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The Lead Feb. 2, 2022: The weather is going to be atrocious; a brave announcement from a radio host

JAM Radio's Mikaela Taylor says she's making the transition to a woman during a podcast. Joe Herring Jr.'s bid for the City Council makes things interesting in Kerrville.

Good morning, Kerr County!

Cold and colder. That’s the forecast for the week! However, the race for Kerrville City Council is heating up — red hot. More on that later. First, the weather.

Yes, the weather. We’re not excited about the National Weather Service’s increasing “confidence” that Thursday’s winter storm will bring even colder temperatures than initially forecast. Thursday’s could hit 30, with a low of 13. But what’s concerning is the forecast of freezing rain. As the storm looms, the political machinations are already underway, with all sides targeting Gov. Greg Abbott’s comments about the stability of the power grid.

See @GregAbbott_TX's post on Twitter.

Abbott didn't help himself when he said: “No one can guarantee there won’t be [power outages]." Of course, The Texas Tribune and other media outlets noted that Abbott said previously that the power would stay on.

Before Abbott held a press conference, The Texas Tribune reported that the Energy Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the power grid, told utilities that natural gas shipments could be delayed due to freezing temperatures. In a Jan. 21 report, ERCOT said its inspections found that most of the winterization work that needed to be done in the wake of last year's storm was completed.

Both Don Huffines, who is running in the Republican primary, and Beto O’Rourke, the leading Democrat gubernatorial candidate, attacked Abbott ahead of the storm.

See @DonHuffines's post on Twitter.

See @BetoORourke's post on Twitter.

Despite the political recriminations, the storm should be a 24-hour affair — not a prolonged nightmare like February 2021. The situation is fluid, and by Tuesday night, there was a winter storm warning for Junction and other western edges of the Hill Country. As of Tuesday, a winter storm watch remained in effect for Kerr County.

In anticipation of the storm, First United Methodist Church, 321 Thompson Dr., will open its gymnasium to anyone seeking warmth from 8 am. until dark on Thursday and Friday.

On today's The Lead Live

Jennyth Peterson will be our first guest today. She helped lead the opposition to a proposed annexation to a 16-acre parcel in northwest Kerrville. While the City Council has voted 3-2 on two readings of the annexation and zoning plan, the issue is far from over. We will also get a visit from glassblower Mark Haller, who will demonstrate his craft at this weekend's Renaissance Fair in Kerrville.

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COVID-19 menace continues

The omicron variant of COVID-19 continues its weary march across Texas, with more than 35,000 people testing positive. The Texas Department of State Health Services estimated the number of new cases in Kerr County was 74 on Tuesday. There seems to be no agreement on how DSHS and Peterson Health count cases.

Hospitalizations leveled off with more than 12,100 people admitted.

The number of fatalities continued to climb across the state, and more than 2,700 people have died from the virus since Jan. 1. That toll will continue to climb in the coming days.

A brave moment for Kerrville radio personality

For years, Mikaela Taylor struggled with an identity she knew was not authentic. It led to years of drug and alcohol abuse, battles with depression and anxiety and a loss of self. Even as she led a life as a man, Mike Taylor, on Kerrville radio station Mike-FM, formally announced her true self on Tuesday.

During her podcast, which she co-hosts with John Barrera, Taylor said she’d known her true sexual identity since she was a teenager but was afraid to admit it to anyone.

“I was ashamed of it because I was afraid of the repercussions,” Taylor told John Barrera, who hosted the podcast episode.

Taylor, who is married with five children, told his family in December about her decision to begin the hormonal process of becoming a woman. The confession was her greatest fear.

“That was my biggest fear was losing my wife and kids,” Taylor said. “My wife saw what I was going through. She saw the depression and the anxiety.”

Taylor, 38, is one of the more recognizable figures in local media, not only hosting a morning radio show but the founder of the popular Kerrville Breaking News page on Facebook. Taylor said her lighthearted role as a morning radio host led some people to believe she was joking when she changed her name to Mikaela.

“I’ve probably lost some Facebook friends over this,” said Taylor, adding that didn’t matter because she had the support of her friends and family.

Even in a conservative community, Taylor said she already feels supported and believes there is strength in Kerr County’s LGBTQ community. What turned out to be the most challenging conversation was with his parents, and then she followed that with a discussion with JAM Broadcasting owners Leslee and Justin McClure.

While Taylor said his parents didn’t fully understand her decision, he felt entirely supported by them and the McClures.

“I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt JAM Broadcasting,” Taylor said. “They said you’re family.”

Taylor said Tuesday’s emotionally-driven podcast was terrifying but uplifting.

“I would say over 100 times a day; I would get derailed by this,” Taylor said. “It’s not something there is a cure for. It’s not something that you can take a drug to cure. After all of the research, I came down to embrace who you are. We’re all unique. Once I accepted that and accepted who I’m, and the thought of transitioning and coming out was easier. Before, I was living in hell personally.”

A big announcement in the Kerrville City Council race

Now that Joe Herring Jr. said he’s seeking the Place 3 seat on the Kerrville City Council, it will be interesting to see if there will be a challenger in that race. Herring Jr. served as Kerrville’s mayor from 1992 to 1994 — the youngest ever elected to the position — and his name recognition makes him a formidable opponent.

As we noted Tuesday, the 2020 election had one underlying factor for the winner — longevity in Kerrville. In that election, Bill Blackburn, Judy Eychner and Brenda Hughes could all boast more than 20 years of residency in Kerrville — and the results were broad in their favor on election night. All three have outsized community presence, but none to the scope of Herring, who has published books about Kerr County history and has written a popular weekly column in The Daily Times for years. Herring is also a Tivy High grad and owns a print shop with his sister.

While the Daily Times’ circulation is waning, Herring’s reach in the Saturday newspaper is still formidable. In a year where political parties are wading into nonpartisan local races, trying to paint Herring as anything but an enthusiastic booster for Kerrville will be challenging.

However, this is also 2022, where facts, reason and sanity don’t necessarily matter.

Speaking of stormy matters

Now that the winter storm is bearing down on us — again — here come the Ted Cruz memes. Of course, last year, Sen. Ted Cruz fled to Mexico with his family to escape the massive winter storm that knocked out power and water to millions — also leading to the deaths of hundreds of Texans. So, Twitter was on fire with Cruz memes popping up throughout the day.

See @plcolter's post on Twitter.

Winter Storm casualty — the Kerrville Farmers Market

The Kerrville Farmers Market has canceled Friday’s event due to the expected frigid temperatures. Stay with us as we update other closures that might happen Thursday and Friday.

When it comes to LGBTQ issues in Kerrville

Earlier, you may have read Mikaela Taylor discussing how she feels supported in Kerrville in her transition, and her optimism lifts us. However, one of the foulest experiences I’ve ever had is when we featured a lesbian couple on the front page of The Daily Times and a threatening phone call from a used car dealer who said they would never advertise again. Now, the couple was dealing with a partner’s cancer diagnosis, but that didn’t matter to our irate reader. My reaction when he said he was canceling was simple: “Good.”

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