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Archive 2004

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Reynolds, Upchurch spar over woman's stay in RCJ

By BRENDEN BRIGGS
Staff Writer

The status of a woman currently being held in Reeves County Jail has become the source of a dispute between 143rd District Attorney Randy Reynolds and Hal Upchurch, who is challenging Reynolds for the job in next Tuesday's Democratic Party primary election.

Upchurch, who served as 143rd District Attorney between 1988 and 1990, placed ads in both of the local papers serving the district, stating that Reynolds had allowed Maria Carrera to "sit in jail waiting for the district attorney to decide whether or not to dismiss her case or present it to the grand jury."

Reynolds denies the charge, and has begun running ads stating that Upchurch's claim that the choice for the delay was his, is not true.

Reynolds states in his ad that Carrera violated her parole from prison when she was charged with assault on an elderly person and arrested on September 18. David Watson, an attorney with the Midland County District Attorney's Office, Felony Division, said this morning that when a person on parole is accused of another crime, the Texas Department of Corrections places a hold on their release.

"It is not unheard of for the TDC to allow a person to wait some time before deciding how to proceed in a parolee's case. They might be full and awaiting a spot to open up in a state prison, or the defendant's lawyer may have delayed the case," Watson said in today's interview.

"Don't forget, however, that while she is in jail, the time she accumulates counts toward her parole violation sentence, and depending on whether or not she was allowed to make bail before she was served with on the violation of parole, the time could count toward the new charge if she is found guilty," Watson said. Watson added that the district attorney has no influence in parole proceedings, "the TDC moves at its own pace, and neither her lawyer nor the DA has significant influence over the progress in the case. If it the delay is due to her own lawyer's actions, remember she is serving time in a facility that is in close proximity to her family and friends, a facility that probably allows visitation."

Officials with the Texas Department of Corrections did not return calls as of early this afternoon when asked about their opinion of the situation. However in an interview with the Monahans News, Upchurch stated that "Maria is being held on a parole violation and if she is convicted on the assault charge they will revoke her probation. If not they won't. So the Parole Board is another in the list of agencies waiting on the district attorney."

Along with the dispute over the status of Carrera, the two-term district attorney is also dealing with an accusation by a Ward County commissioner that Reynolds paid his Ward County taxes with a hot check.

In a March 2 letter to the Monahans News, Ward County Commissioner Kathy Fausett, stated that Randy Reynolds had paid his "property taxes with hot checks."

Reynolds has since responded to the incident in a letter sent to Ward County Tax Assessor-Collector Dolores Fine. Reynolds stated in his letter, which also was sent to the Monahans News and the Pecos Enterprise, that due to the recent stroke suffered by his wife, his accounts were not in order, and that enclosed Fine would find a money order for the owed balance.

"I used this [particular] account because it appeared that the funds were sufficient. However, this account has automatic debits that total over $1,500 per month and I had not allowed for them in my calculations," Reynolds said in his letter.

Lisa Reynolds is currently in physical therapy, after suffering a severe stroke on Dec. 14. Reynolds said in a letter last week that she is moving her right leg and right arm slightly and has limited speech capabilities.

P-B-T OK on new school food rules

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD is currently in compliance with a new policy on school cafeteria menus recommended by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs on Wednesday.

Combs announced the new Texas Public School Nutrition Policy for all Texas public schools participating in the federal child nutrition programs. The policy becomes effective Aug. 1, 2004 for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and the After School Snack Program.

"This policy is the result of months of collaboration with experts and interested individuals around the state who consider children's health and education a top priority," Combs said. "We want to ensure that foods served in our schools are nutritious and balanced, and we are dedicated to promoting an environment that nurtures both mental and physical development."

"In the future they want to try to reduce the intake and cut down on sugar and fatty items," said P-BT ISD food Services Director Helen Miller.

The policy limits the number of grams of fat and sugar Texas schoolchildren may have each week, and allows a phase-in period to eliminate deep-fat frying in food preparation for meals, a 1a carte and snack items.

In addition, portion sizes for food items such as chips, cookies, bakery items and frozen desserts at elementary, muddle and high schools are limited.

Miller said that right now the district is in compliance with everything that Combs has recommended.

"Most of the things she is recommending, we are already practicing," said Miller. "We bake a lot of our products and the intake portions are what is being recommended."

The policy also limits the sale of foods that compete with a school's operation of the breakfast, lunch or after school snack programs. A school can lose up to $1.20 at breakfast and $2.19 at lunch in federal reimbursements for each meal lost to a competitive food sale.

"A majority of the state's schools will be soliciting contract bids for food and other supplies for the next school year within the next few weeks, and we wanted to release the new policy now to give them plenty of time to plan and prepare for any modifications," Combs said.

Miller said that the new policy would not affect the snack bar located next to the Pecos High School cafeteria.

"We do sell candy and chips in the snack bar, but we'll still have it open," said Miller. "The vendors will have to be in compliance or we won't be able to purchase from them."

Miller said that there were some items available at the snack bar with minimal nutritional value. "They'll have to change some of their products to meet specifications," she said. "By the school year 2007-2008, it has to be in place or we won't be able to purchase certain items from them."

Miller added that while they are encouraging school districts to serve more fruits and vegetables, some of these are seasonal products and can only be purchased during a certain time. "Around here sometimes it's hard to purchase certain fruits or fresh vegetables," she said.

"We realize it will take time for schools and the food industry to make the necessary changes to products and recipes, so we want to use this policy to phase in better nutritional guidelines," Combs said.

"I appreciate all of Commissioner Combs' hard work in developing a policy that will help our children learn how to make wiser food choices during the school day," said Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. "She was the first state official to actively support my legislative efforts of curbing obesity among our public school children through proper nutrition, and I look forward to the expertise and assistance she will provide the Joint Interim Study Committee on Nutrition and Health in Public Schools."

Miller said that these new eating habits would have to start at home. "Some of this stuff will have to start at home, we

can't do everything and it won't be done overnight," she said. Miller said that some students were also "picky eaters," but that she had seen some changes in the past few years. "The students are more health conscious now, especially the athletes," she said.

"More and more students are eating broccoli and carrots," said Miller. The cost of providing a good, healthy meal for the students will not go up. "Of course, with the economy, everything will go up and food is just one of those things that will go up in price eventually," she said.

Miller said that the district would not have to purchase any new equipment either.

"We can continue using the equipment we have and still be in compliance," she said.

All the school vending machines are in compliance as well.

Hard candy, jellybeans and gummy candy are all items that the district cannot sell. "But there are some candies that are available to the students that are in compliance, such as those with peanuts, peanut butter, chocolate and some others," she said.

"The more nutritious type of candy bars," said Miller. "There are some snack cakes that are not very nutritional, but we have the granola bars and the nutritional snack bars," she said.

Miller said that surprisingly a lot of the students purchased these type of snack cakes. "The students also purchase a lot of Gatorade and fruit juices," said Miller. "Not many students bring carbonated beverages to school," she said. "There are more students now that nutritionally-minded," she said.

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, commissioner, Texas Department of Health, said, "Childhood obesity and obesity-related problems are reaching epidemic levels in Texas. If we don't act now to tackle these problems, both individual Texans and the state will be faced with a healthcare crisis of enormous proportions.

"The nutrition policy from the Texas Department of Agriculture is an important first step, and I applaud the efforts and contributions of all those who are working to ensure a healthy food environment in our schools," Sanchez said.

Jose Montemayor, commissioner, Texas Department of Insurance, said, "Future healthcare costs for obesity and related diseases are expected to increase dramatically, having a direct impact on insurance premiums paid by individuals and Texas businesses. By addressing the problem of obesity now in our schools, we are not only promoting and encouraging a healthier lifestyle in our students, but also we are trying to keep future healthcare costs under control. I fully support the Texas Department of Agriculture and all who worked on this policy." A copy of the revised policy is available on TDA's Web site at www.agr.state.tx.us.

Texas Public School Nutrition Policy

Elementary Schools

No Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV) or candy at any time. No competitive foods at any time.

French fries may not exceed 3 ounces per serving, may only be served once a week, and students may only purchase one serving at a time.

Middle and Junior High Schools

No FMNVs or candy until after last lunch period. No competitive foods during meal times.

French fries may not exceed 3 ounces per serving, may only be served three times a week, and students may only purchase one serving at a time.

High Schools

No FMNVs during meal times in areas where reimbursable meals are served and/or consumed.

No competitive foods during meal times in areas where reimbursable meals are served and/or consumed.

New contracts starting March 3, 2004 and contract renewals must expressly prohibit the sale of sugared, carbonated beverages in containers larger than 12 ounces.

By the 2005-06 school year, the goal is to have no more than 30 percent of the beverages available in vending machines be sugared, carbonated soft drinks.

French fries may not exceed 3 ounces per serving, and students may only purchase one serving at a time.

All Grade Levels Should eliminate deep-fat frying as method of on-site preparation. Portion size restrictions on chips, certain snacks and sweets, milk and fruit drinks.

Limits on fats and sugar per serving.

Fruits and vegetables should be offered daily on all points of service. Must offer 2 percent, 1 percent or skim milk at all points where milk is served.

Beginning with the 2005-06 school year, should include a request for trans fat information in all product specifications and, by 2007-08, reduce the purchase of any products containing trans fats.

By the 2006-07 school year, all fruit and/or vegetable juices should contain 100 percent real fruit and/or vegetable juices.

PHS class of 1989 seeks information to reunion in July

The Pecos High School Class of 1989 is planning a reunion for this summer and is looking for people to help with the planning of the event, in addition to looking for contact information for the members of that graduating class.

The event is preliminarily planned for the Fourth of July week. For additional information please contact Michelle Romero at 956-277-0684 or email her at michelleromero@yahoo.com.

Obituaries

Clois Clark and Manuel Rivera



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