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  • Location: New Braunfels, Texas
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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 31, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas SPORTS TOUGH START The Smithson Valley boys basketball team struggles in its District 26-5A opener. Page 8A FORUM SPEAK OUT Readers voice their opinions about banning fireworks and going vegetarian in 2006. Page 4A Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. Vol. 154, No. 344 18 pages, 2 sections 50c Sunny High Low 74 54 Details .... 1B WWW. I '56825 00001' I* am PHH DEAR ABBY 4B CLASSIFIEDS SB COMICS 2B CROSSWORD 2B FORUM 4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS 8A TV GRIDS 4B County declares emergency, bans fireworks By Jessica Sanders and Leigh Jones Staff Writers Comal County banned the use of all fireworks and combustibles Friday, following the lead of other neighboring Texas counties. Droughts plagued all of Texas By Betsy Blaney Associated Press Writer LUBBOCK (AP) — Usually, it's West Texas that complains about the lack of rain. This year, it was the rest of the state. Texas got only 21.5 inches of rain in the first 11 months of 2005, down from a normal average of 26 inches, prompting bum bans in about half of Texas’ 254 counties and water restrictions on everything from sprinkling lawns to washing cars. The dry year follows one of the wettest years on record for Texas. In 2004, the state got more than 39 inches of rain, and floods caused damage in North and Central Texas. “Last year was really phenomenal as far as rainfall goes,” said Victor Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. "This year, total opposite. It’s feast or famine.” Drought conditions — meteorologists categorize a drought as a 75 percent departure from normal rainfall amounts — have been reported regionally in Texas since 2001. This year, rain totals were down across Texas. Brownsville and San Antonio received only about half of their normal rainfall. Despite Hurricane Rita, Houston fell about 9 inches short of its usual 44 inches of rain, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area received only about 19 inches of its 32-inch normal rainfall. TYventy-eight counties were declared disaster areas throughout the year due to drought. The counties, mainly in the eastern and southern portions of the state, and those surrounding them are eligible for federal disaster relief. Requests for drought designation in other Texas counties are pending. Worst hit was East Texas, where hurricane damages and See DROUGHT, Page 6A Commissioner Jan Kennady declared the county a disaster area for seven days, allowing the ban to take effect. Kennady acted as county judge in the absence of Danny Scheel, who is on vacation. District Attorney Dib Waldrip, who worked all day on the declaration to make sure it offered protection without limiting legitimate use of combustibles, said the last-minute action was necessitated by the imminent threat of wildfires. “We are facing a serious situation this weekend, with low humidity and the potential for high winds. Our most important duty is to take all necessary steps to prevent loss of life or structures,” he said. The county’s decision comes on the heals of a Dec. 24 grass fire on the outskirts of New Braunfels that destroyed one home, five outbuild ings and 1,000 acres. The firework ban covers using, selling, transporting and dispensing the popular New Year’s entertainment combustibles. Breaking the ban is a Class C misdemeanor punishable See EMERGENCY, Page 2A 2005: THE YEAR THAT ■ DEC. 25: 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 ■ TODAY: Texas deals with drought ■ SUNDAY: The top 10 stories of the year in Comal County ‘Now that it’s fixed, it helps tell all visitors that downtown New Braunfels is thriving.’ Brauntex Theatre Executive Director Janet AllenSIGN OF THE TIMES DAVID INGRAM Herald-Zeitung The BrauntexTheatre's marquee lights up the night on West San Antonio Street. Brauntex marquee highlights revitalization By Leigh Jones Staff Writer An icon of downtown New Braunfels is beginning 2006 with a new glow. The Brauntex Theatre’s neon marquee was repaired just before Christmas, heralding a promising year for the performing arts center and a new era in the history of the downtown thoroughfare. The sign had read “ntex” on one side and “tex” on the other, thanks to broken bulbs and fixtures. Theater Executive Director Janet Allen said the sign sent a negative message about the whole area. “Because it is such a focal point, it was becoming an eyesore,” she said. "It sent the message, the wrong message, that our downtown area was run down. Now that it’s fixed, it helps tell all visitors that downtown New Braunfels is thriving. It speaks liighly of the community’s commitment to preserve our heritage.” The sign repair, made possible by a $5,000 grant from the city’s Main Street Department, comes at the cusp of several major developments on West San Antonio Street. The much-anticipated McKenna HealthLink and Children’s Museum is almost complete, with a scheduled April I grand opening. Krause’s Restaurant, another local favorite, is scheduled to reopen in early 2006 as Friesenhaus Restaurant anil Bakery, a traditional German establishment. And popular New Braunfels eatery Granzin’s Bar-B-Q is preparing a major expansion on the site of an abandoned car dealership. The new restaurant, across the street and closer to Main Plaza than the current location, will offer patrons sit-down dining, a See MARQUEE, Page 2ACommissioners to determine fate of rollback By Leigh Jones Staff Writer AT A GLANCE ■ What:    Comal County Commissioners' special meeting ■ When: 2 p.m.Tuesday ■ Where: Commissioner's Court, 199 Main Plaza The signatures on Comal County’s tax rollback petition have been verified but not counted. Commissioners will meet Tuesday to determine whether petition organizer Doug Kirk gathered enough registered voters to call an election to roll back this year’s property tax rate by roughly one penny. An outside attorney hired by the court Dec. 15 to advise them on the procedures leading up to the potential election will help provide third-party verification of the count. Kirk and his volunteers collected 5,894 signatures. He claimed he only needed 4,533 to call the election. Although his staff did not count the signatures as they verified them, Tax Assessor-Collector Sherman Krause said his impression was that a majority of the signatures were from registered voters. If the petition is adequate to require the ballot See ROLLBACK, Page 3A G :.........-.............. ^.........-...... . . Fw'Wm' ■ Looking back The Herald-Zeitung takes a look back at the stories that had the biggest impact on Comal County in 2005.Retired airman makes it a three-way race for county judge By Leigh Jones Staff Writer The battle for the Comal County judge’s seat became a three-way race Friday when Pete Garcia filed his campaign paperwork at the local Republican Party headquarters. Garcia, who is making his first foray into the political arena, said his sole purpose in seeking the county’s highest elected office was to bring fiscal responsibility back to commissioners’ court. “We can do a better job than we’ve been doing for the last eight years. Theres no point putting the same leadership back in place when we haven’t had a balanced budget in five years,” he said. The 44-year-old Canyon Lake area resident decided to run for office after working on the tax rollback effort organized by local businessman Doug Kirk. Garcia’s concern over the county’s financial standing deepened after reviewing IO years of See JUDGE, Page 3A Pete Garcia I    The    SONIER    Group WWW.! few! ERA - D. Lee Edwards Realty St“Unmatched Attention For Your Real Estate Needs” P ROU D L Y SE R V I NG NEW BRAUNFELS & SU R ROU NDING COMMUNITIES Susan Sonier or Jerry Sonier 830.832.8815    210.885.6188 Email: [email protected] MMM! MMWMM MM ;