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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 7, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas NEW PELS HERALDZEIf UNG Vol 149 No 36 18 pages in 2 sections January 7 2000 FRIDAY Serving Coma County since 1852 50 cents Lights out City leaders could decide later this month to pull the plug on a tradition BY PERI STONEPALMQUIST Staff writer The future of the Holiday River of Lights could come to a vote soon and probably will have to compete with a convention center for bed tax funding Organizers of the Holiday River of Lights say the drivethrough light display has not met revenue expec tations but shows promise During the past three years the city reports expenses associated with the light display project at which was was partially funded with from tax rev enue The city had to pay out of the general fund to cover the cost of starting the River of Lights in the projects first year 1997 The gener al fund received in 1998 and in 1999 providing the gen eral fund a total of during the past three years Without the tax sub sidy to the project the city would have lost more than tax by state law is a dedicated tax Revenue can be spent on convention facilities tourism promotion and promotion of arts and history The threeyear contract for the lights expires this in the next month the city likely will deter mine just how it should spend its bed tax money At Mondays meeting council will set a workshop to discuss the con vention center And on Jan 24 both the convention center and the Holiday River of Lights could be agenda items In 1999 revenue from the 52day event in Cypress Bend Park totaled File photo City workers remove one of several lighted structures from the Holiday River of Lights display at Cypress Bend Park The River of Lights recently completed its third consecutive season raising in revenue for city coffers Another was transferred from the citys portion of the tax funds to help defray the cost of running the event which this season cost the city from gate enue season pass sales other pro motions and sponsorship and pro gram ads An estimated vehicles and people passed through the display up 29 percent from the 1997 season and up 35 percent from the 1998 season But gate revenue as well as season passes and sponsorships didnt bring in enough to cover the costs of rent ing the lights and setting up operat ing and marketing the display tax funds paid for of the costs Bed tax money actually allowed the city to put the net operating mar gin of into the citys general fund That mon ey wouldnt be there with out the Holi day River of Lights assis tant to the city manager Don Fergu son said When it puts in the general fund thats less we need from the he said Money currently brought in by the citys 7 percent tax is divvied up between the Greater New See ANALYSIS Holiday River of Lights Operating expenses Operating revenues Gate revenue Season pass sales Other ornaments Fun Sponsorship and program ads Total Gross loss Subsidization tax revenue Net gain Chamber shifts focus to Convention Center BY PERI STONEPALMQUIST Staff writer Funding for the Holiday River of Lights and the Greater New Braun fels Chamber of Commerce Inc could be cut to fund a new conven tion center if city council approves a recommendation from the chamber Council hasnt discussed the issue yet and the chamber hasnt formally presented its ideas for how to fund a convention center But the issue could come up in a workshop not yet scheduled and the Jan 24 council meeting MEEK Chamber pres ident Michael Meek said Thurs day the chamber wanted to renege tiate its contract with the city to provide some bed tax funding for a convention center We feel every one would benefit from a conven tion he said Our job is to maximize the benefit of tourism for the whole Currently the chamber gets percent of the citys 7 percent tax unless that exceeds a predetermined cap which totals for 2000 With this cap program we typi cally receive about 60 percent of the Meek said The rest of the money is divvied between arts and heritage organiza tions percent and upkeep of the New Braunfels Civic Center Meek said hed like the chambers percentage to change from 74 percent to between 55 to 65 percent with no cap The cap however allows the city to get some surplus funds which are used to fund the Holiday River of Lights In addition the chamber gives the city of its for the display If the city chooses to lower the chambers percentage between to could be freed up to fund a down payment on a con vention center estimated at mil lion See New class rank structure to be considered by CISD trustees BY HEATHER TODD Staff Writer Current freshmen at Canyon and Smithson Valley high schools could fall under a new class rank system if trustees approve changes recommended by a campusbased review committee A Class Rank Review Committee comprised of school administrators students teachers and parents met this past fall to review how Comal Independent School District high schools calculate class ranking among students If approved by the board the changes would be made in the current student handbook and the 20002001 hand book but would not affect current upperclassmen The committee is scheduled to recommend the changes for board approval at the Jan 27 meeting at Bill Brown Elementary 20410 W Highway 46 The committees major recommendation is to elimi nate most elective courses in the class ranking system Currently most elective courses such as debate theatre arts health science technology and accounting are includ ed in the class ranking Most elective courses are calculated as regular credit courses In the current system core courses Advanced Placement and honors courses are weighted in the ranking which makes the courses more advantageous for students to take For instance a student that earns a 100 in an AP class might earn 8 ranking points while the same grade in a pre AP honors class might earn 7 points or 5 points in a regular credit course The committee is recommending moving most elective courses into a nonranking category Other courses cur rently not given a rank value include band and athletics Under the proposed changes students would still earn credit for all their courses and all courses taken by a stu dent would still be used to calculate the cumulative grade point average But only specific courses would be used to determine class ranking Bob Wiegand principal of Canyon High School and a member of the committee said the changes were rec ommended as a way to encourage students to take elective courses without jeopardizing their class rank The objective is to encourage students to take more elective courses without the pressure of how they will affect their class ranking We believe that students who are currently reluctant to take electives will enroll under this new Jan Booth secondary curriculum coordinator for CISD said many elective courses such as engineering graphics health science technology and computer animation were beneficial to students planning to enroll in college or find jobs after high school But she said many highly ranked students do not take the courses because it would be detrimental to their class standing And a drop in class rank could endanger some students scholarship opportunities district officials said Students on the committee often said Td love to take that class but I cant take it because it might hurt my class Booth said By moving elective courses to a nonranking category students would be allowed to take courses in high school that would give them a handson experience without penalizing their class ranking officials said Booth said school principals decided to review the class rank system after hearing students concerns The principals heard from the students and they were the catalysts for the Booth said See Comal County Sheriffs Department adding tactical unit ERIN Zeitung Comal Sheriffs Department Capt David on displays a tear gas launcher Thursday BY ERIN MAGRUDER Staff Writer The Comal County Sheriffs Department is taking a proactive approach to handling a crisis situa want to be prepared before a disaster strikes For that reason the department is assembling a SWAT team that will be trained and equipped to respond to a volatile event such as this past years Columbine High School tragedy in Littleton Colo SWAT team is one of those things you hope you never have to Sheriff Bob Holder said But if you have people with the skills You are prepared as a police agency in case anything hap The SWAT team will be com prised of about 20 to 24 fulltime and reserve sheriffs officers that will receive specialized training as snipers negotiators or as part of entry and perimeter teams said CCSO Captain David Ott who is heading up the SWAT team If something like Columbine ever hit here we would have to be Ott said We have to think ahead about what we would do and what resources we would draw For example local Smithson Val ley High School has the same amount of as Columbine High School he said To qualify for the SWAT team certified peace officers must pass a physical fitness test and maintain physical standards make a twoyear commitment to the team pass an oral interview board and receive additional firearms training Ott said The SWAT team has been assem bling since November and about 10 members already have been selected and are in various stages of their training We have a good bunch of offi cers to pull Ott said And not all members of the SWAT team are men A female patrol officer will be part of the negotiating team and a female reserve officer who also is a regis tered nurse has applied to be a part of the SWAT perimeter team See INSIDE Church Key code 76
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