Archives Menu|||Home Page|||Go to 1997|||




Infighting hurts Pecos court docket

Return to top
As the new federal courthouse at 410 S. Cedar St. nears completion,
activity in the Pecos Division of federal court continues at a near
standstill. And it's not because criminals are avoiding the 10 counties
comprising the Pecos Division. Rather, internal squabbling among federal
agencies seems to be the primary cause.

Two large drug seizures this week are among cases that have been filed
in either Midland or El Paso courts by DEA agents who - for one reason
or another - don't want to come to Pecos.

Border Patrol agents have avoided Pecos like a plague since early 1993
when a new magistrate changed the way misdemeanor cases are handled. Now
that they are allowed to file cases in Alpine, they are taking suspects
arrested right here in Reeves County and in nearby Ward county to Alpine
instead of waiting for the Pecos magistrate judge to drive over from

While we sympathize with the agents who have to drive long distances to
court, we believe Congress put the federal court in Pecos for a reason.
And we believe it should be utilized to the fullest.


Cuts in services follow budget trim

Return to top

Every taxing entity in Reeves County is struggling to cut expenses in
next year's budget so you the taxpayer won't see an increase in your tax
bill. That means some services you have become accustomed to will no
longer be offered.

We've noticed in the past that someone always complains about budget
cuts. "It's O.K. to cut a service my neighbor uses, but leave mine
alone" is the attitude more often than not.

But folks, it's time we faced reality here in Reeves County - and in
all of Texas. Every county, school district, city and special district
we know of is having the same struggle. Property valuations are down;
sales are down; payrolls are down. Where is the tax money to pay for the
services to come from?

Money doesn't grow on mesquite trees. You can't get it from milk cows.
Washington, D.C. doesn't have a bottomless pit filled with greenbacks.
Money to pay for services comes from all of us through the taxing
process. Either we pay up or we give up services.

When it comes time for taxing entities to adopt their conservative
budgets, let's give them our support.


Cantaloupe fest has fun for all

Return to top
Once a year, Pecos takes a break from baseball and swimming to throw a
party featuring the delicious cantaloupes our area farmers harvest in
July and August.

What a delight that orange melon brings to the palate! And on tonight's
agenda another delight is in store with the Little Miss Cantaloupe
Pageant in the high school auditorium.

There 13 girls age 6 through 9 will show off their personality and
their ability to deal with the public to win the coveted title for 1995.
It starts at 8 p.m., and adult admission is only $3, children $1. Get
there early for a good seat.

Then on Saturday the Pecos Chamber of Commerce is throwing a festival
on Oak Street, with cantaloupe contests, food and prizes. It will last
from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. when the two bands fold up their instruments.
Everyone should find entertainment or food to their liking.

This is a change from past years when the festival was held in the
Reeves County Civic Center, but it should be a good change. We'll look
for you there.


Old houses and cars are blight on city

Return to top
Abandoned houses and cars are everywhere! Next door. Down the street.
Crumbling buildings line main highways in the business district,
downtown, uptown and all around the town.

Something must be done to remove this blight from our city. But what?
Who is responsible for the house whose owner died and left it rotting in
a nice neighborhood? Should the city tow away the hundreds of vehicles
not worth repairing?

We have talked with complaining neighbors, city officials, tax
collectors, appraisers, attorneys and the chamber of commerce to
determine what has caused the problem and how it can be remedied.

At first glance, the simplest solution is for a complaining neighbor to
buy the offending lot, clean it up and put it to use as a garden,
driveway or basketball court for the kids.

That's not so simple, though, when taxes have accrued against the
property for years. Even if neighbors paid what the land is worth, they
couldn't get a clear title without paying the taxes - often many times
the property's real value.

Reeves County tax assessor-collector Elfida Zuniga said it has been the
practice of her office generally to file suit against the property only
after delinquent taxes total the appraised value of the property,
because court costs are often more than the property would bring at
sale. And appraised value may range from $1 to $14,999 on a house not
fit to repair.

We suggest that, rather than allow delinquent taxes to accrue on
abandoned property, the taxing entities should begin proceedings to take
possession and either sell or demolish it right away. Delaying only
makes bad matters worse.

As to junk vehicles, city code enforcement officer Mike Lara has been
giving the owners a warning that they will be cited if the vehicle is
not moved. However, without followup, that tactic is not likely to
produce much of a result. A check of municipal court records shows no
citations for abandoned vehicles in recent months.

City Manager Harry Nagel said it is not possible to cite absentee
property owners because law enforcement agencies in distant cities will
not serve misdemeanor citations.

Can the city take legal action if the vehicle is not moved or the
building demolished? Yes, said Scott Johnson, city attorney. If the
original owner dies, the heirs are responsible for keeping the property
up and paying the taxes.

How does the city take possession?

If a structure is in danger of collapse, or is a health or fire hazard,
the city can condemn it, demolish the building and place a lien on the
lot. When the owner fails to respond to notices or to redeem the
property, it can be sold at auction.

Fire marshal Jack Brookshire said he has 25-30 such condemnations on
the books now, awaiting council action. Plus another 25-30 that need to
be condemned. The last 10 that the city hired someone to demolish and
clean up the lot cost $1,500 each, so the council has been reluctant to
take action.

City Manager Harry Nagel said city crews could clean them up for $500
to $600 each, but city crews are busy on other projects.

No doubt taxpayers are going to have to pay to clean up the town. Now
is the time to do it, with a new chamber committee forming to "Keep
Texas Beauutiful."


Fatherhood most important life role

Return to top
With all the controversy over seniors not being allowed to graduate
because they failed their TASS exit tests, it is interesting to note
that the absence of a father in the home affects a child's academic

Children of single parents are less likely to complete high school and
more likely to have low earnings and low employment stability as adults
than children raised in two-parent families.

Former education secretary William J. Bennett said in 1993 that SAT
scores have dropped nearly 80 points in the past three decades. And SAT
grading has changed in that period so that the same answers in 1992
would score between 18 and 30 points higher than in 1960.

Nationally, 29.7 percent of children living with a never-married mother
and 21.5 percent of children living with a divorced mother have repeated
a grade in school, compared to only 11.6 percent of children living with
both biological parents, said Debra Dawson in the Journal of
Marriage and Family.

These studies are quoted by Wade F. Horn, Ph.D. in Father
Facts, a 44-page booklet published by the National Fatherhood

Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school, the
study reveals. They also are more likely to commit a crime. Seventy
percent of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single- or
no-parent situations, a 1987 survey by the U.S. Department of Justice
revealed. Seventy-two percent of adolescent murderers and 60 percent of
rapists grew up without fathers.

Girls without fathers are more likely to have a baby out of wedlock.
Almost half of unwed teen mothers go on welfare within one year of their
baby's birth.

Other problems related to father absence include poor peer
relationships, discipline, emotional, behavioral and psychiatric
problems, suicide, child abuse, drug abuse, poor physical health,
poverty and deprivation.

America has the highest divorce rate in the world. Compared to children
who are part of intact families, children whose parents have divorced
are much more likely to drop out of school, to engage in premarital sex
and to become pregnant outside of marriage. Children living with
stepparents appear to be even more disadvantaged than children living in
a stable single-parent family, and in some instances have more
behavioral problems.

Horn proposes to reverse the trend toward fatherlessness by recognizing
that fathers make unique and irreplaceable contributions to the lives of
their children and that they are more likely to be responsible fathers
in the context of committed and legal marriages. We have to stop
suggesting that divorce can be a good, or at least neutral, experience
for children, he said.

We concur and endorse changes in public policy to encourage marriage by
restoring income splitting for married couples, restructuring the
welfare system to reward, not punish, marriage, and reform divorce laws
to make it tougher to get a divorce.

More than that, our culture must change to reconnect masculintiy and
fatherhood, helping men to see that fathering is the fullest expression
of manhood.

For a copy of the full report, write The National Fatherhood
Initiative, 600 Eden Rd. Bldg. E, Lancaster PA 17601.


City should move on recycling plant

Return to top
What is the Pecos City Council thinking about when it puts roadblocks
in the way of a firm that wants to start a recycling operation here at
little cost to taxpayers?

David Madril has worked for months to get something going. After trying
various methods of financing by obtaining grants, he has worked out a
deal with Butts Recycling of San Angelo to start up a recycling plant
that promises to be a $500,000-per-year business.

Not only would it employ a manager and from one to five laborers, the
plant would divert up to 40 percent of waste going to our million-dollar
landfill. That should be more than enough incentive for the council to

That cooperation would consist of letting Butts use a building that
belongs to the city and re-routing some garbage trucks by the recycling
plant to allow workers to sort out recyclable paper and plastics. That
seems a good investment to us. Are we missing something?


Hide-and-seek ploy leaves you in dark

Return to top
We have a little problem understanding why public officials insist on
meeting behind closed doors to discuss public business. Do they think
the public is not entitled to know every detail of matters paid for with
public funds?

Our policy is to cover every meeting of government entities, including
committee discussions we feel would be of interest to you who pay for
it. While the Texas Open Meetings Act is open to interpretation, and
some feel committees are exempt, we believe the intent is clear. Public
business should be discussed in public unless it involves personal
privacy of employees, advice from an attorney or land purchase.

Appointment of committees to discuss matters in more detail than the
full commissioners court, city council, hospital or school district
boards want to debate is good stewardship of time. But to do it in order
to keep the discussion out of the public eye is, in our opinion, a

We feel our county judge and Pecos Chamber of Commerce officials made
that mistake on Wednesday when they asked our reporter to leave a
meeting concerning administration of the Reeves County Civic Center.
Many of the chamber activities are paid for with tax money, so they must
answer to the taxpayer, too.

Civic center administration has been a problem since it was built with
city tax money. Public pressure to allow non-profit groups to use the
civic center without paying a user fee is constant. And we can
understand how some would resent the chamber's free use of the center in
exchange for booking events.

County Judge Jimmy Galindo said he felt some members of the committee
would hold back and not express their opnions with the press in
attendance. What, we ask, do they have to hide from you? You may want to
ask them that same question.


Truman on target with A-bomb drop

Return to top
President Harry Truman took his responsibility seriously when it came
time to decide whether to drop the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War

Launching the B-29 bomber "Enola Gay" to drop the secret weapon on
Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945 may have been the best move he made during his

As horrible as the devastation was, it undoubtedly saved millions of
lives - both American and Japanese. And the lesson it taught may have
saved millions more lives since, because nations are reluctant to get
into a nuclear war.

How bleeding-heart liberals can now say that dropping the bomb was
cruel; that Japan would have surrendered without it; even that the
United States started the war, is a mystery to us.

Yes, people were killed or horribly disfigured in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. That is regrettable. But we believe the Japanese would have
fought to the last man, woman and child, killing up to a million U.S.

In our opinion, Truman made the right decision.
Return to top

Return to Top

Copyright 1996 Pecos Enterprise
324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321