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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 21, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels FRIDAY February 21, 2003 mqmmmm    14    pages    in    2    sectionsHerald-Zeitung mmmmmi.....................................................- ~.....................................................-.......~...................~7_ ¥ _ ......... ■HHH VoK 152, No. 86 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Severe weather on its way DAVID INGRAM/Herald-ZeitungNew Braunfels firefighters survey the accident that left a Geo Tracker flipped over off Interstate 35 Thursday morning. The wet weather was believed to have been a causing factor. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Thursday’s wet, nasty disposition could be a precursor to a more violent weather temperament as a front blows through the South Texas region today. National Weather Service Meteorologist Ken Widelski said an upper-level atmospheric disturbance moving this way from the California coast should arrive late this morning, or during the after GBRA reviews pipeline project study By Mike Edoleman For the Herald-Zeitung SEGUIN — Board members of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority have reviewed the final report on a $130,(XX) Canyon Lake Economic Study. Board members and a handful of concerned citizens listened intently Wednesday as Dave Keen of BBC Research and Consulting revealed the findings of the study. The study compares the economic impact of the amended permit allowing GBRA to divert more water from the lake for human consumption by making the hydropower rights of plants downstream subordinate to water used for humans or to maintain environmental flow requirements. The study was paid for by GBRA, and directed by the Lake Advisory Committee, appointed in 2001 at the request of the Comal County Commissioners’ Court to study the impacts of the permit amendment. Comal county commissioners will hear a presentation on the report at 9 a.m. today in a special session of commissioners’ court to be conducted in the commissioners’ courtroom at 199 Main Plaza, Under the former permit, GBRA could divert only 50,000-acre feet annually from the lake. Under the amendment, granted by the former Texas Natural noon hours. “As that upper-level storm gets close to the area, it will create a threat for damaging winds and very large hail,” Widelski said. “As the system swings through Friday night, northwesterly winds should dry us out for the weekend.” Thursday morning, a weather front stalled over south central Texas creating thunderstorms and localized heavy rainfall. Resource Conservation Commission (now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), GBRA can divert as much as 90,000 acre feet annually, but will no longer release water solely to operate hydroelectric plants. Despite the increase in water GBRA can now divert from Canyon Lake, Keen said the economic impact on the lake would likely be positive rather than negative. The study did not please everyone though, as GBRA Chairman John Schneider Jr. and Bob Wickman, representing Friends of Canyon Lake, both took issue with certain aspects. The study claims that with See GBRA/7AInside Abby....................................5A Classifieds...........................3-6B Comics................................8A Crossword..........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro.........................4A Movies................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports..............................1-2B Key Code 76 a 1 56825 00001 During the afternoon hours the weather slackened, but Widelski said late Thursday it would likely pick up overnight with hail, high winds and flooding from one to three inches of rainfall. Comal County SherifFs Lt. Brent Paullus said deputies were seeing increased numbers of accidents on rain-slickened roads, but no lifethreatening injuries. “It’s nasty weather. People need to slow down, take their time and allow more time to get where they’re going due to traffic and accidents,” Paullus said. In the city, New Braunfels Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Mabe said firefighter/paramedics were responding to numerous rain-related traffic accidents. “We haven’t had anything too serious,” Mabe said. County Engineer Tom Hornseth said county road See WEATHER/7 A Advising firm has $60,000 price tag By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer The New Braunfels Infrastructure Improvement Corporation Board (4B) wants City Council to spend $60,000 to figure out how to attract Tbyota suppliers to the area. The 4B directors voted Tuesday night to accept a modified proposal from TIP Strategies Inc. pending a look at the firm’s references. lf council approves the recommendation, TIP Strategies will compare the scope of Tby-ota’s proposed San Antonio operations to other sites, and then compare the development needs of Toyota suppliers to the development atmosphere of New Braunfels. TIP would then work with the city to plan an initiative to attract suppliers. 4B board members Monroe Miller (president), Ray Schoch, Gale O’Hara Pospusil (treasurer), Jay Patrick, Matthew Harrison (secretary) and Kirk Kistner voted 6-0 in support of the recommendation. Board Vice President Bill Morton was absent Tuesday. After the board discussed the proposal, Schoch moved to accept it. Pospisil seconded the motion. The board dropped from the offer a $150-per-hour provision for ongoing support so council would have a specific figure when considering the proposal’s cost. TIP Strategies has done economic development for See FIRM/7A Farm, range forum focuses on land, environment issues By Dylan JimEnezStaff Writer The fourth annual South Texas Farm and Range Forum will be conducted Feb. 28 through March I at the Seguin Outdoor Learning Center and The Guadalupe County Fairgrounds. The forum will host several speakers from educational, governmental and commercial perspectives discussing a variety of agricultural topics. One of the highlights will be Saturday’s lunch speaker, Larry Butler, state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who will talk about agriculture, the new farm bill and the urban edge. Saturday afternoon Judy Fort, rural and agri-business development specialist for the USDA, will speak on agricultural diversification for economic subsistence. Event organizer Susan Hughes said economic incentives for farm and ranch owners are important to keep botanical habitats thriving. “By combining hunting, tourism, agriculture and assistance from government and private programs, landowning families can diversify, optimize management practices and improve the See FORUM/7A Districts cram for new test The take on TAKS Beginning Feb. 25, students throughout Texas will take a new test — the Texas Assessment of Know-ledge and Skills (TAKS). In a three-part series beginning §&-    today,    the    Herald- Zeitung takes a look at this new educational initiative. ■ TODAY: Where will the money come from? ■ SATURDAY: Preparing for the test. ■ SUNDAY: What parents, students think of the test. Superintendents: Budget crunch hurts instruction By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer School districts battling to fund a growing percentage of their annual budgets will find it increasingly difficult to provide the type of instruction needed to help meet the mandates of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test (TAKS). New Braunfels Independent School District Superintendent Ron Reaves said funding education in face of the TAKS is “a challenge.” And his counterpart at the Comal Independent School district, Jim Grunert, agrees. “Each year, the state is sending us less money because our property values are growing,” Reaves said, which means local property owners are paying a higher percentage of the education tab. ‘This coming year, we’re facing a more crucial year in funding because our [prop- K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Canyon Intermediate fifth-grade teacher Mary Kay Erben (left) says librarian Nancy Lindley (center) is her normal “goto" person for everyday school questions. However, with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test coming up, Director of Secondary Curriculum Jan Booth (right) has become an important resource for teachers preparing their students for the new test. erty] values have gone up, but then also our interest income is down and our frozen exemptions are up,” Reaves said. School districts invest their money in safe treasuries and other investments that are collateralized. Just like anyone who has an interest-bearing checking or savings account, NBISD earns money on its investments. But a down market hasn’t helped interest income. And there are more residents of New Braunfels who are reaching the age of 65 who then apply for a tax exemption, called frozen exemptions because the tax rate they pay cannot be increased unless the property is improved. Plus, Reaves said next year it appears that the state will provide only 30 percent of the district’s needed funding. The rest must come from local taxpayers, grants and federal monies. So it will be a challenge for NBISD to maintain the staffing and programs it is providing this school year. The impacts could reach all the way to the classroom, Reaves said. “So when you say impact of TAKS, certainly a school district that is struggling with its budget, that certainly has implications all the way See TAKS/7A Alphabet soup? TAKS is the fourth phase of the Texas Student Assessment Program, which began in 1980. From 1980 to 1984, students were tested with the TABS (Texas Assessment of Basic Skills) and from 1985 to 1989 with the TEAMS (Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills). From 1990 to 2002, students were tested with the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic SkIIIs), which shifted Pie focus of assessment from minimum skills to academic skills. The TAKS test now becomes the Texas assessment and continues the focus on academic skills but at a much higher level than the TAAS test. ;