Good morning, Kerr County!
Hot. That's about all we can say about the weather today. The norm for us will be temperatures in the low to mid-90s for the next seven to 10 days. The National Weather Service is suggesting that the weekend's forecast could even hotter as high pressure builds: "As the trough move to the east mid-level high pressure builds once more over Texas by late Saturday allowing for a warming trend in the models with triple-digit heat returning for another weekend across parts of South Central Texas."
On today's The Lead Live!
We welcome back Rachel Fitch. She's been out for the last few weeks, and she's ready to storm back onto the show, as only Rachel knows. As with our previous conversations, Rachel and Louis will probably wander off in many directions today. So, join us at 9 a.m.
Today's newsletter is sponsored by:
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.
Kerrville says thank you for Mayor Bill Blackburn's service
Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn drops the gavel for the final time as mayor.
Tuesday night's City Council was supposed to be the triumphant end to Bill Blackburn's four years as Kerrville's mayor, and in many ways, this final act may have exceeded expectations.
In the face of a distracting ethics complaint sponsored by City Councilman Roman Garcia, Blackburn was lauded for his service by nearly a dozen speakers, seemingly shaking off an accusation that his behavior was unfitting for a mayor.
It was a routine meeting — only four things on the agenda of substance — but it was one filled with distraction, thanks to Garcia and persistent gadfly George Baroody, who demanded a personal apology from Blackburn and the City Council for the mayor's behavior.
Former City Councilman and persistent critic George Baroody demanded an apology from Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn on Tuesday night.
Kerrville City Councilman Roman Garcia explained why he brought an ethics complaint against Mayor Bill Blackburn on Tuesday night.
Baroody lodged a complaint against Blackburn when the mayor took an unusual tact on April 12 of questioning Baroody's claims about the municipal election. This controversy has mired the City Council in arguments for months. In most cases, the City Council remains quiet during the citizen comments part of meetings, but not on that night.
Baroody, attired in a Kerrville baseball jersey, said the mayor's comments defamed his father and grandfather. Baroody, a former City Councilman, said the sole focus of the ethics complaint was to hold the mayor accountable.
"All I care about is my name," Baroody said. "I don't think it's appropriate for a sitting mayor to attack a citizen."
Baroody said City Council meetings should be a safe space for citizens to express themselves. However, Baroody has almost always accused, questioned or attacked the city staff and City Council during the public comments.
- On April 12, just before Blackburn's question, Baroody questioned the financing of the city's proposed bond measure — arguing that the city was misleading voters on the bond's actual cost. Here's the comment that set Baroody off: "Mr. Baroody, I have a question for you," Blackburn asked. "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."
- Baroody spoke three times during the March 8 meeting, including accusing the city of violating state law.
- On Feb. 8, at the meeting referenced by Blackburn, Baroody spoke four times, accusing the city of violating the law on the election, not properly disclosing the debt service on the bond and then falsely accusing the city of raising property taxes by 20% to pay for the new public safety building.
- On Nov. 8, 2021, with Garcia's backing, Baroody proposed moving the municipal election to November 2022. In that meeting, Baroody argued that the city wasn't following its charter by returning its elections to May in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This touched off a testy Council discussion, including an off-the-record argument between Garcia and City Attorney Mike Hayes.
Tuesday night's discussion had the potential to devolve into a real shouting match, but Blackburn reined it and brought the meeting back. Despite points of order, a speech by Garcia urging civility and nine speakers speaking in support of Blackburn, the City Council took no action about the ethics complaint.
Before that happened, perhaps reading the room, Baroody left City Hall, leaving Garcia alone to fend for himself to explain why he championed the discussion.
Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn shows off a gavel on his final night on the City Council.
The night proved to be a fitting send-off for Blackburn, who helped the city navigate the coronavirus pandemic, which granted him extraordinary emergency powers — something rarely seen by other mayors in Kerrville history. Reading from a prepared statement, Blackburn said it had been an honor and privilege to serve the city. He said he had no intention of getting in the way of the new City Council and Mayor-elect Judy Eychner, who will become the city's 60th mayor. Blackburn said his post-mayoral work would continue to advocate for the city's natural beauty and environmental causes. He also plans to write a book about serving as a small-town mayor.
Blackburn received accolades from many speakers throughout the meeting, some tearing up when discussing his service. Blackburn won the election in 2018 by defeating incumbent Bonnie White; he then defeated challenger David Barker in 2020. An unashamed Democrat in redder than red Kerr County, Blackburn championed small business and economic development during his tenure. The city landed several major businesses, including Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, which is currently ramping up its avionics work.
As he leaves office, Kerrville still faces numerous challenges, most notably affordable housing. However, Blackburn said he worked his hardest to make Kerrville a kinder place, and that is where his legacy may last the longest.
To see more photos from Bill Blackburn's final night as mayor visit our photo gallery: https://thekerrcountyleadphotography.zenfoliosite.com/zg/kerrville-mayor-bill-blackburns-final-meeting
Markets and Sales
- 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.
- Kerr County Produce Market Day — The Big Red Barn, 10 a.m., Information: 830-896-7330 The details: Kerr County Produce Market Day (The Big Red Barn). Local Hill Country wholesale warehouse distributor for the finest fruits and vegetables. Open to the public.
Exhibitions and the Arts
These events are recurring
- 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.
- Father and Son — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, Ingram, 6 p.m. Information: 936-554-8326
- 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.
- The Texas Exes Kerr County Chapter Thirsty Thursday — Comanche Trace Vista Room and Gallery, 5:30 p.m. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.