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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

TxDOT seal-coating work to begin on area highways

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 23, 2001 -- Motorists may find slow and sticky going on the Interstate  20 frontage roads in Reeves County for the next few days, as  construction crews put down fresh asphalt  "seal coats" to refresh and extend the  life of the road surfaces.

"They'll be putting on a new surface from Toyah to the Barstow exit," said Texas Department of Public Safety public relations director Glen Larum, who added that other sections of highway in Reeves and western Ward County also are due for seal coating over the next several weeks.

The sections to be resurfaced by TxDOT include: Interstate 20 frontage roads from FM 2903 at Toyah to near FM 516 (Barstow exit). That includes both the sections through Pecos and those west of town, and the section of frontage road along I-20 east of town that dead-ends at the Pecos River.

Others roads to be seal coated include RM 2355 from FM 516 north of Barstow to SH 115 in Pyote; FM 873 from FM 3398 near Sullivan Bridge to FM 516 in Barstow; Business I-20 from the Reeves County line to east of Interstate 20 and RM road 1927 from Spur 57 in Pyote south to FM 1776.

"They should be done in 3-4 days with the work being done from Toyah to Barstow and they'll be working in that area for a while longer on the other roads, because there are several roads in that area that will be seal-coated," he said.

Work on the projects go underway this week, May 21, and should be wrapped up by the middle of June, barring cold weather or rain, according to Jerry McGuairt, the Texas Department of Transportation's project manager in Fort Stockton.

Lipham Construction Co., Inc. of Aspermont, is putting down the new asphalt surfacing.

Motorists along these stretches of highways will encounter flaggers at major intersections, flaggers and a pilot car in work zones, brief lane closures, and a reduction in traffic speeds in those areas where seal coat work is being done.

"We may reduce the speed of traffic in these construction zones, but the flow of traffic will not be stopped," said McGuairt. "Drivers should always use caution and drive carefully in those areas to avoid windshield and pain damage," he said.

"Whenever possible, I suggest people find alternate routes for a few days," he said.

The seal coat work on Reeves and Ward county highways is part of a summer-long $6.83 million preventive maintenance program involving nearly 400 miles of highways throughout the 12-county TxDOT district.

"Seal coat" is a rock and asphalt layer put down on the highway surface as a preventive maintenance measure to seal the surface and keep moisture from damaging the road base. The seal coat extends the life of the highway.

Toyah to replace water lines with grant

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 23, 2001 -- Replacing 65-year-old distribution lines and  putting in a new  water storage tank are part of the improvements that will be made  in Toyah with a $350,000 grant awarded to city this week.

"We're just very thankful that we received this funding," said Toyah City Mayor Diana Tollett. "We want to keep our community alive."

The grant Toyah received was part of $57.8 million given out to cities and counties as part of the Texas Community Development Program (TCDP) grants announced by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). Both Toyah and Balmorhea received $350,000 for their projects, while Pecos didn't fare as well and received $50,000.

Tollett said that the city has been doing work on their water system in a three-step project. "We put in distribution lines in the north part of town and a new treatment facility and now we want to complete the distribution lines and replace main lines along the tracks," she said. "Those have been there since 1936."

Tollett said after that, the city's whole water system would be current.

"Of course, we use surface water, so we need to have a treatment facility," said Tollett, who added that Toyah officials had been working on this particular grant for about a year and a half.

"We're really grateful that we were awarded this funding, we worked really hard to get it," said Tollett.

The 222 grants announced represent biennial funding from TDCP's Community Development Housing Rehabilitation and Planning and Capacity Building funds, as well as annual funding from both the Colonia Construction and Colonia Planning funds.

Town of Pecos City Manager Carlos Yerena said on Tuesday that work on improving drainage facilities in Pecos would be carried out using the city's $50,000 grant, while Balmorhea Water Superintendent Luis Contreras said they would upgrade their city's water system, install a new storage tank in Toyahvale and put in new fire hydrants with their $350,000 in grant funds.

TCDP awards cities under 50,000 in population and counties under 200,000 in population federal Community Development Block Grants for public works, housing, planning, and economic development projects. Financial assistance is also available to certain counties for eligible activities in colonias, substandard housing developments in unincorporated areas of the border region typically lacking proper infrastructure. All TCDP projects must primarily benefit low-to moderate-income households in accordance with TDHCA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requirements.

"These funds will provide or improve affordable housing and basic public services for thousands of low-income Texans, necessities many of us take too much for granted," said Daisy Stiner, TDHCA Executive Director. "Equally important, these funds can also help smaller cities better plan for their housing and public facilities needs in the future," she said.

Stiner said that because of the isolated nature and low population density of rural communities, public facility improvements are more expensive per capita than for urban and suburban communities. As a result, these communities are often without the financial resources needed to issue bond debt for improvements. "These grants are absolutely vital for Texas' smaller towns with limited funding options," she said.

The Community Development Fund is awarded through a biennial competitive application process and focuses principally on infrastructure needs such as water, wastewater, drainage and road improvements. It is the largest of TCDP's seven funds, accounting for $48.8 million of the $57.8 million in grants announced by the Department.

The Housing Rehabilitation Fund awards grants through a biennial competition for projects rehabilitating existing housing, with a particular emphasis on projects that make existing housing accessible for persons with disabilities. The Planning and Capacity Building Fund, also a biennial funding award, is designed to improve a community by preparing for its future housing and infrastructure needs.

The Colonia Construction and Colonia Planning funds are awarded annually for eligible public facilities and planning activities benefiting low-and moderate-income households living in an unincorporated area of a country located within 150 miles of the Texas-Mexico border.

Inaugural Shrimp Festival set for Balmorhea

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 23, 2001 -- Shrimp cocktails. Shrimp-Ka-Bobs and shrimp scampi are just some of  the dishes that will be cooked up at the inaugural Shrimp Cookoff and  Festival, scheduled for Saturday in downtown Balmorhea.

Organizers of the Memorial Day weekend event will pass out the shrimp at 9 a.m. and food, crafts and D.J. music will begin at 10 a.m.

Entry fee for the event is $75 and will include five pounds of raw shrimp and a one-night stay in the RV park.

Arts and crafts booths will be set up and vendors are welcome to come join the fun.

The group will also be selling raw shrimp for $9 a pound.

Live music will be featured from 1-3 p.m. and at 3 p.m. the judging will begin.

An "Open Mike" event will held at 3:15 p.m., for those want-to-be comedians and singers.

The winners of the Shrimp Cookoff will be announced at 5 p.m. and awards and prizes handed out at that time.

The evening will end with a street dance at 8 p.m.

For more information contact the organizers of the event: Pat Brijalba at 915-375-2323; Norman Roman, 915-375-2206 after 5 p.m. and Kelly Rowden, at 915-375-1119.

Ghost Writer

`Father Brockdus' served wide area of Big Bend

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a continuing series of features  on historical locations and events in the Trans-Pecos region
By The Ghost Writer
PECOS, Wed., May 23, 2001 -- Circuit Rider Nicholas Brockdus Eaaken was born in Belgium in  186l and came to Fort Davis in 1892 just one year after the Fort was  closed. As the Indians were no longer a threat, the last soldiers stationed  at Fort Davis marched to Marfa on July 31, 1891, and there they entrained  to go to other forts. The loss of the soldier's pay was harmful to  the economy; however, there was a small community with ranching as the  main industry. One of the citizens living there was Diedrick  Dutchallover. They later dropped the "all"  and became "Dutchover." Mr. Dutchover died in 1904 and is buried in an  old cemetery on the west side of the Alpine highway. As you know,  some of his descendants live in Pecos.  

The Circuit Rider came to be known as "Father Brockdus." He established the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Fort Davis. He could have been the "qualified person" who said a prayer at the funeral for two boys named Frier who were killed when they were found with stolen horses. The faithful Priest also held services in Alpine in a residence until 1900 when Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church was built across the street from the present post office. In Alpine, he learned of the many people in the Big Bend area. The villages of Terlingua and the two Lajitas (one on each side of the Rio Grande) became part of his parish. Lajitas was a long 138 miles from Fort Davis but this did not deter this faithful priest.

It took two days to reach Terlingua and he would camp out with one of the three to six wagons that traveled the road. It took another day to reach Lajitas and with a two-day stay in each of the villages, a total of ten days was required for the round trip. This trip he made every three of four months.

Word was passed on to the people in the area and when the Priest arrived, there was always a crowd to greet him. It was reported that there were ninety families or 540 men, women and children at Lajitas. Each family had their own shrine but no church building was available for services. A small church was built in Terlingua and Lajitas with local men making the adobe and doing the construction. The only expense was for lumber for framing windows and doors and that was paid for by contributions from merchants in Alpine and Fort Davis.

The Circuit Rider continued this difficult work for 30 years. He did replace his team and surrey with a Model T Ford. The Ford enabled him to spend an additional day in each of the towns but was still a difficult journey.

The majority of information in this, the previous and the next two stories, came from a small book by W. D. Smithers, "Circuit Riders of the Big Bend" Mr. Smithers came to Alpine in the late 1920s or early 1930s. A Federal Government book, The Big Bend, stated that Smithers came to Alpine as a mule teamster in 1916. As the Federal government is prone to err and Smithers was in the army between 1915-1920, I believe the later dates. Mr. Smithers' photos and later his manuscripts became an important part of West Texas history.

My "Mature' advisors are not meeting for a while as they had an argument as to the way toilet paper should come off the roll. Should it come off toward the wall or toward the front? If you readers-if there be any- can help these old men decide the proper way paper should be placed on the dispenser, please let us know so that these grouchy old men can again have coffee together.

City to discuss agreement on prisoners for new jail

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., May 23, 2001 -- The Town of Pecos City Council is scheduled to discuss  and consider an interlocal agreement with the U.S. Marshals  Service during the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at City Hall.

The agreement is for housing of federal prisoners awaiting trial at the Lucius D. Bunton III Federal Courthouse in downtown Pecos at a new Pecos Municipal Criminal Justice Center.

Ground was broken in April for the facility, which will be located on Florez Boulevard between Texas and Moore streets on the southwest side of town. It will initially have 96 beds and will also serve as the new home of the Pecos Police Department and Town of Pecos City jail.

The $5.6 million Criminal Justice Center was designed by Eversole-Williams, while Hale Mills Construction, Inc. is General Contractor for the project, which is expected to take about a year to complete. Currently most prisoners awaiting trial in Pecos federal court are kept at out-of-town facilities by the U.S. Marshal's Service.

In other action Thursday, the council is scheduled to discuss a resolution for the installation of an automated weather observing system (AWOS) at the Pecos Municipal Airport.

The city has qualified for a grant that would allow the city to receive 75 percent of the cost to install the system with the city matching 25 percent. Along with providing better information for aircraft taking off and landing in Pecos, the AWOS could also allow Pecos to be included in the statewide weather statistics complied daily by the National Weather Service.

Also on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting is the consideration by the Council for appointment to the Pecos Housing Authority and employee recognition.

The Council is also scheduled to discuss an offer to purchase foreclosed property located at 1320 W. Fifth St., as well as the monthly tax collector's report, accounts payable and the minutes from the previous meeting.

Rec department announces hours during summer

PECOS, Wed., May 23, 2001 -- Summer hours have been announced at the Reeves  County Community Sports and Recreation Center, while Thursday is the  final day to sign-up boys and girls for the department's summer  T-ball, Taekwon Do and chess programs. 

The recreation center at the old Pecos High School gym will be open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1 to 10 p.m. beginning next Tuesday. On Fridays, the facility will be open from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays it will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the summer.

Sign-ups for the youth T-ball program is for boys and girls ages 4 through 7. The summer Taekwon Do class, which will run two days a week for six weeks and is open to boys and girls ages 5 through 10, and the chess class is open to those ages 6-10 and will also run two days a week for six weeks.

Registration fee for all three is $10 per child, and a birth certificate and signatures from both parents are required with the returned enrollment form. For further information, call 447-9776.


High Tuesday 87. Low this morning 52. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Low near 55. Northeast 5 to 15 mph.  Thursday: Partly cloudy. High around 90. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Thursday  night: Partly cloudy. Low near 55. Friday and Saturday: Partly cloudy.  Low around 55. Highs 80 to 85.


Alfred Pax

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