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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 14, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY January 14, 2003 IO pages in 2 sections i    IO    pages    in    2    sectKHerald-Zeitung p-rr——----------—-TK'-iq %mim..........iL .............- ;* .................. :............t ' j Vol. 152, No. 53 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents 78th legislative session convenes today By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer A new state representative and a veteran state senator who’ll represent the Hill Country in the 78th session of the Texas Legislature, which opens today in Austin, outlined their major concerns Monday. One includes how to run a state on a budget expected to suffer a $9.9 billion-dollar shortfall. But first, New Braunfels attorney and Republican Carter Casteel, who will be sworn in today to represent Casteel Wentworth Comal, Bandera, Kendall and Gillespie counties as the new state representative for District 73, focused locally. Casteel said she’ll watch rural land issues - “wise land use,” rural development and infrastructure. Shell look at ways for coun ties to have some authority over water availability and growth. She won’t be alone. Jeff Wentworth, a veteran Republican who returns to the state, said land-use is- See LAWMAKERS/3A INSIDE:    PAGE 3A ■ Budget shortfall Hearty twice as bad as expected. ■ Governor wants insurance reform. Coming WEDNESDAY Herald-Zeitung Reporter Sean Bowling and photographer K. Jessie Staten chronicle state Rep. Carter Casteel’s first day in office. Council pedals closer to bike path to Gruene By Ron Maloney Staff Writer A bike path to Gruene — or most of the way to Gruene — could become reality after Monday night’s unanimous city council vote to move forward with the plan. The project would allow the City of New Braunfels to take advantage of a $609,000 grant secured by Comal County Trails, Inc., from the Texas Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program. New Braunfels would have to spend $150,000 on the project. The path would run from the Faust Street Bridge area under Loop 337 into the Church Hill area and on to Gruene Road. Monday night’s vote authorizes City Manager Charles Pinto to execute a pair of agreements with TxDOT that will move the project forward. The agreements must be signed by March 9. City Engineer Mike Short told council Monday night he was in the process of retaining an engineering firm to study the project and determine what it will cost. Comal County Trails had prepared an estimate, but f ^ JMBA, W c* ta SH Kendrick city officials believe it might not be complete. Short told council that at a meeting with TxDOT officials this past week, he had been told the city could build whatever portion of the path possible with the funding available, without being required to complete the project. District 4 Council member Robert Kendrick said he had concerns about the costs. “I think we’ve pretty well determined that the money and the scope of this project don’t correlate," Kendrick said. He wondered if the route could be changed to make the project less costly. “We can’t change the route,” Short answered. “We can only shorten it.” Mayor Adam Cork asked the engineer what portion of the trail he thought could be completed for three-quarters of a million dollars. “Faust to the tracks on Gruene Road is probably how far we’d get with it, but that’s a complete guess,” Short said. Fire destroys Canyon Lake home By Ron Maloney Staff Writer CANYON LAKE -Afire of unknown origin destroyed a home early Sunday. Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Capt. Mark Montgomery said the home located at Canyon Springs and Post Oak drives was heavily burning when firefighters arrived on the scene just after 4:15 a.m. The home was a complete loss, but Canyon Lake and Spring Branch firefighters saved the attached garage/shop area, Montgomery said. Value of the stmcture, estimated to be about 2,(XX) sq. ft., and its contents were not known Monday. Comal County Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Anz said the owner of the home was traveling in New Mexico and hadn’t been reached. “We have to talk to the property owner to get permission to go in there1,” Anz said. “We don’t know what caused the fire yet.” City approves $702,000 in home buyoutsInside By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The City of New Braunfels will move forward with the first six of what could be 23 buyouts of homes damaged or destroyed in the Julv 2002 floods. City council members voted unanimously Monday night to approve $702,000 in purchases of the six homes, which are located on Fair Lane, Riverside Drive, Crest Lane, River Acres Drive and in Sleepy Hollow. New Braunfels Chief Financial Officer Chet Lewis . told council the six property owners involved would receive checks from the city as early as in a week or two — as soon as the city closes on the purchases. “What we’re asking the city council to do is make a motion to allow the city manager or the mayor to close on these properties,” Lewis said. District 3 City Council member Debbie Flume expressed concern that more homeowners hadn’t sought to take advantage of buyouts — particularly in the Sleepy Hollow area, where only one of the initial six homes were located. Lewis told her the program is a voluntary one, and those who stayed on lots flooded this past summer — and substantially damaged — would be required to elevate when they rebuild. District 2 City Council member Larry Alexander asked Lewis if he was aware of how long the buyouts, which are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, would take, Lewis assured him he would cut checks as quickly as the city could close on the properties. Alexander sounded dubious. “I know a homeowner who backed out of the program because FEMA told him he would go three or four years before he saw any money,” Alexander said. Lewis told the councilman that the homeowners wouldn’t see such delays — that if anyone did, it would be the city. “If there’s a delay, it will be on our end in terms of getting reimbursement, not his. He can still participate and he should call us. That individual should have talked to me, and not the person from FEMA,” Lewis said. Mayor Adam Cork applauded Lewis, the city staff and their work on the buyouts. “This is an extremely unusual situation to get approvals this quickly,” Cork said. “It hasn’t been as fast as FEMA said, but it s been much faster than in other disasters. I know there are people out there waiting, but they should know that,” Cork said. The buyouts will take place within FEMA’s “fast track" approval system. The appraisals of the first six homes total $1,162 million, and $461,353 in insurance claims have been paid on them. The total purchase price is $702,026, and the city’s share of that will be $187,876 in cash or in-kind services. Under the fast track or first tier of flood buyouts, New Braunfels has approvals from federal and state officials to purchase 23 properties within the city limits. Abby.............................. Classifieds...... 6A ?4R Comics.................... SA Crossword................... RA Forum........................... 4A Local/State........ 3A Movies................... BA Obituaries................. SA Sports........................... 1-PR Today.................. PA Stocks,... 6A Key Code 76 8 "*56825 00001 Dress rehearsal K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Canyon students share some time together while waiting for their class of hogs to go into the show ring Sunday morning at the Canyon High School chapter livestock show. Canyon High ag students learn about responsibility By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Proud parents of Canyon High School agriculture students watched on a wet Sunday as their children showed off their shiny pigs, steers, goats and lambs — results of responsibility. Learning that “R” word, plus others like teamwork, showmanship and cooperation, were reasons why 150 CHS ag students held their show. It happened from 7:30 a.m. to I p.m. at the Comal County Fairgrounds. Having it at the fairgrounds was another reason for the show’s importance. CHS ag teacher Glenn Grimm said it’s a dress rehearsal. “For major and county stock shows, its a chance to let kids come into the show, get into a practice situation and the older kids take the younger kids under their wings and work with the younger kids and give them pointers,” Grimm said. Another reason for the show — the Cougar ag students learned sportsmanship. “They learn how to be a good winner and how to be a good loser — it is a competition for them,” Grimm said. And in competing, they learn about goals, he said. Real rewards. “The ultimate goal of the program is financial reward in the end. We’ve had college educations paid for by this — a lot of our students have done that. Also, scholarships. If they’re good in See CHAPTER SHOW/3A Evan Lenz (right) helps Meggan Duncan pen her medi-um-weight Hampshire during Canyon High School’s chapter livestock show Sunday at the fairgrounds. Although as an assistant Lenz can wear his jacket in the ring, competitors must brave the elements like Sundays cold gusts in their show clothes. ;