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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, November 14, 2008

Veteran’s Day ceremonies held by area schools

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah and Balmorhea ISD celebrated Veteran’s Day on Tuesday, with several activities planned at the various P-B-T campuses and in downtown Balmorhea.

Pecos High School invited all veterans to eat at their campus on that day, while outside flags flew in the breeze and signs thanked the Veterans for their service. At Pecos Kindergarten a Veteran’s Day Program included served breakfast to those who served I the Armed Forces and a program was held to thank them.

Bessie Haynes Elementary thanked the veterans and their program included a choir performance by elementary students, while Austin Elementary dedicated their program to a second grade teacher, Debra Terry, who lost her battle with cancer recently. The program included music, poems, posters and a slide presentation. Guest speaker was Thomas Hughes, U.S. Marine Corps.

In Balmorhea, the Veteran’s Day event was held downtown in Memorial Park, were about 100 people attended Veterans Day Hot Dog lunch and an impromptu celebration to thank local Veterans for their service.

History teacher Doug Maynard brought his sophomore and seventh grade classes to provide the substance of why we celebrate Veterans Day, while seventh graders sang two songs, the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. High school students read various poems and recited the history of Veterans Day along with the losses of life in all wars starting with the American Revolution and up to the war on terrorism.

P-B-T board told first part of Crockett project finished

Construction at the various campuses is going well and the new Crockett Junior High School track is now open to the public, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members were told Wednesday night.

The board received an update from Superintendent Manny Espino on the current campus construction projects, during their regular meeting, held Wednesday evening at the Technology Center.

“We opened up the Crockett track about two days ago and trying to get the word out,” said Espino, who added that they had some problems keeping people out while the construction was taking place.

“That Sunday that they were doing the striping, I noticed some kids on the visitor’s side,” said Espino.

Espino said that he approached the youngsters and asked them how they had gotten in.

“There was a small opening in the fence that they were getting in through, but we’ve taken care of that,” he said.

Public access to the Crockett track will replace access to the Pecos High School track, which was repaved over the summer and then a corner redone last week due to vandalism.

“We are closing the high school track and want to install four lights at the Crockett track for those individuals who walk or run early in the morning or late at night,” said Espino.

The main project at Crockett is construction of new classrooms so the campus can be expanded to house sixth grade students. Espino said workers are installing face brick, mechanical, electrical and drywall, while at the gym/music room, underground plumbing is being installed.

“The tennis courts are pretty much done,” he said. “We are in the process of finalizing plans for the other projects, blueprints and getting specs.”

Espino said that the architect said that they would be getting better Guaranteed Maximum Price on the future projects, including the Austin Elementary reconstruction.

“He thinks that we’ll be coming in closer to budget than the Bessie Haynes project or the first couple of projects,” he said.

Repair work at the Pecos High School Natatorium was finished in September, and the carpet will be replaced during the Christmas holiday, according to Espino.

“The company that installed the carpet at the Monahans pool will be installing the one in Pecos as well,” said Espino. “The one that was in there really wasn’t what we needed.”

Espino said that the life expectancy of the carpet was from four to five years. “Hopefully, we can extend to six or seven years before we have to replace it again,” he said.

In other action, the board received good news from FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System for Texas), a financial accountability system for Texas school districts developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999.

“This is the sixth year that we have received a ‘superior rating,’” said financial director Cookie Canon.

She told the group that it took hard work and dedication from everyone to achieve this rating.

The primary goal of Schools FIRST is to achieve quality performance in the management of school districts’ financial resources, a goal made more significant due to the complexity of accounting associated with Texas’ school finance system.

The Superior Achievement rating is the state’s highest, demonstrating the quality of PBT-ISD’s financial management and reporting system.

The rating is placed on the information audited for the 2006-2007 school year.

“Prudent and cautious budgeting methods, and adhering to administrative purchasing guidelines have been only a few strategies for attaining ‘superior achievement,’” said Canon.

“With our dynamic community, the administration is fortunate to be able to work with the board of trustees and make necessary alterations to budgets, plans and actions to accommodate the needs of our student populations,” she said.

“If anyone has any questions they can contact Mr. Espino or me,” said Canon.

Constable win led Prieto to deputy’s job

Little did Victor Prieto know when he ran for constable in 1983 that he would spend a lifetime in law enforcement.

From that humble position of patrolling the streets at night and occasionally serving papers, Prieto has moved up to chief deputy for Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo Gomez.

He still patrols at night, as a contract security guard for the Pecos Housing Authority, but he spends his days supervising 11 deputies and handling all the paperwork for personnel and purchases.

Prieto was born and reared in Pecos, and he’s never left. “When I got elected constable, I went through the police academy, and Police Chief Troy Moore recruited me,” he said.

He wasn’t interested in being a police officer, but Moore was persistent, and in 1990 Prieto joined the city force.

“I went in with Jack Brookshire,” Prieto said. “Then he came to the sheriff’s office under Raul Florez.”

When Gomez beat Florez in a later sheriff’s race, Prieto became his chief deputy, and Brookshire returned to the city police force.

“We just traded uniforms,” said Prieto.

He still wears the same uniform, but with a white shirt and different shoulder patches.

“I am supposed to wear civilian clothes, but I am more comfortable in a uniform,” he said.

The uniform is appropriate for the courtroom, where Prieto has been bailiff for 16 years.

As bailiff, he especially enjoys the jury-selection process, because so many Reeves County citizens are in court.

“I like to mingle with people,” he said. “I get along great with (District Judge Bob) Parks and everybody at the courthouse.”

He also makes sure the deputies keep their county-owned vehicles in good working order, and fills in occasionally when they are short-handed or citizens request him specifically.

“I love it, and it is a good job,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of people.”

One of his most memorable tasks was to serve an arrest warrant on Sheriff Florez when he was charged with assaulting an employee at the law enforcement center, Eddy Markham.

Prieto went to Florez’s trailer home, where several deputies were backing up their boss. But he didn’t have to take Florez to jail, because Justice of the Peace Lamberto Herrera went with him to set bail and arrange for the sheriff’s release.

“Everything went peacefully, and we stayed friends,” Prieto said.

Working in the office by day and patrolling at night leaves Prieto with little personal time. When he does manage to get away, he enjoys visiting grandchildren in Odessa and Fort Stockton. His stepdaughter, Ida Baeza, also has three adopted children who live here, giving him seven grandchildren.

He does work out on a treadmill and stationary bike, along with going to the gym maintained by the sheriff’s office and another his son, Edward, owns in Fort Stockton. Edward is a state trooper. Twin daughters Marisa and Marlene are attending Odessa College. Marisa is working toward a degree in criminal justice, and Marlene will soon be a registered nurse.

His wife, Lupe, works at Trans Pecos Foods.

As if his duties as chief deputy and security guard weren’t enough, Prieto also does locksmithing on the side.

For someone who was content to be a part-time constable, he has come a long way.

New projects for Red Bluff are considered

Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members went over possible projects for the district, both in the area around Red Bluff Lake and around Imperial Reservoir, during their regular monthly meeting, held at the board’s West Second Street office on Tuesday.

Board members discussed canal work both above and below the reservoir, and the construction of fencing and new weirs near Red Bluff Dam.

Managing director Randal Hartman said the canal work would involve the structures, weirs and access roads in the Imperial area. “It will probably cost $10-$12,000, maybe a little more,” he said.

Board member Ava Gerke asked about fencing around the dam, which had been discussed at a previous meeting. District secretary Robin Prewit said Tommy Mosley, who handles maintenance for the district, said he had been quoted a price of $10,000 for a 6-foot fence to control access at the dam and spillway.

Red Bluff has benefited from mineral rights royalties increasing in recent years, which have helped the district’s bank account. “With all the money we have right now, we seem to be in good shape,” Gerke said. “Are we going to initiate any of the big projects we’ve been talking about?”

Hartman said one project the district needs to look at is new weirs on the Pecos River below Red Bluff dam to calculate seepage from the dam, which was built between 1934 and 1936. He estimated the cost at about $50,000, and said the weirs need to be housed in some concrete structure.

“We need to do something that the hogs won’t root up,” he said, adding that feral hogs have been causing problems for the district’s structures at the lake and along the river.

Gerke said they had problems with the hogs, which can weigh over a quarter ton, at their farm in the Barstow area, but that a trapper had removed a number of the animals, while others had been taken care of by a mountain lion that has been seen in areas near the Pecos River around Barstow.

Hartman asked Gerke to get in touch with the trapper, who sells the hogs for food, to see if he could set up in the Red Bluff Dam area, where packs of hogs have been a problem for several years.

“We’ve got them, and we can’t get rid of them, but we can control them to a point,” he said.

Hartman also asked the board to look at a new pickup for Moseley, after the 2006 Toyota Tundra he currently has suffered valve and engine damage.

“I hate to spend money on it, because it’s going to cost $6,000 or $7,000,” Hartman said, adding that the truck already has between 180,000 and 200,000 miles on the odometer due to its heavy use along the Pecos River between the New Mexico state line and Girvin.

“There’s not much we can do about a lot of these things,” he said. “Just to cross the dam and back is 10 miles.”

Hartman added that the district can go through the same company they purchased a backhoe through to buy the pickup. “We don’t have to go through bids, because they take care of that,” he said, while board member Jay Lee said the vehicle’s cost would come in under the $25,000 required for bidding.

The water report for Red Bluff Lake showed a net increase of 2,000 acre/feet during October, but the lake level remained at only 61,615 acre/feet, down 43,595 acre/feet from the start of the release season. However, Hartman said recent water releases by New Mexico should help things a little bit over the next few weeks.

“We may end up with about 74,000 (acre/feet),” he told the board.

Chamber briefed on homebuilder’s plans

Pecos Chamber of Commerce members heard a presentation from a local businessman on Tuesday, who is trying to fill the need for housing in for the community.

Billy Dale Toone, with Caliche Flats, was on hand for Tuesday’s regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce meeting. He told the group that he was seeing a need for homes and that is why he decided to come to Pecos and build houses.

“We have completed one that is located at 1704 Hackberry and have secured other lots to build other houses,” said Toone. He said that the price of metal is rising, but that they build homes in different sizes and prices.

“Our contractor has 25 years experience,” said Toone.

He said that another project that they are looking into would be located in the southern part of the county, after they were approached about possibly building a little development around Balmorhea Lake.

“We’re looking at building 20-25 homes within 18 months,” said Toone. “We’re also looking at having an office at the TransPecos bank.”

He showed the group a model of the homes that his group plans to build, but said that they can build other models according to the customer.

In other items, plans for the Christmas Parade are underway, according to Elsa Palomino, who reported this during the regular meeting.

“This year’s theme is the 12 Days of Christmas,” said Palomino.

The parade is scheduled for Dec. 5, lineup at 5:30 p.m., at the Pecos High School Baseball Field and the parade to commence at 6 p.m.

The parade will travel down Eddy Third and Oak streets, and will end at the Reeves County Courthouse, where there will be hot chocolate and cookies.

Santa will be on hand for the annual event and everyone is encouraged to participate, according to Palomino.

“Do they have to build the float with all the days of Christmas?” asked board president Venetta Seals.

“No, they can just pick a day and we will have a list at the chamber office, if people don’t remember what they are,” said Palomino.

Local businessman Leo Hung talked to the group about the 8th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting held at Maxey Park, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

The event will once again include tree lighting and fireworks, and Hung said this year’s fireworks display would be bigger and better.

“We will also have vendors selling burritos and other things,” he said. “There will also be hot chocolate and cookies, following the event.”

Seals told the group that this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner would be sponsored by Sulema Ulate and some of her volunteers.

“She has asked the Lion’s Club members to help her and several of us have planned to do so,” said Seals. “There is also an account set up at West Texas National Bank if anybody wants to donate to this cause.”

She said that Ulate is also asking for help with cornbread and other items needed for the holiday meal.

Women’s Division President Gail Box told the group that the Annual Mother Goose Parade was a success, as was the Fire/EMS Appreciation Dinner held recently and sponsored by the women’s group.

“We didn’t have a guest speaker this year, but they really enjoyed it,” said Box. “We will be having our Christmas lighting contest next and then we will work on the chamber of commerce banquet.”

Board member Greer Willis said that they are hoping to have another Dave Ramsey Seminar in January.

“The last one was a success and we want to have another one, but plan on choosing another night to have it on,” said Willis. Willis said that the seminar is a 13-week course and that there is also a one-day seminar that can be scheduled for businesses.

Graduation project committee seeks donations for event

The 2009 Project Graduation Committee is organizing a safe, drug and alcohol free night for the 2009 graduating class of Pecos High School.

Support and involvement from the community is needed to make this a safe and memorable night for the Senior Class.

Project Graduation began in Maine 20 years ago in the response to the tragic loss of 18 lives in alcohol and drug related crashes following graduation. The first “Project Graduation” night was such a hit that it was quickly adopted by other high schools throughout the nation.

Project Graduation invites every student in the graduating class to participate in a fun and safe evening. The students will arrive at the Reeves County Civic Center by 10 p.m., on May 29, 2009, the night of the graduation ceremony.

There will be food, dancing, games and a talent show. The students will have numerous opportunities to win door prizes. The celebration will end at 6 a.m. with breakfast. Students will not be allowed to leave prior to this time until parents are contacted. This “lock-in” party has been very successful in the past because of the support and donations from parents, businesses and the community.

The committee’s goal is to raise $30,000 to make this the best project graduation possible for the seniors. All funds received will go towards this event, according to organizers of the event.

In addition, the committee will be busy with other fundraisers, such as football stadium cleaning, a booth at the rodeo and fall fair and many others.

All businesses or individuals that donate will have their name listed on the website as well as being given a sign to hang.

For more information contact Cindy Duke at 432-940-2245 or Debbie Garcia at 432-448-6627.

PHS blood drive set for Wednesday

Pecos High School National Honor Society will be sponsoring a Blood Drive from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., in the New Gym Foyer, on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

To give blood, donors must be at least 110 pounds, donors who are 16 years must have a permission form signed by a parent.

For more information call 447-7400.

“Sound of Texas” marks 40th year

Tumbleweed Smith will be celebrating 40 years with “The Sound of Texas!”

Everyone is invited to come meet Tumbleweed Smith, beginning at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 19, at KIUN, 316 S. Cedar St.

Individuals can also purchase the newly released 40th anniversary CD and have it personally autographed.

Refreshments will be served.

Credit by exam dates set

Credit by Examination (without prior instruction), sign up deadline will be Friday November 21, in the counselor’s office at Pecos High School. Students can sign up with Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola.

Test dates are Dec. 8, 9, 10, at 3:36 p.m. at Pecos High School. Credit by examination for acceleration allows students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 to be awarded credit toward high school graduation for acceleration.

Students who wish to obtain credit for any class that counts toward graduation may apply to take the examination for acceleration. The student may not have been previously enrolled in the class. Application may be obtained from the student’s guidance counselor.

Credit is granted to student’s who attain 90 percent or above mastery on the examination for acceleration. The test will only be administered once in the fall and spring semesters. A copy of the testing schedule and application deadlines may be obtained in the counseling office.

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