Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, July 17, 1998
District seeking grant to wire libraries
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board discussed a number of other
items in addition to tax and budget matters during their
special meeting Thursday, including approval of an
application for a Telecommunication Infrastructure Fund
The grant will be for $88,000 of which the district has to
have a 10 percent matching amount totalling $8,800.
Technology Coordinator Jodi Exum said the money will be used
to complete wiring and networking computers for the world
wide web and bring them into the school system.
Campuses involved are Crockett Middle School, Zavala Middle
School, Bessie Haynes Elementary and Austin Elementary.
Points of connection will be the libraries which are
Exum said word on the grant should be received by Aug. 25.
Also on the agenda was approving the gifted and talented
program information for student handbooks and a closed
session to consider personnel. After the closed session, the
board approved several changes in personnel.
Those changes included the resignation of Joe Brannon, music
teacher at Pecos Elementary and Bessie Haynes; reassignment
of Veronica Valenzuela from physical education at Lamar to
PE at Austin Elementary and the appointment of Lynda Mears
as fifth grade teacher at Bessie Haynes. She is a graduate
of Texas Tech and has three years experience.
School prepares for budget cuts, tax hike
By MAC McKINNON
An eight-cent increase in property tax rates is being
considered as a recommendation by the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
Independent School District Superintendent Don Love.
Love made the comment Thursday evening following a special
session of the school board when asked to give his idea of a
proposed tax rate.
The school board covered a preliminary budget as well as
heard figures on tax rolls during the meeting. The 8-cent
tax rate increase (with one cent equaling about $36,000 in
taxes) would cover an estimated shortfall of $153,230 in a
budget of $13,928,996 in preliminary expenses. The actual
tax rate and budget will be considered and set next month.
Large cuts have already been made in the preliminary budget
with expenditures down from $15.39 million this past year to
$13.9 for the coming year. Of that total, payroll has been
cut more than $1 million from $12.03 million to $10.9
School taxes have not been increased from the current $1.40
per $100 valuations rate over the past four years and that,
along with declining enrollment and a high rate of truancy
among students, has led to a financial emergency in the
The board and school administration is continuing to look at
other cost cutting measures.
School Tax Assessor-Collector Lydia O. Prieto presented the
certified tax appraisal rolls for the school district which
shows taxable value of property and minerals at $445,642.720
for 1998 but the net taxable is $366,162.280, a decrease
from last year of $14,139,500. That decrease amounts to a
loss of about $200,000 in taxes for the schools.
Of the net taxable amount, $120,520,200 was real estate and
$245,642,280 is minerals.
Prieto and business manager Cookie Canon told the board that
the new budget was being drawn up based on a 92 percent
collection rate. This year, the collection rate is running
about 94 percent.
Love told the board that the student count for preparing the
budget for state reimbursement was based on 2,801 students
as compared to 2,863 students the district was reimbursed
for by the state this past year.
Prieto also presented the effective and rollback tax rates,
noting that the rules have changed in calculating rollback.
She said in the past it was based on a percentage of taxes,
but now, that figure is based on revenue.
Later in the meeting in a budget workshop, Canon presented
breakdowns on budget figures for various departments.
Love pointed out that the $338,000 the district will have to
reimburse the state due to overpayment that was deducted due
to student truancy will be taken from the ending balance.
One item of note was the increased travel costs due to Pecos
now being in a district with mostly El Paso area schools.
That amounts to about $35,941 more than last year.
It was also noted that new carpet is budgeted for the
swimming pool since the district swim meet will be here this
year and a new van is included in the budget.
One question raised by Trustee Albert Alvarez was if there
was any way to recover the money lost for students missing
school and then the school having to hold makeup classes.
The answer was no, to which Alvarez noted that the students
should be held accountable and pay for the costs.
Love noted it costs the school $14.77 to $15 a day that each
student misses. Love is to check and determine the legality
of charging students for make-up.
Alvarez also questioned the practice of paying janitors
44-hours a week, giving them automatically four hours of
overtime a week, plus 20-days of paid time off plus
That overtime costs the district $30,000 a year, Love said.
Alvarez noted that if that overtime is needed, the extra
money could hire two new janitors. Janitors are paid for
9-hours a day Monday through Thursday plus eight hours on
Trustee Louis Matta said the board shouldn't pick on the low
man on the totem pole as there should be other ways to cut
Love and Alvarez noted that the days taken off for Christmas
and spring break are among the highest of any school
district. Alvarez said he didn't know when the overtime and
time off started as he didn't recall ever voting on it.
The item is apparently to be discussed further at a later
One area of concern in the budget, Love said, is insurance
cost with a minimum of an $8 a month increase from $172 to
$180 but that has not been determined exactly. The number of
employees is less this year from 515 to 460 so the impact of
that increase will not be as bad as it would have been.
Rivera touts feds' `HUBZone' project
By ROSIE FLORES
Reeves County is one of 48 counties in Texas that might
qualify for a special program aimed at encouraging economic
development in distressed communities.
"I've been putting together a packet that will be mailed out
to businesses in this county that might qualify for this
program," said Pecos Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera.
The HUBZone Empowerment Contracting program is to provide
federal contracting opportunities for certain qualified
small business concerns located in distressed communities,
in an effort to promote private sector investment and
employment opportunities in these communities.
Fostering the growth of federal contractors in these areas
and ensuring that they become viable businesses for the long
term is seen as a way to help empower these areas, while not
adversely affecting recent efforts to streamline and improve
the federal procurement process.
"We're lucky that we're one of the counties that qualifies
for this program," said Rivera.
There are 254 counties in Texas, with only 48 meeting the
requirements for the program.
Over the past several years, the Clinton Administration and
Congress have advanced proposals to improve economic
opportunities in distressed communities throughout the
country. Both have sought to promote development and
employment growth in such communities through access to
federal contract opportunities.
Rivera explained that this program seeks to encourage
economic development in historically underutilized business
zones - "HUBZones" - through establishment of preferences
for awarding of federal contracts to small businesses
located in such areas.
"This might make some companies qualified for bidding on
these contracts, that might not otherwise do so," said
The HUBZone Empowerment Contracting Program was enacted into
law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization Act of
1997. The program falls under the auspices of the U.S. Small
Business Administration. Proposed regulations were issued on
April 2 of this year.
Under the statute, SBA is responsible for:
- Publishing final regulations to implement the program;
- Determining whether or not individual concerns are both
qualified HUBZone small business concerns and eligible to
receive HUBZone contracts;
- Maintaining a listing of qualified HUBZone small business
concerns for use by acquisition agencies in awarding
contracts under the program;
- Examining and verifying the representations of concerns to
ensure that they are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts;
- Adjudicating protests of eligibility to receive HUBZone
- And reporting to Congress the degree to which the HUBZone
Empowerment Contracting Program has yielded increased
employment opportunities and investment in HUBZones.
A "HUBZone" is an area that is located in either a qualified
census tract, qualified "non-metropolitan county" that is
not located in a metropolitan statistical area or an area in
which the median household income is less than 80 percent of
the non-metropolitan state median household income. Areas
also qualify if, based on the most recent data available
from the Secretary of Labor, it has an unemployment rate
that is not less than 140 percent of the statewide average
unemployment rate for the state, of it the area is within
the external boundaries of an Indian reservation.
"This is an excellent opportunity for everybody that
provides a service in this community, because they might
qualify for this program," said Rivera.
This program applies to firms that are currently located
within HUBZones, start-up businesses that are located in
these areas and existing firms that choose to move their
business to qualified areas.
After the packet is put together and sent out to the
businesses that might qualify, the businesses will then
respond. "They are asked to respond and then will be
contacted to be put on the pro-net list," said Rivera.
Rivera stated that the chamber is working diligently on
other projects include a tax workshop, from 2-5 p.m., Aug.
4, at the Swiss Clock Inn. Representatives from the Texas
Comptrollers Office and the IRS will be on hand. This
workshop is free of charge to anyone who would like to
Another workshop has been tentatively set with a
motivational guest speaker, Tom Starr. The workshop will be
held Sept. 24, with the time and place to be announced at a
later time. This seminar is free of charge to chamber
members and nominal fee will be charged to others who want
Another seminar planned is to discuss the new $20 bill. "I
still need to get with the banks and set up something," said
Rivera. This seminar will be available to everyone and will
include a training video.
Officials concerned by Tiguas' purchase
EL PASO (AP) - The Tigua Indians completed the purchase
Thursday of a 68,000-acre West Texas ranch that will be used
as a tribal recreation area and maybe as a dude ranch for
tourists, the tribe's attorney said.
The ranch, in Culberson County about 120 miles southeast of
El Paso, will be available almost immediately for tribal
members to hunt and camp, said attorney Tom Diamond.
Other activities, including establishing the dude ranch and
possibly a wind-powered electrical plant, are being studied,
The ranch purchase is the latest spinoff from the tribe's
five-year-old El Paso casino, which has brought the Tiguas
into conflict with Gov. George W. Bush. The governor
contends the tribe's slot machines are illegal and has
sought to shut them down.
The purchase itself has made city officials nervous because
the land borders property the city purchased to secure
access to an underlying aquifer as a contingency water
supply and allows the Tiguas to tap into the same supply.
Coupled with a tribal lawsuit aimed at controlling the
distribution of all Rio Grande water in the city, the sale
has officials saying they are concerned about what the tribe
may do with the water.
``There's no basis for that whatsoever,'' said Diamond.
``The citizens of El Paso are far better off with the
Indians owning this land than anyone else. The tribe is in
the same boat as the city of El Paso'' when it comes to
People soaking in high temperatures
By MALIA RULON
Associated Press Writer
CAREFREE, Ariz. - It's 115 degrees. So what? David and
Corazon Lawton don't mind, not after suffering through the
winters that Detroit can dish out.
It turns out that the Lawtons aren't alone. There are plenty
of people around here who can stand the heat.
``I've had my beard frozen and my breath freeze on my
face,'' said Scott Smith, a Utah native who moved here six
years ago and spent Thursday afternoon supervising a crew
``I'd much rather deal with the heat,'' he said with a
hearty laugh. ``It gets so cold in Utah you can't move; in
the heat, you just slow down and drink lots of water.
``Besides, you have a great tan all year long.''
The heat wave blamed for more than 50 deaths and millions of
dollars in crop damage across the southern third of the
country didn't let up Thursday. For an 11th straight day,
temperatures climbed over 100 in north Texas. The heat wave
has claimed at least 27 lives across the state and caused
$1.5 billion in crop damage.
Elsewhere, at least 20 people have died in Louisiana, six in
Oklahoma and one each in California and Arizona since
mid-May because of the heat. At Fort Bragg, N.C., three
soldiers on a 12-mile march were hospitalized Thursday for
heat exhaustion. One was in critical condition.
The Southwest also was besieged by high temperatures that
are expected to linger through the weekend. It was 120
degrees in Needles, Calif.; 126 in Bullhead City, tying an
all-time high; 113 in Phoenix; and 116 in Las Vegas. In Palm
Springs, Calif., the heat index, which factors in humidity,
``Terrible, terrible,'' Ron Miller, 40, of Allentown, Pa.,
said as he sunbathed next to a Last Vegas pool. ``It was
warm back East but not this bad.''
Carefree's 2,300 residents soaked in 116 degrees of heat on
Thursday and, true to the town's name, no one seemed to
The Lawtons, lured by their daughter's vacation stories of
Arizona, this week bought a house in this posh suburb about
20 miles north of Phoenix.
``Last winter, we were sitting with snow up to our armpits
and I'm seeing 80- to 90-degree weather in Arizona,'' Lawton
said. ``We know what we're getting into and I'm not going to
whine about the heat. This is better than gray skies, rain
and 30-below weather.''
Many of Carefree's newest residents hail from the East
Coast, said Aubrey Dowling, who works at the town's Chamber
She said she spends her days handing out restaurant lists
and information packets to new home owners eager to trade in
nine months of wintertime nightmares for two months of
Arizona's scorching summers.
Desert diehards warned that the dry heat of the Southwest
isn't for everyone.
``We're acclimated to the heat,'' longtime resident Craig
Deckard said. ``But the people from up East, they're used to
the humidity and not the intense heat.''
Deckard said he battles the weather at his construction job
by wearing a hard hat with a solar panel that runs a
miniature fan pointed at his forehead.
Still, asked if he's ever thought of leaving, Deckard just
smiled, shook his head and sauntered out into the scorching
Lujan handles instructor's job
By GREG HARMAN
The recent appointment of Victor Prieto as chief deputy at
the Reeves County Sheriff's Office has raised some questions
regarding former chief deputy Fred Lujan, and the division
of duties there.
Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez explained the change in
chief deputy position was less of a disciplinary matter than
a matter of re-designating duties.
The former duties of the chief deputy have been divided,
Gomez said, and as a result, Lujan was put in charge solely
of training and personnel.
The fact that "Fred (Lujan) is the only deputy certified as
an instructor," was part of the reason he was pulled from
the chief deputy position, Gomez said.
"I am working with the new hires, seeing to their
documentation and training, as well as training existing
deputies," said Lujan, to make sure the sheriff's office
maintains its license with the Texas Commission on Law
Enforcement Standards and Education. "Now I am dedicated
fully to training officers and assuring compliance."
Victor Prieto, the new chief deputy selected by Gomez two
weeks ago, will concentrate on overseeing investigations,
fielding public complaints and checking the daily reports
Prieto has received a slight raise, said Gomez, while Lujan
took a cut, to equalize the two salaries.
Another change at the Sheriff's office involved the
resignation of deputy Tony Aguilar. Gomez said he had
received a string of complaints from state agencies over
Aguilar's failure to adequately fill out his paperwork.
Ward plans to promote Pecos during trip
By GREG HARMAN
"We won't be going to any trade shows. We're going out
knocking on doors."
-Gari Ward, president of Reeves County Economic
Development Council, on the upcoming trip to Chicago and New
Forget the massive direct mail campaigns and all the
colorful, high-gloss paper, for now. Don't even consider the
shmoozing, cramped smiles and small talk of industry
conferences. City and county leaders won't be going to any
trade shows, either, on their upcoming door-to-door campaign
to bring industry to Pecos.
Faced with potential "economic disaster," Ward promoted a
more immediate, and not-so-traditional, approach to economic
recovery for Reeves County while speaking at the weekly
Rotary Club luncheon at noon yesterday.
Ward will be traveling later next month to Chicago and New
York, with various Reeves County Economic Development
members and civic leaders, in the hopes of attracting
industry to Pecos.
"We have got to do something now. Talk is cheap. Action
takes money," said Ward while announcing his intentions to
hit the road to Chicago, New York and the many boroughs in
between to sell Pecos and its large available labor pool to
"friends, associates and business acquaintances" there.
Since the announcement of preliminary layoffs and the
pending shutdown of Freeport McMoRan Sulphur Inc.'s
Culberson County mine on June 30, things "even look bleaker"
for the county, he said. Most of the 158 jobs that will be
lost are from the Pecos area.
"People have asked me, `What made you come to Pecos?,'" said
Ward. "I tell them of the many advantages here for industry:
the cost of housing, the availability of labor, and good
transportation. It is just a matter of channeling our
resources in a good direction."
It is with these points that he hopes to market to
Midwestern and northeastern corporations as soon as he
finishes putting together a booklet of county demographics.
He said he anticipated two weeks of work on the information
Following the non-traditional method, Ward plans investigate
various "Maquila" corporations operating in Chihuahua,
Mexico, pursue Economic Development Administration grant
money and bring Odessa College classes to Pecos.
"Maquila" operations allow U.S. companies to set up and
manage their own facilities in Mexico. They benefit not only
from the cheap labor there, but are assisted by duty-free
importation of machinery, equipment, parts and materials --
providing they post a bond that these goods will not remain
permanently in Mexico.
Over 850 corporations are currently operating in Chihuahua,
Mexico, Ward said. "There has to be some that -- rather than
manufacturing in Michigan -- would rather set up in Pecos,"
he said. Ward said he is working to determine what suppliers
are supporting these Chihuahuan plants, so they may be
approached about the benefits of operating in Pecos.
More "homework" must be done to complete an overall economic
development plan, Ward told the Rotary Club members. This
plan must be complete before the county may apply for grant
money for infrastructure from the Economic Development
Meanwhile, a five-hour meeting with Odessa College officials
earlier in the week has convinced Ward that the school is
"very interested" in having a location in Pecos.
City and county leaders opened dialogues with Odessa on this
subject late last year, but conversation has since died
down. According to Ward, it is only a matter of "working out
the mechanics" with the college, and finding a suitable
location to house it, that remain to be settled.
"Pecos has an exciting future," Ward said, "We have got to
have total community support to make this happen."
In response to questions raised by Rotarian Jim Ivy, Ward
told the group that tax abatements, foreign trade zones, and
various types of tax incentives may be used to lure business
to settle in a community.
"I've seen communities pay corporations $100,000 per job
created . . . But you don't hand out (incentives) unless
you're absolutely forced to," said Ward. "But forget about
incentives. You've got labor, and you've got productive
labor. I've seen it."
N.Y. Times reporter Durdin dies
Tillman Durdin, who began a long, distinguished journalism
career at the age of 14 with the Pecos Enterprise, died July
7 in San Diego, Calif. at the age of 91.
Frank Tillman Durdin retired in 1974 after 37 years with The
New York Times. He edited the Shanghai Express, a subsidiary
of the Times, until driven out by the Japanese. He returned
to New York and was far-east correspondent for many years.
Since his retirement, Durdin had lived in La Jolla, Calif.,
with Peggy, his wife of 60 years, who survives him. She was
a former foreign correspondent for Newsweek, Time and Life.
After his retirement, Durdin used his vast knowledge of Asia
and East-West relations to write a column for The San Diego
Union in the late 1970s. From 1976 to 1979, Durdin directed
public relations in the United States for the Sultanate of
Known as a creaful reporter «MDNM»and conservative writer,
Drudin earned a reputation as an unassuming beacon of truth.
In 1937, he was one of the first foreign correspondents to
describe the Japanese atrocities in China that became known
as the Rape of Nanking.
Born Frank Tillman Durdin in Elkhart on March 30, 1907, he
moved to Pecos with his family and completed school here.
While writing for the Enterprise, he also sold advertising
and operated a Linotype machine.
After two years at Texas Christian University, Durdin
started a small paper in Pyote during its oil boom years. He
earned enough money there to finish college. He also worked
for newspapers in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Los
He was the brother of the last Estelle Clinton, who served
as Reeves County Clerk for many years.
High Thursday 97. Low this morning 71. Forecast for tonight:
Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of evening
thunderstorms. Otherwise fair. Low near 70. Light wind.
Saturday, partly cloudy with a less than 20 percent chance
of thunderstorms. High near 100. Southeast to 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
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise