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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Galindo wins EP hearing over DWI arrest

Former Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo will get to keep his driver’s license after a judge ruled in his favor following an arrest that occurred last year.

An El Paso Administrative Law Judge has ruled that Galindo was arrested for DWI without probable cause.

In Galindo’s license revocation hearing in El Paso on March 3, Administrative Law Judge Veronica S. Najera of El Paso found that Department of Public Safety Trooper Roy Lytle’s sworn statement regarding Galindo’s unsteady balance while walking was not supported by the video tape evidence.

The Texas Department of Public Safety was represented by counsel for the Department, who could not be located at press time.

Galindo was arrested by Trooper Lytle on Oct. 25, 2007. The Judge ruled that the facts did support the stop by Trooper Lytle, but that the evidence was insufficient to support the arrest for DWI and denied the Department of Public Safety’s petition to suspend Galindo’s license.

The DWI charge against Galindo is still pending in the office of the Reeves County Attorney.

Galindo served as Reeves County Judge from January 1995 through December of 2006, after he declined to seek a fourth term. Earlier this month, Galindo lost an election for Reeves County Democratic Party chairman to incumbent Bobby Dean.

Wind-aided S. side blaze burns home

A fire broke out at a home on the south side of Pecos during Friday afternoon’s high wind conditions, destroying the structure, but firefighters did manage to save the pets of the homeowners, who were out of town at the time the fire occurred.

Pecos Volunteer firefighters were called out to the home on Bob Trammell, 2204 Johnson St., at about 1:50 p.m., on Friday.

Officials believe the fire started in the upper part of the home, and the flames rose through the attic where they were first spotted and fire crews notified.

Three fire trucks responded to the scene immediately, but the firefighters were shorthanded and the high winds fanned the flames.

“It took us about four and half hours to complete extinguish all the fire,” said volunteer firefighter Robert Munoz.

He said that they did manage to save the family’s pets, which included four or five dogs.

“We were told that the family was in Odessa at the time, so nobody got hurt,” he said.

“By the time we got there the flames were really high and due to the high winds the fire just tore through the entire house,” said Munoz.

Munoz said that with the family out of town, the call had come in from one of the employees with Texas-New Mexico Power Company.

“He was checking the meters and he was the one that noticed the flames coming through the attic,” said Munoz.

High winds over the weekend did not reach the levels feared by National Weather Service forecasters, which initially called for gusts of up to 70 mph in the Trans-Pecos region and up to 100 mph in the Guadalupe Mountains. But winds did gust as high as 40 mph on Friday, during the time the fire occurred, and were blamed for spreading several fires on Friday across the region, including one that destroyed four homes near Hobbs in Lea County, N.M.

Mediation panel approved for water rate dispute

Town of Pecos City and Reeves County will hold mediation hearings on the county’s lawsuit against the city over water rates, and city council members named their representatives on the mediation board during an executive session Thursday night at City Hall.

The city and county will hold talks to try and end the ongoing dispute over the rate hikes implemented by the city in December of 2005. Reeves County has filed suit over the action, and have appealed rulings in favor of the county by both the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Darlene Byrne, presiding judge for the 345th District Court in Austin, where the lawsuits have been heard.

“The council did decide to have a meeting to discuss the water lawsuit,” said city manager Joseph Torres, who is one of the city appointees to the mediation board. Mayor Dick Alligood, councilman Gerald Tellez and city attorney Scott Johnson are the other appointees.

Several joint projects between the city and county have been delayed over the lawsuit. Both groups were able to reach an agreement last year to finally start up a venue tax board to collect hotel-motel tax revenues to begin repairs and renovations on the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena and the Reeves County Civic Center, and on Thursday the council voted to accept Reeves County’s four nominees to the board. Alligood said the action was needed before a letter could be sent to the Texas Comptroller’s office authorizing the start of collections on the 2 percent venue tax.

Three other items on the executive session agenda, employees retention, a performance contract on a 4.02 acre section of land and seeking a replacement for city code enforcement officer Julio Quinones, were all tabled until a later time, Torres said.

The council did agree during open session to create a line-item for the water department’s capital fund to allow funds within that account to rollover from year-to-year. City public works director Edgardo Madrid explained that would allow the city to maintain funding for future water and sewer projects without having to go through annual allocations.

He said increased water use due to the growth in oil and gas drilling in the area has increased both the city’s water use and its water income. “We know it’s not going to be there forever,” Madrid said. He said the revenues in the new account could be directed towards specific projects, and that funds could be used to hire a contractor to help with the current sewer line improvements on the north and east side of town.

Madrid said the city has been short of workers to complete the repair and replacement of sewer lines under the timetable of the state grant, and a contractor may be needed to get the work done in time.

Council members also approved an $11,070 grant to Pecos Valley Crimestoppers. Police chief Clay McKinney said the grant did not have any matching fund requirements, and would cover supplies, telephone costs and t he crimestoppers website.

McKinney also told the council they received one bid on the inmate telephone contract for the Criminal Justice Center, by MA Communications of Midland. He told the council their offer would save $35,000 on phone cards for the city, and should increase the city’s share of profit by about $13,000.

Cutoff for failing grades draws teacher opposition

A proposed change in the grading policy for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD students brought out teachers to voice opposition to the change, during the first reading Thursday night before the P-B-T ISD school board.

The policy was on recording failing grades, and the change would put a 50 as the bottom cap on any failing grade.

Under the proposed change, “The District shall record a 50 in the permanent cumulative record for any average numerical grade that is lower than 50. The District shall record a 50 as the report card grade for each grading period in which the numerical grade average is lower than 50.”

“The message that we’re sending is we’re not getting it done,” said PBT-ISD Superintendent Manny Espino, who said that he had some concerns about the dropout rate and wanted to help those students that are struggling in school.

“You have these students that drop out and when we talk to them, we are being told that they are home-schooled, because they just couldn’t make it in regular school,” said Espino.

Espino said that by giving them a ’50’ it would give the students an opportunity to bring up their grades.

“The numbers can do anything you want them to do, but we need to help these students and to try to keep them in school,” said Espino. “We’re just not getting it done and we can discuss it further,” he said.

Espino said that the board could table the item and talk to more teachers, to come up with more solutions to the failing problem.

“We need to focus on what we can to make sure nobody gets less than a 50 and we’re not blaming the teachers. It’s the administration’s fault as well,” said Espino. “What we’re saying is how much effort are we putting in to making sure these kids aren’t failing.”

Espino said that he didn’t want to go by the old adage, “Well, I taught it, he just didn’t learn it.”

“Instead of saying I can give the student a 15 or 20, why not just give him a 50, which will give him a better chance at passing, bringing that grade up,” he said.

“It’s making kids drop out and that shouldn’t happen to us,” said Espino.

PHS Teacher Jamie Balog read out a letter to the board that had been signed by several other teachers at the high school protesting the policy.

Balog said that they wanted to voice their alarm about an unwritten policy they had been directed to follow concerning grades.

“We at Pecos High School are being asked to change averages to a 50 if they are below 50. We strenuously object to this directive and to a policy that would require this practice,” said Balog.

Balog said that objections to this practice are many and rationales are abundant.

“At a time when schools and states around the country are raising standards for students, we would be lowering PHS standards.”

“Secondary school is the jumping off place to the ‘real world’ for our students,” Balog said in her statement. “Where in the world of work or college is a person given credit for work not done or paid for work that is only half done? This will lead to an attitude of ‘something for nothing’ and create more problems than it will solve, including behavioral and attendance problems.

“This is a deceptive practice which does not reveal students’ real grades. Parents will not know their children’s true grades.

“We must ask ourselves, ‘what is the message we are sending to our students with this practice?’ And you, the P-B-T board of trustees will determine that message which will guide this district in the future,” said Balog.

Walter Holland also spoke against the policy. “We need to teach the kids to be responsible, we do not need to cook the books to make them feel better about themselves,” he told the board.

Holland said that he was asked to break the code of ethics. “Having a teacher change a grade is taking teaching out of their hands,” he said.

Holland said that the proposed change was compounding the problem.

The item was tabled after several board members asked that they be provided more information and to seek further solutions to the problem.

In other action, the board received a facility update on the construction at the different campuses during the meeting.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held Friday afternoon and a reception at the Crockett Middle School campus.

Crockett Middle School is one of the first campuses that will be worked on, along with Bessie Haynes Elementary, the CATE building and the concession stands.

Contractors are reviewing plans and preparing proposals for both Crockett Middle School and Bessie Haynes.

For the CATE and concession buildings, the group will solicit revised proposals with Bessie Haynes and Crockett and at Austin/High School roofing project, construction cut to begin last week in March.

“The contractor indicates they have been delayed on other projects by the wind,” said Espino.

Austin Elementary, kindergarten and field house, they are loading existing building data (plans) and surveys and soil testing are due in the next few weeks, according to the architect’s report.

In the next month, they will receive proposals on Bessie Haynes, Crockett, CATE and concession buildings and develop schematic plan for Austin, kindergarten and the field house.

Ambulance bid given approval by city council

Town of Pecos City Council approved a bid for a new ambulance for the Pecos Emergency Medical Service during their regular meeting on Thursday, and were told the service was moving closer to being able to run 24-hour operations out of the downtown fire and ambulance hall, as part of the deal consolidating the EMS with Reeves County Hospital’s transfer service.

The council approved a bid of $58,734 by Reliable Emergency Vehicles for a Type II 2008 ambulance, along with an additional expense of $81,046 to remount the body of one of the hospital’s existing Type III ambulances on a new chassis.

Thorp told the council that Reliable’s bid was one of four the city received, and was $2,000 higher on the Type II ambulance than the lowest bid, by Taylor-Made Vehicles. However, he said he would prefer the council go with Reliable, because the vehicle they were offering was better quality and their bid had better financing along with a trade-in offer.

“Since we try to get 5-6 years, maybe even 10 years of life out of the trucks, we want to spend a little extra up front and get a good quality vehicle,” he said.

Thorp said the Type III ambulance used by the hospital would be for transferring patients to other out-of-town facilities. He said the cost of one of those larger ambulances new would normally be in the $135,000 range.

Earlier in the meeting, Thorp told the council that the change to the EMS, which will make between six and eight workers full-time employees, has cut response time to emergency calls during the days. He added that the nighttime response should improve when crew facilities on the second floor of the EMS hall are completed.

“Construction is coming along,” he said. “It should be about 4-5 days away.”

In other action, the council again heard from local resident Jesse Acosta Jr., about noise and obstruction problems created by trucks parking in his South Plum Street neighborhood. He said the trucks are parking on streets at night, and waking people up early in the morning by running their motors while warming up the engines.

Acosta had appeared before the council in late February, and was told the city would look at enforcing ordinances already on the books on trucks using non-designated streets. But he said the problem has continued.

“If we don’t try to correct and enforce this city ordinance, it will get completely out of hand,” said Acosta, who said he would shoot video of the problem and take it to TV stations in Midland-Odessa if no action is taken.

“Give us some time to get the problem solved,” said councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela. Council members and city attorney Scott Johnson noted that while the trucks can park on private property, there are restrictions on which streets they can use, along with noise ordinances.

“I was listening on the scanner last night, and this truck was on private property with a haz-mat plated on it,” said councilman Frank Sanchez. “Even if it’s on private property, you can’t be parking a haz-mat trailer. It’s highly explosive.”

City Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire said the truck was removed from the city limits, but there’s no ordinance saying hazardous material trucks can’t operate on designated city streets.

Johnson said an ordinance restricting truck traffic inside the city was drawn up several years ago, but it was not passed due to concerns over the effect it would have on some local businesses. Mayor Dick Alligood said the problem will be looked at again in a future council meeting, and a meeting with Acosta was scheduled by city officials for Monday.

Pecos Main Street Program Coordinator Martin Arreguy told the council that officials with the Texas Historical Commission’s Main Street Program would be holding a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on March 25 at the Reeves County Civic Center on improving economic development downtown.

“They give us solid legal advice and connect us into state guidelines,” Arreguy said.

Pecos’ Rotary Club marks 80th year

Editor’s Note: This story was inadvertently left out of Friday’s Pecos At Work special section.

The Pecos Rotary Club has been in operation in the Pecos Community for 80 years, providing number of services and projects to the city since holding its first meeting on May 8, 1928. Ralph Sparks was elected as the first president of the club and on May 24, the club was officially elected to membership in Rotary International as Rotary Club No. 1340 and has been going strong ever since.

Rotary’s biggest new project over the past few years has been the Community Christmas Tree, located at the old swimming pool in Maxey Park.

The club sold strings of lights that were then strung on the tree to help offset the cost of the project, paid to have the electrical service installed at the location and to have the tree erected. Also to offset the cost of power during the season, they sell space on a sponsorship sign.

From its initial lighting efforts of setting up the Christmas tree, the Rotary has increased the amount of lighting in that area of the park each of the past three holiday seasons. They also coordinate a Christmas program including the school children singing carols and Santa’s appearance.

The motto of Rotary can be summer up in a single word – service. Over the years the Pecos club has made good on that motto in Pecos.

Some of the early projects included:

-- Presentation of Rotary Field to the Pecos School District in 1929. The present high school was built next to the field and the school still uses the field for athletic events although many people know it simply as Eagle Stadium these days. Rotary recently erected a plaque on the West side where the home fans enter.

-- Sponsorship of the soft water project for the city in 1935.

Sponsorship of the building of Red Bluff Dam and also creation of the roadside park on Carlsbad Highway 285 just north of town, both in 1936.

In 1942, Rotary sponsored the Army air base and in 1943 furnished the teenage canteen.

In 1944, the Club presented a newly constructed Boy Scout Hut to Troop No. 68 of the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1992, the Rotary Club financed a new addition to Maxey Park called Kids City. The Rotary Club and community volunteers built the new playground.

The club also holds several annual fundraisers during the year with which to sponsor college scholarships. Some of the fundraisers include the pancake breakfast at the Fall Fair, selling briskets and turkeys during Christmas and sponsoring a kid’s golf tournament in August comprised on a two day scramble with teams of an adult and a youth.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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