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The Lead March 5, 2022: Smugglers can't outrun Kerr County law

The sheriff's department makes another big bust!

Good morning, Kerr County!

Welcome to our special Saturday edition of The Lead. Another great day of weather ahead of us across the Texas Hill Country. There will be no better way to start your day than at the Cowboy Breakfast this morning at the Glory Community Garden in the Doyle Community. Food is served at 9 a.m.

Plan your day

Kerr County Market Days

Hill Country Youth Event Center

8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Market Days continues to feature artists and crafters bringing their original handcrafted jewelry, fiber, wood, metal, soaps, lotions and home decor, and unique, one-of-a-kind items. Indoors, free parking and leashed-pet friendly.

College tennis: LeTourneau at Schreiner University

Schreiner University tennis courts


Schreiner's men's and women's tennis teams face LeTourneau University in a nonconference match. To see more photos from the Mountaineers' Friday match against East Texas Baptist:

College softball: St. Thomas at Schreiner University

Schreiner University softball fields

1 p.m., 3 p.m. (doubleheader)

The Mountaineers open Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play by playing host to St. Thomas in a doubleheader. The series wraps on Sunday at noon.

Here's our pick of the day!

Landon Lloyd Miller brings his unique brand of American roots music to Kerrville and the Trailhead Beer Garden at Schreiner University. It's a southern sound inspired by folk songs, murder ballads, country classics, and everything in between, glued together by a biographical songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose career path is every bit as diverse as his music. The indy troubadours, The Lonesome Heroes, will join Miller. The music starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. Information:

Want more things to do? Click here for music offerings this weekend:

Get a say in your roads

The Alamo Regional Rural Planning Organization and the Kerr County Commissioners Court will host a workshop on rural transportation planning from 9-11 a.m. on Monday at the Hill Country Youth Event Center.

Planners from the Texas Department of Transportation, with the assistance of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, provide an opportunity for Kerr County residents to provide input on the draft of the Rural Transportation Improvement Program and other plans. Rural TIP includes all regionally significant projects funded within a TxDOT district over the next four years, including those eligible for federal funding.

"This meeting offers our residents the chance to review and comment on the proposed priorities identified by the Rural TIP," Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly said. "It is important that our citizens attend. There will be an interactive exercise to gather information about needs in our county."

At the workshop, there will be a brief presentation on transportation planning and the role of ARRPO in the process. Covered will be possible impacts by the recently signed infrastructure investment and Jobs Act.

Written input is also welcome from citizens. Comments must be postmarked no later than April 7, 2022, and addressed: Texas Department of Transportation, San Antonio District, Attn: Rural TIP, 4615 NW Loop 410, San Antonio, TX 78229. Comments may also be emailed to: Attention: Rural TIP.

Human smugglers try to make a run for it

It's becoming a tired story for Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha — human smugglers on the run.

Once again, the Kerr County Sheriff's Office stopped a suspected human smuggler, who deputies said attempted to evade a lawful stop, heading into oncoming traffic before being halted by a spike strip.

"Once again, a smuggler has attempted to transport human beings for profit, with little care for their safety or public safety," Leitha said in a department social media post. "More than a dozen lives were put at risk in this case, in addition to innocent people traveling the interstate and the first responders involved."

The latest incident happened Thursday when deputies heard about a suspected smuggler traveling in a 1999 Ford F-250 pickup truck near Highway 41 and Interstate 10.

After a 15-mile pursuit, deputies detained 13 illegal immigrants and the driver — Adrian Severiano Gloria Guajardo, 35, of Juarez, Mexico. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Kerrville Police and Precinct 4 Constable Brad Rider aided in the apprehension of the suspects.

The U.S. Border Patrol took custody of the immigrants. Guajardo, who is in Kerr County Jail, faces 13 counts of human smuggling and one count of evading arrest.

"These are felony cases which we pursue to the fullest extent of the law," Leitha said. "Our deputies and investigators work every single day to protect Kerr County from these thoughtless criminal enterprises."

Breaking down the election results

Kerr County was fourth in Republican voter turnout for Tuesday's primary election for counties with more than 30,000 registered voters. The county election officials said 25% of Kerr County voted in the Republican primary — 1% behind Kendall County. Burnet had the best turnout, with 27%.

It's probably not something to brag about, considering how poor the turnout was across the state — most counties were under 20% participation.

The lack of enthusiasm in the big Democratic counties — Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis was telling. The tell? Most of the races weren't really races for the Democrats. Beto O'Rourke earned 95% of the vote in the gubernatorial primary.

The Republicans had races far more interesting, including heated battles for attorney general, governor and other top statewide jobs. Even longtime legislators, like District 53 Rep. Andrew Murr, faced tough primary challenges.

Looking at Kerr County's races, the interest in the Precinct 2 Commissioners Court seat helped attract more than 300 voters to Center Point's American Legion Hall. It was there that Sonya Hooten probably cemented her two-vote lead over Rich Paces. The two candidates will battle on May 24 for the Republican primary runoff. In Precinct 2, Paces and Hooten had the most votes in two polling places each. Hooten drummed up 138 March 1 votes at Hosanna Lutheran Church, while Paces saw the most success at Faith Christian Church with 124.

They may not be reporting, but we can still measure COVID-19 impact on Peterson Regional Medical Center

Even as Peterson Health has ceded its duties as the keeper of local COVID-19 data, we can still get a pretty good look at the virus' impact on Peterson Regional Medical Center.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requires hospitals across the country, including Peterson, to file detailed records of the virus, along with its staffing impact. Since July 31, 2020, Peterson had just one week where it reported no COVID-19 patients — May 7, 2021.

The situation with COVID-19 comes into greater focus when looking at the data. While we still wrestle with the political denial of the virus, there are so many missing data points from the Health and Human Services Department that it raises plenty of questions. Our colleague at Meta Bulletin, Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard University, explained the problem this way:

"Since 2020, HHS has been instructing hospitals to report not the normal number of patients they can safely treat, but rather, the number of staffed beds they might possibly be able to scare up in worst-case scenarios," Faust wrote in his Bulletin website Inside Medicine. "As a result, HHS's public reporting on hospital capacity more closely resembles fire capacity than safe care capacity. Under the current reporting system, there is no distinction between inpatient beds in cardiac units and gurneys lining the hallways. Even chapel spaces and parking garages hastily converted into care areas "count" as "staffed inpatient beds," as far as HHS is concerned."

So, how serious was COVID-19 on Kerrville? Well, let's put it this way: In January of 2021, more than half of all admissions were COVID-19 patients. On Jan. 15, 2021, Peterson reported 51 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Since July 2020, Peterson's aggregate hospitalizations have been more than 1,200 people. Those aren't all Kerr County residents, but not all Kerr County residents received treatment at Peterson. Considering most fatalities appear to have happened outside Kerr County, we suspect that the hospitalization figure is low.

And the underlying issue, especially for the naysayers, is that mortality was high if you were sick enough to be admitted. Our napkin math says maybe as high as 17% of people hospitalized died — if all 1,200 are from Kerr County and correct reporting of fatalities (our estimate is about 215 people).

The omicron variant challenged those numbers but thankfully leveled off. However, since everything associated with the virus is political, there are questions that still need answers, such as:

  • How many vaccinated and unvaccinated people were cared for at Peterson?
  • How many people were transferred to San Antonio hospitals, and do those count as initial hospitalization in Kerrville?
  • Of those who died, how many died after receiving treatments that were not available in Kerrville?

Those are just some of the questions we've attempted to gain answers to, but it appears we're still months or years away from getting to the bottom of the seriousness of coronavirus. However, the one thing we're sure of is that this virus beat us — and for all the wrong reasons.


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