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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 19, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas Vol. 148, No. 238    14    pages    in    2    sections    October    19,    1999    JKlSDAY    Servin§    Comal    County    since    1852 50 cents A couple joins the crowd in singing one of the many songs performed Sunday night at the flood remembrance and commemoration service. CHRISTINA MINOR/Herald-Zeitung Wreck kills Marion woman Wet weather blamed for string of accidents on Interstate 35 Flood survivors share memories, pain By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff writer Despite the eerie overcast skies reminiscent of weather a year ago, about I OO people found their way to St. Paul Lutheran Church on Sunday to remember the flood of October 1998 and celebrate survival. The Remembrance and Celebration ceremony was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Landa Park, but organizers with New Braunfels Rebounds and South Texas Flood More on flood service — Page 5A Other communities remember — Page 4A Recovery Project decided the weather was too threatening. At 2 p.m., organizers started setting up in St. Paul’s Fellowship Hall on Santa Clara Street and posted signs at Landa Park explaining the change of plans. “I think weather kept people away,” said Sue Puetz with Rebounds. ‘‘They might not have heard about the change (of locations).” Other people might not have been ready quite yet to celebrate — or remember — this past October’s devastating flood, organizers said. But others were ready. “I’m trying to get some closure,” New Braunfels resident Patti Fowler said. ‘‘But maybe it’s not as hard for me.” See FLOOD/5A Crime rate down in Comal, nation From staff and wire reports Murder and robbery rates dropped to the lowest levels in three decades in 1998 as serious reported crimes declined for the seventh straight year, but officials and experts warn against complacency. The overall violent crime rate — 566 murders, rapes, robberies and assaults per 100,000 residents — dropped to its lowest level since 556 in 1985, just before an epidemic of crack cocaine emerged to send it soaring. Robbery, assault and burglary rates in Comal County, including New Braunfels, dropped in 1998, following a national trend of decreased serious reported crimes. The robbery rate in Comal County decreased with 54 offenses in 1997 and only 41 reported robberies in 1998. The number of assaults dropped from 107 to 99, while the number of buiglaries also dropped with 592 in 1997 and 482 in 1998. Local law enforcement officers credited the lower crime rate to heightened law enforcement presence. ‘‘With Comal County growing so fast, it is unusual to have a decrease in the crime rate,” said Capt. David Ott of the Comal County Sheriff’s Department. “The extra number of officers we have out there must be making the difference.” Unlike the national statistics, the number of sexual assaults, murders and motor vehicle thefts in Comal County increased from 1997, according to the state crime report. The number of reported sexual assaults increased from 26 in 1997 to 38 in 1998. However, Ott said the increase in the number of sexual assaults might not be as drastic as the numbers reflect. “The more knowledgeable officers are about sexual assaults in the county, the more sexual assaults they will find out about,” Ott said. Motor vehicle thefts increased from 95 in 1997 to 121 in 1998, while the number of murders increased from none in 1997 to one reported murder in 1998. President Clinton and others warned against complacency. “This is good news for America’s families, and it shows we can indeed turn the tide on crime,” Clinton said in a statement. But, he added, “even as crime falls, we must not let down our guard. That is why we must redouble our efforts to build on what works...” Left: After several car accidents on Interstate 35 in the Farm-to-Market Road 306 area, traffic in the southbound lanes of 1-35 was bumper to bumper. Bottom: Police officers investigate the accident that claimed the life of Marion resident Andrea Vital. WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung By Heather Todd Staff Writer Slick roads and careless drivers were to blame for a series of accidents that claimed the life of a Marion woman and stalled traffic on Interstate 35 for more than an hour Monday afternoon. Andrea Vital, 40, was pronounced dead by Pct. I Justice of the Peace Diana Campos about 4 p.m. at the scene of an accident in the 1400 block of Interstate 35. Vital was driving a 1994 Mazda pickup in the southbound lane of 1-35 when the pickup collided with the rear of a 1996 Chevy four-door one ton pickup. A passenger in the Mazda, Barbara Martinez of Marion, was transported to McKenna Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. Lt. John Wommack with the New Braunfels Police Department said Julian Montalvo, 47, of Uvalde, was driving the one-ton pickup in the rain-slick northbound lane of 1-35 about 3:45 p.m. when he braked for traffic and lost control. Wommack said Montalvo spun into the median of I- 35 and slid backward into the southbound lane. After being struck from behind by the Mazda pickup, the Chevy pickup came to rest on an embankment beside the southbound lanes of 1-35. Vital’s vehicle spun and stopped in the median of the interstate. Wommack said three passengers in the Chevy were not injured. “There have not been any charges filed as yet, but we’re still looking into it,” he said. Wommack said traffic congestion after the accident and wet roads contributed to several more accidents on southbound 1-35. Officials with the Department of Public Safety in New Braunfels said they worked about five acci dents along the interstate. Officials blamed slick roads and drivers traveling too fast for the weather conditions. Police officials said they worked about seven accidents in town by late Monday afternoon. Traffic on the southbound lanes of 1-35 was rerouted just south of Farm-to-Market 306 to allow emergency officials to clear the accident scene. Traffic, which was backed up to Rip Griffin Travel Center at 4817 North IH 35, was allowed back on the interstate about an hour and a half later. The wet conditions that have been in the area since Sunday came exactly one year after a devastating flood destroyed homes and businesses in Comal County. But, forecasters said the rain was not expected to stay in the area today. As of early Monday evening, New Braunfels got a little more than half an inch of rain since Sunday. Forecasters said to expect mostly cloudy skies today with decreasing clouds in the afternoon. I lighs are expected in the upper 60s and with partly cloudy skies tonight and lows in the mid 40s. Wednesday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with highs in the low 70s. WORD to hear water planning presentation From Staff Reports SATTLER — Doug Miller, representing the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group, will address the Comal County Water Oriented Recreation District when it meets at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting will take place at the Canyon Lake Action Center, 1951 Farm-to-Market Road 2673, in Sat-tler. WORD manager Jim Inman said Miller was expected to speak about water planning and the proposals for Comal County. The water planning group was formed through Senate Bill I, which established 16 groups to prepare water plans to address needs in their respective regions. Water plans must be submitted to the Texas Water Development Board by Sept. I, 2000.Inside Abby...................................7A Classifieds.....................3-6B Comics...............................8A Crossword..........................7A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies................................7A Obituaries...........................3A Sports.............................1-2B Today.................................2    A Television...........................8A Key code 76 Parents can do homework before teacher conferences By Heather Todd Staff Writer The only time many parents ever sit down face-to-face with their children’s teachers is to discuss unpleasant matters —-poor grades or disruptive behavior in the classroom. But, local educators say a child’s success in school can be significantly increased ifWhat to ask the teacher — Page 3A parents communicate more with teachers and take a more active role in the learning process. Both Comal and New Braunfels school districts are scheduling parent-teacher con ferences at the primary and elementary levels, and parents are encouraged to participate. Many CISD parents already have scheduled appointments with teachers today through Thursday. All students in CISD schools will be released early at 1:30 p.m. through Thursday to facilitate parent-See CONFERENCES/3A ;