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  • Location: New Braunfels, Texas
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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 25, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas THE SUNDAY **» “war n2LLmK^ Ok Rs CL m TX 79m "‘"H'lol'lnll II,,,!,/) DECEMBER 25, 2uuo Herald-Zeitung SPORTS HONOR ROLL The Herald-Zeitung unveils its picks of the top volleyball players in Comal County. Page IB LIFE STAYING HOME Holiday fun for the entire family may be as close as the nearest video rental business. Page 1C Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. Vol. 154, No. 339 30 pages, 5 sections $1.00 WWW?5 00002 Sunny High Low 73 40 8 i Details 38 DEAR ABBY 3E CLASSIFIEDS ID COMICS 4C CROSSWORD 4C FORUM 4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS 1B TV GRIDS 2,3E .Evacuees grateful to be home for Christmas By Leigh Jones Staff Writer Many of the families that found themselves sheltering in New Braunfels after Hurricane Katrina made a wreck of their lives have gone back home to begin again. They returned to destruction, suffering and in some cases a sense of hopelessness. With so much to do just to feel normal again, decking the halls and spreading good cheer is hard to squeeze in. Christmas this year is bittersweet. They are happy to be alive, but celebrating the usual joy of the season is a difficult exercise. Two families shared the triumphs and disappointments of their first post-Katrina Christmas with the Herald-Zeitung earlier this week. The Braceys Mike Bracey led 25 members of his immediate and extended family out of New Orleans in a caravan. They ended up at New Braunfels’ Roadway Inn, where they waited for any news of home. Although the reports from all over the city were bad, Bracey and his wife Charlotte could get no tidings of their house. “We had no idea what we would find when we got back,” he said. “It was pretty scary.” Six weeks after they left their home, the couple returned to find only minimal damage. The insur-ance company valued it at $20,000, but Bracey downplayed the impact. “It really wasn’t bad at all. The biggest problem was finding contractors to do the work,” he said. After getting a new roof installed, the house was almost as good as new. The remaining damage will be replaced when workers are easier to come by. Bracey returned to work almost immediately. His job as a planner for Jefferson Parish was the only reason the couple returned to New Orleans. “I have 22 years in, and I can retire at 25,” he explained. “That’s too close to walk away from. I would lose all my benefits if I did.” See HOME, Page 8A Photo courtesy of Chris Richard Mud lines the home of Chris Richard, showing where floodwaters entered during flooding in New Orleans. LAST-MINUTE RUSH Shoppers use every minute while looking for perfect gift Wildfire covers NB in smoke From staff reports A series of grass fires blanketed parts of New Braunfels in a haze of white smoke Saturday afternoon. Extreme dry conditions and a still breeze carried the blaze from field to field as smoke and embers blew through the air. The fire erupted in die middle of the afternoon and pushed by the heavy winds, quickly began to spread. At one point, three See FIRE, Page 2A DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Firefighters battle a blaze that filled the sky over New Braunfels with smoke. By Jessica Sanders Staff Writer Santa wasn’t the only one in a hurry on Christmas Eve. All over New Braunfels, shoppers were rushing to find that perfect gift — or any gift at all. A shopper who wanted to be known only as “Pete" was found gathering gifts for his girlfriend in the women’s clothing section of Target. “I always wait until the last minute because I’m always busy with other things,” he said. “I’ve got two more stops and I’m done.” Nearby, another undercover shopper identified as “Fred” was putting the finishing touches on shopping for his family. “This is I percent-shopping for those extra things,” he explained. “We’ve been doing Christmas shopping all year, but I wanted to find one more thing for my wife.” Mark Garrison said his family also has most of the shopping done. However, he said his wife is the reason that the Garrison clan was hanging around the Target toy aisle Christmas Eve. “She ends up needing one more thing, and I end up watching the kids,” he said with a laugh. Lesa Ackeroyd opted to stay away from big stores Saturday and picked up extra gifts in the aisles of Walgreens. “I had to get some prints made here anyway,” she said. “I just have to pick up a few tilings for some Back to the stores The Christmas shopping rush continues as people return gifts and cash in those gift cards. Local nonprofits revel in season of good will By Jessica Sanders Staff Writer Photos by DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Tanya Garrison, left, does some last-minute shopping for her nieces and nephews at Target on Christmas Eve. Below, Ernesto's Jewelry sales manager Estella Paredez helps Rhea White pick out a cross necklace for her husband as the final hours for Christmas shopping ticked away. friends and a distant relative — oh, and my dogs!" Liz Sawdon also preferred Walgreens as a nontraditional shopping destination. “We’ve been helping my son, who’s moving to San Antonio, and we haven't had a chance to buy a lot of things,” she said. “I thought we could just pick up some things here.” While many last-minute gifts were stocking stuffers and other small presents, some shoppers ventured out on Christmas Eve with a mission. At Ernesto’s Jewelry Factory, Andrew McHenry was searching See GIFT, Page 8A f 2005: TNK YEAR THAT WAS ■ TODAY: The AP's top 10 stories of the year ■TUESDAY: Faces of suffering ■ WEDNESDAY: The year in Washington ■ THURSDAY: Energy prices loomed large ■ FRIDAY: Information Age in high gear ■ SATURDAY: Texas deals with drought ■JAN. I: The top 10 stories of the year in Comal County Hurricane Katrina dominated headlines in 2005 By David Crary AP National Writer NEW YORK — The onslaught of Gulf Coast hurricanes, notably Katrina and the deadly flooding which devastated New Orleans, was overwhelmingly picked by U.S. editors and news directors as the top story of 2005 in The Associated Press’ annual vote. The hurricanes received 242 first-place votes out of 288 ballots cast. No other story received more than 18 first-place votes. The death of Pope John Paul II, and the election of Joseph Ratzinger to succeed him as Pope Benedict XVI, was the No. 2 pick, followed by the situation in Iraq, where news of violence and politics vied for attention throughout the year. Iraq was voted the top story in 2002 and 2003, and was runner-up in 2004 to the U.S. election in which President Bush won a second term. Here are 2005’s top IO stories, as voted by AP members: ■ Hurricane Katrina: Days in advance, America knew it was coming. But even though Hurricane Katrina weakened slightly from its frightening Category 5 strength, its impact was stunning. It killed more than 1,300 people in five states, ravaged the Mississippi Gull Coast and set off flooding that submerged 80 percent of New Orleans, forcing the largest urban dislocation in U.S. history. Hurricanes Wilma and Rita also inflicted severe damage. See STORIES, Page 6A Nonprofit organizations all over Comal County are looking back on 2005 and counting dieir blessings — and their donations. Doug Hammerstrom, president of the United Way of Comal County, said his group is expecting to reach its annual goal of $590,000 after corporate donations are made final. He said the final count won t be available until after the new year, but businesses and individuals have done their parts. “Right now we have a total of $308,000,” he said. “Over $109,000 in charitable donations is from individuals.” December is the last month to count charitable giving toward next year’s tax filings. See GIVING, Page 9A The Sonier Group * III ERA - P. Lee Edwards Realty & Unmatched Attention For Your Red Estate Needs" vww.rwwbfaunfelspfopertjescoiri PROUDLY SERVING NEW BRAUNFELS & SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES Susan Sonier Q. Jerry Sonier 830.832.8815    210.885.6188 Email: [email protected] mmm ;