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Saragosa Foundation president Tony Gallego said today that the Red cross
is trying to arrange for someone to transport donated items that are
still in storage in Pecos.
Three old hangers at Pecos Municipal Airport contain items donated to
Saragosa. Gallego said the hangers contain primarily clothing.
"There's more than enough for Saragosa," he said, "so why not give it to
someone who really needs it now?"
Gallego said that although much time has elapsed since the May 22
tornado, Saragosans still recall the hardships and also the relief that
poured in from all over the world.
The people of Saragosa wanted to do something for Palestine residents,
who in a tornado Saturday lost homes and other belongings.
Legal Aid attorneys in Saragosa on Saturday afternoon presented the
records that had been provided by county and county-appointed officials.
Only a handful of people had assembled for the townhall meeting, said
Saragosa Foundation president Tony Gallego, probably because the meeting
was not publicized well enough.
Though the attorneys gave no official report as they had been expected
to do Saturday, Legal Aid is planning to have a press conference in
Pecos on Tuesday to let everyone know what we're going to do next,
Attorneys said the records look okay. Gallego said, but some questions
remain on a few line items.
"They're going to be taking depositions from some people to have them
explain to us in more detail whey they spent this certain amount on this
certain thing," Gallego said.
For example, one $200 check went to Reeves County jailer Sandy Kelly for
a trip to Odessa, Gallego said. "We'd just like to know why the trip was
made," he said.
Details on the press conference should be announced Tuesday morning,
The records that had been reviewed by Legal Aid included those from the
Saragosa Relief Fund finance committee, the county sheriff's office, the
Pecos Jaycees and district clerk Juana Jaquez.
PECOS, NOV. 24, 1987 - Texas Rural Legal Aid attorneys are to file a
petition in district court today so that they can begin questioning
county officials under oath about Saragosa relief funds.
After filing the petition for bill of discovery on behalf of the
citizens of Saragosa, attorneys have scheduled a 1:15 p.m. press
conference to discuss their plans for obtaining information that was not
contained in the 3,000 or more documents previously provided Legal Aid
by county officials.
"We've had good cooperation so far, but there is additional information
we need - oral statements and information," Legal Aid attorney Alpha
Hernandez said today.
The petition also asks for additional documents, including shipping and
receiving statements, warehouse receipts and motor vehicle titles.
In the documents already provided, Legal Aid has found some "holes in
the paperwork" that may be specified during today's press conference,
Mrs. Hernandez said.
One example previously given was a $200 check written for a trip to
Odessa by county jailer Sandy Kelly, who had helped supervise the
sheriff's office in Saragosa.
Saragosa Foundation president Tony Gallego said citizens want to know
why she went and why other monies were used in other cases.
To obtain the oral information, attorneys will ask officials to appear
in court and answer questions under oath, Mrs. Hernandez said.
"What we have done up to today has been informal," she said."We're at
the point now where they're saying, `This is all we've got.'
Mrs. Hernandez said that the additional information may or may not lead
to further action by attorneys.
"If we see any misconduct, it will be presented to the proper
authorities," she said. "The petition today is an intermediary action.
We're not sure what the outcome will be."
Legal Aid spokesman John Muir, who was in Pecos today, had reportedly
characterized the petition as filling a lawsuit against the county.
But Reeves County attorney Scott Johnson said Legal Aid's action was
just a step toward filling a lawsuit, according to reports.
PECOS, NOV. 24, 1987 - What started four years ago with a trip by state
land commissioner Gary Mauro to Israel is actually now culminating in
the hands of a 67-year-old Alpine farmer.
Bruce Hackett, a retired engineer who spent many years of manufacturing
and selling chemical tanks in the United States and in Australia, is
working closely with Sul Ross State University on what will someday be a
350-acre demonstration farm just northeast of Saragosa.
Pistachio trees are growing in greenhouses at Sul Ross, and land at the
Saragosa site is to be prepared for spring planting in a couple of
As the primary investor in the project, Hackett plans to plant not only
60 acres of pistachios, but also 40 acres of Christmas trees and about
30 acres of herbs, chilies and asparagus crowns.
What Hackett did was downscale the Israeli plan, which was to spend $2.5
million to raise 350 acres of pistachios and asparagus, crops that a
team of analysts determined would be ideal for this part of the country.
"we're going to set up a farm," Hackett said. "Oh, it'll be a
demonstration farm alright, but we plan to make a profit."
Hackett moved to Alpine you can just stick right into the pot," Nelson
said. "That beats traumatizing the seeding as we transplant."
The trees are treated with tender loving care, Nelson said, and
according to a little technology mixed with a little tradition.
"We're planning to plant when the mesquite breaks dormancy and makes new
leaves," he said. "It's the old wives' tale, but it works."
Forty acres of the pistachio acreage northeast of Saragosa will be
irrigated by flooding, and the other 20 acres by a relatively new drip
irrigation system that uses micro emitters.
"The pipe is underground, and the emitters are above," Nelson explained.
"They don't spray, it saves water and gets the plant what it needs."
The system was developed in the United States, and it was recommended by
the Israeli scientists, whose country's farmers have become quite
efficient in using it, Nelson said.
The trees will take eight years to produce, which is why Hackett plans
to plant Christmas trees that can be harvested after the first five
"This is not an overnight thing," he said. "we're talking about a
PECOS, NOV. 24, 1987 - The 7,500 pistachio trees being grown in
greenhouses for planting near Saragosa this spring are but five months
old and a few inches tall.
Some are being grown at a pistachio farm in New Mexico, and some in
greenhouses in Alpine. Bruce Hackett, investor for the project, has
trees sprouting in his homemade greenhouse, and twice as many are
growing at the Range Animal Science Center at Sul Ross State University.
The trees start with a seed, which is germinated on a wet cloth in
darkness and at temperatures controlled to 70 degrees, explained RAS
center director James Nelson.
The germinated seeds are then placed in rooting tubes, five-inch plastic
tubes that encourage the roots to grow straight down. After four to six
weeks, when the plant has four leaves, the seedling is transplanted to a
taller tree pot.
"We're also going to try some new Styrofoam rooting tubes that about
seven years ago and developed his small farm there, then leased the land
commission acreage in the Saragosa area.
"Farming was lousy - we didn't do much with it," he recalled. "Then
along came the Israelis."
The land commission contracted with a team of Israeli farming
specialists who in conjunction with the University of Texas, Texas A&M
and Texas Tech, studied the arid lands in this Trans-Pecos region to see
what crops could use their methods of farming and irrigation.
About 750,000 of the 900,000 acres of Permanent School Fund property
that the land commission manages is in the region from the Pecos River
to El Paso, according to deputy commissioner Frank Morgan.
Two years ago, the study concluded by identifying the Saragosa site as
having the land and water most adaptable to the Israeli farming methods.
"Now, we have Sul Ross involved as well," Morgan noted.
That was a part of Hackett's plan.
Last year, when legislators talked of closing down the university of
Alpine, Hackett wrote Mauro of the possibilities in this area of working
the land and the university together.
Now, the university greenhouses are growing the trees that will be
planted in late February or early March at the Saragosa farm.
Hackett said student grants will be available not only on the farming
aspect, but also for business students in helping to form a marketing
company to sell nuts and honey.
Though he himself has spent many years as a farmer, Hackett has never
farmed pistachios. "Nobody has except the Shaw of Iran and a few people
in California," he joked.
Several people in Pecos have tried their hand at the crop - with some
Hackett is optimistic about the Saragosa location, which will year by
year be expanded in acreage from next year's 150-acre spread and will
someday also include greenhouses.
"The main thing is to try and start a new industry out here, where we
really need one," he said, "pistachios and Christmas trees to start
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