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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 17, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels FRIDAY January 17, 2003 16 pages in 2 sections ,    MHM    16    pages    in    2    secti<Herald-Zeitung ■Baa—u I  _____" Vol. 152, No. 56Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Dynacast to cast off NB plant By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Dynacast Inc., a manufacturer of die cast aluminum machine parts, has informed its IOO New Braunfels employees that the plant will close in March. The City of New Braunfels was told of the pending closure Wednesday under the provisions of the state and federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification acts. Company pays off city tax abatement Dynacast is a nationwide manufacturer and its New Braunfels operations will be consolidated in other plants out of state. News of the closure comes two days after Kmart announced the closure of its New Braunfels store as part of a slimming effort that will enable it to shed 326 stores and 37,000 employees. It is within one year of plant closures that cost more than 1,300 local jobs. Dynacast spokeswoman Dawn Despault confirmed the pending closing Thursday, but said she could not comment past what was stated in a half-page press release the company issued in response to an inquiry by the Herald-Zeitung. “The slow United States economy has had a very unfavorable effect on operations over See DYNACAST77A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung The Dynacast plant at 2311 Industrial Drive will close in March, consolidating operations with out-of-state plants. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Christmas can come in January. Ask Chet Lewis, chief financial officer for the City of New Braunfels, who announced Thursday he had just received a check from Flextronics for $182,533.52 in refunded city tax abatements. In December 2002, Comal County collected a similar amount from the firm that pulled out of New Braunfels this past summer — taking hundreds of high-paying manufacturing jobs with it. Lewis said City Attorney Charles Zech contacted Flextronics to recover money for tax breaks extended to the company, which makes cases for Dell computers. “Flextronics defaulted in its tax agreement, and the City of New Braunfels sent them a demand for payment,” Lewis said. The money will go into the city’s general fund, he said. Businesses that bring jobs or create value that results in hefty tax revenues are often offered temporary tax breaks in exchange. The thinking of local officials is that if they land a major manufacturer who then builds a million-dollar plant, it is often going on property that previously generated little or no tax revenue — perhaps carrying an agricultural exemption. Wal-Mart Distribution received a tax abatement, and county commissioners approved a small one in December for Whirlpool Corp. to build a warehouse distribution center off Interstate 35. Under terms of the agreements, a company that gets a See ABATEMENTS Police following leads in Surety Bank robbery By Ron Maloney Staff Writer New Braunfels police detectives are investigating Friday’s Surety Batik robbery, but have no news to report one week later. bet. Bob Parchman, who is heading up the investigation into the midmorning robbery of the bank, located at Walnut Avenue and Interstate 35, reviewed bank security tapes Tuesday. He said the NBPD’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were pursuing leads, but offered no details. At 10:30 a.m. Friday, a man walked into the Surety Bank, brandished a large-caliber handgun and demanded money. Parchman would not say how much cash was taken. No one was harmed in the robbery — which was the second at the same bank in less than two months. The suspect left the bank in a silver-colored vehicle, which was found abandoned — with the engine running — in the nearby H-E-B parking lot. He was last seen on Walnut Avenue, driving toward Interstate 35.See ROBBERY/7A Inside Abby,.. ..................5A Classifieds.......... .................5-8B Comics............ ..................4B Crossword....... ..................5A Forum ................6A Movies............. ..................5A Obituaries........ ..................3A Sports ...............1-3B Stocks ..................5A Today. ..................2A • Key Co de 76 8 30001 t County to start repair without inmate help By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Comal County commissioners said Thursday they could wait no longer for help from a state prison work crew in the repair of South Access Road. County Engineer Tom Hornseth said Thursday he is prepared to puff aU road department crews off their other work around the county and concentrate on getting Dam Access Road open. “The TDCJ have had some funding and legal issues that came up, and at this point they can’t help us,” Hornseth said. “At this point, we’re proceeding without the help we’ve been banking on.” TDCJ prison work crews cleared debris from Hidden VaUey Sports Park and have been working for weeks in New Braunfels rebuilding Cypress Bend Park. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jan Kennady said she has been hearing concern from constituents about the slow Dace of t he project. “I’ve received more calls about this than anything else,” she said. Precinct I Commissioner Jack Dawson has expressed anger that the project isn’t completed already. This past Friday, both commissioners had a conference call with Bob Koenig, the TDCJ official who oversees the work program, Dawson said. “The good news is they’ll start work on the Dry Comal Creek project on the 20th,” Dawson said. While Koenig is down here, he will meet with county officials and go to South Access Road to reassess the project, Dawson said. But that assessment will take a week to complete and then perhaps it will take two more weeks to work up a contract, Dawson said. “lf you do the math on this, we’re talking about March,” Dawson said. “We just can’t wait any longer ” Dawson said it no longer makes sense to simply waitSee REPAIR/3A Building a new LEGACY Sophienburg Archives to move K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung In a room already filled with boxes as the Sophienburg Archives prepares to relocate, Patricia Dodd researches the incoming materials of the late Oscar Haas. “Anytime someone needed to know something about New Braunfels, they went to Oscar Haas," Dodd says. I don’t think the man ever threw a scrap of paper away ” (Below) An artist’s rendering of the new Sophienburg at the old Dittlinger building. By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer The Sophienburg’s legacy is planning for its future. To do that, the history-minded nonprofit foundation — created in 1927 and dedicated in 1932 to preserve and promote the history of New Braunfels — is embarking on building a cultural and educational complex at the old Dittlinger building. Why? Since 1992, the archives, which include taped oral histories, about five million photographs, plus documents and letters, “have grown tenfold," said museum board President Michael Spain. So in 2000, the Sophienburg’s board implemented a strategic study plan which determined more space was needed and it would be best to house the exhibits and the archives at one locat ion. Then in the summer of 2000, the City of New Braunfels built a new library and gave the old library, the Dittlinger Building, to the Sophienburg with the understanding that foundation would maintain city records and broaden its historic scope. So the Sophienburg board came up with a plan. The plan is to remodel Prime office space up for grabs with archives moving/3A the Dittlinger building to accommodate the museum and archives; to renovate the Emma Faust building; to enable the current museum to operate as a community education center; to develop “kid-fnend-If interactive state-of-the-art exhibits; and to provide space for both permanent and special exhibits. One of the biggest charges is expanding the scope of the museum’s his-toncal emphasis to include not just German-Ameri-can history, but also Hispanic and Native American history. “We’re still trying to figure out how to do this," Spain admitted Thursday. “We want to broaden our cultural presentation. But we’re not there yet.' There are three phases to the Dittlinger construction, Spain said. Phase one, which started in late November, is done. That construction gutted the Dittlinger building, removed the heat mg, ventilation and air conditioning ductwork and units, removed 1960s-style fluorescent lights and ceiling tiles; and knocked down a See LEGACY/3A ;