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August 29, 1997

Council continues to look at budget

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 29, 1997 - The City Council of the Town of Pecos City met yesterday morning in order to review, among other things, expansion of the La Nortena restaurant, suggested zoning changes, and the proposed tax rate for 1997.

Lydia O. Prieto, Registered Tax Assessor Collector, presented the 1997 planning calender to the council. The calender contained information that needed to be reviewed before any action was to be taken.

According to Prieto's findings, the effective tax rate was .70458 per $100 of property valuation. The highest tax rate that may be adopted without printing a notice and holding a public meeting is .72571 per $100 of property valuation. The rollback rate (the highest the tax rate may be set without the citizens being able to petition for a new election) is set at .73086 per $100 of property valuation.

"I spent a month and a half working on these calculations and they have been reviewed," Prieto said, "and they are correct."

The council plans to adopt its tax rate at the Sept. 11 meeting. The school districts are required to adopt their tax rates after this date.

Early in the meeting, a dozen or so police officers took seats in the back of the room, it became clear that the members of the Pecos Police Department had come to comment on the proposed pay plan. David "Kelley" Davis, Lt. of the Pecos Police Department, speaking on behalf of the officers, said, "we feel we should not be taken for granted [when we] dedicate our lives in the service of the public."

Chief of Police Troy Moore emphasized that there was no "animosity" between his department and members of the council, but that the council "should know some of our feelings." The dispute is more about salary than anything else. "We have comparisons from other communities and (salaries there) are somewhat higher," he said. Mayor Stafford said that the pay scale had not yet been approved.

Several members of the community were in attendance to voice concern over changes in zoning that have been proposed. These changes would primarily affect properties on Eddy Street, [Harris Properties and W.J. Investments], that would be changed from C-1 to C-2 status. Although this issue is not so much about alcohol as it is about development (new businesses which are not allowed under the current C-1 zoning status, chiefly a bowling alley and a video arcade, would move into the strip under C-2 zoning status) it was this possibility of alcoholic beverages being sold that raised the most hackles in the debate. Johnny Terrazas said that under C-1 zoning there are only about 10 types of businesses allowed in the area, but under C-2 there would be about 25.

Jim Ivy said there was "no reason to change this zone," and that "businesses would suffer" as a result of it. "This isn't just a zone change for La Tienda but the entire corridor of Eddy Street," he reminded the Council. Greer Willis focused his plea on alcoholism statistics, calling alcohol a "gateway drug." He urged the council to consider the issue from a "personal, moral, and religious" perspective.

Speaking up for the interests of his business, C.J. Evans, owner of area Thriftway stores, said his company needed the change. "We feel we need it to compete," he said. Another man reminded those at the meeting that "you cannot legislate morality . . . We tried it in the '20s and it didn't work."

Councilman Herrera reminded the attendees, "Alcoholism is a problem - not just in this community . . . We are not going to solve the problem of alcoholism on this council." He said that 25 other businesses were pursuing this zone change. "We need to let the businesses know we are not going to regulate what they can and can't sell."

"We're overlooking," interjected Danny Rodriguez, Mayor Pro-Tem, "all the people who moved there for the reason of its zoning." Rodriguez and Graham sought to block approval of the zone change but were voted down by the rest of the council in a motion led by Herrera.

Melissa Davis, Vice-President and Regional Customers Officer of Texas-New Mexico Power, sought the passage of two ordinances that would move the town toward the transition to competition in power providers. "Legislature is moving towards the deregulation of the utility industry," she said. Should the competition plan go into effect, Davis said, "each individual homeowner would be able to choose their energy supplier."

According to Davis, the plan would provide better rates for "high energy users." Under the new plan "Texas-New Mexico Power would be able to recoup losses and be more competitive," she said. However, both special councils assigned by the city to investigate the plan warned against it. "If legislation changed to something better, we would be bound by the agreement," said Councilman Graham.

Scott W. Johnson, City Attorney, advised the council that if they wanted to adopt one of the ordinances that they should adopt Ordinance 11 rather than Ordinance 10. Ordinance 10 would approve the transition plan. Ordinance 11 expresses support only for the plan. "Before the second reading," Johnson warned, "we need more information." Ordinance 11 passed its first reading and will be examined more closely before the second reading at the next council meeting which is scheduled for Sept. 11.

David Castillo, President of La Nortena, Inc., DBA La Nortena Factory (located at 212 East Third St.), was on hand to represent his company's need for expansion approval. The expansion would cross over onto the city's right of way. Soon after the specifics of the construction, the council voted unanimously to approve it. Castillo said that La Nortena needs the expanded facilities in order to grow into a business that may provide stores with food products produced by the factory. The construction changes would bring the factory up to code and allow it to meet State and Federal requirements.

Other items presented to the council yesterday included the monthly Pecos ambulance report (approved); preliminary plans on the 1996 water transmission line improvements project, phase two (approved); producing a grant of easement for Union Pacific Railroad; and advertising for bids on hay for the Pecos Zoo (approved). Also considered were a future contract with Butts Recycling, formation of a non-profit, 501 (c) 3, Corporation in order to pursue funding for the city, and a new roadway municipal maintenance agreement with the State of Texas.

Injunction stops law that restricts
public access to accident records

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AUSTIN, August 29, 1997 - Texas newspapers on Aug. 25 won a temporary injunction prohibiting enforcement Sept. 1 of a state law that would have restricted public access to motor vehicle accident reports.

Lawyers representing more than 500 Texas newspapers and the state attorney general's office agreed to the order temporarily banning enforcement of section 13 of Senate Bill 1069. That provision of the law required police jurisdictions in Texas to restrict access to accident reports unless the requester of such information already possessed detailed information about the accident.

"At least for now, Texas newspapers and other media may continue to report the news of these accidents as they should," said Dolph Tillotson, editor and publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

Tillotson and Roy McQueen, publisher of the Sryder Daily News, were co-chairmen of the Legislative Advisory Committee that represents the Texas Daily Newspaper Association and the Texas Press Association.

State District Judge Paul Davis of the state's 200th District Court approved the agreement in open court. A full hearing will be scheduled sometime in the next 60 days before the judge rules on making the order permanent.

David Donaldson of the law firm of George, Donaldson and Ford represented the newspapers. Assistant Attorney General Nancy Trease represented the attorney general's office.

First Assistant Attorney General Jorge Vega, acting as spokesman for Attorney General Dan Morales, said he believes the press should have "appropriate access" to the accidents reports and that the injunction gives Morales' office more time to consider any unintended consequences of the law and reconcile them with the state's barratry laws.

"We were very pleased with the outcome," Tillotson said. "If the newspapers of Texas had not chosen to fight this, the measure would have become law, and all the state's citizens would have lost their rights to access to these important public records. We believe our case ultimately will prevail, and we're prepared to see the matter through to its conclusion."

State Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, first introduced the measure dealing with accident reports as House Bill 399. Supporters of the bill said it was intended to stop unwanted commercial contact with accident victims from lawyers, chiropractors and others. Members of the newspapers' legislative committee fought the bill and ultimately succeeded in getting Gov. George W. Bush to veto it.

Newspaper spokesmen said the law was overly broad and there were better ways to prohibit such contact by commercial interests. For example, they cite barratry laws which were strengthened during the 75th session of the Legislature.

"We believe if this kind of contact is objectionable, there are ways to control it without discarding the Texas Constitution and the First Amendment," Tillotson said.

Newspapers maintain that the same objectionable language was "log-rolled" into an unrelated bill, Senate Bill 1069, and the governor signed it into law. Gov. Bush said since that he did not know the accident records provision was attached to SB 1069.

"My intention was to veto to allow full disclosure. When I learned that some wording had been attached to another bill that would circumvent my veto, I didn't like it," the governor said.

Closed: Gone to a barbecue

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PECOS, August 29, 1997 - Local pharmacies, banks and government offices will be closed in observance of Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1, but most grocery and convenience stores will be open.

Although the Wal-Mart Pharmacy will be closed, the store itself will be open. Toone's Grocery will be closed on Labor Day, but both La Tienda and Bob's Thriftway will be open during their normal hours. Flying J, all three Town & Country stores, and both Allsup's locations will be open.

The West of the Pecos Museum will be open. No local day-care facilities will be open.

There will be no mail delivery on Monday, and that includes boxes in the post office. The Pecos Enterprise office will also be closed, and there will be no paper delivery on Labor Day.

Balmorhea holds big bean, brisket bash

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PECOS, August 29, 1997 - Balmorhea's 22nd Annual Oasis of West Texas Labor Day Festival promises good eating and good times tomorrow.

The 1997 Oasis of West Texas Frijole Bean and Brisket Cookoff will be held on Saturday, August 30, in Balmorhea as the featured event during the city's traditional Labor Day celebration.

Beans and briskets, which will be provided, will be available by 6 a.m. and will be picked up for judging at 6 p.m. Both foods will be judged on taste, appearance, aroma and tenderness.

The entry fee for the bean cookoff only is $20, $30 for the brisket cookoff only, and $40 for entry into both contests.

For more information on entering, or for an entry form, contact the Balmorhea Area Chamber of Commerce at P.O. Box 251, Balmorhea, TX 79718, or call 915-375-2272.

Other events will take place in Balmorhea during the day-long festival as well. There will be games, a washer pitching tournament, free face painting, a watermelon eating contest, a giant jumping balloon, arts, crafts, and food vendors, plus music provided by DJ David Matta. For more information, call Pat Brijalba at 915-375-2272 or 915-375-2323.

To put the finishing touches on the festivities, there will be a free street dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. featuring "Little Joe Davila and the Jetliners." For more information, contact Pat Brijalba at one of the numbers listed above, or Norman Roman at 915-375-2400. |

Two female ROT members
arrested for trespassing

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FORT DAVIS, Texas (AP) August 29, 1997 - Two Republic of Texas members were arrested Thursday on misdemeanor trespassing charges as they attempted to serve what the organization described as civil federal summonses.

Theresa Holt, 49, and Susan Blackmon, 26, were held late Thursday in the Presidio County Jail at Marfa on $10,000 bond each, said jailer Lee Roy Campos.

A fax from the Republic of Texas stated that the women were serving summonses in a suit filed Aug. 25 by Richard McLaren on behalf of the separatist organization.

"Many officials in Jeff Davis County and Presidio County are also named as Respondents in the suit and summonses," the fax stated.

Members of the group contend Texas remains an independent republic and say they do not recognize Texas state agencies, including district courts.

Ms. Holt and Ms. Blackmon each face two misdemeanor counts of trespassing. Ms. Holt also was found to have outstanding traffic warrants from East Texas, Sheriff Steve Bailey of Jeff Davis County said. The women will appear before state District Judge Kenneth DeHart probably on Friday, the jailer said.

DeHart is the same judge who last week set Oct. 27 as the trial date for Republic founder McLaren and three followers on charges stemming from a week-long standoff with state authorities.

Bailey said Thursday that sheriff's officers arrested the women after receiving complaints from two residents of the Davis Mountains Resort, the same rural subdivision where the Republic members had set up an "embassy" in a trailer and wood cabin.

On April 27, McLaren and the three followers participated in a scheme to kidnap two neighbors in the resort in retaliation for the arrest that day of a group member on weapons charges, the indictment charges.

That led to the standoff between the armed separatists and 300 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Texas Rangers. The siege ended May 3 after McLaren and the others agreed to lay down their weapons.

Bailey said Thursday that the women's arrest shows law enforcement officers' determination to head off any renewed momentum by the Republic.

PBT board adopts amended budget,
considers tax rate increase

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Staff Writer

PECOS, August 29, 1997 - Last night in a special school board meeting, the local school district budget was amended and adopted, and raising the school property tax rate was discussed.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Business Manager Cookie Canon said that the tax rate cannot be set until after Sept. 1. If the tax rate is raised higher than $1.42 (dollar amount of a tax rate of 1.42031) per $100 in property valuation (property value over the $15,000 exempted amount), the district would have to post notices and schedule a hearing, but board members decided that they will not raise it above that amount, although it is quite possible they will go up to that amount. The current rate is 1.37895.

By raising the tax rate closer to the state maximum, the district will see an increase in the amount of state funding it receives next year.

Canon said that a one cent increase in the tax rate would bring about a $37,000 increase in revenue to the district. That amount does not include the additional amount the district would receive in state aid. However, she said, the district wouldn't actually see the additional state funding until the next school year.

At last night's budget hearing, only teachers and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD administrators spoke up and discussed the school district's 1997-97 budget with the school board because no members of the general public attended the meeting.

Ultimately, the district's proposed budget was approved with some previously cut funding being added back in, but the board did not act in unison. Overall, the budget with additions was approved with only one dissenting vote, that of Trustee Linda Gholson, who disagreed with two of the items that were added back in earlier in the evening.

Agriculture teacher Rick Bracy spoke on behalf of the Pecos High School Agriculture department when he asked the school board to replace funding that had been cut for an additional barn at the livestock pens which the department shares with the local 4-H club. In their original budget request, there was a request for $7,000 for the much-needed new barn, he said, but the recent round of budget cuts eliminated that amount.

The barn had already been partially built when its funding was cut, Bracy said. He also said that the barn is quite necessary.

"I'd like to see it back in," said Trustee Earl Bates.

Later in the meeting, Larry Sloan, who heads the district's Career and Technology Department, said, "Every student who participates in the Ag program brings in money," to the district.

Lucila Valenzuela, Pecos Kindergarten Principal, addressed the board about a shortage of personnel to conduct physical education classes at her campus. Currently, Pecos Kindergarten only has a P.E. teacher part-time, because their P.E. teacher, Veronica Valenzuela, also teaches P.E. at Barstow Elementary and has to commute between the two campuses. Because of the commute and the requirement that each teacher has a 45-minute planning period during the instructional day, a substitute is having to cover part of her classes. Principal Valenzuela wanted funding at least for an aide for the P.E. classes, if an additional P.E. teacher isn't fiscally feasible.

Bates said that he wanted to replace some of the funds in the budget from the general fund balance, especially for curriculum items.

School Board President Frank Perea agreed with Bates, especially when it comes to curriculum items.

Trustee Steve Armstrong said that campuses have started programs on their own, then looked to the district for the funds necessary to continue the programs. Armstrong stated that he wants such programs approved by the board and planned on a district-wide scale.

Bates asked to have the $37,000 that was cut from the district's athletic budget put back in.

"We shouldn't have to take away from an athletic program that's already in place to fund another program," Bates said.

"I want every campus treated the same," said Armstrong. He also argued against adding any more money back into the athletic budget when it already has an increase of more than $30,000 over last year's athletic budget.

When it all came down to a vote, the school board voted unanimously to add $7,000 back to the FFA (Future Farmers of America) budget for completion of the barn at the Ag pens.

The other unanimous votes were to approve adding $12,000 for a P.E. aide for the kindergarten and $33,000 back into campus budgets.

Adding $37,000 back into the athletic budget won approval by a narrow margin, being opposed by Armstrong, Gholson and the board's Vice President, Alberto Alvarez.

Gholson also voted against adding $1,250 back into the budget for the annual TEA banquet.

So, when all was said and done, the school board adopted the original budget of $15,600,017, plus the additional amounts of $7,000 for the Ag barn, $12,000 for the P.E. aide, $37,000 for the athletic budget, $33,000 for the campus budgets (to be used for curriculum expenses) and $1,250 for the banquet, for a total budget of $15,690,267. Total revenue for the district is $15,241,128, leaving an amount of $449,139 that will have to be taken out of the general fund balance. Canon explained that the general fund balance is money that has been collected but not spent in the past, which creates the cash flow necessary for the district to operate.

There were also some personnel appointments, resignations, retirements, transfers and coaching assignments acted upon last night.

Maria Juanita Perez will teach English as a Second Language at Lamar Middle School, Tina Tresselt will teach Physical Education at Austin Elementary, Mary Whitaker will teach first grade at Austin and Revis Ward will teach third grade bilingual at Pecos Elementary. Criselda Urias resigned as Personnel/Special Services Director and Felix Urias resigned as a Spanish teacher and Varsity Football coach at PHS. Both resignations were effective yesterday. Sam Martinez transferred for teaching third grade bilingual at Pecos Elementary to math at Crockett Middle School, and Junior Varsity football coach Mike Adams will now be the Varsity football coach at PHS.

Perea this morning expressed his sadness over the resignations of Felix and Criselda (Crissy) Urias, who he said have played integral parts in the district.

"To me, they were an asset to this district...but opportunity knocked, and they answered," he said.

"I and my family will be sad to see them go, but the were offered better positions (in Edinburg) and I don't blame them for going," Perea said.


August 29, 1997

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The Fort Stockton Pioneer

FORT STOCKTON, Aug. 28, 1997 - In contrast to comparable gatherings for the county and the school district, budget hearings for the City of Fort Stockton have been well-attended and live, to say the least. In the course of the hearing, which preceded the regular meeting of the Fort Stockton City Council, critics of the city budget focused mainly upon the city's Main Street Project and Visitor Development Board.

The Big Bend Sentinel

MARFA, Aug. 28, 1997 - The hottest Tejano Country singer on the scene is at this year's Marfa Lights Festival, which will get underway Friday and run through Sunday. A 32-year-old law enforcement officer with six years experience takes over as the new Marfa police chief and a Marfa native has landed a spot on the reconstituted city police force. Chief Oscar Carrillo will be on the job Friday, just in time to help provide security for the Marfa Lights Festival.

The Alpine Avalanche

ALPINE, Aug. 28, 1997 - Alpine launched 19 balloons in its Invitational Labor Day Balloon Rally. With the threat of possible TRNCC fines hanging over the city's head, Alpine Council decided to "get on" with the improvement of the waste water treatment plant.

The International, Presidio Paper

PRESIDIO, Aug. 28, 1997 - Sul Ross State University will offer off-campus classes in Iraan, Presidio and Van Horn this fall. For the third week in a row, enrollment at Presidio schools continues to increase. After the additional 64 students enrolled during the second week of school, 32 more students have been enrolled this week, making a total enrollment of 1,296 in the Presidio schools as of Monday, Aug. 25.

The Sanderson Times

SANDERSON, Aug. 28, 1997 - The Sanderson Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring their Third Sometimes Annual Fly-In Barbecue on Saturday, Sept. 13. All airplane enthusiasts and everyone in the area is asked to come to the Dryden Airport about 11 a.m. and see some of the planes come in.

The Monahans News

MONAHANS, Aug. 28, 1997 - Ward Memorial Hospital plunged into 20 hours of hall-darkened crisis when the hospital's new $115,000 cooling system failed about 8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25. Administrator William O'Brien says the immediate problems were resolved when the hospital's discarded cooling system was retrieved from the rear of a building in Wickett where it had been stored, trucked back to Monahans and installed at the slowly warming hospital by about 4 p.m. on Tuesday.


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PECOS, August 29, 1997 - High Thursday, 102, low this morning, 67. Texans with outdoor plans for the Labor Day holiday weekend have nothing to fear from the weather. It will be clear to partly cloudy and warm across all of the state through the holiday weekend that traditionally marks the end of summer activities. There's no mention of any sort of precipitation. It will be mostly sunny during the day and fair at night across the entire state. Lows tonight will be in the 60s over most of West Texas, ranging from the 50s in the mountains to the 70s in the Big Bend area. Highs Saturday will be in the 80s and 90s in West Texas, ranging upward to near 106 in the Big Bend area.

24-hour weather info available - See the Pecos Enterprise Website on the Internet at for continual radar coverage of area weather. Click on the "News" page and look for the "Weather" link.


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Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
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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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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