New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 5, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas
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Vol. 148, No. 251 22 pages in 2 sections November 5, 1999
F RI DAY
Serving Comal County since 1852
Don Ferguson, assistant to the city manager, talks with media representatives about the third annual Holiday River of Lights during a press conference Thursday at the municipal building.
Woman accused of DWI bonds out
From Staff Reports
A Canyon Lake woman accused of intoxication manslaughter and assault with a motor vehicle posted a $30,000 bond after 274th District Judge Gary Steel denied a motion to reduce her bond Melissa Watson Choina, 31, was booked in Comal County Jail Oct. 27 on charges related to a fatal accident on Farm-to-Market 306 July 8.
Bond on the intoxication manslaughter charge was set at $20,000, and bond for the intoxication assault was set at $ 10,000.
On Wednesday morning, Steel denied a request by Choina’s attorney, Matthew Kyle, to change the bond to a personal recognizance bond.
Personal recognizance bonds allow defendants to be released from prison without paying the bond amount, but they would be liable for the bond money if they failed to make a scheduled court date. Officials at Comal County Jail said Choina posted bond about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Choina was driving a vehicle that struck a Ford Thunderbird carrying four children and two adults about noon July 8 on FM 306 just south Farm-to-Market 2673.
Joshua Rutherford, 3, was a passenger in the Thunderbird. He died two days later at a San Antonio Hospital.
Choina also faces four counts of intoxication assault for critically injuring three passengers in the Thunderbird and one passenger in her vehicle.
Three passengers in the Thunderbird — Brian Hollek, 12, Kyle Hollek, IO, and Annette Webb, 59 — were critically injured in the accident and airlifted to University Hospital in San. Antonio.
Choina and her 13-year-old passenger both were taken by Star Flight helicopter to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.
If convicted of the second-degree felony charge of intoxication manslaughter, Choina could face two to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $ 10,000.
If convicted of the intoxication assault charge, she could face a two to 10-year prison sentence and a fine not to exceed $ 10,000.
Officials with the Texas Department of Safety reported Choina’s blood/alcohol level exceeded twice the legal limit at the time of the fatal collision.
DPS Trooper Jim Shea said Choina had a blood/alcohol level of 0.26 at the time of the accident.
The legal blood/alcohol level in Texas at the time of the accident was 0.10. State law reduced the legal level to 0.08 on Sept. I.
Choina is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 22.
City starts plugging Holiday River of Lights
By Peri Stone-Palmquist
Local residents and visitors making their way through this year’s Holiday River of Lights can expect 15 new displays, including a 30-foot ice castle, a water-skiing Santa and an antique auto scene.
Not to worry, though — old favorites such as the 15-foot illuminated red bear display and Christ
mas tree remain features in the 52-day drive-through light display in Cypress Bend Park, which runs Nov. 12 to Jan. 2.
“The displays are larger than life,” said Don Ferguson, assistant to the city manager. “People often leave feeling in awe.”
The display park showcases more than 40 luminous animated displays positioned along a seventh-tenth mile
trail of sparkling lights.
The drive typically takes between 15 to 35 minutes, Ferguson said.
The time all depends on how many people show up each night.
About 22,000 vehicles carried an estimated 75,000 visitors through the display park in die first two years of the display. Visitors from as far away as Mexico, Canada and Japan have come.
See LIGHTS/5 A
See the Lights
• Admission is $7 for up to eight-passenger vehicles; $15 for nine- to 24-passenger vehicles; and $40 for buses.
• Season passes are $25.
• Advance tickets and season passes can be bought at 424 S. Casten Ave. and Landa Park.
What it’s all about
Eugene Eike, a New Braunfels Lions Club member, helps prepare Wurstfest sausages for the organization’s food booth. Many non-profit and community sen/ice organizations raise funds by operating food booths during Wurstfest. Eike reports that all 200 members of the club volunteer during Wurstfest. The 10-day salute to sausage continues today through Sunday with plenty of food, fun and entertainment. For a schedule of events, see Page 4A.
Libraries hoping for sales tax
Tye Preston, Bulverde library supporters calling for election
By Erin Magruderb
Rural libraries in Comal County have relied heavily on Comal County government funding to make ends
Now, supporters of those libraries want county voters to approve special taxing districts to generate funds.
Recently, the Texas Legislature passed a law that gives libraries another alternative to generate more revenue by creating taxing districts.
With the possibility of future cuts in county funding, Bulverde Community Library and the Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake are seeking to establish such districts to meet the needs of the growing communities they serve.
The proposed districts will generate revenue from a percentage of the sales tax within the geographical boundaries of districts. The sales tax does not include groceries or prescription medications.
The libraries are seeking to raise the sales tax 1/2 cent of purchases w ithin the district—the maximum allowed under the legislation. Property taxes will not be increased.
Taking flight in NB difficult for commuter air service
Opponents, supporters speak out at forum
By Peri Stone-Palmquist
Attracting a commercial airline to New Braunfels will be an uphill battle, local residents were told Thursday.
“It’s a huge, very competitive issue,” consultant Randal Wiedemann said.
Wiedemann’s consultant team R.A. Wiedemann & Associates, along with Wilbur Smith Associates and Kramer Associates, have been contracted by Texas Department of Transportation’s aviation division, to conduct a study evaluating air service needs in 31 communities, including New Braunfels.
As part of the $400,000 study, funded
through federal, state and local money, Wiedemann came to New Braunfels Thursday seeking public input on possible air commuter service for the city.
The study will look at the feasibility of attracting an airline company here, as well as the need for commuter service.
Public sentiment seemed divided on both issues.
New Braunfels Municipal Airport manager Darrell Phillips said he believed the airport had a lot to offer a commercial airline, including plenty of space for a repair shop and a good location.
‘ We do have a carrot to dangle to get those airlines here,” he said.
New Braunfels’ location, however, was not necessarily an asset, Wiedemann said.
“The one thing you’re up against is that you’re close to San Antonio International
Airport,” he said.
Commercial airlines might figure that they wouldn’t gain any new customers with flights to and from New Braunfels with other airports so close, he said.
The city will have to show a real need and interest in commuter service for New Braunfels.
Phillips said he thought it was there, especially to Houston.
A large majority of tourists in New Braunfels come from Houston, he said. And several Houston residents have weekend homes in New Braunfels.
“And a commuter flight would just give them more time on the weekends,” he said.
But commuter flights could be as much as $500 or more, Wiedemann said.
Most people pick flights based on price, New Braunfels resident Barron Casteel said.
“I think we would kill to save $25,” he said.
Jerry Ford, owner of the in-the-works Gruene development Cotton Crossing, said he would choose convenience over money.
Wiedemann suggested the city look at the possibility of a private airline company, but final recommendations won’t come until the study is completed — probably in July 2000.
“We’re going to be very realistic with you,” he said. “We won’t sugarcoat things.”
Phillips said New Braunfels shouldn’t wait too long before making any decisions — San Marcos will offer stiff competition.
“I think we have a jewel in the rough in this community,” he said of the airport. “It’s a valuable tool for this community. And that’s what it’s for. We need to put it to work for this community.”
Key code 76
Pickles becoming yuletide fave
By Jacob Wesolick
Until a few years ago, the Schneider family never considered hiding a pickle in a tree to be one of their annual holiday traditions.
“We did not know this (the Christmas Pickle tradition) until a few years ago when somebody had given us the ornament and told us the story,” Mary Adel Schneider said.
Now, the Schneider family celebrates the Christmas Pickle
tradition every year.
“We would hide it (the ornament) under the tree and every one of the grandchildren who found it would get an extra gift,” Schneider said.
“It’s an interesting tradition. Grandchildren enjoy looking for it (the Christmas Pickle) to see who could find it first,” she said.
The Christmas Pickle is considered a special tree decoration by many German families, but very few Americans are
aware of the tradition.
German legend says mothers and fathers would hide a glass ornament of a pickle in the family’s Christmas tree and the first child who found the special ornament would receive an extra gift left by Saint Nicholas.
New Braunfels resident, Hellen Hoffman, said, “I did it as a child. We had a pickle; it was the ugliest and whoever found it would get a treat. It was a tradition and I think Ger-
Sophienburg Museum sells Christmas pickles at its Wurstfest booth and its museum shop.