We are on the road today, and because of that, The Lead Live will be on hiatus until Oct. 20. We're off to experience some fall color in New England. However, there's still news and notes to share this morning.
GOV. ABBOTT VS. PRESIDENT BIDEN
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden continue their war of words on about all things coronavirus. Biden, of course, issued that large companies that are federally regulated or do business with the federal government must have employees vaccinated against coronavirus. Two of Texas' biggest companies — American Airlines and Southwest Airlines — fall into the regulated category and have ordered employees to be vaccinated.
In turn, Abbott issued an executive order against vaccine mandates. However, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said they would not comply with the state edict. Abbott blamed Biden for a bungled rollout of vaccines and said he was defending Texans who worried they would lose their jobs.
The social media outrage machine was fired up as a result:
PANDEMIC SHOWS MORE SIGNS OF SLOWING IN KERR COUNTY
On Tuesday, there was some good news on the coronavirus pandemic when Peterson Regional Medical Center reported three new cases — the lowest number in weeks. There were still 14 people hospitalized, including four in the intensive care unit. The death toll did not change — the best news yet.
As cases decline, there doesn't seem to be a consensus about whether we will face another wave. One of the more reasonable voices about the pandemic, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, who President Trump appointed, seems cautious about the delta variant.
KERRVILLE CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PUBLIC HEALTH TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS
As the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country, many here in Kerrville and Kerr County didn't know where to turn when it came to finding resources. Throw in the ice storm a year later, and that signaled a problem.
So, in March, Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn launched a task force of City Councilwoman Brenda Hughes, former City Councilwoman Delayne Sigerman and Megan Folkerts, a senior city management analyst, to examine how the city should manage public health.
There were two big takeaways from the task force:
- Navigating health care and insurance access is challenging.
- There are also significant issues with mental health.
The health insurance issue is tricky since 16.1% of all Kerr County residents do not have insurance. The same problem persists across Texas, where the U.S. Census estimated that more than five million people in Texas have no health insurance — more than 18% of the population.
On Tuesday, the City Council heard the task force's recommendations, ranging from trying to wrangle the various nonprofits that offer public health services to create a new governmental entity for that purpose. While this was an information-only workshop, the Council had plenty of questions.
Place 2 City Councilwoman Kim Clarkson expressed concerns about mandates — a political landmine for everyone. Blackburn said the key was not creating another governmental agency, although he didn't rule out spending money to improve the process, but rather a liaison role between the multiple nonprofits.
Much of this conversation stems from the fallout from the state bypassing Kerr County residents for the coronavirus vaccine. There's never been a clear explanation why the state passed over Kerr County initially, but one of the key suggestions was the county's lack of a public health authority.
However, based on the conversations amongst the Council, there seemed to be some consensus that creating a public health authority was the last thing they wanted.
Blackburn pointed out that this was the first report from the task force, and there were more discussions to be had.
NEW FACES AT FAMILIES & LITERACY
Tammi Bingham and Lisa Shockley join the Families & Literacy, Inc.
Misty Kohte, the executive director at Families & Literacy, Inc., announced two new staff members as the programs grow across the Hill Country.
Tammi Bingham has been named the operations coordinator and Lisa Shockley as the English as a second-language coordinator.
Bingham, a native of Kerrville, graduated from Tivy High School before earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at Schreiner University. She has also worked at Schreiner University.
"(Bingham) is known in town for her work ethic and as a member of various boards," Kothe said in a news release. "She will make a difference in our program operations immediately. I am excited to see the contributions she makes to the program over time."
Shockley, a resident of Fredericksburg, is a University of Oklahoma graduate, where she also earned a graduate degree in French. Shockley lived in Paris for two years until she returned to Oklahoma to teach. In 2011, Shockley moved to Austin, Texas, where she started working for Austin ISD teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). Later, she opened Caswell Language School, teaching multiple languages there.
"(Shockley's) skills in communicating, coupled with her experience in teaching and learning foreign languages, will be invaluable to Families & Literacy."
Families & Literacy announced:
- Registration for the spring semester for both in-person and online classes will officially begin in January.
- With the transition to online curricula for ESL and GED prep classes, Families &Literacy can offer self-paced courses 100% virtually, especially beneficial to those who work, have families, or live out of the immediate Kerrville area.
SALVATION ARMY IS KEEPING BUSY
The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center's Molly Putnam's fingers have been flying on the keyboard to get the word out about all the programs offered in the coming weeks. Here's a sample:
Angel Tree registration will take place
from 9 a.m. to noon from Oct. 18-23 at The Salvation Army
Social Services, 855 Hays Street. The program will be accepting applications for children up to 16 years old. Families wishing to apply for assistance will need to bring:
- Photo ID.
- Birth certificate for each child or proof of dependents.
- Proof of residence.
- Clothing and shoe sizes, along with a toy request for all children under the age of 17.
Applications cannot be processed without this information. Families, businesses, and organizations wishing to "Adopt an Angel" should contact (830) 315-5778. Angels Trees will be at The Salvation Army Kroc Center and local retailers starting Oct. 26. For additional information regarding The Salvation Army Angel Tree program, please contact Judy Johnson at (830) 315-5758 or Major Missy Romack at (830) 315-5751.
FILL THE FREEZER
The Salvation Army will hold its first-ever Fill The Freezer campaign. They are asking the community for donations of 10-15-pound turkeys to help feed over 1,000 individuals. Monetary donations will also be accepted. A drop-off freezer will be at The Salvation Army Kroc Center. The Salvation Army will host its annual community Thanksgiving Dinner from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Nov. 25. Families and individuals can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by dining in, take out or delivery.
THE 11TH ANNUAL PUMPKIN RUN
Want to run 3.1-miles in a Halloween costume? Well, the Salvation Army is providing the opportunity to do just that. The 5-kilometer run will be held Oct. 30 with a course that starts at The Salvation Army Kroc Center parking lot, running west on Holdsworth Drive before turning around at Harper Road and heading back to the finish line at the Kroc Center parking lot. Register online at www.AthleteGuild.com or visit the Kroc Center at 201 Holdsworth Drive. The last day to register will be at 7:45 a.m. on Oct.30. Breakfast and coffee will be provided by McDonald's for all runners at the start or end of the race. For more information, please contact (830) 315-5762.
THE HARVEST FESTIVAL
This annual event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, with a pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, hayrides, food trucks, vendor booths, face painting, nine bounce houses and of course, lots of candy. It is located at The Salvation Army Kroc Center Field, 201 Holdsworth Drive. Tickets will be available for purchase. All proceeds will go to fund the many
programs of The Salvation Army Social Services and Boys & Girls Club. Families are encouraged to come dressed in their best
family, friendly costume. For more information or to get involved, please contact (830) 315-5762.