Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
School board delays vote on cuts
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, July 19, 2002 - The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD would run a surplus of just
over $7,300 for the 2002-2003 school year despite a loss of nearly $800,000
in tax revenues, under a budget proposal presented to the board
But before that could even be done, the budget as designed
was called into question when board members opted to table a plan
to eliminate assistant principal positions at Austin Elementary
and Crockett Middle School.
The budget was presented to the board during the workshop
portion of Thursday evening's meeting at the P-B-T Technology Center, and
called for the elimination of the two administrative positions
while allowing for 1½ percent salary increases for district employees.
"We would be $7,306 in the black in expenses and revenues with
the elimination of the two assistant principals," said
P-B-T Superintendent Don Love. However, board members had questions
about whether or not new Austin Elementary principal Cindy Duke
and new Crockett principal Victor Tarin could handle those jobs on their own.
School personnel director Gome Olibas said he had talked to
Tarin, who was Austin Elementary principal this past year. "He said he
could handle it on his own."
Love said he had not talked to Duke about her situation at the
first through third grade campus, but said, "I talked to five of the schools in
our new district (Monahans, Fort Stockton, Kermit,
Midland Greenwood and Presidio), and only one had an elementary
school assistant principal, and all but one had a middle school
Love said Crockett would have about 400 students in seventh
and eighth grades attending classes this year. He said one of the four
other schools with an assistant principal would have more than that
number, but that campus was for students in sixth through eighth grade.
"If we do have an assistant principal, what would be their
main responsibility," asked board member Steve Valenzuela.
"It would be like high school. The assistant principal's No.
1 responsibility would be discipline," Love said.
He added that under the plan drawn up, administrators from
other campuses might have to help out on certain days with
extracurricular activities, such as when both
seventh and eighth grade teams are playing in Pecos along with the middle
school football teams. "We only have one gym (at Crockett), so the others
have to go across town to Zavala," he said "The sixth grade principal may
have to pick up responsibility."
After questioning from board member Crissy Martinez, Love
said, "We might be able to make up one position
if we add one
position, we're looking at adding $50-$55,000 to the budget.
"A lot of school districts have deficit budgets. This one has not
had it in four years. You're in excellent financial shape," Love said.
In response to a question from board member Paul Deishler,
Love said the district could come back at mid-term of the 2002-2003 year
and appoint an assistant principal if the need arose. "It would be easiest
to promote from within, and get a graduate assistant from one of
the colleges too fill in that teaching position," he said.
"I really had hoped to have the principals here," said board
member David Flores. "They're going to schools they haven't been in, and
I really wanted to have some input from them."
Board president Billie Sadler then called for a motion to approve
the elimination of the two positions, but no motion was made by any of
the other six board members, and the motion was tabled.
In the budget portion of the meeting, Love and P-B-T
business manager Cookie Canon presented the board with the preliminary
figures, based on the final valuations totals presented to the district
on Wednesday by the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District.
They showed valuations had dropped within the district from
$478 to $460 million, while state funding based on the total number of
students within the district in also down, due to a drop of 140 students a year ago.
The district already had lost over $2½ million in state funding due
to the sharp increases in mineral valuations with in the school
district prior to the start of the 2001-2002 school year.
That addition money went towards renovations approved for
school campuses during the past year, and the decline in state aid was
already factored into the 2002-2003 budget.
The cost of the 1½ percent raises for P-B-T employees was put
at $152,608, while total revenues for the district this year were projected
at $14,735,740, down from $18,250,402 during the 2001-2002 school year.
"This budget is so tight we haven't worried about first time
(homestead) exemptions before, but we did
here," said Love.
One of the cuts made was in the district's night school program.
Love and Canon told David Flores that the cut was made because
the state mandated that Title I funds used for the high school program be
spread around to other campuses, and the district does not have the extra
money to fund the program.
In-between the vote on administrators and the
budget workshop, the board approved a new district policy for Internet use and
a new dental policy, along with GAP and long-term care insurance
for district employees.
Canon said the current dental insurance provider has failed to
make visits to Pecos to enroll new members in the Conseco plan.
Love said the Custom Care Plan, offered through First Financial
Group, is already used by school districts in Odessa and San Antonio.
It would have a monthly cost of $52.50 per family, compared
with Conseco's $63.86 cost.
The GAP and long-term care plans would be offered through
American Fidelity Assurance Co. and would have rates based on age and
amount of coverage.
The board approved all three unanimously.
The board also approved without objection the District
Electronic, Communications and Data Acceptance Use Policy presented
by Jodi Exum.
She said the current policy was established in 1995, when
Barstow Elementary was connected up to the University of the Permian Basin for
a remote education program. "Now 99.9 percent of every classroom in
the district is networked," she said.
The new policy is based on rules designed by the Texas
Association of School Boards, with only a few minor changes, Exum said.
The policy would be translated into Spanish once approved and
sent out to students for review by parents and to teachers in August.
Use of district computers by the general public would also fall
under the guidelines, but Exum and Love said the screening software
that blocks out certain websites could be removed upon request for
research purposes, when a website contains words that would normally
by blocked out by the filtering software.
Following a brief closed session, the board voted 5-1 with
one abstention to approve appointments and reassignments within the district.
Appointments included Chancy Boles as an English teacher at
Pecos High School; Starla Jeffery as Special Education S/C teacher at
Austin Elementary; Frank Perez as a Spanish teacher/coach at Pecos High
School; and Shirley Tucker as Special Education
Inclusion/homebound Teacher at Pecos Kindergarten.
Perez has one year of teaching experience, while the others will be in their
first teaching assignments.
Reassignments included Evan Bates, from Bessie
Haynes Elementary to Austin Elementary PE teacher/coach; Veronica
Valenzuela from Austin to Bessie Haynes as PE teacher/coach, and
Angelica Valenzuela from District ESL teacher to counselor. Steve
Valenzuela abstained because his wife was among those on the reassignment
list, while Chrissy Martinez cast the lone vote against the appointments
Jurors award $1.5 million
in Barstow crossing death
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, July 19, 2002 - Reeves County jurors awarded the family of a Barstow man killed in
a train collision last year just under $1.5 million in damages on Thursday,
after finding both the man and Union Pacific Railroad equally liable in
the July 10, 2001 incident.
The family of Lucio Florez, Sr. received the award late
Thursday from the 143rd District Court
jury, following a four-day trial before District Court Judge Bob
Parks. According to the jury's response, they decided to award Florez'
wife and six children with $1.485 million, which was divided among the
The Florez family attorney Bill Weinacht filed an amended
petition for wrongful death and survival damages which requested
an undetermined amount of money. Along with the railroad, Union
Pacific employees Ricky Exum and J.B. O'Brien were also named
as defendants in the lawsuit
"The Plaintiffs' seek exemplary damages in an amount to
be determine by the trier of fact," the petition said.
Florez died when his Ford F-150 pickup was struck by a Union
Pacific train headed eastbound from Long Beach, Calif., to Memphis, Tenn.,
at the Brandt Street crossing in Barstow the morning of July 10, 2001.
The accident occurred at a crossing that the railroad, the city of Barstow
and Ward County had been in discussions over closing.
Florez was a member of the Barstow City Council
In the verdict returned, the jury found Union Pacific 50
percent negligent based on several items, including whether or not
the railroad assumed responsibility for closing the Brant Street
crossing, whether or not the railroad had a duty to properly maintain
the crossing and whether or not the crew had given an audible
warning, maintained a proper lookout and exercised reasonable care to
apply the brakes while going through Barstow.
Florez' 50 percent liability was based on whether or not he
had properly stopped at a clearly marked stop line before the
grade crossing, not closer than 15 feet and not further than 50 feet
from the nearest rail.
The jury found no malice in the death of Florez.
Damages awarded by the jury to Florez' widow, Elia Florez,
came to $415,000 for past and future damages, of which she would
be given half, under the 50 percent liability ruling.
Of the six children, the couple's minor child, Cornia, was
awarded $385,000; while Lucio Florez Jr., was awarded $225,000;
Lucius Florez, Ann Monique Florez and April Florez were given
$125,000; and Victoria Florez was awarded $85,000, of which half will
come from Union Pacific.
The Brant Street crossing was one block east of the FM
516 crossing, which has signal lights and is maintained by the
Texas Department of Transportation.
The crossing had already been scheduled for closure under
an agreement between the city and Union Pacific Railroad.
Florez had been one of the aldermen who wanted to have
that crossing closed, but the railroad and the city were at odds over
who would be responsible for the work.
The crossing was closed on July 23, 2001 two weeks
after Florez' death.
Pecosites `make news' at Museum on Thursday
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, July 19, 2002 - Pecosites turned out to watch the news without looking at
their television sets on Thursday afternoon, as KWES-TV
brought their News West 9 team from Midland-Odessa to the West of
the Pecos Museum for their 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. broadcasts.
Every year the news station has an `Under West Texas
Skies' segment, in which the news crew travels to a different city
every Friday during the month of July.
However, with the station celebrating its 10-year
anniversary, the station decided to commemorate its anniversary by going back to
the way their `Under West Texas Skies' segment first started.
"We used to go to a different town everyday for one week," said
Richard Acosta, managing news editor for Ch. 9, which moved to
Midland-Odessa in the 1980s after operating for
about 20 years out of studios closer by, in Monahans.
This year their segment began on Monday with the news crew
in Hobbs, Tuesday they were in Seminole, Wednesday in
Fort Stockton, and today they will be in Alpine.
KWES broadcast their news from the West of the Pecos Rodeo
last year, but had to use two microwave relay vans to beam the signal out
of the Pecos Valley to their studios between Midland and Odessa.
This year, the station used a satellite connection to beam the signal
up 22,000 miles from Pecos and then back down again to their
studios. The same set-up is being used for all broadcasts this week.
According to Acosta, the towns were picked based on their
"We picked the towns based on the areas that have been a part
of our viewing area," Acosta said.
The news crew included Jay Hendricks and Crystal
Crews broadcasting from the courtyard of the museum.
During their five o'clock segment, KWES led a tour through a
portion of the museum and Jessica Chang interviewed Kathy
Montgomery, owner of the West Texas Championship Wrestling and
wrestler Terry Pantera, who will be performing in Pecos on Aug. 3.
During one of their segments Joe Dominguez did a feature on the
Pecos Cantaloupes. And for their six o'clock broadcast Pecos' new head
football coach, Fred Carter, was interviewed, nine local residents participated in
a hot dog eating contest and the winner of the `ugly dog' contests
For their hot dog eating contest, the station decided to go with
nine contestants and nine minutes so it would go along with the theme
of News West 9.
"We have had no problems finding people for the hot dog
eating," Acosta said. "The record is 12
hot dogs in nine minutes held by a man in Seminole."
The winner of the hot dog eating contest in Pecos was Sal
Nichols, eating 10 hot dogs in nine minutes.
However, the turn out for the `ugly dog' contest was more then what
Contestants had varied in number from as few as five to as many as
15, Acosta said. But in Pecos the turn out was 35 `ugly dogs'
contestants, with one of the contestants being a goat.
The winner of the `ugly dog' contest was Howie, an
English bulldog, owned by Ryan McNabb.
Other dogs received ribbons for best bark, best horse dog and
several other categories. Some of those dogs are Fatso, owned by April
Ryan received second runner up and Frankie, owned by Macarthur
Pineda received a ribbon for `Most Cleaver Disguises.'
Three other dogs that received prices but did not pick up
their ribbons were Skittles, Rocket and Tuffy.
The owner one of these three dogs my pick up their ribbons at
the Enterprise office at 324 S. Cedar St.
County's unemployment soars
despite slight increase in jobs
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, July 19, 2002 - The closing of the Anchor Foods onion processing plant in Pecos
by McCain Foods at the start of June had the expected effect on
the unemployment rates for both the city and Reeves County last month,
even though the total number of jobs in the county increased for the month.
According to figures released Thursday by the Texas
Workforce Commission, the total number of jobs in the county increased by six
last month, from 6,258 to 6,364. But the stable job rate was mainly due to
the addition of seasonal labor connected to the start of onion and
cantaloupe harvesting and the end of the school year, and the increase in
workers within the county boosted the local labor force by nearly 900,
causing county unemployment to jump from 9.4 to 19.3 percent.
A total of 1,523 workers were without jobs last month, up from
659 in May and 507 in April. Layoffs began at the Anchor plant in May and
the remainder of the workforce was laid off at the start of June, four
days before McCain Foods announced an agreement to sell the plant to a
new company headed by Security State Bank owner Patrick Kennedy Jr.
The company, Trans Pecos Foods, has yet to restart operations at
the plant, which last year employed 700 workers, representing 10 percent
of the county's workforce and 13 percent of the city's labor force.
The influx of farm workers lifted the total number of people in
the workforce within Reeves County from 7,017 in May to 7,887 in June.
In March, when local unemployment was at its low for the year, at
7.2 percent, there were 6,415 people in the local labor force and 459
The jobless numbers for the Town of Pecos City are even higher.
The city, which saw its unemployment rate jump from 8.2 percent to March to
8.5 percent in April and 10.7 percent in May, increased 10 percent in June,
to 21.7 percent.
Anchor employed workers who also lived in several nearby
counties, and those also saw jumps in their jobless rates, though not as high
and due mainly to the influx of seasonal workers and the end of the
Ward County added nearly 80 jobs to its workforce last month, but
saw unemployment climb from 6.7 to 9.0 percent. Winkler
County's unemployment rate went from 9.2 to 12.6 percent, despite an increase
of 32 jobs within the county during June, and Pecos County added 66 jobs
last month, but still saw its jobless rate increase from 5.0 to 7.3 percent.
Jobless rates across the Permian Basin increased from 5.5 to
7.2 percent, with an additional 3,500 people on the unemployment
rolls, while the Midland-Odessa area saw unemployment rise from 5.3 to
Statewide, the TWC said unemployment grew from 5.9 to
6.8 percent, but when adjusted for the seasonal hiring, decreased by
one-tenth of a percent.
Economists generally don't dispute the commission's
methods, but they said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate could mask
the difficulty facing job hunters.
"Let's keep in mind there were a lot of layoffs announced earlier
this year, and a lot of them are just taking effect now," said Bernard
Weinstein, an economist at the University of North Texas. "You have a lot
more people out of work."
Ray Perryman, an economist and business consultant in Waco,
said there are signs of improvement for the Texas economy, such as new
orders for computer chips, "but we're not going to see substantial job
growth until technology and telecom start to come around, which is still a
few months away."
Unemployment in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has surged from under
3 percent in early 2001 to about 7 percent as large technology
and telecommunications companies have laid off thousands of workers.
The Workforce Commission, meanwhile, was left to explain how
it could claim that seasonally adjusted unemployment fell in June while -
by its own count - the ranks of the unemployed grew by more
Robert Crawley, a commission economist, said many of the
newly unemployed are students and school employees looking for summer
work, not people hunting for a permanent job.
In effect, summer job-seekers are subtracted before calculating
the seasonally adjusted rate.
Excluding their impact on the job market, unemployment fell from
6.2 percent in May to 5.8 percent.
"Historically, there has always been more demand for summer
jobs than there are jobs. This pushes the unemployment rate upward,"
Crawley said. "It doesn't indicate that the economy has deteriorated in
Steven Schwiff, a Texas A&M University economist, said
seasonally adjusted figures are most useful to economists, not average
workers, and are less reliable during turbulent times in the economy.
The adjusted rate "is an attempt to better understand the
core movement in unemployment," Schwiff said. "But unless you
have some reason to know what the trend is, then let the data tell its
story without making any seasonal adjustments."
Technology grant for library
on agenda for commissioners
Reeves County Commissioners will discuss the final grant application
for telecommunications infrastructure at the Reeves County Library during
their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, at 9:30 a.m. in the third floor
courtroom at Reeves County Courthouse.
Commissioners will also discuss/take action on payments of two
invoices for work down at the Reeves County Detention Center III expansion
project, and discuss a resolution on early voting poll locations and appointments
to the county's Salary Grievance Committee during the meeting.
Other items on the agenda include discussion and possible action on
bids for two pieces of property, at 1019 S. Oak St. and 910 E. Third St. and
possible action following a closed session on the acquisition of an
undisclosed property by the county.
Commissioners will also discuss and consider action on an
agreement between the county and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas and
Concentra Preferred Systems for Health Claim Audit Services; hear reports from
various departments; discuss/take action on budget amendments and
line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes and semi-monthly bills.
Rotary Club seeks
Teams for annual
PECOS, July 19, 2002 - The Pecos Rotary Club will be hosting its
10th Annual Wild West Golf Tournament on July
28-29 at the Reeves County Golf Course.
The format of the tournament will be and adult-youth scramble with
an entry fee of $90 per team. The fee includes green fees, cart and
lunch for both days. For more information contact Ken Winkles at 447-2100
You can also sign up at the Pro Shop at the Reeves County
PECOS, July 19, 2002 - High Thursday 94. Low this morning 75. Forecast for
tonight: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or
thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 70s. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday:
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs
95 to 100. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with
a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows in the lower
70s. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers
or thunderstorms. Highs 95 to 100. Monday: Partly cloudy with a
slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows 70 to 75. Highs 95 to 100.
Obituaries Timmerman and Pate
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