Nutrition for Those in Need

December 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Victoria Ahmadi

Sign showing Lone Star cards are accepted. (Photo by Victoria Ahmadi/Beyond the Bubble staff).

After a one-year battle between advocates for low-income residents and the City of Dallas, the Dallas Farmer’s Market has agreed to accept the Lone Star food stamp card, giving lower income shoppers access to fresh produce.

Fifty-four–year-old Sabrina Jones of Dallas is a struggling grandmother who receives governmental aid to provide for her four grandchildren and her 84 year-old mother. Jones works part-time doing secretarial work for an attorney so that she can juggle her time between work and family.

“Most grocery stores accept food stamps but there isn’t the same quality of produce as there is at the Dallas Farmer’s Market,” Jones said. “I’ve shopped at Betty’s Tomatoes for years, we love it down there.”

Jones receives help from CitySquare, formerly known as Central Dallas Ministries, and the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in order to keep her family well fed and happy. She said that she is already planning their next family outing to the market to pick out some wholesome foods.

CitySquare proposed a petition last year in an effort to bring nutritional awareness and healthier selections to those receiving SNAP benefits. The new policy was announced Nov. 9 at CitySquare’s Hunger-Summit kickoff. The farmer’s market will start accepting the Lone Star Card, which is used to collect SNAP benefits, this spring.

CitySquare’s Public Policy Department undertook the petition because of its concern for the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables for Dallas citizens on public assistance.

Rev. Gerald Britt, Jr., Vice-President of CitySquare Public Policy and Community Program Development, says that the public was very active in the petition drive.

“Because we met with initial reticence to the idea, we began the petition drive to demonstrate to the Dallas Farmers Market, the City Council and other officials at City Hall, that there was public support for such a move,” Britt said.

Petitions were signed online, in CitySquare’s food pantry, and at its Urban Engagement Book Club meetings, as well as at a screening of the documentary ‘Food Stamped’ at the Angelika Theater. All told, the group gathered about 600 signatures over the past year.

CitySquare works to address the root causes of poverty in Dallas. The organization’s Nurture, Knowledge and Nutrition (NKN) program recognizes that addressing hunger and health is the most cost-effective way to help low-income families.

Michele Kopel, Resource Center Manager of CitySquare, said that it’s a very exciting time for the non-profit organization and all of those whose efforts have finally paid off. “With the consistent public pressure and the petitioners, we were able to make this happen,” she said.

Kopel said that it was time for a change, considering that the number of Farmer’s Markets across the country that have already been accepting food stamps.

“It’s a win-win situation for the Dallas Farmer’s Market and the public because both parties are able to get things at a reduced cost and promote healthy eating habits,” Kopel said.

Efforts have paid off for those receiving SNAP benefits under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The SNAP food benefits help people with low incomes and resources buy the food they need for good health.

SNAP benefits are given to a single person or family who meets the program’s requirements. Texas’ HHSC sends a renewal application to those receiving SNAP before the end of each benefit period.

Most benefit periods last for 6 months but some can be as short as 1 month or as long as 3 years.

Entrance to the Dallas Farmer's Market. (Photo by Victoria Ahmadi/Beyond the Bubble staff).

Until now, SNAP recipients primarily shopped for food at chain grocery stores or local food pantries that are known for their minimal selection of healthy and fresh foods.

These pantries are mostly packed with frozen foods and canned goods, making it more difficult for CitySquare to promote Nurture, Knowledge and Nutrition. “Healthy choices make a big difference,” said Kopel.

According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, low-income households have a higher prevalence of health conditions related to poor nutrition than households with higher incomes.

Women with lower family income levels are 50 percent more likely to be obese than those with higher family incomes. Children of overweight mothers are more likely to be overweight themselves by age 6 than children of lean mothers.

While obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last two decades, they have increased the most among those in the lowest income levels, especially African American and Mexican American children.

HHSC gives SNAP benefits through the Lone Star Card, a plastic card that is used like a credit card at the cash register to pay for purchases. Each month, the family’s approved monthly SNAP amount is placed in the card’s account.

Eric Childers, a 27-year-old father of four, says that he’s never shopped at the Dallas Famer’s Market but may start now.

Childers is able to provide for his four young boys with the help of the Lone Star Card and says that finding nutritious foods is the key factor. He currently buys his groceries at the local Wal-Mart but says that the produce is nowhere near the quality of that of the farmers market.

“They shouldn’t give you a Lone Star Card to get fat,” Childers said.

Those receiving food benefits may not purchase an assortment of products including vitamins, medicines, hot foods, alcoholic beverages or foods that can be consumed inside the store.

Dallas Farmer’s Market vendor Adolf Ramirez says that he is anxiously waiting on his machine that will enable him to swipe Lone Star Cards as payment.

Ramirez is a produce dealer who is known for his selection of black-eyed peas, squash, tangerines, nuts and a variety of other produce goods.

“I think it will help business a lot, I am just excited to get my machine up and running for all of the new shoppers,” Ramirez said.

Rocky’s Journey: A Rescue Tail

December 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Molly McKone

Rocky with his owners Eric and Charlotte Simmons. (photo by Molly McKone/Beyond the Bubble staff)

He gallops to the door, greets his guests with a big lick on the cheek, and jumps up for a big bear hug. He sniffs your knees and licks your toes, and looks at you straight in the eye with his head slightly cocked to the right, as if he wants to know your story.

His name is Rocky, and he is just one of a litter of rescued pit bull-mix dogs found in an abandoned, dilapidated house in west Dallas in August 2011 and now living the posh life. In Rocky’s case, he is living with his new parents, Charlotte and Eric Simmons in Frisco.

“He is our baby, that is for sure,” Charlotte Simmons, 43, said with a gigantic smile on her face. “He has brought much excitement to this house.”

Her husband, Eric Simmons, 39, is Rocky’s best friend. “We can’t imagine our life without him,” Mr. Simmons said.

Rocky is one lucky dog. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 4 million cats and dogs, about one every eight seconds, are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. That could have been Rocky’s fate if not for the kindness of one of the city’s no-kill rescue groups. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, 10 to 20 percent of cats and dogs are adopted every year from rescue centers and shelters. Because of the economy, rescue centers and pet shelters are hurting for funds and are forced to turn many pets away.

“We ask for special funds to assist with certain cases. We often take in severely injured or abused dogs and cats and ask for donations specifically for those pets, said, Elise Bissell, executive director for Take Me Home Pet Rescue (TMHPR), whose group saved Rocky.

TMHPR, Operation Kindness, Paws in the City, and SPCA of Dallas are among the many nonprofit rescue groups in the area that operate almost entirely through donations and fundraisers. Bissel said her budget fluctuates with the donations TMHPR receives.

“People continue to be generous to us, but this could change at any time,” Bissel said.

TMHPR rescued Rocky along with his seven other siblings, including one found with just three legs, and his mother, Cricket. All of the puppies have found permanent homes. Cricket is still looking for a family to adopt her.

TMHPR, like other groups, removes dogs and cats from shelters where they are in danger of euthanasia, as well as rescuing them from unsafe situations and off the streets. Group members and friends foster the animals in their homes while trying to find them permanent homes. The group also has a new center on Campbell Road in Richardson, where it can keep animals who are sick or need special care overnight. The group is committed to having the animals in its care spayed, neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before they are adopted.

Sally Seegers, a TMHPR volunteer, knows first-hand about the problems and concerns rescue agencies are facing today. “There is a huge need for foster parents, adopters, and donations,” Ms. Seegers said. “People also need to acknowledge the great responsibility they take on when they adopt. You can’t just say ‘Oh well, I want a pet.’ You have to be prepared and willing to take care of them all the time like a family member.”

All of the pet rescue agencies dedicate their time to putting animals in the arms of people like the Simmons, who treat Rocky like a king.

“His ability to turn an awful day into such a good one is amazing,” Mr. Simmons says. “When I come home from a long day at work in a grumpy mood, he knows how to turn my day around.”

Rocky gets his faced washed every morning, shares the bed with his parents every night, and enjoys frozen yogurt on special occasions. Ms. Simmons is planning on buying Rocky some new booties for the winter time since she is worried his paws might gets cold when he goes outside.

Rocky even gets special treatment on the weekends at his day care center, McKee’s Pet Place, located in Frisco.

“Rocky is the best dog,” McKee employee Kelly Peace said. “He is never in his room because all the workers love playing with him. He makes friends with every dog and every person he comes across.”

The Simmons urge others to adopt from shelters and rescue agencies.

“We cannot imagine our lives without him. We do not have any children, so Rocky is literally like our child,” Ms. Simmons said.

“Rocky and all the other animals do not see color, they do not care how fat or skinny you are, they only see you for you. They love you just the way you are,” Mr. Simmons said.

Elderly Friendly Apartments in Jubilee Park Welcome First Round of Residents in the New Year

December 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Katie Day

Drawing of one of the elder apartment buildings now under construction in Jubilee Park. (Photo courtesy of Jubilee Park)

Berma Dye has lived in her home on Gurley Avenue in South Dallas for more than 20 years. The small, white paneled house, once surrounded by a neighborhood of similar residences, now sits in the midst of a big construction project in Jubilee Park.

Ms. Dye won’t be in her house for long. Soon she will move into a fully loaded elderly-friendly apartment thanks to the construction going on around her.

“I’m very excited,” said Dye, who will welcome a new group of neighbors just down the street in January, something she looks forward to now that her five children are grown and moved out.

Since June 2011, construction has been underway to line Gurley Avenue with 12 elderly-friendly apartments, located across from the Walt-Humann-T. Boone Pickens Community Resource Center. Applications are now being accepted for a first round of potential residents to move in in January.

John Lira, Director of Property Management at Dallas City Homes, has witnessed Mrs. Dye’s excitement leading up to her move.

“She goes constantly to look at it and see the progress,” he said.

Dallas City Homes is a non-profit community development organization that provides affordable housing for low-income households. They partner with local organizations, businesses, and national entities to support and create better communities in Dallas. The first six apartments will be ready at the beginning of 2012, and the second six by April of 2012. According to Lira, safety is key and precautions have been taken to ensure the new residents a hazard-free move in.

“We want all the residents to move into a safe environment without any nails or construction debris,” he said.

The one bedroom, one-bathroom homes pair residents two-per-unit, with one unit on top and the second unit located on the bottom floor. Each is complete with appliances, including washer and dryers, refrigerators, and pre-wired alarm systems, making them ideal for older residents. Rent will be $425 per month plus electric, according to the press release issued by Dallas City Homes, and the apartments will be reserved on a first-come, first-serve, basis.

Applications can be found here.

While the applications require the minimum age of 55 years old, Lira says the majority of the response has been from a much older group.

“Most are between the ages of 60 and 70,” he said. “We have four right now between 75 and 80 years old.”

The Jubilee Apartments will allow older residents to live a more independent, active, lifestyle with activities planned by Dallas City Homes to be offered in the community center across the street.
Mrs. Dye’s old home will be replaced by a child development center, which will sit right behind the Jubilee Center and contribute to the communities’ goal of facilitating the needs of all their residents, from the young to the elderly.

Jubilee Park is much more than a street of new apartments. It’s a community run by passionate individuals dedicated to protect, feed, and above all, educate those who reside there.

Ben Leal, Executive Director at the Jubilee Park & Community center, is one of these passionate leaders.

“We strive to cover everything from housing, employment, healthcare, and education,” he said.

In addition to the elderly-friendly apartments, The 62-block area features amenities like the 21,000 square foot community center and David’s place, a Head Start program for children before they transfer to the O.M. Roberts Elementary School. All the programs in Jubilee Park put a strong emphasis on education.

“We believe that education is the foundation of everything that we do,” says Leal.

Leal recognizes the obstacles that come with effectively reaching and educating the youth in the community, which is why he and the other members of the Jubilee Park team take a comprehensive approach to everything they do.

“The student can’t be successful if they’re hungry, and the student can’t be successful if they’re unsafe,” he said.

By teaming up with other organizations in Dallas, Jubilee Park has addressed these issues. Through a partnership with the Dallas police department, there has been a 64percent reduction in crime in the area, according to Leal.

Lira says plans are also underway to cut down on traffic flow through Gurley Avenue.

“It will be made down to one lane in a year or so,” he said, “which will make the street a much safer, quieter place to live.”

GameStop’s New Gadget

November 17, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Victoria Ahmadi

GameStop Corporation announced last month that it has selected Google’s Android mobile operating system as its official tablet device.

The corporation has been planning its addition for several months. GameStop is in the midst of transforming its store concept while digital gaming systems are on the rise.

It is striving to meet the demands and needs of the consumer, most of whom are starting to play games on the go. It is important that GameStop stay on trend with innovations in technology in order to stay afloat.

Camp Murphy, district manager for GameStop says that mobile gaming is the only way for consumers to experience new games, as no physical media exists. This sales model impacts the casual gamer and represents a small total amount of game industry sales. GameStop’s primary entrance into mobile gaming is through its brand on Android devices.

The corporation’s most recent quarterly financial results depict a 3% decrease in revenue from $1.79 billion in 2010 to $1.74 billion in 2011. A primary factor in the decrease is the 12% drop in hardware sales and 10% drop in software sales.

When a significant amount of time passes without the release of new consoles or software, the market stays flat. In 2010 GameStop had sales of $9.47 billion, which had been a steady increase from previous years.

The sales slow down is in part due to the lack of new consoles on the market and the shift from consoles to portable devices (i.e. computers, tablets, mobile phones, iOS devices, etc.). The introduction of a new major video game console is the biggest boost of business for GameStop, even more so than new software. The last console to be released was Nintendo Wii in 2006 and there isn’t any talk of a new release until early 2013.

District manager Murphy of the Washington D.C. area says that the holiday selling season accounts for roughly 60% of business at GameStop. Post-holiday sales are generally very strong as well. The industry is very much tied to the release of new titles. At this stage big releases come throughout the year.

“Traditionally, there are a handful of highly anticipated titles released in early spring, early summer, back-to-school and the biggest titles release is in the October through November holiday shopping season,” Murphy said.

GameStop is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Grapevine, TX. It is the world’s largest multichannel retailer of physical and digital video game products and PC entertainment software. The company operates more than 6,500 retail stores worldwide and online outlets including and GameStop also publishes Game Informer magazine, a popular video game publication.

It sells gaming products including new and used software, hardware and a large selection of accessories. Last month GameStop announced that its stores would be taking old iOS devices (iPhones, iPods and iPads) in exchange for cash or store credit.

“GameStop is the only brick and mortar retailer partnering with Microsoft and Sony to deliver DLC directly to gamers,” said Murphy. “Gamers have always had the option to purchase downloadable content (DLC) directly from their Xbox 360 or Play Station 3 console but that purchase model requires a credit card tied to the online account.”

At GameStop, customers can pay for the same DLC offered online via credit card, cash, check or even by trading games.

GameStop’s latest earning press release shows a 69% increase in digital sales in its second quarter. This drastic increase portrays a changing dynamic between digital and analog gaming.

Jose Gutierrez, a 24-year-old video gamer feels that the wave of digital gaming is a huge improvement in the way that people can access games. “I believe it’s an easier way to entertain yourself in one device rather than having different CDs and apparatuses…plus tablets are easy to use,” he said.

“As a consumer it’s way easier to not have to visit a store for games because you have it in the palm of your hands.”

On the other hand, 22-year-old Brian Blair of Plano still likes to go to GameStop stores. He says that he doesn’t see consoles coming off the market anytime soon. “Digital gaming will never be able to compare…consoles allow people to sit back and use their TV’s in the comfort of their home,” he said. “Mobile gaming is pretty awesome but it won’t ever be able to have that at-home feel.”

GameStop’s consumer market is made up of primarily two groups of people. The first is a younger audience mostly composed of children and teens in grade school. The second is an older clientele, which consists of the parents of young gamers and adult gamers. While the cost of games ranges anywhere from $10 to $70, only those with a true gaming passion and who have disposable income can afford to make regular GameStop purchases.

A Third Campus to Call Home

November 16, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Lara Migorod

More than 2,300 people welcomed a third new location for Prestonwood Baptist Church on Aug 21 by attending the first service at the new Dallas Campus on Hillcrest Road, three miles north of SMU.

Christine Rankin is a devoted member of Prestonwood and is very excited about the church’s new location.

“We wanted a church based in Dallas again, in order to connect with the Dallas community. It is so wonderful that we are able to have three church campuses that are all in different locations but still in the Dallas Fort Worth Area.” says Rankin.

Prestonwood, now one of the country’s largest megachurches originated in Dallas in the 1970‘s and moved to Plano in 1999. A campus in Prosper opened in 2006.

Prestonwood wanted to build a new campus in Dallas in order to reach out to the Highland Park community again.

On the Sunday of Sept. 11, churchgoers entered the glass doors of the red brick building, and hundreds of people gathered in the atrium to talk before attending a special 9-11 service in the auditorium.

Guest Preacher O.S. Hawkins lead the service, and remembered loved ones who risked their lives for America.

“ If there are police officers or fire fighters who served our country on September 11, please stand,” says Hawkins.

A few police officers and fire fighters stood.

The new church is at the site of the Hillcrest Church, which went bankrupt earlier this year.

A few months after it was purchased by Prestonwood, a “Core Group” of 300 members who live within the Dallas community helped launch the third campus.

“It took three months to prepare and build a foundation by doing yard work, cleaning and organizing the new location. We also volunteered in ministries. We helped to spread awareness to people about this wonderful new location,” Core Group member Vicki Foster said.

Now that the Dallas campus is up and running, Prestonwood’s goal is to reach out to as many people as possible to worship and attend bible studies. The church also offers a class called NextStep that provides information to visitors and people who may want to become members of the church.

NextStep gives people the opportunity to learn about the church’s beliefs and its various ministries offered, and to meet the ministers.

Minister of Men and Evangelism, David Shivers hosts bible studies for men and “want to make an impact on their life.”

Prestonwood continues to find ways to reach out to different universities and organizations.

“We want a place where the Dallas community can experience the Prestonwood experience. I want to start a bible study for SMU women in order to read out to SMU students. The bible study will be off campus,” says Power Point Ministries worker Angie Strange.

Not only is Prestonwood trying to reach out to the Dallas Fort worth area, but the church has their own broadcast ministry called Powerpoint Ministries.

“We take all of the messages and services and broadcast it all over the world on TV and radio,” says Strange.

As Prestonwood continues to expand, the church looks forward to meet new faces and make new home in Dallas.

“We exist as a church for people who are not here. We are trying to reach new people all of the time and to make a difference,” said Dallas Campus Pastor Chris Kouba.

The Reality of Reality Television

October 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 


By Katie Day

Courtney Michalek is an SMU sophomore. She’s a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, a Dallas native, and a recent star on the reality series “Dallas Divas & Daughters.”

Michalek says many viewers have misconceptions about the Style Network series that followed her and her mother around Dallas from October 2009 to November 2009. Not only did it involve a lot less glitz and glamour than one would expect, the show’s portrayal of reality was misconstrued as well.

“The term ‘reality’ is quite comical,” said Michalek of the series. “Basically the fact that I was related to my mother and that our names were Cindy and Courtney were the only things that were real.”

Michalek says her days were not filled with cameras following her every move and, although they were portrayed as close friends, she didn’t know the majority of the cast members before they started filming.

“The directors tell you where to be at an exact time and they tell you what you have to talk about and with whom,” she said. “With the exception of one mother and daughter duo on the show, I had never met any of the girls.”

The cast of the show was not pampered, and Michalek says they didn’t even provide hair and makeup artists for their season’s cast members. It was left up to each mother and daughter to get ready for the cameras.

“My mom and I didn’t really get our makeup and hair done for every taping, although we regret it now,” she laughs.

Reality shows like “Dallas Daughters & Divas” have millions of viewers tuning in every week. As producers continue to move their projects to the southern regions, Dallas has seen an increase in coverage especially in the area of reality television. Style Network’s “Big Rich Texas” and “Donna Decorates Dallas” on HGTV are both based in Dallas.

SMU Director of Technology David Sedman says it’s no surprise that Dallas has continued to grow as a reality TV target. The city presents many advantages that make shooting attractive to producers.

“Within 45 minutes you can have an urban look, a rural and honky-tonk setting, an arts and collegiate look, and everything in between and beyond,” he said.

The roots of reality television are far from the scandalous series that fill up our screens today. In fact, they were once shows you would feel comfortable watching with your grandmother. Shows like “Candid Camera” and “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour” presented good clean fun that brought the whole family together.

Sedman says it’s these very shows that inspired many of the ones we watch today, including MTV’s “Punk’d” and “Big Brother” on CBS.

According to Sedman, it was after the first “clean” wave of reality television that the reality shows we know today came to be. Computer-based video made way for classics like “COPS” and “Blind Date,” which were then followed by the more recent third wave and many more reality shows.

“When television expanded to more than 100 channels, a third wave of shows we all know flourished including “Survivor” and “Big Brother”,” he said.

Many of the shows have made stars and sky rocketed the careers of those who would otherwise go unnoticed. Everyone has heard of MTV’s Snookie from Jersey Shore, and thanks to “Keeping up with Kardashians” on E!, an entire family has a career.

Sedman believes the unknown elements in each show and interesting personalities can be a magical combination that leads to a shows’ success.
Amanda Rupley, owner of Raw Casting Company in Dallas, has been in the entertainment industry for 25 years. She’s responsible for finding many of the personalities and potential “stars” that make a hit reality show through casting calls.

Rupley’s castings credits span over 40 shows including “Hell’s Kitchen,” “The Glee Project,” “Real World,” and “Losing it with Jillian Michaels.” She’s witnessed first hand the stories that make these shows a success, some more heart wrenching than others.

Rupley recalls meeting a 17-year-old auditioning for “Losing it with Jillian Michaels” who was not looking for a reality show to launch her career, but to save her life.

“She was almost 400 lbs and was told she had Type 2 Diabetes,” said Rupley. “The doctors told her if she didn’t lose the weight, she would die. She needed this show.”

According to Rupley, it’s these stories that keep you going in the reality TV business.

The growing popularity of Dallas based shows has been a great benefit to Rupley’s career by eliminating the need to travel in order to recruit for the shows. She says several shows are currently in town including Bravo’s “Most Eligible Dallas,” and SpikeTV’s “Pawn Games.”

D Magazine intern Kendall Goldstein watches “Most Eligible Dallas” on Bravo every week and describes the show as “both stupid and entertaining”.

“It’s fun to see where the cast goes. They’re always going to a new restaurant or bar that happens to be right in my neighborhood,” she said.

However, in spite of the fun places the show incorporates into their episodes, Goldstein realizes the behavior of the cast is a reflection of Dallas for those who watch.

“The cast is so materialistic and they spend all their time gossiping,” she said. “It makes me worried that people who don’t live in Dallas tune in and watch the silly drama.”

Staring on a reality TV series has left a lasting impression on Michalek, who can no longer watch and simply be entertained by the shows as many viewers do every week.

“I now watch and cringe at the lies because they are so apparent now that I have been behind the scenes,” she said.

However, according to Michalek the experience wasn’t a complete disappointment and although her and her mother did not continue on with another season of “Dallas Divas and Daughters,” she still doesn’t regret being on the show.

“People can criticize me for being on it,” she said. “But how many people can say they’ve been in OK Magazine and have been made fun of by Chelsea Handler on her show?”

Michalek says to be on the show requires that you have the ability to laugh at yourself. She knows it isn’t her real life that gets people tuning in every week, but the show’s drama and the interesting characters it creates.

“I don’t take myself too seriously and to be on a reality show you really can’t, because I mean come on, no one really cares about your life at all,” Michalek said. “It just happens that your life is broadcast in front of people on their TVs.”

Silver Labs: The New Fad in Dogs

October 12, 2011 by · 1 Comment 


By Sydney Giesey

Silver Lab photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Melanie Phillips has been breeding Labrador Retrievers for 13 years. For the first eight years she bred the standard colors: black, yellow and chocolate. Now she breeds a canine that many people have never heard of, a silver Labrador.

“Where did they come from?” “I’ve never seen one of these.”

These are typical comments Phillips said she heard when Southwest Georgia
Living Magazine wrote an article about her kennel, Silver Land Retrievers, and her silver labs in its July/August issue.

Phillips said one man who read the article drove hundreds of miles to her home in Georgia in the hopes of buying one of the unusual dogs. The man showed up at her doorstep and asked, “Have you got a puppy?”

“It’s not that easy, bud,” Phillips told him. At the time, she did not have a litter.

Melanie produced her first silvers by breeding some of her top females (a white female, a black female and a yellow female) with a male silver she bought. This type of breeding produced silver factored puppies.

There has been controversy around the silver lab and its origins. Supporters of the breed say it is a purebred Labrador and the silver color is simply the result of a recessive gene. Critics believe the canine received the silver color, and the corresponding gene, by being crossbred with Weimaraners.

“There’s no way to prove it or disprove it, to be quite honest,” said Tom

Beckert, a member of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Labrador Retriever Club. The club, which is a parent club, develops the breed standards for Labradors. The American Kennel Club then adopts the standards.

The AKC does not recognize the silver coat as a color unto itself. The group defines the Labrador Retriever coat colors as black, yellow and chocolate. Any other color, or combination of colors, is a disqualification according to the breed standard. The grey coat is considered a variation of chocolate or black. Silver is a dilution of chocolate, while charcoal is a dilution of black. Labradors with white coats are considered a dilution of yellow. The white coat is also a disqualification.

Dr. Tyler Foreman, a veterinarian at Hillside Veterinary Clinic in Dallas, said the silver labs he has come in contact with have behaved much like standard colored Labradors. They are fun loving, friendly and have a lot of energy, but Dr. Foreman said he isn’t entirely convinced they are purebred.

“If you put a Weimaraner and a Labrador Retriever next to each other, there really is not a large amount of difference to me,” he said.

He said the two breeds are similar in size and shape and have similar temperaments.

Whether they are purebred or crossbred, silver Labradors are a small subset in the canine population. Many people don’t even know the breed exists.

“I’ve heard of white labs, but I haven’t ever heard of silver labs,” lab-owner Susan Bovenzi said, watching her four-year-old black lab, Nelly Belle, play at the Wagging Tail Dog Park in Dallas.

Dr. Foreman agrees the silver color is not very common.

“I would probably say I could count the number of times I’ve seen one on one hand,” he said.

This exclusivity allows some breeders to put a high price tag on their litters. Some online websites charged up to $1,800 for silver puppies, and consumers are willing to pay it. Most purebred black, yellow or chocolate labs listed for sale online ranged from $600 to $1000 in price. White labs appear to be closest in price to silver labs with several websites asking for somewhere between $1300 and $1700 for puppies.

“Anytime there’s something new in the dog breed world, especially with a breed as popular as Labrador retriever, it’s bound to become a short lived fad,” Dr. Foreman said.

The silver lab isn’t the first Labrador to be part of a fad, according to Becker.

“Chocolates were in the same boat,” he said.

Becker said chocolates were the fancy ten years ago. Breeders could charge more for the brown color. Today you don’t pay nearly as much, he said.

“When they are rare, people pay a premium for them,” Becker said. “After a while, they become a common place thing.”

While a small population can bring in big money, it can also cause breeders to revert to inbreeding, also known as line breeding. Phillips said breeders originally had to rely on inbreeding to maintain the silver color.

Dr. Foreman said inbreeding can often have negative affects on a dog’s health and is common among purebreds.

“For any pure bred dog, Labrador Retrievers are unfortunately no exception, at some point they’ve been inbred,” he said.

Phillips said she never had to inbreed.

“In human relationships it would be incestuous,” Phillips said.

Regardless of the silver lab’s beginnings, Phillips loves her dogs. They play with her grandchildren. They are a part of her family.

“They’re a lab,” Phillips said. “If you love a lab and just want a different color, I would definitely recommend them.”

Deep Ellum: The Neighborhood that Refuses to Die

May 15, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Fernando Valdes

Barry Annino, president of The Deep Ellum Foundation, moved to Deep Ellum during its heydays in the 1990s. Annino saw Deep Ellum thrive. He remembers having a Deep Ellum MasterCard, starting the Deep Ellum Film Festival and driving through a graffiti covered tunnel to enter the neighborhood.

Today, none of those things exist.

Deep Ellum was once one of the most vibrant entertainment districts in Texas, known for its rich history, live music venues and restaurants. Today, after having survived a major downfall, Deep Ellum is once again transforming into an integral piece of Dallas city life.

During the mid 2000s, Deep Ellum became plagued with crime and saw many tenants go out of business. The decline of Deep Ellum led to the abandonment of the neighborhood. Empty streets and vacant buildings filled the landscape.

Many residents and loyal visitors knew the community had gone through this before and would once again revive itself. Today, community residents and organizations, such as The Deep Ellum Foundation, are working hard to give the streets of Deep Ellum new life.

“It’s booming now and thriving and going on its own,” said Kayce Phy, a Deep Ellum resident for more than 12 years.

The green line of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has helped improve the neighborhood by connecting Deep Ellum to Downtown and other parts of the city. This has alleviated parking issues and brought more visitors to the area.

According to Paula Ramirez, a Deep Ellum resident and a member of the Deep Ellum Enrichment Project (DEEP), the streets are no longer desolate during the day. Ramirez has seen an influx of people walking in the streets and enjoying the neighborhood.

During the past year, many new businesses have sprung up in Deep Ellum. Several iconic restaurants, bars and music venues, such as Trees and Club Dada, have also reopened.

Mike Turley, co-owner of Serious Pizza, is one of many business owners who decided to open their new restaurants in Deep Ellum. After searching around the country for the perfect location, the Orlando native and his business partner, Andrew Phillips, discovered Deep Ellum and immediately knew they had found the perfect location.

According to Turley, the culture of the neighborhood combined with the cheap rent sold them on the neighborhood.

“Deep Ellum has been a great time,” said Turley. “The community is awesome.”

According to Annino, restaurants, bars and music venues are opening in Deep Ellum because the rent is cheap and it is conveniently located close to downtown, Baylor Medical Hospital and a major police department center.

Additionally, Annino said venues will benefit from the plans the City of Dallas has to improve Deep Ellum. The city has proposed making all streets two-way streets, widening all of the sidewalks and adding more benches and trees around the neighborhood. This will allow restaurants and bars to have patios on sidewalks. It will also make streets pedestrian friendly and slow traffic down exponentially.

Although Deep Ellum is well known for its nightlife and restaurants, visitors sometimes overlook another aspect of the neighborhood.

“People are going to realize people actually live here,” said Ramirez. “It’s not just bars. There is a community.”

Members of the community have been putting in the work necessary to revive Deep Ellum and make it a unique and vibrant place to be.

“People talk about Brooklyn, they talk of these neighborhoods, like cities it reminds them of, but they can’t say they have the closeness of their neighbors like they have right here,” said Phy.

The 170-acre community, which houses nearly 2,000 residents, is mostly comprised of people in their 20s and 30s who are looking for an inexpensive, diverse neighborhood near downtown Dallas.

Inside the walls of Deep Ellum, you will find people brimming with creativity. The neighborhood has always been known for its diverse and eclectic artists.

“There’s a lot of talent here,” Annino said. “It’s not a sophisticated talent in that it’s not a rich group; there’s not a lot of money necessarily… but they do what they do special. You can see it in the art, the pillars, the music.”

The residents of Deep Ellum know their neighborhood has a history of ups and downs. During the 1920s, Deep Ellum was known as one of the premier areas for jazz and blues musicians in the South. Several iconic artists, such as Blind Lemmon Jefferson and Bessie Smith, played in clubs all over the neighborhood.

By the time World War II ended, the city had expanded and Deep Ellum had lost many iconic music venues and nightclubs. Slowly, the residents moved out of the neighborhood and Deep Ellum became a warehouse district.

Deep Ellum came roaring back to life in the 1990s, when it became known as Dallas’ liveliest entertainment district. By 1991, the neighborhood had 57 bars and nightclubs. Artists from all over the country started to book performances in the area.

But once again, crime, zoning restrictions and the rise of other entertainment districts led to the decline of Deep Ellum.

History seems to be repeating itself. Residents and enthusiasts say Deep Ellum has a bright future.

“The city is making a lot of changes,” said Phy. “I think it would be hard to tear apart the love that this community has for the actual history and for what we all together see as the future.”

The Daily Update: Friday, April 29

April 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

The Royal Wedding was today! Learn all about the events that took place. Also find out the tragic story of Ashley Harrison and find out if the Mavericks are moving on to the conference semi-finals. All this and more on your Daily Update!

North Henderson Is Where It’s At

April 28, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Christine Jonas

If you are looking for a fun night out, delicious food and a low-key atmosphere the bars on North Henderson are just the place to go. With J. Blacks Lounge, NeighborHood Services Tavern and Capitol Pub side-by-side at the 2400 block of N. Henderson Avenue, you have three great options in one location.

The patio at Capitol Pub is hoppin' on weekend afternoons. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPITOL PUB)

Capitol Pub offers a classic bar environment. A horseshoe-shaped bar sits in the middle of the room with tables surrounding it. An outdoor patio boasts many tables and a chance to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

The kitchen is open until 11 p.m. Monday- Thursday, midnight Friday- Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday. The menu is quite extensive and the food is delicious. I recommend the Seared Rare Tuna Salad and the Drunken Steak Sandwich.

This pub is your best bet to grab a cocktail with a friend during happy hour Monday- Thursday from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. and Friday from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Capitol Pub is open Monday- Thursday 4 p.m.-2 a.m. And Friday- Sunday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

For a more sophisticated night out, head to NeighborHood Services Tavern. You will find the bar separated from the seated tables, but it provides a nice atmosphere to eat, talk and drink with your friends.

The menu offers an array of items, but definitely appeals to a more sophisticated pallet. The Fried Little Asparagus is a great starter, especially when followed by the Tavern Butcher’s Meatloaf. Also, the nightly plates offer wonderful daily specials.

NeighborHood Services outdoor seating area. (PHOTO BY CHRISTINE JONAS/SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

NeighborHood Services, open Monday through Saturday, serves specialty cocktails that are classic and tasty. The bar opens at 5 p.m. and the kitchen opens at 5:30 p.m. I recommend calling ahead to add your party to the wait-list for the evening, tables tend to fill up quickly.

If you want a relaxed lounge feel, with great music and amazing cocktails then J. Blacks Lounge is the place for you. A large circular bar sits in the middle of the room and tables and couches surround it. A patio wraps around the outside offering great outdoor seating options.

Acai Sangria and the BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders are a go-to favorite at J.Blacks. (PHOTO BY CHRISTINE JONAS/SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

With an extensive food and drink menu, you are sure to find something for you. Their cocktails are unique and delicious, especially the Acai Sangria or the Orange Mojito. The dinner plates are wonderful to share, so I recommend ordering the BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders, the Austrailian Lam Chop Lollipops and the Hummus–perfect as a snack for a small group.

J.Blacks Lounge is open Monday- Thursday from 4 p.m.-2 p.m. and Friday- Sunday from 11 a.m.-2a.m.

Contact Information
Capitol Pub
214. 887.9330
2401 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas TX 75206

NeighborHood Services
2405 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas, TX 75206

Blacks Lounge
2409 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas, TX 75206

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