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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Late votes give Bonilla narrow win over Cuellar

From Staff and Wire Reports
Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla, who first won election  to Congress 10 years ago in a predominantly Democratic  district, survived his toughest challenge to date, as delayed returns from  San Antonio allowed Bonilla to defeat former Texas Secretary of State  Henry Cuellar on Wednesday and win a new two-year term in office.

Bonilla had grown accustomed to winning re-election by wide margins, but this time, he needed a strong finish in Bexar County on Wednesday to post a come-from-behind victory over Cuellar, a former state legislator from Laredo who served as Secretary of State in 2001.

"This team is used to winning the championship by three touchdowns," Bonilla said late Wednesday in San Antonio. "This time we won by a field goal, and we're glad for the victory."

Bonilla was first elected to Congress in 1992, defeating Democratic incumbent Albert Bustamante, who was indicted for bribery prior to the election and convicted in a trial following his loss to Bonilla.

Since then, Bonilla had won re-electing four times by comfortable margins before running into problems against Cuellar, who received over 80 percent of the vote in his hometown of Laredo. Bonilla's 23rd District stretches from Laredo to the eastern areas of El Paso County, and includes Reeves County, with the largest concentration of Republican voters in the northwestern areas of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio.

Bonilla was in Pecos on Oct. 29, for the opening of the TransPecos Foods plant on Interstate 20, but overall, the Congressman made about half as many trips into the Trans-Pecos region in 2002 than he had during previous elections.

Reeves County voters, who normally vote Democratic, gave Cuellar a 10-point margin of victory in the election, casting 1,363 votes for Cuellar to 1,106 for Bonilla. However, Bonilla still ran ahead of the vote totals for other Republican candidates on Tuesday's election ballot in Reeves County.

The 23rd District election results were delayed because of vote-counting delays in Bexar County, leading to some hand-wringing by Bonilla when Cuellar jumped out to a lead of 20,000-plus votes elsewhere in the sprawling district.

The final vote totals gave Bonilla 77,541 votes, or 52 percent, while Cuellar received 71,014 votes, or 47 percent. One percent of the vote went to Libertarian Jeffrey C. Blunt and Green Party candidate Ed Scharf.

The Associated Press declared Bonilla the winner shortly before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, and Cuellar conceded the election a short time later.

"We put up a great fight! We raised a million dollars and literally walked the 58,000 square miles of this district. We met senior citizens, working parents, children, businessmen and women, teachers and farmers and listened to the issues of this district. I had hoped to work for you in Washington to address these issues. That wish will have to wait for just a while longer," said Cuellar.

"Tonight's close loss does not change your need for a Congressman who represents you. The people of the 23rd Congressional District have sent a clear message to my opponent that he must work harder to represent their needs. This district needs quality education and affordable healthcare. This district needs a strong border and transportation infrastructure plan. I will continue to work for the people of Texas," said Cuellar.

In making his comments, Cuellar thanked the hundreds of volunteers and family members who worked for his election. "I especially thank my wife and children who have had to see me late and watch me leave early to get onto the campaign trail. Special thanks go to my staff team who have worked with me every day of this campaign. Thank you all!" said Cuellar.

Democrats got a lift from the gubernatorial bid by Tony Sanchez, a multimillionaire banker and oilman from Laredo. Turnout in the Laredo area more than doubled compared to 1998, with favorite son Cuellar picking up 84 percent of those votes.

Bonilla captured nearly 75 percent of the vote in Bexar County, but counting of Election Day votes didn't even begin until after noon on Wednesday because of delays in getting the early votes tallied. The last votes in Bexar County weren't counted until 12:15 a.m. Thursday, almost 30 hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"I always worry before every election," said Bonilla, 48, who captured nearly 75 percent of the vote in Bexar County. "I'm always wondering `What if..., what if..., what if...' This time those concerns proved to be more real."

Cuellar, 47, was initially touted as a possible spoiler in the predominantly Hispanic district. But he had some problems with his campaign organization and ran into opposition within his party.

Cuellar said he put up a great fight, walking many miles in the district and raising $1 million.

"The people of the 23rd Congressional District have sent a clear message to my opponent that he must work harder to represent their needs," he said in a statement.

Bonilla, who had been considered a possible successor to outgoing U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm in the Senate, was first elected in 1992. He has had a fund-raising advantage, and was helped by an appearance by Vice President Dick Cheney. He also got some help through last year's redistricting with a boost to the San Antonio constituency whose vote he depends upon.

Hospital board OKs expansion project designs

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thus., Nov. 7, 2002 -- The Reeves County Hospital Board approved the final design  and development phase of the hospital's expansion project during their  regular meeting in October.

According to Reeves County Hospital Administrator, Robert Vernor, the board approved the final design of the expansion project.

"We are now entering into the construction phase," Vernor said. "We should be able to accept bids by the mid part of December."

Vernor said that every thing is going very well with the project.

"We are pretty much on schedule," Vernor said. "We got all the details worked out."

Vernor added that they are writing specifications into the contract so that the contractors will know what they are biding on.

When a bid is reached, Vernor said that the construction of the expansion project would possibly begin in February.

The construction of the expansion project and the outer renovations will probably take twelve months while the whole project on the interior portion take anywhere from 18 months to two years.

The board also approved a proposal for a new electrocardiogram machine.

November tax rebate check for city declines

Staff Writer

PECOS, Thus., Nov. 7, 2002 -- Sales tax rebate checks for November were down again  in Pecos, according to figures released today by State Comptroller  Carole Keeton Rylander's office, while rebates across the Permian  Basin showed no up or down pattern this month.

Pecos' sales tax rebate check for $64,288 was a decline of just over 10 percent from the $71,494 the city received back from the comptroller's office last year, based on it's 1½ cent share of the Texas' 8¼ cent sales tax. It left the city's sales tax receipts for 2002 virtually unchanged from a year ago. Pecos has gotten $706,987 back from Austin for the first 11 months of this year, and had received $705,820 back between January and November of last year.

One sixth of the city's tax rebate check for the month, or $10,714, is designated for use by the Pecos Economic Development Corp.

While the decline might be due in part to the loss of jobs compared with a year ago due to the closing of the Anchor Foods plant, sales tax rebates declined just under 7 percent across Texas overall, and in the Pecos area Alpine, Odessa, Crane, Kermit and Marfa also reported double-digit declines in their sales tax receipts. Andrews and Monahans reported sharp increases in their rebate checks compared with a year ago, and Midland also was up by almost 10 percent. Andrews has shown the biggest increase of any West Texas city in 2002, with tax rebates there surpassing the $1 million mark, which is almost 50 percent higher than a year ago.

Balmorhea also saw its tax rebate check this month go down from a year ago. The city got back $1,340, a 17.63 percent decline, but remains up overall in 2002 by almost 40 percent, having gotten $11,434 back from Rylander's office.

Toyah's November rebate check showed an increase of 150 percent from last year. The city got $755 back this month, and for the year has received $6,532 in sales tax rebates, a 7.33 percent increase.

The Reeves County Hospital District's ½-cent sales tax earned them almost the exact same amount this November as it did a year ago. The hospital got a check for $30,858, down 0.15 percent, while for the year it has received $332,224, which is 11.69 percent higher than last year.

The comptroller's office sent out $252.4 million in tax rebate checks to cities and counties this month, down from $271.2 million a year ago. Houston's $29.5 million check was the single largest in Texas, but was 18.56 percent lower than last year's $36.2 million rebate for November. Dallas got back $18.7 million a 12.93 percent drop from last year's $21.5 million check from Rylander.

Council to provide info on deaf issues at OC-Pecos

PECOS, Thus., Nov. 7, 2002 -- Highland Council for the Deaf of Big Spring will be offering free information to the public on educating them about deaf and hard of hearing issues, differences, culture, communication and law at the Odessa College-Pecos Technical Training Center.

They will also have information on Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Programs (STAP).

Representatives for the council will be in room 104 on Friday, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.


PECOS, Thus., Nov. 7, 2002 -- High Wednesday 71. Low this morning 37. Forecast for tonight:   Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 40s. South winds 5 to 10 mph. Friday:   Partly cloudy and unseasonably warm. Becoming breezy with highs  80 to 85. South winds 5 to 15 mph:  Increasing to 15 to 25 mph by  noon. Friday night:  Partly cloudy. Lows 45 to 50. Saturday:  Partly cloudy  and continued warm. Highs in the mid 80s. Sunday:  Partly cloudy. Lows 45  to 50. Highs 70 to 75. 


Jessie Glenn

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