Page 1

pg.09 New trail for hikers, cyclists coming to Olmos Basin Park Public hearings provided input for $700,000-$1 million project


Vol. 2, Issue 7

King William

Monte Vista

Olmos Park

up to




PROJECT Terrell Hills


Creative Chair-man:



Robert Rehm

your community

pg. 03 local commentary SUSAN YERKES Paralyzed artist, theater director turns challenges into triumphs pg.10 Backpack-meal program bridges hunger It’s like he has gap in AHISD, SAISD

no limitations. People can’t believe what he does. I think he is an angel. Seriously

Snack Pak 4 Kids operating in Alamo Heights, Mahncke Park Photo by Joshua Michael

NEW YOU Fitness (pg.13)

Ray Chavez

Photo by Josh Huskin

by susan yerkes

pg.14 Downtown garden is a 'little patch' of nature Produce grown in shadow of Weston Centre feeds locals

fantastic deals

coupons INSIDE Discover the city through LOCAL deals from restaurants, retailers and services in your community, and save money while you do it! pg. 26


obert Rehm never planned to be a hero. But that’s exactly what he is to a lot of people, and being paralyzed and in a wheelchair is not slowing down the artist and theater director. “Robert has always amazed everybody with his talent,” said Ray Chavez, veteran director of Cornyation, the yearly spoof on Fiesta traditions. “It’s like he has no limitations. People can’t believe what he does. I think he is an angel. Seriously.” Brilliant graphic designer, creative spirit, dedicated teacher and treasured friend – his

Triumphs continues on pg. 16

Aztec Theatre downtown poised for rebirth pg.03 Legendary bluesman

Buddy Guy coming to perform in March

Photo by Aiessa Ammeter


January 2014

From the editor


President Harold J. Lees LocaL is wherePublisher Gregg Rosenfield you are.

From THe eDITorand Onward Assoc. Publisher Rick Upton

upward for 2014




he new elcome year is To Your FIrsT Issu locAl commuNITY NeWs. o upon us, philosophy here at the newspa which means it is keeping our readers in touch, informe is time to make and aware of what's happening in their neighborhoods street by street, business some resolutions. business, venue However, as theby venue and even in th circles of government and education. Australian moral in addition, we want to help our adve philosopher and sponsors Pete get the best results possibl by making LocAL the go-to choice for Singer once said, “The problem consumers who want to know where th isGETTING thatTO a resolution is generally managing editor greatest products and deals can be found. Travis E. Poling KNOW easier to break than it is to keep. ” ART We know readers have a wide variety of sources NOW editorial Assistant What I will dogetisinformation make a resolution about the world around them, bu Creative Director Orquiz lOOkiNg fOr RichardCollette here atCommunity LocAL we're taking a new approach to an on behalf of LOCAL THomAs Fisher Jr. idea: covering our local communities as thorough contributing Writers eDWArDs News to our readers, a promise Production Designer Sean Bowlin, Joyce Hotchkiss possible by featuring stories on the events and new ExECuTivE EdiTor we definitely canthat fulfill. and Kate Hunger have a direct impact on your life, your family Pete Morales During the coming year, we pledge neighbors and your friends. to • Army brat, grew up in proofreader • Editorial Contributing Photographers We want to focus on the everyday folks in the Joyce Hotchkiss keep offering the best news, commentary, San Antonio • ad dEsign/Editorial Aiessa Ammeter, Josh Huskin, community as well as the news-makers; we want • Has cats, features dogs andand other items that inform, ArT celebrate what is unique and what brings us toget Joshuacreative Michaels horsesentertain and educate our community. Director but to do this, we also need to hear from you – be R. Fisher Illustrator Favorite movies: already come a long way. In We’ve Contributing you are at the center of what we cover. "Planet of the Apes" contributing And we while it's true we are supported by advertis the summer of 2012, introduced Jeremiah Teutschphotographers (original), "Star Wars Collette Orquiz, Leland A. Outz emaiL and value the relationships our first two monthly zoned editionswe have with our cust Episode IV: A New thomas edwards Advertising the news and editorial content are independently Hope" to San Antonio filled ADVerTIsING with hyperlocal produced by a team of top-flight journalists Advertising Director Advertising Directors old newspaper news, followed by a third newspaper and photographers. or email nickname: "Kid Death" Jaselle Jaselle Luna Luna LocAL is mailed that December. Fast forward to directly July each month to reade Account manager motto: Saving the world living in hill Account Manager 2013,atwhen we created twocountry moreVillage, hollywood Park an Dawn Radick one sentence a time. As the San Antonio area codes 78232 and 78216. Kelly Jean Garza newspapers to serve the Metrocom continues to grow, knowing reADer serVIce This is not the only edition of LocAL we produ communities, bringing mailing Address what’s happening just down the Controller it is the only edition tailored to your life,our yourtotal interests, your community, your Gardendale Ste. 201 SA, TX 78229 street is harder to keep up with. Gerard 4204 number of papers to five. and your organizations. "Jerry" Sulaica Fax Local Community News monthly phone even Over if you didn't have the this newspaper to your home or business, y time, editions’delivered combined READER (210)SERVICE 338.8842 (210) 957.2799 editions have got San Antonio keep up with all the stories we cover by visiting circulation has grown to nearly 200,000 covered exploring neighborhood Mailing Advertising Inquiries Address LocAL wants to hear feedback on how we're doing, but also keep us in mind copies seen by interesting a diverseoraudience issues and trends and letting anytime you see something hear of something going on in your 4204 Gardendale Ste. 201 SA, TX 78229 readers know everything from what story Ideas in Bexar, Comal and Guadalupe community you think is newsworthy. Fax Phone business is coming in the next For instance, in this inaugural edition you will find stories about how techno counties. That is phenomenal block over to how local government(210) 338.8842 Website is helping emergency Medical Services tackle response times, efforts by neighb (210) 616.9677 growth by any measure. decisions will effect their lives. living near the San Antonio international Airport to soundproof their homes a Advertising Inquiries We also brought onboard some of comprehensive listinghave of news briefs in LocAL Lowdown. For advertising, customer service or editorial, please theabout region’s journalists and editors, We have an independent editorial So think us andbest let LocAL know what's important to you. i am no st call us at 210-338-8842 or write to us at: staff to report without fear or favor to San Antonio, having grown up here and having worked as a crime reporter, their talents illuminating the workings local community News Story Ideas 4204 Gardendale Ste. 201 to be a trustworthy source of news. and opinion writer off and on for nearly three decades. of our communities. And, of course, San Antonio, TX 78229 Editors and reporters want to i can be reached at or at tips@salocallowdow there is our Creative Director Rick from the readers, community Website Reproduction in whole or in part without The Free Home Manager System Just Became hear our permission is prohibited, Fisher, whosefaCEBook.CoM/sAlocAlcommuNITYNeWs designs dazzle the eyes. leaders and businesses about what 2012 Helen Publishing, LLC and is important to them. A Lot More Powerful. So Can You. TwiTTEr.CoM/sAlocAlloWDoWN But we’re not stopping there. We Local Community News, LLC, all rights reserved. have plans for expansion in 2014. With Home Manager and the new app you can monitor and control LOCAL Community News publications (More on that in another column.) your HVAC system, water heater, and even a pool pump Zone 2: 78213, 78230, 78231, 78248, 78249 In the meantime, we will remain open Zone 3: 78216, 78232, 78247 from your smart phone. 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Editorial LocaL is what Executive Editor president Harold J. Lees we do. Thomas Edwards publisher News Staff Gregg Rosenfield Collette Orquiz and Will Wright Assoc. publisher Rick Upton Contributing Writers Olivier J. Bourgoin, Joyce Hotchkiss, Kate eDITorIAl Hunger,executuve Travis E.editor Poling, Gianna Rendon and Thomas Edwards Susan Yerkes


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12/11/13 1:14 PM

Thomas Edwards executive Editor


local commentary

A new year’s resolution: Practice compassion by susan yerkes


elson Mandela was a man of fierce compassion. When the world mourned his death in December, I recalled meeting him at an International Women’s Forum Conference in Johannesburg a few years ago. Mandela’s battle against the injustice that shamed his homeland led him, before his imprisonment, to endorse violent resistance. But instead of growing bitter in prison, he grew stronger in the belief that only compassionate change could save his country. And he led that change after his release. The word "compassion" is cropping

up everywhere. A network of organizations across this area are working to earn San Antonio the formal designation of an internationally recognized “Compassionate City.” I learned about the movement at the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest’s 9th Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner and Awards in December. I also met Compassionate San Antonio volunteer Narjis Pierre, who works with the Peace CENTER, a nonprofit that created a website and serves as a reference point for the initiative. She told me about the Charter for Compassion, created in 2008 by author and teacher Karen Armstrong, whose best-selling book “12 Steps Toward A Compassionate Life” was a springboard for the idea. Armstrong describes it like this: “A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry; if every child isn't loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive… when as a community we don't treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated….and where many of its citizens and leaders joyfully embrace a vision of what compassion will look like in their community.”

Rebirth continues from pg. 01

The website has proved a powerful tool for creating awareness and consensus-building, and also distributing a calendar of events. Pierre said supporters can sign the charter online, or at one of many local events the group organizes or helps promote. Earning the formal Compassionate City designation will require the City Council to endorse the document. That has already happened in a number of cities. On Jan. 26, the Peace CENTER will hold its annual interfaith Blessing of the Peacemakers and name a new San Antonio Peace Laureate, and they’re organizing a major conference on compassion in March. A rapidly growing number of groups are hosting events focused on compassion. “People respond well to the word compassion,” Pierre said. Our bodies respond well, too. Neurological research shows our brains are “hard-wired for compassion,” according to neurosurgeon James Doty, director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. He recently spoke at Trinity University. As you work to change your community and the world, it seems, you’re also

building a stronger body and brain. As the new year begins, I’m putting “More Compassion Action” on my resolution list. I hope you’ll join me. May we all enjoy the best one yet! Email comments to syerkes@

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Room to expand at Aztec for offices, hotel by olivier j. bourgoin


huttered for a time and gathering dust, the historically significant Aztec Theatre downtown is poised for a rebirth as a prime concert venue and multipurpose center, according to entertainment entrepreneur Samuel Panchêvre.

Designed by the firm of Meyer and Holler and built by the Kellwood Corp. at a cost of $1.75 million in 1926, the Aztec has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since October 1992. It closed its doors in 1989, then has opened briefly since then, including a few times the last few years as an IMAX-style movie house and a venue for a classic country show. But now the theater is reopening with a flourish, said the French-born Panchêvre. "I … love the history of this place," Panchêvre said. "It was built in the era of silent movies and some of

Samuel Panchêvre and his partners are renovating downtown's Aztec Theatre as a modern performance venue, but plan to keep many of the theater's features from the silent-movie era. Photo by Aiessa Ammeter

the original elements are still in place, reflective of that era." To punctuate his enthusiasm, Panchêvre proudly showed off the theater's vintage, bright-red Wurlitzer organ that was custom-built to produce sound effects for silent movies.

Rebirth continues on pg. 12

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Happening LOCAL

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



the River Walk from 5-10 along Josephine Street to Alamo Street will be partially drained for maintenance. It will be refilled and operational by Jan. 12. The river loop will not be affected, officials said. The south lane on East. Nueva Street between Main Plaza/Dwyer Avenue and South St. Mary’s Street will be closed. Eastbound traffic along of East Nueva will be maintained.




on the new health care law are taking place in the auditorium at the Central Library, 600 Soledad St. Representatives from the Centers for

Medicare and Medicaid Services will answer questions, and trained health care navigators will be available to help with applications for insurance coverage. All sessions start at 6 p.m. The rest of the sessions are scheduled for Jan. 23, Feb. 13 and 27, and March 13 and 27.




Audubon Society’s monthly gathering starts at 7 p.m. at The First Tee, 915 E. Mulberry Ave. Tom and Patsy Inglet present “The Penguin Picture Show and Other Antarctic Delights.” There is no charge, and non-members are welcome. For more, go to

ha p p ening k ey







Western and Heritage art show, sponsored by the


class aimed at senior citizens promises to be fun and informative as Dr. Denise Barkis Richter, a communications professor at Palo Alto College, teaches about tweeting and blogging. The program starts at noon at the TriPoint YMCA, 3233 N. St. Mary’s St. For more information, call Caroline McMillian at 246-9622. Providence Catholic School, which bills itself as “the college preparatory school for girls grades six12,” will hold an open house from 9 to 11 a.m. In addition to touring the campus, visitors can talk to faculty and staff members as well as students and parents. For more, call the school at 224-6651. The school is at 1215 N. St. Mary’s St.


The musicians in Advance Cassette, who churn out smooth garage-rock tunes reminiscent of an earlier time, will be taking the stage at The Ten Eleven, 9 p.m. Jan. 25, cover to be announced, with other local musicians. Photo by Collette Orquiz


Alamo Kiwanis Club Charities Inc., opens with a preview party 7 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Full Goods Breezeway at the Pearl Studio, 200 E. Grayson St. Tickets are $150 per person. The art show and sale continues 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 18; it is free and open to the public. To purchase tickets for the preview or for more information, call 226-4651 or visit The show includes artwork from 40 Western artists. Proceeds benefit local children's charities.

TOWER CLIMB & RUN The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 1 Lone Star Chapter raises funds for research with this annual event, which features a run up the 952 steps of the Tower of the Americas in HemisFair Park. There will be competitive and non-competitive feb





groups, and one for firefighters only. Registration costs $25 and the minimum fundraising amount for participating is $60. Day-of registration, at 6 a.m. at the Tower, is $100 and is for the non-competitive run only. For more on packet pickup, rules and start times, go to Chapters/lonestar/ and click on the event box, which has a link to a registration page.

ASIAN FESTIVAL The Year of the Horse will be welcomed 1 with a day of celebration at the Institute of Texan Cultures. There will be musical and cultural performances, dance, martial-arts demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, palm reading and craft vendors. And, of course, there will be food – Japanese, Laotian, Filipino, Thai and others. Tickets cost $8 in advance or $10 at the gate; tickets for children 6 to 12 are $5 and those under 6 get in free. The ITC is at 801 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd. A related photo exhibit, “Is This My Shangri-La?”, opens at the Institute the same day and runs through April 20. The photographs, by Dr. Lopita Nath of the University of the Incarnate Word, offer a glimpse of life in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal. feb

KHAKI & PLAID GALA The Catholic Archdiocese of San 1 Antonio’s annual fundraiser begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Convention Center. Admission prices start at $150 a person and go up to $25,000 for a top-level sponsorship. A ticket covers dinner, drinks, entertainment and participation in a prize-filled auction. The gala benefits Hope for the Future’s Catholic school-tuition assistance program. For tickets, which can be reserved online or by mail, click on the gala link at feb

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Library’s Teen Tutors will 2 conduct a live science experiment for children in kindergarten through fifth grade as part of the library’s free Tutoring for Young Children program; Science Experiments LIVE! will take place the first Sunday of every month. Sessions run from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room of the library, 233 Bushnell Ave. Reservations are strongly encouraged; to reserve a seat, contact Beatrice Canales,

Elsewhere in San Antonio TAP ACADEMY These weekly weekly classes, put on by the Third

Coast Rhythm Project, offer tap-dancing instruction for ages 4 and up; they’re the only tap classes in town for adults. The next adult absolute-beginner classes, an introduction to tap-dancing, run 1-2 p.m. for six Saturdays, Jan. 18-Feb. 22, and 6:30-7:30 p.m. on six Wednesdays, Jan. 29-March 5. The cost is $48; classes take place at the Third Coast studio at 8055 West Ave., Suite 111. All other classes are ongoing and can be joined at any time, starting Jan. 7. More information is available at http://www.thirdcoastrhythm. com or by calling 348-8005.

RETIRED TEACHERS The North San Antonio Retired 15 Teachers Association will open its January meeting with a “meet and greet” at 9:45 a.m.; the meeting will start at 10:15 a.m. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus will be the guest speaker. It takes place at San Pedro Presbyterian Church, 14900 San Pedro Ave., and members are encouraged to bring a friend. jan



SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION The San Antonio Chapter of the

national organization will hold its monthly luncheon meeting at the Petroleum Club, 8620 N. New Braunfels Ave., at 11:30 a.m. Lunch costs $25. Reservations are required and should be made with Bob Clark, 402-0871, or, by the Monday prior to the meeting. The chapter meets on the third Wednesday of the month (except for July and August).




Professionals Network gathering will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Crystal Room of the Old San Francisco Steakhouse, 10223 Sahara Drive. Admission costs $15 and covers appetizers and dancing; there will be a cash bar at happy-hour prices. Tickets must be purchased by Jan. 27; call 568-7170. SPN is a social organization for mature widowed, divorced and single people. To see more of their events, go to




for CIELO Gardens will feature foods from a variety of countries, as well as live entertainment and a silent auction of handcrafted items. It benefits the local refugee community through the garden, a place that allows them to grow their own food and work with others who are also starting a new life in the United States. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at House of Prayer Lutheran Church, 10226 Ironside Drive. For more information or to buy tickets, which are $25, call Arisa Rice at (281) 690-3458.

Submitting events: Email all

the details along with your contact information two months in advance to

LOCAL Live Music

1/10 Mingo Fishtrap, Roxy Roca, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $13/$17

KEY: AT&T Center, 1 AT&T Center Parkway, 444-5000 Backstage Live, 1305 E. Houston St., 689-2856 Limelight, 2718 N. St. Mary’s St., 735-7775 Sam’s Burger Joint, 330 E. Grayson St., 223-2830 The Korova, 107 E. Martin St., 995-7229 The Mix, 2423 N. St. Mary’s St., 735-1313 The Ten Eleven, 1011 Avenue B, 320-9080 White Rabbit, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., 737-2221

1/13 Swing Nite: Matt The Cat Trio, 7 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $9/$10

1/09 Jartse Tuominen, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $8

1/11 Junior Brown, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $16.50/$20

1/15 AFI, 7 p.m., White Rabbit, $35.02 1/17 Carolyn Wonderland, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $15/$18 1/20 Amon Amarth, 7 p.m., Backstage Live, $26.78 1/22 Bury The Hatchet, Falling In Reverse, Backstage Live, $26.78 1/23 The Roadshow: Skillet, Third Day, Andy

Music continues on pg. 08

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January 2014

Address of local business


Name of local business

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

Open and Opening Soon

veterans. For more, call 218-5506 or visit the website at


groundbreaking Dec. 6 near downtown at 415 Burnet St. to kick off the Alamo Beer microbrewery, an $8 million project hailed by District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor as an economic investment in the neighborhood.

1. TINY FINCH, 302 Pearl Parkway, Suite

116, is a new shop at the Pearl specializing in home accents, décor and jewelry. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more, call 601-7755. To see some of the inventory, follow the shop on Instagram at thetinyfinch/. (See story on page 21)


2. LOS FROGS mexican bar-n-grill,

2106 N. St. Mary's St. in Tobin Hill, bills itself as a Mexican restaurant, bar and grill down on the St. Mary's Strip. There also is live music, beer, wine and an outdoor patio. Hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more, call 320-2196 or visit it on Facebook. (See story on page 23)

3. MIXTLI, 5251 McCullough Ave., is a

small, intimate restaurant inside a rail car and named after the Aztec word for "cloud." The staff says the menu "like clouds … travels from place to place offering a tour in Mexican gastronomy." Located in The Yard

Mixtli in Olmos Park offers a trip though Mexican cuisine. Photo by Collette Orquiz

3 The folks at Los Frogs Mexican Bar-n-Grill serve up eats such as the flautas (top, left) filled with shredded chicken or beef; Huaraches Froggies, a corn tortilla topped with chicken or beef, onions, beans, cilantro, green salsa and cheese (top, right); and lots of fresh salsas in a variety of flavors. Photos by Collette Orquiz

in Olmos Park, the restaurant under the umbrella of the Mixtli Foundation supports three charitable programs, including one that provides a no-cost meal each month for 12 wounded warriors and their families. The staff has launched a crowd-sourcing initiative to pay for a garden on the restaurant's rooftop. For more, call 832-5208928, visit or find it on Facebook. (See story on page 22)

4. ALAMO OLIVE OIL CO., 7400 San Pedro Ave., Suite 944, has just opened in North Star Mall and offers aged balsamic vinegar and gourmet extra-virgin olive oils from around

the world, infused with rosemary, lime, lemon, black truffle and chipotle. There also are daily tastings. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more, call 525-1200 or visit (See story on page 20)

5 21


Heights area, offers programs designed to treat anger and addictive behaviors under the guidance of Danuta Siemek, a licensed chemical-dependency counselor and angerresolution therapist with more than 20 years' experience, including working with

Time for a classic? A gorgeous smile is timeless. For patients who experience anxiety, we offer Twilight Sedation. Mention this ad and receive 1/2 OFF the sedation fee, through January.


Ivy Lane Dentistry is a full service family dental office offering a superior experience in family care, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry for over 15 years. See Details at: 1073 Ivy Lane, San Antonio, TX 78209


THE ALAMO HEIGHTS SCHOOL FOUNDATION recently awarded 39 grants

totaling $150,000 to teachers in the Alamo Heights Independent School District. Grant awards include $10,000 to the Alamo Heights High School Rocketry Program; $10,000 split among AHISD libraries for e-books; $10,000 to supply iPads to the high school's math department; $10,000 for SMART boards for Alamo Heights Junior School social studies classes; $7,800 for aquatic research materials for the high school's biology students; $7,900 for Istation, a computer-based reading program at Howard Early Childhood Center and Cambridge and Woodridge elementary schools; more than $5,000 for materials at the high school to study radiation and nuclear chemistry; $5,000 for MacBooks at Howard to complete the computer lab; more than $2,000 for the junior school for iPads for individualized instruction with students with dyslexia; more than $5,000 for Google Chromebooks for fifthgraders at Cambridge; more than $2,500 for a Spanish audio library at Cambridge; and more than $2,000 for mobile lab tables for Woodridge science teachers. The grant program was established in 1998 as encouragement to teachers to

motivate and inspire their students.


during a recent meeting lifted a 90-day demolition ban on a home in the 200 block of Corona Avenue after revisions to the original plan; approved a recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission to adopt a new zoning map of the city; approved a 20-year franchise agreement with CPS Energy for the transmission, distribution and sale of electricity and gas services in consideration for an increased franchise fee from 3 percent to 4 percent of the utility's gross receipts from the sale of electricity and gas services; and authorized spending $77,208 on a new garbage truck for the Public Works Department.


named The Landa Tutoring Program a Library Champion during a recent awards ceremony. The program, overseen by the Landa Teen Library Leadership Council, is offered for free at the Landa Branch Library, 233 Bushnell Ave. in the Monte Vista Historic District. The tutors offer help to students in kindergarten through fifth grade with math, reading, writing and science. Students requiring

help come from the Alamo Heights and San Antonio independent school districts. According to the library system, nine tutors received honors including Brigitte Bordelon, Madeline Carrola, Hana Kapasi, Nabil Kapasi, Yashdeep Sahota, Paul Lopez-Perryman, Carolina Uzquiano, Lola Carrola and Gladis Piña.

International Airport reflects the rapid progress we are making to enhance cultural and economic ties with our city's biggest trade partner," Mayor Julián Castro said. "I am looking forward to a successful partnership with Volaris."


THE JEWELRY STORE in Concord Plaza, 7720 Jones Maltsberger Road, Suite 109, recently donated contributions of unworn costume jewelry brought in by clients to Family Violence Prevention Services. The program, known as Otra Vida or "Another Life," gives battered women an extra boost of confidence, according to staffers at the store.

VOLARIS RECENTLY STARTED TWICE WEEKLY nonstop service from San Antonio International Airport to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Officials said the route represents the 27th destination the airline operates from Guadalajara, its hub city. San Antonio marks Volaris’ first entry into Texas and its 12th market in the United States. "The addition of Guadalajara as the fifth Mexican destination with nonstop service from San Antonio

from college-bound high school seniors living in the San Antonio area with interests and abilities in the performing arts. The Las Casas Foundation is offering more than $85,000 in scholarships. Application forms, along with application requirements, audition guidelines and scholarship criteria, are available at www.lascasasfoundation. org. Applications may be submitted online and must be received by Feb. 17, 2014. Four categories are featured in the competition: vocal solo, acting solo, acting duet and dance solo. Scholarships are also awarded to essay winners and an additional $5,000 is awarded to the overall category winner, meaning one senior will act, sing or dance away with $10,000. Preliminary auditions, judged by theater professionals, will take place in April at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater in San Antonio.

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January 2014

local our turn

Views and opinions about your community.

Time to ban plastic bags


t's time to seal the deal and ban plastic bags. The ubiquitous bags found at grocery stores and other retail outlets may be the height of convenience, but they also damage the environment and cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year to clean up. A ban on plastic bags is gaining momentum under an initiative pushed by San Antonio Councilman Cris Medina. Several City Council members have already indicated they support such a prohibition. Other environmentally conscious cities in the region may wish to follow their example to improve the appearance of their municipalities. The San Antonio measure calls for the ban of single-use plastic bags found at Target, Walmart, Home Depot, booksellers, H-E-B, toy stores, filling stations, restaurants and countless other shopping venues. There is no question the bags make life easier for shoppers. Buy your wares, fill the bags up, go home, unload them and throw them away. But throwing them away is the problem. The durable plastic bags create pollution because they take decades or even centuries to disintegrate. The ubiquitous carryalls clog rivers and landfills, get caught in trees and bushes and are a public-health nuisance. In addition to being eyesores, they also

pose risks to small children and animals. As columnist Susan Yerkes noted last month, it takes about 12 million barrels of oil a year to manufacture the millions of bags. That's another environmental cost. And taxpayers also take a hit in the wallet. In San Antonio alone, officials say the city spends about $1.3 million a year cleaning up and recycling plastic bags. Across the state, according to Medina's office, that cost is $25 million. San Antonio is not alone in its desire to protect the environment by prohibiting the bags. Several Texas cities have banned plastic bags including Austin, Brownsville, El Paso and Georgetown. A ban is also being considered in Houston and Dallas. Retailers have voiced concerns about the prohibition, saying it stifles commerce, is hard on customers and crushes innovation. One compromise could be an increased effort by businesses and consumers to practice recycling, but the honest truth is that an outright ban on the bags improves the environment, creates a better appearance for the city and produces far less waste. A ban only means a small period of adjustment for consumers, who will have to remember to bring reusable bags to stores — or purchase them there for a nominal fee. That's not so hard to do. Thousands are already doing the same thing in other Texas cities. Plus, most consumers are already used to self-service gas stations and selfcheckouts at big retail outlets. Becoming accustomed to bringing one's own reusable shopping bags is not much of a leap. For the betterment of the environment and a cleaner future, plastic bags need to be sacked.

The Local Community News editorial board includes Harry Lees, Gregg Rosenfield and Thomas Edwards. Send letters to the editor to or snail mail them to Local Community News, 4204 Gardendale, Suite 201, San Antonio, TX 78229. We reserve the right to edit for taste, grammar and length.

Music continues from pg. 05 Mineo, Jamie Grace, Royal Tailor, Soulfire Revolution, we As Human, The Neverclaim, Vertical Church Band, 7 p.m., AT&T Center, $20 1/24 Bleu Edmondson Band, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $12/$15 1/24 Hot Chocolate Tour: The Front Bottoms, You Blew It!, Limelight, 8 p.m., $15.97 1/ 25 Advance Cassette, Antique Sunlight, Marina Katalina, New Hampshire, 9 p.m., The Ten Eleven, cover TBA 1/25 Danger*Cakes, The Hares, 8 p.m., The Mix, free 1/26 Greg Trooper, 7 p.m., Sam’s

Burger Joint, $10/$12 1/30 Skinny Puppy, 8 p.m., Backstage Live, $32.45 1/31 SKYROCKET!, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $12/$15 2/1 Mount Pressmore, The Rosedale Highs, 8 p.m., The Mix, free 2/3 Emery, RMRS, 7 p.m., White Rabbit, $17 2/5 Rhett Miller, Salim Nourallah, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $15/$18 2/5 The Kin, 7 p.m., The Korova, $14.94 2/6 Chris Duarte Group, 8 p.m., Sam’s Burger Joint, $10/$13


UT Medicine San Antonio Medical Arts & Research Center

Park continues from pg. 01

Concrete trail will be more durable by collette Orquiz


he design phase is nearing an end for a proposed trail in Olmos Basin Park with a tentative completion date in late 2014. The project is expected to be put out to bid in January, and construction could start in the spring. Costs could range from $700,000 to $1 million based on similar projects in the past, city officials said. “It makes for a good trail because the city already owns the properties, so we get kind of a big value for the dollar spent,” said Brandon Ross, special projects manager with the city Parks and Recreation Department. The city still has other park ventures under way, so as revenue is collected it will spend it on the Olmos Park Basin project without selling bonds. The trail will cater to both hiking and biking enthusiasts, and is one of several projects created as part of a 2010 sales-tax initiative. It is now in

the capital budget for San Antonio. Hikers and bike riders can expect a trail about a mile long that extends through the park starting at Dick Friedrich Road and heading north to Basse Road. Instead of using Devine Road, a bridge will be built as a safer alternative to get hikers and bikers to the intersection of Jones Maltsberger Road and Basse. After starting the design phase earlier this year, two public meetings were held, including the most recent on Dec. 3. Ross said Parks and Rec personnel have received a positive response. Girl Scout Troop 739 leader Ida De La Rosa Spence said she looks forward to the completion of the trail, especially since her troop frequently uses the park for activities, projects and ceremonies. “Urban outreach in the inner city is a good thing, not just for the neighborhood but, so many more people can learn so much about this wonderful park that has been overlooked by the historians of the city,” De La Rosa Spence said. “We still have a long road ahead to make it great.” The trail will be paved with concrete for optimal upkeep, and according to Ross it is the best material to use. Concrete is

Park continues on pg. 10

A new, one-mile trail coming to Olmos Basin Park will feature a durable concrete surface that should appeal to both hikers and cycling enthusiasts, according to the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. Photos by Joshua Michael

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January 2014

Park continues from pg. 09 durable and requires the least amount of maintenance. Because Olmos Basin Park is in a floodplain, it is solid choice over gravel or other mediums that could wash away. The city has built 45 miles of greenway so far, and with proper funding they hope to bump it up to 86 miles and complete an entire circle around the city.

Other parts of the effort include trails being built on Salado Creek, Leon Creek and tributaries for Olmos Creek and West Side creeks. Ross said they have also received positive feedback on the citywide greenway trail system. “The greenways have been instrumental in the effort to give more opportunities to San Antonio to have fitness, health and well-being,” Ross said.

City officials have held two public hearings with schematics to discuss details of a new trail coming to Olmos Basin Park that could be finished late this year. Photo by Joshua Michael

Snack pack continues from pg. 01

Staff IDs hungry students to benefit from program by kate hunger


or children without enough food at home, weekends often mean the rumble of empty stomachs. A weekend snack program at elementary schools in Alamo Heights and Mahncke Park aims to bridge the gap between lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday. The Snack Pak 4 Kids program began in September 2010 in Amarillo, when program founder Dyron Howell started feeding 10 kids in his kitchen. Now, some 4,300 children in the Panhandle are served through the program, which is the model for Cambridge Elementary School in the Alamo Heights Independent School District and Lamar Elementary in San Antonio ISD. Madison Elementary, another SAISD school near the Monticello Park

Historic District, is also participating. “You can’t learn anything on an empty stomach,” Howell said. Food insecurity means having limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food. In Texas, 27.6 percent of children and 18.7 percent of households were food insecure in the 2009-11 period, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap. Snack Pak 4 Kids began last

You can't learn anything on an empty stomach Dyron Howell

school year at Lamar. Program organizer Leslie Kingman’s church, Grace Fellowship, supports the project by paying for the snacks, donating jars of peanut butter and providing volunteers to help unpack, sort and distribute the bags of food to teachers, who slip the


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11 bags into students' backpacks. Corporate partners include Labatt Food Service, which sells the snacks at a discounted price and delivers them to the schools, and H-E-B, which donates plastic grocery bags. H-E-B also donates fresh fruit to Lamar. Teachers and counselors help identify students they think will benefit from the snack bags and parents sign a permission form, Kingman said. Extra snack bags are sent home before school breaks. Feedback from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive, she said, pointing to a survey of faculty taken last spring that affirmed the need for the program and its positive effects on student attendance, attention, behavior and health. About one-third of Lamar’s 230 students take part in the program, school counselor Kim Aston said. She said she believes the program has increased Lamar’s attendance rate. “Historically we’ve had poor attendance,” she said. “All of a sudden this year we got the trophy for being No. 1 in our area of the district.” Volunteers, many from the participating churches, unpack and sort boxes of snacks, and pack and distribute grocery sacks to teachers. The bags sent home the week before winter break included sunflower seeds, cereal, boxed milk and juice, beef sticks, crackers, applesauce and fruit-cereal bars. “I have elementary school kids, which gives you compassion for kids who don’t have a drawer full of snacks in their kitchen,” said Amanda Kessler, as she loaded up bags to be delivered to teachers at Lamar the week before Christmas. Kessler volunteers with the Cambridge program as well. Pam Colbert decided to start a Snack Pak program at Cambridge in Alamo Heights after listening to a first-grader’s stomach growl during a reading session last year. She asked him if he’d had breakfast. He said he’d eaten all of his school breakfast but it wasn’t enough. “But we didn’t have much to eat at my house this weekend and I’m still hungry,” he told Colbert. “Those few sentences from a 6-yearold caught my attention,” Colbert said. All children deserve a fair chance to learn without the worry and distraction of hunger, she said. “Just imagine the dividends that (are) going to pay off for that student and for our community if we take away that stress” of being hungry, she said. First Presbyterian Church, Kingdom Life House, Alamo Heights United Methodist Church and Grace Fellowship all support the project at Cambridge. Christ Episcopal Church is supporting the program at Madison Elementary.

It began in late November and was passing out 20 bags each week within three weeks, Principal Barbara Black said. Although far fewer students at Cambridge receive free or reduced lunch—21 percent compared to almost 95 percent at Lamar—Colbert said one of the biggest challenges she has faced in establishing the project is dispelling the myth there are no hungry children in wealthy schools. Forty-five weekend snack bags were sent home with students each week in December at Cambridge, Colbert said. In all the programs, bags are sent home for younger siblings as needed. The program relieves some of the pressure on parents struggling to pay for other necessities such as housing and utilities, Cambridge counselor Lauren Boyher said. “The No. 1 thing at school is (a child’s)

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For more information on how you can help Snack Pak 4 Kids:

• Lamar Elementary: contact Leslie Kingman at 831-4499 or • Cambridge Elementary: call 822-3611. • Madison Elementary: call 736-3356.

safety, and part of that is coming to school fed and ready to learn. Forget math facts—you’ve got to get something in your belly first,” she said. Colbert said she would like to see the program expand to other campuses and noted that Howard Early Childhood Center, AHISD’s preschool and kindergarten campus, is taking steps to start its own Snack Pak 4 Kids program. Given the rapid expansion of the program in the Panhandle, Kingman said she sees no reason why foodinsecure children in South and Central Texas should not also be receiving the same kind of support. “We could do the same thing here — and all over the Hill Country,” she said. Kingman said Grace Fellowship, which already had established other service projects at Lamar, including a fall festival and holiday gift market, has made a long-term commitment to the program. And yet, many children remain unsure of their next meal, she said. “There are many schools that are not being served,” she said. “There is tremendous potential for more children to be helped through nonprofits and churches (that) are looking to serve the underserved.”

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January 2014

Rebirth continues from pg. 03 According to media reports, Panchêvre and his partners are putting about $2 million into renovations for the 87-year-old theater, which will feature a performance March 6 by legendary Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy. Additional acts are still being finalized for February at the venue, 201 E. Commerce St. at North St. Mary's Street. With 41,000 square feet, including 23,000 in the auditorium, the theater can accommodate up to 2,000 people. Panchêvre and his partners are planning on bringing major acts to the Alamo City, he said. "With River Walk access on the bottom floor, we want the Aztec to become a multipurpose event center usable not only for concerts but also for corporate events," Panchêvre said. "Too many times in the past, San Antonio has been bypassed by major promoters in favor of Austin or Houston and Dallas. The main reason is because we didn't have the venue to accommodate their needs. But we're going to change that so people can come to San Antonio and spend time on the River Walk. San Antonio

needs and deserves such a facility." As part of the San Antonio Theater District that included four other landmarks — the Alameda, the Empire, the Majestic and the Texas theaters; all built from 19141949 — the Aztec has been remodeled a few times during its several decades. In 1989, after years of slow decline, its doors were closed. The enormous lobby and cavernous auditorium lay dormant for nearly two decades. After major renovations, it reopened briefly in 2007 only to close again soon afterward. In August 2009 it debuted as a concert venue, featuring a two-hour live show that included a mix of traditional country, western swing and gospel music and performances by the San Antonio Rose Live band, a nine-piece ensemble of professional musicians hailing from Austin, Branson, Mo.; Nashville and San Antonio. But in February 2012, the Aztec went dark again. Panchêvre, business partner Keith Howerton and his wife, Becca, who are also partners with him in Sam's Burger Joint, can't wait to get the lights turned back on and return the Aztec to its original grandeur. "We've done well making Sam's Burger Joint into a premier music venue and now

A massive two-ton chandelier in the lobby, a distinctive Aztec sculpture outside that opens onto the River Walk and a Wurlitzer organ are among the features that will help return the Aztec Theatre to its former glory, an entrepreneur says. Photos by Aiessa Ammeter

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we want to do the same thing with the Aztec on a bigger scale," Panchêvre said. The renovated Aztec has several features that will please patrons, he predicted. "I'm especially excited about a couple of unique features about this building," Panchêvre said. "The lobby — which includes a massive two-ton chandelier — always impresses people. We plan on turning it into a high-end lounge for downtown patrons." The plan is to open the lobby on Saturdays and on First Fridays. In addition, concertgoers will be able to enjoy a drink before and after concerts. "We are also completely redoing the area in front of the stage. We took out all the seats and instead we are constructing several tiered platforms where people will be able to stand and dance during concerts. Those who would rather sit will be able to buy tickets in the seated area on the balcony," he said. Someday, additional stories could be added above existing floors for office space,

perhaps even a boutique hotel with a theme restaurant and luxury penthouses, he said. Panchêvre, who moved to San Antonio in 1979, fell in love with the city and "saw a lot of opportunities." "After my father moved our family from France to Canada and then to Florida, I came to San Antonio as an Air Force recruit working as a veterinary specialist. I was based out of Randolph (Air Force Base) for four years," he said. He met his wife, Maricela, during this time; they married in 1984 and their four children range in age from 17 to 23. Panchêvre has been involved in numerous projects since then, most of them involving real-estate development and partnerships; several have been on or near the River Walk and a few others including bars and restaurants. In addition to Sam's Burger Joint on Broadway near the Pearl, other ventures include the Ticket Sports Pub on Houston Street and the Adobe Verde restaurant in Gruene.

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or anyone downtown seeking a break from the monotony of skyscrapers and parking lots, some urban sowers of the soil suggest a quiet visit to The Little Patch Garden to soothe the soul.

The 5,000-square-foot community garden at 405 N. Main Ave. is a former empty lot transformed by volunteers into a vibrant green space. It offers a few picnic tables, nine raised beds

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January 2014

fashioned from wood and galvanized-steel roofing, and wooden compost bins. “Downtown is very polarized, right, so you have really rich people walking next to really poor people,” said Steve Flannery, lead volunteer for the garden. “I want the garden to be kind of a neutral zone where a businessman can take a break from his business and sit here and drink some coffee or a homeless person can lie down on a bench and take a nap. Gardens do that, gardens naturally do that.” The idea for the Little Patch Garden started two years ago, Flannery said. Dustin Larimer and Nicholas Longo, cofounder of Geekdom, looked out the window of the 11th floor of the Weston Centre, saw the empty lot and decided to do something about it. The garden, located near the intersection of Pecan and Flores streets, began to take shape in 2012 during an effort led by Ethan Jones, Katie Lee and Larimer. The garden, which is exposed on all sides, is open to the public.

Little patch continues on pg. 18

Downtown's Little Patch Garden, a work-in-progress by volunteers, is both a place where produce is grown and visitors can stop for a relaxing moment. Photos by Joshua Michael

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friends say Rehm has always been those things. But in 2006, life dealt him a blow that might have changed everything. Rehm, then-theater director at Jefferson High School, was coaching students for a University Interscholastic League contest when he fell off the school stage into the orchestra pit, severing his spinal cord. That he lived was a small miracle. To many, what happened next was a bigger one. While his friends and family worried how he could live without being able to make art, Rehm got busy figuring out new ways to do it. For the next six months, first at University Hospital, then at the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, he learned to live in a very different body. His brain is intact. He can still hear, speak and control the muscles in his left eye. With the help of his round-the clock helpers, he has made what many consider a truly amazing comeback.

Co., where he’s part of the leadership team. And he’s still refining a new art form he invented those first few months in the hospital — rolling his chair over paint on canvas to create patterns, then finishing the works with a brush he holds in his mouth as he directs his assistants on how to move the canvas with his eyes. He calls his art shows QuadTrax. He also returned to one of his favorite Fiesta events, the Cornyation, designing and directing some of the “royal” courts and skits each year. A scholarship in his name dedicates some of each year’s profits (all the rest of which go to AIDS-related charities) for a theater scholarship for talented high school students. Rehm lives in a small, treasure-packed home in the Lavaca area. One of the first projects he pulled off after the accident was a neighborhood Easter parade and block party for his new neighbors there. Rehm’s creations and collections are arranged everywhere — paintings, programs from shows he has helped write or design, Venetian Carnival masks and white wooden birdhouses. Scores of hats adorn the walls. The small bathroom doubles as a gallery lined with framed Fiesta posters. Rehm pointed to a particularly striking one. “That’s the one I did for this past year’s Fiesta poster contest,” he said. “It didn’t win. Maybe I’ll enter it again.”


Headed west

Triumphs continues from pg. 01

Rehm wears many hats, stays busy

Using his breath, Rehm controls his high-tech wheelchair by puffing through a long plastic straw. He has become proficient using the same technique to control his computer cursor. He’s still creating graphics, and writing and designing for Jump-Start Performance

Rehm also has pictures of his recent trip to Hollywood — an amazing crosscountry trek in a special van with four attendants, with a U-Haul to carry all the contraptions that keep him going, including his special bed. He raised the funds with a four-month online campaign, giving

Artist and director Robert Rehm, who is paralyzed from the neck down, continues to create artwork by rolling his wheelchair over paint on the canvas, then completing the works with a brush held in his mouth. His assistants move the canvas for him. This work is titled 'Blue Hebrew.' Courtesy photo

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Susan Melton, a home health care assistant and nurse, has been with Rehm since the accident. “I can’t even imagine someone going through what Robert has gone through and being so completely positive every day,” she said. “He is still an amazing artist. We just have to take different avenues. You have us nurses who can’t even do touch-up paint, and Robert’s determination to make everything work, and be OK, just is incredible." His enthusiasm for life and adventure has not dimmed, she added. "The trip to Hollywood was our second big one; we went to New York City seven years ago," Melton said. "He took everything in, and just radiated happiness. It is so cool to see him light up like that.” Rehm spent his early childhood REMAINING ARTISTIC in Cuero, where he had his How did he develop the kind of dexterity first theatrical experience. it takes to create art with a puff-powered “It’s kind of ironic – the first high cursor or a brush between his teeth? school show I did was 'Alice in Wonderland,' with these elaborate Friends say Robert Rehm, who was paralyzed after a spinal cord painted sets; and injury, remains an unstoppable creative force and continues to write, the very last show travel and paint — such as this work, 'Ebenazio.' Courtesy photo I directed more than 30 years later was 'Alice in Wonderland' at Jefferson,” he said. Rehm had a graphic-arts business in San Antonio before he decided to teach. “In ’96, when Jefferson became a magnet school for the arts, a friend who taught English there convinced me to apply. I found out I had the job the day before classes started. I was thrown to the wolves,” he laughed. But he loved it. So did his students. “So many of them stay in touch. They are terrific.” Any big projects in the offing now? “I’ve been thinking about another play," he said. "I’ve done some work on a script, and “When I was a kid, I was the Jump-Start would produce it. It’s about a master of the Etch A Sketch,” he said. quadriplegic who has psychic powers." “It was great for hand-eye —well, Maybe later this year… but first, now mouth-ey—coordination.” he has a party to produce.

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away some of his artwork for donations. There was a brief period when he thought he might not make it, after he was diagnosed with colon cancer around Labor Day. “The doctors told me colon cancer is one of the easiest if you get it early,” he said. “And I was determined that the surgery would go fine." "After all this,” he added wryly, rolling his eye back towards his wheelchair, “that was like having a pimple.” More pictures show Rehm as the ghost of Hamlet’s father in a recent Classic Theatre production; Rehm and his chair decked out in steampunk mode; Rehm with his most recent Cornyation Court, a Vegasworthy spectacle with a Mayan theme. “That’s Roy Orbison there,” he said. “I wrote new lyrics to 'Cryin’ for it.” “May-ay-ay-ans, we’re over you,” he sang.


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Little patch continues from pg. 14

The lot belongs to Geekdom cofounder Graham Weston, who owns the Weston Centre and Rackspace, an Internethosting business headquartered near Windcrest with offices around the planet. Flannery, who took over leadership of the garden a year ago, is the owner of Steve’s Computer Repair Shop at 10305 Interstate 35 North. He also is a member of Geekdom, an incubator site for technical innovation. Geekdom is the major sponsor of the garden and helps finance the effort. Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas donates materials and the Texas A&M University Forestry Division offers planting advice. Other members of the community have contributed to the garden. Flannery said two Tex-Mex restaurants donate vegetable

January 2014

peels and eggshells to the compost bins. This past spring and summer saw the first vegetables start to flourish, Flannery said. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, rosemary and other herbs grew. The produce is donated to local residents, and disabled veterans in the apartments across from the garden regularly pick the vegetables, he added. The public reception to the garden remains favorable, Flannery said. “The first question I was asked was, ‘Aren’t you afraid people are going to take all your food?’” he said. “I was like, 'No, that’s what I want to happen. I want them to come eat.' This isn’t an exclusive garden. Everyone is welcome at the garden.“ But the garden is more than just a place to sit or pick vegetables. “You have a lot of homeless down here and a lot of people with mental illnesses down here,” Flannery said. “And I think the benefit of this community garden is

Visitors, workers and dwellers downtown who are tired of just seeing of skyscrapers and parking lots are invited to visit the Little Patch Garden at 405 N. Main Ave. to recharge and get back in touch with nature. Photos by Joshua Michael

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that it’s good therapy for a lot of the folks (who) walk by. It gives them a sense of pride. Because imagine that you walk around downtown and you just see a bunch of empty lots, it gets to your mindset. I think the garden warms people back up, makes them human again.” Flannery said locals “have a sense of reciprocity.” If they take a vegetable, they also volunteer to help. There are three regulars who volunteer on a weekly basis: Tom Hoffman, Sergei Nilov and Jen Vincent. Together they built the raised beds and the picnic tables.They also perform maintenance. Volunteers meet once a week on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon. during the winter and 7 to 11 a.m. during the warmer months. Hoffman, a software programmer with USAA and a Geekdom member, has volunteered with the Little Patch Garden for over a year. “I like what it does to downtown, making it look a little prettier, making it a positive space for people to sit and rest and enjoy a clean surrounding," Hoffman said. Although Hoffman lives on the Northwest Side, he commutes every Sunday just to volunteer. There are about 10 other volunteers

It's good therapy for a lot of the folks steve flannery

who show up about once a month, Flannery said, adding that he wants to create a stronger volunteer base. Future improvements could include solar panels, sensors indicating when to water the plants, redesigned compost bins, signs that tell passersby about the garden and shade over the tables to block the summer sun. One of the goals in 2014 is to acquire an independent water source, said Flannery, who added that right now the operators of the tattoo shop next door to the garden let the gardeners use their water. “I want to make a following, a culture," Flannery said. "I want people to remember this as a park.” For more information, go to the If you are interested in volunteering, fill out the contact form or send a message to the Facebook page.


January 2014


Learn more about newest purveyors of goods and services in your area.

Specialty olive-oil store opens at North Star Mall, Alamo Heights by collette orquiz


ust try it!” is the motto at a speciality food shop that wants customers to drizzle, toss and dip gourmet olive oil at their mealtimes and other occasions. While spending hours on the Internet researching an autoimmune disease for a family member, A.J. Draz learned about the health benefits of olive oil. Passion drove Draz to open Alamo Olive Oil Co. The store spent a brief period in the Shops at La Cantera before moving to its new spot in North Star Mall, 7400 San Pedro Ave., Suite 944, across from the food court. "I felt compelled to pursue this venture and share the knowledge I gained with others,” Draz said. Studies indicating extra-virgin


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olive oil benefits the cardiovascular system, enhances the immune system, lowers cholesterol and much more have led to endorsements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Heart Association. The shelves at Alamo Olive Oil Co. are stocked with flavored olive and extra-virgin olive oils, ranging from lemon-pepper chipotle and white truffle to blood orange. The store also offers aged balsamic vinegars, organic Italian pasta and gourmet salts, olive-leaf tea, olivewood products, herb and spice grinders, martini mixes, stuffed olives, cookbooks and anti-aging skin care products utilizing olive oil. “Other than our unique gourmet extra-virgin olive oils and aged Italian

balsamic flavors that we offer, we strive for excellent customer service and to exceed expectations,” Draz said. Featured in the middle of the store is a tasting table where customers can sample mixtures of oils and vinegars; it's where the store team’s creativity and knowledge of the products shine, Draz said. “Their enthusiasm shows as soon as you allow them to take (you on) a journey of the senses,” Draz said. The company has opened a second location in Alamo Heights at 5932 Broadway. Hours at the North Star Mall location are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Alamo Olive Oil Co. stocks sweet and savory olive oils, vinegars and other products that are perfect for every meal and on special occasions, the owner said. Photos by Collette Orquiz

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The Tiny Finch takes wing with selection of eclectic goods by gianna rendon


f you are looking for something unique, The Tiny Finch might have what you seek. The name implies “small,” but the eclectic assortment of goods is anything but. The Tiny Finch is a new shop at the Pearl offering customers a variety of wares, including home accents, décor and jewelry. The shop opened in late September at 302 Pearl Parkway, Suite 116. Owner Courtney Beauchamp said she was inspired by a shop in Houston and decided to open The Tiny Finch because she couldn't find anything like it in San Antonio. The Tiny Finch is a “lifestyle store,” Beauchamp said. “It’s not just clothing,” Beauchamp said. “It’s not just jewelry, but it’s gifts and furniture and clothing and jewelry and books and textiles. It’s a little bit of everything.” The shop's products include


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items from Indonesia and Turkey, as well as some local pieces. Products range in price from $9 to $500, Beauchamp said. “There’s something for everybody. It’s not just for one type of person,” she said. Staff at The Tiny Finch plan to start a once-a-month speaker series in late January covering a variety of topics, including heath and parenting.

“It’s not just a store," Beauchamp said. "It’s kind of evolving into other things as well." To see some of the inventory, check out the shop's Instagram at http:// Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Owner Courtney Beauchamp says The Tiny Finch in the Pearl is a 'lifestyle store.' The shop is filled with eclectic goods including perfume, greeting cards, jewelry, dishes and other decorative items. Photos by Collette Orquiz

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January 2014

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

Take a walk in the clouds with Mixtli by Collette Orquiz


LMOS PARK — Surrounded by clouds in the early morning light, chef Diego Galicia had a spurt of inspiration on a flight bound for Dallas. “I was looking at the clouds, and then out of nowhere it hit me,” Galicia said. “I started thinking …'What if I have a menu that travels like clouds, and every so often the menu changes to a (different) place in Mexico?'” Hailing from Toluca, Mexico, Galicia is a seasoned chef who has worked with Taco Cabana, served underground dinners and cooked meals as a part of a pop-up group. Galicia opened Mixtli, pronounced "meesh-tlee" and meaning cloud in Nahuatl (an Aztec language), in early October with fellow chef Rico Torres. Together they have created a communal dining experience with

a menu that travels across Mexico and changes every 45 days. Mixtli is located in a repurposed train car at The Yard, 5251 McCullough Ave. “My fondest memories of eating in Mexico (are) Sundays at my grandma’s house. Everybody’s there: your uncle, your mom, your dad. So what better way to enjoy Mexican food than with a community table?” Galicia said. Every course at Mixtli is prepared with local ingredients, and prepped in-house,

Mixtli changes its menu every 45 days, and features dishes such as the Piñata, a dessert with a chocolate dome filled with marzipan and crackling candy that diners crack open. Liquid nitrogen is first poured over the shell to harden it. Photos by Collette Orquiz

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right down to the chocolate for mole sauces and dessert. Galicia is so committed to using locally sourced products that he created a foundation to help farmers. Dinner is promptly served at 7 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and guests dine on about 10 courses, each paired with a cocktail, Texas craft beer or wine. There are only 12 seats at the restaurant, so reserving one is much like purchasing a ticket for the opera or film, and must be bought online. Customers choose the date, how many will be dining, describe any vegan or vegetarian preferences and fill out a form declaring any allergies. The restaurant also offers free meals to wounded warriors and their families once a month.

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Los Frogs leaping into culinary scene by olivier j. bourgoin


building on the St. Mary's Strip that housed several restaurants over the years is leaping into a new life as Los Frogs Mexican Bar-n-Grill. The 2,300-square-foot building at 2106 N. St. Mary's St. includes a bar, a dance floor and a patio. Frank and Alicia Ramos opened Los Frogs in mid-August. Serving Mexican street food such as flautas, menudo, barbacoa, posole and soups, the couple said they make everything fresh for an authentic, full-flavored meal. "I grew up in Mexico City, right in the heart of the city, in the 'Insurgentes' area, and there were always street vendors selling homemade food all up and down the street," said Alicia Ramos. "Some of them smelled really good. It's part of my culture and of my heritage." Her husband, whose family has roots in Puerto Rico, is from The Bronx, New York City. "What we give our patrons is top-

quality, fresh, authentic Mexican street food with oversized portions for the money," said Frank Ramos, a former food and beverage director and a general manager for several hotels and restaurants, including Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. "Our signature dish and what we are most famous for is our huaraches (a Mexican flatbread)," Ramos said. "Ours are 14 inches in diameter. It is topped

with refried beans and green sauce, and then you can put whatever you want on it, either chicken or with alambre (steak meat with bell peppers) and then you add Monterrey cheese or queso fresco." The food "is totally not Tex-Mex" and the salsas are homemade, he said. "We have different ones, from the Wimpy Frog to the Macho Frog. that one is made with a habañeropepper base," Ramos said. The restaurant is named in honor of frogs because the amphibians are "the only animal that never retreats," he added. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday and closed Sunday. Los Frogs serves up large portions of Mexican street food such as empanadas (top, far left) and the huaraches, or Mexican flatbread (bottom, far left), with a variety of salsas all made fresh daily (left). Photos by Collette Orquiz

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January 2014

Live LOCAL From real estate trends and neighborhood listings to home improvement, we’ve got you covered.


Housing recovery hits 7-year high in SA Median prices up, sales flat in 78209, 78210 and 78212 ZIPs by Travis e. poling


he market for houses in San Antonio continues to get tighter as inventory of houses available for sale shrank to 4.2 months supply, the lowest it has been since December 2006.

A housing boom in 2005 and 2006 saw builders trying to keep up with demand in the San Antonio area, but fallout from a 2008 meltdown of the economy pushed down the number of houses for sale, slowed building and depressed property values. The San Antonio Board of Realtors reported that in the first 11 months of 2013, there have been 21,607 home sales in the area, a 17 percent increase over the same period in 2012 and the highest since 2007. A SABOR analysis of data from the Multiple Listing Service found the average year-to-date price for single-family housing in the area was up 7 percent to $207,650 and the median was up 6 percent to $170,200 for 2013 through November. For the month of November 2013 compared to the same month in 2012, the average price rose 10 percent to $214,677 and the median price was up 6 percent to $172,100. Total sales for the month rose slightly to 1,634, according to SABOR. The organization points to studies showing San Antonio as one of the

tops in job creation and retention as one of the reasons for the continued housing market recovery. Median prices were up in the residential areas encompassed by the 78209, 78210 and 782412 ZIP codes, according to data gathered from the Texas Market Trends Report. The exception was in the nearby 78204, where the median price dipped to $39,500 in November compared to $235,000 for the same month in 2012. That’s because there were only two closed sales for the month and the lower-priced home property was reflected as the median. In 78209, the median sales price in November was up 30.1 percent to $352,000 and inventory supply shrank to 5.4 months from 7.1 months the previous November. Closed sales were flat at 45. The median price in 78210 rose by 76.1 percent to $74,500 for November, and closed sales were up by two to 17 houses boasting “sold” signs. In 78212, the median price climbed 44.2 percent to $216,285 and supply tightened to 5.2 months from 7.9 months in November of 2012. Another citywide trend is an increase in houses sold for $500,000 or more. Those accounted for nearly 4.5 percent of sales in November and 12 houses sold for over $1 million, double the number of sales in that category the same month of 2012.

PROPERTY LISTINGS zip code guide

78204, 78209, 78210, 78212

Street Address

List Price






7 Garden Square







345 Blue Bonnet







114 Morton St







208 Morton St







228 Cloverleaf Ave







319 Alta Ave







419 Cleveland Ct







431 Lynwood Ave







Real Estate LOCAL Trends ZIP Code Median sold price

New listings

























Average days on market











Closed sales





















Under contract

Months supply of inventory











Source: San Antonio Board of Realtors: Texas Market Trends report The properties are new listings put on the market from Nov. 28-Dec. 26. The properties may no longer be on the market by publication date or prices may have changed. Local Community News assumes no responsibility for errors or ommissions.

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203 Camargo St







419 Natalen







317 Ira Ave







503, 507, 511 & 515 Elmhurst







405 French







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100 Paseo Encinal







244 Stanford Dr







1758 Amanda St







211 Arrid Rd







215 Arrid Rd







219 Arrid Rd







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222 Parker Ave







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725 Morningside Dr







244 Seford Dr







1029 Garraty Rd







921 Ogden St







913 Ogden St







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LOCAL: Alamo Heights, Monte Vista, Olmos Park, Downtown, King William, Terrell Hills, January 2014  

This month in LOCAL Zone 1: Paralyzed artist and theater director Robert Rehm turns challenges into triumphs, In the shadow of the Weston Ce...