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August 8, 1997

Voters go to polls on property tax issue tomorrow

From Staff and Wire Reports
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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - Texans have one last chance to decide if
homeowners will get a break on school property taxes or if they want
state legislators to apply a $1 billion budget surplus in another
manner. That chance comes at the voting polls tomorrow.

On the ballot is a single question, asking voters whether homestead
property tax exemptions should be increased from a minimum of $5,000 to
a minimum of $15,000.

The higher exemption will cost school districts about $1 billion every
two years - money lawmakers have pledged to replace, according to some

While the election is considered important, a low voter turnout is
expected. To try to overcome the expected low turnout Secretary of State
Tony Garza, the state's chief elections official, launched a
get-out-the-vote tour. However, he has not set an estimate on how many
of the state's 10.6 million registered voters will cast a ballot in the

Early voting for the school tax election ended Tuesday with 343 ballots
cast in Reeves County.

Ann McGeehan, Garza's election director, said she expects between 10
percent and 15 percent.

"Constitutional elections are uphill battles in terms of getting people
out to vote," Garza said, adding that when there aren't candidates on
the ballot, fewer people bring attention to the election.

The tax exemption question comes after lawmakers failed to approve an
attempt to lower and cap local school property taxes. The House and
Senate approved separate plans to cut the locally set tax rates, but
could not agree on a final version of the idea.

Instead, they approved a plan to increase the amount of a home's value
not subject to taxation for schools. Also included is dedicating lottery
revenues to education and a provision allowing Texans' 65 and older to
transfer a proportionate amount of their homestead tax freezes from one
home to another if they move.

The lottery-to-education provision goes into effect Sept. 1 regardless
of the election. The tax freeze portability is contingent on the

Dick Lavine, an analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities,
said it's hard for Texans to turn down a tax cut because of future
consequences. But he said voters should think about what they are

"It puts us at least $1 billion in the hole in every future (state)
budget," Lavine said of the proposal.

As property tax rates continue to go up, school districts will lose more
money because of the tax exemption. That means the exemptions will cost
more than $1 billion in the future.

The $1 billion being used to pay for the tax break in the next two-year
budget, beginning Sept. 1, came from state funds reserved for such
spending. Lavine said there is no guarantee that money will be available
in the future.

"It's putting a little extra pressure on the budget," he said.

Lavine added that while the money used to pay for the tax breaks will
come from all taxpayers, only homeowners will get the benefit.

"The good news is that homeowners are going to get a tax break and it is
a progressive tax break because its $140 no matter what the value of
your home is," he said. "For some people, $140 pays for two weeks' of

The proposed constitutional amendment election was called by the state
legislature at the urging of Gov. George Bush in an attempt to reduce
school taxes. The proposal increases the standard homestead property tax
exemptions for residential school property. The exemptions would be
increased by $10,000.

However, some school officials have said the state's formula for
determining minimum teacher salaries will force them to increase local
property tax rates if the proposal passes.

Bush does not agree with that argument against the proposal, according
to Associated Press (AP) reports.

According to AP reports, minimum teacher pay reflects the amount of
money the state provides local districts. Because the state is replacing
the $1 billion districts will be shorted from the tax reduction if the
property tax amendment passes, minimum teacher salaries will have to be
increased. As a result, local school property tax rates could increase.

Many Texans would prefer using $1 billion to pay for additional
education, law enforcement or other state services instead of cutting
property taxes, according to Land Commissioner Garry Mauro.

The proposed constitutional amendment would increase the minimum
homestead exemption from $5,000 to $15,000, a roughly $140 annual
savings for most homeowners. It also would allow senior citizens to
transfer from home to home a proportionate amount of property tax

Lawmakers put $1 billion into the two-year state budget that begins
Sept. 1 to pay for the higher tax exemption. The break would not go to
renters or business property owners.

The tax cut is only for half the families in Texas and they only will
receive a break of $12 a month.

"Why didn't we use the $1 billion to solve some problem we have," Mauro

Karen Hughes, Gov. George W. Bush's spokeswoman, said Texans with whom
the governor has visited appreciate the tax cut. Today Bush is
completing a five-day swing across the state urging Texans to vote

"I'm not surprised that those that want bigger government would advocate
spending the money on new government programs," Mrs. Hughes said.
"Governor Bush believes the people who should benefit from a leaner,
more efficient government are the people who pay the bills."

Bush has acknowledged the tax break - roughly equal to a homeowner's
school property tax rate multiplied by 100 - is not the final answer to
the problem of rising school property taxes. He says, however, that it
is a first step.

The proposal came after Bush and lawmakers failed to approve a larger
effort meant to cut and cap local school property tax rates. A separate
measure to be voted on in November will put a cap on property assessment
increases and will allow Texans to defer property tax payments if their
home values grow by more than 5 percent a year. That measure, too, was a fall-back position from a larger effort.


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Pecos voters who missed the early voting deadline but still wish to cast
ballots can do so from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Reeves County
Civic Center. Out-of-town voters may vote at the following locations:

Those voting Box 4 will vote at Toyah City Hall while Box 5 voters will
go to the Balmorhea Senior Center. Those voting Box 6 will cast ballots
at the Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center and Box 9 voters will mark paper
ballots at the Red Bluff Office in Orla.

Here is the wording of Proposition 1 on Saturday's Constitutional
election ballot regarding homestead property tax exemptions:

"The constitutional amendment providing school property tax relief by
increasing the residence homestead exemption by $10,000 and providing
for the transfer of the tax limitation to another qualified homestead
for persons over 65 and a reduction in taxes on homesteads subject to the limitation."

PBT ISD board appoints new
principal to Pecos Elementary

Staff Writer
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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - After meeting in executive session during
yesterday evening's special meeting, the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board
announced that Gail Norris will be the new principal at Pecos
Elementary, the third-grade campus in Pecos.

The Pecos Elementary principal position became open this summer after
Principal Juanita Davila was moved from Pecos Elementary to Crockett
Middle School, where she replaced Principal Danny Rodriguez. Rodriguez
was appointed principal at Pecos High School this summer, replacing
Alice Duerksen, who resigned to take a teaching position in her home
town, Fort Stockton.

Norris has been in Pecos for one year as a first-grade teacher at Austin
Elementary. She has 28 years experience as an educator.

Norris received her Bachelor's degree from Midwestern University,
Wichita Falls, in 1969 and earned her Masters degree in 1973 from East
Texas State University in Commerce. She has Reading Specialist
certification from East Texas State University and Mid-Management
certification from Sul Ross State University in Alpine. She also has
paramedic training, but is no longer certified in that area.

Norris has taught first through eighth grade, reading, math,
self-contained and gifted/talented classes.

Dr. Don Killough, Director of Superintendent Searches for the Texas
Association of School Boards and Bryan LaBeff form the Region 18 Service
Center both gave presentations on what services they would offer if
hired to conduct the district's search for a new superintendent.

The search became necessary after former PBT Superintendent, Mario
Sotelo, left the district this summer to take the position as
superintendent for the Edinburg school district. Interim Superintendent
Wayne Mitchell is performing the superintendent's duties while the
search for a permanent superintendent takes place.

The search for a superintendent was conducted by Region 18 the last time
the district needed to fill the position, and they are going to do it

The decision was not entirely unanimous, with Trustee Steve Armstrong
opposed and all other board members in approval.

Part of the decision was based on finances. Dr. Killough would have
charged a consultant's fee of $6,500, not including expenses for travel,
printing or postage. LaBeff told the school board that he could do the
job in about the same three month time frame that Dr. Killough quoted
them, but for a $3,000 fee, plus expenses for telephone calls to check
references, travel and postage, which he estimated would cost the board
around $380.

The main differences between the proposals, other than fees, is that
Region 18 does not recruit candidates for the position or charge to
print brochures to send to potential applicants.

The P-B-T ISD Code of Conduct was unanimously approved by the board for
both the elementary and secondary levels. Spanish translations of the
document will be made available upon request.

A couple of minor changes will be made to the wording of the elementary
and secondary student handbooks. The handbooks were approved with those
changes to be made.

The school district is still involved in budget workshops. School board
members are in the process of discussing campus budgets, not department

The school board will ask each campus administrator to submit a balanced
budget based on last year's figures.

"It is a realistic request to ask, in a future meeting, to ask
administrators to come back with a balanced budget," said Trustee Linda

Salary schedules for next year were also discussed, and the discussion
focused on teacher pay and the effect that low local tax rates have on
the amount of reimbursement that the state receives from the state.

Currently, Pecos property taxes are lower than in the surrounding area,
but so are state reimbursements and teachers' salaries. Several people
voiced the concern that this is seriously affecting the district's
ability to attract and retain talented teachers, which they feel
detracts from the schools' ability to offer local children the best education possible.

Learning center to reopen this Monday

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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - The Pecos Learning Center will reopen at 7:30
a.m., Monday, Aug. 11, thanks to community support. The center was
closed for most of the summer due to a shortage of operating funds.

The Learning Center, located at 2024 S. Eddy Street, is in the same
plaza as Bob's Thriftway.

The owner of Bob's Thriftway and La Tienda grocery stores, Bill Fenn,
owns the building which houses the Learning Center and is donating the
use of the building rent-free.

Fenn pays taxes on the building, and the utilities are under the name of
Bob's Thriftway, although the Learning Center actually pays the utility

The Learning Center also relies on tuition, grants and partial
subsidization from Anchor Foods, Inc. to pay its operating costs.

Another local business, McDonald's, will be helping to establish a
homework help center there when school starts, according to the leader
of the center's volunteer board of directors, Oscar Saenz.

The community contributed more than $10,000 to the center to help it
reopen, according to Saenz, plant manager at Anchor Foods.

Parents who have not already done so may call either the Learning
Center, Anchor West, Inc. or Lou Lewis to enroll their children in the day-care center.

Cantaloupe harvest not hurt by rain

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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - Recent rain showers have not severely dampened
hopes for a timely cantaloupe harvest for Pecos Cantaloupe Company,
according to Clay Taylor, salesman.

The Pecos area has received more than a half inch of rain this month.

"It just slowed us down a bit," said Taylor.

"The rain made it hard to get into the fields and made everything
slick," he said.

"But," Taylor said, "we're going to try to pick today."

Taylor said that their cantaloupe shed was still operating, but there
was no answer at Sun Up Produce this morning.

A 100-mile-wide band of heavy rains moved through Central and North
Texas and the Big Bend on Thursday, with showers lingering overnight. More rainfall was forecast later today. |

ROT "citizen" in contempt of district court

Staff Writer
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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - District Judge Bob Parks on Thursday found
Jeffery William Howard in contempt of court and sentenced him to 180
days in jail plus a $180 fine.

Howard, a "citizen" of the so-called Republic of Texas, was arrested
with six others on April 30 when they stopped at Flying J Travel Plaza
enroute to the ROT standoff near Fort Davis.

Howard is charged with felon in possession of a firearm. In a pre-trial
hearing Thursday, Howard refused to stand for arraignment as ordered by
Judge Parks.

He also refused an attorney, although Judge Parks appointed David Zavoda
to stand by to advise Howard if he asked.

Judge Parks said that Elizabeth Vandergriff had filed four documents on
Howard's behalf, including an application for writ of habeas corpus.
Since a writ may be filed by anyone, Judge Parks said he would address
that matter.

However, the other three documents were rejected because Vandergriff is
not an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.

During the course of the hearing, Howard attempted to arrest Judge Parks. He was returned to his cell at Reeves County Jail.

Water board to discuss sale of mineral rights

Staff Writer
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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - Red Bluff Water Power Control District board
members will discuss the possible sale of royalty and/or mineral rights
of land in the East Ford Unit, during their regular monthly meeting at 1
p.m. Monday in the board's West Second Street office.

Board members sought clarification on the sale of the small parcel of
land during last month's meeting, and on the legality of any sale by the

Board members will also discuss a proposal by Geco-Prakla to do
geophysical work on the surface of 1,326.34 acres on two sections of
land in Loving County and two sections in Reeves County owned by the
district. The company is also seeking permission from the board for
geophysical work on state classified minerals in Section 48, Block 57,
Township 1 in Reeves County.

Other agenda items include:

- Water Report for July;

- Discussion of change in Davis Lewis' salary and vehicle allowance;

- Workers compensation presentation by Tommy Paylor with the Texas
Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool;

- Discussion and possible approval of purchasing a new copier for the

Minutes of the July meeting also are scheduled for approval by the board, along with July disbursements, fund balances and accounts payable.

Commissioners discuss recreation center plans

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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - The modification of a revolving loan fund
contract for a recreation center will be discussed at Monday morning's
regular Reeves County Commissioner's Court meeting.

In conjunction, the group will go into executive session to discuss
recreation center property acquisition.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on the third floor courtroom, Reeves
County Courthouse.

Commissioners will also discuss the modification of the Reeves County
Detention Center CEO contract and will approve the deputation and oath
on sheriff's office deputy, Ernest Lascano.

The group will also approve bond on Olivia D. Lara and take action on
bids for signs and posts.

Commissioners will also:

- Discuss/take action on request by El Paso Field Services Co. to cross
the right of way of Reeves County Road #101 with buried welded steel

- Listen to a presentation on economic development.

- Discuss/take action on reports from various departments.

- Discuss/take action on budgent amendments and line-item transfers.

- Discuss/take action on personnel and salary changes (JP#1, RCDC,
Sheriff's Office, JDC, County Judge).

- Discuss/take action on minutes from previous minutes.

- Approve semi-monthly bills.

- Spread on minutes: Dianne O. Florez - Xerox order agreement. Order
setting salaries by the District Judge, County Auditor and Assistant auditors.

Man who shot wife killed by deputy

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AMARILLO, Texas (AP) August 8, 1997 - A man who killed his estranged
common-law wife in front of the Clarendon grocery store where she worked
was gunned down minutes later by a sheriff's deputy, authorities said.

Donley County Sheriff Jimmy Thompson said Lloyd Duane "Sonny" Anderson,
59, fired five or six shots from his .357-caliber handgun, striking
Debbie Harper once in the back.

Deputies chased Anderson to nearby Howardwick, where the man's car
apparently stalled out. Anderson was killed in a confrontation with
deputies in a liquor store parking lot, Thompson said.

Both Anderson and Ms. Harper, 43, were pronounced dead at an Amarillo
hospital. She had worked in the meat department at the B&R Thriftway
store, which carried on business after the slaying.

Willis Clark, owner of an area restaurant Ms. Harper frequented, said he
wasn't surprised the couple's volatile relationship ended in death.

"She told us (Wednesday) at lunch that he asked to come back, and she
said, 'Just leave me alone,' " Clark said. "She was a real nice lady,
but I didn't have any use for (Anderson)." Clarendon is about 60 miles east of Amarillo.

Gang association adds 10 years to inmate's sentence

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VICTORIA, Texas (AP) August 8, 1997 - A state prison inmate who failed
to obey a judge's order to stay away from gangs while in prison has had
10 years added to his 10-year sentence.

When Robert Louis Cantu, 19, of Victoria, was sentenced in February,
State District Judge Robert Cheshire ordered him not to participate in
gang activity or violate any disciplinary rules while in the

Cantu was sent to prison for aggravated assault and for threatening to
kill a woman who could have testified against him in court.

District Attorney George Filley III said Cantu violated the judge's
order by participating in gang-related fights last month at the Garza
Unit East in Beeville. Cantu also was caught with a weapon and in
possession of unauthorized property, the prosecutor said.

Cantu was returned to Victoria, where Cheshire added 10 years to his
sentence. He must serve at least five years before he is eligible for

"'We are asking judges to reach out and control (offenders') behavior in
prison ... so that if they participate in gang activity, then we'll
bring them back to Victoria County and impose additional time," Filley
told The Victoria Advocate.

Filley said Cantu is the first offender to receive additional prison
time under the new initiative.

David Nunnlee, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,
described the initiative as "certainly a step in the right direction."

"Any time you can prevent a gang member from engaging in gang behavior,
you can make it a safer environment," Nunnlee said. "There are a lot of
gang members out there. If you can turn one of them around, it's worth

There are an estimated 4,000 gang members in the prison system, Nunnlee

"One less would certainly be welcomed," he said. "It is not going to
solve the problem, but it's a start," Nunnlee added. "The county should be applauded for this."

15-year-old Oky in soap box derby

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WATONGA, Okla. (AP) August 8, 1997 - Alissa Johnson is where thousands
of youngsters would love to be - the All American Soap Box Derby.

The 15-year-old gets a chance at the big prize in soapbox racing
Saturday in Akron, Ohio. She is the only Oklahoman to make the
nationals, earning that right by winning the Texas Midwest Soap Box
Derby in Sweetwater, Texas, last month.

"You can only be in one qualifier race per year," Miss Johnson said. "So
I had to win first place in Sweetwater to be able to go to Akron at all.
I had to beat out eight other cars."

In Akron, she will compete against 282 other races from throughout the
United States, Canada, Germany and Costa Rica.

Soapbox racing reached the height of popularity in the mid-1960s, but is
regaining popularity. This year's group is a record number.

Miss Johnson will compete in the super stock car division with her car "Alissa's Answer." The other divisions are stock and masters.


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PECOS, August 8, 1997 - High Thursday, 72, low this morning, 64.
Precipitation Thursday totaled 0.03 of an inch bringing the monthly
total to 0.51 and the yearly total to 5.45 inches. After several days of
unseasonably cool temperatures, a warm trend is expected to bring
temperatures back to normal levels by the end of the weekend. Skies will
be clearing across the state tonight and Saturday. It will be partly
cloudy across West Texas with a chance of showers and thunderstorms over
the Permian Basin, Concho Valley and Big Bend areas tonight and in
extreme western areas on Saturday. Lows tonight will be in the 60s in
West Texas. Highs Saturday will be in the 80s and 90s.|

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
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