New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 30, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas
_ BIST AVAILABLE COPY SATURDAYNew Braunfels june 30,2001
16 pages in 2 sections
* pages in 2 secticHerald-Zeitung
Vol. 150, No. 198Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852
Emissions test price could delay air quality plan
By Martin Malacara
A little breathing room in the price for future vehicle emissions testing has the new vice chairman of the Air Improvement Resources Committee bemused.
County Commissioner Jay Minikin said he is not sure if a recent change of heart by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation to be more flexible with a $22.50 emissions testing fee is a good thing or bad thing.
Minikin believes a delay in deciding the final cost in the fee could delay his efforts to win approval from area governmental bodies to support clean air initiatives.
“We cannot be going into Comal County requesting resolutions on something if we
don’t know the cost,” Minikin said.
Minikin met with AIR committee members this week in San Antonio to discuss the current status on the committee’s Ozone or 03 Flex Plan.
The 03 Flex Plan is an overall plan to clean up air around the San Antonio metro-pohtan area.
It would require mandatory annual emissions testing for all vehicles registered in Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe and WUson counties.
The emissions testing fee would bring the cost of vehicle inspection from $12.50 to $35.
The problem with the emissions fee rests with TNRCC, the Department of Public Safety and the inspection station industry.
Those in the inspection station industry worry the fee isn’t high enough to recover costs for purchasing necessary equipment to run emissions tests.
“We want the industry to run the program and have it market driven. But we must have enough participation,” said Charissa Barnes, vice president of Official Inspection Stations, based in San Antonio.
Barnes said if the fee were too high, inspection stations might lose their customer base for other services such as routine car maintenance.
AIR, a committee of the Alamo Area Council of Governments, recommended in April the use of a special vehicle emissions test to help
GBRA, Schertz talk agreement
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Take a trip through Texas history. Visit Jefferson./Sunday In the Herald-Zeitung
By Amy Clarkson
The Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority hopes to reach an agreement with the city of Schertz to avoid dumping treated wastewater into the Dry Comal Creek.
The GBRA has asked the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission for a permit to dump treated effluent into the Dry Comal Creek from a planned second wastewater treatment plant at the Northcliffe subdivision.
Schertz, New Braunfels Council
woman Juliet Watson and local resident Burke Harrison have asked the TNRCC for a contested case hearing regarding the permit.
Originally, TNRCC commissioners planned to rule on Schertz’s request for a contested case hearing in July. The TNRCC recently delayed hearing the permit request until Sept. 12, to allow the parties to reach an agreement, said Debbie Magin, director of water quality service for GBRA.
“The plant hasn’t been built yet,” Magin said. “And we hope to reach an agreement with Schertz to have no See AGREEMENT/5A
Redistricting committee to discuss precincts
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
Comal County’s redistricting committee will consider a new set of commissioners’ precinct boundaries when it meets on July 18.
Because of growth in southern and western Comal County, populations have shifted since the 1990 census.
The precincts are being redrawn to make the populations as equal as possible, as required under
What’s Up -
What: County redistricting committee meeting.
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 18.
Why: To consider new county political districts
Where: Commissioners’ Courtroom, third floor, Comal County
the Voting Rights Act.
Cristina Zamora’s Precinct 3, which includes much of New Braunfels, will grow from about 12,600 residents in 1990 to about 19,400 under the current configuration.
Zamora’s district is also the most-heavily Hispanic of the county’s four. In 1990, it was 59 percent Hispanic; the total minority population was 62 percent.
In redistricting, Precinct 3 will become 54 percent Hispanic.
Going into redistricting, Zamora’s district was the smallest in the county in terms of population, running some 20 percent below Pct. 2 Commissioner Jay Minikins which was more than 21,000.
Zamora said Thursday she thought the county, its demographer and consultant, David Guinn, who also handled the 1990 redistricting, had done a good job.
“I’m very satisfied with the outcome,” she said. “I really sincerely think they have done a great job,” Zamora said.
Other redistricting work
Comal County also is looking to shuffle the numbers of its justice of the peace and constable precincts to streamline voting and reduce voter confusion.
The county, New Braunfels and the two local school districts have worked to match up district, precinct and school district voting boundaries as closely as possible.
In early voting, school district, city and county ballots are all cast in the first floor of the county courthouse.
The new numbering will do that in county districts, although school district trustee precincts, fire districts and city precincts will not all line up with their county counterparts.
Right now, for example, a Comal County resident who lives in Pct. I Commissioner Jack Dawson’s district could have Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Fred Stewart or Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Howard Smith.
The constable in Dawson’s district is Pct. 4
State tells county it needs 18 more jailers
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
Comal County is hiring 18 new jail officers after learning the local jail is short-staffed based on state jail standards.
Jail Chief Administrator David Ott told commissioners the 18 new officers would cost the county nearly half a million dollars each year.
The $233,000 to pay for the unbudgeted positions for the remainder of this year will come out of the county’s general fund
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards, which regulates and sets guidelines for lockups in this state, inspected Comal County Jail this month at Ott’s request.
Ott said he realized he had manpower issues at the jail shortly after he became chief in January.
“I kind of felt like we were short-handed when I took over,” Ott said. “I thought we needed maybe seven more officers.”
But Ott said the staffing shortfall never threatened the safety of his facility.
“Yes, the jail’s safe. We’re above the state standards in many areas. They require hourly security checks; we do them on the half-hour. They require half-hour checks of potentially suicidal inmates; we do them every 15 dnutes,” Ott said.
This past year, Comal County enlarged the jail. Ott said he believed the staffing shortfall did not come to light because of a misinterpretation of standards regarding the number of “floor” officers.
A “floor” officer is an officer who works in a cellblock or on a jail “floor,” actually engaged in the business of guarding prisoners.
Not included in that state standard are administrators, bonding officers, visitation officers, work crew supervisors or others assigned to the jail who had been counted by jail officials, Ott said.
“In the past, we were looking at all jail officers, and some assigned to the jail were used in these other areas of the building,” Ott said.
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Above, Sheriff’s Department Turnkey Marianna Neuse (right) and Corrections Officer Angela Kruse work in the control room overlooking three different halls of jail cells. Right, jail Chief Administrator David Ott, standing, discusses jail issues with Cpl. Bruce Jones Friday afternoon at the jail.
Comal County Jail now has 341 beds and 47 floor officers, 16 of whom are on duty per shift. The new hires will raise the roster to 65 correctional floor officers — and add three or four per shift to the 16 now on duty in the jail.
“When you say 18 officers, it sounds like a lot,” Ott said. “But what it amounts to is three, sometimes four per shift, around the clock, seven days a week, when you consider time off and holidays.”
The number of officers a jail requires
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Mike Starnes (left) clips the flex-face ROAM sign to its frame as George Carrillo steadies the basket against the wind Friday morning. The market is under construction on Interstate 35.