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The Lead April 21, 2022: Kerrville council candidates face judgments in legal proceedings

Mayoral candidate Brent Bates is facing fines over a commercial building; Robin Monroe gets a response from Kerrville in her lawsuit; Life at NASA is described by those who lived it.

Good morning, Kerr County!

We can expect another day of cloudy and sometimes blustery weather today. The weather will be unsettled in the coming days, with thunderstorm threats present through Monday. If there will be one constant through next week, it will be the wind — with gusts up to 25-30 MPH.

On today's The Lead Live!

The first part of today's show is all about real estate with Hunter Schmidt, Valerie Chambers and Lynn Niles. If you're keeping track at home, the median sales price in March was more than $356,000 in Kerr County. Schmidt is developing new homes, while Chambers and Niles are working to educate buyers. We'll welcome artists DJ Stout and Michaela Lehman of Pentagram in the show's second half. Stout is an acclaimed graphic artist and former artistic director at Texas Monthly. Lehman is a Schreiner University graduate who works with Stout, and the two are giving the Summerlin Visiting Artist Series lecture tonight. Here's a sample of some of Stout's work:


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Rodney Crowell

Friday, April 22, 2022

8:30 p.m.

  • Live music by Rodney Crowell — Arcadia Live! 8:30-10:30 p.m. Information: The details: With more than 40 years of American roots music under his belt, Texas native Rodney Crowell is a two-time Grammy Award winner and the writer behind 15 No. 1 hits, including five of his own. With strong roots in country music, Crowell has written chart-topping hits for Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Keith Urban and more. But owing to the distinctly universal, literary quality of his writing, he has also penned beloved songs for artists as diverse as Bob Seger, Etta James, the Grateful Dead, John Denver, Jimmy Buffett and countless others.

The plan for the day

  • Visiting Artist Series — Schreiner University Floyd and Kathleen Cailloux Campus Activity Center, 6 p.m. Information: Contact Deborah Wartko-Conner, Professor of Visual Art and Photography, at or 830-792-7397. The details: Graphic artists DJ Stout and Michaela Lehman of Pentagram. During the reception, you will have a chance to view some of their designs, artwork and DJ Stout's book, Variations on a Rectangle – Thirty Years of Graphic Design from Texas Monthly to Pentagram, which will be available for purchase. Immediately following the reception, Stout and Lehman will give an insightful look into the world of graphic design, their creative process, and owning a branch of an internationally acclaimed design company – Pentagram.
  • Thirsty Thursday Trivia Night — Arcadia Live!, 6:30 p.m. Information:
  • Trivia night at The Boat — The Boat Oyster Bar and Grill, 9 p.m. Information: 830-896-3354. The details: Come and join The Boat for trivia night. Prizes, drink specials and Schreiner Alumni "Professor Sparky" to host. Bring your team.
  • Live music by The Renfrees — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 7 p.m. Information: The details: Husband and wife Ren and Andi Renfree met online in 2003, on a musician's songwriting website. They wrote many songs between Ren's home state of California and Andi's adopted state of Texas before meeting in person.

A twist in the race for Kerrville mayor

We are in an unusual race for the Kerrville City Council — with two of the candidates in active litigation against the city they want to serve.

However, on Monday, a six-person jury found Mayoral candidate Brent Bates guilty of ignoring a city stop-work order and operating without an electrical license. These are violations of the city's codes and were actions taken by the city to stop Bates from continuing to work on a Water Street office building that has been the source of a heated battle between the two.

The legal battle unfolded in Kerrville Municipal Court and has no bearing on Bates' suit against the city in federal court over the project. It does mean that Bates has to pay more than $1,500 in fines to the city or face some time in the Kerr County Jail, according to the court documents obtained by The Lead.

The jury found that Bates was illegally operating without an electrical license — a fine of more than $1,000. He was also found guilty of violating the city's stop-work order on his Water Street building — a 21,000-square-foot three-story office building along the Guadalupe River.

Bates has accused the city of conspiring against him to prevent the office building from being completed, but there's a wide gulf between the two sides. The city wants Bates to install a firefighting sprinkler system, but Bates argues the city's occupancy standards are not realistic. Bates says no more than 60 people will be in the building at one time, while the city contends that more than 150 can be in the building.

But wait there's more

In additional court documents obtained by The Lead, Bates' long legal history came into further context, including at least two judgments against him ordering to pay more than $300,000 to lenders and workers. Bates also faced federal tax liens for unpaid taxes worth more than $100,000.

In January, Bates was ordered to pay $330,198 to the estate of a Kerrville couple who died in 2020. The couple had loaned Bates money, but he never paid it back, according to court documents. The estate of Stanley and Carolyn Cobbs sued Bates and won the judgment in the 198th District Court.

The Texas Secretary of State's office listed Bates' involvement in more than 20 limited liability corporations that had failed to file or pay franchise taxes.

And Kerrville denies Robin Monroe's claim

Place 4 City Council Candidate Robin Monroe sued Kerrville in the 216th District Court, arguing that the city was not correctly holding its election — also claiming she didn't know the election would be held May 7. On April 14, Kerrville's lawyers responded to her claim by denying it. Now, it's up to the court to determine how to proceed. Our guess? Kerrville will get a win.

The stars are endless at Schreiner University

Gerald Griffin was the former director at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, but he regaled those attending his lecture on Wednesday night with tales of the Apollo moon missions.

What happens when you combine a lecture given by astronauts, engineers and physicists? A lot of science? How about storytelling beyond compare — coupled with some big laughs.

On Wednesday, Schreiner University's first TexS Talks lecture in two years might have been one of the funniest and most inspiring nights during a time when everyone seems to be wandering around in a daze thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, a war in Ukraine and never-ending partisan bickering.

What we got in the Junkin Ministry Center was a master class in storytelling by former NASA employees Gerald (Gerry) Griffin, Col. Michael Fossum and Jeff Stone and capped by a captivating lecture by Schreiner professor Kim Arvidsson.

It combined the elements of true American exceptionalism, a can-do spirit and a reminder of the promise of deep-space exploration. We also got a lot of laughs.

Jeff Stone drew plenty of laughs from the Schreiner University audience on Wednesday night with his tales of fixing toilets on the space shuttle and international space station.

"Well, this is the patch to the shuttle toilet," said Stone, a former NASA in-flight maintenance engineer who (you guessed it) had the responsibility of ensuring astronauts could relieve themselves. "When I first got there, I was assigned to the toilet. Very important.

"All the things that we take for granted of life here on Earth, what is more dependent on gravity, completely dependent on gravity, than the toilet. Can you imagine sitting there and all of the sudden gravity went away."

As Stone explained while pointing to the toilet seat patch on his polo shirt, those facilities needed to work. His expertise in fixing things on the Space Shuttle helped him fix things on the International Space Station. He had the rare opportunity to spend 30 minutes talking to Fossum, the space station commander, about how to fix a Russian-made toilet.

Of course, the crux of the speech was the underlying themes of hard work, dedication and devotion to their mission. Griffin served as a flight director on Apollo moon missions and later was the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Fossum faced seven rejections in his pursuit to become an astronaut before finally being accepted into the program.

Former astronaut Mike Fossum endured plenty of rejection before earning a spot in NASA's astronaut corps.

Stone went to Purdue University, known for producing engineers and Neil Armstrong, and flunked out before finding his way later in life to NASA. And there was an underlying sense of wonder and pride in what they accomplished.

"What a time that was," said Griffin of the Apollo missions. Admittedly, Griffin sacrificed mightily to be in mission control for those historic achievements, but his connection to some of the most extraordinary feats of engineering is awe-inspiring.

Griffin also tempered his speech with the sober remembrance of the 1967 fire on Apollo 1 that killed astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

"It's very hard to go to space," Griffin said toward the beginning of his lecture.

And at the end of the lecture, Arvidsson presented how we can reach the stars virtually through software and astronomy. Arvidsson teaches astronomy and physics at Schreiner, and he wowed the audience by demonstrating free software that shows our place in the Milky Way and our solar system.

WAC golf wraps at Riverhill

New Mexico State survived a late charge by Sam Houston on Wednesday to win its second consecutive Western Athletic Conference women's golf tournament. The Aggies beat Sam Houston by three strokes, bolstered by the strong play of Amelia McKee, who finished second overall. New Mexico State needed everything because Sam Houston's Jennifer Herbst turned in the performance of the three-day tournament with a final-round four-under 68 — the best score of any player in the tournament.

However, the individual title went to Grand Canyon's Siripatsorn Patchana, who was remarkably steady throughout the championship. Patchana carded a three-under performance for the tournament — three consecutive days of 71s.

New Mexico State had its own cheering section on the 18th tee, where former university instructor Lynette Wedig lives. Wedig made a sign to cheer on the Aggies, who in turn left some balls for her.

For more photos:


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