We are ready for another big day here at The Lead — just a ton going on. Of course, Kerr County Precinct 4 Commissioner Don Harris hit the nail on the head Monday when he said, "it's dry out there." We have to admit the concern is real — dry weather makes us nervous. However, there is a chance of rain later this week.
ON THE LEAD LIVE TODAY
We begin our conversations with candidates for the Kerr County Commissioner's Court Precinct 2. Today, Stan Kubneka will join us to discuss his candidacy. The show starts at 9 a.m. Kubneka is a longtime businessman, and he also served as president of the Upper Guadalupe River Authority board. Kubneka is one of five candidates running for the court. All five will compete in the Republican primary in March and possibly face a run-off. On Wednesday, we will chat with Rich Paces, and on Friday, Sonya Hooten will join us. We're still waiting to confirm appearances from John Sheffield and Jack Pratt.
COVID-19 IS COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL
On Monday, Peterson Health reported the most significant weekend case counts during the pandemic, with 142 people testing positive. With a 29% positivity rate, Kerr County is actually doing better than the rest of the state. However, there are probably several factors, including our rural community, leading to a lower positivity rate. It could also indicate we're in for a more extended outbreak.
Kerr County's vaccination rate is stuck at 48% — that's fully vaccinated (at least two shots). However, omicron has proven adept at breaking through vaccinations, and Peterson no longer shares the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated people testing positive.
Over the last five days, Peterson has reported 300 COVID-19 cases, and this time last year, it was about 257 — as the second wave began to wane here. The virus tapered off in the following first few weeks of 2021, but this year the virus is on the upward swing — with no end in sight.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT'S TAKE ON COVID-19
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been pretty much silent on the state of COVID-19 here. His tweeting is reserved for border security, blaming President Joe Biden for stuff and his re-election.
Abbott's silence comes as hospitalizations soar across the state, with 10,417 people admitted. There are 2,000 people in intensive care. Hospitalizations are rising by about 5% per day — or more. The only good news from this surge is that pediatric outlook improved from the weekend, with a slight decrease in admissions — from a record 400 to 389 on Sunday.
WHY COVID DENIAL IS A THING
There are plenty of people who deny that COVID-19 is a thing, but a speaker at the Kerr County Commissioners Court introduced us to a new concept — Germ Theory is not real.
We were happily unaware of this theory — until Monday. Speaker Alicia Bell told the commissioners to give back federal American Recovery Plan Act funds, but she introduced some new ideas:
"This is more than just ARPA funds," Bell told the commissioners. "This is enslaving people. "There is no virus. This is about injecting people with something that can kill them. Are you ready to stand before God and say yes as something you should be doing. You need to be sending this money back. There is no virus. If the germ theory was true there would be nobody alive to discover it. If you've ever had pets and all the germs you've been exposed to your whole life why are you still here? You're going to allow people to be enslaved and forcibly injected is that where you want to stand before God."
In the world of microbiology, this is similar to flat-earthers arguing with those who understand the basics of a giant sphere orbiting the sun. There's a Facebook community dedicated to the belief in "Terrain Theory," one first posited by French scientist Antoine Béchamp, a rival of Louis Pasteur. In theory, germs don't cause disease but are a product of the internal body environment. Look, it's a deep hole to go down, but it's what's out there.
And, oh, by the way, birds aren't real. Seriously, look it up.
SPEAKING OF THE COMMISSIONERS COURT
After Bell's comments, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly made a plea to the audience to take care of themselves in the face of COVID-19 surging across the county.
ONE MORE COMMISSIONER'S COURT NOTE
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jonathan Letz said the Kerr County Livestock Show auction brought in an estimated $1.1 million for the students who have worked to show those animals — pigs, goats, steer and heifers. Considering this was an all-Kerr County affair this year, the tally was impressive and a good deal for the hardworking students of the county's Future Farmer's of America and 4H programs.
THE MEETING OF MEETINGS
The Kerrville City Council meeting features 13 public hearings or ordinance readings tonight. Some major items are on the agenda, but one of the most significant discussions happens during the 5 p.m. workshop.
The City Council will hear a report from John Harrison, who chaired the city's public safety facility committee, about the city's needs for the new building to house the police department, fire administration, municipal court and information technology department. The ask is $45 million for a nearly 70,000-square foot building.
When the meeting resumes at 6 p.m. the City Council will consider the following:
- Approving a $1.6 million Economic Improvement Corp. grant to help Peterson Health expand, including a new parking lot at the end of Lehmann Drive. It's part of a broader annexation plan and expansion at Peterson Regional Medical Center.
- Revising the city's parkland ordinance allows developers to pay a fee for parkland rather than providing acreage for small parks. The parks and recreation department wants to spend the money on existing parks rather than maintaining smaller parks.
- An annexation of 16 acres along Coronado Drive in north Kerrville could clear the way for 44 single-family homes, but it faces opposition from neighbors. The proposal also split the planning and zoning commission, which agreed with the annexation but only if it was zoned residential estates.
The meeting also marks a return to social distancing, and those interested in attending are encouraged to watch online and participate in Zoom video conferencing.
BACK IN ACTION TONIGHT
Schreiner University's men's and women's basketball teams host Texas Lutheran tonight in a double-header. The men start at 6 p.m., while the women should tip at 8 p.m. or later.
Both teams are riding winning streaks — the men have won four straight, while the women have won their last two. However, both teams lost to Texas Lutheran in Seguin on Dec. 7.
Men's coach Marwan Elrakabawy said his team will need to improve their rebounding against Texas Lutheran. The Bulldogs outrebounded Schreiner 36-35, but Texas Lutheran dominated the offensive board 16-8. Those second-chance efforts helped doom Schreiner in a 65-62 loss.
For the women's team, the Mountaineers fell behind in the first half and never recovered in a 75-63 loss.
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