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The Lead Dec. 1, 2021: Kerrville's public safety building will be big, because stuff changes

The committee looking at the needs for the city is finding this will be expensive, and there's no site selected.


It's the first day of December! We're ready for Christmas! Are you? We've got so much going on this week, and just trying to squeeze it all in is going to be interesting.


We're going to be joined by First United Methodist Church Pastor David Payne, and we're looking for this conversation. As one of the community's largest churches, First United Methodist plays a key role in numerous functions, from daycare to vaccination clinics.


  • On Thursday's show, hosted by Delayne Sigerman, Kerrville City Manager E.A. Hoppe will discuss the latest events around the city. We'll also get an update on Delayne's attempt to cook through the Ina Garten cookbook. We also suspect there will be some sort of wine involved in the show.
  • Coming Friday, we're going to be joined by Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Harvard University's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, to discuss the latest with COVID-19, including what's happening with the omicron variant. The crew from Stretch Zone will also visit to share their business concept with us. Finally, Jeremy Walther and Kayte Graham will take over the show to interview Louis Amestoy about why he started The Lead.


We will be launching the December edition of our The Lead e-Edition magazine. It will have a roundup of what happened in Kerr County over the last month, along with a look ahead to things in December.


The HBO limited series "Love and Death," which stars Elizabeth Olsen, started filming in Kerrville on Tuesday. It will be most visible today when the production closes part of Junction Highway and Harper Road between 6 a.m to 6 p.m. We'll do our best to capture some of the action.


Here are some things going on today and Thursday.

Girls Night Out

Arcadia Live

6 p.m.

Girls Night Out Holiday Shopping Market, $10. With the purchase of a ticket, your name will be at the door for entry and you'll be automatically entered in our raffle drawing. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased for $10.


Hill Country Christmas Concert

Calvary Temple Church

6:30 p.m.

Pastor Del's Annual Christmas Concert. Start the Christmas season off with some wonderful Christmas songs. Admission: One non-perishable food item. Dessert reception to follow.

Symphony of the Hills: "Holiday Hopes Dream Pray Love"

Cailloux Theater

7:30 p.m.

In this concert, a professional symphony orchestra drawn from the Hill Country and Central Texas celebrates brother and sisterhood's thoughts and prayers, featuring the Grand Symphony Chorus. Tickets are $25.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may have dodged a challenge from actor Matthew McConaughey for governor, but he wasn't able to avoid a self-inflicted blunder on social media. Abbott Tweeted this:

"Biden banned travel from South Africa because of the new Covid variant. Immigrants have recently been apprehended crossing our border illegally from South Africa. Biden is doing nothing to stop immigrants from South Africa entering illegally. Pure politics and hypocrisy."

Abbott had to clarify the Tweet by saying 50 South Africans were stopped at the border, but the damage was done.

See @AvengerResister's post on Twitter.


Look, it's hard for us to fathom Greg Abbott losing to Beto O'Rourke in the race for governor, and we kept seeing Democrats touting some poll that suggested the race was close. However, none of those Tweeting shared the link. What we did find is a University of Texas-Tyler poll showed Abbott with a six-point lead over O'Rourke, but more telling was that the governor has a 49% approval rating. That is going to be hard for O'Rourke to overcome.


For whatever reason, Gov. Greg Abbott loves to brag about how well Texas is doing in its COVID-19 response, but he always uses flawed data. Now, we don't think the governor Tweets everything himself — it's probably a staffer — but these misrepresentations of the facts should be a red flag for everyone — red, blue or purple. Abbott consistently touts numbers from holiday weekends when many hospitals aren't reporting, and the state's own Department of State Health Services didn't update its numbers over the holiday weekend. Here's the Tweet:

See @GregAbbott_TX's post on Twitter.


As we've reported over and over again, the numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services continue to be lax in timeliness. On Tuesday, the state reported that Kerr County had another death — this time from Sept. 15. That's right, it took them more than two months to report a fatality. No one has a real idea of the county's death toll. We believe it's probably 200 people, but it could be much higher.

On top of that, DSHS said there were 184 probable COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, but we have no idea if those are in real-time. It's the largest one-day increase — for probable cases — during the pandemic, and DSHS said we have 200 active cases. If that's accurate, that's a stunning problem. However, we put more faith in Peterson Regional Medical Center's reporting, which said there were nine cases and two people hospitalized (both unfortunately in the intensive care unit).


The Kerrville Police Department said it arrested six people over the long holiday weekend for drunk driving. It was the most in the last five years and ended up being about 20% of the department's call volume for the weekend.

Interestingly, the three days of reports from Halloween weekend, Oct 29-30, show that the department made five drunk driving arrests.


If Kerrville wants a new public safety building, which could also house its information technology department, it's going to need something big — bigger than probably most anticipated.

Faced with the reality of differing needs from a 2019 feasibility study, a 10-person committee exploring the needs of the police department, fire administration and municipal courts met a challenging proposition — a building as big as 60,000 square feet.

On Tuesday, the committee met at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, joined remotely by architect Randall Scott, who also hit the committee with some regulatory issues that were somewhat unexpected and potentially costly.

For years, the city of Kerrville knew that its police headquarters, a repurposed bus depot, was woefully inadequate for the needs of the growing department. The 2019 study found that the city needed about 48,000 square feet, but new Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall said there were plenty of gaps in that plan.

McCall said the previously proposed station would have underserved the department, boxing it into a position where growth would have been challenging. In addition, some of the shared uses between the three departments — police, fire and courts — are complicated by privacy laws that protect confidential information.

That's when Scott dropped a bomb on the head of the committee when he said that building codes now require first responders must have access to a hardened (or fortified) space built inside, yet structurally separate from the building, that allows them a place of refuge in an emergency. And, by the way, that safe room needs to have a bathroom, storage, IT infrastructure and a kitchen.

The previous study, confidentially delivered to the city in November 2019, placed the estimated construction costs at about $500 per square foot. And this is where things get tricky for the City Council, and three of them were there because they're facing a large and expensive project, just as Kerr County is looking to put at least two bonds on the November 2022 ballot.

"How did we miss this?" asked committee member Gary Cochrane, who served on the Kerrville City Council at the time of the initial study. Cochrane said he needs to see how much square footage it will take because he said he was having a hard time imagining a centrally located site with at least 3 acres.

"I've spent a lot of time looking at real estate," said Cochrane, who is a commercial real estate broker. "I'm not sure any of them are big enough. I'm not sure 3 acres is big enough."

The initial plan identified three locations, all on or adjacent to city property, but almost none of them fully served the needs asked by fire and police leaders at the time. There seemed to be a consensus that none of those locations now, including one on Paschel Street across from the Doyle School Community Center, are viable.

Another twist to the plan was the suggestion from city IT Director Charvy Tork that the city moves the IT department into the public safety building. Tork's rationale was simple — 75% of her department's responsibilities deal with public safety. Tork would continue to have to navigate troubleshooting from her current offices, which presents plenty of challenges.

In the end, John Harrison, the committee's chairman, asked for the architects to present two plans, including one with the IT department. However, it will be a week before the architects come up with a square footage estimate — and just how expensive this plan will be.


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