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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 15, 2008

P-B-T officials studying ways to boost results

Solutions to education problems were offered to top Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD administrators, during a two-day seminar held at the Technology Center this week.

Dr. Lawrence W. Lezotte was the guest speaker for the special seminar that included the administrators for the school district.

“We like to start with the administrators, but have programs for the teachers and even the parents,” said Lezotte, who was a member of the faculty for 20 years at Michigan State University and is now a training consultant and public research.

“I’ve been traveling around the country helping teachers improve learning of children,” he said.

Lezotte said that their program is based on objectives, to see what solutions will work based on research.

“This is my first time in Pecos, but I have been in West Texas before in the Midland/Odessa area, at a summer program and in Snyder years ago,” said Lezotte. “I’ve also been at Ysleta in El Paso.”

During the seminar, Lezotte told the group that we all need to accept responsibility for the learning and that we can fix the system instead of blaming others.

“If the problem starts below, you think the solution should be above and you have to see yourself as part of the solution,” he said. “It’s all about accepting responsibility. We’re all responsible and need to talk about expectations and solutions.”

As an example, Lezotte said a teacher in fifth grade states that the fourth grade teacher didn’t teach the student right or enough; the fourth grade teacher blames the third grade and so forth and so on.

“The next thing you know the kindergarten teacher is giving you a short course on genetics and then it gets down to the parents,” said Lezotte. “The mother then says, well have you met his father? And the father says, I don’t even know if he’s mine.”

Lezotte joked about the situation, but stated that the responsibility lies with all of us and to not play the blame game.

He said that those involved with program keep a list of places they have worked with, and that one of their most successful districts is in Texas.

“The district is Aldine, near Houston and that district has done marvelous things,” said Lezotte.

“It’s one of the poorest, low in income, districts and they have been doing tremendous things,” said Lezotte. “We also did seminars in Spring Ranch and Pasadena, Texas.”

Lezotte said that this was the best of both worlds. “We focus on administrators then the next program would be for the vice-principals and 3-4 teachers and a parent or five to six people, training them to do continuous improvements,” he said.

Lezotte said that they start with administrators and get them in comfortable level and held them with the teachers.

“Pecos seems to be doing really well, but there’s always room for improvement and new ideas,” said Lezotte.

“I want to recognize the superintendent and Juanita Davila (in charge of special programs) for the invitation to help improve their school and do better, they are not in a crisis, but are trying to better,” said Lezotte. “I think spending these two days with the administrators is a good step in the right direction,” he said.

Chamber updates on plans for start of motel expansion

Groundbreaking for the addition at the Oak Tree Inn motel began this week and plans for a gathering of the Pecos Basin Oil Burners Veteran Motor Club were both topics of discussion at the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting.

The group met on Tuesday at noon to discuss several upcoming projects, including the addition at the Oak Tree Inn, one of several motel projects scheduled this year.

Oak Tree Inn Manager Misty Thomas told the group that groundbreaking was beginning on that day and would increase the motels occupancy by 21 rooms.

“We’ll be extending the exiting wing and construction should take about 120 days,” said Thomas.

Chamber director Linda Gholson told board members that a group called The Permian Basin Oil Burners Veteran Motor Club wanted to spend some time in Pecos in October.

“They were talking about having lunch in Pecos during their trip, and stated that they are not veterans, but a car club,” said Gholson.

She said that the group had expressed interest in having lunch, possibly outside the train depot, located in front of the West of the Pecos Museum.

“Since it will be in October, that might be questionable,” Gholson said.

The group wants to feed about 150 individuals and asked if the chamber could come up with a lunch idea for them.

“I told them, we would look into them having lunch, but I didn’t say the chamber would foot the bill,” said Gholson.

Board member Kevin Duke suggested the chamber have a barbecue lunch set up for them at the Windmill Square.

“They could park their cars all around and that way everyone in the community could enjoy seeing them,” said Duke.

“This would be about 50-70 vehicles,” said Gholson.

“We could book the civic center as backup,” said board member Joe Keese.

Gholson said that they had been in Pecos before and toured the museum. “They really enjoyed it when they were here and want to come back again,” she said, adding that the car club would also be going to Fort Stockton and Monahans, but wanted to do a stop in Pecos.

“I’m also trying to find out what each town would have, because I did tell them we could have lunch for them,” said Gholson.

Chamber members were also told there is also a concert in the park being planned by the city for Spring Break, March 17-24.

“The concert will once again be held at Maxey Park and will include the concert, a paintball tournament and adult/child golf tournament,” said Gholson.

The paintball tournament will be held at the soccer field this year, closer to the main events, according to Gholson.

“That tournament will be held where the zebra used to live and it will be a really fun day,” she said.

There will be food vendors and events will be held from 2-10 p.m.

“The vendors can set up at 9 a.m. and anyone wanting to be a vendor can contact the chamber,” said Gholson.

Board member Bill Oglesby told chamber directors that the Texas Pecos Trail Board was sad to be losing their director, Keith Godwin.

“We’re sad to be losing her, because she was really good at her job,” said Oglesby. “Hopefully, we’ll have a new director soon,” he said. “She has a lot of talent and made great strides,” he said.

Oglesby said that their next meeting would be in Fort Stockton, and that they will be coming out with the official Texas Pecos Trails brochure.

He also said that the city’s new Main Street Program director, Martin Arreguy was meeting with people from Austin on plans for improving the look of the city’s downtown area.

“We will have an architect in town and we’re excited to have major people back out here,” he said.

Women’s Division President Gail Box told the group that they were busy decorating the civic center for the Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet to be held Friday evening. Theme for this year’s event is Hang Your Hat And Get Involved.

Elmer Kelton will be guest speaker for that evening and will be at the West of the Pecos Museum on Saturday for a book signing from 10 a.m. until noon.

“We also have a new president-elect, which will be Belia Florez and we now meet the first Tuesday of each month at noon at the Pecos Valley Country Club,” said Box. Rivera first to enter city race; school board incumbents file Two incumbents and one challenger have become the first to file in the May 10 local elections in Pecos, after registration opened on Monday for the Town of Pecos City Council, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and Reeves County Hospital District board elections. The two incumbents to sign up were in the P-B-T ISD election, where incumbents Paul Deishler and David Flores have both filed for new three-year positions on the board. The two are both completing their second three-year terms on the board. Both were elected last in 2005, with Flores winning following a recount. In the Town of Pecos City Council election, former Pecos Main Street Program and city parks department coordinator Tom Rivera became the first person to file for one of the two two-year terms up for election in May, along with that of Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood. Rivera retired in December from the city, after serving as Main Street Coordinator for the previous four years. The seats currently held by Michael Benavides and Angelica Valenzuela will be up for election in May. Benavides announced in late December he planned to resign from the council to spend more time with his family, but was convinced by the council to remain until the May election. Nobody has filed yet to fill the vacancies on the hospital board, according to Nadine Smith. Three seats are up for election on the hospital board this year; the at-large seat held by Leo Hung, the Precinct 1 seat held by Brenda McKinney and the Precinct 3 seat that has been vacant since this past fall, when Terry Honaker resigned the position. That seat and the one held by McKinney are only open to residents of Precincts 1 and 3, while any adult resident in the county is eligible to run for the at-large seat. Along with the elections in Pecos, other elections will be held on May 10 for the city councils in Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea, along with the Balmorhea ISD board. Filing for positions in all local races runs through March 10.

Red Bluff discusses gates, vandalism problems

Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members had only a brief meeting on Tuesday at their office in Pecos, as they discussed the upcoming water release schedule and problems with gates being left open on ranches in the Grandfalls-Imperial area.

Board members took care of routine business, including discussion of water releases and an impending inspection of Red Bluff dam by the Texas Commission on Environmental quality.

Managing director Randall Hartman said the inspection would involve the top and side of the dam, along with the spillway, dam motors and electrical equipment.

“I’m sure he’ll find something for us to do. That’s his job,” Hartman said. Red Bluff is already looking to re-grout the 72-year-old dam in the near future.

Board members were also told the 2008 water release season will begin on March 1, and will be at the same 25,000 acre/foot allotment as last year. Through the end of January, a little over a quarter of that allotment was turned back by the seven sub-districts, and of the remaining total, just over half was actually used for irrigation.

Ward County Districts 1 and 2 used the most water of the seven sub-districts, while Ward WID 3 used all but 22 acre/feet of its 2007 allotment. The water level at Red Bluff Lake at the end of January stood at 105,320 acre/feet, up 3,000 acre/feet for the month, and Hartman said heavy winter snows in northern New Mexico should help the runoff in the Pecos River Basin this spring.

The board also heard from Gaynor Brandenberg, who said that livestock was getting loose from his family’s ranch in the Imperial area because the district’s ditch rider, George Brandenberg, was not closing the gates along the canal as it passes through he ranch.

Hartman said the district has control over the gates along the irrigation canal. “It’s ours to supervise as long as we maintain water in the Imperial Reservoir,” he said, adding the district will fence in the canals if they have to.

“You need to allow access for horses,” Gaynor Brandenberg said. “I’m not trying to cause any problems, but when the gates are left open and the livestock is turned loose on the highway, we’ve got problems.”

He also complained that Red Bluff workers had cut a road through the ranch without permission.

“No one cut anything without permission to do so,” Hartman said. “We pay them by the hour, and they’re not going to cut a road unless they have to.”

Board member Jay Lee said trespassing is a problem for the district, along with vandalism. Brandenberg said the ranch is also plagued with trespassers, but added, “We can’t get the law in Pecos County to do anything. The DA over there won’t prosecute.”

San Antonio man gets top PEDC job

A San Antonio-area man has been chosen as the new head of the Pecos Economic Development Corp., following an interview and discussion by the PEDC 4B board of directors on Wednesday night at City Hall.

Robert M. Tobias Jr., was named to the position in a 5-1 vote by the board on Wednesday, after a two-hour interview during executive session. Tobias was the final applicant to seek the position, and was interviewed by all board members with the exception of Jimmy Dutchover, who was also a candidate for the position and recused himself from the closed-door meeting.

“He was made an offer last night and he accepted it,” said PEDC board member Joseph Torres, who has been serving as interim PEDC president along with handling his city manager duties for the past four months.

Torres said a background check was done on Tobias, and his selection would now have to be approved by the Town of Pecos City Council. Members were scheduled to vote on the action during their Thursday night meeting at City Hall, and if approved, Tobias will begin work as both the 4B and 4A PEDC president on Feb. 28.

Torres said Tobias most recently served as the director of economic development in Live Oak, from October of 2003 through October of 2007. His previous positions include president and CEO of the Tulsa, Okla., Hispanic Chamber from Dec. 1999 to Dec. 2002; director of the Edinberg Economic Development Corp. from July 1994 to July 1996; and as a marketing executive with the Greater Houston Partnership from July 1989 to July 1993.

Torres said Dutchover also abstained from voting on the Tobias selection. Voting in favor were Torres, along with board members Paul Hinojos, Dick Alligood, Bill Oglesby and Leo Hung, while PEDC board president Danny Rodriguez voted against Tobias’ selection for the post.

Torres said Dutchover was the other main candidate under consideration by the PEDC board during their deliberations following the interview with Tobias.

In his cover letter on his application, Tobias said his past jobs have allowed him to work with both of Texas’ U.S. Senators, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, along with Pecos’ current U.S. Congressman, Ciro Rodriguez; State Representative, Pete Gallego; and State Senator, Carlos Uresti

“I worked closely with State Senator Carlos Uresti, as he represented the City of Live Oak as a State Representative before being elected State Senator for Senate District 19,” Tobias wrote in his letter. “I have also visited on occasion with State Representative Pete Gallego at functions in Austin related to the Hispanic community and other economic development matters.”

Torres said Tobias’ approval is also pending a drug test given to city employees. If he passes that and is approved by the council, he and his wife Linda, a real estate agent in San Antonio, will relocate to the Pecos area in the next few weeks.

Tobias becomes the third president of the PEDC since its creation a decade ago. The PEDC 4B corporation was created in October after a vote last May by voters, and replaces the 4A corporation in receiving a 1/4-cent in funding from the city’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax for its operations.

The 4A PEDC remains in operation to close out businesses and contracts entered into over the past decade. Torres said the PEDC, which has been housed in the TransPecos Bank building, has been moved to the Pecos Community Center building on South Oak Street, where it will temporarily share office space with the Pecos Main Street Program. Eventually, the PEDC will be moved into a new office in the former Pecos Police Department building between City Hall and the Community Center.

Dance camp scheduled for March 1

A Dance/Cheer Camp will be held on Saturday, March 1, which will benefit the Lee S. Green Scholarship Fundraiser.

The camp is for girls ages 5-14, at the Odessa College Technical Training Center, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Camp instructors will be members of the University of Texas Permian Basin Dance team and present and former Pecos High School Cheerleaders.

Cost is $25 per student. To register and pre-pay call 940-1965.

Snacks will be provided and a special performance will be held for the parents at the end of the camp day.

Event set for departing Trails director

A special going-away gathering will be held from 2-4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, at the SIDC &TPTR Office, 120 N. Concho, Sonora, in honor of Keith Godwin, the Texas Pecos Trails Coordinator.

Individuals will need to RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 19, by calling Betty Cash, 432-639-2705 or Ann Kay, 325-387-2248.

Godwin, who is moving, has been a wonderful asset to Sonora and the Texas Pecos Trails Region.

Everyone is invited to attend.

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

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