Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Staff Writer 
VON ORMY-Zombies sightings will be common in Von Ormy over the next few days, as the newly formed Von Ormy Film Commission shoots a live action short film.
     After a month of planning and pre-production, cameras have started rolling at the Alamo River RV Ranch Resort for three days. This film will mark the first of many to be shot in the small city thanks to the newly formed Von Ormy Film Commission. Three members of the crew are residents of Von Ormy, and are excited to start on the project.
     Writer/Director Emmanuel Delfin, and Producers Brian Ramirez and Andrew Casares each call Von Ormy home, and are founding members of the Von Ormy Film Commission. “When you think of this city, and about how unique it is, you can see the incredible potential it has to be a major film hub,” says Ramirez.
     The production team decided to shoot their film in Von Ormy, after touring the city’s Alamo River RV Ranch Resort. “We were excited to see how untouched the river was, and were inspired to work here close to home,” says Ramirez.
     The film, which currently has no title, will follow the story of a lead character who arrives in the city.  However, his routine trip is interrupted by a zombie virus outbreak that has him fighting for his life in Von Ormy’s pristine Medina River bottom. 
     That is all of the plot that the Von Ormy Star is allowed to release at this time, but we have confirmed with the film’s producers that the film’s on-screen setting will be Von Ormy, Texas.
    As the basic story suggests, there will be a large amount of make-up and special effects, something that the filmmakers do not shy away from. “Even though we have a small budget, even though this isn’t a Hollywood movie, we can get very realistic looking zombies to do some realistic looking things,” Ramirez explains. “The best effects are the ones people do not notice, and we can get this movie to where it needs to be.”
      As for the city, Mayor Art Martinez de Vara is excited to see how the project turns out. “I believe this is just the beginning of our city’s impact on the film industry and the arts,” he says. Von Ormy has beautiful natural landscapes, picturesque rural views and suburban neighborhoods—a great combination for filmmakers.”
     The Von Ormy Film Commission, is a non-profit organization that helps facilitate the development of a local film industry.  For this project it is assisting in locating set locations, local venders and will assist on film promotion. In doing so it promotes the arts, local talent, local businesses and the city of Von Ormy as a viable location for future film projects.
     “This first project is a collaboration of our local talent who came together to help develop a film industry here, the directors are from Von Ormy, producers are from Von Ormy, most of the talent on this production are attending film school, the extras are locals,” explained R.C. Rondero de Mosier, a Film Commission board member.

    As the Von Ormy Film Commission moves forward with this first project, the team is already looking ahead to the next film. Producer Brian Ramirez announces, “This is film one. We are already in pre-production for a couple more in different genres. I thnk that this week is a great first step for the city to get its name on the radar of more producers and filmmakers.”   
     Producers expect the film to be released at several upcoming film festivals.  The Von Ormy Star will report on the film’s premier and DVD release when they occur.


VON ORMY—The opening of a new Dominos Pizza franchise is usually not front page news, but it is when it is the first to provide home delivery service in a rural area. 
     The pizzeria which opened in September and is located at 6335 Old Pearsall Road now delivers to the city of Von Ormy, Atascosa and the surrounding areas.  Mamma Mia!
     Store manager April Hernandez told the Star, “We came to this area because we knew that it was undeserved.  We have a location at Marbach at 410 and people from Von Ormy came in all the time, but it was too far to deliver.  Since opening this location we have had an amazing response; our order numbers have been higher than expected.”     
     Delivery hours are 10:00AM to midnight on Sunday thru Thursday and 10:00AM to 1:00AM on Friday and Saturday.  Just call 210-278-9909 and enjoy the convenience of home delivery.


Staff Writer 
VON ORMY— With overwhelming support, voters gave Southwest ISD approval to move forward with the sale of $165 million in bonds for a series of projects that are designed to address a dramatic increase in students.
      $161.4 million will fund the construction of a new high school and middle school on 200 acres of land that the district owns near Somerset Rd. and Watson Rd.  New roads will be constructed to access the site that once contained a race track. The middle school will be constructed first, with an expected opening of 2016 and 2017 for the high school.
    Anne Maria Espinoza, Director of Communication for Southwest ISD, told the Star, “In addition to the new campuses, the bond provides funds to improve our existing campuses so that all of our students have equal access to the best learning environment.”
     Southwest High School will receive $11.3 million in renovations, including electrical improvement and better disability access.      McAuliffe Middle School will receive $10.3 million for a new science lab wing, renovated office areas, classroom enhancements and ADA compliant parking lot.  Big Country Elementary will receive $4.3 million for new science labs, gym, air conditioning improvements and parking lot. Indian Creek Elementary will receive $5.2 million for a new kitchen, classroom enhancements, air conditioning and roof gym.
    Espinoza explained that State of Texas will contribute 51% of the districts' annual bond payment and local taxpayers will pay the remaining 49%.  This will be $144 per year for the district’s average taxable home value of $63,080.00. 
     Southwest had grown at a predictable modest pace of 2.3% per year for the last eleven years. However, recent enrollment has been nearly double the historic rate.  And the current year has already surpassed last years growth only mid-way through the year. This growth is occurring evenly across the district and is not concentrated in any area.
     Espinoza noted that,  “the greatest capacity need we currently have is at the middle school level, which is why it will be built first.”  In addition to buildings the bond calls for the purchase of $3.1 million in new buses and $10.5 million to bring technology into the hands of each student.
     Responding to the Star’s question of what new schools will be named, Espinoza replied, “Southwest has a practice of naming middle school for astronauts and elementary school for physical  features, such as streams, roads or neighborhoods, but none for high schools.”
     The Von Ormy City Council recently passed a unanimous resolution suggesting the name “Von Ormy High School.” Von Ormy Councilwoman Sally Martinez noted during discussion of the resolution that, “Von Ormy High School is a geographic designation like the present high school and a name that already instills community pride and support. I think that makes it an option worthy of consideration.”


By James Massey
Von Ormy City Administrator

     On November 7, 2012 in accordance with the requirements set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, Wayne Beyer & Co. presented Von Ormy’s Fiscal Year 2011 audit to City Council.  As the City Administrator, I am responsible for carrying out a number of duties for the City of Von Ormy, none more important than ensuring its financial health.  In the interim, citizens and the City Council are kept abreast of the City’s financial condition on a quarterly basis; however it is the City Audit, an independent accountant’s review of the City’s financial holdings and transactions that confirm the strength of the City’s financial standing at the end of the previous fiscal year.  By our independent reviews account, Fiscal Year 2011 was a banner year for the City of Von Ormy and resulted in the highest possible review scoring.
     Reviewing aggregate numbers, the City of Von Ormy increased its total net assets by $131,345 over the previous audit which, serving as the City’s first, accounted for two fiscal years.  Such an increase is staggering.  With total assets amounting to over $309,000, only 15% need be reserved as an assigned or dedicated reserve with an additional 10% serving as the City’s unassigned reserves.  Such stipulations allow roughly $230,000 of the City’s liquid assets to be used for maintenance and operation and project appropriations.  The greatest factor contributing to the increase in City assets was the efficiency with which the government has operated.  Though budgeted for total general fund expenditures in the amount of $276,850 (adjusted), the City spent only $200,539 during FY11; a savings of $76,211 which, combined with higher than anticipated revenue (chiefly $47,391 from sales tax receipts) forged a surplus of $100,171.
     Having noted that the City is in an enviably position financially, I would be remiss not to mention that we were not perfect in all areas.  Beyer & Co. pointed out a few deficiencies during the audit, several of which have already been addressed.  The City has had a depository contract with Texas Community bank since 2010 despite the findings of Beyer & Co. which stated otherwise.  While the City did not have a certified investment officer for FY11, the current City Administrator has received the requisite training and is credentialed by GTOT as the certified investment officer for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.  Regarding the City’s use of accounting software, the auditor has pointed out several ways in which our current can and will be improved by implementing standard practices in accordance with GAAP and GASB tenants.  Likewise, the issue of missing invoices may be addressed with improved accounting and reconciliation practices.  The remaining deficiencies are difficult to overcome due to the City’s limited number of Full Time Equivalent personnel.  Though a personnel policy is being drafted at the time of this writing, segregation of duties is nearly impossible to achieve as the entire administration is made up of only 2 staff members.
     Overall, the City of Von Ormy’s FY11 audit bears witness to the fact that the City has been an efficient and resourceful steward of public funds focusing on the provision of core municipal services.  This audit should be viewed as a harbinger of great things to come for this community as many of the same principles and measures have been continued throughout FY12.  Financially secure, we can rest assure that the City is moving in the right direction.
James Massey has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from St. Mary’s University and has been City Administrator of Von Ormy since 2011.


     The city of Von Ormy has reestablished its Animal Control Services at a special meeting called by Mayor Art Martinez de Vara on Monday, November 5, 2012.  The City approved a contract with Hope for Dogs, a Texas non-profit organization founded by Michael Suarez, the previous Von Ormy Animal Control Officer (ACO).  Under the contract Suarez will continue to serve as the city’s ACO, while the non-profit operates a “no kill” shelter for the city.
     Von Ormy operates one of the highest ratio “no kill” shelters in Texas.  “No kill” designation requires a minimum of 70% save to kill ratio.  Von Ormy ACS has a 93% ratio since its inception in 2010.  In recent placements, several strays from Von Ormy have been trained as service dogs, including Pumpkin (a chow mix found on Benton City Road) and Blue (a Husky shepherd mix from Horse Pistol Rd) who now serve as PTSD service dogs.
     Due to Von Ormy’s location as an outlying community on the I-35 corridor, it receives a high number of abandoned pets, mostly originating from San Antonio.  Mayor Art Martinez de Vara said, “I am very pleased that our Animal Control Services are again operational.  We strive to operate a humane shelter that gives these abandoned pets new leases on life, be that with new families or in public service.”


     In recent months, residents of Von Ormy have witnessed increased traffic, especially that of 18wheelers passing through not only IH-35, but also our neighborhood roads.  The increased freight and passenger traffic can be attributed to many things, but perhaps most responsible is the increasing activity in the Eagle Ford Shale directly to our South.  As the City’s traffic numbers continue to increase, it makes sense that businesses will continue to look to Von Ormy’s way to capitalize on a consistent market: motorists.  This has already been evidenced as the City has within the last 2 months landed 3 new businesses (Pilot-Flying J’s, Subway and Borrego’s Café) each of them placed along IH-35 frontage and each highly dependent on pass-through traffic.  Von Ormy has every reason to incentivize and push for additional economic growth due to its positive impact on City revenue.  However, planning and zoning is an administrative/legislative tool which allows Von Ormy to encourage the growth of a commerce sector while still ensuring a desirable quality of life for its residents.
     In the past the City has taken steps to deter certain businesses from operating within our City Limits, but not prevent.  While Von Ormy has adopted an ordinance banning sexually oriented businesses within a certain distance of churches and schools, businesses such as these are still able to operate within 95% of Von Ormy.  This past summer the City adopted an ordinance requiring a highly expensive, renewable salvage yard permit with setback requirements, but such a permit expense pales in comparison to the profits to be made from a salvage yard; particularly because of Von Ormy’s location affixed upon a major highway and between Loops 410 and 1604.  A major salvage operation like Pick-n-Pull would hardly bat an eye at Von Ormy’s permit requirements.  And what about noisy operations such as trucking or concrete storage?  The City is currently incapable of regulation outside of miniscule permitting requirements in these areas as well.  Zoning, on the other hand, is able to identify, define and prevent each of these activities from adversely affecting residents in their neighborhoods.
     An effort to zone would require City officials to define where commercial activity will be allowed within the City limits and, moreover, what types of commercial activities are acceptable.  Take retail sales for example, namely the Wal-Mart’s, Target’s, and HEBs of the world.  Granted, these types of businesses do not draw the same scorn from citizens that a City-dump would, but it would be best if these types of stores were kept out of neighborhoods to minimize traffic and instead kept on the highways to also ensure visibility.  The City is able to restrict the development of retail stores highway frontages through zoning those land tracts as “commercial/retail.”
     Now consider living near a business operating incredibly noisy machinery: depending on operating hours many a sleepless night could be had, not to mention environmental concerns that may accompany the business.   Knowing that future-residents would not seek out homes abutting machine operations, nor would current residents welcome such a neighbor, the City could zone land at least 2, 3, etc. miles away from Von Ormy neighborhoods to ensure quiet living.
     What about housing developers?  As economic growth continues with Eagle Ford Shale, housing developers will begin to look to Von Ormy as a strategic housing market for those wishing to live away from the fracking.   Housing in Von Ormy would be far more marketable if it can be guaranteed that less-desirable businesses will be distanced from the community; zoning allows this.
     As was mentioned above, Von Ormy has already experienced new business growth thanks in large part to Eagle Ford Shale.  By implementing a zoning plan, City leaders will be able to grow the City in a way beneficial to business and residents alike.  Knowing where businesses and residents will be located the City can strategically plan to provide road improvements, water and sewage lines, and necessary electric utilities.  Whether the City is prepared or not, the development will continue to crop up throughout our City Limits, with a zoning plan in place the City is at least placed in a better position to provide for and protect the interests of all those within its jurisdiction.  Will Von Ormy be proactive in controlling its development?  Only time will tell.


The below list is a summary of the major actions taken by the Von Ormy City Council over the past month
Regular Meeting 10/17/2012
-Approved resolution in support of restoration of a 4% franchise fee with CPS Energy
-Approved agreement to receive remainder of CEID funds from CPS Energy and deposit into Capital Improvement Fund.
-Approved entering into a regional planning and economic development coalition with the City of Somerset
-Approved resolution in support of naming a new SWISD high school “Von Ormy High School”
-Appointed Greg Reyes as a Deputy City Marshal

Special Meeting 11/5/2012
-Approved contract with Hope for Dogs for re-establishment of Animal Control Services

Regular Meeting 11/7/2012
- Approved Fiscal Year 2011 City Audit by Wayne Breyer, CPA.
- Approved acquisition of office-connex for use as City Marshal’s offices
- Approved installation of street lighting in City Park and recently annexed areas
- Approved Dr. Thomas Schlenker as the City Health Authority
- Cancelled meetings scheduled for Nov. 21 and Dec. 19 due to holidays.
- Approved bid to remove seedlings and trim trees in City Park.
-  Opened bids for routine shredding and maintenance of City Park.
- Approved dedication of remaining CEID funds for City Park improvements.
- Approved the drafting of a bid request for a municipal building to be located in the City Park
- Approved the adoption of an ordinance concerning tall grass and weeds on lots of less than 0.5 acres 
- Approved posting opening for the position for Code Compliance Officer
-Approved opening bids for repair of chipping on Benton City Road South
- Approved opening bids for trimming tree limbs in the rights-of-way  of Von Ormy Rd and Benton City Rd South
-Accepted the resignation of City’s Emergency Management Coordinator, named City Marsrhal Gerami interim-Emergency Management Co
-Approved the posting of opening for Emergency Management Coordinator

Special Meeting 11/12/2012
—Approved sale of three acres of land to Jarret VFD for construction of fire station.


 VON ORMY– Alamo River Resort in Von Ormy celebrated Halloween with a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of their new custom entryway. 
     Dressed in costume, as mustard and ketchup, owners Charlie and Roxanne Brown, greeted residents and visitors with a pot luck dinner and costume party. A haunted hayride down on the river bottom rounded out the days events. 
     Alamo River’s campground and RV park has gown rapidly since their most recent expansion in 2011.  Demand for temporary housing from  Eagle Ford Shale development and Lackland AFB have been the biggest draws.  Any why not?  Locals have known for years what great fishing and campgrounds the Medina River provides.
    Alamo River Resort was once a crossing of the Spanish Camino Real due to its gentle  sloping access to the River.
     Today its located on a still breathtaking stretch of the Medina River off of Trawalter Lane, Alamo River Resort has over 3/4 of a mile of river frontage to fish, hike or just enjoy the quiet beauty of this historic 96-acre working ranch. They have miles of wooded trails for hiking, mountain biking, horse back riding, and abundant wildlife to see.  They also have Guided Horse Trail Rides -- this includes Horse Rental all Tack and a Trail Master to guide riders.
     In addition to its campsite, Alamo River has over 45 RV spots available.  And for those without an RV, they have onsite cabins for rental. 
Visit Alamo River online at


Dragons Have Successful Season!
By Brett Wilson Sr.

     The Southwest Dragons season ended in the playoffs against O'Connor despite matching total yards gained. Turnovers and penalties tilted the outcome. Southwest had 7 penalties and O'Connor had 0. But making the playoffs was an accomplishment this year.
     Jaedon Johnson had a great playoff game with 7 catches for over 100 yards. Erin Mack was solid with over 4 yards per carry.
     I correctly predicted Southwest would make the post season this year..With some top players returning next year looks good too! Congratulations on a winning season! Go Southwest!

Recognition of Top Southwest Players
By Brett Wilson Sr.

     All the linemen were mentioned in last month's issue. They are deserving of much respect for having a great year. Without the outstanding play of those linemen, there would be no headlines for other players.
     That being said, Southwest had an amazing player this year by the name of Erin Mack. Mack had almost 1500 yards rushing this year with over 9 yards per carry average! Add in 20 touchdown runs and you have a huge season! Mack is only a junior so will be back next year. Congratulation in having an outstanding year!
     Nathaniel Scott also had a strong year with almost 700 yards rushing and over 8 yards per carry! Scott is also a junior so the Dragons look to have a very strong running game again next year!
     Jaedon Johnson and Jon Martinez were the leading receivers this year, with Johnson coming back next year.
      Lorenzo Gonzales had a solid year, with his completion percentage over 55% to help keep teams honest. Great year and again, congratulations!
Thanksgiving and Baseball!
By Brett Wilson Sr.

     As we enter the holidays, Thanksgiving approaches this week as I write this, we all should have reasons to be thankful. I have, now and for many years, had the privilege of coaching and being part of many kids lives as they play the great game of baseball. Having been present for so many amazing moments of outstanding talent, determination, sportsmanship, and character building contests I count myself as one of the most fortunate and blessed.
     While I am proud of all the kids, the ones with huge talent, the ones with huge heart, and some with bucket loads of both, I am especially thankful for being able to be part of my son's experience while participating in this game of baseball.
      I'm proud of you son, not just because of the talent you have for baseball, but also for the talent you have for life.
       We have been playing this fall and will continue to play into December this year. We found a league playing on Sunday this fall where our high school kids could play against college level players. We had some kids from Somerset, Southwest, Burbank and Southside   combine to form a team that gave those college and adult teams good competition.

     So Gilbert, Rudy, Javier, JJ, Sergio, Frank, Luke, Zach, Ryan, everyone else on this team and teams past, and especially my son Brett Jr., have a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and a Great New Year!