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April 8, 1997

Parents group to seek dress code changes

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Staff Writer
PECOS, April 8, 1997 - A group of about 10 parents, and others concerned
with the effects of Pecos High School's recently-adopted dress code upon
students' morale and scholastic performance, met Monday evening at the
Community Center on Oak Street to discuss recent developments on the

"We've been working With Mr. (P-B-T Superintendent Mario) Sotelo, trying
to do what they've asked us to do, and this is the last thing that they
asked," says Linda Bafidis, referring to the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school
board. Bafidis spoke on behalf of the group until Louis Matta arrived.

A list of 23 concerns and problems which were brought up at the group's
previous meetings was passed out, along with a list of six
recommendations by parents and students for resolving the current
situation, created by February's dress code reform for high school

Among the concerns voiced by the parents' group were the lack of advance
notice to parents about implementation of the dress code by school board
members at their Feb. 27 meeting. Complaints were also voiced about
economic hardship caused by families having to buy new clothes and on
lost and/or failing grades given to students participating in the recent

The changes were made at the recommendation of PHS teachers, in an
effort to combat what they said was a growing discipline problem at the
high school.

The parents group has recommended a temporary and immediate postponement
of the revised dress code until a consensus can be reached, and plan to
present their recommendation to school board members at their Thursday

"We recommended four basic changes for presentation to the school board,
if they won't accept the old dress code," said Becky Gonzales, a member
of the group of parents.

The group also asked for the formation of a citizen's group to study
both the discipline issue and dress code revision. The group they
propose would include parents, students, teachers, administrators, and
school board members.

The parents group also recommends that sensitivity training be given to
school staff for dealing with culturally sensitive issues, that there be
discussion among teachers, students and parents as to what are
acceptable forms of etiquette, the implementation of a dress code for
teachers and staff, and reinforcement of the idea that PHS is for
education, not punishment.

Teachers at PHS already have a dress code in effect, but it is not
strictly enforced, and the group agrees that is a major bone of
contention between the opposing sides.

"There is no penalty for teachers not following their dress code," said
Matta, spokesman for the parents group. Parents and students present
felt that the teachers must follow at least the same dress code as the
students to set an example of what is acceptable.

They believe that it is hypocritical for a teacher to tell a student to
tuck in his or her shirt when the teacher does not have their own tucked
in, Matta said.

A group of parents, students and PHS teachers met last Thursday, and
Matta said they agreed to ask the school board to return to the dress
code approved at the start of the 1996-97 school year. However, it was
not known that this issue would be brought up for a vote among the PHS
teachers, said Gonzales.

But a teacher who was present at Monday evening's meeting said teachers
met at 2 p.m. Monday afternoon in the high school auditorium, at which
time they voted to enforce the current dress code exactly the way it is
now written.

"I'm not convinced any of this is going to help discipline at all,"
Matta said.

The teacher, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation,
said her presence at the meeting was out of extreme concern for a
hard-working student who is likely to drop out of school because part of
the dress code is difficult for the student to abide by and causes the
student to suffer great embarrassment.

The student in question is not considered to be a discipline problem,
both the teacher and Matta said.

The group of parents at the Community Center said they were generally
frustrated, wondering what they have to do in order to be listened to.
On the whole, they believe they are being ignored and pacified.

A few people at the meeting didn't want to be identified because they
are "already in enough hot water," as one put it.

The parents believe they were misled from the time the dress code
revision was put on the school board agenda. They believed, as did the
teacher who attended, that the dress code revisions to be discussed on
Feb. 27 pertained to the 1997-98 school year, not the present one.

Other issues discussed Monday evening included the possibility that the
situation could lead to a parent suing the school district if their son
or daughter is adversely affected by their participation in the dress
code protests, or the possibility that the school district will decide
to require students to wear uniforms.

"Everybody's backed into a corner," Matta said. He repeatedly urged the
parents who were present Monday night to attend Thursday's 6 p.m. school
board meeting in the P-B-T board room, 1304 S. Park St. He said if the
parents want the school board to listen to them, they must show up and
speak up, both at the board meeting and at the ballot box next month,
when two seats on the school board will be contested by three candidates.

Parents expressed the concern that showing up at the school board
meeting wouldn't help because they wouldn't be allowed to speak if they
couldn't get the school board to put this item on the agenda. Matta said
they have a constitutional right to speak and can sign-in under a
comments section and would be allowed to make brief statements.

According to P-B-T School Board President Linda Gholson, the public can
make comments during the audiences (agenda item number 3) section of the
school board meeting, as long as they do not personally attack anyone.

Gholson added that the school board is legally prohibited from reacting
to any comments made by audience members during the meeting. A time
limit, usually of five minutes, can be set on individual speakers. Also,
if there are a large number of people who wish to speak on one
particular subject, they can be asked to have one spokesperson represent
their interest, Gholson said.

Stake sought for renters in property tax reforms

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Associated Press Writer
AUSTIN, April 8, 1997 - Those who rent homes and apartments in Texas
should get a piece of the windfall promised by a proposal to drastically
reduce local school property taxes, some lawmakers and advocates say.

A House committee is wrapping up public hearings today on a plan to
lower property taxes by expanding the state business tax to all
companies except sole proprietorships.

The plan also would increase the number of goods and services subject to
the sales tax and and dedicate another $1 billion in state funds to

Fiscal analysts say the bottom line would be a school tax cut of more
than $3 billion a year.

But some lawmakers and advocates for the poor and middle class have
argued that renters would end up paying higher business or sales taxes
without getting the benfit of lower property taxes.

On Monday, the Texas Apartment Association offered a plan to answer that

The association represents about 9,500 property owners who control more
than 80 percent of the state's apartments and about 20 percent of other
residential rental property. There are about 2.7 million rental
residential properties in Texas, according to the group.

It proposed a mandatory, one-time rent credit or rebate. The proposal
would cover all residential rental property. It would require owners to
determine their total rent income in January 1998, divide that by each
unit's rent and multiply that factor by its property tax savings.

A renter paying $500 a month in a complex that makes $95,000 in rent in
January would get a $211 credit or rebate if the complex saved $40,500
in property taxes.

``It's a start,'' said Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston. About half of the
city of Houston's households rent.

``If we don't mandate it, it won't happen,'' Hochberg said of landlords
sharing their property tax cuts with renters.

But Rep. Kim Brimer, R-Arlington, said he doesn't think the Legislature
can force landowners to share their tax cuts.

``You've got to give them credit for coming forward,'' Brimer said of
the proposal. ``I don't know how you could do a mandate.''

George Allen, executive vice president of the association, said the
group wants renters to know they will get something up front from the
plan and benefits in the future. He said property tax cuts eventually
will lead to lower rents

But Dick Lavine, a policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy
Priorities, said the one-time credit isn't enough.

``It will take more than a year for the market to force rents down,''
Lavine said. ``In the meantime, apartment owners would get a windfall.''

Lavine said the committee should consider a rebate system in which
renters who pay more than 2 percent of their annual income to school
property taxes through their rent would get a 50 percent rebate of the
amount above 2 percent. Of monthly rents, 12.5 percent would be assumed
to be school property taxes.

Such systems are called circuit breakers.

A person that makes $12,000 a year and pays $500 a month in rent would
get a $255 rebate.

Hochberg said some system will have to be developed to make sure renters

``Clearly we have to find a way,'' he said.

Cox says Head Start moving closer

to fulfilling requirements for grants

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Staff Writer
PECOS, April 8, 1997 - Two weeks into her new job as executive director
for the Community Council of Reeves County, Caprice Cox finds the work
"extremely interesting."

Cox took the reins of the agency that distributes more than $1 million
in federal grants each year, at a time when Head Start officials were
threatening to cut off funding that could have scuttled the entire

Six deficiencies noted last year by a Head Start monitor are 99.9
percent complete, and the last element should be finished Friday, Cox

"We will meet the April 26 deadline," she said. "The ladies have been
working very hard."

Mary Jane Onitveros is the new Head Start director. Her previous
experience has been valuable in completing policies, obtaining staff
training and working up a community needs assessment survey.

Cox said the CNA is the last deficiency to be corrected, and that will
be completed Friday.

Consultant Zandra Trower from New Mexico was in Pecos last week and the
week before to train the staff and help them accomplish the goals.

"She gave individualized assessment for each area of the Head Start
program," Cox said.

Community Council board members updated personnel policies in their
last meeting, but they have yet to be approved by the Head Start policy
council. Cox said the policy council failed to convene a quorum in its
last scheduled meeting.

By-laws were updated, and the community council board will alternate
meeting places each month between Pecos, Monahans and Kermit.

Cox said she has filled an outreach position for Ward County and has
interviews today for a fiscal clerk in the Pecos office. The only
position left open is a part-time bus driver for Head Start.

Asked if CCRC has the money to pay salaries for all the positions
filled recently, Cox said funds are available to meet all the bills.

"Our bookkeeping system shows what they are doing," she said. "Having a
fiscal clerk will make it a lot easier."

Each staff member now has a job description that details exactly what
they are responsible for, she said.

Meals on Wheels is one program the council operates, with the help of
volunteers to deliver meals to the elderly in their homes.

"There is always room for more volunteers," Cox said. Anyone who would
like to help deliver noon meals on weekdays should call Hilda Mendoza at

Even if she has to pitch in to help deliver meals, Cox won't mind.

"I'm enjoying my new job very much," she said.

Meetings planned to discuss highway plans

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Staff Writer
PECOS, April 8, 1997 - Public meetings to discuss statewide highway and
transit projects for the highway departmentÆs three-year and 10-year
plans will be held tomorrow and Thursday in Alpine and Van Horn.
The El Paso District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
will hold the meetings at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Brewster County
Courthouse in Alpine and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the TxDOT maintenance
office on U.S. 90 in Van Horn.

A list of projects planned for Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis
and Presidio counties will be discussed in both meetings. TxDOT
officials will be available to discuss the Unified Transportation
Program (UTP) and the District Rural Transportation Improvement Program
(TIP) preparation process, including project selection and development.
ôWe have a number of projects proposed for the next three years
beginning in September,ö said Judy Ramsey, TxDOT District Transportation
Administrator. ôWe will discuss some of the proposed projects, some
projects completed in the past year, and some that are currently
Both meetings will address the same topics, according to Ramsey who is
in charge of advanced transportation planning for the six western-most
counties of the state.
The UTP is the highway departmentÆs 10-year planning document used to
guide project development. A an annual public hearing helps determine
the UTP.
TIP is a three-year budget program for highway and transit projects
throughout the state. City, county and other public agencies provide
TxDOT with information used to develop the plan.
Improvements to be discussed include: resurfacing and adding shoulders
to a 10-mile stretch of S.H. 166 near Fort Davis for a cost of
$2,250,000; resurfacing a 10-mile length of S.H. 118 in Jeff Davis
County near Nunn Hill for $2,750,000.
Other projects will be discussed as well.
One of the purposes of the two meetings is to let people come and tell
us about problems they think we have,ö Ramsey said. ôWe also like to
have the opportunity to meet with the public.ö
Information on the UTP and TIP proposed projects is available at the
District Office at 212 N. Clark, El Paso; the Alpine Area Office on S.H.
118 (Fort Davis Highway) in Alpine; the East El Paso Area Office at 1535
Hawkins Boulevard, Suite C. in El Paso; and at all TxDOT maintenance
offices in Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis and Presidio
The public is invited to present oral or written comments on either
project at both public meetings. Or, written comments may be submitted
by April 23 to the TxDOT District Office at 212 N. Clark Drive in El
Paso or the area offices in Alpine and East El Paso, or to Eddie
Sanchez, P.E., District Engineer, Attention: Advance Transportation
Planning, P.O. Box 10278, El Paso, Texas 79994-0278.

Fabens man denied bail

in 400-pound pot seizure

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Staff Writer
PECOS, April 8, 1997 - An El Paso federal magistrate denied bail for a
Fabens man caught with 400 pounds of marijuana, and he is awaiting trial
in Pecos.

Luis Enrique Guerrero, 27, was arrested March 1 by a Border Patrol agent
as he drove east on a dirt road in Quitman Canyon in Hudspeth County.

While questioning Guerrero about his citizenship, the agent claims he
smelled a strong odor of marijuana from the bed of the pickup. Guerrero
said he was hauling firewood, and a few logs were in the pickup bed,
lying on top of a gray carpet. When the agent lifted a corner of the
carpet, he saw bundles wrapped in plastic.

Further search of the pickup turned up 36 bundles of suspected
marijuana, the complaint alleges.

Guerrero told DEA agents he was to be paid $80 to transport the truck to
Clint. However, he was driving east away from Clint, agents said.

An El Paso grand jury indicted Guerrero, and the indictment was
transferred to the Pecos court today.

DA seeking to get pickup

after drug bust on car lot

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Staff Writer

PECOS, April 8, 1997 - Two Carlsbad, N.M., residents have lost their
pickup after being charged with possession of heroin last Wednesday.

Tony Aguilar, Reeves County Sheriff's Department deputy, arrested Joe
R. Looney and Leslie Young on April 2, after being notified of a
suspicious vehicle on the Pecos Autoplex parking lot.

When Aguilar arrived at the parking lot to find the two men seated in
the 1974 Chevrolet pickup, he asked for consent to search. Denied
consent, Aguilar had his drug-sniffing dog walk around the exterior of
the pickup, and it alerted on the passenger door.

Upon searching the vehicle, Aguilar found a condom with 11 papers of
heroin and two syringes, according to an affidavit filed in 143rd
District Court.

District Attorney Randy Reynolds filed notice of seizure and intent to
forfeit the pickup, based on its suspected use in a drug-trafficking


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PECOS, April 8, 1997 - High Monday 80, low last night 48. Tonight, increasing cloudiness,
becoming cloudy. Areas of fog Possible toward morning. A 20 percent a
chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low near 40. Northeast wind 10-20
mph. Wednesday, cloudy with areas of fog or drizzle possible early. A 30
percent chance of rain. High around 60. East wind 10-20 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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