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Friday, February 11, 2000

Officials weigh future of juvenile center

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - Concerned citizens met last night at the Pecos Community Center to discuss the future of the local juvenile justice program with Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Albert Alvarez.

The Reeves County Juvenile Board, the entity charged with overseeing juvenile justice programs in the county, sponsored the meeting. The board is comprised of District Judge Bob Parks, County Judge Jimmy Galindo, and County-court-at-law Judge Lee Green.

"I was asked to make a recommendation for the future of the juvenile program by the Juvenile Board," Alvarez said. "The reason for this meeting is to find out what the community wants to happen with the juvenile program."

Alvarez said that Reeves County had four basic choices for the future:

1) A 48-hour hold over facility. This is what the county has now. Juveniles can be held up to 48 hours while a decision is made whether to detain or release.

2) The second choice is total privatization. Privatization would shut down the local 48-hour facility and all juvenile detention needs would be contracted with a private facility. Right now, Reeves County contracts out all detention needs that exceed the 48-hour limit.

3) A pre-adjudication facility. A facility of this type would be certified to detain juveniles up until a court date.

4) A post-adjudication facility. This type of facility would be certified to detain juveniles for any length of detention.

Alvarez said that all of the choices have pros and cons.

"Right now we are spending about $88,000 a year to house juveniles pre- and post-adjudication. It would be nice to keep that money in Reeves County," he said.

"But, it will cost money to do that."

Alvarez said that there were other factors involved as well.

"This decision shouldn't be based strictly on money, either," he said. "Right now our juvenile crime rate is down, and we think that one of the reasons is that we have been shipping kids away from Pecos. Away from their home where they are comfortable. This seems to be a real deterrent."

Alvarez also said that in the recent past juvenile detention facilities have become big business and the market was now highly competitive.

"The standards required for the pre- and post-adjudication facilities are much higher than those for the 48-hour facility. Staffing would become very expensive," he said.

Converting the current facility into a pre- or post-adjudication facility would not take any physical remodeling.

"We have staffed the current facility as a post-adjudication facility in the past," he said.

The current facility has 12 beds.

It would take an average occupancy of six juveniles per day for the center to break even with the increased staffing costs.

"There certainly is no guarantee that we could maintain that level of occupancy," Alvarez said.

Alvarez said that just looking at the costs, simply shutting down the facility completely and contracting for all detention needs made the most sense.

"That's the cheapest option, but not necessarily the best one," he said. "The 48-hour facility is a real benefit to the county, especially law enforcement. Having the facility here drastically reduces the time a police officer is tied down after he picks up a juvenile."

No decisions were made, but Alvarez said that he was very pleased with the strong turnout for the meeting and that the Juvenile Board will meet next Thursday, February 17. The meeting will be held in the courtroom on the third floor of the courthouse and is open to the public.

RR commission not ready to place blame for outage

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - A frozen gas line east of Pecos and a service failure west of town are the suspected causes of last weekend's gas outage in Pecos, according to the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees oil and gas operations in the sate. But a Railroad Commission investigator said the agency is not yet ready to assign final blame to anyone for the problem.

Glenn Taylor of the Railroad Commission's El Paso office, partially confirmed a report in Thursday's Odessa American that frozen moisture in Southern Union Gas Company's line coming out of Pyote is the suspected cause of the outage, which lasted for about 18 hours, and left many residents without gas for their furnaces, water heaters and stoves for as much as 36 hours between the early morning hours of Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

"Right now everything is real speculative at this time. We don't know for sure yet how it happened and why it happened," Taylor said. Temperatures in the area dropped below freezing in the early morning hours on Saturday, at the time the line reportedly froze.

A failed piece of equipment on the line has been pulled for inspection by the company, according to Taylor, who is working with Southern Union officials in El Paso. Along with the Railroad Commission's investigation, Southern Union is conducting their own probe of the incident.

When the main line fails, a backup line is supposed to provide emergency service. But that line, coming into Pecos from the west, did not activate, Taylor said.

"There's a contractual agreement between Southern Union and West Texas Gas," to provide the emergency service, Taylor said. The Railroad Commission is still trying to find out who was responsible for the failure of the second line.

"What we will do if we find a violation of safety rules is to issue citations," Taylor said.

Both the Railroad Commission and Southern Union said earlier this week they did not expect to have a final report on the incident for at least 30 days.

Donation for Balmorhea center on county agenda

PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - A donation of property to Reeves County from the Balmorhea Independent School District for the purpose of a creating a Balmorhea Community Center will be a topic of discussion at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting Monday morning.

The group will meet at 9:40 a.m., on the third floor of the courthouse and the public is invited to attend.

Commissioners will discuss and approve several contracts relating to the 1,000 bed addition at the Reeves County Detention Center, including; payment to DRG Architects, Banes General Contractors and Frank Spencer.

Commissioners will also discuss the RCDC construction manager - general conditions. Pharmaceutical and dental services contracts will also be on Monday's agenda

Other items include discuss and approve fire protection services interlocal agreement between Reeves County and Town of the Pecos City for FY 2000, and a contract between the county and Reeves County Hospital for Emergency Medical Services at the RCDC.

Commissioners will also look at the Juvenile Detention Services Contract and agreement between Pecos County and Reeves County; interlocal cooperation contract for Natural Resources Conservations Services between Reeves County and Upper Soil and Water Conservation District; Reeves County on-site sewage facilities regulations amendment and a resolution for Texas Community Development Program Contract 71810.

A request for varsity girls golf tournament and junior high school golf tournament will be discussed along with Reeves County Golf Course proposed policies amendment.

Other items to be discussed and approved include:

· Reeves County Revolving Loan Fund.

· Reports from various departments.

· Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

· Personnel and salary changes (RCDC, Road and Bridge, Task force, county treasurer, recreation department and county auditor).

· Minutes from previous meetings.

· Semi-monthly bills.

· Spread on minutes: Notice of over-axle over gross weight permits; appointment of assistant county auditor, Zulema Dominguez and Texas Departmetn of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Dianne Florez.

Aguilar seeks to increase trust in running for sheriff

PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - Developing trust and credibility among the sheriff's department for all of Reeves County is the main goal of Reeves County Sheriff Candidate Anthony "Tony" Aguilar.

"Let's have a new beginning," said Aguilar, who is running against incumbent Arnulfo Gomez in the March 14 Democratic primary. "Without trust and credibility we cannot function as a community."

Aguilar is a native of Pecos. He has been married to Linda Rodriguez for 17 years and the couple has been blessed with three children: Tony Jr., 15, Jonathan, 10, and Jessica, 7.

His parents are Gene Marquez Aguilar, Jr. and Janie Mora Aguilar Martinez. Grandparents are the late Eugene Aguilar, Sr., Maria De La Luz Aguilar, the late Camilo Dominguez Mora and Amelia Bitolas Mora.

"I am currently employed by West Texas State School and Reeves County Juvenile Detention Center," said Aguilar.

Past employment includes: 11 years with the sheriff's department as a jail supervisor, patrol deputy, member of the SWAT Team and in charge of the Reserved Deputies. "I obtained my certification from the Pecos Police Academy through Odessa College," said Aguilar. "I also acquired 1,200 hours of law enforcement training," he said.

Aguilar said he has dedicated 10 years to the youth of this community. "I coached, umpired, refereed football, basketball, and summer track for the Pecos Youth Recreation Department," he said.

"I have been involved with the Pecos Little League Organization for the past eight years. I am currently president for Pecos Little League and a former volunteer fireman," Aguilar added.

"I am asking for the opportunity to work for you and to be a servant to all of Reeves County residents," he said.

If elected, Aguilar stated that the sheriff's department would help in elderly programs, church activities and community functions.

"Another priority is to battle the war on drugs. I will work with all local government and law enforcement agencies to strengthen our county by working jointly with our judges, prosecutors, city, school, and state law enforcement agencies," said Aguilar.

"I will give more patrol to our farms and ranch areas to decrease thefts and burglaries," he said.

Aguilar said local residents we have a youth problem and that Pecos youth are intimidated (by the gangs) and will not attend community functions. "Another priority is decreasing gang membership, gang activity, and gang involvement by working with our juvenile probation officers," he said.

"I will also work with the school district to find ways to keep students in school and raise the education level of our citizens in our communities," said Aguilar. "I will start a D.A.R.E. program, and have more hands-on involvement with youth programs."

Aguilar would also like to start a boys and girls club in Pecos and Balmorhea. "This will be sponsored by the sheriff's department through donations and fund raisers, which will be open to each and every child in our community," he said.

It will include a safe environment where kids can come and do their homework, watch educational videos, play games, fellowship with one another, and have the opportunity to speak with mentors, according to Aguilar.

"My door will be open day and night, regardless of your gender, race, and religion," said Aguilar. "I will walk that extra mile for everyone and listen to all suggestions and concerns," he said.

"I will team up with our community leaders to improve the quality of life and give Reeves County a brighter, better, and safer future," said Aguilar.

"Most importantly, I will restore dignity and respect between the sheriff's department and all the citizens of Reeves County," said Aguilar.

"If we, the caring people, unite together with the grace of God, we can and will make a difference," said Aguilar.

Private investors purchase of TNP approved by state

FORT WORTH (AP) - The Public Utility Commission of Texas on Thursday approved the sale of TNP Enterprises Inc., the holding company for Texas-New Mexico Power Co., to a group of private investors.

The buyers are led by William J. Catacosinos, Laurel Hill Capital Partners LLC and CIBC World Markets. The deal is expected to close in late March.

Kevern Joyce, TNP chairman, president and chief executive, said the PUC vote removes the biggest uncertainty in completing the acquisition.

Texas-New Mexico Power was created in 1935 and provides electric service to 85 cities and more than 233,000 customers in Texas and New Mexico. It has 823 employees.

Shareholders of TNP voted in September to approve the sale for cash and debt totaling about $1 billion. TNP shareholders will get $44 per share in cash, the company said.

Humbug - Christmas tax rebates plunge

PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - Christmas sales were anything but merry for businesses and cities in West Texas, according to figures released Thursday by state comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office.

Outside of Wink, Balmorhea and Grandfalls, city sales tax figures for the recent holiday season plunged throughout the region, mostly by more than 10 percent, while sales tax rebates overall in Texas were unchanged from December, 1998, Rylander's office said.

Pecos' sales tax rebate check for February, based on its 1½-cent share of the state's 8¼-cent tax, was 77,391, down 16.89 percent from a year ago. The decline came despite an improving economic picture in the area, thanks to rising oil prices.

Pecos' total was about average for the region this month. Big Spring and Fort Stockton saw their rebate checks fall by over 18 percent, Andrews' check dropped by over 19 percent, Kermit was down by over 20 percent and Monahans saw its check for February plunge by almost 25 percent from a year ago.

Sales tax rebates in the area's two biggest cities, Midland and Odessa, were down a little bit less. Midland saw sales decline by 10½ percent and Odessa by 13¾ percent, though both got back checks of over $1 million, thanks to holiday sales.

Even cities in the Big Bend - which avoided the drop in sales tax revenue created last year by lower oil prices _ saw their rebate numbers drop. Alpine was down by just 3½ percent, but Marfa's rebate check fell 17.3 percent, Presidio was down just under 11 percent, and Van Horn saw its February check come in 23 percent lower than a year ago.

The drops came after double-digit increases were recorded by most area cities on their January rebate checks. Wink was the only city to duplicate that in February, as its check for $3,153 was up over 131 percent, after a 133 percent rise a month ago.

Balmorhea also bucked the trend. Its rebate check for 1,351 was up 11.38 percent, but that was due in part to a half-cent rise in the city's sales tax since last year, according to Rylander's office.

Toyah's rebate check was down 67 percent, from $907 to $299. Toyah was also down 40 percent a month ago, but some of that could be due to the large number of workers in the area in late 1998 and early 1999 involved with the rebuilding of Interstate 20 in western Reeves County.

Reeves County Hospital also took a hit in its ½-cent sales tax rebate. The hospital got $29,540 back from Austin, down 21.58 percent from a year ago.

The Permian Basin's drop in tax rebates were offset by the rest of the state, and rebates to all of Texas' cities totaled $293.69 million, up just 0.01 percent from the $293.63 million of a year ago.

Houston again got the largest individual check, for $41.2 million, up 3.4 percent from a year ago. Dallas was next, with a rebate check of $25.9 million. 1.7 percent higher than February 1999.

P-B-T seeks  applications for Gifted and Talented

PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD is seeking students in the district for the Gifted and Talented Program.

If you have a child, or know of a child, who learns and understands things much faster and at an earlier age than most children his or her age, he or she may be intellectually gifted.

If a child demonstrates an unusual ability in the visual or performing arts, thinks in creative or unusual ways, or shows strong leadership traits, he or she may be gifted in one of those areas. Children who have any of these characteristics may be nominated for the Gifted and Talented Program.

Nominations may be made by parents, relatives, teachers, or community members and should be submitted by March 1.

Forms must be completed on each student nominated and can be obtained by calling the G/T Program Coordinator, Nancy Russell, at 447-7236, or by calling the G/T facilitator at the student's school. Facilitators for the grade levels are: Sue Parent at Pecos Kindergarten; Jane Green for Austin Elementary, First Grade; Anita Zubeldia for Austin Elementary, Second Grade; Lynette Portillo at Pecos Elementary; Alice Wein for Bessie Haynes Elementary, Fourth Grade; Beverly Thomas for Bessie Haynes Elementary, Fifth Grade; Betty Cook at Lamar Middle School; Ronny Daniel at Zavala Middle School; Gail Box at Crockett Middle School and Jeanine Ivy at Pecos High School.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night: Winning numbers drawn: 6-14-32-34-36. Number matching five of five: 3. Prize per winner: $27,424. Winning tickets sold in: Austin, Copperas Cove, Paris. Matching four of five: 214. Prize: $577.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 1-0-8 (one, zero, eight)


PECOS, Feb. 11, 2000 - High Thursday 81. Low this morning 42. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 30s. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High in the lower 70s. South to Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 35 to 40. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High from the mid 70s to near 80.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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