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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - September 22, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas |o3uestMm0icropublishing T?¥?T G    2627    E    7PNDE A mJj I jl LJ    7    n    Q    m    - EL ROSO, TX 79903Herald-Zeitung By Erin MAGRUDER Staff Writer Many western Comal County residents are comfortable with the quality of drinking water they receive from the Trinity Aquifer. What they might not know is their water supply is at risk of future contamination by harmful gasoline additives, Comal County Commissioner Jay Minikin said. Minikin is concerned that if underground gasoline storage tanks or connecting pipes leak, the water supply from the aquifer would become contaminated. His fears are not unfounded. On June 11, a pipe leading to an underground gasoline storage tank at a Texaco sta tion a in northern Bexar County was cracked and leaked about 900 gallons of gasoline. The station is at the intersection of Boigfeld Road and U.S. Highway 281, just south of the Comal County line. The leak occurred when an elderly man accidentally backed his vehicle into a gasoline pump, pulling on underground pipes and rupturing them. Minikin said emergency shut-off valves, which stop the flow of gasoline from the storage tank, either did not work or were erro neously turned off by an employee. “The accident was a rare occurrence,” he said. “But we need to know how that leak occurred. If it could happen once, it could happen again.” To date, the leak has contaminated IO wells in an area about a half-mile northeast of the gas station. Since the leak, two of the wells have come clean and no new wells have been contaminated in the past three weeks, Minikin said. The main contaminant is an additive called Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether (MTBE), which helps gasoline bum cleaner. Oral consump- See CONCERNS/5A ■KiL_ MILLIKINHummel shifting its focus By Heather Todd Staff Writer After fighting to keep its doors open this past year, the Hummel Museum is shifting its focus to its most popular art collection — the historical Hummel figurines. Officials at the museum, 199 Main Plaza, said this week they would return more than 300 pieces of two-dimensional art back to the Nauer family in Switzerland. Museum director Doreen Schaeffer said, “The family requested the return of the art, which has been on loan to the museum from the Nauer family since 1991. Preparations are being made at this time to send the art back to Switzerland.” Schaeffer said the art, which already had been removed from exhibits, would be returned in the next two weeks. But officials said the museum still would have more than 1,500 historical Hummel figurines on hand, which were the most popular exhibits for visitors. The museum has one of the world’s largest collections of Hummel collectibles on public display. Schaeffer said the museum’s figurine collection was requested to be on display during a German-American Society conference next month in Austin. In December 1998, officials said the museum had a long-term debt of $350,000 and might be forced to close its doors. Museum president John Lovett said contributions and successful fund-raisers allowed the museum to survive. Schaeffer said, “We sent out word in December and got some very generous contributions from individuals and businesses that allowed us to stay open.” Sister M.I. Hummel was a professionally trained artist who lived in Germany under the Nazi regime during World War II. The figurines were inspired by Sister Hummers original artwork. WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung Tori Wichert (front) covers her eyes as she shares a ride on the Super Slide with Christina Mercier Tuesday night at the 106th Comal County Fair. The carnival midway made its debut Tuesday and also will be open from 6 to 11 p.m. tonight. Admission is $9 per person. The fair officially begins tonight with the traditional “Night in Old New Braunfels” celebration at 6 p.m. in the Comal Corral. For a complete schedule of this year’s events, see page 5A.Fun at the fairLORAboard likes building plan By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff Writer A $27 million proposal to turn the Comal Power Plant into a destination hotel was given a tentative nod Tuesday by Lower Colorado River Authority- board members. “This isn’t all about money,” one board member said. “This is about historical preservation. I think we should pursue this.” The board did not take official action on the proposal during the three-hour workshop at Lake Buchanan. In fact, LCRA general manager Mark Rose said he planned to contact officials at Southwest Texas State University who also might be interested in the 163,800-square-foot structure on Landa Street near Landa Park. But LCRA senior project manager Jeffrey Singleton will continue working with Morgan Hill in Houston, who submitted the hotel proposal several months ago. Morgan Hill Interest was the only entity to submit a proposal. Singleton said a development agreement should be brought before the board in three to four months. Dunng that time. Hill w ill apply to have the plant listed on the national registry of historical places. He also w ill work on securing funding sources, Singleton said. LCRA, which has owned the plant since 1947, would lease the land in a long-term agreement and receive a percentage of any revenue generated. But it wouldn't see any money until the hotel was operational. “We’re wfiling to take the risk,” Singleton said. But their potential partner has a lot of integrity. Singleton said. Singleton said he was impressed by Hills work on a hotel in Bryan which had not yet been completed. Hill’s proposal for the Comal Power Plant calls not only for a hotel but also for at least two new buildings on the 26-acre site, including a restaurant and clubhouse. Other features include hiking trails, a spa, tennis stands and courts, a putting green, chipping range and bridge to Landa Park. Singleton said these features implemented six of the top seven recommendations made by a city committee in January. Singleton said the hotel would bnng $55 million into New Braunfels over a 10-year period though new jobs, tourism, and sales and bed tax revenue. An estimated 45,000 tourists would come to the hotel every year, Singleton said. The plant, built in 1925, has been offline since 1973. LCRA officials are superv ising a major environmental cleanup project, scheduled for completion rn March 2CKK).Inside Abby................................7A Classifieds.....................4-8B Comics...............................2B Crossword..........................7A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies................................7A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................8-10A Today.................................2A Television...........................2B Key Code 76 Breathing life into an old pipe organ Instrument, donated to Sophienburg in 1942, was silent at museum for at least 15 years By Peri Stone-Palmquist Staff Writer Three local men are breathing new life into the pipes of a 19th century cedar pipe organ that has spent at least 15 years silent in the Sophienburg Museum. Retired teacher Barron Schiameus and retired social worker Everett Fey spent the past week dismantling the organ and locating problems. Schiameus said a major problem was a broken pedal, repaired this past week by Gordon Brown, a retired civil service worker. Some of the organ’s stops, w hich activate one of the four sets of pipes, had been disconnected — a problem Schiameus was fixing. And the 188 pipes needed attention, too, so Schiameus and Fey spent most of Tuesday cleaning and tuning each handcrafted piece — a project still not completed. “These pipes — every one of them has to be tuned just right,” Fey said. He has been fixing organs as a hobby for about 40 years. The Sophienburg organ has four sets of pipes — a 4-foot flute, an 8-foot stopped diapason, a 4-foot principal and a 2-foot flute. To tune the pipes, the individual pipe is placed into its slot played, letting compressed air rush through See PIPE ORGANZA WAI Ll/Herald-Zeitung Everett Fey tests one of the cedar pipes of an organ at the Sophienburg Museum, 401 W. Coll St. Fey is one of three area retirees working to restore the instrument. Vol. 148, No, 219 18 pgs. in 2 sections September 22, 1999 Wednesday Contamination concerns commissioner Serving Comal County since 1852 In remembrance WAI U/Herald-Zeitung Loe Pohlman, a Korean War veteran, recites the Pledge of Allegiance Tuesday night at the fifth annual candlelight service for POW/MIAs at the Texas National Guard Armory. 50 cents ;