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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

February 23, 1999

OC considering White's building as classroom site

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb 23 -- Odessa College's extension campus in Pecos is a "done deal" if the Pecos Economic Development Corporation can provide the space and community support, the PEDC board learned Monday.

"Two deans were here Tuesday, and we showed them the White's building," said Oscar Saenz, chairman. "They loved it..."

The building, located in the 900 block of South Eddy Street, is big enough for 9-10 classrooms with room left over for technology, he said.

"They want to get started. They want to start classes in the fall. It's just a matter of working out who is going to pay what," he said.

OC has plans to get federal funding for training courses, including a new federal grant for Hispanic continuing education.

PEDC president Gari Ward said that OC will send two maintenance people to go through the building.

"They are very committed to coming here if we can work out the financial detail," Saenz said.

"We have no choice," said Mike Burkholder. "We have to do it if it is within the realm of possibility. That ought to be a priority. If there's anything we need, it is to re-train these people that have been put out of a job."

Frank Spencer said that the board should try to get something in writing from the White's building owner that he will transfer it to the college.

Ward said the owner is willing to "see what we can negotiate to accommodate everybody's needs."

Local support for ongoing maintenance of the college may have to come through a local tax, Saenz said.

"The community is expected to participate; pay their way," he said. "I thought it was just a matter of them being nice to us and coming over here. There are things the community has to provide."

He handed out a report on branch campus financing that lists various options.

Spencer suggested that representatives of Odessa College explain the options to the board and to key community leaders in a retreat the board hopes to organize in the next meeting.

Another prospective employer told the board he would need a building with at least 8,000 square feet of space rent-free for three years, plus about $50,000 in interest paid on a $300,000 loan to purchase equipment.

Jerry Redfearn, who operates a barbecue and chili sauce factory near his country home at Whitehouse, said he chose Pecos as the best place to expand because of the high unemployment rate.

He said he would employ 90 people in the beginning, with the hope of expanding to 700-800 employees. After the first three years, he would build his own building on land he expects PEDC to donate.

The board discussed several possible locations for the factory and how the availability of free onions and tomatoes could be a big plus.

Saenz said his frozen onion ring operation discards good onions that are the wrong size or blemished.

Spencer said the tomato greenhouses at Fort Davis and Marfa do the same.

"A tomato that's flat on one side won't sell in the store, but after Jerry cuts it up, you can't tell the difference," he said.

Redfearn said he will keep his East Texas factory because a good customer, Brookshire's Food Store, has a distribution center only six miles away. But he plans to open another factory in California because of the high cost to ship products, he said.

June 1 is his target date for opening the Pecos plant because several large chains want the product, Redfearn said.

"I have had to turn Publix down and stop delivery to H.E.B. because I don't have the space," he said.

Spencer said the project can be financed with a grant from the Texas Capital Fund, which the city of Pecos can apply for.

The board adopted a 1999 budget calling for expenditures of $147,572. That includes $50,000 salary for Ward and $18,000 for an administrative assistant.

Reeves County had agreed to fund $20,000 of the expenses, but have refused to advance the last $8,000 of that until the board and key community leaders complete the Industrial Team Training Program, Ward said.

The nine-week program is more than busy people are willing to commit to, said board member Pauline Moore. It was suggested that the course workbooks be handed out in advance of the retreat and class time be incorporated into the program - along with a free barbecue dinner.

Saenz and Ward are to talk with Town of Pecos City Manager Kenneth Neal and finance director Steve McCormick about handling accounting chores for the corporation. Burkholder said he would approach the county judge about financing.

No action was taken following an executive session to discuss personnel.

Castillo selected to serve on Industrial Commission

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb 23 -- One of the newest Reeves County Commissioners was appointed to serve on the County Industrial Commission, a decision approved at Monday morning's regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

David Castillo will serve on the seven member board following Monday's decision. Castillo said that he is already involved in business and as a business owner would like to see more industry in Pecos. "That's something I'm all for and will work hard for," he said.

"I welcome the opportunity to help the local economy," added Castillo, who operates La Nortena Tortilla Factory and was elected to his first term as Precinct 2 commissioner in November, along with new Precinct 4 representative Gilberto `Hivi' Rayos.

In other action, a bid for a pickup truck for the county extension agent was awarded to the lowest bidder, Colt Chevrolet of Pecos. Other bids came from Sewell Ford and Sun Chrysler of Odessa.

New hires included two people at the Reeves County Detention Center Martin Reyes as a correctional officer I at an annual salary of $19,000 and Shonah K. Lozano, as a EMT/LVN at a salary of $19,000 per year.

At the Reeves County Sheriff's Department, Christina Winfrey was named administrative assistant, $18,000 annually, she is replacing Rosalina Alvarado; Gloria Reyes will step in the vacancy left by Winfrey as records clerk, at $14,000; Carriz Carrasco, will be the receptionist at $10,920; Thomas Lee Acosta, deputy sheriff at $20,500 and Michael Lara will be a liaison officer with the sheriff's department and the Reeves County Detention Center at $21,000 annually.

Debbie M. Lopez will be a deputy county clerk at $13,000 per year and Kelvin Rodriguez will be a part-time employee in the county clerk's office at $6 per hour.

Other items that were approved during the regular meeting included minutes from previous meetings, reports from various departments and semi-monthly bills.

New group pushes railroads to improve signals

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Feb 23 -- Vicky Moore believes that lights and gates could have meant the difference between life and death for her son Ryan.

But those safety signals were not in place at the railroad crossing in Ohio where Ryan Moore was killed by an oncoming train while in a car four years ago, said his mother.

"Had there been gates and lights there that day, I fully believe the accident wouldn't have happened," she said.

According to a study released Monday, more than 80 percent of the nation's railroad crossings _ about 130,000 _ lack such signals to warn pedestrians and motorists of trains. Rail crossings were the sites of more than 500 deaths and 1,800 injuries in 1998, says the report by RailWatch, a Texas-based coalition of 300 local officials from across the country.

While there haven't been any vehicle-train fatalities in the Pecos area in recent years, 16 cars of an eastbound Union Pacific train derailed on the outskirts of Pecos Dec. 9, 1998. No one was hurt, and fertilizer that leaked from one ruptured tank car was cleaned up, reported Armando Gil, health department inspector.

In October, four cars derailed near Toyah, again with no injuries. while in 1997, two pickups were involved in collisions with Union Pacific trains at non-signaled crossings in Pecos, with both drivers escaping without serious injuries.

Union Pacific sought in the early 1990s to close its non-signaled crossings at Locust, Willow, Alamo and Albert streets in Pecos, but was turned down by the Town of Pecos City Council. Only two crossings within the city limits, at Cedar and Elm streets, have signal lights and crossing guards.

"Unfortunately, the shameful safety record of our nation's railroads is nothing new," said Sherry Kiesling Fox, executive director of RailWatch. "And what we've uncovered in this report is only the tip of the iceberg.

"It's clear that the railroads will only make safety a priority if we make them. We think it's time for Congress to do just that, starting with a full investigation into the safety problems and safety practices of the railroads," Fox said.

The group called for a congressional investigation into rail safety, saying that federal and state regulators fail to effectively oversee the rail system and railroad companies do not take enough action to prevent accidents.

According to the report, one-third of all states experienced more rail-related fatalities in 1998 than six years earlier. During the first eight months of 1997, one of the nation's major rail carriers, Union Pacific, had six serious train collisions resulting in five crew fatalities.

The transportation of hazardous materials, a growing component of the railroads' business, presents another set of problems. Every two weeks, a train carrying hazardous materials runs off the tracks, spills some of its load and forces an evacuation, the study says. Railroads frequently transport dangerous cargo, ranging from poisons to pesticides, through densely populated urban areas.

Steve Moss, author of the report, said local officials are sometimes unaware of what trains are transporting through their towns and cities.

"There's a remarkable amount of ignorance about exactly what's being carried, and a lot of it is being carried," Moss said.

The study points to cutbacks in the staffs that operate, maintain and inspect railroads as a serious problem. These reductions have come as rail traffic has increased by 40 percent since 1990 and as trains have been forced on to fewer miles of tracks, causing more congestion and wear on the railways.

Railroads also rely heavily on outdated technology, from as far back as the 1930s, said the study, which added that current available technology could forestall a large number of rail accidents. For example, safety mechanisms such as proximity warning devices could automatically warn and stop trains in impending collisions. Another control system would force brakes to be applied if a train exceeded a certain speed.

While such technology exists, the report claims that the railroads have failed to make the investments to upgrade their systems.

The report was authored by the San-Francisco consulting firm M.Cubed. It primarily focused on the four largest rail companies: Burlington Northern & Santa Fe, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

More railroad safety information is available on-line at the RailWatch web site, www.railwatch.org.

Barstow trio file to retain council seats

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb 23 -- All incumbents in the Barstow City Council have filed for the May 1 elections to retain their positions.

The positions open in Barstow are for a full two-year terms and the three incumbents Olga Abila, Lucio Florez and Dora Villanueva have filed to retain their positions.

City, school and hospital district elections will be held on May 1, in Pecos, Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea, and several other individuals have already thrown their hat in the ring.

Johnny Terrazas has filed to retain his seat on the city council, while Marcella Lovett has announced her plans to run in the hospital district elections.

In Pecos this year, voters will select three city councilmen for two-year terms.

Councilmen whose terms expire are Gerald Tellez Jr., Johnny Terrazas and Randy Graham.

Lovett is currently serving on the board. Reeves County Hospital District's board president, Jeannette Alligood's Precinct 4 term expires, as does that of Lovett in Precinct 2.

Billie Sadler has filed as a prospective candidate in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board elections.

In the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, trustees Daisy Roquemore and Alberto Alvarez have three-year terms expiring.

Prospective candidates may pick up forms for the city election from Geneva Martinez, city secretary, at City Hall; from secretary Jo Allgood at the school administration office; and from administrative assistant Nadine Smith at Reeves County Hospital.

March 17 is the last day to file for the election, which will be May 1.

Debbie Thomas, elections administrator, will handle early voting for all three entities.

Rodriguez plans March 8 return to work

PECOS, Feb 23 -- Pecos High School principal Danny Rodriguez hopes to be back on his job early next month, after recovering from a heart attack he suffered on Jan. 29.

"I hope to be back on March 8," Rodriguez said. "The doctor is going to give me a stress test before that and if I pass then I can go back."

Rodriguez was taken to Reeves County Hospital and then to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa after his heart attack, and underwent angioplasty surgery in Odessa.

"I tell you, it's a scary thing. You look at life a different way after something like that," said Rodriguez, who has served as PHS principal since the Fall of 1997.

Both he and his wife Lisa said they wanted to thank those who expressed concern during his illness, and singled out Dr. Orville Cerna and the emergency room staff at Reeves County Hospital.

"We appreciate all the calls, the flowers and most especially all the prayers," Rodriguez said.

Assistant principal Victor Tarin and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah assistant superintendent Gome Olibas have been handling Rodriguez' duties during his absence.

Schools studying potential Y2K problems

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb 23 -- The Y2K problem and a long-term technology plan were both discussed at last week's regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting.

Technology coordinator for the district Jodi Exum told board members that the Y2K problem is already being looked at and a committee has been formed.

Older computers P-B-T is operating may not recognize the year correctly after Dec. 31, 1999, which could create problems.

"We'll be looking at all the systems in the district that are at risk," said Exum, who added that in talking to other individuals about the problem that there is, "no single solution."

"It's a problem where nobody really knows what to predict," said Exum. "But we are getting prepared for it, and gathering new information."

"We have identified as many systems that could possibly be at risk or be checked and have assigned different people to be responsible for the different systems," she said.

The business office and tax office for the district are top priorities.

"We're still doing assessments on what we have to upgrade or replace and will start testing in July and see how our system will respond," Exum said.

An update will be given at all regular board meetings, according to Exum.

She also told the group that the long-range technology plan set up by the district will continue.

"This has been a very good year for us and we plan to continue our technology plan," said Exum.

The long-range plan has been scheduled for 1998-2003, to meet and surpass the challenges of the future, P-B-T ISD is committed to providing a comprehensive and innovative technological education, in a way that collaborative resources are effectively utilized; so that its students, staff, and community will be competent, productive and prosperous, according to Exum.

All schools in the district will eventually be upgraded technologically and have Internet access, according to Exum.

In other action at last Thursday's meeting, resignations from the school district include Jason Johnson, a fifth grade bilingual teacher at Bessie Haynes Elementary School; Deneisa McNeese, counselor for Pecos Elementary/Lamar Middle School; Gabriel Pena, math teacher at Crockett Middle School and Richard Steed, special education teacher at Lamar Middle School.

Fireworks fired off

Fireworks, which lit the sky and could be heard all over Pecos Monday evening, were part of a small demonstration sponsored by Richard Creasy (right) and Alan Zeman, was held on the grounds of the Reeves County Civic Center, to show the community what a fireworks display could look like during the Fourth of July celebrations scheduled in Pecos. A giant fireworks display would need the help of the entire community to both fund it and sponsor it during the rodeo events, those at Monday's demonstration were told. The Pecos Chamber of Commerce is planning to help with the project, but more support is needed from businesses, organizations and the entire community to possibly make it an annual event to encourage tourism and attract more visitors to Pecos and the rodeo.

Churches host meeting tonight on Y2K problem

PECOS, Feb 23 -- Pecos Ministerial Fellowship wants to get the facts on how a computer glitch caused by use of a two-digit year in programming will affect the quality of life when the calendar rolls over to 2000, and will hold a meeting on the subject tonight at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Rev. Bruce Abbott, pastor of First United Methodist Church, said the ministers have invited representatives from all local utilities, financial institutions and agencies that serve the community to participate in a panel discussion of Y2K problems and their solutions.

The public is invited to attend the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.

Obituaries

Wilma Buchanan

Wilma Buchanan, 83, died Sunday, Feb. 21, 1999 at the Pecos Nursing Home.

Services will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Greer Willis officiating. Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, in City Cemetery in Mineral Wells.

She was born Feb. 20, 1916, in Graford, Palo Pinto County, and grew up in Weatherford. She graduated from Texas Women's University with B.A. and M.A. degrees. She obtained special certification in teaching children with learning disorders from Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas and spent five years as Reading Consultant for American Schools in France. Upon return to the states, she was special reading teacher at Crockett Middle School in Pecos. Buchanan was a life-long advocate for adults as well as children learning to read.

Survivors include one sister, May Jarine Bush of Pecos; two nieces; two great-nieces and three great-nephews.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Wesley "Creamy" McCree

Wesley S. "Creamy" McCree, 88, died Monday, Feb. 22, 1999, at the Reeves County Hospital.

Services are scheduled for 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Bruce Abbott officiating. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery.

He was born Aug. 31, 1910 in Artesia, N.M., was a retired funeral director and a Methodist.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth McCree of Pecos; one daughter, Nancy Sue McCree Leavitt of Elephant Butte, N.M.; one son, Wesley Hershel McCree of Dallas; one sister, Cathryn Ellsaesseur of Hugoton, Kan.; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, Feb 23 -- High Monday 80; low last night 30. Tonight, clear. Lows in the lower 30s. South winds 5-15 mph. Wednesday, sunny and warmer. Highs in the mid 70s. South winds 10-20 mph.



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