Written by Phil Cerroni
Lexington, VA - August 2012 - The following Virginia Military Institute cadets are among the 586 cadets who were recently named to the Deans' List for the second semester of academic year 2011-12. To be eligible for the Dean's List, a cadet must have a term grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and no grade below C.
Peyton G. Dekker Jr. - A senior from Plano, TX is majoring in History. Cadet Dekker's parents are Mr. & Mrs. Peyton G. Dekker Sr..
Logan G. Ridge - A junior from Frisco, TX is majoring in International Studies. Cadet Ridge's parents are Mr. & Mrs. Steve J. Ridge.
Juan E. Thrasher - A recent graduate from Carrollton, TX who majored in Psychology. Cadet Thrasher's parents are Mr. & Mrs. Gregory D. Thrasher Sr..
VMI, with an enrollment of 1,600 cadets, is the nation's oldest state-supported military college. U.S. News and World Report has ranked it among the top three public-supported liberal arts colleges in the nation.
Hometown News from the Virginia Military Institute
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 15:19
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
For Irving resident Blanca Alarcon and her youngsters, it was all about the orange shaved ice. Seated alongside the access way to the new Las Colinas Urban Center Station of DART’s Orange Line, they were among thousands of visitors on hand as DART celebrated the opening of three new light rail stations in Irving. The “Super Saturday” event took place July 28, with regular service underway July 30 at stations serving Dallas University, the Urban Center and the Irving Convention Center.
”There’s a long line for the concessions,” said Blanca, spooning up the cold, sweet treat, “but they’re working pretty fast. We didn’t have to wait too long.”
That’s an important consideration on a blistering hot afternoon with temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees. DART and police officials were busy directing foot traffic and making sure no one overdid it in the heat.
Frank Santoni took shelter near one of the oversized orange ribbons striping the area, hoping that he and his three sons had snagged great seats for the parade. Noah, 12, Alex, 9 and Luke, 6 were in town from Richardson, and they’d ridden the Orange Line to get to Irving.
“We heard about the festivities,” said Frank, “and we thought we’d partake.
“We like to go to the University of Dallas for functions, and I think we’ll definitely take the Orange Line to get there.”
And that’s the point, according to civic leader Roland Medina who could be found escaping the heat aboard one of the air conditioned rail cars that traveled back and forth from the Urban Center Station to the Convention Center Station.
“By the end of this year we’ll be seeing the opening of the Belt Line Station, and by the end of 2014, it’ll go all the way to DFW Airport,” Medina said. “You can get a train here and transfer so you get all the way to Plano. Or go to the Bachman Station, get a transfer to the Green Line and eat at Babe’s, or head to the Dallas Arts District and back.
“It’s going to have a very big economic impact. This will bring a lot more business to the area.”
It was a view echoed by Chris Wallace, President of the Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce who surveyed the scene back at the Urban Center Station.
“The City of Irving and the Chamber have been working on this for many, many years and it’s great to see it coming together,” said Wallace. “It’s just the beginning. As more and more developers come into the area to take advantage of the Orange Line, they’ll bring in more retail, more high-end, multi-family condominium projects, single-family homes and office complexes.”
The wail of electric guitars punctuated the afternoon as bands signaled the start of the street fair – and finally that parade, complete with sirens and waving dignitaries.
“My team at the Chamber also helped DART with organizing the parade; logistics for the properties and so forth,” Wallace added.
Wallace said there was one more element that he found particularly intriguing: the inclusion of art to augment each station’s identity.
“There are artist panels at each station,” he said. “Each was designed to be unique to that area.
“Faculty and students at the University of Dallas were involved in planning that panel, for example.
“When we open the Carpenter Station, a deferred station that won’t open until we get more development along there, it will depict some of the history of the Carpenter family and their ranch that we now know as Las Colinas.
“We’re planning to exhibit those pieces at the Chamber, at City Hall and at the Convention Center.”
There’s no doubt the stations are aesthetically appealing, but in some respects that may actually be a hindrance to safety, according to Mark Ball, media spokesman for DART.
“This [Urban Center] Station is unique because it blends in with the neighborhood,” he explained. “It’s absolutely gorgeous. This is a pavement that matches the color everywhere else in the area.
“But that could be misleading to some people because it’s a flat surface. Up until the opening of this station, it’s been a magnet for people to go jogging, walking or riding their bicycles along here.
“Now that trains are going to be using this area every twenty minutes, it’s become a concern.
“People with their headphones on, or not paying attention could be at risk. These are not loud trains; these are very quiet vehicles. If you don’t pay attention, you could walk right into the path of one.
“We actually had an education campaign for all the area schools, in both Spanish and English, and we have knocked on the door of every building up and down this street. We’ve handed out fliers and put up signs, and tried to communicate the seriousness of this safety issue.”
Cautionary messages aside, though, for most customers the Orange Line will serve as an open door to excitement in Irving.
For Evan and Rachel Stout, it’s become a new tradition, thanks to their mother, Susan.
“We rode the Green Line on its grand opening, so we thought we’d come down here from Carrollton to check out the Orange Line too,” said Susan. As her children traced their route on the map posted inside the train’s pristine interior, she added, “We’re making a day of it. And if we can watch the parade from inside the car here, where it’s air conditioned – that’d be just great.”
Then there’s the perspective of Blanca Alarcon, balancing her orange shaved ice in the midst of the crowd.
“We’ll use it for fun,” she said. “Wherever it will take me, and then back home.”
Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2012 16:17
Written by Phil Cerroni
The opening of the Orange Line in Irving isn't the only major change coming to Dallas Area Rapid Transit on July 30. In addition to numerous bus and rail changes, three stations will be renamed and a new Park & Ride lot opens in Northwest Plano.
Twelve bus routes will begin supporting the new Orange Line, most serving the Las Colinas Urban Center Station on Lake Carolyn Parkway. The North Irving Transit Center will no longer be used for bus connections, but remains as a parking facility near the Irving Convention Center Station. Routes 305 and 306 will be modified to serve the new University of Dallas Station as well as the campus to safely transport riders across Highway 114.
DART also introduces a new weekday circulator bus service linking major points of interest near the Las Colinas Urban Center. Route 503 will operate in a counterclockwise loop, beginning at Las Colinas Urban Center Station, traveling north on Lake Carolyn Parkway, stopping at the entrance of Irving Convention Center, and then continuing back to Urban Center Station. Service will operate every 15 minutes during the morning and afternoon rush hours, and every 40 minutes at midday.
Rail stations rebranded to reflect nearby districts
Rail stations near the Dallas Arts District, Uptown Dallas and Irving's historic downtown Heritage Crossing will take the names of their adjacent destinations during the July 30 service change. This is the first station renaming since rail service began in 1996. Pearl Station becomes Pearl/Arts District Station; Cityplace Station changes to Cityplace/Uptown Station; and the TRE's South Irving Station becomes the Downtown Irving/Heritage Crossing Station.
Location-specific station names make it easier for riders to navigate DART. And strengthening the relationship between the DART stop and the destination increases the appeal of the community to developers.
Northwest Plano Park & Ride opens
Also on July 30, DART opens the new Northwest Plano Park & Ride, located on Communications Parkway, just west of the North Dallas Tollway between Spring Creek and Tennyson parkways. Seven routes will serve the facility, including a new express, rush-hour service to downtown Dallas. Commuters from West Plano, as well as points north, will enjoy an efficient commute downtown, while reverse commuters, from the southern parts of the DART Service Area, gain a direct link north to this vibrant employment center. Fair Share Parking, DART's paid parking program, will be in operation with spaces for 564 vehicles.
Additional details can be found in the service change brochures available on DART vehicles, inside transit centers, by visiting www.DART.org, or by calling 214-979-1111.
Source: Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2012 15:12
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The Elan International Music Festival set its sights on Irving this year, hosting its seventh annual series of classes and concerts at the University of Dallas July 16-28. Since the program’s instigation by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Gary Levinson, pre-teens, teens and young adults have come from 22 countries ranging from the jungles of South America to the Steppes of Eastern Russia to participate in the two-week program.
Christopher Ryan, an administrator with the festival, was very excited about the benefits of the festival’s ongoing relationship with the Metroplex
“Irving is not only relatively central to Dallas-Fort Worth, but the University of Dallas is an international school. It has stepped up time and time again – this year with the dormitories, the practice rooms, recital halls, and the auditorium we’re in right now. They’ve come back and said, ‘We want to make this the home for the Elan International Music Festival, and they’ve worked with us.’”
Elan has decided to show its gratitude to the university by extending its high quality instruction in classical music to the community. The University will benefit beyond the international exposure the festival will bring them.
“We’re going to try to help the University of Dallas build out its music department bringing in some world-class visiting faculty during the course of the two weeks that we’re having the festival.”
One question that could be raised, however, is why the festival chooses to reside in Dallas. Although Levinson is connected with the DSO, cities like Chicago and New York also offer a significant cultural reputation.
“DFW is proximate to the entire United States,” Ryan said. “So if you’re coming from California or New York or Omaha, NE, it’s pretty easy to get here in a few hour flight. DFW also provides a great international port for us to bring kids in from Mexico, Russia and all over the world. The cost of living here is so wonderfully low, and the support we get form organizations like the University of Dallas and Piano Gallery enable us to put on the festival here.”
Hair wild like Bach and a handkerchief folded to a little point in his breast pocket, Anatoly Zatin, guest conductor and instructor, flipped through the score as the musicians tuned up, the colorful menagerie of sound filling the room coming from the forty piece orchestra that was crammed into the tiny auditorium. The orchestra’s size was no less impressive than the music it created, music that bellowed and rushed at the audience before being sucked back into the musicians’ instruments in hushed preparation for the next soaring measure.
The notes of W. Osborne’s Fagot Rhapsody for Bassoon floated like leaves down a river in the sultry heat of summer out of Eric Lopez’s instrument.
“You’re fifty yards away from them,” Ryan said. “If you saw Eric Lopez – he had a full-blown sweat going on. He was getting a real big exercise; his lungs were pumping just to get the piece out. When you’re that close to him you can see that, you can see the humanity and the effort and the exercise and the pain and the gift of what he’s giving. And it creates almost a three dimensional experience beyond just the musical performance itself.”
Zatin, who is also chairman of the music department at the University of Colima, elaborated on some of the reasons the festival is such an amazing opportunity for Mexican students who made their first trip to the festival this year.
“It’s incredible. I can never do this in Mexico because the students in Mexico always want to be paid,” Zatin said. “But coming to study one week in Dallas is a different matter. Dallas is in the US, and it’s something different. It’s psychology.”
Ryan was adamant about the significance of what the festival is doing.
“We are trying to create a world-class festival,” he said. “We bring in the best talent, not only of the students, but the best talent in terms of the instructors.”
Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2012 15:20
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
Irving is in the middle of an ongoing effort to make itself a seedbed of cultural exchange. Part of this push was the 2nd Annual Sounds of Mexico Concert held July 27 at the Irving Arts Center. The concert, intended to share the music of significant Mexican songwriters, focuses on a small, relatively unknown genre that, although it has fallen off somewhat in Mexico, is deeply rooted in its heritage – the tenor.
“Mexico is full of tenors, it’s not as popular, because it’s easier to hear something that’s on the radio. A lot of people don’t tend to lean toward that unless they were educated different,” said Alma Gonzalez, the concert’s mistress of ceremonies. “It’s amazing to know that, right now, one of our best tenors is not Mexican but Peruvian – Latin American. There’s so much talent; it’s not popular because of the educational and the social level. The society is more on the poverty side, so they hear what is popular on the radio instead of going to the opera or going to the theatre. Unfortunately that’s how it works.”
Although Sister Cities and the Hispanic Chamber were instrumental in making the concert happen, the Sounds of Mexico are not solely supported by cultural activists. The event also drew people looking for real, artistic entertainment. One such patron is Deo Lopez who is more than happy to make the trek to Irving in order to take in some high quality music.
“I like cultural events because they always have a meaning,” Lopez said. “Instead of going to watch the hottest summer movie, you come to the theatre, and you watch something you take home; you think about it. You can appreciate the artwork from another artist.”
Gloria Prieto also supports the arts around the Metroplex.
“I love coming to these places because you can feel the artist, you can feel theatre, the culture and this is what we need to do if we want to keep up with life and society,” she said.
Regardless of the reasons for attending, the audience was not let down by the performance.
The first of the two tenors, Javier Aguilar had a clean, bright voice that boomed and washed over the audience as he sang songs in his native Spanish from the glory days of Mexican composition.
Aguilar was followed by Juan Miguel Lopez, who felt like he belonged in a classy lounge act instead of a big stage. Even when his voice would swell to impressive volumes, he still made it seem as if he was singing to each and every one of the audience members individually.
Born in Leon, Mexico Lopez has been an Irving resident for ten years and appreciates any opportunity he has to sing the music he loves, especially since there have been few opportunities to perform since he left Mexico.
“This is a great opportunity for contribution for my culture and my new culture,” Lopez said. “I was a professional opera and zarzuela singer in Mexico for 20 years. Here in the Untied States, I have not been able to perform because I have had to focus on the administration of my company, but one opportunity once a year is one opportunity for one performance.
“The concert is for more activity between the Mexican culture and the United States culture.”
Besides the two tenors, two piano students from the Elan International Music Festival were invited to play, and the second half was opened by a mariachi band. It had an energy and edgy quality to it common in punk and fringe rock bands.
The concert had a strong turnout, and Gonzalez hopes that it will become a staple of Irving’s growing cultural scene.
“They say after you have something done for the third time it becomes a tradition. So I definitely want a tradition to come out of this, and maybe we can cater to all the states of Mexico. The outcome would be for people to continue to support the belief in our local talent, and if you are a talent you need to come forward and say, ‘Hey I want to participate and be part of the opera, the tenor environment,’” Gonzalez said.
The crowd’s reception of the music strongly supports this possibility. They whistled and cheered for the group providing a real community feeling. In fact, the whole event felt almost like a jam session among friends despite the fact that not everyone in the audience understood Spanish. It was an evening of togetherness and music and will hopefully become an Irving tradition.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2012 15:11