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


February 24, 1998

Stafford retires from First National Bank

Staff Writer
PECOS, February 24, 1998 - She has served on the Town of Pecos City Council, the Chamber of Commerce Women's Division, the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committtee, numerous other committees and along the way raised four children. Her presence at First National Bank will be sorely missed upon her retirement this week.

Dot Stafford will be honored with a retirement reception, Thursday, Feb. 26, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the First National Bank Lobby.

Stafford admits she was born in Brownwood on Feb. 27, but she won't say in what year. One of three sisters, she attended high school in Brownwood and her first job was at a Greyhound bus station.

"I'm sure they still remember me," said Stafford, smiling.

She later worked for a community public service company and for a savings and loan in Amarillo.

"I also worked for KJBC in Midland for a while, in the office," said Stafford. "I really enjoyed that job," she said.

Stafford moved to Pecos in 1937 and got married in 1946 to Joe Stafford, her husband of almost 52 years. "It will be 52 years in June," said Stafford.

Stafford started her banking career, in 1963, 35 years ago. "My first position in the bank was as executive secretary," said Stafford.

Stafford stated that this was back before the First National Bank move to its present location in 1967. "We then moved to this location when this building was built," she said.

"I was later moved up to assistant vice president and then to vice president, my current position," said Stafford.

For many years, after working at the bank all day she helped her husband evenings at the malt shop and later at the cleaners he owned. "He owned a drugstore and malt shop, so after work I would go lend him a hand," said Stafford. He owned Stafford's Cleaners for 31 years.

She has been the mayor of Pecos for the past two terms and had served on the council for 10 years prior to that.

Stafford has varied duties at the bank including performing loan documentations, dealing with new accounts, savings and CD's. "I've done a little bit of everything there is to do in a bank," she said.

She is an active member of Pecos Business and Professional Women's Club, the Women's Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce, the governor's commitee, Friends of the Museum, President of the Pecos Rotary Club and a member of the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee.

"This year I got out of the rodeo committee, where I had served for four years," said Stafford. "It's something I really enjoy doing," she said.

She has been a member of the Women's Division since its inception and this year is president of the Rotary Club, a club which has only a few women members.

"This is my second year on the governor's committee, a committee which helps procure grants for area cities," she said.

Along the way, Stafford and her husband have manged to raise four children, Ray Stafford, who is currently editor of the McAllen newspaper, The Monitor; Bobby Stafford who resides in Wichita Falls and works for Granger County; Cindy Earl of Austin and Michelle Hastings of Austin.

Stafford also enjoys doing work for the church and is an active member of the Church of Christ. "I also love to to paint, but haven't had much time for it," she said.

Maybe now that she will be working only one day per week at the bank she will have an opportunity to do all that she truly enjoys, she said.

"I plan to stay active in all my committees and possibly do more work for the church," she said.

RCDC water line gets commissioners steamed

Enterprise Editor
PECOS, February 24, 1998 - A discussion about water service for the Reeves County Detention Center got some commissioners steamed up Monday during the last of the month meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court.

"These people don't know what they are doing," Commissioner Bernardo Martinez asserted when Town of Pecos City Water Superintendent Octavio Garcia made a recommendation to relieve a water problem that occurred last week at the RCDC.

"Get an engineer," Martinez suggested.

Commissioner Herman Tarin responded that they (city water crews) do know what they are doing. "This wouldn't be necessary if it had been done right in the first place," County Judge Jimmy Galindo said.

"Don't throw sticks," Martinez responded.

Garcia suggested that a loop be made to reconnect with city water from the dead-end water line at the RCDC. He noted that a drop in water pressure at the RCDC last week was apparently caused by air getting into the line due to large amounts of water being drawn from the water line at Winkles Trucks at a newly built loading station. This caused problems with the plumbing and low water pressure at RCDC, Garcia said, until the air was bled out of the lines.

Martinez later noted that no one was supposed to be allowed to tap into the line as it was built by the county with county money to fulfill Bureau of Prisons requirements.

Garcia suggested the loop using either eight or 12 inch PVC pipe. He had gotten estimates on the cost of material and suggested that if the county will buy the pipe, the city will install it. Estimated cost is $80,000 for 10,000 feet to complete the loop and prevent RCDC from being at the end of the line and having pressure problems. This would also ensure that the line not be stopped up by sediment that sometimes gets to the end of the line, as Commissioner Tarin noted.

The commissioners approved taking bids for 12-inch PVC.

Another agenda item resulting in a long debate was discussion about lighting Martinez Field for use by the community and by the school's new girls softball team. Cost of the lighting could be as much as $100,000 but this could be financed through funds from RCDC for the fitness program as the field will be used for much of the year by the community. It could also be used as a secure, emergency facility to take prisoners rather than the rodeo grounds which is now the approved location for evacuating prisoners if RCDC had to be evacuated for any reason.

The school has agreed to pay $15,000 which Commissioner Dr. W. J. Bang said he didn't feel was adequate. The county has already spent some money fixing up the ball field under the supervision of Commissioner Felipe Arredondo and Road Commissioner Russ Salcido. It was built in 1982 and 1983 for $99,000 and is the nicest facility in this area with great seating, Galindo noted.

The county approved the agreement with a few minor changes.

Also approved was a contract with the Balmorhea schools for use by the public of school facilities now open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The county has provided $10,000 to buy extra equipment for the schools to also be used by residents, much like a proposal now pending with Pecos schools.

Other action included approval of a pipeline crossing under County Road 232 and rescinding a contract to improve the Molinar house in Green Acres because the contractor is now five months behind on another project.

The Molinar home was scheduled to cost $34,184 but grant administrator Mari Maldonado said the project has been reworked and could leave as much as $7,000 for another project. Another project in Balmorhea is being delayed because of a property line dispute.

Also approved was the RCDC spending $75 per month to rent a storage building at Bell Motel U Storage in addition to the one unit they are renting for $50 per month.

The county heard a report and approved a one-year extension of a delinquent tax collection contract from Russell McInturff, attorney for the tax collection attorneys for the county of the firm of Linebarger-Heard-Goggin-Blair-Graham-Pena-Sampson, L.L.P. McInturff reported that the firm has collected $152,000 in delinquent taxes in the past year. A complete report is to be sent to the commissioners in the near future.

Economic, environmental development considered for area

Enterprise Editor
PECOS, February 24, 1998 - Reeves County Commissioners discussed and approved action on two issues that could help the looks and economy of this area Monday during a regular meeting.

One was for $20,000 funding for the Pecos Economic Development Corporation which will be funded by local entities including the city, $20,000 and the hospital, $8,000.

A person is being sought in advertising to head up the effort but there was some sentiment expressed by the commissioners that the chamber of commerce executive director, Tom Rivera, head up the effort with funds used to pay him from the city's bed tax to increase the pay, and then an office manager be hired to conduct the chamber's other activities.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo is heading up the personnel committee for the corporation and noted that there have been many suggestions. Money needs to be available for whoever has the job to travel to meet with interested industries.

County Auditor Lynn Owens suggested along with Commissioners Dr. W.J. Bang and Felipe Arredondo that a contract between the county and other agencies set out the work and objectives of the corporation. They also noted that it might take several years to reach goals.

Arredondo suggested that the hospital pay more at which Dr. Bang bristled as he said the hospital already provides more than a million dollars a year in health care to people who won't pay their bills. People need to learn to pay their bills, he noted.

The county is to meet again soon to look over the proposed contract but did approve the funding which has been budgeted.

The other item for improving the area was depicted in a computer slide show presented by Texas Department of Transportation Pecos Area Engineer Doug Eichorst along with TxDOT officials Larry Levario and John Salcido.

Eichorst discussed forming a local committee with representatives of local groups to develop a landscaping master plan. Galindo was appointed to the committee for the county with Arredondo as alternate.

Galindo noted he has been working with the Bureau of Prisons to develop a program at the Reeves County Detention Center to train prisoners in growing various kinds of vegetation that could be used in this landscaping scheme.

Eichorst showed slides of how other communities have developed plans. However, he noted it would be best if there was a consistent plan rather than in other communities where there is a hodge podge of landscaping.

He noted that rocks from the southern end of the county can be used to make river-like flows in certain areas and outline land that is available along state roads.

Areas the state has already had a hand in landscaping include along Highway 285 in Pecos where sidewalks and paving bricks have been laid at a cost of almost $750,000. This includes tree planters.

In Balmorhea the Cienega at the State Park has been put in along with curb and gutter from city limit to city limit in the downtown area. Commissioner Herman Tarin expressed his thanks to the group for what the state has done in Balmorhea.

Eichorst pointed out that 3-D metal cutouts of Holstein cows are in a certain area of Abilene and suggested the same could be used here with longhorns along mounds of dirt using natural vegetation. All of this in the long run saves the state money on maintenance.

One theme that Eichorst suggested would be a natural for Reeves County would be the use of brands used by the many ranches in the area. These could be used in paving stone. He said he didn't realize how many brands were involved in this area until he got a book from the West of the Pecos Museum.

Not only would this be a good theme but donations might be made to help out with the expense as well as getting local groups involved with the committee.

Eichorst is to meet with the city next month and hopes to get a committee of about eight to 10 people to come up with the master plan.

His main question to the county was to see if they were interested and commissioners answered with a definite affirmative. He noted he won't have any funding available until September. Many communities are clamoring for the money to improve the looks of their city.

Eichorst also suggested some kind of welcome to the city although the state cannot purchase the lettering but can come up with the design and help work on the area for such a display.

The state will take care of all design work, Eichorst noted.

ID required if voters have no registration card

Staff Writer
PECOS, February 24, 1998 - An election school will be held tonight at 6 p.m., at the Reeves County Civic Center and is open to the public, according to Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

Florez stated that Melinda Nichols, who works with the Secretary of State, elections division, will be on hand for the occasion.

"We also want to remind everyone that early voting ends March 6 at 5 p.m.," said Florez.

Already 425 individuals have voted early by personal appearance. Florez said her offices has mailed out 391 applications to vote by mail and has received 343 ballots by mail.

The last day to receive an application for a request for a ballot by mail, is March 3.

"If anybody has sent in an application requesting a ballot by mail and has not yet received it, they are urged to contact my office," said Florez.

Florez and her crew can be reached at 445-5467 and will be more than happy than happy to answer any questions they might have.

Identification will be required if the voter has no voter registration certificate. In the past, identification could be requested but never required of a voter. This has been changed, according to some new regulations.

Now, if a voter fails to present his or her voter registration certificate, the voter must in every situation either, present proof of identification, or have an affidavit signed by a polling place official in which the official attests to the voter's identity.

The election worker affidavit may be used only if the voter has no identification. The new affidavit is located on the "Affidavit of Voter Without Certificate" form and on the combination form.

Proper identification which can be used includes, a drivers license or personal identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety or similar documents from other states; a form of identification containing a photograph that establishes a person's identity (such as Sam's card or employee identification card; a birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes a person's identity; United States citizenship papers; a United States passport or pre-printed checks containing the person's name that are issued from a financial institution doing business in Texas.

Other identification which can be used are official mail addressed to the person by name from a governmental agency; two other forms of identification that establish a person's identity (these can be any two forms of identification that are sufficient in the opinion of the judge or any other form of identification prescribed by the secretary of state's office.) To date, the Secretary of State has prescribed by rule that an affidavit signed by a polling place official swearing to a voter's identity may constitute proof of identification if the voter has no other form of identification.

"I also want to remind voters that we will be at La Tienda on Saturday, Feb. 28," said Florez.

The voting booth at La Tienda will be open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., to better accommodate those who don't have time to vote during the week, according to Florez.

VA medical care system changing

Staff Writer
PECOS, February 24, 1998 - Veterans won't be losing their benefits because of the new enrollment system that is being adopted as recent rumors have suggested, according to Birt Fraser, Chief of Medical Administration Services at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Big Spring.

"We're going to an enrollment system," said Fraser, and that the system will start in fiscal year 1998, which doesn't begin until October. Veterans who wish to use medical services offered by the VA need to enroll by then at the VA hospital they wish to be treated at. He said that any veteran who has been treated at a VA hospital since Oct. 1996 will automatically be enrolled.

"No veteran with a service-connected disability will ever be turned away," said Fraser. Neither will those whose income is such that federal law requires the VA to treat them, he said.

Veterans are treated at VA hospitals according to a priority ladder, with disabled veterans on the top rung, and non-disabled veterans with incomes over a certain amount on the lowest priority rung. Those non-disabled veterans with the higher incomes are required to make co-payments if they choose to be treated at a VA hospital.

Veterans can enroll at the VA hospital where they intend to seek treatment, or they can call 1-800-472-1365, ext. 7146 to request form 1010T, an abbreviated application that can be submitted by mail. Clinics in Fort Stockton and Odessa come under the regional center at Big Spring, so even if you receive treatment at one of those facilities, you will be enrolled through the Big Spring VAMC.

"I don't foresee anyone losing benefits, we're just changing the system. I don't foresee it changing much of anything, other than you have to enroll every year," Fraser said.

According to a Department of Veterans Affairs fact sheet, veterans should enroll at their closest VA hospital to ensure that they receive the comprehensive benefits package offered through the VA's national health care system. Also, enrollment will help the VA plan its delivery of health care.

All veterans do not have to be enrolled before Oct. 1, 1998 in order to be eligible for health care. A veteran can enroll at any time, but after Oct. 1, veterans must be enrolled unless they are rated by the VA as having a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more, recently discharged from military service for a compensable disability that the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and which has not yet been rated by the VA or seeking care from the VA only for a service-connected disability.

A veteran is neither required nor encouraged to give up their existing health care if they enroll with the VA. VA health care is dependent upon Congressional appropriations, not on premiums paid by veterans. Veterans with private insurance or other public coverage such as Medicare of Medicaid may find VA enrollment to be a complement to their other coverage.

Once enrolled in the new system, a veteran becomes a part of a national health care system with about 1,100 service sites. The site you indicate as your primary health care facility is where you will receive treatment, but you may have a choice of other facilities for specialized treatment, and you may obtain care at any VA facility when you are traveling.

Enrollment will be automatically renewed each year unless a veteran chooses not to enroll or if VA resources limit the number of veterans they can cover. If you move, simply report any changes to the VA health care facility that is your primary care site.

Bessie Haynes holds science fair

Staff Writer
PECOS, February 24, 1998 - Fifth-grade students at Bessie Haynes Elementary participated in a science fair this morning. The fair was held in the school cafeteria. "It's exciting to see so many wonderful projects," said fifth-grade teacher and fair coordinator, Ruben Cervantes. "It's amazing to see what these kids can come up with."

The science fair projects were judged by members of the community and by high school science students in Barbara Scown's Advanced Placement Biology II class.

"I've judged a lot of science fairs in my career as a teacher, and it is always difficult," said Scown.

"You have to weigh the scientific validity of the experiments with the amount of work the students put into them, the research that was done, the data the students collected while doing their research and the interviews with the students, and mold all those factors into scores for the students," Scown explained. "It's never easy, and I don't envy these judges a bit."

"It's a good experience for the students because it gives them a chance to interact with members of the community the don't usually see, as well as the older students," Scown said.

Winners of the science fair had not been announced as of press time, and will be published later.


PECOS, February 24, 1998 - High Monday, 80, low this morning, 35. Showers and thunderstorms are expected over most areas of the state tonight. The activity will be ending across West Texas on Wednesday, but will continue elsewhere. The best chance of rain in West Texas tonight is in the northern areas. Clouds will be decreasing on Wednesday, but it will be windy and there's a chance of blowing dust over the South Plains. Lows tonight will be in the 40s and 50s in West Texas, highs Wednesday will be in the 50s and 60s.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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