Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
February 24, 1999
Officials say they're ready to deal with problem
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, Feb. 24, 1999 -- Panelists who described their efforts to prepare
for the Year 2000 and related computer problems during a public meeting
Tuesday night at the Reeves County Civic Center said they will be ready
- if they have electricity.
Bruce Abbott, First United Methodist Church pastor, welcomed guests
on behalf of the sponsoring ministerial fellowship and introduced panelists.
Keith Nix, representing Texas-New Mexico Power Company, said his company
has upgraded computer systems and expect to be able to supply power with
little or no interruption.
Details are posted on their web site at www.tnpe.com and a hotline,
Telephones that would be critical in an emergency should continue to
work, said Jimmy Castro, area manager for GTE.
"Our office is Y2K compatible," he said. "We have been working since
last year to update our offices to digital. We are 100 percent digital
in this area."
Anyone needing additional information may access the company web site
at http://www.gte.com/y2k or telephone
Marsha at 972-507-1923, he said.
Danny Shelton, Southern Union Gas Co. manager, said that any risk that
natural gas cannot be delivered "lies upstream rather than internally.
Our gas delivery system is basically mechanical and is not time or date
sensitive and can be managed manually."
The company has upgraded to become Y2K compliant and has asked business
partners and vendors to describe their Y2K plans.
Contingency planning is being done in gas supply, electric power, telecommunications,
emergency services, customer service, transportation, information technology
and other areas as necessary, Shelton said.
But it was money that concerned most of those present, and Bill Oglesby
of Security State Bank and Garrett Timmins of First National Bank sought
to allay those fears.
Oglesby said banks started early to address the problems, with federal
examiners overseeing their efforts to upgrade.
He said an inventory identified all hardware and software, networks,
ATM and processing platforms.
"Besides information systems, environmental systems were assessed for
embedded microchips such as in security systems, elevators, vaults, heating
and cooling, telephones, fax machines, VCRs, insurance, and even the Time
and Temperature service," he said.
All systems have been tested or are in the process of being tested for
Y2K compliance, and will be completed by the end of the first quarter.
Timmins said he has run tests to determine if customers who receive
Social Security payments by direct deposit would be affected. None were.
He said the data processing software was the most critical element,
and that has been updated and tested. "If it fails, our contingency is
to manually post," he said.
Rudy Cruz of the Social Security Administration said their systems are
100 percent Y2K compliant, and they are working with the four entities
that deliver checks: Treasury, Federal Reserve, financial community and
the Postal Service.
The agency wants everyone on direct deposit by Year 2001, he said, but
there will be some exceptions.
"It not only saves money, but keeps people from stealing the check out
of your mailbox," he said. "Chicago is having a big problem with postal
people getting mugged because of Social Security checks."
Rey Carreon, area manager for the Texas Department of Human Services,
also is concerned with getting money to clients. All their computers will
be replaced over the coming months, he said.
"We depend on the power company and telephone," he said.
The Lone Star card is the primary means of providing benefits to clients,
and DHS is working with the contractor who operates the system, he said.
"He has contingency plans to make sure benefits are provided. If there
are any problems, we have our own plans."
Nursing home vendors are a concern, he said, and DHS is working with
them to ensure the health and safety of nursing home residents.
Richard Mathis, Reeves County Hospital finance director, said they are
also concerned for health and safety of patients and have given top priority
to upgrading equipment.
"We have lives in our hands," he said. "We depend on electricity, gas,
water and drug vendors."
Y2K is not a bad thing, he said, because it has provided an opportunity
for the staff to look at their systems and upgrade. He expects to have
all departments in compliance by September, 1999.
Steve McCormick, finance director for the city of Pecos, said water
will be available if electric power is available to pump it. And electricity
is needed to pump waste at lift stations to keep the sewer from backing
up into homes, he said.
"If we have electricity, we have water," he said.
But most systems the city has can be operated manually, and contingency
plans are in the making, including adding more generators to provide power
He said he has asked city and county leaders to form a task force to
work out contingency plans to provide emergency services in case systems
In a question-and-answer time, Emily Fernandes asked about the security
of stocks in the possession of a broker.
Oglesby said that brokers are regulated by the Securities and Exchange
Commission, "so they are on top of this also."
In a handout from Edward Jones broker Brandy Owen, the company said
they do expect disruptions, but that large companies that comprise the
backbone of the American economy seem to have their act together.
"There will be airport disruptions in some parts of the world, security
systems that lock workers out of a plant, banking account snafus or cash
registers at your local grocery store that shut down. Very likely," said
Alan F. Skrainka, chief market strategist.
"Problems more serious than this are also possible," he said. "But the
U.S. economy has overcome many obstacles over the past eight years. Investors
who bailed out because of Iraq, or Asia, or White House scandals now are
wishing they had more faith in the resiliency of the U.S. economy, and
the persistent growth in corporate profits that it has produced."
But he believes warnings of dire consequences may have alerted the public
so that more people will take the necessary action to avert serious trouble.
Oglesby said that the government is printing extra money for banks to
have on hand in case of a run on accounts before Jan. 1, 2000.
Timmins said that his bank will open, even if the staff has to work
by candle light.
"It is interesting the number one concern is money," said Ellen Weinacht.
"I suppose if we are freezing to death, we can burn up that money."
Grants, water field status on agenda for city council
PECOS, Feb. 24, 1999 -- Grants, water and waste are among items to be considered
Thursday by the Pecos City Council.
A public hearing on the Texas Community Development Program's available
grants for 1999 is on the 7:30 a.m. agenda, along with a proposed contract
with grant writer Valerie Cox.
Water wells and water fields is another topic, as is a committee recommendation
for a Type IV landfill.
Pecos Economic Development Corporation director Gari Ward is to give
the council an update on the status of that 4A sales tax entity.
Ward sent the council a copy of The Kiplinger Washington Newsletter
that outlines how various communities are attracting jobs. Included are
a regional approach, zeroing in on the needs of existing business, customized
worker training and encouraging young people to find jobs at home.
He said that PEDC is working with two industrial prospects and Odessa
Other agenda items include second reading of an amendment to the ordinance
creating an enterprise zone to attract industry; a proposal from M. Brad
Bennett Inc. for tax abatement; easement for medical office building on
Texas Street, and an amended ordinance regarding a Good Friday holiday.
Flu outbreak fills hospitals in W. Texas
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Feb. 24, 1999 -- Hospital across West Texas have been swamped
with paitents due to a flu outbreak in recent weeks, with some hospitals
being forced to turn people away after paitent counts reached their capacity
The problem hasn't been as severe in Pecos, although employees throughout
town have either called in sick or worked sick over the past two weeks
as the flu bug has been biting just about everyone.
Iris Rives, administrative assistant at Reeves County Hospital, said
today that the census has dropped some from the 20 that has been the norm
for the past two weeks. Most have pneumonia, dehydration or other complications
caused by the flu.
Reeves County normally has 10-12 patients, Rives said.
Ward Memorial Hospital has turned away patients "a couple" of times
over the past two weeks as their 35 beds were filled. Their normal census
runs from 2 to 22, said a hospital spokesman.
Kermit Memorial Hospital reported a census of 12 this morning.
Up in the Panhandle, Baptist St. Anthony's Health System and Northwest
Texas hospitals in Amarillo have been packed with patients in recent weeks.
NWTH spokeswoman Carey Mead said the hospital has been at high capacity
for "quite some time." Many surgeries have been scheduled at Northwest,
Mead said, but she wasn't sure why.
"I think it's the time of year when we typically see a high census .
. . a lot of respiratory problems and just illness due to cold, damp weather,"
Last week, BSA was at its maximum combined capacity of 450 patients
in its Baptist and St. Anthony campuses, BSA spokeswoman Mary Barlow told
the Amarillo Globe-News Monday. The Baptist campus had 347 patients last
"We still have patients waiting to be admitted to that campus, and we
chose to use part of the emergency room for patient care," Barlow said.
"That (using the ER for patient care) has lasted off and on for about three
No patients have been turned away or sent to another facility, Barlow
"Today our numbers were much more manageable," she said. "We are able
to take care of our patients."
Northwest closed off transfers from regional hospitals for a few hours
last week, Mead said. NWTH temporarily halted the transfers to ensure space
in the critical care unit for patients already in the ER.
The regional patients were rerouted to other hospitals, she said.
PHA's budget, CIAP update on board agenda
PECOS, Feb. 24, 1999 -- The Pecos Housing Authority will hold its regular
monthly meeting at 600 Meadowbrook Drive on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The meeting will include a resolution and approval of the Public Housing
Management Assessment Program (PHMAP) for fiscal year 1999 and the budget
for fiscal year 1999.
The PHA will discuss Housing of Urban Development information obtained
from Odessa as well as the Public Housing Funding Seminar to be held in
Lubbock on March 9.
In addition, board members will go over the CIAP 96 update and CIAP
98 update, which consists of reviewing/discussing specification for a new
maintenance truck and go over the PHA, CIAP 96, and CIAP 98 monthly income
and expense report, monthly accounts payable, and monthly occupancy report
as well as review/approve the minutes of the two previous meetings.
PECOS, Feb. 24, 1999 -- High Tuesday 75; low last night 32. Wednesday,
mostly sunny and warmer. High in the upper 70s. Southwest wind 10-15 mph.
Wednesday night and Thursday, partly cloudy. Low near 40. High in the upper
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise