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The Lead Aug. 3, 2022: KPUB's Wittler takes the helm of Texas Public Power Association

Don't worry he's not leaving Kerrville, but he will be an advocate for the power industry and their ratepayers.

Good morning, Kerr County!

What happens when you have hot temperatures and warm gusty winds? Fire! Two fires burned north of Kerr County, sending up impressive columns of smoke near Fredericksburg. Another fire led to evacuations near Dripping Springs. It's important to remember there's a total burn ban in place in Kerr County, especially with gusty winds hitting 24 MPH. Our forecast is more of the same.

On today's The Lead Live!

We expect Gold Cup Pawn and Fitch Estate Sales' Rachel Fitch to stop by today and update us on her hectic, frustrating and tough few weeks. We always enjoy our chats with Fitch, and we expect another great conversation today. Coming Thursday, Century 21 The Hills Realty's John Sawyer will tell us about the new loft project under construction on Water Street. On Friday, The American Red Cross' Richard McAlister storms onto the show with a special guest.

Stories to follow

Cruz, Cornyn cast votes saying yes to Veterans health

A week after turning back an effort to provide Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans extra health care benefits, Republicans returned to the Senate and helped pass the bill, 86-11. Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted to approve the bill. Cruz, of course, engaged in a back-and-forth with political activist Jon Stewart, who has sided with veterans groups and 9-11 first responders over health care issues. Cruz said he voted against the bill last week because of Democrats pulling "budgetary trickery," which Stewart called a lie, saying that the Senate was voting on the same bill. Read more here:

See @SenatorTester's post on Twitter.

If you want to see something really off the rails

Suppose you want to journey into the insane trial of bombastic Infowars host Alex Jones, who is being sued by the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School students who died in a mass shooting. In that case, you have to read the accounts of Tuesday's proceedings or at least watch the Austin-based judge lecture Jones.

See @TonyMichaelsPod's post on Twitter.

Don't sleep on COVID-19 — please

With schools starting Aug. 15, the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to climb to nearly 200 across Texas. While this doesn't sound like a lot, it does mark a period when pediatric hospitalizations remain high compared to previous periods. More than 12,000 people tested positive for the latest variant of COVID-19, and more than 3,500 people remain hospitalized. If there was some good news, it appears Peterson Regional Medical Center's COVID-19 hospitalizations declined through July 22. It appears about three people were admitted with COVID-19 during that period. However, Peterson rarely reports pediatric cases. Keep an eye out.

KPUB's Mike Wittler takes on a public power role

KPUB's Mike Wittler takes over as the Texas Public Power Association president from Greenville Electric Utility System's Alicia Hooks.

Kerrville Public Utility Board General Manager and CEO Mike Wittler is taking on an important role — president of the Texas Public Power Association.

During a meeting in Austin, the trade association elected a new slate of officers. Wittler will serve a one-year term, representing publicly-owned utility providers at the state and national levels. "It's a privilege and honor to serve as president for such an important organization in the electric utility industry," said Mike Wittler, KPUB general manager and CEO. "I look forward to working with these outstanding leaders for public power in Texas."

Wittler has a long career devoted to the public power industry with more than 25 years of industry experience. He joined KPUB as the organization's chief operating officer in 2006 after 11 years with CPS Energy and became general manager and CEO in November 2015.

Former Kerrville Daily Times publisher honored

Kerrville resident Greg Shrader was honored by the Texas Press Association last weekend as a member of the trade group's Hall of Fame. Shrader was a publisher of The Kerrville Daily Times and had a long career with its parent company Southern Newspapers.

The drama in Ingram comes into focus

When Ingram City Secretary Geraldine Rodriguez abruptly resigned her post last month, her scathing resignation letter made serious allegations against the City Council, Mayor Claud Jordan and others.

The Lead obtained the letter and painted a chaotic picture of a city run by the City Council, with rampant internal drama and suspicion. Rodriguez said she was thrown into the job without training or explanation after employees walked out in 2021.

In her letter, Rodriguez alleges:

  • The City Council and Jordan violated open meeting rules and regularly participated in discussions outside meetings.
  • When she attempted to get counsel from the city attorney about public records requests and open meeting laws, Rodriguez said Councilmember Rocky Hawkins told her not to speak to the city attorney again.
  • She said interim Police Chief Joe Hamilton looked at documents and assigned work before his formal hiring. She said when she confronted Hamilton, "he responded aggressively toward me." That led to a closed-door meeting with the City Council on June 20, 2022, which she described as hostile.
  • She accused Jordan of creating a hostile environment by demanding she violate city ordinances. She also alleged that Jordan was convinced there were stolen funds but that the city's auditors couldn't prove the allegation.

Rodriguez's allegations are the latest in a slew of political intrigue and dysfunction to roil Ingram in recent years. The city's police department has changed hands on several occasions, including the recent departure of former Chief Carol Twiss, a longtime Kerr County Sheriff's captain.

Things to do in Kerr County!


Markets and Sales

  • Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1–3 p.m. Information: The details: Looking for a great read? Or better yet, come down and support the work of Friends of the Library. Maybe find a banned book? That sounds like a fun day to us.
  • Kerr County Produce Market Day — The Big Red Barn, 10 a.m., Information: 830-896-7330 The details: Kerr County Produce Market Day (The Big Red Barn). Local Hill Country wholesale warehouse distributor for the finest fruits and vegetables. Open to the public.

Live music

  • Pickers Circle — La Escondida 1962, 7 p.m., Information: The details: Hosted by Carlos and Dan and the Silver Bullets. Come bring your guitar, banjo or harmonica and join the circle.

Thursday, Aug. 4

Science and Nature

  • Nature Nights — Riverside Nature Center, 6 p.m. Information: 830-257-4837 The details: Artifacts: Trash to Treasure

Live music

  • Brent Ryan — Southern Sky Music Cafe, 7 p.m., Information:
  • Jake Asbury — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, 6 p.m. Information:
  • Open Mic Night — Gravity Check Saloon and Arena, 6-10 p.m. Information:


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