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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, February 4, 2002

Pecos drops to Class 3A under UIL realignment

Staff Writer
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 League.

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 largest city.

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 square mile.

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 bid.

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

Staff Writer
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 last week.

"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," he said.

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 weapons.

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 matter.

"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 Davis.

"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 Norman Gaume.

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 to Texas.

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 salt cedars.


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 to 65.

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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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