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Friday, June 29, 2001

School board faces dispute over Austin job

Staff Writer
PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- Yes, you have a job, no you don't, was the dilemma discussed at a special Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting held Thursday evening in the board room.

Board members went against Superintendent Don Love's recommendation to hire a teacher to serve as physical education instructor and coach at Austin Elementary School.

Love presented four appointments to the board, but only three were approved.

The discussion began when a Pecos High School teacher spoke on behalf of another local teacher and said that the individual should receive that position.

"I urge you to consider this and pass a rule," said Priss McNutt, a PHS English teacher.

McNutt told the board that teacher Alvino Garcia had been moved from Austin Elementary to the high school, a position that he did not want. "His minor is in English and he was moved to the high school to teacher English and coach, when he had been at Austin Elementary School for several years," said McNutt.

McNutt said that Garcia had really enjoyed his job at Austin and did not want to be moved. She said that teaching English and coaching at the same time took up too much time and energy, so therefore he had decided to resign from that position.

"When you have a dual contract, you can't resign from just one thing, you have to resign from the entire position," said Love.

Love's recommendation was to hire Michael Valencia for that position. Valencia has a bachelor of arts/kinesiology degree from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, with no experience.

McNutt told the board that while the duties of teaching high school English and coaching were too much for Garcia, teaching physical education and being a coach at a lower level would be much less stressful.

"The person you're recommending for that position is new to the district, this person has been here for 16 years, has a home here, is a taxpayer and grew up in Pecos," said McNutt.

"He came into my office and resigned his position, and if he doesn't want to coach he needs to resign that (English) position," said Love.

Board president Crissy Martinez said that the teacher was just voicing her concern for a local person. "We're looking at a person who has been with the district for 16 years," she said.

Board member Michele Galindo said that Garcia was going to apply for the Austin Elementary School position, but that it was already filled when he came forward. "He was never given the opportunity to apply for that position," said Galindo.

"When you have a dual contract, you have to resign to the whole thing," said finance officer Cookie Canon. "And this position was posted."

Martinez said that the new hire had not passed his exit exam yet.

"Well, that's all he lacks, but he's certainly a qualified and talented individual," said Love.

"Is this a message we want to send out, that we allow people to quit and then pick another job, if that's what they want," said board member David Flores. "He resigned his position, and that's the chance he was going to take, that another position might not be open."

"He didn't want to teach English and coach too, he wanted to do what he was doing before," said board member Chip Flores.

McNutt said that while Garcia did not want to be at the high school, he did want the Austin job after the teacher who had been hired to replace him resigned. "So when the opening at Austin was open again, he wanted his old position back," said McNutt. "But by the time he was going to apply, it had been filled."

"If you want to keep qualified teachers, you need to let them be in a position where they are more comfortable and con do a better job for the district," she said. "We want to put the teachers were they are more effective."

Crockett Middle School Principal Juanita Davila said she had been present at the interview with Valencia, who was offered the position at Austin. "There was a teacher from Austin, the vice-principal and all were pleased with this individual and very impressed," said Davila. "So the superintendent didn't have the input alone, there were others present and we don't want to lose him."

McNutt said that we wouldn't want to lose an individual who had been with the district for 16 years either.

Board members voted to approve the other three appointments, including a distant relative of one of the board members, but opted to keep the Austin Elementary School position open and post it for interviews. David Flores voted against that motion.

New appointments included Fredrick Carter, who is related to Daisy Roquemore, who is related to board member Billie Sadler.

"There's no nepotism, because this individual is not closely related to a board member, it's in the fourth degree," said Love.

Carter holds a Masters of Education/Education/Sul Ross State University, 22 years experience and his assignment will be at Crockett Middle School Boy's Physical Education teacher/coach. He held a similar position with P-B-T ISD back in the 1980s, at Zavala Middle School.

Judy Georzelle Hayes, Bachelor of Science/Math/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment: Pecos High School Math Teacher.

John Michael Mason, Bachelor of Arts/Government/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment: Crockett Middle School History Teacher.

Feds release $2.4 million for city jail

Staff Writer
PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- Town of Pecos City officials received good news today, in the form of federal funding for the new jail facility the city has been working on.

The U.S. Marshal's Service released $2.4 million in funding to the City of Pecos to reimburse the city for construction of a new detention facility, U.S. Senator Phil Gramm announced.

"We're very happy, very excited about this," said Town of Pecos City Manager Carlos Yerena. "We worked very hard on this venture."

"We visited with (U.S. Congressman Henry) Bonilla in Washington to address the issue and met with the Marshal Service, in Bonilla's office," said Yerena. "He said he wholeheartedly approved it and that the city of Pecos needed and deserved this."

"With these funds, Pecos gets a new jail and the Marshal's Service gets space to house its prisoners," said Gramm, in making the announcement. "This is a perfect example of federal and local agencies working together to fight crime and improve the lives of people in West Texas."

Ground was broken back in April for the 96-bed jail, which will also serve as new home for the Pecos Police Department and will be located on Raul Florez Boulevard, between Texas and Moore streets.

Total cost of the facility has been estimated at $5.6 million including financing costs, according to Yerena. "This is going to really helpful," he said.

"We were very aggressive in pursuing this funding and Congressman Bonilla was very supportive of this venture, which really helped," said Yerena, who said the San Antonio Republican approved and help was very instrumental in procuring these funds.

"We're just very excited about it," he said.

"I am pleased that some of the tax dollars sent by Texans to Washington are being returned to benefit local citizens by funding programs such as this," said Gramm. "My strong commitment is to assure a fair venture to Texas taxpayers on the money we pay in federal taxes."

The funding was approved under the Marshal's Service Cooperative Agreement Program. The U.S. Marshal's Service does not maintain its own jail facilities and in recent years has been housing prisoners at out-of-town jails while they await hearings or trials in U.S. District Court in Pecos.

Under the program, the city guarantees prison space to the Marshal's Service in exchange for the funding assistance.

The new facility will serve the Western District of Texas, which includes an area from El Paso to San Antonio as well as much of central Texas, including Austin.

Council approves building demolition plan

Staff Writer
PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- Local residents will soon not have to worry about a number of eyesores and hazards that are around Pecos, after the Town of Pecos City begins demolishing a number of condemned buildings some time next week.

The City Council approved the start of the city's demolition project during the regular meeting Thursday night at City Hall.

Pecos Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire provided the council with a list of structures that have been considered hazardous.

In an interview this morning, Brookshire said that he had sent certified letters to the owners of each property as well as published the list of properties in the newspaper in efforts to contact the owners.

"We just have to make every effort we can to contact the owners," he said.

Brookshire said that the letters he sent to the owners informed them of the city's plan to demolish the structures and gave them a chance to either refurbish the structures or demolish them at their expense.

With no response from any property owner, Brookshire said that the cost of demolition would be added to the tax lean.

The structures that are scheduled for demolition right now include: 611 South Willow Street; the old car wash at 903 West Third Street; 202 South Cherry Street; 423 South Alamo Street; 801 South Elm Street and 805 South Elm Street.

Brookshire informed the council that most of the structures have had extensive fire damage and could not be safely refurbished.

He said that the city would progress through the list by targeting the structures that are the most hazardous to the community first.

"Usually the most dangerous structures are the ones we'll get to first," he said.

Brookshire said that this group of structures is only the beginning.

He said that the city is trying to track down the owners of many other properties in Pecos that needs demolition.

"We have several (properties) that are in really bad shape and we need to do something pretty quick," he said.

City Manager Carlos Yerena made a request on behalf of the city employees for the council to consider closing city offices on Friday, July 6 instead of Wednesday, July 4.

"Traditionally the Town of Pecos City has been closed on Wednesday," he said. "Instead of Wednesday, the employees want to take Friday off."

Yerena said that he conducted a survey of all the city employees and 100 percent of the employees wanted to change the day to Friday.

The council said they had no problem with the request and approved the change. City Hall and all city offices will be closed on July 6 in celebration of the July 4th weekend.

The council did not take any action their discussion of ownership of Fairview Cemetery.

City Attorney Scott Johnson told the council that he looked into the ownership of the cemetery dating back to 1903.

"Since then the city has been selling out plots," he said.

From as far as Johnson said that he could gather, the city still owns the cemetery itself and has sold deeds to individual plots.

In previous meetings, the council had asked Johnson to look into the ownership of the cemetery in order to determine whether or not the city pays for utilities.

Recently, city employees, with the help of community service people and the Reeves County Jail, have been working on cleaning up the cemetery, which is located in the center of town on Eddy Street.

Along with the appearance of the cemetery, The council was concerned about the use of water by individuals when watering plots at the cemetery.

Johnson informed the council that the city was responsible for the water used at the cemetery and no individuals pay water bills for what they use.

The council agreed that the city would continue to keep the cemetery clean and asked Johnson to come up with a policy that would keep tighter control on the utilities used in the cemetery.

Pageant, `Night' start Rodeo Week events

Staff Writer
PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- The 2001 West of the Pecos Rodeo Week will kick off tonight with six young women competing for the crown of Golden Girl and 12 young girls competing for Little Miss Cantaloupe.

After weeks of practicing, the girls will perform a dance routine and show off their talents to their family and friends tonight at the Pecos High School Auditorium at 8 p.m.

The six Golden Girl contestants are Kattie Davis, Kristina Dominguez, Cassie Foster, Desirae Tercero, Shanna Tredaway and Nikki Walker.

The 12 young girls competing for Little Miss Cantaloupe are Brittney Michelle Alligood, Dana Conger, Marissa Elizondo, Stephanie Marie Fuentez, Mia Lara, Kelly Lease, Gabriana Faith Nichols, Josie Estela Paz, Kendra Brianne Rayos, Emily Rodriguez, Marissa Raquel Tarango, and Jenica Monique Tersero.

The winners of each pageant will be announced after the Golden Girl contestants perform their talent

They then can be seen at the West of the Pecos Rodeo Parade on Wednesday, July 4th, the opening day for this year's rodeo. Each Golden Girl contestant will be riding on separate floats while the Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants can be seen riding together on the Downtown Lions Club mini-train.

Following tonight's pageant, the festivities will continue on Saturday with Night in Old Pecos at Windmill Square and on South Oak Street.

Junja Jams will get the celebration started at 6 p.m.

Junja performance will be followed by the performance of the Golden Girl and Little Miss Cantaloupe at 7 p.m.

A line dance performance will be preformed by the Senior Citizens at 8:30 and Malorie Alyssa Lara will performs to two songs at 9 p.m.

Nancy Lujan will present a fashion style show and dance at 9:30 p.m.

At the end of the show and dance, Junja will play music till the evening ends.

Venders that will be a part of the celebrations will begin their set-ups at 2 p.m.

Booths will be selling food and items that very anywhere from ice cream to glow in the dark mouthpieces. Some of the venders will be from the Pecos Little League, Athletic Boosters and Christ the King Catholic Church.

As of this morning there were still spaces for booths available, according to Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce secretary Connie Carrasco.

"Out of 44 we still have 10 available," Carrasco said. "We are willing to get people wanting to sell items not food."

Because the deadline for venders to receive health permits has passed, they can only approve booths that will sell items.

Carrasco also said that there would be a ferris wheel, a train and a DJ at the Saturday's events.

U.S. 285 added by TxDOT to Texas Trunk System plan

Staff Writer
PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- A section of U.S. 285 in Reeves County has been added to the Texas Trunk System, making it eligible for widening from two to four lanes in the future.

"A section of highway has been added in that area to the trunk system, which is really great," said Glen Larum, with the Texas Department of Transportation, in announcing that U.S. 285 from Pecos to the New Mexico state line has been added to the system

U.S. 285 in Reeves County was left off the original Texas Trunk System designation list back in 1990. The only section of the highway included was between Fort Stockton and Sanderson in Pecos and Terrell counties.

Last year TxDOT updated its truck system list, and Town of Pecos City and chamber officials argued for the Reeves County addition, saying that it would both improve the local economy and the safety of radioactive waste trucks, which will be traveling from Interstate 20 north to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. over the next 33 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. TxDOT already plans to build a loop around Pecos for the WIPP trucks, sometime around 2005.

The 51 miles of U.S. 285 added to the system are part of an additional 506 miles to the Texas Highway Trunk System approved by the Texas Transportation Commission during its monthly meeting.

With additional mileage, the Texas Highway Trunk System is a 10,500-mile planned rural network of a four-lane divided highway system that includes and compliments the Interstate System.

The other added mileage includes on other area highway, U.S. 67/385 from the I-10 interchange east of Fort Stockton to McCamey. Other sections are U.S. 54 from New Mexico state line to the Oklahoma state line; U.S. 62 from U.S. 83 to the Oklahoma state line; U.S. 79 from Henderson to the Louisiana state line; S.H. 103/S.H. 21 from San Antonio to Stephenville; and SH 31 from Tyler to Longview.

Of the 506 miles added to the trunk system, 384 miles, which are currently two-lane roads, would need to be upgraded to four-lane divided.

Each year, the Texas Department of Transportation spends nearly $150 million to upgrade segments of the trunk system from two-lane to four-lane roadways.

Approximately 3,900 miles of the trunk system need to be expanded from two-lanes, which will cost nearly $6 billion.

TAAS testing on July 10-11 at high school

PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- The Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test will be given in two parts this month for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah students, with the writing portion on July 10 and the math portion on July 11.

Reading for students who have taken the TAAS and need to retake a session will be held July 12.

Students need to report to the Pecos High School Cafeteria at 8 a.m., on their testing date.

St. Catherine's moves back time for Sunday Mass

PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- The time for Sunday Mass has been changed for this week only at St. Catherine's Catholic Church, at the corner of Plum and Walthall streets.

Mass will begin at 11 a.m. this Sunday, instead of 10:30 a.m. as normally scheduled. Mass will return to its regular time on July 8.


PECOS, Friday, June 29, 2001 -- High Thursday 105. Low this morning 71. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a less than 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low around 70. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High around 105. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low around 70. Sunday and Monday: Partly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows 65 to 70. Highs in the 90s.


Jody Freeman

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