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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


January 23, 1998

Council hears sewer test results

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 23, 1998 - The council received a detailed
report from the engineering office of Frank X. Spencer
highlighting the results of phase two smoke test that was
performed, in conjunction with the city, by Spencer and
Associates on Pecos sewer lines, including recommendations
for TV inspection and line cleaning.

Abidur Kahn, who made the presentation to the council, was
joined by Frank Spencer and Victor Thompson in fielding the
questions of the council.

The results of the testing of the phase two area (which
includes most of Pecos south of Highway 80) revealed much
need of repair, including 32 public and 199 private sector
defects. Recommendations secured by the test include: the
city initiating sewer line cleaning, followed by TV
inspection, implementation of an abatement program, and
rehabilitation and permitting of abandoned sewer ponds at
the wastewater treatment plant.

Spencer warned the council that if the city didn't start
pursuing an amendment to the current wastewater treatment
plant that would enable now-abandoned ponds to receive waste
water, and if that amendment didn't get approved, then the
city would be losing more and more water flow. As it
currently stands, Spencer said, the sewer lines are only
returning about 40 percent of city water. "We should be
getting back about 85 percent," he said.

The council approved the initiation of line cleaning, TV
inspection, and voted to pursue an abatement program and
permitting of wastewater ponds. The matter will be discussed
again at the next council meeting, scheduled for 7:30 a.m.,
Feb. 12, 1998.

While there were no private citizens present to voice
concern or comment at the meeting, Department of Health
Director Armando Gil used the opportunity to inform the
council on progress gained in securing a reimbursement of
about $19,000 the city had spent on a liquid mercury spill
that occurred in late Aug., 1996. According to Gil, neither
Pecos nor the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
reported the money to the EPA, which is in charge of
community reimbursements.

Mayor Stafford followed Gil's positive words with sober
words regarding former Chief of Police Troy Moore's
retirement and presented Moore with a plaque on behalf of
the City in appreciation his 10 years of service. "I know
that you have future plans," said Stafford, " and I hope
they are successful."

Moore called the council's attention to his replacement,
current Chief of Police Clay McKinney, by saying, "This is
the smoothest transition. Clay is doing so well that I feel
completely unnecessary."

The juvenile report was passed with comment on the large
number of youth skipping school. According to City Attorney
Scott Johnson, the numbers are misleading because up until
now each individual occurrence has been filed as an
individual complaint for each day missed -causing the
numbers to look high -but said that the Municipal Court
Judge Phyllis Salyer was beginning to file only one case per
student, only raising the fines on each case as the offenses
increase. Johnson said that the last year has seen great
improvement in enforcement and that the first offense of
skipping school is $200.

The ambulance report was passed by a relieved council, with
Mayor Stafford commenting that the monthly report "looked
great." Steve McCormick, city finance director, said that
the collection of $11,520.41 for the month of December,
1997, was more than was collected in all previous months of

Johnson, who entered into contract with Bill Cole of the
ambulance service as the new collecting agent, said he is
still having difficulties securing delinquent accounts from
the old collection agency, Management Koncepts, that are
older than four months and younger than four years.

The Pecos Chamber of Commerce's fourth quarter report was
approved by the council, with City Manager Neal being asked
to remind the chamber that the new contract between the
chamber and the City, which revises the percentages used of
the chamber's income for various tasks, still needs to be
signed. Accounts payable was approved at $184,638.31.

Councilman Gerald Tellez Jr. asked the City Manager how the
situation with West Texas Waste stands. "I spoke with Ronnie
[Ruiz, manager of West Texas Waste's transfer station] and
he said that all the trimmed trees were keeping them busy,
but he said that alley clean-up would start today," said

The mayor lamented that the council had requested a
representative of West Texas Waste be present at the
morning's meeting, but no one had shown up. Code Enforcement
Officer Emma Carrasco stood up at this point in the meeting
and said that "the biggest problem we have at this point is
the alleys. What became a rodent problem is now a fire

Carrasco said that after pressing for the clean-up of vacant
lots, a good response on the part of citizens has now filled
alleys and dumpsters with refuse on the understanding that
West Texas Waste would clean up the garbage. "In the three
months since I started with code enforcement I haven't seen
one [West Texas Waste] truck go by."

Councilman Graham said that the public still needs to be
educated on how to bundle their tree trimmings, and Tellez
said that he had called the 1-800 number for the company and
had been put on hold twice for ten minutes. Another problem
with the system the council discussed is the set-up at the
transfer station where citizens are required to hoist their
waste into a roll-out trailer. "Old people like me have
trouble throwing trash into the high trailer," said Neal.
"Hopefully we can get a ramp connected." Discussion of West
Texas Waste's services was placed on the agenda for the
council's next meeting.

Mayor Stafford took a moment to make the announcement that
she had received a "very nice letter" from the mayor of
Barstow, Abram Flores. He wrote to thank the city for its
assistance in animal control in the past and to inform the
council that Barstow had their own animal control officer in
place now.

Discussion with department heads led the council to secure a
vehicle for City Manager Neal. "The problem is that it is
not a budgeted item," said Mayor Stafford. Ricky Herrera
suggested that since Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire had
acquired a second vehicle after being elected Fire Chief
perhaps Neal could drive one of the two.

Brookshire said that he had planned on housing the truck he
has been using in the new EMS building if and when it is
completed. The council voted that Neal use Brookshire's car
and that the Pecos Police Department pursue the new vehicles
they need.

The proposals the city sent out in the attempt to secure
bids for the closure of Trench 1, Area B of the Pecos area
landfill solicited only one response, from Raba-Kistner
Consultants (SW), Inc., out of El Paso, Tx. Proposals were
also mailed to Combest Geo-Science, ENPROTEC, and
Environmental Labs of Texas.City Manager Neal recommended
the council approve Raba-Kistner for the bid, "since it is
the only bid."

City Attorney Johnson said that the company had done work
for the city before. "As I recall, it was done well," he
said. A representative of the Raba-Kistner was at the
meeting. The council unanimously approved the bid.

In executive session the council agreed to increase
Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Salyer's salary by three
percent, from the current $779 a month to about $800. The
meeting was followed with a farewell party with cake and
punch for departing police chief Troy Moore.

PBT searching for PHS head coach

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 23, 1998 - With less than a week remaining to
submit applications, the vacant head coaching position at
Pecos High School has drawn about half as many applicants as
it did the last time it came open two years ago.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD personnel director Gome Olibas said
three applications have been returned and three others were
given out for the position, which became open earlier this
month when new P-B-T Superintendent Don Love reassigned head
coach and athletic director Mike Belew to principal at
Zavala Middle School.

Both Love and Belew cited "philosophical differences" for
the change, and Love named longtime Eagles' baseball coach
Bubba Williams as interim athletic director.

Belew assistant Dan Swaim, former Eagles' assistant coach
Steele Ewing and Ronnie White, currently coaching in the El
Paso ISD, are the three applicants, Olibas said, while
ex-Eagles sub varsity coach Fernando Hernandez, now an
assistant coach in Fabens, Manuel Valles, coaching in the
Laredo ISD, and Pecos High School teacher John Barfield have
been given applications, but have not returned them so far,
he added.

Applications will be taken through next Wednesday, Jan. 28,
after which they will be reviewed by Love and Williams
before making a recommendation to P-B-T school board members.

The applications deadline is less than a week before the
scheduled bi-annual district realignment by the University
Interscholastic League. The most likely changes for Pecos
will be either replacing Sweetwater with Monahans in
District 4-4A or moving Pecos, Monahans and Fort Stockton
into a district with three or four El Paso-area schools.

No official word on the change will be made by the UIL
before 9 a.m. on Feb. 2, but the league did say there will
be between 15 and 20 fewer Class 5A schools in the new
realignment, meaning there will probably be an increase in
the number of Class 4A schools for the next two years.

Federal officers leave big city for Pecos

Staff Writer

PECOS, January 23, 1998 - San Antonio might seem a step up
from Pecos, but two federal probation officers recently
chose to leave the big city for positions in the Pecos

Jamison F. Reed is officer-in-charge of the Pecos probation
office, and Diana Tijerina has recently joined him. Both had
worked in the home office in San Antonio.

Reed had worked in Midland before moving to San Antonio, and
he liked working with Senior Judge Lucius Bunton.

"Judge Bunton is a great guy to work for," Reed said. "One
of the reasons I took this job is because he is still coming
here to do criminal work."

District Judge Royal Furgeson and Magistrate Judge Stuart
Platt are "real nice people" also, he said. "That makes my
job a lot easier. All the judges in our whole district are
real good judges too. They are approachable."

Probation officers travel a wide territory in the Pecos
Division, covering all but two of the 10 counties that make
up the division. At the moment, they are supervising 23
convicted felons who have served their prison time and are
serving an additional term of supervised release.

Most of the violators convicted in the Pecos Division live
elsewhere, accounting for the relatively low number of
supervisions out of the hundreds convicted each year.

"We try to see them where they are," he said of the
"clients." "If there are problems, we call them in here."

Most of the probation department's work is investigating the
background, criminal history and severity of the offense
charged before defendants are sentenced.

They also summarize application of the law and the offense
as it applies to the federal sentencing guidelines.

"The guidelines are very controversial," Reed said. "They
are full of legalese. We have a lot of contact with
attorneys, both for the government and defense, about
application of the guidelines."

Judges rely on the probation officer as a "sentencing
expert," so he must consider the interests of the defendant
as well as the government.

"We are prt of the court system," Reed said. "We try to look
at the different sides and facts of the case."

Some judges will call a sentencing hearing in complicated
cases, allowing witnesses to testify about different aspects
of the law, the offense and the defendant.

"The judge is the ultimate decider," Reed said. His decision
may be appealed by either the government or the defendant.

Gathering a criminal history can be time consuming, because
the officer has to go to different county clerks, sheriff's
offices, police departments and other locations where
records are available.

"Most of these people aren't from here. We have to ask
officers (in their home division) to do the investigation,"
Reed said.

Another probation officer is due to come on board in the
Pecos office in August. Working with them are two clerks.
Irma Benavides recently was promoted to clerk-in-charge when
the second clerk was added to the staff.

Reed, who is a bachelor, enjoys "typical guy stuff,"
hunting, fishing and camping. He is from a tiny town named
Venus and has worked in Decatur and Archer City during the
10 years he has been in county and federal probation work.

He became interested in the legal system when he was a
freshman in college.

"I knew I like social sciences," he said. "I took a criminal
justice class and that ended up being my major. Those areas
are entertwined."

"I like what I do," he said. "Sometimes there are too many
things to do at the same time, but I still enjoy my job 10
years later."


PECOS, January 23, 1998 - High Thursday, 58, low this
morning, 28. It will be clear to partly cloudy and cool
across all of Texas for the first half of the weekend. It
will be clear to partly cloudy across West Texas with some
morning fog possible in the Permian Basin, Concho Valley and
Edwards Plateau. North Texas will have clear skies tonight
and mostly sunny conditions on Saturday. Clear to partly
cloudy skies are forecast for South Texas where the end of
recent rains will be welcomed, particularly in Southeast
Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 20s and 30s except in
South Texas where readings will be mostly in the 30s and
40s, ranging from the upper 20s in the Hill Country to the
50s in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Highs Saturday will be
in the 50s and 60s except in South Texas where readings will
be in the 60s.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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