We are halfway there — the weekend and Christmas. Woo hoo! Who's ready? Gorgeous weather ahead with Saturday's high now forecast for 85 degrees.
ON TODAY'S THE LEAD LIVE
Kerrville Fire Chief Eric Maloney and Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall will be guests on The Lead Live at 9 a.m. today.
This is our final show of 2021, and we expect it to be a good one. We're hosting Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall, Kerrville Fire Chief Eric Maloney and John Harrison today to discuss the development of a public safety building. The project could be one of the largest public buildings in Kerrville's history, with a recommended footprint of nearly 70,000-square feet at the cost of $45 million. Harrison is the committee chairman that will make the recommendation to the City Council. The building will house the police department, the fire administration, municipal court and the information technology department. The show starts at 9 a.m. on our Facebook page.
As Kerrville wrestles with these space needs, it struck us the other day that it seems like an unfortunate circumstance leading to the demolition of the old Peterson Hospital — a six-story building with plenty of space. Indeed, the building had outlived its usefulness as a hospital, but practical reuse? These are the questions we asked ourselves while driving around looking at Christmas lights. Got a different opinion? Let us know.
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CHRISTMAS WINDOW DECORATIONS AWARDED
Downtown Kerrville's Fitch Estate Sales and Ingram T.J. Moore Lumber were named JAM Radio's Christmas window decoration contest winners. Fitch Estate Sales earned first place, along with a $1,000 worth of radio advertising. T.J. Moore earned second place and $500. Well done!
INTEREST RATES ON THE RISE
On Tuesday night, we chatted with Texas Hill Country Advisors Gilbert Paiz and Andrew Gay about the Federal Reserve's expected raise of interest rates in 2022, and Paiz came up with a prediction.
"I say that next year, they're going to raise interest rates once," said Paiz, a veteran financial advisor. "We'll see how right I am next year at this time, but everybody remembers that and call me on it."
For the last few weeks, Paiz and Gay have discussed the Fed's tapering policies in anticipating a rate increase on their weekly show, which The Lead carries. The question of inflation and interest rates will undoubtedly be one of the most significant issues facing us, especially as Kerr County and Kerrville voters could decide more than $100 million in infrastructure bonds in 2022.
With the rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19, Paiz bases his opinion on the Fed wanting to give itself some "wiggle room."
"I think there might be another COVID variant or what happens if Omicron turns out to be a real nasty one," Paiz said about the uncertainty. "That's the other thing is the number of factors that are weighing on the market right now. You know, it's like when I explain that to people about the market, there's not, there's not, sometimes there's an overarching narrative or an overarching story that the market is buying into, right? But that's not always the case."
A CHAT WITH REV. BERT BAETZ
St. Peter's Episcopal Church Pastor Rev. Bert Baetz chatted with us about Christmas movies.
On Tuesday's The Lead Live, we chatted with Rev. Bert Baetz, of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Kerrville, about the use of pop culture in his ministry. The conversation stemmed from a previous talk about the Apple TV show "Ted Lasso," which is already widely discussed for its psychology and leadership lessons. However, we also dove into one of Baetz's favorite Christmas shows — "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Here's an excerpt for our interview and the simple beauty of Linus explaining the meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown.
"You asked me do I have any favorite Jesus movies? I thought I thought more about that question because I think about the Charlie Brown Christmas," Baetz said. "There's a scene in the movie where Linus tells the story. Just reads Luke's gospel on stage. He tells Charlie Brown the real meaning of Christmas and I thought that I love the Charlie Brown Christmas because it's like Linus just tells the story and it doesn't need sort of anything else around it. Like the the the best story that we can get about Jesus comes from scripture."
For Baetz, the Linus scene's simplicity reassures him that the gospels provide the best stories, but that doesn't mean that pop culture can't tell relevant and meaningful stories, especially at Christmas.
"It's pointing to some greater truth that we can then connect; I like films about Jesus, but I don't think you can get better than what the gospels provide," Baetz said. "That said, I mean, I like our you know, I like I was telling you the other day I like for instance, our family likes "The Star."
A 2017 animated movie, "The Star" tells the Nativity story through a donkey named "Bo," who serves Mary and Joseph. Baetz said he tried to describe the movie as simplistic, but his son, Oliver, reminded him the film is trying to explain the complex story of Jesus' birth.
"The producers and writers certainly take some license, but I like where they make room for the feelings we might have about the story when say, for instance, Gabriel tells Mary she's going to birth the son of God, and you know, you're thinking, I mean, what did Mary think?" Baetz said. And in the movie, there, you know, Mary says, thank you."
OMICRON VARIANT CONTINUES TO MARCH ACROSS THE U.S.
Peterson Regional Medical Center said it had five new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — on the same day, more than 11,000 people across the state tested positive.
In two days, Peterson had 16 people test positive, 14 unvaccinated of them against COVID-19. The Texas Department of State Health Services said 8,082 people had confirmed cases of COVID-19; another 3,000 were probable for COVID-19.
DSHS said there were 150 active cases of the virus in Kerr County on Tuesday, but the accuracy of that number remains questionable.
On Monday, the omicron variant of COVID-19 swept across the United States, producing an estimated 75% of all new cases. The variant has killed one unvaccinated man in Houston — believed to be the first omicron-related death in the United States. The man also had COVID-19 previously.
See @DrEricDing's post on Twitter.
As all of this rapidly unfolded on Monday and today, President Joe Biden said this would not be a repeat of March 2020 — when the nation shut down as COVID-19 first swept the country.
"And, no, this is not March of 2020," Biden said during a press conference. "Two hundred million people are fully vaccinated. We're prepared. We know more. We just have to stay focused. So that's where we stand."
Biden said the government would issue 500 million in-home COVID-19 testing kits. Biden said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide pop-up vaccination clinics, but he also issued a warning about the seriousness of the virus.
"Look, let me give it to you straight again: Omicron is serious, potentially deadly business for unvaccinated people," Biden said.
ARE WE SEEING PEAK OMICRON?
One suggestion is that we're not actually seeing "explosive growth" but actually peak omicron. That's the assessment from former Food and Drug Administration Director Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who ran the agency under former President Trump.
See @ScottGottliebMD's post on Twitter.
Former President Trump delivered remarks with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in Dallas on Sunday, and he was booed by the audience when he said he had received the COVID-19 booster shot.
See @CBSNews's post on Twitter.
Trump, however, bounced back from the boos and delivered this response:
See @NoSpinNews's post on Twitter.