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.

Custom Bootmaker Keeps Tradition Alive

Armando Duarte Rios shows one of the many exotic skins he has in the shop.

Some may call it a dying industry as technology keeps swallowing one tradition after another, but the only bootmaker left in Raymondville and one of a few in the Rio Grande Valley keeps defying the odds against dozens of commercial bootmakers. Armando’s Boots Co. has been producing the custom-made footwear for nearly 40 years and is not showing any signs of slowing down. The 77-year-old owner, Armando Duarte Rios, comes…

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Valley Organic Produce Feeds Texans

Organic farmer Mark Miller holds gold beets grown at Tenaza Farms

Location, location, location is a familiar adage used to describe a major selling point in the real estate industry. In today’s health-conscious consumer marketplace, it’s organic, organic, organic. Just ask Mike Ortiz and Mark Miller, two of three partners (the other one is Jade Murray) who are involved in growing, packing and shipping more than a dozen winter vegetables for some of the biggest, and smallest, supermarkets and specialty shops…

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Shrimp and Sawdust: A Family Tradition

Gary Williams gets ready to put live shrimp inside a brown bag filled with sawdust. (VBR)

Gordon’s Bait & Tackle in Brownsville has gone through one expansion after another over the years, following a family tradition that has converted the business into more than just a place for anglers to buy supplies before they head on fishing trips to the bay, area canals and the beach. The family owned and operated business on Highway 48, also known as Padre Island Highway, is a one-stop shop selling…

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Taxidermist Preserves Wildlife

Taxidermist Rene Escamilla with some of the trophies he has completed at his shop in Brownsville. (VBR)

Texas white-tailed deer, fish, birds, reptiles and even African animals often find their way to Rene Escamilla, who can preserve them for hunters and fishing enthusiasts who want to keep a trophy. Escamilla is an expert in taxidermy, or the practice of stuffing or mounting an animal’s body for display or even educational purposes. And the Brownsville taxidermist probably knows that line of business better than most of his colleagues…

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Family ‘Goes Green’ with Recycling Business

Ruben Geurrero Jr. inspects a bale of plastic bottles before it is shipped out for recycling.

Recycling in the Rio Grande Valley may not be as prevalent as it is in other parts of the state and nation, but for 37 years a Brownsville family has been “going green” to make a living. Owned and operated by Ruben Guerrero Sr., his wife Rosa, and sons Ruben Jr. and Rolando, Brownsville Scrap Paper on FM 511 not far from the Port of Brownsville, the business buys, sells…

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Bargain Hunters’ Delight

Brownsville flea market keeps customers coming back Every weekend people flock to more than a dozen flea markets around the Rio Grande Valley in search of bargains. The largest and one of the oldest flea markets in South Texas is the 77 Flea Market in north Brownsville, where hundreds of people shop, eat and enjoy the day every weekend. Taking the name from its location on Expressway 77, now also…

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