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The Lead May 31, 2022: Memorial Day remembers those who sacrificed in Kerr County

The Kerrville City Council preps to tackle short-term rentals.

Good morning, Kerr County!

We are ending May in record fashion — one many of us would like to forget. Today's forecast high of 93 degrees will give us 23 days this month with temperatures over 90 degrees — and, by the way, the heatwave continues into next week. Barring a last-second rainstorm, we will finish the month with six-tenths of an inch of rain. The drought is no joke. We will end May with six consecutive months where we have not recorded an inch of rain in that month.

On today's The Lead Live!

Paul Huchton will chat with us about his work in insurance, but he's also got a wide range of interests. Also joining us is American Red Cross meteorologist Richard McAllister, who will give us an early hurricane update. Andrew Gay of Texas Hill Country Advisors to provide us with an update on the markets.

Today's newsletter is sponsored by

Plan your day

Kerrville Folk Festival

Starting at 8 p.m. in Threadgill Theater

  • Seth Glier and Steve Seskin
  • Possessed by Paul James

Recurring exhibits and shows

  • 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: 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: 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.
  • Southwest Gourd Show — Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information: The details: See some of the finest examples of gourd-based art and uses during this unique exhibit that runs through July 9.

Trying to get a handle on short-term rentals

The Kerrville City Council and the city's planning and zoning commission will hold a joint meeting Thursday to discuss managing short-term rentals, including a possible moratorium.

The two bodies will meet at 2 p.m. on Thursday at City Hall to discuss options on managing the influx of short-term rentals — there are currently more than 70 with conditional-use permits, but the number may be far higher. Short-term or vacation rentals have become a flashpoint for the City Council and planning and zoning — offering competing ideas about their approval.

The issue has frequently split the planning and zoning commission, which rejected some permits. The City Council overturned those decisions, citing property-owner compliance with the city's existing short-term rental ordinance.

Thursday's agenda features a discussion about zoning, permitting and a possible moratorium. The tricky part is that there's a clear demand for the properties. VRBO, one of the online booking sites, reports only a handful of rentals available for this weekend — many commanding more than $200 a night or higher.

The questions over property rights and the rights of neighbors, who have a promise in the city's 2050 plan to maintain a neighborhood's character, are certainly to be a focal point of the conversation.

Speaking of property rights

The intense battles over Kerrville's development will continue in Thursday's 4 p.m. planning and zoning meeting, which follows the joint council meeting.

The planning and zoning commission will see the preliminary plats for a 41-home development and then a second presentation on a massive 1,600-unit housing project in southeast Kerrville.

In northwest Kerrville, the 41 homes are part of the Cibola Trails development along Coronado Drive. Initially rejected by the planning and zoning commission, the City Council overturned that decision.

The other project, dubbed The Reserve at Kerrville, was discussed in last month's planning and zoning commission. Chairman Mike Sigerman was troubled by the number of variances requested by the developers. Comanche Trace residents have sent numerous letters opposing the project.

Catching up with Rich Paces

Rich Paces will be the next Precinct 2 commissioner on the Kerr County Commissioners' Court, barring a last-minute write-in candidate. Paces won Tuesday's runoff against fellow Republican Sonya Hooten, but the Uvalde elementary school shooting overshadowed the election results.

After nearly a year of campaigning, Paces said he's ready to take some time off before the November general election.

"I knocked on the doors of over 1,200 voters," Paces said. "That was for the second time for many of them."

Paces said he's also trying to figure out two of his volunteer loves — a volunteer firefighter and a builder with Habitat for Humanity.

If elected, Paces won't take office until next year and will have to watch from the sidelines as the county wrestles with a general obligation bond to upgrade aging facilities. Paces, however, said he's worried about rising inflation limiting the county's ability to build the projects correctly.

He's also thinking about getting ready to move into the job.

"I've got a lot of time to start meeting with folks," Paces said. "Getting up to speed."

Memorial Day remembered at court house

Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly reading "In Flanders Fields."

More than 300 people gathered Monday to pay their respects to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It was a time to remember Kerr County's war dead and for those who have loved or known someone who has paid the price to protect American freedom.

One of the highlights was Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly reading "In Flanders Fields,'' the World War I-era poem describing the horrors of the battlefield in Belgium and France.

The day's keynote speaker was retired Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, a former commander of the Army's elite 10th Mountain Division. Oates spoke of the sacrifice of two soldiers under his command, including a woman who was a signals intelligence specialist, whose instincts and analytical mind proved indispensable on the battlefield.

Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael Oates was Monday's keynote speaker.

"During their time in service to our country they repeatedly made the choice to live an honorable life, support their buddies and perform tasks that many of us would find savory or frightening; often far from home and family," said Oates, who now calls Kerr County home.

The service ended with playing the anti-slavery hymn "Amazing Grace," a performance of taps, a ceremonial volley of shots and a laying of wreaths, including an odd inclusion of Confederate groups for a holiday founded as a way to honor Union Army war dead. Confederate Memorial Day is commemorated in January in Texas.

The drumbeat of support stands tall for Phipps

Rick Phipps is on his way to recovering from COVID-19, but it wasn't easy.

Rick Phipps doesn't remember nearly two months of 2021. Some would argue that it's a miracle he can remember anything at all after a fight with COVID-19 nearly claimed his life. Phipps has called Kerrville home for 40 years and, in that time, formed some deep friendships.

Those relationships were displayed Saturday at Schreiner University during The Beat Goes On — a benefit concert to help Phipps in his COVID-19 recovery.

"I still don't have my sense of smell or taste back," Phipps said.

But what Phipps has back is his sense of rhythm — he's a drummer. Phipps played in a reunion with his buddies in "Harry and the Hightones" and performed with the Zion Lutheran Praise Team and the band Exit 505.

Phipps does remember some specifics for the last year — specifically Sept. 12. That's when he went into Peterson Regional Medical Center at the behest of his daughter, an emergency room physician.

From that day, Phipps spent nearly two months hospitalized in Kerrville and San Antonio, including two intubations and two long periods in intensive care. And to make matters worse, the 76-year-old Phipps took precautions against COVID-19, including vaccinations.

However, now he's back — working. Phipps has spent most of his life working in radio. He's had a hand in developing most of Kerr County's radio stations through the years, and is currently running a nonprofit station called 104.9 FMLP. The work drives him.

But looking around Saturday at the Robbins Lewis Pavillion, Phipps certainly drove many people to give him some love and support as he digs his way out of a mountain of hospital bills. He's not sure how much it will be, but $100,000 is his current liability for his medical treatments.

Phipps isn't worried about the money; he's just grateful for a second chance to keep playing music — as they said The Beat Goes On.


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