Category Archives: Community

U.S. Marine welcomed home by Heath City Council

A U.S. Marine whose family lives in Heath was officially welcomed home by the Heath City Council at their meeting Aug. 4. with a proclamation issued by Mayor John Ratcliffe (see photo below).

Lance Corporal Mark McKenna recently arrived home safely from his deployments to Iraq, Guam and on the USS Boxer.

Heath Department of Public Safety Chief Terry Garrett (who has two sons serving overseas in the military) presented the Marine with a Survivor Cord Warrior Band and Welcome Home Challenge Coin (see photo above).

Mayor Ratcliffe also recognized McKenna’s parents, Scott and Marsha McKenna; his sister, Megan; and grandfather, Tim Farley, for the sacrifices they have made during McKenna’s military service.

During his tour of duty, he received distinguished recognition, including a Purple Heart, Presidential Award, Expert Rifleman Badge and Jump Wings Pin.

He graduated from Garland Christian Academy and then joined the Marines in 2006.

If you have a family member or friend who has returned home to Heath from active duty, the Heath City Council would like to honor him or her during a Council meeting. For more information, please contact Assistant City Manager Kim Dobbs at 972-771-6228 or

Watch for a more detailed feature news article about McKenna soon in

Nan Ross no longer directing Rockwall Boys, Girls Club

For the past two years or more, Nan Ross has worked very hard to build the Rockwall Boys & Girls Club so children would have a fun, safe place to go after school until their parents came home from work.

She apparently did an excellent job, building membership up to all-time levels, despite constant financial obstacles.

But I just learned recently that Nan was either fired or resigned in April, depending upon which version you hear and whomever you talk to.

Several board members also resigned, apparently some because of the way that Ross was dismissed. But I still need to more thoroughly investigate the rumors I’ve heard.

Others apparently left because they had just spent several years on the board and the time had come to leave. I’m told that RISD’s Dr. Debbie Smothermon, one of the Club’s founders, was one of these people.

Ross told me about two weeks ago that she is now happily resettled as the Boys & Girls Club director of the new Club in Marble Falls TX, near Austin. She said she misses the Rockwall Club but has “moved on.”

I’ve also been told that since she left, over 100 kids have dropped out of the program. It sounds like much is happening there.

Watch for a story soon about the Club at

The Club is hosting a fund-raising “Harbor Rock” concert June 12 at 6 pm at The Harbor amphitheater. Although the concert is free to the public, VIP seats and perks are available for $25 each and sponsorships are also available.  Just contact 214-842-2253 or visit

State Farm Insurance names Rockwall resident “Volunteer of the Year”

State Farm Insurance has named Rockwall resident and executive secretary Jeri Watson-Roberts as their “Volunteer of the Year” in 2009 after she spent more than 100 hours volunteering with several organizations, including Attitudes and Attire, Lakeland Academy, Habitat for Humanity, the Plano Balloon Festival, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and Throwaway Ponies.

She is married to Tom Roberts and says she gets the most joy out of helping making someone else’s life better.

Congratulations, Jeri!

Another one bites the dust…at The Harbor

Still another business closed last week at The Harbor in Rockwall.

Add the “Rija Boutique” clothing store to the list of businesses that have closed there:

  1. Bath Junkie
  2. Celebrity Cafe & Bakery
  3. Cote d-Azur
  4. Fashion Focus Eyewear Boutique
  5. Harbor Girl
  6. L’Egantz
  7. Rija Boutique
  8. Real Estate Information Center
  9. Savoy’s Gifts
  10. Scooters
  11. The Baby Planner
  12. Valore Italian Restaurant

Have I forgotten any? Seems like there was at least one more.

Amazing is that The Harbor’s very own out-of-date website still shows photos of the closed Fashion Focus, Harbor Girl, L’Egantz and Savoy stores on their website, and lists L’Egantz as one of their existing businesses on its Shops page and Cote d-Azur on its Dining page.

Guess even their webmaster can’t keep up!

Plus the outdated “About” page doesn’t even tell viewers when the facility opened, and includes not a current but an old video produced before the Harbor was built showing what it’s going to look like from an architect’s view.

Compare the list above to the businesses still open:

  1. Affinity Salon & Spa
  2. Agave Tappas Bar
  3. Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel
  4. Blue Canyon Kitchen & Wine Bar
  5. Cinemark
  6. Cold Stone Creamery
  7. Dodie’s Cajun Diner
  8. En Fuego Tobacco Shop
  9. Genuine Jakes
  10. Gloria’s
  11. Hollywood Nails
  12. Juvanew Medspa
  13. Potrillo De La Sandia
  14. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  15. Ruby Tuesday
  16. Tastee Freeze
  17. Zeus

So at least 12 have closed out of about 29 (41%) businesses which have opened there since it opened (as best as I can remember).

Watch for a more complete story soon at explaining what’s going on at The Harbor, plus what its owners, City officials and store owners have to say about the future of this private/public enterprise.

Any comments from readers are also invited to help us with the story!

Royse City church holding food pantry drive Feb. 13, 20

Royse City’s First United Methodist Church and area Boy Scouts will be combining efforts to refill the community food pantry Feb. 13 and 20.

Bags will be left on Royse City residents doors Feb. 13 with instructions on the bags and pickup of filled bags will begin Feb. 20 at 9 am.

For info, call the Church at 972-636-0569.

MusicFest to roast County Commissioners Bailey, Grinnan

Rockwall MusicFest will host its seventh annual local celebrity “roast” Jan. 30 to raise money for the Rockwall Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs classical music concerts with talented RISD students at least once each year in the area.

This year, Rockwall County Commissioners Dennis Bailey and Lorie Grinnan will be roasted (made fun of) by:

  • Rockwall YMCA executive director Mike Atkins
  • Dennis Bailey’s son and sales manager at Trend H.R. Jonathan Bailey
  • Promise Makers executive director Greg Beauchamp
  • Rest Haven Funeral Homes president Dewayne Cain
  • Rockwall Rotary Club and Lakeside Insurance president Russ Childers
  • Attorney and former RISD school board member Brad Lambeth
  • Lorie Grinnan’s brother and president of Efficient Business LLC Derick Schaefer          

Previous “roastees” have been:

  • Congressman Ralph M. Hall
  • former Rockwall Mayor Ken Jones
  • Rockwall Helping Hands Director Margo Nielsen
  • RISD Public Relations Director Sheri Fowler
  • American National Bank Vice President Kevin Fowler 
  • Rockwall resident Raymond Cameron 
  • Rockwall Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Margie Hooper

For info about the event to be held at Occasions at Stone River in Royse City, call 972-771-3573 or 972-772-0752.

City of Rockwall proclaims Dec. 7 as Helping Horses, Healing Hearts Day

Karen Bander, who founded and operates the non-profit “Throwaway Ponies” in Rockwall, was recognized for her efforts to help abused horses as well as abused women and children when the Rockwall City Council proclaimed Dec. 7 as “Helping Horses and Healing Hearts” day.

Mayor Bill Cecil presented her and three of her associates with the  proclamation at the beginning of the City Council meeting. 

The Dallas Morning News published an article about her organization last week.

Congratulations Karen and friends! We need to learn and write more about your non-profit.

Nobel Peace Prize with oil change offered by Rockwall auto repair

Rockwall’s Horizon Auto Center is making a little fun of the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to Pres. Obama today.

See the Horizon sign at 5335 Horizon Dr., Rockwall 75032. It’s just south of Presbyterian Hospital. Call 469-698-8585 for information.

City of Rockwall proclaims Dec. 7 as John Browning Day

Award-winning legal columnist, Texas Superlawyer and Rockwall Bar Association president John Browning was recognized by the Rockwall City Council Monday night when he received a proclamation from Mayor Bill Cecil stating Dec. 7 was “John Browning Day” in the City of Rockwall.

He received the recognition because his award-winning “Legally Speaking” newspaper column began five years ago in the local Rockwall County Herald Banner. Since then, the column has been published by many more newspapers and magazines across Texas.

Congratulations to you, John, my personal friend and a board member of our Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation. You deserve it!

Nominations now open for The Handsome Men of Rockwall County series

Nominations are now open for “The Handsome Men of Rockwall County,” a series of 12-20 features with photos and brief profiles about these men coming this January.

Photos will be taken by a professional photographer but it will not be a competition. We just want to have a little fun and show off some of Rockwall County’s “beautiful people.”

Who do you know who would like to be featured, who might also like to have his business or organization showcased or mentioned in his profile?

Sponsorships are also available to businesses which want to advertise or provide either jewelry, clothing, makeup or photography in return for publicity/advertising.

We’ve already received several nominations and want more. Just send us their names and a couple of photos or a Facebook site and we’ll email them to access it.

Simultaneously, we’ll be showcasing ”The Beautiful Women of Rockwall County” (see separate blog post).

Please contact us right away by emailing