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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 2, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas CATT IRDAYNew Braunfels    june    2,    20m 16 pages in 2 sections pages in 2 SeCtKHerald-Zeitung —1—1    • n-‘"“■ >i,]i1" i....................—.—-————-—Vol. 150, No. 174    Serving    New    Braunfels    and    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents Rangers ride to finals The Ranger softball team advances to the state finals./See related story on page 1B. This is only a test Agencies practice swift-water rescue Jobless rate drops to 4.4 percent Dip is first in eight months By Leigh Strope AP Labor Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time in eight months, the nation’s unemployment rate improved slightly, dipping to 4.4 percent last month. But factory workers suffered a 10th consecutive cut in jobs, and analysts said the weak economy will send unemployment upward again. May’s unemployment rate was down 0.1 percentage point from April’s 2 1/2-year high of 4.5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. The decline surprised analysts but did not boost optimism that the worst economic days are over. “There are clouds on the horizon,” Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said. On Wall Street, after declining through most of the morning, the Dow Jones industrial average changed direction at midday and closed up 78.47 points. Though fewer people seeking jobs were out of work last month, businesses overall cut 19,000 jobs, following a much bigger reduction of 182,000 workers in April. The April cut was the biggest since the country struggled to pull out of recession a decade ago. Manufacturing companies shed 124,000 jobs last month, the largest payroll reduction so far in that sector, which has lost almost a half million jobs this year. Manufacturing “still does not appear to have hit bottom,” said Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “But equally important is the fact that there is very little strength elsewhere to offset this weakness.” The National Association of Purchasing Management said Friday that its factory index continued to show recession conditions in manufacturing with a reading of 42.1 in May, down from 43.2 in April. Any reading below 50 is an indication that manufacturing is contracting. Chao said the country still needed a lift from the $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut that President Bush is to sign into law next week. my job is to pull together all the different equipment and assets and get there. “We’ve got flash flooding problems in Texas. If you can’t deploy quickly, you’ve got people who are going to be swept out of trees and off of rooftops.” Gallagher’s group has equipment for a 24-member team built around See PRACTICE/3 A CHRIS PACE/ Herald-Zeitung Rescue workers exit a helicopter during a swift-water rescue drill Friday on the Guadalupe River. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer A Texas National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter hovers a few feet above the cypress trees that line the Guadalupe River near Camp Hueco Springs. Its huge rotors whip the tops of the trees into a blurred green frenzy, throwing hurricane force winds to the river IOO feet below. Its pilots fight the wind currents to keep the helicopter stationary over the river to deploy a rescuer in a weighted basket the aircrew refers to — not without respect — as the “dope on the rope.” The helicopter drifts a couple of feet each wa}' on the wind currents, while crew chief Staff Sgt. Tim Rodriguez and a dozen others onboard ignore the vertical rock cliffs a few feet to the right as the basket drops through the trees. The would-be rescuers were among a number of public safety officials from around Texas who trained on the Guadalupe River and Canyon Lake Thursday and Friday. The Texas Engineering and Extension Service’s Texas Task Force I-Water Strike Team practiced swift water and flood water rescue techniques this week with military and local rescuers, including Comal County sheriff’s deputies. Task Force I was formed some years ago — in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing — to be able to respond to large structure collapses and similar catastrophes. The October 1998 flood changed the group’s focus a bit. State officials decided it would be prudent to prepare a statewide agency to handle flooding events. The exercises in Comal County are the first full dress rehearsal to bring military, state and local water rescue specialists together to practice working with one another, learn each other’s techniques and learn about the equipment the various agencies use. That’s because, Task Force I commander Tim Gallagher told participants, “you’ll be seeing this material again — on game day.” What Gallagher calls game day is for real and for keeps — the situation, for instance, in hurricane sea son when a storm-driven flood overpowers the ability of local agencies to respond to trouble. As commander, Gallagher’s job is to be able to quickly pull together people and equipment to get to a crisis area. “The idea is to get in quickly,” Gallagher said. “When a community’s overwhelmed and the state calls me, Walker, Janca lead NBHS class of 2001 LAUREN WALKER By Martin Malacara Staff Writer Lauren Walker and Clay Janca will graduate today as the county’s third set of top two students, ending the chapter on the class of 2001. Walker and Janca will graduate with the rest of the New Braunfels High School class of 2001 at 2 p.m. at Strahan Coliseum in San Marcos. Walker is the class valedictorian and Janca is the salutatorian. “I had doubts about being valedictorian my junior year. I tried to maintain my grades after that,” Commencement The New Braunfels High School Class of 2001 will graduate during a ceremony at 2 p.m. today in Strahan Coliseum in San Marcos. Leading the class of about 370 will be valedictorian Lauren Walker, daughter of Randy and Gaye Walker, and salutatorian Clay Janca, son of Bob and Glenda Janca. Walker said. Walker will differentiate herself from Comal County’s other vale dictorians because she will attend college out of state. She will attend Florida State University on a full tennis scholarship. Walker will major in civil engineering. “It’s a good tennis and academic situation for me,” she said. Walker is among the top three high school tennis players in the state. She won her second University Interscholastic League State Championship for girls singles May 8. She won her first singles title her sophomore year and a See NBHS/4A CLAYJANCA Westside Community Center construction to begin soon By Amy Clarkson .  ^ Staff Writer Building for the Westside Community Center starts vith a bang this summer. The official groundbreak-ng ceremony for the com-nunity education center is cheduled for Independence )ay, Dr. Carlos Campos aid. New Braunfels’ search for new city attorney put funds needed for construction on hold since March, when the Infrastructure/ Improvement Corp. approved $250,000 over two years to build the center. City council approved the funds in April, but no attorney was available to draw up the contract, Campos said. “We’ve been waiting for a new city attorney,” he said.See CENTER/3AInside Abby...............................5A Classifieds.......................4-6B Comics..............................9A Crossword.........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies.................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports...............................1-3B Key Code 76 Olympic gold medalist Rulan Gardner became a hero with the help of his hometown/Sunday in the Herald-Zeitung NBU water, sewer connection fees increase By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer Developers and builders in New Braunfels face the first sewer and water connection fee increase from New Braunfels Utilities in more than 18 years. At its regular meeting Thursday night, the NBU board of trustees unanimously passed a fee hike for sewer and water connections in new developments. The fees were developed based on actual labor, equipment and material costs compiled for each meter size and service, as well as if the fines have to be placed through dirt or rock. NBUs Executive Director of Water Service Roger Biggers made the presentation See FEES/10A ;