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The Lead, Dec. 8, 2021: Omicron shows up in Texas; KPD reaches its fundraising goal for K-9

On today's The Lead Live we will be joined by Irene Van Winkle.


Today should be another spectacular day with a high of around 80 degrees. Christmas-time in Texas feels nice, but there's a cold snap coming this weekend. However, there's no measurable rain in the forecast.


We have a first-time guest in the great Irene Van Winkle, AKA Irene on the Scene. The longtime journalist at the West Kerr Current is joining us to discuss her story of immigrating to the United States from Ukraine and her work in the Hill Country. We'll try to pin her down on exactly how many events she's been to in her career at Ingram's West Kerr Current.

Also, Allison Bueche will stop by — or storm on — to the show to discuss KPUB's weatherization event Thursday. Scroll down for more on that event at the Dietert Center.


On Thursday, Delayne Sigerman will interview Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing's Kristin Hedger about the company's plans in Kerrville. Coming Friday, representatives from Peterson Health, the Dietert Center and the Kerrville Fire Department will discuss fall prevention and recovery. During a recent show, Fire Chief Eric Maloney said 20% of the department's calls for medical aid are falls. We are inviting people to join us at Pint and Plow. Coffee will be provided.


We've been on the lookout for cool Christmas light displays around Kerrville and we found 15 more on Tuesday night. We've upped our total to 52 homes, and we're going to be adding a lot more.



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."


Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall receives a check from Kenneth Cailloux to help cover the costs of a police dog for the department.

With the Cailloux Foundation's assistance, the Kerrville Police Department achieved its funding goal for its long-sought-after police dog. The department needed to raise $80,000 to re-implement the K-9 program. In a Facebook post, KPD Chief Chris McCall thanked Kenneth Cailloux for the donation, along with contributions from countless others.

"We are now ready to move forward with purchasing a vehicle for the K-9 and returning the added capability a K-9 brings to KPD and the Hill Country," the department wrote on Facebook. "We would like to again thank everyone who has supported us throughout this project, and we look forward to providing updates as we move forward."

If you consider the generosity of this community, you have to consider in the last few weeks law enforcement backers have donated more than $150,000 to the police department and the Kerr County Sheriff's Office.


The fight over school library books takes a turn

San Antonio's Northeast Independent School District removed 400 books from its libraries "out of an abundance of caution," or because they're afraid of an investigation by a Texas legislator who has a list of 800 books he was investigating. Rep. Matt Krause, who heads an investigations committee, targeted the books for investigation and most are about race relations, sexual identity or sexual health. NBC News has more on the story:

It was only a matter of time

The COVID-19 omicron variant is here in Texas — specifically in Harris County. As we've reported previously, consensus about the omicron is still forming along two fronts: highly contagious yet mild, or it's way too early to tell. The Texas Tribune has the story:

President Biden vs. Texas, ROUND 4

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging the state's redistricting has restricted the voting rights of minorities.

Former Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce director in the news

Walt Koenig, the former head of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to a committee on how to support the military better in Texas. Koenig now runs the Chamber of Commerce in San Angelo and is a former U.S. State Department official. "The committee studies and makes recommendations on how to best maintain and enhance military value at existing military installations in Texas and how to best make Texas a more attractive destination for additional military missions," a press release said.

Texas Republican Party wants greater say in local races

The ongoing battle over the direction of schools, especially when it comes to teaching race, has drawn the attention of the Republican Party of Texas. On Monday, the party said it would be targeting historically non-partisan races, including school boards. "Following a year of big wins in school board and mayoral elections that drew national attention, the Republican Party of Texas is announcing an even greater focus on influencing local elections," said Matt Rinaldi, the state GOP chair. "It is no coincidence that this initiative comes at the same time President Biden's Department of Justice is attempting to suppress parental involvement in local elections by threatening to treat parents as terrorists for becoming involved in their children's education. Democrats across the country see the importance of local elections in the fight for America, and so does the Texas GOP."

While the Texas GOP was targeting races, Rep. Dan Crenshaw said there were grifters in the party

In a video that circulated around social media, Rep. Dan Crenshaw said that members of the Freedom Caucus were the ones who stood in the way of President Donald Trump's agenda during his first two years in office.

"There are two types of members of Congress: there is performance artists and there is legislators," Crenshaw tells the audience. "Performance artists are the ones who get all of the attention, the ones you think are more conservative because they know how to say slogans real well. They know how to recite the lines that they know our voters want to hear."


Once again, volunteers from the Upper Guadalupe River Authority had to clean up the messes of others, yanking our more than 7,000 pounds of garbage from the Guadalupe River.

In a stretch from July through October, volunteers poured more than 1,000 hours of work to haul out just over 3 tons of junk and yuck from the river. Just some of the items found were: binoculars, a car cooling pump and compressor, electric skillet, frying pan, the lid of a pot, Adirondack chair, basketball, mop head, cell phones, dog leash, jet ski sled, recliner, mini-fridge, mattress, piece of an artificial Christmas tree, retainer, shopping cart, valve wrench, Xbox, and a glass medallion from the Pantheon Basilica in Rome.

"Keeping the river clean does not just happen at the water's edge. It starts on the land — the watershed," UGRA General Manager Ray Buck said. "We hope that your efforts during the last few months will encourage the entire community to be mindful of the impact of litter every day and throughout the year."


For all of us who endured the February winter storm, prepping for the next one seems like a side decision, and the Kerrville Public Utility Board is ready to step in and help with that. KPUB and Alamo Area Council of Governments will host a weatherization event from 12-8 p.m. at the Dietert Center on Thursday.

Representatives from both KPUB and Alamo Area Council of Governments will promote energy efficiency, home energy saving tips and funding available through AACOG's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

AACOG's program helps low-income residents, particularly the elderly and handicapped, overcome the high energy costs by installing conservation measures at no charge to the applicant.

AACOG's weatherization program provides savings for the lifetime of your house by reducing energy bills and is 100% free for those that income qualify. The program can be available to both renters and homeowners.

"Making small energy-saving improvements can make a big impact towards lower electric bills if a home is not energy-efficient," KPUB CEO and General Manager Mike Wittler said. "Statistically, low-income households struggle with high energy costs. Weatherization programs like AACOG's can be done 100% free for the customer if they income-qualify and the home is structurally sound."


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