The Lead Aug. 31, 2022: Kelly declares a Kerr County emergency in immigration

After more conversations with the Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha, Kelly relents and signs declaration of disaster to allow county to obtain state funding.

Good morning, Kerr County!

How about yesterday's thunderstorms? Even through the early evening, we still got that driving rain and some over-the-top thunder and lightning. The National Weather Service forecasts: "Scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms will be possible Wednesday through Friday. A few spots could see heavy rain totals over 2 inches, leading to isolated flooding potential. With heavy rainfall from Tuesday, flash flooding may develop quickly over already saturated soils."

On today's The Lead Live!

Rachel Fitch returns to share with us her latest adventures. We're likely to talk about estate sales, cool finds in her pawn shops, or maybe we'll talk about something else entirely! You never know! What we do know is that Andrew Gay of Texas Hill Country Advisors will update us on the latest in the markets and financial world.

Don't forget about the Night of Remembrance

The recovery community will host its Night of Remembrance for those who have lost the fight against addiction. The 5:30 p.m. event is at Arcadia Live and features an array of guest speakers, music and reflection. This is a free event. The event features guest speakers Lauren Waters, Will Ford, and Becky Babb, who have all worked in the Kerr County recovery community. The main speaker is Doug Bopst, who is an author and podcast host.

We are a disaster

With one key holdback, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly signed a disaster declaration Tuesday, clearing the way for Sheriff Larry Leitha to apply for state funding to assist with immigration enforcement.


"While this is not an earth-shattering disaster, it is a local disasater for us," Kelly said. "These expenses are prohibitive."

During a special meeting Tuesday, Kelly signed the order but determined that he wanted the Texas Military Forces to be directed by Leitha if they deployed in Kerr County. How that condition will hold up with Gov. Greg Abbott's office is to be determined.

However, Leitha said his office is already applying for the grant funding, which will go toward beefing up the sheriff's office equipment to provide enforcement. Neither man would say there's a rift between them, but getting Kelly to sign off proved one of Leitha's most significant challenges in his first term.

"I kind of agree with (Kelly) about the emergency," said Leitha about declaring a disaster. "But all of this funding is tied to an emergency."

Leitha and Kelly stand firmly together in declaring Kerr County is safe and that the declaration is procedural. The move caps a lengthy tussle between Kelly, the sheriff and right-wing groups who bombarded the judge with pleas to declare an invasion.

If it wasn't for Leitha's work, the judge might have never signed off on the deal after the speakers repeatedly threatened and chastised him. The court approved a resolution authorizing the grant application on Monday, but Kelly abstained.

After the meeting, Leitha and Kelly met to discuss the grant and the financial burden on the county if they didn't take the money. Leitha makes it clear he's going to stop traffickers.

"The disaster comes from the border and goes through here," said Leitha, adding Texas Highway 41 and Interstate 10 as ideal places to move people. "I refuse to let them come through here."

The grant comes from Abbott's Operation Lonestar initiative and pays for a wide range of things — depending on the county. Since Kerr County doesn't border Mexico, the grants will probably not be as large, but Leitha sees this as a multi-year effort.

"In the second year, we'll ask for manpower, but there's a lot that you can use this money for," Leitha said.

Abbott plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to bolster the state's immigration enforcement and blames the surge in immigration on the lax border policies of President Joe Biden. The numbers indicate a massive surge at the border, with more than 1.8 million encounters between immigrants and Border Patrol agents in the last year.

Abbott routinely rails against Biden via Twitter, ships immigrants to Washington, D.C. and New York City and has engaged the Texas National Guard at the border.

Biden's administration has been quiet about border enforcement, but the migrant surge isn't entirely Biden's fault. The post-coronavirus pandemic economies of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador likely play a role. While Mexico and Guatemala have low unemployment rates, their workforce participation is 60% or below — there are also limited unemployment protections. Inflationary pressures are topping 8% in the region, and Honduras is more than 10%. Crime is also a problem, with Honduras being one of the world's most violent countries.

Texas Monthly opinion piece savages Texas Center's Frazier

Schreiner University's Don Frazier, who runs the Texas Center on campus, is part of Gov. Greg Abbott's 1836 Commission that aims to provide a framework to teach the state's history. Frazier was one of three appointees by Abbott to serve on the commission. Others were appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

The commission's task was to make recommendations to the Texas Education Agency, and the process was not without controversy. Texas Monthly published an opinion piece by scholars Leah LaGrone of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah and Michael Phillips of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

LaGrone and Phillips singled Frazier out for criticism.

"He's authored several books of history that gloss over centuries of slavery in Texas and minimize its horrors," Frazier said. "In the introduction to his 2015 book, Blood on the Bayou, for example, he passingly mentions what he calls "gossip" about brutal enslavers. He quotes selectively from interviews of formerly enslaved men and women to argue that some believed slavery 'provided [them] a good life.'"

However, no matter which way you look at the 1836 Project, designed to be a counter to the New York Times' award-winning 1619 Project, which aimed to revise our understanding of slavery, the political landscape put Frazier and others in the crosshairs of critics.

For his part, Frazier expected some backlash, and in the face of the criticism about his work, he shared a quote from Thomas Jefferson on his Facebook page:

"Let their actions refute such libels. Believe me, virtue is not long darkened by the clouds of calumny; and the temporary pain which it causes is infinitely overweighed by the safety it insures against degeneracy in the principles and conduct of public functionaries. When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property."

The Texas Education Agency received a copy of the draft pamphlet, which Frazier oversaw, on Monday. The pamphlet is just 15 pages long, totaling about 4,000 words, covering more than 400 years of state history, and it attempts to provide an overarching story in that tight space.

Here's a link to the pamphlet here:

Quick take: In our conversations with Frazier on The Lead Live, we've never detected the behavior or thought described in the Texas Monthly article.

What we learned from Ingram Independent School District Superintendent Bobby Templeton and Assistant Superintendent Mindy Curran on Tuesday

Less than a decade ago, Ingram Independent School District was so bad that a Texas Education Agency monitor was practically running it.

Today, Ingram shares a much different tale — an A-grade story.

"If they were keeping grades back then, we'd be an F," said Superintendent Bobby Templeton, a guest on Tuesday's The Lead Live with Assistant Superintendent Mindy Curran.

During the latest round of TEA ratings, Ingram earned a 96-of-100 points score — the second highest rating in the San Antonio region. The performance was also among the top 33% in the state, and Ingram's turnaround gained plenty of notice.

In years past, Ingram rarely received transfer students; now, about 20% of the district's students come from other communities, including Bandera, Kerrville and Fredericksburg.

The district passed a $25 million bond measure to build new classrooms at Ingram Elementary School and six new math and science classrooms at Ingram Middle School and Tom Moore High School. Other changes are coming, including a new band room and improvements to the school's successful agricultural program.

Here are some things we learned from our conversation with Templeton and Curran.

On what the A rating means to the staff and students:

  • Curran: "I think it's just it's really nice to have the state recognize what we already knew and that we have great kids. Yeah. We have fantastic teachers, and they've worked really hard. So, it is nice to be able to wear a grade that represents all of the work that they've done."

The Texas Legislature emphasized closing gaps in student achievement based on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status to ensure this state is a national leader in preparing students for postsecondary success. Here's how Ingram worked to make that possible:

  • Curran: "One of our big areas of focus for a number of years has been really focusing on beyond that star test and the big picture. Right. Which is when those students walk across the stage at the end of their time with us. What do we want for them? At the end of that which is kind of what that College Career Military Readiness component has been about. So that all the work that we're doing is to focus on that endgame for the student and when they walk across the stage and then they leave us, we want them to be ready to walk in to a successful career. We want them to be ready for college. We want them to be good citizens."

On school security

  • Templeton: "Hill Country to me means friendly people. It means open. It means, you know, welcoming, and I don't ever want to have a school that is so closed off that it doesn't lose that welcoming open feel. We have a lot of security, but I'm not going to say it's hidden but something you wouldn't notice."

On armed teachers on Ingram campuses

  • Templeton: So, when you say, when someone says, okay, you have armed staff members. Well, the normal person is going to think, okay, well, Joe, there you go. Carry a gun and but that's not the case. So, there are only 240 school marshals in the entire state of Texas. As of right now And Ingram ISD has eight of them. So, proportionally, we have quite a number, and we're going to have a few more, and that's an addition to our school officers. But a school marshal is a staff member who carries a gun. We have two on every campus, and then the others are mobile, and they can be anywhere. Right. So, in order to be a school marshal, you have to go through some pretty intense psychological testing. You have to go through a first aid course, stop the bleed, non-violent crisis interventions, some de-escalation techniques, CPR, and some intense handgun qualification. Then when you get all of that done, you have to go spend a good portion of your summer living at a police academy. With police instructors. Right. Uh. It's not like it's you just get a gun. It's intense."

On the school district's recently implemented dress code

  • Templeton: "I'll give a lot of tours for prospective students. Especially right before school starts and when we talk about our dress code and our discipline, honestly, some families just go we're out. This is controversial, but this is what our school board wants. It's our community standard, but our dress code is pretty strict. No long hair on boys. No purple hair. You can't have your pants down. I don't think this is true, but my daughters said, dad, the dress code here is like the 50s. I don't think that's true but it's probably a little more strict than what people are used to. The boys have to be clean shave and no mustaches or beards, those of things."

Things to do today and Thursday!

Live music

  • Walt Wilkins — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 7 p.m. Information: The details: Songwriter, singer, traveler, troubadour – the calling he answered, the life he chose, the way he made.

Markets and sales

  • 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.
  • 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.

Thursday, Sept. 1


  • Vicki Keese Art Exhibit — Kerrville Hills Winery, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through Oct. 30. Information: The details: Artist Vicki Keese has an exhibition at Kerrville Hills Winery through the end of October. Stop by and enjoy some great wine and art. The show includes various original art to enhance the walls of your home, business and outdoor space.
  • Hill Country Music — Kerr Regional History Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday through Sept. 8. Information: 830-258-1274 The details: An exhibition about the rich history of Hill Country music. Learn how country music was created and helped inspire other music genres, and how a German music teacher, Julius Weiss, helped inspire Scott Joplin to create ragtime and become the "King of Ragtime." The exhibit will feature the Kerrville Folk Festival and how the event inspired the music scene in Texas.
  • Mexico: Splendor of Thirty Centuries — Kerr Regional History Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday through Sept. 8. Information: 830-258-1274 The details: An exhibition based on the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the San Antonio Museum of Art's international exhibition, and organized by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. In Mexico, two civilizations have lived and fought across the land and within the soul of every individual. One civilization is native to the Americas. The other originated in Europe, but now is so firmly ensconced that it has become an elemental part of the Mexican character. "Mexico" presents 3,000 years of Mexican culture and history. Photography highlights stone sculptures from prehistoric times, liturgical artifacts from Colonial Days, 19th-century portraits and landscapes, and works on canvas and paper by 20th-century muralists. The exhibition enhances appreciation of Mexico's richness and complexity and its people.


  • Goodness of God — Inn of the Hills, 6:30 p.m. Information: The details: Forge Ministries 8th annual family conference. The theme this year is The Goodness of God. A search to see what the Scriptures say about God being good and how He is good in all His doings.


  • Kristin Linder and Jerry Wayne Longmire — Arcadia Live!, 6 p.m. Information: The details: Kristin Lindner's sardonic take on marriage and raising children resonates with her audiences; she is considered one of the funniest, most pragmatic voices of modern, adorably flustered femininity. At first glance, some might make the mistake that Jerry Wayne is just another country boy with a flair for storytelling. However, less than two minutes into his stage performance, you will realize this is not the case with "Jay Dubya."

Live music

  • Jake and Keith — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, Ingram, 6 p.m. Information:

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