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Monday, December 11, 2000

Accident kills rig worker north of Orla on Saturday

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 11, 2000 - An Odessa man was killed Saturday morning in a drilling rig accident in northern Reeves County.

Thomas Bickle, 32, was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m., on Saturday by Reeves County Justice of the Peace Amonario Ramon following the accident, according to Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez. The sheriff said Bickle was attached to a safety harness while he checked pressure gauges under the floor of the rig when he became entangled in the equipment and was crushed.

Gomez said they are unsure exactly how Bickle became entangled.

"He may have been overcome by natural gas or he could have just gotten caught," he said.

The accident took place at a gas rig being operated by Nabors Energy, which is located nine miles north of Orla, near the intersection of County Road 435 and U.S. 285.

Gomez said Reeves County Investigator Michael Dominguez is looking into the cause of the incident and already has taken some equipment for evidence.

"He took the safety harness as part of the investigation," Gomez said.

Dominguez was unavailable for comment today, but told the Odessa American that Bickle was secured to a safety cable that runs beneath the floor of a rig by a five-point safety harness.

Investigators for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are expected to arrive to investigate the accident site.

Gomez said Bickle's body was taken to Martinez Funeral Home and an autopsy has been ordered in Lubbock.

New convenience store to open

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 11, 2000 - Community members will soon have a new convenience store at an old site to serve them.

The new Kwik Stop is scheduled to open next Monday, December 18, if not sooner, according to owner Judy Clark.

Clark said she and her staff have been working toward opening the new business, located in the former Town and Country Convenience Store building at Third and Eddy Streets, since the middle of October but she has been working on it longer than that.

"I've been working on it for about a year," she said.

Town & Country closed down the store in September of 1998, saying it did not want to operate there because the company did not own the building and the land it was on and were unable to acquire the property. Clark, who has never thought about running a store before, said when it closed down, it hurt community members in the area.

"They have to go from one side to another," she said.

"To me it was real dead on that block," she said. "Something just needed to be there."

Clark said the location is good because it is at the intersection of two busy streets and would help everyone in the community.

"It's just a real good location," she said. "I think it would help service the people."

The Kwik Stop will offer everything a convenience store would have including lottery tickets and alcohol sales, but excluding gasoline, according to Clark. The former T&C store sold all three before closing.

Clark has already chosen a manager and a staff but would continue to take applications.

The Kwik Stop will be open daily from 6 a.m.-12 a.m. midnight, she said.

State, local tax rebates fall for December

PECOS, December 11, 2000 - Sales tax rebate checks for Texas took a dive in December, with Pecos and almost all other Permian Basin cities joining in the decline compared with a year ago.

Pecos' tax rebate check, based on sales during October, were down 15.27 percent, from $64,981 to $54,991, according to figures released Friday by state comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office. For all 12 months of 2000, the city's tax rebates, based on its 1½-cent share of Texas' 8¼-cent sales tax, and totaled $765,773, which was 1.41 percent above 1999's total of $755,068.

One-quarter cent of the city's tax rebate check for December, or $10,829, is designated to go to the Pecos Economic Development Corp.

Balmorhea and Toyah also saw their tax rebates fall for the month, while the Reeves County Hospital District was one of the few entities to see a gain this month on its check. The hospital got back $23,832 as part of its ½-cent sales tax, which was up 2.27 percent from last year's $23,302 total.

Overall for 2000, the hospital saw an increase of 8.27 percent in tax rebates, going from $288,562 to $312,426.

Balmorhea's December rebate check of $440 represented a 43.64 percent drop from a year ago, but overall the city got back $8,683 from Austin this year, a 37.29 percent rise from the $6,324 sent back by the comptroller's office last year.

Toyah, which had experienced a major drop in its sales tax rebate checks during the first nine months of 2000, was down only 2.27 percent this time around. The city got back $210, or $7 less than a year ago. However, for all of 2000, Toyah's $4,551 rebate is two-thirds less than the $13,623 it got back in 1999.

Of the area's other cities, Wink was the only one to go against the trend. It's check for $6,617 was up nearly 46 percent from a year ago. Midland had the area's largest rebate check, for just over $1.1 million, which was an 8.07 percent rise, but that was due to a 25 percent increase in the city's sales tax during the past year.

Across the state, tax rebates for December were down 6.41 percent, from $204.7 million to $191.6 million, while for all 12 months of 2000, rebates rose 8.58 percent, from 2.36 billion to $2.56 billion.

Houston had December's largest check, for $22.75 million, but that was down 11.78 percent from a year ago. Dallas was next, with a $15.8 million check, which was 8.78 percent lower than last year.

P-B-T schedules hearing on report on alternative ed

PECOS, December 11, 2000 - The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board of trustees will hold a hearing for the public discussion of the district's alternative education (AEIS) report at its regular scheduled board meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the board room, 1304 South Park St.

Texas Education Code, Section 39.053 requires each district's board of trustees to publish an annual report that includes the AEIS report, campus performance objectives, violent or criminal incidents, and prevention and safety policies.

The hearing will be part of the board's regularly scheduled monthly meeting for December.


Emilio Lopez, Tomas Villanueva


PECOS, December 11, 2000 - High Sunday 78. Low this morning 48. Cloudy. Turning windy early and much colder. Very cold wind chills overnight. A chance of freezing rain and snow late. Low in the lower 20s. Northeast wind 20 to 30 mph and gusty. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. Tuesday: Continued cold with snow likely. High in the upper 20s. Northeast wind 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 60 percent. Significant snow accumulations possible. Tuesday night: Cloudy and cold with a 20 percent chance of snow. Low near 20. Wednesday: Cloudy and cold with a chance of snow. High in the 30s. Thursday: Mostly cloudy. Low in the 20s. High in the 30s.

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