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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

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Monday, March 25, 2002

Annual auction collects $3,600 for Eagle band

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mon., march 25, 2002 -- The Pecos Band Boosters and the Pecos Band Program received a lot of support this weekend with their annual Band Boosters Auction held at the Bill Carico Band Hall.

Head Band Director Merle Lenfest said the band boosters were able to raise approximately $3,600 from the numerous items they auctioned off.

This was the first auction that Lenfest was involved in so he said he wasn't sure what to expect but believes that it went well.

"I'm so happy it turned out so well," he said.

The group of booster members, parents and students expected the auction to wind down at about 6 p.m., that night but ended up staying till 9:30 p.m.

"We had a hard time stopping at 9:30," Lenfest said.

Lenfest explained that many local businesses donated items to be auctioned off that they still had a few left at the end of the night.

"I'd never seen anything like that," he said.

Lenfest said he appreciates the support shown to the music program by the local businesses and community members.

"I've got so many nice things to say about Pecos," he said.

Lenfest is amazed at the people of Pecos and their support for the band program even with the uncertainties that recent events have brought to the town such as the Anchor plant closing.

"People take an interest in our kids," he said. "The community has dealt with Anchor closing and financial uncertainties and yet all these businesses were still willing to donate to our auction. That was very gratifying to me."

The students also noticed the support they received from the community.

"I really believe that it makes a difference to the kids to know that the adults support them and the community supports them," Lenfest said.

Lenfest said he was proud of his students especially those that took the time out of their busy schedules to help with the auction, some of which stayed most of the day.

"I had kids show up there working who would not be going on the spring trip because they are so busy," he said.

The spring trip Lenfest refers to is the upcoming trip to Dallas at the end of April when the Pecos High School Band will perform at the Sandy Lake Music Festival.

A part of the proceeds from the auction will go towards funding for that trip, where the students will also take time out to go to Six Flags.

Lenfest said that the rest of the money will be given for scholarships and used by both the high school and junior high school bands for items needed next year.

The band boosters also raised money through a bake sale and brisket plate sale, which sold out by 2:30 p.m., according to Lenfest.

The different bands even competed in the bake sale for a pizza party to the band that raised the most money.

"For the first time that anybody can remember the high school won the bake sale," Lenfest said.

Lenfest appreciates the help of the community, students and parents in supporting the band booster auction and is looking forward to the rest of the year.

Commissioners approve event for County Government Week

Staff Writer
PECOS, Mon., March 25, 2002 -- County government week is right around the corner and Reeves County is already making plans in recognition of the special event.

"It's just right around the corner and especially now, after the Sept. 11 attacks, I think it is very important to let the community know what county government is all about," said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin, while discussing county government week, at this morning's regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting

"Officials are always on hand to protect our citizens and we want to let them know what it is we do," said Tarin. "All of the things we do are for our community."

Tarin told the group that the week of April 7-13 has been designated for this year's events, and as in past years, commissioners would provide vital information to the community about county government and invited school groups to the event.

"I think April 8, would be a good day to have a celebration here at the courthouse," said Tarin.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said that this would also coincide with their regular scheduled meeting. "This shouldn't pose a problem."

"I'd like to invite all the students or maybe visit a few schools and have a presentation," said Tarin.

Tarin said that hamburgers would be served outside the courthouse as part of the celebration.

"We can have a late meeting on that day," said Tarin.

All elected officials and the community are invited to come out and visit with the commissioners and see county government in action.

"I know Mr. Owens (Lynn, county auditor) is not an elected official, but is always there to help us," said Tarin.

"That goes for a lot of different respects, we really appreciate him," said Galindo.

In other business during this morning's brief meeting, commissioners approved an interagency agreement between the City of Andrews and Reeves County during their regular meeting. "This is for their participation in the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force," said Galindo.

Regulation of subdivisions, under House Bill 1445, would fall under city rules, a topic that was discussed this morning.

Galindo told the group that the legislature is mandating the regulation of subdivisions within the territorial jurisdiction of cities. "We had approved the regulation for counties, which made the city eligible for grant money," he said.

"I believe we should ask the city to be responsible for the regulations of the subdivisions," said Galindo, who suggested talking to the city about the regulations.

"I think it makes more sense for the city to enforce that code in that particular area," he said. "I suggest we ask the city to enforce the subdivision regulations within the extra-territorial jurisdictions of the city."

The group approved payments to LMD Architect for reimbursement of expenses to the architect in charge of the construction at RCDC III; payment to Frank X. Spencer for on-site construction observation and office work and inmate transportation crew mileage.

Commissioners picked out 15 more names for the salary grievance committee and those individuals will be contacted and asked if they would like to serve on the committee, according to county clerk Dianne Florez.

A resolution for the Democratic Primary runoff central counting station scheduled for April 9, was approved, along with the clerks and managers.

Personnel and salary changes included at the Reeves County Detention Center, promotions to Robert Chabarria, Eleuterio Garcia and Jose Minjarez to Correctional Officer II's at a salary of $24,000 and Rafael Florez, Jr. to COIII at $26,000 per year.

Sierra Blanca residents adjust to SSB takeover, probe of bank's failure

SIERRA BLANCA - Hudspeth County Judge James Peace knows that Sierra Blanca needed a new bank. State regulators closed the old one after finding too many defaulted loans and evidence of embezzlement.

Even though the Security State Bank of Pecos - which took over the failed bank - might have more money to lend, for Peace, it's not the same.

"Dealing with out-of-town people is not like dealing with people you know - or think you know," he said.

Pecos, population 9,501, is 120 miles east of Sierra Blanca. And Sierra Blanca, population 900, is 90 miles southeast of El Paso.

President Bill Oglesby says he hopes his Pecos bank can offer even better service than the Bank of Sierra Blanca did for the many farmers and ranchers who put their money - and their trust - there.

"They had a smaller loan limit," Oglesby said in an interview last month. "Maybe we can loan a little bit more to people who have a higher need."

The Bank of Sierra Blanca had served residents' financial needs for about 22 years until it was closed on Jan. 18. Security State Bank took over operations, renaming the business Trans-Pecos Banks, the same name as is used by the company's bank branch in Marathon.

Although early estimates that depositors lost more than $700,000 have been revised to slightly more than $86,000, it's still a blow for Hudspeth County residents who depended on the bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is still investigating the bank and the FBI is looking into whether any federal laws were violated, but few details have emerged.

"They haven't spilled (any) beans," Peace said. "The (bank's) board members, some of those are very close friends of mine and they lost everything."

In fact, the board members, who were the bank's major stockholders, will shoulder the majority of the losses, said FDIC spokesman David Barr. Most depositors' money was FDIC insured, but stockholders' investments are not and they are last in line to be reimbursed as the bank's assets are sold off.

Jim Ed Miller, a Hudspeth County commissioner and one of the bank's shareholders, lost money.

"There are things still pending, so I'm not going to talk about it," said Miller, who is not related to former Red Bluff Water Power Control Board General Manager Jim Ed Miller of Pecos.

The FDIC is closing out the process of selling the bank's 400 loans, worth about $12 million, Barr said.

"We've been in there for over two months now, and we're still in the transition stage," Oglesby said today. "We're still trying to take care of the customers and their anxiety over the FDIC selling their loans, but we've kept four of the employees who previously had been with the bank and we've been very pleased with them."

Peace said the county had about $600,000 in the bank, but won't lose anything because the deposits were structured so the entire amount is insured. Plans to build a new jail and to rebuild the courthouse will continue on schedule, he said.

The bank first caught the attention of regulators for making a large number of risky loans, said Gayle Griffin, a deputy commissioner with the Banking Department of Texas.

He said regulators found the bank's capital at a dangerously low level as more loans were written off as uncollectable. Still, state and federal officials probably could have repaired that damage, Griffin said.

But after the theft was discovered, he said, the losses grew to the point that the bank could not find enough additional money from investors to remain solvent.

A bank employee has been identified as a suspect, and asked if charges will be filed, Griffin said, "I don't think it's a matter of if, I think it's a matter of when."

Because the depositors' money appears to be safe, business owners in town seemed to shrug off the bank's failure.

Rosenda Carbajal, who owns the Sister's Rock Shop and Gifts, which advertises snacks, turquoise, jewelry, old bottles and peaceful massage therapy, said she didn't lose any money when the bank was closed.

"It don't mean nothing to me, it's just another bank to me," Carbajal said. "I don't know the people or nothing. I know the tellers and that's probably about it."

Robert Gomez, who operates the Cactus Food and Grill, said he didn't know the bank was having problems.

"It's just kind of sad that this town couldn't keep a bank," Gomez said. "You just hate to see somebody else have to come in and take it over."

Overall, Oglesby said, "We seem to be getting good feedback from the community. A lot of them are just glad to still have a bank in town."

Bank failures are uncommon, Griffin said, but regulators are responsible for protecting depositors so they have faith that their money is safe.

"If it happens at all it's too frequent because fraud and embezzlement are involved," Griffin said. "We're trying to maintain public confidence in the system."

Relay for Life's organizers plan Tuesday meeting

PECOS, Mon., march 25, 2002 -- A Relay for Life meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday at First United Methodist Church.

Anyone interested in participating in the yearly event is encouraged to attend this meeting.

For more information contact Terri Spence at 447-4738.


PECOS, Mon., march 25, 2002 -- High Sunday 86. Low this morning 44. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows 30 to 35. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Highs 60 to 65. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows 35 to 40. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows 45 to 50. Highs 75 to 80.


Patsy Boynton, Eric Guzman, Frank Joplin, Hilton Lawless

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