Good morning, Kerr County!
We're giving you the straight deal this morning — sunny and warm. That's it. That's the forecast for the next 10 days.
On today's The Lead Live!
This morning we're joined by the trio of Brenda Hughes, Pete Calderon and Todd Bock to discuss Kerr County Props. A, B and C, which would finance about $30 million in capital improvement projects for the county. The bonds head to the ballot on Nov. 8 and there could be stiff opposition to them from Kerr County patriot groups. We're also joined today by Texas Hill Country Advisor Andrew Gay, and Julie Davis of the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Join us at 9 a.m.
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.
Mark your calendar for Public Power Week Oct. 2-8, and the Bucket Truck Rides.
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: https://www.kpub.com/community/public-power-week/
Here comes the library storm
One day after the Kerr County Commissioner's Court discussed its objections to content at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library; the Kerrville City Council tackles it at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall.
Last week the library displayed 28 titles considered some of the most banned or challenged books by the American Library Association, which led to a protest on Friday by people who accused library staff of peddling child pornography. The accusation led to a counter-protest by those supporting the library staff.
The City Council expects a large crowd for tonight's meeting, and it could be just as impassioned as Monday's discussion at the commissioner's court. One takeaway from Monday's meeting is that there appears to be a court majority to sever the contract between the city and county that swaps animal control and library services.
"It has nothing to do with censorship and nothing to do with banning books," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz. "They do not have the right to take the place of the parent."
The City Council will review its policies regarding its collection development, including how it decided on banned book week content. The key objection to the library's display was the subject matter — LGBTQ+ issues — and its proximity to the children's area in the circular library building.
The city's policy on collections regarding minors is as follows: "Responsibility for materials selected and read by minors rests with their parents and/or legal guardians. Selection decisions are not influenced by the possibility that materials may be accessible to minors. BHML does not indicate through the use of labels or other devices particularphilosophies outlined in an item."
For more than a year, a nationwide battle has emerged between conservative groups and librarians over library subject matter, especially regarding sexuality, gender and race. That battle is particularly fierce in Texas, where 850 books are under review by the Texas Education Agency over content concerns.
Since Friday, the city has taken more than 100 calls from residents voicing their opinions about the issue.
To read more about the Commissioner's Court meeting and the library: https://kerrcountylead.com/kerr-county-commissioners-take-the-moral-high-ground-in-debate-about-library-books
Short-term rentals back on the agenda
While the circus act of the night will be about library books, the other issue consuming the Kerrville City Council comes back — SHORT TERM RENTALS. Yes, the one problem that has the potential to overwhelm everyone is back, but in this meeting, the City Council could appoint a new committee to form some policy recommendations. Here's the charge for the proposed committee:
- Protection of the safety of renters (e.g., insurance, egress, fire safety).
- Compliance with the City's application of occupancy tax (hotel-motel tax) in accordance with state law.
- Ability to address nuisance conditions.
- Privacy and other impacts to adjacent property owners and uses to include parking, occupancy limits, limiting noise, and trash.
- Application of a permitting requirement to include suspensions, revocations, penalties, and fees.
- Other topics cited by Kerrville 2050 (City's Comprehensive Plan) related to these issues.
The committee will consist of 10 members — each City Councilmember will appoint two members.
The short-term rental debate has befuddled the Planning and Zoning Commission, the City Council, and to a certain extent, the city staff. The city seems trapped in a delicate property-rights issue with no easy answers.
The City Council could also adopt the second reading of an ordinance that would restrict short-term rentals to certain zones. The city could ban short-term rentals in single-family residential, medium density and residential estate zones — or most of the city.
There is already pushback from some owners about the restrictions, especially in medium density, which could eliminate further short-term rental development along Guadalupe Street.
A curious consent agenda item
We suspect the City Council will pull the Singing Wind Park master plan from the consent agenda. This is an important discussion item for the City Council because it involves millions of dollars in improvements to the park. We'll have to see how the Council handles the situation.
COVID-19 is still taking lives
The Texas Department of State Health Services hasn't updated specifics about Kerr County deaths from COVID-19, but one thing is clear at least four people have died from the virus since at least Aug. 23. The DSHS website noted four additional Kerr County deaths — pushing its total to 194. The actual number is probably much higher.
KPUB heads to Florida
Kerrville Public Utility Board is sending seven linemen to Florida in anticipation that Hurricane Ian could cause catastrophic damage to the state's electrical grid. As it approaches Florida, the storm could become a Category 4 hurricane, packing winds topping 90 MPH. The storm was just south of Cuba on Monday night.
Missed in the hyperbole
Back on Aug. 15, Kerr County Precinct 2 Commissioner-elect Rich Paces made a brazen suggestion that the county had mismanaged the East Kerr-Center Point Wastewater Collection Project, but a presentation Monday showed the project headed toward completion next year — at no cost to the county.
Of course, the impact of the presentation was lost in the mayhem of Monday's epic discussion about library books.
An array of state agencies solely financed the massive water and sewer project to connect Center Point to an expanded wastewater and water treatment plant in Comfort. The project's aim was to connect more than 900 residences to sewer, replacing septic systems that posed a contamination threat to groundwater and the Guadalupe River.
However, Paces alleged during the Aug. 15 budget meeting that the county couldn't be trusted to manage large projects.
"And then I'll just highlight that the County doesn't have a great track record of delivering projects, capital projects, on time and within budget," Paces said. "A fine example, the EDAP project, East Kerr Sewer System, was that originally $20 million, now it's $60-some million. So any cost overruns that are incurred on these projects, we're going to have to raise taxes again to fund those. You can't stop a project that's 70% complete and not finish it. So that further burdens our already stretched taxpayers."
Precinct 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz challenged Paces' comments by saying state officials expanded the project's scope to include more of eastern Kerr County.
So, on Monday, Tetra Tech engineer Don Burger gave an update on the 27.3-mile sewer system that features 11 lift stations and 6 miles of new mains. Burger said the total cost is about $63 million. Burger explained the project is funded in the following ways:
- 16% from loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- 40% from the economically disadvantaged areas program.
- 37% is from loan forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- 4% is from EDAP loans.
- About 4% in grants from the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Burger said 75% of the money is spent on constructing the project, while another 25% is spent on basic engineering and other services. The final phase of the project should be completed next year.
In short, Kerr County is reaping the benefit of a project wholly outsourced by the state.
The Dietert Center earns grant award
Texas Community Education Foundation (TCEF) awarded a $7,000 grant to Dietert Center in support of the Dynamic Learning Institute, a collaboration between Dietert Center Club Ed and Schreiner University.
Waverly Jones, director of operations, accepted the gift on behalf of Dietert Center.
"It is an honor to accept this grant for the DLI program," Jones said. "Lifelong learning is a passion for both Dietert Center and Schreiner University. These funds enable the continuation and growth of the educational programs for everyone's enjoyment."
Dynamic Learning Institute is a Kerrville-based partnership offering non-credit Spring and Fall learning experiences for your enjoyment and growth. Our goal is to provide you with a rich selection of fascinating topics delivered by speakers with a lifetime of experience to share.
Along with diverse topics covered in DLI presentations, Dietert Center Club Ed offers dozens of in-person classes, workshops, and discussion groups at the Dietert Center. The seasonal course catalog features program descriptions and is available online at www.clubed.net or at the Center, 451 Guadalupe Street, Kerrville. Dorothy Beene, Club Ed Coordinator, can be reached at (830) 792-4044 for additional information or registration.