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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 24, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas BEST AVAILABLE COPY ^    THURSDAYNew Braunfels    May 24,2001 14 pages in 2 sectionsHerald-Zeitung ..................iz'.E: §::........................... '■..............±*_......;.......: *..... ■■ :::....... Vol. 150, No. 166 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Ailuro Soto, clockwise from top, Valissa, Arturo Jr. and Evangelina shop Wednesday at HEB in New Braunfels. Recently released Census figures show that the Hispanic population in Comal County and Texas is becoming more diverse. By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer Despite an older-than-average population, Comal County’s census figures reflect the rest of the nation and the state, said a state expert on census figures. Steve Murdock, of the Texas State Data Center at Texas A&M University, said the figures for Comal showed that the county was a snapshot of the state and nation. “In most cases, the data as a whole shows that the county is a reflection of the country and the state,” he said. “If you take into account the heavily Hispanic population, the county shows pretty much what we’ve learned in the rest of the country — the number of married couples households has declined, the number of married couples with children has declined.” According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of married couples in Comal County declined only slightly. In 1990, 65.44 percent of the households were married couples, compared to 62.8 percent in 2000. However, the county still ranks in the upper third of Texas counties for married couple households and in the increase in the total number of households. It ranks in the middle as far as number of households with children younger than 18. “That pretty much reflects the state and the nation,” Murdock said. “The only difference is the aging in the population. Comal County is older than the rest of the state.” The median age in Comal County is 39, according to census figures. That figure is slightly older than in 1990, when the median age was 36.3. Statewide, the median age reported in 2000 is 32.3. The largest jump in population in the county is in See CENSUS/3A Comal *    ‘ 1990 Total population: 51,832 Sex Male: 25,258 Female: 26,574 Median age (years): 36.3 AGE Under 5 years: 3,633 5 to 17 years: 9,623 18 to 20 years: 1,894 21 to 24 years: 2,175 25 to 44 years: 15,075 45 to 54 years: 5,686 55 to 59 years: 2,672 60 to 64 years: 2,692 65 to 74 years: 4,947 75 to 84 years: 2,646 85 years and over: 789 Under 18 years: 13,256 65 years and older: 8,382 2000 Total population: 78,021 Sex Male: 38,221 Female: 39,800 Median age (years): 39 AGE Under 5 years: 4,864 5 to 9 years: 5,319 10 to 14 years: 6,173 15 to 19 years: 5,442 20 to 24 years: 3,571 25 to 34 years:8,880 35 to 44 years: 12,545 45 to 54 years: 11,647 55 to 59 years: 4,329 60 to 64 years: 3,683 65 to 74 years: 6,206 75 to 84 years: 3,996 85 years and older: 1,366 Where We Rank Out of 254 Counties Median age: 80th Under 18: 165th Older than 65: 120th Total households increase: 23rd Average household size: 111th Family households: 165th Percent of married couples: 38th Census: Comal reflects state County’s population older than statewide average, previous censusSenate approves tax cuts By Curt Anderson AP Tax Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — With a dozen Democrats joining in, the Senate passed an 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax relief package Wednesday that represents the largest tax cut in two decades and matches the priorities President Bush has been pushing since his campaign for the White House. House and Senate negotiators immediately began meeting to work out a final compromise, which Republican leaders are scrambling to get on the president’s desk by the end of the week. The Senate voted 62-38 to pass the bill during a tumultuous day on Capitol Hill as Republicans and Democrats tried to calculate the political fallout of the decision by Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., to become an independent. All 50 Senate Republicans and 12 Democrats voted in favor of the tax cut. Bush said at the White House that those 62 senators “deserve our country’s thanks and praise,” and urged Congress to reach a rapid final accord. “Our economy cannot afford any further delays,” the president said. Senators of both parties agreed that the Jeffords switch, which will change the balance of power in an evenly divided Senate now run by Republicans, will have little bearing on the outcome of the tax debate. The bill includes the core components of Bush’s original 10-year, $1.6 trillion plan: across-the-board income tax cuts, eventual repeal of the estate tax, relief from the marriage penalty paid by millions of two-income couples and doubling of the $500 child credit. The House passed individual bills closely tracking Bush’s plan. The Senate also added one item Bush wanted for corporate America: permanent extension of the research and development tax credit, which would otherwise expire in 2004. Under pressure from Democratic and Republican moderates, including Jeffords, the Senate bill differs markedly from the Bush and House plans, mainly in ways that shift more of the benefits to low- and middle-income people. The Senate bill would reduce the top income tax rate to 36 percent, instead of 33 percent, and gradually phase in all the income tax cuts by 2007. The Senate bill also would permit millions of low-income people to claim a portion of the child credit, boost contribution limits for 401 (k) plans and IRAs, give education breaks such as a $5,000 college tuition deduction and create a new, retroactive IO percent income tax rate for the first portion of every taxpayer’s income.State, local TAAS passing rates show improvement By Martin Malacara Staff Writer More students taking the state’s academic skills test have stepped up their performance, according to the Texas Education Agency. This trend holds locally for both school districts. At New Braunfels Independent School District, 91 percent of 10th grade students passed the reading portion of the TAAS test for 2000-2001. In the math and writing portions, 89 percent of 10th grade students passed. State test results for 10th grade students show 90 percent passing in reading, 89 percent passing math and 89 percent passing in writing. ‘We’ve seen improvement in many areas. We’re continuing to shrink the gaps between the groups,” NBISD Board Vice President Lee Edwards said. The district's scores in 1999-2000 were 90 percent for reading, 86 percent for math and 90 percent for writing. For Comal Independent School District, 94 percent of Canyon High School 10th grade students passed the reading section this year; 92 percent passed the writing section, and 93 percent passed the math portion of the TAAS. This past year's scores for Canyon High School were 91 percent in reading, 93 percent in math and 92 percent in writing. At Smithson Valley High School, 95 percent of 10th grade students passed in reading this year; 84 percent passed in writing, and 92 percent passed in math. Smithson Val ley’s scores this past year were 95 percent in reading, 94 percent in math and 94 percent in writing. We’ve seen a continued growth in scores over the years. We are pleased with the work all campuses have done,” CISD secondary curriculum coordinator Jan Booth said. About 82 percent of the 1.9 million students who took the Tbxas Assess-See TAAS/3A Skunks I, Dogs 0 Foul smell not what it seems By Ron Maloney Staff Writer BRACKEN - Bracken firefighters called out at I a.m. Wednesday to investigate a gas leak found something far more offensive when they arrived on scene. Bracken Fire Capt. Bill Anz said firefighters reported being dispatched to the 9400 block of Trophy Oaks Drive at 12:57 a.m. for a reported natural gas leak. What had happened instead became unpleasantly apparent as they approached the house. “'Rims out, their dog got in a fight with a skunk,” Anz said. “The skunk sprayed the side of the house, right where an open window was.” The smell, firefighters reported, was so bad the family couldn’t tell what it was. See SMELL/5A Inside Abby.......................... ......5A Classifieds................... ...4-6B Comics........................ ......8A Crossword.................. ......5A Forum.......................... ......6A Local/Metro................. ......4A Movies.......................... ......5A Obituaries.................... ......3A Sports......................... ..1-3B Today........................... 2A www.herald-zeftung. com Key Code 76 Possible viral meningitis case found By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer School officials at Watts Elementary in nearby Guadalupe County were busy passing out letters at the end of school — informing parents of a possible case of viral meningitis in its second grade. A second grade boy possibly has viral meningitis, a less severe form of the disease, said Tim Savoy, public information officer for the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District. School officials are quick to note that viral meningitis is not as dangerous or deadly as bacterial meningitis. Three cases of the bacterial meningitis were reported at the Comal Independent School District earlier this year. “We got a call just before lunch time that the little boy was sick,” Savoy said. “The doctor said it was probably viral meningitis. It may not be. The culture takes 72 hours. But since tomorrow is the last day of school, we wanted to be sure that parents were aware that it could be.” In a letter sent to parents of Watts Elementary students, Principal Becky Stark says that viral meningitis is See MENINGITIS/5A Y ;