New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 20, 2004, New Braunfels, Texas
THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2004
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Thomas Barrett III says the logic behind an ordinance banning beer bongs is full of holes. Page 4A
Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852.
Vol. 153, No. 164 12 pages, 2 sections
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Defense questions police search tactics
By Bon Maloney
Defense attorney Glen Peterson raised questions Wednesday about whether police acted appropriately when they stopped — and searched — the car driven by John Hernandez, a suspect in a 2002 killing.
A state expert testified the likelihood that blood found on Hernandez’s clothing belonged to anyone other than victim Pablo Esquivel was one in 1.8 quadrillion — one followed by 15 zeroes.
Prosecutor Joe Soane's case against Hernandez entered its second day with testimony by forensic experts and the New
Braunfels police officers who found Esquivel’s alleged killers shortly after the April 28,2002, attack.
If convicted in Judge Jack Robison’s 207th Judicial District Court of engaging in organized criminal murder, Hernandez faces between five and 99 years in state prison.
Co-defendant Daniel Cam
pos Correa pleaded guilty to murder Monday in exchange for an 11-year sentence.
Co-defendant Santiago “Crazy Jimmy” Suarez will be tried later.
Officer Joe Tovar testified finding Hernandez’s car at the intersection of Business 35 and Seguin Avenue about half an hour after Esquivel was
Company ‘welds’ education, growth
stabbed to death in Solms.
Because it matched the description of the suspect vehicle, Tovar followed the car to Ryan’s Steakhouse, where it turned left on McKenna Avenue. When it turned right on Porter Street, Tovar said, he stopped Hernandez because he didn’t signal the turn.
Tovar called for backup from officer David Olson and approached Hernandez’s car from its passenger’s side, he said, because of concerns its occupants could have just been involved in a killing.
Hernandez greeted the officer with an expletive-filled
See TRIAL, Page 3A
Reality TV: City councilman asks for cable show
By Scott Mahon
District 6 City Councilman Ken Valentine said he would propose Monday that council members be allowed to televise 30-minute videos on the city’s cable television access channel.
Valentine, who was elected May 2002, said his campaign platform included educating the public, and allowing council members to discuss subjects of local interest on television would accomplish that goal.
“When I ran for city council, I wanted to use Channel 21 as a forum to bring local residents into the political process,” he said. “So I want to suggest Monday that we (council members) have access to Channel 21 so that council members can communicate issues to the public.”
Valentine said a number of items he put on council’s agenda haven’t been discussed in the last three months.
“The council has either pulled the items from the agenda, or there wasn’t a second to my motions,’’ he said. “So either the items were dis-cussed by other council members prior to the meetings, or they didn’t want to debate the items in public. But the issue is that these are
items I believe are important issues and need to be discussed in public because they affect the quality of life in our community.”
Valentine said his motion to ban beer bongs on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers died without being seconded even though the subject attracted the attention of the news media.
“During the last three months, I made motions to place a temporary moratorium on the expansion of tubing companies, to use hotel occupancy tax money to build a new visitor center and a motion to implement a wristband system on the rivers," he said. “None of those motions were seconded.”
Valentine said Austin and San Antonio televise individual council member presentations.
“Both cities have cable television channels where council members host shows,” he said. “This is not about me, this is about allowing council members
See VALENTINI Page 3A
School dedicates tree in infant’s memory
By Scott Mahon
Senior Flexonics Pathway hopes New Braunfels will help pay the company to forge a partnership with the Central Texas Technology Center.
The New Braunfels Infrastructure Improvement Corp. (4B) board voted Wednesday to give Senior Flexonics Pathway up to $194,520 to use the CTTC to train skilled welders.
The board voted unanimously to assist the company.
“We’ll write a check for $3,242 for each employee who completes training up to 60 new employees,” said Matt Harrison, board president.
City council still must approve the recommendation.
Senior Flexonic Controller Carl Armbrister, who made a public presentation to the board Wednesday, said the company would hire up to 60 new employees.
Armbrister said the total cost of training new welders would be $324,000, and Flexonics would pay half the cost.
Senior Flexonics Pathway manufactures metal and fabric expansion joints used in the petrochemical and nuclear industries. The company recently closed its Oakridge, Tenn., plant, and relocated to New Braunfels, where it currently employs about 140.
Armbrister said one reason-the company closed its
Senior Flexonics controller Carl Armbrister hopes that the city will offer the company financial incentives to train welders to expand the company's current workforce in New Braunfels.
Oakridge plant was the high cost of wages and benefits. The company pays welders here $12 to $17 per hour.
"Wages in Oakridge are tremendously high because they’re union wages,” he said. “Benefits, like health insurance, are also extremely high. For
instance, SBC in San Antonio pays about $5,700 per employee per year for benefits. It cost us $14,000 per employee per year in Oakridge.”
Armbrister said the company would donate welding equipment to the CTl’C.
“We have welding equip
ment in Oakridge we plan to give to the CTTC center, and we would like some of our welders to be teacher’s aides there,” he said. “Plus, we want to open our plant here and let people who are interested in welding to see some hands-on welding.”
Official: Sex assault program takes collaboration
By Bon Maloney
A coalition of advocacy groups, law enforcement, local officials and McKenna Memorial I lospital could be closer to implementing a program to train nurses to gather evidence in sexual assaults.
. The program, sponsored by the state attorney general’s office, trains registered nurses to be Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).
Wednesday, Grace Davis, who develops SANE programs for Attorney General
Greg Abbott, came to New Braunfels to tell local officials how it could be done.
“One of the issues that comes up over time is why do we even want to do this?” Davis said. “Another is how to pay for it.” Danny Perez of the Comal County Women’s Center said he believed the program should come to New Braunfels because under the current system, where victims are driven to San Antonio, the experience can take up to 12 hours—a big deterrent to victims and prosecutions.
“The situation with going to San Antonio is wonderful, but as time goes on,
we need to implement this program here. Everyone in this community trusts McKenna and sees this hospital as the health care provider for this region. We hope they will consider this program."
Davis pointed out sexual assault was not McKenna’s problem — but a community problem. While a program would need to have hospital involvement to succeed, she said, it should not be the hospital’s burden.
"You have do decide as a community if you want it and how you’re going to fund
See SANE. Page XA
NBISD might change insurance plan
Read lists of local high
school gradu- ______
ates and find out who was named valedictorian and salutatorian at local schools.
New Braunfels. TX
By Leigh Jones
New Braunfels Independent School District is considering options for a new health insurance plan for next school year.
Currently, district employees are covered under a self-funded health plan where premiums are paid to the district rather than to an insurance company. Claims are then paid out of the collected premium reserves.
Neal Welch, the district’s insurance consultant, said the district experienced
a large increase in the number and amount of claims this year.
“We’ve had a tough year with quite a bit in the red,” he said. “We’ve made some changes in the plan, but unfortunately, we don’t think we would break even next year, either.”
According to information provided to the board of trustees lUesday, the NBISD Health Insurance Plan experienced a 40 percent increase in claims paid during
See INSURANCE. Page 3A
Memorial Intermediate fifth-grader Aaron Madera reads a poem as his parents. Sonja and Julio, look on during a tree-planting ceremony held Wednesday in memory of his 6-week-old sister. Alyssa, who died from heart failure April 4. Madera's classmates donated $200 to pay for the tree.
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