The Lead Oct. 3, 2022: Dogs rule blessings; Mayor, Judge try to resolve Kerr County library conflict

Good morning, Kerr County!

The hope for some precipitation from Hurricane Orlene, but it will provide some cloud cover today. The National Weather Service continues to describe our current weather trends as "quiet," but it also means sunny, warm and dry. In the end, that suggests drought conditions are heading back to Kerr County, especially after we had less than 1 inch of rain.

On today's The Lead Live!

We've got questions for Texas Hill Country Advisors Gilbert Paiz and Andrew Gay because we see plenty of potential mayhem in the European markets. Twitter blazed with speculation that Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank were on the brink of collapse. Credit Suisse's leaders told Bloomberg they see strength, but we'll ask our guys what they're reading, hearing and watching. The Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau's Leslie Jones gives up a preview of the jam-packed week ahead. Join us at 9 a.m.


That's right, if you get a chance say thanks to the hard-working folks at the Kerrville Public Utility Board as part of Public Power Week, which will be celebrated on Saturday at Louise Hays Park.

The Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) is hosting a family-friendly event to meet our heroes in hardhats while we celebrate Public Power Week!


Please mark your calendars for Saturday, October 8, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., to join us in Louise Hays Park for a free community event!

This will be a free community event with family-friendly activities that will include taking a ride in one of KPUB’s bucket trucks, arc & spark demos, line worker tool displays, photo ops with our linemen, face painting and more.

KPUB will be providing free hot dogs, chips and refreshments on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as a free t-shirt for the first 100 attendees. For more information:

Threat made at KISD campus

For the third time in a year, Kerrville Independent School District faced another threat of violence scrawled on a school bathroom on Thursday. Starkey Elementary School Principal Jenna Wentrcek sent a message to parents saying there was no direct threat to the campus.

However, one parent, who contacted The Lead, said they weren't satisfied with the response. The parent asked not to be identified and said their child called about the threat.

"I called the school and spoke with the vice principal, who kept laughing over the phone, telling me everything was under control," the parent said. "I told her if this happens in the future, and I'm sure it will, I want to be notified immediately so I can pick up my son. She laughed again and told me okay. The principal called me back around 10 minutes later and pleaded with me not to tell anyone or go on social media. She said it happened towards the end of the day, and they were investigating, and it was not a credible threat. I think i should be able to decide for myself if I would like to pick up my child before they take their time finding out if the threat is credible or not. I received this email FIVE hours later."

In the last year, there were similar threats scrawled on walls in bathrooms at Tivy High School and Hal Peterson Middle School. The parent said they kept their children at home on Friday.

Blessing of the Animals

St. Peter's Episcopal Church Rev. Bert Baetz blessed plenty of dogs and one rabbit Sunday afternoon, but he was bothered by the lack of cats during the church's annual Blessing of the Animals.

Baetz blessed 31 animals — 30 dogs and one geriatric bunny named Johnny. However, in the five years, he's been doing this, Sunday's turnout was one of Baetz's best. It's a quick ceremony, there are lots of sniffing and barking but it's also one of Baetz's favorite services of the year.

Trying to resolve the library distraction

Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner and Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly are working together to find a solution to the festering distraction of the LGBTQ+ display at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library. It could be a fiscal crisis for both sides in the dispute over the book display.

The leaders are making the rounds today to chat with the newspapers and will be on The Lead Live Tuesday morning. Clearly, Eychner and Kelly are saving the best for last.

However, the seriousness of this issue presents itself in the following ways:

  • The county's commissioners have at least a 3-2 majority to possibly sever a contract with the city that swaps the library services for animal control in Kerrville.
  • There's clearly a 4-1 majority amongst Kerrville's City Council to not act against the library staff for the display that focused on banned books.
  • If the contract is terminated, and it's in a one-year deal, the city would have to develop a plan to handle animal control, while the county library patrons could face fees to use the library.
  • Why would Kerrville voters support the county's bond measure to pay for a new animal shelter if the deal is terminated?

And then there are the long-term consequences of the library situation. The underlying action is that hardliners want the librarians prosecuted on obscenity charges — highly unlikely — and this is something the group "We The People, Liberty in Action," an alleged patriot group, will forget what the City Council didn't do last week. The ultra-conservative group wants action against the library staff, labeling them "lesbian marxists."

"One of the steps in the Marxist agenda is gender dysphoria, and we can clearly see that the Butt-Holdsworth Library is helping push Marxist ideology here in the Hill Country." wrote Bethany Puccio, who leads the right-wing group. "Anything coming down from the American Library Association is going to be godless indoctrination. I personally will not be taking my children to any library that is under the satanic influence of the ALA."

And this isn't a local phenomenon; library groups across the country say they see an unprecedented challenge to books about gender, sexual health and race.

Human trafficking arrest

No matter what you think of the political battle at the Texas-Mexico border, it's routine for Kerr County's law enforcement community to arrest suspected human smugglers.

Last Thursday, the Kerr County Sheriff made another trafficking arrest while working on Interstate 10. Sheriff's deputies said they saw two drivers that may have been working together to smuggle people.

After a deputy stopped one of the suspected vehicles, other deputies engaged in a high-speed pursuit. The vehicle evaded deputies it exited at Exit 525 eastbound and ended up on FM 289, where a total of nine migrants bailed out of the vehicle. Upon interview, deputies learned that one of the migrants had been detained last week and released to U.S. Border Patrol.

"Human smuggling continues to put our communities at risk and greatly increase the dangers on our highways," said Sheriff Larry Leitha. "This has become an all too regular occurrence, as highly organized and well-funded crime syndicates profit from our border situation."

Deputies arrested Manuel Diego, 26, of Uhland, Texas, on suspicion of one count of human smuggling. Diego was booked into the

Kerr County Jail on a $75,000 bond. The driver of the second vehicle, Oscar Perez Jr., 28, of Kyle, was arrested on suspicion of nine counts of human smuggling and one count of evading arrest. Perez is awaiting bond at the Kerr County Jail.

"For safety's sake, please stay alert and attentive on the roads, as these dangers come up fast on other motorists and innocent people," Leitha said. "Our teams are doing a great job in the field, and we encourage the public to keep their eyes open for this kind of activity. This is a true threat to public safety."

KEDC gets recognized for its work

The Kerr Economic Development Corp. earned honors from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for its efforts to grow business in the Hill Country.

The KEDC received a Gold Award for Special Purpose Website, Bronze for Magazine and Newsletter and another Bronze for Entrepreneurship. Recognized each year during the IEDC Annual Conference, the awards honor organizations for exemplary economic development marketing campaigns, projects and programs.

"Communities need our profession now more than ever," Nathan Ohle, President and CEO of the IEDC, the largest nonprofit professional association for economic developers in the world.

KEDC Executive Director Gil Salinas said the honors reflect the work done to improve Kerrville's economy.

"We're honored to be recognized yet again by the IEDC for the strides we've made in economic development not only in the Kerrville region, but at the national level, Salinas said. "The KEDC was asked to speak at the national conference and share some of our best practices and strategies in regards to business recruitment, entrepreneurship and development of human capital."

Schreiner University sports update


Schreiner's Avery Crider (6) and Brooke Beyer attempt to block Colorado College on Saturday morning.

Schreiner University women's volleyball team plays in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, and the Mountaineers saw why on Saturday. The good news is the Mountaineers proved their mettle in losses to nationally-ranked Colorado College and Trinity University, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation.

The Mountaineers fell 3-2 against Colorado College — a match Schreiner could have won. The Mountaineers had a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set, but collapsed in a 25-12 defeat. The Mountaineers had opportunities in the fifth set, but could never close out Colorado in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference match.

Schreiner's Brooke Byer had 17 kills against Colorado's potent defense, and Kayla Lofland added 12 kills. However, Colorado's offense got huge production from Keeley Kandziora, who had 26 kills, and Isabella Lipacis. Kandziora hit .339 against the Mountaineers.

Against Trinity, which Schreiner has never beaten, the Tigers got 17 kills from Reagan Whatley, who hit an astounding .357 and had two services aces. Whatley, a first-year player from the Woodlands, had a career night against Schreiner.

Coming into the match, the Tigers swept Colorado College to give Trinity its sixth consecutive win by sweep.

Trinity's length — seven players standing 5-10 or taller — stood in stark contrast to Schreiner, which has just three players 5-10 or taller.

Men's soccer

It was a long weekend for the Mountaineers on the pitch in a pair of 5-0 losses to Southwestern on Friday and Texas Lutheran on Sunday. They were the worst losses of the season for the Mountaineers, who have now lost four consecutive matches since a 5-2 rout of Sul Ross on Sept. 18.

Women's soccer

At 3-3-2 on the season, Schreiner University's women's soccer program is showing marked improvement over last year, and could make some noise in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Mountaineers beat Austin College on Sunday, 1-0. In that match, Ashley Esparza scored in the 85th minute on a free kick from about 25 yards out.

The Mountaineers are 2-0-2 in their last four matches.

Upcoming Featured Events

The Kerrville Chalk Festival,

Oct. 15-16, Kerrville City Hall

Kerrville Chalk Festival is a family-friendly art event for the Texas Hill Country. More than 65 artists create large-scale chalk drawings directly on the pavement. Kerrville’s downtown becomes a festive canvas for local and regional artists, as wells as invited guest artists from around the United States.

The Festival has live music, many free activities, food trucks, as well as wine and craft beer. It attracts an estimated 10,000 attendees annually. Read about the history of chalk art.

Held at Peterson Plaza in the heart of downtown, the event encourages tourists and locals to dine, shop, and experience the beauty and charm of Kerrville, Texas.

The 2022 beneficiary is Kerrville Arts and Cultural Center (KACC). KACC was founded in 1995 by a group of artists with a mission of providing a show place for local artists and to further the arts and culture in the community. The Center is comprised of sixteen affiliated groups representing over 500 artists and has three distinct gallery spaces. It attracts over 20,000 visitors annually.

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