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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Rodeo turnout up; fireworks set for July 4th

Crowds were up overall this year for the West of the Pecos Rodeo, as a fundraiser to help local cancer patients also helped increase the rodeo’s mid-week turnout. And West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee members are expecting another good turnout on Wednesday, when they host a Fourth of July fireworks show at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.

The 2007 rodeo played to an almost full house during its final performance on Saturday, while the second night’s performance on Thursday, which has seen the lightest turnout in recent years, was about the same as for the rodeo’s opening performance on Wednesday with the ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink’ fundraiser added to this year’s show.

“Thursday was way up from what we normally have and Wednesday was a good crowd,” said West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee President Joe Keese. The committee donated $1 for anyone wearing pink who attended Thursday’s show, and cowboys wearing pink who won their events that night were also eligible for a special saddle bag prize.

Keese said the weekend shows’ turnout was about normal for recent years. “Friday was the same as we normally have and we were packed tonight (Saturday), which we usually are.”

While the West of the Pecos remains Texas’ largest outdoor rodeo, this year’s show was moved up to the final four days in June in order to attract more of the top cowboys and cowgirls, by avoiding conflicts with some of the bigger rodeos to the west over the Fourth of July. To make up for the lack of any July rodeo dates, the Rodeo Committee scheduled the July 4th fireworks show at the arena.

The fireworks are scheduled to start at 10 p.m., but other events at the Buck Jackson Arena are planned for the hours leading up to the display.

At 4 p.m., there will be stick horse barrel race for the youngsters. The children will be divided into three separate age groups: 4-6 year olds; 7-10 year olds and 10-12 year olds will compete in the different “rodeo” events planned.

A rodeo clown dressing contest will follow and then a stick bull riding contest.

“We’ll put a little chute and they will buck for eight seconds and there will be judges,” said Keese, who added that the events would be held about an hour apart.

The winners will receive T-shirts as prizes.

“There will be steer roping, we’ll put out a bale of hay and have people out there showing them how to rope,” said Keese.

Other events will include a jumping balloon, a foam party and D.J. music.

“The kids can put on their bathing suits and play in the foam, which will be a lot of fun for them,” said Keese.

At 7 p.m., there will be a barbecue plate sale, catered by the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse. The plates will be $2, eat in only and one plate at a time. There will be no takeout on the barbecue plates.

The fireworks display will be held inside the rodeo arena at 10 p.m., with free admission.

“They can sit in the stands or watch it from the parking lot,” said Keese.

Because of the Wednesday night show, and the number of fireworks involved at the arena, everyone is asked to please not shoot off their fireworks at the rodeo parking lot.

The Reeves County Commissioners have designated Martinez Field for everyone to set off their fireworks there, since there will be a big display at the rodeo arena.

“We’ve been asking them not to set off fireworks at the south parking lot at the rodeo arena during the rodeo because it scares the animals and there was a lot of traffic going on out there,” said Keese. “And now we’re asking them not to because of the fireworks display.”

Past champs claim Pecos rodeo titles

One rider on the final night of the 2007 West of the Pecos Rodeo came away with first place in his event, while leaders from earlier in the week held on and won their titles at the conclusion of Saturday night’s performance, including several past winners in Pecos.

Cody DeMoss, the final saddle bronc rider of the night in the regular session, scored 83 points on board ‘Trail Dust’ to claim first place and $4,700 in prize money, while several past champions, including defending West of the Pecos Rodeo and National Finals Rodeo All-Around champ Trevor Brazile picked up repeat titles this year.

Brazile, who won his fourth All-Around title in Pecos on the way to his fourth NFR title last year, captured his fifth title on Saturday, as the lead he built up in slack competition held up through the four nights of regular performances. Brazile added to his top-rated multi-even earnings for 2007 by pocketing $5,932, thanks to a win in the first go-round of steer roping, where he also won the overall title last year, and a second place behind Guy Allen in the second go. His other money came from a first go-round victory, teamed with Charles Burleson, in the team roping competition.

DeMoss, who came in ranked No. 9 in the All-Around standings had to wait out a re-ride by Bradley Harter before being able to claim the saddle bronc title by one point over Jessie Bail and Tyler Corrington. They scored 82 points on rides Wednesday and Thursday night on ‘Centerfold’ and ‘Night Train’.

Rides on Wednesday and Thursday by Fred Boettcher and Howdy Cloud held up through the final two nights in bull riding. Both riders took home $4,192 for their rides, Boettcher on board ‘Ruby Rip’ during Wednesday’s show and Cloud, a past winner in Pecos, on Thursday riding ‘Grave Digger’.’

Bobby Mote, who like Brazile was a 2007 NFR winner, in bareback riding, is also the current 2008 money leader and tied for first place in his event in Pecos. His opening night ride of 86 points on ‘Black Magic’ was matched on Friday by Justin McDaniel, riding ‘Grass Dancer’. The two each earned $3,250.

Another defending champion from the 2006 West of the Pecos Rodeo, Terra Bynum, won her second straight barrel racing title. Her 17.44 second ride on Tuesday held up through all four nights of the regular show and was worth $2,508, while another rider during slack competition, Bennette Barrrington, placed second with a 17.51 time and took home $2,132.

Last year’s NFR winner in tie-down roping, Cody Ohl, took a step back towards the top of the rankings with his showing in Pecos. Ohl, who came into last week in sixth place in the PRCA standings, had the biggest single payday of any cowboy at this year’s rodeo, earning $7,320 for a sweep of first in the tie-down competition. His 8.5 and 8.6 times won both go-rounds and his combined 17.1 second time was 1.3 seconds better than runner-up Adam Grey. Blair Burke, currently No. 3 in the All-Around standings, was second behind Ohl in the first go-round with an 8.9 time, while Randall Carlisle ended up second with an 8.8 second time in the second go-round.

Cash Myers, the current No. 5-ranked cowboy in the All-Around standings, ended up second to Brazile in the All-Around rankings for Pecos. His combined 39.3 second time for three attempts in steer wresting won him the average and $2,600, after he tied for fifth in the first go-round, took fifth again in the second go and placed seventh in the third go-round. His $4,549 in winnings there was added to the $882 he won with a fourth place finish in steer wrestling.

Brazile, with his 11.5 time in the first go, won $1,757, as did Allen, the 18-time NFR champ, with the best overall time of the rodeo, a 10.1 in the second go. Lawson Plemons also won that much after his 10.7 time during Wednesday night’s show held up as the best time in the third go-round through the rodeo’s final three performances.

Gerald Paisley ended up winning the average in steer wrestling, with a combined 10.1 time on his two attempts. He was sixth in the first go-round and tied for second in the second go, earning a combined $3,083 for his efforts.

The rodeo did have one serious injury on Thursday night, when bull rider Rolfe Schwartzkopf of Casper, Wy., was stepped on after being thrown by ‘Black Sheep near the end of the show.Schwartzkopf was able to get up and run into the chute, but was later placed on a back brace and transported first by ambulance to Reeves County Hospital, before being airlifted to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa for treatment. Rodeo Committee President Joe Keese said Schwartzkopf is recovering after undergoing shoulder surgery in Odessa for his injuries.

The final two nights of this year’s West of the Pecos Rodeo were taped for telecast later this month on the Outdoor Channel, which is Ch. 66 on Suddenlink Cable in Pecos. It’s the first time the rodeo has been televised since the 100th anniversary West of the Pecos Rodeo 24 years ago, in 1983.

The Friday and Saturday rodeo performances will be shown four times over the next three weeks, twice on Wednesday night, July 11 and July 18, at 10:30 p.m., and twice on Sunday afternoon, July 14 and July 21, at 12:30 p.m.

School board trustees focus on leadership

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board trustees Lila Cerna, Lawrence Williams, Vanessa Simmons and David Flores, superintendent Manny Espino and personnel director Rey Villareal joined local trustees from across the state at the Texas Association of School Board’s (TASB) Summer Leadership Institute June 14-16 in San Antonio. More than 2,500 new and veteran school leaders received in-depth training on every facet of effective board governance, heard keynote addresses from renowned education experts, and picked up valuable ideas from district showcases of programs that work and numerous networking opportunities.

Hot topics explored during the two-and-a-half day institute included emergency management, student safety on the Internet, K-16 partnerships, school health initiatives, statistical integrity, pre-kindergarten programs, and clear communication on testing and accountability results. Breakout sessions focused on such topics as environmental and facility-related regulations, employer-sponsored child care, bond proceeds management, public engagement through district planning, superintendent/CEO searches, successful after-school programs, improved mathematics and reading achievement, construction budgets, gang violence, and education technology trends.

Thursday’s general session featured Tonea Stewart, actress, director, educator, and humanitarian, who also is a tenured professor and director of theatre arts at Alabama State University. In her session, My Grandmother’s Hands, she inspired attendees to keep believing in children and in the work they do for districts while reminding them to put aside self interest, work toward unity, and rally on behalf of children in their communities.Russell Quaglia, Friday’s general session speaker, is executive director of the Center for Research and Educational Advancement at Endicott College and a professor of education. His presentation, Understanding Student Aspirations: Enhancing the Learning Environment, focused on data gathered more than 200,000 students depicting their perceptions of their educational experience, implications on how schools are organized, and the role of educators to increase academic standards.

A full-day session for experience board members on Friday was led by Phil Boyle, who presented You Can’t Lead Public Schools without a Public! Public Problems, Choices, and Decisions in Public Schools. Boyle is president of Leading and Governing Associates, a governance education and consulting practice dedicated to helping public officials engage their communities and each other in constructive public problem solving and decision making.

Special training sessions were available to new board members, covering basics in teamwork, budget, governance, school law, and district planning and accountability. Board president’s academy sessions focused on basic duties, meeting responsibilities, and guidance for leading the team to work together effectively. Additional breakout sessions dealt with such issues as school prayer, teacher recruitment, special education, campus police, school bond elections, superintendent evaluations, and technology and academic integration.

TASB is a non-profit association established in 1949 to serve local public school districts. Texas school board members are the largest group of publicly elected officials in the state. The districts they represent serve more than 4.5 million students.

Council seeks to stop sales of properties to speculators

Pecos City Council members said no to the property sale of several parcels of land and no to adding four more high school students to the city’s summer jobs payroll, during their regular council meeting on June 25 at City Hall.

The council tabled the sale of four residential and two commercial properties because of fears that five of the six items were simply being bought for speculative purposes, while the addition of the four students on top of four approved by the council earlier this month came after a report showed the city didn’t have the expected utility revenues to pay for those positions.

One of the two commercial properties was being sought by a local resident, while the other and the four homes were bid on by California resident William Valov, who has been awarded bids on several other properties in Pecos in recent months, but has not begun any construction or renovations at those sites.

Council members discussed putting tougher deed restrictions on property sales in the future, mandating that buyers do something with their new property instead of holding it in hopes of getting a higher resale price in the future.

“They’re signing a contract that says they’re going to do something within a certain period, or they forfeit their contract and the land comes back to the city,” Alligood said. He added that if approved, those rules would also have to be adopted by the other taxing entities that have to approve the sale of those properties.

The council also asked that properties that are up for sale due to back taxes have on-site signs posted, in order to better notify neighbors or other local residents that the sites can be bid on for purchase, instead of having those sites bought by people from outside the area.

“What they’re doing is they’re calling the tax office up and asking them to send the tax rolls,” Sanchez said of those buying multiple properties. “All it is is speculation.”

The one property on the list not bid on by Valov was at 1519 W. Third Street. No action was taken on that bid, by Heriberto Rodriguez, because it is a commercial site, and the council opted to have the offer evaluated first by the Pecos Economic Development Corp. before making a final decision.

On a related issue, the council later discussed a request by Gilbert Gonzales for use of a small piece of land between the Reeves County Golf Course and the Town & Country Food store in the 800 block of West Palmer Street for a produce stand. City attorney Scott Johnson said a lease of the site for a produce sale shed could be done without going through public bidding.

Gonzales asked that the lease be drawn up as quickly as possible on the 45-by-50 foot property. Alligood said the city would try and draw up a lease based on fair market value, and Sanchez asked city officials, “to try and keep it as low as you can, to help these people.”

The decision not to hire the four additional high school students came after city public works director Edgardo Madrid produced a report showing that city revenue from water usage is down 11 percent from the same period a year ago, due to the rainy weather during the first half of 2007, which has lowered the need for outdoor water use.

Madrid also said the city would be forced to use other funds to pay for water and sewer line work on the southwest side of town, where two new motels are being planned along Interstate 20. “We have to put some money into that to make it happen.”

In other action, the council was updated on the watering plan for the center medians on Jackson and Ross boulevards. Madrid said city crews have been busy with other projects at Maxey Park recently, delaying work on the islands, where water leakage has caused subduction problems with the streets.

Madrid added that repairing the street problems would require major excavation work in the future to repair the low spots.

The council received an update on the Pecos Housing Authority and Farm Labor Housing from executive director Nellie Gomez. The PHS is currently seeking to buy the Farm Labor Apartments on West County Road from the federal government, after it became economically unfeasible to continue to maintain their year-round operation.

“The USDA has a mortgage on the property, but we could not operate the property under the former conditions,” Gomez said. She added that while the FLH apartments were turned back to the government due to the short period of use each year by migrant workers, five apartments at the site have been held back for rental to migrant workers during the impending cantaloupe harvest season.

Council members also approved the appointment of city secretary Crissy Barraza to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, along with city fire marshal Jack Brookshire as an alternate, in order to increase the board’s membership to seven. President Jim Breese told the council the board was normally at that level, but was down to just five members without the new appointments.

The council also voted to name the road to the city’s sanitary landfill “Landfill Road”, after there were no takers for having the road to the new trash dump named after a person.

A name had to be selected for the road for both mail delivery and 911 and police dispatch purposes.

City sewer grant approved, request for motel funds fails

A grant sought by the Town of Pecos City for work on the city’s aging sewer lines was approved by a state agency, city council members were told at their June 25 meeting. But a second grant sought for utility improvements at the proposed site of two new motels on the south side of town fell short of qualifying for state assistance.

Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid said the city received a letter from the Office of Rural Community Affairs that Pecos had been approved for $350,000 from the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program for the second phase of the city’s sewer system improvements. Pecos has just begun installing or repairing 8 1/2-miles of sewer lines on the north and east side of town, and Madrid said the new funds would go towards replacing the major sewer lines along Third and Seventh streets.

Madrid said the city will also use $70,000 of its own funds set aside for a cash match as part of the grant requirements. While Pecos has met those requirements in the past by providing its own workers on the project, Madrid said they would go outside this time to hire a project contractor.

“The city will not do anything. The contractor will do all the work,” he told the council.

The rejected grant was for $400,000 to the Texas Capital Fund. It would have helped fund the initial installation of water and sewer lines at the proposed site of a new Hampton Inn and a second motel, on the south Interstate 20 service road.

“We were No. 6 and they only funded four,” Madrid said. He added that the city could apply again for the grant in September, but would be looking at other options before then in order to begin work on the Hampton Inn, which was initially announced almost a year ago.

“What we’re going to be doing at this point is, the city will be doing some work on the sewer lines. We do have the money to upgrade some sewer lines and we’re working in cooperation with Pecos Economic Development (Corporation) to do improvements on electrical in order to provide service so these hotels will be able to happen,” he said.

Madrid said the improving local economy that made building new motels in the area attractive actually hurt Pecos in the scoring system to acquire the TCDF grant.

“Our poverty rate wasn’t as low as last year so we lost a couple of points there. Our employment rate also wasn’t as low as last year, so we lost a couple of points there, and the number of jobs that we were creating, 16, if it had been a little bit more than that, we would have gotten more points.”

Pecos motels have been operating at around 90-95 percent capacity since early 2006, due to the growth of oil and natural gas exploration and drilling operations in the area, combined with a shortage of available housing. The motel would be only the second built on I-20 in Pecos since the 1970s, with the other, an Oak Tree Inn, reserved mainly for use by Union Pacific Railroad workers who change crews in Pecos.

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