Good morning, Kerr County!
We know it's hot, but we've been noticing that the evenings have been pleasant. We're trying to look on the bright side of things here. On Tuesday night, former Kerr County Judge Fred Henneke addressed the Kerrville City Council and compared our current high heat spat to the drought of 2011. We were intrigued and looked it up. Indeed, 2011 was a cooker, with every day in June over 90. However, it looks like we're on a pace to top that. In 2011, there were three days 100 degrees or hotter, but this year we've seen five (depending on the readings). What alarms Henneke, of course, is the lack of rainfall, and with a little more than 3 inches of rain this year, we're making 2011 look tropical. Of course, the weather across the country has been terrifying this last week, with fires raging in New Mexico and Arizona and unprecedented flooding in Yellowstone National Park. Here in Texas, residents in Odessa faced a water shortage when a water main ruptured. The city will get the water back on, but residents will be boiling water to drink in the coming days.
On today's The Lead Live!
With Louis Amestoy out with COVID-19, Jeremy Walther returns to host and has a jam-packed show with Bismarck State College President Douglas Jensen, Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner, Doyle School Community Center Executive Director B.K. Gamble and Huser Construction's Joe Hawkins. Jensen is visiting Kerrville as he works with Schreiner University to expand programming between the two universities. Join Jeremy at 9 a.m.
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KISD takes a threat seriously, leads to an arrest
Kerrville Independent School District said it received a phone call on Monday threatening violence against the district's schools. In an email to parents, Superintendent Mark Foust said the district took the threat seriously and immediately alerted the Kerrville Police Department.
From there, Kerrville Police were able to trace the call back to San Antonio and worked with the San Antonio Police Department to obtain a warrant on Tuesday. San Antonio police arrested an "individual," but the district did not share details of the suspect.
"We take any threat to the safety of our children or our schools very seriously and will prosecute a threat to the full extent of the law," Foust said in his email. "This summer, we are actively assessing our safety protocols for our schools and considering additional mitigations for our district facilities."
Foust said in the email that the suspect is barred from entering KISD property.
Puppies for sale leads to online scrap, legal barbs
A fight over puppies has turned into a potentially heavyweight legal matter, with a noted California-based animal-rights attorney throwing some muscle behind the dispute.
A video posted by Loving Texas Pet Assistance of a woman selling puppies along Sidney Baker Street in the Big Lots parking lot last weekend has led to a war of words between the operator of a Facebook page and the group. That war amplified on Wednesday when Los Angeles-based lawyer Jill Rhyner sent a cease and desist letter on behalf of Loving Texas Pet Assistance to Gil Ramirez, the operator of a Facebook page dedicated to aggregating news.
Ramirez took exception to the video posted by LTPA, a nonprofit based in California under the name Ghetto Rescue Ffoundation (sic) because he said it unfairly targeted the woman selling the puppies. Of course, selling puppies in a commercial parking lot, as LTPA pointed out, is illegal in Kerrville.
In response, LTPA attorney Jill Rychner, noted for animal advocacy, sent Ramirez a cease-and-desist letter. Rychner said Ramirez had defamed LTPA, by spreading false information about the organization's work.
A screenshot sent to The Lead of a Ramirez post suggested not donating to a certain animal advocacy group. His original post, which apparently noted LTPA's California roots, is not found on the Kerrville News and More site, but it was enough to get the attention of the lawyers.
Founded by former Los Angeles Police Department officer Tami Baumann, LTPA focuses on solving Texas' euthanasia challenges by assisting low-income families. While Baumann lists Kerrville as the base for the organization, the most recent tax filings show an Anaheim, Calif. strip mall as its home. Baumann's efforts started in the 2000s when she was a patrol officer and sergeant with the LAPD, then morphed into a more focused rescue. Her work was featured in a 2008 Hallmark movie called "Accidental Friendship."
Both sides shared the letter on social media to make matters more engaging, stirring the pot of supporters. Ramirez shares almost no original content, just scraping from other sources, but he does have more than 9,000 followers.
The fact that LTPA is California based, along with their lawyer, was fodder for those defending Ramirez. But LTPA had plenty of support for their actions, including from 216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke, who wrote supportive comments about seeking legal action.
Here's the two sides sharing the letter from the lawyer:
A media perspective on Uvalde from a Kerrville voice
NBC News correspondent Morgan Chesky grew up in Kerrville, and last month's mass shooting in Uvalde hit close to home. He was one of the first national reporters on the scene after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Uvalde's Robb Elementary School.
The Tivy High grad posted his thoughts on Facebook.
"For 18 days, I watched a town not far from where I grew up face a tragedy every community believes only happens somewhere else, until they're proven wrong in the absolute worst way," Chesky wrote.
"On day one, I shared our first story from outside Robb Elementary as many parents were still learning their children would never come home. More stories and interviews followed. We learned seemingly everything that could've gone wrong, did. I couldn't bring myself to share every update here because it felt like reporting it once was enough. To see or hear it again only brought back the shock and helplessness you'd catch on the faces of everyone who found how quickly a sense of safety and comfort can vanish.
"For the last week, every drive through town ran into a funeral procession. Every conversation, a connection to someone whose name now covers one of the 21 white crosses. Every day, a new struggle to comprehend dual tragedies: young lives cut short amid a nation's reckoning with the solution. Fewer guns, more guns, better training, tougher laws, deeper background checks, and the list goes on. I don't know the answer, but I know there's not just one.
"As I left town and drove through the Hill Country that will forever be home, I was overcome with gratitude. A heartfelt thank you for every call, text, email, or handshake. Each one helped push me through what is without a doubt the toughest story I've ever covered. I hope and pray I never have to cover another one, but I also know better."
Things to do around Kerr County!
- Texas Watercolor Society Annual Exhibit — Hill Country Arts Foundation., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Through June 30. Information: https://www.hcaf.com The details: The Hill Country Arts Foundation is hosting the Texas Watercolor Society's 73rd National Exhibit. This exhibit features watercolor pieces by over forty artists from across the United States. In 1949, TWS was founded by Margaret Pace Willson and Amy Freeman Lee with the mission to advance the art of painting in watercolors, and hold annual exhibitions of watercolor paintings. Today, more than 60 years later, TWS continues to promote the high standards set by its founders. Thus, as a national exhibit, TWS proudly takes its place among the elite watercolor organizations in the nation.
- Heaven's Declare Art Exhibition (Recurring through Saturday) — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. Information: https://www.museumofwesternart.com The details: Featuring works by renowned artists who celebrate the heavens. The exhibition will feature works by Phil Bob Borman, G. Russell Case, Tim Newton, Laurel Daniel, Linda Glover Gooch, David Griffin, David Grossman, Michael Magrin, Denise LaRue Mahlke, Phil Starke and John Taft.
- Southwest Gourd Show — Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: https://www.kacckerrville.com The details: See some of the finest examples of gourd-based art and uses during this unique exhibit that runs through July 9.