The third Medina County Commissioner’s Court meeting of October was held on October 21st, 2021. The 10 am session opened with an update on a new foster care system, and the meeting included the approval of several subdivision replats, a discussion on the potential change of a County Road speed limit, and more. With Commissioners Timothy Neuman, Larry Sittre, Jerry Beck, David Lynch and County Judge Chris Schuchart all in attendance, the meeting started with an update from Belong.
SJRC Texas update and future plans
A division Saint Jude’s Ranch for Children, Belong is the lead provider of community-based care for Texas Region 8b. Also known as SJRC Texas, the presentation on the non-profit was given by Belong’s Community Liason, Nichole Cody and their Regional Director, Kelly Dawton. Cody began the conversation explaining the move from state-run foster programs to contractors and community-based care for Medina County.
“This is a new system, exchange, of how we’re going to provide care and case management services to the foster children in Texas,” Cody said. “This all came about back in 2017, when the Texas legislature said: ‘there is definitely room for improvement in foster care. This is not working and there’s ways of making it better and that’s through Community Based Care.’”
According to Cody, Community Based Care is the hope that all care provided for a child or their families can be found within their county or area through education and providing of resources in their local communities.
“Because what we can offer for children in Medina County is completely different than what we can offer in Crystal City. It’s utilizing what’s within each community to meet that child and those families needs where they’re at,” Cody said.
This is so that if a child is removed from their home, they don’t need to be removed from their community too, avoiding the extra layer of trauma that could come with moving a child to a new environment because there are no foster homes within there area. Cody further explained this point with an example scenario.
“Think about the top five things you value in life … But let’s say that I come in as a caseworker and I take you away from those top two items,” Cody said. “Well there goes your house; there goes your church. So you’re going to hold on to those other three items, you still have those. Well, no. Sorry there is no foster home in Medina County, I’m taking you away from all of those. ‘Let’s pack up, we got to go.’ And you’ve just lost your whole world. And now you’re going to make a ten year old process that? A fifteen year old who’d gone through multiple traumas?”
Accredited by the council of accreditation and having served over 70,000 children for over 40 years, SJRC Texas is partially state funded and currently serves nine counties within the state.
“Our mission is to offer healing and hope to children and families, especially those affected by abuse, abandonment or neglect,” Cody said. “Our mission is that these children that are abused or neglected will be empowered to grow up and be happy, productive and caring adults…”
SJRC provides a program called Parents as Teachers where they’re going to the homes and providing support to parents and strengthening those families before crisis happens.
Cody said the overall goal is to increase the number of foster homes in the county and that the hope is that any child from Medina County will be able to stay in Medina County. As of October, 315 children were in SJRC/ the State of Texas’ care, with 80 of them being from Medina County and 35 children overall who are ready for adoption with 15 of those children being from Medina County.
In April, SJRC signed a contract with the state of Texas and are currently working towards implementation within the foster system and plans of launching within the next few weeks.
“We’re going to be taking over the placement and the intake of the children. CPS isn’t going anywhere; we’re going to be working with CPS. They’re still going to be responsible for the investigation and removal of the child, then they will send us the referral and we will work to find the best placement for them within our area…Making sure it’s as easy and the best care for that child possible.“
Moving forward, SJRC hopes to provide resources, therapies, meal drives and full case management for children and foster families.
Cody explained that SJRC Texas is currently in need of volunteer and donors. They will be holding two virtual informational meetings for the 8b region, including Medina County, where participants can ask questions, get in touch with agencies and more on Wednesday, Nov. 31st at 10 a.m. and Saturday, Nov.13th at 10a.m.
Woodland Public Improvement District Update
Next, the court opened the floor to Joshua Arendt, Vice President of MuniCap Inc. for the discussion and ultimate approval of the 2021-22 annual service plan update for the Woodlands Public Improvement District, or PID.
Arendt explained that the plans for Woodlands had been created March 2020 and the service assessment plan was approved by Medina County, March 2021. Bonds were issued to help fund a portion of the major development and the first phase public improvement costs.
Arendt explained that construction for the PID is just beginning, with that the end goal for construction has been set for the end quarter of 2023. Ardent also explained how the structure of this PID’s assessments could affect future property owners within the development.
“With this structure of PID assessments, a property owner can choose to pay the assessments off in two ways: The most common is to just pay off annually,” Arendt said. “It can be included as a line item on the property tax stage moving forward. Or they can choose to pay off the principle balance, in full at anytime. That can occur at closing or fifteen years from now…If that occurs, they will no longer be billed any future annual sums as they would have satisfied their obligation.”
Arendt explained to the court that if there were any cost overruns exceeding the planned budget for the construction of this PID, that this would not result in an increase on the assessments or annual bill amounts to the eventual homeowners, but instead fall on the developers of the project.
Commissioner Larry Sittre followed up Arendt’s explanation with his own aimed at the public.
“Just so the public knows, if something happens and the project does not kick off, the county is out nothing,” Sittre said. “It’s on the developer and the developer has been working with the county. He’s a fantastic businessperson and has put a lot of money into this project. “
Final Approval of Potranco Oaks Unit
Andrew Ortega, Project Manager, represented Moy Tarin Ramirez Engineers in the discussion and final approval of Potranco Oaks Unit 5. Located in Precinct 2. Ortega explained to the court that there are 28 lots and as of Oct. 21st, 2021 construction had been completed with only minor details left to address.
The average home value in this subdivision is ranging from $7-800,000 with the lowest valued home within the area being around $400,000.
Vaquero Pass Ranch Subdivision preliminary approval
The court then approved the preliminary approval of Vaquero Pass Ranch Subdivision off CR 6710, which is a small, single street development across 20 acres of land with 17 single acre lots.
Forest Creek Subdivision Final Approval
The final approval of forest creek subdivision of CR 570 in Precinct 3 was discussed and eventually approved by the court. With 66 lots, with the average lot sizes being 1.5 acres each, water services have been installed to the area.
Oak Meadows Final Approval tabled
The final approval of Phase Two for the construction of Oak Meadows off of County Road 7711 in Devine, was put on hold due to lack of fire protections.
Commissioner Jerry Beck said that they are planning to visit the 20-lot subdivision on October 26th to check for these fire protections.
“We’re going to make sure that there’s enough available water sources out there for the homes out in that area,” Commissioner Beck said. “So we’re going to make that determination Wednesday.”
Though the construction of roads has been completed and the average lot size set to be over 5 acres on average, the action was moved to the next agenda until fire protections are put in place.
County Road 5710 Replat
The vacate and replat of 2507 County Road 5710 of Precinct 4 in Devine was approved. Commissioner Beck explained the situation of that area.
“It’s a subdivision and there’s only five lots in it,” Commissioner Beck said. “But only four of them are usable, the other one is in a flood plain. They can’t build on it.”
Replat of lot 300 in Bear Springs Ranch
The owners of lot 300 of Bear Springs ranch subdivision, Unit 9, off of FM 1283 wanted to give 2 acres of the 10 acres to a relative, so the property needs to be re-plated in order to move forward with any plans.
Laguna de Medina Preliminary approval
The Preliminary approval of the final plat of Laguna de Medina, Section G of Holiday Villages Medina included arevision request to extend private Rd 1505; off of County Road 151.The previous plan didn’t take into account that there was belly in the hill they were building on, so Patton wants to extend the road around that bump.
Since the on resolution of votes cast to elect directors for the appraisal district of Medina County for the years 2022-2023 was not needed, the action for this item was tabled for next session.
Approval of archival digitation probate
For the approval of quote from Kofile for archival digitization of probate, Commissioners Court Minutes and Marks & Brands; Medina County Clerk, Gina Champion, explained how preservation grant funds would be used for the year of 2021.
“This years project is to digitize and preserve our probates,” Champion said. “All of our papers that are folded up and stuck in these little folders that are starting to fall apart because of age, they have to be kept preserved or in good a shape has possible for the future.”
Champion said that the total cost of this project would be $372, 206.62.
“This project doesn’t need to be paid for until it’s completed which probably won’t be until sometime next year, until then we will still be collecting our fees for this preservation fund. By then we’ll have accumulated more money.”
Atascosa and Medina County Jail Agreement
On Sept. 27, 2021 an Interlocal Agreement was made between Atascosa County and Medina County Texas where Atascosa agrees to house prisoners for Medina County on a space available basis.
“This is just a renewal, so the sheriff can put his prisoners in their jail while we’re building ours,” Judge Schuchart.
Approved during this session, the agreement which stated that Medina would pay Atascosa a daily prisoner housing fee of $50.00 a day, along with any and all health care service fees for Medina prisoners being housed. Atascosa will not house injured prisoners unless a medical release has been signed and the Atascosa County Sheriff reserves all right to refuse the return of any Medina prisoner as determined by Atascosa.
Resolution of FY2022 Authorized
For the adoption of resolution authorizing participation in the FY2022 Texas Indigent Defense Formula Grant Program, Judge Schuchart explained to the court the purpose of their action.
“This is just to say that we promise to spend money the way they tell us to,” Schuchart said.
The possible action on bid acceptance and award for the purchase of a Gas Work Truck for Precinct 2 and the possible action on bid acceptance and award for the purchase of a One Ton Diesel Truck for precinct 3 were both tabled due to lack of bids.
Public Hearing for speed limit change authorized
The ability to authorize a public hearing to reduce the speed limit on County Road 466 and County road 478 of precinct 2 was approved along with the permission to purchase a shredder for the same precinct thro a Purchasing Cooperative.
Sheriff Office, jail addition
When approving the ratification of change orders for the Jail Addition, Schuchart again further explain their action to the court.
“This $18,000 is an addition,” Schuchart said. “When you go the sheriff’s office, he actually has a space up on the second floor that you can walk in. He uses it for storage and currently they have to access it from the inside…this is to build a metal staircase so they can walk up and carry things…to make the second floor a lot more accessible.”
Lastly the court went into executive session to consult with their attorney and discuss economic development negations, but made no motion or announcements after reopening the session.
By Christian Toler