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The Lead Dec. 10, 2021: Andrew Murr makes his first visit to the Doyle School Community Center

Kerr County also sees its first COVID-19 death in December.


We made it! It's Friday, and the weekend is here! More importantly, we're two weeks out from Christmas Eve and one day closer to Christmas. Weirdly, we will experience spring-like conditions today, with highs in the mid to high 80s. The National Weather Service forecasts the high temperatures may break records across the Hill Country on Friday. There's no forecast of rain in the coming week.


We shot this photo on Thursday afternoon — a warm and beautiful day — that felt more like spring than late fall.


When it comes to being safe in the home, minimizing the risk of falls should be on the top of your list. On today's The Lead Live, we're joined by Kerrville Fire Department Chief Eric Maloney, Peterson Health's Darin Smith, the Dietert Center's Brenda Thompson to discuss the importance of preventing falls in the home. Fall-related injuries account for 20% of the Kerrville Fire Department's calls for emergency service, and nationally falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. In Kerr County, between 1999 and 2019, there were 109 fall-related deaths, 96 of those were people 55 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We're hoping this is an informative session — one that will be available for on-demand viewing.


But wait, there's more. Schreiner University senior guard Alex Dehoyos will join us at 10 a.m. and assistant coach Mark Jablonski to discuss the Mountaineers 2021-2022 season. Next week, the Mountaineers face a two-day road trip in Spokane, Wash.


Photography is a big part of the Kerr County Lead, and we're offering this special calendar/planner as a way of supporting our work — not to mention it makes a great Christmas gift.

The photos are all from The Lead's editor Louis Amestoy, with a focus on the beauty of Kerr County. This effort would not have been possible without the support of the Amestoy family, Herring Printing, Joe Herring Jr., and the critically important eye of Kerri Wilt.

If you would like to purchase one of our calendars, they are just $15. Here's the link:


Kerrville Farmer's Market

4-6 p.m.

Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library

Come get your fresh produce, pork chops, a free sample of Pint and Plow Beer and a whole lot more.

The Blue Oak Band

The Hunt Store, Hunt

6 p.m.

Enjoy live music at the historic Hunt Store with the Blue Oak Band.

And on Saturday there's a ton going on:


While many of us have returned to our lives as if COVID-19 is not a threat, the virus is still killing people. On Thursday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported a Kerr County resident died on Dec. 5 from the virus — the first death in December.

We also dove deeply into new CDC data, which was released earlier this week, to provide us a sense of excess deaths in Kerr County. The data shows 2020 was the worst year for Kerr County deaths over the last 20 years. In 2020, the CDC said 802 people died — about 80 more than die in most years. Take a deeper dive into that story here: COVID-19 claims first Kerr County resident in December; 2020 was the deadliest in recent county history


Rep. Andy Murr chats with members of the Doyle School Community Center staff on Thursday.

Texas state Rep. Andrew Murr made his first visit to the Doyle School Community Center, receiving a guided tour from Clifton Fifer of the newly renovated historical building.

Murr started his visit by providing a handful of Doyle volunteers and employees with a legislative update from this year's legislative session and three-special sessions. Murr, who represents Kerr County in the 51st legislative district, discussed his expanded district — now covering 16 counties. The district is roughly the size of West Virginia, Murr said.

Much of the conversation was about mental health access and its impact on law enforcement.

During his visit to the Doyle Community Center and Barnett Chapel, Rep. Andy Murr discussed mental health challenges that law enforcement officials face on a regular basis.

"Why are we waiting for a crisis?" Murr said. "The second part of this is, why are we putting law enforcement first whenever we have the medical capability and the understanding, we know how the brain works?"

Murr is the first to admit there are no easy answers for fixing these issues but that he's hopeful. Murr said the legislature enacted reforms to improve telemedicine, providing expanded mental health access to those 14-24 years old.

Of course, Murr's visit to Doyle comes after the legislature approved Gov. Greg Abbott's sweeping legislative agenda that included banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools. One of Murr's colleagues also started to investigate more than 800 books — many of them about race.

Doyle's historical place in the community was as the school serving Kerrville's Black population during segregation — a powerful example of codified and systemic discrimination. While not addressing the issue directly, Fifer, a former Kerrville school teacher, asked Murr why it seemed like the state was moving toward an 1836-centric approach to teaching Texas history.

"It's important to learn about the past warts and all," said Murr, who added he believed it was essential to tell the stories of the six flags flying over Texas approach to history.

The warts, however, have been fought over, especially how Texas teachers its history of slavery, racial discrimination and violence. On Thursday, Murr didn't dive into those issues, but he did receive a history lesson from Fifer about the Doyle community's history and how the school was the center of Black life before segregation eased in the late 1960s.

Clifton Fifer, right, and Andy Murr discuss the planting in the Doyle Community's Glory Garden.

Clifton Fifer discusses the history of the Doyle School, including a fire in the 1950s that nearly destroyed the building.


The First United Methodist Church singers perform from the balcony at the Schreiner Mansion.

Lynda Ables can talk for hours about the importance of music in a child's life. As a founder of the Hill Country Youth Orchestra, it still astounds her that the more than 40-year-old program remains the only free youth orchestra of its kind in the United States.

However, Ables said the challenge is that every non-profit has struggled with funding since the coronavirus pandemic. So, the Christmas season has proven to be an important one for the orchestra, with the Schreiner Mansion tours serving as a way to help fund some of the costs the orchestra incurs each year — mostly purchasing instruments.

And with the Schreiner Mansion festooned in Christmas glory, the selling point of seeing the home of Charles Schreiner is an easy sell. The tours, which also feature some caroling from the First United Methodist Choir, are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.


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