Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Water release vote is tabled by Red Bluff
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Tues., April 8, 2003 -- Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members
put off a decision on water releases from Red Bluff Lake to farmers downstream
on the Pecos River for another month, during their monthly meeting today
The board tabled any vote on the release, opting to wait until May before
making any decision on releasing water downstream, after the lake gained
only 633 acre/feet of water during March. The additional water brought the
lake's total to just over 60,000 acre/feet.
No water was released downstream in 2002, as the ongoing drought dropped
lake levels to just over 40,000 acre/feet. Rains at the end of the year
plus a water release from New Mexico raised the lake's level by 33 percent,
but board members are still concerned the 60,000 acre/feet isn't enough
for a release downstream.
"We'll wait until next month and see if we get a good thunderstorm before
then," said managing director Randal Hartman at the end of today's meeting.
Only about 50 percent of the water released from Red Bluff Lake ever reaches
farmers downstream, and the earthen dam at the lake requires at least 20,000
acre/feet of water in the lake to maintain its structural integrity.
The water release decision was one of only a handful of items the board
covered in its 30-minute meeting.
Hartman told the board that Sun West Salt Co. had begun pumping salt water
away from the river at Malaga Bend and into ponds on March 13. Board member
Lloyd Goodrich said the water from a salt spring at the site was being pumped
away at the rate of 502 gallons a minute.
The water is being pumped into ponds built next to the site. "When it
gets full, they'll switch to another pond," Hartman said. "It's a switching
operation - they let it evaporated and then they lay down another layer."
He said the water is fully saturated with salt and should cut the level
of salt in the Pecos River and Red Bluff Lake, though initial readings have
not come in yet. "I know when it evaporates really quick on a windy day,
and it makes salt real fast," he said.
The board supported installation of outlet gauging stations at Imperial
Reservoir, and approved work to underpin a weir that had some ground washed
out by a water release. Cash disbursements, fund balance reports and accounts
payable were also approved.
Board members were also told the Pecos River Compact Commission would
be holding their annual meeting on Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. CDT in
Carlsbad, N.M. Agency reports will be heard, along with updates on several
projects, including the Malaga Bend project.
Meeting held to coordinate Pecos Trails Program
PECOS, Tues., April 8, 2003 -- The TransPecos Foundation and the Texas
Historical Commission hosted an organizational meeting March 25 in Iraan,
for the Pecos Trail Region in an effort to coordinate cooperative regional
support for the Texas Heritage Trails Program.
The March 25 meeting brought together 47 representatives from 13 of the
22 counties in the region, which stretches from north of Odessa to northwest
of San Antonio, and resulted in broad based support for the project. A core
committee was formed to handle the application process. However, it was emphasized
that input at the community level was essential to the success of the application
The Pecos Trail Region is one of 10 heritage trails regions within the
state. It encompasses 22 counties which include Andrews, Crane, Crockett,
Ector, Edwards, Glasscock, Kimble, Kinney, Loving, Martin, Maverick, Midland,
Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Upton, Val Verde, Ward
and Winkler. It includes the cities of Pecos, Fort Stockton, Monahans,
Odessa, Andrews, McCamey, Sanderson, Del Rio, Sonora, Ozona, Junction and
The Texas Heritage Trails Program aims to accentuate and preserve the
region's existing cultural heritage and historic venues while also encouraging
visitors to these destinations. The revitalization of local economies through
regional marketing and the increased awareness of the importance of historic
preservation are key aspects of the program. The Pecos Trail Region is full
of unique historic sites that could generate revenues for small, rural West
As a designee, the Pecos Trail Region would allow communities to be eligible
for partnership grants which would help fund community development and cultural
heritage projects through advertisements and marketing efforts. Heritage
tourism is a means to focus on the region's distinct past and encourage visitation.
Janie Headrick, Program Director for the Texas Heritage Trails Program,
commended the participants for actively getting involved in this initial
phase. She added it would take community support for all levels within the
region to help passage of the Pecos Trail. Communities within the region
are encouraged to support this initiative. The success of the region in
earning trail designation depends on the region's ability to develop cooperative
regional partnerships between communities supporting heritage tourism.
TransPecos Foundation is a non-profit community development corporation
and subsidiary of TransPecos Financial Corp., which is the parent company
of Security State Bank of Pecos. It was formed to pursue community and regional
development projects like the THC's Texas Heritage Trails Program.
The foundation is a vehicle which will be used in continued efforts to
help encourage growth and economic development in the TransPecos region.
If you wish to support the Pecos Trail or help in the application process,
New proposed CHIP cuts could affect local families
From Staff and Wire Reports
A proposal to cut another 55,000 Texas children from the Children's Health
Insurance Program could impact a number of families in Reeves County by
this fall, critics of the plan say.
Faced with a state budget deficit of between $5 and $10 billion, legislators
have been looking at a number of places to cut cuts, including the CHIP
program. The restructuring bill by Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth, part of in an
omnibus spending bill, would change CHIP eligibility rules, cutting another
55,000 kids from the program.
More than half a million children are signed up for CHIP, a low-cost insurance
program for working families. Under budget proposals already adopted by
the House Appropriations Committee, an estimated 220,000 youngsters would
no longer be eligible for the pared-down program.
According to Press Officer with the Health and Human Service Commission,
Kristie Zamrazil said that in Reeves County there was an average of 551
children who benefited from the CHIP program.
"The price benefit was about $657,000," Zamrazil said. "That is the coverage
cost which includes the cost of their drugs."
However, she added that they are currently going full steam in enrolling
children that qualify.
"We are still operating the way it's always been run," Zamrazil said.
"We are still enrolling children that qualify."
Martin Lujan, Chief of Staff for State Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said
that the Appropriations Committee has come up with about $2 million for
the CHIP program but the bill remains on the floor till next week.
"Last week the committee came up with extra money specifically for CHIP,"
Wohlgemuth says her omnibus bill would save the state $1.1 billion in
the 2004-05 budget cycle by consolidating agencies and making money-saving
changes to programs. The savings could ensure the cash-strapped state provides
services to the neediest Texans, she said.
"I don't agree with that," said Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston. "I think
there's a lot of people out there who are on CHIP right now who think they're
going to be covered and come September, they're not."
"There are regrets about cutting any and all services. These are not the
only people in our state who would be losing services," said Wohlgemuth,
adding that if more money is found, her bill could change.
"This is a very difficult judgment call, who is the neediest? That's where
the hard decisions are made," said Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson.
CHIP is for youngsters whose families earn too much money to qualify for
Medicaid. More than 500,000 children are enrolled.
Wohlgemuth's bill eliminates exemptions for a number of sources of income
for parents applying for CHIP, including child support payments between
divorced parents and credit for transportation costs.
Disregarding that income could make a family eligible for the CHIP program
with as much as $46,000 annual income.
"The disregards really bump it up a lot," said Wohlgemuth, chairwoman
of the budget panel's health and human services subcommittee.
Eiland saw it differently.
"If those people are not and/or cannot afford commercial insurance coverage,
then that's bad for the health of children," he said.
Eiland had supported a previous proposal to eliminate CHIP altogether,
saying it was a terrible option but necessary to provide lifesaving services
for elderly Texans.
The committee got a late funding infusion of $2.75 billion and restored
the elderly programs and the stripped down CHIP program.
Under the CHIP changes approved last week, children would have to wait
90 days before receiving health care, and then would have to reapply for
coverage every six months. Under the current plan, when a child qualifies
for CHIP coverage, the child can see a doctor immediately and coverage is
continuous for 12 months.
Now, families at twice the poverty level are eligible for CHIP. That would
change to 150 percent of poverty.
A family of four with $27,600 annual income is at 150 percent of poverty,
and a family of four with a $36,800 income is at 200 percent of poverty.
Texas is facing a $9.9 billion shortfall.
Book fair held at Kindergarten throughout week
PECOS, Tues., April 8, 2003 -- Pecos Kindergarten is hosting a scholastic
book fair throughout this week.
The fair began on Monday and will run through Friday during school hours,
from 8:10 a.m. until 3:45 p.m., at the kindergarten at 10th and Hickory
PECOS, Tues., April 8, 2003 -- High Monday 84. Low this morning 43. Forecast
for tonight: Clear. Lows in the mid 30s. East winds 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday:
Sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night:
Clear. Lows in the mid 40s. Thursday: Increasing cloudiness. Highs in the
lower 80s. Friday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the lower 50s. Highs in the mid
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