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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 22, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY July 22, 2003 12 pages in 2 sections pages rn & scctitHerald-Zeitung Vol. 152* No. 214 J Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Gruene Bridge Deborah Franzen Yes, (it should be improved) so the flow of traffic can go better under the bridge. No, because it’s been there forever, i feel like if they redo it, in the next flood, it will go down with the flood. Mark McDonald I think if they make a new bridge, they should make it as close as possible to this one. Matthew Tavern The safety is important, but keeping it historical kind of goes hand-in-hand. I don’t know how to do both. Tim Gilbreath They’re going to have to make it so you can walk across the sucker. This bridge is a vital part of the community here. We have got to be able to cross this bridge. It needs to be up higher, and there, needs to be a pedestrian-only deal. DAVID INGRAM/HerakJ-Zertung Rafters elect to guide their tube under the Gruene Bridge rather than ride through the narrow opening. Rising water levels can make a trip under the bridge impossible. Historic designation could halt improvement By Dylan JimEnez Staff Writer The argument has continued for six years: history versus safety. Gruene homeowners and the New Braunfels City Council argue for safety, while Gruene merchants and preservationists argue for history. The Texas Historic Commission is giving the Gruene Bridge a second look at historic designation, which could halt the bridge improvement project. Monday the commission reviewed reapplication by local preservationists for national historic designation of the Gruene Bridge. The review board is set to decide Sept. 12 whether the bridge has a chance to receive national designation. National historic designation would not necessarily kill the project, said Gregory Smith, THC national register coordinator. The review comes one week after New Braunfels City Council voted unanimously — with one abstention — to urge the local Tbxas Department of Transportation office to move forward with the project that has been pending since 1997. THC denied the bridge’s historical significance in early 2002 because some renovations to the structure did not pass the commission’s 60-year age requirement. Those renovations turned 50 in February 2003, and preservationists have been scrambling to save the bridge through historic designation. Monday Smith said information submitted in the new application addresses the problems with the first attempt. “There were a lot of questions about the actual date of construction, so the person who has prepared the revised nomination has addressed those. Now, the board might have other questions regarding the (historical) integrity of the bridge,” Smith said. “It’s hard to say. They didn’t approve it last time; they might approve it this time.” If achieved, a national designation would require a review of the project. “This isn’t a situation where TxDOT can just come in without making sure that many voices within the community are heard regarding the historic properties,” Smith said. TxDOT would have to prove there isSee GRUENE/3A Last chapter in city elections closes with campaign-fund bank accounts By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer Candidates in the May municipal election recently closed campaign finance accounts, finally putting the election behind, It is not a requirement to close accounts after the election, as long as candidates and officeholders continue to file reports, Karen Lundquist, Texas Ethics Commission executive director, said Monday. After the treasurer appointment is dissolved, candidates have six years to give contributions to chanty or return the money to contributors. Closing a campaign account does not necessarily mean the candidate or officeholder will not run again, Lundquist said. “It doesn’t foreclose anything. What it does is say you can’t accept campaign contributions once you’ve terminated your appointment,” Lundquist said. Candidates would have to reappoint someone before they would become active in a campaign, she said. For most candidates, closing campaign accounts was an issue of convenience. District 4 Councilwoman Valerie Hull said she didn’t want to worry about keeping a bank account open, See CAMPAIGNS County holds line on taxes despite $1M budget hike By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Comal County’s budget hearings concluded Monday with no surprises — and an increasing likelihood of a stable tax rate for 2004. “Overall, it’s gone very well,” Precinct I Commissioner Jack Dawson said. “There’s no doubt in ray mind we will not have a tax increase.” Monday, budgets of the district court and clerk’s offices, the justices of the peace, juvenile probation, the sheriff’s office and the Comal County Jail were considered. “If you consider just our general fund and factor in the courts, the sheriff’s office, the jail, the constables, criminal justice accounts for about 80 percent of our budget,” Dawson said. Dawson said Monday’s biggest budgetary hit was 20 new patrol cars for the sheriff’s office. Those would cost close to $500,000, including radios and equipment. County Judge Danny Scheel said the county’s safety policy requires that no vehicle with more than 130,000 miles on the odometer be used for pursuit. “This year, we just had a lot of vehicles that caught up with us mileage-wise,” Scheel said. Other big budget increases include a 14-percent hike in health insurance premiums, increasing that cost to $2 million. Scheel said most of that On the books Comal County’s proposed 2004 budget would not increase the current tax rate of 33.37 cents per $100 of assessed value. Proposed 2004 budget: $34 million General fund: $25 million Road and bridge fund: $5 million Debt service: $1.4 million Indigent health care: $1.1 million The remaining $1.5 million is composed of smaller, special revenue funding items. * Of the General fund —-Salaries, taxes, employee benefits: $22 million, including a proposed 4 percent cost-of-living pay increase. Operating costs: $3 million Anticipated general fund revenues — Property taxes: $17.8 million Sales taxes: $3.9 million Court fines and fees: $4.3 million increase would come out of the county’s general fund; 4 percent would come from the county’s reserves. The county would continue to pay IOO percent of health insurance premiums for employees. See BUDGET/3A SVHS grad gets head start on college Inside Dear Abby...... .......5A Classifieds........ ......4-6B Comics .......2B Crossword...... ....... 2B Forum . ......4A Obituaries ...... .......3A Sports .......1B Today.. .......2A TV.... 3B www.f lerald-zeH 8 56825"00 OOI I By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Not many folks would describe studying for a calculus exam as “enjoyable.” But Chase Zachary, 2003 salutatorian at Smithson Valley High School, did. It’s a good thing he enjoyed the studying, too. He took eight Advanced Placement tests this year and achieved the maximum score, a five, on all eight exams. Thanks to all that studying, hell start his freshman year at Southern Methodist University with 49 credits. “I have a lot more options open to me now as I plan what to do with the next four years,” said Chase Zachary. Chase Zachary is looking forward to a full scholarship at Southern Methodist University. Hundreds of hours in the family study room have paid-off big for the Smithson Valley High School graduate. Zachary took exams in English Literature and Composition, Physics-Mechanics, Physics-Electricity and Magnetism, Statistics, World History, Microeconomics, American Government and Calculus B-C, a full year of college calculus. “Its a very rare thing for a student to score that high on all of his AP exams," said Jan Booth, Comal Independent School District’s Executive Director of Secondary Education. Zachary said he took the AP exams so he could immerse himself in college material. He began studying for theSe© GRAD/6A K. JESSIE SLATEN Heratd-Zeitung ;