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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


February 10, 1998

Educator of the Year 'hooked' on teaching

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 10, 1998 - Betty Cook's roots grow deep, both in Reeves County and in education. That might have something todo with why she was recently named Educator of the Year by the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.

Betty was born in Pecos to a mother whose father was the first teacher in the county.

Her grandfather, T.H. Beauchamp, was also superintendent and teacher of the first school in Pecos, athree room building constructed in 1883 in old Pecos on the Pecos River. Total enrollment at theschool was 52 students. In 1916 Beauchamp became a member of the Pecos school board.

As Betty grew up she attended Pecos schools and graduated from Pecos High School. Then she wenton to attend Hardin Simmons University where she graduated with degrees in business and sociology. Betty said that after graduating college she felt she should put her education to use and she began her teaching career at East Pecos Junior High.

"By the time I finished my first year of teaching I was hooked on the teaching profession," Betty said.

From teaching at East Pecos Junior High she moved to Pecos High School where she taught in the Business Department. Her teaching career has taken Betty to Big Bend National Park, Artesia, New Mexico, El Paso, Fort Davis and Vernon. She then returned to Pecos andhas taught here for the past nine years. Betty has experience teaching every grade from Kindergarten through the 12th grade.

"I have truly enjoyed teaching all the students I have had," Cook said. "I have taught, and amcurrentlyteaching, grandchildren of former students. I am proud of this fact."

For Betty, teaching is more than just going to class each day and preparing students for academics.

"I believe all the extras' are very important, too," she said. "I enjoy working with students asthey prepare to participate in UIL competition. I also enjoy watching my students and formerstudents participate in all the sporting events and music programs. I am very proud and pleased when I hear of achievements and successes in the lives of any former students."

Betty says that being a parent of one daughter and four sons kept her aware of the importance of strong academic participation and motivation.

"I feel strongly that encouragement, praise and support are a must for success and happiness in the lives of these young people," she said, "and I find myself wanting to encourage, praise and support my students."

All teachers carry a heavy responsibility, Betty said.

"My son gave me a coffee mug for Christmas that had the words `Teachers Touch the Future' inscribed on the side. That puts heavy responsibility on the shoulders of any one who chooses to spend each day with young people," she said.

This year Betty teaches Lamar Elementary sixth graders enrolled in an enhanced program.

"I am especially enjoying this year because I have the opportunity to spend each day with a special group of students," Betty said. "This group is a very bright, teachable group of young people. They are motivated by parents who encourage and insist that they do their best. This makes my job so much fun."

Students in the enhanced program must have scored in the top percentile on the TAAS test, be recommended for the program by their previous teacher and be requested by their parents for participation in the program, Betty said.

"Retirement was in the back of my mind this time last year" she said. "If I had retired, I would have missed this group of students, and I am so glad I did not miss being with these delightful young people."

While retirement from the Pecos school system may not be far away for Betty, she still plans to maintain a close relationship with youth. In her summers Betty works as the maitri d' in the dinning room of the Prude Guest Ranch.

"Being with young people is my hobby," she said. "For many summers I have worked among young people in an outdoor environment. I will be able to continue this association. I will be reminded that I still touch the future and I will always love to teach.

"I guess you could say teaching is my legacy and I am very proud of this legacy," Betty said.

County issues bonds for detention center

Enterprise Editor

PECOS, February 10, 1998 - Reeves County Commissioners, meeting in regular session yesterday, authorized issuance of $3,270,408 in revenue bonds to finance the new expansion of the Reeves County Detention Center.

These bonds will not be tax exempt due to an IRS ruling last year that limited tax exemptions to facilities used directly by governmental agencies and the result will be a higher interest rate on these new bonds.

Financial advisor Barry Friedman, who has helped the county will all bonds for the RCDC, said that if a credit enhancement firm agrees to insure the bonds, the interest rate could be 6.75 percent. But if not, the rate could be about 7.5 percent.

Freidman was optimistic about getting the insurance due to the good financial standing of Reeves County. However, the county does not have a credit rating because it has not borrowed money on the market in a number of years. The insurance could get the county a AAA rating.

Currently the county is paying variable rates for outstanding bonds of from 3.25 to 5 percent. Total debt on the RCDC as of Dec. 31, 1997 was $995,000 on a facility valued at $12 million before the expansion.

The bonds to be issued will not pay for all the expansion as the county will use RCDC reserve funds to pay for some items. The biggest portion of the expansion will be $2,084,000 for the day room expansion with more than $300,000 for new fire walls, $460,000 for a support building and the remainder for architect fees and contingencies.

The expansion is expected to increase capacity from slightly over 600 to almost 1,000 although daily population at the RCDC has been running well over 700. The increased population paid for by the Bureau of Prisons is expected to pay for the bonded indebtedness in a five to seven year period.

During the meeting, commissioners heard architect Lorraine Dailey report that the contractor is about 11 days behind schedule, including the eight days provided for rain delay, but expects to catch up in the near future with early delivery of some building materials.

The commissioners approved a partial payment to the contractor, Banes, of $150,188 for work through Jan. 30. They also approved a bid of $18,840 for 18 5-person column showers with Acorn fixtures by Winnelson of Midland. Purchase of the shower columns is pending approval by the Attorney General's office which is expected today.

Also approved was a construction materials testing contract with Trinity Company at a minimum cost of about $5,400 to ensure quality for the expansion project.

In other items, the commissioners approved taking bids on lighting for Martinez Field to be used by the high school for girls softball teams. They will talk to Texas-New Mexico Power about getting a licensed engineer to draw up plans at an anticipated cost of $1,000 to $2,000. The overall cost of the lights and poles has now been estimated at about $60,000. When the cost was thought to be about $30,000 the school system had agreed to pay half but it is not known if they will be able to go half of the $60,000.

In other action, commissioners approved early voting workers for the upcoming Democratic primary election with Nora Briceno as judge, Debbie Thomas as alternate and Alvessa Lozano as clerk. Other clerks helping out on ballots by mail are Amy Contreras and Cindy Bagley.

County Clerk Dianne O. Florez has set early voting to include Saturday, Feb. 21 at the courthouse from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at La Tienda Thriftway from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28. The offsite voting at La Tienda has been approved by the Justice Department.

Commissioners also approved detention of juvenile offenders for Crane and Reagan counties for $70 a day and gave easement under county roads 334 and 112 to Madera Valley Water Supply for lines from their new water field to an area just north of Verhalen under a new grant just received by the supply company.

Doyle Hopper was the only person to submit a proposal as a licensed Texas Real Estate Inspector to check the homes under an old housing rehabilitation grant that is now under investigation by the FBI. Hopper will charge $325 per house for checking the homes that were not completed according to plans.

All commissioners were present for the morning meeting except for Herman Tarin who was attending a school on safe communities in Corpus Christi.

Dr. W. J. Bang left after the morning recess due to being needed at the hospital. The meeting ended abruptly when Commissioner Bernardo Martinez reported shortly before 3 p.m. that he needed to go to complete paperwork to meet the 5 p.m. deadline for filing expense reports on his bid for re-election.

Farming water allotment increases 25 percent

Staff Writer

PECOS, February 10, 1998 - Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members raised the allotment of water to be released to area farmers for 1998 by 25 percent, while voting 4-3 to keep water fees at their current level during Monday's monthly board meeting.

The board was also given an update on the Malaga Bend salt removal project for general manager Jim Ed Miller, and on the Texas Water Development Board's plans for a 32-county regional water district, which would include the four counties within the Red Bluff District.

An increase in the amount of water in Red Bluff Lake and an improvement in the water's quality were cited as reasons for raising the water release from 30,000 acre/feet in 1997 to 40,000 this year. Board member Lloyd Goodrich said the lake currently has about 97,000 acre/feet of water and should be up to 100,000 acre/feet by March 1, when the first water release is scheduled.

Water releases downstream from Red Bluff Lake will continue through Nov. 15.

The improved water quality, due to more water flowing downstream from New Mexico, led the board to discuss raising the price of the water from $2.50 to $3 per acre/foot during last month's meeting. But the board decided, on a motion by Goodrich which was seconded by Manuel Lujan, Jr., to keep the $2.50 rate for this year.

Dick Slack and Charlotte Wilcox voted with Lujan and Goodrich, while board president Randall Hartman and members Jay Lee and Teresa Walker voted against the measure.

"I just think that if the water is better it's worth more," Walker said, while Miller said keeping the rate at $2.50 would mean only a $20,000 difference in fees. "It's not that big a deal," he said.

During general discussion, Miller told board members a contract mix-up will delay the signing of a agreement between the district, Sun West Salt Co. and the city of Carlsbad for the right to pump salt water from Malaga Bend into three artificial lakes, from which the salt would later be mined.

"Whoever made it up gave the wrong information to the lawyers. They put the well on Albert's (Wagner, Sun West's president) part and the pipeline on mine," Miller said. He explained that once the correct agreement was drawn up and signed, Red Bluff will still have to get a pumping permit from the State of New Mexico.

Miller and Pecos River Compact Commissioner Brad Newton also updated the board on the regional water district hearing last month in Midland. Newton said within the 32-county District F, which this area is likely to be placed in, "The Colorado River Water Authority is running the show." But he added their area in the eastern part of the district shouldn't be in conflict with the district's western sections.

"All you have to do is take your drought plan and put it in place, and they'll incorporate it into theirs," Newton said.

He also discussed the nominees for the 11-member board, which have yet to be announced. Several hundred names are on the list from District F, and over 4,000 people have been nominate for board positions statewide, Newton said.

Miller said he believed state water development board officials "already have got their (nominees) picked. A.B. Foster (Pecos Cantaloupe Co. owner) was asked to serve, but he declined." Miller said Foster cited his age as a reason for rejecting the appointment.

Newton also told the board the recent reports about the Pecos River pupfish being placed on the endangered species list were overblown, though he did suggest the district look for suitable new sites for the fish to live.

Newton said he believed the pupfish's habitat has been reduced to Screwbean Draw just south of Red Bluff Lake and in the Phelps gravel pit. Other pupfish habitats in the Pecos River have been taken over by the more aggressive sheepshead minnow, which has bred with the pupfish.

"I talked to (Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Gary) Garrett, and he said you can drop it (pupfish) into water as salty as Malaga Bend, then take it and drop it into fresh water and it shakes it off. It's metabolism changes, so they want to study it to see if it could lead to a cure for kidney dialysis," Newton said.

He said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be involved in a year-long process of doing research and talking with area residents about the situation before making any decision on whether or not to list the pupfish on the endangered species list, which could restrict use of Pecos River water.

"From what I hear, they can grow them anywhere," he said. "There's not any reason for them to be on the list. All you've got to do is find places for them to grow."

However, Goodrich said he doubted area farmers and ranchers would be willing at this time to offer new homes for the pupfish, due to its uncertain status. "Nobody's going to accept anything that's going to be on the endangered species list," he said.

Board members also voiced their complaints about a statement made recently by Hans Stuart of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Pecos River water was "salty and not good for irrigation."

In other action, the board approved January cash disbursements and accounts payable, as well as the audit report for fiscal 1997, which was reviewed during January's board meeting.

Routine traffic stop nets illegal aliens

PECOS, February 10, 1998 - A van stopped by Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies on Interstate 20 for driving erratically turned out to be transporting 21 illegal aliens, 19 of whom have been detained for illegal entry.

About 8 a.m. Sunday the Reeves County Sheriff's Department received a report that a maroon van was headed east out of Van Horn and driving erratically. The van was spotted at about 8:30 a.m. at mile marker eight and stopped at mile marker nine.

When the vehicle stopped, two U.S. citizens exited the van and were identified. After identifying the driver and front passenger, Reeves County Deputy Damon Compton, who made the stop, looked in the back of the van and saw "numerous people in the van," he said.

At that time, he said, he called dispatch and asked for U.S. Border Patrol assistance because he suspected that for that many people to be riding in the back of the van, the drivers must be transporting illegal aliens.

While Compton was waiting for backup from other deputies and the Border Patrol, the male citizen opened the sliding door to the van and spoke to the passengers, Compton said.

After the citizen spoke to the passengers, people started jumping out of the back of the van and running into the nearby pasture, Compton said. He counted 19 adults, one infant being carried by a woman and one child "about three or four years old" running from the van.

Compton then detained the two citizens and secured the scene until his backup arrived, he said. Within the next few hours, Compton said, 19 of the 21 suspected illegal aliens had been rounded up and taken into custody by the Border Patrol for illegal entry.

Also in detention are two U.S. citizens, Luis Carillo, 18 and Carmen Salazar, 19, both of El Paso, charged with transportation of illegal aliens.

Compton said that of the 19 alleged illegals already caught when he made his report, 18 were adults, and the nineteenth was the infant. A woman and the small child were still at large. Names of those taken into custody for illegal entry were not available as of press time.

Water line breaks on north side of town

PECOS, February 10, 1998 - Water to part of the north side of town was temporarily shut-off on Thursday when a fire hydrant line, located on the 900 block of Hickory, broke.

According to Water Superintendent Octavio Garcia, the valve that had to be turned off was located on north D St.

Consequently, those living to the north of D St. lost water for most of Thursday and part of Friday.

The water department made a temporary repair around 7 p.m. on Thursday and then went to Odessa for parts to correctly complete the repair.

Water was restored to the residents there around 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6.

PBT board meets Thursday

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District Board of Education will hold its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12 in the board room at 1304 South Park Street.

The school board will discuss or take action on several items, including: head football coach, Pecos High School Assistant Principal, engineer's solutions to PHS Building A roofing problems, interlocal agreement between P-B-T ISD and Reeves County for Martinez Field for softball, sale of foreclosed property at 3rd and Mesquite Streets, job descriptions for professionals, paraprofessionals, tax collector, selection of election judges, alternate judges, early voting ballot board judge and alternate and central counting officials, plan to attack the drug problem, textbook committee recommendations, 1997-98 budget amendments, budget calendar, selection of auditor, 1998-99 school calendar, professional personnel: assignments, resignations, transfers, changing date for March board meeting, and new contract forms.

Other agenda items are:

*Approval of minutes from Jan. 13 regular meeting;

*School employee volunteer firemen and EMT's;

*Notification of 1996-97 successful school awards;

*Closed session for discussing personnel and conferring with district's attorneys regarding pending litigation;

*Order school trustee election and appoint early voting clerk;

*Election calendar;

*Report on certified board training;

*Tax report;

*Depository securities report;

*Cafeteria report;

*List of commodities received;

*Payment of current bills and approval of financial report;

*Calendar of events;

*Request for items of next agenda;


Anita Macha

Anita McCutcheon Macha, 35, of Carlsbad, N.M., died Saturday, Feb. 7, 1998, at her home.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 12, at Blodgett Street Baptist Church with Pastor Gary Wolfe officiating. Burial will be in Carlsbad Cemetery.

Macha was born June 25, 1962, in El Paso. She graduated in 1984 with a B.A. degree from Sul Ross University, had been a teacher in Pecos, and was currently employed with Columbia Health Care in Carlsbad. Macha had lived in Carlsbad for six years and was a member of Blodgett Street Baptist Church.

Survivors include: her husband, David Macha of Carlsbad; two sons, Calem Frank and Phillip Burke Macha of Carlsbad; her parents, Claymon and Martha McCutcheon of Lubbock; two brothers, Gene McCutcheon of Tijeras, N.M. and Jackie McCutcheon of Lubbock; one sister, Carla Lewis of Plainview; her grandmother, Mildred Burke of Lubbock; and 14 nephews and nieces.

Denton-Funchess Funeral Home of Carlsbad is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, February 10, 1998 - High Monday, 70, low this morning, 47. Thunderstorms were firing up along and ahead of a cool front that stretched today across Texas - from Wichita Falls to Del Rio. A large portion of Central and Southeast Texas were under a severe thunderstorm watch until 10 a.m. today. The National Weather Service said the front would move into East Texas later in the day. East Texas had its share of inclement weather on Monday. Emergency sirens sounded in Longview when radar picked up a possible funnel cloud about 15 miles north of town. Authorities said the cloud was reported about five miles southwest of Lake O' the Pines and moving northeast at about 30 mph during the height of the storm. There were no reports of damage, and authorities said they had no indication the tornado had touched down. Showers and thunderstorms erupted rapidly early today over the northern parts of South Texas and the Hill Country. Pea-sized hail was reported near Del Rio, and golf ball-size hail was reported over the Hill Country. The weather service said the storms were being produced by a strong upper level disturbance and a Pacific cool front interacting with deep tropical moisture. Weather officials said low pressure would track along the Red River Valley today and push the cool front off the coast this afternoon. Occasional showers and thunderstorms were likely for much of the state today, the weather service said.

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