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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

`Straightaway' making rounds with message

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 14, 2003 -- A group of nine teens and young adults from the Houston area  were in Pecos this morning, putting on a drug awareness performance  for students at the Pecos High School auditorium.

"Straightaway" was performing for the second year in a row at the high school, and the stop in Pecos was one of three the group had scheduled for today, said Rebekah Kischka, one of the group's members.

"We'll be in Fort Davis and Marfa today, and tomorrow we'll be in Lenorah (Grady), Crane and Garden City, so we've got a lot of driving to do," she said. The group will criss-cross the Permian Basin this week, performing in Midland on Thursday and then going all the way down to Terlingua on Friday.

Kischka's brother Luke introduced the group to the students at the auditorium. His sister said they range in age from 15 to 26 years old and come from families who have been affected by drugs in the past.

"We do some dance, we do some rap and we do some motivational speaking," she said, adding that the nine in Pecos are one of two groups from the Straightaway program touring Texas. "The other is in Dallas right now, and between the two teams we'll see 700,000 students this year."

Paul Killingsworth, who handles the sound system for the group, said the performances are before groups of from 100 or so to 2000 students, depending on the location, and that the total number of people who see the show is over 700,000, when non-school groups from churches or youth organizations are added.

"We do about 60 shows a month, and with the two teams, that's about 120 shows, but somehow it all works out," he said. "We try to get home as much as possible, but sometimes that doesn't work out. We're probably on the road three weeks at a time for one week at home right now."

Today's show was sponsored by Pat Cobos and Eva Arriola and the Pecos High School guidance and counseling department.

State's shortfall no big problem for city, county

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 14, 2003 -- Local entities don't expect their budget to change a lot due to  the state's looming cutbacks, but are still awaiting the response as  the Legislature begins its 2003 session facing a deficit of almost $10 billion.

"We do receive funding from the state in the area of grants, but not any directly," said Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens.

Owens said that the county budget wouldn't change because of the cutbacks being made by the state, because the county does not receive any direct funding from the state.

"We receive grant funds and that is generally done through federal funds," said Owens.

Owens said that the only department that might be affected would be the Reeves County Juvenile Probation. "They receive grant funds on a fiscal year that began in August, so they won't be affected this year, but they might cut them some in August," said Owens.

"That's the only state funding that we receive through grants, but they are done federally," he said.

Town of Pecos City Manager Carlos Yerena said that the state fund cutting would not really affect the city or the Main Street Program the group is currently working on.

"The Main Street Program is self-initiated, we've been getting technical advice, but no funding from the state," said Yerena.

Yerena said that they have been working on getting the board together and getting everything in place first.

"We want to have everything in place before we actively pursue the funding, but we do have a technical agreement with the state," said Yerena.

"I'm not aware of any state funding that we will lose, but that could change," said Yerena. "With the legislature in session, them meeting today, that could change, but we don't know yet."

The largest amount of state funding locally goes to the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, based on both property valuations and attendance figures. However, P-B-T Superintendent Don Love was out of town today and unavailable to comment on how the current budget situation might affect school funding.

However, state education officials already are lobbying to avoid any cuts to education programs.

"The large deficit is certainly going to be a challenge, but it should not be a reason for the Legislature to ignore the funding problems facing Texas' public education system," said Doug Rogers, executive director of the 100,000-member Association of Texas Professional Educators.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn told lawmakers on Monday the current $114 billion will be short $1.8 billion because of higher than expected Medicaid and other social services costs, but the state faces an additional $8.1 billion shortfall in keeping services and programs the way they are now.

Republicans, who will rule both chambers for the first time since Reconstruction, have vowed there will be no new taxes.

Gov. Rick Perry, gearing up for his second session as governor, said Texas will be able to function with the $114.2 billion expected to be available for the next budget because lawmakers will set priorities.

Year In Review -- November 2002

Area's turnout moderate for elections in November

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 11th in a series of stories on events that occurred in the Pecos area during 2002. Today's story covers the month of November.

PECOS, Friday, Nov 1, 2002 — Sports fans in Pecos didn't have any problem watching Game 7 of the World Series last Sunday on Fox.

But those wanting to watch Emmitt Smith break the all-time NFL rushing record in the Dallas Cowboys' game against the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the day were out of luck, as local viewers instead were shown the Atlanta Falcons-New Orleans Saints game. And Cowboy fans may not have any more luck in watching their team play this Sunday afternoon.

That's because of new problems with the translator station for Midland-Odessa's KPEJ, which forced Classic Cable to switch back to the FoxNet satellite signal at the start of the World Series two weeks ago.

PECOS, Mon., Oct. 4, 2002 — With the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association under a new set of rules that will affect which rodeos the nation's top riders decide to attend, the question remains on whether it will have a huge effect on the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

According to an article in Sunday's edition of the Odessa America, the changes will affect the number of rodeos that would count for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, cutting the number by 50 percent in some cases.

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 6, 2002 — After a slow start, turnout was moderate for Tuesday's general election, and Reeves County voters were greeted with no surprises,  since all the local races were uncontested after voters made their  decisions during the spring Democratic primary elections.

However, county voters found themselves going against the trend in the statewide election races, as Republicans swept all state positions while Democrats took the majority of votes in Reeves County in those same races.

A total of 2,580 people cast ballots on Tuesday and in early voting for the general election, one third of the 7,601 voters registered in Reeves County. That's down about 30 percent from the March Democratic primary, when just over 3,400 ballots were cast.

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 6, 2002 — Incumbent State representative Pete Gallego easily won the majority of votes in Reeves and Ward counties on Tuesday, and  cruised to a seventh term in office as well throughout the  74th State Representative District.

Gallego, an Alpine Democrat, defeated Republican challenger Pete Nieto of Uvalde, picking up 71 percent of all votes cast in the 74th District race.

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.

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 11, 2002 _ Pecos police are investigating an armed robbery that occurred early this morning at the Allsup's Convenience Store on South Eddy Street, one of two armed robberies reported at convenience stores in West Texas last night.

A third armed robbery also was reported in Fort Stockton, but Pecos County Sheriff's Department officials said that incident later turned out to be a hoax.

According to Pecos Police Lt. Kelly Davis, they received a call at 12:44 a.m. in reference to a robbery at the Allsup's Convenience Store in the 2200 block of South Eddy Street.

Davis said that a male suspect came into the store and had displayed a gun to clerk Eduardo Fuentes, the only employee in the story at the time.

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 13, 2002 — A hearing scheduled this morning for the man accused of firebombing the Monahans Police Station in early June was canceled, according to the  United States District Clerk's Office in Pecos.

According to Kevin Fry of the District Clerk's office, the government filed a motion for a continuance of the case against Travis James Harris, who had been scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson in Pecos federal court this morning. No new date had been set as of yet for the hearing.

PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 14, 2002 — Town of Pecos City Council members voted 3-1 this morning to renew the contract of City Manager Carlos Yerena, following an  executive session evaluation that was part of the council's regularly  scheduled meeting.

With Councilwomen Angelica Valenzuela unable to attend the meeting after having her baby, Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez and councilmen Johnny Terrazas and Michael Benavides voted in favor of renewing Yerena's contract, while councilman Frank Sanchez opposed the approval.

PECOS, Fri., Nov. 15, 2002 — About 45 para-professionals currently employed by the  Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will need to complete some college  requirements within the next 3½ years if they  want to hang on to their jobs, school board members were told during  Thursday's monthly meeting.

Board members approved a program that will help at least two employees in connection with the new requirements, which are part of a federal law that took effect earlier this year.

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 19, 2002 — Reeves County Commissioners made a few adjustments in staffing for one department, and then adopted the county's budget for  2003 and set the tax rate for the upcoming year Monday evening, during  the budget hearing held at the Reeves County courthouse.

Commissioners approved a budget of $5.7 million for 2003, down from the estimated $5.9 million budget for the 2002 fiscal year. At the same time, the commissioners voted

PECOS, Fri., Nov. 22, 2002 — Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Athletic Director Bubba Williams will be moving from the baseball field to the football field in 2003, after taking  over the position of head football coach for the Pecos Eagles on Thursday.

Williams replaces Fred Carter, who resigned after one season as head coach for Pecos. In accepting the head football position, Williams is stepping down as head baseball coach for the Eagles, a position he held for 21 seasons.

PECOS, Mon., Nov. 25, 2002 — Providing the appropriate medical care to inmates is harder and should be handled differently than regular county physician services, which  is why an outside provider was acquired for services at the  Reeves County Detention Center, Reeves County Commissioners were told  this morning.

RCDC Warden Rudy Franco and Assistant Warden Tommy Duncan were on hand at the regular Commissioners Court to talk about the services currently being provided by PNA to the prison's 2,000 inmates, housed under a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 26, 2002 — The local Baptist churches of Pecos are asking that two of their  Ten Commandments be returned after their signs were painted over.

According to Ken Winkles, a member of the North Temple Baptist Church, the two missing commandments they're concerned with are the ones on either side of a billboard located off of U.S. 285 heading towards Fort Stockton.

The churches erected billboards along five of the highway entrances to Pecos, each with two of the Ten Commandments on either side.

The signs on the south side of Pecos, which read `Thou shall not bare false witness among thy neighbor,' and `Thou shall not covet anything that is thy neighbors,' were located on the property of Hector Garcia's business, which is located on the southwest side of the U.S. 285 intersection with Interstate 20. The signs now contain the words `Hector's Tire and Wrecker'.

PECOS, Tues., Nov. 26, 2002 — Reeves County Commissioners approved a contract to proceed with construction plans of the Balmorhea Community Center, during  their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday at the Reeves  County Courthouse.

Commissioners approved a professional services contract by Anderson Building and Development Group, Inc. for the Balmorhea Community Center and authorization to bid construction.

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 27, 2002 — Reeves County Commissioners took steps towards reviving what was the county's largest single employer until earlier this year, granting the maximum tax abatement for a 10-year period to TransPecos Foods  during their regular meeting held Monday.

PECOS, Fri., Nov. 29, 2002 — Local businesses were thriving today on what is called the "busiest shopping day" of the year.

"We have been busy all morning," said Wal-Mart manager Olga Guebara.

Guebara said that the store was sponsoring a big sale on the day after Thanksgiving and that the store had been full all morning. "We opened at 6 a.m. and already there were customers waiting," she said.

Unemployment benefit extension will have big effect

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 14, 2003 -- The Texas Workforce Commission announced Friday  that they would extend the Temporary Extended  Unemployment Compensation program (TEUC), a move that could affect  several hundred people in the Pecos area.

The extension was signed into law January 8, by President George W. Bush. Prior to that, those without jobs for an extended period faced the end of their unemployment benefits, an action that would have affected the Pecos area severely. Unemployment locally has hovered around the 20 percent level since the start of summer following the closing of the Anchor Foods plant in Pecos, which had been the city and county's largest single employer.

The extension is part of the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002, which temporarily provided up to 13 additional weeks of benefits for eligible, unemployed Texans who exhausted their regular Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Manager for Pecos, Eva Arreguy, said that the extension would affect them as well.

"It will affect all of us, due to the number of unemployed individuals in this area," Arreguy said

Anchor's plant has reopened under the TransPecos Food management, but with about 70 percent fewer workers than the 700 Anchor had employed in 2001. Arreguy said that they are working with some of the people who worked at Anchor and placing them in training.

She added that those people had come in to ask about their exhausting claims due to the fact that they had received their last check in December.

She said that they would then refer them to the Tele-Center where according to Arreguy they have filed the individual's claim online.

The Tele-Center would then determine the individual's eligibility, Arreguy said.

The latest extension allows individuals who established a valid TEUC claim and had a balance remaining when the previous program ended on December 28, 2002, to draw the remainder of those benefits.

The extension would also allow Texas to continue to establish TEUC claims until May 31, 2003, for individuals who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

The press release stated that any individual who exhausted their TEUC benefits prior to December 28, 2002, are not entitled to additional benefits under this extension.

While regular unemployment benefits are funded by employer taxes, the TEUC benefits are entirely federally funded and employers will not be charged for any claims paid out through this extension.

TWC's unemployment Support and Customer Service Department will be mailing letters to all potentially eligible claimants within the next two to three weeks to tell them how to apply, the press release stated.

The press release went on to say that since most claimants filed their claim certifications through December 28, 2002, individuals calling to apply for the additional TEUC benefits should call their Tele-Serv on their designated day or open filing day.

Claimants who need to update their address information can contact their local unemployment Tele-Center.

Commissioners OK payments for RCDC items

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 14, 2003 -- Reeves County Commissioners approved payments to the  several contractors currently working at the site of the Reeves County  Detention Center III during the group's first regular meeting of 2003 on  Monday on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners approved LMD Architect's request for payment invoice No. 270 in the amount of $41,353; LMD Architect's request for payment invoice No. 271 in the amount of $266.67, a reimbursement for services that total $30,000, but were broken up in monthly installments; Frank Spencer and Associates request for payment invoice No. 2001069.ADD, $3,507; Strategic Equipment, $74,631; ACME Electric Co., in the amount of $252,225; Texas Commercial Fence Co., payment in the amount of $38,985; SamCorp General Contractors, $528,577; Carother's Construction Co., $63,494; Howard's Mechanical, $316,488 and ISI Detention Contracting, $84,031.

The group also approved a lease agreement for a Xerox Copy Machine for the RCDC III in the amount of $201 per month.

A bid for employee uniforms for the Reeves County Detention Center was discussed in length after employees at the center had requested that the contract be awarded to the highest bidder.

"We received two bids, one from Unitec and one from Unifirst," said county auditor Lynn Owens.

Owens said that personnel at the RCDC had requested that the bid be awarded to Unifirst, who was the highest bidder.

Warren Michaelsen with Unitec was on hand to make a presentation to the court and explain the different options his company provided.

"If there is a decision to use unspecified garments, it will mean a savings of 17 percent to the county," said Michaelsen.

Michaelsen that there was only a limited amount of fabrics and materials that are used in this business.

After a lengthy discussion, the group agreed to award the bid to the lowest bidder, which was Unitec.

Personnel from the RCDC were on hand to discuss why they wanted the county to choose the highest bidder, citing difficulties in receiving the merchandise in a timely fashion and the quality of the material being used.

"With as much turnover and new employees that we have coming in, we need to have a good supply of uniforms," said RCDC Training Director Alfredo Paz.

He said that some uniforms had been ordered in November and the order finally filled completely in January. "That's almost two and a half months," said Paz.

Paz said that the company usually has at least a month to deliver the uniforms, but that more time would cause problems at the facility.

Michaelsen assured the group that the same problem would not occur this time and that he would make Reeves County one of his main priorities.

Personnel and salary changes included at the Reeves County Library, a part-time employee Jacob Sanchez; at the Reeves County Juvenile Probation Office, part-time, Kimberly Sue Clark and David Hernandez; at the Reeves County Detention Center, Ernest Garcia, as maintenance officer III at $26,000 per year; Jennifer Fuentes, was promoted to CO-II at $24,000; new hires at the RCDC at Correctional Officers I at $19,000 per year were: Gabriel Gonzales, Robert Heidecker, Fernando Hernandez, Noel Marquez, Oscar Mendoza, Francisco Ramos, Daniel Saenz, David Saenz, Frank Talamantez, Raul Tarin and Rocheya Thomas. Evarista Mora was promoted to personnel officer III at $26,000 per year; Randall Wilson to CO-II at $24,000 and John Davis, CO-II at $24,000.

GED registration set for next week in office

PECOS, Tues., Jan. 14, 2003 -- GED Testing has been scheduled for 4:45 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28 and Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Pecos High School.

Registration will be held from 1-5 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 21 and Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Pecos High School Counselor's Office.

Examinees must present a Texas driver's license or Texas Department of Public Safety ID Card.

For more information call Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola, Pecos High School Counselors at 447-7229.


PECOS, Tues., Jan. 14, 2003 -- High Monday 62. Low this morning 34. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 30s. South winds 5 to 10  mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs near 70. South winds 5 to 15  mph, becoming southwest 15 to 25 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly  clear. Becoming windy. Lows near 30. Thursday: Partly cloudy:  Colder and windy. Highs in the mid 40s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Lows near  20. Highs near 50.


Edward Holguin

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