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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 28, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas " "................■    w    ■    ■    ■    ■■    ■    'trrrw _   __ mm „.., -  J Vol. 149, Nov. 28    14    pages    in    2    sections    December    28,    1999 Tuesday Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents Fire chief: New station, trucks needed By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff Writer Without a new fire station, parts of New Braunfels will have to settle for response times of up to nine minutes — four minutes more than the city’s targeted response time. “Timeliness is the name of the game,” New Braunfels Fire and Rescue Chief Jack Collier said. “For every minute that passes, the fire can quadruple.” And one minute can mean the difference between life and death for someone not breath- COLLIER Bond Series Today Public safety bond projects and staff requests Wednesday Communication system Thursday Sports complex Friday Park improvement bond projects and staff requests ing, he said. A new $900,000 fire station is just one of several requests on the proposed bond scheduled to go before voters in May. The fire station is one of eight items included on a public safety proposition worth about $2.4 million. By itself, the proposition could increase the city’s 31-cent tax rate by 6.39 cents. This increase would repay the bond debt as well as for staff and maintenance of the new fire station. Council will finalize the $38.6 million bond list by mid-February. Mayor Stoney Williams suggested council trim the list, which could, if approved, more than double the tax rate in the next four years. The public safety proposition, however, is not one of the six propositions that should be pared down, he said. Collier agreed, saying, “These are not wish lists at all. These are absolute needs.” Although the city hasn’t decided where it would build a new fire station. Collier said likely areas were Oak Run, Hunter’s Creek and Mission Valley Estates areas. Those areas are not in the city limits now, but New Braunfels Fire and Rescue still is responsible for serving them through an agreement with the county. And according to the city’s annexation plan, those areas will be part of the city in the next five year:. “That’s one of the fastest growing areas in the city,” Williams said. Those areas also now settle for response times of seven, eight or nine minutes. “We can’t reach them in the five-minute response time,” Collier said. The city owns a vacant fire station on Kerlick Lane and Wallahalla Street, near Loop 337 and Texas 46. “It’s up to council ” Collier said, “if they w ant to staff that See FIRE/5A Public Safety Proposition Among items included on the proposed city bond issue are: • Build fire station ($900,000) • Remodeling of fire stations ($370,000) • Replace fire engine ($280,000) • Buy a Quint truck — fire engine with aerial ladder ($350,000) • Buy brush truck ($65,000) • Buy a heavy rescue truck ($105,000) • Infrastructure for water mains at the New Braunfels Airport ($120,000) • City percent of TxDOT grant for airport improvements ($200,000) Scam artists preying on public’s fears about Y2K By Christina Minor Staff Writer Watch out, New Braunfels, you might just get scammed. The new year is fast approaching and scam artists are taking every opportunity to play on the public’s fears of preparing for a disaster. Heather Hippsley, a Y2K expert with the Federal Trade Commission, said internet and telemarketing scams were prevalent. “Two companies were telling people to prepare for Y2K by selling them credit card insurance,” she said. “People were asked to give out personal information, but remember your credit card company already has that information.” In November, internet users were asked by a gold-mining company, Precious Metals, to invest in its gold mine. After signing up, investors would receive a certificate. “But what people don’t know is that there is no gold mine,” Hippsley said. The FTC also warns the public about a fraudulent investment scheme where scam artists are asking people to withdraw money from their savings accounts or other investments. The scam artist then takes the money to invest in companies or products that will fix the Y2K problem. Once the new year arrives, the scams should stop, Hippsley said. “These are opportunists’ schemes,” she said. “They target people and prey on the fear of the unknown. Once Jan. I comes and nothing happens, they won’t have any reason to continue the scams.” Heather Browne, spokesperson for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said the office had reports of telemarketing scams aimed toward the elderly. “Most of the scams deal with giving out your bank account number or credit card numbers,” Browne said. “Never give out your account number without some written verification.” Staff'members from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division will monitor consumer scams as New Year’s Day approaches, Browne said. “The best advice I can offer is buyer beware. If it’s too good to be true then it probably is.” Officials at the Comal County Sheriff’s Off ice cmd New Braunfels Police Department said no scams had been reported. To report scam information, call the FTC at (888) USA-4-Y2K; the Attorney General’s office at (800) 621-0508; or local law enforcement.Inside Abby...................................7A Classifieds.....................4-6B Comics...............................3B Crossword..........................7A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies................................7A Obituaries...........................3A Sports.............................1-2B Today.................................2A Television...........................8 A Key code 76 Top Stories of 1999 I  ....................... Putting out fires File photo Emergency response personnel, including Texas Department of Public Safety highway troopers, firemen and emergency medical technicians, take notes during the wildfire that burned 2,500 acres during the first week of March. Comal spent good part of 1999 under burn ban By Christina Minor Staff Writer Comal County spent much of 1999 under an outdoor burning ban, and the March wildfire in northern Comal County serves as a reminder why. The wildfire destroyed 2,500 acres of rugged terrain near Fischer while more than IOO firefighters from Blanco, Hays, Bexar and Comal counties battled the blaze started by someone burning brush. The initial fire started Feb. 28 but rekindled on March 2 when strong winds ignited the smoldering embers. Canyon Lake Fire and EMS Chief Doug Rogers said he could not determine exactly where the fire started. Fischer resident Merle Fischer said, “It started on a Sunday afternoon and burned for about a week. I had just come in from the pasture when I saw the smoke. At first, I was concerned about the pasture because it was still very dry. Luckily we didn’t have any animals out there.” Fischer’s property didn’t burn, but land to the northwest sustained major damage. “One ranch was badly charred,” she said. Fischer moved to the Fischer area in 1992, and said the area is prone to droughts and fires. See BURN BAN/5A Golf fee structure sparks firestorm of controversy By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff Writer When New Braunfels City Council approved a new fee structure for Landa Park Municipal Golf Course in May, several golfers vowed they would never go back. And some haven’t. Others have cut back their play. But Ward Watson, golf course manager, said he actually has seen more rounds of golf played since July I — the first day the new fee structure took effect. Between July I and Dec. 19, the golf course recorded 41,150 rounds. At that pace, the course could far surpass this past year’s 65,000 rounds for the fiscal year, which ends June 30, Watson said. The golf course also has generated more revenue this year — $403,042 between July I and November 30, compared to $266,501 during the same time this See GOLF FEES/5A File photo Councilmen Larry Alexander and Lee Rodriguez listen to debate about a proposal to change the fee structure at Landa Park Golf Course. The debate raged in May and June. ;