Healthy Outdoor Summer Celebrations

By Meilana Charles

Even as the Waco temperatures rise into the triple digits, many holiday celebrations still move outdoors. Here are a few tips on how to have happy, healthy summer celebrations outdoors.

my plateEnjoy healthy options– Incorporate My Plate into the menu. Replace food high in sugar, salt and saturated fat with 100% whole grain, fruits, vegetables and lean meat and seafood options. Try fruit parfaits, grilled vegetable kabobs, 100% whole wheat buns and salmon patties. Additionally, use smaller plates to help with portion control.

Incorporate physical activity into the celebration-After the meal, enjoy the warm weather by going on a brisk walk with family members, have a scavenger hunt, play tug-of-war or have a jump rope competition.

Keep water handy-Stay hydrated by sipping on cold water instead of soda or other drinks. Too many caffeinated beverages are high in sugar and calories and can lead to dehydration. Try alternating caffeinated drinks with water.

 Keep food safe-To reduce the chance of foodborne illness, use the four food safety principles-Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

  • Clean – Wash hands by using warm water and soap for 20 seconds before rinsing. Also, clean and sanitize surfaces and appliances and thoroughly rinse produce.
  • family eatingSeparate – Always keep fresh produce and cooked food separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use different cutting boards, utensils and plates for cooked and uncooked foods.
  • Cook – Keep hot food at an internal temperature of 140 F or higher. Use a food thermometer to make sure cooked foods are safe until it’s time to eat. For safe cooking temperatures of meat, poultry and seafood go to:
  • Chill – Keep cold food at 40 F or below by transporting and storing it in an insulated cooler with ice, dry ice or frozen gel packs. Additionally, keep food safe and out of the “Danger Zone” (40 F – 140 F) by eating or storing it within 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 F of higher).

Meilana CharlesThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Meilana Charles. Meilana is a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent at Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University. Meilana’s priority areas for providing educational resources to McLennan County are general nutrition, money management and parenting. She has a M.S. in Child Development from Texas Woman’s University and is a certified Human Development and Family Studies professional through American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

References: MyPlate Tip Sheet-Be food safe: MyPlate Tip Sheet-Enjoy your food, but eat less: MyPlate Tip Sheet-Make celebrations fun, healthy and active: MyPlate Tip Sheet-Make healthier holiday choices:

From Around The World To Waco

By Christina Helmick

When people first learn that I’ve lived all around the world, their immediate question is “why Waco?” I’ve really come to love answering that question.

Here are a few things you should know about me:

  • CH armyI’m a military child (GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!)
  • I’ve moved more than 12 times in my life (before college)
  • I lived in Italy for two years during high school
  • My dad served three tours in Iraq
  • Waco is the place I’ve lived longest in my life (going on six years!)

All of that to say….I’m an expert packer.

Some people cringe at the idea of moving so often; I wouldn’t change a thing about how I grew up. I have met dynamic people and learned about different cultures first hand. I became the outgoing person I am today through the hundreds of “new kid ice breaker” games I’ve had to play. I also got a chance to live in different cities, ranging from Fort Riley, Kansas, with a population of a little over 8.000 to Arlington, Virginia, with a population close to 400,000 people. Each city opened my eyes to how the world works, and I learned to love a city for the unique experiences it has to offer.

Being a recent Baylor alumna, I enjoyed the Waco community while I was in school. I got involved in a local church and gained insights about Waco from community members that have lived in Waco their entire lives. I knew after I graduated from Baylor I wanted to stay in Waco. That sentiment is becoming more and more common. Many of my sorority sisters are looking for jobs in Waco so they can move back. More and more recent college graduates are wanting to stay in Waco and forego that enticing Dallas-type salary because the quality of life is better in Waco.

Waco embodies what I believe to be an up-and-coming city. It has the nightlife, the young professional environment, great education institutions, a culture of collaboration between community organizations and a thriving downtown area. Our community does have certain issues to work on together, which are being addressed through strategic conversations between community partners within the Prosper Waco initiative.

I believe in this town and I hope you do, too! To learn more about the efforts our community is taking to address the issue of increasing education, health and financial security, visit You can also register for prosper Waco’s Annual Summit Event, which will be held on Monday, Sept. 19 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at the Waco Convention Center. The Summit will be an opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate the progress of the initiative in the last year and discuss the vision for the initiative moving forward. Dinner and childcare will be provided for Summit attendees. Here is the link to register!


Christina Helmick isChristina Helmick the director of communication at Prosper Waco. She is a recent graduate of Baylor University with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations & New Media. Originally she is from Washington, D.C., but has stayed in Waco post-graduation.  She is an active mentor at J.H. Hines Elementary School, enjoys spending time with her family and watching Baylor football. Sic ’em Bears!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Entrepreneurs of Waco: Shane Turner and The Waco Hippodrome

(Note: This post is part of a series called “Entrepreneurs of Waco.”  The series is collaboration between the McLennan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Professional Writing program at Baylor University, and Act Locally Waco.  The McLennan Small Business Development Center offers technical assistance, business mentoring, training, and resources for all stages of small business. For more information, visit their website:  To see all the posts in this series, click here: Entrepreneurs of Waco.  – ABT)

By Payten Arthur

The Waco Hippodrome is a historic gem on the corner of Austin Avenue and 8th street. The distinctly shaped, bright red sign declaring the building the “WACO HIPPODROME” shines bright in the night.  The interior of the theatre has maintained many features that remind guests of the building’s history. The red velvet curtains at the entrance to the theatres, the muted greens and reds of the carpet in the lobby, the brass candelabra sconces lining the aisles, the detailed lattice of gold, plaster rosettes that climb the walls and cover the ceiling, all whisper the stories of years gone by.

The Waco Hippodrome opened in 1914 as a vaudeville theatre, and has survived a fire and many changes in management. Since the late 1970’s the theatre has struggled to stay open. Many have tried to bring the Hippodrome back to its former glory, but were unsuccessful. Shane Turner and his brother, Cody purchased the Hippodrome in 2012. After a two-year renovation that involved adding a mezzanine level restaurant, they opened the Hippodrome’s doors to the public once again. Now the theatre is a versatile venue for seeing a film, having a meal, watching live theatre and music performances, and hosting charity events.

Shane Turner is a man who follows his heart. He describes this as “going with the flow” and has followed this practice throughout his life. He never planned on being an entrepreneur. He studied political science and had plans to become a lawyer. He even took the LSAT, but decided soon after that his heart wasn’t in legal work. Instead, he went into business with his brother, Cody. Their parents were entrepreneurs in construction, so it was natural for the Turner Brothers to go into real estate. The brothers have been developing properties in Waco for years. In those years, Shane has developed a love for building up and improving Waco.

hippodromeShane and his brother have found success in real estate.  They own several multifamily properties and loft condominiums in the Waco area, including Tinsley Place and the Altura Luxury Lofts that are currently being constructed. But, the Hippodrome is different from those other properties. Why would they choose to purchase a movie theatre, especially one that has been sitting unused for years?  The Hippodrome’s history of unsuccessful runs was surely not encouraging for potential business owners. Also, Shane had no experience running a movie theatre and restaurant. He has had to learn how to deal with studios and musicians and how to face the many challenges of running a restaurant, like employee turnover and understaffing. Money wasn’t the motivation. Shane’s passion to develop downtown Waco is what guided him to take on the Hippodrome. “We did the Hippodrome to help promote downtown. We didn’t walk into the Hippodrome expecting to be in the black the first month.”

The transformation Shane Turner desires is more than just seeing the downtown area fill with businesses. He loves the Waco community. “In Waco, people are easy to get along with. Some communities are closed off and they don’t want to share the wealth, but Waco isn’t like that.” He wants to make a difference that benefits the people in more than just economic ways.

The work he has done opening the Hippodrome is doing exactly what he hoped it would. The theatre adds some prestige to downtown and provides a place for people to enjoy themselves. Shane especially enjoys hearing the stories of the people who grew up watching movies or had their first date with their husband in the theatre.  One big way Shane has had a social impact on downtown has been by providing the Hippodrome as a venue for Harris Creek Baptist Church on Sunday mornings.

Harris Creek’s mission is to “seek the welfare of the city.” In August 2011, Harris Creek they started a downtown campus in a building across the street from the Hippodrome, called the Palladium. It was a huge success. The two Sunday morning services were always packed. The problem was the level floor and columns in the Palladium made it almost impossible to see past the person standing in front of you. Shane, a deacon at Harris Creek, offered the Hippodrome as a new location.  In November of 2014, the church made the move across the street.

It is easy to get lost in the wonder, beauty, and warmth that is created in the Hippodrome on Sunday mornings. The Hippodrome becomes a modern day cathedral, where people are praising God in an ornate, beautiful building. On a recent Sunday the pastor even started a series called “God in the Movies.” It seemed fitting to hear the sermon in a movie theatre.

After the service, people spill out of the theatre and mingle in the lobby or on the sidewalk outside. Everyone is smiling and laughing, making new friends and catching up with older ones. The feeling of love and community is tangible.

Shane Turner doesn’t brag about his accomplishments. He says “Go with the flow. See where it takes you. I never thought I’d be doing this and I’m enjoying it.” He acts as if his accomplishments just sort of happened and had nothing to do with him. It seems possible that he is not even aware of the impressive impact he has made.

Galan Hughes, Director of Ministry Development at Harris Creek, says of Shane, “He would say ‘I’m not the most articulate person, and I’m not a champion or a cheerleader,’ but he has an incredible heart to transform this city.” Looking at the Hippodrome and the lives touched by it, it definitely seems that way.

Shane TurnerThe entrepreneur…  Shane Turner Graduated from Baylor University in 2002 with a degree in Political Science.  Since graduating Shane has made a career in Real Estate and Real Estate Development.  He started his first development almost 7 years ago and since that time has completed numerous other developments in multi-family, office, and commercial retail.  He and his brother own a Real Estate Investment company whose portfolio ranges from single-family residential rentals, multi-family units, retail space, office space, and restaurant space.  Shane is very active in his community and serves on the Boards of numerous charitable and community organizations.  He is an active member of Harris Creek Baptist Church in McGregor, Texas.

Payten ArthurThe writer…Payten Arthur is a social entrepreneurship major at Baylor University. She lives in an apartment with her twin sister, her best friend, and her Great Dane, Marlowe. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.