The Lead Oct. 5, 2022: We learned a lot from banned books to MUDS and PIDS to the most banned music

Kerr County is never short of fascinating happenings.

Good morning, Kerr County!

We've got a forecast for the ages — sunny and warm. That's it.

On today's The Lead Live!

Kerrville Public Utility Board's Allison Bueche will be joining us at the start of the program to tell us about Public Power Week and Saturday's Bucket Truck Ride event at Louise Hays Park. Speaking of power, Rachel Fitch joins us to update us on her latest finds and sales. Fitch is the owner of Fitch Estate Sales and Gold Cup Pawn. Texas Hill Country Advisors Andrew Gay updates on the economy.


Are you ready for the bucket truck rides? Here comes KPUB's big event on Saturday.

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:

A primer for today's newsletter

To formally navigate today's newsletter, you will need to understand these terms, many of them we've learned in the last few months, but discussion points you need to understand. They are:

  • The Guadalupe Fatmucket is an endangered mussel in the Guadalupe River. It's also fun to use in limericks.
  • The Guadalupe Orb, another endangered mussel in the Guadalupe River.
  • MUDS. This is a municipal utility district used to finance infrastructure projects.
  • PIDS. This is a public improvement district — also used to finance infrastructure projects.
  • Grooming is a term devised by right-wing groups that determine all LGBTQ+ people groom children for sex.
  • Lesbian Marxists is a term cooked up by a certain group to describe female librarians.
  • STR is a short-term rental, another brewing controversy.



  • Wild West Wine Wednesday — Museum of Western Art, 5:30 p.m. Information: (830) 896-2553The details: Meet the folks from Kerrville Hills Winery. Hear about their products, try out a sample, and enjoy our latest exhibits— all free at the Museum.

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.
  • 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.

Live music

  • The Pickers Circle — La Escondida 1962, 7 p.m. Information: La Escondida 1962 The details: Anyone can join. Just show up.
  • Karaoke — Pier 27 River Lounge and Pizzeria, 7 p.m. Information: 830-896-7437


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.

Eychner, Kelly come together to discuss books — the banned ones

Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner and Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly said they are working together to solve a crisis involving the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, but whether they can stave off a more significant outcome is yet to be determined.

Kelly drew a clear line about the consequences if an interlocal agreement between the two governments collapsed.

"I'm going to say it's going to be a catastrophe,'' Kelly said during a joint appearance on The Lead Live with Eychner and Library Director Danielle Brigatti.

The issue was the library's decision to display banned books — something the staff has done for years. However, most recently banned books tracked by the American Library Association are LGBTQ+ themes. For months, Kerrville Independent School District wrestled with a similar controversy when one parent raised questions about LGBTQ+ content in the school libraries.

Across the state, parents are challenging books with LGBTQ+ stories, characters and almost anything relating to equity in sexual health. A Texas state representative sent the Texas Education Agency a list of 850 books to investigate — almost all about gender, sexuality, race and sexual health.

The issue manifested into a demonstration and counter-demonstration on Sept. 23 at the library. Conservative activists attacked the library staff by describing them as groomers, pedophiles and demanding prosecution by holding up Texas obscenity laws. It is unlikely any librarian would face prosecution for obscenity in these cases.

Kelly, in turn, apologized to Brigatti during the interview for the character attacks against her and the library staff. Eychner defended the librarians.

"The bottom line is the library did nothing wrong," Eychner said. "We are absolutely in agreement with that."

Instead, the library staff faced threats from conservative activists that spilled over into the Kerr County Commissioner's Court and the Kerrville City Council last week.

Brigatti said the American Library Association, which critics called a left-leaning group, only provides recommendations, including the banned book list. That list still includes many classics and for years was dominated by challenges to "Harry Potter."

The fallout from the incident is still playing out, but Kelly and Eychner believe separating the city and county on services would be problematic. However, this isn't going away anytime soon. When the Texas Legislature reconvenes, conservative groups' expectations are restricting material they believe will lead to child molestation and "grooming," a term popularized by QAnon conspiracy theorists.

Speaking of banned stuff

Symphony of the Hills Artistic Director and Conductor Gene Dowdy was a guest on The Lead Live on Tuesday, and we asked him about banned music.

"I mean, over history, it's happened all the time," Dowdy said. "We love Stravinsky's Firebird. You know, it's a great ballet, but at the initial performance, they're rioting."

Symphony President Tim Summerlin wanted clarification if it was "Firebird" or "Rites of Spring."

"Rites of Spring is another ballet of his that people just went wild over," Dowdy said. "So it happens a lot, but we don't ban any scores from our music library — unless they're bad."

Dowdy and Summerlin were on hand to preview Symphony of the Hill's upcoming 2022-2023 season, which starts Thursday night. The 7:30 p.m. performance at the Cailloux Theater still has tickets available.

The symphony's first performance is entitled "When in Rome, Inspirations from Italy." The lineup is:

  • Mendelssohn – Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90 Italian
  • Respighi – Pines of Rome
  • Gershwin/Balentine – Suite from Porgy & Bess for violin and orchestra

"We have this great violinist, Nicole Cherry," Dowdy said. She's a professor at UT San Antonio. She'll be our violin soloist. So, that's going to be a beautiful evening Thursday night."

  • Thursday night
  • Symphony of the Hills, When in Rome — Cailloux Theater, 7:30 p.m. Information: The details: The opening concert of the 2022-23 season of The Symphony of The Hills celebrates the spirit of Rome, Italy, and all the history and accomplishments of its citizens and guests. The saying, "when in Rome, do as Romans do" captures the thrill and risk of learning and adopting new customs when in unfamiliar territory. The program is: Mendelssohn – Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90: "Italian"; Respighi – Pines of Rome; Gershwin/Balentine – Suite from Porgy & Bess for violin and orchestra, with Nicole Cherry, the violin soloist

And then there were MUDS, PIDS and stuff and things

The Kerrville City Council had sandwiches and learned more about special financing plans for developments. The agenda described this as a workshop, but it was more of a scoping meeting, where the City Council could give direction to city staff to come back with a plan.

The seriousness of the issue is that the city anticipates developers that may want to utilize the instruments to finance projects, and city staff wants a plan in place to handle the requests. City Manager E.A. Hoppe and Assistant City Manager Michael Hornes, who led the discussion, said they would like to have a policy in place for the City Council's meeting next week.

The two implements fund different projects and have varied management structures. However, these tools are allowed under Texas law, and it's possible as large-scale developments come to Kerrville, developers may request them.

The PID is infrastructure and quality of life projects frequently related to new development. They are used extensively in larger cities and counties, including in Bexar County. San Antonio uses a PID to market tourism and attract events to the city. PIDS also provides other services that draw tourists, including cleaning, sidewalk repair and graffiti abatement.

In Kerrville's case, using a PID might be for landscaping, sidewalks, lighting and other elements in a project. The assessment would be about 50 cents for every $100 of assessed value for a property within the district.

The MUD is more complicated, requiring regulatory oversight from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality because it involves water infrastructure. The complication is that a MUD is eligible for annexation into the city limits — something Kerrville leaders aren't sure they want at the moment.

In the end, as the sandwiches ran out, the City Council directed to attach at least a $20,000 application review fee, but with a case-by-case review. We will learn more about the city's plan on Oct. 11.

Making the case for the bonds

Speaking at Riverhill Country Club, Todd Bock speaks about the importance of Kerr County Bond Propositions A, B and C.

The political action committee leading the effort to pass three bonds — worth nearly $27.5 million — made their case Tuesday night to Riverhill residents about why Kerr County needs facilities upgrades.

Laying out Tuesday's presentation were members of the county's capital improvement plan committee, which spent nearly three years reviewing the county's needs. The propositions are labeled A, B and C and face opposition.

Conservative groups, led by We The People, Liberty in Action, are rallying opposition to the bond measures. Rich Paces, the incoming Precinct 2 commissioner, argued in August that the timing was terrible for the bond because of high inflation and a potential recession.

However, the committee members pushed back against that assertion.

Capital Improvement Plan committee member Pete Calderon discusses the state of the Hill Country Youth Event Center's agricultural barn.

Part of the challenge for Kerr County is they have an unfunded mandate to upgrade its jury room — moving from six jurors to 12. That mandate forces the county to move the tax office to a former church north of the courthouse on Earl Garrett Street. Proposition A would pay for those improvements, with new long-term storage for court and land documents and a new annex building in Ingram. The Prop. A projects will cost $13.5 million.

Prop. B covers the Hill Country Youth Event Center's decaying show barn — the one with the dirt floor. There was some skepticism from at least one person, who questioned whether the 40-year-old dirt floor was contaminated. Pete Calderon, who led the presentation, said the plan would be to replace the floor with concrete. Chris Hughes, another committee member, said the facility was unsafe, violated numerous codes and needed an immediate overhaul. The county is asking for $8 million to do this work.

Finally, Brenda Hughes led the discussion about replacing the Kerr County Animal Services shelter. "Kerr County has never had a purpose-built animal shelter," she told the crowd. That project could cost about $5 million.

National Night Out rocks in Doyle

Kerrville Mayor Judy Eychner with McGruff the Crime Dog and some adorable children during Tuesday night's National Night Out.

A live band, hot dogs and a costumed hero were just some of the highlights of Tuesday's National Night Out — an annual nationwide event that better connects communities with law enforcement.

"This is all about building community," said B.K Gamble, the Doyle School Community Center executive director.

More than 100 people came out to Doyle on Tuesday, where they could receive flu shots from Peterson Health and learn about services available from the city, Doyle and others.

However, one of the highlights of the night was when Kerrville Police Department Lt. Mary Krebs escorted McGruff the Crime Dog — a longtime law enforcement mascot. McGruff was greeted enthusiastically by children of all ages, including Mayor Judy Eychner.

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