Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, May 22, 1998
Armstrong, Freeman top PHS grads
Pecos High School senior Penny Armstrong was named
valedictorian today, and Megan Freeman was named
salutatorian for the graduating Class of 1998, which will
hold its commencement exercises tonight at Eagle Stadium.
Graduation ceremonies for the 165 Pecos High School seniors
will begin at 8 p.m. at the football stadium. Ceremonies
will be moved inside to the Pecos High School gym in case of
Armstrong has been in band, basketball and track since her
freshman year. She joined Mu Alpha Theta and the Latin Club
her sophomore year, and was inducted into the National Honor
Society her junior year, along with becoming band president.
As a senior, Armstrong is president of the National Honor
Society and Mu Alpha Theta, also well as serving as band
president, section leader, captain of the basketball team
and competing in track.
Her strongest subject areas are science, English and
history, and lists her greatest accomplishment in high
school as "getting a Division I at the State Solo and
Ensemble Contest, 1996-97."
She was Who's Who in 1996-97; Who's Who athletic 1994-95 and
1995-96; received honorable mention all district in
basketball in 1996-97; received the Outstanding Student
Award in Health, Latin I, and computer science and was
awarded the 1997 Rotary Youth Leadership Award.
Armstrong plans to continue her education possibly at Texas
A&M University where she will study pre-pharmacy.
She is the daughter of Scott Jr. and Regina Armstrong.
Freeman is also hoping to attend A&M University following
graduation and get into pre-pharmacy. She had been in band
and swimming since her freshman year, while as a sophomore
she joined the Latin Club and Mu Alpha Theta.
In her junior year she was in the PHS student council,
committee chairman, and class vice-president. She was also
inducted into the National Honor Society and was in Who's
Who, and received the U.S. achievement award and band
This year she has been involved in the band, section leader,
was publicity officer for the student council, was
vice-president of her class and of the National Honor
Society and treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta.
Her strongest subjects are calculus and English. She listed
her greatest high school achievement as receiving a division
I at state solo and ensemble contest in band her junior year.
She is the daughter of Ronnie and Jeannie Daniel.
Judge rejects `choice' plan from T-NMP
By GREG HARMAN
Texas New-Mexico Power's proposed Transition-to-Competition
plan -- which would allow customer choice of power providers
-- received an "unfavorable ruling" from the administrative
law judges in Austin, according to T-NMP officials.
The Public Utility Commission may now vote to accept, modify
or deny the plan based on the administrative law judges'
recommendation. A final PUC decision is expected by July 15.
The proposed plan would enable T-NMP customers to choose
their energy providers at the end of a five-year transition
period, where residential customers rates would be reduced
by nine percent and commercial rates by 3 percent.
After customer choice becomes effective another five-year
period begins, during which the company may charge a series
of Customer Transition Charges (CTC's) to recoup stranded
costs from their customers.
T-NMP, which gained the support of the majority of its
service cities and wrestled support from the Low-Income
Interveners, an association representing low-income electric
customers, by promising to institute weatherization programs
originally promised years earlier, failed to get the
endorsement of the Office of Public Utility Council (OPUC)
at the original case hearings.
"We are disappointed in the recommendation, but are not
giving up," T-NMP's president Kevern R. Joyce said about the
administrative judges' decision. "This broad range of
support doesn't happen without a plan that is fair to
customers. When the company and so many other parties reach
such a consensus, that coalition will eventually bring about
change which our customers want and need."
Officials at OPUC explained their opposition to T-NMP's plan
last month by saying the proposed ten-year transition period
was too long.
OPUC also disagreed with T-NMP's decision to eliminate its
Power Cost Recovery Factor (PCRF), which had passed on
company savings to the customer. The elimination of it, said
Assistant Public Council for OPUC Jim Rourke, would instead
pass those savings to the company.
Thirdly, OPUC disagreed on the amount of stranded costs (the
costs for T-NMP to be competitive in a deregulated
environment) claimed by T-NMP and how it proposed to handle
"We think there is less (stranded costs) then what they are
claiming," said Rourke, adding that customers are
responsible for paying 100 percent of the stranded costs
incurred with the construction of TNP 1, the company's sole
power plant, and purchased power contracts.
TNP 1 was completed in 1991 at a cost of $650 million,
according to TNMP Treasurer Patrick Bridges. The stranded
costs associated with the coal plant as of January 1 is
about $272.1 million.
"We believe the PUC is as interested as our coalition in
moving beyond bureaucratic inertia toward a new competitive
era for electric utilities," Joyce said, in a statement
released yesterday, "and we will be working to persuade the
PUC of the logic of our case as it takes up our plan and the
administrative law judges' recommendation."
Texas-New Mexico Power Company provides community-based
electric service to 85 cities and more than 224,000
customers in Texas and New Mexico. It is a wholly owned
subsidiary of TNP Enterprises, Inc.
Cracks threaten to keep pool closed this summer
By GREG HARMAN
End of school's ritual "splashdown" at Maxey Park Municipal
Pool may be delayed or detoured this year, as the pool is
still as parched and cracked as the ground it's sitting on.
Serious problems -- in the form of severe cracks that
stretch the entire width of the pool -- have been plaguing
the pool for years. But 1998 may be the year that repairs
just won't cut it.
Town of Pecos City Parks and Zoo Director Armando Gil
contacted no less then 17 pool companies in Odessa/Midland
and El Paso. After a week of unreturned messages and broken
promises, only one company took the drive to Pecos to offer
Viking Pool Company inspected the Maxey Park pool yesterday
and offered little hope for placing yet another "band-aid"
over the cracks.
As this Viking repairman said to Gil while pacing the floor
of the pool, with the constant cracking sound underfoot, "I
could send a guy out by the hour and patch things until you
The trouble starts, he said, when cities drain their pools
for the winter to save money. Then the freeze comes, and the
The final estimate for repair or replacement of the liner is
expected sometime today. A previous estimate for a new liner
quoted to Gil reached $74,000.
Estes' Brownwood fraud indictment dropped
BROWNWOOD (AP) - A judge has quashed a nine-count tax fraud
indictment against former West Texas flim-flam man Billie
Sol Estes and a Houston woman.
Estes, who served prison time for mortgaging phantom
fertilizer tanks in the 1960s and for tax evasion in the
70s, could have been returned to prison for life if
convicted of a felony.
He pleaded insanity in January, but later changed his plea
to not guilty.
State District Judge Stephen Ellis dismissed the charges
April 28, according to court records obtained Thursday.
A Brown County grand jury indicted Estes and associate Mei
Kwong of Houston in December.
They were charged with using an alcoholism treatment
program as a non-profit corporate shell to evade state taxes
on a motel and check-cashing agency they own.
Estes' attorney James Norvell called the indictments ``a
trumped up bunch of baloney.'' He said the grand jury
indictments were insufficient to allege a felony offense
under state law.
Neither Norvell, Ellis nor Estes were available for comment
Estes and Ms. Kwong owned the Alcoholism-Central Texas
Services Corp., a tax-exempt organization that operates the
non-profit Freedom House residential alcohol treatment
They also operated two for-profit businesses at the
location, the Lone Star Inn and Fast Cash Services,
according to a search warrant affidavit.
``We have alleged that the corporation violated the law and
that these persons are criminally responsible,'' Brown
County District Attorney Mike Haney said in January. He also
could not be reached Thursday evening.
Also indicted, and still charged with conspiracy and tax
fraud, is attorney Charles McDonald, 70, of Bangs.
Estes, a farmer from Clyde who became a millionaire by his
30th birthday, was a one-time crony of the late President
Lyndon B. Johnson.
Now 72, Estes lives in Brady.
See Estes history
Pecos' jobless rate down again in April
From Staff and Wire Reports
Pecos' unemployment rate declined for the fourth month in a
row, according to figures released Thursday by the Texas
The number of people without jobs actually increased by
five, from 456 to 461, from March to April, but an increase
of 113 jobs offset a rise in the local labor force of 118
people, allowing the jobless rate to fall from 9.0 to 8.9
Pecos had 4,703 people working last month, out of a labor
force of 5,164. Both those numbers are high total so far for
1998, as the beginning of harvest season has increased both
the number of jobs in town, and the workforce within the
The number of jobs locally is up by just under 400 since
January, when unemployment stood at 10.5 percent.
For Reeves County as a whole, the unemployment rate also
fell one-tenth of a percent in April, from 7.9 to 7.8
percent. The TWC said 6,095 people were employed last month,
out of a labor force of 6,610. In March, there were 5,948
people working out of a 6,457 labor force within the county.
There was little change in the unemployment rate for most
other area towns, with declines or increases of less than .2
percent common. The only exceptions were in Fort Stockton,
where a drop in the labor force offset a decline in jobs,
and lowered the unemployment rate from 6.9 to 5.9 percent,
and Kermit, where the labor force increase while the job
market shrank, raising its rate from 6.3 to 7.5 percent.
Fort Stockton had 3,742 out of 3,975 people employed last
month; Kermit had a workforce of 2,374 of which 2,196 had
jobs; Monahans reported a 5.7 percent unemployment rate,
with 2,687 out of 2,849 people working; Andrews' rate was at
5.5 percent, with 3,969 employed out of 4,201 in the
workforce; Lamesa had 3,912 employed out of 4,215, for a 7.2
percent rate, and Big Spring had a 5.5 percent rate, with
9,191 people working and 435 unemployed.
Statewide, Texas' unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in
April, the third straight month of decline.
The TWC reported that the rate was down from 4.6 percent in
An upturn in agricultural employment due to the seasonal
production and packing of fresh vegetables in the Lower Rio
Grande Valley contributed to the lower rate, officials said.
The April rate was nine-tenths of a percentage point lower
than last year's rate of 5.1 percent, the commission said.
Rates of unemployment in the urban areas of Texas as
announced by the TWC for April, compared with revised March
figures (in parentheses) were:
Abilene 3.0 (3.3); Amarillo 3.1 (3.4); Austin-San Marcos 2.3
(2.5); Beaumont-Port Arthur 6.4 (6.8); Brazoria 5.3 (5.7);
Brownsville-Harlingen 11.1 (12.2); Bryan-College Station 1.4
(1.5); Corpus Christi 5.8 (6.0); Dallas 2.9 (3.1);
El Paso 8.9 (9.5); Fort Worth-Arlington 2.9 (3.1);
Galveston-Texas City 5.8 (6.3); Houston 3.7 (3.9);
Killeen-Temple 3.9 (4.2); Laredo 8.8 (9.4);
Longview-Marshall 5.8 (6.4); Lubbock 3.0 (3.3);
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 14.8 (17.5); Odessa-Midland 4.2
San Angelo 2.7 (3.0); San Antonio 3.2 (3.6); Sherman-Denison
3.8 (4.0); Texarkana NA; Tyler 4.4 (4.8); Victoria 4.0
(4.1); Waco 4.0 (4.4); Wichita Falls 4.1 (4.5).
Anchor West tax abatement tops agenda
The regular meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners'
Court will be held a day later than usual, at 9:30 a.m. on
Tuesday, in the third floor courtroom at Reeves County
Courthouse, due to the Memorial Day holiday.
The agenda includes a discussion of a tax abatement for
Anchor West, Inc.; a county-wide ban on outdoor burning and
fireworks due to hazardous fire conditions; an interlocal
agreement between county and Pecos City to fund juvenile
officer position; N.C. Sturgeon's final application for
payment for 1995's 141 bed addition at RCDC;
bidding/purchasing of six-month supply of inmate food; and
the reinstitution of seniority for RCDC employees.
Also on the agenda is a contract with Odessa College and
RCDC for vocational training; RCDC contract for
transportation director; update from Lorraine Dailey on RCDC
dayroom addition project; lease agreement with AmeriClean
Systems Inc and RCDC; appointment of committee for tax sale;
discussion of asbestos class action settlement; departmental
reports; and personnel and salary changes at RCDC.
Bell alumni reunion set for weekend
By ROSIE FLORES
"Dreams Come True," is the theme for this year's Earl Bell
Alumni Reunion and Conference, scheduled for this weekend in
The special events will began tonight at 7 p.m., with a
social/mixer at Saragosa Park. Food and assorted beverages
will be available and registration will begin.
On Saturday events will kick off at 10 a.m., with the
Conference's Eighth Annual Business Meeting, at Santa Rosa
Parish Hall, on East Third Street.
A covered dish luncheon will be held at 2 p.m., at the hall
with registration continuing.
At 3 p.m., guest speakers will be introduced by Raul Garcia.
Public presentation of Annual Scholarship Awards to
recipients is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
A dance at the hall featuring D.J. Cat will commence at 9
p.m. and continue until 1 a.m.
After the dance menudo and all the fixings will be available
for members and guests.
Mary Lou Smith
Mary Lou Smith, 57, of Hillsboro, died Saturday, May 16,
1998 at her residence.
Funeral services were held Monday, May 18, at the Marshall
and Marshall Chapel in Hillsboro with Rev. Keith Murray
officiating. Burial was in Elm Grove Cemetery.
She was born March 6, 1941, in Pecos, was raised in Pecos,
and graduated from Pecos High School. She received her
degree in elementary education from Sul Ross State
University in Alpine, taught school in Nebraska and in Texas
in Toyah, Hereford and Hillsboro. She was a member of the
First United Methodist Church of Milford.
Survivors include her husband, Byron Smith of Hillsboro; two
sons, Rusty Smith of Hempstead, Walt Smith of College
Station; one daughter, Margaret Harp of Hillsboro and three
Marshall and Marshall Funeral Home was in charge of
High Thursday 99. Low this morning 79. Forecast for tonight:
Fair. Low in the upper 60s. South to southwest wind 10-20
mph. Saturday, mostly sunny. High in the lower 90s.
Southwest to west wind 10-20 mph. Rest of the memorial day
weekend, partly cloudy. Lows 60 65. highs 90 95.
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