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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 29, 2008

School board OKs budget, cut in tax rate

A lower tax rate, budget amendments and the adoption of the budget by fund and function were approved by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah board members, during a special meeting held Tuesday in the Technology Center.

P-B-T ISD Financial Director Cookie Canon presented the board with the budget and proposed tax rate during the special meeting, which will cut the school’s tax rate by 15 cents for every $100 in valuation.

Tuesday’s meeting was also a public hearing. There were no comments on the new tax rate or budget, and the board approved both as presented.

The board agreed set the new tax rate at $1.221 per $100 in valuation. Canon said of that total, $1.04 will be for the purpose of maintenance and operation and $.181 for the purpose of payment and principal and interest on debts.

Canon told the group that the tax rate for the past year had been $1.37. Increases in oil, gas and property valuations within P-B-T ISD allowed for the decline in the tax rate.

“I would like for you to approve the budget by fund and function, this way if we have to make any changes I don’t have to come to the board to do it each time, item by item,” said Canon.

“That way I’m able to amend without a function,” she said.

“Cookie and her staff do a great job with the budget and everything looks good,” said PBT-ISD Superintendent Manny Espino. During a previous board meeting held last week, the board had approved the hiring of a new assistant principal at the Pecos High School. The board agreed to hire Omar Salgado to replace Bonnie Herndon who has left the district.

Robert Ormsby was also approved for hire during the meeting. He will be an inclusion teacher at Crockett Middle School.

In other action on Tuesday, the board approved the appointment of board member Randy Graham as a TASB delegate with Bill Oglesby as alternate.

Board members were also presented the enrollment figures for the first two days of school this week, which showed an increase in the number of students attending P-B-T ISD.

Total attendance on Tuesday was 2,188 students, as opposed to the 2007-2008 school year which showed 2,157 on the second day of school.

Pecos Kindergarten had a total of 261 students, up from 240 last year; Austin Elementary had 503, down from last year’s 518; Bessie Haynes Elementary had 330, up from 304; Zavala Elementary had152 students, down from 174; Crockett Middle School had 312, up from 304; Pecos High School had 609 up from 590 last year, and Lamar AEP figures showed 21 students as opposed to last year’s 27.

Six busted on drug charges after Tuesday raid by police

Six people were arrested Wednesday, after officers with the Pecos Police Department executed a search warrant and discovered illegal substances in the home of one of the individuals.

Officers from the Pecos Police Department said the six, ranging in age from 17 to 22 years old, were arrested after they executed a narcotics search warrant at 7:50 p.m., at 1005 S. Ash St., the home of Joe Anthony Calanchi.

“Once the SWAT team had secured the occupants of the residence, officers proceeded to search the property,” said Pecos Police Officer Paul Deishler.

The report stated that during the search of the residence, officers located inside and outside the residence, a substance believed to be cocaine.

“Also found inside the residence was paraphernalia, which is commonly used with the smoking of marijuana, and paraphernalia, which is used with the weighing of narcotics,” said Deishler.

After the officers completed their search, they arrested: Joshua Chavez Vela, 19, with the offense of possession of marijuana,

possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence; Carlos Lee Vela, age 20, Marisol Morales Mata, 17 years of age and Jessica Ornelas Jurado, 22 years old, were charged with the offenses of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia; Miguel Natividad, 17 years old and Joe Anthony Calanchi, 18 years old, were charged with offenses of possession of controlled substance (cocaine), possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

All the defendants were transported to the Criminal Justice Center and released to the jail staff for booking on the stated offenses.

Balmorhea hosts cook-off, dance for Labor Day weekend festival

Music, food and a cabrito cook-off are all part of the annual Labor Day Weekend festivities scheduled for Saturday in Downtown Balmorhea.

A variety of food vendors will have booths set up along the streets in Downtown Balmorhea, along with novelty items.

Festivities will begin early Saturday morning and music provided by D.J. Ritmo, from noon until 4 p.m. Junja Jams will then take over as D.J. for the outdoor festivities from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.

A dance with music by Pinche Gringos will be held from 8 p.m. until midnight.

“We want everyone to come out and join us for all the fun,” said Pat Smith, a member of the Keep Balmorhea Beautiful Committee, sponsors of the Labor Day events.

A possible horseshoe tournament is also been planned and anyone wanting to participate can contact Smith at 940-0590.

The softball tournament that is held yearly along with these many activities has been cancelled for this year, but other events are being planned, according to Smith.

“We just want everyone to come have fun and to join the cabrito cook-off,” said Smith.

Anyone wanting to enter the cook-off can contact Smith.

Acosta stays active after retiring from mine

It was the farming boom of the 1950s that brought Faustino “Tino” Acosta to Pecos, but it was digging deeper into the ground that helped him raise five children here.

Tino was born in Grandfalls, moved to New Mexico with his family, then to Pecos.

“My dad worked 40 years for John Dorr (on the farm),” he said. “They grew up together.”

Deciding he wanted to go out and see what was beyond Pecos, Acosta joined the Navy in 1952 and served on a minesweeper and a carrier during the Korean War.

“I’ll never forget, we used to go on R&R to Sasebo, Japan. I got to be friends with some sailors and asked how much money I should take. They said $20 or $30. It was 360 Yen to a dollar, so they gave me a big old sack of money,” said Acosta.

After spending 30 days in Corona Naval Hospital in 1953, Acosta found his minesweeper had left on maneuvers, so he was assigned to a carrier. It turned out to be the same carrier that presidential candidate John McCain was assigned to when his plane was shot down in Vietnam 15 years later and he was captured.

“We sailed out with a flagship, because we had the admiral,” he said. “We went to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, and then back to Hawaii.”

Acosta choked up as he described the scene at Pearl Harbor.

“It was sad, because when you go by the USS Arizona (which the Japanese sank) you wear dress blues and salute,” he said. “It is still there where it got sunk.”

Returning to Oakland, Calif. with three months’ service left, Acosta came home and married Lupe Sanchez. He was discharged Dec. 20, 1955 and made it home for Christmas. He celebrated his Dec. 22 birthday on the long bus ride.

Acosta helped his father “a little bit” on the Dorr farm before taking a job at the test track, working for Frank Harper and Tommy Beauchamp.

“I was driving a diesel truck and training truck drivers,” he said. “Then they put me in the tire room, where you get all the data on wear, hardness, etc., and send it to headquarters.”

On Sundays, Acosta worked with the high-speed tests, checking tires after each period at a certain speed to see what kind of wear and how much heat was generated.

“One morning I was going to work and heard there was a big company coming to Pecos. They had a little plant in Fort Stockton, so I went there and applied. That afternoon I had a call to take the physical, which I passed. I told them I had worked eight years at the track and wanted to give them a week’s notice,” Acosta said.

His new employer was the Culberson County Plant, better known as the Duval Sulphur Mine.

“We had to drive to Orla and head west on a dirt road where they mined back in the 30’s,” he said.

Reeves County Commissioners and Duval later worked with the state of Texas to build a Farm to Market road to the sulphur plant.

“At the time they started out, there was only two Hispanics; me and Joe Martinez,” said Acosta. “We just did the best job we could. The plant was being built. We worked in a labor gang, then were put on rigs.”

When the field superintendent told Acosta he wanted him to become a driller, Acosta balked and said he would prefer to drive a truck. So they put him to hauling pipe.

“Pretty soon he pulled me off and gave me a crew to lay some lines of pipe. When we finished, he made me an equipment operator. Phillip Tyree, who later would manage the mining operation, helped put in production wells and taught the crews how. Bill “Catfish” Abercrombie then became Acosta’s supervisor, and as he moved up the chain of command, Acosta followed, eventually becoming general foreman for the whole field, supervising six crews.

He remembers well the computer training.

“I was over 60 years old,” he said. But he learned to input information that would help keep track of everything in the field. He also drove the employee bus to and from work, and on out-of-town trips.

Acosta, Jack Hamilton, Abercrombie and others took early retirement, and since then “Tino” has spent many hours serving God through Santa Rosa Catholic Church.

“I always help at the church,” he said. “I am slowing down because I am a diabetic.”

He may be slow, but Acosta keeps busy, mowing the yard, driving himself and his wife to doctors and “doing most everything unless it is big and I need help.

“My next step might be the Almighty will pull the string, and maybe I will get a break,” he said.

Budget process going easier for city in ’08

Budget workshops this week for the Town of Pecos City were a lot less stressful than those of recent years, as improved finances allowed most of the proposed department budgets to be tentatively approved as presented to city council members. The council was scheduled to meet Thursday evening at City Hall and get their first official look at the 2008-09 budget, but were briefed during workshops on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday about the plans for the various departments.

City Manager Joseph Torres said one item given tentative approval by the council was the addition of $75,000 into the fund for construction of the city’s new animal shelter. “They added $75,000 to the $50,000 carried over from last year,” he said.

The new facility will be built behind the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. The total cost of the building is estimated at $260,000, and the council plans have city finance director John Phillip seek bank financing to fund the start of the project when bids on construction come in later this year.

The main concern of the council during the hearing on Monday was the continuing problem with the deficit run by the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. The city was able to receive an increase in payments from the U.S. Marshal’s Service last year for keeping up to 96 federal prisoners at the facility, after the U.S. Department of Labor forced the city to raise starting salaries at the CJC above the level specified in the original 2001 contract.

“The CJC budget is going very smoothly,” said Phillip. “When we started, we thought a major loss was coming, but it’s going very smoothly.”

Council member Danny Rodriguez asked police chief Clay McKinney if the city could seek reimbursement from the Marshal’s Service for items such as training. McKinney and mayor Dick Alligood said the city was limited there, because the CJC was not certified as a jail school.

“We’re not teaching a jail course, just mandatory classes,” McKinney said.

He said funds also are being set aside for problems with seepage of water into the concrete foundation that was causing rust stains on the floor of the building.

Rodriguez later asked city building inspector Jack Brookshire if the city could focus on cleaning up the main highway entrances to Pecos, instead of on other areas of town with their current program that involves the demolition of abandoned buildings.

“I don’t have any idea as far as the cost. I’ll probably have to get with Edgardo (Madrid, city public works director) to work out something,” Brookshire said.

Former city streets department and current Pecos Main Street director Martin Arreguy said some of the abandoned buildings still have owners that limit their demolition, while removing abandoned gas stations also involves the cost of underground cleanup. He said Odessa has put up fencing on its West Second Street entry to hide some of the more dilapidated buildings and yards, and Pecos could also look at that option.

“That would at least hide it, because some of those businesses are still in operation,” he said. “That’s the cheaper option and it has less impact on the landfill than tearing down that stuff.”

Arreguy also said the city could look at working with Reeves County on the project, which might allow the use of Reeves County Jail inmates to help with the clean-up efforts.

Council members did agree to fund purchase of a small front end loaded at a cost of $25,000 for demolition work on smaller properties.

PEDC to fund boosting power for new homes

Pecos Economic Development Corp. 4B board members agreed to two separate expenditures of $7,000, during their meeting held at noon on Wednesday at City Hall.

The board agreed to a $7,000 pay increase for executive director Robert Tobias, following his six-month evaluation in executive session, and agreed to spend up to $7,024 to install higher wattage transformers in the area where up to 50 new homes are proposed for construction.

City manager and PEDC board member Joseph Torres said Antonio Briones, whose West Texas Dream Houses is building six new homes in the 800 block between Washington and Adams streets, made the request for help getting the higher powered transformers put in by Texas New Mexico Power Co. He said the board agreed to pay up to $7,025 to replace the 25-kilowatt transformers with 100 kw units, and told Tobias to begin negotiations with T-NMP.

Along with the salary increase for the executive director, the board approved the 2008-09 budget and 2007-08 budget amendments for the 4B PEDC, but took no action on a request to relocate the PEDC’s offices to a building owned by the corporation on South Oak Street.

Also approved was the 4A PEDC budget and budget amendments. The 4B PEDC replaced the 4A corporation in October of last year, but the 4B remains in operations until obligations it undertook during its nine years of operations are concluded.

RCH to keep same tax rate to lift income

New doctors in Pecos will mean more expenditures on equipment for Reeves County Hospital, board members were told during their meeting Tuesday night, when they approved one of those expenditures while voting on a preliminary tax rate for 2009 that would be unchanged from this year.

Board members voted to spend just under $100,000 to buy a new blood bank analyzer for the hospital’s lab, and later opted to keep the current tax rate of .38602 cents per $100 in valuations for the upcoming year. With the increase in property values due to rising oil and natural gas prices, the move will bring the hospital an estimated $280,000 in additional funds next year, but also opens the district up to the possibility of a tax rollback election.

“Only the portion between the current and the effective rates is subject to the rollback,” hospital CEO Al LaRochelle told members prior to their vote.

The board was asked to vote on a preliminary rate in order to begin the process of holding public hearings before a final vote on the hospital district’s new budget and tax rate at the end of September. They were told that the effective tax rate, which would raise the same amount of money as this year, would be .35757 cents, while the rollback rate, the maximum allowed without the possibility of a rollback election, would be .36453 cents.

Hospital CEO Al LaRochelle said using the rollback rate would give the board an additional $80,000 per year, and would also require public hearings.

“We’ve got to build up our reserves for the future,” he told the board. “It needs to be built up slowly over time, and that’s going to take time.”

LaRochelle said the hospital needs to look at building up about a $5 million cash reserve for any future unforeseen expenses. “That’s a whole lot of money to the district, especially with the money we’re going to have to spend,” said board member Brenda McKinney.

The approval of the new blood analyzer came following a presentation by Carlo Viray, the hospital’s medical technician lab director. He asked the board to look at replacing the 15-year-old manual machine the hospital currently uses with a new automatic analyzer.

“This is the only portion of the lab that’s not automated,” Viray said. “It’s really labor intensive, and takes 45-60 minutes of hands-on work.”

He said the new machine would do the same work in just over 10 minutes, and was more reliable than the current system. “The tech can do some other blood work while this is running,” Viray added.

Board member Leo Hung asked what lab workers would do with the time saved by the new machine.

“They have about 90 hours of overtime every pay period,” said hospital financial officer Frank Seals, while Viray said they expect their workload to increase with the impending arrival of four new doctors at the hospital.

The analyzer would cost $98,000 plus shipping to purchase, while a lease agreement, which would include supplies for the machine, would cost the district $220,000 over a five-year period. Seals said the more the machine was used, the faster the district would be able to pay it off.

Both options would also require a $1,250 a month service and maintenance agreement

“Part of the reason we’re looking at this is we’re going to start doing more OBs (deliveries) here,” LaRochelle said. “We’re going to get some of the cost back.”

“We do have more (equipment) coming down the line towards you call, and we’re trying to be conservative,” he said. “If you’re scared of this one, you’re going to be petrified about some of the others.”

One of those pending items is a new chemical analyzer. “This one is more important,” Hung said, and asked if they should spend money on that before the blood analyzer.

LaRochelle said the chemical analyzer would be in next year’s budget. Viray said the current machine was fairly reliable, but had problems producing correct readings if it heated up too much.

“We don’t expect you to approve everything we bring you. Our job is to bring these things to you and let you know the score,” LaRochelle said. “We’re in the process of bringing this new technology to Pecos, so we don’t continue to have an exodus of people going down the road for primary health care, instead of staying home.”

“It sounds like to me we need to get going for when the new doctors come on board,” said Breese, who made the motion to buy the blood analyzer instead of going with the lease-to-own option. The board then approved the measure, and told Seals to look at financing part of the purchase price through the local banks.

The board also approved an emergency purchase of a compact endoscope reprocessor for surgery. The current equipment, which is designed to clean endoscopes and colonoscopies, broke and a new one was bought prior to Tuesday’s meeting. In other action, the board also approved medical privileges for two of the new doctors recruited to work in Pecos, Dr. Sam E. Kim and Dr. Sayeeda Bilkis, and voted to offer a contract to Dr. Mohit Bansal, who will be available to begin practice here in 2009.

LaRochelle said the contract was the same as those already approved for the other new physicians, except for a difference in cost due to Bansal’s J-1 immigration status.

“He has already signed the contract. We just wanted to let you know,” LaRochelle said. He added that Dr. Bansal is one of the new obstetricians being recruited by the hospital district.

Richards, Juarez exchange wedding vows in Pecos

Kimberly Richards and Michael Juarez exchanged wedding vows at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, at the First Baptist Church, with Dr. James R. Miles of Fort Stockton officiating.

The bride is the daughter of Gary and Maureen “Jo” Richards of Pecos, is a senior at Sul Ross State University and currently employed by Pecos EMS.

The groom is the son of the late Tony and Nyda Juarez of Pecos. He is a 1997 graduate of Pecos High School and is employed at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department.

Maid of honor for the happy occasion was Jordon Heagy; Kourtney Graves, of Alpine served as bridesmaid and flower girl was Aslyn Pippen of Odessa.

Roy Herrera, of Carlsbad, N.M. served as Best Man, Jeremy Ornelas of Odessa was groomsman and the groom’s son, Jonathan De La Rosa of Pecos was the ring bearer for the ceremony.

The bride was given away in marriage by her father, Gary Richards.

A reception was held at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse with a dance led by D.J. Eddy Vasquez.

The couple took a wedding trip to Carlsbad, N.M. and are making Pecos their home.

Rubio celebrates first birthday with party

Aryssa Rae Rubio celebrated her first birthday with a party held in her honor at the Maxey Park on Saturday, Aug. 16.

Many friends and family were on hand to help with the celebration.

Aryssa is the daughter of Ricky Jr. and Christina Rubio.

Her maternal grandparents are Ruben Orona and Marylou Orona.

Her paternal grandparents are Ricky Rubio and Norma Rubio.

She is the Goddaughter of Sam Salcido and Terry Terrazas.

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