Good morning, Kerr County!
The warmth is here! It's going to be a glorious few days before we can expect some stormy weather. Here's a look at the weather.
However, there's a downside — fire danger. The dry conditions will continue, and the Ingram Volunteer Fire Department battled a small fire on Tuesday.
On today's The Lead Live!
Wonderful Wednesday returns with Rachel Fitch, who tells us about her plans to relocate her Earl Garrett Street business to another downtown location — well, just around the corner on Water Street. Join us at 9 a.m.
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Jobs, jobs and jobs
During Tuesday's edition of The Lead Live, we had Mustang Sally owner Sally McHalffey discuss some of the challenges she's had finding workers for her Water Street store. Fortunately, McHalffey leveraged Schreiner University and found two women's volleyball team members to help staff the store at least two days a week. That acute employment issue is one everyone feels and sees. So, Schreiner University's David Reast visited with us to discuss the university's Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.
"Everyone's hiring, and we have a select audience of young men and women that are in college, and a lot of them will be walking across the stage in May, and obviously they're looking for that entry-level first career type of position, but in the meantime, the undergraduates and lower-level students are looking for work during the summer or summer internship," Reast said of connecting Schreiner students with employers.
However, Schreiner saw that employers wanted to connect with a broader audience, and the university decided to open the fair up to the general public.
"This is open to the general public," Reast said. "So, if you're looking for a job or looking to change careers, this might be a good opportunity, and we welcome the public's participation."
Watch Tuesday's show with Sally McHalffey and David Reast:
Citizens Academy returns for Kerrville Police Department
Kerrville Police Department Sgt. Jack Lamb shows the tight quarters of the police station's briefing room.
Since 2006, the Kerrville Police Department has provided an intensive behind-the-scenes look at its operations through its citizens' academy program. The 27th class — some of these are biannual — launched Tuesday night with Sgt. Jack Lamb, KPD's public information officer, leading the class of about 20 people.
"Most citizens think the police department as the squad car going down the street," said Police Chief Chris McCall, who opened the class. "We hope to give you a peek inside all of that."
Of course, this is a crucial program for a variety of reasons. Most significantly, some of the longtime volunteers who support the department have come from the classes.
The Lead is part of the eight-week program and will regularly report from the classes, including ridealongs, next month. While the police are not supposed to campaign for general obligation bond Proposition A openly, there are subtle hints at the department's needs.
Lamb led a tour of the cramped police station, which once served as a bus station, and noted the tight working spaces, shoehorned offices and inadequate storage. The Prop. A political action committee is guiding its tours of the area — which was supposed to be a temporary location when the department moved into it in 1995.
For Lamb, along with McCall and the other top police commanders, this is really about communication and engagement.
"I'm proud of the Kerrville Police Department," said Lamb, who has spent much of his career in his hometown after a seven-year stint in the Army and a police job in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Speaking of Prop. A
We're still stunned by the discussion during Monday's commissioner's court meeting (we know that we should never be amazed by their conversations) about the confusion around the upcoming elections. So, we cooked up a little explainer video for you about the three remaining 2022 elections.
A design-build theory for new museum
The Kerrville City Council got a look Tuesday about how the city staff plans to renovate the A.C. Schreiner Mansion complex to accommodate the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center.
During a workshop session, the discussion took place with city staff presenting a plan to use a design-build process rather than one requiring a sealed bid. If adopted by the City Council on March 22, the method could save the city money and allow it more flexibility as it builds the new history museum.
Kerrville Public Works Director Stuart Barron told the Council that the design-build concept is only applicable with a renovation job — like the historic mansion — constructed in 1909. The project budget is $3.6 million, and there was some hesitancy if that was enough.
City Councilwoman Kim Clarkson questioned if the budget was big enough, considering inflationary pressures. It's a question that may hang over the project, but City Manager E.A. Hoppe said private fundraising continues for the project. The biggest fundraising chunks have come from H-E-B, the H.E. Butt Foundation, and the Library's Friends. The Heart of the Hills Heritage Center Foundation has raised enough to match those efforts — more than $1 million. The city of Kerrville is kicking in the rest.
Start expecting work at USDA facility to start
The quiet work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Knipling-Bushland Livestock Insects Research Laboratory will not be so quiet once construction begins later this year on the 75-year-old campus on Texas 16 just north of Kerrville.
Late last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the project, awarded a $43 million contract to rebuild the aging and inadequate research center, which is famed among the cattle industry for its work in mitigating insect impact on cattle.
The current facility features Quonset-style buildings left over from World War II. The buildings are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act or are energy efficient. New York-based Skanska USA Building Inc. won the contract, and work will be complete in late 2024.
The research center employs 38 people, and the new facility will be able to host 13 additional research scientists.
First Kerr County death in March from COVID-19 reported
The Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday that the first Kerr County resident to in March from COVID-19 — the 36th person to die this year from the virus.
The latest fatality happened on March 10, but DSHS provided no other information. The virus has killed more than 220 Kerr County residents since May of 2020.
However, the good news is that the virus appears to be lying down here and across the state. There are still more than 1,700 people hospitalized, including 60 children, with COVID-19 across the state. After peaking on Jan. 26, Monday's COVID-19 hospitalizations ticked upward — slightly — for the first time since that peak. Cases remained small.
In Kerr County, Peterson Health has stopped reporting the numbers, lifted its mask mandate, and moved forward with regular operations. Over the last week, DSHS said it had 26 cases reported in Kerr County.
A course reversal
In the face of sharp criticism from teachers, the Texas Education Agency moved Tuesday to add more teachers to a committee tasked with coming up with solutions to solving the state's shortage of educators.
Initially, the committee, which TEA created after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered it, included only administrators. At least one teacher's group noted the absence of current and relevant teaching experience.
"It is imperative that we include the insights and recommendations of current classroom teachers as the task force works to identify strong recommendations that can address the staffing shortages facing school systems across Texas," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. "This expansion strengthens the Task Force and includes more perspectives as we work to find far-reaching solutions to these challenges."
Josue Torres of Forney, a 4th and 5th-grade math teacher from Dallas ISD, will serve as chair of the Task Force. Additionally, the Task Force is being organized into several workgroups to tackle the different challenges identified thus far.
The NCAA Tournament — the D3 roots
For fans of college basketball, this weekend is nirvana! ESPN produced a fascinating piece on the playing backgrounds of coaches for all 68 teams, and 14 of them had Division III playing experience. So, as we've suggested previously, the level of talent playing at Schreiner University and against the Mountaineers is pretty high.
The odds for Texas teams in the NCAA tournament
You can't bet on sports in Texas, but you can in Louisiana. Of course, Texas A&M-Corpus and Texas Southern played Tuesday night. Baylor, the defending national champions, has the best odds of winning the tournament of the seven Texas-based universities competing.
- Baylor: +1100 (bet $10 to win $120 total)
- Texas Tech: +2500 (bet $10 to win $260 total)
- Houston: +3000 (bet $10 to win $310 total)
- Texas: +7000 (bet $10 to win $710 total)
- TCU: +20000 (bet $10 to win $2,010 total)
- Texas Southern: +95000 (bet $10 to win $9,510 total)
- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: +95000 (bet $10 to win $9,510 total)
Things to do today!
Recurring events Tuesday-Saturday
"Art of the Plains"
Museum of Western Art
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This artistic celebration features realistic and representational artworks in traditional media depicting the American Great Plains region, including its landscape, wildlife, people, and way of life in historical or modern times.
KACC Art Exhibits
Kerr Arts and Cultural Center
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Paintings by Elaine Capers & Daneshu Clarke, "Kerrville Art Club Judged Show" members of the Kerrville Art Club show their best work in this judged exhibit, "GAGA Group Show" An insiders look at 16 GAGA member artists who have participated in past A Look Inside digital exhibitions.
Form and Function
Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
They feature pottery and ceramics from local artisans.
Kerr County Produce Market Day
The Big Red Barn
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Come find some of the finest fruits and vegetables in Kerr County.
Friends of the Library Book Sale
Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library
Looking for a great read? Or better yet, come down and support the work of Friends of the Library. Maybe find a banned book? That sounds like a fun day to us.
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