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Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Malaga Bend project gets closer to reality

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 14, 2000 - Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members listened to several reports and requests Monday, but delayed taking action on several water-related items during their monthly meeting at the district's office in Pecos.

The board was updated by Albert Wagner on Loving Salt Co.'s efforts to free up water for use in the Pecos River salt alleviation project, and did free up a $25,000 security deposit Wagner gave the district when the effort first began in 1996.

They took no action on a request by Conoco for access to Red Bluff Lake water for use in a new series of well drilling projects, left untouched the current financing plans for the Red Bluff Dam outlet works rehabilitation project, and delayed any action until later on repairing an office roof at Red Bluff Lake and on the possible sale of property at Ninth and Cedar Streets in Pecos.

Wagner is currently trying to gain access to fresh water rights in New Mexico, which would then be used to make up for the water to be pumped out of Malaga Bend to man-made ponds Loving Salt would build. The water to be removed would be from a salt spring that enters the Pecos River, and originally, Red Bluff was willing to give up that amount of water under the 1989 Pecos River Compact settlement.

But Wagner said, "The Interstate Stream Commission filed a protest. They were not happy with any kind of mechanism we came up with to account for the water," which led him to hunt for fresh water rights to make up for the water to be pumped out of the river at Malaga Bend that would not reach the Texas-New Mexico state line.

Wagner said the water would come from the Brantley Ranch along the Delaware River, which runs from Texas into New Mexico before reaching the Pecos River. The last of three notices on the proposed transfer will be published in the Carlsbad Current-Argus on Thursday, and if there are no protests, the deal could then go though as of Nov. 26.

At the same time, Wagner said he has received a new letter from the Interstate Stream Commission. "They've backed away from their position on moving the water upstream. They will dump the decision into the state engineer's lap and let him decide."

"To me, that a major turnaround in their decision from a few months ago," Wagner said.

"If they turn it back to them (the state engineer) to get approval, I firmly believe they will do it," said Red Bluff Board President Randall Hartman.

However, Wagner told the board he recommended perusing the water rights transfer for at least the immediate future, until Loving Salt and Red Bluff are sure New Mexico officials won't protest moving the Malaga Bend salt spring water upstream.

Wagner was also given back the $25,000 deposit, which had been placed in a Pecos bank four years ago. Wagner said he needed the funds for his end of the project and the board voted 6-1 to approve releasing the money, with Manuel Lujan the lone `no' vote.

If the project finally does get underway, Red Bluff will pay $20,000 for drilling the 250-foot deep well and the water rights, while Wagner will pay the district for the salt extracted at the ponds from the Malaga Bend water. Aside from the addition salt revenues, farmers in Texas who use Pecos River could see a decline in the river water's salt levels by as much as 50 percent.

The salt levels of the river and Red Bluff Lake make it unsuitable for drinking, but not for use in well drilling, which is what John Grubbs of Sonoco, Inc., asked the board to do Monday.

Grubbs is seeking permission to build a pipeline from the lake to the company's leases in Culberson County, where Sonoco is currently trying to develop a new gas field.

"We've had rigs running in the are for the last five months," Grubbs said, but have been forced to truck in water from New Mexico to use at the sites. The rigs need about 5,000 to 10,000 barrels of water to operate.

The company would like to build the pipeline from near the midpoint of the lake due west, to its gas plant near the Reeves-Culberson County line where the water would be stored. Grubbs was told there were no water well sites near there, but the district did have one just south of the New Mexico state line.

General Manager Jim Ed Miller asked Grubbs to check to see if using that well site was feasible, and then talk with the board next month about getting water usage rights.

Board members last month voted to cut off supplying water to homes on the southwest side of the lake, to avoid falling under Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission water quality regulations. On Monday, they were told by lake area resident Krystal Warnick that residents "were kind of working around setting something up under a committee," to drill their own well to pump water to the houses.

"If there are under 14 (houses), the TNRCC cannot do anything," Warnick said. That would require two separate water sources for the lake's homes. "We're still trying to find out all the details. The TNRCC has not gotten back to my husband about it yet."

"I'll bet we can work something out if we put our minds to it," said board member Richard Slack.

The board was also given a map by Warnick showing the new names for the streets in the Red Bluff area, in order to make locating the homes easier under the 911 emergency system.

"We took the resident who had lived on the street the longest and put their name on it," she said, adding that new signs for the streets should be ready by the end of the year.

The board took no action on a request by Jack and Kevin Duke to buy property owned by the district on South Cedar Street for $10. The property is the site of the old Jim Wafer Oil-Chevron Station, which has been closed since the early 1990s.

The board was concerned with the cost of removing the old gasoline tanks and gas-contaminated dirt at the site. "If we can walk out clean, I want to sell it. If not I don't want to be in any liability," Miller said.

Hartman recommended Miller talk with the district's lawyers to see what the effects would be on the district by selling the property.

In other action the board:

- Opted to wait until after the Red Bluff outlet project is completed before doing any work to the office roof at the lake. The office is currently being used by officials with Orion Construction, which are in charge of the $672,000 project.

- Discussed working with the seven water districts served by Red Bluff to create an underground water district for the area. Board member Charlotte Wilcox said plans the district has to be in place by the first of the year, and board member Jay Lee said, "If Red Bluff is involved with all seven districts under it, they may have more stroke behind it."

- Opted against borrowing any money at this time for the district's account, due to the cost of the outlet project.

- Approved merit bonuses for district employees equal to 40 percent of one month's salary.

The district's water report, accounts payable report and cash disbursement report for the past month were also approved by the board.

PHS teachers wary of schedule change

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 14, 2000 - The status of "block scheduling," at Pecos High School brought out several teachers to this past Thursday's Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board meeting, and they voiced their opposition to any changes in the current scheduling plan.

Spokesperson for the group, Jamie Crisp, said the teachers became concerned because of rumors that the board wanted to change the schedules back to an eight period day.

Crisp told the group that CIC had met and come up with a report indicating the teachers' displeasure with the changes and provided data supporting their claims. The group also had a survey that was taken at the high school on which schedule the teacher's preferred.

The item was discussed at length, with several teachers giving their input and board members asking several questions about the matter.

"We are currently on the Modified Block Schedule," said Crisp.

In their survey, 22 teachers voted that they wanted the A/B Block Schedule, 22 voted for the Modified Block Schedule and three were for the eight-period day.

In an eight-period day, each period if 45 minutes long. Two or three 45-minute lunches or open campus lunch.

In Modified Block scheduling, the present schedule. First and eight periods are 55 minutes long. All 2nd/5th, 3rd/6th, and 4th/7th periods are 90 minutes long. Three 30-minute lunches are held during third period.

In A/B Block. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th periods are on Purple Days, while 5th, 6th,7th and 8th periods are Gold Days. All periods are 90 minutes long and there are three 30-minute lunches during 3rd/7th periods.

The board agreed to let P-B-T Superintendent Don Love meet with the teachers and appropriate staff and to bring their findings back to the board for further discussion and possible approval.

In their report the teachers said they found that with block scheduling showed positive effects. Those included: higher standardized test scores (Advanced Placement included), better attendance rates, improved grades, better mastery and retention of subject matter, fewer discipline referrals due to less movement between classes per day, deeper understanding of concepts, greater involvement of students, greater flexibility in teaching activities, more individual attention given to students by teachers, more variety/effectiveness in teaching strategies and activities in a class period, increased teacher knowledge of students and more individualized instruction and less skipping of individual classes.

The teachers also found that they spent more quality time with students, more time for students to begin homework assignments and to ask for any help that they may need, time to complete a laboratory assignment in one session and provide feedback, time to present a new concept, explain it, and have students apply it and time to re-teach right then if students run into difficulties in application and that PHS overall highest TAAS scores were achieved on the A/B Block schedule.

Crisp told the board that before changes are made in the high school schedule, they would like to recommend that the conclusions (and recommendations to the school board) of the block scheduling committee of 1994-1995 be re-examined by all concerned parties.

"We believe the strong support of all stakeholders _ students, parents, teachers, principals, school board and superintendent _ is necessary for any scheduling to succeed," she said.

School board member Paul Deishler stated, "Whatever schedule fits the students needs is the schedule they need."

"Our main priority is academics, as long as academics comes first, that's the schedule we need to be on," he said.

"What are the disadvantages to the block scheduling?" asked board member Steve Valenzuela.

"For some subjects, it's nice to have the students in that class everyday," said Crisp.

The teachers said in the last 5-6 years, the schedules have been changed, and that wasn't good for the teachers or the students. "It's just very confusing," said teacher Sam Armstrong.

The item will be discussed at length before any changes will be made, according to board president Louis Matta.

During the audience portion of the meeting, teacher Diane Paz, said she had been asked by several parents to speak on their behalf at the board meeting. "They wanted me to ask you to look into the band director and the band program and to do something about those problems," said Paz, referring to complaints about the band's trip to Las Cruces, N.M. on Oct. 21 for a band competition.

Board members approved a spring band trip, which will be sponsored by the band boosters. The trip is scheduled for April 27-28, at the Dixie Classic Festival in San Antonio.

Estimated total cost is set at $29,800. "There will be one sponsor for every 10 kids," said Love.

"Mr. (Abel) Dominguez spoke to us about it, we talked about it and it's a good plan," said Love.

About 180 kids will be transported to the festival, which will take place after UIL competition, according to Love.

Electrical problem suspected in Monday fire

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 14, 2000 - All units of the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department were called out to a trailer house fire at about 8 p.m. on Monday at 110 W. Daggett St.

Town of Pecos City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said an electrical problem in the east wall of the east bedroom was the likely source of the fire.

Brookshire said Johnny Mauldin owns and occupies the house but he was not there at the time the fire broke out

Fire Chief Roy Pena said the firemen were able to keep the fire from spreading.

"We contained it to that area," he said.

Pena said there was a lot of smoke damage to the trailer but said it could have been worse.

He said they were lucky to have the wind blowing to the east helping the firemen contain it.

"If the wind would have been blowing west it would have spread," he said. "The wind helped it because we would have lost it."

Both fire and ambulance personnel were at the site between 45 minutes and an hour, until the fire was fully under control.

The fire capped a busy day for Pena, who was called out along with other fire and emergency service personnel to a false alarm fire report at Reeves County Hospital at 4:15 a.m. on Monday. Meanwhile, starting on Wednesday, Pena will be attending a Texas Municipal League Conference in Austin with Mayor Ray Ortega, Interim City Manager Octavio Garcia, City Secretary Geneva Martinez and Finance Director Steve McCormick.

Armendariz handling Pecos postmaster's job

Staff Writer

PECOS, November 14, 2000 - A long-time local Postal Service employee is currently serving as Pecos postmaster until that position becomes vacant and a full-time replacement is selected.

Herman Armendariz, a 21-year Pecos post office employee, is handling the job of postmaster until the position becomes officially open.

"Officially it's still Ramona (Sterling) the postmaster, but I'm filling in for her until she officially retires," said Armendariz. Sterling has suffered from respiratory problems, and left her job for good earlier this fall.

Armendariz will have worked for the local facility for 21-years on Nov. 29. "I started as a carrier and moved up to the clerk's position," he said.

Armendariz has filled in for the postmaster on several occasions for the past year and a half.

"I've been doing it, since Ramona has been sick for the past year and a half," said Armendariz, who added that he plans to apply for the position when it does become available.

"I've really enjoyed working here and I plan to stay here," said Armendariz. "The other employees have been encouraging me to go ahead and apply for the postmaster position."

The position will be open to West Texas employees. "I've worked under four postmasters so far, and this position will just be put out in the West Texas area," he said.

Armendariz had applied for the position the last time it came open, but the position was given to Sterling, who had also served in the position previously on a temporary basis.

Armendariz is currently overseeing 14 employees in Pecos and has seen many changes throughout the years. "I've been through some administrative training and have a lot of on-the-job training," he said, laughing.

Stamps going up in price are just one of the changes Armendariz has seen in his postal career. "The projected date for stamps to go up again, is Jan. 7, when they will go up to 34 cents, one cent more," he said.

Another change and something he finds very exciting, is technology. "We just got this new system and we're very excited about it," said Armendariz about the POS1 computerized system.

"With this new computer system, it not only weighs the packages, but it can tell us more accurately when the mail will get there," said Armendariz. "It can also find a zip code, which helps us to keep better track of all the mail."

Armendariz said that in Texas they try to get everything mailed to the appropriate location within 24-hours.

"This computer is really helping us a lot and we're very happy to have it," he said.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service is still planning to build a new post office in Pecos, though work right now is over a year behind schedule.

"It's still on hold, but we are going to get it," said Armendariz. The new building will be built on South Cedar, between Eighth and Ninth Streets, and would replace the current 65-year-old facility.

When he's not busy at the post office, Armendariz enjoys spending time with his family which includes his wife, Olga, a Town of Pecos City employee, his two children, Herman Armendariz III who lives in Arlington, his daughter, Kerrie Muniz, of Andrews and his five granddaughters.

Pecos-Parkland tickets available at business office

PECOS, November 14, 2000 - Advance tickets for the Pecos Eagles' Class 4A bi-district game Friday night against the El Paso Parkland Matadors are available through Friday afternoon at the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school business office, 1302 S. Park St.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students at the business office. The game, the first home playoff game for Pecos in 25 years, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Eagle Stadium, and tickets will also be available at the gate before kickoff.


Shirley Ann Reavis

Shirley Ann Reavis, of Camp Wood, Tx., died Sunday, Nov. 12, 2000, at her residence.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Nelson Funeral Home Chapel, in Camp Wood.

She was born March 30, 1934, in Pecos.

Survivors include one daughter, Karen Patterson of Barksdale; two sons, Edward Henry Reavis of Freer, Jerry Wayne Reavis of San Antonio; two sisters, Lucille Kersh and Donna Pickett of Cross Cut; one brother, Jerry R. Brown of Cross Plains; three grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Nelson Funeral Homes of Camp Wood is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, November 14, 2000 - High Monday 53. Low this morning 30. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 35-40. Southeast wind around 10 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy and warmer. High 65-70. Southwest wind 10-20 mph and gusty. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 30s. Thursday: Partly cloudy. Low in the lower 30s. High in the lower 50s.

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