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Friday, December 2, 2005

Filing period opens Saturday for election

Potential candidates for local offices can start throwing their hats in the ring on Saturday, the first day to file for a position on the ballot in the March elections.

Individuals who would like to file for a position can contact Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Dean at 940-4944.

Dean will also set up a temporary office at the old Greyhound bus station at Third and Cypress streets, and will have the appropriate paperwork to fill out on hand.

Positions up for re-election include the position of Reeves County Judge, County Court-At-Law Judge, Reeves County Clerk, District Clerk, Reeves County Treasurer, Reeves County Commissioners Precincts 2 and 4, the Reeves County Attorney’s unexpired term and the four Justice of the Peace positions.

The last day to file for a position will be Jan. 2.

Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said she would be in her office until 6 p.m. on that day to help anyone wanting to file a treasurer’s designation.

Several voting boxes will also be moved to another location, effective March 7.

The Toyah voting box will be moved to the city’s Senior Citizen’s Center; while Box 11 - Bessie Haynes Elementary, will be moved to the Reeves County Civic Center and the Balmorhea voting box will be moved from the Balmorhea Fire Hall to the Balmorhea Library.

Commissioners take step towards fund loss claim

Reeves County Commissioners approved a resolution to notify the county’s insurers of fund losses in the Reeves County Attorney’s office, while also approving new equipment for the Reeves County Civic Center and proposals for insurances during their regular meeting held Monday at the courthouse.

Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens told the group that they needed to notify the surety (insurer) of a loss, which is part of an investigation into the office of Reeves County Attorney Luis Carrasco, who resigned in October.

“We need to notify surety’s of loss and put them on notice,” said Owens.

The loss notification comes after an investigation by the Texas Rangers revealed that there were some funds missing from the county attorney’s office.

Richard C. Slack, who was appointed interim county attorney in November, said he had been told the overall losses amounted to about $30,000, but an exact amount of county money involved has not be formally announced.

“We don’t know how much it is, but we needed to notify them that there has been a loss,” said Owens.

County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo asked Owens to draft the resolution so that it could be submitted.

The group approved the purchase of new tables and chairs for the Reeves County Civic Center.

Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson was on hand to discuss the problem with the commissioners.

“We need tables desperately out there,” said Gholson.

Gholson said that she had spoken to a Sam’s Club employee who assured her that they had 29 of the tables that the civic center needed.

Galindo said that since they were buying tables, that they needed to go ahead and purchase the chairs that were needed as well.

The group approved the purchase of 13, four packs of the 8-foot plastic tables from Sam’s and 400 steel chairs from Viking.

The Public Officials Liability Insurance bid went to Rogers and Belding of El Paso. Owens told the group that there were two bidders and the El Paso group offered what the county needed.

The Law Enforcement Liability Insurance bid was also awarded to Rogers and Belding. In other action, commissioners approved RCDC lease and maintenance payments during their regular meeting.

New hires included at the Reeves County Detention Center III, as Correctional Officers at a starting salary of $22,880, Cristian Diaz, Christopher Lara, Esteban Lozoya, Velma Payan, Jose Ramirez, Damion Arreguy and Newton Painter.

Temporary building contractors hired at the prison were Jesus Franco and Lorenzo Salinas at $12.50 an hour.

At the Reeves County Clerk’s Office, Vanessa Hidalgo was approved to continue her employment in that office, helping out with different duties at $6 an hour.

Deal reached on four-way split of bed tax funds


Tow n of Pecos City and Pecos Chamber of Commerce officials agreed on an even spilt of hotel-motel bed tax funds to the four groups receiving funds during a special meeting of the hotel-motel bed tax committee on Wednesday.

The funds will be divided , under a one-year test agreement, between the Chamber, its advertising committee, the West of the Pecos Museum and the Pecos Main Street program, while the Chamber will keep $22,000 in funds it has had in its account for the past three years, since an overpayment by the city to the Chamber in 2002. The deal must still be approved by the Pecos City Council at a future meeting.

The agreement for now ends a long dispute on the division of the city’s hotel-motel bed tax revenues, after revenues surpassed the $160,000 mark annually on which the former contract was based. That agreement gave the Main Street program $8,700 each quarter, while the West of the Pecos Museum will get 27 percent of the remaining hotel/motel tax, the Chamber’s advertising committee will get 36 percent of the total and the Chamber’s general fund will get 37 percent.

The 25 percent split was proposed earlier this year by the city, but the split was rejected by Chamber of Commerce board members. During the last bed tax committee meeting in mid-November, Chamber president and bed tax committee member Jimmy Dutchover was asked to do up budgets for the Chamber using both formulas for Wednesday’s meeting.

Dutchover presented the results of two options for sharing the bed tax fund on the budgets of the Chamber and the three other groups. The first option maintained the current spit up to the $160,000 cap, while dividing funds above that equally and turning over the excess Chamber funds to the Main Street program, while the second budget split all bed tax funds equally between the four groups.

Under the first formula, the Main Street program would receive an additional $5,369 in each quarter, which along with the $8,700 payment would increase its funding by 13 percent. The museum would receive $41,523, which would be a one-percent decrease, while the advertising committee would lose $2,362 and the Chamber $2,577, representing 4.3 and 4.8 percent losses respectively.

Dutchover said the 25 percent split would leave the Chamber short $11,000 in funding for operations.

“We need that money for the budget,” Dutchover said, adding that the first option, “was the fairest solution I could come up with.”

“The directors felt if we bridged the gap little by little is would be less of a shock for all,” he said.

Dutchover said the Museum’s funding loss under Plan 1 would be $400 per year. “I hope that’s money you can come up with from someplace else,” Dutchover told museum representatives at the Wednesday meeting.

“In reality, if you kept your $22,000 for the one-year contract, you’d be able to operate at a deficit, and we could look at it next year,” said committee member Bill Oglesby.

City manager Joseph Torres said he supported the 25 percent split based on an financial review done by Dan Painter of the bed tax fund usage. “When I look at the review Dan Painter produced, I felt we have to start from scratch, and not go back to 2001,” he said. “I want to look at 25 percent across the board because we know after a year it might change.” “I really didn’t want to go back and give back the money the Chamber got in 2001. I wanted to start fresh,” Torres said.

Oglesby noted that the Main Street program is entering the third year of operation, which is the final year in which it will be eligible for major outside assistance by the State of Texas. “To me, we’ve got one more year of the state helping us, so we need to work hard this year,” he said. “The advertising committee has surplus funds.”

He also noted that under proposals to renovate the Reeves County Civic Center and the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena under the venue tax proposal passed in May, the Chamber offices may relocate to the Civic Center, which would cut down on the city’s maintenance and operation costs on the Chamber’s building next to the West of the Pecos Museum. “I think 25 percent across the board, with the Chamber having a surplus and the advertising committee having a surplus is fair,” he said. “We can look at renegotiating this in a year or 18 months when it (the yet-to-be created venue tax fund board) gets on its feet.”

“Given all this, and all the surpluses we have in the committees I feel we should split the funds 25 percent across the board,” said mayor Dot Stafford. “It’s fair, at least for this year.”

Water projects short of funds, city report says

Pecos City Council members were given a briefing on the long-awaited water and sewer report for the city by an Austin consultant during a special meeting on Wednesday at City Hall, and were then criticized by Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo over the city’s failure to maintain financial responsibility over the past five years towards preparing for a series of state-mandated projects over the next five years.

However, no action was taken on an ordinance to implement sharply higher water rates for the city on Wednesday, pending a delay so that Galindo and other Reeves County officials could study the report from Water Resources Management. A special meeting was set for Tuesday afternoon, at which time the county will present its reply to the report and the council will consider the rate increases.

City officials in September gave tentative approval to the increase in water and sewer rates, pending the completion of the water report. The plan approved would increase the base water rate for residential customers by $3.41, from $5.89 for 2,000 gallons of water monthly to $9.30. The base sewer line rate will climb from $7/01 to $11.08.

However, most residents will be seeing much larger increases in their bills, based on average monthly water usage. City Manager Joseph Torres said at the time the average residential customer in Pecos uses about 11,000 gallons of water monthly, and they will see an increase in their monthly bills of $13.08 a month in water fees and $11 a month in sewer rates.

Nalissa Fullerton with Water Resources Management, made the PowerPoint presentation to the council outlining the key points of the report, and handed out a booklet on the report’s findings and the consulting group’s recommendations. She noted that the city has not increased its water rates for a decade, while inflation has increased costs and the city’s water and sewer system has deteriorated.

“Pecos specifically has a lot of infrastructure that is old clay pipes that have deteriorated,” she said. “There are a lot of pipes that are leaking, so you are paying for water treatment that is leaking into the ground, and your sewer lines are leaking wastewater into the ground, which can seep back into the water table. That can be a violation of state law.”

Fullerton added that in addition to the leaking sewer lines, the city also is facing the cost of rebuilding its wastewater treatment plant within the next five years.

“These are things the city has no other choice but to do. By state law you have to maintain these things for the safety of residents.”

The other major cost the city is facing five years from now is assumption of the bond payment for the construction of the new South Worsham Water Field. Reeves County has been making the $350,000 annual payment for the past five years for development of the field, under an agreement in which the city agreed to improve the water and sewer lines to the Reeves County Detention Center, which uses 17 percent of Pecos’ water annually.

Fullerton noted in the report that 86 percent of the city’s water customers are residential users, but they use only 46 percent of the water. The report also said that the number of water customers in the city has declined by about 1 percent a year in recent years, and that decline was projected to continue, which would further decrease the city’s water revenues, while costs were expected to rise from $2.1 million today to $2.8 million in 2010, while wastewater costs would jump from $1.9 to $2.6 million during that same time period.

Fullerton said the city has no capital improvement plan in place, and that it may have trouble getting funding from the state for those projects, due to several deals allowing below-cost or free water use to the county. “Future debt service prohibits water giveaways,” she said.

Galindo’s objections came at the end of the two-hour meeting, and centered around the lack of mention in the report of the 2001 deal between the city and county on the South Worsham Field project, and on the city’s transfer of water and sewer funds into the General Fund, in order to make up for recent budget deficits.

“We were down to eight years of life in the water fields, and the community came together to create a new water field to provide 50 years of life,” he said, while questioning the council’s decision on the current budget to transfer $600,000 from the water and sewer fund to the General Fund.

He said by spending the money on regular city operations, the council was taking away funds that should be used on the upcoming water and sewer projects.

“The county has taken the first the first 10 years in order to allow the city to make adjustments, but adjustments have not been made,” Galindo told the council.

“When you’re pulling $600,000 out of (water) funds, how long are you going to defer maintenance?” he asked, while saying the county had made tougher budget cuts than the city has done two years ago, when problems making bond payments for the new RCDC III unit forced commissioners to lay off personnel and take money out of the county’s General Fund.

Fullerton said under state law some water funds can be used for General Fund purposes, and councilman Frank Sanchez said, “When the man from TWDB (Texas Water Development Board) was here one or two years ago, he said Pecos was not too much out of line as far as (water fund) transfers.”

“You have said what the county has done, but what needs to be said is what the city has done,” said councilman Danny Rodriguez, citing the new line construction to the prison. “I’m glad the county has been a good neighbor, and we want to be a good neighbor, but it’s what the presenter said, the costs are still there.”

The council did agree to a request by Galindo to delay and action on the first reading of the city ordinance raising water rates.

“I would like you to consider a 72 hour delay before you take any action,” he said. “Some of us who are very interested in this study have only had 24 hours to look at it.”

Galindo said the delay would allow the county’s consultants to study the water report and develop a formal reply to the proposals. “We would move as fast as possible,” he said. “While we have access to the end result, we have not had access to the usage data.”

The council then approved a delay on action on the water rates until a special meeting, scheduled for Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. at City Hall.

Organizers say X-mas parade spots still open

“What Christmas Means To Me,” is the theme for this year’s Pecos Christmas Parade, set for Friday through the central and downtown sections of the city.

Lineup will start at 5:30 p.m., at the Pecos High School Band Hall parking lot and the parade will begin at 6 p.m.

The parade will travel down Eddy Street, turn right on Third Street, go down Oak and end up at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Hot chocolate and cookies will be served to all parade goers, compliments of the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone wanting to join the parade can call the chamber office at 445-2406 or join the lineup at 5:30 p.m., at the PHS parking lot.

Fall board meeting hosted by The Modern Study Club

The 40th Annual Fall Board Meeting of the Western District of Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was hosted by The Modern Study Club at the Best Western Swiss Clock Inn in Pecos on Oct. 15, with the theme, “Empowering Our Members.”

Eunice Vincent of Alpine gave the invocation.

President Mary Vongsavath of Alpine presided at this informative meeting attended by District Board members and guests who represented the 25 counties of Texas that include Brewster, Crockett, Ector, Howard, Martin, Midland, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Sterling, Terrell, Tom Green, Upton and Ward. Members and guests were given complimentary glucose, blood pressure and body mass screen tests upon registering in the morning by Reeves County Hospital medical personnel.

Following opening ceremonies President Lena Harpham of The Modern Study Club welcomed attendees to Pecos and the response was given by Judy Roberts.

District officers and chairmen of programs gave their reports during the morning session. Individual club packets were distributed to clubs. They contained information about TFWC Reporting guidelines and state scholarship information. The Penny Art Scholarship is the rotating scholarship that Western District is eligible for in 2006 in addition to the 1903 UT Austin, Billie McMahon and Simmang Scholarships that are available annually. All clubs can nominate a candidate for these scholarships and the deadline is Jan. 10, 2006 to District Scholarship Chair.

Nelda Roberson, of Alice, TFWC LEADS Representative 2005 gave an informative presentation on the Leadership Education Development Seminar (LEADS) for which clubwomen can apply. The LEADS Representatives can then attend the seminar to be given during the GFWC International Annual Convention 2006. Ms. Roberson was most enthusiastic about Federation work and accomplishments.

Nancy Williams of Monahans presented “In Memoriam” prior to luncheon. Margie Williamson said table grace for the noon meal. Luncheon Guest Speaker, Dr. K.M.L.S.T. Moorthi, nephrologists, talked on “Guide to Wellness, the Diabetic and Non-Diabetic Patient.” Dr. Moorthi is affiliated with Reeves County Hospital and Medical Director of the Dialysis Center of the hospital. Questions and answers followed. President Vongsavath presented Dr. Moorthi with a GFWC Medalion as a thank you.

Catherine Travland of The Modern Study Club and First Vice President of The Modern Study Club presided during the “Polishing Our Sparkles” portion of the meeting following lunch. WD Chairman of Pecos reported as follows: Arts Dept. - Arts in the Community and Photograph Contests - Joyce Morton; Conservation - Betty Lee; Education Dept. - Education for Life Program - Catherine Travland; International Affair Dept. - Reaching Out Internationally - Lena Harpham. Margie Williamson also serves on the WD Board as WD Photographer.

Margie Williamson was recognized for having been named a Life Member of Western District of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. Mrs. Williamson has served Federation for 33 years, two in Ralls, Tx. and 31 through The Modern Study Club of Pecos. She has served five, two year Western District Administrations as District Photographer and had begun that work several years before the title became official. Mrs. Williamson, joined by the late Bonnie Cearley, a longtime Pecos resident, saw the need for more recognition in WD of TFWC through The Texas Clubwoman magazine and the partnership of photos by Williamson and cutlines by Cearley was formed. President Vongsavath presented a GFWC Medalion to the honoree.

Other awards went to The Modern Study Club, the Club Merit Award; Hazel Barmore of Alpine, the oldest member; and Bo Fryar of Coahoma, traveling the farthest.

The District Board approved the “Asian International Medical Scholarship” established by President Vongsavath prior to the convening of the board meeting. This scholarship is funded with monetary funds received from Allied Health Companies in line with President Vongsavath Special Project “Women’s Healthcare in the 21st Century.”

Presidio Valley Woman’s Club extended the invitation to the 46th Annual Spring Convention that will be held on April 7-8, 2006, at the Presidio Activity Center in Presidio.

In their invitation, featured attractions include Ft. Leaton State Historic Site, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Ruidosa, Chinati Hot Springs, OJINAGA (Mexico), Peguis Canyon Overlook. You must come and visit this expanded border town!

Everyone recited the Club Collect and meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m., after which everyone proceeded to the Reeves County Hospital for a guided tour of the new Dialysis Center.

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvements by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.

Ryan, Hidalgo announce wedding plans

Mr. and Mrs. Lee Ryan are proud to announce the approaching marriage of their daughter, April Faye Ryan to Robert Hidalgo, son of Mr. and Mrs. Raul Hidalgo Sr.

The groom is employed by Nabors Drilling.

The couple plan to wed at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, at West Park Baptist Church with the reception following at Saragosa Hall.

Following the marriage, they will make their home in Pecos.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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