Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, July 9, 2004
School board selects new PHS principal
By ROSIE FLORES
Different faces will be seen at the various campuses at Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, following the hiring and reassignment of several employees to fill vacancies created by retirements last month.
The board approved several appointments and reassignments during the regular board meeting held Thursday in the Technology Center.
Board members went outside the district to choose Stephen D. Lucas as the new principal at Pecos High School, replacing Danny Rodriguez, who resigned at the end of June.
Lucas has seven years experience, has a mid-management administrator certification; a Bachelor of Science degree from Sul Ross State University and a Master of Education from Sul Ross. He has been serving as principal in the Louise ISD and previously was technology director for the Culberson County-Alamoore ISD in Van Horn.
Along with Lucas’ appointment, John Fabela has been moved from assistant principal at Pecos High School to Principal at Bessie Haynes Elementary School. Replacing him will be Jim Workman who moves from science teacher at Crockett Middle School to Assistant Principal at Pecos High School. Fabela replaced Ruben Cervantes, who resigned last month as Bessie Haynes principal.
Other appointments include Lucas’ wife Diane, who has a certification in Alternative Certification Program; and a Bachelor of Arts Degree/Our Lady of the Lake University. She will be a teacher at Austin Elementary School and has no previous teaching experience.
Raymond Lain, will be a special education teacher/coach at Pecos High School; certifications include, a Level Two Professional K-12 Special Education, Level Two 7-12 Coach License; received a Bachelor of Science, major-Education, minor-Biology/Texas Tech University, Master of Arts, major - Education, minor - Administration/Eastern New Mexico University.
Other reassignments include Sandra Fellows, from first grade teacher at Austin Elementary School to third grade teacher at Austin Elementary and coach at Crockett Middle School.
Debbie Garcia, from third grade teacher at Austin Elementary to third grade teacher at Austin Elementary and coach at Crockett Middle School.
Resignations accepted were from: Erin Campos, fifth grade teacher, effective June 30; Amy Chabarria, Spanish Teacher/coach, effective June 29; Suzanne Dominguez, speech therapist, effective June 29; Jim Reeves, counselor, effective July 2; Omar Salgado, History teacher/coach, effective June 29 and Lastacha Necole Williamson, special education teacher self-contained, effective June 30.
P-B-T ISD is still awaiting a final vote on naming the district’s new superintendent and assistant superintendent. Don Love resigned at the end of the 2003-04 school year as superintendent, and school board members met June 14 and accepted retirement requests and made several reassignments, including the retirement of Assistant Superintendent Gome Olibas.
Reassignments at that meeting included: Bernadette Ornelas, from District Migrant/ESL teacher to Spanish teacher at Pecos High School.
Frank Morin, from fifth grade bilingual teacher at Bessie Haynes Elementary to District Migrant/ESL teacher.
Lanette Portillo, from third grade teacher at Austin Elementary to sixth grade teacher at Bessie Haynes Elementary School.
Lawrence Williams, Jr., from speech/coach teacher at Pecos High School to DAEP/coach at Lamar.
Tammy Walls, from special education teacher/coach at Pecos High School to English/coach at Pecos High School.
Jonathan Fellows, from DAEP/coach at Lamar to special education teacher/ coach at Pecos High School.
All the teachers who were reassigned, asked to be reassigned, according to the minutes of that meeting.
Board members met for a special meeting on June 24 and approved several appointments.
Appointments included: Gaylon Doan, certification in PE/History, has a BS degree from Sul Ross State University, 17 years teaching experience and will be an academic teacher/Lamar AEP.
Orlando Matta, certification, PE/Science; BS degree from San Angelo State University, no experience, assignment - 9th and 10th grade initiative teacher/coach/Lamar AEP.
Brenda Bingham, certification, EC-4 Generalist, BS degree, College of the Southwest, NM University, no experience, assignment - first grade teacher/Austin Elementary.
Joely Mohler Trujillo, certification, certification, Reading 6-8; BS Degree - UTPB, no experience, assignment - 7th and 8th grade Reading Teacher/Crockett Middle School.
Elizabeth Will, certification, Speech Communication, BA degree, Sul Ross State University/Masters, Texas Tech University, no experience, assignment - Speech Communications/Pecos High School.
Windy Franks, certification, EC-4 Generalist; BS degree from New Mexico State University/Howard Payne University, no experience, assignment - first grade teacher/Austin Elementary.
Resignations: Sylvia Sadler, kindergarten teacher at Pecos Kindergarten.
Shirley Michelle Tucker - special education teacher at Pecos Kindergarten.
Rebecca Cervantes - librarian at Austin Elementary.
Ruben Cervantes - Principal at Bessie Haynes Elementary.
Kristen Carreon Willis - yearbook/journalism teacher at Pecos High School.
Stadium to begin greening up next week
By JON FULBRIGHT
The field at Eagle Stadium looks a lot rougher than usual right now, but by next week things should be greening up with the start of installation of FieldTurf on the Pecos High School football field.
The installation is part of a project budgeted at $517,000 to install synthetic grass and to resurface the Pecos High School track. White rocks were laid down on top of a liner on the field for since the end of June, and then built up before the application of gravel and a top surface on which the turf will be installed. A drainage canal also has been dug out and tubing installed around the field, which will also be covered over by the turf installation.
The turf will arrive in sections, and then be installed on the field over what is expected to be a three-week period.
“The turf comes in 15-foot wide stripes and however long you need it to be,” said Brian Cox, the FieldTurf official overseeing the Pecos project. If there are no delays, the field could be in place by the end of July, just prior to the start of the Eagles’ preseason practices. Currently, the target date for completing all stadium work is the week of Aug. 16, when the Eagles are scheduled to hold their final pre-season scrimmage.
Mark Williams of West Star Construction out of Georgetown is overseeing the installation of the liner, gravel and drainage system, which will channel water to the northeast side of the stadium. “The turf guys should be in here by next week,” Williams said on Thursday. “We’ll be putting the final grade in here by Monday.”
Roy Lindsay Construction is assisting West Star with their work. “They’re supplying us with gravel and helping us do grading,” Williams said. “We usually sub (contract) out to locals, to help out the community and keep the tax revenues right here.”
He added that the trucks would be dumping about 4,200 tons of rock on the field before the turf is laid down.
Williams, who is from the Chicago area, said he’s also been working on field projects there, and well as in Wisconsin, other parts of Texas and in neighboring states.. His next job is in the Houston area after the Eagle Stadium field is completed.
FieldTurf’s headquarters is in Montreal, Quebec, but Cox said he operates out of the company’s southwestern regional headquarters in Dallas. The company was actually the second choice of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board this past spring to do the installation, after the original firm selected, ProGreen of Louisiana, couldn’t secure bonding for its project in Texas.
That forced a re-bid, which was won by FieldTurf, for what turned out to be a lower price than the original agreement with ProGreen. Cox said the Eagle Stadium job is one of six high school fields in Texas the company is doing this summer.
“Right now, by the end of the summer we’ll be very close to 1,000 fields worldwide. Before the season got started we had installed about 800,” Cox said. Those include NFL fields for the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and both the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Cox said Pecos’ field is the third high school field in West Texas that FieldTurf has installed. The first was Dick Bivins Field in Amarillo, which was also the first high school field of any kind in Texas to get artificial turf, six years ago. The other is Lubbock’s Lowery Field, which Pecos played on last October when they faced Lubbock High.
Turf installations have not been without problems. FieldTurf’s main rival, SRI Sports out of Leander, ran behind schedule last summer in putting turf in the Mustang Bowl in Andrews and at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa. Odessa High and Odessa Permian ended up having to start their 2003 football seasons out of town, while Andrews has run into problems with “bunching” of their turf in some areas, much the same way a carpet will develop ripples when pushed in (the similarities don’t end there - the turf will have to be brushed every couple of months by maintenance crews too remove dirt, and according to The New York Times, the turf itself is made in Dalton, Ga., which is the one of the largest carpet manufacturing cities in the nation).
More importantly for those schools, SRI - which had been installing a modified version of the original Astroturf on fields across the country - filed for bankruptcy early this year, leaving schools like Andrews and Odessa unsure of their warranty guarantees for their turf, while other schools saw turf installation and/or track renovation projects shut down in the middle of the job.
It was the second time in recent years the company’s owning Monsanto’s original Astroturf patent has filed for bankruptcy. The status of the company and ownership of the patents, remains tied up in court.
The original Astroturf was first installed in 1966, after officials running the Astrodome discovered in the facilities inaugural season that players couldn’t see the baseball through the dome’s clear glass panels. Once the glass was painted over the natural grass inside the stadium died.
But the turf, along with other competing brands such as Tartan Turf and Politer, were laid down either over a concrete surface or with only a small amount of padding. That led to some extra bumps and bruises, while the coarseness of the surfaces also resulted in players receiving “turf burns.”
Despite the rock underlay, FieldTurf and other second-generation synthetic turf field are supposed to have more give underneath, creating a more natural surface (though the more expensive installations use a crushed rubber underlay). Meanwhile, unlike Astroturf, which resembled patio carpeting, or Tartan Turf, which looked like a green steel wool soap pad, the new turf is formed into blades 1 1/2 to two inches long, which are coated with oil to make them slicker and eliminate the “turf burn” problem.
How long the oil coating lasts during Pecos’ 100-plus degree summers and windy, dusty springs remains to be seen. Under the contract, the school district has an eight-year warranty on the playing field, which would run through the 2011-2012 school year.
One of the other problems that kept most school district from installing artificial turf in the past was the need for specialized footwear. Teams playing on artificial surfaces like Astroturf would also have to use a different type of shoe to avoid having their cleats catch in the turf. Because the new turf more mirrors natural grass, Cox said, “For the first time, players could wear their normal cleats. “
One of the selling points made during discussions over installing the synthetic turf was the possibility of post-season games. There are no Class 3A teams west of Pecos, but there are schools ranging from six-man through Class 5A the could use Eagle Stadium for bi-district or area round playoff match-ups, though seating
“Most all playoff teams are looking at sites (with synthetic turf),” said Cox. “They’re looking at going to this type of field because they know no matter what the weather conditions, they’ll have good traction and will not be a mud bowl.”
“The reason for that is when you do the cost appraisal of the field for multiple events it pays off,” said Cox. “You can have playoff games, soccer, junior high and Pop Warner (pee-wee) football on the same field. You’re not able to do that on a grass field and still keep it in shape.”
As of now, the number of high school and junior high games on the Eagle Stadium field shouldn’t change much from past years, though the number of youth games on the field could increase. The big change, school board members were told when the plan was first proposed, would be for the Eagle Band, which could now practice during the week on the field, instead of on the stadium’s parking lot due to fears of wearing out the grass.
At the time the plan was proposed, the board also looked into putting synthetic grass on the PHS baseball and softball fields, but those plans were rejected due to the cost, estimated at $1.6 million. However, the football stadium’s new turf is supposed to indirectly help the Eagles’ baseball and softball fields.
Both the varsity and JV teams will now practice on the main field instead of on the west practice field, which will allow for the installation of a permanent fence on the softball field, while the freshmen will workout on the unused section of the west field, instead of on the baseball field, taking wear off that surface.
Engery prices, e-bay raise local valuations
By JON FULBRIGHT
Hearings are scheduled for next Tuesday through Thursday by the Reeves County Appraisal Review Board on 2004 mineral and property valuations. Barring any major changes, the new numbers will be good news for three local taxing entities, but bad news for several others within the county.
Real estate hearings before the Appraisal Review Board are Tuesday and Wednesday, while the hearings on mineral valuations are on Thursday. Once the board makes hears the appeals and makes their decisions, the valuations will be finalized and sent to the local taxing entitles, which will use the numbers to set their budgets and tax rates for the upcoming year.
Increases in oil and gas prices over the past year has caused valuations within parts of Reeves County and western Ward County to rise to their highest levels in three years. For Reeves County and the Reeves County Hospital District, that means a net increase of $42.5 million in valuations, according to figures from County Appraiser Carol King Markham’s office.
For the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, whose area does not include southern Reeves County but does take in western Ward County, preliminary valuations are up almost as much, rising $42.4 million in the past year. That puts P-B-T ISD’s total valuations at $478,849,000, while the county and hospital district have $470,832,320 in valuations.
Of those jumps, over $38 million came from the increase in mineral valuations. The remaining $4.1 million for the county and hospital and $3.6 million for the school district resulted in increased real estate valuations, according to Markham’s figures.
“Our reappraisal was this year, and there are new personal property laws. People have to render their personal property,” said Markham. “We also reappraised the top property, the houses over on Winding Way and Jackson Boulevard, because those have been selling for so much more now. The (state) comptroller’s office called that to my attention.”
Markham added that increased real estate values also came from an unlikely source - the Internet.
“Landowners have been buying land off e-bay and splitting them up into separate parcels and doubling their profits,” she said. The land being auctioned on the Internet in some cases has no road access, but still have to be reclassified for tax assessment purposes.
“What we had been listing as grassland we’ve been changing to rural land,” Markham said. The different involves agricultural classification of the land.
The Town of Pecos City saw its real estate valuations increase by $2.5 million in the past year, thanks in part to the higher home valuations. But with no major oil or gas sites within the city limits, mineral valuations dropped $681,350, leaving the city with a total valuation of $114,357,730, which is up by $1.8 million.
Based on the current local tax rates, the increased valuations would net the city an additional $13,000 in tax revenues for the 2005 fiscal year. Reeves County Hospital would see an additional $157,000 in tax revenues, Reeves County would add about $242,000 and the P-B-T ISD would add another $636,000 in tax revenues for fiscal 2005 under the current tax rate.
County, hospital and school valuations last jumped sharply in 2001, when the three added between $120 million and $140 million to their net property worth due to a surge in oil and gas prices. Valuations declined in 2002 and 2003 until rebounding this year, as the price of oil and gas along with real estate values went down.
Real estate valuations are up for all local taxing entities for the first time in years in 2004, but for the remaining local taxing bodies within the county, they were not enough to offset losses in their mineral valuations.
Balmorhea ISD saw their real estate valuation jump $428,320, but a drop of $2.83 million in mineral valuations left the district with net loss of $2.4 million in valuations. The city of Balmorhea gained $105,800 in real estate valuations, but lost $258,220 in mineral valuations for a $152,420 net loss.
Toyah’s net valuations dropped $445,140, as a real estate increase of $53,480 couldn’t outpace a $498,620 drop in mineral values. Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2, which includes the Balmorhea area, saw its mineral values fall by just over $1.9 million, while gaining only $21,180 in real estate valuations, for a total loss of $1.885,160.
Over the past five years, Toyah’s total valuations have dropped almost 50 percent, from $2,270,850 to $1,191,630, while RCWID No. 2 has lost more than that since 1999, falling from $5.81 million in total valuations to $2.68 million in the 2004 preliminary figures.
Balmorhea’s valuations during the same time span are down from $3.54 million to $3.25 million, while Balmorhea ISD has actually gone up in the past five years despite the 2004 decline. Preliminary valuations this year are put at $20.55 million, up from $19.32 million in the 1999 totals.
Two jailed on coke charges after raid
By ROSIE FLORES
Two people were arrested Thursday evening after a narcotics drug search warrant was executed at a home in the south side of town.
At about 8:34 p.m., Thursday, officers from the Pecos Police Department and the Trans Pecos Drug Task force executed a narcotics search warrant at the home of Juan Carlos Lujan and his family, located at 717 S. Walnut St.
“During the search of the premises a substance believed to be cocaine was found inside and outside the residences,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.
Officers completed their search of the premises and Rene Lara and Guadalupe Lujan were placed under arrest for the offense of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) over one gram, but less than four grams.
“Both defendants were transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center and released to the jail staff for booking,” said Deishler.
Charges are currently pending for one more subject that was at the residence, according to Deishler.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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