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The Lead June 27, 2022: Kerrville plane crash leaves 1 dead; the abortion issue is just getting started

Good morning, Kerr County!

We now stand at 31 consecutive days of 90-plus degrees, but there's a possible end in sight. Today, depending on your forecaster of choice, we could see rain, or it will just conveniently miss us. The National Weather Service says there's a 20-50% chance of thunderstorms, while the Weather Channel and Weather Underground say there's a 70% chance (maybe they added the Weather Service's numbers together). The break in the heat (not much of one) could come Thursday with a forecast high of 89. Here's what the National Weather Service says:

"A long string of well above normal high temperatures will come to an end as a cold front sags south across South Central Texas overnight into Monday," the National Weather Service wrote. "The front will provide forcing for isolated showers and thunderstorms over the far northern Hill Country to the Interstate 35 corridor in Central Texas to the U.S. Highway 77 corridor. The showers and thunderstorms will wane early to mid Monday morning, then increase to scattered late morning through afternoon into evening with strong heating and the front providing forcing. Forecast soundings indicate a potential for gusty winds with the strongest storms."

The National Weather Service said there could be a tropical "disturbance" brewing off the Texas coast by the end of the week.

On today's The Lead Live!

We're joined by the Texas Hill Country Advisors Gilbert Paiz and Andrew Gay, who will give us the latest in financial advice. Join us at 9 a.m.

Today's newsletter is sponsored by

Pilot killed in plane crash

A flight aware graphic shows the route the plane was taking.

A pilot died in a plane crash near the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport, starting a small brush fire on Saturday. The Kerrville Fire Department responded to the crash and fire, but the Department of Public Safety handled the investigation.

The DPS did not return emails or calls for information about the crash. However, a pilot's Facebook group said the pilot was from North Texas and flew a Mooney M20J. The plane is registered to GMT Enterprises in Stephenville. Flight tracking data shows the pilot taking off from the airport but turning around near Center Point before crashing at about 6:23 p.m.

The Kerrville Police Department could not identify the victim in the crash but would make a statement today.

Commissioner's Court meets today!

The Kerr County Commissioner's Court meets today and will receive an update from interim Ingram Police Chief Joe Hamilton about stabilizing the department. Today's meeting marks a busy week for the Commissioner's Court as they tackle the second round of budget discussions during a Wednesday workshop. Today, the court will also discuss its subdivision rules and regulations regarding lot sizes and water requirements.

Fredericksburg cancels its fireworks show

The city of Fredericksburg has canceled its Fourth of July display, leaving many in Kerrville asking if the city should follow suit with one of the worst droughts in recent memory bearing down upon Texas. Of course, fireworks are still for sale in Kerr County — thanks to a unanimous decision by the Commissioner's Court on June 13.

Abortion battle is just beginning

In the hours after the Supreme Court reversed precedent on Roe V. Wade, protesters showed up at the Kerr County Courthouse to express their disappointment with the decision.

Friday's landmark decision to reverse Roe v. Wade set off immediate protests across the country, including here in Kerrville.

"I'm mad as hell," said Trish Stone, 86, of Hunt, standing along Sidney Baker Street Friday afternoon holding up a protest sign. "(The Supreme Court) took away the rights of 80% of women in this country."

In a divided nation, the Supreme Court decision, which was 5-4 to reverse Roe v. Wade, set off celebrations and protests. For those who supported the decision, it was a long time coming to change what many considered the cause of America's moral decline.

"Very thankful!" wrote Marianne Hutto on The Lead's Facebook page. "And I will be sure to ante up my assistance to agencies that give help to parents in need."

But the big question is, what's next? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas opined that it was time to reconsider previous rulings on contraception, gay marriage and sexual freedom. However, Justice Samuel Alito was careful in his caution that the abortion ruling did not mean a revisit of other rights.

Yet, there are now two nations divided between abortion rights and revocations. For women seeking an abortion in Kerr County, the nearest clinic is 501 miles, just across the Texas border in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

Abortion will remain legal in Colorado and across the West Coast but banned in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Arizona. The fight to emerge will likely be over abortion-inducing medications and emergency contraception, and some Republican lawmakers are considering banning interstate travel for those seeking abortion — setting up another constitutional battle.

How the state would prosecute people going to other states for abortions sounds problematic, and then there's the double standard question. Would Texas prosecute those going to Louisiana to gamble or crossing into New Mexico or Colorado to purchase legal marijuana?

And then there's the matter of polling

In poll after poll, a clear majority of Texans supported some access to abortion — most of it limited. However, with a deeply conservative and gerrymandered legislature, voters will never have a chance to codify abortion rights unless there is a dramatic change in election results. The last University of Texas poll on the issue found that 78% of Texans favored some sort of abortion access. A Gallup Poll from 2021 revealed similar numbers.

John Cornyn's weird tweet

Texas Sen. John Cornyn earned a major legislative victory last week by co-sponsoring the first meaningful gun control legislation since 1994. It passed the Senate, with 15 Republican senators joining in, then in the House 234-193 and signed by President Joe Biden. However, when the Supreme Court reversed the precedent on Roe V. Wade on Friday, Cornyn issued a curiously weird Tweet in response to a Tweet from former President Barack Obama.

"Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education (sic)," Cornyn wrote.

Obama wrote: "If the Supreme Court ultimately decides to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, then it will not only reverse nearly 50 years of precedent — it will relegate the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues."

Cornyn's Tweet sent off shockwaves across social media because his intent was unclear. Was he arguing that those two landmark Civil Rights cases needed revisiting? Or he didn't intend to write what he meant. We have no idea. The speculation was that Cornyn was trying to compare Brown vs. Board of Education reversing established precedent in Plessy, which established the separate but equal rule that reigned over the U.S. from 1896 until Brown in 1954.

The back and forth on the Tweet, which Cornyn tried to clarify by saying it is good some precedents are overturned, but it still didn't dissuade critics who saw the Tweet as a racist subtext for returning to Jim Crow segregation. Critics also pointed out that Brown gave rights to Blacks and other minorities, while the Roe decision could be seen as stripping rights away.

What a time to be alive!

So, what's left on the Supreme Court docket?

The Supreme Court has seven remaining cases to be decided; most could be announced today. First off, there's a biggie that could redefine public education and faith.

A Washington state high school football assistant coach prayed with his players on the field after a game, but the school district reprimanded him for violating district policy. This is a major First Amendment issue — and not an easy one to resolve.

Since the coach, Joseph Kennedy, was a public employee, the district felt his actions jeopardized violating the establishment clause — the one where we don't establish religion. However, Kennedy argued he was exercising his right to express himself to his players.

With a clear conservative majority, the court could rule in favor of Kennedy by saying the district discriminated against him rather than deciding the validity of the establishment clause. Considering how the court has ruled this month, expect a win for Kennedy.

Texas Department of Public Safety and the sovereign immunity claim

In a case involving the Texas Department of Public Safety, a former DPS trooper, who served in the Army reserves, asked the agency to place him in a different position after his service in Iraq left him disabled. DPS refused, and LeRoy Torres filed suit, claiming the state violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. DPS argued that "sovereign immunity" protects it, but Torres said his active duty constitutionally overrides the agency's claim.

Guns and Hoses goes for law enforcement

Kerville Police Sgt. Ed Holloway (3) wore his patrol boots during the game.

A year after getting drubbed by the Kerrville Fire Department, the Kerrville law enforcement community knew it needed a better strategy to defeat the firefighters in a friendly game of flag football.

The underlying story here was this was a fundraiser for Mercy Gate Ministries, which aims to help women exit and recover from being trafficked. However, both teams wanted to win this one.

This time the police officers, bolstered by at least six Kerr County sheriff's deputies and one Ingram police officer, earned a hard-fought win 20-18 — one that featured a video replay to decide the game. The firefighters had a chance to tie the game on a 2-point conversion, but the video replay showed the receiver was out of bounds.

Dylan Meyers looks for running room.

The police squad did it with quarterback Dylan Meyers and Colby Robertson, who subbed in the second half. Meyers threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Cockrell in the second quarter to give the police a 6-0 lead.

The fire team struck back right before halftime with quarterback Gunner Brown throwing a 2-yard pass to tie the game. Brown later scored on a run and then threw another touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

However, it was Robertson who engineered two scoring drives, including a 20-yard run to help give the cops a 13-12 lead. The only downside of the day was Robertson's ankle injury in the game. Robertson was carried off the field.

To see more photos:

To watch the game: Kerrville photo's coverage


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