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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Top Stories

Friday, September 3, 1999

P-B-T will abide by pre-game prayer ban

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 3, 1999 -- A moment of silence may be the alternate to a prayer before each home football game, after a decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in February.

"Hopefully, before the first home ball game, we'll have everything in order so that we can go ahead with a moment of silence," said Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Don Love, who said he had spoken to the school's attorney and has asked him to draft a statement that can be read over the loudspeaker and fit within the guidelines of the 5th Circuit's ruling on a case involving a southeast Texas high school.

"It's against the law for the school system and government agencies to get involved in that (prayers)," said Love. "This is a federal law."

School prayer at football games is a very hot issue, since the law was adopted, according to Love.

"The advice of the school attorney is to refrain from including public prayer in the opening ceremonies of football games this fall or any other sporting events," said Love.

In a letter to school districts, lawyers with the Texas Association of School Boards warned that schools ignoring the court's ruling are taking serious risks. Anyone challenging the school could sue for a monetary settlement from the school, including court costs and attorney's fees.

Individual trustees and district employees also could be sued.

Instead of prayer over a loudspeaker, the association of school boards suggested that students pray on their own, by themselves or in groups. School district employees, the association added, should not participate.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the suit against Santa Fe ISD concerning prayer at football games, according to Love. The suit came in response to complaints from Muslim and Mormon parents of two students at the district's high school.

In Doe vs. Santa Fe Independent School District of Texas, the court ruled that reciting a prayer over the loudspeaker at a football game violates the Constitution, whether the person leading the prayer is a student, district employee or member of the clergy.

The circuit court's decision has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

No prayer was held Thursday night, prior to Pecos' season-opening football game at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa against Denver City. The Eagles were the designated visiting team for the game, and officials with the Ector County ISD also have announced they will not allow pre-game prayers this season.

However, trustees in the Andrews ISD have decided to pray before games until a lawsuit is filed against them.

David Goodman, superintendent of the 3,300-student district, said student-led prayers would go on like normal.

"We've been in business as a school district for 90 years, and we've been having prayer before games for 90 years," Goodman said. Andrews' first home game is Sept. 10 against Hereford.

In a letter to all school board members Love said, "I have removed the issue from the Aug. 30 agenda after consulting with the Board President, since I feel it is my civil and administrative responsibility to follow the Constitutional Law of the land and not blatantly defy the law, regardless of my personal feelings."

Several concerned individuals were on hand for the Aug. 30 school board meeting, thinking that the item would be on that day's agenda.

Students and student athletes may continue to pray individually or collectively, before football games or any other sporting events as long as school officials are not sponsoring the prayer or participating in the prayer in any way. The use of the school's public address system is a clear violation of the law except at graduation by a student whose prayer is non-sectarian and non-proselytizing, not attempting to convert listeners and not favoring or referring to a specific religion, according to Love.

"I have informed all administrators of the school's position to this no-win situation," said Love. "The 5th Circuit Court voted 5 to 4 on this issue and said that the Governor and Attorney General have asked the Supreme Court to reverse this decision but don't for any relief until after football season," he said.

Love said, "If I were to disregard the 5th Circuit Court Santa Fe ISD decision, such action could be construed as an intentional violation of law and the legal sanctions could possibly include: injunction prohibiting prayer at sporting events; district liability for monetary and even punitive damages, punishing the defendant, setting an example for similar wrongdoing; school board members and school employees could be held liable for monetary and punitive damages and cost of litigation and our legal fees including the plaintiff's attorney fees and court costs."

"Nowhere in the law, though, does it say that people can't pray," said Love. "I just don't want to get our school district in trouble, we need for our money to go towards our students and not to possible litigation," he said.

Love said that school board members take an oath of office, which specifically states that they will protect and defend the constitution of the United States. "And in following all that, we have to follow the law," said Love.

"No matter how I feel we need to follow the law," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

T-NMP joins utilities' plans for Y2K tests

PECOS, Sept. 3, 1999 -- Texas-New Mexico Power Company will take part in a drill next Wednesday and Thursday to test electric utilities' computer readiness for Year 2000, said Mya Surratt, customer relations coordinator.

The drill on Sept. 8-9 is part of the North American Electric Reliability Council's plan to test administrative, operating, communications and contingency response readiness for the 200 participating utilities.

It will also serve as a simulation of how utility personnel will be available to the media on Dec. 31, 1999.

T-NMP's Y2K team has been working for more than two years to ensure all its computer-based systems and equipment run smoothly when the year 2000 arrives.

The company posts its current readiness information on its web site at www.tnpe.com.

Y2K READY _ David Knowles of El Paso works on a high-speed printer at Texas-New Mexico Power Co.'s offices this morning. The printer is one of many new electronic marvels installed at T-NMP in preparation for Year 2000, when old computers with a two-digit year in software may malfunction. Electric utilities will conduct a test of new equipment on Sept. 8-9. Knowles is employed by UHW, who maintains equipment for TNMP. Some older computers are expected to have problems with a 9-9-99 date next Thursday, because the 9999 code was used as a stop command in early computer programs.

Model killed in crash west of Balmorhea

Sept. 3, 1999 -- A New York woman was killed in a one-vehicle accident Thursday afternoon on Interstate 10, between Balmorhea and the Interstate 20 junction in southwestern Reeves County.

The accident was a one-vehicle rollover that happened at 6:15 p.m., 14 miles west of Balmorhea on I-10 near the 192 mile marker.

Geneen Kroupa, 24, a model from New York was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco. Her body was taken to Pecos Funeral Home.

Kroupa was driving a 1998 Land Rover eastbound on Interstate 10, when she veered off the roadway and into the center median. She over-corrected and the vehicle went into a broadside skid, overturning four times.

Kroupa was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle.

Department of Public Safety Corporal Emmit Moore investigated the accident.

Clerk accepting requests for mail ballots

PECOS, Sept. 3, 1999 -- Today is the first day for requests for ballots by mail for the Nov. 2 General Election, according to Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

Florez said the county clerk's office will be taking requests for ballots by mail beginning today, and her office is open to help with filling out the application. "If anybody needs help, the office staff is here and ready to help anyone that needs it fill out the forms," said Florez

"There are no candidates in this election, just propositions," Florez added.

To request an application for a ballot by mail, call the county clerk's office at 445-5467.

Florez also said this year's session of the Texas Legislature enacted several laws affecting court costs, fees, fines, and other court-related issues.

For those who are planning on getting married, marriage licenses will also cost a bit more. The fee for marriage licenses went up from $25 to $30, effective on Sept. 1.

District grid scores available through Internet

PECOS, Sept. 3, 1999 -- Finding out the Friday night football scores for the Pecos Eagles' district rivals in the El Paso area wasn't easy last season. But a couple of Internet broadcast sites may solve that problem for fans this year.

Friday night scores for El Paso area games are broadcast starting at about 10 p.m. CDT on KROD 600 AM, and scores are also aired at 11:20 p.m. and midnight CDT on KVIA _ Ch. 7, both of which broadcast over the Internet.

KROD can be accessed though Real Audio at www.krod.com while KVIA is at www.kvia.com All El Paso Internet stations also are listed at www.metronet.com/~chipk/Texas/ELP.html. Once there, click on the speaker to hear the Real Audio broadcast.

Labor Day means extra day off

PECOS, Sept. 3, 1999 -- They call it "Labor Day," but it is just the opposite. Monday is a holiday from labor for federal, state, county and city employees.

Many businesses will also close, including both banks and the Pecos Enterprise. The Sunday Free Press will be delivered as usual, but no Enterprise will be published Monday.

The Pecos Chamber of Commerce will close Monday, as will the Senior Center. Pecos-Barstow-Toyah schools will close for the holiday.

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will be working overtime on the highways to encourage motorists to drive safely and avoid accidents.

Parks forfeits car, cash taken in drug seizure

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 3, 1999 -- District Judge Bob Parks this morning granted a state motion to forfeit a 1988 Chevrolet and $17,500 cash taken from Evigael Navarette on June 6.

Navarette, 41, of 1035 Rancho Rd., had two packets of cocaine in his possession when he was arrested on a probation violation, said Pecos Police narcotics investigator Paul Deishler.

A subsequent search of his home turned up contraband, weapons and ammunition, Deishler said.

He is awaiting sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers drawn: 17-19-22-24-32. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $83,956. Winning ticket sold in: Houston. Matching four of five: 263. Prize: $479.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 9-9-4 (nine, nine, four)

Weather

High Thursday 96; low last night 72. Tonight, partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of evening showers or thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Southeast wind 5-10 mph. Saturday, partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 90s. South wind 10-20 mph. Extended forecast, Saturday night, partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers or thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Sunday through labor day, partly cloudy with a chance of showers or thunderstorms. Cooler. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs 85-90. Tuesday, partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 60s. Highs 85 90.



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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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