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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, January 16, 2004

Board approves $1.1 million field, gym projects

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004 -- Pecos High School football players may be playing on a brand new field this fall, and first through third graders may be playing inside a new facility in the near future, after board members approved the installation of an artificial turf field and a new gym during their regular board meeting held last evening.

After a lengthy discussion, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members voted 4-3 to install artificial turf at Eagle Stadium, an item that drew controversy when first proposed in November. However, all board members agreed on installing new "structure" coat on the existing track at the high school, and the construction of a gym for Austin Elementary School.

Board member Paul Deishler made the motion to approve the turf, with board members Chip Flores, Steve Valenzuela and board president Billie Sadler voting in favor of it.

Board members Amy Miller, Crissy Martinez and Lila Cerna voted against the turf, stating that there were other items that were more important to the district and that needed looking into.

Total cost for the three projects will come to just under $1.1 million.

Several community members were on hand to voice their opinions both for and against the construction of the costly item.

Architect Jeff Bresee had made a presentation to the board during the November meeting, when the proposal to install artificial turf at the football, baseball and softball fields at the high school was tabled. Bresee was on hand again at Thursday's meeting to answer questions.

Walter Holland, a teacher at Pecos High School, read a letter to the board from local Texas State Teacher's Association president, Jamie Crisp.

The letter read in part:

"Our opposition is not to the improvement of an athletic facility, rather to the basic philosophy of spending so much money on extracurricular activities while the administration continues to say the faculties will have be cut even more next year due to reduced enrollment and income.

"As you all know class sizes have risen for nearly all teachers at every level in the district. With larger classes teachers have less individual time for students and have a heavier load of paperwork. In the classroom some students and athletes are voicing their unsolicited opposition to this proposal.

"It just doesn't make sense to them. Faculty and students alike think the money could be better spent: in classrooms that need new desks and paint; on campus grounds that need improvement; for technology updating; to keep more teachers and lower class sizes; to give all personnel a raise and the list is endless."

PHS teacher and softball coach Tammy Walls provided the board with data supporting the benefits of extracurricular activities.

"It does improve success," said Walls.

She provided board members with data gathered on the importance and the many benefits of extracurricular activities.

"The role of sports in youth development, Carnegie Corporation, New York, is one great example," Walls said. "In a report of a meeting in March 1996, found that evidence showed that the involvement of young people in sports produces multiple benefits for them. At their best, sports programs promote responsible social behaviors and greater academic success, confidence in one's physical abilities, an appreciation of personal health and fitness, and strong social bonds with individuals and institutions. Teachers attribute these results to the discipline and work ethic that sports require."

"In a survey of 4,800 high school students in March 1995, the Minnesota State High School League found that 91 percent of them said students who participate in school activities tend to be school leaders and role models; 92 percent said that participation in school activities provides an opportunity not found in a regular classroom setting to develop self-discipline," said coach Walls.

"I could go on about the many benefits and the many data that has been gathered on the benefits of extracurricular activities," said coach Walls. "Any time you upgrade a facility used by so many kids, you can't go wrong."

Prior to the November meeting, Superintendent Don Love said the artificial turf field would cost about $550,000, but the cost would be balanced over 10 years due to a reduction of one field maintenance position with the district and the reduced cost of watering and fertilizing the field. He added that both the football team and the Pecos Eagle Band would be able to practice on the artificial turf during the week, instead of on other fields or in the Eagle Stadium parking lot to avoid excess wear on the stadium's grass field.

P-B-T Athletic Director and head football coach Patrick Willis said that his athletes could practice anywhere, but that he wanted the board members to do what was best for the kids. "Whether it's for the classroom or athletics," said Willis. "I'm for the turf, but like I said, we can practice anywhere, but I do think this is a big benefit to the kids."

Local resident Jim Breese asked some questions about the turf, such as whether the kids would need different shoes. He also asked Bresee and school officials about a lot of the costs in the proposal that he said looked duplicated and the amount of money it would cost annually to take care of the field.

Willis said that the athletes would be using the same shoes, while upkeep of the field was put at $2,000 per year. Maintenance costs for the current grass field were put at $8,800 annually.

Pecos played on one artificial turf field during the past season, at Lubbock High. Other school districts in West Texas with artificial turf fields include Abilene, Amarillo, Andrews, Brownwood, Denver City, Odessa, San Angelo and Sweetwater.

Al Gomez, president of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke on behalf of the turf. He told board members that the chamber had taken a vote and that they all had supported the construction of the new field.

Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral Architects, provided the board with an estimate of how much the field, the installation of new structure on the track and the construction of the Austin Elementary School Gym.

Cost for the artificial turf field was set at $548,800; cost for the structure coat on existing track is $44,800 and cost for the construction of the elementary school gym, was estimated at $491,000.

"I'm all for a state of the art field, but we'd like a state of the art school," said board member Amy Miller. "I've received calls and teachers and community members brought up things that we needed, such as science labs, updated libraries."

"I know we received a list of needs, but are they prioritized," said Miller. "Have they done a needs assessment recently to find out what needs to be taken care of first?"

"We did do a needs assessment, back in 1999, with Monte," said Love.

"In 1999, we broke it down to one, two, three and four," said Hunter. "The district has taken care of completely of one and two and most of three."

Hunter told the group that no school districts have ever gone on and taken care of priority number four, which means it's the most costly, time-consuming and something that isn't entirely vital to the district.

"We just did level one and two and half of the three," said Hunter.

Re-assessments are usually done between five and seven years, according to Hunter. "Midland-Odessa does re-assessments every five years," he said.

"I think the time to projects like these, is during the budgeting process," said Miller.

Miller questioned why the need for a gym at the Austin Elementary School campus.

"I can tell you why, the weather, we're in West Texas where there is a lot of dust and dirt," said board president Billie Sadler.

"Also, when it's raining like today, there is no place for them to go when they should be in P.E.," added Austin Elementary School principal Cindy Duke.

The gym will be a normal size gym for elementary school children. Students currently are forced to spend physical education periods in the school's hallways during bad weather conditions.

"Is that going to be attached to the main building?" asked board member Paul Deishler.

"The way I have it set up, it's stand alone," said Hunter. "It doesn't save any money when you attach it to the building," he said.

"The gym will be big enough to hold one or two classes at a time," said Hunter.

Method of procurement for the projects was recommended that it be done as competitive sealed proposals. "That's what we usually do on these type of projects," said Hunter.

'Meet the Candidates' event set for tonight

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004 -- Local candidates, along with area Rep. Pete Gallego, are scheduled to talk to voters tonight, during a Meet the Candidates Chili Supper sponsored by the Reeves County Democratic Party, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Reeves County Civic Center.

According to Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Dean, the event will serve two purposes. One is to allow the candidates to draw for their position on the March 9 primary ballot as well as speak to the public and make their plan for their respective potential offices known. Second, the dinner will act as a fundraiser for the candidates in the regular election with any of the revenue brought in over the cost of the event itself.

Dean said the candidates will draw numbers that will not only dictate their position on the ballot, but also their speaking order for tonight's forum. All of the candidates are invited to come and speak tonight, but it is not known if the candidates in the uncontested races will come or if they do, it is not known if they will speak, according to Dean.

The schedule for tonight's event is to feed everyone first, then hold the drawings around 7:30 p.m. Speakers will be allowed five minutes to make their position known.

According to Dean this is the third or fourth election cycle that the meet the candidates type of forum has been utilized.

"The drawing has to be held by midnight tonight, but the speeches have been added to allow the public the chance to hear the candidates' position on the issues," Dean said.

The admission at the door will be $5, and Dean is expecting the meeting to run around two hours.

In the only county-wide local election, Jeffrey P. Baeza will challenge current Reeves County Sheriff Arnulfo "Andy" Gomez, who has been the sheriff for the past 11 years. Voters in Precincts 1 and 3 will also be deciding commissioner's races, and voters in Reeves, Ward and Loving counties will cast ballots in a contested race for 143rd District Attorney.

In the Precinct 1 race, incumbent Felipe Arredondo is seeking a fourth term in office and will face four challengers: Rogelio "Roy" Alvarado, "Chel" Florez, Armando "Mondie" Granado and Robert C. Natividad. In the open election for the Precinct 3 seat on the commissioners' court, there are nine candidates: Abel Baeza, Lisa Lopez Boicourt, Rosendo Galindo, Jimmy Gallego, Saul Herrera, Manuel "Manny" Lopez, Joel Madrid, Joseph Peter Rodriguez and Bailey Wheeless.

In the D.A.'s race, two-term incumbent Randall Reynolds will face former district attorney Hal Upchurch in the March 9 election.

All local candidates in Reeves County have filed to run in the Democratic primary.

Rains continue in area, weekend weather to be colder

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004 -- An upper level "trough" that will be moving through over the next few days, has been the source for the precipitation that the Trans Pecos region has been seeing since late Wednesday night.

The rainfall in Pecos is nearing the one-inch mark late this morning, and comes after 2003 went down in the books as the 10th time in the past 11 years the city has recorded below-average rainfall. The city received just over the 10.99 inch predicted average by the National Weather Service in 2002, but was three inches below that total in 2003.

KPTX has reported precipitation totals of 0.85 inches for this system, and the Texas A&M Experiment Station seven miles west of town has reported around 0.78 inches. Various reports from around town and father south give estimates from one half of an inch up to just over one inch. According to Kyle Taylor with the experiment station, most of the heavier rain fell in the area from Interstate 20 south, to around the Verhalen area.

The National Weather Service in Midland estimates the area's chances for rain today at 60 percent, and tonight's chances are 40 percent for precipitation. Saturday the forecast for the second half of the stock show is 20 percent for both the daytime and the evening.

The current weather system is basically a "V" shaped section of cold air that is cutting into the warm air near the ground. As the warm air rises, or is pushed out by the drooping cold air trough, the water in the colder air is agitated and falls in the form of rain.

The trough will equate to lower temperatures in the region over the next few days as it moves through, with a slight chance to produce additional rainfall as it passes.

According to forecaster with the NWS, Douglas Cain, the system is trapping the warm moist air near the ground, giving Pecos the feel of some of the more tropical or costal communities. This will change in the future as dry air will follow this system through the area after the cold front passes by the end of the weekend.

Banks, government closed on Monday

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004 -- Schools, government offices and both local banks will be closed on Monday, in observance of the birthday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King's birthday was Thursday, but is celebrated as one of the national Monday holidays. Along with P-B-T ISD schools, city, state and federal offices will also be closed, and there will be no mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. All offices will reopen for regular business on Tuesday.

The Pecos Enterprise office will be open for regular hours, and the paper will publish as normal on Monday.

Financial aid info for students offered at PHS

PECOS, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004 -- Financial Aid Night will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday at the Pecos High School Cafeteria.

The program will be presented by Jim Glossbrenner of the Panhandle-Plains Higher Education Authority.

There will be a drawing for a $100 scholarship. Everyone is encouraged to attend the workshop to gain important information on student financial aid.

The event is sponsored by PHS Counselors Eva Arriola and Pat Cobos. For more information call 447-7229.


PECOS, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004 -- High Thurs. 58. Low this morning 52. Rainfall last 24 hours downtown at KIUN radio .52 inch. Forecast for tonight: Cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain. Patchy fog after midnight. Lows near 40. SW winds near 10 mph shifting to the west after midnight. Sat.: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of rain. Highs near 50. NW winds 10 to 20 mph. Sat. night: Mostly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of rain. Lows near 30. NW winds 10 to 15 mph.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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