Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, April 29, 2005
Waha officials “puzzled” by city’s water protest
By JON FULBRIGHT
Town of Pecos City Council members were scheduled to be updated on Thursday evening about the proposed natural gas storage facility in eastern Reeves County and its possible impact on the city’s water supply, during their 5:30 p.m. regular meeting at City Hall.
The update will be on the hearing last Friday before the Texas Railroad Commission in Austin on a plan by Enstor Corp. and its Waha Storage and Transportation, L.P.
subsidiary to create a 7.2 billion cubic foot high-deliverability salt cavern gas storage site on two sections of land in far eastern Reeves County.
Pecos officials told the commission they weren’t against the plan, but were concerned that the 200 million gallons of water Enstor plans to use to carve out the salt cavern will affect the city’s Worsham and South Worsham water fields, which city utilities director Edgardo Madrid said are between 6-7 miles west of the cavern site.
However, in a press release, Daryl Gee, project manager for Waha Storage and Transportation L.P., said the company wasn’t sure why Pecos was protesting the plan.
“Waha is puzzled by the City of Pecos’ decision to protest Waha’s application to the Railroad Commission to construct and operate a gas storage facility,” Gee said. “We have been working with the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District to utilize the non-potable Capitan Reef water as the primary source water to solution mine the storage caverns, rather than the higher quality water from the (Pecos) Cenozoic Alluvium under our own land - this despite a recent Texas Water Development Board study finding that Waha’s proposed project would have a minimal impact on the Cenozoic Alluvium beyond the project site.”
By locating its project site in Reeves County, Enstor can use the water under its land based on the state’s right-of-capture law, since Reeves County was unable to form an underground water district four years ago. Pecos County officials created the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District, which Enstor must negotiate with for use of the Capitan Reef Aquifer, which is located between Coyanosa and Imperial in Pecos County.
However, Pecos County farmers in the Coyanosa area use the Pecos Alluvium Aquifer for irrigating their crops, and it was officials from the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District who first contacted Pecos city officials to let them know about the possible problems with the Waha storage facility’s water use plans.
“That’s not what we said,” City Manager Joseph Torres said about the city’s position on the project. “We’re not opposed to it. Our concern is the effect on our water field using the Pecos Cenozoic to hollow out their cavern.”
“The first statement by Scott (Johnson, city attorney) was we were not opposed to the project for economic development, but we were worried about the water field and our $9 million project,” he said. The city just completed development of the South Worsham field last year, a decade after hydrology studies showed the Ward County and Worsham fields would only be able to supply Pecos with adequate water supplies through 2008.
“What our concern is what would be the impact on our water source,” Madrid said. “The second issue was how to get rid of the brine water at the facility.”
Gee was the final person to testify last Friday at the Railroad Commission hearing in Austin and cited the study by the TWDB. But Torres and Madrid said they were concerned that the report’s definition on what area would be affected by the extraction of 200 million gallons of water from the aquifer.
“It’s very vague. It just said it may impact for a few miles,” Torres said.
“We are 6-7 miles from the location. That can be a few miles. Two miles can be a few miles,” Madrid said. “At the location, the impact would lower the water table 50 feet,” he added, citing the TWDB report.
Madrid said at the hearing Gee was opposed to putting any restriction on the permit mandating the use of the Capitan Reef Aquifer, though in his press release, Gee sounded a more conciliatory tone, while citing the addition cost its use would be for Waha.
“The additional cost to the project by using Capitan Reef water is significant. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with the (Middle Pecos) Groundwater Conservation District with the hope of reaching an agreement to use Capitan Reef water,” Gee said.
“He said they cannot delay the project any longer,” Madrid said of Gee’s Railroad Commission testimony. “They wanted to have approval on their application, and they haven’t gotten any agreement with the Pecos County underground water district.
“He was a little upset at the time. He said their people aren’t taking care of their business, and I need to take care of my business,” Madrid said.
Torres said he had not been in contact with Zan Matthies with the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District in the week since the hearing in Austin. Matthies was not available for comment as of press time on the water district’s position on Enstor’s use of Capitan Reef water.
Gee said in his press release the Waha site would cost $65 million to build and would bring 125 construction jobs to the area. The storage cavern would be located just west of the Waha gas trading hub in Pecos County, so that natural gas could be stored and then released directly to the hub at selected times.
Once completed, the storage facility would employ 10 people on-site, Gee said. Enstor as talked with Reeves County officials about possible Enterprise Zone tax breaks to help with construction of the storage area.
Aside from the Waha report, other items on the council’s agenda for Thursday included a discussion of the status of current city construction projects, alternatives for the city’s alley clean-up program, an interlocal agreement with the city of Alpine for a plumbing inspector and an executive session on the duties of the municipal court judge.
Beltran pleads guilty to feds’ cocaine charge
By JON FULBRIGHT
One of three brothers extradited from Mexico last November to face federal drug charges pled guilty to a cocaine possession and distribution charge in Midland on Wednesday.
Jesus "Chuy" M. Beltran entered the guilty plea in U.S. District Court to a charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
Beltran and his two brothers, Hernaldo, aka, "Naldo" Beltran Perea and Raul Beltran Perea and Jesus "Chuy" M. Beltran were turned over to U.S. officials in Del Rio in mid-November after fleeing to Mexico to avoid charges filed against them in April of 2000. The trio was charged of conspiracy with intent to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.
Jesus Beltran was originally charged three counts of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. His indictment also alleges he conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and import and distribute marijuana. He agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge and faces a sentence of five to 40 years in federal prison, a minimum of five years of supervised release and up to $2 million in fines.
“Typically when a defendant pleads to one or two charges the other charges in the indictment will be dropped,” said Daryl Fields, Public Affairs Office for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.
Hernaldo, aka, "Naldo" Beltran Perea and Raul Beltran Perea are citizens of Mexico, while Jesus Beltran is a U.S. citizen. The three have lived in the Pecos and Balmorhea areas in that past.
Police in Juarez, arrested the trio, along with Rodolfo 'Rudy' Beltran, on New Year's Eve of 2001, following an extensive drug investigation by Mexican police.
The brothers allegedly masterminded a cocaine smuggling ring in El Paso and Juarez for a 10-year period, U.S. officials said in January of 2002, the week after their arrest. The arrests came as the result of charges filed on April 19, 2000, in U.S. District Court, in Midland that were brought against the Beltrans and several others.
The 2000 indictment charged Hernaldo Perea Beltran with one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Court papers indicate that the defendant conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and import and distribute marijuana.
Raul Beltran, was charged with two counts for conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The indictment said he conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and import and distribute marijuana.
The other brother, who was not part of last week's hand-over, Rodolfo Beltran, is charged with four counts of conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
The four were charged in unsealed indictments that were unsealed on Jan. 11, 2001. A fugitive search began on May 19, 2000 for the Beltans and others who were named in the indictments at that time, including Consepcion Martinez, Noel Quiroz Ramos, Horland Garcia, Ruben Garcia and Randy Lopez.
Several of those named were arrested in December of 2000, while the El Paso Times reported, the brothers were arrested during a family holiday party at Ajua, a popular restaurant frequented by many El Pasoans and other tourists.
Officials said that the organization smuggled drugs through El Paso and that they were then distributed to cities in Texas, Kansas, California and other states.
"The organization was headed by Hernaldo and Raul Beltran, who organized the smuggling and distribution and sale of 50 to 100 kilograms of cocaine per week, while Jesus and Rodolfo (Beltran) recruited drivers and collected the payments," according to a statement issued by the Mexican federal attorney general's office at the time of their arrest.
The suspects were taken to Mexico City, where they were held until their extradition to the United States.
No sentencing date has been set as of yet for Jesus Beltran, according to the Odessa American in their Thursday edition, while Fields indicated that court action in the cases of Hernaldo, aka, "Naldo" Beltran Perea and Raul Beltran Perea would likely occur in the near future in U.S. District Court in Midland.
RCH board makes changes to rules on personnel, policy
By JON FULBRIGHT
Reeves County Hospital District Board members approved some changes to the district’s personnel and policy procedures, sold off the hospital’s old emergency generator and took no action following a 30 minute executive session to discuss personnel, during their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday in the hospital’s classroom.
The board made several changes and additions to personnel policy and procedures.
Included were sections on the release of information, control of property, changes to the new employee policy and to the hospital disciplinary system, absentee and tardiness rules and problem solving procedures.
Hospital CEO Bill Conder said the property rule was for items left in the hospital. “If patients leave unclaimed items we have to deal with that,” he said, while the disciplinary changes were to put down in writing the hospital’s regulations on wages and hours worked.
He said the changes in the absentee and tardiness rules were to “put more teeth” into the hospital’s possible actions against employees, while the new employee policy spelled out orientation and job explanation rules for the hospital. The change on releasing information clarified the times during the day that information would be released by Public Relations Director Vanetta Seals and when information requests would be referred to Conder.
The board also added a section to policy and procedures to include the Family Medical Leave Act, and removed a section on the hospital’s travel policy. Conder said the FMA was added to bring the hospital into federal guidelines, while the travel policy was removed in order to give it a separate policy section in the RCH rules manual.
Board members approved the only bid presented for the sale of the hospital’s old emergency generator. Stanley Lawrence big $625 for the Stewart & Stevenson diesel generator, which was used when electric power was lost at the hospital.
“We need to get it out of the way. It’s taking up space and it’s not hooked up to anything,” Conder said. “It’s in good condition, but it’s 25 years old.”
The board also approved the sale of property in Balmorhea to Hilda Hernandez, at a cost of $1,505. Board members were told the property, located at Lot 11, Block 9 in the Town of Balmorhea, had been approved for sale previously by the board, but was not approved at the original price by one of the other taxing entities involved with the sale.
Board members also approved bills for the month, heard a brief administrator’s report from Conder and a medical staff report from Dr. W.J. Bang, re-certified the hospital as a Trauma Level IV Support Center, and approved the hospital’s nursing policy for the newborn nursery, exposure control and ICU units, as presented by the medical staff.
Along with taking no action on personnel after executive session, the board also tabled action involving home health services that was on Tuesday’s agenda.
Conder asked the board to attend three one-hour classes for hospital board members scheduled next month by the Texas Hospital Association. The three one-hour classes would be on Thursdays beginning on May 25, and would include information about open meetings and conflicts of interest. The course would cost $595 per person.
Board member Leo Hung earlier told Conder that the Office of Rural Community Affairs had a program to help pay the costs for people looking to get into the medical or dental field in a rural part of Texas. He said ORCA would pay half the costs for the person, while local funding would make up the other half.
“ORCA will collect the money is the student drops out of the program,” Hung said.
Commissioners approve lower RCDC payments
By ROSIE FLORES
Lease and maintenance payments for the Reeves County Detention Center were approved and electric rates discussed during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting held Wednesday morning.
The payments were the first made after the county’s bond rating was upgraded to BBB from junk bond status.
The group approved payments for the Reeves County Detention Centers 1999 Series maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166. “This is the partial results of the refinancing and restructuring, the only payment for this month for RI and RII,” said county auditor Lynn Owens.
Other payments approved included the RCDC 2001 Series Lease payment in the amount of $194,673. “This is a lower payment, it’s an interest only payment and the only payment we will make for this month,” said Owens. “This is also the result of the refinancing and restructuring.”
The normal full payment, which was not made this month, would have been in the amount of $589,000.
The RCDC 2001 Series maintenance reserve payment was also approved in the amount of $29,166.
The county’s bond rating was lowered ,and its monthly payments increased, after the county was unable to find prisoners two years ago for the new $40 million RCDC III unit. RCDC I and II house U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates, but the BOP declined to put additional prisoners in RCDC III.
In February of 2004, Reeves County and GEO, the new prison management company at the facility, reached agreement to house State of Arizona prisoners at RCDC III. That contract has since been renewed, and the money from housing the inmates goes towards repayment of the construction bonds.
Owens told the group that the county was in a much better financial position now. “We’re still not at where I would like for us to be, but in a much better position,” he said.
During reports from the various departments, Owens spoke to the group about the rising energy costs.
“We ran a comparison with First Choice and Tractebel in 2004 and Tractebel had the lowest rates,” said Owens. “But in 2005, we spent $8,791 more, so the question is why did we change?” he said.
Owens said that the cost would have been more if they had stayed with First Choice, because rates have gone up considerably. “We did see some savings, especially at the RCDC,” he said.
“It was $8,000 more, but it would have been a lot more if we had not changed. We have saved tremendously at the prison,” said Owens.
He said that part of the problem is that the way the government set up deregulation, they are passing the service charge on to them.
“They add on the service charge and we have to pay for it,” he said.
Owens also talked about a budget shortfall in the sheriff’s department.
“They are very short for the year,” he said, explaining that salaries had been raised at the sheriff’s department to be in line with the Department of Labor salaries, but the budget was never adjusted accordingly.
County treasurer Linda Clark told the group that the salaries were never put in the budget.
“My concern was that we might have an extra person out there,” said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.
Clark told Galindo that that was not the case. “The new salaries according to DOL were never put in the budget,” she said.
Commissioners approved personnel and salary changes during the regular meeting.
Personnel changes included a part-time employee at the county clerk’s office, Kathy Prieto was hired part-time at $6 per hour.
At the Reeves County Detention Center, Jorge Rivero was hired at the RCDC III at $22,800 per year and Robert Overcash was promoted to the armory going from $22,800 to $27,000 per year.
At the RCDC I and II, Margarita Corrales was rehired and David Cobos was hired.
New hires at the prison included: Chris Deishler, Sergio Estrello, Becky Harris, Jessica Martinez, Norma Martinez, Ernesto Matta, Fabian Medrano, Connie Orona, Belinda Porras, Jennifer Rayos and Deona Walker.
At the RCDC I and II, Mary Gonzales was promoted to case worker at $32,115; Terry Terrazas hired in the business office at $23,150 and Frank Rodriguez, new hire at $31,000.
Colorado man jailed on pot charge after chase
By ROSIE FLORES
A high speed chase Wednesday afternoon along Interstate 20 through Pecos led to the arrest of Colorado man on drug charges, according to the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force.
The chase started when Task Force officer Kevin Roberts stopped a 1994 Silver Cadillac, at 12:36 p.m., for speeding, while eastbound on I-20 at mile marker 29, about 12 miles west of Pecos.
Roberts said that during the initial contact, the driver refused to roll down his window or step out of the vehicle as he was instructed to do.
“That’s when he decided to flee,” said Roberts.
Roberts said that he gave chase to the vehicle from mile marker 29 to mile marker 46, on I-20, four miles east of Pecos at speeds that reportedly exceeded 105 mph.
“There were two times during this chase, that we were traveling eastbound, when he crossed from the eastbound lane to the westbound lane traffic, driving toward truck trailers, before he changed lanes,” said Roberts.
The chase ended at mile marker 46 on I-20, between Pecos and the Pecos River crossing.
The driver of the vehicle, identified as Jeremy Morrow, of Colorado, was arrested and taken to Reeves County Jail where he was charged with attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of marijuana at a correctional facility.
“The individual had the marijuana on him when he was taken to jail,” said Roberts.
Roberts said that Morrow is facing two felony charges.
Officer Roberts was assisted by other law enforcement agencies including the Task Force, Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Public Safety.
“When we were going past Flying J, we were all trying to get him to stop,” said Roberts. “We finally stopped him with a pit maneuver,” he said.
A Sheriff’s Department car was involved in an accident with a U-Haul trailer on I-20 at the 47 mile marker, at roughly the same time as the high-speed chase ended. There were no injuries reported in the incident, and the Texas Department of Public Safety investigated the accident.
PWN holds job application class
The public is invited to the Pecos Workforce Network, 215 W. 2nd, from 10-11 a.m., Friday, to acquire valuable information on filling out a job application the appropriate way.
Limited sitting, individuals are asked to all ahead to ensure a seat, at 432-445-9664.
Credit course registrations underway
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 Monday.
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 May 10-13.
No decision yet on special P-B-T meeting
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members are considering a special meeting next week on the district’s enhanced program, but no final decision had been made as of Thursday.
School board member Paul Deishler said on Wednesday the board was considering re-visiting their discussion on the district’s enhanced program, which board members voted to eliminate during their April 11 meeting. The action has sparked protests from some local parents, but school officials said on Thursday there has not been a decision on whether to hold a special meeting.
Bessie Haynes holding Book Fair
Bessie Haynes Elementary School is holding a Scholastic Book Fair between Wednesday, April 27 through Friday, April 29, from 8 a.m. through 11:15 a.m. and Monday, May 2 through Thursday, May 5, from 8 a.m. until 11:15 and from 1-3 in the school library.
A wide selection of books for all reading levels will be available, including Harry Potter books, Captain Underpants and the books from the Series of Unfortunate Events.
Posters, arts and crafts, software, pencils, erasers and bookmarks will also be for sale.
The school is also sponsoring the Classroom Wish List so parents can purchase books for their child’s class library.
Fort Stockton Job Fair set for May 10
A Fort Stockton Job and Career Fair has been scheduled from 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, May 10, at the Pecos County Civic Center in Fort Stockton.
Employer, college and military booths will be set up with plenty of information. Door prizes will be awarded and an information central booth will be on hand.
Anyone interested in having a booth at the job fair can call 432-336-2264 or for more information.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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