OPINION: Texas rural lands evaporating at alarming rate

By State Rep. Justin Holland
Every year, Texas loses nearly 250,000 acres of land to development. Rural working lands that make up the wide-open spaces definitive of the Texas character are evaporating at an alarming rate.
Not only are these lands meant to be enjoyed by Texans, but they work every day to provide the food we eat and the water we drink. I consider it our responsibility as Texans and custodians of this land to pass on a state where my great-great-grandchildren will be able to enjoy the Texas outdoors, parks, wildlife and nature. That’s why I am proud to introduce landmark legislation in the Texas House calling for the creation of the Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The fund is a once-in-a-generation opportunity afforded to us because of the excess in our state’s Rainy Day Fund. As my colleagues and I carefully consider important priorities like infrastructure investment, we must also make a meaningful and lasting investment in Texas lands and waters.
Our state continues to attract new people and new industry. We are blessed to have weathered tough times and continue to be one of the nation’s strongest economies and attractive places to do business. Our economic success comes in part because of the unique lands that make up Texas. I truly believe that our land is our greatest asset, and it cannot be replicated once it is lost.
We must take bold steps to preserve the landscape and culture that makes Texas a great place to live. Texas is home to 7 of the top 15 most rapidly growing cities in the country. Research also shows that 78% of Texas counties will not have sufficient parks in the coming decades.
Texas needs additional parks, open spaces and natural habitats to preserve our quality of life, provide food and fiber and clean water, and to support the multibillion-dollar agricultural and outdoor recreation economy.
The Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund would provide a significant, long-term state funding source for enhanced conservation efforts across the Lone Star State. The $2 billion investment can be dedicated as either a trust fund or an endowment.
It would provide grants for projects that support, enhance and protect state and local parks and recreation areas, working agricultural lands, water resources, wildlife habitat areas, and more. The fund could support the acquisition of land to expand state parks.
The bill provides base eligibility guidelines for funded projects and ensures that 50% of the funds go toward the conservation of agricultural lands, water resources and wildlife habitat, while the other 50% of the funds go toward state and local parks, wildlife management areas and other public access conservation projects.
The legislation would also establish a governing board for the fund led by a representative from the General Land Office and including others from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and Texas Water Development Board.
More than 50 of the state’s leading land and water conservation, agricultural, wildlife and sportsmen’s organizations have formed the Texas Land and Water Conservation Coalition to support this effort. These groups represent thousands of Texans from all walks of life, connected by a desire to protect Texas for the next generation.
I am confident my fellow lawmakers will pass this important and historic measure and give Texas voters the opportunity to codify this investment with a constitutional amendment. We have a unique chance to fund meaningful land and water conservation that will echo for generations to come.
Justin Holland is a state representative from Rockwall. He wrote this for The Dallas Morning News.

Warhorse Robotics Team lands Rookie Inspiration award

On the team roster are: Jeremiah Cardenas, Brian Custodio, Hunter Erwin, Christian Esparza, Nathan Fuentes, Tommy Hinkle, Ted Hinkle, Eli James, Curtis Kuykendall, Ashley Mattke, Felix Mendoza, David Rendon, Ace Sosa, and Trinity Spurgers.

For the #FRC9311 Warhorse Robotics Team, this is their rookie year, competing in the FIRST In Texas District Qualifiers for the International FRC robotics competition.
“The heart that these kids have and how they work together (and sometimes apart) to achieve the best engineered robot is so impressive,” said one parent.
Last week, DHS Robotics went to Waco, and never before having been to a FRC, Warhorse Robotics finished 23 out of 41 teams. This past weekend they were in Belton. Working hard and working with 2 other teams to win alliances and move forward, these young students adapted and moved up the ranks.
Of 76 qualification rounds, the team played in 12 rounds. They placed in the top 8 teams. The team went into the finals as an alliance leader before getting knocked out in round 3 of the Finals.
With 3 more weeks of District Qualifying events happening across the state, the Warhorse Robotics team is just waiting to see if their score lands them in the top 80 out of 247 teams in the state. If so, Devine will compete at the FIT District Championships in Houston April 5th through the 8th.
They received the “Rookie Inspiration” Award at this event, celebrating the team’s outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers, both within their school, as well as in their community.
On the team roster are: Jeremiah Cardenas, Brian Custodio, Hunter Erwin, Christian Esparza, Nathan Fuentes, Tommy Hinkle, Ted Hinkle, Eli James, Curtis Kuykendall, Ashley Mattke, Felix Mendoza, David Rendon, Ace Sosa, and Trinity Spurgers.
Coach Jim Wilcox stated, “I am so proud of the way these kids can ‘adapt and overcome’. It’s something I try to teach to all my students, and it is especially gratifying to see it play out in the real world. The experience these kiddos get competing at this level is priceless. They improved exponentially from Week 1 in Waco to Week 2 in Belton. In Waco we were just trying to survive, then in Belton we were straight up competing. It was awesome to witness.”
“I’d like to give a special shout out to my young Freshman Programmer, Brian Custodio. He came to me often saying, ‘Mr. Wilcox, we have a problem,’ but with a little push, he ALWAYS figured out a solution to the problem. His perseverance is inspiring….I want to thank Mr. Gonzalez for giving us the push and backing to make this tremendous endeavor happen. I also need to thank HEB for their generous grant, Keely Construction for donating their services to build parts that the kids designed.”
If there is anyone else out in the community who wants to donate to this unique, people-building experience Devine Robotics would love to partner with you.
More about it….
We worked on the robot for 7 weeks, going from Idea, to Concept, Design, Prototype, then the Final Product.
The Robot weighs in at 92 lbs.
The Robot is comprised of a driving base and a vertical raise-and-lower arm assembly with a pneumatic end-effector used to pick up and place the air-filled cube and cone game pieces.
There is a 15 second autonomous period at the beginning of every match where the robot must go score points without human controls. The remaining 135 seconds is the “tele-op” period, where the kids have to drive and operate the robot to get game pieces and score points.
The kids have to be in an alliance with 2 other schools/teams for every match, so they have to strategize and cooperate. This type of gameplay is something that FIRST has coined “coopertition”.

Flyover Proposal…
Meyer and Woodson to be wed

Mr. Justin Meyer, of Jourdanton, and Ms. Summer Woodson, of Natalia, are happy to announce they are engaged.
This past Sunday, January 15th, Meyer pulled off the romantic flyover proposal of Summer’s dreams, with the help of his bride-to-be’s little sister Abigayle of course.
Ms. Woodson thought she was going on a lunch date before her little sister left for college, so with help from both families and their friends, they ran with it!
After getting her all dolled up for the lunch date, Justin (who is a helicopter pilot) told Summer that they needed to do an aerial check on animals at the ranch. At this point, she still had no idea what’s going on and no clue that her family and friends were waiting and holding the letters with the big question standing in the field.
As the couple flew over the trees, she asked why her dad’s truck was in that field…? As she looked closer she sees the big question on signs of friends and family members holding the posters spelling out: WILL YOU MARRY ME? They land and he went down on one knee with a ring, asking will you marry me? She said yes!
Summer Woodson, the bride-to-be, is a 2015 graduate of Natalia, Tx and 2019 graduate of Texas A&M International (TAMIU). She is the daughter of Dana and Willa Woodson of Natalia, TX and works for Natalia ISD.
Justin Meyer, fiancé, is a 2015 graduate of Jourdanton High School and graduated from flight school in 2017. He works as a helicopter pilot for the family-owned company Flying J Services out of Jourdanton, TX.
The groom-to-be is the son Joe and Monica Meyer of Jourdanton, Tx.
Congratulations to the happy couple….And let the wedding plans begin!

Rainey and Jack get a Winter Wonderland courtesy of friends and family

People from all over helped fulfill the wish list to create a Winter Wonderland on Malone Drive in the front yard of 6 year old Rainey Darling and her little 1 year old brother Jack in honor of their mother Caitlin Jaworowski who passed the prior week. Caitlin loved decorating for holidays, so Justin wanted to make sure it was ready for Christmas for their kids. A snow machine should arrive this week! Even the Grinch stopped by to help out. The Jaworowski and McKinney families appreciated all the love and support.
Rainey was so excited and danced around all the decorations in the yard in amazement. She also loved all the lights in the yard, on the house and in the trees. And, of course, the snowman on the garage door really made her smile! Photos by K.K.Calame

Happy 84th Birthday Eddie Hutzler

Claude “Butch” Morgan and his wife and friend celebrated Eddie Hutzler’s 84th Birthday with a personal concert in front of the historic Stroud’s Blacksmith Shop where Eddie spent many years. He now resides at a nursing home in Devine, but enjoys getting out and riding around town with Claude. Photo by Butch Cook.


By Kayleen Holder
and Jerel Beaty

Devine will celebrate homecoming this Friday and Saturday, and nobody has more school spirit than Devine High School Custodian Troy Tuttle! Tuttle has worked for Devine Independent School District for more than 23 years and counting!
We wanted to honor Troy during Nataional Custodians Week, and we did a short interview about why he loves working at Devine ISD so much.
“I like working to get a pay check, watching the football games, and helping other people,” Tuttle said.
His colleagues and students are always happy to see Troy’s smiling face come around the corner.
“Troy is a joy to have around because he always comes in with something on his mind…and he’s going to share it with you!” Athletic Director Jim Sessions stated, “He’s always enthusiastic and happy about it as well. He loves to joke around and he really cares how the kids did in their sporting events!
Of course, Troy will do anything you ask of him as well! He’s a great help around campus and in the office. I’m blessed to work with him, but I’m even more blessed to call him my friend!!”
Head Football Coach Paul Gomez added, “Troy is awesome around the team. On Thursdays when we watch film at the school Troy always comes in and gives them a peptalk! He always tells the boys to win and play hard!”
Coach Sessions also shared one of his favorite stories about Troy and how great he is.
“Well one great story with Troy and I was back when I was coaching softball 20 years ago…Troy always helped us set up the field and batting cages for practice…So one day, Coach Navarro could not get the key to open a lock on the building that had the pitching machine in. After a short time of Coach Navarro trying, and not being successful, and of course Troy and I giving him some grief, I said I would open it….Well I tried and tried to open the lock and couldn’t get it to work either. At that time, Troy stepped up, looked at the lock, walked off and came back and sprayed the lock with some WD-40 (where he got it, I have no idea), and Troy opened the lock right up! And, of course, he kept joking with us for the rest of the season about the day he opened the lock when we couldn’t!”

Season opening meeting of the Current Events Club

KK DuBose Calame, second from left, was the guest speaker at the Current Events Club meeting on September 13th. Hostesses for the meeting were (l to r) Kathleen Zadik, Judy Eaddy, and Cherri Budington. Also shown are antique cameras and an early painting of the Devine News Office. The Devine News is celebrating 125 years this year.

The Current Events Club met in the lovely home of Judy Eaddy on September 13th for their first meeting of a new season. After delicious refreshments, Kathleen Calame, publisher of the Devine News, presented the program entitled, “125 Years of the Devine News”. The newspaper is not only the official newspaper of Devine, but also the official newspaper of Natalia, Lytle, and LaCoste.
The Devine News was first published by George B. Holcombe for three months before W.L. DuBose purchased the paper in 1897 (traded a brand new horse and buggy) and the newspaper remains in the DuBose family to this day. K.K. DuBose Calame’s parents (Pat and Kitty DuBose) turned the paper over to her in 1999. KK’s daughter Kayleen Holder is the current editor of the paper, and fifth generation. KK shared many memories about the newspaper and brought some antiques from publishing past.
The upcoming drawing was discussed by club members. Tickets will be available at Walmart on September 17 and 24th, and in October on the first and 22nd.
Items for the drawing are: 1,000 pounds of deer corn, 500 pounds of deer corn, and a $300 gift card. Ticket cost is $5.00 or 5 tickets for $20. Tickets will be available and the drawing held at the Fall Festival on November 5th. Funds raised from the drawing will go to local causes, charities, and organizations and for two Devine High School scholarships.
Another item of business was the National Wreaths Across America Day. One may sponsor a wreath for $15 to be placed on a veteran’s grave this December 17th at the Devine Evergreen and St. Joseph Catholic Cemeteries. A ceremony will be held at cemeteries from Arlington, Virginia across the nation and then wreaths places on the graves of veterans. To sponsor a wreath honoring a veteran, you may go online to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/TX1147P. Posters across town have QR codes so donations may be made online. Current Events Club members will be at the October 1st Market Day in Devine to assist with orders.
The next club meeting on October 11th will be lunch and a trip to the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Antonio.

“A Kiss for Charity” book signing in Devine Saturday, Aug. 6 at 1pm

The experience of seeing her story come to life has been a “dream come true” for the local author Teresa “Reece” Villarreal.

Teresa “Reece” Villarreal is excited to announce her upcoming book signing on Saturday, August 6 at 1 pm at Bon Cafe in Devine.

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