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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Monday, August 7, 2000

Sales are up during local tax holiday

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 7, 2000 - Stores were busy in Pecos this past weekend, as shoppers ventured out to take advantage of the tax-free holiday sale.

Texans got a break from state and most local sales taxes on Aug. 4-6, the state's second annual tax holiday.

The Texas Legislature exempted most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 that they spend.

"We did really good Friday and Saturday, but it was kind of slow on Sunday," said Family Dollar Store Manager Leona Smith.

Shoppers bought more clothes than anything else at that store, according to Smith.

"We're having a big sale right now, so that might have had something to do with it also," said Smith. "We were really busy, Friday and Saturday and had a lot of people out shopping."

The store also carries backpacks, school supplies and other school items. "We sold mostly clothes, we sold a lot of shoes, underpants and dresses this past weekend," said Smith. "We're having a big summer clearance sale, on ladies wear, infants, boy's and men's."

However, Pecos' Wal-Mart and Dollar General stores didn't fare as well as they thought they would, at least as far as clothing was concerned.

"We were busy, but not as busy as we thought we were going to be," said Wal-Mart Store Manager Olga Guebara. "We thought we'd have more customers than what we did."

This year the state allowed the no-tax on layaway items. "Individuals could put these items on layaway and the no-tax break will still apply, so we did have a lot of layaways," she said.

School supplies, however, were the big sale items at Wal-Mart, with the store re-stocking on those items today. "We're re-stocking on school supplies, those did sell out," she said.

"We sold a lot of school supplies, even though the tax holiday didn't apply to those," said Guebara.

Dollar General's manager Danny Diaz said his store's sales followed the same pattern.

"I went pretty well. Our sales were up 10 percent (from normal) and there was a 15 percent increase from last year," he said. "People are still getting used to it, since last year was the first time this happened.

"We did most of our sales on school supplies. We had a lot of people buying that, but the majority went out to buy clothes in Odessa, which was the sad thing. One thing that we did not sell a lot of was clothing," said Diaz.

"If people keep their money here in town it would be all right, but we were still up in sales," he said. "If the state would elaborate next year with school supplies, it would be even better for the people around here."

School supplies were not exempt from the state's 8¼-cent sales tax, according to Carol McAnnally, with the Texas Comptroller's office. "This sales tax holiday applied to clothing only," she said.

Across the state, sales were reported above expectations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the exemption's popularity may prompt improvements. Legislators were being urged to consider making school supplies tax-free in coming years and extending the weekend holiday to two weeks.

In North Texas, retailers reported tentative sales figures that were better than expected.

"The good news is that most of our retailers are exceeding plan," Jan Cycon, Valley View general manager in North Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News in Monday's editions. "Compared to last weekend, our traffic is up 46 percent. So we continue to look at it as Christmas in August."

As many as 100,000 shoppers were counted at Stonebriar Centre's 150 retailers in Frisco, north of Dallas.

"We don't have tentative sales figures yet, but all the stores have been packed," mall spokesman Wally Brewster said. "All the stores we talked to are above their opening plan."

Opening of the regional shopping mall _ one of the largest in the Southwest at 1.6 million square feet _ was Friday, coinciding with the start of the tax holiday that gave shoppers there an additional 8.25 percent off in state and local sales taxes.

"It's been a very good weekend," Joe Shackelford, co-manager of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, told the Houston Chronicle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Observatory team plays part in discovery of planet

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 7, 2000 - A team of astronomers that includes Dr. William Cochran, of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis will announce the discovery of a planet at the 24th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Manchester, England today.

The approximate Jupiter sized planet is orbiting a star Epsilon Eridani, located 10.5 light-years away from Earth, making it the first such planet found this close to our own solar system.

Cochran will present the findings during the "Planetary Systems in the Universe" symposium.

"Detecting a planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani, a star very similar to our own Sun and only 3.22 parsecs from Earth, is like finding a planet in our own backyard-relatively speaking," Cochran said in a press release.

The planet is 297 million miles (3.2 AU) from Epsilon Eridani, roughly the distance from the Sun to the asteroid belt in our system, Cochran said. The belt is located between the planets Mars and Jupiter, about 2½ times the distance from the Sun to the Earth.

According to the press release, the new planet is between 0.8 and 1.6 times the mass of Jupiter and an orbital period of just under seven years-about 60 percent the orbital period of Jupiter but longer than that of most other extra-solar planets discovered recently.

The team of scientists studied nearly 20 years of high-precision radial velocity (RV) measurements of Epsilon Eridani.

Epsilon Eridani is the fifth brightest star in the constellation Eridanus, the river. This star is a relatively young star, less than a billion years old, slightly less massive than our Sun and slightly cooler at 5,180 degrees Kelvin.

The team's data represent a combination of six independent data sets taken with four different telescopes and with three different measurement techniques. Cochran and Dr. Artie Hatzes, also of the McDonald Observatory, drew from data collected by three other planet search groups, including the Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory and the European Southern Observatory in addition to their own observations made with the 2.7-m telescope at McDonald, located 75 miles southwest of Pecos in the Davis Mountains.

According to the press release, asymmetric, primordial dust rings made up of 1-mm-size particles extend 60 AU from Epsilon Eridani. The irregular shape of the ring may be due to another, undiscovered planet.

"If there is indeed a second planet, the asymmetry of the disk would suggest that the planet is orbiting just inside the ring, at a distance of 30 AU-much farther out than the planet we have found and with a much longer orbital period than one we've discovered," Hatzes said. "Thus, it might also be responsible for the possible overall slope in our velocity measurements. And where there's one planet, there may be more."

In addition to Cochran and Hatzes, team members consist of Barbara McArthur, McDonald Observatory; Gordon Walker, University of British Columbia; Alan Irwin and Stephenson Yang, University of Victoria; Bruce Campbell formerly of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria; Sallie Baliunas, Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics; Martin Kurster, Mechael Endl and Sebastian Els, European Southern Observatory; Geoffrey Marcy, University of California, Berkley; and Paul Butler, Carnegie Institution of Washington.

The announcement of the discovery comes just over a week after McDonald Observatory held a groundbreaking ceremony on July 29 to mark the beginning of the construction of the Texas Astronomy Education Center.

This unique, bilingual astronomy science center will showcase one of the nation's top science exhibits, "Decoding Starlight," an interactive exhibit for all ages that explains how astronomers use spectroscopy to understand the universe.

Other features include a 74-seat orientation theater, classrooms, a telescope park, and a star amphitheater. Construction of the $7.7 million, 11,000-square-foot Center, which will open in the fall of 2001, gets underway later this year.

"Our new Visitors Center is designed especially to tell the people who support what we do at McDonald Observatory and to excite Texas kids about science and technology using astronomical examples," said Frank Bash, Director of McDonald Observatory. "These future scientists, engineers, and technicians have a very important role to play in the increasingly high-tech future of Texas."

The ceremony also marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Observatory's W.L. Moody, Jr. Visitors' Information Center.

"The Texas Astronomy Education Center will serve as a valuable resource to students and educators alike. Teachers will be able to access timely information, lessons, and ideas that will bring the knowledge of astronomy to their students in a captivating and knowledgeable fashion," Director of Science, Texas Education Agency Christina Castillo-Comer said. "The Texas Astronomy Education Center will no doubt bring the heavens closer to Earth for all Texans."

Rangers to investigate death of Pecos man following arrest

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 7, 2000 - An autopsy has been ordered and an investigation is planned into the cause of death of a Pecos man, who was pronounced dead early Saturday morning at Reeves County Hospital, 5½ hours after the Reeves County Sheriff's Department arrested him Friday night.

According to information from the sheriff's department, Ysmael Mendez Lara, 67, was arrested at 8:10 p.m., on Friday in the 1900 block of South Cedar Street for public intoxication. The report said Lara was taken to Reeves County Jail where jailors and Sheriff Deputies checked on Lara every 15-20 minutes because of his reportedly intoxicated state.

Chief Deputy Victor Prieto said the jailors began to notice Lara looking ill and at 1:37 a.m., advised them to call an ambulance.

The Pecos Emergency Medical Services transported Lara to the hospital and the family was notified. The report said Lara died after being brought to the hospital.

"It's very unfortunate when something like this happens," Prieto said.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death, and because Lara was in custody of local law enforcement officials when he began having problems, the Texas Rangers have been called in to investigate the incident.

Funeral services were still being finalized for Lara late the morning at Pecos Funeral Home.

Registration set next week for new OC Training Center

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 7, 2000 - Community College enrollment in Pecos is definitely going to be up this year _ going from zero to an expected 300 to 400 students later this month.

That's because this will be the first semester for Odessa College's Pecos Technical Training Center, which will be holding its fall registration next week at the school's new facility on South Eddy Street.

Michelle Workman, director of the Pecos Technical Training Center, said fall semester registration would be held on Tuesday, Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., with late registration on Aug. 22 and Aug. 25.

"We will have counselors on-site for anyone needing last-minute advisement," Workman said during the center's official grand opening ceremony, held on July 29. "At 9 a.m. (Aug. 15) we will also have the `OC experience,' which is orientation for all new students. For any new students we would like to invite them to the `OC experience' so they can get some special treatment.

OC's Pecos facility will replace the classes the college was holding for students in Pyote in previous years. Workman said the school is already working with 300 students in Pecos on receiving financial aid to attend fall semester classes.

Dr. Vance Gipson, Odessa College President, said the school already has teaching facilities a several hospitals in the region, along with a Monahans nursing facility. It also has offered courses through 10 area high schools, including interactive video courses that have been conducted at Pecos High School for the past three years.

"We serve an area of over 32,000 square miles, which is the largest service area in the state and one of the largest in the nation. We're extremely pleased to offer this to the people of Pecos and the surrounding area," Gipson said following the July 29 dedication ceremony.

Equipment pick-up for Crockett teams set for Thursday

PECOS, August 7, 2000 - Seventh and eighth grade football players at Crockett Middle School can pick up their equipment for the 2000 season this Thursday at the gym entrance on the west side of the building.

New eighth grade coach Barry Truelove said coaches will be at the gym from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday to hand out equipment to the players. Practice for both seventh and eighth grade teams will be the first day of school, next Monday, Aug. 14.


Audrey Harlos

Audrey D. Harlos, 82, of Midland, died Sunday, Aug. 6, 2000, at Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Midland.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Mt. Evergreen Cemetery.

She was born Aug. 8, 1917, in Lola, was a retired caregiver, had lived in Midland for eight years and was a member of the Lutheran Church.

Survivors include one daughter, Vickie Brown of Midland and two grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Ismael Lara

Services are incomplete for Ismael M. Lara, 67, of Pecos, who died Saturday, Aug. 5, 2000, at Reeves County Hospital.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, August 7, 2000 - High Sunday 97. Low this morning 70. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low 70-75. South wind 5-15 mph. Tuesday: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High around 100. South wind 10-20 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low around 70. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Low around 70. High 98-103.

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Pecos Enterprise
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