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4-day event expected to bring cinematic grandeur to The Woodlands area

Tickets are still available for the inaugural Inspire Film Festival, which is running February 23-26 at several different Woodlands-area venues. The event will feature approximately 20 films over the four days that illustrate the power of one person to make great change in the world.

Festival director Jane Minarovic conceived of the festival as an opportunity to showcase films that deliver messages of inspiration to their audiences. She is a filmmaker herself who knows from experience what it takes to mount a successful film festival. “Besides the films themselves, Inspire will also include panel discussions, networking and social events, and special guests,” she said. The slates of films chosen for the festival are perfect for all adult audiences, as well as for younger audiences 12 years old and up.

Ticket packages range from $50 for a “Kindle Pass” – which allows entry to four screenings or events – or a “Spark Pass” for students, to $100 “Bonfire Passes” that allow entry to all screenings and select events, to $300 “Patron Passes” that allow full access to all screenings and events – including the VIP reception – during the festival. Additionally, Minarovic has announced two more tiers of tickets: A $20 single-film ticket, and a special “Bonfire Buy 2 Get 1 Free Pass.” Tickets can be purchased at, where people can also view a slate of the films and the accompanying planned activities.

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Today the four co-owners of VIP Surgical Center celebrated the groundbreaking of the state-of-the-art new facility being built in Conroe.

Pictured left to right are Brandon Belanger, Julie Smart, Fawn Creighton, and Cooper Collins.

VIP Surgical Center’s will integrate the latest healthcare technologies and philosophies to area residents. Its highly trained staff will offer cutting-edge free-standing surgery center facilities and are eager to provide physician partners and their patients with unsurpassed surgical care combined with first class comforts – resulting in a true VIP experience. The building will encompass a surgery center, an urgent care center, and an imaging center.


VIP Surgical Center will be located on FM 3083, just west of I-45.

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Engage your consumer, market your product, and build your brand… or else!

According to the Small Business Association, approximately two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least two years, but only fifty percent make it to the five-year mark.

So, why do small companies fail? Of the ten reasons the SBA cites for companies going out of business, four have to do with how the company markets its products and services. This is one of the reasons that Donna Wick is hosting her upcoming PR, Marketing, & Social Media Boot Camp for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs.

As the CEO and chief marketing strategist of WICKed Publicity, Donna Wick has assisted numerous companies with brand-building, marketing, public relations, social media, community engagement, and more.

“Failure to market, lack of differentiation of knowing one’s value proposition, identifying one’s consumer/market base and how to compete with similar businesses with greater market share directly relate to what one will learn at our boot camp,” said Donna.

On Saturday, February 18, Donna will allow people a glimpse into her considerable marketing, media and public relations mind as she hosts this second annual event – whose theme this year is Be a Goal Digger – that will take place at The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

“At this event, I’ll share insider tips on how to get booked on radio and television, get exposure in national magazines, achieve overnight ‘expert’ status, be a social media powerhouse, and engage customers,” said Donna. Her targeted audience is business owners, entrepreneurs and PR students alike.

Donna has honed her skills by focusing on the best aspects of public relations, marketing, and social media. “Our success formula is basically this: visibility plus engagement equals conversion,” she said. “Conversion is key; that’s where the money is made. I can help business owners learn how to generate their own visibility and engagement in this boot camp workshop.”

Tickets to the event are available at $125 each ($99 for WOAMTEC members), or $150 at the door. To reserve your spot, call 832-928-5897 or go to The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce is located at 9320 Lakeside Boulevard in The Woodlands.


Donna Wick is CEO, publicist and media strategist for Wicked Publicity. She is also host of the “It’s All About You – It’s All About Ye” radio show heard on 1110 KTEK Wall Street Radio Network. Learn more about Donna at or

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Charming Charlie will be hosting Children's Books On Wheels ‘For The Love Of Literacy Day’ on Sunday, February 12, from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. at Market Street in the heart of The Woodlands.

“This is an annual event that is graciously sponsored by a different local business each year,” said Rita Wiltz, executive director of CBOW. “Our intent is to raise donations for area children with special needs for their school, and since Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching this is a perfect time to shop for that holiday and also to help us meet the needs of these children.” Proceeds from the event will directly support educational literacy for at risk youth.

Volunteers from the local Exxon-Mobil campus will also be present at the event to assist and educate customers. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Charming Charlie is located at Market Street – 9595 Six Pines Drive, Suite 1140, The Woodlands. For more information, contact Rita Wiltz at 281-844-7596 or email

Established in 2004, Children’s Books on Wheels, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that promotes literacy through an array of mobile education, health and financial literacy services for the people of Montgomery, Walker, Waller, Austin and Colorado counties. All services are in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. To learn more about Children’s Books on Wheels, visit or call 281-844-7596. 

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Jane Minarovic, director of the inaugural Inspire Film Festival, today announced the current slate of Woodlands-area community leaders that are the latest sponsors of the event that is taking place February 23-26 at several different Woodlands-area venues. The Inspire Film Festival will feature approximately 20 films over the four days that illustrate the power of one person to make great change in the world.

“The sponsorships from these business owners, philanthropists, and film lovers alike came from their joint desire to highlight not only The Woodlands area, but also the films and filmmakers presented in this festival that showcase all that is best of the human spirit,” said Minarovic.

Besides the films themselves, Inspire will also include panel discussions, networking and social events, special guests, and a VIP reception. Ticket packages range from $50 to $300 and can be purchased at

The current list of sponsors include:

  • The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • 30 Degrees North Advertising and Marketing
  • West of Honey Event Architecture
  • The Woodlands United Methodist Church
  • Crush Wine Lounge
  • Glade Gallery
  • Arena Energy
  • TWICO A division of The Woodlands Financial Group
  • Sure Care At Home
  • Pisula Development Company
  • Interfaith of The Woodlands
  • Bailey Law Firm
  • Sam Houston State University’s Department of Mass Communications
  • The Woodlands Arts Council
  • Waste Management
  • The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra

The concept of a film festival whose sole purpose is to inspire its audiences has already caught the attention of leaders in both the film industry and the community itself. “What Jane is doing is exciting, and I'm confident the community will love the festival,” said Congressman Kevin Brady, who represents The Woodlands area in the United States House of Representatives. “The Inspire Film Festival is further testament to the arts explosion happening in The Woodlands and will continue to bring positive cultural and economic impact year after year.” 

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Manier’s Limited First Edition Interactive Children’s Book with Toy Giraffe: Pre-order Available!

THE WOODLANDS, TX (January 26, 2017) – Eco-Artist Grant Manier (maun-yay), a 21-year-old, award-winning artist who is living with autism, is publishing his first storybook, Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe: Different Is MORE, which includes Interactive Smart Phone technology and a plush toy giraffe.

Grant created the artwork shown within the book about a giraffe that is born different and follows his passion to be a talented artist, despite his challenges. Each book purchased is personally autographed by the author and illustrator, Grant and Julie Manier.

“This heartfelt story resonates with anyone who feels different, but not less... they’re MORE,” said Julie Manier, founder of Grant’s Eco Art, as well as Grant’s mother. “The giraffe is meant to represent Grant and his real life circumstances of living with special differences.”

In addition, the book includes smart phone interactive technology; the book reader receives a virtual experience to meet the author and artist by downloading a free phone app and pointing the phone at the cover and the zoo animals within the book. Plus, short videos are included about the making of the art by Grant Manier.

The technology that is associated with this book has already received the Silicon Valley of the South in Texas’ STEM (STEAM) 2020 Excellence Award. This award will be presented to Grant on Friday, February 3 at the STEM NFL Super Bowl Celebration by Ray Lewis, an NFL Super Bowl winner.

Pre-orders for Grant’s Limited First Edition collection are being taken as part of a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. Extra products and a numbered series are given to participants. To reserve a copy of the Jigsaw Grant book and stuff toy Giraffe, visit and use the Indiegogo campaign button to pre-order.

While living with autism, Grant Manier has helped the environment by using recycled items for his work and led the way for special needs skills and art therapy. Because he uses recycled materials with cool colors, cool shapes, and cool textures, Grant calls his masterpieces, “COOLAGES”.

Not only is Grant an eco-artist, he is also a motivational speaker who has raised over $150,000 for great causes, encouraging and engaging his audience with his own distinct art style and message. His story personifies a child growing up with a “quirky” behavior, maturing into a young adult, and finding his way as he transitions independently into the world of adulthood.

“Grant has a long-term vision to create packaging, labeling and shipping jobs for his fellow friends as his business grows.” Julie Manier said.

To request Grant to speak at your next event, or have Grant demonstrate his art to your school, club or organization, contact Grant or visit his Calendar of Events on his website at

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The fallout from a single crash can reach untold victims not even present at the scene

THE WOODLANDS, TX (January 18, 2017) – Recently, an horrific traffic accident occurred on Houston’s Southwest Freeway when Victor Manuel Garcia drove his large truck the wrong way, causing a chain reaction that left one woman dead and numerous others injured, including a three-year-old girl critically. Garcia was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter.

“Actually, to call this an ‘accident’ is a misnomer,” said Mike Seiler, a Woodlands-based criminal and civil defense attorney. “Incidents such as this can impact many more people than those who were involved in the actual occurrence.”

Seiler likens intoxicated driving incidents to a pebble thrown into a pond’s calm surface. “The ripples radiate outward from that one epicenter, and it’s a lot of time and distance before those ripples finally dissipate.”

In the case of Victor Garcia, it will be some time before the full effects are felt on all parties involved – some of whom that don’t even know they are involved. “Assuming Garcia is found guilty, he will be directly responsible – criminally – for the physical damage, injury and death he caused,” said Seiler. “Additionally, he can be sued in civil court to provide financial recompense to all of his victims.”

Seiler has been on all sides of the courtroom – as judge, prosecutor and defender. He points out that, because the standard of proof is different in a civil case than a criminal case, it is much more likely to be held financially accountable for a DWI even if the accused is cleared of criminal charges. “Look at the O.J. Simpson case; the criminal prosecution couldn’t establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, they were able to establish a civil preponderance of the evidence, and Simpson was found liable for the deaths he was accused of, even though he was acquitted in criminal court.”

Beyond the perpetrator of a DWI and the victims directly impacted by it, the circles can spread to others who are miles and hours away from the incident. “A bar owner or restaurant manager – and the people working who did the serving – can be held criminally and civilly liable for contributing to the incident,” said Seiler. “These people are in need of proper legal counsel as much as the accused and the victims.”

The ripples spreading from the DWI can have long-lasting and profound effects on all involved. “If the accused is convicted, they will have significant issues in their current or future employment, as well as their finances. The victims may have physical injury and/or emotional trauma that will need addressing for months or years to come. If you’re involved any way – directly or indirectly – in any aspect of a DWI, it is vital that you immediately secure legal counsel to mitigate the damage.”

Mike Seiler is an attorney specializing in criminal and civil defense for Montgomery County and surrounding areas. He is one of very few attorneys in the region that have enjoyed successful careers in all three aspects of a courtroom – prosecutor, judge and defender. For more information on Seiler, visit or call (281) 419-7770.


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Local nonprofit organization will provide free tax-filing assistance for those in need

Now more than ever, uncertainty reigns with the United States Tax Code. The integration of the Internal Revenue Service with federally mandated healthcare plans, as well as the tax ramifications of last year’s flooding, have left many taxpayers scratching their heads and – worse – hesitant to file. In order to bring relief to Montgomery County area residents, Children’s Books On Wheels, a local nonprofit organization is helping relieve some of the burden by offering free tax assistance. “We hope our planned Super Tax Day event will help as many in the community as we can,” said Rita Wiltz, executive director of CBOW.

The organization’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – or VITA – program provides free expert tax assistance from IRS-certified volunteers. CBOW is hosting a VITA clinic on Saturday, January 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Conroe Central Library, located at 104 Interstate 45 North in Conroe. “Our trained volunteers will be there to help them sort through this confusing time and provide some much-needed clarity and relief,” said Wiltz.

The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Assistance is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sign up in-person at the library. No advance reservations are accepted and no tax advice or assistance is available over the phone.

Many of the common tax forms are available and free at branches of the library, and others are downloadable from the IRS Web site.

What to Bring

  • Proof of identification (Photo ID)
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earnings statements (W-2s, 1099s, etc.)
  • Interest and dividend statements
  • Copy of last year’s tax returns
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit, such as a blank check
  • Total paid to daycare provider and provider’s tax ID number
  • Affordable Health Care statements (1095-A, B, or C)
  • Both spouses must be present to sign joint return
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

Additional Information

To view/download forms, instructions and publications, click here:

To order forms by U.S. mail, click here:

For more information, visit:

Established in 2004, Children’s Books on Wheels, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that began with a mission to promote literacy by providing books to children in at-risk, low income, rural, underdeveloped and urban settings. Since then, its vision has expanded to include an array of mobile education, health and financial literacy services for the people of Montgomery, Walker, Waller, Austin and Colorado counties. All services are in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. To learn more about Children’s Books on Wheels, visit or call (281) 844-7596.

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State of the Art Shows is teaming up with local musician and radio DJ Robin Kirby to present Last Sunday’s at RockStar. Last Sunday’s will feature visual art, live music, and personal interviews with Houston’s best artists. The first show of the year will be the last Sunday of the month, January 29, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 5700 NW Central, Houston, Texas 77092.

Native Houstonian Vena Ashley graduated from Sam Houston State in 2006 with a BFA, double major, in Advertising Graphic Design and Photography; after, she worked as a graphic designer until October of 2013. She then decided to finally take the first step at being a full time artist and showed at her first Art Crawl at the Atelier Jacquinet in November 2013. She has been showing and producing art and shows ever since. Ashley started State of the Art Shows after she put on a successful themed art show called No Place Like that Yellow Brick Road, in March 2015. Since then, State of the Art Shows has held two art shows and competitions at MATCH – Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston.

Robin Kirby will bring her monthly live radio show, The Music Highway. She will feature musicians from all over, including our very own Houston rock stars. Robin’s main focus is spotlighting art, music, news, and interviews from top Indie, Local, and Touring musicians, artists, songwriters and bands. Kirby is also an original soul singer, songwriter, and musician with bright upbeat musical grooves and "here-I-go-again" storylines. She plays original music with an original sound.

Classical guitarist, Andrew Bateman will be the featured musician for the inaugural show on January 29. He has been performing throughout the greater Houston area for over a decade. Bateman brings flamenco, folk, contemporary, rock, blues and jazz and more combine to create a style that retains an upscale ambience while inviting patrons to let their hair down and have a good time. It’s upscale, not uptight.

Last Sunday’s at RockStar will take place every last Sunday of the month from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at RockStar Gallery, 5700 NW Central, Houston Texas 77092. January 29, 2017 will be the first of many amazing events, bringing Houston artist together with live music and radio. If you can not make it to the show,, listen in online at Stiletto Broadcasting.

For more information or to apply for the show, visit For band bookings and topic interviews, please contact


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Local attorney points out how easy it can be to risk it all on one wrong celebration

New Year’s celebrations can be entertaining and extremely memorable events, but going overboard by excessively drinking and deciding to drive can turn out to be very costly. One particular problem plaguing partiers, according to local criminal and civil defense attorney Mike Seiler, is that ignorance reins when it comes to DWI offenses.

“Not only do many people not know how severely a drunk-driving charge can negatively impact their lives, but they also are largely unaware about what it takes to get them over the legal limit,” said Seiler. “Everyone getting in their cars on New Year’s Eve are absolutely convinced that they are sober.”

Seiler has some points of interest for those who do make the irrevocably irresponsible decision to overindulge in drinking this weekend. “Here are a few things to seriously consider.”

  • As with any criminal charge, a person charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If guilt is established (often through the defendant’s own plea or after a jury trial), the penalty will depend on state law, as well as on any aggravating circumstances (such as the presence of an open bottle of liquor in the car) and the defendant’s cooperation with the police.
  • In all states, first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, and punishable by up to six months in jail. That jail time may be increased under certain circumstances.
  • First Offense – After your first DWI offense in Texas, you may be fined up to $2,000 and spend between three and 180 days in jail. Additionally, your license may be suspended for up to two years, and there may be an annual surcharge of as much as $2,000 to keep your license for three years.
  • A number of states’ court sentences may include alcohol teaching and prevention programs, treatment for alcohol abuse, assessment of a person for possible alcohol or drug dependency or addiction, and community service or victim restitution. The judge may recommend these steps instead of jail time or paying fines, most likely for a first offender. Or the judge may combine them with other penalties. In Texas, for example, minors convicted of a DUI must perform community service, in addition to any other penalties.
  • For a DUI or DWI that’s been classified as a felony – either because the driver killed or injured someone or because it’s the driver’s third or fourth DUI – jail sentences of several years are not uncommon. Again, this depends on state law, the facts of the case, and the discretion of the judge at trial.

Mike Seiler has been on all sides of the courtroom – as judge, prosecutor and defender – and he knows the ugly reality of DWI convictions. “Your DWI problems don’t end at the arrest,” said Seiler. “This type of conviction will have an extreme adverse effect on your current job, your ability to obtain new employment, and, of course, your finances.”

Montgomery County’s “No Refusal” policy means that drivers who refuse to submit to sobriety testing will then be targeted for warrants to obtain blood samples, which will be used as evidence for a conviction. “No scientific tests are 100 percent accurate,” said Seiler. “These tests are being performed by human beings, often in the middle of the night. Mistakes do happen.”

These are a few tips for protecting yourself in the event you do find yourself pulled over:

  • Less is more. If you are being detained, don’t say anything. Everything is being recorded by law enforcement and can be used against you in the courtroom.
  • Call a lawyer. From the moment you are pulled over, your every move will be scrutinized. Call a lawyer to represent and advise you through the process.
  • Politely decline a sobriety test. If you have reason to be concerned, you can decline taking the test. If you are in Montgomery County where the “No Refusal” policy is in effect, you can opt to blow into the meter and face the possibility of being arrested. Or you can refuse and await the blood sample warrant. Your attorney can advise you throughout this process.
  • Cooperate with law enforcement at all times. There is no need to escalate a DWI stop into something worse. Be polite and respectful at all times. You don’t need a motivated peace officer calling up the District Attorney’s office to make sure you get what he or she thinks you have coming.

“Knowing your rights is your best defense,” said Seiler. “When that isn’t enough, contact an experienced, proven attorney who will fight to defend your rights on your behalf.”

Mike Seiler is an attorney specializing in criminal and civil defense for Montgomery County and surrounding areas. He began his legal career as a prosecutor, working for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office for 16 years before being appointed to the 435th District Court by Governor Rick Perry. He resigned from the bench in 2016. Today, Seiler enjoys traveling around the state of Texas representing clients in all types of cases. He is one of very few attorneys in the region that have enjoyed successful careers in all three aspects of a courtroom – prosecutor, judge and defender. For more information on Seiler, visit or call (281) 419-7770.