Sierra Vista kiddos will soon be walking or riding their bikes to a brand-new elementary school located in Sierra Vista.

Debra Orum Nichols-Wilma Fountain Mock Elementary School broke ground earlier this year. The school bell is slated to ring in August 2023. Located at 10805 Crystal View Drive, the approximately 101,858-square-foot facility will house Kindergarten through 5th grade students.

The school was named after two longtime Alvin ISD educators whose professional trajectories moved along parallel lines.

Wilma Fountain Mock was the first black teacher in Alvin ISD. She was hired to coach gymnastics at Alvin Junior High in 1972. She then moved to Alvin High School where she taught PE and coached gymnastics, track and cross country. After four years, she began teaching at EC Mason Elementary School. She remained there for 14 years, winning the EC Mason’s Teacher of the Year award in 1992. She helped open Hood-Case Elementary in 1997 and was named Hood-Case Teacher of the Year. She took home the Alvin ISD District Teacher of the Year soon after. Mock retired in 2004 but continues to tutor elementary school students in the district.

Debra Nichols was a teacher in Alvin ISD from 1974 to 2009. Her first teaching position was at Longfellow Elementary where she also taught PE. In 1982, she began teaching ELA and social studies at EC Mason. She joined Mock in opening Hood-Case and was named Teacher of the Year there. She retired in 2009. Like Mock, she continues tutoring youth in the district.

Alvin ISD schools are among the top-rated in Texas. The district ranked the district No. 145 out of 1018 school districts on its list of the Best School Districts in Texas. It ranks No. 15 in Houston.

Keep checking back here for updates. We can’t wait for our young students to see their new school.

Move over, Galveston — Surfside Beach has the same water, the same sand, less crowds and — for Sierra Vista residents — a shorter drive!

In fact, beach-loving residents can shoot down Highway 288 in less than an hour to wade in the water and search for seashells. Of course, if you stop at Buc-ee’s in Lake Jackson for snacks, it might take you a little more than an hour. (Fun note — this is the original Buc-ee’s!)

Surfside Beach has four miles of coastline — perfect for lounging, wading in warm Gulf waters and searching for seashells. Another popular pastime at Surfside Beach? The name offers the biggest clue — surfing! Texas surfers frequent the shore — particularly the shoreline near Texas Street — for its consistent waves.

Birding is another popular activity along the Texas Gulf Coast, and birders will find plenty to watch at Surfside Beach. Roseate spoonbills, sandhill cranes, snow geese, herons and egrets can be found at Surfside during the year. The community is also along the southern border of the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, which reports more than 200 varieties of birds. Regardless of when you visit Surfside, make sure to pack your binoculars!

Surfside Jetty Park

Many beachgoers enjoy the convenience of Surfside Jetty Park. At the foot of the East Jetty off Fort Velasco Drive, Surfside Jetty Park is a 15-acre day-use park with a paved parking area, a playground and bathrooms. The paved jetty is more than a half-mile long. Many anglers can be found fishing its edge in an attempt to hook redfish, sheepshead, shark and spotted sea trout.

Of note to Texas historians, the park is also home to the Velasco Town Battery which dates to before the 1860s. The battery — which features an emplacement with two brass cannon — was turned over to the Confederacy in 1861. Historic Fort Velasco is just outside the park.





Many Sierra Vista builders offer home automation packages that include an Amazon Dot or Show. Both feature a virtual assistant called “Alexa.” To activate your smart home features, you can simply tell Alexa to perform tasks such as turning on lights. Alexa can do so much more, though. Here are a few fun things you can try:

Channel Your Inner Trekkie

Amazon smart devices use the wake word “Alexa,” as in “Alexa, turn on the lights.”

If you have a family member named Alexa that can be a problem. Amazon will allow you to change the wake word — which is where the fun begins. Change the wake word to “Computer” to transport you to the starship Enterprise. Now you can say “Computer. Turn on the lights.” Just like Captain Kirk.

Drop In On the Kids

Add Amazon devices to other rooms in your house, then surprise your kids with your disembodied voice. How? Turn your devices into an intercom system. Enable the Alexa drop-in feature from the Devices tab in the Alexa app.  Then go to the Communications tab to try it out. Once you do, you can listen and speak through any selected Alexa speaker.

Talk to the Animals

Is your four-legged friend feeling neglected while you are at work? Have Alexa “talk” to them. To do this, you will need to download a skill in the Alexa app. Meow! Is for cats. Woof! is for dogs. Alexa will start a conversation by making the appropriate noise. If your pet answers, Alexa will continue making those sounds. Of course, you can always use the drop-in feature so they can hear your voice.

Get Fashion Advice

Not only can Alexa help you get dressed in the morning, but it can also give you fashion advice. Say, “Alexa, what should I wear today?” Alexa will tell you what the weather is like and make an appropriate suggestion. For dedicated fashionistas, the Daily Fashion Advice skill will offer tips, tips and suggestions for always staying on-trend.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember those choose your own adventure books from your childhood? Open the Magic Door for a high-tech version your kids will love. This skill takes kids on an interactive adventure through a forest, sea, garden and castle. Along the way, they will collect hidden items, solve riddles, and help magical creatures. Enable Earplay for the more grown-up version featuring radio drama-type stories. Earplay is free to enable but some stories may incur a fee.

Shall We Play a Game?

Amazon claims that Alexa can play more than 5,000 games. Some of these come prepackaged on your device. For others, you will need to download the “skill” via the Alexa app. Challenge the kids to Simon Says, Jeopardy, Escape the Room and more.

Tell Me a Story

Alexa can read books to your kids. Amazon Storytime is for kids ages 5 to 12. Enabling this skill gives them access to more than 100 short stories featuring live cast recordings. Kids can choose from several categories or spin the magic story wheel for a surprise.

Play “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” Everywhere

Alexa can stream music from Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and more. That means your kids can ask Alexa to play their favorite Disney tunes. If you have more than one device, you can group them together via the Alexa app. Then tell Alexa to play “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” everywhere. Once the kids are in bed you can switch to some light jazz, we promise.


You’ve chosen your builder, homesite and floor plan in Sierra Vista. As you get ready to visit the design center, have you given any thought to your front door? If not, maybe you should. Your door is one of the first things your guests will see. It’s a first impression. It’s part of that all-important curb appeal. It’s also something you can choose to upgrade at the design center. Here are some typical design options. Your builder might not have all of them, but they are worth checking out.

Size Matters

Doors are getting taller. The typical front door is 6 feet and 6 inches high. Many builders have begun installing 8-foot front doors. Sometimes this is standard but for many homebuyers, it is still just an option. Why should you opt for a taller door? Symmetry and proportions. Modern homes have oversized windows. The average door looks puny by comparison. An 8-foot door is also pretty impressive.

Single or Double?

Whether you decide to stick with a single door or upgrade to a double one is entirely up to you. Single doors are functional, and you won’t have to make structural changes. Double doors are cool. They definitely add a “wow” factor to large homes with distinctive architecture. From a practical standpoint, they make it easier to move large items in and out.

The Warmth of Wood

Doors can be varnished, stained or painted. Increasingly, homebuyers are embracing natural wood. Going au natural adds a touch of warmth to your home’s exterior. They dress up a traditional home and soften more modern designs. The woods most suited to a simple varnish or stain include mahogany, white oak and walnut. The grains on these woods are simple but the natural colors are vibrant. You can also choose to stain the wood a darker color to really make the door pop.

Go Bold with Paint

Another way to go bold is with paint. Paint choices emphasize the individuality of the home and its owner. The current trend is to go darker. Dark colors such as black, navy or dark green add drama to your entry. Bright colors such as red and yellow are cheerful and welcoming. If you choose to go dark, remember that dark colors absorb heat and light colors reflect it. Also think about how quickly the color might fade if exposed to too much sunlight.

Should You Choose Steel?

Not many people choose steel doors, but they are available. These doors are durable, secure and energy-efficient. They come in a variety of colors. You can even find ones that look like they are made of wood.


Choose Your Style


Doors come in a lot of styles. Distressed wood doors give your home an antique feel without looking worn out. If you want a more modern look, choose doors that are simple but use rectangular glass inlays. Glass inlays can be used to dress up traditional doors. Choose stained glass with multiple cut outs. Hardware is also important. Iron door handles offer a mid-century look. Brass handles look antique. Clavos are large, decorative nails that add a rustic touch to your entry door.



Did you know there is a wild animal park practically in Sierra Vista’s backyard? It’s true. You and your family can take a little safari at the Bayou Wildlife Zoo in Alvin.

The zoo began as an exotic game ranch purchased by Clint Wolston in 1985. At the time, it housed 170 animals and 36 species of birds. The animals were free to roam across the land. Today, although the zoo recently changed ownership, animals still roam free, but now there are more than 500 of them.

The 80-acre park features animals from 19 different countries. Visitors have opportunities to get up close and personal with them via a 30- to 40-minute guided tram ride around the park with stops to feed some of them on the way. (The food is $4 per bucket.)

Animals at the zoo include zebras, a zonkey (the offspring of a donkey and zebra), ostriches, emus, giraffes, camels, alligators, small kangaroos, ring-tailed lemurs, rare breeds of cattle and deer.

In addition to the tram, families can head over Addie Lou’s Barnyard to see wallabies, Pygmy goats and lemurs. The Red Barn houses giraffes and baby animals in need of bottle feeding. The Bayou General Store located in the barn sells drinks, snacks and souvenirs. Guests are welcome to bring their own picnic lunches.

The Bayou Wildlife Zoo is located at 5050 FM 517 Road. Hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Prices are $22 adults, $12 for children ages 2-11 and free for ages 2 and under.