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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung from New Braunfels, Texas • Page 4

New Braunfels, Texas
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4 A Herald-Zeitung Friday, June 30,1995 Opinion To talk with Managing Editor Doug Loveday about the Opinion page, call 625-9144, ext. 21 Opinion Online contact To submit letters and guest columns electronically by way of online services or Internet, or to simply contact staff members, the Herald-Zeitung's address is "The human spirit cannot be tamed and should not be tamed." Nikki Giovanni writer, 1984 EDITORIAL Danger zone? Incident at courthouse points to need for protection of county employees In the halls and courtrooms of county courthouses across Texas, emotional dramas are played out daily as divorce or child custody hearings are held, as well as other civil and criminal trials. Unfortunately, some people have taken their anger out against family, attorneys or judges inside the walls of courthouses. In recent years, a shooting spree at the Tarrant County Courthouse by a man upset after losing custody of his son and being charged with sexually abusing the youngster resulted in the deaths of two attorneys, with another lawyer and two judges being injured. Following that incident, the U.S.

Marshals Service conducted a security study of three Dallas County buildings. Their findings revealed that most court security increases have come after an incident, rather than being proactive and trying to prevent them. Six months later, however, a triple shooting (murder-suicide) occurred at the George Allen, Sr. Courthouse in Dallas. County employees work every day with contentious-civil and juvenile cases.

Emotions run high, and many worry about the possibility for violence. On Thursday, an incident at the Comal County Courthouse involved a local man who brought a rifle to the courthouse. While the rifle was never carried inside the courthouse, employees and law enforcement personnel were all relieved that the incident did not escalate. But what about the next time? While police averted what could have been a dangerous situation, Comal County officials should take this opportunity to buck ihe trend discovered in the U.S. Marshals Service study and take a long, hard look at how workers and visitors can be protected from those who might try to bring weapons into the courthouse.

After taking that long look, proactive action should follow. (Today'a editorial was written by Managing Editor Doug Loveday.) Write us The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung welcomes letters on any public issue. The editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should be kept to 250 words. We publish only original mail addressed to The New Braunfels Herald- Zeitung bearing the writer's signature.

Also, an address and a telephone number, which are not for publication, must be included. Please cite the page number and date of any article that is mentioned. Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the previous 30 days. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, Texas 78131-1328 New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung Editor and Publisher David Sullens General Manager Cheryl DuVall Managing Editor Doug Loveday Advertising Director Tracy Stevens Circulation Director Carol Ann Avery Pressroom Foreman Douglas Brandt Classified Manager Laura Cooper City Editor Roger Croteau Published on Sunday mornings and weekday mornings Tuesday through Friday by ihe New Braunfels HeraU-Zeitung (USPS 377-880) 707 Landa or P.O.

Drawer 3 1 328. New Braunfels, Cornal County, Tx. 78 1 3 1 1 328. Second clais postage paid by the New liraun- feis Herald-Zeiiung in New Braunfels, Texas. Carrier delivered in Comal and Guadalupe counties: three months, $19; six months, $34; one year.

$60. Senior Citizen Discounts by carrier delivery only: six months, $30; one year, 5.56. Mail delivery outside Comal County in Texas: three months. six months, $52; one year, $97.50. Mail outside Texas: six months, $75; one year, $1 12.25.

Subscribers who have not received a newspaper by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or by 7:30 a.m. on Sunday may call (210J 625-9144 or by 7 p.m. weekdays or by 1 1 a.m on Sunday. Fireworks a part of American history Marie Dawson Bang! Wow! Zowie! Hot Dog! Look at that! Woweeee! It's the Fourth of July (almost) and the city of New Braunfels has allocated a lot of money toward the fabulous fireworks exhibit in the park.

Nobody does it as well on the amount of money they have to spend. Fourth of July means fireworks to most people. It is hard to imagine the Fourth without them. Have you ever thought about the history of fireworks? Even before the first Fourth, over 200 years ago, revolutionary leader John Adams imagined the part name for fireworks at that would play in its observance. On July 3,1776, he wrote to his wife that the next day would be "the most memorable in the history of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary pomp and and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore." Lighting fireworks was one of the colonists' favorite ways to celebrate special holidays. The custom was brought over by the earliest settlers from England and Europe. Fireworks were a natural part of the first Fourth in 1777 and the grand celebration in 1789 when George Washington became the first president. By the late 1800's and early 1900's, the American public could easily buy and set off dangerously powerful firecrackers. The national day of celebration was turned into a national day of tragedy.

So many terrible accidents happened that the Fourth was called "Death's Busy Day." Americans ignored the risk and kept right on buying bigger and louder fireworks. One favorite cracker was a foot and a half long. Dropped into an iron letter box, it could blow it to pieces. Toy pistols with play "ammunition" could accidentally explode in a child's hand as he was loading the gun or cannon. Earth and clay mixed with the gunpowder in the blanks got into the burn wounds.

The dirt sometimes contained germs of an often fatal disease, tetanus. On July 4,1903, fireworks accidents occurred that injured almost 4,000 people and killed 445. Of these victims, 406 died of tetanus. Between 1900 and 1930, more than 4,000 people died from fireworks-related accidents. Soon, it seemed that celebrating our independence was costing more lives than winning it.

Eventually, lawmakers and manufacturers began to respond to the tragic events. In 1938, a model law was written for states to follow if they wanted to. The law banned the sale and use of all fireworks to the public. Only licensed operators or special groups, like police or firefighters, could shoot fireworks. Since 1976, the U.S.

Consumer Product Safety Commission, with the help of the American Pyrotechnics Association (a group of manufacturers and distributors), has regulated the manufacture and labeling of fireworks for public sale. The commission also sets performance standards and new fireworks on the market are tested to make sure they conform to the rules. Federal government transportation laws divide all explosives into three categories: and C. Legal fireworks for sale to the public are called Class common fireworks or home fireworks. The fireworks used by professionals are Class B.

These contain large amounts of explosive material and can only be set off at licensed public displays. Compared to a Class firecracker, containing 50 milligrams of flash powder, a Class noise-making a contain one ounce of flash powder or 28,400 milligrams. Military explosives, such as bombs and artillery shells, are Class A explosives. The fireworks industry strongly supports present governmental regulations. If fireworks were totally banned, legal manufacturers and distributors fear that illegal manufacturers would cash in on the opportunity and sell more dangerous fireworks without any concern for safety.

Even though fireworks will never be completely harmless, the problems of the past have been greatly reduced. More Americans are using fireworks, but the percentage of population being injured is far smaller. Since the Bicentennial, the popularity of fireworks is booming. Celebrating with fireworks reached new heights at the Liberty Weekend centennial celebration for the Statue of Liberty on July 4,1986. Billed as the world's biggest fireworks show, the spectacle in New York Harbor required three of America's largest fireworks companies to produce it: Fireworks by Grucci, Pyro-Spectaculars and Zambellie Interna- tionale.

Some spectators paid as much as $25,000 a weekend to rent apartments with good views of the fireworks. Even though the history of primitive fireworks goes back 2000 years to the Chinese, through the centuries credit has been given to the Arabs, the Germans, the Greeks and the English. The Italians got involved in the 15th and 16th centuries and were known for their lavish ground productions. Also the Italians invented the pinwheel that spews forth streams of sparks. Pinwheels are still in use today.

Italian firemasters were in demand throughout Europe by princes and kings who wanted the best in fireworks for their crowning ceremonies, weddings, peace celebrations, and religious festivals. With a variety of fireworks all blazing at once, an Italian "temple" was a spectacular sight. In contrast, fireworks shows in northern Europe, including Sweden, Denmark, and the German states, were shot from the ground and burst high overhead, much like our modern displays. Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about fireworks. As you can see, especially from our New Braunfels celebration, the American tradition of fireworks, even though borrowed from other lands (along with all our other culture and heritage) appears to have a very strong future.

Enjoy your Fourth of July, a grand and glorious, old-fashioned holiday. Remember the freedom that we are celebrating and give thanks for the Grand Old Flag. After reading about early fireworks, I now understand the meaning of the expression, "Have a safe Fourth." I hope you all do. (Marie Dawson is a New Braunfels resident who writes exclusively about senior citizen issues.) Liberals fear gains by minorities lost Send address changes to the New Herald-Zeitung, P.O. Drawer 31 1328.

New Braunfels.Tx. 78131-1328. WASHINGTON (AP) In dramatically rewriting the rules for redistricting, the Supreme Court raised the specter of erasing recent political gains by blacks and other racial minorities and dealt a blow to civil rights groups still reeling from other recent setbacks. But whether the ripple from Thursday's decision will be as devastating as many liberals predict is far less clear than the left's foreboding rhetoric would indicate. In another 5-4 ruling on a controversial case, the divided court threw out a Georgia redistricting plan, ruling that race could not be the predominant factor in crafting political district lines.

Today In History Analysis The case dealt with Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney's oddly shaped, majority black district, but the ruling calls into questions at least a half-dozen House seats crafted under similar circumstances. Not to mention state legislative and other local districts crafted with the explicit goal of increasing the numbers of blacks and Hispanics in office. In an interview, two-lime Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson predicted legal challenges by the dozens, and said the court had made a "revolutionary rejection" of minority voting rights. "1996 is going to look a lot like 1896," he predicted.

Allies on the left echoed his dire prediction. Wade Henderson, legal director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called the decision "the first step in the resegrcgation of American electoral democracy." President Clinton didn't go that far, but said the decision "threatens to undermine the promise of the Voting Rights Act." But other voices in the debate predicted the Georgia decision would have far less reach. For starters, the court agreed to hear cases next year involving challenges to Texas and North Carolina redistricting plans. The lines in those states would be ripe for challenge under the Georgia decision, but are now tied up in the Supreme Court. And the court let stand a California redistricting plan in which race was a factor but not the only factor in drawing the lines.

So while describing the Georgia case a clear setback to protecting black-majority districts, Deval Patrick, the head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said all was not lost. "We still have a fighting chance, and we're still in this struggle," he said. By The Associated Press Today is Friday, June 30, the 181st day of 1995. There are 184 days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: On June 30, 1971, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering the minimum voting age to 18, was ratified as Ohio became the 38th slate to approve it.

On this date: In 1834, the Indian Territory was created by Congress. In 1859, French acrobat Blondin (born Jean Francois Gravclct) crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope as 5,000 spectaiors watched. In 1870, Ada H. Kepley of Effingham, 111., became America's firsl female law school graduate. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act became law.

In 1921, President Harding appointed former President Taft chief justice of ihe United Stales. In 1934, Adolf Hitler began his "blood purge" of political and military leaders in Germany. Among those killed was Ernst Roehm, leader of the Nazi stormtroopers and Hitler's one-time ally. In 1936, the novel "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell was published in New York. In 1952, "The Guiding Light," a popular radio program, made its debut as a television soap opera on CBS.

In 1963, Pope Paul VI was crowned the 262nd head of the Roman Catholic Church in an outdoor ceremony at St. Peter's Square. In 1971, a Soviet space mission ended in tragedy when three cosmonauts aboard Soyuz 11 were found dead inside their spacecraft after it had returned to Earth. In 1984, John Turner was sworn in as Canada's 17th prime minister, succeeding Pierre Elliott Trudeau..

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