Good morning, Kerr County!
We are waking up this morning to another round of cold, with a dose of freezing drizzle. Charming. The cold and unsettled weather will continue through the weekend, and there's now a 70% chance of rain on Saturday.
On today's The Lead Live
Delayne Sigerman said she's braving the cold today to participate in her homeless count. Sigerman has led the annual point-in-time count to check on Kerr County's homeless population. We will chat with her on the phone at about 9:15 a.m. Programming note for Friday: Andrew Gay will fill in as host for The Lead Live, and his partner at Texas Hill Country Advisors Gilbert Paiz will join the show, with Hill Country Youth Ranch's Ashley Phillips and Kerrville Pets Alive's Karen Guerriero stopping by to give us updates on their respective organizations. Both shows start at 9 a.m.
Today's Be On The Lookout comes from Kerrville Police Department
The Kerrville Police Department said it's investigating a pair of vehicle break-ins and vehicle theft that happened Monday — all involving large pickup trucks. KPD said the suspects successfully swiped two handguns from one vehicle, and the break-ins intended to obtain firearms.
All three burglaries happened within two hours at three Kerrville locations. KPD said similar incidents occurred Monday in Boerne and San Antonio.
Kerrville Police provided this timeline:
- 4:42 p.m. — The owner of a 2019 GMC Denali pickup said as he was leaving Lowe's, he saw a man in his truck. The witness said the man exited the pickup and then got into another dark pickup, speeding away from the scene. KPD said they believe the suspect took a purse containing cash and personal items.
- 4:50 p.m. — KPD gets a report of a stolen 2021 Ford F-350 pickup truck from the parking lot at Tractor Supply, 1308 Sidney Baker. The vehicle's owner told police the pickup was locked but running, and when he exited the store, he discovered it missing. The truck was quickly tracked and found abandoned. Police said the thieves broke open a locked gun safe mounted in the center console, taking two handguns, a KelTec .380 and Smith & Wesson 9mm. Witnesses described seeing a dark pickup speeding from the scene.
- 6:35 p.m. — Police find a 2021 Dodge 3500 pickup with a smashed window at Mamacita's, 215 Junction Highway. Police said the suspects took cash, a radar detector, tools and other personal items. Surveillance video shows a dark pickup parked next to the Dodge pickup before leaving the scene.
Police said the suspect vehicle is black or dark blue 2012-2016 Ford F-250 four doored pickup with "wide tires" and black rims in each of these incidents. The truck has a sunroof, a black bumper guard, and a bed cover. Surveillance photos indicate the truck is dark blue. A witness described one of the suspects as a white male but could not describe him further.
Kerrville police are searching for a missing teen and her infant son
The Kerrville Police Department said they are searching for Ayanna Renee Williams, 16, of Kerrville, who they believe ran away from home Tuesday. Police said Williams took her two-month-old son, Colby Jamari Williams, with her. The infant is about 24-inches long, weighs about 12 pounds, has black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a grey long-sleeved onesie.
Ayanna is Black, with black hair and brown eyes, and is described as 5-foot-5, weighing about 140 pounds. She has a stud nose piercing and was wearing a long-sleeved yellow shirt and light blue jeans.
"We are very concerned for Colby's well-being and want to get both Colby and Ayanna back home where they are safe," Kerrville police said in a social media post.
Greg Abbott is cracking down, and there's a backlash
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo by Getty Images.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a letter Tuesday telling the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to enforce a state law that mandates reporting of parents or medical professionals who allow sex reassignment surgeries and puberty-blocking medications.
Abbott made it clear the DFPS must investigate "parents of children subjected to gender-transitioning procedures." Abbott's language led to a furious backlash from the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender and Queer community — along with President Biden.
However, Abbott said this was an important decision based on protecting children — a conclusion backed up by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's opinion from earlier this month about the criminality of allowing these procedures.
"The state's power is arguably at its zenith when it comes to protecting children," Paxton wrote in his Feb. 18 opinion.
Abbott's letter to DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters was the No. 1 trending news story across social media, drawing strong reactions for much of Wednesday.
See @scalzi's post on Twitter.
See @elijahwood's post on Twitter.
See @JulianCastro's post on Twitter.
While that was happening, an ERCOT controversy flared up
The Houston Chronicle reported the former Electric Reliability Council of Texas CEO Bill Magness said Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Public Utility Commission to do whatever to keep the power on during the 2021 winter storm, even if that meant driving up electricity prices.
The story was picked up by news outlets across the state and nation, and Abbott's office didn't deny it.
"As Texans would expect, Governor Abbott instructed everyone involved that they must do what was needed to keep the power on and to prevent the loss of life," a spokesperson for Abbott's reelection campaign told Axios.
Here's the Chronicle's story: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/ercot-chief-abbott-direction-power-outage-storm-16941019.php
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The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Kerr County's 11th death from COVID-19 in the month of February. Even as the virus wanes, the death toll continues to mount across the state and in Kerr County.
The latest death happened on Feb. 18 — most likely at a hospital in the San Antonio area. Peterson Regional Medical Center said it had seven people hospitalized and three in the intensive care unit.
Lost in Tuesday night's meeting
The best description of Tuesday night's Kerrville City Council meeting was one of distraction. Most of the last half of the meeting featured drama over City Councilman Roman Garcia's feud with City Attorney Mike Hayes. (Read more about that here: https://kerrcountylead.com/the-lead-feb-23-2022-garcia-draws-fire-for-move-on-kerrville-city-attorney/) What that discussion overshadowed were some pretty significant decisions made by the City Council. Here's a rundown:
Speeding on Bandera Highway: The Council voted unanimously to lower the speed limit on Texas Highway 173 from Loop 534 to just south of the entrance to Comanche Trace to 50 MPH from 55 MPH, but it was clear the majority of the Council wanted it lower. The Texas Department of Transportation's complicated highway management — one technically owned by the state, with traffic enforcement handled by the city — made the decision more complex because it was clear there seemed to be a consensus among the councilmembers to lower the speed limit.
The neighbors aren't happy: Councilwoman Brenda Hughes brought the speeding situation to the City Council, because 36 driveways dot the roadway between the Loop 534 ridge to just beyond the Comanche Trace entrance. One of the speakers, former Kerr County Judge Fred Henneke, said he's lived along the stretch in question for 17 years, has watched the traffic grow exponentially and was the victim in a 55 MPH rear-ending that left him in the hospital.
City employees to get raises, tax collections rise: The City Council unanimously approved 5% cost of living raises for city employees. The raises will cost the city about $1 million, but better-than-expected revenues cover that expense.
When it comes to better-than-expected revenues, Kerrville's hotel occupancy tax continues to soar — it's 18% above what city staff budgeted and 15% above the previous fiscal year. Through the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city has incurred less expense than budgeted.
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