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Thursday, January 30, 1997

Sotelo backs Bush's school tax reforms

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From Staff and Wire Reports

PECOS, January 30, 1997 - Like a traveling salesman, Gov. George W. Bush
is hitting the road in hopes of selling his property tax relief plan.

In Dallas today on the first leg of a five-city swing, Bush told
business executives, lawyers and educators that his proposal for school
funding is fairer than the current one.

``People aren't marching on the Capitol yet, but I am convinced if we
don't do something, they will be,'' he told a breakfast meeting

The governor will be heading for West Texas on Friday, and will present
his plan to local officials during an afternoon speech in Midland.

Bush wants the Legislature to cut local school property taxes by about
$2.8 billion. Those taxes currently total about $10 billion.

To pay for it, he proposes raising the 6¼-cent sales tax by a half-cent;
creating a new tax on business activity; and spending a $1 billion state
government surplus on a tax cut.

Each element of the plan has drawn fire from someone.

But with the fervor of a political campaign, Bush said he believes he's
on the right course. He said it's essential to lower homeowners' taxes
and make the state's business tax system fairer.

``A lot of people don't pay one dime to support our schools. And that's
not right,'' he said.

``The idea of owning a home is the cornerstone of the Texas dream. And
I'm worried about it. I'm treating this like a campaign on behalf of the

He spoke Wednesday to 2,000 school administrators, to a luncheon of the
Texas Association of Business and Chambers of Commerce, and to a Texas
Association of Broadcasters meeting.

Standing before a business group Wednesday, Bush sought to overcome
opposition to his new business tax.

``Needless to say, being a conservative Republican, I'm a little nervous
talking about taxes. But I think if we do have taxes, they ought to be
fair,'' he said.

Bush's effort to cut school property tax rates was supported by
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah superintendent Mario Sotelo, who said, "I really
think this is the fair way."

Sotelo argued that people who pay taxes through purchases, "have a
choice," to purchase or not, while property owners don't. "Something
needs to be done."

Until a few years ago, P-B-T had one of the area's highest tax rates.
But the school district has been able to maintain its property tax rate
over the past five years at $1.40 per $100 valuation, which is now about
average for school districts in the Permian Basin.

However, the combined school, city, county and hospital district tax
rate of $3 per $100 valuation within the Town of Pecos City remains one
of the highest property tax rates in Texas.

The governor noted that the new business tax - levied on sales over
$500,000, minus the cost of goods and capital invested - would replace
the current corporate franchise tax and the property tax on business

But he acknowledged that the new tax would hit many businesses -
including professionals such as lawyers - currently escaping business
taxes. And some of those interests are powerful forces when it comes to
swaying legislators.

``I hope you can think beyond your own balance sheet and think about the
good for Texas. Think about this fantastic state you call home. Think
about our schoolchildren,'' said Bush.

``I know there are some in this audience today who pay no taxes and are
anxious not to. To me, that's not fair,'' he added.

Bush said he also fears that relying too heavily on property taxes for
schools threatens to send the state back to court, where three school
funding systems have been ruled unconstitutional since 1989.

``If we do not act today, we'll be back in the courthouse,'' he warned.
``By relying on property taxes to pay for schools, Texas is shirking its
most important responsibility.''

"I think everybody needs to contribute," said Sotelo.

Bush said he worries, too, about the effects of doing nothing. ``If you
think property taxes are high now - and we don't do anything - they're
going to go through the roof.''

He is headed to public forums in Dallas and Tyler today; and in San
Angelo, Midland and Amarillo on Friday.

Bush's Midland appearance is sheduled for 3:45 p.m. at a Property Tax
Cut Forum at the Midland Center (East Bay) at 105 N. Main.

Area chambers of commerce and business leadersare are invited.

Federal court endures

tribulations with trials

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Staff Writer

PECOS, January 30, 1997 - Monday just wasn't a good day for federal
officials, who a little trouble bringing their criminal defendants to

At docket call Monday morning, Odessa Attorney Tony Chavez told District
Judge Royal Furgeson that his client failed to show up for trial before
a jury.

Court security officer Steve Balog called the name of the defendant,
Francisco Gallegos-Bueno, three times in the courthouse hallway. No

"The government has gone to considerable expense to have law enforcement
officers here today, and I regret that's happened," Furgeson said.
"Nothing can be done about that."

He forfeited Gallegos' $10,000 bond, for which he had deposited $1,000
cash, and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Then he sent home the 30-plus people who drove to Pecos from Iraan,
Alpine, Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, Monahans, Kermit and other towns in
the 10-county Pecos Division for jury duty.

U.S. Marshals are responsible for fugitive arrests, so Deputy Marshal
Alex Patnode received the warrant for Gallegos and began the process of
locating him. He is charged with possession with intent to distribute
marijuana, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. The
failure to appear charge would carry an additional penalty.

Then on Tuesday, Fernando Ramirez changed his mind about pleading guilty
to a drug charge and demanded a jury trial.

Later in the day, Patnode learned of an escape from Reeves County Jail
that involved a convicted escapee and two El Paso marshal's prisoners
awaiting trial.

Gerardo Jaquez-Cabello, 24, a Mexican citizen convicted of illegal entry
and then escape from the Presidio County Jail, crawled through an
unlocked door on the plumbing run to Tank #4 in the Reeves County Jail
sometime during the night Monday.

With the two El Paso prisoners, who were awaiting trial on charges of
possession of heroin and marijuana, Jaquez apparently climbed to the
roof through an air-conditioner duct.

Upon discovering the trio missing about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, jailers began
a search and found their jail clothes on the roof. Patnode said he
suspects someone threw street clothes on top of the jail for the
escapees to change into, then waited for them in a vehicle.

Jaquez had escaped from the Presidio County jail in a similar manner on
Aug. 21, 1996. He and Juan M. Zuniga-Urias climbed out on the roof,
jumped down and disappeared.

Jaquez was arrested shortly thereafter, but Zuniga escaped to Mexico,
where he is now reportedly in the Ojinaga jail on charges of shooting
his wife and stealing a car.

Just to add a little icing to the cake, as U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart
Platt, two members of his staff, interpreter Magda Montes and pretrial
services officer Terry Luck got stuck in the elevator this morning while
on their way to the second floor for an arraignment and detention

Judge Platt said that was a minor inconvenience, which he is getting
used to, because the small judge's elevator has stuck before.

Peer mediation program at PHS rated

a success, expansion set to begin

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Staff Writer

PECOS, January 30, 1997 - For the past few years, the use of peer
mediation groups to resolve conflicts between students has become more
and more commonplace across the country.

Here in Pecos, just such a program began last year, under a test program
requested by Attorney General Dan Morales.

"We were contacted by the Attorney General's office." PHS Coordinating
Supervisor Betsy Sikes explained. "We were one of six pilot schools that
were picked last year to try out the program, so we did, and it has been
very successful."

Sikes, along with PHS teachers Benny Hernandez, Judy Holland, Walter
Holland and Patricia Peacock attended a three-day training seminar in
August 1995 and set about selecting their mediation team that October.

More than 100 PHS students from the ninth through 12th grades were
interviewed by the supervisors last year and a 22-member team was
formed. Members were chosen who met the requirements of being able to
maintain confidentiality and really listen to others.

Academic excellence and participation in other extracurricular
activities were not requirements for selection, making the team truly
representative of the entire student body.

The 22 students attended a two-day-long Region 18 training session
conducted by Andy Sustaita and Steve Brooks.

Sikes points out that peer mediation is not a teen court. "All our
mediators are there for is to facilitate communication between the

"They have a script to go by," Sikes said. "The goal is to get the
disputants to come to their own resolution to their own problem,
whatever that might be."

When the students come to an agreement, they sign a contract, which
Sikes feels the teens are much more likely to honor than an order from
an adult, because they came to the conclusion themselves.

The mediations occur between the two students who are trying to work out
some type of dispute - often rumors or boyfriend-girlfriend problems.
They are assisted by two mediators, with no adult supervisor in the
room, although one of the faculty coordinators is present outside the
room "just in case," Sikes said.

She explained that no adult is in the room with the young people because
its easier for them to talk to each other that way, and, "The student
mediators that we have here are really, really good; they do a great

Students may be referred to mediation by a teacher, Principal Alice
Duerksen, or by the students themselves. Sikes estimates the program was
used 20 to 30 times last year, and most of last year's team got to do a
mediation. So far this year, the team has only been called upon a few

Although that means there have been less disputes, the student mediators
are anxious to participate, and help their fellow teens, she says.

Sikes can already see a very positive result that she attributes to the
availability of mediation. "It seems like a couple of years ago, people
were yelling at each other in the halls between classes, and I just
don't hear or see that anymore, so I think the program really has
helped." She also believes there have been less physical fights since it

The students who are making the effort to promote peace and
understanding among their peers this year are Kristen Carreron, Corina
Carrillo, Josh Casillas, Kimberly Clark, Jake Fowler, Myra Fuentes,
Beverly Gallego, Ivan Guebarra, John Gutierrez, Cole Hilliard, Dallas
Jerrett, Sara Matta, Nestor Mendoza, Maribel Pena and Chris Ryan.

Peer Mediation will soon be available at the junior high school level as
well. At Zavala Middle School, teachers Ronnie Daniel, Cindy Duke,
Steele Ewing, Robin Land and Nancy Twining have undergone training and
plan to begin choosing their team of students in early February,
according to Principal Don Love.

At Crockett Middle School, Principal Danny Rodriguez says that faculty
coordinators Kim Anderson, Darrell Ericson, and Brenda Jackson hope to
start their program "as soon as possible."


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Ernesto Dutchover

Ernesto Dutchover, 75, died Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Reeves County
Rosary will be held on Friday, at 7 p.m. at Christ the King Catholic
Church in Balmorhea.

Mass is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Christ the King Catholic
Church with burial at Balmorhea Cemetery.

He was born Nov. 7, 1921 in Balmorhea, U.S. Army veteran, a lifetime
resident and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Louisa S. Dutchover; three sons, Adan S. and
Raymond S. Dutchover of Odessa, Daniel S. Dutchover of Balmorhea; three
daughters, Adela J. Roman and Yolanda F. Dominguez of Odessa, Billie
Faye D. Valdez of Lovington, N.M.; three brothers, Edward Dutchover, Sr.
of Fort Davis, Wilfred Dutchover of Morton, Alfred Dutchover of Indio,
Calif.; five sisters, Vicky Solano of Levelland, Elvira Gonzales of
Rupert, Idaho, Lovilia Salcido of Odessa, Lupe Mendoza of Pecos and
Elena Bentley of Ft. Davis; 16 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Elias Chavez

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Elias Chavez, 73, died Monday, Jan. 27 at the Kermit Health Care Center.
Services were held today at 11:30 a.m. at Evangelical Church of Jesus
Christ with Pastor Pedro Acosta officiating. Burial was in Kermit

He was born April 10, 1923 in Marfa and was a retired laborer.

Survivors include his wife, Maria Chavez of Kermit; two sons, Israel and
Alfredo Chavez of Kermit; one daughter, Elia Anaya of Kermit; four
brothers, Ricardo Chavez of Odessa, Miguel, Juan and Abel Chavez of
Pecos; four sisters, Juana Sanchez of San Antonio, Mexico, Maria Tercero
of Odessa, Eva Vaeza of Pecos, Pabla Baltazar of Midland; nine
grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


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High Wednesday 58, low last night 25. Tonight, fair. Low around 30.
Light wind. Friday, mostly sunny. High in the mid 70s. Southwest wind
10-20 mph and gusty.
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