On October 8th at 3:00 pm ESD 2 and Devine Volunteer Fire Department will dedicate the ESD 2 fire station to the DuBose family! “Today I got the great opportunity to go through old pictures of former DVFD staff with my assistant chief and dear friend Charlie Patrick DuBose. Since Devine fire’s inception in 1929 the DuBose family has played an intrical part in fire and EMS protection here in Devine,” said DVFD Chief Greg Atkisson. “ “There has been a DuBose on the roster for 83 out of the 93 years of Devine Fire Department existence. A DuBose helped found the department, helped incorporate the department, and a DuBose even helped in establishing the Emergency Service District 2. So join us October 8th at 3pm for the dedication and plaque unveiling for the newly named DuBose station! Please join DVFD as we salute all the volunteer firemen and women who have protected our community with their lives, time, talents and dedication and would love for them to join us as we honor them, the founders, and generations of families who have help protect our home, businesses and lives as well as the DuBoses. “Devine VFD is integral to our town’s history. In the earliest days fires changed the landscape of our young town. There were so many fires from the mid-late 1890s to the early 1900s-1910s that the city leaders created ordinances or laws for the historic downtown that said if a building burned it had to replaced by a brick or rock building,” said Nancy Saathoff.
The number of pursuits, bailouts, and crashes continue to mount in Medina County, and especially our small communities that are in close proximity to major thoroughfares. According to authorities, eleven people bailed out on Bright St. right beside the Community Center in downtown Devine this past Friday, September 30th. This bailout happened around 4:45 pm shortly before the council meeting nextdoor. DPS, county deputies, and Devine PD all assisted at the scene. This photo was taken about an hour later as officers, deputies and troopers held several people in handcuffs, seen sitting and laying on the sidewalk. It is believed that the DPS pursuit originated from Frio County, and a black Sedan was seen being towed away from the scene. When they got notified of the pursuit, local officers were able to set up at four corners in Devine to block off the intersection for the safety of other drivers, so the suspects turned off on College instead before bailing out on Bright St.
This was one of many pursuits that came through our area this week. Devine PD assisted with 3 this past week. Lytle PD reported assisting with 4 pursuits (Thursday, Friday and two on Saturday), three of which were suspected human smuggling operations. The fourth pursuit, on Saturday, October 1 resulted in a crash on Main Street at the intersection in front of Lytle City Hall. The DPS-initiated pursuit happened around 9 AM and thankfully there were no serious injuries reported when the suspect’s vehicle collided with two other vehicles at that intersection. High speed pursuits through our cities are becoming all too common, and Lytle Police Chief Richie Priest warns drivers to beware of your surroundings. “I have never seen so many pursuits and incidents involving human smuggling in my 30+ year career as a peace officer,” Chief Priest said. “I would suggest being extra careful at intersections, even if you have a green light,” Priest adds. “If you have your radio blaring, not paying attention or you are jabber jawing on the phone you may not hear the sirens or see the lights. Remember – the emergency vehicles will be behind the suspect. So by the time you see them it may be too late. That’s why you need to be very observant when you are driving.” Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown and his team are also dealing with smuggling operations day in and day out. When asked for a comment, Sheriff Brown points to the current US Administration and stated that he is beyond frustrated at “the invasion of Illegal Aliens, (zero from Mexico), the deaths, the destruction of private property, and the open invitation to come.” There have been several crashes in the past few months, including at least two human smuggling pursuits with fatalities and several hospitalizations that we know of (one in Hondo this September and 1 near Devine). And many more close calls as high speed pursuits come off the highways and detour through busy downtown streets.
The third District Judge, Judge Steven C. Hilbig, 454th Judicial District, has ordered a DISMISSAL in favor of Tomas “Tommy” Ramirez of Devine, a local attorney and Justice of the Peace Pct.4, over election fraud complaints by the Texas Attorney General Office (OAG). Ramirez could be “unsuspended” and be back on the bench within the next few days or weeks just like last January 6, 2022 when Judge Powell, also of the 454th Judicial District Court, granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the information and complaint brought against him by the OAG. The first dismissal by a Judge was in Bandera in 2021. Tommy Ramirez won the March 2022 primary and was re-elected to his position as Pct. 4 Medina County Judge by Medina County Precinct 4 voters, beating out two other opponents. An appointed Judge has been sitting by assignment as JP 4 while the indictments were underway. The Court’s Advisory to the Parties (March 14, 2022) by Judge Hilbig and his Order Dismissing Indictment (signed Sept. 30,2022) are as follows and helps explain some of the complex details.
ADD Courts advisory here ADD Order dismissing indictment here
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!”
By Anton Riecher The Lytle City Council voted 3-1 Monday to adopt a proposed 2022-2023 tax rate of $.3643 per $100 valuation to support a $16.7 million city budget for the same period. Precinct 5 Alderman Charles Cate, a reservist currently deployed to an unspecified location, voted against the tax rate and budget via Internet connection during the meeting. Precinct 1 Alderman Joseph Morrow was absent. Cate said he was concerned about using money from the recent sale of $8.5 million in certificates of obligation to cover approximately $700,000 in annual debt in the near term. That large of a boost in property taxes revenue in the next four or five years is unlikely, he said. “My concern is future years,” Cate said. “Where is that increase going to come from?” City Administrator Matthew Dear said that incremental increases in utility rates will bring them in line with what is paid in surrounding communities and would create some of that income. However, Cate speculated that further investment in infrastructure would also be needed. The $8.5 million bond sale is largely going to water and sewer improvements. “As we are aware, these aren’t the last projects the city is going to need,” Cate said. The $.3643 tax rate is expected to produce a 10.6 percent increase in revenue due to higher property valuations. The rate for the current tax year is $.3905. The new rate proposal was approved on a motion by Precinct 3 Alderman David Emery seconded by Precinct 2 Alderman Sam Cortez. A call for speakers at a public hearing on the proposed 2022-2023 city budget of $16.6 million drew no response from the audience for the council meeting. The meeting was closed after one minute. Another public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 before final approval, Mayor Ruben Gonzalez said. BOIL NOTICE Lytle public works director James McGrath gave the council a detailed report on a water outage Sept. 18 that resulted in a notice to boil all drinking water through Sept. 20. The initial problem that led to the breakdown was a contractor who broke a three-inch water line, he said. One day prior to the break, public works was called to the scene to locate several lines in the area. “It was hard to locate,” McGrath said. “We located one line by about 5 p.m. and promised to locate the other first thing in the morning.” Unfortunately, the contractor arrived at the work site before the public works department returned. “He told his crew to lay one more joint of pipe and busted a three-inch,” McGrath said. “We lost water pressure.” However, in the course of making the repair to the three-inch line, a 12-inch valve “broke loose” several miles upstream. Replacing it and another valve required draining the water system, so work was scheduled for late Sunday evening. “We turned off the water at 10 o’clock,” McGrath said. “There was no water above ground in any of the overhead storage tanks. Anyway, you wouldn’t believe it but it took until 3 o’clock before the water stopped draining at the creek.” The crew got the two 12-inch valves installed and repaired the broken three-inch line before daylight, he said. But rescinding the boil notice required the approval of the Texas Department of Environmental Quality. “We couldn’t get an answer until about 10:30 a.m.,” McGrath said. “They told us where to take our samples. We got them into town about noon.” It was 11 a.m. the next day, Sept. 20, before TDEQ gave permission to rescind the boil notice. City officials were forced to post a notice requiring residents to boil their tap water. Water in the area was still safe to shower and clean with according to the issued release, but residents in Lytle could not use the water for consumption. “To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes,” the release added. “The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.” SIDEWALKS On a motion by Emery, seconded by Cortez, the council approved a $440,000 advance funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation to build more than 11,000 linear feet of sidewalk near local schools. The project involves 1,600 linear feet of 6-foot-wide sidewalk on both sides of Prairie Street from Cottage Street to Laredo Street, including the front of the primary school. On Cottage Street, the project covers 2,650 linear feet of sidewalk on both sides of the roadway from FM2790 to Prairie Street. On FM2790, 2,200 linear feet of 12-foot-wide shared path will be built on the west side of the roadway from Blume Drive to Lytle High School. Also included is 1,200 linear feet of six-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of the roadway from Cottage to Laredo. Seventy-five linear feet of sidewalk from the southeast corner of FM 2790 and Laredo to directly connect with Lytle Elementary is also included in the project. The project also covers assorted detectable warning surfaces, crosswalks and signage, city administrator Matthew Dear told the council. “It’s going to give our kids someplace to walk safely on either side of that road (Cottage Street),” Dear said. “It’s quite scary already with kids walking in a bar ditch with the drainage and mud. Or you get up on the roadway and take a chance on getting hit.” Cortez said he considered the project a necessity “especially right there when it rains pretty hard and gets flooded.” The TxDOT Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program provides funding for a variety of alternative transportation projects. TxDOT’s Public Transportation Division administers TASA funding for population areas of 200,000 or less. Funds for the project will come from the sale of $8.5 million in certificates of obligation approved by the council earlier this month, the majority of which will be used to finance water and sewer improvements. BRUSH PICKUP On a motion by Cortez, seconded by Emery, the council approved an annual contract for municipal brush pickup. Hector Barrera & Son, the company currently handling brush pickup, was the only bidder, asking for $5,225 per month. FIRE DEPARTMENT On a motion by Emery, seconded by Precinct 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez, the council approved a $1,000 a month increase in the amount it pays the non-profit Lytle Volunteer Fire Department to provide fire protection for the city. Dear said the added money will allow the department to increase its budget for paid personnel. “The department went from two paid personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to three paid personnel 24/7,” Dear said. The department also received an increase from the other entities it contracts with – Medina County Emergency Service District No. 5, Atascosa County ESD No. 1 and Bexar County ESD No. 5. LAKESHORE ESTATES In the wake of complaints about the potential for flooding in the Lakeshore Estates development, Dear recommended that the council have an engineer review the entire drainage situation and come up with an overall fix. “The problem is if we throw a band-aid on one thing what is the effect on others downstream,” Dear said.
America’s Night Out Against Crime, is asking for you and your family to come partner up against crime in Devine at our Devine Municipal Golf Course. This event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 4th from 6 to 9 pm. There will be a balloon artist, caricature artist, and face painter there for the kids. There will be fire trucks, police vehicles, and helicopters flying in as well. Outside they will have free snow cones, nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, and bottled water while supplies last. The Solis Brothers will also be providing live music, and there will be a few food truck vendors selling goods as well.
Lytle’s National Night Out event will be held next week on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at the Lytle Community Center from 6 PM – 8 PM. “There will be numerous community groups set up as well as displays of fire and police vehicles and equipment. The Lytle VFW and their Auxiliary will cook and serve hotdogs for us. We also will have a DJ! There will be plenty of drinks and snacks too. It’s a fun time to come out and meet your public safety workers,” said Police Chief Richey Priest. They will also be giving away gun locks.
Natalia will be hosting the 39th Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, October 4 in front of the Natalia Police Department on 3rd Street from 6 pm to 8 pm. Our community will be celebrating the event with several million others across the Nation. NNO is a program made in partnership with local Law Enforcement Agencies for an evening to heighten crime and drug prevention and as in the past, free food, fund and giveaways. We joined with this event, also known as “America’s Night Against Crime” and began inviting neighbors to join us in our front yard but has since grown to closing down an entire block of 3rd Street. We will be joined by our local Law Enforcement, Volunteer Fire Department along with EMS. Bring your chairs and enjoy the evening getting to know local law enforcement and those that have chosen to serve and protect the citizens of our area.
By Anton Riecher Tension between the Devine City Council and trash collector Republic Services became obvious during a Sept. 20 council meeting to discuss a five-year renewal of the company’s contract. At one point, Terry Gawlik, municipal sales manager for Republic, complained that it was difficult to maintain an “open dialogue” with city staff. “I will tell you this, I’ve never had this experience before,” Gawlik said. “We do the best we can. We want to do the right thing.” Complete video coverage of the meeting is available on the Devine News’ YouTube page at youtu.be/HxJhQUTGUpk. Interim city administrator Dora Rodriguez said the city is restricting direct communication with Republic representatives unless City Attorney Tom Cate or the city council is present. That decision came after a recent letter sent to the city by a Republic attorney, she said. No action was taken on the Republic proposal after the Sept. 20 discussion due to the many changes requested by council members, Mayor Cory Thompson said. Republic Services took over the contract for the collection of residential refuse and recycling when it acquired Central Texas solid waste company ACI Recycling and Disposal. The new contract being offered by Republic involves substantial changes regarding residential and commercial trash collection. One area of contention is that the new contract no longer allows for the collection of bags filled with yard waste. Instead, residential customers will be required to use a separate trash cart for yard waste with pickup limited to four times a year. “People aren’t going to do that,” council member Debbie Randall said. “It’s going to sit out on the curb until your brush pickup.” Gawlik said the transition away from yard bags is chiefly a safety measure. “I know right now there is a labor shortage,” he said. “It’s hard to get people to help. But now you’ve got yard waste and you’re bending and twisting.” Gawlik said most waste collectors are moving to this system. The benefit to the city is the rate for the extra yard waste cart has been steeply reduced. Those cost savings were challenged by Randall. “We’re asking (residents) to raise their bill $5, $8 or $12 for the same service they’ve been getting until this new contract,” she said. Standard brush pickup is going to quadruple because people will not pay to add the yard waste cart, she said. “They are going to put it out there and they’re not going to care that it’s over your yard waste limit,” Randall said. Another bone of contention was the length of time necessary for commercial customers to obtain either a temporary or permanent roll-off dumpster for trash collection. Council member Josh Ritchey said it took his business nearly two months to get a bulk trash pickup on at least two occasions. “One or two weeks wiggle room okay but we can’t have the stuff one or two months because folks are calling code enforcement and making more work,” Ritchey said. He asked for a guaranteed schedule for bulk pickups and for the delivery of roll-off units. “I would like some kind of language that if a business owner contacts you more than three times and is unable to get the roll-off delivered within 45 days, within a reasonable time, they can go to a local service,” Ritchey said. He did thank Republic for removing the fuel surcharge from its latest proposal. Donovan Rodriguez, Republic’s manager for municipal sales, told the council that the contract extension delivered to the city August 18 included provisions for eliminating the roll-off franchise, billing non-profit organizations and churches at residential rates, “I’m confident we can come to an agreement on the numbers,” he said. Council member Angela Pichardo said that could offer the city two main incentives to negotiate – amount and frequency of waste collection. “What are your solutions?” she asked. “What can you offer us?” The volume of solid waste is measured in cubic yards. On average, the calculation is three pounds per person per day divided by 175 pounds per yard times seven days per week. That equals three divided by 175 times seven equals 0.120 cubic yards per person each week. Donovan suggested increasing the allowed yardage to eight yards or more on bulk pickup with increased frequency of pickup and adding a community location where people can use a roll-off to save the cost of scheduling a bulk pickup. When Gawlik brought up the issue of open dialogue, Cate countered that the city and the company were in the midst of such a dialogue at that moment. Gawlik said that during the work week it was hard to get clear direction from the city via email alone. “I’d love to buy lunch, say thank you and find out the little details of what you need,” Gawlik said. However, when Rodriguez asked if the staff was not answering his emails promptly Gawlik said that the city staff was “doing fine.” Another issue during the discussion was Mayor Thompson’s insistence on a “no-fault” cancellation clause for either side in the new contract. “No council in the future needs to be tied into any council decisions that are made today,” Thompson said. “This council got tied into decisions made more than a decade ago.” Ritchey countered that if the contract includes such a cancellation clause “it’s not even a real contract.” However, Randall joined the mayor in support of a cancellation clause. “The way it reads now we can say we are terminating and we have to wait four years before we can actually terminate,” she said. “We don’t want that anymore.” Thompson said requiring cause as the basis for any cancellation would mean submitting the matter to a mediator for arbitration. Cate confirmed this when asked for his opinion. “To be honest with you it can take a long time,” Cate said. “If we get into litigation it can take the time it took to fulfill the contract.” Dora Rodriguez asked if it was possible to sign a two-year contract rather than five. Donovan Rodriguez said it would require recalculating the rates quoted in the contract. An invitation by Gawlik for the council to attend a party held by Republic during the Texas Municipal League annual conference Oct. 5 through 7 in San Antonio met with a frosty response. “Send us the information so we can make an informed decision on that,” Pichardo said. Also tabled was a request from council member Ritchey to amend the city ordinance governing fowl kept within the city limits. Acting on the advice of Cate, Ritchey limited his remarks during the discussion since it was part of a business proposal that would provide him financial gain. “I want to run poultry and (put) small houses in my 12-acre field?” Ritchey said. The current city regulation limits the number of fowl to no more than 10 per residence with no roosters permitted. The ordinance also places strict provisions on such ownership regarding noise and odor nuisance. Randall, who said from the outset that she would vote against the amendment, noted that “a lot of people have chickens that shouldn’t have them.” Thompson noted that San Antonio has a blanket ordinance permitting eight chickens per residence. Fowl must be kept at least 100 feet from any dwelling or business. He suggested tabling the matter until Ritchey can submit something in writing or designate someone to speak for him during the council session. Cate complimented Ritchey for bringing the question before the council in the manner that he did. “People are going to call me a lot of things but they’re not going to call me a liar,” Ritchey said. The council turned down an application by church charity DFMA, represented by Michael Wilkinson, to install a soft drink vending machine at Briscoe Park as a fund raising operation. Although DFMA offered to install electricity to operate the machine, but the council rejected the idea out of concerns about liability and vandalism with all present voting nay. The council met briefly with the city’s IT consultant, James Evans of Texas Technology, to discuss possible proposals to be made by Dora Rodriguez in a meeting with AT&T regarding cost cutting measures on communications for the city. During a workshop on the upcoming 2022-2023 budget Rodriguez told the council that bond payments for the city airport have been moved from the general fund into the budget’s debt service. Thompson told the council that the action would help free up more money in the general fund. Rodriguez said shifting the payments had been approved in advance by the city’s financial consultant.
In skimming the local police reports, this one might stick out a little. A suspect in Lytle apparently stole close to three dozen trees this past Saturday morning, September 24. The theft of the trees valued at $1,100 happened around 3 am at Lytle HEB Plus. “He just pulled up and loaded up something like 32 trees,” said Lytle Police Chief Richey Priest. The suspect was driving a brown Dodge Pickup truck. If you have any tips or information about this crime or others, please call the Lytle Police Department.
The Jeremy Richards Band will headline the St. Joseph Octoberfest in downtown Devine this Saturday, October 2. The big dance will be from 8 pm to midnight. BBQ Plates (to-go or dine-in) will be for sale from 11am to 2pm, and there will also be food trucks on site from 6 pm to 11 pm to add to the fun. As always there will be an amazing silent auction with over 50 items!! Don’t forget to get your tickets for the drawing. The grand prize is a Ford Eco Sport vehicle donated by the Dunford family at Chaparral Ford. There is also a 10 ft trailer in the drawing, as well as approximately $9,000 in gift cards. In the silent auction you’ll find lots of unique items like a handmade wind chime, as well as jewelry, home decor, kid’s items, and more. There will be a card deck drawing for 3 hunting rifles as well. Admission is FREE.