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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 18, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas KST AVAILABLE copyNew Braunfels THURSDAY January 18, 2001 14 pages in 2 sections ^ pages in c seemHerald-Z eitung L  ..    ~~........ Vol. 150, No. 58Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents River activities panel considers public exit fee By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer With the clock ticking on a proposal for solving and funding river-related issues, the river activities committee on Wednesday narrowed its funding options to a river exit fee and increased shuttle permit fees. The group debated for more than four-and-a-half hours Wednesday night, stumbling over issues such as what amount to charge for the exit fee, whom to charge and how to spread responsibility for collecting a fee to all the businesses who benefit from river tourist traffic. The committee devised a patchwork scenario late Wednesday that included a $1.25 exit fee that could be collected at commercial tube rental locations, convenience and grocery stores. The committee also considered but made no final decision on a separate $25 fee for residents for a season of river use. Committee members suggested the fee could make monitoring the wristband system easier. The resident fee also would show residents were willing to help take care of the rivers in their community, committee member Rodney Fischer said. “The folks on the river should show they are willing to cooperate...,” he said. “(It would) ease the perceived pain of the outfitters, and it just promotes a fairness issue.” The group is trying to find enough money to support a more than $230,00 comprehensive river management plan that includes increased law enforcement and other solutions. The committee revised an earlier plan in which only river outfitters would have charged the exit fee to include other types of businesses. Fischer said he could see convenience and grocery stores offering the wristbands as sale incentives. The committee called an emergency meeting for 6 p.m. today at city hall. 4B board to hear funding requests By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer Members of the infrastructure and improvement corp., or 4B board, will hear what residents think about spending proposals for 4B sales tax money tonight. The board meets at 7 p.m. in conference room A of the New Braunfels Municipal Building, 424 S. Castell Ave. The board will conduct public hearings today on requests for funding various projects, including: street and drainage improvements total-ing $558,580; capitol improvement and equipment costs for city vehicles, the police and fire communication system and a new fire engine; and data terminals for police vehicles. Money collected under the 4B tax — which voters combined with the formerly separate 4A economic development tax in the November election — can be spent on economic development, streets and drainage, affordable housing, job training facilities, transportation improvement and other projects. Three-eighths of one percent of New Braunfels’ sales tax money goes toward supporting 4B projects and is overseen by the city’s infrastructure and improvement corp, board of directors. City staff, who are requesting the funds based on a five-year plan, opted not to ask for all the 4B money to be used. The projected 4B funds for 2001 total about $2.5 million.GBRA By Ron Maloney Staff Writer SEGUIN — The Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority agreed in principle Wednesday to a contract that could decrease San Antonio’s dependence on the Edwards Aquifer by a third. The GBRA board of directors authorized General Manager Bill West to enter into a historic agree ment that for the first time provides San Antonio with a source of water outside the Edwards Aquifer. The water, totaling up to 70,000-acre feet or 22.8 billion gallons annually, will come from the Guadalupe River below its confluence with the San Antonio River right inside the saltwater barriers. A proposed 132-mile pipeline will carry the water to Bexar County, where it will replace water now being pumped from the Edwards Aquifer and provide the San Antonio area another supply of water for the first time. The pipeline is planned for completion by 2010. Last year, the San Antonio Water System pumped 58.8 billion gallons of water from the Edwards Aquifer. Had the pipeline been available, it would have reduced that figure by 35 percent, officials said. The water the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority will lease to San Antonio will cost $60 per acre-foot at the diversion source, which will be right inside the saltwater barrier at San Antonio Bay. A clause in the contract allows SAWS to intermittently draw more water for $35 per acre-foot, if more water is available. The water to be leased to San Antonio will come from existing rights now owned but not used by the GBRA, said GBRA Deputy General Manager Fred Blumberg. “The water that is the basis of this contract is water under existing permits that is currently not needed in the Guadalupe River Basin,” Blumberg said. “Under the agree-See GBRA/3A NBISD hears abatement request By Jennifer Rodriguez Staff Writer A Houston-based company trying to build a four-star hotel inside the shell of the old LCRA power plant is asking New Braunfels Independent School Board for a tax abatement. On Tuesday, Morgan Hill of Morgan Hill Interests showed the board slides of preliminary plans to redevelop the abandoned Lower Colorado River Authority building. The proposed hotel would keep the 1920s industrial-fa^ade, but the three buildings that made the old power plant work — the turbine, boiler and pulverizer houses — would be converted into two restaurants, guest rooms, conference rooms and a ballroom. “That’s an icon of the community,” Hill said. “A lot of the community’s history is locked into this area...How many other communities can say they have a seven-story power plant with a hotel in it?” Hill is trying to get entities with taxing authority to create a tax increment financing district, or tax abatement, for the 23-acre LCRA property.See NBISD/3A Inside Abby.......................... ......5A Classifieds.................... ...2-4B Comics........................ ......8A Crossword.................. ......5A Forum.......................... ......6A Local/Metro................. ......4A Movies.......................... ......5A Sports......................... ...1-2B Today........................... ......2A Stocks........................... 5 I I 3 to com Key Code 76 Landa Street wreck CHRIS PACE/Herald-ZeitungA young couple huddle together Wednesday after they were involved in a two-vehicle accident with a truck on Landa Street. IIM.Z3ZZZ   :............T~ ::: ~ i h By Ron Maloney Staff Writer CANYON LAKE — Its kind of a Cinderella story. Imagine being a couple of average kids in an average town somewhere in America who send letters and exchange Christmas cards with a very busy celebrity. Imagine them becoming sort of pen pals with a guy one would think would be too busy to write back, much less remember who they are. They exchange photos. The photos from the kids, Crissy, 12, and Robert Hensley Jr., 15, of Startzville, offer their pen pal warm holiday regards. Their mother, Diana Hensley, sends the man a holiday prayer. George W. Bush sends back thanks for the prayer, letters and a photo autographed with his best wishes to Crissy and Robert. And then, Tuesday, the Hensley family got the shock of their lives: invitations to the inauguration for the next president of the United States. Imagine having tickets for the inauguration on Saturday but no way to get there. The Hensleys are holders of the hottest tickets in the country this week but can’t afford to go. While Diana Hensley said she was disappointed they could not attend, she still was very excited to have been invited. i    rn/ ti    ffi*ttf ir* f* s'J- Att “(Tuesday), I was so excited I even called the school. I thought this was pretty neat. It made us feel so special,” she said. The relationship between the Hensleys and the president-elect began with an inquiry Diana Hensley sent to the then-governor and presidential hopeful in October. “Then Robert Jr. wrote the governor, telling him he had a picture of his father,” Diana said. Robert Jr. had a picture of the first Bush to be president, George Herbert Walker Bush, the president-elect’s father. He asked if he could have one of George W. Bush to go with it. Bush sent one, autographing it to Robert and Crissy. In December, the Hensleys were surprised with a signed Christmas card that included a photo of the Bush family. Crissy sent the president-elect a Christmas card. Diana Hensley said, “My son wrote him and said he’d love to see him — that was his wish for Christmas.” Robert Jr. said he was very surprised to get the invitation. “The invitation was unexpected,’ Robert Jr. said. “I wanted to go.” Sometimes wishes come true, but sometimes they can’t. “When they got the invitation, they went wild,” Diana said. ‘They were, ‘Mum, how are we going to go?’ I said, ‘Well, we aren’t going.’ They were kind of hurt. My son wanted to wear his ROTC uniform. I told my son, we would have if we could have gotten the money.” Robert Sr. works as a clerk at the Everyday convenience store in Startzville. “We just don’t have the money,” Diana Hensley said. Not every Cinderella story can have a happy ending. But the Hensleys don’t care. “I felt honored to get an invitation,” Diana said. Inaugural invitation Comal family receives coveted greetings from president-elect CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Above, Robert and Crissy Hensley, 15 and 12, of Startzville, display an invitation they received to the inauguration and an autographed picture of President-elect George W. Bush. Below, this is what an invitation to the inauguration looks like. ;