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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 11, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas Herald-ZeitungSaving Energy To lower your electricity bill: • Set thermostats at 68 degrees. • Clean filters. • Make sure weather stripping and caulking are complete. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Juan J. Gonzales reads meters at the back of a business at Willow and Butler streets in New Braunfels. Power-fulbillsCold weather makes for higher utility costs By Jo Lee Ferguson Staff Writer Colder temperatures and high natural gas costs are translating into higher electricity bills for some local residents. The bill for a residential customer who used 1,000 kilowatts of power in December 1999 was $53.06, Reuwer said. But this past December, a bill for a 1,000 kilowatts of electricity was $73.89. New Braunfels Utilities spokeswoman Gretchen Reuwer said November electricity usage was up about IO percent this year. December usage also probably increased, she said, considering the extended cold weather the area has experienced. “You’re looking at temperatures that are not typical for this area, especially extended cold periods,” Reuwer said. “You had holidays in November and December both, Thanksgiving and Christmas. With holidays come guests, and school kids are at home.” That means appliances are being used more, she said. Reuwer said she checked local weather information, and the normal high is about 63.5 degrees this time of year, while the normal low is 40.8 degrees. “We had 12 days in December where the high never got above 59 degrees,” she said, and 18 days where the low was below 40 degrees. “All that has really played into the higher bills.” But increased usage is not the only factor contributing to higher bills this winter season. NBU’s rates have not changed, Reuwer said. But natural gas costs have increased this past year, which means electricity customers are paying more of a fuel cost recovery charge The fuel recovery charge recoups the cost the Lower Colorado River Authority pays for natural gas used to generate electricity. The LCRA, created by the Texas Legislature, supplies wholesale electricity to NBU. “It’s not something that NBU or LCRA makes money on,” Reuwer said. “There’s no added charge to that. Its a straight pass through.” The charge had not increased in years, but it grew twice in 2000 because of the natural gas market. The increases were triggered when LCRA’s own cost per unit of natural gas grew', reaching $4 See BILLS/3 A     . ThursdayVol. 150 No. 52    12    pages    in    2    sections    January    ll,    2001 Deaths followed court decisionSlain father won child support By Ron Maloney Staff Writer FISCHER — A November court decision awarding child support to a Comal County man might have led to his shooting death and his ex-wife’s suicide. Comal County Sheriff’s Capt. Dennis Koepp reported in a news release Wednesday that detectives believe Carol Brooks, 46, of Houston, shot her ex-husband Jerry at his residence Sunday and later that same day killed herself. Koepp wrote in his report that Carol Brooks allegedly went to her ex-husband’s trailer home on North Cranes Mill Road sometime after 1:15 p.m. Sunday, shot Brooks and then left the home. Krystal Brooks, 18, the daughter of the couple, met her mother on nearby Farm-to-Market Road 32, Koepp reported. Krystal Brooks had lived with her father since before March 1999, according to documents filed in the 274th District Court. According to Koepp’s report, Carol Brooks, who had not seen her daughter in nearly two years, told her she needed to talk, and they drove around Wimberley together. While parked at a Wimberley office complex, Carol Brooks told her daughter she had killed Jerry Brooks, Koepp reported. He also said that Carol Brooks then ran from her vehicle with a .38 caliber revolver in hand and shot herself in the head. Koepp said investigators were told Carol Brooks had been very upset after a November 2000 decision in the 274th District Court in New Braunfels. In that hearing. District Judge Gary Steel ordered Carol Brooks to pay her ex-husband $533 per month in child support. Jerry Brooks had had custody of his daughter since 1999. Serving Comal County since 1852    50    cents Above-normal rainfall helps thirsty lakes Wednesday’s rain approaches record By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer Gray skies dumped about 1.5 inches of rain on the New Braunfels area Wednesday and continued more than three months of above-average rainfall in South Central Texas. After five years of drought — and a 500-year flood throw n in the mix — gauging what’s normal as far as rainfall goes is difficult at best But National Weather Service forecaster David Schumacher said there is no question: things have been wetter than usual. “We’ve been above normal (in rainfall),” Schumacher said. “We kind of had a rally there toward the end of last year. It started to pick up in October, November and December, and we’re sort of continuing that trend. “To get an inch, inch-and-a-half rain in January is not normal — a lot of times, January is pretty dry.” Moisture from the south and southwest rode over South Central Texas a little ahead of a low pressure system that bumped into a laige upper level pressure system in West Texas. The result was the latest slow pour over a saturated New Braunfels. “This has been our biggest rain so far this year,” Schumacher said. Wednesday’s rain fell about an inch short of the record set in 1900, when 2.25 inches were reported. “We’d have gotten the record on one of the other days in January,” Schumacher said. “Well have made a run at it anyway.” NWS rates the weather at the end of each month and uses a system based on the averages of those months to determine normal conditions for each month. “You go through these periods where you have dry spells and wet spells,” Schumacher said. “The last few months, we’ve been on the wet side of the average.” CHRIS PACE/Herald-ZeitungLee Badeaux, of Austin, fishes Wednesday in the Guadalupe River between rain showers. NWS predicts a couple of nice days with warm temperatures in the 60s with decreasing clouds Thursday and Friday before another quick rain hits Saturday. While the extended period of wet weather might vex construction project managers, some of the thirsty reservoirs in the area are eating it up. “It definitely reversed the trend. Up until last summer we were still in a pretty strong downward spiral. This fall, we made some gains back,” Schumacher said. He said reservoirs around Austin — Lake Austin, Canyon Lake, Marble Falls, LBJ and Inks — have taken the rain and run with it, but toward the west, there’s still room for more rain. “After that dry summer, there’s still a lot of reservoirs to the west that can still (take) a lot of water,” Schumacher said. “To the east there are reservoirs doing really well and cire near pool.. .the farther west you go, the farther down they seem to be. Medina Lake is still down aboutSee WEATHER/3AMan receives two-year prison sentence for sexual assault By Ron Maloney Staff Writer A Comal County jury sentenced a Dallas area man to two years in state prison Wednesday for raping a 16-year-old girl on a June 1999 tubing trip. Ronald Wesley Carver, 28, was taken to Comal County Jail after his sentencing for second degree felony sexual assault on a child. He also will pay a $10,000 fine. The jury, which consisted of seven men and five women, could have sentenced Carver to as many as 20 years in prison. Carver’s attorney, Ray Green of San Marcos, said his client would appeal the sentence handed out before 22nd Judicial District Court Judge Charles Campbell. An appeal bond was set at $5,000. Carver is the second man to plead guilty and be convicted in connection with the June 20, 1999, sexual assault of a 16-year-old LaPorte girl. In November, Loren Rutter pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girl while she was unconscious in her tent at a Guadalupe River campground. Rutter got a nine-year sentence in state prison and a $ 10,000 fine — all probated except for six months in Comal County Jail. Carver, who cooperated with authorities in the investigation and cried on the witness stand for half an hour Wednesday morning as he expressed remorse, will serve state prison time. Testimony in his sentencing hearing showed Carver had returned to the victim’s tent at least three times after her friends had removed him. In his statements to investigators, Carver said the girl had initiated sex and that shed told him she was 18. On Wednesday, Carver backed away from that statement. “As you sit here today, do you know whether she was conscious or not?” Green asked his client. “No, sir,” Carver replied, wiping away tears. “I was highly intoxicated myself.” Inside Abby......................... .......5A Classifieds................... ....2-4B Comics....................... .......8A Crossword................. .......5A Forum.......................... .......6A Local/Metro................. .......4A Movies......................... .......5A Obituaries.................... .......3A Sports........................ ...1-2B Today.......................... .......2A Stocks............................. .......5A Key Code 76 Local skat players head to Las Vegas By Betty Taylor Features Editor Some liken it to chess and say it is the most mentally challenging card game ever known. Perhaps that is why, in the 1800s, it was brought to this area from Germany, and select groups have played it ever since, passing the game down from generation to generation. Contrary to what many people think, skat does not rhyme with “cat.” It is pronounced “scot.” As some struggle with the pronunciation, others are busily preparing for a Las Vegas tournament this weekend and an International Skat Tournament to be hosted in February in New Braunfels. James Stoke, president of the Texas State Skat League and a former winner in the Las Vegas tournament, will join Jim Leissner, Chester Boenig, Bernie Krebsbach, Henry Rusch, Dan Schumann and Russell Krueger as they vie for cash prizes Saturday and Sunday in Las Vegas. As many as 150 players are expected to participate in the tournament. Stoke said he had been playing skat for more than 60 years. “My dad and his friends played, and I watched and eventually began playing as well,” he said. “It was really Bernie Krebsbach who got us playing in international Skat tournaments. We met him when he sponsored a tournament in Reno.” Krebsbach, a winter Texan from Wisconsin who spends about six months out of the year in New Braunfels, was the winner in this past year’s Las Vegas tournament. He said this year’s cash prize should be about $600. “You don’t make any money, but it is cheaper than blackjack,” he said. Participants in tournaments usually pay an entry fee, and the cash amount of See SKAT/3A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung From left, Danny Schumann, Jim Leissner, Bernie Krebsbach, James Stolte (seated), Russell Krueger, Henry Rusch and Chester Boenig are participating in a Las Vegas skat tournament. ..... ;