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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 26, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas VIV FELS 20332 NO09 10/22/99 7 0 SO-U : CRO PU BL MG 2627 E VONDELL DRHer ald-Zeitun g Vol. 148, No. 54 ZZ pages in Z sections February 26, 1999 Friday Serving Comal County since 1852 50 centsBy 4-1 margin, NBU trustees say yes to spring water sale By Bill O’Connell Staff Writer Mayor Jan Kennady was rile lone voice of dissent Thursday as New Braunfels Utilities officials approved rile sale of spring water to a commercial bottling company. “Some people have objected to this,” Kennady said, referring to residents who called her at home recently to express their doubts about the water sale. Details of the agreement had not been finalized Thursday, but NBU officials said selling water from the Edwards Aquifer could earn the utility up to $277,500 a year. NBUk board of trustees voted 4-1 Thursday in favor of drafting a resolution and a letter of intent supporting the proposal. Kennady voted against the plan, saying she believed the public did not support selling aquifer water and then being forced to follow water conservation guidelines. NBU general manager Paula DiFonzo said the proposed agreement represented only about I percent of the utility’s total water sales, and compared the deal with contracts already held with other commercial customers. “It’s very much like a commercial customer coming onto the system,” DiFonzo said. Some trustees said they endorsed the plan because it allowed the utility to make its water department profitable. “I’ve been in favor of this for a number of years,” said trustee Guadalupe Castillo. NBUh water and sewer departments have traditionally lost money, although a highly profitable electric department has produced enough revenue to keep the utility out of the red. The most recent financial report for the current fiscal year showed NBU had generated a net income of $3.7 million, $752,349 above budgetary projections. NBU currently pumps about 7,600 acre-feet of water annually from rile Edwards Aquifer, DiFonzo said. The utility has the right to pump about 14,000 acre-feet per year.See NBU/5A King gets death penalty JASPER (AP) — A defiant racist, who prosecutors insisted would kill again because of the hate in his heart, cursed his victim’s family Thursday as he headed to death row for chaining a black man to a pickup truck and dragging him to his death. Eleven white jurors and their elected black foreman took less than three hours to sentence John William King to lethal injection rather than life in prison, taking about the same amount of time they needed to convict him Tuesday of murdering James Byrd Jr. in one of the grisliest racial crimes since the civil rights era. King becomes the first white person condemned in Texas for killing a black since capital punishment resumed in Texas in the mid-1970s. The only time a white person was executed for killing a black in Texas was in 1854. Family members of James Byrd Jr. wiped their eyes after the death sentence was read, but declined state District Judge Joe Bob Golden’s offer to address King. As she left the courtroom, Renee Mullins, Byrd’s daughter, said she was “very satisfied" with the verdict. Nephew Darrell Verrett held up his fingers in the peace sign and said, “Everything’s OK.” Spectators outside the cour-KING    thouse    taunted    a smirking King as the convicted murder was led away. When asked if he had anything to say to Byrd’s family, King said “Yeah" and mumbled an obscenity. Byrd’s sister Mary Verrett said she wasn’t surprised by King’s behavior. “I wouldn’t expect for him to say, ’God bless the Byrd family.’ It just sums up the total personality of this young man," she said. “He has no remorse, even in the face of death.” See DEATH/4A Living history Ray Martinez wore many hats during his law enforcement career. He worked as a state narcotics agent, a Texas Ranger and a Comal County justice of the peace. MARTINEZ Those experiences pale in comparison to Aug. 1,1966, when Martinez, then a patrolman with the Austin Police Department, shot and killed Charles Joseph Whitman on the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower. Read about Martinez’ experience that fateful day and get his take on the university’s recent decision to re-open the observation deck in Sunday’s Her-ald-Zeitung. Tropical talent ROBIN CORNETT/Heratd-Zertung 1999 Junior Miss participants practice their opening number on Thursday night at the New Braunfels Civic Center. This year’s program features a tropical theme. Twenty-four young women from Canyon, New Braunfels and Smithson Valley high schools will compete for college scholarships at 7 p.m. today and Saturday. Tickets are $5 each per night and will be available at the door. CISD keeps homestead exemption Tax break stays after 6-0 vote by district trustees How They Voted By Heather Todd Staff Writer SMITHSON VALLEY — A significant tax break for Comal Independent School District patrons survived a second round in the ring with board of trustees. CISD board of trustees voted against elimination of the dis-trictb optional 20 percent homestead exemption Thursday night. The homestead exemption lived to see another day in a 6-0 vote, with trustee Robert Loop abstaining. ‘ ^Trustees again pointed to bad timiQg as the reason for not supporting! elimination of the tax break. The vote drew a round of applau se horn a crowded room of district taxpayers at the Smithson Valley High School cafeteria. “I will say the same thing I said last month. I think the timing is wrong for this. We have a state audit coming out and I am confident that there will be CLAY Comal Independent School District trustees voted 6-0 Thursday night against elimination of the district’s optional 20 percent homestead exemption. Yes: Doug Nan, John Clay, Dora Gonzales, Dan Krueger, Scott Watson, Lester Jonas Abstentions: Robert Loop KRUEGER some cost-saving measures that will come out of that,” trustee John Clay said. Trustees voted 6-0 to table any decision on eliminating the exemption at a Jan. 28 meeting following a lengthy question and answer session with disgruntled taxpayers. Clay also said any decision on the homestead exemption should wait until after the current state legislative session. The district is hoping to receive financial assistance horn the state, following any new bills passed in the legislative session that would provide additional funding for rapidly growing school districts. However, board president Dan K. Krueger warned the board to be prepared to make “serious” cuts in the district’s budget for the 1999-2000 school year in the face of mounting financial constraints. The district is currently sitting rat the state’s imposed max-unum rate — I $1.50 — for maintenance and operations. The mainte-I nance and .....    1 operations rate ^    pays    for teacher salaries and school supplies. The total rate, including the interest and shrinking fund rate, is $176 per $100 valuation. The district also faces decreasing state funding each year in the face of growing student enrollment. See CISD/5A DPS troopers stop marijuana transporter By Chris Crews Staff Writer Texas Department of Public Safety troopers executed a drug arrest Wednesday that resembled a scene from a Cheech and Chong movie. A routine traffic stop just after 6 p.m. on Interstate 35 in New Braunfels resulted in the seizure of 310 pounds of marijuana and the arrest of an 18-year-old Crystal City man. The man was booked into the county jail on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Bond was set at $50,000 and the man remained in the county jail Thursday evening. DPS Trooper Timothy Upright said a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am was observed speeding north on Interstate 35 and later changed lanes without signaling. Upright said the vehicle was pursued by his vehicle and another driven by Trooper Vaughn Pack. The vehicle came to a stop about 1/8 mile north of 1-35 and Farm-to Market Road 306. The man got out of the vehicle and bolted eastward across the median toward the service road, Upright said. The man was cut off by the car driven by Pack and the man was taken to the ground by the two troopers. When questioned, the man told the troopers that he “freaked outSee MARUUANA/5A Inside Abby.......................... ......7A Business...................... ......SA Classifieds.................... .5-10B Comics........................ ......8A Crossword................... ......7A Forum.......................... ......6A Local............................ ......4A Obituaries.................... ......3A Sports.......................... ...1-4B Today.......................... ......2A Television.................... .......SA CISD school calendar approved By Heather Togo Staff Writer SMITHSON VALLEY — Comal Independent School District board of trustees approved a two-break school calendar for its students rn the 1999-2000 school year. Trustees voted 7-0 Thursday to start the school year for CISD students and staff on Aug. 16 and to end the first semester on Jan. 3. Students will end the year on May 26 and have two one-week spring breaks — one from Feb 28 to March 3 and another April 17-21. The administration recommended the calendar to the board following a majority vote by faculty all district campuses. The vote, tabulated on Tuesday, indicated faculty preferred the proposed calendar to New Braunfels Independent School District^See CALENDARS ;