New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 21, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
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■ New Braunfels Utilities customers cannot water today. Well users with addresses ending in 8 or 9 can water today after 8 p.m.Herald-Zeitung
Vol. 149 No. 178 16 pages in 2 sections July 21, 2000
Serving Comal County since 1852
50 centsHospital finance woes spilling into other industries
By Jo Lee Ferguson Staff Writer
As hospitals scramble to survive in a world of financial storm clouds their problems are spilling into other areas.
Preferred provider organizations and insurance industries are being asked to reimburse the hospitals at higher rates.
Hospitals are suffering from what they say are inadequate Medicare reimburse-
Fifth in a Series
Prognosis for hope
ments, but many insurance companies also are suffering from Medicare woes. Many are dropping their Medicare HMO plans because of insufficient government reimbursements.
At the same time, the cost of health care is rising. And hospitals are placing more
and more of their bad debt load, or unpaid hospital bills, onto the backs of insurance companies, an insurance industry representative said.
Ultimately, the affects of the health care industry’s problems rain onto the “average Joe.”
They affect the men and women who get up every morning and go to work, confident that part of their compensation will be
affordable health care for them and their children.
But these trends could mean more and more companies and individuals are unable to afford health insurance.
These problems are “societal” issues, Richard Coorsh, a spokesperson for the Health Insurance Association of America, explained recently.
“Ifs very limited to assume that either the
health care providers or the health insurance industry in and of themselves can solve these problems,” Coorsh said.
Millions of Americans lack insurance coverage, and the number of uninsured Americans grows by a million people each year, he said.
“Their needs have to be met,” Coorsh said. “At the same time, there’s tremen-
Waste spill probed
Agencies investigate alleged release of lead into sewer system
By Jo Lee Ferguson and Heather Todd
A state environmental task force is investigating the allegedly improper release of liquid waste into New Braunfels' sewer system.
The release came from the Comal Power Plant, where a contractor was conducting an environmental clean up for the Lower Colorado River Authority.
The waste released from the cleanup site contained lead, LCRA spokeswoman Merrell Foote said.
LCRA and local officials said neither the public nor the environment faced any danger.
“We believe that the liquid waste did contain lead at hazardous levels. However, once it was placed into the waste system it was dissolved to the point that it was no longer considered hazardous,” Foote said.
Tom Kelley, a spokesman with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, said he could not speculate on possible health or safety risks until public safety officials knew the level of the material dumped into the collection site and how much was dumped, which will be determined by the samples.
“There are some enforcement people there taking samples of the material, but we do not have any final results yet,” he said.
Test results should be complete in IO days to two weeks, Foote said.
For many months, UTL P. Projects Inc., from Newport News, Va., was conducting an environmental clean up and removing lead-based paint from the Comal Power Plant. UTT.P.’s work was in the final stages, and a Houston firm plans to convert the building, which is near Landa Park, into a hotel and conference center.
Attempts to contact UTL P. were unsuccessful on Thursday.
The city of New Braunfels first discovered the waste problem on July 12, City Attorney Floyd Akers said.
The city’s code enforcement officer and other city officials went to the site July 12 “to investigate what appeared to be illegal or improper pumping, at the least, into the city’s
Where Does It Go?
Wastewater treatment facilities stimulate nature’s purification process, but at a much faster pace.
• Wastewater is delivered to the New Braunfels Utilities wastewater treatment plant via pipes.
• About 99.9 percent of wastewater is water and .1 percent is inorganic materials, such as toilet paper, rocks, sand and sill. The inorganic materi-' als are removed by adding air which causes the materials to sink to the bottom.
• Oxygen is introduced to the wastewater to begin the aeration process. The active bacteria, called activated sludge, feed on the incoming solids and dissolve organic matter. Wastewater stays here about eight days.
• The sludge goes to a digester for 15 days to break down organic material.
• The water flows into clarifying tanks where sludge microorganisms settle. Clear waste rises to the top and is filtered out.
• The remaining sludge is recirculated into the aeration basins to keep the bacterial treatment process alive.
• Chlorine is added to the clear water. State guidelines require a minimum of 20 minutes for the disinfection stage. NBU has 40 minutes of disinfection time.
• Sulfur dioxide is added to remove the chlorine
• The water then flows through a man-made tributary into the Guadalupe River downstream from the surface water treatment plant.
sewer system,” Akers said.
The city took several samples of the liquid and video of the operation. When the city received test results of tile samples, it notified the LCRA immediately, which, in turn, notified the TNRCC.
The public was not notified because there was no health risk involved, Akers said.
LCRA gathered environmental experts to respond to the alleged improper waste disposal after learning of the incident. Foote said a state environmental task force under the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission is overseeing the
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Clean-up work at the Comal Power Plant are suspended temporarily as the Lower Colorado River Authority and other state agencies investigate the alleged release of lead into the city’s sewer system.
Sheriffs deputies want to talk to anyone having any information about this cabin off Spring Branch Road. Call Sgt. Brent Paullus at 830-620-3400.
Man arrested for soliciting prostitution
SPRING BRANCH — Comal County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 38-year-old San Antonio man at a little cabin in the woods off Spring Branch Road Thursday evening and booked him into the Comal County Jail for the alleged felony crime of compelling prostitution.
lf convicted, the man faces a possible sentence of Two to 20 years in prison.
Arrested was Thomas G. Hawes, said sheriff’s detective Tommy Ward. Hawes was booked into Comal County Jail. No bail had been set late Thursday.
The arrest ended a month-long investigation handled by a number of law enforcement agencies that included the Comal County Sheriff’s office, the Department of Public Safety, the Universal City Police and the U.S. Customs Service, Ward said.
Hawes had been reportedly attempting to lure young girls to the cabin, which has a porch swing and a windmill outside. He came to the attention of investigators when young girls in the San Antonio area who had been approached by him reported him to their parents and then to authorities.
So the suspect was connected with a pair of adult female undercover sheriff's deputies who he agreed Thursday to meet at the hideaway camp.
He believed they would procure an additional pair of young girls for him, Ward said.
Ward said investigators prepared an elaborate air and ground surveillance of the man on his way to Spring Branch, and closed the trap around him when he arrived at the remote camp.
Ward said detectives seized evidence at the camp and are working to broaden their case against Hawes. They believe, based on their investigation, that the man may have been soliciting group sex and either videotaping or taking still photos of the activities at the camp.
“If something happened here, we’ll have offenses as well in Comal County,” Ward said. Detectives want to know if anybody has had contact with Hawes, w ho is known by the name Tom, and if any children have been to the camp. “He readily came here. We believe he’s used this place before,” Ward said.
Anhalt barbecue cookoff begins tonight with dance
From staff reports
ANHALT — Get your mama’s best barbecue recipe ready, and don’t forget your dancing shoes. The 9th Annual Barbecue Cook-Off and Dance begins tonight at Anhalt’s historic dance hall off Texas 46 west of U.S. 281.
“This is going to be a really big deal for us,” barbecue cookoff chairman Darrell Moeller said.
The festivities begin at 8 p.m. today with dance music by Gary P. Nunn and the Sons of the Bunkhouse Band.
Admission tonight will be $10 adults and $5 for children. Kids younger than 6 will be admitted free.
Saturday, the barbecue cook-off runs all day. Setup for chefs and their assistants is between 7 and IO a m. Cookoff categories include team entry, beef brisket, pinto beans, showmanship, chicken and pork spareribs.
Saturday night Mark David Man-ders and Neuvo Tejas will entertain from 9 p.m. to I a.m. Admission will be $7 for adults, $5 for children 12 and younger with children younger than 6 admitted.Inside
Key Code 76
Brookshire making pitch to neighbors
By Jo Lee Ferguson
Brookshire I louies is taking its case to the neighbors of a controversial housing development in southeast New Braunfels.
Brookshire Homes, which is battling with the city over its homes in the Meadow ( reek subdivision off Pahmeyer Road, will have a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn on Interstate 35 in New Braunfels for the neighbors of the subdivision.
A Brookshire spokesman said letters would bt* sent to neighborsBARRINEAU
of the development this week informing them of the meeting.
The meeting precedes a possible ruling on July 27 from the city’s zoning board of
adjustment on whether Brookshire I lollies can move f orward.
“What Brookshire I louies wanted to do w as prior to going to the board of adjustment, Brookshire Homes dreg Barrineau, the
president, of Brookshire I louies -- thought it would be beneficial for the neighbors and surrounding development to hear first-hand from Brookshire what the plans are for the Meadow Creek subdivision,” the spokesman said.
Brookshire Homes sued the city in June after the city issued stop work orders for four homes the company planned to build in the Meadow Creek subdivision. Staff said the proposed homes were not of the same “average value, construction, type and size as the established property” urthe area.