New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 1, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 148, No. 31 16 pages in I section
January I, 1999
Serving Comal County since 1852
County picks Justiss for WORD
By Chris Crews
Comal County Commissioners appointed Wayne Justiss to the Water Oriented Recreation District board of directors Thursday.
Charles Stephens of Canyon Lake and river outfitters Paul Rich and Zero Rivers were reappointed to the WORD board with terms to expire in December 2000.
Justiss was appointed to the seat filled by Jack Ltriinore of Canyon Lake for the past four years. Justiss currently serves on the county’s Rural Fire Prevention District No. 4.
WORD manages a 34-mile stretch of the Guadalupe — 18 miles above Canyon Lake and 16 miles below. WORD was created in 1987 and is run by a seven-member board of officers appointed by the Comal County Commissioners Court.
Commissioner Moe Schwab said bringing in one or two new people every year was important so the public did not perceive WORD as a closed group.
“Some people would say that they are appointed for life terms, and that is not how it was intended,” Schwab said.
Justiss said he looked forward to serving on the WORD board. He said one of his key issues would be to create policies that would make the people who used the river responsible for paying for law enforcement and maintenance.
WORD has committed more than $150,000 toward providing law enforcement to prevent lewd and illegal behavior on the river in 1999.
Rich, owner of Mountain Breeze campground and river outfitters, said getting the river clear of debris should be the group’s most immediate priority. He said sheet metal, trees and other debris posed potential health and safety hazards to those using the river.
“We need to get the river clean by spring break,” Rich said. “I wouldn’t send anybody down the river in the condition it’s in right now.”
He said obtaining water rights for recreational use from Canyon Lake was one of the group’s most pressing long-term needs.
WORD is made up of seven members appointed by the commissioners’ court. Members with terms expiring in December 1999 include Bill Mayo, Scott Watson and John Schwartze.
Changing of the guard
Outgoing Comal County Judge Carter Casteel, left, receives a gavel and plaque from incoming judge Danny Scheel at her final commissioner’s court session last month.
By Chris Crews Staff Writer
For the first time in eight years, someone other than Carter Casteel will wield the power associated with the office of Comal County judge.
Time will be the ultimate jury on how well the county deals with the problems of water policy, management of population growth and behavior problems on the Guadalupe River. The county also must deal with the aftermath of the flood.
Casteel has an impressive record of public ser-
do you consoler to be your greatest achievement during your
eight years as county judge?
The ability to build a consensus with the commissioners, as well as other governmental entities, in problem solving and planning for the future. As far as programs are concerned: county parks, environmental enforcement and rural recycling have been especially important to this county. In addition, I am proud to have established a human resources department, and our efforts helped to make employee pay competitive.
What will you miss most when you are no longer the county judge?
The thing I will miss most is the camaraderie of the commissioners’ court and working with
vice, including roles as an educator, school board member and attorney. She did not run for a third term, opting instead to enter a private legal practice with her son, Barron.
Danny Scheel will be the judge when Comal County enters the next millennium. His constituents will judge the effectiveness of his management style and how he leads the county into critical period of its history.
The only thing locals can be sure of as the gavel passes from Casteel to Scheel is that things are not going to be the same.
What is your philosophy regarding population
growth in the county?
of our beautiful resources and geographic location, I feel that it will be impossible to control growth. I also feel our focus should be on managing the population growth areas by initiating such programs as creating minimum lot sizes, protecting our groundwater and trying to acquire some zoning authority through the Texas Legislature, which is being endorsed this session by the Texas Municipal League.
What achievement are you most proud of during your term as a county commissioner?
What disappointments do you have?
I am proud of the court’s progress in the past four years by building and relocating two of the four justice of the peace off ices The Farm-1 o-
NBU sounds off in debate on deregulation
By Bill O'Connell Staff Writer
Area residents might soon have the opportunity to choose their electric power suppliers the way they select a long distance telephone services.
Supporters of deregulating Texas’ electric industry said that was the scenario they envisioned for the state.
The Texas Legislature is scheduled to consider deregulating the electric industry when lawmakers meet Jan. 12 in the new legislative session.
“We know of two (legislative) bills that have been introduced,” New Braunfels Utilities general manager Paula DiFonzo said.
NBU’s board of trustees voted Tuesday to send a letter to state legislators in an effort to explain the municipally owned utility’s side of the deregulation story. Newly-elected board of trustees president E.C. Momhinweg and DiFonzo signed a letter drafted by the Public Utility Commission explaining public power’s concerns related to deregulation.
The letter reportedly will run as an advertisement in the Jan. IO issue of the Austin American-Statesman and will be presented to state legislators Jan. 12.
Municipal utilities' preferences
Lawmakers will tackle electricity issue this month
AUSTIN (AP) — Advocates of breaking up the state’s utility monopolies contend it will lower the cost of electricity by as much as 30 percent, reduce pollution and improve service. Or it could do just the opposite, said Tom “Smitty” Smith, state director of consumer group Public Citizen.
The issue is back for more debate this legislative session, and the outcome could affect consumers every time they flip a light switch or turn
on the cof-feemaker.
“The cost for the average customer could go up, reliability could decrease and people may start getting calls during dinner asking them to try a new provider,” Smith said. Texans currently pay an average
of $ 1,063 a year for electricity, well above the national average of $850.
Last year, lawmakers grappled with an electric utility deregulation bill supported by Gov. George W. Bush, but it died during the last weeks of the session after losing support from the state’s rural electric cooperatives. Bush appears poised to back another attempt.
“I support the idea of giving consumers more choice when it comes to electricity service, and I lode for
ward to working with members of the Legislature to see if there is a fair way to do that,” he said.
One of the most contentious aspects of the debate has been socalled “stranded costs,” or the debts of current electricity providers.The Public Utility Commission has estimated stranded costs at $4.5 billion, or an average of $2,200 per Texas household.
Consumers already are paying for the debts, and utility companies
The Texas Public Utility Commission sets electric rates for the state’s privately-owned electric companies, such as:
— City-owned utilities and most cooperatives
— Privately-owned companies, which sell about 82 percent of the state’s electricity
— About 75 Texas cities, including New Braunfels, Austin, San Antonio and Kerrville, which own and operate municipal utilities
— Electric cooperatives, which sell about 8 percent of the state’s electricity, serving 3 million customers. Pedemaies Electric Cooperative is Texas’ largest.
for local control of electric power supply and continued reliable service to consumers were included in the letter.
“Deregulation should not mean more regulation,” DiFonzo said.
Some deregulation proponents said it would give consumers the ability to choose their electric provider the way they pick their long distance telephone service.
NBU has monitored attempts to deregulate the industry for years. Another deregulation bill did not make it through the state
want to keep it that way under deregulation.
“We feel that it’s absolutely necessary,” said John Fainter, president of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas.
That has some consumer groups worried.
“We have not bailed out the tele- », phone companies or the airlines, / not the railroads, when their markets j changed, so why should we bail out I the utilities?” Smith said. N
Comal County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rick Poindexter pins a captain’s badge on David Ott’s uniform following Thursday’s promotion ceremony. For more on the changes,