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Van Horn Advocate
September 2, 1997
County budget results in
one cent drop in tax rate
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By MAC McKINNON
PECOS, September 2, 1997 - Reeves County Commissioners, meeting in special session Friday, reduced the county tax rate by one cent to 54.916 cents after approving budgets for the general fund, road & bridge fund and Reeves County Detention Center, all balanced and two with a surplus balance.
In setting the budget for the road and bridge, commissioners cut the local license plate renewal rate in half, from $10 to $5. The budget set for road and bridge was actually in excess of anticipated revenues but County Judge Jimmy Galindo said he and road administrator Russ Salcido would work on the budget to make sure it was balanced so as not to eat into the fund balance which is in excess of $250,000.
There were few changes in the budget as approved as compared to the proposed budget although there were a few additions including $1,500 for repairs to the 4-H Barn at the request of Wynne Hamilton with Galindo noting there should be another $1,500 in this year's budget to help make repairs and for a paint job.
Hamilton noted that he and others had spent a considerable amount of time and money on the 4-H facilities. He was praised and it was mentioned by Commissioner Bernado Martinez that the barn should be named for Hamilton. If that is done, Hamilton said he wished the name of Howard Collier could be included. He noted Collier has been a big supporter of 4-H and the facilities.
Money to pay part of the salary of a second secretary for the county attorney was also included at the request of the county attorney, Walter Holcombe. Part of the salary is also to be made up by his discretionary funds such as the hot check balance and other collections that he can use at his discretion.
Holcombe challenged commissioners on a number of items including questioning where was the benefit to the county and taxpayers from the county detention center.
Galindo pointed out that the county's general fund is supplemented to the tune of almost $900,000 from income at the RCDC, almost one-fourth the total budget of the general fund which amounts to $4,067,742.95.
That $900,000 includes $400,000 to the county for rent of the county owned RCDC, $175,000 for administrative support, $300,000 for transportation (out of which there are expenses) as well as $20,000 that goes directly to support the Pecos Fire Department.
The budget includes a $500 a year raise for all county employees with the exception of elected officials.
Holcombe challenged a travel allowance increase for Galindo which grew from $4,800 a year to $9,600 a year. Galindo's out of county travel was cut from $7,640 to $5,000. Commissioners receive a travel allowance of $4,800 and an increase for out of county travel from $2,000 to $3,500.
Martinez defended the increase for Galindo saying the judge has been very productive in increasing income at the RCDC, cutting costs in the county and working on new programs.
It was mentioned at the start of the meeting that Galindo has received a tentative guarantee of 150 prisoners per day from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The contract is still being worked on but could increase the capacity under an expansion program at the RCDC.
Holcombe also challenged the pay of top executives at the RCDC, saying those hired are BOP retirees, don't live here and work only four days a week. He also challenged the contract with attorney Bill Weinacht, the former county attorney, to provide legal services to the RCDC for $50,000 per year. Holcombe said the commissioners misinterpreted a letter he sent to them at the first of the year when he took office saying that he would not represent the county nor the RCDC. He noted at Friday's meeting that he did not mean that he would not look at contracts and other legal matters at the RCDC.
All members of the court had praise for the RCDC Chief Executive Officer Rudy Franco and said the county's customer, the Bureau of Prisons, is very happy with the way things are going at the RCDC.
Commissioner Dr. W. J. Bang has questioned administrative costs at the RCDC and voiced concerns on several occasions Friday. Martinez called Bang "negative" and representative of the minority.
Others on the court ignored Martinez's verbal salvos.
When questioned by a member of the audience about talk of decreasing commissioner's pay, Galindo noted that such a move would be very divisive and that is what happened when pay was reduced several years ago. Now there is harmony and progress being made, he noted.
Martinez asked that pay for commissioner's mileage be increased from 24 cents to the federal level of 31 cents. Galindo noted that would have to be handled through the personnel manual that sets the rate for mileage pay.
Others addressing the court regarding the budget were County Librarian Nancy Bentley who asked for part of her pay to go to her assistant, Robbie Jones, or else use part of the book money for more pay for her. The assistant also asked for more money as she noted it is difficult to make a living on her salary of $13,020. Bentley said that due to a lack of space, the book budget for this year has not been spent and some of that money could be used for more pay for the assistant as well as for a part-timer. No action was taken on the librarians' requests.
Hilda Mendoza, head of the meals-on-wheels program, addressed the commissioners and asked for help in getting more volunteers to serve the 103 to 104 people served meals Monday through Friday at noon in Pecos and Barstow. In addition, 18-20 are served in Saragosa and Balmorhea each day. She praised County Auditor Lynn Owens and Commissioner Felipe Arredondo for helping out when they can as well as Sheriff Andy Gomez.
Galindo asked about a waiting list and was told there is a lengthy one to get meals. He noted he was particularly interested in that list and asked Mendoza for more information on it. He pointed out there could be ways to get additional help.
A grant administrator was not funded although that could be adjusted at the end of the year, Galindo noted. A total of $5,000 more was budgeted for civic center repairs and maintenance and the golf course also received special attention.
The surplus in the general fund is to be used to help pay the county's share of the Economic Development Plan for the county in which the city and hospital will share expenses. The county has gotten an attorney general's opinion that it is legal for the county to help in such an effort. There will be a meeting among the entities involved for economic development later this week.
Part of the surplus will be to help finance a girls' softball program in cooperation with the school district with improvements at Martinez Field.
On the RCDC budget, prepared by Franco in a folder which proved impressive to all commissioners, revenues anticipated total $10,299,861 with expenses totalling $10,175,384.55. Expenses included allowances for a proposed expansion.
The budget is based on an average of 630 prisoners although the prison has averaged higher than that this year and an expansion project could have the center near 1,000 by the second quarter of the year.
Galindo noted that every effort is being made to conserve funds so as to pay as much as one million in cash for the expansion in order to limit borrowing as much as possible.
Regarding INS prisoners, Galindo noted that income could total $1.9 million out of which it is hoped that about $400,000 can be used to expand the juvenile detention center for INS as well as BOP. Galindo said the juvenile board will be asking commissioners in the near future to consider such a proposal as the juvenile center now has certain expenses that just can't be covered by the 12 beds that are available, many of which are used by local juveniles which don't generate income.
Internet coming to PBT ISD
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By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, September 2, 1997 - A long range technology plan to incorporate the Internet into each school in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD is being developed by school district officials, according to Career and Technology Director Jodi Exum.
"This will happen in stages," said Exum.
The plan will be presented to the school board in September.
Pecos High School is currently the only campus that has access to the Internet, but the plan is to eventually take it to each individual campus.
"The next campus is the eighth grade, Crockett Middle School, and we plan to move down from there to the other campuses," said Exum.
Exum stated that school officials are also very excited about events that will be happening in September in conjunction with the Internet.
"We plan to open the Pecos High School Library, where the Internet is set up, to the public and school staff," said Exum.
The library will be open from 6-8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and the public and staff will have access to the Internet.
"This will allow them to come and use the Internet, we have 24 stations set up in there," said Exum.
Before anyone is allowed to use the Internet, they will undergo some training, according to Exum.
"They will have to attend some classes that we will be offering," said Exum.
The classes will be held on Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 and individuals will have to attend both before they are allowed to use the Internet resources at the school. Classes will be held from 4-6 p.m. in the library.
High school teachers will be the first ones on the list to attend the classes and they will probably fill up the first classes, according to Exum.
"We're going to try to keep having these classes every two weeks until everyone has attended," said Exum.
"We'll just keep having sessions and try to train all the teachers first and take it from there," she said.
The Internet will also be installed at one of the computer classes, Lab 20, at Pecos High School.
"This will help us to have as many sessions as we want," said Exum.
The big thing the district is working on is in helping the staff learn how to incorporate the Internet into the classes.
Before anyone has access to the Internet they will need to sign an acceptable use policy, according to Exum.
They will also have guidelines that will need to be followed, according to Exum.
Alpine hot air balloons take to the wind
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By GREGG HARMAN
ALPINE, September 2, 1997 - Pulling out onto SH 17 to Balmorhea, bound for Alpine and the hot air balloon rally. The Led Zepplin A to Z countdown is on the radio. It's a measly three songs of anthem rock before we can no longer receive the station - or any other - and our dog Belle in the back-seat doesn't seem to mind. It's just as well because soon as we're past Balmorhea my wife and I are awed by the change of scenery.
As we cross through the Barrilla Mountains, that old familiar feeling comes creeping back, and I remember why road tripping has been one of my lifetime highs. Whole countries are rolling under my tires and past us out the windows. And while these are supposedly some of the youngest mountains in the world, I feel the long and violent history stirring. The land here, being the tail end to the Rocky Mountains, is remarkably like that of Southern Wyoming.
I think of the balloons. I think of crossing, high above the heat of the asphalt, along this great land. I've never seen hot air balloons in person, neither has my wife. And Belle, our pointer sleeping in the back seat, has no idea what is in store. I don't bother to explain it to her. After all, the first creatures to ride in what we today call hot air balloons were not humans; the Montgolfier brothers in France launched, for the amusement of one King Louis XVI, a duck, rooster and a sheep in September of 1783. She may get demanding armed with such information or, worse yet, attempt to stow away in one of the wicker baskets.
I notice a butterfly entering dangerously close to my lane. Butterflies, like the hot air balloons, are directed by the breeze. A friend of mine in Fort Worth, and the only person I know who has ridden in a hot air balloon, was overwhelmed by the experience and could talk of nothing else for weeks. His words were in my head now, "There's no wind up there," he would say, "because you are the wind."
Butterflies seem to be the wind - to me their wings appear more for decoration than transportation. Other insects achieve impact with the windshield (the transformation from simple windshield to giant invisible fly-swatter seems to occur around 50-60 mph) before they even enter my vision; butterflies, due to their colorful and broad wings, stutter about much longer before enmeshing in the grill or catching under the wiper blades. They are the ones sharing the highways I hate to kill the most.
Saturday afternoon in Alpine and the skies are clear. No leftover balloon cadets from the early morning launch still drift at the mercy of the wind. We haven't met anyone yet who has seen the balloons fly on the two previous launches, but the evidence is here. In a trailer parked downtown we spot a large wicker basket strapped into place. Because of the need for lightweight materials in balloon flight the baskets are generally made of wicker, aluminum, or fiberglass.
The sport of ballooning caught on in the U.S. soon after the turn of the century. 1906 saw the prototype for the balloon race in the Gordan Bennett Balloon Trophy Races, which were repeated annually in the 1920s and 1930s. These days, Summer is the balloon season. The Alpine Balloon Rally falls on the tail end of the season.
The "Balloon Glow" had been cancelled the previous night due to high winds. Saturday night was windy as well, but the powers that be thought better of turning away a crowd of this size without a show. So, without attaching the balloons, the pilots shot their propane fires high into the air in turn. An honest balloon glow is something like an inverted Christmas tree, Tom Connolly, one of the pilots participating this year, said to us. As the tethered balloons ignite their engines, they "glow" inside their nylon, dacryon, or taffeta shells close to the ground.
I ask him what we can expect at the rally in the morning. "It's based more on accuracy," he replies, "not speed." Apparently, one team (the fox) launches first and lays the "X" on the ground for the other team (the hound). The closest to the "X" wins.
The pilots have come from all over Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma - one pilot came all the way from Panama City Beach, Florida.
The crowd is quickly awed by the balloons as they achieve their new inflated stature and begin to depart from the earth. They drift away in silence, apart from the spurts of propane flame, and several pilots wave back to the crowd they are slowly moving away from.
"Thank you, Alpine!" one pilot calls. The crowd cheers. It is truly a spectacular event as these cloth and wicker giants (hot air balloons hold between 19,000 and 200,000 cubic feet of air and reach up to 90 feet in height) pull away from us land-locked balloons and become one with the wind.
We follow the stream of cars to the landing site, located at the airport landing strip, and are humored by a spectator buzzard perched atop a wooden fence post with wings outstretched. "The whole towns turned out for this thing," I think to myself. They really have.
I meet a woman who has just arrived from her ranch for the event - a video camera clutched in her hands. Together we silently watch the great orbs join us back on the solid earth.
There are several other balloon rallies scheduled for this month. Big Springs will host "Texas Flights" on Sept. 5-6, and Midland will play host to "Texas Flights" on October 26. New Mexico, Cuba, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and Tucumcari will all host hot air events in September.
World continues mourning
for Britain's Princess Diana
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By ROBERT SEELY
Associated Press Writer
LONDON (AP) September 2, 1997 - Mourners for Princess Diana stood 10 deep in London today, while French prosecutors began court proceedings against photographers accused of pursuing her car then reaching for their cameras rather than lending a hand after it crashed.
A Paris judge placed the first of seven photographers expected to appear in court today under formal investigation for involuntary homicide and failing to aid the dying princess and her companions. The judge then released Nikola Arsov, who was working for the Sipa agency.
Formal investigation is a step short of being formally charged.
In London, thousands waited up to seven hours in line on Pall Mall to sign condolence books at St. James's Palace, where Diana's body is lying in the Chapel Royal.
Buckingham Palace, grappling with how to handle the million or more expected to compete Saturday for a glimpse of Diana's funeral procession, announced that the nation will observe a minute's silence after the Westminster Abbey service. The palace also announced Prince Charles canceled all public and private engagements through next week.
With the funeral arrangements looking increasingly complex, the palace said the half-mile route from St. James's Palace to the abbey may be narrowed to allow more people in and bring them closer to the casket.
Five hundred members of Diana's favorite charities, which include AIDS, cancer, the homeless and leprosy, will walk behind the coffin.
The burial at Althorp, her family's stately home, will be private.
Outside Chapel Royal, officials increased the number of condolence books from four to 15, but could not keep up with the demand. Mountains of flowers sprouted outside of Kensington Palace, Diana's residence.
The public outpouring intensified as emerging details of Sunday's crash grew more shocking. Much of the initial outrage was directed at the paparazzi - the photographers who pursued Diana on motorcycles the night she died.
Since then, French authorities have said the driver of Diana's car, Henri Paul, was legally drunk and possibly pushing his Mercedes over 100 mph. The driver also reportedly taunted pursuing photographers and tried to weave around slower traffic.
September 2, 1997
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Francisca C. Mata, 81, of Pecos, died Friday, Aug. 29, 1997, at Midland Memorial Hospital.
Mass was held at 11 a.m., Monday, Sept. 1, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with Father Antonio Mena officiating. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery.
She was born Dec. 3, 1915, in Ruidosa, Tx., was a housewife and a Catholic.
She was preceded in death by one son, Ismael (Mie) Mata.
Survivors include three sons, Felix, Domingo (Mingo) and Enrique Mata of Pecos; five daughters, Julia Contreras, Catalina (Cato) Ybarra, Flora Ybarra, Anita Evaro of Pecos, Vicky Ybarra of Midland; two brothers, Lupe and Nick Carrasco of Pecos; three sisters, Eugenia Sanchez of Toyah, Manuela Contreras of Pecos, Catalina (La Wera) Meraz of Amarillo; 34 grandchildren and 46 great-grandchildren.
Martinez Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Warren Smith, Jr.
Warren P. Smith, Jr., died Sunday, Aug. 31, 1997, at his home in Shawnee, Okla.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Sept. 3, at Roach Funeral Home in Shawnee.
He was a Pecos resident from 1965 until 1980, retired from Texaco and a Presbyterian.
Survivors include his wife, Caroline Smith of Shawnee, Okla.; two sons, Warren R. Smith of Monahans, Steve Smith of Shawnee; two daughters, Cathy Moore of Shawnee, Melanie Hancock of Kansas and five grandchildren.
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PECOS, September 2, 1997 - High Monday, 95, low this morning, 64. Cooler, wetter weather is on the way. Skies were clear to partly cloudy over most of the state this morning, although clouds and some widely scattered thunderstorms were reported along the Gulf Coast. Up to two inches of rain fell in western Galveston County this morning. Temperatures this morning were in the 70s, except for some 60s in West Texas and the Panhandle. Temperatures were expected to reach the 90s again this afternoon, but a cool front approached the Panhandle from Colorado this morning. The West Texas forecast calls for the front to bring increasing cloudiness and the chance of rain this afternoon and tonight. North winds promised cooler temperatures tonight and Wednesday. Lows tonight will be in the 50s and 60s, except for some 70s in the Big Bend valleys. Highs Wednesday will range from the 70s in the Panhandle to near 102 along the Big Bend.
San Angelo Standard Times
Abilene Reporter News
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dallas Morning News
Texas Press Association
York (Pa.) Daily Record, Sister Paper to 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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