Author Archives: George Cox, VBR Managing Editor

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.

Manufacturer Unique in Valley

Texas Thread owner Kavanaugh Francis operates a manufacturing business that is unique in the Rio Grande Valley. (VBR)

A nondescript metal building with a faded sign along an industrial/commercial stretch of Wilson Road in Harlingen houses Texas Thread, a manufacturing enterprise that is unique in the Rio Grande Valley. “We are the only thread maker in the Valley,” owner Kavanaugh Francis said. “Actually, we are the only one west of the Mississippi because most of our competitors are in the east in states like the Carolinas. And, being…

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This Golf is High-Tech

A player at Topgolf in Pharr reacts to one of his shots. (VBR)

Topgolf is not so much about golf as it is a technology-driven entertainment experience. In fact, more than half of the people who visit Topgolf venues are non-golfers. And only eight percent classify themselves as avid players of the game. The new Topgolf in Pharr, the 50th location in the franchise, features three levels with 72 stations from which to whack balls out into a large area filled with targets.…

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Turn an Idea Into a Business

Business consultant Michael Wilson meets with a group of aspiring entrepreneurs to discuss how to develop a solid business plan. (VBR)

No matter how good the idea or how big the dream, passion and detailed planning are critical components of starting a new business. That was the message from Michael Wilson, who recently presented one in a series of Small Business Administration workshops dedicated to guiding aspiring entrepreneurs through a process of turning an idea into a viable enterprise. Wilson is chief operating officer of CM Institute of Leadership, a company…

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SBA Administrator Visits RGV

WycoTax owner Christopher Wycoco presented a bouquet of flowers to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon on her visit to Harlingen. (VBR)

Linda McMahon and her husband took a small regional business and built it into a multinational powerhouse brand known as WWE. For non-wrestling fans, that stands for World Wrestling Entertainment, a media and entertainment company primarily known for professional wrestling. Active in WWE from 1980 to 2009, serving as president and CEO, McMahon left the company to mount two unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate in her home state of…

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Farm an Organic Family Affair

Susanne and Bud Cooke discuss the raising of the canopy on a greenhouse at Acacia Farms. (VBR)

The scene was reminiscent of an old-fashioned barn raising, where friends would turn out to help a farmer build a new barn, and then celebrate the accomplishment. But on this Saturday in December, what was being raised was a new covering for a damaged greenhouse at Acacia Farms in Bayview. The greenhouse, some 30 feet by 130 feet, lost its plastic covering in a freak windstorm earlier in the year…

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All in the Family: Salsa

Rebecca Garcia with jars of Blanquita’s Salsa made using her grandmother’s recipes. (VBR)

Rebecca Garcia was born into a large extended family with roots in Monterrey, Mexico. Her grandmother bore 11 children while her grandfather started a restaurant business, serving up barbacoa and other Mexican specialties from a small trailer. The family migrated north to Nuevo Progreso and eventually to the Harlingen area, along the way building and growing a restaurant business that thrives today. Starting out in trailers much like her grandfather…

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Building a Better Burger

Owner and chef Frank Macias with the Trump’s Burger Wall, piled high with American and Mexican flavors representing the cultural mix of South Texas. (VBR)

Frank Macias at times seems a bit surprised by his success. All the while, he is confident in the skills and vision that took him down a road from food truck operator to restaurateur with a plan for the future. The owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen, Macias’s first job was flipping burgers at McDonald’s when he was 16. He bounced around from eatery to eatery until he was 22,…

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Birding by the Numbers

Two birders scan the area with binoculars at Estero Llano Grande State Park. (VBR)

Some 800 birders visited the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in November, its 25th year as one of the premier birding events in the country. With dozens of field trips to regional birding hotspots and lectures by internationally renowned birding experts, the festival’s staying power is a testament to the economic impact of ecotourism, and particularly birdwatching, in Deep South Texas. While there are no recent studies on the financial…

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Beer Center of ‘Experience’

Manager Kevin Norrell inside the glass-enclosed keg storage area at the Yard House in McAllen. (VBR)

Three thousand gallons of beer is kept at a temperature of 36-38 degrees in a glass-enclosed keg storage area that can be viewed from inside La Plaza Mall in McAllen. With some 130 beers on tap, the recently opened Yard House boasts the largest assortment of draft beer in the city. The cold beer is delivered to the establishment’s centerpiece, an island bar lined with colorful taps, through more than…

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