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Thursday, January 27, 2000

Council voices support for PEDC's work

Staff Writer
PECOS, Jan. 27, 2000 - The Town of Pecos City, City Council had nothing but praise for the Pecos Economic Development Corp.,  this morning during the regular meeting of the council.

All members of the council were present except mayor pro tem Danny Rodriguez.

"These guys (PEDC) have done a good job this year. Gari (Ward) and his board of directors have been instrumental in helping Mr. (Joe) Hoodenpyle get the dairy started and attracting the Odessa College campus to Pecos," councilman Johnny Terrazas said.

Mike Burkholder, vice chairman of the PEDC board of directors gave a short report to the council.

"In think we've done a good job, especially with attracting Odessa College. The college should be worth a lot to Pecos in the future," Burkholder said.

"I give all credit to Gary. Although the dairy would have probably happened anyway, Gary has been very helpful to him, and he was instrumental in bringing Odessa College here," he said.

Ward, director for PEDC, told the council that the corporation had found a way to fund the renovation of the White's Auto Building that was donated for the campus site in Pecos.

"I'm happy to report that an EDA grant for $860,000 has been approved for funding in Washington," he said.

Ward added that he expected the bid for the renovation project to be awarded next Thursday, Feb. 3.

He also reported that Odessa College had applied for a Department of Education Grant for $450,000, renewable for five years, to help fund campus operations.

Members of the PEDC board of directors are Burkholder, Pauline Moore, Oscar Saenz, David Dutchover and Frank Spencer, Ward said.

In other action today, the council discussed the broken water well at the Reeves County Golf Course.

According to City Finance Director Steve McCormick, the well went down before Christmas and is needed by greenskeeper Royce Cassel to water the fairways.

The well is owned by the city and used by the county for watering the fairways as part of the agreement the city made with the county when the county agreed to take over operations of the golf course, McCormick said.

The problem is that the city agreed to supply water to the golf course, the city doesn't want the golf course to use drinking water to water the fairways, and the well is the alternative source, McCormick said.

City Water Superintendent Octavio Garcia estimated that it would take $7,000 to fix the existing well.

A long discussion ensued concerning the city's obligations to the county as to fixing the well and supplying water to the golf course.

"We don't want them to use drinking water to water the fairways," McCormick said, "and we don't want to have to keep paying the bill to keep this well in operation."

McCormick estimated that it costs the city $50,000 a year to operate the well.

McCormick's suggestion was to drill the county a new well and give it to the county, but not to accept any further maintenance obligation for the new well.

Councilman Terrazas asked if the city could ask the county to foot the bill for repairing the well.

"We fixed it the last time it broke and it seems like the county would be willing to fix it this time," he said.

"We've agreed to provide water to the golf course," City Attorney Scott Johnson said, "but that is all the city has agreed to do."

Councilman Ricky Herrera suggested drawing up an agreement with Reeves County where the city would not have sole responsibility for maintaining the well.

"My first concern is that we keep the golf course in good shape for the citizens of Pecos. My second concern is that we honor our obligations. It is my hope that we can work something out with the county that would be acceptable," Herrera said.

"Negotiations haven't been going well with the county on anything," Terrazas said. "We don't want them using city water for this but I don't think the city should have to pay for fixing the well every time it breaks."

The council finally voted to fix the well and to bring up the future obligations regarding the well at the upcoming mediation scheduled between the county and the city regarding an ongoing dispute over out-of-town water rates, centering on charges for water used by the Reeves County Detention Center.

The mediation is scheduled to begin on Feb. 8 in Austin, Mayor Dot Stafford said.

All members of the council voted for the resolution except for Terrazas who voted against it.

The council also heard from Frank Spencer and Associates and authorized the firm to advertise for bids on the construction costs associated with closing the existing landfill.

Spencer's firm estimated that it would take $396,000 to complete the project.

City Finance Director Steve McCormick told the council that the money was available in the city's bond fund.

The council also discussed a law enforcement firing range and training area. Police Chief Clay McKinney recommended that the city build a new facility on existing city land.

Currently, local law enforcement utilizes the Rifle Range south of town that is controlled by the Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club.

McKinney also presented a safety evaluation he commissioned that evaluated safety concerns at the existing Club range.

According to the report the first concern deals with bullets flying over the current backstops (berms) when law enforcement officers practice "speed rock or hip shooting" drills.

The report stated that the firing line needed to be closer to the berm to prevent accidental firing of projectiles over the top of the backstop.

The second problem dealt with the fence around the range. The report stated that with the current fence it was possible for trespassers to enter the range without being noticed, especially when law enforcement was using a "shoothouse" that is located behind the 200-yard backstop.

The report recommended improving the fence to make this entry more difficult.

The council voted to recommend Chief McKinney confer with the Pecos Rifle and Pistol Club and Frank Spencer and Associates in working out an agreement that would suit the needs of all parties.

Spencer volunteered the services of his firm without cost to the city in mapping out a new range or re-designing the old one, if it would help solve the problem.

In other business the council adopted a resolution, pending review by the city attorney, stating that the city was interested in having Texas Star Mortgage Company make application for grants for first-time home buyers and home improvement loans.

Jeanne King asked the council to approve the resolution.

"This is necessary for Texas Star Mortgage to begin the process," she said. "It doesn't obligate the city to anything. Once approved we would come back with a specific proposal."

According to King, Texas Star Mortgage is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in these type grant programs and covers cost through a commission from the grant money.

Effort begun to boost local census count

Staff Writer
PECOS, Jan. 26, 2000 - A "Complete Count Committee" for Reeves County has been organized to help with the Census 2000 and the group has scheduled their next meeting for two weeks from now.

"We now have a complete count committee which was set up by Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo," said Census 2000 Community Partnership Specialist Charlene Romero Wurtz. "It's a pretty big group with about 22-23 people."

The next meeting for the group has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8, on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse.

"They had their first orientation and it's going good, but we still need some people," said Wurtz. "We're getting ready to start working on our kick-off."

The kick-off is an event that will be held to introduce the committee to the community.

Each county committee has a chairman, which for Reeves County is Louis Matta. Sub-committees are formed from that committee, with a chairman appointed for the different groups.

Sub-committees include government, with Ricky Herrera acting as chairman there. Jimmy Dutchover is chairman for education; George Vasquez for religion; Michael Benavidez for organizations; Johnny Terrazas for business and David Flores for housing.

Wurtz said she will be in Pecos on Feb. 8 to talk to the Pecos Chamber of Commerce at their monthly luncheon and will be at the Balmorhea High School in the afternoon.

"This was all set up by the members of the committee," she said.

The Community Council of Reeves County will be set up as a questionnaire assistance center. "As soon as they receive their questionnaires, they can go to the community council and the individuals there will help fill it out," said Wurtz. "I'll be meeting with them also."

She said the group has pretty much finished with the mailing list, which was drawn up by the county and the city.

"So, we're ready to roll now," she said. "Now we're trying to get all the religious organizations all the information."

"It's very important that everyone fill out the questionnaires and that everyone be counted," said Benavidez. "They need to give a complete count of each person that's in their house."

State and federal funding is often based on census figures, so if local residents fail to fill out their forms both the city and county could see the amount of money available to the area drop after the year 2001.

"Through this census we can get funding for our county, so we want to make sure everyone in Reeves County is accounted for," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "This is very important."

The Bureau will be sending out the information in the next month or month and a half, according to Wurtz.

"By law people are required to answer and respond to the census," said Wurtz.

The local effort is part of a $167 million campaign, which began in November and will pick up in the next month and run through Census Day on April 1. The target audience is every adult in the country.

"It's the first time ever the Census Bureau is using paid advertising. We hope the campaign will be successful because it's not your typical government campaign," said Jennifer Marks, the bureau's chief of publicity for Census 2000.

"Our hope is that all these multiple efforts will get people to send that form back," she said.

The Census Bureau all but concedes it will not be able to count every person in America, leading to a battle between Democrats and Republicans over the use of statistical methods known as sampling to estimate the final count.

The bureau estimates 1.6 percent of the population was undercounted in the 1990 census. Since many undercounted individuals are presumed to be minorities and inner-city residents who vote Democratic, GOP strategists fear sample-adjusted numbers could be juggled to threaten Republican legislative seats.

This year's census is considered even more crucial because the 1990 survey was the first to be considered statistically less accurate than the previous one _ 65 percent of census surveys were mailed back in 1990, compared with 78 percent in 1980.

The first questionnaires will be mailed out in early March. At stake: about $185 billion in federal aid distributed by the federal government to states, cities and local communities, as well as the redrawing of congressional district lines according to new population data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Federal suit planned over low-level flights

Associated Press Writer
RENO, Nev. - Ranchers and environmentalists in Nevada and eight other states are banding together to sue the Defense Department to halt low-level military training flights they say harm livestock, fish and wildlife.

Lawyers for the citizen activists said they would file the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., today seeking an injunction to ban all Air Force overflights until the government conducts a broad assessment of their environmental impact.

Some of the military aircraft fly as low as 100 feet off the ground at speeds up to 645 miles per hour, the lawsuit says.

"It's kind of like a tornado that almost sucks your roof off. It shakes the house like a dead rat," Richard Smucker said Wednesday from his ranch near Austin, Nev.

One of the routes used by the Air Force runs through parts of southern Reeves County, and the Air Force is expected to announce in the new few months it has selected the Pecos area for its new low level bomber training area. Jets from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Barksdale AFB near Shreveport, La., will target three electionic scoring sites on their route, two of which would be located in Reeves County.

The bombers will fly in a loop around Pecos, making their runs as low as 200 feet near the target areas in southern and east-central Reeves County. Air Force officials last year said they would try to have the jets avoid thge Balmorhea and Saragosa areas during the runs, and that the scoring sites in the Alamo and Toyah Lake areas would bring 48 new jobs into the area.

The suit accuses the Air Force of violating the National Environmental Policy Act, intentionally underestimating the impacts of the overflights by assessing the flight routes individually, rather than as a whole across the country.

"For over a decade, the Air Force has been trying to mask the nationwide scope and impacts of its program by breaking up the required analysis into many site-specific documents," said Simeon Herskovits, a lawyer for the Western Environmental Law Center in Taos, N.M.

The flights are "sometimes deafening and startling to human beings and animals, causing wildlife and livestock to panic and stampede and impairing their ability to reproduce and raise their young," said Peter Galvin, a biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Ariz., one of the plaintiffs.

Air Force airspace used for the flight training program covers nearly 1 million square miles, the lawsuit says. Most of it covers public lands in the West.

Cumulatively, Galvin said, the low-level flights are harming numerous wildlife species, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, bighorn sheep and antelope.

In addition, the flights harm ranchers and farmers by causing livestock to panic and stampede, injuring themselves and causing other property damage, the suit says.

Smucker said he backs the lawsuit because the military refuses to reimburse him and others for damages caused by the flights. In his case, the flights originate at Fallon Naval Air Station, a Navy airbase in Fallon, Nev.

"The majority of the time out here, it is quiet and peaceful," said Smucker.

"Sometimes the only thing that warns us they are coming is the sonic boom. One got us here two years ago and raised the ceiling off the house about a half of an inch. We've had ranch hands kicked by horses," he said.

"I have the utmost respect for the pilots and the military because they protect our country, but when they do damage, they should pay for it," said Smucker, who estimates damage to his home at $22,000 over the past five years.

The Rural Alliance for Military Accountability based in Reno and the Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association based in Carson City are among the plaintiffs in the suit.

Others are: Colorado Airspace Coalition, Westcliffe, Colo.; Custer County Association, Westcliffe, Colo.; Open Space Alliance, Crestone, Colo.; Amigos Bravos, Taos, N.M.,; Oregon Natural Desert Association, Bend, Ore.; National Airspace Coalition, Bloomington, Minn.; Downwinders, Salt Lake City; Trans-Pecos Protection Group, Alpine, Texas; Committee for Idaho's High Desert, Boise, Idaho.

"These citizens are united in the belief that the Air Force's program requires analysis that is national in scope to determine the national effects," said Grace Potorti of Reno, executive director of the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability.

"As the Air Force continues to expand its low-level flight training program, the people who live and work in these rural areas are increasingly exposed to the sudden onset and deafening roar of low-level military overflights," she said.

Most of the overflights in Nevada originate at Fallon Naval Air Station, which is not named in the lawsuit. However, a significant number of flights originate at Nellis Air Force Base north of Las Vegas, which would be covered by the lawsuit.

Mike Estrada, a Nellis AFB spokesman, said base officials had not seen the lawsuit but they typically do not comment on pending litigation.

"I've not heard anything about it," he said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the public affairs office at the Air Force in Arlington, Va., said Wednesday there was no one immediately available to comment because a snow storm had closed their offices.

Skiing columnist cites Rediger to boost rating system

Staff Writer
PECOS, Jan. 26, 2000 - Pecos pharmacist John T. Rediger found himself being used as an example by a columnist for a national skiing magazine this month, who was seeking wider use of a rating system he developed 33 years ago.

John Fry, columnist for SKI magazine, established the National Standard Race (Nastar) for skiers during the winter of 1967-68. In an article in the magazine's January issue, he explains the system is designed to do for amateur skiers what the handicap system does in ranking golfers.

The system compares skiers' efforts down a set course against the results of a professional skier. But while the system has been around for over three decades and is used for competitive purposes, it has yet to earn complete acceptance in the North American skiing schools.

In pushing for Nastar's adaptation, Fry cites Rediger's accomplishments over the 21 years since he took up the sport. "The only hill in his hometown of Pecos, Texas is the ramp off the Interstate, but Rediger wasn't discouraged," Fry wrote. "At 5 a.m. he would set paper cups on the incline and practice roller blading through the improvised gates.

"Winter after winter he attended Billy Kidd and Toni Sailer racing camps. Finally, two years ago Rediger accomplished his dream. He became the fastest recreational racer in America, with a 1 handicap, better than skiers half his age."

That success earned Rediger a mention in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" section just over a year ago. "I knew about the Sports Illustrated piece, but I didn't know this was going to happen," said Rediger, after receiving his copy of the magazine in late December.

"The man who wrote the article is a good friend of Billy Kidd (a U.S. Olympic medal winner in skiing) up in Steamboat (Springs in Colorado). I think he told them about it," he said.

Rediger explained that under the Nastar system, skiers are rated on running the same course after a standard is set. In the southwestern states, "All skiers go to Vail (Colorado) in November. One skier off the National Ski Team sets the handicap, based on three runs," Rediger said. "All the racers in the respective area follow him down and the times set the handicap."

He explained that if the professional skier does the course in 30 seconds and an amateur does it in 33 seconds, "That's a 10 percent difference, which translates into a 10 handicap."

Fry said he created the system after serving as editorial director for Golf Magazine in the mid-1960s. He designed it in order to give amateur skiers a chance to see how they rated in comparison to the nation's top skiers.

"Many people today ski proficiently, even elegantly, when they're able to choose anywhere to make a turn. The instructor observes, applauds their form and advances them to a higher class," he wrote. "But can you make such a turn at a given spot? What about making a must-do turn, one you have to make at high speed to avoid a tree? Or one good enough to let you feel what it's like to be an Alberto Tomba in the gates?"

"It's far more difficult to turn at a given spot, again and again. You have to master skills like gliding, skidding, drifting, pivoting, rebounding, absorption and stepping, as well as carving, to get specifically from Point A to Point B. In short, you have to become a true skier. A ski school would monitor your advancement by periodically inserting you into a Nastar race. Your handicap would become a measure of your progress," according to Fry.

"My times compared with all other racers across the U.S. comes up with a 1 handicap, which also compares to all other age groups" Rediger said. "I don't want to toot my own horn, but it takes a lot of work to stay at that level. You have to stay in shape.

Rediger travels north often this time of year to ski, and said he paid the price last year, breaking his clavicle in a fall while skiing at Steamboat Springs. But he's back at Steamboat for the 1999-2000 winter season.

"Just to be ranked No. 1 in Texas the last seven years is something. To be ranked No. 1 in the nation takes a lot of effort," Rediger said.

Registration to vote in primary runs until Feb. 14

PECOS, Jan. 26, 2000 - Registration to vote in the March 14 primary elections will continue until Feb. 14, with a deadline of March 7 to submit ballots by mail.

Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said anyone wanting an application for a ballot by mail can contact her office at 445-5467.

Early voting by personal appearance will begin on Feb. 26 and the last day to vote early by personal appearance has been set for March 10, according to Florez.

The dates are the same for voters in Barstow, but they will have to go to Monahans to vote early in the Ward County primary elections. Barstow voters can obtain early voting mail ballots from the Ward County Clerk's office.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 2-6-7-18-23-28. Estimated jackpot: $4 million. Number matching six of six: 0. Matching five of six: 119. Prize: $832. Matching four of six: 4,992. Prize: $71.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 4-7-8 (four, seven, eight)


High Wednesday 67. Low this morning 33. Forecast for tonight: Increasing clouds. Lows in the mid 30s. North to northeast wind 5-15 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High around 55. Friday night: Mostly cloudy. Low around 20. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High around 55.

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