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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Friday, September 10, 1999

Barstow school equipment given to Ward County

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 10, 1999 -- Barstow citizens will get to keep a small part of their abandoned school, the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board of trustees decided Thursday.

Playground equipment at the Barstow campus may be donated to Ward County to be moved to the civic center _ with the exception of slides and spring horses that can be utilized at Pecos Kindergarten.

"I was up there Sunday and it is in very good shape," said trustee Freddy Lujan. "It will be around for our great-grandkids.

He said the city of Pecos could use some of the equipment at the Girl Scout park on Seventh Street. "That would be an ideal place for it," he said. "There's a lot of kids in that neighborhood that would benefit from a park there."

Councilman Danny Rodriguez said that was brought up in Thursday's council meeting, and will be placed on the next agenda.

Assistant Superintendent Gome Olibas said he would like to bring the small slides and spring-loaded horses to the kindergarten.

Supt. Don Love said that Ward County Commissioner Julian Florez had asked about moving the equipment to the community center in Barstow.

"A lot of the equipment was bought through community fund raisers," said Olibas, a former Barstow principal.

"We might heal a few wounds if we left it in Barstow," said trustee Steve Armstrong.

Brent Shaw said that Barstow citizens are accustomed to using the playground, and "I agree it would be a good-faith gesture."

Barstow Elementary was closed prior to the start of the 1998-99 school year as a cost-saving measure, with first through fifth grade students being bused to classes in Pecos. The building itself is being used by West Texas Opportunities for the area's Head Start program, which had outgrown its Pecos facility.

Love said that the agreement with Ward County would be for them to move the equipment, including that retained for kindergarten, fill in the holes and level the playground.

Other surplus property, such as computers and office equipment, will have to be auctioned off, Love said. "We can't give away equipment bought with public funds."

Jodi Exum, coordinator of technology, reported that school computers should be Y2K compliant by Dec. 31, except for three old computers that can't be converted.

The contingency plan for getting out the payroll and maintaining student records is to do it by hand if the computers fail, Exum said.

"We are going to call Mrs. Hurley back" to do student records, said Larry Sloan. "She can handle it."

Exum said that $53,000 in state funding that the board dedicated to technology has made it possible to bring the computers up to date.

The date 9-9-99 caused no problems, she said. "Not a blink."

The board approved hiring a computer technician to assist Exum in maintaining computer equipment and software throughout the district. That person is required to be skilled in computers and have at least two years of work experience installing, maintaining and repairing computers and peripherals.

Opting out of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act will protect the district against claims for pre-existing conditions, the board decided. New hires and their dependents will not be covered for pre-existing conditions until they have been enrolled in the group insurance plan for 12 months.

Had the district continued under the current plan, anyone coming into the district with HIPPA certification would be covered for any illness, said Love.

Board President Earl Bates said the insurance committee discussed the matter for two hours and recommended that the board opt out.

In another personnel matter, the board rejected a recommendation that staff members be allowed to leave at 3 p.m. for athletic and stock show events, civic responsibilities, doctor/dental appointments, etc., with special emergencies/situations to be considered at the principal's discretion.

The time off is not made up by professional staff, Love said, but para-professionals who punch a time card are paid only for time worked.

Louis Matta said that some teachers abuse the privilege of taking off early, and it creates a hardship for the principals to find a replacement.

"I am all for professionals participating in civic responsibilities and parents supporting youth in stock shows or sporting events," said Steve Armstrong.

"I am for early release for those matters. However, the primary purpose is to teach the children, and to leave at 3 p.m. is too early. It ought to be through your class time."

High School classes end at 3:30 p.m., while lower grades are released at 3:10 p.m., he said.

"Last year when the baseball team was in the playoffs, we had several teachers with no children that wanted to go. I think we should make it 3:10. I don't think athletic events should be approved for non-parents. They can leave when school is over or take the day the state gives you, or the half-day."

Billie Sadler said that a lot of teachers are in the classroom before school starts. "I think they should be rewarded, and staying until 4 p.m. is excessive," she said. "I like 3:10."

Teacher Priss McNutt said that the committee recommending 3 p.m. was not unanimous, and she felt the matter should have more study before the board acts.

Sadler's motion to postpone action until the next meeting passed.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo presented a proposed plan to build a racquetball court building west of the old high school gymnasium and install batting cages west of that.

"Initially our thoughts were to convert the little gym into racquetball courts, but found we would have to raise the roof four feet," he said. "Renovating is a lot more expensive in some cases than just starting from the ground up."

Cost of the project would be paid by Reeves County as part of the interlocal agreement to operate a community recreation program, Galindo said.

Recreation program staff would be on hand when the buildings are open, and anyone entering would have to go through the main office.

Galindo said he would present a detailed plan at a later meeting.

Matt Williamson protested Supt. Love's decision not to allow student prayer at athletic events because of a recent court ruling making it a federal offense.

Christians have sat by and allowed any mention of Jehovah God or Jesus Christ to be removed from government and schools, he said.

"I am concerned," he said. "We have what I consider to be a defining moment in Texas history that we can't pray publicly at any school function except graduation."

"I am disgusted with the superintendent and school board," he said. "Others have decided not to bow to the ACLU god. Our officials avoided public input and decided not to allow prayer. And Christians are standing by with lethargy and plain old fear."

Paraphrasing Joshua before leading the Hebrews into the Promised Land, Williamson concluded, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

First United Methodist Church minister Bruce Abbott also asked to speak on the same subject, but Bates said the board's rules allow only one person to speak on each topic, and that is limited to five minutes.

About 12 persons then left the board meeting.

In other action, the board hired Hunter Corral Associates to assess the value of school facilities; approved budget amendments and tax roll errors and corrections, and re-assignments of three teachers:

* Faustino Acosta from PHS freshmen football/JV basketball coach to freshmen football coach/head basketball coach;

* John Barrett from PHS to Pecos Elementary special education inclusion teacher;

* Winette Hillger from Pecos Elementary to PHS special education inclusion teacher.

District enrollment falls, PHS' total up

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 10, 1999 -- An enrollment drop of 85 from the 1998-99 school year will cost the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD $320,000 in state funding, Supt. Don Love told the board of trustees in their regular meeting Thursday.

On the day after Labor Day, 2,936 students were enrolled, compared to 3,021 the same date last year. Pecos High School showed an increase of 35 students, with a total of 881 in four grades. All other grades showed a decrease.

High school attendance during the month of October will be used for determining reclassification by the University Interscholastic League in January. Pecos High School reported an enrollment of 835 students two years ago, 66 above the minimum cutoff for Class 4A schools.

Enrollment by school is:

* Crockett Middle School eighth grade, 223;

* Zavala Middle School seventh grade, 236;

* Lamar Middle School sixth grade, 199;

* Pecos Kindergarten, 282;

* Austin Elementary first-second grades, 444;

* Pecos Elementary third grade, 211;

* Bessie Haynes fourth and fifth grades, 430;

* Carver Center, 30 in grades 5-11.

In prior years, enrollment the day after Labor Day was 3,008 in 1996-97 and 3,035 in 1997-98.

In 1997-98, the attendance rate was 94.9 percent, according to the district's report card, presented by Supt. Love.

The dropout rate for all students was 1.4 percent, .2 percent less than the state average and .1 percent less than the previous year.

"The district is doing well," Love said. "We are very pleased with the entire district."

Students scored 80.2 percent in passing reading, 82.3 percent in math and 84.8 percent in writing.

But only 3 students scored above criterion in the college admissions table. "We are not too proud of this," Love said.

And the district has some work cut out for it in TAAS/TASP testing, where the Class of 1998 had only 34.9 percent scoring at or above equivalency.

Crockett Middle School, which had an attendance rate of 95 percent, made outstanding growth, with all areas above 80 percent, Love said.

Zavala students need to work on reading, with only 77.3 percent passing.

Lamar Middle School and Bessie Haynes Elementary were recognized campuses for the fourth straight year. Lamar's increase of 2 percent in reading to 83.5 percent passing is outstanding, Love said.

Pecos Elementary, where reading has been a problem, 74.6 percent passed, an increase of 7.3 percent. Math scores were up 8.8 percent.

Zavala Principal Lucila Valenzuela said her students have been using Saxon math for several years, and it has now been adopted by the state. She received approval to exchange some of the outdated new textbooks on hand for the second edition.

Showers give Pecos break

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 10, 1999 -- "I like it. Just keep it coming," said rancher Cole Armstrong of Thursday's rain showers, the second day in a row the city has received some rain.

KIUN Radio recorded .25 inch downtown, bringing the total for this year to 3.13 inches. In southwest Pecos, .15 inch was recorded, while the Texas A&M Research Station west of Pecos got a sprinkle with lots of dust, said secretary Jaxie Young.

"Not a drop," said Gary Ingram, who ranches north of Toyah.

Sue Toone said that a half-inch fell at their farm southeast of Saragosa. Cliff Adkins reported .20 inch at Fort Stockton.

The forecast for West Texas calls for a chance of isolated to widely scattered showers and thunderstorms. Highs thru Saturday are expected in the 80s and 90s in most areas, with near 100 along the Big Bend of the Rio Grande. Lows tonight should be in the 60s and 70s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Federal indictments returned in counterfeiting case

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Sept. 10, 1999 -- Three counterfeiters and 13 marijuana backpackers are among 41 persons indicted Thursday by the federal grand jury.

And the grand jury indicted three persons arrested in Odessa Aug. 23 in connection with an undercover sale of more than a pound of heroin.

Lazaro Pando-Hernandez, 29, Irene Anita Rodriguez and Ricky Portillo Aguilar, all of Odessa, are charged with conspiracy to possess heroin for distribution. Rodriguez and Aguilar are also charged with possession of heroin on Aug. 23.

Pando-Hernandez allegedly made arrangements for the sale from his jail cell in Pecos.

Geraldo Castillon Trujillo, 22, of Kendall, Fla., Ricardo Perez Castillo, 25, and Abel Tejeda Lopez, 27, both of Phoenix, Ariz., are charged with conspiracy to possess and possession of counterfeit obligations or securities.

The three men allegedly had 80 $100 bills in their possession. Forty of the bills had the same serial number; 25 had another serial number, 10 another and five another.

Other charges in the indictments are: import and possess marijuana for distribution, 15; illegal entry after deportation, nine; transport illegal aliens and conspiracy, four; and possess marijuana for distribution, five.

That brings the number of defendants indicted by the Pecos Division this year to 419.

Irrigators, cities battling over Rio Grande pipeline


EL PASO (AP) New Mexico irrigators are at odds over El Paso's proposal to build a $12 million water-treatment plant that would siphon water from the Rio Grande to compensate for the city's declining ground-water supplies.

El Paso Water Utilities is seeking federal funding to construct the plant in Anthony, Texas, and build a pipeline over the Anthony gap in the Franklin Mountains.

Las Cruces and Hatch, which are part of the El Paso-Las Cruces Regional Sustainable Water Project, have signed on to the plan. The two New Mexico cities announced they also are seeking $1.5 million in federal money to build their own water projects during a meeting of the New Mexico-Texas Water Commission here Thursday.

But the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, whose members own substantial Rio Grande water rights for Mesilla Valley farms, is concerned about the water sources El Paso wants to use to meet the needs of additional and expanded water-reclamation plants.

The Elephant Butte Irrigation District board passed a resolution Wednesday to oppose the use of New Mexico water from the Rio Grande for Texas water-treatment plants, board president Gary Arnold said.

New Mexico farmers would withhold their support for El Paso's federal funding requests if the city considers using New Mexico Rio Grande water allocations for the Texas treatment plants, Arnold said.

The resolution appeared to irritate El Paso officials, who said they should be able to purchase New Mexico surface water from willing sellers.

El Paso Water Utilities general

Feds start accepting Green Card renewal applications by mail


Green card holders may soon be able to mail in their application for renewal.

In an effort to facilitate the renewal process for legal resident aliens, the El Paso District Immigration and Naturalization Service is establishing a mail-in application process to begin on Sept. 27.

Applicants should complete a Form I-90 "Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card," available from INS at 1-800-870-3676 or www.inw.usdoj.gov/forms.

Complete the application and mail to Information Department, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1545 Hawkins, El Paso, TX 79925, along with a $110 filing fee payable to INS (money order or cashier's check), a front and back photocopy of the expiring Green Card and four photographs.

Upon receipt of the card, INS will send out an appointment letter. On the day of the appointment, the applicant must bring their original Green Card to turn in, will be fingerprinted and will receive their temporary proof of status.

Applicants who live in Odessa or the surrounding area will have their appointments scheduled for the Odessa office at 1655 W. County Road.

Lotto

NEW YORK (AP) Stocks rose today, lifting the Nasdaq composite index into record territory, after the government's report of a drop in wholesale prices eased investor concerns about higher interest rates. In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 56.67 at 11,136.07. The Nasdaq composite index was up 28.90 at 2,880.92, moving past its closing high of 2,864.48, set July 16.The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 8.23 at 1,355.89. The Labor Department said rising energy costs pushed wholesale prices up a higher than expected 0.5 percent during August. But when the volatile energy and food categories are excluded, wholesale prices actually fell 0.1 percent. Financial markets tend to set aside food and energy price changes and focus on the figure known as core inflation. The 0.1 percent drop in core inflation last month was better than economists expected.

Obituary

Cruz M. Pisana

Cruz Matta Pisana, 54, of Austin, died on Sept. 1, 1999 after a long illness. Services were held on Friday, Sept. 3, 1999 in Austin.

She was born on July 3, 1945 in Pecos, graduated from Pecos High School in 1963 and was a Catholic.

She was preceded in death by one brother, Manuel M. Garcia. Survivors include her husband, Bill M. Pisana, Sr., of Austin; two sons, Bill Pisana, Jr. and Jonathan Pisana, both of Austin; four daughters, Diana Pisana and Amanda Pisana of Austin, Michelle Sanders of Dallas and Annette Sanchez of Houston; six brothers, Manuel G. Matta of Ojinaga, Mex., Juan Matta, Jr., Raul Matt and Paz Matta, all of Odessa, and Pablo Matta Sr. and Hector Matta, both of Pecos; seven sisters, Paula M. Ornelas, Mary Dutchover and Yolanda M. Rodriguez, all of Pecos, Eloisa Casias of Odessa, Virginia M. Ramirez of Zapata, Sister Martha Ann of Tucson, Ariz., and Maria Regino of McCamey.

Weather

PECOS, Sept. 10, 1999 -- High Thursday 81; low last night 69. Rainfall .25 inch downtown. Year-to-date recorded by KIUN Radio, 3.13 inches. Friday, mostly sunny and warmer. High in the lower 90s. southeast wind 10-20 mph. Extended forecast, Friday night, mostly clear. Low in the lower to mid 60s. Saturday, partly cloudy. High in the lower to mid 90s. Low in the mid to upper 60s. Sunday, partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. turning cooler late. High in the lower 90s. Low in the lower 60s.



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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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