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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, January 9, 2004

City's first tax rebate check of 2004 shows decline

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 9, 2004 -- The first sales tax rebate figures for 2004 showed a slight decline for the Town of Pecos City, while rebate checks were up for Toyah, Balmorhea and the Reeves County Hospital District.

State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn released the first numbers for the new year on Thursday, based on sales made across Texas during the month of November. They showed Pecos received a check for $52,422, which was down 2.78 percent from January of 2003, when the city got back $53,927 as its 1 1/2-cent share of the state's 81/4-cent sales tax.

The slight drop in the tax check comes after Pecos reported a slight drop overall in tax collections in 2003, though the city's December rebate check from Austin was actually a little higher than the previous year. February's tax rebate check will cover the Christmas holiday sales season.

Balmorhea received a check this month for $596, which was 14.31 percent higher than a year ago, when it got $521 back. Toyah's check this month was for $301, which was 45.52 percent higher than the $207 check it got in January of 2002. Both Toyah and Balmorhea were down overall during 2002.

The Reeves County Hospital District also showed a slight drop last year in its tax rebates, based on a 1/2-cent share of the state's sales tax. But the district's January check for $25,222 was up 3.57 percent from a year ago.

Overall in the Permian Basin, rebate checks were up slightly from a year ago. Midland had the biggest check, at $1.49 million, which was up 3.57 percent from a year ago, while Odessa's check for just over $1 million was up by 0.69 percent from last year.

Monahans, Big Spring, Van Horn, Presidio and Marfa reported double-digit increases in their sales tax checks, while Andrews and Kermit had double-digit declines this month.

Statewide, the comptroller's office said rebate checks to cities for the month came to just under $204 million, which was a 6.93 percent improvement from last January. Houston again received the single largest check, for $24.6 million, which was a 4.57 percent increase, and Dallas received a check for $13.2 million, the second highest and 4.44 percent above last year.

Year In Review

Tax rates, budgets set by officials in September

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the ninth in a series of stories recapping major news events in the Pecos area during 2003. Today's story covers the month of September.


PECOS, Sept. 2, 2003 Reeves County followed through on its decision to put off a $422,000 bill due the Town of Pecos City in favor of making the monthly lease payments on RCDC II and III on Friday. The decision came as part of the county's trouble filling the 960-bed RCDC III facility.

Commissioners had agreed to pay the city's bill for the construction of the new South Worsham Water Field in return for the use of the city's water and sewer systems.


PECOS, Sept. 3, 2003 - Pecos Head Start moved into its new building this week, the fourth new location in recent years,

Head Start for 2003-04 began classes at its latest location, Zavala Middle School, which was vacated when sixth grade classes were consolidated with fourth and fifth graders at neighboring Bessie Haynes Elementary. And this time, Head Start Director Linda Briceno said she hopes the program will be able to settle in at one location for a while.


PECOS, Sept. 4, 2003 Town of Pecos City department heads presented their budget "wish lists" to City Council members on Wednesday, during the first of two evening budget workshops held at City Hall. Council members heard from Municipal Court Judge Amanrio Ramon, Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire and city Parks and Utilities Director Octavio Garcia during the three-hour meeting.

All presented request for items or increases in funding various parts of their budget for the 2004 Fiscal Year, but only after the council discussed the problems of putting together a budget without knowing the status of a $422,000 payment Reeves County owes the city.


PECOS, Sept. 5, 2003 - Reeves County Commissioners discussed the ratification of a professional services contract between Reeves County and Public Private Strategies, Inc. which involved the hiring of lobbyist Randy DeLay on a 12-month contract at a total cost of $120,000.

DeLay's help was being sought by the county in its effort to acquire inmates for the 960-bed Reeves County Detention Center III project.


PECOS, Sept. 8, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners discussed ways to acquire funds to pay the Town of Pecos City $422,320 owed for construction of the South Worsham Water Field. Mayor Dot Stafford said that the payment from the city to the Texas Water Development Board is due in November and if the county did not make the payment the city would have to do it. The uncertainty over the payment has hampered the city's efforts to set a new budget by the PECOS, Sept. 30 deadline.

PECOS, Sept. 10, 2003 Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members were again told that water levels at Red Bluff Lake fell during August, despite the absence of any water releases downstream for the second year in a row.

The ongoing drought in the Trans Pecos region of Texas and further to the north in the Pecos River Basin of New Mexico has kept the district from authorizing any water releases to farmers downstream since 2001, and the latest lake report shows levels fell last month from 54,376 acre/feet at the start of the month to 52,189 acre/feet by the end of August.


PECOS, Sept. 11, 2003 Town of Pecos City Council members voted to approve a 2004 budget based on the same property tax level of last year. The budget, which was adjusted during workshop sessions to stretch the most out of every dollar, is balanced using the current property tax rate of .6967 cents per $100 in valuations. The action comes despite sagging property values within the city during the past year.


PECOS, Sept. 12, 2003 The Town of Pecos City Council has come up with a balanced budget, totaling $8.8million for 2004 without an increase in property taxes through carefully placed budget cuts and postponement of some city projects, officials said. The budget, while taking care of emergency services, hit the city's Utilities Department pretty hard. The fire, police and ambulance services received some of what they were asking for, but a proposed lift station for the city's sewer system, and the street seal coating project were both left on the back burner for the year.


PECOS, Sept. 15, 2003 During Saturday evening's Diez y Seiz de Septembre ceremonies at the Santa Rosa Church parking area, Maegan Rodriguez was formally crowned Mexican Queen, while Amanda Contreras was named American Queen and Marissa Skye Gabaldon was named Spanish Queen.


PECOS, Sept. 16, 2003 The George Carden El Maida Shrine Circus entertained the citizens of the city of Pecos at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena. The circus put on an exciting display, with the typical acts of elephants, tigers, and high wire walkers, plus some added unusual performances. Included in these were a crossbow sharp-shooting display and an acrobatic rope-jumping act.


PECOS, Sept. 18, 2003 Construction at the Reeves County Hospital is on schedule and under budget according to hospital administrator Robert Verner. The hospital's new wing is scheduled to be complete in March of 2004. Among the new additions to the facility are a kidney dialysis center, a new emergency room, new space for the Pecos Valley Rural Heath Center, a physical therapy clinic and a specialty clinic, giving visiting specialists an area to practice in.


PECOS, Sept. 23, 2003 The Pecos Economic Development Corporation met this morning for its mandatory annual meeting and approved next year's budget, along with the planned development of a section on the north side of town to alleviate the town of Pecos' shortage of affordable housing.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, if approved, will sponsor 60 percent of the capital required to build the units. The project will cost approximately $4 million, with cost of each unit estimated at $90,000 apiece


PECOS, Sept. 24, 2003 The Reeves County Hospital Board approved a 2.3-cent increase in the district's property tax rate on Tuesday, during their regular monthly meeting, while also adopting the proposed budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year.

Hospital officials said the adoption of the effective tax rate is vital to the hospital budget, due to the fact that the Medicaid Disproportionate Fund, a federal tax revenue matching fund, dictates how much money it will give an entity based on the amount of taxes it collects, not the size of its tax base.


PECOS, Sept. 25, 2003 The inauguration of a new route into Mexico from West Texas is scheduled for Friday and officials who initiated the new highway are excited about the venture. The Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance were the first to propose the La Entrada al Pacifico, (The Entrance to the Pacific) trade corridor.

Officials from the group and other individuals will be on hand Friday for the inauguration of the new two-lane highway, which improves on the 100-mile long route which had problems handling truck traffic.


PECOS, Sept. 29, 2003 The county has yet to set its budget and tax rate for 2004, due to the ongoing financial problems connected with the Reeves County Detention Center. The county is in need of inmates to meet bond payments on the $40-million RCDC III, a 960-bed addition to the 2,000-bed prison that was completed in March of this year.


PECOS, Sept. 29, 2003 A Monahans man was sentenced Friday to life in federal prison for a fatal carjacking and the use of a firearm during a violent crime in May of 2002, and received an additional term in the firebombing of the Monahans Police Department offices in June of 2002. Travis James Harris, 24, was also sentenced Friday to 30 years in federal prison for firebombing the Monahans Municipal Building in June of 2002.


PECOS, Sept. 30, 2003 Reeves County Commissioners met this morning to discuss the county's proposed 2004 budget, including possible options to both cut some costs and raise some salaries for the upcoming fiscal year. Commissioners heard from the various department heads on the justification for the expenditures allocated for the up coming year this morning.

State working to get TB-free status on cattle

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 9, 2004 -- While headlines in recent weeks about cattle in the United States have been focused on the possible threat of mad cow disease, veterinarians throughout Texas have been working to prove to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that cattle herds in the state are tuberculosis free, as part of a state-mandated effort.

The USDA funded program constitutes surveillance testing of all dairy cattle herds and 25 percent of all of the pure bred beef herds, and if the tuberculosis (TB) testing proves negative, Texas will once again be allowed to sell cattle across state lines without the added expense of the testing of individual cows, according to website.

The TB free status was lost in 2002, after positive test came back on initially two of the state's 153,000 herds, with a third testing positive in 2003. The results are from a routine screening that showed herds in Pecos County and Irion County in West Texas, Zavala County in South Texas and Fayette County in South-Central Texas all contained some infected cattle.

The positive test placed Texas on a short list of other states whose cattle must be tested and shown to be negative prior to sale. Included on that list with Texas are California, Michigan and New Mexico. This means that ranchers and dairymen in Texas must pay the added expense of testing and more in-depth tagging procedures in order to sell any of the 150,000 breeding cattle that are exported each year, according to the website.

To remedy this situation the USDA has paid for the testing of a large majority of the herds in the state, with the dairy cattle making up the larger portion due to the close proximity that those animals spend with each other. The close quarters make it easier for diseases to be transmitted.

The testing, which began Nov. 1, has kept local veterinarian Ronald Box, busy testing the herds in Reeves County. According to Box, each dairy must be tested all in one day and the results must be read 72 hours later, also in a single day.

The test itself requires that one-tenth of a cubic centimeter of tuberculin antigen be injected intracutaneosly under the tail area, and the results, swelling being positive and no swelling being negative, read after a substantial incubation period.

Box completed testing of the largest dairy in the county, earlier this week, the 1,550 cattle in residence at the Trans Pecos Dairy. The job required the hiring of an additional veterinarian and two helpers for the administration of the test and one helper, in addition to Box, for the reading.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that usually starts in the lungs. Typically the onset of symptoms is slow, due to the bacteria's slow growth rate. Decreased lung capacity, due to the body's reaction to the presence of the unwelcome guests, coughing, wheezing and blood in the saliva are all possible symptoms of a TB infection, according to Box.

The body ends up growing areas of hardened tissue consolidation at the infection sites, due to the irritation caused by the bacteria's attacks. And according to Box, the disease can take years to fully develop. These hardened areas accumulate tissue and form lumps that are one of the few definitive positive signs of a TB infection

Box added that a TB infected dairy cow poses no danger to the public health, due to the pasteurization process that the milk undergoes before it hits the shelves. Only a person drinking raw milk, straight from the cow would need to worry, due to the fact the bacteria can go systemic in a full blown infection.

Box still has to conduct testing on the county's three other dairies in the upcoming weeks.

"We try and do one dairy all the same time to lower confusion," he said. " The need for the animals to be milked further places time constraints on the testing. With the last dairy, we needed to finish testing by 1 p.m. to allow for the cows to be milked. The next dairy on the list is smaller and will allow us to test while the herd is being milked."

The state will be eligible to reapply for TB-free status in 2005, approval of which will be based on the testing conducted this year.

Commissioners' agenda brief for first meeting of new year

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 9, 2004 -- Reeves County Commissioners plan to meet at 11 a.m., Monday in the third floor of the courthouse to discuss several routine items in their first meeting of 2004.

The public is invited to attend.

The group will discuss and take action on Strategic Equipment request for payment No. 8 for the Reeves County Detention Center III and Western Office System maintenance proposal for county clerk/district clerk/sheriff's office filing systems.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on property bids for property located at South Front Street, in Toyah, property located at the 100 Block of S. Elm Street; discuss and take action on the Salary Grievance Committee for 2004; early voting mail out ballot clerk for the 2004 Primary and Run-off elections; grant application for 2004-2005 for the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force inmate transportation crew mileage payments.

Regular agenda items include: reports from various departments; budget amendments and line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes (sheriff's department); minutes from previous meetings and semi-monthly bills.

TxDOT promotes specialty licenses to fund libraries

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 9, 2004 -- Reading programs at Texas public libraries have been benefiting from the sale of the Texas Reads specialty license plate since its introduction to motorists in 2000. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and local county tax assessor-collectors office are featuring the Texas Reads plate as the plate of the month in January. They feature an image of the state flag on the left side of the plate against a starry sky. The words "Libraries - License to Read" run along the bottom.

The Texas Reads license plates are available to motorists for a $30 annual fee, plus $40 if personalized, in addition to regular vehicle registration fees. Of the $30 annual fee, $22 is deposited into the New Millennium Reading Program account.

Applications for the Texas Reads specialty plates are available at county tax offices, on TxDOT's web site (, by calling the TxDOT Help Desk at 512-465-7611, or TxDOT's Fax-On-Demand forms line at 888-232-7033.


PECOS, Fri., Jan. 9, 2004 -- High Thursday 66. Low this morning 31. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. East winds near 10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. Southeast winds near 10 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Sunday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Monday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 60s to the lower 70s. Monday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 30s to the lower 40s.


Eulalia Natividad

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