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Wednesday, January 15, 1997

School board OKs Barstow closing study

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Staff Writer

PECOS, January 15, 1997 - A cost analysis study on the possibility of
shutting down Barstow Elementary will be conducted, following a
suggestion by the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Restructuring Committee chairman,
during Tuesday night's school board meeting.

The closing of two other Pecos campuses was also discussed by board
members during their first monthly meeting of 1997, which was postponed
from its regularly scheduled date last Thursday.

Board Member Frank Perea, who chairs the Restructuring Committee, said
he and Superintendent Mario Sotelo have been discussing the most popular
plan of all those that were worked out, after the restructuring issue
first came up last year.

The outline calls for the closing down of the current Pecos Elementary,
Barstow Elementary and Lamar Middle School Sixth Grade campuses.

Under this plan, Austin Elementary will house first through third
graders; Bessie Haynes Elementary, fourth and fifth; Zavala Middle
School, sixth graders; Crockett Middle School, seventh and eighth

The proposal states that changes will occur during a phasing-in period,
with no immediate changes for a smoother transition.

This, Perea outlined in a proposal handed out to board members last
month, will allow for primary grades to be together, thematic planning
and aids in preparing students for the third grade state mandated TAAS

"By keeping the lower grades in the same location, students will be able
to build on a strong foundation. Students will be tracked easier.
Permanent files will no be changed to a new location every year."

He suggested that Pecos Elementary will be an ideal location for a
central office, while placing sixth grade students at the Zavala Middle
School campus is a feasible move because of the facilities.

"Sixth graders will be able to make the proper transition to junior high
making it less stressful for students. The availability of the gymnasium
is of great benefit to students because they will gain a better
instruction of sports."

Perea added that having a band hall available to sixth graders was also
a benefit, since they would no longer have to be bused to the high
school's facility.

The combination of seventh and eighth graders will allow teachers to
plan a curriculum together and build stronger goals, according to the
proposal, while also building a stronger foundation for academic and
physical events such as UIL and sports events.

The outline also points out, "Being that the railroad tracks have been a
concern among many people, the closing of Lamar...will be an ease of
mind. Automation of the libraries are currently in place at Bessie
Haynes and Austin Elementary and Crockett. By placing the students at
these campuses, more students will be reached and use the facilities."

Other options which were considered included: additional construction to
Austin Elementary and Crockett Middle School; cost of construction
versus the savings in phasing out Lamar Middle School, Barstow and Pecos
Elementaries; busing Barstow students to their various designated

During Tuesday's meeting, Perea suggested that the board, "seriously
discuss what's involved in closing Barstow," in the first step in the
gradual move towards the entire restructuring plan, which would be
implemented in the 1997-98 school year, if passed.

Sotelo told the board that a bus is currently running to and from
Barstow for Pecos Kindergarten and Lamar sixth grade students, so,
"we're not talking about too many more buses," having to make the route
if all Barstow students were transported to and from Pecos after the
campus there was closed.

Board President Linda Gholson pointed out, "we've been told if perchance
Barstow decided to leave district, the state will compensate us for that

"We feel like we would save as far as personnel," said Sotelo, who also
commented, "if you ask me," the campus would make and excellent facility
for the Alternative Education Program.

Perea was asked to gather up the cost analysis for the board to
consider. No action was taken.

Trustee Hugh Box told Perea to, "get everything together," so the board
can approach the Barstow community with answers.

In other business, the board approved the discipline management plan as
presented by Pecos High School Principal Alice Duerksen. She said
revisions were, "we simply organized this and made it easier for us to

The administrator's evaluation forms were unanimously approved as
presented at a prior meeting, with the rating's scales changed from 1 to
3, instead of 1 to 5.

No action was taken and the item postponed pending further discussion on
the increase of hours for Alternative Education Program and Juvenile
Detention Center students.

All members of the school board voted to enter a lease/purchase
agreement for a new Xerox copier for the Central Office.

The office equipment did not have to be bid out, according to Business
Manager Cookie Canon, who said it came from a state bid list.

The Summer Food Program will continue to be administered by the school
district, after board members deliberated over allowing another entity
to take it over under a waiver option set forth by the Texas Department
of Human Services. The vote was unanimous.

After a lengthy, first portion of an executive session, board members
released a statement regarding the use of video equipment in the PHS
field house that was discovered by a maintenance employee.

It read: "Upon review of our superintendent's report regarding the use
of a video recorder on school district premises, this board finds no
wrongdoing nor do we find any intent of wrong doing against any school
personnel. Our superintendent was «MDUL»solely«MDNM» directed toward
providing for a safe school environment for our students and personnel
and in striving for a drug free school district."

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Mike Belew
met with the board during their closed-door session, while other
coaching staff members waited in the administration building.

Three appointments were approved following the executive session.
Stephen Bradley will be serving as Alternative Education Teacher;
Deneisa S. McNeese, Pecos Elementary and Pecos Kindergarten Counselor
and Sheryl Wyles (Milling) Pecos High School Special Education Teacher.

State gets brief break from freeze

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From Staff and Wire Reports

You know how sometimes it rains cats and dogs?

Well, it might have been worse than that in Houston on Tuesday.

Huge chunks of ice were falling hundreds of feet from the tops and sides
of skyscrapers.

``Heads up!,'' yelled security guard Claude Moore, standing on a street
corner warning workers en route to lunch.

They looked up and scooted out of the way as hail-like pieces plunged
from the roof and sides of 36-floor Pennzoil Place.

``I haven't seen anyone seriously hurt,'' Moore said, ``but a large
sheet of ice did fall earlier and shattered a street light on a corner

Wooden barricades, yellow ``caution'' tape and orange plastic cones were
set up to warn pedestrians entering buildings downtown, in the Galleria
area and other parts of Houston.

The melting ice was part of a brief warming trend that brought
temperatures back over the freezing mark for the first time in several
days in some parts of Texas. However, a new cold front is expected to
arrive in the state by Thursday, bringing on a new round of overnight
lows in the teens and 20s.

Pecos' high on Tuesday got up only to 31 degrees, after an overnight low
of 18. That was still better overall than on Monday, when the city's
temperature never strayed off the 19 degree mark.

While few accidents were reported in the Pecos area on Tuesday, the cold
weather was accompanied by ice and snow in the Midland-Odessa-Big Spring
area along I-20, leading to a series of crashes. Schools were canceled
in both Midland and Odessa, while Howard College in Big Spring, along
with schools in Forsan and Lamesa, began classes late today to allow for
ice on roads to melt.

To the south, Interstate 10 reopened Tuesday afternoon, after being
closed for over 24 hours due to ice between the Pecos River crossing
(Sheffield) and Junction. I-10 was open going west to El Paso, where
temperatures were in the 50s on Tuesday.

The frigid weather loosened its grip on ice-crusted South Texas as
temperatures inched above the freezing mark Tuesday, but more than
80,000 residents remained cold and in the dark because of power outages.

Still, that was an improvement from the nearly 300,000 customers who
were out 24 hours earlier in Houston and its suburbs and the
Beaumont-Port Arthur area.

Roxanne Becker, a Chambers County sheriff's employee in the
Winnie-Stowell area, said she has been without power since Sunday

``The motels around here are full and have waiting lists,'' she said.
``Luckily, I could go to my parents' home. They have a small gas heater,
and we all huddle around it.''

The National Weather Service said today's thaw might be only a brief
respite. Another Arctic front will move into the Houston area by

Because moist Gulf air is expected to flow over the front, the area will
likely see more freezing rain starting Friday, said Gregg Waller, a
meteorologist at the Houston-Galveston weather service office.

``The end of the week,'' he said, ``will look very familiar to the
beginning of the week.''

The cold wave and ice storm that swept across the state beginning over
the weekend is blamed for at least 13 deaths, most of them in traffic
accidents, authorities said.

Some roads and highway bridges remained treacherous as far south as the
Kenedy County, just north of the Rio Grande Valley, but there was no
repeat of Monday's hundreds of collisions.

Improving conditions allowed state transportation officials early
Tuesday afternoon to reopen for the first time in 20 hours a 200-mile
stretch of Interstate 10 in West Texas from Junction to Fort Stockton.

In Austin, the Texas legislature began its biennial session but the
number of spectators was down because of difficulties getting into the

Greyhound bus service in Houston was idled Tuesday for a second
consecutive day, forcing travelers to pass the time in the terminal.
Some slept in parked buses.

``We've been sitting around talking to people,'' said Manuel Hernandez,
who was trying to get home to Laredo. ``It's a little boring, but you do
what you can. You make the best of it.''

At mid-day Tuesday, bus service south to the Rio Grande Valley and east
to Louisiana resumed. Service, though, to the northern and western parts
of Texas remained halted.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where American Airlines
cancelled 600 out of 1,560 flights Monday, only 160 departures were put
off Tuesday as temperatures warmed.

Copyright 1997 Pecos Enterprise. All rights reserved. AP contributed to
this report.

Jury sides with Ward County in suicide suit

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Staff Writer

PECOS, January 15, 1997 - Federal court jurors this morning rejected a
California mother's claim that Ward County Sheriff Ben Keele and his
jail staff caused her son's suicide by being consciously indifferent to
his human needs.

Maria Gutierrez sought $1.7 million damages for the May 11, 1995 death
of 29-year-old David Oyerbides, but she will receive nothing as a result
of the suit.

The jury reached its verdict after hearing two days of testimony,
including from expert witness Joe Rowan, who said on Tuesday that
jailers violated their own written policy by placing Oyerbides in a
padded cell with his clothing and failing to place him under a constant
suicide watch.

Rowan, a recognized authority on suicide prevention, testified that Ward
County, its sheriff, jail administrator and jailers who handled
Oyerbides before he committed suicide in the jail proximately caused his
death by their deliberate indifference.

Sheriff Keele's written policies track state standards, Rowan said. Had
they been followed, Oyerbides would not have been left alone to hang
himself by making a noose of his own shirt.

But actual policies the staff followed differ from written policies, he

The stipulated fact that jailers did follow actual policies in handling
Oyerbides places the blame on Ward County for failing to train the jail
staff, said Curtis Stuckey, attorney for the plaintiff.

Stuckey represented Gutierrez in her claim against Keele, jail
administrator Mary Byrne and jailers Mario Nunez, Daniel Leyva, Frarin
Valle and Nora Littlejohn.

Byrne testified Tuesday that jailers properly handled Oyerbides, because
he was not believed to be suicidal on May 11. He was placed in a padded
cell with his clothes on because he had become verbally abusive when
jailer Teresa Eubanks teased him, Byrne said.

Eubanks wanted to place Oyerbides in a segregation cell as punishment,
but Byrne told her to put him in the padded cell, which is closer to the
booking area, she said.

The 8 a.m. incident occurred at the end of Eubanks' shift, and she left
without documenting her actions. After the suicide, Byrne called her
back to complete the record.

Byrne claims that Eubanks falsified the record by noting that she moved
him to the padded cell because he was violent, suicidal and

It is the jail's actual policy to check on an inmate every 15 minutes
after he has been placed in a padded cell without clothing, Byrne said.
But for an inmate who is violent, the procedure is to check him every 30
minutes, which they did for Oyerbides.

Byrne said she fired Eubanks for the way she handled the situation.
Eubanks was later reinstated by Sheriff Keele, but is no longer employed

Richard Bonner, attorney for the defendants, said this morning that if
any jailer was "a little bit mean" to Oyerbides it was Eubanks, but she
was not sued.

All those involved were saddened by Oyerbides' death by his own hand, he
said. None claims they are perfect.

"Fortunately the law does not require perfection of any of us, let alone
jailers who make far less than $2,000 a month," Bonner said. "The law
does require they don't act with conscious indifference...They do care
about their jobs; they were shocked this man had chosen to take his own

No one could have predicted that, he said.

Mrs. Gutierrez, who lives in California, testified she talked by phone
with Oyerbides a week before he was arrested and detected he was
depressed. He said he was contemplating suicide, she said.

"But when she got a call from her sister May 11, Mrs. Gutierrez is
shocked, stunned, didn't expect it," Bonner said.

Referring to a letter introduced in evidence, Bonner said that Oyerbides
blamed the girls - "children" - he was accused of molesting for "taking
my life away."

"They didn't take his life away any more than the defendants," Bonner
said. "They didn't make him smoke marijuana, drink alcoholic beverages,
commit theft, sexual assault, child molestation."

Senior Judge Lucius Bunton gave the charge at mid-morning to the six
women and one man sitting on the jury. They reached a verdict at 11:45

Saenz eyes alternate plan after YMCA bid rejected

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Staff Writer

A dream of opening a YMCA locally has died down, but other suggestions
could pan out with the cooperation of three local entities.

A effort was begun two years ago to attract a YMCA, and was led by
Anchor West general manager Oscar Saenz.

"The YMCA Regional office in Dallas are the ones we have been in contact
with in trying to fulfill this venture," said Saenz. "We took the first
three steps in incorporating a YMCA in Pecos," he said.

After the third step was evaluated, the condition of the town and its
ability to support a YMCA and admit everybody, officials found that it
would be difficult to do so in Pecos.

"They have adopted a wait and see attitude," said Saenz.

He said he has not been able to get in touch with anyone from that
office, and his calls and faxes have not been returned.

"Because of this we have lost the $140,000 that had been promised," said

The projected estimated cost for the venture is somewhere between
$140,000 and $180,000.

"We tried, but right now we'll just have to give it a closure," said

However, he added that he had some suggestions which might enable Pecos
to incorporate their own type of Y, maybe calling it something else.

"Since a YMCA doesn't have to all be located in one building, it can be
in various ongoing facilities," said Saenz.

Saenz suggested that the city, county and schools pool their resources
and open up the facility to the public.

"For example, the school could open the natatorium, the weight room at
the school could be open to the public when not utilized by school
functions and the various softball fields utilized for other
activities," said Saenz.

The city or county could provide lifeguards for the natatorium and
coordinate the same way as the YMCA would, according to Saenz, instead
of begging the YMCA.

"If we could band together and pool our resources we could make this
work," said Saenz.

Pecos has been without a central recreational facility since December,
1990, when the West Pecos Gym was closed for safety reasons.

The building, which had a weight room, racquetball courts and basketball
and volleyball leagues, was operated by the Pecos Community Recreation
Department. It was set up originally with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD,
Town of Pecos City and Reeves County as equal partners. At one time, all
three groups put in $10,000 annually to support the PCRD, and had
members serving on the recreation department's board.

The PCRD also oversaw outdoor sports at Maxey Park, but funding was cut
over recent years, and the PCRD ceased supervision of softball, T-ball
and flag football leagues in 1995.

Hinojos begins term as Chamber president

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Staff Writer

PECOS, January 15, 1997 - Gerald Tellez thanked Pecos Chamber of
Commerce directors, staff members and all who supported the chamber
during his tenure as president, as he handed over the gavel Tuesday to
incoming president Paul Hinojos.

"Thank you for your patience and hard work making Pecos and Reeves
County a better place to live," Tellez said.

Hinojos said he hopes to continue cleaning up the city to make it look
pretty, and thanked Kevin Duke and others who helped with that project
during the past year.

Other goals include good attendance at board meetings, adding new
chamber members, promoting Pecos retail sales and having fun.

He recognized and welcomed new board members and acknowledged the six
retiring directors.

Looking forward to the annual awards banquet Jan. 24, Hinojos gave the
background of the keynote speaker, David D. Alba.

Alba was born in Piedras Negras Mex., 48 years ago but was raised in
Pecos. He is special agent in charge of the FBI's area region,
headquartered in El Paso.

Executive Director Tom Rivera asked directors to fill out a form giving
personal information to update the chamber database and a chart showing
the chamber's organizational structure.

In his written report on the state of the chamber, Rivera said the year
1996 closed with finances in good condition, despite "many challenges"
during the year.

Computer enhancements and a "slightly used" Xerox machine modernized
office equipment, allowing the chamber to go online through the Internet
to the Texas Department of Commerce.

Utilizing a new program to filter business prospects, TDC has already
e-mailed Pecos a good prospect, Rivera said.

The new ag development committee met on a regular basis to assess
dilemmas facing the ag industry in Reeves County and are working toward
improving industry.

In October the tax incentive committee was created as a task force of
the economic development committee to prepare a tax abatement program
for all taxing entities in the county. They have a plan ready for

Other highlights of the year include a barbecue dinner honoring
dedication of the new Lucius D. Bunton III U.S. Courthouse, a Texas
Global Communities Workshop, management of the Reeves County Civic
Center, Golden Gloves Tournament, rodeo-related events, fall concert and
fair, successful lawsuit against Mazz, a band that failed to perform,
and amended bylaws allowing two high school students to be chamber

Brandy Owen, incoming president for the women's division, said they are
planning decorations for the banquet and that the Christmas lighting
contest was a success.

Rivera said the community bulletin board in front of the chamber office
is nearing completion and invited everyone to post their events by
calling the chamber.

Named as chair and co-chair of committees were: Economic Development,
Pauline Moore and Bob Curry; Advertising-tourism, Dick Alligood and
Kevin Duke; Merchants, Linda Gholson and Mickey Vasquez; and Ag
Development, C.W. Roberts.

Gilbert Abila and Steve Valenzuela were named to the executive committee.

The board agreed to allow the nominating committee to select two
students from high school applicants for presentation at the banquet.
They will have the same responsibility as adult members, with the
exception that they may not be involved with alcoholic beverages nor be
required to perform any duties that interfere with school-related

Bruce Dury, Christian Home director, was accepted as a new member.

Dick Alligood urged everyone to attend the economic development
committee meeting in the Quality Inn at 7 a.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 21,
and to sign up to help with the Golden Gloves regional tournament on
Feb. 7-8 at the Civic Center.

Hinojos asked directors to have a positive attitude in the coming year.

"We have a lot of negativity. We have to turn that around," he said.
"Think positive and show it to someone around you, and it is contagious."


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Beatrice Dill

Funeral arrangements are incomplete for Beatrice Dill, 98, who died this
morning at Reeves County Hospital.
The pending services will be held in Okemah, Okla., while local
arrangements are being handled by Pecos Funeral Home.
She was born on March 20, 1898 in Anna, Ill., and moved to Pecos in
1972. She was a retired teacher and a Methodist.
Survivors include a daughter, Dot Pearce of Pecos, seven grandchildren,
11 great-grandchildren and four great-great-gradchildren.


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High Tuesday 31, low last night 18. Tonight, mostly clear., turning
colder toward morning. Low around 20. Northwest wind 5-15 mph, becoming
north to northeast 10-20 mph toward morning. Thursday, partly cloudy.
High in the mid 30s. Northeast wind 5-15 mph.
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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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