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Thursday, December 9, 1999

Council discusses census, drought plan

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 9, 1999 - The Pecos City Council approved the first reading of a proposed Drought Contingency Plan this morning during the regularly scheduled meeting

"A drought plan is required by the state," Mayor Dot Stafford said.

Stafford said that the plan was drafted by Water Superintendent Octavio Garcia and City Attorney Scott Johnson. As proposed, it will be an ordinance and can be invoked by either the City Manager or the Utilities Director.

Under the prescribed conditions either could call the plan into effect to conserve water during a shortage.

As written the plan has five levels of response ranging from a "mild shortage" condition to "water rationing."

Restrictions under the plan's levels vary from restricted landscape watering to actual water rationing with commercial and residential consumers being limited to a set number of gallons per month.

For residential customers, the ration is set by the number of members in a household with a household of 1-2 persons allowed 6,000 gallons per month.

A household with 11 or more members would be allowed 11,000 gallons per month.

Anyone who violates the plan would be guilty of misdemeanor with a possible fine of $50-200. Violators will also be subject to a surcharge for the extra water used depending on how much water was used above the allowed amount.

The plan is on the agenda for comment and a second reading at the next scheduled city council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 a.m.

Charlene Wurtz with the U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census also addressed the council.

Wurtz, a Community Partnership Specialist with the Census Bureau, briefed the council on census efforts in Reeves County.

"The Census is very important to our individual communities," she said, explaining that many different types of state and federal funding, as well as government representation, are based on census figures.

"When people aren't counted then their community loses out," she said.

Wurtz also said that the Census figures in many other decisions that aren't as obvious, such as developers' decisions on where to build new housing, and what capacity new infrastructure to install, such as new water lines.

"There are two forms being distributed this year _ a long and a short form. Most people will receive the short form," she said.

The long form asks many questions that don't seem pertinent but really are, she said, such as the number of bathrooms in a household.

Again, she said, contractors and others use such information to make building and development decisions.

Wurtz emphasized that Census information is not available to other government agencies such as the IRS or the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"Nowhere does it ask for your social security number or your resident status," she said. "No one has to worry about any consequences from answering the census questions."

Wurtz also told the council that the Census Bureau would be hiring more than 100 temporary employees in Reeves County to help with the Census and that they were currently taking applications and giving the short aptitude test required for employment.

The temporary jobs pay up to $11.25 per hour and many will run for the first six months of 2000.

"We hope to begin hiring by January," she said.

Wurtz also spoke to the council about creating a Complete Count Committee in conjunction with Reeves County.

The committee would serve to assist the Bureau in getting a complete count of Reeves County citizens.

In other business the council voted unanimously to raise the annual salary for the Fire Chief to $10,700 from the current $9,600, and granted the City Secretary a 1.5 percent raise from the current salary of $19,144.

The council tabled the agenda item concerning the Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club Shooting Range and "Additional sections in the South Worsham Water Field."

The item will be taken up again at the Jan. 3 meeting of the council in open session, according to Mayor Dot Stafford.

No action was taken on the agenda item concerning possible litigation with Reeves County over water rates.

The council voted to schedule the next meeting for Dec. 21 at 7:30 a.m., two days earlier than scheduled, because of the upcoming Christmas holidays.

Border busts net 1,100 pounds of pot

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 9, 1999 - Agents with the Marfa Sector's Border Patrol office seized over 1,100 pounds of marijuana during a 24-hour period on Monday and Tuesday.

Agents of the Alpine Station, while conducting traffic observation duties in the early morning hours on Monday, seized 452 pounds of marijuana after they initiated a traffic stop on U.S. 385, south of Marathon.

According to the Marfa office, as the agents approached the 1992 Ford Explorer, they observed large burlap and nylon bundles in the rear of the vehicle, which were stacked to the roof.

A K-9 inspection was conducted, which resulted in the apprehension of the driver and passenger, for possession of marijuana.

The case was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency in Alpine.

Just after midnight on Tuesday, agents from the Presidio station were conducting traffic observation duties east of town when they seized 660 pounds of marijuana and arrested one person.

As the agent was conducting an immigration status check on the driver, his wife and their three children, the agent became suspicious after the man gave conflicting information.

A K-9 inspection was conducted which resulted in the seizure of the marijuana, which was concealed in hidden compartments of the 1992 Chevrolet Suburban.

The driver was placed under arrest and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency in Alpine.

Since Oct. 1, Marfa Sector Border Patrol has seized over 12,500 pounds of marijuana and over 2,600 pounds of cocaine, valued at over $94 million dollars.

"We will continue our vigilance along the Southwest border," said Chief Patrol Agent Simon Garza, Jr.

Area's tax rebate checks up sharply

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 9, 1999 - Steep drops in sales tax rebate totals for most area cities in November were offset by sharp increases in those same numbers this month, according to figures released today by State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office.

Almost every city in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos region reported double-digit jumps in their sales tax rebate checks this month, based on sales made during October of this year. Last month, those same numbers were down by 10 percent or more for nearly every town in the region.

However, the poor economy during the first half of 1999, due to the plunge last year in oil prices, meant tax rebates for all of 1999 were down overall in the Basin. Cities in the Big Bend region not as dependant on the oil industry joined the rest of Texas overall in reporting increases in their rebate checks for the year.

Pecos received $64,981 back from Rylander's office this month, a 13.94 percent rise from a year ago. However, the city's overall tax rebates for 1999, of $755,068, was 4.46 percent lower than in 1998.

Pecos' decline for the year, based on the city's 1½ cent sales tax, was lower than most other towns to the east, while the increase for the month lagged many of those same cities.

Andrews' rebate check of $73,098 was up over 49 percent from last year, but their overall collections still were down nearly 10 percent for 1999. Crane's rebate check was 23.27 percent higher for December, while dropping 15.28 percent for the year, and Monahans saw their rebate check jump over 40 percent to $75,869, though year-to-date figures fell 11.32 percent.

Balmorhea joined Pecos in reporting a sharp jump in their rebate check for the month but a decline for the year, while Toyah was the reverse _ down sharply in December but up overall by more than the 50 percent hike in the city's sales tax.

Balmorhea's check this month was $809, a 17.67 percent rise from last December. For all of 1999, the city got back $6,324, a drop of 26.85 percent. Toyah benefited in part from the ½-cent rise in their one cent sales tax last November. They got back just $218 this month from Austin, a 59.19 percent drop, but have gotten $13,623 in tax rebates for all of 1999, a 167.89 percent rise.

Odessa was the other area city to raise its sales tax rate during the past year, by ¼-cent, and it allowed the city to report a 2.10 percent rise in sales tax rebates for all of 1999.

For December, Odessa got back $1,063.908, a 19.48 percent increase, while Midland got back $1,018,135, a 16-37 percent jump, though its overall total was down 7.51 percent.

Alpine, the only area city not to see a drop in its November rebate check saw its December figure grow 28.41 percent, to $63,596.

Overall for 1999, Alpine's tax rebates were up six percent, while Marfa (3.23 percent), Presidio (11.68) and Van Horn (16.68) also saw their rebates increase over 1998.

Kermit was the only area city to see a drop in its December check, while that city's 12-month total was down 12.82 percent.

The Reeves County Hospital District also saw a decline for the month in its tax rebate check, based on the district's ½-cent sales tax.

The hospital got back $23,302 for the month, a 6.08 percent drop, and for the year, its total of $288,562 was down by 9.22 percent.

Statewide, Rylander's office said Texas cities got back $204,698,80 this month, a 26.41 percent increase over last year's total of $161,928,015.

For all of 1999, Rylander's office sent nearly $2.36 billion back to cities in Texas, up 7.18 percent from a $2.2 billion figure of a year ago.

Participation up for Christmas Parade

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 9, 1999 - Plans are going great for the annual Christmas Parade scheduled for 6 p.m., Friday.

Lineup will be at the Pecos High School parking lot, starting at 5 p.m., and parade entries will be accepted up until that time.

The theme for this year's event is `Christmas-Past, Present and Future.'

"We've had an excellent response," said Pecos Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera. "We have close to 20 or more floats that have signed up.".

Rivera said that if anyone wants to join the parade they can still do so.

"We always have some that don't sign up, or want to join at the last minute, so I'm sure we'll have more," he said.

The parade will run from the high school along Eddy and Third Streets, and will end at the Reeves County Courthouse, with the lighting of the courthouse.

In conjunction, Santa Claus will be at the Pecos Evening Optimist Club's Saragosa Hall giving out free candies to the children of the community, after the parade, beginning at 8 p.m., at the Hall, located at Sixth and Peach streets.

Post office plans extended hours

PECOS, Dec. 9, 1999 - The Pecos Post Office will extend its Saturday window hours for the next two weeks, while closing early on the Fridays before Christmas and New Year's Day.

Postmaster Ramona Sterling said the window will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday and on Saturday, Nov. 18. Normal window hours on Saturday is only from 9 a.m. to noon, she said. However, on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, the Post Office windows will close at noon, though Sterling added that all other services both those days would run on their normal schedules.


AUSTIN (AP) - No ticket correctly matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday night for the twice-weekly Lotto Texas game, state lottery officials said. The numbers drawn Wednesday night from a field of 50 were: 2-5-28-32-42-45. Saturday night's drawing will be worth an estimated $29 million.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 3-9-6 (three, nine, six)


James B. Exum

James B. Exum, 80, of Ruidoso, N.M., died Tuesday, Dec. 7, in Lubbock.

Visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 10, at LaGrone Funeral Home Chapel in Ruidoso, from 2-4 p.m.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 11, at the First Baptist Church in Ruidoso, with the Rev. Tim Gilliland officiating.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12, at Fairview Cemetery in Pecos, with Rev. Banky Stocks officiating.

Exum was born June 24, 1919, in Red River County, was retired from Texas and Pacific Railroad as a signal maintenance person and had moved to Ruidoso from Pecos 20 years ago. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Ruidoso where he was also a deacon.

He was preceded in death by one son, Weldon Exum.

Survivors include his wife, Vivian Nelson Exum of Ruidoso, N.M.; two daughters, Gail Jones of Crosbyton, and Sharon Mitchell of Pecos; three sons, Nelson Exum of San Francisco, Bob Exum of Kingwood, and Rickey Exum of Pecos; two sisters, Tommie Quarles and Carol Crain of LaGrange,; four granddaughters; two grandsons and one great granddaughter.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be made to the Building Fund at First Baptist Church or to the Bible program with Gideon's International.

LaGrone Funeral Chapel of Ruidoso, N.M. is in charge of arrangements.


High Wednesday 80. Low this morning 36. Forecast for tonight: Clear. Low in the mid 20s. Light and variable wind. Friday: Mostly sunny. High in the lower 60s. Southeast wind 10-15 mph. Friday night: Increasing cloudiness. Low in the lower 30s. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain late. High in the mid 50s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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