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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 3, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas LIFE TOYS FOR TOTS New Braunfels JROTC cadets gather toys to spread Christmas joy to needy children this holiday season. Page 1B COUPON SWEET DEAL Old Fashion Bakery & Specialty Shop is offering pastries with coffee or hot chocolate for $1.50 before Dec. 14. Page SA uidumeis and Comal County since 1852. Vol. 153, No. 16 14 pages, 2 sections CL pf W mostly cloudy High Low 69 44 Details .... 2B DEAR ABBY 4B CLASSIFIEDS 6-8B COMICS 3B CROSSWORD 3B FORUM 4A APPLAUSE 5-6B SPORTS 5-6A TV GRIDS 4B MHM WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2003 UNG City waits on LORA project plat It s a Wassail time of year, and downtown is juiced up Historic trees a hurdle, and city dissatisfied with TxDOT figures By Scott Mahon Staff Writer The New Braunfels Planning Commission Tuesday postponed approving a plat that might have paved the way for widening Landa Street. The plat was for a development project to convert the old IX TIA power plant site into luxury apartments. Approval of the plat has been impacted by TxDOT plans to widen Landa Street, a state highway. TxDOT' has prescribed a 120-foot berth for the street. Chairman John Dierkson suggested the commission postpone approving the plat to give time to come up with a solution that would save 100-year-old trees that line the street between Landa Park Drive and Fredericksburg Road. “I think it s the consensus of the commission that 120 feet is excessive," Dierkson said. “Seventy or 80 feet is probably adequate for a four-lane street." The plat provides for the subdivision and development of 32 acres on the IX TIA power plant property along landa Street, and TxDOT’s recommendation to wide the street to 120 feet would require Peel to dedicate 35 feet of his property. “Where is T'xDOT coming up with 120 feet?" asked Planning Commission member Duane Nee! “It s their ideal width for a four-lane highway," said Stephen Schultz, vice president of Schultz Group Inc., which is working on the development. Landa Street — also called Business 46 — averages 50 feet in width between landa Park Drive and Fred ericksburg Road. However, TxDOT also would have to acquire 35 feet from the east side, which also is lined with pecan trees, and small businesses. Local attorney Mike Butts, who lives on Landa Street, told the commission he also is concerned about the trees. “Our home was built by the Landa family, and on our side of the street there are probably a dozen large pecan trees,” Butts said. Developer Larry Peel said he wanted the decision to be made locally, not by TxDOT. The commission approved a motion to deny plat approval on a statutory basis for 30 days. "We have to be stewards of taxpayers’ money, and the trees were probably paid for by taxpayers,” Dierkson said. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer It’s time to go a wassailing. New Braunfels and its historic downtown hosts the annual Wassailfest beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday City officials will close Seguin Avenue and San Antonio Street around Main Plaza for more than 50 businesses and service organizations that will put on the 11th annual event named for the hot spiced — sometimes “spirited” — drink that has been part of Christmas in Europe for centuries. Recipes date back into the Vikings, Saxons and Anglo-Saxons of the Middle Ages and usually Wassailfest runs from 6 to 9 p m Thursday, Police will block off the Main Plaza area Parking will be available in lots around the area include apple cider and holiday seasonings such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Sometimes it includes other juices. Recipes run in families or communities and are often closely guarded secrets. In 2002, an estimated ll ,000 attended Wassailfest, sampling the drink and the city’s holiday charm, and listening to caroling and other entertainment provided by 20 singing, dancing or musical groups. Food will be available at several locations and there will be prize drawings. Wassailers also get to vote for what they believe is the city’s best See WASSAIL Page 3A SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Department of Transportation Tuesday showed the first draft of a plan that would morph U.S. 281 into a six-lane superhighway .. - —    *    with    two-lane SJEe SHW Officials will conduct a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative on FM 3159 frontage roads. The $300 million project would widen 21 miles of U.S. 281 from San Antonio to the Blanco County line. But Comal County’s 16-mile segment of the project will not happen for 25 years — unless some way other than gas taxes or federal transportation funding is found to pay for it. About 300 attended the meeting, conducted at Specht Elementary School off U.S. 281 in Bexar County. The road plan would require buying nearly 300 feet of right-of-way jflbng U.S. 281 north of the Guadalupe River. South of the river, the state would require about 200 feet of right-of-way in most areas through Bulverde. The resulting road would be similar in construction to Loop 1604 across the north side of San Antonio. TxDOT Project Manager Judy Friesen-hahn said the project in its first draft is designed to meet the region’s anticipated needs. “I don’t think I have to tell any of you all that traffic demand has significantly increased over the last several years," Friesenhahn said. “Demand is expected to continue to rise dramatically over the next 25 years." THURSDAYShine bright Statal Ranch it aglow this holiday season, offering a local escape to the Nord) Pole. New Braunfels resident John Cottrill winces as nurse Maria J. Smith administers a flu shot Tuesday. Comal County has seen an early onset of fiu cases, and officials are urging residents to receive flu vaccinations and take precautions to mitigate transmission of the virus. County officials urge vaccinations, preventive efforts By Dylan JimSnsi Staff Writer Comal County officials are reporting an early — and severe — onset of flu cases and are encouraging caution. The flu season usually picks up during the winter months, but reports of the flu started early this year. Clinics reported 26 flu cases in October 2003 compared with just one flu case in the same period last year, County Nurse Karon Preiss said. And a cursory look at the November numbers — still being calculated — shows reports are steady for last month. “It was earlier this year for us to have this many reports," Preiss said. From busy malls to crowded kitchens, it’s difficult to avoid exposure to ill people during the holidays. • But people can still avoid the flu by taking a few precautions. Influenza is a viral respiratory illness marked by the sudden onset of fever, headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. The illness is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, sending the highly contagious virus into the air. People can keep from spreading their illnesses by covering coughs and sneezes and by DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Roberta Seidel receives a flu shot Monday at the Comal County Health Department. keeping hands clean and away from the mouth, nose and eyes. The general healthy habits also apply — get plenty of rest. “The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine,” Preiss said. “We’re getting lots of calls because of the severity of the problem.” Flu vaccination takes about two weeks to become effective, and the shot does not cause flu infection. Sharon Wright, Comal Independent School District nurse supervisor, said the number of students and staff who have been vaccinated has helped keep the illness out of classrooms. Both local school districts are experiencing normal numbers of flu cases for this time of year. But compared to other states, Texas has experienced a more severe flu season this year. The Houston and Dallas areas were hit hard, said Doug McBride, Texas Department of I lealth spokesman. The flu is now “widespread” in Texas. Already Texas has had cases reported in JI of the 12 state health regions. People tend to look at the flu as something they don’t want to get, but don’t see the danger in it, McBride said. But the flu can be a dangerous problem for high-risk groups such as the elderly and those with weak immune systems. “We recommend the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age or older,” McBride said. “We have deaths from influenza every year.” Preventing the flu might contain the disease throughout the winter, when the flu is most prevalent. “Our state is number one,” Preiss said. "We don’t want to be number one in that.” FRONTand Center 25years Flu takes Texas by storm away on 281 plan I By Ron Maloney Staff Writer rn ;