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Pedestrian dies after Saturday night accident

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 -- Services are pending for a Pecos man who was struck and killed by  a vehicle late Saturday evening near the intersection of Interstate 20  and U.S. 285.

Hal Pratt, Sr., 61, was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Lamberto Herrera, at 12:10 a.m., after he was struck by a pickup truck traveling southbound on U.S. 285.

The accident occurred at about 11:15 p.m., Saturday and police and ambulances responded immediately to the 9-1-1 call placed by the driver of the vehicle.

According to police, the 2001 Ford pick-up, driven by Mark Gomez, 18, of Pecos, was southbound on 285 on the East lane.

"Hal was walking on the east side of the lane and headed to the west side of roadway diagonally on turning lane," said Pecos Police Officer Melissa Roberts, who investigated the accident.

The driver started to swerve to the left and Pratt jumped back to the left on east side. "He (the driver) swerved to the right and that's when he struck him," said Roberts.

Pratt was hit near the entrance to the Quality Inn on U.S. 285, and the force of the impact caused his body to land about 60 feet north, near the entrance to Jim and I's Exxon on U.S. 285. Law enforcement personnel closed off U.S. 285 between I-20 and Lincoln Street to through traffic for about two hours, while the accident was being investigated.

Roberts said that no charges have been filed against the driver and that it would be ruled as an accident. "It was nothing but an accident," said Roberts.

Herrera did order an autopsy after pronouncing Pratt dead, and services are pending with Pecos Funeral Home.

Gomez expressed his remorse at the scene of the accident. "He tried to avoid him and he jumped in front of him," said Nena Gomez, mother of the driver. "He feels really bad, he's very upset."

Task force jails driver with pot in SUV's tires

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 -- A 24-year old man from Mexico was arrested for possession  of marijuana Friday morning after being stopped for an unsafe lane  change on Interstate 20 in western Reeves County.

According to TransPecos Task Force Officer Kevin Roberts, at about 10:15 a.m., Rafael Dominguez Lazos was driving east on I-20 when he made an unsafe lane change on Exit-22 near Toyah.

At that point Roberts said that he stopped the white Ford Explorer at the Toyah Texaco. He said the driver, from Chihuahua, Mexico was the only person inside.

"The driver was in route from Mexico to Dallas," Roberts said.

With verbal consent, Roberts began to search the vehicle.

"During the vehicle search I let air out of the left passenger tire," Roberts said. "The tire would not go all the way down."

When the tire of the vehicle did not deflate properly, Roberts nudged the tire with his foot at which point he felt a foreign object inside the tire.

"At that time the driver was detained and the vehicle was escorted to Jim and I Exxon," in Pecos, Roberts said.

While at the gas station all four tires were broken down revealing a metal box in which marijuana was being carried. There was a total of 95 pounds inside the tires, with a street value of $50,000.

This is the second wheel load of marijuana Roberts has stopped with in the last 30 days.

School board approves budget, $1.50 tax rate

Staff Writer

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members unanimously approved maintaining the current  $1.50 tax rate on Thursday, along with a budget calling for  a budget of $5,053,093 for the 2002-2003 school year.

The board voted on the tax rate and budget during a special meeting at the P-B-T ISD Technology Center after listening to Superintendent Don Love and business manager Cookie Canon outline the spending designations for the new school year, along with some possible changes for the 2003-2004 school year.

"There's not any fluff in it, but I don't think anybody is going to be hurting from it," Canon said.

Included in the budget was a designated fund balance of $3,705,986. A third of that will go towards paying back the Texas Education Agency for extra money the district received during the 2001-2002 school year.

The district lost state funds due to both a decline in enrollment and an increase in property and mineral valuations from the previous year. "I figure we owe $1.1 million, but it may be $1.2 million," Love said.

Of the rest, $700,000 was designated towards work at Bessie Haynes Elementary — $300,000 for roof repairs and an additional $400,000 for new classrooms, if the district decides to close the adjacent Zavala Middle School and move sixth grade classes to Bessie Haynes.

P-B-T Personnel Director Gome Olibas told the board that they could add two extra classrooms at the school and still have one left over, based on current fourth, fifth and sixth grade attendance.

Money is also designated towards air-conditioning the Zavala gym, which is also used by seventh grade volleyball and basketball teams. Other projects in the budget include $225,000 for roofing at Pecos High School, and $750,000 for repairing water damage to Building A at the high school.

Another $32,500 is to go towards an awning over the stands at the Pecos High School baseball field, though Love said that could be put off if the budget gets very tight.

The transportation department is to get four new buses, at a cost of $260,000, and four new vans, at a cost of $88,000. The remaining $450,000 of the designated funds balance will go towards three months of health insurance claims, though Love added, "I hope we can get by on $100,000-$125,000."

After unanimous approval of the budget by the six board members in attendance, the board then approved the tax rate of $1.50 per $100 in valuations. The rate was approved by ordinance, read by board president Billie Sadler, after Love said that was the preferred way for the Texas Association of School Boards.

The tax rate then was also unanimously approved, with board member David Flores absent from Thursday's meeting.

"Nine Days of Hope" planned before 9-11 service

PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 -- Santa Rosa Catholic Church is inviting the community to join them for "Nine Days of Hope," in memory of all those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

A daily prayer will be held at 5:30 p.m., at the church located at 620 E. 4th, beginning today until Sept. 11.

Day one will be "Pray for World Peace"; day two, Pray for Forgiveness; day three, Pray for Fire Fighters; day four, Pray for Law Officers; day five, Pray for Military Personnel; day six, Pray for Unity; day seven, Pray for Our Country; day eight, Pray for Victim's Families and on day nine, Pray for Terrorist's Victims a holy hour will be held at 6 p.m. and a holy mass at 7 p.m.

Everyone is invited to attend or to offer their silent prayers for those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attack by terrorists.


PECOS, Tues., Sept. 3, 2002 -- High Labor Day 97. Low this morning 68. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 65 to 70. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday:  Partly cloudy. Highs near 95. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night:  Mostly clear. Lows 65 to 70. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs 90 to 95. Friday:  Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows 65 to 70. Highs 90 to 95.


Pedro M. Almendarez and Hal S. Pratt

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