New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 1, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas
WEDNESDAY January I, 2003
14 pages in 2 sections
■MHP* pages in c secHerald-Zeitung
Vol. 152, No. 44Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852
Top IO Stories of 2002
Flood ravages againNatural disaster tests area again
By Michael Cary Staff Writer
I The biggest news story for 2002 was spawned by an unusual storm system that hovered over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana the weekend proceeding July 4.
Meteorologist Larry Eblin called it a “good weather maker,” and described it as having a spring-like, cold center instead of a typical warm-centered summer storm.
Comal County and surrounding areas were under flash-flood warnings, and several floodwater rescues were prompted by runoff from heavy rains.
The Comfort area south of Kerrville took the biggest pounding, and as floodwaters flowed downstream along the Guadalupe River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began crunching numbers.
By July 3, Canyon Lake Manager Jerry Brite predicted water would overflow the Canyon I^ake spillway at a rate of about 2,500 cubic feet per second by 7 p.m. Saturday, July 6.
It would be the first time in history — after a near miss in 1987 — that the spillway would see water flowing over and into a pristine Hill Country canyon below it.
Brite, however, had covered his prediction, and said all bets would be off if rainfall increased above the lake overnight — which it did.
By Thursday, July 4, predictions were revised as the water in Canyon Lake rose, and the first trickle went over the apron of the 1,260-foot-long spillway at 4:29 p.m.
Hundreds of spectators walked, rode bicycles, pushed strollers and led their dogs on a leash across the five-kilometer Verela Real walkway on Canyon Dam to witness the historical event.
By the next day, water flowed at the rate of 69,300See FLOOD/4AInside
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K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
A New Braunfels couple sits in the road reacting to the site of their home, destroyed by the floodwaters, in early July. Just a few years after the devastating Flood of ’98, the July floods saw water topping the Canyon Dam spillway for the first time, affecting hundreds of Comal County homes.
Police, fire departments, civic center debate top local headlines
2 At about the time the City of New Braunfels was reeling from the July flood, it became clear that the New Braunfels Police Department was reeling under change.
Effective June I, Chief of Police Ray Douglas, a long-time veteran of the department, retired to take advantage of health insurance incentives offered to a number of city staff members.
Russell Johnson, who had recently retired from the Cortez, Colo., police department as assistant chief, was named interim chief of the NBPD on June 3.
Within weeks, six officers — including two senior sergeants — were fired. One of the sergeants has since been indicted on a misdemeanor theft allegation. Others, including another senior sergeant, a lieutenant and the assistant chief of police, retired.
The Texas Rangers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the state commission that regulates police departments have investigated the NBPD at the request of the city, but no findings have been released.
This past week, two of the fired officers, former Sergeant Roger Allen and his son, Christopher “Bo” Allen, sued the city, alleging they
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-ZeitungFormer New Braunfels Fire Chief Jack Collier stands by a bunker suit equipped with Breathe-Tex, a vapor barner that didn’t meet state safety standards.
had been fired in retaliation for trying to stop wrongdoing in the department. This story will continue to develop in 2003.
This past year was not the best for jobs in New Braunfels.
Flextronics, a manufacturer of computer cases for Dell products, announced in May that its
New Braunfels plant would close its doors by Aug. 2 — taking 850 full-time and 400 part-time jobs offshore and out of the local economy.
This past month, Flextronics paid back about $180,000 in tax abatements granted by Comal County in exchange for creating the jobs.
In March, New Braunfels Smoker Co., which manufactured the signature barbecue grills that put this city’s name out all over the United States, announced it would close its plant in August, as well.
Nearly 200 jobs went offshore with it.
These announcements came about a year after Mission Valley Fabrics, one of the oldest and largest employers in Comal County, reorganized, taking about 350 high-paying manufacturing jobs out of the Comal County economy.
Local officials and the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce Inc. are looking for new light industrial employers to fill the voids — and cautioning against putting “all of our economic eggs in the tourism basket.”See TOP TEN/4 A
Detectives look into death of 6-year-old
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
CANYON TAKE — Comal County sheriff’s detectives are investigating the suspicious death of a 6-month-old boy.
Sheriff's detective Sgt. Tbmmy Ward said Colson Jack Blevins was reported by his parents to have been found float ing face down in a bath tub at 12:4C a.m. Tuesday.
Sheriff’s deputies and Canyon Lake Fire/EMS paramedics arrived at the scene, a two-story home located in the HOO block of Jonas Drive, and found the infant unresponsive.
Paramedics took Blevins to McKenna Memorial Hospital, where attempts tc resuscitate him failed.
County Judge Danny Scheel pro nounced the boy dead and ordered ar autopsy.
Ward said the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death aSee DEATH/5A
Area doctor named to presidential committee
By Tony Cantu
Although she got on President George Bush’s radar because of her conservative beliefs, local doctor Beverly B. Nuckols knows her new task on a federal committee is decidedly nonpartisan.
Nuckols recently was named to the president’s National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. In that role, she will help educate the public about the scourge of domestic violence.
As a volunteer at women’s shelters for 20 years — including a three-year stint as a board member for the Comal County Women’s Shelter beginning in 1996 — Nuckols has seen the tragic effects of domestic and sexual abuse.
“Before we expanded the shelter here, it was full,” she said. During a residency at the University of TexasSee COMMITTEE/5A
Girl dies in wreck after crossing road to fireworks stand
By Ron Maloney
A 5-year-old New Braunfels girl died Tuesday night when a car struck her and her mother on Farm-to-Market Road 725.
An official at University Hospital in San Antonio said Samantha Rodriguez was pronounced dead half an hour after her arrival by helicopter.
Her mother, Maria A Medina, 39, of New Braunfels, was listed in critical condition.
Lake Dunlap Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Wiley said his department was dispatched to the scene just after 7 p.m.
“When we arrived, we saw
we had a major vehicle-and-two-pedestrian accident with a mother and small child involved,” Wiley said.
New Braunfels and Seguin EMS units were dispatched, and the AirLife medical helicopter was launched.
Department of Public Safety lW>per Lino Casas said Medina, Rodriguez and two other children were crossing the dark roadway between two fireworks stands when the accident occurred.
Enc W. Stewart, 31, of New Braunfels, was southbound in an early 1990s Buick Park Avenue when he struck both mother and daughter.
The other two children, both
girls, were not hit, Casas said.
Medina was thrown 20 feet by the impact, while the girl was thrown an estimated 60 feet, Casas said. Both landed on pavement.
“She suffered severe head trauma and internal damage and was not breathing,” Casas said of Rodriguez.
Casas said the accident would be reconstmcted, but speed did not appear to be a factor. No drugs or alcohol were suspected to be involved.
“(Stewart) couldn’t see them, and by the time he did, he tried to stop but couldn’t,” Casas said. “We’re not looking at any criminal charges,” Casas said.
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Hei ata-ZeuungDepartment of Public Safety troopers from Seguin investigate the accident that took the life of Samantha Rodriguez Tuesday night.