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When those Texas summer temperatures start hovering over 100 degrees Fahrenheit this summer, keeping cool will be a lot easier with all of the community pools and splash pads open to kids of all ages. From north to south and east to west, there is someplace to cool off all around Bell County.

Last month Charlie Gantenbein and Wendy Randolph won the Texas Bass Couples Tournament Central Division on Lake Waco. It was their fourth tournament with this group, and their first win for the heaviest five-fish bag weighing in at 20.92 pounds.

Good news, Central Texas outdoor enthusiasts. All Bell County lakes, parks, campgrounds and picnic grounds are open for business this summer. All except for Sparta Lake Park, which remains closed indefinitely due damage sustained by the torrential rains and flooding in 2015.

Downtown Troy is about a half block long, but residents Eric and Brandi Warren are turning the street into a community gathering place with the newly re-opened Troy General Store owned by Eric’s parents Sammy and Florence Warren.

On the islands in the Visyasas region of the Philippines, people struggle every day to find enough food to sustain themselves.

Walk through the doors of the Bead Bistro in Killeen and there is a sensory overload of colors and textures.

Ask Pam Shepperd what she does at The Hub, and she’ll tell you she likes to stay behind the scenes of Temple’s newest retail establishment. She and her husband, Joe, leave the day-to-day operations to their managing partner and co-owner, Holley Gosh.

Home décor is a matter of personal choice for people who may or may not want to follow decorator trends. And different decorators and interior designers all have their own vision of what is trending and what isn’t.

Traversing the highways and back roads of Bell County, from Killeen to Morgan’s Point Resort, enclaves of subdivisions seem to appear from out of nowhere. Each curve of the road reveals an existing subdivision in progress, vacant land cleared and ready for construction, and new multifamily h…

Wayne Schirner’s backyard is already green thanks to the spring-like temperatures, winter rains and a homemade irrigation system.

While cruising on the internet looking for ideas about wedding planning in the 21st century, pages and pages of ideas using specialized apps for the bride popped up. It’s not just Pinterest and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that have a bride’s attention. There are numerous apps for cellpho…

9 to 12 months before

Twenty-first century technology has touched nearly every aspect of wedding planning, and finding the perfect flowers is no exception.

Wedding photos today are all about capturing those little moments when you think no one is watching. It could be the first romantic kiss after the first nuptial kiss, the first look, a quiet moment with mom and dad or grandparents.

WHO & WHEN: Texas Law requires couples to obtain their marriage license at least 72 hours before they are to be married. Exceptions to the 72 hours: Active military status — OR — a waiver issued by a judge.

Shellie Campos, owner of Pink Tulips Cakery has been making cakes since she was in grade school. “I started when I was a kid, just playing around,” said Campos, a Hawaiian native who moved to Texas when her Army dad was assigned to Fort Hood in 1979.

This year’s options for wedding gowns are almost unlimited. Brides can choose between traditional, fit and flair or ball gowns. There are more color options as well, with champagne and off white leading the rainbow. Yet, somehow, a bride knows when she has found the right dress.

Co-owner Peggy McClaren describes The Terrace at Salado as warm and welcoming.

A 120-year-old oak tree stands on the campus of Texas A&M University-College Station. Its majestic limbs stretch out over the sidewalk and lawn creating a canopy of history.

Matthew and Molly Mastrilli were childhood sweethearts. Growing up in Rowlett, Texas, they saw each other on Sundays at church services and at youth events.

Painted canvases hang on the wall. Easels line the table and palettes filled with a rainbow of paint colors wait for the guest artist to start dipping and creating art on a fresh canvas.

It’s quiet time in the dog kennel at Texas Humane Heroes in Killeen when suddenly, the door opens and humans walk in.

EquusLibrium founder Amber Quaranta-Leech, a licensed professional counselor certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, uses equine assisted psychotherapy to help her clients navigate through the traumas in their lives, past and present. She said working with horses he…

Walking into Rita’s Taqueria in Temple feels more like walking into your mom’s kitchen. Leomarie Elmaroudi, owner and self-appointed hostess, welcomes all who enter with a smile, and sometimes a hug.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ken Cates has been overseeing the continually expanding services offered to the community by the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity and the adjacent Habitat Restore for more than a year.

In the kitchen of Lauren Ah Sang’s home in Killeen, members of her extended family are busy making lumpia, a type of Filipino egg roll that is a coveted delicacy during the holidays or any other celebratory time of the year.

Outside the back door of the First United Methodist Church in Killeen, there is a hilly drop-off covered with brush and other Central Texas flora. Standing at the top of the hill looking down across the valley along Elms Road, a small village is visible through the brush, quiet in its absenc…

There are many holiday events happening around Central Texas, and activities can be found in each of the local communities. From Copperas Cove to Temple and all places in between, there is something for everyone to celebrate Christmas in 2016.

Imagine you are a child again in a land of winter where large, soft, one-of-a-kind snowflakes are falling from the sky, blanketing the earth. It’s Christmas Eve and your family is having a grand celebration.

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without desserts to enjoy with family and friends. This month, we’re sharing a couple of tempting treats to try during your celebrations.

The contributions of Czech immigrants are omnipresent in modern Texas. A fruit-filled pastry, the kolach, is a staple at bakeries across the state. Dancers still skip across wood floors to the fast and lively beat of a Polka band. And if you’ve ever wondered the meaning of the popular bumper…

If you happen to see skeletons in brightly colored clothing walking around the grounds of Central Texas College on Nov. 5, don’t be alarmed. These living skeletons will be celebrating life as CTC and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce bring Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to Killeen.

Captains Adrian and Karen Twinney of the Salvation Army are new to Central Texas. They moved here last month to take the reins of the new Salvation Army McLane Center for Hope and continue the commitment to help all those who walk through its doors to find food, shelter and assistance. Prior…


Go beyond basic jack-o’-lantern

Not long ago, decorating pumpkins each October meant something similar to most Americans. Families gathered around their kitchen tables, pumpkins at hand. Kids marveled at the cold, wet fibers inside the pumpkins as they scooped them out before carving a creepy face. This tradition continues today, but with a new, creative twist. Many people are now putting down their classic carving tools in lieu of supplies like glitter, paint and glue.

Intricate designs from Africa

Hair braiding isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been around for millennia, dating back as far as 5,000 years. Initially, braids carried a cultural component. In ancient times, it often identified a person’s marital status, social standing, tribe or clan. Depending on what part of the world you were from, braiding had definitive looks and designs in every region of the world.

Sally Phillips has been involved with the annual Barbells for Boobs CrossFit fundraiser in Belton for several years.


Event funds breast cancer fight

Sally Phillips and her fellow CrossFitters are warming up for Belton’s seventh annual Barbells for Boobs fundraiser Oct. 29 and 30 at Belton Christian Youth Center. Operating under the credo that “everyone has a right to know if they are living with breast cancer,” the Barbells for Boobs grant program channels funds toward providing mammograms for those patients who might otherwise miss out on breast cancer screenings: men, women under the age of 40 and the under- or uninsured. Phillips has been involved with Barbells for Boobs since nearly the beginning.

In 2009, Zionna “Z” Hanson, who owned a CrossFit affiliate in California, wanted to honor a friend, a breast cancer survivor who had been denied a mammogram before her eventual diagnosis at the age of 26.

Central Texas Barbells for Boobs

CrossFit Workout: Oct. 29, 8:30 a.m.

Olympic Weightlifting Open Meet: Oct. 29, and Sunday, Oct. 30, all day

5K: Oct. 29, 8 p.m.

Belton Christian Youth Center, 505 E. Avenue C, Belton

For more information: www.centraltexasbarbellsforboobs.com

Find your creativity

at Salado Village Artists

Five years ago, longtime Houston resident Judy Sparkman retired from her job, packed up her belongings and set out for a new life in Central Texas.

When the Vive Les Arts Societe began looking for a new leader, it seemed as though Traci Tipping had been rehearsing for the role since birth. A dancer since age 3, she had already appeared in...

Pogue Sculpture Gallery and Foundry is located seven miles east of Marble Falls at 7670 E. Farm-to-Market 1431. Admission is free. Call first: 830-693-9544. On the web: www.danpoguesculpture.com.

TSO gears up for new season

Symphony lovers in Bell County who are familiar with the artistic offerings of a big city like Dallas or Houston don’t have to travel far to enjoy the sounds of a professional orchestra.

That magical week in March students call spring break comes around once a year.

Walk through the doors of the new Ralph Wilson Youth Club and listen to the joyful sounds of kids at play. Children ages 5 to 14, all 550 of them, are scattered throughout the facility, focused on their activity of the moment.


The 5 Cs

The C5 Youth Foundation of Texas engages middle and high school students from communities that are lacking in opportunities with five years of mentoring, education and character building.

The 5Cs stand for:

  1. Character-driven
  2. Community-focused
  3. Challenge-ready
  4. College-bound
  5. Committed to a better future

For information on how to help Parrie Haynes C5, or how seventh-grade students can apply, go to www.C5texas.org, call 512-832-2565, or email fulorik@c5yf.org.



July is Parks and Recreation Month in Central Texas, and area parks and recreation have a wide selection of activities that are family friendly.



Turning a Backyard Garden into a Business

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