Good morning, Kerr County!
The forecast looks very red over the next few days, and the National Weather Service says it has little hope of rainfall in the coming days. "Unfortunately, this pattern will result in continued dry conditions and an uptick in temperatures for the weekend into Monday of next week," the National Weather Service reported. The dry weather is causing significant concern across the West and Southwest, especially in New Mexico and West Texas, which seem to be under constant red-flag warnings.
On today's The Lead Live!
Another big show with Kerr Economic Development Corp.'s Theresa Metcalf telling us about career signing day. Ashley Phillips, who has a storm-on-the-show card, will stop by and tell us about HCTC stuff. And Julie Davis of the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau will give us updates about the week ahead. Andrew Gay will provide a market update at the top of the show.
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Don't forget to stop by Mustang Sally's, 1523 Water Street, today from noon to 5 p.m. and tell them The Lead sent you. Check out some of their marvelous home decor ideas.
On today's agenda
- Kerrville City Council — City Hall, 6 p.m.
- Ecstatic dance — Mystical Musings, 7 p.m. Information: 830-955-5590 The details: What is ecstatic dance? How do you do it? Want to find out? Then join us at Mystical Musings for a free class on what Ecstatic Dance IS! We hope you'll join us as Cam de Welles leads the class.
- 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.
- KACC Exhibits (Recurring through Saturday) — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: https://www.kacckerrville.com The details: "Monday Painters" members of the Monday Artists painters group exhibit, Paintings by Laura Roberts, "Guadalupe Watercolor Group" judged watercolor exhibit by members of the GWG. Artist reception April 30th, 1–3 p.m.
Yeah, so about that City Council meeting
The Kerrville City Council could be in for another long meeting on Tuesday night as the never-ending struggle over the timing of the city's election is brought up again.
An ethics complaint by former City Councilman George Baroody against Mayor Bill Blackburn on the final night of his term will undoubtedly bring some of the underlying tensions on the Council to the forefront because City Councilman Roman Garcia sponsored the agenda item.
In a letter to the City Council, Baroody complained that Blackburn called him a liar during an April 18 meeting. Here is what Blackburn said:
"Mr. Baroody, I have a question for you," Blackburn asked during comments from the public — a period when the Council is usually quiet. "Several council meetings ago, you sent the message that you had a message from the Secretary of State's office saying that we should change the date of our election from May until November, as it turned out that was not true."
Blackburn referred to Baroody's comments from a Feb. 8, 2022 meeting. In that meeting, Baroody implied that the Secretary of State's ruling was that Kerrville couldn't hold its municipal election in May, but had to hold it in November.
"I'm sincere when I say I'm disappointed that I have to be here today on this particular topic," Baroody said. "I was hoping, maybe naively, that the problem would be corrected, but it has not. As I emailed you earlier, you have the backup for this, basically you're looking at a resolution to order an election and the first two whereases kind of prove my point. The first whereas points out that the charter establishes the two-year term of office for each council member until a successor is elected. The second whereas is totally false. It says the terms of office for mayor and councilmember Place 3, and councilmember Place 4 will expire in May of 2022.
"As I gave to you earlier, I would have added two wherases in between to say whereas Texas Election Code 2.001 requires all elected offices to be filled by a candidate receiving a plurality of a vote of a properly held election, and whereas case law in Spears vs. Davis, and the Secretary of State election division confirmed, term of office when not fixed to the date of its beginning and ending by Constitution or statute begins in the case of elected office on the date of election."
Baroody's fight over the election found support from Garcia, who made a failed motion to move the election to November. Garcia previously tangled with City Attorney Mike Hayes over the issue last year.
The Lead learned there is a movement to show support for Blackburn on his final night. In past meetings, residents have shown up to support others under fire, including Hayes, who was the subject of an attempted closed-session discussion by Garcia.
Kerr County Commissioners tackle gravel
During the race for Kerr County Commissioner Court Precinct 2, candidate Stan Kubenka argued that gravel pits are one of the most significant issues facing the county, especially those near the Guadalupe River.
On Monday, despite some hand-wringing about costs, the court unanimously approved an effort to try to retain consultant Jill Shackelford, who has led a working group that bridges between property owners and mining operators about how to mitigate the pits best.
"I don't think our group out here locally truly has the expertise to address that," Kubenka told the court about Strickland's ability to bring the two sides together to discuss a potentially contentious issue. "I think another six months to a year is well worth it because we will get more solutions. That's what has been lacking all of these years. It's that we didn't have solutions, we had yelling."
Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly formed the aggregate production operations committee to connect residents and operators better. The committee came in the wake of previously held meetings that did devolve into shouting matches. The court hired Shackelford to help bridge the divide, and Kelly wanted her to continue the work.
Kelly helped craft an 11-member board with stakeholders from neighbors, operators, and public officials that Shackleford facilitates.
"I've had nothing but positive feedback from this work," said Precinct 2 Commissioner Beck Gibson, who currently represents an area with the most mining impact. "(Shackleford) is a key component of keeping the peace. I could see how that could blow up real easy."
Residents who spoke at Monday's meeting said the process of working with Shackleford has been helpful.
Kubenka said the process has been so positive that he believed that Kerr County was creating a statewide template for managing the potentially contentious process between operators and neighbors.
With the court's approval, the county will negotiate to continue Shackleford's work with the county.
Kerr County looks at the future of the airport
Officials with the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport briefed the Kerr County Commissioner's Court on Monday about impending hangar improvements. The court approved a new member of the airport's board of directors.
Airport Manager Mary Rohrer presented two significant hangar projects in the works. Rohrer said the airport would use a $600,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, and more than $150,000 from the city and county, to build hangars to house four additional airplanes. The airport will cover the remaining cost of the $900,000 project. The initial estimate was the project would cost $1.7 million, but the airport board and Rohrer worked to scale it back to contain costs.
"It's important for us to keep based aircraft at the airport because they are our airport community," Rohrer told the court. "They also support our airport businesses. They purchase fuel. They take care of goods and services we do at the field. They are what I call good tenants."
The court approved the appointment of Robert Hamm Jr., a retired Air Force colonel, to the airport board.
In other court news:
- The court unanimously approved a county-wide burn ban.
- The court split on the move to sell fireworks for Memorial Day Weekend. Commissioners Don Harris and Harley Belew favored the plan, as long as no rockets and other airborne fireworks were sold, but that plan was defeated by a 3-2. vote.
The abortion divide
We conducted an informal survey about the possible reversal of Roe Vs. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks — all of this in the wake of a leak of a brief by Justice Samuel Alito. While we don't feel the survey reflects how Kerr County thinks about the issue, we do sense some agreement in the other parts of the survey. Here are our findings:
- Of the 79 respondents, 83% said they did not favor overturning Roe vs. Wade. That's higher than we expect, considering the conservative nature of the community.
- Of the response, 48% said they favored abortion access; yet another 37% said they believed abortion should be legal with limitations.
- Considering the wording of Alito's opinion — specifically, the reference to abortion does not appear in the Constitution — our survey said 65% thought it was possible the reversal could lead to other rollbacks like gay marriage protection or contraception access.
- However, when it comes to gay marriage, 91% of our respondents said they support it.
- On rolling back contraception, 97.5% said they are opposed to banning contraception.
- And 100% of those surveyed said they would never favor banning interracial marriage.
But what would the ruling look like if other states keep abortion legal and states — like Texas — ban it altogether?
We seem to be moving into unchartered grounds for the abortion question. Still, many suggest that it's plausible that some states will codify abortion rights while others make it a criminal offense.
Longtime journalist and Politico contributor Jeff Greenfield finds it hard to imagine a Republican majority in Congress allowing the states to have different laws — that's if they can gain a majority and the White House in 2025.
"The same polarization that has effectively weeded out pro-abortion rights Republicans and anti-abortion Democrats in Washington means that GOP candidates will be positioning themselves harder and harder to win the support of social conservatives, for whom "leave it to the states" will be weak tea," Greenfield wrote in a piece last week.
However, Missouri is cooking up a law prohibiting interstate travel for abortions for its residents. Another question is how that would stand up against the Constitution's right to interstate travel. Reuters explored that that would mean: "Such laws will likely be challenged as violations of the U.S. Constitution's Dormant Commerce Clause, which prohibits undue burdens on interstate commerce, or the right to travel, according to legal experts."
The Texas Tribune reported that state lawmakers are considering a plan to go after those who fund trips for out-of-state abortions. https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/09/texas-republicans-roe-wade-abortion-adoptions/
High-speed internet comes to low-income families
On Monday, President Joe Biden announced a plan to cap broadband access costs for low-income families or those making less than $46,000 per year. The cap is $30 per household for 100 megabits of download speed. Spectrum is one of the companies that said it would provide the service.
Some unique events to pay attention to over the coming days
- The Texas Exes Kerr County Chapter Thirsty Thursday — Comanche Trace Vista Room and Gallery, 5:30 p.m. Information: email@example.com or M'lissa Hayes at 830-285-9411 https://kerrcountychapterlonghorngreats.eventbrite.com The Details: The event features a charcuterie board, cash bar, auction and special guests. The highlights will be Longhorns football coach David McWilliams, former football players Quan Cosby and John Fuquay, and Ty Harrington, a former UT baseball player who retired from Texas State as their coach with the most-ever victories.
- Rockets2022 — Segner Ranch, Stonewall, 8 a.m. Information: https://www.greateventseats.com/events.php?lID=92 The details: Students from 19 Texas high schools will launch 50 rockets they designed and built, as part of the culminating event for SystemsGo. There is no fixed launch schedule. Rockets will go up during all daylight hours, in the order, they are certified prepared for launch and recovery. Categories will include launching a one-pound payload one mile high or to achieve the speed of sound.
- Kerr Konnect — Kerr Konnect Office, 610 Methodist Encampment Rd., 10 a.m. to noon. Information: 830-315-5377. The details: Learn about all of the offerings from Kerr Konnect and how you can make a difference in someone's life.
- Music in the Garden — Glory Community Garden, 5:30 p.m. Information: 804-514-7145 The details: Join your friends for a relaxing evening of live music, free food and refreshments in the Garden. Sponsored by Pint & Plow. Bring a chair or blanket and join your neighbors and friends!