New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 28, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas
SATURDAY July 28, 2001
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Vol. 150, No. 222
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852
Trim budget keeps tax from ballooning
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
Comal County probably will not have to raise its tax rate in 2002 despite a number of financial challenges, Comal County Judge Danny Scheel said Thursday
“I’m happy to report that we are $64,200 in the black on our budget,” Scheel said. “Hopefully we can keep it there, and we won’t be looking at a tax increase this year.”
The preliminary 2002 county budget totals $29 million, $21 million of which is funded by the county’s 32.4-cent property tax rate. The other $8 million is funded
through other revenue sources, such as fees and vehicle registration taxes.
While the county will spend about $1.5 million more than this past year — most of it for state and federal mandates — the property tax rate will remain the same as this year because of a 15-percent increase in the county’s taxable value.
Most of that increase was driven by new growth, but some of it also comes with increased appraised value. So many county taxpayers still will see an increased levy because the value of their property was raised by the appraisal district.
At 32.4 cents per $100 of
assessed value, the county’s share of the tax levy on a $100,000 home would be $324.
Scheel put the word out early in the budgeting process that this would be a lean year.
Money from the federal tobacco settlement, which has subsidized indigent health care in this county for three years, has run dry.
That will cost the county nearly $750,000 next year.
In June, the Comal County Jail was found “out of compliance” with state See BUDGET/3ANB All-Stars drop first game
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K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
New Braunfels All-Star catcher Rusty Turpin puts his body on the line to stop the would-be winning run from scoring in the bottom of the seventh inning at the State Little League Tournament in Waco. The New Braunfels Red All-Stars suffered their first loss in tournament play Friday morning against the Northeast San Antonio All-Stars. New Braunfels plays West Sugarland today at 8 p.m. See the story/1 B.
Melodies from memories
Ernest Stevenson, a volunteer, plays the harmonica Thursday for residents of Colonial Manor Care Center where his wife lived. Stevenson plays three separate half-hour “concerts” at three different locations within the center on Mondays and Thursdays. Stevenson also plays at Sterling House on Tuesdays and Hospice on Saturdays.
Harmonica player entertains nursing home residents, local Hospice
By J.L. MCMICHAEL
Hands cupped around the harmonica, Ernest Stevenson coaxes to life the care-free tune of “The Happy Go Lucky Polka” for residents of Colonial Manor Care Center.
Stevenson has brought his music to residents of Colonial Manor for about five years.
During his twice-a-week, three-session visits, he plays more than 60 songs, from “Amazing Grace” to “Bell Bottom Trousers.”
“I played the harmonica back while my wife was still in the nursing home. People knew that I played the harmonica, so they asked me several times to do it. I did it, and I’ve been doing it pretty regularly,” said Stevenson, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.
“Ernie is an amazing guy,” said Iris Bowden, lead activity director at Colonial Manor. “He has volunteered many
places throughout his life. He plays music at all three stations two times a week, and helps on Saturday with bingo”
He also plays his harmonica for Sterling House and the Hospice Thrift Store.
Stevenson’s father taught him to play the harmonica.
“It was before I became a Cub Scout. He taught me how to play the harmonica and I liked it so much that I kept playing it,” Stevenson said. “When I was a Cub Scout, they asked me to play at the meetings, not very much, just play a song for them at each of the meetings for awhile. And then in Boy Scouts, I played the harmonica when we went on camping trips. I played at night around the campfire.”
When Stevenson brings to life a melody from memory (he doesn’t use sheet music), residents join in, clapping and singing when they know all of the words.
“We have some who sing with us most of the time. They almost all try to get by to say, Thank you for playing,’ or ‘I enjoyed your music,’ or something,” Stevenson said.
Besides keeping busy with his music, Stevenson also helps in other facets at Colonial Manor whenever he is needed, he said.
Stevenson shares a story as he nears the end of his music list. The story is about teaching the young woman who became his wife how to sing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”
“I played, ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart,’ then she sang with me and she liked the song. When she learned to sing with me, I played ...”
Th finish his story, Stevenson picked up his harmonica to play the bridal march.
Bowden said she appreciated Stevenson’s contributions to Colonial Manor.
“He’s just here to bless,” she said.
Joint wastewater study bridges GBRA, county
By Ron Maloney
Comal County and the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority might not be on the best of terms lately, but both groups are talking about a joint wastewater management study of Canyon Lake.
Issues regarding GBRA’s plans to take more water out of the lake have divided the county and river authority recently.
On Thursday, Debbie Mag-in, director of water quality services for the GBRA, told Comal County Commissioners that an engineering study of water quality around Canyon Lake was under way.
“When we started talking about the Western Canyon pipeline project and were considering trying to increase the yield of Canyon, we recognized that the quality of that water is very critical to the basin,” Magin said.
“We started looking at the area around Canyon, and the growth is exploding.”
GBRA applied for a Texas Water Development Board grant to do a water quality study and consider regional sewage facilities.
As part of the study, GBRA will explore ways to reuse or recycle treated water, Magin said.
“GBRA has always been very receptive to using wastewater for reuse in irrigation or other projects,” Magin said.
County Judge Danny Scheel closely studied a map showing the proposed location for a new water treat-
• The wastewater study has been contracted to engineering firm PBS&J of Austin.
• The study is expected to take about a year.
• Its $130,000 cost will be funded by a $65,000 grant by the Texas Water Development Board with a local match by the GBRA and Comal County.
• GBRA will provide $50,000 in cash and $10,000 worth of engineering services to the study.
• Comal County will provide $5,000 worth of services by County Engineer Tom Homseth.
ment plant off Comal Park.
He questioned the placement of GBRA water quality monitoring sites.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Scheel said. “But I think water flows downstream.”
A water quality testing site used since the mid-1980s near Sorrel Creek on the north side of the lake should be moved downlake from the Canyon Park Estates discharge point, past Canyon Park to Jacobs Creek Park, Scheel said.
“It does flow downhill,” Magin agreed. “We can look at the location.”
The study will be aimed at determining the feasibility of building a regional waste-See WASTE WATE R/3 A
Senate ‘playing chicken’ with Mexican truck debates
By ALAN FRAM
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Outnumbered foes of proposed safety requirements for Mexican trucks tied the Senate in procedural knots Friday as the White House reiterated its threat to veto the legislation.
A day after the Senate voted to end one Republican parliamentary delay, Sens. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and John
McCain, R-Ariz., exercised their right to keep the debate going all day anyway.
A fresh Democratic attempt to finally close off debate fell three votes short of the 60
needed after some lawmakers left town for the weekend. GOP leaders said they believed the 57-27 vote would put pressure on Democrats to negotiate. But top Democrats called the roll call meaningless, saying they had the votes to complete the bill next week without bargaining.
“They are delaying the inevitable,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
The fight focuses on President Bush’s plan to open American roads to Mexican truckers on Jan. I, following the dictates of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Below the surface, however, is positioning over the Hispanic vote, free trade, the power of unions and the Democrats’ ability to effi
ciently move their agenda through the Senate.
Senate Democrats, and nearly half the chamber’s Republicans, would impose a series of standards covering inspections, drivers’ records and insurance on Mexican trucks and their owners. Bush says the plan would stifle trade with Mexico and is unfair because requirements are stricter than forSee TRUCKS/3AInside
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