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Monday, August 27, 2001

Overnight storms answer Sunday rain prayers

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- Thunderstorms didn't even wait for Sunday's "Pray For Rain Day"  to begin in Pecos, as they paid a surprise overnight visit to town,  dropping over an inch of rain in the city during the early morning hours.

The rain was part of a line of storms that pushed southward through Texas over the weekend, and while Sunday's overnight storms increased Pecos' year-to-date rainfall total by nearly 50 percent, other parts of the state to the south and east were hit harder by the rains, which caused some flooding in the Central Texas area.

The thunderstorms passed through the Pecos area about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, and left 1.35 inches of rainfall downtown, according to the gauge at KIUN radio. That brought their rainfall total for the year to 4.15 inches, which is above the low of 4.02 inches recorded in Pecos for all of 1999, but is still nearly seven inches below the annual average rainfall total Pecos should receive, according to the National Weather Service. Pecos has not received above average rainfall since 1991, based on NWS numbers for an annual total of 10.99 inches.

A few minor power outages and some wind damage were reported, but there was no hail damage from Sunday's storm.

Because of the ongoing drought, Town of Pecos City Council and Mayor Ray Ortega designated Sunday as "Pray For Rain Day," during their meeting this past Thursday at City Hall. Ortega said that Councilman Gerald Tellez brought the idea to the council after he read an article in the San Angelo Standard Times.

Tellez said that San Angelo proclaimed a day to pray for rain, which was also scheduled for Sunday, and according to the Standard-Times, the city got .94 inch of rain Sunday morning, bringing San Angelo's August total to 2.4 inches, nearly an inch above normal.

Rainfall totals outside Pecos in Reeves County were generally lower than the total recorded in town. The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station seven miles west of Pecos received about eight-tenths of an inch of rain, while areas in southern Reeves County received slightly less, with Balmorhea getting only a little rain out of Sunday's line of clouds.

"In Balmorhea itself there was just a trace, but I have a place close to where the I-10 Chevron (Fina) is between Balmorhea and Saragosa and I got about half an inch" said Paul Ward of the Texas A&M Experiment Station. "Other people may have gotten a little more.

"A little west of Verhalen I heard they got about .7 inch, but coming to work this morning on (Farm Road) 2903 there was no real evidence of it going over the road," Ward said of the highway between Balmorhea and Toyah.

Ward said the east side of the Experiment Station's land got .8 inch of rain, but the west side received only .56 inch of rain.

While Pecos' rainfall Sunday was the largest single rain so far in 2001, North Austin surpassed the city's total rainfall for all eight months of the year in just three hours, as storms there dumped up to 5 inches of rain and caused flash flooding that closed some roads. Power outages were also reported from lightning strikes and other parts of Travis and Williamson counties were also hammered after months of near-drought conditions.

During the height of the storm, about 15,000 houses lost power, said Ed Clark, a spokesman for Austin Energy. Most outages were a result of lightning strikes blowing fuses in South Austin neighborhoods.

A dozen or more streets were closed Sunday as water levels rose. Also, traffic lights at many intersections throughout downtown were out, causing drivers to work together with headlight signals as they crept through the downpour.

Forecasters said the storms, which turned most of Central Texas dark several hours before sunset, could continue Monday, with a 50 percent chance of precipitation. No serious injuries were reported Sunday.

The lightning was "pretty severe in some places," Clark said.

The storm front extended from northwest San Antonio to Waco. Strongest storms were just north of San Antonio and moving toward Austin.

Classes at Galindo Elementary in Austin were canceled Monday because of rain damage. Workers at the school were installing a new roof, and its temporary cover was blown away by the winds, said Andy Welch, a spokesman for the Austin Independent School District.

Teen in serious condition, driver charged in accident

Staff Writer

PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- A weekend accident left one local teen in serious condition while  an Arlington woman was arrested for deadly conduct at Northside  Park following an incident Friday evening.

Kimberly Matta, 15, of Pecos is in serious but stable condition at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock with head injuries after falling off the front of a vehicle and hitting her hand on the ground.

Suzanne Renee Brizzi, 38, of Arlington was arrested at 8:29 p.m., on Friday at the park and charged with deadly conduct, a Class A Misdemeanor, after Matta fell off the hood of the 1998 green Chevrolet Blazer she was driving.

Sergeant Danny Leos of the Reeves County Sheriff's Department, stated in his report that Matta and Brizzi were parked at the picnic tables on the south side of the park, located just north of Pecos on U.S. 285, when Matta climbed on the hood of the Blazer and Brizzi started to drive around the park.

After speaking with Brizzi, Leos said that she informed him that Matta told her to go faster, while talking on her cellular phone.

According to the report, when Brizzi was turning to go back south Matta fell off the hood.

After running to where Matta was lying Brizzi found her to be unresponsive and called for help.

Pecos Ambulance personnel responded to the scene as well as the Pecos Police Department and the Sheriff's Department.

After arriving on scene and beginning to treat Matta's injuries, EMS personnel requested AeroCare to fly Matta to Lubbock for treatment.

Chief Deputy Victor Prieto said that Matta had been in a coma on Saturday but has come out of it.

Sheriff's Department personnel said that no alcohol was involved in the accident and that it is still under investigation.

Matta is still being treated at Covenant Medical Center.

Galindo, PHA again to discuss golf, park plan

PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo is scheduled to meet with the Pecos Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners during the regular meeting at 5 p.m., Tuesday at the Administration Office on Teague Drive.

Galindo will discuss the inter-local cooperation contract between Reeves County, the Town of Pecos City and PHA for land and development of new golfing facilities. Galindo met with PHA board members earlier this year about a plan to build a roadside park and hiking/biking trail on land owned by the Housing Authority at the side of the former Airbase Apartments, on the north side of Interstate 20.

The county was also seeking permission from the PHA to use the former Airbase Apartment land it owns on the south side of I-20 for expansion of the Reeves County Golf Course. The county is seeking to enlarge the course from 11 holes to 18, and under the plan two new holes would be built on the Airbase land along I-20, four others would be build on land on the southeast side of the golf course and another hold would be created from within the current course configuration.

The Board is also set to discuss re-submitting bids for the purchase of a mid-size van for administration operations, as well as discuss the update on the 2000 Capital Fund budget.

During the Farm Labor Housing (FLH) portion of the meeting, the Board is set to discuss the application of conversion of the FLH Apartments on West County Road to multi-family housing. The conversion would allow the apartments to be used year-round. Currently, FLH has to hold back occupancy of some apartments under federal law for farm workers, most of whom have found other places for lodging during harvest season in recent years.

The Board will also consider approval of the minutes of previous meetings and monthly reports.

Soaring costs for workers' comp keep commissioners  

Staff Writer

PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- Workers' compensation rates that have nearly doubled this year  topped the Reeves County Commissioners' agenda this morning. 

Two representatives of the Texas Association of Counties were on hand to speak about the rates, but no clear explanation for this year's rates and next year's projected rates had emerged when commissioners broke for lunch around noon, with plans to continue the discussion at 1:30 p.m.

Texas Association of Counties Field Services Representative Victor Uvalle, Jr., explained that increases in the number of employees accounted for some of the added expense.

"We understand that but it is the tremendous increase per classification that is our biggest concern," County Auditor Lynn Owens said.

In other action today, Reeves County Tax Assessor Collector Elfida Zuniga addressed the court concerning tax exemptions for seniors, those who are medically disabled and disabled veterans.

"Nothing has changed, but the court must still approve the exemptions," Zuniga said.

The court approved the existing exemptions of $15,000 for those 65 years or older, $10,000 for the medically disabled, and an exemption that ranges from $5,000 to $12,000 for disabled veterans.

Disabled veterans who are over 65 may be eligible for up to a 100 percent exemption, Zuniga said.

The court also approved the two-payment option the county offers for paying property taxes where the first half of the taxes are due by November 30 and the second half due by June 30. The payment plan allows taxpayers to pay in two installments without having to pay penalties or interest.

Commissioners allocated about $1,800 for the County Treasurer's office to hire a part-time employee.

According to County Judge Jimmy Galindo, County Treasurer Linda Clark plans to hire a high school student to work through the end of the year.

Galindo said that the growth of the prison has increased the workload for a large number of county offices and that Clark had spoken to him about hiring a student from Mrs. Judy Holland's business professionals' class.

The court also approved the swearing in of Gilbert Valencia as a volunteer deputy with the Reeves County Sheriff's Department.

Cook-off to add second division to Fall Fair event

PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- The Reeves County Sheriff's Posse will be the sponsor of the annual Fall Fair Cook-off this coming October, after a lack of entries forced cancellation of the event last year.

This year's event will be on Oct. 5-6 and will have two cook-off categories, with country-style pork ribs joining the traditional beef brisket competition. The Grand Champion who places in both divisions will receiver a silver plate, while first prize in both the barbecue brisket and pork rib divisions will receive $500. Second place in both divisions will win $250, third place will take home $150 and fourth place in each division will earn $50.

Entry fee will be $50 per team, with an entry deadline of 5 p.m. on Oct. 5. For further information, contact the Pecos Chamber of Commerce at 445-2406.

Heath insurance, street designation on P-B-T agenda

PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- Health insurance and designation of a one-way street near two schools on the east side of town will be the topics for a special meeting for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members, at 12 noon on Tuesday in the school boardroom, at 1304 S. Park St.

The board will discuss whether to approve employee health insurance for 2002-2003 TRS ActiveCare (State Health Insurance Plan) or go with a District Self-Insured Plan, and will discuss/approve opening the bus traffic only lane between Zavala Middle School and Pecos Elementary, between Locust and 11th streets, and one-way suggestions for the area presented by the Pecos Police Department.

The two items are the only ones on Tuesday's agenda.


PECOS, Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 -- High Sunday 104. Low this morning 68. Forecast for tonight:   Mostly loudy with a less than 20 percent chance of showers  and thunderstorms. Low in the upper 60s. Northeast wind 5 to 10   mph. Tuesday: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of  showers  and thunderstorms. High in the upper 80s. East wind 5 to 15  mph.  Tuesday night: Mostly  loudy with a less than 20  percent  chance of showers  and thunderstorms. Low in the mid  60s. Wednesday: Partly cloudy with  a chance of showers  and thunderstorms. High around  90. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Lows  around 70. Highs  From the lower to mid 90s.

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