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Top Stories from 1995

Classic Cable buys United Video

PECOS, Nov. 6, 1995 - The sale of United Video Cable's area systems to a cable company based in Austin has been completed.

UVC's systems in Pecos, Barstow and other Permian Basin
towns were taken over by Universal Communications, dba
Classic Cable, of Austin last Wednesday. The name change
showed up on the Pecos system's Ch. 37 program guide on
Friday, though other WC references remained on Ch. 6.

"We officially became Classic Cable on Nov. 1 and are just
waiting to see what changes the company wants to make," said
United Video Cablevision general manager in Monahans, Bob

Business has been going on as usual at the Monahans office.
"This has been a long waiting process and the company hasn't
put any plans yet." said Whitley.

Thirteen systems were bought from United Video Cablevision
which serves several area towns, including Pecos, Crane,
Kermit and Monahans.

Connecticut-based United Video Cablevision purchased the
Pecos cable system in 1985 from Warner-Amex Cable. UV shut
down its local office at Seventh and Cedar streets two years
ago, consolidating its area personnel in Monahans. A payment
station and one service employee were kept locally.

Town of Pecos City Council members are hoping Classic Cable
will reopen an office here in the future. However, UC
threatened to bring legal action against the city earlier
this year if such a move was mandated by the council, saying
an office is not included~ in the barter agreement.

A spokesman for Classic Cable was unavailable for comment
on the sale today, but company officials earlier this year
said they were considering some changes to the current
channel lineup, including the removal of MTV and the Playboy
Channel from the system. Both channels were added by
WarnerAmex to the Pecos system 13 years ago.

Electronic news survey set

PECOS, Nov. 7, 1995 - News junkies who have access to a computer running Windows may be interested in an electronic publishing venture the Enterprise is launching with a month-long trial survey.

With the cooperation of askSam Systems, we will deliver a
3.5-inch computer disk loaded with Associated Press stories,
commentary, press releases and local news to 10 of our
subscribers daily.

In return, we ask that you fill out a brief questionnaire
about the service: how you rate it, what you would like to
see added, any suggestions you have.

You will need an IBM or 100 percent compatible computer with
at least a 386 processor, 4 MB of RAM, 6 MB of free disk
space, Windows 3.1 and DOS 3.1 (or higher).

We will provide an askSam Viewer disk that you install on
your hard disk. Then you can read the data disk directly
from the a: drive each day.

Call Peggy McCracken at 445-5475 if you'd like to
participate. We are limiting the survey to 10 participants,
so call early to reserve your slot.

New members, lawsuit on appraisal plate

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 9, 1995 - Two new members were appointed to the Reeves County Appraisal Review Board Wednesday during the Reeves County Appraisal District Board's monthly meeting, and members also heard that the district's problems with an ongoing lawsuit may be over.

Members met at the district's Cypress Street office, where
they unanimously voted to appoint Terry Burkholder to the
one-year, unexpired term of Joe Smith, who has moved, and
named Jess Stevens to fill the 2-year term left vacant by
the retirement of Bob McNutt.

Both members were nominated by RCAD Board Chairwoman Valera
Gatewood, who noted that she had spoken to each of the new
appointees prior to Wednesday's meeting.

Board members were also told the district may finally see an
end to the pending lawsuit by former employee Estella

Chief Appraiser Carol King Markham presented the board with
a letter from the Texas Commission on Human Rights, in which
the commission said "Examination of the evidence indicates
that there is no reasonable cause to believe that there is a
violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights as
amended. No finding is made to any other issue raised by or
which may be construed to~ have been raised by the subject
(Ornelas) complaint."

Ornelas alleged in her suit that she was being discriminated
on a racial basis after her employment status was changed to
part-time from full-time, instead of changing the status of
another employee, who had less seniority.

"Is that the end of that?," asked board member Helen

"We hope so," said Markham.

No action was taken on the matter.

Also discussed, but no action taken was the agreement
between the district and Winn's Stores, Inc. in which the
RCAD based on 45 percent of the Winn's book value for its
inventory in 1993 and 1994, with the adjustment making the
1993 value $80,849 and 1994 $51,904.

"If you remember, we agreed last month to take the Winn's
attorney's proposal," said Markham, ~I just wanted to let
you (board members) know it's in the works."

San Antonio-based Winn's filed for bankruptcy and closed
their stores, including the Eddy Street store in Pecos, in

In other business, board members listened to a presentation
by representatives from Pritchard and Abbott, Inc.,
appraisers for Reeves County.

Board members were given a demonstration of equipment run by
their designed mapping software to accommodate the
district's appraisal process.

Patrick Laughlin of P&A, Inc. said, "The information already
exists in the (district's current) real estate software," if
members decided to go with the designed mapping software.

Members unanimously voted to purchase the "Pack Rat"
software package for $1,200 for their records management,
which is currently being required by all appraisal districts
by the Secretary of State.

"The mapping is not mandated at this point," said Markham,
"and the records management is, so I think we really need~~~
to focus on this this"

Board members did not raise any questions on the proposed
expenses and balances report for October or progress report
and both were approved unanimously.~

Water district opponents want voice

Staff Writer
BARSTOW, Nov. 10, 1995 - Ward County Irrigation District No. l, which has been the subject of questions over spending policies in recent weeks, has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday it Barstow in which opponents may seek a bigger voice in the district activities.

Consideration for the addition of property is the main topic
of the special meeting called by the irrigation district,
which covers western Ward County in the Barstow area.

The board will meet on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the district
office in Barstow.

The governing body will discuss the addition of certain
territory to the irrigation district before considering the
annexation of certain territories within the boundaries of
the WCID#1.

Controversy has surrounded the district since Ward County
Commissioner Ben Villalobos sent out a letter last month,
which questioned the expenditure by the district for at
least four pieces of artwork over the past 11 years.

Funds from some of the items, and other purchases by the
district, went toward charitable organizations or local
youth activities.

The district's lawyer claimed the purchases were not
expenditures, but rather "investments," during an earlier
interview. Now, some who have challenged the explanation
wish to partake in board decisions, which would call for the
annexation of town site territories in Barstow.

A letter from Michael B. Brecher of the Reports and
Supervision Team in the district Administration Division of
the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to WCID#1
Board President Donald Morton stated that the district does
not have authority to purchase items not directly related to
district operations.

Terry Hadley of TNRCC told the Enterprise, "There is nothing
in our regulations that would permit such expenditures."

The letter stated, "In the process of our review an outside
inquiry brought to our attention that the District has made
donations of public funds that have benefited private
interests. Please be informed that the District is without
the authority to take this action. The District may expend
public funds only for the purposes for which it is created
in accordance with Article 3, Section 52, of the Texas
Constitution," and asks that the board review and evaluate
its policies in regards to donations.

The issue arose after Villalobos questioned in a press
release a $25,000 bronze sculpture of the Judge Roy Bean
Replica and several other artwork bought at prices totalling
over $8,000 made between 1984 and this year.

Auditor for the district for the last three years, Randy
Graham of Pattee, Graham and Company, said in early October
that the district was, "a well run organization," per the
last audits he has performed. A copy of the letter from the
TNRCC to Morton was mailed no Graham's auditing firm.

The water district will undergo an audit from an independent
auditor who specializes in audits of governmental bodies the
second week of December, at the request of 143rd District
Attorney John Stickels.

Stickels said he had ordered the special audit after several
citizens had addressed him with the questionable purchases.

Barstow citizens also alleged that the district was not
posting bid notices for maintenance contract services, which
WCID#I Attorney William Kerr, Sr. defended in an earlier

Court questions Bang vote

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 13, 1995 - Reeves County Commissioners spent most of the morning reviewing an Attorney General's opinion after County Commissioner for Precinct 2, Dr. WJ. Bang, voted to abstain during a voting procedure.

The question arose during a discussion on approving and
paying semi-monthly bills, and dealt with bills paid by the
county relating to medical services.

"Dr. Bang has to sign an affidavit to abstain from voting,
anybody who has a business interest has to file an
affidavit," said County Attorney Bill Weinacht.

An opinion from the Attorney General's Office quoted Chapter
171 of the Local Government Code. It states that
establishing financial disclosure and recusal requirements
for a local public officer who has a substantial interest in
a business entity that will receive an economic benefit from
an official action by the government body on which the
officer serves.

"You can't make that decision because you are the one making
the claim, since it's the commissioners court who approves
the bills," said Weinacht.

"It's not very often I have bills in here," said Dr. Bang,
who was first elected to the commissioners' court in 1990.

Weinacht told the commissioners that in 1993 when he took
office he had provided all of them with a packet stating the
Attorney General's Opinion on this very subject.

Independent Auditor Dan Painter was also questioned about
whether or not he had caught the bills presented by Dr. Bang.

"I don't catch those things unless you the court, tell me
what you are looking for," said Painter.

"I put this particular item in your packets so that you
would know the proper procedure, because I don't know when
you submit bills, I don't look at them," said Weinacht.

"What we have to do is set up proper internal control," said
County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "The issue here is to do this
right and if there are any questions or concerns to voice
them now."

"Commissioner Precinct 1 Lupe Garcia had done some work for
the sheriff's department and Lynn (Owens, county auditor)
denied his claim," said Weinacht.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Bernardo Martinez was demanding that
Dr. Bang pay back the money, since ~he had been voting
illegally for some time.

"We need to look at that rule very carefully," said Weinacht.

The current bills presented by Dr. Bang totaled $2,478. The
total for all medical expenses presented during the
1994-1995 fiscal years was a little over $15,000.

The Attorney General's opinion went on to state that, "An
official who knowingly fails to comply with these
requirements commits an offense punishable as a Class A

However, the opinion also states that "A violation of
chapter 171 does not make the action of the governing body
voidable unless it would not have been approved without the
vote of the person who violated the chapter."

The statement Bang signed stated, "I am filing this
Affidavit of Financial Interest before a vote or decision on
any matter involving my business and I will declare my
interest and abstain from voting on any matter submitted to
the Commissioner's Count that will have a special economic
effect on my business."

In other business the court voted to advertise for
engineering services.

"The County of Reeves has recently received a contract award
from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
(TDHCA) for sewer system improvements," Galindo said.
"Accordingly, the county is seeking to contract with a
qualified engineer/engineering firm (registered to practice
in the State of Texas) to prepare all preliminary and final
design plans and specifications, and to conduct all
necessary interim and final inspections."

Request for Proposal for engineering services may be
obtained at Galindo's of rice on the first floor of the

"We usually send out RFP's to at east five different firms,"
said Galindo.

Additional support staff positions at the Reeves County
Detention Center to be assigned in San Antonio was approved.
The entry level position will start with a salary of $15,000
per year.

A ratification of an agreement between Reeves County and the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice was approved.

"The renewal notice has not been received, and TDCJ requires
that they give 60-day notice on whether we want to extend
the contract or cancel it," said Galindo.

Under personnel and ~ salary changes, Mario Gonzales was
hired at the Reeves County Detention Center at a salary of
$15,000 per year; Jerry Ornelas and Alvin Johnson at the
Juvenile Probation Department on a part-time, as needed
basis, at a salary of $5.50 per hour and Sabrina Brown at
the Reeves County Sheriff's Department at a salary of $6.50
an hour. She is a licensed jailer.

Commissioners also approved reports from various departments
before adjourning for lunch. They resumed their meeting at
1:30 p.m.

Aftershock hits Alpine area

ALPINE, Texas (AP) Nov. 13, 1995 - A small earthquake that struck just before noon Sunday was an aftershock to a stronger tremblor that shook the area seven months ago, a government geophysicist said.

The tremor, which had a magnitude of 3.6, hit about 11:45

No injuries or damage were reported, said Alpine Police Sgt.
Harold Frahm.

The epicenter was 20 miles east-southeast of Alpine, which
was rocked by a 5.6-magnitude quake on April 13, the
strongest tremor to hit Texas in more than 60 years.

There were no reports of Sunday's quake being felt in the
Pecos area, as there had been back in April when the initial
tremor struck. The epicenter of the quake is ab~~~~out 95
miles south of Pecos.

Sunday's quake was another of many aftershocks since, said
Stewart Koyanagi, a geophysicist for the U.S. Geological
Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden,

"We later had a report of another tremor," he said. "But we
never found it."
He said aftershocks can last for an indefinite amount of
time after the original shock.

The April quake was felt as far away as San Antonio,
Dallas-Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and much of New Mexico. It
was the biggest in Texas since Aug. 16, 1931, when a
6.0-magnitude quake struck Valentine, about 50 miles west of
Alpine, authorities said.

A 5.6 quake is considered a moderate tremor, and the April
13 shockwave did cause some structural damage to the
Methodist Church and other buildings in the Alpine and
Marathon areas. Each point represented a 10-fold increase in
the power of the earthquake. The 1994 Los Angeles earthquake
was a magnitude 6.6 tremblor, while the 1989 quake which
struck south of San Francisco was a magnitude 7 quake.

The Big Bend quake was created by a series of fault lines
that run underneath the mountains of West Texas and through
the Permian Basin in a southeast to northwest direction.

County employees restricted in elections

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 14, 1995 - Reeves County Commissioners have adopted a resolution to prohibit county employees working for elected and/or appointed officials from running for office.

Commissioners approved the resolution during Monday's
afternoon session of the regular Commissioner's Court

"This issue came up because (Felipe) Villalobos is planning
to run for sheriff and the language in this personnel policy
is not very good," said County Attorney Bill Weinacht.

Villalobos, a former sheriff's deputy, is currently employed
at the Reeves County Detention Center.

He filed his treasurer's designation with the county
cle~rk's office earlier this month as a first step towards a
formal campaign.

"We need to clarify this policy to let him make the decision
on whether or not he still wants to run and what his options
are," said We~inacht.

The court opted to adopt a revised personnel policy with the
clarification of Section 2.05.

The resolution as adopted states, "It was the intention of
the Reeves County Commissioner's' Court, by adoption of the
Reeves County Personnel Policy, to prohibit Reeves County
employees from running for of office in a partisan election,
as authorized by the Office of the Attorney General~ of the
State of Texas in Opinion No, JM-521 (1986). Therefore, it
shall be the Order of this Court~~~ that a county employee,
other than an elected official, may not be a candidate for
elective office in a partisan election."

A ~partisan election is an election in which candidates are
to be nominated or elected to represent a party whose
candidates for presidential electors received votes in the
last preceding election at which presidential electors were

This clarification of section 2.05 by the Reeves County
Commissioner's Court was included in the Reeves County
Personnel Policy.

"Our intent was to keep harmony within the employees," said
Commissioner Precinct 4 Bernardo Martinez.

"It's impossible to keep politics out of the facility if you
have a possible candidate there," said Weinacht. "Attorney
opinion prohibits employees from participating in a partisan

"Everyone at the RCDC is happy the way things are out there,
without politics," said Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin.

"Do you remember a few months back, we begged the sheriff to
keep politics out of the Reeves County Detention Center"
said Commissioner Precinct 1 Lupe Garcia.

The opinion, issued by then-Attorney General Jim Mattox nine
years ago, does state that, "The commissioners court has no
power to interfere in the hiring decisions made by other
county officers; therefore, it may not require those county
officers to terminate an employee who becomes a candidate
for partisan political office. This policy does not affect
the employment decisions of elected constitutional officers
other than members of the commissioners court."

However, Reeves County Detention Center Warden Joe Trujillo
and Sheriff Andy Gomez both signed affidavits accepting the
Commissioners Court's clarification of section 2.05 of the
Reeves, County Personnel Policy as the personnel policy of
the Reeves County Detention Center and Sheriff's office.

The affidavit states: "Therefore, an employee in the Reeves
County Detention Center or sheriffs department, may not be a
candidate for elective office in a partisan election."

Villalobos was unavailable for comment on the decision as of
early this afternoon.

In other business Monday afternoon, action regarding the
contracting of an independent auditor for Reeves County was

Commissioners questioned auditor Dan Painter on why he did
not audit revolving loan funds made the Pecos Industrial

"His response was that they were private entities and he
didn't have a right to audit them," said County Judge Jimmy
B. Galindo.

"The county has access to the records but it was not a part
of Painter's contract," said County Auditor Lynn Owens.

"It (the contract) clearly states that Painter will audit
grants or state money, it wasn't government funds or
property tax money," said Galindo.

He also questioned whether or not Painter would charge extra
for auditing these revolving loan funds.

The revolving loan funds which are in default are in dire
need of auditing, according to Galindo.

"I believe it should have been done as part of your scope of
work," said Galindo.

Painter indicated that he would audit the revolving loans
funds at no additional cost if the proper paperwork was made
available to him.

During the discussion of contracting an independent auditor,
Commissioner Precinct 4 Bernardo Martinez commented on why
Painter didn't catch the medical bills submitted by
Commissioner Precinct 2 W.J. Bang.

"He didn't catch those medical bills," said Martinez. "And I
want him (Bang) to say that he is not turning in his salary
back to the county like everybody believes."

Dr. Bang is on the staff at Reeves County Hospital, through
which the commissioners court contracts for medical services
for the county, the downtown jail and the Reeves County
Detention Center. He had been voting on the payment of
medical bills by the county, for which he submitted bills
totalling about $15,000 during fiscal 1994-95.

Dr. Bang sought to abstain on the latest vote, but was told
by Weinacht he needed to sign an Affidavit of Financial
Interest stating the economic conflict as a reason for the

Also on Monday, commissioners agreed that any improvements
at Greenwood and Mount Evergreen cemeteries should be done
through the Road and Bridges Administration.

"We've been receiving bills from improvements supposedly
made to the water well located out there," said Galindo.
"But they weren't done through this office," he said.

"Reeves County agrees to maintain the well and provide
the~~, we need to notify them stating that we're the ones to
initiate any improvements," said Galindo.

"If they have some problem they need to address it to Russ
Salcido or otherwise they are not our expenses," he said.

Commissioners listened to a presentation by Hogan Company
regarding grant money available for Colonias water and
wastewater disposal services.

Bob Hogan, president of the company, made the presentation
strictly as an informative session.

Commissioners thanked Hogan for his time, but declined to
pursue the program further, since the county is not in the
water business.

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