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Van Horn Advocate |


August 18, 1997

$1.3 million in local HUD
housing repairs begin in fall

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 1997 - Major renovations will be taking place at local HUD Housing thanks to a Compensation Improvement Project Assistance (CIAP) grant, according to Pecos Housing Authority Director Nellie Gomez.

"We announced in October of last year that we had received $1.3 million to go towards renovations at HUD housing," said Gomez.

Gomez stated that an architect has already been procured to work on the major project and the group is currently seeking a contractor.

"We want to hire one contractor who will be in charge of the whole project," said Gomez. "We would like to get started by October or November," she said.

Gomez stated that they would like to see the project well under way by early 1998.

"By next year, we want to see the whole project rolling smoothly, but by October of this year we'll be getting the apartments ready for the renovations," she said.

The southside complex, apartments located on Sage, Stafford and Meadowbrook Streets, will undergo major face-lifts, while those located on the east side of town will receive only minor changes.

"The apartments on the east side were renovated with CIAP of 1991 and with the CIAP of 1993 we did the handicap renovations and now with the CIAP 1996 we will be doing the major renovations at the other apartments," said Gomez.

Gomez stated that the apartments located on Sixth Street, (which are for the elderly) are also on the list for major repairs.

"We'll be doing some major renovations at those apartments also," said Gomez. "The renovations will include new heating and cooling units for all 130 apartments targeted," she said.

The group also plans to finish the park, located on the southside and some landscaping throughout, according to Gomez.

"With this grant we'll really be able to see something," said Gomez.

Gomez stated that she and everyone involved is very excited, because the changes will be big and will improve conditions considerably.

Bids for the contractors will be opened and awarded at the end of this month.

Campuses, athletics, band take budeget cuts

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 1997 - All Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD campuses will have less money in their budgets this year, and there will be less money for the athletic and band programs as well. Raises for district employees are the main reason for the budget cuts, but increased utility costs are also a factor.

Teacher raises are the result of recently passed state legislation. Although all district employees will receive raises of various amounts, teachers and librarians will receive at least a $1,000 annual raise, although some teachers will receive raises of more than $1,000 a year, according to the requirements of the legislation.

"The high school took the biggest cut because they are the biggest school," said P-B-T ISD Business Manager Cookie Canon. "Every grade level will take a cut of about $2,500, but a lot of that will be made up out of federal money," she said.

"The state mandated those raises, but they only gave us $50,000 to make the transition," said Canon.

The budget already had some money allotted to raises, but the new legislation required more than that amount.

Canon said that most of the cuts were amounts that Athletic Director Mike Belew, Band Director Steven Clary and campus administrators voluntarily adjusted out of their proposed budgets from areas they felt they could most easily do without.

According to Canon, most of the money that was removed from the athletic budget was from travel expenses, with some money was taken from each sport. The proposed band budget was $1,200 less than last year, and then Clary "was very gracious, and he adjusted another $7,500 out," Canon said.

Canon also said that about $3,000 of the amount Clary removed from the band budget was for travel expenses. That is about what it cost the band to travel to an El Paso area football game last year. The rest of the reduction was for band equipment and equipment upkeep.

She said that Belew reduced the athletic budget by $37,290. When the athletic department's budget adjustments were made, it was not known whether girls softball would be included in the district's athletic department or not, so funding was not cut from other programs with the intention of funding girls softball. Girls softball is currently funded with a budget of $26,260. The sport was taken out of the budget and put back in "several times," according to Canon.

Expenses that were cut from the athletic budget were for travel and a junior high coaching position, Canon said.

The district has to give the state mandated raises, but they do have some control over utility expenditures.

"We're making the administrators more aware of and accountable for utility usage," Canon said.

Another way that the district might be able to increase the amount of money it has to spend on its various expenses would be to raise school property taxes.

In the present situation, the local school tax rate is several cents lower per $100 valuation than it could legally be, but teacher pay within the district is also lower than some other area 4A school districts. Concerns have been raised at recent school board meetings that lower pay than other area districts is making it difficult to recruit and retain certified teachers.

Also, the state of Texas used a formula based on local tax collections to determine state funding to school districts. The state looks at the ratio between tax collections and taxable property value, and those figures are used in their funding formula, Canon said.

According to Canon, the state gives less funding to districts that raise less money through taxes than they should according to the state's formula.

"It's like, the more you help yourself, the more they'll help you," Canon said.

The state allows a school district to set a maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.50 per $100 property valuation. This is the money that is used to operate the schools. Any tax amount over the maintenance and operations (M&O) rate is used for debt reduction, she said.

For the last four years, the local tax rate has been $1.40 per $100 valuation, Canon said. The M&O portion of the tax rate last year was 132.5, which means $1.32 and a half cent per $100 valuation.

The election held on August 9 which raised the amount of property value which is exempt from taxation would have harmed the school district, but the state is making up the difference this year and next year, said Canon.

TEA officials overwhelmed
by demand for charter schools

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DALLAS (AP) August 18, 1997 - Nearly 500 groups and organizations have requested applications to start one of the "open enrollment" charter schools recently approved by the Legislature, the Texas Education Agency says.

That means there could be as many as five proposed schools vying for each available charter when the State Board of Education begins selecting the 100 approved schools in March.

"We are a little overwhelmed by the numbers, but we are talking about a state that has 3.8 million students," said Brooks Flemister, senior director for charter schools at the TEA. "There is a lot of interest out there in these schools."

Texas now has 20 independent charter schools, the initial number approved by lawmakers in 1995. Seventeen began classes last fall, enrolling 2,500 students, and three more will start this fall.

The schools are publicly funded, exempt from most state regulations, such as class-size limits, and have open enrollment policies that accept students regardless of where they live.

Advocates of school choice in Texas have focused most of their efforts on gaining approval for a large number of charter schools. They say that parents and their children should have an alternative to the public schools, especially those not meeting the needs of all their students. He does not share the view that the increasing demand for more charter schools reflects a general dissatisfaction with the public schools.

"It is a matter of people seeing a way to better meet the needs of specific groups of students," Flemister said. "Most of the 20 schools that have been approved are very specific in what they are trying to do."

For example, Dallas Can! Academy primarily serves students who have dropped out of regular schools in the Dallas area.

The TEA will begin mailing out formal applications for charter schools in a few weeks. They will be due by the end of the year.

The expected multitude has prompted the board to adopt a new policy for choosing the 100 schools.

Last year, the board listened to each applicant and voted on each until the maximum 20 were approved.

This time, all applications will be screened by five-member committees made up educators and residents. Each review team, appointed by the state board and commissioner of education, will assess up to 10 proposals.

All applications will then be ranked from best to worst, with the recommendations sent to the board.

Board members may approve all 100 charter schools for the 1998-99 school year, or may select some the first year and the rest for the fall of 1999.

One beep could cost these students $15

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) August 18, 1997 - Pay attention, class.

That beep from a bag or belt could cost Corpus Christi students $15 under a policy change tentatively approved by the Corpus Christi Independent School District.

Taking a pager to class has been illegal in Texas schools since 1989. Exceptions are made for students who are members of volunteer fire-fighting or medical-service organizations.

Teachers confiscate hundreds every year, but parents or paging companies can reclaim them.

Now that could cost $15.

The CCISD Board voted 5-1 on first reading last week to charge the recovery fee.

"The pagers are a disruption in the classroom," said Al Ortiz, director of security for CCISD. "Hopefully (the fee) will discourage the kids from bringing them."

James Johnson, a Miller sophomore who uses a pager on weekends and after school, agreed.

"It's an all-right rule," Johnson said of the proposed $15 fee. "I think that's reasonable. I don't think we should be carrying them at school."

But trustee Manuel Flores voted against the fee, saying it would be unfair to some students who use pagers to communicate with their families and who don't have cars, in which they could keep the pagers.

The recommendation will come before the board again in the coming weeks and, if approved, become part of the district's official policy.

Dennis Benavides, a vice president at Three Guys Wireless, said the company already warns students against taking pagers to school.

He said many of the units are paid for by parents who want to keep track of their children.

"A lot of parents will come in and tell their kids, 'OK, I'm going to get this for you, but this means that if I page you and you don't call me, you'll be on restriction,"' he said.

"It's kind of a way of doing something for them and making the kid responsible."|

Women face life for cocaine charge

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 1997 - Two Arlington women face possible life in prison for possession of more than 12 kilograms of cocaine, following their indictment Thursday.

Carmela Juana Rodriguez, 22, and Cynthia Marie Mendoza, 21, are among 27 persons indicted by the federal grand jury sitting in Pecos.

They were arrested July 19 in Hudspeth County. If convicted, they could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life with a $4 million fine.

Also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine (11.65 pounds) are Mike Eddings, 22, Rodrico Redile Parks, 20, and Juanita Doris Shorter, 23, of Davenport, Iowa. They were arrested July 20.

Jose Manuel Galindo-Diaz, 32, of Ojinaga, Mex., is charged with importing and possessing with intent to distribute 331 pounds of marijuana on Aug. 13.

Tocho Luna Davila, 19, of Fort Stockton, is charged with importing and possessing with intent to distribute 65.42 pounds of marijuana on Aug. 7. Charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana are:

* Rodrigo Rivas-Gonazales, 32, Martin Rios-Franco, 31, and Jose Alfredo Mendias-Venegas, 22, all of Chihuahua, Mex., 138.74 pounds on July 24;

* Benjamin Romero, 29, Alfonso Duran, 25, and Cesar Enrique Ramirez, 19, all of El Paso, 211 pounds on July 30;

* Jose Rafael Grajeda-Castillo, 55, Chihuahua, Mex., 110.46 pounds on July 30;

* Luis Enrique Guerrero, 27, of Fabens, 400 pounds on March 1;

* Ricardo Gines-Rodriguez, 36, of Chihuahua, Mex., 504 pounds on Aug. 6;

* Jose Amador Alejo, 22, of Dallas, 38.7 pounds on Aug. 2;

* Ramon Villalobos-Franco, 32, of Ojinaga, Mex., 74.75 pounds on Aug. 1;

* Samuel Cisneros, 19, of Chihuahua, Mex., 121 pounds on Aug. 5;

* Allen Wayne Whyde, 47, of Indianapolis, Ind., 125 pounds on July 31.

Dariusz Roman Kaminski, 32, of Clifton, N.J. is charged with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle and possession of stolen property in interstate commerce.

Luis Ines Pregino-Martinez, 38, of Presidio, is charged with four counts of transporting illegal aliens.

Charged with illegal entry after deportation are Gabriel Nava-Gonzales, 37, and Rosa Maria Hernandez de Hurtado, 39, of Juarez, Mex.

Jose Lomeli-Torres of Kermit was indicted for alleged fraudulent use of a Social Security number and possession of a fraudulent identification document.

Charged with failure to appear for court are Ricardo Lozano-Griego, 33, and Alfredo Renteria-Nernandez, 23, of Carlsbad, N.M.

Motions to suppress evidence
come before judge in drug cases

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 1997 - U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson on Friday denied a motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement officers by Michael Timothy Matta after his arrest May 19 on charges of importing and possessing with intent to distribute flunetrizepam.

Matta, 25, of 1419 S. Plum St., will go on trial before a federal court jury Thursday. Judge Furgeson ordered that he undergo drug testing prior to trial. No further drug use will be tolerated, Furgeson said.

The judge was to rule today on a motion to suppress evidence found in a search of Matta's car. Odessa attorney Tony Chavez filed the motions, which were heard Friday.

Chavez also filed motions to suppress evidence in three other drug cases, but withdrew two of those at docket call, much to Judge Furgeson's chagrin. Several law enforcement officers from Presidio and Van Horn were present to testify in those cases.

Furgeson lectured Chavez for failing to notify the federal prosecutor that he would withdraw the motions so the officers would not have had to make the long trip for nothing.

"Any advance notice at all would have been helpful," he said. "In the future, if you plan to withdraw a suppression hearing, give as prompt notice as possible to the government."

Luis M. Garcia of Van Horn does not have standing to file a motion to suppress the vehicle search, Chavez said. But his motion to withdraw Garcia's bond curfew so he can attend college at Sul Ross State University in Alpine was granted.

Raul Orona Hernandez was arrested at the Presidio Port of Entry, so his motion to suppress the search was invalid, Chavez said.

Judge Furgeson denied Chavez's motion to suppress evidence taken in a warrantless search at the June 11 arrest of Javier Carvajal-Medrano.

Feds looking into civil rights
violations in border shooting

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Associated Press Writer

EL PASO, Texas (AP) August 18, 1997 - FBI took custody of two guns and all other physical evidence Friday in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old goatherd who was gunned down along the border by a Marine.

The move came as federal prosecutors announced they are looking into possible civil rights violations in the death of Esequiel Hernandez Jr. near the Rio Grande, where the teen had been grazing his goats.

A grand jury determined Thursday that Cpl. Clemente Banuelos was defending a fellow Marine when he killed Hernandez, a decision that outraged the victim's family.

"I think somebody should be held responsible for the death of my brother," Margarito Hernandez said Friday. "They made it look like it was his fault. I don't know, the only mistake he did was to go pasture his goats on that day."

Esequiel Hernandez was killed May 20 after crossing paths with a four-man Marine unit assigned to watch a suspected drug smuggling route at the request of the Border Patrol in Redford, a tiny border community 200 miles southeast of El Paso.

Military officials said Hernandez fired twice at the Marines with a .22-caliber rifle and was about to shoot again at Lance Cpl. James M. Blood when Banuelos killed him with a single shot from an M-16.

Texas Rangers and local prosecutors who investigated the shooting said they had evidence that conflicted with the Marines' reports. The teen's family said he carried a gun to protect his livestock from predators and occasionally to shoot at targets.

The grand jury concluded that although Hernandez might have been shooting in the direction of the camouflaged Marines, he probably didn't know they were there.

Among the evidence taken by the FBI on Friday was the rifle Hernandez was carrying and Banuelos' M-16, said Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez.

"I was asked to turn over all evidence in the case - the physical evidence presented to the grand jury and in my custody," Dominguez said.

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in San Antonio, said the Justice Department's civil rights division had been reviewing the incident but was "taking a backseat role to allow the local district attorney to complete his investigation first."

"Now ... we will probably start picking up on our end," he said.

It is not unprecedented for federal charges to be filed against a person who has already been cleared in the same case by local authorities. California police officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted of state charges, but later convicted of violating his civil rights.

Banuelos' attorney, Jack Zimmermann, said at a news conference in Houston on Friday that the Justice Department inquiry is standard procedure. But Zimmermann, himself a former Marine, doubts federal charges will result.

Banuelos attended the news conference but did not speak or answer questions.

"I wanted to introduce you ... so you know he's a real person," Zimmerman said, adding that the Marine feels bad about the shooting but believes he did nothing wrong. "He's 22 years old, but I bet he's aged 10 years in the last 3 months."

Zimmermann said the grand jury decision was correct "legally and morally."

"But our hearts go out to the Hernandez family because they lost a son," the attorney said.

Meanwhile, the military is still reviewing whether it is appropriate to use troops to help stem drug traffic or in any other way support domestic police efforts.

The Pentagon has temporarily suspended surveillance missions like the one that ended in Hernandez's death, although the military continues to assist civilian authorities by providing intelligence and other support.

Redford residents are also still expected to pursue a civil case against the military.

Melvin La Follette, head of a committee that will lead the community's legal actions, said that in Redford there is "quite a bit of disgust and anger and a determination to press ahead."

"We know that we're taking on the most powerful government in the world," he said, "but it must be done."


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PECOS, August 18, 1997 - High Sunday, 103, low this morning, 75. A large area of showers and thunderstorms dampened a vast area of West Texas today and was expected to move eastward across the state tonight and Tuesday. Forecasts called for scattered showers and thunderstorms across West Texas through Tuesday. Some locally heavy rain is expected in extreme western areas of Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 50s in the mountains and in the 60s and 70s elsewhere in West Texas. Highs on Tuesday will be in the 80s and 90s.

State News
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National News
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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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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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