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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 20, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels FRIDAY June 20, 2003 14 pages in 2 sections ■SHV* mmmmmrn    14    pages    in    2    sectKHerald-Zeitung .'V- ■ \ -    />    sr    t \ —  ^________ HHHUi Vol. 152, No. 187 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Know the water before diving in TODAY: Safety on the county’s rivers. SATURAY: Boating, kayaking, jet skiing safety issues. By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer Basic safety is essential in any body of water, but there are dangers specific to rivers tubers and rafters should know. “No matter if it’s your backyard in a small or large pool or in a river or lake setting, you always want to keep your personal safety first,” New Braunfels Park Director Iris Neffendorf said. The most important safety issue is familiarity with the body of water one is in, officials said. “Particularly, rivers and lakes change minute by minute, second by second,” Neffendorf said. “You may have gone down a river or stream a hundred times prior, and each will be different.” Floods have changed depths, gorged holes and changed currents on the river, said State Game Warden Kathleen Stuman, who works the rivers in Comal County. Zero Rivers, of Rockin’ R River Rides, said the Comal is generally steadier than the Guadalupe and has fewer rapids. The low-water crossing near the tube chute can cause problems, and the chute itself is not for everyone, Neffendorf said. There are a number of troublesome spots on the Guadalupe at each of the four River Road crossings, near Loop 337 and several See DANGERS/4A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Tabatha Reeves goes over a waterfall at Hueco Springs while tubing the Guadalupe River Thursday. Guide maps list dangerous spots on the rivers. CASTEEL Session could impact county By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer State Rep. Carter Casteel, R - N e w Braunfels, isn’t surprised Gov. Rick Perry called the Texas Leg-islature back for a special session on con-gressional redistricting. “They’ve been talking about dealing with redistricting for quite some time,” Casteel said. The 30-day special session begins June 30. It would be the state’s first since then-Gov. Ann Richards called one on public education in late 1992. Casteel said redistricting could affect Comal County, but its too early too tell. “We’re probably going to be one of many counties in somebody’s district. I suspect we’re going to stay with Lamar Smith,” Casteel said. She said its also possible the county could be divided into two congressional districts. “In other words, part of our population could support one congressman’s district and part of our population could support another,” she said. In that case, one part would still be represented by Smith and the other by U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio. Casteel said the current congressional maps were drawn by the Legislature in 1991, when it was controlled by the Democrats. Democrats were manipulating the system, Casteel said. “There was quite a bit of See REDISTRICTING^ Mr. Schneider’s Opas Caricature artist’s buttons a humorous Wurstfest tradition I K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Wurstfest Association Promotions and Advertising Director Herb Skoog sits for a caricature portrait by artist Harry Schneider of San Antonio. Schneider has been drawing the “Big Grandfather” buttons since 1987. By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer If you see someone wearing a button during Wurstfest that has a caricature of a man’s face crowned in a feathered German hat, chances are it’s a “Grosse Opa’’ button. Herb Skoog, promotions and advertising director for Wurstfest, has almost every one of them. He’s also well versed in the history of the buttons, which _ became a tradition in 1987. From the very beginning of the popular German festival, contest roy-alty was named. “Miss Loverwurst” and a “Baloney King” would meet the public and interact with the media to promote Wurstfest, Skoog said. After the Wurstfest Association decided to have a Grosse Opa, or “big grandfather,” officials met with San Antonio-based caricature artist Harry Schneider. Schneider has set up a drawing booth at Wurstfest caricature for around 30 years. Wurstfest officials convinced Schneider to become f you wear a but ton, everybody you run into is going to see it and know about it. } ? HERB SKOOG Wurstfest promotions and advertising director the official caricature artist of the Grosse Opa, starting with 1987’s honoree, Garroll Hoffmann. Since then, Schneider has drawn for free a cartoon-like image of every Grosse Opa, complete with exaggerated features and comical distortions. It’s all in good fun, but there have been a couple of Grosse Opas who were not pleased with their carica- _ tures,    Skoog said. Most take Schneider’s drawings in stride. After all, Skoog said, the drawings are not supposed to be flattering 111. in pictures. For 16 years, the Grosse Opa has distributed the buttons to local friends, strangers, to organizations coming to Wurstfest, at school activities where he meets the students, and in Fredericksburg during “A Night in Old Fredericksburg” For a while, some Grosse Opas had their own wooden nickels bearing their caricatures. Others had their drawings placed on refrigerator magnets. See CARICATURES^ That doesn’t look really like me — does it? Some of Wurstfest’s “Big Grandfathers” weigh in on what’s it’s like to immortalized on a button. I said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I was that handsome™ — BENNY ENGEL 1999 Grosse Opa “Any resemblance is purely coincidental.” — FRITZ WELSCH 1991 Grosse Opa “As if we don’t look funny enough in our costumes." — JOE KUEHLER 2001 Grosse Opa It looks more like me than I thought.” — JOE ROGERS 1990 Grosse Opa “The first one was so bad it was pitiful.” - LEROY BOENIG 1992 Grosse OpaInside Dear Abby...............5A Classifieds..............4-8B Comics...............2B Crossword.............2B Forum................6A Movies................5A Sports...............1,4B Today.................2A Stocks...........  —    5A 56825 00001 Al R QUAL I T YHealth Alert The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Alamo Area Council of Governments has declared today an Air Quality Health Alert Day. ■ Reduce unnecessary vehicle driving ■ Carpool if possible or combine all errands into one trip ■ Avord use of “drive through* lanes or services ■ Don't refuel during daylight ■ Avoid use of gas-powered yard equipment ■ Avoid exterior painting Pollution levels are posted online at: County cautious heading into budget process Budget time By Ron Maloney Staff Writer As Comal County ramps up to prepare its 2004 operating budget, County Judge Danny Scheel warned Thursday that this will be a lean budget year. But the county will not need to lay off employees, and Scheel said he would do everything possible to avoid a tax increase. Scheel repeatedly has asked county department heads to hold the line on spending at 2003 levels and to not add new employees. “I know it’s going to be a tough year,” Scheel said. Seeing the budget strain the City of New Braunfels was under this year has gave Scheel cause for caution. “I’ve watched the city go through their budget proceedings, and their tax rate and their budget historically has been similar to ours. I know when we see all the figures, it’s going to be similar to the city’s situation,” Scheel said. However, Scheel said the county will not look to layoffs to balance its budget, and it is too early to talk about a tax increase. “I don’t even want to think about a tax increase until I’ve seen the figures,” Scheel said. “I would consider dipping into reserves before asking for another tax increase if I feel it will not jeopardize our financial position.” He said he wants to bolster the county’s reserve funds through low-interest certificates of obligation. The available interest rates are about 3.5 percent, Scheel said. He would like to maintain $4 million in reserve. See BUDGET/4A ■ July 1 — County budget proposals prepared. ■ July 14-17 — Budget hearings conducted. ■ July 21-25 —Plans finalized. ■ Aug. 4 — Proposed tax rate published. ■ Aug. 7 — Budget presented to commissioners and filed with county clerk. ■ Aug. 28 — Budget adopted; public hearing on tax rate conducted. ■ Sept. 11 — Tax rate set. ■ Sept. 18 — Approved 2004 budget filed with county clerk LIFE savers 2-part series ;