Taking care of your Loved One Is What We Do BEST!

It's no secret, most of us would like to stay in our own home as we age. Yet, sometimes our loved ones just need a little extra help to remain comfortable at home. That's where Always Best Care can help....we are dedicated to exceeding expectations....always

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Home Care In Voca, TX

Home Care Voca, TX

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that's how it should be - a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

However, as seniors grow older, completing daily tasks like showering and enjoying activities such as visiting the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site gets harder without someone by their side. Unfortunately, many older Americans aren't able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today's world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live far away from long-term, institutionalized facilities and closer to the place where they feel most comfortable - their home. Home care in Voca, TX is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

 In-Home Care Voca, TX

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The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We are proud to have helped more than 25,000 seniors maintain higher levels of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of in-home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients' lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a "one size fits all" approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs. That way, they may provide care accordingly without compromising their wellbeing.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life's little moments - where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can't quite keep up with life's daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home services, Always Best Care is here to help.


“I work for this team and it's a wonderful team , great communication and support for our clients, their family members and our caring team of staff .”

Antoinette G.

“Ken and Bonnie are wonderful people to help care for your loved ones. their staff was so caring to my mother and so nice to my family I highly recommend them to take care of your loved ones. I think there ought to be more than just five stars to give them”

Mark A.

“I am a past client of this provider Ken and Bonnie were wonderful to work with. They were able to provide my mother with care and a very short notice. Their staff was some of the most caring people that I've ever met. Not only were they wonderful to my mother but also to my family. I would highly recommend using them.”

Mark A.

“For those who are searching for qualified caregivers for their loved ones, contact Ken Thomas at Always Best Care Senior Services. Mr. Thomas provides an authentic and professional guiding hand when discussing available services for your precious senior family members. When it is time for a beloved senior to receive assistance, Mr. Thomas understands the importance of providing trustworthy and quality support.”

Melissa C.

“Ken leads his Always Best Care Senior Services Agency with compassion for his clients and their families. He is a local senior care expert and leader in his community. If you are need of assistance in navigating your local senior care options, then do not hesitate to give Ken a call!”

Kelly B.

“Kenneth is kind, patient, experienced and knowledgeable. We are thankful to him for all his efforts and for going above and beyond.”

Chae S.

“Very professional and welcoming people so I would definitely recommend my friends and family to Always Best Care in Boerne.”

Laurie K.

“The owner is so understanding and supportive of how I want my loved ones cared for. He and his staff actually listen to what I would like done for my parents. Very thoughtful, very professional and very caring. It’s such a relief to have help in caring for my loved ones”

Kristen B.

“Kenneth is knowledgeable and trustworthy. I can’t recommend him enough. You’re in good hands with Kenneth.”

Chae S.

“ALWAYS BEST CARE is certainly a warm & caring business owned & operated by Ken Thomas. I certainly would recommend them for you or your loved ones excellent care.”

Shirley S.

“I will be forever grateful for the love you showered upon us and my grandmother”

Jill &.

What is Non-Medical Senior Care in Voca, TX?


Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it is especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.


When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.


The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.


At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one gets older, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

 Senior Care Voca, TX

Types of Elderly Care in Voca, TX

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Respite Care Voca, TX
Home Helper

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading
 Caregivers Voca, TX
Companionship Services

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors. That way, older adults can enjoy their favorite local activities, such as visiting Vitruvian Park with friends while also receiving the care they need daily or weekly.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community
  • Events and Social Outings
Home Care Voca, TX
Respite Care

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy nearby activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress reduces the risk of caregiver burnout. So, if you've always wanted to eat at the local Boca 31 Fort Worth or visit Palmito Ranch Battlefield State Historic Site, don't feel bad. Doing so is great for both you and your loved one.

At the end of the day, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior's daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible.

If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

 In-Home Care Voca, TX

Benefits of Home Care in Voca, TX

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for patients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

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Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit - something that is unavailable to many older people today.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a strange nursing home, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

How much does a senior's home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, then, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old.

With the help of elderly care in Voca, TX, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors.

Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like a nursing home. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier and more affordable to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, seniors who age in the comfort of their homes can save thousands of dollars per month.

In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, are often less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

 Elderly Care Voca, TX

Affordable Care

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

If your loved one qualifies, Medicaid may help reduce in-home care costs. Review your TX's Medicaid program laws and benefits, and make sure your senior's financial and medical needs meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.
Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.
 Senior Care Voca, TX

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers.

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Voca, TX understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Assisted Living Referral Services

While it's true that many seniors prefer to age at home, sometimes in-home care isn't the best fit. For those seniors and their families, choosing an assisted living facility makes more sense. Unfortunately, finding the optimal care facility is easier said than done in today's day and age. That's when Always Best Care's assisted living referral services begin to make a lot of sense.

Assisted living is a form of housing intended for seniors who require varying degrees of medical and personal attention. Accommodations may include single rooms, apartments, or shared living arrangements. Assisted living communities are typically designed to resemble a home-like environment and are physically constructed to encourage the independence of residents.

Respite Care Voca, TX

At assisted living communities, seniors receive help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They may also benefit from coordination of services with outside healthcare providers, and monitoring of resident activities to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Caregivers who work at assisted living communities can also provide medication administration and personal care services for older adults.

Other services offered within assisted living communities can include some or all of the following:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Recreational Activities
  • Social Outings
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Family Visitation
  • Personal Care
 Caregivers Voca, TX

At Always Best Care, our representatives can match your senior's emotional, physical, and financial needs with viable assisted living communities nearby. Results are based on comparative data, so you can select the best choice for you or your loved one.

Always Best Care works closely with local senior living communities to gain valuable knowledge that we then use to help seniors and their loved ones make informed decisions. This information can include basic care and rent, resident availability, and services provided. Because Always Best Care is compensated by these communities, we provide senior living referral services at no extra cost to you.

Some of the most popular assisted living communities to consider in our area include the following:

  • SeniorAdvice
  • Voca Corporation
  • Apple Valley Place of Clear Lake
  • Hacienda de Luna Assisted Living
  • Artis Senior Living of Boca Raton
  • Golden Swan of Boca Raton
Home Care Voca, TX

For many seniors, moving into a senior living community revolves around how and when they want to make a transition to more involved care. Some seniors are more proactive about transitioning to independent living. Others choose to remain home until their care needs or other requirements are satisfied. Remember - our staff is here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about assisted living communities and how we can find a facility that exceeds your expectations.

 In-Home Care Voca, TX

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Always Best Care Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

A discussion of your needs and how our trained caregivers can offer assistance in the most effective way


A draft of your care plan, which includes highly detailed notes and a framework for the care that you or your senior will receive


Discuss payment options and help coordinate billing with your insurance provider


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

At the end of the day, we only hire the best of the best at Always Best Care. Whether you need home care in Voca, TX 24-hours a day or only need a respite for a couple of hours, we are here to serve you.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

 Elderly Care Voca, TX

Latest News in Voca, TX

Day Trips: Dotson-Cervantes Winery, Voca

A pleasant afternoon with the couple behind the Hill Country wineryTweet print...

A pleasant afternoon with the couple behind the Hill Country winery



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Wines of Dotson-Cervantes in Voca south of Brady has been on my bucket list for some time. I've wanted to meet Alphonse Dotson, and during a drive around Mason County, I finally had my chance.

Since Alphonse and his wife, Martha Cervantes, opened their winery in 2014, there has been a steady stream of articles featuring them.

The couple makes a good story: Alphonse was a former professional defensive tackle, and Martha was once a top real estate agent in Acapulco, Mexico. Theirs is an inspiring story of hard work and perseverance.

Alphonse met my wife and me in the metal building at the edge of the vineyard for our wine tasting. At 80 he's still an imposing figure, though a little bent over from the years. His smile glows from under his cowboy hat.

A graduate of Yates High School in Houston, Alphonse went on to be an All-American at Grambling State University. His football career spanned 1965 to 1970, mostly with the Oakland Raiders. This was in the days before big-money sports contracts.

After football, Alphonse went through a series of jobs, from the oil fields to searching for diamonds in Sierra Leone. He met Martha when she sold him a house.

Soft-spoken, but with a command of the conversation like the former high school guidance counselor that he is, we talked about football, wine, and life as he poured us samples of his wine.

He and Martha started in the wine business in 1997 by growing grapes for Ed and Susan Auler's Fall Creek Vineyards. Then, using the Aulers' equipment and advice, Alphonse began developing his own unique blends. The result is complex wines and a pleasant afternoon of conversation.

Wines of Dotson-Cervantes is a short distance off Texas Highway 71, about 41 miles northwest of Llano. Personalized wine tastings are available Thursday through Sunday by appointment at

1,684th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

Hill Country Town Picks Up Pieces After Sand Plants Head West

Texas’ oil and gas industry is seeing a boom — thanks in large part to the relatively new oil-drilling method called fracking. Late last year, Texas oil helped push the country to become the largest producer of crude in the world. Around the same time, however, the boom came to an end for one town in the Hill Country.If you follow State Highway 71 west, it ends in Brady, a town of about 6,000 people in McCulloch County. The stretch of Hill Country has a unique geology.“Sand goes back a long, long way here in B...

Texas’ oil and gas industry is seeing a boom — thanks in large part to the relatively new oil-drilling method called fracking. Late last year, Texas oil helped push the country to become the largest producer of crude in the world. Around the same time, however, the boom came to an end for one town in the Hill Country.

If you follow State Highway 71 west, it ends in Brady, a town of about 6,000 people in McCulloch County. The stretch of Hill Country has a unique geology.

“Sand goes back a long, long way here in Brady,” Mayor Anthony Groves says. "I had cousins that worked in the sand plant in the '50s and '60s timeframe, so sand plants have been here for a long, long time."

The sand here has a nickname in the oil industry: Brady Brown. It’s had many uses over the years, but mining operations were turned up a few notches when fracking came into vogue. Sand — good sand — is an essential ingredient for the technique.

“Some people looked at Brady as a mining town, or McCulloch County as a mining county, because of so much of the central steady part of the income came from the sand mines,” Groves says.

The success of fracking — and drillers’ thirst for sand — brought bigger, international mining operations to Brady. Some bought existing mines. Some started new ones. Most bought up neighboring ranchland and deer leases for expansion. Tiny McCulloch County was eventually home to seven sand plants.

Until last November.

“They told everybody no vacation, no nothin’, we have the big guys coming in,” Arturo Aguirre says. "So, they come in, and Tuesday they told us we’re shutting down.”

Aguirre has lived in and around Brady for most of his life. He spent the last 21 years running heavy equipment in a sand mine for Unimin, which recently changed its name to Covia.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, Aguirre got the news that he wouldn’t be working there anymore.

“So, we picked up our toolboxes and our personal property – our coats, our gloves, whatever we had in our lockers, you know, lunchboxes and all that,” he says. "We had to sign papers that we was cut from the company, because they was shutting down. And they shut down the doors. Packed it up. We left.”

It was terrible news for the workers, of course. But it was just the beginning of a wave that would hit the rest of the county’s mines.

Closer To Oil Operations

The sand in the Brady area was deposited millions of years ago. It’s coarse and difficult to crush. That’s important in fracking, which uses sand to fill wells and keep them open after shale has been broken to reach oil.

“Crush strength is definitely one of the biggest factors, because if it’s not strong enough, it’s not going to hold those cracks open,” says Brent Elliott, a research associate with the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology.

For years, Brady Brown was the industry standard. But then oil companies developed ways to use — geologically speaking — finer, younger sand.

“These are just wind-blown sands that have only been collected there,” Elliott says. “They’re really young, just a few thousand years old.”

With oil supplies up and prices down, companies are trying to figure out how to squeeze profits where they can: Reducing transportation costs lowers other costs. No longer reliant on Brady Brown, the sand-mining operations are moving west to be closer to oil operations.

“It’s easier to get sand 5 miles than it is to get 500 miles,” Aguirre says. "That’s why West Texas [sand mines were] built. It’s easier to get that sand.”

'We Need Jobs Out Here'

Some of the sand companies are offering the Brady workers similar jobs out west, but whether they can leave depends on their individual situations.

Aguirre cannot. He’s 62 years old, three years short of the retirement he planned. His wife works in Brady, and he has elderly family members who need his help.

“We made pretty good money here,” he says. "I’m not saying we made it rich, but we made a living. And it was a decent living. And I paid my bills. Like everybody else, you pay your bills one day at a time, you go to work one day at a time, hope you don’t get sick and you try your best.”

With his severance ending, Aguirre's not sure what’s next.

“We need jobs out here,” he says. "We need something that’s stable ... and it makes it hard. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I really don’t know.”

Carol Henderson lives just outside Brady with her husband of 57 years, L.D.

They have a small ranch off Highway 71 in Voca, next to a deposit of Brady Brown. L.D. was born and raised in Voca, and when the sand mine opened in Brady, he was there.

“Well, L.D. went to work for one of them in 1958, and I was really happy about it," Carol says.

L.D. had just been laid off. Carol was hoping for something a little more sustainable, and the sand mine provided it. He had steady employment for 36 years, a pension, health care.

New Opportunities

With the sand mines closing, what's to come of the plants and the Brady Brown left behind?

“They’re supposed to fill them back up,” Carol says. "Leave them like they found them."

"They won’t now,” L.D. says. "They say they’ll never fill them up now. At one time, I thought by law, they had to fill them up and plant trees or something. But then a fella that worked for the sand plant said that’s no longer the case."

"So, that’ll just be a hole in the ground,” Carol says.

“It’s a blow to have the sand plants leave,” Groves says. "There’s all kinds of rumors about who has bought those spaces. I don’t know anything about, for sure, who did that or if they’ve been purchased.”

Two months after the first mines began closing, rumors and hearsay are all over town. What the mayor does know is that about 15 percent of the households in Brady are hurting right now. There may be ripple effects from the closings down the line. People have less to spend. Other mine-related businesses could close. People may need to leave to find new jobs.

But Groves is optimistic.

“We don’t need to be screaming, ‘Woe is me. The world’s coming to an end because the sand plants left,” he says. "We got an opportunity that closed. We got new opportunities that we don’t even know about yet that may make things better than they were before.”

And there’s always the chance that someday there’s a new use for that Brady Brown sand.

Pioneer, Covia shuttering central Texas sand mines

Dallas-based Pioneer Natural Resources said Thursday it will shutter its Central Texas sand mine in Brady because of the surge in competition from new mines in West Texas' Permian Basin.The sudden boom in the construction in new sand mines in the Permian is causing the closing or mothballing of mines everywhere from other parts of Texas to up north in states like Wisconsin.Energy companies use large volumes of sand for hydraulic fracturing, called fracking, but now there's a glut of sand on the market from all the new West Texa...

Dallas-based Pioneer Natural Resources said Thursday it will shutter its Central Texas sand mine in Brady because of the surge in competition from new mines in West Texas' Permian Basin.

The sudden boom in the construction in new sand mines in the Permian is causing the closing or mothballing of mines everywhere from other parts of Texas to up north in states like Wisconsin.

Energy companies use large volumes of sand for hydraulic fracturing, called fracking, but now there's a glut of sand on the market from all the new West Texas mines built in the last two years.

RELATED: As pipeline shortage slows Permian output, sand miners take hit

The news comes just one day after Ohio-based Covia Corp. said it is closing two mining facilities just southeast of Brady in Voca. However, Covia just opened two new mines in the Permian near Kermit and Crane.

The so-called "Brady brown" sand used to be considered the standard for Texas sand mining, but now Pioneer will lay off dozens of workers at the mine. Pioneer focuses almost exclusively on Permian oil production.

"Our Brady sand mine and other Brady sand sources have been an integral part of Pioneer's success and were critical in our transition to horizontal shale development," said Pioneer Chief Executive Timothy Dove. "However, new West Texas sand mines with their low cost of mining and proximity to our Permian acreage position have provided us a more cost-effective, long-term source of sand supply."

Dove said Pioneer will save about $400,000 per well by relying on sand mines recently built within the Permian. The Brady mine will be closed early next year.

Earlier this fall, Covia said it temporarily shuttered four plants in four states — Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Illinois. Covia also is reduced its activity at its East Texas mine in Cleburne, and at two other plants in Missouri and Wisconsin.

RELATED: Chesapeake signs frac sand agreement with Hi-Crush

The sand, known in the industry as proppant, props open the fissures in fractured shale rock, helping oil and gas flow into the wells.

Nationwide, the demand for frac sand skyrocketed from roughly 40 million tons in 2016 to about 100 million tons this year as oil prices rebounded and the volumes of sand per well continued to rise. Analysts initially projected that demand this year would rise to about 110 million tons, but Permian pipeline shortages led that estimate to be revised downward.

More companies are drilling new wells but waiting to complete them via fracking until new pipelines come online.

As drillers have pushed to become more efficient in producing oil, wells have become deeper and longer, and the amount of sand used to frac each has surged. The largest wells now consume up to 25,000 tons — 50 million pounds — of sand each, up from 1,500 tons, or about 3 million pounds, just a few years ago. Companies can afford it because the sand is cheap, selling for $30 to $50 per ton.

How the Texas freeze will affect the state's wineries and wine industry

Texas winegrowers had the worst of both worlds when temperatures plunged nightly into single digits for a week — and even briefly below zero in certain locales — because they were dealing with the same logistical issues as the rest of us, ranging from extended power outages to fractured water lines in their homes and offices.All happening, of course, on top of the myriad problems wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.But, for grape growers from the High Plains to the Texas Hill Country and points in between, there were a...

Texas winegrowers had the worst of both worlds when temperatures plunged nightly into single digits for a week — and even briefly below zero in certain locales — because they were dealing with the same logistical issues as the rest of us, ranging from extended power outages to fractured water lines in their homes and offices.

All happening, of course, on top of the myriad problems wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, for grape growers from the High Plains to the Texas Hill Country and points in between, there were also the precious vines, the very lifeblood of their livelihoods, to consider because every plant varietal has its breaking point, when cold becomes too cold.

“Hey, man, right now I’m betting on the come; it’s all I can do,” said Alphonse Dotson, the 77-year-old Houston native and former professional football player who, with his wife Martha, owns Certenberg Vineyards in Voca, about five hours northwest of Houston. Over his two-plus decades as a vintner, he has spent many a fitful night worrying about plunging mercury and/or falling hail stones.

“My mother was always worried that I’d grow up to be a gambler. When I told her I’d decided to go look for land to grow grapes, she said, “’Oh, Alphonse, now you’re the biggest gambler of them all.”

Or as Bobby Cox, one of the High Plains’ most seasoned and respected grape growers, said even before last week’s polar vortex hammered his neighborhood, “We don't have to go to Vegas to roll the dice. We do that every year in the High Plains.”

It’s not yet a given that last week’s historic deep freeze will prove to be another in what must sometimes feel like an endless succession of gut punches to the state’s wine industry. In fact, this latest big freeze could turn out to have been a blessing in disguise, at least down in the Hill Country. But there’s no way to know for sure either way with the snow and ice having only just melted. Some tense times are ahead for growers in every Texas AVA.

“The sap was just starting to move when this hit,” said Ron Yates, who oversees his family’s winery in Spicewood and another under his own name on U.S. 290 in Hye. “I’m hoping the vines were still in a state of dormancy. In two or three weeks we’ll see new growth … or we won’t.”

Yates admitted he was almost relieved to have recently “pulled out” 10 acres of Spicewood’s vines that had been decimated by Pierce’s Disease because he’ll at least be starting from scratch with the new plantings.

Neil Newsom, whose vineyards around Plains are among some of Texas’ most iconic, admitted Saturday, “I haven’t looked around out there yet — deliberately — because it takes a few days” for telltale signs of potential disaster, such as split trunks, to emerge.

Cox is also holding off, although for a different reason. He’s in Fort Worth, where he grew up, taking care of family matters after his 99-year-old father passed away earlier this month.

“It’s been a rough two weeks,” he said, “and I’m assuming there’s going to be substantive (vineyard) damage.”

A vine that has been negatively impacted by an external source is not going to have the same resistance to cold temperatures as a fully healthy one.

“A lot of the damage had been done before the freeze,” he explained, blaming the herbicide Dicamba that’s almost ubiquitously used by his cotton-farming neighbors. Cox is part of a class-action lawsuit against the Bayer Corporation, which manufactures the product that drifts even with a light breeze and sickens vines, making them much more vulnerable to extremes of temperature.

While healthy plants, particularly native varietals and hybrids, seem to be able to handle up to -7 degrees Fahrenheit, all bets are off with weakened Vitis Vinifera vines whose fruit accounts for almost all fine wines.

Nonetheless, Cox insisted, “I’m still convinced the Texas High Plains can grow the best wines at the best price points in the world” because of the inherent quality of the terroir and how dirt cheap the dirt itself remains, certainly compared to AVAs like Napa and Sonoma and Europe’s famous wine regions. “There’s no physical reason we can’t if we just get some help.”

Eric Sigmund moved to the High Plains from Maryland only two years ago to become the chief operating officer for Vijay Reddy’s Reddy Vineyards, another one of region’s reference-standard growers. Although Sigmund lacks the long-term perspective of well-established vintners like Newsom or a Cox, he was around for what will forever remember as the “Halloween Massacre” of 2019, when an unusually frigid fall cold front blindsided them.

By comparison, he suggested, that scenario was much worse “because nothing had gone dormant. The plants were still green. Right now we’re cautiously optimistic even though there’s a lot of information that needs to be accessed and that process hasn’t even begun. Despite the worrisome things, there also some things to give us hope.”

Temperatures didn’t drop below zero as had been forecast and “there was snow, wind and pretty high humidity the week before, which we think will soften the impact. The ice accumulations on the vines a few days before should have acted as an insulator.”

Cox said last week’s polar vortex reminded him of “the winter of 1982-83, when we had 269 consecutive hours below freezing in Lubbock” However, that icy patch led to his Pheasant Ridge Winery “making some fantastic wines for two to three years afterwards. I still have no idea why it happened … The 54 inches of snow we got probably had a lot to do with it.”

Yates’ Hill Country neighbor, Sergio Cuadra, the Chilean-born winemaker for Fall Creek Vineyards (where Dotson makes his Dotson Cervantes wines), also offered reasons why growers in his area may have sidestepped a worst-case scenario.

“Because plant growth regulators occur inside each bud, we expect a result of this cold snap is actually a blessing for our vines resulting in an even bud-break,” Cuadra wrote in an online post. “That means we anticipate all buds emerging uniformly at the same time. An even beginning leads to even growth and even ripening of the grapes.

“Another positive effect that may result — according to a brother of mine that lived where negative Fahrenheit temperatures are the norm during the winter — is that the soils that have been frozen deeper than usual, become fluffier, lighter, easy to till, and better oxygenated. These changes to the soil occur after a deep freeze, due to the expanding ice that then leaves new empty spaces as it thaws. This is music to the ears of the vine’s root system.

“While it is way too soon to tell what the complete impact of this storm will be on our 2021 harvest, we believe our vineyards are off to a good start.”

When Dotson was reached by phone Saturday afternoon, he too was in a surprisingly upbeat mood despite dealing with a broken pipe or two and the looming uncertainties in his 30 acres of vines. Minutes earlier, he had sent his first post-freeze tasting room customers — New Zealanders who had recently moved to Austin from San Francisco — on their way.

“I never thought I’d think 56 degrees feels warm,” Dotson said. “We got down to nine degrees. In all my years (in Voca), it’s never been nine degrees. But today there’s bright sunshine. I see the blue sky above. And I made a sale!”

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Feb 22, 2021|Updated Feb 22, 2021 11:07 a.m.

The Neff Bro.’s Golden Ticket

Texas brothers, Stanley and Matthew Neff have both earned a coveted WSTR Heartland Finale Championship title.The Neff brothers have found their golden ticket to the WSTR Heartland Finales. In 2014, Matthew Neff won the #10 Heartland Finale with Rene Cervantes, and in 2015, Stanley won the #12 Heartland Finale with Nick Abbott. At those two ropings alone, they brought $39,860 back to the family’s Colorado City, Texas, ranch.“Learning to team rope has been like everything else in life. It takes a lot of time, dedicati...

Texas brothers, Stanley and Matthew Neff have both earned a coveted WSTR Heartland Finale Championship title.

The Neff brothers have found their golden ticket to the WSTR Heartland Finales. In 2014, Matthew Neff won the #10 Heartland Finale with Rene Cervantes, and in 2015, Stanley won the #12 Heartland Finale with Nick Abbott. At those two ropings alone, they brought $39,860 back to the family’s Colorado City, Texas, ranch.

“Learning to team rope has been like everything else in life. It takes a lot of time, dedication and try,” Stanley said. He and younger brother Matthew began team roping just four years ago.

The brothers have a ten-year age difference. Stanley has memories of growing up on a ranch split between Los Alamos, New Mexico, called La Voca, where they wintered and shipped their yearling cattle; and Dickens, Texas, where the family farmed dry land cotton and wintered cattle. When Stanley was about 6 years old, and his sister, Nicole, was about 3, their parents, Mickey and Sally, broke away from ranching to capitalize on the growing oil and gas industry in West Texas. The Neffs moved to Colorado City, where Matthew was born shortly after; and they built up their oil field service company, Holly Well Service, named for Mickey’s sister.

Mr. Neff expanded the company, making it one of the largest service companies in West Texas, until he sold it in 2012. Mickey and Sally returned to their ranching roots shortly after, and now own property in both Colorado City and Gail, Texas, for a combined 7,000 acres, where they run anywhere from 1,000-1,700 head of yearling cattle.

STANLEY NEFFDespite spending his younger years on the ranch, Stanley had yet to take an interest in roping. Instead, he filled his afternoons with golf, and made the varsity golf team all four years in high school. Stan opted out of playing golf while he attended South Plains College, where he received his associate degree. He went on to study Ag Business at Texas Tech in Lubbock, before returning to Colorado City where he followed in his dad’s entrepreneurial footsteps, and built up his own company, Stan’s Well Service, which he sold last fall.

“Team roping is a pretty expensive hobby, so once I had my business going, it made it a lot easier. Matt actually started roping three or four months before me, and he is the one that really encouraged me to start,” Stan said.

Stan is currently engaged to Mandy Smith, and they are set to marry next May.

MATTHEW NEFFLike his brother, Matthew also played golf all four years in high school, as well as playing football for his first two years. His junior year he traded his helmet for a cowboy hat and began roping, at the age of 17. From there, he went on to Western Texas College in Snyder, where he competed in the Southwest College Rodeo Region for two years before transferring to Texas Tech in Lubbock. Matthew has one more year of college rodeo eligibility, and will graduate in December with a Bachelor Degree of Ag Science.

“I have really liked going to the college rodeos,” Matthew said. “You get to see everybody and connect with people from different schools, which is something you don’t normally get to do if you just go to a team roping.”

Now days, the brothers are closer than ever, but Stan couldn’t help but laugh when asked if the two fought as children.

“Oh yeah. We fought all the time as kids, we didn’t really start getting along until Matt graduated high school,” Stanley said. “I remember one time he was bugging me to drive the golf cart around the ranch, so I told him to go ahead and go get in it. Sure enough he went and t-boned a tree. I got to meet my dad’s Tony Lama that day.”

As children, Matthew admits he may have been at fault for a few of the times his older brother got in trouble.

“I blamed him for everything, and he always had to take the brunt for anything that went bad.”

Get to Know: Stanley Neff

What is your rope of choice? The Classic Heat (Soft)

What is your favorite movie? Blazing Saddles has to be my all-time favorite. Step Brothers also comes to mind though, that’s a pretty good one.

What is your biggest fear? Spiders. I don’t like them at all, but I also really fear accidentally drinking out of someone’s spit cup.

What song are you most likely to sing karaoke to? Vanilla Ice: Ice, Ice Baby

What is your favorite professional sports team? I’m going to have to stick with my (Dallas) Cowboys.

What is your favorite vacation spot? Telluride, Colo. Especially in the winter.

Get to Know: Matthew Neff

What is your rope of choice? I filled my PRCA permit with a rope made by Sutton Ropes. It’s a prototype and doesn’t have a name yet, but it is similar to a GT4.

What is your favorite movie? The Shootist. (Starring John Wayne)

What is your biggest fear? Not reaching my goals or failing to reach my own standards.

What song are you most likely to sing karaoke to? Sir Mix A Lot: Baby Got Back

What is your favorite professional sports team? Either the Rangers or the Cowboys.

What is your favorite vacation spot? I love going to New Mexico, where La Voca used to be. It is in the mountains, we got to go a lot as kids, and it is truly something special.


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