New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 8, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas 4AI Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | herald-zeitung.com OPINION Time to find safety solution for River Road Safety precautions on the River Road have been up for discussion and study this year. But tourist season is _ already here. River Road is a long line of traffic moving at various speed and varied levels of sobriety from now until Labor Day. Tourist season postpones so many decisions to the fall — and issues with traffic on River Road seem to be among them. _ In early February, the Water Oriented Recreation District board of directors asked Comal County commissioners for help installing rumble strips on approaches to the four Guadalupe River bridges across River Road. In addition to the rumble strips, the WORD board also wants warning signs to tell drivers to slow down well before they reached the bridges. In response, county commissioners requested a study be done. At the end of March, the commissioners sat down to review the results of the study conducted by the county engineering department. which showed there have been 24 accidents at bridges on River Road since 2006. In 58 percent of them, speeding was a contributing factor. In 29 percent, alcohol or drug use was a contributing factor. Thirty-three percent of the wrecks occurred at night. At the time, commissioners were concerned about spending taxpayer money on safety measures and the issue has not come up again at Commissioners’ Court. Since then, two people have died in accidents on River Road On April 13. an elderly woman was found dead after her car flipped into the Guadalupe along River Road near the Fourth Crossing. On May 15. a man died in a fatal motorcycle wreck after he lost control on the bridge before the First Crossing. River Road is not designed for the traffic it gets. It is a dangerous road full of sudden curves that lead onto bridges that do not have barriers or fences. It is the logical approach to ask — just as the commissioners did — that people drive responsibly. But history shows people will speed, drivers will have too much to drink before getting behind the wheel — and no well-meaning lecture from a public official or editorial page writer is going to stop them. It's time for officials to examine what can be done on River Road before it takes another life. Concrete barriers should be placed on the bridges that do not have anything separating drivers from the road or, worse, drivers from pedestrians. Rumble strips are a good step that should be consid- AT ISSUE There have already been two fatal accidents on River Road this year. OUR VIEW Commissioners, WORD should install rumble strips, bridge barriers. ered. And the county staff street lamp suggestion should be put back on the table, considering that a third of the wrecks since 2006 occurred at night. Something needs to be done. Until then, perhaps the county could use one of those solar-powered ‘7our Speed” signs commissioners voted to purchase last week on River Road to remind drivers to slow down. ONLINE EXTRA: CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS Contact information for of all your elected officials — local, state and national — can be found at herald-zeitung.com HZ HERALD-ZEITUNG EDITORIAL BOARD Publisher and Editor Doug Toney Mwwvinf f drtot Autumn PMkps OcutMion Director Jefl taeter Alt* Etttm Shtwr lient Copy wfetw Keti Thom« LETTERS POUCY The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung welcomes letters up to 250 words and guest columns of up to 500 words. Guest columns must be accompanied by a photo. The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit or reject all submissions. All submissions must inciude an address and telephone number so authorship can be confirmed. Submit letters • By e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org • Online at herald-zeitung.com • By mail to: Letters to the Editor, Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78130 • By fax: (830)606-3413 • In person: 707 Landa St. Outer Loop would destroy one of'greatest drives' Congratulations to everyone in this county for maintaining River Road as one of the "51 Great Scenic Drives," as the best in Texas! Referencing Carter Casteel’s June 2 letter to the editor, "You would think that somehow we could figure out how to protect and manage such a beautiful natural resource with respect to property nghts and without damage to our economy." Many tax-paying citizens oppose the proposed Outer Loop road because the bridge over the Guadalupe at Second Crossing will destroy the scenic value and will threaten the ecological balance. The major highway that would be the Loop will also destroy the beauty and serenity of much of the county as crosscountry trucks create noxious fumes and noise pollution. Surely our elected officials will protect and manage this beautiful resource that is Comal County by finding an alternative to the seriously destructive Outer Loop. Nancy Nay LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Don't commit crape murder on crape myrtles I just moved here last year. I picked New Braunfels because it is a beautiful town. We found a lovely place outside town and I am happily settling in. But this winter it was distressing to watch the beautiful crape myrtles around town being butchered. This is commonly called "crape murder.” It weakens the plant and ruins it’s unique structure. It also lessens the amount of blossoms. Any landscaper who slashes the tops off of crape myrtles is obviously not trained and should not be advertising themselves as professional. For information on how to prune and take care of crape myrtles, you can visit www.crapemyrtletrails.org . Let's keep New Braunfels beautiful, please. Thank you. Cyndyc Batchelor Calling a voucher program Medicare is disingenuous Congressman Lamar Smith supports the Ryan Budget Plan, which ends Medicare as we know it for anyone under 55. Smith claims that he’s actually protecting Medicare from collapse by doubling or even tripling the costs future seniors would pay. Mr. Smith fails to inform us that the program he voted for will only pay a fixed amount to private insurers who can charge any amount they want for any level of coverage they to choose to offer and deny coverage to anyone they wish all in the name of making a profit. While a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, calling a voucher program Medicare is disingenuous at best. I’m 44 years old and can’t get private coverage now due to several medical conditions. What insurance company does Smith think will want to cover me when l’m 67? There are any number of ways to address the projected funding shortfall including raising premiums, raising co-pays and forcefully prosecuting Medicare fraud. Mr. Smith needs to understand that handing us steaming longhorn droppings and calling it roses doesn’t make it roses. Melissa Dufresne Cibolo The Associated Press Today is Wednesday; June 8. On June 8,1861, voters in Tennessee approved an Ordinance of Secession passed the previous month by the state legislature. In AD. 632, the prophet Muhammad died in Medina. In 1845, Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, died in Nashville, Tenn. In 1864, Abraham Lincoln was nominated for another term as president during the National Union (Republican) Party's convention in Baltimore. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt offered to act as a mediator in the Russo-Japanese War. In 1915, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in a dis- TODAY IN HISTORY agreement with President Woodrow Wilson over U.S. handling of the sinking of the Lusitania. In 1953, the Supreme Court ruled that restaurants in the District of Columbia could not refuse to serve blacks. In 1966, a merger was announced between the National and American Football Leagues, to take effect in 1970. In 1967,34 U.S. servicemen were killed when Israel attacked the USS Liberty, a Navy intelligence-gathering ship in the Mediterranean. (Israel later said the Liberty had been mistaken for an Egyptian vessel.) In 1978, a jury in Clark County, Nev., ruled the so-called "Mormon will," purportedly written by the late billionaire Howard Hughes, was a forgery. In 1995, U.S. Marines rescued Capt. Scott O'Grady, whose F-16C fighter jet had been shot down by Bosnian Serbs on June 2. Ten years ago: A knife-wielding man killed eight children at a Japanese elementary school on the outskirts of Osaka. (The killer, Mamoru Takuma, was executed in Sept. 2004.) Five years ago: The Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer. Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa, a lawyer from Bahrain, was elected U.N. General Assembly president, the first woman from the Middle East to take the post. One year ago: In South Carolina, political unknown Alvin Greene won the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. 82nd Texas Legislature tackles unfinished work in special session AUSTIN — State lawmakers did not go home on May 30, the last day of the regular session of the 82nd Texas Legislature. Their work was incomplete when time ran out. A Senate filibuster over cutbacks in education funding has been the main pointed-to reason for the holdover. But Gov. Rick Perry issued proclamations listing plenty of other problems he also wants lawmakers to solve in the I st called session, which commenced May 31. They are: An accounting clean-up bill for House Bill I. the state budget passed in the regular session; Health care cost containment (through an as-yet uncreated interstate health care compact instead of the federal government); Access to services through managed care; Economic and structural incentives to improve the quality of Medicaid services; a ED STERLING COLUMNIST Congressional redistricting; and Reform of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. 6 House and Senate committees moved quickly. The powerful House Appropriations Committee, under Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxa-hachie, considered the state fiscal matters bill on June 2 and passed it on Saturday, June 4. The bill employs accounting strategies such as payment delays and deferrals and tax collection speed-ups to balance the budget. And. to smooth the way toward agreement with the upper chamber. Pitts said, the House will take up and consider the Senate's version of the bill passed June 3 by the Senate Finance Committee under the leadership of Chairman Steve Ogden. R-Bryan. SB 8 by Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro. R-Plano. was approved at committee level. It would allow school districts, instead of firing or laying off teachers, to furlough them and grant unpaid leave, as long as funding remains less than 20IQ-2011 levels. SB 7 by Senate Health and Human Services Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, also was approved by the committee. It identifies $3 billion in efficiency savings that could be accomplished through agency rule changes, such as moving Medicaid prescription benefits under managed care programs and implementing an electronic visit verification system, to ensure that reimbursements to providers are paid for actual services. Supposing the momentum continues with Republican majorities in the full House and full Senate, school districts and the taxpayers responsible for most of their funding, will face a 2012-2013 biennium with $4 billion less to work with than they had in the 2010-2011 state budget. House and Senate members are expected to try to attach amendments to school funding and other legislation in floor debates to come. Panel OKs smoking ban bill Public places where food and alcohol are consumed would go smokeless under legislation by Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas. Crownover s HB 46 aligns with “economic and structural incentives to improve the quality of Medicaid services” in the governor's special session goals and also aligns with general cost-cutting measures. In June 4 testimony, Crownover said that banning smoking in public places could save the state $31 million in 2012 and 2013 in smoking-related costs that would include hospitalization, doctor visits, medication and more. The House Appropriations Committee approved Crownover’s bill on a vote of 19-1. with freshman Rep. Charles Schwertner. R-George-town. an orthopedic surgeon, voting against. In closing. Crownover said more than 20 states have passed similar legislation and she didn’t want to see Texas, and especially rural Texas towns that may not pass antismoking ordinances, attract more smokers and become “ashtrays." Social media to help TxDOT June I was the first day of hurricane season. The Texas Department of Transportation’s is planning to make greater use of Twitter feeds and Facebook postings to get helpful emergency information to Texans faster and more efficiently. TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz said. “If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that social media is an effective way to reach thousands of Texas citizens.” Officials laud prayer decision Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott in separate news releases praised a June 3 federal court decision to allow a prayer to be delivered in public during a Texas high school's graduation ceremonies. Under a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a district judge’s injunction that would have censored prayer at Medina Valley High School's 2011 graduation has been dissolved.