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Archive 2003

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Ice shuts I-10, sleet predicted in area tonight

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 25, 2003 -- Temperatures in the low 20s greeted Pecos residents this  morning, but the weather here was better than conditions both to the south and  east of town, as icing was reported on Interstate 20 east of Midland  and caused the closing of Interstate 10 east of the Pecos River.

More bad weather was expected to arrive in the area tonight, and the National Weather Service was predicting a chance of freezing rain in the Pecos area through Wednesday morning, with a greater chance for rain or snow around Guadalupe Pass and in the Carlsbad, N.M. area.

Hotels in Fort Stockton experienced an extremely busy day Monday night and this morning, due to the closure of I-10, as freezing rain and icing force the Texas Department of Transportation to shut down 225 miles of the highway, from San Antonio to the Pecos River overnight and into this morning.

Eastbound Interstate 10 traffic was stopped at Fort Stockton and advised of the roadway closure due to freezing rain and heavy icing between Ozona and Kerrville.

"We've been really busy," said Alma Abila, a clerk at Comfort Inn in Fort Stockton. "We weren't full, but still more than half of the rooms were occupied."

Individuals couldn't get on the road yet and Abila said that some guests had left the motel yesterday only to return and ask for their rooms back.

"Some will probably want to get back on the road today," said Abila. "We heard they were going to open the Interstate at lunchtime or a little after."

The highway was expected to be re-opened about noon today.

Holiday Inn clerk Emily Acosta said that the hotel was booked. "We're booked today and had quite a few stay-overs yesterday," she said.

"The interstate is still closed and more people are stopping by," said Acosta. "We have been really busy and this will probably last until late today," she said.

The worst of the winter weather was reported in north and central Texas, and was blamed for at least one major accident, in the Waco area.

An ambulance skidded off the road and flipped en route to a six-car pileup on Interstate 35 in Bellmead. The chain reaction crash happened about 9 p.m. just before a Texas Department of Transportation truck was to apply sand to the overpass, said Capt. Joe Molina with the Waco Fire Department. None of the injuries appeared to be life threatening.

On Tuesday morning, at least half of American Airlines' inbound and outbound flights - about 220 _ out of Dallas-Fort Worth had been canceled and more were expected throughout the day, American spokesman John Hotard said.

Delta canceled 27 departures Tuesday morning, and other flight cancelations and delays are expected, DFW spokesman Ken Capps said. A train that carries passengers from one terminal to another was shut down as a precaution, but extra buses were put into service.

At Dallas Love Field, Southwest Airlines canceled all arrivals and departures until 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to its Web site.

Highway crews salted and sanded overpasses and bridges throughout the night. Woodall Rodgers Freeway, which connects North Central Expressway and Interstate 35 north of downtown Dallas, remained shut down Tuesday. Also closed Monday night were portions of U.S. 75, Interstate 35 and Interstate 30.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area was expected to get 1 to 3 inches of sleet by Tuesday morning with up to 5 inches in some areas immediately north of the area. Temperatures were in the high teens across North Texas on Monday night, and readings are not expected to rise above the middle 20s on Tuesday.

Sleet began to fall in Austin late Monday afternoon. In north Austin, about 11,000 people were left without power because of wind and ice, said Austin Energy spokesman Ed Clark. The outages started about 5:30 p.m., but all service was restored by midnight Monday, Clark said Tuesday.

The University of Texas at Austin canceled its classes and shut its office buildings Tuesday because of the weather.

Lightning was reported in the Stephenville and Granbury areas, said National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Robbins. Small hail was reported in and around San Angelo and Abilene.   

The Associated Press contributed to this report

OC cites local benefits since center's opening

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 25, 2003 -- Odessa College has put over $1.5 million into the local economy in  terms of local wages, salaries, supply purchases and student loans  since the college's Pecos Technical Training Center opened three  years ago, the school said last week.

In a press release Odessa College officials said the Pecos campus has had an operating budget of $422,307 from 2000-2003. Of that total, wages, salaries and supply purchases have accounted for $267,342 of the total allocated budget, while Pecos students have received just under $1.1 million in financial aid funds since operations began in May of 2000.

Pecos Technical Training Center Director, Michelle Workman said that though the report is based on the impact has had on Pecos' economy, she sees it more on a students' prospective.

"In Spring of 2003 we have seen an enormous amount of students interested in attending college," Workman said.

She credits the interest to the variety of courses that they have to offer to the students.

She also added that they have also seen a large variety of teenagers attending classes.

"We have seen more teenagers attending college here instead of moving to a different community," Workman said.

Along with more teenagers attending classes at the OC branch in Pecos, Workman said that there has also been a good number of teacher's aids who are pursuing the associates degree attend some classes.

"All of this boils down to a good number of classes," Workman said. "As well as the tutorial skill of reading, math and writing."

The OC press release said that the school also received $75,000 from the Pecos Economic Development Corp. to train Anchor Foods employees, after the November 2001 decision by new parent company McCain Foods to close the facility. The plant has reopened, but with several hundred fewer workers, and to date, $59,000 has been spent for English as a Second Language (ESL), Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED) and Workforce Training.

Students outside of those who worked at Anchor also are seeking their GEDs, Workman said.

"There is a good number of students pursuing their GED and moving on to college classes," she said, adding that most students who attend college at the OC branch are on financial aid.

"Most of the students are getting assistance with the cost of tuition and books," Workman said.

Along with the number of students enrolling to the college, Workman said that they appreciate the help they receive from the community.

"We appreciate the fact that community members go beyond an 8-5 job to promote higher education," she said.

Some of those teachers are teachers who teach the local schools and are business owners, Workman said.

"Without them we would not be able to offer that many classes," Workman said.

Workman said that they have also seen a lot of students who will be graduating with their Associates Degree from the Pecos branch who then move on to earn their Bachelors.

"More then several of them have earned a certificate in their designated career choice," Workman said. "They get excited and want to move on and earn their Associates Degree."

Knights plan Civic Center dinner for Fat Tuesday

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 25, 2003 -- Dinner and more will be a part of the activities planned at the  Reeves County Civic Center next week, to mark the beginning of Lent.

"Fat Tuesday," will be celebrated with a spaghetti dinner, from 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, March 4, at the Reeves County Civic Center.

The event which is being sponsored by the Knights of Columbus marks the beginning of Lent, even though all religions are invited to participate.

The dinner will consist of spaghetti with all the trimmings, including salad, tea, garlic French bread and dessert.

"This is not only for Catholics, but for everyone," said Knights of Columbus member Michael Benavides. "The event is to replace our annual fish fry."

"We want to include the whole community, not just one religion, but everyone," he said.

Dinner is $5 for adults and children can pay $2.50 at the door. Tickets can be purchased from any Knights member, or individuals can pay at the door.

"I've spoken to some of the local pastors and they are announcing it to their congregation and hopefully we can get a good response," said Benavides.

Games for the children are planned for the evening. Knights' club members will man duck pond, dart throwing and other games.

"We'll also be handing out Mardi Gras beads and music will be provided," said Benavides.

Cat the D.J. will be on hand to provide the musical entertainment for the evening.

The event is family-oriented and no alcohol will be served or allowed during the event.

"This is our first year to do this and hopefully we'll get a good response," said Benavides. "Next year, if we choose to have it, we can make improvements and we welcome any new ideas."

Benavides also said that the group is short-handed at this time and in need of volunteers. "If anybody would like to help us out, we'd really appreciate it."

The Knights sponsor several projects throughout the year, including their Annual Cinco De Mayo Golf Tournament, scheduled for May 3-4. The event is a three-man scramble, golf tourney.

"We also host the Knights of Columbus Memorial Golf Tournament," said Benavides.

That event is held the third weekend in July. "We usually name the tournament in honor of someone in the community who has died," said Benavides. Last year the tournament was named in honor of slain Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officer Jaime Rodriguez and his family.

Proceeds from the events the club sponsors go towards scholarships for the youth in the community, churches and local charities.

"It's a revolving door, we have money coming in and money going back out," said Benavides. "That's what the Knights are all about, that's what they want to see, is to see the money go towards those who need it."

Benavides said that the club usually doesn't have any money, because it goes towards the charities and scholarships. "We always have a low bank account, with little to operate on, because it's always used for charitable purposes," he said.

"Kids from Balmorhea also benefit from our scholarships," said Benavides.

Benavides said that the scholarships are not just for Catholics, but that any student of any religion can apply.

RCH board schedules vote on expansion bids

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 25, 2003 -- Reeves County Hospital Board members will award the bid for the hospital's planned expansion and renovation project this evening, during the board's monthly meeting in the classroom at Reeves County Hospital.

Board members reviewed the bids and discussed funding for the project during a special meeting earlier this month. Board president Linda Gholson said at the time that the project's architects, Hammel-Green-Abrahamson, Inc., would review the bids to make sure all of the specifications from each individual bid matched up.

"They (HGA) will then give their findings to (RCH administrator) Robert Vernor who will review them and then make a recommendation at our February 25 meeting," she said.

Board members also voted on a resolution authorizing the reimbursement of certain expenditures from bond funds by the hospital during their Feb. 4 meeting. Vernor said at the time that the cost of the reimbursement is not to exceed $8 million.

Action on the bids and on the revenue bonds to finance the project are among the final items listed on this evening agenda. Also scheduled for action is the purchase of a portable ultrasound device for the obstetrics department, the purchase of a monitor for surgery, the purchase of a new dictation system and the purchase of new furniture for the administrator's office.

The board will also vote on the approval of a charity plan, order elections for May 3 and set election judges for that date, discuss the sale of property located at 1320 S. Oak St. and 512 S. Walnut St., and hear a joint conference committee report.

In the medical staff reports, board members will hear the administrator's report from Vernor and will discuss action on clinical privileges for Dr. Peter Way in the RCH emergency room, Dr. William G. Reilly for the courtesy staff, and Dr. Anju A. Mani for the courtesy staff in the field of pathology.

The board will also hear public comments and the report from the RCH auxiliary, and will consider the monthly tax report, financial statements and budget amendments and payment of bills.

Museum seeking 40th anniversary cookbook recipes

PECOS, Tues., Feb. 25, 2003 -- West of the Pecos Museum is asking for recipes for the 40th Anniversary Museum Cookbook.

Bring your favorite recipes to the museum at First and Cedar streets, or call 445-5076 for more information.

Deadline to submit recipes is Friday, March 28.


PECOS, Tues., Feb. 25, 2003 -- High Monday 37. Low this morning 24. Forecast for tonight:   Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain or freezing rain. Lows in the lower 30s.  Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. The chance of precipitation is 30  percent. Wednesday:  Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain or freezing  rain in the morning. Becoming partly cloudy in the afternoon. Highs in  the upper 50s. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. The chance of precipitation  is 20 percent. Wednesday night:  Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid  30s. Thursday:  Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 60s. Friday:  Partly cloudy.  Lows in the mid 30s. Highs in the mid 60s.


Bill Malone

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