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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 30, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas N EW (^tilbNFELS 2 033 2 HOOO 10/22/00 SO WE S T MIC RO PU BL I SH 2 62 7 E YR NT) El I.. DR """Bf-"Herald-ZeitungVol. 149, Nov. 8    16    pages    in    2    sections    November    30,    1999    ^    I    TT-^    4    x    7    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents ^    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852 “Before there was one threat to worry about from ^Eastern Europe. Today; we are confronted with a lot of risks from all sides — the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and destabilized countries.” Werner Schmitt senior briefing officer, NATO Trails group not giving up its dream Grant denial has Comal County Trails Inc. looking for other funds By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff writer A spokesman for a local nonprofit said it would seek alternate funding for three local proposed hike and bike trails that recently were deemed ineligible for state grant money. Comal County Trails Inc. president Peter Olsen said the group also would work on “sharpening up proposals” for the state grant money, administered through the Texas Department of Transportation. The group recently found out TxDOT deemed its proposals ineligible for grant money because of a missing resolution from the city. The state would have provided 80 percent funding for chosen projects and required 20 percent funding through the city, private donations or in-kind contributions. Proposed trails included a 3/4-mile Little League access trail, a 4.6-mile Loop 337 trail and a 8.8-mile urban bike network, looping from Landa Park to Faust Street Bridge to Gruene. The three projects totaled about $2.1 million. Maintenance of the three trails, about $50,000 a year, would have fallen on the city. In a letter to city manager Mike Shands, TxDOT executive director Charles W. Heald said the nomination needed a resolution from the city committing to the recommendation, implementation, development, construction, maintenance and financing of the project. In July, New Braunfels City Council members voted to approve the four projects while voicing concern about how much money the city would have to provide up front and for maintenance. The issue was listed as a discussion and action item, not a resolution item, on the agenda. In October, Mayor Stoney Williams signed a letter to TxDOT saying the city was “committed to pursuing specific funding sources upon receiving the grant.” This letter, Heald said, was not an “official document authorized by the city’s governing body.” TxDOT’s decision is not the only setback the group has endured. Comal County Trails began as an advocacy group for the proposed Rails to Trails, an attempt to buy the abandoned MKT railroad line in the center of New Braunfels and transform it into a trail system. But in October 1998, Union Pacific decided to reactivate the line. “I think we continue because of a serious commitment to make the city a more livable space,” Olsen said. “It’s not the only thing that’s important. But it’s one of them.” The group recently was awarded a resource grant from the National Park Service, Division of Rivers, Trails and Conservation, which provides two people to help work on planning efforts. Olsen said the staff people would work on three major projects: • Alternate funding for the proposed trail projects; • Sharpening the proposals for TxDOT’s grant money (Olsen said he was not sure when the group could apply again. It might have to wait two years or more, he said.); and • An urban bicycle symposium to draw together as many people as possible to discuss ways to make New Braunfels more bicycle-friendly. “I think we continue because of a serious commitment to make the city a more livable space. It s not the only thing thats important. But it s one of them.” Peter Olsen Comal County Trails Inc. president North Atlantic Treaty Organization The 19 member countries Two top NATO officials visited New Braunfels Monday to strengthen... T ransatlantic links By Heather Todd Staff Writer Belgium Canada Czech Republic Denmark France Germany —■ Greece Hungary Iceland Italy Luxembourg Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Spain Turkey United Kingdom United States Euro-AtlantieParffrersfflp Council Member Countries The 19 NATO Member Countries plus: Albania Armenia Austria Azerbaijan Belarus Bulgaria Estonia Finland Georgia Kazakhstan Kyrghyz Republic Latvia Lithuania Moldova Romania Russia Slovakia Slovenia Sweden Switzerland former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Tadjikistan Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan Source: NATO More than 60 years ago, Commander Werner Schmitt’s grandfather served as the mayor of Braunfels, Germany — a city with ties to many local families. On Monday, the younger Schmitt, a senior briefing officer with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, visited New Braunfels, the American sister-city of Braunfels, Germany, to discuss the ties — political, economical, and historical — that bind the United States and Europe. Schmitt and Major Jean-Marie De Blende, both senior military officers from NATO’s major military commands, spoke to local media and political representatives Monday about NATO’s ongoing efforts to create a secure environment in a constantly changing world. Schmitt is the deputy chief of public information at Allied Command Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk, Va. De Blende is a staff officer in the public services section of the public information office at Allied Command Europe, Mons, Belgium. The briefing team is scheduled to give presentations to media, civic groups, political staffs, business and educational groups in the San Antonio and Austin metropolitan areas through Friday. Schmitt, a German native, said the purpose of the NATO visits was to educate the American public about the history of the organization and its new strategy for managing peace and dealing with crises. “We are here to ensure the trans-Atlantic link remains stable. You look at history and there are economical and historical links between the two continents,” Schmitt said. “Look at New Braunfels — the name says it. You can see the German heritage here.” Four local students, two from New Braunfels High School and two from Canyon High School, also met with De Blende and Schmitt during lunch to discuss current issues facing the organization. Jim Kohler, journalist first class with the United States Navy and NATO briefing team coordinator, said NATO established the briefing teams in the early 1980s to provide the public with information. NATO briefing teams visit 20 metropolitan areas during IO separate trips each year to discuss NATO issues. On April 4, 1949, 12 nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty in WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung NATO dignitary Major Jean-Marie De Blende (right) of the Belgian Air Force speaks to Michael Kendel, left, and David Brandt about NATO's history and future on Monday at the New Braunfels Smokehouse. Six student representatives were invited to the luncheon. Washington, D.C., creating an alliance of independent countries militarily prepared to maintain peace, defend freedom and foster stable international relations. Three countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, joined the Alliance in March 1999. Today, NATO is an association of 19 sovereign nations united in preserving their security through collective self-defense. De Blende, an officer in the Belgian Air Force, said NATO was not a military organization but a defensive regional organization. He said any actions taken by NATO, such as the use of NATO forces in Kosovo, had to be agreed upon by all 19 member nations. “If one nation is against it, NATO cannot take action,” he said. Since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Schmitt said the challenge of maintaining a secure environment in Europe changed drastically. See NATO/5 A U.S. 281 overpass ounce for completion in Janua From Staff Reports    project began. From Staff Reports Drivers on U.S. 281 soon might have one less hassle to deal w ith during their daily commute. Construction of the new overpass on 281 at Farm-to-Market 1863 should be completed by mid-January, said Michelle Kopp, assistant area engineer for TxDOT. Commuters on U.S. 281 have been dealing with the construction since January 1998, when the $6.4 million project began. When construction is complete, a four-way stop will be made at the FM 1863 and frontage road intersection, the existing roadway for U.S. 281 at the intersection will become the frontage road and U.S. 281 will remain two lanes in both directions. The new overpass should make the U.S. 281 and FM 1863 intersection a safer route for commuters because it will re-route high speed traffic away from cross traffic, TxDOT officials said. Inside Abby...................................7A Classifieds.....................5-8B Comics...............................3B Crossword..........................7    A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies................................7A Obituaries...........................3A Sports.............................1-2B Today.................................2A Television...........................8A www.herald-zeitung.90m Key code 76 Character education program designed to build good citizens By Heather Todd Staff Writer Lessons in honesty, integrity and responsibility might seem basic for school curriculum, but school officials throughout the state believe they might be the key to preventing violence and building better citizens. New Braunfels Independent School District recently joined more than 300 school districts in Texas implementing character education programs into the classrooms. NBISD trustees approved a pilot charac ter education program Nov. 16 that w ill be integrated into counseling programs at schools that choose to participate during the spring semester. Sandi Etheredge, coordinator for special programs for NBISD, said the program, called “Building Good Citizens for Texas: A Character Education program”, emphasized 12 citizen components each month. The character traits include honesty, responsibility, compassion, perseverance, See CHARACTER/5A ;