New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 8, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 149 No. 193 14 pages in 2 sections August 8, 2000
Serving Comal County since 1852
SO centsTexas state trooper dies in Austin hospital
By Ron Maloney
AUSTIN — A routine traffic stop for an unbuckled seatbelt that turned violent ultimately ended in death Monday night.
The New Braunfels and Comal County emergency radio net went silent a little before 11 p.m. Monday as police and public safety personnel observed a moment of silence in honor of Department of Public
Safety trooper Randall W. Vetter.
Vetter, a resident of New Braunfels, was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m. Monday at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, according to hospital spokeswoman Shannon Whitehead.
He was 28 years old,
and was the 75th DPS officer to die in the line of duty.
Survivors include his wife, Cynthia, their eight-month-old son Robert, and the trooper’s father, Kermit Vetter, an officer at the Comal County Jail.
Services are pending.
“This is a sad day for the Texas Department of Public Safety, the state of Texas and the United States of America,” said Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr., director of the DPS.
“We ask that the people of Texas continue to uplift Trooper Vetter’s immediate family, and his law enforcement family with your thoughts and prayers as we grieve this loss of our friend and family member.”
Locally, nobody reached at 11 p.m. commented. DPS officers, who are dispatched by the Comal County Sheriff’s Office after hours, were not available. Sheriff’s deputies and New Braunfels Police Department
patrol officers could not be reached by telephone.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger just after midnight today referred to the prepared statement issued in Austin shortly after Vetter’s death was announced.
Vetter, a six-year veteran DPS trooper who worked out of the New Braunfels office just one month shy of 14 years, was See TROOPERS
FM 725 will get no left turn signs
By Heather Todd
Beginning Thursday, motorists traveling on Seguin Avenue and Farm-to-Market 725 will not be allowed to make left turns onto Interstate 35 as part of a plan to alleviate major traffic congestion at the intersection.
Michelle Kopp, assistant area engineer for the TxDOT office in New Braunfels, said effective Thursday motorists traveling east or west on Seguin Avenue and FM 725 would be prohibited from turning left to go either north or south on 1-35.
Those wanting to go north on I-35 from eastbound FM 725 should use Business 35 to Texas 46. Those wanting to go south on 1-35 from westbound I'M 725 should use Business 35 to Walnut Avenue or Spur/Schmidt Street.
Left turns at the FM 725 intersection will be restricted until next spring, when Seguin Avenue and I 'M 725 are scheduled to open back up to four lanes.
On July 25, Seguin Avenue and FM 725 were closed down to one lane in each direction beneath the I-35 overpass so Deavors Construction could begin work on its phase of the 1-35 widening project.
Deavors is the contractor for the portion of work from one-half mile north of Walnut Avenue to one-half mile south of Texas 46.
Last week, traffic stacked up for blocks along FM 725 as motorists tried to get through the lighted intersections.
Some motorists have complained about long waits to get through the intersection because the lights only run for 15-seconed cycles before changing.
The traffic signal lights at FM 725, Walnut Avenue and on both sides of the intersection frontage
road down to Business 35 are camera-controlled traffic signals that monitor traffic in an intersection to set intervals.
Lt. John Wommack with the New Braunfels Police Department said if a car pulled into the intersection, the light would read a car trapped in the intersection as traffic and it would not turn.
Then, when the light is freed up, it shortens the interval to try to the clear the intersection — resulting in the 15-second green light that only allows very few cars through.
Kopp said TxDOT was recommending eliminating left turns as a way to prevent traffic from backing up for blocks in either direction of FM 725.
“Since we closed it down to one lane, if there’s one person trying to turn left. the traffic backs up behind them and there’s not enough time for people to get through the intersection,” she said.
Kopp said eliminating left turns would allow motorists who were recently challenged by the intersection to maximize the amount of time the light is green.
TxDOT officials said they were hoping to coordinate two phases of the 1-35 project so Walnut Avenue would be back open to four lanes when work began on Seguin Avenue and FM 725.
But Dean Word, the contractor working on the 1-35 project to just north of Walnut Avenue, is behind schedule.
Dean Word Company is currently working on a portion of the 1-35 construction project from Solms Road to a half-mile north of Walnut Avenue and is scheduled to complete the project by May 2002.
Kopp said she was told Walnut Avenue could open back up to four lanes by the end of this week or next week.
Bill Brown sets pattern
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Motorists will not be allowed to make left turns from Farm-to-Market 725 onto IH 35 until next spring when Seguin Avenue and FM 725 will be reopened to four lanes. Motorists should use Business 35 to go north and south to access the interstate.
By Heather Todd
Beginning Aug. 14. hundreds of students will converge on Bill Brown Elementary School to begin another school year. That means a lot of parents and school buses dropping off' and picking up students will try to maneuver their way down Texas 46 at the same time each morning and afternoon.
Later this fall, a 62,000-square foot H-E-B supennarket is scheduled to open across from the campus, which will add to the traffic congestion in the area.
Jackie Sundt, principal at BBLS, said, “We have to be honest and say that a grocery store is going to increase traffic out here.”
Preliminary estimates have projected that the number of cars on Texas 46 could double when the H-E-B store opens.
But, Sundt said with some cooperation and careful planning by motorists and parents traffic will not have to be a nightmare on Texas 46.
The Texas Department of Transportation and Comal County are working together to put in a traffic signal light at the intersection of BBES, Texas 46 and the new driveway at H.E.B.
The light w ill be installed at the school’s west driveway.
TxDOT officials said the light was tentatively scheduled to be installed sometime in September.
H-E-B agreed to fund the light and acceleration and deceleration lanes near the store development as recommended by TxDOT.
In preparation for the increased traffic, Comal Independent School District staff'recommended changing traffic patterns at the campus to improve traffic flow in the area before and after school.
Currently, there are four entrances and exits to the campus:
• The east exit near U.S. 281 is the bus exit
• The second driveway is the parent entrance
• The third driveway is the parent exit
• The fourth, west driveway (where the signal light will be installed) is the bus entrance
Beginning Aug. 14, parents and school buses will continue to use the existing driveways at the campus but all parent traffic will be rerouted to the west exit at the signal light.
The following changes will occur for the 2000-2001 school year:
• 'Hie third driveway (where parents previously exited) will be closed
• Parents will enter the second driveway as normal but will use the drainway between the third and fourth exits and will leave the campus from the fourth driveway at the signal light.
• Buses will enter and exit as they did before
Sundt said, “We felt it was safer this way than having some people exiting at the stoplight and others not exiting there.”
Sundt said the school would put up yield signs and stop signs to help drivers negotiate the traffic patterns.
During Meet-the-Teacher night, school officials also handed out fliers illustrating the traffic changes and w ill be sending home fliers with students to alert parents to the changes.
“Hopefully, we can get the word out to everyone,” Sundt said.
Sundt said two new schools in the area increased traffic on Texas 46, but cooperation and support from parents kept traffic congestion from getting out of hand.
“(Parents) have been supporting one another and observing right-of-way. People have been really nice about letting people in,” she said.
During the school year, cars frequently back up on Texas 46 in the morning and afternoon as parents See BROWN/5AInside
Key Code 76
CISD administrator dies in Houston hospital
“We’ve lost our elf. She was just neat; she was ... different.” Stott made an elf costume she would wear to the parties, Miller recalled, grinning at the memory.
“Elaine was this little bitty, petite person. That’s just the way she was — she liked to keep things going.”
Dickie Guthrie, who works in the district’s human resources office, remembers a hard worker — with a humorous twist. She smiled repeatedly while she was telling stories about Stott.
She laughed out loud when she remembered the district’s secretary’s luncheon when
Comal ISD Assistant to the Superintendent, Nancy Cobb, gave blood Monday in honor of Elaine Stott.
Stott was one of the actors — in costumes that concealed their identities — who played a character in the program.
From Staff Reports
Comal Independent School District employees gave blood Monday in memory of a district administrator who passed away Sunday.
Elaine Stott, 58, died in a Houston hospital as a result of complications stemming from an open heart surgery on July 18, a district official said.
A memorial service has been set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street in Texas City.
Comal ISD Public Information Off icer Kari Hutchison said the school district is working to put together a local service as well. Details will be announced when they are available.
But remembrances began Monday with the blood drawing in the parking lot of the ClSD’s central offices.
Stott, who had been employed at the district for the past four years, was CISD’s Elementary Curriculum Coordinator. But that is not all she was, according to people who worked with her and remembered her Monday.
“Elaine was very, very devoted to children,” said CISD employee Martha Miller, who worked with Stott for 3-1/2 years.
“She was a great person — really outgoing. She was the elf in our central office Christmas party for the last two years,” Miller said.