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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 13, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels FRIDAY July 13, 2001 24 pages in 2 sections 24 pages in 2 sectiiHerald-Zeitung I ' " ......... ; * ..... • ■ 1 "J> 111111 ajhhhi Vol. 150, No. 208 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents County bum ban takes effect today By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Citing a spate of recent grass fires, Pct. 4 Commissioner Moe Schwab has issued a burn ban to take effect at dawn today. Schwab, acting Comal County Judge while Danny Scheel attends a Beaumont conference, issued the burn ban order Thursday morning. Commissioners will vote to ratify the order on Monday. The burn matches similar actions in neighboring counties, Schwab said. Exemptions/5A The county judge has that authority,” Schwab said. “As dry as it’s getting, what I want to do is save a couple or three days. We’ll ratify it on Monday morning.” The decision to issue the order came after Comal County Fire Marshal Lin Manford reported to commissioners that Canyon Lake Fire/EMS had responded to several grass fire calls recently. This year as last year, Manford said, a relatively wet spring caused growth that has produced a considerable amount of fuel for wildfires. With the hot dry summer weather and the kind of triple-digit temperatures expected today, the fire risk is rising, Manford said. “Its getting dry out there. We’ve just been real fortunate,” Manford said. The fire marshal said he believes county residents are getting more careful about fire. Part of the rea- See BURN/5A Pantry in the park Conceit in the Park doubles as food drive By Martin Malacara Staff Writer Normally, concerts in the park benefit a select few. But Thursday’s concert in Landa Park benefited around 260 families in need. Two area musicians joined forces for the Thursday night concert to help the SOS Food Bank put a dent in hunger around the city and the rest of Comal County. Clay Blaker and Cory Morrow performed for diehard fans and passers-by alike. Blaker played songs off his new album, ‘Welcome to the Wasteland.” Blaker said the concert was his fourth one to not only benefit the food bank, but to give something back to his fans for their support. ‘They can just grab a picnic basket, enjoy themselves and not have to pay IO or 15 bucks to see us. It makes everyone feel like a part of something,” he said. Blaker got the idea from a songwriting trip to Nashville. He heard on the radio Emmylou Harris was giving a free concert for anyone bringing food to that local food bank. So Blaker stopped off at a convenience store, grabbed some beef stew cans and saw the show. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Darrell Friesenhan brings a box full of food to the SOS Food Bank volunteers Olga Huber (left) and Armida Gomez (right) at the Concert in the Park Thursday evening. He decided to try out the idea in New Braunfels. Blaker visited the food bank on Tuesday to see firsthand how it works. He said when his schedule permits, he would like to lend his hand to the volunteer effort. Blaker recently returned from a European tour and will move on to Kerrville and Halletsville to promote his new album. Food bank vice president Abel Gomez took time out from collecting food at the concert to personally thank Blaker for his generous efforts. Gomez predicted the food bank would collect more than 1,000 pounds of food during the course of the evening. “Whoever’s hungry, we feed. We don’t turn anyone K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Clay Blaker performs for the large crowd at the Landa Park Dance Slab. down,” Gomez said. Gomez, a restaurant owner in Schertz, has helped the organization for the past two years. He said it’s also his way to give something back to the community. “Sometimes we don’t focus a lot on local people in the community. God has given me a talent and a lot of people need help,” he said. The most popular donations are green beans and corn, Gomez said. Ranch style beans come in second. “Hamburger Helper is always good to bring,” he added. Gomez said he would not mind seeing next year’s event get bigger. Anyone wishing to donate food, money or time to the food bank can call 629-3663. The food bank is located at 248 Merriweather St. Order in the court — but not for too long By Ron Maloney Staff Writer New Braunfels City Council maybe could learn a thing or two about running a meeting from County Commissioner Moe Schwab and commissioners’ court. Schwab, as acting county judge while Danny Scheel and Cristina Zamora attended a conference in Beaumont, presided over a short meeting Thursday — but is was not brief enough for Schwab. Early in the week, he warned county staff and members of the media to be on time for court Thursday because it was going to be a short meeting. ‘Tm going for the record,” Schwab said. “All I care about is approving the claims so we get paid,” he joked. Of course, the agenda, while short, was a little longer than that — with eight items, plus the reports from elected officials and staff. In his IO years as a commissioner, Schwab said the short meeting record stood at nine minutes. Out of the gate, Schwab gunned for the new mark, dispensing — just for Thursday — with the opening formalities. With a 3-0 vote and a flourish of the pen, the claims were done. Acknowledging the two new employees in the sheriff’s office, including patter about how glad the county was to have them, took 45 seconds. Approving the county treasurer’s monthly investment report took a 3-0 vote and about 20 seconds. Then Schwab got in trouble, and the potential record slipped from his grasp in the agenda item, “report from elected officials and staff.” Staff members had few or no comments. Schwab leaned forward in his chair, took a deep breath and exhaled. See COURT/5A Comal County Assistant Fire Marshall Darren Brinkkoeter changes one of six signs to reflect the bum ban that goes into effect today. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald Zeitung Neighbors say race track noise too loud By Ron Maloney Staff Writer SEGUIN — Neighbors Thursday described how Todd Zampese’s River City Raceway has affected their homes and their lives. Zampese testified that he didn’t believe his dragstrip caused noise worse than what already existed in its Marion neighborhood, with air force jets regularly flying overhead and a busy interstate nearby. He also apologized to the neighbors for running races into predawn hours when he first opened the track a year and a half ago. Zampese and River City Raceway are being sued by neighbors who want the International Hot Rod Association-sanctioned 1/4-mile facility either shut down or its operation modified to reduce the noise that reaches their property. If jurors agree that the track is a nuisance, visiting 25th Judicial District Judge Don Morgan of Austin will decide what to do about it. He could order additional measures to mitigate or reduce sound, close it down or choose to do nothing. Thursday morning, River City Raceway neighbors Johnny Moreno and Anna Del Luensmann testified about noise, smoke and fuel and rubber fumes Luensmann and other neighbors claim reach their properties from the racetrack. Luensmann, Roland Luensmann, Edna Reininger, Rodney Krebs, Wilton Newman and Debbie Newman Zimmer are the plaintiffs in the suit. Luensmann said the fumes from smoke and burning rubber and the noise have become an unwelcome fact of life at her home. “The smells from 1-10 are mostly gas fumes. But the smell from the track is stronger,” Luensmann said. “When the wind isn’t blowing, the smell lingers. We can hear the cars in the staging area idling. You can hear then if the engines are going to be loud or low.” Moreno amplified the concerns neighbors have expressed. “We can’t enjoy our backyard any more,” Moreno said. “We have a hot tub and we can’t use it. We can’t have friends over. We have trouble sleeping because of the lights. Sometimes the fights are so bright I can make out the color of my wife’s gown.” In the afternoon, plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Nunley called Todd Zampese to testify about what efforts he made to learn about the neighborhood he wanted to build a racetrack in and why he put it where he did. Zampese acknowledged under sometimes pointed questioning that he hadn’t had professional sound level tests done in the area before he began building the track. He said he chose the area for its flat, level location near Interstate IO and San Antonio and because county officials and the neighbors he spoke with beforehand seemed positive and receptive. .Also, he said, the racetrack and its noise wouldn’t adversely affect the neighborhood. “The neighbors, to me, are putting up with noise, day in and day out,” he said, citing trains, freeway traffic and jet aircraft from nearby Randolph Air Force Base. “Did you know that smoke and fumes sometimes roll onto my clients’ properties when you run these events?” Nunley asked Zampese. ‘Tve heard them say so, yes sir, but I don’t believe they do,” Zampese said. Solid fences, the promoter said, either contained the smoke or forced it upward — away from area homes. During the course of his tes-timony and under cross examination from his own See NOISE/5A Change in plans could mean more water talks By Martin Malacara Staff Writer Another round of public hearings could be in order to address changes in regional water planning, the Texas Water Development Board’s liaison to the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group said Thursday. Jorge Arroyo said a change in a plan to bring water from the confluence of the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers for use in Bexar and surrounding counties might be significant enough to require a re-adoption of the regional planning group’s, or Region L’s, overall plan. . The Region L group metSee WATER/5A Inside Abby.......................... 7A Classifieds...................... ..5-1 OB Comics......................... .....10A Crossword.................. 7A Forum........................... 6A Local/Metro.................. 4A Movies........................... 7A Obituaries..................... 3A Sports.......................... ...1-3B Today........................... 2A Key Code 76 Police targeting public sexual activity By Ron Maloney Staff Writer New Braunfels police, trying to crack down on homosexual behavior in the restrooms of city parks, arrested three men this week for alleged lewd behavior. In recent weeks, New Braunfels Police Department has been conducting undercover operations in local parks trying to curb sexual pickups and acts in park restrooms. Late in May, two men were arrested on lewdness charges at Cypress Bend Park. Chief of Police Ray Douglas said the park investigations started because of complaints about the activity. “The main message to these people with this type of intent is if you’re going to engage in this type of behavior, go elsewhere or stay home,” Douglas said. “Don’t use public places in New Braunfels. You never know what may happen." Police said a 53-year-old New Braunfels man and a 30-year-old Abbeville, La., man who works in New Braunfels were arrested at noon Wednesday in Landa Park and booked for alleged public lewdness. Public lewdness is a class A misdemeanor under the Texas penal code punishableSee POLIC E/5 A ;