Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, July 22, 2002
Final local valuation figures mainly lower
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- Final valuation totals have been returned
to local governing boards by the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District,
and they show most valuations lower for 2002 due to declines in oil and
gas values during the past year.
The valuations are used by local taxing entities to set both their budgets
and their tax rates for the upcoming 2003 Fiscal Year, and while the 2002
valuations are down from 2001's totals, overall they remain sharply higher
from the same point two years ago.
Valuations for 2002 were already headed down for all taxing entities
except for the Town of Pecos City and Balmorhea ISD prior to the Reeves
County Appraisal Review Board hearings two weeks ago. Following the reviews
and the decisions on appeals made by the board, final numbers were approved
by the Reeves County Tax Appraisal District board last Wednesday and sent
out to the various districts.
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD suffered the largest drop, with its net taxable
values from both property and mineral falling by $48.3 million, to $460.2
million. However, that's still $92 million higher than valuations were
two years ago, when the increase in oil and natural gas prices caused valuations
to climb sharply.
Of the $48.3 million loss, $43.2 million came from declines in mineral
valuations, and $5.1 million from property valuation declines.
Reeves County and the Reeves County Hospital District, which share the
same boundaries, both saw their mineral valuations fall by $31.3 million.
Property values in the county were up $4.2 million, leaving it with a $27.1
million loss, while the hospital district's valuations for real estate
fell $3.9 million, leaving it with a $35.2 million total loss.
As with the school district, both the county and hospital district are
still up by over $90 million compared with valuations returned in 2000.
The Town of Pecos City, which has little land with any taxable oil and
gas values within its borders, only saw their valuations for minerals fall
$512,580, while property values jumped more than $4.8 million, leaving
the city with a net $4.3 million gain.
Total real estate and mineral valuations for the city this year are
just over $118 million, according to the figures compiled by Chief Appraiser
Carol King Markham.
Last year, Pecos' total valuations were down by more than $2.6 million,
due mainly to a renewed tax abatment the city gave Anchor Foods for its
Pecos plant. One month after last year's valuations were turned in, Anchor
sold its plant to McCain Foods, which then announced it would close the
plant this year.
McCain ceased operations on May 31, but sold the plant on June 5 to
the newly-created Trans-Pecos Foods, which is looking towards resuming
operations later this year.
Balmorhea ISD was the only taxing entity whose figures went against
the trend. Its mineral valuations in southern Reeves County were up $1.26
million, while property valuations fell $106,630, leaving the school with
a $1.16 million gain, to $25.5 million. Last year, Balmorhea ISD's valuations
were up by about $6 million.
The City of Balmorhea saw its valuations drop $78,140, to $3.37 million,
after a $47,110 decline a year ago. Toyah's valuations fell $90,700, to
$1.59 million. Of those overall totals, Balmorhea received $540,740 were
from mineral valuations, while over 50 percent of Toyah's valuations, $892,490,
were from mineral valuations.
The Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2 saw its valuations
drop by $3.7 million, all due to mineral valuation declines. The district
had a net gain of $7,240 in property values, and total valuations were
put at $9.75 million by the appraisal board.
Local firemen start training session at A&M
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- Eight volunteer firefighters from Pecos
are meeting with other firefighters from around the world in College Station
this week attending a Municipal Fire Training School at the Brayton Fire
According to Pecos Volunteer Fire Chief Roy Pena, 2nd Assistant Fire
Chief, Arturo Granado and the department's Firemen Representative, Harvey
Gonzales, are training as Firefighter, Level Four. Gus Ybarra is training
as Firefighter Three while Freddy Contreras, Noel Ybarra, Gilly Gabaldon,
Roque Matta and Aaron Granado are training as Level Two Firefighter.
The group of firefighters began their training this morning after picking
up their course packages Sunday.
"They will double work them today, so they can be released by noon on
Friday," Pena said.
The firefighters cost was paid from money in the department's traveling
and training budget, however it only covered some of the costs for Granado
"I send those who are next in line to go," Pena said. "Nobody in the
history of Pecos has attended firefighter three and four."
Though Granado and Gonzales were not due to go, the two firefighters
received donations from local merchants in order to attend, Pena said.
The two are in advanced training, where they will then bring back the
experience of being there, Pena said.
According to Pena, Texas A&M holds two training sessions, one in
the spring during the month of April and the second one is in the summer
"Everyone must attend between a year or a year and a half," Pena said.
"We make sure the majority are staying before we waste the tax payers money
in sending them to training school."
Pena said that Granado and Gonzales' costs for attending the training
school would be covered next year under their budget.
He said that by Friday the firefighters will have receive anywhere from
30 to 40 hours which will then go toward their Basic Fire Fighters Certification
with the State Fireman's and Fire Marshal's Association of Texas.
However, once they have completed their 100 plus in basic hours, the
firefighters can then challenge the basic exam for their certification
as Accredited Basic Fire Fighters.
Pena said that on Saturday, August 3, the department would be holding
their "Fill the Boot Drive" in conjunction with Wal-Mart. The money raised
would be donated to the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular
Commissioners study new early voting locations
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- Reeves County Commissioners discussed
establishing more early voting sites during their regular meeting this
morning at Reeves County Courthouse.
According to Dianne Florez, County Clerk, there are only two early voting
locations, which are the Courthouse and in Balmorhea. In several recent
elections there was a designated area at La Tienda for early voting on
By increasing the locations, County Judge Jimmy Galindo, hopes that
will help in make voting more convenient.
The locations in which the commissioners court is looking at are, La
Tienda and Wal-Mart for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Pecos High School,
Bessie Hayes and Balmorhea High School for a couple of days giving voters
an opportunity to vote at a more convenient location.
"Wal-Mart and La Tienda are places where people go on a regular basis,"
By establishing the two locations at the high schools, Galindo hopes
to get younger voters to participate.
According to Florez there are seven thousand registered voters but only
about 3,750 of those voters actually vote.
"There is a lot of registered voters that do not vote," Galindo said.
Commissioners Court agreed in increasing the locations from two to seven
for the November 2002 elections.
Council to study designating city historical section
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- The Town of Pecos City Council is scheduled
to discuss approving an ordinance that would designate several areas in
town as historical areas during the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
in Council Chambers.
The meeting, which is normally scheduled on Thursdays, was moved to
Tuesday in order to allow several of the council to attend an Association
of Mayors, Council members and Commissioners Conference in El Paso.
During the meeting the council will discuss designating approximately
18 blocks in downtown Pecos. The area would run north and south from Seventh
to First streets and east and west between Ash and Elm streets.
The council will also discuss appointing an officer to calculate the
effective and rollback tax rates for 2002 as well as consider the development
of the South Worsham Well Field status for the Part B water wells.
Also on the agenda is the monthly tax collection report and the municipal
court report, both for June as well as the accounts payable and the minutes
of the regular meeting.
Violent history in border areas mostly unknown
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a continuing series of features
on historical locations in Pecos region
By The Ghost Writer
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- West Texas has had its share of "characters"
as our own Clay Allison (1840-1887), as Barney Hubbs said, "He never killed
a man that did not need killing." Judge Roy Bean "Law West of the Pecos"
and a man seldom talked about, Ben Leaton. The story of Ben Leaton is more
interesting than the other two.
When the Mexican war broke out in 1846, Mr. Leaton was in New Mexico
with a wagon load of trade goods bound for Chihuahua. He and other wagoneers
followed Colonel Alexander Doniphan to El Paso and on to Chihuahua to deliver
their C.O.D. goods. While in Chihuahua, he married the rich Nona Juana
Pedraze, who had relatives in Presidio del Norte (Ojinaga).
Leaton was well known in the area as a scalp hunter, supplier of arms
and ammunition to the Indians, a freighter and trader. He had planned to
settle near an abandoned fort on the Rio Grande and his marriage to a rich
woman made this come true. They would build the first private fort in the
area looking toward the cave where the Devil was imprisoned, according
to the story told in Elton Miles' book, Tales of the Big Bend.
This was the first private fort in the area followed by Fort Cibilo built
in 1849 by a rancher, Milton Faver.
Ben Leaton felt that his fort, being on the Chihuahua Trail, would give
him the opportunity to buy mules and horses from the Indians who stole
them from Mexico and sell them to freighters and traders. It was said that
he would buy slaves if he knew that he could collect ransom and he could
supply his harem. The Indians needed arms and ammunition as the Chihuahua
Governor; Angel Trias, was paying a bounty on Indian scalps. The Indians
needed the arms in Texas but not in Mexico as the Mexican citizens were
not permitted to own arms so bows and arrows were all the Indians needed.
Several border towns in Mexico had agreements with the Indians that
they could stay in or near the towns if the Indians would not rob or kill
their citizens and Leaton wanted the same type agreement. He sent word
to the Indians that he would have a big party with tortillas, roasted deer
and beer. Comanches, Apaches and Kiowas rode in to the fort with their
women and a fest was enjoyed. The next morning, when Leaton looked at his
stock pens, the Indians had taken all of his horses and mules.
To show that he was not angry, Leaton invited then back for another
feast but this time he had hidden a cannon in the meeting room and when
they were seated and enjoying the meal and beer, Leaton revealed the canon
and killed most of them and the ones that lived were killed with knives.
This was a variation of the so-called Santa Rita Massacre that Leaton attended.
Miles' book goes on to tell the many versions of Leaton's death and
what his son did to avenge his father's killing but would be too long for
My "Mature Advisors" were talking about lack of censorship of movies
with one thinking a man and woman in bed should have one foot on the floor.
Another thought that a man and woman should not be shown in the same bed.
He even has his and hers humming bird feeders.
Barstow to shut off water to residents Tuesday morning
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- Water will be turned off in Barstow from
9 a.m. until noon, on Tuesday for replacement of a valve, city officials
Residents in Barstow are asked to be patient and their cooperation is
In Friday's edition of the Pecos Enterprise it was reported that the
Lucio Florez, Sr., family vs. Union Pacific trial was tried by Judge Bob
Parks. However, visiting Judge Joseph Connally was actually the trial judge.
PECOS, Monday, July 22, 2002 -- High Sunday 96. Low this morning 69. Forecast
for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph.
Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Highs 95 to 100. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Tuesday
night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 70. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Highs 95
to 100. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. Highs near 100.
Antonio Rayos and Wayne Timmerman
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
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise