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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 14, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas NEW BRAUNFELS FRIDAY February 14 2003 j M iMf 14 pages jn 2 sections HERALDZEITUNG Vol 152 No 80 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Drag trial opens with revelation of informant BY RON MALONEY Staff Writer A 48yearold New Braun fels man went on trial in Dis trict Court Thursday on drug and weapon charges that could see him spend the rest of his life in state prison Arnaldo Aleman Gomez faces 25 to 99 years in prison if convicted on any of five counts he faces in a trial being conducted before 274th Judicial District Judge Gary Steel Assistant District Attorney Joe Soane III has charged Gomez with engaging in organized criminal activity by the five following means Possession with intent to distribute heroin Possession with intent to deliver cocaine Possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine Possession of between 4 ounces and 5 pounds of mar ijuana and Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon Gomez has prior felony convictions which means that if he is convicted as a repeat offender he faces a minimum of 25 years in prison Gomez his brother Rodol fo 39 and sister Sandra 41 all face five firstdegree felony counts of engaging in orga nized criminal activity Rodolfo and Sandra Gomez are set to be tried at an unde termined later date The charges stem from a monthslong undercover investigation by the Comal County Metropolitan Nar cotics Task Force into alleged narcotics trafficking in the West End Using confidential infor mants narcotics investiga tors allege they made a series of drug buys from members of the Gomez family at their home in the 2000 block of West Bridge Street The Comal County Sher iffs SWAT team raided the home Dec 13 2001 alleged ly finding pounds of marijuana grams of cocaine grams of high grade black tar heroin and grams of methampheta mine In his opening statement See Shirley McKenzie right tries to get Tiffany Soechting to convince the prize patrol at Thursdays Winter Texan Reception that although she doesnt have the winning ticket she should still get the prize Below The crowd at the Civic Center has a whoop ing good time as prizes are handed out Although some of the whoop ing was actual ly sarcastic booing the pre dominatly older crowd seemed to be having a good time Reception pays tribute to towns Winter tourists BY DYLAN JIMENEZ Staff Writer At Thursday the New Braunfels Civic Center was alive with music and dancing The Greater New Braun fels Chamber of Commerce celebrated the citys winter visitors with the annual Win ter Texan reception Ramon Chapa chair of the chamber welcomed the visitors and thanked them for coming to their home away from Judy Young chamber staff member said the event wel comed lots of visitors from Canada Wisconsin Iowa and Minnesota who have been coming for several years Winter Texans come both to escape the cold and because they love New Braunfels We love it said Eve lyn Ahlfield 72 of Olney 111 Photos by K JESSIE Its not that we cant sur vive the cold weather We just want to get out of the cold Ahlfield said she and her husband have been coming down to Canyon Lake for four years She loves the peo ple and the community he loves the golfing Another Winter Texan agreed Mary Ann McCuskey said they have great golf courses where she lives in Cloquet Minn But its hard to enjoy them when its 30 McCuskey and her hus band Harry have been com ing to New Braunfels for nine years to escape the Min nesota winters They stay outside Gruene every year And she said they come to the city because they prefer the quaint atmosphere of New Braunfels to crowded RV parks in other areas They also said they love the community and its vari ety of people of all ages We kind of accept them as members of the commu Young said They vol unteer at our churches and in our Tiffany Soechting the event coordinator said Win ter Texans are important to the community because they keep area businesses pros perous during slow tourist months Brad Wuest Convention and Visitors Bureau chair said the event drew about 600 Winter Texans He said though the number is lower than usual he said it was a good turnout considering the weather and economy Violent crimes up almost 20 percent over previous year BY RON MALONEY Staff Writer Fueled by an increase in assaults of all types violent crime in the City of New Braunfels increased 19 per cent in 2002 In fact every major crime category except robbery showed significant upturns in 2002 according to statis tics released by city officials But the official who orga nizes National Night Out and other crime prevention pro grams says the statistics are cause for concern but not for alarm Assistant City Manager Don Ferguson called on citi zens to practice common sense crime prevention and become involved with the police department in helping to reduce crime Ferguson said the citys index crime rate the num ber of crimes reported increased on average 8 per cent Property crimes Fer guson said were up about 5 percent while violent crime increased 19 percent The increases interrupt an overall downward trend in the citys crime rate that reaches back to 1997 In Crime Stats 2001 the citys index crime rate dropped 6 percent This is still a very safe Ferguson stressed The increase is consistent with whats going on in communi ties around New Braunfels had no murders in the city limits in 2001 and only one in 2002 which grew out of a dispute between two women and evolved into a fatal con frontation between their hus bands But significant increases in aggravated assault and in sexual assaults were report ed last year Sexual assaults which stayed the same in 20002001 increased dra matically from 22 to 41 reports Any increase in these numbers is disturbing in my mind and is cause for con Ferguson said Its important that iesidents do everything they can to avoid falling victim to such To some degree Ferguson said both crimes have tradi tionally been underreported and officials are working to educate people and change that Part of the increase he See Source City of New Braunfels Comparison 20012002 Calls for police service 2001 2002 911 calls 2002 Total criminal offenses 2002 Total arrests 2001 2002 Major crimes Murder 2002 1 Sexual assault 2001 22 41 Robbery 2001 30 26 Assault 2001 744 2002 989 Total burglaries 2001 763 2002 989 Auto thefts 172 Fire tests out countys new telephone warning system BY RON MALONEY Staff Writer When the TEMTEX ware house on Engel Road explod ed into flames one week ago Comal County was able to test its new computer and telephonebased emergency warning system Comal County Emergency Management Coordinator Carol Edgett reported to com missioners court Thursday that 75 messages got to area residents informing them that they should evacuate the area and telling them the location of an American Red Cross shelter The fire was the first test of the newly installed system It came even before county officials had been trained in its use That training will begin next week when Edgett and the supervisors of city and county dispatch go to Ten nessee for a course at Dia logic Communications the firm that produced the sys tem When the system was used for the Engel Road after midnight Edgett reported 51 people the coun ty attempted to call were not reached Another 23 listened to the first couple of words of the message and then hung up according to County Judge Danny Scheel INSIDE Key Code 76 e 1 NBISD still reviewing Memorial options BY SEAN BOWLIN Staff Writer Emerging from a twohour special meeting Thursday New Braunfels Independent School District Superinten dent Ron Reaves said again like he did Wednesday that the Board of Trustees is still reviewing legal options before moving ahead with renova tion projects at Memorial Pri mary Memorial Elementary and Memorial Intermediate And more exploration is scheduled Reaves said Theyre going to meet again next Tuesday at the regular board meeting to con tinue to explore those Reaves said In October 2002 trustees approved a takeover agree REAVES ment with C o m in e r cial Indem nity Insur ance Com pany to fin ish renova tion work on the Memorial Schools begun by Associated Able Inc Board members terminated its construction contract with Associated Able Companies Inc in September 2002 after the bonding company declared Associated Able in default of its contract with the school district The take over agreement allowed Com mercial Indemnity Insurance Company to take over as a general contractor on the con struction job School district officials liat the top construction priori ties as completion of the roof ing work restrooms and administrative office areas and corridors at Memorial Primary and Memorial Ele mentary Though the construction company has been declared in default the district has not lost any money Thats why the district requires the pay ment and performance Reaves said Wednes day NBISD requires all projects more than to be pro tected by an Aplus Treasury Department payment and performance bond in accor dance with the law
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