New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 2, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 149 No. 188 16 pages in 2 sections August 2, 2000
Doctors reconsider Blue Cross contracts
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
McKenna Memorial Hospital in New Braunfels is not the only health care agency having trouble with Blue Cross and Blue Shield over its reimbursement rates.
The reimbursement rates Blue Cross/Blue Shield paid to physicians for outpatient care dropped substantially effective June I.
As a result, area doctors are facing the same kinds of choices that led to what happened at McKenna this past week.
McKenna Memorial Hospital voted to end its contract as an “in network” provider of health care services for Blue Cross/Blue Shield because the insurer did not pay enough to cover the costs of providing care.
A physician and a health care administrator both confirmed the reductions in reimbursements and both said their agencies were forced to reconsider contracts with Blue Cross in light of the new, lower rates.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield spokesman Mark Lane said he could not comment on the reimbursement situation and any possible negotiations with Hill Country Medical Associates or any other service providers in New Braunfels. The operating officer in charge of this area was unavailable, he said.
Sid Harrell, administrator for Hill County Medical Associates on Landa Street, said they treated about 4,500 Blue Cross/Blue Shield clients under contracts that in some cases go back 15 or 20 years.
Harrell acknowledged that the rates had been reduced effective June I. Hill Country Medical Associates found out, he said, a couple of weeks afterwards, but his contracts did not require the insurer notify the practice in advance.
“They went down to what See DOCTORS/3A
Serving Comal County since 1852
Developer has to wait for
court hearingJudge recuses himself in Brookshire case
By Jo Lee Ferguson
Brookshire Homes’ efforts to win a restraining order against the city of New Braunfels hit a snag Tuesday.
The company’s request will not be heard until Thursday morning when 22nd District Court Judge Charles Ramsay is in town. The request originally was to be heard by 274th District Court Judge Gary Steel on Tuesday.
However, Martin Allen, court administrator for the 22nd, 207th and 274th district courts, said Steel recused himself from hearing the case.
Steel lives in the Southbank subdivision, which is one of the areas New Braunfels targeted for annexation this year, and has been involved in the annexation process, Allen said.
“He believed it would not be proper for him to rule on anything w ith the city,” Allen said.
Attempts to arrange a hearing before Ramsay Tuesday afternoon while he was in Lockhart also were unsuccessful because there was not enough time on the docket.
“We’re disappointed,” Brookshire Homes President Greg Barrineau said.
Earlier this year the city issued stop work orders for
houses Brookshire Homes is building in the Meadow7 Creek subdivision off Pahmeyer Road in southwest New Braunfels.
The city also refused to issue any other building permits to Brookshire Homes on the basis that the homes violated city ordinance because they were not the same “average value, construction, type and size as the established property” in the area.
Brookshire Homes responded by suing the city in district court and filing an appeal of the city’s action with the city’s zoning board of adjustment.
The board ruled against Brookshire Homes this past week, prompting the city again to issue stop-work orders for homes under construction at Meadow Creek. Brookshire is seeking a temporary restraining order to allow the work to continue while the company's case against the city proceeds in court.
Brookshire Homes spokesman T.J. Connolly said the longer the battle continued, the more the financial damage will be incurred by Brookshire Homes and those who bought houses in Meadow Creek.
Barrineau said he was disappointed about the delay in the request for a restraining order because it also delays work in Meadow Creek and prevents those who have bought homes in Meadow Creek from moving in.Inside
■ What would you serve if 300 people showed up at your door for dinner? Food/1 B
■ Four local baseball players are World Series bound. Sports/7 A
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald Zeitung
Out on Texas Avenue, the theme for National Night out centered on fishing. Frank Capps (seen here finally getting a plate) said he and Buddy Faulkner fixed about 30 pounds of fish to go with the 30 or more dishes brought in by neighbors. From shirts to fishing hats with lures and home baked fishshaped cookies, this party was swimming in neighborhood fun.NB’s Night OutNeighbors meet outside Tuesday
By Heather Todd and Jo Lee Ferguson Staff Writers
For the Landa Neighborhood Crime Watch, getting rid of crime is a piece of cake.
Actually, it’s a cake walk and has been for more than 10 years— ever since the group participated in New Braunfels’ first National Night Out and won the first best block party competition more than 10 years ago.
Ann Bartholomew, who founded the Landa Neighborhood Crime Watch, was on the safe city commission when National Night Out first began and the commission encouraged neighborhoods to get involved.
“We’ve been having the cake walk all those years,” Bartholomew said Tuesday as her neighborhood once again joined together to celebrate
National Night Out Against Crime. Music played behind Bartholomew as she spoke and her neighbors once again participated in a cake walk on the street. Children rode bicycles up
and down the street, and parents pushed baby strollers to the area where their neighbors gathered for refreshments. Everyone wore a name tag.
See NIGHT OUT/3A
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Mayor Stoney Williams helps out Carol Johnson and Patrick Pope with some burger flipping at the Laurel Lane BBQ.
Open Meetings Act interpretation puts mayor, bed tax panel at odds
By Jo Lee Ferguson
One of the city’s advisory boards opted out of requirements in the Texas Open Meetings Act recently, pointing to an interpretation of the law some said would inhibit their communications.
But that interpretation is different, depending on who a person talks to.
Regardless, Mayor Stoney Williams
wants the hotel occupancy tax committee to put a requirement to adhere to the Texas Open Meetings Act back into its by-law s.
“Every other committee conforms to the Open Meetings Act,” he said. “The city council conforms to it. I don't understand why they can’t do their job and still conform to the Open Meetings Act.”
He said he hoped the group changed its decision without city council intervention. Councilwoman Juliet Watson said she
did not have a problem with the committee’s actions so long as the group was not trying to circumvent the “actual intent of the law.”
“I typically like for committees to take the initiative to do what they need to do,” she said. “I don’t want them to circumvent the Open Meetings Act, but I’m sure they have some reason for making exceptions to the rule.”
The city’s hotel occupancy tax commit
tee adopted its by-laws this past week based on a set of suggested rules developed by a former mayor. The council appointed the 15-member committee this year to develop a recommendation for using a portion of the city's hotel/motel tax revenue.
Under the law, the committee does not have to follow the rules in the Texas Open Meetings Act because the group is an advisory committee, City Attorney Floyd Akers said.
Key Code 76
CES breaks ground for expansion
By Heather Todd Staff Writer
The hard hats were a little too big and the shovels were a little too heavy, but a handful of Comal Elementary students did their best Tuesday to help kick-off the start of a $5 million expansion project at the campus.
Comal Independent School District trustees and students broke ground at the campus Tuesday to commemorate a two-year expansion project that will, when complete, add grades fifth and sixth to the pre-ki ndergarten through fourth-grade campus.
CTSD Superintendent Jerry Major said the expansion project at CBS,
6720 Farm-to-Market 482, was an example of the district’s efforts to get back to “neighborhood schools” where students were kept at one campus through the sixth-grade.
When completed in the fall of 2002, the expansion project will boost student capacity at CES to 800 students. The campus now houses 465 students through fourth grade.
The district also is building three new elementary schools for grades pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade for 8(H) students each as part of a $141 million bond issue approved by voters in May I OOO.
When the bond projects are completed, only students at Frazier Ele
mentary will continue going to Canyon Intermediate for the fifth and sixth grades.
Kencon Construction Co. is the contractor for the CES project and O’Neill Conrad Oppelt Architects Inc. is the architectural firm.
The expansion project will add 34,000 additional square feet of space with the construction of 14 new classrooms, a bigger gym, cafeteria, library and student services area as well as replacement of the art and choir rooms.
Tuesday’s ceremony was the third groundbreaking attended by administrators, teachers and parents as the distnct moves forward on projects in the 1090 bond issue.
However, the by-laws, as originally presented to the committee, included a provision for the group to abide by the act. The committee took out that requirement and replaced it w ith a provision stating that all of its meetings would be open to the public and the public was encouraged to attend.
Committee member Paul Fraser Jr., a former mayor, recommended taking the
See SALES TAX/4A
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
After the officials turned a little dirt, students from Comal Elementary took a turn at the job. The ceremony marked a two-year expansion project for the school, which hopes to bring fifth and sixth grades back to Comal Elementary in the fall of 2002.