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REDLAND ROAD set to continue EXPANSION throughout project PG.17 Traffic delays

MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016








Boutique features fashions, wares for infants and young children



State petitioned to review SAWS rate hikes PG.15


A variety of kernels bursting with unique flavors

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PG. 03 SUSAN YERKES It’s getting harder, more expensive to maintain lawns during blistering summers

PG. 04 LOCAL EDITORIAL Safety and courtesy ensure two- and four-legged visitors enjoy city’s off-leash dog parks


MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016



SINCE 1954.


President Harold J. Lees Publisher Gregg Rosenfield

Assoc. Publisher Rick Upton Director of Operations Jaselle Luna

EDITORIAL Executive Editor Thomas Edwards Managing Editor Will Wright News Staff Collette Orquiz and Bain Serna Contributing Writers Ron Aaron Eisenberg, Emeline Lakrout, Edmond Ortiz, Arthur Schechter and Susan Yerkes ART Creative Director Florence D. Edwards Contributing Photographer Rudy B. Ornelas ADVERTISING Account Manager Amber Montemayor



Controller Gracie Cortinez

READER SERVICE Mailing Address 4204 Gardendale St., Ste. 201, SA, TX 78229 Phone Fax (210) 338.8842 (210) 616.9677 Advertising Inquiries jluna@localcommunitynews.com Story Ideas: tips@salocallowdown.com Website: www.salocallowdown.com LOCAL Community News publications Zone 1: 78204, 78205, 78209, 78210, 78212, 78215 Zone 2: 78213, 78230, 78231, 78248, 78249 Zone 3: 78216, 78232, 78247 Zone 4/5: 78109, 78148, 78233, 78239, 78108, 78132, 78154, 78266 Zone 7: 78015, 78023, 78255, 78256, 78257 For advertising, customer service or editorial, please call us at 210-338-8842 or write to us at: Local Community News 4204 Gardendale St., Ste. 201 San Antonio, TX 78229


Reproduction in whole or in part without our permission is prohibited, 2016 Helen Publishing LLC and Local Community News LLC, all rights reserved.

Notice something a little different?


harp-eyed readers may have noticed something a little different about the edition they hold in their hands. Yes, the newspaper is a little smaller. We have trimmed the size of the pages by 1.5 inches. Not to worry, because the slightly tweaked version you now have in your possession in no way detracts from all the great news stories, events, features and other items the audience of LOCAL Community News has come to know and love. Nothing is diminished except the actual size of the newsprint on which the paper is printed. Why the change? There are a number of reasons. For one, LOCAL offers newspaperstyle content, but with a magazine look and feel. This new design is in keeping with and maintaining more of a magazine appearance. Also, we have learned from talking to our peers at industry conventions this practice is not unusual and is even part of a national trend. Any savings we see will be minimal. We remain committed to serving the information needs of our neighbors. Of course, we’re not the only area newspaper to change the size of its pages. We’re just catching up. Let us know what you think.

THOMAS EDWARDS EXECUTIVE EDITOR ON THE COVER: In spite of some objections by parents and religious groups, the North East Independent School District board voted to update its sex education curriculum for the 15,000 middle school students it serves. Abstinence is still taught as the best way to avoid pregnancies and disease. See story on page 13. Courtesy photo




grown up with a mental picture of the ideal American house, complete with a wide front lawn. Each May, whole sections of stores fill up with plants and lawn-care accessories. We’re barraged with advertisements touting the glories of yards carpeted in lush, lovely, wiggle-your-toes-in-it grass. Maintaining a lawn takes a whole lot of water – about 300 gallons just to irrigate 1,000 square feet of grass at half an inch. In hot, dry climates, evaporation sucks up a lot before it’s even absorbed. In the summer, up to 50 percent of household use goes toward outdoor watering. That’s not counting swimming pools. The average outdoor pool takes 18,000 gallons to fill, and loses 1,000 gallons or more to evaporation each month. In comparison, the average home served by the San Antonio Water System uses about 7,100 gallons of water monthly. Some folks just give up and let the grass die. Others conserve, watering just enough to keep the grass on life support, or creating hardy, native xeriscapes. Still others go for broke, watering as much as their towns

Green grass is nice, but at what cost? by SUSAN YERKES


he long, hot South Texas summer is back. It’s a good time to seek air-conditioned respite, lounge in a shady backyard or dive into a cool pool. It’s also a good time to think seriously about the price we all pay for lovely lawns, plantings and pools in the land of blistering heat. Thick green lawns are beautiful, no doubt about it. Many of us have

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and cities allow, and sometimes more. While the cost of water steadily has risen, it’s still a good deal. However, as growth continues, and sustained drought and increasing temperatures stress the Edwards Aquifer, it will only get pricier. Bexar County is projected to add as many as a million more residents by 2025. That’s a lot more people taking showers, flushing toilets, running washing machines and dishwashers … and watering lawns. As we grow, new developments are spreading like wildfire on the city’s outskirts. As water demand escalates, SAWS is focused on the hotter, drier future. A new, state-of-the-art groundwater desalination plant rising on the South Side is a plus. Yet, the real whopper of a water deal is the Vista Ridge pipeline proposal, which SAWS predicts could bring us up to 16 billion gallons a year from Burleson County’s Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. The water company wants to make sure we have an abundant supply for years to come … not a bad thing. Yet, all the new water is going to cost us. By 2020, SAWS estimates the average residential

customer’s monthly water and sewer bill could increase by as much as 50 percent. What can we as individuals do to help conserve our most vital natural resource? In the past few decades, San Antonians have curtailed usage, thanks to increased public education, water-saving technologies and xeriscaping. Recently, SAWS CEO Robert Puente told the City Council over those years, conservation alone has preserved as much water as we’d get from three Vista Ridge pipelines combined. Keep conserving! Find alternatives to green, grassy lawns. Check your pipes and sprinklers for leaks. Locate tons of tips online at saws.org. Talk to people – including elected officials — about saving water, both as residents and as a city. Austin just passed an ordinance limiting use of sprinkler systems year-round to once a week. District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg tried to pass something similar for San Antonio, but the political will isn’t there — yet. If you’re a water-saver, email me your methods. syerkes@localcommunitynews.com


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MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016

OUR TURN Views and opinions about your community

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Keep dog parks safe


here is no doubt San Antonio’s off-leash dog parks greatly benefit canines and owners, but visitors — both two- and four-legged versions — must exercise caution and courtesy to promote safety. A story in this edition of LOCAL Community News highlights the joys and terrors of frequenting such places. While the city’s Animal Care Services reports dog-on-dog attacks are few, at least one tearful young woman said she would never return to the canine recreational area at Hardberger Park after her Pomeranian was mauled to death by another dog. Such accounts are heartbreaking; for many of us; pets are like family. However,

there are ways to avoid these tragedies. First, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Second, learn your animal’s body language. Know how to spot warning signs indicating the dog is about to become aggressive. If your furry friend is hostile toward other animals, come to the park when it is less crowded. At the venue, don’t leave your animal tethered, as this only makes it harder for Fido to run or maneuver if attacked. Also, if you and your pet are unaccustomed to a dog park, find a smaller, less-crowded park to get started. Owners should also exercise patience with other owners. Finally, don’t forget to clean up your pet’s messes. If you’re a pet owner, help make area dog parks safe for everybody. Follow these tips so everyone can enjoy a good time outside with man’s best friend.

-The Local Community News editorial board includes Harry Lees, Gregg Rosenfield and Thomas Edwards.

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Plan your month with our calendar of upcoming events in the community.





PAPERCRAFTING AND SCRAPBOOK CLUB Visit the Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, from 1-6 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month for an afternoon of paper therapy. Begin with a demonstration of a technique, layout idea or project, and then work on your own paper projects such as cardmaking or scrapbooking. All expertise levels welcome. Registration is required. For more, call 207-2703.

MAY 28 & JUNE 25

RELIGIOUS LEARNING On Tuesdays, Summit Christian Center, 2575 Marshall Road, hosts a six-week summer Bible study for women from 10 a.m. to noon titled “Journey with the Holy Spirit.” For more, contact Katie Saylor at ktlynn2005@ hotmail.com or call 408-2640.

MAY 31 - JULY 5

DEALING WITH GRIEF On Thursdays, Summit Christian Center, 2575 Marshall Road, hosts a six-week support group from 6:30-8:30 p.m. called “Life After Loss.” For more, call Michelle Ramirez at 683-8282 or email griefcare@summitsa.com.


SUMMER SPORTS Boys and girls, aged 3-14, can enroll in various activities including soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball and basketball. The Mays Family YMCA, 21654 Blanco Road, hosts the June 13-July 29 sessions. Deadline to register is June 3. For more, visit ymcasatx.org/mays or call 497-7088.


SCHOOL’S OUT Summer vacation begins for students 3 in the North East and Comal independent school districts.




COMMENCEMENTS Reagan and Johnson high school graduates will receive




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diplomas beginning at 7:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on June 5 and June 7, respectively. Both ceremonies will take place in the Freeman Coliseum, 3201 E. Houston St. For more, visit www.neisd.net. ENCINO PARK OVER 50 CLUB For folks a half-century old, come to the Encino Park Community Center, 1923 Encino Rio St., at 11:30 a.m. the first and third Tuesday of the month for fun activities including tours, dinner gatherings and events. For more, call Dyan Montesclaros at 481-7890.

JUNE 7, 21

TOUR OF HOMES Independence Village, 20550 8 Huebner Road, will conduct an open house from 10 a.m. to noon. The resort-style development with full-service and assisted-living residences for seniors will offer a champagne brunch, too. RSVP by June 6. For more, call 209-8956 or visit www.independencevillage.com.


ENCINO PARK GAME DAY Come to the Encino Park Community Center, 1923 Encino Rio St., at 1:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month for various game-related activities. Non-Encino Park residents are welcome, too. For more, contact Dyan Montesclaros at 481-7890.


MILITARY WELCOME From September to June, 11 American Legion Post 10 holds a breakfast meeting 8-9:30 a.m. the second Saturday of every month at The Egg & I, 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., Suite 314. All military, active and veterans, as well as spouses and guests, are invited. For more, email Hector Cavazos, post commander, at hcavazospost10@ yahoo.com or call 325-5627.


HAPPENING continues on pg. 06


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MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016

HAPPENING continues from pg. 05 RELIGIOUS STUDIES FOR KIDS Fellowship of San 12-15 The Antonio, 23755 Canyon Golf Road, will conduct Vacation Bible School from 6-8:30 p.m. for children entering kindergarten through sixth grade. To register, visit www. thefellowshipofsa.org. For more, call Jennifer Morgan at 326-0122 or contact jennifer@thefellowshipofsa.org.


NEISD BOARD The next JUNE meeting of North East 13 Independent School District trustees is 5:30 p.m. at 8961 Tesoro Drive. To confirm dates and times of sessions normally scheduled on the second Monday of the month, call 407-0533. SEW BEE IT The club meets JUNE on the second Tuesday of the 14 month at the Encino Park Community Center, 1923 Encino Rio St., from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Bring a power strip or extension cord. For

more, email Sylvia Jolet at sjolet@ earthlink.net or call 497-3383. GLOBAL VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL Youngsters, aged 14-16 5 through sixth-graders, are invited to attend the three-day free event from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Church Children’s Ministry, 18755 Stone Oak Parkway. Daily activities will include Bible lessons, songs, games and special guests. No cost for lunch and snacks. For more including registration information, visit www.sacornerstone.org/vbs.


PUPPET PLAY Hey kids, Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, 14 known for international folktales and regional historical fiction, often with live music, will perform in the Encino Branch Library meeting room, 2515 E. Evans Road, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are required. They go on sale June 7 for the two performances of “The Fisherman and His Wife.” For more, call 207-9250.


AGE IS JUST A NUMBER The Encino Older Adults 17 Club explores the Seven Wonders of the World on the third Friday of the month at 2 p.m. in the Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road. Admission is free. For more, call 2079250 or contact Barbara Kwiatkowski at barbara.kwiatkowski@sanantonio.gov.


DISTRICT 9 NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE Meetings are 22 usually held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in Stone Oak Methodist Hospital, 1139 E. Sonterra Blvd., classroom No. 1. The hospital is just off U.S. 281 North. For more, call Art Downey, alliance president, at 497-8873.


CISD MEETING Comal Independent School District 23 trustees gather at 6 p.m. in the Support Services Administrative Offices boardroom, 1404 Interstate 35 North in New Braunfels. For more, visit www.comalisd.org.


CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT The Parman Branch Library, 23 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, will host a production by Sandback’s Shadow Factory. The show, “A Wild Goose Chase,” lights up the imagination of young and old alike. Tickets for the 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. performances are required. They will be available on a firstcome, first-served basis beginning June 18 at 10 a.m. For more, call 207-2703.


EXPLORING FOSSILS Discover paleontology 28 with “Dinosaur George” at the Encino Branch Library meeting room, 2515 E. Evans Road, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are required. They go on sale June 21 for the two sessions. For more, call 207-9250.


SHAPING UP FOR A NEW YOU MONDAYS While the Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, usually exercises your mind,

HAPPENING continues on pg. 07


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ENCINO CINEMA PRESENTS: SUNDAY MATINEE The Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road, will show a film suitable for the whole family at 2 p.m. For movie titles and more, call 2079250 or contact Barbara Kwiatkowski at barbara.kwiatkowski@sanantonio.gov.


come work your body from 10-11 a.m. A San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department instructor will lead a class in low-impact circuit training. The session will focus on agility and flexibility. For more, call 207-2703. TEEN TIME From 6-8 p.m., TUESDAYS the Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, hosts a potpourri of activities for teenagers, 13-18. Everything from board games to crafting to cooking could be on the agenda. Have fun, chill out and make new friends. For more, contact 207-2703. SO, YOU THINK WEDNESDAYS YOU CAN SEW For an afternoon of advice and conversation leaving you in stitches, the Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road, hosts experienced sewing enthusiasts from 12:30-3 p.m. The Hand Bee is a close-knit group of adults and seniors. For more, call 207-9250. DOG-EARED BOOKS WEDNESDAYS Come to the Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road, from 3-4 p.m. and read to a certified therapy dog. Bring your favorite animal story or choose one off the shelves. Even children not yet reading can narrate a wordless book. For more, call 207-9250. JOIN THE FITNESS KICK SATURDAYS The Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road, tests your body at noon and 12:30 p.m. Learn martial arts from a third-degree black-belt instructor. This program teaches basics while improving strength, flexibility, conditioning and balance. Coordinated by Fitness in the Park, sessions are free and families are encouraged to participate together. The 30-minute class is limited to 30 attendees. For more, call 207-9250. CHECK THIS OUT Whether SUNDAYS you’re just learning or a grand master, the Parman Pawn Stars invite you to play chess for free. Kindergartners to high school seniors are welcome. The group meets at the Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, from 2-4 p.m. For more, call 207-2703.

NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN More than schoolchildren can gain knowledge. The North East Independent School District Community Education program presents a multitude of enriching courses for adults. Most classes are taught in NEISD facilities or the district’s Community Learning Center, 8750 Tesoro Drive. For more, visit https://communityed.neisd.net or call Carrie Smith, NEISD Community Education Coordinator, at 401-0140.


JAVA WITH JOE ONGOING District 9 Councilman Joe Krier meets with the public at his field office, 16500 U.S. 281 North, Suite 290 (at Thousand Oaks Drive). Resident appointments, in 15-minute intervals, are 9-11 a.m. For more regarding selected dates and reserving time, contact district9@sanantonio.gov or call 207-0955. GOODWILL PICKUPS ONGOING Goodwill Industries offers donation pickup services for large amounts of clothing, household items and furniture at Bexar County residences. For more, call 271-8881 or fill out pickup forms available at www. goodwillsa.org/home-pickup-services.

ELSEWHERE IN SAN ANTONIO FORD LUCKY DUCK RACE Come to the River Walk by the 4 Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a free concert and more. Attendees can adopt (purchase) rubber duckies, where one lucky duck will win a two-year lease for a Ford Fiesta. Attendance not mandatory. Proceeds benefit the San Antonio Food Bank. For more and to also “adopt” ducks beforehand online, visit www.TheSanAntonioRiverWalk.com.



the details along with your contact information two months in advance to tips@localcommunitynews.com.




Ask U About s O Fire An ur Contro t l



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MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016



Take a quick look at what’s new in the community from opening and closings to news tidbits.

Open and Opening Soon 1. KIDDO KIDDO, 19141 Stone Oak



Parkway, Suite 109, offers high-end, modern styles in baby and young childrens clothing, including dresses, blouses, shorts, skirts and sun-protective swimwear. It also features clothing accessories, wooden toys, basinets, crib bedding and more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. For more, call 973-5797. (See story on page 20)


RAI ed entrance wit S SING CANE



2. PINKS POPCORN, 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, Suite 303, is a family-run and operated business offering customers unique gourmet-popcorn entrees the owners say “crafts kernels into tasty morsels of happiness.” Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more, call 468-5533,

25% OFF



Name of local business

visit pinkspopcorn.com or email info@ pinkspopcorn.com. (See story on page 21)


offers customized lawn-care programs and customer service in Bexar, Guadalupe and Comal counties. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more, call 651-1698 or visit www. lawndoctor.com/sanantonio-tx.

4. ROYAL PIZZA, 523 Med Court, Suite 102, recently opened a Stone Oakarea location, offering Swedish-style pizzas, salads, calzones and sandwiches

LOWDOWN continues on pg. 09



*New customers only. Offer not valid with any other discount or coupon. Must present coupon to recieve discount. Expires December 2016.

Address of local business

We are currently Looking for Suite Renters (Cosmetologist, Nail Technician & Estheticians).


Book Your Party, End of Year or Summer Group Event NOW! (210) 697-JUMP www.Altitudesa.com 11075 IH-10 West Ste. 126 Located next to the Regal 14 Movie Theater in Huebner Oaks

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SALOCALLOWDOWN.COM LOWDOWN continues from pg. 08 plus other fare. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and noon to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more, call 332-5857 or visit royalpizzasanantonio.com.

IN OTHER NEWS AREA EDUCATION TRUSTEES KEPT THEIR SEATS during May 7 elections. North East Independent School District voters returned two incumbents to previous spots. Board Secretary Sandy Hughey defeated Chris Herring and Melissa Martinez White in District 1, while Board Vice President Shannon Grona downed Roger Fisher in District 5. Both victors – along with unopposed incumbents Jim Wheat (District 4) and Tony Jaso (District 6) – were sworn in during a May board meeting. Alamo Colleges’ incumbents survived challenges. Board Secretary Joe Alderete toppled Adan Hernandez in District 1; District 2 incumbent Denver McClendon bested Elmo Aycock, Viviana Valdez Sandoval and Marc Deadrick;

Board Chairwoman and District 3 Trustee Anna Uriegas Bustamante topped Joschua Beres and Anthony Alcoser; and District 4 incumbent Marcelo Casillas defeated Phillip “Felipe” Vargas. Two Comal Independent School District trustees – Marty Bartlett in District 6 and Board Vice President Cody Mueller in District 7 – were unopposed in re-election bids. THE SPRING TOUR OF HOMES, SPONSORED BY THE GREATER SAN ANTONIO BUILDERS ASSOCIATION, FEATURED MANY NEW LOCAL RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITIES in the U.S. 281 North/Stone Oak area subdivisions including Hidden Canyon, Shavano Highlands, Smithson Ridge, Johnson Ranch, Terra Bella, Willis Ranch, Fossil Ridge, Kinder Ranch, Cibolo Canyons, Coronado, Indian Springs and Mountain Lodge. Builders included Ashton Woods Homes, Chesmar Homes, Coventry Homes, Sitterle Homes, Dale Sauer Homes, Japhet Builders, Monticello Homes, Rialto Homes, McNair Custom Homes, Highland Homes, Ryland Homes,

Scott Felder Homes, Whitestone Custom Homes and David Weekley Homes. The event, held May 7-8 and May 11-15, featured a total of 22 San Antonio-area communities and more than 80 houses constructed by local homebuilders. TWO LOCAL EDUCATORS RECEIVED TOP HONORS WHEN the North East Independent School District celebrated its teachers during a May 4 banquet at The Club at Sonterra. The fete, held during National Teacher Appreciation Week, honored 72 NEISD instructors. Secondary Teacher of the Year was W. Patrick Cunningham of Johnson High School. All campus Teachers of the Year received plaques, $100 checks and more. “It is only fitting that tonight we celebrate our great teachers,” said Superintendent Brian Gottardy. “It has been said that teaching is an art, it has been said that it is a calling, or maybe a passion, I believe it is a combination of all three. ... Your impact on the future is truly transformational.”

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LOWDOWN continues on pg. 10

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LOWDOWN continues from pg. 09


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NEISD’s top area high school instructors included Wade Larson (NEISD Academy of Creative Education); Stacie Koehler (NEISD Alternative Center); the aforementioned Cunningham; Ashley Taplin (NEISD International School of the Americas); Loren Spencer (Reagan), and Donna Legendre-Hoffman (Behavior Support Services Program/North East Transition Services). Top area middle school teachers included Amy Henning (“Tex” Hill); Christina Almeda (NEISD Alternative Center); Timothy Matthews (Driscoll); Mikel Brand (Tejeda); Roxanne Jenke (Lopez) and Amanda Taylor (Bush). Top area elementary school educators included Michele Saenz (Bulverde Creek); Kellie Spencer (Canyon Ridge); Aimee Kelly (Cibolo Green); Kay Beth Barr (Encino Park); Annie Tiller (Hardy Oak); Karli Witkowski, (Redland Oaks); Anna Barton (Roan Forest); Laura Mendez (Steubing Ranch); Kelli Terrell (Stone Oak); Erin Johnson (Tuscany Heights); Elsa Apolinar (Vineyard Ranch); Jessica

MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016 Portlock (Wilderness Oak) and Amber Carroll (Las Lomas). Elementary Teacher of the Year was Haydee Canela of Oak Meadow Elementary School. AEROPOSTALE’S STONE OAK LOCATION IS AMONG hundreds of stores set to close after the national retail outfitter filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company shuttered all its Canadian shops and 20 percent of its North American businesses. Included is the local spot at the Village at Stone Oak, according to published reports by The Associated Press and USA Today. Also targeted are five other Texas venues. USA Today said the company’s liquidation moves, begun in early May and scheduled to last six to eight weeks, would help offset $17 million in 2015 losses. GIFTED AND TALENTED FIFTH-GRADERS from six North East Independent School District campuses attended an April 28 Think-a-Thon at Tejeda Middle School. Included in the fourth annual competition were nearly 100 pupils

from Bulverde Creek, Cibolo Green, Encino Park, Hardy Oak, Las Lomas and Roan Forest elementary schools. THE NEW NORTH EAST SPORTS PARK held its first event May 3 featuring teams of North East Independent School District administrators and Pfluger Architects. The softball fundraiser benefiting the North East Educational Foundation, titled “Softball With the Superintendent,” included two contests pitting the architectural company against NEISD Superintendent Brian Gottardy and district leaders. Purchased by Pfluger Architects as an auction item for $6,000 during February’s NEEF gala, the event also involved music from students at Tejeda, “Tex” Hill and Nimitz middle schools, and district high school cheerleaders and mascots. THROUGH COLLECTION BOXES AND SPECIAL FUNDRAISING EVENTS, “Tex” Hill Middle School students raised more

LOWDOWN continues on pg. 11

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received $1,500 and a Tiffany & Co. crystal apple included fifth-grade instructors at North East Independent School District’s Bulverde Creek Elementary and Comal Independent School District’s Indian Springs Elementary, Javier Melendez and Pamela Blair, respectively. The award celebrates area public school teachers – prekindergarten through 12th grade – for outstanding classroom performances and educational leadership in their institutions and school districts.

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landlines. The preliminary plan allows current 210 area code customers to retain their numbers. Beginning in November 2017, new customers will be assigned numbers in the new area code, which could be announced later this summer. If approved, all customers will be required to dial 10-digit local calls and 11-digit long distance calls. A six-month period allowing either seven- or 10-digit local calls will end in October 2017, when mandatory 10-digit local calls will precede activation of the new area code.

San Antonio Humane Society; and civic and community leader Nancy Loeffler. THE COMAL INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT SELECTED 2016 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR and bestowed other honors during ceremonies April 15. Johnson Ranch Elementary physicaleducation coach James Fry was named Rookie Teacher of the Year.

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The North East Independent School District's update of sex-education curriculum for its 15,000 middleschool students is designed to stress abstinence before marriage. The school district worked with the city’s Metropolitan Health District to develop the program. Photo illustration by Rudy B. Ornelas

NEISD continues from pg. 01

Abstinence taught by WILL WRIGHT


orth East Independent School District trustees on May 9 unanimously updated the district’s middle school sex-education curriculum – which isn’t being embraced by all residents.

“The student population at NEISD is very diverse, which means we have to create a curriculum that will reach all of our students,” said Aubrey Chancellor, a spokeswoman for the district. “Unfortunately, some of our students will only receive this information in school, as they might not have people at home to explain it to them.” While most public input generated during the monthslong process supported the district’s approach, others oppose any sex-ed program that offers students

NEISD continues on pg. 14

UPDATING CURRICULUM The Texas Education Code dictates course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS, will be selected by school district trustees on advice from their local school health advisory councils. The code states the curriculum must address the following: n Present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior for unmarried persons of school age n Devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior n Emphasize abstinence from sexual activity as the only 100 percent-effective method in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS, and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity; direct adolescents toward accepting abstinence from sexual activity before marriage n Teach contraception and condom use in terms of human-use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in curriculum content n School districts will not distribute condoms in connection with instruction relating to human sexuality Source: NEISD

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NEISD continues from pg. 13 options other than abstinence. Opponents said the curriculum is geared more toward boys than girls, and its information on contraceptives promotes sexual activity. “North East ISD should offer a leading sex-ed program, one that evidence indicates is effective across all ages, gender and race,” said Gerard Ripley, pastor at Abundant Life Church. “The new program should be selected from the best program – not one that doesn’t help girls.” NEISD first launched middle school sex education 20 years ago. The district’s School Health Advisory Council reviews and updates sex-ed curriculum every three years, according to state law. Chancellor said SHAC, comprised of parents, community members, district officials and teachers, publichealth advisers and clergy members, recommended “Draw the Line/Respect the Line,” from four proposed programs. District officials said it’s an evidencebased approach – backed by research – in teaching human sexuality and abstinence for grades six through eight. The curriculum, which follows state recommendations and district requirements, also addresses current trends such as social media and sexting. Students can participate in five to seven 50-minute lessons, which include guest speakers and role-playing scenarios. Critics said the content needs to include more information for girls. “It does nothing to help girls modify their sexual behavior,” Ripley said. “A tragic consequence is that the most vulnerable people, those girls without parental assistance and home involvement, will be misled.” Since 2011, NEISD has continuously revised approaches toward preventing teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, infections associated with HIV and AIDS, and emotional traumas associated with adolescent sexual activity. Chancellor said NEISD requires each student receive parental permission prior to receiving sex-ed information, and that 98 percent of guardians have consented. NEISD has always stressed abstinence as “the only 100 percenteffective option” in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies. “However, we also give additional tools

MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016 for students to use in the event they make a different decision,” she added. “The state mandates that if you are teaching health, you must also include information on barrier methods.” While students are advised on forms of contraceptives, NEISD doesn’t instruct pupils on how to use them, Chancellor added. In 2013, the latest available figures, NEISD’s teen pregnancy rates – fewer than 20 births per 1,000 students from the ages of 15 and 19 – were among the lowest in Bexar County. The number of reported pregnancies at NEISD high schools totaled 190 in 2012-13; 186 in 2013-14; 182 in 2014-15; and 141 through April 19, according to statistics compiled by the district’s Teen Parenting Program. NEISD students have voiced their support for pregnancyprevention programs. “There needs to be a program in our schools that teaches us how to prevent teen pregnancy,” said a sophomore at Madison High School. “Parents can tell their children not to have sex, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to listen to them.” Patrick Von Dohlen, a parent of nine – including seven who attend NEISD schools – said parents, not the district, are responsible for educating their children. “This is a black-and-white issue. It’s a matter of stepping over parental rights – especially when it comes to middle-schoolers,” he said. NEISD worked with the city’s Metropolitan Health District to develop a sex-ed program. The district receives a city grant that provides teacher training during the first year of the program in 2016-17. Kellie Gretschel, executive director of San Antonio Coalition for Life, also urged board members to delay their decision, saying “the agreement assured NEISD’s cooperation with city programs, which were not vetted by the (SHAC) committee or subcommittees.” In the end, the board went with SHAC’s recommendation. “We want to make sure all of our students know all of the information and all of the consequences,” said Rachel Naylor, NEISD’s director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics.


SALOCALLOWDOWN.COM SAWS continues from pg. 01

Water utility looking to save money, spokeswoman says by WILL WRIGHT


long with fighting efforts to annex their communities, north Bexar County residents living outside the city have petitioned the state to re-examine rate increases imposed by the San Antonio Water System.

outside the city,” said resident Michael Soulek. “You’re paying more, depending on where you live.” Stone Oak neighbors joined other inhabitants in unincorporated Bexar County areas to sign a petition, delivered to the Public Utility Commission of Texas on March 30. “While SAWS has legitimate needs to update infrastructure and add a desalination plant, we’re asking the (PUC) to consider whether their rate increases are reasonable and just,” said community activist Greg Brockhouse, who filed the request. Brockhouse collected 6,088 signatures from residents in Stone

Oak, Helotes, Alamo Ranch and elsewhere, seeking relief from the latest hikes, and reversal of a state law prohibiting those in unincorporated areas from appealing utility decisions approved by City Council. SAWS and PUC officials confirm they’re verifying petition names to meet the required 5,500 for further consideration. PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said deadlines have been set for filed responses by petitioners and respondents before the case goes before an administrative law judge in early July. Meanwhile, the prices are within industry standards, utility officials said. “SAWS’s rates, as set by the city of San

Antonio, are just and reasonable,” said company spokeswoman Anne Hayden. “SAWS is obligated to ensure that there is sufficient, reliable and affordable water for its customers, and the (PUC) will allow SAWS to recover its costs to meet its obligations. We are confident that the rates proposed by SAWS and unanimously approved by San Antonio City Council are appropriate.” The petition is being studied, she added. “Certain people filed an appeal to the Public Utilities Commission on April 18 regarding water and sewer

SAWS continues on pg. 16


Stone Oak-area customers – already absorbing rising water charges since SAWS’s merger with Bexar Metropolitan Water District in 2012 – began receiving elevated bills in January. “It was such a significant increase, it seems it penalizes people who live


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SAWS continues from pg. 15 rates for SAWS customers outside the city limits,” Hayden added. “Since then, a team of SAWS staffers have been reviewing the signatures on the petition, and will submit the results to the (PUC).” That was expected to take place May 27. SAWS’s adjusted rate tables, approved by the council last November, went into effect beginning 2016, raising residential customers’ average monthly bills from $51.75 to $58.60. Incremental yearly increases will see advances to $81.73 by 2020. “We feel like SAWS isn’t going in a good direction,” said David Diharce, another Stone Oak resident. “There are a lot of people who have seen their water bills go up – some from between $40 to $400 a month.” Hayden said the raises are needed to help address the following: n SAWS’s portion in the $3 billion, 142-mile Vista Ridge pipeline, slated to begin delivering water from Burleson County in 2020. Within 30

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MAY 30 - JUNE 27, 2016 years, the line will eventually supply nearly 20 percent of city needs. n A $411 million desalination plant and pipeline under construction in south Bexar County. When completed this fall, it will deliver 12 million gallons daily to residential and commercial customers. n Infrastructure improvements for chilled water, water delivery, wastewater and water supply, projected to total $247 million in 2016. n A $492 million investment in sewer system spillage prevention and infrastructure, in compliance with an Environmental Protection Agency agreement. “There are multiple things (behind) this rate increase, and we’re behind the desalination plant,” Brockhouse said. “We have major problems with (the) Vista Ridge project; the (EPA) infrastructure issues are something the city should have to deal with.” The union with BexarMet added more than 100,000 SAWS consumers. While former BexarMet customers retained the utility’s existing rates,

Hayden said the new alignment required additional local, state and federal fees for sewage, water disposal and other expenses. She said all SAWS patrons would pay the same rates as of Jan. 1, 2017. Since merging, Hayden said SAWS spent millions picking up BexarMet’s tab, which accrued debt in its final years. None of that cost was passed on to former BexarMet customers, she added. Recently, SAWS board members approved a measure to lock in interest rates for the utility’s share of the Vista Ridge project, which they believe could save as much as $450 million. The utility couldn’t forecast what impact those savings might have on future rates, but added board members will explore additional Vista Ridge costreduction policies in upcoming weeks. “When we set up new rates, it’s all about considering the future,” Hayden said. “We’re going to keep finding ways to save money – whether it’s Vista Ridge or any other project.”

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Transportation & Capital Improvements. In a newsletter, District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher noted, “Construction activities for both projects will take place six days a week, from sunrise to sunset.” The finishing point is expected July 2017 for the 3,700 feet south and November of next year for the 8,400 feet north projects at a combined cost of $31 million ($20 million and $11 million for north and south, respectively), officials said. Subsidies come from the 2012 Bond Fund Road Improvements Project, and include an additional $1 million from Bexar County. The two sections will feature four lanes each with curbs, sidewalks and bike/pedestrian lanes on both sides of the highway, plus a raised median. Neither section had sidewalks. “New drainage should eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, flooding in the area,” Hosseini said.

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onstruction is moving ahead on north and south Redland Road straddling Loop 1604 to widen lanes and add turn lanes, sidewalks and bike-pedestrian rights of way.

There also are plans to close a portion of Redland Road South while a new bridge is built near Driscoll Middle School at Jones Maltsberger Road. The work will take place during the pupils’ summer break. “The closure will begin after school lets out for the summer and will be completed before students return in August,” said Razi Hosseini, assistant director for




REDLAND continues on pg. 18

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“We had to purchase rights of way to add the bike lanes and sidewalks along the north project,” he added. According to Hosseini, “Both projects were approved by City Council in April. The projects have penalties built into the contracts if work is not finished in time – if contractors miss the deadlines and it is not justified due to rain delays or an unknown condition happens during construction. There are no bonuses for finishing early.” Hosseini noted automobile travel would be interrupted and slowed during construction. “The city is committed to reducing traffic delays,” he said. “Our intention is to limit as much as possible (the) impact on the public. When contractors believe they will disrupt traffic significantly and want to work overnight, we must approve in advance and then be sure the road opens between 5 and 6 a.m.” The city official said night work is

not ideal because certain materials are not available in the evenings. Ahmad Borghei of the Bourbon St. Seafood Kitchen on Redland at 1604 said he is keeping his fingers crossed that all goes well. “I hope the project will be good for our business,” he said. “Construction, of course, is a problem, it is a slight headache.” However, he added, “I don’t think it will be nearly as bad as the big construction on (U.S.) 281 and 1604 when the overpasses and connectors were built.” According to the entrepreneur, the new Tesoro office on Redland was a wake-up call for widening the road. “Traffic was becoming a problem,” he said. District 9 Councilman Joe Krier, who has indicated his support, called a pre-construction meeting in late May so residents could learn about planned improvements on Redland Road North from 1604 to Ridgeway Parkway.

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celebrating with peers would be a great way to finish off high school. It greatly enhances safety, but may limit the fun we can have.” Added Alec Schrader, “It enhances safety at the cost of fun for the students, but allows the parents to rest easy. It’s not really important; I am pretty indifferent.” The program is worthwhile, according to Ellie Dullea, but the location explains by EDMOND ORTIZ why she is passing on the celebration. “While I don’t party or drink, igh school I don’t plan on going to Project commencements at area Graduation, because I wasn’t interested campuses are here, and so in going to the ranch,” she said. is Project Graduation — an annual “I believe that Project Graduation event designed to keep teenagers does enhance student safety to some safe after the big ceremony. extent,” Dullea added. “It gives students a safe option to hang out with friends Parents and community members spend and celebrate the end of high school. However, I also believe that anyone who months preparing for the program, which was going to go out (to) party will, and offers seniors and others an opportunity to Project Graduation won’t change that.” celebrate with organized, adult-supervised Fritz said some high school graduates festivities that ban drugs and alcohol. do attend alternative instead On June 5, Reagan High School will (4.67”W x 5.17”H) newcelebrations size of the school sponsored party, but for party at Rio Cibolo Ranch. It’ll be the first time the school uses the Marion-area venue the most part student organizers work hard with their families to promote for this event. Johnson High School grads Project Graduation as the best option. will also use the venue two days later. “The senior leaders want to keep Amy Fritz, a parent with Reagan’s their classmates safe,” she added. Project Graduation, said she previously Next year, Reagan’s class of was impressed with the facility after 2017 will plan their own Project attending another school’s graduation Graduation, Fritz said. gala at Rio Cibolo Ranch. “It’s an evolving thing. They According to Fritz, about $20,000 want a say in what is their last major is needed each year to pull off Project party together,” she added. Graduation by parents of graduates. Meanwhile, neighboring Johnson Reagan’s class of 2016 numbers about 800. High School also has a planned “From a parent’s perspective, it Project Graduation celebration is definitely something the adults scheduled for 11 p.m to 4 a.m. starting are passionate about,” Fritz said. Project Graduation started 1980 in Maine June 7 at Rio Cibolo Ranch. There will be free T-shirts, a full after some graduating seniors died from buffet, casino games, a deejay and other alcohol- and drug-related accidents. A state events, said Johnson PTSA officials. initiative paved the way for the community According to the North East to create an environment for high school Independent School District, Johnson seniors to safely enjoy the evening. senior David Lunan took first place in The program, which reduces the risk the Texas Department of Transportation’s of teenager involvement in vehicular annual Project Celebration in February, crashes tied to substance abuse, has bringing home $1,250 in prize money since been embraced nationally. to go toward Project Graduation. Most Project Graduation celebrations Project Celebration asked San go long into the night, as participants Antonio high school students to enjoy games, music and food. compete and develop projects to Several Reagan students said they promote safe choices during class hours intend to attend, but added there and after the graduation ceremony. are pros and cons to chaperoned merriment on the eve of adulthood. Reporter Emeline Lakrout “I am attending Project Graduation,” contributed to this story. said Alexandra Gass. “I think that

GRADUATION continues from pg. 01

Be a Hero of the Community!

Students help with fundraising for celebration


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love for the Alamo City and a desire to give adults the best options for outfitting young children helped birth Kiddo Kiddo, a baby and children’s clothing boutique. The shop at 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, Suite 109, opened April 9. Diego Diaz de Cossio, a Mexican national, said he chose San Antonio and the far North Side because the storeowner and his wife feel welcomed here. “We have been and visited many places in the U.S., and all around, this is the place

we like the most,” Diaz de Cossio said. Kiddo Kiddo features clothing, gifts, toys and accessories for newborns to 7 years old, including brands such as J. Bailey, Cotton On Kids, Hatley and Lé Za Me. “It’s exciting to see parents and grandparents get excited about dressing their kids in the best and the nicest possible way,” Diaz de Cossio said. The store also offers religious items, christening gowns, remembrance cards and gifts. He wants to “wow” visitors to the shop, whether that means speaking Spanish to helping someone find the perfect outfit for a child. Diaz de Cossio, who used to work in the corporate world, decided to open a children’s clothing store after being inspired by his grandchildren. “I always had in mind to have an exciting retail business, and through the process I’ve found that this will be fulfilling my aspirations and my visions as opposed to other opportunities that I saw,” the owner said. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

KIddo Kiddo offers a variety of toys, cards, clothing and other items for babies and young children. Photos by Collette Orquiz

KIDDO KIDDO 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, Suite 109 For more, call 973-5797

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EAT LOCAL Learn about the newest neighborhood places for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks

Pinks Popcorn promises kernels of goodness by COLLETTE ORQUIZ


hether salty, sweet, spicy or savory, Pinks Popcorn wants to flavor your life with a pop. The new shop on the far North Side boasts more than 100 varieties of popcorn, ranging from strawberry lemonade and root beer to ranch, horchata and garlic parmesan, plus classics such as cheddar, kettle and caramel. “It’s a little bit out of the ordinary. (Customers) can always go to H-E-B and get certain popcorns, but if they’re really

wanting watermelon, mango, pistachio, I don’t know that you can get that anywhere,” said co-owner Lisa Morales. Located at 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, Suite 303, the store is pink with a “modern, retro, industrial feel,” said Morales, whose husband invented the name. “When I think of pinks, it’s Pinky Tuscadero (‘Happy Days’), it’s the Pink Ladies of ‘Grease,’ so very independent, sassy women, which me and my daughters are, so it kind of encompasses who we are as well,” Morales said. The popcorn is made in small batches and kept as fresh as possible. Sizes range from petite to extra large; gift baskets and tins also are available. Morales said staffers

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The family-owned Pinks Popcorn wants customers to stop by and try popcorn flavors ranging from root beer to kettle and caramel. Photo by Collette Orquiz

really like experimenting with flavors and asking patrons to try new things. Among the most popular kernels, or popcorn styles, are kettle, cinnamon toast and piña colada. Morales adores the salty-sweet caramel variety. Pinks Popcorn also services corporate and wholesale accounts, festivals, birthdays and nuptials. Morales, who also runs Haute Weddings, a matrimony-planning venture, used the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to advertise and create Pinks Popcorn.

“We have great customer service, we’re family-owned and really like giving back to our community. We want everyone (who) comes in to feel like they’re a part of the family, too,” Morales said. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

PINKS POPCORN 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, Suite 303 For more, call 468-5533 or visit www.pinkspopcorn.com or email info@pinkspopcorn.com

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LOCAL: Stone Oak, Encino Park, Far North, 78258, 78259, 78260, 78261 June 2016  

This month in Zone 6: NEISD trustees OK middle school sex-ed curriculum change despite protests, State petitioned to review SAWS rate hikes,...

LOCAL: Stone Oak, Encino Park, Far North, 78258, 78259, 78260, 78261 June 2016  

This month in Zone 6: NEISD trustees OK middle school sex-ed curriculum change despite protests, State petitioned to review SAWS rate hikes,...

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