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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, September 21, 2007

Woman jailed on assault charge after arrest stabbings

A 21-year-old Pecos woman has been arrested in connection with a Sept. 2 stabbing incident, and police said charges are pending on a second person linked to the case.

Angela Tarin, 21, 415 S. Cherry St., turned herself into police on Sept. 12 on a charge of aggravated assault, stemming from the Sept. 2 incident at the Howard Johnson’s motel on West Third Street. Two persons were taken to Reeves County Hospital in connection with the incident, with one eventually being transferred to the intensive care unit at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

Richard Ortiz of Monahans was taken to Odessa and was listed in critical condition for several days as a result of the stabbing. The other victim was identified by police as Isaiah Mendoza of Pecos. He spent two days in the hospital before his release.

Police Capt. Kelly Davis said the warrant for Tarin’s arrest was in connection with Mendoza’s stabbing. “We just charged her with one county, because the other person (Ortiz) hasn’t come in yet,” Davis said.

Following her arrest, Tarin was transferred by police to Reeves County Jail, where she remained as of Thursday afternoon. The second suspect, described as a male accomplice of Tarin’s, remains under investigation, but no warrant had been issued as of Thursday morning.

Police received a call at 4:52 a.m. on Sept. 2 that two people had been stabbed at the Howard Johnson Motel in the 2100 block of West Third Street. The two men were reportedly stabbed outside the motel, while two women were allegedly assaulted with bricks.

All of the victims were taken first to Reeves County Hospital, before Ortiz and Mendoza were transferred to Medical Center Hospital.

Police were told at the time that Tarin had stabbed both Ortiz and Mendoza. However, Police Chief Clay McKinney said no action can be taken until one of the victims agreed to file charges.

Salcido earns all-state honors on 3A academic baseball team

Former Pecos Eagles baseball player John Paul Salcido was named to the 2007 Class 3A Academic All-State Baseball Team by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Salcido, who graduated this past May, was nominated by head coach Eric Garcia based on grade point average, leadership abilities and extracurricular activities, and was named to the team as a second baseman.

Salcido was also named to the first team All-District 2-3A baseball team as a senior. He currently is attending St. Mary’s University in San Antonio seeking a biology degree with hopes of becoming a medical doctor.

Blue Bell honors Texas Teacher of Year regional finalist

Rewards for effort come in many forms. On Friday, Sept. 21, Art Rios, teacher at Crockett Middle School, will find out that sometimes rewards come in the form of ice cream!

Rios is a regional finalist in the competition for Texas Teacher of the Year. Blue Bell Creameries will be honoring Rios by treating the entire student body and staff of his school to Blue Bell Ice Cream.

On Friday, Sept. 21, a Blue Bell truck will pull up outside Crockett Middle School, 1801 Missouri, in Pecos, at 2 p.m., and a Blue Bell treat will be given to every student and staff member at the school.

In addition, Blue Bell will present Rios with a cooler full of his favorite Blue Bell flavor, Buttered Pecan, and a congratulatory letter from Paul Kruse, president of Blue Bell Creameries, L.P.

“At Blue Bell, we believe there is no finer work you can do in this world than be a teacher,” says Kruse. “The finalists for Texas Teacher of the Year are among the most outstanding members of their profession. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to honor Mr. Rios for his wonderful work.

“We wanted to recognize, not only Mr. Rios, but the entire student body and staff at Crockett Middle School. Part of our purpose is to remind all the students how fortunate they are to have Mr. Rios and their other dedicated teachers with them every day.”

The winner of the statewide competition will be announced Sept. 24.

The winner represents Texas in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Commissioners OK insurance provider change

After many discussion and meetings, Reeves County Commissioners agreed to change the county’s health provider for the upcoming fiscal year, following a special meeting Tuesday morning at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners have discussed the county’s insurance during several other meetings and had met with a variety of providers before finally coming to a decision on Tuesday. Don Crawford with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the current provider, along with Rogers and Belding, a health insurance broker, made presentations to the commissioners, and after much discussion, commissioners agreed in a 3-2 vote to go with the recommendation of Rogers and Belding to purchase insurance through Lloyd’s of London, a stop-loss carrier.

Assured Benefits will be the carrier, with Health Smart Network paying the claims.

“The cards will have Assured Benefits on it, which is the insurance,” said Reeves County Treasurer Linda Clark.

County Judge Sam Contreras, along with Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Alvarado Precinct 4 Commissioner Ramiro Guerra voted for the insurance change. Voting against the change were Precinct 2 Commissioner Gabriel Martinez and Precinct 3 Commissioner Saul Herrera.

Prior to the vote, Crawford told the group that changing the health care provider would be a lot of expense and lose productive time.

“We’ve changed over some large groups and they all say the expense was a 20 percent reduction,” he told commissioners.

Crawford said that they would be happy to provide references and provided the commissioners with a cost comparison.

Debbie Falknor of El Paso, representing Rogers and Belding, that Assured has a very good relationship with Lloyd’s of London.

“Even though claims did jump up in January, we feel that it’s a good risk,” said Falknor.

Falknor told the group that Health Smart was strong. “I know that there is a small percentage of employees that go to El Paso and the discounts are deeper,” said Falknor. “There will be no additional costs to those employees who choose to go there,” she said.

Falknor said that should the county choose to go with Assured, they could have representatives in Pecos on Friday to enroll all the employees and make sure they have a booklet.

“We’ll explain all their benefits and for those employees who are not available on Friday, we will work with them later,” she said.

“You keep talking about all these savings, but it looks like all these costs will be transferred to the employees,” said Reeves County Attorney Alva Alvarez. “The employees will have to pay more each pay period.”

“With the plan that the county wants to go with, they will be paying the same or less,” said Falknor.

She said that it was a one-year contract that can be renewed.

“I have another question,” said Alvarez.

“Ms. Alvarez, ultimately it will not be your decision, but this court’s,” said Contreras. “We already have your letter and know you’re opinion, so we don’t need to hear any more from you,” he said.

Alvarez sent out a letter last week criticizing the actions of commissioners in changing health insurance providers. She also accused commissioners of seeking to raise their own salaries along with those of other county employees.

Contreras said that they needed to concentrate on the total package offered through Lloyd’s and compare it to Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

“It makes it look more expensive to the dependents, but it’s our discretion what we want to charge the employees,” he said.

Contreras said that by changing some numbers the amount charged to the employees could stay the same, “So that they can pay the same or less,” he said.

City again to seek grant for water line project

Town of Pecos City will take another shot at acquiring a Texas Capital Fund grant for the city’s planned expansion of its utility lines on the southwest side of town, and are hoping changes to their proposal will increase the application’s chances for approval.

City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid outlined the plan to their council during their Sept. 13 meeting at City Hall. He said the city had been turned down for a $400,000 grant during the last application period, and that the next application was due in Austin by Oct. 11.

Madrid said Pecos fell just a few points short of approval last time. “This cycle we decided to lower the amount, which will give us 10 additional points,” he said.

The total amount sought is $238,000, which will be used to expand the city’s water lines in the area along the south side of Interstate 20, between Colt Chevrolet and the M&W Hot Oil truck yard on the Balmorhea Highway. About two-thirds of the grant would go towards actual construction, which would be handled by an outside contractor, Madrid said.

Madrid also talked with the council about plans for the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, and planning towards receiving a low-interest loan for its construction. He said funds were available on a “first come, first served” basis, and that the city was rated about seventh or eighth among Texas disadvantaged communities seeking TWDB funds in the current cycle.

“We have a couple of proposals from engineering firms willing to do the paperwork for the proposal,” Madrid said. He said a grant through the Texas Water Development Board was the city’s best option, but that one of the firms seeking the city’s business has been looking into the possibility of getting a grant to fund planning work on the project.

In other action last Thursday, the council was told by city sanitation director Martin Arreguy that Pecos has almost 40 percent more dumpsters in its service area than they thought they have, but would like to get rid of the ones that are damaged or rusting out in the near future.

Arreguy said when the city resumed control of their trash disposal service from Duncan Disposal at the start of this year, they were told the company had 1,300 dumpsters, but that a later count by city workers revealed there were 1,800 in the collection area, which includes both inside and outside city limits.

“We have about 225 bad dumpsters,” Arreguy said, while the city also has bought 33 new dumpsters in recent months. The city is also repainting and steam cleaning the dumpsters, and adding drain holes to solve rusting problems.

Arreguy and Adam Rodriguez gave the council a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation on the city’s new coding system to track the location and status of the dumpsters.

“What we’re trying to do is to have an accurate inventory of the trash bins out there, and not only that, but the condition they’re in,” Rodriguez said.

The program lists the location of each dumpster, pick-up schedule, condition of the dumpster, lid type, date of placement and the most recent inspection.

“We have all kinds of different sizes from what Duncan left us, which doesn’t make any sense,” Arreguy said. “You’re lucky if in a block you find more than three or four matching dumpsters.”

He said the system will allow the city to improve their trash pick-up routing, while at the same time getting a better idea on which dumpsters may be used for dropping off items that aren’t allowed in the city’s Type 1 landfill and should be brought to the Type 4 landfill.

Arreguy added that the system is also tracking the trash collections from the new roll-off bins. He said the bins have been used at the Reeves County Detention Center for alternate day pick-ups for the past three months, with a charge of $89 per collection.

The council also agreed to advertise for bids on the sale of city property in the Alberta Heights Addition. Madrid said the land in question has no use by the city, and that adjacent landowners are seeking to buy the property.

Council members also voted following an executive session to allow city manager Joseph Torres to set out the duties of the city health inspector, who will report to the city manager, and agreed to interview candidates for the municipal court judge position during their Oct. 11 meeting.

They also agreed to the placement of a stop sign on Jefferson Street at the intersection with Pigman Street, to slow the speed of vehicles on Jefferson between Texas Street and the Balmorhea Highway.

The council also held their second public hearing on Tuesday for the city’s new 73 cent tax rate, but there were no public comments from the audience. The tax rate is eight cents lower than last year’s 81-cent figure, but due to higher property valuations and sales tax collections in the past year, is still 10-cents above the rollback rate, which triggered the Tuesday budget hearing and an earlier one on Sept. 13.

Council members will formally vote to approve the city’s new tax rate and budget for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, during their regular meeting next Thursday at City Hall.

Board told of school construction plan additions

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members received their monthly report from the architect handling the construction phase for the different campus construction projects, including several additions to one campus project, during their regular meeting held Monday evening in the Technology Center.

Architect Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral Associates of Midland said project workers had a really good meeting with the staff at both Bessie Haynes Elementary and Crockett Middle School, the first two campuses scheduled for new additions, as part of the $30 million bond issue passed earlier this year.

“All these plans are going pretty fast,” said Hunter. “We have the floor plans tied down at Bessie Haynes and getting a level of detail.

“Then we go into the schematics for Bessie Haynes and Crockett,” he said.

Hunter said that so far they are on schedule, even with one major change in the Bessie Haynes project, wit the addition of another science lab.

“We’ll have two science labs at Bessie Haynes,” he said, which will be located in the middle of the school. “It works really well there,” he said.

Two other changes were also made to the initial project.

“We’ve enlarged the music room and added a health class,” said Hunter.

At Crockett Middle School, two more tennis courts were added and a full practice field without the end zones, according to Hunter. The courts and practice field will be along the drainage ditch, while the new junior high football field will be located to the north, along Lincoln Street.

“We decided to have some flex rooms, that can be used for science, computers, or whatever. “Those three rooms can be used for anything,” he said.

Out by the gym, the band director just wanted them to add a corridor, according to Hunter.

“It’s starting to come together,” he said.

Two other projects discussed involve additions for the Pecos High School baseball and softball field, and the PHS tennis courts.

Hunter told the group that the concession stands will be added on the north side of the softball field and in-between the baseball field and tennis courts. The new concession area will include rest rooms and will be double-sided.

“This will allow those that are working the stands to see either the tennis games or the baseball games,” he said.

Hunter also said they hope to get the next phase of the project done by the end of the year.

.“We’re wanting to bid Crockett and Bessie Haynes by the end of the year and get those to you late October, early November to approve,” he said.

Hunter said that after those bids are approved construction will begin.

“So we’ll be looking at construction for both Bessie Haynes and Crockett by January,” asked board member Bubba Williams.

“Yes, that’s the plan,” said Hunter.

The board also approved a standard contract with Hunter, during their meeting.

“We used the same that we had when we did the other construction, just the names of the schools and the construction is changed,” said Hunter.

Budget amendments were approved as presented by finance director Cookie Canon.

“When we dedicated the fund balance, the turf project was not closed,” said Canon. “They still owe us some paperwork before we can close it, but we have the money to pay it,” she said.

Tax assessor-collector Lydia Prieto presented errors and corrections 2006 and prior tax rolls to the board.

“This is a notice of corrections from the appraisers office, there was a decrease on tax roll,” said Prieto.

Board members also approved the reading and math academies and accelerated reading and math, which began for students in kindergarten through 8th grade this past Monday afternoon.

“This is an after-school program aimed to help students,” said school superintendent Manny Espino.

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