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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Ward sheriffs' Barstow office is burglarized

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., June 3, 2003 -- The Ward County Sheriff's Department found itself to be the victims of a burglary, after items were found missing from the department's Barstow office.

The local Sheriff's Office, located Mackey Street in Barstow, was broken into early last week. Ward County Deputy Ben Deishler, who is stationed in Barstow, said that a shotgun and some tear gas were stolen from his office.

He added that the suspect was able to gain entry into the office through a window that was broken.

"Once inside the suspect broke into the gun shelf," Deishler said.

He added that while an arrest has not been made and the items have not been recovered, the sheriff's department does have a suspect in the weapons theft.

Satellite TV firm sues Pecos men over descramblers

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., June 3, 2003 -- A satellite television company has filed civil suits in U.S. District Court in Pecos against two local residents, alleging they purchased illegal signal descramblers to view the company's programming.

DIRECTV filed a lawsuit on May 23 against Robby Hernandez, Jr., and Randy Taylor for possession and use of illegal devices and equipment designed to intercept and decrypt the company's protected satellite communications, ultimately allowing for the free viewing of television programming. The company is seeking actual damages of over $10,000 and punitive damages of $100,000 against both defendants, who the company alleges were found to have purchased the devices following action against the supplier two years ago.

The civil suit states that on or about May 25, 2001, DIRECTV executed Writs of Seizure with the assistance of local law enforcement, at the mail shipping facility used by several major distributors of Pirate Access Devices, including, among others, Vector Technologies, DSS-Stuff Shutt, Inc., Whiteviper and DSS-Hangout (collectively referred to as the 'Fulfillment Pirate Group'). During and subsequent to the raids, DIRECTV obtained a substantial body of shipping records, email communications, credit card receipts and other records. Each of the records confirmed the existence of a distribution source for the country-wide transmission of devices primarily designed for the unauthorized interception of DIRECTV's Satellite Programming. More pertinently, the records evidence the defendants' purchase of Pirate Access Devices from a member of the Fulfillment Pirate Group.

The company says the defendants actively programmed and reprogrammed DIRECTV access cars and designed electronic system for use in surreptitiously obtaining satellite programming.

The suit says the defendants' activities violate federal telecommunication and wiretapping laws and state statutory and common law, and DIRECTV therefore is seeking damages and injunctive relief against defendants, Hernandez and Taylor.

The lawsuit is brought pursuant to several federal statutes prohibiting the interception of satellite communications, including the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 and the Electronic Communications Policy Act of 1986 for the violation of Texas law and as an action for injunctive relief and damages for the improper receipt, transmission and use of satellite programming signals.

DIRECTV is asking for statutory damages in an amount of $10,000 for each violation of the main count against Hernandez and Taylor, plus an additional $100,000 for each violation of the count, which the suit states requires a penalty of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000 for each violation from the defendants.

P-B-T lower grade levels fare better in TAKS test

From Staff and Wire Reports
Preliminary scores show that test results for elementary and junior high school students in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD were about at the state average for the first Texas Assessment of Knowledge Skills (TAKS) test, while the results for Pecos' High School students fell below the statewide averages in several areas.

Texas Education Association officials said high school scores overall were lower across the state than they were in the lower grades.

Only 52 percent of 10th-graders and 49 percent of 11th-graders passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, administered for the first time in March since its 1999 adoption to replace the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, or TAAS.

Current high school sophomores are the first class that must pass all parts of the TAKS test by their senior year to graduate, and they can keep taking it until they pass.

But this year's juniors are only required to pass the old TAAS test to get their diplomas _ not the TAKS, which covers more subjects _ so they may not have been motivated to do well on the more rigorous test, Texas Education Agency officials said.

"It was not really a personal mandate that they had to pass," said Ann Smisko, associate commissioner for curriculum assessment and technology. "The (current sophomore class) is clearly where the high school challenge is. Schools really need to look at the kids who didn't pass and target those kids."

Seventy-five percent of fourth-graders, 65 percent of fifth-graders and 74 percent of sixth-graders passed all parts of the TAKS test. Sixty-seven percent of seventh-graders, 69 percent of eigth-graders and 60 percent of ninth-graders passed.

About 94 percent of third-graders passed the reading exam, a requirement before they can move to the next grade. Field tests indicated that one in six third-graders could have failed.

A third-grader who fails the TAKS reading exam three times must remain in that grade unless a committee made up of the child's parents, teacher and a school administrator agrees to promote him. The percentage of third-graders passing all parts of TAKS had not been calculated as of Friday.

In the third grade at Austin Elementary, 91 percent of P-B-T students passed the math portion of the TAKS test, compared to 90 percent statewide, while in the reading, 91 percent passed on the first attempt, compared with 89 percent across the state. In the second try, 53 percent of P-B-T- third graders passed, compared with 63 percent overall.

"Our students did really well," said Austin Elementary School Principal Cindy Duke.

Duke said that the faculty had done a lot of after school tutoring. "We also hired three certified teachers to work half a day, during school hours, and they came in and took a small group of students to work with," said Duke.

Duke said that the school also provided AR instruction after school for all third graders. "We focused mainly on reading because they (the third graders) had to pass reading in order to go on to fourth grade," said Duke.

"There were 15 students that did not achieve a good score and we focused on them," said Duke.

"Looking at the third grade TAKS, we were really tickled with the results," said Superintendent Don Love. "The administrators did an outstanding job."

Duke said that extra funding provided by the state to all kindergarten through third grade students was used towards the purchase of a CIA lab. "This was for those who qualified for state funding," said Duke. "And we used our money to purchase the lab, for struggling readers," she said.

Duke said that the staff has already started working on the first and second graders.

"These scores show the results of the hard work the teachers do here," said Duke. "Most of them stayed after school every day to provide extra tutoring and the ones that couldn't stay after school, that had prior commitments, came in before school, at 7:30 a.m., to tutor students," she said.

In fourth grade, 85 percent of P-B-T students passed the math TAKS, 76 percent passed the reading and 80 percent passed the writing portion of the test. The preliminary state numbers were 88 percent for math, 86 for reading and 86 for writing.

In fifth grade, 79 percent of P-B-T students passed the math TAKS test, 74 percent passed the reading test and 65 percent passed the writing test. The state numbers in those three categories were 86, 80 and 74 percent.

In sixth grade 76 percent passed the math TAKS test locally, compared with 79 percent statewide, and 84 percent passed the reading test, compared with 86 percent overall in Texas.

For seventh graders, 76 percent passed TAKS in math, 85 percent in reading and 84 percent in writing. The state numbers were 73 percent passing in math, 88 in reading and 85 in writing, while in eighth grade, TAKS tests were giving in math, reading and social studies. Locally, 70 percent passed in math, 85 percent in reading and 94 percent in social studies, while overall, 72 percent passed in math, 88 percent in reading and 93 percent in social studies.

Within the next five years, fifth- and eighth-graders must pass reading and math sections before moving to the next grade. High school juniors must take and pass an exit-level exam.

At the high school level, the preliminary TAKS results show that 74 percent of ninth graders at Pecos High School passed the reading test, but only 41 percent passed the math test. The state numbers showed 82 percent passing reading and 63 percent passing math.

In 10th grade, which will be the first group that will have to pass TAKS to graduate, 65 percent of PHS students passed the English language arts test, 54 percent passed in math, 79 percent in social studies and 50 percent in science. Statewide, 72 percent passed in English, 71 percent in math, 86 percent in social studies and 69 percent in science.

At the 11th grade level, where the TAKS test will not affect students' graduations, only social studies was close to the statewide average. The preliminary figures showed 84 percent of PHS students passed there, compared with 90 percent overall. But in English, only 46 percent passed locally, compared with 69 percent for all Texas schools, 45 percent passed in science, compared with 67 percent overall, and only 37 percent passed in math, compared with 68 percent statewide.

"We're not happy with the TAKS at all," said PHS principal Danny Rodriguez about the results. "We're taking steps, and are sending people away for training for the new strategies."

Rodriguez said teachers would be attending workshops in the upcoming months dealing with how to better teach the materials needed to pass TAKS.

"I know the math scores were a little lower than we expected them to be, but it's the first time the kids have seen the test, and that's kind of the way it happened with TAAS," he said. "We have been issued a challenge with the new TAKS test, and our scores will improve."

"We know what improvements we need to work on throughout the system, and I think our people will respond to the task," Love said. "I guarentee you we'll be breaking it down and looking at it, because these kids have got to pass the 11th grade TAKS test."

State education officials say TAKS, which is given to more grades than the old test, does a better job of measuring whether students learned what they studied during the year.

But critics say the state Board of Education set the passing standards too high despite projections that more students, many of them poor and minority, would fail.

About 32 percent of fifth-graders and 51 percent of sixth-graders passed the Spanish version of TAKS, which is given to Spanish-speaking students in grades 3-6.

New law delays jobless benefits expiration date

PECOS, Tues., June 3, 2003 -- The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced an extension of the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation program (TEUC). President Bush signed the extension into law on May 28. 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 (UI) benefits.

The latest extension allows Texas to continue to establish TEUC claims until Dec. 31, 2003, for individuals who have exhausted their regular UI benefits. Qualified claimants who apply for the program by Dec. 31, can continue to receive benefits through March 31, 2004. No benefits can be paid for any week beginning after March 31, 2004. Individuals who have already exhausted their TEUC benefits are not entitled to additional benefits under this extension.

Further information and updates also are available on the TWC Web Site at


PECOS, Tues., June 3, 2003 -- High Mon. 104. Low this morning 75. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Wed.: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 90s. West winds 5 to 15 mph becoming south. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 90s. Friday: Partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 60s. Highs in the mid 80s.


Urbano Herrera and Cora Laskey

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