Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Council seeksinfo on PEDC usage of funds
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 13, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council
discussed issues surrounding the Pecos Economic Development Corp.
budget and heard about two possible change orders for the South Worsham
Water Field Project this morning during their regularly scheduled first
meeting of the month in the council chambers at city hall.
The council tabled the PEDC budget last meeting due to the short
amount of time that had been allowed for members to look over the
figures. The PEDC receives one sixth of the city's 11/2-cent sales tax
rebate each month. For November, that total came to $11,055.
Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela voiced her concern over the lack of
explanation behind the expense report provided to the council.
"When I came onto this board, we had a problem identifying where the
money was going for certain expenditures; we fixed it and that made it
much easier to know what exactly we were approving," Valenzuela said.
Oscar Saenz, PEDC board president, said that that could be done; it
was just not the way that they had done that in the past. Gari Ward
PEDC president added that he does not actually write the checks for
these expenditures, and that a private accounting firm handled all of
Council members also voiced their concern to the PEDC officials that
much of what the corporation does is very secretive and updates on the
progression of projects was not typically given.
Without this type of information, it seems to the council and the
public that the PEDC does not do much, council members said.
"I and the other council members have heard a lot of bad things
about the PEDC, especially concerning Mr. Ward; specifically the
concern is that nothing is being done," Valenzuela said.
"We currently have 21 active projects going on at this point in
time, those are just the ones that are trying to bring new business
into Pecos. We also have two projects going on in-town to keep existing
businesses here," Ward explained, "But we cannot make these
negotiations public due to either the interested parties desire to keep
the matter out of the public eye or to keep the town from getting their
hopes dashed over a failed attempt to bring more business to the town."
"Why do so many of these projects, that we do hear about, fizzle out
and nothing is ever seen from these negotiations," Valenzuela asked.
"If we bring in 1 in 20 attempted businesses to town, then we have
done well," Saenz said, "Sometimes for example the price of a certain
commodity drops during our discussions, like the hog rendering plant;
the price drops and the investors back out."
"I agree with what Oscar said," PEDC board member John Grant said,
"But I feel that the PEDC is not doing enough if we still have money
left over at the end of the year. This year we spent under $1,000 on
recruitment for new businesses to town, that is out of a possible
$12,000 that was scheduled for that line item; we are not running a
savings account here."
Questions, originally raised by Grant in the PEDC annual meeting
over the allocation of $7,200 a year for car expense to be paid to Ward
on top of a mileage and gas expense, came up again in the council
meeting this morning.
Ward explained after a long line of questions from both Councilman
Frank Sanchez and Councilwoman Valenzuela that the expense was
something that was promised to him in the original contract
negotiations for the position of PEDC president. Although the point was
moot due to the reallocation of that line item to the administration
column of the PEDC budget as part of Ward's salary for the 2004 year.
After much discussion the council decide table the budget and to
continue talks with the PEDC in a workshop type forum on Monday at 7
a.m. The meeting will also cover the issues concerning the acquisition
of the new police vehicles added to the city's budget this year, the
possible acquisition of a new dump truck for the city and the
consideration of bids for the city's health insurance contract.
In other business the council heard the second reading of the
amendment to the city's manual on the accumulation of sick days past 30
days. The new section allows for the accumulation of up to 120 days of
paid sick leave, approximately 10 years worth.
Councilman Danny Rodriguez wanted to clarify that the new section
only pertains to sick leave, not vacation days. "I have received a lot
of questions on the application of the new sick leave rule; any
roll-over of vacation time must be approved by the city manager," he
City Financial Director Sam Contreras added that the employees had
received new handbooks with the additional information inside to
clarify any questions they might have.
The council awarded the bank depository contract to Security State
Bank after an extensive analysis and report also given by Contreras.
After looking at interest rates, overdraft protection and fraud
protection the council followed Contreras' recommendation and went with
The council also decided to move the second council meeting of the
month of November up to Tuesday, Nov. 25. The regularly scheduled
meeting would have fallen on the evening of Thanksgiving.
Next the council heard from representative from Frank Spencer and
Associates over two possible change orders in the South Worsham Water
Based on the initial inspection by the Texas Water Development
Board, Spencer said the telemetry coordinating and monitoring of the
wells was malfunctioning. The manufacturer of the equipment fixed the
problems with the electronics, but in the process of fixing the problem
the manufacturer pitched a new kind of equipment to monitor the total
dissolved solid contained in the well water.
Due to the fact that one of the main goals of the project is a
decrease in the TDS, the engineers thought that the equipment was a
good idea and suggested the change order to the council. The cost was
estimated at $8,000 for the order; the council approved the change in
the original estimate unanimously.
The council also heard from the engineering firm on the condition of
two valves leading into the city that are rusting and in need of
replacement in the near future. The cost was estimated at around
$20,000 apiece; City Manager Carlos Yerena reminded the council that
the city still had approximately $400,000 left in the TWDB grant, money
that had to be spent within in a year of the completion of the project
and could only be spent for water development.
The motion was tabled till the next meeting, and the engineering
representative was asked to return at the next council meeting.
The council also set the deadline for the acceptance of applications
for the position city manager position, which Carlos Yerena will be
vacating at the end of the week. The final date is 19 December for
prospective applicants; the city council members decided to use the
same qualifications list that was used for the process that brought
Yerena here with the small addition that the position is master's
Council members on Tuesday appointed Town of Pecos City Police Chief
Clay McKinney to serve as interim city manager until a replacement for
Yerena could be selected. Yerena is leaving to take the city manager's
job in Kingsville.
School board may face turf battle over field costs
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 13, 2003 -- Two types of artificial turf under
consideration for installation at fields in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD
have held up well in use in the Amarillo ISD and Sweetwater ISD,
officials from those two districts said today.
The installation of artificial turf at Eagle Stadium and the Pecos
High School baseball and softball fields will be a source of discussion
tonight for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members, during their
regular monthly meeting. And while the proposals have their supporters
locally, there also have been many voices complaining about the cost of
putting the surfaces on the three fields, given other things, including
teacher pay raises and additional staffing, that P-B-T ISD has held off
in recent years.
Superintendent Don Love will present the board with four proposals
tonight, outlining the cost of placing artificial turf on the field at
the football stadium and at the baseball and softball fields. An
additional expense for putting a new coating on the Eagle Stadium track
is also included in the plan to be presented.
"We've had our architect (Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral
Associates, Inc.) look at it, and tonight we'll see if the board wants
to go ahead and act on competitive sealed proposals," Love said.
Samples of three types of turf were in the school administration
office. Love said one type of field, AstroPlay, was installed this
summer at the Mustang Bowl in Andrews and Ratilff Stadium in Odessa,
while a second type, Field Turf, is being used at Dick Bivins Stadium
in Amarillo and at Lowery Field in Lubbock, where Pecos' football team
played in early October.
Both are softer than the original Astroturf, installed in 1966 at
the Houston Astrodome. The new fields use a plastic that mirrors grass
more and comes with either a sand base or one-inch thick rubber pad and
was first used at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s.
The cost for installation at Eagle Stadium, including the
architectural and engineering fees, are put at $548,800, while the cost
for the high school baseball field was put at $642,390 and the softball
field was put at $217,408. Track resurfacing at the football stadium
would add an addition $43,200 to the total.
Sweetwater ISD is in its second year of playing on the AstroPlay
surface, which was installed in 2002 at a cost roughly $200,000 higher
than the cost estimate for Eagle Stadium. Terry Pittman, acting
superintendent for Sweetwater ISD, said they have had no problems with
the surface during the two years it has been in use.
"We've run all our varsity, sub-varsity and seventh and eighth grade
games, plus during the season all the Pee Wee football games with the
Sweetwater and Abilene teams," Pittman said. "We've also run the PE
classes and the girls teams have used it and the band marches on it
The turf sample on display at the P-B-T administration office
includes a sample of the one-inch rubber pad, which Pittman said
"Some have a sand base, but we have rubber," he said. "We're real
pleased with it."
"The warranty is good for eight years, but we expect the life of it
to be 8-10 years," Pittman said. "As far as temperatures on the field,
it's about 5-7 degrees hotter at game time than on a regular grass
field, but during August two-a-days the team practices on it only in
the evening. It's a little warm, but as far as standing up to the heat
there's a warranty on it for not fading."
Pittman also said the lack of late-season wear on the field has
helped Sweetwater attract more playoff games last season. "We had 12
playoff games that brought about $1.2 million into the community," he
said, though Sweetwater's central location makes it a better area to
attract playoff games than Pecos even in previous years with grass
Amarillo has the longest experience in West Texas with artificial
turf, having installed the Field Turf surface five years ago.
Superintendent Rod Schroder was unavailable for comment this
morning, but Schroder's secretary Betty Packard said, "We have four
(high school) teams and they all play soccer and football on it, and
we've had lots of playoff games on it.
"The injury rate is just great. We haven't had the injuries we had
in the past on a regular field," she said.
Love said the funds for the field would come out of the P-B-T ISD
general fund, if board members vote to go ahead with one or all of the
projects. He said that projecting a 10-year life for the football
field, "You can justify the cost based on the savings from the water,
the fertilizer and the maintenance."
Annual cost for watering, fertilizing and maintaining the sprinkler
system was put at $19,474, while manpower and overtime costs were put
at $28,653 annually. Combined, the cost savings over 10 years were
estimated at $481,270.
The total cost for all three fields, plus the track work comes to
$1,451,798, while the combined savings for all three fields over 10
years was put at $842,350, according to the figures provided to school
The turf proposal comes as work nears completion on the district's
new $298,000 girls' softball field. Two years ago, the district spent
$2 million refurbishing several school district buildings, including
Pecos High School, Crockett Middle School and Zavala Middle School,
which has since been turned over to Pecos Head Start after sixth grade
classes were consolidated with fourth and fifth graders at the
neighboring Bessie Haynes Elementary.
Fields, state financial rating top agenda for board
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 13, 2003 -- Artificial turf for the football,
and/or softball and baseball fields, along with installation of a
structure coat on existing track, along with determining the method of
procurement will be the topic of discussion at the regular
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the
Technology Center, 1301 S. Eddy St.
The public is invited to attend the meeting, which will also include
a public hearing on Schools FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of
Texas) report. That hearing will include an overview of Schools FIRST,
the rating for the PBT-ISD - Superior Achievement and public comments.
A public hearing on AEIS (Academic Excellence Indicator System)
report will also take place tonight.
Under correspondence: donation from Pecos Eagle Athletic Booster
Club; donation from Wal-Mart and donation from the Women's Division of
the Pecos Chamber of Commerce.
The board will consider and take possible action on 2003-2004
textbook committees; attendance committees; requests to purchase
foreclosed properties; Superintendent's expenditure authorization
schedule; TASB Comprehensive Pay System Review and appoint three
representatives to the Reeves County Appraisal District Board.
The group will designate board member for free course through TASB's
on-line learning center.
A second reading and approval of TASB Policy DED Local will be
heard; board members will discuss and take action on request by Reeves
County Sheriff's Department to use the Pecos High School gym for a
volleyball tournament fundraiser for Christmas for Kids and waive fees
and a request by the American Cancer Society Relay for Life committee
for use of the Pecos High School stadium for their annual Relay for
Life event and waive fees.
The board will meet in closed session as authorized by the Texas
Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et. Seq.,
Section 551.074: Discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel
and Section 551.071: (When the governing body seeks the advice of their
attorney concerning: (a) Contemplated litigation regarding tax issue.
Board members will return to open session and take action if any on
Swine validation Friday, Saturday at sites in county
PECOS, Thurs., Nov. 13, 2003 -- Swine validation will be held on
Friday and Saturday in Balmorhea and Pecos, according to Reeves County
Extension Agent Tommy Dominguez.
Swine validation in Balmorhea will be at 3:40 p.m. on Friday, while
in Pecos, validation is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Saturday at the
Reeves-Loving 4-H pens on the south side of Interstate 20.
Maria Rayos, Myrtle Strong and Lillie Ruth Knox
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