New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 4, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 150 No. 47 12 pages in 2 sections January 4, 2001
Serving Comal County since 1852
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who represents Comal County, takes care of some paperwork in the Senate chambers in December.
Wentworth tapped to lead redistricting
AUSTIN (AP) - Texas Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, was chosen to lead a Senate committee that will oversee the redrawing of voting lines.
In one of his first official duties as acting lieutenant governor, Republican Bill Ratliff on Wednesday named Wentworth the head of the redistricting committee. Ratliff also appointed a leading Democrat, Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, to take his place as the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Redistricting is expected to be one of the main focuses of the legislative ses-
Perry announces higher education initiatives/3A
sion that begins Jan. 9. Wentworth could not be contacted for comment Wednesday night. He represents 17 counties, including part of Comal County.
Some Hispanic Democrats in the Senate lashed out at Ratliff for not naming any Hispanics to the redistricting committee.
Ratliff said he did not take race into consideration when appointing the committee.
Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin, said, “I respectfully disagree with him. That committee should, in addition to bipartisanship, reflect the face of Texas and that sure...does not reflect the face of Texas.”
Barrientos lost his position on the redistricting committee, as did Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston.
Ratliff’s decision to exclude Hispanics from the committee was “an insult and a slap in the face to the state’s fastest-growing population,” Gallegos said.
Barrientos said that if the final redistricting plan did not reflect the growing
Hispanic population, some senators would consider suing.
In appointing Ellis to become chair of the finance committee, Ratliff took away from Republicans one of the most powerful Senate posts. The GOP holds a 16-15 majority in the chamber.
The finance committee crafts the state budget.
“I think Sen. Ellis has earned his spurs,” said Ratliff.
He praised Ellis for “balancing all of the emotional needs” of the senators when he presided over last week’s historic election of an acting lieutenant governor.
Paying for crowd control
Committee discusses funding to solve river problems
By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer
New Braunfels’ river activities committee brainstormed ideas to fund river maintenance and security Wednesday night, including a wristband system that would enable the city to charge a river-use fee via tube rental businesses.
The committee, which formed to devise solutions to problems on the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers, has to make final presentation to city council by Jan. 22.
The funding discussion was marked by the absence of the committee chairman Kevin Webb — the group’s only river outfitter representative — and included nine ideas for raising money to fund the group’s wish list of river jinprove-ments, such as permanent restrooms, increased signage and more law enforcement on the rivers.
Getting the city to accept some of the solutions to age-old river control problems might be easier if the committee can provide some methods to offset the cost, committee members indicated.
Monitoring the situation poses a problem, but committee member Donna Welch said 96 percent of the river traffic rents tubes.
But the city is restricted from charging certain monies for river-related activities for legal reasons. Also, the city cannot charge a tube tax or river tax because the city already charges the highest sales tax rate the state allows.
Nothing precludes a fee, Ferguson said.
“One of the benefits of a wrist-
The Comal and Guadalupe rivers draw thousands of visitors to New Braunfels each summer. Low water levels on the Guadalupe River pushed more tubers than normal onto the Comal River this past summer. As a result, local residents complained about behavior problems on the river.
Possible escapee sighting in NB
From staff and wire reports
New Braunfels police radio traffic late Wednesday reported a “possible” sighting of two men who escaped from a state prison several weeks ago with five other inmates.
Police received a report late Wednesday that two of the escapees might have been spotted at the Paramount Bowl, located on Huisache Avenue near Interstate 35 in New Braunfels.
A radio bulletin later was issued to local police that there had been a possible sighting of Michael Anthony Rodriguez and Donald Keith Newbury, both 38. The bulletin said a Hispanic woman was with the two men but no vehicle was seen.
The bulletin also said the two men appeared to be “casing” the
Paramount Bowl and refused eye contact with employees there.
Newbury and Rodriguez were among seven escapees who escaped from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Con-nally Unit at Kenedy in December.
Both men were serving life sentences — Rodriguez for capital murder and Newbury for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Rodriguez’s hometown is San Antonio, while Newbury is originally from New Mexico.
Information from TDCJ said both men are to be considered armed and dangerous.
Anyone with information about the escapees should immediately call a hot line number set up by the DPS, (800) 737-8143.
band — you get your money up front,” Ferguson said.
After the meeting, committee vice chairman Ken Valentine said of all the ideas he heard, he was most optimistic about the river use fee via wristbands because users would pay to maintain the river.
“It would be a way for the city to collect the fee from people who come to the river,” Valentine said. “The outfitters can make a little profit on this by reselling the wrist bands to all the tourists.”
He told the committee members they should ask city council to dedicate funds from such user fees or at least a percentage of them to the river management program.
Darren Hill compared the collective fees river users might use to the cost of a day at an amusement or theme park.
“If you come to New Braunfels
and spend a day on the river, that’s equivalent to the day of entertainment at those places,” he said, without being as expensive.
Valentine said he knew river outfitters were worried that customers would be unwilling to pay more money to get on the river, but asked, “Where else are they going to go?” “You could almost fund a lot of what we want to do with that money,” he said.
Irene Allen agreed a fee could help, but warned the board from charging too high a price and running off families looking for an affordable way to spend the day.
“Don’t shock everybody all at once,” Allen said. “You’ve got to gradually get these people into it...We want families here.” Valentine said: “We need to market it that way. You have to show them that they’re getting something
for that (money): more security, restroom facilities...”
Allen said she talked to a New Braunfels beer distributor who was willing to support the river management effort by providing money for things such as signs.
Fund-generating ideas Wednesday included: chaining an exit fee at last tube chute; increasing shuttle permit fees; setting aside a portion of money raised from tickets for the river; and assessing a slot fee to shuttle operators who use proposed shuttle bays.
Other ideas were to solicit donations from outside sources; increase parking fees at an existing public parking facility in the Prince Solms area; raising minimum fines; cooperate with the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce for preseason advertising of the “new” river; and look for grant money.
Law limits CISD’s post-census options
TASB, attorneys pin hopes on new legislation
By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer
Comal Independent School District trustees are counting on the state legislature to increase the post-census options of school boards.
As redistricting law' stands now, only school boards with a 5-2 configuration, such as the New Braunfels Independent School District board, can keep their trustee term schedule after redistricting takes place.
A 5-2 configuration means the school district has been sliced up into five geographic areas where patrons from each slice elect a trustee from their area to sit on the school board.
The school district as a whole
elects two candidates called at-large trustees.
The law allows these 5-2 districts to maintain the continuity of their staggered terms of office after redistricting.
But all other configurations, including the CI SD school board that has a 7-0 makeup, must conduct elections for every seat on the board after redistricting.
Trustees then have to draw lots to determine w ho will have truncated terms to start the staggered-term elections.
A normal term for CI SD trustee is three years.
“We support extending the option to 7-0 boards," Cathy Douglass, of the Texas Association of School Boards, said. “We support extending it to all boards.”
The TASB is pushing to have the option 5-2 boards have extended to all school boards in Texas.
“We support extending the
Davis trial to draw attention
From Staff Reports
An unresolved, decade old sexual assault and murder promises to present the trial of the year in New Braunfels in 2001 - if it takes place here.
In May, Jack Warren Davis will be tried a second time for the 1989 murder of Kathie Balonis, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher.
Balonis was found strangled and sexually assaulted in her Laurel Lane apartment in New Braunfels on Nov. 17, 1989. Davis, then 30, worked
as a main-tenance man in Balonis’ apartment complex.
Police arrested Davis the day after Balonis’ body was discovered. He was convicted of capital murder in 1980 and sentenced to life in prison.
Allegations that then-Dis-trict Attorney Bill Reimer
2001: A Look Ahead
Friday: Water officials keep close eye on levels
intimidated a witness in the case led the Third Court of Appeals to set aside the conviction in 1992 and send the case back to district court.
To date, Davis has not been
Key Code 76
Three NBHS students hurt in early morning rollover
By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer
Two siblings sustained minor injuries and a third brother remained at University Hospital for observation after their car veered off the road and rolled Wednesday.
The three New Braunfels High School students — senior Matthew Summers, 17; sophomore Jacquelyn Summers, 16; and freshman Justin Summers, 14 — were on their way to school when the single-vehicle accident occurred in the 200 block of Hue-co Springs Loop Road at 6:55 a.m.
The hospital kept Justin Summers for
observation but released the two older siblings by mid-afternoon, the students’ grandfather, Will Davenport, said.
Matthew Summer was driving his 1976 Scout when he reportedly veered to the right after adjusting the vehicle’s radio.
“He overcorrected to the left, shot across the road and hit an embankment,” Department of Public Safety trooper Vaughan Pack said.
The vehicle flipped and landed upright.
Davenport said Justin Summers might have broken his arm.