Good morning, Kerr County!
It's another Red-Flag Warning kind of day out there! We've got to take care with the flammable materials, lawn mowing or anything that might spark. For most of the U.S. Southwest, the National Weather Service continues to issue Red-Flag Warnings — meaning high winds and dry conditions. We saw some gusts of 30 MPH or more on Tuesday night. NWS said we should expect gusty conditions through this afternoon.
On today's episode of The Lead Live!
It's wonderful Wednesday, and Rachel Fitch joins us to discuss what's going on with her businesses, including relocating Fitch Estates Sales to Water Street from her Earl Garrett Street location. Programming note for Thursday: We'll be live from Nimitz Lake with Delayne Sigerman hosting from the boat of Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing's Kristin Hedger. This will be a wild morning of fun celebrating the Guadalupe River and the potential of Nimitz Lake.
Today's newsletter is sponsored by
You're going to want to stop by on Friday to visit Mustang Sally's to see their latest finds from across the Southwest. Visit them today: https://www.facebook.com/Mustang-Sallys-Rustic-Furniture-Decor-112503441258783
Our featured event this weekend — The Old 97s
Things to do today
- Kerr County Commissioners Court — Kerr County Courthouse, 8 a.m. The details: This is a workshop and commissioners will participate in a webinar about Economic Development Corporations (EDCs), Chapter 380/381 agreements, Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT), Chapter 311 TIRZs, Chapter 312 abatements, Public Improvement Districts (PIDs), and Municipal Development Districts (MDDs).
- College Tennis — Schreiner University, 1 p.m. Information: https://schreinermountaineers.com/composite?d=2022-03-30 The details: The Schreiner men and women host Mary Hardin Baylor in a non-conference tennis match.
- Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1-3 p.m. Information: https://kerrvillet.gov/349/FOTL-Book-Sale The details: 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.
- Live music by Anthony Garcia — Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University, 7 p.m. Information: https://www.trailheadbeergarden.com The details: Anthony Garcia is a songwriter, guitarist, and classically trained pianist based in Austin. His musical style has most accurately been described as "cinematic Americana," a genre that interweaves songwriting with expanding, quasi-orchestral sections.
Rep. Chip Roy name-dropped in Ginni Thomas's text messages
The Hill, a newspaper focused on all things politics, reported that Rep. Chip Roy, who represents Kerr County in the U.S. House of Representatives, was name-dropped in text messages from Ginni Thomas — the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In comments to the website and paper, Roy downplayed his role in the text messages.
"I'm not going to characterize whatever private conversations I've had with Ginni," Roy told The Hill. He added that Thomas "has engaged in defense of her country for years," criticizing calls for her husband to be impeached.
The issues over the text messages became a major story last week when The Washington Post reported that the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6 had them. The texts are to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and urge him to take action to help overturn Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Roy was one of the few Republicans to vote against a broader plan not to certify the election results promptly on Jan. 6.
Read more of the story here: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/600246-ginni-thomas-texts-leave-gop-lawmakers-scrambling?rl=1
Our third class at Kerrville's Citizen's Police Academy
For the last three weeks, The Lead has participated in the Kerrville Police Department's Citizen's Police Academy, and there were some critical takeaways from Tuesday night's class.
The class was taught by Lt. Mary Krebs, who oversees the department's administration, 216th District Assistant District Attorney John Hoover, and Sgt. Chuck Bocock, who handles the department's recruitment and training.
Kerrville Police Department Lt. Mary Krebs discusses some of the challenges faced by the city's dispatchers, who also handle 911 calls in Kerr County. Since Jan. 1, 2021, the city's dispatchers handled 25,150 calls for service.
Bocock, who reports to Krebs, did a deep dive into the department's recruitment efforts — a constant one. Bocock said the department is down about five sworn positions — that means police officers. These are just some of the significant elements Bocock highlighted:
- The department moved to cover the $3,500 fee to attend a police academy, and those officers earn a living while they're in the nearly six-month program and the following 12 weeks of field training.
- New officers, however, sign a contract to give four years of service for getting paid to go to the academy.
- The new starting salary for a patrol officer is $56,918 yearly, with benefits. Bocock noted that's a significant increase from just two years ago. The Kerrville City Council recently approved raises for city employees.
- One of the biggest challenges continues to be finding recruits who have smoked marijuana. While the drug continues to gain legal acceptance, that is not the case in Texas.
- Despite some improved financial incentives, Bocock said he does not see a lot of interest in lateral transfers into the department. That means he's not seeing experienced officers moving to Kerrville.
More public safety news
We continued our exploration of data from the Texas Department of Transportation about traffic crashes, and there were some interesting surprises.
- We still have a problem with seatbelts. Nine of the 13 fatal crashes in 2021 involved those not wearing a seatbelt, including two by ejection. In 2021, 197 crashes involved not wearing a seatbelt. Of the 44 crashes that produced severe injuries, 29 involved those not wearing seatbelts.
- Motorcyclists not wearing helmets were in 15 crashes, eight of which led to severe injuries.
- From the data, the safest drivers remain those over the age of 70 — at least when it comes to accidents. The largest age group to be involved in a crash are 18-year-old drivers.
- That's right, 18-year-old drivers were in 60 crashes in 2021. We like to blame distraction for these crashes, but that produced just 10 crashes in the demographic.
- Drivers under the age of 21 accounted for about 25% of all Kerr County crashes in 2021. However, things are not any better for those in other age demographics — it's pretty consistent that the more you drive, the greater your chances are of being in a crash.
Ingram Independent School District is also pitching a bond
Kerr County voters will consider pitching in to help with new public buildings in 2022, and Ingram Independent School District is making its ask on May 7.
The backers of a $25 million bond made their presentation on Tuesday night to Ingram voters, who will have to say yes when they head to the polls. Ingram, however, is surging in enrollment — stressing its small and aging facilities.
The bond would pay for district-wide improvements if approved, including a new $1.5 million classroom wing at the elementary school and a new $2.6 million band room at Tom Moore High School. Just some of the upgrades proposed are:
- Increase the size of the elementary school gym by expanding into the adjacent field. $350,000.
- At Tom Moore High School and Ingram Middle School, expand the math and science building to add six new classrooms to accommodate increased enrollment numbers. $3,825,000
- Expand wing of the main building between main hall and cafeteria to add two new classrooms. One of these classrooms will be a much larger art classroom. $360,000
- Expand the cafeteria to accommodate increased enrollment numbers and allow for fire code compliance. $600,000
- Renovate existing Ag building so that shop/construction area can be expanded and updated to current safety standards. $1,000,000
- A new band hall accommodates our continuously growing band in the existing parking lot adjacent to the football stadium. $2,600,000
- Renovate the existing band hall to repurpose it into new locker rooms. $550,000
Read more about the district's plans here: https://ingramisdbond.net/the-proposal/
Recurring events (Tuesday-Saturday)
- KACC Exhibits — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: https://www.kacckerrville.com The details: Three exhibits are running at KACC through April 16. The Hill Country Youth Art Exhibit; Kerrville 1940-1960, a photographic history of the community sponsored by the Kerr County Historical Commission; Passion Project: Our contributions to the world, a collection of work from Schreiner University, senior art students.
- "Art of the Plains" — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: https://www.museumofwesternart.com The details: 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.
- The Fiber Show and Sale — Hill Country Arts Foundation, Ingram, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Information: https://www.hcaf.com The details: An exhibit of fiber art by artists from across Texas.
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