Local volunteers announced formation of a new nonprofit to work alongside Kerr Animal Services at Monday’s County Commissioners’ meeting; and the Animal Services Advisory Committee’s proposed new fee schedule was announced.
‘Kerr Pets Alive’
Michael Burniston told commissioners that as of Nov. 20, a new 501(c)3 group called “Kerr Pets Alive” is being formed, to take custody of unclaimed animals past the Kerr County Animal Services deadlines, and find them permanent homes.
Stephen King and Karen Guerriero also were noted as volunteers in this new effort.
This new nonprofit group also plans to educate citizens about animal ownership; and to work with the county’s Animal Services facility on Loop 534 to get it re-opened on Saturdays for a limited number of hours using one Kerr employee and “a sufficient number of KPA volunteers.”
Burniston said the new KPA also has to define funding possibilities and will work toward building a new facility of their own.
County Judge Robert Kelly’s first reaction was, this is an answer to prayers; and thanked him and other volunteers attending for their commitment to this.
Discussion followed on animal services in general, with a comment that KCAS staff is “stretched to the limit.” As a first step, they asked KCAS Director Reagan Givens to look into how the facility could open on Saturdays with volunteers’ participation; and return to commissioners in two weeks with options to discuss.
Commissioner Tom Moser also said they should determine how to “have the county out of the adoption business within one year or less.” Other court members cited this as a “goal” and as “an aspirational goal.”
Commissioner Jonathan Letz agreed he wants them out to an extent, “but we’re still involved;” and discussion followed on the facility’s 72-hour “window.” Commissioner Harley Belew recalled Burniston to the podium to restate the KPA’s goal, and Burniston said, “You guys do your job mandated by law; and we do ours.”
Belew said his belief is that Kerr County has too many animals, many of which are running free, and effort is needed to convince people to spay and neuter more animals.
The already functioning Animal Services Advisory Committee, through Letz, presented their proposed KCAS fee schedule (with several new rules and fees) and suggested month-by-month animal –related events, from rabies and microchip awareness events to food drives and animal adoptions.
Commissioners noted the proposed fee schedule includes requiring microchipping for registration; increased impound fees for dogs and cats not registered or microchipped or vaccinated; and a mandatory spay/neuter on any impounded animal.
A breeder permit would allow an owner to raise puppies.
Letz said this also must be presented to City of Kerrville as it impacts the interlocal agreement on animal services.
King asked why they don’t already require rabies vaccinations, instead releasing animals to owners with a piece of paper asking them to promise to get their pets vaccinated in 30 days. Letz said the county cannot do mandatory spay/neuter with no veterinarian on the KCAS staff.
Commissioners also agreed with Kelly that the interlocal agreement, is in its third year, and they need to begin now discussing any changes or additions.
‘Moving Big Water’
William “Dub” Thomas, county emergency coordinator, came to the county to ask that area volunteer fire departments be allowed to close Flat Rock Park and use it Dec. 14-15 for “Moving Big Water Training.”
Thomas had this scheduled previously with a trainer from outside Kerr County, and he couldn’t come the first time; so Thomas asked to reschedule this when the trainer can come.
This exercise trains VFD volunteers to safely load water quickly from the river, and then discharge that water off the water trucks (back into the river in training), as they would when fighting a large fire.
HCD Junior Livestock Show
Commissioners approved three items in advance of the upcoming Hill Country District Junior Livestock Show on Jan. 12-17, 2020, at the request of Steve Bauer, president of the HCDJLS Association.
The first was approving use of the entire Flat Rock Lake Park, including the Dog Park, to park trailers and use as a staging area for delivery of animals. From 7 a.m. that Sunday to 11 p.m. that Friday, the park will be closed to other vehicular traffic.
Bauer also got county permission to close Riverside Drive from the southwest corner of River Star Park to the southeast corner of the Hill Country Youth Event Center.
Commissioners also fulfilled a legal requirement to appoint a person to be a “safety officer” during the Livestock Show, under an application for permit for mass gathering. An official hearing will be held Dec. 16 at 9:30 a.m., but Monday commissioners voted to appoint absent court member Don Harris as that safety officer.
Match project, bridge work
Commissioners adopted a resolution saying Kerr County will perform an “equivalent match project” in the county, with work by the state on “Fall Branch Creek Channel Restoration” under Camp Scenic Loop Road bridge, in return for a waiver of the local match fund participation requirement on the approved federal “off-system bridge program.”
Commissioner Jonathan Letz said the other half of this match would be Witt Road bridge reconstruction over Verde Creek.
MHDD, property purchase
The agenda included an item reading, “consider, discuss and take appropriate action regarding email received from Hill Country MHDD Centers informing the court of their intent to purchase real property.”
County Judge Robert Kelly said he serves on behalf of the county on a board for the MHDD centers; and the state entity has announced steps started to purchase the One Schreiner Center building downtown on Water Street from owner Ed Hamilton.
Kelly said MHDD, which serves a 19-county region, already occupies the third floor and other state offices are on the second floor, while others are leasing first-floor offices.
He said MHDD already uses Schreiner Two Center for other offices and a clinic, too. Their regional offices have grown to also leasing the second floor of the BCFS building.
He said he recused himself from discussion at a meeting and the vote on this property purchase, as their purchase will remove it from the property tax rolls for the county and other taxes.
Discussion grew into other comments on the inadequacy of the 16-bed Crisis Stabilization Unit on the grounds of Kerrville State Hospital as emergency beds for mental cases caught up by law enforcement in the county. But MHDD continues to be the designated experts to do evaluations for civil commitments for law enforcement, he said.
Commissioners, Kelly and Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer discussed some “what-ifs” using the example of a naked man running down the street (with no identification) and reported to law enforcement; and came to no hopeful conclusions about added mental health beds being available through MHDD. So they are still dealing with jail cells as the available beds in most cases.
Kelly also noted that under the current MHDD plans, the narrow strip of property between the two Schreiner Center buildings is still slated to become the site of a new Marriott Hotel downtown on the river.
Crime Victim Notification
Commissioners approved an agreement for the “Statewide Automated Victim Notification Service” for use here by crime victims who are counseled by the Victims’ Services office.
This consent continues a current service, with state money passing through the county to pay for it. Crime victims may sign up for SAVNS and then be notified if the offender in their case is released from custody.
Veterans event, services
Marty Mistretta, Kerr veterans’ services officer, said she is working with other entities to begin planning a new Veterans Day celebration for Nov. 7, 2020.
This new event is expected to include a short parade (not planned by the area veterans themselves), time for picnics in Louise Hays Park for lunch, music and vendors.
Mistretta has been seeking participation from area organizations and vets’ residential facilities, so vet residents can be brought to the park, as needed, to take part.
Gary Noller presented the quarterly report from the Kerr County Veterans Advisory Committee, complimenting the training and work of Mistretta and Jennifer Sanchez, to be equipped to answer questions from vets and their families, and get vets the services they need.
• Cancelled the Dec. 30 commissioners’ meeting the week of New Years;
• Approved a list of “reimbursable items” for volunteer fire departments;
• Were assured by the County Attorney that commissioner’s procedures about visitor input still are valid under the Open Meetings Act;
• Appointed Jody Grinstead as Kerr’s alternate to the Alamo Area Council of Governments Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.