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Archive 2001

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, September 24, 2001

Voters opt to maintain  current school tax rate

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mon., Sept. 24, 2001 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District employees are celebrating the results of this weekend's rollback election in which voters approved maintaining the district's $1.50 tax rate.

Approximately 152 voters showed up at the polls on Saturday out of a total of 387 community members who took the time to cast ballots on the rollback election.

Jo Allgood, secretary to P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love, said that 283 people voted for the $1.50 tax rate while 104 voted against it, which pleases the school administration. The totals include both Saturday's totals for voters in Pecos, Barstow, Toyah, Orla and Saragosa, and those voters who cast their ballots during early voting at the Pecos Community Center.

Love and assistant superintendent Gome Olibas were out of town today, but Allgood said, "The administration was happy to know it passed."

P-B-T ISD School Board President Crissy Martinez said that she was worried about the voter turnout but is pleased to know that the voters realized the importance of the higher tax rate, "because that is going to allow us to do more for our campuses."

"This is going to provide us an opportunity to do the things we need to do for our school, district and students," she said.

Under state law, the school district was required to hold a rollback election, after increased oil and gas valuations this year raised P-B-T's tax collections by about $2 million compared to the totals for 2000 using the same $1.50 tax rate.

If the rollback vote had passed, the district's tax rate would have been cut by 32 cents per $100 in valuations. However, Love said in the period leading up to the rollback vote that state school funding formulas will take away $2 million beginning with the 2002-2003 school year because of the valuation increases, and it would then take six years to raise the district's rate back up to $1.50, because districts can only increase their tax rates under Texas law by six cents a year.

Valuations could also drop back to lower levels next year, depending on the world price of oil and gas and the effects of the United States planned war against terrorist groups operating in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. Lower valuations would also cut into P-B-T tax revenues for the 2002-2003 school year.

Martinez said that if the higher tax rate had not passed it might have been years before the school district would be able to do all the renovations that they will now use the money for.

"It's good for us because this is the stuff that we need to take care of now," she said.

Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez said that the results of the election would do a lot for the high school as well as other campuses in the district.

"I'm so glad that it gave us a rate of $1.50 because it will enable us to do a lot for the high school," he said.

Rodriguez said that the tax rate would bring in over $1.7 million for renovations to the high school campus that includes the removal of asbestos ceiling and floor tiles and adding new vinyl tile or carpeting, the installation of acoustical ceiling tile, removal of evaporative air units replacing them with roof top refrigerated air units as well as many other renovations.

The $1.50 tax rate will also provide over $500,000 to Bessie Haynes Elementary for renovations and over $50,000 for adding air conditioning to the Crockett Middle School gym.

Other planned expenditures with the one-year tax windfall include over $150,000 for resurfacing the six tennis courts at the high school, over $170,000 for new school buses and vans and $7,500 for new playground equipment at Pecos Kindergarten and Austin Elementary, according to Rodriguez.

"They're planning on using it for quite a few things," Allgood said. "It will make it possible for us to do some things that we wouldn't have been able to do if it had not passed."

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD was one of 17 Texas school districts forced to hold rollback elections due to increases in mineral valuations. Other school districts so far have also voted to maintain their current tax rates, including the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD.

Pecos Motors' old site home to new tenant

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mon., Sept. 24, 2001 -- An old building that had been unoccupied for nearly a decade received a new look this weekend when Needleworks, Etc., officially opened in its larger location in Downtown Pecos.

Owner Peggy Walker welcomed community members to browse around the store, located in the old Pecos Motors building at Second and Cedar streets, in across from the Pecos Senior Center.

Walker said that she decided that she needed a new location because she had run out of room at the old location at the corner of Third and Oak Streets.

"I needed more space since over the years I expanded my inventory so much," she said

Walker started her clothing store on a part-time basis in 1982 and decided to open full-time in 1987.

Now she not only has a store in Pecos but in Fort Stockton and Alpine as well.

Walker said that she decided she needed a new location this past June and was fortunate enough to be able to get the Cedar Street, location which was originally built in 1924 for Pecos Motors, which was the local Ford dealership for over 65 years.

The building has been vacant since the dealership moved out in 1992 and is now owned by Kevin Duke, who uses the other half of the building for his billboard business.

Walker said that Duke built walls, dropped the ceiling and added refrigerated air units so that she could use that half of the building for her store.

She said however that while renovating it they decided to keep an original section of the building.

"We kept the old Ford coffee bar," she said.

Walker said that many people helped in getting the store ready for business in such a short period of time.

"I've just had a lot of help from a lot of people," she said. "This was a major undertaking."

Many of the people who helped were friends of Walker's who spent one Saturday moving all the contents of her store to the new location.

"I had several friends show up and help me," she said. "That goes above and beyond the call of friendship."

Walker said that she would not have been able to make such a move without the help of the employees of Needleworks Kim Sanders, Louise Cassell and Diana Villescas.

"I couldn't have done it without them," she said.

Walker said that she now has enough room to showcase all her inventory and even has enough room for a workroom in the back of the store.

"Now I feel like I have a lot more room so you can see the merchandise," she said.

Needleworks, Etc., is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., on Saturday.

Rec Department registering kids for youth soccer

PECOS, Mon., Sept. 24, 2001 -- Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department is now enrolling children for its Fall Soccer League.

Interested parents or guardians of children who are 5-13 years old may pick up enrollment forms at the recreation office during regular hours.

Entry deadline is Oct. 20 and parents will need to bring birth certificates and both parents' signature. Cost is $10 per child.

For more information call 447-9776.

Bush tells banks to put freeze on terrorists' funds

Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - President Bush, calling for a "strike on the financial foundation" of terrorists, demanded Monday that foreign banks follow America's lead and freeze the assets of 27 individuals and organizations. Osama bin Laden accused Bush of leading a new crusade against Islam "under the flag of the cross."

Bush, standing in the Rose Garden, said the order that took effect one minute after midnight applied to "terrorist organizations, individuals, terrorist leaders, a corporation that serves as a front for terrorism and several nonprofit organizations." He conceded they operate primarily overseas, adding that as a result, "We're putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice."

If they fail to assist, he said, the Treasury Department "now has the authority to freeze their banks' assets and transactions in the United States."

Bush spoke nearly two weeks after the worst terrorism attack on

American soil, when terrorists hijacked jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center twin towers and Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside after doomed passengers apparently struggled with the hijackers. More than 6,000 people are dead or missing.

Halfway around the world, bin Laden urged Pakistani Muslims to fight "the American crusade." The Saudi exile has been named repeatedly by administration officials as the chief culprit behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a statement dated Sunday and broadcast Monday, he said some Pakistanis died opposing American plans to use Pakistan as a springboard in the battle against terrorism. "We hope that they are the first martyrs in Islam's battle in this era against the new crusade and Jewish campaign led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross," he said of the dead. The statement was broadcast by Al-Jazeera, the Qatar satellite channel.

The leader of Afghanistan's ruling militia, Mullah Mohammed

Omar, said the United States should withdraw from the Persian Gulf and "put an end to the biased attitude on the issue of Palestine."

In a faxed statement, he said the death of bin Laden would do little to remove any threat to the United States.

Administration officials indicated a continuing concern about more terrorism directed at the United States. Concerned about possible chemical weapons attacks, the Federal Aviation

Administration extended Sunday's ban on crop-dusting from airplanes in domestic airspace.

Bush coupled his remarks about the financial network of terrorists with a fresh declaration that he was "concerned about he shock this had on the economy." But he said "the fundamentals or (economic) growth are strong," and added defiantly, "We'll come out of this and we'll come out of it strong."

There was at least some sign of optimism on Wall Street, where he stock market opened sharply higher after a week of exceptionally steep declines.

Flanked by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Bush said: "Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations. Today, we're asking the world to stop payment." He called the list "the financial equivalent of law enforcement's most-wanted list."

A fact sheet issued by the white House expanded an order put in place during the Clinton administration. It expands the class of affected groups to all those who are "associated with" designated terrorist groups, and "establishes our ability to block the U.S. assets of, and deny access to U.S. markets, those foreign banks that refuse to freeze terrorist assets."

In his remarks, the president said he recognized that some European countries would probably need to rewrite their own laws to meet America's conditions for choking off the financial network. He said the administration would respond on a "case-by-case basis" in determining how to measure compliance.

Powell repeated the administration's view that bin Laden was culpable for the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 6,000. "There's no question that this network ... this guy at the head of this network, the chairman of this holding company of terrorism, is the one who's responsible."

The president's executive order marked the first public step of the financial elements of his declared war on terrorism. He was working on the diplomatic front during the day, meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the White House.

American military forces are deploying around the world in anticipation of an expected strike against bin Laden and his al-Qaida network. Pakistan announced Monday it had removed its diplomats from Afghanistan.

Bush spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for nearly an hour over the weekend and will see Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday.

As he laid the groundwork for a military strike, the president also sought to help restore a sense of normalcy to the nation. He looked on Sunday as Marines raised the American flag at his Camp David, Md., retreat to full-staff for the first time since the attacks.

Outside Washington, Americans resumed their routines.

Professional football games were played for the first time since Sept. 10.

One famous stadium was transformed into a field of healing. Representatives of New York's broad spectrum of faiths took the field of Yankee Stadium for a flag-draped gathering of prayer for the victims of terrorism. "We need faith, wisdom and strength of soul," said New York's Roman Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Edward Egan.

Chem, bio weapon fears ground crop dusters

Associated Press Writer
BELLE GLADE, Fla. - A group of Middle Eastern men repeatedly asked a fertilizer company about crop-duster planes in the months leading up to the terrorist attacks, company employees told FBI investigators.

J.D. "Will" Lee, general manager of South Florida Crop Care, said Monday that groups of two or three Middle Eastern men came by almost every weekend for six or eight weeks before the attacks, including the weekend just before the Sept. 11 assaults.

Lee said the men were very persistent, asking "odd questions" about his yellow and blue 502 Air Tractor crop-duster. "I wouldn't spend any time talking to them or telling them anything because I didn't think it was any of their business," Lee said.

Often arriving in rented vans at the Belle Glade Municipal Airport, where the crop dusting business is located, the men asked about the range of the airplane, how much it would haul, how difficult it was to fly and how much fuel it would carry, Lee said.

While the FBI investigated, the Federal Aviation Administration banned crop-dusting from planes from flying on Sunday and Monday, concerned about the possibility of chemical and biological attacks. There are an estimated 3,500 agricultural aviators and this is a crucial time of the year for aerial spraying of crops, said James Callan, executive director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association.

Lee said a co-worker, James Lester, identified one of the men for the FBI as Mohamed Atta, believed to be one of the suicide hijackers in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Lester did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Belle Glade is about 40 miles west of West Palm Beach and about an hour's drive from where some of the suspected hijackers stayed before the attacks.

The ban on crop dusters was the second time that agricultural pilots were told not to fly since the attacks.

Asked about the new grounding, the FBI said it was one of the steps it has taken out of "an abundance of caution" and "in reaction to every bit of information and threats received during the course of this investigation."

Callan said he got a call from an FAA official about 8 a.m. Sunday.

"They said it was a national security issue," Callan said. "I made some calls and the indication was that there still is no specific threat, but the FBI apparently ordered this and they just want to make sure that everyone in the ag aviation industry is keeping their eyes and ears open."

The Washington Post also reported that government investigators found a crop-duster manual among the possessions of Zacarias Moussaoui, who is in federal custody on immigration violations. He was detained after he sought flight training in Minnesota and the school grew suspicious and called authorities.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld outlined the potential threat Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation," saying that countries sponsoring terrorism have "very active chemical and biological warfare programs."

"We know that they are in close contact with terrorist networks around the world," he said.


PECOS, Mon., Sept. 24, 2001 -- High Sunday 87. Low this morning 55. Weekend rainfall at Texas A&M Experiment Station .66 inch. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 45 to 50. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s. East winds 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Mostly clear. Lows around 50.  Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs around 80.  Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the 50s. Highs 80 to 85.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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