Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, February 14, 2003
School board continues consolidation study
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Feb. 14, 2003 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members once again discussed
the possibility of closing two campuses as an effort to save money, but
took no final action during the regular board meeting held
"We have touched on this before," said PBT-ISD Superintendent
Don Love of the plan to close the two oldest remaining campuses in
the district, Zavala and Lamar elementary schools. Under the plan, the
board would move sixth grade classes from Lamar to nearby Bessie
Haynes Elementary, which currently has all fourth and fifth graders, while
DAEP/AEP would move to Pecos High School from the north side
"We checked and we do have the room at Bessie Haynes,"
said personnel director Gome Olibas. "And we'll still have three
Olibas said that change was needed because the district
was losing a lot of students. Enrollment in P-B-T ISD has dropped by
500 students in recent years, resulting in the closings of the Barstow
and Pecos Elementary campuses.
Gome said that if they were to move Lamar AEP to Zavala Elementary
and close Lamar campus it would mean a savings of $285,547.
"If we move Lamar to high school and close both campuses it will
mean a savings of $439,898," said Olibas. "In the long run, it will pay off."
"This will be done strictly through attrition, we're not cutting
anybody," said Love.
"The main thing is the safety, there's always the safety issue.
This is one way to help us out," Olibas said.
He added that there would be some expenses in making the move, but
that they felt the district would make it up in three months.
"It's like when we moved Zavala, we had to have science rooms,"
Love said that they were waiting on the Texas Education Agency
to see if the could move some items such as air conditioners and ceiling
tiles to Building B, where AEP would be housed, if the move was approved.
Love told the group that they could make a decision last night
or wait until Tuesday to see what happens.
State rules require AEP students to be separated from regular
students at any campus, and board member David Flores asked, "If we decide
to move them to Building B, what's to keep the students from AEP
from going to the high school?"
"They can't get back on main campus, they will be at the far
end and their parking will also," said Olibas.
AEP Director Jimmy Dutchover said that most of the students in
the disciplinary program at this time just want to do their time and go on.
"They know they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar and now they
just want to move on," he said.
"We're just not dealing with the same type kids that we have had
in the past," said Dutchover. "That's why I'm not hesitant to move
Basically, if it's going to be done, it's the opportune time, according
to Dutchover. "There's no real assurances, but we haven't had
any major problems," he said.
Dutchover said that other AEP schools were impressed with what
the Pecos campus had been able to manage over the last five years.
"I think we've done a pretty good job, I hope you're pleased, I know
I am with the students," said Dutchover. "TEA was very
impressed with our AEP."
"Are there any precautions we can take, such as cameras," said
board member Steve Valenzuela.
"We have cameras inside the rooms and the school will take
care of the outside ones," said Dutchover. "We're looking at getting a
couple more cameras."
"If we did have a student that did that (went to the main high
school campus), what kind of punishment would he have," Valenzuela asked.
"They would be trespassing and they would be arrested,"
"But do you think it's been successful, because they were so
far away and now that they are closer to the regular campus, they won't
care," said Flores.
"If we were considering moving the campuses, what kind
of maintenance would it require," asked board member Lila Cerna.
"We would still have to mow, take care of roofing and paint
outside," said maintenance supervisor Joe Coody. "We would also have to
have electricity, water and gas, to use the gym at Zavala," he said.
Seventh grade teams from Zavala Junior High School use the school's gym.
"We would still use the band hall and gym at Zavala," said
Coody. "They would still be accessible if we moved AEP to Zavala," he said.
"We would work something out with AEP about when they'll be
using the gym," said Love.
At Lamar electricity would have to be kept on for the fire alarms and
water for irrigation, according to Coody.
Board members opted to table the decision until after Tuesday, to
find out what the state is going to do.
Man convicted of drug charges
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Feb. 14, 2003 - One man was found guilty on drug charges and jurors in a second trial
are currently deliberating an illegal immigration case at the Lucius D.
Bunton III U.S. Federal District Court in Pecos.
According to the U.S. Clerk's Office, the first trial this week began
on Tuesday and involved the United States of America versus Ruben Medina.
Medina was charged with conspiracy of possession with
intend to distribute a controlled substance.
He was found guilty on two counts of the indictment and will be
sentenced in April, the clerk's office said.
The second jury trial, which began Thursday, was on three
individuals for the transporting of aliens.
The individuals are Jacobo Perez-Gomez, Porfirio Valedez-Nunez
and Emeric S. Moguel-Garcia.
The jury was deliberating the case this morning and no verdict had
been returned by press time.
Complaints on girls' athletics, special ed voiced
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Feb. 14, 2003 - Problems with the girls' athletic program at Pecos High School,
and questions about hiring a new special education teacher for the
district were voiced during the audience comments portion of
Thursday's regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting, held at the
school Technology Center.
Individuals have the opportunity to sign in at the beginning of
the meeting and be recognized during the audience portion to talk
about any subject, but no action can be taken unless the item is part of
the regular agenda.
P-B-T teacher and former coach Steele Ewing voiced the
complaint about the girls' athletic program. After being recognized by
school board president Billie Sadler, Ewing said, "I have been at Pecos
High School for the past 24 years," and was concerned with the direction of
"Girls athletics has been on the decline for some time now,"
said Ewing. "We need to take a look at where girls' athletics is going."
Ewing said that his concern stemmed from some of the events
that his daughter and some of her friends had been going through in
athletics and he said that he hoped these things didn't happen again.
"Each time I've had a problem I've talked to Coach Williams," said Ewing.
Ewing said that one of the "incidents" he was concerned
about was his daughter having to run because she missed a
practice because she had a band function to attend.
"That has been changed if this was going on before," said Ewing.
Ewing said that another problem was that if they left their sweaters
or other personal items lying on the floor the girls were fined money
to get those things back. "I did talk to the coaches and that was
changed," said Ewing.
Ewing said that when he did talk to some of the coaches he felt
he wasn't trying to tell them how to do their jobs. "But I felt that my
opinion wasn't worth a hoot, that's the opinion I got," said Ewing.
"They felt that they were untouchable."
Ewing said that girls participating in other extracurricular
activities should not be punished, but should be commended. "Just because
she was at a band function, she shouldn't be punished because she
missed practice," he said.
"I hope that situation will be taken care of," said Ewing. "We need to
do something to get these girls in athletics and see if we can
change some things."
Ewing said he just wanted what was best for his daughter and
the other girls in athletics.
Next, president Sadler acknowledged Reeves County
Judge Jimmy Galindo, who talked about the planned hiring of the new teacher.
"As a parents of a little boy who is autistic, there are some
pressing issues in regards to special education," Galindo said.
He said that there are limited areas where the school board has
control over special education due to certain laws and regulations
concerning special education.
"However, there's one area very apparent to me that you do
have control and a say in," said Galindo. "That's is the teacher, I don't know
if you ever thought of that."
"I know that you've been advised that you don't have much input,
but you're the ones that select the teacher," said Galindo, who went
on to question the experience level of the new teacher for the special
"The teacher which is being put before you has only one semester
of experience in teaching children who are autistic," said Galindo. "I
know that Mr. Olibas does the best he can to bring in good teachers, but
this lady brings one semester of experience."
He said that if the teacher is not trained, it will create a situation
that can result in a worst situation.
"I would like to ask you to please pay attention to who you put in
these classes," said Galindo.
"Especially when it concerns special ed classes."
Galindo said that one semester of familiarization with autistic
children did not qualify the teacher to teach these children.
Later in the meeting, board members met behind closed doors
in executive session. In the open portion of the session, following
executive session, the board approved the appointment of Kristi Viney.
Viney holds a Bachelor of Science Degree/Lubbock Christian University and
has eight years teaching experience. Her assignment: Austin
Elementary Special Education S/C Teacher.
The item was approved on a split decision, with board members,
Lila Cerna, Paul Deishler, Chip Flores and board president Billie Sadler voting for
the appointment. David Flores and Steve Valenzuela voted
`no.' Board member Crissy Martinez was unable to attend the meeting.
Red Bluff awaits USGS action to begin salt removal
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Feb. 14, 2003 - Removal of salt from the Pecos River at Malaga Bend is awaiting
final action by the U.S. Geological Survey, Red Bluff Water Power Control
Board members were told on Tuesday during their regular monthly meeting in Pecos.
Work was completed last month on the new well at Malaga Bend, about
70 miles north of Pecos, which will be used to pump water from the salt
spring away from the Pecos River and into man-made ponds built by Sun West
Salt Co., which will then evaporate the water and mine out the salt.
Managing Director for Red Bluff, Randal Hartman said Sun West
"can start pumping, but they're waiting on the USGS to get their
The monitors are designed to check the water flow of the Pecos
River above and below the diversion, to see that it complies with the
adjustments agreed to last year on the Pecos River Compact between Texas and
Hartman said Sun West was digging one pit at a time, and would
build more as the first one fills up with salt. He added that the cost of the well
to would come in at about $39,000, but said, "We're not paying for it.
They're (Sun West) taking it in salt payments."
The well will begin pumping at 600 gallons a minute, and will go down
to between 460 and 480 gallons once the aquifer level in the area goes
down. However, Hartman said the district may have to go in and pour sand in
an abandoned nearby well if it hampers the flow of the new pumping effort.
The project is expected to cut the salt levels in the Pecos River by
50 percent south of Malaga Bend, as the water enters Red Bluff Lake.
Currently, the spring's water contains 39,000 parts of salt per million parts of
water, which the board was told equals about two pounds of salt per gallon.
In other business, board members voted to hold off on a water
allotment decision for 2003 until March, in hopes that more water might reach Red
Bluff Lake. Water levels at the lake last year were in the 40,000 acre/foot range,
and no allotment could be made to farmers downstream on the Pecos River. At
the start of February, water level at the lake was 58,204 acre/feet, which the
board said would only permit a small allotment.
Board members also approved the monthly cash disbursements,
receipts, fund balances and the investment report for the district. The board was
also told nine miles of ditches from the Pecos River weir to the Imperial
Reservoir have been cleaned out, at a cost of $3,000. The action was approved, as
was a $1,000 expenditure to put a cement apron on the gates at the reservoir.
Commissioners seek to cut cost for new center
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Feb. 14, 2003 - Reeves County Commissioners sought ways to cut construction
costs on the planned Balmorhea Community Center, sought to speed up
final construction work on the Reeves County Detention Center III
project and approved a modified version of a $500,000 loan to TransPecos
Foods during a special session of the Commissioners Court
But commissioners found out later that they will have to come back a
third time and vote on the loan for the food processing facility, since the
resolution conflicts with the company's other secured loans.
Commissioners tabled any action on both the Community Center plans
and the RCDC project, and will have to come back and meet again next Tuesday
on the loan, County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said today.
The Balmorhea Community Center project had been budgeted
by commissioners at $400,000. However, the initial bids that came in were
nearly 50 percent above that total, coming in at $591,000, and as a result,
architect Lorraine Dailey architect for Dailey, Rabke and Gondeck, and
Ron Anderson of Anderson Building and Development Group Inc. of El Paso
were asked to go back and rework the plans to see how much they could cut
from that total.
Both were at Thursday's meeting, and while they were able to cut
nearly $60,000 off the original amount, commissioners and Galindo said
the $531,504 price tag was still more than what Reeves County could afford.
"We bid out the most expensive items," Dailey said, "But the
prices keep coming back the way they are."
Anderson, whose company is currently working on construction of
a new agriculture building and gym for the Balmorhea ISD, said he tried to
use some of the same subcontractors as on that project, but their bids came
in too high for what was in the budget.
"I think we can come down to $400,000," said Galindo.
"Unfortunately, what that means is it forces you to
go back and redesign, but what we agreed upon was to finance $400,000."
The county plans to pay back the loan to build the facility at a rate
of $25,000 a year for 20 years, and commissioners said they did not
want to extend the loan payment period.
Commissioners also asked Dailey to draw up a plan that would eliminate
the back porch from the building and possibly decrease the size of the
front porch, along with eliminating the exterior stucco panels and going
with a plain metal wall and a stained concrete floor instead of tiling. At the same
time, Galindo said the county could look at using the interest earned from
its account to finance RCDC payments as a down payment on the building to
cut down the interested that would be owed on the loan.
Balmorhea Mayor Ruben Fuentez also told Galindo that the city would
be willing to help with maintenance of the facility in order to lower future costs.
Dailey also talked with commissioners about the status of
the RCDC project, which is scheduled to begin receiving its first prisoners
in March, and commissioners talked with Joe Gamen, project manager for
N.C. Sturgeon, and Robert Gonzales, project manager for SamCor, Both
companies are subcontractors that Gerald Tally with Carothers Construction Co.,
the project's prime contractor, said on Monday were in danger of missing
the deadline for completion of their work.
"I highly recommend you do everything you can to complete
this within the required time," said Galindo, who explained that security will be
a problem for the subcontractors if work has to be done after the first
inmates arrive at the 960-bed addition.
"We're willing to work extra hours. The cleaning is going to be
extensive, so we're going to allow days for
that," said Gamen, whose company is doing clean-up work at the site.
He said he understood the problem if the current Feb. 25 deadline is
missed and would check the "punch list"
being prepared by Dailey of items still to be done by his company. Gamen
added that he only has punch lists for seven of the 13 buildings right now,
while Dailey said a number of the problems are already known, and
"there's nothing keeping them from doing it before they get the contractor's report."
Gonzales said his company was having problems getting
enough people to work on painting the facility, but added they would be
working weekends with another subcontractor to get the work done.
"Does SamCor have the ability to get the manpower?" Galindo asked,
and Gonzales said the company would be looking to add 10 workers on
Thursday and 10 more today.
He also said they were having problems with painting some parts
of the new buildings, only to see other contractors come back in to do
more work that would then require another paint job.
"I think it's very important to document where you're having to
come back to do work," Galindo said. "If you're having to do that, it
certainly impedes your completion date."
The $500,000 given to TransPecos Foods from the county's
Revolving Loan Fund had been approved by commissioners at an earlier
meeting. But Galindo said the State Office of Rural Community Affairs, which
had final approval over the loan, wanted the county to update its loan
guidelines, which dated back to the loan granted the Smithers Tire Testing Center in
Along with that, commissioners also agreed to a change in the
loan requested by County Auditor Lynn Owens, who wanted the county to
seek security from TransPecos Foods for the loan.
"It bothers me that we're going to consider a loan of $500,000 on
an unsecured loan. It's not responsible on the part of the commissioners
court," he said.
"One thing some of us have pushed for is the creation of jobs, but it is
a valid point," Galindo said, while adding that other loans taken out by
the company would take precedent over any rights the county would
have should a default occur.
"From what I have seen at least $4 million is loaned for that operation,"
he said. "We may be in the second (secured) position on all these
things, but second position is better than no position."
However, this morning, Galindo said after talking TransPecos Foods
owner Patrick Kennedy, "He said the resolution from us on the second
lien was in conflict with their other loans.
"So we're back to the drawing board. The question is whether or
not we should approve an unsecured loan for the company in order to create
jobs for the community, Galindo said.
As a result, commissioners will meet again at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at
the courthouse to again consider the issue.
TransPecos Foods bought the facility from McCain Foods
last summer, and currently is using about 100 employees, though plant
manager Bruce Salcido said a new contract to supply International House
of Pancakes restaurants with cheese sticks and onion rings would result
in the creation of another 60 jobs.
"I feel strongly that we need to keep the plant open," said Precinct
1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo prior to Thursday's vote, while Precinct
4 Commissioner Hivi Rayos added, "We need the jobs."
High Thursday 69. Low this morning 58. Forecast for
tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 40s. West winds 5 to 15 mph.
Saturday: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of showers. Highs near 60.
Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph. The chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
Saturday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Sunday: Mostly cloudy.
Highs in the upper 50s. Washington's birthday: Mostly cloudy
then clearing. Lows in the mid 30s. Highs in the mid 60s.
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 2003 by Pecos Enterprise