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Wednesday, July 28, 1999

School OKs student, worker insurance plans


By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, July 28, 1999 -- Health insurance for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school employees will cost a little bit more next year, but at the same time a new policy will allow all students in the district to be covered.

Decisions on the two plans came at a special P-B-T ISD board meeting held Tuesday evening.

"We didn't have a real good year last year and now it will cost a little bit more," said P-B-T ISD superintendent Don Love.

Love told board members that the group had met with their insurance advisers who recommended that the insurance go up a little. They also said the co-pay on prescription cards should go up as well.

"We don't want to raise the insurance too high, because we'll run them off," said Love. "They'll be looking at insurance elsewhere."

He said the district had to come up with $1.3 million to fully fund the insurance policy.

"The insurance will be fully funded by the school district and employees," Love said, after telling board members there were three case scenarios and the board could choose one them.

"It's our insurance we can do whatever we want, but these are the recommendations," he said.

"One point we need to make, is in the past when we had an employee and their spouse employed, they could put it together and have the children on there, but it wasn't fair to the single parent," said board member Brent Shaw. "It was costing the couple far less than that of a single person with children."

Now, the husband is the employee and the spouse is an employee and the children will have to be on one or the other's insurance card.

"It's been that other way for years and it had never been pointed out that it's wrong until last week," said Cookie Canon.

The prescription card co-pay raise was also called a cost-saving measure. It will go up from $5 for generic and $10 for name brand drugs to $10 for generic and $20 for name brand. "This will save the district $47,230," said Love.

"In my own heart, I'd like to see it stay that way for another year, but it wasn't recommended," said Love.

The student insurance bid was also approved with a plan that will provide insurance for all children attending schools in the district.

"We had GM-Southwest last year and we were very pleased with them," said Love. However, he recommended that board members go with American National, which offered an even better deal.

"Every student in our district will be covered under this plan," said Love.

We gave as an example that under the new plan, if a student at Bessie Haynes Elementary School falls and breaks his arm, it would cover the child if they didn't have insurance. "If they have insurance, this will be a secondary one for them," Love said.

He added it will also cover the kids involved in high school rodeo events.

"This is the only policy that will cover all the students," he said.

"This will be school coverage, it won't cost them anything to be covered at school for $22,210," said Love.

In other business, the schedule for setting the tax rate was approved at the special meeting. Dates included certification of anticipated collection rate by collector, July 27; calculation of rollback tax rate, Aug. 3; 72-hours notice for meeting (Open Meetings Notice), Aug. 9; meeting of governing body to decide on public meeting on budget and proposed tax rate, Aug. 12; "Notice of Public meeting to discuss budget and proposed tax rate" published 10 to 13 days before public meeting will be Sept. 1; 72-hour notice for public meeting (Open Meetings Notice), Sept. 10; Public meeting on budget and proposed tax rate, Sept. 13; 72-hour notice for meeting at which governing body will adopt tax rate, Sept. 10 and meeting to adopt tax rate. School districts subject to an equalized wealth notice must wait to adopt a tax rate until the commissioner of education certifies the wealth is equalized (Education Code Section 41.004(c), was set for Sept. 13.

New hires for the school district include:

* Michelle Acosta, Bachelor Arts/Spanish/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment, Bessie Haynes Elementary School fourth grade bilingual teacher;

* Tommy Dominguez, Bachelor of Science/Elementary Education/Sul Ross State University, 11 years experience, assignment, Zavala Middle School reading teacher;

* Keatha Falls, Masters of Education/Elementary Education/Indiana University, 14 years experience, assignment, Bessie Haynes Elementary School fifth grade bilingual teacher;

* Melinda Flores, Bachelor of Science/Kinesiology/Sul Ross State University, no experience, assignment, Zavala Middle School Physical Education Teacher/coach;

* Karen Oglesby, Bachelor's Journalism/University of Missouri, one year experience, assignment, Lamar Middle School Special Education teacher;

* Jesus Prieto, Bachelor of Arts/Spanish/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment, Lamar Middle School ESL teacher;

* Carolyn Rankin, Bachelor of Science/Math/Wayland College, 39 years experience, assignment, part-time math teacher, Pecos High School;

* Lesley Sims, Bachelor Degree/Special Education/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment, District Special Education teacher.

Reassignments were Catherine Allen from Pecos Elementary School third grade special education teacher to Pecos Elementary regular third grade teacher; John Barrett, from district special education teacher to Pecos Elementary School special education inclusion teacher; Amy Lechuga, from Bessie Haynes Elementary School fifth grade teacher to Bessie Haynes Elementary School fourth grade teacher and Jaime Paniagua, from Alternative Education Program teacher to Zavala Middle School math teacher.

WIPP route takes surprising turn

By JON FULBRIGHT
Staff Writer
PECOS, July 28, 1999 -- After years of training, Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Armando Gil doesn't see any big problems with trucks passing through Pecos on their way to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Eddy County, N.M.

But apparently somebody with the Department of Energy does. And city officials and residents in Seminole definitely have a problem with it.

In a surprising move, representatives for the DOE informed the Texas Department of Health and area officials they were considering changing the route on which trucks carrying low level radioactive waste from five eastern sites will make their way to the WIPP plant.

The original plan had trucks from the sites traveling along Interstate 20 from the Mississippi River to Pecos, where they would exit and travel north on U.S. 285 to the site, 15 miles east of Loving, N.M.

Under the new plan, the trucks would exit the interstate 140 miles to the east in Big Spring and travel north on U.S. 87 to Lamesa, where they would turn west and continue along U.S. 180 to the WIPP site.

"They're just in the thinking process, there's not anything definite," Gil said this morning. "If there would be any changes it would be nine months to one year."

WIPP shipments from the first of five western sites just began earlier this year. No shipments have been sent from the eastern locations, but Gil said he expected "one or two" will come through within the next year.

While the prospect of WIPP trucks passing through town has never generated much concern locally, residents at a meeting in Seminole last week were solidly against the re-routing plan.

"We're not too pleased with the DOE and the DPS emergency management people are not too hot on it," said Seminole City Manager Tony Phillips, who was scheduled to meet with DOE officials in Austin today.

"We didn't know about it until last week. Then they sprung it on us," said Phillips.

Gaines County is one of the state's largest agricultural producers, and Phillips said slow-moving farm equipment is often seen on the U.S. 180, which is two lanes between Lamesa and Seminole and four lanes from Seminole west to the WIPP site.

"They've got a lot of slow moving traffic through there that would be a problem for them," Gil said. "Down here on the highway (U.S. 285 north) you've got no slow moving traffic."

DOE officials have said the alternate route would be shorter than coming through Pecos, and would save on fuel costs. But Phillips said, "If they're concerned about the shortest route, they should take (State Highway 176) from Big Spring over to Eunice, and from there to WIPP. That's if they truly wanted the shortest route with not the same population density, that would be the best route there."

The route would be all on state-maintained roads in Texas and New Mexico, instead of U.S. highways. It would pass through Andrews and then past sites in western Andrews County were two companies Waste Control Specialists and Envirocare of Texas had been seeking to build privately owned low-level radioactive waste dumps.

Aside from the shorter route, Gil said, "I understand one main complaint is about the exit at U.S. 285," when the trucks leave I-20 coming into Pecos. The exit ramp coming off the interstate next to the closed Kerr-MeGee gas station, which has a sharp turn just before the stop sign at U.S. 285.

"Whether the DOE decides to take the shorter route will be up to them," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo, who added, "I think they keep the public health and welfare of the residents in mind first."

Seminole residents were also concerned about the contents of the waste containers, but Gil said, "It's low level radioactive waste, which is not anything for major concern."

Opposition in Seminole to the waste shipments, which would include protective clothing, shoes, tools, equipment, soil and other items with low levels of radioactivity, even drew a rebuke on the editorial page of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal this week. The editorial backed the change, saying contamination would be very limited even if a major accident occurred.

Phillips said DOE is not making any money available to the Seminole area for either emergency equipment or highway improvements. "We would have to buy equipment to handle any incident that would occur, and it would paralyze a two-mile area if anything does happen."

"I've been involved in this for five or six years, and I know they're taking all the precautions they can," said Gil, who has been involved, along with other local emergency management personnel, in drills to simulate what to do if an accident occurs.

"The only think you need is training. You don't need to buy specialized equipment," he said.

"The main thing is about the ability to respond to an emergency situation," said Galindo. "I think the WIPP site emergency management officials should look first at responding to an emergency situation."

`Walk' prizes are awarded to top teams


By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, July 28, 1999 -- The "Walk Across Texas" Fun and Fitness program proved to be a lot of fun for the teams who entered, according to Better Living for Texans Program Assistant Diane Crawford.

The program kickoff was held May 3 at the Reeves County Extension Office and ended July 3. The event was co-sponsored by the Reeves County Extension Office and the Better Living for Texans Program.

Walk Across Texas is an eight-week walking program for teams of eight people. The teams have a friendly competition to see who can log the most miles walked, jogged or biked. Those miles are then recorded on a Texas map posted in the extension office and other places around the community.'

The team who walks farthest "across Texas" wins, but everyone who participates takes home a healthy habit, walking for fitness, according to Crawford.

Teams keep track of the miles you walk, and report the weekly total to the team captain. The team captain then adds up all the members' miles for the week and reports the team total to the county extension office.

Teams participating included the The Texas Toothpicks, The Cock-A-Doodle Do's, The Don't Wanna's, Queens of the Remote Control and The Tingo Lingos.

Some individuals participated that were not in teams, and were also eligible for door prizes and drawings.

Teams of eight were walking for fun and fitness with the starting point being El Paso and destination being Paris. "This would be approximately 719 miles, which would be approximately 31¬ inches on our Texas map," said Crawford.

All teams did great, according to Crawford.

Winners of the contest were The Texas Toothpicks, representing Anchor West.

Team Captain was Alfredo Bersosa. Team members included Karen Bernicke, Timothy Bernicke, representing Wal-Mart, Shane Sharman, Edward Tercero, Alfredo Tellez, Joel Galang and Ivar Brandt.

"All teams worked hard toward their destination," said Crawford.

The Texas Toothpicks were first to reach their destination and actually surpassed their goal and walked, jogged, or biked 762.4 miles.

A celebration and awards activity was held last Saturday at the meeting room at the extension office.

A total of 1,738 miles were walked, jogged, or biked according to records turned in by the captains.

"25,000 miles is around the world once, and will perhaps be our goal next year," said Crawford. "Hope to have more teams and individuals participate in this worthwhile program in the future," she said.

"The Texas Agricultural Extension Service and Better Living for Texans would like to thank all the businesses and individuals for their generous gifts and donations," said Crawford.

Some of the gifts were T-shirts, water coolers, walk-mans, videos, movie rentals, pizzas, haircuts, gift certificates and many other items.

Brunch was served to all the participants on Saturday.
 

Lotto


AUSTIN, July 28, 1999 (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night:

Winning numbers drawn: 2-10-11-32-35. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $80,030. Winning ticket sold in: Amarillo. Matching four of five: 207. Prize: $579.

***

AUSTIN, July 28, 1999 (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order:

9-1-4 (nine, one, four)

Obituary

Virgil J. Zeman

PECOS, July 28, 1999 -- Virgil J. Zeman, 94, of Pecos, died Monday, July 26, 1999, at his residence.

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m., Thursday, July 29, at First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Joseph Field Jr. of Monahans officiating. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery.

He was born July 8, 1905, in Jackson County, Wisconsin, was a World War II Navy veteran, a retired farmer, and a lifelong Pecos resident.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Kate Zeman of Pecos; one son, Alan R. Zeman of Pecos; one sister, Blanche Cook of Abilene; one niece and one grandchild.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
 

Weather


High Tuesday 98. Low this morning 72. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low around 70. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Thursday, partly cloudy. High in the mid 90s. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Extended forecast, Thursday night, mostly clear. Low around 70. Friday through Sunday, partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows around 70. Highs in the 90s.



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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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