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for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 17, 2006

PHS swimmer withdraws from state meet

Staff Writers

A Pecos High School swimmer whose parents filed an injunction last week over a disciplinary action handed down by the school has withdrawn from participating in the Class 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships.

Kyle Winkles, a junior at Pecos High School who was named outstanding swimmer last weekend at the Region I-4A Swimming and Diving Championships in Lubbock, will not participate in the state meet on Feb. 24-25 in Austin.

The announcement was made by Winkles and his parents, Ken Winkles Jr. and Teresa Winkles, in a letter presented to Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD officials and board members on Wednesday. But the family said it will continue to seek a permanent injunction against the district over the punishment, which resulted from a Jan. 31 incident.

“We want to clarify the reason for the suit that we have filed against the school district. We feel that the school is attempting to punish Kyle a second time for an offense which he has already been punished,” the Winkles wrote in their letter. “We do not feel that additional punishment is warranted. We want to assure you that at no time was this matter ever about swimming.

“This is about Kyle’s education and doing what is right,” the family said.

“With this in mind, Kyle has voluntarily withdrawn himself from the Pecos High School swim team that will compete at the State swim meet in Austin on February 24-25. He feels that his education is more important than the public perception that we are doing this in order for him to continue to compete in swimming.

“We ask that you please take this letter into consideration in this matter so that it can be resolved in a fair and just way,” they concluded in the letter.

Winkles was one of two students involved in the Jan. 31 incident. School officials said the punishment, which the family is contesting, was for a violation of the student code of conduct, and included removal to the district’s alternative education program, along with suspension from participating in any extracurricular events.

The injunction, which was filed on Feb. 9, allowed the junior to compete at last weekend’s Region I-4A meet, where Winkles won gold medals in both his individual events, and qualified for the state meet in those events, as well as two relay events.

Pecos will still be able to participate at state in the two relay events, the 200 yard and 400 yard freestyle races, while alternates from other schools will replace Winkles in his two individual events, the 50 yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.

P-B-T cuts lists for head coach, superintendent

The list of candidates for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD superintendent’s position has been narrowed to two, while the committee to select a new athletic director and Pecos High School head football coach has chosen five finalists and six alternates out of a field of over two dozen hopefuls, following the end of the application period on Wednesday.

P-B-T Interim Superintendent Bob McCall released the names of the 11 head football and AD candidates Thursday morning, while Ernesto Martinez, area representative for the Texas Association of School Boards, which is advising the district in the selection process, said the names of the school superintendent candidates would not be released until the finalist is selected.

“As part of our search process, we only release the name of the finalist. We won’t release the names of the others to protect their privacy,” Martinez said, adding that the two finalists will be interviewed by the school board on Sunday and Monday.

“They both have experience in West Texas. Both are very familiar with the area,” he said. One of the two does have previous experience as a school superintendent. “Both of the finalists are very well qualified,” Martinez said.

The school board is looking at March 1 as the day they will announce their selection, as part of a special meeting of the school board. Under the rules, final approval of that candidate would have to wait another 21 days after the name is released to the public.

The position came open at the end of December, when Ray Matthews resigned to take a similar position with Marlin ISD, after 1 1/2 years on the job. McCall has been serving as interim superintendent since Jan. 3.

March 1 is also scheduled to be the date the district names its new athletic director and head football coach. The district has been taking applications for the position since board members decided on Jan. 3 not to renew the contract of Patrick Willis. Wednesday was the final day to apply, and the district’s selection committee held a 5 p.m. meeting to cut down the list from about 65 names to five who will be interviewed next week, and six others who could be interviewed before the March 1 deadline.

“They’re either current in a head coach’s or athletic director’s job, or if they’re an assistant, they’re at a much larger school district,” McCall said Thursday morning. “Of those who applied, probably 20 of them were head coaches or athletic directors, or had head football or AD experience.”

In alphabetical order, the five finalists are:

-- Claude L. Bassett, currently athletic director and head football coach at Robstown High School;

-- Chris B. Henson, currently athletic director and head football coach at Marfa High School;

-- Robert Hernandez, currently athletic director and head football coach at Rocksprings High School;

-- Randy C. Josey, currently defensive line coach at Midland Lee High School;

-- Coby L. Owen, currently assistant varsity football coach at Crane High School.

Josey is currently an assistant coach for Randy Quisenberry at Midland Lee, which is where Willis began work on Feb. 1 after he and P-B-T ISD worked out an early release from his contract as head coach and AD. Owen is assistant to Randy Doege at Crane, but formerly was head coach and AD at Junction High School.

The six alternates are Rob Abernathie of Fort Worth; Mario Heredia of Abilene; Jay McCook of Hart; David Stickels of Mount Vernon; John Derrick Taylor of Lamesa and Jeff Walker of Katy.

Willis’ contract was not renewed after Pecos went through back-to-back 1-9 seasons, after a 3-7 record in Willis’ first season. Pecos was 1-8 in their only season under Fred Carter, after qualifying for the playoffs for four straight years as a member of the El Paso-based District 2-4A.

Pecos will be moving back into an El Paso-based football district this fall, when they become part of District 1-3A. However, unlike their previous trip out west, Monahans and Fort Stockton will join the Eagles for the next two seasons. Former 2-4A rivals Clint and Fabens, along with Anthony and Tornillo, which petitioned to play Class 3A football despite only having Class 2A enrollment, are the other teams in the district.

“It’s been a good process. Moving west helped, as far as the applicants,” McCall said.

Interviews are scheduled for next Monday and Wednesday, and committee members are expected to visit the campuses of the finalists before presenting their selection to the school board on March 1. Officials hope to have the new head coach and athletic director in place by the beginning of April.

Most local primary candidates agree to speak

Thirteen of 14 invited candidates were expected to participate in the Issues Forum Thursday night, for four area and local races in the March 7 Democratic Party primary.

The event was scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. at the Pecos High School auditorium, and John Grant, one of the organizers for the event, said only incumbent Precinct 4 Commissioner Gilberto “Hivi” Rayos did not respond to invitations to be part of the event, which was to be moderated by Terry Gilmour, Midland College Associate Professor of Government.

Those who have agreed to participate include Reeves County Judge candidates Israel Campos, Sam Contreras, Bernardo “Chaquen” Martinez, Alfred Gomez and Grace Jaso Renteria; Precinct 2 commissioner candidates Alvesia “Tita” Tarin, Gabriel Martinez and incumbent Norman Hill and Precinct candidates Ramiro “Ram” Guerra, Conchita M. Hernandez and Alex Ramirez, who are challenging Rayos for the seat.

In addition, State Sen. Frank Madla and challenger Carlos Ureste were also set attend the Thursday night forum, which comes four days before the start of early voting for the March 7 election.

Grant said under the format, a candidate will have two minutes to answer the question directed at them by Gilmour, and then one of their opponents will be asked for a one-minute rebuttal. The first candidate will then get another minute to answer the rebuttal statement.

The questions were drawn from ones turned in by local residents. Candidates were given advanced looks at the questions, though not all the candidates may answer certain questions. Candidates were to be allowed to read written statements in response to specific questions, but would have to limit their answers to the questions asked by Gilmour.

School board weighs prom funding, bus purchases

Fundraisers to raise money for a junior-senior prom and purchasing new buses for the school district were topics of discussion at the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting held last Thursday.

The group discussed fundraising activities for the junior/senior prom, while delaying any action on the purchase of two new buses for the district until getting more information on their options.

Pecos High School vice-principal Jim Workman told the board that the students want to have the first school-sponsored prom. “They haven’t had a school-sponsored prom in a long time,” said Workman, who explained that the students had gotten a late start in their fundraising activities.

“They allow one fundraiser per function and the kids are requesting that they can do more than one to raise funds for this event,” he said.

Workman said that the students wanted juniors and seniors to raise funds and then have sophomores as servers.

“Do the kids understand that the money stays with the school and not the parents?” asked finance director Cookie Canon.

“They don’t have anything to do with the money after they raise it, the sponsors will take care of it,” Workman said.

Canon also suggested that they have something in writing.

“I personally think it’s a great idea for the school to sponsor the prom,” said interim superintendent Bob McCall.

Workman said that the sponsors and would handle the money. “It’s typically not a problem when we do it this way,” he said.

Board member David Flores asked if there were any funds that the school could contribute to them.

“We want them to work for it a little bit,” said Workman.

McCall told the group that the district had a number of buses that were over 10 year old with over 100,000 miles.

“If you’re issue is safety, you really need to start looking at new buses,” said McCall. “There are some that can be painted in school colors and this is something you probably need to be thinking about.”

Transportation director Jimmy Dutchover said that they had had a plan to buy two buses every two years, but that the district had gotten away from that in 2002-2003, and as a result, the district hasn’t purchased a new bus in four years.

“If we’re going to look at safety of the kids, we need to start looking at Blue Birds,” said McCall.

“Before we hadn’t looked at Blue Bird buses because they had to be served in Lubbock, but now they can be serviced in Midland and Odessa,” said Dutchover.

“We have three or four that really need to be retired,” he said.

McCall said that the company offers a lease-purchase plan that would fit the school district. “There are several different ways that they can be financed,” he said.

“I think we need to prioritize what we have on the list,” said Canon.

She told the group that there is a list of items that the district needs to purchase. The list includes buses, but also several other items.

“If we wait a month or two, can we still get them for next year?” asked board member Amy Miller.

“Eventually, we’ll need to get them,” said Flores, who made a motion to purchase two of the buses.

The motion died for lack of a second.

Board members opted to get more information on the buses, before making the purchase.

Chamber hears downtown plan, pageant events

Plans for the Annual Golden Girl Pageant and the possible purchase of the old Pecos Garment Factory building were discussed during the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting, held Tuesday at noon.

Members were told registration s for this year’s Golden Girl Pageant will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, at Odessa College, Room 107. The girls must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“The new thing is that this year there won’t be a style show,” said Chamber director Linda Gholson. “They used to do a style show to help raise funds, but there isn’t going to be one this year,” she said.

Gholson also told the group that the new president of the Women’s Division of the chamber is Gail Box.

“She won’t be able to make our meetings, but will be reporting to us,” said Gholson. Main Street Director Tom Rivera spoke about the possibility of getting the old factory building deeded to the city.

“We’re hoping they’ll deed it to the city for our Main Street program, the way they did the old Woolworth building,” said Rivera.

Rivera said that it would be one more downtown facility that could be used for different things.

“We were thinking it could be used for a regional flea market,” said Rivera, who told members they wanted to fix it up from the outside.

“There’s a building within a building, that use to house the office portion of the factory and restrooms, and it is in good shape,” he said. “There 20,000 square feet and the floors are in excellent condition,” he said.

Rivera told the group that the Main Street group is working hard to get downtown projects started.

“The first block we’ll work on is the City Hall block, which is one of the main ones people see when they come into town,” said Debbie Thomas.

Thomas and Rivera provided a draft of their landscaping plans for the 600 block of South Oak Street. Outside funds are being sought for the project.

The advertising and tourism committee will meet in March to see how they will be spending their funds, according to Gholson.

“The Rotarians have also asked if we could pay for the Christmas lights out at the park,” said Gholson. “This isn’t for the lights, it’s just the electric bill, which was $1,700.”

West of the Pecos Rodeo plans are coming along great, according to rodeo committee member Clay McKinney.

“We got Ryan Rodriguez as our barrel man, he has performed in some of the bigger rodeos,” said McKinney. “Chad Beavers will be here also,” he said.

McKinney said that eight new members have joined the rodeo committee. “Our committee is growing, which is great, because that means more people helping,” he said.

McKinney said that committee members were worried about the condition of the rodeo arena. “We’ll need to look into that and see what can be done,” he said.

Bumper stickers for the rodeo are in and can be purchased from any committee member or the chamber office.

Things went great at the Annual Reeves County Livestock Show and the barbecue sale was a big success.

“We didn’t get a lot of cobbler entries this year, but maybe next year more people will participate in that,” said Gholson.

Benavides first candidate to file for May’s election

Signups to run for a position on the Town of Pecos City Council, Reeves County Hospital Board and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board have already begun, and one incumbent has filed so far to retain their seat for another two years.

Michael Benavides has signed up to run for the position of councilman, a position he has held for the past five years. The positions of Benavides, Angelica Valenzuela and Mayor Dot Stafford are up for election this year.

In the hospital board election, the at-large position of Leo Hung and the positions of Brenda McKinney and Terry Honnacker will be decided in the May 13 election. McKinney was appointed to the Precinct 1 seat following the death last year of Chel Florez, while Honnacker replaced Bill Wendt as Precinct 3 member, following his death in August of 2004.

In the P-B-T ISD election, the seats currently held by Amy Montgomery Miller and Steve Valenzuela will be up for election. The school board seats are three-year terms, while the council and hospital district positions are for two years.

To sign up to run in the city council race, individuals can do so at city hall with city secretary Connie Levario; to sign up for a position on the hospital board, they can contact Nadine Smith at Reeves County Hospital and to sign up to run for a position on the school board, individuals can contact Tracy Shaw at the school administration office.

City elections also will be held on May 13 in Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea, along with the Balmorhea ISD board election. This year’s voting will be held on the second Saturday in May instead of the first Saturday, as the result of a measure passed by the Texas Legislature.

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