Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, February 4, 2002
Pecos drops to Class 3A under UIL realignment
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Mon., Feb. 4, 2002 -- The Pecos Eagles will be in a smaller
classification, but back in with some former Class 4A rivals next season,
while the Balmorhea Bears will see some of their former district rivals
come back into their six-man football district following the announcement
today of the bi-annual realignment of Texas schools by the University Interscholastic
As expected, the Eagles were dropped into Class 3A for the 2002-2003
and 2003-2004 school years, due to both a decline in enrollment and an
increase in the bottom cutoff point for Class 4A schools. Under the UIL's
latest overhaul, Class 5A's minimum attendance level was raised to 1,910
from 1,865. The UIL also elevated the cutoff for 4A to 900 from 845. The
minimum for 3A was again 345, while the two lowest classifications increased
by 10 each.
Pecos will now be in District 4-3A, with former 4A rivals Monahans and
Fort Stockton, along with the Kermit Yellowjackets, Midland Greenwood Rangers
and Presidio Blue Devils. Monahans dropped down to Class 3A six years ago,
while Fort Stockton dropped down in 2000.
In-between, the Eagles were shuffled into a Class 4A district that included
five El Paso-area schools, which greatly increased the travel costs for
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD athletic and academic teams. The nearest district
school to Pecos in the current 2-4A alignment is Fabens, 175 miles away.
Under the new Class 3A arrangement, the Eagles' furthest district rival
will be Presidio, 160 miles away, while Greenwood is 110 miles and Kermit,
Monahans and Fort Stockton are all between 40 and 55 miles away.
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD superintendent Don Love, athletic director Bubba
Williams, head football coach Gary Grubbs and other school officials picked
up their realignment packages this morning at the Region 18 Service Center
in Midland. They were unavailable for comment on the changes at press time.
Pecos and Greenwood will replace Alpine and Crane in the district, after
both those schools dropped down to Class 2A for the next two years. Alpine
will become a member of District 1-2A, while Crane will move into District
3-2A beginning in August.
For Greenwood, the move is a return to the district they were part of
for most of the 1990s. They were moved into District 3-3A when Fort Stockton
dropped from Class 4A to 3A in 2000.
The only sport not affected by the move will be swimming, which will
remain a part of District 3-4A. Monahans, Fort Stockton, Seminole and Abilene
Wylie already were Class 3A members of the district, which also includes
Andrews and Big Spring. Under a rule change made in 1999, regional and
state swim meets are divided into Class 5A and sub-5A classifications.
Balmorhea will continue in six-man football, but now as a member of
District 6-A instead of District 8-A, though the numbering will have little
effect on any post-season match-ups for the Bears.
However, their district will be expanded back to the seven teams it
had throughout most of the 1990s. Buena Vista and Grandfalls-Royalty, which
were moved into District 7-A two years ago, are also part of the new District
6-A and will join the Bears, Sanderson Eagles, Dell City Cougars, Marathon
Mustangs and Sierra Blanca Vaqueros this coming fall.
In basketball, the UIL will continue to split Class A schools into Division
I and Division II levels. Balmorhea will be part of District 9-A, which
will remain unchanged, with Dell City, Valentine, Sierra Blanca and Fort
Davis as the district's other members.
Pecos wasn't the only West Texas Class 4A school to drop down in the
UIL's realignment. Snyder also will fall from 4A to 3A this coming fall,
while up in the Panhandle, both Borger and Canyon will drop down to Class
3A beginning in August.
Those changes will allow the UIL to shrink District 4-4A from an eight-team
league to only six teams for the next two years. It will include the Eagles'
former 2-4A rivals Andrews, Big Spring and San Angelo Lake View, along
with Lubbock Estacado, Frenship and Levelland. Plainview will move into
District 3-4A, joining Amarillo Caprock, Amarillo Palo Duro, Hereford,
Pampa and Canyon Randall.
Snyder will be moving into District 3-3A, along with Sweetwater, and
will be paired with Denver City, Merkel, Lamesa and Seminole. That district
will be the one the Eagles' new District 3-4A will face in the bi-district
round of the playoffs in various sports.
Pecos' current District 2-4A will also undergo some other changes besides
losing the Eagles. Canutillo will be shifted into District 1-4A, which
will be made up of teams on the west side of El Paso, while the remaining
four schools _ Clint, El Paso Mountain View, Fabens and San Elizario, will
be paired with El Paso Del Valle, which is dropping down from Class 5A,
along with current District 1-4A members El Paso Parkland, El Paso Ysleta
and El Paso Riverside.
El Paso Austin, El Paso Irvin and El Paso Jefferson also are dropping
into Class 4A, and will be paired with Canutillo, El Paso High, El Paso
Bowie, El Paso Burges and the new El Paso Chapin in District 1-4A. The
remaining Class 5A schools in El Paso will now be paired together in only
one district, and District 4-5A, with the six schools from Odessa, Midland
and Abilene, will be renamed District 3-5A, but will keep its current line-up,
adding San Angelo Central for other extracurricular activities.
Fabens and Clint were granted waivers by the UIL to remain in Class
4A, even though both schools reported Class 3A enrollments. The request
was made to cut down on travel expenses, as were the requests granted to
Fort Hancock and Marfa to move from Class A to Class 2A starting this fall.
The Mustangs and Shorthorns will be part of District 1-2A with Alpine,
Anthony, Tornillo and Van Horn.
The UIL ended up with 225 schools in Class 5A, the same number of schools
during the last realignment; 224 in Class 4A, up by six; 211 in Class 3A,
down by four; and 222 in Class 2A, down by three.
Class 1A had 339 basketball-only schools, 143 11-man football schools
and 102 six-man football schools. That's an increase of 29 basketball schools,
nine 11-man football programs and seven six-man teams.
Most of the moves at the top two classifications were made to compensate
for the opening of seven new schools - three in 5A and four in 4A - and
population growth in the suburbs and bedroom communities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
RCH board holds meeting on bonds for CAT scanner
PECOS, Mon., Feb. 4, 2002 -- Reeves County Hospital District board members
will discuss approving the issuance of revenue bonds to help fund the hospitals
new $800,000 CAT scanner, during a special meeting of the board at 6 p.m.
tonight in the hospital classroom.
RCH administrator Robert Vernor said the meeting, "is just a procedure
the board has to go through to finance the CAT scanner before the bank
can issue loans."
Use of revenue bonds to fund projects does not require bond elections
to be held once final approval is given by the board.
Speed limits on interstates in area go up
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Mon., Feb. 4, 2002 -- Speed limits will be going up in West
Texas and going down in the Houston area this week, as the Texas Department
of Transportation changes signs to comply with both a new state law on
rural speed limits and with one to cut pollution levels in the state's
State Rep. Pete Gallego was scheduled to unveil the first new sign raising
rural speed limits to 75 mph at 2 p.m. today, near the intersection of
I-10 with U.S. 67 and FM 1776 in Pecos County. Gallego sponsored the bill
in the Texas House to raise speed limits on rural highways, in counties
with populations of fewer than 10 persons per square mile.
For drivers in Pecos, the change will have a major effect at first only
for trips headed west towards El Paso. Speed limits will be increased on
I-10 for a 417-mile stretch, from the El Paso-Hudspeth County line to the
Kimble-Kerr County line, northwest of Kerrville. That includes the 41-mile
stretch of I-10 through southern Reeves County.
However on Interstate 20, only the 49-mile section in Reeves County
between the I-10 junction and the Pecos River will see its speed limit
increased to 75 mph. Speed limits on all rural sections to the east will
remain at 70 mph.
TxDOT crews were out over the weekend putting up the new signs, and
were expected to remove the coverings on the signs later this afternoon,
after the dedication ceremony on I-10 with Rep. Gallego.
The crews will also unveil signs at the Pecos River crossing on I-20
warning eastbound traffic to reduce their speed back down to 70 mph. The
75 mph speed limit ends at the Pecos River because Ward County has a population
of about 15 people per square mile, above the cutoff requirement under
Gallego's bill. Reeves County had a population of about eight persons per
While the new signs will appear on the interstate highways first, TxDOT
has the option to raise speed limits on other highways in Reeves County
to 75 mph in the future
While speed limits increase on I-10 in the western half of Texas, speed
limits on the interstate in the Houston area will be dropping to 55 mph
this week, under the state's new air pollution plan.
The slower speed limits target the Houston area's smog problem, one
of the nation's most severe.
Officials said that Houston has been the smoggiest U.S. city in 1999
and 2000 for the past two years, surpassing Los Angeles, based on the number
of days in violation of federal air quality standards. The dubious honor
became campaign fodder against then-Gov. George W. Bush in his presidential
Currently, cars and trucks routinely travel at 70 mph or higher over
much of the Houston freeway system when traffic conditions aren't gridlocked.
The Texas Transportation Commission approved the 55-mph speed limit
Dec. 13 as part of a plan developed by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation
Commission to bring the eight-county region into compliance with federal
ozone standards by 2007. Other highways in Houston and the surrounding
counties will also see new lower speed limits.
Challenges are facing the plan, including some from environmentalists
who claim it won't achieve that goal.
Police say reason for gun seizure rise unknown
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Mon., Feb. 4, 2002 -- The Pecos Police Department in unsure
of why a number of weapons have been discovered in the hands of juveniles
and young adults, according to Police Investigator Kelly Davis.
In the past month two guns have been discovered on two local school
campuses while numerous other weapons have been found in other locations.
Davis said that quite a few .22-caliber weapons have been found, such
as the .22-caliber deringer and the .22-caliber rifles on two individuals
"We've been finding a few more guns than usual," he said.
Even though the police department is glad to find the weapons they do
not know why so many are showing up now.
"We don't know if it's just a coincidence or if it is something significant,"
Davis explained that there have not been more gang-related arrests than
usual lately, which adds to the uncertainty of why they have found more
The police department has gone through stolen item reports to see if
the weapons have been stolen but so far nothing has come up.
The police department also asked the Reeves County Sheriff's Department
to do the same but no report has come back from them, according to Davis.
Although the police department is unaware of the increase in weapons
found to have some significance, they will continue to investigate the
"There's nothing to indicate why we're having an increase in the number
of weapons found," he said.
For now, the police are just happy to find the weapons, according to
"We're pleased to get them off the streets," he said.
If anyone has any information on the weapons found or other illegal
weapons contact the Pecos Police Department at 445-4911.
N.M. reveals Pecos River water release plan
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - A new plan will enable New Mexico to deliver Pecos
River water to Texas as required - not only this year, but in the future.
Pecos River water users have agreed to a long-range plan that would
cost $68 million over 10 years to buy farmland and its associated water
rights, then pump the ground water into the river to supplement its flow.
It also calls for water-saving methods in southeastern New Mexico.
"We're in crisis here on the Pecos," said Tom Davis, manager of the
Carlsbad Irrigation District. "We may have dodged the bullet for the last
calendar year ... but this year is shaping up to be a much drier year."
The amount due under an interstate compact that governs the river water
is based on a complex formula and changes annually. Last year, New Mexico
had to lease and buy water rights to make the delivery.
In the 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled New Mexico had violated the
interstate compact and had shorted Texas 10,000 acre-feet of water per
year since the 1960s. An acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons, can meet the
annual water needs of one to two U.S. households.
The court ordered New Mexico not to fall short again. New Mexico also
paid Texas $14 million.
This year "looks pretty bad in terms of our ability to comply. There's
just not much water in the Pecos this year," said Interstate Stream Engineer
An ad hoc committee of Pecos water users last month came up with a long-term
compromise for meeting the delivery obligation.
The goal is eventually to build up a water delivery credit with Texas
that could be used as a cushion in dry years.
Under the plan, the state would buy 6,000 acres of irrigated farmland
in the Carlsbad Irrigation District and 12,000 acres worth of water rights
upstream from Brantley Reservoir near Carlsbad. Water previously used for
irrigation in both areas would be left in the river to augment deliveries
Some 20,000 acre-feet of ground water also would be pumped into the
river each year from the aquifer under Roswell and Artesia.
The plan also calls for conservation methods and removing water-guzzling
Alicia C. Mata, Nicholas M. Gonzales, Jr. and Richard Jacquez, Sr.
PECOS, Mon., Feb. 4, 2002 -- High Sunday 56. Low this morning 38. Rainfall
last 24 hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .25 inch. Forecast for
tonight: Rain likely this evening: With rain becoming mixed with snow late.
Lows in the mid 30s. Light and variable winds. The chance of precipitation
is 70 percent. Tuesday: Cloudy and cool with a mix of rain and snow likely
in the morning: Changing to rain by afternoon. Highs 40 to 45. North winds
10 to 20 mph. The chance of precipitation is 70 percent. Tuesday night:
Decreasing cloudiness. Lows 25 to 30. Wednesday: Partly cloudy and warmer.
Highs in the mid 50s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows 25 to 30. Highs 60