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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Matthews set to leave P-B-T for Marlin job

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will soon be searching for a new superintendent to fill the shoes of Ray Matthews, who was accepted a position in another school district in the Waco area.

“I have already turned in my resignation and it will go before the board at the next meeting set for Dec. 8,” Matthews said Monday. His resignation will be on the school board’s agenda at their meeting this coming Thursday, at 6 p.m.

“I have accepted a position in Marlin, Tx. and will start there on Jan. 6,” said Matthews. “The board plans to find an interim and then will begin the search for a new superintendent.

Matthews came to Pecos in August 2004, to replace retiring Superintendent Don Love. He said that he has enjoyed working in Pecos, but that this was a good career move. “Pecos has the best administrative team and staff that I’ve ever had,” said Matthews. “That’s what makes it so hard to leave, the people in Pecos are just great, this is a good community.”

He added that the move to Marlin, about 30 miles southeast of Waco, would also get him closer to family.

Matthews had a daughter in the area, Jennifer Reeves, when he first took the P-B-T ISD job. But she left when her husband, Reeves County Game Warden Brad Reeves, was transferred by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Matthews also has a son, Matt Matthews, who is attending Lamar University, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Matthews, who is originally from Dayton, Tx., attended college in Tyler for two years, received a BBA from Sam Houston State University and worked in the business field for 12 years before going into education.

“I was first a teacher at Cleveland ISD in Cleveland, Tx.,” said Matthews.

Matthews was a bus driver, taught computer literacy and adult classes.

He was assistant principal at Hull-Daisetta for three years and then became superintendent at Richland Springs ISD, which is located in San Saba County in central Texas for four years.

He then moved to Louise ISD and was there for two years.

This is the largest school district that Matthews has been in. “I’ve been at a 1A, 2A and 3A and this is the largest one I’ll be at,” he said.

Council to get new proposals for insurance

Town of Pecos City Council will hear a presentation from Chris Pruitt, KMID general manager, and will also hear proposals for the city’s 2006 health insurance, during their regular meeting on Thursday at 7 a.m. at City Hall.

Council members will also discuss a contract with the Pecos Chamber of Commerce, the sale of land in the West Airport Addition and consider filling an administrative position in the city’s public works department during Thursday’s meeting.

The council was told by the president of the company in charge of securing insurance for the city that medical insurance costs city are headed up following two large claims during the past year. Rick Holder, owner of RH Administrators, talked with the council during their Nov. 21 regular meeting about their upcoming insurance renewal costs, and what the city can do to lower their payout as a result of claims made on the current policy.

“You guys had a relatively bad year,” he said, explaining that the two claims have cost $402,000 so far and may reach $500,000 by the time the current policy coverage period ends.

“There are some things you can do to cut this thing down,” Holder said, which included increasing payments by city workers for dependants covered under the current policy. “What you might want to take a look at is single employees with a child pay $125, and someone who’s married with four children pays $125,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s equitable, for a single person to pay the same as someone with six dependants.”

“You know better what they can afford and what they can’t,” Holder said, after council members said city workers couldn’t afford an increase to their premiums.

Council member Danny Rodriguez also asked Holder about switching the city workers over to mail-in drug prescriptions, which he said he had saved money on. However, Mayor Dot Stafford said doing that would take business away from local pharmacies. “Do we have anybody who can do local deliveries,” Rodriguez asked.

“No we don’t,” said Holder, who added a similar effort in Fort Stockton was met with opposition by pharmacies in that city. He also said there were protests in Pecos several years ago, when his company gave out Wal-Mart pharmacy cards to Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD employees.

“I don’t want to step on local pharmacies,” Holder said. “You might make a call there at 11 o’clock at night for medication Wal-Mart’s not going to deliver for you.”

Holder said the council should wait until after Dec. 1 before beginning serious discussions on getting new health insurance quotes, and no further action was taken.

Pruitt will speak to the council on the problem in getting a signal from KMID’s antenna north of Midland International Airport to Cebridge cable TV customers in Pecos. KMID has been unable to offer an adequate signal for the past four years, since losing access to a microwave relay tower in Notrees. The problem led Cebridge to replace KMID on the Pecos system last fall, but council members and local residents complained last month that the current signal from WABC in New York does not provide local news or Big 12 regional football games broadcast by ABC.

The West Airport property bid at Thursday’s council meeting covers as 4.47 acre tract, and comes after Pecos Economic Development Corp. president Mike Burkholder made a presentation to the council at its last meeting asking the city to give the PEDC several lots of property near Reeves County Hospital in the Airport Addition. Most of the property borders Interstate 20 between Texas Street and the Balmorhea Highway.

“What we’ve been able to do is through grants of land, we’ve been able to leverage that,” he said. “But we’re about out of resources as far as land goes.

“I’ve had some interest shown for some of the land along the Interstate, and the city has land in abundance out there,” Burkholder said “What I’d like to propose is the city deed this land to the PEDC, and we’ll try to develop it.”

“I believe any property we sell has to be let for bid,” said city attorney Scott Johnson. Burkholder said the city would have final approval over any action taken by the PEDC, since it is funded through city sales tax revenues.

“I may have as prospect for six acres of it. I’m not certain, but it has to be approved by the council before we can do anything,” Burkholder said. He later added that the PEDC is also looking at land along I-20 between Country Club Drive and West County Road currently owned by the Pecos Housing Authority, and that ownership of the land would allow the agency to act quicker on business opportunities working through the Texas governor’s office, which requires a response within three days.

Sanchez asked if a survey of the city land could be done before any action is taken. City utilities director Edgardo Madrid said he thought his department could do the work in about two or three weeks.

In other business during the Nov. 19 meeting, the council also discussed taking bids for the city’s 2006 electric power provider contract. City finance director Sam Contreras discussed hiring a consultant to help find the best contract, though the payment, based on a percentage of the total savings in kilowatt-hour costs by the city, was questioned by the council.

“If they get a percentage of the savings, how much savings are we going to get,” asked councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela.

“Usually the energy companies will come in themselves with free consultation,” said councilman Frank Sanchez, a former Texas-New Mexico Power Co. employee.

Grand jurors indict Skelton over shooting

A Barstow man was indicted on Thursday by a Ward County Grand jury in connection with an August shooting that sent another Barstow man to the intensive care unit at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

Grand jurors in 143rd District Court in Monahans indicted Gary Wayne Skelton of Barstow on a count of attempted murder on Thursday at the Ward County Courthouse. However, as of Monday morning, Skelton had not been re-arrested by the Ward County Sheriff’s Department, after he was released on bond in September.

Skelton was charged with shooting Roque “Rocky” Ramirez three times in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle while the two were at a trailer home located at 301 Barstow Ave. in Barstow.

Skelton fled the scene in his pickup, but taken into custody the following morning, after he turned himself in to Loving County Constable Vance Jones in Mentone. He was turned over to Ward County Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Deishler and transported to Monahans following his arrest.

Skelton was later released after bond was set at $100,000 by 143rd District Court Judge Bob Parks. At the time of the bond hearing, Parks said Skelton could have no contact with the alleged victim or any member of his family, and that he cannot come within 1,000 feet of each other.

Ramirez suffered injuries to his spine from the Aug. 17 shooting. His wife Irene said following the shooting neither she nor her husband knew the reason for the attack. “My husband doesn’t know him, and he doesn’t know us,” she said.

Sheriff’s deputies were still searching for both a motive in the shooting, and for the weapon used to shoot Ramirez, which Skelton said he threw out of his pickup somewhere between Barstow and Mentone.

Challenger, three incumbents file to run in March primary

Three incumbents and one new candidate have filed to run in the first two days of the filing period for the March Democratic Party primary election.

The one-month filing period opened on Saturday and the first challenger to file with local party chairman Bobby Dean was Al Gomez, who is seeking the position of Reeves County Judge currently held by Jimmy Galindo. Gomez filed his treasurer about two months ago and took the next step on Monday, filing with Dean to seek a four-year term in office.

Galindo, who has served as county judge since 1995, is one of a number of county officials whose terms are up in 2006. Three of those already have filed to seek new four-year terms, according to Dean.

Linda Clark is seeking re-election to her current position that of Reeves County Treasurer; Walter Holcombe signed up to retain his position as Reeves County Court-at -Law judge and Norman Hill is seeking re-election for Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2.

Individuals who would like to file for a position can contact Dean at 940-4944. He will also set up a temporary office at the old Greyhound bus station at Third and Cypress streets, and will have the appropriate paperwork to fill out on hand.

The other positions up for re-election include Reeves County Clerk, District Clerk, Reeves County Precinct 4 Commissioner and the unexpired term of the Reeves County Attorney. Voters will also elect candidates for the county’s four Justice of the Peace positions, and will have primary elections in several regional races, along with the governor’s race and other statewide elections.

The last day to file for a position will be Jan. 2.

Hearing on B-1’s wake effects set by Air Force

The effects of engine exhaust from low-flying U.S. Air Force bombers on buildings in the Trans-Pecos and Davis Mountains areas will be the subject of a hearing on Wednesday night at the Pecos High School auditorium.

The Air Force will hold the 5 p.m. hearing on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative (RBTI). The RBTI involves low-level flights of B-1 bombers from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. The planes travel at higher altitudes over the South Plains to the RBTI area, an electronic scoring site centered in Reeves County.

The Air Force said in a news release that the Supplemental EIS clarifies and adds to the Final EIS in regards to wake vortex impacts on ground structures and aeronautical information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration. The EIS report is required by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, under an order filed on Oct. 12, 2004.

The ruling was the result of lawsuits filed against the Air Force by area ranchers and landowners, who complained that the flights, which is some areas are less than 1,000 feet off the ground, could both frighten livestock and cause structural damage to buildings in the bombers’ flight path.

The meeting will include an open house with displays at the PHS auditorium. The formal presentation and analysis by the Air Force will begin at 6 p.m., and will include a public hearing comment section.

Latest tests show cancer presence in decline

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 11th part of a story by Enterprise business manager Peggy McCracken on her diagnosis of cancer and surgery in April of this year.

Good news is always welcome at Christmas time. In fact, “good news” is what Christmas is all about. “I bring you good news of great joy,” angels told shepherds on the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

My personal good news is that a recent blood test shows cancer markers are down from 857 to 270 since the last lab report.

“You stay so busy the cancer can’t keep up with you,” my sister Gail quipped.

Maybe. And maybe a change in attitude has helped the healing process. For four months after my oncologist said I would die by Thanksgiving, I kept busy finishing jobs I had started, and getting my affairs in order. I was looking forward to seeing Jesus face to face at Christmas time, instead of just celebrating his birth.

Because I expected it, pain became a daily reminder of the monster that was eating my bones. Then I decided not to give in to it and scheduled a scuba diving session with my son and grandson. I began to feel better even before visiting a new oncologist and learning that the cancer had begun a retreat.

Prayers of friends and family probably had more to do with my change in attitude than anything else, and I credit their prayers for healing. I felt all along that healing would not come unless I asked for it myself, and I was reluctant to do that. I didn’t want to be healed physically unless I was first healed spiritually.

Over the past six months, I have felt some spiritual healing taking place, for which I am grateful. Clarence Oster even told me that I am a joy to be around now. Wow! That is the greatest compliment I’ve had. You who know me can agree with my gregarious sister Mary that I lack social graces.

Kim Ewing prayed from the first that God would use the cancer for His glory, and it appears he is doing so. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.

Unemployment rate, job totals continue fall

Reeves County’s unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a percent in October, according to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission. But the number of jobs and the number of workers within the county continues on the decline, according to the latest figures.

The TWC released its October numbers on Nov. 18, and they showed the local jobless rate fell from 7.5 percent in September to 7.2 percent. The agency said the county had 4,060 people in the workforce in October and 3,769 employed. In September, the number of workers in the county stood at 4,100, while the number of jobs was put at 3,791.

A year ago, the TWC said the county’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent. But the agency also said the county has shed over 140 jobs in the past year, while the workforce declined by 157 people. The 2004 numbers are based on recalculated totals from the 2000 U.S. Census, which the Workforce Commission first introduced in March of this year.

The TWC’s numbers showing a decline in jobs are in contrast to the sales tax collection numbers reported for Reeves County by the Texas comptroller’s office, which indicate an increase in local tax revenues. Sales tax collections within the county during 2005 are up almost 8 1/2 percent over the totals from a year ago, according to the latest numbers from Austin.

The County’s drop in unemployment was reflected across the entire Permian Basin area in October, with most counties reporting a decline of around three-tenths of a percent for the month.

Midland County continued to have the area’s largest workforce, and its jobless rate fell from 3.7 to 3.4 percent. The county added 677 jobs from September to October while the workforce increased by 517 people. Ector County’s jobless rate dropped from 4.4 to 4.2 percent. The county’s labor force grew by 260 people from September to October, while the number of jobs increased by just under 600. Ector County’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent a year ago.

Andrews County saw its rate drop from 4.2 to 4.0 percent in October, as the county added 90 new workers and over 100 new jobs, according to the TWC. The rate is also down from 4.6 percent a year ago. Brewster County’s rate fell from 3.1 in September to 3.0 percent last month, as it’s workforce grew by 74 workers while the number of jobs were up by 81. Crane County’s rate dropped from 5.3 to 5.1 percent, as it’s total number of new jobs also outpaced the increase in its workforce, while Culberson County saw its jobless rate fall from 4.5 to 4.2 percent, as it’s workforce shrank slightly faster than the county’s loss of jobs from the previous month.

Howard County’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent last month, down from 5.2 percent in September, as it added just under 100 jobs while its workforce was up by 63. Pecos County saw its rate drop from 4.6 to 4.4 percent, as the county saw its workforce drop by 17 people while the number of jobs fell by 13 during that span. Ward County’s rate was down from 5.6 to 5.3 percent, as the number of jobs increased by 24 while the number of workers was up by 12 for the month. Winkler County’s unemployment rate was down for the month from 4.9 to 4.8 percent, as the county had 33 fewer workers and 30 fewer jobs than in September.

Presidio County’s rate showed the area’s biggest drop, falling from 9 percent to 7.5 percent. The TWC said the number of workers within the county remained virtually unchanged, while 50 jobs were added during that span.

Kindergarten book fair this week

Pecos Kindergarten is hosting a Scholastic Book Fair this week, Dec. 5-9, from 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. and from 1-3:30 p.m.

The event is being held to raise funds for more books for the library and for classroom library shelves. The Book Fair will feature a wide range of age-appropriate books for pre-school and kindergarten students, especially for the Christmas holidays.

The Book Fair will be open each day from 8:30-11 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.

Parents, students, teachers, families and the community are invited.

On Thursday from 6-7 p.m., the Book Fair will feature a Family Night. Register for your student to win posters and books on the last day of the fair.

USDA holding loan packaging course

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking 20 non-profit organizations to package single-family housing loans and loan/grant applications, and is offering a training course for those interested in applying.

The certification training will be held on Dec. 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the USDA Service Center, 2306 W. Dickenson Blvd., in Fort Stockton. Organizations wishing to package the loan/grants must attend certification training to be eligible.

For further information, contact the USDA office at (432) 336-7585.

Terry inducted in Honor Society

Tiana Terry, of Pecos, was inducted in Kappa Delti Pi - Education Honor Society. Kappa Delti Pi is a part of Mu Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi.

It is an international Honor Society in Education.

An initiation ceremony and reception will be held Thursday, Dec. 1.

Tiana is a junior majoring in education. She attends Prairie View A&M.

Terry is the daughter of Debra and David Terry of Pecos.

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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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