Category Archives: Community Heroes

DART Honors Police Officers at 5th Anniversary Memorial Service

On Wednesday, July 7, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Police department held a memorial service honoring the sacrifice of the police officers from both the Dallas and DART police departments following a protest march in Dallas on July 7, 2016.

Dallas Police Sergeant Michael Smith, Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Officer Patricio Zamarripa, and DART Police Officer Brent Thompson sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of others.

DART Police Officer Thompson, 43, became the first DART police officer killed in the line of duty when he gave his life, saving the lives of countless civilians and fellow officers.

[Editor’s Note: I attended the Thompson funeral. He was gone too soon. May they all Rest in Peace in the presence of St. Michael.]

Jakes Burgers and Beer focuses on community in Grapevine

By Ian Pribanic

From left: Jakes Burgers and Beer team members include Luis Gonzales, Laura Hill, Mike Akers, Kendra Shier, Jenny Donovan, owner Diane Garvey, Jill Price and owner Greg Garvey. (Courtesy Jakes Burgers and Beer)

From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last March, family-owned Jakes Burgers and Beer in Grapevine has worked to set a standard for sanitation and to make guests feel comfortable, said Kendra Shier, vice president of operations for seven Jakes locations across Dallas-Fort Worth.

Jakes Burgers continues to do more than is necessary to keep diners safe, Shier said, with regular cleanings every two hours, a face mask requirement for employees and employee health checks.

The Grapevine Main Street location, which has been open since 2012, has also found ways to stay engaged with the community, she said.

“We really [focused] on taking extra care of our guests to make sure we were there to add a little brightness,” Shier said. “We’re a family-owned business. These are our friends, and this is our home.”

In facing numerous obstacles, including a disruption to the restaurant industry’s supply chain, it was teamwork that has helped Jakes Burgers and Beer weather the pandemic and the recent winter storms, Shier said.

Read more from Community Impact…

Local eatery gives food away…all the time

InFrettaStorefront-editItalian restaurant InFretta in Irving held their first drive-thru food giveaway at that location on April 18 in their parking lot. The original location in Plano, which has been open for a year-and-a-half, has been doing the food giveaway every week for weeks.

InFretta partnered with Mama Pita Mediterranean Grill in Plano, Big Guy’s Chicken and Rice in Dallas, and Chameli in Richardson, each sending volunteers to set up, tear down and hand out food to the folks who drove through.

1 Solar Solution also partnered with InFretta, contributing funds for the food. Founder and CEO, Ali Samana, was at the event, handing food to people.

“1 Solar Solution is committed to supporting the local communities that we live and work in. We believe in sponsoring as many events and programs that we can, including local events like this one,” said Samana.


Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer (R) chats with an Irving Police Officer

Even Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer came by to chat with everyone and there was an Irving police presence to make sure everything and everyone was safe.

The food giveaway included all kinds of fried rice and pasta, with dessert being ice cream that was donated by Ked’s Artesian Ice Cream and Treats out of Plano.

InFretta owner Ram Mehta said he was continuing the work of his mother, who passed away a few years ago. He grew up in India, and his mother believed heavily in charity and generosity. Following in his mom’s footsteps, InFretta regularly donates pizzas to Children’s Hospital.

There has been a sign on the front door since the business opened that says anyone who is homeless or hungry and cannot afford food can come in and get a free meal.

InFrettaFreeFoodSign“We’ve been giving food to the people who need it since the day we opened this location about seven months ago. The Plano location has been open a year and a half, and we do the same there. It’s just that people are not aware of it,” Mehta said. “Those customers will be treated just like any paying customer. It’s also all over our social media: Free pizza or pasta. If you can’t afford it, no questions asked and no judgement.”

The event provided 4,000 meals to give away.

“We already have 1,800 meals spoken for. Some of our volunteers are delivering them to churches and others that requested food. If the number of meals goes over 4,000, nobody’s going to go hungry. We’ll make more. No problem,” said Mehta.

Several businesses partnered up with Mehta, donating money, food and volunteers.

“I partnered up with Ram and his team because he was doing something to give back to the community, and we thought we’d support him and try to stand with him and see how we can make him stronger, as well as take care of the people in the community,” said Zaid Beyan, Co-Owner of Sara’s Market and Bakery in Richardson.


InFretta Owner Ram Mehta delivers food to a customer

“There are a lot of people out here that are hurting and are looking for a meal. Nobody here should be looking for a meal. We are all in this together, and there are a lot of people out there looking for food, and the least we can do is give back. Even if it’s something small, it goes a long way,” Beyan said.

Representative of the Dallas Halal Buzz and the Dallas Buzz Facebook pages, Ali Siraj, said, “We promote mostly the Indian and Pakistani restaurants that open up in the area because they usually don’t get that much exposure. We are here volunteering for him, as we always do. We create and promote all the events with him and are pleased to be out here volunteering today.”


Ice cream was a favorite!

One customer, who preferred to remain anonymous, drove up with her three children to get meals. “This is helping us very much,” she said. “I have been laid off from work and we have been eating the same things every day. It will be nice to have a change, especially with good food like this.”

InFretta plans to have another event like this very soon. For more information, call the Plano store at (214) 618-5431 or visit

Grapevine Office Depot to the rescue

My WiFi recently died, and it seemed that it was going to be a complicated fix involving electricians and holes in the garage walls. And I’m a journalist…I NEED connectivity.

With all of the coffee houses, etc. being closed because of COVID, I was not in a good situation. No, I don’t have a hotspot, but after this, maybe I’ll get one.

I called my local Office Depot, located at 1317 State Highway 114 West in Grapevine (Phone number 817.251.0311), and they said I was welcome to come work there in the office furniture section using their WiFi. So, not only did I find a solution to my problem, but I also got to write and take care of everything using an awesome desk and a chair that I LOVED. Maybe when all this is over, I can get me one of those! 🙂

Long story short: THANK YOU to Manager Shane MacFawn and the rest of the the Office Depot staff! Yes, they are open and have many work-at-home solutions. For more information, visit

Office Depot

The Awesome Staff at the Grapevine Office Depot

Grapevine residents bring smiles to their neighborhood with a chalk mural


Jackson (L) and Jonathon (R) Schwartz stand by their mural

Jackson Schwartz, age 8, and his brother Jonathon, age 13, along with their mom, Heather, have created a beautiful mural in chalk on their fence in a neighborhood near Main Street in Grapevine.

The trio got the idea from looking around on the Internet.

“We went on social media and saw that other people were doing it, and a lot of schools [including GCISD] had posted their students’ doing it, so we jumped on board,” Heather said.

The mural is in the style of a quilt, with several squares made into a larger whole. Each boy, along with Mom, provided a square or two.

“I got the idea for my part of the mural from things I like, so I made the baseball one because of all these things happening right now and I’m missing baseball. I made the Texas flag just to represent our state,” said Jonathon.

Jackson explained that, “I made the USA one because I like USA stuff, and I made the fade one because I like fade art.”


Close-up of the mural

“I did the peace sign at the bottom,” Heather said. “I did the rainbow one too. I wanted something bright. We put ‘This too shall pass’ because I’ve been saying it over and over. I haven’t been working for a week, and we’re home. We’re fine, so we are trying to find the positives now, and this WILL pass. I don’t doubt that.”

Let’s take a note from the Schwartz’s’ lovely gesture and remember that we are all here to help each other, whether it be with an encouraging mural, volunteering to help others or just plain, simple daily kindness. We can all get through this strange time knowing that our community cares.

Grapevine Dispatcher honored as Tarrant County’s Telecommunicator of the Year

header_npstw2019Every year during the second week of April, the telecommunications personnel in the public safety community are honored during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. This event is a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving their communities. [Source:]


Elizabeth Wheeler (Photo: Grapevine PD)

This year (as well as last year), a Grapevine Police Department employee has been chosen as the Tarrant County Telecommunicator of the Year by the Tarrant County 9-1-1 District. This year’s honor goes to Elizabeth Wheeler!

The following is a description of the incident that Wheeler was most recognized for, though she takes pride in providing excellent public service for all calls during all of her shifts, including recently keeping a calm demeanor during a high-speed chase:

On January 6 2019, Wheeler received a 9-1-1 call from a young man on Grapevine Lake whose kayak had tipped over and blown away. Elizabeth worked quickly to input a call for service and ascertain his location to send first responders.  

When the man stated that his legs were becoming numb, Elizabeth encouraged him to continue moving, and assured him that help was on the way. Wind gusts were up to 25 mph, and Elizabeth continuously monitored the caller’s latitude and longitude for any location updates. Once the fireboat spotted him and pulled him into the boat, the man was in a hypothermic state from the cold – his body temperature had dropped to 80 degrees. 


(L-R): Captain Mark Bills; Dispatcher Elizabeth Wheeler; Rotarian Brad Schnautz, Deputy Superintendent for GCISD; and Fire Chief Darrell Brown

Elizabeth stayed on the line with the victim for 25 minutes until his rescue, providing the utmost care, concern and empathy. Her handling of this call and the calm nature that she provided is the perfect example of the positive impact Dispatchers can make.

Elizabeth was honored with a Vocational Service Award and monetary gift from Grapevine Rotary for her actions in this case. [Source:]

Elizabeth has worked as a Telecommunicator for 13 years, and has been at Grapevine Police Department for a year-and-a-half. She says that she often gets asked if she feels numb after taking so many calls. “I am a point of hope for the people who call me,” she said. “Even if something doesn’t seem like an emergency to me, I have to remember that the caller considers the issue as one. So, I never get ‘numb.’  I have to be present with the caller. I do this because I have a passion to help people.”

Elizabeth has had some humorous calls in her lengthy career. “Parents need to educate their kids about 9-1-1 being only for when someone is hurt or if there’s a fire – things like that. I’ve had kids call me and say they needed help with their homework. That was an emergency to them!

Big Pig

Saving the Pig

“My weirdest call was in reference to someone’s pet pig getting out. We thought it was a micro or mini pig. Nope! It was a huge pot belly! Her owner was on vacation and it was the first time that the pig was without her ‘person.’ So we had officers respond and save the pig!” Elizabeth added.

As Tarrant County’s Telecommunicator of the Year, Wheeler had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the very first Telecommunicator Appreciation Night, at the Rangers vs. the Oakland A’s game at Globe Life Park on April 13! Unfortunately, the game was rained out, but she’ll have another opportunity on June 8, when the Rangers make up the game with the A’s in a double header.

Fortunately, Elizabeth and her family were able to enjoy the evening, despite the weather. 




[Editor’s Note: If you’d like to thank your community dispatchers, please DO NOT call 9-1-1 to do so. Call the non-emergency number for your police department or stop by the Public Safety Building to express your thanks.]