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


Mac McKinnon


Friday, January 16, 1998


By Mac McKinnon

Area countryside has plenty to offer

The area around Sanderson is beautiful. God created
something wonderful and not where many people really see it.

I don't get that way very often but occassionally, I have
that opportunity. And each time, I simply marvel at the
countryside. I suppose many people will think that is
strange because the land is barren and because of that, it
is basically unpopulated and unspoiled.

As I noted, not many people get to see that area as it is
not on the way to many places, either to or from, although
people from this area usually go that way to Lake Amistad
for fishing or just pleasure.

My father-in-law used to go to a deer camp between Sanderson
and Bakersfield for years. He relates that it was a large
deer camp as that is where all the deer hunters gathered to
go their various ways to deer leases.

Deer in our country are the large mule deer, valued to
hunters for their trophies and meat. Plus, it is sport
hunting where you have to hunt to find the deer and then it
sometimes, most times, involves long distance shots,
challenging the best marksmen.

Other types of wildlife are also abundant, such as javelina
and coyotes. The hills and mountains in the area are of such
a variety as to be a joy to drink in visually.

I don't know how many acres it takes to support one cow but
would suspect it takes a good number. In years when there is
plentiful rainfall, the ranch lands are relatively lush but
those times are rare as they are in all desert areas.

Sanderson and Marathon are both picturesque as they were
basically built by railroads and ranchers as this has been a
busy rail route for many years, connecting the east and west
coasts through Houston.

I'm sure to the ranchers who try to eek out a living, it is
harsh country with hot and cold seasonal temperatures and
long distances from one place to another.

As I've noted in a number of other columns, I'm in love with
this part of the world for its spectacular scenery and
diversity. The Sanderson area is different from other parts
of the Trans Pecos-Big Bend region but it is no less
spectacular than any of the rest.

Many people from throughout the world are beginning to
discover parts of this area for the scenery and relaxation
but the area around Sanderson is still basically

The Gage Hotel in Marathon is a popular gathering spot for
families and some businesses for meetings. It is an old
hotel and has been expanded to take in another old building
to take care of the growing number of travellers who go
through this region en route to Big Bend or as a destination
to get away from the big city.

That seems to be a growing trend in this region as a few
resorts including Lajitas and a few others including one
restored ranch headquarters, Cibolo Creek Ranch, near
Shafter, are attracting more and more people. Many of those
people come from the big cities, looking for some peace and
solitude away from the throngs of people.

On a recent trip to Sanderson, I found out something that
amazed me. You might know about it but I didn't. I'll tell
the story next week.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is the Editor and Publisher of
the Pecos Enterprise Whose column appears each Friday. He
can be e-mailed at:

Your View

Belew not cause of Eagles' problems

Editor's Note: Three days after Mike Belew's reassignment
from head football coach and athletic director for the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, the Odessa American ran an article
on the change, accompanied by a commentary by reporter John
Erfort, which is reprinted below. While some of the problems
listed have been printed in the Enterprise in the past,
others - such as the fact parents were actually helping
their sons cut football practice by making up false excuse
notes - were put in print for the first time.

While it would be easy to go into denial about the problems,
the fact is whoever takes over the job as head football
coach next year will have little chance at success unless
participation rates increase along with community
involvement. And the problem goes past not only the football
team, but athletics in general in Pecos.

Fans going to Little League games during the Spring less
than a decade ago would be parked two or three-cars deep
behind the fence at Chano Prieto Field. Many parents still
support their sons and daughters, but for the past few
years, with the same number of teams, fans could drive up
anytime and watch. And along with fewer people watching,
finding coaches for the teams has been a struggle for league
officials, and Pecos is supposed to be a BASEBALL town.
If parents don't care about supporting their children when
they're 11 and 12 years old, it's unlikely they'll do so
when they're 16 or 17 and in high school.

While some parents are dropping out of attending their kids'
games when they're fifth-or sixth-graders, at the junior
high level players are dropping out of participation on
school athletic teams in the eighth grade, before they ever
deal with any of the high school coaches. And up in high
school, grade problems and problems with the law have cost
football, baseball and other sports players in just the past
two years.

It's not as though this doesn't happen at other schools -
Andrews, the most successful athletic program in Pecos'
District 4-4A - had one of their top baseball players in the
Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center two years ago on a
drug possession charge. But the problems have become more
frequent here than at other area schools. For there to be a
turnaround in Pecos' recent athletic fortunes, those
problems will also have to be corrected.

By John Erfort
Odessa American
Reprinted by Permission

Nothing against the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School
District or its superintendent Don Love, but the Pecos High
School football team is going nowhere fast.

The Pecos program has lots of problems, from simply not
having equal talent as its opponents to players quitting the
team. Those factors will remain no matter who is the coach,
and the team and the town have been proving that since its
last playoff appearance in 1975.

Of the myriad problems with football in Pecos, none have
anything to do with Mike Belew, who was reassigned as the
football coach on Wednesday. I'd venture to guess that
there's no one in Pecos who wanted to win more than Belew,
who's a very driven man and loves the players he coaches.

Responsibility and accountability are in order in the Pecos
program, but Belew was trying to instill those values. As is
the case with any coach who takes over a struggling program,
Belew first tried to instill discipline into Pecos. He
should have been offered the chance to let those values grow.

This is not to say that Pecos won't have success with
another coach at the helm. Anything is possible. The point
is, you don't cure dandruff by cutting off your head. That's
why this move will not be good for Pecos. The sad fact is
Pecos has very little discipline, despite Belew's efforts.
Early in the season, he and his coaches were so concerned
with poor attendance habits of players that they actually
planned to go door-to-door to see why players weren't at
practice. They wanted to explain to parents how important
the team concept is, a concept unattainable without strong

Early in the season, it looked as though the Eagles were in
the midst of a turnaround. They came out of the gates by
winning four of their first five games and had a very large
crowd on the road at the rivalry game in Monahans. Pecos
purple was all over the visitor's section, something even
the people in the Loboes press box couldn't help but comment

But, oh, how quickly the rats can jump from a sinking ship.
By the end of the season, key players had quit or for
discipline purposes were suspended from the team.

Had enough, they said. Enough of the losing, enough of the
hard rules and discipline. Why keep slugging it out at
practice every day, why keep doing all the running, when
you're just going to lose on Friday anyway?

That's why Pecos went 0-5 in district play. In the final
weeks of the season, it wasn't uncommon to hear players on
the phone with parents asking them to come get them out of

Running away from a problem is not a way to get it solved. I
was taught if you have a problem, go to the person who can
do something about it. In this case, it appears that players
and parents need to take a long look at themselves.
It's only when you've given 100 percent and done all you can
on your end that you can begin thinking about putting blame
on others. The problems with Pecos football are directly
related to players and parents. Sure there are plenty of
athletes and parents who care about football in Pecos, just
not enough.

The problems in Pecos don't stem from coaching or
administration, so reassigning Belew is not the answer.
Sometimes a different touch is needed to motivate certain
athletes, but a new coach is not what Pecos needs.

If the Eagles ever hope to get good in football, a major
attitude change is in order. Sure, Pecos teams often are at
a size disadvantage against Class 4A opponents, but it's
also true that there have some very large athletes over the
last few years who have chosen not to play football. Maybe
they saw the lethargy in the program and didn't want to be a
part of it. Besides, there are many small teams that play
bigger than they are. Pecos doesn't and part of the reason
is discipline. Without discipline, there is not success in
high school football.

Belew tried to put discipline into the program. In return,
critics said he was too hard on the kids. The logic goes
something like this: "If we're going to lose anyway, can't
we just do it our way and take it easy on the kids?"

Therefore, Don Love cannot be blamed for doing what is in
the best interests of the community. That's what he gets
paid to do, although I bet he too knows that Belew isn't the
problem. Being realistic, he has to give the people what
they want or what is best for them.

In this case, that's not Belew and Belew knows as much. He's
not the kind of coach they want, and they don't have the
kind of attitude or support he wants.
What Pecos missed out on is that Belew is exactly the kind
of coach the Eagles need.

Your View

Bush proclaims School Board month

Dear Editor:
Governor George W. Bush has proclaimed January as School
Board Recognition Month to build awareness and understanding
of the vital function an elected board of education plays in
our society.

The community benefits daily from the dedicated energies and
countless hours devoted by these public servants. They are
elected to serve by local citizens and receive no
compensation for their tireless efforts. They unselfishly
contribute their time and talents toward the advancement of
public education.

The school board serves as the advocate for educational
excellence for the community's youth and puts those
interests first. The policies school boards make dictate the
standards and philosophy by which schools are run and the
criteria used to judge whether they are being run well.

This responsibility often entails difficult choices,
self-sacrifice and exposure to public criticism. However, it
also brings a great deal of personal satisfaction in sharing
with parents, staff and students their academic successes.
This crucial responsibility and the closeness of trustees to
the voters make the local school board the purest example of
democracy our society presents.

Even though we are making a special effort during January to
show our appreciation to our school board members, we
recognize their contributions reflect a year-round
commitment on their part.

The men and women serving the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
Independent School District are: Frank Perea, President -
Alberto Alvarez, Jr. Vice-President - Daisy Roquemore,
Secretary - Linda Gholson - Earl Bates - Freddy Lujan and
Steve Armstrong.

Don Love
Superintendent of Schools
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District

Critic's Corner

Book details how to carry concealed weapons

Who would think to check a shoulder pad for a concealed
weapon? Or to conceal one there? It would have to be a
ultra-tiny handgun or knife, but it can be done, says Jerry
Ahern, a leading authority on holsters and how to carry
concealed weapons.

Ahern, a holster manufacturer and knife designer, has
written more than a thousand articles, columns and features
in the firearms field. In a new book, "CCW: Carrying
Concealed Weapons, How to Carry Concealed Weapons and Know
When Others Are..." Ahern not only tells you how, but
demonstrates with photographs.

Anything can be a weapon, Ahern says. A rolled up magazine
or newspaper can be used for thrusts and jabs to the solar
plexus, the throat, groin or any soft part of the human
body. Umbrellas or walking sticks can be used as weapons or
to conceal a sword. Evan a brick carried in a purse makes an
effective persuader.

Knives can be hidden in a number of ways: inside a pen, a
bootleg, behind a lapel or inside a cap. Handguns are harder
to conceal, but can be carried in a shoulder holster,
underneath the arm, at the small of the back or inside the
pants in a holster disguised as a pager.

Ahern even describes ways to hide a shotgun underneath a
coat - and how to detect one on another person. Watch a
person to see if he moves awkwardly; bends over in an
unusual manner; or carries a coat as if concealing something.
Available from gun shops and book dealers woldwide or from
Blacksmith Corporation, 830 North Road #1 East, Chino
Valley, AZ 86323 (send $14.95 plus $3 shipping) or call
1-800-531-2665. Also available at a discount through the
Enterprise online bookstore at

Peggy McCracken

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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 1998 by Pecos Enterprise
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