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Reeves County Tax Assessor-Collector Elfida Zuniga was accompanied by
her attorney, Scott Johnson to this morning's regular meeting.
The item, previously discussed at the July 22 commissioner's court
meeting, stirred up a lot of different issues and questions from both
commissioners and department heads at the county.
After today's discussion, commissioners again opted for more time before
a final vote is taken, claiming that it was insufficient notice.
They said the item was not clearly defined on the agenda and not enough
time was given to properly study the matter.
Zuniga had submitted her proposal for the salary increases at the July
22 meeting, giving Jeanette Herrera, whose been with the county for 12
years, a $3,500 pay raise; two-year county veteran, Deputy Sylvia Garcia
a $2,500 increase; Deputy Vicki Hannsz, hired in early July, a $2,000
increase and Deputy Tax Collector Rosemary Chabarria, who has been with
the department for four years, a $3,000 raise.
Commissioners initially voted for the increase, but Commissioner
Precinct 4 Bernardo Martinez challenged that decision, claiming that the
agenda did not provide enough notice as to what the request was going to
be, and the item was not clearly defined.
"Action was hampered by various claims that people did not have adequate
notice of this issue," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.
Galindo said because the item wasn't spelled out clearly, according to
the Open Records Act, if the governmental office doesn't have actual
notice a decision would be limited.
However, Johnson argued that the court had voted for the increases
Zuniga proposed, and therefore were required to rescind that decision at
"How can they rescind a decision, when one wasn't really made," said
County Attorney Bill Weinacht. "The commissioners court has the
discretion to make up the agenda and if the item was not clearly
identified then how could they vote on it?
"These commissioners can't take a vote until they have set the agenda
and if they didn't set the agenda, how can they rescind anything," said
Other department heads were on hand to voice their opinion, including
District Clerk Juana Jaquez.
She said commissioners had told her department numerous times to save
money, and that there were no funds for more employees or an increase.
She stated that all department heads should have been made aware of this
request and that they all had the same concerns in mind.
"You should have given us a little warning," Jaquez said. "I want to
take care of my girls, too. What about us?"
According to Zuniga, the proposed changes would not increase tax office
expenses and require not adjustments to the department, since a vacancy
in that department had not been filled and the funds for that position
were still available.
Zuniga had previously told the court that the vacant deputy's position
was advertised at a salary of $12,000, leaving a savings of $1,000,
including almost $4,000 in fringe benefits.
"I want to make it clear that at the last meeting I didn't say I didn't
need that person, but that I would make do without them, cross-train my
employees, so that we could use that money elsewhere," said Zuniga.
"There's a lot of things that we have done in the past without looking
at the policy and what we want to do now is do the right thing," said
Commissioner Precinct 2 W.J. Bang. "We need to come up with a policy
that's fair to everyone."
Zuniga also stated that she didn't understand why commissioners chose
this time to try to do "things right."
"Other departments have gotten a raise as a whole before this," she said.
Weinacht said he has been trying to get the commissioners to set a
policy in getting the agenda ready, that will facilitate matters.
"There's a lot of issues that have come out of this particular one,"
Weinacht agreed that a new policy needs to be adopted and certain
procedures followed while making up the agenda itself.
In other business, the court voted to lift the burning ban after
listening to comments by Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack
He told the court that with recent rains the possibility of the drought
has lifted somewhat making some areas greener.
"There's still some areas that are really dry, but won't pose a big
threat," said Brookshire, who also thanked the citizens for their
cooperation in obeying the burning ban.
Commissioners also approval placement of two buildings at the Reeves
County Juvenile Detention Center.
One of the buildings will be used for academic instruction only while
the other will be used for counseling.
"These are portable buildings and all we're asking is that you provide
some type of fence for that particular area," said Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD Superintendent Mario Sotelo.
He told the court the school had the funds to sustain these two portable
buildings and to situate them at that site.
"I think we should agree with this and cooperate fully, this will only
enhance it," said Galindo.
An ordinance prohibiting the disposal of organic matter (produce) in
populated areas of Reeves County was tabled. However, commissioners
urged Health and Sanitation Director to take action against individuals
creating this nuisance.
"It's been a recurring problem over the years," said Galindo.
Gil told the court a lot of farmers use this produce to feed their
livestock, but it sometimes creates a nuisance causing neighbors to
"At these times I have gone to the individuals and told them to dig the
produce into the ground, to use as soil enhancement.
"There's just one thing on this ordinance I would like to change when it
is adopted and that is to read three days instead of 30-day notice,"
"We'll work with the individuals before citing them, but we do want to
take care of this problem," said Gil.
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Brand said the company is reducing operations throughout, including
closing the Trophy Nine Farms office at Coyanosa and laying off all
hands but the foreman.
"We will keep operating, but we will not have an operation of the
magnitude that we have had," Brand said today from his McAllen office.
"We are feeling the pinch of pressure through NAFTA. We will
continually reduce duties. Mexico will have a distinct advantage over
the U.S., and there is not much we can do about it," he said.
Labor is so much cheaper in Mexico that Texas producers can't compete,
he said. "One hour of wages here is a full day's wages in Mexico," he
Mexican producers have been shipping cantaloupes all the time Griffin &
Brand has been shipping, and the competition is noticeable.
"But Pecos cantaloupes are still the best," he said. "We had a good
year. Our early cantaloupes did well, but hail hurt us on onions. The
only thing hail does is make the grass grow."
Despite all the problems, Brand expects to pack and ship bell peppers
again this fall at the Griffin & Brand sheds on West Second Street. That
harvest normally begins about Oct. 1.
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Although no specifics figures were noted, board members unanimously
approved the pay plan during Thursday's regular monthly board meeting.
The pay schedule was redone last year after passage of Senate Bill 1.
Teachers raised strong opposition to the proposed $1,000 raises a year
ago, because it was less than one-third the raise they were used to
The former pay scale allowed for a $3,400 pay raise, added to a
teacher's base pay, under the district's career ladder. District
officials said they were unable to maintain that level of pay increase
due to changes in state legislation, which made the district largely
responsible for the funding of such raises.
P-B-T Superintendent Mario Sotelo noted in an August, 1995, special
board meeting that the majority of professionally contracted teachers
were being paid above their base pay and explained that it would cost
the district an additional $934,000, at that time, to continue the
$3,400 yearly increase.
The new scale is a, "graduated scale," said P-B-T ISD Business Manager
Cookie Canon, "with 20 steps." she Said it is designed to give the
teaching staff with professional contracts, "at least $1,000," pay
Professional staff, who work more than the 185 days designated for
teachers, will also receive at least a $1,000 raise, explained Canon.
Their salaries were figured out, "on a case by case basis," because of
their varied amount of working days, she explained.
In other business the board approved transfers for the following: Janie
Aguilar from PHS special education to VI teacher at Bessie Haynes;
Marlene Glenn from Bessie Haynes as a fourth grade teacher to Crockett
Eighth Grade; Candelaria Leyva from Austin Elementary first grade
bilingual to Pecos Kindergarten bilingual; Irene Lujan from Kindergarten
bilingual to Barstow Elementary bilingual; Guadalupe Paz, from Pecos
Elementary bilingual to first grade bilingual and Marina Underwood from
Barstow Elementary sixth grade to Lamar Middle School Sixth grade.
P-B-T ISD Alternative Education Director Jon Igo presented the board
with a budget overview for the Alternate Education Program, in which he
asked for funds to add two additional buildings to the Reeves County
Juvenile Detention Center. His proposal also asked for another teacher,
a secretary and two teacher aides.
A counselor's position was eliminated and counseling services will be
sought through the Texas Department of Human Services, free of charge,
Igo told board members.
Sales tax rebates for August reflected a drop in Reeves County's retail
business for the quarter ended June 30, the state comtroller's office
While sales statewide continued to reflect a healthy economy with an
increase of 7.6 percent in rebates to cities, counties and special
districts over the first eight months, rebates to cities in Reeves
County dropped 16.92 percent in August.
Other West Texas cities suffered similar decreases, while major cities
gained sales. Showing a higher rebate were Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth
San Antonio and Austin held steady, while El Paso dropped 3.4 percent.
Reeves County Hospital District showed a loss of 13.56 percent.
National Weather Service observer Pearson Cooper said the rain came in
sheets Saturday night, and "the wind howled." Cooper said he has
recorded 3.11 inches in August, but even in Monahans the rainfall was
Pecos missed this round of showers, but cloudy skies kept temperatures
Gail Fritter said her gauge at the Coyanosa Co-op gin north of Coyanosa
measured .32 inches from the Saturday night rain, bringing the August
total to 1.02 inches.
Cantaloupe and onion harvest around Coyanosa is over, and Griffin and
Brand has closed their packing sheds for the season.
Pecos Cantaloupe continues to harvest both cantaloupes and onions. Trey
Miller said their fields got some rain, but not enough to interrupt the
Strong slow-moving thunderstorms were expected to produce gusty winds
and heavy rainfall across the Hill Country and in portions of South
Central Texas today.
The activity was to be triggered by the combination of an upper level
disturbance and deep tropical moisture.
Forecasters warned that the rainfall, up to 1-3 inches per hour, could
produce urban and small stream flooding.
The strong thunderstorms moved further east on Sunday, producing gusty
winds, briefly heavy rainfall and some small hail as they spread across
North Texas during the night. Some strong thunderstorms remained across
Northeast Texas before dawn today.
Seven inbound flights headed to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
were diverted and 10,400 homes were left without power in the
Dallas-Fort Worth area as result of Sunday night's storms.
Cities experiencing nearly 70 mph winds and light hail were Denton,
Carrollton, Plano, Grapevine and McKinney.
Elsewhere, there was a chance of widely scattered to scattered
thunderstorms across the state through Tuesday.
In West Texas, there is a chance of thunderstorms over the Edwards
Plateau tonight. But the rest of West Texas will have partly cloudy
Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise. All rights reserved. AP contributed to
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The inauguration today of the first high school in the remote town of
Terlingua will allow her to escape the nation's longest school bus ride,
a 160-mile round trip through the Big Bend region's desolate deserts.
Now she can look forward to a five-minute commute, a school day that
ends well before dusk and, certainly, more rest.
``All the traveling wore us out, getting up and having to spend so much
time on the bus, then getting home late,'' said Claudia, 16, who will be
an 11th-grader this year. ``Then some of us have jobs or we have chores.
It was kind of hard to manage all of that in one day. Time would go
The trip began as early as 5:30 a.m. for students in Terlingua, 300
miles southeast of El Paso, and other nearby communities, and stretched
school days into 12-hour ordeals.
But since the 1960s it had been a necessary evil for those who wanted a
diploma. Existing area schools only go up to the eighth grade and the
nearest high school is in Alpine, 80 miles north.
A determined community changed all that.
Volunteers from around the area came together last year to seek funding
for the sorely needed high school.
The Big Bend Education Corp.'s efforts pulled together more than
$100,000, said the Rev. Judy Burgess, the Episcopal priest who heads the
About $80,000 was in cash and the rest in donations of time or building
materials, including the cement used to pour the school's foundation.
``It's amazing how they worked so hard,'' said Yvonne Rodriguez,
Claudia's mother. ``We're going to have a school for the children this
The organization still needs about $225,000 to complete the main
building, so the initial classes will be held in portable structures.
Still more money is being sought for a library.
Operational funding will come primarily from the state. The $1,000
tuition local school districts had been paying the Alpine district for
each student attending Alpine High will be used for the Terlingua
``It's pretty exciting and scary all in one,'' said Kathy Killingsworth,
superintendent of the Terlingua Common School District.
The district will operate the school in cooperation with the San Vicente
Independent School District, based at Big Bend National Park.
Killingsworth said she expects to have up to 40 students this year.
About 20 had been riding the bus to Alpine, others were eighth-graders
in Terlingua last year. Some are returning from other distant schools,
Students may continue to attend Alpine High, but they must pay their own
The Terlingua school has five full-time teachers. Part-time instructors
from the community have been contracted to teach certain classes, such
as computer science and music.
Killingsworth said students will receive a good education.
``We can't sacrifice quality just because of size,'' she said. ``If we
don't have a more-than-adequate education, we don't need to be doing
To reach the Big Bend Education Corp., write to P.O. Box 256, Terlingua,
Texas, 79852, or call Judy Burgess at (915) 371-2609.
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BALMORHEA, Aug. 12, 1996 - Circle the last Saturday in August on your
calendar for international fun along the canal in Balmorhea.
The storybook canal will be lined with sidewalk "cafes of the day" and
events for all ages, said Pat Brijalba, Balmorhea Chamber of Commerce
manager about the 21st Annual Labor Day Weekend Festival, scheduled for
Aug. 31 in downtown Balmorhea.
"For fun that borders on fiesta, don't miss the grand champion frijole
bean cookoff held on Screwbean Square," Brijalba said. "Turn your $20
entry fee into a $100 first prize for best frijoles or best camp.
Second and third place beans win cash awards also.
Pitchin' (Welsh washers) and paintin' («MDUL»tortillas«MDNM») events, a
duck race down the canal, a duck guessing contest, imported from Madrid,
a minnow catch, little bitty duck run and water balloon team toss are
planned along the canal.
Land lubbers will roost on the sandy beach and try their aim at French
pinatas via Mexico, solve a life-size English maze or spit watermelon
Rowdy cowboys, serenaders and a concert wind down the fun as the sun
"We look forward to having you in Balmorhea for the 21st Annual Labor
Day Festival, a truly American holiday," Brijalba said.
"Come early and take in the area's newest attraction, the cienega at the
Balmorhea State Park or spend some time "birding" in this world-famous
habitat. The fish are jumpin' and the livin' is good!"
The Fort Stockton Pioneer
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FORT STOCKTON, Aug. 8, 1996 - Recent weeks have seen a number of dark
clouds passing over Pecos County, but officials caution that there
hasn't been much of a silver lining to these clouds, with too little
rain falling upon too small an area to be significant. Nor has it been
enough to signal an end to what some observers call the worst drought in
half a century. Total rainfall this year is 3.42 inches, and the normal
to date is 7.91 inches.
Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch
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FORT DAVIS, Aug. 8, 1996 - The Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce has named
Kelly Fenstermaker as its executive director. She replaces Kim Little
who has run the office for the last two years. Fenstermaker spent part
of her childhood on a ranch in the Glass Mountains, is the niece of the
late L.W. and Rowena Fenstermaker, former residents of Fort Davis, and
has been a resident of Fort Davis since March.
FORT DAVIS, Aug. 8, 1996 - Despite ongoing local concern, Village Farms
of Texas company officials and government officials are satisfied there
is enough water to support both the new 40-acre hydroponic tomato farm
and the surrounding areas, including Fort Davis, Marfa and Alpine. a
similar project has been operating just across the highway the past
eight years. Powell Plant Farm grows bedding plants - pansies, mums,
flowering cabbage and kale, dusty miller, dianthus and petunias. The
farm operates five months a year, but plans are in the works to open it
The Alpine Avalanche
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ALPINE, Aug. 8, 1996 - If you have never been to a Pasture Party, you
don't want to miss the one in Alpine Aug. 24. Highlight of the gala will
be the giving away of $14,000 to lucky ticket holders. It will also
feature entertainment and plenty of barbecue. Tickets are selling for
$150 per couple. Sponsors of the proposed Big Bend Activity Center plan
on selling 300 tickets, and every ticket will be drawn at the party.
The International, Presidio Paper
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PRESIDIO, Aug. 8, 1996 - Presidio ISD schools will open next week, with
students returning to classes on Wednesday. All campuses will be closed
during student lunch periods this year. This policy will be formally
addressed at the Aug. 20 school board meeting. No unauthorized visitors
will be allowed onto any campus.
The Ozona Stockman
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OZONA, Aug. 8, 1996 - Direct descendants of David Crockett came from
Midland and Odessa for Ozona's David Crockett Festival Saturday. Claudia
Saxe of Midland and Ben Kerr and his granddaughter, Shay Kerr, of Odessa
attended with members of their families. Kerr was outfitted in coonskin
cap and heavy leggings despite the heat. He carried a long rifle that is
more than 100 years old. Activities on the square drew a modest crowd.
The Monahans News
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MONAHANS, Aug. 8, 1996 - An estimated 14-to-15,000 people crowded into
Monahans to enjoy the 1996 version of the Butterfield Overland
Stagecoach & Wagon Festival this past weekend. Festival director Pam
Treadaway described the event as "the most successful ever." This was
the first year the event had been held in the downtown area, and a few
of the merchants got a boost from heavy foot traffic.
PECOS, Aug. 12, 1996 - Tonight, fair. Low 65-70. Light wind. Tuesday,
mostly sunny. High 95-100. Southeast wind 5-15 mph.
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
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Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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