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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, April 15, 2005

City told work on new homes could resume

Staff Writer

Telephone and other telecommunication rates will be going up for Town of Pecos City residents, following a vote Thursday morning by the Pecos City Council, which also was told construction on a second home at the Washington Street development site may finally get underway, over two years after the site’s first and only home was completed. Council members also tabled any action on a request by the Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program to change its lease agreement on facilities at the Pecos Municipal Airport during their regularly scheduled meeting, after the plane the program had been using for cloud seeding crashed in South America two months ago.

The Washington Street housing program was begun after the city received a 2002 housing grant from the Office of Rural Community Affairs. The $400,000 grant the city received thee years ago was to be used to help with the construction of 20 homes along Washington and Adams streets. But only one home has been built since then, and the city had to get a one-year extension on paying back the loan grant, which originally was due in March of 2005.

Torres gave the council a list of actions the city has been involved with trying to find people who qualify for housing assistance loans during the past three years, along with other possible means of financing construction of the homes.

He said on March 28, city animal control officer Daniel Dominguez and his wife Cindy passed the credit score to receive a loan for building a new home at the site, and that there may be at least a couple of more homes that could be built in the near future.

“We have two potential homeowners looking at alternative financing right now,” Torres said. “Once the qualify, they still have to meet credit eligibility requirements.”

Later in the meeting, the council approved a 1.38 percent increase on residential telecom rates, at the recommendation of Town of Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres. The rate is the maximum allowable, and is above the 1.27 percent rate announced by the Texas Public Utilities Commission, but in a letter the PUC said the city had not adjusted its rates for inflation in 2004, when the state authorized its last CPI (Consumer Price Index) telecom rate hike.

“If we take the default rate of 2005 of $1.15 and use the 1.27 percent increase that would come to $1.46 a month for residents,” Torres said. Under the approved plan, the increase for residences in Pecos will be $1.59 a month, while non-residences will see a $3.17 rate, up from $2.30, and point-to-point user rates will rise from $3.50 to $4.75 a month.

“Any rate increases by utility companies will be pro-rated across the state, so it won’t rely just on us,” council member Frank Sanchez said. “If we decide not to do it, we’ll be missing out on extra revenues and we’ll get a rate increase anyway.”

“It’s not like we’re increasing any tax situation. It’s a CPI increase,” Torres said. “If you know the price of fuel and the price of gas right now, it’s up there.”

The council took no action at this time on the situation with the Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program. Tom Nance, who supervises the program, which three years ago, said the pilot and co-pilot of the plane that had been used locally died when the plane crashed into a mountain while doing hail suppression work in Argentina on Feb. 6. As a result, Nance said the program does not need the large hangar it had been renting at the Pecos Municipal Airport, but was asking the council if they could leave the electronics equipment, including the Doppler weather radar, at the site free of charge until they could get a new airplane for the program.

Bill Hubbs, head of the Pecos Municipal Airport Board, told the council that while a check by city attorney Scott Johnson showed the city could legally keep non-airport equipment at the site, he didn’t think Nance should be allowed to keep the equipment there without a charge.

“It cost money to operate the airport. Any money that comes in goes toward airport operations,” Hubbs said. “It is our recommendation that the council come up with a square footage charge for the space they’re operating on.’

“I don’t feel its right to have them sitting there free of charge when others out there are paying space for rent,” he added.

Hubbs said the average hangar rental rate was about 50 cents a square foot, which average about $650 a year. Hubbs estimated the fee for the weather modification program would be about $1,200 a year, though Nance said he was unsure of how many square feet the weather radar site was using, and Johnson said the group should probably pay a lower fee, since they would not be using indoor areas.

“This is not a company doing business. This is an association,” Nance said. “We’re not doing anything we’re getting paid for out there. We’re just trying to make the situation better.”

Airport manager Isabel Blanchard said the program has helped security at the site by having people at the airport late at night, and that it had brought workers into the Pecos area the past two years. Councilman Frank Sanchez then asked Torres to meet with both parties to come up with an acceptable rental rate for the Weather Modification group.

Council OKs work to get grant for EMS hall

Staff Writer

Town of Pecos City Council members granted city officials the authority to seek over $800,000 in grants for a variety of projects involving the Pecos Police Department and the Pecos Ambulance Service, during their regular meeting on Thursday morning at City Hall.

The council also approved an agreement with Engineers, Inc. for consulting services involving work on the largest grant, which would go towards building a new ambulance hall for the Pecos EMTs. They also authorized the city manager to take action on any grant or grant management documents without getting prior approval from the council. “We have the opportunity to secure these grants, but we need to tell Carlos Colina-Varagas when we get word on these grants to move quickly,” city manager Joseph Torres said, explaining the reason for the change request. Colina-Vargas is one of the city’s grant-writers, and Torres said one of the grants involved would be for $701,000 to build a new ambulance hall.

City utilities director Edgardo Madrid said the agreement with Engineers, Inc. was for work on the project, and that the company had already done work on getting paperwork ready for submission on the ambulance hall grant.

“If in the future we need some more help and made the decision to ask them to help us out on the project, we would do it,” Madrid said, adding later that the company would only be paid for their work if the grant is approved.

“This is something Engineers, Inc. does as a normal item,” said Mike Robinson with the company.

Mayor Dot Stafford said Robinson is a former Pecos resident who is planning to move back into the community to provide local engineering services. Council members then approved hiring the firm for consulting work.

The police department is seeking two grants from the Department of Homeland Security for just over $100,000. Police chief Clay McKinney said the city already has received one grant for $42,000 from DHS, and the new grants would be for $20,000 for a new repeater for the police radio frequencies and just over $80,000 for a new console for the communications department and 20 new radios for officers.

“I know the repeater we have is over 25 years old,” McKinney said, while council members Danny Rodriguez and Frank Sanchez said the current repeater’s signal is weak at times.

The other grant is being sought by Pecos Police Community Affairs Office Mike Balog, and would be for a new computer, along with travel and training for the Pecos Crimestoppers program. McKinney said that grant would be between $1,500 and $15,000.

In other business, Madrid told the council that the just-begun program to have Reeves County Detention Center III inmates help with local clean-up efforts has been suspended, due to a change in the types of inmates being sent to RCDC III by the State of Arizona. “We stopped a week-and-a-half ago because the prison doesn’t have the low-risk inmates available,” Madrid said. The inmates had been doing alley and lot clean-up work under the supervision of Pecos Police.

“I talked to warden (Martin) McDaniel and he advised me they had a new director of corrections in Arizona, and she wanted all low-risk inmates moved to Arizona to work on properties there instead of ones out of state,” McKinney said.

McKinney said McDaniel was looking at the possibility of using medium-security inmates for the clean-up projects, while Madrid said he was looking at other alternatives for cleaning up the lots and alleys and would talk to the council about them at their April 28 meeting.

Bishop holds mass in Pecos for John Paul II

Catholic parishes of Pecos and the surrounding area offered a mass (the last of nine masses) in honor of Pope John Paul II on Monday evening at Santa Rosa Catholic Church.

The mass was presided over by Bishop Armando Ochoa, assisted by Father Manuel Munoz, Father Gustavo Lopez and Father John Lucido. Representatives from Pecos, Barstow, Balmorhea, Saragosa, Monahans, and El Paso took part in the mass, which was the only one to be held in the El Paso dioceses.

Bishop Ochoa in his homily emphasized one of the characteristics the Pope continuously demonstrated with vigor and tenacity. “Walls between God and men have no place in this world.” Whether the wall was prejudice, age, economics, ideologies, distance, hunger, and finally illness John Paul II preached against them. His testimony was not only one of words, but with his very last breath, the bishop said. Situated next to the altar was a portrait of John Paul II being embraced by the Virgin Mary (under the title of “Our Lady of Guadalupe”), which for him was a source of strength.

After the Eucharistic celebration there was a gathering behind the parish of Santa Rosa. This gathering was the groundbreaking ceremony for a conference center appropriately titled “Pope John Paul II Conference Center. The center will be used to continue the teachings and messages of John Paul II.

Another mass along with a 24 hour vigil was to be celebrated beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday. This mass is offered to pray for the college of cardinals who have the daunting task of choosing the next “Successor of Peter.”

Catholic churches across the world will pray for the Holy Spirit to guide these men in choosing a man who will follow the legacy of a “fisher of men” who will be cherished in the hearts of millions.

Chamber updated on pageant’s preparations

Staff Writer

Rehearsals are set to begin for the contestants for the Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant today, Women’s Division of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Michelle Workman to Chamber members on Tuesday, during their regular monthly meeting.

Workman updated the group about the June 24 pageant during the regular board of directors meeting, and said there will be a dozen girls this year vying for the title of Golden Girl and 15 little girls competing for the Little Miss Cantaloupe title.

Co-chairs for the Little Miss Cantaloupe pageant are Rhonda Wade and Mary Tarango. “We held a mother/daughter tea and a bake sale this weekend, which went really well,” said Workman. “The proceeds are used for the girls expenses, such as traveling or their costumes or any other expenses they might have.”

Workman said that every year the girls participate in a style show held at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“In the past few years it has become more of a family event, instead of just women attending,” said Workman.

Tickets for this event are $8 and it will be held at 2 p.m., during the Mother’s Day weekend.

“We do want to thank you in advance for supporting these girls,” said Workman. Clay McKinney said that plans for the yearly West of the Pecos Rodeo are coming along well. “We’re still in negotiations about the bull riding, but everything else has been taken care of, the contracts and clowns and everything,” said McKinney.

More games will be added to the Night in Old Pecos events, according to Debbie Thomas.

“GEO is going to help man some of these booths,” said Thomas. “We’re planning to add more booths with games for the kids,” she said.

Reeves County Detention Center III Deputy Warden David Cole talked about the Special Olympics and the many fundraisers that they are planning throughout the year. The Special Olympics Texas-Permian Basin/Big Bend Area Spring Games will be held this Saturday at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa, and a number of area law enforcement agencies will be involved with putting on the event.

“I’ve been with the company for five years and the company itself donated $350,000 to Special Olympics last year,” said Cole.

Cole said that Reeves County had raised $7,000 to donate to the Special Olympics last year. “This year our goal is $20,000,” said Cole.

Cole said that they are planning several local activities, such as softball tournaments, volleyball tournaments and a car show.

“This will not only help us raise funds for Special Olympics, but will also bring more people into Pecos,” said Cole.

Cole said that they are trying to bring more things for people to do to Pecos as well. “We would like to community to get involved,” said Cole.

Cole told the group that about three years ago he had the opportunity to attend a Special Olympics and was very moved. “It really pulled on my heartstrings,” he said.

“They don’t receive any other funding, they rely solely on private contributions,” said Cole. “We take this fundraising very seriously,” he said.

Members of RCDC III are planning a bake sale on May 6, at Wal-Mart and a spring softball tournament on May 21, at the Martinez Field.

Other events will be held throughout the summer.

Town of Pecos City Utilities Director Edgardo Madrid did a presentation for Chamber members on the many things the city has been working on.

“I’d also like to introduce our new engineer, Jesus Silvas, who helped put this presentation together,” said Madrid.

Madrid told the group that the restrooms at the new Matta/Rodriguez Skate Park, are 80 percent complete, and other work is continuing at the West Seventh Street site.

“They still have some electrical work to do, but otherwise it’s coming along well,” said Madrid.

Madrid said that 40 percent of the concrete had been completed on the six-foot ramp and a dedication ceremony is scheduled for Memorial Day.

Madrid also talked about the city’s water tanks that have been under repair for the past year..

“Repairs have been made on the water tanks, we had our own crew working on these,” said Madrid. “There are now two new water wells at South Worsham Field.”

He showed a slide of where the new rifle range will be located and said that they will be cutting half of the hill at the location north of town. “We’ve been working on that for 3 1/2 weeks,” said Madrid. “We’ll be adding some features that were suggested by Pecos Police Investigator Captain Kelly Davis.”

Targets and a rifle tower are some of things that were suggested to be included at the rifle range, according to Madrid.

Nancy Martinez talked about the recent KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) meeting held and the goals the group had outlined.

The luncheon as sponsored by the Pecos Police Department and the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department.

“The KOL received task force updates from the business task force and the customer service task force,” said Martinez.

The business task force is working on several issues: assess business closures (look at why, pricing, economy, untrained workforce). Develop a survey tool if one does not already exist.

Martinez said that they want to develop a resource guide of business resource materials that currently exist in our community and can be utilized by all businesses. Assess all web pages with content about Pecos. “There is a lot of inaccurate information contained in many of these pages,” said Martinez.

Develop an assessment tool for use in team approach to contact all businesses; plan one to one (person to person) contact with business rather than other methods and research the Enterprise Zone and identify if there are any other avenues of assistance.

“The Enterprise Zone discussion led to the creation of a new task force,” said Martinez. Currently, a small portion of Pecos is dedicated for the enterprise zone but greater benefit could be derived by expanding it. “After a lengthy discussion, a new task force was created to thoroughly investigate the pros and cons of expanding the enterprise zone.” The customer service task force reported on a customer service instructor training that will take place on Thursday, May 12, at Odessa College. “The training is being conducted by Texas A&M University, Texas Cooperative Extension out of College Station,” said Martinez.

The program is Texas Friendly on the job for your community. “This will be a full day training for a cost of $225 per person,” said Martinez. “A minimum of 10 people were required to hold this here.”

“Developed by the task force it includes training several local people to be trainers and then they can go out and train everyone in the community,” said Martinez. “If you are interested in sending someone to this training contact Tom Rivera.”

A big topic of discussion at the KOL meeting was the Venue Tax Election that will take place next month. “All members, except one, agreed to support the venue tax,” she said. Reports were received from taxing entities and the Pecos Economic Development Board, according to Martinez.

KOL will meet again on Monday, July 11, at noon at Odessa College. The meal will be hosted by Odessa College and Trans Pecos Banks.

Venue tax plan effects clarified during hearing

Pecos residents who spend a lot of time sleeping in local motels will find themselves paying our more money for the city’s new venue tax. But everyone who spends the night in their own homes won’t be seeing a tax increase, if the venue tax proposal is approved by voters in the May 7 city election.

That was the main message Town of Pecos City officials stressed Monday evening, during a public hearing on the planned tax proposal held at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“This will not increase any of your personal taxes. The only thing that will be different will be the hotel-motel tax,” said city manager Joseph Torres about the proposed 2 percent increase in the current 7 percent tax added on to bills of guests at the local motels. The tax plan was approved by both the Town of Pecos City Council and Reeves County Commissioners in hopes of gaining a new source of funding for repair and restoration efforts at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena and the Reeves County Civic Center. Torres and Mayor Dot Stafford said they have heard opposition to the proposal from local residents, who believed they would be affected by the tax increase.

“We have gotten some negative feedback. That’s why we need to get the information out and make it clear that the venue tax won’t affect them,” said Stafford.

Work on restoring the arena became urgent last May, when the south stands were condemned by fire marshal Jack Brookshire due to termite damage to support columns. The city and county made emergency repairs, but Torres presented a slide show at Monday’s hearing showing other parts of the nearly 70-year-old arena that were in need of repair.

“We’re not just looking at the stands. We’re looking at the entire arena,” said Torres. “We’re quite concerned from a safety standpoint.”

“We need to get it done because with a big event like the rodeo, once you let it go, you can never get it built back up to where it had been,” Stafford said.

The plans call for all the stands to be rebuilt, but for the arena to maintain the same look as it had when it was constructed in the mid-1930s. Improvements would include new sewer lines, electrical outlets and additional rest rooms that are ADA compliant.

“This will enable us to have the extra funds from this motel tax,” Torres sad. “This is the only way we’ve found we could do this, because the coffers of the city and county are very limited. This is the only way we figured we could come up with the money to do this kind of work.”

“We do have a plan. There’s a whole list of things we have to do. We just don’t have the money,” he added.

Torres said Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office already has given the city approve for the rodeo arena project, if the venue tax passes. He explained that any project for which venue tax funds are designated has to be approved by the state comptroller, along with officials of a new venue tax district board, which would be appointed by the council and would be made of five Reeves County residents.

Torres said he couldn’t put an exact cost yet on how much the arena project would be, but gave those at the hearing a handout that estimated a 2 percent rise in the motel tax would bring in an extra $45,000 annually.

Those in attendance at the meeting were supportive of the plan, while Torres said he had only talked with one motel owner so far about the proposed 2 percent tax increase. Based on average motel prices locally, the increase would add between 80 cents and $1.20 to the average nightly cost of a motel bill in Pecos.

“He said it was new to him, and he would have to think about it, but he wasn’t committing one way or another,” Torres said.

Monday’s hearing drew only about 20 people, and those in attendance were supportive of the plan.

“We’ve talked year after year about getting grants and donations for this,” said Pecos Police Chief and former West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee President Clay McKinney. “I think this is a great idea.”

“The bigger cities have been funding their projects for years with some kind of motel venue tax and making visitors pay for them,” said Vanetta Seals with Reeves County Hospital. “We’ve been paying for their projects when we spend the night in their motels. This will make people who spend the night here help pay for our project.”

“I really feel in a positive sense this is a project that’s long overdue, but you’re going to have to vote your conscience ,” Torres said. “If everyone believes the way I do, it will pass.”

Cocaine, items found by cops in Monday raid

Property believed to have been stolen was located during a narcotics search warrant which was executed Monday, behind a local restaurant.

On Monday, April 11, at 10:23 a.m., officers from the Pecos Police Department and the 143rd District Attorney’s Office executed a narcotics search warrant at a small apartment located directly behind the La Fiesta Restaurant in the 1300 block of South Cedar Street. “Once the officers executed the warrant and the premises were secured, officers proceeded their search of the apartment,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler. Officers found inside the apartment a substance believed to be cocaine, according to Deishler.

“Officers also found inside the apartment, property that the officers believed to be stolen property,” he said.

Officers completed their search of the premises and arrest warrants are pending for one subject that resides at the apartment, according to Deishler.

“The police department is needing held in locating the owner of one piece of property that is believed to be stolen property,” said Deishler.

The property in question is a set of air tools and has the initials A.L. engraved on several pieces. Also engraved on one tool is the name Alfredo.

“If you believe that this property could belong to you please contact Capt. Kelly Davis or Sgt. Olga Lopez at the police department at 445-4911,” said Deishler.

If you believe that this property belongs to you, the owner will either need to bring some type of documentation or be able to describe the property to the officers, according to Deishler.

“The police department would like to get this property back to the rightful owner,” he said.

Tersero completes basic training

Valerie Tersero graduated from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio recently. Tersero underwent 6 1/2 weeks of Basic Training and is currently studying to become a para-legal.

She is the daughter Edward and Diane Tersero of Pecos and Cindy Tersero of California.

Reddick’s celebrate diamond anniversary

Mr. and Mrs. Harry B. Reddick were surprised with a 60th Wedding Anniversary Party on Dec. 23, hosted by their five daughters.

The hostesses included daughters, Mary Lou Shipman of Steedman, MO., Cookie Clawson of Regency, Tx., Andrea Cherry of Luling, LA., Skeeter Graham of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Patricia Oden of Pecos.

The party was held in the Reception Room of the Quality Inn. Elegant decorations of red, gold and silver adored the windows, tables and other areas of the room. A large white polar bear with crystal lights and red and white poinsettas encircled the white Christmas tree, which was enhanced with decorative frames displaying pictures of children and grandchildren.

The couple renewed their wedding vows, which was presided over by Rev. Greer Willis of the First Baptist Church. Mrs. Reddick carried a bouquet of red roses with small white flowers, which was similar to the bouquet carried on her wedding day in 1944. Mr. Reddick placed a diamond ring on her finger, bearing a diamond for each grandchild. The area, in which the vows were repeated, was adorned with tall crystal pillars enhanced with greenery, red roses and baby’s breath. A variety of music selections were played during the event.

Vases of white carnations and red roses were centered on all tables. The tables were also embellished with candles, charms and keepsakes. The registry table was decorated with a variety of candles, flowers and displayed a picture of the couple on their wedding day in 1944, a card from the President and Mrs. Bush congratulating the couple on this special occasion.

A buffet displaying a variety meats, vegetables and desserts was served to those family members and friends attending, and afterwards the wedding cake was cut by the couple and served.

The three-tiered wedding cake was embellished with red roses. Champagne and wine were served to the guests in toasting best wishes to the couple in a continued loving and happy life together.

Family members and friends attending this special occasion arrived from Missouri, Louisiana, Arizona, Austin, San Antonio, Midland, Odessa and Monahans. In attendance were their 10 grandchildren: Cody Oden, Kimberly Oden, Gary Oden, Lance Clawson and fiancé, Katie Street, Paige Clawson, Eric Clawson, Traci Champagne, Gary Graham, Jr., Angela Ellis, Terry Ellis. Unable to attend were Jim and Tina Sprinkle, due to the arrival of a new son.

Eight great grandchildren in attendance were: Brandon Muniz, Austin Muniz, Sommer Clawson, Jeffery Ellis, Steven Gutierrez, Alanis Ellis, Nathan Champagne and Sydni Champange. Great-grandchildren unable to attend: Skylar Sprinkle and Jaxon Sprinkle, (the new arrival).

Other family members present were Doyle Clawson of Regency, David Shipman of Steedman, MO., and Gary Graham of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Other family members and friends from Dallas, Temple, Oklahoma, Canada, Arizona, and England were unable to attend due to distance and weather conditions.

The event was a most elegant and memorable occasion.

Birth Announcement

Richard and Megan Gutierrez are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Amber Nicole Gutierrez.

She was born April 4th.

Little Amber weighed weighed seven pounds and 5.3 ounces at birth and was 19 1/2 inches long.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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