Good morning, Kerr County!
The blistering summer continues here in Kerr County and across Texas with apparently no end. On Wednesday, the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas issued its second conservation call of the week after temperatures soared past 100 degrees in many places. Through next Wednesday, do not expect many breaks in the temperatures — maybe be grateful that we're in the Hill Country, where it's a touch cooler than the I-35 corridor. Here's your forecast:
On today's The Lead Live!
We're not sure how this will go today, but the cast of "Matilda," which opens at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Point Theater in Ingram, storms onto the show. Hill Country Arts Foundation's Sarah DeRousseau will lead the expedition from the Point Theater, promising a scene from the Roald Dahl play. The Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau's Leslie Jones returns to update us on all the events in her latest edition of "THE LESLIE: A GUIDE TO FUN AND MORE FUN IN KERR COUNTY." And coming Friday, we'll have more arts and entertainment coverage when Museum of Western Art Executive Director Darrell Beauchamp and Becky Crouch Patterson will discuss her exhibition entitled "Luckenbach Legacy, Hondo's Daughter."
"It will showcase the art and talents of Becky Crouch Patterson, a fifth-generation Texan whose father was the legendary developer of historic tiny-town Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings's classic song, "Let's Go to Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love," Beauchamp said. The exhibition features Becky's original art, a marriage of Texas Folk Art and Fine Art, plus textiles, memorabilia and works from her life. In addition to her own work, three display cases of photos and artifacts of Hondo and Luckenbach.
We'll also have a 90-minute show on Friday with Amy Goodyear updating us on Playhouse 2000's latest production — "Last Gas."
Today's newsletter is sponsored by:
This is dedicated to the cast and crew of Matilda, opening at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at the Point Theater in Ingram.
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Health, Wellness and Beauty Show is set for July 21
Join us July 21 for our first-ever Health, Wellness and Beauty Super Show on The Lead Live. This special show features health professionals, personal trainers, therapists and mental health professionals. The show is our biggest yet. We've had so much interest that we opened some additional spots after 2 p.m. If you're a health, beauty or wellness professional or business, contact us today because space is limited.
How about Wednesday's Super Moon?
Speaking of events, here's a look at events today and Friday!
- Kerr Arts and Cultural Center Art Exhibits — Kerr Arts Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: 830-895-2911 The details: Through Aug. 13, three different art exhibits. Paintings by LaRue, "Kerrville Fiber Artists," Fiber art show by local artists, "Hometown Crafts Teacher's Show," an exhibition featuring the work of local teachers, sponsored by Hometown Crafts and Gifts.
Science and Nature
- Nature Nights — Riverside Nature Center, 6 p.m. Information: 830-257-4837 The details: Nature Jeopardy.
- Matt Hillyer — Southern Sky Music Cafe, 7 p.m. Information: https://www.facebook.com/southernskymusiccafe
Games and fun
- Thirsty Thursday Game Night — Arcadia Live, 5 p.m. Information: https://www.thearcadialive.org/calendar/
Friday, July 15, 2022
- Kerrville Farmers Market — A.C. Schreiner Mansion, 4 p.m. Information: https://kerrvillefarmersmarket.com/ The details: Come down and enjoy a complimentary beer, or buy a handcrafted pizza and enjoy the market.
- "Last Gas" — Playhouse 2000 VK Garage Theater, 7:30 p.m. Information: https://www.playhouse2000.com The details: Nat Paradis is a Red Sox-loving part-time dad. He manages "Paradis' Last Convenient Store," the last place to get gas (or anything) before the Canadian border in northern Maine. When an old flame returns to town, Nat gets a chance to rekindle a romance he gave up on years ago. But sparks fly as he must choose between new love and old. This play takes a hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking look at love lost and found and what it means to "get back to happy."
- "Matilda" — Hill Country Arts Foundation Point Theater, Ingram, 8:30 p.m. Information: https://www.hcaf.com The details: Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. She's unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. For her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey profoundly affect each other's lives, as Miss Honey begins recognizing and appreciating Matilda's extraordinary personality.
Science and Nature
- 1-on-1 with a naturalist — Riverside Nature Center, 10 a.m. Information: https://www.riversidenaturecenter.org The details: Naturalist, author, and columnist Jim Stanley and Texas Master Naturalist and native plant enthusiast John Hucksteadt will be available to meet one-on-one to answer questions, discuss various topics, or listen to ideas about nature.
- Graham Warwick — Pint and Plow Brewing Co., 6 p.m. Information: 830-315-7468 The details: Texas Bluesman Graham Warwick, aka, The Texas Blues Gentleman, will, from the first note, take the listener on a foot tappin' musical journey through several styles of Blues, some classic Rock and Roll, classic Country, folk music, songs from the American Songbook, and sprinkled liberally with his own unique songs! Graham will also fill in all the empty spaces with entertaining stories!!
- Dave Kemp — Cafe at the Ridge, 6 p.m. Information: https://www.shopsattheridge.com
- Aaron LaCombe — The Hunt Store, 7 p.m. Information: 830-238-4410
- Moonshine and Wine — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 6 p.m. Information: https://www.trailheadbeergarden.com The details: This Texas trio performs country music with acoustic guitar, bass, and a harmonica player on lead. Blending traditional & original songs and bringing in great songs from some of the newer country bands, the mix is for dancing & listening. The lead singer is Dennis Alan Owens, a singer song-writer who has released his own music on the recent albums "Going Back to Texas," and "The Last Cowboy," telling stories hoping to take you back to the old ranch roads and dance halls he has traveled in his life. The harmonica player, "Moonshine Marie," gets her harp sound from listening to Mickey Raphael on all of those old Willie Nelson tunes, also sings, and lives in Kerrville, not far from the Quiet Valley Ranch which first brought her here.
- Concerts by the River — Louise Hays Park, 7 p.m. Information: https://kerrvilletx.gov/1582/Concerts-By-The-River The details: Tejano Image & Jessie Wren will play.
- C-Rock — Pier 27 River Lounge and Pizzeria, 8 p.m. Information: 830-896-7437
- The Flashbacks — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, 6 p.m. Information: (936) 554-8326
- Abbie Duncan— Southern Sky Music Cafe, 7 p.m. Information: https://www.facebook.com/southernskymusiccafe
COVID-19 claims life of Kerr County resident
Kerr County's COVID-19 death toll ticked up again with a fatality reported on July 3 by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The fatality is at least the 41st in 2022 related to COVID-19. There was a death at the Kerrville State Hospital, but the date is unclear. This is the first death in July. After a break in COVID-19 fatalities, the virus reared its head in June, claiming two lives last month.
COVID-19 continues to infect thousands of Texans; on Wednesday, more than 8,000 people tested positive. The dominant variant is BA.5, infecting more than half of all people. The number of active cases in Kerr County is unclear, but it's likely far higher than the 29 reported by the DSHS.
Hospitalizations rose to 3,277, including a new high of 177 children. The testing data shows 30% positivity.
Kerrville insists water supply is in good shape
Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner said Tuesday night that the city's water supply is stable despite the ferocious drought that has hit most of Texas.
Eychner made the comments during the City Council meeting, and coming off of two city press releases reassuring residents the water supply is safe.
"We just get so many questions as to why we're not in Stage 1 restrictions for our watering," Eychner said. "There's a couple of reasons for that. One, it's because everybody in the city is actually saving water. If you look at our yards they're brown. This is not a green city; we're brown. People are making conservation efforts. The second is, and this is one of those things that Council voted in several years ago, our water re-use ponds. These are making a world of difference. These are being used for the sports fields, the golf course and if we didn't have those we would be in water restrictions."
Another tool to build infrastructure in Kerrville
As development pressures hone in on Kerrville, it's becoming increasingly clear that builders want the City Council to consider possible concessions to finance projects.
On Tuesday afternoon, the City Council heard a nearly two-hour presentation about the implementation and workings of Public Improvement Districts (PID) and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZ, of which Kerrville already has one). Consultant Abdi Yassin outlined the potential uses for a PID, which are extensive.
The bottom line for a PID is the construction of water, sewer and roads within a new development or subdivision. Unlike a general obligation bond that covers all taxable property, the assigned debt is to the district.
And in even simpler terms, if you're buying a house in the district, you're paying for those infrastructure projects over 30 years. There is a provision where the homeowner can pay the assessment off early — without a penalty.
The financing arrangement initially tripped up the City Council members, including Joe Herring, who asked for broader examples about servicing debt. Yassin explained a PID has no impact on a city's credit rating and the general fund does not service the debt. Assessments against the lots in the district are how the bondholder recoups debt.
While Kerrville has never used these funding instruments, they are increasingly popular in Texas. And when it comes to large-scale projects, they are practically a necessity. In the city of Aledo, between Fort Worth and Weatherford, approval of a PID is paving the way for a 1,800-acre mixed-use development that will dramatically increase the size of a city with just 4,200 residents.
The Texas Legislature started putting these into place more than a decade ago but has also worked to improve reporting and transparency. Developers and real estate agents face the required training to sell lots with a PID. In other states, they are often called community facilities districts.
And a PID isn't just new development, an area within the city limits can create its own entity to fund improvement projects, but the barrier is more complicated. The City Council can easily create and controls a PID within the planning area in large-scale housing developments.
According to Section 372.003 of the state code, the PID can fund a wide range of projects from sidewalks, monument signs, public art, parks, libraries and mass transportation.
Schreiner University astronomy professor marvels at Webb telescope
Like every astronomer, astrophysicist, Trekkie, and any casual lover of science and all things cool, Schreiner University astronomy professor Kim Arvidsson looked forward to July 12.
It was the day that NASA released images from its James Webb Observatory — the most powerful telescope launched into space. The pictures of our known universe did not disappoint.
"Oh, the resolution is fabulous, isn't it?" Arvidsson said as he looked at the images during Wednesday's episode of The Lead Live!
These have massive amounts of data that are stitched together," Arvidsson explained. "These are false colors. You can't see this light. This is infrared. You can't see this with your eyes at all. And so it's colored falsely. So that we can, we can even tell what it is."
What it is are the greatest images of the distant universe ever published, and it's just the beginning of an ambitious mission to chart the universe. It's also a look back in time.
"And so if you want to see the earliest stars and if you want to see the earliest galaxies, those are the kinds of images, images that you want to do," said Arvidsson, a native of Sweden who found his way to the United States as a post-graduate student at Iowa State.
Arvidsson's love of astronomy, physics and science was piqued in 1986 when Halley's Comet passed through our solar system. His parents told him it passed by every 75 years, which led him to question that fact.
"That is when I learned that there are people who actually figure stuff out like that for a living," said Arvidsson dryly. His other realization also came that year when Voyager 2 brought back stunning images of Uranus.
For lovers of the Hill Country's dark skies, Arvidsson plays a crucial role in fostering astronomy here. Arvidsson organizes and hosts the Star Parties at Schreiner's at Loftis Observatory near the campus.
However, Arvidsson is looking forward to the Webb Telescope images to further develop our deep space understanding.
"So when they make these kinds of instruments, they propose, they project what they think they're going to find," Arvidsson of the development of the Webb Telescope, which launched on Christmas Day in 2021. And yeah, often they do find but also most of the time to find things that I had no idea that they're going to find, and that is the most interesting about this stuff that you just simply don't know.
"If you build a new instrument, you're going to find things that you thought you'd find and many more things that you didn't know you were going to find and had no idea."
NASA tried to put greater context of the telescope's work with this: "Webb has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far – and in only 12.5 hours. For a person standing on Earth looking up, the field of view for this new image, a color composite of multiple exposures each about two hours long, is approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm's length. This deep field uses a lensing galaxy cluster to find some of the most distant galaxies ever detected. This image only scratches the surface of Webb's capabilities in studying deep fields and tracing galaxies back to the beginning of cosmic time."
Part of the expectations come from the Hubble Space Telescope's long and storied exploration of space — a mission that continues after 32 years.
"I mean Hubble is amazing," Arvidsson said. "Hubble keeps going."