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Archive 2003

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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Balmorhea honored for test improvements

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- Balmorhea ISD has been selected as one of the state's 26 blue ribbon nominees for the No Child Left Behind initiative due to its efforts in improving the test scores of the students in the district.

The program is part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001. The education reform package that Bush described as the "cornerstone of my administration," recognizes schools that show dramatic improvement over a period of time and those schools that are ranked in the top ten percent of the state.

The program is based on four principles, according to the U.S. Department of Education website. Accountability for results, an emphasis on doing what works, expanded parental control and expanded local control and flexibility are the four 'pillars' that Bush's program rests on.

The program encompasses multiple initiatives, from sending overall school performance report cards home to parents yearly to more money for schools to higher standards for teaching. One of the main goals of the program is the recognition of those schools that are academically superior or those that show dramatic gains in academic achievement.

Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education described the blue ribbon awardees as "national models of excellence that others can learn from."

Superintendent Mary Lou Carrasco is quoted in the release stating "this rating shows that Balmorhea's schools are accountable for not only for student learning, but also for achieving those results cost-effectively and efficiently." The superior rating is the highest fiscal accountability rating in the program.

According to the specifics of the program, the 'dramatic improvement' category that Balmorhea has qualified for, requires that the school was performing below the 55th percentile, and over the past three years has brought the scores of all the children up to that level.

To qualify, Balmorhea had to have at least 95 percent of its eligible students complete the state TAAS/TAKS standardized test. Of those scores, the average over the past three years had to improve greater than the vast majority of the rest of the state.

The State of Texas adjusted its selection to take into consideration the economic status of each campus. Of the 26 schools selected this year, almost 70 percent are from economically disadvantaged districts. The program defines this category as a campus that has over 40 percent of its students on some form of assistance, free lunch, reduced lunch or Title I supplements.

The awardees are to be honored at the state's Administrator's Midwinter Conference in Austin this January. In addition to the Blue Ribbon award, Balmorhea has received recognition for its rating of "superior achievement" under the State of Texas program FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas). It recognizes those schools that "are making the most of our taxpayer's dollars," according to the press release from the Texas Education Agency.

Agents save injured driver in major pot bust

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- A rollover accident on FM 170 along the Rio Grande Saturday afternoon resulted in the discovery of nearly 11/2 tons of marijuana and the rescue of the vehicle's unconscious driver by U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Marfa Sector's Presidio Station.

According to a press release from the Border Patrol's Marfa office, agents were called to assist the Presidio County Sheriff's office in a rollover on F.M. 170, 13 miles west of Presidio Saturday afternoon. The accident involved a 1993 Chevrolet Suburban, which had rolled over while loaded with marijuana bundles.

Agents arrived to assist but were unable to locate the driver of the vehicle who had been seen earlier by a witness. Using tracking techniques with support from a Marfa Sector aircraft the male driver was found unconscious in the brush. Agents employed their life saving skills and were able to transport the man to a road to wait for an ambulance. While waiting, the agents had to resuscitate the man three times when he quit breathing.

According to the Border Patrol, two of the agents are recent graduates of the binational Emergency Medical Technician training held in Presidio by the Health Education Training Centers Alliance of Texas and Texas Tech Medical Branch. One of the agents is also a member of the Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Team.

The vehicle contained 2,838.2 pounds of marijuana valued at $2,270,560. The driver, a U.S. Citizen from Presidio, Texas, was transported to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine. The vehicle and the marijuana were turned over to the Texas Department of Public Safety Narcotics Task Force.

The marijuana seizure was the second in two days on FM 170, the river road along the Rio Grande between Big Bend National Park and Ruidosa.

On Friday, Presidio agents seized 84.12 pounds of marijuana when they stopped a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina seven miles west of Presidio on FM 170. The car was driven by a Mexican citizen. The drugs were valued at $67,296. The marijuana, the car and the driver were turned over to agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Carlsbad gives Red Bluff water for Christmas

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- Red Bluff Water Power Control District Board members had only routine business to discuss on Tuesday, during their monthly meeting in Pecos.

The board went over the district's finances, and was briefed on the water level at Red Bluff Lake and on the pumping of salt water out of the Pecos River at Malaga Bend.

While the long awaited pumping of salt spring water out of the river began 10 months ago, Red Bluff Managing Director Randal Hartman said there are still some complaints being filed in New Mexico, including one by the Interstate Stream Commission.

"I'll go up and talk to them and visit with Mr. (Interstate Stream Commission official Mikael) Stapleton at Roswell, and he'll tell me what to do," Hartman said, while adding that no action was likely until the engineer in charge returns from a two-month visit to India.

"I'd imagine he's over this and nothing is going to take place until he gets back," said board member Jay Lee.

Board members were told the annual Pecos River Christmas Lighting event in Carlsbad, N.M., currently underway, helped increase the water level at Red Bluff Lake by about 8 percent in November.

"They gave us some water because of the Lights on the Pecos," Hartman said. "They just let the water down the river to freshen up their little lake so the boats can go down and see the lights."

The water level at Red Bluff Lake still remains well below what is needed for water releases due to the ongoing drought in both New Mexico and Texas. The lake's level was 54,983 acre/feet on Dec. 1, which was up 4,367 acre/feet during the month.

Chamber updated on plans for Christmas lighting event

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- Homes and businesses lit up for the holidays in Pecos will be judged Friday, during the Annual Christmas Lighting Contest sponsored by the Women's Division of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce.

Women's Division President Michelle Workman updated the chamber during their monthly meeting held Tuesday at noon.

"We'll have about 18-21 judges organized and using the city map we will be going through all the community," said Workman.

She said that they had divided the community into sections, which would be judged by a group of the Women's Division. "They don't have to call in to have their home or block judged, because we will go by there," Workman said.

Seven residential winners would be picked and a block that was decorated the best will also win an award. "Last year, we also picked out a business, so we'll be doing that too, this year," she said.

"We want to make sure that everybody turns on their lights Friday evening, because that's when we will be judging," said Workman.

Workman said that the group would begin judging at 7 p.m. and the winners would be announced in the Enterprise and on KIUN radio.

Recent projects the women have been working on include helping out the local food banks and collecting jackets for children in the community.

"Two members organized and donated the money to the food banks, they were Ninfa Alligood and Delfa Franco," said Workman.

The three organizations that received funding from the club were, Church of Christ, Santa Rosa Catholic Church Food Bank and North Temple Baptist Church.

"The group also collected 16 jackets and a few other that were in the lost and found at Austin Elementary School," said Workman. "They had been there for a while and not claimed and the principal from that school donated them, the women took them home cleaned them up and laid them out in the cafeteria."

A group of children targeted by teachers and the counselor at the school were then called to the cafeteria and asked to try on and pick out a jacket. Austin Elementary School teachers Mary Tarango and Nikki Matta organized the event.

Reeves County Texas Extension Agent Tommy Dominguez was on hand for the meeting and updated the group on events coming up.

"We had a livestock committee meeting and have scheduled the livestock show for the third Saturday in January," said Dominguez.

He said that they had gotten everything validated and would have a bigger group participate next year. "The numbers are up a little and that's good," said Dominguez, adding that they had validated 64 goats, 43 lambs, four steers and 153 hogs.

"We also have barbecue tickets and are selling those as a fundraiser for the kids projects," said Dominguez. "We want to invite everyone to go out to the livestock show."

Dominguez, a Pecos High School graduate who had spent the past few years in Crane and Fort Stockton, said that he was happy to be back in Pecos and that everyone had been really nice to him.

"We're really glad to have you and are proud and happy that you're very visible and attend many events," said chamber president Al Gomez. "You've already been a big help."

Kathy Hurley updated the group on the recent Christmas Parade.

"We had a lot of beautiful floats, a lot of music," said Hurley. "I think everyone really enjoyed it," he said.

Chamber Director Linda Gholson told the group that the flea market held in November had been a huge success. "We had 20 vendors and at the flea market we had in May, we had 15," she said.

Over 200 lots were sold and the chamber brought in $2,096, at the November Flea Market and $1,525 during the May flea market, according to Gholson.

"It's getting to be a good thing and we appreciate everybody that participated," she said.

Rodeo committee member Brenda McKinney said that the organization is trying to finish all the contracts.

"We're trying to find a new company for the scoreboards, but the producer, Walls Rodeo will be here again," she said.

McKinney said that the group is also working on providing a scholarship for a deserving youth this year.

President Al Gomez said that when they had traveled to Austin to receive the Main Street award they had listened to a good speaker that they wanted to hire for the chamber banquet scheduled in February.

"His name is Kirk Watson, he's the ex-mayor of Austin, a good speaker and a really funny guy," said Gomez. "We're trying to get him to come down here and I'll have something to report at the next meeting."

Council again to look over PEDC budget

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council will have a brief agenda when it hold its first monthly meeting of December at 7 a.m. Thursday in the council chamber at City Hall.

The council is set to again look at the Pecos Economic Development Budget for the 2003-2004 year, in addition to the regular approval of reports from the various municipal entities.

The PEDC budget item has been up before the council the past two regular meetings, but has been tabled due to council's concerns over the allocation of funds to the PEDC President for both a car expense and a gas and mileage allowance.

The item also came up in September during the PEDC's annual budget meeting. At that point the PEDC board moved the car expense line item under the administrative column of the budget. However, council members made it known that the car expense line item should be removed completely by either adding the money directly to salary or using the funds some place else.

Also on the agenda is the rescheduling of the second monthly meeting due to the Christmas holiday. Normally the meeting would fall on Christmas day.

Robbery hunted in morning heist at Stockton bank

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- Texas Rangers, Pecos County Sheriff's Deputies and other area law enforcement officials are searching for a man who robbed the First National Bank in Fort Stockton late this morning.

The robbery occurred about 11:30 a.m. at the bank, located on Dickenson Boulevard in Fort Stockton. The man, described as a Hispanic male about 5-foot-9 with a tattoo, reportedly fled the bank on foot with an undetermined amount of money. No injuries have been reported in connection with the robbery, and no information was given about any vehicle or possible accomplices involved in the robbery.

Defensive driving class on Saturday

PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- A defensive driving course will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The class will be held at 1125 Stafford Blvd.


PECOS, Wed., Dec. 10, 2003 -- High Tues. 55. Low this morning 24. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Lows near 30. SE winds near 10 mph. Thurs.: Mostly sunny. Highs near 65. Light and variable winds. Thurs. night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. SE winds near 10 mph. Fri.: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 60s. South winds near 10 mph shifting to the west 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Friday night: Partly cloudy with isolated rain showers. Lows in the mid 30s.

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