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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 1, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas NEW<fi»AtJNFELHerald-Zeitung Vol. 149 No. 9    18    pgs.    in    2    sections    December    I,    1999    \~w    J Serving Comal County since    1852 SO    cents Wednesday Blaring horns in tile middle of the night, overgrown vegetation along railroad tracks, railroad crossings blocked by idling trains all are recent complaints made by local residents. But at least one resident has taken his complaint to the railroad directly. Harry Montague, who lives near the Hunter Road railroad crossing, said he called Union Pacific numerous times about blocked crossings. "There should be no reason for the railroad to jeopardize the lives of our residents by blocking crossings that would prevent emergency personnel access to the residences affected by blocked crossings," he wrote in a letter to the Herald-Zeitung. "Many of us have been forced to either stay home or travel an extra five miles to find a crossing that is open in order to leave or get home. "Several times school buses have had to turn around on the two lanes of Hunter Road with no shoulder in order to get children to school.” One time, Farm-to-Market Road 306 was blocked for 15 minutes, he said. "Most people are in their cars and don’t know what to do,” he said. “Its a safety hazard.” In the past month, neighbors have joined Montague in calling Union Pacific to complain about the blocked crossing. "We’re calling and we haven't seen as many problems,” he said. Not as many trains have been sitting and blocking crossings, he said. He encouraged others to call Union Pacific’s hotline whenever they see a crossing blocked. The number is (888)877-7267. Montague said residents should call with the crossing number, w hich one can obtain by calling the Comal County Sheriff’s Office. Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis also encouraged residents to call. A train should not be idling and blocking a crossing, he said. "But sometimes a train does, for mechanical reasons, block a crossing,” he said. Blocked crossings are just some of the concerns people have with the railroad in New Braunfels, which is home to two lines — about 17 miles of the old Missouri Pacific Route and about 17 miles of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, which was reactivated in October 1998. See COMPLAINTS^ Who To Call ■ Concerns about blocked railroad crossing, call (888) 877- ~ 7267. ■ Other railroad concerns: (402) 271-5459. Whether served hot or cold, leaded or unleaded — ‘tis the season to drink Wassail! At the seventh annual Wassailfest Friday evening, residents can toast the holidays with a drink whose very name means "to your health.” More than 50 merchants will prepare their own special versions of the spiced mixture that has been served for centuries. “Wassailfest is a great way to experience the holidays in New Braunfels,” said Kyra Brandt, media chairwoman for Wassailfest. Organizers are expecting a big crowd this year, with more than 8,000 residents and tourists expected to be in attendance, Brandt said. “The event has been a hit ever since the very first Wassailfest and has grown ever since,” she said. Not only w ill attendants get to sample a wide variety of Wassail, but they also will be able to register for a number of door prizes, enjoy live musical performances, take horse-and-buggy rides and eat special holiday treats. Residents can vote for their favorite Wassail in the People’s Choice Awards, which will be given to the top three "wassail-meisters.” The Brauntex Theatre will even awake h orn a year and a half of slumber to be the newest addition to the Wassailfest tour. The Brauntex sign and the front of the building will be lit in all of its glory to mark the occasion. Other attractions at Wassailfest will include hot air balloon basket medleys, gymnastic performances, Scottish bagpipes, puppet shows, music for the little ones and an automobile collectibles show. Drink Up WHAT: Wassailfest WHERE: Downtown New Braunfels WHEN: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday Wassailfest pours it onYule love it Comal County Senior Center Newcomers Club member Vincent Sampiere volunteers Tuesday to decorate the center for the holidays. Decorations were donated by the community and the center’s members. WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung NBU board approves consultant By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff writer New Braunfels Utilities board of trustees approved Tuesday spending up to $30,000 for consultants to monitor activities related to the recently-approved utility deregulation bill. But one trustee, boart! vice-president E.C. Momhinweg, objected to tile expenditure. “I still think it’s early for us to spend so much money on something we don't know what’s going to happen,” he said. "And the consultants don’t know either.” Under Senate Bill 7, investor-owned utilities are forced into competition by Jan. I, 2002, but municipal-owned utilities like NBU, however, have the choice whether to open the market up for competition. NBU has not decided what it w ill do. “I think the more information we have the better, to be prepared,” mayor and trustee Stoney Williams said. Officials w ith the consulting company, R.W. Beck, attend meetings of the Public Utility Commission, which discusses the complex deregulation bill each month. NBU general manager Paul DiFonzo said die commission was discussing rules regarding deregulation.See NBU/5A Residents take complaints directly to Union Pacific By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff Writer Some like it hot, some like it cold, but all like it with a lot of holiday cheer By Erin Magruder Staff Writer WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung Carol Johnson, owner of Johnson Furniture Co., 283 S. Seguin Ave., gets ready for this year's Wassailfest on Tuesday by setting up wassail mugs and the first place plaque she won this past year with her Swedish wassail, or glogg. Wassailfest takes place on Friday, and Johnson expects to serve at least 1,000 cups of her glogg this year. Inside File photo A bell ringer entertains crowds at the 1998 Wassailfest in New Braunfels. Want to try some wassail of your own? Check out these recipes in Food./1 B Entertainers will fill the streets of New Braunfels with plenty of music and fun./5A World AIDS Day passing quietly in New Braunfels AIDS Statistics Steering eommittee aims to boost public awareness in Comal By Heather Todd Staff Writer Today is World AIDS Day but don’t expect to see a candlelight vigil or demonstration in Comal County. However, community and political leaders say an effort is under way to address the growing number of persons infected with the human immunodeficien-cy virus, which I#    causes AIDS. People across jflEpk    the world will ribbons and attend candle-light vigils in recognition of World AIDS Day today. Dec. I was declared World AIDS Day 12 years ago as a global recognition of the thousands of people who die from AIDS each year. In San Antonio, a public cere mony recognizing World AIDS Day will take place at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, where AIDS activists and residents infected with the virus will outline their bodies in chalk and speak the names of those who have died. In New Braunfels, no demonstrations or candlelight vigils are planned. Robert Konkel, a local AIDS activist who is infected with the virus, said a local candlelight vigil for the local community was spon-See AIDS/5A ■ About 13.9 million people worldwide have died of AIDS, including 4.7 million women and 3.2 million children younger than 15. ■ More than 33 million people live with AIDS/HIV worldwide: 32,2 million adults, 13.8 million women and 1.2 million children younger than 15. ■ About *2 million people have been infected with HIV worldwide since the epidemic began. Each day, 16,000 more become infected. ■ In Texas, 51,079 AIDS cases have been reported since the department began keeping records in 1983. ■ Texas has the fourth-highest number of AIDS cases among all states. ■ As of October 1999, 28,441 Texans have died of AIDS. II Of the AIDS cases in Texas, 45,337 are men and 11,742 are women. Sources: World Health Organization, Texas Department of Health Inside Abby.......................... .....5A Classifieds.................... ...5-8B Comics......................... ......2B Crossword.................... ......5A Forum........................... ......6A Local/Metro.................. ......4A Movies.......................... ......5A Obituaries..................... ......3A Sports........................... 8-10A Today........................... ......2A Television...................... ......2B Key Code 76 ;