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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 1, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Page 8A — Herald-Zeitung — June I, 2000New Braunfels High School Senior Awards NBISD photo Front row from left are Rachel Valedez, Laura Wong, Andrea Lagunas and Trey Daum. Back row from left are Geoffrey Hangartner, David Brandt, Elizabeth Ninneman, Lauren Gaskamp and Kyle Kraft. NBISD photo Front row from left are Alejandro Rodriguez, Lacey Raclla, Cara Doherty and Sarah Weber. Back row from left are Meghan Tjemagel, Tamsen Smith, Blaine Laubach, Ismael Gonzales and Tami Scholl. DINER/From 1A “People come here — visitors or people on holidays — and they enjoy it; they compliment it,” he said. “There are restaurants, but this is a quaint restaurant — something other restaurants and cafes don’t have.” The restaurant’s closing was news to both restaurant staff and regular customers who stopped by Wednesday afternoon. “We were just walking by and saw the sign,” said Pete and Georgia Williams, regular customers since 1994. Lauer told regulars the news of the restaurant’s closing one by one as they dropped in for lunch or for a drink Wednesday afternoon. “They were all quite upset” Lauer said. “The general reaction was shock. People have been thanking me for providing good service and good food for them.” He said the hardest part about closing the restaurant would be missing his regular, repeat customers — who have made up about 80 percent of the restaurant’s business — and the staff. But, Lauer said he looked at closing his successful business now as the right move at the right time. “I would rather close when we’re doing well,” he said. “I’m going out on top and I think have a positive reputation here.” Lauer said ongoing problems with staffing was one contributing factor to his decision to close. “It’s extremely difficult to find help — creativity, dependability and reliability,” he said. “Part of it is the economic situation in downtown — the lack of draw and tourist traffic downtown. “I think the restaurant is going to be a tremendous loss for downtown New Braunfels. I think the restaurant contributed to the success of downtown by having a regular, loyal customer base coming downtown.” Even so, Lauer said he believed the area has seen some success in recent years. “I think downtown has grown and continues to grow and continues to prosper,” he said. “After eight years, I want to do something different. But, I’ve very much enjoyed being a part of the operation of the business.” Lauer said he planned to take two months oft' to decide his next career move. Meantime, he wants to find someone to buy or lease the building, which has a luxury apartment on the second floor. Lauer said he would rather lease. “I would like to find someone who will take over operation of the actual restaurant,” he said. Anyone interested in buying or leasing the building and restaurant can contact Lauer at 606-3450. Lauer said the building was constructed in 1929 and many residents might remember the building as the Dean Office Supply and Liquor Store. The first floor of the building was converted to a restaurant in 1991, he said. Lauer said the restaurant was in financial trouble when he bought it eight years ago. “We’ve been operating at a profit,” he said. “I think we’ve been a success. Fifty percent of restaurants go out of business during the first year and 70 percent during the second year. I think we did pretty good.” Lauer credited that to good food and good service, something regular customers don’t dispute. “It’s a very comfortable place,” said Pete Williams, who visits the place with Geoigia twice a week. “You could be comfortable here no matter how you dress or if you have all your kids with you. It has good food: a great place for lunch or breakfast.” Geoigia said, “We used to get up on Saturday morning and we live in the neighborhood, so we would walk down here for breakfast. And if Mark wasn’t open, we would want to cry.” The Plaza Diner was one of the few restaurants open for breakfast on Sunday mornings, Lauer said. The restaurant’s closing also will mean a big change for Plaza Diner employees, who found out about the closing the last day of business. Twenty-one year old Ester (Joy) Ramirez, who has worked at the restaurant two years, said news of the restaurant’s closing was an emotional moment for employees. “It’s just sad,” she said. “I learned a lot here. The staff was really close.” Ramirez said her parents were missionaries and traveled frequently. and working at the restaurant made Lauer more like family to her. “There are times when he can be cool,” she said with a smile on her face and tear in her eye. Joan Williams, who has worked at the diner for the past nine months, said Mark was well liked by all the employees. “He’s a good-hearted employer, and when you’re in a bind he helps you out if he can,’ she said. “He’ll be missed.” NBISD photo Front row from left are Jennifer Quiroz, Gabriella DeLaCerda, Meredith Peters and Margarita Ayala. Back row from left are Andy Kraft, Joseph Richardson, Clay Coleman, Anna Sandoval and Amy Morton. NBISD photo Front row from left are Angela Saad, Renee Farnsworth, Olivia Granados and Amy Kohlenburg Back row from left are Michael Kendel, Edgar Zamora, Chris Millett and Matt Aurora. ical confidentiality, the district declined in April to discuss the problems or how many — if any — additional staff members may be involved. “We’re working closely with affected staff,” CIS Principal Maggie Hanna said in late April. “If anybody feels they were affected, we’re dealing with it. We’re concerned. We’re doing everything we can to make sure the school is a healthy place.” About a dozen or so students used each of the closed rooms, and usually for less than two hours each day, Hanna said. That was echoed Wednesday by assistant to the superintendent, Nancy Cobb. “None of those children were exposed to the extent the staff was,” Cobb told CISD trustees. After discovering the mold problem, the dis- GRADS/From 1A trict engaged a consultant to conduct air quality tests at CIS. Varying levels of a non-toxic type of mold were found in 19 classrooms, officials said. Only two of them, which will require repairs that include replacing damaged wallboard and other work, were closed, while the remainder were cleaned by a contractor that specializes in dealing with moisture-related problems. “Subsequent testing shows us we don’t have any airborne mold since the cleaning,” Linnartz told the board Wednesday. Linnartz said checks at two other district schools built by the architect and contractor responsible for the CIS renovations turned up no trace of mold, either. Both schools will be looked at further, he said. HDR/Simpson is ready to begin work on Monday if a contract is signed today, Linnartz said. The contract will be conditional pending approval of district legal counsel and possible further negotiations with HDR/Simpson, Linnartz said. Copies of the proposed contract have been provided to attorneys for the CIS renovations contractor and architect. “I think they realize they have some responsibility for the problems we face with the building,” Linnartz told the board. Linnartz said the consultant would investigate to determine the cause of the mold as well as who was responsible with an eye toward recovering costs incurred by the district. Doherty said she would miss the teachers, things she did with her friends and football games in the winter. “There’s nothing like a high school football game,” she said. Doherty plans to major in animal science this fall at LSU but Spanish is her prime passion. “It’s scary but exciting,” she said. “I am excited about the opportunity to meet new people.” Both Doherty’s mother and father, Claudette Phair and Michael Doherty, describe their daughter as curious and interested in everything. “She likes to learn new things and experiences,” Michael Doherty said. “She’s warm with people she knows and to those she doesn’t know.” Her parents never pressured her to be valedictorian and are proud of her achievement. “We encouraged her,” Michael Doherty said. “We didn’t have an idea that she was first in the class until after her sophomore year. We worked with her and a counselor for her to take the courses best for her.” Phair said she wanted her daughter to do her best. “Cara never really worked for valedictorian,” she said. “It just happened for her. She’s a wellrounded person and student. She’s excited about all phases of life. “I want her to continue to be her own person and to stay conscientious and close to God.” Doherty is not the first in her family to be valedictorian. Her father and grandmother were valedictorians of their high school classes. Her grandfather was salutatorian of his high school. Saad said she hoped Doherty continued to express herself in a positive way. “Cara is a very passionate person about things,” she said. “She’s herself.” Doherty described Saad as a hard worker without being studious. “She knows what she wants and how to get there,” Doherty said. “She’s a good person and will always be successful in life.” Saad, daughter of Raja and Adla Saad, said salutatorian was not a goal for her; it was something that just happened. “It’s been great to have fun for four years and receive this honor,” she said. “I’m going to miss the ability to procrastinate. You can’t do that in college.” Saad plans to attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut and major in biology. Although her mother is nervous about sending her daughter across the country, she is proud and excited for her. “I’m very proud of her,” she said. “She takes on any task no matter how hard it is. She’s the center of the house. We depend on her a lot.” Saad’s family moved to the United States from Lebanon when she was a child. She had to learn to speak English to catch up with her classmates. Through the years, she attended educational and athletic camps, sometimes working to pay the expenses because her family couldn’t afford it. “She is a gifted, talented student,” Adla Saad said. “I want her to learn to share and be a team member. I want her to get a good education so she can contribute back to the community. “She is a successful person in life and a role model for a lot of things.” Both Doherty and Saad agreed they wanted to pass along the same message to their classmates. “Continue to do what you want to do, but make sure you’re happy in what you’re doing,” Saad said. Doherty advises her classmates to remember who they are and not to change for other people. Both plan to be busy this summer. “I’m going to be working this summer,” Saad said. Doherty will catch an airplane at 5 a.m. Saturday for a trip to Honduras. . “I’m going down there with a team of veterinarians to do service work,” she said. “I’m going to be working as an interpreter, helping to give speeches about public safety. “Then I’ll be back to work for my grandpa in New Mexico.” MOLD/From 1A NBISD photo Front row from left are Kristen Bowden, Ashley Michael, Janae Davis, Angela Reininger. Back row from left are Jamie Vaughan, Biljana Veljanovska, Jennifer Dolle, Audrey Gonzales, Crystal Gonzales NBISD photo Front row from left are Kaye Smith, Lenin Biggers, Laura Boutwell and Crystal Clark. Back row from left are Whitney Garvens, April Wiedenfield, Bryndy Zaeske, Deseree Boyd and Christina Moore. NBISD photo Front row from left are Khaled El Dorry, Erie Sultemeier, Scott Wilson, and Joel Gonzales. Back row from left are Nick Skalomenos and Elizabeth Lawson. NBISD photo Front row from left are Nick Skalomenos, Chad Salge, Tyler Hollmig and Clay Coleman. Back row from left are Adam Levine, Cody Chapman , Reggie Ormond and Cody Erben. ;