The National Weather Service used the words "chilly" in the forecast for tonight — like 43 degrees chilly. Maybe, fall is here? We were chatting with Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Julie Davis, and she observed that things are speeding up in Kerr County when it comes to the numbers of events planned in the coming days and weeks. She's not kidding. We're still trying to recover from the incredible Halloween weekend.
WHAT'S ON TAP TODAY?
- On today's episode of The Lead Live, Schreiner University basketball coaches Marwan Elrakabawy and Stacy Stephens are guests. The show starts at 9 a.m. The Mountaineers kick off the season Friday with a doubleheader against McMurry — the men at 4 p.m. and the women at 6 p.m. The teams return to action Saturday against visiting Hardin-Simmons — at 2 p.m for the men and 4 p.m. for the women. Stephens is in her first season but carries an impressive resume. She's a former University of Texas standout who had a four-year professional career.
- The second day of the Kerr Economic Development Corp.'s Business and Innovation Forums starts at 8:30 a.m. and continues through the rest of the day. The Lead's Louis Amestoy will moderate a discussion about Inclusion and Diversity at 10:30 a.m. However, the Inclusion and Diversity forum is just one of 10 sessions on the day. Two panels worth paying attention to are the role craft beer, spirits, and wine play in the regional economy.
- Kerr Arts and Cultural Center welcomes the return of one of its most popular shows starting today — the Texas Furniture Makers' Show. The center opens at 10 a.m. This is one of the best shows of the year, and the craftsmanship is astounding. It's really a must-see. Visit: https://www.kacckerrville.com/
- We received an email Wednesday from Zillow showing us places we might like to purchase — there were three. That's it. All three are priced under $250,000. One was described as a "handyman's delight." Hard no. Thanks but, no thanks, Zillow.
- We are now 16 days out from the Kerrville Lighted Christmas Parade downtown. However, our man George Eychner said it's unlikely crews will be able to fully light Tranquility Island in time for the Nov. 20 parade. Eychner, who leads the nonprofit and volunteer Kerrville Christmas Lighting Corp., said delays in connecting the island to the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library are pushing dates back — possibly to Dec. 18.
WHAT'S DRIVING THE NEWS
KERR COUNTY TACKLES RE-DISTRICTING
We've covered a lot of surreal public meetings in our life, but nothing quite like what we saw from the Kerr County Commissioner's Court on Wednesday. It wasn't that anything wrong was happening, but it was just weird. They were looking at the re-districting — specifically slivers of Precinct 1 and Precinct 4. However, a consultant is trying to help the court understand the changes, but he's on the phone — with an iffy connection. Someone else is running a GoTo Meeting. One of the commissioners started giggling through the thing. It was something else. In the end, the commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a draft of a plan, but this sort of explained why the county can't seem to make PDFs correctly. Anyway, here's our full story, along with the link to the video: https://kerrcountylead.com/310520790906312
HOW KERR COUNTY VOTED
Texas voters approved eight constitutional amendments by varying margins, including allowing charitable rodeos at professional rodeos, but the results didn't always align here in Kerr County.
County voters approved seven of the eight amendments, voting against Prop. 2, which allows counties to authorize bonds for infrastructure and transportation projects in what it determines as blighted and underdeveloped areas. For more: https://kerrcountylead.com/575576570323340
MORE FROM THE COMMISSIONERS
The Kerr County Commissioner's Court will hold a workshop at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the county's acceptance of federal funds for coronavirus relief. The county will receive $10 million, but the county has to do a lot of work to ensure the money is spent correctly. The meeting will be at the Hill Country Youth Event Center. https://goo.gl/maps/u3vWAw7eQ3xpNyRP8
HERE COMES THE WHATABURGER
The Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the first plat for a new Whataburger at its 4:30 p.m. meeting today at City Hall. The commission will also consider a pair of conditional use permits for short-term rentals. The Whataburger would be sited along Sidney Baker Highway, adjacent to Interstate 10. The site is currently Margarita City, but Whataburger's corporate real estate company owns the land.
BUSINESS AND INNOVATION FORUM
Joe Kennedy speaks about career opportunities in aviation.
The first day of the Kerr Economic Development Corp.'s Business and Innovation Forums had an underlying story — opportunity is here in the Texas Hill Country.
If there was one downside to the day, it was the sparse attendance. However, that didn't dissuade some highly engaged conversations about the workforce, education and entrepreneurial opportunities. Let's say a few of you missed out on some good stuff.
The first forum we covered focused on the future of aviation, aerospace and space in Kerr County, and it's was pretty mild at first. Then the Kennedy brothers went to work. Joe Kennedy owns Kerrville Aviation — a critically important operator at Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. Kennedy's younger brother, Jeff, is a vice president of business development for RBR Aviation, Gulf Avionics, Aero Parts & Supplies. The two of them mapped out an electrifying, literally, future for aviation. These ideas ranged from a near-future of vertical, takeoff and landing aircraft and electrified planes. As both Joe and Jeff Kennedy explained, part of that future is through services provided at the airport, especially navigation and safety systems upgraded here.
Kristin Hedger, the vice president of Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, was on the panel. She offered how the company is rapidly working toward opening its production facilities and is hiring workers. Kerrville helped lure the North Dakota-based company thanks, in part, to Salinas' efforts.
The underlying element of the discussion about aviation, attended by about 30 students from Ingram Tom Moore High School, was that there are jobs right now. Jeff Kennedy mapped out some of the six-figure salary scenarios for those wanting a career. Joe Kennedy offered a similar assessment, along with the caveat that many of his former employees have used Kerrville Aviation as a stepping stone to bigger careers in the industry.
Here's our rundown of the first day of forums.
Adaptation & Resiliency through Innovation & Technology
The panel of Roman Garcia, Jonathan Sexton, Nick D'Anello and Mario Garcia.
- This panel was moderated by Kerrville City Councilman Roman Garcia — a panel that included his father, Mario — and this was a timely discussion about cybersecurity and the use of technology. Mario Garcia made a point that is becoming critically important to many — high-speed internet. "The house may have an outhouse, but all I want to know is how fast is the internet connection," Mario Garcia said. The panel also included Nick D'Anello , who owns OrderGrub, and Jonathan Sexton , the owner of Web Development by Jonathan Sexton.
Esports: Video & Gaming Technology
- The folks at Schreiner University led this conversation, and it's one that came up later during the filmmaking forum to close out the first day. Schreiner has a video game team, but with its recent $5 million grant for science, technology, engineering and math from the U.S. Department of Education, the university could expand its technical training into video game development. As Schreiner University Dean Charlie Hueber pointed out, this is a multi-billion dollar industry, a fact that was confirmed by the Texas Film Commission panelists later in the evening.
Engaging Minds, An Entrepreneur Fireside Chat
The panel, from left, of Jairo Cruces, Fabian Franco, Kayte Graham and Clint Fiore.
- The topic of entrepreneurial work featured one of the smallest audiences but provided a broad glimpse into the jobs done in the Hill Country. Moderated by Katie Jordan Milton, the panel featured Clint Fiore, Kayte Graham, Jairo Cruces and Fabian Franco. All four have different backgrounds, from technology to farming to mergers and acquisitions. Graham owns Zanzenberg Farms with her husband, Justin, and the couple also managed the Kerrville Farmer's Market. Franco launched Tres Tech, LLC, a software development company based in Kerrville. Cruces has diversified his business from a cedar clearing enterprise to include real estate sales. Fiore's Kerrville-based business is all about mergers and acquisitions.
AND FINALLY, A LITTLE BIT OF NEWS WAS BROKEN
On Saturday, producers from a television show slated for HBO Max will be in Kerrville to find extras. Now, there's a buzz about the opening casting call, but specifics about the project hadn't been disclosed — until Wednesday.
The casting call is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Y.O. Ranch Hotel, 2033 Sidney Baker Highway. The casting crew is looking for couples 25-45 years old.
However, the series is "Love and Death," produced by Nicole Kidman and starring Elizabeth Olsen of "The Avengers." The series is expected to be shot in Kerrville in December. The true-crime story is based on the actual 1980 murder of Betty Gore by Candy Montgomery in Wylie — near Dallas. The story is based upon an article in Texas Monthly.
MORE COVERAGE FROM THE INNOVATION FORUM
We'll have more stories from the KEDC Business and Innovation Forum coming later today and on Friday.