Where I Live: Castle Hills

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Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Austen Ripper, 18 mo., (left) and Lincoln Ripper, 3, run through the Rippers' front yard in Castle Hills.

The road to Castle Hills has been a long one. I didn’t always have a plan for the next step or a vision for the years to come, but I always knew – even when I was away – that San Antonio is home, where I’m meant to be.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, on the Northeast side. I went to Driscoll Middle School and Madison High School and met my husband when we were both in middle school. With the exception of a few break-ups along the way, we’ve been together ever since.

I’ve always been very extroverted, social, and a natural leader. It’s in my DNA.  My dad, Mark Trevino, and his family ran an advertising and marketing firm, GTO Advertising, with my grandmother Alice Guerra at the helm. I joke that I grew up at an ad agency.  I learned a lot from that world, especially from the political projects taken on.

I graduated from UT-Austin in May 2008 with a degree in sociology. I was not sure what my next step would be, so I took a job with the Bexar County Civil District Judges where I managed the grants for the Bexar County Children’s Court, and after a year there learning about the public sector and becoming invested in that work, I decided to go to law school at St. Mary’s, where I completed a dual law and public administration degree.  Out of law school, my husband found a job through a friend from school at Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys. He has been there for 6 years now.

As for me, I was 26 and did not have the confidence in myself necessary to run my own law firm, which is what I thought I would do after graduating. I worked part-time for Tracy Wolff and the Hidalgo Foundation throughout law school. Tracy is an amazing mentor and teacher. When I got a call from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to work on his 2014 campaign, I remembered back to my grandmother’s political work and jumped at the opportunity to emulate her. I went on to serve as his chief of staff. Tracy Wolff and I often joke that not many people can speak Nelson Wolff, but I had figured it out.

In April 2016, I had my first child.  I had no idea how it would affect me. I’m a workaholic by nature, but after having Lincoln, I was ready to take time off and be with my son. So, four months after having my son, I told Judge Wolff, “I love you, but I love Lincoln more.” We laughed about it and I left my position with Wolff to be more present with my husband and son. I then started a part time law firm, Bell Ripper PLLC, with my best friend from law school, Hilary Bell, this time with more experience and confidence. We were pregnant together twice, running our own law firm, and it was the best support system I could ask for.

In 2017 my grandmother passed away. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, so I decided to name my daughter Austen Alicia after my grandmother, and well Jane Austen because I love me some strong female characters. Then in 2018, two months after having Austen, my father passed away. I was very close to both of them. They were the two political people in my family, so losing them really affected me.

I had taken three months of maternity leave so I was able to stay home with my newborn for that last month and sit in the grief of losing two of the people I was closest too, but also sit and stare at the beautiful little girl my husband and I created. It was a bittersweet 2018.

After three and half months off, I knew that I needed the structure of work and the drive of working on projects I cared about, so I came back to the office and immediately jumped into Judge Wolff’s 2018 reelection campaign.  Having worked in the public sector and on political campaigns, I had a lot of connections in that sphere and people telling me all the time that I should consult, so in August 2019 I launched SATX Consultants.

After 3 years of mommy mode, working part-time, and many moments of sadness, I was ready to start the next chapter of my career, and I knew I was going to need a support system at home and at work. I hired a part-time nanny, Alessandra, and a once-a-week housekeeper, Nanette. They are my people, and I love them. I also hired two new employees at the consulting firm. We are a team of five now. We also have an amazing support system in our immediate family, who all live close by.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Housekeeper Nanette Freyre, Marcie Ripper Trevino, Lincoln Ripper, 3, Phillip Ripper, Austen Ripper, 18 mo., and nanny Alessandra Hernandez.

In the middle of a tumultuous 2018, my husband and I bought our first, and what I think will be our forever, home in Castle Hills in April 2018. I wanted to stay living in San Antonio because of the politics. I wanted to be involved and engaged with my city. But we weren’t able to find a home that met all our expectations. We did not want to live too far from downtown San Antonio, so we started to look elsewhere. Castle Hills is just outside the city limits, so it’s close enough that we still feel like we’re part of everything.  It’s a city that provides a convenient location, as well as big lots with beautiful trees.

Our neighbors are all friendly, and we’re starting to see a lot of families with toddlers move into the area, which is great for our kids. We’ve become close with our neighbors across the street, the Hueys:  Will, Lisa, Charlotte, and baby Harper. I will always remember the day a SAWS pipe busted and caused a river down the street, and our kids were outside playing in it, floating their toys down the “river.” We told SAWs thank you for this evening’s entertainment via Instragram. 

We threw a Halloween party for the neighborhood this year with the Hueys. They put invitations on everybody’s mailboxes, unsure of what the response would be. The day of Halloween we set up in the front yard. We had a bounce house, a fire pit, hot cocoa, sandwiches, cupcakes, and candy. We were nervous that nobody would show up, but we had a great turnout. 

I met JR Trevino, our mayor now, two weeks after moving in and have met a lot of community leaders over the last year, so I give them my two cents when I can – even if they don’t ask. I don’t go to the council meetings because I have to draw some boundaries. Meetings are in the evenings, and nights and weekends are reserved for family. It’s very important to me, even though I love my work and being civically engaged, to make time for my family.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) Marcie Trevino Ripper helps Austen Ripper, 18 mo., and Lincoln Ripper, 3, find cookies in their advent calendar.

We eat at Jim’s almost every Sunday morning – Mindy is our waitress, and we love her. When we go to Jim’s we usually go to the park, either Hardberger Park or Walker Ranch Park. We also love Poppy’s Pizza and Sushihana for date night. We spend way too much time at Target Park North and have had our fair share of fast food from Freddy’s. I drive up and down San Pedro most days and like that my commute rarely involves highways.

One of the concerns I hear about the most from neighbors is about crime. Almost everyone has a security system. It is not too big of a concern for me. Turmoil at Castle Hills City Hall was recently a big concern too and still is to a lesser extent. In November, two new council members were elected in a special election.  In May 2020 there will be two council seats on the ballot, and I’m hoping for one of those seats to be filled by a new face. The League of Women Voters and MOVE Texas were extremely helpful in voter engagement and education in November and we hope they will be again in May.

The reason we love where we live is we have a big lot and house that our kids can grow up in and enjoy. If you see our backyard, it’s full of toys and a playscape. We’re so grateful that we have a backyard to do that in. I try to host play dates as often as possible.  I love having friends and family over, and the house is big enough to fit everyone comfortably. We hope to continue building those neighborly relationships and host the Halloween party every year. Maybe we will plan a spring neighborhood event, too. In the meantime, find me on social media. And if you have younger children, I’d love to add you to the play date group on Facebook.

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