New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 6, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6,2005
ALL FO* ODC W
Guest columnist Arlon Hermes says it's time for voters to know the facts about the fairgrounds. Page 4A
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852.
SPORTS HEAD TO HEAD
New Braunfels and Canyon advance to regional final against each other; Smithson Valley falls. Page GA
Vol. 154, No. 119 14 pages, 2 sections
Sunny I High Low
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DEAR ABBY 48 CLASSIFIEDS 48 COMICS 3B CROSSWORD 38 FORUM 4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS SA TV GRIDS 38Trial opens in ‘gruesome’ child abuse case
By Bon Maloney
A 39-year-old New Braunfels man could go to prison for the rest of his life in a child abuse case investigators early in 2004 called the worst ever seen in this county.
Raymond Joseph Fierro, a former West Bridge Street resident, faces three counts of injury to a child for wounds allegedly inflicted on an 8-year-old boy.
The first charge, injury to a child intending to cause serious bodily
injury, carries a five to 99 year prison sentence on conviction.
The other two, third-degree felonies, carry two to IO year sentences. Fierro is being held in Comal County Jail.
His girlfriend, Michele Lacy May,
pleaded guilty in June to a charge of beating the boy with a belt and belt buckle in exchange for a three year prison sentence.
Fierro’s trial opened Monday with jury selection before 207th Judicial District Judge Jack Robison.
Tuesday, prosecutors Von Bunn and Ed Springer opened with testimony from medical witnesses who treated the boy at McKenna Memorial Hospital early Jan. 13,2004.
See TRIAL, Page 5A
a growing problem
By Leigh Jones
A growing problem in Comal County
■ Today - Understanding the issue
■ April 13 - A family recovers
*• April IO - Pemtty
■ April 27 - Making a difference
Testimony in what law enforcement officials have labeled the “worst ever" case of child abuse in Comal County began Tuesday.
Unfortunately, the trial is not unique.
According to the latest set of statistics available, Comal County CPS investigated 401 child abuse cases in 2003 —1.9 percent of the total child population for that year.
Statewide, the agency investigated 2.17 percent of the
child population for allegations of abuse or neglect.
While Comal County’s caseload is fighter than average, Child Protective Services Supervisor Sherry Flume cautioned against assuming the community did not have a problem.
“We have our fair share of abuse victims,” she said. “Unless you’re touched by it, you’re not really aware of the problem."
Flume’s team handled 58 case referrals in March, a pretty typical month.
Those numbers would have been higher, she contends, without help from other local agencies — Communities in Schools, in particular.
CIS has social workers in almost every Comal County school. Their job is to identify at-risk students to prevent them from
See ABUSE, Page 5A
Candidates take off gloves in opening forum
By Leigh Jones and Scott Mahon
The first public jabs in the New Braunfels municipal election were thrown Tuesday when District 6 challenger Lynn Limmer said incumbent Ken Valentine had not done a good job of representing his constituents.
Limmer, Valentine and eight other candidates in the New Braunfels City Council and Comal Independent School District elections participated
in a forum open only to Leadership New Braunfels alumni.
Each candidate was given three minutes to present their platform.
Limmer struck hard at Valentine, who ran unopposed in 2002.
“The people in District 6 want a change,” she said. “If Mr. Valentine had done a good job, I wouldn't be standing here today. The voters in District 6 want someone who will represent the entire district.”
Valentine countered that the hallmark of his tenure was that his position on issues was always clear.
“I’ve always been very clear on how I feel about drainage issues, impact fees, street improvements and the civic center,” he said.
Bruce Boyer, who is running against incumbent mayor Adam Cork, said the city’s
See FORUM, Page 5A
UPCOMING FORUMS I April 13, 6:30 p.m. — Hosted by the Comal County Senior Center at the senior center, 655 Landa St.
I April 16, 9 to 10:30 a.m. — Hosted by radio station KGNB.
I April 16, 1 p.m. — Hosted by Holy Family Church at 245 South Hilaago Ave.
I April 18, 7 p.m. — Hosted by The New Braunfels Republican Women at the Brauntex Theatre. ______
I April 19, 6 p.m. — Hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Municipal Building, 424 South Casted.
Boyer challenges Cork on financial reports
By Scott Mahon
New Braunfels mayoral candidate Bruce Boyer cited his belief in open government as his reason for turning in his campaign contributions before Thursday’s due date.
“Why should voters wait almost two weeks to look at campaign finance reports?” Boyer asked in a prepared press release. “I encourage other can
didates to voluntarily disclose their campaign finances eady as well."
But Boyer’s counterpart in the mayoral election, Mayor Adam Cork, said Monday he felt Boyer’s advance report was a public relations move.
Cork, who is completing his first temi, said he would file his financial report Thursday, the day that candidate’s are
See BOYER, Page 3A
Debate about civic center continues
By Scott Mahon
Years after voters in New Braunfels agreed to use hotel taxes to first expand the existing civic center and then build a new center, the city council filmily agreed to move ahead Monday.
But the council’s 6-1 vote to approve an $11.3 million budget to renovate the civic center did little to answer questions about the need for more parks for youth athletics and the need for more space for the arts.
“The greatest gift the city could give would be better youth sports facilities,” said Kathleen Krueger, who is running for the District 5 council seat in the May 7 election. “The civic center should be improved, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Others said upgrading the civic center would benefit the performing arts in New Braunfels.
“If we don’t have an adequate facility, we can’t expand the arts in New Braunfels,” said David Mairs, director of the Mid-Texas Symphony. “You have the opportunity to invest in a vision for New Braunfels.”
One city council member wanted assurance that expanding the civic center would include expanding city hall, which is one block behind the civic center.
“We’ve outgrown city hall,” said District 2 Councilwoman Beth Sokolyk.
Sokolyk also said upgrading youth sports facilities and expanding the civic center weren’t mutually exclusive.
“We do need better sports facilities, but we also need a renovated civic center,” she said.
District 6 Councilman Ken Valentine said he wouldn’t support the project if private funds weren’t used.
“We can’t use HOT tax money
New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce President Michael Meek, above, is a huge proponent of renovating the civic center. Meek says an improved civic center could bring thousands of visitors into the city each year. Below, a consultant's drawing of the expanded civic center.
See CENTER, Page 2A
for youth sports facilities, but we can use 4B funds,” he said. “HOT tax and private money should be used to expand the civic center, not 4B or general fund money.” District 4 Councilwoman Valerie Hull, who four weeks ago revived the idea of expanding the civic center, again expressed her frustration over Monday’s debate.
“We have to tackle one problem at a time,” she said. “This has been going on for IO years because we always get into the same argument over sports, the civic center and arts.”
Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce President Michael Meek and Mayor Adam Cork said HOT tax funds could not legally be used for sports facilities.
Both also said state law allows cities to add 2 percent to the local HOT tax that could legally be used for sports venues.
“Sports activities is a huge draw for the community,” Cork said. “And, in fact, we’re looking at the possibility of building new fields for soccer, softball and baseball
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