“A Medina County jury deliberated for only 45 minutes before finding Tina Gabrielle Rendon, 34, guilty of murder on Wednesday afternoon, declining to convict her of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Later the same day, that jury sentenced her to 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional division,” a press release, the Medina County District Attorney’s Office stated. The crime occurred on August 22nd, 2020. Continued on page 8 7 “Brittnee Jones, 28, and Tina Rendon were living together in a Natalia mobile home park at CR 471 and 3rd Street, a home they had moved to just days before. Eye-witnesses described seeing Rendon and Jones arguing when Rendon entered a maroon minivan. Witnesses described Jones as trying to stop Rendon from leaving when Rendon hit the accelerator and ran over Jones. Investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol Division, determined that Jones was dragged under the rear wheel of that maroon minivan for at least 126 feet. First responders arrived on scene within minutes of an eye witness calling 911, but Jones died from blunt force trauma as she was dragged on the street,” the press release stated. Rendon must serve at least half the sentence before she is first eligible for parole. Rendon was represented at trial by the Hill Country Regional Public Defenders Office. “This defendant would not accept responsibility for dragging the victim under her vehicle for over 100 feet, protesting that it was an accident. The jury saw through her defense and is holding her accountable for this senseless, brutal crime with such a swift conviction and strong sentence,” said Criminal District Attorney Mark Haby. First Assistant District Attorney Julie Solis and Assistant District Attorney Christian Neumann prosecuted this case in the 454th Judicial District Court. Numerous agencies assisted in the investigation of the case, including the Natalia Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Rangers.
A seven-percent salary increase for Medina County Appraisal District employees to compensate for record inflation became a last minute addition to the preliminary 2022-23 budget approved by the district’s board of directors June 14. Before the additional salary increase, the preliminary budget stood at $1.553 million, an increase of nearly $100,000 more than the previous year. That budget included a five percent salary hike and funds for additional computer services. “We have to look at all the dollars but I think that’s just an area where we have to make that adjustment,” MCAD board chairman Tim Hardt said. “I think a five percent increase doesn’t even keep up with the cost of living.” State law required action on a preliminary budget by June 15, chief appraiser Johnette Dixon told the board. The board also discussed an increase in the vehicle allowance paid to the district’s eight appraisers who use their own vehicles. “Only a handful of appraisal districts actually pay mileage,” Dixon said. “The majority pay appraisers either a vehicle allowance or own their own vehicles for employees to use.”
The Devine ISD school board voted Monday (June 20) to adopt a proposed 2022-23 general fund budget of $20.3 million, of which 79 percent goes to salaries. Action on the tax rate to support that budget was postponed until August when the Texas Education Agency acts on the calculation of local tax rate compression, Devine ISD Chief Financial Officer Shannon Ramirez told the board. “Right now it could be as low as 80.46 cents,” Ramirez said. However, calculation of the maximum compressed rate for the school district’s maintenance and operations (M&O) tax may drive that number up to 88.46 cents.” The interest and sinking (I&S) tax rate for the budget presented by Ramirez is 24 cents.
According to the most recent audit reported for the previous fiscal year, Medina County’s fiscal year 2020-2021 budget had a new taxable appraised value of $3.83 Billion, an increase of $364 million (10.5%) from the previous fiscal year (2019-2020). This increase is mainly due to new properties and property values, according to the auditor. -Property taxes accounted for $22,196,235 Clarification to our June 1st article on county revenues: The audit presented to Medina County Commissioner’s court last month, for the year ending September 30, 2021, showed the following:
Medina County’s total revenues were over $36 million ($36,090,346). A breakdown of the revenues in the report titled “Statement of Revenues, Expenditures and Changes in Fund Balances of Governmental funds for the fiscal year ending in September 30, 2021” were categorized as follows: General $23,609,346 + Debt Service $2,390,479 + Certificates of Obligation $54,572 + American Rescue Plan Grants $583,314 + Other Govermental $9,452,635 = Total Governmental Fund Revenues $36,090,346. -The ending fund balance was $24,187, 241.
Highlights from Auditor’s financial analysis: Differences between the original budget and the final amended budget for fiscal year ending Sept 30, 201, can be summarized as follows: -Actual revenue exceeded budgeted revenue by $2.9 million -Actual revenues exceeded expenditures by $4.4 million
LACOSTE–The City of La Coste is accepting applications for a new police chief after the May 27 resignation of Johnny Kendricks following accusations of his handling of an alleged March 8 shooting incident. Former Police Chief Richard Gonzalez is acting as part-time interim chief until a permanent replacement can be found, city manager Darrell Rawlings said. Voting unanimously, the La Coste City Council acted May 17 to authorize Mayor Andy Keller to take disciplinary action “up to and including termination” against Kendricks, citing “tardiness and absenteeism” during his 180-day probation period. The action came in the wake of controversy in which citizens complained about the way Kendricks handled an incident in which a man reportedly fired a gun at two 12-year-old boys and attempted to run one down with a sports utility vehicle. Parents of the two children spoke at the May 17 meeting during a period set aside for public comment prior to a closed executive session “to deliberate the appointment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public employee; Chief of Police,” the council meeting agenda stated. The next city council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 21.
Voting unanimously, the La Coste City Council acted May 17 to authorize Mayor Andy Keller to take disciplinary action “up to and including termination” against Kendricks, citing “tardiness and absenteeism” during his 180-day probation period. The action came in the wake of controversy in which citizens complained about the way Kendricks handled an incident in which a man reportedly fired a gun at two 12-year-old boys and attempted to run one down with a sports utility vehicle. Parents of the two children spoke at the May 17 meeting during a period set aside for public comment prior to a closed executive session “to deliberate the appointment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public employee; Chief of Police,” the council meeting agenda stated. The next city council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 21.
First Baptist of Natalia will be hosting “Spark Studio” Vacation Bible School on June 13-17 from 9am-12pm for grades kinder through 6th. FBC is located at 301 Pearson St in Natalia, Tx. For information/registration call (830) 334-7378.
On Saturday, May 27th DHS Band percussionists Andrew Kohlleppel and Diego Mendoza performed at the UIL State Solo & Ensemble Contest held at Hendrickson High School in Austin!! Both earned high level awards on the solos they had previously earned 1st divisions from the Region UIL level in February. Andrew, a junior, performed a Class One Snare Drum Solo entitled “Mean Man Matt” and earned a 1st division and a GOLD medal!! Diego, a sophomore, played a four-mallet Class One Marimba Solo entitled “Tucker”, earning a 2nd division and a Silver medal!! “Both students were well prepared and did a great job representing the Warhorse Band and Devine!! The UIL State Solo & Ensemble Contest is a very rigorous contest – and 1st division awards are usually far and few in between. Go Warhorse Band!” said Director Jeff Miller.
A Special meeting was hosted by Devine School Board members on Monday, June 6, 2022 to consider and hire a New Athletic Director, along with approving the Instruction Materials Allotment and TEKS Certification for 2022-23 School Year presented by Todd Grandjean. A 4-0 vote was passed by Henry Moreno, Keri James, Ali Buvinghausen, and Nancy Pepper to name Jim Sessions as the New AD. Jim Sessions’ professional career spans from a secondary math teacher 1997-2003 to his present position as a technology applications teacher at Devine High School 2003-Present. He has been an assistant coach in volleyball, cross country, track, golf, basketball, and softball. He was also the head softball coach in 2000-2004 and presently the Head Girls Basketball coach since 2003. Jim hit 400 wins this past year in basketball. Sessions also has been the Technology/Hudl Specialists for Athletics from 2003 to present. Sessions has been a Finalist for the Dean Weese Coach of the Year Award given by TABC in 2022. His 25 years has been spent here in Devine teaching and coaching since 1997. He is a former Devine athlete, and he continues to show a passion for his hometown and has helped maintain the tradition of success for those at Devine ISD, just like his parents Don and Gayle Sessions and sister Neva who all devoted their time and careers to Devine ISD. When asked how excited he was about his new position “I am VERY VERY excited to be given this opportunity by Dr Grandjean and the school board members.” Sessions takes over from Chad Quisenberry who announced in March his retirement after 28 years with Devine ISD (1994-2022). Session’s mother Gayle Sessions was the DISD Girls Athletic Director back when there were two athletic directors, one for the girls and one for the boys in the Devine ISD. Jim Sessions will take over the reins of the Athletic Director position to oversee the girls and boys athletic programs. “I am proud of him and I know he will do everything he can to keep the Devine Athletic program successful and respected by the Devine community and area schools and coaches,” said his mother Gayle Sessions. Gayle coached in Devine 34 years (3 in MS and 31 HS) and became girls Athletic Director around 1980. She later gave up her successful position to move to Tennessee so she and Don could take care of her elderly parents, like she promised she would do. Jim’s Notable Achievements: 25 years in education. 5 years as head softball coach. 5 consecutive years in the playoffs for softball with multiple playoff wins and one State Tournament appearance (Runner Up 2000). 19 years as head girls’ basketball coach. His first win this past year was his #400 win! 19 consecutive years in the playoffs for girls’ basketball with multiple playoff wins and six appearances in the Regional Tournament. Finalist for the Dean Weese Coach of the Year Award given by TABC (2022). Certifications include PE PK-12, Health Education 6-12, Mathematics 6-12, Technology Applications 8-12 and Principal EC-12. Education: UTSA Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (1997), University of North Texas Tech Apps Certification (2003) and Texas A&M Kingsville Masters of Science in Educational Administration (2013).
Authorities are actively searching for two suspects in the case of an aggravated robbery on Hwy 132 in Natalia last Tuesday, June 21 around 7 pm. The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. The suspect reportedly knocked on the door and then forcibly entered the home wearing a bandana over his face, instructing the elderly homeowner to lay face down on the couch for as long as two hours possibly, police said. “The suspect then ransacked his home, before stealing his vehicle,” said Natalia Police Chief Valerie Naff. The stolen truck, a 1996 white Toyota Tacoma with a camper shell, was recovered in a BMA canal outside of Lytle this Friday, but the suspects are still on the loose. The suspects also stole welding equipment, his phone, and various items. The robbery occurred at a home in the 2100th block of Hwy 132 in Natalia. “The suspect was described as a thin, Hispanic male,” Chief Naff said. “The victim only saw and heard one person, the suspect did claim there was a second person with him.” “We are asking for the public’s assistance. Please let us know if you have any information or might have security camera footage in this area,” Naff added. If you have any information about this crime, you are urged to call the Natalia Police at 210-355-1382 or email email@example.com Medina County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 REWARD for information leading to the arrest. Crime stoppers can be reached at 1-800-367-2833. Chief Naff reminds residents, that if you don’t know who is knocking, please do not answer the door.
June 3, 2022–”On the evening of June 2nd, I received information from Investigator Freddy Alvarez with the TDCJ Office of Inspector General, regarding prison escapee Gonzalo A. Lopez. Information provided to the Sheriff’s Office was that Lopez was suspected in the murder of a family of five near Centerville, Texas on June 2nd and had escaped from a TDCJ bus near Centerville on May 12th,” said Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward. “The suspect stole a white Chevrolet pickup truck from the murder victims and the information including the license plate number, was provided by Investigator Alvarez. I alerted all my deputies and our Communications Center due to the possibility the suspect may be headed to the Rio Grande Valley. A short while later, we received information from the U.S. Marshals Service that Lopez was suspected of being in the San Antonio area. We immediately deployed marked and unmarked units to IH 37, U.S. 281, Texas 16 and IH 35 to be on the lookout for the suspect and vehicle. We also alerted police departments in our county along these routes. At approximately 9:57 p.m., an Atascosa County investigation and a deputy sheriff spotted the vehicle southbound several miles north of Poteet, on Texas Highway 16. These officers were instructed not to alert the suspect and to tail him until backup officers could get to the Jourdanton area. About one-half mile north of Jourdanton, the Jourdanton Police Chief deployed a tire deflation device and all four of the truck’s tires were spiked. A pursuit ensured and the truck turned on to Spur 162 and then turned into a large open pasture before emerging back on to Texas 16, headed south with several units from multiple agencies in pursuit. Upon entering Jourdanton, the suspect stuck a semi-automatic rifle out the truck’s window and fired shots at pursuing officers. T he truck turned onto Cypress Street and left the roadway and struck a utility pole and got back onto the street and lost control striking a chain-link fence and a utility pole guy wire anchor. The suspect exited the stolen pickup truck armed with a rifle and handgun and reportedly fired at officers. Four Atascosa County officers, three from the Sheriff’s Office, returned fire. The suspect was hit by gunfire and was pronounced dead at the scene. One law enforcement vehicle was struck in the top corner of the windshield by a round fired by the suspect. The scene and shooting is being investigated by Company F Texas Rangers. Agencies participating in the pursuit and apprehension of Lopez were, Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office, Jourdanton Police Department, Pleasanton Police Department, Atascosa County ACA, Constable Pct. 3, Texas Ranger – Jourdanton, Texas Highway Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Texas DPS. The body of the suspect was sent to a medical examiner for an autopsy. No dash camera or body camera video is available at this time citing that the case is under investigation.