Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, May 11, 2000
Ortega takes oath, gets advice from Stafford
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, May 11, 2000 -- Mayor Dot Stafford fired a parting shot at Mayor-elect
Ray Ortega this morning at the regularly scheduled city council meeting
before stepping down from the position she has held for three terms.
After taking care of old business and being presented with a plaque
of appreciation from fellow council members Stafford told the assembled
audience that she would like to say a few words.
"To the department heads and their staffs, I just want to say thank
you. We couldn't have accomplished anything with out your hard work. Thank
you also to the council members. You are a neat group of guys and I wish
you the best of luck and challenge you to pursue our previous goals," Stafford
"Mayor Ortega, I hope you enjoy your staff and treat them kindly," she
"One thing I didn't understand, what you meant when you said _ and I
can't quote this exactly _ but to the effect that if the voters elected
you that city government would get a kick in the pants. I would suggest
that you not do this and that you treat your staff kindly," Stafford said.
Ortega did not respond at that moment.
"We did have an ad cut to that effect but it was a political statement,"
Ortega responded after the meeting. "It was not intended for anyone in
Friend and campaign manager Louis Matta swore in Ortega after Stafford's
comments, then councilmen Ricky Herrera and Danny Rodriguez took their
oath of office from City Secretary Geneva Martinez. The two were re-elected
to new terms in last Saturday's election.
The first order of business for the new mayor was a parking area for
the East Side Community Center.
City Manager Kenneth Neal advised the council that when they began the
renovation project on the Center, the city believed it owned the adjacent
land. Further research revealed that the land belongs to the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
Neal said that the Center is renovated, but that there is a lack of
parking and the school district owns the land that would make a good parking
The expense of building the parking area was also an issue for consideration.
"Right now we have put quite a bit of money into that building. I would
like to see if the county or the school can help out with some of the construction
work for the parking lot," Herrera said.
Rodriguez suggested that Neal get a cost estimate for the lot construction
and also consult with the school district concerning the property and report
back to the council at the next scheduled meeting. The council tabled the
issue until that time.
The council also heard from Union Pacific Railroad Track Maintenance
Manager Jeff Unbehaun concerning the railroad's suggestion that rail crossings
at Willow, Alberta and Locust Streets be closed for safety reasons.
Unbehaun said that from a safety perspective, the closings would make
Pecos safer since traffic would be diverted to crossings with gates and
lights to warn motorists of approaching trains.
Although the council agreed that the crossings were more dangerous than
the gated crossings, doubts were raised about closing the crossings.
"My mother lives on the North Side. I've had constituents tell me about
near misses with trains, especially now that the trains are running faster
and quieter on the new rails and I'm really concerned that were going to
have a fatality in the future," Herrera said.
Herrera said that on the other hand, the issue of emergency service
access to and from the North Side was also an issue.
County Commissioner for Precinct 4, Hivi Rayos told the council that
he had had about 20 telephone calls last night opposing the closing of
the Locust Street crossing.
"That's the only crossing the East Side has," Rayos says. "I go through
there three or four times a day and there is a lot of traffic that uses
Councilman Gerald Tellez agreed with Rayos saying that the Locust Street
crossing was a necessity for the East Side.
City Health Inspector Armando Gil and Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire both
opposed the closings as hindering for emergency service response.
"We need to keep as many crossings open as possible to keep communications
and transportation open north and south," Gil said.
"When a car is hit by a train the train doesn't stop for right away.
Sometimes there is only one crossing open in an emergency situation," Brookshire
Councilman Larry Levario advised the council that Texas Department of
Transportation had earmarked $150,000 for installing gates and lights at
the Alberta Street crossing, but no action had been taken regarding the
three streets in question.
After the discussion the council decided to table the issue until further
information could be gathered.
In other business the council approved appointments to the resurrected
Plumbing Board as recommended by Jack Brookshire.
Appointed to the board were Manuel Rubio, master plumber, Carl Osborn,
journeyman plumber, Bob Trammell, building contractor, Frank Spencer, city
engineer, Armando Gil, City Health Inspector, and Leman Barmore as alternate
The council also approved the city's participation in the Trans Pecos
Drug Task Force for another year.
Police Chief Clay McKinney informed the council that with the recent
arrests and seizures, that participation in the task force hadn't cost
the city a dime for the last year, and that it looked like the next year
would be just as cheap.
"Each participating entity has to pledge its part of the cash match
for the grant," McKinney explained. "If enough money is forfeited, then
that money goes toward the cash match. This year, we seized enough that
we got the services of the task force for free and we are in good shape
for next year."
The council also approved a request from the local Girl Scouts to reserve
Maxey Park on July 15 for a Girl Scout Day.
Portions of the park will be off-limits to the public until about 4:00
p.m. that day, and one road will be closed so that scouts can walk to the
restrooms without having to dodge traffic.
Border agents make $2 million pot bust
U.S. Border Patrol agents in Brewster County had a successful Sunday night,
as they seized over 1¼-ton of marijuana worth over $2 million during
a traffic check in Alpine.
Agents from the Marfa Sector made the seizure from a recreational vehicle
driven by a United States Citizen on Sunday night, according to a press
release by the agency. The two Border Patrol Agents immediately arrested
the suspect, who was then turned over to the West Texas HIDTA Task Force,
along with the marijuana and all other evidence. The task force accepted
the case for prosecution and investigation.
According to the Border Patrol statement, the vehicle was traveling
north from the border area through Alpine when the stop was made. Following
a series of questions the driver of the motor home consented to a canine
inspection that resulted in the seizure of 40 burlap sacks containing 2,693
pounds marijuana. The value of the marijuana was put at $2,154,400.
Chief Patrol Agent Simon Garza Jr. applauded the actions of his agents
and other participating law enforcement officials. "Working together is
critical when dealing with smugglers in the remote areas of West Texas,"
City's sales tax check down 13 percent from 1999
PECOS, May 11, 2000 -- Sales tax rebates for Pecos took a hit this month,
dropping nearly 13 percent from the same period a year ago, according to
figures released Wednesday by State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's
The city received $73,645 back from the comptroller this month, as part
of its 1½-cent share of the state's 8¼-cent sales tax. That's
down 12.98 percent from the $84,529 in got back last May, based on sales
made in the city during March.
This month's decline comes after last month's check jumped by over 28
percent from a year ago. Combined, they left Pecos at just about the same
place there were a year ago in sales tax rebates, according to Rylander's
figures. The city has received $336,149 back from Austin, up 0.84 percent
from the $333,348 received through the first five months of 1999.
A big payment a year ago to Toyah left that city's tax rebate numbers
off sharply this time around. Toyah got back a $665 check from the comptroller,
compared with the $4,649 check it received a year ago. That's a drop of
85.7 percent, while overall, the large check from last May left the city
behind by $4,800 compared with a year ago.
Balmorhea had the opposite results. It's May check from $1,235 was 145.4
percent higher than last year's $503 total, due in part to a ½-cent
rise in the city's sales tax. Overall, Balmorhea is up 43.16 percent this
year, to $3,578.
Area-wide, sales tax results were mixed, with most of the larger cities
showing either single digit gains or losses, according to Rylander's office.
The Reeves County Hospital District's check for $26,482 was off by 12.13
Overall for 2000, the hospital's ½-cent sales tax has brought
in $126,910, down 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Services for Helen Balog, 60, will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Sunset Memorial
Gardens, 6800 E. Eighth St., Odessa. She died Wednesday, May 10, 2000,
after a long illness.
She was born Oct. 27, 1939 in Seagraves, graduated from Odessa High
School in 1958, and moved to Pecos in March, 1970. She was a homemaker,
an artist and member of the Pecos Pallette Club, and had worked as a clerk
in the office of U.S. Magistrate for 10 years.
Survivors include her husband, Steve Balog of Pecos; one son, Stephen
Balog Jr. of Plano; one daughter, Kim Balog of Plano; four grandchildren;
and one sister, Margie Palmer of Odessa.
Inez Galindo, 86, died Tuesday, May 9, 2000, at Reeves County Hospital.
A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today at the Pecos Funeral Home
Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Friday, May 12, at Santa Rosa Catholic
Church with Father Manuel Munoz officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Evergreen
She was born April 19, 1914, was a lifelong Pecos resident, a homemaker
and a Catholic.
Survivors include two sons, Jose "Pepe" Galindo, Jr. of Carson City,
Calif. and Larry Galindo of Los Angeles, Calif.; two daughters, Virginia
Armendariz of Pecos and Carmen Machuca of Oxnard, Calif.; one brother,
Pedro Ornelas of Santa Paula, Calif.; one sister, Delfina Carrasco of El
Paso; 18 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, May 11, 2000 -- High Wednesday 105. Low this morning 60. Forecast
for tonight: Clear. Low around 60. West wind 10-20 mph and gusty. Friday:
Sunny and cooler. High in the upper 80s. Northwest wind 10-20 mph. Friday
night: Mostly clear. Low 50-55. Saturday: Mostly sunny. High in the mid
80s. Sunday: Mostly sunny day and clear at night. Low 50-55. High in the
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