The Pleasanton Civic Center, decorated in red, white and blue set the backdrop for honoring Pleasanton’s finest at the 64th annual Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce awards banquet held last Thursday, March 5
After a dinner of roast beef and chicken breast catered by Kadobe’s, Pleasanton Mayor Clint Powell caught up the crowd with the progress thus far in Pleasanton. Armed with a Power Point presentation, Powell was able to show how much the city has done to keep up with the rapid growth since the Eagle Ford Shale activity.
Nine awards were given to ten deserving people.
The winners and their nomination biographies follow.
Woman of the Year Mary Rodriguez
Mary Rodriguez was born in Pleasanton and has lived her whole life here, she raised her children here, watched her children and grandchildren, and now great grandchild grow up here. She exemplifies the standard for this award by her every day involvement in the life and growth of this community. She attends church at Cowboy Fellowship. She is owner and operator of Café Chris Restaurant, well-known gathering place to eat and visit. The restaurant opened November 4, 1992, in a building that housed a butane/ propane business and was turned into dining rooms of train decorated dining areas. Her husband Albert had worked for the railroad for years and this was part of their collection. With much thought she decided to move the café into a new building located in the same area.
Last year her granddaughter began working with her at Café Chris, to continue this family involved tradition. She has been involved in Pleasanton’s everyday activity for a lifetime, appreciating the small town way of business. She supports and works with all schools, churches and every organization, whenever she is needed, not only in Pleasanton but surrounding areas.
Anytime you ask her for help or support you are going to get a yes along with a hug and smile. Her community involvement is a natural part of her personality. Some people, who eat at Café Chris every day, do this because of the caring attitude that she and her staff show them, she has displayed the same serving attitude for her community since the day she first began work- ing in Pleasanton.
Man of the Year Chris Morlock
Our man of the year was born in November 1969 in Gardener MA. He grew up in Leominster, MA and graduated from Leominster High School in 1987. After graduation he enlisted in the United States Air Force and became an aircraft mechanic.
He was stationed at Dyess Air Force base in Abilene, TX where he met and married his wife of 26 years, Sarah Morlock. In 1989 he was stationed at RAF Mildenhall in England, where they had two of their three children, Emilie 24, Michael 22 and Ryan 20. In 1992 he was moved back to the States to his final duty station at Kelly Air Force Base where he was honorably discharged in 1995. He started working at Pursch Motors, Inc. in 1994 to present. He worked his way up from service tech to owner/dealer principle. He was also blessed with the birth of his grandson Blake in 2010.
He is a member of the Pleasanton Church of Christ where he taught the high school class for a number of years. He was also very active in his kid’s lives coaching Little League, soccer and wrestling.
He has always been a big supporter of various noteworthy organizations such as the Atascosa County and McMullen County Jr. Livestock shows, CASA, Our Lady Of Grace Academy, Saint Andrews Catholic Church, Quail Unlimited, Cowboy Homecoming, The Lions Club, CCA and different activities in our local schools. He also started a scholarship program through The Battle of Cattle.
Senior Citizen Woman of the Year Dot Vrana
Dot Vrana was born June 17, 1937 in Mission, Texas to Harmon and Leola Stoops. She was the oldest of three children. She graduated from McAllen High School in 1955. Immediately after high school the family relocated from The Valley to Kingsville, which was the only way they could afford to send her to Texas A&I where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1958 and her Master of Education in 1976 also from Texas A&I.
She married Charles Weaver in August 1958 in Long Branch, New Jersey. While living the Army life they had two daughters, Teri Lynn Weaver, born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania in October 1959 and Cheryl Anne Weaver, born at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey in October 1963. When Teri was one year old, Charlie received order for a tour of duty in Korea. The family moved back to Kingsville so Dot and Teri could live with Dot’s parents while Charlie was overseas. Dot’s mother kept Teri when Dot taught second grade in Kingsville.
When Charlie returned home from Korea it was back to Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey and they added Cheryl to the family. When Cheryl was just six weeks old, Charlie was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Nine months later Charlie received orders for a three year tour in Paris, France. The next three years they spent traveling in Europe as often as Charlie could get leave. Being a History major in college, Charlie was in “Seventh Heaven.”
After returning from a three year tour in Paris, France, the family moved to Corpus Christi to be near family while Charlie went to Viet Nam. He left Texas August of 1967 and was killed three months later in November 1967 when a helicopter he was in caught fire and crashed. She was 30 years old, and was teaching 6th grade Reading in Calallen, Teri had just turned 8 and Cheryl had just turned 4.
Three years later she married Donald Vrana and moved the family to Jourdanton at the end of that school year. Donald had four children, Donnie Vrana, Debbie Mc- Cullough, Lisa Phelan and David Vrana. Donald died of cancer in 1988, and Dot found herself a widow once again.
Her teaching career spans from 1958-1978 where she taught (1st, 2nd, 6th grade reading, and Special Ed). In 1977 she took a position as an Educational Diagnostician for Harlandale Cluster 4, and then in 1978 helped start the Atascosa McMullen Co-op in Pleasanton as an Educational Diagnostician and later became the Special Ed Director. She retired after 43 years in education in May 2005.
Both of her daughters are in the education field. Pleasanton ISD employs Teri and her husband, Mike Wood, and Cheryl and her husband Danny Shutt live in Midland where Cheryl works for Midland ISD.
She is the grandmother of three grandsons Kyle Shutt, Zachary Wood, Cameron Wood and 10 step grandchildren Stephanie Moore, Quincy McCullough, Kaitlyn McCullough, Jamie Mc- Cullough, Rae McCullough, Michelle Meneley, Zachary Meneley, Kramer Meneley and Angela Vrana and ten great grand kids on the Vrana side.
She is an active member of St. John Lutheran Church in Jourdanton, Atascosa McMullen Retired School Personnel, Red Hats, and is an ambassador for STRMC Senior Circle. She is a member of the Pleasanton ISD Education Foundation and serves as Vice- President of Programs (Student scholarships and Teacher grants). She enjoys a bridge club and a local birthday club. She has organized the last nine family reunions in Wimberley and her 40th and 50th McAllen High School reunions. She says her age of 77 doesn’t bother her, but the fact that in May she will have been out of high school 60 years “Makes her feel old.”
She has loved living in Atascosa County for the last 44 years, first in Jourdanton and now in Pleasanton. Friends made in a small community are friends for life. There is nothing like a small town to raise your family. She loves seeing all the graduates of Atascosa county move back when they start raising their own families.
Senior Citizen Man of the Year John B. Staha
Our Senior Citizen Man of the Year was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas where he enjoyed a career in management with The Kroger Company and Eckerd Drug Stores. He and his wife have lived in Pleasanton since 1990.
He has been a member of the Lions Club for over twenty years, and currently serves as the Club’s tamer. He has held various positions over the years, including President of the Floresville Lions Club. He was selected several times as the Pleasanton Lions Club “Lion of the Year” and is a “Jack Wiech Fellow”. His involvement includes assistance in various fund raising and civic activities the Pleasanton Lions Club provides.
Not only is this man active with the Lions Club, but he also serves as an advisor for the Pleasanton Leo Club. The role of the Leo Club advisor includes motivator, educator, counselor and role model. The Leo Club is involved in the Adopt a Highway Program collecting litter and beautifying our roadsides. The Leo Club sends a group once a year to Kerrville to join other Lions and Leo Clubs in getting the Texas Lions Camp ready for a new season of campers. The Leo Club members also volunteer their time at nursing homes and assist the Pleasanton Lions Club with various civic activities throughout the year.
Our Senior Citizen Man of the Year is the facilitator of the San Antonio Alamo Chapter Us Too Prostate Cancer Support Group. Us Too is a nonprofit organization which serves as a resource of volunteers with peer-to-peer support and educational materials to help men and their families and caregivers make informed decisions about prostate cancer detection, treatment options and related side effects. Additionally, he is a member of SUNA – Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates. You will find this man assisting in organizing and participating in numerous area health fairs, providing men PSA screenings and information regarding prostate cancer.
Additionally, he has also held the position of President of the Atascosa County Crime Stoppers for many years. He has attended various Training Conferences throughout Texas. He has served as past President of the Floresville Peanut Festival’s Court of Our Majestic Future; President of the Wilson County Historical Society; past President of the Wilson County Crime Stoppers; and Chairman for the Wilson County March of Dimes. He has been an active participant in Volksmarches, Floresville Heritage Days and Texas Through Time.
And when he is not busy with his volunteer activities, he enjoys woodworking, cooking, and fishing and spending time with his family – his wife, Charlene; his daughter Daphne and son-in-law Joe Crouch; and his two granddaughters Coral and Katy Crouch.
Teacher of the Year Blasa Chapa
Blasa Chapa earned her Associate Degree from Southwest Texas Jr. College in Uvalde, Texas, Bachelor of Science Degree from Sul Ross State University and her Masters Degree and Educational Administration Certificate from Texas A & M Kingsville.
She has been a teacher for over 30 years, teaching numerous grade levels and subject areas, both in elementary and high school. The last four years, she has taught 2nd Grade and a Spanish elective class (to all age levels) at Our Lady of Grace Academy.
Even after 30 years “on the job”, Blasa continues to work with enthusiasm and dedication to her profession and her students. Her sister says “Blasa has always been in school”.
Blasa was elected and has served as a member of the Pleasanton I.S.D. School Board since 2006. She is an active member of St. Andrews Catholic Church in Pleasanton.
She volunteers and supports all activities sponsored by Our Lady of Grace Academy, Pleasanton I.S.D., St. Andrews Catholic Church and other community organizations, whenever and wherever she is needed.
Blasa has been a member of Beta Sigma Phi sorority for 25 years. She has been chapter president, held other chapter offices, committee chairmanships and has been sorority Woman of the Year, all while maintaining a full time job.
Blasa balances teaching with her other important roles in life, as a daughter (caregiver), wife, mother and grandmother. She is married to Art Chapa, lives in Pleasanton, Texas, and has 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
Besides volunteering their time, Blasa and Art Chapa have donated many of Art’s beautiful handcrafted mesquite wood items for school and church fundraisers.
Couple of the Year Mark and Carla Olle
The 2014 couple of the year are both graduates from Pleasanton High School. They have been happily married for 30 years, and have raised four beautiful girls that are graduates of Pleasanton High School. They are also very proud grandparents.
She worked as a paralegal in San Antonio for over 18 years and for the past 9 years has served as the administrative secretary for the Pleasanton Athletic Director. She is the epitome of a soccer mom. Between driving all of her girls to soccer, volleyball, softball, track, cheerleading, dance, 4-H, FFA and an abundance of other activities that they could participate in, she still had time to volunteer wherever she could.
While raising their children she volunteered her time as a Sunday school teacher at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, and she became a mentor for squires within the Knights of Columbus.
They both are always volunteering their time to help where they can. During various sport seasons you will see both of them working in the concession stand and cooking food. Many of you may remember the infamous “ burgers” at the tri-city soccer games that were sold out of a DIY concession stand trailer, made by him, many years ago.
As sales representative for nutritional dog food company, He is not only considered a businessman, but a family man. He has supported his girls through all that they are involved in and has been the reason that many of their show animals have survived as well as the reason a few have died. As an active member of St. Andrews Catholic Church since the early 1980’s; He leads the church guitar choir every Sunday morning. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and continuously partakes in the Men’s Acts Retreat each year. He is always there when you need him…and sometimes when you don’t.
They are also the proud parents of the 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2014 Cowboy Homecoming Queens.
He is a very active member of numerous high school booster clubs to help raise funds for the designated athletic teams.
He continues to live out his passion of music by volunteering his time playing at funerals, weddings, and other functions within the town. He is known to always lend a hand whenever it is needed.
For over 18 years he has been a part of the Atascosa County Livestock Show helping to set up the run of show, and always lending a hand where needed. His support of his girls’ love for animals has involved him in county and major shows since 1994 showing various animals including rabbits, turkeys, pigs, lambs and steers.
Young Citizen of the Year Brian Anderson
Our Young Citizen of the year graduated from Pleasanton High School and Tarleton State University where he received a degree in Industrial Technology.
PHS also fostered his first interest in woodworking when he built a pedestal table in woodworking shop. Today music and woodworking continue. He plays with a band and provides music all around the county. He and his band provided music at the Grand Opening of the Pleasanton Civic Center and Library. He often plays for no charge for charitable efforts. In addition, he hand built the beautiful Mesquite table, console and mirror that occupy the foyer of the Civic Center. While the pieces were commissioned by The Woman’s Club of Pleasanton, he was most generous with his charge for the beautiful work he put into the pieces going far and above the cost. The Woman’s Club was very pleased with the pieces and they will be there for many, many years to come. He stays busy with his woodworking building custom furniture for various businesses, oil companies and individuals.
He and his wife are both very involved with the music and ministry at Cowboy Fellowship Church in Atascosa County where he often leads the music and plays various instruments. He has also begun a ministry for men that meets on Tuesday evenings around the campfire for a simple meal and sharing.
He is married to Lacey Frieda Anderson and they have two boys, Levi and Benjamin.
Teenager of the Year Jace Llamas
Our teenager of the year as a young child, was always inquisitive, observant, and witty, but didn’t talk much. His Kindergarten teacher quickly realized he was a special child and she nominated him for Gifted and Talented. Twelve years later he has been the top ranking boy in his class for all 4 years at Pleasanton High School and can speak strongly in front of crowds of over 3,000 people.
He is the State Sergeantat Arms for Business Professionals of America, the Chapter President of Business Professionals of America at Pleasanton High School, the Vice President of the Pleasanton Leo’s Club, the Treasurer of the National Honor Society and Team Captain of the Pleasanton Varsity Basketball team.
He has been a member of Business Professionals of America (BPA) for all four years in High School and he is the current President. He was a State Qualifier for the Economics Research Development Team his Freshman Year, Business Management Team his junior year, and Presentation Management Individual his junior year, he also has qualified for the Economics Research Development Team and Digital Media Presentation Individual for his senior year.
He has been a member of Agricultural FFA and competed on the Agriculture Issues Team where he was an Area Qualifier both his junior and senior year.
He is an art student who entered his work in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) where he was an Art Competition Qualifier as a freshman and sophomore and received 1st place as a junior.
He was a Team Captain of the Pleasanton High School basketball team his freshman, sophomore and Senior year. He was awarded Most Dedicated player his junior year.
Pleasanton High School has named him Student of the Month his freshman and sophomore year. He was awarded the Superintendent Award his freshman, sophomore and junior year. He received the Citizenship Award his freshman year. He was elected Homecoming Representative his freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year. He received the Pleasanton Leo’s Club Service Award his junior year. He was selected to attend the Ryan Guillen Texas State Student Legislative Session in November 2013 where his team was one of only three that had their bill passed through the House. He was selected to attend the McCombs Future Executive Academy at the University of Texas in the summer of 2014. He also served as the Business Professionals of America Ambassador at the State Teacher Conference over the summer of July 2014.
He sees the value of giving back and became very involved in volunteering through the local chapter of BPA and the Pleasanton Leo’s Club. He has been very involved in raising money for the BPA Relay for Life Team all four years of high school. He has extensive hours of volunteer time with the Pleasanton Leo’s Club doing trash pick-up, serving food at the nursing homes, and helping with setup and cleanup at various church and school activities. As State Officer of BPA, he has spent numerous volunteer hours planning and preparing to host the upcoming State Convention in Dallas on March 4-7, 2015.
As a member of the National Honor Society, he actively participated in hosting the Blood Drive for the South Texas Blood Bank.
He worked as a Customer Service Assistant at HEB for the summer. He was responsible for assisting customers with their groceries.
Throughout his school years, he always excelled in all of his classes. He has done well to prepare for college in taking 21 hours of dual credit courses while maintaining a 104.3 GPA. He is ranked 2 of 227 in his class, and has been the top ranking boy since his freshman year. His courteous and helpful attitude made him an asset to have in the classroom and as a teammate. His main focus has always been to do the best in everything he attempts so that he can reach his goal of attending college. He will be attending the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business in the fall.
Business Person of the Year Mark Tullos
Mark Tullos is quite the avid hunter and fisherman. If the tables were turned and he was the target of a hunter or fisherman, this is what one would need to know in order to bag him!
The elusive character, Mark Tullos.
If one were to go on safari in an attempt to bag a Mark Tullos; one would need to know that the best bait is Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout popcorn. This mysterious creature can be drawn out from any den, pond or cave with a trail of either delicacy. Knowing this about your target is invaluable. You see, the Mark Tullos is quite a hidden creature. Those that have encountered him personally know of him and his characteristics, but he refrains from being his enigmatic self unless the company of those that know him well.
In 1999 there was a sighting of the Mark Tullos at a children’s home dinner he helps host every year. He was tackled and implanted with a tracking device, a cell phone. Finding him from this point has been much easier. Now the church secretary can call him any time and let him know someone needs a bed, some food, a ride somewhere and he immediately responds. He takes care of the issue and then vanishes. His wife uses his tracking device quite frequently to remind him he gets to teach the 2-year-old class every Sunday, even when she is not there. If you really want to capture a Mark Tullos, this is a very good place to look, he does seem to blend in with the youngsters as they play and learn.
The Mark Tullos has eluded capture due to his ability to focus on things other than himself. He is always aware of his surroundings. By this we mean that he will spend countless hours serving in his favorite way as a deacon in the Pleasanton Church of Christ. He has helped by serving on the building committee that develops the plans for church facilities and helps them see to fruition. He is in charge of the finances of the church, which involves accounting for and communicating budget issues with the church.
If you lay that trail of Boy Scout popcorn, it shouldn’t be the fancy flavored kind, just the simple plain – salt and butter flavor, that’s his favorite. This flavor will represent the creature you are attempting to catch. He is a simple man – seasoned just right. Mark Tullos is the worth the wait to catch for he never turns down a youngster selling cupcakes or a FFA student selling a steer. He donates countless dollars that continually enable young people to be successful. He invests his time as well as his money in not only his own children – making sure they are educated, allowing the oldest offspring to go to his rival school – Texas A&M – as well as well rounded – encouraging her to find her calling through disaster relief expedition to third world countries. This creature has been seen in more concession stands, barbeque fundraiser, golf tournaments and benefit dinners doing manual labor and courtesy calls than any other creature of his kind.