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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 8, 2008

Officials issue rabies warning after girl bitten

A dog that bit a 7-year-old child last week has been confirmed to have been infected with rabies, and the outbreak of rabies in Reeves County has health and law enforcement officials worried about further cases being reported in unvaccinated animals.

The Feb. 1 incident on the south side of Pecos has officials asking that everyone vaccinate their pets to ensure that the virus does not spread any further.

“We had a case on Friday, a little girl was bitten by a dog that was infected with rabies,” said Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera, who is also the local rabies control authority in Reeves County.

“We received a call that a child had been bitten by an aggressive dog on Friday afternoon,” said Herrera. “It was just a stray dog that wandered in to their yard.”

He said that after the sheriff’s department had been called, he took the dog to the local veterinarian, who then had the dog sent out to get it analyzed.

“The results came back and it turned out that the dog did have rabies,” said Herrera.

Herrera said that they then started the little 7-year-old girl on a series of shots.

“The hospital is the one who actually called us and we took it from there,” said Herrera.

“Earlier we had received reports of animals that had been exposed to rabies, the animals are then euthanized and sent out for analysis,” said Herrera.

Herrera said that in this case, unfortunately, the results came out positive.

“We have been working with the Texas Department of State Health Services in Midland and they have been doing some vaccination baiting, in which they drop baits that have the vaccine in them,” said Herrera. “They have been doing that out in this area for coyotes and foxes,” he said.

Herrera said that there have been cases of rabies in foxes and coyotes, including one found near Herrera’s office in the 700 block of West Daggett Street in mid-December.

“We’re starting to see more and more cases within the county,” said Herrera. “It’s a fox rabies strain, the coyotes are the carriers and they transmit it to domestic animals and other animals such as raccoons and rabbits,” he said.

Herrera said that they have had other cases of rabies reported, but that this Friday was the first case that they have received in which a human has been infected.

“We’ve had other cases where the coyotes and foxes have been tested and it’s come out positive, but this is the first human case,” said Herrera. State and federal officials in late January dropped vaccination bait from aircraft in the Pecos area to try and contain the current rabies outbreak.

The series of rabies shots the girl is receiving includes an injection given around the wound and then a series of other injections, either in the arm or buttocks, according to Herrera. “We want to warn everyone that there is an outbreak and that it’s very important to get their pets vaccinated,” said Herrera. “Not only because it is a state law, but for their own health protection.”

For a rabies case, that’s the first thing that they need to do, is to get their pets vaccinated. “Second, they need to be aware that there is a rabies outbreak in Reeves County.”

Herrera said that if anyone sees a coyote inside the city limits that that is a sign that the coyote is not well. “Coyotes don’t usually come into the city limits, so that is a sure sign that he is not well,” he said.

Herrera said that if anybody sees an animal that is acting differently or strangely, they should report it to the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Department or his office.

“If they see anything that doesn’t look like normal behavior in the animal, they should report it,” said Herrera. “Rabies affect the nervous system, so the signs are noticeable,” he said. Herrera said that as soon as it is reported they will contact animal control and take it from there.

“We also want let everyone know that the Lindsay Addition is a ‘hot zone’,” said Herrera. “About two weeks ago, we had a coyote that had wandered into someone’s yard out there and it tested positive for rabies,” he said.

Herrera said that the people out there need to be cautious, because there is where the main problem seems to lie.

“It’s very important that they get their pets vaccinated, I can’t stress that enough,” he said.

If anyone sees a coyote, fox or an animal that is acting strangely contact the Pecos Police Department at 445-4911; the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department at 445-4901 or The Reeves County Emergency Management Office at 447-3542.

Pecos Native Earns Academic Honors at HPU

BROWNWOOD, TX – February 6, 2008 – Genelle Willis, of Pecos, was named to the President’s List for the 2007 fall semester at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. Genelle is the daughter of Nelson and Glenda Willis and is majoring in music.

Students must earn a 4.0 grade point average to be named to the President’s List.

Founded in 1889, HPU is a Christian, coeducational university offering a full array of liberal arts, pre-professional, and honors studies, as well as a graduate program to its students. Located on a residential main campus in Brownwood, Texas, and at seven extension centers across the state, the university is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

HPU is ranked in “America’s Best Colleges 2006,” published by U.S. News and World Report, as number five in the “Best Value” category of bachelor’s degree-granting colleges in the Western region of the United States.

HPU is 13th in the “Top Schools” category. The university is also nationally recognized for its small class size and ethnic and economic diversity.

PEDC continues interviews for top job; eyes loan deals

The Pecos Economic Development Corporation’s 4B board of directors held two more interviews Wednesday night for the job of president, and will hold at least one more next week before taking their next step towards filling the position.

The board interviewed one of its own members, Jimmy Dutchover, along with Town of Pecos City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid in executive session Wednesday night, after agreeing in open session to advertise for bids for both banking services and financing offers for a $230,000 load the corporation is seeking to buy land from the Pecos Housing Authority.

The PEDC board had previously held three interviews for the position, which has not had an official president since the 4B corporation came into operation. Voters in May approved changing the PEDC from a 4A to a 4B corporation, which is allowed to spend money on a wider variety of projects. The board named 4A president Mike Burkholder as interim president, but he resigned three days later, and city manager Joseph Torres was named as interim president.

Torres said applications for the position are still being taken through next Tuesday, and the board will interview one new candidate, Robert M. Tobias, Jr., of San Antonio, during a meeting set for next Wednesday at City Hall.

Torres said Tobias most recently served as the director of economic development in Live Oak, from October of 2003 through October of 2007.

“We will interview the final round of candidates on the 13th, and then the board will look at making their final selections,” Torres said.

Prior to discussing the banking situation, board members met with Cynthia Delgado, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s West Texas/Upper Rio Grande Economic Development and Tourism Office. She discussed way the state could help the PEDC with local projects, including a proposed intermodal rail yard 2 1/2 miles west of town.

“I just want to go over a few things that the state may or may not have,” Delgado said. She told the board grants or loans through the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Community Affairs were possible, and the PEDC could look at taking out a low-interest loan for projects, based on future income from their 1/4-cent share of Pecos’ 1 1/2-cent sales tax.

“It looks like an excellent opportunity for the city,” she said. “To me that’s a project that just grows. People say ‘Do you hear what’s happening in Pecos?’ and it spreads out about what you can do with that type of facility.”

“I’m sure we want to keep looking and see what kind of assistance we can get with this project,” said PEDC board chairman Danny Rodriguez.

Board member Dick Alligood later said the PEDC could look at a low-interest state loan, if it wanted to go that way in financing the funds needed to buy the PHA land. However, the board decided it would be best to first look at working out some sort of an agreement between West Texas National Band and TransPecos Bank on financing the purchase.

Burkholder and the 4A PEDC agreed to pay $230,000 last summer to buy 34.25 acres of land along Interstate 20, with the PHA then using that money to buy the Farm Labor Housing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, in September just prior to the deadline for the PHA to buy the FLH apartments, the city council refused to approve the purchase, saying the action shouldn’t be taken with the 4B PEDC beginning operations on Oct. 1.

PHA then received an emergency loan from TransPecos Bank to buy the apartments. Members of the 4B board then agreed to try and buy the land in October, and the funds being sought would allow the PHA to pay off its debt to TransPecos Bank. The PEDC would then sell of parcels of the land along I-20 for new development.

“Both banks require an evaluation of the property,” Torres said. “My thoughts are if both banks are interested in doing that, we should split the loan and give both banks the business.”

Dutchover asked Torres and city attorney Scott Johnson to come back to the board with three loan options; a split agreement and ones where the loan is taken out with just one of the two banks. The board also asked to look at five- and 10-year payment periods based on the prime interest rate.

“With five and 10 and the interest rate floating, it can go up, but we can pay it off,” said board member and WTNB president Paul Hinojos.

“Hopefully, as each parcel is sold off, we can use it to pay it off,” Dutchover said.

Both banks are also being asked to bid on banking services, such as checking and depository accounts. Those accounts are currently being held by TransPecos Bank.

Telephone operator reconnects with hometown

Mildred Ferguson’s outgoing personality served her well during the 22 years she worked as a telephone operator in Pecos, Andrews and Dallas.

When she retired seven years ago, Ferguson honored her promise to her husband, Eddie, to return to Pecos and the big house and yard he loves at 1123 S. Cypress.

“He loves to dig in the dirt,” she said of the retired sulfur mine employee.

Although she gets bored staying at home, Ferguson said she does not want to work at the places in Pecos where jobs are available.

“I don’t want to work at the law enforcement center or Pyote (West Texas Children’s Home).” She said. “ I have raised my kids.”

The Fergusons have four children, two boys and two girls, and nine grandchildren scattered around Texas and Alaska.

“We try to have big Christmas gatherings when the money is OK,” said Ferguson. “Gifts are getting high.”

She awards the grandchildren with silver dollars to keep up their interest in school.

“They do good,” she said, as she reminisced about her own school days in Pecos. “The 60s and 70s were good times. I wish we had them back.”

“I had some good teachers,” she said. Many have passed on, but she noted that Cecil Stickels and Mrs. Hurley are still around.

After graduation, Ferguson worked at several places, including Pizza Hut and with the late Joe Henry Barton at the Pecos Valley Country Club.

“He was a wonderful man,” she said of Barton.

Growing up on 13th street, Ferguson recalls one of the neighborhood children was Bobby Bradley, who died Sunday.

“It is a blessing to live,” she said. “I have seen a lot of my co-workers and classmates die.”

She won’t tell her age, but if anyone asks, she claims to be 21

She is one of four children born to Charlie and Eula Mae Wilson. Charlie and B.J. Wilson are her brothers, and Patricia Moseley is her sister. They all help their 89-year-old mother, who lives with the Fergusons.

Working as a telephone operator was rewarding, Ferguson said. “I really did enjoy it. I made friends on the phone and in the office. It was very, very nice.”

She was adept at handling emergency calls, and was trained to go into the switch to initiate calling features. “It was very easy then,” she said. “Now it is getting so complicated, with all the digital stuff.”

The local telephone company was Contel when Ferguson started working in the Pecos office on Oak Street. They transferred her to Andrews when local offices were consolidated. Contel was later bought out GTE, who sends her retirement checks, and later by Verizon, before undergoing two more name changes over the past decade.

Being an old-timer, Ferguson has many friends and acquaintances in Pecos, and she’s glad to be back.

School plans Black History Month play

In honor of Black History Month, Bessie Haynes Elementary School, will feature a play, on Friday, Feb. 22, “I Have A Dream,” in Annabell Chavez’ fifth grade class.

Times for the play are from 10 a.m. until 10:40 a.m. and at 1 p.m. until 1:40 p.m.

The class will also have a musical/concept from 6-7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28.

Santa Rosa holds plate sale Friday

An Enchilada Plate Sale will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., on Friday at the Santa Rosa Hall.

Plates will consist of red or green enchiladas, rice, beans and salad for $6.

Everyone is invited to come enjoy them or take out. Deliveries will be made.

For orders call 445-2302 on Friday.

GED test sign-ups set for Feb. 18

GED Testing will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Pecos High School.

Registration is scheduled from 1-4 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 18, at the Pecos High School, Room 2.

Examinees must present a Texas Driver’s License or Texas Department of Public Safety ID Card.

For more information call Pat Cobos/Eva Arriola, Pecos High School Counselor’s at 447-7229.

City sales tax rebate checks continue rise

Sales tax rebates for the Town of Pecos City were up sharply for the 11th straight month, according to figures released on Wednesday by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office.

The comptroller’s numbers for February, based on sales made during the Christmas shopping season in December, showed Pecos received $178,663 back from Austin up 62.21 percent from the $110,141 the city received a year ago. February’s sales tax rebate checks traditionally are the largest single check of the year sent out to cities, counties and special purpose districts by the state comptroller.

For the first two months of 2008, Pecos has gotten $310,252 back from its 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax, a 64.3 percent jump from last year’s $188,829 total. One-sixth of this month’s rebate total, or $29,777, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. for its operations.

Pecos’ tax rebates in past years had only gone over the $100,000 during the holiday shopping season, but the city has received over $100,000 in tax rebates each month since April of last year, and 2007’s tax rebates were up 54 percent from the previous year, due to the rise in oil and gas production in the Trans-Pecos region.

The numbers weren’t as good for Reeves County’s two other cities. Balmorhea’s February sales tax total of $2,873 was 7.14 percent above last year, and its two-month total of $6,101 is 8.49 percent higher than for the first two months of 2007.

Toyah’s $661 total for the month was 12.56 percent lower than last year’s $757 amount, but its two-month total of $1,357 is still 10 percent higher than last year.

Reeves County Hospital’s 1/2-cent sales tax brought it an $85,471 check this month, which is an 85.75 jump over last February’s total of $46,013. The hospital has gotten $153,719 in two months, up $81,36 percent from last year’s $84,755 total.

The sales tax checks from pre-Christmas sales were up for almost every city in the Permian Basin, though the smaller cities reported better numbers than some of the larger towns, where many of the in-store Christmas purchases occur, and the numbers weren’t as good to the south in the Big Bend area.

Midland had the area’s largest single check for November, at $3.71 million, based on its1 1/2-cent sales tax, which was just 1.84 percent higher than a year ago. Odessa did a little better in terms of increase, as its 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $2.59 million in rebates this month, a 10.36 percent rise from a year ago.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received a $110,835 check, which was down 10.03 percent. Crane received a check for $65,997, a 17.04 percent increase; Lamesa got a $139,653 check back this month, which was up 10.38 percent, while Seminole received a check for $110,490, which was up 14.4 percent from February 2007’s total. Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $48,673 this month, up 25.06 percent; Wickett received a $19,417 check, up 110.58 percent; Wink received a check for $12,937, up 84.64 percent, and Pyote, received a $1,042 check this month, an 88.53 percent jump from last February.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $321,172, a 9.76 percent increase from a year ago. Marfa got a check for $26,093, which was up 0.62 percent, and Van Horn got a check for $34,629, which was down 24.13 percent from February of 2007.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Fort Stockton received $311,418 this month, up 58.75 percent; Big Spring received $553,458, an increase of 1.63 percent for the month; Monahans received a check for $145,799, which was down 0.27 percent from last February; Grandfalls got a $2,579 check, up 4.19 percent, and Presidio received $57,641, up 6.01 percent from a year ago.

Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $434.3 million, up 4.78 percent from the $414.5 million rebated in Febuary of last year. Houston’s check of $53.8 million was up 6.6 percent from last year, while Dallas’ check was next, at $25.3 million, which was up 5.59 percent from their rebate check for the month in 2007.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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