New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 21, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol, 148, No, 174 20 pages in 2 sections July 21, 1999
Serving Comal County since 1852
50 centsConstable: Officials violated civil rightsGomez questions actions in hit-and-run investigation
By Chris Crews Staff Writer
Constable Joe Gomez has accused the New Braunfels Police Department, the Comal County Sheriff’s Office and the Criminal District Attorney’s office of violating his civil rights.
Gomez said Tuesday he asked for a US. Department of Justice investigation into those agencies’ action during the investigation of a June hit-and-run accident in New Braunfels.
Investigators said Gomez’ claims had no merit and denied any wrongdoing.
Gomez’ 38-year-old brother, Jesus “Jesse” Gomez, was arrested on July I and charged with failure to stop and render aid after he allegedly struck and killed Ray
Biggadike, 78. Biggadike was crossing Business 35 on his electric scooter about IO p.m. on June 28.
The car officers believed was used in the hit-and-run was found in the garage of Gomez’ relatives in the 1600 block of Bridge Street.
Jesus Gomez was released from the county jail on July 2 after posting bond.
Joe Gomez was questioned by officers from the police and the sheriff’s office
before the search warrant was issued for the garage. According to the arrest warrant, information provided by Joe Gomez confirmed the whereabouts of the car and that his brother had possibly been involved.
Gomez said he sent a three-page report to the office of U.S. Rep. Cire Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, asking for a federal investigation.
“I allege that they conspired to violate my civil rights. When (the officers) came into
my office and interrogated me, I did not know that they were going to try to implicate me in hiding evidence of my brother’s alleged crime,” Gomez said.
Gomez said if he was a suspect in a crime he should have been informed of his rights at that time.
New’ Braunfels Police Chief Ray Douglas said the call for an investigation was with-See CONSTABLES
Remembering the forgotten
Indigent burials give everyone a final resting place
By Erin Magruder
For an indigent who has lived a life without family, friends or money, things do not get much better with death.
Comal County, as required by state law, pays to bury any resident who dies without the means to pay for a funeral.
But county policy demands austerity. Friends and relatives of the deceased are barred from attending the burial.
County Judge Danny Scheel said the policy was not meant to be callous, but existed to keep people who might not be indigent from obtaining free funerals.
Scheel must first approve every indigent burial allowed by the county.
“The indigent burial policy is set up for people who do not have family,” Scheel said.
The county’s rule barring family and friends from the burial means that “pauper funerals” usually are attended by only one or two funeral directors, a gravedigger and sometimes County Engineer Tom Hornseth, who keeps records of the burials and surveys the cemetery.
Hornseth, who has attended six indigent funerals, said they always were strange and sobering experiences.
“A couple of years ago, I attended the burial of this loner-type guy who lived in a van down by the railroad tracks,” Hornseth said. “He was either hit by the train or died on the railroad tracks, and nobody knew who he was. It was just me and a few other guys at the funeral.
“One of us read something from the Bible. It was all very odd.”
While the policy keeps friends and family away from the actual burial,
Scheel said they can pay their respects afterward.
“Sometimes we run into a family that really does not have the resources to pay for a funeral,” Scheel said. “In that case, we are more than happy for the family to hold a memorial service after the burial is done.”
Barring friends and relatives from the burial also is a matter of time and money, said Greg Butrico, assistant manager of Zoeller Funeral Home, 615 Landa St.
Indigent graves, tucked into a comer of the Bracken Cemetery, are identified with a temporary aluminum marker. Comal County had paid for 21 indigent burials in the past 10 years.
A truck passes the New Braunfels Police Department’s portable radar sign this past week. The sign is used to make drivers aware of their speed.
Radar sign keeps watch over drivers
Portable device reminds motorists to follow speed limit
By Chris Crews
New Braunfels Police have a new v isual reminder to help drivers keep their speed under posted limits.
A portable radar sign has been placed around the city the past few weeks, digitally displaying dnvers’ speed. Just above the reading is the a sign displaying the posted speed limit for that area.
Police Chief Ray Douglas said the sign was part of the department’s effort to make the public more aware of driving habits and speed.
“We had rather not give speeding tickets, but we do want compliance,” Douglas said.
Lt. Doug Dunlap said the sign would be placed on streets with a high volume and traffic as well as in neighborhoods. Dunlap said the sign was meant as a subtle reminder to drivers and patrol off icers usually did not monitor the sign.
“But if you see the sign on your street, you're probably going to see someone there with radar sometime soon,’ Dunlap said.
Beginning this week, police will provide a list of locations where radar w ill be enforced during the next seven days.
The list will be run next to the road construction map on page 2 of the Herald-Zeitung.
Dunlap said radar would not be limited to the locations released to the media.
“We had rather not give speeding tickets, hut we do w’ant compliance."
New Braunfels Police Chief Ray Douglas
NBISD trustees approve I -cent tax rate reduction
By Heather Todd Staff Writer
New Braunfels Independent School District patrons will get a I-cent tax rate cut this year, but administrators will have to come up with $1.2 million in savings to balance the budget.
Trustees unanimously approved a $1.64 tax rate for the 1999-2000 school year Tuesday — I cent lower titan districts current tax rate of $ 1.65 per $ IOO valuation.
The 1998 tax rate for the 1999-2000 budget year is a 7-cent drop from the $ 1.71 rate proposed on July 12 by administrators.
On that day, trustees adopted a $38.5 million budget for the 1999-2000 school year and the administration proposed a 6-cent increase on the tax rate to balance the budget.
Since NBISD operates under a different tax schedule, school off icials said they thought recent legislative changes would not affect the district until next year.
NBISD trustees set the 1998 tax rate, rather than the 1999 rate, for the upcoming school year. Other school districts are setting the 1999 tax rate.
Thanks to a clarification by the Texas Education Agency, the district was required to apply a tax relief provision this year by
directing $1.2 million previously budgeted into the district’s general fund into the debt service fund.
The I-cent tax rate cut means the average patron, with a home valued at $83,774, would pay $1,127 in school taxes next year — $46 more than last year’s bill.
Homeowners get a $ 15,000 exemption on their primary residence. This year, the average home was valued at $80,573, with a tax bill of $1,081 with the $1.65 rate But the $1.64 rate also means the average homeowner would pay $49 less than the $1,176 bill with the previously proposed $1.71 rate.
NBISD business manager David Rastelli-ni said the tax rate cut would be good news for local taxpayers but would pose another challenge for the district in its attempt to balance a tight budget.
“What happens when you do that is there s a decrease in the tax rate on the debt service side, but on the operations side of our budget we over-estimated $1.2 million and we have to go back and balance that issue out,” he said.
The proposed $ 1.64 tax rate includes a 9-cent decrease on the debt service rate, but anSee NBISD/5A
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