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August 28, 1997

New program fights
stolen check forgers

Staff Writer
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PECOS, August 28, 1997 - The Pecos Police Department, in cooperation with the District Attorney's office and area stores, is implementing a program to cut down on forgery cases.

When a customer writes a check but does not have proper identification, they will be asked to put their fingerprint on the check. Regular customers who have proper identification will not be asked for fingerprints on their checks.

Investigator Kelly Davis has been contacting local stores about the program. He has even purchased fingerprinting ink that wipes off easily for the convenience of both the stores and the persons who will be asked to provide their fingerprints.

The program uses fingerprints to identify and locate persons forging worthless checks. Forgery costs area stores and their customers thousands of dollars each year. Stopping forgery will not only help stores and customers who end up paying higher prices, but the people whose checks are being stolen as well.

Forgery is when a check is stolen and written by someone other than the account holder, and is different from "bounced" checks, which are checks written by the account holder when there isn't enough money in the account to pay the check.

Davis estimated that 80 percent of the local stores contacted so far have agreed to participate in the program.
"So far, we've had good luck with the local stores," said Davis.

PBT ISD looking
to fill staff positions

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PECOS, August 28, 1997 - There are currently three unfilled teaching positions in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school district, and "every effort is being made to find certified teachers to fill these positions," said Interim Superintendent Wayne Mitchell.

One math teacher is needed at Zavala Middle School, and both a math teacher and a computer literacy teacher are needed at Crockett Middle School.

"The positions are being advertised everywhere that there might be a qualified teacher available," Mitchell said.

Mitchell added that the district is also searching for a speech therapist and a diagnostician, both of which "are very hard to find."

The district is also looking for a permanent superintendent, but Mitchell is filling in as interim superintendent until a permanent replacement is found.

Right now, the math and computer literacy classes are being taught by substitute teachers. "I hope that doesn't last very long," Mitchell said.

The district's personnel director, Crissy Urias, was unavailable for comment.

Offshore petroleum production
boom growing in deep water

AP Business Writer
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) August 28, 1997 - The growing boom in offshore petroleum production, especially in deep water, was evident as high bids to lease federal drilling tracts in the western Gulf of Mexico jumped by 73 percent from a year ago.

The U.S. Minerals Management Service said high bids totaling $616.2 million were accepted Wednesday for 804 tracts off the coast of Texas and in deepwater areas off part of the Louisiana coast.

A record total of 1,224 bids for the western Gulf tracts were received. Bidders put up $939.1 million, the MMS said. A year ago, the western Gulf auction attracted $356.1 million on 617 tracts.

The record total of winning bids for the western Gulf was $1.5 billion in 1983, just before a major collapse of natural gas and oil prices.

Petroleum operators have been returning to the Gulf during the past three years, encouraged by higher oil and natural gas prices and federal royalty relief providing more tax breaks the deeper an offshore well is drilled.

In addition, other coastal areas of the United States are under drilling restrictions that have virtually shut down exploration and production.

Since 1994, the number of deepwater tracts receiving bids in the western Gulf - in 800 meters or more of water - increased from nine to 603 this year.

"Everyone wins," said Robert Stewart, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, an offshore petroleum trade association. "Taxpayers win, consumers win, the industry wins and government wins."

But with the increased drilling, the industry faces a pinch in having enough equipment to explore and develop the tracts, said Paul Kelly, vice president of the Rowan Companies Inc., an offshore contract drilling service.

"The drilling industry is pretty well fully utilized," Kelly said. "It will be a challenge, but the capital is there for the companies to make the commitments and build the equipment."

Stewart said the bids indicated that petroleum companies are ready for an expensive haul to develop the tracts.

"They did not make these bids for the sake of saying they won the tracts," he said. The two highest bids for single tracts were $9.1 million submitted by Exxon Corp. and $9 million by Mobil Oil Corp.

In total bids, Shell Deepwater Development Inc. submitted 154 high bids totaling $74.1 million, BP Exploration & Oil Inc., submitted 80 bids totaling $44.8 million and Exxon submitted 68 bids totaling $62.4 million.

All of the winning bids will be checked by the MMS for fair market value before they are awarded.

Freeport moves closer to merger

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PECOS, August 28, 1997 - Freeport-McMoRan Inc. announced this week that the company has taken one more step toward a merger with IMC Global, Inc. by signing a definitive agreement for the merger.

The merged company will retain the IMC Global name and remain headquartered in Northbrook, Ill.

Terms of the merger provide Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FTX) shareholders with 0.90 of a share of IMC Global (NYSE: IGL) for each share of FTX common stock and one third of a warrant to purchase IGL common stock. Each whole warrant, which will expire on the third anniversary of the merger, will entitle the holder to purchase one share of IGL common stock at an exercise price of $44.50 per share.

FTX shareholders also will receive, as part of the merger consideration, shares of a newly formed sulphur company (Newco). Immediately prior to the IGL/FTX merger, the sulphur businesses of IGL and Freeport-McMoRan Resource Partners, Limited Partnership (NYSE: FRP), will be transferred to Newco, a subsidiary of FRP. Newco shares will be distributed to FRP public unitholders and FTX shareholders on a pro rata basis.

Application will be made to list the warrants and Newco shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Completion of the merger is subject to, among other things, approval of the definitive merger agreement by the IGL and FTX shareholders and approval under the art-Scott-Rodino Anti-Trust Improvements Act of 1976. The companies expect that the merger will be completed by the end of 1997.

IMC Global is one of the world's leading producers and marketers of phosphate and potash crop nutrients and animal feed ingredients, with calendar 1996 revenues and EBITDA of nearly $3 billion and $461 million, respectively. The company also produces and markets food-quality salt, and is one of the nation's leading distributors of crop nutrients, including nitrogen and related products through its FARMARKET and Rainbow distribution networks. Additionally, it sells potash and other products to industrial users, produces sulphur and oil through joint venture operations and markets lawn and garden products under its IMC Vigoro brand name.

Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. Owns a 51.6 percent interest in FRP, which is engaged in the production and sale of phosphate fertilizers and animal feed ingredients as well as the mining and sale of phosphate rock through IMC-Agrico Company, a joint venture with IGL, the mining, transporting, terminalling and marketing of sulphur and the exploration for, development and production of oil and gas reserves.

Decrease in minority enrollment
worries UT law school officials

Associated Press Writer
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) August 28, 1997 - The University of Texas law school counts U.S. Energy Secretary Federico Pena and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk among its minority graduates.

But school officials, forced to abandon affirmative action, said they were distressed as classes began Wednesday with only four blacks and 26 Mexican-Americans among 468 new students.

Last year, 31 blacks and 42 Mexican-Americans were enrolled.

"The University of Texas School of Law is greatly distressed by the sharp reduction," said M. Michael Sharlot, dean of the law school. "For two decades, this school has been enormously successful in recruiting, enrolling and graduating students from these two groups, which have been and continue to be grossly under-represented in the legal profession."

In California, Jesse Jackson planned a march across San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge today to protest Proposition 209, which bans race or gender from being a factor in state hiring or school admissions. The law goes into effect today.

Local officials were bracing for a march-related traffic jam.

"There is traffic every morning and every night. Traffic is not the problem," said Jackson. "Gender and ethnic cleansing is the problem. Re-segregation is the problem. Denying opportunity is the problem."

A similar measure, passed independently by University of California regents in 1995, is already in effect at graduate students and will apply to undergraduate admissions starting next year.

Officials in Texas blamed the low number of minority students on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in a reverse-discrimination lawsuit that the school could no longer use race as a factor in admissions and scholarships. The U.S. Supreme Court let the ruling stand last year.

Final enrollment figures won't be known until Sept. 12. But the university said the new law class also was expected to include 391 whites, 39 Asian Americans and eight other minorities - such as American Indians, Puerto Ricans and Cubans.

Law and medical schools in California experienced similar losses of minority students this year.

Border Patrol head
moves to California

Associated Press Writer
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WASHINGTON (AP) August 28, 1997 - The veteran immigration enforcement official taking the helm of the Border Patrol will be based in Southern California rather than Washington, a switch aimed at putting him closer to his 6,900 agents.

Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner on Wednesday announced the appointment of INS western region director Gustavo De La Vina as head of the Border Patrol. De La Vina, who began his career as a Border Patrol agent in 1970, will replace retiring chief Douglas Kruhm at year's end.

"Gus De La Vina brings the experience and vision that we need in our expansion of the U.S. Border Patrol," said Meissner, whose agency is the Border Patrol's parent.

The decision to keep De La Vina in Laguna Niguel, an hour's drive north of the border, reflects Meissner's desire to have the top Border Patrol manager "much closer to the field, to the agents who are actually on the line performing the job," said INS spokesman Bill Strassberger.

The current INS command structure, which is highly decentralized, has come under attack for fostering a lack of communication between headquarters and field operations.

Some INS observers questioned whether the move to keep the Border Patrol chief near the Southwestern border is more than symbolic.

"We've known at least for the last year that there is virtually no communication between Washington and the field offices," said Center for Immigration Studies policy analyst Rosemary Jenks, a longtime INS critic. "If this is an attempt to remedy that, at least in the Border Patrol, I'm not convinced that simply having him in close proximity to the border is going to change the lines of communication."

De La Vina, who was among a contingent of officials touring the border with drug czar Barry McCaffrey, wasn't available for comment.

De La Vina has headed the INS's western region since 1994, when he was promoted from chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector.

While sector chief, De La Vina helped launch an operation designed to crack down on the wave of illegal crossings in San Diego by beefing up manpower and fortifying the border.

The Edinburg, Texas, native also did stints in Eagle Pass, McAllen and El Paso before going to California in 1990.

De La Vina will be taking the helm at a challenging time in the Border Patrol's 73-year history.

Rising public and congressional interest in immigration issues have pressured Border Patrol managers to craft a more effective border-control strategy. Long underfunded, the Border Patrol has grown more than 60 percent in three years and has a new arsenal of modern law enforcement technologies, such as motion detectors and night-vision equipment, at its fingertips.

Yet the additional resources haven't translated into a less porous border, key lawmakers complain. An estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants live here, a number that swells by some 275,000 each year.

Border Patrol defenders point to the 1.5 million apprehensions made by agents last year and the fact the agency has become the chief interdictor of drugs outside ports of entry. The Border Patrol seized some $1.2 billion in marijuana, cocaine and heroin last year. |

City begins improvement of sewers

Staff Writer
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PECOS, August 28, 1997 - Plans are underway to improve the sewer system in Pecos, according to Town of Pecos City Director of Public Works Octavio Garcia.

"We've been having problems with the sewer system for a number of years now," said Garcia.

Smoke-testing, which began earlier this summer, has almost been completed and is part of the procedure to improve conditions.

The project consisted of pumping smoke into sewer lines as part of the city sanitary sewer system evaluation. At any location where there is a break in the sewer system smoke will come out during the test, according to Garcia.

Garcia explained that when they see smoke they take a picture to verify where the smoke comes out for when they get back to make repairs.

"We'll be prioritizing in fixing the lines, after the smoke testing has been completed," said Garcia.

The data from the smoke testing will be compiled and the city will work on the location which is the worst.

"Right now we know we'll need to replace all the sewer lines, but we'll try to work on Third St.," said Garcia.

The city engineer will be notified of the results of the smoke test so that he can work on the details and specifications of what is needed to be put out for bids, according to Garcia.

"We'll start working on the new sewer lines at the beginning of the year," said Garcia. "Eventually we want to fix all the sewer lines in town, but depending on what the smoke test reveals we will start with the worst ones first," he said.

Garcia stated that it's an expensive project which will take a long time to finally complete, but the city has already applied for several grants to help with the funding.

"It's possible that we'll get a grant to help with the Third St. repairs and then hit it hard and get money for the most of the rest of what we need to repair," he said.

The sewer lines in town will be fixed first and that will let the city know whether or not the sewer plant needs to be expanded.

"We won't know how much expansion the sewer plant will need, if any, until most of the sewer lines are replaced," said Garcia.

Lubbock's smallest
hospital may close

Associated Press Writer
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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) August 28, 1997 - Wracked by four years of fewer patients, Lubbock's smallest hospital announced Wednesday it will shut down Oct. 31 if its parent corporation can't find a buyer.

"This is not an easy decision, nor is it one made lightly," South Park chief executive Clint Matthews said. "We have been looking at a variety of options over the last year, and unfortunately none has developed."

South Park Hospital, which recently agreed to a $9.5 million settlement with the family of a woman who died at the hands of a drug-abusing doctor, reported a 7-percent occupancy rate at the 98-bed facility in last month.

The hospital stopped accepting new patients Wednesday. The decision to close had nothing to do with the lawsuit agreement, officials added.

National health care giant Tenet HealthSystem acquired South Park and 49 other institutions in a January merger. Tenet will host job fairs for the 196 South Park employees who received their 60-day notice Wednesday.

Open positions at Tenet locations nationwide are being posted at the hospital.

Lubbock is dominated by the much larger Methodist and St. Mary hospital systems, which recently announced they are merging. University Medical Center, Lubbock County's public hospital, also dwarfs South Park.

Though South Park enjoys a prominent location in southwest Lubbock, officials said the changing industry left the complex mostly empty.

"Other hospitals have been able to develop their own physician networks and develop relationships to those hospitals," said Milynda Walker, director of business development. "It's been a difficult scenario for us to overcome."

Even if the hospital closes, Ms. Walker said Tenet will continue to manage an adjacent professional building as long as occupancy remains profitable.


Nettie Fay Oster

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PECOS, August 28, 1997 - Nettie Fay Oster, 74, died Tuesday, Aug. 26, 1997, at her residence in Pecos.

Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29, at West Park Baptist Church with Rev. James Sain officiating. Burial will be in Mount Evergreen Cemetery.

She was born Dec. 29, 1923, in Crowell, Tx., was a member of West Park Baptist Church and a housewife.

Survivors include her husband, Clarence Oster of Pecos; two sons, Larry Oster of Birmingham, Ala., Ronnie Oster of Odessa; one daughter, Betty Collier of Bishop; two brothers, Alton R. Griffin of Lubbock, Riley R. Griffin of Odessa; one sister, Effie Foster of Floyada, Tx. and seven grandchildren.

The family requests that memorials be made to the West Park Baptist Church in Pecos, Sixth and Eddy Streets.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


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PECOS, August 28, 1997 - High Wednesday, 100, low this morning, 65. It will be mostly sunny and warm across all of Texas through the Labor Day weekend. Forecasts call for little change in the current pattern through the end of the holiday weekend. It will be mostly sunny during the day and fair at night across all of West Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 50s in the mountains and in the 60s and 70s over the rest of West Texas. Highs Friday will be in the 80s and 90s in West Texas, ranging upward to near 107 in the Big Bend area.

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Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
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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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