New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 28, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol, 149 No. 115
pages in 2 sections April 28, 2000
Serving Comal County since 1852
Mold problems cause two classroom closures
► Reader’s Choice
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
A mold problem brought to the attention of officials two months ago by a pair of teachers who complained of illness has caused the closure of two classrooms at Canyon Intermediate School.
Comal Independent School District Public Information Officer Kari Hutchison said two of the four classrooms located behind the CIS cafeteria were closed in March.
Two teachers who worked in the rooms complained of allergy-like reactions —dizziness, nausea and headaches — and an investigation was launched, Hutchison said. No
CIS students were believed affected.
“No children I know of have complained of a consistent illness and connected it with the mold,” Hutchison said. “We’d like people to know that we identified the rooms where we had a serious problem and we moved people out promptly.”
“We’re working closely with affected staff,” CIS Principal Maggie Hanna said late Thursday.
She said she couldn’t discuss confidential medical matters dealing with district employees.
“If anybody feels they were affected, we want to hear about it and we’re dealing with it,”
she said. “We’re concerned. We’re doing everything we can to make sure the school is a healthy place.”
Around a dozen or so students used each of the closed rooms, and usually for less than two hours each day, Hanna said.
The mold, for the most part concentrated in the lower walls and baseboard areas of the two most-affected rooms and later proved to be a non-toxic variety, Hutchison said. But she noted that the relative toxicity of the fungus didn’t matter.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to aggressively address this,” she said Thursday. “We’re taking it very seriously because the
Music to their ears
Strolling through the lunch-room crowd at Canyon Middle
School, Pearly Sowell played a few tunes for students and explained the workings of the accordion to eighth-grader Tim Hirsch (far left). Sowell told students of the lifetime joy that music can bring to their lives.
Communication system worn out, officials say
By Heather Todd
In the future, New Braunfels Police and New Braunfels Fire and Rescue personnel could use mobile laptop computers to check a person’s criminal history or access building floor plans when responding to emergency situations.
But, the city’s 25-year-old communications system does not have the capability to provide this kind of technology.
And more importantly, the system currently does not provide reliable radio service to emergency personnel.
New Braunfels Police Chief Ray Douglas said local emergency personnel often have difficulty receiving and transmitting information when responding to emergency calls because of heavy radio interference.
“(The system) has been here since I came here 25 years ago and it’s tired and worn out. The equipment is good because we replace each year, but it’s the frequency that’s the problem,” Douglas said.
Local residents can vote on the $32.72 million bond package, including Proposition 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Monday and Tuesday at the Comal County Courthouse annex room 101. Special voting hours also will take place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the courthouse
Douglas and New Braunfels Fire and Rescue Chief Jack Collier said a proposed $700,000 emergency communications system would provide a “clutter-free” frequency and provide better communication with officers in the field.
Through the Lower Colorado River Authority, New Braunfels could purchase a “state-of-the-art” communications system for $700,000 with an annual lease of $50,000.
The communications system is Prop. 2 on
a seven-proposition $32.72 million bond package that will go before voters May 6.
If the proposition passes, the new system would increase the current 31 cent per $ 100 valuation tax rate by .82 cent, including the impact on the debt service and maintenance and operations tax rates.
A resident owning a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay about $8 more in taxes or $321 a year, instead of $313.
Douglas said the city could replace or repair the existing system, but it could cost $1.5 million to $3 million with another vendor, plus the cost of repairs and maintenance.
“We can’t afford to stay where we’re at,” Douglas said.
“We are very conscious of taxpayers money. I think this will give us the biggest bang for the buck,” he said.
Douglas said the city purchased one of the early public safety radio frequencies about 25 years ago. But the same or similar frequencies have been assigned to many other agencies,
See BON D/3 A
health of our employees and students is very important to us.”
On March 13, CISD officials had air quality tests conducted at the school by Raba-Kistner Consultants Inc., an engineering firm with offices in San Antonio specializing in environmental consulting, geotechnical engineering and construction testing.
“Early in March, because of the concerns expressed by the teachers, we began to suspect we had mold,” Hutchison said. “By mid-March, we knew we did.
“Even before we confirmed it — it takes time to get the results back, you have to growSee MOLD/3AThe results are in! Find out the best of Comal County./lnside
Water flow critically low
Residents could face mandatory watering restrictions
By Erin Magruder
The recent heat wave coupled with a lack of rainfall have rapidly declined the Edwards Aquifer to near critical levels — meaning area residents could be facing mandatory watering restrictions as early as Monday, officials said.
The aquifer level has dropped more than five feet since Friday, and if the trend continues during the weekend, the Edwards will reach the critical level of 650 feet above mean sea level early next week.
As of Wednesday, a San Antonio index well indicated the aquifer level was 653.1 feet above mean sea level.
Officials say it is only a matter of time before the aquifer reaches the critical level — at which point both the City of New Braunfels and Edwards Aquifer Authority will institute mandatory water conservation measures.
In New Braunfels, Mayor Stoney Williams will impose Stage I watering restrictions when the aquifer reaches the critical level or if the flow of Comal Springs falls below 250 cubic feet per second, whichever comes first, said city manager Mike Shands.
The springs were measured at 263 cfs Thursday, and have been dropping an average of 3 cfs per day, he said.
The Edwards Aquifer has been falling about one foot per day, officials said.
Even though New Braunfels residents have relied on treated surface since the construction of a plant in 1991, conservation of the Edwards Aquifer still is a priority, Shands said.
“We realize water is a regional issue and the Edwards Aquifer is a very important resource,” Shands said.
And the city is not completely independent of the Edwards because it must supplement the plant’s supply with aquifer wells during rare times of peak
Stage 1 restrictions/3A
demand during summer months.
Alleviating strain on the aquifer also is important because it feeds the Comal Springs and Landa Lake, which provides a habitat for endangered species that rely on adequate water flows, Shands said.
“Our local economy also is dependent upon adequate flows for recreational purposes,” Shands said.
About 1/2 inch to one inch of a good, soaking rainfall this weekend could delay implementation of the restrictions, but only by several days, officials said.
The best chance for rain would be Sunday, when a 40 percent chance of rain is predicted, and a slight chance of rain also is predicted for Saturday night and early next week. But temperatures also are predicted to soar into the nineties. National Weather Service forecasters said.
The city watering restrictions would be implemented until the aquifer steadied at an average of 650 feet above mean sea level for IO days, Shands said.
For county residents who have wells over the Edwards Aquifer, the critical
JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Anita Claycomb relaxes at Landa Par*. Spring flow levels are down again this year
Free shots offered Saturday
From Staff Reports
Schlitterbahn is offering children — and their families’ finances — a shot in the arm on its opening day Saturday with its sixth annual “Shots Across Texas” free immunization clinic.
The clinic will be conducted from IO a.m. to I p.m. at Schlitterbahn’s Rapids Pavilion located next to the park’s Blastenhoff section on Lincoln Street in New Braunfels.
In addition to the free immunizations, each immunized child less than 17 years old will receive a free ticket for admission to Schlitterbahn. Adults who escort a child under three years
old will also receive a free ticket.
“With new immunization guidelines going into effect this year, we think the clinic will be more important than ever,” said Terri Adams, general manager of Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort.
“This is a great way for parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on all their immunizations,” Adams said. “The combination of free shots and free tickets has been a terrific incentive over the past five years.”
A parent or guardian must accompany children and an immunization record must be presented.Inside
Key Code 76
Grow green thumb at Gartenfest
From Staff Reports
When it comes to growing things, those afflicted with two black thumbs can find hope in Saturday’s second annual New Braunfels Gartenfest.
Gartenfest will take place 9 arn to 3 p.m. at Conservation Plaza, 1300 Church Hill Dr. Admission to the grounds will be free, and includes access to many garden and herb vendors.
Three lectures by renowned plant experts will be held over the course of the day. Admission to the lectures is $5 each; all three can be attended for $12. Food and drink will be available.
This year’s theme is “The Wonderful World of Herbs.”
World-renowned Houston floral designer Gay
Estes will give a presentation on arranging with herbs from I to 2 p.m.
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Varney of the Fredericksburg Herb Farm will talk about “Herb Gardening in the Millennium” from IO to ll a.m. Rob Morton of Sun Harvest Foods and AM Radio 550 RTS As Saturday morning talk show “Eye on Health” will discuss the “Top IO Herbal Supplements” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
There will be a number of vendors on the grounds with displays of plants, herbs, baskets, landscaping items and other goods of interest to gardeners, Purdum said.
Tickets are available at the Huisache Grill, Sophienburg Museum, Conservation Plaza or the Texas Museum of Handmade Furniture.