New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 15, 2004, New Braunfels, Texas
THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2004
SPORTS NATIONAL CHAMP
2000 New Braunfels graduate Christina Moore went on to help Trinity Tigers earn NCAA national title. Page 5
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FORUM CAL THOMAS
Pete Rose's new false repentance doesn't get him off the hook. It dishonors him and the sport of baseball. Page 4
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852.
Vol. 153, No. 54 10 pages, 1 section
DEAR ABBY 8 CLASSIFIEDS 9-10
70% chance for rain
Local man charged in connection with killing
By Ron Maloney
SPRING BRANCH — A 35-year-old Spring Branch man was arrested Tuesday night in connection with a May 2002 killing in Bexar County.
Robert W. Fischer was arrested about 10:30 p.m. in a felony traffic stop.
Comal County Sheriff’s Detective Wayne Lehman said deputies Creg Van de Loo, Vance Wehner and Mike Coons made the arrest.
Fischer was booked into Comal County Jail on a first-degree felony murder charge in connection with the May 27, 2002, shooting of Edith Camp.
Fischer’s bail is $100,(XX). I Ie is awaiting transport back to Bexar County.
Camp, 69, owned a number of San Antonio-area pawn shops. She was found dead in her I UU Country Village home of a single gunshot wound to the head.
Hill Country Village Chief of Police Frank Morales said Tuesday night’s arrest came after the Bexar County Grand Jury indicted Fischer earlier that day.
“I can’t go into specifics about the case,’ Morales said. “Our detectives here and the Texas Rangers put an arrest plan into action with an investigator in Comal County. They waited for him all day, and Comal County deputies arrested him as he left his home Tuesday night."
The Camp killing, Morales said, was the first in 20 years in his community, which is located at the junction of Loop 1604 and U.S. 281.
Seguin native tapped to fill NB park post
By Scott Mahon
The recreation manager for the City of Arlington has been named the director of New Braunfels’ parks and recreation department.
City Manager (Ti lick Pinto announced Wednesday that Stacey Laird, 36, accepted the position Tuesday. Shi* will begin work I eh. 17.
The position has been vacant since October 2003 when Iris Neffendorff was terminated.
Pinto said filii ii was one of a number of candidates provided by Ralph Andersen and Associates, a head hunting firm iii Dallas.
"They initially gave us a fairly long list of candidates, but over the past months, we narrowed it down to about seven applicants,” Pinto said. “We interviewed five of the applicants over the last three weeks, including Ms. liiird.”
Pinto said lairds salary will be $72,tXX). “We were paying the previous manager in the $50,000 range, but we want someone who can bring a broad range of experience to the position," he said.
liiird, who will resign her current position Feb. 13, is a 1985 graduate of Seguin High School.
See PARK. Page 3A
Scooter Store lays off 250
A group of Scooter Store employees walks through the parking lot from the main building to an adjacent one early Wednesday afternoon.
CEO blames layoffs on poor 2003 sales
By Ron Maloney
Comal County’s largest private employer Wednesday announced the layoff of 250 workers — 180 of them in New Braunfels.
Scooter Store President and CEO Doug I larrison Wednesday blamed the layoffs on unmet sales projections during the last half of 2003 and a new Medicare policy that tightens eligibility for motorized scooters or power wheelchairs.
The reductions would still leave more than I .(XX) employees in New Braunfels, and just more than 1,300 nationwide. Those figures do not include part-time or contract employees.
Hie layoffs come one week alter “Fortune" magazine listed the Scooter Store as one of its IOO best places to work iii 2004.
The layoffs, Harrison said, mostly affect sales staff and
workers who go out for in-home evaluations and assistance. A few were in related support jobs, I larrison said.
“It’s a horrible, horrible thing to have to lay people off," he said. "This is a bad day for us."
In late 2002 and 2003, the Scooter Store added 500 jobs in anticipated continued growth.
I he Scooter Store began as a small operation in New Braunfels in 1991 and has since become the nation’s largest seller of scooters and power wheelchairs.
“We over-expanded. We had planned on and geared up for some pretty substantial growth that just didn’t happen. We’re still keeping about half of tile new jobs we created last year, but we added more than we can actually keep based on what our current volume is," I larrison said. “That still leaves
See LAYOFFS. Page 3A
BIG JOB HITS
Mission Valley Mills 350
Mission Valley Mills. 150 New Braunfels Smoker 110
Mission Valley Mills 45 Dynacast 100
■ Comal Independent School
■ Wal-Mart Distribution
■ Scooter Store 1,020
A New Braunfels Independent School District; 850
A McKenna Health
Officials mum on FBI investigation
SAN ANTONIO — The FBI offered nothing new in its two-year investigation of the Scooter Store — although an official did say Wednesday no arrests were anticipated.
Special Agent Rene Salinas said he could not comment on the investigation. He has never said what the FBI was investigating at the Scooter Store.
“The only thing I can comment on is it’s an ongoing investigation,'’ Salinas said. “No arrests are anticipated at this time.’’
Wednesday, Scooter Store President and CEO Doug Harrison said his office had heard nothing from the FBI.
“Our attorneys assure us that no news is good
news,” Harrison said.
Since Harrison broke news in October that his company was under investigation, offers to open Scooter Store books to the FBI have not been acted upon, and the agency has not interviewed Harrison.
The investigation of the Scooter Store comes during an industrywide crackdown by the federal Department of Health and Human Services on power wheelchair and mobility scooter providers.
Between 1999 and 2003, Medicare and Medicaid spending on power wheelchairs has grown 450 percent, while the number of clients enrolled increased by I percent.
System keeps crime victims updated on cases
By Ron Maloney
Comal County commissioners will get their first look today at an automated system designed to keep victims of crimes updated on the status of their attacker.
Precinct I Commissioner Jack Dawson said Sheriff’s Cpl. and Crime Prevention Officer Tim Kolbe will make a presentation on Texas VINE, or Victim Information Notification Everyday program.
The program is paid for
through the state i crime victims com- I pulsation fund and : will cost the county I no money, Dawson I said. It sets up an I electronic link I between crime victims and perpetrators so that when court dates are pending
— or a convicted criminal is about to tx,* released from prison
— the victim is notified.
"I think this could be a great thing for our county,” Dawson said. "First, it s good for victims. But it also frees up our criminal
justice officers from time spent researching public requests for information.’’ Dawson said 90 counties statewide now use the system. “We didnt jump on the bandwagon to be first like we usually are,” Dawson said. “It’s been out there for a while, and it works."
Kolbe said the system could be a big help when it comes to public information requests.
See CASIS. Page 3A
AT A GLANCE
■ Commissioners Court
■ 8 15 a rn Thursday
■ Courtroom, 199 Main Plaza
Children learn why Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream was so important.