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Van Horn Advocate |


August 1, 1997

New Balmorhea school superintendent on the job

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 1, 1997 - High and dry conditions prompted the new
superintendent at Balmorhea ISD to accept his new post.

Carl Hoffmeyer began his new position in Balmorhea on July 14 after
being selected from several applicants.

"My wife's pulmonologist suggested a place that was high and dry to help
with her ailment and I decided to apply for the position here in
Balmorhea," said Hoffmeyer. "The other reason I applied is that I heard
it was an excellent school district," he said.

Hoffmeyer stated that the two combined conditions influenced him to make
the move from Bloomington ISD to West Texas.

"I was the superintendent there and before that I was assistant
superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Edinburg ISD," said

Hoffmeyer was at Edinburg for six years before accepting the
superintendent position at Bloomington.

He received his Bachelor's degree from Florida Atlantic University in
Boca Raton, Fla., his Master's degree from the same university and is
currently working on his Doctorate at Baylor University.

"Before I worked at Edinburg, I worked at Region 7 Education Service in
Kilgore," said Hoffmeyer. "We moved to Texas in 1970, so we're really
Texans," he said.

Hoffmeyer plans no major changes for the school district and praises the
former superintendent, James Haynes, for the many improvements and the
smooth way the district runs.

"I think he did an excellent job, everything is just great and I really
like the way he had the district running," said Hoffmeyer.

Thanks to a grant Haynes had applied for, and won, the school district
will be able to access the Internet and have a presence on the World
Wide Web.

"The people have been really great to us and I just can't say enough
about both the people and the facility," he said.

Hoffmeyer and his wife Carol have two grown children, a daughter who
lives in Dallas and a son currently at College Station.

"It'll be hard to follow in Haynes footsteps, but I hope to do my best," said Hoffmeyer.

Officials push for I-27 expansion

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Associated Press Writer

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) August 1, 1997 - Nothing engineers can say about the
lack of traffic densities on West Texas roads will stop regional
officials from campaigning for an expanded north-south interstate

A state-appointed engineering firm Thursday night presented 142
piecemeal highway projects along five different routes linking
Interstate 10 to the Panhandle's northern border.

Even though the firm, HDR Engineering Inc. of Dallas, announced in May
1995 that traffic counts showed an expanded Interstate 27 wasn't
feasible, speakers at a hearing weren't convinced.

"I would submit to you that when interstate projects were developed
several years ago, they would never have been built if they relied on
traffic counts," Lubbock city councilman Randy Neugebauer said.

I-27 currently connects Lubbock to Amarillo. Officials said they weren't
ruling out expansion of the road at some time in the future.

HDR and the Texas Department of Transportation released results from
previous public hearings and a continuing study that ranked the scores
of possible highway improvements by public support, cost efficiency,
mobility improvement and environmental impact.

The most effective projects in relieving congestion tended to be most
expensive. As it is, DOT spokeswoman Penny Mason said the state is
funding only 38 percent of its planned road projects.

No additional funding has been promised to West Texas for the proposed

Following one final 10-day public comment period this month, HDR will
deliver a final study to the Texas Transportation Commission next month.
If approved, DOT district offices will add the projects to their to-do

From there, actual construction work could be years in the offing. The
lowest priority improvements of those that HDR studied might never come

"I can't say how pleased we are about the priorities," former San Angelo
mayor Dick Funk said of the projects that would affect his area.
"However, we're not so pleased about the time frames."

Two routes from Amarillo to the Oklahoma border and three from Lubbock
to Interstate 10 were slated in May 1995 for improvements.

The most popular projects identified by the public over the past year

- Expediting U.S. 287 traffic through or around Dumas, 46 miles north of

- Improvements of the route between Amarillo and Pampa. Currently,
drivers must weave through Amarillo to reach the highway that leads 54
miles northeast to Pampa.

- Improved traffic flow through or around the Midland-Odessa area for
traffic traveling between Lubbock and I-10. The most effective
improvement, reworking the interchange at the area's airport, also is
the most expensive.

- Expedition of U.S 87 traffic through or around Big Spring. A bypass is
the most effective solution to speed traffic, though many cities oppose
such roads because they hurt motorist-related commerce.

- Improve U.S. 87 traffic through or around San Angelo. A bypass is
rated most effective but far more costly and environmentally damaging
than merely improving stoplight synchronization and intersections
through town.

Bettering San Angelo's access to I-20 at Big Spring also earned high
marks for mobility improvement and cost efficiency. San Angelo is the
state's largest city without a continuous four-lane connection to an

The study didn't rate projects in order of priority. Instead, it rated
them independently by category, leaving the final decisions to DOT
district offices in Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa and San

"We feel like the results of this thing will serve as a guide for local
and state planning, funding and so forth," HDR's Will Hagood said.

In most cases involving roads running through cities, bypasses were the
most effective, most costly and least environmentally feasible solution,
the study found. HDR project engineer Brian Swindell said bypasses
aren't currently an option because the new road construction requires
additional environmental study.

Funk and Charles Perry, representing Midland-Odessa, supported bypass
routes around their cities and encouraged smaller cities to do the same.
DOT officials said smaller cities generally are split about the idea,
with many fearing a loss of commerce.

The route study, one of the Texas DOT's most extensive ever, began in
January 1995 and was largely funded by the federal government.

To make comments or get updates on the project, call the Route Study Hotline at 1-800-661-3234.

Federal estatetax may be abolished in budget deal

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Associated Press Writer

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) August 1, 1997 - While death and taxes remain life's
surest bets, farmers, ranchers and small business owners hope
Washington's new budget deal means taxes after death aren't quite as

The federal estate tax, known disdainfully as the "death tax" in
agricultural circles, should be abolished, Comanche rancher John Dudley

Congress isn't eliminating the tax. But a compromise budget deal worked
out by Republicans and the White House includes the first meaningful
estate tax changes in more than a decade. Lawmakers are rushing to
ratify the tax bill by week's end.

"It's a step in the right direction," Dudley said Thursday.

The individual exemption from federal estate taxes for heirs would
increase from $600,000 to $1.3 million for family agricultural producers
and small business owners. The exemption increases to $1 million over
the next 10 years for everyone else.

Farmers say the tax is unfair because most of their assets are tied up
in land and equipment rather than ready cash. That sometimes forces
heirs to sell land parcels to meet the tax, which starts at 37 percent.

"It doesn't take many acres of a dryland cotton farm to get up to where
the government really starts breathing down your neck," said U.S. Rep.
Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, a rancher and ardent supporter of estate
tax relief.

"This really helps us, where you don't get punished as much for having
an asset you try to pass on to your kids, so they can keep the business
if they want to," Thornberry said.

Another component of the tax bill would allow farmers to average their
income over the prior three years when paying taxes in 1998, 1999 and
possibly 2000. The idea is to average the income variances they face,
including weather, insects and markets.

While conservatives and rural lawmakers hailed the resulting reductions,
some criticized them as just another benefit for the rich.

Mike Ettlinger, tax policy director for the liberal Citizens for Tax
Justice, said rich urbanites are hiding behind farmers to avoid paying
estate taxes in excess of 37 percent.

"They're using farmers as a sympathetic face to make an unsympathetic
argument," he said. "The estate tax only applies to the most valuable 1½
percent of estates. For most people, it's hard to swallow that kind of
tax cut, so they bring out the farmers and put them out front."

Estate taxes do appear to affect rural Americans more than their
city-dwelling counterparts. Only 1.5 percent of all Americans are
subject to estate taxes. Of farmers, 6 percent are affected, the U.S.
Agriculture Department figures.

The farmers and businesses who will see the greatest impact will be
those now just over the $600,000 limit, said Douglas L. Maxwell, a USDA

"It (the tax relief) is not going to affect really huge farms that much,
because it only chops off a certain amount," Maxwell said.

Other supporters of estate tax relief are conservationists fighting to
prevent large rural spreads from being parceled out to developers.

"Really, one of the biggest threats to conservation is the fragmentation
of large ranches," said Robert J. Potts, Texas director for The Nature
Conservancy, which just recently agreed to buy a huge remote spread to
keep it intact.

"The estate tax is one of the things that is driving people into selling
their ranches," Potts said.

However, Maxwell wrote in a June study that while tax relief should make
inheritance of farms and ranches easier, "only about a third of the
heirs in each generation choose to operate inherited family farms."

Dudley said he plans to keep his North Central Texas ranch in the family
for awhile, even after paying out two six-figure estate tax bills in the
past 21 years.

Dudley said that although he still doesn't understand why the government
demands so much after death when landowners have paid so much during
life, he's at least glad to see lawmakers address the issue.
"It's a good start," he said. |

PBT schools soon to broadcast
information on chable channel 48

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 1, 1997 - Soon, important information concerning the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school district will be broadcasted on the
district's own local television channel, Eagle TV Channel 48, thanks to
the cooperation of the local cable company, Classic Cable.

"We are working on it right now," said Jodi Exum, PBT technology
coordinator. "The cable company has a few line adjustments to make. As
soon as they finish making their adjustments, we'll be ready to go,"
Exum said.

"We already have some pages ready," she said.

The channel will use an out-of-town radio station for background music,
which means they will have to install an additional antenna to pull in
the station they decide to use, according to Exum. She said she
approached Pecos based KIUN to supply background music for the channel
first, but station manager Bill Randall Cole felt that would create a
conflict with Channel Six, the local access channel that is already
using KIUN for its background music. Exum has contacted a couple of
radio stations from the Odessa area that are willing to let their
programming be used for this purpose and a decision will be made soon.

"Because of the radio antenna situation, the video may be up before the
audio," said Exum.

The school district's television channel will be used in a multitude of

Text and graphics will be used in early broadcasts. The district also
has the capability to broadcast video tapes of campus events, classes,
student presentations of projects, athletic events, band concerts and
public service announcements.

The television channel can also advertise school related fund raisers,
news, projects and events, but cannot advertise for businesses.
According to guidelines, all of their programming must be school related
or community education.

Each of the campuses in the PBT school district will have a Channel 48
representative. They will serve as the contact person at their campus
and information for broadcast concerning the campus should go to that

"We have had a real positive response from all the administrators," said Exum.

New "country" store opens in Balmorhea

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 1, 1997 - A little bit of country has moved in to downtown
Balmorhea offering more than just country items.

The Country Store has opened its doors featuring hand-crafted items to
fit all decors and budgets.

"This was just sort of a collective idea," said Pat Towler.

Towler is just one of several individuals who has hand-crafted items for
display and sale at the downtown location.

"We had been looking for a suitable place to do this for about two or
three years," said Towler.

Artists from Balmorhea and Pecos "show off" their wares and take turns
clerking at the store.

"We get a lot of tourists on the way to the park who are looking for
something different," said Roy Byrd.

Byrd and his wife Katy also have a hand in the store which offers
"something for everyone."

"I think we have something that somebody is sure to like or need," said

Byrd also opens the doors to the store early every morning for coffee

"We don't have a regular coffee club yet, but we do have individuals who
are passing through and just need a cup of coffee, or something to munch
on," he said.

Byrd stated that he had a woman who came in early this week and just
stopped for a cup of coffee.

"She was just passing through and wanted some coffee and said that every
time she passes by she would stop and have a chat and some coffee with
us," he said.

The store offers everything from Southwest ceramic items to quilts,
collectibles and birdhouses.

"Everything in the store is hand-crafted and moderately priced," said

"I think we have something here for any adult interests and different
price ranges to fit any budget," he said.

The store is not the only thing the ladies are involved in, according to

"We also make quilt lapwork for nursing homes and caps for charity
work," said Towler.

Towler explained that the group of ladies donate the lapwork to nursing
homes, Indian reservations and also make little blankets for babies in

Towler works with Sue Toone and several other women on all the charity

"We do a lot of charity work for those in need," Towler said. "We call
ourselves the 'henhouse source,'" she said.

"It's also real interesting to clerk here, because a lot of people come
and they just want to talk, and some of the stories are very
interesting," said Byrd.

"We hear all kinds of things," said Towler.

The group, as individuals, also take their wares to sell at craft shows.

"As a group we don't go to the shows, but some individuals come and pick
up their items and sell them at different shows and later return with
new items," said Towler.

The store offers coffee by the pound or by 10-cup measure.

"It's not grind coffee, but we do ground it for customers upon request,"
said Byrd.

Hand painted greeting cards, paintings and birdhouses are other
novelties on display.

"I've even sold horseshoes," said Byrd.

"We're all really excited about this venture, the new hasn't worn off
yet so we are still enjoying it," said Towler.

The group encourages everyone to stop by in downtown Balmorhea, to
browse, look for a particular item or just to visit and have a cup of coffee.

Oklahoma messing with Texas borders

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) August 1, 1997 - Oklahoma wants to use different
landmarks along the ever shifting Red River to establish a border with

The Oklahoma Border Commission agreed Thursday to send its latest
proposal to its Texas counterpart for consideration. "It's been 200
years and we haven't reached an accord yet. Whatever we do, we're
getting closer," said state Sen. Bob Kerr, D-Altus, chairman of
Oklahoma's border panel.

The two states have agreed so far that Oklahoma's land stretches to the
south bank of the river.

The Oklahoma commissioners agreed Thursday to approve defining the
border differently in three sections.

They proposed using the vegetation line east of the Denison Dam at Lake
Texoma. That would be the area where the riverbed ends and trees, shrubs
and grasses start to grow. At Lake Texoma, they suggested a point in the
lake that was determined when the Denison Dam was built. Commission
members said the line is seen easily at the lake.

The definition west of the lake is more complicated because of the sandy
soil and a shifting vegetation line. The commissioners proposed using
the "geologic cut bank" to determine the boundary.

The river carved the bank. It is defined in previous court rulings, Kerr

Kerr said he cannot tell yet which state would gain or lose territory.
Some of the land is owned by Indian tribes, the Department of Interior
or other federal agencies.

"If you look at the official maps, Oklahoma will gain land. If you look
at the court opinions, Oklahoma will lose land," Kerr said.
Both states want the jurisdiction issue clear for law enforcement.

Man wants to adopt child of killer serving life

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Associated Press Writer

MEADVILLE, Pa. (AP) August 1, 1997 - Roy Vickers could be described as
either a sucker or a saint. The name he likes best, though, is "Dada."

Vickers recently took the 9-month-old son of a killer into his trailer
home and hopes to adopt the boy. He dismisses criticism from friends and
relatives who think the boy's mother, a woman he never sees, is taking
advantage of his good nature.

His longtime pen pal, Rosemary Heather Miller, is serving a life
sentence for killing a Saudi Arabian in Oklahoma in 1992.

Miller conceived the child after breaking out of a Texas prison in 1996.
The father is believed to be a trucker whom Miller met at the Green
Shingle Truck Stop near Erie after Vickers refused to harbor her at his
northwestern Pennsylvania trailer.

Miller wants to give Vickers legal custody of her baby, but her attorney
hasn't finished the paperwork. Vickers picked up blue-eyed Chace Joseph
Paul Miller five months ago at the Oklahoma City home of a friend of
Miller's who could no longer afford to keep him.

Vickers and the boy pass time watching angelfish in their new aquarium
and riding nearby bike trails, with Chace in a buggy pulled behind
Vickers' mountain bike.

"My friends call me Mr. Mom," Vickers said Wednesday. "Some people think
I'm crazy. Some people think it's really great what I'm doing. ... Like
a friend of mine said, 'It doesn't matter what other people think. It
matters what you think. It's got to come from the heart."'

Vickers, 37, denied that he may be the child's father and scoffed at a
suggestion that he take a blood test to prove it.

The small, muscular greeting card salesman said he used to chase women
in bars - until March 1995, when a friend gave him Miller's address at
the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in Oklahoma City.

Miller, 22, had answered an ad Vickers' friend placed in a lonely-hearts
magazine, "Cupid's Destiny." The friend passed her letter along,
thinking Vickers might be interested.

Vickers visited her in jail after receiving 60 letters from Miller in
just three months. After six visits, he knew he wanted to marry her.
Vickers sent her underwear and an occasional $25 but said she never
asked him for money.

Miller has said the man she shot had raped her. She was also sentenced
to 25 years for shooting a witness in the head - a crime she blamed on a

"I believe Heather's telling the truth, but I can't be totally sure,"
Vickers said.

As he spoke, Chace played at his feet on the freshly cleaned carpet in
the trailer, which is the color of a candy bar and sits in the shade
behind a white picket fence 85 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Miller broke out of a Texas prison in January 1996, and authorities
caught her in Minnesota three months later and returned her to the
prison in Oklahoma City.

He believes she slept with the trucker out of desperation and forgave
her after she wrote him to say that affair was over. In November, she named her new baby Chace because she was "chased" by police.

Bicycle safety clinic offered this Saturday

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PECOS, August 1, 1997 - The Pecos Evening Optimist Club will hold its
annual Bicycle Safety Clinic 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the parking lot
of Gibson's, 810 W. Walthall.

The event is open to boys and girls ages 6-9 and 10-12, and trophies
will be awarded to first through third place participants in each

Soda and hot dogs will also be served during the two-hour event, and two bicycles will be given away.


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PECOS, August 1, 1997 - High Thursday, 99, low this morning, 73. Clear
skies prevailed over most of West Texas early this morning with partly
cloudy skies over the mountains and far west. Early morning temperatures
were in the 60s and 70s. The forecast was for fair to partly cloudy
skies in the region through Saturday with a slight chance of afternoon
and evening thunderstorms over the mountains and far west. Highs
Saturday will be in the 80s, 90s and 100s. Lows tonight will be in the
60s and 70s.|

State News
San Angelo Standard Times
Abilene Reporter News
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dallas Morning News
Texas Press Association

National News
USA Today
York (Pa.) Daily Record, Sister Paper to Pecos Enterprise

Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP Materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use. The AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing.

Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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