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But if a bill passed Wednesday by the Texas House of Representatives
becomes law, the penalty for painting graffiti could be more severe.
Juvenile Probation Officer Alberto Alvarez said that fences in nicer
neighborhoods have been hit lately, including one at the home of Dr.
Under current law, marking someone's property without permission is
considered criminal mischief, but the new bill makes it a separate crime.
Criminal mischief can be a misdemeanor or a felony, punishable by up to
life in prison, based on the amount of damage.
The bill would continue to base punishment on the amount of damage
caused by the graffiti. It also would make it a state jail felony to
mark places of worship and human burial, public monuments or community
centers that provide medical, social or educational programs.
The bill, approved on a voice vote Wednesday, goes to the Senate.
Even with stiffer penalties, law enforcement officers still have to
catch those doing the damage and prove it in court, said Alvarez.
He said he has used up three rolls of Polaroid film taking photos of the
graffiti and studying it to determine who may be responsible. Taggers
leave their initials or nicknames that often are tied to gangs, he said.
With escalating graffiti, the community should be concerned about
related gang activity, Alvarez said, quoting an assistant district
attorney who spoke in Pecos recently.
"She recommended to clean it up immediately; it is going to get worse,"
Saragosa Park "is a mess," Alvarez said, and taggers are now hitting the
adjacent Saragosa Hall, which they have left untouched until recently.
The Evening Optimist Club has kept that building painted and in good
Merchants are not allowed to sell spray paint to anyone under 18, but
Alvarez said he has seen juveniles buying it.
"We are also aware some older people will buy it for them," said County
Court-at-law Judge Lee Green.
Alvarez said that a large number of adult inhalant abusers make it
available to young people.
"There are growing signs of inhalant abuse," he said. "We had two picked
up yesterday for possession of spray paint."
Juveniles who abuse spray paint need treatment, but no facilities are
available in this area, Alvarez said.
Green said it is hard to catch juveniles painting graffiti. In fact,
only three have been caught, and they were sentenced to clean up the
mess they made at Pecos Kindergarten, plus pay restitution.
Much of the tagging is done by problem juveniles who have moved here to
live with elderly grandparents or aunts and uncles, Alvarez said. They
bring their gang problems with them.
"Some of the biggest things done last summer were (by) migrant workers,"
Signs they painted do not apply to this area, he said. They were related
to Mission, in the Rio Grande Valley.
Locals don't like the rival signs, and they will X them out and paint
their own signs, he said.
Los Angeles has a 24-hour cleanup program using juvenile offenders, he
"We can have juveniles doing cleanup," Green said. "Some are pretty good
He questioned whether they could go onto private property to remove
signs they have left, but admitted it might be considered part of the
restitution ordered by the court.
"That's something to be worked out," he said. "It is of benefit to the
Proving who painted the graffiti is the problem, Alvarez said. They
paint after school and during the night, but not necessarily after
curfew, he said.
"You have to have constant surveillance to see if you can catch some of
them. You could put a surveillance camera in businesses to see who is
buying a lot of spray paint."
The West of the Pecos Museum, located at First and Cedar streets, is in
the process of renovating a building at the corner of First and Oak
streets that will house an exhibit of an authentic chuck wagon, complete
with all the gear that would have been used by a cook to feed cow
punchers on a roundup.
Tom and Evelyn Linebery donated the chuck wagon to the museum about a
year ago, according to Mike Burkholder, West of the Pecos Museum Board
The chuck wagon had been in Evelyn Linebery's family, the Scarborough's,
for more than 100 years, Burkholder said.
Several years ago Hershal Cox donated the building, located on the west
side of Oak Street, that will house the chuck wagon to the museum.
Last week, during a visit with museum officials and Bill Oden, who is
overseeing the building's renovation, Tom Linebery agreed to donate
$17,000 for the project through a family foundation.
When completed, the building will include skylights in the roof and
observation windows in its walls. The chuck wagon and all its gear will
be displayed in the building as if it were in service out on the range.
Visitors will be able to look through the observation windows and view
the exhibit, Burkholder said.
"We're very excited about this project and we're looking forward to its
completion," said Dorinda Venegas, West of the Pecos Museum curator.
"This will be an important addition to our displays.
"We are very fortunate to have such a generous benefactor."
Museum officials expect the project to be ready for visitors by the July
4 rodeo weekend.
The combining of the two events comes after Pecos Chamber of Commerce
officials voted earlier this year to merge the Pecos Cantaloupe Festival
with Night in Old Pecos activities prior to the West of the Pecos Rodeo.
Young ladies who are currently Pecos High School juniors compete in the
Golden Girl Pageant. This year's event is scheduled for June 27, and
under the new plan, girls who are presently in kindergarten, first, and
second grades will also compete for their own Little Miss Cantaloupe
title that night.
The pageant had previously been held in early August, at the start of
the Pecos Cantaloupe Festival.
The festival was combined with the Night in Old Pecos celebration that
takes place prior to the West of the Pecos Rodeo. Problems in recent
years getting enough help to run the festival, along with an earlier
cantaloupe harvest that now coincides with Night in Old Pecos, were
reasons cited for the change.
Applications for the Little Miss Cantaloupe pageant will be available at
the Chamber of Commerce office starting next week, Owen said. There is
an entry fee of $25, and a picture of the contestant should be submitted
with the application.
Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants who have had their applications
submitted and their entry fees paid before the Style Show will be
invited to model in that event as well, Owen said. Last year's winners
and runners-up will also be invited to model.
The Style Show is scheduled for Saturday, May 17.
The Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants will perform a production number
during the pageant, says Owen, and they will each be given a chance to
tell the audience their name, age, and who their parents are.
Elsewhere, heavy rain - up to 10 inches in some areas - swamped cars and
trucks on highways in the eastern Panhandle Wednesday night.
About seven inches of rain fell in two hours in Clarendon, about 60
miles southeast of Amarillo, flooding U.S. 287 and stalling out numerous
cars and trucks, said Leta Thompson, a Donley County sheriff's
``The water in some places is up to the headlights on an 18-wheeler,''
she said. ``All the alarms in town are going off.''
Flood warnings were issued late Wednesday for the eastern Panhandle.
Cars and trucks also were stalled by floodwaters along Interstate 40
about 80 miles east of Amarillo, Ms. Thompson said.
In and around Shamrock, cars and trucks litter the sides of I-40, said
Shamrock police dispatcher Tammy Walker.
No injuries were reported as of late Wednesday, Ms. Thompson and Ms.
Walker said. However, both feared conditions would worsen as rain was
expected to continue falling through most of the night along the leading
edge of the Caprock.
Heavy hail fell in spots around the area, with a six-inch accumulation
reported near Clarendon, Ms. Thompson said.
In the western Panhandle, about 3 inches of hail were reported between
Dimmitt and Hereford, about 50 miles southwest of Amarillo, Castro
County sheriff's deputies said.
Most of the southern half of the state was threatened by heavy rain
today, from the Laredo area to the Beaumont area. Counties covered by
flood warnings were Aransas, Duval, Nueces, Jim Wells, Kleberg, and San
South Texas has been further behind in rainfall this year than any other
region, according to Texas Agricultural Statistics Service reports.
Moist air flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico was mixing with an
upper level disturbance to trigger widespread rain.
The rainfall was expected to continue through Saturday across most of
More than 6 inches of rain fell during a 6-hour period at Corpus
Christi, including 1.14 inches that fell early today, making this the
rainiest April 3 on record in the coastal city.
The showers already had let up this morning in West Texas, though the
region was expected to receive more rain through Friday, dampening dry
fields that have filled windy skies with dust recently.
Five Pecos organizations with 54 volunteers and five Balmorhea groups
with about 50 volunteers will join more than 100,000 volunteers
throughout Texas in one of the nation's largest single-day litter pickup
events, according to information from TxDOT.
Pecos Adopt-a-Highway groups cleaning litter off state highways Saturday
include: Frank X. Spencer & Associates, Sheriff's Posse & Polo Team,
Reeves Co. Adult Probation, 4th & Bois'd Arc Church of Christ Youth and
the Juvenile Probation Department.
The Pecos groups will probably begin cleaning area roadways around 9
a.m. and continue work until about noon, according to Pecos
Adopt-a-Highway Coordinator Joel Baeza.
Adopt-a-Highway groups in Balmorhea participating in the cleanup
Saturday include: the Balmorhea Fire Department and the Balmorhea I.S.D.
(PAL and student council).
Because some of the groups are also involved in the 10th Annual Reeves
County Health Fair this Saturday, their organizations will do a cleanup
on Saturday, April 12. Participating in the cleanup next weekend are:
Leadership Pecos, Class of 1994-95; the Balmorhea Chamber of Commerce;
and Toyahvale Desert Oasis.
Balmorhea Adopt-a-Highway groups will begin their cleanup around 8 a.m.
and will finish up by noon, said Jess Matta, Balmorhea Adopt-a-Highway
"How long it takes them to finish depends on how many volunteers a group
has and how dirty the highways are," Matta said.
The Trash-Off coincides with Texas' wildflower season and kicks off Keep
Texas Beautiful Month and Keep America Beautiful Month.
Glen Larum, spokesman for TxDOT's regional office in Odessa said that
110 clubs and 2,000 volunteers in the Permian Basin would be
participating in the clean-up effort.
Joint efforts of TxDOT and Keep Texas Beautiful have resulted in a 72
percent reduction in litter on Texas roads and a savings to taxpayers of
two to four million dollars per year in litter pickup costs.
``No Austin lawmaker was around when we painted it (the house) three
times ... so what makes people in Austin think they are so smart they
need to tell me, or 10 million other people, what they can or can't do
with their property?'' Rogers wrote to Sen. Jerry Patterson.
Patterson is sponsor of a proposal, approved 24-6 Wednesday by the
Senate, to allow homeowners to take out a second mortgage to fund their
children's college education, start a business or do almost anything
Voters would get the final say on the issue on the November ballot if
the House also approves the proposed constitutional amendment.
``It just galls me that I am told by my Legislature that they have
appointed themselves my financial guardian,'' said Patterson,
``It's my house. It's my equity. It's my decision. ... It's mine. Leave
Sen. Steve Ogden, however, said he's seen firsthand the trouble people
can get into by borrowing against their homes.
``In my own family, out of state, they lost their home because of home
equity lending,'' said Ogden, R-Bryan.
Those relatives, who are in their 60s, took out a second mortgage to
start a business that failed, he said. That picture could have been
repeated across Texas in the 1980s oil bust if the Texas Constitution
didn't restrict second mortgages, he said.
``A lot of my fellow Texans, I think, were glad in the oil bust they
hadn't mortgaged their homes to go start an oil business when oil was
supposed to go to $100 a barrel,'' Ogden said. ``This constitutional
amendment would make it much easier to get in way over your head.''
Texas is the only state that doesn't allow general home equity lending.
The state Constitution allows home equity loans only to pay for taxes or
home improvements, in a provision passed to protect Texans from losing
their homes in bad economic times.
``For 158 years, I would argue that this (restriction) has served us
well,'' Ogden said, adding that he has heard no push from the public for
``The primary group that's behind this change is the bankers,'' he said.
``It's in their self-interest to get better security on their loans.''
Opponents also said the elderly, who may face family pressure to borrow
against their homes, need the current constitutional protection.
``Say Grandma's got a little grandson who's a spoiled brat, who's on
drugs, who comes to her and says, `Grandma, my bootie is going to prison
unless I get me a $50,000 criminal defense lawyer,''' said Sen. Gonzalo
Barrientos, D-Austin. ``Grandma can get a $50,000 loan on her $80,000
house to pay for the little brat's defense lawyer.''
Patterson said that currently, that hypothetical grandmother could face
pressure to sell her home to come up with the money.
If the constitutional amendment passes, Patterson added, elderly people
could benefit because they could borrow against the equity in their
homes for things they need, such as nursing care.
Without access to second mortgages, Texans can be forced to borrow at
higher interest rates to get other types of loans, Patterson said. He
said they also are denied the ability to deduct second mortgage interest
from their federal income taxes.
The Senate in 1995 approved second mortgage legislation. It died in the
The proposed constitutional amendment on second mortgages is
The enabling legislation is SB173.
"There will be people lined up at the door by 7 a.m.," Ontiveros said.
"Between 1,000 and 1,500 people attend the fair each year, whether its
good weather or raining or snowing."
The hospital has been the site of the Reeves County Health Fair for a
decade because it gives the public a chance to come in and see the
medical facility and take advantage of no-cost or low-cost screenings on
an annual basis, according to Ontiveros.
While the health fair is held at the hospital each year, it is put
together by a committee of 15 people, coming from of many different
organizations in the area. The committee plans the event according to
the needs of the community, obtains donations for the expenses involved
in the health fair and helps set up booths and banners for the event,
"Our health fair is so popular because of the many low-cost screenings
available," Ontiveros said.
Around 50 organizations will have booths at the health fair, offering
services such as blood sugar tests, blood typing, immunizations, blood
pressure checks, a wide variety of information and much more.
The hospital will have nine booths representing some of the services
offered by the hospital such as; surgery, EKG's, laboratory, business
services, dietary, nursing, home health and ladies auxiliary.
Pulse Oximetry will be offered by the hospital's surgery booth. Visitors
to the surgery booth will place their finger in a devise which measures
oxygen in the blood and gives information regarding the functions of the
At the EKG (electrocardiogram) booth people can get an EKG without a
physicians order and have it interpreted for $7.
By filling out a form at the hospital's nursing booth you will receive a
five-page personality assessment that will tell you what kind of
personality you have, and more.
The Ladies Auxiliary of the hospital will be selling popcorn. The
proceeds will be used to purchase equipment and improve conditions at
Representatives will introduce the Reeves County Hospital Home Health
Service at the health fair.
The service provides health care for patients in their homes, Ontiveros
said. Brochures and other information will be available.
Children will enjoy the free face painting booth operated by hospital
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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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