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The Lead Nov. 16, 2022: How the Community Foundation helped rally support for Uvalde funds to be dispersed

The Kerrville-based organization helped lead the way to get money to the families in Uvalde in the wake of May 24 shooting.

Good morning, Kerr County!

There's not much change ahead in the weather for the next few days — cool and partly sunny. However, this weekend it looks like it will definitely be seasonable, with highs in the high 40s. The Kerrville Lighted Christmas Parade will feature some of the coolest temperatures of the season — so button up.

On today's The Lead Live!

After three weeks of other commitments, Rachel Fitch returns to The Lead for Wonderful Wednesday! The owner of Fitch Estate Sales and Gold Cup Pawn brings her enthusiasm back to the show — and we can certainly use it. Andrew Gay of Texas Hill Country Advisors updates us on the economy. Join us at 9 a.m.

You may notice this on the shelves at H-E-B

Robert Earl Keen graces the cover of the December edition of Texas Monthly, which followed the Kerrville-based singer-songwriter-musician on his final tour before his retirement in September.

Things to do today

The arts

  • Texas Furniture Makers Show — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Information: The details: Texas Furniture Makers' Show® is an annual statewide Competition of the Finest Custom Furniture Makers in Texas. The show is held at the beautiful Kerr Arts & Cultural Center.
  • Works We Love Show — Museum of Western Art, 10 a.m. Information: The details: "Works We Love," featuring Fred Harman, creator of "Red Ryder and Little Beaver." Also on display are works from our permanent collection.

College basketball

  • Schreiner University men (2-0) vs. Concordia University (Texas), 5:30 p.m. at Schreiner University.

Markets and sales

  • 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.
  • Art Mart — Hill Country Arts Foundation, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Dec. 17. Information: The details: The annual Hill Country Arts Foundation showcase of hand-made arts and crafts by area artists. Gift ideas that are perfect for holiday giving.

A massive shift in the hospital landscape

San Antonio-based Methodist Healthcare announced Tuesday it was acquiring Fredericksburg's Hill Country Memorial Hospital.

The move, expected to be completed next year, marks the largest foray of a major hospital organization into the Hill Country. In a news release, Hill Country Memorial said it sought a partnership with several healthcare organizations and saw Methodist as the best fit.

"We chose Methodist because of their strong commitment to quality and because of our aligned vision for the future of healthcare in the Hill Country," Hill Country Memorial CEO Jayne Pope said. "We look forward to being a part of Methodist Healthcare and continuing to provide remarkable care in the Hill Country."

Methodist Healthcare is a 50-50 co-ownership between Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., South Texas' largest non-public funding source of community health care for uninsured patients, and HCA Healthcare, the nation's leading provider of healthcare services.

"We believe this affiliation enables Hill Country Memorial to continue providing best-in-class care to the Hill Country region for years to come," said Allen Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Methodist Healthcare.

Methodist Healthcare employs more than 12,000 people in the San Antonio area, including more than 3,700 doctors.

Community Foundation helps lead distribution of Uvalde funds

After months of gathering funds for the victims of the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in May, 48 households impacted by the shooting will receive funds.

The Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and the San Antonio Area Foundation led an effort to hire the National Compassion Fund to distribute more than $22 million in donations gathered by seven organizations on behalf of the families.

The Community Foundation's CEO Austin Dickson said the hiring of the National Compassion Fund provides the mechanism for the money to be distributed equitably at the direction of a Uvalde-based steering committee. Dickson said it had not been an easy process; one met with national scrutiny in the wake of the shootings.

"When donations started coming in on the day of the crisis, we knew within a matter of hours we were getting a lot more donations than we normally handle," Dickson said. "We had no mechanism to give the money away. We were in a predicament."

Dickson said the Community Foundation is not allowed to give away grants to individuals, and others faced a similar problem of having no way to distribute the money fairly — or transparently.

The Community Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation partnered to bring in the National Compassion Fund, covering its fees, so no funds went to administrative costs. In turn, the National Compassion Fund formed a steering committee made up of Uvalde residents — but without school district employees or elected officials to help determine the payout to 448 families.

"Our community experienced significant loss and trauma on May 24, but— together with people from around the country and around the globe — we came together with incredible acts of generosity and compassion," Steering Committee Chair Mickey Gerdes said.

Dickson said it was essential to create a transparent process for how the money would be distributed, much of it trauma-informed in the approach. While money poured in from around the country, Dickson said the groups needed to understand how to pay it out. It was up to the Community Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation to convince the other groups, including the Robb School Memorial Fund, to pool the money together.

"We have simply been stewards of these funds committed to honoring the intent of more than 13,000 gracious donors to help those directly impacted by this tragedy," Gerdes said. "Although these donations could never make the survivors whole, we are hopeful these donations provide the recipients with some comfort knowing that there are many people who wanted to give something to help them in whatever way possible."

Where were the complaints six years ago?

A photo from 2016 shows the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library's "Banned Book Week" display.

After the spectacle of Monday morning's Kerr County Commissioner's Court meeting, we wanted to go back and see the history of the Banned Book Week observance at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library. Sure enough, at least two books Commissioners Harley Belew and Don Harris claimed were pornographic or "child porn" were displayed six years ago. And last year, the books were similar to this year's display, and there were no complaints. The top three last year were all related to LGBTQ+ themes. Of the books displayed, only "Gender Queer" had a single page dedicated to a graphic depiction of sex.

In 2016, the library's display featured the works of Salaman Rushdie, John Steinbeck, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien and a well-worn paperback version of "Fifty Shades of Grey," the tawdry erotic thriller.

The central argument of Belew and Harris is that the U.S. doesn't ban books, but it's frequently local governments where books are banished or restricted. While Belew and Harris railed against the American Library Association and the organization's Bill of Rights, they failed to mention the document's origins. The ALA's Bill of Rights creation came in 1939 in response to the Board of Supervisors in Kern County, Calif., banning Steinbeck's classic "The Grapes of Wrath," which some farmers burned.

Belew, in particular, argues that banned books are actually grooming tools for sexual predators. How he came up with that stretch of logic remains unclear, but the one thing that's clear by reading the text of a book called "Sex is a funny word," is that it advises children and teens to read the book with someone they trust. Additionally, that book addresses some who have tried to broach the subject with parents, only to have their efforts rebuffed.

An American Library Association guidance helps protect the commissioners' court

Thanks to guidance from the American Library Association, 48 states have policies protecting library patrons from requests about their library history. The Lead filed a public information request with the city of Kerrville to see which Kerr County Commissioners' Court members held library cards, but a state law protects patrons from disclosing their names. That might be a win for the ALA.

Just a friendly about FACTS and the ALA

The big scary of the library story is the American Library Association, and there are repeated calls to banish the organization from the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library — just one problem the library or the librarians don't belong to the group. Now, there are some influences — like the list, the ALA provides for Banned Book Week — but no, they're not members. The frequent criticism of the ALA is that lesbian Marxists run it. Well, that's the incoming president of an expansive executive board supported by a 100-member council of librarians. Harris and Belew called for the library to end its association with the ALA. It's hard to end something that you never belonged to in the first place.

By George! That's an interesting idea

OK, we admit that we give George Baroody a hard time for his constant questioning, but we have to credit him for a novel idea he presented Monday to the Kerr County Commissioners Court. Baroody suggested that the county make a deal with Kerrville's Economic Improvement Corporation to finance improvements at the Hill Country Youth Event Center in the wake of Proposition B failing at the polls last week. Baroody said the county could make the pitch that it would be a win-win for the city and county, with the economic impact of a revamped indoor arena being a driver. The EIC, which funds economic development projects in Kerrville, is sitting on more than $6 million for projects, but whether the city wants anything to do with the county is unlikely — at this point.

EIC update

Speaking of Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation, the body met Monday afternoon to discuss an array of projects, including the extension of the Guadalupe River Trail. The board agreed to provide the financing for a $1 million river trail extension on the northside of the Guadalupe River in Louise Hays Park. The new trail would connect from the river overlook to the ramp connecting Tranquility Island to the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library.

Kerr County Sheriff's Office hand out its awards

Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha speaks to law enforcement officers and deputies from around Kerr County on Nov. 10.

Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha hosted his annual awards and Thanksgiving-themed luncheon for deputies and other members of Kerr County's law enforcement community on Nov. 10 at Calvary Temple Church. Here are the sheriff's office award winners:

  • Corrections: Sgt. Jason Bruner and Corrections Officer Tad Stentz.
  • Patrol: Deputy Matthew Reusser and Cpl. Michael Holzapfel
  • 10 years of service: Cpl. David Chupp, Sgt. Alex Monroe and Deputy Loammi Tejeda
  • 20 years: Sgt. Belinda Cardona, Deputy Vincent Isley, Cpl. Amin Malek, Cpl. Christopher O'Keeffe
  • Master Peace Officer Certification: Cpl. Trudy Allen, Inv. Frank Bigler, Cpl. Amin Malek, Cpl. Christopher O'Keeffe, Sgt. Casey Spence.
  • Corrections Promotions: Zachary Fifer – Promoted to corporal; Jason Bruner – Promoted to sergeant
  • Patrol Promotions: Alex Monroe to sergeant; Trudy Allen to corporal; Mike Holzapfel to corporal
  • Criminal Investigation Division/Special Operations Division Promotions: Frank Bigler to CID Investigator; Robert Merritt to CID Investigator; Brandon Rowe to SOD Investigator
  • Life-saving Award: Deputy Brenden Portan
  • Division Awards: Brady Rosinbaum (Corrections); Deputy Loammi Tejeda (Patrol); Inv. Greg Longenbaugh (CID); Inv. Lucas Flores (SOD)
  • Sheriff's Commendable Service Award: Deputy Victoria Young
  • Employees of the Year: Olivia Montanez (Civilian); Katherine Nichols (Corrections); Lt. Scott Gaige (Deputy).

Rep. Andy Murr gets busy

While the next Texas legislative session doesn't start until January, representatives could start filing bills on Monday. District 53 Rep. Andy Murr, who represents Kerr County, filed 21 bills ranging from reducing property tax burdens to one that aims to curb abusive practices in health care homes.

  • HB38 Relating to the elimination of certain property taxes for school district maintenance and operations and the provision of public education funding by increasing the rates of certain state taxes.
  • HB 39 Relating to election fraud; increasing a penalty.
  • HB 73 Relating to landowner liability arising in connection with livestock or agricultural land.
  • HB 87 Relating to the presidential electors of this state.
  • HB 103 Relating to qualifications for a retired judge's appointment as a visiting judge to a constitutional county court.
  • HB 131 Relating to excused absences from public school for certain students to visit a professional's workplace for a career investigation day.
  • HB 149 Relating to the sale of park land owned by certain municipalities.
  • HB 162 Relating to minimum standards for prescribed burns.
  • HB 178 Relating to testing possible controlled substance evidence for fentanyl.
  • HB 207 Relating to the exclusion of certain conveyances from classification as sham or pretended sales.
  • HB 208 Relating to the punishment for certain controlled substance offenses committed in a drug-free zone; increasing criminal penalties.
  • HB 217 Relating to the limitation on the amount of a subcontractor's lien for labor or materials.
  • HB 225 Relating to increasing the maximum reference base amount for certain consumer loans.
  • HB 233 Relating to inservice training on identifying abuse, neglect, and illegal, unprofessional, and unethical conduct in certain health care facilities.
  • HB 248 Relating to solicitation of patients and other prohibited marketing practices and the establishment of the task force on patient solicitation; increasing criminal penalties.
  • HB 251 Relating to the payment of certain costs associated with certain assignments of a statutory probate court judge.
  • HB 260 Relating to the calculation of net to land in the appraisal of open-space land for ad valorem tax purposes.
  • HB 267 Relating to an interim study of the appraisal of agricultural land for ad valorem tax purposes.
  • HB 291 Relating to occupational driver's licenses and to the renewal of driver's licenses.
  • HB 299 Relating to creating a voluntary accreditation for recovery housing.


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