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The Lead Jan 31, 2022: COVID-19 claims 2 more Kerr County lives

While COVID-19 continued to be a problem, that didn't stop thousands from attending the Rennaissance Festival

Good morning, Kerr County!

There’s an allegation of rain this week — we’re not holding our breath. The National Weather Service says we may have some rain today and then again on Wednesday. However, the big story is that this thing could be icy. We're talking about the wintry mix junk — yeah.

On today’s The Lead Live

Brady Lehmann will join us to discuss the Kerrville Junior Service Guild’s upcoming 5-kilometer run to raise money for scholarships. The race is March 12 race is a Louise Hays Park. The Kerrville Junior Service Guild is a women’s volunteer organization. This will be a full week on The Lead Live with guests coming throughout the week, including Steve Schulte and Stacie Leporati on Tuesday to discuss February events at Arcadia Live.

Also tonight on The Lead — the Texas Hill Country Advisors

Join Andrew Gay and Gilbert Paiz of Texas Hill Country Advisors as they discuss the latest in financial planning. The show starts at 6 p.m.

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COVID-19 deaths continue rise in January

The Texas Department of State Health Services raised Kerr County’s COVID-19 death toll by five people over the weekend, and the count is likely to rise in the coming days. On Saturday, DSHS reported three deaths and then, on Sunday, added two more. Last week, people died from COVID-19 Sunday through Thursday. At least 16 people have died from the virus in January — making it the fifth deadliest month for the virus in Kerr County.

If there was a harbinger of good news Sunday, it was that hospitalizations continued to fall statewide — down to 12,300 people admitted. In the San Antonio region, including Kerr County, the hospitalizations rose to more than 1,200. Intensive care unit beds continued to be limited.

We are moving into election season — again

With the entrance of former Kerrville City Councilman Vincent Voelkel into the race for mayor, we will have at least one contested race for the City Council. Voelkel, who served one term from 2017-2019, was declared a candidate Friday. Voelkel will face off against Judy Eychner, currently the Place 3 City Councilwoman, but there’s still time for others to file to run. Candidates have until Feb. 18 to return their paperwork to City Secretary Shelley McElhannon.

Place 4 City Councilwoman Brenda Hughes is currently unopposed, and no one has filed to run for Place 3.

For the politically active, the Republican Women of Kerr County will host a forum for the state House of Representatives and the Senate Republican candidates at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Y. O. Ranch Hotel and Conference Center. In House District 53, incumbent Andrew Murr faces off against hard-right challenger Wesley Virdell, who has gained the backing of “patriot” groups and has been present at various Kerr County political functions. Murr’s last primary challenge came in 2014 when he was first running for election.

Virdell, who is from Brady, said he decided to run after what he described as Murr’s silence on mask mandates and weakening of voter fraud laws. Murr, however, is the author of the House version of voting law changes enacted by the state in 2021.

In Senate District 24, there are three Republican contenders — Pete Flores of Austin, Lamar Lewis of Temple and Paul Reyes of Castroville.

Flores is a former state senator, who represented the 19th district.

  • Reyes lost a narrow primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives to replace Will Hurd. That race drew the attention of former President Donald Trump, who backed Reyes’ opponent Tony Gonzales, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who backed Reyes.
  • Lewis is a former teacher and coach who is running on many of the same principles as Reyes and Flores.
  • District 24 became open through redistricting, which would have forced incumbent Dawn Buckingham into the district. Buckingham decided to vacate the seat and run for Texas Land Commissioner.

As a reminder about other political races

Early voting is less than two weeks away for the Republican and Democratic primaries. Voting starts on Feb. 14 at the Hill Country Youth Event Center. For those of you interested in learning more about the candidates for Precinct 2 of the Kerr County Commissioner’s Court here are the links to interviews with three of the four candidates:

As a matter of record, we’ve reached out to Jack Pratt on three occasions via email and have heard nothing.

We suspect the Renaissance Faire was huge — really huge

From where King Edwin was sitting on Saturday, the view of his kingdom was thrilling — it was crawling with people. The kindly yet firm king speculated this might be the best day in the short history of Kerrville’s Renaissance Faire.

“It’s hard to tell, and we won’t know until the end of the day,” said Edwin, whose real-world name is Graham Warwick of Alamo Springs. “I’d think this is going to be one of the best days.”

On Saturday, the surest sign of success was something that fair-goers probably didn’t want to see — long lines. Everywhere you looked, there were lines for food and drink. The entertainment drew throngs of people. The bird of prey show attracted hundreds of spectators who cheered heartily for the birds.

For many, it was a chance to just escape for the day. After a chilly morning, the day warmed up and proved a picturesque Hill Country winter afternoon. Thanks to COVID-19, renaissance fairies across the country had to close or winnow down their participants, but on Saturday, people from all over Texas arrived in Kerrville.

When it comes to hair, Leah Fox was the winner on Saturday.

“It’s an awesome day,” said Leah Fox and Luke Taylor of San Antonio. The couple had attended the Houston Renaissance Faire but didn’t dress up. COVID wiped out Halloween, but they pulled out all of the stops for Kerrville — Fox wore a shocking pink wig that may have been one of the day’s big hits.

Taylor joked they had been to Kerrville once before because it was the only place where they could find COVID-19 vaccines in vast supply. However, the real purpose of the day was to dress up and enjoy the scene.

“We had to dress up,” Fox said.

And they weren’t the only ones. While it’s a renaissance event, there is a broad interpretation of the timeline and themes. For instance, there’s a significant presence of Vikings at the fair — the Vikings were primarily dominant through the 11th century. There’s plenty of fantasy attached to the event with elves, ogres and an occasional werewolf. There was a cohort of French musketeers, a group more closely associated with the 17th century.

“When you do this, you want to go out and wear it,” said Fort Worth’s Thomas “De Portenau,” who would only give his “faire name” and who was decked out in his finest musketeer attire while hanging out with good King Edwin.

The diversity of dress, food and vendors seemed to add to the fun.

For Carolyn Noack, she took advantage of the weather to visit Kerrville from San Antonio. She was also getting her hair braided by Jazzmine Little, who came down from Plantersville to perform her trade.

“I’m living the dream,” Little said as she braided Noack’s hair. “It was so frigid this morning, but it is so beautiful now.”

Vendors offered metalwork, plants, costumes, herbal remedies, henna tattoos and tarot card readings — something for everyone.

Planners got to plan

The Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission will meet on Thursday, and they will listen to proposals on two major projects, including a new parking lot for Peterson Regional Medical Center. The commission meets at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Now, a parking lot doesn’t sound exciting, but its scope is large enough that it has drawn the attention of neighbors in the unincorporated area behind the hospital. The hospital plans to extend Lehmann Drive into the new parking lot behind the medical center. The new parking lot is the first phase of Peterson’s planned construction of a new $43 million surgery center in the northwest corner of the hospital’s existing parking lot.

However, Peterson needs to create a T-intersection at Lehmann Drive and Rim Rock Road to build the new parking lot. Currently, Rim Rock Road curves into Lehmann Drive. Peterson plans for the new parking lot, located just west of Rim Rock, to serve as its primary lot for employees.

The other big project is a plat approval for a 697-acre parcel for large estates between Spur 100 and Cypress Creek Road. While the project won’t connect the two roadways, the large estates will be accessible through Spur 100. There are approximately 25 large lots proposed — most more than 20 acres.

Keeping your food safe

One of the jobs of the city of Kerrville is to keep restaurants compliant. In 2022, the Division had 16 complaints about food quality or conditions, five of which had issues. The department graded 10 establishments with B-grades, but two were homes for the elderly. In April, the department issued a B-grade to Waterside Nursing and Rehabilitation and gave a B-grade to River Point in July.

The battle over Spotify intensifies — and Texas is at the forefront

For those of you who subscribe to Spotify, you may have heard of the battle between Neil Young and the online music service about podcaster Joe Rogan’s COVID-19 content — mostly about the efficacy of vaccines. Young told the service either they could choose him or Rogan — the Austin-based podcaster that Spotify pays to produce content.

Young was soon joined by other musicians and podcasters, including Texas’ Willie Nelson and Brene Brown. On Sunday, the music service issued a statement that it would enforce rules regarding COVID-19 misinformation. Young’s complaint came on the heels of hundreds of physicians and researchers signing a letter to Spotify to label Rogan’s content as “misinformation.”

“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19,” Spotify CEO Daniel Elk wrote. “This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”

Schreiner University basketball sweep past Centenary

Schreiner (men) 90, Centenary 74

At Shreveport, La., Kamden Ross and Jalen Ned scored 17 points each to lead the visiting Mountaineers to an impressive 90-74 victory over Centenary — completing a two-game road sweep in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play.

The Mountaineers are now 10-10 overall and 8-3 in the SCAC. Schreiner is one game back in the conference standings and still in the hunt for a share of the title with St. Thomas and Trinity.

Against Centenary, Schreiner turned in a stellar first-half performance, with senior guard Alex Dehoyos scoring 11 of his 13 points in the half. Kamden Ross scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Ross has double-doubles in four of his last five games and has 10 rebounds or more in five consecutive games. Ross also played the entire 40 minutes.

Schreiner (women) 78, Centenary 68

Schreiner’s Gabby Ivarra scored a team-high 16 points and the Mountaineers got 11 points each off the bench from Elisa Peralta, Alyssa Vierra and Nariyah Buggs as Schreiner topped Centenary on Sunday afternoon.

It was another high-intensity effort for the always-pressing Mountaineers, who forced Centenary into 23 turnovers. Schreiner recorded 13 steals, including four Peralta. The victor keeps the Mountaineers in the hunt for a high seed in the SCAC tournament later this month.

Some of our favorite Instagram photos from the weekend


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The New Buddy Holly Band rocking the Cailloux Theater


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1st place today, after a very very rough front side finished -4 on the last 9


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Another SWCC Annual Hill Camp in Kerrville, TX is in the books fueled by @trekbicyclehouston!

#southwestcyclingclub #h…


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Family Time at the Kerrville Renaissance Festival.

It was Barrett’s first time at anything like this and he had soo…


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