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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, March 12, 2002, PECOS ENTERPRISE

Election Day voter turnout reportedly low

From Staff and Wire Reports

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - After a busy period of early voting in Reeves County, turnout was reported low this morning at local polling sites, in the county's Democratic Party primary election.

Over 2,150 people cast ballots early either in person or by mail in the primary race, which features a battle for Reeves County Judge between two-term incumbent Jimmy B. Galindo and challenger Louis Matta. But polling place workers today said only a few people had shown up by noon to cast ballots.

"The voting has been going very slow," said Norma Briceno, an election official for Box 2, at the Pecos Technical Training Center, which includes voters in Precinct 1. Briceno said that county Democratic Party Chairman Bob Dean had told her voting was slow at other precincts as well.

Between 7 and 11:30 a.m., a total of 28 ballots had been cast in Box 2, while Mary Ann Clark, an election official for Box 1, at the Pecos Community Center, said 28 people had voted there between 7 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

Clark also said last year's redistricting of the county's precinct lines had confused some voters, who were now in different precincts than they had been in until the current election. Voters were directed by election officials to the correct voting sites, while voters in Boxes 2, 9 and 11 were going to now polling locations this year, after those sites were either consolidated or relocated.

Box 2 is now at the Pecos Technical Training Center on South Eddy Street, Box 11 is at the Haynes-Sadler Community Center at 12th and Locust streets and Box 9 has been consolidated with Box at Lamar AEP at Oak and `F' streets.

Aside from the county judge's race between Matta and Galindo, all county voters will also cast ballots in the race for Reeves County Clerk, where Sofia Abila is challenging incumbent Florez, and votes in all Boxes will also cast ballots in the contested primary races for governor and U.S. Senate.

The three other local contested races are all in Precinct 2. In the county commissioner's election, incumbent David Castillo faces challenger Norman Hill; Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace, where incumbent J.T. Marsh has two opponents, Jim Riley and Jaime Salgado, and Precinct 2 Constable, where Jerry Matta and Clint Glenn are seeking the constable position vacated in December by Salgado, when he decided to run for Justice of the Peace.

Other races that are uncontested include the Precinct 4 commissioner's race, where Gilberto "Hivi" Rayos is unopposed for a second term and the County Court-At-Law election, where Walter M. Holcombe is unopposed after being appointed in December. Also running unopposed are incumbent District Clerk, Pat Tarin; County Treasurer Linda Clark; Justice of the Peace, Precinct #1 Amonario P. Ramon; Justice of the Peace, Precinct #3 Rosendo Carrasco; and Justice of the Peace, Precinct #4 Lamberto T. Herrera.

Dean is also unopposed in his bid for a new term.

Statewide, the focus has been on a lively Democratic primary race for the governorship, while the party's Senate race pitted three candidates hoping to become Texas' junior senator.

Tony Sanchez, a multimillionaire banker, and former state Attorney General Dan Morales have clashed over affirmative action and their Mexican-American heritage during the Democratic gubernatorial race that is all but certain to give Texas its first-ever Hispanic major-party nominee for governor.

The Democratic race for the U.S. Senate nomination, meanwhile, is so close that it's expected to take a runoff to decide among former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, U.S. Rep. Ken Bentsen of Houston, and teacher Victor Morales.

Polls for both races open Tuesday.

Kirk is trying to clear the initial hurdle to become the first black U.S. senator from Texas. Victor Morales is looking to become the state's first Hispanic U.S. senator. Bentsen is the nephew of former U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.

The Democrats hope to get the nod to try and replace retiring GOP Sen. Phil Gramm. Attorney General John Cornyn has only token opposition for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison is Texas' other senator.

While Sanchez and Dan Morales top a field of four candidates for the Democratic primary, Gov. Rick Perry is running unopposed in the Republican primary. He's seeking his first full four-year term after being elevated from lieutenant governor following George W. Bush's election to the presidency.

Sanchez has spent nearly $20 million, including more than $14 million in January and February. Much of it has paid for television ads that have blanketed the state.

Morales has spent about $561,000 since entering the race only minutes before the filing deadline Jan 2. He contends Sanchez is trying to buy the election and that Sanchez's TV ads are starting to bother voters.

"There is such a thing as overkill, even in politics," Morales said Monday in Austin, before campaigning in Dallas, Houston, McAllen and San Antonio.

Sanchez said his opponent's comments were irresponsible and absurd.

"I've tried to keep the message positive. I've tried to keep talking about all the major issues that are facing us today," Sanchez said Monday.

Sanchez has assailed Morales for his stand against affirmative action at state universities. Sanchez also has accused Dan Morales of being ashamed to be Hispanic.

Morales says he is proud of his heritage but that he believes English is the state's "principal language." He says Sanchez is trying to divide Hispanics from other Texans by elevating the Spanish language to a level equal with English.

Two other candidates, Bill Lyon and John WorldPeace, also are in the Democratic race. Recent polls conducted by newspapers among likely voters have shown Sanchez with the lead and Morales in second with large percentages of voters undecided.

Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have ever nominated a Hispanic to run for governor of the state of Texas.

Governor's office approves $500,000 grant for task force

From Staff and Wire Reports

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - The Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force's grant application for operational funds covering the period between June 2002 and May 2003 has been approved by Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office.

The task force will receive just over $500,000 out of a total of $30 million in federal grant money that will be divided among Texas cities and counties for regional drug-control efforts, the governor's office announced Monday.

The bulk of the money, $27.6 million, will support 45 narcotics task forces covering 213 Texas counties.

"It's the same one we renew every year," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez of the $503,106 grant, which is made available through the Byrne Formula Grant Program, which assists state agencies and units of local government in carrying out specific programs that offer a high probability of improving the functioning of the criminal justice system.

"The grant is actually designed for rurals. It's for rural area that normally can't afford a task force," said Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards.

He explained that the Task Force applied for the grant in mid-January, and it will cover the period from June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003. The money is used to reimburse local counties for their funding of programs like the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force.

"As Reeves County spends money it gets back 75 percent of what we spend, so if I spend $1,000 on a piece of equipment, the county pays 25 percent," Richards said, while the county's share of the payment is supposed to be offset through drug-releated seizures of cash and other items. Under the formula, that would leave Reeves County resposable for about $126,000 of the task force's operation budget for the upcoming 12-month period, but Richards said seizures should cover that total, based on the most recent results.

"Right now we're running good. We've got $210,000 from our seizures and we've got one pending from out of Midland that will be around $100,000."

Richards said the funding of the task force "puts nine police officers out of the streets for nine agencies," which participate in the Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force.

While the grants are mostly for rural operations, funds do go to urban-based task forces that operate in rural areas. $921,677 to the West Texas Narcotics Task Force operating out of Ector County (Odessa), and $989,897 for the El Paso County Drug Task Force.

"Texas is using money seized from drug dealers to increase our investment in programs that help our children avoid the heartbreak of illegal drugs and the devastation these criminals are dealing," Gov. Rick Perry said.

Since 1987, Texas has used federal Byrne funding to establish multi-county narcotics task forces throughout the state to increase communication and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.

Bentsen seeks Senate votes in Pecos stop


Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - United States Senate candidate Ken Bentsen had lunch at the Jersey Lilly with his family and local supporters in Pecos yesterday, the final day before voting in today's primary elections.

Bentsen, currently a United States Representative from the Houston area, is one of five candidates in this year's Democrat primary looking for the nomination to fill Senator Phil Gramm's seat.

Gramm announced last year that he was retiring at the end of the current term.

Although his home is in Houston Bentsen said that he was no stranger to West Texas and Pecos and that he still had a ball cap that he picked up from at 100th Anniversary of the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

Earlier in his career Bentsen worked for 16th District Representative Ron Coleman.

"At the time the Sixteenth District ran from El Paso to Reeves County," he said.

Bentsen said that he decided to run after Gramm announced his retirement. Current polls have him battling former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk and Gramm's 1996 Senate opponent, Victor Morales, for the right to advance to a primary runoff election in April, since none of the candidates are expected to receive 50 percent of the vote.

"I think we need someone in the Senate who understands the problems facing our state, some with a strong record of public service, and some who has had a successful career," Bentsen said."

Bentsen said that the most pressing issue facing the nation was homeland security.

"We have the greatest military in the world, as we are seeing in Afghanistan, but the world is still very dangerous. We need to do everything we can to protect ourselves from attacks from within and to do that we have to beef up homeland security," he said.

Bentsen said that a top priority in any homeland defense plan had to be making resources available to local governments.

"If there were an attack in West Texas the first person on the scene will be a Deputy Sheriff, not a federal agency," he said. "We have to make sure that the first responders have the resources they need."

Bentsen was scheduled to visit Midland, Odessa and Waco before returning to Houston Monday night.

Commissioners get briefing on cloud seeding proposal


Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - Seeding clouds to get more rainwater may be something Reeves County and other area counties may want to invest in, after county commissioners listened to a Weather Modification Program presentation at their regular meeting Monday in the third floor courtroom.

George Bomar, senior meteorologist, with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, was on hand to talk to the commissioners about the rain enhancement program and give a slide presentation.

Reeves County and the rest of the Trans-Pecos has been in drought conditions for the past decade, and Bomar spoke to area officials in January at the Reeves County Civic Center about getting local governmental bodies involved in a cloud seeding program for the area.

"If we were to do an MRI on the clouds, we would find an abundance of rain water," said Bomar. "We have been learning more and implementing the program, on seeding clouds to get more rain water, for rain enhancement."

Bomar said they have been studying methods on how to get these clouds seeded, which clouds are best for seeding to produce more rain water and how to go about doing this.

Convective clouds are best for seeding and the cloud seeding is done by deploying an aircraft just above the clouds. "Silver iodide is used on the convective clouds," said Bomar. "Mother Nature speeds it along by providing ice crystals, which help when using the silver iodine."

Seeding is designed to provide these drops around ice crystals to form moisture, which eventually turns into rain, according to Bomar.

"Silver iodide changes structures is almost identical to natural ice crystals, which is why it is used," said Bomar.

Bomar said that there are a lot of clouds with rainwater, but they just need a nudge to pour that rainwater down to the ground, where it is very much needed.

"When we get enough convective clouds, high enough to be seeded we may get enough rain water out of them," said Bomar.

Cloud seeding is done below and above the cloud top. "A cloud with very few updrafts won't respond to seeding, so we won't even do those," he said.

Bomar said that one of the things they wanted to emphasis was that cloud seeding was not a drought-buster. "It won't bring you out of a drought," said Bomar.

To do cloud seeding a permit is required by the state and a license issued for a year, according to Bomar.

"Long-term water management seeding will work great in some years and moderately in others," said Bomar. "There is a new law regulating cloud seeding," he said.

The law exists to protect people, according to Bomar.

"Seeding a severe thunderstorm is not done, or even worked in that area," said Bomar. "Maybe it's time, instead of drilling down, to drill up and work with what we have up there," he said.

Bomar said that we needed to mine some of that moisture and put it on the ground where it's really needed.

"The state has been studying this aspect of making natural rain water for several years," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, who added that this was just a presentation and didn't tie down Reeves County to the program.

"We'll want to visit one of the sites, where cloud seeding is being used, such as San Angelo and then look more into the program, costs and everything else," he said.

Tom Nance who has been studying the program recommended it highly to the court. "I think Reeves County will benefit greatly from it, because the clouds we see are not from Reeves County, but from surrounding counties," he said. "The program will benefit everyone."

In other business on Monday, commissioners approved a grant application for the Juvenile Probation Counseling Services.

"We have received the opportunity to get more grant money for the juvenile probation department," said juvenile probation employee Mary Ann Acosta. "The application that we had submitted was for $7,500 and had been approved by judge Galindo and the court."

"When we went before the commission, we learned there was extra money and now we will be getting $12,100 to be used for counseling services," she said.

The court approved payments to LMD Architect for the work they are doing at the new Reeves County Detention Center III and the various contractors working at the facility.

Dam mesquites have to go,Red Bluff members are told


Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - Mesquite eradication, dam grouting and cloud seeding were the main topics of discussion today at the regular meeting of the Red Bluff Water Power Control Board.

Managing Director Randal Hartman said that mesquite trees were becoming thick on the backside (south side) of the dam and that eventually the bushes could spell trouble.

"We need to spray the trees before a problem develops," he said.

Hartman said that the roots of the trees grow down into the damn, and that when a tree dies, the root deteriorates and leaves a cavity that can weaken the dam.

"The inspector did not like the mesquites on the dam," he said.

Hartman said that dams are inspected by the state every seven years.

The problem with the trees on the back of the dam is that it will take an airplane to deliver the herbicide.

Hartman guestimated the total cost of the project at $4,500 with Red Bluff paying about $1,500 of the total.

Hartman also told the board that in the long-term it needed to consider beginning another grouting project.

All lakes leak and grouting consists of patching the leaks, he said.

As water builds up behind a dam, pressure builds and water will leak around or under the dam. To prevent this holes are drilled in the ground in front of or off to the side of the dam and then filled with concrete.

This creates an effective barrier until the water finds new channels.

The last grouting at Red Bluff was performed in the early 1980s he said.

Hartman said that the leaking water comes to the surface once past the dam and that by monitoring that water the amount of leakage and the approximate location of the leak can be determined.

"This is not an emergency but it is something we need to do the next time we have some extra money," he said.

Skeet Jones, a county commissioner and rancher in Loving County, was also on hand to speak with the Board during the public comments section of the meeting.

Jones said that he was a member of the Trans Pecos Weather Modification Association.

"At the moment we have a steering committee but we are trying to form this association to cover Ward, Reeves, Brewster and Loving counties," he said.

Jones said that the group would direct cloud seeding efforts in the four-county area and that several local entities had pledged funds to the group.

Jones invited the Board to discuss the possibility and to tour a cloud seeding facility to learn more about the operation.

The Board agreed to put the topic on the agenda for a future meeting.

Catarino Florez

Funeral services for Catarino Lara Florez will be Wednesday, March 13, 2002, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at 2 p.m. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery under the direction of Thomas Funeral Home.

Florez was born April 30, 1925, in Colorado City, Texas. He was a resident of the Midland/Odessa area for the past 20 years.

Survivors include his two sons, Ramon Florez of Midland and Jesse Florez of Odessa, and one daughter, Sylvia Orona of Pecos. Eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, three brothers, Speedy Flores, Lorenzo Flores, both of Pecos and Ciprino Flores of El Paso, two sisters, Rosa Bitolas of El Paso and Alicia Olgin of Midland.

His parents and three brothers, Juan Flores, Roberto Flores and Mariano Flores and three sisters Dominga Rayos, Juana Garbay and Petra Valenzuela, preceeded him in death.

Pallbearers will be: Julian Orona, Hector Flores, Justin Mora, Jaycom Mora, Chris Olgin and Joe Olgin.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - High Monday 79. Low this morning 39. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 40 to 45. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday: Mostly sunny and unseasonably warm. Highs near 90. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 50. Thursday: Partly cloudy and breezy. Highs 85 to 90. Friday: Partly cloudy and not as warm. Lows near 50. Highs 75 to 80.

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Pecos Enterprise
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