New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 19, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2003
Fun. Unique. Affordable. The Weihnachtsmarkt is just around the corner and offers Christmas wares big and small. Page ID
FORUM TOUGH STUFF?
Cal Thomas is unsure about the nation's toughness on crime.
Get real and save taxpayers some money, he says. Page
Serving New Braunfels and Coma
Vol. 153, No. 4 14 pages, 2 sections
8 ,,56825 00001
Details .... 2B
DEAR ABBY 4B CLASSIFIEDS 6-8B COMICS 3B CROSSWORD 3B FORUM 4A
SPORTS 5-6A TV GRIDS 4B
Predicted growth conjures concern
By Ron Maloney
A Texas Department ofTransportation official told Comal (bounty Tuesday some local road projects might have to wait 30 years before money is available.
County Judge Danny Scheel assailed the assessment and TxDOT s planning at the agency’s annual transportation planning meeting, saying that with rampant growth, the county could not wait that long.
Scheel called on the state agency to educate the public about new road funding scenarios and join local officials in planning for transportation needs.
TxDOT District Transportation Planning Engineer Clay Smith said the need for roadwork in Texas is outstripping available money 16 to I — and that local governments would have to share in filling the gap.
The 78th legislature gave TxDOT authority to bond road projects, but the ultimate answer, Shiith said, would be for local governments to establish Regional Mobility Authorities—commissions with power to levy taxes, charge tolls or take other measures to fill the state funding gap.
"Some say, Well, state, you’re dumping this down on the local level, ”’ Smith said. "We’re trying to find a way to meet local demand in a partnership," Smith said.
Scheel said the state is shirking its responsibility.
“I’m going to tell you right up front I’m not a happy camper tonight,” Scheel said. "Year after year we’ve been giving our concerns — we’re not even on the horizon. You’re talking about Highway 46 — we can’t wait that long."
The judge said TxDOT needs to start educating the public about RMAs
Comal County now has a population of 80,000, Scheel said. Population projections say it will be 225,00(1 by 2020.
“Five years from now, you don’t even have Highway 46 on the horizon,” Scheel said. “I understand you’re under budget restraints. But it s a heck of a lot cheaper to try to get the right-of-way we need for these projects now."
Danny Scheel4B directors to mull spending guidelines, civic center
By Dylan Jimdnez
The Infrastructure and Improvement Corporation Board of Directors (4B) board members want to make clear that no funds have been allocated for the planned expansion of the civic center.
The board will discuss Thursday an opinion column written by District 6 Qty Councilman Ken Valentine and published in the I lerald-Zeitung.
Valentine wrote that the 4B board was considering allocating $3 million for civic center expansion, quoting documents that suggest board funds would go toward center improvements, which have not yet been decided.
The $3 million number also has appeared in budget reports under the heading "future considerations on the table.”
The number never had any "solidity," said former chair
man Monroe Miller.
Council must determine the building specifics and maintenance costs before funding can be considered, Miller said.
Council plans to meet Dec. 3 to discuss the New Braunfels convention market and how the expanded civic center plans to attract conventions to the facility.
The civic center might be discussed as part of the 4B board's budget talks Thursday.
The board will set general guidelines for spending during this fiscal year, in which the board’s coffers will get about $2 million in sales tax dollars.
During budget talks, the board will consider how much money to spend on some of the city's big-ticket items, such as the civic center expansion, the Central Texas Technology Center and attracting Toyota offshoot business.
H7 pm Thursday
■ Conference Room A, New Braunfels Municipal Building, 424 S. Casten Ave
■ The board will set guidelines for spending the $2 million in taxpayer funds it will receive this fiscal year.
Detective Ronnie Womack is a fingerprint expert.
He’ll readily tell you that in his business, any print is...
By Ron Maloney
In a business where most do their jobs with muscle and a fair understanding of human psychology, Detective Ronnie Womack prefers a microscope, chemistry and a computer program.
Womack a former street cop and narcotics detective who also has the forensic abilities of a specialized criminal lab technician. Street sense and lab prowess are almost never seen in the same officer.
“I let the science speak for me,” Womack said. “Let it be the star.”
This week, Womack is giving a class in fingerprint identification to officers from a number of law enforcement agencies.
Womack, a 17-year veteran Comal County Sheriff’s deputy, has learned from some of the best in the fingerprinting business, and is recognized in this ‘area as an expert in his own right.
"We depend on DPS for DNA,”
Womack said. “But in latents, we’re ‘in-I Instead of a peering house all the way. through a loupe. Capt. Dennis
Womack now uses Koepp, who com-
mands the Crimi-
examme fingerprints. . . ,
nal Investigation Division at the sheriff’s office, said Womack’s expertise has been invaluable.
“We’ve made cases we wouldn’t have been able to make because his processing level is more than many officers can do,”
Koepp said. "Ronnie’s been specifically requested to process prints for several outside agencies, including the Texas Rangers.”
A key piece of Womack’s equipment is a black tube called a "nonatmospheric vacuum chamber.”
Like many of the techniques Womack uses, it didn’t exist just a couple of decades ago. Womack uses the device with super glue to make fingerprints visible to the naked eye.
“The process came from Japan,” he explained. “It was discovered by accident by a fiber and hair technician.”
The discovery was a quantum leap past the days of black powder Fingerprint “dusting.” Back in his office, Womack uses .computer software that magnifies a fingerprint, filling the screen and enabling him to easily find points for comparison.
“A lot of guys who came up in the ’60s,
’70s and ’80s would rather lean over the desk and look through that,” pointing at a magnifying loupe like jewelers use to examine gems.
Then he gestured at (he computer screen Comal County Sheriff 's Detective Ftonnie Womack “I’d rather kick back and look through this.”, searches for latent fingerorints on a gun collected
as evidence. Above, left. Womack peers through a loupe used to examine prints.
Larry Taylor Debby Taylor
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