County Commissioners got information on Veterans Day activities Monday, and approved policies for the Public Defenders’ Office; and court visitors demanded they debate again making an official statement supporting pro-life for Kerr County.
Veterans Day events
Kerr County Veteran Services Officers Marty Mistretta and Jennifer Sanchez announced the following local and nearby activities related to Veterans Day 2020 on Nov. 11, as the Oct. 26 Kerr County Commissioners’ meeting opened Monday morning.
Friday, Nov. 6, the Noon Rotary Club is hosting a “Veterans’ Appreciation Breakfast” at the Hill Country Veterans Center, 8-9:30 a.m., at the center at 411 Meadowview Ln.
Saturday, Nov. 7, The Heart o’ the Hills VFW Post 1480, 220 Thompson Dr., Kerrville, is holding their annual Veterans BBQ Fundraiser. Their auction opens 9:30 a.m., and bidding starts at 11:30 a.m. Meal purchases at $10 will be 11 a.m.-5 p.m., dine-in or take-out; plus a bake sale; 896-3494.
Also Saturday, Nov. 7, “Bandera Honors Veterans” is planned starting with family displays and information booths at 9:30 a.m. in Bandera City Park, 1102 Maple St., Bandera. Parade line-up is at 10 a.m. in that city park, followed by a program of music and tributes, before the parade kicks off at noon. At 1 p.m., veterans and their spouses are invited to a BBQ lunch. Call Mistretta and Sanchez at their Kerr County Courthouse office for contact information at the Bandera American Legion Post about display table reservations and the parade.
Wednesday, Nov. 11, Ken Stoepel Ford, Kerrville, is hosting a Veterans Day meal “until the food runs out,” 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Also Nov. 11, Center Point ISD is hosting a drive-through parade, line-up at 9:30 a.m. and kickoff at 10 a.m., Second Street behind the elementary campus; plus a to-go meal at the end of the parade route for vets. Meal reservations are required by today, Wednesday, Oct. 28, by calling 353-8146.
Regional Public Defenders’
Commissioners voted on two items related to the new Hill Country Regional Public Defenders’ Office to be set up in Kerrville, Kerr County, as a central location for five cooperating counties.
Kelly led a discussion on the new Interlocal Agreement for operation of this office here, and get the new Interlocal Agreement approved by commissioners in Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall and Medina counties.
The new board will have 11 members, three from Kerr and two each from the other four counties. This board hires/fires the Chief Public Defender and oversees department operations.
Kelly said he will probably be one of the “permanent members” at first, and in the future, county commissioners will choose other members. Some preferred specialty skills and training for various board members were chosen “in the interest of diversity,” he said.
Expenses will be split by the five counties, based on court-case counts in each one. Kerr will pay the largest share at about 38 percent, and the others will pay lesser proportions ranging from 10 to 14 percent.
Kelly moved to approve the new Interlocal Agreement, and commissioners voted 5-0 to do so.
They considered the specific Oversight Board policies, or “by-laws;” and voted 5-0 to establish those for future use.
Commissioners appointed Kelly, Commissioner Jonathan Letz and retired District Judge Keith Williams as Kerr County’s members on the Oversight Board for the Public Defenders’ Office. Kelly said this board is expected to meet at least quarterly, but while creating this new department and operation, probably monthly.
Pro-Life advocates again asked to speak to the court Monday, after commissioners’ agenda said, “Clarify the court’s intent, re-vote, discuss and take appropriate action regarding the Pro-Life Resolution” previously considered Oct. 19. Kelly first said this was inappropriate and not county business, and told waiting speakers to talk to legislators. They stayed to speak anyway, to ask again that commissioners vote their official support.
Discussion followed among commissioners that they legally passed it previously, a position supported by County Attorney Heather Stebbins who said it passed the first time and they should clarify that on the written court order. Kelly said it is a social issue, divisive for the community and asked the court to rescind the Oct. 19 vote.
Jerry Wolfe quoted “Robert’s Rules of Order,” saying abstensions in that vote don’t count; and this question is non-political and transcends all other questions.
Bill Morgan said a supporting resolution reflects a majority of county residents; and as the governing body, they should pass a supporting statement.
Makenna Hall, 18, said she supports making Kerr County “a sanctuary for the unborn;” quoted statistics on abortions and called it “sickening;” and said this county is “overwhelmingly pro-life” and commissioners need to return to “the culture of life.”
Thomas Jeffers, a pastor, said he wanted to change commissioners’ hearts and decision; and persuade them to pass a resolution “and save even one life.” He said the majority of citizens have been silent since the Roe-vs.-Wade decision.
Kelly said he disagreed and thinks it ought to be fought out in Congress, that Commissioners’ Court has no jurisdiction.
Fr. David Wagner said his Notre Dame Catholic Church parishioners asked him to speak, for public record; and quoted paragraphs of the Catholic Catechism.
Nathaniel Hall compared the commissioners’ actions on COVID rules equivalent to making rules on this, too.
Terry Hall quoted anti-abortion language in the Republican Party platform, saying that platform expects elected leaders to also uphold that. After comparing the work of the local Pregnancy Resource Center to Planned Parenthood’s, she said, “What you affirm will speak volumes, and we won’t forget.”
Commissioners discussion followed, with Harley Belew saying it passed before; and Moser saying, at minimum it needs to reflect that; and he agrees it’s not county business and some Republicans don’t agree on this.
Don Harris said one supporting vote in Kerr (a conservative county and area) could lead to other counties doing the same. Letz said he personally supports pro-life, and it passed before.
Kelly then moved to vote again, to rescind the previous vote. That’s when Stebbins said it passed, before.
The motion to rescind the first vote failed 3-2; and the speakers all applauded.
E. Kerr Wastewater contracts
At the recommendation of Kerr County Engineer Charlie Hastings, commissioners voted 5-0 to formally reject Contracts 2 and 3 for Phase 3 of the East Kerr County Center Point Wastewater Project.
Hastings said a team has been working to find and certify low-income and moderate-income households in the project area to participate and be connected to the new wastewater services, as this project moved forward. He said on his local end, he did not schedule required advertising about bidding on contracts to be published in local papers on consecutive weeks, as instructed; but instead published those notices with two weeks between them.
Hastings told commissioners the team can finish their work finding more households to sign on, and while that continues, he will publish again the bidding notices in proper timing. He has already talked to the company they picked from the first procedure, and that company is ready to bid again.
After re-advertising for bidders, Hastings estimates opening bids Nov. 24; reading them in a court meeting Nov. 30; and notifying the chosen contractor about awarding the bid in early December.