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Friday, August 13, 1999

P-B-T studying ways to cut facility costs

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- A brief proposal for Facility Value Assessment by Hunter Corral Associates was heard at the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting.

"Our preliminary analysis indicates we can improve facility value for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD," said Monte Hunter, who told the board the goal of his company is to reduce facility costs while maintaining State Board of Education minimum space standards.

Hunter had been contacted by P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love to look at consolidation in the future, saving money and long-term efforts.

"We begin with a comprehensive assessment of the site conditions, building materials, building systems, space, and educational adequacy," said Hunter. "We compare this information and other district needs against numerous benchmarks such as enrollment, maintenance, construction, funding, building utilization, staffing, space and operating costs, among other things," he said.

In addition to saving the school district money, the group provides the following tools for facility managing and planning: enrollment projections, prioritized facility improvement database, cost modeling of various facility options being considered, long term facility cost projections and funding plan, modification plan and computer database and training, according to Hunter.

"You pay us only if we demonstrate savings," said Hunter. "To earn our maximum fee of $25,000, we must demonstrate savings of at least $200,000," he said.

This fee is spread over a two-year period. All savings beyond $200,000 are retained by the district, according to Hunter.

The duration of the contract is for two years. Initial assessment and recommendations will be developed in approximately two months. It typically takes two years to implement changes and complete training, according to Hunter.

"Our goal is to reduce facility expenditures while providing adequate facilities," Hunter said. "Other districts have discovered that our services provide a clear facility direction and enhance community support of facility improvements."

"We do have money in the budget for consolidation," Love said.

"This comprehensive assessment study is made for studying that scenario, to add or replace campuses," said Hunter. "But this helps people understand why you're doing it."

Board members agreed to look at the proposal and possibly make a decision at the next board meeting.

The board also approved lowering the prescription co-pay on employee health insurance. At the last board meeting, due to cost-saving measures the co-pay was raised to $10 and $20. The amount was reduced back to $5 and $10.

"We had raised it because it would save from $46,000 to $47,000," said Love.

Extracurricular travel, student rules adjusted

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members dealt with several items pertaining directly to the students at Thursday evening's regular monthly meeting.

With school set to start Monday, board members approved the bus routes for 1999-2000; the number of times a student may be absent to participate in extracurricular activities and the Student Code of Conduct.

Director of Transportation Jimmy Dutchover presented the bus routes to the board and they were approved as presented. In conjunction, fuel bids for both leaded and diesel went to the current provider West Texas Gas Company.

The number of days a student may be absent to participate in extracurricular activities went up from 10 days to 15 days for the coming school year.

For the second year in a row, the five other schools in Pecos' district are between 175 and 220 miles away, and this year's extracurricular schedules will feature more mid-week trips to the El Paso area during the 1998-99 school year.

"As you can see, our student athletes who are members of more than one sport can use up their days very quickly," said Williams.

Williams said we must also take into consideration the amount of time spent for student/athletes who are also involved with band, UIL academics, and stock shows.

"These three groups are an important part of the total high school experience and to make a student choose which activity to attend is unfair," said Williams.

For example, band has marching contest in the fall, concert band, and solo and ensemble contests in the spring. The students involved with stock shows can miss several days if they are showing animals in Houston, San Antonio, El Paso or San Angelo.

"And of course, UIL academics will be competing for the most part on Saturday," said Williams. "But for district competition, they will have to travel to El Paso."

As educators, it would not be in our best interests to have a student choose between sport and UIL academic competition. "We must allow the student/athletes the opportunity to be involved with as many district championships as they choose," he said.

Williams said the faculty of P-B-T ISD have impressed upon students to be involved in as many activities as possible, but with the travel time to district games and the restriction of our current policy, he said the district is contradicting itself. "The total high school experience should allow involvement in as many activities as a student wants to participate," he said.

The board also approved the Student Code of Conduct, with several changes included in the revised version.

"We have received the district committee's blessing on this Student of Code of Conduct and are ready to present it for approval," said Pecos High School Principal Danny Rodriguez.

Some of the changes include, under "Behavior," second violation, "Teacher D-Hall will be assigned and contact with the parent by the teacher. The D-Hall and the parent contact will be documented using the same cumulative Conduct and Discipline report."

Third violation: "Teacher D-Hall will be assigned and contact with the parent by the teacher. The D-Hall and the parent contact will be documented using the same cumulative Conduct and Discipline report form."

Also under Behavior, a new addition will include, "Defacing of school property - including textbooks and/or library books, furniture, and other equipment - with graffiti or by other means, the consequence will be restitution and administrative discretion.

Stricter rules for alternative education assignment were also made for hazing, extortion, coercion or blackmail, fighting, committing physical abuse, or threatening physical abuse, scuffling. Items added were engaging in inappropriate verbal, physical, or sexual contact.

"Engaging in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment or sexual abuse whether the conduct is by word, gesture, or any other sexual conduct, including requests for sexual favors." Also, "Inappropriate or indecent exposure of a student's private body parts. Possessing or selling seeds or pieces of marijuana in more than a usable amount. Possessing, using, giving, or selling paraphernalia related to any prohibited substance. Possessing a paging device or cellular telephone. Possessing or using a laser pointer for other than an approved use."

"Using the Internet to threaten students, employees, or cause disruption to the educational program. Sending or posting messages that are abusive, obscene, sexually oriented, threatening, harassing, damaging to another's reputation, or illegal."

Parents and guardians are asked to look at the Student Code of Conduct carefully, according to Rodriguez.

Under Mandatory Removal to AEP by a principal or other appropriate administrator (on-campus offenses), "Engages in expellable conduct, if student is between six and ten years of age." The consequence will be AEP placement is a minimum of 88 class or school days. Credit will not be given toward AEP Placement for days served in Juvenile or adult Justice Placement.

The district also added a rule for extracurricular athletic participation, which requires students to clear any indebtedness with school before participating in extracurricular activities. "We're going to the limit with the law and asking the parents for their help," said Rodriguez.

Overnight fire damages Suavacito Club

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- Heavy fire damage to the Suavacito Club at Ninth and Cedar Streets early today forced its closing for at least two weeks, said owner Sandra Fierro.

Leaves from a tree in front of the club may have contributed to the fire, which started on the outside of the front wall and burned up into the attic, said fire marshal Jack Brookshire.

"There was pretty heavy damage inside the attic and a lot of smoke damage. I'm sure there was quite a bit of water damage," Brookshire said.

The Pecos Volunteer Fire Department received the call at 1:45 a.m., before the lounge closed, said Chief Roy Pena. He said the double roof on the old building hampered their fire-fighting efforts.

"After we got to it, we took care of it," he said. "Most of the damage was smoke."

Fierro said that electricity to an unused compressor at the front of the building could have sparked the fire.

"They had to take down the wall," she said. "There is quite a bit of damage."

Loss of power to refrigeration units containing beer and soft drinks will be covered by insurance, along with pool tables, juke box, a big-screen television and lighting system, she said.

"If the insurance people come in today, it will probably be at least two weeks by the time we clean everything up and re-do the whole thing," Fierro said.

Brookshire said he has not ruled whether the fire was intentionally set.

"There are a couple of possibilities," he said.

Creasy seeks assistance with theater work

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- Richard Creasy is alone in restoration efforts at the State Theater, since his wife, Lillian, began teaching school and partners Alan and Nan Zeman pulled out of the project.

I need financial support and volunteers that will be willing to use their talents for painting, cleaning, upholstery and plastering," Creasy said.

Help with plumbing and electrical work is also needed.

"I am trying to do everything myself, and physically I can't do it all," he said.

So many people have said they want the theater to open and to provide both movies and a stage for dramatic presentations, Creasy said.

"Instead of standing back and saying, `Yeah, we want to do it,' they need to get involved," he said. "I have had several people come down and help, but for the most part, it has been a slow-going process.

Creasy said he is working on some grant applications and has asked the city of Pecos and Pecos Economic Development Corp. for help, but it takes time to get funding.

In the meantime, cleanup is constant because the roof leaks, and every time it rains, more debris collects.

"I am trying to be there most of the time," Creasy said. Volunteers can call him at 445-7780 or just stop by when he is working.

Upholstery on 60 of the 900 seats is complete, Creasy said, and he has material for the remainder. He needs someone just to fold the fabric over the forms and staple it with an electric staple gun.

"It is a time-consuming process," he said.

Skilled workers are needed to plaster holes in the wall and patch cracks before painting can be done. Tile needs to be laid and carpenter work done, he said.

"I do a lot of plumbing and electrical work myself, but it would be helpful to have someone come in and turn on light switches or move something while I am up on the ladder," Creasy said. "A lot of it requires two people."

Creasy said he is moving the screen back about 30 inches and will add another six feet to make the stage about 15 feet deep and 40 feet wide - "a nice size for productions."

With stage lighting, Creasy feels the theater would serve for dramas, style shows, recitals, meetings and conventions.

"It is a multi-purpose venue," he said. "It is an extremely usable building. There are a lot of things it can be used for."

PHA receives $238,000 for day care rehab

Contributing Writer

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- Pecos Housing Authority was awarded $238,000 for CIAP renovation, board members were told during their regular monthly meeting Thursday evening.

The PHA plans to use the grant, which must be spent in three years, to start renovating their day care building beginning in October, said PHA executive director Nellie Gomez.

In a related matter, the board discussed their CIAP 98 project update.

Gomez said that 35 stoves and refrigerators are being installed in PHA apartments.

Gomez also said that the PHA landscaping will start August 15th and will be broken up into phases. "We won't be able to do it all at one time," she said.

In the Farm Labor Housing portion of the meeting, board members discussed the need to make the FLH projects PHA property, in order to qualify for CIAP renovation.

"The FLH is under HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development), but I would like to get it under the wing of the PHA," said board president Frank Perea.

Gomez told the board there are many vacant units in Farm Labor Housing. "I have 56 units and 35 are just sitting there," said Gomez. "The FLH is going in a hole."

Board member Ray Golden said that the structures are in good condition. "They're as good as any we've got," he said.

In other action, the board decided to convert some of their bank accounts into a Certificate of Deposit account for more interest.

The board also approved the PHA and FLH monthly reports.

City's rebates stable for month, year

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- Pecos' sales tax rebates for August and its rebates for all of 1999 are virtually unchanged from the same point last year not great news, but better than most other towns in the Permian Basin have fared this year.

The August sales tax rebate check from State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office was $80,290, up .9 percent from the $79,574 check received a year ago. But for the first nine months of 1999, Pecos' totals are off .8 percent from 1999, at $519,322, compared with $523,530 in 1998.

The rebate check, based on the city's 1 1/2 cent share of the state's 8 1/4 cent sales tax, came on sales made during June.

Toyah, which raised its sales tax 50 percent, from 1 to 1 1/2 cents, in the past year, was up by even more than that this month. The city got back a check for $2,513 from Rylander's office, up 391 percent from the $512 total in 1998. For the year, Toyah's rebate checks total $11,592, a jump of 258 3/4 percent from the first nine months of last year.

Balmorhea was also up for the month, but like Pecos, is down overall in 1999. The city got back $1,488 this month, up 14.05 percent from last August's $1,304 check. Overall though, the $4,311 total is down 31.25 percent from 1998.

Despite recent oil price increases, the slump that began in 1998 and continued through the first four months of this year continues to hurt sales in most cities in the Permian Basin.

Odessa was the only city east of Pecos to go against the trend. Its check for $1,270,869 was up 2.7 percent from last year. Meanwhile, Midland's check of $1,238,413 was a drop of 9.21 percent from 1998, and Andrews, Crane, Fort Stockton, Monahans and Wink all reported double-digit declines in their August rebate checks.

The Reeves County Hospital District's 1/2 sales tax netted 15.88 percent less money this month. The hospital got back $33,572 and for the first nine months of 1999, has received $206,624 back from Austin, a 5.16 percent decline.

State-wide, tax rebate checks were up 6.92 percent in August, to $251.9 million, Rylander's office said.

Council plans final revisions on new budget

PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- Town of Pecos City Council will hold a budget workshop at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall.

Final revisions of the proposed budget are to be considered, including payroll, sewer replacement and waste water treatment ponds.

The workshop is open to the public.


AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Thursday night:

Winning numbers drawn: 03-10-13-18-36. Matching five of five: None. Matching four of five: 242. Prize: $848.


AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Thursday by the Texas Lottery, in order:

9-0-6 (nine, zero, six)


PECOS, Aug. 13, 1999 -- High Thursday 106; low last night 75. Tonight, partly cloudy with a slight chance of evening showers and thunderstorms. Low around 70. East wind 5-15 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent. Saturday, partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms. High in the mid 90s. East wind 5-15 mph. Chance of rain less than 20 percent. Extended forecast, Saturday night, mostly clear. Low around 70. Sunday through Tuesday, mostly clear. Lows around 70. Highs in the upper 90s.

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