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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 19, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels SATURDAY May 19, 2001 18 pages in 2 sections jppMHp    18    pages    in    2    secti<Herald-Zeitung r ' r. , .... .. ........v„4,.....,"u T': s >........../, ................................................... ................................—---r ..............1.,^:,;.:;,.....,v i <> ......... '............V'-. ....................................... ........... ........................ Vol. 150, No. 162 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Itchin’ to get rid of your flea problem?Pests enjoying warm, wet spring By Ron Maloney Staff Writer They’re creepy. They’re crawly. And they can be icky to touch. It’s been a fine, fine spring in the insect kingdom this year, COMMON FLEA and residents might be noticing them more on their pets, in their backyards and in winged windshield smears and caterpillar road kills. One also might notice the ankle bites caused by little crawly things carried into the home by the sullen fleabag that used to be man’s best friend. Nanecte Burkhardt, office manager at the Comal County Public Health Department, says everybody she has been talking to said the flea problem is especially bad this year. “The flea population is unreal this year,” she says. Nobody, Burkhardt says, should be embarrassed to admit they’re dealing with fleas this year. Burkhardt knows because veterinarian Dr. Larry Grantham told her so when she brought Buddy, her Border collie, in for a flea treatment recently. “I went to the veterinarian and asked if he couldn’t do anything,” she said. “We five out in the country. Usually, cattle ticks are a problem. But this year, the fleas are coming in. Dr. Grantham said the fleas were extremely bad this year. It’s all over.” See FLEA/10ARiver closureTxDOT: Boat ramp will be open for holiday CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung A group of recent Southwest Texas State University graduates loads a boat into the Guadalupe River Friday at Rivers Den, a business that has been dealing with river closures during construction on Interstate 35. By Martin Malacara Staff Writer The Texas Department of Transportation once again will close part of the Guadalupe River starting Monday for highway construction. TxDoT officials said the portion of the river that flows underneath Interstate 35 would be closed for two weeks. The closure is necessary for work on a new southbound exit ramp. The ramp is part of a project to build four new bridges over the interstate. TxDOT officials said late Friday the river would be reopened in the afternoon May 25 in time for the Memorial Day weekend. The river will be closed at 7 a.m. May 29. The potential closure over the holiday weekend had at least one river business owner upset. See RIVER/3A Murder retrial delayed until early August By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Jack Warren Davis, the man accused and convicted once of raping and murdering 24-year-old elementary school teacher Kathie Balonis in New Braunfels in 1989, has had his day in court delayed. No one connected with the case will comment because of a gag order imposed on DAVIS    p a r t i c i - pants by District Court Judge Charles Ramsay, but officials confirmed late Friday afternoon that defense attorney Stanley Schneider on Friday secured a continuance until Aug. 6. District court officials, citing the gag order, did not say why. Jury selection was set to begin Monday in Johnson City for Davis’ second trial in connection with the Balonis murder. Prosecutors sought the death penalty a decade ago but will not at this trial because jurors did not impose it in his earlier conviction. When a case is retried or appealed, the judgment is bound under Texas law by the decision of the first jury. New Braunfels police investigators have been working for weeks with an investigator from Attorney General John Cornyn’s office to repackage the case that put Davis in state prison IO years ago. Balonis was found strangled and sexually assaulted in her apartment at 483 Laurel Lane in New Braunfels on Nov. 17, 1989. Davis, who was 30 at the time, worked in maintenance at Balonis’ apartment complex. Police arrested Davis the day after Balonis’ body was discovered. Six months later, he was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. However, the accusations that then-District Attorney Bill Reimer had improperly intimidated a witness in the case led the Third Court of Appeals to set the conviction aside in 1992 and send the case back to district court. Davis, now married and a Louisiana resident, was released from prison and later settled a civil case with Bexar County over improper handling of blood evidence by a San Antonio medical lab. Two years ago, the attorney general’s office decided to conduct a new prosecution of Davis. Comal County District Attorney Dib Waldrip, a former New Braunfels police officer who interviewed Davis the night of the murder, is a witness in the case, so his office has been recused. Davis now reports to Comal County authorities by telephone twice a month and has appeared in this county in recent weeks for pretrial hearings in his second trial. He has declined to be interviewed or photographed. District 22 Judge Charles Ramsay, who will hear the case in Johnson City, moved it because of publicity about the case in New Braunfels and Comal County. New Braunfels police Lt. Mike Rust, who now heads the department’s criminal investigations division, declines to comment on the case, citing the gag order and the interest in ensuring that Davis gets a fair trial. According to testimony in a March evidence hearing, new blood evidence might be presented in Johnson City — evidence that either did not go through a controversial and discredited laboratory technician or that was not tested by him. Chase Bank gives Wurstfest room to grow CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung From right, Geri Jordan, Susan Heidrich, Ron DeStefano, Joe McKinny and Hal Herbelin announce that Chase Bank has donated land to the Wurstfest Association on Friday in the Spas Haus on the Wurstfest grounds. By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer It’s the “wurst” news in a long time, said Herb Skoog, public relations chairman for the Wurstfest Association. Thanks to a land donation from Chase Bank, the festival has room to grow, he said. The bank donated the land that houses its Landa Street motor bank to the festival. Officials from Chase and Wurstfest jointly announced the land donation, which gives Wurstfest a total of three more acres across the street from Landa Park. “It’s a win-win situation,” Skoog told a crowd during the Friday afternoon announcement at Spas Haus on the Wurstfest grounds. ‘Thanks to the generosity of Chase Bank, we now have additional land to expand.” The donation came after the bank renovated its Castell Avenue motor bank, where customers conduct business in drive-through windows. When the group considered renovations on Landa Street, they discovered that the equipment there was outdated and would need to be completely replaced. “We looked at the expense of trading out that equipment,” Chase Vice President Susan Heidrich said. “And we looked at how close the two locations are together — they’re about six blocks a part. So, then we tried to decide what to do. We brainstormed and decided to donate the land to Wurstfest.” The donation made sense because so many Chase employees are involved in the 10-day festival, and the bank supports the economic boost the festival brings the community each November, she said. “We take a lot of pride in our community,” Heidrich said. “And one of the things that sets us apart is the spirit of working together to make our community stronger.” Ron DeStefano, Wurstfest president, See WURSTFEST/3A Attorney search splits council on familiar lines By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer New Braunfels’ search for a new city attorney is dividing the council along familiar lines, with some members offering different impressions about what occurred during recent closed meetings. Council entered into salary negotiations with one candidate and two others are considered serious contenders, Mayor Stoney Williams said. Tile council decided — but did not vote, Williams said — to ask Sara Hartin whether she would accept the position at a rate of $65,000 a year, if it were offered to her. Hartin originally said yes but called back to say that she would work for New Braunfels for no less than $75,000, he said. Council also discussed two other candidates as potential city attorneys — Charles Zech and Mark Flowers. They plan to re-interview Zech at a closed session on May 29. Council also could decide to grant Hartin’s request for more money. Flowers remains on the fist of possibilities as well, Williams said. While Williams characterized the discussions between the council as argumentative and divisive, other council members disagreed. Debbie Flume said she believed the council had reached a consensus and was concerned that Williams did not agree. “I think if he did not discuss what occurred in closed session, that would be one thing,” she said. “But to incorrectly display what we are doing is not appropriate, in my opinion. We didn’t vote, but we had reached a consensus on Hartin last week.” Councilman Larry Alexander said the group decided to ask Hartin about her salary requirements during closed session. When she asked for more money, he said the group then moved to the name next on their list, Zech, See ATTORNEY/3AInside Abby...............................5A Classifieds.......................4-8B Comics..............................9A Crossword.........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies.................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports...............................1-3B Today.................................2A Key Code 76 One veteran’s dream of a World War ll memorial is coming true /Sunday in the Herald-Zeitung ;