Friday, July 12, 2013


Staff Writer
VON ORMY — In  a series of 4 - 1 votes the new City Council has moved forward with the process of zoning the city. Zoning is a land-use planning method used to separate uses that are thought to be incompatible, such as industrial uses in a residential neighborhood. The term “zoning” comes from the fact that zoning organizes the city into various zones or districts in which certain uses are allowed.     
      In recent votes, the Council has adopted both a preliminary map and preliminary comprehensive plan that identifies the current land use situation of the city and proposes zones for the city.    
     The preliminary plan creates the following zones, single-family residences, multi-family communities, commercial, institutional, governmental/school, recreational/green space, agricultural.
     The once quiet, rural and residential neighborhoods of Von Ormy are feeling the effects rapid growth spurred by the Eagle Ford Shale development.   
    Mayor Art Martinez de Vara told the star, “Among the chief concerns that we have is the increased number of heavy trucks operating and driving through the city.  Through zoning we can address this problem head on by restricting commercial trucking operations from our residential neighborhoods.”
   This sentiment is reflected in the preliminary zoning plan which states, “The community seeks to minimize the presence of heavy axle transportation through city streets, particularly Benton City South.”
    The plan goes on to state , “The City of Von Ormy strives to preserve and protect the interests and property rights of its land owners while still encouraging economic development within the City in particular and region as a whole.  The City of Von Ormy will act to preserve the “Von Ormy Heights” area as a predominantly residential area with mixed-use development to be considered along its boundaries, primarily on Benton City Road and Von Ormy Road.  Seeking to capitalize upon its coveted location, the City will actively market and push for commercial development along its IH-35 North and South as well as TX LP 1604 frontages as these areas are the most feasible for efficient provision of water, waste-water, and electric utilities.”
     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.    Zoning will also allow the city to restrict the location of sexually oriented businesses and industrial facilities. 
     When asked whether zoning will effect existing uses, Mayor Martinez de Vara responded, “this zoning plan only effects future land uses, so all existing uses are grandfathered.  Additionally, there will be a process for the granting of variances because sometimes it makes sense to grant an exemption.  For example, a day care facility next to a school.”
     Public hearings on the preliminary zoning plan and map  will be held July 24 and August 7 at 7:00pm in the Parish Hall of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on I-35 in Von Ormy.


Staff Writer
VON ORMY—On July 3 Jarret Fire Department was dispatched to assist Acadian Ambulance with a fall. A construction worker had fallen approximately 30 feet from a concrete casing that is being built for sewage lines in the area. Upon arriving on scene near Queesenberry Road and Somerset Road, firefighters found the patient at the bottom of the casing with injuries to his back and chest. Command was established on the scene and a request made for assistance from Somerset Fire Department for use of their ladder truck and high angle equipment.
     Firefighters David Gonzales and Robert Coronado were sent into the casing via a ladder to acces the patient and provide any medical treatment. Somerset’s ladder truck arrived and high angle/confined space rescue operations began. Asst. Chief Dugosh took command of the  high angle operations and positioned the ladder trucks ladder over the casing. Lines were lowered down to the crew , along with a stokes basket and the patient was secured to it. Everyone that was on scene , Bexar County Sherriff Oiffice, Acadian Ambulance crew, construction workers and firefighters manned two lines to hoist the patient and one firefighter out of the casing and onto the ground safely.  High angle operations were terminate and the patient was transported via Airlife to University Hospital.
     While high angle rescues are very rare for Jarret, the department routinely trains for such incidents, as well as other infrequent emergencies, such as swift water rescue, hazardous material incidents and agricultural rescue.  With the increase in industrial  development in the area, such emergencies are becoming more common and the fire departments are  adapting to stay prepared.


By Art Martinez de Vara
VON ORMY—This summer marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the City of Von Ormy.  The Von Ormy Star will take a look back on how we got here and what has happened over the past years.  The following article appeared in the very first edition of the Star—November 2008.
This is the story of how Von Ormy became a city.  There have been several previous attempts to incorporate Von Ormy, I learned about them during our recent successful effort to become a city.  We learned much from these previous attempts and are indebted to those who led these efforts. 
     This account is told from my perspective.  I reconstructed it from memory and how I recorded it in my emails, the minutes of our meetings and the news clippings I saved. If I left something or someone out it was unintended. 
       For me it all began when I moved back to Von Ormy in 2004 to attend St. Mary's Law School.  I grew up in Houston and had spent most of my summers at my grandparent’s house on Benton City Road in Von Ormy.  For me Von Ormy always felt like home and it did so immediately when I moved here.  Shortly after arriving, I joined the Jarret Volunteer Fire Department and became a Firefighter/Medic.    
     One night in the summer of 2006 we were expecting a large thunderstorm and possible flooding.  Chief Ortega called on the volunteers to stage at the Exxon at 1604 and I35.  We often did this when a big storm was coming through town to cut down on our response time to accidents and water rescues along I-35.  That night we had both Engines and a Rescue Truck at the Exxon. I remember it was a busy night.  We had several high water rescues at the low spot where Elm Creek crosses the I-35 access road.  This storm was coming in two cells and once the activity of the first cell quieted down, we regrouped at the Exxon to refuel and get one of the free fountain drinks they give us when we are on emergency calls.  We started discussing the need to fix the low water crossing where we had just rescued two motorists.  Like many firehouse conversations it grew in scope and soon we were discussing many ways to improve our community.  It is not surprising to me that an effort to create a city was born among a group of Volunteer Firefighters.   Anyone who would risk their life and health to help their neighbors and expect no financial reward are the definition of community servants.  I remember the very moment it came into the conversation.  I was sitting in the back of Engine One with FF Andrew Flores III, Lt. Stephen Flores, Chief Ortega and a driver who I cannot remember.  It just came out. "Why don't we make Von Ormy a city?" Stephen Flores said "Let's do it", then like many firefighter conversations, it abruptly ended when Fire Alarm rang our tones and we were off to another call.
     The idea kept coming up at the Fire Station on various nights, until one day I decided to see what other people thought about the idea.  I had just completed my class in Constitutional law and perhaps I was emboldened by my recent reading of writings by the founding fathers. I asked a handful of neighbors and family members who all said they thought it was good idea and one long overdue.  So I decided to get a broader input.
     On June 1, 2006 my mom, Sally Martinez, and I distributed flyers announcing a public meeting about the future of Von Ormy and possible incorporation. We placed the flyers on the gates of residents in Von Ormy Heights, down Benton City Road, I-35 and old Von Ormy along Quintana Road.   The meeting was held on June 11 at the Sacred Heart Church Parish Hall.  Nearly 50 people arrived and discussed the community.  Individuals address concerns ranging from the lack of public transportation and sewer to a sentiment that being annexed by San Antonio lose our identity as a community.  A show of hands at the end of the meeting showed near unanimous support for the creation a city.  It was then decided to hold a second meeting to allow more residents to give their input and to contact our local elected officials to ask for their support.
     My mom and I called and faxed every elected official we could think of.  Almost immediately we received the support of State Rep. David Leibowitz who on June 20th sent letters to all of Von Ormy stating his support of Von Ormy incorporation. On June 29th, we officially created the Committee to Incorporate Von Ormy (CIVO).  The following officers were elected and served for the entire incorporation effort: Chair, Art Martinez de Vara; Asst. Chair, Charlie Brown; Asst. Chair, Mike Suarez; Secretary, Mary Louise Castro; Treasurer, Raymond Vara, Jr.; and Asst. Treas., Sally Martinez.
     After some research we learned that Von Ormy was within the Extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of San Antonio. This is a five mile extension of the city limits of San Antonio where they have the right to enforce their ordinances and prohibit the creation of new cities. 
     I went to the St. Mary's Law Library for the first of many times during this incorporation effort and discovered that there were two ways we could become a city.  The first was to get permission of the City of San Antonio, and the second was to gather a petition to demand annexation by San Antonio, if they failed to act or annex us within six months, we were free to incorporate.  After much discussion at several CIVO meetings it was decided to try to get San Antonio's permission to incorporate, the latter option being to risky.
     I had learned from past incorporation efforts that getting permission of the City of San Antonio was going to be a major obstacle.  Simply put their policy for the last thirty years or longer was to never to allow new cities to form in their ETJ.  I felt that we needed the support of the County and State before we approached the City of San Antonio in order to let them know that this time we did not stand alone. On July 6th we met with County Judge Nelson Wolff and County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez in the County Judge's office at the Bexar County Courthouse.  By the end of the meeting Judge Wolff and Commissioner Rodriguez gave us their endorsement.
     Now that we had a plan of action and understood the legal and political obstacles before us, we sent another letter to all of Von Ormy with updates and announcing a public meeting on July 19, 2006.  The second public meeting went much like the first. A vote to authorize CIVO to pursue incorporation of Von Ormy into a City passed by acclamation.
     We began the process of gathering signatures.  We needed fifty registered voters who lived within the proposed city limits, but we decided to submit one hundred in case San Antonio tried to invalidate any. On July 12, the San Antonio Current ran an article “Von Ormy, Inc.” about the incorporation effort in Von Ormy.  This was our fist County wide media.
     On July 28th we meeting with City of San Antonio Councilman Richard Perez (District 4) to discuss incorporation and received a cold reception.  This was our first encounter with San Antonio's "no new cities policy".  This meeting confirmed our belief that getting permission was going to be very difficult.  I left this meeting discouraged, because I did not know how we were going to prevail against the City of San Antonio.  However, we had to move forward. We had the support of the people of Von Ormy and so we started the process and with the hope that we would figure out the rest along the way.
     On August 5 our first major fundraiser was organized by Charlie Brown and Mike and Amy Suarez.  It was basically a bucket drive.  CIVO members held signs at the intersection of I-35 and 1604, sold hotdogs, had information booth, passed out flyers and collected money from public.  The money was to pay for a survey of the proposed City Limits and to hire an attorney.  At this event we encountered our and perhaps ugliest display of opposition from outside of our community. 
     A public official from the Somerset area burst into the RV that our volunteers were using to cool off and unleashed a tirade about how Von Ormy would never be able to become a city and even if we did, we would not know what to do with it.  This display was in front of everyone, young and old alike.  I was stunned.  Standing in front of us was the personification of the paternalism and elitism that outsiders have held towards our community for generations.  How we handled that situation set the mark for how we handled the same attitudes when we encountered them in their subtle ways in the city of San Antonio and elsewhere.  We politely showed the naysayer the door and went back about the business of the day with added enthusiasm.  I knew on that day that no one would be able to stand in our way, we were fighting not only for sewer, pot-holes and police protection but for self-determination and empowerment of our community.  We never looked back.
     Charlie Brown began visiting with the business community of Von Ormy and the minutes of the August 8 meeting notes donations from United Rental, Valero, Bates Container, Love’s Truck stop, Amarak Uniforms, 84 Lumber, Turnkey, Mr. W Fireworks and others.  Shortly thereafter, the Suarez family hosted a CIVO fundraiser and sold hotdogs on side of road and passed out flyers to the public. By August 16th we had raised enough money to retain a former City of San Antonio City Attorney to represent us.  Unfortunately within weeks, he became ill and was forced to retire.
     On Aug 28th,  we met with Philips Properties about a land donation for a Fire Station and future City Hall for Von Ormy.  Charlie Brown had a knack for talking to people and identifying those willing to help us.  After several negotiations, Philips Properties agreed to donate an acre of land to the City of Von Ormy at the corner of I-35 and 1604.  He also got the Exxon Station and Burger King to join CIVO.
     At our October 5th meeting, I proposed the establishment of "Von Ormy Day" to celebrate 120th anniversary of Postmaster Branson Bywaters naming the town Von Ormy and as a means of further informing the public of our effort to incorporate as a city.
     On October 11, we filed a petition with ninety-nine signatures asking San Antonio to release ETJ for the purpose of holding an election on incorporation.  A week later we met again with COSA Councilman Richard Perez. Again the reception was cold.
     On November 1, the San Antonio Express-News published an article entitled “City Seeks to Retain its History.”  They reported “most residents favor incorporation”.  This was our first article in San Antonio's newspaper of record.  I remember that day because my phone would not stop ringing.  San Antonio processes petitions like ours by first having their Planning Department review the petition and make a recommendation.  This process took over a year.  Our first meeting with Planning was in early November of 2006.  Jacqueline Silva, Charlie Brown, John Ortega, Jr. and I met with COSA Planning Dept. Jesus Garza (NOT the same Jesus Garza who later served as City Administrator) and his staff.  The resistance was immediate.  It seemed to me that strategy was to delay us into going away.  COSA disputed our population stats and refused to accept any population growth since the 2000 census despite the obvious growth in utility hookups and other indicators of population growth. COSA Planning Department suggested we would have a more favorable application if we stayed south of the Medina River, and reduced our city limits to two square miles.  I remember the quote "you can have all the cows and trailer parks you like."  That was quickly followed by a reminder that their policy was to deny all petitions to form new cities within their ETJ.  Even so, we were informed that our application was not valid because the along of Neighborhood Road which we had included in our petition was part of San Antonio's limited annexation area.  We were politely told to re-file an amended petition and start the process over.   On Nov. 11, we submitted an amended city limits to the COSA planning department, but this petition was "lost".   After acknowledging that our petition had been lost COSA informed us that the Planning Dept. would not be able to revisit Von Ormy incorporation until Jan 15, 2007.
     I remember there was a surge of community pride leading up to the Von Ormy Day festival. This was going to be the first parade in Von Ormy since the 1976 bicentennial parade. Commemorative Von Ormy Postage went on sale. AJ’s Convenience Store in Von Ormy began selling “I Love VO” t-shirts at their store and their Von Ormy "wall of fame" began to take shape. On Dec 2, we held the first Von Ormy Day Parade and Festival.  Congressman “Ciro” Rodriguez, by then a supporter of us, and his brother County Commissioner “Chico” Rodriguez  are co-Grand Marshalls.  CIVO adopted the Von Ormy Flag for use at the festival.  Sally Martinez and Carolyn Campbell were the festival coordinators.  Alex Quintanilla was the parade coordinator. 
     The Von Ormy Historical Society decided to honor local residents who have contributed much to Von Ormy by giving them the honorific title of Count or Countess Von Ormy, a reference to Count Norbert von Ormay, the namesake of our community.  The first Count and Countess were Pedro Lila Torres and Amelia Torres, who were recognized for their efforts in restoring the Ruiz-Herrera Cemetery.  Around this time we received the support of Constable Ruben Tejeda, mostly through the effort of Alex Quintanilla.  The festival was a success.  About 1000 people attended and we received a lot of media coverage.
     At this point frustration had set in.  San Antonio was not playing fair.  It seemed as if we would never even get out of the Planning Department, much less a vote on our petition.  So I went to Austin.  On January 28th, 2007 I arrived in Austin.  The Texas Legislature meets for only 144 days once every two years.  The Capital is a buzz of activity and lobbyists and lawmakers are running around. I met with Rep. David Leibowitz, Rep. Mendez, Sen. Uresti, and Rep. Farias, all of who expressed a willingness to help us out.  Our meeting with David Leibowitz, Von Ormy's representative, went the best.  He offered to sponsor a bill that would allow us to incorporate without the need to get San Antonio's permission.
     If San Antonio was going to use the political system to stop us, why don’t we use the same system political to take away their power to stop us. Back at home, Charlie Brown and Amy Suarez formed the “Von Ormy Chamber of Commerce” to organize the business community.  The first meeting was held at Alamo River RV Resort Clubhouse.
     We need sewer in Von Ormy.  Not only is the lack of sewer holding back our economic development, but we have real public health risks involved with septic systems.  Our rate of Hepatitis and other water born infections is alarmingly high.  We could not wait for the City to be formed so arranged a meeting with the CEO of SAWS and a room of about 10 other SAWS people.  What we heard at that first meeting was astonishing.  After relaying our case for the necessity to bring sewer to Von Ormy, SAWS told us with a straight face "there is nothing wrong with septic."  If there is nothing wrong with septic, why doesn't SAWS convert San Antonio to septic system use?  Here again was another outside entity being dismissive of Von Ormy and doing whatever they needed to go just make us go away.  They were busy working on their projects near Toyota and Texas A & M, so we decided to look elsewhere. In early February we began talks with the Atascosa Rural Water Supply Company about the possibility of providing sewer to Von Ormy.  I spent an entire weekend at the St. Mary's Law Library and drafted a bill that would allow Von Ormy incorporate without San Antonio's permission.  The wording had to be delicately crafted.  Timberwood Park had successfully passed a bill the previous legislative session to accomplish the same thing and the 4th Court of Appeals found it to be unconstitutionally too specific.  Their bill was drafted with geographic limitations that could only apply to Timberwood Park.  The Texas Constitution does not allow specific laws like this.  Our bill was drafted to apply to any community that as over 100 years old and had been identified as a unique community by the US Post Office or US Census for the same period.  David Liebowitz's staff tweaked it a bit and on March 3, State Rep. David Leibowitz introduced the bill.  It was assigned to the Land and Resource Management Committee of the House of Representatives for hearings. 
     I was scheduled to testify for Von Ormy, but on I had a final exam scheduled on the same day.  On April 4th, Sally Martinez, Pedro Lila Torres, Amelia Torres and Ruben Castro went to Austin. My mom, Sally Martinez, testified before the Legislature on behalf of Von Ormy.  Representing San Antonio was Jesus Garza of the San Antonio Planning Department.  My mom carefully laid out our case, the needs of the community, the unwillingness of San Antonio to provide those needs, our unique history and heritage, San Antonio's pattern of obstruction, SAWS' dismissiveness and finally invoking our constitutional right as Texans to establish local self-government. 
     Our argument prevailed. The Committee gave San Antonio a tongue lashing and instructed them to work with us, or the committee would pass the bill to the full house and San Antonio might loose some its ETJ rights.  ETJs were designed to regulate growth that would someday be annexed, not to restrict a community from needed improvements in an area the city had no current plans to annex. 
     On May 18, we meet again with Jesus Garza of the COSA Planning and Infrastructure and their attitude had completely changed.  We began negotiations on an acceptable City limits for Von Ormy.  Though they were working with us, they were extremely conservative with their data.  It was clear that they had reconciled to give us a 2 square mile city, but nothing more.  Negotiations went slowly that summer because in May I graduated from Law School and began studying for the Texas Bar Exam.  Bar review was intense to say the least.  The Bar exam was the last week of July (I passed!). 
     On August 2, CIVO met and approved a city limit that met State Law and San Antonio's requirements.  This was quite a task.  Israel Rocha, now a private land developer, worked for many years in Congress and was involved in the recent Texas Congressional District redistricting.  He volunteered his expertise and on an afternoon, utilizing a custom mapping software and census data we created was able to come up with a single configuration that met all the requirements.  This is the current City of Von Ormy boundaries that were finally adopted.
     On August 15th, we filed another amended petition, this time with new signatures. Along with the petition we filed letters of support from Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, County Judge Nelson Wolff, County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez, State Rep. David Leibowitz, State Senator and Carlos Uresti.  That completed my plan of having County and State support to go along with our petition.
     Another important development that occurred was the Spring 2007 City of San Antonio election.  With it came a new City Councilman and new ideas. On October 7th Israel Rocha, Joe Kierstead and I met with San Antonio City Councilman Phil Cortez and staff regarding incorporation. To our delight Councilman Cortez agreed to support our petition and work to get it through City Council.  He said he admired our persistence and wanted to help our community help itself.
     On December 1, 2007 CIVO held the second Von Ormy Day Parade and Festival.  The Grand Marshall was our friend in Austin State Rep. David Leibowitz.  The Count and Countess were Joe and Mary Louise Castro.
     On January 1, 2008, our petition was heard before the San Antonio Planning Commission, who voted to give its endorsement to allow for an election on incorporation. I testified on behalf of Von Ormy..  Jesus Garza at that time was promoted and introduced a revision to the ETJ policy.  San Antonio now considers new city incorporations within their ETJ and looks at all factors when making its decision. On January 31 our petition finally reached the San Antonio City Council after fifteen months.  It passed unanimously!
     Our future was finally in our hands.  CIVO geared up for the incorporation election.  With the help of PowerPoint guru Israel Rocha, we put together a presentation of the positives and negatives of forming a city.   We held two public meetings, made yard signs, and went door to door to discuss the election.   On May 10th, 2008 the voters of Von Ormy, Texas, by a vote of 117 in favor and 16 against, passed a proposition to establish the city of Von Ormy, Texas. 
     After the results were announced, residents gathered for a victory celebration at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and toasted to the new city with locally made wine and champagne. We then processed to the church's bell tower and rang the bell for nearly one hour. The church's bell dates to the 1840's and is perhaps the oldest continuously used community symbol in Von Ormy.  It is still rung as it was in the old days by manually pulling on ropes. The last time residents rang the bell for an hour was at the end of World War II.
     After two years of hard work by those named in this article and countless others, we accomplished our goal of creating the City of Von Ormy and did so with a 90 percent consensus.  This is not the end of the story, but just the beginning.  No matter what the future brings I will always be proud of being a part of the generation that stood up for Von Ormy and brought home to Von Ormy part of the American dream: independence and self-determination.


Staff Writer
VON ORMY- On May 21, officials from Von Omy, Bexar County, U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc., and BNSF celebrated the grand opening of a new facility that will store and distribute sand used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process in the South Texas energy fields.
     The new facility site, located in the 280-acre BNSF Logistics Center San Antonio in Von Ormy, contains a two-mile rail loop. BNSF will deliver 100-car unit trains carrying 10,000 tons of sand every two days for unloading.
     "Business is steadily increasing in the Eagle Ford Shale, and we are excited about the possibilities this partnership brings for future growth," said Dave Garin, group vice president, Industrial Products. "We are pleased to offer U.S. Silica a unit-train solution that provides them with the consistency and service to meet their growing demand."
     The U.S. Silica facility has four loading docks for trucks to take the sand to drilling sites. Up to 80 trucks a day can be accommodated, said Jason Tedrow, U.S. Silica supply chain vice president.
     US Silica is the second largest domestic producer of commercial silica, a specialized mineral that is a critical input into the oil and gas proppants end market and various industrial and specialty products. BNSF Railway is one of North America's leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,000 route miles of track in 28 states and two Canadian provinces.
     US Silica anticipates the company will make three to four shipments per month of approximately 10,000 tons of frac sand on 100 car unit BNSF trains from its Ottawa, IL sand mine to meet the industry’s need for proppant. The shipments will include three different grades of dry sand, as well as resin coated proppants from US Silica’s new facility in Rochelle, IL, which is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2013.
    BNSF acquired the rights to use Union Pacific rail lines under the terms of the Union Pacific merger with Missouri Pacific in 1980, though a lawsuit by Southern Pacific Railroad delayed the operational merger until 1997.
   Federal law requires that at least two railroad companies have rights to utilize any given major rail corridor in order to prevent the development of rail monopolies.  


Editorial Staff
VON ORMY—  In 2011, the Texas Legislature sealed the fate of the scandal-ridden BexarMet Water Distinct by passing a bill that called an election for its demise and transfer to the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).   To residents of San Antonio this plan made perfect sense.  SAWS increased its service area and acquired additional water assets at no cost.  In fact the dissolution of BexarMet transferred a half-billion dollars of water rights to the City of San Antonio.  When one calculates the value of buildings, water infrastructure, movable assets, and other property the windfall was even greater.
     These assets did not belong to the BexarMet Water District, which was just a governmental entity.  They truly belonged to the ratepayers of BexarMet who mostly live in rural, suburban and South Bexar County and who paid for these assets via 80 years of water bills. Estimates at the time of the election placed the value of assets lost at $30,000.00 per household.
     Not surprisingly, the Bexar County legislators ignored the pleas of their rural constituents to provide protections against the reallocation of these assets. State Sen. Carlos Uresti was the worst offender.  After the House of Representatives added provisions guaranteeing that non-resident ratepayers would have an elected representative on the SAWS board, he stripped that provision from the bill despite pleas from local officials, the mayors of several suburban cities, the Texas Farm Bureau, LULAC, and the San Antonio Tea Party.  The latter two even held a joint press conference with the ExpressNews, providing the rare cooperation of liberal and conservative organizations unified in opposition to this facially unfair proposition.
     Not surprisingly, the areas of greatest opposition in the BexarMet election were Von Ormy (80%), Somerset (75%) and south San Antonio (65%).   Residents here understand the consequence of losing our voting rights, representation and vested assets.  The stacked election turned out as predicted.  The more populous north side of San Antonio out-voted the south side.
     The lack of representation on the SAWS board has had a notable impact for rural ratepayers.   SAWS  has unilaterally cancelled contracts that City of Somerset had negotiated with BexarMet, increase rates for the purpose of repairing sewer lines in the City of San Antonio, used the water rights once owned by rural residents to service the urban areas without compensation, and even appointed representatives for Von Ormy and Somerset to a ratepayer advisory board without consulting these cities or residents!
     Now a proposal has been made to transfer Von Ormy Heights from SAWS to Atascosa Rural Water Supply.  This move would restore voting rights to Von Ormy residents and with it accountability from their water provider.  Government is only responsible when it is directly accountable to the people.  SAWS is owned by the City of San Antonio and therefore operates primarily for its benefit. The transfer to Atascosa Rural Water Supply will undo some of the damage caused by the BexarMet fiasco, such as the lack of representation and accountability, but not all.  Long gone are $30,000.00 of vested assets per household and faith that our Bexar County state legislators will defend the voting, property or water rights of those not living in San Antonio, when San Antonio sets its eyes on any of  them.


Staff Writer
VON ORMY– At its June 12 meeting, City Council reappointed Von Ormy’s Presiding Judge James A. Rodriguez for another term.  Rodriguez has led the  municipal court  since its inception in 2010. 
     A vacancy on the court was created this year by the resignation of Associate Judge Xiomara Sostre-Escalante, who left to focus on her private  immigration law practice. 
    City Council appointed Mary Lou Alvarez and Adrian A. Spears, II, who now join Judge Chris Marrou as the city’s Associate Municipal Judges.
Judge Mary Lou Alvarez
    Judge Alvarez is a graduate of Stanford University, where she studied Industrial Engineering, and Seton Hall University School of Law.  She served as Law Clerk for Federal Judge Clark of the Eastern District of Texas and is an experienced litigator in the areas of product liability and family law.
     Among her notable cases was her representation of mothers belonging to the FLDS sect at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado.   This case received national and international media coverage.
Judge Adrian A. Spears, II
     Judge Spears comes from a well-known family of Bexar County judges and attorneys including his grandfather and namesake, Adrian A. Spears, who was nominated by John F. Kennedy to the Federal District Court of the Western District of Texas in 1961 and served as Chief Federal Judge from 1962 – 1979.  Prior to his nomination, Judge Spears served as the district campaign manager for L.B.J from 1948 - 1960.  Judge Spears’ twenty years of service on the federal bench in San Antonio was notable for being a strong proponent of civil rights and presiding over the lawsuit filed by the ABA against the San Antonio Spurs which resulted in the Spurs keeping George “Ice Man” Gervin. To honor his legacy former Congressman Charlie Gonzalez successfully led the effort in Congress to name the Judicial Training Center located in the Federal Complex at 643 Cesar Chavez in San Antonio, Texas, for Judge Adrian A. Spears. Other members of the Spears legal family include, Monroe Spears former Bexar County Assistant District Attorney, Carleton Spears former Judge of the 150th District Court, Bexar County Texas, Carolyn Spears-Peterson former judge of the 224th District Court, Bexar County, Texas, Franklin S. Spears (dec’d.), Texas Supreme Court and Senator J. Franklin Spears (dec’d.), Texas Senate.
     After graduating from Texas Tech University and St. Mary’s School of Law, Adrian A. Spears II became an associate with McKamie Krueger LLP representing municipalities throughout Texas from trial through appeal, including Laredo, San Antonio, Johnson City, Meadowlakes, Euless, Hollywood Park, as well as other governmental entities, including the San Antonio Housing Authority (“SAHA”), the Housing Authority of the City of Laredo (“LHA”) and Laredo Transit Management Inc., (“El Metro”).  Spears has also served as Assistant City Attorney for the Cities of Boerne, Hondo, and Euless, Texas.