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The Lead, Dec. 7, 2021: Today marks an anniversary of infamy

Today is the 80th anniversary of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, marking the beginning of World War II.


Today is the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan. The Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg is hosting a virtual ceremony at 11:55 a.m. — the exact time when the Japanese attack began in 1941.

Of course, the Pacific War took on great significance for Kerrville's Chester Nimitz, who commanded the Pacific Fleet and led the island-hopping campaign to root the Japanese out from their bases in archipelago and spits of land across the vast ocean. Nimitz was promoted directly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, where 2,403 people died. Nearly half of those deaths happened when battleship U.S.S. Arizona exploded — claiming the lives of 82 Texans aboard the ship.


We're welcoming Pastors Roy and Lynette Waldrep of Ingram's Power Hour Christian Center. We were slightly heartbroken to hear that Power Hour won't be doing their living nativity this year, but we're looking forward to hearing what the Waldreps are working on next. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Waldreps tested the live video sector on social media to spread their ministry. They continued that work unabated during the pandemic while others scrambled for solutions. The show starts at 9 a.m.


Nicki Dechert Carlson will be the first to admit that she's not a pastor or a mental health expert, but she's lived a life that has prepared her for this moment — publishing a book that uses the bible as a way to navigate challenges life presents.

Carlson's self-published book called Grace-Faced: Pursuing the Life-Changing Perspective of a Loving God ($16.99, paperback, $26.99, hardcover, $7.99, e-book) was released last week.

On Monday, Carlson was a guest on The Lead Live to discuss the release and her journey to publication. We had a terrific hourlong conversation and we'll delve deeper into her story later in the week, but if you want to listen to the podcast check it out here:–Dec–6–2021-e1bb384



Art Mart

Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The annual Hill Country Arts Foundation showcases hand-made arts and crafts by area artists. Gift ideas that are perfect for holiday giving. The show runs Tuesday through Saturday.

Hill Country Youth Orchestra Tours of Schreiner Mansion

Schreiner Mansion, Earl Garrett St., Kerrville

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Hill Country Youth Orchestra members guide you through the historic Schreiner Mansion downtown. All proceeds benefit the HCYO.

The Schreiner Mansion holiday tours benefit the Hill Country Youth Orchestras program during December. Tours include wassail, cookies, holiday sled photo opportunity and holiday carolers. This event is each Tuesday and Thursday.

Dec. 8

Winter Wonderland

Inn of the Hills, Kerrville

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kerr County Women's Chamber presents the Winter Wonderland Luncheon Fundraiser. Please bring toys age-appropriate 6-12 at the Kids Advocacy Place. Opportunity to donate to Giving Tree for Christian Women's Job Corps.

An Arcadia Holiday

Dec. 8, 6 p.m., An Arcadia Holiday, with performances by Big Seed artists. What Kelliher said: "It's an overall holiday event where everyone is welcome to come. After the musical performances are done, there will be an adaptive performance of The Nutcracker by the Classical Ballet School here in Kerrville."


The Dietert Center is hosting a special pet food donation for seniors who cannot get out of the house to buy it for themselves. Pet food can be dropped off starting at 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Dietert Center, 451 Guadalupe Stree, will be accepting donations in its lobby through Jan. 3.

Today's event is sponsored by Subaru. One in four seniors lives alone and, for many of them, their pet is their closest companion and primary source of comfort. For some, getting services needed to maintain their pets' health and sometimes even sacrifice their nutrition by sharing their delivered meals to ensure their pets are fed.


We've been out the last three nights looking for Christmas Lights around Kerrville, and we're building a map of what we find — we know we're only scratching the service. However, we've photographed 40 houses that we think are pretty special. Honestly, we're going in this with a certain level of criteria from the number of lights, level of decorating difficulty, a Baby Yoda, a Nativity. We're going to deduct points for a Christmas dragon.

Here's the ever-expanding map:


Mercy Gate Ministries co-founder and executive director Chae Spencer talks about the perils and horrors of human trafficking.

There was advice heading into Monday night's Mercy Gate Ministries fundraiser at St. Peter's Episcopal Church because the subject matter would be difficult — and that was putting it mildly.

Monday's stories were about human trafficking — in most cases, horrific tales of pervasive sexual abuse of women. Mercy Gate hopes to expand its facilities in Hunt to help scale its program, and the reason brought co-founder Chae Spencer to tears.

"It's really hard to tell people you can't take them," said Spencer as she fought back her tears.

The ministry plans to convert a 4,500-square foot home, which sits on several acres, in Hunt into a larger complex that will help women recover from being trafficked. Many of these victims have experienced severe trauma, substance abuse and have often suffered unimaginable physical attacks. The cost is expected to be about $400,000, Spencer said.

One of the women, who spoke to the sold-out event, shared her story of being sexually abused at 11, repeatedly raped at 18 and trafficked at 19 into a decade of repeated sexual abuse. At 29, she finally gathered herself to flee her abuser, who she said now faces a murder charge and 25 counts of human trafficking.

All three women who shared their stories received standing ovations from the audience.

To put the evening into a greater perspective, Kerr County Sheriff's Office Capt. Jason Waldrip spoke about Sheriff Larry Leitha's efforts to strengthen the law enforcement response to trafficking. In recent weeks, the sheriff and other agencies led a sting on 25 men suspected of arranging for sex with children and adult prostitutes.

Kerr County Sheriff's Capt. Jason Waldrip discusses the office's efforts to stop human trafficking in Kerr County.

Waldrip said the rise of human smuggling operations through Kerr County from Mexico is used to traffic people — either into sex work or forced labor.

To learn more about the Mercy Gate Ministries visit their website:


Peterson Health said Monday they have experienced a computer issue preventing them from updating COVID-19 numbers, but that just three people were admitted to the hospital with the virus.

With Peterson unable to report its numbers, the actual number of active cases in Kerr County remains confusing. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports more than 350 active cases — one of the highest in the DSHS region that covers San Antonio. While DSHS told The Lead last week that the numbers reflect an improved reporting mechanism, the volume of active cases and the small number of people hospitalized doesn't seem to match recent trends.

Across the country, scientists and doctors are still working to understand what the omicron variant might do, and one group of researchers posited that it might be a reverse-zoonotic illness.

The healthcare news website,, published a Dec. 2 story that suggested: "The theory goes that some type of animal, potentially rodents, was infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus sometime in mid-2020. In this new species, the virus evolved, accumulating roughly 50 mutations on the spike protein before spilling back over into people."

The research comes from scientists at Tulane University; University of Arizona; Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Edinburgh, Scotland; Scripps Research Institute; and the University of Saskatchewan.

There is evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible between humans and animals, including dogs and cats. Studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Penn State University suggest the virus is heavily present in whitetail deer.

However, if there's a bit of good news, omicron may present a less severe illness, but it may be more transmissible. In South Africa, where the variant was first detected, the number of new cases has skyrocketed in the first five days of December — more than 10,000 per day.

Dr. Jeremy Faust of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston urges caution in jumping to conclusions about the variant.

"Until then, we have to be careful not to jump to conclusions," Faust wrote. "We've begun to suspect that reinfections will be more common with omicron. But what can we make of the early clinical anecdotes we've heard? For example, hospitals in South Africa have started sharing detailed albeit informal information on what they've been seeing. The news is good, for now. Most of the significant cases have been found among the unvaccinated."

Read more here

STAT News: Some experts suggest Omicron variant may have evolved in an animal host

Inside Medicine: Omicron: four insights from this week.

New York Times: Omicron Is Fast Moving, but Perhaps Less Severe, Early Reports Suggest


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