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Friday, August 9, 1996

Board members approve TAAS preparation plan

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Staff Writer

Despite good results on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS)
spring tests, the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board of Education voted to
cut down on practice testing throughout the district.

The decision was made during Thursday night's school board meeting,
after TAAS Committee member Brandy Owen presented trustees with
recommendations from the group, composed of parents, teacher,
administrators and board members.

Twenty members of the TAAS committee met Tuesday and reached the
agreement which was submitted to the board.

It asks for portfolios to be used in lieu of TAAS testing at the
kindergarten level and only mock TAAS for first and second graders.
Students in those three grades not required by the state to take the

The practice tests at the lower grades will serve to introduce students
to the format, said Owen.

For grades 3 through 6, one practice TAAS, in addition to the
state-required TAAS test will be administered. Additional informal tests
may be given in the classroom at the discretion of individual teachers
and based on students' need.

A reading class will be required of all students in the seventh and
eighth grades. One mock TAAS and the state mandated test will be given.

Eighth graders will receive up to two mock tests, depending on student
needs, in addition to the state test. Both seventh and eighth grade
campuses plan to continue TAAS tutorials outside of school hours for
students who need or want extra help.

In grades 9 through 12, TAAS remediation classes will be established.
students who have not passed the TAAS will be required to take the TAAS
class and will earn elective credit.

Mock TAAS tests may be given as needed in these classes, along with
instruction in TAAS objectives and strategies. These classes are
intended to help specific students struggling with the test and keep
TAAS remediation out the regular classrooms, Owen said.

TAAS practice sheets are to be used sparingly and on an individual basis
at all grade levels and campus principals will monitor this activity
closely. The superintendent will oversee the entire TAAS testing
program, the group decided.

The possible addition of a national standardized test will be referred
to the P-B-T testing director, continued Owen, for further study and
recommendation. The test would allow district student performance to be
compared on a national level and also better prepare college-bound

Curriculum alignment will focus primarily on the gifted and talented
program in the coming year, she added. Board members were told that the
state is devising a curriculum alignment plan for the coming school

Meanwhile, P-B-T is to continue its vertical curriculum planning among
grade levels for the 1996-97 school year.

The committee was formed as the result of parental concerns about last
year's TAAS program. Complaints were voiced that the program put too
much emphasis on the TAAS test and redirected students goals from the
required curriculum.

Schools plan no tax hike despite valuation decline

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Staff Writer

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD officials are planning no increase in the
current tax rate, despite a drop in valuations since last year.

Although the effective tax rate - the rate needed to bring in the same
tax revenues as last year - has been calculated at $1.43529, the
district will maintain the current $1.40 per $100 valuation level, as
board members and staff plan on, "making the budget fit the tax rate."

Board members were given the effective tax rate during their regular
monthly board meeting Thursday in the district board room.

It was certified that the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax office will
collect an estimated 100 percent of the district's debt collection,
reported P-B-T ISD Tax Assessor/Collector Lydia O. Prieto.

The $1.40 level, unchanged for the past four years, will be set on an
adjusted tax base of $369,387,450, which does not include new property.
This reflects a total certified appraisal value of $373,764,400, which
$7,087,980 lower than 1995.

Because the board is looking at maintaining last year's tax rate, they
can waive a public hearing, which is required if the board proposed to
raise the tax rate more than 3 percent or at a rate greater than it
rollback rate, which was calculated at $1.51315 per $100 valuation.

In other business, board members voted to approve the Student Handbook,
along with its Code of Conduct. Former Pecos High School Assistant
Principal Don Love, now Zavala Middle School principal, reviewed the
code with Board Member Alberto Alvarez and other campus principals after
last month's board meeting, when action on the item was postponed.

Changes were presented and approved by the District Education
Improvement Committee and basically involved the removal of short-term
placement in the Alternative Education Program.

A Gifted and Talented plan was accepted by the board, after a
presentation by Anna Hernandez of the District Steering Committee and
other members of the group.

Hernandez told board members that the new plan includes a program
evaluation plan that, "will mold the program."

Trustees voted to go with Region 18 Education Service Center's West
Texas Telecommunications Coop Consortium and personnel services and
approved a no-pass/no-play exemption for PHS advanced classes of
Placement English I and II, Biology I, Latin I and II and Computer
Science II.

"We feel that these courses are taught at the advanced level and that
students willing to accept the academic challenge of these courses
should be eligible for consideration of waiver of suspension from UIL
activities, should their six-weeks' average fall below seventy,"
contended PHS Principal Alice Duerksen.

Charles Clark of the engineering company who drew up the plans for the
Crockett Middle School HVAC project told board members that workers for
the Bosworth contracting company will have completed the installation of
the new heating and cooling units by August 15. They had estimated a
completion date of October 1, he told trustees.

Clark added that he has met with contractors to start the bidding
process for the air conditioning project of the Building A at Pecos High
School. Bids will be due August 22, he added.

Crissy Urias was named as the 504 and Title IX Coordinator and an
elementary handbook was agreed on, as presented by Pecos Elementary
Juanita Davila, who noted only a few changes and additions.

Bids were awarded to New Era, for health insurance; Student Insurance
Division for student insurance, which has been in place for the past
three years; Rogers and Belding for property, casualty, and general
liability and Teas Association of School Boards for fleet insurance.

Teacher appraisers for the upcoming school year will be: Duerksen, Love,
Danny Rodriguez, Robert Hernandez, Gome Olibas, Crissy Urias, Juanita
Davila, Beau Jack Hendrick, Mary Lou Carrasco, Lucila Valenzuela, Larry
Sloan and Anna Hernandez.

A brief budget update was conducted. Olibas, Barstow and Lamar
Elementary Principal, presented budget proposal for both campuses, which
already included the suggested adjustments, and, "trimmed down," $23,000
from last year's budgets for both campuses.

He told trustees that he met with Barstow sixth grade parents and it was
agreed that Barstow Elementary will cater to first through fifth grades
and Barstow sixth graders will attend Lamar Middle School.

Jon Igo gave the board a budget overview for the Alternative Education
Program, in which he asked for funds to add two additional buildings to
the Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center, another teacher, a
secretary and two teacher aides. A counselor's position was eliminated
in the proposal.

One-year probationary contract forms were approved unanimously by the
board. The forms were recommended by TASB and the school district's
attorney said superintendent of schools, Mario Sotelo.

Appointments approved after an executive session of the board were: Rick
Chafey, Austin Elementary second grade teacher; Brian Chapman, PHS
special education; Stephen Richard Johnson, Bessie Haynes fifth grade
special education; Peggy Ann Jones, PHS English teacher; Brandon Lee,
PHS history teacher and junior high tennis coach; Gail Norris, Austin
first grade teacher; Jennifer Degler, Lamar Middle School teacher;
Lorenzo Serrano, PHS Spanish teacher and coach; Barbara Tarango, PHS
Spanish teacher and Jim Workman, Crockett Middle School English teacher.

Resignations include: Jacklyn Alastuey as a Bessie Haynes fifth grade
teacher; Priscilla Cook, as a Austin Elementary first grade teacher;
Kaye Balckstock, from Austin as a first grade teacher and Sammy Seijas,
from Alternative Education physical education teacher and coach.

Transfers for the district were approved for: Janie Aguilar from PHS
special education to VI teacher at Bessie Haynes; Marlene Glenn from
Bessie Haynes fourth grade teacher to Crockett Middle School; Candelaria
Leyva from Austin first grade bilingual to Pecos Kindergarten bilingual;
Irene Lujan from Kindergarten bilingual to Barstow Elementary bilingual;
Guadalupe Paz, from Pecos Elementary bilingual to Austin first grade
bilingual and Marina Underwood from Barstow Elementary sixth grade to
Lamar sixth grade.

Butterflies flock onto alfalfa crop

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Staff Writer

Yellow butterflies may be pretty to look at, but they can be mortal
enemies to alfalfa growers and a hazard to crop dusters trying to kill
their larvae.

In the butterfly stage, the pretty winged creatures are harmless, but
the eggs they lay turn into caterpillars that feed on alfalfa leaves
like little cows, said Rex Friesen, A&M Extension entomologist.

Friesen is working with Max Kerley and Ron Fossum to control the alfalfa
caterpillar and the cornworm in their alfalfa fields southwest of Pecos.
Both have already sprayed for the pest, and will have to continue
treating every block, Friesen said.

Motorists traveling along U.S. 285 or Texas Highway 17 may notice more
of the yellow butterflies than usual this year.

David McDonald, who grows alfalfa in West Texas and southeastern New
Mexico, said the pest numbers are unusually large.

``We have had infestations before, but this is the worst I have seen in
years,'' McDonald said.

``They are all the way from Carlsbad to Fort Stockton, Texas,'' he said.

New Mexico State University extension agent Woods Houghton said it was
the worst infestation he has seen in 15 years working with alfalfa

``The alfalfa caterpillar chews all the leaves off the alfalfa plant and
just leaves the stem - if you have a thin stem, they'll eat that too,''
he said Thursday.

``They'll consume about half a ton per an acre of hay. That's the
infestation level we have now,'' Houghton said.

Half a ton of hay is worth about $65, he said, and the total infestation
area in New Mexico is probably 20,000 acres, so the total cost could run
to $1.3 million if left unchecked and as little as $540,000 with
aggressive spraying.

He said if growers are more than 1½ weeks from cutting hay, they
probably need to spray.

``If you wait, it'll cost you $65 an acre or more, and if you spray
it'll cost you about $20 to spray,'' he said, adding $7 to $8 worth of
damage per acre probably would have occurred already.

The alfalfa caterpillar - or alfalfa butterfly - is a warm-weather pest
that occurs sporadically in central and lower desert valleys.

The butterflies feed on flowers in the alfalfa fields and mate, while
the females move on to shorter alfalfa if they can find it - under 6
inches - to lay eggs.

"They don't have to lay in short alfalfa, but when they do, that is when
they are going to have to treat," Friesen said.

In three to 10 days, the eggs hatch into small dark brown larvae with
black heads. The entire life cycle of the alfalfa caterpillar is closely
synchronized with the hay-cutting cycle, with a single generation taking
about one cutting cycle to complete.

Friesen said alfalfa growers usually cut hay every 28 days. If they have
several blocks that they cut at different times, as does Kerley, the
butterflies move from field to field and all will have to be treated.

Kerley has had to treat several times this year, he said.

"It varies from year to year. Last year, he only treated a few blocks.
This year they have treated all of them more than once."

Four to seven generations of the caterpillar/butterfly occur between
June and September in some areas, and others between May and October.

``Alfalfa caterpillar damage usually can be distinguished from army
worms, which skeletonize leaves, leaving the midrib intact.

The first sign of potential infestation is an influx of large numbers of
yellow or white butterflies in the late spring or early summer.

Friesen said many growers panic when they see the butterflies and start
spraying then. However, they need to wait until the eggs hatch and kill
the small caterpillars, he said.

To determine when to spray, Friesen uses a sweep net to capture insects
and worms in 10 locations in a field, sweeping the net through alfalfa
plants in a circle around himself. If he finds 70-100 alfalfa
caterpillars in 10 sweeps, he recommends spraying.

He is also looking for cornworms, which do more damage than alfalfa
caterpillars, he said. If he finds 20 cornworms, it is time to treat.

In some fields, the numbers of alfalfa caterpillars may not be enough
to require spraying, but coupled with the cornworm, spraying may be

"The problem is, females can lay 200-500 eggs, so they can really blow
up on you," he said.

Spraying is done by airplane, and often crop dusters complain they have
to stop and clean their windshield of alfalfa butterflies.

Cornworms are different. Their adult moth flies at night, "so you don't
even see it during the day," Friesen said.

Friesen said he doesn't know where the butterflies come from.

"They are here every summer, but some years they are worse than others.
It's just a cyclical problem. They are usually in low number in June and
build through the season if not taken care of. When they start going,
they really start going."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eagle band opens up with more marchers

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Staff Writer

With attendance up, the Pecos Eagle Band is hoping to excel and have its
best year ever in 1996.

"I think we'll have a great year, we've had a good attendance at
practice all week," said Pecos High School Band Director Steven Clary.

The number of students participating in band for the 1996-97 school year
has risen, with about 125 participating during«MDBO»«MDNM» the first
week of practice.

"The average is about 125, which is up by about 30-40 students from last
year," said Clary. "This is just pre-enrollment, we still have students
that are out on vacation or jobs, which means the amount could go up."

Members have been practicing different routines and are planning a great
program for half-time shows for the coming year.

"We've been teaching them to march backwards and are currently working
on the program," said Clary.

This year's theme for the program will be Disney.

"Everybody will be able to sing along with the band, since the songs
will be very familiar," said Clary.

The program will be further enhanced with 12 flag girls, who are also in
the process of learning new routines for the coming year.

"We expect a better turnout in both the stands and the band," said Clary.

The group will also have the popular Mariachi Band, which has won
several awards in the past.

"All in all, we're expecting a great year and great things out of these
individuals," said Clary.

Gil says trash pact would save $30,000

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Staff Writer

Privatization of solid waste pickup and disposal would save the city of
Pecos an estimated $30,000 per year over current costs, said Armando
Gil, city sanitarian.

That does not include the cost of a new landfill trench, which was part
of an estimate submitted Thursday by Councilman Randy Graham, Gil said.

Graham's estimate of a $326,660 annual savings assumes a new landfill
trench would cost the city $260,000 per year over its life.

However, without the new trench, Graham estimates the city's annual
cost to pick up and haul waste «MDNM»to Charter Waste Management's
regional landfill near Penwell would be $588,750.

Under a tentative agreement with West Tex Waste, the city would pay
$560,000 for both pickup and disposal.

Graham said the $588,750 cost to the city includes: salaries and
benefits, $210,400; supplies and tools, $50,500; landfill services,
travel and vehicles, $327,850.

WTW and city council members on Thursday agreed to negotiate contract
terms. A trial period in which WTW would lease city equipment and
employees is to be included in the contract.

Thunderstorms hit hardest north of Pecos

A brief shower wet the streets of Pecos this morning, and scattered
clouds promised more to come - at least for someone.

Thursday's clouds dumped up to three inches of rain in spots. Pennzoil
employees reported a heavy rain, while Loving, N.M. got a 3-inch deluge.

Orla's weather observer, James Calaway, recorded .23 inch Thursday
night, bringing the August rainfall total to .97 inch.

Areas to the south also got some rain Thursday, including the area along
Interstate 10 between Balmorhea and the I-20 junction, in what has come
to be a daily ritual of scattered showers.

Fort Stockton and Marfa got a trace, while Alpine received .68 inch,
Midland .28 and Sweetwater .02.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are in store across most areas of
the state tonight and Saturday, the National Weather Service predicted.

But many areas will probably miss most of the precipitation.

In West Texas, it will be partly to mostly cloudy with scattered showers
and thunderstorms through Saturday.

Highs Saturday will be in the 80s and 90s except in the Big Bend area of
West Texas where the mercury is expected to climb to near 105.


Billy Jack Johnson

Billy Jack Johnson, 69, died Friday, Aug. 7, 1996, in San Antonio.
Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Mason Funeral Home
Chapel, with burial in Gooch Cemetery.

He was born March 12, 1927, in Girard and had lived in Mason for 15
years. A Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, he was retired
from the trucking business and was a member of the Grace Fellowship

Survivors include his wife, Zula Johnson of Mason; a son, Billy Karl
Johnson of Pecos; a step-daughter, Sheba Kay Kothman of Mason; two
brothers, Don Ross Johnson of Uvalde and Norman Johnson of Mason; two
step-grandsons and three step-great-granddaughters.

C.E. Sydow

C.E. Sydow died Aug. 5, 1996 in Kerrville and was buried in the Cowboy
Cemetery in Pecos today.

He lived in Pecos from 1936-1960.

Survivors include his wife, Stella Sydow of Kerrville; two step sons,
Wayne Joplin of Winnsboro and Jerry Joplin of Kerrville; one brother,
Vernon Sydow of Georgetown; seven grandchildren and 15


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High Thursday 96, low last night 70. Tonight, mostly cloudy with a 40
percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Locally heavy rainfall is
possible. Low 65-70. East wind 5-15 mph. Saturday, partly to mostly
cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High near
90. Southeast wind 5-15 mph.

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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
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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