Author Archives: Tony Vindell

Freelance journalist Tony Vindell has more than 30 years experience as a newspaper reporter. Born in Nicaragua, he studied journalism and political science at the University of Missouri-Columbia and at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. He began his career working for The Pecos Enterprise in West Texas. Vindell also worked for The Laredo News, The Brownsville Herald, Valley Morning Star, Port Isabel News Press and the Raymondville Chronicle/News. Vindell, who lives in Brownsville with his wife Sharon, enjoys hunting, fishing and traveling.

Snapper Season is On

Walker Thanen holds a whopper red snapper he caught during a four hour with Murphy Charter Services.

The 2019 red snapper season started on June 1 and will run through Aug. 1 in federal waters. Now is the time to book a trip on one of several commercial businesses operating out of South Padre Island. Known as head boats, these vessels are leaving every day for half- or full-day trips weather permitting until the end of the season. Among them are Captain Murphy’s Charter, Osprey Cruises and…

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Nonprofit Las Huellas Expands Reach

Fundraiser attendees hold a plate of shrimp during Las Huellas’ Crawfish and Shrimp Boil fundraiser. (VBR)

Restoring the wild turkey population in the Rio Grande Valley has been the chief goal of Las Huellas of South Texas, but the now decade-old nonprofit organization has become a benefactor for many others. In the 10 years since it broke away from the National Turkey Federation, Las Huellas has given out close to $800,000 to nonprofit entities needing infusions of money to implement their programs. Organization that have benefited…

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Rich Border Heritage on Display

A display of some of the merchandise available in the gift shop at the Brownsville Historical Complex on East Washington Street. (VBR)

Many historians contend that Brownsville is the second most historic city in Texas, ranking behind only San Antonio. Facts to back up that claim abound, with the Brownsville Historical Association acting as a primary resource to discover that story. With a valuable arsenal of facts, information and buildings that open doors to the past, the association offers a look back to the original city founders, battles fought in this part…

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Giving Back: A Noble Donation

Noble’s Rene Capistran and Alfredo Garcia, in light blue shirts, prepare tacos for the participants at a children’s fishing tournament in Brownsville. Texas Noble Builders also served as sponsors for the event. (VBR)

When Noble Texas Builders unveiled its new headquarters in La Feria, scores of business leaders and elected officials showed up. Many wanted to check out the remodeled building that had been empty for a number of years. There were company employees brimming with enthusiasm. They now had one of the most modern office buildings in the Rio Grande Valley. In this small city of about 7,000 people, Texas Noble Builders…

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Pursuing a Noble Profession

Texas Noble Builders is constructing the Cameron County Events Center in Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island. (VBR)

Texas Noble Builders is a company that does more than construct large scale commercial and non-commercial projects, even though that is its bread and butter. Founded four years ago by Brownsville native Rene Capistran and several partners, TNB’s community presence certainly speaks for itself. The company logo seems to be everywhere these days, from South Padre Island where it’s building the new Cameron County Events Center and two pavilions at…

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Fresh Shrimp Key to Success

Dirty Al’s restaurant business is owned and operated by the Salazar family, left to right, Cameron, Al and Ethan. (VBR)

Little did Al Salazar know that a small bait and tackle stand on South Padre Island would become a multimillion-dollar enterprise that keeps growing as time goes by. Today, the family business owns and operates seven restaurants, and is about to open an eighth eatery, Josephine. Salazar, the family patriarch who wears no fancy outfits and who often advertises himself holding a beer mug, said he opened a fishing stand…

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Upscale SPI Boutique Prospers

Barbara’s owner Remedios Villarreal takes care of work at the counter among merchandise on display. (VBR)

Some businesses come and go like the wind. Others not only survive but stay alive and prosper despite enduring one obstacle after another. Barbara, an upscale boutique on South Padre Island, falls in the latter category. The shop, owned by Remedios Villarreal, has been in business for nearly half a century and has been doing remarkably well after all those years. “I am still running Barbara,” she said. “It was…

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Feeding the Cattle Industry

A worker rakes hay into rows where it will dry for several days before it is baled. (VBR)

The Lone Star State is the nation’s number one producer of cattle, with Nebraska and Kansas following. Texas had an estimated 12.5 million heads of cattle in 2018, according to latest statistics issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And beef consumption per capita is at nearly 80 pounds in the United States. With that said, the portions of meat a person consumes at a dinner or at a restaurant…

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Company Recycles Cooking Oil

Fatty Chem plant manager Hector Martinez stand in front of a company tanker truck and next to used cooking oil collection containers. (VBR)

Some jobs are said to be as clean as a whistle while others sound as dirty as a pig sty. One successful Rio Grande Valley enterprise that some people might consider to fall in the latter category is recycling used cooking oil. A Los Fresnos-based company called Fatty Chem By-Products Inc. bills itself as a full-service recycler of fats and oils, with some of the byproducts having been used in…

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Resaca Walls Protect Property

A retaining wall under construction along a resaca in the Brownsville area. (VBR)

Although the city of San Benito bills itself as the Resaca City due to the waterway that meanders through the town, there are other parts of Cameron County that boast the historic channels cut into the landscape by the Rio Grande over the centuries, among them the Brownsville, Rancho Viejo, Los Fresnos and Bayview areas. A resaca is an old river channel created by floods that carved out the Rio…

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