Several Devine FCCLA students

ABOVE….Devine FCCLA students competed this past weekend in Corpus Christi. Several will advance to State (see article). Pictured in top row: Felix Mendoza, Collier Paige, Lalo Hernandez. Middle row: Hailey Eads, Brianna Chavez, Sirley Chavez, Hilary Barnett, Katelyn Dinwiddie, Maddie Dubose, Ashley Mattke. Bottom row: Cassandra Elias, Makayla Breiten, Kourtni Geyer, Barbara Merlo, Cynthia Maldonado, and Mariah Carrillo. See article for regional placements and list of teams advancing to State.

Devine FCCLA students had a great outcome at the Region V Conference this past weekend held in the American Banking Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Competitors included:
Spotlight on Projects
Arabelle Davalos – Career Connections
Priscilla Fuentes and Miracle Tovar – Stand Up
STAR Events
Ashley Mattke and Cynthia Maldonado – National Programs in Action Level 3
Hilary Barnett and Katelyn Dinwiddie – Focus on Children Level 3
Those placing and advancing to state include:
Mariah Carrillo and Maddie Dubose – National Programs in Action Level 2 – 1st place
Sirley Chavez and Cassandra Elias – Interpersonal Communications Level 3 – 1st place
Brianna Chavez and Hailey Eads – Interpersonal Communications Level 2 – 2nd place
Kourtni Geyer and Makayla Breiten – Chapter Service Project Display – Level 3 – 2nd place
Felix Mendoza – Job Interview Level 2 – 3rd place
Collier Paige – Nutrition and Wellness Level 1 – 1st place – Devine FCCLA’s first middle school competitor
Barbara Merlo served as Region V’s VP of Achievement for this year and led the House of Delegates meeting and the 2nd General Session meeting. She also organized a successful Leadership Track for members to attend on Distracted Driving. She contacted Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services to have a representative come present to FCCLA members.
Lalo Hernandez served as Region V’s VP of Competitive Events and helped to organize and lead all competitive events for the conference.
Our chapter won the Texas FCCLA News Across Texas Award for Region V, as well.
Overall, Devine FCCLA will have 10 members advance to state in Dallas March 30 – April 2.  Our two Region officers will also be completing their obligations for 2023 at the State Conference.

Water Board: review of Devine’s
$9.9 million loan and some “potentially ineligible” costs

Shortly before press time, Chief Communications Officer for the Texas Water Development Board, Lauren Munguia, gave the following update on The City of Devine’s $9.9 million dollar loan that is currently under review:

Continue reading “Water Board: review of Devine’s
$9.9 million loan and some “potentially ineligible” costs”

Public Hearing on Devine Water Improvements Project Monday, Feb 6 at 5:05 pm

The City of Devine received a Texas Community Development Block Grant (TxCDBG) Program grant, 7220119, from the Texas Department of Agriculture for a Water Improvements Project. A public hearing has been called for 5:05 p.m. on Monday February 6th, 2023, at the City Hall, 303 S. Teel Drive, Devine, TX 78016  to review the program performance of the activities completed under this grant which will include an explanation of the actual use of the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program funds and invite comments.

The City’s $9.9 million dollar loan is under review by the Texas Water Board.

Devine: Special Meeting Feb 2 to Consider Bond Election and to Select Projects

Notice of Meeting of the Governing Body of The City of Devine


Notice is hereby given that a Special Meeting of the governing body of the City of Devine will be held on the 2nd day of February, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. at the Dr. George S. Woods Community Center, 200 E. Hondo Avenue, Devine, Texas at which time the following subjects will be discussed, considered or action taken:

Discuss and consider for the Council to move forward with a Bond Election and to select projects.

Devine to hold public hearing “performance of activities” under grant

The City of Devine will hold a public hearing at 5:05 p.m. Monday, January 30th, 2023 at City Hall to review and discuss issues regarding a large grant the city received. The grant was designated for a Sewer improvement project and those attending the public hearing will hear a report on the performance of the activities which were completed under the grant. The explanation will include discussion of the actual use of the Block Grant and those present will be invited to comment.
Devine City Hall is located at 303 South Teel Drive in Devine.

Fundraiser for baby Ledger and the English family

Ledger James English was born on January 21st and flown to a larger hospital with a NICU. He weighed in at 5lbs. 4oz.

The English family was on vacation out of state when an emergency sent them to the hospital. Mrs. Brittany (Word) English delivered her baby prematurely and he was airlifted to another hospital to the Newborn Intensive Intensive Care Unit. Friends and family have launched a fundraising page to support the family in this trying time.
Brittany and Garret English welcomed their new baby boy, Ledger James English, in Colorado on January 21st. He weighed 5lbs. 4oz.
Baby Ledger is being kept in the NICU in Colorado while he continues to develop and grow strong enough to get back home to Wheeler, TX but with this comes many expenses including lodging, gas, food, etc.
Brittany (Word) English is Devine graduate Class of 2010, and resides in Wheeler, Texas with her husband Garret. Proud grandparents are Darla and Jimmy Word of Devine, and Sam and Kim English, great-grandmas Dee Jenkins of Devine, Joyce Word of Victoria, and great-grandparents Charles and Barbara Gautney and Billy Joe and Faye Chancey.
If you would like to help this sweet family you can donate on the Go Fund Me Page or drop off donations at The Devine News office on Monday or Tuesday or weekday afternoons. Please make checks to Brittany and Garrett English.

Link to the Go Fund Me:

Laredo Trail Ride celebrates…
61 Years of Cowboy Tradition Feb 4-10, riding through Devine

In 1962 Archie Paige along with the help of the Medina County Trail Riders, decided to make another leg of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Trail Rides that promote and advertise the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Original members included Rodney Mangold, Marvin Hause, Babe Gilliam, and others. They originally began their trek at the international bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. At that time, the ride was approximately 210 miles long.
Through the years, because of tick bans, and various other logistics, the trail ride now starts 10 miles south of Artesia Wells at the Oscar Moreno’s ranch. Current Trail Boss Jerry Chessher follows a long line of trail bosses. His father Jerry Chessher Sr, and his grandfather Jimmie Chessher were all trail bosses through the years, past trail bosses also included Missy Sultenfuss, Floyd McOsker, Roy Jarvis and Archie Page.
This February the Laredo Trail Ride will celebrate 61 years of this grand tradition. We will be starting from Oscar Moreno’s Ranch once again with a kick-off party on Friday evening February 3rd and leaving Saturday morning Feb. 4th for our 1st night stop in Cotulla, TX; where there will be a dinner and dance at the American Legion grounds. The public is invited. The dance is from 7pm to 11pm and a $5 cover charge for the public. Music provided by DJ Rooster Rick Chavez. We will leave Sunday morning the 5th for our Dilley night stop, at the Dilley Lions Club. Monday night the 6th we will stop at the A&D Ballroom in Pearsall, TX for a dinner and dance, the public is invited. The dance is from 7pm to 11pm and a $5 cover charge for the public. Music provided by DJ Rooster Rick Chavez. Tuesday the 7th, we will stop at the N6 Farms outside of Lytle, Texas. Wednesday the 8th we will depart Lytle for our night stop at Country Gold Dance Hall for a dinner and dance with Paul Sanchez & Wrangler Country the public is invited. The dance is from 7:30pm to 11:30pm and a $10 cover charge for the public. Thursday the 9th we will be at the Morlandt Electric Co, and Friday we will be meeting South Texas Trail Riders for our final leg into the official Stock Show Grounds. Any young single cowgirls between 16 to 20 years old is invited to participate in our Laredo Trail Ride Queen Contest. We look forward to promoting the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo throughout South Texas and hope that community will come out to greet the Trail Riders and join us at our dinners and dances. For more information look us up on Facebook under Laredo Tail Ride.

Funding delay threatens waterline project, city scrambles to seek $1 million line of credit to keep water project flowing

Water line crews working along Lee Dr. in Devine. At last Friday morning’s emergency meeting, council members were surprised to learn that the contractor had been working nearly 4 months without pay and would have to withdraw if not paid. Issues with the release of grant funds is under review by the Texas Water Development Board. Meanwhile a $1 Million line of credit was sought and approved to keep them working for the time being.

In an emergency session Friday morning (Jan. 20) the Devine City Council voted to establish a $1 million line of credit with the Lytle State Bank to cover interim costs on a multi-million dollar project to replace aging asbestos-cement water lines still serving the public.
District 4 Council Member Josh Ritchey said that a continuing gap in the loan funding committed to by the Texas Water Development Board made the council’s action necessary.
“The current contractor has been very, very good about working with us,” Ritchey said. “They’ve been working almost four months now without pay.”
“This past Friday’s emergency meeting was the first time council was made aware of the payment issue that had been going on,” Ritchey added.
The official notice posted for the Friday meeting warned that “the construction company working on the water lines has expressed its intent to stop working if it is not paid. The notice also states “if the construction company withdraws from the job the withdrawal will have an immediate effect upon the service of potable water to the citizens of Devine.”
For video coverage of the water line project being discussed during the Jan. 17 city council meeting visit the Devine News YouTube channel at
In March 2018, the TWDB awarded the city a $500,000 grant and $9.4 million in loans to fund the project. However, new state management assigned to administer the funding have re-evaluated many of the previously approved aspects, according to the engineer.
Asked to comment on the action taken by the council Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez issued a press release stating the exact motion voted upon Friday.
“I move that the City of Devine establish a line of credit with Lytle State Bank up to an amount of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) in order to allow the City of Devine to pay interim costs on the water line project that is funded by the Texas Water Development Board …,” the release states.
All payments on the line of credit shall be made from current revenues of the city, the release continues. The mayor and city secretary are authorized to “provide and execute” all documents that may be reasonably required by the bank.
A statement issued to us by the TWDB Monday in response to the city’s issues reads as follows:
“The City of Devine’s 2018 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund project began construction in July 2020 on the first phase of a planned four-phase project. The first contract for Phase I was terminated by the City in April 2021, and in June 2022 , the TWDB approved a second set of plans for Phase I.
“In October 2022, the City notified the TWDB that the overall project had insufficient funds and that it had bid, awarded, and started construction under a second contract for Phase I.”
“The TWDB is currently working with the City to determine eligible costs for reimbursement. When this review is complete, the next step will be to review the bid, followed by potentially providing a notice to proceed for the second contract and release of funds for construction.”
According to TWDB, the city’s water distribution system includes asbestos-cement lines, cast iron lines and undersized lines.
“The City is currently under a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality agreed order for failure to comply with the maximum containment level for asbestos in the water distribution system,” the TWDB SFY 2018 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund annual report states.
The system poses as potential threat to public health and safety and may lead to diminished water pressure and adversely affect the overall water quality distributed to consumers, the report states.
Asbestos-cement pipe, with an average life span of about 70 years, was used extensively in the mid-1900s in potable water distribution systems. Asbestos fibers have long been linked to serious diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.
At least one aspect of the ongoing friction with TWDB came up at the council’s Jan. 17 regular session when Mayor Cory Thompson asked the council to ratify a change order in the water line project contract deleting a $39,500 bid item for the removal and disposal of 3,950 linear feet of asbestos-cement pipe.
“We got notified by the Texas Water Development Board that we essentially either stop the project or we go ahead and make this modification,” Thompson said. “So we talked about it, we talked to (City Attorney Tom Cate) and we said ‘Alright, we need to go ahead and sign this today. We can’t have everybody stopping.”
That action was taken on Jan. 6 but still required council approval to ratify it, he said.
City Engineer Raul Garcia Jr. said that the original purpose of the project was the replacement of the asbestos water lines.
“At that time (TWDB) had approved the plans and there was a categorical exclusion environmentally to do that,” Garcia said at the Jan 17th meeting.
However, a recent turnover in staff at the TWDB led to further review of the documents submitted by the city, Garcia said. The agency reversed its earlier approval to remove and dispose of the asbestos laden water lines.
“They wanted to back track to Phase I to see if we had done anything and, luckily, no asbestos lines were removed,” Garcia said. “Nothing has been done on this phase yet.”
Rather than remove the lines and risk spreading asbestos fibers Garcia told the council he recommended keeping the lines in place but unused.
“What we are going to do it keep the line in place, abandon them and, at a later date whenever the city can afford it or we get funding for it we remove at that time,” Garcia said.
Several council members questioned whether abandoning the lines was the best course of action.
“Basically we’re going to leave them there to die,” District 5 Council Member Debbie Randall said.
Ritchey said leaving the lines in place “sounds like a huge liability moving forward.” District 2 Council Member Angela Pichardo and District 3 Council Member David Espinosa questioned whether the asbestos might leach into the environment as the disused pipe continued to decay.
Garcia noted that any AC pipe abandoned in Texas Department of Transportation right-of-ways are required to be filled with concrete. But the city would probably limit its interaction with the pipe to cap it and compact the area with added backfill.
“That’s where we have problems with the asbestos,” Garcia said. “When you break it, when you saw cut it, it’s the dust and residue that is dangerous.”
On a motion by Randall, seconded by Pichardo, the council voted to approve the change order. District 1 Council Member Ruffino Vega was absent from the meeting.
However, resolving the issue of removing and discarding the asbestos-cement pipe proved insufficient to satisfy the TWDB with the status of the entire project, Ritchey said Monday. Hence, the emergency meeting held on Jan. 20.
“This is just more fallout from that new person coming in and applying their own projected role to the project,” Ritchey said. “They want to reapprove everything the last person approved. How much was in error by the last person I don’t know. “
The city administration has reached out to U.S. Representative Tony Gonzales for his help in negotiating a solution with the TWDB, he said.
Devine’s water pipe replacement project has had a troubled history even before its current woes. In March 2021, Phase I was suspended after the council’s decision to fire the general contractor, Triun LLC. However, work with Triun resumed in September. In August 2022, the council approved a $3.47 million bid by Qro Mex Construction, Inc. for the current phase of the project which includes installation of 20,343 linear feet of 8-inch water main, 3,327 linear feet of 5-inch water main, 6,613 linear feet of service line, plus various valves, hydrants and fittings.
One aspect of the project creating water supply problems for resident of southeast Devine was also discussed at the Jan. 17 meeting when Pichardo reported widespread water outages affecting her district beginning the previous week.
“We haven’t had water in our district for three to four days now,” Pichardo said. “They turn it off during the days. As I was leaving we still hadn’t had the water turned on for the residents who are pretty upset.”
Rodriguez confirmed that an unknown number of homes were experiencing low water pressure during weekdays requiring contractors to establish two emergency “tie-ins” to replenish the system.
“Yes, we’ve been getting lots of calls,” Rodriguez said. “Again, this is something the contractors have to do to be able to tie-in to the new lines to get away from the asbestos.”
At the root of the complications is trouble finding the older lines due to a lack of good maps dating back to their original installation, she said.
“Come to find out there was an issue with one valve,” Rodriguez said. “They had to go back and get hold of our engineer because, again, like I said, that area of town we don’t have the maps. For whatever reason, back in the 1950s, we didn’t have good maps.”
The contractors traced as much of the existing network as possible before construction began “but there are some things that are popping up that no one was aware of, even public works,” Rodriguez said.
The affected area lies southeast of the Union Pacific railroad tracks and runs south along FM 3176 and as far east as Live Oak Drive. Included in the area are major businesses such as Wal-Mart and Sonic located on East Hondo Avenue.
Service was restored over the January 14 weekend but cutoffs resumed the following Monday, Pichardo said. In particular, residents were annoyed that door-to-door notification was not received until after the cutoffs began.
Rodriguez said the contractor, Qro Max Construction, were responsible for distributing the notifications. However, the work originally was scheduled to begin Jan. 17, not as early as Jan. 11, she said.
Ritchey said Monday that the water service disruption has since been resolved.

Man sentenced to life in prison for fatal 2021 stabbing

Luis Deleon, Jr., 51

A Medina County Jury sentenced a Hondo man to life in prison for the murder of his neighbor at the Cheers n Beers Bar in downtown Hondo.
Luis Deleon, Jr., 51, was found guilty of the July 18th, 2021 murder of Roger Palacios, Jr. Evidence showed Palacios was stabbed multiple times in his chest and neck with a large hunting knife Deleon brought into the bar. Witnesses described Palacios as a popular, kind person who was having a good time dancing a Cumbia in a packed bar before the attack. Deleon, who has a long history of methamphetamine abuse, accused Palacios of an affair with his then-girlfriend, though witnesses testified there was no such affair. Numerous eye witnesses described the assault in that bar in vivid detail; one which prosecutors argued resembled a “prison-style shanking,” done quickly, quietly, and without any warning.
After being found guilty, prosecutors demonstrated an escalating pattern of violence in Deleon’s life, with previous convictions for assault and domestic violence. Conceding that even a minimal sentence would likely mean Deleon spent the rest of his life behind bars due to his poor health, prosecutors argued that a strong sentence would send the right message to the Palacios family and citizens of Medina County.
“I commend my colleagues, Christian Neumann, Julie Solis, Debra Lankford, and Gilbert Valdez, for their diligent work in achieving justice and closure for the victim’s family,” said Medina County Criminal District Attorney Mark Haby.
Assistant District Attorney Christian Neumann and First Assistant District Attorney Julie Solis prosecuted this case in the 454th District Court. The Hondo Police Department investigated the crime.