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Friday, November 10, 2000

Train ride part of UP's safety program

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 10, 2000 - Area residents had the opportunity to ride a train and learn more about train safety and statistics during a special tour Thursday sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad.

Union Pacific Railroad operated a special five-car passenger train during a five-day 600-mile, West Texas Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Tour. It came through the Monahans-Pecos-Toyah area yesterday afternoon after beginning in Fort Worth on Monday. The tour ends in El Paso today.

Highway-railroad grade crossing safety presentations were given to hundreds of students, law enforcement officers and community leaders along the tour route.

"During the tour we had people on board recommending safety tips, giving statistics on accidents and providing safety measures," said Public Relations personnel John Bromley with Union Pacific Railroad.

"One of the reasons is that the number of trains passing through the areas has grown and we expect it to grow some more," he said, and the railroad is trying to increase safety awareness in towns along the line.

Bromley said Union Pacific does this all over the country. "Particularly in the areas where there's more traffic," said Bromley. "That's our main concern is the safety of the people, we want to cut down on the number of train/vehicle accidents."

After starting off in Fort Worth, other stops in West Texas during the past several days included Abilene, Sweetwater, Colorado City, Big Spring, Midland, Odessa, Kent and Van Horn. Today the train will continue on from Van Horn to Sierra Blanca and El Paso.

"We want to educate the public in regard to crossing the tracks," said R.L. Savage, Operation Lifesaver Presenter with the El Paso Unit of Union Pacific Railroad.

Savage offered safety tips to the passengers and said most people believe train/vehicle accidents happens during the dark. "Two-thirds of these accidents happen during the day," said Savage.

Law enforcement officials take an active part and ticket people on violating the laws, according to Savage.

Savage stated that very often individuals who arrive at railroad crossings take it for granted that there won't be a train coming. "You get so used to crossing the tracks, that you're lulled into a sense of security," he said.

Savage told the group that it takes the train 18 lengths of a football field in order to stop. "In order for us to stop it will take about a mile (5,280 feet) or so," said Savage.

"We have the right of way, because of course there's no way for us to swerve, like a car would," he said.

"Our wheels are locked and the only thing we have is forward, neutral and reverse," said Savage.

Savage showed the different signs stating that there is a train crossing.

"The first sign advising of a train crossing is the yellow circular sign tell you, you're approaching a train crossing," said Savage. Another is the mandated crossing bars at any. "This is a regulatory sign and in the State of Texas it means `yield,'" he said.

Savage stated that vehicles should yield the right of way and come to a complete stop.

Flashing red lights anywhere also indicate that the vehicle must make a complete stop, before proceeding.

"Anytime is train time, it can come in any time, we don't have schedules anymore," said Savage. "We would ask you not to proceed, until you make sure another train is not coming."

Do not pass at a railroad track. "We also ask people with shift vehicles not to shift on the tracks, but to wait until they have crossed it to do so," said Savage. "If it stalls, get out of the vehicle as soon as possible," he said.

On every crossing there is a number that you can call and it tells the dispatcher you're location, according to Savage. "If you have to, call that number and the dispatcher will send someone out right away," he said.

"It is private property, no hitchhiking, riding, or running on the tracks," said Savage. Hunting, fishing or sitting on the tracks also is not allowed.

"Look, listen and approach with caution, but most importantly, we want you to live," he said.

The first car on the train is the power car, which carries the supplies for electricity and heating. A big generator provides these functions for the train, according to Mike McCarthy, superintendent with Union Pacific Railroad.

Union Pacific is no longer runs passenger trains, since Amtrak took over 28 years ago, but maintains a fleet of 58 vintage coach cars, dining cars and sleeper, which are housed in Omaha, Neb.

The `special' trains are used only during certain occasions such as, the Democratic, Republic Conventions and campaigning, during the Super Bowl and for a lot of the customer specials. "They wine and dine the customers and they are used at such occasions such as this," said McCarthy.

The passenger trains are then taken back empty to Omaha, Neb. where they are stored and maintained.

"Right now, during this tour we're just running them during the daylight hours," said McCarthy.

The passenger cars were built in the early 1950's. "The Ander is named after ancestral owner, Edward Harriman," said McCarthy. "He bought the Union Pacific out of bankruptcy as a passenger train in the 1950's and then one of his sons bought it and used it for business."

The rear car was used as a business office, by the younger Harriman and is now used by the vice-president of Union Pacific, when he tours. "This is where he sits when he goes with us for inspections," said McCarthy.

"He has allowed me to have the use of this car on this trip," he said.

The five-car train contains a dining area, bedrooms, restrooms, passenger space and the rear office room. It also has a small kitchen complete with all the latest appliances.

The five-car train was capable of transporting anywhere from 220 to 240 people. "Usually it's just a conductor and an engineer, but right now we have several staff on board for safety purposes," said McCarthy.

Trains no longer have cabooses, according to McCarthy.

"The only reason we used to have a caboose, was so that he could see the air pressure, because it has to have a certain amount of air pressure, but the now the engineer has the technology for that," he said. "We have so much technology now, that the number of people on board has decreased."

In some areas there used to be one train each way a day, where now it can be up to 13, since Union Pacific merged with Southern Pacific three years ago. Southern Pacific operated the main east-west route through Alpine, Del Rio and San Antonio, and some trains formerly on that line have been moved to the line running through Pecos.

"Since then, all of a sudden, we have the fastest, most director way to Los Angeles," said McCarthy. "We went from two trains to 13-14 a day."

Eventually Amtrak is planning to shift its Sunset Limited passenger service from the Alpine-Del Rio line to the northern route, running from Fort Worth to El Paso with a flag stop in Pecos. Additional track work will have to be done before that change is made, Union Pacific officials said this summer, and crews spent last winter replacing the tracks and building a new siding in the Pecos area.

"We have section inspectors, who inspect the tracks daily," said McCarthy. "It's all done very high-tech now," he said.

"With all this traffic, we want the people to be aware of all the safety procedures and to follow them," he said.

School board approves plan for softball fields at Crockett

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 10, 2000 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board approved a new recreation facilities agreement with Reeves County as part of a lengthy agenda on Thursday, during the board's monthly meeting.

School board members approved an amendment to an interlocal cooperation contract for community sports and recreation with Reeves County, Town of Pecos City and Reeves County Hospital.

P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love told the board that there's a possibility of developing two softball fields at Crockett Middle School. Pecos' high school girls' softball team is currently using the county's Martinez Baseball Field, which requires a temporary fence in the outfield. Other area school districts, including Andrews and Fort Stockton, have build new softball-only facilities in the past year.

In the agreement, the county would contribute 1,000 feet of used chain link fence; two scoreboards with controllers; four spectator stands that would be three-tired and approximately 10-15 feet in length; four dugout benches and two sets of softball bases, including home plate/pitcher's mound.

"All of it is used equipment," said Love.

The county will repair, maintain and/or improve the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD athletic fields at Crockett Middle School and Pecos High School on an annual basis during the winter months.

At the same time, the school would convey its interest in the property owned jointly by the taxing entities of Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, Reeves County, Town of Pecos City and Reeves County Hospital District, located at 2202 Balmorhea Highway, Block 17, Veterans So. 300' of N. 675.5, 300' by 289.4' to Reeves County to be used by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

"Is there any hint of non-compliance?" asked board president Louis Matta.

"Mr. (Terry) Holder has been going to the hospital and city and there is concurrence," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

The school, county and city have been in the recreation agreement for the past three years, and new racquetball courts are currently being built at the old Pecos High School gym under the agreement.

Galindo told the group that on behalf of commissioners' court, "we appreciate your consideration and cooperation. It's been a tremendous success and we believe it's because of this great partnership."

In other business, a report on the Crockett Middle School science lab addition was given by Monte Hunter.

"We're down to 4-5 items, I'll make sure they're taken care of and we'll mark them off," said Hunter. "We're still holding five percent of their pay until all these small items are taken care of."

Roofing proposals for Pecos High School cafeteria and the field house were discussed. "We received two proposals and both are in order," said Hunter.

Board members approved the proposal from Midwest in the amount of $54,579 with a $2,000 contingency for deck repair.

An air conditioning proposal was awarded to the Darville Company in the amount of $21,030. Darville was the lowest out of six bidders, including a Pecos company, Pecos Air Conditioning, who had the second lowest bid.

Commissioners set to review parks and recreation proposal

PECOS, November 10, 2000 - A Reeves County Parks and Recreation master plan Town Hall public review meeting will be one of the topics of discussion at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting scheduled for Monday.

Commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m., on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse and the public is invited to attend.

Commissioners will discuss an interlocal cooperation agreement for community sports and recreation between Reeves County and P-B-T ISD.

The group will discuss and take action on the Reeves County Golf Course's Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission License; DRG's request for payment No. 1-racquetball courts; senior center Permian Basin Area Agency on the Aging Renewal Contract; DRG request for payment invoice No. 208 and 209; award bid No. 17-2000- walking/jogging track; award bid No. 18-200-ATM Machine; Canon Copy Machine lease for RCDC and RCDC budget analysts report from Speer and Murray, Ltd.

Under regular items the group will discuss and take action on:

* Reports from various departments.

· Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

· Personnel and salary changes (RCDC, sheriff's office).

· Minutes from previous meetings.

· Semi-monthly bills.

· Spread on the minutes: Banes General Contractor's Inc. Change Order request No. 4 & 5; continuation certificate for Toyah Walker and Notice of over axel and over gross.

Information being collected for city directory's new book

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 10, 2000 - Joe Walker and Ronnie Prather are walking the streets of Pecos, drumming up business for the new city directory to be published by CDI.

"We will be in town through Wednesday or Thursday of next week," said Walker.

They are contacting businesses who have advertised in the city directory in the past, or who may want to advertise in the future. Each business who purchases an ad will get a free business directory.

Walker said the business directory has the white pages listing every residence in town, plus listings of street and telephone numbers in numerical order for easier searches for a particular individual.

CDI has published the Pecos directory every other year since 1993, when Johnson Publishing went out of business.

"We have published city directories for 47 years," Walker said. He and Prather together have 58 years experience in the business.

Before the directory is published, enumerators will attempt to contact everyone listed in the 1999 directory to ensure that the information is correct and to add any updates. Individuals will be given the opportunity to order a copy of the basic directory.

Each residence will be listed in the home edition white pages, with the head of the household, the spouse, their job or business, whether they own the home, and the names and birthdays of children living at home.

In addition, the white pages will list each business and when it was established.

Pecos Chamber of Commerce will offer the directories for sale at their office, 111 S. Cedar St., after the 2001 publication date.

Tradition of `grave scraping' brought from Africa, Spain

By The Ghost Writer

PECOS, November 10, 2000 - Scraping graves has been a Texas custom starting before the ones doing the scraping could remember how it ever got started. The scrapers seem to think that it just looks good or it is in keeping with the farmer who chopped weeds in the field before he died and his relatives were not going to let grass or weeds disgrace his grave.

According to Terry G. Gordan in his book Texas Graveyards, the practice started in Africa. In Nigeria graves were covered with mud plaster and in the Ashanti hinterland in Ghana they erected conical mud mounds over their graves. Many times the dead were buried in the earthen floor of their house, in the swept-earth yards or in tilled gardens.

The Spaniards brought to the New World the practice of establishing a "blessed field" to establish a special sacredness. Burials could be in the church floor. Families of wealth and influence considered church burials as a status symbol. Camposantos were fine for the poor and converted Indians, but not for rico. (Terry Gordon book Texas Graveyards.) It could be that Americans scrap the cemeteries because it looks good and eliminates watering and mowing.

There is a beautiful example of a scraped cemetery north of Barstow on the paved road to the Mi Vida gas plant. The Catholic cemetery is next to the highway and then the scraped graves. It is well maintained, without grass or weeds, and has evergreen trees, a curb and fence on its perimeter.

The practice of scraping graves is dying and some of the old ones are now partially or wholly covered with grass. Customs do change and some call that progress but in the case of scraping graves, I feel that a part of our heritage is dying.

Pecos Rifle Club schedules match

PECOS, November 10, 2000 - The Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club will sponsor a Service Rifle Competition Saturday at the club range starting at 8 a.m.

There will be two classes: A modern service rifle class and an antique service rifle classs. Entry fee is $6.

In honor of Veterans' Day, all veterans of WWII are invited to come out and shoot a few rounds through a vintage M-1 Garand after the match. For info. call Mike Mason at 447-6157, or Smokey Briggs at 445-5475.


Raymond Carrasco

Raymond Carrasco, 49, of Balmorhea, died Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2000, at Reeves County Hospital.

A special service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, at Seventh Day Adventist Church in Saragosa.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Saturday, at the Pecos Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Abner Razon officiating.

He was born Dec. 1, 1951, in Fort Stockton, was a safety manager at the Reeves County Detention Center, and a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Katherine Carrasco of Balmorhea; one son, John Carrasco of Austin; three daughters, Rachel Carrasco of Austin, Monica Carrasco of Balmorhea and Dede Hernandez of Lubbock; his mother Dominga Carrasco of Balmorhea; two brothers, Rosendo and Ruben Carrasco of Balmorhea; one sister, Velma Baeza of Cleburne.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, November 10, 2000 - High Thursday 65. Low this morning 32. Forecast for tonight: Becoming mostly cloudy. Low in the upper 30s. South wind 5-15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy and breezy. High in the upper 60s. West wind 15-25 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 30s. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. Low in the upper 20s to the mid 30s. High in the 50s to the lower 60s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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