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Friday, August 17, 2001

P-B-T schools get acceptable TEA rating

Staff Writer
PECOS, Fri., Aug. 17, 2001-- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools were rated academically acceptable by the Texas Education Agency, although the district's alternative education program campus was among the 106 schools to receive low performing rankings in the annual survey.

The Lamar campus was the only one to receive that rating, while two campuses, Zavala Middle School and Bessie Haynes Elementary, received `recognized' status in the TEA report, the second highest ranking. Zavala's students were also acknowledged both for their performance in math on last year's TAAS testing and for attendance, while Pecos High School received an acknowledgement for its recognized high school program (RCHP).

Overall, the high school was rated acceptable in the state report, as were Crockett Middle School, Pecos Elementary and Austin Elementary. Pecos Kindergarten was not rated by the TEA's accountability summary.

P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love said he wasn't sure about the formula used for Lamar AEP by the TEA. "They said a `special analysis' was used here," he said. "Because there are fewer than 30 students, they studied, where available up to nine years of TAAS evaluations before they gave an account rating.

"I've been on the phone with TEA all morning trying to get an explanation. Most of our students are tested on their home campus," he explained. "I can tell you the reading, math and writing scores for all the students were lower than the 55 percent cutoff, but I just don't know about this nine-year TAAS average."

School district and campus ratings are based on student passing rates on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, a standardized test and dropout rates. This year, attendance was removed from the measurement.

Other than Lamar, "Everyone else is in good shape," Love said. The `recognized' ratings for the P-B-T fourth, fifth and sixth grade levels was the second year in a row those grades received that ranking, though for the 1999-2000 school year sixth grade students were at Lamar Elementary, before the AEP program was placed there and the sixth grade campus was moved to Zavala.

"They do an outstanding job at both campuses," Love said. "Mary Lou (Carrasco, Bessie Haynes principal) was visiting with her folks when I walked in today to give them the report."

Balmorhea ISD received an acceptable ranking for its single campus, and was acknowledged by the TEA for one high school program. The ranking was the same as last year's ranking for the school district.

Most other area school districts also received acceptable rankings or higher from the TEA, though there were some districts that managed both their highest and lowest rankings for individual campuses in this year's survey.

Monahans-Wickett-Pyote managed that feat. Its elementary and junior high schools all received exemplary rankings from the state survey, but Monahans High School was rated low performing in this year's accountability summary. Fort Stockton High School also received a low performing rating, while the remainder of its schools were rated acceptable, as was the district's overall ranking.

"That is because of the dropout rate, I'll bet the farm," Love said of the low performing ratings for Monahans and Fort Stockton. "Our dropout rate at Pecos High School is 3.7 percent. Acceptable is 5.5 or less, recognized is 3.0 or less and exemplary is 1.0 or less.

"This is something we're going to be working on a whole bunch," he added. "Pecos-Barstow-Toyah is at 2.9 percent with the (Crockett) middle school dropout rate in there, but it's something that can sneak up on you."

Among other area schools, Kermit ISD was rated acceptable for all of its campuses, as was Grandfalls-Royalty's campus. Andrews ISD received an overall recognized ranking for both the district and all six of its campuses, Buena Vista ISD's lone campus also received the `recognized' ranking, while the Culberson County-Allamoore ISD received an acceptable rating overall, with Van Horn Junior High being rated exemplary and the other two campuses earning acceptable ratings. Wink-Loving ISD earned an exemplary rating for the district and both campuses, Wink High School and Wink Elementary.

Statewide, a record number of schools earned the highest rating since the accountability system was tightened nine years ago.

Dropout rates were down slightly and 80 percent of Texas' 4.1 million public school students, including minorities, passed all the state's standardized tests, Education Commissioner Jim Nelson said Thursday.

Out of the total 106 campuses that were tagged low-performing this year, 43 were charter schools. There were 174 charters studied in 2001.

Last year, 20 of the state's 103 charters were low performing, according to the TEA. Overall, the number of low performing campuses fell from 146 in 2000.

Of the state's 7,400 campuses, 1,567 earned the highest mark, exemplary. That record number is up from last year's 1,296 exemplary schools. The rating was given to 178 districts in 2001, compared to 168 a year ago.

The second-highest rating was given to 463 districts and 2,326 campuses. Acceptable ratings were issued to 2,476 schools and 398 districts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Long bridge ready to get wider soon

Staff Writer
PECOS, Fri., Aug. 17, 2001-- A couple of bridges in the area are getting a much-needed "face-lift," including the widening of one 60-year-old bridge to meet modern standards.

"We had not planned to begin this construction until late this fall," said Public Information Officer Glen Larum, with the Texas Department of Transportation, though some construction notices have been out on local roads for the past few weeks.

Larum said that both bridges under repair at had been on their agenda for some time to be refurbished.

One of the bridges is Toyah Draw, located between Pecos and Toyah, while the other one is located technically in Ward County, the Pecos River Relief bridge, commonly known as the "long bridge" located just east of Pecos.

"Both of these bridges over the years have deteriorated and were on our schedule to be rebuilt," said Larum.

Knight Construction, Inc. of Big Spring is the construction company in charge of the project.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $4.3 million.

"The existing bridge in Toyah has been there for a long time, while the one on the Pecos River was built in 1926 and was widened in 1941. The two-lane bridge has no shoulders for cars to pull off onto, as are found on other area bridges.

"It's not on the Interstate, but on the frontage road, BI20B (Business I-20)," said Larum. "It's going to be replaced with 21 span, 1,450 feet long and will be 44 feet wide," he said.

The work was needed because of several cracks and deterioration to the slab and support structure, according to Larum.

"It's something that's been scheduled for some time," he said.

"This is in the business interstate portion that runs through town and not over the Pecos River, but a tributary," said Larum. "It's in the business loop gong into Pecos," he said.

Seal coating was just done on Business I-20 in Ward County two months ago, while resurfacing of I-20 in Ward County between mile markers 49 and 52 was also completed earlier this year. Resurfacing of the Interstate between mile marker 52 and Pyote is pending, and a loop is tentatively scheduled to be built around Pecos in 2005, to allow radioactive waste trucks heading to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad to avoid traveling through downtown Pecos.

KPEJ tackles plan to get signal, Cowboys back

Staff Writer
PECOS, Fri., Aug. 17, 2001-- Pecos cable television viewers may have noticed a better signal for Fox network shows on Channel 8 over the past few months. And they may have also noticed that the Dallas Cowboys' first two preseason games, which were listed to appear on Fox each of the last two Saturday nights, haven't shown up.

Tomorrow night's game between the Cowboys and New Orleans Saints also won't be available to local viewers, but there's good news for Cowboy fans, who faced the possibility of missing as many as 10 of the 16 regular season games after Classic Cable switched Ch. 8 from KPEJ in Odessa to the satellite Fox Net service.

Jamie Beeghley, General Manager for KPEJ, said that steps are already being taken to ensure that Dallas Cowboy fans will be able to view the games this season.

"Our translator is KI8EO, and the way we were serving the Pecos area was through a low-powered channel, with only 1,001 translator," said Beeghley.

The translator station, which was put in after Fox acquired the NFL contract in 1994, is located on top of Gomez Peak, near the Interstate10 junction with I-20. "Because it was located on a high location, the station was able to serve a wider area," according to Beeghley.

"We were able to serve a larger area because of this, including Pecos and Southern New Mexico, because it was high in the middle," he said.

However, in May, a new Midland-Odessa station, KUPB, began operating a full-powered station for the Univision network on Channel 18, according to Beeghley. "Because they were a full-powered station and we're just low-powered, they said we were interfering with them," he said.

Beeghley said that even though they had been there for a number of years, they forced KPEJ to cease operations on Channel 18.

Following that, officials with Classic Cable began receiving signals from Fox Net off the satellite. It's prime time program and national sports programs are the same as KPEJ's, but because of the Cowboys' poor season in 2000, only two Dallas games, on Oct. 24 at Oakland and Dec. 2 at Washington are scheduled for national broadcast.

Four other Cowboy games will be televised on ABC, CBS and ESPN, but the remaining 10 games would only be shown in Pecos if they are the regional games Fox Net selects for national satellite broadcast.

Beehgley said the problem with the Gomez Peak signal might be solved before then.

"We contacted FCC and asked for a relief and expediation," he said.

Beeghley said that they are trying to get re-channeled to Channel 20. "We'll be on Channel 20, but Pecos will probably be viewing it on the same channel as always," he said.

"We hoped there wouldn't be a problem at all," he said. "But we did take some steps in fixing this problem," he said.

The KPEJ signal on Ch. 18 in the past has been weak at times for local viewers, with total outages during cold or rainy weather. However, KPEJ is spending $20,000 to re-channel and better serve the Pecos to Van Horn area, along with the area South of Odessa.

"We have completed all the paperwork and are just waiting for them to give us the green light," said Beeghley. "We don't really foresee any problems, but would like to ask the public to contact their local congressman or the FCC and let them know how important it is to speed this up," he said.

"If they would just let them know that they would appreciate them allowing us to do this, we can get to it right away," he said.

The goal is to do this immediately as soon as the station gets clearance from the government, according to Beeghley.

"Because we were put off the air, there are some expenses," he said.

Although the KPEJ signal off Gomez Peak was on Ch. 18, when it went on the air seven years ago, station officials asked the local cable company to place the signal near those of CBS, NBC and ABC on the cable listings.

"We receive it through Channel 18, but the cable company can place it wherever, so in Pecos, it's through Channel 8," said Beeghley.

Along with the Cowboys' 10 regional games, KPEJ will also carry the World Series, the American League and National League Playoffs and of course, the Super Bowl in January.

"If the public would like to help us out, they need to contact the FCC or their congressman and voice their opinions," said Beeghley.

"I would really like to see this resolved soon, but it could take about a

Area accidents on Thursday cause two deaths, two injuries

Staff Writer
PECOS, Fri., Aug. 17, 2001-- Department of Public Safety and area emergency personnel responded to a number of accidents on Thursday, including one that took the lives of two people on Interstate 10 about 50 miles west of Pecos.

John David Hart, 62, and Alicia Bernal Hart, 50, both of Brisbane, Calif., were killed after they were involved in a one vehicle rollover 36 miles East of Van Horn on Interstate 10.

A DPS representative said that the rollover occurred at 1:35 p.m., on Thursday in Culberson County.

The Harts were traveling west in the left lane on I-10 in a 1991 Ford Explorer when the accident occurred.

"The driver was fatigued or fell asleep and drifted into the center median," she said. "He took faulty evasive action and overcorrected back to the right."

The representative said that the vehicle went into a broad side skid across both lanes of I-10 and entered the North bar ditch overturning twice coming to rest facing South.

Culberson County Justice of the Peace Lupe Escargeda pronounced Mr. Hart dead at 3:10 p.m., at the scene of the accident.

Mrs. Hart was transported to Thomason Hospital in El Paso where she later died.

Mr. Hart's body was transported to Van Horn Funeral Home while Mrs. Hart's body was transported to the El Paso Medical Examiner's Office.

DPS said that Mr. Hart was wearing a seatbelt but Mrs. Hart was not.

DPS trooper Delyande Delco of Van Horn is investigating this accident.

Another one vehicle accident at 3:36 p.m., yesterday approximately 10 miles north of Pecos on U.S. 285 sent two people to Reeves County Hospital, and a minor accident occurred at the I-10 and I-20 split, 40 miles southwest of Pecos at 7:15 p.m.

Firemen to collect funds on Saturday to help fight MS

PECOS, Fri., Aug. 17, 2001-- The Pecos Volunteer Fire Department is asking for your help in the fight against muscular dystrophy this Saturday.

The firemen will be out in full force collecting money with the annual Pecos MDA Fill the Boot campaign, which is being held in conjunction with the 36th Annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

The money the firemen raise from this pre-telethon even will stay in West Texas to help fight muscular dystrophy and provide much needed services to over 300 clients her in Pecos and throughout West Texas.

These services are of no cost to the client or their families and include a comprehensive medical clinic, support group and summer camp.

The firemen ask for support in this campaign and hope to see you tomorrow.


PECOS, Fri., Aug. 17, 2001-- High Thursday 97. Low this morning 69. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low around 70. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High 90 to 95. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low 65 to 70. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. High 90 to 95. Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 60s to mid 70s. Highs in the 90s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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