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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 27, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels WEDNESDAY June 27, 2001 14 pages in 2 sections """'BV’"    pages    in    2    sectnHerald-Zeitung L_................................ —..... .............. .....:. -y •. .r J........y •• • -' '•' "!U"—' “ :. •' ; 11—•——■-- 1 ...............‘ ■ ■■■■.«—1—■— ..........'________I*.........wr...A............^......n 2 ................................ .JL .............. ........* .. . ! ' ? ' Vol. 150, No. 195 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 _ 50 cents CISD trustees vote 4-2 to hire Grunert CHRIS PACE/Herald-ZeitungThe Comal Independent School District Board of Trustees discusses hiring a superintendent Monday night. By Martin Malacara Staff Writer The Comal Independent School District will have a new superintendent starting July I. At the district’s board of trustees meeting Tuesday, trustees approved hiring Jim Grunert. Grunert, who is the superintendent of Cleburne ISD through Sunday, has signed a three year, $117,000 contract with Comal ISD. “We’re real excited about being here. Now we see which high school gets the two Grunert kids,” he said. Grunert also said his focus is not primarily on finances but on students. “If we do that, we’ll be in great shape,” he said. Trustees Charles Burt, John Clay, Der- ald LaRue and Nick Nichols voted for Grunert. Trustees John Bertelsen and Dora Gonzales voted against hiring him. Trustee Dan Krueger was out of town on business and could not attend the meeting. Grunert replaces Jerry Major, who left the district in February to become superintendent for the Waco School District.See GRUNERT/5A Fighting fire with caution Marshal: Weekend rains could bring more fire danger later Fire lips- By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Recent rainfall might have reduced the fire risk, but Comal County Fire Marshal Lin Manford says no one should be complacent. - Weekend Play it safe with fireworks/ 4A rains that dumped 3 inches of water on parts of the region _ have    reduced the immediate risk of fire, Manford said, but rainfall is a double-edged sword when it comes to fire prevention. While it moistens the ground, it also causes grasses and other vegetation to grow and creates fuel for fire later in the hot, dry summer. Manford said caution should be the watchword, even though no burn ban has been called for unincorporated county areas. “We’d have been in a world of hurt if we hadn’t had that rain,” Manford said. The No. I cause of fires in Texas is controlled burns that get out of control, Manford said. More than 41 percent of all fires started that way in 1998 and 1999. Arson, the second-largest cause, was responsible for 21 percent of fires. “We’re fixing to get into grass fire season,” Manford said. “The major cause of wildfires is debris burning — these ‘controlled burns.’ People get out there and say, ‘This isn’t going to happen to me.’ They get complacent.” Local fire agencies have responded to several small grass fires in recent days, even with the reduced risk brought on by recent rain. Assistant Fire Marshal Darren Brinkkoeter said Canyon Lake Fire/EMS had a fire call Tuesday morning to help a resident who had set a controlled burn too close to a home. Comal County officials are working to educate people on fire safety tips and increase fire awareness or make people “firewise,” Brinkkoeter said. Burning is not allowed in New Braunfels, city officials say. CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Assistant County Fire Marshal Darren Brinkkoetter updates one of the “Smokey the Bear" fire signs in Comal County. lf you must burn debris, the U.S. Forest Service recommends the following precautions: • Check with local officials to ensure a bum ban is not in effect. Burning debris within New Braunfels city limits is illegal. Currently, there is no burn ban in effect in Comal County. • Postpone outdoor burning when possible, until after rain or in damp weather. • When debris burning is permitted, establish a wide clear area down to bare, mineral soil. • Burn trash in a burn barrel or other fire-safe receptacle covered with mesh to contain burning debris. • Always have a supply of water readily available to fight the fire if it gets out of control. • Always stay with a fire until it is completely extinguished. • Also, be sure address numbers are clearly displayed in 3-inch letters at the road or on mailboxes so fire and rescue people can readily respond to a call for help. Officials urge folks to leave ‘Smokey’ alone By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Everybody loves Smokey the Bear. But a few folks apparently thought so much of him that they stole his likeness three times this past summer in Comal County — twice in Startzville and once from Tbxas 46 and U.S. 281 in Bulverde. The other two Smokey signs are on the front of the Bracken fire station on Farm-to-Market Road 3009 and at FM 306 and Hunter Road. Anybody who does not think stealing one of Comal County’s Smokey the Bear signs is a big deal could ask an 18-year-old Canyon Lake man who was convicted for stealing one at the “Y” between Startzville and Sattler this past summer. He paid its $300 replacement cost and another nearly $300 in court costs and will pay $480 in supervision fees during the month he spends on probation in connection with the case. Comal County Fire Marshal Lin Manford said he hoped this year would not be a repeat. The signs were an idea of Darren Brinkkoeter, the assistant county fire marshal. “The reason we started the program is I was driving through New Mexico, and they had these signs at the parks warning of the fire danger,”See SMOKEY/3A Other council action/3A Gruene Road plans cost more than budget By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer If New Braunfels decides to repair, repave and place drainage systems along Gruene Road, the cost could go as high as $4.1 million. - Steve    Schultz, of Schultz Group Inc., told New Braunfels City Council Monday that the city had three options for Gruene Road — and all three cost more than _ the    $2.6    million the city had budgeted. ‘The second option is to reconstruct half the section of road and overlay half a section, from Post to Common,” Schultz said. “We’d leave the other side alone. But we have to reconstruct in order to put a hike and bike trail in.” That option, Schultz said, would cost about $3.8 million. The third option — to repair the full width from Common to Sunnybrook, but repairing nothing from Common to Post on Gruene Road — would cost $3.1 million. Council decided to allow Councilman Robert Kendrick, City Engineer Mike Short and Schultz to reach an agreement about what can be done within the city’s budget. The city has $10 minion in certificates of obligation from the Infrastructure/Improvement Corporation for street projects. The five projects — including the one on Gruene — will repair some of the city’s major drainage projects. Texas Department of Transportation grants for hike and bike trails might offset some of the cost, City Manager Mike Shands said. Focusing the scope of the project might also change the cost, he said.Merchants, residents want say in design By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer Gruene homeowners and merchants want a say in designing the new and improved Gruene Road. The merchants told New Braunfels City Council Monday they were concerned about maintaining the historic atmosphere in Gruene, while homeowners cited worries about street safety. Cecil Eager, a member of the merchant’s association, said, “We moved here six years ago, and we’re fortunate enough to buy the Gruene Mansion Inn. And we think that Gruene has its own special charm. Gruene’s heart and soul is that it looks old. Its not supposed to be modern.”See DESIGN/3A NBISD trustees approve new fees for students By Ron MaloneyStaff Writer New Braunfels Independent School District trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to impose $20 fees on students who ride school busses to extracurricular activities or use district instruments to participate in band. The fees will be $5 annually for students whose families are on the federal programs that provide free or reduced meals. A liberal payment plan also will be offered as part of the package voted on by trustees Tuesday evening to ensure that no student in the NBISD is excluded from band or other activities by See FEES/5A ummmmInside Abby................................5A Classifieds.......................4-6B Comics..............................2B Crossword........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies.................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................7-8A Key Code 76  rrr—TT PM 725 opening to four lanes soon By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Farm-to-Market Road 725 will open up to four lanes within about a month, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation reported Tuesday. But the southbound Interstate 35 exit at FM 725 was closed for the duration of the project Tuesday, and access to the northbound FM 725 entrance ramp was restricted. TxDOT Area Engineer Greg Malatek updated members of the business community on the road construction schedule during a meeting sponsored by the business and transportation committees of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce Inc. Malatek, TxDOT officials and representative of the Dean Word and Deavers construction companies talked about the progress of the projects now under way on Interstate 35 — and what residents and businesses can expect in the coming years. ‘The best way to prepare is to know what’s going on and what’s coming down See FM 725/3A ;