Living in Alvin, Manvel and beyond
Partnering for patients
Chiropractor teams up with doctor to offer more services Page 7
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Meeting some amazing people
Living in Alvin, Manvel and beyond Editor and Publisher David Rupkalvis firstname.lastname@example.org
Writers and Photographers David Rupkalvis Joshua Truksa Albert Villegas Stephen Collins
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Copy Editor Sheri Saenz Graphic Designers Linda Knight Melissa Nolasco
hen you start something new like we recently did with 288 Express, you really don’t know what to expect. Since I have worked at other magazines before, I had an idea of what I was looking for in stories, but getting there is always the challenge. As a reporter, you can ask questions, send emails, look at upcoming calendars, spend time on Facebook and go out of your way looking for the best stories. And then all of a sudden for no reason, they David Rupkalvis fall in your lap. Last month, while touring Alvin ISD with Daniel Combs, he took a detour to show me the area known to some locals as Little Cambodia. Most of the people who live there are Cambodian refugees who came to the United States, some as far back as the ’80s. Many grow water spinach to survive. It’s not a glorious life, but it is life. And then Harvey hit. The area was almost destroyed. Water covered the homes, destroyed the greenhouses, forced families to flee just to survive. And when the water receded, everything was destroyed. But since these people, our neighbors, have little money and no insurance, they coped on their own. Many moved back into homes now full of mold. One man I talked to has been sleeping in his chicken coop. They needed help. That was easily seen. And when help came, it came in a surprising way. I learned about the help through an email from one of our ad reps. She happened to stop by a local restaurant, and the manager told her how she had been cooking for these college kids who came to Alvin on Spring Break, not for fun, but to help others rebuild. She had a name and an email. When I emailed, I had no idea where the volunteers were working or how many there were. But it was a good story regardless. When I learned where the young men and women were working, I was thrilled. During the month of March, more than 1,000 college students gave up partying at South Padre Island and venturing to Mexico to come to Alvin. Working with CRU, which was formerly known as Campus Crusades for Christ, these young men and women came to work. In one month, they tore down and rebuilt several homes from the ground up. They rebuilt others that could be saved. They hauled off tons of trash that was picked up by Brazoria County and taken to the landfill. But more than that, they gave people in desperate need a sense of hope. The story was better than I could have imagined, and the people were just as amazing.
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Making his music
Inside Cover Photo/Prentice James Dr. Dell Blackwell and nurse practitioner Beverly Howard are working together to help more patients.
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Changing things up in medicine
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For years, Dr. Dell Blackwell has run one of the most popular chiropractic clinics in Alvin. After seeing a need from his patients, he is now partnering with a medical doctor to offer a full range of medical services.
Chiropractor partners with doctor to help more patients
or 13 years, Dr. Dell Blackwell has been one of the most popular chiropractors in Alvin and the surrounding areas. He has built an admirable practice with a continuous stream of patients. However, he said patients have come to him who needed more. Wanting to be able to treat the patient’s every need; Dr. Blackwell discussed partnering with a medical doctor. After a year of planning
and meetings, Dr. Blackwell now has complete medical services in one location. On April 1, he welcomed Family Nurse Practitioners of Alvin, under the leadership of Dr. Janice Teer, into his clinic. “We wanted to expand the practice to help more patients,” Dr. Blackwell said. “One of the problems we run into is people who are new in town and don’t have a family doctor.” Dr. Blackwell acknowl-
edges that some patients believe they have to choose chiropractic care or medical care. This is not accurate. In recent years, medical doctors and chiropractors see the benefit of both practices working together. Dr. Blackwell found his ally in Dr. Teer, who practices family medicine at the Clear Lake Clinic in League City. Under Dr. Teer’s license, a team of four nurse practitioners (NP) are now practicing
in the Alvin Health location. At least one NP will be available everyday to see patients. Nurse Practitioner Beverly Howard is the lead NP. She said it is a natural fit to work side by side with Dr. Blackwell. After 20 years of seeing patients, she said traditional medicine and chiropractic care complement each other very well. She went on to say that “Most people believe the only option is traditional
medicine. But in some cases, patients are actually better served with a combination of both chiropractic care and medical, depending on their condition.” Howard stated her first job as a nurse practitioner was with a doctor who embraced the aspects of alternative medicine. Working with that doctor laid the groundwork for her career. “That doctor got a lot of heat from her colleagues,” Howard said, “But that experience opened my eyes. In school, you are trained in strict medicine. But after working there I said, ‘OK, they’re complementary,’ That’s a much better term than the word ‘alternative’.” Dr. Blackwell agrees, stating the aspects of alternative medicine and traditional medicine can work together. He goes on to say,” I always like the term ‘complementary’, because we are on the same team with the common goal of helping people.” Dr. Blackwell went on to say that adding the nurse practitioners to the office, does not change the way he handles chiropractic care. “It does give patients an alternative if they need something more.” He then explained, “We have two practices that are separate. And we have patients that will benefit from both kinds of care.” In discussing details of his practice, Dr. Blackwell explained that he sees a lot of people with low back pain. With the added medical option, patients can benefit from prescribed pain medication while he works to correct the root of the problem in the subsequent treatment process. Meanwhile, on the medical side of the clinic with the nurse practitioners, all patients needing medical attention are welcome. Lead
Nurse practitioner Beverly Howard checks a patient at her new clinic, Family Nurse Practitioners of Alvin. Nurse Practitioner Howard stated, “I see people with colds, flu, high blood pressure and diabetes — problems that are not normally resolved via chiropractic visits.” However, Howard said it is surprising how often a patient, who needs medicine for high blood pressure or diabetes, can benefit from chiropractic care. Dr. Blackwell echoed the sentiment, saying he has multiple patients who have come in with back pain but may actually discover underlying issues like diabetes or hypertension that has been left untreated for too long. “We come from a lot of different angles,” Dr. Blackwell said. “One size does not fit all.” Howard agreed and added that one of the benefits of having two practices under one roof is to help reduce the number of people using dangerous opioid pain reliev-
ers. While she recognizes there is a place in medicine for opioids, many times they are abused and patients may become addicted to them. “The less medicine you have to make your body deal with, the less your organs have to deal with,” she said. “To be frank, medicine does not usually fix the problem. I can give someone a narcotic, but it will only mask the problem. And, oftentimes, it is treatment such as provided by Dr. Blackwell that corrects the root of the problem.” Over the last months, the two practices began to work together to prepare for the April 1 official opening. Dr. Blackwell said the patients are excited to learn about the new possibilities. “I have had a lot of patients that are very excited to be able to come to one place. They are already familiar with us.” From the business aspect, both teams have a goal of providing quality health
care at an overall lower cost. Prices are set with the goal of making it affordable for patients to visit, even if they do not have health insurance. A visit to the nurse practitioner has a flat-rate price of $65, including in-clinic lab tests as needed. For more information on available services and pricing, visit www.alvinhealth.com Both HealthWorks Chiropractic and Family Nurse Practitioners of Alvin, doing business as Alvin Health, are located at 173 Tovrea Road, Suite C. While walk-ins are welcome, set appointments are preferred to ensure patients are seen quickly. The new medical clinic is already in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Multiplan and will be adding more insurance providers soon. For information or to make an appointment, please call 281-585-3505 or visit their website at www.AlvinHealth.com.
Lending a helping hand
Story and photos by David Rupkalvis Davis Dickerson, left, and Jacob Riley work to build a home that was destroyed during Hurricane Harvey. While volunteers from CRU tore down the house and built a new one, the homeowner was living in his chicken coop.
College students help rebuild Little Cambodia
hen Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast last year, a lot of areas were impacted. But one of the most devastated was a small community in Rosharon known to many locally as Little Cambodia. Over the last few decades, the community had become home to hundreds of Cam-
bodian immigrants who raised water spinach in their greenhouses and worshipped in a Buddhist temple. Their homes were modest and their lifestyles simple. And then Harvey came. When the water began to rise, the people were forced to flee just to survive. They lost their homes, their businesses and virtually every-
thing. With little money and almost no insurance, they were mostly on their own to find a way to recover. And it has not been easy. Many are living in their homes, now filled with mold and other dangers; others were forced into worse conditions. But, in March, help arrived in the form of college students, young men and wom-
en from all over the country who spent their spring break vacations working for people they didnâ€™t know. As part of CRU, formerly known as Campus Crusades for Christ, the students joined with volunteer construction workers to bring hope and recovery to some of the families in Rosharon. Vannet Aph watched as
students put a roof on what will soon be his new home. While he speaks little English, it was easy to tell he was excited to see a home take shape. In three weeks, the CRU volunteers had removed his old home and had a new one close to being done. It was expected to be finished a week later, less than a month after construction started. Through an interpreter, Aph said he was extremely happy and excited for a new home. He said he has been sleeping in his chicken coop because he had nowhere else to go. Justin Andrews, a student at Towson University, came to Alvin from Maryland to spend the week working for people like Aph. After using a nail gun to help build the roof, he said the trip was great. “It’s been phenomenal,” Andrews said. “It’s definitely a great week of learning. It’s always a blessing to be a blessing to someone else.” Margo Marsh, a student from Oklahoma State University, worked alongside Andrews at the home. She agreed that the time volunteering was amazing. “It’s been great,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. I love seeing how everyone works together to help.” Marsh said seeing the conditions the Cambodians are living in is something she won’t forget. “It’s pretty eye-opening,” she said. “They’re really grateful. On the other site I was at, the man who owns the home was actually helping us.” During March, more than 1,000 CRU volunteers came to the region to help. They worked at different sites in the area, with many spending time in Rosharon.
A student volunteer with CRU walks out of a home being built for Vannett Aph after flooding from Hurricane Harvey destroyed his home. Chuck Touch has become a community leader in Rosharon. He said after seven months of working on his home, it is still not finished. While he was thrilled to have help there, he said his biggest joy was seeing his neighbors receive help. One such family was his sister and brother-in-law next door. The CRU volunteers were about to demolish the home and begin the process of building a new one. During Harvey, Touch said the water rose so fast his brother-in-law had to swim from his bedroom out of the
house to be rescued by a boat. With nowhere else to go, the family returned to the home despite mold and other dangers. “This is like a savior,” Touch said, pointing to the college students. “These folks are awesome. I don’t know what we’re going to do without these volunteers.” After seven months of working on his home, Touch said it is liveable, but far from finished. And he feels the CRU volunteers will make the difference, not just in his home, but in many others. “We are so blessed, more than words can say,” Touch said. “Without the volunteers, I don’t know what we would do.” Eric Heistand and Vicki Guinn work with CRU and coordinate the volunteers helping in the area. Heistand said students and faculty
have been volunteering along the Gulf Coast since Harvey hit. “We’ve have students involved with Harvey ever since it struck,” Heistand said. “Vicki and I have been running point for college efforts really since September.” Heistand said around 1,000 students and faculty volunteered between September and February in the Houston region. During March, another 1,000 students came to the area to volunteer. “Instead of them going to South Padre or somewhere else to party, they came here,” Guinn said. During the first week of March, the volunteers in Rosharon removed tons of trash and demolished several homes. The county then came and hauled off all the garbage. Since then the effort has been building and rebuilding homes.
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Jamie Wirebach uses a sledge hammer to help loosen dirt to build a foundation for a new home being built by CRU volunteers. The volunteers have stayed at Victory Camp at the edge of Alvin and move out every morning to work sites across the region. Along with the students, CRU has been able to mobilize volunteer construction workers, handymen
and other experts to lead the efforts. At the work sites, the experts offer guidance while the volunteers handle the labor. Jamie Wirebach, a student at Towson University, spent his spring break working at
the homes in Rosharon. He said working for the Cambodian people was much better than going to South Padre Island. “I wanted to get back into serving mission trips,” he said. “I really wanted to come out here and help people who didn’t have as much as I do.” And after spending a day digging holes to create a foundation for stilts that will hold the new homes above the floodplain, he said helping was an amazing time. “It’s been fantastic,” he said. “It’s been a ton of fun. I got to make a lot of new friendships.” Across the same worksite, Davis Dickerson, a student at Oklahoma State, was helping put a stilt into one of the holes before others poured in concrete to anchor it. “It’s been great,” he said. “I definitely learned a lot about the importance of foundation and teamwork. It’s been a great experience to come serve them. I can’t think of a better way to spend my break.” The volunteer who may have come the furthest to help was Melvin Mendoza, who journeyed from Guatemala to volunteer for a week. “I heard a lot of people lost everything here, and I wanted to help,” Mendoza said. “I work with my brother in construction, and I wanted to share my knowledge.” The sound of hammers, saws and laughter in his community was something that inspired Touch. He said for his community, the help will make a huge difference. In addition to the homes, volunteers have helped rebuild several greenhouses so the local residents can get back to work. “These people live off the land,” Touch said. “The greenhouse is how they make
a living. It has started to recover. Only a few families are still in hotels. They are back in their homes.” And that’s the good news. The bad news is the area is far from finished. Once March is over, the majority of volunteers will have come and gone, returning to colleges around the nation. While CRU will still have volunteers helping, the numbers will be diminished. “We need any help we can get, any skill,” Touch said. Despite the hardships of the last seven months, Touch said his community is tough, and they will recover together. His attitude was easily seen as he worked alongside the volunteers, encouraging them as they worked. “I taught them the secret to working hard and not getting tired,” he said with a smile. “Have fun.”
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Caboose BBQ on the rise
Story and photos by Albert Villegas
Jess DeSham Timmons, co-owner of Caboose BBQ, is always adding to her menu.
Timmons adds exciting new products to menu
laying with your food and then playing with ideas on how to blend food to make it more appealing are two very different things. We’re not talking about French fries with ketchup, or fries with mustard … or even fries with mayonnaise? If you’re old enough and cool enough to remember John Travolta’s Vincent Vega role in “Pulp Fiction,” he alluded to Europeans’ love of mayonnaise with fries. “I seen them do it, man, they drown them in that,” his
Vega character said. But this is not Holland, this is Texas. We do our own drowning of brisket, sausage, chicken and ribs into any kind of sauce we see fit to dip in — as long as it’s delicious. And since we love our barbecue, there are some who have the ability to expand on our love to play with ideas on how to make barbecue even better, more tasty. Enter The Caboose BBQ and, in particular, pit “mistress” Jess DeSham Timmons, who is co-owner of the
business. Next time you visit, ask to have some Alabama white sauce and Tabasco mash honey for dipping your food into. It’s enough to make your mouth water and want to go back for more. Earlier this year, Timmons and The Caboose co-owner Doug McReaken introduced their savory version of hot dogs that would be appealing to the consumer. They even came up with the idea to give their customers the opportunity to name
their all-beef dogs. Catherine Ellington Manterola, who is the restaurant’s publicist, said Timmons took what she knew and expanded on her talents which include brisket, sausage, chicken and ribs. “We are not reinventing the wheel,” Manterola said. “But this is what we mean by being fun and playful with our food.” So, during a media tasting event in January, The Caboose introduced their version of what hot dogs could taste like. It was one of three
dogs they said they presented over the course of three weeks during the winter. Some media members couldn’t get enough of the Alabama white sauce that could be mixed with another dog, this one completely wrapped in bacon. How inventive is that? “When it comes to food and Texas, there’s room for anything with the name Alabama on it, so long as it’s good,” said customer Tim Cohen, who was wearing a Texas Longhorns T-shirt as he was playing with his child at nearby National Oak Park. “The Caboose makes some awesome barbecue, so if they’re trying something different with hot dogs, I am sure it will be good.” That’s exactly what you get when you put your hands and mouth into one of their 44 Farms beef hot dogs. During the media tasting event, Timmons looked excited. She sounded excited when she came out of the kitchen and into the dining area with more food — hot dogs! “Remember, they are all beef and smoked,” Timmons said, having to raise her voice slightly as the train passed the Alvin Train Depot. The first dog had fried chicken served with cream gravy; the second dog had pimiento cheese, pulled pork and that favorite Alabama white sauce; and the third dog was wrapped in bacon, topped with brisket and served with pickles and onions. Among the other food served to the media that day besides the 44 Farms beef hot dogs was brisket, pork and chicken tacos; boudinstuffed Black Hill ranch pork tenderloin; and a brisket donut sandwich. One of the questions posed
to Timmons was “what is the public response toward a non-barbecue menu?” “The public has really liked them, especially the more whimsical food like the chicken fried ribs,” Timmons said. “The pimiento cheese is pretty traditional. We also do a jalapeno pepper packed with brisket and wrapped in bacon, and that’s smoked, too. We then top it off with Tabasco mash honey. These are several examples that we heard good things about.” Don’t fret, nor fear if you think The Caboose has gotten away from what has made them a popular destination for both Alvinites and visitors from the greater Houston area. They are still serving up “perfectly smoky brisket and fall-off-the-bone ribs,” as their website explains.
The Caboose BBQ offers a wide variety of barbecue favorites along with some new additions to the menu to add some spice. Texas music scene, resulting in a live music series happening in the warm months on The Caboose’s large outdoor patio. With a full bar serving up specialty cocktails, a
About The Caboose BBQ The Caboose BBQ, located in Alvin, offers traditional Texas barbecue mixed with fun and inventive specials. Co-owners Jess DeSham Timmons and Doug McReaken strive to combine Southern hospitality with high quality, locally sourced food to fill each customer’s belly and heart with an experience that will have them coming back for more. Pit “mistress” Jess boasts an extensive resumé from some of Houston’s top restaurants and brings that knowledge into the kitchen at The Caboose. In addition to perfectly smoky brisket and fall-off-the-bone ribs, The Caboose BBQ offers barbecue tacos, Texan-approved hot dogs, seriously loaded baked potatoes, and even a brisket donut sandwich. Business partner and Texas country legend Wade Bowen adds yet another flair to the mix with strong connections in the
Sunday brunch, and fullservice dinner, this is not what you would expect from a small-town Texas barbecue joint, but with all the flavors you do.
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Manvel on the rise
Story and photos by Joshua Truksa
Students of The Artz dance academy in Rosharon perform at the Easter Eggstravaganza at Croix Park on March 24. At center, in blue, is 8-year-old student Isaiah Dubose.
City hosts first egg hunt at improving Croix Park
anvel held its firstever Easter egg hunt March 24 at Croix Park. Croix Park is still in the process of an extensive restoration. A newly paved 40-space parking lot was completed only one week before the event. Parking space was supplemented by the Brazoria County Annex building. Manvel Councilman Brian Wilmer said there remains work to be done on the restoration. “There’s still a lot of trees that need to be cleaned up. We’ve got to level the ground,” Wilmer said. Members of the Croix family, who donated the park in the 1980s and still maintain its botanical garden, were present at the egg hunt. Phyllis Manson, granddaughter of Margurite Croix, who donated the first section of the park, said she was happy to see the park used in
the way the family originally imagined. Some families came in from other towns, invited by friends and relatives. Daniel and Amanda Wingard, of Missouri City, brought their 5-year-old daughter, Genevieve, and 2-year-old son, Jackson. Amanda Wingard said they did not know at first that
they were participating in the first-ever celebration, but were excited to be a part of it. Brad and Jessie Morrill, of Iowa Colony, brought their daughters, 2-year-old Emma and 6-month-old Ella, for their first Easter since moving to the area in June 2017. It was Emma’s first Easter egg hunt. Manvel resident Jessica
Morales attended with her 5-year-old daughter, Jordan. She said they have usually gone to the event hosted by Chik-fil-A in Pearland in the past, but she is glad to be a part of the first Easter event in her town. “I think it’s very nice. I think it’s well put together. I think it’s excellent,” Morales said.
Hard work leads to success
Story and photos by David Rupkalvis Junior Gordon, left, and Lee Blackman put on a show for fans at the Alvin Music Festival. The Junior Gordon Band is one of the up and coming groups in the Texas country music scene.
Gordon goes from Alvin to the top of Texas country music
t almost seems like Junior Gordon was born to be a performer, and there’s no doubt when he became one, he was going to sing Texas country music. Gordon was raised in Pasadena, Texas, and has spent the last 27 years in Alvin. Nowadays, he can be found across the state and region, touring and performing with his band, the Junior Gordon Band. Getting there? That was just supposed to happen. “Both of my parents worked at Gilley’s, so I got to see a lot of the great Texas country artists,” Gordon said. Like many country fans, he grew up loving George Strait.
But at Gilley’s Club, he saw a who’s who of Texas country stars looking to make a name for themselves. “I really didn’t have a favorite,” he said. “They were all my favorite.” And growing up surrounded by country music, it wasn’t long before Gordon began singing himself. Turns out, he was pretty good. “I just remember singing and everyone saying, ‘Man, you’re good.’ I really just enjoyed it,” he said. At 17, he joined his first band, but music was more for fun. He moved to Alvin more than a quarter century ago to live with his grandma, and it became his home. He mar-
ried an Alvin girl, Cheramy Gordon, started a career in telecommunications and started a family that now has seven children. But he never stopped singing and never stopped performing. “It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” he said. Balancing his work, family and music was always a challenge, but it was one he embraced. His family traveled with him, his children often coming on stage and singing. Even now, his youngest children, twin 8-year-old boys, enjoy going on stage and singing with dad. In 2008, Gordon’s love for
music and performing led to the creation of the Junior Gordon Band. “I always played music and was always in a band,” he said. “I happened to be the front man in a band, and we hit one of the rough patches. My friend told me, you need to start your own band.” So Gordon did, and he also began tinkering with something new — writing music. “I sat down and wrote a song, and we recorded it and sent it out to radio, and it did really good,” Gordon said. “It surprised me. It kind of went from there.” When it went, it went quickly. Within two years, the Junior Gordon Band was
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a favorite on the Texas scene. He was traveling every weekend for shows and finally got to the point he took the leap and made music his career. “We had so many shows it was pretty hard to keep up with things,” Gordon said. With his wife working as manager and his own band, Gordon became a full-time musician. Last year, the band performed 185 concerts, traveling Texas and much of the Southern states to put on shows in bars, honkey tonks, clubs and even private shows. Through the years, he has continued to write songs with more than a dozen making it into the top 10 in the Texas
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The Junior Gordon Band, from left, Zach Von Ruff, Jeff Lablanc, Junior Gordon, and Joey Lablanc perform during the Alvin Music Festival.
Country charts. Last year, he had his first No. 1 song, “I’m Breaking In.” “It’s one of the coolest feelings,” Gordon said. “You have over 400 songs every week submitted to that chart. To make it from that 400 to the top 100 or top 50 is still cool.” Because he has written so much music, when Gordon performs now most of the music is his own. He still enjoys singing some covers of other popular songs, but his own music has now become known and popular. After decades on stage, Gordon said performing live is still a blast. “It’s exhilarating, it’s exciting,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 people or 10,000 people, they get the same show.” And despite hundreds of shows a year and thousands is his career, Gordon admit-
ted there are times he still gets nervous. “Over the years, it’s become more second nature,” he said. “The first time we played The Hideout for the Houston Rodeo, man, I was nervous. There were 5,000 people right in your face.” This year, Gordon performed at the Houston Rodeo on opening night, taking the stage right after Garth Brooks. As part of making a living while performing, Gordon has had some help. He is sponsored this year by Bud Light and wears a Bud Light shirt while singing. He also signed up with a talent agency in Nashville, Tennessee, that handles his concert bookings. While Gordon is glad to have the help of Bud Light, he admits he rarely drinks and struggles balancing his personal faith with his busi-
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ness needs. “I have a very strong faith in God and what he’s done for me,” he said. “I’ve actually asked on stage if people know who Christ is and if Christ is in their life.” With his career on solid footing, Gordon said he’s reached a good point in his life. Ultimately, he hopes to increase his fan base and, like all musicians, dreams of being a star. “Would it be nice? Yes,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m very happy with my success story. I guess it comes down to what does God want for me?” Looking across the music scene, Gordon said there are some amazingly talented people. All fight to make a go of it in the industry, and while some succeed, others struggle. “It’s a tough industry,” he said. “It takes some thick
Junior Gordon, right, and Joey Leblanc perform during the Alvin Music Festival last month.
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skin, hard work and some luck. I still believe in hard work.” While the life as a singer can be glamorous at times, it also requires a lot of sacrifice, especially for those who have families. “I’ve missed a lot — football games, basketball games, dances,” Gordon said. “So, it’s hard. But I have a really good wife. She always steps in and says I’m gonna take care of this. As hard as it is sometimes, I do love it. It’s part of who I am.” The sacrifice has paid off in recent years. Gordon and his band support themselves by performing almost nonstop. The key, he said, is they have reached a point where their music is enough. “I’ve fought really hard the last couple of years,” he said. “Now I can breathe a bit. But it doesn’t stop. I’ve still got a lot of performances left in
me.” While his career requires a lot of time on the road, Gordon said he does work to have some down time. During that time, he enjoys being back in Alvin and doing things most husbands and fathers do. “Spending time with my family, working around the house and going fishing,” he said. “I do try to schedule some time for myself. When I’m off, I go and look for people to listen to. I go watch their shows and see how they do things.” Gordon said he’s not sure what the future holds. Fame and fortune would be great, but that has never been his ultimate goal. He really just likes writing music and loves performing. If that’s all he does in the future, he would be OK. “I just love country music,” he said.
A Sunday Drive
Most ornate cottage in Texas
Story and photos by David Rupkalvis
The Marguerite Rogers House in Alvin was hand built by John Slover. A homebuilder in the early 1900s, Slover used the home to demonstrate his skills to potential clients.
Rogers House showcased homebuilder’s skill
he deadliest storm in American history played a key part in one of Alvin’s most historic homes. The home that sits at 113 E. Dumble St. in Alvin was never supposed to be here until Mother Nature devastated the Gulf Coast in 1900. A category 4 hurricane, known by many now as simply the Great Storm, pounded the Gulf Coast where John Slover was building his dream home. The storm
leveled Slover’s home and many homes in the Galveston area and also killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. With his house destroyed, Slover made the decision to move inland and gathered the materials that remained and made the trek to Alvin. He purchased the land that at the time was outside of town and went to work. Most of the building material came free thanks to the hurricane. “He used the material from his home and other mate-
rial he gathered,” said Tom Stansel, a volunteer with the Alvin Historic Society. “Everyone was getting material out of the fields from Galveston.” You read that right. The force of the 1900 hurricane was so great, the wood and other pieces of homes that were destroyed were carried as far north as Alvin. And those who wanted it simply had to gather it from the vast untapped land. With his gathered materi-
als, Slover went to work. He began construction on his home in 1900 with two main goals. Of course, he wanted to build a home for himself, something that exhibited his unique character. But as a homebuilder, he had a different idea, too. He wanted his home to be a showcase of what he could do if hired to work for others. In that vein, he probably went a little overboard. Every aspect of the home was designed to show off Slover’s
skill. With each room and each aspect of the outside as a blank canvas, Slover cut intricate designs that stand more than 100 years later. “I really think this is the most ornate cottage in Texas, if not in the entire United States,” Stansel said. The two-bedroom home includes a living room, sitting area, dining room and small kitchen. What it didn’t have originally was a bathroom, with a two-seat outhouse located in the back yard. Although it was lived in from the early 1900s until 1995, it has never contained a bathtub, although a bathroom was eventually added. One unique aspect of the home is attached to the outhouse, which still has the toilets, was a Socialist library. Yes, Slover was an avowed Socialist and loaned out books to others with similar beliefs. Some of those books
When John Slover built his home in Alvin, he used it to showcase the skills he had as a homebuilder. and several pamphlets are still in the home today. Slover’s construction project was long and tedious, continuing until 2009. Stansel said he probably finished a portion of the home to live in while working on the rest. And each step was built to showcase his skills. “Everything he did was just a little different than he did before,” Stansel said. Most of the intricate molding at the home was cut using a pedal saw, where Slover basically pedaled like he was on a bicycle to run a saw. The original saw is still in the home and remains operable. Slover died of a heart attack in the 1920s and the home went through several hands before the Rogers’ family purchased it. The last resident was Marguerite Rogers. When Rogers died in 1995, her daughter, Emaline Rogers Longnecker, do-
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nated the house to the Alvin Historical Society. In doing so, she had two rules. First, she wanted the home named after her mom. Second, she wanted it be used as a museum. The historical society, which also oversees the Alvin Historical Museum, agreed and took ownership. For years, work was done on the home, but in the early 2000s, it was opened as a museum and remains open for those who are interested in seeing it. One thing the historical society has always tried to do is maintain the original integrity of the home. “The house as it sits is very close to the original configuration,” Stansel said. “The detail is just unbelievable.” In the near future, the historical society hopes to do more repair work. Stansel has gone over every inch of the home, highlighting areas
where wear and tear and decades of storms have caused damage. The society board has agreed to repair those areas, while trying to keep the home as close to original as possible. “We are in the process of doing repair work,” Stansel said. “This is all cypress wood. I found a mill on the East Coast that does cypress.” Stansel said he’s not sure when that work will be done because it will cost a lot of money. But when the money is raised, the repair work will begin. Part of the expense is guaranteeing any changes do not alter the structure of the home. At some point after the woodwork is finished, the structure will be painted in a Colonial style. The exact color scheme has not been determined. Right now, the Marguerite Rogers House Museum is open for public viewing. While it is not open any specific hours, museum volunteers will take people through it if requested. The museum can be reached at 281-331-4469.
John Slover used this pedal saw to cut many of the ornate elements of the home he built in Alvin.
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Making a difference
Saving one horse at a time
Story and photos by Joshua Truksa
Horse sanctuary provides a home to 350 horses and donkeys
utside of Alvin lies a new horse sanctuary, home to 350 horses and donkeys. Jerry Finch has been rescuing horses since 1998. It started in his backyard in Dickinson with just two horses, and according to Finch, “just got totally out of control.” “I started with two, and I started because enough — there were too many skinny horses and nobody was doing anything,” Finch said. Finch acquired his first two horses just after incorporating his charity, at an auction where a slaughterhouse buyer had exceeded his 38-horse load limit by two horses. As the number of horses Finch rescued increased, he needed more room and began acquiring ranches in different parts of the state — one south of Dallas, one in Cleveland and one in Manvel. Now, Finch is consolidating all these ranches
Jerry Finch, below, opened Habitat for Horses as a rescue for horses in need. Rebecca Williams is now the executive director of the nonprofit. into the new, large ranch near Alvin. Horses come to the ranch after rescue operations or when Habitat for Horses or law enforcement are given tips about cruelty or neglect. Whenever a call comes in, Finch first tries to educate the
201 Oak Park Dr. • Alvin | Opvcondos.com
owner about proper care of the horses. “When they don’t listen to us is when we ask law enforcement to go in and step in and then there’s a seizure on the horses,” Finch said. Finch has a level 3 certification in equine cruelty investigations from the University of Missouri School of Law Enforcement and regularly testifies on equine cruelty cases in court. Finch has not only rescued horses from Texas, but has handled cases in states across the country, including Montana, Nebraska and Colorado. Habitat for Horses is a non-breeding facility. Male horses that are acquired during seizures are sent to the smaller ranch in Dickinson until they are gelded. But that does not mean that foals are not born at Habitat for Horses. There have been times when the program has acquired mares that were already pregnant. According to Executive Director Rebecca Williams, 2017 was the “year of the baby.” Eleven foals were born in 2017 after a two-year absence of births. On one night in 2017, two foals were born on the same night. Habitat for Horses has built a playpen for these foals on the new ranch.
Jerry Finch walks around Habitat for Horses, a rescue he started on the outskirts of Alvin.
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Food Truck Fever
Story and photos by Joshua Truksa
Roland Villareal, owner of another food truck, Wylie St. Tacos, also comes to Adolph’s. He first discovered it when both trailers operated at the Alvin Music Festival two years ago.
After years of practice, Trigo ventures out on his own
dolph Trigo, an Alvin resident of over 20 years, opened his food trailer, Adolph’s BBQ, in September 2017. It is the first business Trigo has
ever run, but he was raised in barbecue cooking from a young age. Trigo’s father was the manager of Paul Kiddy’s restaurant, Paul’s Kitchen, in Rosenburg and often brought
Trigo to work with him. In 1992, after years of learning barbecue since a child at Kiddy’s restaurant, Trigo began working at Billy D’s Bar-B-Q in Katy, owned
by a relative of Kiddy. In 1995, Trigo met his wife, Veronica, a lifelong Alvin resident, at the Majesty Church, where her father is pastor. Soon after marrying into the
Adolph Trigo (right) and his wife Veronica (left) in front of the Adolph’s BBQ trailer. family, the church needed a volunteer to cook barbecue for a fundraiser. “They didn’t know I knew how to cook barbecue until one day they were having a fundraiser, and they said we need 100 pieces of chicken cut and 30 pounds of sausage, any volunteers? And I raised my hand and they said ‘You know how to cook? And as young as you are?’” Trigo said. Trigo surprised everyone with his cooking. Soon, he was cooking for fundraisers twice a month and raised enough money to build a new church. Trigo continued doing fundraisers for the church and catering for years. When his father-in-law bought a new barbecue pit for the church, he gave Trigo the old one in gratitude of all the years he had cooked for the church’s fundraisers. Trigo catered for years while still working a full-time job driving a fuel truck, making enough money to buy a second pit and purchase his trailer in 2012. At first, Trigo only operated his trailer at events such as the Alvin Music Festival, the Turtle Race and the Crawfish Festival. In September 2017, Trigo decided to go full time with his barbecue business. Trigo said he now regularly serves 60-70 people each day. Adolph’s is making a hit. Many people see the business while driving by and stop. James Coates has been a regular customer since Adolph’s first began opening daily. His favorite menu item is the sliced beef sandwich, but he praises everything on the menu. “Their ribs are real good, too. Very good. Their French fries are good. I mean, everything’s good, and they give you a big portion,” Coates, said.
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First Presbyterian Church (USA), of Alvin 302 South Johnson Street, Alvin, Texas 77511 281-585-3406 www.fpcalvin.org email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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