Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, May 20, 2002
Hundreds pay final respects to Rodriguez
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- Hundreds of Law Enforcement Officers attended
the funeral for fallen officer Jaime Rodriguez today at Santa Rosa
Rodriguez died in Lubbock about 6½ hours after being shot twice
in the abdomen while performing a routine drug check on a Greyhound bus on
Thursday morning in Pecos.
Along with numerous family and friends approximately 20 different law
enforcement agencies from Texas and New Mexico paid their respects at the
Hundreds of people filled the streets as numerous vehicles line the streets
in front of Santa Rosa Catholic Church, just across the street from Rodriguez'
childhood home. Many more waited at Mount Evergreen Cemetery on the southwest
side of Pecos to pay their final respects.
Authorities on Friday identified a 19-year-old Austin resident as the
man who fatally shot Rodriguez, a Trans Pecos Task Force officer, and wounded
a passenger after Rodriguez asked the man for identification
The man, Richard Colunga II, was killed when officers returned fire, according
to the Department of Public Safety.
Colunga was wanted on a Travis County warrant for aggravated robbery with
a deadly weapon, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said.
When asked for identification the gunman replied that he only had a bus
ticket, but when Rodriguez inspected the ticket and determined it was for
a different bus, the man drew a gun from behind his back and started shooting,
Also shot was Heather Lee, 17, a passenger from Columbia, S.C., Altom
said. The girl had a bullet lodged near her spine and was in stable condition
awaiting surgery late Friday, she said.
Colunga was shot and killed in the exchange of fire on board the bus.
Ballistics tests were being conducted to find out who fired the shots that
struck all three people on the bus.
A bag belonging to Colunga was located on Friday in Tucson, Ariz. Officials
said a drug dog alighted on the bag, and it was returned to Pecos as part
of the investigation.
Cuellar outlines plans during Pecos stopover
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- U.S. Congress candidate Henry Cuellar made
a campaign stop in Pecos during his West Texas Tour last Thursday morning
to talk with local officials and citizens about Pecos' needs.
The stop came on a mournful day however with Cuellar arriving just a few
hours after shots were fired at the local Greyhound Bus Station.
After expressing his concern over the day's events, Cuellar began talking
with several people about his hopes for the future.
Cuellar, who is the former Texas Secretary of State, is running against
five-term Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla in the November general election.
He said his main goal in running for Congress is to give the general public
a bigger voice to express what the public believes needs to be done in America.
"I want to have some sort of presence in West Texas," he said.
Continuing, he said that he would like to have an office with his staff
members in each county of this district so the public would be able to visit.
"That is one of the reasons I'm running, we need customer service in Congress,"
he said. "To make sure we listen to people."
Cuellar, who came from a stop in Fort Stockton, also spoke of his plans
if he's elected to Congress.
Those plans include emphasizing education and health care as well as helping
citizens benefit from federal funding.
"A lot of people don't know what federal dollars there are," he said.
"We need to bring more resources in the area."
Originally from Laredo, Cuellar has spent seven terms in office as a Democratic
State Representative where he worked to improve education, health care and
build bipartisan coalitions to protect water and property rights, improve
farm-to-market roads, implement tough anti-poaching laws and increase access
to health care for seniors.
In a previous interview with the Pecos Enterprise Cuellar explained numerous
things he has been involved in while in the State Legislature.
"I was the author of the Texas Grant, which is the largest financial aid
program in history (for student college funds), and I was chairman of the
budget committee on public schools and higher education until I became Secretary
of State," Cuellar said.
"While I was in Austin I emphasized health care, and started the CHIP
program in Laredo, which is now statewide," Cuellar said.
Over the next several weeks Cuellar plans to visit each county in the
West Texas district.
He said that the West Texas district alone, which is a total of 24 counties,
is larger than many states.
"This district is larger than 31 states," he said.
Cuellar is looking forward to serving the citizens of West Texas and plans
to be in the area many more times before the November election.
He plans to come back to Pecos in July to participate in the West of the
Pecos Rodeo Parade, however he is unsure what he'll be riding in that parade.
"They haven't decided if I'll be in a car or on a horse," he said smiling.
Either way Cuellar said he'd be happy to be here.
Cornyn's campaign bringing tour bus through Pecos
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, who
is seeking the position in the U.S. Senate currently held by Phil Gramm,
will be stopping in Pecos Tuesday afternoon, as part of his statewide
bus tour leading up to the November general election.
Cornyn, a Republican who was elected Attorney General in 1998, will meet
with area residents beginning at 1:45 p.m. at the Reeves County Courthouse.
His bus tour will then take him to Monahans later Tuesday afternoon.
Cornyn is running against former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who won the Democratic
nomination in a runoff last month against Victor Morales, who was defeated
by Gramm in the 1996 U.S. Senate election. Gramm, who was first elected to
the Senate in 1984, opted against running for a fourth term in office this
While in Pecos, Cornyn plans to outline his plans if elected to Senate.
In a press release, he listed protecting the most vulnerable in society,
strengthening our national defense, reducing the burden of the government
and fighting for Texas values as some of his key issues.
Valuations for city increase, county, school, RCH decline
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- After a sharp increase last year, property
values in Reeves County dropped back down in 2002, according to the
Reeves County Tax Appraisal Office.
Meanwhile, valuations were up for the Town of Pecos City, which saw a
decline a year ago, as real estate values in the city increased, while oil
and gas valuations outside the city limits dropped from 2001's totals.
The Reeves County Appraisal District mailed property owners letters showing
their 2002 proposed appraised value today, as required by state law. They
show valuations in Reeves County declined by nearly $10 million, while valuations
in the Reeves County Hospital District fell almost $18 million and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD dropped by $29.3 million.
While the county, school and hospital districts all saw declines from
a year ago, the drops are far smaller than the increases in 2001. The school
district's valuations rose by nearly $140 million last year, while Reeves
County and the RCH district saw their valuations rise by about $130 million.
Declines in the price of oil and natural gas compared with the start of
last year account for the decline, though the hospital district also lost
$2.9 million in real estate valuations and the school district saw their
valuations drop by $3.65 million, to go along with a $25.6 million drop in
Real estate valuations in the Town of Pecos City were up $5.66 million
and the county saw its property values jump $5.2 million. The increase was
not enough to offset the county's $15.1 million drop in mineral valuations,
but the city saw its much smaller mineral valuations fall by only $1.2 million,
leaving it with a net gain of $4.4 million in valuations for 2002.
Total valuations for the county and hospital district are $468.1 million,
while the P-B-T valuations are $478.2 million. Valuations within the Town
of Pecos City were put at $117.7 million by Markham's office.
The school district's property and mineral declines will be coupled with
last year's increase and a drop in enrollment to severely cut state funding
for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD for the 2002-2003 school year. School officials
were already aware of the problem last year, since Superintendent Don Love
said the state's funding formulas are based on both enrollment levels and
total taxable valuations from the previous year.
Along with the city, both Balmorhea and the Balmorhea ISD showed increases
in their net taxable valuations this year. Balmorhea ISD was the only taxing
entity to report an increase in mineral valuations, rising $1.38 million
from last year. Combined with a $45,800 rise in real estate values they put
the school district's total valuations at $25.7 million.
The city of Balmorhea's total valuations were $3.47 million, as it saw
real estate values rise $29,547, to offset a $3,260 drop in mineral values.
Among the other taxing entities within the county, Toyah's valuations
declined $123,932 to $1.56 million; and the Reeves County Water Improvement
District No. 2 saw its valuations drop $3.7 million, to $9.7 million.
With the appraisal letters going out to property owners today, Markham
reminds property owners that the letter of appraised value is not a tax bill.
"Please do not pay _ this is not a tax bill," she said.
Markham emphasized the importance of this letter and the key information
that it contains. "A property owner has the right to appeal to the Reeves
County Appraisal Review Board on any disagreement with the property's value,
exemptions, ownership and other areas," she said.
The deadline for protesting to the ARB is June 19.
The appraisal review board, more commonly called the "ARB," is an independent
panel of citizens responsible for hearing and settling protests from property
owners who disagree with some action by the appraisal district. The notice
includes instructions on how and when to file a protest and a protest form.
What should a property owner carefully review? "Look at the proposed value
for 2002," said Markham. "The letter states that land's value and any improvement
value for the property for the current year," she said.
An improvement is a building, structure, fence or any other type of fixture
to the land.
The appraisal letter also includes current year information on exemptions
granted on the property. It provides last year's value, too.
Homeowners that qualify for property tax homestead exemptions have a limitation
on their homes' appraised value, beginning with the second year that they
qualify their home for homestead exemptions. The appraisal district may not
increase their home value by more than 10 percent for each year since the
last reappraisal year. A homeowner's letter gives both the market value for
the home and the limited home value.
Letters to property owners whose values changed or a new owner "estimated"
taxes. These "estimated" taxes are based on the new taxable value and last
year's tax rates. Taxing units will set final 2002 tax rates in August and
September. Final tax amounts may vary from these "estimated" amounts.
Markham asks property owners to check the legal description and mailing
address to be sure that there are not mistakes. "If the letter has an old
address, please let the appraisal district know. The post office forwards
mail to a new address for a short time, and tax bills do not go out until
October," said Markham.
A property owner is responsible for informing the appraisal district of
the correct mailing address. A property owner is liable for additional penalties
and interest on a tax bill that is not paid on time.
"If you did not get a letter and want 2002 information about your property,
call the appraisal district at 445-5122," said Markham.
Chamber members get details on plans
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- Grand Marshals for the Annual West of the
Pecos Rodeo Parade were chosen and committee members are working on
other plans to make this year's event a success, one of the organizers
of the event told Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors
during their lunchtime meeting last Tuesday.
The Marcos Martinez family and the West of the Pecos Cattlewomen will
lead the annual West of the Pecos Rodeo. "We're also working on other things
such as bringing in a helicopter or something like that," said Kathy Hurley,
one of the organizers of the event.
Hurley said that the group had also been talking to the military about
participating. "We'll be on Pecos Talking to discuss plans and update the
community," said Hurley.
Town of Pecos City Police Chief Clay McKinney, a guest at the chamber
meeting, told chamber members that the new Criminal Justice Center was full
and that they had moved all their operations to the new facility. "Everything
is going as planned and running smoothly," said McKinney.
Two other guests at the meeting, Oscar Saenz and Pecos Economic Development
Director Gari Ward updated the group on new ventures in the community.
"The biggest thing happening right now is the new dairy," said Ward.
Ward said that about two years ago he had developed a good rapport with
the owner of the new dairy. "Every now and then we sit down and talk about
what he's doing," said Ward.
Ward said that owner E.E. Norwood was spending a lot of money in the community
and Reeves County.
"This will add to our local economy and he wants to make into a showplace,"
Ward said that what Pecos needed next was a feed mill to support all the
farmers. "The rural roads are being addressed and a dairy nutritionist comes
into Pecos once a month," said Ward.
Ward said that if more dairies moved into the area, it would better the
economy and "put Pecos on the map."
"All the milk from here is going to San Antonio," said Ward.
Debbie Thomas and Alfred Gomez spoke about their recent trip to a Tourism
Development Workshop in San Angelo, which was held on April 9.
"We learned about the different grants available and that we have the
same problems everybody else has," said Thomas.
Thomas said that the main problem seems to be that there are never enough
"We really got a lot out of it," she said.
Gomez told the group that he had learned three things at the workshop
that were very important. "First, I've learned that we have to keep the city
healthy, in order to attract tourism," said Gomez.
"We've got to have something that the tourists will come in and enjoy
and for that we have to keep the city healthy and clean," he said.
"Secondly, we need to build up volunteerism," said Gomez. "We have to
have a good volunteer force."
"And third, they stated we have to have proper protocol," said Gomez.
"We have to all work together," he said. "If we get together and come up
with a good plan, we can bring in more tourism."
Gomez said that they had also talked to them about putting on a good fiesta
during the seminar. "They told us to put on a good fiesta, one that everyone
can enjoy," he said.
There are grants, up to 50 percent that can help us with putting on a
good fiesta, according to Gomez.
"We can accomplish things by working together and I think that's a good
idea," said Interim Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson. "Tourism
is linked to economic development."
Tennis carnival set for Tuesday at PHS courts
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- A USTA Tennis Carnival is scheduled from
6-7 p.m., on Tuesday at the Pecos High School Tennis courts.
Kids of all ages are invited to attend and the carnival is free.
Everyone is welcome to come to the USTA Tennis Carnival and celebrate
on the newly rebuilt tennis courts. There will be lots of games and door
PECOS, Monday, May 20, 2002 -- High Sunday 86. Low this morning 62. Forecast
for tonight: Partly cloudy and breezy with isolated evening thunderstorms.
Lows in the upper 50s. Southeast winds 15 to 25 mph. Tuesday: Partly
cloudy and breezy. Highs near 90. Southeast winds 15 to 25 mph. Tuesday
night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 60s. Wednesday: Partly cloudy.
Highs in the lower 90s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows near 60. Highs
90 to 95.
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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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise