Sunday, April 28, 2013


VON ORMY– The Von Ormy Jalapeno Festival is back!.  Residents will once again be able to sweat out the jalapeno eating contest due to a new coalition of organizers.  The festival will be held this fall on Saturday October 5, 2013 on the grounds of Sacred Heart Church in Von Ormy. 
   The festival was revived due to a new partnership with American Legion Post 466 (Von Ormy) and American Legion Post 485 (San Antonio). City council approved the partnership at its April 3 meeting.
     The festival has traditionally been operated by the Von Ormy Community Foundation and the City.  This year the American Legion Post 466 will take the co-ordination lead and share in the proceeds.   Von Ormy’s Post 466 was established under the leadership of Charles Hanson in recent years.
     At the festival committee’s first organizational meeting it was decided that the festival will open with a prayer service in the City Park at 8:30 a.m.  
     The parade route will differ this year as well and will process through the city from the new City Park to the festival grounds.  The parade lineup will be at the City Park for the first time.
     Organizers are planning for  the biggest festival to date with increased selection of music, food and fireworks.   Other partners will assist with the festival.  Sacred Heart Church will run the bingo games and the trail rides.  The Von Ormy Historical Society will once again name a Count and Countess for the Festival.    


By Brett Wilson Sr.
VON ORMY—The two city neighbors faced off in the second 1604 World Series, fought through several lead changes, with the eventual winner decided by one run (13-12) in the bottom of the last inning!
     Somerset won the first game back in 1922. When asked if the next game will be played before the next 91 years, Von Ormy Mayor Art Martinez de Vara responded, “There will definitely be another game next
year, we are planning to host the game in Von Ormy.” Several stellar defensive plays, along with multiple huge home run hits, made an exciting event for both players and fans.
     A partial list of Von Ormy participants included: City Administrator James Massey, City Attorney Woody Wilson, City Marshal Issac Gerami, Deputy City Clerk Veronica Ayala, City Councilwoman Amy Suarez, City Councilman Andrew Flores, Jr., and Former City Administrator Jesus Garza. Some of the participants for Somerset included: John Weckbacher, Larry Vidales, Matthew Hernandez, George Wiekle, Patrick Orosco, and Bo Caddell. Also on hand was celebrity official Maury Vasquez to help with close calls on the field
     While both teams would have liked to have won, it was actually a fun filled afternoon, with a good time for everyone. Somerset Mayor Paul Cuellar “The game was a great success, not only because we won, but because it was a plain old good time for everyone. People from all over our community literally became a team, that's whats important. It was exciting to see. It gave the residents a chance to meet each other, get to know their neighbors, and begin the conversation of what's to come for the future of Somerset and Von Ormy.” Mayor Martinez de Vara “This was a goodwill game that
brings these two communities together in a social, and competitive way. We are already working closely together with regard to planning and government.”
     When asked about the talks regarding joint economic development, Mayor Martinez de Vara said, “It means well planned cities, that are great places to live, and grow up in.” Asked about the new Southwest High School complex to be built in Von Ormy on Watson road, Mayor Martinez de Vara said “Another natural rivalry!” And on the possible name of the new school, “The Von Ormy City Council pass a resolution recommending SWISD place Von Ormy High School on it's public survey of suggested names. Readers can vote on this at:
     Good people having a good time, tailgate party, baseball, a “Take me out to the ballgame” song performed by the crowd, the American Flag, and sportsmanship. Can it get any better than this?


Staff Writer
VON ORMY —  Von Ormy had another month of unprecedented economic growth as indicated by an increase of over 60% in sales tax revenue received this April over last year.  This is the third straight month of such increases. 
     The success of all the communities in the I-35 South Corridor (San Antonio to Laredo) is dependent, in many respects, on the flow of traffic through the corridor, and the interaction of that flow with the communities themselves.  In 2009, an average of 25,000 cars and trucks moved along I-35 through the South Corridor every day.  Von Ormy experienced traffic counts over 40,000 in 2009, due to its inter-connection with the 1604 corridor.  That number is even higher today.
     For communities along I-35 in the Eagle Ford Shale play this traffic flow provides tremendous opportunities in terms of sales tax revenues generated by restaurants, hotels and motels, retail outlets and gas stations. However, according to UTSA's I-35 South Corridor study, only a few communities in the corridor have been able to successfully capture this traffic flow.
     Von Ormy has been the vanguard of strengthening its assets to increase competitiveness and the result in 2013 are plainly evident.  Sales tax figures for April (paid to the city in April, but collected the month prior) are up over 60% over the preceding year.  This was accomplished through the city's decision to emphasize its assets of being a new city.  Minimal bureaucracy, zero cost permitting, falling tax rates and the city's "can do" attitude have attracted several new businesses, including a Pilot Travel Center, Subway and Cinnabon.
     Travel demand models for forecasting freight and passenger vehicle flows indicate that rail, truck and passenger vehicle traffic in the corridor will likely increase in the foreseeable future. This means that additional facilities for trucks, travelers and freight will be needed.
     To take full advantage of this traffic moving through I-35 in the South Corridor, Von Ormy has focused on its frontage property bordering I-35. The city is presently holding public hearings on a new comprehensive land use plan that will identify commercial, retail and industrial facilities in close proximity to the highway. The purpose is to create a more attractive gateway connection linking the community to I-35.
    Von Ormy has also partnered with Soemrset on 1604 corridor development.  City Administrator James Massey told the Star, “One goal of the 1604 Partnership is to plan for locating transportation related businesses on 1604 and retail/commercial on I-35.”
     Mayor Martinez de Vara said, "By carefully developing our frontage roads, Von Ormy will draw in more investment. Much of this new investment will be directed toward the construction of commercial facilities like restaurants and hotels, retail shops and light industrial parks."
     The Mayor added, "If our city is to take full advantage of the present opportunities and our unique location, we must concentrate on strengthening our current assets and building new ones to improve our competitiveness.  In this unprecedented race for I-35 corridor development city's require strong leadership with a vision for regional development and the ability to creatively utilize their current community assets to create new ones."
     The Mayor said he will be working with Council and Staff to develop Phase II of an I-35 corridor plan.   Phase I included street lighting and parking restrictions.


VON ORMY- The San Antonio Young Lawyers Association (SAYLA) annually awards distinctions to individuals for their contributions to the justice and legal communities in San Antonio.
    This year’s “Outstanding Young Lawyer Award” was presented to Von Ormy Municipal Judge James A. Rodriguez.  SAYLA describes the criteria for the award as “a young lawyer who has demonstrated professional proficiency, service to the profession, and service to the community.”
    The citation with the award states, “James A. Rodriguez, a solo practitioner focusing on family law was named as the Outstanding Young Lawyer. James is a regular participant in many SAYLA and San Antonio Bar Association (SABA) programs and events. James was recently honored by SABA as the Community Justice Program Pro Bono Award 2011, Outstanding Volunteer Lawyer because of his frequent participation in the SABA Community Justice Program providing pro bono legal services to lower income individuals. James also serves as a mentor to many other young lawyers, providing guidance and advice on family law matters, opening a law office, and many other issues of importance to attorneys who are just starting their careers.”
     Judge Rodriguez has been Presiding Judge of Von Ormy since the court was established in 2011.


    “Taxation without representation,” this phrase has been uttered so often throughout American history that is has almost become cliché.  Tremendous efforts have been made to prevent this statement from bearing validity today.  Be it city, county, state or federal government, elected officials and their opponents have made it a point of dramatic emphasis to ensure their constituents remain well represented.  However, despite a political system so dense with officeholders that the average voter is unsure who represents them and in what capacity, the problem of taxation without representation still remains prevalent in very impactful ways; particularly in Bexar County.
     In Bexar County, CPS Energy has been granted monopoly status by the State of Texas as an electrical provider.  The theory in disallowing competition in the CPS Energy’s service area is that it will be required to provide fair electrical rates, not always competitive, to their customers without the fear of competition which may result in rampant marketing rather than quality service.  Additionally, while not required to focus on the growing foot-print of its customer base, the electrical provider is allowed to engage in constructive planning to prepare for growth and demand in accordance with market and population trends.  The intent of such a program is truly well-intentioned; however, is the execution?  CPS Energy, despite being the electrical provider for Bexar County, is owned and operated by the City of San Antonio.  Decisions made and planning measures considered are subject to the approval, and ultimate veto, of the San Antonio City Council.  So what of the other 28 or so suburban cities in the CPS service area?
     Because of the necessity for significant electrical capacity for commercial as well as residential growth, suburban cities in Bexar County are ultimately subject to the buy-in of the San Antonio City Council for the implementation of growth-ready infrastructure.  In fact, without representation on a CPS board, the reality of any type of added infrastructure for participating municipalities depends largely on whether or not that infrastructure is beneficial for the City of San Antonio.  Why add three phase power with significant customer capacity for a new industrial sector or transportation hub in Von Ormy, when improved property values, employment numbers, mean income, etc. will benefit that City rather than the City of San Antonio who again owns and is responsible for CPS Energy?  To allow competition where it can be stifled is a poor business strategy; the prevention of potential negative business strategies, ironically being the very reason the State authorized a monopoly for CPS Energy.  To further illustrate this point, take the termination of the CPS CIED Fund.
      Despite a 30-year contract being signed by all municipalities within the CPS Energy service area, ie Bexar County, holding that the energy provider will pay 1% of all funds collected from a City’s residents towards economic development for the City, CPS Energy decided to terminate this agreement unilaterally.  There was no discussion, litigation, or compromise, simply a “this money no longer exists.”  Not only do questions of the legality of such a program abound, CIED funding represented a guarantee that the consideration of added infrastructure projects for participating municipalities would be had.  Since the termination of CIED, there is now no such guarantee.  At a recent conference CPS Executives stated that a City’s desired infrastructure expansion would need to fit in with CPS’ over-arching plans… which are necessarily San Antonio-centric.  Clearly, a regional board would resolve a significant number of these issues, namely project consideration.  CPS unfortunately, is not the only culprit in this ‘no representation’ game.  Take San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS).
     Bexar Met laid claim to a number of unfortunate issues, representation however was not one of these.  Providing service to Greater Bexar County precluded from SAWS service, Bexar Met’s water planning has been stated as being a far-reaching plan that was well poised for development and increased consumer demand for several decades.  Unable to handle its own rapidly increasing demand, SAWS began to turn an eye to Bexar Met’s seemingly bountiful resources.  Offering neither representation nor oversight, SAWS lobbied to have the issue of dissolution of Bexar Met  voted upon by Greater Bexar County… including the City of San Antonio who, as County Seat, represents far more than a lion’s share of the population and hence voting power.  With little surprise, the proposition was passed and SAWS has since acquired Bexar Met’s water rights and already shown indifference to non-San Antonio customers charging higher rates with little promise of reason.  Likewise, in the City of Von Ormy, with decaying infrastructure and undersized lines for service-demand, SAWS continues to delay talk of improvements citing capital needs elsewhere (those being keeping up with San Antonio’s wish to develop its far west-side).  Despite advocating and pleading with SAWS for the extension of a modern sanitary sewer line similar to that offered to Union Pacific’s Intermodal Yard and Schlumberger, the water provider continues to insist to Von Ormy’s leaders that such a project will needed to be funded up front by the City.  Offering no impact fees, credits, or delayed payment options, absent any representation or significant influence on the water provider, Von Ormy is subject to the whims and interests of the City of San Antonio.
     Even beyond utility services, one need not look any further than the highway to see an additional venue in which rural residents in general, Von Ormy residents in particular, lack representation.  The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) works closely with TXDOT to analyze traffic growths, heavy-use areas, and mitigation plans to alleviate significant traffic.  With the growing complications resulting from the Eagle Ford Shale Play, traffic in small communities such as Pleasanton and Von Ormy are experiencing unprecedented amounts of congestion from business participating in that area’s operations.  Despite inflated traffic counts and, unfortunately, ever-increasing fatalities resulting from passenger vehicle-18 wheeler accidents, the MPO board continues to focus on the log-jam of urbanized areas such as US281-LP1604.  Amazingly, this argument of safety over convenience continues to be carried out at the time of this writing.
     The battle for representation of largely rural areas continues to be an uphill battle.  For its part the City of Von Ormy has decided to face these challenges head on.  Taking a stand against CPS’ termination of the CIED fund and insistence against regional representation, Von Ormy has appealed to the Public Utilities Commission and is negotiating a higher franchise tax payment to offset the loss of CIED without attacking CPS’ status as a monopoly.  In regard to SAWS, Von Ormy continues to invite the provider to the negotiation table for sewer services but has turned its sights towards representation on the Texas Water Development Board for planning water needs in South-Texas in general, SAWS in particular.  Even with the MPO board, an additional seat representing “largely-rural areas” has been requested and is currently being negotiated with the powers that be. 
     As with the original 13 colonies and those who carried the flag of equitable representation, residents of Von Ormy are poised ready to fight the good fight and attain the voting rights and influence its residents not only deserve, but fought to incorporate the City to achieve.


Special meeting 3/21/2013

Passed freeze on commercial construction in the city until zoning ordinance is complete
— Approved adjusted floor plan for municipal building

Regular meeting 4/3/2013

Conducted public hearing on comprehensive plan
—Approved voluntary annexation requests for parcel located at 13425 Quintana Rd and 13511 Quintana Rd.
—Approved continued sponsorship of Von Ormy Jalapeno Festival under the coordination of the American Legion Posts 395 and 466.
—Approved street light request at 15325 Benton City Rd.
—Discussed establishment of permit for use of the Municipal Park for non City events.
—Approved bid of Beyer & Associates for 2014 City Audit
—Selected  Rita Rangel to serve as Assistant Municipal Court Clerk

Special meeting 4/17/2013

Conducted 2nd public hearing on comprehensive plan


By Michael Suarez
     This story is about one dog that had a lot of small chances add up to one big reward for him.  A few months back a friend and local resident of Von Ormy was driving out to see her mother that still lives in our city.  As she happens to drive slowly past a fork in the road she noticed that a trash bag on the side of the road was moving.  For the life of me I don’t know WHY, but she stopped and went to the black trash bag and opened it.  Inside the bag was a tiny wire haired puppy that was sick, dehydrated, and on his last legs.
     Knowing that Von Ormy has an Animal Control (and us being High School friends) she rushed the poor pup over to me for emergency first aid.  Now I know a lot about dogs, but even I have to run to the vet’s office now and then. So off to the Veterinarian we went!  The staff at the local vet is always kind and tries to help us out as much as possible, but even they had their doubts on a happy out come for this tiny guy.  Dr. Green told us that the pup needed 24 hour care, something that is VERY hard for us to give because we have many stray loose dogs to care for.
     All was not lost! This is where having connections in the rescue world saves you!  FOSTERS!  Just like when children are taken from abusive homes, there are people that will take your little dog or cat in and give them the loving attention that they need to get better and then move onto a forever home.  We provide the medical care they need, and the foster provides the attention the injured/scared animal requires to become adoptable.  Just in time a nice family offered their home to this abandon pup, they gave him the care he needed to live, and they gave him the love all living things need to survive.  After a few months he was able to go out to new and exciting adoption events and sure enough he has his forever home! 
     We can line the chain of events up to see how this life was saved; The City of and People of Von Ormy having the foresight to see that a city is formed to protect not only its citizens, but the ones that have no voice but ours.  The Mayor and City Administrator for fighting so hard during the budget making process to insure we have the funding to do our jobs, the citizens that watch and report any animal abuse to us, the local non-profits that help us with donations of everything from dog food to paper towels, and the people that care for these abandon, lost, abused animals everywhere.  I would not have the heart to do what we do day in and day out without stories that end like Jax did.
      Thank you Elisabeth P. and Sharada S. for being there for Jax in his time of need, he is now in his forever home having fun like puppies should.  Being a foster is not a life time commitment for fosters, but it means life for the animals. Remember, don’t shop adopt!  There are many Animal Controls with GREAT dogs and cats available for adoption in the area; Doug  B. at Pleasanton animal control, Betty K. at Lytle animal control and of course Tallis and myself here at Von Ormy animal control have MANY great dogs looking for their forever home.  Be an animals HERO and save a life!


By Steve Walker

     In 1981 I was privileged to serve as the President of the San Antonio Junior Chamber of Commerce commonly referred to as the San Antonio Jaycees. Our chapter at the time was the fourth largest chapter in the United States. Some years later it became the largest in the country.
      The SA Jaycees was a non-profit organization that sponsored events such as the Orphan’s Shopping Tour at Christmas to get them clothes etc. for the holidays. For many years the chapter also sponsored a Fiesta event call La Semana Alegre that brought in big name entertainers. Monies raised were used for children and those in need during the year.
      That year as president was an exciting year to say the least. It was the year I spoke at the first Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in front of his statue on New Braunfels Avenue.
      It was also the year our chapter hosted the National Jaycee Convention that attracted over 10-thousand delegates from all fifty states to the Alamo City. It was a madhouse I can tell you. Our master of ceremonies for that convention was the dramatic actor Kevin McCarthy.
      We also hosted comedian and actor Danny Thomas who not only had a weekly syndicated comedy show on TV called, “Make Room for Daddy,” but he was instrumental in fundraising for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital by hosting a national telethon. He served as the hospital’s national spokesman for many years.
      Our keynote speaker was none other than President Ronald Reagan! It was his first major speech after the John Hinckley assassination attempt on his life. Needless to say San Antonio was excited to host the President. When he spoke for nearly 40 minutes he received nearly 20 ovations. The Convention Center was rocking!
      Just before he crossed the stage to the podium to a thunderous roar, I was privileged to be interviewed by News 4 WOAI which at the time was still called KMOL. I was maybe 10 to 15 feet away from the stage when I was interviewed.
      Although my interview was cut short as he strode to the podium, I was allowed to stand where I was interviewed and I was given a copy of his speech which I followed along as he addressed the ecstatic crowd. When he looked at me, he nodded and began his speech. I was overwhelmed to be standing that close to the President.  
     Like all presidents, he read off a teleprompter. I held the copy of his speech in my hand. As I meticulously followed his speaking with the printed word in front of me, at one point he went off script. I looked up startled and held my index finger at the point where he stopped and began to ad lib for the next five minutes.
      He shared humorous anecdotes and other stories. Much to my surprise when he finished his off the cuff remarks, he transitioned back to his teleprompter and continued on as if it had all been scripted! He was impressive.
      As a former Judge I proudly displayed President Reagan’s portrait in my courtroom alongside President Barack Obama.
     It was a day I won’t forget.

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace.