New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 25, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Friday, March 25, 2011 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 5COUNTY
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Hunter Road in New Braunfels and the widening of the roadway from two lanes to four. A center median, curbs, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and storm drains will be added.
The project will stretch about 2.25 miles from 1-35 to a half-mile west of Hunter Road.
The City of New Braunfels will sign an advance funding agreement with TxDOT for the voluntary local government contributions totaling $12 million and the commissioners will enter into an interlocal agreement with the city for the county’s $6 million share of project funding.
Commissioners also approved a resolution in support of Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s Senate Bill 1110, which would give counties authority to establish minimum health and safety requirements in now-unregulated multiple-
unit rental home communities in unincorporated areas.
County officials have asked Wentworth to revise his bill so it pertains only to rentals exceeding 30 days, not to short-term rentals. The senator has agreed to seek the revision in legislative committee.
Counties can establish minimum infrastructure standards for mobile home communities, but have no authority over non-subdivided commercial operations which offer long-term rentals of cabins or lodges or other such facilities.
Unmanaged growth in Comal County has created situations where such multiple-unit rental communities do not provide adequate drainage, water supply, sanitary sewer lines or access for emergency vehicles, the commissioners’ resolution says.
Commissioner Donna Eccleston, who has been a major proponent of the legislation, said the bill would allow counties to craft local regulations "to exactly the minimums we feel are need
ed. We’re not looking for stringent oversight. We want to meet our basic obligations for health, safety and welfare.” Eccleston said she’s been pursuing such legislation because she’s received many calls from citizens concerned about such things as a development in her Precinct 1, in which 20 rental cabins were put in on an unregulated 5-acre tract.
“If you’ve got a small piece of property with 20 families living on it and the fire department can’t get back there, it’s a big concern for me. It’s a health, safety and welfare thing. It’s also a property-rights question for the people next door.”
She said neighbors can experience problems with water well contamination due to lack of sewer lines next door or excessive stormwater runoff due to the installation of impervious cover next door. Commissioners also:
• Postponed action on a proposed contract with the Haywood Baker geotechnical construction company for the
installation of a 100-foot-deep "deep wall” beneath the planned Krueger Canyon Dam on Dry Comal Creek west of New Braunfels.
“We haven’t gotten that contract fine-tuned yet, so we are just waiting until we get it fine-tuned. It will be on the agenda next week,” Kennady said.
The deep wall is one of the improvements planned to strengthen the design of the dam, which has been delayed because design concerns and other issues.
• Postponed action until next week on allocating $1,000 to cover costs for a website and travel for the justice Center Steering Committee, which has been meeting since December to investigate whether Comal County needs a larger and more secure facility for judges, juries and attorneys to do their work. A dona-tion has recently been received for the justice committee’s work, and commissioners will consider using that to fund expenses, Kennady said.PATROLS
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to Labor Day weekend, river teams of CCSO deputies will be working access points along the Guadalupe. Depending on the weekend, there will be anywhere from six to 10 deputies in the water.
"They’ll be looking for violations and making sure people are safe during their river trips,” Reynolds said.
The access points are spots on waterfront private property where land owners have given CCSO access.
“We use those strategic places to place river teams actually in the water,” he said. "They’re dressed to work in the water, and they're very visibly marked — they’re not undercover or anything.”
Reynolds works river duty on the major weekends.
“We call in all the deputies for the major weekends because of the major influx in the county, in the lake and
in the water,” he said. “Most people are very thankful that we’re there. We’re not there to disturb anybody’s fun — we’re there to make sure people stay safe so they can have a good time.”
It’s different on the river, where protecting the environment is a critical part of a deputy’s job. On the Guadalupe, they’re looking for possession of glass or Sty-rofoam — illegal on the water — as well as violations related to intoxication. It’s not a crime for an adult to have a can of beer on the river, but the escalated situations that arise from public intoxication are a matter of public safety, Reynolds said.
"To be intoxicated on the river is illegal,” he said.
“People may have too much to drink, and the next thing you know you may have some type of problem — people can’t take care of themselves, there’s some kind of flare-up, or a fight breaks out because someone’s intoxicated.”BUDGETS
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such as supply and demand for oil, refining capacity, and market speculation.”
Among NBISD’s 91-vehicle fleet are 64 buses that average 33 travel miles per day. They run on diesel and propane fuel, and the district says its budget has increased by 33 percent in the past year. Next year, the district will require athletic teams to compete within a 60-mile radius.
“We are always looking for ways to be more efficient,” Ferguson said.
Comal ISD has 215 buses and 90 maintenance vehicles that total around 18,500 miles a day. Thomas Bloxham, the
district’s assistant superintendent for support services, said the district has taken a $100,000 hit.
The last time fuel prices surged this much was in 2008. That’s when Comal ISD took steps to curb its energy use, such as consolidating bus routes and not letting vehicles idle as much.
“We’ve gone to a computerized routing system that helps us standardize our bus routes, making them more efficient by using GIS technology. But the bottom line is still picking students up and taking them to school.”
Comal ISD budgeted diesel to run at $2.75 a gallon for 2010-11. It was $2.50 when the school year began, but is now well over $3. Because it’s exempt from road taxes, the district pays about 40 fewer
cents per gallon.
“While that helps, we also use the Fuelman system, which allows our buses to buy bulk fuel at normal gas stations,” Bloxham said. “We are getting better prices because we are locked in with that system.”
But even the smallest increase in fuel can translate to big budget losses. Bloxham budgeted for 400,000 gallons of diesel this school year, but has readjusted that estimate to 430,000 gallons.
Diesel fuel, however, is something school districts can’t live without.
“The district is looking at a $20 million shortfall next year, so we’ll have to do some cutting,” Bloxham said. "Fuel is something we can’t afford to cut, but this is a line-item that I’ll probably have to increase.”
Comal ISD began upgrading its bus fleet during the last big energy hike, and die technological improvements have helped increase the district’s average miles per gallon from 5 to 11, and the buses are designed to last longer.
Because of the budget crisis, Comal won’t buy buses next year.
“No one likes their kids to be on an old bus,” Bloxham said. “But they are strictly maintained and inspected — about 100 times more than your car. We have a very safe fleet.”
Since Comal’s district encompasses about 600 square miles, it now has a maintenance hub in the western part of the county, to serv-ice Smithson Valley and Canyon Lake-area schools, he said.
“That allows the employees to start from there, which saved a lot of miles. We have satellite transportation centers at Rebecca Creek, Satder, Mountain Valley and at Smithson Valley Middle School,” he said. "We put these things all over just to spread the buses to serve the kids without having to drive as much.”
Bloxham said the district plans to have fuel depots installed at a Hill Country depot, which he says will allow bulk fuel purchases.
Also, the district will open two new elementary schools in coming years. Kinder Ranch will open in August and Indian Springs will open in August 2012. Both openings will eliminate some of the bus routes that now serve four other elementary schools in that part of the county, Bloxham said.
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TAYLOR BURIED IN PRIVATE CEREMONY
GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) — Elizabeth Taylor’s family mourned the screen legend in a brief private funeral service Thursday at a California cemetery famous for being the final resting place of Hollywood celebrities, including her good ff iend Michael Jackson.
Inside the sprawling Forest Lawn Cemetery, barricades blocked access to the funeral, where about four dozen family members mourned the actress during a service that lasted about an hour, said Glendale police spokesman Tom Lorenz. Five black stretch limousines transported Taylor’s family to and from the funeral, but no procession was held.
Taylor died Wednesday of congestive heart failure while surrounded by her children at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.JOIN IDE YMCA TODAY!
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