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The Lead Oct. 4: Blessings of food, pets and a bountiful weekend in Kerr County

We found Ross Rommel cooking burgers for anyone who wanted one; St. Peter's Episcopal Church celebrates blessing of the animals.


We're jumping into a new week — the first full week of October. However, it will feel like summer for much of the weeks, with highs to the high 80s and low 90s. So much for the fall. Join us on The Lead Live at 9 a.m. this morning for news and notes.


We revealed our first magazine of The Lead on Saturday morning. It's 44 pages of all local content. You can view it here: The Lead October 2021



Women from around the nation, including here in Kerrville, to protest abortion restrictions in Texas. A small gathering that was organized by local women was held at the corner of Main Street and Sidney Baker Highway at the Kerr County Courthouse. Here's our story:


The suspect in a firebombing attack against the Travis County Democratic headquarters was arrested by the Austin Fire Department, with an assist from the FBI. Here's the story from the Austin American Statesman:


As we noted last week, Kerr County had three nursing home deaths in September — all at Hilltop Village. The Texas Tribune reported Sunday that 40% of nursing home staff across the state are unvaccinated. In Kerr County, it's unclear what percentage of staff is vaccinated. However, staff-related infections have been a problem. Since the start of the pandemic 27 people in Kerr County, nursing homes have died from COVID-19. Here's the Tribune's story:


The COVID-19 situation remained unchanged in Kerr County over the weekend, but the Texas Department of State Health Services reported two additional deaths. DSHS' data has been either mostly right but almost always late. The state says there are 329 people in Kerr County with active infections — that may have been the case two weeks ago. We suspect it's far lower right now. The number of hospitalized across the state continues to fall, sitting at more than 8,200 on Saturday.

The Texas Education Agency and DSHS released its latest number of school infections on Sunday, and Kerr County has had an estimated 796 cases since the start of school. We say we estimated because the data is often incomplete.


The Kerr County Commissioners Court will discuss redistricting efforts for each of the county's four precincts during a closed-door meeting today. The commissioners are moving toward selecting new precinct maps ahead of the 2022 election. However, what changes are going to be made is still to be determined. The meeting happens at 9 a.m.


Ross Rommel cooks burgers at the Doyle Community Center on Sunday.

The way Ross Rommel figured, he just wanted to cook burgers and give them away back in January. Ten months later, the retired Hunt attorney is cooking burgers twice a month at the Doyle Community Center, and he's now got a crew to help him with the work of feeding about 100 people each time they cook.

For Rommel and his crew, it's just a tiny bit to give back but one that is developing an enthusiastic following.

We all give to programs overseas, and those are important," Rommel said. "We would continue to do that, but you get so much reward out of handing out a really good hamburger to someone, especially a child who is hungry."

Under the outdoor covered basketball court, Rommel cooks more than 100 burgers, classic rock plays in the background, and the crew is getting things ready for a busy Sunday afternoon. Rommel's volunteer crew of Dave Weekley, Mickey Horany, James Horne, and Carter Crain put the burgers together and assembled to-go bags of condiments and chips. Another volunteer showed up a few minutes later — Clifton Fifer, who is seemingly everywhere.

"Ross told us he had this thing on his heart and wanted to feed veterans, homeless, and whoever could be a beneficiary of that type of thing," Horany said.

It also helps that they really enjoy a good burger. Initially, Rommel started the project at the Kerr County Veterans Center, but the turnout was light. Undeterred, he moved to St. Peter's Episcopal Church, where he met his crew, and from there, they eventually moved to Doyle.

Rommel is the barbecue master, grilling up freshly made patties he purchases from H-E-B. His right arm hair has been burned off, the smoke makes his eyes water, but he loves every minute of it.

"It's really rewarding," said Rommel as he loaded up burgers into Crain's tray. "It's just fun."

And on this Sunday afternoon, it was much appreciated.

"Give me eight burgers," Fifer yells out as he walks back to collect the bags.

"Thank you for all that you do," said one person who picked up three burgers.

And that's the satisfaction that keeps Rommel and his crew cooking.

Clockwise from left, Carter Crain, James Horne, Mickey Horany and Dave Weekley assemble hamburgers to be given away to anyone who asks.

Clifton Fifer helps deliver bags of food to those who have asked for a free burger.


St. Peter's Episcopal Church Rev. Bert Baetz offers a blessing to Oreo.

While some of St. Peter's Episcopal men were cooking at the Doyle Community Center, St. Peter's Rev. Bert Baetz was blessing animals at the downtown Kerrville church. It's an annual tradition at Episcopal churches and other churches to offer a blessing on behalf of Saint Francis, a lover of animals.

The event happens on Oct. 4 annually, also known as the Feast of St. Francis. In Catholic churches, which follow the Franciscans, there's a parade of pets as part of the blessing festivities. One such story was that Saint Francis was deferential to animals he let a donkey usurp his sleeping quarters.

On this day, Baetz walked to each of the animals gathered at the church, including caterpillars destined to spread their wings as beautiful Monarch butterflies, and offered this prayer:

"Most high, almighty Lord, our Creator, yours are the praise, the glory, the honour and all blessings! To you alone do all things belong. Be praised for giving us the animals, birds and fish which fill your world. May we think of you and thank you when we play with and care for our pets. Be praised for making us so happy to have our pets and to have them to play with. We ask you, Lord, that we may be good to our pets always, so that they may be happy also. Help us always to take care of them so that they will be healthy. O God, your world is wonderful. May we all come into your even greater world of the kingdom of heaven where we shall see even more wonderful things and where we shall live and lovef oreverr. This we ask to your eternal praise, and to our blessing. Amen."

To see more photos from the day, please visit our Facebook page:


Considering the COVID-19 restrictions, we did not make it out to the first weekend of the Kerrville Folk Festival, but we saw there was plenty being shared on social media from the weekend.


View more on Instagram.
Kerrville Folk Festival day two! ✌ ☮️ #livestreaming #kerrvillefolkfestival #cameradudes


View more on Instagram.
Finally back home!

#kerrvillefolkfestival #itcanbethiswayalways


Kerrville's planning and zoning commission will tackle the two most challenging issues leftover from its September meeting on Thursday night. The planned 43-home development just south of Holdsworth Drive in Bluebell Estates drew significant opposition from neighbors, who argued the density of the 24-acre project didn't align with the neighborhood's character. Another point of contention is the proposed annexation of a 16-acre parcel that would clear the way to construct 44 homes along Coronado Drive. The meeting is at 4:30 p.m.

This property could become the site of 43 new homes if Kerrville's planning and zoning commission sign off on the final plats on Thursday.

At the north end of Coronado Drive, the planning and zoning commission could approve about 16 acres to come into the city limits — clearing the way for construction of 44 homes.


OCT. 7

Symphony of the Hills — River of the Stars, World Premier

7:30 p.m., The Cailloux Theater, Kerrville. $25

A professional symphony orchestra is drawn from the Hill Country and Central Texas, performing a passionate program of possibilities and unveiling a world premiere. You will works from Beethoven, De Falla, Wickman and Rachmaninoff. Information:

OCT. 8

The Bad Seed

7:30 p.m., The Point Theater, 120 Point Theatre Road, Ingram.

"The Bad Seed" tells the story of a mother's realization that her young daughter is a murderer. The scene is a small Southern town where Colonel and Christine Penmark live with their daughter, Rhoda. Little Rhoda Penmark is the evil queen of the story. On the surface, she is sweet, charming, full of old-fashioned graces, loved by her parents, and admired by her elders. But Rhoda's mother has an uneasy feeling about her. The show runs through Oct. 30. Information:

Star Party at Schreiner University

7:30 p.m., Loftis Family Science Center, Schreiner University, Kerrville.

In this free event, visitors can get a chance to view celestial objects in the Hill Country sky in the domed observatory containing Schreiner's 16-inch telescope. Several eight-inch telescopes will also be available for public viewing. Free parking is available adjacent to the center. The entrance gate is along East Main Street across from the Schreiner University baseball and softball fields and is marked by a flagpole. The star party will generally go till about midnight, and participants may come and go at any time. Information: 830-792-7249

OCT. 9

The Sunrise Lions' Steve Hamilton Memorial Color Fun 5K Run

7:30 a.m., Texas Lions' Camp, Kerrville.

Who doesn't like a little color in their lives, especially to start the morning? Proceeds support the Kerrville Sunrise Lions Club, a non-profit organization providing programs for our community and the Texas Lions Camp. To Register:

Mountain Home Volunteer Fire Department's Steak Dinner Fundraiser

4 p.m., Mountain Home Volunteer Fire Department, Mountain Home.

OK, who doesn't like a good barbecue steak? Better yet, a firehouse barbecue steak. Help the volunteers to provide critical services to West Kerr County. Call: 830-866-3310 for more information.

Kerr County Celtic Festival

9 a.m.-6 p.m., Hill Country Arts Foundation, 120 Point Theatre Road, Ingram.

With men attired in kilts, there will be throwing things and playing pipes. The pandemic cut this event short last year.


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