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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 4, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY February 4, 2003 12 pages in 2 sections mmmmm ""VBF"    I    ^    pages    in    Z    sectkHERALD-Z EITUNG Vol. 152, No. 71Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 centsShuttle probe to focus on flying chunk of insulation By MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) — NASA acknowledged Monday that its “best and brightest” minds may have gotten it wrong when they concluded in a report four days before Columbia disintegrated that a flying, 2 1/2- pound chunk of insulation did no serious damage to the shuttle’s thermal tiles during liftoff. Shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore said NASA will redo the entire analysis from scratch. “We want to know if we made any mistakes,” he said. Practically from the start, investigators have focused on the possibility that a 20-inch piece of foam insulation that fell off the shuttle’s big external fuel tank during liftoff Jan. 16 doomed the spacecraft by damaging the heat tiles that keep the ship from burning up during re-entry into the atmosphere. While Columbia was still in orbit, NASA engineers analyzed launch footage frame-by-frame and were unable to determine for certain whether the shuttle was damaged. But they ran computer analyses for different sce narios and different assumptions about the weight of the foam, its speed, and where under the left wing it might have hit, even looking at the possibility of tiles missing over an area of about 7 inches by 30 inches, NASA said. The half-page engineering report — issued on Day 12 of the 16-day flight — indicated “the potential for a large damage area to the tile.” But the analyses showed “no burn-through and no safety-of-flight issue,” the report concluded, according to a copy released by NASA on Monday. School board, county initiate funding search for traffic light By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The Texas Department of Transportation’s latest study shows that a signal light could be erected at a dangerous intersection near Smithson Valley High School. Now, local officials who don’t want to wait for state funding of the project are trying to find a way to pay for it sooner — and begin work on it now. The intersection, which now has stop signs on FM 3159. is to be replaced by an overpass with ramps, what engineers call a “grade separation” intersection. But that will not happen for a decade or more, officials said. The intersection is regarded as especially dangerous to SVHS students who must travel through it twice each day to get to the Bulverde or Canyon Lake areas. While the intersection now warrants a signal, Greg Malatek, Tx-DOT area engineer in New Braunfels, said this past week the project has been put on a waiting list of intersections already approved for traffic signals. The earliest he thought Grunert money would be available for the project would be Fiscal Year 2005. Local funding would be the only way to get the job done sooner, Malatek said. “In past conversations with the school district, they had offered to pay for a signal," Malatek said. ‘The fastest way to get this signal up is to get outside funding. We’ve done this before." H-E-B paid for the signal Help signals The Comal Independent School District and Comal County have scheduled meetings Friday morning to discuss funding a traffic signal on Texas 46 at FM 3159. ■ CISD trustees will meet at 7 a.m. at the district maintenance facility conference room located on Business 35 in New Braunfels. ■ Commissioners' Court will meet at 9 a.m. in the courtroom of the Commissioners’ Court building on Main Plaza. located on Texas 46 in front of Bill Brown Elementary School in Bulverde. CISD Superintendent Jfin Grunert said the district set a board of trustees meeting for 7 a.m. Friday to talk about funding for the signal. Grunert said the school district administration would be asking its trustees to find at least half of the necessary' funding. “We’re going in feeling this is something we need to do for our kids and citizens. We want to get it done as soon as possible,” he said. “We’re real excited about the opportunity to get this light done.” Precinct I Commissioner Jack Dawson said Comal County has set a special session of commissioners’ court for 9 a.m. to discuss the same issue. “I’m going to be over there at 7 a.m. for their meeting, See TRAFFIC LIGHT/3AAmbitious plans for sports complex withdrawn inside Flume’s proposed ballot initiatives throw curveball at lodgers group Mayor Adam Cork wants to slow down the process and carefully examine the impacts of taking the 4B money away from economic development By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Members of the New Braunfels Lodging and Restaurant Association were surprised by District 3 Council member Debbie Flume’s proposal to divert sales tax money now set for economic development to road repair. 'The association issued a press release this past week announcing its support for building a regional sports facility that would include baseball, softball, soccer fields and possibly sand volleyball courts. The proposal called for the pro ject to be paid for by 4B money and by increasing the Hotel Occupancy Tax by two cents to raise an additional $400,000 a year. Then, NBLRA President Dan Henry went to the city council meeting and heard Flume’s proposal for a pair of ballot initiatives in the May 3 election that would divert two-thirds of the 4B sales tax to street repairs. “We’re a little hesitant to do it,” Henry said of the sports complex. 'They sort of threw a curv e at us with 4B money, trying to sidetrack some of the economic development taxes.” The 4B tax, so named for its enabling legislation, is three-eighths of one cent. The total local sales tax is two cents per dollar. One-half cent of that is the county sales tax. Flume wants to cut the 4B tax to one-eighth of one cent, diverting the other quarter of a cent specifically to street repairs. Tile District 3 representative said this would create a fund dedicated to street repair and would enable those repairs to happen. Detractors say the plan would actually decrease the amount of money available for street repair, gut economic development at a time when the city needs it most, and hamstring the city’s ability to bond for its big-ticket street projects by taking away the mechanism to service the debt. Whatever it does, Henry said the idea is short-sighted and, if passed, would have a far-reaching effect on the community. The first effect is halting plans for the sports complex. New Braunfels Mayor Adam Cork was disappointed to hear that the NBLRA feels the need to back off advancing the regional sports facility concept, but he said he could understand why it might choose to. “I can understand their position. Volatility in a marketplace is not the friend of any business, and that’s what this equates to. Nobody wants to invest in something that is volatile,’ Cork said. The regional sports venue andSee SPORTS COMPLEX/3A Abby....................................5A Classifieds...........................4-68 Comics................................3B I Crossword..........................5A Forum.................................4A Movies................................SA Obituaries...........................3A Sports..............................1-2B Today..................................2A Key Code 76 81 56825 00001 i Having a ‘reel’ good time Fish are nibbling, but Troutfest is still a hit By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer Daniel Caballero, 8, and his brother, Paul, woke up early Saturday, excited to go fishing. Their mother, Nancy, tried to get them to eat breakfast. They complained, but compromised and had a quick bowl of cereal. They made it to luanda Park for Troutfest well before the spring-fed pool opened at 8 a.m. Nancy Caballero said it is the same every year. The boys come at opening and leave after closing. “This whole week they’re See TROUTFEST/3A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Tanner Haag didn’t need his two front teeth to put the bite on the winning trout at the annual Troutfest Youth Tournament Saturday. Haag took home the biggest trout of the day, a whopping 10-inch fish. Above, Gilbert Vasquez, 7, reflects upon his lack of angling luck during Saturday’s Troutfest. The day’s greatest fishermen, at right, from left, Jeremy Chapa, Tanner Haag and Daniel Caballero show off their award-winning catches. ;