Daily Newspaper for Reeves County, Trans Pecos, Big Bend, Far West Texas

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Sept. 5, 1996

By Rosie Flores

Creative fun beats

today's `nothing to do'

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Labor Day Weekend - a time to relax and have a good time or a time for working in the yard, doing chores that have gone untouched for so many years?

For many of us, it's a time for work. Still, we try to put aside a little bit of relaxation time to just drift back, read a good book or spend time with the family.

Most of us did just that this past weekend, during our three-day holiday away from work.

Spending time with our loved ones seemed to rate higher than any other activity, according to many of the people I spoke to. Whether it was playing baseball in backyards, taking little camping trips or just barbecuing in the backyard, spending time with those individuals we don't get to spend very much time with was our main priority.

During this time, I noticed how children these days expect to be entertained. They don't seem to have much of an imagination when it comes to playing outdoors.

Of course everyone knows that teenagers' favorite phrase is, "There's nothing to do!" But if they only looked a little harder they would find plenty of games to entertain themselves with.

Everyone remembers the old favorite game, One-Two-Three Red Light. Well, this may come as a surprise, but a lot of youngsters don't even know what that game is anymore. It came as a surprise to me, since it used to be one of our favorites.

They also didn't know about backyard baseball. Everyone can play that, (or try to anyway as we found out, even though not all of us are very good at it!)

I remember having to make up games, for lack of toys. But we didn't need toys, we soon found out. When you have a sister with a very large imagination, you don't need anything.

Spies was one of her creations. She had us believing we were spies and other spies were chasing us. We ran around the neighborhood hiding from the (imaginary) spies and trying to find ways to sabotage them. This game could last all day, if our mother hadn't found us first and got us busy doing housework!

Another of her favorites was building a house, fort, etc. with old empty boxes. Again, this took a lot of time and effort depending on how nice you wanted it to look.

Listening to adult conversation was a big no-no. And of course, we didn't want to anyway. We had plans of our own. But youngsters nowadays just want to hang around listlessly. Chasing them out of the house is getting harder and harder to do.

They don't realize that games are out there, just waiting to be created.

We could spend all of our time outdoors back then, if only there weren't such a thing as chores!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rosie Flores is an Enterprise writer and editor of Lifestyles and Golden Years. Her column appears each Thursday.


TYC responds to public concerns

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The Texas Youth Commission is the state agency charged with the care, custody, and control of juvenile offenders sentenced in courts throughout the State of Texas. As an alternative to commitment to TYC, judges may decide that juveniles should remain on probation in their local communities under the supervision of their county's department of probation.

Two years ago, most public opinion polls in Texas indicated that the pubic was very concerned about the dramatic rise in juvenile crime, particularly the commission of violent offenses. Statistics demonstrating the dramatic increase in the commission of such crimes correctly justified that concern.

Gubernatorial candidate George W. Bush appropriately recognized those concerns and, during his campaign, consistently stated that juvenile justice would be a top priority during the next session of the Texas legislature if he were elected.

Once elected, Governor Bush did put juvenile justice reform at the top of his legislative agenda. The Governor worked closely with the legislative leadership of Speaker of the House Pete Laney, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, and other legislative leaders in the House and Senate. As a result, numerous juvenile justice reform bills were passed.

TYC, in turn, responded to the public and legislative directives by making significant changes in its programs during the past two years. In the past, the incorrect perception of many had been that TYC was simply a type of state "child care agency." Given the changes that have occurred in TYC's administration of juvenile justice, those perceptions have now been corrected.

TYC Board members are appointed to a six-year term by the Governor. The board recognizes that its mandate is that of maintaining the very best juvenile correctional institutions and aftercare programs focused on protection of the public safety, discipline, and rehabilitation. TYC's paradigm shift emphasizes stricter rein over offenders, a structured 16-hour day, restricted free time and intensive rehabilitation programs. There is a new commitment to rehabilitation through additional education opportunities and comprehensive treatment programs.

It has been estimated that juvenile crime will rise 86 percent between 1994 and 2010. Consistent with these statistics, the average daily population in TYC correctional programs during the past legislative fiscal year has been approximately 3,100. Based upon the~ anticipated increase in violent crime by juveniles, it is expected that in the year 2000, the average daily population will approach 6,000.

Consistent with the financial appropriations to the agency by the legislature, TYC's institutional capacity has expanded through the addition of several new facilities: the completion of the Jefferson County State School in Beaumont; the conversion of TDCJ prisons to TYC institutional facilities in San Saba and Marlin; the opening of a TYC boot camp in Sheffield (in far West Texas); and the opening of a sanctions unit in Brownwood. In addition, plans are under way to convert an MHMR facility in Vernon to a boot camp that will ultimately house 336 cadets in an intensive military-style disciplined setting with a strong educational component.

Although recent public opinion polls show Texans believe juvenile crime is not as great a problem as it was two years ago, a substantial majority, 85 percent, still consider it very serious. Recognizing this concern, as well as the statistical probability of increased offenses and referrals to the agency, TYC is attempting to keep pace with those concerns.

The TYC board recently approved the submission of the agency's legislative appropriation request for the next session of the Texas legislature. TYC estimates that for fiscal year 2001, maximum bed capacity will be 6,558, compared with 3,337 in fiscal year 1996. The 1996 operating budget for the agency is estimated to be $169 million, including construction. By comparison, the recommended request for fiscal year 1999 was approximately $207 million.

Juvenile crime prevention begins at home with tender loving care, proper health and nutrition, education, and appropriate discipline. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, the necessary guidance and nurturing of our state's children is not being provided. Early public and private juvenile prevention programs are absolutely essential to curb juvenile crime rates.

TYC recognizes the public wants assurance that if juveniles "do the crime, they do the time". Hopefully, with the necessary prevention, correctional, and rehabilitation programs in place, and if the expansion of TYC is authorized during the next session of the Texas Le~islature, fewer TYC youth will become inmates in our Texas prisons. Instead, the hope is that they will return to their homes and communities and become law-abiding responsible adult Texans.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This commentary was submitted by John W. Odam, TYC board member.


Violence no help

for Mexican unrest

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In his state of the nation speech ... Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo announced that his administration would pursue and punish the ``terrorist groups'' that attacked several cities last week and killed at least 16 people.

``Mexicans can no longer accept the appearance of terrorist groups who kill, destroy and threaten just when the country is overcoming adversity,'' Zedillo said. He's right. No country will ever succeed in lifting its people out of a financial crisis under a persistent threat of violence. So far, Zedillo has been on the right track in getting the country on its feet after a near economic collapse. ...

This is not to say that members of the Popular Revolutionary Army ... do not have a legitimate gripe. The group is calling for socialist political and economic reforms to improve the lives of Mexico's poor. More than 40 percent of the population is still hurting from the economic crisis that cost 1 million jobs, the failure of thousands of businesses and interest rates in the 100 percent mark.

But violence is not the solution. ...
-- El Paso Times


Dopes wear clothing

with `dope' logo

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Dear Editor:

Some of you know me. And for those of you who don't, let me just say I have a mouth. I am not perfect - not when it comes to being a housewife, mother or even a person. I do not claim to be "holier than thou," but have met a few people wbo think they are. On the other hand, I do believe in speaking out when I think something is really wrong. So, here I am today.

Tuesday afternoon I picked my son up from school. A teenager was there picking up his little brother, cousin, or some little person he obviously knew quite well. It is what the older boy was wearing that ticked me off royally. Right there on school property, the young man was wearing a cap with marijuana leaves depicted on it. I don't care if it is an adult or child. I thought this type of dress was not even allowed on school property!

Imagine the message this young man portrays for his even younger relatives. Worst of all, I can just imagine the type of role model this boy's parents are! "Come here son. Let me teach you how to roll a joint the right way. But keep your damned hands out of my private stash, or I'll knock you in to next week."

Parents, are you thick? Or what? Who the heck would let their children wear such clothing? It just tells people, "Hey, look at me. I'm a doper!" And it tells everyone you don't care enough about your own child to want something better for them. It's twice as disgusting when I see adults walk around with marijuana leaves pictured on their clothing. Jump back you freak. Stay away from me and my child. And plan on me embarrassing you in public when I see it on school grounds. My opinion only - but you don't have the right to try and drag my kid down with you.

Back off bucko. Get some ambition. Get a life. Most of the time, children pretty much act the way they are raised to act. And don't go crying and claiming innocence when you or your kid get busted. It's simply justice served and deserved.
-- Sue Thee-Hooker
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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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