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Thursday, August 24, 2000

Council briefed on new tax rate during meeting

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 24, 2000 - Pecos City Council members were told this morning by tax Assessor Collector Lydia Prieto that the 2000 debt tax rate will be lowered from last year's rate at 95 percent to 92.5 percent, debt collections for 1999 exceeded the needed amount by $31,184.

Prieto told the council about the reason for lowering the debt tax rate during a discussion of the city's fiscal year 2001 tax rate this morning, at the council's regularly scheduled meeting.

Finance Director Steve McCormick told the Council that he has set up a special fund to put the extra money, from which the city could withdraw funds to pay bonds.

Prieto also told the council that the effective tax rate would be .75088 cents per $100 valuation, and the rollback tax rate would be .83490 cents.

The 2000 debt tax rate of .24746 cents per $100 valuation has been published in the paper therefore the council must adopt that rate, according to Prieto.

Prieto told the council if they set a tax rate of the combined debt rate and maintenance and operating tax rate exceeding .83490 they would have to hold a public hearing.

The council will set a tax rate during a future council meeting. The city's tax rate for the past two years has been set at 69.67 cents per $100 valuation.

In other action this morning, the council approved renaming the Eastside Community Center to the Bessie Haynes-Sydney Sadler Community Center.

The Council first considered renaming the center after the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

Community members went before the council during the last regular meeting to consider naming the center after someone who has directly affected the town of Pecos.

They asked the council to consider honoring Haynes or Sadler, both former educators in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD.

This morning, Sadler's wife, Billie Sadler, said she and her family would like the council to consider naming the center after her husband. She then explained to the council all the things Sadler had been involved in during his life.

Although she said she would like the Council to consider his name she stated that she believed that the Council would make a wise choice and would be happy with their decision whether to name it after Sadler or Haynes.

"My only bias is I feel that a local person being honored would be wise," Billie Sadler said.

Councilman Ricky Herrera said he has discussed the suggestions with some members of the Juneteenth Committee and explains those community members supports both suggestions.

"We have seen some members say the wanted Bessie Haynes and some want Sydney Sadler," Herrera said.

Mayor Pro Tem Danny Rodriguez said he believed that honoring Sadler would be fair.

"We do have the school named Bessie Haynes and I think we should name it Sydney Sadler because he did run it for so many years," Rodriguez said.

City Attorney Scott Johnson then said when the Dean family donated the land and park to the city there were restrictions placed on the contract saying the park should be named in memory of Haynes.

The Council then decided to honor both people for their influence on the community.

An Anchor West representative, Letty Ruiz, was on hand at the meeting requesting permission to reserve Maxey Park for their annual company picnic.

Ruiz said Anchor has used the park for the past three years.

Herrera asked Ruiz if they would want the streets around the park blocked off. Ruiz said the company would like that and last year the water department helped close off the roads.

The Council asked city water superintendent Octavio Garcia if he would be able to help with the closing and he said yes, after which members approved Anchor West's proposal.

Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney asked permission from the Council to go ahead in applying for funding through the U.S. Marshal's Service for the new city jail.

"I have received the C.A.P. fund application and I am willing to pursue that if the Council wishes," McKinney said. The expanded jail would house the Pecos Police Department along with local inmates and those being held by the Marshal's Service awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in Pecos.

The Council told McKinney to continue pursuing the application process.

State Theater owner Richard Creasy asked the council to be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

Creasy, who is a licensed pyrotechnic, said he would like to present the council with an idea for a New Year's Eve fireworks celebration.

Members later went into executive session to discuss the appointment of a new city manager or interim city manager.

The Council's announcement of the interim or new city manager as well as other items on the agenda will be covered in tomorrow's issue of the Pecos Enterprise.

House raids land four in jail

PECOS, August 24, 2000 - Pecos Police, in conjunction and officers from other local agencies, arrested four men on Wednesday in drug raids on two homes, after substances believed to be heroin were found at both sites.

Officers from the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force executed their first narcotics search warrant at the home of Ramon Natividad, 2318 County Club Dr.

"Once the officers entered into the residence to execute the warrant it is believed that the three male subjects inside were in the process of packaging heroin for sale," said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

The officers secured two of the subjects, while the third suspect ran into the bathroom of the residence in an attempt to flush the substance believed to be heroin, according to Deishler.

The officers were able to secure the man inside the bathroom before he was able to destroy the evidence, however.

Once all three were secured the officers proceeded to search the residence.

"Inside the restroom, where the male subject had fled to was a large amount of a substance believed to be heroin," said Deishler.

Inside another room of the residence there was material that is used in the packaging of heroin, according to police reports.

Officers completed their search of the residence and the three were placed under arrest for the offense of possession of a controlled substance, (heroin), with the intent to distribute.

All three are still in the Reeves County Jail awaiting arraignment hearings.

Arrested in that incident were Ramon Natividad, 54, Francisco Rico, Sr., 62 and Michael Varela, 27. All three were charged with possession of heroin, a first-degree felony and possession of drug paraphernalia, also a first-degree felony.

Following that warrant search, officers executed the second narcotics search warrant at 915 S. Cherry Street, the home of Armando Martinez and Gloria Hernandez.

"Once all the subjects inside the residence were secured officers proceeded to search the residence for narcotics or other contraband," said Deishler.

During the search, Police Lt. Kelly Davis, located a substance believed to be heroin. Officers continued their search, but no other narcotics or contraband were found within the residence.

Martinez, 29, was arrested for the offense of possession of a controlled substance, (heroin), within a 1,000 feet of a school (Pecos Elementary School).

"This will be a felony of the third degree," said Deishler.

WTU prepares to close office in Balmorhea

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 24, 2000 - Changes mandated by a new state law and improved phone dispatching abilities have been cited by West Texas Utilities as the reasons the company plans to close its Balmorhea office by the end of September.

Balmorhea is just one of many small town offices the company either plans to or already has closed down, said Linda Caton, WTU Communications Consultant.

"We've closed down offices from Shamrock to Presidio," she said, while adding that service personnel will remain in town, even though the office itself will be closed.

"We're not removing the service personnel," she said. "It's possible the service technician will work out of the back of the old office. It's just the front office that will shut down."

"Basically, now we have a 24-hour call center established. We've known for a long time it's more cost-effective to take calls at one location instead of keeping many walk-in offices open," Caton said. The call center will be located in Corpus Christi and customers can call in with problems or to order new connections or disconnections through a 1-888 phone number.

Caton said in addition to the call center, the passage of Senate Bill 7 by the Texas Legislature cut down the reason for maintaining a local office.

"In the past we have sold appliances out of our local offices, but under Senate Bill 7 we are no longer allowed to provide competing services in the sale of appliances," such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, she said.

West Texas Utilities provides electricity to customers in southern Reeves County, along with most other cities in the Big Bend area. Caton said the announcement of the closing plans was first made public by WTU in February.


PECOS, August 24, 2000 - High Wednesday 95. Low this morning 66. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low 65-70. Light southeast wind. Friday: Partly cloudy. High in the upper 90s. South wind 5-15 mph. Friday night: Clear. Low 65-70. Saturday: Clear. Low 65-70. High in the upper 90s.

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