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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 25, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas 2o332 M009 I 0/ '2 / OU    f*    > SO-WEST MICROPUBLISHING jHT" ■"■T“    p    y    C    ,K{    {HeRALD-ZeIT UINU —------  *---*-—u—J...   ~....~     “...  *-•    ■    “                 —- •    .       *-----*-- Vol. 149 No. 71    20    pgs.    in    2    sections    February    25,    2000    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents F RIDAYFormer CASA director under investigation By Heather Todd Staff Writer The former executive director of a child advocacy program serving Comal County is under investigation by the Texas Attorney Gener-al’s office and the San Marcos Police Department for allegedly mishandling funds. Cindy Stauffer, former executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Central Texas, was relieved of her duties Feb. 8 in response to discrepancies found in her paperwork, said Jane Piper, chief executive officer of Texas CASA, Inc. Stauffer has not been formally charged, arrested or indicted in connection with the investigation, an official with the San Marcos Police Department said. A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office confirmed Stauffer was being investigated for alleged financial impropriety but would not disclose the amount of money involved. San Marcos Police Department and attorney general’s office officials declined to discuss details because the investigation was ongoing. Officials at CASA of Central Texas in San Marcos forwarded all questions to the agency’s headquarters in Austin. CASA of Central Texas, a private non-profit organization, provides trained volunteers, appointed by district judges, to act as advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system, CASA of Central Texas also serves Hays, Guadalupe and Caldwell counties. Piper said the investigation would not effect services provided to area children. “It’s important to keep in mind that the allegations are against a former employee and are not against the operations of the agency itself,’’ Piper said. “We are going to do all that we can to make sure the children are being served and that operations go on as normal.” Piper said employees of CASA Texas would handle operations and work with volunteers at the San Marcos office until the investigation was concluded. “We have staff supervising the volunteers to make sure operations go on as normal and that the children are being served,” she said. Often, CASA volunteers work closely with Child Protective Services and act as a voice in court for children in foster care to help them find permanent homes as quickly as possible, Piper said. On average, CASA volunteers spend 10 to 15 hours a month w ith each child. As of Jan. 1,2000, CASA of Central Texas served 354 children, from newborns to age 18, in the four-county area, officials said. A local CASA volunteer, who asked not to be named, said new's of the investigation both angered and disillusioned many volunteers. The volunteer said local CASA workers devoted time and energy fund raising and applying for grants to help support the agency because they wanted to help area children. CASA of Central Texas has beenSee CASA/3A Shining stars Amanda Beck/Herald-Zeitung Junior Miss Pageant participants practice their opening dance Thursday night during dress rehearsal. The pageant kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. Admission is $5, and tickets will be sold at the door. Junior Miss is a scholarship program for high school juniors. There are 21 girls from area high schools competing this year. This year’s theme is “Celebrating 2000.”CISD gives back two holidays By Heather Todd Staff Writer Comal Independent School District trustees approved a new calendar for the 2000-2001 school year Thursday night after hearing complaints that the calendar approved a month ago was not beneficial to students or teachers. Under the new calendar, CISD students w ill start the school year Aug. 14 — two days earlier than originally approved. Trustees also gave back two more days at the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks after receiving numerous calls from teachers, administrators and parents criticizing the decision to make Nov. 22 and Dec. 22 school days. The calendar was approved in a 6-1 vote, w ith trustee John Bertelsen voting against it. The calendar trustees approved Thursday is similar to the one approved Jan. 27, with the first semester ending before students return from Christmas break and two one-week breaks in the spring. The calendar approved Jan. 27 w as a modified version of the calendar draft recommended by teachers in a staff survey. In the original modification, trustees shifted a week of staff development and teacher workdays in mid-August, which moved the start date from Aug. 14 to Aug. 16. Trustees also changed Nov. 22 and Dec. 22 from school holidays to school days w itll an early release. Trustees Lester W. Jonas requested trustees review their decision after hearing concerns from teachers and parents this past month. Jonas said changing Nov. 22 and Dec. 22 to school daysSee CISD/3APublic learns more about primary candidates at forum By Erin MAGRUDER Staff Writer Comal County voters got up close and personal Thursday evening with Republican candidates running on the March 14 primary ballot. About 30 area residents attended the Republican Women of New Braunfels-sponsored public forum at the New Braunfels Independent School District Adminis trative Building, 430 West Mill St. The “Meet the Candidates” night gave voters the opportunity to listen to and question a panel of candidates running for the positions of Tax Assessor/Collector, Commissioner Pct. I and the five-way race for Constable Pct. 4. The high-profile race for Commissioner Pct. I gave incumbent Jack Dawson and opponent Douglas Kirk an opportunity to square off again. Kirk, publisher of a weekly new spaper, challenged Dawson in a close, four-way primary race in 1996 — and lost in a runoff election by 138 votes. Dawson used his time at the podium to talk about the challenges and rewards of his term in office. “I am proud of the relationship we have built up with the city — our interlocal agreements and our projects, ” Dawson said. Dawson, who spearheaded the 11 -month county flood cleanup effort, said flood control studies, the county recycle program, setting a low tax rate and the inception of the Comal County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Center were just a few of the projects tackled during his three years in office. Kirk said he wanted to use his time to talk “philosophically” about his views on government and the role of public officials. “The government is too big and everybody know s it, but nobody has the guts to do anything about it,” Kirk said. “We have the right to be left alone. We have the right to ask the government to stay out of our lives.” In a public comment session, Comal County Judge Danny Scheel asked Kirk why he was circulating want ads requestingSee CANDIDATES/3A Inside Abby.......................... ......5A Classifieds.................... .5-1 OB Comics......................... ......7A Crossword................... ......5A Forum........................... ......6A Local/Metro.................. ......4A Movies.......................... ......5A Obituaries..................... ......3A Sports......................... ..1-2B Today........................... ......2A Television....................... ......7A www.herald-zeitung. com Key Code 76 Tax collector incumbent of 24 years faces GOP opposition By Heather ToddStaff Writer In her seventh run for re-election as Comal County Tax Assessor-Collector, Democratic incumbent Gloria K. Clennan will face a Republican opponent for only the second time in her 24-year career. During her 24 years of service to the county, Clennan, first elected in 1976, only has faced one opponent in six consecutive general elections. Republican primary candidates Sherry Higdon and Sherman Krause are vying for their party’s nomination to challenge Clennan in the Nov. 7 general election. The primary election is March 14. Early voting begins Monday. The Comal County Tax Assessor-Collectors’ office is responsible for all motor vehicle registrations in the county and registers 50,000 Comal County voters. KRAUSE Clennan said her office staff collects taxes for 13 local entities, as well as the Water Oriented Recreation District and three special road improvement districts. Higdon, a Canyon Lake resident, said she decided to run for office because, at the time, Clennan was unopposed for the position. Higdon's husband, Jim, is running for Precinct 4 county constable in the Republican primary. Krause, a New Braunfels resident for 24 years, said he was running for office because he would like to play a role in the future of Comal County. “I live in Comal County and my family lives here and this is a fast growth area. I want to play a leadership role in that growth and in the future of this county. I also feel that HIGDON my experience, my qualifications and my skills are something that I can give to the citizens of Comal County,” he said. Higdon said her professional background, including business management, business accounting and tax reporting experience, made her well qualified for the position. She has been self-employed for the past four and a half years as the ow ner of Asset Specialists, a debt collecting and asset recovery business based out of San Antonio. She was previously employed in a food service equipment and supply company’s business office.See INCUMBENT/3A ;