New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 7, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas
N EW (tietiiMFELS
627 E VCV
^ cj I 0 / 2 2 / 9 9 [cROPUBLI LHING
}• x 7 g 9 0
Vol. 148, No. 35 12 pages in I section January 7, 1999f HJRSDAY Serving Comal County since 1852
50 centsLockout lifted
The NBA lockout ended Wednesday after 191 days of struggle and impasse on how to divide the league’s revenue. NBA commissioner David Stem and union leader Billy Hunter emerged early Wednesday with an agreement, which was ratified later in the day.
A 50-game season will begin in the first week of February.
For more on the lockout and its relation to the Spurs, see page 8.
Vandal puts 8,000 phone customers on holdGuadalupe Valley cables were cut Tuesday night
By Chris Crews Staff Writer
About 8,000 county residents were without emergency 911 and long distance services for more than one hour Tuesday night after an apparent act of vandalism at the Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative office iii Bulverde.
Officials said they believed someone or a
group of people used an ax to cut cables at the company’s office in the 6900 block of Circle Oak Drive.
“At this point it looks like a random act of vandalism — theres really nothing we can tie this to,” GVTC vice president and chief operating officer Robert Hunt said.
More than 950 customers in the Bulverde area were without phone service from about 7 p.m. until the system was restored about 10:30 p.m., said Malford Jost, GVTC’s director of plant and engineering.
Jost said about 8,000 customers in the
Canyon Lake area, including Smithson Valley, Saltier, Hancock and Crane’s Mill, were without long distance and 911 service from 7 p.m. until about 8:30 p.m.
Officials had no dollar estimate of die cost to repair the damage. No known emergency situations caused by the vandalism were reported.
Capt David Oft of Comal County Sheriffs Office said he ordered patrols to pay special attention to banks and other businesses to prevent looting or other vandalism while phone service was down.
“At this point it looks like a random act of vandalism — there s really nothing we can tie this to,
n ■» Ii ai mt a a- —nooen Mum Guadalupe Valley Telephone CEO
The case remained under investigation by the sheriff’s office.
Hunt said the cooperative would work with the county’s Crimestoppers program to offer a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of die crime.
Taxes light up display
City claims ‘profit’ despite $202,000 subsidy
By Bai. O’Connell Staff Writer
New Braunfels city officials claim the Holiday River of Lights turned a “profit” this season, but if the project had not been subsidized by more than $202,000 in local tax money, it would have been about $150,000 in the red.
Holiday River of Lights is a lighted seasonal display conducted Nov. 26 to Jan. I at Cypress Bend Baric Visitors are charged a fee per car for the drive-through display.
City manager Mike Shands said the River of Lights was partially fund-ecTwrth-tourism revenue because the event attracted visitors to the city during the holiday season.
“It’s a judgment call. It’S nty something that’s clearly defined. This is just another tool in a community’s arsenal to attract visitors to the area,” Shands said.
Room occupancy taxes are assessed by overnight rentals like hotels and condominiums. Visitors pay a 13 percent tax for accommodations, with 6 percent of the revenue remitted to the state and 7 percent given to the city. The city of New Braunfels received more than $1 million in room tax revenue in 1998.
“The whole intent of this endeavor was to not have to use property tax money, and to return money to the general fund. We’re taking the excess revenue and patting it back in the general fund,” Shands said.
The Holiday Festival of Lights is in its second year of a three-year lease with a company that provides the light displays.
Last year, the city used more than $144,000 in hotel/motel tax monies. The total subsidy for the project for
Bexar Metro Water District gets day in commissioners’ court
Bv Chris Crews
County Judge Danny Scheel is not the only Comal County commissioner who has questioned the motives of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District.
Scheel said he became alarmed last year when the company, known as Bexar Met, began negotiations to acquire Bulverde Water Company.
“It upset me because I believed they might recover the water and sell it to San Antonio,” Scheel said.
But Scheel spoke with representatives of Bexar Met and was assured the company’s intentions were honest and without sinister undertones.
Scheel then invited them to address the commissioners’ court Rick Vasquez and Chuck Ahrens of Bexar Met are slated to make a presentation to the court today at its regular 8:15 a.m. meeting in
Who: Comal County Commissioners’ Court
What: Hearing of presentation from Bexar Metropolitan Water District When: 8:15 a m. today Where: Commissioners’ Courtroom, Comal County Courthouse annex, 150 N. Seguin Ave.
the courthouse annex. Vasquez said fears the company would come in and take over water
resources in the county were unfounded.
“We have no expansion plans in Comal County at this time,” said Vasquez, development planner for the company.
Negotiations to acquire Bulverde Water Company are continuing, Vasquez said.
Many people incorrectly believed Bexar Met was a private company, Vasquez said. Bexar Met was formed as a public company by the legislature in 1945. It is governed by a seven-member board of directors elected by the district^ customers.See BEXAR/3
What: Flood Control Study Committee When, Where: 4 p.m. today. Comal County Courthouse, room 306 Why: Discussion on lessening the impact of major floods
Digging Into Drainage Issues
Left, Stan Cunningham of Edward Jones Investments, 650 Landa St, points out the six-foot deep drains in front of his business. Cunningham and others in the area are concerned about the safety of children playing in and around them. Above, Jimmy Lagunas shovels mud. dirt and water from the drainage pipes underneath Landa Street on Wednesday.
Flood leading to new laws
City meets with drainage engineering firm, could decide on new policies on stormwater
By Bill O’Connell Staff Writer
The flood of 1998 could lead to the building of additional dams and the writing of new laws regulating real estate development in New Braunfels and Comal County.
City officials met with a Fort Worth-based engineering and consulting firm Tuesday and discussed ways to improve area drainage. Talks ended after more than two hours, and both sides agreed to meet again Jan. 25.
“I have hope for the first time in three years,” councilwoman Cathy Talcott said.
Freese and Nichols, Inc., reportedly will make a proposal to city leaders at a Jan. 25 City Council meeting. The proposal should
include calling for a series of meetings with city residents, lf approved by council, engineers from the firm's Austin office will meet with residents and gather public input on stormwater drainage and flood control issues.
That input would be incorporated into a city ordinance to provide a specific level of protection against flooding.
Freese and Nichols officials presented council Tuesday with a similar ordinance that had been prepared for the city of McKinney. The 64-page document detailed guidelines on flood management, engineering considerations and financing for a comprehensive drainage plan. The cost of drafting a similar ordinance for New Braunfels was not discussed, and the consulting firm was not hired to perform
any work for the city.
“The cost will be proportional to the level of protection the city wants to provide the residents,” Freese and Nichols principal John King said.
A new city policy on stormwater drainage could regulate real estate development by requiring builders to pay impact fees and requiring them to folk** specific guidelines when building in areas prone to flooding.
Drafting such an ordinance could take several months. Three new council members could be seated by then, but city leaders said Tuesday they didn’t want to wait to see if council still had the will to finish the ordinance.
“We need to do something right away,” councilwoman Jan Kotylo said.
Mayor Jan Kennady will reach her term limit in May, while councilwomen Cathy Talcott and Juliet Watson could be challenged for their positions.
“I am perfectly fine with another council dealing with this,” Kennady said Tuesday.
City leaders agreed the floods of 1952, 1972 and 1998 pointed to a need to provide better flood protection. Some said they believed the city also should work with Comal County officials to address flood control improvements outside city limits. *
“We’re going to have to work with the county,” councilman Larry Alexander said.
Four watersheds — Bidders Creek, Dry Comal Creek, Alligator Creek and the the Guadalupe River — contributed to the city’s historical stormwater drainage and flood problems.
Private engineers and consultants said one way to keep water from flowing unabated through those watersheds toward New Braunfels was to build flood con-