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


January 28, 1998

"Eight-liners" off line at local stores

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 28, 1998 - Town and Country customers use to
passing extra time testing their luck with the video
gambling machines located there may be disappointed on their
next visit to their neighborhood store. These video machines
-known as "eight-liners" -were ruled unconstitutional by
Attorney General Dan Morales last Friday.

According to Steve Stephens, chairman and chief executive
officer of Town and Country, all the machines in the more
than 100 Texas Town and Country stores have been unplugged
and are most likely to be removed soon. "We can't argue with
the Attorney General's opinion," he said.

Clerks at Town and Country stores are informing customers
that the machines are temporarily out of service until legal
issues are resolved. Those who have tickets to redeem must
do so before Jan. 31.

Store manager Norma Martinez, at store number 48, said she
was glad to see the machines shut down, explaining that they
made a lot of noise and some customers had begun to spend
long hours -one customer would spend as many as six hours in
one sitting -in front of the machines.

The video gambling machines issued tickets to winners,
redeemable for store merchandise. "We can't give them cash
for anything," said Martinez, "They have to spend it or lose

Stephens said that Town and Country, though experiencing
some increase in revenue due to the machines, originally
provided them as a customer service. He said that the
machines were only installed after the company began to
receive calls from customers asking why Town and Country
didn't have eight-liners like the other convenience stores.

Now customers have been given a deadline to redeem any
tickets they may have collected. "This is a company rule,"
said Stephens. "We recognize that some customers haven't
redeemed their tickets and we want to be fair to them."
However, Stephens continued, because it is a matter of
unconstitutionality at this point, the time to redeem is

According to Morales, business owners found in violation of
the new law could face up to a year in prison and as much as
a $4,000 fine. But an Associated Press report said a lawsuit
may be filed in opposition to the law. Cindy Rugely,
spokeswoman for Amusement and Music Operators of Texas, said
the group will file a legal challenge, "possibly as early as

The Texas Lottery Commission may suspend the license of any
retailer that sells lottery tickets found to be providing
the electronic gambling machines, and the Texas Alcoholic
Beverage Commission may revoke the liquor license of any
bar, restaurant or convenience store that has the machines
on premises.

Employment improves in Reeves Co.

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 28, 1998 - A look at economic conditions in
Texas indicates the state is in line with President Bill
Clinton's State of the Union proclamation last night that
the nation is strong. And there are some indications that
the economic condition in Pecos and Reeves County is

Unemployment claims in the state are down 6.2 percent
compared to one year ago. The Texas unemployment rate
dropped to 4.5 percent in December compared to 4.9 percent
in November and 4.9 percent in December of 1996, according
to The Texas Workforce Commission.

The Texas Help Wanted Index is up 4.7 percent compared to
one year ago, a sign that employers have jobs to fill,
according to State Comptroller John Sharp. Sharp recently
said that Texas has gained almost 213,000 jobs, including
187,000 jobs in the service sector, 18,000 construction
jobs, and 17,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year. New
business incorporations are up 4.1 percent compared to one
year ago. The average number of manufacturing hours per work
week is up 1.9 percent.

In Reeves County the unemployment rate decreased to 7.2
percent in December compared to November's rate of 7.6
percent and the 1996 December rate of 9.2 percent. The Pecos
unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent in December from
8.8 percent in November and 10.5 percent in December 1996.

Unemployment in the Odessa-Midland MSA decreased to 3.8
percent in December compared to 4.6 percent in December of
1996. The Odessa-Midland MSA unemployment rate is the 13th
best in the state, ahead of areas such as Houston, Tyler,
Corpus Christi, Laredo and El Paso. The overall rate of
unemployment in the Permian Basin was 4 percent in December
compared to 4.5 percent for the state and 4.4 percent for
the nation, according to The Texas Workforce Commission.

The overall unemployment rate for the nation dropped to 4.4
percent in December from 5 percent in December 1996.

The Index of Leading Texas Economic Indicators is currently
at 131.8, an increase of 2.9 percent compared to one year
ago. Double-digit gains in Texas stock prices, consumer
confidence, and new home construction are the strongest
forces pushing the economy forward," according to State
Comptroller John Sharp.

The Texas Stock Index is the strongest component of the
Index of Leading Texas Economic Indicators for the eighth
consecutive month, according to Sharp. The stock value of
Texas based businesses is 80.3 percent higher than one year

With Texas consumer confidence up 22.5 percent compared to
one year ago, consumers believe the economy is strong, jobs
are abundant and many consumers anticipate an increase in
their family income.

Demand for new homes in Texas remains high as indicated by
10,960 permits for new home construction in November, an
increase of 18.8 percent compared to November of 1996.

Retail sales rose 1.8 percent in November.

A continuing decline in crude oil prices is the only
negative factor in the Index of Leading Economic Indicators.
Texas oil is priced at $17.62 per barrel, down 6.9 percent
compared to one month ago, and down 18.7 percent from a year

Flames shoot 300 ft. high in gas line fire

Staff Writer

DELL CITY, January 28, 1998 - Flames from a burning 30-inch
natural gas line located on U.S. Highway 62 about five miles
west of the Hudspeth County line could be seen as far away
as Sierra Blanca (about 50 miles) and Roswell, N.M. early
Tuesday morning, according to Manuel Lujan, emergency
management coordinator for Hudspeth Co.

The natural gas line belonging to El Paso Natural Gas
Company blew up near an unmanned plant along U.S. Highway 62
at about 1 a.m. Tuesday and caused considerable damage,
according to the Dell City Texas Department of
Transportation. TxDOT Office Manager Vickie Armijo is also a
resident of the area where the explosion occurred and was
one of the first witnesses.

Armijo said that the explosion occurred a few miles from the
plant in an area where there were once about 40 homes.
Although those homes are no longer there, she said, there
are about 30 residences in the area. No one was injured in
the incident.

"I had just gone to bed at around midnight, then I heard the
roar and the rumble, so I got up and saw the flames," said
Armijo. She then called the local Department of Public
Safety office and her boss in case traffic needed to be
stopped, she said.

Armijo said the flames from the explosion were initially
about 300 feet high, and were about 100 feet from the
highway on the side of the road opposite her house. She said
that the flames burned phone lines and charred power lines
on both sides of the highway and melted 500 feet of asphalt
on the highway, causing the highway to be closed from 2 a.m.
until noon Tuesday.

Russ Roberts, manager of media relations for El Paso Energy
Corporation, El Paso Natural Gas Company's parent company,
said "At this point, our investigative team is still there.
I don't know if explosion is the right word, it may have
been a rupture."

Roberts said that "an explosion to me connotes bits and
pieces flying everywhere."

"We got the electronic alarm about 1:45 to 2 a.m. (Mountain
time), and our crews automatically went to work on shutting
off gas to the ruptured area," Roberts said.

Roberts said that a 26-inch line running parallel to the
ruptured line wasn't damaged, so the company immediately got
the gas flowing back through the 26-inch line and had the
30-inch line repaired by 10 p.m. "There was no interruption
in service to our residential or small commercial customers
in the area," he said.

Roberts said the investigation will probably take a week to
determine the cause of the rupture.

Armijo said El Paso Natural Gas Co. crews were at the scene
by 2:30 or 3 a.m. and that once they turned off the gas to
the main line, the flames went down to about 50 feet high.
She said the flames had reminded her of the oil well fires
during the Gulf War, and that in the 23 years she has lived
in the area, she has "never seen an explosion before."

Extra effort brings in water

Staff Writer

Sometimes taking a risk and making a little extra effort
pays off. Such is the case with Reeves County Commissioners'
efforts to bring water to the Saragosa Cemetery.
Commissioner Herman Tarin announced Monday that a second
effort to drill a water well for the Saragosa Cemetery had
been successful.

Commissioners originally planned to drill water wells for
both the Saragosa and Balmorhea cemeteries because neither
were connected to a permanent water source.

After encountering difficulties with finding water at
Saragosa and talking to the Balmorhea Cemetery Committee,
Commissioner Herman Tarin advised the court during its Jan.
12 meeting that the Balmorhea well project probably was not
needed and monies from that project should be diverted to
continue drilling the Saragosa well.

Tarin told commissioners that the Balmorhea Cemetery
Committee said a well was not needed there because water can
be easily obtained from the local water district. Tarin
recomended that water lines be repaired in the south part of
the Balmorhea Cemetery.

"There is a much more serious problem at Saragosa than
Balmorhea and we can use the funds to finish out Saragosa,"
Tarin said.

During the Jan. 12 Commissioners' Court meeting
commissioners decided to continue drilling the water well
for the Saragosa Cemetery despite the fact that the well had
been drilled to 304 feet without finding water.

At the time Tarin, who has been the driving force behind the
project, expressed optimism that water would be found at the
site. "I sure would like to continue to see if we can hit
water," Tarin said during the meeting. The Commissioners
approved Tarin's suggestion that the Saragosa well be
drilled another 100 feet if needed to strike water.

The extra effort paid off and Monday Tarin announced that
water had been found at about 380 feet. Tarin also said that
on the advice of officials of the Armadillo Drilling Company
of Alpine, the company doing the drilling, the well was
drilled to a depth of 400 feet to ensure there would be
enough water in it.

Campaign signs must conform to laws

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 28, 1998 - Have you noticed little pieces of
paper with typing on them taped to some of the political
campaign signs around town? Those pieces of paper are
efforts of the office seekers to conform to new Texas
Election Laws on political advertising.

Texas Election Laws require certain written disclosure and
notice requirements be included on political advertising
such as pamphlets, circulars, fliers, billboards or other
signs, bumper stickers, or similar forms of written

According to the law, disclosure statements are required on
political advertising if the office seeker, or an
organization supporting an office seeker, has had someone
else print the political advertising, even if the job was
done for free.

If a politician constructs his or her own signs the
disclaimer is not required.

The disclosure statement must include the following:

- The words "political advertising" or an abbreviation such
as "pol. adv."

- The full name of either the individual who had the
political advertising made or the person that individual

- The address of the individual or entity named in the

Such signs made for a candidate and meant to be seen from a
road must carry a "right-of-way" notice. The "right-of-way"
notice must be included even on signs constructed personally
by a candidate if someone else places the sign for the

The "right-of-way" notice must say, "Notice: It is a
violation of state law (Chapter 392 and 393, Transportation
Code) to place this sign in the right-of-way of a highway.
Yard signs must carry this notice.

Political advertisements must not misrepresent the
candidate's identity or official title nor the source of the
advertisement, according to election law. Candidates who are
not an incumbent in the office they are seeking must make it
clear that they are seeking election rather than re-election
by using the word "for" to make it clear that they don't
already hold the office. Examples given in the code indicate
non-incumbents may use the following wording: "Vote John Doe
for Attorney General," or "John Doe for Attorney General."

Sometimes during the primary election season in Texas
campaign signs are placed in the state highway right-of-way
in violation of state law.

Signs erected within the right-of-way of any highway on the
state system will be removed, according to the Texas
Department of Transportation.

If TxDOT removes a sign and can identify the owner, the
department will notify the owner of the sign's removal
within three working days of the date of removal and provide
the owner information regarding where to retrieve the sign.

Many cities and towns have adopted ordinances for the
control of signs within corporate limits. The appropriate
city office should be contacted to determine acceptable
placement of signs within the city or town, according to

Violations of Texas Election Law can be reported to the
Texas Ethics Commission, P.O. Box 12070, Austin, TX
78711-2070, or by calling (512) 463-5800 or (800) 325-8506,
or by FAX at (512) 463-5777.

Africa comes to Austin Elementary

Staff Writer

Students at Austin Elementary School received an interesting
lesson on Africa, its many tribes, their culture and
lifestyles recently.

The presentation was held in conjunction with Martin Luther
King's Birthday which was celebrated earlier this month and
African-American History Month which will be celebrated in

"There were so many tribes, and we lived among some of
them," said Sylvia Dannelley.

Dannelley lived in Kenya, Africa for 13 years, got married
there and all her children were born there.

"It's a big continent that has many different countries, and
Kenya, which is where we lived, part of it is on above the
equator and the other part is below the equator," she said.

Dannelley told the group that Texas is a lot like Kenya. "If
you go all the way to Houston, you can see the lake, which
looks like a huge ocean and if you do that in Kenya you can
see the Indian Ocean," she said.

"West Texas looks a lot like that," said Dannelley.

Dannelley spoke about the big Kilimanjuro Mountain and
stated that it takes about three days to climb to the top.
"My husband used to like to climb it, but I never did," said
Dannelley. "Kenya is also about the size of Texas," she said.

In speaking about the different tribes, especially those she
had the privilege of living among, Dannelley stated that the
Maasai tribe was a nomadic tribe who herded cattle, sheep
and goats. "They would see rain in another area and would
move their cattle in that direction," said Dannelley.

"These people didn't have gardens, or grow anything, because
of course they wouldn't stay in one area," said Dannelley.
"These people were not farmers and the young boys would be
in charge of looking after the animals," she said.

The boys would carry spears while tending to the animals,
but were not allowed to carry the spears into town. "Instead
they would carry pretty, decorated sticks, while the older
tribesmen would use them as walking canes," said Dannelley.

The ladies wore fancy, beaded jewelry and some of the beaded
items were sewn into leather, according to Dannelley. "When
you get married, you get to wear a wedding necklace and I
got to wear this one, because I was married there," said

Items were made out of wood, while baskets were weaved from
the tall grass found there. Dannelley displayed some fancy
carvings the Maasai did, out of wood from a special tree,
called Ebony, which means black.

"Some of the carved items have faces carved into them, some
have animals," said Dannelley. "They didn't do anything to
this wood, it comes out like this, black and shiny," she

"These items carved out of wood, that have the people carved
into it are called `macondy,'" she said.

Tarkana tribe was another group that Dannelley spent some
time with while in Africa. "They are also another nomadic
group," she said. "While the Maasai tribe completely shave
their heads, the Tarkana's leave a Mohawk," she said.

The men put special caps on their head made out of mud, or
fancy headdress. "They leave it on for days," said Dannelley.

Special stools are made that hold the head during the night
to protect the Mohawk and cap and the stools are used during
the day while herding the animals.

"They used the stools as pillows during the night and as
stools to sit on during the day," she said.

The Turkanas also started weaving to make money.

Bells are made out of wood for the camels. "The group, since
they travel a lot, use camels, and bells made out of wood,
help them keep track of them," she said.

The Kikuyo tribe is considered the leader of the country in
many ways. "The group grows corn, beans and rice and make
special baskets to gather all of these," said Dannelley.

"Now they dress more like us, because the British are living
there, and have helped them become more civilized," she said.

Following the presentation the group asked many different
and varying questions.

"Do they eat lions," asked one student.

"No they usually don't eat lions," said Dannelley.

"Did you get married there," asked one second-grader.

"Yes, because that is where I met my husband," Dannelley

"Why don't the people wear shirts?" asked another.

"It's like here, it might be cool in the morning and hotter
later in the day, so therefore, since they are busy, they
take off their shirts, to try to keep cooler," said

Dannelley had a large display of many items from Africa,
including baskets, stools, fly-whisks, wood-carved items and

"The fly-whisks are made out of wood and the ends are made
out an animal's tail, and are used to shoo away the flies,"
said Dannelley.

Dannelley told the group that Kenya loves to have tourists,
"That's one of their biggest industries."

Dannelley is planning a summer trip back to the country she
once lived in.

Students learn dangers of alcohol

Staff Writer

Alcohol awareness presentations were being given this
morning by John T. Deering, a Texas Alcoholic Beverage
Commission agent from their Odessa office. Deering spoke to
the fourth-and fifth-graders at Bessie Haynes Elementary
School about Project SAVE, which is an acronym for Stop
Alcohol Violations Early.

In one demonstration, Deering used a clear cup and some
water to show the youngsters just how little one ounce of
alcohol, the standard serving in any alcoholic beverage,
really is. He also explained how alcohol is absorbed and
filtered by the body.

"Alcohol is like a poison," Deering told the children.

With the help of some students Deering showed demonstrated
how law enforcement officers test people they believe to be
intoxicated. Two students would come up in front of the
group and attempt the "one leg stand" test, where a person
must balance on one leg, while holding the other leg in
front of them for a count of 30. Then, he would spin one of
the children around a few times to simulate the disorienting
effect of alcohol, and have the students repeat the test.

Deering discussed some dangers of drinking too much alcohol
with the children, then divided them into three groups to
discuss and answer specific questions. Pecos Police
Department Patrolman Billy Hull and Bessie Haynes Guidance
Counselor Virginia Caballero were on hand to help lead the
group discussions. The students then formed back into a
large group and went over the answers they had come up with.
They brought up concerns such as loosing their balance,
passing out from alcohol poisoning, getting into trouble
with their parents or the police, and ways to say no to
someone who tries to get them to drink alcohol.

The students came up with a wide range of "just say no"
answers, from the polite "no thank you" to "my mom would
slap me!." Each presentation lasted about half an hour.


PECOS, January 28, 1998 - High Tuesday, 75, low this
morning, 34. Skies were mostly clear to partly cloudy across
Texas today. Early this morning, a trough of low pressure
from the northeast Panhandle to the Big Bend was allowing
high cloudiness to bring mostly cloudy to cloudy skies to
much of the region. Temperatures in West Texas at 4 a.m.
were mainly in the 30s and 40s, but ranged from 30 at Marfa
to 52 at Fort Stockton. Winds were variable at less than 15
mph in most areas, but stronger winds were reported in parts
of the Panhandle and in the Big Country. Highs today should
be in the 60s and 70s. Overnight temperatures ranged from 39
at Paris to 54 at Abilene.

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