Sunday, November 22, 2015


SAN ANTONIO – Workforce Solutions Alamo released information today indicating that the Bexar County unemployment rate increased to 3.8 percent in October, up from 3.7 percent reported in September. 

     Bexar County’s unemployment rate registered equal to the overall jobless rate of 3.8 percent for the 12-county Workforce Solutions Alamo area, which includes Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Medina and Wilson counties.  Gillespie County registered the lowest unemployment rate in September amongst the counties at 3.0 percent while Atascosa County registered the highest rate at 4.9 percent.

Comparing the Workforce Solutions Alamo workforce development area (WDA) to the state and nation, the Texas unadjusted (actual) unemployment rate increased to 4.5 percent in October, up from 4.4 percent in September.  The nation’s unadjusted (actual) unemployment rate decreased to 4.8 percent in October, down from 4.9 percent reported in September.   Comparatively, the state and nation release seasonally adjusted unemployment rates with Texas increasing to 4.4 percent, and the nation’s unemployment rate decreasing to 5.0 percent.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Von Ormy Special Election Recount Results

VON ORMY--A recount of the November Von Ormy Special Election was conducted today at the Bexar County Election Administrator's office.  The election recount was a result of a petition filed by 27 registered voters requesting a recount of Von Ormy Proposition 1, which proposed a change to a Type C form of government.  Pursuant to the State's recount procedure the recount supervisor appointed a committee of four registered voters to conduct the recount.  Former Alderman Leonard Ruiz, Angie Ruiz, Former Mayor Pro Tem Sammy Martinez and Connie Martinez comprised the Recount Committee.  Former Councilwoman Jacqueline Goede and former City Administrator Everett Hernandez appeared as poll watchers for the petitioners. 

The recount resulted in the same results that were announced on election day.

FOR . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
AGAINST . . . . . . . 115
Over Votes . . . . . . . . .0  

Under Votes . . . . . . . . 6                   

The petitioners were required to pay a $200.00 deposit which is now forfeited to the City to cover the expenses of the recount.   The City Commission is required to canvass the results of the recount and report the official result to the Texas Secretary of State.   The City of Von Ormy changed to a Type C City on November 9, 2015. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Recount Petition Filed in Type C Special Election

VON ORMY-- A petition has been filed by 27 Von Ormy voters requesting a recount of the November 3 "Type C" Special Election.  The petition will trigger a recount of the electronic voting machines by the Bexar County Elections Department.  Following the outcome of the recount the Von Ormy City Commission will re-canvass the election.   A detailed overview of the recount process can be found on the Texas Secretary of State's website here:

Von Ormy Gets Restraining Orders to Recover City Property

VON ORMY--On Thursday, November 5, 2015, the City of Von Ormy was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against then City Marshal Heron Vidales and City Administrator Everett Hernandez for the return of city records, keys and property. The application states that Vidales and Hernandez ignored several orders to return the city property in their possession from Mayor Trina Reyes.  The application for TRO states that the property was taken from the City's storage pods and moved to the MGM Party House on I-35 without authorization from the Mayor or a vote of the City Council.   The Order to immediately return the property to the City was issued by District Judge Sol Cassob of the 73rd District Court.
       On Tuesday, November 10, the City filed a Motion to Enforce and Contempt against Vidales and Hernandez stating that they had failed to comply with the order to return city property. 
    A second Restraining Order was granted the same day authorizing the City to enter the MGM to retrieve its property.   The property was inventoried and returned to the City's storage unit. 

   A Temporary Injunction hearing is set for next Monday, November 16, which will allow the Defendants to claim any property that was removed and to account for missing property.   The Motion for Contempt is set for Nov. 30th.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Von Ormy Indictments Update

VON ORMY-- On November 6, 2015, the Bexar County District Clerk erroneously reported to the Von Ormy Star and other news outlets on the status of Verna Hernandez's case.  The Court Clerk erroneously confirmed via telephone and reported on its website that Hernandez had accepted a plea bargain in her case involving alleged open meetings act violations.  On Monday November 9, the Court Clerk clarified that no plea bargain had been entered and that the case was still pending. 
   Attorney Brian Hamner, who is representing all three Councilwomen, confirmed that the report of the Court Clerk was in error.

Bexar County Case Info:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Voters Approve Type C City; Elect New City Commissioners

By Staff Writer
VON ORMY-Von Ormy voters approved the change to a Type C City. The change removes the five member City Council and replaces it with a two member City Commission.  Sally Martinez was elected City Commissioner Place 1 and Alex Quintanilla was elected City Commissioner Place 2.  Sally Martinez is a current Von Ormy City Councilwoman and a former Mayor Pro-Tem who has served since 2009.  Alex Quintanilla is also a former Von Ormy Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem.  Quintanilla currently serves as a Commissioner on Bexar County ESD No. 5.   
     The election was triggered by a petition containing signatures of 82.  Supporters of the petition told the Star that they are seeking to hold three members of the current city council  accountable for their recent criminal indictments and actions since the May 2015 election.  Councilwomen Jacqueline Goede, Verna Hernandez and Carmina Aguilar were indicted in May on charges of violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.  The case is still pending in the 144th District Court with an upcoming hearing date of November 6, 2015.   In addition to the indictments, tensions have been ongoing on the City Council since the May election.  Among the biggest points of contention have been personnel matters, spending and attempts by Goede, Hernandez and Aguilar to strip Mayor Reyes of certain powers and the arrest of Councilwoman Verna Hernandez at a September council meeting. 

     The new City Commission will begin functioning following the canvassing of the election.  Mayor Trina Reyes told the Star, "We have a lot of healing to do in our city.  I hope we can move forward from this election in a productive manner, focusing on city issues and put these personal issues behind us."

Von Ormy Special Election (Nov 3, 2015) Vote Totals:

City of Von Ormy Prop 1 Type C City
FOR . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
AGAINST . . . . . . . 115
Over Votes . . . . . . . . .0  

Under Votes . . . . . . . . 6

City Commissioner, Place 1 CITY OF VON ORMY
Sally Ann Martinez . . . . . . . 134
Danisha M. Hernandez. . . . . . 25
Lillie Raelynn Goede. . . . . . . 49
              Over Votes . . . . . . . . . 0
             Under Votes . . . . . . . . 42

City Commissioner, Place 2 CITY OF VON ORMY
Alejandro Quintanilla . . . . . . 115
Sharon Rocamontes. . . . . . . . 77
            Over Votes . . . . . . . . . 0
           Under Votes . . . . . . . . 58

Modular Housing Consultants Holds Grand Opening

By Staff Writer
VON ORMY— The newest addition to Von Ormy’s business community Modular Housing Consultants held their grand opening on Friday, October 16.  A ribbon cutting ceremony took place as residents, employees the Southside Chamber of Commerce and members of the local business community helped Mayor Trina Reyes and proprietor Moe Lemos and GM Cesar Mascorro Jr. cut a ribbon. The turn out was overwhelming!
     Modular Housing Consultants is a retailer of affordable pre-fabricated modular homes. Modular homes differ from manufactured homes in that modular homes are designed to be attached to a permanent foundation like that of a site built home.
     Modular homes come complete with engineered skirting, decks, driveway and all utility connections. Another huge advantage to modular home buyers is that modular homes compare and appraise with site built homes in the neighborhood in which they are placed. For these reasons VA, USDA, FHA and conventional mortgage programs apply and customers can even qualify for zero down if they own their own land or have their VA eligibility.
    The new show room is located on the corner of I-35 and Quarterhorse Road.  The new location contains three show model homes, landscaping and fencing.  Owner, Moe Lemos told the Star, “We invested over $100.000.00 in improving the lot and making it look professional.  We love being located in Von Ormy and wanted to show off the community by building a top quality sales center.”      
     Homes sold by Modular Housing Consultants range from the high 80's to mid 100's.   There are 100's of floor plans available and Modular Housing Consultants can also assist customers in designing their home from scratch. 
    The new business location brings 7 new jobs into the City of Von Ormy. Modular Housing Consultants has three openings for sales consultants. Qualified applicants are encouraged apply!

Martinez de Vara honored as “Outstanding Lawyer”

By Staff Writer

VON ORMY— Art Martinez de Vara, of Von Ormy, has been named among the 15 Outstanding Lawyers in San Antonio this year by the San Antonio Business Journal.  Martinez de Vara is being recognized for his record as a legal practitioner, educator and policy maker.   The Award will be given at a November 19 Gala at the Pearl Stables. 

     Martinez de Vara described his law practice to the Star, “We are a rural law office, which means we have to be general practitioners.   Most of our local cases involve business law, real estate, criminal, probate, personal injury and family law.  About 1/3 of our clients are statewide.  We practice municipal law, campaign and election law and ethics compliance.  I usually travel out of the area at least one day per week.”

      The San Antonio Business Journal’s press release described the recipients in their press release, “These lawyers practice represent a wide cross-section of the local legal community, including large firms, boutique firms, government agencies and corporations. What they have in common is a track record of excellence that has had an impact on their organizations, industries and communities.”

    Art Martinez de Vara moved to Von Ormy in 2003 to attend St. Mary’s School of Law.  While at St. Mary’s he interned for Judge Xavier Rodriguez of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. 

     Upon graduation  in 2007 he formed the Law Firm of Ramirez, Marrou and Martinez de Vara, PLLC located in San Antonio with law school classmates Chris Marrou and Ivan Ramirez. 

     He left Ramirez, Marrou and Martinez de Vara to serve as Chief of Staff for State Rep. John V. Garza in 2010 during the 82nd Texas Legislature.  He told the Star that the most impactful bill he worked on that session was “a sweeping Home Owners Association Reform Bill.  We were originally trying to add open records and open meetings-type rules for HOAs, but then others amended it with election and ethics reforms.  It now covers all HOAs in Texas.”  The smallest bill he worked on was “a bill that allows Von Ormy to lower the speed limit in Rife Lane to 10 mph.  We passed a bill through the legislature and had governor sign it just for Von Ormy.”

     Upon his return, he formed the Martinez de Vara Law Firm located at 13940 Benton City Road in Von Ormy, where he still maintains his office.  He said, “I have had my office in San Antonio and prefer Von Ormy.   It is only a short drive to the Courthouse and clients prefer not having to drive into the city and pay parking.   

     In 2015 he again returned to the Texas Legislature serving as Chief of Staff for State Sen. Konni Burton of Fort Worth for the 84th Texas Legislature.  This session Martinez de Vara worked on annexation reform, criminal justice reform and business deregulation.  He told the Star, “I was representing a criminal client this month and was able to apply the new law we passed.  It was a great feeling.” 

    He has since returned to his law practice and continues to serve as Sen. Burton’s General Counsel on a part-time basis.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at Our Lady of the Lake University teaching business law in its Graduate School of Business and Leadership.  



VON ORMY— Von Ormy voters head to the polls November 3 to vote on a proposition to change the city to a Type C City.  The proposal was placed on the ballot by a petition of eighty-two registered voters.  If passed, the city structure will change from a Mayor and five Aldermen to a Mayor and two City Commissioners. 
     Proponents of the proposition are seeking to remove three indicted City Councilmembers and end the gridlock and infighting that has plagued the City since the May 2015 election.  Passage of the proposition will replace the City Council with a City Commission. 
      The election for City Commissioners is on the same November 3rd ballot.  If the change is approved by voters, the newly elected City Commissioners will replace the City Council this November.
The office of Mayor is unaffected by a change in city type and current Mayor Trina Reyes will remain in office regardless of the outcome. 
    If the proposition fails, the city’s structure will remain as it is and the current City Council will remain in office.
    Supporters of the change told the Star that they believe the city needs a change in leadership on the Council.  They feel that political infighting has become so intense that there is little hope of anything being accomplished unless a change in personalities is achieved.  Opponents have described that the proposition is a political power grab by Mayor Reyes.
    The proposition is being placed before voters due to a petition that was filed with the city signed by 82 registered voters.  The Texas Local Government Code allows voters to request a change in the type of city government by filing a petition with over 10% of the registered voters of the city.  An average Von Ormy City election brings 140—150 voters to the polls.  If properly filed, state law requires the Mayor to order an election on the question of changing the type of city.
    Mayor Reyes has publically supported the measure and is among the 82 signers of the petition, but she is not the lone elected official to have signed.  Councilwomen, Sally Martinez and Deborah Ivy also signed the petition, as did nearly all of the City’s former elected officials.
     Supporters have also cited a dramatic increase in city spending since May 2015 as a reason to replace the City Council at this time.  Among the greatest increases in city spending has been City Attorney fees.  In a 3 to 2 vote, Goede, Aguilar and Hernandez hired Clarissa Rodriguez, as City Attorney at double the rate of the prior City Attorney.  Rodriguez had represented the three Councilwomen in prior civil lawsuits.  Since hiring Rodriguez the City’s bills for legal services have averaged near $10,000 a month, a dramatic increase that quickly consumed the $25,000 annual budget allowed for legal services.  Legal fees were largely for calls and emails to the City Attorney on matters of political infighting. 
     The issue of legal fees has been contentious on the Council.  Mayor Reyes has called for discretion in the use of legal services and challenged the invoices and the intentional overuse of the city attorney for political advise.  City Attorney Clarissa Rodriguez recently resigned her position.
     Von Ormy Councilwomen Jacqueline Goede, Carmina Aguilar and Verna Hernandez were indicted by a Bexar County Grand Jury in May on violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act.  The case is still pending in the 144th District Court. 

Tejano Archive Project Seeking Local Family Histories

By Staff Writer
VON ORMY— A new and ambitious effort to collect and preserve Tejano History is underway and  your help is needed.   Researches will be holding an open house on Sat., Nov 14 at Texas Community Bank in Somerset. 
     Researchers are inviting the public to bring their family photos, letters, artifacts or anything they feel may be of interest.  Researchers will be present to help identify records of interest and significance.  If selected, records will be digitally copied for inclusion in the archive and permanent  preservation.  
     The project is a collaboration between Alamo Colleges and the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Missions.  It aims at locating, copying and collecting records related to the Spanish, indigenous and Tejano settlers of Bexar County that are scattered throughout the world in various archives and locally held in private collections.
     Records in public archives have already been identified in places  such as Cuba; Louisiana, Spain and Mexico City. 
     Professor Rudy de la Cruz of Alamo Colleges told the Star, “The records in these distant archives require diligent research to identify and collect.  We will spend hours combing through them looking for those related to Texas and Tejanos.  They are there just waiting to be discovered. The real gems for researchers, however, are those held in private family collections, because these records are unavailable anywhere else.”
     “The Von Ormy/Somerset area is perhaps the area with the deepest roots back to the early settlement period and there are many records held by private families that are of great significance to researchers.  We hope to find of these, so we can better tell the true history of Texas.”  
    Additional advisors on the project are the Witte Museum, the Bexar County Spanish Archives and Texas A & M—San Antonio.  The project was inspired by the upcoming tricentenniel of the founding of San Antonio. 
     2018 will mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of  the Villa de Bexar along San Pedro Creek by Spanish and Canary Island settlers.  Over time this settlement evolved into the City of San Antonio, while Bexar County retained the name of the original settlement.
    De la Cruz said, “It is remarkable that no such archive already exists.  This collection will serve students, researches and the public for years to come .”

Editorial: Uncivil Rights

     Do elected officials have the right to act badly?  Is there a constitutional right to speak out of turn?  Some in Von Ormy think so.  Indicted Von Ormy Councilwomen Jacqueline Goede, Verna Hernandez and Carmina Aguilar recently created a media ruckus claiming that their “civil rights” had been violated when Mayor Trina Reyes would not allow them to speak whenever they wished.  Von Ormy, like all cities, have established rules of order that dictate how a meeting is conducted.  Von Ormy adopted Robert’s Rules of Order to govern its meetings at its inaugural meeting in 2008.
     The rules of order are simple and date far back into history.   Members are able to speak once recognized.  No member may interrupt another member when they are speaking.  No member is able to speak a second time, until all members have had an opportunity to speak once.  No member is allowed to make personal attacks or disparaging remarks about another member.  The discussion must be on the issue being discussed.   These rules have been long established in American government and private organizations because they are designed to ensure a civil and orderly discussion.  Under Robert’s Rules of Order¸ the power of the majority is balanced against the right of the minority to be heard.  For democracy to work, it is necessary to protect the rights of all members of the council to participate. 
     The indicted councilwomen have also resorted to attempts to strip Mayor Reyes of her statutory powers, using politically charged rhetoric accusing her of being a “tyrant” and “dictator.”  But seeking to concentrate power among themselves is the very definition of what they are accusing.   Rather than seeking to concentrate power among themselves, Von Ormy City Council should embrace a balance of power in city government.  A system of checks and balances is necessary to prevent any one branch of government from ruling by force and is the basis of American democracy. 
     The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 70s was a struggle against institutional discrimination against racial minorities, women and the disabled and others.  Its goals were equal rights of citizenship, access to the ballot and equal opportunity in employment and pay.  What the three indicted councilwomen are advocating for has nothing to do with civil rights, but could be better described as “uncivil rights.”  The right to act uncivilly, to go on television and “act the fool”, to speak out of turn, to not have the rules of order apply to themselves, and to concentrate power in themselves.  Elected officials should be held to a very high standard of personal conduct, especially when acting in their official capacities.  The residents of Von Ormy deserve better.


By Staff Writer

VON ORMY— The Ruiz-Herrera Cemetery Association is planning its annual Dia de los Muertos / All Souls Day commemoration on Saturday, October 31 at 10 AM at the Ruiz-Herrera Cemetery.   The cemetery was established in the 1820s and is the final resting place of many Von Ormy area families.  The event will begin with a cemetery blessing conducted by Fr. James Janish of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. 

    This year’s historical program includes speakers Prof. Rudolfo “Rudy” de la Cruz of Alamo Colleges and  Ramon Vasquez, Executive Director of the American Indians in Texas at the Colonial Spanish Missions.

    A program released by the association, states the two will speak on “their organizations’ new Academia & Community Partnership. The Partnership seeks to create a Special Collection on Tejano history in light of the upcoming 300th Anniversary of San Antonio. This Special Collection, however, will celebrate the Multicultural history of the region focusing on the contributions of ALL groups - Immigrant and Native-  to what we call the modern-day Tejano Culture.  Come learn how you can join the Partnership in its mission to tell this story of our collective contributions to the Tejano identity.”

    The Ruiz-Herrera cemetery is located at the end of Ruiz-Herrera Lane off of Quesenberry Road. 



By Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO – Southwest ISD (SWISD) is proud to announce that they are the only school district in San Antonio to be recognized by the White House as one of nearly 150 public and private sector organizations who answered the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th Anniversary Call to Action, with two public commitments to our students. SWISD’s two initiatives are listed below.

     SWISD STEM Initiative: A commitment of more than $1 million to prepare every one of our 13,700+ students for success through a newly created STEM curriculum that allows students to explore STEM college and career opportunities throughout their K-12 experience. The curriculum will allow students to learn about careers in STEM, the education needed to achieve their goals, gain hands-on experience in working environments, and provide job outlooks for the career of their choice.

     SWISD My Diploma Program: A commitment to expand the My Diploma Program, moving from My Diploma I to My Diploma II, to address the most at-risk students with targeted support. My Diploma II will be part of the Response to Intervention Initiative and these students will experience even more strengthened intervention as well as monitored progress.

     Today, on the culmination of the 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month, President Obama is announcing 150 Commitments to Action with a collective investment of nearly $340 million which will build on, and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education, from cradle-to-career for the nation’s Latino community. The full list of Commitments to Action and online Commitment catalog is featured at 

ESD 5 Suspends Jarret VFD

VON ORMY— Bexar County ESD No. 5 has suspended its service contract with the Jarret Volunteer Fire Department, leaving the department without income or a service area.  Commissioners have cited “financial instability” as the primary reason for the suspension.  The department was unable to make its annual payment of $51,000.00 for the new Von Ormy fire station. 
     Jarret VFD has objected to the suspension and the categorization of being financially unstable.  Jarret VFD made its $17,000.00 portion of the annual payment to the USDA on time, but both ESD 5 and the City of Von Ormy have not yet provided their portions of the payment.  The Jarret fire station was a joint project of Jarret VFD, the City of Von Ormy, and Bexar County ESD No. 5, with each party pledging funds to the project. 
     ESD 5 signed a letter of intent to provide $21,000.00 annually to the station.  The City of Von Ormy also budgeted $20,000.00 in its budget for the station.  Neither of those payments have been made to date.
     Jarret members have questioned how can they  be suspended for financial instability, when the financial instability cited was caused by the ESD’s and City’s decision to not fund the station as promised.  
     ESD 5 commissioners have cited delays in the fire station’s construction and the cost of the project as their primary concerns for withholding funds.  The project was originally scheduled to be completed in the summer/fall of 2014.  After repeated delays the original contractor on the project was replaced. A claim on the project’s performance bond was made and the bond company hired a new contractor to complete the project.
    As of the print date of this article the fire station has been completed and a request for a Certificate of Occupancy inspection has been made with the City of Von Ormy.
    Jarret VFD has received a payment extension from the USDA, who funded the loan on the project.  The department has been working to address the concerns of the ESD and is actively seeking reinstatement. 
     In the mean time, the Von Ormy area is being covered by Somerset VFD, Lytle VFD and ESD 5 Fire and Rescue.