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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 12, 2005

New device expected to improve water flow measuring

Staff Writer

A new way to measure water flow along the Pecos River was demonstrated to Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members on Tuesday, during their regular monthly meeting in Pecos.

Board members were told the FlowTracker Doppler measuring device would give the district better readings on water flows along the river at the weir measuring sites between Red Bluff Lake and Imperial Reservoir.

“You would take measurements across the weir every two feet, read it in segments, and this thing comes up with the answer,” said Red Bluff Managing Director Randal Hartman.”

The acoustic Doppler velocity meter cost the district $7,570, and Hartman said U.S. Geological Survey officials already use the device for measuring purposes. “The USGS people in San Angelo said they use it all the time, and if we need any help they’d be glad to come out here,” Hartman said.

He said that while the current measuring systems may have been underreporting the amount of water traveling past the weirs at each of the diversion points along the Pecos River, the device wouldn’t be used to retroactively adjust the amount of money for water payments any of the seven sub-districts owes Red Bluff. “We’re not going to go back and start making adjustments as it goes,” he said.

The discussion of the device came before board members approved payment of the purchase and other purchases made during July. Accounts payable, the quarterly investment report and the district’s fund balance of $356,317 also were approved by members.

The July water report showed the lake level at Red Bluff was down about 17,000 acre/feet in July due to water releases downstream. The level at the end of the month was 96,146 acre/feet.

Hartman said a cutoff date for water releases hasn’t been set because some farmers along the Pecos River still have crops they want to water. He also told Ward County Water Irrigation District representative Ava Gerke that the charge for additional water sales above their allotment to that district would wait until the new water measuring readings were available.

The board also approved an updated water conservation plan, as mandated by the state. “It’s pretty much the same one we submitted in 1999, but just with updated numbers,” secretary Robin Prewit said of the report, originally done by HDR Engineering. “We have to send it to the state so they can have it on file.”

Red Bluff board, Thrasher discuss river woes

Staff Writer

Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members were given an update on several items by Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher during their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, including a planned meeting later this month in Fort Stockton to discuss the future status of the river in Texas.

Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster sent a letter out inviting Thrasher and Red Bluff members to the meeting, set for 9 a.m. on Aug. 23 at the Pecos County Civic Center. “The county judge wants to look at the health of the river,” Thrasher said. “He wants to do something about the health of the river all the way down to Amistad.”

He said Charles Hart with the Texas A&M Experiment Station in Fort Stockton and other A&M officials would be at the meeting to discuss water studies of the Pecos River, both in Texas and New Mexico. One of the problems involves salt levels entering Amistad Lake from the Pecos River, which Thrasher said could affect the quality of water supplies on the Rio Grande downstream.

“We need the state to help us come in with the state of New Mexico in dealing with the quality of the water,” he said. “This is a united effort. We need to get all of you to support this.”

Thrasher said part of the problem was the lack of power the water compacts have with state officials in Austin, and the lack of power the area’s elected officials have in general in the state legislature since Republicans gained the majority three years ago.

“Our representative Democrats, (Frank) Madla and (Pete) Gallego are about as far behind in the pecking order as you can go,” he said. “The other compacts face the same problems - not that their representatives are Democrats, but that they don’t understand the compacts.”

Thrasher said as a result, funds in the recent state budget for brush control along rivers was eliminated. “If (House Speaker and Midland Republican Tom) Craddick understood, we might get a little more help,” he said.

On a related topic, Thrasher and managing director Randal Hartman discussed new problems with the Malaga Bend salt alleviation project. Bryant Properties, the Chicago-based parent company of Loving Salt, has stopped work on pumping salt into man-made ponds from a salt spring at Malaga Bend, resulting in Red Bluff taking steps to pull the contract and give it to a new company.

Thrasher said there were problems with the first two ponds built by Loving Salt. “The first two ponds they didn’t line have got a lot of salt in them, but they have bank deterioration.”

Hartman said the section underneath the salt is stable, but that wind erosion was causing the embankments to deteriorate. But he added, “I don’t think that’s a real problem.”

He did say the situation over ownership of the salt ponds was a problem. While Red Bluff could pull the pumping rights, Bryant Properties still owns the ponds, and the salt inside can’t be removed until that situation is resolved.

“The longer we go, the more that new bunch is likely to lose interest in the project,” Thrasher said. He added that the suspension of pumping has caused salt levels to once again rise in the Pecos River, as water travels downstream into Red Bluff Lake.

“I think they (Bryant) have the money. I don’t know why they didn’t harvest,” Hartman said. “We came out on the bottom with them … all of a sudden they just quit, and the whole system had been working.”

Thrasher also told the board that New Mexico has a 17,200 acre/foot water credit with Texas right now, but that with lake levels at Santa Rosa, Sumner and Brantley lakes in New Mexico high due to rains since last year, “They’re going to have good surpluses in the upper two reservoirs, so they should give us some water in October.”

Madrid tells council members water projects almost complete

Work on the Town of Pecos City’s 3-million gallon water storage tanks is complete, and work should be finished by next Friday on the city’s east side water tower, council members were told on Thursday during their regular meeting at City Hall.

Utilities Director Edgardo Madrid updated the council on work on the water tanks, along with work on seal coating north side streets and installing handicapped ramps on downtown sidewalks.

Work began on refurbishing the two 3-million gallon tanks off Walthall Street two years ago. But work was suspended after holes were found in the floor of the first tank that was being cleaned and spray-painted. Madrid said work on the second tank was delayed until city crews could patch the rusted floor areas in the first tank, while an inspection of the second tank found no similar rusting problems.

“That tank is 100 percent complete. We’re just working on documents with the Texas Water Development Board,” Madrid said.

The elevated tank rehabilitation work is completed, but a runoff channel is still being built on the ground beneath the tank, in order to direct any water leaks away from the foundation..

Madrid said another water project, involving two new wells at the South Worsham water field, was delayed while the contractor worked on another job in the San Antonio area. “They’re working on the telemetry for the water wells now,” Madrid said. “They said within two to three weeks it will be completed.”

The seal coating work on the north side of town, east of Cedar Street, is 98 percent complete. Madrid said 33,500 square feet of asphalt was laid down, while city crews will have to go in and clean up loose rocks and patch the corners at the intersections.

Madrid had hoped to continue the program during the current budget year by paving streets west of Cedar, but said budget constraints may keep that work from being done this year.

The handicapped ramps are being carved out of sidewalks in the downtown area, on streets not taken care of in recent years by the Texas Department of Transportation. “I know we have to do this in the entire city, but we have to start somewhere,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll have the funds to do other areas.”

In other action, the council approved drawing up a lease agreement with Pecos Police Capt. Kelly Davis, who wants to establish a paintball field for local youths in the area around the former Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club range.

Davis wasn’t at Thursday’s meeting, but Madrid said the 70-by-125 yard area would contain no permanent shelters, and volunteers would be used to acquire the materials and do the work to set up the field.

Councilman Danny Rodriguez and city attorney Scott Johnson both voiced their concerns about liability issues, if the paintball facility was operated directly by the city. “That’s why I support a lease for anyone who wants to use the facility,” Johnson said. “As far as the use of municipal land, I feel we can do it. I just think we need to have a lease.”

Madrid said the paintball course would not affect the area sought for expansion of the Reeves County Golf Course, and would cover the area formerly used by the Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club. The club’s range was closed in June, over concerns that bullets being shot at the berm on the south side of the range were missing their target and landing on the property of the Pecos Municipal Airport.

During the discussion, councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela and councilman Michael Benavides said that although the range has been shut down, they have heard shots being fired in recent weeks, while they were at the golf course.

“We’ve had to remove several people because of that,” Police Chief Clay McKinney said. He told the council the Rifle Club had removed the gate from the range when they moved their equipment off site, so that as of now the range was open to anyone.

“I guess when the Rifle and Pistol Club was told to remove their stuff, they took it seriously,” Johnson said, while Madrid told the council city crews would put in a new gate at the range.

Rodriguez then made the motion to approve drawing up a lease agreement, with the amount of the lease to be determined later.

Feds OK test track rehab funds

Town of Pecos City Council members voted on Thursday to allow the Pecos Economic Development Corp. to oversee any requests for purchase of city-owned land, after tabling a request too purchase 50 acres of land on the southwest side of town for use as a water park.

Council members were also told by PEDC president Mike Burkholder that the corporation has received $1 million in federal funds to rehabilitate the former Smithers Transportation Testing Center track, for use by the Texas Transportation Institute. And they were told by city officials that another project located just to the east of the test track will now go through without threatening Pecos’ main water supply.

Burkholder said the $1 million for rehabilitation of the track, which has been closed for the past five years, was included in the $286.4 billion transportation bill signed on Wednesday by President Bush. The item was among 6,000 local projects included in the bill, and the money was part of $13 million that was designated for projects in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos areas of West Texas.

Burkholder added that the contract between the PEDC, Town of Pecos City and the Texas Transportation Foundation, a subsidiary of Texas A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute, has been finalized. The 50-year lease agreement with a 50-year renewal option was also signed by Applied Research Associates, an Albuquerque, N.M. company that will put $2 million of its own money into rehabilitating the 42-year-old track.

The PEDC, TTI and ARA are seeking an additional $12 million in federal funds over the next few years for a full rehabilitation of the nine-mile track. Burkholder credited Texas Sen. John Cornyn and TransPecos Banks Chairman Patrick Kennedy for getting the initial $1 million in funding included in the new transportation bill on short notice.

“There are no strings attached,” Burkholder said. “We can use it whatever way we want out there, but we’ll defer to TTI, because they have experience with things like this.” The decision to give PEDC oversight over land sale request came during the discussion of a request by Oscar Ortega to buy 50 acres in the West Airport Addition, located along Highway 17 south of Winkles Trucking. Ortega was not at Thursday morning’s meeting, and city utilities director Edgardo Madrid said, “We can discuss it, but I’d prefer he be here.”

“I think we need to see a business plan of some kind,” said councilman Frank Sanchez, while Burkholder told the council that due to the increase in economic activity in the area, the city needed to be careful about selling off property it owns.

“It’s come to my attention a considerable amount of real estate has been sold that appears to be ending up in strong hands,” he said. “I would caution the council to be careful in selling any of the land it owns, especially large blocks that can be used for speculative purposes.”

He called the sale of the old Ice House on South Elm Street last year by the city for tax purposes a mistake, since nothing has been done with the three-story building since the sale. “I had a perfect business that wanted to come in here to build oil tanks, and that building would have been perfect, since it already has a crane,” Burkholder said.

Town of Pecos city Main Street Director Tom Rivera noted that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on eminent domain would allow the city to condemn and seize property it recently sold for economic development purposes in order to generate more tax revenues, but Texas lawmakers and Gov. Rick Perry are currently trying to pass a bill limiting government's power to take private property in Texas.

Burkholder said the city probably could have gotten better use of another land sale along Interstate 20, that is part of the city’s Enterprise Zone, while adding that the PEDC is seeking to get access to land owned by the city west of Reeves County Hospital along Interstate 20, and to land owned by the Pecos Housing Authority along I-20 across from TransPecos Foods for future business use.

“If we can package it, we might be able to use it to attract some business,” he said. “We need to implement a plan … to have them screen any kind of request,” Sanchez said. “What Frank said makes sense,” said city attorney Scott Johnson. “We could look at this as a future policy.” Council members then voted to refer any requests to the city for land sales to the PEDC for review, while Madrid said his department is working on drawing up a map of properties owned by the city.

“We’ll try to keep updated on what we’re selling and try to implement a way of keeping track,” Madrid said.

Later in the meeting, Johnson told council members that a hearing examiner for the Texas Railroad Commission has ruled in favor of the city in their effort to keep Houston-based Enstor from using water from the Santa Rosa Aquifer to construct a 7.2 billion cubic foot high-deliverability salt cavern gas storage site on two sections of land in far eastern Reeves County.

The $65 million project by Enstor Waha Storage and Transportation, L.P. is expected to create about 125 construction jobs, according to the company. But city officials feared that the 200 million gallons of water Enstor plans to use to carve out the salt cavern would affect the city’s Worsham and South Worsham water fields.

“The Railroad Commission approved the permit, subject t the condition that they get water from an aquifer that doesn’t affect ours,” Johnson said. “Waha has 15 days from July 28 to appeal that.”

In its initial proposal Enstor said water could be pumped in from an alternative underground aquifer, the Capitan Reef, but that would require a longer pipeline along with a permit from the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District, which controls water usage at the Capitan Reef Aquifer site, located east of Coyanosa. Enstor’s Waha subsidiary has since entered talks with the district to acquire Capitan Reef water rights through the Middle Pecos District, where farmers in the Coyanosa area are also concerned use of the Santa Rosa Aquifer would affect the water they use for irrigation.

Warehouse removed from loan list

Any cotton put into storage in the Trans Pecos Gas Company, Inc. aka Trans Pecos Warehouse will not be eligible for CCC loans during the period this warehouse is removed from the list of warehouses approved by the Commodity Credit Corporation the Reeves County Farm Service Agency, said this week.

Removal action was taken by the Farm Service Agency Commodity Office at Kansas City, Mo. Such action was taken because warehouse operator has requested termination of the Cotton Storage Agreement. The warehouse will remain in removed status until all records are clear.

For additional information, contact the Reeves County Farm Service Agency at 1417 W. Third St. in Pecos.

Chamber seeks better support for beach party

A Hawaiian Beach Party is planned for next month and the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce is urging the community to participate in the fourth annual event, which will be at a different site this year.

The event has been held at West Texas National Bank in the past. But this year, the location will be moved to the courtyard of the West of the Pecos Museum.

“We will still sponsor it, but if we have a better turnout if it’s held at the museum, maybe we want to have it there instead of at the bank,” said board member John Grant, who talked to Chamber members about the event during the group’s monthly Board of Directors meeting held Tuesday at noon.

Grant said that attendance was down last year and that they would like to see more participation.

Businesses are asked to decorate in a Hawaiian theme and a reception is held in the evening for all those that would like to participate. The event is scheduled for the Friday before Labor Day in the courtyard of the museum.

Chamber members also approved using $3,000 to go towards the purchase of new Christmas lights for the city during their Tuesday meeting.

Venetta Seals had provided brochures on the lights at a previous meeting and said that they were having a special and the lights would need to be ordered before September. “We can get really good prices if we order by then,” said Seals.

Board members agreed to have the executive committee review the funds and to use up to $3,000 to purchase the lights if there is enough money in the general fund.

A new computer for the chamber office was also approved.

“Olga (Guebara, the former manager at Wal-Mart) had generously donated $1,000 to us for the purchase of a new computer before she left,” said chamber director Linda Gholson.

The group agreed to the purchase of the new computer and stipulated that it not cost more than the $1,000 that was donated.

Food trays for the incoming teachers will be provided by the chamber.

“This is something we did for the personnel last year and they really appreciated it,” said chamber president Jimmy Dutchover.

Dutchover said that they wanted to let the staff know that they are really appreciated and to show their support.

Dutchover also pointed out that one of the campuses in Pecos was rated as “Recognized” in the recent Texas Education Agency rankings.

“Austin Elementary received a recognized rating and all the other campuses in Pecos were rated as “acceptable,” we’re really excited about that,” said Dutchover.

Reeves County Detention Center III Warden Martin McDaniel talked about the Car Show held this past weekend at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“It was a success,” said McDaniel of the show, which was a fundraiser held to raise money for the Special Olympics.

The group has raised $14,000 towards the worthy cause already and their goal is to raise $20,000 for this year.

“We received a lot of free advertising, from Street Low Magazine,” said McDaniel. “If you missed the car show, you can see it on their web site.”

McDaniel said that they had a lot of people attend the inaugural event.

“Everything went really well and we can expand it for next year,” said McDaniel. “The magazine said that this was something we can really work on and expand it.”

Night in Old Pecos committee members will be meeting next Tuesday in the chamber office to discuss next year’s event.

“I know it seems really early to be discussing it, but we want to make it a bigger and better event,” said Debbie Thomas.

Thomas said that anybody interested in helping is welcome attend the meeting.

The Women’s Division hosted an EMT Appreciation Dinner and that their next project will be the Mother/Goose Parade scheduled in October.

City’s sales tax rebates continue 2005 increase

The sales tax rebate check for Pecos was up slightly this month, according to figures released Wednesday by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office. But the rebate numbers for the county’s other taxing entites weren’t as strong in the latest report from Austin.

The numbers were based on sales made during the month of June, and the city’s 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax brought in $87,242, which was up 3.64 percent from last year’s $84,171 total. Of that amount, one sixth, or $14,560, goes towards operations of the Pecos Economic Development Corp.

The increase in August’s check was the sixth in the first eight months of 2005, but was below the average monthly increase for the year. Through the first eight months of last year, Pecos had gotten $534,334 back in sales tax rebates, while this year the city has received $579,809.

Toyah also saw it’s tax rebate check for August improve over last year’s total, but for the year as a whole tax rebates are down there by double digits, as they are in Balmorhea, after its August rebate check dropped by nearly one-third from last year.

Balmorhea’s check for the month was $3,089, down 30.96 percent from the $4,475 it got from Austin a year ago. Overall for 2005, Balmorhea has received $10,920 in sales tax rebates on its 1 1/2-cent tax, down 21.94 percent from the $13,991 it received through August of 2004.

Toyah’s August check was for $558, which was 22.92 percent high than the $454 it had gotten last year. Overall, Toyah’s rebates on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax are down for 2005 by 17.89 percent, falling from $3,534 to $2,902.

The Reeves County Hospital District also saw its sales tax numbers drop in August, which put it into negative numbers for the year as a whole. The hospital took in $40,504 from its 1/2-cent sales tax in June, while June’s collections a year ago gave the district a $57,650 check. The 29.74 percent drop left the district down 4.18 percent for the year, with tax rebates in 2005 totalling $237,807 compared with $248,206 last year.

Tax rebate numbers were up in general for cities around the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos region. Odessa reported an 11.25 percent rise in its tax rebate check, from $1.59 million to $1.77 million on its 1 1/4-cent sales tax, while Midland’s 1 1/2-cent tax brought in $2.44 million, which was up 14.09 percent from the $2.14 million it received last August.

Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax, Andrews received $113,776 in August, which was up 31.48 percent over last year; Pyote received a check for $431, down 47.03 percent; Wickett’s check for $5,744 was up 53.5 percent; Kermit’s check for $36,358 was up 17.96 percent, and Wink’s check for $6,400 was 28.15 percent higher than a year ago. Among other cities with a 1 1/2-cent sales tax rate, Alpine received $82,269 in rebates, up 2.12 percent over last year; Crane received a $66,611 check, an increase of 76.52 percent; Lamesa received a check for $103,703, up 9.75 percent.

For cities with a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Van Horn received a $31,130 check, down 16.68 percent, and Marfa got an August check for $19,994, up 9.12 percent. Among the cities levying the maximum 2 cent sales tax, Big Spring collected $466,285, up 9.3 percent; Fort Stockton received $149,164, down 1.95 percent; Presidio received a check for $29,330, up 5.12 percent; Monahans received a check for $127,461, up 28.59 percent; and Grandfalls got back $6,486, an increase of 182.21 percent over last year.

Women’s healthcare and wellness forum held

Four members of The Modern Study Club of Pecos, including, president Lena Harpham, vice-president and Western District first vice president Catherine Travland, treasurer Betty Lee and Etta Bradley, joined other members of the Western District of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs and guests at the “Women’s Healthcare Wellness Forum” held Saturday, July 16, at the Grand Stage Room of the Music City Mall, Odessa. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), TFWC, Western District brought this event for the benefits of members and guests. Women’s Healthcare in the 21st Century is designated as a special project of Western District.

Doors opened at 10 a.m. for registration and fellowship. President Vongsavath gave a heartfelt welcome and stated the forum is intended to bring awareness and education on key health issues. She gratefully acknowledged Proctor & Gamble and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and the Music City Mall for the courtesies extended to Western District and especially to the two Medical Specialists in giving a timely presentation on today’s common health issues.

Sharon Fleming, Pharmaceutical Representative of Searle Division of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals provided two long tables and displayed a wide array of educational a wide array of educational materials, screening kit, and other promotional items which were given to every visitor. Scott Smith, Pharmaceutical Representative of Proctor & Gamble provided educational materials, the bountiful healthy snacks of fruit trays, muffins, juice, water, samples of Calcium tablets, fiber supplements and promotional items on two other tables. Catherine Travland, first vice-president, also displayed numerous GFWC/TFWC brochures, district yearbook and brochures, as well as souvenir items.

Scott Smith introduced Dr. B. Khandelwal, a rheumatologist. Dr. Khandelwal’s presentation on “Arthritis and Osteoporosis” in vivid colors. Be active and maintain a good weight, he cautioned women. Questions and answers followed. In appreciation, President Vongsavath presented a GFWC medal to Dr. Khandelwal.

Catherine Travland said Table Grace and lunch followed. The delicious lunch consisted of a variety of items from McAlister’s Deli, including fruit trays and special McAlister’s brewed teas.

After lunch, Dr. Ravi Medi, a psychiatrist, was introduced by Bryant Holloway, Pharmaceutical Representative of Park Davis Division of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Medi gave a profound presentation on “Depression.” Members got answers concerning being depressed in different ways. They were told to just remember, depression is treatable so get help.

In appreciation, president Vongsavath presented a GFWC medal to Dr. Medi.

Teresa Warrington, 2nd vice-president called on those present to give a brief presentation of their respective clubs.

After every club shared their programs and projects, everyone recited the club collect and forum adjourned at 3 p.m.

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) TFWC Western District covers 25 Texas counties, Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, Ector, El Paso, Glasscock, Howard, Hudspeth, Irion, Jeff Davis, Loving and Martin.

Tersero arrives for duty at Air Force Base

Air Force Airman Valerie M. Tersero has arrived for duty at Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Mo.

Tersero, a claims paralegal, is assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Judge Advocate Office. She is the daughter of Cindy A. Tersero of Yellowstone River Drive, Bakersfield, Calif. and Edward N. Tersero of Pecos.

In 2004, the airman graduated from Bakersfield High School.

Varela, Salinas announce wedding plans

Mr. and Mrs. Ray Varela announce the approaching marriage of their daughter, Belinda Varela to Ricky Salinas.

The bride-elect is the daughter of Ray and Cecilia Varela of Pecos. She is a 1995 Pecos High School graduate and is currently employed with Complex Community Federal Credit Union in Odessa.

The future groom is the son of Jimmy and Mary Salinas of Iraan. He is a graduate of Iraan High School and is currently employed with TxDOT of Odessa.

The couple will be married at 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Riverside Ballroom in Pecos.

The couple plans to reside in Odessa.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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