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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

County's poverty rate among highest in state

From Staff and Wire Reports
Reeves County's poverty rate was the  16th highest among Texas' 254 counties, according to the  latest complete estimates available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau released figures for 1999 on Tuesday, along with median household incomes for all U.S. counties. They indicated that counties along the U.S.-Mexican border and isolated areas across the South and Midwest were among the poorest in the nation in the late 1990s. In Texas, almost all border counties reported over one quarter of their residents lived below the government's poverty line.

The bureau reported Tuesday that more than half the children in two counties lived in poverty in 1999: Starr County, Texas, on the Mexican border between Laredo and McAllen, and East Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana. Texas had six of the 10 counties with the nation's highest overall poverty rates, while South Dakota had two. The other two counties were in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Starr County had 44.9 percent of its residents living below the poverty line in 1999. Zavala County, located between Eagle Pass and San Antonio, had the state's second highest poverty rate, at 39.4 percent, while Presidio County in West Texas was third, with a poverty rate of 36.2 percent.

Brewster County was the only Texas border county with a poverty rate of less than 20 percent. The West Texas county, which includes Big Bend National Park along the Mexican border, had a poverty rate of 18.8 percent. El Paso County, with the largest population of any Texas county on the border, had a poverty rate of 27 percent.

Figures released Tuesday are separate from poverty estimates from the 2000 census already announced this year. Though three years old, bureau officials say the latest figures offer a more comprehensive look at poverty at the county level.

"We do lag behind the country, but during the decade there was greater improvement in Texas," said Dayna Finet, senior research associate for Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Texas' capital. "To say that it's a completely dire situation is not very accurate."

Reeves County's poverty rate for 1999 was put at 28.9 percent by the Census Bureau report, though the figures had a possible plus or minus variance of 6.6 percent. The report estimated that the county had 12,017 residents, of which 3,473 lived below the poverty line. However, the bureau said as many as 4,267 people or as few as 2,697 within the county may actually have been below the poverty line in 1999.

Nationally, 17 percent of children 17 and younger lived in poverty in 1999, down from 19 percent in 1998 and 23 percent in 1993, the earliest year with which data can be compared.

Statewide, the report said 15.1 percent of Texas' residents lived below the poverty line in 1999.

Still, Finet said the government's estimates of poverty were outdated and inaccurate. Many families went from being in poverty to "working poor" status, she said.

The poverty threshold differs by household, depending mainly on the size of the family. For instance, in 1999 the poverty line for a family of four with two children was an income of $16,895 a year.

In Starr County, 50.5 percent of children 17 and younger, or 10,128 children, lived in poverty in 1999. Nearly one-fourth of the county's residents are not U.S. citizens.

The average median income statistics mirrored those of the poverty rate numbers.

Reeves County's average median household income was $22,827 in 1999. Starr County had the state's lowest median income, at $17,059, while Presidio County had the lowest in the Trans-Pecos, at $19,758.

Average median household income for other area counties according to the Census Bureau were: Culberson County, $23,259; Pecos County $26,915; Brewster County $27,164; Ward County $29,241; Winkler County $30,332; and Loving County $31,975.

For all of Texas, the Census Bureau said average median household income for 1999 was $38,092.

East Carroll Parish, La., had the next highest share of children in poverty at 50.1 percent. However, bureau officials said statistical error rates could affect a county's ranking.

Some improvements appeared in the South and rural Appalachia during the 1990s. For instance, Owsley County, Ky. had the highest child poverty rate in 1993 at 65 percent; by 1999, it had fallen to 44.7 percent, the eighth highest rate in the nation.

Part of the improvement can be traced to the region diversifying an economy that had long been based on manufacturing and mining, said Duane DeBruyne, spokesman for the federal Appalachian Regional Commission.

Police seek help solving weekend gun burglary

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- Local law enforcement officials are asking for  the community's help in finding two persons involved in  a house break-in this past weekend in which three  guns were taken by the burglars.

The burglary call came in Sunday, after 2:30 p.m. in which the house located at 1004 S. Oleander St. was burglarized, according to Pecos Police Lt. Kelly Davis

Davis said that a shotgun, a 22-rifle and a pistol were taken from the home.

"There were guns stolen during that incident and we want to take them off the streets," said Davis.

The community is asked for help in locating the two individuals who were seen leaving the residence. The individuals are described as Hispanic males, with shaved heads, wearing black overcoats, slender build and short in stature.

Anyone with information on the burglary is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 445-9898. All information will remain confidential and individuals will be rewarded.

Also seeking help with an unsolved crime is Pecos Housing Authority Director Nellie Gomez, who is asking the community for information on a hit-and-run accident that damaged a fence belonging to the housing project on the east side of town

The accident occurred after midnight, yesterday, at the corner of 11 th and Orange streets, at the PHA's East Side apartment complex.

"We want anyone who has any information about this accident to contact the housing authority or Crime Stoppers," said Gomez.

The driver who ran into the fence probably has a dented car, according to Gomez.

"Whoever was driving the vehicle, it ran into the cinder block and wrought iron fence and created between $500-$1,000 worth of damage," said Gomez.

Gomez reported the incident to the police and Crime Stoppers in an effort to find whoever ran into the property.

A downtown business in the Airlawn section of Pecos was also burglarized over the weekend, with clothing and money reported stolen.

One person has been arrested in connection with the business break-in.

"We were hoping to make another arrest in that incident and the house burglary," said Pecos Police Department Lt. Kelly Davis. The house burglary occurred the following day.

According to Davis, a call came in at 4:58 p.m. Saturday regarding the burglary at City Cleaners, located at Fifth and Oak streets.

Davis said that the burglar gained entry into the cleaners through the rear door and took clothing and cash from the register. A quantity of clothing was recovered from that robbery. One male juvenile was arrested and more arrests are pending, according to Davis.

Santa Rosa hosts All-Saints Festival for children

PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- An All-Saints Festival will be held from 6-9 p.m., today, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church Hall, 600 E. Third Street.

Children will dress up as their favorite Saint and prizes will be awarded for the best "outfit."

Games, snacks, prizes and candy will be a part of the festivities planned for this evening.

Lions Club hosts cycle club rally in town Saturday

PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- The Inaugural West of the Pecos Lion's Club Motorcycle Club Rally will be held beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Reeves County Civic Center.

A Poker Run will be held and door prizes will be awarded.

The public is invited to attend.

For more information contact Mark Zuniga at 445-3457 or Cody West at 445-2497.

Balmorhea ISD set to hold school's first rally

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- Balmorhea students and faculty are very excited this week  in anticipation of the very first District Drug-Free Rally scheduled  for Friday.

"We've been celebrating Red Ribbon Week throughout this week, with different themes for everyday," said Balmorhea ISD Counselor Virginia Caballero.

Caballero said that everyone is very excited about participating in the district's first rally. "Everybody is so excited and I know this is going to be a lot of fun for both the students and the teachers," she said. "It's always a lot of fun."

The District Drug-Free Rally will be held at 3 p.m., Friday in the Balmorhea ISD gymnasium.

Cabellero said that she first heard about a drug-free rally when her own children were attending school in Alpine. "Then when I moved to Pecos, I thought this would be a great idea to have this in Pecos and include the entire district," said Caballero. "And after the first one got started there, we had so much fun and everyone enjoyed it so much we did it every year."

Caballero said that she thought a similar one in Balmorhea would be something positive for the students.

Area and local law enforcement officials have been invited to participate. "We've invited as many local and surrounding area law enforcement officials that we could," said Caballero.

Balmorhea cheerleaders will be on hand as well as the football players, since the drug-free rally will be combined with their pep rally prior to Friday night's home game against Sierra Blanca, according to Caballero.

Early voting still slow locally for general election

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- With two days left for early voting, turnout has been very slow in  Pecos and in Balmorhea compared to mail-out responses, county  election officials said today.

According to Election Clerk Marta Palomino, the mail out response has been better.

"We have mailed out 291 application and we have received back as of today 205," Palomino said.

She also added that with yesterday being the last day to receive applications for mail ballots, they had received 41 applications and would be sending those ballots out today. The deadline for the county clerks office to receive those ballots is by 7 p.m. on Election Day next Tuesday, when polls close.

Palomino also said that as of Tuesday they only had 527 people vote in person and their weekend election sites in Pecos and Balmorhea had recorded only 107 votes.

Out of those sites on Saturday and Sunday, Palomino said that their largest turnout was at Wal-Mart with 70 voters casting ballots last Saturday afternoon.

Balmorhea had seven voters, Bob's Thriftway had 25 voters and La Tienda had five voters.

The low turnout is due in part to the lack of any contested elections in Reeves County this November. However, there are two area races, for the 23rd Congressional District seat and the 74th State Legislative District, as well as statewide races for governor, U.S. Senate and other down ballot positions where Republicans and Democrats are seeking election.

Democrat Henry Cuellar is challenging incumbent Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla, while Republican Pete Nieto is challenging Democratic incumbent Pete P. Gallegos in the race for the State Legislative seat.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Ron Kirk and Republican John Cornyn are seeking the seat currently held by Phil Gramm, while in the race for governor, Republican Rick Perry is seeking a full-four year term after replacing George W. Bush two years ago, whom is being challenged by Democrat Tony Sanchez.

`Christmas' sign-ups start on Thursday

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- It's that time again! Applications will be accepted for the Christmas  for the Kids Program beginning Thursday at the Reeves  County Sheriff's Department.

Christmas for the Kids organizer Sofia Baeza said that the group would begin taking applications starting tomorrow and continue until Nov. 29.

"Individuals will have to meet certain criteria and requirements in order to be a recipient," said Baeza.

Applications can be picked up at the Sheriff's Department office, located behind the Reeves County Courthouse.

"We want to provide the essentials for as many children as possible, this Christmas season," said Christmas for the Kids organizer Sofia Baeza. "We want to help as many families as we can."

The group works hard every year to bring a brighter and happier Christmas to the children in the community by providing the essentials for them. "We enjoy handing out those gifts on Christmas, to children who would otherwise not receive any," said Baeza.

Volunteers already are working on their first fundraiser. A barbecue plate sale will be held Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse Barn. Plates will be $4.50 and will include barbecue and all the trimmings.

A door-to-door drive is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16. "We need volunteers for the drive and appreciate all the help we can get," said Baeza.

"We always need a lot of volunteers and I encourage any group or organization that wants to, to come out and help us raise funds for these kids," she said.

Last year, Christmas for Kids helped out 511 children, with 173 families benefiting from the special project.

"We also helped five families throughout the year that had lost all their belongings due to fires," said Baeza.

The goal in 2001 was to raise $6,000 and the group is intent on raising the same amount this year.

Baeza said that last year they had a lot more families and children on the list than the year before. "The number just keeps growing," she said.

Baeza said that the main goal of the group was to provide the best Christmas ever for the kids in our community.

"Since 1996, when we started this program, our community has always been there for us, I know it will be here again this year," she said.

"We provide the essential items such as shoes, clothes, jackets and we want to help every child that is on our list every year," said Baeza. "We want to make it a `Happy Holiday,' for these less fortunate children in our community."

For more information on the program call the Reeves County Sheriff's Office at 445-4901.


PECOS, Wed., Oct. 30, 2002 -- High Tues. 76. Low this morning 47. Forecast for tonight:  Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Thurs.:  Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain or thunderstorms. Highs 55 to  60. East winds 5 to 15 mph. Thurs. night: Cloudy with a 30 percent chance  of rain or thunderstorms. Lows 45 to 50. Fri.: Mostly cloudy with a 20  percent chance of rain. Highs 55 to 60. Sat.: Cloudy with a slight chance of  rain. Lows 40 to 45. Highs near 55.

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Pecos Enterprise
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