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Economic Development


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Monday, April 19, 2004

Toyah getting back to normal as I-20 reopens

Staff Writer

Toyah business are slowly seeing a return to normal as interstate traffic once again in passing through the town following the reopening of the westbound I-20 bridge on Friday.

Sandy Terry, owner of Terry’s Grill and Saloon, said that due to the shutdown, the restaurant had to shut down for a large portion of last week, but since its reopening on Thursday the business had seen slowly increasing crowds for lunch and dinner. “We closed down from Friday (April 9) till Wednesday (April 14), due to lack of customers since the highway closed,” Terry said. “Friday and Saturday were not back to normal, but hopefully it will keep pickling up.”

I-20 traffic was detoured along State Highway 17 from Pecos to I-10 south of Saragosa for 11 days, while crews worked on making emergency repairs to the surviving westbound bridge on I-20 at Salt Draw. Floodwaters caused the eastbound bridge to collapse and damaged the supports on the two westbound lanes over the normally dry draw.

The highway was reopened late Friday afternoon between Pecos and the I-10 junction. However, replacement of sections of both bridges over Salt Draw is expected to last through late this year.

A waitress at Terry’s, Naomi Machuca, said she had not been hurt that much by the slowdown, due to the fact that her husband was still working while the detour was being built. But she knew that some of the waitresses who were not married, did feel the crunch.

“Our lunch traffic slowed to around one or two customers for lunch and none for dinner before we closed last week, but we are getting back to normal slowly but surely,” Machuca said.

Along with knocking out the eastbound Interstate bridge, the floodwaters caused a levee on the northwest side of Toyah to break in three places in the early morning hours of April 4, causing waters from San Martine Draw to flood the north side of town, damaging over two dozen homes.

Volunteers have been in Toyah since then, helping some residents clean up their homes and remove debris from the area caused by the flooding.

Toyah Mayor Pro-Tem, Diane Tollett added that the relief coming in from varied sources had helped greatly, and in fact, the town had received so much help that some of the supplies and food were sent back.

“The Church of Christ Disaster Relief sent $90,000 worth of supplies, so much so that we had them leave some of it in Pecos because we knew that we didn’t need all of that. We only have two people left who need to come in to pick up their supplies, and once they do, we will go back to the agencies that donated the items and see if they want it back,” Tollett said. “Otherwise, we will donate anything left over to local charities and churches.”

Tollett added that after the clean up is over and Toyah has returned to some sort of normalcy, the city plans to hold a ceremony for all the people that came to residents need during the rescue efforts and relief/fund raising efforts. “We would really just like to thank all of the people that have helped up through this.”

Tollett said that the state would be sending out applications to the town on Thursday for relief support from TDHCA and ORCA. She added that though ORCA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality it was hoped the city could get help with the rebuilding of the western dike.

“I have been working on a housing grant through TDHCA over the past few years, and we finally got approved the other week” Tollett said. “The grant is for the rebuilding/renovation of houses for disabled or elderly persons, and though many of the people on the original grant application have since died, some of the damage from this disaster can hopefully be fixed with funds from this grant.”

Sandy Terry added that the Red Cross had been “wonderful and very generous” throughout this ordeal. “They are currently trying to help families get back into their homes while the work is being finished. We still have two or three families displaced, but hopefully they will be able to move back in soon.”

Terry added that her house was not severely damaged in the flood, mostly just fences and storage buildings. “We have cleaned up the buildings with flood damaged, the fences are back up, and we have ordered more gravel for the RV park, but as far as the basics, its back.”

“We really need to thank all of the volunteers so much. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know what would have happened to the residents of this town. The Lions’ Club has been very generous, the church group from east Tennessee (Church of Christ Disaster Relief), the City of Pecos, all of the local fire departments, and many more all greatly deserve our thanks,” Terry said.

Pecos Lions Club members partnered with the Lions Club International in obtaining a $5,000 grant for Toyah.

“We were in Toyah giving out the funds recently and still have some left,” said Lion’s Club member Tom Rivera on Friday.

Rivera said that the funds are being used to purchase medical supplies, food and other items that were lost in the flood.

“What we did was give the vouchers and they could use them at Wal-Mart and Gibson’s,” said Rivera, who added that the Lions were going to distribute the rest of the money over the weekend.

“We had some left and want to go back and give it to the residents, make sure that all of the money goes to Toyah,” he said. The club had received a list of 53 families and that they had all received a portion of the funds, Rivera added.

“Our District Governor Francis Cherry, was very instrumental in getting this money for us,” said Rivera.

Tollett said that the town is currently trying to focus its efforts on cleaning up the town itself, in addition to sanitizing the houses as people are moving back in.

Staff writer Rosie Flores contributed to this story

Automotive students cruise home with top honors

Staff Writer

A group of Pecos High School automotive students cam home with several top honors recently from a state vocational competition held late last month.

The 11 students competed in the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) state competition held March 24-26 in Fort Worth. Roger Jones, the automotive program’s supervisor, added that of those 11 that went, eight placed first and three placed second. Jones said that the majority of the competition is based off the students’ workbooks they keep while doing a certain project.

“The students have many options when it comes to competition entries,” Jones said. “They can rebuild a variety of projects, but throughout the restoration they keep a note book with pictures and write-ups on everything they did.”

VICA chapter president, Ray Pena, added that competitors could choose to rebuild anything from a small engine to various engine parts. “The judges look at the notebooks, judging everything from disassembly and rebuilding to reassembly and painting.”

Jones added that the students also keep a classroom notebook, recording the entire project that they have worked on all year within, and can decide to compete with that as opposed to an individual project.

Jones said that six of the juniors participating in the automotive class placed in Fort Worth, and five of the seniors placed.

Those juniors that went to state were Rolondo Hidalgo, Joshua Cobos, Saul Pina, James Ybarra, David Davis, and Carlos Mendoza. The seniors included Sal Nichols, Jose Garcia, David Muniz, Max Miranda and Jacob Nunez.

Schools accepting requests for ‘04-05 advanced program

Written parental consent for the enhanced program for students in grades kindergarten through sixth for the 2004-2005 school year will be accepted beginning today and continuing through April 30.

Request must be submitted to the current campus the student is attending.


Amy McIntire and Ana Hernandez

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