County talks of COVID and Census

COVID-19, the burn ban and fireworks, and sessions with legal firms who do “redistricting” after each the Census counts took up most of a four-hour County Commissioners’ meeting Monday.  

COVID Vaccine experience

Commissioner Tom Moser reported his and his wife’s recent experience getting COVID vaccinations in Uvalde after registering online. No vaccine was immediately available, he said, but they were called three days later to set appointments less than 10 days after the call.

The Mosers picked their times, and drove there, and he said the entire process took less than 30 minutes including the instruction to sit quietly for a few minutes, for observation.

County Emergency Coordinator Dub Thomas told the court he and others on the Kerr Emergency Team have looked at alternate plans, and introduced Joe Pisczcor from Peterson Health, who reported they know about Uvalde’s procedures.

He said the Kerr “model” worked efficiently recently when they vaccinated about 400 people at their first public site at First United Methodist Church. He and Thomas said the vaccine shipment was split, to finish all frontline and emergency care workers plus begin the public vaccinations.

Thomas said one hurdle is, they could vaccinate 1,000 people per day if the vaccine is here, but still have to streamline how to call or otherwise notify everyone on any sign-up list.

One positive step, Pisczcor said, is Peterson Health’s IT capability means input can be done automatically, and on Tuesday, Jan. 9, they opened a live registration site; and will send people their appointment dates and times by email.

Kelly advised people register online and by calling Thomas’ call center.

Burn ban, fireworks March 6

Commissioners’ Court unanimously renewed the Burn Ban in the county for another 90 days, with no discussion.

They also voted 5-0 to allow the retail fireworks permit-holders to sell fireworks to the public in celebration of Texas Independence Day (March 6), but with the two usual restrictions, the rockets and missiles with fin or sticks.

Redistricting consultants

Commissioners spent a large part of this meeting in conversations with representatives of three legal firms that do “redistricting” after Census data is released every 10 years. Redistricting is required before whatever primary and general elections follow after that.

The speakers were Charles Kimbrough in person from Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP in San Antonio, and a representative each, by phone, from Bear Demographics and Research based in California, and ARCBridge Consulting & Training, Inc. based in Virginia.

Each was responding with bids of cost options and range of services to do this work, and commissioners listed this as an action item in closed session. But they had conversations with the callers in open court; and didn’t vote on this.

This is required after the Census every 10 years, based on the U.S. 14th Constitutional Amendment, to redraw boundary lines of county precincts and justices of the peace in this case. The basic goal is to take the new population, divide it by four (in Kerr’s case) and make each precinct as equal in population as possible, within 10 percent or less. The process also requires public hearings.

Kimbrough has done this and other legal work for Kerr before. He emphasized a “feasible but extremely tight deadline” of December this year, with 2022 election deadlines in March 2022. The problem they all agreed on was, the pandemic altered work/completion of the 2020 Census. While the national offices usually release new Census data in April, that isn’t expected this year. More likely it will be July/August and perhaps September.

One remarked primary elections used to be in the summer, and that could happen again.

All sent printed packets and said they would gather as much information as possible “remotely,” but had travel expenses in their cost estimates, to come in person.

Workshop, subdivision rules

Commissioners had an action item listed to “set dates for workshops and adoption of the revised Kerr County Subdivision Rules and Regulations, Manufactured Home Rental Community Regulations, and the Kerr County Water Availability Requirements.”

When County Judge Robert Kelly called for discussion, County Attorney Heather Stebbins advised the court to first hold at least one closed meeting to have final readings and checks of the regulations they included, before releasing the revised regulations with all the rules and scenarios considered.

They took her advice and passed over this item.

New KCHC members

Commissioners approved the new members for the Kerr County Historical Commission, nominated by KCHC President Julie Leonard via an email and read aloud in court.

The new members are Felicia Fisher and husband Charlie Dobbs, Daneshu L. Clark, Dorsey Jack Reirdon, Linda Jones Stephens, and Kathy Schu Switzer.

Donated trees, county park

County Maintenance Supervisor Shane Evans discussed with the court the details of exactly where in Flat Rock Park the 31 trees donated by Rockoff Tree Solutions are proposed to be planted. The issues include watering them; placement in the floodplain related to possible flood damage, mowing and weeding access, and what protection is planned around each one.

The sketch shown by Evans listed Cedar Elm, Mexican Sycamore, Lace Bark Elm, Redbud, Burr Oak, Pecan, Monterrey Oak, October Glory Maple and Crepe Myrtle trees.

Most are shown around the playground equipment and the perimeter of the larger west open area, plus about six around the perimeter of the smaller east open area.

Affordable housing

development proposal

Matt Gillam, owner/developer at OVP Group of a proposed “affordable housing” subdivision named “Reserves at Holdsworth” at 253 Holdsworth Dr. N. (Paschal Ave and Holdworth Drive) said this is his second project in Kerr County, a 43-unit family development, ranging from one to three bedrooms, due to demand. Federal funding is available to him and he’s one of three applicants for that.

He said rents would range from $300-plus/month for two of the homes, to $516 to $868/month; no homes for sale. Asked what they would look like, he said a combination of rock and hardy-board siding.

Gillam said he is required to own and maintain this housing for 40 years, adding, “My name is on the paperwork.” Commissioners approved a resolution of support 5-0.

CP wastewater project

Commissioners approved two paperwork steps related to the East Kerr Center Point Wastewater Collection Project. One was to approve certification of pre-construction approvals to send that three-section packet to the Texas Department of Agriculture for a Texas Community Development Block Grant.

They also voted to advertise for bids Feb. 10 and 17 for a number of wastewater connections in the same overall project through TDA’s Colonia Economically Distressed Area Fund and Colonia Fund Construction grants.

Court members agreed as the new wastewater connections are being completed, they need to learn and keep in mind what the capacity of the treatment facility in Comfort is, compared to the number of possible connections and the relative sizes of all the pipes that connect homes in East Kerr now to the treatment plant.

WTA Town Hall report

Moser reported on the public Town Hall he led recently about West Texas Aggregate and its quarrying operation between State Highway 27 at Fox Tank and the airport, and the Guadalupe River. He said about 50 people attended to air concerns and hear what the operators’ plans are.

Moser said owners told the group they respect the communities they are near; and Moser said they have about $3.5 million in equipment on the site. The concerns, he said, included noise, water usage and effect on the airport and planes; while the City of Kerrville and the Kerr Economic Development Council both have passed resolutions of concern.

Moser said WTA operators/owners offered to visit with those with concerns, including airport representatives.

Asked the “lifespan” of this operation or any like quarry, Moser said the estimate was up to eight years but it depends on the amount of gravel there, available to mine. And Moser said this company also has applied to Texas Commissioner on Environmental Quality for a permit for a permanent rock crusher.

And Moser said he’s personally toured the site and while they are taking water by thousands of gallons from the river, they also are recycling as much of it as they can in specific ponds on the property.

Grant applications

Mercy Gate, VOCA

The court approved two grant application submissions, one for a county grant for Mercy Gate Ministry to address commercial sexual exploitation. The other was a grant application by Pam Peter of the county staff for “Victims of Crime Act” funding for services to crime victims in this county.

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