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Friday, February 19, 1999

Y2K probably overhyped, official says

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 19, 1999 - Chris Remmert, a loss prevention specialist with the Texas Municipal League, believes the Y2K problem may be overblown, but he's not sure.

"There are no experts, since it has never happened," he said of the computer glitch that threatens to shut down computers and/or software that use a two-digit year. When the calendar rolls over to 2000, those two zeroes may be viewed as 1900, throwing everything out of whack.

"Some may be real, but the major thing we have to worry about is imagined problems," Remmert told a group of area municipal officials and employees at a seminar in the Pecos Community Center Tuesday.

Computer consultants are behind much of the hype about Y2K, along with software companies and vendors, he said.

"Suppliers of systems stand to make a great deal of money. Wonder whether these are problems you absolutely have to fix," he advised. "Wonder if we are being sold a bill of goods.

"We have to stay with what's reasonable and practical."

State Senator Troy Fraser, a former representative for Reeves County, has joined others in filing bills to encourage computer manufacturers and sellers to identify and correct potential Year 2000 date failures before they occur.

The legislation creates incentives for computer manufacturers and sellers to make a good-faith effort to notify their customers and to offer to correct the Y2K problems at a nominal cost.

"We want the people who know the most about the problem to make an effort to fix it," Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, said.

Sen. Robert Duncan said the legislation will become the model nationwide for the resolution of disputes.

Texas Guidebook 2000, commissioned by the office of the governor, has already become a model nationwide, Remmert said.

The guidebook, distributed free to counties, cities and other local government entities, is a reference point and resource for getting started in solving the Y2K problem.

It details what problems may arise in health services, public safety and utilities.

Not only are computers subject to the date problem, embedded systems may cause problems as well.

Remmert said an embedded microchip may be found in anything that uses electricity and acts intelligent. That would include a system that uses dates for calculations, or where an operator inputs a date. And the system may be up to 30 years old.

Systems that may have an embedded real-time clock or 100-year calendar include medical equipment, vehicles, maintenance systems and utilities, he said.

Not only are they subject to failure on 1-1-2000, computer software may fail on 9-9-99, because programmers use 9999 as an end-of-file marker. Another impending disaster date is Feb. 29, 2000, which the computer may not recognize because 2000 is a leap year.

ANGST is the acronym used as a reminder for entities to identify and inventory systems. They may be labeled Absolutely must have; Need; Good; Small-time or Throw away, Remmert said.

He recommended each entity contact their own vendors to get a compliance certificate; test the system yourself; and ask vendors how to test embedded chips.

The guidebook also tells how to make contingency plans in case systems fail, where to find more information on the Internet, and gives sample forms to carry out the suggestions.

Under the legislation filed this week, computer manufacturers and sellers would be granted defenses if they notify computer users at least 90 days in advance of a potential failure, explain the problem and offer to correct it at little or not cost.

Included is creation of a Texas Year 2000 Project Office website to assist computer manufacturers and sellers to inform their customers of potential Y2K failures and to provide information on how to fix those problems.

A toll-free telephone number would be made available for persons who are unable to access the Internet.

Love downplays predicted losses in oil valuations

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 19, 1999 - Schools across West Texas will feel the impact of declining oil and gas prices when they draw up their budgets for Fiscal Year 2000. However, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will not fare as poorly as first predicted, according to school superintendent Don Love.

Love spoke to school board members and interested community members about the problem that many school districts will be facing at the regular school board meeting held Thursday evening.

According to an analysis issued earlier this month by the Comptroller of Public Accounts, a decline in oil prices could have a devastating impact on some local school districts.

"While some consumers may welcome lower prices at the gas pumps," Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander said, "the trickle down effect on some local property values could have a serious financial impact for some Texas school districts."

In some areas of the state, where oil and gas reserves comprise more than 20 percent of the school's value or where oil and gas are valued at more than $250 million, it is estimated total school district losses for the next year will be approximately $150 to $160 million.

Love told the group that he had spoken to Omar Garcia, financial director for Texas Education Agency. "After visiting with him we have figured the worst case scenario and the best case scenario," said Love. "We figured she (Rylander) may be a little off on the figures."

The Comptroller's analysis estimates at least 30 districts will sustain losses of more than $1 million dollars for fiscal year 2000, ranging from a high of $8.3 million in the Iraan-Sheffield school district located in Pecos County to $1.07 million in the Post school district in Garza.

"The financial shortages facing some school districts as a result of the crisis in the oil and gas industry are staggering," Rylander said. "Without emergency assistance Texas homeowners may see their property tax rates climb even higher," she said.

However, Love said Rylander's estimate that P-B-T would lose $758,000 in valuations was about three times the worst case scenario predicted by the TEA. Love said Pecos would lose about $220,000 based on his discussions with Garcia.

"We'll be looking at emergency funds also, when they look at the current year valuations, so we might not even lose a dime," said Love. "That's something we could hope for."

"These figures (from the TEA) are low as far as what they are predicting," said Love. "But we won't know anything for sure until July 25, when the appraisals will be completed."

Love said that the P-B-T will be doing its part in cutting down on unnecessary expenditures for offset the losses, if any occur.

"We'll be cutting down on purchase orders," said Love, who added the district will not cut down on any activities geared toward the students directly.

"We'll still have our band students traveling and participating in extra-curricular events," he said.

"Attendance has been down, we've been losing a lot of kids, but we're still in good shape," said Love.

Last year, major cuts were made and $1.6 in personnel was cut from the budget, he said.

"The drastic measures were taken then," he said. "Everything that is essential, we will still buy."

Love said the school will also purchase more library books and continue with the technology program set out by the technology department.

"The budgetary process is coming up and we'll be addressing some of these problems during that time," said board president Earl Bates.

The total statewide FY 2000 school district loss will be approximately $150-$160 million. This is a very rough estimate based on an informal survey of preliminary figures from local appraisers, according to the comptroller's office.

PEDC to discuss interim funding

PECOS, Feb. 19, 1999 - Interim funding must be obtained soon for the Pecos Economic Development Corporation, and the board of directors will discuss that item in their regular meeting Monday.

Reeves County has paid in $11,890.52 of $20,000 promised. The board has requested additional financing from the county through the Pecos Industrial Foundation.

The board will review the proposed 1999 budget, adopt a budget and act on a request for accounting services to be performed by Steve McCormick, finance director for the city of Pecos.

President Gari Ward will report on the proposed Odessa College campus for Pecos, an industrial prospect tour of Freeport Sulphur Mine on Feb. 11, and on an industrial team training program.

Board chairman Oscar Saenz will report on a prospect, Jerry Redfearn.

Also on the agenda is an item titled "other business" and an executive session.

Saenz said that the executive session is to discuss personnel, including board members and Ward, "A heart to heart discussion about how we are going to do things."

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the snack bar on the second floor of the Security State Bank building. It is open to the public.

Eight indicted in motel room pot bust

Staff Writer
Eight persons arrested just before Christmas last year in a motel room raid were among 17 defendants indicted Thursday by the Reeves County Grand Jury.

Charged with possession of marijuana, at least four ounces but less than five pounds, on Dec. 23, 1998, are Ruben Villegas, 19, Erica Marie Tarin, 18, Tony Rodriguez, 19, Eric Garcia Muniz, 18, Pedro Madrid, 23, Clifton Ray Ikeler, 18, Christopher Adame, 26, and Alvaro Adame, 19.

Bail for each defendant was set at $10,000.

Cosme Colchado Morales, 28, is charged with delivery of cocaine, at least four grams but less than 200 grams, on May 1, 1997. His bail is $100,000.

Eric Lozano Lopez, 26, is charged with aggravated assault by choking Bianca Mendoza until she lost consciousness on Jan. 3. His bail is $15,000.

Charged with possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of school property on Dec. 28, 1998, are Miguel Castro Martinez, 33, and Irene Lopez Martinez, 35. Their bail is $10,000 each.

Armando Luis Armendariz, is charged with delivery of heroin on July 23, 1998. His bail is $15,000.

Sandra Hernandez Avila is charged with delivery of heroin on July 23, 1998 and on Aug. 13, 1998. Bail on each count is $15,000.

James Tsernos is charged with delivery of heroin on Aug. 13, 1998. His bail is $15,000.

Ector Hinojos Martinez, 26, is charged with delivery of heroin on July 23, 1998, and on Aug. 13, 1998. His bail is $15,000 on each count.

Maria Jessica Montgomery, 48, is charged with possession of heroin on Dec. 14, 1998. Her bail is $15,000.

Officials arrest Pecos man for coke, pot possession

PECOS, Feb. 19, 1999 - A Pecos man was charged with two counts of possession of drugs Thursday and was awaiting arraignment late this morning in the Reeves County Jail.

Pecos police investigator Ernest Lazcano said officers from the police department and the Reeves County Sheriff's Department executed a narcotics search warrant on the vehicle of Raymond Rivera Avila, 21.

"Upon searching the vehicle of Mr. Avila, a substance believed to be marijuana was found inside the vehicle," said Lazcano.

Also drug paraphernalia used in the smoking of marijuana was found inside the vehicle, according to police investigator Paul Deishler.

In addition to searching Avila's car, officers also executed a narcotics search warrant on his home, at 723 S. Plum St.

Upon searching the residence a substance believed to be cocaine was found inside the residence. The substance was field tested and the results were positive for cocaine, police said.

Both search warrants were issued by Town of Pecos City Municipal Judge Phyllis Salyer.

Avila was placed in the Reeves County Jail and charged with the offense of possession of marijuana under two ounces and possession of cocaine within a 1,000 feet of a school (Pecos Elementary), which is a third degree felony.

Former postman sentenced for check theft

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 19, 1999 - Former Pecos Postman Paul A. Sabonya will spend three months in jail and pay restitution of $4,375 for theft of mail, Senior Judge Lucius Bunton ruled Tuesday.

Sabonya, 52, had earlier pleaded guilty to taking a check from a letter mailed to a resident on his mail route.

Judge Bunton recommended the jail time be spent in the Winkler County Jail in Kermit, where Sabonya lives, or in the Reeves County Detention Center.

Reynaldo Ruiz, 38, of Odessa, got the longest sentence of the week: 60 months in prison for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting.

Jesus Manuel Fabela, 21, of Fort Hancock, was sentenced to 41 months for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Jesus Antonio Montes-Montes, 49, of Odessa, got 41 months for importing marijuana.

Abel Flores Gonzales, 23, of Presidio, drew six months for assault on a federal officer.

Margot Lopez, 43, of Hobbs, N.M., will serve 15 months for misprison of a felony (failure to report a felony violation).

Ricardo Franco-Rubio, 29, of Torreon, Coah., Mex., was sentenced to six months for making a false claim to citizenship.

Alberto Juarez Jr., 32, of Pasadena, will serve 36 months for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Armando Tarango-Holguin, 56, of Chihuahua, Mex., was sentenced to 30 months for importing marijuana.

Task force announcement set for Monday

Staff Writer
The Permian Basin Drug Task Force will soon be in operation, thanks to the combined efforts of several individuals and entities.

Reeves County Sheriff's deputies assigned to the drug task force will be introduced Monday morning during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on the third floor of the county courthouse.

"We have received a $450,000 grant for this effort," said County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. The Pecos-based task force will replace the former Permian Basin Drug Task Force, based in Odessa, which was denied funding last year by Gov. George W. Bush's office.

Seizure and confiscation won't be the primary method of meeting the local match, according to Galindo.

Local governmental entities will pay 25 percent of the total cost of the project. The PBDTF will establish an agreement to use county-based bed space, 15-20 beds in Reeves County Jail, to fund the local match portion of the grant, according to Galindo.

"It also means participating counties will provide us with bed space in the counties involved," said Galindo.

Parole violators or local inmates will be moved to those beds, along with people wanting to serve their state sentences, according to Galindo.

"In essence the other counties will provide in-kind services by opening up those bed spaces," said Galindo.

Another key element is that the PBDTF has made a commitment to offer drug trafficking interdiction training for all officers in the counties participating in the task force. "This training is for all the officers, not just those on the drug task force," said Galindo.

"We're really investing in local police officers and deputies. If someday the (task force) money is not available, the officers will be trained to fight the war on drugs," said Galindo.

Inmate studies have shown over 60 percent of the people incarcerated in federal prisons are in there for drug offenses. About 126,000 inmates are currently serving sentences in federal prisons, with 60 percent of those charged with drug violations.

"The ability to work with several counties shows local commitment of the sheriff to address this problem," said Galindo.

Other items on the agenda for Monday's commissioner's court meeting include:

* Appoint commissioner David Castillo to County Industrial Commission.

* Award bids for CEA pick-up truck.

* Award bids for RCDC Time-Keeper System.

* Bond and oath for Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies (assigned to drug task force).

* Reports from various departments.

* Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

* Discuss/act on Sheriff's Department/RCDC tortilla bid.

* Personnel and salary changes (Reeves County Drug Task Force, RCDC, county clerk, sheriff's office).

* Minutes from previous meetings.

* Semi-monthly bills.

Spread on minutes: Notice of over-axle over-gross weight permits.


Ruth Farrar Hudgens

Ruth Farrar Hudgens, 83, of Odessa, died Thursday, Feb. 18, 1999, in Odessa Medical Center Hospital after a short illness. Services will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Frank W. Wilson Funeral Directors, with graveside services to follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

She was born June 7, 1915, in Van Zandt County; was a homemaker and a Methodist.

Survivors include one son, Doyle Hudgens of Borger; four daughters, Uldene Davis of Odessa, Martralle Morton of Jacksonville, Glenda Fountain of Langdon, Kan., and Tawana Williams of Odessa; one sister, Billie Jean Renefro; one brother, Paul Farrar; 15 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.


PECOS, Feb. 19, 1999 - High Thursday 77; low last night 32. Tonight, clear. Low in the upper 30s. Southwest wind 10-15 mph, shifting to the northwest after midnight. Saturday, mostly sunny. High around 70. North to northeast wind 10-15 mph.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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