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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 17, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas 11N EW J^eaaisKFELsHerald-/ TNG Vol. 149 No. 128    18    pages    in    2    sections May 17, 2000 Wednesday iving Comal County since 1852 50 centsCISD trustees to consider bid for new elementary schoolPrice hike for lunches also on agenda From Staff Reports BULVERDE — Trustees of the Comal Independent School District could award a $6.7 million contract Thursday to build a new elementary school — the first new facility to be constructed as part of last year’s $141 million bond issue. District administration is recommending that JT Construction Inc. of San Anto nio be awarded the contract to build the elementary school at Farm-to-Market Road 306 and Hoffman Lane north of New Braunfels. At its regular meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Bill Brown Elementary on Highway 46 in Bulverde, the board also will consider a proposal to raise the price of school meals and discuss how best to address seating concerns at the district’s two high school football stadiums. CISD spokeswoman Kari Hutchison said the increase in meal prices is due to risingWhat’s Up ■ WHAT: CISD trustee meeting ■ WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday ■ WHERE: Bill Brown Elementary, Highway 46, Bulverde food costs, wage increases and changes in how the district is reimbursed. “The last time there was an increase in meal prices in this district was five years ago,” Hutchison said. “Beth is telling the school board we don’t anticipate the need for another increase for five years.” Under the proposal — if approved by trustees — there will be a 25-cent across-the-board increase in meal prices. The current CISD breakfasts at both the elementary and secondary school level will go from $1 to $1.25 for the 74 percent of district students who receive unsubsidized meals. Elementary school lunches will rise from $1.50 to $1.75, and secondary school lunches from $1.75 to $2. In the New Braunfels Independent School District, breakfasts now cost $1. An elementary school lunch is $1.75; secondary school lunch is $1.80. The board also is likely to reject bids to provide additional bleacher seating at the district’s two stadiums in favor of a proposal by district staff to lease up to 2,200 additional seats for the 2000 season at a cost of $30,000. This will enable the district to consider permanent seating next year. Belly up for a good read Flatau: Had Gruene Hall In mind when she wrote “Counter Culture Texas.” Gruene Hall ‘counter’ featured in book By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Gruene Hall barkeep Lizz Smith runs a rag over the leaning, planked counter and let the phone ring a few times before she walked back to the wall to grab it. No, the owners weren’t around, she said. No, she didn’t know when they’d be around. No, she couldn’t give out their home numbers. She hangs up, returning to a conversation at the bar. Nope, she hadn’t heard the establishment where she works was featured in the new book “Counter Culture Texas,” a paperback examination of 44 of the state’s dance halls, diners, luncheonettes, soda fountains and honky-tonks. Though she’s a relatively new employee at the hall, Smith boasts a lifelong love for the place, and certainly believes its charm belongs in a book. “I’ve been coming here since I was 13,” Smith explained. “That’s the great thing about Gruene Hall — you can enjoy it at any age.” She talked a little about the business: its rhythms; what it’s like; how busy it is when things are really stomping on boot-scootin’ show nights. Then, in the more confidential tone bartenders reserve for when they’re talking to one of their own, she talked about tips. Gruene Hall, she said, is a wonderful place to work. “We don’t have a band, so it’s quiet today — but there’s a lot happening here. Happy hour’s from four to seven. And on the nights we have entertainment...” As her tone tapers, her eyes sweep the saloon and the dance hall beyond, as if expecting a stranger to doubt or discount her words. Then: “George Strait used to play here a lot...” Nobody who has seen the book, published by Lone Star Press, could doubt what Smith says about Gruene Hall. Author Susie Kelly Flatau said the landmark was one of three or four places she had in mind when she decided to do “Counter Culture Texas.” Matt Hammon (left) and P. J Gruene Hall. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Yankowskl chat with bartender Llzz Smith at the counter in “I’d been there quite a few times, and I knew we’d just have to use (it),” Flatau said. “Basically, it’s one of the oldest dance halls in Texas. It’s just steeped in history. If you go over to Gruene Hall, you can just feel it,” Flatau said. “It’s in a pretty nondescript building, but as you walk down the main street in Gruene, you’re just kind of drawn to it. “It has the spirit, the old wooden dance floor — even the patina on the dance floor. When I was there, they had no air conditioning — I think it must be just as it was. Part of its beauty is that along the dance floor, they had these big shuttered doors that they’d open to let the breeze through. “What intrigued me is this man, Henry Gruene, a cotton farmer, built this dance hall and this little saloon for all his workers so they’d have a place to let loose after a hard week’s work. Anybody who does that has a heart of gold — and a pretty dam good business sense.” When Gruene died, the dance hall and saloon changed hands a number of times, and was closed for awhile. In 1975, Mary Jane Nalley and Pat Molak bought and reopened the dance hall. “There’s a diversity of musicians who play there,” Flatau noted “Many performers return over and over and over. It’s kind of their home away from home; their grounding site.” It’s kind of a grounding site for Flatau, as well. Flatau loves the place, she says, as she loves many of the 125 places — and associated people — she and See COUNTER/10A Interest rates increased to slow economy WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve bumped up interest rates Tuesday by a bold half point, pushing a key rate to its highest level in nine years. Fed policy-makers signaled they were prepared to move even more aggressively if needed to fight inflation. The central bank raised its target for the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, to 6.5 percent. It was the sixth time the Fed has increased the funds rate since last June but the first half-point move. All the other rate changes were smaller quarter-point increases. The Fed’s action at mid-afternoon was immediately matched by announcements from commercial banks that they were increasing their prime lending rate — the benchmark for millions of consumer and business loans — by the same half point. Those increases left the prime at 9.5 percent, its highest level since January 1991 when the country was in its last recession. The Fed also increased its largely symbolic discount rate, the interest it chaiges for direct loans to banks, by a half point to 6 percent. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues said they were concerned that continued brisk demand generated by the booming economy would outstrip the country’s available supply of goods and workers. If this were to persist, the Fed warned, it “could foster inflationary imbalances that would undermine the economy’s See INTEREST/10A NBISD balances 2000-2001 budget By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The New Braunfels Independent School District will look to staff attrition to find the last quarter million dollars it needs to balance its budget for the 2000-01 fiscal year — without firing any employees and without raising taxes for maintenance and operations. “We don’t want to RIF — we’re not going to RIF,” NBISD business manager, David Rastellini assured trustees at their meeting Tuesday night. RIF is human resources jargon: an acronym that stands for “reduction in force.”    BIGGADIKE Rastellini told the school board he will find the last $230,000 he needs to balance the district’s budget by not replacing five teachers and two aides next year. If the district doesn’t experience the expected personnel attrition, he said, he will ask departments to reach a little further in their See BUDGET/10A Inside Abby......................... .......5A Classifieds................... ...4-8B Comics....................... .......2B Crossword................. .......5A Forum......................... ......6A Local/Metro................. w.....4A Movies......................... .......5A Obituaries................... .......3A Sports............................ ....7-9A Today............................. ........2A Television....................... 3B Key Code 76 Outside help can only go so far in aiding Rosedale By Heather Togo Staff Writer Maria Serrano has two small children and is facing the difficult task of finding affordable housing in New Braunfels as a single mother. Serrano, whose husband recently passed away, currently pays $260 for a two-bedroom apartment she shares with her 5-year old daughter and 6-month old son in the Rosedale Apartment complex. Serrano and more than 150 other residents at Rosedale have been ordered to move out of their apartments by June I. Three weeks ago, the Building Standards Commission decided to close the complot Last in a three-part series immediately after inspectors turned up more than 150 violations of building, fire, health and safety codes in the 42 units on Rosedale Avenue and South Krueger Street off West San Antonio Street. So far, Sarrano has not found housing she can afford. She and several other residents have put their names on a list for housing assistance through the Housing Authority of New Braunfels. However, there currently are no vacancies in anv low-income housing units in New Braunfels, said Nadine Mardock, director of the housing authority. Applications for the permanent assistance voucher program, which provides low-income residents with vouchers to use for privately owned housing, take several months to process, she said. “The voucher program is not set up for emergencies,” Mardock said. Residents will have to wait and worry while the city and housing authority implement an emergency assistance program for Rosedale residents. Kathleen Puchek, Community Development Block Grant director, said the program, if approved, would give the exiled residents money toward security deposits and first-month rent at new apartments. Puchek said the program was designed specifically for Rosedale residents. “This would not be an on-going program. It would help people get relocated. The program would probably end in August or whenever all the people were moved out,” Puchek said. Puchek said funding would come from money previously set aside for the Bergfeld Drainage Project, which came in under budget. The program, however, is temporarily on hold as the city waits for approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Because the program would receive federal funding it must be processed according to See ROSEDALE/10A ;