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The Lead Dec. 14, 2021: The new public safety building will be big, expensive

A committee looking at the plan says it will cost at least $45 million


We are ready for a unique show today on The Lead Live. Today will be about fashion and those perfect last-minute gifts. We're handing the show over to Natalee Peppitt, Rachel Fitch and Tome O'Hern, and we expect this show to be a blast.


We had an informative show yesterday about the needs for volunteers at BCFS Family Services here in Kerrville. The organization works with at-risk youth and desperately needs volunteer mentors. We also had financial advisor/motivational speaker/pastor/costumed character/auctioneer and all-around good guy, Jeff Talarico, on the show. And, of course, the Hill Country Youth Ranch's Ashley Phillips stormed onto the show with her toddler son, Kolt. In the words of one of our faithful viewers — everyone was adorable, especially Kolt.

To learn more about BCFS:


To watch Monday's show:


Oh yes, the Kerrville City Council. They meet at 6 p.m. We suspect the meeting will be done by 7:45 — don't hold us to that, but that's what we're thinking. The Council is expected to discuss short-term rentals and appoint people to open positions on the city boards, commissions and panels. You can watch it live in person, on TV or online — or wait for us to distill the action down.


We made another pass through Kerrville on Monday night, searching for Christmas Lights of awe and wonder. We found 12 new places. We are now at more than 130 homes that we like, but we encourage you to get out, put on some Perry Como or Andy Williams or Nat King Cole, and drive around looking for yourself. By the way here's our map:


721 River Hill

1425 3rd Street

1317 3rd Street



It's going to be even bigger, more expensive

After meeting with architects, a 10-person committee will recommend to the Kerrville City Council that the city construct a 69,000-square foot, one-story public safety building with an estimated budget of $45 million.

The committee chairman, John Harrison, said the committee would make its final presentation next month to the City Council. There were two members absent — Justin MacDonald and Gary Cochrane — but Harrison said the committee voted 8-0 to move forward with the recommendations.

The proposed building would need to sit on 7 acres to accommodate the footprint and parking. The recommendation would be to house the police department, fire administration, municipal court, emergency operations center and information technology department.

Harrison said the building would also include 8,000-square feet of "shelf space" to provide flexibility to grow the structure.

"We want to propose a building that meets our needs 10-15 years from now," Harrison said Monday night. "We want to have the expandable space available."

Initially, the city targeted a building of 48,000-square feet. In 2019, the city commissioned a study needs for the public safety building, with some limitations — like building on city-owned property. Within weeks of the plan's confidential presentation, the city faced the coronavirus pandemic.

Harrison said that building a single-story facility would save the city money by limiting stairs and elevators. At one point, the city envisioned a three-story structure.

Now comes the tricky part for the city of Kerrville, finding 7 acres in a central location and waiting until voters approve a general obligation bond. In turn, the city also faces possibly competing with Kerr County, which is planning a general obligation bond measure that could seek $60 million to upgrade and improve its facilities. That election would happen during the November 2022 general election.

The City Council has yet to determine when it will ask voters to approve the bond.

California man killed in suspected hit and run

The Texas Department of Public Safety said Yonathan Michael Tessema, 34, of Brentwood, Calif., was hit late on Dec. 9 or in the early morning hours of Dec. 10. He was pronounced dead at 7:32 a.m. on Dec. 10. DPS said Tessema was walking southbound on Bandera Highway but was on the north side of the shoulder, walking against the flow of traffic. For more on the story read here: DPS searching for suspect in Kerrville hit-and-run that left California man dead

Kerr County Commissioners vote to cancel a request for applications on federal funds

The never-ending question about what to do about $10 million in federal coronavirus aid continues to perplex the Kerr County Commissioners Court. They regularly face opposition from speakers, worried they will become enslaved by the acceptance of the money. On Tuesday, the court voted unanimously to cancel an order to allow outside groups — specifically non-profits — from applying for the money. The court will sit on the money — for at least a year. Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly reiterated there is a need for the funds to be spent on important projects for public safety and public health.

Rival farmer's market told it can't set up at Kerr County Courthouse

The Kerr County Commissioners Court told a new farmer's market that it could not set up at the courthouse for a three-month trial next year. Initially, it looked like the Heart of the Hills Farmer's Market would gain approval from the commissioners, but Pct. 1 Commissioner Harley David Belew shot it down after he suggested the leader of the market had misrepresented his intentions to the court. Read more of the story here:

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise

There are muted worries about the COVID-19 omicron variant in Kerr County because it's still all about delta. On Monday, Peterson Regional Medical Center said four are hospitalized, including one in the intensive care unit. However, the Texas Department of State Health Services said 422 active COVID-19 cases are here. No one is sure if those numbers are real, but there's one metric that people should pay attention to — hospitalizations. Some key things to consider:

Across the state, hospitalization sat at 3,100 on Monday, including 945 in intensive care units. Now, this isn't an alarming number, but for the last few days, the number of hospitalizations has steadily risen since bottoming out at about 2,700 on Nov. 15.

In the San Antonio region, including Kerr County, COVID-19 has hospitalized 219 people.

So, what is omicron doing?

The virus has shown up in San Antonio. That's what it's doing. However, as we've reported, this variant has appeared to be milder. Dig a bit deeper here:

A new storage building for the Kerrville Independent School District

With the impending sale of the former Hal Peterson Middle School campus, the Kerrville Independent School District desperately needs storage space. The "blue building," an approximately 6,000-square foot building, rests on the shuttered campus that needs replacing. The board of trustees voted 5-1, with one abstention, to hire J.K. Bernhard Construction to build a 10,000-square foot storage facility near the Hill Country Youth Event Center. Superintendent Mark Foust said the building would be a simple metal building that would still cost more than $800,000 to house supplies, books, and other district materials. Trustee Greg Peschel voted against the plan, while Trustee Mike Tackett abstained — he's an employee of J.K. Bernhard.


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