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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

God’s Army hosting tour of refurbished home

Open house for the refurbished God’s Army building at 1320 Veterans Blvd. is set for Wednesday afternoon and evening, said the Rev. Rey Carreon, chairman of the board of directors.

“Our volunteer staff has worked to make this abandoned house and yard attractive, safe and comfortable for after-school Bible programs and the evening and week-end ministry for youth,” said Rev. Carreon. “Youth in the He-Brews program supplied much of the muscle power to rip out old carpet, scrape up broken tile and dispose of junk left in the house We want everyone to see how the dilapidated building has been transformed by their repair work and creative planning.”

Staff members will serve refreshments and provide tours of the building and grounds from 3 to 7 p.m. Parents and students in kindergarten through high school are especially invited to meet their leaders and learn what the programs offer.

God’s Army began in 2001 as a means of teaching elementary age children Bible verses based on “The Armor of God,” as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. Both younger and older children showed an interest, so the program was expanded to include all school grades, Rev. Carreon said.

Kindergarten and first graders, dubbed “Obedient Bees,” will study the New Testament this year, utilizing short video clips, handwork and music. Marching teaches them discipline.

Second and third graders, or “Bible Buddies,” study New Testament this year as well. They completed the Old Testament last year. The weekly schedule includes memorizing Bible verses set to music, learning books of the Bible and marching.

Fourth and fifth graders memorize verses related to the six pieces of armor described in Eph. 6:14-17, receiving a piece of the God’s Army uniform for each segment learned.

Utilizing verses already memorized, sixth graders will learn how to witness to others through the “Dare to be a Daniel” curriculum published by Billy Graham.

Students in junior high and high school may participate in Air Wing activities, including computerized flight simulation, while becoming grounded in scripture to guide them through life.

“We believe that any Bible-believing church can support this program without compromising their particular doctrine,” said Rev. Carreon. “And children who do not attend church will receive spiritual guidance that can change their life.”

Carreon said that all curriculum material, uniforms and refreshments are provided through donations. Students are not asked to pay for anything.

Commissioners finalize new health insurance deal

Reeves County Commissioners approved agreements between the county and the new insurance providers along with several other items during a Monday meeting at the Reeves County Courthouse.

The group had agreed during a meeting held last week to change the county’s health insurance provider from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Assured Benefits Administrators.

“We’re going to go with the self-funded plan and it will provide the same coverage and everything else will remain the same for the employees,” said Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras. “It will be up to the employees if they want dental or not.”

Commissioners also approved an agreement with Rogers and Belding Insurance Agency. “This is so that they can access the records,” said Contreras. Rogers and Belding recommended that Reeves County purchase insurance through Lloyd’s of London, a stop-loss carrier. Assured Benefits will be the carrier, with Health Smart Network paying the claims.

Reeves County Treasurer Linda Clark told the group that enrollment went really well this past Friday.

“Some people just don’t like change, there were a few grumbling out at the prison, but they straightened all that out,” said Clark.

In other action, commissioners approved an amendment to interlocal agreement with the City of Balmorhea to assist with work inside the city. A representative from Balmorhea requested the help of the County Road and Bridges Department, because Balmorhea’s big equipment was not working. Commissioners approved the amendment and offered to provide help by the way of lending the city equipment and possibly manpower from the Road and Bridges Department.

“This agreement is that we will provide mechanical services and the use of equipment,” said Contreras. “Lynn (Owens, county auditor), do you see any problems with that?”

Owens said that as long as there was an interlocal agreement, there would be no problems in providing those services.

Commissioners also approved a change order to cover the increase on payment of roll-off unit.

“We were told that the other unit didn’t meet the height requirements and this other will be $3,982 more,” said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 Roy Alvarado.

“We’ll pay this separately so that we won’t have so much paperwork,” said Owens.

Commissioners approved Johnson Controls Maintenance Agreement contracts for A/C Chiller at both the RCDC I and II.

“They do a good job,” said Owens.

“Does this contract cover repairs?” asked commissioner precinct 2 Gabriel Martinez.

“We still pay for the major repairs,” said Owens.

A resolution authorizing 2008 Indigent Defense Task Force Grant was approved as presented.

“This is a relatively easy grant and is for $10,000 to provide attorney’s fees for the indigent in the county,” said Owens. “This grant doesn’t require a lot of effort and every little bit helps,” he said.

The group also approved the RCDC 2001 lease payment in the amount of $495,000; the RCDC 2001 maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166; the 2005 lease payment in the amount of $345,112; the RCDC 2005 maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166 and the RCDC 2007 lease payment in the amount of $218,389.

A resolution for the Nov. 6, elections was approved.

The county clerk’s office has designated a central counting station (Reeves County Courthouse) to receive and manually count the voted ballots for the Nov. 6, 2007, Special Election.

Personnel and salary changes included: at the Reeves County Detention Center I/II, new hire, Jaime Jurado, correctional officer at $31,179; case managers, Briar Prewit and Jennifer Navarrete, at $32,115.

At the Reeves County Clerk’s Office, part-time at $7 an hour, Dalia Galindo; at the Reeves County Library, part-time at $6.88 an hour, Cristina Barrera and Leslie Ann Radford, as substitute aerobics instructor at the recreation department, at $8 an hour.

City gets preliminary approval on water grant

Town of Pecos City has received preliminary approval for a grant from the Texas Capital Fund to install a new water line on the southwest side of town where a new motel is scheduled for construction.

City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid said he received preliminary scoring results on the city’s proposal, it’s second attempt at securing funds for the project.

“We ranked No. 1 on the Texas Capital Fund (scoring), so that will be $238,400 to pay for the water infrastructure improvements for the Hampton Inn,” Madrid said. “They’re making the recommendation to fund the project.”

Council members approved the second application during their meeting on Sept. 13. The city earlier this year was turned down for a $400,000 grant, and that by cutting their grant request by over $160,000, the city received enough additional points in the TCF scoring system to gain approval on the grant. The money 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.

“The only thing lacking will be the street improvements,” Madrid said of the hotel site, located along the Interstate 20 south access road (Palmer Street) at the Highway 17 exit.

The new line will tie into the existing line going to the Reeves County Detention Center at Cotton Street, and will follow Arizona Street north to Cannon Street, and from there east to Manahan Street, where it will tie into the existing water line near Colt Chevrolet.

“We will start the design as soon as possible,” Madrid said of the next step in the project. Along with the Hampton Inn, the new line may eventually serve a second motel, a restaurant, convenience store and truck wash proposed for the area along I-20 at the Balmorhea Highway.

Meanwhile, Town of Pecos City crews were busy over the past several days working to repair one major water leak and a smaller one on two existing water lines located on either side of Eddy Street.

The first leak forced crews to close an alley between Hackberry and Alamo streets, along with shutting down Jackson street for parts of Thursday and Friday, while the other leak shut a section of Monroe Street between Johnson and Morris over the weekend.

Ruben Contreras, with the city’s water department, said a line that dead-ends at Jackson in front of the Pecos High School tennis courts was the main problem for city crews, who had to go in twice to solve the problem.

“The pressure comes out there due to it being a dead-end line, instead of flowing through,” he said. “What we had to do is go 80-feet behind the leak and insert a valve.”

That allowed crews to cut off the water to the affected area and do the repairs, but the leak level the alley full of mud, and crews had to wait through the weekend before covering up the trench above the water line.

“We’ll check to see if we can back fill the alley on Tuesday,” Contreras said. If not, Madrid said the city would work to place emergency dumpsters in the area for residents, so that trash collection normally done in the blocked alley could continue.

The second leak isn’t as severe, Contreras said Monday morning, and involves a cracked pipe in the alley between Johnson and Morris. Contreras said both the damaged lines were 3-inch pipes, but the second repair could be made using a clamp, and he said repairs were expected to be completed by Monday afternoon.

Unemployment in county down during August

Reeves County’s August unemployment rate dropped back below 6 percent and nearly a full percentage point from July, according to figures released on Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

But the TWC continues to show the number of workers and jobs in the county in a downward slide, at the same time as sales tax collections reach record levels due to the energy drilling boom.

The August report showed Reeves County with a 5.7 percent jobless rate, compared to 6.6 percent in July. But is also showed a drop of 162 workers and 117 jobs from the previous month. Much of that was due to the return of students in summer jobs to school, but compared with a year ago, when unemployment stood at 6.7 percent, the TWC said the number of workers in Reeves County dropped from 4,114 to 3,919, while the number of jobs fell from 3,837 to 3,694.

The job numbers and the sales tax totals in the city have been going in opposite directions for the past three years. Numbers released by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office earlier this month showed the most recent sales tax rebate check for the Town of Pecos City was up almost 80 percent from a year ago, after the city reported double-digit increases in its tax rebates, based on sales made within the city, for the previous two years.

Across the region, unemployment fell by about one-half to 1 percent from July, with most counties reporting decreases in their jobs and labor forces due to the end of summer student employment.

Midland County’s unemployment rate dropped from 3.2 percent to 2.8 percent last month. The county lost 719 workers from July while its job total fell by 398. Ector County’s unemployment rate fell by half a percent, to 3.3 from 3.8 percent. The county’s labor force was down by 990, while the number of jobs fell by 636.

Andrews County’s rate fell from 3.4 percent in July to 2.9 percent last month. The number of workers fell by 78 and the job total dropped by 37. Brewster County’s rate went from 3.5 to 2.9 percent, as the county added 68 workers and 101 jobs.

Crane County’s rate dropped from 4.4 to 3.9 percent last month. The county lost 12 workers and three jobs compared to July’s figures. Culberson County saw its rate fall from 2.9 to 2.6 percent last month, with a loss of 21 workers and 14 jobs. The Dawson County (Lamesa) unemployment rate remains the closest in similarity to Reeves County. The county’s rate dropped from 6.5 to 5.6 percent, as the county lost 199 workers and 146 jobs.

Howard County’s unemployment rate was down from 5 percent to 4.3 percent last month. The county lost 251 workers and 148 jobs. Pecos County’s rate went from 5 to 4.4 percent, as the county’s workforce was down by 305 workers while the job total fell by 249.

In Ward County, unemployment dropped from 4.5 to 3.8 percent, with the number of jobs down by 45 while the workforce dropped by 12. Winkler County’s unemployment rate declined from 3.8 to 3.5 percent. The county’s workforce in August dropped by 35 workers from July while the number of jobs was up by 24.

Presidio County saw its jobless rate drop from 10.7 to 9.9 percent. The county’s workforce dropped by 158 in August, while the number of jobs was down 114.

The jobless rate for Loving County, the smallest county in the nation, was up from 11.1 to 12.9 percent. The TWC said Loving had the same number of unemployed, four, but lost five workers and five jobs from July, falling to 31 people in the workforce and 27 with jobs.

Winning enteries announced for 16th of September parade

Several entries participated in the Annual 16th of September Parade held last weekend in honor of the Mexican independence celebration.

Parade winners included in the float division: first pace, Rita’s Cakes and Flowers (Reina De La Virgen De Guadalupe); second place, Kary Rodriguez (2007 Mexican Queen) and third place, Clarissa Rodriguez (Little Miss Cantaloupe).

Car/truck competition: first place, Carlos Romo; second place, Ruben Tarango and third place, Ruben Orona.

Riding group competition: first place, Wally Moon; second place, Esteban Losoya and third place, Jaime Salgado.

Parade entry competition: first place, Senaida Hernandez (Reina Mexican 1956); second place, Pecos Kindergarten and third place, Geneva Flores (American Queen 1956).

Motorcycle entry competition: first place, Arturo Hinojos

Queen Candidates and winners: Kary Rodriguez, Reina Mexicana; Ashley Carrillo, Reina Americana; Doni Marquez, Reina Espanola and Katrina Machuca, princess Katrina Machuca.

Raffle winner (2007 Aveo Chevrolet Sedan) was Sarah Wentworth of Pecos.

Missed deadline forces county to cut tax rate

Reeves County property owners will be receiving a tax cut instead of a tax increase starting next month, thanks to a missed application deadline for the county to file for a higher tax rate.

The county will be adopting the budget and effective tax rate of .35325 cents per $100 in valuations on Monday, Oct. 8, at the regular scheduled Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting. That’s 2 1/2 cents below the current property tax rate of .379545 cents per $100 in valuations, but will raise the same amount of money for the county as this year, thanks to an increase of about $50 million in valuations since 2006.

The current rate was a 2 1/2 drop from the county’s tax rate in 2006 of .405456 cents per $100 valuations. But commissioners had planned to raise taxes this year, to .40158 per $100 in valuations.

However, due to some problems with the public notices, those plans had to be scrapped, to avoid putting Reeves County in violation of state law.

The law requires public hearings to be held if a taxing entity plans to enact a tax rate above the effective tax rate. Both the Town of Pecos City and the Reeves County Hospital District also are approving property tax rates above the effective rate, and held two public hearings on the rate. The final ones were held on Sept. 18, giving both groups time to then approve the new tax rates before the Sept. 30 deadline.

But commissioners failed to hold their public hearings in time to beat the deadline. State law requires that if the rules are not followed, Reeves County must set its tax rate for the 2008 fiscal year no higher than the effective tax rate, which leaves the county at the .35325 cent rate.

While the money raised through property taxes will be equal to the collections from the 2007 fiscal year, the county will lose about $325,000 in property taxes this year as a result of having to set the property tax rate 4.8 cents below the original proposal.

Reeves County Commissioners approved tax collections, 2007 certified appraisal roll totals and an officer to calculate the effective tax rate during their regular meeting, held on Aug. 28.

At that time, tax appraiser-collector for Reeves County, Elfida Zuniga, presented a copy of the tax collections for 2006 and the certified appraisal roll totals. Zuniga said that tax collections for 2006 were $2.24 million, including penalty and interest, and that the collection rate was 97 percent collections.

Vasquez celebrates first birthday

Michael A. Vasquez, Jr. celebrated his first birthday, Sept. 20, with family and friends.

He is the son of Lezlie Rayos and of Sgt. Michael A. Vasquez Sr. who is currently serving in Iraq.

His maternal grandparents are Irma Rayos and Jesus Barreno.

His paternal grandparents Arturo and Sally Vasquez.

Hill celebrates first birthday

Haylee Ann Hill celebrated her first birthday on Sept. 15.

She is the daughter of Karen and Craig Hill.

The theme of the party was Mickey Mouse. Family and friends were served cake and ice cream.

She is the granddaughter of Norman and Dorothy Hill and the late Arlene Hill, all of Pecos, and Keith and Carollee Waters of Amarillo.

Attending the party were her big sister, Laci, many aunts, uncles and cousins and special friend, Lindsey Shaw.

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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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