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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Madla to meet local officials during stop

Staff Writer

State Sen. Frank Madla will be making a brief stop in Pecos on Tuesday to have breakfast with community leaders and to pay a visit with Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD officials.

Madla, D-San Antonio, has represented Reeves County and the surrounding area in the Texas Senate for the past decade, will be in Pecos along with staff members from Austin and Fort Stockton, as part of a swing through the area. He is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Old Mill BBQ on South Eddy Street with Pecos Mayor Dot Stafford, city manager Joseph Torres, police chief Clay McKinney, Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez and Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Dutchover.

At 10 a.m., Madla will meet with school officials in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD building. Superintendent Ray Matthews, P-B-T ISD school board members and Dutchover, who is the principal at the Lamar AEP, are scheduled to be in attendance at the meeting.

The bulk of the senator’s visit to the area was to consist of a visit to Ward County, where he arrived on Sunday and planned to spend all day Monday touring sites and holding meetings in Monahans, Wickett and Pyote. That included a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss school finance issues, and an afternoon meeting with officials of Texas-New Mexico rail, which operates a line from Monahans to Lovington, N.M., and are seeking to build a line from McCamey to Seagraves, to connect the South Orient rail line to Mexico through Presidio with rail lines in the Lubbock area.

P-B-T’s Thanksgiving meal altered due to gobbling adults

Staff Writer

Students in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD will be eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal this week, but with some changes in the menu as far as how many parents can share lunch with their children.

“Yes, we will be serving the traditional Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 17,” said P-B-T ISD Food Services Director Louis Villalobos, during the regular school board meeting held last Thursday.

Villalobos said that as far as the menu it had been changed to the traditional Thanksgiving meal, which originally was scheduled to be cut back to only turkey sandwiches this year because parents were abusing the rules for eating with their children on that day.

“As for the attendance we will have to stick to the rules,” he said.

Villalobos explained there were several reasons the group had decided that some changes needed to be made for the holiday meal.

“Austin Elementary has equipment that is 30 years old and the ladies at that school serve from 400-500 meals, but with the Thanksgiving meal, they’ll serve around 900,” said Villalobos, adding that due to the crowding, some students have ended up eating in their rooms in recent years.

“We want the parents to get involved, we’re not trying to ruin it, but it’s just getting out of hand,” he said.

Villalobos said that this was something that has been discussed for the past few years, not something new.

“These ladies work miracles, with aging equipment and everything they have to take care of,” said Villalobos. “But every year the Thanksgiving meal seems to get more and more out of hand.”

“That’s why we made the rules, that they can’t take a student from one campus to another and to limit the amount of people that can attend,” he said.

Villalobos also said that last week the district was shorted some food items. “Our provider was shorted groceries, mainly because of the fuel problem and then we were shorted the groceries, since then that problem has been corrected,” he said.

However, for the holiday meal the district ordered for plate count only for the holiday meal, with no extras.

“There is so much that gets discarded, this year, there will be no exceptions, only those parents that turned in the sign up sheet back will be allowed to eat with their student,” said Villalobos. “The reason for this is that we ordered by plate count.”

He said he had been asked why leftovers couldn’t be donated to the Christian Home. “We can’t do that, because it’s against the state law, as well as taking plates out.”

Last year a local business actually wanted to order 27 plates to go. “That’s against the law also, you can’t take the food out,” he said.

“On that day, do you follow the same lunch schedule?” asked board member Paul Deishler.

“No, we have to move everybody back and some still have to move to the classrooms,” said Austin Elementary School Principal Cindy Duke.

“Now that the menu has been changed are you selling tickets?” asked board member Crissy Martinez.

“No, there’s no way we can accommodate anyone else,” said Villalobos.

Martinez said that a lot of people were under the impression that the meal would be turkey sandwiches only and that now that they knew it would be the traditional meal, they might want to eat with their child.

“We planned for this menu on Monday and ordered the exact plate count, so no we are not selling tickets and can’t accommodate anyone else,” said Villalobos. “They are welcome to wait and see if there is enough or anything left over.”

Villalobos said that they had ordered by plate count and included all the students, teachers and those individuals that had turned in the form on time saying that they wanted to eat at the school.

“We’re trying to get control of the situation, which was really getting out of hand,” said Villalobos. “We’re trying to save some money, not throw so much food away,” he said.

Villalobos said that the Crockett and high school doesn’t have that problem, they only have 10 that want to eat at high school and 18 at junior high as opposed to the 900 that will be fed at Austin.

“The ladies at Austin have to start cooking two days ahead to keep up and have the lunch ready,” he said. “We also had people brining in other people to eat at the cafeteria, because the meal is cheap, or people buying tickets and then not using all of them, which meant us throwing food away,” he said.

Villalobos said that the meal is mainly for the students and not the community.

Council OKs added landfill hours

Staff Writer

Town of Pecos City Council members opted to maintain Saturday afternoon hours at the city landfill for the foreseeable future, while asking city officials to find a way to publicize those hours to the public better and reduce the city’s cost caused by overtime pay to landfill workers.

The landfill was among a number of items discussed by the council during their regular meeting Wednesday morning at City Hall. While tabling several items, including two grant applications through the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The council voted three months ago to extend Saturday landfill hours from 8 a.m. to 12 noon to 5 p.m. for a test period, in order to make it easier for people on the weekend to move trash to the landfill. Martin Arreguy, who has been promoted to general foreman for the city, presented council members with a graph showing Saturday usage in the past three months, along with the time of day people arrived at the landfill.

Arreguy said on average the number of landfill users has only gone up slightly on Saturday with the longer hours, from 2.8 to 3.53 persons, and those using the landfill still are concentrated in the morning hours.

“Duncan Disposal drops a couple of loads every Saturday, so we have to stay open,” Arreguy said. He said a worker on regular hours handles the morning period, while the afternoon hours are currently part of overtime pay. If that was made permanent, City Manager Joseph Torres said that would boost the city’s costs by about $4,800 a year, with $4,260 of that due to salary.

“If we’re going to extend these hours, we need to make it clear to the public we’re open those hours,” Arreguy said. “Otherwise, we’re going to have someone out there watching television and reading newspapers.”

“It would be a benefit for cleaning up Pecos,” councilman Danny Rodriguez said of the longer hours. “If we want to clean it up, we have to open it.”

“I feel like the public is not fully aware,” said councilman Frank Sanchez. He asked city officials to publicize the extended hours on Spanish language radio shows, while Mayor Dot Stafford said the information should be added to city water bills.

On the pay situation, councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela asked it the city could change workers hours, moving weekday hours to the weekend to avoid overtime charges.

“We can split shifts,” Arreguy said, while Torres added any changes would have to be approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Madrid said he would try to have a proposal for changing work hours ready by the next council meeting, on Nov. 21. The grant applications tabled were for Alfredo’s Restaurant and Trans-Pecos Foods, and were being sought through the Texas Community Development Program’s Texas Capital Fund, which is part of the Texas Department of Agriculture. Alfredo’s owner Al Gomez was seeking funds to relocate and expand his restaurant from 10th and Cedar Streets to downtown ,at Third and Oak streets, while the Trans-Pecos Foods grant would be for connecting the plant’s wastewater line to the city’s sewer system.

Madrid said Gomez was seeking a delay in his application, while Trans-Pecos Foods opted not to seek the TCDA grant.

“Alfredo decided if he could wait and apply during the next cycle, in March,” Madrid said. “The deadline is December 2 for this cycle, but for personal reason he wanted to put it off.”

Madrid said Gomez’ application originally was submitted to the state in September, but was withdrawn due to the lack of all required paperwork.

“When we submitted the application it ranked No. 1 in the state, but there were some documents he needed to fulfill,” Madrid said. “When we resubmit the application, the number of points he received will be the same, but it will just depend on what else is submitted to see if he’s No. 1 again.”

Gomez said on Friday that the concern was over the required matching funds for the grant, which would require him to secure a line of credit before receiving the matching state funds. Gomez originally talked to the council about seeking a $500,000 loan grant at zero percent interest, which would be reimbursed through the city. Madrid said the new grant was only for $389,000, “and we’re talking about getting it lower.”

Gomez said on Friday that while the next available application period would be in March of 2006, he may wait until the fall of next year before reapplying for the TCDP grant.

On the Trans-Pecos Foods grant, which would connect the processing plant into the city’s sewer, Madrid said company officials had talked with him and grant writer Carlos Colina-Vargas about getting a TCDP loan. “But when they saw all the paperwork they didn’t want to go that route.”

He said the company would fund the work themselves, and they were hopeful the project would be finished in about two months.

Also tabled was a decision on extending the current bank depository contract with TransPecos Bank. Contreras was seeking a two-year extension on the current agreement with the bank. “We have a good working relationship and we’d like to continue it until we legally have to rebid,” he said.

Contreras explained that the current contract with TransPecos Banks was a two-year deal, but state law allows for depository contracts for five years without re-bidding. City attorney Scott Johnson said he wanted to look at the wording of the original two-year deal before he approved any no-bid extension.

“Statutorily, we’re fine with the extension. I just wanted to see how we got into it,” he said of the deal.

“I’d like to check it out,” said council member Danny Rodriguez. “We want to be fair to everybody.”

Council members then tabled the item until the next meeting.

City’s November rebate check shows slight decline

Sales tax receipts for the Town of Pecos City were down in September, resulting in a lower rebate check being sent out this week to the city from Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office. But the city’s tax receipts remain up nine percent overall for 2005. November’s rebate check for $76,504 was down 3.12 percent from last year’s $78,975, based on the city’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax. Out of that total, one-sixth, or $12,751, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp for their operations. Overall for 2005, this month’s check pushed the city’s sales tax rebate total to $809,647 for the year, compared with $742,856 for the first 11 months of last year.

While Pecos showed a slight decline for the month but it up for the year, Toyah showed a slight increase in their November rebate check and Balmorhea’s total was up nearly 40 percent. But both cities remain down overall for 2005. Toyah’s $487 check was u 2.39 percent from last year’s $476, but the year-to-date total of $4,077 remains down 22.38 percent from last year’s $5,253. Balmorhea’s $1,503 check was up 39.72 percent from last November’s $1,076, while overall, the 11-month total of $16,033 is still down 5.25 percent from last year’s $16,923.

Area-wide, November’s sales tax rebates were also mixed, according to the figures released by Strayhorn’s office.

Midland’s check for $2.42 million on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax was up just over 8 percent from last year’s $2.24 million, while Odessa’s $1.68 million check on its 1 1/4-cent sales tax was down 4.45 percent from last November’s check of $1.75 million.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received $81,859 from Austin, up 6.6 percent from a year ago; Crane received a check for $45,414, up 13.1 percent from last year; Lamesa got $96,762 back from the comptroller’s office, which was up 7.3 percent; and Seminole received a check for $69,878, which was up 8.95 percent.

Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $44,006 in their rebate check, up 30.76 percent; Pyote received a check for $2,071, which was 265.6 percent above last November’s check for $567; Wickett received a $4,944 check from Austin, up 55.2 percent; and Wink received a check for $4,117, which was up 7.9 percent.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews’ check for $93,316 was down 4.7 percent from last year; Marfa got a check for $17,713, which was 12.2 percent above last year; and Van Horn received a check for $30,879, which was up 17.9 percent from a year ago.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $447,905, an increase of 7.3 percent; Fort Stockton received $140,287, up 22.67 percent; Monahans received a check for $66,722, which was down 17.3 percent; Grandfalls got a 42,252 check, down 22 percent; and Presidio received $28,978, up 6.23 percent.

The Reeves County Hospital District joined Balmorhea in seeing a sharp rise in their November tax rebate check, which allowed the hospital to show an overall rise in rebates for the full year. The hospital’s 1/2-cent sales tax brought them $38,656 this month, up 23.6 percent from last year’s $31,376. The increase of over $7,000 moved the district’s year-to-date total to $342,866, up 2.25 percent from last year’s $335,302.

Red Bluff balks at cost of water monitoring devices

Staff Writer

Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members were cool to a request to fund new water monitoring equipment for the Pecos River, during their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday in Pecos, while awaiting a final agreement on a new contract to remove salt from the river at Malaga Bend.

Alan Zeman of Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2, and Michael McCulloch, an Odessa veterinarian who owns land in two of Red Bluff’s sub-districts, made the request to install new monitoring equipment that would gauge levels of pesticides and other foreign items in the Pecos as it enters Texas from New Mexico.

Managing director Randal Hartman said the request was made after the U.S. Geological Survey declined to fund in the installation and operation of the monitors. He said Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher had been contacted about the monitors, and would probably be talking to board members individually about the situation.

“Someone is pushing the thing that they’re sending us bad water, but that is not the case,” Hartman said.

“I thought the EPA was checking for all those silly fish down there to see if the fish are OK,” said board member Ava Gerkhe, referring to several small fish in the Pecos River in both Texas and New Mexico that fall under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Hartman said the USGS occasionally takes samples right now on the river to check on any chemicals or other items in the water, and that the district gets reports from Austin on any EPA surveys or other environmental matters involving the Pecos River.

He said cost of the monitors annually would be between $20,000 and $30,000 if they were put in place.

“I don’t see the reason to do it,” Hartman said. “We’re still going to get the same water quality. I don’t know what they’d test it for.”

“I can’t see them sending anything terrible to us,” he said. “Up there, almost none of the runoff does go back to the river. Their water costs are too much.”

Earlier in the meeting, Hartman said it probably would not be feasible to fulfill a request by McCullough for 1,500 acre/feet of water, due to the time of the year and the fact that Ward County Water Irrigation District No. 1 only has 800 acre/feet of water left in its 2005 allotment.

“If he can get 880 acre/feet from people not using it before we make another allotment, it would be better,” Hartman said.

On the Malaga Bend salt alleviation project, Hartman said the district and the company seeking to take over operations from Loving Salt Co., were at odds right now on the terms of a new contract. The district signed the original deal with Loving Salt to mine ponds built by the company next to Malaga Bend, after the district secured a permit from the State of New Mexico to pump salt spring water into the ponds and away from the Pecos River. Loving Salt ran into problems initially over a lack of liners in the salt ponds, and then ceased operation at the start of the year pending the sale of the company.

In other action, members approved a contract for $3,000 with Randy Graham to conduct the district’s 2005 audit. Hartman said the contract was similar to previous years, but the cost was up $100 from the 2004 audit contract.

The board noted during a review of accounts payable that the October gasoline bill for the district was nearly $1,500. “Next month it will be $1,400,” said board member Jay Lee, who noted the lower prices wouldn’t offset the cost of getting the fuel to the lake. “It won’t be too cheap getting anything delivered to Red Bluff Lake.’

During the discussion on receipts during October, Hartman noted that the royalty check from Shenandoah Petroleum represented two-thirds of the district’s $23,952 total, and that the company’s new owners, TNT Engineering, were sending the district an even larger royalty check for November, based on wells drilled on Red Bluff property.

“Next month will be up another $10,000,” said Hartman.

“I’m glad somebody’s getting something out of that $3 gasoline,” added board member Richard C. Slack.

Christian Home seeking holiday food donations

Staff Writer

Turkey and dressing are still needed to help fill the needs of the Pecos Christian Home, which will be preparing meals for over 600 individuals next week.

“We’re still in need of turkey and dressing,” said Kenneth Winkles, Christian Home Board Director.

He said that they are planning to serve over 600 meals and will start at 11 a.m., Thursday, Thanksgiving Day at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“Every year the number seems to go up and last year we had a little over 600, that’s including the meals that we deliver,” said Winkles.

The home has been sponsoring both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at the Civic Center for many years. Each year several hundred people either eat dinner at the center, go there to take meals home or have them delivered to homes that normally are part of the local Meals on Wheels program.

Winkles said that he was pleased that this year the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office would be providing help through their trustees.

“The sheriff’s department has agreed to bring out their trustees to help us,” said Winkles. Desserts, such as pies and cakes, sweet potatoes and green beans are also still needed to complete the holiday meal.

“We also need volunteers to help deliver the meals,” said Winkles.

The group delivers the Meals on Wheels program dinners, because that program does not operate during the holidays.

“These meals are delivered to the elderly in the community,” said Winkles. “We also serve meals at the center and have some that just come in and take theirs home, which is all right.”

Winkles said that if individuals don’t have time to help with the meals, but would like to make a contribution, that would also be okay.

“I had someone come up to me and let me know that she wouldn’t be able to help this year, but wanted to make a contribution,” said Winkles. “We will accept contributions to help with the holiday meal.”

Anyone wanting to donate an item or make a contribution can do so by going to the Christian Home, located at 1201 S. Elm or by calling Winkles on his cell phone at 448-1883.

“I’ll be happy to go and pick up whatever they want to contribute,” he said.

The Thrift Store located at the Christian Home is open from 9-3 p.m., each day and donations can be dropped off there.

“It’s a very rewarding experience to help out like this and we appreciate all our volunteers and donations,” said Winkles.

If anyone wants to help the group during the holidays they can contact the Christian Home at 445-2049 or show up at the civic center on Thursday.

Signups for Gear Up Project set for Tuesday

Project Gear Up will be signing up students on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The 7th Grade Project Gear Up will offer free drawings for turkeys at a meeting for all 7th graders and their parents or guardians.

This meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the Crockett Middle School gym at 6 p.m.

Project Gear Up is a federal program sponsored by the Pecos Barstow Toyah ISD and Sul Ross State University. The program is for all 2005-2006, 7th graders and will follow these students through the 12th grade.

Credit by test available to grades 6-8

Credit for acceleration for grades 1-5 and Credit for Examination for grades 6-8 are being held at the different Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD campuses, with registration scheduled now through Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Students in grades 1-5 need to meet some requirements and score 90 percent or above on a criterion referenced test for the grade level to be skipped in each of the following areas: language arts, math, science, and social studies.

In grades 6-8 students must score 90 percent or above on a criterion referenced exam for acceleration for the applicable course.

Registration for the exams is now taking place at the different campuses and Monday is the deadline to register and students can do so at the counselor’s office at the student’s designated school. Test dates are Dec. 7-9.

Arts and Crafts Bazaar set for Dec. 4


A Christmas Arts and Crafts Bazaar will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 at Santa Rosa Catholic Church Hall.

The Guadalupanas will be selling menudo for breakfast and gorditas for lunch.

Spaces are available for $25 and local crafters are invited to participate.

For more information contact Lupe Acosta 445-6133, Linda Nunez at 447-6185 or Blanca Avila at 445-5529.

GED December test dates announced

GED Testing will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Pecos High School.

Registration is scheduled from 1-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 28, at the Pecos High School Counselor’s Office.

Examinees must present a Texas driver’s license or Texas Department of Public Safety ID Card.

For more information contact Pat Cobos/Eva Arriola, Pecos High School Counselors at 447-7229.

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