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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 26, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung Roy Daniel, store manager of Walgreens Drug Store, 1093 W. San Antonio St., sets up Christmas merchandise as the store gets ready for today, the biggest shopping day of the year. Let the shopping begin! Holiday sales in question at start of Christmas season By Rachel Beck AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) — There’s no doubt that shoppers will jam into stores and surf the Internet during the next month looking for their holiday buys. But will the big crowds translate into big sales for the nation’s retailers? That’s the question on lots of merchants’ minds this Thanksgiving weekend, the official start of the Christmas shopping season. It’s been a blockbuster year for retailers — both traditional and online stores — but a lot is riding on the next five weeks, when most storeowners tally a significant portion of their annual sales. This past year, merchants rang up more than $ 170 billion in sales during the holiday period. With consumer confidence strong, unemployment levels at 30-year lows and stock prices climbing, expectations are high for this year. Estimates are that Americans will spend at least an average of $500 per family. Analysts project sales at traditional stores will rise 5 percent to 6 percent from this past year. Already in November, sales have been hurt by unseasonably warm weather, which has reduced demand for winter clothes and coats. While the day after Thanksgiving starts the shopping spree, it no longer is the busiest ^shopping (fay of the year. This past year, when about 46 percent of Americans did their holiday buying in the IO days before Christmas, it was the eighth busiest shopping day. Just 9 percent bought gifts during the 1998 Thanksgiving weekend, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York-based trade group.Herald-ZeitungVol. 149, No. 6    24    pages    in    2    sections    November    26,    1999    t-s    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents Friday Postal workers ready for yule By Heather Todd Staff Writer Postal service employees getting ready for the month-long rush of holiday mail have a piece of advice for local residents — don’t wait until the last minute. Every year after Thanksgiving, lines get longer and tempers get shorter at local postal service centers as residents scurry to get Christmas cards and gifts delivered before Dec. 24. But, several mail service employees said New Braunfels residents could avoid the stress of long lines and late mail by getting their Christmas goodies in the mail early. Kathleen Thier, owner of American Mail Center, 609 C Business Loop 35 South, said, “The closer it gets to Christmas, the busier it gets. “Most services start slowing down during the holiday season. If you can get it in early, it’ll ensure that it will be delivered on time.” Kim Rice, manager of Mail-lt-Plus, 651 South Walnut Ave., said changes in delivery service this year made it necessary for residents to get their mail out earlier than usual. “What’s happening this year, is that the (United Parcel Service) is not guaranteeing three-day select service or second-day air. Overnight is guaranteed, but it’s an enormous charge. So, my suggestion is to get it out as soon as they can.” Frank Christensen, supervisor of customer service at the New Braunfels Post Office, 686 South Seguin St., said domestic pack- See POSTAL/5A Fire victims thankful 1-35 killing changes views on driving Gunmen still at large By Erin Magruder Staff Writer As lawmen search statewide for the two men who killed a New Braunfels man on Interstate 35 Wednesday afternoon, local residents are reacting to a tragedy that hit a little too close to home. John Adkins, 28, was killed about noon as he traveled southbound on 1-35. Police are looking for two men, probably Hispanic and in their late 30s to early 40s, last seen headed south near Farm-To-Mar-ket Road 1103 south of New Braunfels. They were in a car described as a late model Ford Crown Victoria or a Mercury Marquis. Police believe the killers are armed and should be considered dangerous. “It certainly seems to fit the road rage profile, but the motive is still undetermined,” said Tom Vinger, Department of Public Safety spokesman. Vinger said the two men might have been racing with Adkins or chasing him before the shooting. The killers fired three shots at Adkins, one of which hit him in the back. Adkins’ car careened out of control and slammed into the back of a white minivan driven by Tok Drake, 44, of San Antonio. Drake’s vehicle flipped at least once before coming to rest upside down on the side of the freeway. She was airlifted to Brooke Army; Medical Center in San Antonio: where she remained in critical condition as of press time Thursday. New Braunfels resident Michael Miller, 34, said the slaying of Adkins should serve as a wake-up call to everyone who believes “big city” crime did not exist in communities like New Braunfels. “What happened should absolutely make a difference in the way people feel about driving on the highway,” Miller said. “I commute to Austin everyday, and everyday I see drivers get angry. We are on the 1-35 corridor, and everything you see in Austin and San Antonio, you are going to see in New Braunfels.” Tammy Cooksey, 22, of New Braunfels, said the shooting made her fearful for her husband, who drives frequently on 1-35. “It is hard for me to come to work everyday, wondering if my husband is going to come home at night or not,” she said. “He is the type of driver who will get really mad at other drivers, but he said what happened Wednesday scared him enough to be more careful.” Adkins was a health and physical education teacher at Center School, an alternative high school in San Antonio, and also taught tennis lessons part-time at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, 325 Mission Valley Road. Adkins lived alone at the Hill Country RV Resort, 131 Ruekle Road. See KILLING/5A Christmas Mailing Tips • Get your mail out as early as possible. • Avoid post offices or mail centers during lunch time or about 5 p.m. • For mail to military personnel, try to mail packages out the first week of December. • When packing fragile or breakable items, use Styrofoam peanuts or bubbles, not newspaper. For heavy items, pack the bottom of the box well because the item will shift to the bottom during travel. for community’s support By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff writer James and Becky Solis’ new home doesn’t look like the home of a family who lost everything in a fire. The house is furnished with cozy couches, TVs, videocassette recorders, a computer and plenty of toys. The family moved in Aug. I, only days after a fire ravaged their home on Allison Drive and claimed most of their belongings. James, Becky and their 5-year-old daughter, Emily, had little to bring to their new house on Guenther Avenue, but friends were one step ahead. “By the time we got in here, it was already furnished,” Becky said. Friends and community members lugged over couches and beds and lined the cupboard with dishes and the closets with sheets, towels and clothes. And in the next few weeks, friends and strangers alike would call or come to the house, asking what the family needed or what size clothes they wear. They hosted fund-raisers and dropped bags of clothes and toys on their doorstep, often anonymously. Just this past week, the family received some Christmas ornaments in the mail. “It’s funny,” Becky said. “I don’t know where a lot of this stuff' came from, but I’m sure glad I have it.” The community’s generosity gives them something to be thankful for this holiday sea- See THANKFUL/5A WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung Becky Solis and her 5-year-old daughter, Emily, gradually recover from the fire that destroyed their home about three months ago. As the holiday season begins, Becky said she really wanted to thank those who helped her family in the past months.*• rn, \ T rn • K File photoThey love the lights! Revelers enjoy the sight of Main Plaza aglow during New Braunfels’ downtown lighting on Nov. 19. Hill Countiy ablaze with seasonal lightsSome displays lighting up today By Dana Jones Herald-Zeitung Correspondent Whether red, green, or white, one thing is sure. The season will be bright. It is truly a wonderland of magical proportions. From New Braunfels to Austin, Burnet to Bulverde, the Hill Country towns and byways go all out to make sights so spectacular that even Scrooge would drop jaw. Locally, a drive-through on the banks of the Guadalupe River will have 52 days to dazzle drivers as part of New Braunfels’ Festtage. Old favorites such as the red bear and the Christmas tree are part of the 40 animated displays that make up the seven-tenths mile drive at the Holiday River of Lights. Where else but in this river city would you find a tubing Santa and dinosaurs grazing on the banks? If you have a math whiz in the family, take them along to count the total number of lights used in the display and then have them enter the “Guess the Lights” contest. The closest winner receives a $1,000 gift certificate from Ernesto’s Jewelry Factory. A short drive north on Interstate 35 will lead to San Marcos, where thousands of lights shine down on the banks of the San Marcos River. Santa will be available for photos beneath a 65-foot tree. Carousels, trains, choirs, and a marketplace are all part of the 13th Sights and See LIGHTS/5AInside Abby.................. ................7A Classifieds......... ...........4-1 OB Comics.............. ................8A Crossword......... ................7A Forum................ ................6A Local/Metro....... ................4A Movies.............. .......7A, 13A Religion............. .........11-12A Sports................ .............1-4B Today................ ................2A Television.......... ................8A Key code 76 ;