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Wednesday, April 2, 1997
Council given progress report on water field
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By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, April 2, 1997 - Town of Pecos City Council made a dry run Tuesday
when they heard a hydrology report on water well fields and discussed
hiring a city manager. No action was taken on either matter.
Kenneth L. Neal, former city manager of Anson and Knox City, was to have
met with the council but had a schedule conflict, said City Attorney
Scott Johnson. That meeting was re-set for 5 p.m. Friday.
Neal was in Pecos for an interview on March 8. He said he has 19 years
experience in local government. "I believe that my credentials qualify
me as a candidate for the Pecos city manager position," he said in a
letter to the council.
He said he implemented a successful budget retrenchment program,
initiated a comprehensive economic development program and understands
that a number of these skills are applicable to Pecos.
"While working for these fiscally conservative city councils, I had the
opportunity to improve employee productivity, developed a staff
evaluation program and implemented a performance budget," he said.
Neal told this reporter that he went to work for the city of Anson in
1974 as a bookkeeper. However, his first day on the job, the city
manager quit and he was assigned those duties. He said he "kept out of
jail" by getting advice from other city managers and Texas Municipal
He now serves as finance and human resource director for Wilson Mfg.
Corp. in Anson.
Joe Reed and Hugh Robotham of Geraghty & Miller Inc., summarized a
hydrology report on the well fields that was made in 1993.
Among their findings was that the city's two water well fields in Reeves
and Ward counties together produce enough water to meet annual average
and peak demands, but neither is capable of meeting peak demands by
Reserves in those two fields at the time of the study totaled about 15
years if the city continues to pump both fields simultaneously. The
water is being "mined," and is not replaceable, said Reed.
Their recommendation in 1993 was to develop a new well field, and they
found good water with ample reserves south of the present Worsham field.
The council approved development of the field, dubbed South Worsham, and
applied for grants to fund it.
One of those grants was diverted to replace part of the Ward County
field pipeline when the council was unable to use it before the deadline
on South Worsham.
Councilman Randy Graham had questioned that use of funds, asking instead
that test wells be dug in the east portion of the present Worsham field,
which has good quality water, to increase reserves.
However, Reed said that drilling more wells in that field will not
increase reserves, because all of the water in that aquifer was
considered when the original estimate of reserves was made.
He recommended drilling one well to replace No. 9 that collapsed several
months ago to ensure a supply of good water for peak demand. That would
cost about $80,000, said Octavio Garcia, utilities director.
Reed said the council should be looking at least 50 years ahead.
Development of South Worsham is a must, and he recommended pumping from
all three fields to keep lines and booster stations in good repair,
blending the good and not-so-good water to provide drinking water that
meets state standards, and extending reserves as long as possible.
Once South Worsham is developed, the city should look toward Kermit for
another field, he said. One consideration in buying water rights is that
a large surface area is required, and it is best to deal with only one
owner, such as a rancher.
The Ward County pipeline will be needed to transport water from the
Kermit field to Pecos, he said, recommending the current program to
replace worn-out sections continue.
Another possibility is water treatment, such as Fort Stockton is
starting, Reed said. But even though reverse osmosis produces good
quality water, it leaves a salty residue that is hard to dispose of, he
Mike Burkholder questioned the wisdom of spending $6 million to develop
South Worsham and pipe the water to town. With the highest tax rate in
the state, Pecos and Reeves County citizens cannot afford such a high
cost, he said.
Engineer Frank Spencer said South Worsham is only seven miles from the
pipeline it would connect to in Worsham Field. And he expects grants to
pay most of the cost.
"I don't think we have any choice," said Dr. Elvia Reynolds.
Graham said the reserve factor was not made clear earlier, and he agrees
that development of South Worsham is the next step to make.
By JON FULBRIGHT
BARSTOW, April 2, 1997 - Barstow residents were promised a voice in
determining the fate of their school by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD
Superintendent Mario Sotelo Tuesday night, during a special meeting in
the Barstow Elementary gymnasium.
Sotelo, along with school board president Linda Gholson and board member
Earl Bates, answered questions from Barstow residents for just under two
hours on the future of their school.
A committee, headed by school board member Frank Perea, has been looking
into possible closing one or more of the 10 campuses in a cost-cutting
effort. Barstow Elementary, which serves first through fifth grade
students in far western Ward County, has been mentioned as one of the
most likely candidates for closing.
Sotelo was out of town this morning, but Gholson said, "It seemed like
their biggest concern was they wanted representation on the committee.
'We asked them to please put down their name and phone number (on a
sheet of paper outside the gym) if they were interested in serving on
it," she added.
Barstow resident and Ward County Commissioner Julian Florez asked the
school officials to get more public input before making any decision on
consolidation, and at the outset of the meeting, Sotelo said "No
decision has been made" on the fate of the Barstow campus.
"Never has the item been on the agenda for a vote to be cast," he said.
Perea was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting due to family illnesses,
Sotelo said. He added that "As far as I know, there has been one
He said the committee had "between 15 and 25 people," though he didn't
know the names of all the committee members.
The superintendent cited "financial considerations," as the reason for
forming the committee. "We're trying to keep the school from going
He said the district has been able to cut $3.1 million from its
insurance costs compared with several years ago, but said the school
still needs to borrow $3 million during the fall to meet payroll, before
taxes come in.
"Right now, they're discussing property taxes in Austin, and we have no
guarantee we'll have enough money to operate next year," Sotelo said.
"We might end up having to cut programs or let go of personnel."
P-B-T receives $831,000 in property and mineral valuation taxes from the
Ward County section of the district, while Barstow Elementary's annual
budget was put at $331,000 by Sotelo. Audience members asked about that
difference, and at least one parent said "If this school closes, I'm
"There were quite a few comments made," Gholson said this morning, while
adding that overall, "I think it went all right."
"Mario mentioned after the meeting he would get together with Frank,"
and discuss Barstow's representation on the committee, Gholson said.
She was unsure why Barstow residents were not part of the committee
previously, but said it was supposed to be made up of community members
from Barstow as well as from Pecos, along with local business people and
"There could be a town hall meeting as some time for people to comment
and suggest recommendations," on any consolidation plans, Gholson added.
By RICK SMITH
PECOS, April 2, 1997 - U.S. Congressman Henry Bonilla presented a
legislative update and answered questions from about 30 Pecos area
residents this morning, during a breakfast meeting at the Best Western
Swiss Clock Inn's Alpine Lodge Restaurant.
Bonilla, R-San Antonio, highlighted his Endangered Species Act (ESA)
reform efforts and announced his appointment as the only Texan serving
on the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee.
"I am happy to report that private property owners can chalk up one
victory for our side," Bonilla said. "Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court
unanimously ruled to allow any person to sue when the federal government
goes too far in enforcing the ESA.
"For too long people were given less consideration under the ESA than
animals or plants."
The U.S. Supreme Court, on March 19, reversed a California Ninth Circuit
Court decision that limited the right to judicial review of the
government's actions under the ESA to environmental groups only,
according to Bonilla.
However, the ruling does not give persons the right to sue for economic
"Anyone who has seen the beauty of the blue skies and wide-open spaces
of West Texas knows how important it is to protect our environment,"
Bonilla said. "We all want to preserve species, but we need to do that
by providing private property owners with incentives, not disincentives."
Addressing his appointment to the House Appropriations Agriculture
Subcommittee, Bonilla said he was glad to bring a Texas perspective to
"The committee's work is very important and affects many programs that
reach far beyond traditional agriculture," he said. "Representing a
district that has more sheep and cattle than people, I look forward to
ensuring the continued success of the food and fiber industries of Texas
and the nation."
The Agriculture Subcommittee funds a wide variety of programs directly
impacting ranching and farming such as the Animal Damage Control
Program, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program and agricultural research
programs. In addition, Bonilla's new committee is responsible for
funding the federal food stamp program, the school lunch program, rural
housing and utilities programs, resource conservation programs and the
Food and Drug Administration.
Marcella Lovett, a member of the Reeves County Hospital Board, asked
Bonilla what is being done to decrease the impact of illegal immigrants
using U.S. medical facilities without paying for services, thereby
increasing the load of U.S. taxpayers to cover the costs.
"The Immigration Reform Bill took effect this week," Bonilla said. "It
is designed to make it less enticing for illegal emigrants to come to
In response to a question from the audience about what is being done to
improve the U.S. education system, Bonilla said, "The problem is that
parents don't care about their children's education. If parents would
just spend 15 minutes a day with their children it would really make
that child come out."
As an example of the lack of parental involvement in public schools
Bonilla stated that the national average turnout for a local school
district related election is 8 to 15 percent of the registered voters.
"Nothing that happens in Washington (D.C.) will affect a school district
in Texas," Bonilla said.
The morning stop in Pecos was one of a series of meetings with West
Texas residents of District 23 this week by the third-term congressmen.
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, April 2, 1997 - Pecos High School's National Honor Society
learned a lesson Tuesday morning, and Pecos Eagles' baseball coach Bubba
Williams learned some unpleasant news a few hours later - his team would
have to forfeit their March 25 win over the Sweetwater Mustangs due to
an ineligible player.
Sophomore Oscar Luna was ineligible to participate in the Eagles'
district-opening 11-2 win over Sweetwater, after playing in a 3-on-3
basketball tournament sponsored by the National Honor Society on March
22 at the Pecos High School gym.
In a press release, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Athletic Director Mike Belew
said, "The first three places (in the tournament) were awarded cash
prizes. Upon investigating the situation, we discovered that a varsity
baseball player received one of the cash awards. This unfortunately,
violated the amateur athletic status of that athlete."
Luna's cash prize for playing on the tournament's third place team was
"As soon as the infraction was discovered, the proper agencies were
notified and the proper steps were taken to rectify the situation.
However, the fact remains than an athlete was ineligible for two
district baseball games, which means those games will have to be
forfeited," Belew's statement continued.
Luna also played in last Thursday's game at Andrews, but the Eagles were
beaten by the Mustangs, 8-2, so his participation had no effect on the
Belew said this morning that Luna was able to regain his eligibility
under University Interscholastic League rules simply by giving back the
$5 prize money to the Honor Society. He explained that the UIL allows a
player who unknowingly took money to return it within 30 days and become
"Oscar became eligible as soon as he gave the money back," Belew said.
However, he was kept out of Tuesday night's 11-1 victory over San Angelo
Lake View by Williams.
"They reinstated him, but I wasn't going to take any chances on playing
him tonight," Williams said following the game. Jason Aguilar stated in
Luna's place in the outfield.
"I almost fell over when they called me in and told me," said Williams,
who was told Tuesday afternoon about the violation. "I'm just glad we
found out early and got it corrected."
"The kid didn't realize it was wrong. Nobody realized it at the time,"
Belew said, adding the problem didn't turn up until a review by school
"Through the checks and balances system through this office and the
administration office this problem was discovered," he said. The school
then turned itself in to the District 4-4A administrative committee.
Sweetwater ISD Superintendent David Welch is administrator in charge of
the 4-4A committee for the 1996-97 school year. A secretary in his
office said Welch was out of town today and Thursday, but did get a fax
on the situation from P-B-T officials on Tuesday.
"He said he would take care of it Friday morning," in a conference call
with other district administrators, the secretary said.
The forfeit won't hurt Pecos as much as it would in previous years,
thanks to the new three-team playoff format for Class 4A teams this
year. Even with the change, the Eagles are still in a four-way tie for
the third playoff berth in District 4-4A following Tuesday's victory,
with seven games remaining on the schedule.
"We're still right in district," Williams said. Pecos is two games in
back of Andrews and one game behind second place Fort Stockton in the
"We still feel that our baseball team is the best in the district, and
we still have every intention of winning a district championship," Belew
"It was an unfortunate incident, but it is corrected, and we plan to go
forward. The kids responded like true champions last night. If that
wasn't a statement about where their heart is, I don't know what is."
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, April 2, 1997 - U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson this morning
wound up federal court business for the week by accepting a guilty plea,
sentencing one defendant and denying motions to suppress evidence and to
reveal the name of a confidential informant in a drug case.
Starting off the week, Judge Furgeson presided for a jury trial that
resulted in a "guilty" verdict for Roberto Carlos Sanchez-Garcia. He was
charged with importing and possessing with intent to distribute
marijuana on Nov. 26, 1996.
Between Judge Furgeson and U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt, the
courts handled numerous guilty pleas and sentencings.
Petra Garcia Quinones and Silvestre Quinones, who had been scheduled for
jury trial Tuesday, instead pulled and "April Fool" and pleaded guilty
to importing marijuana on Jan. 19. In the plea bargain agreement, a
count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana will be
dismissed at sentencing.
Reyes Velasquez-Alfaro, a native of El Salvador, pleaded guilty to
illegal re-entry after deportation.
James Worthy pleaded guilty to importing marijuana on Nov. 20, 1996 and
to violating terms of his pre-trial release. His bond was revoked.
William Wimberly was sentenced to 27 months in prison for possession
with intent to distribute marijuana.
Leobaldo Mendoza-Gallardo and Francisco Ochoa-Valdez pleaded guilty to
illegal re-entry after deportation.
Raul Moreno-Cedillo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and
possession with intent to distribute amphetamine on Oct. 3.
Edgar Saldana-Arzate was sentenced to time served since Nov. 22, 1996
for making a false claim to citizenship.
Jose Alfredo Avila-Salgado's motions to suppress evidence and for the
government to reveal the name of a confidential informant in his
marijuana importation and possession case were denied.
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, April 2, 1997 - Ballot preparation is underway in the Pecos City
Council election, and candidates were asked today to submit
certification from the tax assessor-collector that they do not owe
delinquent city taxes.
The city charter provides that such certification be submitted along
with the application for a place on the ballot. However, City Secretary
Geneva Martinez said she is required to have certification in hand 30
days before the May 3 election, which would be Thursday.
City Attorney Scott Johnson said that federal case law says that whether
or not taxes are paid at the time of application does not reflect on a
candidate's ability to serve.
Several provisions in the city charter have already been overruled by
state and federal law, he said.
"We don't need to change it if a higher authority has overruled or
changed its provision," he said of the charter. "At some point we may
need to annotate it with conflicts that automatically overrule it."
Johnson said he will review the law.
"If it turns out my understanding of federal law is correct, they all
will be on the ballot," Johnson said of the five candidates.
Only one candidate had not paid his 1996 city taxes by the Feb. 1
deadline, causing the taxes to become delinquent.
Lydia Prieto, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax assessor-collector, who also
collects city taxes, said that candidates Johnny Albert Terrazas, Randy
J. Graham, Elvia L. Reynolds Jr. and Genaro Luis Tellez Jr. have paid
1996 city taxes.
Records show that Carlos E. Campos owed $179.19 in city taxes as of
March 19, the deadline for filing.
Johnson said he had also been asked if Johnny Terrazas, who works in the
federal courthouse, is allowed to run under the Hatch Act, which
prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity.
Terrazas said he checked with his federal judges before filing and was
told that the Act applies only to partisan elections. Seats on the city
council are filled by at-large voting. The top three vote-getters win
the three available seats, and no political parties are involved.
Early voting in city, school and hospital district races begins April 14
in the Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak St.
PECOS, April 2, 1997 - High Tuesday 81, low last night 55. Tonight, a 50
percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Low 50-55. Southeast wind
10-20 mph. Thursday, mostly cloudy. A 40 percent chance of showers or
thunderstorms. High 70-75. Southeast wind 10-20 mph.
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