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March 14, 2001

Officers getting training through local classes

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 14, 2001 - Local and area law enforcement officers have been attending an interview and interrogation school sponsored by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Pecos Police Department this week at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Steven Rhoades, retired Chief of Police for Calumet City, Ill., is teaching the course that covers a variety of topics dealing with interviews and interrogation.

Pecos Police Investigator Kelly Davis said Rhoades is a nationally acclaimed instructor who travels all over the United States teaching courses to law enforcement agencies.

Pecos Police Investigator Olga Lopez said that the officers that have been attending the school have said many good things about Rhoades and his teaching.

"He's a very interesting instructor," she said. "He keeps you involved in the lectures."

Over 30 law enforcement officers from Fort Stockton, Andrews and Crane counties, the U.S. Border Patrol as well as area Police officers, sheriff's deputies and Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force agents have been attending the three-day class.

Among the topics covered by Rhoades during the three-day course including the information gathering process, steps to a successful interview, human defense mechanisms, verbal and nonverbal communication, and the interrogation process, according to Lopez.

Police Chief Clay McKinney said that the police department wanted to cut costs while still providing enough training for the officers.

"We were trying to find some alternatives to sending our officers out of town," he said.

McKinney said the cost of most schools per officer is between $275 to $500 plus meals and lodging, making it very expensive to send many officers to those schools.

He said co-sponsoring a school held here saves more money, allows more local officers to attend and brings money to Pecos.

"Instead of taking officers to school, we bring the school to the officers," McKinney said.

Next week the police department is co-sponsoring a two-day school on handling air smuggling attempts, along with the Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Midland County Sheriff's Department.

McKinney said that the class would be held in the classroom at the police department with some field training.

"We're trying to cut down on our costs and still give the officers the required amount of training that they need," he said.

Next week's class is open to all local and area law enforcement officers.

Chamber board discusses plans for upcoming events

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 14, 2001 - Pecos Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors discussed upcoming events in Pecos during the spring and summer as part of their regular monthly meeting, held Tuesday at the Pecos Senior Center.

Reeves County Extension Agent Terry Holder told the group that the Tri-County 4-H Horse Show will be held Saturday, April 7, here in Pecos. "This made us a little money last year and there will be people coming into town, that will be staying overnight," said Holder.

A concession stand will be set up by some of the participants. "If they don't have one, this might be something we might want to do," said Holder. "All the people that come into town will be spending money here, eating out or at the concession stand, which will certainly help us."

Board member Linda Gholson talked about the upcoming Reeves County Health Fair scheduled for 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., April 7. "This year they are having immunizations for the children, there seems to be a great need for the children to get their immunizations updated," said Gholson.

Another new project that will be featured will be child car seats. "Individuals can take their car seats to the health fair and if they are not in compliance they will receive a new one that is," said Gholson.

Gholson said that other new exhibitors would be part of the health fair, along with some of the same ones who've been here in past years. "They'll have the blood tests and the PSA's for $20, along with EKG's for $7," said Gholson.

All these events are good news for Pecos to promote tourism and help the local economy, according to Chamber President Barbara Creager. "These are great opportunities for us and I hope we see many of you at all the events," she said.

"The county is putting up lights at the Little League Field and I think we should commend them for their efforts," said board member Kevin Duke. "If you see one of your commissioners, you should thank them."

Chamber members also discusses the Job and Career Fair, to be held April 25 at the Odessa College-Pecos campus. "They'll be having it at the Pecos center and will highlight area training," said executive director Tom Rivera.

The fair is scheduled to run from 12 noon to 6 p.m. and will cover truck driving school, diesel and auto mechanics, along with other job and career training. "You can get more information from the chamber office," said Creager.

The chamber has faired well on their last couple of projects, according to Rivera.

"This year the chamber banquet actually made us a little money," said Rivera. "In the past, after we have paid all the bills we've lost money on the event."

This year the banquet made a profit of about $2,000.

Board member Dick Alligood said that he wanted to pass along special thanks to the chamber staff who helped out during the recent concert sponsored by the chamber. "The staff had their family and themselves out there working hard for us during the recent Wayanay (Inka) concert and reception," said Alligood.

Alligood said they did a fantastic job, they worked the booths and they did an excellent job. "We did make a little money on it and I wanted to thank the sponsors for the event," said Alligood.

Alligood suggested taking out an ad in the newspaper to thank all the sponsors. "They were very pleased with the concert and everyone I talked to said they really enjoyed it," he said.

Women's Division President Laura Briggs said that the group is working on several projects, including an evening meeting in an effort to recruit more members. "We'll also be doing a little something for Priscilla Cook for being named Teacher of the Year, since she had to miss the banquet due to a family emergency," said Briggs.

The evening meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 22.

"We're also working on the Golden Girls and the cutoff date to register is March 30, so if you know of any junior girls that are interested in participating in the pageant," said Briggs.

This year the group will concentrate on the Out-of-Town Belles and possibly give them a bigger role in the pageant, according to Briggs "We'll be sending out something to area chamber of commerce about the pageant, to try to get more out of town girls to participate," she said.

The women are also getting Welcome Baskets together for newcomers to Pecos and will be providing refreshments to the cancer survivors during the Relay For Life scheduled for May 20.

Plans for the Annual Night in Old Pecos are already being worked on.

"We want everyone to give us their suggestions on how to improve it or give us new ideas," said Creager.

"We have several DJ's that are interested in participating," said Rivera.

Rivera suggested sending out Request for Proposals. "They can tell us what they want to do and the type of music they will be playing," said Rivera.

Duke told the group that he felt there should be more games at the annual event. "I don't really know what kind of games, but I think there should be more," he said. "Always, we've concentrated on the food, but now I think we need to concentrate more on having more events for the kids."

Chamber board members also agreed to have an audit following each change of officers.

"I think the chamber of commerce is a business and as such it should be treated as one," said Jesse Stephens. "To have an audit it will help all the directors and the members."

Rivera agreed and said it would be good idea and would give the chamber a better idea of things they need to do.

Jeannette Alligood made the motion to hire an auditor and amend the by-laws to include an audit whenever the chamber changes officers.

Markham says property owners can get info on cutting 2001 tax

Staff Writer

PECOS, March 14, 2001 - Reeves County Chief Appraiser Carol King-Markham is offering information property owners on upcoming tax payments for 2001.

Markham said a pamphlet, entitled "Texas Property Taxes: Taxpayers' Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities" can help them save on their property taxes.

Published by the State Comptroller's office, the pamphlet explains how the property tax system in Texas works and tells property owners about possible tax savings.

Markham said the pamphlet applies to property taxes collected by all types of taxing units: counties, cities, school districts and special districts (such as municipal utility, junior college, and hospital districts).

"Homeowners may file for various property tax exemptions offered by taxing units on residence homesteads," said Markham. In Texas, a homestead is generally the house and yard used as the owner's principal residence. The pamphlet explains such exemption and how to apply for it.

For example, all homeowners who owned and lived in their homes on Jan. 1 may file for a $15,000 general exemption from their principal home's value for school taxes. In addition, certain disabled homeowners and those aged 65 or older may qualify for an additional $10,000 exemption from the value of their homes.

"A tax freeze, or ceiling, for school taxes is a benefit for homeowners once they become 65 years old," said Markham. "State law provides the homeowners who turn 65 may apply during the year, rather than waiting until the next Jan. 1."

"An elderly homeowner's taxes that pay for public schools cannot increase above the total school tax amount on that home in the first year that the homeowner receives the over-65 homeowner exemption," she said. Under the law, if the homeowner is at least 55 years old at the time of the older spouse's death, then he or she can keep the school tax ceiling. However, the tax ceiling, does not apply for other taxing units, such as the county and city.

The surviving spouse also my retain the over-65 homeowner's exemptions offered by the local taxing units, if the surviving spouse is at least 55 years old at the time of the older spouse's death and owns and lives in the home.

The chief appraiser pointed out that homeowners age 65 or older do not need to reapply for the exemption this year if they received the exemption and tax ceiling last year. Homeowners turning 65 during the year may file for the exemption up to one year from the date they turned 65, provided they owned the home and lived it as their principal residence. Only those who have never had the exemption and tax ceiling _ such as the surviving spouse age 55 or older _ must apply in 2001.

The taxpayer pamphlet also describes other exemptions available, such as those for disabled veterans and other disabled persons.

Productivity appraisal is another type of tax relief available to agricultural or timberland owners. It is available in two forms, referred to by its location in the Texas Constitution: "1-d" or agricultural-use appraisal and "1-d-1" or open-space land appraisal.

Landowners who wish their land to receive 1-d appraisal must apply each year. The landowner must file a signed, sworn application with the chief appraiser by April 30. However, owners of land receiving 1-d-1 appraisal do not need to reapply, unless the chief appraiser requests in writing that they do so.

Because the qualifications are less strict, many landowners choose to apply for 1-d-1. However, if the land's use changes to a non-agricultural one, the period for recaptuinr lost taxes is five years for 1-d-1. For 1-d, the recapture time is three years for change of ownership or use.

"Appraisal district staff can offer more information about special land appraisal, tax renditions and exemptions," said Markham.

Markham said the Remedies pamphlet also contains information about protesting to the appraisal review board (ARB). The ARB is a citizen board that hears taxpayer protests to ensure that property values are fair and uniform.

Another section deals with how voters can petition for an election to reduce the amount of a tax increase adopted by any taxing unit.

"I urge all property owners in the Reeves County Appraisal District to read the pamphlet and learn about the property tax system and all possible property tax relief," said Markham. "Remember, taxpayers must file exemption applications with the appraisal office by April 30 and any protests by May 31 of this year," she said.

LL sets meeting Thursday night, tryouts Saturday

PECOS, March 14, 2001 - The Pecos Little League will hold a meeting for coaches and other officials at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Saragosa Hall on East Sixth Street, league official Lee Serrano said today.

Meanwhile, another round of tryouts for both the Little League and Senior League will take place on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. at the Senior League field in Maxey Park. Serrano said the Little League tryouts will be held there because work is continuing on installing new light towers and watering systems at Chano Prieto Field.


PECOS, March 14, 2001 - High Tuesday 76. Low this morning 52. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low near 35. Northwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy. High around 65. Northeast wind 10 to 20 mph and gusty. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy. Low around 35. Friday: Partly cloudy. High around 60. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows near 40. Highs in the 60s. Sunday: Cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Lows 35 to 40. Highs in the 50s.

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