The Lead Nov. 9, 2022: Kerr County voters say yes to new animal shelter; library controversy rages on

Councilmember Brenda Hughes pushes back against library attacks.

Good morning, Kerr County!

This morning, we should see some partly cloudy conditions before giving way to highs in the upper 70s. The good news is we're headed for a substantial cooldown. There's a chance of thunderstorms on Friday, but temperatures for Saturday's Veterans Day Parade at Louise Hays Park will be cool — like low 60s.

On Today's The Lead Live!

We continue our conversations with veterans this week, and our guest host is Jennyth Peterson, a retired U.S. Army officer. She's interviewing retired Lt. Col William Sole — a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Sole not only served in the U.S. Army but he spent a large part of his post-military career working at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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.

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.

Dogs and cats are a big winner; Kerr County voters say yes to animal shelter — and that's it

Kerr County voters rejected a plan to upgrade the courthouse and the Hill Country Youth Event Center, but they said yes to a $5 million animal shelter on Tuesday night.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop. A and Prop. B, but Prop. C passed by about 10 points. It was a validating moment for Kerrville Pets Alive, which had supporters at the polls throughout the election.

The defeat, however, will leave Kerr County commissioners with the challenge of resolving their unfunded mandates to improve the county's jury room. The state requires counties with six jurors to move to 12, but won't pay for it.

Kerr County's plan, three years in the making, was to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on security upgrades to the courthouse and relocate the tax office to a church just north of the courthouse campus on Earl Garrett Street.

However, voters were unconvinced by the need and rejected Prop. A by 17% points — 58%-41%. They were also unconvinced by the plea for improvements to the agriculture barn at the Hill Country Youth Event Center. Voters said no by 15% points — 57%-42%. Built in 1983, with volunteer labor, the dirt-floored barn needs an overhaul, but the $8 million price tag seemed steep to voters.

The defeat of the bonds was a win for incoming Precinct 2 Commissioner Rich Paces and "We the People, Liberty In Action." Paces campaigned tirelessly for their defeat, arguing the timing was terrible and that there were better ways to do the job. "We the People, Liberty in Action" sent out mailers urging voters to reject the bonds.

How that job will get done will probably fall on Paces when he's sworn into office on Jan. 1.

In Precinct 4, voters re-elected William Ragsdale as the Justice of the Peace. Ragsdale defeated write-in candidate Dwight Snider.

Across Texas, Republicans continued their grip on statewide offices by issuing a clean sweep of all the key state offices. With 65% reporting, Gov. Greg Abbott decisively defeated challenger Beto O'Rourke — holding a 15%-point lead over the El Paso Democrat. The same margin was true across all of the state offices.

Dawn Buckingham, who formerly represented Kerr County in the Texas Senate, won one of the most important offices in the state — Texas Land Commissioner. Pete Flores will now represent Kerr County in the Texas Senate District 24 after an easy win. Andy Murr won a fifth term in the Texas House of Representatives District 53.

Banned books make their return — dramatically

Kerrville City Councilmember Brenda Hughes was over the discussion about books at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library — over the constant barrage of emails, veiled threats and sanctimonious outrage expressed at every City Council meeting since September.

Standing at the dais, Hughes held up books and thundered in a rare way for the ordinarily staid Council.

"I got a lot of books from the library," said Hughes as she started placing books on the marble desk. "There's the Bible. There's pornography in the Bible. There's bestiality. There's rape in the Bible. Let's take every book. Look, there's a Holocaust book, the pages are marked with pornography, sexual. There's all kind of books, I've got a whole thing here."

After sitting through more than four hours of a meeting, which featured more than an hour of impassioned pleas to move books, discipline the library staff, review library books in the future and not affiliate the library with the American Library Association, Hughes had had enough.

"I have a list here of high-circulating authors whose books contain sexual content; there's a whole list," Hughes said. "Those have not been addressed."

Hughes then described "Captain Underpants," a frequently banned or complained about children's book, and pointed out a key statistic: "Captain Underpants has been checked out of our library 683 times."

The genesis of this latest battle in cultural wars, usually over sexual content, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, is sweeping across Texas — fueled by a concerted effort to remove books from schools and libraries.

The latest manifestation of the library controversy, from the one that first emerged out of a "Banned Book" week display in September, arrived in the form of a petition led by Barbara Dewell-Ferguson. With the support of Councilmember Roman Garcia, who excoriated his fellow Councilmembers for not taking action on the matte previously, Dewell-Ferguson gathered more than 1,000 signatures to try to force the Council to act on moving books and holding the library staff accountable for the display.

Dewell-Ferguson's primary argument was that the librarians committed a crime by displaying sexually graphic material in front of children — the Kerrville Police Department took a report but said they could not find a crime. Dewell-Ferguson played a delicate game of trying not to say that the library should remove the books while advocating for accountability for the library staff.

It was an argument also proffered by Garcia.

"I don't understand why Council doesn't want to discuss this and take action that we find necessary," Garcia said. "People will say that's there only a few people who are a loud minority bringing this up, but I think that's mistakenly portrayed. When you look at how many votes it takes for one member to get on Council, it's about 1,000 to 2,000, and we just heard there were over 1,000 signatures.

Garcia said the lack of action from the City Council should make his colleagues question why they were serving.

Councilmember Joe Herring Jr. spoke sternly with many in the room, including Garcia.

"And Roman, we have taken action," Herring Jr. said. "We just haven't taken action like you wanted us to take."

Ultimately, Mayor Judy Eychner motioned to have the library advisory board review the library's collection policies and procedures and bring back a report to the City Council. That passed unanimously.

It's parade season in Kerr County

We've got a pair of parades headed our way starting this weekend with the Kerrville Veterans Day Parade, followed by the Nov. 19 Kerrville Lighted Christmas Parade.

The Veterans Parade will start at 9 a.m. along Cully Drive near the Riverhills Mall, and then make its way into Louise Hays Park, where there will be food trucks and other entertainment. The Veterans Parade has been a lengthy project led by Jeff Harris, a former Marine, and Michael Sigerman. Many others are involved, but this is an important community event to honor a significant part of our community.

Here's the lineup for Saturday's parade through Louise Hays Park:

  • KPD lead car – Jonathan Lamb
  • Tivy High School JROTC
  • Grand Marshall – Mac Anderson
  • Turtle Creek VFD
  • Tivy High School band
  • Vietnam Veterans of America, Hill Country Chapter #863
  • Ranch Radio Group
  • Ingram ISD band
  • Gunny's Warriors
  • Kerrville State Hospital
  • Center Point ISD band
  • HCTC
  • JAM Broadcasting
  • BK Cosmo
  • AmVets
  • American Legion 208
  • Center Point VFD

Kerrville's Lighted Christmas Parade, always a highlight, features many entries. The parade starts at 6 p.m. on Water Street, running west to Earl Garrett Street.

Poll finds coolness to political violence

A University of Chicago poll outlines partisan divisions in America while showing common concerns. It also showed that achieving change through violence isn't as popular as some Civil War fantasists believe.

The poll, conducted with more than 3,000 adults over three days in September, found that 46% of Republicans surveyed believed President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election from former President Donald Trump. Another 20% of Independents considered the election stolen.

But when it came to perceptions about the Jan. 6 riot or the use of force to return Trump to power, the resolve of Republicans was muted. The poll found that 16% of Jan. 6 participants were patriots, while 7% of Republicans said utilizing violence to restore Trump's presidency was acceptable.

Republicans, however, did agree that the best way to return Trump to the White House was at the ballot box, and 45% said they would vote for him even if he were not longer a member of the Republican Party.

Predictably, Democrats agreed violence was not the solution, and they overwhelmingly rejected a Trump presidency. Where the two sides found commonality was on the economy. The poll found 20% of Democrats, 21% of Republicans and 24% of independents were concerned about losing their paychecks.

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