Friday, January 1, 1999

New Braunfels Herald Zeitung

Location: New Braunfels, Texas

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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 1, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas NEW PELS imriM I SHI NO I YON 11 DR rx HERALDZEITUNG Vol 148 No 31 16 pages in 1 section January 1 1999 TT F T T A Serving Coma County since 1852 50 cents County picks Justiss for WORD BY CHRIS CREWS Staff Writer Comal County Commissioners appointed Wayne Justiss to the Water Oriented Recreation Dis trict board of directors Thursday Charles Stephens of Canyon Lake and river outfitters Paul Rich and Zero Rivers were reappointed to the WORD board with terms to expire in December 2000 Justiss was appointed to the seat filled by Jack Larimore of Canyon Lake for the past four years Justiss currently serves on the countys Rural Fire Prevention District No 4 WORD manages a 34mile stretch of the Guadalupe 18 miles above Canyon Lake and 16 miles below WORD was created in 1987 and is run by a seven member board of officers appoint ed by the Comal County Com missioners Court Schwab said bringing in one or two new people every year was important so the public did not perceive WORD as a closed group Some people would say that they are appointed for life terms and that is not how it was intend Schwab said Justiss said he looked forward to serving on the WORD board He said one of his key issues would be to create policies that would make the people who used the river responsible for paying for law enforcement and maintenance WORD has committed more than toward providing law enforcement to prevent lewd and illegal behavior on the river in 1999 Rich owner of Mountain Breeze campground and river outfitters said getting the river clear of debris should be the groups most imme diate priority He said sheet metal trees and other debris posed poten tial health and safety hazards to those using the river We need to get the river clean by spring Rich said I wouldnt send anybody down the river in the condition its in right He said obtaining water rights for recreational use from Canyon Lake was one of the groups most pressing longterm needs WORD is made up of seven members appointed by the com missioners court Members with terms expiring in December 1999 include Bill Mayo Scott Watson and John Schwartze Changing of the guard ROBIN Outgoing Comal County Judge Carter Casteel left receives a gavel and plaque from incoming judge Danny Scheel at Nsir final commissioners court v f BY CHRIS CREWS Staff Writer For the first time in eight years someone other than Carter Casteel will wield the power associat ed with the office of Comal County judge Time will be the ultimate jury on how well the county deals with the problems of water policy management of population growth and behavior problems on the Guadalupe River The county also must deal with the aftermath of the flood Casteel has an impressive record of public ser What do you consider to be your greatest achieve ment during your eight years as county judge The ability to build a consensus with the commissioners as well as other governmental entities in problem solving and planning for the future As far as programs are concerned county parks environmental enforcement and rural recycling have been especially important to this county In addition I am proud to have established a human resources department and our efforts helped to make employee pay com petitive What will you miss most when you are no longer the county judge The thing I will miss most is the camaraderie of the commissioners court and working with See vice including roles as an educator school board member and attorney She did not run for a third term opting instead to enter a private legal prac tice with her son Barron Danny Scheel will be the judge when Comal County enters the next millennium His con stituents will judge the effectiveness of his man agement style and how he leads the county into critical period of its history The only thing locals can be sure of as the gav el passes from Casteel to Scheel is that things are not going to be the same What is your phi losophy regarding popula tion growth in the coun ty Because of our beautiful resources and geographic loca tion I feel that it will be impossible to control growth I also feel our focus should be on man aging the population growth areas by initiating such programs as creating minimum lot sizes protecting our groundwater and trying to acquire some zoning authority through the Texas Legislature which is being endorsed this session by the Texas Municipal League What achievement are you most proud of during your term as a county commissioner What disappointments do you have I am proud of the courts progress in the past four years by building and relocating two of the four justice of the peace offices The Farmto See SCHEEU3 NBU sounds off in debate on deregulation DiFONZO BY BILL OCONNELL Staff Writer Area residents might soon have the opportunity to choose their electric power suppliers the way they select a long distance tele phone services Supporters of deregulating Texas electric industry said that was the scenario they envisioned for the state The Texas Legislature is scheduled to consider deregulating the electric industry when lawmakers meet Jan 12 in trie new legislative ses sion We know of two legislative bills that have been Braunfels Utilities general manager Paula DiFonzo said NBUs board of trustees voted Tuesday to send a letter to state legislators in an effort to explain the municipally owned utilitys side of the deregulation story Newlyelected board of trustees president Mornhinweg and DiFonzo signed a letter drafted by the Public Utility Commis sion explaining public powers concerns related to deregulation The letter reportedly will run as an advertisement in the Jan 10 issue of the Austin American Statesman and will be presented to state legislators Jan 12 Municipal utilities preferences UTILITY MAZE The Texas Public Utility Commission sets electric rates for the states privately owned electric companies such as Cityowned utilities and most cooperatives Privatelyowned compa nies which sell about 82 percent of the states elec tricity About 75 Texas cities including New Braunfels Austin San Antonio and Kerrville which own and operate municipal utilities Electric cooperatives which sell about 8 percent of the states electricity serving 3 million customers Pedemales Electric Cooperative is Texas largest for local control of electric pow er supply and continued reliable service to consumers were includ ed in the letter Deregulation should not mean more DiFonzo said Some deregulation proponents said it would give consumers the ability to choose their electric provider the way they pick their long distance telephone service NBU has monitored attempts to deregulate the industry for years Another deregulation bill did not make it through the state See Promotion day ROBIN Comal County Sheriffs Office Sgt Rick Poindexter pins a captains badge on David Otts uniform following Thursdays promotion ceremony For more on the changes Lawmakers will tackle electricity issue this month AUSTIN AP Advocates of breaking up the states utility monopolies contend it will lower the cost of electricity by as much as 30 percent reduce pollution and improve service Or it could do just the opposite said Tom Smitty Smith state director of consumer group Public Citizen The issue is back for more debate come could affect consumers every time they flip a light switch or turn on the cof feemaker The cost for the average cus tomer could go up reliability could decrease and people may start getting calls during din ner asking them to try a new Smith said Texans currently pay an average BUSH of a year for electricity well above the national average of Last year lawmakers grappled with an electric utility deregulation bill supported by Gov George W Bush but it died during the last weeks of the session after losing support from the stated rural electric cooperatives Bush appears poised to back another attempt support the idea of giving con sumers more choice when it comes to electricity service and I look for ward to working with members of the Legislature to see if there is a fair way to do he said One of the most contentious aspects of the debate has been so called stranded or the debts of current electricity Public Utility Commission has esti mated stranded costs at bil lion or an average of per Texas household Consumers already are paying for the debts and utility companies want to keep it that way under deregulation We feel that itfs absolutely said John Fainter president of the Association of Electric Com panies of Texas That has some consumer groups worried We have not bailed out the phone companies or the airlines not the railroads when their markets j changed so why should we bail out the utilities Smith said INSIDE