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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 21, 2004, New Braunfels, Texas "WED ADC Tin SI.*?"*/! 0M6/0S SOUTHUFST HITK ?27 l \mai.l>f. n 11111 (i j, j I, IBLISHi'RS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21,2004 iald-Zeitung SPORTS OH SO CLOSE! Smithson Valley should have several veterans to stage another shot at a state title in 2005. Page 5A COUPON STILL SHOPPING? JC Penney offers some special bargains for those last-minute shoppers. See Insert inside Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. Vol. 154, No. 31 12 pages, 2 sections 500 Mostly sunny High Low I 76 44 00001    1    s    Details    ....    1B WWW? DEAR ABBY 3B CLASSIFIEDS 48 COMICS 2B CROSSWORD 2B FORUM 4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS SA TV GRIDS 3B Suspect charged in Seguin murder case By Bryan Kirk Gazette-Enterprise SEGUIN — Investigators with the Seguin Police Department have issued a capital murder warrant for a 46-year-old man    Miguel Angel Nunez, is serving a    yard by family members who    tightlipped on the cause of death wanted in connection with the    sentence for burglary at the Fabi-    became concerned when they    early in the investigation, said August 2003 death of 79-year-    an Dominguez Unit in San Anto-    saw her lights on in the early    Monday Solis died as a result of old EvaristaSolis.    nio.    morning hours Aug. 1,2003. The suspect, identified as Solis was found in her back Authorities who had remained See ARRESTED, Page 3A TWINKLES in their eyes Record traffic could snarl holiday plans By Ron Maloney StafTWriter As gasoline prices continue to drop from record highs reached over the summer, travel industry officials expect a record number of Texans to fly, drive or cruise to holiday destinations for Christmas. AAA-Texas spokeswoman Rose Rougeau said 5.1 million Texans will go away for vacation this week — an increase of nearly 2 percent over one year ago. Taken together, the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are the biggest travel time of the year — surpassing even Thanksgiving week. And this year, while gasoline prices are 30 to 35 cents DID YOU KNOW? * 5.1 million Texans will take vacation trips on highways this week. I* 465,00 Texas residents are expected to fly to their destinations. * About 260,000 will take a bus, train or cruise to their destination. higher than one year ago, Rougeau said they’re going in the right direction, which is expected to fuel travel plans. “We’ve seen a 10-cent to 15-cent decrease over the last See TRAVEL, Page 2A New center to address mental health needs See BLUE SANTA, Page 2A Holiday blues can discolor Christmas season By Leigh Jones Staff Writer Steve Leavitt’s business is booming this time of year, which is not necessarily a good thing. Leavitt, a counselor with Expectations Counseling Center, deals with Christmas reality, a contrast to the sticky sweetness peddled in advertisements and holiday greeting cards. “Emotional crisis is definitely a reality during the holidays,’’ he said. “I'll bet the holiday is more of a burden than a blessing to around 70 percent of emotionally healthy people, let alone people who already have difficulties.” The most common problems Leavitt hears from his counseling couch deal with family tension, food related guilt and financial concerns. Almost all of the problems can be lumped together under the heading of stress associated with responsibilities. “We feel a responsibility to be connected to our family members, even if we don't like them,” Leavitt said. Every family has tension, secrets and its share of closet skeletons. Problems arise during the holidays because people feel the need to resolve those issues so they experience Christmas peace. Leavitt's advice? Do not try it, no matter how tempting it is. “just set your mind on avoiding those issues. Try to enjoy the good parts of the holiday and find another time to resolve those conflicts,” he said. Of course, the good parts of Christmas always include food, another emotional minefield. “A lot of people obsess about food intake, and the holidays aren’t conducive for dealing with those things,” Leavitt said. “I think more people are affected by this titan we realize.” People who are concerned about their weight structure their lives to carefully control food temptations, but a Christmas buffet line can ruin the best intentions. Low calorie, healthy food can be hard to find among the pecan pie, cheese balls and eggnog. “People go through the holidays feeling like failures because they are not meeting their goals," Leavitt said. “Theres a reason all of the weight loss product commem See SADNESS, Page 3A By Leigh Jones Staff Writer Don Guenther knows how hard it can be to suffer with a mental illness. For years, he struggled to hide his bipolar disorder, afraid of what people would say if they knew. Today, the former police officer is putting his experience to use, working as executive director of the River City Mental Health Consumers of New Braunfels. His goal is to help people help each other — a dream closer to reality with the opening of the RCM1 IC community center in January. Thanks to a $24,000 grant from the Texas Mental I lealth Consumers, the center will be able to stay open daily, eventually offering access to a computer lab, arts and crafts and life skills training. “For mental health consumers, it will be a great way to have social interaction,” said RCMHC board Vice Chairman Dona Evans. “People with a mental illness have more of a tendency to withdraw. The more they interact with the community, the more likely they are to stay healthy.” Although class offerings and computer lab access will start slowly, the center support groups, currently being held at the New Braunfels Public Library, will be available immediately. Stephen Whittaker, director of the Hill Country Mental I lealth Center, said Comal JIT A HUMM * What: River City Mental Health Consumers Community Center Open House ■ Whan: 6:30 p.m. today ■ Whara: 1117 N. Walnut Ave., behind Doc's Guns WAITT TO MRP? H The River City Mental Health Consumers is a nonprofit organization supported by the Texas Mental Health Consumers and the United Way of Comal County. They are looking for donations to help furnish the new community center. Used computers, office furniture, tables and chairs are welcome and tax deductible. County desperately needed another way to meet mental healthcare needs. “With our growth, there's no avoiding an increase in mental health problems,” he said. “We only provide service to severe clients, but there’s nothing in the community for people who have less serious issues.” Whittaker’s center has 500 regular clients, and he estimates 2,700 more people walked through the doors asking for assistance this year. Guenther said he was excited about die progress the center will make during the first part of 2005. Life skills classes, offered free of charge by TMHC, will include topics like “Dealing with Difficult People,” “Healthy Body Healthy Minds” and “Success with Stress." Miguel Nunez Nadia, left, and Nidia Garcia DAVID INGRAM Herald- Zeitung Blue Santa volunteers bring joy to 400 kids By Scott Mahon and Bon Maloney Staff Writers DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Top left, four-year-old twins Nadia and Nidia Garcia rush out the front door as soon as they saw several New Braunfels Police Department vehicles pull up outside their Westside homes Saturday morning.The girls had been up since 6 a.m. anxiously awaiting the arrival of Blue Santa and Christmas presents. Above, police Sgt. David Wilson helps Don Cork pass out Christmas presents to Nidia, Alex ana Nadia as their mother, Blanca, looks on. When Santa Claus arrived at Bavarian Apartments Saturday morning, he drew quite a crowd at the playground. “Santa’s coming! Santa’s coming! The kids shouted as they surrounded him and he handed out candy. But this Santa looked a little unusual. Instead of the red-and-white costume the jolly big guy is known for, this one wore blue — and was surrounded by New Braunfels cops. Police detective Jesse Villarreal was one of them. He and his wife, Gloria, worked with dozens of other volunteers to deliver toys to impoverished local children. “It was so gratifying,” Villarreal said. “As soon as the kids saw him, you could see the twinkles in their eyes. The kids really loved him.” Anyone familiar with Bavarian Apartments knows there’s a lot of need there. Unfortunately, “Blue Santa” couldn’t visit all of the homes. “He was talking to the kids and handing out candy, mostly to the kids who weren’t getting gifts,” Villarreal said. “We wish we’d had something for all of them.” The Villarreals would visit 12 homes in two trips. The first was to mobile homes out in the FM 482 area. It would be the second trip that took them to three or four homes in Bavarian Apartments and then to neighborhoods not far from New Braunfels High School. In all, New Braunfels Police Department officers, citizens police academy alumni and their families delivered Christmas presents to more than 400 children in IOO needy families Saturday. Called the “Blue Santa” drive, the annual event is co-sponsored by the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. The program was begun by now-retired Chief of Police Ray Douglas and his wife, Chris. Cissy Jankowski, chair of this year’s “Blue Santa” effort, said community donations helped purchase almost 80 percent of the more than 1,600 Christmas gifts this year. “T he community really helped us out,” Jankowski said. “Some families would not be able to have a Christmas for their children without help. The ‘Blue Santa’ program is the only way some children would see their wishes met this holiday season.” Jankowski said each family received a box containing four gifts for each child in DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Police officer Usbaldo Patino shares a laugh with three-year-old Kevin Segura and his mother, Ruby. HOLIDAY LEFTOVERS Now that many of those holiday meals have been served, focal cooks are faced with the dilemma of what to do with all of those holiday leftovers. ;