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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 15, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY July 15, 2003 12 pages in 2 sections ■HMM mmmmmm    12    pages    in    2    SCCtUHERALD-Z ETTLING [z::z:zr;zzzi::i Vol. 152, No. 208Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 centsBoy killed in suspected DWI accident By Ron Maloney Staff Writer SPRING BRANCH — Matthew Cobble, a 7-year-old Fort Worth boy, died in an accident on U.S. 281 Monday evening when an allegedly drunken driver struck his family’s vehicle. Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Jennifer Saunders pronounced the boy dead at 7:45 p.m. at the scene of the accident, about one mile south of Rebecca Creek Road. “The saddest thing about this is his parents did everything right,” Saunders said. “They had him belted into a booster seat.” The boy’s parents, Greg and Amy Cobble, and his 2-year-old sister, Gretchen, were flown to University Hospital in San Antonio. A hospital official said all were in stable condition at 9 p.m. Monday. The other driver, Joseph Mitchell Conrad, 49, of Spring Branch, was arrested at the scene by DPS Trooper Rusty Nesbitt and taken to McKenna Memorial Hospital for a blood test. Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Joel Machost said Conrad would be booked on one allegation of intoxicated manslaughter, three counts of intoxicated assault and for allegedly driving while intoxicated. Conrad will appear today before Comal County Magistrate Ellen Salyers, who will set bail. “The subject here was taken to the hospital for a blood specimen, which is DPS policy in a fatal accident. The Field Sobriety Test and breath tests revealed he was over the legal limit,” Machost said. The accident occurred at 6:15 p.m. when Conrad was driving northbound on U.S. 281, Machost said. ‘The driver of the Nissan drove northbound across the yellow center stripe into the southbound lane,” Machost said. Greg Cobble, a 38-year-old Fort Worth man, locked up his brakes and skidded for more than IOO feet trying to avoid the collision, Machost said. “He did everything he could to avoid the accident,” Machost said. “The truck hit the driver’s side of the minivan. It was pushed into the ditch and then struck an oak tree on the sliding door on the passenger’s side.” The vehicle struck the tree directly beside the rear seat where the boy was strapped into a child restraint seat, Machost said — leaving a two-feet-deep indentation in the vehicle. The van spun around the tree, stripping the bark from it and came to rest facing northbound. Traffic on U.S. 281 was backed up for miles in both directions for more than an hour while rescue workers extricated the injured occupants and evacuated them to San Antonio in two helicopters. Ratliff joins Senate effort to block redistricting bill By Nataue Gott Associated Press Writer AUSTIN — Republican Sen. Bill Ratliff said Monday he would join IO Democratic senators in opposing redrawing the state’s congressional districts, opening the possibility the bill could be doomed. Ratliff, former acting lieutenant governor, said he told Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst of a statement signed by IO other senators stating their “unalterable opposition” to any motion to bring up redistricting for debate. “I have advised the lieutenant governor that I am adding my name to that statement," Ratliff said outside the Senate chamber. Under Senate rules, two-thirds — or 21 senators — must agree to bring a bill up for debate before it can be considered on the Senate floor. It takes ll senators to block a bill from debate in the 31-member chamber. A few minutes before Ratliff spoke, Dewhurst said it was possible he would con* SPECIAL On the Web Texas Legislative Council: sider changing that rule. Ratliff warned against such a move and said he didn’t think a majority of senators would support it either. “I sincerely hope that he doesn’t make that mistake,” Ratliff said. “It would be a serious mistake, maybe the most serious mistake he could make.” Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, and the Texas Republican Party indicated the two-thirds rule is not as firm as some say it is, pointing to a 1992 special legislative session when the rule was not even used. However, this time, the two-thirds rule already is in place. With existing congressional boundaries, Democrats hold a 17-15 edge in the congressional delegation. Republicans, led by U.S. House Majority Leader Tbm DeLay, R-Sugar Lind, say they want a majority in the delegation and cite GOP-leaning voting See REDISTRICTING/6A Council to TxDOT: Proceed with Gruene Bridge improvements By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer Frustrated over discussing an issue they thought was settled six years ago, New Braunfels City Council urged the 'Ifexas Department of Transportation to move forward with Gruene Bridge renovations. “For the sixth time — ay,” District 2 New Braunfels Councilman Larry Alexander said Monday night. 'Fhe resolution passed 6-0, with District 6 Councilman Ken Valentine abstaining. In 1997, the state ranked the bridge as a priority reconstruction project, said Greg Malatek, TxDOT area engineer. The state offered the city 90 percent of $1 million needed to complete the project. Malatek said the city would have to reimburse TxDOT $60,000 in engineering costs. The bridge would be replaced with a higher, wider structure that would address pedestrian, traffic and flooding issues. Mayor Adam Cork placed the item on the agenda after What’s Up In other action, New Braunfels City Council ■ approved the first reading of an ordinance that would raise park use fees: ■ permitted the cay manager lo enter into an agreement for acceptance and use of about $150,000 in state homeland security grant money; ■ approved a bid tor a pumper truck for the New Braunfels Fire Department; and ■ permitted the city manager to begin negotiations with Waste Management for privatization of the city’s sanitation department historic preservationists asked the city’s historic landmark commission two weeks ago to back an effort to halt the project. “I don’t want anyone to be under the delusion that this body supports anything else over safety,” Cork said. David Hartman, New Braunfels Conservation Society president, asked council to See BRIDGE/6A Claudette hurries ashore KEVIN BARTRAM/Galveston Daily News A spectator watches as waves crash over the rocks at 29th Street and Seawall Boulevard in Galveston Monday. Tropical storm expected to cause wet, windy weather locally By Ron Maloney Staff Writer If you get groceries Wednesday, they could be soggy by the time you get them home. National Weather Service and local officials say the Comal County area can expect some fallout from ’Tropical Storm Claudette in the form of rain and blustery winds late tonight and Wednesday. National Weather Service Meteorologist Dave Swallow said Claudette is expected to reach land in the Corpus Christi area late tonight or early Wednesday. The Associated Press reported Mon day that oil companies had secured operations and evacuated workers from offshore rigs in preparation for Claudette’s arrival. NWS reported Claudette, about 250 miles from Corpus Christi, continued to move north-northwest at 7 mph. The storm, with 65-mph winds, could become a hurricane by today. A hurricane warning was issued Monday for more than 200 miles of the Texas coastline. Comal County Emergency Management Coordinator Carol Edgett said the storm should present few problems locally. “We’re in good shape. I don’t fore see any problems, but well be monitoring it,” Edgett said. “Just stay out of those low-water crossings, lf you’re driving, do what the weather service says, and Turn around, don’t drown.”’ Swallow said Claudette’s track, if it continues as predicted, would take* the core of the storm through Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, and on toward northern sections of the Rio Grande River. “As far as we are concerned up here in Comal County, we can probably expect breezy conditions to develop Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night, along with scattered showers and a See CLAUDETTE/3A Inside Bulverde seeks chief for police department Dear Abby.............5A Classifieds..............4-6B Comics...............2B Crossword.............2B Forum................4A Obituaries.............3A I Sports...............1,4B Today.................2A TV  .............3B ■56825 00001 By Ron Maloney Staff Writer BULVERDE — The City of Bulverde has moved toward creating its own police department by initiating the search for a police chief. City Administrator L D. Lopez said the city has placed an advertisement with 'Ibxas Municipal League and had received 30 applications for the position Monday afternoon. They’re high-quality individuals,” Lopez said (rfthe applicants. “Its been very heartening.” The Bulverde City Council has not yet decided on a salary for the position, Lopez said. Currently, Comal County Sheriff Bob Holder enforces the law in Bulverde under an interlocal agreement between the city and the county that goes back to 2000, when Bulverde hired its First deputy. Three sheriff’s deputies now work in the city, enforcing state law and city ordinances, Lopez said, at a cost to Bulverde of about $62,000 each per year, including benefits and expenses. With the understanding that Bulverde would hire an additional deputy in 2003 and 2004 and would have a police force by 2005, the interlocal agreement in 2002 was extended to January 2005. “It has been the plan as long as we’re contracting with them to increase our manpower to an acceptable level to provide sufficient law enforcement,” Holder said Monday. “The idea was that while we were doing that, Bulverde would start taking steps to form their own police department.” See BULVERDE/3A ;