Lions donate to Youth Alive and Devine Salvation Army

Lions Club donated $200 in gift certificates for toys for a kindergarten program called Youth Alive. Pictured are (l-r) Abigail Beadle, Baily Kohlleppel, and Kellen Nixon (Lions’ Club Treasurer).
The Devine Lions Club donated $500 to the Devine Salvation Army. Pictured are (l to r) Lewis Stroud, president, Cliff Redus, Kellen Nixon, treasurer and Bill Herring, vice president.

Natalia ISD issues annual retention stipend to employees prior to Christmas

Natalia ECC staff Jennifer Velasquez and Karen Bedford with Natalia School Board President Eric Smith.

By Anton Riecher
The Natalia ISD board took action last week to approve and distribute $109,000 in retention stipend checks to the district’s more than 200 employees, board president Eric Smith said.
“Every person from the janitor to the superintendent will get a $500 check,” Smith said.

Continue reading “Natalia ISD issues annual retention stipend to employees prior to Christmas”

Mattke and Thacker win American Legion Oratory Competition

Competing from Devine were Noah Davila, Mia Clark, Harper Parson, and Ashley Mattke and from Hondo High School were Mikayla Birney and Katelyn Thacker.
First place winners were Ashley Mattke from Devine and Katelyn Thacker from Hondo.

The American Legion Constitutional Oratorical Contest was held at the Devine HS auditorium for both Hondo and Devine High Schools on Monday December 5th. Those competing from DHS were Harper Parson, Mia Clark, Noah Davila, and Ashley Mattke. Those competing from Hondo High School were Mikayla Birney and Katelyn Thacker.
Each competitor needed to present an 8 to 10 minute oration on any aspects of the Constitution without any notes or props. The two winners, one from each school, were Ashley Mattke of Devine and Katelyn Thacker of Hondo. Both Ashley and Katelyn will now advance to the District 23 Contest which will be held at the Hondo Public Library at 2pm on Sunday, Jan. 8th, 2023. Each of the winners were provided a Scholarship Award of $400. Second and third places also received $300 and $200 respectively.
American Legion Posts 524 and 128 are very proud of all six competitors who competed in this challenging event.

Vote…City of Natalia and Natalia ISD elections early voting continues
City has three, School has two positions up

Voting in both the Natalia ISD and City of Natalia elections will be hosted on the same ballots as the General Election ballot where the county and state races are listed. So voting can be done at any polling location in Medina County.
City of Natalia
City of Natalia has five candidates on the ballot running for three positions: Selica Vera (incumbent), Sam Smith (incumbent), Mike Fernandez (incumbent), and challengers Lorie Crouch and Jolene Talamantez.
Vote for one, two or three on the ballot. These are three at large positions.
Natalia ISD
Natalia ISD has three candidates running for two at large positions this year. They are Danielle Alderete, Gordon Gentry, Sr. (incumbent) and Darin L. Frazier.
Vote for one or two.
Polling locations:
Combined Early Voting will start on Monday, October 24, 2022 and run through November 4, 2022 in Medina County.
You may vote at ANY polling location within Medina County during the election, both early voting and on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th.
The closest polls are in Devine for early voting at the Medina County Pct. 4 Annex Bldg, 317 Hwy 132 N., Devine across from Tractor Supply.
On Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th from 7am-7pm, you can vote in Natalia at the Natalia First Baptist Church Youth Bldg at 300 Pearson St, Natalia, Texas or in Devine at Medina County Pct. 4 Annex Bldg, 317 Hwy 132 N., or at any polling location in Medina County in Hondo, Castroville, D’Hanis, and even in Mico.
See Medina County election story for further details on times and locations of the General Election which includes the Natalia elections.

Mustang & Pirate Bands Making History!

The Award-Wining Natalia Mustang Band (pictured above) placed 2nd at Area E Competition for the second consecutive year. If it were an advancing year the band would be making its second back-to-back trip to State!
The Lytle Pirate Band earned 7th place out of 35 bands in Area prelims. Then, for the first time in the history of Lytle ISD, this amazing group of performers progressed to the Finals. The Lytle High School band placed 5th in the Finals and were all overcome with emotion knowing that they would have qualified for the State Marching Competition had this been an advancing year! Congratulations to both bands! The Devine HS band will perform at Area this Saturday. Photo by Alyssa Sprenger 
 were all overcome with emotion knowing that we would have qualified for State Marching Competition had this been an advancing year! 

Robotics team rocks meet!

The Devine Robotics Team qualified for State this Sunday. Unfortunately, they were notified two days later that there was an error in the scoring and therefore they may not be advancing after all. As of press time Tuesday, Oct. 25 Devine is advocating for them, waiting on the news, and it is hoped that they will give them the opportunity to advance as first announced.

Eli James (left) and Curtis Kuykendall (right) compete for Devine High School during the UIL Robotics Meet last weekend.

Devine High Schools Robotics Team shown here super excited after finishing high enough to qualify to continue on to State as announced last Sunday at the meet. Unfortunately, their Coach was notified two days later on Tuesday that there was an error in the scoring and therefore may not be advancing to the State contest after all. As of press time Tuesday, Oct. 25 Devine is advocating for them, waiting on the news, and it is hoped that they will find a spot for the team and give them the opportunity to advance. To get to the level of success, competitiveness and skill they did says a lot about their preparation, dedication and determination. We proudly present the 2022 DHS Robotics Team: Top row-left to right is Roy Vanderslice, Robotics Coach Mr. Jim Wilcox, Ted Hinkle, Hunter Erwin, Felix Mendoza, Christian Esparza, Gabe Lopez. Middle row, Trinity Spurgers. Bottom row, Tommy Hinkle, Eli James, David Rendon, Curtis Kuykendall.  Not pictured are Brian Custodio, Nathan Fuentes and Kenneth Byers.
Last Sunday they competed in the annual UIL-BEST San Antonio Regional competition at St. Mary’s University. The team has been diligently working towards designing, engineering, Programming, building and operating a robot that will repair and control another robot in an order fulfillment facility. They have also been putting together a Marketing Presentation, Team Exhibit, and Engineering Notebook to go along with the robot.

Racing to State, baby!

The Statebound Lytle Lady Pirates Cross Country team runners are: Samantha Mujica, Frances Scotello, Klayre Cook, Marissa Lopez, Moriah Gomez, Dezmarie Ortega, and Eisabel Guerrero. Lopez (4th) and Gomez (5th) also qualified as individuals. The team finished only 10 points from #2 Poth. Below, the Regional Championship Lytle Pirate teammates are: Johnny Alvarez, Robert Wagner (Holding trophy), Tristan Lopez, Yandel Esquivez, Abel Sanchez, Brandon Obando, Luke Estrada. Alvarez (5th), Obando (6th), and Wagner (9th) also qualified as individuals. All six placed in the top 28. The team is UNDEFEATED.

“In God We Trust” signs to go to all school districts countywide

Last Wednesday, October 12th, Mr. Bob Oberlender, a member of the Medina County GOP Executive Committee and Natalia resident, donated four posters displaying the National Motto, “In God We Trust” to Superintendent Harry Piles of the Natalia Independent School District. Each campus of the NAISD received a sign. This donation of the signs is encouraged by Texas Senate Bill 797, signed by the Governor last year, which directed schools to publicly display such donated signs. The National Motto display is to remind students of the founding of our nation and our dependence on divine guidance. Other schools in the county are also receiving such signs.

By Anton Riecher
Medina County Commissioners addressed a variety of topics at the Sept. 13th meeting, including hearing a couple speakers from the Democratic and Republican parties.
Medina County Democratic Party chair Sandy Young warned that those caught stealing or defacing campaign signs for gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke will face “creative punishments” if the vandalism continues, she told county commissioners.
Rather than pursue charges under criminal law as misdemeanor offense, Young said she intends to prosecute those guilty under civil law which permits greater input into what eventual punishment the court levies.
“If we have input into what the civil punishments will be I can assure you that we will be very creative,” Young said.
Having raised five children Young said she was very experienced in devising punishments that fit the crime.
Young reported that large four-by-six foot signs for the O’Rourke campaign have been stolen or vandalized on at least 10 different occasions recently. At one location on Highway 90 in mid Hondo the sign was up less than eight hours.
“That sign has been vandalized three times,” Young said. “They have painted over it and changed ‘Beto’ to ‘ghetto,’ which is racist.”
Other times the offenders have been brazen enough to simply steal the signs and then use the stakes driven to post signs for their own candidates, she said. In response, Young said that cameras have been placed to record any further vandalism.
“It is a misdemeanor if it is charged as a crime,” Young said. “They will get a ticket and a slap on the hand.”
“I also want to say that it’s funny that they are only doing it to the Beto signs, which tells me they are really nervous,” Young said.
She also said she was just as willing to deal harshly with any Democratic candidates linked to the destruction of campaign signs.
“It is unethical, it’s theft and it’s a crime no matter how you cut it,” Young said. “
Also addressing the court during the public comments portion of the agenda, Robert Oberlender of Natalia, liaison for the Medina County Republican Party to area schools, presented the commissioners with an early prototype of a sign to be provided by the GOP to local campuses.
“The county Republican party is providing signs to every school campus in the county with the national motto of ‘In God We Trust,’” Oberlender said. “If the school received a donation of those signs state law now says they should publicly display them.”
He said the prototype presented to the commissioners was one drafted during the process of developing a “legally approved sign” in compliance with what the state law allows.
Oberlender also told commissioners he wanted to thank them for providing additional school resource officers to protect area schools in the wake of the Uvalde school shootings in May.
“I’ve talked to a couple of the superintendents,” he said. “We’ve got big problems. But that’s for a later discussion.”
COUNTY FINANCES
In other action, the commissioners approved accounts payable totaling $574.164 as reported by County Treasurer Debbie Southwell. The commissioners also approved payment of utilities totaling $61,873.
“Everybody needs to keep the air conditioner at 85 degrees,” County Judge Chris Schuchart said.
Total combined funds ending in August was $29.3 million with total debt shown as $26.9 million, Southwell reports.
SUBDIVISIONS
The commissioners approved service plans and assessment plans presented for public improvement districts in Potranco Acres, Potranco Oaks, Potranco Ranch and Potranco Gardens. Jay Juarez of McCall, Parkhurst and Horton explained that the original agreements establishing the PID need to be updated annually.
A Public Improvement District is a special district created by a city or county under the authority of Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Code. The statute allows for a city or county to levy a special assessment against properties within the district to pay for improvements to the properties within the District.
Within seven days of the court’s approval of the update orders that include both the service plan and assessment plant is added to the real property record, Juarez said. The plans include the average home value, the number of new homes being built, the assessment rate, the net assessable value, the projected revenue and anticipated costs.
However, Van Johnson, president of the Potranco Ranch Homeowners Association, challenged the home values used to calculate the proposed assessments. The assessments he had studied had home values estimated at $420,000 when the actual value is closer to $700,000, he said.
“The home values make the whole plan they are delivering to you incorrect because the home values are a lot more,” Johnson said.
Schuchart asked Juarez to look into the accessments issue and report back to the commissioners. However, on motion of Precinct 2 Commissioner Larry Sittre, seconded by Precinct 1 Commissioner Timothy Neuman, the court voted unanimously to approve the assessments.
In other subdivision related action, the commissioners approved an extension of the preliminary plat approval for units 14B, 15B, 16B, 18A and 18B in Hunters Ranch and unit 1 in Potranco West Phase II.
Andrew Ortega of MTR Engineers reported that all the homes were presently under construction and scheduled to be finished in six months. On a motion by Neuman, seconded by Sittre, the extension was approved.
Ortega also asked for final approval on units four and six of the Potranco Oaks subdivision located in precinct two off FM 1957. The homes are the last two units of the subdivision and were completed several week earlier.
Commissioners also gave preliminary approval for the Double Five Acres subdivision located in precinct four off FM 2200. Gary Allen of Allen & Associates explained that the owner had purchased a 10-acre tract west of Devine wanting to subdivide it into two five acre tracts for sale.
On motion of Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Beck, seconded by Precinct 3 Commissioner David Lynch, the subdivision approval was granted.
The commissioners also granted preliminary approval to subdivide a 4.6 acre tract of Encino Park Estates into three one-acre tracts and one 1.6 acre tract, all fronting on County Road 6723 in precinct 4.
COUNTY IT
Commissioners approved a quote for information technology services to migrate county records from its 26 servers to a secure government platform or “cloud” to improve efficiency. The most immediate impact on county operations will be improved email security.
The migration is expected to be completed next year, Schuchart said.
PUBLIC HEARINGS
Only one local resident was heard from during public hearings on proposed speed limit reductions on CR 265 in precinct one and CR 443 in precincts one and three. The new speed limit on the affected portion of CR 265 is 40 miles per hour,
The new speed limit imposed on CR 443, also known as Cemetery Road, is 35 mph. Neither located previously has a posted speed limit.
Lynch noted that any county road without a specific posted speed limit automatically defaults to 60 mph.
Neuman reported that road work to expand Cemetery Road from 22 to 24 feet wide would resume next week, part of nearly five miles of paving that he expects to complete in the next few days. The county recently completed adding culverts along the Cemetery Road route.
The commissioners also approved the placement of stop signs on CR 381 at Hunters Ranch East in precinct two.
Sittre reported that with the help of his neighboring commissioners nearly 2.25 miles of new paving was completed in precinct two the previous day with plans for another two miles this week.
D’HANIS FLOOD PLAN
Commissioners Lynch told the court that a town hall meeting on Oct. 11 in D’Hanis to discuss a proposed flood mitigation project drew nearly 100 people.
“There was positive feedback from the landowners,” Lynch said.
Earlier this month, Medina County commissioners approved preparation of grant applications worth more than $7 million to finance both a county drainage plant and, in D’Hanis, a flood mitigation plan.
The D’Hanis meeting included a presentation by Westwood Professional Services, the company retained by the county to draft the application. There was also a tour of property that would be affected by the flood mitigation plan.
BUILDING DISPUTE
Schuchart informed the commissioners that Uvalde County district attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee has chosen to challenge the Fourth Court of Appeals decision in favor of Medina County and others regarding the former office of the 38th Judicial District attorney.
“We keep winning and she has now appealed it to the Supreme Court,” Schuchart said. “We hope that the Supreme Court denies writ which will mean it dies and we win.”
Medina County’s right to sell the building to the Medina County Appraisal District was challenged by Busbee, the district attorney now representing the 38th Judicial District after the state authorized Medina County to form its own district.
Despite the win in the Fourth Court of Appeals, the appraisal district opted to back out of the purchase after an 18 month delay.
Commissioners Beck asked Schuchart if Uvalde County was still “onboard” with the ownership challenge.
“Somebody is paying for it,” Schuchart said.
GO MEDINA
Schuchart told commissioners he has instructed that future meeting of the “Go Medina” development board be posted as workshop sessions for the court. The next meeting is 9 a.m., Oct. 25 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in La Coste.

Natalia Homecoming Parade, Community Pep Rally and Tailgate

Natalia will host a homecoming parade, community pep rally and tailgate on Wednesday, October 12th. The Parade will start at 6:30 pm with the pep rally and tailgate to immediately follow.
The parade will start at the High School parking lot, travel down Kearney to Hwy. 132 and pass in front of the City Office before turning up Miller Street to finish at the Mustang Stadium parking lot.
If you are interested in entering a float in the Homecoming Parade, please go to https://forms.gle/LSVCFDgTUjNMphja7 and complete the form. Deadline to submit the form is October 7, 2022.