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Thursday, December 28, 2000

Council considers annexation, dead cows

Staff Writer
PECOS, December 28, 2000  -- Pecos will be getting a little bigger this coming year if the city council moves forward with plans to annex areas that are encompassed by the city limits but that have never been annexed.

The council took on the issue this morning at the regular scheduled meeting at City Hall.

New City Manager Carlos Yerena told the council that annexation was important to the city in terms of tax revenue and future growth.

"We are considering annexing everything within the city limits. Of course revenue is an issue but almost all of the land being considered is vacant so tax revenues at present would not be significant," Yerena said. "The issue is very important for Pecos' growth. Once the land is annexed, city ordinances would apply and the city would have some control."

Director of Public Works Octavio Garcia told the council that the city already has utilities running to land adjacent to the areas being considered.

"Services won't be a problem," he said.

City Attorney Scott Johnson told the council that he recommended notifying the landowners of the city's intentions.

Yerena told the council that the tax assessors office was compiling descriptions for all the lands being considered and that the list should be ready in the near future.

"We want to present this to the council before March 1," he said.

Yerena said that for land to be on the tax rolls for the coming year it would have to be annexed by March 1st.

The council also reviewed a claim by John Clark concerning the loss of five head of cattle in a mud hole caused by a water leak in a city water line on the Roberson Ranch.

Director of Public Works Octavio Garcia told the council that one of his crews had found a dead cow stuck in the mud caused by the leaking line.

"We inspect that line at least once a week and found the cow on an inspection. I had not heard of any cows getting stuck there before that," he said.

According to Clark's affidavit he had discovered three cows and bull mired in the same hole before the city discovered the fifth animal. All four died after being removed from the mud, Clark said in the affidavit.

Garcia said that he had not heard of the previous incident but that perhaps Clark had spoken with former City Manager Kenneth Neal about the matter.

City Finance Director Steve McCormick said that he had spoken with the insurance adjuster for the city's insurance company and the adjuster found that the city did not have any liability.

"What I want to do is negotiate with Mr. Clark and see if we can resolve this," City Attorney Scott Johnson said.

The council authorized Johnson and Yerena to meet with the adjuster and Clark to try to work out an agreeable settlement to the matter.

In other business the council approved a renewal contract with Reeves County to provide fire protection for the county and tabled an offer by Emilio Baeza to buy 313 S. Oak for $500.

According to Tax-Assessor Collector Lydia Prieto, the property, best known as Buster's Barn in the downtown area, has an appraised value of $16,420 and that before the property was forfeited to the taxing entities, $22,284 was owed in back taxes, penalties, interest and attorney fees.

"I do not believe this has been presented to any other entity yet. I recommend that we refer this to the school district and see what it does," he said. The school district receives the highest percentage of property taxes of the four taxing entities _ city, county, hospital and schools.

The council followed Yerena's advice and tabled the issue.

Icy highway strands motorists east of Abilene

By The Associated Press
Stranded motorists spent Wednesday night in the Eastland County Jail, college dormitories or their cars along an icy stretch of Interstate 20 east of Abilene after a winter storm dealt another crippling blow to Texas.

Darrin Dodd of McKinney and his family were returning from Artesia, N.M., when they decided to join about 75 people camping out in cells at the county jail in Eastland.

"The farther we got, the less cars we saw," Dodd said Thursday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety estimated that 1,000 people were stuck around Ranger Hill, a steep incline between Abilene and Fort Worth. Eastland County Chief Deputy Ron Vanderroest said a 15- to 18-mile stretch of I-20 in the county was closed at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Lewis Mangum, who owns an automotive shop in Eastland, said he used his one wrecker truck throughout the night to help motorists who failed to negotiate Ranger Hill. He estimated that 16 other trucks were repeatedly dispatched to pull vehicles from the interstate.

Don Rogers, spokesman for the DPS Division of Emergency Management, said about 30 Texas National guardsmen were using 10 Humvees and all-terrain vehicles to rescue the hundreds of motorists stranded in Eastland and Callahan counties.

The Ranger Fire Department was providing gasoline to motorists to keep their engines and heaters running. The department also provided food for the stranded travelers.

Rogers said about 350 people were staying in area shelters. Two dormitories at Ranger College were opened.

Mark Fox, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said a half-inch of sleet fell in the region and was topped with an inch of snow.

As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, traffic was backed up and stalled for 10 miles both eastbound and westbound. One motorist who had been in the jam since 8 p.m. Wednesday said his vehicle had moved 100 yards in about 11 hours.

The area between Fort Worth and Abilene is the latest to be hit by a winter storm that moved into Texas on Christmas Day.

Tens of thousands of Northeast Texas residents remain without electricity after ice coated trees and power lines, knocking out service.

Officials with area utility companies said it could be two weeks before electricity is restored to some of the residents in the path of a storm that has been slow to pull away from the state.

"This is not a scare tactic - it's realistic," Scott McCloud, a spokesman for AEP / Southwestern Electric Power, said. "This is a devastating storm."

McCloud said the problem was more than just a simple power outage. He said workers were rebuilding damaged transmission lines.

"We're trying to reroute lines so we can at least get some of the critical care facilities back on, but we have at least 25 wooden structures destroyed and at least six metal transmission towers on the ground," McCloud said.

At the Best Western Mount Pleasant Inn, which can accommodate about 100 guests, assistant general manager Kinjal Patel reported a mounting waiting list of people hoping to leave their darkened, unheated homes, many of them from Texarkana and New Boston.

The Rev. Dale G. Stinson of Maud told the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune that he and his wife settled at Patel's motel Tuesday.

"Our stay here is indefinite," he said. "It is just like having your back to the wall with no where to go. We are in the best place here. I've never seen anything like this before."

Some 59,302 SWEPCO customers - more than 60 percent of them Texans, the rest in Louisiana and Arkansas - were without electricity as of Wednesday night. In Texarkana, about 30,000 were still without electricity as of Wednesday night, McCloud said.

The remainder of the Texas outages mostly were in New Boston, DeKalb and the Atlanta-Queen City-Linden area west of Texarkana.

The crippling storm came two weeks on the heels of another ice storm that left 235,000 of the company's customers without power.

"That was the most customers ever out at one time in our company's 88-year history," McCloud said. "And now this."
  Ynocente Dominguez Maria Galindo Velma Young Fred Webb

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