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Commissioners back arena improvements

Staff Writer

Reeves County Commissioners got on board with the Town of Pecos City in a joint venue project initiative for the Reeves County Civic Center/Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena. Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo agreed that both the Reeves County Civic Center and the rodeo arena were in dire need of repairs.

“We know that it takes a lot of maintenance and repairs to prepare this area for the annual Fourth of July activities,” said Galindo.

Last year’s rodeo was threatened when termite damage was found in the supports of the south stands at the Buck Jackson Arena. Emergency repairs were made in June, just prior to the start of the 2004 rodeo.

Galindo said that the Pecos rodeo is ranked in the Top 15 rodeos nationwide, and that the purse is ranked in the top five in the state. It’s traditionally Texas’ highest-paying outdoor rodeo.

“This is behind the Dallas, Houston and Mesquite rodeos,” said Galindo. “There’s no question that our hosting the rodeo is very important.”

Galindo said that they had talked about continual improvement. “We want to ask the voters to consider additional funding to restructure this arena and the civic center,” he said.

“We have a resolution for you to consider to make these improvements,” he said. Galindo said that the first priority would be the rodeo arena.

Town of Pecos City Main Street Director Tom Rivera told the group that they would especially target the south side stands at the arena. “When the resource team was out here, the structural architect went out and looked at it and wants to get involved in restoring the arena and putting money into the civic center,” he said.

Rivera said that with the improvement of the rodeo arena, Pecos could host more events at the facility. By hosting more events at the facility, tourism would go up, more visitors would be in Pecos, eating at local restaurants and utilizing the local motels, he added. “We could have more events with a first class facility and this would benefit the entire community,” Rivera said.

The project is expected to be funded by a 2 percent to the city’s hotel and motel bed tax that would help fund the restoration project. That action would have to be approved by city voters in May.

“This would allow us to improve the facility and would not cost the local taxpayers anything,” Rivera said. “This would generate approximately $47,000 a year.”

Rivera said that he has dealt with bed tax before and that is remained pretty steady for the past 10-12 years.

“Have you heard any objections about utilizing that facility more than once a year?” asked Galindo.

Rivera said that the project began with a few individuals, such at Town of Pecos City Police Chief and former West of the Pecos Rodeo president Clay McKinney, Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson and himself.

“If it gets approved, we’ll form more of a multi-agency,” he said.

“But no, we haven’t heard any negative comments about it,” said Rivera.

“We’ve already submitted the application to the comptroller’s office and hopefully we’ll have it on the ballot for May 7,” he said.

“What improvements did you have in mind?” asked commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado.

“It will depend on the board, but the south side stands will be the number one priority and the planning committee will look at the civic center repairs that need to be done,” said Rivera.

Rivera said that the old part of the civic center needed major repairs.

Commissioners then unanimously approved the resolution for the restoration of the Buck Jackson Rodeo arena and repairs for the civic center, by a 2 percent increase in local hotel occupancy tax election scheduled for Saturday, May 7.

The group adopted the resolution as a joint venue project with the Town of Pecos City and the county.

City seeks hearing on salt dome proposal

The Town of Pecos City has submitted a letter to state officials requesting a hearing on a proposed natural gas storage facility to be built inside a hollowed-out salt dome in the Coyanosa area.

The site would be located in Reeves County, between the Waha gas trading point and Pecos’ Worsham water field, and by being placed within the county, would avoid any current local regulation by an underground water district.

The project, planned by Houston-based Enstor, would build a 7.2 billion cubic foot high deliverability salt cavern gas storage site on two sections of land along FM 1450, on the Reeves-Pecos County line. The company originally announced the plan on May 3, saying at the time the site was chosen because it is only three miles away from the existing Waha hub near Coyanosa, in Pecos County.

The hub itself is within the Upper Pecos Groundwater District, which was set up in 2002 in response to Senate Bill 1 in the 1997 Texas Legislature, which sought to tighten controls over water usage across the state. It covers all of Pecos County, and came after talks involving Reeves County and neighboring counties about a multi-county underground water district fell apart.

By developing the salt dome in Reeves County, Enstor can store gas for long periods before sending it to the nearby Waha Trading Hub under favorable market conditions, and at the same time the dome’s use of water in construction doesn’t have to meet the requirements of an underground water district.

But officials with both Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City have been in talks with the Upper Pecos Groundwater District and officials with the Texas Railroad Commission because of their concerns over the use of underground aquifer water to create the 7.2 billion cubic foot storage area.

Edgardo Madrid, who heads the city’s water and utilities departments, said on Tuesday that an ad was published following the project’s announcement saying a letter would have to be submitted to the Texas Railroad Commission for anyone seeking public hearing into the issue.

“We did submit a letter requesting a public hearing in order for us to express our concern, in coordination with the Pecos County Water District, but we haven’t heard anything from them,” Madrid said. “We had a deadline to submit the request, but they didn’t say anything about the response.”

The talks between the city and the Upper Pecos Groundwater District came last summer and fall, at which time plans were discussed to conduct a new hydrology study on the aquifers in the Coyonosa area. However, Madrid said on Monday there was nothing new on the hydrology study at this time.

Zan Matthies, an independent consultant for the water district, said in October that Enstor’s proposal calls for using 200 million barrels of water to carve out the salt dome over a six-year period between 2006 and 2012.

“Two-hundred million barrels equals one acre/foot of water over about 25,000 acres of land,” Matthies said. “That will be the approximate amount of water needed to wash out the salt water.”

Matthies said the concern is Enstor would use water from the Cenezoic Pecos Alluvium Aquifer, a shallow-level aquifer that is used by farmers in the Coyonosa area, as well as by the cities of Coyanosa and Imperial for drinking water.

Madrid said in October that Pecos does not use the Pecos Alluvium Aquifer for drinking water, but the deeper Santa Rosa Aquifer. However, Matthies said, “The both run together,” and salt contamination of the Pecos Alluvium could affect Santa Rosa water and the Pecos water fields, which are located between 10 and 20 miles west of the project site.

Madrid said Enstor’s alternative plans called for using water from Capitan Reef, which would require deeper wells and 13 miles of pipeline. The formation already has been used by Unocal to create a similar salt dome storage site in Winkler County near Kermit. Officials in Winkler County currently are looking at creating their own underground water district, according to a story in the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Rancher Larry Fernandes presented the idea of a water district to Winkler County officials about 14 years ago, the paper said in its Tuesday edition.

Fernandes said he got the idea after talking with people in the North Plains Water District, which was successful in reducing the water usage in the area, which was mostly farm land, he said.

Kermit oilman and landowner John Bell, chairman of the Winkler County Water Committee, said there have been some discussions about designating the county, as the water district, and officials in Loving County also have been contacted about joining the district.

Creation of an underground water district for Winkler and Loving counties would leave Reeves and Ward the only area counties without underground water districts. Under the rules implemented by Senate Bill 1, counties that don’t create districts to regulate underground water use can leave aquifers in those areas subject to state control in the future.

County OKs RCDC refinancing, area clean-up

Reeves County Commissioners worked on fixing up the county’s financing for the Reeves County Detention Center, and agreed to a project to have prison inmates help clean-up the Pecos area, during their regular meeting on Monday at Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement between Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City for city-wide cleanup and restoration that will use inmates from RCDC III, while at the same time approving steps towards restructuring repayment of construction financing for the $89 million facility.

Commissioners approved and authorized the execution and delivery of certain agreements, documents, and instruments for the public purpose of restructuring and refinancing some of the county’s lease rental payment obligations at the RCDC and its three outstanding series of certificates of participation. The approval involves the execution and delivery of a fifth supplemental sublease agreement, an additional series of certificates of participation to be designated series 2005, and approving and authorizing various other matters and transactions in connection.

Barry Friedman, with Carlyle Capitol Markets, outlined the history of the Reeves County Detention Center and the financing, for new commissioners Roy Alvarado and Saul Herrera, who took over the Precinct 1 and 3 positions in January.

“I wanted to go through a brief history of the detention center for the new commissioners and how the project came about in 1985,” said Friedman.

Friedman told the group that they were still waiting for the report from Standard and Poors, the agency that rates the county’s bonds.

“The report hasn’t been released yet, but we’ve gotten indication that we’ll get a good rating,” said Friedman.

County officials are awaiting word from on its bond rating before proceeding with the financial restructuring plan for the RCDC.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said the county pays $11 million a year in lease payments on the three-unit RCDC. The 3,140-bed prison was built in three stages over the past 19 years, and has a total value of $89 million.

Originally, Galindo said the lease payment was scheduled to go up $2 million a year in 2005, bringing the annual payments up to $13 million. The certificates of participation were to be retired in 10 years, but Reeves County officials want to extend that by five years.

If the payments can be structured to a lower level now, it will help the county be more competitive as far as the per-day payment rate for each inmate, in comparison to other facilities that house federal prisoners, according to Galindo.

Standard and Poors is currently working on an investment rating for the county that Galindo said should come out in the next 10 to 15 days. That will determine how much collateral is needed for the investment by the bond insurers.

The higher a bond is rated the easier it is to sell to investors. Bonds that are lower rated usually have to pay higher interest rates in order to attract investors, due to the higher risk factor a lower rating implies.

In the clean-up restoration agreement, both the Reeves County and Pecos officials agreed to perform a city/county clean up, which will use inmates from RCDC III, which houses prisoners from the state of Arizona.

Under the plan, Reeves County Road and Bridge employees, city maintenance employees, county correctional officers, city certified peace officers, and RCDC III inmates will be utilized to perform these services. It is also understood that the Town of Pecos City will accept all non-hazardous debris, trash, appliances, etc., at the city landfill at no cost to the county.

Reeves County Detention Center III Warden Martin McDaniel told the group that there would be no more than six inmates working out in the community at one time and one armed county officer. “The inmates will only work from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday, through Friday,” said McDaniel.

The crew will work on a city project one week and then a county project the next week, according to McDaniel.

All RCDC III inmates will be classified as non-violent; RCDC III will provide all inmate transportation; the city shall provide portable restrooms for work crews on city and county cleanup projects and the city will provide armed certified peace officer equipped with vehicle and radio per work detail.

In the agreement, Reeves County Detention Center will provide one unarmed certified correctional officer per work detail; Reeves County Detention Center III will provide lunches for the inmates; the city will provide equipment, drivers, and vehicles for clean up on county projects; except for the first and second projects of this initiative, before the inmate work detail is alternated between city and county projects, the city and county projects, the city and county crews along with the RCDC III inmate work detail will clean the Old Airbase property under the jurisdiction of the Pecos Housing Authority, and the city and county crews along with the RCDC III inmate work detail will complete the rodeo arena south seating area.

“City vehicles will have signs indicating ‘prison work detail,’” said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. “Under no circumstances will inmates be allowed to work on private property,” he said.

While the inmates are being utilized in a work detail, the Pecos Police Department will be the assisting agency and the in the event an inmate attempts to escape from a work detail. The police will be the lead agency, according to Galindo.

“All certified peace officers involved in the cleanup will be trained in Pecos Police Department use of force policy, Arizona use of force policy, radio procedures, and Pecos Police Department inmate work detail policy, and operation of an appropriate pursuit vehicle,” said Galindo. “The agreement is terminable at will be either party upon written notice.”

“Is this only for the Arizona inmates?” asked commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado. “Yes, the federal inmates are not allowed outside of the compound,” said McDaniel. “It depends on population, whether we can use them outside.”

Galindo said that RCDC I and II inmates are federal prisoners, and most have INS detainees and are considered flight risks.

Commissioners also approved a resolution in support of the Texas Pecos Trail Application to the Texas Historical Commission - Heritage Tourism Program and authorizing the execution and delivery of paperwork as part of the procedure in a financial restructuring plan for the Reeves County Detention Center (I-III).

“We’re asking for the county to approve the resolution for it to be filed,” said Pecos Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson. “There are several counties involved.” Gholson said that they did pass the resolution last year, but the Texas Historical Commission did not pick up Pecos trails. “So we’re going to try again,” said Gholson. Galindo said that the thought it was a very good opportunity for Pecos and the surrounding areas to promote the region.

Matthews says gun, lockdown stories overblown

An incident involving a parent at two campuses of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD was not as serious as reported by a Midland-Odessa TV station, according to the district’s superintendent, but precautionary measures were taken to secure the safety of those at the two schools.

“The police alerted us of an incident that dealt with (parental) custody,” said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Ray Matthews.

He said Pecos police had received a tip about an individual that might visit two of the campuses. “They were kind enough to give us that information,” said Matthews. “They gave us the heads up that someone might be in the area, and could possibly go to two campuses, one a junior high and the other the high school,” said Matthews.

Matthews said that as a precaution, the schools locked their back doors. “But there was never a lock down and no, we didn’t close any campuses,” he said.

Midland-Odessa TV station KWES reported on their Sunday and Monday newscasts that Pecos High School and Crockett Middle School had been locked down on Thursday and Friday because a man with a gun was seen driving around both campuses.

Town of Pecos City Police Chief Clay McKinney said Monday morning he received a call from KWES about the report that a man with a gun had gone to two P-B-T ISD campuses last week, seeking to remove his children from school.

McKinney said that while there was an incident at school late last week, “there was no gun involved.” He added that he gave the same information to KWES officials prior to their broadcast.

“This guy was a ‘possibility’ of showing up,” said Matthews. “It was a custody issue,” he said.

Matthews said that the police had alerted the district and as a precaution they had the back doors of both campuses locked, which is a customary procedure.

“We tightened up security and had all the custodians were made aware of the possibility,” said Matthews. “Nobody’s life was in danger,” he said.

“Kelly (Davis, Pecos PD investigator) talked to some relatives and received some information,” McKinney said on Monday, adding, “At this point the man hasn’t done anything wrong. There’s nothing to charge anyone with.”

Matthews said the school did take some actions following the incident, but called the changes minor.

“It was just precautionary measures that we took,” said Matthews.

“We’ve got some good people and good students in this district and we are here to make sure they are alright,” he said.

Armbruster’s celebrate 60th anniversary

Pete and Helen Armbruster celebrated their 60th anniversary with family and friends. The Armbruster’s were married Feb. 12, 1945, in Marion, Ohio.

Pete contributes their successful marriage to hard work, understanding, love and devotion. Because of their love, they share their life, faith and wisdom with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The lovebirds spent the day sharing stories and spending time with the family.

Barragan completes basic training

Army Pvt. Monica V. Barragan has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

She is the daughter of Elodia M. Valles of Pecos.

Barragan is a 2004 graduate of Pecos High School.

Martinez ends basic training in U.S. Army

Army Pvt. Marisela J. Martinez has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

She is the daughter of Maria D. and Ariel Martinez of Pecos.

Martinez is a 2004 graduate of Pecos High School.

Modern Study Club holds art/poetry program

The Modern Study Club met at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 12, in the home of Joyce and Donald Morton for an Art Department Program entitled, “Let’s Write Poetry”: The members are present, There’s paper and pen; We have an idea - Let the writing begin.” The thought-quote for the program was - “To create one’s own world takes courage” - Georgia O’Keefe.

Mrs. Morton, who is chairman of the Arts Department, chaired the program. She told that poetry is a form of literature, spoken or written, that emphasizes rhythm, other intricate patterns of sound and imagery, and the many ways that words can suggest meaning. Ordinary speech and writing, called prose, are organized in sentences and paragraphs. Poetry is organized into units called lines and stanzas.

Mrs. Morton continued telling about iambic pentameter, the most common metrical pattern in poetry, written in English, which alternates weak unstressed syllables and strong stressed syllables to make a ten syllable line. As an example Catherine Travland read “Block City” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The poem “Dears” by Christini Rossetti was read by Nan Cate and demonstrated the removal of two syllables from each line resulting in a different feel and pace - the tetrameter line. With the removal of two more syllables - six syllable trimiter lines move even more quickly. “Beachhead” by Derek Walcott, 1986, was read by Margie Williamson.

In addition to creating balanced rhythms through the use of meter, poets give richness to their language through shadings of sounds, orchestrating the musical quality of vowel sounds and consonants through the words use. The most familiar form of sound patterning is end rhyme: This probably was Anonymous, 1765 was read by Etta Bradley. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with unrhymed verse with seventeen syllables in Japanese - in English the lines are five syllables, seven syllables, then five. Many examples of Haiku were read by various members. Haiku represents the culture and religion of Japan.

Poetry has been a form of communication for centuries, with scripts dates 3000 years ago.

Following Mrs. Morton’s comments and the reading of examples of poetry by club members, those in attendance tried their abilities at writing a poem.

President Lena Harpham presided during the business meeting. During opening ceremonies Margie Williamson led the Club Collect and Martha Jay led the pledges to the United States of America Flag and the Texas Flag as those present repeated with them in unison.

During unfinished business, a check was prepared for mailing to Midland College/Fort Stockton Campus for Brittany Lobstein, recipient of the 2004 Modern Study Club - Pecos High School Senior Scholarship.

Also, the selection of a candidate of The Modern Study Club for competition for the Alma Van Sickle Scholarship given by Western District, the ordering of Books for Babies for Newborn packets at Reeves County Hospital, and the Literary/Musical Performance - “Riders on the Orphan Train” the MSC is helping to finance, were discussed.

Nan Cate, Parliamentarian and chairman of Constitution and By Laws Standing Committee led a discussion concerning possible changes in the By-Laws. Paula Fuller, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, also discussed fund raisers.

Western District First Vice-President Catherine Travland reported that The Modern Study Club’s, Club Profile, had been sent to Ann Barton, chairman of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs archives at North Texas State University in Denton. She also told that Ms. Barton had received the Western District yearbook and was very pleased with it’s contents and the preserving of those contents for WD-TFWC History.

Hostesses Paula Fuller and Lena Harpham served delicious refreshments to the eleven members present.

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