New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 23, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23,2005
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SPORTS TEXAS ROLLS
The University ofTexas basketball team has no problems with Texas State.
INSIDE TIME OFF
Most Comal County governmental offices closed today, Monday; trash pickup continues both days. Page 3
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852.
Vol. 154, No. 337 12 pages, 1 section
DEAR ABBY 9
CLASSIFIEDS 10 COMICS 8
TV GRIDS 9
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■Firefighter passes polygraph, gets job back
By Leigh Jones
Stacie Zercher received an early Christmas present Thursday, passing a polygraph test and getting her job back.
Zercher, whose 18-year career with the New Braunfels Fire Department was terminated Nov. 22 after she failed a drug
test following a minor accident in a city vehicle, was promised she could return to work if she could pass “lie detector” test questions concerning her drug use.
From the moment she learned her Nov. 15 drug test had indicated she used marijuana, Zercher claimed to be innocent. She told her city hall superiors two brands of lotion, Hempz
Cannibis Sativa and Hoss’ Hemp Cool Moon, had raised the level of cannabinoids in her blood enough to trigger the positive test result. She offered to take a second drug test as well as a polygraph.
Her requests were denied until a grievance panel of City Hall department heads decided she deserved a second chance.
Zercher’s attorney Matt Kyle said late Thursday afternoon that his client was ecstatic.
“She and her husband are definitely celebrating,” he said. “It’s a great day for her.”
Zercher’s husband, Don, is a NBFD battalion chief who has worked for the city for 32 years.
Kyle said he thought the city also should be celebrating the
return of its highest ranking female firefighter.
“After 18 years, the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in that amount of time training her and compensating her. You can’t go out and buy that kind of experience. A person like her is hired, trained, groomed
TRANSFORMATION NEARLY COMPLETE
The mind-boggling LCRA makeover
See POLYGRAPH, Page 3 Stacie Zercher
Congress sends billions to Gulf Coast, Iraq
By Mary Dalrymple
Associated Press Writer
NOW FOR NEW YEARS
Downstairs in the Prince Solms Inn 295 E. San Antonio 830-708-5411
Best of the best
The Herald-Zeitung unveils its picks for the All-Comal County volleyball teams.
WASHINGTON — Congress gave the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism powers one more month of life Thursday, with work finished by a lone senator sitting in the virtually empty Senate chamber.
Congress also finalized a defense spending bill that funnels extra money to the Gulf Coast and Iraq. The GOP-run Congress completed the two bills in a scramble to finish a year complicated by standoffs with Democrats and disagreements among Republicans.
The defense bill keeps the Pentagon running, while also channeling $29 billion in hurricane aid to the Gulf Coast and $50 billion more to military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Patriot Act extension keeps anti-terrorism laws that were due to expire Dec. 31 in place until Feb. 3. It allows the FBI to continue to investigate terrorism cases using powers granted in 2001, include roving wiretaps
See CONGRESS, Page 3
Man in jail after leading NB police on high-speed chase
By Jessica Sanders
A hit-and-run accident turned into a highspeed chase for New Braunfels police Wednesday.
Police were called to the intersection of Business 35 and Avenue A Wednesday evening for a hit and run accident involving a minivan.
According to police, Cpl. Joe Tovar tried to stop the minivan at the intersection of Business 35 and South Seguin Street because he thought the driver was drunk. The driver, who was identified as New Braunfels resident Timothy O. Caldwell, 30, would not stop for Tovar and headed down South Seguin Street at a high rate of speed, authorities said. Speeds exceeded 80 miles per hour during the chase.
Police continued to pursue the minivan on FM 725 into Guadalupe County. Caldwell turned the vehicle around near Lake Creek Drive and headed back toward New Braunfels. He then took Klein Road to FM 1044, to Green Valley Road, to Ron Road and to Morningside Drive. He was finally forced
See CHASE, Page 3
Photos by DAVID INUKAM Herald-Zeitung
Larry Peel, left, and construction superintendent Justin Lott walk the top floor of the Lower Colorado River Authority building. Peel and his employees have transformed the former power plant into luxury apartments. Top, Peel looks out a window toward a temporary elevator located on the exterior of the building. Below, a worker continues the conduction process.
Luxury apartments at former power plant almost ready
By Leigh Jones
Larry Peel looked like a little boy on Christmas morning as he walked through his future New Braunfels apartment.
His eyes were bright and shiny, and he could hardly contain his enthusiasm.
“I can’t believe how cool this is,” he said Wednesday with a face-splitting grin. “Isn’t it wonderful?”
Peel’s dream project — converting the old Lower Colorado River Authority power plant into a residential complex known as The Landmark — is four months behind schedule, but the Austin-area builder known for his environmentally friendly and inventive developments does not mind a bit.
Standing on the building’s eighth floor, gazing out the half-moon window that
frames a picturesque view of most of the city, Peel said every setback and difficulty had been worth it.
“I’ve never done anything like this. It’s been challenging, but it’s been worth every bit. It will always be cool because I’ve done something no one in their right mind would have done,” he said with a chuckle.
Almost from the beginning, the project suffered frustrating set-backs.
The building crews found surface water in the old coal bins, forcing them to cut short an elevator shaft designed to go all the way to the bottom floor. The indoor sprinkler system design
See LCRA, Page 6
FROM POWER TO LUXURY
■ May 15, 1860 - Joseph and Helena Landa purchaser flour mill on the Comal Canal. _______
■ 1925 - Harry Landa sells his property and businesses to the Comal Power Company. ________
■ Aug. 18,1925 - Power plant construction begins.
■ Nov. I, 1926 - Construction is complete, Comal Power Plant is the largest coal fired generating station west of the Mississippi River._____
■ 1928-1929 -The second turbine and third boiler ere installed.___________________________________________
■ 1941 - Fourth boiler is installed, markedly raising output and aids the war effort. Blackout orders issued by the War Department require every window be sealed._______
■ 1947 - Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) gains control of the power plant _
■ 1952 - Due to drought conditions, a redwood cooling tower is built over the riverbed._______
■ 1971 - LCRA buys the Comal Power Plant.
Ii 1973 - Comal Power Plant ceases operations.
■ 1999 - LCRA finishes a nine year, $11.5 million environmental remediation of the power plant. _
■ Aug. 20, 2004 - Comal Power Plant is listed in the National Register of Historic Places._________
■ 2005 - Developer Larry Peel renovates the Coma! Power Plant building and grounds into Landmark Lofts and Garden Apartments. Many original building details, such as the 100-ton crane, remain intact.
Timeline provided by the Larry Peel Co.