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  • Location: New Braunfels, Texas
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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 29, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29,2005 mm mo&FsHU' 2627 i VANDELL Ok EL PASO TX 7990? INSIDE LINING UP Republicans line up to file paperwork to run in the March primary elections. Page 4A UmWM SPORTS ALAMO BOWL Michigan and Nebraska visit San Antonio in matchup of two of the nation's most-storied programs. Page 5A RABMHHBBBBBBBBBBHB Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. Vol. 154, No. 342 12 pages, 2 sections 500 WWW. 56825 00001 IAI Sunny High Low 76 55 Details 1B DEAR ABBY 3B CLASSIFIEDS 5B COMICS 2B CROSSWORD 2B FORUM 4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS 5A TV GRIDS 3BFireworks threat has local officials wary By Ron Maloney Staff Writer With wildfires taking four lives and a critical drought condition across Texas, local fire officials are bracing for the fireworks danger they anticipate with this weekend’s New Year holiday. In New Braunfels, the city’s fire and police departments worked Wednesday to assemble a task force to enforce a “no tolerance” stance on fireworks, which are prohibited within the city limits. Police officers and fire inspectors — who are also licensed as peace officers in the state of Texas — will be patrolling streets and neighborhoods trying to discourage illegal use of fireworks and ticketing those they catch. In unincorporated county areas, where all fireworks are allowable except missiles with fins and rockets on sticks, a burn ban has been in effect since Nov. 4. Several local residents have recently been cited for violations of the ban. Officials tried Wednesday to set up “safety zones" at county facilities where people could use their fireworks under the supervision of local fire departments, but the idea was scrapped when officials with the county’s fire departments said they See FIREWORKS, Page 2A Grass fires across Texas claim four lives By Sheila Flynn Associated Press Writer CROSS PLAINS—When Teresa Kennedy’s mother died six years ago, she and her seven siblings left their childhood home untouched to preserve the memories, but in just minutes flames destroyed that history along with 50 other homes in this small town. “Theres nothing,” a tearful Kennedy said Wednesday as she stood with her two children outside the home, situated on two city blocks destroyed a day earlier by a grass fire that grew out of control. More than 70 fires swept across parts of drought-stricken north and central Texas over the past two days, killing at least four people, destroying nearly IOO buildings and scorching more than 13,000 acres. Two of those killed in Cross Plains were elderly women trapped in their homes by the fire, said Sparky Dean, state Department ol Public Safety spokesman. Anothei woman died in her Cooke County home near the Texas-Okiahoma border after she See FIRES, Page 3A Best of the best The Herald-Zeitung unveils its All-Comal County football teams. Flu virus strikes Comal County By Jessica Sanders Staff Writer The flu is back in town — with a vengeance. This month, the Comal County I leal th Department has documented 42 cases of influenza, and director Gwen Mills said that number is expected to increase during the next two months. “We usually see the number of cases rise in December and peak in January and February,’’ she said. In 2005, a total of 622 cases of influen- HELP YOURSELF UWash your hands frequently — especially before eating, before touching your face and after using the rest room. ■ Don't share utensils, lipstick, towels or drinks with others. B Avoid touching or visiting people who may be sick. B Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and stay home from work if you are feeling under the weather. For information, call the health department at 620-5595 or visit the Web site Health.htm or za were reported. : About 84 percent of this year’s flu cases occurred between January and March. Mills said it is too late to get a flu shot from the health department, but some area doctors still may have vaccines. See FLU, Page 3A B SUN DAY: The AP's top 10 stories of the year BTUESDAY: Faces of suffering B WEDNESDAY: The year in Washington BTODAY: Energy prices loomed large BFRIDAY: Information Age in high gear BSATURDAY: Texas deals with drought BJAN. I: The top 10 stories of the year in Comal County NEVER TOO EARLY TO RACE 6-year-old tastes victory in first year on the track 2005: TNK YEAR THAT WAS By Ron Maloney StaffWriter Some folks go camping. Others go boating. But Russell and Julie Hand and their children, Elijah and Katy, go racing. Or, more accurately, Elijah, 6, goes racing — and the Goodwin Primary student doesn’t mess around. He races quarter midgets. “I like racing,” Elijah said. “It’s pretty fun, except it makes you pretty hot wearing all the fire gear.” He also likes to win, and Hand has won a bunch of races this past year — including a couple of championships in Austin and San Antonio. “It’s fun. But I flipped over and scratched this," Hand said, pointing to damaged paint on his mileage. “The good thing is that holds you up so you don’t hit your head.” The Hands went racing because they love it — and because it was a hobby they could pursue as a family. Katy, who is still south of 5 years old, will begin practicing next season, which begins in March. “To watch 5-year-olds race and to watch them play T-ball is just two different worlds,” Russell said. He does the mechanical work while Julie and Katy help out with the club concession stand. When kids aren’t racing, they play at the track. “This is something we can all do together on the weekends,” Russell said. It isn t cheap. A used car costs, with a little luck, something on the order of $1,000 to $1,500. A brand new one can cost $5,000 to $6,000. Russell said he didn’t know if that figure included an engine because the price of a new car has been just out of the question. High energy prices likely to By Brad Foss AP Business Writer WASHINGTON — Terry Grand-champ’s Virginia home-remodeling business is booked through spring and he’s planning to bump up his prices to help cover the high cost of gasoline and building materials. But when it comes to his own finances there is no passing the buck, so Grandchamp is doing his best to conserve fuel at home and on the road. Chemical maker Tomah3 Prod ucts Inc. of Wisconsin is somewhat less confident customers will continue to absorb the soaring price of natural gas in 2006. That’s forced company president Steve King to shrink his work force through attrition and hire a commodity broker to manage his fuel purchases. At North Carolina-based Family Dollar Stores Inc., the biggest worry these days is that the already tight budgets of low-income shoppers will be nearly busted by the expected surge in home-heating costs this stick around winter. The company aims to stabilize itself by selling fewer discretionary goods and more essentials such as food and health products. Such is life for consumers and companies grappling with the prospect that today’s high energy prices may stick around for a while. Crude-oil prices, while sharply below the 2005 peak of almost $71 a barrel in August, are expected to average more than $55 a barrel See ENERGY, Page 3A Photos by DAVID INGRAMHerald-Zeitung Veteran Quarter Midget driver Elijah Hand, 6, shows off his car with a recently added Halloween paint job. Below, Elijah gives his dad, Russell, a hand with the maintenance on the race car. WANT TO GO RACING? B Log on to Parts aren’t cheap and a set of the tiny slick tires the midgets run on costs $200. You’ll buy at least two a season — more in the upper classes. “A sponsor would be a big help,” Russell said. Quarter midget racing began in Southern California in the early 1930s and for decades has been the entry level for auto racing as it is practiced in the heartland of this country — the traditional, gritty, open-wheeled variety known for its ground-pounding horsepower, high speeds and wild crashes on paved or dirt fairgrounds ovals. A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman among many others all got their start in more than a dozen quarter midget classes of cars racing on I /20th and I / 10th-mile ovals. In this area, it can be seen in Austin at the River City Quarter See RACER, Page 2A | Great Family BBQ I (830) 625-7844 Stay Warm & Dry , , 259 I (Kip 337 New Braunfels, TX 78130 ;