Good morning, Kerr County!
Be prepared to dress for early summer today, but keep that jacket handy. The weather is all over the map this week. Today's high is 82, but we're expecting cool and rainy Wednesday and Thursday, with a 30-40% chance of rain into Thursday. After Thursday, we can expect more mixed weather as we head into the weekend.
On today's The Lead Live: More music, public safety and more!
Well, singer-songwriter Landon Lloyd Miller couldn't join us on Monday because he had a plumbing issue. He was very apologetic, and we just told him that if we had to choose between him and getting our toilet fixed, we choose the plumber — EVERY TIME. So, he's on the show today. Also joining us will be Steve Schulte and Stacey Loperati from Arcadia Live to discuss their upcoming shows. We'll also have a visit from Amber Thomason to discuss the campaign for the public safety building in Kerrville.
Things to do today
Howard Payne University at Schreiner University
Schreiner University is off to a 2-1 start and a nine-day layoff. The Mountaineers have a prolific offense, outscoring Stevenson University 34-26 in a three-game series.
Kerr Arts and Cultural Center
Three art exhibits with the paintings by Elaine Capers and Daneshu Clarke, "Kerrville Art Club Judged Show" members of the Kerrville Art Club show their best work in this judged exhibit, "GAGA Group Show" An insiders look at 16 GAGA member artists who have participated in past A Look Inside digital exhibitions.
Works from the Permanent Collection
Museum of Western Art
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
MOWA displays some of its finest works from the Permanent Collection featuring "The Color of Horses," by Darol Dickinson and "Painter of Light" by G. Harvey.
Form and Function
Hill Country Arts Foundation
They feature pottery and ceramics by artisans from across Texas.
The Kerrville City Council meets tonight
In what could be another fascinating meeting, the Kerrville City Council will meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall. There is a 4 p.m. workshop before the main event. What can we expect tonight? Here's a look:
- We won't get a chance to see it, but Councilman Roman Garcia asked for an executive session discussion about City Attorney Mike Hayes. The topic of conversation remains unclear, but we suspect it may be about Hayes' consistent defense of the city's decision not to hold its municipal election in November — as Garcia and gadfly George Baroody insist the city must do. Comments from our Facebook audience are that this isn't the first time someone has tried to oust Hayes from the city government.
- The Texas Department of Transportation wants to lower the speed limit along Bandera Highway or Texas Highway 173 at the Loop 534 intersection to near the entrance of Commanche Trace — approximately 1.5 miles — to 50 MPH. Speeding in this zone could lead to a $200 fine.
- The City Council will likely approve a mid-year budget amendment that would give 5% cost of living adjustments to all city employees. The budget amendment will boost pay for employees in hard-to-fill jobs, including the city's paramedics. The total expense is about $750,000. Better-than-expected tax revenues have buoyed the city budget.
Speaking of Mike Hayes
Kerrville United writer Aaron Yates shared a video from 2017 of a previous attempt to remove Mike Hayes as city attorney, one that garnered swift backlash. The move came when Bonnie White was mayor, with a council including George Baroody and Vince Voelkel, who is now running for mayor. Here's the video:
In 2019, the voters approved a charter amendment that changed the way the city attorney could be terminated. In that amendment, a four-fifths of the Council must approve of a termination.
Robert Earl Keen's auction
This weekend, singer-songwriter-guitarist and Hill Country booster Robert Earl Keen will perform for the final time at the Cailloux Theater in Kerrville — a concert that benefits the Hill Country Youth Orchestra. However, Keen has raised the event's stakes by offering three exceptional items designed to drive the money raised for the HCYO through the roof. That's right; Keen is auctioning off a 1982 Rolls Royce, a guided hunted trip and one of Keen's signature guitars. If the bidding were to end today, Keen's auction would fetch more than $72,000 — including the $51,000 for the Rolls. Saturday night's show is sold out, but this will help get the orchestra's $250,000 he wants to provide.
To bid, click here: https://www.robertearlkeen.com/auction?fbclid=IwAR0o5Fg8WK5CKZfVtVq5cO0Ed85At53RVTlHDymM_VVmEvUH2dGdDq6FP00
Shooting suspects arrested
With support from several law enforcement agencies, the Kerr County Sheriff's Office arrested two men involved in a shooting incident in the early morning hour of Feb. 17.
The Sheriff's Office said it arrested Andre Deshawn Parker, 22, of Kerrville, after an altercation involving two women. Deputies said Parker pistol-whipped one of the women with a 9-mm handgun, which discharged during the incident in the 100 block of Loyal Valley Drive. The two women fled, apparently to seek reinforcements. When they returned, deputies said, they brought Vidal Lopez Ramirez, 44, of Kerrville, and a shootout ensued between Ramirez and Parker. Kerrville Police Department arrested Vidal Ramirez after a traffic stop, with assistance from deputies. Parker was arrested in Gillespie County by Kerr County CID, SOD, DPS Narcotics, Texas Ranger Division and the Fredericksburg Police Department. Both men were booked into the Kerr County Jail on one count of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. The bond is $100,000 for both men.
"Taking the law into your own hands puts innocent people in danger, and can escalate into violent situations," said Sheriff Larry Leitha. "We are glad to have both suspects off the street, given the violence of this case and complete disregard for the safety of others. It's best to call law enforcement to intervene before taking action to investigate crimes or confront possible perpetrators. With four rounds fired in proximity, it's amazing that no one was injured."
Something to look forward to for rural property owners
Century 21 The Hills Realty is planning a major conference for ranch and farm owners on April 2 at Schreiner University. John Sawyer, who is leading the effort, said the one-day event would have speakers discussing some of the most significant issues facing ranchers and farmers, including water rights and eminent domain.
Peterson Regional Medical Center said Monday it had seven people hospitalized with COVID-19 — a dramatic downward turn after weeks of double-digit admissions. There were no new deaths reported, and it appears that omicron has made a rapid retreat out of Texas after infecting more than two million people.
Election order drawing on Friday
Kerrville City Secretary Shelley McElhannon said the ballot order drawing for the May 7 Kerrville municipal election is at 10 a.m. Friday at Kerrville City Hall,701 Main St. The candidates are:
- Mayor: L. Brent Bates, Judy Eychner, and Vincent Voelkel.
- Place 3: Katy Chapman-Hanna, RN, BSN and Joe Herring, Jr.
- Place 4: Brenda Hughes and Robin Monroe.
Tell us what you think!
The Lead is surveying public sentiment around the proposed public safety complex building — expected to cost $45 million. The voters will decide a general obligation bond to pay for the 69,000 square foot building on May 7.
Do you support raising your property taxes to pay for a new Kerrville Public Safety Building?
Fiscal conservatives? Maybe not
Historically, when we think of conservatives, we think of social and fiscal conservatism, including drowning government like anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist once quipped.
However, can you be a true fiscal conservative while managing a local government entity? The question has come up repeatedly here in Kerr County as the city, county and state governments work through growth and development.
The most readily available example is the position the Kerr County's Commissioners Court will likely take to raise property taxes to fund major infrastructure projects. The court, of course, is a 5-0 Republican supermajority. However, even with their conservative credentials, the commissioners have argued the facilities are desperately needed. The court could ask voters to approve three general obligation bonds totaling nearly $30 million to help pay courthouse improvements, a new annex building in West Kerr County, a new animal shelter and improvements to the Hill Country Youth Event Center.
While party affiliation is not a factor in how the Kerrville City Council is selected, it's a good bet that four-of-the-five members are Republicans. Even with that conservative majority, the City Council asks voters to approve a $45 million bond to pay for a building to house the police department, fire administration and the municipal court.
However, a discussion on the county budget and property taxes caught our attention. First off, a forum hosted by the Republican Women of Kerr County with state senate candidates Lamar Lewis, Paul Reyes Jr. and Pete Flores included a question about abolishing property taxes.
Interestingly, none of the candidates fully answered the question but used the time to speak in generalities and generally deflected from answering. It makes sense because none of them had a real solution. Reyes referenced a consumption tax, but that was about it. There was plenty of blame on the state legislature for spending, which forced local governments to spend for needs — thus driving up property taxes.
Texas is one of the 10 most expensive property tax states, and it doesn't look like that will end anytime soon. The lowest is Hawaii, with about a .28% tax rate. Of course, Hawaii has other ways to get you to pay, including an income tax. Interestingly, property taxes are inherently local, and the biggest tax collector in Kerr County is the Kerrville Independent School District.
The messaging from the Republican Party of Texas is pretty simple:
- Fully remove the property tax.
- The Legislature will choose the method to replace that funding but it must be approved by the voters.
- This other method cannot be an income tax.
As you can tell, there's no proposal for a real solution — just bullet points. One state representative wrote a bill to enact a consumption tax, but it's sitting in the Legislature.
So, how would a consumption tax work? Well, no one knows for sure, but here's what Rep. James White's bill says: "On the effective date of this article, a political subdivision may begin imposing the local value added tax at a rate not to exceed the rate at which the political subdivision imposed a sales and use tax immediately before the effective date of this article."
Confused? That's part of the problem; you may be replacing one big problem with one even more problematic. Consumption taxes are something the Founding Father's considered, in particular Alexander Hamilton, and are in effect in some European countries, Canada and Australia.
There are real concerns that it might be an unfair tax on the elderly and poor.
When it comes to local government spending, a forum of Kerr County Commissioner's Court candidates contemplated the question of the county budget and if there could be ways to trim it. Sonya Hooten, Rich Paces and Stan Kubenka are running for the Precinct 2 seat. Here are snippets of how they answered a question about cutting the budget without cutting essential services.
Hooten: "I can tell you with inflation, some departments are having problems. I know that road and bridge is having trouble getting materials. That material is more than doubled since last year. Of course, the budget was made and adopted in August. So, not all of that was planned for. It is becoming a struggle to stay within (that). How can we reduce it? I would have to take a look at that, because of inflation, rising interest rates and that kind of thing before I could say we could even reduce in some areas."
Paces: "There's rising inflation and it will be difficult to reduce the budget. We also have rising revenues. We are growing. There are new taxpayers. That is at least the positive side of growth. So, our tax base goes up. It will be difficult, it's never impossible. You know it's going to take sitting down with department heads, and other key people in each department to really analyze the budget and find areas of reduced efficiency or redundancy to see if we can eliminate it. The recent tender for road materials showed a 25% increase in material price. So, there are challenges. We see that in everything we do. I'm sure all of you are feeling the pinch of inflation. The government is no different. So, it's a challenge and I feel I'm up to it. It's going to take a lot of work. It may not be a huge substantial reduction in the first year."
Kubenka: "I appreciate this question a lot because I think this is a potential storm coming our way. You have rising property values and you have inflation, which is not going away. Inflation is challenging the budgets. I think the fiscal year 2023-2024 will be a year that all citizens will reflect upon very seriously. I do not think the budget, which I have seen, has a lot of fat in it. If anything there might be some shortages on wages. We all know about wages and getting people to work. They're struggling to support a household."
As you can tell, there's no direct answer in any of them — Hooten and Kubenka intimate the most that cutting the budget might be challenging. And Kubenka said the one part out loud — there may be shortages.
That's a pretty remarkable admission from a group of conservative Republicans who want to continue their hold on power — that the budget may not be big enough. However, it also illustrates that even the most conservative members might find commonality with moderates in providing basic essential services without cutting too deeply from the budget.
Fiscal conservatives? Hardly? A hint of pragmatism? Sort of. The real challenge these politicians will find is sound-bite campaigns are a fundamentally different task than running a campaign.
Schreiner men, women head to conference basketball tournament
The Schreiner University men's basketball team was seeded third in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. At the same time, the women earned a No. 4 seed. The tournament is held at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
The men will play Southwestern in a 2 p.m. play-in game against Southwestern, which Schreiner has beaten twice. The winner will play No. 2-seeded Trinity, which has beaten Schreiner twice. The No. 1 seed is St. Thomas, who will play the Texas Lutheran and Centenary winner. The championship finals are Sunday.
The women play No. 6 seeded Austin College — a team, the Mountaineers, split with this season. The last time Schreiner played Austin was on Feb. 5, resulting in one of the Mountaineers' most impressive wins of the season — 92-68. The game is at 5 p.m. on Friday.
The winner, however, draws No. 1 ranked and 23-2 Trinity College, which is ranked No. 1 for a seventh consecutive season. Schreiner is 0-2 against the Tigers.
On the line for both teams is an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament next month — if they win the SCAC tournament.
Planning for the rest of the week
Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022
Read to a Therapy Dog
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library
Information: To register, please call the library reference desk at (830) 258-1274.
Reading to a therapy dog has been shown to increase children’s confidence in reading by providing kids a relaxing and calm environment to practice their skills. The Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library is excited to partner with Graham Bishop and his canine partner, Victoria, to provide this opportunity at the library.
Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022
Kerr County Produce Market Day
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Kerr County Produce Market Day (The Big Red Barn). Local Hill Country wholesale warehouse distributor for the finest fruits and vegetables. Open to the public.
Friends of the Library used book sale
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library
Cailloux Theater, Kerrville
According to Dr. Eugene Dowdy, Conductor, this concert features the exhilarating sound of the lesser-known string instrument, the viola. “York Bowen composed an exhilarating concerto for the viola, which Curtis-trained San Antonio violist Julian Tello Jr will perform,” Dowdy said. “That’s only part of the beauty you will discover in this concert program—we hope to see you there!” The concert will open with American composer Florence Price’s Concert Overture No. 2, containing music inspired by three Spirituals. Price was the first African-American woman to have an orchestral work played by a major American orchestra. The program also includes Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 in G Major.
Live music by Brent Ryan
Southern Sky Music Cafe, Ingram
Trivia Night at The Boat
The Boat Oyster Bar and Grill, Kerrville
Come and join us for our first Trivia Night @ The Boat. Prizes and drink specials, and Schreiner Alumni "Professor Sparky" to host. Bring your team.
Bar Night at Arcadia Live
Arcadia Live, Kerrville
Friday, Feb. 25, 2022
Kerrville Farmers Market
Friday 4 – 6 PM
A.C. Schreiner House
Live music by Tim Porter and Gary Hatch
Cafe at the Ridge, Kerrville
Bexar Regional Dog Show
Hill Country Youth Event Center
Times TBD, runs through Sunday.
Dogs run and jump as their handlers direct them through an obstacle course. Competitors of all levels. This is a free event and open to the public.
Kerrville Schreiner Park
A showing of the 1995 version of Jumanji
Come enjoy a brand new and unique drive-in experience in Kerrville, Texas. The Kerrville Parks and Recreation Department is putting on "Park & Watch: Drive-In Movies" at Kerrville-Schreiner Park. If you pre-register, tickets are $15 a carload. You can purchase tickets online or over the phone by calling the Parks Office at (830) 258-7300. Tickets at the gate will be $20 a carload. Pre-registration is highly encouraged.
Print your receipt/ticket before arrival. Proof of purchase required. Entry may be refused if you do not have your receipt. For safety precautions, carloads must not exceed the number of seat belts available in the vehicle. All tickets are considered general admission and spots will not be assigned prior to admission. CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS
Live music by Voodoo Lengua
Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University
Schreiner University Student Activities Board presents the Trailhead Live Performance Series, welcoming back VOODOO LENGUA to the Trailhead Outdoor Stage. Come rock out to a unique Hill Country Band. Food Court: Burger 830