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Friday, May 12, 2000

School cuts back security camera installation plans

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 12, 2000 - Louis Matta took over the reins as president of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD for the 2000-2001 year, after the board's two new members were sworn in at their regular meeting held Thursday evening in the boardroom.

New board members David Flores and Steve Valenzuela took the oath of office and were issued certificates of election, after which Matta was elected president, while former president Earl Bates was named vice-president and Brent Shaw will be secretary.

In regular business, board members received a project report on the Crockett Middle School Lab Addition, from Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral Associates.

"He is very confident with the job they are doing," said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love. "They're about a week behind schedule, but Monte is confident they will catch up."

Hunter's report indicated that the steel has gone up along with several other sections, and that progress has improved over the last few weeks. He said it appears workers have made up one week of a two-week deficit.

Mechanical and electrical trades appear to be one week behind, but at this pace, schedule recovery is probable, according to Hunter.

"It is going up fast and is looking very nice," said Crockett Middle School Principal Juanita Davila.

Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez gave a report on the security cameras that will be purchased for the school through a grant.

"I had mentioned at the last board meeting that we would be purchasing nine cameras," said Rodriguez. "But after going to look at them we figured out we can only afford four of them for the purpose that we have in mind."

The amount of the grant was for $6,580. "However, we can purchase these four and then apply for another grant and get the next five later," said Rodriguez.

Areas where the cameras will be placed include the band hall parking area, the major parking lot behind the school and the front of the school. "The field house and the new gym will have to wait for cameras at this time," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez stated that "Notices" would be posted at the areas the cameras will be installed. "By law we have to put these notices up, indicating that the area is being videotaped by the security cameras," he said.

"It will cost the school just a little bit of money for the metal posts to post the notices, other than that the cameras will be purchased through the grant at no cost to the school," said Rodriguez.

"We want to be able to provide a safer school and the monitor will be placed in Benny's (Hernandez, who is vice-principal at high school) office," said Rodriguez.

Meanwhile, maintenance director Joe Coody said bids for heating, vents and air conditioning for Bessie Haynes Middle School came in too high. The lowest bid was $142,708, according to Coody.

"The engineer is the one who did the estimate, but we didn't budget in this much money," he said. "We could just re-modify it and do part of the work, instead of the whole thing."

Coody said the major area that needed a new air conditioning system was in the lab room, where there are 48 computers set up, with a teacher and teacher's aide in there at all times. "We would like to see at least that one room done," he said.

"When we first talked to the engineer it was $60,000 and then the next estimate was $90,000 and since then it has gone up to as much as $145,000 to do the entire campus," said Love.

He added that if they went with the $140,000 it would require dipping into the general fund. "Will we finish it or do just part of it," said Love.

"What if we just work with the money we have and go to the engineer and tell him, look this is how much money we have, what can we do with it and just finish as much as we can with the amount of money we have," Matta said.

A motion was made to reject all the bids, meet with the engineer again and let him know that there is $66,000 budgeted for this project.

Assistant Superintendent Gome Olibas gave the board an update on how the funds from Title I Part A and Title VI were spent. Olibas explained that the funds are used for various programs including reading programs at the different levels and CI labs.

The board also recognized the boys and girls golf district champions; girls' softball district champions; VICA and Land Judging Team; fifth grade UTPB Regional Science Fair winners and PHS UIL state competitors and science fair state competitors during the meeting. The students received a loud round of applause from board members and the audience.

"We have a great group of kids and we are really proud of them," said Love.

Board members agreed to conduct an inventory scan for Lamar, Zavala and Crockett Middle Schools, along with the Carver Center. Seventh and eighth grades will be consolidated at Crockett next year, with sixth grade classes going to Zavala and the Alternative Education program going to Lamar.

"We'll have bar codes on all the items to make sure they make it to the campuses and then we'll check again once they are there," said Love.

"There's some really good stuff at the campuses and we want to make sure they get there," he said. "I feel it's a must to get our stuff to where it needs to be," he said.

"Will the schools be renamed, or will they keep the same name?" asked board member Billie Sadler.

"I think what the school is already called, it will be left that way," said Love.

After the AEP School, directed by Jimmy Dutchover, is moved to Lamar, the Carver campus will be used as storage, according to Love.

Glass Mountains blaze increases in size

Associated Press Writer
A blaze consuming more than 43,000 West Texas acres is growing today despite efforts by hundreds of firefighters battling flames in rugged, mountainous terrain.

The fire triggered by multiple lightning strikes has already claimed one life. The pilot of an air tanker dropping water on the stubborn blaze died over the weekend when his craft crashed.

No injuries or evacuations have been reported, although flames spreading through thinly populated ranch country have threatened at least one house.

"The fire has grown in size," one firefighter who spoke on condition of anonymity said today. "It is bumping up against (U.S.) Highway 385 south of Fort Stockton, between Marathon and Fort Stockton."

He said authorities have identified three lightning strikes that triggered the blaze that has raced across Brewster and Pecos counties in the Glass Mountains since Saturday.

Weather conditions have been ideal for the fire's growth, with low humidity, wind gusts and temperatures in the 90s.

Firefighting has been difficult because the blaze has burned into brush-covered streambeds and valleys. Also, some attention has been diverted to New Mexico where city blocks of Los Alamos have been consumed in another wildfire that began with a controlled burn at a national monument.

"A lot of resources are tied up in New Mexico," said Les Rogers of the Texas Forest Commission. "But the firefighters are still out there" on the Texas blaze.

Across the Texas-New Mexico state line from El Paso, residents of Weed and Sacramento have been evacuated from a new blaze near Timberon after a 8,650-acre Cree Fire was controlled, allowing hundreds of Ruidoso residents to return to their homes.

"A fire broke out northeast of Timberon at about 6 p.m.," Thomas Chavez, emergency manager for the Village of Ruidoso, told the El Paso Times on Thursday. "The fire near Timberon is a mile wide and three miles long. They are sending firefighters out there."

An Alamogordo Forest Service dispatcher said late Thursday that "people in Weed and Sacramento are being evacuated because of the (new) fire."

The Cree Fire - believed started by a campfire - was manageable by Thursday evening, despite 80-mph gusts reported in the morning at the fire line, where about 1,000 firefighters and support workers have been on duty in shifts. Projections called for full containment by May 15 and full control by May 18.

On Thursday, Texas crews thought they had established a fire line to contain the flames. But a flare-up erupted 30 miles south of Fort Stockton in the windy weather.

Forest Commission spokeswoman Shelley Huguley said Thursday that more than 250 firefighters from 15 agencies throughout the U.S. are now helping the Fort Stockton Volunteer Fire Department battle the blaze.

"The humidity today was supposed to drop to 8 percent and we have high winds and very dry vegetation," she said. "Truly right now, all it would take is a spark and you would have a fire. That's how vulnerable things are."

Huguley said firefighters had the fire 45 percent contained earlier Thursday until the flare-up occurred. By evening, at least seven helicopters were dumping water to help contain the fire.

Former Pecos resident Carl Ray Payne, 66, of Katy, was killed on Sunday after he dropped a load of water on a ranch house from his single-engine air tanker. His plane, which is similar to a crop duster, got caught up in a radio tower's supporting wires.

"The last drop that he made saved the ranch house," Huguley said. "He gave his life to save somebody's home."

Huguley said the fire is burning up vegetation farmers use to feed their livestock.

"It's a very dangerous situation right now. We are doing everything we can to protect the property and the people," said Huguley.

Envirocare says site would withstand wildfires

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 12, 2000 -- With brushfires burning around the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and around Ruidoso-Cloudcroft in New Mexico, as well as in the Glass Mountains near Marathon in Brewster County, concerns have been raised about if a similar blaze were to break out sometime in the future near the proposed low-level nuclear waste site Envirocare of Texas hopes to build in Ward County.

But Gene Brown, Envirocare's West Texas Director of Community Relations, said any wildfire that would hit the Barstow area would not affect the concrete lined bunkers the company hopes to store the waste in.

"To be honest with you, if there's a brushfire, I'd rather be inside the bunker than outside," said Brown from the company's Monahans office this morning.

The Los Alamos fires have burned trailers and portable buildings at the weapons site, but have rolled past concrete bunkers containing explosives without affecting them, while coming within 300 yards of a plutonium storage facility.

Lab officials have said that the dangerous materials inside were protected in fire-resistant facilities strong enough to withstand the crash of a 747.

Envirocare is still awaiting word from the Texas Department of Health on its proposed storage site, which would be located eight miles north of Barstow and 14 miles northeast of Pecos. The company plans to store radioactive waste in the aboveground bunkers at the site, which was chosen because it does not sit above an underground aquifer.

"Basically, the building would have 9½-inch thick concrete walls," Brown said. "It would have concrete walls, a concrete floor and a concrete roof."

"I guess eventually a fire could generate enough heat, but a brushfire like that wouldn't," he said. "It would have to be hot enough to melt concrete and melt the carbon steel drums" that will hold the radioactive waste, he added.

The waste site offices would be in other buildings that, like the Los Alamos buildings, would be vulnerable to fire, but Brown said, "Inside the storage facility itself, I can't imagine anything being flammable at all."

Envirocare began seeking land in Ward County for the site last year, after sites proposed by it and Waste Control Specialists in western Andrews County were rejected after a University of Texas study showed underground water in the area. Envirocare selected the Barstow area site last fall, and opened its office in Monahans in late April.

Brown, who is a minister at churches in Monahans and Kermit, said "I've tried to get out of the office over there (to Pecos), but every time I end up with people over here seeking job applications."

Although Envirocare has focused its efforts on Monahans in seeking local support for the site, the facility would actually be far closer to Pecos and Barstow than it would to Monahans, 32 miles to the east. Because of that, officials in Pecos and Reeves County are supporting a measure to prevent Ward County residents alone from deciding whether or not to approve locating the facility in the area.

Task force Midland bust nets $11,200 in cocaine

Staff Writer
PECOS, May 12, 2000Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, with the help of Midland County Sheriff's Office concluded a two-week investigation Wednesday night with the seizure of over 100 grams of cocaine.

According to Task Force Commander Gary Richards, officers arrested Cesar Adan Carreon, 40, at about 9 p.m. Wednesday for delivery of a controlled substance in Midland County.

About four ounces (112.4 grams) of cocaine were confiscated during the investigation. Street value for the cocaine is approximately $11,200, according to Richards.

Bond for Carreon was set at $50,000 in Midland County.

The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force was formed in 1998 and covers over a half dozen counties in West Texas. It is headquartered in Pecos and is under the direction of Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez and commander Gary Richards.

Girls getting used to roles as Santa Rosa altar servers

Special Correspondent
PECOS, May 12, 2000 - With the order directly from the Vatican in the early 1990s, dioceses around the globe were given permission to allow their parishes to permit female altar servers.

It was a process that was initially "debated" locally, but slowly progressed into a thriving religious opportunity for young girls who had completed their baptismal and first Holy Communion sacraments, according to server chaperone Dulces Martinez.

Father Manuel Munoz said Thursday that there was originally controversy about the change, but with an official statement handed down by Pope John Paul II, it was ultimately left up to the individual parishes to allow female altar servers to serve.

"My mom was resistant at first (about overseeing the local integration of girl and boy altar servers) because of her traditional ways," Martinez said.

Her mother, Paula Machuca has been in charge of recruiting, scheduling and training altar servers for Santa Rosa Catholic Church for over 15 years, "when my son first became an altar server," Martinez said.

She now aids her mother with the duty, which they both consider a devout privilege. Such much so that Machuca sews the ceremonial outfits for each individual server and makes the effort to contact every boy and girl prior their scheduled mass, and Martinez strives to make the ceremonial job fun and exciting by planning various activities to attract young boys and girls to the altar.

"I thought it was a nice thing," said long-time altar server Manuel Galindo about the inclusion of girls as altar servers. At 58, Galindo is the oldest server for the parish, and has been doing so, "since I was a boy."

"We thought the guys would shy away at first," Martinez said about the integration process, "but eventually they started helping each other out and it's worked out really good."

Schedules for weekly, weekend and special masses include all-boy, all-girl and mixed groups, Martinez said.

The parish volunteer said that altar servers are required to attend an annual retreat and become knowledgeable about the ceremony and its meaning. She added that it was originally taught vocally to the youth and later it became evident that, "hands-on training was best."

Martinez said that recently altar servers have begun to show a genuine respect for the altar and the ceremony. She credits this to the teachings and examples handed down by current priests, Pastor Ben Flores, Father Munoz and Father Miguel Alcuino, who oversee area church communities, including Balmorhea, Saragosa, Toyah and Barstow.

Altar servers Hillary Patino, Samantha and Manny Urias and Brittany Ybarra all said, "it was embarrassing at first," to go before a church full of people and partake in the ritual. But they soon got over their abashment because inherently they know, "we're doing a good thing."

The Urias sisters said they became servers because they want to get, "closer to God," and, "to help the church."

Patino said she thought, "It would be fun," while Ybarra claimed she too wanted, "to be closer to God."

Martinez said she feels the process of including girl altar servers was a fluent one because servers are guided by a "calling" much higher than that of a dutiful order from their parents or parish priest. She said the devotion is evident and that servers are made to understand that they are not serving the priest, their parents or the congregation, "they are serving Jesus. It's a special gift that the Lord," has bestowed on the individual server, "to serve Him."

She added being an altar server is a dutiful calling that becomes part of the person and continues to summon them back to the church throughout their lives as Galindo displays and, "my son, Matthew. He served as a freshman in college." Matthew began serving as a youth some 17 years ago, she said.

The first female server was Olivia DelaGarda, who "began serving about five years ago," Martinez said.

"It's a beautiful thing," said Martinez of being an altar server and even more privileged is she in aiding the process of religious growth amongst local youth. "Of course my goal is that one of children goes on to become a priest or a nun," she added.

Probation dept. offers clean-up challenge on Saturday

PECOS, May 12, 2000The Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department office in Pecos has issued a challenge to businesses and city and county departments, on Saturday.

This challenge is to see who can remove the most nuts and bolts from theatre seats at the State Theatre in Downtown Pecos. The new seats are on the way, so let's make room.

Re-opening of the theater, which closed on Dec. 31, 1989, is set for June 30.

Flagpole dedication for Airfield veterans scheduled at Airport

PECOS, May 12, 2000A flagpole dedication and proclamation is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday at the Municipal Airport.

The Pecos Army Airfield Reunion has already gotten underway and the special ceremony is in honor of the group that was stationed in Pecos from 1942-1945.

There is also a Pecos Army Airfield exhibit now on display at the West of the Pecos Museum, and a proclamation was signed this morning by Mayor Ray Ortega honoring those veterans who served at the Pecos Airfield during World War II.


PECOS, May 12, 2000High Thursday 105. Low this morning 72. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 55-60. Northeast wind 15-25 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High near 80. East wind 15-25 mph. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy. Low in the mid 50s. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 50s to the lower 60s. High in the 80s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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