Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, May 27, 1998
Tax error may delay Anchor's expansion
Reeves County could receive over $4½ million in additional
tax valuation - but at the potential cost of new jobs - as the
result of an administrative blunder at Anchor West, county
commissioners were told Monday.
Appleton, Wisconsin-based Anchor West, which produces frozen
food items locally and is Reeves County's largest private
employer, failed to return a tax abatement form for the 1998
tax year. Because of that, Anchor was denied their usual
abatement by the Reeves County Appraisal District.
The error may dump an additional $4.68 million valuation
into the county, city and hospital's tax pool. However,
Anchor is protesting the district's ruling that it is liable
for the full amount of its real estate value, and Oscar
Saenz, Anchor's general manager, appeared before the Reeves
County Commissioners' Court Monday morning to urge
commissioners to override the appraisal district's decision.
But, according to the State Comptroller's Office, an
override may not be possible.
Anchor was originally approved to operate tax-free for five
years when it set up its business in Pecos south of U.S.
Interstate 20 in 1990. Then, in January, 1996, the taxing
entities agreed to grant an additional five years of
exemption to the company.
Speaking to the commissioners, Saenz drew a correlation
between the tax abatements and Anchor's increasing
productivity. "It is these abatements that keep us getting
equipment," he said.
Anchor West has spent $500,000 on new equipment this year,
Saenz said, and has hired 10 new employees. Saenz said he
expects to add a new item to its four-item product line
within nine months, and hire an additional 100 employees
because of the improvements. He estimated the company would
have seven complete product lines in three years.
County Judge Jimmy Galindo motioned that the commissioners
approve Anchor West for the tax abatement, despite having
missed the filing deadline.
"Anchor West has made a tremendous investment in this
community - from child care to jobs," Galindo said.
Lynn Owens, Reeves county auditor, advised the commissioners
that State Comptroller John Sharp's office had said that
local taxing entities did not have the authority to appeal
the county appraisal district's decision. Owens said that
Anchor West may not benefit from any abatements until the
1999 tax forms are filed.
Following Owens' notice, Galindo recommended that
commissioners act on the situation first and attempt to
resolve their differences with the Sharp's office later.
"Whatever it takes to make this work I'm willing to do it,"
Chief Appraiser Carol King Markham confirmed yesterday
afternoon that two tax abatement forms were mailed out in
early January, one to the Appleton headquarters, the other
to Saenz. Markham further stated that she sent a second
abatement form, along with a handwritten note reminding
Saenz of the upcoming May 1 deadline, in early April.
Saenz told the commissioners that an employee had filed the
abatement application form rather than return it to the
According to Dennis Hart, research analyst at the State
Comptroller's office, the commissioners may "feel" like
their action means something, but it will not affect the
appraisal district's denial of Anchor's abatement.
Citing the Texas Property Tax Code (statute 11.28 and
11.43), Hart said that the law requires the property
owner claiming exemption to re-apply each year.
"The law is very clear on that," said Hart. "Her (Markham's)
hands are tied. She is bound by the law here."
Hart stressed that the county does not have the authority to
order Markham to change her ruling, and that only court
action can restore the abatement for the current fiscal year.
In other action, a dangerous situation with the electrical
wiring in the northeast corner of the Reeves County Civic
Center has the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee concerned
about upcoming events.
"We've historically had large bands for concerts that tie
into the fuse box," said Rodeo Committee spokesman Ray Owen.
"There are problems with the box because the wiring is
incorrect and the power available is inadequate."
Trevor Teague, of Texas-New Mexico Power Company,
recommended putting the back half of the center on a
separate meter. "If you get the back half on a separate
meter, Texas-New Mexico Power will build the line for free,"
Teague suggested a 600 and a 200 amp main power supply.
An electrician at Anchor West estimated the total cost of
the project at about $4,500, said Teague. "I thought that
was an excellent bid considering what had to be done."
Commissioner Felipe Arrendondo noted that the problem has
existed for some time. Commissioners voted to spend the
money necessary needed to make the repairs, even though it
wasn't budgeted, and take it out of the end of the year
Commissioners also approved spending $20,000 to help fund
the Pecos Economic Development Corporation and the new
executive hired last week to oversee economic development.
County auditor Lynn Owens said a contract is necessary to
make it legal for the county to participate, which he agreed
to do at the request of Galindo. Owens said he had attempted
to find a model contract from other counties but had been
unsuccessful in doing so.
Commissioners also approved an interlocal agreement with the
city of Pecos to fund a juvenile officer. Sheriff's Officer
Hilda Woods has been named to that position and Sheriff Andy
Gomez said he needs to hire someone to take over her
Following an executive session, commissioners agreed to
accept a class action settlement in the amount of $10,875.60
to replace asbestos tiles in the hallway of the old hospital
building. The suit has been filed on behalf of governmental
Employees at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC) who
have at least 10 years continuous service at the facility
had their seniority restored even though for part of that
time they were employees of Corrections Corporation of
America, which ran the prison for the county for four years.
This applies only to vacation accrual.
Elfida Zuniga, county tax-assessor collector, was approved
to receive sealed bids on upcoming tax foreclosure sale of
property. Commissioners also approved supporting a
legislative agenda to get prisoners who have the money to
pay their own per diem while in county jail, such as is done
in other states. This item will be presented to the next
session of the state legislature.
Most of the other items involved the RCDC, including signing
a previously approved contract with AmeriClean Systems and a
contract between RCDC and Odessa College for vocational
Warden Rudy Franco said $120,000 was budgeted for that
training, which came from funds received from telephone
usage by prisoners. The three programs, scheduled to start
July 1, would be in horticulture, auto mechanics and
building trades, all of which could be used to help the RCDC
and eventually the community by saving money and providing
plants for local entities to use in landscaping.
He noted it would create three new jobs at a cost of about
$97,000 and the remainder of the budget would be used for
Franco also proposed hiring a transportation director,
Michael A. Lecuyer, who is now at LaTuna Federal Prison in
El Paso but will be available Nov. 1. He noted this would
help improve the transportation department. The proposal was
After some discussion, it was decided to continue to take
bids on purchasing food for inmates at RCDC rather than go
through the state. Owens noted many of the items needed are
not available through state bids.
Architect Lorraine Dailey reported that the expansion of the
RCDC is close to being on schedule and should be completed
in the next few weeks. An inspection by the state jail
commission set for June 16.
It is hoped that drawings can be obtained from Frank Spencer
& Associates in time to get started on sewer and water lines
while the contractor is still at the scene.
Dailey also approved final payment to N.C. Sturgeon for
1995's 141-bed expansion of the RCDC. That amounted to
Council has water grant, pool repairs on agenda
Town of Pecos City Council will discuss repairing the Maxey
Park Municipal Swimming Pool and will receive a $350,000
grant from a representative of the Texas Department of
Housing and Community Affairs during their regular meeting
Thursday morning at City Hall.
The grant money is for the replacement of a section of the
24-inch water transmission line from the Ward County Well
The Maxey Park pool did not open as scheduled Memorial Day
weekend because of a series of cracks, ranging from major to
minor, that threaten the pool's stability. A previous quote
for replacing the city pool's fiberglass liner ran about
Other items on the council's agenda include:
- Hear a semi-annual audit report;
- Discuss a petition to close the 1400 block of Oak Street
on June 26;
- Consider professional services of John M. Wojtkun;
- Contract with Frank Spencer to assist in sewer line
- Select management services of community grant;
- Conduct second reading to ordinance to install flashing
school zone lights on Washington Street between Eddy and
- Discuss enforcement of litter control;
- And consider policy on contracting with city employees for
The council will also hear the municipal report, tax
collector's report, the hotel/motel tax reports, and
consider, in closed session, hiring a Pecos Police
The council's meeting will start at 7:30 a.m. in the City
Council Chambers at City Hall.
Strong storms strike eastern Permian Basin
By The Associated Press
Strong thunderstorms triggered at least one tornado,
produced high winds, large hail and flash flooding as they
cut a wide swath across Texas during the night and early
There were reports that two persons were injured and two
homes were damaged when a tornado struck at Veribest,
located about five miles east of San Angelo in Tom Green
County. Baseball-size hail accompanied that storm,
No one was injured in the other storms.
Northern Reeves County was under a severe thunderstorm
warning Tuesday evening, and areas to the north of Pecos did
receive some showers. But most of the rains formed along a
line to the east, stretching from Fort Stockton to
Lovington, N.M., with the heaviest Permian Basin storms
occurring in Andrews, Glasscock and Howard counties, where
flash flood warnings were issued.
The storms roared across Texas on the first anniversary of
the deadly tornado at Jarrell that claimed 27 lives and
devastated a large area of the town of about 1,000.
There were 22 tornadoes in central Texas last May 27 that
caused $20 million in damage. In addition to the dead, at
least 13 people were injured in Jarrell, 30 miles north of
Austin, and 20 in other communities.
There were widespread reports of hail ranging from the size
of dimes to the size of golf balls.
Winds gusted to 80 mph at Gorman in Eastland County and at
Stephenville in Erath County.
At San Angelo, a church roof was damaged and several
outbuildings were destroyed as winds gusted to 65 mph. A
gasoline station sign was blown over, striking a San Angelo
Large hail pelted many areas of Tom Green County.
Heavy rainfall caused street flooding at Quail Valley in Tom
Green County. Water was up to 8 feet deep on some streets,
according to the National Weather Service.
High winds damaged a barn and street flooding was reported
A house located about 10 miles north of Stephenville was
damaged by wind.
Street flooding was reported in Weatherford, located west of
Winds gusted to 65 mph at Keller in Tarrant County. Some
street flooding was reported at nearby North Richland Hills.
The National Weather Service office in Fort Worth was struck
by winds gusting to 58 mph.
Thousands of Texas Utilities Electric customers in the
Dallas area woke up today without power because of lightning
strikes on TU Electric feeder lines, spokesman Rand LaVonn
He had no estimate of the number of customers affected.
However, he said 16 feeder lines were struck, ``and each
serves hundreds, even thousands of customers,'' LaVonn said.
Also struck was a TU Electric control center in Irving. No
injured were reported, he said.
Worst hit were customers in the Dallas suburbs of Plano,
Grand Prairie and Seagoville, along with the Oak Cliff
section of Dallas.
Burning ban is approved for county
By GREG HARMAN
Heeding the advice of county Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire,
Reeves County Commissioners voted at Monday's meeting to ban
outdoor burning and aerial fireworks until rain showers
minimize the risk of grass fires.
The decision follows in the wake of several rampaging West
Texas fires that together blackened over 100,000 acres in
Jeff Davis and Presidio counties.
Fire conditions as monitored by the Texas Forest Service,
which grade areas low, moderate, or extreme fire hazards,
have labeled Reeves County "extreme" for the last couple
months, said Brookshire.
The volunteer fire department has been called out to no less
than 50 rural fires during those months - far above the norm
for this time of year, said Brookshire.
Thunderstorms did hit parts of Reeves County, mainly between
Pecos and Orla, on Tuesday, but most areas of the county
failed to receive any moisture. Pecos got just a trace of
rain, and the city's year-to-date rainfall total remains at
The ban affects outdoor burning, usually requiring only the
permission of the Texas Air Control Board, by making it
illegal - except for trash fires that are completely
contained in incinerators or barrels with screen lids.
Likewise, all aerial fireworks are also prohibited until the
ban is lifted. Non-aerial fireworks such as firecrackers and
jumping jacks are not affected by the ban.
The ban will be in effect until "there is plenty of rainfall
to take care of the drought situation in Reeves County,"
said Brookshire yesterday. Or, as he explained this morning,
until the rating of "extreme" fire hazard is lessened to
During a similar ban in 1996, Brookshire said the fire
department did not receive a single fireworks-related call
during the Fourth of July weekend.
Tiguas suing to end casino interference
From Staff and Wire Reports
Casino gambling is as legal as the state lottery, claim the
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Indian tribe, whose reservation is
located in El Paso County.
The state of Texas and Gov. George W. Bush are named
defendants in a federal court suit filed Tuesday in Pecos by
the Ysleta tribe, also known as the Tigua Indians.
Gaming activities at the Speaking Rock Casino and
Entertainment Center on the reservation are legal under
federal law, and Gov. George W. Bush is interfering with the
tribe's rights, the suit alleges.
Bush and his political agents have made deceitful and
untruthful statements to the press with respect to claimed
illegal gaming activities at Speaking Rock, they claim, and
the "defamations" are harming the tribe economically.
The petition seeks an injunction and declaratory judgment to
stop Gov. Bush from interfering with the tribe's legal
rights. They also seek an unspecified amount for damages.
The court sided with the tribe in 1993 when it was trying to
launch its ultimately successful gambling venture, ruling
the Tiguas had a right to open a casino. But the victory was
derailed by an appellate court.
Now, they're just seeking to protect what they already have.
``They didn't want to do this but they have no choice. They
can't let this keep going on like it is,'' said Tom Diamond,
the tribe's attorney.
``It's become critical to the tribe to get this issue out of
the way immediately. It's brought a screaming halt to its
economic development program, the constant assertions that
there's illegal activity down here.''
The governor's office responded by saying Bush has ``a
responsibility to uphold the laws of Texas fairly and evenly
in all parts of our state.''
``Texas has a law against casino gambling, and we hope the
federal court will uphold the state's right to enforce its
laws,'' said Bush's spokeswoman, Karen Hughes. ``While the
voters of Texas approved the state lottery, they have not
approved casino gambling, and the laws of Texas prohibit
casino gambling whether in shopping malls, at truck stops,
at restaurants or on Indian reservations.''
Bush recently asked Attorney General Dan Morales to take the
Tiguas to federal court over the slot machines offered at
their El Paso casino.
He also asked the U.S. attorney to make certain no illegal
games were being played at the casino run by the Kickapoo
tribe at Eagle Pass.
Bush's staff has emphasized the Republican governor only
wants to stop illegal gambling wherever it is occurring and
is not trying to close Indian casinos.
But citing federal laws allowing Indian tribes to open
casinos if their state permits gambling, the Tiguas maintain
the approval of the Texas Lottery opened the door for their
own operations, which include slot machines, poker and
Diamond said that so far, the allegations concerning the
Tigua's casino have stalled efforts by the tribe to finance
the purchase of a ranch and the establishment of a
convenience store chain in El Paso.
``The people they have been talking to about financing these
projects have backed off,'' he said.
Attendance at the casino has not been hurt, Diamond said.
Truant students cost P-B-T state funding
By ROSIE FLORES
Students missing from classes during the past school year
will translate into lost state funds for the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD next year, school officials were
told Tuesday evening.
The lost funds, and the resulting cuts in the budget for the
1998-99 school year, were discussed at the first in a series
of budget workshops for the school district.
"This was just a look-over at the budget for the coming
year," said superintendent Don Love, who said principals
from all the campuses in the P-B-T ISD were invited to
attend the workshop.
"Basically, what we did was let them know about the
shortfall, and the fact that no increases and some cuts will
need to be made," said Love.
He said the district didn't earn dollars that they were
counting on, which is part of the reason for the shortfall.
The district is currently $828,851 short right now,
according to Love.
"Over $535,000 will be withheld from our state budget," said
Love. The withheld funds are from the state's ADA (average
daily attendance) formula, and as a result, truancy will
also be an issue that will be monitored closely, according
"We receive some funds based on students' attendance,"
explained Love. "If these students don't show up at school,
we don't receive those funds."
"We've got to get our attendance figures up," said Love.
"We'll be doing a much better job of monitoring all the
students, making sure they are in school (and) if not, why
not," said Love.
Sixteen different areas were looked at during the budget
workshop, including all campuses, PEP budget (pregnancy
education program), career and technology, GT program,
guidance and counseling, special education, technology, band
"We have a lot more areas to look at, as far as the budget
is concerned and all will be addressed during the
workshops," said Love.
"The bottom line is, some cuts will need to be made and will
do what needs to be done to get all this straightened out,"
Hila Marie Coleman, 82, of Pecos, died Monday, May 25, 1998,
at her residence.
Services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at West
Park Baptist Church with Rev. James Sain officiating. Burial
will be in Fairview Cemetery.
She was born July 12, 1915, in Pink Hill, was a homemaker
and a Baptist.
Survivors include one son, Cyrus Coleman, Jr. of Pecos; one
sister, Allene Eatherly of Van Allystne, Tx. and two
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Norma Jane Prew, 73, of Balmorhea, died Monday, May 25,
1998, at Odessa Medical Center.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Balmorhea Cemetery.
She was born June 27, 1924, in Shipler, Okla., was retired
and a lifelong Balmorhea resident.
Survivors include one daughter, Judy James of Tulsa, Okla.;
two brothers, Lee Douglous of Calif., J.C. Burmett of
Connecticut and one sister, Francis James of Tulsa, Okla.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
High Tuesday 95. Low this morning 66. Trace of rain. Total
for month .03 inch. Total for year .15 inch. Forecast for
tonight: Isolated evening thunderstorms, then fair. Low
around 65. southeast wind 5-15 mph. Rain chance less than 20
percent. Thursday: partly cloudy. High around 95. South wind
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise