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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 12, 2004, New Braunfels, Texas SATURDAY,1’    004 Zeitung FORUM GUEST COLUMN Laina Mayo, a Women's Center counselor, writes about combating the emotional trauma of sexual abuse. Page Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. Vol. 153, No. 184 16 pages, 2 sections CLICK 50$ 20% rain chance High Low 92 74 Details .... 1B I a ■56825 00001 DEAR ABBY 3B CLASSIFIEDS 48 COMICS 2B CROSSWORD 28 FORUM 4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS 5-6A TV GRIDS SB SPORTS SELECT TOURNEY New Braunfels Little League Select tournament play continues with the Astros and the Bulldogs. Page SATeens arrested in connection with trailer fire support Pastor show rapport for troops by starting pen pal program with his congregation. BY THE NUMBERSCounty departments told to ‘hold the line’ in budget I loiiMi’c, soil'’ < >    t    ’ s< )iill>c r skies lorn) a i nmm ii" mix ii ive < ' ( ’ «. ’ / lo R< ii in Ii I I vc,U’.in fly C,il un, Wiiffilwiiiil .> f u I t« ll VV 11«11 i By Ron Maloney Staff Writer SPRING BRANCH—Three teenagers were taken into custody Friday after a fire of suspicious origin heavily damaged a mobile home. Comal County Fire Marshal Un Manford said the youths, boys ages 14 and 15 and a 15-year-old girl, were believed responsible for a fire that caused an estimated $35,000 in damage to a mobile home located in the 6000 block of Apache Moon. Arson of a habitation is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Manford said the youths were taken to Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Jennifer Saunders for registration. It was unknown Friday evening whether they would be detained or released to their parents. Spring Branch and Canyon Lake firefighters were dispatched to the blaze just after 4 p.m. Spring Branch Battalion Chief Danny Ray reported about one-third of the mobile home was in flames when he arrived. “The fire had vented through a window and the roof in the back,” Ray said. “We set up for a positive pressure attack and went in through the front door.” The fire was knocked down in moments, Ray said, but it caused extensive damage to the home, which was unoccupied. Firefighters spent a couple of hours ensuring it hadn’t spread below a tin roof or into voids in the structure, See BIRI, Page 3A By Leigh Jones Staff Writer See IMPRBSSION, Page 3A Killing plot suspects out on bail By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The two suspects in a murder-for-hire scheme — one the wife of a former New Braunfels police officer — posted bail. A Comal County Jail official said Friday Jonathan Gene Benavides, 30, and Samantha Kaderii Childs, 23, arrested in March on allegations of first-degree felony criminal conspiracy to commit murder, have both been released from jail. Benavides, represented by attorney Gen Peterson, posted $25,000 cash bond on his $250,000 bail and was released Wednesday Attorney Anthony Cantrell posted a $50,000 attorney bond Thursday and Childs was released. Both are pending trial in an alleged scheme to have Benavides’ ex-girlfriend killed. lf convicted, both face between five and 99 years in state prison. New Braunfels Police Department crime analyst Libby Rinehart said Friday officials were notifying the alleged victim, who lives in the Houston area, that the suspects had been released. Childs is the wife of former police officer Jeffrey Childs, who went to school with Benavides. She is alleged to have helped Benavides plan and arrange the crime. No testimony in pre-trial hearings or court documents connects Jeffrey Childs to the allegations, but he left the NBPD shortly afterward. Officials would not say whether he was released or resigned. Police Ii. John Villarreal reported hearing of the alleged plot Feb. 28 from a sergeant who was told of it by another officer. An undercover officer posing as a "hit man” approached Benavides and negotiated a fee for the planned killing. Childs was arrested March 6. Benavides was arrested March 7. 40th president left ‘lasting impression’ Retired Army Col. John Tengler only met President Ronald Reagan twice, but the commander-in-chief made a lasting impression. “ (Reagan) was a great guy,” Tengler said. “To meet him was to love him.” Tengler served in the Department of Defense during the last two years of the Carter administration and the first two years of Reagan’s. Ile said the atmosphere on Rea-gafft*rinaugurrai©». day mkfy&SL, eager anticipation. “It was like a breath of fresh air came through the Pentagon,” he said. “You could see and feel the excitement and admiration the troops had for him. He was a shot in the arm.” In anticipation of watching the coverage of Reagan’s coffin’s procession up Constitution Avenue Wednesday, Tengler said he remembered the first HOU. A N 2004 COMAL COUNTY BUDGET ■ Tax rate: 33 37 cents per $100 of assessed value ■ 2004 budget: $34 million. • General fund: $25 million, including: — Salaries, taxes and employee benefits $22 million — including a proposed 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase and 2 percent merit raises. — Operating costs: $3 million ■ Road and bridge fund: $5 million Debt service: $14 million Indigent health care: $1.1 million The remaining $1.6 million is composed of smaller, special revenue funding items ! Anticipated general fund revenues — Property taxes: $ 17.8 million — Sales taxes $3.9 million — Court fines and fees: $4.3 million. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Comal (bunty department heads will present their 2005 budget “wish lists” to auditor David Renken Monday, launching the annual budgetary process. County Judge Danny Scheel said this week he doesn’t anticipate a tax rate increase for 2005 — but issues on the horizon could contribute to one later. “I expect a normal budget year,” Scheel said. "I certainly do not anticipate a tax increase for this year since tile legislature didn’t take any action in tire special session that would come back, and affect the 2005 budget." Obvious concerns, Scheel said, would be the uncertain status of education funding and limits on counties restricting the ability to raise funding — as well as more unfunded mandates from the state or federal government. Another concern will be the possible effects of a tax freeze for the county’s seniors. In the wake of the 2002 flood, the county raised its tax rate by one cent to pay for flood damage — the county’s only tax increase in a Danny Scheel decade. Scheel said raffler than reduce that this year, he’d like to keep it to try to increase tile county's $4 million in reserves to provide a cushion, if needed for school funding reform or tile senior tax freeze. Renken said the county’s department heads have been asked uphold the line on spending and capital expenses because of uncertainties in the county’s immediate fiscal future. “We really held the line pretty significantly last year because of the unknowns,” Renken said. “We’ve been prefacing this process this year by telling them that with so many unknov/ns, such as school finance reform capping appraisals, any conservative actions we can take to position ourselves for the future is, in my opinion, pretty prudent.” Renken’s office will compile the budget wish lists into a single document that will go to Scheel and commissioners. “Sharon Ferrell and I will take a couple of weeks to compile this information and summarize it for the judge and commissioners,” Renken said. “We'll try to get it into their hands at least a week before the hearings so they can prepare.” ;