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  • Location: New Braunfels, Texas
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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 23, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas DEAR ABBY    4B CLASSIFIEDS    6B COMICS    3B CROSSWORD    3B FORUM    4A High    Low    I    OBITUARIES    3A 80    51    I    SPORTS    7A Details    .... 2B    i    TV GRIDS    4B Mostly sunny EL PASO TX 79903 WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23,2005    ''    111 '"' n..,!,ii Zeitung SPORTS PLAYOFFS Canyon's Cougars aren't pretty, but are winning big in the Class 4A state football playoffs. Page 7A Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852. FORUM SOUND OFF Readers discuss unsafe driving habits, negotiations, and comic strip replacements. Page 4A Vol. 154, No. 313 16 pages, 2 sections 500 Schoenthal bridge completed By Ron Maloney Staff Writer A well-known Comal County landmark is no more, and County Judge Danny Scheel had best dust off his dancing shoes. County Engineer Tom Hornseth reported to commissioners Thursday that the Schoenthal bridge, the largest construction project in his department’s history, has been completed on schedule and at budget, costing $850,000. The project, designed by Assistant County Engineer Robert Boyd and constructed by ACME Bridge of New Braunfels, began construction June I and opened to traffic this week. “The culvert project on Schoenthal Road is open,” Hornseth told commissioners. “It’s a large project for us, and it provides a safe road for people in our county.” The culverts will keep Schoenthal Road open through a “10-year” flooding event, enabling residents to cross during all but the heaviest rainfalls. Before now, it typically was among the first county roads closed during storms, landlocking area residents and preventing See BRIDGE, Page 3A Despite loss, civic center project to move ahead By Leigh Jones Staff Writer Plans for the New Braunfels Civic Center expansion project are moving ahead despite the death of its chief architect. Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce President Michael Meek, who has pushed for years for the project that will turn the civic center into a convention center, said this week he believed Ken Rehler would not want it any other way. “This was more than just a job to him,” Meek said. “He's worked on various concepts for years simply because he believed the city deserved a better meeting facility" After presenting city council members with initial floorplan and elevation drawings in September, Rehler began holding weekly meetings with the convention center committee to discuss the project s details. Just a few days after his death Nov. 11 in an aircraft crash at New Braunfels Municipal Airport, the group was scheduled to meet to discuss landscaping options. The meeting was postponed until Tuesday, when it will be combined with a discussion about making the new building suitable for use as a Red Cross shelter. Meek said one of Rehler’s colleagues would continue the meetings and be prepared to See CIVIC, Page 3A Several businesses closed for Thanksgiving holiday From Staff Reports Grocery shopping procrastinators still have plenty of time to pick up last-minute goodies for the Thanksgiving Day binge. Every grocery store in town will be open Thursday. H-E-B, located at 651 S. Walnut Ave., will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Albertson’s, at 955 N. Walnut Ave., will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The two Handy Andy stores, at 559W. San Antonio St. and 355 ban da St., will be open from 7 am to 7 p.m. Wal-Mart Supercenter, at 1209 Interstate 35, takes the prize for offering its customers the most convenience — the 24-hour store will be open all day. In the Canyon Lake area, both Super S Food Stores will be open from 7 am. to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. For people who do not feel like cooking, Fire Mountain, 485 E Business 35, will be open and ready to serve the traditional turkey and dressing meal from IO a.m. to 7 p.m. While most nonfood-related businesses will be closed Thanksgiving Day, the city’s sanitation workers still will be making the rounds to collect garbage. City staff has asked all Thursday and Friday customers to have their trash out to the curbs by 6 am to make sure nothing gets left behind. City and county offices will be closed Thursday and Friday. New Braunfels Utilities also will be closed both days, giving some people a little extra time to get their bills in. Bills due Friday will not be considered late as long as they are paid by 5 p.m. Monday. To report power outages during the holiday, call 629-4NBU. The New Braunfels Post Office will be closed Thursday but will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Banks will be closed Thursday but also will reopen for business Friday. Both Comal County school districts ended classes Tuesday but will resume Monday. SCHOOL PLAN SENT BACK Legislators given June I deadline By April Castro Associated Press Writer DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Lone Star Elementary teacher Amy Wright works with the second-grade students in her class Tuesday afternoon. AUSTIN — Prominent state leaders have said for months that lawmakers won t overhaul the tax system until a court orders them to do it. They got what they needed Tuesday when the Texas Supreme Court called the property tax system unconstitutional and gave the state a June I deadline to fix the system. The nine-member Republican panel agreed 7-1 with one of three arguments in a lawsuit brought against the state by hundreds of school districts, but found the system meets constitutional requirements for providing an “adequate” education and equitable facilities funding. Justice Scott Brister dissented, and justice Don Willett did not participate. “This time the Supreme Court has ruled. There is no back door,” said Texas Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, a member of the I louse Public Education Committee. “This deadline is a real, hard, firm deadline. At that point, you can’t finance schools the same way, you have to make the system constitutional, See REFORM, Page 3A A HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL FINANCE BATTLE ■ 1993: Days before a court-imposed deadline threatened to dose Texas schools, the Legislature forces property-rich school districts to share some wealth with poorer ones. ■ 1995: The Texas Supreme Court upholds the share-the-wealth system, sometimes called "Robin Hood." ■ 2001: Then-acting Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, who as a state senator authored the "Robin Hood" funding plan, says it needs review and possible change. ■ Sept. 15, 2004: After a trial brought by 300 districts, both rich and poor, a judge rules the education funding system unconstitutional and threatens to order the state to halt school spending in October 2005. ■ Jan. 11,2005: Legislature convenes in regular session and Perry declares education funding an "emergency' Lawmakers fail to pass a new system before session expires May 30. ■ June 18: Perry vetoes $35 billion in education spending, forcing lawmakers into 30-day special session. Perry calls lawmakers back for another 30-day special session July 20, which also fails to pass a system. ■ Nov. 22:TheTexas Supreme Court rules that local property taxes for school funding amount to an unconstitutional statewide tax and gives the state until June 1 to fix the system. Leaders anxious to find solution By Jessica Sanders Staff Writer Local legislators and school administrators hope Tuesday’s ruling by the Texas Supreme Court could finally be the impetus that pushes through the Texas Legislature an equitable way to fund the state’s schools. The court ruled that caps on local school district taxes were unconstitutional because the current system amounts to a statewide property tax. lite Legislature will have to go into special session to consider other ways to fund school districts. “I assumed all along that the court would rule it unconstitutional,” said state Rep. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels. “I think we ll be back in session by April.” State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-S a n Antonio, said he also State Rep. expected Carter Casteel the ruling The court issued a June I deadline for lawmakers to reach an agreement or face the prospect of schools going unfunded. Though the Texas Legislature has not been able to solve school finance for two years, Wentworth said they will find a solution before the deadline. “We will not let Texas schools lose funding” he said. “That’s not going to happen.” Ron Reaves, superintendent of New Braunfels Independent School District, said he hopes that the Legislature will meet as soon as possible. He feels the group needs as much time as possible if it is planning to meet the June I deadline. Reaves said he is also concerned that removing the $1.50 cap on property taxes could make district equality more difficult to achieve. “I’m afraid they might not provide a long-term solution,” she said. “Raising the tax cap would only raise the disparity between the rich and poor districts.” However, property-rich districts such as Comal ISD See TAXES, Page 3A Warm, fuzzy The Szing, a new coffee shop, opens its doors in New Braunfels. CERTIFiiD MMI f OgD TAURUS*; Low Milo*! V6. Auto, Powof Window, ft Loch*. Cfi, Factory Warranty J BLUEBONNET 5^“Q& Jeep IS THE DIFFERENCE! http://Www.bbrnotors.conr) ;