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Friday, January 10, 2003

School board delays action on Zavala consolidation

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members discussed a plan  to close a campus and move students from there to another campus  during their meeting Thursday evening, but took no action until  further information can be gathered.

P-B-T ISD board members opted not to vote on moving sixth grade students to Bessie Haynes Elementary School, DAEP/AEP students to Zavala Elementary and closing the Lamar campus where those students currently are located. However, the board also discusses the possibility of closing both Zavala and Lamar and moving the alternative education classes to an as-yet undetermined site.

Board members were given a plan to close the Lamar campus and move sixth graders into Bessie Haynes Elementary, which is currently the school for all fourth and fifth graders.

The move would save the school district $285,547 and school superintendent Don Love said that no jobs would be trimmed as a result of the consolidation.

"It isn't cutting jobs, that will be done through attrition," said Love. "I think this school district has enough money to go one year and run a deficit."

"Nobody will lose their positions, they will be placed somewhere," added assistant superintendent Gome Olibas. "Through attrition, retirements, people going on to other jobs and such nobody will be out of a job, they'll just be placed at another location."

Olibas said that by the time summer came around, everything would be in place, if the move was approved.

"Do we have any classrooms available at that campus?" asked board member Crissy Martinez.

Bessie Haynes Elementary School Principal Benny Hernandez said that there were currently 10 classrooms available at that campus.

Martinez also asked if the cafeteria would be big enough to hold that many students and Hernandez said that they would "stagger" the students during the lunch hour to avoid overcrowding.

Love said that the Zavala principal Ruben Cervantes, who took over the job at the start of the current school year, would go from being a principal to an assistant at one of the other campuses, if there was an opening. "We'll start a bumping process, the secretary with the most experience would keep that position, the next one would become a clerk or teacher's aide," said Love.

"This will have a rippling effect, but they won't lose their jobs," said Love. "And they would stay at the same salary," he said.

Love said that the district has had some people leave, but that they weren't replaced.

"Some leave because they retire, go to other jobs or a position that's a step up," said Love.

"I know that's not good, but we can do it through attrition," said Olibas. "We have to keep doing this."

"But what do we tell a principal at a school, that now he's not going to be a principal, but maybe an assistant," said board member David Flores.

"I'm not asking to cut a principal's job, but through attrition, there will be another position available for him," said Love. "He'll just be moved down until a position comes open."

Board member Paul Deishler suggested that since the school district wanted to save money, the DAEP/AEP should be moved into another building, not another campus.

"Do they have to have their own campus, or can they just be moved to another building somewhere," asked Deishler.

"We can have academics in the same campus as the regular students, but not the discipline," said AEP Director Jimmy Dutchover.

"We only have one room available at the Pecos High School and that's the room that was currently being used by Odessa College," said Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez.

He said that while the alternative education students could be housed on the same campus, they could not be the same building as the regular students. The program was moved from the Carver Center on East 12th St. to the Lamar campus on the north side of town in the fall of 2000, after Lamar's sixth graders were shifted to the Zavala Middle School campus.

"We're wasting another building, where we could save money there also," said Deishler. "If closing a campus is a savings, then closing another one, and moving the few students at that campus to another building, maybe we can save more."

Dutchover said that that was a good idea, because right now the AEP program only has 29 students. "We don't have the problems and the students that we had 4-5 years ago, we no longer deal with them," said Dutchover. "A lot of our students now at AEP are there for academics and not discipline."

"We no longer have those infractions," said Dutchover.

After discussing the issue and hearing input from various individuals, board members opted to table the item and bring it back to the board. "We want to consider all our options and then bring it back to the board," said board president Billie Sadler.

Cervantes told board members that the main concern for teachers and officials at the Zavala campus was that they advise them of a decision soon. "All the teachers and staff would like to know soon, if the Zavala campus will be closed," he said.

Sadler assured Cervantes that a decision would be made soon and everyone involved would be advised of their decision.

Financial Director Cookie Canon said that if the board did choose to close that campus and move the students that it needed to be a more organized move.

"The last time, it wasn't very organized and created havoc in my office. It just wasn't as organized as it should be," Canon said, referring to the closing of the Pecos Elementary campus, which resulted in the move of all third graders to the Austin Elementary School campus after the 2000-2001 school year.

Pecos man indicted in Big Bend pot seizure

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- A Pecos man was indicted Thursday by a federal  grand jury at the Lucius D. Bunton Federal Courthouse for  the possession with intend to distribute more than  2,000 pounds of marijuana.

Jaime Fuentes Casares, 20, was stopped for speeding last Friday, Jan. 3, by a U.S. Park Ranger near Panther Junction Ranger Station located in the Big Bend National Park.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, after the stop was made, Casares told the Park Ranger he was transporting marijuana.

A search of the vehicle was then made in which 2,845.31 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $2,283,448 was found wrapped in approximately one pound blocks.

Casares was driving a white 1997 Ford pickup truck carrying blue 55-gallon barrels in which marijuana was found in and underneath as well as in the rear seat area and a built in toolbox.

Later that same evening, the United States Border Patrol located a red and white 1996 Ford pick-up in the same area. The pick-up was registered to Lorena Baeza, a known acquaintance of Casares, according to the attorney's office.

The Border Patrol agents found an additional 3,218.7 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $2,574,960.

If Casares is convicted, he could face up to a maximum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a $4 million fine.

United State's Assistant Attorney Gary Tromblay is prosecuting the case.

Council OKs subdivision changes, property sales

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- Town of Pecos City Council members approved changes  to streets and water lines in the central part of town as part of the  city's planned new housing subdivision after hearing from Edgardo  Madrid of Frank X. Spencer and Associates during their first meeting of 2003  on Thursday morning at City Hall.

Madrid updated the council on the changes in the order for Pecos Subdivision Housing Infrastructure improvement on the fiscal year 2001 budget so that they could meet the budget requirements while at the same time complying with state regulation.

Council members decided to place a seal coating over the current streets in that area and to remove a portion of a water line that would be crossing over to the other end of the street.

The council members went on to approve the offers by several local citizens on property located on South Alamo, South Locust, South Oak and East Second.

Councilman Johnny Terrazas made the motion to accept the offer of $2,000 by Rosa Maria Gonzales for the property located at 1602 S. Alamo with councilman Frank Sanchez seconding it.

Sanchez then went on to make a motion to accept the offer of $550 by Martin Ramirez for the property located at 718 S. Locust with Michael Benavides seconding it.

He made the motion to accept the offer of $500 by Emma D. Gabaldon for the property located at 233 S. Oak with Terrazas seconding it.

Terrazas made a motion to accept the offer of $100 by Selestina Q. Rubio for the property located at 1407 E. Second St. Sanchez abstained from the vote.

Also on Thursday, Pecos Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Roy Pena updated the council on the new officers for the fire department.

First Assistant Fire Chief would be Jim Riley, Second Assistant Fire Chief would be Melvin Orona, Secretary/Treasurer would be Javier Contreras, and Safety Officers would be Tommy Orona and Harvey Gonzales.

Fire Representative would be Freddy Contreras, Training Officer would be Aaron Granado, Training Coordinator would be Lynn Foster and Pension Board would be Jack Brookshire.

Pena also informed the council that they need a place to store the fire engine that is sitting outside in the rain.

According to Pena and EMT Jim Cravey they had to place the fire engine outside when the EMT's received their new ambulance.

Benavides suggested that the fire engine be placed at the out at the Rodeo Grounds under the awning.

The minutes of the regular council meeting of December 12 were approved with Sanchez making a motion and Valenzuela seconding it.

Sanchez went on to make a motion for the approval of the accounts payable with Terrazas seconding it.

Author's book provides history of Ojinaga area

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- Mexican nationals who would like to learn more about their heritage  and genealogy can do so by purchasing a newly released book on the area  of the northeastern Chihuahua state across the Rio Grande from the  Big Bend area of Texas.

"This is a book not only about Ojinaga, Mexico, but the surrounding communities, the families and their lives," said Victor Sotelo-Mata, who is the author of the book, entitled, "Ojinaga En Una Loma."

Sotelo-Mata is traveling throughout West Texas and Mexico, promoting his newest book. He wrote another book, "Esta Vieja Mina de San Carlos," in 1992.

"I'm on my way to San Angelo now to promote my latest book," said Sotelo-Mata on Wednesday.

Sotelo-Mata, who was once the mayor of Ojinaga and had previously been Chief Traffic Police, had been working on the book for the past 10 years.

"For a whole year after I retired from being mayor, I stayed at home just to work on the book," he said. "I didn't go anywhere, this was my sole mission."

Sotelo-Mata researched the entire region of Presidio-Ojinaga, where one city lies in the United States and the other in Mexico. "They came together and united and triumphed," said Sotelo-Mata. "They came together in the desert to overcome obstacles and form one community."

Presidio is the second-oldest city in Texas, and Sotelo-Mata said that his book details the Mexican culture, the families that lived in on both sides of the Rio Grande and folklore dating back to the 1500's. "This book has valuable information for those individuals who want to trace their family trees and learn more about their ancestors," he said.

"Nobody has ever written a book like this and it has information since the town started," said Sotelo-Mata.

Sotelo-Mata has been traveling throughout West Texas, and as gone as far east as Houston promoting his latest book. He has also spoken to several major newspapers in Mexico. "This is just a book with a lot of information, it has a lot to offer," he said.

The foundation, the people who lived the epic of Independence and then the revolution. "This book takes you through the prosperous years of the 1920's, through the 1930's and the 1960's," said Sotelo-Mata.

"I investigated really well for the book, so that people can learn more about their ancestors. They can learn more about the individuals who formed their town," he said.

Sotelo-Mata said that the book contains information on individuals who actually knew Pancho Villa, who is sometimes hailed as the Mexican `Robin Hood.'

"They had bands that would play for him and all that is detailed in my book," said Sotelo-Mata, who added that this was his greatest accomplishment. "This is the what I'm most proud of, because I did it for everyone," he said.

The cover features a photo of Ojinaga back when it first began and in the corner, a picture of a man who was beloved in that city a long time ago.

"This was before they had newspapers and radio," said Sotelo-Mata, "And this man knew everything, he would go from house to house and tell everyone what was going on, from births, to weddings, to deaths," he said.

Sotelo-Mata said that everyone cried when the old man passed away, another item that is mentioned in his book.

The book can be purchased locally at La Fiesta Restaurant and Lucky Partners for $25.

Commissioners to award bids for building center

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- Balmorhea Community Center Construction bids will be discussed and action taken during the regular meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court on Monday morning.

Construction of the community center in Balmorhea was approved during meetings last year, and commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m., Monday to award contracts for the work. The public is invited to attend.

Commissioners will also discuss and take action on the withdrawal of Smith, Wilson, Rives and Company as outside independent auditors and the appointment of Elms, Fairs and Company as outside independent auditors under the professional services procurement act-due to emergency situations. Other items relating to construction at the Reeves County Detention Center will also be voted on, including LMD architect request for payments; Frank Spencer and Associates request for payments; Stragetic Equipment request for payment; ACME Electric Co. request for payment; Texas Commercial Fence Co. request for payment; SamCorp request for payment; Carothers Construction request for payment; Howard's Mechanical request for payment; ISI Detention Center request for payment; Xerox Copy Machine lease for RCDC III and change order No. 6 for Carothers Construction, Inc. for RCDC III.

The group will discuss and take action on the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Grant application for FY 2003-2004; bid No. 22-02 RCDC employee uniforms; bid No. 12-02 category-frozen/refrigerated foods; maintenance agreement for the open-line users with IBM and 2003 salary grievance committee; inmate transportation crew mileage payments.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on bond and oath for elected officials and deputies: Jimmy B. Galindo, Reeves County Judge; Norman Hill, commissioner precinct #2; Gilberto M. Rayos, commissioner precinct #4; Pat Tarin, District Clerk; Dianne O. Florez, county clerk; Walter M. Holcome, county court-at-law judge; Linda Clark, county treasurer; Amonario R. Ramon, JP #1; Jim Riley, JP #2; Rosendo Carrasco, JP #3; Lamberto T. Herrera, JP #4; Jerry Matta, constable precinct #2, unexpired term; Yvonne Abila, deputy; Isaac Diaz, reserve deputy sheriff and Trina Diaz Orona, reserve deputy sheriff.

Regular agenda items include: reports from various departments; budget amendments and line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes; minutes from previous meetings and semi-monthly bills.

Year In Review -- Sept. 2002

Pedestrians killed in September accidents

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the ninth in a series of stories of major events in the Pecos area during 2002. Today's story covers the month of September.

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 — Services are pending for a Pecos man who was struck and killed by a vehicle late Saturday evening near the intersection of Interstate 20 and U.S. 285. Hal Pratt, Sr., 61, was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Lamberto Herrera, at 12:10 a.m., after he was struck by a pickup truck traveling southbound on U.S. 285.

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 — Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members unanimously approved maintaining the current  $1.50 tax rate on Thursday, along with a budget calling for a budget of $5,053,093 for the 2002-2003 school year.

The board voted on the tax rate and budget during a special meeting at the P-B-T ISD Technology Center after listening to Superintendent Don Love and business manager Cookie Canon outline the spending designations for the new school year, along with some possible changes for the 2003-2004 school year.

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 — The Reeves County Hospital Board of Directors voted in a special meeting Wednesday evening not to renew an agreement with the hospital's  management contractor Richard Murphy, and to buy it out before the contract expires next year.

The board voted 3-2 against renewing the CRM Management Contract between the hospital and Management Contractor, Richard Murphy during the special 6 p.m. meeting in the hospital's classroom. They then voted to buy out the contract, effective Sept. 15.

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 5, 2002 — A former employee of the Ward County Irrigation District No. 1  in Barstow, who was arrested on theft charges late last year,  received additional probation and restitution charges were added following a  court hearing last Thursday.

Marlene Briceno Roman, 33, was arrested for Motion to Adjudicate and had been held in the Reeves County Jail. Roman was transferred to the Ward County Jail in Monahans and bond was set at $50,000.

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 6, 2002 — After a month of poor quality or unwatchable images, new equipment  has been ordered for the translator station for the area's Fox Network  channel, and will be installed shortly to provide better viewing service to viewers  of KPEJ out of Odessa.

However, at this time neither officials with KMID in Midland nor those with Classic Cable are sure what the problem is that has caused Pecos subscribers to receive poor signals from the Midland-Odessa ABC station over the past month.

PECOS, Monday, Sept. 9, 2002 — Water bills, including one for more than $12,000 at the Reeves  County Golf Course, were the subjects of discussion for  County Commissioners this morning.

The Reeves County Auditor's Office said that the bill the county was disputing, for $12,310, was for one meter only _ a meter that was placed at the driving range.

PECOS, Wed., Sept. 11, 2002 — Pecos area residents, along with local law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and reserve and retired military personnel gathered at the Lucius B. Bunton Federal Courthouse this morning for a commemoration ceremony of the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The ceremony began at 9:15 a.m., as Pecos Downtown Lions Club and Pecos City Council member Michael Benavides welcomed everyone out to the event.

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 12, 2002 — An escaped inmate from the Reeves County Jail was apprehended Wednesday at a residence in Odessa, following six months of freedom.

Steven Perez, who escaped from Reeves County Jail on March 8, when he was on a work detail, was returned to the jail just before 1 p.m. today.

PECOS, Monday, Sept. 16, 2002 — For the second time this month, a homeless Pecos man has been struck and killed by a car while attempting to cross U.S. 285, this time in the downtown area of town.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety report, Abdon Luna Ramirez, 81, was struck by a vehicle while crossing from the north side to the south side of the East Third Street (Business 20).

PECOS, Monday, Sept. 16, 2002 — Big, fat raindrops were a welcome sight to some community members, but the rainfall put a damper on other local residents, who were busy eating, listening to music and buying gift items at the 16th of September Fiestas Saturday night.

The fiestas were held at the Santa Rosa Church grounds on Friday and Saturday, with food booths featuring a wide variety of foods, gifts and games. However, the rain which began about 6 p.m. on Friday, delayed the start of the opening night's events, and the next line of showers, which passed through the area beginning about 8 p.m. on Saturday, made some individuals leave the festivities early and look for cover.

PECOS, Monday, Sept. 16, 2002 — A Pecos teenager is in stable condition awaiting surgery at Odessa Medical Hospital today, after suffering injuries in a one-vehicle rollover south of Pecos Friday afternoon.

Jessica Rodriguez was involved in a one-vehicle rollover on U.S. 285, 15-miles out of Pecos, while returning to town from Alpine on Friday.

PECOS, Wed., Sept. 18, 2002 — Reeves County Hospital District board members voted to offer hospital administrator Richard Vernor a new three-year contract under which he  will be responsible directly to the hospital board, members unanimously  decided on Tuesday..

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 19, 2002 — Late night storms have had Texas-New Mexico Power Company crew members working the hard on the west side of town for the past  12 hours, and caused blackouts for Pecos residents on the south side  of town and in rural sections of Reeves County.

According to Customer Relations Manager, Donald Hunt, a windstorm came in at about 10 p.m. causing a lot of damage on transmitters, distributors and other items.

PECOS, Thurs., Sept. 19, 2002 — Vandals once again were out at the site of the Pecos High School bonfire, which is scheduled for tonight at the old landfill. But unlike the past two years, this time the bonfire pile itself was not set ablaze before  the scheduled time.

The "pranksters" set an old couch on fire about 50 feet from the bonfire at about 2:30 a.m., and fire personnel were out at the scene.

PECOS, Friday, Sept. 20, 2002 — A year after lowering their tax rate due to an increase in  valuations, Reeves County Hospital District board members voted to increase  the district's tax rate for 2003 by almost three cents, due to a drop  in valuations compared with 2001's totals.

PECOS, Mon., Sept. 23, 2002 — A former Pecos auto dealer is awaiting sentencing on a fraud conviction.

Ben Frank Meek Jr., 71, of Pecos, longtime owner of Valley Motor Co. in Pecos and Alpine, pleaded guilty last week in federal court to bank fraud and is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 19.

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 24, 2002 — Pecos police are investigating their third stabbing incident of the year, this one occurring on Sunday night in the 1000 block of Oleander.

According to Pecos Police Department Gang Officer Mondie Granado, a call came in at about 9:52 p.m. in reference to someone lying in the alleyway of Oleander, in an area east of La Tienda Thriftway.

PECOS, Mon., Sept. 30, 2002 — An elderly Pecos man was found severally beaten in his own home early Saturday morning on the east side of town

A call came into the Pecos Police Department at about 1:05 a.m. Saturday about a suspicious person in front of the house where 81-year old, Anastacio Acosta lives, Lt. Kelly Davis said. Acosta's home is located between the Del Rio Bar and a storage area within the same building.

Balmorhea hosts livestock show this weekend

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- Balmorhea will have its annual livestock show this Saturday morning and afternoon, in the ag shop at Balmorhea High School.

The livestock show will begin at 10 a.m. with the showing of the hogs followed by a barbeque at noon. The showing of the lambs and goats will follow the luncheon.

The Balmorhea Livestock Show is held each year in January, the week prior to the Reeves-Loving Livestock Show.


PECOS, Fri., Jan. 10, 2002 -- High Thursday 73. Low this morning 32. Forecast for  tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 30s. Southeast winds 5 to 10  mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s. South winds 5 to 15  mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Sunday: Partly  cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s. Monday: Mostly clear. Lows in the lower  30s. Highs in the mid 60s.


Louise Ellis and Alfonso Lujan

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