New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 14, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas
BEST available copyNew Braunfels
SATURDAY July 14, 2001
14 pages in 2 sections
pages in c seemHerald-Zeitung
Vol. 150, No. 209
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852
Officials rally to back petition
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Residents and local public officials sign a petition supporting an amendment to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, which would allow the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority to take more water out of Canyon Lake.
By Martin Malacara
Public officials gathered in Bulverde to say water is more important to people than non-native trout.
The officials wore blue ribbons at a rally Friday to show support for the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority’s permit request to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to draw more water out of Canyon Lake.
The request has been the center of controversy for some Canyon Lake residents, the Comal Independent School District and a group of trout fisherman from Travis County.
The rally, hosted by OBRA, intended to show the public how badly water from the lake is needed to quench the thirst of an ever-growing Hill Country populace.
The Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, an organization which advocates stock
ing the Guadalupe River with rainbow trout, has been granted a contested case hearing from the TNRCC to determine the impact GBRA’s request will have on their efforts.
GBRA has asked the TNRCC to increase the amount of water it currently takes from the lake from 50,000 acre-feet annually to 90,000 acre-feet. The water purveyor wants to build a pipeline to send water from the lake to communities in western
Comal, Kendall and Blanco counties.
An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, enough to supply a family of five with water for a year.
Bulverde Mayor Bob Barton thanked the small crowed gathered inside the Bulverde Senior Center for showing concern for his city’s water woes.
“This pipeline is desperately needed,” Barton said.See RALLY/3A
Local company bringing ideas from science fiction to life
By Martin Malacara
“I think, therefore I am.”
Rene Descarte postulated this statement to sum up the complexities of human thought and existence.
During that time, humans could only dream of creating something that could mirror human intelligence and ponder its own self-worth.
Only in the realms of science fiction can one find such machines, created from wires and circuits, endowed by their creators with self-awareness.
But in the real world, most people will settle for machines that can choose lottery numbers, assemble other machines or provide faster Internet access.
Klaus Weiswurm, president of Instruments Technology Machinery, understands this fact.
Weiswurm’s company, located in Schertz, uses robotic technology to make other machines that could qualify as having “artificial intelligence.”
“Yes, they make decisions — is the part in correctly, is the right part in correctly. If its not — retry, ii' it fails — you can’t continue,” Weiswurm said.
“That’s when the red light comes on and a person comes out to replace something,” he added.
Weiswurm said certain computer programs could also be considered artificial intelligence (A.I.).
One program that engineers at the company use to design machinery, called a solid works program, can qualify under the category.
‘It can be A.I. if the computer is good enough and the program is good
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Klaus Weiswurm, president of Instruments Technology Machinery, located in Schertz, uses robotic technology to make other machines that could qualify as having “artificial intelligence.”
enough,” he said.
But the program cannot run itself and still needs a human brain operating the computer keyboard.
Artificial intelligence is a term coined in the 1950s by a group of scientists to describe their research into computer programming.
It is also the title to Steven Spielberg’s latest foray into cinematic fantasy.
'Die movie is about the first robot, or android, programmed to love. Spielberg collaborated on the film with the late Stanley Kubrick, who had been working on the screenplay for more than 20 years.
The film explores the definition of reality, the potential problems with a society dependent on technology and what it really means to be human.
‘ At Weiswurm’s company, engineers focus more on potential problems that arise when their machines leave the workshop and get put to work at someone elses company.
“We have to outguess Mur-
“You cannot make a machine to do what a human hand does. The human tactile ability is so good, its difficult to get that feedback from it. ”
— Klaus Weiswurm
phy (of Murphy’s Law) — overcome anything he can throw at you,” he said.
Weiswurm views robots and other machinery from a practical point of view.
He said machines are more capable of performing repetitive tasks more consistently and actually give their human operators more time to perform many other jobs.
Weiswurm conceded, however, there are some jobs a human is more suited for.
“You cannot make a machine to do what a human hand does. The human tactile ability is so good, its difficult to get that feedback from it,” he said.
Weiswurm also admitted NASA has made strides into
bridging the gap between robotic technology and human motion, but added the relationship is more a collaborative effort than individual machine or human achievement.
“Humans provide the motion, machines provide the strength,” he said.
Weiswurm said he believes machines are a long way off from totally replacing humans.
“I don’t see the day. Everything from airplanes to zippers is designed by engineers. I don’t think machines can design and control themselves. Machines just take the manual process away,” he said.
Weiswurm added humans will always have an edge over any mechanized counterpart because “there are no elastic limits on the brain.”
But, he added, people should not get too wrapped up in machinery.
“Automation is good and right if you don’t over complicate it just to over complicate it,” he said.
NBU budget keeps pace with changes
By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer
Keeping up with changing times is the main focus of New Braunfels Utilities’ 2002 budget, financial officer Cheryl Casteel told three members of the NBU Board of lYustees Thursday.
Changing legislation affects all three of the utility’s departments — water, sewer and electricity, she said.
Overall, the operating plan
for 2002 shows increases in water rates, but the electric rates might decrease — because of lower rates from the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Electric Department Senate Bill 7 allows competition for the first time in Texas. NBU, as a municipally owned utility, can decide when to offer electric choice, under Senate Bill 7.
Although NBU will not offer electric choice, officials
say they plan to continue to improve the utility’s position, “with increasing reliability, competitive rates and superior customer service.”
“As Texas moves more toward deregulation and competition, our plan is to continue offering outstanding service,” Casteel said. “Electric rates are dropping, and NBU will do a cost-of-service study to see where toSee BUDGET/3A
Key Code 76
Toddler drowns in swimming pool
CANYON LAKE — A 2-year-old Canyon Lake girl drowned in an accident in her family’s swimming pool Thursday evening.
Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Capt. Mark Montgomery said firefighter/paramedics were called to a home off Dam Access Road a little after 6 p.m. Thursday to help the girl.
They arrived to find she
had fallen into an aboveground pool.
Montgomery said he did not know how long the child had been in the pool. Her father tried cardio-pul-monary resuscitation, and paramedics tried all available lifesaving measures.
The girl was flown to University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival, Montgomery said.
Track owner offered to help neighbors
By Ron Maloney
SEGUIN — River City Raceway general manager Todd Zampese Friday said drag racing and his race track are “his rife” and “mean the world” to him.
He also described a much different picture of the facility and its impact on the neighborhood than that shared by the neighbors who are suing him, seeking to close the track down in testimony Friday.
Zampese and River City Raceway are being sued by neighbors who want the 1/4-mile facility either shut down or its operation modified to reduce the noise.
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 and Friday, Zampese described measures he offered to take to help the neighbors, such as installing storm windows to reduce sound transmission and installing fences.
He said he was rebuffed by neighbors who wouldn’t be happy unless his facility was closed down.
But there were plenty of other measures he had promised to take when designing the track that he hadn’t, plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Nunley charged.
Those included earthen berms to reduce or deflect sound.
“We changed the basic plan because we thought it would be better for sound attenuation,” Zampese said.
SO: Computer glitch blamed for jail list error
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
A Comal County Sheriff’s Office official Friday blamed a computer glitch for a 53-year-old local businessman’s name not appearing on a public list of persons booked into the jail.
Sharon Jerome, head records clerk for the Comal County Sheriff’s Office, spent much of Friday afternoon trying to determine why the man’s name was not released to the public with those of nine other people arrested Wednesday.
Late Friday, she said the software vendor, TSO of Plano, discovered a previously unknown software problem that deleted the man’s information from the “public view” list — even though he had been correctly booked into the jail.
“TSG said it was an
unavoidable and undetectable computer glitch,” Jerome said. “It’s unusual. This is the first time its come to our attention.”
When New Braunfels police arrested the 53-year-old local businessman on a public lewdness allegation Wednesday, they brought him into Comal County Jail along with another man and issued a news release, as has been done in similar arrests.
Both men — the other is a 30-year-old Louisiana man who works, in New Braunfels — spent a few hours at the facility. Later in the day, a local bail bonding company secured their release for $1,000 each.
Both men and another charged with indecent exposure on Wednesday appeared on the sheriff’s office’s internal arrest and release listsSee GLITCH/3A