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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Council weighs pact on bed tax with Chamber

Town of Pecos City Council members will discuss an agreement with the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce on use of the hotel/motel occupancy tax, and discuss two grant applications from the Texas Department of Agriculture for local businesses during their regular meeting, which has been moved up a day to 7 a.m. on Wednesday at City Hall.

The city and the chamber have been in discussions on how to divide up funds from the funds from the hotel/motel bed tax. During a meeting last month, Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Dutchover presented the bed tax committee with the recommended proposal by the board members, which called for removing the $160,000 cap on the current formula, but maintaining the established distribution of funds between the chamber’s advertising budget, general fund and the West of the Pecos Museum.

The questions about the cap arose due to increases in the city’s bed tax revenues, which city finance director Sam Contreras said that the collections were expected to surpass the $160,000 cap for the first time this year, due to the city’s improving economy.

Contreras said the city was concerned that the current plan would not provide enough money for other items including repairs and utility payments at the Chamber’s Cedar Street office, while chamber officials had questions about the use of the bed tax funds to help fund the city’s Main Street Program.

The grant applications with the Department of Agriculture would come from the Texas Capital Fund of the agency’s Texas Community Development Program, and are being sought by two local businesses, Alfredo’s Restaurant and Trans-Pecos Foods.

Al Gomez of Alfredo’s Restaurant, talked to the council in August about his placed to seek a $500,000 TCDP loan, which is to relocate their restaurant from 10th and Cedar streets to the old Ben’s Pharmacy building, at Third and Oak streets.

The TCDP program is designed to offer loans to communities to encourage them to expand or relocate businesses. The city would control any building that is renovated or expanded under terms of the loan, which carries a zero percent interest rate.

The council was told at the time a TCDP grant application can go as high as $750,000, and that under the terms of his proposed loan, Gomez would have to employ at least 20 people at his business.

Other items on Wednesday’s agenda include the appointment to the Reeves County Appraisal Board, and the approval of elected fire department officers, the city’s bank depository contract and a status report on the city’s landfill.

New officers were elected on Friday by the fire department, with Freddy Contreras being chosen as the new fire chief, Melvin Orona as first assistant and Roy Pena as second assistant. Other officers are Javier Contreras as secretary/treasurer, Juan Prieto and Cesar Urias as safety officers, Noel Ybarra as training officer and Brian Fuentes as fireman’s representative.

Commissioners tab replacement county attorney

Staff Writer

A longtime state legislator, Pecos attorney and businessman was named the emergency replacement as Reeves County Attorney, during a special Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting held at the courthouse Monday morning.

Former State Rep. Richard C. Slack was named to fill the position that was vacated by Luis Carrasco, after he resigned in late October in the wake of an investigation into misuse of county and clients’ funds.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo told the group that the first item on the agenda was formally accepting the resignation of Carrasco and then filling the vacancy.

“I received a letter from Mr. Carrasco on Oct. 28, so his resignation would be effective Oct. 28,” said Galindo.

Carrasco resigned the day after Texas Rangers removed files from his office as part of a warrant search into the alleged missing funds.

Carrasco, who was in his fifth year as Reeves County Attorney, said on Friday he did not want to talk about the situation at this time, but would release a statement at a later date. Galindo’s motion to accept the resignation was approved unanimously, and after a brief discussion, commissioners went into executive session to discuss Carrasco’s replacement. “I have someone in mind, and I would like to give him time to come in,” said commissioner precinct 2 Norman Hill. “Is there a time limit or can it wait for awhile?” he asked.

County auditor Lynn Owens said that there was really no time limit and that the resignation became effective eight days following his resignation letter.

“We still need to formally accept it and have a record of this in court,” said Owens. Owens said that even though Carrasco had resigned, he would still remain on the county payroll until his position was filled.

Following the one-hour executive session, Galindo made the motion that the court appoint Slack to fill the vacancy. The motion was seconded by commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado and approved by all the commissioners.

The 90-year-old Slack is a graduate of Pecos High School and served nearly three decades as the area’s representative in the Texas House. He still maintains a business office in Pecos, along with business operations in Reeves and Presidio counties.

He received his undergraduate education at Texas A&M University earning a Bachelors of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1938 before serving his country in World War II in North Africa and Italy and was awarded the Bronze Star for Heroism in ground combat.

Upon returning from the war he was elected Reeves County Judge and served four years until he was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives where he served for 28 years, from 1952 to 1980.

During the time he served in the legislature he earned a law degree from St. Mary’s Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar.

Slack was appointed to the Texas Ethics Commission when it was formed and served on the Commission for 11 years, four of those as Chairman.

In other business, commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with Texas Political Subdivision to extend workers compensation coverage from Oct. 1, 2005 through Jan. 1, 2006, as request for proposal specified.

Owens told the group that when they accepted the bid from the worker’s compensation provider it was with the stipulation that they would be covered from January through December.

“They operate on a fiscal year which expires Sept. 30,” said Owens.

Owens said that they had told him that the county needed an extension.

“I argued with them and told them that when we accepted their bid it would be like our fiscal year,” said Owens. “They finally agreed and this is just to show that it will be dated correctly.”

Impact of Cebridge’s purchase of W. Texas systems unknown

From Staff and Wire Reports

A sale agreement last week has made the cable TV provider for the Pecos area into the largest cable company in West Texas. But whether or not the proposed purchase by Cebridge Connections of most of Cox Communications regional properties will have an effect of the local system remains to be seen.

Cox announced last Tuesday it has agreed to sell assets covering 940,000 subscribers to St. Louis-based Cebridge, which was created three years ago, following its buy-out of the assets of bankrupt Classic Cable.

The Cox purchase includes West Texas cable systems in Midland, San Angelo, Abilene, Lubbock and Amarillo. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Cebridge’s largest customer base in the area was the systems they took over from Classic Cable, which include Pecos, Barstow, Monahans, Kermit and Crane.

The larger city systems all have local offices that are fully staffed, though on Thursday Josh Holland, with Cebridge’s community relations office, said he did not know if the company would establish a regional office to overall all of the West Texas systems.

“Currently it’s a little too early to tell,” he said. “The deal won’t officially be done until April at the earliest. Given that large a time-frame, it’s hard to tell what will happen.”

Cebridge has maintained only one local office for the area systems it took over from Classic Cable. The office is located in Monahans, but no company officials have been based in West Texas. That has been a source of frustration at times for Town of Pecos City officials, who have received and implemented complaints about problems with the picture quality of the local Fox and ABC affiliates.

The council met with Cebridge officials in Pecos last year over those complaints, and since then the local ABC signal has been improved by picking up a satellite feed from WABC in New York, while the company has worked with Odessa station KPEJ to improve the signal of their translator station on Gomez Peak, southwest of Pecos. Nashville station WRKN and then WABC replaced Midland station KMID on the Pecos system, after KMID and Cebridge could not reach an agreement on finding a new way to transmit the signal to Pecos, after microwave service was discontinued three years ago.

The WABC signal quality in Pecos has been far better than in the final years that KMID’s signal was being picked up without the microwave relay, but the council’s most recent complaints have been over ABC’s telecast of Saturday afternoon college football games. Because the signal comes out of New York, games involving Big 12 teams like Texas and Texas Tech have not been shown. Instead, regional broadcasts of Big 10 and Big East games have aired.

Council member Danny Rodriguez asked city officials at the Oct. 19 meeting to talk to Cebridge officials about getting a different ABC station on the local system. However, Mayor Dot Stafford said on Thursday, “We’ve tried to get a hold of someone, but we haven’t gotten any response.”

Holland said he did not know about the council’s concerns with the ABC college football games, but said he would talk to the company’s local representative in Monahans about the problem.

Along with the sale of its West Texas systems, Cox also will be selling Cebridge cable systems located it North Carolina, serving the Greenville, Rocky Mount, New Bern and Kinston areas; Humboldt County and Bakersfield, California; and much of Middle America Cox, primarily comprised of operations in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

MAC also includes certain systems in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Missouri. Excluded from the sale are some MAC operations serving northwest Arkansas and the Lafayette, La., areas. Once the deal is completed, Cebridge said it would become the eighth largest cable operator in the country, serving more than 1.3 million customers. Cox Communications, the nation's third-largest cable television provider, said it would have roughly 5.4 million basic cable subscribers following the divestiture.

Holland said services currently being offered Cox customers would continue when Cebridge takes over operations. He added that those services are similar to ones already being offered to customers in Pecos.

Light turnout seen for amendment election

From Staff and Wire Reports

Polls will be open in Pecos, Saragosa, Toyah and Balmorhea on Tuesday for Reeves County voters to decide on nine amendments to the Texas Constitution.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pecos Civic Center, Balmorhea Fire Hall, Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center and the Toyah Community Center for the amendment election. Barstow voters in Ward County will also be casting votes at the Community Center there, though turnout both locally and statewide is expected to be low, with no elected offices on this year’s general election ballot.

A total of 259 people voted early for Tuesday’s election, according to Reeves County Clerk Diane Florez. Her office will be closed on Tuesday, due to the amendment election.

Tuesday’s election will be the final one held using the punch card ballots in Reeves County. Following problems with punch card ballots in the 2000 presidential election, state and federal rules were passed mandating the elimination of those machines by 2006.

The county purchased new electronic voting machines earlier this year, which will first be used in March’s primary elections. However Florez said a display model would be at the Civic Center on Tuesday for voters to operate, in order to familiarize themselves with the new system.

Of the nine propositions on the ballot, the most controversial is Proposition 2, which would limit judges from sanctioning same-sex marriage in the state.

Opponents call the amendment unnecessary since state law does not recognize same-sex marriage. They label the amendment a poorly drafted statement of discrimination that could even interfere with the legality of traditional marriage.

Some of the amendments affect only certain areas of Texas. They include Proposition 8, which would force the state to relinquish land claims to 1,820 landowners who have long paid property taxes in Smith and Upshur counties. State voters have approved similar amendments in 1981, 1992, 1993 and 2001 in other counties.

If Proposition 8 fails, ownership rights could be determined in court, a lengthy process that landowners fear. In the end, landowners could be required to repurchase land from the state. Other amendments include Proposition 5, which would allow the Legislature to raise maximum interest rates on big commercial loans, but not affect consumer loans or home mortgages, and Proposition 7, which would allow line-of-credit advances on home mortgages by seniors.

If approved, Proposition 5 would sanction a bill already approved by the Legislature that would let banks and borrowers negotiate any interest rate on commercial real estate loans of $7 million or more and other commercial loans of $500,000 or more.

Approval of Proposition 7 would allow reverse mortgages, in which seniors borrow against the equity in their homes and receive a line of credit. Carole Barasch, a spokeswoman for AARP of Texas, said a line-of-credit option would let seniors borrow against their homes only when they need money.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

School sets Veteran’s Day event

A Veterans Day Program will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, at Bessie Haynes Elementary School.

All veterans in the community are invited to participate.

Credit exam sign-up deadline near

Credit by Examination (without prior instruction), sign up deadline will be Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the counselor’s office at the Pecos High School.

Students can sign up with Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola.

Test dates are Dec. 6-8 at 3:30 p.m., at the high school.

Credit by examination for acceleration allows students enrolled in grades nine through 12 to be awarded credit toward high school graduation for acceleration.

Students who wish to obtain credit for any class that counts toward graduation may apply to take the examination for acceleration. The student may not have been previously enrolled in the class. Application may be obtained from the student’s guidance counselor.

Credit is granted to students who attain 90 percent or above mastery on the examination for acceleration. The test will only be administered once in the fall and spring semesters.

A copy of the testing schedule and application deadlines may be obtained in the counseling office.

RCDC III schedules December job fair

RCDC III will be hosting a Job Fair on Dec. 2, at the Odessa College Pecos Center, 1000 S. Eddy.

The Job Fair is scheduled from noon until 6 p.m.

RCDC welcomes individuals to become part of a special team that performs a difficult job not everyone can or is willing to do. These jobs are necessary and important, providing a valuable service to the community.

For more information contact the Pecos Workforce Network at 432-445-9664 or RCDC III Human Resources at 432-447-2919 Ext. 1508 for employment information.

Rayos celebrates birthday with a party

Anakin Rayos celebrated his birthday on Oct. 24, with a party held in his honor at his great-grandmother’s house.

Theme for the special event was “Spiderman.”

Many friends and family members were on hand to help celebrate the occasion.

Rayos is the son of Jacob Rayos and Debra Abila.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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