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Archive 2002

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, February 22, 2002

PUC approves new area code for city, county

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- The Town of Pecos City and all of Reeves County will be getting a  new area code in April 2003, the Public Utility Commissioner of  Texas announced on Thursday, as part of a plan to split the current 915 area  code into three sections across West Texas.

The PUC issued an order Thursday to create the split after a series of public meetings and comments on several proposals to accommodate increased phone use demands.

The growth of cellular phones, computer-only connections to the internet and mobile pagers has forced the PUC to create a number of new area codes in Central and East Texas over the past decade due to the decline in available phone numbers within each area code. With a stagnant population, growth in phone usage has been slower in West Texas, but the press release from the PUC stated that current estimates predict that the 915 area code will run out of numbers in early 2004.

Currently, the 915 area code covers the largest region of Texas, stretching from El Paso to east of the Abilene and Brownwood areas. Under the plan, the El Paso area, including Hudspeth County and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park area of northern Culberson County, will retain the 915 area code. The PUC said the decision was made because of El Paso's concentrated population, extensive bilingual network and well-developed international commerce.

The remaining parts of the 915 area code will be divided into two sections. Section A will include the eastern section of the area, and take in the cities of Abilene, Brownwood, San Angelo, Sweetwater and Snyder.

Section B will include Pecos and all of Reeves County. The area will stretch from southwestern Culberson County to northeastern Howard County, and will also include Midland and Odessa, Van Horn, Alpine, Fort Stockton, Monahans, Andrews, Seminole and Big Spring.

The new area code number for Section A and Section B will be chosen in a few months, according to Terry Hadley with the Public Utility Commission. "We will introduce them in April 2003, but first we have to get the list of available area codes from the national group," he said.

"There will be at least a few months," between the time the new numbers are announced and the new area codes will take effect, he added.

Under the plan, there will be a nine-month period after April 2003 where the 915 area code will still work across the entire region. Callers will be reminded to dial the new area code beginning in October 2003, and the new area codes will become mandatory in December of 2003.

The PUC said an extensive customer education program to introduce customers to the new area codes would begin in early 2003.

Two primary candidates on back tax payment plans

Staff Writers

PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- Dueling charges between the two candidates for Reeves County  Judge over the past several days have focused on back taxes owed by  Louis Matta, who is challenging two-term incumbent Jimmy B. Galindo for  the county judge's position in the March 12 Democratic Party primary election.

Both candidates have run ads this week _ Galindo charging that Matta owes $19,000 in back taxes, while Matta has said in his ads that he is on a payment plan and has all records of his tax payments.

A check of records at both the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax assessor-collector's and the Reeves County Tax office, shows both ads are accurate, and that Matta is one of two candidates in contested races who are on payment plans for back property taxes.

Aside from Matta, the other candidate in a contested race who is on a payment plan is incumbent Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax assessor-collector Lydia Prieto, who collects taxes for the city, school and hospital, said that a lot of individuals like to take advantage of their payment plan, while Reeves County tax assessor-collector Elfida Zuniga said her office also offers a payment plan, which both Matta and Florez are using right now.

Galindo is not listed on the local property tax rolls but does pay taxes on the Eddy Street home he lives in, which is listed under the name of Juan Galindo. Matta's taxes are owed mostly on joint property in the 200 block of South Pecan Street he owns with Town of Pecos City Mayor Raymond Ortega, who filed this week to seek a second two-year term in office in the May 4 city elections.

Records provided by Prieto's office and by the Reeves County Tax Office show Matta owes $970 in taxes for 1999 on property he owns by himself in the 1400 block of South Plum Street, while the remainder of the taxes he is making payments on are on the property owned with Ortega, and include the years 1991 through 1999 and the year 2001.

Florez, who is being challenged by Sofia Abila, owes just under $1,000 in property taxes for the years 1999 and 2000, according to the records of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax office. That includes $31.25 on 2001 taxes, but Zuniga said Florez has paid the first half of that and the balance is considered current.

The county also offers a payment plan and both Matta and Florez are on the plan.

In the other major race in the March 12 primary election, both Precinct 2 incumbent commissioner David Castillo and his challenger Norman Hill, are current on their taxes.

Reeves County Commissioner for Precinct 4, Gilberto "Hivi" Rayos and district clerk Pat Tarin are both current on their taxes. Both are also up for election this year, but are unopposed on the March 12 ballot.

Dawdy adjusting to job as new jail's administrator

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- Helping the public is the primary goal for the Town of Pecos City's  new Jail Administrator Tony Dawdy.

Dawdy was recently appointed to the jail administrator position for the Pecos Municipal Criminal Justice Center, the new 96-bed facility that just received its first 20 inmates this week.

Dawdy, a Dallas native, said the new job is a change from his days as police officer for the Pecos Police Department, though he started out working in the law enforcement industry as a jailer at the Reeves County Jail in 1984, under then-Sheriff Raul Florez.

"I learned a lot from that man," he said. "I'm here now because of that man."

At the time he wasn't looking to make law enforcement a career, he just needed a job.

"I got into law enforcement because I was laid off and I needed a job," he said.

Since then he has spent time working for the Reeves County Sheriff's Department, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the Pecos Police Department and he has also served on the city's SWAT team.

During those first few years of working as a jailer at the Reeves County Jail, Dawdy said he would see the deputies come off the streets and he wonder what that would be like.

"I wanted to get out on the streets and experience what it's like," he said.

Dawdy said the satisfaction from his job comes from helping defenseless people, those "who are not strong enough to defend themselves."

"I became a police officer because I wanted to help people," he said.

Dawdy moved to Pecos when he was nine-years-old with his parents Jackie and Vernell Dawdy and his siblings, Debra, Danny and "Peanut."

As a child, he spent most of his time playing sports. Now as an adult, Dawdy enjoys coaching his Pee-Wee Football the Vikings.

He believes that the children are our future and should be supported in order to help them grow into wonderful adults.

"People in Pecos needs to get involved with our youth," he said. "They're looking for affection and someone to care for them."

Dawdy said that he enjoys helping the children and would do anything he can to do so.

"Anything I can do to help the youth, I'll do it," he said.

He didn't spend much time thinking about what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"I don't remember thinking about that," he said. "I guess I did think that being police officer might be pretty sharp."

As far as he knows, Dawdy said that he was the first one in his family to go into law enforcement.

Dawdy doesn't mind that people might be scared of him as a police officer; he believes that if they are scared then they must be doing something wrong because they are there to protect people.

"We're not out there to scare people," he said. "We're there to help, that's our job, that's what we do."

Now as jail administrator, Dawdy is protecting different people, his co-workers and the inmates themselves.

Dawdy believes that a corrections officer's job is the most thankless jobs you could have.

He said that the correction officers have to protect the lives of many people with most of those individuals hating them which is makes the job dangerous.

"When people see a correction officer they should tip their hat to them," he said. "They're to be commended on their job because they are never thought of until something happens."

As far as his new position with the city, Dawdy said he is looking forward to all the challenges that he would face.

"I'm excited, I like a challenge," he said.

Dawdy believes that his staff at the new jail is exceptional and is proud of all 18 of them.

"I fell like we have an outstanding staff," he said. "I'm very proud of them already and we just started."

Plant closing raises job fair participation

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- Over 30 individuals signed in late this morning at the start of the  Third Annual Reeves county Job and Career Fair and Trade Expo at  the Pecos Technical Training Center-Odessa College, as many  workers facing the loss of their jobs at the Anchor Foods plant in Pecos  seek new jobs both with local and out-of-town companies.

"We had 28 businesses that have a booth here today," said Nancy Ontiveros who is on the planning committee for the job fair. "Six of these businesses are from out of town and we had one come from out of state."

Ontiveros said that the businesses came from as far away as Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Angelo and Vernon, Tx.

"All of the employers we have spoken with are hoping to leave with employees hired today," said Ontiveros. "We have had a tremendous response from Anchor and the community and we just got underway not too long ago," she said, early this morning.

Doors to the event opened at 11 a.m. and the job fair will continue until 7 p.m.

"Registration is being held at the front desk with that we can come up with a complete count at the end of the day," said Pecos Technical Training Center Director Michelle Workman. "All of the vendors are bringing in door prizes."

Ontiveros said that they expected a high attendance due to Anchor layoffs that will occur March 18. "That's when the first layoff is planned," said Ontiveros. McCain Foods announced on Nov. 12 it would close the Anchor plant in Pecos, which it had purchased along with other Anchor Foods plants in September. The closing will leave 700 people without jobs.

Both Anchor and the Pecos Workforce Network are working cooperatively to ensure an easy transition for Anchor employees who will seek other employment, according to Ontiveros.

"Those employers have been working with the Pecos Workforce Network for the past month in preparing for today's job fair," said Ontiveros. "We had classes in resume writing, completing applications properly, addressing questions asked in interviews and proper attire for interviews."

"Today at the job fair, besides job opportunities, we will also have educational and financial opportunities and a safety net for health care," she said.

An Anchor Booth featured an Anchor plant, similar to the one in Pecos, located in Fort Atkinson, Wis. "We have almost he same things as the one in Pecos, we make onion rings, do the same stuff as the plant in Pecos," said David Scheider, a representative of the Anchor facility in Wisconsin.

"We have over 30 job openings and they would be starting up in the middle of April, which coincides with the closing of the plant in Pecos," said Scheider. "We will be making job offers today and they will have a few weeks to make a decision to work on timing and all those other details."

Along with the businesses seeking employees, Workman said that Odessa College was providing representation from the different departments.

"We have International Truck Driving and Allied Health Department representatives, along with continuing education and the technical training center," said Workman. "And all are here to promote our program areas and help students fill their educational needs," she said.

"We are interviewing for GED and ESL classes today," said continuing education director Paula Howard. "We will send out letters to let them know when the classes will be held," she said.

Howard said that as soon as the classes are scheduled they will let the students know. "We're in the process of hiring teachers and finding out when it will be convenient for the students to schedule the classes," she said.

Howard said it would probably the middle to end of March. "They will get a phone call letting them know about continuing education," she said.

All individuals who are Anchor employees and are interested in ESL or GED classes can contact Howard at the Pecos Technical Training Center.

Depending on the outcome of today's event, there is a possibility of another small fair prior to the Anchor plant closing, which will occur in May, according to Ontiveros.

"We're very pleased with the response and this has been a team group effort between the planning group and Anchor to ensure their employees needs are met as well as the community's," she said.

Commissioners plan to discuss contract

PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- Reeves County Commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m., Monday, in the third floor courtroom at the Reeves County Courthouse to discuss several items.

The public is invited to attend.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on Pecos Rifle, Pistol and Trap Club, Inc., range use contract; Reeves County Library Advisory Board; interagency agreement between Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and Andrews County; inmate transportation crew mileage payment; approval for bid property located at 305 S. Sycamore; Frank X. Spencer and Associates request for payment invoice No. 7 RCDC III and bond and oath for Patricia Tarin and Corina Matta. Regular agenda items include: reports from various departments, budget amendments and line item transfers, personnel and salary changes, (RCDC, sheriff's department), minutes from previous meetings and semi-monthly bills.

Saturday to mark early voting start

PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- The first day of early voting for the March 12 primary election will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m., Saturday at the Reeves County Courthouse.

"We will be in Balmorhea on March 2 at the Balmorhea Firehall, located at 4th and San Antonio Streets," said Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

On March 4, they will continue early voting branch for one day and early voting will be held every day from 8-5 p.m. until March 8.

"We sent out 199 ballots by mail and have received 42 back," said Florez, who added that the last day to request an application for a ballot by mail is March 5.

"If anyone has not received their ballot they can contact my office," said Florez., at 445-5467.


PECOS, Fri., Feb. 22, 2002 -- High Thursday 57. Low this morning 29. Forecast for tonight: Mostly  clear. Lows 30 to 35. Southwest winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny,  breezy and unseasonably warm. Highs 80 to 85. Southwest winds 15 to 25  mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 40. Sunday: Partly cloudy.  Highs 75 to 80. Monday: Partly cloudy and cooler. Lows near 30. Highs 60 to 65.


Gloria Alvarez and Luis Molinar

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Pecos Enterprise
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