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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 6, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas FRIDAY rn .....~......~~7v '    *     v ■; s’    ’    V    j"u Area, state officials react to Bullock’s retirement. See Page 10A New Braunfels 24 pages in three sections ■ Friday, June 6,1997 *0332 MOO? 10/22/99    80 SO-WEST MICR0F*UBL.ISHING *627 E YAN DL LL DK’ EL. PASO, TX 79903-Serving Comal County and surrounding areas for more than 145 years ■ Home of Johnny Williams Vol. 145, No. 147 Editorial............................ 4A Sports................................ 1B-3B Comics............................. 4B Market Place..................... 1C-8C Dear Abby........................ ............3A Stammtisch Inside Birthday wishes from the Herald-Zeitung! The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung extends birthday wishes to: Erie R. Watson (Saturday), Johnny Williams, M.W. Herring, Dixie Pace, Kevin Jones, Kayla Shoemake (9 years old), TI. Wise (Saturday), John Montague (Saturday), Aleisa Shepherd (Saturday), Beth Hall (Saturday), Lance French (17 years old Saturday), Kristy Roberts (IS years old Saturday), Paige Granzin (4 years old Saturday), Mary Helen Cantu (Saturday), Alex Caballero (13 years old), Hector Rosales Jr., James Pierce, Janie Moreno (Saturday), Mark Guerrero (Saturday), Chavela Sanchez (Saturday) and Cecil Fortson. Happy anniversary wishes go to: Jo and Richard Free (39 years), Mr. and Mrs. Robert Parchman (16 years) and Denise and Jeff Mund (22 years Saturday) To have a birthday or anniversary listed here, call 625-9144. Potion Count Mold — 2,372 Pollen — 32 (Pollen measured in parts per cubic meter of air. Information provided by Dr. Frank Hampel) River Information Comal River — 270 cts, down 8 from Thursday Edwards Aquifer Panther Canyon WeM — 025.17 feet above sea level down .03 * Canyon Dam discharge — 1,021 cfs Canyon Lake inflow — 970 cfs Canyon Lake level — 910.32 feet above sea level. (Above conservation pool.) New Braunfels Utilities NBU reports pumping 6.065 million gallons of surface water Thursday and 783,300 gallons of well water were used GQitoaljP Tubing conditions will be ideal lf you've been waiting for ideal tubing conditions, your wait is over. The morning discharge rate from Canyon Dam into the Guadalupe River was about 1,000 cubic feet per second, but officials said the rate would be lowered to about 700 cfs at 5 p m. today The 700 cfs flow rate, considered ideal for tubing and rafting, will remain in effect through the weekend, barring significant rainfall. The spring-fed Comal River, the “shortest longest in the world," is flowing at 278 cfs. Birthday bash banatite senior cantar Greene Hall hosts 92.1 FM Radio New Braunfels Bash Sunday starting at noon Musical entertainers will include Chris Wall, Gary P. Nunn, Tim DuBois, Michael Waid, Geronimo Trevino, Al Bartow, Bret Graham, The Defilers and Kimmie Rhodes Proceeds from the event will benefit Comal County Senior Citizens Expansion Fund Tickets are $5 at the door with an empty bottle of Artesia Water. For more information, call 210-625-7311 or 210629-9292 Expect good weather for the weekend Today should be a nice start to the weekend and a great day to head outdoors Tonight, expect mostly cloudy skies with a 30 percent chance of showers The tow will be in the 70s, and a 5 to 10 mph breeze from the southeast. Saturday's weather will feature mostly cloudy skies, a 30 percent chance of showers, high in the upper 80s and a southeast wind at 10 mph. City decides to rebuild Gruene Bridge Council votes unanimously to take TxDOT’s funding offer Herald-Zeitung photo by Michael Damall Local attorney Don Jemela addrsaoee council during the hearing. By ABE LEVY Staff Writer New Braunfels City Council voted unanimously Thursday to enter into a contract with state transportation officials to reconstruct the 88-year-old Gruene Bridge. The decision came after about two-and-a-half hours of public comment during a special meeting with a standing-room-only crowd. The move brought closure to a debate that has continued between the city and Gruene residents and business owners for more than a year concerning possible reconstruction of the low-water crossing. The city said the bridge posed safety problems to tubers because of its low height over the river and traffic and pedestrian hazards because of its narrow lanes and pedestrian walkway. Local merchants and residents of Gruene have urged the city not to destroy the existing bridge because of the scenic view, ambiance and historical significance it has provided since its construction in 1909. Texas Department of Transportation offered to pay 90 percent of the reconstruction project that is estimated to cost up to $900,000 with the city picking up the remainder, estimated at about $93 JKX). Eighty percent of the state’s grant is funded through the federal government, officials said. TxDOT officials indicated they needed an answer from council by Thursday or the matching grant would go to other projects. Council members said the decision was difficult but necessary because of safety concerns. “As a resident, I would love to keep the bndge just as it is,” said councilwoman Jan Kotylo, whose District 4 includes the bridge. “But there’s a definite need for safety measures. I would feel very guilty if someone were killed at that bndge.” TxDOT officials now will act as consultants for the city as design plans are finalized, including a hydrology study of Guadalupe River flows in relation to the height of the bridge, officials said. Thursday’s action also gave the go-ahead for TxDOT to begin a histoncal/environmental impact study of the bndge site on Gruene Readjust west of Gruene Historic District. Officials said the project would require additional money to purchase right-of-way to complete the construction project scheduled to begin in at least two years. The current plan includes a pedestnan walkway and guardrail and would raise the height Herald-Zaitung photo by Michael Darnall Mayor Jan Kannady natant to a speaker at the Gruene Bridge hearing Thursday night. ‘As a resident I would love to keep tho bridge Just as it is. But thore’s a definite need for safety measures. I would fool very guilty if someone wore killed at that bridge.’ —Dist. 4 councilwoman Jan Kotylo of the crossing by 6 feet on the upstream side and 4 feet on the downstream side. That height would meet minimum standards for tubers to pass underneath if water at Canyon Dam were released at about 5,000 cubic feet per second, officials said. The plan is not final, officials said, and could be subject to changes as the design plan continues to be studied. Dee Buck, a Gruene merchant who opposed reconstruction, said he understood the arguments for safety but wanted the city to explore more options. “The way it came out was a safety vs. aesthetics discussion,” he said after the vote. “We thought there were other ways to deal with the safety issue.” Zero Rivers, owner of Rockin R River Rides next to the bndge, said he was glad about the decision, which he said should help avoid river-related inj unes he had witnessed many times. Comal commissioners OK auto theft task force Sheriff: No local tax dollars will be used By DENISE DZIUK Staff Writer Comal County will join forces with 13 other Central Texas counties to help address the problem of automobile theft. Comal County Commissioners Court on Thursday approved participation of the local sheriffs office, at no cost to the local taxpayers, in the Auto Theft Task Force. Sheriff' Bob Holder said the task force was initiated by Travis County Sheriffs Office to tackle the problem of automobile thefts. Holder said Comal County was the southernmost county involved, and Bell County was the northernmost. Other participating counties include Bastrop, Blanco, Hays, Travis and Williamson. “Your large cities usually have their own,” Holder said. “But there’s nothing out there to meet the needs of the small counties. ...There’s strength in numbers, and that's what this is all about.” Comal County has a problem with auto theft. Holder said, and although it’s not overwhelming, it needs to be addressed. According to the grant proposal, Comal County had 140 auto thefts, placing it fifth highest among the 14 counties in the task force. In 1995, the county had 97 auto thefts, of which 66 were in the city. Holder said the county will have a field agent highly skilled in the area of auto theft combing the coun ty for stolen cars, “chop shops" and any other signs of auto theft. The position will be funded fully through a grant, he said, and will not require any local tax dollars. “It’s a win-win situation that I think will do our county right,” Holder said. “We’re going to discover some things that even I don’t know about right now.” If the grant is approved, it will be funded starting Sept. I. Holder said if any matching funds were needed for the grant, Travis County would pick up the tab. Local officials, TCI eye public access TV agreement By ABE LEVY Staff Writer Access to local government could be as close as the television by late summer, according to a proposed agreement between the city of New Braunfels and Tele-Communications Inc. that would give the city a government access channel. The broadcast could be functional by late July or early August and would cost TCI an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 to install the necessary cable and camera equipment according to the proposed agreement, city officials said. The broadcast will share an undisclosed cable channel for such programs as: ■ Live city council meetings, planning and zoning board meetings and other city government meetings inside council chambers. ■ A bulletin board for public announcements. ■ Informational videos on city services and events. ■ Live talk shows The city has had a franchise contract with TCI since 1989 that stipulates the cable company pay 5 percent of its gross receipts to the city and also guarantees a government access channel. The current contract is a non-exclusive franchise agreement that extends to 2010 and brought in a total of $ 145,066 to the city last year. City officials said they had not taken advantage of broadcast rights because they lacked the necessary equipment that TCI is planning to pay for entirely in the proposed deal. City officials said the cable access agreement was not connected to the recent rate increases for basic and expanded service made by TCI earlier this year. TCI General Manager Dennis Moore could not be reached for comment Thursday. City officials said they did not know of another Texas city the size of New Braunfels that had its own cable access channel. “It’s going to give us an opportunity to listen first hand,” Mayor Jan Kennady said. “Communication is the key as far as I'm concerned.’’ Kennady and other city officials had been working on bringing public broadcast abilities to the Municipal Building since almost one year ago. ‘it’s going to mark the beginning of a new era as far as communication in this area.” said Don Ferguson, assistant to the city manager and former news editor for KGNB/KNBT who is negotiating with TCI. “Residents will have the opportunity to see government in action and stay up with the making of laws in this community. It is our hope we can create a model for other communities.” Mayor proposes cable committee By ABE LEVY Staff Writer New Braunfels Mayor Jan Kennady said she planned to form an ad hoc committee to monitor Tele-Communications Inc. as a means to help improve the cable company’s local service. The proposed committee is scheduled for consideration at the City Council regular meeting Monday and is part of a response to TCI’s rate increase that was proposed earlier this year and became effective June I. From 40 to 50 people expressed complaints about TCI’s service and programming, citing low channel availability and poor signal quality, city officials said. TCI General Manager Dennis Moore would attend the proposed committee, Kennady said, providing local customers with a direct line of communication to top administration. Moore was unavailable for comment Thursday. Turn to Committee, Page 2A State legislators address education issues at local luncheon By CHRIS CREWS Staff Writer Funding for public education in Texas was one of the major topics discussed by state legislators Thursday at a Communities in Schools of Comal County Inc. luncheon attended by local educators and civic leaders. “We did less with education this session than in any session I’ve been involved in with the Legislature,” said Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin. Action on educational issues was closely tied to property tax reform that was intended to change the way schools are funded in the state, Kuempel explained. Tito failure to pass comprehensive tax * Jeff Wentworth Edmund Kuampaf reform limited legislation regarding education. Kuempel said the Legislature did provide some relief for property owners in the state by raising the homestead exemption from $5,000 to $15,000. He estimated the average homeowner in Comal County would see a savings of about $150 in his tax bill. Jerry Major, superintendent of the Comal Independent School District, said the Legislature’s actions on the homestead exemption could result in reduced funding for his district. "We still are working with preliminary numbers from Austin, but our estimates are that we will receive around $2 million less from the state,” Major said, adding that money from the state will drop from about $11 million to about $9 million. “The remaining question is will toe state make up the difference,” Major said. State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, said there were provisions in the bill that would compensate school distncts if shortfalls occurred. Wentworth announced the Texas Tuition Assistance Grant Program, a program he sponsored to provide tuition and fee assistance to college students in Texas, received $10 million in funding from the legislature. “A lot of kids get to the eighth or ninth grade and realize their family does not have enough money to send them to college, so they don’t see the need to get a high school diploma and drop out of school,” Wentworth said. “This program provides the incentive for them to stay in school.”Reds, Athletics advance to Major League championship. See Page 1B A ;