Good morning, Kerr County!
We hope everyone had a marvelous Valentine's Day. Now, it's time to get back to work until the next holiday — next week. We've got an allegation of rain in the forecast for Wednesday night, but the week looks sunny and bright for the most part. On Monday, the National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather warning for Kerr County that reminded people about high fire dangers due to low humidity and some gusty winds.
On this day in history
- Feb. 15, 1945: Marines begin their journey toward Iwo Jima to assault the island fortress in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Marines would begin landing on Feb. 19.
- Feb. 15, 1898: The U.S.S. Maine is sunk by an explosion — the exact cause is still argued today — in the port of Havana, Cuba. The incident sets up the 16-week Spanish-American War leading to the U.S. occupation of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillippines and Guam. Interesting side note, by the war's end about 75% of the Army was not fit for service thanks to Yellow Fever.
On today's The Lead Live
We welcome back Jennyth Peterson to the show, but she's talking about something considerably less controversial this time. Peterson and her mother, Rebecca, are involved with the Hill Country Quilt Guild, hosting its winter show starting Friday at the Happy State Bank Expo Center at the Hill Country Youth Event Center. The two-day event is dubbed "Along The Silk Road" and will feature 250 juried quilts. Jennyth Peterson was previously on The Lead Live to discuss her opposition to a residential development in northwest Kerrville. Join us at 9 a.m.
Robert Earl Keen is leaving the road, but will keep making music
Robert Earl Keen, a key player in Texas music royalty, stopped by Pint and Plow on Monday morning to chat about his upcoming tour and his impending retirement from touring during The Lead Live.
Last month, Keen announced that he would step away from touring after Labor Day weekend. That means his already-sold-out Hill Country Youth Orchestra benefit concert on Feb. 26 will be the last for that event. He will also perform one last time on the Fourth of July at Louise Hays Park.
It will be a busy few months for the singer-songwriter, who first gained acclaim in 1983 for winning the songwriting contest at the Kerrville Folk Festival. He has gone on to tour the world, and later this week, he will play at the hallowed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
"I'm making the most of it," Keen said of his final tour stops. "There are places that I want to repeat."
Read more from our interview: https://kerrcountylead.com/the-road-is-ending-for-robert-earl-keen-the-music-will-never-stop
Early voting is underway
The early voting for the March 1 Texas primary election has started at the Hill Country Youth Event Center. Voters can cast their ballots from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday and from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The following week, voting runs Tuesday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.
The commissioner's court deals the D.A. a setback
In a strange moment, the Kerr County Commissioner's Court handed 216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke a setback on Monday by not approving the salary and pay scale for an investigator for her office. Precinct 1 Commissioner Harley Belew made a motion to make the offer, but it died due to a lack of a second. Even though Wilke had the salary budgeted, she was looking to bring in an investigator at a higher rate or step, than comparable positions in the Kerr County Sheriff's Office. The lack of action leaves Wilke without an investigator, at least for now, but it's the second time the court and Wilke tangled over salaries.
New developments in the airport drag racing case
The Texas Attorney General's Office sided with the city of Kerrville in a public record request for city documents related to October's fatal drag racing crash at the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. Last year, The Lead filed a request for the documents, but the city declined the request while seeking guidance from Attorney General Ken Paxton's office. In a letter delivered on Monday, the Attorney General's office said the city could withhold the documents, but once lawsuits litigation happened, they would be discoverable.
The first of those lawsuits will go to trial Nov. 14. San Antonio attorney Andrew Toscano, who represents two of the people killed in the crash, filed the lawsuits in Bexar County. He previously told The Lead that filing in Kerr County could be complicated because both governmental agencies, which jointly own the airport, have a measure of immunity.
Toscano has his sights set on Flyin' Diesel Performance and its owner Ross Dunagan, the car driver, Progressive Insurance, NAPA Auto Parts and the fencing company that provided the barriers. Dunagan retained San Antonio attorney Henry Gonzalez III.
The following is what The Lead requested of the city on Oct. 25:
"Any and all communications between city of Kerrville and the organizers of Race Wars 2, Ross Dunagan and Flyin' Diesel Performance in regards to the city's role in Race Wars 2 event held Oct. 23, 2021 at Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. This request should include any communications between city staff, Council with the organizers of the event, along with the Airport Board. Any communications involving security, donations or expenses should be included."
When asked, the Kerr County Commissioner's Court turned over 35 pages of communications.
Candidate forum tonight
With early voting already underway, the Republican Women of Kerr County is hosting a candidate forum for the Kerr County Commissioner's Court Pct. 2 Republican primary election tonight.
This is a four-way race for the GOP nomination with Sonya Hooten, Rich Paces, Stan Kubenka and Jack Pratt. The event starts at 6 p.m. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church's Tucker Hall. The event is free to the public, and former Kerr County Judge Fred Henneke is the moderator.
Of the candidates, only Pratt hasn't given an interview with us and has been generally unresponsive to an interview request. Here are some of the critical issues we suspect will be discussed — or at least should be:
- Growth and development are the No. 1 issue facing Precinct 2 as new housing comes online. When Tom Moser vacated this seat, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly made it clear that tackling the hundreds of home projects was the reasoning behind his decision to appoint Beck Gipson to the court. On Tuesday, the court heard plans for more than 100 homes on 5-acre lots near Camp Verde.
- Water is the key to development in Precinct 2, and if developers can prove they can provide enough water, then building can proceed — that's a big if. The controversial Center Point Village project, hotly opposed by Center Point residents, said it could provide the water for its high-density project.
- Quarries remain another big issue for Precinct 2, and Moser attempted to navigate this issue previously. Last year, a town hall meeting became testy between a quarry operator and neighbors who opposed the project over dust and noise concerns. Moser, stuck in the middle, said he didn't like the quarries along the Guadalupe River, but it was also a private property issue.
- Now that the county has a clearer picture of its facility needs, the court is considering placing three propositions on the November 2022 ballot. Despite the county's conservative fiscal position, it seems there is consensus among the commissioners about the need to spend about $30 million to upgrade the courthouse complex, the animal shelter, build a new West Kerr annex and overhaul the gross and aging ag barn at the Hill Country Youth Event Center.
What are you likely to hear? Well, we suspect there could be some of the shenanigans that went on at last week's GOP forum with state-level candidates, and that's one-upping each other on who is the "most conservative" candidate. There will need to be some insertion of national politics into the forum, which shouldn't be tolerated. Ultimately, this is about Kerr County issues.
COVID-19 continues downward trend
Peterson Regional Medical Center got another bit of good news in its fight against COVID-19 — decreasing hospitalizations. The hospital reported 16 people admitted, with four in the intensive care unit. That follows a statewide trend of fewer hospitalizations and cases. One alarming statistic was delayed by two weeks, with more than 30 nursing home patients at River Hills and Waterside nursing homes testing positive for the virus. Waterside also had 17 employees test positive. The good news is no fatalities were reported.
A big get for the Kerrville Folk Festival
The Kerrville Folk Festival announced on Monday that Shawn Colvin would be performing during the 50th anniversary of the festival. No date has been set when the three-time Grammy winner will perform, but there's plenty of excitement building at the Folk Festival.