The Lead Nov. 15, 2021: One car has a story to tell; COVID-19 may not be done with us

The weekend was full of news and stories.


We hope you had an outstanding weekend! We certainly did by covering a wide range of things on Saturday, including the car show at the Kerrville Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We will continue our conversations about veterans on today's episode of The Lead Live at 9 a.m. Veterans Assistance Dogs of Texas Executive Director Verla Bruner will discuss the expansion of the program she now leads.


NOV. 19

"A Christmas Carol"


The Point Theater (indoor theater), Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram

7:30 p.m., runs through Dec. 11

No Christmas season is complete without a visit from old skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future who bring about the most famous transformation in literary history. Join a small group of actors who re-create the dozens of characters populating Dickens' timeless tale of the redemptive power of Christmas. Need info?

Stephen Perricone – Live at Pint and Plow

Pint and Plow, Kerrville

6–8 p.m.

Based out of San Antonio, Stephen plays various music covering 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90's classic rock, pop, & folk. He recently released an original self-produced record under the alias Drone Gone Rogue on over 150 digital streaming and download platforms worldwide.

NOV. 20

Outdoor Car & Bike Show

River Star Arts & Event Park,4000 Riverside Dr., Kerrville

1–5 p.m.Destination Cycle & Lost Souls have partnered to produce its first car and bike show. The event is Benefitting the Kerrville Lion's Club "Toys for Hill Country Tots"! Bike/Car Participant Fee: $25 or $20 with a new, unopened toy donation! This is a free spectator event. Awards will be given out to the top cars and bikes. Lost Souls will be putting on a 100 mile Poker Run too!!! Start location will be River Star Park. First Bike leaves at 9 a.m. $15 entry fee/$5 fee for a passenger. Questions: Destination Cycle – (830) 896-2453; Lost Souls – (951) 515-9967

Kerrville's Lighted Christmas Parade

Downtown Kerrville

6 p.m.

There will be a slew of activities leading up to the parade through downtown. Organizers said about 90 entries will parade along Water Street and Earl Garrett Street. The event culminates with a lighting of the Christmas tree at the Kerr County Courthouse.

Rumours, a Fleetwood Mac tribute

The Caillloux Theater, Kerrville

7:30 p.m.

All of the hits from Fleetwood Mac will be featured in this show. Cost is $12-$150.


The Kerr County Commissioners Court will certify the election results that created a pair of emergency services districts to serve Hunt and parts of eastern Kerr County.

The commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. today to conduct the election canvass and create the districts. The court is expected to meet in a closed session to discuss hiring a grant administrator to oversee a controversial $10 million grant from the federal government. The money will bolster efforts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


The Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees will hold its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. tonight, and one of the more interesting discussions will be a resolution to move sixth-grade students from B.T. Wilson School to Hal Peterson Middle School.

Trustees will also discuss:

  • A review of the district's safety plan.
  • A proposal to set the calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.


Eleanor Meier, left, and Hayden Magnell starred in "The Little Princess" last weekend.

Eleanor Meier delighted in playing the greedy Miss Minchin in a production of "The Little Princess," but she also had to meet the exacting demands of her director — Eleanor Distel.

Yes, two girls named Eleanor were in a play together in Kerrville. The duo helped deliver a stellar two-day performance of the play adapted from the 1905 novel written by British author Frances Hodgson Burnett, who also penned the classic "The Secret Garden."

Meier and Distel are 17 were two of the oldest members of the cast and crew. Yes, youngsters helmed this production — the performers and staff ranged from five to 17.

"It was a really amazing experience," said Eleanor Distel of the performance held at Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University.

The star of the show was Hayden Magnell, who held the lead of "Sara," who is left orphaned and apparently penniless. In turn, she's turned into a scullery maid by "Miss Minchin," who runs a boarding school and who has been under the impression that Sara is wealthy. When the money runs out, so does Minchin's empathy.

"It was really fun to learn all the things you'd have to say," said Magnell, a sixth-grader at B.T. Wilson. Magnell is a stage veteran now, playing the role of "Horton," the elephant in "Horton Hears A Who" at the Point Theater in Ingram earlier this year.

"The Little Princess" story was already popular before heading to the big screen in 1939's movie version starring Shirley Temple. It has since been adapted into plays, musicals and other movies.

For Meier, she had the challenge of reciting 173 lines — a number she remembers exactly.

"Being managed by one of my friends was fun," Meier said of Distel's directorial debut.

Distel wasn't alone in her management role, which included running the lines, getting the costumes, doing the makeup and building sets. Distel was joined by stage managers Caroline Daschlel, 16, and Trinidad Laurenzi, 17.

In the end, the all-kid cast pulled it off, much to the delight of parents, friends and family members who enjoyed two days of the performances over the weekend. Of course, one of them is Kerri Wilt of Ingram — a direct descendant of the story's author. Wilt attended Sunday's finale.



John Wedin's 1912 Little.

Every car and pickup truck at the Kerrville Veterans Affairs Medical Center Veterans Day Car Show had a unique story. Still, one story stood out because of its long connection to a Kerrville man's family.

The 1912 Little coupe was one of the show's stars and has been in the family of John Wedin since about 1917. The way Wedin tells it is that the car's original owner — a man named Jim Manning — brought the car to Wedin's father in Marathon, Texas, for service. Except Manning never returned.

All that Wedin has is a picture of Manning posing with the car in 1916 — in Terlingua. Wedin said the car sat for nearly 30 years.

A Kerrville resident since 1962, Wedin brings the car out to shows and drives it a short distance from his trailer to where he parks it.

"It doesn't handle so good," Wedin said with a laugh.

Manning's departure is still a mystery to Wedin.

Little Cars were made in Flint, Mich. and became the forerunner for Chevrolet. Pioneering car maker and marketer William Durant, one of General Motors' founders, set up his new car company with William Little. The company manufactured cars for about two years — before being folded into Chevrolet in 1913.

John Wedin holds a photo of his little from 1916, with the original owner.

The first models were four-cylinder cars and were considered highly reliable. Today, it's hard not to appreciate the sturdy build, including wooden spokes for wheels.


COVID-19 cases have been declining over the last six weeks, but does that make vulnerable for another wintertime wave? That's what many public health officials are suggesting, and they have a pretty good reason to be concerned — Germany.

Germany is currently experiencing its worst COVID-19 outbreak — one the New York Times describes as a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Germany's woes are felt across Europe, but will it have an impact on the U.S.?

The answer is probably yes.

"Clearly, Europe is the world's epicenter for COVID activity right now," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, the Center for Infectious Disease and Policy executive director at the University of Minnesota, during his Nov. 11 podcast. "If your look at what's playing out there it warrants real concern. This is the point that we've been raising in the last several podcasts about how this virus may raise its ugly head."

In the first week of November, Europe reported nearly two million new COVID-19 cases — the second-highest number since the pandemic's start.

Osterholm quoted officials in the Netherlands raising the alarm about the virus overwhelming its health system — this in a country where more than 65% are vaccinated.

In Kerr County, where the rate of complete vaccination is 47%, that could mean an impending crisis on Peterson Regional Medical Center, which still has between five and 10 people hospitalized on any given day with COVID.

"Sooner or later, this virus will find you if you're not immunologically protected by vaccine or previously having been infected," Osterholm said.

More than 6,000 people have had the virus in Kerr County, leading to nearly 200 deaths. With the current vaccination rate, that means COVID-19 can still infect about 20,000 people in Kerr County.

The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends children five and older receive COVID-19 vaccinations. In turn, that has lowered the county's vaccination rate to 47%.


Researchers at Penn State University revealed that whitetail deer are highly susceptible to COVID-19 infection and probably already spreading it. The researchers sampled more than 300 deer in Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 and found the virus that causes COVID-19 in 80% of the samples. Another study in Ohio, between January and March 2021, found similar results.

Of course, when it comes to whitetail deer, Texas is No. 1 — by far in terms of population. In 2019, Texas Parks and Wildlife estimated that more than five million deer range across the state. The impact on Texas is unclear, and there's no current monitoring for the virus among the whitetail population.

The Edwards Plateau ecological area, which includes Kerr County and most of the Hill Country, has one of the highest densities of whitetail deer in the state — with an estimated two million animals.

The virus has infected dogs, cats, lions, tigers and gorillas, but all of that has a documented connection with humans. The development with deer is not quite as simple.

"This is the first direct evidence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in any free-living species, and our findings have important implications for the ecology and long-term persistence of the virus," said Suresh Kuchipudi, Huck Chair in Emerging Infectious Diseases, clinical professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences, and associate director of the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, Penn State. "These include spillover to other free-living or captive animals and potential spillback to human hosts. Of course, this highlights that many urgent steps are needed to monitor the spread of the virus in deer and prevent spillback to humans."

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found the virus that causes COVID-19 in 40% of deer — and that was released in August. The Penn State study was offered on a pre-publication site before it will be peer-reviewed.

University of Minnesota's. Dr. Michael Osterholm, one of the nation's leading researchers on Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, discussed the finding in his podcast last week.

"This really raises a litany of questions," said Osterholm, the Center for Infectious Disease and Policy executive director at the University of Minnesota. "When you dig into these studies, you can see some pretty interesting, and frankly some puzzling, even frightening results."

The frightening part, according to Osterholm and others, is that many of the deer were free-ranging — meaning they weren't coming into contact with humans. There were deer herds that lived in urban areas that did test positive — possibly exposed to the virus by humans. What is concerning is the reverse — deer spreading it to humans.

"The fact that we found several different SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating within geographically confined herds across the state suggests the occurrence of multiple independent spillover events from humans to deer, followed by local deer-to-deer transmission," said Vivek Kapur, a professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at Penn State. "This also raises the possibility of the spillback from deer back to humans, especially in exurban areas with high deer densities."

Osterholm pointed out that the studies did not examine the clinical impact on deer — meaning how the virus affected the animals.

"A major issue for me is that we don't know how they these deer are being exposed," Osterholm said in the podcast. "A number of theories have been posed, ranging from human-assisted feeding to sewage discharge sites. The study out of Ohio did find a higher prevalence of infection of deer located in urban areas, which makes sense because these settings would provide more opportunities for interaction to occur, but no clear links have been made."

The studies also coincided with hunting season in both states where the samples were taken, leading researchers to caution hunters.

"While no evidence exists that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted from deer to humans, he believes hunters and those living in close proximity to deer may want to take precautions, including during contact with or handling the animals, by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and getting vaccinated against COVID-19," said Kapur.

The scientists genetically sequenced the samples, finding at least 12 different COVID-19 strains in the animals.

"The viral lineages we identified correspond to the same lineages circulating in humans at that time," said Kapur. "The fact that we found several different SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating within geographically confined herds across the state suggests the occurrence of multiple independent spillover events from humans to deer, followed by local deer-to-deer transmission. This also raises the possibility of the spillback from deer back to humans, especially in exurban areas with high deer densities."

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