Elections this Saturday, May 7 for City of Devine, City of Lytle, Devine ISD and Statewide

Four different elections are taking place this Saturday, May 7, 2022 in our area. City of Devine voters in District 4 can vote, all voters in Devine ISD can vote, and all voters in the City of Lytle can vote in those elections. Statewide all voters can vote in the Special Constitutional Amendment elections hosted in their county.

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Lytle discusses 80 foot sign, showing IHOP as proposed tenant near I-35


On April 11th, the Lytle City Council was held at 6:30pm. Starting with the pledge of allegiance, the meeting included a discussion on street names and the history behind the street name that the city recently removed/replaced.

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City of Lytle election May 7

Mayor Ruben Gonzalez faces challenger Tom Cate
Michael Rodriguez and Marshall Witter face off for District 4

In the city newsletter, Lytle mentioned that the elections would be held by the three (3) counties. Due to unforeseen problems, this is no longer the case. The city will be holding the elections instead.
The purpose for this election is to vote for Aldermen for Districts 4 & 5 and a Mayor.
Incumbent Mayor Ruben Gonzalez faces challenger Tom Cate, the longtime City Attorney for Lytle.
Newcomers Michael Rodriguez and Marshall D. Witter are facing off for the District 4 seat after incumbent Jerry Stone did not file for re-election.
District 5 Councilman Charles Cate is unopposed.
The good thing is that all the voting, early and election day, will be held at the Lytle City Hall located at 14916 Main Street, downtown.
Early voting will be held April 25th thru May 3rd from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
On election day, May 7 the polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
All voting for the City of Lytle alderman and mayoral elections will be at City Hall.
A new voting machine was approved. Paper ballots will be used and hand counted.
Early voting is April 25 through May 3. Votes can be cast at Lytle City Hall, located at 14916 Main Street, Lytle.
Lytle ISD- The Lytle ISD election was canceled due to all unopposed candidates.

County offers 50% tax break to Volta

Medina County Commissioners voted April 7 to allow County Judge Chris Schuchart to negotiate and offer Volta LLC a tax break to locate near Yancey.
Schuchart told the Devine News that he is offering Volta a 50 percent tax break over a five year period. School and state taxes would not be affected, nor would road and bridge funds. Judge Schuchart clarified that it would be a 50% abatement for everything above the current tax revenue which was $9,500 a year.
Volta, based in Houston, is a leading manufacturer of industrial power systems. According to Dun and Bradstreet, the company generates $70.9 million in sales annually.
“They expect to provide 50 jobs in the first year, and eventually up to 140 jobs,” Schuchart said in a short phone interview

ESD4 to expand helipad, loses backup ambulance in Moore

ESD#4 treasurer Billy Alvarado, foreground, and assistant treasurer Juan Zamora measuring the existing helipad at the ambulance district headquarters. Improvements will also be made to the driveway leading up to the helipad to make it safer for transferring patients. Photo by Anton Riecher.

Medina County’s Emergency Service District No. 4 board of directors agreed April 5 to extensive cost cutting regarding proposed helipad improvements at the ambulance headquarters in Devine.
The board dropped a proposal calling for a 92½-foot square, six-inch deep concrete helipad with extensive lighting in favor of extending the existing 20-foot square helipad with an additional 10 feet in skirting, possibly using concrete
Further improvements would be made to slope the driveway approaching the helipad to allow better access. Lighting improvement would be limited to illumination of the helipad wind sock.
Following a presentation by ESD No. 4 Treasurer Billy Alvarado on anticipated costs, the board voted unanimously to appoint Alvarado manager of the project based on his background in construction.
Alvarado said the cost of the suggested Federal Aviation Administration approved helipad could be as much as $80,000.
“Just in concrete alone we would be looking at about $30,000 to $40,000,” he said.
However, nothing states that the helipad in Devine needs to meet full FAA standards, he said. Instead, Alvarado suggested making use of the existing helipad in the proposed expansion.
“The pad right now is 20 feet by 20 feet,” Alvarado told the board. “The slab is solid with no cracks.”
As previously proposed, the 92 square foot pad would require a system of eight landing lights around the perimeter. Each of those lights cost $650 to $1,000, Alvarado said.
“These helicopters have big spotlight that can light up the approach,” he said.
Money saved on the pad size and lighting might be applied instead to improving the headquarters parking lot sloping up to the pad, he said.
Alvarado accepted the project manager position with the understanding that he may be moving outside the ESD No. 4 district in the near future. The move would require him to step down from the ESD No. 4 board, he said.
A response time report for March submitted by Allegiance District Chief Patrick Bourcier showed a total of 188 calls for the month of which 117 were in the Devine area. Overall response time averaged seven minutes with 43 percent within five minutes, 32 percent between six and nine minutes and 25 percent requiring 10 minutes or more.
In the Devine area, response time averaged six minutes. Eighty-one percent of Devine area calls required a response time of nine minutes or less. Only 19 percent required a response time of 10 minutes or more.
Board members questioned Bourcier with regard to an increase in calls originating in the Lytle. Primary ambulance service for that area is provided by Atascosa County with ESD No. 4 ambulances called in to handle the overflow.
“The call volume in that area, Lytle, has increased dramatically,” Bourcier said. He said he expected that trend to continue as more subdivisions open in that area.
In other business matters, Bourcier approached the board about setting up its own Internet account to handle the ESD No. 4 website. The website is currently maintained by Crux Technologies, a company affiliated with Allegiance.
A treasurer’s report submitted by ESD administrator Christy Merendon showed the district with a balance of $699,343 split between two banks. At Community National Bank money is split between $231,715 in an operating account and $125,002 in a savings account. At Security State Bank the district holds a money market account containing $237,999 and a certificate of deposit for $104,625.
Editors Note: The ESD 4 currently funds two full time ambulances to serve the Devine and Natalia area at a cost of $17,666 per month. The ambulance that was in Moore pulled out in recent months, so we no longer have that nearby back up unit which was being offered by Allegiance free of charge for a short time.
Several months ago, Devine Fire Chief Greg Atkinson addressed the ESD to let them know that Devine VFD hasn’t had any trouble landing helicopters on the existing pad, and many times, the helicopter lands right on the scene of an accident instead. He acknowledged that the EMS company does a good job, but he suggested that the residents of ESD4 would be better served by increasing the number of ambulances in Devine/Natalia based on some the response times to the calls he has helped with. Another citizen, echoed that sentiment, sharing how long her family waited for an ambulance on two separate occasions in the past few years.
ESD 4 Board meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month unless otherwise posted.

By Anton Riecher
Devine News Correspondent

City of Lytle renames ‘Easy Street’ to
‘Ruiz-Foster Way’ for two respected coaches

City Councilman Sam Cortez, City Council Alderman Charles Cate, Coach Gilbert Ruiz, Coach Hadley Foster, Mayor Ruben Gonzalez and City Councilman David Emery stand beneath the newly unveiled Ruiz-Foster Way street sign.

On Friday, April 8, 2022, at the intersection Easy St. and Laredo St. in front of Lytle ISD’s Walter H. Joyce, Jr. Stadium, a crowd of more than 100 people gathered to honor and celebrate two Lytle ISD coaches, Hadley Foster and Gilbert Ruiz.

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‘Ruiz-Foster Way’ for two respected coaches”

Concerns over fire and subdivision regulations sparks attention of county’s need to revisit rules

In the wake of the 1,000-acre plus Das Goat wildfire in March, fire protection became a hot topic April 7 when Medina County Commissioners reviewed progress on various subdivisions under development.

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Lytle to require “Traffic Impact Analysis” prior to future developments, seeks “holistic” review of ordinances as they brace for growth

The March 28th Lytle city council meeting began with the pledge of allegiance at 6:30pm. All were present for the meeting including Joseph Morrow, Alderman District 1; Sam Cortez, Alderman District 2; David Emery, Alderman District 3; Jerry Stone, Alderman of District 4; Charles Cate, Alderman District 5 and Mayor Ruben Gonzalez. The meeting included continued discussions of the creation of an emergency plan for Lytle City, the authorization of the issuance of the City’s General obligation refunding bonds and the extension of building permits for two construction projects.
Levying an annual property tax
The meeting started off with the discussion of taking action on an ordinance authorizing the issuance of the City’s General Obligation refunding bonds, series 2022. The authorization of this ordinance would levy an annual ‘ad valorem tax’ or property for the payment of the bonds.
Andrew Friedman, Managing Director at SAMCO Capital Markets, stepped up to represent Lytle City as their financial advisor and headed the discussions with thorough explanations on the situation at hand.
“Been a month since we briefed you on the refunding opportunity,” Friedman said. “You gave us a green light to proceed and to see if we could refinance this debt without extending its amortization and save a little bit of money for the outstanding bond of the city or GO’s.”
Publically, as of 2019 the city of Lytle had a nominal outstanding general obligation (GO) debt of $1, 270, 000, which is $414 per capita over the past ten years up to that point. The issue Friedman was attempting to address with the council.
“We put this (GO debt) out for a competitive private placement bid to all of the banks locally and around the state and country that purchase municipal bonds to buy and to hold for the life of the bonds,” Friedman said. “One of the reasons for doing that rather than going out and doing a traditional bond underwriting as we did with the 2013 GOs that we’re funding right now is it’s a small amount, there’s less $960,000 in those obligations outstanding. So it’s an effort to save as much money as possible and keep costs as low as possible.”
Friedman said they were going to be competitive about receiving these bids, only giving bidders that very day until noon an opportunity to reach out with plans to award to the lowest bidder
“You can see we’ve received three bids,” Friedman said.“The best bid came from Amegy Bank at an interest rate of 2.79% percent. We had other bids from Truest and then TIB, The Independent Bank. So what you can see from here is that the winning bid is 2.79%. If we hadn’t gotten their bid, the best bid would have been 2.99%.”
Despite finding a satisfying interest rate through their bids Friedman still had some concerns to share about those rates in the coming future as the city continued towards paying off the GO.
“I’m sure anybody reading the news has seen that interest rates are going up,” Friedman said. “We’ve got inflation that continues to hammer away at the economy, the federal reserve has taken action and raised their federal funds rate, which is the base rate, and what that does is generally send interest rates higher. They also indicated last week when they did bump those interest rates up that they may do so many more times in 2022 as they try to get a handle on inflation.”
Friedman said that he believes interest rates will likely continue to go up in the long term and that other economists also predict that the economy may also be heading towards a potential recession, another potential issue to be prepared for.
“With all of that being said 2.79% was a higher interest rate than what we had looked at a month ago,” Friedman said. “We were hoping that interest rates weren’t going to go up quite as fast as they have been, but the refunding still works…But if we’re looking to go with the final interest rate of 2.79% we received today, we’ll save $630,556 between now and 2033. So you can see on that table on the right side that the annual savings will be between $7000 and $5000 a year over the next several years.”
Happy with this number, the council accepted the bid and approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance of the City’s General Obligation refunding bonds.
Re-zoning of Lytle Farms Property
Moving on, the council then addressed a recommendationfrom the zoning committee on the re-zoning of Lytle Farms property. Emilie Weissler, Director of Land Use and Development at Killen, Griffen&Farrimond stood before the council on behalf of the Lytle Farms developer and property owners to help discuss the recommendation of the zoning committee on the properties re-zoning.
“We are requesting your support for rezoning from r1 to v2 on the just over 40-acre parcel off of 2790,” Weissler said. “This is to facilitate commercial development along the frontage of 2790 and then a 99 duplex block development.”
According to Weissler, the commercial development planned for that area would include a mix of neighborhood retail, medical offices, professional offices and small restaurants with the hopes of brining in new residents.
The re-zoning was approved and the council moved onto their next item.
Traffic Impact Analysis Ordinance
A traffic impact analysis (TIA) is a study prepared to help gauge the possible impact a proposed development on the roadways and to determine if said roadways may need any improvements to maintain operation once the development is put in place. According to Alderman David Emery, Lytle City doesn’t require developers to get one of these before development yet, potentially opening doors to issues for the city down the line.
“Right now, we do not have an ordinance that directs the developers to make improvements on the roads and the intersections adjacent to the properties they developed and other cities,” Alderman Emery said. “Most of the cities have this, so it’s important that we consider going out for bids to get an ordinance drawn up for us because developers, if they see we’re sitting down here with no ordinance and they jump in real quick and get all the approvals to build and develop, the roads may not be adequate to support the ingress and egress from these new communities.”
Alderman Emery added that intersections are especially important in this, as they are a big point for traffic.
“The ordinance would need to be written in such a way that they do surveys to count the number of additional vehicles moving past certain points at intersections,” Emery said. “Where they think the turning areas are and how much the new developments are going to increase this traffic to a certain degree.”
Alderman Emery then invited Devin Simpson, P.E. Civil engineer at Kimley-Horn up to clean up a bit on his explanation.
“You know, when you see development starting what your residents start to feel first is the pressures of traffic,” Simpson said. “And all the municipalities surrounding San Antonio, San Antonio itself…All these small municipalities usually what they’re late to getting to is requiring a traffic effect analysis from these developers.
Simpson explained that having an ordinance requiring a TIA would just be one way of allowing the developers to take a little bit of responsibility of the traffic impact their developments may bring and negate these effects to whatever traffic rules the city decides to set for them. Using an example of how San Antonio set it’s traffic rules to only accept a 20% delay, she continued the conversation.
“I’ll give you an example of how the city of San Antonio does … you’ve got to you know for the smallest level TIA you’ve got to study within a mile and a half of your site and if that intersection carries more than 76 peak hour trips, that’s talking about the am or the pm peak hour, if the impact of the intersection increases delay (of traffic) more than 20% they have to provide improvements to the intersection whether that be adding turn lanes or installing a traffic signal to mitigate it to get it back to that 20% threshold,” Simpson said. “All of that has to be within that roughly proportionate value (20%), so if they could only do one turn lane within that value that’s all they would do. If they could do, you know, everything they would do all of that. But it would all be determined by the city.”
The council approved the request for proposals to develop a traffic impact analysis ordinance.
Request for Qualified Engineering Firms
The council then followed this up by approving the advertising for the request of qualified engineering firms to perform a review and diagnostic of the code of ordinances and policies. Once again, the topic was passed over to Simpson for further clarification.
“Another thing we’ve been talking about is looking at your code more holistically, ” Simpson said. “Just with all the growth coming. Where are the holes at? You know, where are the things that need to start being improved upon, updated or just outdated information so we can start getting ahead of that.”
Simpson further explained to the council that updating a code is a big endeavor that could take years and can be costly, so the best way for the city to go about addressing the code is to pinpoint and address the biggest priorities primarily.
“I think we already called out the TIA ordinance being one of them,” Simpson said. “The zoning, that basically comes next. Then what after? Is it the plating procedure; is it your subdivision code? So just doing a holistic review of the code to figure out where you need to start kind of filling in holes may be the best answer for now.”
Agreeing with her sentiment, Alderman Charles Cate then added his own reasons on why it would be a good idea to approve a review and diagnostic of the code.
“My concern is that, provided our infrastructure is not where it needs to be here in the next two to three years, that as a city we’re able to mitigate (not that we necessarily want to prohibit it) but control and protect ourselves in the event that we say ‘hey, there are construction delays’ or whenever COVID 3.0 comes around or whatever,” Alderman Cate said.
This action was approved.
Request for variance on gas station sign height
Victory Signs sent in a request for a variance on the height of their gas station sign off of the IH 35 and FM 3175 for the council to consider, setting their desired height limits to be somewhere around 75 and 80 feet tall. Concerned about how the overall look of the sign, height included, might affect the people living nearby it; Alderman Cate requested an artist rendition of the sign.
“Do we have an artist’s conception of what that’s going to look like?” Alderman Cate said. “I mean, are we going to be able to see it from Lacoste? I mean, my concern is that we’ve got this sign glowing in the middle of the night; you know for people it’s going to be like a lighthouse. I get it. It’s going to be on the side of the highway, they’re trying to draw people in, but at the same time for me it’s the light pollution. People living out in the country, they don’t want to see some towering, monstrosity of a sign. So that’s my concern, I want to be able to know what it’s going to look like before we grant them a variance…”
Agreeing with Alderman Cate the council voted instead to table the item until Victory Signs provided them with an artist rendition of what the sign would look like.
Contract for Emergency Management
Re-visting the Lytle City emergency plan once more, Cumorah Eldredge was next to stand before the council with a newly edited version of the contract ready to present.
“I just want to remind the council we’re not here to approve the writing of the emergency plan,” Eldredge said. “It was done months ago by council so this is strictly to approve the contract and because of that we’ve gone ahead and accepted all of the notes that were provided by Tom Cate with the exception of the time frame. We’ll be keeping six months time frame.”
Starting off with a clarification of in what amount of time they planned to have the emergency plan fully written, Eldredge then moved on to also clarify that their creation of an emergency plan for Lytle City wouldn’t necessarily mean dropping Atascosa’s entirely.
“So we wouldn’t actually be getting out of that (plan), we would just simply be providing our own in addition to that,” Eldredge said. “…We would have a local one and then a county one. Most cities have their own city plan and then they fall under whatever county. Of course San Antonio and Bexar County…things like that.”
From there, Eldredge said, the County would then fall under the state and all contracts involve mirror each other in a way working together. The city of Lytle would have multiple emergency plans to fall back on in a situation where Lytle’s plan may not cover enough.
“It is important especially seeing as how the city of Lytle is in three different counties,” Eldredge said.“If something were to happen, I mean at the school we find it challenging. Do we call Medina County or Atascosa County? Our campus… it’s in two different counties, so it’s really important to have something that we can all kind of do together. Then if we remember back to COVID the county provided vaccines and things like that, but we had to go all the way to Irvington to get those. Well I remember sitting in on an emergency management meeting and it’s just not possible for some of our elderly folks to get there and things like that and so if we had our own we could have provided something here locally for our own folks.”
Eldredge then went on to say that currently they were only working on a basic plan which would cost the city about $10,000 to create, with the price going up if Lytle chose to go further somewhere down the road. A price raise the city could only calculate once the council actually chose to go beyond a basic plan.
The council approved the acceptance of the contract, with all votes in favor except for Alderman Charles Cate who voted ‘no.’
The Zavala request for extension on building permit
With everything in place, electricity, water and some indoor painting jobs complete alongside decoration the request from the Zavala for an extension on their building permit was answered with a 6-months permission.
This un-named structure promises to have three units and will be located just at the end of Main St. just at the entrance of town.
The extensions was unanimously approved by the council with the promise that plumbing was the last the construction needed to complete, the difficulty in finding a contractor related back to the COVID pandemic.
St. Andrew’s Catholic Church request for extension on building permit
Next the council considered a request from St. Andrew’s Catholic Church on extension of their building permit, represented by Mario Andrade.
“We’re short-handed but I asked for extension last time,” Andrade said. “Our church is low right now, so we don’t have the donations coming in as we want with the funds we need so with the funds that we had in the bank we’re just gonna have to take more towards the loan so we can actually maybe a couple more months. …I was asking if we could extend it because, because of that I don’t think we’re going to have it done by this year.”
Andrade relayed his money concerns to the council, revealing that the construction is a dialysis center that they’ve also been delayed on continuing to work due to being held up on the ‘fire marshal side of things.
“The church is getting bigger now and more people are coming, we’re going to see more coming in, but it’s probably going to take another half of next year to get the funding,” Andrade said.
Andrade estimates they may actually finish building by March 2023 and that construction plans won’t be changing in anyway, they just need more time and if it was possible, they would like the council to give them more time beyond the normal 6 months given for extensions.
Approving the extension the council gave Saint Andrew’s an 18th month extension.
Approving final plat for Bella Vista, engineering firm proposes offsite drainage easement and Street names for Saddle Ridge Estates Unit 1
Quickly approving the final plat for Bella Vista without any discussion, the council then moved on to act upon a request from Pape-Dawson engineers concerning the proposition of an offsite drainage easement to the South of Saddle Ridge Estates.
Representing the request, Jim Welch, Vice President at Pape-Dawson Engineers, Inc. stepped up to explain Pape-Dawson’s plans to the council.
“This item is for an off-site drainage easement on the property owned by the city which is where the wastewater treatment plant is,” Welch said. “We’ve worked to identify a configuration that does not constrict or restrict the wastewater treatment plant areas from future expansions and in general wraps around the perimeter of the property. The intent of this drain is to take collected drainage store water from the Saddle Ridge subdivision and convey it around the city’s property down to the 100-year floodplain.”
Welch further described the drain, explaining that it was an earthen channel, 2-feet. Adding to this, Welch also assured the city that general care of the channel wouldn’t be left to the city as the HOA for Saddle Ridge Subdivision had already agreed to take care of mowing and anything else the channel may need.
Wanting to know how this would impact those outside of Saddle Ridge, Alderman Cate followed up Welch with a question.
“How is this going to impact folks South of town?” Alderman Cate said. “Because it’s going to drain into that 100-year flood plain but there’s a creek back there and, you know, the prongs of the Atascosa they converge south of Lytle off on 3175. So my concern of course, if we approve the drainage in Saddle Ridge, how is that going to potentially have an impact on folks outside of the city limits?”
Welch responded to this question with a solution Pape-Dawson’s had already used once before on another unit within the same estates.
“With unit one we built a large retention pond which is closer to 35, that out falls and heads to the same area and that was oversized to compensate for drainage,” Welch said. “They’re usually built above peak run off to take care of that concern.”
Hearing this, the council then approved to further the project contingent that the drain still needed to be looked at by engineers before being put in, alongside plans to create an agreement for the final approval of the drain.
Quickly following this the council also tabled the approval of street names for Saddle Ridge Estates Unit 1 for the next April 11th meeting when the full list was prepared.

By Christian Toler
News Correspondent