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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 6, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY May 6, 2003 14 pages in 2 sections ■■■■    pages    in    £    scentHerald-Z eitung Vol. 152, No. 148 ■ Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 — Train strikes, kills 30-year-old man By Row Maloney Staff Writer A 30-year-old New Braunfels man was killed Sunday morning when he wag struck by a Union Pacific freight train. New Braunfels Police Lt. Mike Rust said Gabriel Gomez died at 5:57 a.m. near the Union Pacific crossing at Alt-gelt Road just off Ijoop 337. “Mr. Gomez was seen sitting on the tracks,” Rust said. ‘The engine crew blew the whistle, he got off the tracks and went back to retrieve something. As he bent down to get it, he got hit,” Rust said. Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said the train involved -in the incident was a 40-car freight running from Chicago to Laredo. He confirmed that the crew had seen the victim — and had tried to warn him to get off of the tracks. “The crew began to blow the horn and turned on the bell,” Davis said. “The person st/xxl up and tumid hack toward the track to pick up either a backpack or a sack,” the company spokesman said. The train traveled another 1,930 feet before the crew was able to bring it to a full stop, Davis said. 50 cents New Braunfels police officers Craig Christoph-erson and Sgt. Joe Vargas walk the railroad tracks close to Altgelt Road, measuring the distance from the scene of a fatal train-pedestrian accident Sunday. K. JESSIE SLATEN/ HorakJ-Zoitung Pinto: Time to get handle on street woes PINTO By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer The city’s $31 million street problem could be addressed by midsummer, New Braunfels City Manager (’huck Pinto said Monday. Residents voted down Saturday two propositions that would have diverted $fi million over the next four years from economic development to street repair. Pinto stressed the vote does not mean residents arc* willing to wait for street repair. “Its very important to look at economic development in this city,” Pinto said of the elc*ction results. But it is also important, he said, that the city get a handle on its street problem. “Every day those costs are rising,” the city manager said. ()ne of the propositions rejected Saturday would have reduced the* 4B salem tax by two-thirds. The* other would have* create! a stri*et. maintenance tax. Projxme*nts of economic de* ve*lopme*nt say voters writ officials a clear message al>out the* public’s desire for commercial growth in economi-cally tough times. Pinto said the* vote outlines for his staff how it should use* the city’s existing re-sources to adelre*sH economic envelopment and street repair “It appears that the people that voted felt it was very important to maintain the economic development sale-s tax and to stay focused in that direction. And we* ne*e*d 2003 Villi' UNOFFICIAL RETURNS ■ Compted bu! unofficial returns ol Saturday’s election curt bo lound on Page BA to,” Pinto said. “But, if you have a town with good economic development and no streets to drive* on, then you have a problem.” City staff e*stimates New Braunfels ne*e*ds $32 million in street repair half routine repair and half drainage. Pinto said developing a plan to address street repairs takes engineering principles and jioli-tics. He added just how the city council plans to tackle the stre*et maintenance problem would be decided once the new council members are* sworn in. Since 411 revenue was not reduced, at brast three major drainage? projects should go ahead without a scramble for a different funding source, he* said. Council approved e*arlie*r this ye*nr the use* of 4B funds for the* Gruene Road and hike* and lake* and (Jaunty Line* Road projects. The* finance* department already is putting together the* pa|x*rwork se* council can veite* in tile* ne*xf fe*w w?*e*ks on the issuance e>f loads from 4B mone-y for those? prefects, Pinto said. In April, officials ail ne* u need the* completion of a city-wieie* inventory that report-e*el $lf» million in rc»utine* street projects. The* city currently spends $200,000 e*very year on routine street repair. Staff is trying to increase f lus allotment by cutting e*ity exists and increasing revenue with addi- See STREET REPAIRS/3Ainside Thrice was not a charm for fire-plagued family Abby Qassiecb 5A 4-66 Comics................. ............7A Crossword ...............7A Forum 6A Movies 5A Obituaries........... 3A Sports.................. .........1-2B Today ............2A TV Grid............... 3B www.herald-zeltung.oom Key Code 76 000G1 By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The third time was not the charm for a locaJ family whe* |e*st its home this past weekend in a series of fire?s that started with a stovetop coeiking blaze. New Braunfels Fire Marshal Darren Bnnkkoeter said Marcus and Barbara Sanchez and their three children wert* left homeless early Sunday after their Savannah Hills Circle home was heavily damaged, Firefighters went to the residence three times beginning at 9:05 a.m. Saturday, Bnnkkoeter said, In that incident, cooking oil in an unattended frying pan flared up and started a fin? that burned into the stove’s exhaust hood. It was extinguished with mi nimal damage, Bnnkkoeter said, and firelighters turned off the stove and hood at the home’s breaker Ikix because of electrical damage. “The value of the hood was placed at about $400,” Brink-koeter said. At 5:29 p.m., firefighters were called back out, the fire marshal said, when the family apparently turned the breaker back on. That time, an electrical short circuit caused a fire above the ceiling in the residence, winch Brinkkoeter said was a dou-blewide mobile home. Firefighters spent more than three hours at the residence in the 6:30 p.m. incident because the? electrical load had causedSee FIRE/3A New Braunfels firefighters attend to a fire at a Savannah Hill Circle home for the third time during their 24-hour shift. The final call came at 3 a m. Sunday. The manufactured housing unit was heavily damaged. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Mort»kl Zertung_—JSM Sweet taste of life Florence Wipke’s 105 years have stretched across 3 centuries By Ron Maloney Staff Writer   ~»*-hi«- —**-y, In*, ,i n** *.    , r» 'ST  i'.T' \r¥ ( ,NT /CSV Y» Sr DAVID INGRAM/Herald ZfHtung Florence Wipke checks the icing on her birthday cake at a party held Monday in her honor at the Arboretum nursing center. Fnends and family helped Wipke celebrate her 105th birthday, with the help of accordionist Bob Blang There art? bragging righta and then there are bragging rights — the kind that can’t be surpassed no matter who tells the next story or how much they embellish it. And thats how it is for Florence Wipke. Because not everyone can say they’ve been on this Earth during three different centuries. That’s right, because? Wipke, who celebrated her 105th birthday Monday afternoon at the Arboretum of New Braunfels Nursing Care Gen ter, was bom in St. Ixiuis in 1898. She expected a party, but not like the one thrown for her. “I knew there would be a party, but I didn’t know my daughter was going to do all of this,” Wipke said. Her daughter, Betty Drawe of New Braunfels, said the Arboretum planned the special affair. “She’s very sharp,” Drawe said of her mother. “Slit* remembers the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. “She, my father, Albert, and my brother and I we were just babies — moved tx* Mercedes in the Rio Grande Valley in 1926,” Drawe said. “It was pretty much frontier.” Florence and Albert Wipke raised oranges, tangerines and grapefruit on 73 acres in the valley. She moved to New Braunfels in 1981. Wipke kept her own home until she was nearly 101. “Mothers always had a good constitution. She ate everything she ever wanted to eat; she never smoked, never drank and never dieted,” Drawl? said. “She did many civic things and helped everylxxly she could. Shes a good Christian woman and an See BIRTHDAY/3A ;