Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, March 23, 2000
Late challenges fill local election races
By ROSIE FLORES
Last-minute filings made turned what would have been unopposed races
into contested contests, as the deadline arrived Wednesday to enter the
May 6 city, school and hospital district elections.
Incumbents Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera had been without opposition
in their bids for new two-year terms on the Town of Pecos City Council,
but newcomer Hector "Tito" Roman filed on the final day with city secretary
Incumbent mayor Dot Stafford already was facing opposition from Ray
Ortega in the May 6 race. This morning, all five candidates drew for places
on the ballot at City Hall, with Ortega scheduled to be listed first and
Stafford second in the mayor's race.
On the council ballots, Rodriguez' name will appear first, followed
by Herrera and then Roman.
In Balmorhea, all city and school races also will be opposed thanks
to late candidate filings.
In the Balmorhea city races, Danny Reynolds had filed for the mayoral
position had was joined by incumbent Ismael Rodriguez and another challenger,
Doug Maynard, this week. Reynolds' term as Balmorhea City Councilman, along
with that Rosendo Galindo also are up for election on May 6, and Galindo
has filed for another two-year term and will compete against challengers
Tammy Marmillon, Bertha Brijalba and Eddie Roman.
In the Balmorhea School Board election the three-year terms of Raymond
Carrasco and Paul Matta are up in May. They've both filed to run again
and will be joined by Dora Machuca, Tommy Ray Dominguez and Louis Rene.
The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election has four candidates seeking the
two three-year terms up for election. Incumbent Steve Armstrong will be
joined in the May 6 race by challengers Paul Deishler, Steve Valenzuela
and David Flores. Incumbent Freddy Lujan opted not to seek re-election.
The other two contested area races on May 6 will be for the Barstow
City Council and the at-large position on the Reeves County Hospital District
Pablo Navarette filed for the position of alderman on the Barstow City
Council on Monday. He'll challenge incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila,
who have filed to retain their council seats for another two years. Benny
Hernandez will be unopposed in the race for Barstow mayor, where incumbent
Salvador Villalobos opted against seeking another term.
In the Reeves County Hospital District election Leo Hung filed to seek
the at-large seat on the board against two-term incumbent Greg Luna. Incumbents
Chel Flores for and Jesse Prieto will run unopposed in their bids for the
Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 seats on the board. All seats are for two-year
Candidates for elections in Toyah also waited until the last day to
file, where terms for mayor and two council positions will be up for grabs.
In Toyah, Ann Marsh has filed to run for mayor, while Paul Anthony Budlong
and Sharon Sanchez both signed up for city council seats.
Budlong is currently serving as mayor for the little community, a position
he won in 1998.
The council seats up for election are those won by Clara McConnell and
Howard Dennett two years ago.
Mine's laid-off workers offered retraining funds
By ROSIE FLORES
Displaced employees from the Freeport-McMoran sulphur mine in Culberson
County, which closed down late last year, will be receiving more help due
to an amendment to a petition.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced that all workers of the
mine, in Pecos, who lost their job due to lack of work on or after Jan.
12, 1998 are eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).
Freeport announced on June 30, 1998 that it would close the 30-year-old
mine, located 40 miles northwest of Pecos in Culberson County. Over 60
workers were laid off at the time, though mining work at the site continued
through the fall of 1999.
Under petition number TA-W-35,557 which was amended on March 7 of this
year and will expire April 5, 2001, workers who were partially separated
from employment with Freeport-McMoran Sulphur, L.L.C., Culberson Mine,
also known as McMoran Exploration Company, in Pecos, will qualify for assistance.
TAA is available to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work
and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. TAA includes a
variety of benefits and re-employment services to help unemployed workers
prepare for and obtain suitable employment, according to Harry Crawford,
Trade Adjustment Assistance Coordinator for the Texas Workforce Commission.
"Workers may be eligible for training, a job search allowance, a relocation
allowance and other re-employment services," said Crawford. "Additionally,
weekly trade re-adjustment allowances may be payable to eligible workers
following their exhaustion of unemployment benefits."
Crawford stated that there are some who are attending higher learning
facilities. "We currently have former workers attending either Odessa College
and Midland College, those public institutions have been very cooperative,"
Crawford stated TWC would also be working in conjunction with the Odessa
College-Pecos Center, as well. "I'm sure we'll be sending some there as
well, and this will be done in individual assessments, depending on the
individual's needs," he said.
Workers should contact the nearest Texas Workforce Commission office
for assistance in filing for the following services: weekly trade adjustment
allowance, job placement, employment counseling, vocational training and
financial assistance for job search and job relocation.
Telecom tax bumped up by council
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
The Town of Pecos City Council voted to raise the telecommunications
franchise tax this morning, but refused to raise the rate up to the statewide
City Finance Director Steve McCormick recommended the rate hike that
the council approved.
"We have to remember that this is a pass-through tax. The telephone
company collects it for us, but it still comes from you and I and the rest
of Pecos," McCormick said.
McCormick advised the council that at the old rate, the city collected
approximately $30,000 in 1999. At the new rate, the city would collect
"The Public Utility Commission (PUC) authorized us to raise the rate
to the state average. If we did that we would collect about $117,000,"
"It is my opinion that we have to find a way to increase revenues. If
we don't then we are going to have to cut services and there just isn't
much left to cut," McCormick said.
McCormick also advised the council that the way the tax would be calculated
"Currently the tax is four percent of your telephone bill excluding
long distance charges," he said. "The new tax will be a flat assessment
and should be about $1.08 per person, per month."
McCormick said that Public Utility Commission would give him the exact
rate once the council approved a total amount for the tax.
"But with the $80,000 figure the council approved today, local residents
can expect to pay $1.08 per month," he said.
Businesses should anticipate a rate of about $2.39 per month.
"I don't see how we can avoid this," Councilman Johnny Terrazas said.
"We have to find someway to generate more revenue or we are going to be
in a hurt and cutting services."
"We've been operating at a deficit for several years and eating into
the city's reserves," Councilman Ricky Herrera added. "Our tax base has
been shrinking and for the past few years we've been cutting back, consolidating
and doing everything we can to save money. At some point we have to look
at generating more revenue."
"One thing many people may not realize is that two years ago we dedicated
$125,000 a year to the Economic Development Corporation. That money came
right out of the city's budget. We need economic development, and it is
a good investment, but we've got to replace that money in the mean time,"
Mayor Dot Stafford agreed. "According to the Texas Natural Resource
Conservation Commission (TNRCC), our rates were very low," she said. "The
TNRCC suggested a higher rate increase to help the city pay for further
water development _ something Pecos has to have just to survive."
"There just aren't many services that we can cut," she added.
The council was also briefed by engineer Abidur Khan of Frank X. Spencer
and Associates, concerning work on two water wells in the Worsham Well
Khan presented the council with estimates and recommendations for two
wells _ a new well and a replacement well.
Total estimated costs for both wells is about $220,000 including an
additional five percent of total cost added in for contingencies.
The council voted to authorize the firm to advertise the jobs for bids
and also submit the plans for the two wells to the Texas Natural Resource
The bidding will open on April 24, 2000.
In other business the council approved the monthly tax collection report
and the Pecos Volunteer Ambulance Service report.
The council had the second reading of a proposed ordinance allowing
for the appointment of an assistant fire marshal during times when the
fire marshal is absent or disabled.
Rec department continues youth soccer sign-ups
The Reeves County Community Recreation Department is continuing to register
boys and girls for its spring soccer league now through April 3.
Registration forms are available at the Recreation Department office
in the old West Pecos gym, weekdays between 5 and 10 p.m. The program is
open to children ages 5 through 12.
The RCCRD is also offering adult low-impact workouts with Liz Guerrero
Vega at the old PHS gym. For further information either on the workout
classes or the youth soccer program, call 447-9776.
Storms skip Pecos area, but wind, dust don't
From Staff and Wire Reports
The drought situation in the Pecos Valley can pretty much be summed
up by this morning's road condition reports for the region.
Highways south of Midland and Odessa remain closed today due to flooding,
two children are feared dead due to high water over a road near Big Spring
and residents in Wickett continue their clean-up from Wednesday's post-midnight
storms. But locally, Texas Department of Transportation officials were
checking late this morning to see if Highway 17 between Pecos and Saragosa
should be closed for the third time in four weeks because of blowing dust.
Pecos got a few more drops of rain just before midnight on Wednesday
than fell in the midnight hours on Tuesday, but the rains again missed
the fields to the south and west of town, and this morning's wind gusts
again sent dust blowing across Highway 17, obscuring visibility for drivers
on the road.
The problem was centered on a plowed field near the Davidson Feed Pens
at the intersection of Highway 17 and FM 1934. A TxDOT crew was going to
remain in the area early this afternoon to monitor the situation, as the
problem was not severe enough late this morning to require closing of the
road, as happened on Feb. 22 and Mar. 7, when dust storms were blamed for
a series of accidents in the Pecos area.
KIUN radio reported receiving .05 inch of rain Wednesday, while the
Texas A&M Agricultural Research Station seven miles west of town received
.06 inch of rain on Wednesday and .01 in after midnight today.
Tuesday's storms were blamed for an oil tank battery explosion caused
by lightning near Orla and for high winds that damaged homes in Wickett
and blew a tractor trailer off Interstate 20 shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Last night, the brunt of the storms were focused on an area between I-20
and I-10, east of Fort Stockton and west of Sterling City.
Two children were missing and feared drowned after a car was swept into
a creek by high waters following overnight storms in Howard County, authorities
in Big Spring said.
A woman who said she was taking her two children to school said her
vehicle was swept into the creek. She said she was forced out of her car,
but wasn't sure if her children made it out.
The Howard County sheriff's department brought in a helicopter to aid
in the search for the children.
As many as ten storm cells went through the area beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday and continuing until about 2:30 a.m. today, dumping as much as
six inches of rain near the usually-dry creek known as Mustang Draw, in
a rural area just northwest of Big Spring.
Police and rescue personnel spotted the roof of the submerged car in
the creek and were trying to recover it when the woman was found.
About 4 inches of rain fell in Big Spring, said National Weather Service
meteorologist George Mathews.
To the south, a tornado leveled two homes, swept away several storage
sheds and injured a family of three as funnel clouds dipped down in Regan
and Glasscock counties.
This morning, the main highway between Midland and San Angelo remained
closed due to high water, as did roads in Upton and Crane counties.
Robin Collins, a dispatcher for the Reagan County Sheriff's Department,
said one tornado was spotted on the ground in the southern part of the
county by about 15 different residents near Big Lake around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
"We had two homes completely destroyed, but the path where the tornado
went was mainly a ranch area," she said.
A couple and their daughter in one of the houses were briefly hospitalized
after they received minor injuries in the storm, said Collins. She said
the owner of the other house wasn't home when the tornado hit. She said
there also were several reports of storage sheds blown away by the twister.
Several other tornado warnings were issued through early today by the
National Weather Service.
"It's been a very busy 36 hours," said Brian Curran, a forecaster at
the NWS office in Midland.
A dispatcher from the Glasscock County Sheriff's Department who refused
to be identified said two people were injured when three mobile homes were
toppled in Saint Lawrence, to the north in Glasscock County. "We're not
sure if it was a tornado that brought them down of if it was just winds."
Glen Larum, public information officer with TxDOT in Odessa, said late
this morning, "We still have two main roads closed. State Highway 349 between
Midland and Rankin is closed due to flooding in Upton County. We expect
it to reopen today as the floodwater recedes.
"State Highway 158 is closed due to flooding at the intersection with
State Highway 137," between Midland and Garden City, Larum added. "Farm
Market Road 1379 in closed due to flooding in the Midkiff area, and there
is severe damage to the roadway."
He said U.S. 385 north of Crane was also closed overnight due to flooding,
but both the north and southbound lanes were reopened by 11 a.m. "The flooding
was just four miles north of Crane at Golf Course Draw. There were some
big oilfield tanks floating out on the draw, so we'll have to keep an eye
He said State Highway 329 was also closed both east and west of Crane
due to floods. "There's major damage to a roadway bridge east of Crane,
while west of town the highway is just underwater. As the floodwaters recede
we expect it to reopen."
Larum said in Odessa only about .3 inch of rain fell, but heavier rains
were reported to the north of town. The storms dumped pea-sized hail on
parts of Yoakum County, including Denver City, the National Weather Service
AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning
numbers drawn: 5-8-17-35-38-41. Estimated jackpot: $28 million. Number
matching six of six: 1. Winning ticket sold in: Austin. Matching five of
six: 193. Prize: $1,355. Matching four of six: 9,663. Prize: $97.
AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas
Lottery, in order: 1-2-6 (one, two, six)
High Wednesday 68. Low this morning 49. Rainfall past 24 hours at Texas
A&M Experiment Station .07 inch. Forecast for tonight: Fair. Low in
the mid 40s. West wind 10-15 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High in the upper
70s. Southwest wind 10-15 mph. Friday night: Fair. Low in the mid 40s.
Saturday: Partly cloudy. High in the mid 80s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise