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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 20, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Herald-ZkitungVol. 149 No. 109    14    pages    in    2    sections    April    20,    2000    rn    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents Thursday Officials working to relieve phone disruptions By Heather Todd Staff Writer Officials with Southwestern Bell in San Antonio said they are working to relieve network congestion that has caused major disruptions in phone and Internet service in the New Braunfels area recently. But, improvements might not happen soon enough for some residents and business owners. Southwestern Bell customers throughout the New Braunfels area have experienced sporadic disruptions in placing and receiving calls and connecting to the Internet during the past two months. Jena Evans, a spokeswoman for Southwestern Bell in San Antonio, said the majority of the New Braunfels area has experienced some disruption in service because the network has been operating at capacity. In a written statement, company officials said, “Network congestion can be attributed to the recent and dramatic increase in Internet traffic and the associated increase in call duration, which has placed unprecedented demands on the network.” Evans said, “The system is at capacity. It just happens no matter where you are.” Evans said population growth in the area combined with the number of people using the Internet and customers placing longer phone calls put greater demands on the network. “Usually the problems have occurred at the time of peak hours between 5 and 7 p.m., or in the early evening when everyone gets home from work and jumps on the Internet or makes phone calls,” she said. Evans said Southwestern Bell began receiving calls about the problems in early March or late February. Evans said it was impossible to determine what specific areas of New Braunf els are affected by the network problems, but she said the majority of local customers were experiencing disruptions. Richele Brooks, who lives in the Rhine Terrace subdivision off North Business 35, said during a two-week period she did not have any phone service in the evenings. “I’d get home from work about 6 p.m. and wasn’t able to use my phone at all. I’d keep trying several times every night to try to get through, but when I did it would cut me off,” she said. “I couldn’t even check my voice mail.” Typically, Brooks said she would hear tones and a message stating that all circuits were busy. And, she said most residents in her neighborhood experienced similar problems. “I called Southwestern Bell about it, they came out and said it was fixed, but it wasn’t,” she said. Brooks said the disruptions suddenly stopped about a See PHONE/8A Loopward ho! New businesses sprout up along . Loop 337 By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Loop 337 is a major traffic artery that helps people get in and out of New Braunfels — and even around it. Near the northernmost end of its two Interstate 35 accesses there has been considerable growth in recent years. Now, three businesses — a prominent bank and a pair of restaurants — are building on Loop 337 near Common Street. All cite the traffic, accessibility and visibility of the area as reasons for locating there. One, the Wells Fargo Bank, is moving out of a cramped downtown facility it has sold to another bank. (See related story.) Another, Sonic Drive In, is adding a second New Braunfels location. The third, Lone Star Cafe, is moving here to crack a market the 11-restaurant chain has been eyeing for awhile. The growth around the Loop illustrates growth issues as they exist in many places, as communities — often landlocked downtown — push outward and businesses look to better serve their customers or find new ones in areas that have better vehicular access, are easier to find and have more room. Harry Bennett, director of planning for New Braunfels, said he has seen considerable interest in the northeast quadrant of the city, where the Loop 337/Common Street intersection is. He noted a pair of hundred-acre subdivisions — Cotton Crossing and Gruene Crossing — and the numbers of people who live out that way. The residential growth, Bennett says, creates pressure for business and commercial services. “Those people in that part of the See LOOP/8A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Todd Weaver, above, works on welding a beam at the future Sonic on Loop 337. Below, equipment and workers are moving at a hectic pace as they build new businesses along Loop 337. First State Bank grows downtown By Ron Maloney Staff Writer When Wells Fargo Bank closes its Mill Street branch to move out to die Loop, it will provide a downtown growth opportunity for a neighbor who really needs one. Bill Cone, head of Wells Fargo’s New Braunfels operations, said First State Bank is purchasing Wells Fargo’s East Mill Street location — for its drive-through facilities. “It’s a great opportunity for them,” Cone said. “They could use the drive-in space.” First State Bank, located on the Main Plaza, now has a two- See BANK/8A Couple’s bunnies transform neighborhood BY K. JESSIE SLATEN Herald-Zeitung Photographer Hilmar G. (Buck) and Elaine Wenzel have been decorating their front yard for close to 15 years. It started with one plastic inflatable bunny tied to a white picket fence and has grown to a weeklong production. With 51 inflated rabbits and more than 600 plastic Easter eggs, the house at the end of S. Academy has become a favorite for children of all ages. Elaine Wenzel said the reason for the rabbit population explosion was simple: “We just enjoy it.” As they fuss over which bunny goes where, the yard gradually shapes up into a bright, mini-wonderland. Neigh bors are already stopping by to take pictures. There’s an Easter tree, mobiles, two 6-foot rabbits in lawn chairs, even bunny footprints. It’s a lot to take in. At one time, they hid dollar bills in the plastic eggs, but that is one thing they’ve stopped. Their grandson has long been too old for such things, so now the eggs are just another part of the eye-candy. Many of the decorations are store-bought, especially the older, longer lasting ones. Over the years, neighbors have started donating to the collection. Sometimes before, sometimes after Easter, friends and family bring over new additions. It now takes the couple all week to set up their pastel display, but next year’s plans are already in the works. “I’m planning something simple,” Mrs. Wenzel said. She spent all day Wednesday (her birthday) and much of Monday and Tuesday working in the yard. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandson also were enlisted. “We don’t decorate for Christmas, or any other holiday,” Mrs. Wenzel said. Easter, she says, is special, “especially for the children.” The family agrees that Himler is probably on his third childhood about now. Maybe they’re right. if f V Friends, family and neighbors have come to expect a pastel Easter display from Hilmar and Elaine Wenzel. Each year, the bright display has grown “just a little bigger'’ on S. Academy. K. JESSIE SLATEN/ Herald-ZeitungInside Abby................................5A Classifieds.......................4-6B Comics...............................3B Crossword..........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies..................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................1-2B Today.................................2 A Television................................SA Key Code 76 1-35 accident injures woman, backs up traffic By Erin MAGRUDER Staff Writer A tire blowout might have caused a 69-year-old San Antonio woman’s vehicle to flip over on Interstate 35 Wednesday afternoon near the Schwab Road exit in Schertz— sending the woman to a San Antonio hospital and backing up southbound traffic into New Braunfels. As of press time Wednesday, the woman remained in stable condition at Brooke Army Medical Center where she was treated for severe lacerations to her head and hand, officials said. The accident occurred about 2:20 p.m. when the woman, the only occupant of a 1990 Honda Accord 4-door, was headed southbound in the middle lane of 1-35, said Schertz Police Department officer Todd Barrett. “The front left tire of her vehicle probably had a blowout,” Barrett said. “She veered into the fast lane and struck the cement barrier.” The Honda reportedly flipped end over end before skidding and coming to rest upside down in the center lane of traffic— narrowly escaping collision with an 18- wheeler, Barrett said. “She was very lucky the 18-wheeler was able to stop in time,” he said. The woman was conscious and talking when she was transported by ambulance by Schertz Area Facility for Emergency Services personnel, Barrett said. Police initially had requested the woman be airlifted to San Antonio, but the two Air-life helicopters were not available, he said. Officials opted to transport the woman by ambulance to BAMC instead of requesting Starflight from Austin—which might have taken a longer period of time, police said.    c.t The Honda was extensively damaged in the collision, which demolished the front end and partially caved in the roof and rear end of the vehicle. SPD officers were able to clear the accident scene in about an hour, Barrett said. Comal County Sheriff’s Office and New Braunfels Police Department officers also responded and routed traffic around the accident site. At one point, traffic was backed up all the way to the Engel Road exit in New Braunfels. ;