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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Feds drop plans to put evacuees in local housing

Staff Writer

Federal officials have informed Reeves County that no victims of hurricane Katrina will be sent to Pecos. But local officials who have been involved in planning for housing up to 45 families will now turn their efforts towards raising funds and getting donations of items relief workers said victims of the storm will need in the upcoming weeks.

Initial plans had called for several hundred refugees from the New Orleans area being housed in Reeves County, but that was later scaled down to 45 families at the Farm Labor Housing, when questions were raised about how well Pecos could handle other needs of the flood victims, such as transportation and medical services.

On Monday, Nancy Martinez, public information officer for the local relief effort, said they had been informed that none of the apartments in Pecos would be needed for the effort, though Reeves County Hospital has offered its dialysis facility to be part of the overall network of facilities providing help to patients evacuated from New Orleans. “The families are going where they have family or friends,” Martinez said. “Neither Pecos nor Fort Stockton are getting any.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials had planned to relocate flood victims into larger cities with more available services before using smaller towns. Martinez said local officials were told by the American Red Cross, some small West Texas communities did take in evacuees, including 86 in Midland, 15 in Odessa, four in Big Lake, and three each in Andrews and Snyder. Big Spring also housed about two dozen evacuees over Labor Day weekend.

Martinez said a trailer has been set up in the La Tienda Thriftway parking lot on South Eddy Street to accept donations, and will remain there through Sept. 23. The items sought by the Red Cross include bottled water, flashlights with batteries, cleaning supplies such as mops, brooms, bleach and floor cleaners; personal hygiene products such as soap, deodorant, toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste and tissues; trash bags, sunscreen and mosquito repellant.

In addition, local schools are setting up a competition to accept donations for the hurricane evacuees. Collections are being organized by students and teachers at the various campuses, which will be added to the items taken to the trailer in the La Tienda parking lot.

Martinez said volunteers are needed to help handle good received. Those interested should contact either Greer Willis at 448-11583 or Bernadette Ornelas at 448-3380. “An account has been set up at West Texas National Bank to accept monetary contributions for this effort,” Martinez said.

Pecos’ other bank, TransPecos Banks, is also collecting donations, along with the First National Bank of Monahans, which will go to the Salvation Army. Donations to Trans Pecos Bank can be sent to P.O. Box 2037, Pecos, Tx., 79772-2037 or to FNB in Monahans at P.O. Box 170, Monahans, Tx., 79756-0170.

Martinez said Reeves County Hospital has submitted its dialysis center to be on a list of those accepting patients whose facilities are no longer usable due to the evacuation caused by Katrina and a flooding that followed.

“Currently they can accept five patients with the staff in place,” she said. “If we receive some displaced dialysis staff from the affected areas, we can accept up to 35 more patients.”

She said added staff would be temporarily houses at the FLH apartments.

Martinez said County Judge Jimmy Galindo has offered to make a dump truck and front-end loader owned by the county available for recovery efforts in the New Orleans area. “Judge Galindo will send the equipment and the necessary manpower to the affected states in the near future,” she said.

Martinez said the relief effort group would hold another meeting on Wednesday to discuss their efforts, and to receive any updates on the situation from state and federal officials.

Council briefed on alley clean-up progress

Staff Writer

Town of Pecos City Council members were given a look at the before and after results of the city’s new alley clean-up program, during a slide show on Tuesday that was part of the council’s regular meeting at City Hall.

Utilities director Edgardo Madrid and Martin Arreguy, who is in charge of the clean-up effort, briefed the council on the program, which Madrid said has removed between 550 and 600 tones of solid waste from city alleys since it began.

“Twenty to 25 percent of the solid waste generated in the city they’re picking up in the alleys,” Madrid said. “They’re doing a very good job.”

The program began earlier this year using State of Arizona inmates from the Reeves County Detention Center III. However, after Arizona removed their low-risk inmates from the facility and replaced them with higher-risk prisoners, the city hired a three-person work crew for the program and appointed Arreguy as its supervisor.

“If we’re going to get any investment, or any tourism, we’re going to have to clean Pecos up,” said City manager Joseph Torres.

“I thought it was going to take a year, but I see we face a greater challenge day by day,” said Arreguy, who said crews have already removed 300 tires from the alleys on the north and east sides of town.

He told the council the crew is documenting all service calls, and is able to enforce the rules for maintaining alleys better since the city appointed Julio Quinones as code enforcement officer, who can issue citations for improper dumping in alleys once crews have cleaned up the area.

“Now that we have a new code enforcement officer to put some teeth in our bark, we’re very happy about that,” Arreguy said. He said Quinones already has issued tickets, but overall, they have seen few violations in the alleys that have been cleaned.

He said alleys cleaned up in the first stage of the program on the north side of Pecos are still in good shape, and showed the council pictures of the alley next to Martinez Street before and after the clean-up effort, along with a chart showing the alley clean-up plans.

“The way we’re doing the alleys is not hodge-podge,” said Arreguy, explaining they planned to do specific areas all at one time, instead of individual alleys around the city. “If we get one section clean, we can hold the public accountable.”

Arreguy said the city is still looking to get equipment to help with the alley clean-ups, and want to improve the maintenance program on the equipment, so that it would last 20 years instead of five to 10 years.

Torres said the city is in talks with Reeves County about sharing the cost of new equipment for clean-up efforts, which Arreguy said could be used by other departments. “If we get an interlocal agreement with the county, instead of duplicating equipment we can split it,” Torres said.

In other action last Thursday, the council agreed to renew a contract with Inmate Communications of Midland for an inmate phone agreement at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center. The current contract has been in effect since the CJC opened in 2002. “We had a $2,000 signing bonus with the contract and $2,000 in phone cards with the contract,” Police Chief Clay McKinney said. The phone cards will go to the police department, while Inmate Communications will also install between $20,000 and $25,000 of new equipment.

McKinney said the company would continue to own that equipment, while the contract would run for 29 months.

Council members also approved accounts payable totaling $2230,847, along with the monthly juvenile report and the minutes from the council’s late August meetings.

Commissioners fund RCDC I improvements

Staff Writer

Reeves County Commissioners approved a contract to make necessary improvements at the Reeves County Detention Center I was approved along with an agreement for the firm to look in to the construction of the Balmorhea Community Center.

Commissioners approved the contract with LMD Architects for the improvements to the oldest of the three units at the RCDC. County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo told the group that as the county moves into the next phase at the detention center these improvements will need to be made.

“This is something that has been on the back burner for some time,” said Galindo.

Tony Garcia, warden for Reeves County Detention Center I&II, which houses inmates under a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said that they have been having to put plastic bags to catch the condensation created by the air conditioners at the facility.

“This was one of the top items on the Bureau of Prisons list of things that need to be done, so we really need to do this quickly because our customer is asking us to,” said Garcia.

Garcia said that the situation was always worse in the wintertime.

“So it would be better to get it done before wintertime,” said Garcia.

Galindo said that the project manager, Lorraine Dailey, would take care of submitting the bids and taking care of all the necessary paperwork.

“This is nothing new to us,” said Galindo. Dailey and LMD have been involved in several RCDC projects over the past decade.

Galindo said that it would cost about $150,000 to replace the air conditioners. “The money will come out of the prison funds,” he said.

“This has been a high-priority item,” said Galindo.

Commissioners also approved a professional services contract with LMD Architects for redesign of the Balmorhea Community Center Project and construction administration.

“We left off with this project about 2 1/2 years ago,” said Galindo. “At that time, we were working with the construction of RCDC III and the Balmorhea gym and couldn’t handle this project,” he said.

Galindo said that the lowest bid that they had received at that time for the construction of the community center was $500,000.

“We want to take a look at that project again and see if we can do it at a lower amount,” he said.

Galindo said that they wanted to re-visit the proposal and use a pre-fabricated building and sheet metal on the exterior.

“We would like to bring it within budget, so that it can get done,” said Galindo. “Essentially, we would build it ourselves and hire crews,” he said.

Galindo said that they would like to revisit the project and see what can be done by changing the materials.

Galindo said that agreement with Dailey would be for $14,000.

“We have financed other big projects, like the bus at the RCDC,” said Galindo.

Galindo said that the prison bus was financed on a five-year period and that this would be the last year to pay for it.

“We could finance the center this way as well,” he said.

Balmorhea Mayor Ruben Fuentez said that the little community attracts about 250,000 tourists each year and that the center would be very beneficial.

“Whatever the court decides we will abide by the rules,” said Fuentez. “In terms of the local community it could be used for weddings, quinceaneras and other activities.”

He said that tourists could come in and use the internet and for other things, while they were visiting.

Pat Brijalba, a Balmorhea resident, said that the city really needed a community center for various reasons.

“It’s a dream of mine and it’s something that is really needed in Balmorhea,” said Brijalba.

He said that currently the residents use a bar as a meeting place and for other things. “But sometimes this is not appropriate.

“As volunteers we will do what we can,” Brijalba said.

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens told the group that he didn’t think this was a good idea at this time, referring to the financial problems the county got into following the completion of RCDC III in 2003. An inability to find prisoners for the 960-bed addition caused the county to deplete most of its reserve fund until signing a contract with the State of Arizona in February of 2004.

“Hopefully, we learned from our mistakes and not get to where we can’t get out of it again,” said Owens.

Owens said that he just didn’t think this was the time to obligate the county to this project.

“We don’t have a real guarantee as to what is going to happen at RCDC-III or that things will improve,” he said.

Owens said that they needed to get some funds back into the reserves. “We got out of the other situation through bond funds, but I don’t think we’ll be able to do it again,” he said. Galindo said that he appreciated Owens’ comments, but that they were not locking themselves into the project.

“We just want to revisit the project and see if it can be done,” said Galindo.

“We’ve made room for other expenses and hopefully, by the end of the year we’ll be in a better position,” said Galindo.

City’s sales tax rebates continue upward trend

Staff Writer

The sales tax rebate check for the Town of Pecos City was up for the seventh time in nine months in 2005, according to figures released this past Thursday by State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office.

Checks were sent out for September, based on sales made during July across Texas, and Pecos’ 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $71,434, and increase of 5.89 percent over September 2004, when the city received $67,457 back from Austin. The increase was below the average increase for the year, as through the first three-quarters of 2005, Pecos has gotten $651,252 in sales tax funds, up 8.21 percent from the $601,791 it had gotten for the first nine months of last year.

Out of the city’s September rebate check, one sixth of that total, or $11,905, goes towards operations of the Pecos Economic Development Corp.

While Pecos was up for the month and is up for the year, Balmorhea’s tax rebate check for September was up sharply from last year, but overall the city’s total is still down for 2005, while Toyah remains both down for the month and for the year as a whole compared with 2004.

Balmorhea got $2,471 back from the comptroller this month, a 166.79 percent increase over last September’s $926 check. But it’s year-to-date total of $13,391 is still down 10.22 percent from last year’s $14,917 number. Toyah’s check for $277 was a 24.85 percent drop from last year’s $369 check in September, and its overall total of $3,179 for 2005 is down 18.55 percent from the $3,903 it had received over the first nine months of 2004.

Most other area cities reported increases for the month, and are up overall for the year, as the increases oil and gas drilling in the Permian Basin has boosted most local economies. The area’s largest city, Midland, got $1.838 million from is 1 1/2-cent sales tax; while Odessa received a $1.278 million check back from Austin for its 1 1/4-cent sales tax. Among cities like Pecos levying a 1 1/2-cent tax rate, Alpine received $72,483, which was up 13.2 percent; Crane received a check for 34.632, up 44.2 percent; Lamesa received a check for $67,396, up 9.53 percent; and Seminole received a check for $71,541, up 28.52 percent.

Among cities with a 1-cent sales tax, Andrews received an $81,106 check, up 28.5 percent; Kermit received a $27,999 check, down 12.4 percent; Pyote received a check for $283, down 83.86 percent; Wickett received a check for $6,468, up 113.64 percent; and Wink received a check for $3,972, up 10.34 percent;

For cities with a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Marfa received $34,869 back from Austin, a 1 percent increase, while Van Horn received a $31,342 rebate check, up 11.25 percent. And for cities levying the maximum 2-cent local sales tax, Big Spring received $312,663, up 2.2 percent; Fort Stockton received $127,804, up 14.4 percent; Monahans received $80,524, down 1.8 percent, and Presidio received a check for $21,823, up 1.3 percent. The 1/2-cent sales tax levied across the county by the Reeves County Hospital District brought in $32,812 this month, which was 20.76 percent above last September’s $27,170 total. Overall, the hospital’s tax rebate check is still down 1.72 percent from a year ago. The district has gotten $270,618 in sales tax rebates so far in 2005 and had gotten $275,736 through the first nine months of 2004.

Statewide, the comptroller’s office sent out $244.6 million in checks to cities in counties last week, a 9.96 percent increase over last year. Houston’s heck for just over $30 million was the single largest check, and was up 9.76 percent, while Dallas had the second-largest check, at just over $14 million, which was down 1.43 percent.

Local competitors place in holiday biathlon

Odessa lawyer Dick Holland and Border Patrol agent Jeremy Schappell of Sanderson took home first-place trophies from last Sunday’s Run and Gun in the Sun - a local competition based on the Olympic biathlon event.

Holland won the light division while Schappell won the heavy division.

Local competitors R.C. Roberts and Randy Graham took second and third in the light division while Adrian Morely of Lovington, N.M. took second in the heavy class and Kent Spencer of Midland took third.

Former Pecos Enterprise reporter Brendan Briggs placed 8th in the heavy division. Larry Longoria, a committee member and competitor in the event, said that all runners run the same six-mile course and shoot similar courses of fire, but heavy division competitors are required to carry a total of 35 pounds of weight throughout the race while light division competitors carry their rifles and ammunition but no extra weight.

Heavy division competitors are also required to shoot two courses of fire using a pistol. “The main difference is the weight. The heavy competitor’s rifle and gear has to weigh at least 35 pounds,” Longoria said.

Longoria’s score on the first of the four ranges interspersed throughout the race earned him the “Top Gun” award for that part of the competition.

Sunday was Holland’s second time to compete in the event and first time to win it. “This is a great event. I had a great time and the course is always a challenge,” said Holland who is also competes in service rifle matches across the region.

Heavy division winner Schappell was one of 11 competitors competing in the race for the first time.

“I had a wonderful time and found it both challenging as well as fun,” Schappell said. Longoria said that 24 competitors from as far away as Phoenix, Arizona signed up for this year’s event which has been run annually since 2002.

“We lost a number of competitors to Hurricane Katrina,” Longoria said. “Many of our competitors are involved in emergency services or some kind or the National Guard and reserves. Still, this was our best year yet.”

Board votes to flush overbid for tennis court’s rest rooms

Staff Writer

A proposal for construction work at the Pecos High School tennis courts was rejected and the board updated on other projects during the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting held last Thursday.

The group met to discuss several items including tennis complex improvements, which centered on the addition of rest room facilities next to the Pecos High School field house. “The board received one proposal, which Monte (Hunter with Hunter Corral), said was way too high,” said Superintendent Ray Matthews.

The proposal came from Mid-Tex Construction and was for $191,922.

“We had thought that the proposal would come in at about $75,000-$100,000, but it was way too high,” said Matthews.

In his report, Hunter, said that it was their opinion that this is over-priced due to current bidding environment, with contractors finishing up summer work and fear of significant price increases due to future repairs from Hurricane Katrina

Hunter recommended the project be re-bid in November when bidding environment may be better.

He also reported that the Eagle Stadium artificial turf punch list was complete and the fire alarm system at the Pecos High School is complete except for punch list items.

The system has been tested and certified.

Roofing work is due to begin in late September or early October. Contractor plans to begin storing materials on site this week.

In other action, the board approved to allow 8th grade Pre-AP English to count as high school English I.

“Gail Box, who teaches that class is certified and the board agreed to let that class be counted as a freshman class,” said Matthews.

Members also discussed board operating procedures.

“They want to have a special meeting in October and mostly discuss some of the boards operating procedures, that will be up to the board,” said Matthews.

The board also wants to discuss short and long range goals. “That is coming up in October, they want to set some goals and discuss those then,” he said.

The group approved including all para-professionals working 240 days or more to receive paid holiday days. “There were some that were receiving paid holidays and some that weren’t,” said Matthews. “We just want to make sure they all receive paid holidays,” he said.

Board members approved the pee-wee football teams to use the Pecos High School football field and to waive all fees.

The league will be responsible for clean up after the games.

Skydivers one of events planned for homecoming activities

Special activities are planned throughout this week in preparation for Homecoming, this Friday at Eagle Stadium, while a special homecoming event is scheduled just before the start of Friday night’s game between the Pecos Eagles and Crane Golden Cranes. Three skydivers from Skydive-Eagles Nest out of Midland will parachute into the stadium with the game ball just prior to kickoff, according to Pecos Eagle Booster Club president Robbie Matthews. The skydivers will be wearing team jerseys and will be carrying a Pecos Eagle flag as part of their 10-second freefall and then parachute drop into the stadium for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Pecos High School student council “spirit committee” invites everyone to join in this year’s celebration. Those wanting to participate in the parade will receive an entry number.

The parade will begin at 5 p.m., Thursday, with line-up starting at 4 p.m., at Second and Eddy streets, and will travel south on Eddy, and then west on Walthall to Park Street, before ending in front of the high school.

The judges will be located at the end corner of Fairview Cemetery on South Eddy Street. The entries will be judged on originality, creativity, uniqueness and spirit. There will be a tailgate party starting at 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., at the PHS new gym parking lot.

Students are encouraged to dress up and support the Eagles by following the day’s theme. On Tuesday - Valentine’s Day - Peace, Love and Eagles. Crush the Cranes hearts and everyone is encouraged to wear red, white or pink.

Wednesday - Christmas - Help Santa and his elves, Wrap the Cranes. Dress up as a Christmas gift, elf, or wear red, green or white.

Thursday, Halloween - Scare the Cranes. Students wear orange, black, white or camouflage. Hats will be allowed.

Friday- Eagle Spirit. Wear purple and gold to support our Pecos Eagles.

Dress code will be enforced. Mo masks, fake swords, no fake blood is allowed on faces, clothes or body.

The 2005 Homecoming Exes Tea will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, at the Pecos High School New Gym foyer.

The event is sponsored by the Pecos High School National Honor Society.

Lamb returns from three-month deployment

Navy Airman Stephen Lamb, son of Sandy A. and James Lamb of Pecos, returned from a three-month deployment while assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan, homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Marines and Sailors in Lamb’s unit deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Lamb’s unit participated in a number of bilateral and mulitalateral theater security engagements that directly supported the war by strengthening enduring and emerging regional partnerships and increasing presence.

USS Saipan was involved in Exercise Adriatic Engagement with forces from Albania and Macedonia on Sazan Island off the coast of Albania, Saipan also took part in the 100th anniversary of Norway’s independence and the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in Portsmouth, England.

Amphibious assault ships like USS Saipan deploy throughout the world to maintain U.S. presence and provide rapid response in times of crisis. They equipped with the most versatile and powerful weapons available.

Lamb is a 2003 graduate of Pecos High School of Pecos, and joined the Navy in August 2003.

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