Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, April 26, 2000
RCH board briefed on cash from tobacco settlement
By MARI MALDONADO
PECOS, April 26, 2000 - Reeves County Hospital Administrator and CEO
Charles Butts told board members that proceeds from the district's share
of the state's $100 million share of the federal settlement with tobacco
companies for 2000 will go to charity and indigent care, along with the
hospital's current emergency room expansion project.
Trustees met late Tuesday afternoon for their regular monthly meeting.
Attending were Board President Hiram `Greg' Luna, Holly Key and Chel Flores.
Board Vice President Marcella Lovett was unable to attend due to a death
in the family, according to Luna.
Butts told the board the "good news" of the $146,000 share was sent
to him on Monday following the release of the disbursement list by the
office of Texas State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander. He added that
the funds will be transmitted and available sometime during the first week
of May and will go towards, "charity and the ER project."
Although RCH Controller Richard Mathis called the district's share,
"a nice little amount," he was unsure Tuesday morning why Pecos County's
allotment of $812,861 was so much higher than Reeves County's total, or
the total for other area counties with similar populations. Mathis said
after the board meeting that he had done, "some checking," and discovered
that Pecos County's recent expenditures for construction of a new hospital
were figured in to their formula, thus they received one of the biggest
payments in the state.
Rylander's office reported that the formula established by the Texas
Department of Health was based on the amount spent on un-reimbursed health
care in the previous year.
Mathis said that next year's payment to Reeves County will probably
be smaller due to the fact that only $50 million will be disbursed next
year. The state sent out $300 million of the state's payment of $450 million
to Texas counties and hospital districts in 1999.
The board meeting opened up with the routine review of minutes from
the previous meeting and more praises for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent
School District Tax Office.
"They're doing such an excellent job," said Luna, regarding the collection
of hospital taxes. The monthly collection report indicates that of the
$1,634,680.68 of taxes to be collected for 1999, about one third, or $523,770.89,
Board members unanimously approved the district's financial statement
and budget amendments and payment of bills, "as money becomes available,"
according to Luna, following a brief discussion.
Flores inquired about a $2,660.73 payment to Legend Pharmacy of Austin.
Mathis reported that this is the supplier of drugs for the hospital's indigent
program. The arrangement with the pharmacy allows, "the hospital's three
pharmacists to participate in the indigent program," said the controller.
In other action, the board approved authorization for Butts, "to go
out for bids," for the emergency room expansion project.
"Some months ago you gave me the authorization to have the drawings
prepared," for the project, Butts said. With the plans in hand, he said,
"the bid process," should take, "about 30 days."
Chief of Staff Dr. W. J. Bang reported to the board that there was,
"nothing special" to note in his medical staff report.
Butts told the board that the architectural firm hired to oversee the
rooftop, air conditioning project for the surgical suites has now acquired
a bid within the intended budget. "They've [the firm] had a lot of trouble
getting the contractor to come down," Butts told the board, "but it looks
like we're finally going to get that done."
"It's been a painful process, but I didn't want us to have to start
all over," added the CEO. He said after the meeting that regulating the
temperature throughout the surgical area of the hospital "has been a 20
The board was informed by L.G. Crawford, RN and DON, that plans to obtain
new IV pumps for the hospital are still in the works. "We've seen (an introductory)
video, but we want to look at the pumps personally to make sure they are
what we need," Crawford said.
He also said "Nurses have been real good," in taking their, "low-census
day," which he explained has been in the hospital's policy, "for some time."
Crawford explained that when the district is experiencing a "low-census"
or low, in-patient count, nurses are asked to take a low-census patient
day during slow times.
Board members discussed a tentative date for a special meeting following
the upcoming May elections to canvass votes and discuss the purchase of
equipment requested by the lab manager. "This purchase has already been
approved by the finance committee," Butts told the board.
Judge denies move to toss drug evidence
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, April 26, 2000 - U.S. Magistrate Stewart Platt denied a motion
by a Pecos man on Tuesday to suppress evidence connected with a January
drug arrest which occurred on the west side of town.
Joel Lujan Muniz, 3004 Aggie St., had sought to have evidence seized
by Pecos police as the result of a traffic stop on Jan. 12, 2000, at the
intersection of State Highway 17 and Business I-20.
According to court records, police had received information in December
of last year that Muniz was involved in possible drug trafficking, and
began surveillance on both his house and his place of work in cooperation
with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force. Officer Paul Deishler and Lt. Kelly
Davis testified that on Jan. 12 they observed two occupants in a Chevrolet
pickup outside Muniz' trailer house, at which time, the driver exited the
pickup, went behind the house and then returned, placing an item into a
tool box in the bed of the pickup.
The vehicle left the home and was followed first by Deishler and Davis
and then by Sgt. Juan Vasquez, who stopped the pickup at the Highway 17,
Business I-20 intersection, after the driver, later identified as Ben Muniz,
activated his turn signal 30 feet from the intersection. Police said state
law mandates signals be activated 100 feet before a turn, which was cited
by Vasquez as the reason for the traffic stop.
Muniz' petition alleged the stop on that charge was a violation of the
fourth amendment on unreasonable searches and seizures, but the motion
was denied by Judge Platt.
After the stop, Vasquez found Ben Muniz to have been driving with license
suspended due to a DWI conviction, and he was placed under arrest. Officer
Ernest Lazcano then observed a plastic bag on the floorboard where the
passenger, identified as Joel "Goody" Muniz was seated. Lazcano said a
substance believed to be cocaine was found in the bag, and Muniz was placed
A later inventory of Muniz' possessions at Reeves County Jail turned
up three additional bundles believed to contain cocaine, along with $10,801
in cash, police said. Muniz then granted permission to search his trailer
home, where five additional 8-balls (1/8 ounce) of cocaine were found in
a sock under the cushions of a couch. Muniz was then charged with possession
with intent to distribute under 500 grams of cocaine.
Early voting in local elections ahead of past years
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, April 26, 2000 - Early voting for the city school and hospital
district elections in Pecos has been going great with a large number of
voters casting their ballots over the first week of early voting.
A total of 624 individuals have already cast their ballots for the city,
hospital and school board elections, scheduled for Saturday, May 6. Early
voting began on April 19 and continues through May 2.
"At the end of 10 days in 1998, we had 643, which was the end of early
voting," said early voting clerk Debbie Thomas. "And now after only four
days we have 624."
The number of early voters is at an unusually high, according to Thomas.
The increase was due mainly to the larger number of contested local elections
than in recent years,
Two years ago, election officials mailed out 227 ballots. This year,
they have already sent 168 ballots out by mail. "We have a big batch that
I just picked up and that need to be mailed out," said Thomas.
Thomas stated that they would probably get at least 100 out today and
all of them out by Monday.
The last day to accept a request for a ballot by mail is Friday.
"There's still time to come in and cast your ballot early," said Thomas.
"We've been extremely busy, but we're happy to be getting such a good turnout."
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., on Election Day.
In the Town of Pecos City elections, mayor Dot Stafford will be seeking
a fourth two-year term and will be challenged by Ray Ortega. In the council
election, incumbents Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera are challenged by
Hector "Tito" Roman.
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.
In the Reeves County Hospital District election, the only contested
race is for the at-large seat, where incumbent Hiram "Greg" Luna is challenged
by Leo Hung. Precinct 1 incumbent Chel Florez and Precinct 3 incumbent
Jesse Prieto are unopposed in their bids for new two-year terms.
The names for the candidates in the city, school and hospital elections
are all on one single ballot for voters at the Community Center.
Barstow City Council voters will also have a contested election for
the first time in years, and Balmorhea will again have contested elections
in its city and school elections.
In Balmorhea, early voting for the city elections will be at City Hall
between now and May 2, while early voting in the school board election
will be in the Balmorhea ISD boardroom.
In the Balmorhea city races, incumbent mayor Ismael Rodriguez is being
challenged by councilman Danny Reynolds and Doug Maynard. Reynolds' seat
was one of two on the council up for election this year. The other incumbent,
Rosendo Galindo, is seeking another two-year term and will face challengers
Tammy Marmillon, Bertha Brijalba and Eddie Roman.
In the Balmorhea School Board election the three-year terms of Reyes
Castillo and Paul Matta are up. Matta has filed to seek another three-year
term and will be challenged by Dora Machuca, Tommy Ray Dominguez, Louis
Rene Contreras and Raymond Carrasco.
In Barstow, early voting will be held daily through May 2, from 3:30-6:30
p.m., at the Barstow Community Center. Barstow voters will have one contested
race, with incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila facing challenger Pablo
Navarette. Benny Hernandez will be unopposed in the race for Barstow mayor,
where incumbent Salvador Villalobos opted against seeking another term.
Toyah city elections won't be held this year, as both the new mayor
and council elections there are uncontested. Ann Marsh has filed to run
for mayor, while Paul Anthony Budlong and Sharon Sanchez signed up for
the two available Toyah 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.
Worsham Field land purchase added to council agenda
PECOS, April 26, 2000 - Town of Pecos City council added an emergency item
to their agenda for Thursday's meeting.
Council members will discuss the acquisition of real property for South
Worsham Water Field, during the regular meeting scheduled for 7:30 a.m.,
Thursday, in council chambers at City Hall.
The council stated that the item was added at the last minute due to
unforeseen circumstances necessitating immediate action. The city is looking
to acquire land in the South Worsham area to provide underground water
supplies for Pecos by the year 2008, when current water supplies at the
Ward County and Worsham Fields are expected to be exhausted.
In other action on Thursday, council members will discuss and consider
a rescue cam for the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department; an East Side Community
Center parking area and placement of stop sign at Cherry and Adams Streets,
The council will also discuss and consider securing an independent appraisal
for the Pecos Railroad Depot and real property; amending plumbing inspection
fees; appointment to the Pecos Economic Development Corporation and a bid
proposal to purchase city lots 6&7, Block 3 West Airport Subdivision
of the City of Pecos, Reeves County.
Other items for discussion and consideration are amended police department
policy, amended jail contract; airport renovation and Main Street Program
with beautification committee.
The public is invited to attend this open meeting.
OC board told Pecos campus nearly finished
Odessa College trustees were told May 22 would be the completion date for
the college's Pecos campus, during their monthly meeting on Tuesday in
OC physical plant director Bob Chastain told board members that work
on the former White's Auto Building should be done four weeks from now,
the Odessa American reported today. Workers currently are busy redoing
the exterior of the 27,000 square foot building, which will house five
classrooms and a vocational/automotive department in the auto repair section
of the White's building.
While all exterior work, including refurbishing the parking area, may
not be completed by May 22, summer classes are expected to begin in the
building by the end of next month.
Living off the Land
Tuesday, April 25, 2000
Melon growers deal with pests
By MARI MALDONADO
COYANOSA, Apr. 25, 2000 -- Recent wind storms have hardly been a problem
for Coyanosa farmers Alvaro, Tony and Armando Mandujano, who claim their
watermelon crops have suffered more damage at the hands -actually the paws
- of local wildlife.
Currently the most destructive creature has been rabbits, said Armando
Mandujano, the youngest of the three partners. He said the outlaying areas
of their 120-acre, watermelon field bear the damage caused by the large
Although young watermelon plants are not their favorite mainstay, Mandujano
said because of the drought, "They'll eat whatever they can find...and
they just work right down the line without skipping a plant."
Other pests include birds, which will eat the seed, "although they weren't
much of problem this year," said Armando.
"Mice and quail," also pose a minor problem, added Tony Mandujano.
"The quail just cut the small plants but don't eat it," Armando said.
When asked what the solution is to their problem, the two brothers answered,
"Looks like I'm gonna have to pull out my .22," said Tony. Armando added
that another way to control the wildlife comes with keeping the field clean
of debris from previous seasons. "We try to keep it clean," he said, adding
"we planted cotton here last year."
Armando said that the smaller pests don't bother the mature plants,
"once they've vined," But then javelinas and coyotes come into play.
With the wildlife problems at hand, the two brothers praise their recent
investment into a, "drip irrigation system."
The Mandujanos said the system consists of the main pump that carries
underground water into main tubes that run outside the length of the field
and feed water to tubing that runs about 12-inches underneath the ground
of each groove where the plants were planted about 16-inches apart.
Water is emitted from, "drip meters", that are spaced 24-inches apart,
along the groove-length tubing, Tony said. When split open the one-inch,
flexible tubing revels a tiny vent-like apparatus attached to the inner
wall just underneath a small opening in the tube, where the water is released.
Tony pointed out that dark, evenly spaced areas in the soil indicate
where a meter is located. Kicking some of the dirt clods and turning up
the soil, Armando pointed out the moisture that is vital to a successful
Tony said that one plus to the drip irrigation system is that, "we don't
lose much water to evaporation." Armando added that because the, "water
comes up through the meters," and is then penetrated evenly throughout
the soil, it never reaches the surface.
This system also helps control weeds, according Tony Mandujano. "Because
the moisture is at the bottom, the weed seed doesn't spread," as easily
as they would in above ground irrigation systems,” he said.
Armando said this is good where vegetable and fruit crops are concerned,
"because you can't use herbicides," as commonly as one would on a cotton
crop, for example.
A third positive factor about the watering system, said Armando, lies
in the fact that because the water is spread more uniformly, "you've got
the same size melons all over."
He added that calcium buildup within the water lines is controlled by
pumping suluric acid treatments through the water system. "We try to keep
the Ph at 6.5," Armando said.
The brothers, who agree that the task of installing the new system was
a hard one, say they feel it was well worth the trouble. They claimed that
they experimented with the new method of watering their crops last year
by installing it throughout only a few sections and have since expanded
it to include their entire watermelon crop.
"Watermelons take about 90 days," Armando said, as the brothers pointed
out a section of their crop with more mature plants.
"We planted these earlier on," than the rest of the sections, said Armando,
explaining that the earlier a crop is planted the higher the risk of freezing
and damage from unpredictable weather conditions, not to mention the wildlife.
Tony said the trio started breaking ground in January and are now seeing
the "fruits" of their labor. "We're pretty satisfied," said Armando.
The siblings ventured out on their own four years ago after helping
and learning from their father, Alvaro Mandujano, a 14-year-veteran-farmer.
Along with 140-acre watermelon crop, the brothers share their skills,
talent add knowledge to grow cantaloupe, cotton and hay, making their farming
duties a year-round responsibility.
"We still work together," said Tony of the brothers and their father,
who still group together to sell their crops at harvest time.
New method to lower water’s ph tested
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Apr. 25, 2000 -- Salt is a pretty common commodity in West Texas.
So is sulphur. But water is not.
Getting the salt out of what water there is in the area is one problem
area agriculture officials are looking at, but finding a cheap way to mix
sulphur with the high salt content water is the Texas A&M Agriculture
Experiement Station is looking at right now, as a way of offsetting the
high sodium levels of local wells in order to increase yields on area farmland.
The Experiment Station has begun a test project in which sulphur will
be heated and then added into the station’s water supply before being used
on some of its land west of Pecos, experiment station director Mike Murphy
Murphy said the acid generation unit is being given a test in Pecos,
but similar units already are in use on two golf courses in the Midland-Odessa
“Greentree (Country Club) has two in use on its golf course and the
Ratliff Ranch has one in use,” Murphy said.
He said the idea of mixing sulphur in with water is nothing new. “It’s
been used in the (Rio Grande) valley for years and years, but the price
of shipping it in got to be too much.”
However, in West Texas, “sulphur is a natural bi-product of oil and
gas wells, so it’s not very far to haul the sulhpur,” from a treatment
plant near Odessa back to the Pecos area.
Murphy said sulphur like the type that had been mined from the recently-closed
Freeport McMoRan mine northwest of Pecos could not be used because it was
not pure enough, and would stop up the vents in the acid generator that
allow the heated sulphur to mix with the water.
“It takes 99.5 percent raw sulphur and melts it down. The vapor changes
to sulfuric acid,” he said. The acid is then mixed with water and applied
to a test plot at the experiment station.
“We hope it lowers the ph of the soil enough so more nutrients are made
available,” Murphy said.
The lower the ph number, the more acidic the soil is. Area soils,
with their high sodium contest, also have very high ph numbers. “If you
change the ph from 7.0 to 6.8, that does a lot towards changing the nutrient
levels,” he said.
Heat from the acid generator creates a vacuum, which sucks water from
the ditch into the generator, where it is mixed with the sulphur vapor
and then returned to the ditch, Murphy explained. The mixture is at about
a 1:20 ratio, with 50 gallons of treated water for ever 1000 gallons of
“The ph in the ditch is 6.8. After it went through the acid generator
it came out at 2.8, which is fairly acidic,” he explained. “That water
is mixed with the other water in the ditch, and it dropped the ph level
from 6.8 to 5.8.”
Sweetwater Farming, Inc., or Utah owns the patent to the process. “They
brought it down from Utah,” Murphy said. “It’s the same size as the ones
they use as the golf course, and it puts out as much as 200 gallons a minute.”
He said under the system, it takes about 10 backs of sulphur to treat
about 40 acres of farmland.
“The whole reason to do this is to find a way to improve the (nutrient)
infiltration rate,” Murphy said, while adding a thorough test of the process
is not feasible at the experiment station right now, since the generator
is on loan from Sweetwater Farming.
“It needs to be done for two or three years in a row to see if we have
the same results, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to get the man
to let us use the unit three years in a row,” he said.
High Tuesday 95. Low this morning 62. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy.
Low 60-65. South wind 5-15 mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance
of showers or thunderstorms. High 90-95. South wind 5-15 mph: Becoming
north 10-20 mph by afternoon. Chance of rain 20 percent. Thursday night:
Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low near
60. Friday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. High 90-95.
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