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Area Newspapers


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, May 5, 2000

Rising oil prices help to increase area's valuations

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 5, 2000 - Higher oil prices people have seen reflected in higher gas prices at the pump for the past several months will also mean more money for most area taxing entities in Fiscal Year 2001, according to preliminary valuations released this morning by the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District.

Higher mineral valuations, due mostly to rising oil prices, resulted in six of the counties' eight taxing entities seeing increases in their net taxable values this year.

The biggest increase went to the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, due to lands in the Barstow area of Ward County. "The schools lucked out because of reproduction in Ward County," said chief appraiser Carol King Markham. "They went in and did over some wells."

The change boosted mineral valuations by just under $9 million, while real estate valuations in the school district were up $354,370.

Valuations were also up overall for Reeves County and the Reeves County Hospital District, despite losses in real estate valuations of $1.5 million. Mineral valuations for both districts increased by $3,413,120, giving the county and hospital a net rise of $1,913,650.

The Town of Pecos City's real estate valuations rose by $480,920, while mineral valuations were up $2,646,990 for a net gain of $3,127,910, meanwhile, valuations in Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2 jumped by just under $1.4 million, despite an $8,760 decline in real estate valuations.

Markham told appraisal board members this morning the mineral valuation increases in Pecos were related mainly to utilities and pipelines.

The city of Balmorhea also saw its valuations rise, but by only $94,660, as a $146,610 rise in real estate values was offset by a drop in mineral values of $51,950. "Balmorhea doesn't have oil, just gas and they cut some of the gas production," Markham explained.

Balmorhea ISD got hit even harder. Its mineral valuations dropped $707,450, while real estate values fell $589,780 for a net loss of $1,297,230. Markham said the larger loss in real estate was due to the closing of the four-year-old Brunswick-Roadmaster bicycle shipping warehouse, after the company decided in January it could buy bicycles cheaper in China than it could build them in Ojinaga, Mex., for shipping across the U.S. out of the Balmorhea building.

Toyah situation was similar to Balmorhea's on valuations. The city lost just over $935,000 in valuations, all but $6,650 of that due to lower mineral values.

Toyah's drop represented nearly 40 percent of the city's total taxable value, which Markham said was due in part to property moves by Union Pacific Railroad. The city's taxable value was put at $1.335 million, while Balmorhea had $3.637 million and the Balmorhea ISD $18.15 million.

Overall, taxable valuations in the county and hospital district were put at $361.2 million, while Pecos had $117.6 million in net taxable.

Markham said because of the ongoing drought, agriculture valuations were down this year in Reeves County and western Ward County. Housing sale prices also slipped in relation to valuations, but the board voted to allow homebuyers to use the sale price for one year on their valuations.

The increase for the school district represented the first rise in total valuations for P-B-T since 1990. Valuations at that time were put at $541.7 million, which is $165 million above this year's total of $376.3 million.

"We're tickled to death to have the money," said P-B-T Superintendent Don Love, but he added that under the funding formula for district such as Pecos, the bulk of the district's money is based on student enrollment and attendance.

"The number one key to Chapter 42 formula schools is kids. When you've lost 117 kids like we have so far since the start of school, that's $439,000. That has to be made up somewhere," Love said.

"What people have to understand is the state lets you raise as much money as you raised last year, so we may have to drop down to go up," he said. Based on collection formulas, the school district may get an extra $119,000 from the valuations increase, but the state won't fully fund a school district that does not have a tax rate at $1.50 per $100 valuation.

Valuations for the schools this year were just over $1.43 per $100, and the school can raise its tax rate by as much as six cents, after they drop it due to the increase in valuations.

Love said to qualify for the maximum Tier II funding for the next two years, the school has to get its tax rate as close to $1.50 per $100 valuation as possible. P-B-T, along with other area taxing entities, will set their rates based on the new valuations starting late this summer.

Markham said after appraisal statements are mailed out later this month, the Appraisal Review Board would hold hearings on mineral

El Paso woman dies in Thursday crash

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 5, 2000 - An El Paso woman was killed and two injured in an early morning accident Thursday that occurred on Intestate 20, just five miles east of Pecos.

The accident happened at 5:50 a.m., at mile marker 45, five miles east of Pecos and involved three people from El Paso.

The victim was identified as Silva Barraza Reyes, 46, who was driving a 1995 Chevrolet, which was the only vehicle involved in the accident, according to Department of Public Safety

Reyes was pronounced dead at Reeves County Hospital at 9:50 a.m., by Justice of the Peace J.T. Marsh and her body was taken to Martinez Funeral Home.

Injured in the accident were Paul Reyes, 19, who is listed in stable condition at Reeves County Hospital and Sandra Escalante, 16, also of El Paso, listed in stable condition, but transferred to Lubbock Methodist Hospital by an Aerocare flight.

The accident happened when the vehicle, driven by Reyes, drove off the roadway to the left side of the roadway near a curve while eastbound on I-20. The driver overcorrected to the right, ran off the road into a barrow ditch overturning two to three times.

Trooper Dan Woods of Pecos investigated the accident.

Area elections to be decided on Saturday

PECOS, May 5, 2000 - Area voters who have not already gone to the polls will get one last chance to do so on Saturday, when local city, school and hospital elections are held in Pecos and surrounding towns.

Contested elections in most local races resulted in early voting in Pecos hitting its highest level since 1989, according to Debbie Thomas, early voting clerk for the city, school and hospital district in Pecos. A total of 1,402 people voted early by personal appearance, or just 200 fewer than cast votes early this year for city elections in Odessa.

Thomas was also expecting to get back another 250 to 260 ballots by mail before Saturday's deadline.

Voters casting ballots on Saturday in Pecos for the city, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school and Reeves County Hospital District elections can do so at the Pecos Community Center, 510 South Oak Street, while other towns will also have voting locations opened on Saturday.

Toyah voters can cast their ballots for the city, school and hospital elections at the Toyah City Hall, while Barstow voters can go to the Barstow Community Center to vote in the P-B-T and city elections. In Orla, voters can cast ballots in the school and hospital elections at the Red Bluff Lake Office, while Saragosa residents can vote in the same two elections at the city's multi purpose center.

Voters in the Balmorhea ISD and Balmorhea City elections can cast ballots at the Balmorhea Fire Hall from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., while the hospital election voting in Balmorhea will be at the Community Center.

This year's early voting in Pecos was the biggest 1989, when 1,592 individuals cast their vote early. In 1990, the number was about 300 votes lower, at 1,279, and dropped by another 300 in 1991, when 981 people cast their votes early. A total of 3,427 votes were cast in 1989, when the city races were also contested

In this year's Town of Pecos City elections, mayor Dot Stafford will be seeking a fourth two-year term and is being challenged by Ray Ortega. In the council election, incumbents Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera are challenged by Hector "Tito" Roman.

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election has four candidates seeking the two three-year terms up for election. Incumbent Steve Armstrong will be joined in the May 6 race by challengers Paul Deishler, Steve Valenzuela and David Flores.

In the Reeves County Hospital District election, the only contested race is for the at-large seat, where incumbent Hiram "Greg" Luna is challenged by Leo Hung. Precinct 1 incumbent Chel Florez and Precinct 3 incumbent Jesse Prieto are unopposed in their bids for new two-year terms.

The names for the candidates in the city, school and hospital elections are all on one single ballot for voters at the Pecos Community Center on South Oak Street.

Barstow City Council voters will also have a contested election for the first time in years, and Balmorhea will again have contested elections in its city and school elections.

A total of 24 people voted early this year in the Balmorhea city election, while more than twice that many, 53, cast their ballots early in the Balmorhea school board race.

In the Balmorhea city races, incumbent mayor Ismael Rodriguez is being challenged by councilman Danny Reynolds and Doug Maynard. Reynolds' seat was one of two on the council up for election this year. The other incumbent, Rosendo Galindo, is seeking another two-year term and will face challengers Tammy Marmillon, Bertha Brijalba and Eddie Roman.

In the Balmorhea School Board election the three-year terms of Reyes Castillo and Paul Matta are up. Matta has filed to seek another three-year term and will be challenged by Dora Machuca, Tommy Ray Dominguez, Louis Rene Contreras and Raymond Carrasco.

Barstow voters will have one contested race, with incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila facing challenger Pablo Navarette. Benny Hernandez will be unopposed in the race for Barstow mayor, where incumbent Salvador Villalobos opted against seeking another term.

Toyah city elections will be held this year. The mayor race is uncontested with only Ann Marsh filing to run for mayor, while Paul Anthony Budlong, Sharon Sanchez and Bart Sanchez signed up for the two available Toyah city council seats.

Senior contract addendum tops county agenda

PECOS, May 5, 2000 - Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission Senior Citizens Service Contract Addendum will be the topic of discussion at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting scheduled for Monday.

The group will meet at 10 a.m., on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse and the public is invited to attend.

Commissioners will discuss Reeves County Telecommunications System and advances from the general fund to cover reimbursement grant funds and 911.

The court will discuss and take action on several payments including, Frank X. Spencer request for payment #8; DRG Architect's request for payment #170, #172 and #175 and Banes General Contractors request for payment #13. The payments are in conjunction with the on-going construction at the Reeves County Detention Center.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on proposed package 201A hot-mix asphalt paving and re-advertise lease for real property.

In addition, the group will discuss and take action on:

· Reports from various departments.

· Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

· Personnel and salary changes (RCDC, recreation department).

· Minutes from previous meetings.

· Semi-monthly bills.

· Spread on minutes: White Cap Industries, Inc. _ concrete for the RCDC 1,000 bed addition project; Water district agreement between Town of Pecos City and Reeves County; state travel management program and settlement between Town of Pecos City and Reeves County.

Bonilla announces additional funds for ag programs

Congressman Henry Bonilla announced Thursday that the Agriculture Appropriations Committee on which he serves has agreed to spend $121.305 million on boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs, an increase of $6 million over last year.

In addition $58 million was appropriated by the committee for three other programs involving Wildlife Services, Grazing Land Conservation Initiative and the Cattle Fever and Tick Eradication Program.

"Boll weevils and pink bollworms have been the scourge of farms in Texas for the last century. Finally, success in wiping out these destructive insects is in sight," Bonilla said in a press release.

The Wildlife Services program has gotten more into control of rabies in wildlife animals and has worked with airports to control problems with birds interfering with airplanes in recent years.

"These agriculture programs save money in the long run by helping our produces be as productive and environmentally responsible as possible," Bonilla said. "For instance, it has been estimated that for every $1 spent on the Tick Eradication Program, the county saves $121."


Tomas Ortiz

Services are incomplete for Tomas G. Ortiz, 69, of Pecos, who died Thursday, May 4, 2000, in Phoenix, Ariz.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, May 5, 2000 - High Thursday 103. Low this morning 60. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 50s. South wind 10-20 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy and breezy. High in the lower 90s. Southwest wind 15-25 mph and gusty. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 55-60. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High 90-95.

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