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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 24, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY June 24, 2003 12 pages in *2 sections ■m■■    12    pages    in    *2    SCCtKHerald-Zeitung Vol. 152, No. 190 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 —*L1L___J. mumm 50 centsCISD superintendent announces retirement By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Comal Independent School District Superintendent Jim Grunert announced his retirement Monday, effective Dec. 31. Grunert, who has spent 31 years in public education, and school board members denied the decision had anything to do with recent controversy over the installation of artificial turf at two schools and a failed plan to lend $482,000 in district funds to two athletic booster clubs. Grunert earns $120,000 per year in a three-year contract that expires June 30, 2006. No information was available on the details of Grunert’s contract* settlement. Grunert said he is retiring because he earned teacher retirement credits and wants to use the time to help care for his ailing parents. His father, he said, has been in a rest home for two years. “There are other things in life besides working full-time,” Grunert said. CISD spokesperson Kari Hutchison said the school board would decide in the weeks ahead how it wants to conduct the search for a new superintendent. The timing of the transition will allow a new superintendent to prepare the 2004-05 budget and be involved in the construction bidding process for a new high school. Reaction Monday from CISD trustees ranged from surprise to regret. “I’m sorry to see him go,” trustee Charles Burt said. “There’s pros and cons to everything.” Burt, who said Grunert was frustrated “with the turf and the other stuff, too,” said he thought trustees had made some recent progress with the superintendent. He praised Grunert for his organizational skills, pointing out that last year’s opening of three schools could have been a lot more chaotic than it was. Trustee Bill Swint, an outspoken opponent of Grunert’s See CISD/3A Agenda-setting proposal tabled by city council By DYLAN JIMENEZ Staff Writer New Braunfels City Council members agreed 6 to I Monday night that the procedure for pjacing items on the council agenda should be tightened. District 6 Councilman Ken Valentine was the only member who wanted to continue allowing council members unaudited access to the agenda. Currently, council members can put any item on the regular council agenda through the city manager without obtaining approval. The process will stay that way after a divided council tabled an ordinance presented by District 2 Councilman Larry Alexander. The proposal called for written support of at least three council members before an item could be placed ALEXANDER on the agenda. Alexander said he has seen a number of instances'of “grand* standing’’ by council men'hers allowed to place unsupported ideas on the agenda. The current system also results in agenda items only a few words long, lacking adequate information for council members to consider prior to meeting, said Dmtrict I Councilwoman Sonia Munoz-Gill. Council members should be responsible for providing background information on agenda items they plan to present, she said, and council should enact a system to ensure all ideas placed on the agenda are city business and have support from council to move forward in the meeting. Council agreed to take up the matter at a fut ure workshop. CISD still waiting for final 2003-04 budget By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Comal Independent School District trustees will be presented a budget plan tonight that is a carbon copy of last year’s $69.2 million fiscal plan. Business Manager Abel Campos said Monday that until he gets some direction from the school board, he would recommend that trustees use last year’s budget as a starting point for discussions. Campos will make his recommendation when the board convenes at 6 p.m. at Canyon Intermediate School. In his overview of the schtxil district’s finances. Compos will tell board members they must make some decisions about pending issues before a more complete budget plan can be presented. The board must decide what it plans to do in terms of pay raises for teachers. “I don’t know if the board wants to approve salary increases and pay them out of the general fuiki balance,’’ Campos said. A decision on pay raises is needed by July, so the district can prepare the necessary paperwork. Campos estimates about $57 million of the $69.2 million proposed budget (more than 81) percent) will bt1 spent on salaries. Ijiist year, salaries accounted for about $53 million of Se© BUDGET/3AInside Dear Abby ..............4A Classifieds.............4-6B Comics...............2B Crossword.............2B Forum................SA Movies................4A Sports...............1,4B Today.................2A Stocks................4A r MOU*‘I 00001 I Crime rate in city increases I percent over April 2002 Safe City Meeting By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Crime in the city hasn’t changed much in a year’s time, April statistics for New Braunfels show residents have little more likelihood of becoming crime victims than they had in 2(X>2. The index crime rate — the num-l)er of police calls for service involving alleged criminal acts — increased by I percent when compared to April 2002. The number of crime-related calls eased up from 3,695 to 3,759. Rates for violent crimes reported in April were similar for the two years compared. ■ In April 2002, three sexual assaults were reported in New Braunfels — the same as for April 2003. ■ Robberies dropped from three to one over the same period. ■ Assaults decreased slightly to 79 from 82. ■ No murders were reported during April either year. ■ Total numbers of burglaries decreased from 98 to 95. Burglaries of residences dropped from 21 to 13 — a change of 38 percent — while burglaries of buildings other than homes increased from ll to 17. Auto burglaries were unchanged at 60 for each year. ■ Auto thefts sharply decreased to four in April 2003, from 14 during the same month in 2003. ■ Thefts of all types increased from 95 to 118. New Braunfels Police Lt. Mike Rust, commander of the Criminal Investigation unit of the city’s police department, said crime statistics are an important investigation tool because they point out areas detectives need to watch closely. That is the case particularly in property crimes. Violent crimes, such as murder, sexual assault or assault, often happen in the heat of a dispute. When it comes to crime prevention, Rust said the best place for it to begin is at home. The Sate City Commission conducts a meeting to organize block parties for National Night Out Against Come at 7 p.m. today at the New Braunfels Law Enforcement Center, “Most crooks are opportunists. If you make it easy for them, they’ll take advantage of you," Rust said. The best protection anyone has against becoming a crime victim is a nosy neighbor, Rust said. “Get to know your neighbors so you know when something doesn’t look See CRIME/3A rn ......BBHhi .: - J GRUNERT A free lunch DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Villa Serena apartment manager Carol Sheller hands a nutritionally balanced lunch to 10-year-old Analysa Govello. Sheller and volunteers Elizabeth Bell and Maria Rodriguez, have coolers loaded with food to give to about 200 children who live in the complex. ‘No such thing as a free lunch' doesn't apply to kids at Villa Serena By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Monday was peanut butter-and-jel-ly day at the Villa Serena apartment complex located off Seguin Avenue, not far from the New Braunfels Police Department. Unlay will be turkey day. About 200 children live in the complex operated by the Housing Author1 ity of the City of New Braunfels. Half of them start trickling out of their homes a little before Ii a.m. and walking to the big, shady tree at Rosa Parks Drive and Crockett Court. There, complex manager Carol Sheller, Elizabeth Bell and Maria Rodriguez will have coolers full of food on a portable table. Monday through Friday, they feed the children a balanced meal provided by the housing authority and the San Antonio Food Bank. It is free and open to anyone up to 18 years old. Monday’s meal included carrots, a cheese stick, fruit cup and chocolate milk. But the experience can’t be measured by the food alone. It is also a social event. DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Jessica Olvera, 7, anxiously awaits her turn to get lunch at the Villa Serena apartment complex Monday. The meals are served for free to those less than 18 years old Monday through Friday. Children get to hang out with their neighbors for a little while, and some of their mothers and fathers get to talk. Sheller knows all the children and calls them by name. “Matthew, please put your bag in the trash,” she tells one. “The kids are pretty good. They know they’re expect ed to clean up after themselves, and they’re very well-behaved. I tell the bigger kids, ‘You help the smaller ones.’ They like coming here.” The volunteers put out a tarp for the children to sit on. They have an awning they also can use. On bad weather days, they can go into the preschool located at the development. “It’s wonderful,” said a mom who brought her two children over to eat. “Its a very good program for the kids,” she said, bending down to open a plastic-sealed, crust-less peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her son, J.J. ‘They love it.” A little girl walked up, carrying a bag of sweetened breakfast cereal about a quarter full. “Sweetie, where have you been?” Shelling asked. “I’ve missed you! Go get your lunch!” Nearby, Bell handed the girl a bag and stopped to help her open her sandwich. “We started doing this June 8. The first couple of days they didn’t show up See LUNCH/6A ;