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Wednesday, August 30, 2000

P-B-T sets tax rate, adds Deishler to board

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 30, 2000 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members adopted the budget for the 2000-2001 school year, set the tax rate at $1.50 per $100 valuation and appointed a new school board member to fill an unexpired term, during a special meeting held Tuesday evening in the board room.

"We've already gone through all the appropriate steps in setting up the budget," said PBT ISD Superintendent Don Love.

Love stated that certain steps have to be taken, before adopting the budget, including publishing it in the local newspaper at least 10 days before the hearing.

"Now, we have the public hearing and hear from the public before approving it," he said.

No comments on the budget were made during the public hearing session of the meeting.

School board members approved the tax rate at $1.50, seven cents above last year's figure.

"The school district cannot levy a tax rate higher than $1.50," said Love.

Love stated that he felt that the school district needed the $1.50 in order to run the adopted budget.

"Remember this is estimated money, just what is on paper," said Love. "If kids don't show up, the revenue will go down."

Love stated that they are expecting a little bit (of money) from the state. "This is a very, very tight budget," said Love.

"If kids don't show up after Labor Day, we'll lose money," he said.

Love stated that if the district loses money other plans for the schools will have to be put on hold.

"There's other projects planned for the schools, such as scoreboards, a new track at one of the schools, and they will have to wait if we lose money," he said.

"If we don't pick up about 80 more kids, it'll be tough," he said.

Love stated that, this is the reason why he's asking the board to have a tight hold on the budget. "There are some things we can hold back on," he said.

Love said he made a statement some time ago, that he'd rather have kids than taxes. "But right now, I'd like them both," he said.

P-B-T Financial Director Cookie Canon said she would like the board to adopt the budget by fund and function. "This way it will give administrators some leverage when they need to move money around," said Canon. "It's nothing dramatic, but it helps when they have a little lee way," she said.

The board also named Paul Deishler as a new member, to fill the unexpired term of Frank Apolinar, Jr.

"Mr. Apolinar turned in his resignation on Aug. 10, but since it was not on the agenda we couldn't discuss it," said Love.

Board members accepted the resignation and opted to install a new member to fill the position. The board has 180 days to fill the unexpired term.

"I feel it's unfortunate that we have to do this and it should be up to the people to decide," said board member Steve Valenzuela. "The main thing is that we strive towards better education for the students, it all depends on us, it's very important that we have someone here to follow us and help us," he said.

Valenzuela suggested Deishler, who ran for office in the May elections and finished in third place. Two seats were up for election in that race.

Board member Billie Sadler stated that she wanted Connie Herrera's name in there.

"A name has to be brought up by a school board member," said board member Earl Bates.

Bates told the group that former board member Alberto Alvarez had contacted him about possibly filling the position and running in next year's elections, and the board then voted on the three names, with the last name submitted voted on first.

Alvarez received no votes from any of the board members.

"Don't you have to vote for the name you submitted?" asked Sadler.

"I'm not necessarily obligated to vote for him, I just put his name in there, because he expressed an interest," said Bates.

Board members Bates, Brent Shaw and Valenzuela then voted for Deishler, while Sadler and David Flores voted for Herrera.

"Whatever person is elected, I would like to have a consensus on this," said board president Louis Matta, adding, "I feel uncomfortable to have us split like this."

Matta stated that he saw a split board and it bothered him. "We need to bring in a school board member that is accepted by all of you," he said.

"I urge you two that voted against him to change your vote, if not bring in someone else," said Matta.

Matta stated that both individuals were good candidates and he was friends with both of them, but that the split decision bothered him.

"Paul made an effort and ran in the elections, he showed a sincere interest and desire to be a board member," said Bates. "In my personal opinion, we should get the next highest vote getter in the last election."

"I don't think we should be political about this, it's up to us board members," said Sadler.

She said she didn't feel the need for speeches and stated that she has another side to it. "But I don't see that entering into this debate," Sadler added.

"We have a split right now, but as a board we're professionals and as such we can act accordingly," said Flores. "But if our feelings and our emotions are going to get in the way, we should just do what Kokie (Apolinar) did and just leave."

Matta cast his vote for Deishler. "Let's just put this situation to rest, if Deishler will accept this appointment," he said.

Deishler was called to the board meeting to give his decision to the board.

"I accept the appointment," said Deishler. "I would like to thank the board and give 100 percent to the board and the school system."

Deishler, an investigator with the Pecos Police Department, said he appreciated the support and was happy about the board's decision.

"I thank you and I plan to do my best for the students and the district," he said.

In other action, board members approved a retirement and three appointments.

Juan Abrigo, art teacher at Crockett Middle School, will be retiring on Dec. 16.

"We'll be sad to see him leave, he's been a great teacher," said Love.

"He wants to retire and go back home to take care of his mother," said assistant superintendent Gome Olibas.

Olibas stated that Abrigo started teaching in Pecos in 1974 and has been here for 26 years. "He is well liked by all the students and certainly an asset to Pecos," said Olibas.

Appointments included, Rhonda Eubank, licensed vocational nurse/board of vocational nurse examiners/Austin, no experience, assignment-Pecos Elementary School/Zavala and Crockett Middle School Nurse;

· Robin Manning, Bachelor of Science/Education/Texas A&M University, no experience, assignment-Pecos High School history teacher and;

· Filimon Talamantez, Masters of Education/Mid-Management/Sul Ross State University, 31 years experience, assignment- Bessie Haynes Elementary School physical education teacher.

Heavy rains strike south, west of town

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 30, 2000 - Surrounding areas of Pecos felt relief yesterday when storm clouds let loose the first major rain in this area since late June, though the clouds only delivers a few sprinkles of rain inside the city limits

Station Superintendent for the Texas Agriculture Experiment Station Mike Murphy said the east end of the station property received .95 inches while the west end received .56 inches.

"This is the largest single amount of rain at one time we have seen recently," Murphy said.

He also said four miles down Duval Road, where he lives, received .52 inches of rain.

Freddy Schrier, water superintendent in Balmorhea, said about a half inch of rain fell there. He said it had been cloudy on Monday but they had not received any rain until last night.

Schrier said the rain was light and lasted about 30 minutes but was greatly appreciated.

"We appreciate every little rain we get," he said.

Peggy Cox at Madera Valley Water Supply Corp in Verhalen said they received a lot of rain in town and surrounding Verhalen.

It is reported that Saragosa received considerable rainfall for about two and half-hours but Alpine seems to have been the town most hit with rain.

Alpine resident Mandy Mauldin reported that the streets in Alpine were flooded and people could not get in or out of the city.

There has not been confirmation that there were any road closures due to the rain, but witnesses report that the U.S. 90 West underpass was closed because of the amount of rain last night, but was open again this morning.

Brewster County Sheriff Steve Whitley said the south side of town, where he lives, received 1.6 inches of rain.

"It was a surprise," Whitley said. "I didn't think we would ever get any rain again."

He said it had been cloudy in Alpine for a few days and when it finally did rain it would downpour and stop and then downpour again.

The National Weather Service in Midland forecasts a 20 percent chance of rain in Pecos and the surrounding areas for this afternoon but nothing new is developing for later this week.

WTU pushes up closing date of offices

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 30, 2000 - West Texas Utilities offices in Balmorhea at Fort Davis will close to customer transactions effective Friday, Sept. 8.

"While we announced in February that the office would remain open until Sept. 30, personnel changes, have made it necessary for us to discontinue taking `walk-in' payments sooner than we had originally planned," said Roland Pena, WTU Community Services Manager of Alpine.

All local phone calls to the Ft. Davis and Balmorhea offices will be forwarded to the WTU Customer Service Center in Corpus Christi, which is available to accept calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

American Electric Power's WTU subsidiary announced earlier this year it would close its small offices across Texas, though crews would remain on site in each town. Representatives at the Customer Service Center will handle requests for service connection or disconnection, account information, outage reports or to answer other questions that customers may have. For customer service, the toll-free number to call is 1-888-216-3523.

Customers currently have several bill payment options available. They include: mail, automatic bank draft through the DirectAdvantage Plan, internet electronic bill payment through, checking or savings account drafts via the telephone through the ChoicePay, a third party vendor and walk in pay station at Second Street Station, 177 North Second Street in Alpine.

Linda Caton, WTU Communications Consultant, said last week that in addition to the new Customer Call Center, WTU decided to shut its smaller offices following passage of Senate Bill 7 by the Texas Legislature in 1999.

"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.

The offices will continue to be used as a base of operations for local and regional service and line technician employees who work in the energy delivery area of the business.

"While we're making changes in the way we conduct business, our commitment to provide superior customer service and reliability hasn't changed," said Pena.

West Texas Utilities serves 188,000 customers in a 53,000 square-mile service area in West Texas, bordered by Oklahoma to the North and Mexico to the South.

U.S. gives Mexico border warning signs

PECOS, August 30, 2000 - United States government officials handed over border crossing signs warning migrants of the dangers involved with illegal crossings along the Southwest border to Mexican officials during a ceremony in Presidio this morning.

This event signifies another chapter in the relationship between the two nations along the border and more specifically the border towns of Presidio and Ojinaga.

Fifty-six metal signs are being placed in key crossing points warning those who cross and attempt to walk through the desolate and remote areas of the southern portion of the Trans-Pecos Region and the Big Bend area of Texas will face hardship and incredibly difficult conditions.

Whether it is summer or winter the environmental conditions are extreme. A journey through this area is full of danger.

The dangers include: a lack of emergency medical capabilities and evacuations procedures, the lack of drinkable water and lack of law enforcement _ especially in the smuggling corridors that have been used for years.

The approval process and review procedures for the placement of the signs involved several federal agencies at the highest levels of both governments.

Both nations realized that significant efforts must be made to dissuade migrants from crossing in dangerous areas.

According to a press released, both governments believe the signs are necessary.

"Collectively, we feel that efforts to save lives reflect our best instincts and by working together we can make a difference," government officials from both the United States of Mexico and the United States of America said in a statement issued prior to this morning's ceremony.

FSA accepting ag fire damage loan applications

PECOS, August 30, 2000 - Applications for emergency agricultural loans for damages and losses attributed to fire caused by lightning, that occurred between May 4 and May 16, 2001 in six West Texas counties are being accepted at the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office located in Ft. Stockton, William H. McAnally said today.

Brewster, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Reeves, Terrell, and Ward Counties have been recently named by USDA Secretary Dan Glickman to be eligible for loans to cover part of actual production and physical losses resulting from the disaster.

McAnally said producers may be eligible for loans of up to 80 percent of actual losses or the loan needed to continue in business, whichever is less. For producers unable to obtain credit from private commercial lenders, the interest is 3.75 percent.

Applications will be accepted until April 16, 2001. The FSA office in Ft. Stockton is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


PECOS, August 30, 2000 - High Wednesday 99. Low this morning 69. Rainfall in Pecos last 24 hours, trace. Rainfall last 24 hours Texas A&M Experiment Station .72 inch. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of rain. Low around 70. Thursday: Partly cloudy with highs around 97-100. Thursday night. Partly cloudy, low around 70. Friday: Sunny and hot. Highs 100-105.

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