New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 1, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 149 No. 74
2 sections March I, 2000
Serving Comal County since 1852
Walnut Avenue alternatives put on hold
By Peri Stone-Palmquist
New Braunfels City Council won’t consider alternatives to widening Walnut Avenue until after the bond election, Mayor Stoney Williams said.
“If it fails, then maybe we’ll look into alternatives,” he said.
And that’s fine with Carolyn Burrow, one of several residents who asked council at the Feb. 14 meeting to try alternatives before the election.
“I don’t want to rush something,” Burrow said.
Previously, Burrow and others said the city should try making Walnut and Hickory one-way streets before the election so the public could make an informed vote May6.
On May 6, residents will vote on a $7.5 million proposition to buy 33 properties on the south side of Walnut and expand the street into four lanes with one continuous turn lane.
Trying an alternative before the election would be rushed, Burrow said this past week, and could be unsafe.
“People wouldn’t have adequate notification,” she said.
City manager Mike Shands said the city wouldn’t have enough time to put up any traffic lights before the election either.
“You could do it with stop signs,” he said. “But you’d have gridlock.”
Traffic light installation takes at
least two months, Shands said.
First, the Texas Department of Transportation must study the issue and look at the traffic count and number of accidents. This study can take two to three months, and if it does qualify, a light could take up to 18 months to be installed.
But to really see whether the oneway plan would work, the city would need lights at Business 35 and San Antonio Street, Shands said.
“Stop signs alone wouldn’t give a good indication,” he said.
TxDOT resident engineer Greg Malatek said he didn’t necessarily agree.
“It’s best to have it up and running first and then do a signal study,” he said.
A one-way Hickory might not need traffic lights, he said.
“Folks might decide to take another route,” he said. “It’d be tough to do the study unless (the two oneway streets were) up and running. We could guess — but it’d be hard to tell right now.”
Malatek said he wasn’t for or against the one-way idea.
“It could be confusing, which is a strong consideration. There would have to be enough signage,” he said. “But it could be done.”
Williams said he personally didn't think two one-way roads were the answer to Walnut’s congestion.
But others at the Feb. 14 council meeting disagreed.
Fred Willard said, “For saving $7
million or more, we as citizens of New Braunfels should be perfectly happy traveling on a one-way road. It’s easier than taking homes.”
John Phelan said the one-way alternative was wise and less expensive.
“One-way streets would open up a long-term solution,” he said. “It’ll take some re-programming. But I’m willing to take that chance — to get a ticket going the wrong way on a one-way street.”
Burrow, a lifelong resident of New Braunfels, told council she didn’t believe Walnut’s traffic was really so bad. And as more development occurred along Loop 337, fewer people would need to drive through town, she said.What’s Up
• The New Braunfels City Council will not look at alternatives to widening Walnut Avenue until after the May 6 bond election.
• In the election, residents will vote on a $7.5 million proposition to buy 33 properties to expand the street into four lanes with one continuos turn lane.
Wall files for city council position
By Peri Stone-Palmquist
Mary Cameron Wall said she filed for the District 4 New Braunfels City Council seat because she was interested in the issues facing the city — drainage, river cleanup and preservation of downtown.
Wall, 35, director of managed care at Alamo City Medical Group, filed Monday for the seat, currently filled by Jan Koty-lo. Her campaign treasurer is her brother, Joe Cameron.
Wall joins retired architect Robert Kendrick and life insurance agent Dave Pryor in the District 4 race.
Kotylo said she would not seek reelection to allow more time for grandchildren and volunteer work.
Filing for District 3 and 4 started Feb. 22 at the New Braunfels Municipal Building. 424 S. Castell Ave., and ends March 22. The election is May 6.
Early voting begins on April 19 and ends on May 2.
District 4 includes the northeast New Braunfels area, including Gruene, the Loop 337 and Common Street area and the Loop 337 and River Road area. District 4 is bordered by Interstate 35 to the east, the MKT railroad to the west and the New Braunfels city limits just north of Farm-to-Market Road 306.
“My goal is to represent the district to the fullest and easure all citizens and
Key Code 76
Sensing the heat
$18,000 camera cuts smoke screens, reveals source of fires
New Braunfels Fire and Rescue's Lf. Keith Hoegenauer was among those training on the thermal imaging unit. He and others learned to “see” hot spots and recognize various hidden hazards.
By Peri Stone-Palmquist
A floppy Buzz Lightyear doll from the movie “Toy Story” has been tucked behind a mattress in a smoky room, his neon green cape pulled over his head like a flag.
The room is pitch black and even a firefighter with the keenest sense of eyesight would miss Buzz’s sign of surrender — his desperate call to be found.
But firefighter after firefighter finds the doll anyway Tuesday, despite the smoke, darkness and unfamiliar rooms.
Their trick? A new $18,000 thermal imaging camera that allows them to see through smoke and pinpoint the source of a fire — timesaving technology that could save lives and reduce property damage.
Although the pricey camera has been around for about IO years, New Braunfels City Council just approved the expenditure this past summer and approved a bid from Hoyt Breathing Air Products in November. Fire and Rescue officials received the camera about a month ago but started training on it this past week. •
Stacie Zercher, lieutenant in charge of the training division, said she set up the training like a scavenger hunt.
“We’re trying to make this fun,” she said.
Rescue workers receive training individually and must navigate through several dark rooms in the old police department, 111 Garden Street, using the thermal imaging camera.
Zercher placed three heating pads in the rooms, as well as the Buzz Lightyear doll.
“Whoever finds all three heating pads and the doll safely and in the quickest amount of time gets a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream,” Zercher said. “And I buy that myself.”
The idea is to familiarize the department with the new technology, which
works by detecting infrared radiation emitted by objects of different temperature.
“The hotter it is, the clearer and brighter the image,” Zercher said.
Captain Ray Hacker, who helped research the camera, said it shows the difference between a tenth of a I degree.
“It’s pretty impressive,” he said.
And it has the capability to help save lives and homes.
Normally, firefighters enter a home, get down on hands and knees and follow the right wall to search for a victim, Zercher said.
“The problem with that is you can miss some rooms,” she said. “Sometimes you’ll have to go back and do a left-handed search. And that can take a long time.”
K. Jessie Slaten/Herald-Zeitung
NB Fire and Rescue Lt. Keith Hoegenauer (above) looks through the department’s new thermal imaging unit. The device allows fire and rescue crews to search for victims in smokey environments by registering body heat as white light on the view-screen. At left is how an image appears on the screen.
The camera allows a rescue worker to scan a room first and identify any people. Without the camera, these same people wouldn’t be visible.
“This can take five minutes, instead of 20,” Zercher said.
Battalion Chief Frank Gonzales said the camera could mean the difference between life and death for a fire victim.
“The camera has paid for itself if it saves one life,” he said.
In addition, the camera could help New Braunfels Fire and Rescue save a home or minimize fire-related damage.
“We get a lot of calls for the smell of smoke,” Gonzales said.
Before, firefighters had to guess the location of the smoke’s source. “Now, we can just shine the camera on the ceiling,” he said. “The whitest spot is the source.”
This kind of capability could prevent a fire, he said.
Zercher said another problem the department experienced frequently was attic fires.
“Instead of pulling up the ceiling, the camera can pinpoint the source of the fire,” she said.
This could save homeowners thou
sands of dollars in repairs, she said.
The camera also allows firefighters to ^pick out hot spots — even if the flames aren’t visible. 9 “You can’t see the flames if the fire is in the walls or on the other side of the wall,” Zercher said. “But with this, you can see the spot of the heat.”
The department also can use the camera to help with night searches for lost people, although the camera does not see through water.
In addition, a TV will be mounted in the battalion chief’s car and will display the view from the camera, allowing rescue officials to keep close tabs on a fire’s progress.
“Maybe they’ll see something that the firefighter doesn’t,” Zercher said.
Hacker agreed the new camera should speed up searches.
“But this doesn’t replace old techniques,” he said. “The battery could go out or it could malfunction.”
Instead of replacing tried and true rescue methods, the camera should enhance rescue efforts, Chief Jack Collier said.
“This is going to revolutionize our work,” he said.