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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 12, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas NEW PELS 20332 M009 SOWEST MICROPUBLISHING 2627 E YRNDELL DR EL PflSO TX 79903 77 HERALDZEITUNG Vol 148 No 38 12 pages in 1 section January 12 1999 TUESDAY Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents Help wanted Bus drivers needed School districts struggle to keep drivers on board BY HEATHER TODD Staff Writer A banner posted along the fence at the New Braunfels Independent School District transportation department sends the message loud and clear Bus Drivers Comal County school districts are feeling a pinch from the nations latest job market boost as bus drivers continue to be in short demand Ken Franklin transportation direc tor for Comal Independent School District said the district faced a shortage in available bus drivers a need that fluctuated each day We need at least 1 10 drivers and some days well be short three dri vers Tomorrow we might be short 11 and then some days we might not be short he said drivers made it difficult to plan dai ly routes and develop a consistent pool of drivers he said When the economy is good we transportation departments Franklin said People come and start working then they find a full time job with better hours and Franklin said low pay and irregu lar hours often made a bus driver position unattractive to people seek ing employment especially when other fulltime jobs were available Right now the unemployment rate is really low which hurts us If someone wants to find a job there are plenty out he said In December the nations unem ployment rate was percent the lowest peacetime rate since 1957 Franklin said drivers were required to doubleup on bus routes on days the department was short regular drivers When they haye to do someone elses route in addition to their own then generally the students will get in late to school and will be late get ting home This causes problems for both the schools and he said Franklin said the districts contin uing growth also posed a trans portation challenge Ive been here 11 years and when I first started we had SO routes and weve been adding new ones each he said CISD currently has 100 regular routes throughout the county and added five new ones just this year The shortage of bus drivers is more than just a local problem as transportation departments statewide and across the nation also are feeling the pinch Sam Dixon director for trans portation funding for the Texas Edu cation Agency said working con ditions and salary associated with being a bus driver made recruiting Above Comal Independent School District bus driver Lawrence Hubertus walks down the bus aisle talking with and settling down children from Canyon Intermediate School Left Pulling the bus door shut Hubertus pulls the bus away from the Canyon Intermediate School curb x ROBIN CORNETTiMSfaldZeitung new drivers difficult Bus drivers generally begin their routes at 6 and finish their morning routes by 9 then return at and work until 6 he said Officials at the TEA transporta tion department said starting pay for bus drivers generally ran between and an hour and increased to See Comal keeps eye on Austin Lawmakers open 76th session today BY CHRIS CREWS Staff Writer The Texas Legislature con venes hi regular session for the 76th time today and many local officials are anxious to see what transpires during the next 140 days A governor that might have his sights on the presidency a rookie lieutenant governor short on experience and a rare billion budget surplus promise to make it an inter esting session Education issues were prominent in the 1998 cam paigns and New Braunfels Independent School District Ron Reaves said he hoped the same issues would carry the same impor tance in the legislative session What is going to be inter esting is to see if the campaign rhetoric will translate into Reaves said Reaves said the legislature was notorious for addressing education late in the session after most of the state funds had been doled out to other areas I hope they put education on the front burner and become more of a partner with local school districts rather than distancing Reaves said One of the issues Gov George W Bush championed hi the last legislative session was to reduce local school property taxes To do that some say the state would have to play a larger role in funding the districts annual budgets In 1997 Bush and the leg islature cut property taxes by billion by reducing the OF LOCAL INTEREST Texas legislators will address a number of top ics in the session that opens today Among those that will affect local residents are School finance Teacher pay raises and funding Abolishing the county treasurers office in Comal County Increasing the Water Oriented Recreation Districts taxing limits Regional underground water district over the Trinity Aquifer Growth regulation and development Electric deregulation standard homestead exemp tion for homeowners Reaves said the result was that the state did not give the districts a dollar for dollar payback We had to go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money it was a shell Reaves said The average pay for Texas teachers is about below the national average Bush and some key legislators support sending billion of the sur plus to the districts and ear mark it for teacher pay rais es Reaves said he supported teacher pay raises but ques tioned the future of funding such a program Who will pick up the cost in the next biennium if the budget surplus is gone Reaves asked Will the state See White House defends House says If this is not enough what is WASHINGTON AP President Clin ton and House Republicans clashed in impeachment trial papers Monday the White House claiming perjury and obstruc tion allegations fall short of high crimes and misdemeanors and GOP lawmakers rebut ting If this is not enough what is Clinton denied each and every allega tion in the Housepassed articles of CLINTON impeachment The House in papers filed a few hours later with the Senate insisted the evidence against the nations 42nd president overwhelmingly sup ports both perjury and obstruction of justice The two documents were filed in advance of opening trial arguments set for Thursday in the Senate with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding Clintons lawyers decided to forgo fil ing a motion seeking to dismiss the case at its very inception although officials sug gested they would make that motion after both sides had finished presenting evi dence The House decided against filing any immediate motions as well although law makers are certain to seek permission from the Senate later to call witnesses The papers were filed as key House law makers met privately to plan the formal presentation of their case We will do a very good job and then when we reach the point of asking for witnesses we think the senators will be in a more generous mood having heard our said Rep Henry Hyde RI1L point man in the impeach ment effort In a conclusion to its 105page filing the House termed the impeachment battle a defining moment for the Eckerd asks for gets delay on store plans BY BILL OCONNEU Staff Writer Eckerd officials asked New Braunfels City Council Monday to wait before considering plans for a new store Council was scheduled to hear a proposal Monday on a new Eckerd store at South Wal nut Avenue and Business 35 The proposal was delayed until February however to give city officials time to study revisions to the plan which included a culdesac on South Sycamore Street and analyze city planning director Har ry Bennett told council Monday The latest revision included a culdesac to be built on South Sycamore Avenue next to the proposed site Developers said they believed the culdesac would address neigh bors concerns about turning South Sycamore into a busy thoroughfare Council voted to send the new Eckerd plans back to the city planning and zoning com mission for review The commission reportedly will consider the updated proposal Feb 2 and then send it back to council for consideration on Feb 22 The planning commission voted in Novem ber to send a recommendation to city council to deny the Eckerds request for a special use permit Eckerd officials planned to move opera ping Plaza on Business 35 West to a parcel of land currently zoned for residential and commercial use Eckerd officials said they would rather work with neighbors at the proposed site INSIDE
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