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Van Horn Advocate
August 21, 1997
INS chief announces new border strategy
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By JACK McNAMARA
Special to the Enterprise
PECOS, August 21, 1997 - Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner Doris Meissner completed a three-day tour of the Texas border area Wednesday in Marfa where she announced "Operation Rio Grande" at a press conference at Border Patrol Sector Headquarters.
Meissner described "Operation Rio Grande" as "part of the INS multi-year comprehensive border control plan . . . a strategy for improving the quality of life" in communities along the Texas border.
Commissioner Meissner was instead pelted with questions about the INS role in the death of a teenage goatherder in Redford, Texas on May 20. Ezekiel Hernandez was shot and killed within sight of his home near the Rio Grande by a U.S. Marine of Joint Task Force (JTF)-6. On August 21, a Presidio County grand jury refused to indict the Marine on Texas state charges; but the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas is currently investigating the incident.
Meissner described the shooting of Hernandez as "very tragic" and said the policy of placing armed U.S. Marines and soldiers on the border was under review by the Defense Department. She emphasized that 70 percent of the military assistance on the border was for "infrastructure" including road repairs, clearing brush, installing fences and communications support.
Meissner did not visit the scene of the Hernandez shooting although she was in Presidio, 15 miles away. She flew over the border area and described it as "vivid in my mind . . . huge . . . formidable . . . inhospitable."
Asked repeatedly by the press why she did not view the Redford scene on this, her first trip to the Marfa border sector, Meissner said she met with the Hernandez family and Redford residents several weeks ago in Washington, D.C., a meeting Meissner described as "emotional and productive."
Asked directly whether she had discussed the Hernandez shooting with President Bill Clinton, Meissner said, "No."
"Operation Rio Grande" Meissner described as complementary to similar operations in San Diego, Tucson, and El Paso. An INS press release quotes Meissner, "..our commitment is to gain control of the entire Southwest border while strengthening our operations at the ports of entry for those persons making legal entry into the U.S."
The border tightening will begin next week in Brownsville and move west to "expand control" of the border, said Meissner.
In response to questions about the loss of civil liberties, Meissner said there would be no diminishing of liberties and instead the operation would enhance safety, reduce crime and improve the quality of life on the border. She rejected the use of military terminology such as "low intensity conflict" and insisted the INS views their role as civilian law enforcement for the prevention and deterrence of illegal entries.
Meissner introduced the new Chief Patrol Agent for the Marfa sector, Agent Simon Garza, previously the Deputy Chief of the Border Patrol in Washington, D.C. With her at the podium was Bill Blagg, the current U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.
Skipping school has consequences
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By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, August 21, 1997 - With school just getting underway Juvenile Probation Officer Alberto Alvarez has already had two phone calls from parents complaining that their children refuse to attend school.
"One was a seven-year-old and the other was about a 13-year-old girl who refused to go to school," said Alvarez.
In cases like these the school has the first priority in dealing with the problem. "My recommendation to the parent of the seven-year-old was to get in touch with the campus principal and there should be some effort within the school to remedy the problem," said Alvarez.
After a certain amount of time, in which the child does not attend school, the school can file against the parent for not making the child go to school and the child can also be taken before municipal court or a justice of the peace.
"If it gets to an extreme, then they contact us and we can order for them to attend school here at the Juvenile Detention Center, we have the appropriate means for providing them an education or else send them to the Carver Alternative School," said Alvarez.
Alvarez stated that he has also been stopped by concerned community members about children they think should be in school and are not.
"In this case, there are some children that are young, that should be in second or third grade and are not attending school," said Alvarez.
Alvarez stated that in cases like these it is hard to monitor whether or not they do attend school.
"Sometimes they might go days or weeks of not attending school, but then they suddenly show up and they have an excuse from the parent," said Alvarez.
There is nothing the school can do but excuse the child in these cases and there is nothing legally that can be done, according to Alvarez.
"When we get calls from parents of seven- or eight-year-olds that don't want to attend school, I think the parents are just looking for an easy way out, because it's at this young age that they should set their foot down and make them attend," said Alvarez.
As they get older it gets harder to make them attend and starting at a young age, teaching them to attend school regularly is easier than trying at a later stage, said Alvarez.
"They let them get away with it when they're young and as they grow older they want to put their foot down and make them go and can't and they end up here at the JDC," he said.
Alvarez stated that one of his "pet peeves" is seeing a lot of school-age children at Wal-Mart, just "hanging out."
"A lot of these students went to the doctor earlier and just didn't go back to school or had a dentist appointment or something," said Alvarez.
And as long as they have an excuse from the parent there is nothing the schools or anyone else can do, according to Alvarez.
Alvarez stated that in the case of the 13-year-old female that didn't want to attend school, he had recommended the family to attend a program called "Stay Together," in Midland.
"They provide family intervention and show the family things they can do with the child, especially teenagers who are at risk the most," he said.
"I also suggested that they contact the school and to tell them to contact them each time the child is absent so that they can take control," said Alvarez.
Alvarez stated that he is "all for innovative ideas and the sky is the limit in what can be done to keep the children in school and make them stay there."
Alvarez spoke of an article he read recently in which the judge had two girls who had been absent from school constantly.
"He made them stand out in front of the post office with big neon signs apologizing to the community for wasting their tax money by not attending school," said Alvarez.
"If that's what it takes," said Alvarez. "Because if the child does not attend school, the school loses funds, the taxpayers lose out, the parents lose and so does the child because he loses out on an education," he said.
For the past two months juvenile probation department officials have seen more referrals of burglaries and other crimes, according to Alvarez.
"It had been on a decline, but the numbers have gone up these past two months," he said.
Five bands lined up for annual
Fall Festival Concert in October
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By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, August 21, 1997 - Five bands have been procured for the Annual Fall Fair Concert set for Oct. 4 at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.
"I'm just excited that we got the last two bands to perform," said Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera.
Headlining will be David Lee Garza and Los Musicales, Gary Hobbs, Shelly Lares, Los Nortenos De Ojinaga and Pecos' own Imprezion.
"This year will have Imprezion from Pecos kick off events and we want to make it a tradition to have a local band perform each year," said Rivera.
Tickets for the event will be $14 in advance and $17 at the gate.
"We'll have additional funds this year and we'll be able to cover some areas that we never have before," said Rivera.
For instance, advertising will be done in Roswel, N.M., San Angelo and other places where we have never advertised before, according to Rivera.
"This will help bring in more people to the annual event and make it a bigger success," he said.
"We're really looking forward to it and with the last contract signed I feel great and more relaxed," he said.
The Annual Barbecue Beef Cookoff is also scheduled for that weekend.
The cookoff will begin on Friday, Oct 3. and judging will be held Saturday.
Applications to participate are already accepted at the chamber office.
"This year's entry fee went back down to what it used to be, $65," said Rivera.
Winners will receive cash awards plus a trophy. Grand Champion will net $300 and a silver platter; first place will get $200 and a trophy and third place will receive $100 and a trophy in each division.
Toyah City Council tosses
out local ambulance service
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By GREG HARMAN
PECOS, August 21, 1997 - The Toyah ambulance will ride no more.
The decision was reached last Friday at a Toyah City Council meeting. While some citizens of the area are relieved, some are not so happy. Darlene Peters, a newly established citizen of Toyah, has raised her voice to complain Toya not only has no street signs, but, as of this Monday, no ambulance service.
If you call the number listed in the phone book for the Toyah ambulance you will find that it is disconnected.
Terry Andris, the Interim Administrator at Reeves County Hospital, simply stated that the Mayor Pro Tem of Toyah, Diana Tollett, contacted the hospital to say that on Aug. 15 the city council voted to discontinue ambulance service in Toyah. Through an inter-local agreement, the Reeves County Hospital Board subsidizes ambulance service for both Toyah and Balmorhea with $5,000 a year. The money remaining from this $5,000 in the Toyah coffers for this year will be returned.
Darlene Peters charged that even when the city did have an ambulance service it was "pick and choose." She said that "they (the ambulance service) would take the calls they wanted, but not take the unpopular or the ones they didn't like. Other people had to be driven to the hospital in their own vehicles because the ambulance refused to take them."
In place of the ambulance service, Toyah will now have what is called First Response. The problem will be filling the Emergency Medical Technician positions with qualified personnel. Again, Peters claims that qualified people are being overlooked for the EMT positions because the council is waiting to hire candidates which they prefer for personal reasons but who have yet to pass the qualifications test. Both Darlene Peters and Mitch Budlong, another citizen of Toyah, mentioned one such candidate who has taken the test approximately six times and has yet to pass it.
Toyah City Councilman Howard Dennet defended to council's decision to shut down ambulance service in Toyah, saying that there simply "weren't enough people" to support it. And responding to charges that the ambulance had a history of picking and choosing which calls for help they would and would not answer, he said that they had "never had a problem-a lawsuit-or anything of that nature."
According to Dennet the deciding factor in the decision to terminate ambulance service in Toyah rested with the city council. The council, according to Dennet, refused to accept control of the ambulance.
Dennet also charged that those people who were complaining of the council decision to shut down the ambulance service, and those who had complained in the past about the poor and selective service, "were interfering in something that's none of their business."
Council member Sharon Sanchez said that she had been out of town for three weeks and didn't know anything about the situation.
There were times in the past when the ambulance service was unable to respond. Budlong's wife injured her hand earlier this year and they were unable to get assistance from the Toyah ambulance service. Within one month of his wife's injury, Mitch Budlong also found himself in an emergency situation to which the ambulance was unable to respond. For this reason, Budlong believes the Council decision was a "good, sound, solid decision." He went on to recount one incident where a person who was having a severe asthma attack at the Toyah Texaco was loaded into a Pecos ambulance before the Toyah ambulance was even able to react. According to Councilman Dennet, having a city ambulance in such a small community is a great liability, especially when there is "not much to pick from for personnel."
" And," he went on to say, "we can always get an ambulance out of Pecos in 15-20 minutes."
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PECOS, August 21, 1997 - High Wednesday, 98, low this morning, 70. Conditions were hot and muggy around Texas Wednesday as isolated thunderstorms were developing over most of the state. In West Texas, showers were scattered across the southwest mountains Wednesday. Mostly sunny conditions dominated the rest of the region. Temperatures ranged from the 70s and 80s in the mountains to the 90s elsewhere. West Texans can expect partly cloudy skies through Friday with thunderstorms over the far west. Lows Thursday will be in the 60s and highs will be in the 90s.
24-hour weather info available - See the Pecos Enterprise Website on the Internet at http://www.pecos.net/news for continual radar coverage of area weather. Click on the "News" page and look for the "Weather" link.
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