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Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Drug round-up nets 12 arrests, heroin seizures

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- A drug bust that started Tuesday afternoon continued today, as area law enforcement official look for four suspects wanted on warrants who remain at large.

"It is rare to get every one," Chief of Police Clay McKinney said. "It is rare to get 100 percent apprehension."

The round-up started at 5 p.m. Tuesday and most of the arrests were made last night, McKinney said. "This has been a five month undercover investigation in Pecos. The result of the undercover agents has been 27 drug cases, resulting in 16 people being charged with delivery of narcotics," he said.

Overall, a total of 13 law enforcement agencies helped in making the arrests. Along with Pecos police, they included the Trans-Pecos Task Force, Lea County, N.M. Task Force, the office of 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds and the Reeves County Sheriff's Department.

According to Trans-Pecos Task Force Commander Gary Richards, the operation was conducted by the different agencies so that they could all come together to make an impact on the community.

"In working together to make an impact on the community is what the concept of the task force is about," Richards said.

The operation was made of four teams all of whom had at least one member from a different agency as part of their group.

The teams were color coded with a certain area designated with their team color.

"This is the second undercover narcotics operation that has occurred in Pecos in the last year," McKinney said. "And as a result a total of 38 people (combined) will and have been charged for delivery of drugs."

Among those arrested and identified by police were: Victor Prieto, 42, possession of heroin; Benjamin Maldonado, 41 possession of a controlled substance (heroin); Edward Villalobos, 33, possession of a controlled substance (heroin); Annabell Montanez, 39, two counts of possession of heroin and one count of theft; Eric Estorga, 17, delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana); Jose Camacho, 45 delivery of heroin; Ector Martinez, 38 delivery of a controlled substance (heroin); and Floyd Herrera, 41 delivery of a controlled substance (heroin); Jose Reyes, 23, delivery of marijuana; Robert Lyles, 32, possession and delivery of a controlled substance.

Esrtorga, Camacho, Prieto, Lyles and Reyes were released after posting $5,000 bonds; Montanez' bond was set at $5,000 on the heroin charges and $1,000 on the theft charge, and Villalobos, Herrera and Martinez also remained in Reeves County Jail pending bond as of press time.

Drugs that were delivered were heroin, cocaine and marijuana, McKinney said, added that more heroin was being delivered then any of the other two drugs.

"We are trying to alleviate the heroin problem in this area, and with us working with the DA we are able to make these arrests," Richards said.

According to both McKinney and Richards, in working with the district attorney's office they are then able to make successful prosecutions off the drug cases. They also added that any assets connected with the drug sales would be seized.

And as of this morning, a vehicle was seized because drugs were being dealt out of it.

"We seized the vehicle because it was at the residents home, however the individual of the vehicle is still at large," McKinney said.

Those arrested were taken to the Reeves County Jail and were released to the custody of the jail's staff. McKinney said those arrested will more then likely be arraigned. However, he also said that the bond would be up to the Justice of the Peace Amanario Ramon.

School board sets tax rate, Sept. 22 rollback election

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- The proposed tax rate and the 2001-2002 budget were approved during the regular session of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting held Tuesday evening in the board room.

A public hearing was held prior to the regular monthly meeting of the board, and P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love told board members that the proposed tax rate had been set at $1.50 and said that because of increased mineral valuations since last year, a tax rollback election will be held in late September.

"If a taxing unit other than a school district adopted a tax rate that exceeds the rollback rate, voters in the unit may petition for an election on the tax increase," said Love. "School districts are required to hold automatic rollback elections _ without the petition process _ to ratify their current year's rate, if the school boards adopt tax rates above their rollback rates."

The $1.50 rate is the same as a year ago, but the valuation increases will mean it will bring in an addition $2 million in property taxes during the 2001-2002 school year. The rollback rate would be 32 cents lower than the current tax rate.

P-B-T ISD actually lost $1,541,200 in real estate values this past year, but gained $141,482,660 in mineral values for a total net taxable gain of $139,041,460. The only taxpayers that will be paying more next year are the oil and gas mineral taxpayers, Love explained.

The revenue would allow the district to spend:

· $1,734,081 for Pecos High School renovations. This would include removal of asbestos ceiling surfacing, removal of asbestos floor tile, replacement of asbestos floor tile with vinyl or carpet, painting on interior walls, installing acoustical ceiling in classroom, halls, and restrooms, removal of existing evaporative cooling and heat and the addition of roof-top air conditioning units in the main building, new fluorescent lighting in classrooms, halls and offices with motion light switches and emergency lighting, new fire alarm system, replacing existing windows with combination Kalwall panels and operable windows, and replacement of some roofing.

· $532,075 for Bessie Haynes renovations. This would include removal and replacement of asbestos ceiling tile with acoustical ceiling tile, roof repair, and replacing the 5 multi-zone air conditioning/heating units with packaged rooftop units.

· $55,000 to air-condition the Crockett Gymnasium.

· $168,000 for renovation of the six Pecos High School tennis courts.

· $111,000 for two, 71-passenger air-conditioned school buses.

· $60,000 for three program or new passenger vans.

· $7,500 for new playground equipment at Pecos Kindergarten or Austin Elementary.

"The asbestos removal at Pecos High School and Bessie Haynes Elementary are of high priority as is the replacement of the air-conditioning/heating at Bessie Haynes Elementary School," said Love.

The rollback election date cannot be earlier than 30 days nor later than 90 days after the date the school board adopted the tax rate, and Love said, "We have settled on a rollback election date of Sept. 22."

The ballot language states voting for or against ratifying the adopted tax rate, rather than limiting the rate to the rollback rate. If a simple majority of the votes cast in the election favor the adopted tax rate, then the adopted tax rate stands. If the voters disapprove the adopted rate, the school district's rollback rate would be the adopted tax rate. Following the election results, the school district will mail its current year's tax bills.

"On Aug. 7, at the meeting to adopt the 2001-2002 budget, the Board of Trustees adopted a tax rate of $1.50 that is the same tax rate that was adopted for the 2000-2001 budget," said Love. "Because of a loss of 145 students in average daily attendance (ADA) and the 2001 certified appraised value overall increase of $139,941,460, the tax rate to maintain the same level of maintenance and operations revenue is $1.18081."

The is the highest tax rate the board may adopt without requiring voter approval.

The board ordered an election to ratify the $1.50 tax rate. Early voting for the Sept. 22 election will be held from Sept. 9 through Sept. 18. The board will set a date to canvass the election returns at the regular September board meeting from Sept. 25 through Sept. 28.

The district will mail statements between Oct. 1 and Oct.15. The total estimated cost to conduct the rollback election is between $7,000 and $8,000.

The average homeowner will not be paying more for 2001 taxes, according to Love.

Board members agree that early voting election hours will be from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., with election coordinator Debbie Thomas.

The group also agreed to hold elections for Orla at the Red Bluff office as a designated polling place, as has been done in the past following a discussion with Thomas after she alerted the board to some problems.

"We can make do at that place one more time," said Thomas.

Lipstick, sleeve rules relaxed at PHS campus

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- Fingernail and toenail polish, colored lipstick, along with sleeveless shirts will be allowed at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD high school campus, school board members decided Tuesday night.

Board members approved the 2001-2002 handbook, Student Code of Conduct and Cafeteria Guidelines during their regular meeting held Tuesday.

"Students were not allowed to wear dark colored lipstick last year," said PHS Principal Danny Rodriguez.

During the audience portion of the meeting held at the beginning of the session, one concerned parent spoke up on behalf of the students.

"At orientation that was held recently, the students were told that no sleeveless shirts were allowed," said Randy Reynolds.

Reynolds told the board that a lot of the parents had already shopped for school clothes during the tax-free weekend and that many of the items included sleeveless shirts.

"We're just concerned because now they are told that they can't wear these shirts," he said.

Reynolds' daughter Rebecca modeled an outfit that was purchased as a back to school outfit and included a sleeveless shirt.

"This is one of the outfits that we have bought for her and I asked her how many were sleeveless and she said most of them," he said. "Now, we want to know if we have to go buy different school clothes."

Board members discussed the issue briefly and opted to let all students wear sleeveless shirts.

"With this heat, a lot of the students will want to wear sleeveless," said board president Crissy Martinez.

Zavala Middle School Principal Benny Hernandez explained that the item was included in the handbook because of some students who had complained. "We had been letting the girls wear sleeveless and not the boys and the boys started complaining that that was unfair. So then we put in there that nobody could wear sleeveless," he said.

"But outfits that looked like the one that Miss Reynolds was wearing are not revealing and they are stylish," said Martinez. "Sleeveless shirts with the seams look alright."

That particular item that stated that all shirts, blouses and dresses must have sleeves was deleted from the handbook.

"Also, with this heat, many girls wear sundresses," said Martinez.

"I don't think they meant short sleeves, but those shirts or dresses with spaghetti straps that some girls wear," said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love.

"We just don't want any shirts that were cut at the sleeves, homemade, or any tanks tops or muscle shirts," said Hernandez. "But sleeveless shirts with the seams that are stylish will be alright for everyone."

Hernandez also told the group that they had polled the teachers and that none had complained about lipstick or nail polish.

"They didn't think that was interfering with their studies, so students are allowed to wear nail polish," he said.

Hernandez said that last year, several colors were included that were banned. "This included purple and gold and some of the cheerleaders wanted to paint their nails that color on Fridays and couldn't," he said.

Hernandez asked if any board members wanted to ban any colors, such as black or dark brown.

"That's all they sell these days," said board member David Flores. "I don't think we should say anything about colors," he said.

Hernandez said that other schools had had a problem with those colors, but not PHS.

"None of the teachers thought this would be a problem, they just want them in the classrooms," he said.

Hernandez has been working on the handbook and the Texas Association of School Boards and the school district's attorney have approved it.

"It's a little of both worlds," said Rodriguez. "We got some ideas from TASB and then let the attorney see it, and he reworded some items."

Hernandez has it on a disk and it will be available on-line, according to Rodriguez.

`Horse show' helps teach rescue lessons

Staff Writer
PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- Karma is ready for his Hollywood performance.

Actually, his Los Angeles performance, but the 2-year-old white horse will still be involved in a fairly spectacular show _ taking flight while harnessed beneath a rescue helicopter as part of a course that's designed to help emergency service personnel handle the rescue of large animals, which is being staged by a Clemson University professor and his wife.

Tomas Gimenez and his wife, Rebecca, spent Tuesday night in Toyah stabling Karma, along with Tornado, a 3-year-old black horse, and Dexter, a Llama who is also part of the presentation. The stopover at the Gary Ingram barn was at the end of a 700-mile drive on the second day of a four-day trip from Clemson, S.C., to Los Angeles.

"We've done this on the East Coast, from South Carolina and North Carolina to Massachusetts," said Tomas Gimenez, who is a professor in the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department at Clemson. "We give training to emergency responders, firefighters and police on large animal rescue.

"For example, we teach them how to deal with horse trailer accidents, or horses that get trapped in ditches or fall in swimming pools," he said. "The demonstration horses play the victims."

For Karma, playing the victim also means having to be `rescued' by the crews in training. "This horse has been in a harness on a helicopter twice and is going to get another trip in Los Angeles this week," Gimenez said.

"We do this for the American Humane Association. They're the organizers (of the Los Angeles event) so there will be firefighters, police and animal control officers from around the Los Angeles area," he added.

Emergency service personnel in rural areas like Reeves County are more likely to have to deal with incidents involving horses and other large livestock, but Gimenez said urban areas also need this type of training. "What's happened, especially around large cities, as people have more money there are more horses around urban areas than there used to be. There are a lot more horses being pulled around on horse trailers."

"It used to be (in rural areas) if a horse needed help you could call neighbors and they would have a tractor to get a horse out of a ditch. Now people call 911 for everything, that's why emergency responders have to add it to their expertise," he said.

While the reason for the horses being part of the rescue training is fairly obvious, the reason for the llama being part of the group is to help train emergency personnel to deal with large animals that may not be injured badly, but who are loose on a highway or in a neighborhood.

"The reason we bring the llama is it's a good animal to teach how to catch a large animal. Llamas are much harder to catch than horses," Gimenez said.

Dexter `look' right now is a little bit different than most llamas, with his hair cropped into a `poodle cut' for the summer months.

"The reason he looks like a poodle is because the animals live in South America, and where we are in South Carolina in the summer is a very muggy area. If we didn't trim them up, they're going to die," Rebecca Gimenez said.

After explaining Dexter's look, she was able to get a reluctant Karma to lie down and "play injured" on the rocky ground outside Ingram's barn, before taking the two horses and Dexter for a walk in the nearby pasture. "A place like this is ideal, because they can walk around and get exercise after being in the trailer all day."

The couple said they spent Monday night in the Shreveport, La., area, and planned to spend tonight in western Arizona before making the final drive into Los Angeles for the training session.

"This is normally a three-day course. We have the lecture sessions in the morning and then afternoons are practical training," said Tomas Gimenez, who added, "This is hands-on training. We kind of coach them, but they have to do the rescues."

Council to discuss equipment for PD

PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- Town of Pecos City Council is scheduled to discuss mobile video and audio recording equipment for the Pecos Police Department during the regular meeting at 7:30 a.m., tomorrow morning at City Hall.

During the meeting the Council will also discuss the 2001 planning calendar to set a tax rate as well as considering the second readings for the international fire, building, residential, mechanical, fuel and electrical codes.

Zavala schedules registration times for sixth graders

PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- Zavala Middle School sixth graders will have registration from 5-7 p.m., on Friday, Aug. 17 at the school cafeteria.

All students are encouraged to attend pre-registration, and parents will have an opportunity to meet the teachers.


PECOS, Wed., Aug. 8, 2001 -- High Tuesday 102. Low this morning 68. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low 70 to 75. South wind 5 to 15 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High in the mid to upper 90s. South wind 10 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low 70 to 75. Friday and Saturday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows around 70. Highs in the lower 90s.

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