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Thursday, August 10, 2000

Council passes LEC, water field projects

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 10, 2000 - Town of Pecos City Council voted to allow Corplan Corrections to take the first steps towards construction of a Municipal Law Enforcement Center, at their regular meeting this morning.

Council members also took the next step in financing construction of the city's planned South Worsham Water Field, authorizing $8.835 million in tax and revenue certificates of obligation for the project.

Police Chief Clay McKinney told the Council the new Law Enforcement Center would be good for the community.

"This project has a high degree of success," he said.

The U.S. Marshall Service assured McKinney that if the city builds the new facility they would be able to fill this facility before surrounding area facilities because Pecos is a "court city."

"A court city will always be filled first," Corplan president James Parkey said. The Marshal's Service is currently keeping most of its prisoners due in U.S. District Court in Pecos at out-of-town jail sites.

Parkey said Corplan, out of Argyle, near Denton in North Central Texas, is prepared to finance the project if the Council chooses to move on with the project and could have the facility up and running in one year after construction starts.

He said Winkler County has the same facility that is planned for Pecos.

"Winkler County has never put a dime into it," Parkey said.

He added that the structure would be completely internal, meaning that all activities will be done inside the building including recreation and exercise for inmates.

"The only inmate you would see is one mowing the lawn," he said. "It is totally secure, sound and safe."

After the Council approved the new jail facility, McKinney showed the Corplan team the possible sites of the jail.

McKinney said approximately 20 new employees would be needed for the facility and he wants to hire local people.

"I hope to hire everyone from Pecos," he said. "I'd like to get the people of Pecos a good paying job before I go outside the community."

Site selection will be discussed in the next regular City Council meeting.

On the South Worsham project, Larry Skiles, financial advisor for the city, reported to the Council their need to authorize the issuance of combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation in two separate amounts of $8.375 million and $460,000.

Skiles said the only thing needed to get the money is for the Council to approve the issuance.

The $8.375 million would be used for construction of a water well field about 20 miles southeast of Pecos, and the $460,000 would be used as pre-design engineering.

Mayor Ray Ortega said the $460,000 is there "just in case we need to use it."

Skiles informed the Council if they receive the $460,000 and decide they don't need it they need to tell the state within 60 days.

By authorizing the issuance of these certificates the Council awarded the sale of the certificates of obligation, designating the passage of this ordinance as an emergency measure.

In relation to those items the Council discussed funding of the design phase of engineering services for South Worsham Well Field.

Steve McCormick, finance director, said the Council could borrow the money for this project from a bank, but he does not feel comfortable about that option.

Council members are waiting a possible grant that may pay for the construction but said they do not want to take the chance of not being reimbursed.

The Council decided to table this item until they have a chance to receive the resolution.

Remaining items discussed during this morning's meeting will be in Friday's Enterprise.

Freeport quiet on possible sale of sulphur mine

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 10, 2000 - Freeport-McMoRan officials are keeping quiet about the possible sale of its Culberson County sulphur mine site and surrounding land, but the property is still `up for grabs' and any all offers will be considered, according to spokesman Garland Robinett.

Reports have circulated both in Pecos and Van Horn that the New Orleans, La., company has sold the property, 13 months after operations ceased at the 30-year-old mine. But Robinett declined to say if Freeport has made a sale or is close to one, stating that the company is open to any and all offers at this time.

"There have been some individuals that have looked at the site, but they don't want to comment at this time," he said.

Freeport McMoRan closed sulphur operations on July 6, 1999 and laid off its last employees this past November. Since then the mine, located 40 miles northwest of Pecos, has been empty and unused.

The mine opened in 1969 under operation of Arizona-based Duval Corporation. Freeport-McMoRan bought the mine from Pennzoil Sulphur Company in 1995. Pennzoil had purchased the mine from the Duval Corporation in the mid-1980s

As of this morning, the Culberson County Tax Appraisal Office did not have any paperwork on hand indicating that Freeport's property, which extends into Reeves County, has been sold.

"We have heard rumors about it already being sold, but we don't have anything on it yet," said a spokesperson for that office. "We don't have any information on that."

Whether or not the mine would reopen in some form if a sale is completed is also unknown. At its height of operations, the mine employed over 400 people, most of who lived in Pecos, and was the largest single taxpayer in Culberson County.

"Employees at the Culberson Mine worked diligently in the depressed sulphur market to keep the mine operating for the last several years," said Bill Collier, director of communications for Freeport-McMoRan at the time of the mine's closing.

Sulphur prices had been driven down to a level at which it was no longer economically feasible to operate the mine, according to Collier. However, the sharp jump in oil prices since that time the mine's closing was announced on June 30, 1998, has also served to raise the price of sulphur which was being extracted from oil produced in Canada and other countries overseas.

Collier said last July that the change to extracting sulphur as a byproduct of oil and gas production had made the Frasch mining method used the Culberson Mine unprofitable. In 1988, 37 percent of world sulphur was mined, compared to 63 percent produced as a byproduct of oil and gas production.

In 1998, only 10 percent of the world supply of sulphur came from mines, and 90 percent comes from oil and gas production.

Sulphur production from the Culberson Mine had totaled 46 million long tons. Only an estimated six million long tons of sulphur remained in the mine, the last year of production. During its 30-year life, the mine had 1,782 wells where hot water was injected into the sulphur deposit to liquefy it for pumping to the surface.

It was shipped to market by train.

Classic adjusts channel lineup for basic cable

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 10, 2000 - If you're looking for the shopping channel in Pecos, don't go to channel 43.

Classic Cable, the current cable provider for the Pecos area, switched QVC and three other channels on its system Tuesday.

"We just realigned some channels," said area manager Chris Christiansen.

He said what the cable company is doing is moving some channels to provide individuals who want to subscribe and receive basic cable, to have a full 12 channels.

However, people who have only been receiving Channels 2 through 13 under the basic package won't be seeing the Atlanta Braves anymore, as their station, WTBS, has been moved from Ch. 3 to Ch. 43 as part of the switch.

"This is a permanent thing, we won't be changing them back," said Christiansen.

Under the other change, C-SPAN, which was Ch.11, can now be seen on Ch. 48, which was previously the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Channel. School news can now be viewed on Ch. 11.

"All the changes that were going to be done, should be up already," said Christiansen.

These changes will enable basic subscribers to have access to other stations, such as the shopping channel and the school news channel, which are both very important to the community, according to Christiansen.

Crockett girls can get workout clothes Saturday

PECOS, August 10, 2000 - Crockett Middle School seventh and eighth grade girls can pick up their volleyball workout clothes from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the school gymnasium, coach Roxie Chaves said today.

Chaves said players need to come to the gym with a parent, who will have to fill out forms before they can be given their clothes, and will also have to bring physical forms that have been filled out and signed by doctor if they have not already done so.


Gayle Baize

Gayle W. Baize, 83, died Sunday, Aug. 6, 2000, at his home.

Services were held Wednesday at the Parker Funeral Home Chapel with Paige Baize officiating and Arlon Baize assisting. Burial was in Fairview Cemetery at Tuxedo.

Baize was born in Gatesville. He had lived in Coleman for six years and moved there from Lake Proctor. He was a farmer and a retired superintendent of Bridge Construction, a former Pecos resident, a Church of Christ member and was a board member of the community center at Lake Coleman. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Granbury and married Earlene Rorie in 1939.

Survivors include his wife, Earlene Baize of Lake Coleman; one daughter, Linda Merlene Gattis of Abilene; one son, Van Baize of Bowie; one brother, Novel Baize of Baird; one sister, Grace Box of Pecos; three grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.

Baird Funeral Home of Baird, was in charge of arrangements.

Robert Hayes

Services are incomplete for Robert Scott Hayes, 69, who died this morning at Odessa Medical Center.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, August 10, 2000 - High Wednesday 98. Low this morning 70. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 60s. South wind 5-10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High around 100. South wind 5-15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 70s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 70s. High around 100.

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Pecos Enterprise
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