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Daily Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Reeves County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


October 1, 1997

Reduction in rates has catch

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 1, 1997 - Captive ratepayers may bear the burden of
Texas-New Mexico Power Company's "stranded costs" in the move to
electric power competition.

Recently, the city council voted, despite contrary advice issued by the
City Attorney Scott W. Johnson, to support a plan by Texas-New Mexico
Power Company to make preparatory moves in anticipation of the
deregulation of the power utility industry.

Johnson advised the council at the Sept. 11 meeting that, according to
his sources, the "city would benefit more if it did nothing."

However, in a motion led by Councilman Randy Graham and seconded by
Councilman Danny Rodriguez, the city adopted an ordinance in support of
the transition plan that stated the "concepts set forth by the Texas-New
Mexico Power Company are fair and reasonable and in the best interest of
the City and its citizens."

"There wasn't anything binding about (the ordinance)," said City Manager
Kenneth Neal, "We're merely supporting their efforts."

According to TNMP Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Jack
Chambers these efforts by the power company are being made because TNMP
wants their customers "to realize price reductions immediately, as
opposed to waiting on them being part of a legislative mandate in a few

Attorney Geoffrey Gay, of the Austin law firm Butler, Porter, Gay and
Day, said that the position of his firm is that they "needed to see some
strong indications" that TNMP would be sharing the bill of the stranded
costs. As the plan stands, Gay said, the ratepayers are responsible for
recovery of 100 percent of the costs.

"There is only a contribution (to recovery of the stranded costs) from
TNMP to the extent that you believe they are entitled to a rate
increase," Gay said. "There would be natural rate reductions if nothing
were done," he said. According to Gay, establishing a fixed rate at its
current high level and offering small reductions (the proposed six
percent decrease) would not benefit the consumers, but would costitute a
rate increase.

The Transition-To-Competition plan, filed with the Public Utility
Commission of Texas on July 31, 1997, promises a series of rate
reductions for customers over a five year transition period that would
total about six percent off the base rate by Jan. 1, of 2002. They also
propose to offer individual customers the choice of their power
providers (TNMP will remain the deliverer) at the end of the transition

This plan differs from TNMP's Community Choice plan (which was filed in
1996 and later abandoned) mainly in who is asked to pick up the bill for
TNMP's significant economic import, or: stranded costs. In the Community
Choice proposal shareholders were to pay for the stranded costs. Under
the current plan, that burden has fallen on the captive ratepayers.

According to TNMP, they need to recover these stranded costs in order to
compete in a de-regulated environment. The Transition-to-Competition
plan provides the company with time for that opportunity. But ratepayers
won't be alone in this burden. According to Valerie Smith, TNMP Media
Contact, the recovery of stranded costs is "shared responsibility"
between the company, the shareholders and the ratepayers.

Stranded cost is the difference between the cost of producing
electricity at TNMP and what purchasers of electricity in a competitive
marketplace will be willing to pay for power, according to TNMP

"Obviously we don't want the customers to pay for the whole thing," said
Smith. Smith said the proposed earnings cap on company earnings would
affect the shareholders. "But most shareholders are worried about the
uncertain situation (in the power industry) and prefer to know the
downside up front.

Texas-New Mexico Power, which according to Smith generates 40 percent of
the energy it provides, is in a good position owning a coal plant. The
Office of Public Utility Counsel projects that for the period of
1996-2003 the price of delivered coal will decrease by 0.4 percent. All
other fuel prices are projected to rise: fuel oil by 3.4 percent;
natural gas by 1.4 percent; and uranium by 1.6 percent.

Recent legal changes have also encouraged the growth of Independent
Power Production (non-utility power stations). According to Leslie Kjell
Strand of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, once competition
becomes reality in Texas companies that supply power, but don't
generate, may be your power provider. IPP's may buy from the wholesale
market and sell at retail prices. If TNMP were to sell off their only
existing power plant, they would be in a profitable position should the
power industry be deregulated.

In New Mexico, they have already adopted a similar version of Community
Choice. There is a three year transition period in which rates will be
frozen. The transition period began on May 1, 1997.

According to the Public Utility Counsel, "Whether such market structure
changes benefit or harm the average ratepayer will depend upon the
consumer protections enacted by law or regulation that accompany any
transition to a more competitive structure."

Cooks lined up for annual barbecue

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 1, 1997 - More than 30 cooks have signed up to compete in
the 25th Annual World Championship Barbecue Cookoff scheduled for this
weekend at the Reeves County Sheriff's Posse Arena.

The event starts Friday, Oct. 3, with participants setting up their
camps inside the arena.

"We're doing a lot better this year, we have more entries now, than we
did at the end last year," said Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera.

Rivera stated that he feels real good about this cookoff and hopes more
participants sign up.

"Some people usually wait until the last minute to sign up, but they
have plans to join anyway," said Rivera.

The last day to sign up for the cookoff is Friday at 5 p.m.

Entry fee for the cookoff is $65 per team, with a limit of 85 teams.
Divisions are open to pro, amateur and club groups. Grand prize is $300
and a silver plate; first prize in each division is $200 and a trophy;
second prize in each division is $100 and a trophy. Awards will also be
presented for Worst Barbecue and Best Camp.

"We welcome all entries until the very last minute," said Rivera.

Pecos High School Homecoming Activities

PECOS, October 1, 1997 - Today: Crazy Hair Day. Spook their spirits day.

Thursday: '70s/Disco Day. Freak 'em out day (Le Freak).

Homecoming Parade. Lineup at 4 p.m. at Pecos High School. Parade begins
at 4:30 p.m.

Homecoming Bonfire. 8:30 p.m., at the old landfill.

Friday: Tradition Day. Wear your purple and gold day.

Pecos Eagles vs Kermit Yellowjackets. Home game begins at 7:30 p.m. at
Eagle Stadium.

Most rigs operating in Reeves Co. since 1980

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 1, 1997 - There are currently five oil wells being
recompleted or redrilled in Reeves County, which is the most since 1980,
according to Susan Wimberly of Cravey Brothers Inc.

She said that there are 7,000 wells in Reeves County at last count, but
most are re-entries on old wells. Some are gas wells, and some are oil
wells with pump jacks on them.

John Dorr, a specialist in petroleum land management, said, "It's a lot
of wells for Reeves County."

Dorr credits recent seismographic testing with the increased oil field
activity in the area. He said that Burlington Northern and other
companies have been doing a lot of seismographic work, and positive
prospects from the testing have brought business here.

"With the new technology in 3-D seismic and horizontal drilling, it's
going to do the industry a lot of good," Dorr said.

Dorr also said that four horizontal rigs have been drilled in Reeves
County. The rigs are in the process of being completed and production

"I imagine there's going to be several more real soon," Dorr said.

Rattlesnake bites are serious business

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 1, 1997 - A four-year-old child's recent run-in with a
rattler in Monahans has caused concern over a possible increase in
rattlesnake activity. However, hospitals in Iraan (Hospital of Pecos
County) and Ft. Stockton (Pecos County Memorial Hospital) report no
rattlesnake bites recently.

Here in Pecos at the Reeves County Hospital, they report a couple of
bites within the last couple weeks. But, according to Infection Control
Nurse Iris Rives, there has been no unusual increase. She did say that
changes in the weather do affect the snakes.

Rives offered tips on what to do if someone is bitten by a rattlesnake.
Get the bitten person to the hospital as quickly as you can. If
possible, collect the snake for positive identification - remember, the
head of a decapitated rattler has a reaction time of up to an hour and
may bite again, she said.

Immobilize the bitten part as if it were a fractured bone, and hold it
below the level of the bitten person's heart. Remove rings or any other
constrictive items and do not use a tourniquet.

Also, Rives said, "Do not apply ice. If the distance to the hospital is
greater than two hours you may use suction on the wound, but do not
incise." If you are unable to reach a hospital within two hours,
wrapping a bandage over the wound may help, but do not wrap it too

Remember, a rattlesnake bite is serious business. The four-year-old
child biten by a rattler in Monahans recovered but had to undergo three
surgeries to remove swelling caused by the bite.

Bids come in too high for PHA renovation project

Staff Writer

PECOS, October 1, 1997 - Bids from contractors for a major project
planned for the Pecos Housing Authority apartments were opened Tuesday

PHA was awarded a grant from Comprehensive Improvement Assistance
Program (CIAP), to do major renovations to apartments located on the
south side of town and the elderly apartments located on Second Street.

"All of them were overbid," said Edward Vaughn, of Vaughn Architects

Vaughn is the architect currently working on this CIAP project and has
worked with others in the past.

"What I'm going to do now, is talk to HUD, to see if they'll permit me
to negotiate with Master's Builders and get them to do the work," said

"We're only eight percent over the budget," he said.

Master's Builders Construction Co., of Midland, was the closest bidder
to the amount assigned for the contracting part of the project.

The amount set aside for contractors was $1.1 million.

Vaughn stated that he would have more information for the group at the
next regular meeting.

The meeting following the opening of the bids was cancelled due to the
fact that a decision would not be rendered, until Vaughn can talk to HUD
about the problem.

Women steal another woman's identity

TYLER, Texas (AP) October 1, 1997 - Amanda Snyder was in an automobile
accident last May - but that wasn't nearly the end of her troubles that

The 22-year-old Tyler woman also lost her purse, along with her driver's
license, her checkbook, her Social Security card and credit cards.

Two other Tyler women were arrested Tuesday on felony theft charges.
They're suspected of opening credit accounts and purchasing at least
$10,000 in merchandise in recent weeks, using Ms. Snyder's

April Renee Holder, 19, and Deborah Ann Casey, 33, virtually stole Ms.
Snyder's identity, Tyler police said.

The two women were arrested as a result of a tip to the Tyler-Smith
County Crimestoppers, but not before Ms. Snyder's credit was virtually

Credit accounts in Ms. Snyder's name were opened throughout East Texas
and in Dallas, police said Tuesday.

"This is a real tragedy," Tyler Police Public Information Sgt. Terry
Morrow said. "She's got years ahead of her before she can restore her
credit, even though none of this is her fault."

Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lubbock air base closes

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) October 1, 1997 - The military has ended its 56-year
presence on the South Plains with the closure of Reese Air Force Base,
which will undergo a conversion into a commercial park.

"Reese Air Force Base may be closed, but her legacy lives forever," said
Col. Kodak Horton, the 33rd and final commander here, during the
inactivation ceremony Tuesday. The 3,000-acre facility on the western
edge of Lubbock henceforth will be called Reese Center.

The Air Force Base Conversion Agency will remain to clean up some
environmental contamination left over from the military mission. Once
that's done, the Lubbock-Reese Redevelopment Authority will market the
facility to businesses.

Only about 230 workers remained as of Tuesday instead of the 2,500
military and civilian personnel who worked there when the Base Closure
and Realignment Commission doomed Reese in a 1995 vote.

The base was estimated to have had a $201.2 million annual economic
impact on the city. However, a strong national economy, good recent
cotton crops and growth in other sectors have counterbalanced the base's
gradual closure.

Officials hope to turn the tree-lined base into a viable commercial
center west of town.

Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Texas schools spent $80 million on security

DALLAS (AP) October 1, 1997 - The cost of making Texas schools safer
reached $80.6 million last year, and the extra spending may be working,
figures compiled by the Texas Education Agency show.

The spending on police, metal detectors and other security measures
breaks down to roughly $21 per student, according to The Dallas Morning
News' editions Tuesday.

"The public made it clear that they want safe schools in Texas and the
message has gotten through to local school boards and the Legislature,"
said Dallas school administrator Robby Collins, a school finance expert.
"That is why we are seeing more money than ever being spent on school

Houston's $7.5 million on security was the most in the state. San
Antonio had the highest rate at $77 per student. Fort Worth was second
in both categories at $4.9 million overall and $65 per student.

In some urban districts, security spending was about the same as on
extracurricular activities.

Dallas' per student rates were $36 for security and $41 on student
activities. In Houston, the figures were $36 for security and $35 on
sports and all nonclassroom activities. A 1996 state summary of criminal
offenses in public schools shows a decrease in most categories.

During the 1995-96 school year, 547 firearms were seized from students,
a drop of 35.7 percent from the previous year. Also, 5,071 other weapons
were confiscated, a 40.7 percent decrease.

"There is no doubt the number of guns coming on campus has been dropping
annually for the past few years," said Bruce Marquis, chief of police in
the Houston school district.

Assaults against students and teachers were also down. Attacks against
students in schools totaled 47,942 (down 5.8 percent) and against
teachers totaled 4,112 (down 34 percent).

However, acts of vandalism and criminal mischief against school and
student property soared, and student arrests for alcohol and drug
offenses were up 45 percent.

Incidences of school-related gang violence remained unchanged in the
1995-96 school year.

State lawmakers are paying attention to the increase in security
spending and will scrutinize the subject over the next several months.

"We want to look at whether the state should become more of a partner
with the schools in protecting students," said Senate Education
Committee Chairman Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo.

Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


PECOS, October 1, 1997 - High Tuesday, 99, low this morning, 66. It's
going to be more like summer than autumn across Texas through the rest
of the week, forecasters say. It will be fair to partly cloudy across
West Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 50s and 60s. Highs Thursday will
be in the 80s and 90s.

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