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DAN PARMAN ‘Father’ of Stone Oak looks back, ahead PG. 11



Area ISDs meet state standards; campuses earn academic distinctions

Developer says community everything he envisioned, except for traffic congestion OCT. 24 - NOV. 21, 2016

PG. 17


PG. 05 OUR TURN Area dads and father figures urged to join WATCH D.O.G.S.


PG. 16

Addressing the opioid epidemic calls for participation from the entire community


Wilderness Oak Elementary School program benefits orphans in Ghana

PG. 14



ADDRESSING AREA GROWTH ESD No. 3, BexarBulverde VFD planning for the future



New store features LEGO blocks and figures for the kid in all of us

Restaurant serves up healthy, preservative-free foods in a casual environment




OCT. 24 - NOV. 21, 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 Gaby Galindo, Kate Hunger, Arthur Schechter and Susan Yerkes ART Creative Director Florence D. Edwards Contributing Photographers Valerie Bustamante and Rudy B. Ornelas ADVERTISING Account Manager Amber Montemayor

Controller Gracie Cortinez



Advertising Inquiries Story Ideas: Website: 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.

Bond process revving up


earings on projects being considered in San Antonio’s $850 million bond proposal began in early October and will last into December. What happens in the Alamo City ripples across the region. The city on Sept. 28 released a breakdown of the proposed bond, covering 2017-22, into five areas: parks, recreation and open-space projects; facilities improvements; neighborhood betterments; streets, bridges and sidewalks; plus drainage and flood control. Residents from the city’s 10 council districts are on five committees reviewing the propositions, and those groups will each meet five times in public sessions through Dec. 15. All gatherings are at the Central Library Auditorium, 600 Soledad St. in San Antonio. Citywide projects include improvements at Alamo Plaza, Hemisfair and Brackenridge parks, Broadway and Port San Antonio, as well as additional public-safety buildings. Local proposals include completion of the city’s purchase of the Classen-Steubing Ranch property on the far North Side, a land bridge connecting both sides of Hardberger Park and a senior citizens center in District 9; a new home for Capitol Park Little League is among several District 10 offerings. All folks should play an active role during this process, as committee recommendations will lay the foundation for May’s citywide election.

WILL WRIGHT MANAGING EDITOR ON THE COVER: Emergency Services District No. 3, a taxing entity that channels public-safety money, is funding a third fire station for the Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department. The rapid growth of residential areas and commercial districts on the far North Side are prompting the initiative. Helmet photo by Rudy B.Ornelas; inset photo courtesy

r u o y d n i f NOV. 25-26 // DEC. 3-4 // DEC. 10-11 // DEC. 17-18



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Chasing the dragon by SUSAN YERKES


hasing the dragon is a really catchy name for a devastating reality. The term originated with opium and heroin users. It refers to the way addicts gradually build up tolerance to these drugs, and need more to feel high. Eventually, many can’t even get that, but they still crave the illicit narcotics to stave off withdrawals. Today, heroin is the most widely used illegal opioid, and its use is increasing, especially among young people. That rise is linked to the proliferation of

a class of legal opioid drugs developed for pain relief. Hydrocodone, Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine and codeine are the stars in an array of legal prescription opioids. And they’re probably coming to a home near you soon — if they aren’t there already. Many adults who become addicted to pain pills get started with initially beneficial prescriptions. Some children begin by stealing pills from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Others buy them at school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, more than 28,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses – almost as many as in car accidents. Prescription drugs caused the majority of those deaths, but as dependence on pain relievers has soared, and law enforcement has cracked down on their abuse, heroin addiction has risen because it’s easier and cheaper to obtain. When the FBI held a community screening of a documentary called “Chasing The Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict” in San Antonio

in September, school administrators, health officials, law enforcement and community leaders came together to stress how critical the problem is. “We’re beginning to see teenagers using IV heroin,” Dr. Robert Jimenez, chief medical officer for Bexar County’s The Center for Health Care Services, told me. “Heroin from Mexico is now the highest quality, and it’s being brought in across the border by the ton,” Jimenez added. Because a lot of the heroin is more pure, it is less likely to be diluted with fentanyl or other substances, which increase overdose risk, he said. However, it takes less to get high, so it tends to be cheaper. “You can buy it all over San Antonio,” he said. “Kids can buy it at school from each other. They snort it or chew it or put it in candy or wafers – snorting is very popular with kids. They may handle it for a while, but sadly, eventually they’re going to start shooting it, and they’re going to get in trouble, often with HIV and hepatitis. Right now the

largest number of new cases of HIV and hepatitis are coming out of the (78209) area and the North Star Mall area. These are not just poor minorities.” “This problem affects everyone,” Police Chief William McManus said at the “Chasing the Dragon” symposium, “and we can’t arrest it away.” The CHCS has a wide range of prevention and treatment options, including a methadone program with about 1,000 enrollees, detoxification and residential treatment. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and University of Texas at San Antonio researchers are among those working to find alternative approaches to treating pain, and new therapies for preventing or treating addiction. Many school districts target at-risk kids, and educate students and families about symptoms and solutions. Changing the status quo is going to take a lot more informed, enlightened community efforts. If we don’t unite to confront this dragon, who knows how monstrously high the toll will rise?


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Make WATCH D.O.G.S. a howling success


ome area campuses are going to the dogs, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, the trend needs to continue by having more volunteers join WATCH D.O.G.S. — or Dads of Great Students.

The national program encourages male involvement at elementary schools by providing role models for children. Dads are eligible to apply, but grandfathers, uncles and other father figures can also sign up. The requirements are not onerous. Participants are asked to spend one day

a year at the school helping teachers. They monitor hallways and playgrounds; spend time in the cafeteria and library; and mentor schoolchildren. In today’s society, there are a lot of single parents or families where both parents work. Sometimes dads don’t come home until late at night, or a child only sees a father early in the morning before school. The WATCH D.O.G.S. program enables dads and father figures to take a peek at what their kids do during the school day, but also provides a mentor for other pupils who might not have a fatherly connection. In addition to participating in students’ daily routine, WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteers help out with bike rodeos and other school events. If you’re a dad or a father figure, step up to the plate and take a swing at volunteering. To get started, call your local campus. -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.






HOLIDAY FUN Visit Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness 25 Oak Road, from 5-8 p.m. for the fifth annual Halloween Carnival & Spooky Walk. Come in costume or as you are; either way, travel the haunted trail – if you dare. For more on the free event, call 207-2703.


DISTRICT 9 NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE Meetings are usually 26 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 and to confirm dates and times, call Art Downey, alliance president, at 497-8873.





COMAL ISD BOARD Comal Independent School District trustees meet at 6 p.m. in the Support Services boardroom, 1404 Interstate 35 North in New Braunfels. For more, visit

OCT. 27, NOV. 17


SEW BEE IT For an afternoon OCT. of advice and conversation 26 leaving you in stitches, 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. BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL North East Independent 26 School District’s College Night is 6-8 p.m. at Blossom Athletic Center, 12002 Jones Maltsberger Road. More than 100 institutions and universities are expected to provide representatives available to talk with students and


RATTLER FOOTBALL Reagan High School concludes its varsity schedule with a 7 p.m. game Oct. 29 against Madison at Heroes Stadium, 4799 Thousand Oaks Drive, and a Nov. 4 7:30 p.m. contest against Roosevelt at Comalander Stadium, 12002 Jones Maltsberger Road. For results from the season and more, visit

OCT. 29 & NOV. 4

ENCINO CINEMA PRESENTS A HALLOWEEN FILM 30 Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road, will show a free film suitable for the whole family at 2 p.m. each Sunday.


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HAPPENING continues on pg. 07


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SALOCALLOWDOWN.COM HAPPENING continues from pg. 06 Special for the holiday is the movie “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” For other movie titles and more, call 2079250 or contact Barbara Kwiatkowski at CHRISTIAN AND JEWISH OCT. SOLIDARITY The public 30 is invited to Cornerstone Church, 18755 Stone Oak Parkway, at 6:30 p.m. for “A Night to Honor Israel.” The Rev. John Hagee and John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will speak. Enjoy music by the Cornerstone Choir and Orchestra. Members of the Rodfei Shalom congregation and the Jewish Federation of San Antonio will be present. For more, call the church at 490-1600. HONEY, I SHRUNK YOUR HEAD! A Halloween edition of arts 31 and crafts takes a spooky turn with “Tsantsa: The Art of Head Shrinking.” The 6 p.m. event at Encino Branch Library,


2515 E. Evans Road, teaches how to make shrunken heads. Adults only. Space is limited. For more and to register, call 207-9250 or contact Barbara Kwiatkowski at ENCINO PARK OVER 50 CLUB NOV. 1, 15 For folks a half-century old, come to 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, meals and events. For more, call Dyan Montesclaros at 481-7890. COFFEE TALK Share a cup NOV. and a conversation with 2 North East Independent School District Superintendent Brian Gottardy at Johnson High School, 23203 Bulverde Road, from 7:30-8:30 a.m. For more on his series of get-togethers at NEISD campuses, visit



JAGUAR FOOTBALL Johnson High School’s varsity team finishes the 2016 schedule

playing Madison at 7:30 p.m. in Heroes Stadium, 4799 Thousand Oaks Drive. For results from the season and more, visit RUNNING FOR A CAUSE The second annual Specht 5 Stars and Heroes 5K begins at 8 a.m. from Specht Elementary School, 25815 Overlook Parkway. Proceeds benefit the campus and the Wounded Warriors Project. For more including registration costs, visit


SHAPING UP FOR A NEW YOU Parman Branch Library, 7, 14, 21 While 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, usually exercises your mind, 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. This session is designed mostly for seniors. For more, call 207-2703.




SO, YOU THINK YOU CAN SEW The sewing club meets on the second Tuesday of the

month at Encino Park Community Center, 1923 Encino Rio St., from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Please bring a power strip or extension cord. For more, contact Sylvia Jolet at sjolet@ or call 497-3383. ENCINO PARK GAME DAY Come to Encino Park 10 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.


GOLF FOR A CAUSE Canyon Springs Golf Club, 11 24405 Wilderness Oak Road, will host the sixth annual Michael Bratton Golf Tourney. Proceeds benefit dementia research. Open to the public, reserve spots now. For more, contact or call 824-9510.


HAPPENING continues on pg. 08

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OCT. 24 - NOV. 21, 2016

HAPPENING continues from pg. 07 NEISD BOARD The next meeting of North East 14 Independent School District trustees will be 5:30 p.m. at 8961 Tesoro Drive. To confirm dates and times of sessions normally scheduled on the second Monday in the month, call 407-0533.


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PUTTING THE “HEAL” IN “HEALTH” Realize your own 16 healing potential from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road. Mastering and balancing your body’s energy and keeping it flowing smoothly may result in reducing pain, breathing easier, sleeping better and gaining vitality. Learn helpful information and practice Spring Forest Qigong exercises in a supportive environment. Group sessions magnify the training. No experience necessary. Dress comfortably in nonrestrictive clothes. Workout can be modified for standing, sitting or lying. For more, call 207-2703.



8:30 - Traditional Worship 9:45 - Bible Study 11:00 - Contemporary Worship

Pastor: Steve Graves

SCHOOL’S OUT Campuses 21-25 in North East and Comal independent school districts will be closed for Thanksgiving break. For more, visit www.neisd. net or


ELSEWHERE IN SAN ANTONIO CHRISTMAS SHOWCASE 19-20 Come to the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall, 3201 E. Houston St. for a two-day shopping extravaganza, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 19 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20. The 38th annual local holiday tradition will feature handmade jewelry, gifts and apparel, plus decorations and outdoor art. For more, call 492-1437 or visit



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PAPERCRAFTING AND NOV. SCRAPBOOK CLUB Visit Parman 19 Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road, from 1-6 p.m. 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.

TEEN TIME Parman Branch TUESDAYS 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 from 6-8 p.m. Have fun, chill out and make new friends. For more, contact 207-2703.


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AGE IS JUST A NUMBER The Encino Older Adults 18 Club explores the world on the third Friday of the month at 2 p.m. in the Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road. This time, the focus is on U.S. parks. Admission is free. For more, call 2079250 or contact Barbara Kwiatkowski at


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

Open and Opening Soon 1. BRICKS & MINIFIGS, 21850 Bulverde Road, Suite 102, opened its latest store in early September, offering LEGObrand new toys and resale items. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more, call 994-8100 or visit or facebook. com/BAMSanAntonioBulverdeRd. (See story on page 18)

2. THYME FOR LUNCH, 19141 Stone

Oak Parkway, Suite 509, recently opened, offering freshly made, healthy and eclectic soups, salads and sandwiches in a casual environment. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more, call 438-4963 or visit ThymeForLunchsa/. (See story on page 19)

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IN OTHER NEWS NORTH EAST INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT TRUSTEES lowered the district’s tax rate during a Sept. 12 board meeting to $1.385 per $100 assessed property valuation for 2016-17, a three-penny reduction from last year. District officials said NEISD has lessened the tax rate nearly 5.5 cents over the past two years through debt management and rising property values assessed through the Bexar Appraisal District. As a result of the latest decrease, the owner of an average NEISD home – appraised at $225,626 – will benefit from a $59 lower tax bill this year. MORE THAN 100 ACTIVE-DUTY AND

LOWDOWN continues on pg. 10


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LOWDOWN continues from pg. 09 RETIRED MILITARY VETERANS were recognized during Bush Middle School’s Military Appreciation Breakfast in September. The annual event, sponsored by the PTA, honors those in the Bush community who have served in the armed forces. Attendees heard a presentation by Bush parent Lt. Col. Scott Blackwell, chief of anesthesiology at San Antonio Military Medical Center. “Only through commitment can we truly succeed and thus help others succeed in life,” Blackwell said, citing ties binding family, school, work, military and country. The serviceman also presented a commemorative military coin to Principal Gary Comalander. THREE NORTH EAST INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT PROGRAMS on Sept. 9 received $2,500 grants from Community First Health Plans. Hidden Forest Elementary School, home to one of the district’s SPARK parks, open to the public after school and on weekends,

OCT. 24 - NOV. 21, 2016 will use the money to add a disc-golf course. Others receiving money included Nimitz and Bush middle schools. The Community First program grants are part of the inaugural “Fall Ahead” contest, which during the summer considered applications to fund sustainable health and wellness projects in school programs. REAGAN HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN NOAH BLACKWELL recently was recognized by the Bexar County Commissioners Court for his contribution to the National Campaign to Stop Violence. Last school year, as an eighth-grader at Bush Middle School, Noah entered his essay in the NCSV and San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse’s initiative, “Do the Write Thing” Challenge, which accepted student entries on ways to reduce youth violence and enhance local awareness. Noah and Alamo Heights Independent School District student Emma Moser were selected as Bexar County ambassadors in the national competition held last summer. County commissioners honored both students

for their dedication in promoting community involvement. More than 4,400 area pupils contributed essays, including runners-up Madison Falkner of Garner Middle School and Cory Hofmockel of Harris Middle School. A BREAKFAST RECEPTION AT CANYON SPRINGS GOLF CLUB on Oct. 8 honored Reagan High School’s National Merit Scholars with school board members Shannon Grona and Sandy Hughey, plus district executives Pauline Dow, Ron Clary and Jane Jensen helping celebrate the students’ achievements. According to a release, Reagan recognized 12 National Merit semifinalists, 16 Commended Scholars and 23 National Hispanic Scholars. The students were also spotlighted later in the day during halftime of the Rattlers’ football game at Comalander Stadium. BULVERDE CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WAS RECENTLY CITED for a creative approach to redeeming Box Tops for Education earnings to further students’

lessons. H-E-B and General Mills featured the institution’s efforts in Sept. 12-18 television ads. The campus was selected to showcase its funding plans for school projects and raising awareness about the program, now in its 20th year. “The Box Tops for Education program has been a wonderful source of funding for many of the special programs at Bulverde Creek Elementary,” said Principal Michelle McCoy. “Our PTA has been instrumental in encouraging students’ families and our community to support our school by sending in their box tops. We have been able to purchase items like iPads for classrooms, online reading programs, physical education and recess equipment, and much more. It’s amazing how quickly the box tops add up.” H-E-B and General Mills teamed to promote the program, which emphasizes giving back to campuses through corporate philanthropic initiatives. Bulverde Creek is among more than 80,000 U.S. schools participating in the activity where box tops from General Mills cereal

LOWDOWN continues on pg. 11

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SALOCALLOWDOWN.COM PARMAN continues from pg. 01

Undeveloped areas set for multifamily housing someday by SUSAN YERKES


ack in the 1970s a young man from Uvalde came up with a wild, almost ridiculously ambitious idea – a huge, master-planned community on the far northern fringes of San Antonio.

The visionary was Dan Parman. Almost 50 years later, that dream, now called Stone Oak, is an epicenter of growth in the city and one of the largest privately owned, planned communities in the United States. Before Stone Oak, Parman had worked as a builder, and also bought and sold ranch properties.

LOWDOWN continues from pg. 10 products are redeemed for educational items such as books, computers, playground equipment and more. A PROPOSED PANHANDLING ORDINANCE introduced by District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher, who represents a portion of the far North Side, is under City Council consideration. It was heard by the Governance Committee and is being reviewed by the Criminal Justice, Public Safety and Services Committee, and Economic and Human Development Committee. “I’m very pleased that this initiative is moving forward,” Gallagher said. “This is a citywide issue and we need to take a holistic approach to address all aspects and consequences of panhandling. I appreciate the work (Police) Chief (William) McManus has done to research multiple ways to address this problem and the thoughtful commentary provided (by the) Governance Committee.” In radio broadcasts, Gallagher has said panhandlers pose a hazard at busy intersections and claimed some are part of an organized group.

His background sharpened his keen eye for growth patterns. “In 1975, I moved to San Antonio from Uvalde, and one of the first things I noticed was that people talked in terms of whether you lived inside or outside the loop – that was Loop 410. If you were outside 410, then you were way out there in the country,” he said. Parman’s vision involved creating neighborhoods where people could live, work and find plenty of urban amenities outside San Antonio’s hub. He ventured farther than 410, heading beyond Loop 1604, the city’s other major ring road. Development was budding north of the city’s center, and Parman researched his idea thoroughly before targeting a location with his colleagues. “We were as much demographers as developers,” he said. “We studied San Antonio’s direction of growth starting in the 1850s, and carried it all the way through to get an idea of where the population would go. One of the things

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CROSSING GUARDS ARE NEEDED AT NORTH EAST INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT campuses, according to District 10 Councilman Mike Gallagher. In a recent newsletter, he reminded residents to remain aware of children walking to and from school. Those interested in training to become a school crossing guard can call 207-7393 or apply online at www. SMITHSON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER ANN MASSEY was recently recognized as Region V Teacher of the Year during the Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers Association of Texas Professional Development Conference, held over the summer. Massey, a family and consumersciences teacher, is coordinator for Smithson Valley’s career preparation and education and training program. She supervises schoolchildren working part-time jobs in Boerne, New Braunfels, San Antonio and Bulverde, including many employed in Comal Independent School District’s afterschool student-employment program.

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PARMAN continues from pg. 11 we did was use aerial photographs and make flip charts, so you could see the growth. Then, when we knew what land was available and what road systems were there, we chose this area between Blanco Road and (U.S.) 281 and assembled four ranches in there.” Acquiring the territory, totaling more than 6,000 acres, was a major challenge involving four joint ventures and 80-plus partners. Parman and the rest provided the plans and infrastructure, while outside developers purchased and cultivated land within the project, all along, strictly adhering to the main objective. “Our job was to define a city where at noon you had the same population you did at midnight,” Parman said. “You do that by having office buildings, hospitals, jobs, schools and churches, so that people can stay here and work. In the beginning, that was called a ‘plum pudding’ development. You stuck in your thumb, and you pulled out a plum.” “We also had an obligation to develop

Dan Parman, a developer considered by many as the 'father' of Stone Oak, smiles as he looks over a map of the far North Side area created to offer homes and amenities that didn't depend on San Antonio's downtown core. Photograph by Ruby B. Ornelas

it, so when you moved in, you knew what was going to happen,” he added. “From the first day, before the first rock was turned over, we had a total plan. That plan showed where every neighborhood, every single-family area, every multifamily project would be, every commercial area would be, so nobody would wake up one morning and say, ‘What the heck! They’re building a multifamily project next to me!’” Parman and his colleagues designed commercial areas within a half mile

of every residential zone. “I hired a young man fresh out of Texas A&M (University) to drive from Washington state through Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and study all the big developments along the way, and bring everything – pictures, plans, notes – back. We wanted to see what worked and what did not work, and we copied what worked,” he said. With the design in place, Parman and company built the infrastructure – sewers, water, electricity and roads. “Back then, 1604 was a little farmto-market road called ‘the Death Loop,’” Parman chuckled. The name derived from numerous fatality accidents. “We built a four-lane road (Stone Oak Parkway) into that two-lane road.” The partners also contributed acreage along 1604 to the Texas Transportation Commission, accelerating the thoroughfare’s expansion to four lanes. Stone Oak blossomed, and despite some pruning in the housing market, it’s been both a success and a catalyst for growth in the surrounding area.

San Antonio annexed Stone Oak in 1997. By 2013, the community annually was contributing about $4 billion in total taxes, residential and commercial. Today, 34 distinct neighborhoods with individual property owners associations comprise Stone Oak. (Sonterra, the largest, is overseen separately, but shares an office and information with Stone Oak management.) Over the years, Stone Oak ownership and administration have frequently changed hands. Currently, Parman is no longer directly involved, though he says he still holds about 13 of 100 acres of undeveloped property. He has moved from his Sonterra home to Shavano Park, but remains very active in business and real estate. In recent years, he and family members donated land for the Parman Branch Library and Panther Springs Park in Stone Oak. “Did I believe this would work? Always! Did I imagine how it would turn out? Yes! We wrote the book,” Parman

PARMAN continues on pg. 13

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SALOCALLOWDOWN.COM PARMAN continues from pg. 12 said. “Although, I admit there were a few times I wasn’t sure about anything.” However, Parman never envisioned the traffic crunch that eventually clogged Stone Oak. He and his colleagues built roads to handle Stone Oak’s anticipated population – not hundreds of thousands of cars now using the main streets traveling to developments flourishing north and west of its boundaries. “What happens when San Antonio has another million people?” Parman said. “Well, we’re just about built out here, so fortunately they’re going to live someplace else, and hopefully they won’t need to drive down our streets.” District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who chaired the city’s sweeping SA Tomorrow planning initiative, emphasizes the importance of early preparation. SA Tomorrow is part of a comprehensive plan for expansion through 2040, when the city could add 1.1 million residents. “The market will always drive growth.

It’s not desirable or responsible for cities to try to stop it, but it is the responsibility of communities working with government to plan to accommodate growth and meet people’s needs,” Nirenberg said. “The growth we see along the 281 corridor has been anticipated, but city leaders took their eyes off the ball in planning for transportation solutions.” One committee resulting from SA Tomorrow continues to focus on the city’s transportation network. Twelve-year Sonterra resident, Rick Rawley, president of the Sonterra Property Management Co., also sits on the Stone Oak Property Owners Association’s board of directors. He sees traffic problems up close, but remains upbeat. “We love it here,” he said. “We have everything we need – hospitals, churches, very good schools, every kind of store and restaurant. The only real issue is traffic. I don’t think anybody could have seen the kind of development that has happened to the north and west of us, and even on the east side of 281. So, a lot

of people who don’t live in Stone Oak take Stone Oak Parkway, Wilderness Oak (Road), 281 and Blanco.” A significant portion of the community’s remaining undeveloped area is designated for multifamily housing, possibly meaning 500-resident apartments, and more cars, he added. The city is also acquiring the ClassenSteubing Ranch for more park space. “It will help when we get more

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road linkages that allow people to bypass Stone Oak. There are plans to extend Hardy Oak (Boulevard), so you can take it all the way to 1604 from Wilderness Oak,” Rawley said. “There’s also talk about another fourlane road to alleviate traffic on Stone Oak Parkway, and once more work is done on 281 it should be much better. “We love it here, and we’re patient people,” he said.

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OCT. 24 - NOV. 21, 2016

ESD 3 continues from pg. 01

Third ESD fire station set to open in 2017 by WILL WRIGHT


orth Bexar County commercial and residential expansion has created a demand for increased first-responder services, and Bexar County Emergency Services District No. 3 is working to keep pace.

A third regional fire station is set to open next year, and the budget is ballooning by more than $1.4 million. Officials are also negotiating the cost of services after San Antonio decided to annex a commercial corridor on U.S. 281 North. “We have to be on the front curve of

Bexar County Emergency Services District No. 3 President Ray Wilkinson (left) and Jerry Bialick, chief of the Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department, are working to increase first-responder services to a rapidly growing area north of San Antonio. Photo by Rudy B. Ornelas

the planning, due to the fast growth of the district,” said Ray Wilkinson, ESD president. “We can’t get behind, because if

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we do, there will be delays in purchasing equipment, recruiting for the (fire) academy – all of these things will take

time while the district keeps growing.” ESD No. 3, created in 2003, is one of about a dozen special taxing districts in Bexar County dedicated to emergency and other services. The Bexar-Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department, a nonprofit formed in 1966, is on call 24/7 and is the ESD’s primary contractor for fire and medical assistance. The department operates fire stations on Borgfield Road and Bulverde Road, and will be joined by another at 27370 Canyon Golf Road in 2017. The building will cost $1.7 million, with almost an equal amount to equip and staff. “I think (ESD No. 3) is the best in the county,” Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff said. “We used their model to create a policy and procedure manual to use by the other county ESDs. The level of service they provide is among the best in the nation.” He added, “It’s not just your average volunteer fire department. It’s a truly professional, first-grade

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SALOCALLOWDOWN.COM ESD 3 continues from pg. 14 fire and emergency response unit that does a tremendous job.” Wilkinson said the ESD is currently hiring construction managers for the new fire station, which he hopes breaks ground next February and opens by November. The new station will serve residents in the Summerglen, Canyon Springs and Mountain Lodge subdivisions. “Part of our planning process is addressing coverage for a lot of new development out on Evans Road,” Wilkinson said, citing the need to cover the apartment complexes and other burgeoning developments along TPC Parkway and Cibolo Canyons Street. ESD is also negotiating a contract to provide emergency services for the city’s proposed annexation of a small commercial strip along 281. If City Council approves, it’ll become effective before 2017. Wilkinson said the cost of delivering ESD services there would be decided soon. Voters OK’d a 2015 measure raising

local sales taxes, which have since produced more than $600,000 for the district. Because of increased residential and commercial growth, $200,000 ESD homeowners pay 9 percent less than three years ago. The tax rate is nearly 5 cents per $100 assessed property valuation. “We have the lowest tax rate in the county,” Wilkinson said. “We try to keep rates down. The uncertainty we were facing with annexation gave us a lot of flexibility in the budget.” For several months, San Antonio leaders discussed annexing residential property north all the way to the Comal County line, but ultimately decided to stick with the 281 commercial zone. Residential areas, however could still be annexed down the line. The previous fiscal year’s ESD resources of $3,222,189 increases to $4,651,193 in 2017, which will pay for a new fire truck and help furnish and equip the third station. After that station’s completion, ESD officials will begin planning a fourth, on the east end of the district, and then

renovate the two older firehouses. Plus, the soon-to-open Judson Independent School District high school has ESD officials looking ahead. “Further out (on Evans Road) toward Nacogdoches Road, there’s also a lot more building going on, in addition to the new high school (Veterans Memorial),” Wilkinson said. “The needs will be great in that area, too. We’re starting the process of studies to process where to put a station in that area, but we’re not there yet – we have to get through the other things first.” ESD No. 3 includes about 65,000 residents in a 47-square-mile area along 281 North to the Comal County line, west from Camp Bullis and east to the Interstate 35 corridor. The Fire Department has more than 100 active volunteer and reserve firefighters, trainees and junior recruits, but only a limited number of paid staffers. “We have no paid full-time employees,” Fire Chief Jerry Bialick said. “We have

about 80 volunteers and close to 25 part-time paid firefighters. We also have a number of EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and paramedical personnel.” Bialick said the department receives 2,000 to 2,500 calls annually, with average response time less than seven minutes, and about 70 percent seeking immediate medical help. BBVFD actively recruits volunteers for its fire academy, where they learn skills often leading to paid jobs in other fire departments. The Fire Department Insurance Services Office rating – gauging a department’s ability to provide fire protection within its area – recently improved to 2 on a scale of 10 (1 being the highest). Bialick said the grade, pending state approval, would rank his personnel among the top 2 percent nationally. “We’d like to get the four stations built, manned and equipped,” the chief added. “Maybe one day we can open our own ambulance service, but right now is about protecting the people we already serve.”



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HEART continues from pg. 01

Community has risen to challenge, teacher says by KATE HUNGER


The Heart Smiles, a nonprofit funded through the efforts of the Wilderness Oak Elementary School community, has helped create an orphanage in Ghana, on the West Africa coast, that provides a home for dozens of children. Courtesy photo

Continuing a tradition that began in 2011, pupils at the Northeast Independent School District campus annually have raised $2,000 to $2,500 through a $1 valentine’s bracelet sale. The funds support an orphanage in Ghana, on the West Africa coast, started by The Heart Smiles, a San Antonio nonprofit

created by a Wilderness Oak parent. Today, 50 children ranging in age from 5 to 16 live in the orphanage, which contains individual dormitories for boys and girls, a kitchen, office space and outdoor gathering areas. One building — Wilderness Oak Center — is named after the San Antonio school. “My goal is to have 100 kids,” said Ama Osei-Bonsu, who founded The Heart 4.80"W x 5.7"H Smiles in 2009. “There is so much need.”

ilderness Oak Elementary School students are learning lessons about empathy and having a positive impact on the world by raising money for African orphans.

The organization pays for student uniforms, shoes, food and shelter for the youngsters, all of whom go to classes and receive other life-skills training, such as sewing and hair braiding. The village’s elementary school is adjacent to the residence hall; older pupils ride bicycles provided by The Heart Smiles to reach a nearby secondary school. The nonprofit raised $16,400 at its third gala on Sept. 17, the largestever amount, said Osei-Bonsu, who was born and raised in Ghana. The Wilderness Oak mother, whose mission in life is comforting parentless children from her native country, found a strong collaborator in onetime Wilderness Oak teacher Lindsay Richard. In 2010, Richard’s first-grade class raised almost $10,000 for earthquake relief in Haiti, later winning a trip to the opening of Universal Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Soon after meeting, Osei-Bonsu and Richard jetted to Ghana together to visit the needy African orphans. Richard drew on her past charitable

experience and proposed a valentinethemed fundraiser for The Heart Smiles. The difference the orphanage has made is impossible to miss, said Osei-Bonsu and Richard. They both described a visible change in the children once their most basic needs were being met. “They had no light in their soul,” Richard recalled of her journey to Ghana several years ago. “Their spirit was dull. They would lean against you. Their body needed to touch another body. You would just hug them.” Now, the smiles she sees in videos of the children depict a more cheerful scene. “They need that security to know they are taken care of,” Richard said. Richard, today a Bulverde Creek Elementary School kindergarten teacher and president of The Heart Smiles board, hopes the nonprofit captures hearts at her new school, too. “We don’t get paid and we don’t use (donated funds) to get to Ghana,” she said, explaining part of the group’s appeal. “It’s very grass roots and very

HEART continues on pg. 17

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Districts focus on career paths, wellrounded education by WILL WRIGHT


ll area independent school districts met state academic-performance standards for the 2015-16 academic year, according to Texas Education Agency assessments released in August and September. Comal and North East ISDs passed all categories in the annual review. TEA, which oversees and annually evaluates public schools, reviewed data from more than 5 million students in 1,207 districts and 8,673 campuses, based on information from the last school year. The results will be final in November. Most of the state’s districts and institutions received the “Met Standard” rating, for meeting state requirements in monitoring student academic achievements and overall progress, closing performance gaps and offering postsecondary-readiness programs. Each district also received marks in “system safeguards” for matching federal standards in several categories. Reviews relied primarily on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness

HEART continues from pg. 16 easy to understand. Everyone took an ownership of it. This is our charity.” Wilderness Oak students receive updates on the orphanage’s progress, which gives them confirmation their efforts are creating positive results halfway across the planet, Richard said. “They get to see what they are doing is helping someone else,” said Wilderness Oak third-grade teacher Melissa Seitze. Colleen Sample-Avery is a volunteer with The Heart Smiles and the parent of a former Wilderness Oak student. She sees great value in offering children a sustained opportunity to help others. “Because our kids have a little more, I think they need to give a little more,” she said. “I think it helps them


grading and other data. TEA released its initial findings in August, but delays resulting from last spring’s troubled STAAR testing process postponed complete reports until mid-September. While happy with outcomes, district officials said their long-term focus is on creating well-rounded learning environments and careerpath programs for their students. NEISD’s 68 rated schools all met standard and 86 percent of safeguards, with campuses totaling 118 distinctions. Encino Park Elementary School earned all six possible designations. International School of the Americas and Krueger Middle School achieved six of seven; Olmos Park, Longs Creek, Hardy Oak and Roan Forest elementary schools earned five of six. “This is a great achievement for North East ISD, our schools, students and community,” said Brian Gottardy, district superintendent. “Our district outpaced state average performance on 22 of 24 exams in grades three through eight and end-of-course assessments.” He added, “While I don’t believe a school or district should solely be judged on one test on one day, these are the rules we have to play by. Our state mandates that students pass the STAAR and that districts are judged by those scores.” Comal ISD’s 27 rated campuses met standard and 88 percent of safeguards, with a total of 37 campus distinctions. Canyon Lake High School achieved all seven possible distinctions, with Hoffmann Lane Elementary School achieving all six. to learn those altruistic ideals.” Her son, Gabe, now a Saint Mary’s Hall high school freshman, participated in the bracelet sale while attending Wilderness Oak. For the past several years, he’s asked for donations to The Heart Smiles, instead of candy, while trick-or-treating on Halloween. Gabe also volunteers at the organization’s gala and said after his introduction to The Heart Smiles, he wanted to be involved. “It makes me feel special that I am a part of this,” he said. The Wilderness Oak community knows all about The Heart Smiles and steps up with support, Richard said. “Anytime the school has an event, we have a table,” she said. “If there is a carnival, we have a table. People just give.“ For more about The Heart Smiles, visit

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LEGO store builds customer base brick by brick by GABY GALINDO


oping their new LEGO specialty store is a good fit for the far North Side, owners Chris and Jamie Donnell recently opened Bricks and Minifigs at 21850 Bulverde Road, Suite 102.

The shop, which sells new, used and packaged sets of the plastic, interlocking bricks, debuted in September. The proprietors already operate in Helotes and Plano. “We decided to open the new location on Bulverde Road since we know there

are many new customers that would like to have a store near them who may not have known about our Helotes location,” Chris Donnell said. “We have a passion for people and love to be part of the community. With three children of our own, all of which love LEGO, it was a natural fit for our family.” Bricks and Minifigs also features several bins of loose and mixed LEGO pieces, allowing customers to dive in and make all sorts of creations. “What really separates us from any other store is the large variety of loose bricks, minifigures, new and used sets that you cannot find anywhere else under one roof,” Donnell said.

Visitors to the LEGO-themed Bricks and Minifigs can find sets such as SpongeBob SquarePants (above) or just dive into bins with different pieces to mix and match (right). Photos by Collette Orquiz and Valerie Bustamante

Each of their shops offers a spacious children’s birthday-party room. Donnell said “Star Wars” and superheroes sets are very popular. “Bricks and Minifigs is the perfect store for kids to be kids, and adults to reminisce about their childhood and be a kid again as well,” Donnell said. “With the playful atmosphere of digging through thousands of loose LEGO bricks, to viewing all the new and used sets on display, it’s a great store for everyone.”

Besides a rewards program, discounts are occasionally announced via social media and emails. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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n June 6, owners Anang and Morgan Mehta launched Thyme for Lunch, 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, Suite 509.

“We chose Stone Oak Parkway because it’s located close to hospitals and doctors’ offices and we offer healthy, preservative-free foods,” Morgan Mehta said. Living abroad inspired the couple to open a restaurant serving fresh, eclectic food in a casual environment. “We lived in Asia and discovered how eating fresh foods could make you feel amazing,” Mehta said. Lunch dishes include various sandwiches, wraps, paninis, salads and south-of-the-border choices. Thyme for Lunch also serves breakfast. “We love meeting our customers and getting to know them,” Mehta said. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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

This month in Zone 6: ESD No. 3 and Bexar-Bulverde VFD are planning for the future and addressing area growth and public safety, Dan Parman...