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Archive 2001

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Bridge repairs east of Pecos get underway

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 7, 2001 -- Frequent travelers between Pecos and Barstow will find a new sight  on Business Interstate 20, one that's expected to be in place for about  the next 12 months.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has began working on widening the long bridge between Barstow and Pecos in October and has now opened a two-lane detour road to the side of the bridge until construction on the new bridge is completed.

Assistant Area Engineer for TxDOT Kelli Revennaugh said that the long bridge is now in the process of being torn down and replaced.

Construction of the bridge should be completed next fall.

"The contractor's schedule says that construction should last through October of 2002," Revennaugh said.

TxDOT is also working to replace a bridge just south of Pecos on U.S. 285 along with the bridge between Pecos and Barstow that was erected in 1942 when the road was designated as U.S. 80.

"This is in conjunction with the bridge out on Toyah Lake," Revennaugh said.

"Toyah should be finished around August 2002," she said. The U.S. 285 project began back in August, but because Toyah Lake is considered a navigable body of water _ even though drought conditions have left the lake bed dry since the mid 1990s _ work on that crossing has required one-lane traffic to be routed across the bridge and traffic control lights be placed at either end of the crossing, since TxDOT cannot build a temporary road across the lake bed.

TxDOT is replacing both bridges in order to make them wider.

Revennaugh said that the removal process for the 59-year-old bridge on Business I-20 should begin soon.

"It should start within the next few weeks," she said.

While construction is going on both highways, Revennaugh asks the public to travel safely through the construction sites.

"I'd like to advise the travelers to be aware of the construction and watch out for the workers," she said.

County, state voters approve all 19 amendments

From Staff and Wire Reports
PECOS, Wed., Nov. 7, 2001 -- Road building, in the state's jam-packed cities and in remote spots  along the Texas-Mexico border, took center stage in the constitutional  amendments election.

Campaigning with the theme "Keep Texas Moving," supporters of two transportation propositions credited Republican Gov. Rick Perry with ensuring their success at the ballot box Tuesday.

"You've got to give credit where credit is due," said state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, a backer of border road bonds. "I've got to thank him publicly."

All 19 proposed constitutional amendments were approved. Voter turnout was low - an estimated 8 percent - as was expected because there were no statewide candidates on the ballot.

Voter turnout in Reeves County also was low, with only 229 people casting ballots on the 19 amendments, 131 of those on Tuesday at the Reeves County Civic Center and the other four polling sites in the county, in Balmorhea, Saragosa, Toyah and Orla.

Voters in the county agreed with those statewide, and favored all 19 amendments in Tuesday's election. Of those, Proposition 7, which allowed the Veterans Land Board to sell up to $500

million in bonds to finance additional home mortgage loans to veterans, while permitting the use of certain assets for creating, operating and improving veterans' cemeteries, received the most votes in favor, 186, with 35 voting against.

The closest vote, both in Reeves County and statewide, was for Proposition 3, which exempts coffee and cocoa at the Port of Houston from property taxes. In Reeves County, 106 voters approved the proposition, while 96 voted against, and statewide, uhe proposition passed with 415,350 votes, or 52 percent. Voting against were 385,255, or 48 percent.

On the two amendements involving funding on transportation projects, local voters approved by a 134-87 margin Proposition 2, which authorized the issuing of up to $175 million of state general obligation bonds and notes to assist counties for access road projects to serve border colonias. Proposition 15, which authorized creation of the Texas Mobility Fund to finance the construction, acquisition and expansion of state highways and would partly pay for public toll roads and other public transportation projects, passed by over a 2-1 margin in Reeves County, 146 votes to 72, and overall, Texas voters approved it by almost the exact same margin, with 542,450 votes (68 percent) in favor and 258,922 (32 percent) against.

Voting in Harris and Travis counties figured heavily into the outcome because local elections drew people to the polls.

In Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, Mayor Lee Brown and City Councilman Orlando Sanchez were headed to a runoff after none of the six mayoral candidates collected 50 percent of the vote.

Voters also were asked about the fate of light rail and whether the city should be banned in the future from offering health benefits to the same-sex and domestic partners of city employees.

In Austin, former city councilman Gus Garcia defeated seven challengers to finish the unexpired term of former Mayor Kirk Watson, who resigned to run for Texas attorney general.

The governor spoke out only on the transportation propositions. His trips across the state touting the two amendments paid off, said proponents of the measures.

Both amendments will make for safer and reliable roads and spur economic development, Perry said.

"This constitutional amendment election will long be remembered as one that helped to dramatically change our state's approach to building roads and highways," Perry said.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved allowing the sale of up to $500 million in bonds to finance home mortgage loans to veterans and operate and improve veterans' cemeteries.

And they approved a constitutional amendment that will authorize up to $2 billion in bonds for water projects.

"This is the beginning of the down payment to make sure we have water to serve our needs for the next 50 years," said state Sen. J.E. "Buster" Brown, R-Lake Jackson.

Propostion 19 passed statewide by a 64-36 percent margin. In Reeves County, 130 people voted in favor of the water bond amendment and 70 votes against.

The Sierra Club opposed the amendment, suggesting that the money would be used for large water projects that could harm the environment.

The Texas Water Development Board in issuing the bonds "needs to live up to its claims that it would provide for waterways and water projects for small communities," said Ken Kramer, the Sierra Club's state director.

Proposition 8, which won approval, will authorize $850 million for repairs and maintenance at 13 state agencies, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Proposition 8 passed in Reeves County by a 132-86 vote margin.

"This will mean that we'll finally finish a backlog of repairs, that systems will now be brought up to snuff and that we'll no longer be bogged down in a backlog of maintenance problems. This also will let us tackle some new neat programs," said Andy Sansom, TPWD executive director.

The mobility fund could lead to new types of financing for state road construction, including bonds, although the amendment doesn't provide money for the fund. That would have to occur in the 2003 legislative session, said state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who hopes that $100 million will be appropriated.

"I will work diligently with my colleagues, both in the House and the Senate, to make sure that we put money into the mobility fund," she said.

While opponents have spoken against using bonds for road building, proponents said it was time for the state to move beyond its traditional pay-as-you-go system.

Other measures which gained approval on Tuesday included Proposition 5, which allows a municipality to give outdated or surplus equipment, supplies or other firefighting materials to an

underdeveloped country, and Proposition 6, which requires the governor to call a special legislative session so that lawmakers can appoint presidential electors when it is likely an election outcome won't be clear before the federal electors deadline.

Prop 5 was designed mainly to allow border communities to sell surplus firefighting equipment to neighboring cities in Mexico, and passed in Reeves County by a 154-62 margin. Prop 6 resulted from last year's disputed Florida election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, and was approved by voters 148-69.

Utility preparing for name change, deregulation

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 7, 2001 -- Customers across Texas will soon see the signs of transition in  the electric utility industry as the First Choice Power name replaces  existing signage at the Texas-New Mexico Power Company office. 

First Choice Power was organized to be TNMP's affiliated retail electric provider. Its new signs are appearing at offices throughout TNMP's Texas service territory. The company will officially unveil its new signs for local offices during ribbon-cutting ceremonies to be held after TNMP offices convert to First Choice Power on Jan. 1, 2002, when electric competition begins in Texas.

"Our new signs indicate change in the industry," said Manjit Cheema, First Choice Power president. "However, one thing that won't change is the commitment to exceptional customer service customers have known all along from Texas-New Mexico Power Company."

Under the state's power deregulation program, customers will be given their choice on who will provide power to their homes or businesses. Customers who do not choose an electric company provider will have one designated for them based on their area of the state, and set by the Texas Public Utilities Commission.

To learn more about First Choice Power, visit the company web site at

TNP Enterprises is the holding company for First Choice Power and for Texas-New Mexico Power Company, which provides community-based electric service to 85 cities and more than 238,000 customers in Texas and New Mexico.

Asbestos abatement projects on agenda 

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 7, 2001 -- Competitive sealed proposals for asbestos projects at Bessie Haynes Elementary and Pecos High School, tennis court renovations at PHS and the Pecos Kindergarten carpet project will be topics of discussion at the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting.

The group will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the boardroom. The public is invited to attend the open session of the meeting.

Board members will also discuss and approve competitive sealed proposals for Retail Electric Service Provider, a topic the group had discussed at their regular meeting held last month.

A public hearing for Academic Excellence Indicator System and for Operation of a High School Equivalency Program will be held during the meeting.

Under correspondence the group will read a letter from Texas Association of School Bosrds requesting selection of one member for legislative liaison, letter from Texas Education Agency's on-site visit cancellation, and under old business the board will hear a report on the new CATE technology building on South Eddy Street.

Board members are also scheduled to discuss and approve adjustments to pay ranges for all employees; resolution for appointing three representatives to the Reeves County Appraisal District Board of Directors; corrected stop-loss application _ HCC Benefit Corp.; 2001-2002 budget amendments; District Improvement Plan; attendance committees; Crisis Management Manual- suspicious mail and changes to policy GKD Local; District facilities approved for use by non-school groups and fees.

Board members will meet behind closed doors in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et seq., Section 551.074: to deliberate the appointment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee; or to hear a complaint or charge against an officer or employee; Section 551.071: private consultation with the board's attorney regarding Cause #01-05-17069-CVR.

The group will reconvene in open session and discuss/consider Cause #01-05-17069-CVR including possible settlement of matter.

Board members will discuss and approve professional personnel: resignations, retirements, appointments, reassignments, and change of contract.

Under regular agenda items:

Tax report.

Cafeteria report and commodities received.

Depository securities report.

Investment transactions report.

Reconciled bank balance report.

Current bills and financial report.

Reeves County Community Recreation Department report.

Date and time for next regular meeting.

Calendar of events.

Request of items for next agenda.

Council to discuss awarding Worsham water field contract

PECOS, Wed., Nov. 7, 2001 -- The Town of Pecos City Council will discuss awarding a contract for development of the South Worsham Well Field during the regular meeting set for 7 a.m., tomorrow morning at City Hall.

In addition to the bid award the Council will discuss beginning advertising for bids on a replacement of a ground storage tank and booster pump station in the Worsham Well Field.

Also on the agenda for the morning meeting, the Council plans to give permission to the Rotary Club Christmas Tree Committee to use the Maxey Park for the community Christmas Tree lighting scheduled for Nov. 29, 2001.

The Council plans to consider adding Veterans' Day as a city holiday, and to approve the newly elected Pecos Volunteer Fire Department officers.


PECOS, Wed., Nov. 7, 2001 -- High Tuesday 80. Low this morning 49. Forecast for  tonight: Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 40s. Southwest winds 5 to 10  mph. Thursday: Partly cloudy: Windy: And turning cooler. Highs in  the upper 60s: With temperatures falling into the 50s during the  afternoon. Winds becoming north 20 to 30 mph: Decreasing to 10 to 20 mph  during the afternoon. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper  30s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs 60 to 65. Saturday: Mostly clear. Lows in  the 40s. Highs in the 70s.


Richard Turnbough

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