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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 15, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas ftu for 780 #01 nil 10571 05/J 6/05 SOUTHWEST HICROFUDLISHERS <?627 F VANDELl EL PASO TX 79903 h Min11«* i1111iii(111111 f i i i 11 ^LSFRIDAYAugust 15, 2003 14 pages in 2 sectionsEITUNG Vol. 152, No. 235Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 centsCISD to pay Grunert $60,000 to resign GRUNERT By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer Comal Independent School District trustees agreed to pay Superintendent Jim Grunert $60,000 to resign. The agreement then-CISD board members and Grunert sighed in May was released Thursday. After a five-and-a-half hour closed session midyear review of the superinten dent May 9, CISD Attorney Paige Kyle told the Herald-Zeitung it did not look like Grunert’s contract would be terminated. “As a result of the board’s discussion tonight with Dr. Grunert regarding his evaluation, Dr. Grunert agrees to continue working on the items identified in the Jan. 23, 2003, evaluation instrument. Also Dr. Grunert hereby resigns effective Dec. 31, 2003, or sooner,” according to the agreement. Grunert will receive four annual payments of $15,000 starting in March 2004. He was given until July I, 2003, to announce his resignation. In exchange, board members could not discuss the resignation before July I. Grunert was hired in 2001 and had three years left on his contract. He was paid $117,000 per year. Grunert broached the early retirement proposal, board President Dora Gonzales said Thursday. “This is not a buyout. This is really about early retirement,” Gonzales said. ‘This is in no way a buyout.” ‘We had an evaluation. We laid out some things we wanted him to work on,” Gonzales said. Gonzales said she could not discussSee GRUNERT/4A Many new laws impact county clerk By Ron Maloney Staff Writer AUSTIN — Comal County Clerk Joy Streater said Thursday the 78th Texas Legislature considered 5,800 bills in its regular session and passed about 1,400 of them. “More than 200 of them directly affect the way my office runs,” Streater said. The county clerk, commissioners and a number of local officials are attending the post-legislative conference the Texas Association of Counties conducts every other year. The purpose of the meetings, classes and conferences is to update county officials on how to implement the new laws. In Streater’s office, some bigger changes will involve safeguarding privacy. The state has tightened rules about who can access some documents. For example, death certificates are sealed for 25 years to protect against identity theft. Birth certificates, formerly sealed for 50 years, will be closed to all but “qualified applicants” for 75 years after Sept. I. A qualified applicant is the person named in See LAWS/4A Air conditioners stolen from Schertz school By Ron Maloney Staff Writer SCHERTZ — School officials were shaking their heads Thursday, wondering what kind of lowlife would steal air conditioning units from kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Teachers who reported to work Wednesday at the new Norma Paschal Elementary School discovered four air conditioning units were stolen. Each measures roughly 2.5-by-3 feet and weighs more than IOO pounds. Tbtal value is estimated at $7,000. Officials believe all four could have been loaded into a pickup, but it would have taken more than one crook to pull off the heist. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big theft, except from the standpoint of the See STOLEN/4A Blackout plagues north MAYITA MENDEZNewsday New Yorkers cross the Brooklyn Bridge by foot Thursday after a massive power outage stopped commuter trains and subways. Officials: Texan power grid safe Utility officials say the Texas power grid is in good shape, and they discounted me risk of a blackout here tike the one that hit the Northeast Thursday. About 85 percent of Texas is served by a self-contained grid that relies on power generated within the state. The Texas god is not connected to the power system in the East, where a blackout spread from New York to Cleveland, shutting down subways, elevators and airports. “The grid was absolutely not affected here. Everything is operating normally,” said Theresa Gage, a spokeswoman for the Public Utility Commission "You can see how beneficial it is for Texas to be an island at times tike this.” The state s main grid contains about 77,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 37,000 miles of transmission linos. During a heat wave last week that sent afternoon temperatures well above 100 degrees in the Dallas-Fort Worm area, electricity usage reached record highs two days in a row last week as residents cranked up their air conditioners. Peak usage hit 61,157 Aug. 7, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a power-industiy group that runs the grid. The grid was operating at lower capacity on Thursday, officials said. “The grid is stable,” said Heather Tindall, a spokeswoman for the power-grid operators. "We had record high temperatures last week and it didn’t make a dent ” — fly The Associated Press Massive power failure’s cause considered natural By Calvin Woodward Associated Press Writer A sudden blackout robbed electricity from millions across a vast swath of the northern United States and southern Canada Thursday, exposing them to stifling heat and jammed rush hour streets. New Yorkers escaped silenced subways, and nuclear power plants in four states shut down. Officials were looking at a power transmission problem from Canada as the most likely cause of the biggest outage in U.S. history, said a spokeswoman for New York Gov. George Pataki. Canadian authorities said at first it appeared lightning had struck a power plant on the U.S. side of the border in the Niagara Falls region, setting off outages that spread over 9,300 square miles. U.S. officials disputed that conclusion. There was no sign of terrorism as the cause, officials in New York and Washington said. The blackouts started shortly after 4 p.m., engulfing most of New York state and parts of New England, and spreading west to Ohio and Michigan. In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, workers fled their buildings when the power went off. There also were widespread outages in Ottawa, the capital. Power began to come back as afternoon turned to evening, but officials said full restoration would take much longer. Outages ranged over an area with roughly 50 minion people. Traffic fights were out throughout downtown Cleveland and other major cities, creating havoc at the beginning of rush hour. Cleveland officials said that without the power needed to pump water to 1.5 million people, water reserves were running low. New York state lost 80 percent of its power, said Matthew Melewski, speaking for the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state power grid. Both New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency. In New York City, subways, elevators and airports, including John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, lost electricity or resorted to limited backup power. Thousands of people streamed into the streets of lower Manhattan in 90-degree heat, and some subway commuters were stuck underground for hours. As darkness fell, New Yorkers turned to candles and flashlights as See BLACKOUTS Bus takes twins to life’s next milestone I inside By Ron Maloney Staff Writer For many parents, milestones in a child’s fife are bittersweet. Take the first day of kindergarten: a child can never go back and be a toddler again, and mom and dad have to accept it. It’s going to be twice as tough Monday for Jeremy and Allison Fannin when their twin 5-year-old girls, Ashley and Brittany, begin school at Goodwin Primary. Thursday evening, dad brought the girls to meet their teacher. Then they took on the next milestone: their first school bus ride. Comal Independent School District Transportation Director Joe Jones drove the bus, while Goodwin Principal Armando Maese rode along. “We’re just trying to get kids used to it and answer any questions they or their parents have about it,” Jones said. Ashley and Brittany rode like veterans and had no questions. “It’s exciting because I’ve never rided in a school bus before, Daddy,” Brittany said. If it was fun for dad, he was a little quiet. He said he’d been thinking about his little girls. He realized they weren’t as little as they once were and said he knows that some day soon, they won’t be little at all. “What’s exciting is it just seems See MILESTONE/4A Bus facts More than 160 buses transport 6,000 CISD children on about 126 routes daily Route hotline CISD otters a hotline to answer questions about bus numbers, bus stops and routes. Hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. through Sept. 5. Parents can call 221-2182. Classifieds....... 4-8B Comics........ 2B Crossword...... 2B Dear Abby...... .......3A Forum......... .......6A Obituaries...... ......3A Sports......... ......1,4B Today.......... .......2A TV............ .......2B www.herald-zeitung.coin K. JESSIE SLATEN/HerakJ-Zertung Jeremy Fannin (right) doesn’t want to watch as his 5-year-okl twins, Ashley and Brittany (left), take another step toward growing up. The twins and other kindergarteners at Goodwin Primary were treated to their first bus ride Thursday. ;