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The Lead Jan. 21, 2022: Workforce is on our mind in Kerr County

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb at KISD


Cold. It looks like we're heading toward some more unsettled weather into next week, with a chance of rain Sunday night into Monday. Hopefully, that will help settle some of that cedar fever. The cold will continue into Saturday.

Really Starbucks, it's cold?

On today's The Lead Live

Wild Birds Unlimited owner Kevin Pillow will join us to discuss what's going on with bird watching, especially with the recent spell of warm weather. We'll also ask him about the basics of building a good bird feeding. We'll also receive a visit from Ashley Phillips of the Hill Country Youth Ranch. She may or not storm in angrily. Catch up live at 9 a.m.

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News events we're covering today

Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha and Sheriff's Capt. Jason Waldrip will be the featured speakers at the Republican Women of Kerr County's luncheon on Friday at Inn of the Hills.

Waldrip, who heads the sheriff's special operations division, will update the group about the situation at the border. In recent weeks, the sheriff's office has made multiple arrests of suspected human smugglers.

Things to do TODAY!

Friday, Jan. 21

Kerrville Farmer's Market

Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library

4-6 p.m.

It will be cold, but that doesn't mean you can't get warmed up with a glass of beer, a hot pizza and a slew of goods, including produce from Bridget's Basket. Maybe the cookie lady will be there, and maybe, just maybe, the great "Willa" hot chocolate stand will be there.

Live Music by Dave Kemp

Cafe at the Ridge

6 p.m.

A gifted singer and songwriter, his original material is some of the best music you've probably never heard. No one does it better from public shows and house concerts except maybe James Taylor.

Saturday, Jan. 22

Kerrville Winter Market

Inn of the Hills Hotel and Conference Center

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Vendors will be bringing the best in clothing, jewelry, gifts, accessories, Texas handmade, gourmet food, photography, Scentsy, home decor and so much more. Admission is $6 or $5 with your non-perishable food donation to Christian Assistance Ministries of Kerrville.

The great stuffed animal sleepover

Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library

4 p.m.

Bring a stuffed animal or doll to our Great Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Enjoy a story, craft, and variety of songs. Pajamas are welcome. After the lively evening, tuck the animals and dolls into bed and say good night. Return on Monday to pick up your stuffed animal or doll and discover the fun & mischief the stuffed animals had all weekend.

Live music by Scott Rotge

Cafe at the Ridge

6 p.m.

Live music by Eley Buck Davis

Southern Sky Music Cafe

6:30 p.m.

COVID-19: Hospitalizations push past 13,000 people

Hospitalizations continued an upward trend on Thursday, with more than 13,000 people hospitalized in Texas for the first time since Sept. 12.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said admissions rose to 13,094 through Wednesday — a 24-hour delay in data collection. The number included 486 children — the third-highest total during the omicron variant surge of COVID-19.

In the DSHS San Antonio region, including Kerr County, 88% of hospital beds were in use, including more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients. San Antonio-area hospitals had 41 children hospitalized and nine remaining pediatric beds.

While Peterson Regional Medical Center does not report on Thursdays, DSHS's estimate for Kerr County was 40 new cases.

KISD continues its surge

On Wednesday afternoon, Kerrville Independent School District said it has 299 students and staff, including 68 at Tivy High School, out with COVID-19. On Thursday, Ingram Independent School District students returned to class after attendance plummeted last week to below 80%.

Some midday chaos in downtown Kerrville

Texas Department of Safety troopers said they arrested two teenagers on suspicion of a robbery Thursday afternoon at about 2 p.m. after a foot pursuit into Louise Hayes Park.

Kerrville Police Department spokesman Jonathan Lamb said the two suspects allegedly robbed a Mini Mart convenience store in the 4600 block of Junction Highway — across from Our Lady of the Hills High School. The suspects, ages 16 and 17, fled toward Kerrville in a car DPS said was reported stolen out of San Angelo. DPS spotted the suspects and began a pursuit that ended when the suspects crashed into parked cars on Earl Garrett and Water streets.

That's when things really jumped off — literally.

The suspects jumped over the railing, not realizing there were stairs near the Guadalupe River Pavilion, overlooking the river and the park. The 16-year-old injured his ankle while his counterpart made it across the river and into the park before being apprehended.

The 16-year-old suspect was taken for treatment at Peterson Regional Medical Center, and DPS took the 17-year-old to Kerr County Jail.

Improving the workforce in Kerr County

Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Bryan Daniel was the featured speaker at Schreiner University to highlight Kerr County's economic work.

Daniel said the essential work of the state commission is to fill in crucial gaps for people looking to advance in their careers. The Kerr Economic Development Corp sponsored the speech.

With the Texas economy recovering, nearly all of the jobs lost from the coronavirus pandemic, Daniel said there are peculiar trends in the employment market — like the unemployment rate (still at 5%) and those who say they're still looking for work. Daniel also described the period "as the great reassessment."

For instance, Daniel described an emerging gap between those with entry-level skills looking to move up in the workforce. With more than 800,000 jobs open in the state, including 70,000 in nursing alone, the challenge for the Workforce Commission is centered on ensuring those who want to promote will have the skills necessary to do it.

"We've got to get people moved into credentialing for these middle-skills jobs," Daniel said. "At the same time, we've got to make sure that the job that they're in, or the education that they're pursuing, is backfilled. This is the challenge. It is something that we watch and monitor."

This is also about making Texas workers competitive against an influx of out-of-state competition, especially skilled labor from California and elsewhere.

"The workforce needs a little bit more direct intervention," Daniel said. "We have people, who for whatever reason, have missed their sequence on their credentialing path. So, we've put some things in place to do that; we've made that initial investment of $19 million in this middle-skills gap to find a way to eliminate it."

Daniel's other stop was at Ingram Tom Moore High School

Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Bryan Daniel started his day by handing a $188,000 check to Ingram Tom Moore High School to ramp up their industrial and technical programs.

The Jobs and Education for Texans grant is one of the largest grants the district has received. Tom Moore Principal Justin Crittenden said his staff and students were thrilled with the presentation.

"It was spectacular for our kids," Crittenden said. "It's going to revamp that whole strand we have going down there for (agricultural) engineering."

Over the last few years, Tom Moore High has worked aggressively to improve its efforts to prepare graduates for jobs right out of high school or to have them segue directly to career-ready programs in college.

"Today was really a formalizing of a grant which we've been working on and we were able to take Chairman Daniel down to see the equipment that has started rolling in," said Ingram Assistant Superintendent Mindy Curran.

Coming Saturday

  • We'll have more from Thursday's speech by Bryan Daniel of the Texas Workforce Commission.
  • We give you the three things we learned from Delayne Sigerman's interview with Rails and Qdoba restaurant owner Melissa Southern.
  • We'll also share with you the conversation we had with Kerr County Assessor/Tax Collector Bob Reeves about the upcoming elections.

Schreiner basketball set for homestand starting tonight

The Schreiner University men's and women's basketball teams will play host to Colorado College tonight — both crucial Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference matchups. Both teams return to action on Saturday against St. Thomas in Kerrville.

The men's game tips at 5:30 p.m., and the Mountaineers are looking to extend their five-game winning streak. Schreiner beat Colorado College 87-82 in Colorado Springs on Jan. 2.

After a week off, Schreiner finds itself in the hunt for the conference lead this weekend. A pair of wins against Colorado College and SCAC-leading St. Thomas would put the Mountaineers in a good position for the conference lead, and a No. 1 seed for the SCAC tournament.

Schreiner already has a win against St. Thomas and is coming off a win against Texas Lutheran, which is one game ahead of Schreiner for second place. A sweep also means that Schreiner would get itself back to .500 on the season.

The women are coming off a 79-53 whipping by Colorado College on Monday night — a rescheduled game due to COVID-19. The Mountaineers got off to a slow start in the first and third quarters and never recovered. Schreiner shot a woeful 26% from the field compared to Colorado College's 46% night. Schreiner is 3-3 in the SCAC and 6-9 overall.

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