5 Kerr County stories you may have missed this week

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Reworking the deal for Killdeer financing, but more jobs are headed to Kerrville

Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing is ready to expand its operations in Kerrville, but it has one big problem — the terms of its deal with Kerrville. In most cases, this would be a story of hiding the kids because the company needs more money, but that's not the case with the North Dakota-based avionics firm.

Killdeer is sitting on a directive from airline manufacturer Boeing to grow its business — by more than 125 employees in the coming year. That's a good problem because those jobs are beyond what Killdeer promised. Killdeer runs into trouble because the company's proposed permanent building — across the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport — is going to be more expensive than planned — basically double.

So, as you can imagine, you'd think Killdeer would come asking for more, but they're not. What Killdeer's bank wants is an equal footing with the Kerrville Economic Improvement Corp., which holds the lien on the project so that it can finance the company's plans. North Dakota-based Dacotah Bank, which expects to finance more than $6 million, also wants changes to the grant agreements to prevent potential clawbacks based on the deal's language.

Killdeer and Dacotah representatives made their presentation Monday afternoon to the Economic Improvement Corp. When Killdeer made their 2020 announcement they were coming to Kerrville, city officials plied the company with a $2 million incentive deal, including loans and grants. However, at the time, the company expected the cost would be about $4 million.

Dacotah Bank's Darin Bullinger said the project's original contractor couldn't do the work and backed out. That led to a re-bid of the renovation of the permanent building, and the prices ticked up. Killdeer has invested more than $650,000 in the location for site work, engineering and architectural plans. The 40,000-square-foot factory is ready for construction, and Killdeer plans to expand that by 30,000-square feet by 2028.

At the moment, Killdeer has 39 full-time employees working out of a temporary 20,000-square-foot location.

Bullinger's main concern is that while Killdeer has heavy demand from Boeing, the company is already behind in its timeline and deliverables. The EIC met in executive session and said they took no action but instructed City Manager E.A. Hoppe to continue to work with the bank and Killdeer on the terms.

A new era for the Kerrville City Council

Judy Eychner is Kerrville's 60th mayor.

Judy Eychner made it clear Tuesday night that she wants to keep moving forward, setting aside the conflicts that have roiled Kerrville's City Council over the last year, but she was the first to admit there's plenty of work ahead.

Kerrville ushered in a new City Council on Tuesday night at Arcadia Live, one where Eychner takes over as mayor for Bill Blackburn. Eychner becomes Kerrville's 60th mayor, and she has a commanding position with a solid majority in her corner to direct the city for the next two years.

"I appreciate the vote of confidence you have given us," Eychner said during brief remarks after taking her seat as mayor. "We are going to be moving forward."

Eychner took her oath of office with her husband, George, holding a family Bible. She becomes the third woman to serve as mayor. Joining her on the City Council is incumbent Brenda Hughes at Place 4 and new Place 3 Councilman Joe Herring Jr., who returns to the City Council 30 years removed from his first term as mayor.

Tuesday night's meeting served as the official certification of the election and a final sendoff for Blackburn, who served two terms and chose not to seek a third. About 100 people attended a reception for Blackburn and councilmembers and city staff praised him for his work ethic, leadership and kindness.

Kerrville Pets Alive continues to work to keep pets safe

Kerrville Pets Alive! helped vaccinate more than 100 animals on Saturday during its latest vaccination and microchip effort.

"We had 161 Rabies, 114 Distemper-Parvo, 35 feline HCP vaccines were administered and over 100 microchips were implanted," said Karen Guerriero, the president of KPA!

Pet owners lined up around the block at the Clay Street KPA offices, and a line of about 20 volunteers processed them. Of course, all of this comes as KPA! volunteers spent hours helping Kerr County Animal Services deal with 49 dogs that were taken into custody last week. That effort overwhelmed the shelter and its staff — requiring heavy lifting from KPA!

Help KPA! continue to provide resources to pet owners so their pets remain home, healthy and out of the shelter. Make a tax-deductible donation at kerrvillepetsalive.com or mail, KPA!, 317 Sidney Baker S., Ste. 400, PMB 345, Kerrville, Texas, 78028.

Peterson Regional Medical Center shows off its Robot!

Peterson Regional Medical Center celebrated National Hospital Week with a party for its employees and a sneak peek at one of its newest pieces of tech — a DaVinci robotic surgery machine.

The machine allows surgeons to do precise surgeries, especially gastroenterology and gynecology. The multi-million dollar device feels more like a virtual reality game, and on Friday, users got to test it for themselves.

"It's primarily for hysterectomies, a lot of general surgeries from colorectal, urology to bariatic," said Mitchell Clark, who is training hospital staff in using the equipment.

In the case of a gall bladder, usually performed laparoscopically, a push of a button sets the machine up for the procedure. Instead of doing the surgery manually, a surgeon uses a console with a real-time procedure feed. The surgeon can make cuts, remove the gall bladder and close the incision.

It's so intuitive that even first-time users can grasp the rudiments of the tools — like clasping or picking up a rubber band. The only thing the machine doesn't offer is the weight and feel of the body.

Peterson now has two of the DaVinci robots.

Kerr Konnect needs drivers and needs them now!

Linda Smith looks at the computer screen in the Kerr Konnect offices and sees a lot of magenta boxes in the software that controls the ride-share service's schedule.

That's not a good color because that means they have too many riders and not enough drivers. The volunteer-based service held an open house on Saturday to attract more drivers.

Georgieanna Itz, the organization's volunteer coordinator, said Kerr Konnect needs about 25 drivers. Currently, the organization says it has one driver for every three riders — and it's not enough.

"We have hundreds of rides not filled," Itz said.

Kerr Konnect has proven it's a critically important tool for older adults or others to find a ride to appointments or errands, and the demand is great. Smith remembers when the organization was founded in October 2018 that they thought they would have 100 riders within a year — they had that number by Christmas that year.

Want to help Kerr Konnect? Visit their website for more information: https://www.kerrkonnect.org/

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