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

Top Stories

March 20, 1998

Local welfare rolls follow state trends

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 20, 1998 - While tax dollars spent on welfare
programs in Reeves County have been steadily increasing for
the past eight years, the value of food stamps dispersed in
the county has decreased, following a state-wide trend ,
according to figures from the Texas Department of Human
Services and the State Comptroller's office.

The cost of food stamps remains the largest category of
welfare dollars spent in Reeves County, but that amount has
been decreasing for the past eight years. In contrast, the
total amount of dollars being spent on the aged and disabled
has increased dramatically.

Records from the human services department indicate a mostly
steady increase in total welfare spending in the county from
$4.43 million in 1990 to $3.39 million in 1991 to $4.06
million in 1992 to $4.03 million in 1993 to $4.07 million in
1994 to $4.25 million in 1995 to $4.65 million in 1996 to
$4.96 million in 1997.

Food stamps worth $1.88 million were issued for fiscal year
1997 that ended August 31. That is the lowest dollar amount
for this category since 1990. In 1996 $2.29 million worth of
food stamps were issued compared to $2.49 million for 1995;
$2.47 million for 1994, $2.59 million for 1993, $2.65
million for 1992, $2.36 million for 1991 and $2.22 million
for 1990.

Food stamp programs are funded entirely by the federal
government, while the Texas Human Services Department
determines eligibility of applicants and issues the Lone
Star card in Texas instead of food coupons.

TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), through the
human services department, reached 554 Reeves County
recipients in 1997 for a total of $366,998, the lowest
dollar amount for the category since 1991.

Both the number and dollar amount of TANF assistance in
Reeves County have fluctuated during the past eight years,
with both decreasing in the last three years.

The Reeves County TANF total for 1990 was $366,752; 1991,
$352,620; 1992, $386,065.

In 1993, Reeves County TANF recipients totaled 571 who
received $378,466 in assistance. In 1994 the numbers were
650 for $434,543; 1995, 703 for $476,569; and 1996, 651 for

The state and federal governments share in the cost of TANF
to families where needy children are deprived of support
because of the absence or disability of one or both parents.

Long Term Care , through the human services department,
helped 65 clients in Reeves County nursing homes for a total
of $1,318,231 in 1997. Except for decreases in 1994 and
1995, both the number of clients and the amount of payments
to clients in nursing homes have increased in Reeves County
for the past eight years.

In 1990, $450,837 was spent to help clients in nursing
homes; $634, 911 in 1991; and $644,746 in 1992.

In 1993, 34 Reeves County nursing home clients received a
total of $615,503; in 1994 25 clients received $448,276; in
1995, 24 clients received $462,496; and in 1996, 41 clients

CCAD (Community Care for Aged and Disabled) assisted 240
Reeves County clients for a total of $1.4 million in 1997.
Both the number of Reeves County CCAD clients and the total
paid to them have steadily increased since 1994 when figures
for this category were first compiled.

In 1994 in Reeves County, 179 CCAD clients received
$725,358; 1995, 189 received $827,695; and in 1996, 239
clients received $1.11 million.

State Comptroller John Sharp reports that welfare rolls in
Texas are decreasing.

Nearly 1 million Texans have left the state's welfare rolls
in the past three years, according to State Comptroller John
Sharp. Sharp credits the robust Texas economy, the state's
historic welfare reform efforts, and the Lone Star card as
the principle reasons for the decline in the welfare roll.

"These declines prove that Texas is still leading the rest
of the nation toward true welfare reform," Sharp said. "Few
innovations in state government anywhere have worked as well
as the Lone Star card."

In January 1995, more than 2.6 million Texans received food
stamp benefits, totaling nearly $193 million. Three years
later, by January 1998, the number of Texans receiving food
stamps had dropped to 1.76 million, with a total value of
$125.5 million in benefits.

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program
also saw a drop in participants. In January 1995, more than
760,000 Texans received cash benefits totaling nearly $44
million. In January 1998, the number dropped to just under
500,000 clients receiving just over $27 million in benefits.
Approximately 80 percent of TANF clients also receive food
stamp benefits.

"We said from the beginning that the Lone Star card would
help clean up the welfare rolls and remove anyone who had no
business receiving taxpayer-funded benefits," Sharp said.

Sharp said the more than 30 percent drop in food stamp rolls
and similar decline in TANF participants during the past
three years is attributable to the state's growing economy
and other comprehensive welfare reform efforts, including
recommendations contained in Sharp's 1995 report A
Partnership For Independence. Sharp prepared the report at
the request of Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, who
shepherded its recommendations into law. "Now that the
reforms have been in place long enough for us to measure the
results, it's clear that our original hopes were more than
justified -a robust economy and welfare reform, including
the Lone Star card, has cut welfare rolls by 920,077 people
since 1995," Sharp said.

In January 1998, the economy, and welfare reform, including
the innovative electronic benefits system, which replaced
paper food stamp coupons and welfare checks, saved taxpayers
nearly$84 million in benefits when compared to the same
month three years ago, according to Sharp. In January 1995,
just under $237 million in benefits for both programs were
distributed. In January 1998, that figure dropped to nearly
$153 million.

"When I first proposed the Lone Star card back in 1991, nay
sayers such as Stanley Kreitman, the nation's's leading
manufacturer of food stamp paper coupons, said it wouldn't
work," Sharp said.

Kreitman mounted a campaign to stop the spread of the
electronic benefits transfer system -because of its
potential to affect his business, Sharp said. In 1993, Sharp
bestowed his Silver Snout Award on Kreitman, for "firmly
having his nose embedded in the public trough."

"Now, nearly 30 other states have their own version of the
Lone Star card, proving that you can't stop taxpayers from
implementing a good idea," Sharp said.

"There were other critics, too, who claimed we couldn't
improve the old paper coupon system, which was so vulnerable
to welfare cheats that it had become an alternate currency
on the black market. But we did -and cut the welfare rolls
at the same time.

"I don't hear any complaints now about the Lone Star card.
Do you?" Sharp asked.

In October, 1997, Texas Department of Human Services (DHS)
Commissioner Eric M. Bost announced the start of TEXAS
WORKS, a new statewide initiative to help thousands of
current and potential welfare recipients move into the

"TEXAS WORKS is an initiative that we hope will bury once
and for all the old culture of welfare dependency in our
state," Bost said.

Already in place in hundreds of DHS field offices, every
able-bodied adult will hear a clear and strong message, Bost
said, the message is work is always better than welfare.

"The message is we want each person to be self-sufficient so
they can enjoy the pride that come from supporting their own
family," he said. "The message is we at DHS will do all we
can to help families become self-sufficient, but adults must
also take the initiative to help themselves."

Under TEXAS WORKS, DHS is opening Resource Rooms in most of
the agency's 500 field offices, according to Bost. The rooms
contain computers with Internet access to job listings, job
search and interview technique tips, lists of available
child care and transportation and even the names of
organizations that provide work clothes.

DHS field staff, now known as Texas Works Advisors, will
also change the focus of their work from merely determining
eligibility to helping adults overcome barriers to
employment, according to Bost. The agency's employees will
also be encouraged to coordinate with a wide assortment of
community groups to provide support for welfare recipients
seeking work.

"TEXAS WORKS is the first of several steps we will take to
help needy families break their dependency on public
assistance programs," Bost said.

Commissioner Bost said he hopes that the long term benefit
of TEXAS WORKS will be felt by at least two generations.
Bost said he wants the children of current welfare
recipients to see their parents going to work each day and
realize that getting an education and a job is the real key
to success. Commissioner Bost said he wants adults to know
the pride and esteem that comes from earning a paycheck, and
every Texan to know that the old welfare system is dead once
and for all.

Enterprise starts rodeo chat room on Internet

PECOS, March 20, 1998 - Former Pecos and Balmorhea high
school students who plan to be in Pecos for the West of the
Pecos Rodeo and festivities July 4 can contact each other
through the Pecos Enterprise web site.

"We want to help returning exes to let each other know their
plans in advance, so they can plan get-togethers while they
are here," said Publisher Mac McKinnon.

Exes -and anyone else planning to attend the rodeo -can
access the Enterprise rodeo chat page at www.pecos.net/news.
Click on the "Pecos" link, then choose "Rodeo Chat" at the
top of the links on the Enterprise front page.

On the colorful rodeo page, you will find a form with blanks
for your e-mail address, name, city, state and phone number.
Click on the button to indicate whether you will attend the
rodeo and whether your class will have a reunion.

Then, in the text block, write something about yourself and
your plans for the week of the rodeo. Or if you can't
attend, let your friends know what you are doing.

We will post the replies at the bottom of the page so
everyone can see what their friends are doing and can

"I believe this will help everyone have a great time while
celebrating our nation's independence," said McKinnon. "We
are proud to have a part in reuniting former residents and
keeping them informed about what is happening in Pecos and
the surrounding area."

On Thursday, shortly after the page was launched, Ray
Fuentez of Midland responded. He's coming to the rodeo and
looking forward to seeing everyone and listening to Tejano

Tennis Association brings carnival to Pecos

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 20, 1998 - "Tennis like this has never been
seen before," claimed Texas Tennis Association
representative Luis Valdez enthusiasticly. And by the looks
the several hundred kindergarten through sixth-graders
running and playing all manner of tennis-inspired games
across the six tennis courts at Pecos High School,
surrounded by colorful balloons and loud music, it's just
possible he is right.

The tennis awareness program brought to Pecos yesterday is a
pilot program that Valdez hopes to bring into small West
Texas communities so that more children may be exposed to
tennis and understand what it is about. The goal of the
tennis carnival exercises, said Valdez, is to help young
people develop the motor skills necessary for tennis.

From the most rudimentary toss-and-catch ball games, to the
more elaborate Scrap-It-Up competitions, a non-traditional
game where "just as long as the ball is bouncing" it is
considered in play, as many as 400 children, according to
some coachs' estimates, explored the world of nylon-strung
rackets and furry green balls.

Valdez said that the Texas Tennis Association recently
devoted $3.4 million to its grass-roots effects, which
include tennis carnivals, field trips and school assemblies.

Pecos tennis team member, Erin Dominguez, was one of many
volunteers at the event, said she "didn't expect all these
kids to show up."

Lamar Middle School and Pecos High School Coach June
Blackwell said she estimated the crowd at 300-400.

Local FEMA board receives funds

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 20, 1998 - Agencies in the Pecos area could
benefit from federal funds awarded recently to Reeves County.

"Reeves County has been awarded federal funds under the
emergency food and shelter national board program," said
Bruce Dury.

Dury is chairperson for the local Federal Emergency
Management Agency, FEMA, and stated that the local FEMA
board has to get together to decide which local agencies
will benefit from these funds.

"We have been chosen to receive $10,355 to supplement
emergency food and shelter programs in the area," he said.

Any agency in the area that would like to, can apply for
these funds. "They must first meet the requirements," said

"We, as a board, look at all the agencies that apply for the
funds and decide who it will go to," he said.

The selection for Reeves County to receive these funds was
made by a National Board that is chaired by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and consists of
representatives from The Salvation Army, American Red Cross,
Council of Jewish Federations, Catholic Charities, USA,
National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and
United Way of America which will provide the administrative
staff and function as fiscal agent. The board was charged to
distribute funds appropriated by Congress to help expand the
capacity of food and shelter programs in high-need areas
around the country.

The local board is responsible for recommending agencies to
receive these funds and any additional funds available under
this phase of the program.

"We have four or five agencies in the past which have
benefited from this and we would like to put the word out,
that these funds are available if other agencies would like
to apply," said Dury.

Dury stated that these funds are available to agencies only,
not individuals.

Past recipients include Church of Christ in Pecos; Reeves
County, City of Toyah and City of Balmorhea/Saragosa.

Under the terms of the grant from the National Board, local
governmental or private voluntary organizations chosen to
receive funds must: be non profit; have an accounting system
and conduct an annual audit; practice nondiscrimination;
have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food
and/or shelter programs, and if they are a private voluntary
organization, they must have a voluntary board. Qualifying
organizations are urged to apply.

Lure of marijuana results in many indictments

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 20, 1998 - A young Pecos couple were among the
12 defendants named in federal indictments Thursday.

Eliza Romo Aguilar, 19, and Estanisloa Aguilar, 19, both of
602 Alberta, are charged with importing and possessing with
intent to distribute 24.2 pounds of marijuana. They were
arrested March 8 at the Presidio Port of Entry.

Others charged with importing and possessing with intent to
distribute marijuana are:

-Jesus Jose Salcido-Alvarado, 32, of Fort Worth, 61.6 pounds
on March 11;

-Blasa Gonzalez, 29, of Cicero, Ill., 64.5 pounds on March 5;

-Apolonia Ortega, 48, of Andrews, 64.7 pounds and 718.4
pounds. He was arrested March 8.

-Michael Brennand Seely, 19, of Austin, 59.8 pounds on Jan.
18, enhanced by carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking

Charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana

-Elsa Vasquez, 22, of Odessa, 91.16 pounds on March 11;

-Joanna Lee Cruz, 24, of Odessa, 132.04 pounds on March 7.

-Pedro Cuevas-Gonzalez, 27, of Odessa, 50 pounds on Feb. 27.

Mario Escobar-Robles, 23, of Guadalajara, Mex., and Eusebio
Gonzalez-Olivas, 37, of El Paso, are charged with illegal
entry after deportation.

Judge issues gag order in murder case

Staff Writer
PECOS, March 20, 1998 - No new details are forth coming on
the murder of 19-year-old Yvette Barraz of Muleshoe because
154th District Court Judge Felix Klein has issued a gag
order on the case.

When contacted at his office, Klein referred further
questions to Presidio County District Attorney Johnny
Atkinson, who has not been available for comment since
Thursday afternoon.

Barraz was reported missing by her family in Muleshoe at
about 8 a.m. Thursday of last week, and her body was found
in the back of her Mitsubishi car behind a store in Presidio
at about 1:30 a.m. last Friday.

The crime scene was secured by Texas Rangers for at least 13
hours, according to Presidio County Justice of the Peace
Daniel Bodine, who was finally allowed access to the scene
to pronounce Barraz dead at 2:45 p.m. Friday.

"They spent all day out there. They wanted to get a DPS
crime scene team in from Austin and they didn't want to let
me in," Bodine said.

Barraz's body was found by a Presidio County sheriff's
deputy. Chief deputy Rusty Taylor said that the young woman
"still had clothes on to some extent" when her body was
discovered and would not rule out the possibility of a
sexual assault. Bodine confirmed that some of Barraz's
clothing had been partially removed.

The young woman's ex-boyfriend, Gilberto Guadalupe Reyes,
24, is being sought for questioning about the murder, and is
believed to be in Mexico. Reyes was arrested last month on
suspicion of shooting at Barraz with a semi-automatic weapon
and was freed on $10,000 bond.

About four hours before Barraz was reported missing, Reyes
crossed into Mexico at the Presidio port of entry. Border
patrol agents were suspicious because he was crossing in the
middle of the night and there had been a rash of burglaries
in the area. Additionally, Reyes crossed the border on foot,
even though he was carrying a key to a Mitsubishi
automobile. The agents noted at the time that Reyes had
about $100 worth of nickels, dimes and quarters, Bodine
said. Authorities believe the money may have been tips that
Barraz had earned while working as a waitress.

Reyes was released from the border crossing checkpoint after
authorities found that there were no outstanding warrants on
him. According to an agent at the port of entry Thursday
afternoon, Reyes is not known to have tried to re-enter the
United States.

Cattlemen hold one-day clinic

RANKIN, March 20, 1998 - The Texas Agricultural Extension
offices in Upton, Reagan and Howard counties are hosting a
"West Texas Cattleman's Clinic -Hitting the Target in '98"
one-day meeting beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24.
The meeting will be held in the Park Building in Rankin

Dr. Charlie Hart, extension range specialist in Fort
Stockton, will present the morning's topics: "Getting the
Most Out of Your Grass," "Least-Cost Supplemental
Strategies," and "What are the Targets at Sale Time?" Other
topics of the day include, "Selecting and Using Breeds that
Work in West Texas" and "Getting Paid for What You Do."

For information and meal reservations, call Jerry Warren at
(915) 693-2313.

County commissioners meet Monday

PECOS, March 20, 1998 - Reeves County Commissioners will
meet at 10:15 a.m. Monday in the third floor courtroom of
the Reeves County Courthouse.

At that time, Commissioners will discuss or take action on:
the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative; sheriff's
department personnel salary adjustments; a resolution
supporting the John Ben Sheppard Public Leadership Student
Forum; an interlocal agreement between Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
ISD and the county for the use of the Martinez Baseball
Field; modification of #15 of the Reeves County Detention
Center statement of work; an interlocal participation
agreement between the county and the Texas Association of
Counties for the Property and Casualty Self Insurance Fund;
bylaws and plan of operation of the Texas Association of
Counties Property and Casualty Self Insurance Fund; reports
from county departments; budget amendments and line-item
transfers; personnel and salary changes (RCDC, County
Library, SO, JDC, contract Social Security); minutes from
previous meeting; and payment of semi-monthly bills.


PECOS, March 20, 1998 - High Thursday, 64, low this morning,
34. Clearing skies will bring a warming trend to all of
Texas on Saturday after another cold night across the state.
West Texas will have fair skies at night and mostly sunny
conditions tonight and Saturday. Lows tonight will be in the
30s and 40s in West Texas, highs Saturday will be in the 60s
and 70s over most of West Texas, ranging from the 50s in the
Panhandle to the 80s in the Big Bend area.

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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
e-mail news@pecos.net

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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise