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The Lead Oct. 27, 2021: City Council goes back to discuss Kerrville public safety building

The discuss becomes personal and chippy during discussion about establishing committee.


It's breezy, humid and a tad stormy this morning.

At 9 a.m. today, Families & Literacy Executive Director Misty Kohte and Tammi Bingham will join us on The Lead Live to discuss the organization's programming. At 9:30 a.m., Schreiner University Professor Kathleen Hudson will join us to discuss a lot of stuff — the music, the arts, history and just about anything else we come across.


The one thing that you can say about the Kerrville City Council is that it's rarely dull — even when it should be.

Tuesday night's meeting featured a lengthy discussion about the merits of a committee that would help determine city needs for a proposed public safety building.


Tuesday night's meeting was the first step in putting a general obligation bond on the ballot in 2022 to pay for the proposed building that would house the police department, fire administration and municipal court. The plan was to approve a resolution creating a committee and then hire an architectural firm to facilitate the meetings.

However, the decisions slowed through procedural moves by Place 1 Councilman Roman Garcia, who argued for amendments to clarify some of the resolution's language. The most significant sticking point involved the committee's expected engagement with promoting a bond and then fundraising to support it.

Garcia called the language confusing. After a back-and-forth, along with two attempts by Garcia to float amendments, city attorney Mike Hayes rectified the issue with on-the-spot changes. Ultimately, the Council unanimously adopted Hayes' wording.


Kerrville City Manager E.A. Hoppe explains some of the history of the city's efforts to build a new public safety building — dating back to 2016.

The City Council took this path when a citizens group rallied enough signatures to quash the city's use of certificates of obligation. This credit instrument allows the Council to borrow money without voter approval.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the city commissioned a feasibility study to determine the need for a new public safety building. The study is still closely held by the city because it contains real estate information. The Lead, along with others, filed a public records request to access the report.

However, City Manager E.A. Hoppe provided some of the first insights into the report by revealing the city was looking for 3-5 acres to build a 48,000-square foot building — or larger. Based on interviews with Kerrville police officers, there was consensus that the building would be in a central location. Hoppe also made it clear that the process needed the input of Police Chief Chris McCall and Fire Chief Eric Maloney, who are both new to their roles with the city.

Kerrville Fire Department Chief Eric Maloney and Kerrville Police Department Chief Chris McCall were prepared to answer any questions the City Council had about the propose public safety building.

There has been a philosophical schism on the Council about the handling of the city's debt. Garcia proposed in June to put the public safety building on the ballot, but that effort failed. In turn, that led to the petition drive that harvested 5% of resident signatures to stop the Council majority from issuing the certificates of obligation.

Garcia hammered down this point, saying the Council had the chance to put the bond on the November ballot and didn't take it.

"The city always had the choice, and had the opportunity, to put the measure on the ballot in November," Garcia said. "The city chose not to."

Mayor Bill Blackburn disagreed with that assessment, but Garcia continued.

"I did make a motion before, it was probably in June, I believe it was June 22, if I'm not mistaken, to put the measure on the ballot for the citizens to vote on. That was well before the deadline to do so. I just want to clarify the fact that the petition wasn't the thing that stopped us; the city chose not to."

This narrative drew fire from Place 2 Councilwoman Kim Clarkson.

"That's an opinion Mr. Garcia," Clarkson said. "We've had Council discussions from one to the other. It doesn't always have to go back to you and how you did this and did that. I just appreciate us going down the road."


So, yes, it did. The Council ended up approving the resolution. They then appointed the following members to the 10-person committee, which John Harrison will chair.

  • Roman Garcia — Steve Lehman, Barbara Dewell.
  • Kim Clarkson — Gary Cochrane, Justin MacDonald.
  • Judy Eychner — John Harrison, Sandra Yarborough.
  • Brenda Hughes — T. Layng Guerriero, Glen Andrew.
  • Bill Blackburn — Jim Thomas, Tony Leonard.


City Councilwoman Judy Eychner provided a moment of reflection during the invocation on Tuesday night.

During the opening invocation of Tuesday's City Council meeting, Councilwoman Judy Eychner offered a moment of silence for the victims of Saturday's fatal drag racing crash at the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. Eychner's prayer followed:

"Lord, we stand before you tonight with hurting hearts because people were badly injured. Hurting because young, innocent lives were taken. Hurting because we just can't understand. We just ask you Lord that you wrap your arms of love and care around all the families that were involved in this tragedy. Help them. Help us somehow to know, to feel, to trust in you. And, lastly Lord, we just can't say thank you enough for the wonderful caring and very professional first responders, who were once again, called upon to do something for which they trained, but hope to never have to do. Our community is so blessed by their presence. Lord, it's in your name that we pray.

Eychner, tearful toward the end of her prayer, and Brenda Hughes were the two City Council members at the race on Saturday.


Another GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support the last victim of Saturday's fatal drag crash in Kerrville — eight-year-old Santiago Abel Martinez, who died from his injuries at Peterson Regional Medical Center.

A GoFundMe account, established by the friends of the boys' parents, Abel and Karina Martinez, aims to raise $20,000 to help offset costs. The family is from San Antonio, and Martinez is the nephew of Rebecca Cedillo, also critically injured in Saturday's crash.

Martinez and Daniel Jones, 6, died after being struck by a 1990 Ford Mustang that lost control at the end of a 1/8-mile race. Kerrville Police said Michael Gonzales, 34, of Fort Worth, was behind the wheel of the car. Gonzales was seriously injured in the crash.

"Our sweet Santi left this world too soon," the GoFundMe post said. "He was a beautiful, happy boy who will be missed dearly by all those who knew him and interacted with him. He left an impact on everyone he met, even if it only may have been once. His bright light will keep shining in our hearts for all eternity until we meet again."


We chatted with Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn on Tuesday about the state of the city, and the aftermath of Saturday's crash. Here's a sample: "In terms of compassion, it's really a matter of feeling with or having sympathy to suffer together," Blackburn said during Tuesday's episode of The Lead Live. "I tell you in scripture; compassion is a very important word. It's very important in the life and ministry of Jesus. You see that repeatedly."

You can read our readout on the interview here:


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