Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, March 14, 2003
Council delays continuing ed guideline vote
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City Council members delayed
final action on the question of continuing education programs for city employees,
along with four other items during their regular meeting Thursday morning
at City Hall.
The council is seeking to set guidelines for workers seeking financial
support from the city to attend education programs directly related to their
jobs. In January, the council asked city attorney Scott Johnson to prepare
a more precise version of the city's policy on funding employees' continuing
The first draft of the policy was drawn up by Johnson and Town of Pecos
City Manager Carlos Yerena following the council's approval in November
of a new contract for Yerena, which included partial funding of college
courses that would allow Yerena to seek a Masters of Arts degree. However,
after reviewing the policy, council members Frank Sanchez and Angelica Valenzuela
had questions about how the selection process would be handled under the
plan, and what city employees would be eligible for continuing education
The council did agree to change the number of years an employee must
work of the city before they can be accepted for the program.
The current policy states that a city employee must work for at least
three years. The number of years has been reduced to two years.
At the request of Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez, Johnson said that he will
also add into the policy that it will pay for those who have to have the
training and as much as the budget allows them to pay.
During the next council meeting, the members will go over the policy
once again after they have had some time to review it.
The other items tabled were that of authorizing Frank X. Spencer and
Associates to prepare plans and specifications for a new Stafford Boulevard
lift station to replace the existing facility; authorizing preparation of
plans and specifications for proposed holding ponds pumps and pipes at the
existing wastewater treatment plant; conducting an engineering study of
six existing tanks and tank sites, including 27 well sites for security
concerns and recommendations for tank conditions; and the approval for change
order No. 2 for sanitary landfill trench excavation trench four in Area
B and trench one in Area A.
The first three were tabled for monetary reason, while the landfill issue
was tabled because Yerena had not had time to look over the proposal before
having to go out of town.
The accounts payable report of $327,208.02 was approved with Tellez making
the motion and Sanchez seconding it.
Tellez also made the motion to accept the minutes of the regular February
council meeting with Benavides seconding it.
Councilman Johnny Terrazas made the motion to accept the juvenile monthly
report for February with Michael Benavides seconding it.
Terrazas again made a motion to accept the resolution #03-3-1-R for central
counting stations for city elections to be located at the Reeves County
Courthouse and appoint officials for central counting stations early voting
ballot board, early voting and election day.
City's tax rebate check again shows small drop
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- Sales tax figures from January collections
showed another small decline for the Town of Pecos city, while tax collections
fell sharply in Balmorhea and Toyah, according to figures released today
by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office.
Pecos, which has seen slight drops in its tax receipt figures for the
past several months, saw its tax rebate check for March decline by 21/2
percent, based on collections made during January. The city got back $52,230
from the comptroller's office, based on its 11/2-cent share of the state's
81/4 percent sales tax. Last March, the city got back $53,474 in tax receipts
from Strayhorn's office.
For the first quarter of 2003, tax receipts sent back to Pecos totaled
$193,020, which was down 2.91 percent from last year, when the city got
$198,825 back in taxes for the first three months of the year.
The first quarter of 2002 was also the last one during which the Anchor
Foods plant was running at close to full operation. Anchor shut its plant
at the end of May last year, causing local unemployment to jump by 10 percent.
The facility has been reopened by TransPecos Foods, but currently is operating
with a much smaller labor force, and the city's jobless rate remains in
double digits, and about double its level at the same time a year ago.
Out of the city's March tax rebate check, one sixth goes to the Pecos
Economic Development Corp. The PEDC will receive $8,705 in tax receipts
The decline in tax collections was sharper in Balmorhea and Toyah. Balmorhea's
check for March was $638, down 42.2 percent from $1,104 a year ago. For
the first three months of 2003, the city's tax rebate checks came to $2,572,
down 17.73 percent from last year's $3,126.
Toyah's check for March was only $129, which represented a drop of 701/2
percent from last year's $439 figure. Toyah has gotten $772 back from Austin
so far this down, down 37.66 percent from last year's $1,239.
Rebate checks across the Permian Basin and Trans Pecos region showed
mixed results for the month. Several cities reported double-digit increased
in their checks from a year ago, while others joined Pecos in reporting slight
Fort Stockton, Marfa and Van Horn were among the cities with double-digit
increases in their sales tax receipts, but those were due to increases in
the cities' tax rates during the past year. Marfa and Van Horn raised their
rates from 11/2 to 13/4 cents and saw their collections increase - Van Horn
by nearly 20 percent and Marfa by over 70 percent. Fort Stockton's rate
went from 11/2 to 2 percent and its collections jumped by over 58 percent,
Cities that went up double digits without sales tax increases included
Andrews, Crane, Odessa and Wink, while Midland, Alpine, Monahans and Kermit
all saw their sales tax checks fall this month.
Local officials get Homeland Security briefing
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- Local emergency response personnel from
Pecos and other Reeves County communities were in town Thursday afternoon
to hear a Homeland Security presentation provided by the Permian Basin Regional
City and county officials from Pecos, Toyah and Balmorhea along with Reeves
County Hospital representatives, Toyah and Balmorhea EMTs, Town of Pecos
City Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire, Fire Chief Roy Pena, city employees and
members of the volunteer fire department among those listening to the presentation
on the assessment process by Homeland Security Division Project Co-Coordinator,
Barney Welch at the Reeves County Civic Center.
The presentation was part of the new Homeland Security measures put into
effect following the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11,
2001. The requirements called for local representatives from agencies of
the law enforcement, public works, health department, government administration,
emergency medical services (EMS), health care, school officials, fire department,
private stakeholders, hazardous material, emergency management and disaster
services to attend.
Welch presented the group with a power point presentation that illustrated
the functions of the project. However, before the presentation began, he
said that he was surprised to see the large number of people in attendance.
"I am happy to be here," Welch said. "There are so many of you here.
This is the most I've seen."
He also told the group that this Homeland Security Division Project is
an intense project that is going on in the state of Texas.
"This is the best time for any jurisdiction to get federal money," Welch
said, adding that federal funds distributed through the program are designed
to protect lives and property.
In his presentation the Homeland Security Division's duties were listed
as scheduling meetings with jurisdictional stakeholders, providing clarification
on state and federal requirements placed on regions and local jurisdiction
and the assisting in the creation of inter-jurisdictional emergency planning
Welch provided the group with a definition of the background of emergency
"Emergency management consists of systems, resources, and activities
designed to assist a community in mitigation against, preparing for, responding
to and recovering from the effects of all hazards," he said.
Welch went on to define emergency as the occurrence or imminent threat
of a condition, incident or event which requires immediate response actions
to save lives, prevent injuries, protect property, public health, the environment
and public safety or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.
"And disaster is the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe
damages, injury, loss of life or property, or such severe economic or social
disruption that supplemental relief is necessary for the jurisdiction to
recover," Welch said.
Welch also provided the group with a list of potential hazards ranging
from a building collapsing to a hurricane.
"Do you thing you could receive money for a hurricane," Welch asked the
Not knowing the correct answer, the group sat still with one or two of
them shaking their heads no.
"How about if you had to relieve some assistance to an area that suffered
from a hurricane," Welch said. "So you can receive assistance."
While Gulf of Mexico hurricanes rarely affect West Texas, Reeves County's
last major disaster occurred in May 1987, when a tornado destroyed most
of the town of Saragosa, killing 30 people. It remains the highest death
toll for any single tornado in the United States since the 1970s.
Throughout his presentation, Welch would tell the group that it was important
for them to fill out the application papers necessary so that when April
11 came around they would have some thing turned in and though it might
not be completed they would still be able to receive some assistance since
they could prove that the paperwork is underway.
Welch added that it would be okay if some of the areas contained a lot
"Nos" or "N/As" because the state felt that every jurisdiction should be
able to participate.
"It will increase your allocation percentage," Welch said.
Though Pecos is currently excluded from receiving funds, Forsan (near
Big Spring) has 74 percent of its assessment completed and Forsan is much
smaller then Pecos, Welch said.
Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera said that
some of the people were wondering why they were invited it was because in
some areas of the required paperwork he would need the assistance of all
of the agencies, such as the hospital, the law enforcement agencies, the
EMS and the fire department, in completing the Homeland Security forms.
"I invited people from the oil and gas companies because they are targets
for terrorist threat," Herrera said. "This program is going to involve a
lot of people."
As he prepares to fill out the annex paper work he said that he would
need their help because he would attempt to do it all by himself.
"I will need help from the Reeves County Hospital, the Sheriff's Office
and other agencies," Herrera said. "I will be calling you and asking for
He also said that as they begin to fill out the annex paper work, Herrera
hopes not to duplicate any of the questions with Balmorhea or Toyah.
"We can do it as a team," Herrera said.
Task Force officials release IDs of 26 arrested
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- Trans Pecos Drug Task Force officers have
released the names of 26 people arrested in Thursday's "Operation Street
Sweep" round up, while saying they are still seeking other individuals on
The effort, which was focused on the city of Midland, was termed a success
by officials with the Task Force and other local enforcement agencies who
banned together to take several individuals dealing with drugs off the streets.
Approximately 40 law enforcement officers from the Trans Pecos Drug Task
Force, Midland Police Department, Midland County Sheriff's Office, Texas
Department of Public Safety aircraft division, Texas Highway Patrol, Andrews
County Sheriff's Office, Pecos Police Department and the Culberson County
Sheriff's Office began serving some 58 sealed grand jury indictments on
35 individuals at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. The indictments were issued by
the Midland County Grand Jury on March 12.
"This operation, called Operation Street Sweep, is the culmination of
an undercover narcotics investigation that began in the fall of 2002 by the
Trans Pecos Drug Task Force," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Commander
Undercover officers have purchased heroin, marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine
in various amounts, mostly in grams and multi grams, at a cost of several
The primary drugs of choice have been marijuana (approximately one kilo)
and cocaine (approximately two kilos), according to the task force report.
"We arrested 27 defendants yesterday," Richards said, adding that they
still have 11 others at-large.
"We presented 35 defendants and 33 indictments and two are still under
investigation," said Richards. "The others had been investigated and we
hadn't come up with good reliable addresses for them."
Richards said that they are still working on those sealed indictments.
"We also served two unrelated warrants, there were two subjects that
had warrants out on them," said Richards. "We went out there and found two
Richards said that this was a great operation and a lot of hard work.
"These officers did an outstanding job of going undercover, putting their
lives on the line to bring these individuals to justice," he said.
Richards said that the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force had three undercover
agents that carried most of the load. "Ken Colston, operation officer, did
an outstanding job of helping the undercover officer identify suspects,"
"He along with Brad Rider, are the two that did the locating and we coordinated
with the district attorney," he said.
The Midland Technical Training served the high risk warrants and the
Midland Sheriff's Department Command Post was used during the operation.
Midland County Crisis Intervention Unit also participated. "They were
available in case any individuals we arrested had children," said Richards.
"They deal with the children and take care of them."
Richards said that the Midland Fire Department and EMS were also on hand.
Officials released the names of 26 of those involved. Those named and
the charges involved are: Sammy Romero, 23, for delivery of controlled substance,
cocaine and heroin; Jessie Mancha, 26, delivery of a controlled substance,
cocaine; Ellis Warren, 41, delivery of a controlled substance, cocaine;
Jonathan Brito, 38, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Ryan Metcalf,
35, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Trevor Jackson, 20, delivery
of controlled substance, cocaine; Isaac Brito, 26, delivery of controlled
substance, cocaine; David Wooden, 20, delivery of controlled substance,
cocaine; Juan Arredondo, 48, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine;
Chris Taylor, 21, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Sergio Rodriguez,
18, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Tim Hines, 36, delivery of
controlled substance, cocaine and heroin; Dianna Bonilla, 36, delivery of
controlled substance, cocaine; Elma Varela, 32, delivery of controlled substance,
constructive; Marcelo Lopez, 31, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine
and Debra Swanson, 42, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine;
Also, Donald Murray, 39, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Ricardo
Lujan, 24, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Jacovee Phillips,
24, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Dedric Marrs, 22, delivery
of controlled substance, cocaine; Jesse Sokolowski, 21, delivery of controlled
substance, cocaine; Ramon Diaz, 60, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine;
Twakesia Howard, 19, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Dodionne
Watson, 26, delivery of controlled substance, cocaine; Antonio Villa, 50,
delivery of controlled substance, cocaine and Diva Avalos, 35, delivery
of controlled substance, cocaine.
"We all worked hard and this was a cooperative operation between several
agencies," said Richards. "We always work really well together and the task
force pulls together at times like this."
The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force covers the counties that participate in
the task force. "We're always willing to help out," said Richards. "Because
we all want the same thing, to take illegal drugs off the streets," he said.
Motel hosting meeting today for Pecos LL
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- A meeting will be held this evening at
the Best Western Swiss Clock, 1000 W. Palmer St., for Pecos Little League
coaches and officials to plan for the 2003 season.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Swiss Clock Inn. League officials
also said that registration for the 2003 season has begun and will continue
Miss Cantaloupe pageant seeking 2003 contestants
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- Applications are now being taken for
girls in Kindergarten and First Grade, who would like to participate in
the 2003 Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant.
Applications may be picked up at the Pecos Chamber of Commerce Office,
111 S. Cedar St.
The deadline to register is March 31.
PECOS, Friday, March 14, 2003 -- High Thursday 86. Low this morning 52.
Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy. Slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows
in the mid 50s. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph. The chance of precipitation
is 20 percent. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Isolated thunderstorms. Highs in
the mid 80s. South winds 5 to 15 mph shifting to the southwest 10 to 20
mph in the afternoon. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Isolated thunderstorms.
Lows in the lower 50s. Sunday: Windy. Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 80s.
Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 40s. Highs in the mid 70s.
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 2003 by Pecos Enterprise