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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 3, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas VIVNew Bflbysb'ELSHerald-1 Water Restrictions ■ Landscape watering is allowed from midnight to 10 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to midnight one day per week. Residents with a last digit of 4 or 5 can water today. U C f I . JNG ........:.............~......... v    -’T'1'-............... ... : ■ . .. : . ■  _ I ..WW.,..,    I    ....    ...un Vol, 149 No. 118    18    pages    in    2    sections    May    3,    2000 Wednesday Serving Comal County since 1852 50 Appraisals out, values up Residents face tax hike, with or without bond election By Ron Maloney and Heather Todd Staff Writers The newest notices of appraised value began arriving Tuesday in the mailboxes of owners of about half the property in the Comal Appraisal District. Locally — with seven bond proposi tions worth $65 million on Saturday’s city ballot— the timing was probably less than favorable to proposition supporters. Everyone who gets a notice this week will be facing the plain unpleasant reality that their taxes will go up this year — no matter how they vote. Mayor Stoney Williams acknowledged that the timing of the property appraisals just days before the bond election could be detrimental to the bond propositions. “It’s not the best timing right now in terms of the bond propositions because these things are needed and I think people will rethink them now. But, it’s good for people to know their property values and how each proposition is going to affect them,” he said. Williams said he thought the reappraisals could make some people reconsider their votes on some bond items. “I am sure it will make some people rethink how they how they vote on things like the activity center or the pool,” he said. “If people think we need these things, then I don’t think it will affect their decision. But anything they think of as a perk, I believe they will rethink it a lot more.” City Manager Mike Shands said he didn’t believe the appraisal notices will have a significant impact on how residents vote in the May 6 election. “There have been about 2,000 early voters and I would say it’s likely most people have already made up their minds about the bonds and how they are going to vote. It’s obviously not going to affect those who have already voted and I don’t think it’s going to greatly affect those who are waiting to vote,” Shands said. The timing of the notices is set by Texas See VALUES/5A How TO DISPUTE AN APPRAISAL Appeal within 30 days — before May 31 — by calling the Comal Appraisal District at 625-8597 to request an appointment with an appraiser or the Appraisal Review Board. Formal requests for an appointment with the ARB can be mailed to the Comal Appraisal District at 178 E. Mill St. 78130.Props. 5 & 6 seen as long overdue By Heather Todd Staff Writer Supporters of a $2.63 million sports complex and a $7.25 million activity center say building better recreational facilities would be a sound investment in the future of New Braunfels. Voters will decide at the polls Saturday whether they want to make that investment — one that could, if both propositions were approved, raise the current 31 -cent per $ I OO valuation tax rate by more than 6 cents. In addition, council could decide to raise the property tax rate to help fund maintenance and operations of the facilities. Prop. 5 would fund a sports complex with athletic fields and Prop. 6 would fund an activity center, including an indoor Olympic swimming pool and gymnasium. Many parents and volunteers say the facilities would significantly improve the state of youth recreational facilities in New Braunfels — improvements that are long overdue, they say. David Feltmann, a board member of New Braunfels Youth Sports, Inc., said existing facilities were inadequate. “On the soccer fields, we have so many kids out there we’re wearing out the grass,” he said. More than 400 girls who play softball haul water to their fields and play only during the day because they don’t have lighted fields, said Randy Heinbaugh with the Girls Softball League. Hundreds more kids who love basketball or volleyball vie for gym space so tight that programs remain limited. Feltmann said expanded recreational facilities would give more youth in the area the opportunity to participate in athletics. A location for either facility has not yet been determined and won’t be until after the election. If approved, the sports complex would raise the current 31 -cent per $ I OO valuation tax rate 1.7 cents. A resident owning a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay about $17 more in taxes or $330 a year, instead of $313. If the activity center is approved, it would require a 4.7-cent increase on die current tax rate. That would cost the resident of a home with a taxable value of $ 100,000 about $47 See YOUTH/5A‘Hope Floats’ in Gruene K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Jamie Madison, above, holds up the last unrolled T-shirt for Saturday’s Hope Floats in Texas Walk/Float in Gruene. Jamie suffers from A T, and even helping roll tee shirts gets her a little tired. Below, family and friends help prepare T-shirts and goody-bags for the benefit. Tubers look to raise money, awareness From Staff Reports More than 2,000 of the tubers floating down the Guadalupe River Saturday will enjoy the sunshine and a good time in the cool water but that won’t be all — or even the most important thing — they came for. They’ll be looking to raise $100,000 in the fourth annual “Hope Floats in Texas” — and to raise awareness of the debilitating and fatal childhood disease ataxia telangiectasia. A-T combines symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cancer, cystic fibrosis and immune system dysfunction. Saturday’s activities will be hosted by Dave and Amy Madison of Schertz and their children, Braun, 19, Jamie, 17 and Andy, 13, at Rockin’ R River Rides as part of a nationwide effort to benefit the A-T Children’s Project. All three Madison children have been diagnosed with A-T. ‘“Hope Floats in Texas’ is important for the A-T Children’s Project as a fund-raiser, but it’s just as important because it helps others to find us — and can help them gain an early diagnosis,” said Amy Madison, director of Hope Floats in Texas and for the A-T Children’s Project. Events this weekend include a Friday night “Camp for a Cure,” in which church youth groups will set up tents and enjoy an evening of music and campfires. “It’s a nice mission trip,” Madison said. Saturday, things begin at 8:30 a.m. and include the only river float for charity in Texas, a two-kilometer walk through scenic and historic Gruene and an auction of items including a late model car, sports celebrity items, vacations and more. Registration for the walk ($15) or the float ($25) includes a free meal with a T-shirt. On hand will be San Antonio radio personality Sonny Melendrez, recording artists Carmen Clark and Jill Jones and the Lone Star Chorale and the Wimberley Volunteer Fireants. Sponsors include Rockin’ R River Rides, Wal-Mart/Sam’s, H-E-B, Southwest Airlines, Schlitterbahn, State Bank and Trust, Lion’s Club, WB35 TV, VFW, Physical Therapy Unlimited & Health and Fitness Colter, Realty Executives, V&V Sausage and Linda Alexander-Century 21 Realty.Low rainfall threat to rec GB RA reduces river flows By Erin Magruder Staff Writer Despite recent rainfall, outfitters are worried that thousands of water-hungry tourists might be walking instead of floating their way down the Guadalupe River Memorial Day weekend. Because of scarce rainfall coupled with a recent drastic decrease in inflows to Canyon Reservoir, the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority implemented Sunday a drought provision that reduces downstream flows to conserve stored water for future use, OBRA officials said. The provision allows GBRA to reduce flows from Canyon Reservoir from the required 90 cubic feet per second minimum to 60 cfs when inflows to the lake average less than 90 cfs for a period of 45 days, GBRA spokeswoman Judy Gardner. The conservation measures will remain in place until the reservoir gets enough rainfall to return Canyon Lake back to the conservation level, which is 909 feet above mean sea level. The last time GBRA invoked the drought release provision for Canyon Reservoir was in May 1996 — at which point the conservation measures remained in place until fall, Gardner said. As of Monday, Canyon Lake measured 905.4 feet above mean sea level. But if the drought continues until summer — as many have predicted — the impact on the local recreational industry could be significant, said Paul Rich, vice president of the Water Oriented Recreation District and owner of Mountain Breeze outfitter and campground in New Braunfels. “If we don’t get any rainfall or any water help from GBRA, we might as well shut the doors down...because you can’t recreate at 60 cfs,” Rich said. GBRA manager Bill West will address concerns and discuss the drought provisions at 5 p.m. Thursday at a special WORD meeting at the Tye Preston Memorial Library meeting room, 1321 Farm-to-Market Road 2673 in Sattler. The drought provision only requires GBRA to release water at an amount equal to the actual inflow to Canyon Lake, but West said the river authority would supplement the release with additional stored water to meet contractual obligations to municipal and industrial users downstream. And even if Canyon Reservoir benefits from a significant rainfall event, GBRA is not required to release more than 90 cfs as long as the lake level remains below 909 feet above sea level, Gardner said. As of Tuesday, the flow of the Guadalupe River See RAIN/5A Inside Abby................................7A Classifieds.......................5-8B Comics...............................2B Crossword..........................2B Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies..................................7A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................8A Today.................................2A Television............................8A Key Code 76Gomez pleads guilty, could get 6 months in ‘Scooter Man’ death By Heather Todd Staff Writer The face of Ray “Scooter Man” Biggadike could haunt a New Braunfels man every time he gets behind the wheel. Jesus “Jesse ’ Rodriguez Gomez, 38, will have to place a picture of the 78-year-old Biggadike on the visor of any vehicle he drives as part of a plea agreement presented Monday in District Judge Gary Steel’s courtroom. Gomez, who was facing manslaughter charges in Biggadike’s death in 1999, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of failure to stop and render aid and tampering with evidence and could be sentenced to 180 days in prison. Under the plea agreement, Gomez would serve IO years probation and the manslaughter charge would be dismissed. Tampering with evidence is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Failure to stop and render aid is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled June 8. At that time, a judge could accept the plea and sentence Gomez to the recommended 180 days in prison and IO years probation, or the judge could reject the plea. lf the judge rejects the plea, Gomez could could go to a court or jury trial. If a judge accepts the plea agreement, Gomez could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison if he violates the provisions of his probation. Gomez was accused of hitting Biggadike as the elderly man crossed Business 35 on his battery-powered scooter June 28. Biggadike was crossing the busy, four-lane thoroughfare from the east toward Avenue A. He was thrown 58 feet from his scooter and pronounced dead on the scene. Authorities investigated the accident as a hit-and-run after witnesses said the unidentified car that hit Biggadike turned right onto a nearby street and fled the scene. According to the plea agreement, Gomez also would serve 300 hours of community service and attend a driver safety course and a victim impact program within one year. Gomez also would pay a $2,000 fine, send an apology letter to the victim’s family within 180 days and use an ignition interlock on any vehicle he drives. Bill Biggadike, Ray Biggadike Is son, said the recommended prison sentence seemed light in consideration of his father’s death. But in regard to the provisions of Gomez’s probation, he said, “If it makes him realize what he did and prevents him from doing it again, then I’m all for it — as long as another family doesnt go through what me and my family went through.”    » ;