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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 25, 2005

Women’s Division working on events for 2005

The Women’s Division of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce is busy throughout the year helping out in different ways and sponsoring a variety of events for the community. The Women’s Division has been busy this month decorating for the Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet scheduled for this Saturday at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“We’ll be decorating this week for the banquet and we are busy throughout the year working on projects,” said Women’s Division President Michelle Workman.

Workman took over the presidency of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Division during the final four months of 2003. President- elect for the group is Shonah Lozano who will take over in 2006.

“We want to carry on with all the traditional events we have worked on in the past,” said Workman.

The Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant is already in the planning stages, according to Workman. “Right now, we have 12 young ladies signed up to run for the title of Golden Girl,” said Workman.

Chairpersons for Golden Girl this year are Maria Villanueva and Melonie Ikeler. Chair individuals for Little Miss Cantaloupe are Rhonda Wade and Mary Tarango.

“The pageant is by far the biggest event for the division of the year, and we need all five remaining months to properly prepare. We are forming committees to handle the event’s public relations campaign, to organize the girls’ travel, to host gatherings with the nominees, to aid in judge selection, decorating as well as many other parts of the event itself.”

Other events sponsored by the women throughout the year include the Mother Goose Parade, Fall Fair Pretty Baby Contest and Christmas Lighting Contest. “In addition to that, off and on, we sponsor a dinner for all the EMT’s and firemen in the community,” said Workman.

Something else that the group is doing is donating money to needy families or a needy organization.

“Last year funds were donated to the local food bank, during the month of November, which that was very crucial,” said Workman. “That’s something new that we started.” A membership drive was held in February, to try to recruit more members in to the organization.

“We are trying to find more members, and would like to encourage all of the women of Pecos to become involved with the division,” said Workman. “We asked all the members to invite a guest to that meeting and for them to consider joining the group.”

She said that some old members did not join the group again because of personal issues, but that they were welcome to come back at any time. “Annual dues are $20 and now, we have some vests that we are purchasing to let everyone know that you are a member of the women’s division, and they cost $30,” said Workman.

“We decided that the organization also needs to be represented in the community and we thought this would be a good way,” she added.

Workman said that there are no criteria to join the group. “You just have to have a willingness to volunteer. If you’re one of those ladies that loves to volunteer and do community service when possible, we need you in our group,” she said.

Currently there are 35 members. “Not all members are able to attend the various projects, but we appreciate the ones that do,” said Workman.

For 2005, the membership increased by eight members. “I think this is something great,” said Workman.

She said that the ladies who are decorating for the banquet are doing a fantastic job. “They have taken their time to come up with ideas that people will be seeing at the banquet,” she said.

In reference to Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant, Workman said she wanted to share with the community that in 2004, $7,549 in scholarships was awarded.

“The reason the number is so high is because not all the ladies have used their scholarship money for some reason or another,” said Workman. “They have up to five years to come back and retrieve their scholarships.”

Some of these scholarships date back to the 2001-2003 period, according to Workman. “A few years back some of these young girls did not retrieve their scholarships and are doing so now,” said Workman.

She said that the group really wanted to thank all the businesses in the community, because the Golden Girl nominees and Little Miss Cantaloupe nominees go out and seek donations. “And that’s really what helps us with Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe,” said Workman.

Without them the event wouldn’t be such a huge success as it is every year, according to Workman.

If anybody would like to help with the Golden Girls they can contact Maria Villanueva or Melonie Ikeler, or call the chamber office. For Little Miss Cantaloupe they can contact Rhonda Wade or Mary Tarango.

“It’s thanks to all these volunteers that all are projects are made possible,” said Workman.

Flores among 12 Texas teachers honored in Austin

Staff Writer

A Pecos elementary school teacher had a ‘wonderful’ experience in Austin recently after being honored with an award for her outstanding teaching abilities.

Bessie Haynes fifth-grade teacher Debbie Flores was honored with an award from the Texas Exes and the College of Education at the University of Texas.

The groups annually recognize 10 Texas high school teachers and two elementary school teachers who are inspiringly supportive of their students and who bring credit to the teaching profession.

Flores was nominated for the honor by Region 18.

“I had a wonderful time, from the minute we got there to the time we left, they treated us great,” said Flores. “They told us this is your weekend.”

Flores said that teachers from all over West Texas were on hand for the occasion. “There were 11 of us there, the other teacher was sick and couldn’t make it,” said Flores. “These teachers came all the way from Sugarland to the other side of Lubbock,” she said.

Flores said that she met a teacher from Midland. “His daughter goes to McMurray with my daughter,” she said.

Theme for the event was, “The heart of the melody can never be put down on paper,” - Pablo Casals.

“They told us that all teachers bring something different to the classroom,” said Flores. Her family, along with Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Superintendent Ray Matthews and his wife and Bessie Haynes Principal John Fabela and his wife, joined Flores at the awards ceremony.

“It was great that they call could be there to join me,” said Flores. “I felt very proud and happy,” she said.

Thursday the group held an informal meal, banquet and representatives from the University of Texas and the Senate were hand. “Legislators were there as well,” said Flores.

Porky Hammerman began this event 12 years ago. “He is an educator, but has no children of his own,” she said. “He treated all of us just great, anything we wanted, it was right there.”

Flores said that she had the opportunity to meet a lot of people that really enjoy what they are doing. “They are so enthusiastic about their jobs and they really know what they are doing and enjoy it,” she said.

On Friday, the group enjoyed a luncheon, with Texas Comptroller Carol Strayhorn, the event’s guest speaker.

At Friday’s banquet there were over 400 people in attendance, according to Flores. “I just had such a great time and it was a big honor to even be there,” said Flores. Since 1986, they have awarded the Texas Excellence Awards for Outstanding Teachers to 191 teachers across the state.

In addition, more than 3,000 teachers have received local recognition. The awards are presented on the University of Texas campus as the culmination of the two-day Conference on Texas Excellence in Education.

Flores was born and raised in Pecos. She attended Pecos High School and graduated from Western College in Wichita Falls. She later received her Master’s Degree from Sul Ross. Her first teaching position was at Pecos Kindergarten where she taught for half of a semester, before they moved her to Austin Elementary where she taught fourth grade.

Chamber, Gholson helping with new projects

Staff Writer

Helping existing businesses and any new businesses that would like to relocate in the area are some of the goals the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce will be working on in the future.

“We have several things that we’re going to be focusing on in the future, including helping out all the businesses,” said executive director Linda Gholson. She added that the group would also be working on several projects, in conjunction with the Town of Pecos City and Reeves County.

Youth Day will be held at Maxey Park on March 12. “This event is being sponsored in conjunction with the city and all the organizations,” said Gholson about the first-time event.

Chair individuals for the event are Main Street Director Tom Rivera and city secretary Connie Levario.

“Our plans are to have this event more often, so that the youth in the community will have something fun to do,” said Gholson.

The event will consist of games throughout the day and a concert in the evening, according to Gholson.

Gholson’s duties as the Chamber’s executive director include promoting membership with companies and individuals; creating a positive public relations and addressing the needs of members, promote/support vision and collaborate ideas. She has served on the board of directors for several years and was president of the organization twice, in 1992 and 1999 before taking over in 2002 for Rivera, who held the job for 10 years before becoming director of the city’s Main Street program.

Gholson also currently serves as president of the Reeves County Hospital District board, and is a former Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board member.

“As part of our goals, we will continue to work on our membership, to help our existing businesses and welcome any new businesses to the area,” said Gholson. “We’re also going to strive to work with other organizations for the benefit of the area.”

Gholson said that the group would focus on helping with the quality of life and welfare of the citizens in the area.

“The Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame and Main Street are two projects that we have been working on and both are doing really well,” said Gholson. “Hopefully, by next Thursday we’ll have an architect from the Historical Commission come and take a look at some things.”

Pecos’ acceptance in the state’s Main Street program came two years ago and was an effort that had begun with former director Tom Rivera. “It’s thanks to him that he had gotten the ball rolling and had been working on this for two years, in making it self-initiated,” said Gholson

She said the Main Street work would tie in to the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame that will be located in the former Missouri-Pacific depot located at the foot of South Oak Street. “We’re very enthused about getting things done at the depot, it’s an added attraction to the museum and the Pecos Bill Park, located next to the museum,” said Gholson.

The Chamber is also looking forward to working on the West of the Pecos Rodeo and the junior rodeo. The rodeo committee did a great job planning the annual West of the Pecos Rodeo and sponsored the ranch rodeo, which was a two-day event last year, Gholson said.

The Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse sponsored nightly dances during the rodeo and hosted the Annual Barbecue Beef Cook-off during the fall fair.

The 4th of July Parade was a success, with the same group working on the Christmas Parade.

Other events the chamber is dedicated to, including the Annual Flea Market and Auction. The parade committee also took care of the Christmas Parade.

The Women’s Division, which is in charge of the Annual Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant is busy throughout the year with various activities and projects. The women are an extension of the chamber of commerce and are also in charge of decorating the Reeves County Civic Center in preparation for the awards banquet scheduled for Thursday.

Night in Old Pecos, held during the 4th of July activities, was a huge success.

“We want to mention the West of the Pecos Museum, because that the largest drawing card for the area that is year round,” said Gholson.

“I have really, really enjoyed being at the chamber and my job is so much easier and better because of the help and support that I have had,” said Gholson. “The things we have been able to do are because of the people involved.”

Officials see future problems as local land sells

Internet land sales in West Texas, which helped raise the value of land in Reeves County last year, are continuing in 2005. But re-sales of that same property and reclassification of the land is expected to cost local taxing entities more money than the higher valuations will bring in.

Reeves County Chief Appraiser Carole King-Markham noted the new type of land sales last July, when the final appraisals for 2004 were released. Markham said on Thursday that those sales are still going on involving more than a dozen blocks of land in Reeves County, and the San Antonio Express-News reported last week the same types of land sales have been taking place in counties to the south and west of Reeves.

“It affects both the school districts, the county and the entire hospital district. It’s just a handful to keep track of it,” Markham said. “We are reappraising because the values keep changing.”

Markham said a land-buyer, who she identified as Dave Pardun of Phoenix, Ariz., began the current Internet land sales within the county, while Zazar Land out of San Diego, Calif., also has been selling sections of land within the county.

Pardun and Zazar Land are then reselling their land in smaller sections to buyers over the Internet, though Internet auction sites like e-bay. “They divide it up so many ways and sell it, and then they (Internet buyers) divide it up so many ways. But they really don’t care, that’s not why they’re buying it,” Markham said of those who bid on the land in Internet auctions sight unseen.

“They are getting it for tax write-offs and then are splitting it up to sell to other people,” said Markham, who added that in some case, land being bought isn’t even owned by the person selling the property.

“It’s very time-consuming and costly for the rural districts. We don’t have time to do bookkeeping,” Markham said, while the buyers also have problems at times understanding the state’s property value laws.

“It’s very difficult for those out-of-state and out-of-country people to try and understand Texas law,” Markham said, though during the 2004 appraisal period, there were no protests filed over the higher valuation of the land after its initial sale.

The state law includes a “rollback” tax, which takes effect when land it taken out of agricultural use. “It doesn’t come into effect when the land is first sold, but then when it’s re-sold it does,” Markham said. “One guy tried to sell his five acres into 50 pieces.”

“They just called me to try and understand it, but nobody filed a protest or came down,” she said. “I told one they should come to the review board hearing and he said ‘I’m not coming to Texas, everybody’s crazy down there’.”

Markham said while the local taxing entities can collect extra money though the rollback penalty, “It’s not enough to make up for the costs involved in doing all the reappraisal work.” She added that if the owner then opts to give up paying taxes the land, it goes back into agricultural use, and the valuations are lowered.

The tax appraisal office isn’t the only one being kept busy by the rash of land sales. The Reeves County Clerk’s office also has been dealing with a sudden spike in the number of deed filings in recent months, though County Clerk Diane Florez said some of those are leases and are connected with the increased oil and natural gas drilling activity in the county.

“So far we’ve had 633 since the first of the year, and we already have some more,” Florez said on Wednesday. “Probably at the end of the day we’ll have about 650.” She added that the office has made about 21,000 copies of property records since the first of the year.

“Our office has been like this since May. We always have 7-10 people per day,” Florez said. “Right now the girls have been running copies since this morning. We had one receipt for $453 in copies.”

“Some of them have called or come by to ask where the whereabouts of the property is,” Florez said. Markham’s map at the appraisal office shows the sales have come from two sections near Orla, two along Interstate 20 between Toyah and the Interstate 10 junction, two other sections just north of I-20 west of Toyah and west of Pecos, and six sections located between I-10 and I-20 in the south-central and eastern parts of Reeves County. Other sections of land around the county also are involved, but have not been officially marked out yet on the appraisal district’s map

“Dave Pardun started it here and he’s running rampant. He doesn’t keep it long,” Markham said. “It reminds me of those pyramid schemes.”

Pardun has been involved in land sales for several years, and came under investigation in 2001 by the Arizona Department of Real Estate for selling land in the Grand Canyon area of that state though Internet auction sites. In their report, the state agency said Pardun bought 35 lots south of the Grand Canyon in a tax sale and resold six or more lots without obtaining a public report.

The state report said Pardun placed advertisements through two Internet services identifying locations and dimension of six or more lots within the Development which he was offering for sale. Pardun told the Real Estate Department officials that buyers placed bids on the properties which sold for approximately $1,100 to $3,000 each.

The report went on to state that Pardun voluntarily discontinued all sales within the development upon notification from the Department. In a settlement of the case, Padrun agreed to cease and desist from selling or offering for sale any lots in the Development until he complied with all state laws and obtain public reports before offering any land for sale.

He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to offer rescission to each of the purchasers to whom he sold lots.

Zazar Land has the most listings on e-bay’s website, after buying 8,500 acres west of Valentine in Jeff Davis and Presidio counties, the Express-News reported. It then turned around and sold the land in 10- and 20-acre plots, some sections going for as little as $200 an acre. Markham said the land sales in Reeves County have gone for as low as $600 an acre.

The Express-News said more tan 400 land parcels have been sold, and Jeff Davis County Clerk Sue Blackley told the paper “We’ve done 1,000 pages of deeds in January on this property alone. Normally 1,000 pages lasts about four months.”

“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who call and say ‘I’m online right now. I have to make a decision. I only have so much time left to buy this land,” said Joann Lujan, an assistant in the Presidio County Appraisal District office.

“They ask if there is electricity or water and what is the nearest town or city. We advise them there is nothing out there,” she said.

Other land in Brewster, Culberson and Hudspeth counties is also being offered for sale over the Internet.

The Express-News said some unsatisified buyers already have complained to state officials, but as of now, no fraud has been found.

“The only thing we could take action on is on something like the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, but if you look at the web sites, they tell people there is no survey, no water, no utilites,” said Jim Daross, an assistant state attorney general based in El Paso. Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch publisher Bob Dillard said West Texas has seen numerous dubious land offerings in the past.

“Barnum is right. The suckers are jumping all over this deal, and it will come to haunt us,” said Dillard, who formerly served as county judge for Jeff Davis County. “The system will bog down trying to collect taxes, trying to foreclose.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gomez cites gains during years as president

The improvement of venues to attract out-of-town visitors, along with the implementation of the Texas Main Street Program in Pecos are among the accomplishments Al Gomez points to, during his two years as president of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.

Gomez, who runs Alfredo’s Restaurant on South Cedar Street, also said improving service to customers by local businesses was one of the goals he sought when he took over the president’s job in 2003.

“When I talked to Linda (Gholson, executive director for the Chamber) that first year about the services, I felt we had to be more service-oriented,” said Gomez, who was the first Chamber president to serve for two consecutive years in the job.

“We still need more to offer. We need more businesses to come to town, more restaurants and more hotels and motels,” Gomez said. “We need to exploit the I-20 corridor. We’ve got a lot of real estate out there and we’re not utilizing it.”

He also said the city needs to build up businesses along U.S. 285, the main north-south corridor through Pecos. “There are a lot of people coming up 285 from New Mexico going to Austin or Houston, and we’re not exploiting it.”

Gomez thanked his board of directors for their work over the past two years, along with officials from the Town of Pecos City and Reeves County Hospital in working with the Chamber. He also noted the Chamber’s participating with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD in refurbishing Eagle Stadium and installing artificial turf at the facility, in order to attract more playoff games to the city.

“We went into it with the kids in mind, We knew the kids would benefit from this venture and wanted the kids to enjoy a facility like this and know it will be good for the community,” he said. “We can use it for all kinds of events, like summer soccer and pee-wee football, and for economic reasons.

“We felt if we provided a first-class venue in Pecos we could start bringing some out-of-town dollars into Pecos, and hopefully we’ll receive the benefits of this in the future,” said Gomez, who noted the effort to attract playoff games began under former President Kevin Duke in 2002. “The good news is we were able to have this without passing a bond issue or a tax hike.”

“We also were involved in working closely with the Rodeo Committee in providing a ranch rodeo in Pecos. I want to thank Trevor Teague, Jason Garduno and Clay McKinney for their work on it. I thought it was an excellent idea for a family venue,” he said.

“Also the Chamber was quite involved working at close hand with the Main Street program. I know we attended many meetings in Austin and elsewhere,” Gomez said. Pecos was approved in 2003 to enter the Main Street program, which helps cities restore their downtown areas and entranceways into town.

“That was a good partnership between the Chamber and the city. Hopefully, we can concentrate on that (U.S. 285) tract and downtown, and that will attract more tourism to Pecos,” he said. “As president of the Chamber, it made a believer out of me that we need to work on improving our downtown.”

Gomez also mentioned the Chamber’s support for the current expansion and renovation work at Reeves County Hospital. “It wasn’t something we were involved in directly, but we’ve always supporter the hospital expansion. We always felt it would provide the health care we need locally.”

The expansion included the creation of a new kidney dialysis center for the hospital. “It will help us in the future. Not only will it help the health care in Reeves County but it will bring in people from out-of-town who will spend their money in Pecos,” Gomez said.

Gomez turned over control of the Chamber presidency to Jimmy Dutchover in January, after he served as Gomez’ president-elect. “I know that Jimmy Dutchover will do a good job in the future. He has the same goals that I do, and I think that Jimmy and Vanetta Seals, the new president-elect will carry us through to the future, and as past president I’ll be there to support them.”

Dunaway to discuss weighty topics at banquet

The city of Elign is part of the Texas Main Street Program, and city manager Jim Dunaway in the past year has been part of TV’s Dr. Phil program.

Dunaway will be in Pecos on Saturday to talk about both - the Main Street Program, which Pecos joined just last year, and Dr. Phil with whom he has been participating in a weight loss program involving the entire city of Elgin, when he serves as guest speaker for this year’s Pecos Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Dunaway has worked on the Main Street Program, which the Town of Pecos City officially joined last year, and which Elgin has been a member of since 1990. It also was named a National Main Street Community from 1999 through 2001.

But viewers nationwide have know him for his appearances with Dr. Phil McGraw, whose show selected Elgin to participate in a long-term segment on weight loss, which was featured in the December issue of Texas Monthly.

Dunaway lost 100 pounds as part of his weight loss program for the Dr. Phil Show, which taped a year’s worth of shows in Elgin, which featured Dunaway’s eating habits.

A section of the show’s website is devoted to his weight loss efforts.

"Some people eat to live. I actually live to eat," said Dunaway, who began the program weighing in at 299 pound on his 6-foot frame. "The majority of my food is fast food that I pick up very quickly and eat behind the windshield going down the road."

He told Dr. Phil when his weight loss effort began that his weight gain came from on playing football throughout high school and college. "My weight was always up. I kept it up to play ball. Since that time, I just haven't taken it off," he says. "I have a lifetime of aches and pains."

The town Dunaway manages, Elgin, is located about 20 miles east of Austin and is best-known for its food - specifically, its sausage and barbeque restaurants that attract customers from around Central Texas and other areas.

As far as the Main Street program, the city has invested approximately $7 million in its downtown area in the 14 years since it joined the program, which is sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission to help revitalize small towns’ commercial areas. Most of the buildings in downtown Elgin were built between the late 1870s and the years just after World War II, and the Elgin Commercial Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Main Street is a national approach to saving our heritage by preserving historic downtown areas. Pecos was one of three cities selected by the Texas Historic Commission, Anice Read Main Street Center to become Main Street Cities in 2004, and is currently working on the first major project for the downtown area, the conversion of the former Missouri-Pacific Railroad Depot into the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Along with the appearance by Dunaway as guest speaker, the annual awards for community service will be given out during the Chamber of Commerce banquet, which Chamber Executive Director Linda Gholson said would be held for the first time on a Saturday in 2005.

Hospital gives final OK to ambulance contract

Reeves County Hospital District board members approved a new ambulance contract with the Town of Pecos City on Tuesday, during their regular monthly meeting, while taking no action following a 45-minute executive session to discuss personnel.

The vote to ratify the ambulance contract ends a dispute that has gone on for nearly three years over payments made by the hospital to the city as its share of funding the service. The board members gave final approval to their own offer made at last month’s hospital district meeting, which was then approved by the council during their Feb. 10 meeting. The ambulance service contract is a one-year deal with a base payment by the hospital of $60,000, with a $10,000 cap on any cost overruns. The previous agreement had the hospital paying a $40,000 base total with a $5,000 cap, while the city had sought a three-year deal with a $15,000 cap and the base payment beginning at $60,000 in the first year and increasing by $5,000 each of the next two years.

“I read it and it complies with what they said. I recommend we sign it,” said interim CEO for the hospital, Bill Conder.

Tuesday’s meeting was held in the hospital’s cafeteria, while renovation work is being done to the classroom on the southwest side of the building, part of the ongoing renovation of the older section of the 27-year-old facility. The meeting lasted only an hour, with most of that taken up with the executive session discussion, after which no action was taken.

Hospital board members approved in open session setting May 7 as the date for the hospital district election, and appointed workers for the election. The two-year terms in Precincts 2 and 4, currently held by board president Linda Gholson and Pablo Carrasco, are up for election, while Precinct 3 voters will cast ballots to fill an unexpired term caused by the death of board member Bill Wendt last year.

Debra Thomas was named early voting judge for the election, with Stella Nichols as alternate judge and Ester Alvarez and Nora Briceno as clerks. Judges for the boxes on Election Day will be Briceno at Box 1, the Pecos Community Center; Elodia Garcia at Box 3, the Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center; Susan Renz for Box 4 at the Toyah Senior Citizen’s Center, and Peggy Cox for Box 5, at the Balmorhea Fire Hall.

Board members also approved the monthly tax report, bills and financial report, which showed the hospital took in $1,321,815 in January, which was $109,058 under the projected gross income for the month, but $289,231 above what the hospital took in during January of 2004. The board also tabled action on a property sale in Balmorhea, after no action on the property was taken earlier by the Balmorhea City Council.

New Chamber president seeks to boost participation

Jimmy Dutchover is hoping for more participation from local residents and cooperation between local governmental entities in improving the business and economic climate in Pecos, as he begins his term as president of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce. Dutchover took on the job as president in January, replacing Al Gomez, who has served for the past two years. Dutchover also will have a two-year term as president, and will help preside at Saturday night’s annual Pecos Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. He said he hopes to get more non-Chamber members involved both in the clean-up of Pecos, to make it more attractive to tourists and new businesses, and to boost the city’s future economic situation.

“It requires trust and vision. Hopefully with the city, school board and hospital, if we all work together we can get a lot accomplished,” he said. “The way is to empower people and community leaders, and to find people who haven’t been involved in the past. The challenge is to get more people involved.”

“I’m very fortunate to take over after everything Al’s accomplished,” Dutchover said. “I hope Vanetta (Seals) feels the same way after two years. That’s why we changed the by-laws.

“We learned that from the Rodeo Committee. They used to only have one-year (presidential) terms, and they were a little down, but they went to a two-year term and things are running a lot more smoothly, and the rodeo has come back up,” Dutchover said. “You get in during your first year and you’re learning the ropes, and in your second year you know how to do things and carry our your plans.”

Along with taking over as the Chamber’s president in January, Dutchover also recently began serving on the Pecos Economic Development Corp. board of directors.

“Being involved with the economic development board and now as Chamber president is helpful,” Dutchover said. “There are so many Chamber members involved with the economic development board, I hope we’ll be able to find a way to tie them together and help the Main Street board.”

The Main Street project involves improvements to the downtown area and the older corridors into downtown, such as U.S. 285 and Business I-20. But Dutchover said he also hopes to see increased development of the Interstate 20 corridor from Reeves County Hospital east to U.S. 285.

“We can work from the area around the (West of the Pecos) museum and the area around the hospital, and start working them closer together and begin to see some development,” he said, while also noting the planned expansion to the Reeves County Golf Course can also help increase tourism along the Interstate.

“If we can get people to believe in Pecos, we can be truly successful,” he said. “If we can find a way to make Pecos the hub of a three-country area we can make things more successful, but it requires people working together.”

Local officials hear plans for disaster drill

An orientation and planning meeting to discuss a mock disaster drill involving weapons of mass destruction was held Tuesday at the Reeves County Civic Center. “This was just the orientation and planning meeting,” said Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera.

State officials will stage a mock disaster involving weapons of mass destruction in Pecos in early April, and local officials attended the planning meeting at the Reeves County Civic Center to hear plans for the event from officials of two state agencies.

The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the Division of Emergency Management scheduled the Weapons of Mass Destruction Tabletop Exercise for Reeves County on April 14.

Herrera said that officials from TEEX would be in Pecos on April 14 to conduct the one-day exercise, which will also provide an evaluation element of the local response.

"They also wanted to get some information from us on the type of hazards in Reeves County and to discuss possible terrorism and targets in Reeves County," said Herrera. Herrera said that after the meeting the group rode around town and looked at possible target sites. "These are sites that we want to focus on," he said.

Herrera said that the group will then go back and put together a scenario based on the information for Reeves County.

"On April 14, they’ll bring back that scenario and we’ll play it out," said Herrera. This will be a mock tabletop exercise. "They have three levels you can play it out on, full scale, where everyone is involved and reenacted; functional, where you get people to role-play and get involved; and tabletop, where you re-enact it just at the meeting," said Herrera.

"That’s the one that we’ll be doing, the tabletop," he said.

Herrera said that the mock tabletop exercise will be held at the Civic Center and will involve different people in the community.

"They’ll give us the scenario and we’ll take appropriate action," he said.

Those involved will be local political leaders, department heads, emergency team leaders, potential incident commanders, and key Emergency Operations Center staff. The event will also include senior members of support agencies or organizations such as volunteer group active in disasters, schools or private industry and representatives of state and federal agencies with a presence in the local area that may be called on to assist local government during a major emergency.


Maria Wright, Paual Goff, Douglas Paschal

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