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Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Everybody ought to…

There are some things that everyone ought to have to do _ preferably early in their lives.

Everyone should have to serve in the military, work with the general public, and manage a business.

People who have done these three things are much more likely to be all-round decent human beings than those that haven't.

Military service ought to be a prerequisite to citizenship. My dad always told me that people don't appreciate anything that is given to them with few exceptions. The older I get, the sounder that advice seems.

Citizenship should not be a gimmie. It needs to be earned.

Few people who have endured boot camp, field exercises, chow lines, and the many other perks of military life can walk to the polls and cast a vote for someone unqualified to lead our nation in war _ and our leaders should always be qualified.

War happens. We should be ready. Today, we are not.

And somewhere between bootcamp and the chowline, something else happens to a lot of those who serve _ an appreciation for what it is to be an American is formed.

Better citizens walk away with their discharge papers in hand.

At some point, we all should be forced work in a job where we deal with the general public everyday. Waiters and waitresses, general sales _ something.

People I've met who has done this kind of work are nicer persons for it. They are more polite, cut others a bit of slack, and generally treat their fellow human beings with a good deal more respect and common courtesy.

The reason is simple _ they've been on the receiving in of impolite jerks a couple of hundred times and if they wanted to draw a paycheck and make the bills they had to restrain the urge to wrap their hands around the jerk's neck and test their grip strength.

After you've done that a couple of times, you think twice before becoming another jerk later in life when you are John Q. Public and the nifty cassette player you just bought ate your favorite Glenn Miller tape.

After working with the general public from that standpoint, we all ought to get an opportunity to run that same business from a manager's perspective.

Again, after a few short months, you come to realize that Jesus Christ was right, and perfection is not attainable. No matter what you do, mistakes will be made. And just like the lowly sales clerk dealing with tape-eating cassette decks, you are going to deal with the mistakes and all the less than happy people.

Later, when you are on the receiving end of one of those mistakes, your tone of voice probably won't be as strident as it might have been.

Sure, you want your cassette deck fixed, and you want the clerk to be helpful, and you may write the owner of Cassette Decks `R Us to tell him about the problem _ you ought to. Every decent manager/owner wants hear about problems with his product or service.

But the letter probably won't begin _ Dear Moron, and probably won't end with words you shouldn't print in a newspaper.

In total, these three experiences are great attitude adjusters. Once made, these adjustments seem to stick around for a long time, much to the pleasure of everyone else in the world.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

Does Pecos need "fixing"?

There has been a lot of talk about how to "fix" Pecos lately _ mostly referring to our economy. Along those lines, there are three questions every person in Pecos needs to ask himself or herself:

1) Do you like the way Pecos is going?

2) If not, what has to be done _ what will it take _ to turn Pecos around?

3) Are we willing to do it?

The answer to question number two is very simple. Pecos has a huge trade deficit with the rest of the world. Money flows out, but very little flows in. It doesn't take an economics professor to figure out that when more money leaves than comes in, we've got a problem.

The only solution is outside money _ and grants won't cut it. They may be building blocks to attracting outside money, but a grant should not be a final goal.

Somehow we have to figure out how to draw industry and/or tourists to Pecos.

Question number three _ whether we are willing to do the work required to do this is still a big question mark.

What it will take is teamwork. It will take community effort. It will take a realization on the part of Pecos residents _ a realization that when your neighbor prospers, you do too.

Generally, the attitude in Pecos seems to be jealousy when someone else has a turn of luck, or does well _ too often that seems to be the attitude in business, in politics and even socially.

If that is best we can do, then somebody needs to turn out the last remaining light at the courthouse and let Don Meredith start singing, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."

The most important question, however, is number one.

If a majority of Pecosans look around and are satisfied with Pecos as it is, nothing will fix Pecos, because in their eyes, nothing needs fixing.

Once again, it will be time to call Don Meredith, but we can at least save ourselves the effort of answering questions two and three.

Your View

Nurses, Dr. Bang thanked for a job well done

Dear Editor:
I just wanted to let you know that you guys have the best hospital there in Pecos. My daughter was in your local hospital about one month ago and I was very impressed with the care she recieved there. The nurses were very caring and very, very nice. Dr. Bang was good as far as caring for my daughters health. I live in Odessa and believe me as much time that I have spent in that hospital, I had never seen such caring medical professionals like at your hospital. I just want to thank all the staff at Reeves County Hospital for all the caring they gave my daughter during her hospital stay. If I am ever in need of being in the hospital for any reason (God forbid) I hope I am around your local hospital to get care. Once again Thanks for a great job and keep it up!!!


San Diego resident reads about our theatre

Dear Editor:
I read with great interest in our Sunday edition of the San Diego Union Tribune about the dream of one couple to breathe life into an abandoned theatre. I live in a city of almost 3 million people and it warmed my heart to hear about the unselfishness of these folks. I just wanted to let the residents of Pecos know that someone in San Diego is pulling for you. I wish much success with the renovation of the State Theatre. I think it will bring a lot of joy to your lives and with gas prices, it will save a lot of money and driving time. I hope the residents will rally around this project and help make it your own. This could be the start of something big!!!

San Diego, CA

People who live in glass houses should be careful

Dear Editor:
Call me crazy but I thought that the Earth Day organizer's choice of Leonardo DiCaprio as their spokesperson for the Earth Day 2000 event was ridiculous. Isn't this the same guy who drives a Chevy Tahoe, one of those evil greenhouse gas producing SUV's he was protesting against? I guess being a celebrity gives you a license to comment on the environment without having to participate in imporving it.

Speaking of glass houses, at the conclusion of the ABC Earth Day Special Mr. DiCaprio referred to the "butterfly effect," stating that much like the flapping of a butterfly's wings, "the slightest action could have a negative effect on the planet or in turn, it might result in something positive." I guess that means he is keeping his fingers crossed that the removal of native plants and the destruction of natural elements on one of Thailand's national park beaches by his film, The Beach, will result in a positive effect for the earth.

Do you hear that glass breaking Leo? How about cleaning up your own environmental record before casting stones at the rest of the world.

Fellow Generation X-er

Commissioner replies to criticism

Dear Editor:
In response to Juana Jacquez letter to the editor of April 25, Mrs. Jacquez's letter attempted to distort the facts and cloud various issues. As for the Reeves County Jail, the issue goes back to the summer of 1998. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards issued a Remedial Order demanding that the jail population not exceed 84 inmates and that other jail deficiencies be fixed. As managers of this county, we made the decision to save $l00,000 dollars for the good of this county. You minimized our decision. However decisions like this one have raised the county's cash reserves to over $1.2 million dollars. A good prudent business practice is to have at least 3 months of operating expenses in your operating cash reserves. The county's monthly operating expenses are a little over $300,000 per month. So, as responsible managers of this county, we attempt to save and stretch every dollar as far as possible. That is how we have been able to purchase a new fleet of vehicles for the Sheriffs Department, raise the salaries of General Fund employee's twice by some $1,500 per employee, raise the salaries of elected officials by over $3,000 dollars this year, and improve recreational opportunities for our kids.

But, I know these things don't matter to Mrs. Jacquez because what she wants to do is "skunk" anything that the Commissioner's Court does. As for how we handle the financial affairs of the county, I am not ashamed to say that we attempt to save and conserve money in any way possible. We began working on the jail problems over a year ago. Before any construction work begins, a tremendous amount of planning is involved. Our construction management professionals the problem and developed solutions, which were "bid-out," through a public advertisement in August of 1999, some, 8 months ago. But, as some people often say around here, `lets not let the facts get in the way of a good story."

As for the improvements to the courthouse, Mrs. Jacquez conveniently forgot that it was her office that received carpet before any other office in the courthouse. If she cannot recollect this occurrence, all you need to do is call Mr. Tony Herrera, the installer of the carpet in her office. Again, a very deliberate decision was made to improve the first and second floor offices of the courthouse, before the third floor courtroom and offices were improved. Why? Because people like Mrs. Jacquez would come back later and distort the fact that the improvements were made for everyone else, before they were made for the Commissioner's Courtroom and the County Judge's office.

And, lastly, as for the "skunking", with regard to the construction at the prison. If Mrs. Jacquez has any proof that any impropriety has occurred as a result of the expansion of the prison, she should file a formal complaint. The expansion of the prison operation will create over 300 new jobs in the community. In 1995, the total operating budget of the prison was $6 million dollars. This year the prison operation will be about $20 million dollars. Next year, the prison operation will generate over $30 million dollars. This is money that will circulate in our economy. If you haven't noticed, economic development is one of our top priorities. The expansion of the RCDC has been a Godsend for Reeves County. But again, "let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Over my entire life, I have heard many people talk about how envy, money, and pride are at the root of all evil. I have asked myself why would Mrs. Jacquez attempt to distort the facts and cloud the various issues, especially, given her personal circumstances. My conclusion is that her life has made her a "bitter skunk with the crab-syndrome.


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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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