Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, January 4, 2001
Galindo says lobbyists' fees worth price
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, January 4, 2001 - Reeves County has hired lobbyists to help in
their fight against nuclear waste in West Texas and they are to begin working
immediately. But the president of the company the county is primarily targeting
said their project is on hold right now while adding he thought the county
is overpaying for its lobbying effort.
Commissioners approved the hiring of Leo Aguirre Mgt. of America and
Aldrete Communications for $3,000 per month for a five-month period. It
also includes payment to Leo Aguirre of $2,000 a month for management for
a five-month period and $2,000 a month for Aldrete Communications for a
five-month period. The proposal stated this would be a firm fixed price
for this effort.
"That's a little on the pricey side," said Envirocare of Texas president
Rick Jacobi when informed about the $30,000-$35,000 fee the county will
pay for the lobbying effort.
Envirocare has submitted an application to the Texas Department of Health
to build the site, which would house the low-level radioactive waste in
an above-ground concrete bunker on land eight miles northeast of Barstow
in Ward County. The company says its "assured isolation" plan would allow
the waste to be removed at a later date if a way is found to decontaminate
the radioactive materials.
Leo Aguirre was a deputy for Bob Bullock and John Sharp's Comptroller's
office, according to Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, while Amy Spiro
with Mgt. of America was a committee clerk for Senator David Sebly, with
the Economic Development and now works on public governmental performance
reviews for her new employer
Galindo said the owners of Aldrete Communications in Austin both have
ties to officials in the House and Senate.
"James and Eddy Aldrete are the sons of Chris Aldrete, who worked for
Lyndon B. Johnson and Senator Lloyd Bentsen, so both firms come with a
lot of experience," said Galindo. "They both have a lot of political and
Galindo said the amount of money designated for the project is just
"a drop in the bucket," when it comes to fighting the waste disposal company
that wants to locate their business in West Texas.
"It's my understanding from reading the Dallas Morning News, that at
the last session, between Envirocare and Waste Control Specialist, they
spent over $1 million for lobbying, by hiring former Speakers of the House,
Gib Lewis and Billy Clayton," said Galindo.
Galindo said between both companies, they spent considerably more than
what Reeves County has allocated for their lobbying efforts and their fight
"They spent over a million dollars, that's a lot more than the $30,000
we could spent," he said.
"So, $30,000 is not even a drop in the bucket, it evaporates before
it hits the bottom," said Galindo, "but we're going to fight it."
Galindo said the company had spent more than $10,000 in just newspaper
"I believe these two firms can help us leverage our small amount of
money we can use for this issue," said Galindo.
"When you spent $35,000 and the opposition spends over a million over
the last session, it's like David and Goliath," said Galindo.
Galindo said this was a very important issue for Reeves County and the
surrounding communities. "We just don't want this type of venture in West
Texas," he said.
Envirocare's request is being studied by the TDH's Bureau of Radiation
Control. Jacobi said Envirocare has not been in contact with the TDH in
"We haven't heard anything from TDH, but things kind of slow down here
(in Austin) during the holiday season," he said.
TDH officials said last month they were still awaiting responses from
Envirocare to questions about the project the agency submitted this past
"Right now we are waiting for them to respond fully to a letter we sent
on May 22 requesting additional information on their application," said
Phil Shaver, who heads up the review effort for the Bureau of Radiation
Control's Special Licensing Program.
Jacobi said right now the Ward County plan is taking a back seat to
the proposed settlement between Envirocare and Waste Control Specialists
over a defamation lawsuit filed in April by Envirocare owner Khosrow Semnani
in the U.S. District Court for Utah.
In early 1999 both companies sought to locate the low-level radioactive
waste dump in western Andrews County, near the Texas-New Mexico border,
after the state's proposed site near Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County was
rejected by the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission and Texas
Gov. George W. Bush in December 1998.
A report done in the spring of 1999 by the University of Texas indicated
both the Envirocare and WCS sites in Andrews County were above part of
the Ogallala Aquifer, making them unsuitable for storing radioactive waste.
However, both firms still plan to use those sites for storage of non-radioactive
The settlement was reached in November, but Jacobi said, "We're still
trying to finalize that settlement. Until that's finalized we're just going
to sit tight," on the Ward County project.
State Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) has already submitted a bill to the
Texas Legislature. for when its new session begins next week, which would
remove Hudspeth County as the only site where radioactive waste can be
stored. Jacobi said he knew of no other bills that have been filed, but
added, "Representative (Warren) Chisum may have a bill to clarify the assured
isolation techniques and Representative (Bob) Turner may submit a bill
seeking a local referendum on the site."
Chisum was a supporter of the planned Andrews County site during the
1999 Texas Legislature, while Turner's district includes Ward County, and
the proposed Envirocare site near Barstow.
However, Jacobi said the radioactive waste issue might not even be a
factor in this year's session. "The radioactive waste issue may have to
take a back seat to redistricting, so we may have to wait until 2003,"
when the next session of the Texas Legislature convenes.
Work started on new motel for UP crews
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, January 4, 2001 - Construction of a new motel, designed mainly
for Union Pacific Railroad employees, has begun west of Flying J Truck
Stop on Interstate 20.
Western Construction of Pecos has been hired by Lodging Enterprises,
Inc. to begin the "earth work" for the new Oak Tree Inn.
Roy Riggs, Corporate Director of Development for Lodging Enterprises,
got approval for tax abatement on the new motel from the Town of Pecos
City Council during a regular meeting on Oct. 12, 2000.
During that meeting Riggs explained to the Council that the motel would
mainly house railroad workers, as part of Union Pacific's plan to space
out its crew changing areas every 200 miles in West Texas. The other locations
where crews will change are Fort Worth, Sweetwater and El Paso.
Riggs assured the Council that local people would staff the 40-room
"We don't have anybody coming in from out of town," he said during the
Raymond Cardenas, Superintendent for Western Construction, said the
"earth work" was started last Thursday, Dec. 28.
Cardenas said all the soil used for the "earth work" is from the construction
Riggs explained today that the construction working forming the "building
pad" are digging a "pond" in order to use that dirt.
He said the "pond" would be re-contoured after this stage of construction
to be used as a place for storm water to run off in.
Cardenas believes this part of construction would go quickly and be
ready for the next step by next week.
"It (building construction) should be kicking up her pretty soon," he
Riggs said that this design build project has been awarded to EBCO Construction
in Cameron, Tx.
He also said local construction workers would be hired as needed during
"We'll hire anybody that we can get," he said. "It's hire as you go."
Another almost identical motel is being constructed in Alpine at the
same time as this project, to house Union Pacific crews on the line between
Houston and El Paso.
Riggs said the only difference in the two motels is the Alpine motel
would have a restaurant.
He said a restaurant would not be built in the Pecos motel because there
already is a 24-hour restaurant at Flying J and there is "no reason to
compete with that."
Riggs said the new Oak Tree Inn should be completed in about ½
months, putting the opening date at some time in May.
Applications for positions at the Oak Tree Inn would become available
about 30 days before the motel's opening, he added.
Stage Stores' closing plans won't affect Pecos' Beall's
From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, January 4, 2001 - A second round of store closings sought by
Houston-based Stage Stores will not affect their Beall's store in Pecos
or any of the company's other stores in West Texas. But seven stores in
the Houston area, along with all their stores in six other states, would
be shut down if the latest step in the company's reorganization plan is
Stage Stores has asked a bankruptcy judge for approval to close seven
of its Palais Royal stores in the Houston area as part of a plan to shut
down 121 more stores nationwide.
The Houston-based retailer, which specializes in selling brand-name
clothing in small towns in the Midwest and southern Central Plains states,
has been closing under-performing stores since seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection from creditors in June.
Before filing for bankruptcy, the company operated nearly 600 stores
in 33 states under the Stage, Palais Royal and Beall's names.
Since June, it has closed 120 stores and hopes to shutter 121 more and
withdraw entirely from six states: Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska,
Ohio and Wyoming. The company would be left with 348 Stage stores in 14
states: Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas,
Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Colorado.
The company has had difficulty absorbing its many acquisitions, including
the 1997 purchase of the 240-store C.R. Anthony chain, which included Anthony's
store in Pecos, along with others in Monahans, Fort Stockton, Kermit and
the Midland-Odessa area.
GED testing, sign-up dates are changed
PECOS, January 4, 2001 - Registration deadlines and scheduled times for
GED testing have been changed from those first announced by Pecos High
The GED tests will be held at 5 p.m., next Monday and Tuesday, Jan.
8 and Jan. 9, at Pecos High School. Registration is scheduled for today
and Friday from 1-4 p.m., at the Pecos High School Counselor's Office.
Examinees must present a Texas driver's license or Texas Department
of Public Safety ID Card.
For more information call Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola, Pecos High School
Counselors at 447-7229.
PECOS, January 4, 2001 - High Wednesday 60. Low this morning 29. Forecast
for tonight: Mostly clear. Low in the lower 30s. West wind 5 to 15 mph,
becoming northwest late. Friday: Mostly sunny. High near 60. North wind
10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Increasing clouds. Low near 30. Saturday: Mostly
cloudy. Highs near 60. Sunday: Decreasing cloudiness and cooler. Lows 25
to 35. Highs 45 to 55.
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