on display for all to see. They must be aware of any food allergies amongst the group, know how everyone likes their meat cooked, masterfully cut and dice to perfection, all while putting on a show. This is multitasking at its best! Diners are witnessing true performance artistry. One minute, ingredients are being tossed around the grill with flair and precision, and then the next, the whole grill is set aflame. Yen’s lead chef, Bobby Wang, is proud to say that every chef is experienced. They know that the key to delicious food is in the details. Steak needs to cook on a hot grill and be transferred to a hot plate. The inexperienced chefs will stand out because they cook their steaks on the side of the grill, for fear of overcooking it. An experienced and confident chef places it right in the center and knows the precise moment to remove it from the grill to achieve that tender, juicy, and flavorful piece of meat that cuts like butter. This is true attention to detail.

If you do not love what it is “ you are doing, you can never truly do it right.

- Tony Wang


A New Style




Consistency is Key

The key to Yen’s early success is consistency consistency in both service and quality of food. Tony knows that if customers are confident that they will get the same great experience each and every time they dine at Yen’s, that they will spread the word and likely return.

Yen Teppanyaki Sushi Steakhouse is proud to call Fulshear home. They quickly became members of the Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce. In the years to come, they hope to become even more active with area schools, churches, and local events. The love the owners, manager, and chefs have for the restaurant is apparent - from the moment you walk into the restaurant, all the way until your last bite. There is a sense of pride in what they do, and they do it well. d

What is Teppanyaki?

Teppanyaki translates to “grilling on a hot plate.” Introduced to the United States following WWII, “Japanese Steakhouses” became more and more popular. Teppanyaki encompases all Japanese food cooked on an iron grill, or hibachi grill. Dishes usually consist of thinly sliced meat, rice, vegetables, and soy sauce.

TEPPANYAKI SUSHI STEAKHOUSE 6630 FM 1463, Fulshear, TX 77441 (281) 665-3917


www.yenhibachi.com Email: info@yenhibachi.com

LUNCH Thurs-Fri • 11-2pm DINNER Mon-Thurs • 5-10pm, Fri • 4:30-10pm Sat •11:30-10pm, Sun • 11:30-9:30pm

NewSuperior Name… SAME



Photo Credit: iStock.com/dimatlt633



oogle defines “Chamber of Commerce” as “a local association to promote and protect the interests of the business community in a particular place.” Current members of the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce (FKACC) believe that their chamber goes above and beyond this definition. The FKACC invests in its members by providing quality training and education opportunities, increasing business visibility, providing its members a voice within the community, establishing networking opportunities, and protecting the credibility and image of its businesses. Conceptualized in 2013, and established in early 2014, the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce has grown to almost 500 dedicated members. This astonishing

number is a direct reflection of the chamber’s highly involved and invested staff and volunteer directors. With a recent name change, and a roll out of new member services, the local chamber is now better than ever.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? In July of 2018, the Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and chamber members voted to add Katy to its name. “We wanted to better reflect our membership,” says FKACC President Don McCoy. Roughly thirty percent of the 476 chamber members are Fulshear businesses. The remaining seventy percent are outside of Fulshear city limits, some as far as Sealy, Rosenberg, Eagle Lake, and League City. However, with



Member Testimonials “The leadership of Don, Amy, and Rachel has been nothing more than exceptional! The chamber is proactive in the community and has helped our business expand with exposure at events and monthly gatherings. The FKACC has been one of the best decisions we as a business have made. We are a proud member of this chamber.”

Angela Vargas


“We have been a member of the FKACC for three years, and I am grateful to be associated with such a supportive group of people. As one of the many small business owners they represent, there has never been a moment that I didn’t feel like part of the family. In addition to the many networking and business promoting opportunities they provide us each year, they recently launched an outstanding new website, email, and phone application platform that represents each member in their own way. It’s another great example of their continual hard work coming together. A simple thank you does not seem adequate for t he time and dedication that they put into promoting their members.”

Carla Casey


“When I walked into the Fulshear Katy Area Chamber of Commerce I didn’t feel as if we were becoming part of a chmaber, I felt as if we were becoming part of a community! In one word... IMPRESSIVE!”

Sherry Eberle E XP LO RE. US


the majority of those 476 members located outside the city of Fulshear, the name change was the right decision. Amy Norvell, Executive Assistant with the FKACC, explains the change best saying, “Based on feedback from our annual chamber member survey, we mapped out the business address for every member, which revealed a greatly expanded geographic footprint. The numbers and the new map spoke volumes, so we chose to amend our name to include the overall Katy area to better represent our growing membership.” The change was positively accepted and welcomed by the whole community.



In addition to the mobile app, a new traffic catcher page is provided to all chamber members. This is an internet page that is made specifically for each company that mirrors their current webpage but is a one stop shop for important information. This one-page link contains the business’s phone number, location, map, and business hours all in one easy to use and download page. Skilled technicians are available to help chamber members develop and update their traffic catcher pages as part of their membership.

Recent Chamber Rope Cutting Ceremonies at Local Businesses

FKACC President Don McCoy presenting at a recent chamber meeting.

“This service also provides our members with a monthly email report informing them of how many searches they matched and number of visits their page received,” says Rachel Durham, who oversees Membership Services with the FKACC. “We can then adjust search key words so that their information is matched more frequently.”


“We strive to make the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce a tangible resource for our members,” says Don McCoy. “It is very hard for people, in the midst of running their own business, to take the time to study all about marketing and networking. It is our job, here at the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce to help educate and raise members’ awareness through weekly emails and monthly chamber meetings, so that after some time, members are better equipped to handle and support their business with confidence.” While the name may have changed to include and recognize a larger area, the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce is as invested, involved, and engaged as ever. The chamber as a group are so much more than just a monthly meeting and a few emails. The team and their directors are devoted to the success and future of local businesses. They believe that representing almost 500 business is a big deal, and not something to be taken lightly. The Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to represent the large and diverse business community that makes up the Fulshear-Katy area. d


The FKACC found this the perfect time to introduce their new services to the public. Along with the new name, they have a new webpage: www.fulshearkaty. com. On top of that, they now provide a FulshearKaty Area Chamber mobile app. This FKACC specific app allows chamber members to login, submit press releases, manage their classified ads, add pictures, and refer members to one another. Non-chamber members can use the business directory to look for services and providers. This new mobile app is part of an ever-growing toolbox for all things related to the Fulshear-Katy area.


all started on a flight to Las Vegas when Bill and Jorden Briscoe Mahler, father and son owners of Briscoe Manor, had a conversation about the future of the Briscoe property on 723 in Richmond. That drawing on a paper napkin turned into a successful and unparalleled wedding and event venue nestled with large pecan trees that create the perfect backdrop and serene atmosphere. As Briscoe Manor approaches their 13th anniversary since creating their first happily ever after, Jorden reflects back on the beginning. “It was definitely a lot of hard work in the beginning with some ‘figure it out as we go’ mentality, but seeing our staff grow from just two people working every angle of the venue to our now 9 full time on-site staff; it is humbling, to say the least.”


“We are Texas all the way, but not in a cheesy, overused way.” Jorden explains that Briscoe Manor offers a subtle yet elegant rustic setting. The heritage behind the Briscoe family and land is rich and those involved with Briscoe Manor exude that ideal and make it their priority to keep that history alive. Jorden feels that the majority of the brides that choose Briscoe Manor as the place to have their wedding hold the same type of southern Christian family values, far from the bridezillas that you see on TV.

Briscoe Photo by Agape House Studio

The Next Generation of

One thing you should know is that Briscoe Manor is more than just weddings. They recently added The Barn at Briscoe Manor in 2017 that provides a space for smaller events such a corporate parties, birthday parties, anniversary dinners and bridal showers. “We also have a large paved private parking


lot that a lot of other venues just aren’t putting at the top of their priority list; they are forcing people to pay for valet for their car to sit who knows where during the events.” Jorden’s wheels are always turning to provide new ideas to keep Briscoe Manor fresh in the already hot wedding industry, especially with the rise of new event venues. He is always trying to put money back into the business. In 2015, they added Ella’s Décor Barn which is an area for booked brides to design and rent items that the Briscoe Manor staff have noticed were popular amongst their current brides. In a world of Pinterest and DIY, this creative barn allows a bride the look and feel she is going for without having to buy numerous inventory items that she has no need for after the wedding. Jorden details the purpose in explaining, “It is all about trying to make it convenient for the bride.” Additions like this are what creates that edge that Briscoe Manor has above all other local event venues. So what lies ahead? Time will tell. They are always thinking of their next venture.


Briscoe Manor’s legacy is something that is important and on the forefront of Jorden’s mind. When asked, he states, “For our legacy, I hope it’s one that created good jobs for our employees that they felt like they could take pride in and feel as though they are a part of something bigger than themselves. As for our Brides and Grooms, we treat people the way we want to be treated and that is largely proportionate to our success. Looking back, the families that choose Briscoe Manor for more than just one of their children …that’s when you know you’re doing it right.” d

Photo by Carlino’s Photography



I love thinking ahead and trying new things as a business owner.


Growing up, I thought my grandpa was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known…and he was, even with a sixth grade education.


The BIG 4-0 is happening for me this year.


Children will bring out your parents in you real quick…it’s true.


Always…be nice. I don’t care who you are, it doesn’t impress me and treat everyone the same.


Amy Briscoe Mahler was my grandma and probably the sweetest lady I have ever known.


Easton and Ella are our 5 year old twins. This year they will start kindergarten!

Photo by Jason Smelser Photography

Smoking meat on my BBQ smoker is my new favorite hobby right after hunting.

My desk is a mess, yet I know where everything is.


This year marks the 8-year Anniversary with my wife. We met in 2002 at Texas State.


My degree is actually in Criminal Justice, but someone how I managed to find myself owning a wedding venue.


Briscoe Manor is the best wedding venue in the Houston area…I like to think and I like to also think that we are the bar setter for all of the others to follow.


Jeans, boots and a cap are my attire almost daily.


October 2019 will mark our 13-year Anniversary here at Briscoe Manor, crazy how time flies.


My Dad, Bill has played a much larger part of my life than he probably realizes. He retires this year and we can’t wait to hang out with him more!

Photo by Kelly Costello Photography

Weddings • Corporate Special Events ( 2 81) 2 3 8 - 4 700 5801 FM 723 Richmond, TX 77406 i nfo @bri scoem a n or .com www. bri scoem a n or .com


RED Chicken Curry


There is nothing more warm, soulful, and nourishing than curries. These feel-good kinds of meals always leave you feeling satisfied. Curries span many regions, India, Asia, and Britain to name a few, and the ingredients are endless. From ginger to lemongrass, coconut milk to a garden array of fresh herbs and spices – curries are dishes that warm the soul. I was first introduced to curry while studying abroad in Wales. To say I was conflicted about my feelings toward the dish my host family laid in front of me one summer evening would be an understatement. The bold flavors were overwhelming to my conservative palette. However, over the past decade, I have found myself seeking out curries of all kinds. With that being said, I am often daunted by curry recipes. There are so many ingredients, many of which I have never cooked with before. After many failed attempts, I tend to leave it to the experts and order carry out. No more! I found this recipe in the September 2018 issue of Health Magazine. I garnered up some courage and gave it a whirl in the kitchen once more, and I am so glad I did. It was divine!


As the weather starts cooling off, make a big pot of this soul warming dish you will not be disappointed! d




• 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped • 1 medium-size shallot, chopped • 1 tbsp. finely chopped lemongrass • 1 ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger • ¼ cup red curry paste • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth • 1 cup coconut cream • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt, divided • 6 oz. baby bok choy (2 heads), quartered • 2 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts • ¼ tsp. black pepper Serve over jasmine rice with basil and lime wedges.

Red Chicken Curry WITH BABY BOK CHOY

PREPARATION Makes 4 servings

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add shallot, lemongrass, and ginger; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Add curry paste: cook, stirring constantly, until slightly caramelized, about 30 seconds. 2. Add chicken broth, coconut cream, and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil over mediumhigh heat, scraping bottom of pan to release browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add bok choy; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes.

4. Prepare rice according to package directions. Divide rice, curry sauce, and chicken in shallow bowls and garnish with basil and lime wedges.



3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Sprinkle chicken breasts with pepper and remaining salt. Cook until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit. About 6-7 minutes each side. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.


• Steinhauser’s •

Three generations of Service & Quality E XP LO RE. US


Family owned businesses are the backbone of our American economy. According to Business Week, about 40% of U.S. family owned businesses become second generation businesses. Surprisingly, only 13% are passed down successfully to a third generation. Steinhauser’s, a modern-day general store for those who live and love the country lifestyle, has earned the right to include themselves in this rather small percentage. What’s the secret to their success? Good ‘ol hard work driven by deep rooted passion.

• A l l i n t h e Fa m i ly •

in the grain – crawling, tunneling and burying themselves in it. For them, Steinhauser’s was an endless playground.

H. H. Steinhauser was the very best business man. He put his whole heart and soul into his seed store in Flatonia, Texas. Mr. Steinhauser was not out to make millions, he just wanted to be the best in his business. Customers were friends and his store was the hot spot in town. His son Lloyd grew up watching his dad educate customers on proper techniques and identifying the proper merchandise to raise healthy horses and livestock, as well as maintaining thriving lawns and gardens. Lloyd learned the “ins-and-outs” of the business at an early age.

As they got older, the children found themselves acquiring more and more jobs around the store. After school it was straight to the store to pick up a few hours. As David recalls, this was the routine all the way through high school. The day after graduation, David found himself back at Steinhauser’s, only this time he was a fulltime employee. “This is truly all I’ve known,” David notes. “It is not a glamorous job by any means, and you don’t get into the feed business to get rich, but it is what I really enjoy.”


In 1965 the Sealy Oil Mill went up for sale. H.H. Steinhauser purchased the mill, not with the intention of running it, but in helping his son start his own business. Originally a cotton seed processing business, H.H. expanded it to a retail feed store in 1969. In 1971 Lloyd was ready to take the reins and purchased the business from his father. Lloyd was proud to run Steinhauser’s. His entire childhood prepared him well for the road ahead. The journey was not always an easy one, but he and his wife Virginia’s strong work ethic and business skills pulled them through. Together, the couple passed these positive attributes on to their four children.

• S e rv i c e Pa r t n e r e d w i t h Q u a l i t y • H.H. Steinhauser insisted on carrying nothing but the finest feeds in the industry. Not only that, he also provided first class service to all of his customers. Lloyd, David and Mike Steinhauser have continued the family tradition of service and quality at all nine of their locations. In fact, if you do not see what you are looking for in store, they will do their best to find it and order it. They even have you covered for all of your bulk feed and delivery needs! “We know that we are not the only people doing what we are doing – there are other places people could go and buy our products,” says David Steinhauser. “People often choose where to shop based on quality of service over anything else, and we want to be the one customers choose.”

David and Mike Steinhauser have chosen to follow their father Lloyd and join the family business. “From a very young age I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” says David Steinhauser. “I never really considered anything else.” The love and pride the Steinhauser family has for their business shows to any and all who walk through their doors. How else can one open nine successful locations in such a short period of time?

• G r ow i n g u p i n t h e S t o r e • David Steinhauser cherishes the time he spent growing up in the store. His dad was his idol. “I can remember getting up each morning as a kid, excited to join my parents at the store for the day,” shares David. At the beginning it was all in fun. David and his siblings had no problem keeping themselves entertained while their parents were busy with customers. They enjoyed playing

• Learning from the Best • The success of the Steinhauser brand is attributed to strong family ties. While Lloyd, Mike and David run different locations, they operate as a team when overseeing the company as a whole. “My grandfather was one of the hardest working people I have ever known,” remembers David. “He truly came from nothing and in turn created a life for himself and future generations.” H.H. Steinhauser never expected instant gratification. He knew that success comes from hard work, passion and sacrifice. David says proudly, “Mike and I learned what it takes to run a successful business from our father and grandfather.” With their dedication and attention to service, Steinhauser’s will certainly continue the legacy and see a fourth generation! d

STEINHAUSER’S • Built by Quality Products & Great Customer Service • www.steinhausers.com


Mike, Kyle, Lloyd and David Steinhauser

Steinhauser’s knowledgeable employees are able to answer questions and point you in the right direction. They provide so much more than just a product, they share experience and tried and true practices.






hat was it about the city of Fulshear that drew you in? For many, it was Fulshear’s small town feel and undeniable charm. It is here where families can acquire sizable property and experience a bit of the country, all while being a short drive away from the city and its multitude of amenities. As Houston continues to push westward and Fulshear grows, open acreage become harder to come by. Nestled along a bend in the Brazos River, Laprada Landing offers that much needed escape from busy city life. This Highland Resources property, located just three miles southeast of Fulshear, is unlike anything else. With 720 acres divided into just nine tracts, buyers will

have the unique opportunity to let their imaginations run wild. The vast views of wildlife, flowers and mature trees draped in delicate Spanish moss overlooking the river, paint a picture of nature at its finest. Whether it be intended as the family ranch, or a second home away from downtown, Laprada Landing is what everyone is talking about.


Laprada is no ordinary piece of land, it is part of Texas’ rich history. Its unique narrative begins in 1824 when David Randon and Isaac Pennington acquired land from Stephen F. Austin, joining the prominent group of







Texas’ first settlers – the Old Three Hundred. Randon and his wife Nancy McNeel ran a successful plantation on the property until 1859 when they sold the land. After being passed through a few more hands over the years, Highland acquired the 2,000 acres in the late 1970’s. After thirty years of cattle ranching operations, the decision was made to market the southernmost 720 acres. While they could easily sell to a residential developer who would likely strip away the property of its charm, displacing the wildlife and thinning out the trees, Highland has chosen to divide the acreage into nine tracts, ranging from 60 to 105 acres. “We have owned this property for over thirty years, so we have had a long time to think about its future,” says Charles Wolcott, President and CEO. “It was never in the cards to do a development property, it is just too pretty.” In fact,


they have incorporated protective covenants within the deed to ensure that the location remains secluded and not built up like the tightly packed communities nearby. For example, only one residence is allowed per 60 acres and every home site must be set back off the road a minimum of 300 feet. Highland is so proud of the property’s legacy, that they have taken it a step further and applied through the Fort Bend Historical Commission for a historical marker. They are pleased to say that just recently they have been accepted. The marker will be called the Randon and Pennington Grant of 1824. Charles is pleased knowing that it is no longer hearsay, it is proven historic record. “We hope that by acquiring this historical marker people see the deep history tied to the property and that they are not just buying a piece of ranch land, but a piece of Texas history.”




“We are excited to be involved with this property,” shares Gloria Catalani, operations manager at Highland. “I even find myself escaping the city and relaxing amongst the vast wilderness just to get away from the day to day strife.” This comes as no surprise because the aura of Laprada Landing is truly magical. There the air smells sweeter, the grass is greener and the stars seem to shine brighter. Situated on newly named Laprada Trace, a county road that dead-ends within Laprada Landing, buyers can rest assured that there will be no through traffic. Majestic pecans, live oaks and water oaks cover the property. In the spring, the area is draped in color thanks to the beautiful Texas wildflowers. “The river is the large selling point – the gem,” says Charles. There are no land locked tracts. All nine front a large stretch of the Brazos and have buildable home sites. The land is perpetually preserved and protected from dense development as portions of this property are within floodway and floodplain delineations that were finalized by FEMA in 2014. Highland was looking for a name as unique as the property itself – something evocative of the feel of the land. Laprada is a play on words of the Spanish word la pradera, meaning meadow. The name has since been trademarked as to remain unique to the property.


“We want to be different than anything else in the area, but still blend in,” notes Gloria. “We are working to create understated country elegance in a unique and secluded location.” Located right around the corner from the highly sought after Fulshear area, and only 40 miles west of Houston, there will be no sacrifice of the desirable amenities city living brings. Residents will be minutes from local stores and restaurants. This kind of property is hard to find. Laprada Landing is a place you can go to escape, to breathe, to be closer with nature – and call home. A place with as rich a history as this is meant to be preserved and enjoyed. It is now time for a new generation to be part of that legacy. d

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For more information about LAPRADA LANDING contact

MIKE ROLLER at (281) 346-0222








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