Good morning, Kerr County
The good news for the rest of the week is we could see some rainy weather — possibly. Let's not underestimate the fact that we've been unlucky with the rain, but Sunday's soaker was a nice relief — for some. The National Weather Service says there's a 20% chance of thunderstorms on Wednesday, with increasing chances Thursday and Friday.
On today's The Lead Live!
The entertaining Jeff Stone will be our guest on today's episode of The Lead Live!
We chat with retired NASA Engineer Jeff Stone — the man who helped manage the toilets on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. While Stone can tell some uproariously funny stories about space and work with the Astronaut crews, he has an unmatched enthusiasm for the space program and science. His latest passion project is raising awareness and preparing for the 2023 and 2024 eclipses. Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Julie Davis will join us with an update on the weekend events. We'll hear the latest economic news from Andrew Gay of Texas Hill Country Advisors. Today's show marks our one-year anniversary of producing The Lead Live. In that time, we've produced 245 shows with more than 600 guests.
Today's webcast is sponsored by
Check out the Texas Hill Country Podcast with our good friend Tom Fox.
Check out Tom's podcasts on Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Podcast/B08K5766CN
- Kerr Arts and Cultural Center Art Exhibits — Kerr Arts Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: 830-895-2911 The details: Through Aug. 13, three different art exhibits. Paintings by LaRue, "Kerrville Fiber Artists," Fiber art show by local artists, "Hometown Crafts Teacher's Show," an exhibition featuring the work of local teachers, sponsored by Hometown Crafts and Gifts.
- Luckenbach Legacy, Hondo's Daughter, Becky Crouch Patterson Exhibition — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: The details: Becky Crouch Patterson, a fifth-generation Texan whose father was the legendary developer of historic tiny-town Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings's classic song, "Let's Go to Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love." This is Patterson's original art, described as a marriage of Texas Folk Art and Fine Art, plus textiles, memorabilia and works from her life. In addition to her work, Hondo and Luckenbach artifacts fill three cases.
- Dave Kemp — Cafe at the Ridge, 6 p.m. Information: https://www.shopsattheridge.com
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: https://kerrvillet.gov/349/FOTL-Book-Sale 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.
The Lead's first-anniversary party is Aug. 19, RSVP today!
It's hard to believe it's here, but The Kerr County Lead celebrates its first anniversary on Aug. 19. Some of you know that The Lead's origins date to January 2021. Still, we consider Aug. 19 the official launch date because it's when we officially launched on bulletin.com.
To celebrate this, we're inviting our paid subscribers to attend an anniversary reception from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 at Pint and Plow Brewing Co. in Kerrville. We will have food and the latest brew from Pint and Plow to sample.
Please RSVP here: https://forms.gle/L6R1xN44WPNrUK4i8
We are accepting RSVPs through Aug. 15.
Guess what's on the agenda? You got it — short-term rentals.
The Kerrville City Council faces another set of potential short-term rentals decisions, including two rejected by the planning and zoning commission.
The City Council meets at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall, and the short-term rentals aren't the only contentious item on the agenda. The Council is also considering an appeal from a property owner who wants to re-zone a 22-acre parcel on East Main Street to a high-density residential or multi-family — one rejected by the planning and zoning commission after neighbors complained.
Increasingly, the discussions over zoning, land use and short-term rentals are chewing up both the P&Z and the City Council, and tonight's meeting should be no exception.
The City Council will have to determine if a pair of short-term rental owners meet the qualifications for a conditional-use permit — even though the planning and zoning said no. Well, they said maybe because the votes ended up in 3-3 ties. The two properties are:
- 410 Circle Drive, which drew criticism from neighbors, many of who said they were worried about traffic and strangers. At least 12 neighbors signed a petition opposing the small home as a short-term rental.
- One of the most contentious discussions involving the P&Z was the home at 1701 Foothills — one of the largest homes in Kerrville to request a conditional-use permit. The owners told P&Z a financial circumstance led them to offer it as a short-term rental, but the permit met stiff resistance from the neighborhoods.
And we're not done yet when it comes to irritated neighbors.
A long-simmering issue over a parking lot, leading to a court case that Kerrville lost, is also on the docket tonight. The owner of a Sidney Baker Street shopping center with Soaring Dragon restaurant wants to put a parking lot behind the property, but the neighbors aren't happy.
Those neighbors live on Clay Street — many of them for years — and the parking lot was to have an entrance and exit on the street. The P&Z nixed that in-and-out idea, but the parking lot will happen because of a court order.
Schreiner University students are set to return; President Charlie McCormick is ready!
Schreiner University President Charlie McCormick is ready to welcome first-year students back to the Kerrville campus on Thursday — marking his seventh class since taking over in 2016. McCormick has seen plenty of changes and challenges in those seven years, including the coronavirus pandemic.
The university has also seen a significant shift in demographics.
Watch our interview with Schreiner University President Charlie McCormick.
"So probably in 2012, a quarter of our students would have identified as Hispanic, and I think last year about 38% of our students did, and we'll have almost 50% of our incoming students who identify as Hispanic," McCormick said.
McCormick, who has helped brand the university as a "uniquely Texas" institution, is positioning itself to expand its offerings. Earlier this year, the university received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to bolster science, technology, math and engineering programs — one of the caveats was that it served Hispanic students.
McCormick said the shifting demographics align the university more with Texas, but Schreiner has also heavily recruited the Rio Grande Valley.
The move helped Schreiner get the grant, and the engineering program and one in criminal justice will open this year.
"We have, you know, mechanical and civil tracks in that and looking forward to getting some labs built out for those programs as well," McCormick said. "We've had people ask. So, when will you bring on electrical engineering? We're going to focus on the mechanical and civil and that's what the majority of students actually are most interested in."
The university is already a draw for nursing students, prospective teachers, and school administrators. That demand has only intensified as Texas and the rest of the country experience shortages. McCormick said 100% of Schreiner's bachelor's degree in nursing students passed state licensing requirements to move into the workforce.
"And we think that a year from now, we'll have our master of science in nursing," McCormick said about adding to the university's nursing program.
Another program McCormick advocates for is one in craft agriculture, which is part of the university's STEM grant.
"We're still trying to understand and figure out what all of the aspects of that will be, but a lot of interesting stuff is going on with agriculture," McCormick said.
And the science track could also include an aviation program — something Schreiner has worked diligently on with the emergence of Kerrville as a small aerospace hub.
"And then one thing I'm very interested in and excited about is the possibility of a new aviation program," McCormick said. "So, we have a beautiful airport here in town."
On adding football to the university's Division III program:
McCormick said the university is still studying implementing the program, which could be a significant capital expenditure. Other members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference are also considering adding football.
"First of all, to figure out, if we want to do it, is there a spot to put it on campus?" McCormick said. "And the early indications are that yes we could do it."
The Red Cross' new executive director is prepped to help
When Debbie Zabica saw the opportunity to become The Red Cross executive director in Kerrville, she jumped at the chance to lead the organization.
Zabica is no stranger to nonprofit work. Before coming to The Red Cross, Zabica was the executive director at the Hill Country Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Before that, she worked with the regional Girl Scouts organization.
"I really like helping people," Zabica said. "And I love the animals. Love them, and you know, (the SPCA) is a great organization, but this opportunity came up, and I thought, well, this is something I'd like to do."
And she now faces the challenge of recruiting volunteers, building funding capacity and engaging the public about her mission. The Kerrville-based chapter serves numerous Hill Country counties. They responded to the mass shooting in Uvalde in May.
"Well, I mean, we always, you know, need to have monetary gifts, you know, in-kind gifts but our big thing right now is just trying to get more volunteers," Zabica said.
Her appointment as the new executive director relieves some of the pressure from Richard McAlister's plate. McAlister served as an interim director, but he is a vital part of The Red Cross' meteorological team.
"Our volunteer base has diminished," McAlister said. "Some over COVID and people have not come back now that the COVID is lifted. So, we're we're looking for volunteers. We've got hurricane season that's upon us and season that's upon us. And we're also supporting operations as far away as Kentucky right now."
Zabica's said she's working to build a strong board of directors, which could augment the volunteer needs.
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