New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 23, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 149, No, 111
48 pages in 4 sections
April 23, 2000
Serving Comal County since 1852
$1.00After raid, Elian back with father
By Calvin Woodward
Associated Press Writer
Seized in darkness, the little castaway adrift for five months in an international custody battle was placed in his father’s arms Saturday after federal agents used battering rams and pepper spray to hustle him from Miami and the relatives fighting to block his return to communist Cuba.
“We’re taking you to see your papa,” an agent told a terrified Elian Gonzalez, ending the protracted standoff in three frantic minutes with an armed raid that sparked protests through Miami and debate over the Clinton administration’s use of force.
Crying with fright, the 6-year-old Cuban boy was taken before dawn by agents brandishing rifles and flown to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, where he was in seclusion with his father, stepmoth
er and baby half-brother.
Though in his father’s custody, Elian’s fate remains unsettled. The courts will ultimately rule on whether the boy should remain in the United States.
Unrest spread through Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood as protesters spilled into the streets, lighting street fires and struggling with police carrying batons and shields. More than 230 were arrested.
“What’s happening?” Elian yelled in Spanish as riot-clad agents armed with automatic weapons burst into the Miami relatives’ home. They found him in a closet in the arms of the same fisherman who had rescued him from the sea on Thanksgiving Day — and now had to hand him over.
Hours later, the boy whose mother drowned fleeing Cuba was getting reacquainted with his father, Juan
The Fight Over Elian
After five months, reunited with his father
Shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday, federal agents seized six-year-old Elian Gonzalez from his relatives’ home in Miami.
©Agents used pepper spray to hold back the crowd, while eight others entered the house to take the boy. Within three minutes he was brought by a female, Spanish-speaking agent to a van waiting in front of the house.
OHe was driven to Watson Island, where a waiting helicopter took him to Homestead Air Force Base.
Miami Inti. Airport
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At Homestead, Elian was examined by a doctor. By 6 a.m., he was on a U.S. Marshal’s plane bound for Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, where he was reunited with his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez.
See ELIAN/8A Source: Compiled from AP wire reports
Key code 77City council to hear public comment on tax rate
By Heather Todd Staff Writer
New Braunfels residents will get to tell city council Monday how' they feel about a proposed 2 percent tax rate increase.
New Braunfels City Council will hear public comment on the proposed tax rate hike when they meet 6:30 p.m. Monday at New Braunfels Municipal Building, 424 S. Casten St.
On April IO, council unanimously approved a proposed $.32
■ Five-year plan to raise golf fees up for review./! 0A
per $100 valuation tax rate that could increase the city’s total tax revenues by IO percent.
The average household (with a value of about $80,000) already pays $ 199 a year in property taxes. The increase would bring that total to $203.47.
The current tax rate is $.31312
per $100 valuation.
Both the tax rate and a proposed $20 million budget will go before council for final approval May8.
The maximum allowable tax rate possible without requiring a rollback election is $.33125 per $100 valuation — a rate that would cost the average household about $211.
With the 32-cent tax rate, the city could get about $165,000 more in revenue ($3,455,206)
than the effective tax rate of $.30783 per $100 valuation ($3,289,720). The effective tax rate generates the same amount of property tax as the previous year.
District 3 councilman Randy Vanstory proposed raising the tax rate to $.32 per $100 valuation because he said the city relied too heavily on revenue from sales tax.
“I firmly believe that you get what you pay for,” he said. “As a city, we need to balance out our
portf olio. A huge part of our portfolio is in sales tax, which is a volatile source of revenue. If the economy turns south, it won’t be there.
“lf we don’t keep up with increased values, we’re going to put ourselves in a hole. And we are not going to able to provide basic services to our community.” Local resident David Stinch-comb told council he supported raising the tax rate to pay for
Couple says their voter card lists wrong district
By Heather Todd Staff Writer
New Braunfels residents should check their voter registration cards to make sure they are listed in the correct single-member districts before going to the polls this week.
Local residents could be listed in the wrong single-member district, which could affect their ability to vote in May 6 city council races.
At least one New Braunfels couple says that has happened to them.
Lee and Eva Hunnicutt, 2247 Gruene Road, tried to cast ballots in the District 4 city council race April 20, but were told by election officials they were not eligible to vote because they lived in District 5.
“We went down to the courthouse and the election clerk looked at the list and said we lived in District 5. They checked several times and I didn’t want to argue so we went ahead and voted in the bond election but didn’t vote in the candidate election,” Lee Hunnicutt said.
Only residents in District 3 and 4 are eligible to vote in the council races.
The Hunnicutts’ current voter registration cards list them as living in District 5.
But they live only two houses down from District 4 candidate Robert Kendrick. And neighbors on the other side of their residence are listed in District 4 as well, Lee Hunnicutt said.
This past year, the Hunnicutts were listed in District 5, but their voter registration cards from 1996 and 1997 list them as District 4 residents.
City officials said district boundaries have not been changed in the past five years.
According to a city map of the voting districts, District 4 encompasses the northeast New Braunfels area, including Gruene, the Loop 337 and Common Street area and the Loop 337 and River Road area. District 4 is bordered by Interstate 35 to the east, the
■ Early voting for the May 6 election continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Comal County Courthouse through May 2.
■ Sample bailots/6B
Easter has special meaning this year at Sts. Peter Sc Paul
► Easter traditions
Many if not all of the Easter traditions we honor in this country originated in Germany. Learn how they’ve survived./! C
► Dangerous Spilt
A local band has been ranked in the top 25 of 150 bands in the KISS Unsigned Band Competition./4A
The clergy and altar servers, left, bow at the altar during Saturday evening’s mass.
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
► Horse racing
Braunfels resident Tooter Jordan has been working with horses for 35 years and shows no sign of stopping./ !B
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church was by all accounts beautiful Saturday afternoon when Monsignor Eugene O’ Callaghan celebrated Catholicism and Christendom’s most important day.
But he wasn’t only celebrating the Easter Mass.
Inside, the lustrous, highly polished hardwoods glowed. Outside, the soft white natural limestone reflected the afternoon sun of a perfect, breezy spring day.
Hundreds smiled in joy and pride as they joined in hymns, answered calls to prayer and as they left at the end of the service.
They didn’t mind that around parts of Saints Peter and Paul Church were steel scaffolds — visible from inside through new and as-yet clear, unstained windows — bits of blocks, and other accoutrements of a construction site.
Because that’s what the church has been for nearly two years — a construction site.
For Easter Sunday, parishioners got their church back after two years of attending Mass in a gym.
And it wasn’t only beautiful — it was bigger.
Msgr. O’Callaghan celebrated more than Easter services — he celebrated his parishioners, dedicated their brand-new church and praised their accomplishment in seeing a $5 million dream realized.
“A blessed Easter to each one of you this evening,” Msgr. O’Callaghan told the parishioners who packed the enlarged and renovated church’s premiere service. “This is a very special occasion for
See EASTER/5 A
Monsignior Eugene O’Callaghan blesses the congregation with holy water during the Saturday evening Easter mass. This was the first mass held in the newly renovated Sts. Peter and Paul Church.