Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, August 17, 1999
School starts smoothly, but numbers down
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Aug. 17, 1999 -- Things went smoothly on the first day of school
at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD campuses.
"The kids were very positive and everybody cooperated beautifully,"
said Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said there was only one complaint involving some of the older
boys. "We had some that had a beard and those students were just sent home
to shave," said Rodriguez.
The new dress code was followed by almost all the students, and the
few who didn't quite comply with the new dress code were sent home to change,
according to Rodriguez.
"Everybody was very helpful and nothing major happened," said Rodriguez.
He added that some students probably didn't get counted because their
enrollment cards were not properly filled out or signed by a parent or
"If something wasn't right it was just the schedules weren't picked
up or lockers not assigned," said Rodriguez. "That kept our staff busy,
but other than that things went very smoothly."
The first few days of school, staff members work with the students in
establishing rules and what is expected of them. "But they were very reasonable
and we will continue to work with them," he said.
With the new rules set that the government and state implemented, things
are a little bit different. "The whole issue is safety and that is our
main concern," said Rodriguez.
The school officer Hilda Woods, was also on hand to help smooth things
over. "She is very good at what she does and we're just thrilled to have
her here," said Rodriguez.
"Our numbers were down a bit this year, but some probably didn't get
counted and we hope the numbers go up," said Rodriguez.
Pecos High School reported 725 students counted on the first day of
"This number usually goes up after Labor Day," said P-B-T ISD Superintendent
Two-thirds of funding for the district comes from daily attendance,
according to Love.
The preliminary budget was set for 2,700 students. "That's 179 kids
down from this time last year," said Love.
"Last year we set it at 2,850 and the first day had 2,829," said Love.
"If we continue that trend, things will be great," he said.
The number, however, went up after Labor Day. "So that's what we're
hoping for, is that number will go up after Labor Day," he said.
Love said attendance is very important and encourages students to return
"Things went very well on the first day, I spoke to the principals and
no problems were reported," said Love.
"We had a pretty good start," he said.
Camera to help police put heat on fugitives
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, Aug. 17, 1999 -- Prison escapees can no longer avoid detection
by hiding under a mesquite bush, said Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney.
That's because McKinney obtained a thermal imaging camera that will
detect body heat and display the image in camera and on a television screen.
"It can find people hiding in closets, hidden compartments in vehicles
and even skid marks on gravel," said McKinney.
The device won't penetrate a wall or glass, so people are still safe
in their homes, but a prison escapee hidden in the bushes or inside a building
"We can locate them way before they can see us," said Lt. Kelly Davis,
who with McKinney went to Scottsdale, Ariz. for eight hours training in
the camera's use.
McKinney said the training was included in the grant provided by the
President's Drug Control Policy that paid for the $20,000 Raytheon Nightsight
He said the camera will be valuable in searches for small children who
become lost or an older person who wanders off. The camera will detect
heat from 2,400 yards.
"We can use it in the air," said McKinney, who is a licensed pilot.
Not only can the camera detect people, it can locate a weapon discarded
by a suspect, Davis said.
"They can throw a gun down in the dark, and you can find it from the
heat that's still on it," he said.
Suspects who flee from police can easily be located with the camera,
"We will help other agencies. Not many people have the equipment we
have gotten through grants," he said.
McKinney said the camera will allow law enforcement agencies to continue
searching for an escapee or lost person after dark.
"In the past, when nightfall came on a search or fugitive, law enforcement
called it off until daylight. This will probably expand our capabilities,"
Use of night vision goggles to intensify light is not nearly as effective
as the thermal imaging camera, Davis said.
Since it detects heat, the thermal imaging camera will also function
in daylight, but is not as effective as nighttime operations, he said.
McKinney demonstrated the camera's heat-seeking ability by standing
in a darkened room with the door open. The camera showed a grayscale image
of his entire body.
When McKinney closed the door, his feet were visible through the camera
lens because heat escaped through the crack underneath the door.
Davis said the camera will be useful for forensic purposes, and he welcomes
its addition to the police department's crime-fighting weapons and laboratory.
Lost driver found at Christian Home
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, Aug. 17, 1999 -- Pecos County Sheriff Bruce Wilson and his deputies
spent all day Sunday riding around on horseback looking for a man who was
taking his ease in Pecos at the Christian Home.
Larry Smith of Bakersfield, Calif., became disoriented while driving
on Interstate 10 from Corpus Christi to California, said Sheriff Wilson.
He got off I-10 sometime Wednesday and was unable to find his way back.
The more he drove the more lost he became.
"Finally, he got to running through fences and mesquite trees until
he got the pickup disabled," Wilson said.
A rancher who leases land owned by the city of Fort Stockton found the
abandoned truck late Saturday about 20 miles south of Pecos, halfway between
I-10 and U.S. Highway 285, and notified the sheriff's office, Wilson said.
"We stayed on horseback all day Sunday looking for him, and it was hot,"
Bruce Dury, director of the Christian Home, said that Smith spent Saturday
night there, and two of his staff took him back to Pecos County Sunday
to look for his truck.
They were stopped and questioned by Texas Rangers who were helping with
the search, Dury said. Smith claimed he had been drugged by two associates
who had also stolen his truck and his money.
Wilson said that Smith told him that same story, but later admitted
he was alone and had taken amphetamines to help him stay awake for the
long drive to California.
"He got to hallucinating," Wilson said.
Smith paid all the damages to the ranchers, and was released to continue
his trip, Wilson said.
Two schools in P-B-T get high ratings
From Staff and Wire Reports
State officials — including Gov. George W. Bush — are praising Texas
schools for their progress, even though the state's latest report card
on campuses and districts shows missteps along with the gains.
"The gains this year are particularly impressive because they come as
schools are being asked to meet an even higher standard and include the
scores of students who had previously been exempt," said Bush, the Republican
presidential frontrunner, after the state's school accountability rankings
were released Monday.
"I will continue to insist on high standards and high expectations for
every child because no child should be left behind," he said.
More Texas school districts and campuses got the state's highest ratings,
more did badly and two districts were singled out for a special, low rating
because of serious errors in dropout reporting this year.
Two schools from the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD received a "recognized"
rating from the state, the second-highest rating given by the TEA.
Lamar Middle School and Bessie Haynes Elementary School both received
"recognized" ratings, while the other schools in the district were rated,
"We were thrilled to learn that at least two of our schools were rated
this high," said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love.
"It's outstanding and we're on the right track," said Love. "All of
our schools are doing just great," he said.
Balmorhea schools were also ranked as acceptable overall, according
to the TEA, while for other schools in the area, Monahans-Wickett-Pyote
received the best overall district rating, of recognized, with Monahans
High School and three elementary schools earning that honor, and a fourth
getting the exemplayry rating.
All three elementary capuses in the Fort Stockton ISD were recognized,
while its intermediate, middle school and high school were rated acceptable.
Meanwhile, Andrews ISD had the most varied results. Two of it's five elemetary
campuses were recognized and a third was rated exemplary, but Andrews High
School was rated low performing by the TEA, one of 109 schools in Texas
to be cited for below average results.
Education Commissioner Mike Moses said there is reason to celebrate
students' success on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, a key part
of the school rating system.
At the same time, Moses was concerned about some schools' data reporting
and disappointed about an increase in the number of special education students
exempted from the TAAS.
This was the first year TAAS scores of special education students and
third- and fourth-grade Spanish TAAS scores were included in school ratings.
Some schools previously tested special-education students who could have
been exempted to see where the pupils stood academically, but stopped doing
so, Moses said.
School district and campus ratings are based on student passing rates
on the TAAS, dropout rates and attendance.
The state looks not only at overall student test performance and dropout
data, but at figures for specific student categories: black, white, Hispanic
and economically disadvantaged.
This year, 1,110 campuses and 121 school districts got the state's highest
rating of exemplary. That's up from 1,048 campuses and 120 districts last
year. More schools also got the second-highest rating of recognized.
But more campuses and districts also got low ratings. A total of 106
campuses were low-performing and nine districts were academically unacceptable.
Two other school districts — Austin and West Texas' Ysleta — got a new,
low ranking Moses created to reflect significant mistakes in reporting
of students who leave school. Officials with both districts said they were
addressing the problems.
The move came after a 1996 state audit said weak TEA oversight resulted
in a reported Texas dropout rate that was less than half the actual rate.
In the audit's wake, the agency began collecting a "leaver record" to get
more precise data on what happens to pupils who depart in grades seven
The new rating for school districts with serious errors in such data
is "unacceptable: data quality."
TEA is conducting additional investigations into 14 other school districts
because of a high number or percentage of students who weren't accounted
for after leaving the public schools, officials said.
Those districts are Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston, Arlington, Clear Creek,
Waco, North Forest, Pearland, Channelview, Sheldon, Kingsville, Midway
(McLennan County) Springtown and Manor.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, said accurate
identification of dropouts is an area that needs more attention. He said
his committee will look into the issue to ensure students who need extra
help are identified.
The Texas Education Agency is listing school data on its Web site at
California man sentenced in meth case
U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson on Monday sentenced Jerardo Perez, 20,
of Lynwood, Calif. to 70 months in prison for possession of methamphetamine.
Although Perez was convicted in the Pecos Division, Judge Furgeson pronounced
sentence in Midland.
He ordered Perez to attend a 500-hour drug abuse program while in prison.
In another Pecos case, Judge Furgeson accepted a plea of guilty to marijuana
possession from Jesus Gonzalez-Montanez, 47, of Midland.
Gonzalez admitted possessing 124.8 pounds of marijuana with intent to
distribute. He will be sentenced in Pecos Oct. 12.
AUSTIN (AP) — Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 2-4-19-22-27. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner:
$39,887. Winning tickets sold in: East Bernard, San Antonio. Matching four
of five: 251. Prize: $476.
AUSTIN (AP) — The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery,
in order: 3-2-5 (three, two, five)
High Monday 103; low last night 69. Tonight, fair. Low in the lower 70s.
Southeast wind 5-10 mph. Wednesday, mostly sunny. High in the upper 90s.
Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Extended forecast, Wednesday night, mostly clear.
Low near 70. Thursday through Saturday, mostly sunny days and fair nights.
lows near 70. Highs in the upper 90s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, 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 1999 by Pecos Enterprise