The Lead May 18, 2022: Kerrville City Council introduces its new look, new mayor

Judy Eychner officially becomes Kerrville's 60th mayor.

Good morning, Kerr County!

As we put the final touches on our newsletter Tuesday, we realized the temperature at 10 p.m. temperature was still 84 degrees. It's going to be a long summer. Anyway, today's high will be 97, and we start the day cloudy before that burns off, and then the winds kick in later in the afternoon. The rest of the week looks about the same before seeing a potential thunderstorm on Saturday night. That could help cool things down a bit next week — but just a smidge.

On today's The Lead Live!

It's WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY with Rachel Fitch on today's episode. We have no idea what Rachel wants to discuss, but we expect it to be all over the map. Join us at 9 a.m.

Today's newsletter is sponsored by

Quick takes around Kerr County

  • B.K. Gamble is the new executive director of the Doyle School Community Center. The center's board of directors announced the appointment on Monday — only telling The Kerrville Daily Times.
  • Kerr Economic Development Corp.'s Theresa Metcalf presented a new website that helps connect employers and job seekers. The site is called There's a handful of jobs listed on the website, which is still undergoing development.
  • Real estate agent Lynn Niles was our guest on Tuesday's The Lead Live and said she's noticing a trend where out-of-town buyers are entering into contracts to purchase houses but continue to shop. "They do not fully intend to buy them, but they think, well, this is the best I can get at the moment, and so they put them under a contract which may leave other folks at the wayside well above asking and then they continue to look and if they find something they like better, they withdraw from their own," said Niles, adding that this is an example of why it's essential for pre-approval on loans before purchasing.
  • On Monday's first day of early voting, 345 Republicans cast their ballots in Kerr County, and 20 Democrats showed up. An auspicious start. The race isn't as important to Democrats — there are some key primary battles — as it is to Republicans.

National Police Week

Thanks to a scheduling conflict, we were unable to attend Monday's National Police Week Memorial Day Ceremony at the Cailloux Theater. Here are some of the photos shared by the Kerrville Police Department and the Kerr County Sheriff's Office.

Kerr County Sheriff's Office
May 16, 2022 ·

National Police Week is May 15-21, we honor and remember those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the family members, friends and fellow officers they left behind. This week is set aside to remember the peace makers who gave sacrificially of themselves. Their memory will live on in those who continue to serve.

The Kerrville Police Department commemorated National Peace Officers Memorial Day this morning at the Cailloux Theater. They invited KCSO and other law enforcement agencies to join them with lowering of flags along the Cailloux's outdoor plaza. Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall then read out the names of 20 Texas law enforcement officers who have recently lost their lives.

May 15, 2021, has been designated, by proclamation of the President, as National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. President John F. Kennedy signed the first proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day.

City of Kerrville, TX – City Hall
May 16, 2022 ·


The Kerrville Police Department commemorated National Peace Officers Memorial Day this morning at the Cailloux Theater with a lowering of flags along the Cailloux's outdoor plaza. Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall then read out the names of 20 Texas law enforcement officers who have recently lost their lives as the department and attending citizens, city staff and council members paid their respects to our fallen law enforcement family members.

Please take time every day to thank our law enforcement personnel for their service and dedication to keeping our community safe!

Plan your day ahead

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Family History

  • Genealogy — Guadalupe Basin Natural Resources Center, 2 p.m. Information: 830-377-9940 The details: Nancy McLarry will give a speech on life with the Chickasaw.

Markets and Sales

  • Friends of the Library Book Sale — Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, 1–3 p.m. Information: 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.

Eychner takes the reins of Kerrville City Council as the 60th mayor

Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner takes the oath of office from Judge Steven Ables, as her husband George holds the Bible, during a City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Judy Eychner made it clear Tuesday night that she wants to keep moving forward, setting aside the conflicts that have roiled Kerrville's City Council over the last year, but she was the first to admit there's plenty of work ahead.

Kerrville ushered in a new City Council on Tuesday night at Arcadia Live, one where Eychner takes over as mayor for Bill Blackburn. Eychner becomes Kerrville's 60th mayor, and she has a commanding position with a solid majority in her corner to direct the city for the next two years.

Eychner takes her seat as Kerrville's 60th mayor.

"I appreciate the vote of confidence you have given us," Eychner said during brief remarks after taking her seat as mayor. "We are going to be moving forward."

Eychner took her oath of office with her husband, George, holding a family Bible. She becomes the third woman to serve as mayor. Joining her on the City Council is incumbent Brenda Hughes at Place 4 and new Place 3 Councilman Joe Herring Jr., who returns to the City Council 30 years removed from his first term as mayor.

Tuesday night's meeting served as the official certification of the election and a final sendoff for Blackburn, who served two terms and chose not to seek a third. About 100 people attended a reception for Blackburn and councilmembers and city staff praised him for his work ethic, leadership and kindness.

Former Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn.

City Attorney Mike Hayes was emotional in describing Blackburn's commitment to the city and staff. Lauded with gifts and praise, Blackburn could barely speak when presented with a park bench, now sited along the Guadalupe River Trail next to the Glen Rest Cemetery, the burial place of Blackburn's grandson.

In the waning moments of the meeting, after Judge Steven Ables, the presiding judge of the Sixth Administrative Judicial District, administered the oaths of office when Blackburn quietly made his exit.

Brenda Hughes was all smiles as she completed the oath of office for her second term on the City Council. To her right is Hughes' husband, Buzzie.

Joe Herring Jr., with his wife Carolyn, returns to the City Council for the first time in 30 years. Herring served as mayor for two years from 1992 to 1994.

The meeting then shifted to brief remarks from Herring and Hughes.

Herring praised the opponents in the race and those who voted in the May 7 election. Like Herring, Hughes promised to serve the city to the best of her ability.

"It has been an honor to serve the city in my first term," Hughes said. "It's a privilege for me."

Eychner's said her focus remains on implementing the city's comprehensive plan — also known as Kerrville 2050. There are challenges ahead for the City Council, including an impending discussion about the future of short-term rentals and housing. Just last week, the Kerrville planning and zoning commission got its first look at what is probably the largest housing project in the city's history — the 1,600 housing units proposed near Comanche Trace.

"We are going to be faced with some new things that are a little bit outside what we normally face," Eychner said. "I call it the A to Z menu. We're going to be faced with annexation, and we're going to be faced with zoning. In between A and Z, we're going to have traffic and short-term rentals."

Judy Eychner provided a brief outline of what she believes will face the City Council in the years to come.

Eychner said the voter approval of the city's proposed $45 million public safety building is an important milestone.

"I'm delighted that the citizens have voted for a public safety building," Eychner said. "This is just outstanding. It gives us more purpose. It's going to be a challenge, but we're going to move forward with it and it's going to be fun."

Eychner also took time to single out the city's staff.

"Our city is in such a good place," Eychner said. "Financially, we're healthy. We have absolutely the best city staff in the state of Texas — bar none. They just can't be any better. They're professional. They care. They live here, and they work here. This is home to them too."

To see more photos from Tuesday night's meeting:

And there's still some tension to work with

Last week's curious ethics complaint, championed by City Councilman Roman Garcia, appears to be still a sticking point; for now, former Mayor Bill Blackburn — the subject of the complaint. Blackburn omitted Garcia's name from a list of City Council colleagues he worked with during his four years in office. Garcia noticed the snub and laughed. While Garcia offered brief remarks about the mayor's impact before the meeting, the two men have butted heads throughout Garcia's first year in office.

Place 1 City Councilman Roman Garcia smiles after former Mayor Bill Blackburn omitted Garcia's name from a list of Council members the mayor had worked with over four years.

The dust-up last week happened on what was Blackburn's last official meeting and then was exacerbated by a Kerrville Daily Times article that seemed to give credence to the ethics complaint. Blackburn described it as "being stabbed in the back," leading Daily Times Publisher Carlina Villalpando Daugherty to issue an apologetic editorial.

Wanting to tamp down on some of the City Council tension, Eychner said she wanted to promote, as she called it: "Wag More, Bark Less." That motto was made into a sticker and handed out after the meeting.

Brenda Hughes has a plan

Brenda Hughes thinks it's time for the city of Kerrville to consider its own animal shelter. After the latest incident involving an alleged animal hoarder, the Kerrville City Councilwoman said she intends to make it one of her top priorities as the new Council is seated.

"We have a retreat coming up next week and I want to introduce the idea of having a city animal shelter," Hughes said during a Tuesday appearance on The Lead Live.

Hughes is a founding member of Kerrville Pets Alive! and has been closely aligned with protecting animals for years, but now she's in a position to do something about it.

"We're just in a position where we need to step up our game." Hughes said.

The thinking comes on the heels of Hughes' involvement in helping Kerr County Animal Services with the care of 49 dogs — primarily chihuahuas — seized from a Kerr County residence last week. The dogs, several of them pregnant, overwhelmed KCAS, which leaned heavily on KPA! for assistance.

"We are stretched because all of the rescues are full," Hughes said.

Currently, the city of Kerrville holds an interlocal agreement with Kerr County to provide animal control, while the city offers library access to county residents. However, this isn't the first time a significant animal seizure has impacted KCAS — and probably won't be the last.

Hughes' work to strengthen Kerr County's animal advocacy will be felt at the ballot box in November when the Commissioners Court could place $30 million worth of bonds on the ballot. The bond would include a large animal shelter — if the voters agree. As Hughes says, the situation with animal seizures has become a seemingly regular occurrence.

"There were three dog seizures like in the last two months," Hughes said. "One was for four dogs, one was for 14 dogs, and now this one for 49 and it just really is an eye-opener to the problem that we have here in Kerr County and the fact that we're growing and the problem is only going to get worse. It validates the idea that the county desperately needs a new animal shelter."

COVID-19's long game continues

All around us, we're hearing warning signs that the COVID-19 threat remains viable, and this week it started to show signs of life again in Texas.

On Tuesday, Texas had more than 2,000 new cases, and positivity continued to tick upward — about 12% positivity for those taking the more sensitive molecular PCR test. The other metric to watch is hospitalizations — there are 803 Texans hospitalized currently with COVID-19. The hospitalization numbers have held since March.

In Kerr County, about 15 people have tested positive since May 1, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Peterson Regional Medical Center reported minimal COVID-19 impact over the last few weeks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Peterson had at least one person hospitalized on May 4.

One man fought COVID, and now the community is drumming up support

Those who know Rick Phipps will be the first to tell you no one would help them more than Phipps. Now Phipps needs some help after fighting COVID-19, resulting in a two-month intensive care unit stay.

The support is being drummed up in the community because Phipps is an accomplished drummer — playing with many Kerr County's bands. So, the bands are getting together to hold a benefit concert on May 28 at Schreiner University's Robbins-Lewis Pavillion.

Dubbed "The Beat Goes On," the fundraiser's musical lineup is:

  • Mole Kasberg Band.
  • Ray Gutierrez.
  • Exit 505 Band.
  • Carlos Dan and the Silver Bullets.
  • Harry and the Hightones.

Phipps is a prolific volunteer, but the battle with COVID-19 nearly cost him his life.

"Rick went on an annual vacation as he does with his wife, Stella, and he returned home early from that trip unfortunately and went to the hospital in mid-September," explained Misty Erlund, who is helping organize the fundraiser. "(Phipps) was taken to San Antonio for more treatment and over that time period, he was sedated, intubated, and brought back to life to health, you know, and he was taken to a rehab hospital in November and in December, three months later, he was released to go home and begin the rehab process there."

The organizers are still looking for donations and sponsors to help with the event. They have several sponsorship packages available. For more information:

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