Stone Oak’s Newest Park
Long Awaited Classen-Steubing Ranch Park Opens May 17
By Amy Morgan
If you build it – they will come. The dream became reality May 17 when the long-awaited Classen-Steubing Ranch Park opened in Stone Oak. Ball fields, playground, paved path and trails soon will be filled by people healthily and happily enjoying the great outdoors.
Wednesday morning approximately 100 people – dignitaries, developers, city representatives and nature enthusiasts — gathered to officially cut the ribbon at San Antonio’s newest park. The Classen-Steubing Ranch Park, located at 20240 Hardy Oak Blvd., includes a pavilion with six public restrooms and water fountains, five muti-use sports fields, close to a mile of paved walking/biking trails and another mile of off-road hiking trails. Facilities and fields are open to the community on a first come, first served basis.
The park itself occupies close to 40 acres but abuts 164 acres of conservation easement, so the total 204 acres of natural area seems spacious. Funds for Classen-Steubing were provided as part of the $187 million dedicated in the 2017 bond under the vision of former Councilman Joe Krier, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. He praised the efforts of local community members including the friends of Classen-Steubing Ranch Park who collaborated together and sustained the vision. Further funds were added during the 2022 park project under the watch of current District 9 Councilman John Courage.
“Parks re-energize and reconnect families and neighbors,” said Mayor Nirenberg.
A wide, paved approximately .25-mile track circles the three upper fields configured for baseball/softball that are planted with lush grass. The paved loop continues north with scenic views of the Stone Oak greenspace to add another .5 miles. Both paths are landscaped with native plants that complement existing foliage. Two horizontal fields and restrooms lie at the front entrance to the park. In the future, mountain bikers will access two miles of off-road trails from this point, said Kelsey Scherschel, the Natural Areas Manager with San Antonio’s Parks and Recreation Department. The city is working with the South Texas Off-Road Mountain Biking Association to develop the biking trails, she added.
By the end of the summer the park will also open Mitchell’s Landing, the first completely accessible and inclusive playground in the city. The Mitchell Chang foundation provided funds for the playground, which encompasses almost an acre. Councilman Courage noted, “A park in one district is really a park for the whole city.”
Groups and individuals inaugurated the paths Wednesday. Will and Claudia Davis took advantage of the park’s opening to log their daily 3-mile walk. Will has lived in the Stone Oak area for 20 years, and their home backs into Classen-Steubing. While he misses the cows peeking over the fence from when the land was a ranch, he noted the park makes good use of the space and is highly preferable to the area being commercialized. The pair enjoy the ability to access the park on foot rather than driving to another location. Claudia looks forward to the completion of the playground for her grandchildren.
Phase Two expected in 2024 includes a trail to connect Classen-Steubing with existing Stone Oak Park. D9 will host public meetings beginning in the fall to solicit input about how best to utilize the pledged $6 million to add additional amenities.
Also at the park, a three-year permeable pavement study conducted by UTSA in conjunction with the Edwards Aquifer Project to test four different surfaces to see which best utilizes stormwater.
In the words of Homer Garcia III, San Antonio Parks Director, “Parks bring families together and build community.”
District 9 Receives $1.5 Million from City Budget to Fund Residents’ Wish List
By Amy Morgan
Sometimes San Antonio’s city programs seem far away and of little impact or interest in Stone Oak. District 9’s Councilman John Courage wanted to find a way to engage the community and bring dollars to benefit his district directly. In 2018 he launched the first participatory budget, soliciting feedback from District 9 constituents about projects that would make a difference to its residents.
The process met with much enthusiasm and continued the next year, until COVID caused a hiatus. This year, the participatory budget process returned with resounding success. In fact, with 2609 people voting, the 2023 D9 Participatory Budget was the largest in the entire state of Texas, according to Ryder Billo, District 9’s Communication Director, not just in its $1.5 million awarded, but in the number of people who took part – 2609 – a whopping 1000 more than in 2019. 140 people submitted proposals for projects that were near and dear to their hearts, Ryder explained. Then Councilman Courage’s office took those projects to be refined by city staff and given a cost analysis. Those deemed feasible went to a citizen panel of District 9 constituents who winnowed the list to the 28 taken to citizen vote March 9-18.
“The D9 Participatory Budgeting effort has grown tremendously since we started in 2017,” Councilman Courage said. “It’s wonderful to see the community interest and involvement grow over the years. Other districts, and even other cities, should adopt this for their communities. This is a great way to give residents direct control of where their tax dollars are allocated.”
2023 D9 Participatory Budget Winners
McAllister Little League General Improvements - $225,000
Hidden Forest Elementary Soccer Field Artificial Turf- $150,000
McAllister Monarch Habitat Conservation Landscaping - $3,500
Hardy Oak Elementary Signalized Crosswalk - $100,000
McAllister Park Critter Proof Trashcans (2) - $16,000
Walker Ranch Pickleball Court - $400,000
Right Turn Lane on Bitters WB Huebner NB - $200,000 (design only)
Intersection Improvements at Churchill Estates and Blanco - $200,000 (design only)
Right Turn Lane on Huebner EB at Stone Oak Parkway SB - $200,000 (design only)
Lorence Creek Preserve Community Garden Trees - $5,000
While all the top 10 projects that won funding are situated within the district’s borders, several have direct impact on Stone Oak.
The Signalized Crosswalk at Hardy Oak Elementary made the community top five. Safety for school children is always a big concern, Ryder said. Two intersections in Stone Oak also received funding to begin redesign to improve traffic flow. “People continue to move into the area, and we all know traffic can be bad. This funding lets us get the project started to see what we can do to reduce congestion.”
The money for the projects is allocated and secured, and the District 9 staff is in the process of coordinating with the city to begin implementation, Ryder said. While the intersection improvements are design only, others, like the Monarch butterfly landscaping at McAllister Park, can start immediately.
Another item of interest, pickleball courts at the Walker Ranch Senior Center, which will be available for Stone Oak residents to enjoy. The community was excited about this, Ryder said. “Pickleball is really blowing up.”
For more information about the 2023 D9 Participatory Budget, go to D9pb.org, or contact the City Council office at 210-207-0955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrate Your Spouse this Valentine’s Day
By Amy Morgan
The most romantic day of the year is right around the corner. Why not use your Valentine’s Day celebration to jump start your commitment to your marriage?
According to social science experts, the number one predictor of people’s global happiness is the quality of their marriage. They’ve found married couples have greater health, financial stability, and personal happiness. And marriage is the best scenario in which to raise children and give them a better chance at life. Taxpayers spend at least $112 billion a year on divorce and unwed childbearing.
Doesn’t marriage deserve just as much of a positive campaign as recycling, anti-smoking, or healthy eating?
That’s why the week culminating with Valentine’s Day, Feb. 7-14, is designated National Marriage Week – to celebrate and promote marriage.
Their website, www.MarriageWeek.org, puts resources and skills in the hands of couples so that they can grow. A Couples Connection Guide is a free, downloadable booklet that provides conversation starters to help people talk about their marriage and be on the same page. Locally, many churches will piggyback on National Marriage Week to kickstart their spring marriage offerings. Nationally known author and speaker Shaunti Feldhahn will present at both First Baptist Church and Gracepoint over Valentine’s weekend, and comedian Ted Cunningham will perform a comedy date night in New Braunfels. Churches around the city will begin their new Re-Engage courses.
This year’s National Marriage Week theme is the Value of Date Nights. Researchers Bradford Wilcox at the University of Virginia and Brigham Young University’s Jeffrey Dew have found date nights for married couples improve the quality of relationships and lower divorce rates. Their research also revealed that regular date nights for married couples increase the quality of communication, romantic love and commitment in marriage. Husbands and wives who continue to date at least weekly are three times more likely to say they are “very happy” in their marriage, compared with couples who do not.
“Pinterest published their top trends for 2023, and one of their top emerging trends is creative date night ideas, which shows the level of interest,” said Carl Caton, President and Founder of the San Antonio Marriage Initiative and Managing Director of National Marriage Week USA. “An intentional date night is the simplest thing to do. It should be regular, creative, and provide a place for healthy communication.”
The week before Valentine’s Day is a great time to encourage, build hope, and reignite the priority that the marriage relationship founds the family leadership team.
“Marriage is more than a romantic notion. Marriage is the family leadership team, the central bond of every family. As goes the marriage, so goes the family. And as goes the family, so goes the community,” Carl said. Bottom line: marriage is good for people, and it’s good for America. So, celebrate your marriage – it’s good for you!
First Baby of the New Year Born at North Central Baptist Hospital
San Antonio Hospitals Donate Gifts to Welcome First Baby Born in San Antonio in 2023
While most of us were blowing horns or making a toast at 12 as the year advanced to 2023, Lauren Jacks was celebrating in a more memorable way. She ushered in the New Year with the delivery of her daughter, Avery, who arrived at two seconds past midnight at Stone Oak’s North Central Baptist Hospital. Avery was the first baby to be born in San Antonio in the New Year. Avery weighed in at seven pounds, one ounce, and was 20 and a half inches in length. Both mom and Avery are doing great and were eager to pose for pictures and welcome visitors later that afternoon.
Along with the prestige of having our city’s first baby of 2023, the family was showered with gifts donated by local organizations, delivery hospitals and healthcare systems. This is the 23rd consecutive year area hospitals have come together to welcome San Antonio’s Baby New Year by contributing a gift and working together at midnight with Labor & Delivery Unit staff across the city to determine which hospital and baby officially crosses the finish line first naturally – scheduled C-sections and inductions are not eligible for the title or goodies, which form a generous package for the fortunate Jacks family.
The New Year’s Baby gift package includes:
• A gift basket donated by Baptist Health System
• A gift basket donated by Brooke Army Medical Center
• Infant activity center donated by CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System
• Target gift card and teddy bear donated by Methodist Healthcare
• Portable crib from Texas Vista Medical Center
• Infant car seat and other safety items donated by University Health
• EvenFlo Babysuite Portable Play Yard donated by Community First Health Plans
Smart Driving Event Promotes Safety Behind the Wheel to Johnson High School Teens
By Amy Morgan
Johnson High School held is annual Safe Driving Event at lunchtime on Friday, Sept. 23, sponsored by the PTSA Smart Driving Club. The immersive experience reminds teens about the importance of making smart choices behind the wheel.
“It’s important to raise this awareness for our classmates ,as many are new drivers,” said Senior Andrew Gallegos, the club’s Public Relations Officer. “We want to do what we can to make sure everyone is safe. A good way we can do this is by having these events showing people it is not smart or safe to drive distracted.” Johnson’s Smart Driving Club began 10 years ago under the leadership of Melinda Cox, PTSA parent sponsor.
First responders from the San Antonio Police Department, the Bexar County Fire Department and other law enforcement officials and volunteers helped Johnson student see the consequences of poor driving with vivid displays and hands-on activities. Some teens navigated obstacle courses wearing goggles that mimic the effects of alcohol, others used a driving simulator. Many signed a banner pledging not to text while driving.
“Today’s event is always held before the homecoming weekend,” Melinda said. “The goal is to continue our safe driving conversation. The safety community comes to campus to work with our students to remind them to make smart choices behind the wheel and beyond. Safe driving is not just a message for one campus. It’s a community effort, and we must all work together to break the culture of distracted driving.”
According to the CDC, motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of accidental death among teenagers the U.S. – representing one-third of all deaths to teens. The Smart Driving Club at Johnson High School continues to make a positive impact on campus, across North East ISD and around San Antonio.
District 9 Opens the Walker Ranch Senior Center
By Amy Morgan
The Mayor, District 9 City Councilman John Courage and other local dignitaries officially opened the Walker Ranch Senior Center on Monday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m. Those in attendance were entertained by both a mariachi band and folkloric dancers. The facility located at 835 W. Rhapsody adjacent to Walker Ranch Park will serve mature adults in North Central San Antonio as well as provide a central location for other community events. Hours are Monday- Friday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. The 26,360- square-foot center is situated on a six-acre lot adjacent to the Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park. It includes activity space for senior specific programming, a City Council District 9 satellite office, a dining hall, exercise rooms and a computer lab. Human Services anticipates more than 300 older adults will use the center daily to participate in a noon meal, wellness, and social activities., according to the City Council website.
The city’s 2017-2022 bond program provided the $14.2 million needed to construct the center.
Other improvements at Walker Ranch Park include a permanent restroom and water fountain/bottle fill at the park.
Walker Ranch is the second senior center built from the ground up and designed specifically for the programming and functions of the Senior Services Division, according to the website. The center also features a laminated tempered glass artwork entitled “Canopy Dreams for San Antonio I and II,” by San Francisco artist Stephen Galloway, commissioned through the Department of Arts & Culture’s Public Art Division.
Free transportation service to and from the center is available for enrolled seniors enrolled who live within a five-mile radius. Call 210-207-7172 for more information concerning the menu or transportation.
Girls Drive to 2nd place at National Invitational
The Ronald Reagan High School Girls Golf Team’s State Championship win garnered them an invitation to the National High School Golf Invitational (NHSGA) at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina last month. Reagan golfers Danielle Bailey, Marissa Loya, Victoria Patterson, Camille Pazouki and Lydia Portlock represented the state of Texas with their coaches, Russell Aki and Stephen Martinez. Tournament organizers only extended an invitation to play to the top high school golfers from across the country. Head Coach Aki was thrilled about the team’s opportunity to compete on a national level.
“Coach Martinez and myself couldn’t be more proud of the team,” he said. “We didn’t know what to expect since the tournament was made up of State Champions from across the nation. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that our players and families will never forget. We have played against talented teams from across Texas, but to compete on a national stage and showcase not only our program and community, but more importantly our state, was truly amazing.”
Reagan pulled off a second-place win, finishing behind only the returning national champions, Lambert, of Georgia. Team rounds were 297, 290 and 305 — for a three-day total of 892.
“For our first two rounds we went back and forth with Lambert and traded punches for the lead, which was unexpected given their talent. They have girls that played in the U.S. Women’s Open and won the USGA Four-Ball event. Lambert also won the Georgia State Championship eight of the last nine years and were the defending National Champions,” Coach Aki said. “To see our girls compete and play with a team of their caliber showed the heart and fight of our team.
“Words can’t describe how excited and proud we are of our players. We hope to carry this momentum into another great year and another shot at the championship!” he said, in reference to their success.
The entire Rattler community is proud of the talent, teamwork, and dedication displayed by this team and congratulate them on an outstanding year.
Chosen Race Benefits Foster and Adoptive Families – Helps Children Heal
Interested in a way to use your passion for running to give back? Walkers, looking for a fitness challenge? Sign up for The Two Rivers Half Marathon & 5K– formerly known as The Chosen – The Prettiest Race in Texas. And by the race’s November date, temperatures will be cool enough to contemplate outdoor exertion.
The Chosen Half Marathon was founded in 2009 and attracted thousands of athletes. The race began in New Braunfels, Texas by Chosen’s founder and CEO, Jenni Lord, to support the needs of vulnerable children. Having a brother adopted out of foster care deeply impacted her and she wanted to help children who needed homes. The race was born and a nonprofit blossomed.
This year’s race returns with a new name and a new production company, Two Rivers Running, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. It will be held on November 20, 2022, and follows the same scenic course along River Road. Portions of the proceeds will benefit Chosen Care, Inc. as well as provide scholarships to local student-athletes.
“After the pandemic hiatus, we are delighted that Two Rivers Running has agreed to resume the operations of the race so the Chosen team can focus on our primary mission to help children heal from trauma,” said Jenni Lord, Chosen’s CEO. “We have full confidence that they will continue to provide runners with the best possible experience while raising awareness for vulnerable children and families.”
Early registration is from May 31 through September 5 for a discounted entry fee, so gather your friends and start logging those training miles. Visit https://chosen.care/the-chosen-race/ for more details.
Bank of America Announces
2022 San Antonio Student Leaders
Bank of America today announced four San Antonio high school juniors and seniors were selected a Student Leaders® (#BofAStudentLeaders), an eight-week summer internship providing students with first-hand experience in serving their communities. These students have started their paid internship experience of workforce skills, leadership, and civic engagement with local nonprofits, including Communities In Schools of San Antonio. As part of the program, they will earn $17 per hour and receive a Chromebook. This year, students will have the option to voluntarily participate in in-person activities as part of the internship.
In San Antonio, youth employment experienced the eighth-largest drop in employment in the first year of the pandemic. Without access to career skills-building opportunities like the Student Leaders program, many young people may be left behind from a fast-changing job market, leading to higher rates of youth unemployment.
“Bank of America remains committed to supporting young adults by connecting them to jobs, community engagement opportunities and leadership development,” said Ventura Perez, president, Bank of America San Antonio. “We recognize young adults are the future of San Antonio, which is why programs like Student Leaders are one way we can provide paid opportunities for students to gain job experience while developing a diverse pipeline of talent as they enter the local workforce.”
The Class of 2022 San Antonio Bank of America Student Leaders are:
Sarthak Dayal, Ronald Reagan High School (pictured here)
Francisco Felix, Somerset High School
Gabby Oglive, Theodore Roosevelt High School
Jayce Sibley, Holmes High School
These four students were selected for their leadership, background, passion and commitment to community.
Sarthak is an active member of the Red Cross, American Cancer Society, academic UIL, and is president of his school’s Computer Science Club. He volunteers with the App Dev League and is passionate about technology.
Francisco is president of the Men of Honor organization and CFO of the Somerset Community Store “The Set Apparel” and a mentor for his community Robotics team. He is a Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America Cohort 17 Scholar.
Gabby is a Parliamentarian of the Technology Student Association, member of the Science National Honors Society, National Arts Honors Society, Active Minds and the Zeta Youth Auxiliary of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated.
Jayce is a valedictorian of his graduating class and a four-year varsity basketball athlete. He is active in journalism, speech and debate, and is National Honor Society member.
Started in 2004, the Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. annually. The San Antonio-based Student Leaders are participating in programming that includes a collaborative, mentor-focused project with Communities in Schools of San Antonio. Bank of America Student Leaders will also participate in a virtual Leadership Summit, delivered in partnership with the Close Up Foundation. The Summit will include opportunities to engage with congressional leaders, hear from leaders in civil and human rights and the Stanford University Young Democracy at Home program which encourages conversation about current issues facing young people today.
Authentic Mexican Street Food in Encino Park
Looking for elevated street food featuring authentic flavors of Mexico? Drive east on Evans Road just across US Highway 281 to Panfila, located in the northeast corner of the Bulverde and Evans Roads, 22250 Bulverde Rd., suite 114. You can find Panfila’s patio by its red umbrellas and planters of flowering petunias.
Panfila, which means “loved by all,” was created by chef-couple Gaby Hinojosa and Charlie Gonzalez. The two met in 2012 while training at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City. Before opening Panifila on April 11, Gaby worked as Executive Sou Chef of Signature a La Cantera for renowned San Antonio chef Andrew Weissman and Brasserie Mon Chou Chou’s Laurent Rea.
Don’t miss Panfila’s brunch menu served all day, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday – Saturday; 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sunday, which features specialties like Churro and Waffles Other dishes include Cazuelas, Ceviche Verde, Mini Tacos, and Gaby’s signature charred Mexican street corn, a family recipe she learned as a young girl in Mexico. Keep an eye out for reviews of next door neighbor, Spice, which opened May 24.
Trilogy Burger Bistro closes after 2 years.
Stone Oak residents will notice the loss of another local restaurant that couldn’t survive COVID disruptions. Trilogy Burger Bistro, located at 20079 Stone Oak Parkway, closed for business March 4 after only two years. Despite the popularity of its gourmet burgers and support of sister restaurant Trilogy Pizza, owner John Gladders was not able to keep it running.
Happily, Trilogy Pizza Bistro is another story. The 18-year-old business remains strong with many loyal followers from Stone Oak and beyond. Enjoy its brick oven pizza and extensive wine list at 19141 Stone Oak Parkway.
Aldaco's has a sweet deal for your Easter Sunday
We’re all looking forward to gathering to celebrate Easter with friends and family this year. Cracking cascarones is just one way San Antonians add their own flair to the holiday. You can also wow your crowd with a freshly baked Tres Leches Cake.
You don’t have to search far to find an original. Blanco Aldaco, the founder of Stone Oak’s own Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine, is said to have first introduced the recipe more than 30 years ago at the restaurant’s original location downtown. While often imitated, local reviews name Aldaco’s Tres Leches their favorite. Alcado’s Easter version includes an infusion of rainbow-colored pastels into the sweet treat to offer an extra pop of color in each slice.
“Tres leches cake was first introduced to San Antonio in 1989, largely through the efforts of Blanca Aldaco. Since then, you can find it at numerous places across town, but Aldaco still serves the best to be had.” - Tanji Patton, Goodtaste with Tanji
If an entire cake is too large for your plans, Aldaco’s also sells their Pastel Tres Leches by the slice. The restaurant will donate a dollar per slice to the Texas Restaurant Association Foundation.
A limited number of the cakes are available, so order online today (Easter Pastel Tres Leches). Each 9-inch cake serves 20 and costs $39.99. Pick up pre-ordered cakes at Aldaco’s, 20079 Stone Oak Parkway on April 15 or 16 from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
P. Terry's Burger Stand opens second SA Location in Stone Oak
P. Terry’s Burger Stand, the popular Austin burger chain, has now opened a second location in San Antonio — this time, in Stone Oak. The second location officially opened Tuesday at 22607 N. US Hwy 281. “We’re thrilled to expand our presence in San Antonio,” Todd Coerver, CEO of P. Terry’s Burger Stand said. “Over the past year, the San Antonio community has welcomed us with open arms, and we look forward to growing our presence, bringing new jobs and giving back in more profound ways.” P. Terry’s is known for their burgers and fresh-cut fries, along with their milkshakes.
If you’re not a burger fan, they also offer other sandwiches such as a chicken burger and veggie burger. The restaurant is also serving up breakfast from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m., with options such as an egg burger and breakfast potatoes. P. Terry’s Stone Oak location is open seven days a week, 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. Friday through Saturday.
Credit: KSAT 12