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Friday, August 11, 2000

Troubles force out city's grant administrator

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 11, 2000 - Carlos Colina-Vargas asked the Town of Pecos City Council to consider his request to terminate his selection to the Texas Community Development Program (TCDP) grant administration in the regular Council meeting Thursday.

Vargas said he had recently gotten into some trouble and thinks it would be better if he was not associated with this program.

He asked the Council to approve the other proposal they had received from the Rural Community and Economic Development.

"If you take the other proposal it will clear any problems in my relationship with the city," Vargas said.

Colina-Vargas, the city's longtime grant administrator, received a two-year probated sentence and was fined $5,000 on June 20 in U.S. District Court in Austin, two months after pleading guilty to bribery of public officials and witnesses.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sentenced Colina-Vargas to probation and a fine as the result of his April 20 plea before the judge to one count of giving illegal compensation to an employee of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government for services rendered or to be rendered.

Colina-Vargas was indicted by a U.S. District Court grand jury on March 7 for illegally giving money to a U.S. government official. The indictment on five bribery counts came following a complaint filed on Feb. 14 in Austin, and he was arrested on Feb. 23.

The Council approved Vargas' request to terminate his selection and also approved to move Tom Nance of RC&ED into his place.

After accepting the new selection, Nance reported the progress of the grant application for the TCDP. Nance said the city is eligible for a $350,000 grant that requires a $70,000 match from the city.

He said the county is also eligible to turn in a separate application for the same grant that is due on August 24.

Mayor Ray Ortega said he would talk to Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo about the county applying for the grant.

The Council approved the resolution to submit an application to the TCDP for the water grants.

The Council also approved the resolutions to submit another application to the TCDP for funding under the planning capacity building fund.

This grant would give the town of Pecos $50,000 with the city matching $10,000 for updating all zoning maps.

In other business, council members discussed the trash pick up schedule and problems with large item pick ups by Duncan Disposal Services out of Midland.

Spokesmen from Duncan were present at the meeting and answered complaints and questions the Council had.

The Council expressed their concern for the amount of large item debris that are in the alleyways. They believe that the items are not being picked up as often as they should and sitting in the alleys for weeks.

Councilman Johnny Terrazas explained that the citizens do not dump their big items in the landfill because they have little access to the site.

"The people get hassled when they try to dump at the landfill so they give up and dump in the alley," Terrazas said.

Jack Burns, area manager for Duncan, said they would discuss the problem with the landfill employees and try to get the problem rectified.

"We will definitely coordinate the problems or try to," Burns said.

City Manager Kenneth Neal asked Burns about the toll-free 800 number citizens could call. Neal said community members call the number but cannot get an answer.

Burns said he did not understand why that is happening because he has operators answering the phones during the day and they have an answering service after hours. He said he would try to solve that problem first thing.

City Finance Director Steve McCormick said sometimes people do get through but are unable to see results.

"When they do get through, they can not get the people to come out even after two weeks," McCormick said.

Burns said the company could possibly correct the problem by setting up an answering service in Pecos so local manager Ronnie Ruiz could call the people back and take care of the pick up.

Burns also assured the Council that they would go back to Midland and design a plan and publish the pick up schedule in the newspaper. He said if community members would call the number and give the company the information on what needs to be picked up they would give them the schedule of days they would be there.

The council discussed a change order for the trench closure at the Pecos Sanitary Landfill.

During the last regular meeting Abidur Khan, engineer for Frank X. Spencer and Associates, gave the council the change order, adding another $2,000 to the cost for modifications to the anchor trench.

Khan reported that extra lining material was added to the trench in order to make it more effective.

The Council tabled the item until this meeting in order to allow City Attorney Scott Johnson a chance to look into the order.

Johnson reported to the council in yesterday's meeting that the change order was the engineer's decision to further stabilize the site.

"In the long run, the additional liner would save the city money," he said.

The Council then approved the change order.

Members also discussed an invoice from Raba-Kistner Consultants, Inc., for additional work but tabled the item for lack of information.

Lydia Prieto, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Tax Assessor Collector, asked the council to consider the 2000-planning calendar, which was approved after study by the members.

Prieto also submitted the property tax roll to the council.

She said there was an increase in value from last year.

The council approved the tax roll as well as a bid of $1,500 for the property at 420 South Mesquite Street.

Fire Marshall Jack Brookshire, who missed the last meeting due to shoulder surgery, reported to the board the appointments of the new electrical board.

The electrical board consists of seven members, including two master electricians, Wayne North and Starkey Warren, one journeyman electrician, John Jackson, an insurance agent from Pecos, Bill Allen, a fire insurance claims adjuster, Armada Johnson, a citizen of Pecos, councilman Gerald Tellez, Jr., and the city electrical inspector, Brookshire.

The board also has two representatives from Texas New Mexico Power Company, Tommy Terry and Angela Romero.

The council approved the board and discussed the plumbing codes and enforcement with Brookshire, who said Pecos does not have a plumbing inspector so there is no one to enforce the codes.

"To do anything in plumbing, you have to be a certified plumbing inspector," he said.

The council decided to take no action until someone in Pecos is certified to be an inspector.

The Texas Department of Transportation requests the council to submit a "wish list" of what they would like to see done in Pecos.

The council discussed many things including landscaping around and on the overpasses in Pecos.

Ortega said he would like to get with the county so they could be on the same page on what would be nice for Pecos.

The council tabled the topic until the budget meeting.

Armando Gil, Pecos Health and Sanitation Director reported to the council on the process of cleaning up the house at 1607 S. Eddy St.

A concerned citizen asked the Council to have something done about the residence in the last regular meeting. She said the house is a health hazard because there are a lot of old cars and car parts in front and the back of the house.

Gil said he has attempted three times to send a registered letter to the owner with no success.

He also said the city has no ability to take action on the house until the owner is notified.

"At this point our hands are tied," Ortega said.

No action was taken until the owner is contacted.

Citizens of the community gave suggestions to naming the community center on the Eastside of town during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Suggestions included naming the center after Martin Luther King, Jr., or after local residents Bessie Haynes or Sydney Sadler.

The Council listened to the suggestions and exclaimed the difficulty of the decision. They decided to put the topic on the next agenda and give the decision a lot of thought.

Board told work done at Crockett

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 11, 2000 - Crockett Middle School, with all its new additions, will be ready in time for the beginning of the school year on Monday.

"It's a wonderful facility, Hawkins did you a real good job," said architect Monte Hunter, from Hunter Corral Associates, while updating Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board on the ongoing project, during their regular meeting held Thursday evening in the board room.

The new addition, which includes a new science lab, computer room and additional lockers, to accommodate the seventh graders, which will now be attending that school, are complete.

"The staff helped out a lot, I'm real proud of this and I hope you're real proud of it as well," said Hunter.

There are a couple of "punch-up items" that still need to be corrected and they will be corrected within the next couple of weeks, according to Hunter.

"We'll hold five percent of their money until it's all corrected," said Hunter. "A little was left over in the contingency fund, you still had $11,000 left."

Hunter also updated board members about the roofing project at the Pecos High School. "We did a walk-through and there are just a few items, very minor, that need to be corrected," he said. "You got a good job from them, too."

The facility at Crockett has a one-year warranty on everything and a 10-year guarantee on the roof.

"We're really pleased with their work," he said.

In other business, the board was told school personnel will be paying a little bit more for prescriptions this year, prior to the board's approval of health insurance premiums and prescription co-pay on Thursday.

Superintendent Don Love told the board that a group had met and discussed the current health insurance and the co-pay and did a cost comparison.

"We're currently paying $5 and $10 for prescriptions," said Love.

By going to $8 for generics and $15 for name-brand the district would save money.

Year-to-date total on drugs paid by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD is $214,319 with 49 mail- order prescriptions at $9,676.

Total amount spent by the district was $18,790 for generic and $195,529 for brand-name medications.

"At least five to one are brand-name by looking at the numbers," said Love, who added in cost terms, 91.23 percent are brand names by dollar amount.

"Now is the time for personnel to sign up for the insurance," said Love.

Following a short discussion the board approved the health insurance changing the co-pay to $8 for generic and $15 for name-brand.

The board approved the certification of anticipated tax collection rate presented by the school's tax-assessor collector, Lydia Prieto.

"The overall increase from last year is $3,157,280," said Prieto. "The estimated collection rate of the current year is 95 percent," she said.

"I anticipate 99-100 percent collection rates on the tax revenue needed for this new school year. This includes current taxes, delinqent taxes, penalties and interest," said Prieto.

Bus routes for the new school year were approved as presented by the transportation director Jimmy Dutchover.

"We've gone from 12 to 10 bus routes," said Dutchover. "The only major change for the coming school year was in special education, we were able to transport them on one bus," he said.

The reading mentor program, which required a bus transport will no longer be needed as the district is discontinuing the program, according to Dutchover.

"These are the only new changes," he said.

Sealed bid proposals for fuel were discussed and the board approved the one bid that was submitted, by the current provider, West Texas Gas. "They've done a good job for us, we don't have any major problems," said Dutchover.

Board members approved purchasing two new pickups from a local vendor, Colt Chevrolet. The other local dealer, Valley Motors, also bid on the two pickups, however, Colt was the lowest bidder.

Workman's comp insurance was discussed and board members agreed to go with another provider for the new school year.

"Cookie (Canon) did a lot of background checking," said Love. "We have been with TASB (Texas Association of School Boards), who have done us a good job, but we decided to look around."

Canon told board members that her research indicated that others who have already signed up with the new company, Deep East Texas, were very pleased with them.

"The references that I called had left TASB and they stated that they were very pleased with DETSIF (Deep East Texas)," said Canon. "The only problem I was worried about is that they're so far away."

Canon told the group that the provider assured her this would not pose a problem.

"I didn't get any negative reports," she said.

Rogers and Belding will be monitoring and Canon stated that her other concern was the people who had incurred claims with TASB. "TASB will still be taking care of those people that already have claims," she said.

Rogers and Belding's report stated that if the district enters into a 3-year interlocal agreement, the DETSIF will guarantee their rates for 3 years and the first year premium will be $154,000. The second and third year premiums will be based on payrolls but the rates will not change. If the district chooses the DETSIF and the three-year agreement, the fund agrees there will be no audit adjustment at the end of the policy period.

A bid on property located at 420 S. Mulberry Street was approved in the amount of $1,500, made by Eddie Chavez of California.

"We actually had two bids and this is the same one that was approved by the hospital and city," said Prieto.

New appointments included:

· Susan Molina, Bachelor of Arts/Elementary Education/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment: Zavala 6th grade teacher;

· Zane Nutt, Bachelor of Arts/Math/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment: Pecos High School math teacher;

· Kala Parker, Bachelor of Arts/English/Reading/University of Texas of the Permian Basin, no experience, assignment: Pecos High School English/Reading teacher;

· Alejandro San Martin, Bachelor of Arts/Spanish/Tarlenton State University, no experience, assignment: Pecos High School Spanish teacher/coach;


· Stella Rodriguez, LVN Nurse/District, effective Aug. 7.

Under changes in contract, Sonia Mendez, from one probationary contract to one-year dual probationary contract.

Shorthanded commissioners to eye phone bids

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 11, 2000 - Telecommunications systems bids will be the topic of discussion at the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting scheduled for Monday morning.

The group will meet at 10 a.m., Monday, to discuss several items. The public is invited to attend.

The court, which canceled a scheduled meeting this past Monday, is expected to be at least one member short when they meet, after Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo was hospitalized on Thursday for an unspecified illness.

Arredondo is currently listed in stable condition at Odessa Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. Officials there and family members declined to give out any further information on the cause of Arredondo's illness

"We appreciate everyone's concern, but right now he needs a lot of rest," said his son Jaime Arredondo. "He's doing okay, we just want him to rest and take care of himself."

Arredondo was re-nominated in a Democratic Party primary runoff election in April to his third four-year term on the Reeves County Commissioners court. He was elected to a four-year term in 1985-89, and was then elected a second time as a write-in candidate in 1994. Arredondo is unopposed in the November general election.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on approval of the certified appraisal roll; property tax exemptions and payments options; 2001 tax collection data processing contract; Reeves County Golf Course Improvements- Ladies Golf Association and TxDOT priority recommendations for Reeves County.

The group will discuss and take action on DRG Architects request for payment invoice numbers 193, 196, 197, 183, and 200; Banes General Contractors request for payment Invoice No. 16; purchase of transportation vans for RCDC and dishwashing machine lease agreement.

An agreement between the RCDC and Odessa College for Vocational Training Services; a contract between Reeves County and Ector County Juvenile Detention Services will also be discussed.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on bid No.11-2000 dining room tables for RCDC; Bid No. 12-2000 correctional furnishings for RCDC and RCDC-remodeling architect services contract.

Regular items on the agenda include to discuss and take action on:

· Deputation and oath of Jaime R. Palma.

· Deputation and oath of Jose Millan Gonzales, Jr.

· Deputation and oath of Israel S. Campos.

· Reports from various departments.

· Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

· Personnel and salary changes, (RCDC, sheriff's office, recreation department, county judge's office and task force).

· Minutes from previous meetings.

· Semi-monthly bills.

· Budget workshop: Revenue and expenditure budget; general fund and road and bridge employee salaries.

· Spread on minutes: contract between Reeves County and Guadalupe Regalado, Leonard Lopez, Mike LeCuyer and Jim Clair.

Federal juries find men guilty of drug, illegal entry charges

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 11, 2000 - Federal court juries convicted two men in separate trials this week, on illegal re-entry and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute charges.

In trials before visiting Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle of Louisiana, Hector Miranda Miranda, 44, of Satevo, Chih., Mex., was found guilty on Wednesday of one count of illegal re-entry, on a incident which occurred on April 10, while 30-year-old Rogelio Ruiz was convicted on Tuesday of possession with intent to distribute under 50 kilograms of marijuana.

Ruiz, of Topeka, Kan., was arrested in an Odessa motel on April 6, where agents had been told to go by the driver of a Chevy van, identified as Albert Rodriguez, who had been stopped at the U.S. 67 Border Patrol checkpoint south of Marfa. Officials said 28.9 kg. of marijuana was found hidden in a compartment in the floor of the van.

Rodriguez told officers he had flown to Midland and was then driven to Presidio by Ruiz, who told him to pick up the van and drive it to the motel in Odessa. Rodriguez said Ruiz was supposed to have followed him in a second vehicle from Odessa to Topeka, but Ruiz denied knowing Rodriguez when agents who went to the motel room arrested him.

Miranda was arrested after the Pontiac he was driving in was stopped on RM 170 headed east towards Study Butte in southern Brewster County. Records showed Miranda had previously been deported for illegal entry on Aug. 20, 1987.

Judge Lemelle was busy in court both on Thursday and today following the trials, taking one plea, ruling on a motion to revoke and handling sentencing on 10 individuals.

Amarillo duo land in jail in cocaine purchase bust

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 11, 2000 - A one-month investigation led by the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and aided by the Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Pecos Police Department ended with the arrest of two individuals on cocaine charges and the recovery of a stolen weapon on Wednesday.

According to the report, at approximately 7:29 p.m., officers arrested Timothy Rodriguez, 27, a white male and Bobby Ray Holman, 24, black male, both from Amarillo, were arrested by officers while at the Flying J. Truck Stop.

The estimated street value of the controlled substance, which officials said was on kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine, is $34,000. Also seized was $9,160 in U.S. Currency and officers recovered a stolen 45 caliber automatic handgun, according to task force commander Gary Richards.

Both men were taken to Reeves County Jail, where they were charged with possession of a controlled substance, bond set at $15,000 for that charge; theft of fireman, bond set at $10,000 and illegal investment, bond set at $10,000. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Rosendo Carrasco set the bonds on Rodriguez and Holman.

"The illegal investment charge stemmed from the individuals trying to buy a kilo of cocaine from one of our undercover officers," said Richards, who added that the incident occurred at the Flying J Truck Stop.

Holman has an MTR (Motion to Revoke) hold out of Amarillo, with the original charge listed as attempted murder. He was currently on probation in that county for attempted murder, according to Reeves County Sheriff's Department report.

Gun buy-back program offered in Monahans

PECOS, August 11, 2000 - The Monahans Housing Authority is offering a gun buy-back program in cooperation with the Monahans Police Department.

The two are offering $50 for both working and non-working guns, and is available to all area residents. Vouchers will be written at the Monahans Police Department, 114 W. Second St., for guns brought there, which can then be turned in to the Monahans Housing Authority, 209 S. Dwight St., which will then write the check for the amount listed on the voucher.

Sellers do have control over where their guns end up, according to Shirley Hill, MHA Executive Director. For further information, call (915) 943-5962.


Robert Hayes

Robert Scott Hayes, 69, of Pecos, died Thursday, Aug. 10, 2000, at Odessa Medical Center.

Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at Mt. Evergreen Cemetery with Rev. Joe Fields officiating.

He was born June 3, 1931, in Pecos, was an Army veteran who had served in the Korean War, a retired farmer, rancher and dispatcher, contract pumper, a lifelong Pecos resident and a Presbyterian.

He was preceded in death by three brothers, John, Prentice and Dennis Hayes; three sisters, Josephine Hayes Frye, Maxy Jane Hayes and Gracie Haynes Wilkins.

Survivors include his wife, Jane Charlene Fletcher Hayes of Pecos; one brother, Dick Hayes of Barstow; three sisters, Adabelle Collins of Barstow, Anne Fleming of Midland and Kitty Reece of Abilene.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, August 11, 2000 - High Thursday 100. Low this morning 69. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with widely scattered evening thunderstorms. Low near 70. Saturday: Partly cloudy with widely scattered afternoon thunderstorms in western areas. Low around 70. High around 100. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with widely scattered thunderstorms in western areas. Lows in the mid 60s to around 70. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Highs in the lower to mid 90s.

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