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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, April 12, 2004

Reeves, Loving voters to decide runoff elections

Staff Writer

The early voting totals are in from voters in two Reeves County precincts and in Loving County, while other voters prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday in the run-off races for Reeves County commissioner and Loving County sheriff.

Reeves County election worker Martha Palomino said that early voting totals had reached 356 via personal appearance during the four days last week of early voting. 270 mail-in votes had been received thus far, Palomino said, and added that mail-in votes would be accepted up until the close of voting on Tuesday.

“So far it has gone very smoothly,” Palomino said. “We are just hoping that everybody comes with an ID tomorrow.”

The top two candidates in the races for Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 in Reeves County from the March 9 Democratic Party primary election earned places in the runoff, though not without controversy, while the Loving County sheriff’s race only had two candidates to begin with, but they ended up in Tuesday runoff after the March 9 vote ended in a tie. Current sheriff’s deputy Billy Hopper is running against Tom Jones for the seat, after both received 41 votes in the original vote last month. Hopper and Jones are seeking to replace incumbent sheriff Richard Putnam did not seek reelection this year.

Loving County Clerk Beverly Hansen said that they had received 47 votes from early ballots last week, in the sheriff’s race. Loving is Texas’ least-populated county.

As for Reeves County Roy Alvarado is facing Robert Natividad in the Precinct 1 race, after Natividad edged incumbent commissioner Felipe Arredondo by one vote for the second spot in Tuesday’s runoff. A recount of the ballots following the election showed no changes in the final vote totals.

Alvarado received 377 votes in the March primary, while Natividad picked up 209 votes to 208 for Arredondo.

In Precinct 3 Saul Herrera is facing Bailey Wheeless. Both are seeking to replace incumbent, Herman Tarin, who withdrew his bid for re-election in December, after originally filing to run for a fourth four-year term.

Wheeless received the most votes in the March 9 election, with 202, to 174 for Herrera. A total of nine candidates ran in the Precinct 3 primary, while five were entered in the Precinct 1 race.

Early voting for the runoff election was less than a third the total of the early voting for the March 9 election. Over 2,250 voters cast ballots early before last month’s election out of about 7,000 registered voters in Reeves County.

Election Day is tomorrow, with voting running from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. Voters must present a voting card or valid state issued id to participate.

Pecos, Balmorhea totals up, RCH, Toyah tax rebates fall

Staff Writer

April sales tax rebates were way up for the Town of Pecos City and for Balmorhea, and way down for the city of Toyah and the Reeves County Hospital District, according to figures released on Friday by State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office.

After opening 2004 with two months of lower rebate checks than in 2003, Pecos’ tax rebate for April, based on February’s sales, was up for the second month in a row. The city received $67,690 back from Austin, a jump of 37.8 percent from April a year ago, when the city received $49,120 as its 1 1/2 cent share of Texas’ 8 1/4 percent sales tax. Of that total, one sixth, or $11,282, goes to fund the Pecos Economic Development Corp. The sharp increase also put the city overall into the plus column for tax rebates for 2004. Pecos has gotten back $251,311 from the comptroller’s office for the first four months of the year, which is up 3.8 percent over the first four months of last year, when the city received $242,141.

Balmorhea’s numbers weren’t up as much as Pecos’ rebate totals were for the month, but the city still reported a double-digit increase in their tax collections during February.

Balmorhea got $619 back this month, up 22.36 percent from the $506 it received in 2003. However, for the year, Balmorhea has received $2,859 in sales tax rebates, which is still down 7.06 percent from the $3,018 total of 2003.

Toyah was the reverse, and remains up for the year despite seeing their tax rebate check for April drop by almost two-thirds from a year ago. Toyah got $191 back from Austin, a drop of 63.66 percent from last April’s $525 check. For the January-April reporting period, Toyah has gotten back $1,571, which is up 21.07 percent from last year’s $1,298. Meanwhile, the numbers for the Reeves County Hospital district were down both for the month and for the year. The hospital’s April check for $27,721 was down 30 percent from last year’s $39,693, and for the year so far, the hospital has gotten $110,920 back from its 1/2-cent sales tax, which is a drop of 11.89 percent from the $125,892 it got from Rylander’s office last year.

Statewide, the comptroller sent out just under $200 million in sales tax rebates to cities and counties in Texas last week, which was an increase of 11.17 percent from last year. In the Permian Basin, most cities joined Pecos in reporting increases from a year ago. Ector County received a check for just over $1 million, which was 3.64 percent above last year’s number. Midland’s check, for $1.52 million, was up a little over 10 percent from a year ago. Alpine’s check for $63,880 was up 12 percent from last year; Crane, whose check for $23,445 was 54.58 percent higher; Big Spring’s rebate check for $279,288 was up 24.7 percent; Fort Stockton’s check for $111,437 was up by 6.1 percent; Marfa’s $12,946 check was up 14.1 percent; Monahans, whose $66,172 check was 7 percent higher; and Wink, whose $4,124 check from Austin was up 10 3/4 percent.

Reporting slight declines in their tax rebate checks for the month were Andrews, whose $60,008 check was 6.4 percent below last April’s total; Kermit, which was down 3.4 percent with a 21,354 check; Presidio, whose $19,098 check was down by 2 percent; and Van Horn, which with a $24,398 rebate check saw a drop of just under 1 percent from April of 2003.

Andrews, Kermit and Wink collect a 1 percent sales tax, Odessa’s rate is 1.25 percent, Marfa and Van Horn have a 1.75 percent rate, and Big Spring, Fort Stockton, Monahans and Presidio collect a 2 percent sales tax rate.

Houston received the single largest check in April, for just under $27.5 million, which was up by 24.3 percent. Dallas had the second largest tax rebate check, for $13.5 million, which was up by 14.7 percent from April of 2003.

P-B-T board OKs funds to get grants for phones

Staff Writer

Every classroom in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will have a phone by the middle of the year, thanks to a grant procured through the district’s Technology Department.

“As far back as six years ago, the PBT District Technology Committee has included in our long-range plan for technology the request for telephones in each classroom,” Technology Director Jodi Exum told P-B-T school board members during their regular monthly meeting on Thursday.

Citing security and parental communication as the primary issues, the district committee continued to realize the need for these phones and made sure the IP phone system project was included in and remained in the plan as it was revised on numerous occasions, according to Exum.

“A funding source for the project haws always been our biggest question,” she said. Exum told the group that with E-rate, they were able to apply for many different eligible discounts, knowing that funding is not guaranteed, and understanding that it is contingent on federal dollars available for that particular E-rate year.

Funding of Internal Connections project (like the IP Phone project) is based on the free and reduced lunch status of the individual campuses. The higher your percentage, the higher your probability of getting funded, according to Exum.

“We include our matching percentage applied for in the budget each year to cover our portion, in the event we are funded,” she said.

Exum said under the installed phone system, “You can call their extension and leave a message. The phones won’t ring during classroom time.”

Board members approved the item and Love said that this would not replace the public address system.

Exum said that 18 months ago, the group wrote the IP Phone system project into the Year 6 (2003-2004) E-Rate applications for each campus.

“Last fall three campuses (Pecos Kindergarten, Bessie Haynes and Lamar AEP Center) were funded by E-rate for their 90 percent discounts toward the project,” said Exum.

“Since our matching E-rate money was in the budget, we had additional matching money with our other three campuses not getting funded, and with the superintendent’s approval, we went forward with the project,” said Exum.

The IP Telephony Systems for those three campuses are in the process of being installed this month.

Exum told board members that during Spring Break they had received late notice from E-rate that the other three campuses (Pecos High School, Crockett Middle School and Austin Elementary) had been funded for IP Telephony.

“The catch is that the project needs to be completed by June 30, or the funding goes away,” said Exum. “Also, we need additional district funds to complete the last three campuses as planned because the individual handsets for the IP Phone project are not eligible items for E-rate discounts,” she said.

Those need to be purchased by the district.

“Is this going to increase our operating expenses?” asked board member Lila Cerna. “No, it won’t, we’ll just have to do a line-item to replace the handsets, because they do wear out,” said business manager Cookie Canon.

“The district would need to put in $52,810 and there would be a phone installed in every classroom,” said PBT-ISD Superintendent Don Love. “That means spending those $52,000 or losing the $381,000,” he said.

Love said that he recommended that the board do it, and the action was approved. In other business on Thursday, board members discussed the elimination of the enhanced program, but ended up taking no action after both pros and cons about the program were presented to the board.

Bruce Shores, a parent of a P-B-T student, spoke up in behalf of the program. “We need this program so that the children will keep learning at a higher level,” he said.

Shores said that the parents and the school district had to do their best to enhance the student’s learning abilities.

Kindergarten Principal Robert Garrett told the board that they did not want to eliminate any programs.

“We want all of our teachers to teach the students at an enhanced level,” said Garrett. “When this program was implemented years ago, it worked back then, but now the teaching level is so high and the teachers are more experienced, have more resources and technology to help the students achieve their goals,” he said.

Garrett said that they wanted all the students to reach their potential.

“The item before is to eliminate the enhanced program,” said board president Billie Sadler.

However, no motion was made to eliminate the program, so in remains in place for now, according to Sadler.

Clerk’s office shut all day on Tuesday for runoff election

The Reeves County Clerk’s Office will be closed Tuesday for the Democratic primary run-off elections.

The office will resume normal hours on Wednesday.

Voters can cast their ballots n the Precinct 1, election at two sites, Box 2, at Odessa College and Box 11, Sidney/Sadler Community Center.

Voters in Precinct 3 will cast ballots at one of three sites; Box 5, Balmorhea Fire Department; Box 6, Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center; or Box 10, at the Reeves County Annex Community Council Room


High Sunday 50. Low this morning 35. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Areas of fog after midnight. Lows in the mid 30s. Northeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Areas of fog early in the morning. Highs in the mid 70s. South winds near 10 mph. Tuesday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 40s. Southeast winds near 10 mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 80s. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 50. Thursday: Mostly sunny. Highs near 90. Thursday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 50s.


Marvin Frazier and Johnny Cordero

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