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Community is ‘The Point’ for the Hill Country Arts Foundation

Theaters put locals in the spotlight

Nestled on the banks of the Guadalupe River lies a treasure trove of local artistic talent. Here, the Point Theatre at the Hill Country Arts Foundation has, for over the past 60 years, been where hundreds of people have lived out their dreams of treading the boards.

The Point, as it is known to locals, occupies two performance spaces: the 500-seat Smith-Ritch Point Theatre–the oldest continuously running outdoor theater in Texas–and the Elizabeth Huth-Coates Theatre– an indoor, 100-seat, black box space. The Point operates year-round, staging a wide array of community productions — largely comedies and musicals.

“We are a true community theater, so we have nurses, teachers, lawyers,” says Sarah Derousseau, HCAF executive director. “People come for that often. They’re coming to see the people they know.”

The “community” aspect of community theater isn’t just a buzzword at The Point. It’s a commitment. There are families who have been involved in productions for generations. “We have a director of an upcoming show who was out here in her crib,” Derousseau says. “Now, she and her husband do shows together. They actually met in a show. We were doing ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ in 2011, and it was a huge hit. Apparently, that show results in a lot of marriages. There are really romantic songs!”

Derousseau is very familiar herself with the allure of The Point. She arrived as an intern in 2000 with the intention of staying only for a year. “But I actually fell in love with this place,” she says. “I love the sense of community. I’ve done educational, community, and had a taste of professional theater, and I love working with people from the community. This is where they come to have fun. This is what I see in this place — you walk in, and you feel welcome here.”


The Point’s website, hcaf.com, offers a wealth of information on everything from upcoming performances to audition dates, schedules for classes and workshops, and more.

Derousseau says a dependable broadband connection plays a vital role in keeping The Point connected, not only to its actors and crew members but also to the community as a whole. “The internet is really where most people get their information now,” Derousseau says.

“People look at Facebook for information. They look for news and for what’s coming up. So, being able to create an event and invite people and just broadcast it to as many people as possible on top of being able to boost your ad and get it to people who don’t know you exist — it’s crucial. I don’t even know how we got information out before.”


The Hill Country Arts Foundation’s 13-acre site in Ingram is also home to the Duncan-McAshan Visual Arts Center, which includes a gallery displaying the work of local artists, along with a ceramics studio and Hill Country Atelier, a mentorship program in which students hone their skills in traditional realism. The facility also houses Stonehenge II, a replica of the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, and is the home of the annual Texas Arts & Crafts Fair. For more information, visit hcaf.com or call 830-367-5121.

Put Tech Under the Tree

The latest gadgets make perfect gifts

The holidays are here again, a wonderful time of year when friends and family gather to celebrate the joy of the season, and finding the perfect gift is on everyone’s mind. As you’re thinking about what to get the special people in your life, consider some of these high-tech gadgets that are sure to please.


If you’ve searched for an activity tracker with a more classic watch design, the Withings Move may be for you. While the watch has no screen, it shows activity directly on the dial with its third hand, seamlessly tracking walking, running, sleeping, swimming and other activities. It also features a chronograph and connected GPS, so you get duration, distance, elevation and path mapped in a companion app. The Move comes in a variety of styles, has up to 18 months of battery life and is water-resistant up to about 150 feet. The watch, which is available through Amazon or at withings.com, starts at $69.


If you’re picking up a gift for an on-thego music lover who’s too cool for AirPods, these sunglasses with integrated Bose speakers may be the perfect fit. Bose Frames feature rich, immersive sound while still allowing you to be aware of your surroundings. Featuring Bluetooth connectivity, the sunglasses have a built-in microphone so you can make calls or dictate text messages to your smartphone’s digital assistant. The frames come either in a classic angular shape or a rounder look. The lenses, which are scratch- and shatter-resistant, block 99% of the sun’s harmful rays. Available at bose.com, $199.


The Switch is a great console, but Nintendo finally figured out that for many gamers, the docking station that connected the device to a TV was just gathering dust. Enter the lowerpriced Switch Lite. As a dedicated handheld, the system is smaller than the original but provides access to the same expansive game library featuring Nintendo hits, big-budget studio titles and imaginative indies. The device is great for online play, or it allows as many as eight Switch systems to connect through a local wireless network. The Switch Lite comes in three colors: yellow, gray and turquoise. Pick your favorite and start gaming. Available at major retailers, $200.


Sometimes the best way to value something is to build it yourself, so why not let kids try their hand at putting together their own computer? The Piper Computer Kit comes with everything you need to transform a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B circuit board into a working device capable of running Minecraft. The box comes with wood and acrylic pieces, a speaker, a battery, a 9-inch display and a kid-friendly mouse. Once the system is up and running, it can even teach kids coding through the included Piper Code software program. A great gift for a young computer enthusiast. Available at playpiper.com, $299.

A History of Service: Memorials Honor Heroic Legacies

The Veteran’s War Memorial in McAllen, Texas, honors veterans and teaches the history of our military.
The Veteran’s War Memorial
in McAllen, Texas, honors
veterans and teaches the
history of our military.

America’s war memorials tell the story of our country. They are places where we can reflect on those who gave their lives for freedom, not only for Americans but also for people around the world. Many of these places, such as the Veteran’s War Memorial in McAllen, Texas, also serve as outdoor classrooms of American history.

“Schools throughout the Rio Grande Valley are involved in activities here,” says Frank Thomas, a World War II veteran who also served in Korea and Vietnam.

A state the size of Texas has several such sites, but few memorialize as many wars as that in McAllen. “It tells the stories of honor, sacrifice and the courage of the approximately 1.4 million American military men and women killed in all the wars and conflicts of the USA,” Thomas says.

The idea for a memorial began in 1988 with a group of World War II veterans from around the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Every year, the still-expanding war memorial draws thousands of visitors who come to see military weddings and ceremonies like the ones on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Pearl Harbor Day.

There are dozens of statues and markers on the 5-acre property. The city donated the land, which is adjacent to the McAllen Convention Center and Performing Arts Center. To date, more than $3 million has gone into the memorial, including the latest section, which has 18 walls with 36 panels of granite. Area schoolchildren authored American history stories, which will be engraved on these walls.

“These American history stories are destined to stand far into the future, engendering patriotic feelings for our children and their children’s children to better understand Americans’ love of freedom,” Thomas says.

Among the important sites at the Veteran’s War Memorial is the American Spire of Honor, a black granite marker that stands over the property at 105 feet, honoring those who lost their lives in all the conflicts in the history of the United States. Grassy areas surround the spire, along with pathways of colored pavers. Approximately 400 granite panels in the park immortalize moments in American history, and there are bronze statues, soothing landscaping and benches for rest and meditation. The site is well lit and open 24 hours a day, allowing visitors to come at any hour free of charge.

Thomas is one of a dwindling group of World War II veterans still living, and he knows even fewer of his number will be around in the next five years. “However, the stories of the courage, sacrifice and love of freedom will stand for all time for future generations to remember the cost of freedom,” he says.

If You Go
What: Veteran’s War Memorial
Where: 3129 Galveston Ave., McAllen
When: Open 24 hours, seven days a week
Information: www.mcallen.net/veterans
or 956-631-2511

Also in Texas


The Duncanville War Memorial stands near the center of town as a memorial for fallen soldiers from the Duncanville area. The 16-foot-high statue with a bald eagle on its crown is located on a shady spot of land along Main Street. The eternal flame is next to it.


The Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial pays honor to those Texans who served the United States in the South Asian conflict.
Former President George H.W. Bush dedicated the memorial in 1989. Five tablets of Texas granite bear the names of Texans killed or missing in action, including nine Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. A soothing waterfall flows alongside the memorial, which is known simply as “The Wall.” Visitors sometimes leave wreaths, bracelets, flowers, flags and other sentimental items next to the tablet in honor of a loved one.


The Texas Panhandle War Memorial honors the men and women who served in wars from the Spanish-American War through the war in Iraq. Exhibits at the center include a piece of the USS Arizona, and a museum houses military artifacts. Upcoming events include a Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.


San Antonio’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial is in the Veterans Memorial Plaza. A dedication to those who served in Vietnam, it features a memorial with a radio operator comforting a wounded comrade while anxiously searching the sky for a medevac helicopter. The bronze sculpture stands about 10 feet tall at its highest point and is 23 feet long and 12 feet wide. With a weight of more than 10 tons, it is the largest sculpture of its kind in the country. The memorial is located in front of Municipal Auditorium. A monument to Korean War veterans stands at the opposite end of the plaza.

Celebrate Rural Health on November 21, 2019

Despite the challenges of serving rural America, health care professionals are delivering quality care, embracing technology and finding creative ways to encourage wellness among their rural patients. On Nov. 21, rural health offices will honor these providers — along with the partners and communities who support them — by sponsoring National Rural Health Day.

How can you celebrate National Rural Health Day?

Find free, downloadable resources for many of the activities below by visiting www.powerofrural.org/nrhd-tookit.


PARENTS: Prepare a healthy meal for dinner, and talk with your kids about the blessings — and the challenges — of living in rural America. Mention the health care providers who service your rural community.
PATIENTS: Write a note to your health care team, thanking them for their help and their commitment to serving a rural population.
PHYSICIANS: Display National Rural Health Day posters in your office. Provide a staff appreciation lunch. Visit www.WalkWithADoc.org and consider starting this fun, active outreach in your community.
FACEBOOK USERS: Share a story about your doctor, a nurse or other health care provider who has made a positive impact on your life.
TEACHERS: Give your students coloring book pages. Sponsor a rural health-themed poster contest. Invite physicians or nurses from local hospitals and clinics to speak to students.

BROADBAND USERS: Search for health information over your broadband connection. Ask your physician if there are telehealth resources that could help you maintain or improve your health.

SMALL BUSINESSES: Show appreciation to your local rural health professionals by providing them with discounts or special offers.

YOU!: Make healthy eating choices. Take a walk. Avoid tobacco products. Schedule an appointment to have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked.

Share your experiences across social media using the hashtags #powerofrural and #nationalruralhealthday.


heros welcome
HCTC employees saluted the fallen soldier. From left are Asia Simpson, Dave Thomas, Bill Warren, Randy Farrell, Scott Link, Randy Root, Steve Copp, Kerry Sutton and Samantha Rathke.

HCTC employees helped give a hero’s welcome to U.S. Army Cpl. Billy Joe Butler, whose remains were returned home nearly 70 years after he was taken as a prisoner of war in North Korea.

Butler, who enlisted at 19, was captured in 1950. His family was notified earlier this year that his remains had been positively identified. He was laid to rest in July near his parents in Nichols Cemetery. “Today was a special moment in Kerr County history,” says Samantha Rathke, an HCTC employee.

“It was truly humbling to see the patriotism of our employees in support of our community and our American heroes.”

Gaming Generation

Millennials — the first lifelong gamers

The U.S. launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in late 1985 helped create an entertainment revolution. The oldest millennials at the time were about 4 years old, and that generation would be the first to make gaming a common pastime.

Members of this group, also known as Generation Y, are closely tracked by experts such as The Nielsen Company to monitor entertainment and technology trends, because the habits of millennials shape those industries.

Today, millennial gamers are finding new ways to play. There are mobile games and online, community-based games. Some people compete, and others enjoy the movielike experiences of modern games. And for millennial gamers, the male-to-female ratio is roughly even.

Thanks to games that emphasize social features, about 70% of millennial gamers and the generation following, often known as Gen Z, turn to multiplayer gaming for the social component.

Also, the pastime remains a critical entertainment choice even when the competition ends. About 70% of gamers turn to YouTube or Twitch to watch online videos about gaming. On average, this form of viewing totals nearly six hours weekly. Millennial gamers are willing to pay those who create the content they enjoy, either through subscriptions or by donating directly.

A Nielsen report concluded that millennials will not quickly outgrow this form of entertainment, and they will become the first generation of lifelong gamers.