April 10, 1998
Transportation of waste impacts Pecos
By GREG HARMAN
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - With one facility devoted to the
storage of radioactive waste on the verge of opening in
Carlsbad, N.M., and another nearing the primary stages of
construction at Sierra Blanca, Tex., the transportation of
radioactive waste, a byproduct of military, energy and
medical development, is now much closer to impacting Pecos
Unless legislation is enacted to route radioactive waste
around Pecos, trucks carrying shipments of varying levels of
waste will be driving through town on U.S. Highway 285 and
though the south part of town on Interstate 20. Citizen and
political action groups continue to raise concerns regarding
the transport and storage of these wastes and the Reeves
County Commissioners are no exception.
In a letter recently drafted to the U.S. Air Force
concerning the proposal to conduct low-level bomber training
over much of the county, Reeves County Commissioners stated,
"We are particularly concerned about the surprise and wind
force effect upon trucks moving radioactive wastes and toxic
wastes on Interstate 10 and Interstate 20 and on U.S.
According to a spokesman for Department of Energy in
Carlsbad, these interstates will be the official transport
routes unless the state of Texas designates other routes in
its next legislative session.
TxDOT Public Information Officer Glen Larum said that it
wouldn't necessarily take a state order to open alternative
routes for waste around Pecos. If Congressman Bonilla could
get Department of Energy funding to build an alternative
hazardous/nuclear route around Pecos, the Department of
Transportation "would not object" to its construction, he
"I would be more concerned about waste going to the WIPP
site than Sierra Blanca," he said, "Any waste moving from
Interstate 20 (to Carlsbad on US 285) would be routed
directly through town."
TxDOT's Pecos Area Engineer Doug Eichorst II has been
studying county roads around Pecos in the hopes of finding a
alternative route. However, he said he found the county
roads to have too few travelers to qualify as possible state
routes for hazardous/radioactive material. At least 250
vehicles must travel on a road per day before the state can
be responcible for the road.
To appease concerned New Mexicans, the U.S. Department of
Energy gave the state of New Mexico $120 million, most of
which, will go towards the construction of special roads
for the debated transportation of waste. Specifically,
officials from the city of Santa Fe, N.M., the state's
Highway and Transportation Department and U.S. Department of
Energy recently developed an alternate route for shipping
defense-generated transuranic waste around the city of Santa
"It's a good agreement that acknowledges the safety concerns
of the citizens of Santa Fe," said Santa Fe Mayor Larry
Delgado, "I think it will work."
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) outside Carlsbad will
begin receiving waste, mostly plutonium-contaminated
materials, on or about June 1, according to Department of
Energy officials. After the Environmental Protection Agency
determines whether or not the facility meets federal nuclear
waste disposal standards and the Energy Secretary makes his
decision, waste may begin entering WIPP along U.S. 285 from
the rest of the country after 30 days.
Will there be special routes to route around Pecos?
A recently passed federal highway reauthorization bill,
which provides almost $400 billion for national highway and
transportation funding, and $10.8 billion for Texas
developments alone, makes no promises. While the Senate bill
carries no stipulations, the House version is literally
packed with special provisions. But, according to
Information Officer Larum, none of these provisions will
affect anything in TxDOT's entire Odessa district, which
includes Reeves and 11 other West Texas counties.
No specific help will be coming from Senator Gramm's office,
according to Gramm spokesperson Larry Neal. "We intend to
support Texas projects -not direct them." Constructing a
safer route around Pecos, he said, is a "matter for the
Texas Department of Transportation to decide."
The bill that will allow Vermont and Maine to ship their
low-level radioactive waste for storage in Texas was passed
by "unanimous consent" by the U.S. Senate late Wednesday
night, April 1. The compact is now expected to be re-routed
through the legislative process, stripped of the amendments
that restrict it to a tri-state compact, increasing the
chances of Sierra Blanca becoming a national dump.
The state's dump-site of choice, located in Hudspeth County
near Sierra Blanca, is one step closer to receiving
interstate waste. Recent protests in Juarez, Mexico, that
found thousands marching in opposition to the site's
proposed location, brought concerns such as the seismic
activity of the Sierra Blanca region and its proximity to an
international boundary and the Rio Brava River, to public
According to Bill Addington, Sierra Blanca Legal Defense
Fund spokesperson, part of the waste scheduled to run the
long highway from Maine to West Texas is a 1,000 ton reactor
which emits 4.2 million curries of radioactivity and is
endowed with a half-life of 250,000 years. "The Nuclear
Regulatory Committee re-classified it for transport," said
The compact agreement, supported by the three state
governors and U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Phil
Gramm, is now on its way to a "House-Senate conference,"
said Dana Perino spokesperson for the House Energy and Power
The bill's original language, which gave the Texas Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority the authority to open
the dump for waste from non-compact states, is expected to
be restored by stripping the amendments, named after their
House and Senate sponsors Doggett and Wellstone,
respectively. Senator Olympia Snowe, of Maine, has expressed
interest in storing her state's waste at South Carolina's
closer Barnwell site and renting Maine's space to another
"The hand in power of Texas Utilities and Houston Lighting
and Power," said Pecos resident-turned-activist Clark
Lindley, "is evident in the efforts of the political
proponents of the compact bill."
The politicians, Lindley complained, continually represent
the interests of the large metropolitan cities and
"repeatedly pass laws that make rural areas subservient to
the interests of the cities."
Lobbyists representing both nuclear utility companies have
been actively supporting the Sierra Blanca site at the state
legislative hearings which began on January 21, 1998, and
have been held in Sierra Blanca, Marfa, Austin and El Paso.
The Texas Legislature will make the final decision regarding
the location of the dump when if reconvenes in January, 1999.
The Sierra Blanca site would ultimately house radioactive
components from dismantled nuclear power plants, industrial
and medical waste. The proposed facility may take in as much
as 45,000 to 50,000 cubic feet of waste annually over a
projected 30-year lifespan.
The states of Maine and Vermont have agreed to spend $25
million each to construct the facility. The State of Texas
would thereafter assume responsibility for the maintenance,
repair and clean-up costs of the low-level waste dump.
Radiation: watch the labels
By GREG HARMAN
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - Radiation carries a particular
stigma. Like natural gas, it is odorless, tasteless, and
unless you have expensive equipment up to the task:
virtually undetectable. But unlike natural gas, even brief
exposure can result in considerable harm to living things.
Exposure to low levels of the waste may damage human cells,
causing long-term illnesses such as cancer or birth defects.
Higher levels can actually destroy human cells, resulting in
more "immediate" damage.
Here in Pecos, residents may be about to witness the
transportation of radioactive waste through the middle of
town northbound on U.S. Highway 285 and along Interstate 20
to the south. What if the unthinkable happened?
Armando Gil and Lupe Nieto, coordinator and assistant
coordinator for the local office of emergency management,
would be the first on the scene.
The office is equipped to test radioactive materials and
call for evacuations, but any clean-up must come from an
outside agency. Gil said he did not believe anybody near
Pecos was "capable" of cleaning up a radioactive spill.
In terms of danger to the Pecos population, Gil said that it
depended on the type of material, wind direction and
duration of exposure, but he was confident in the evacuation
"I believe we will have plenty of time to evacuate the
general public if we need to," he said.
Gil said his first call after a confirmed radioactive spill
would be to the Bureau of Radiological Control. The second
call would be to the Regional Liaison Officer Clay Crabtree
at Midland's Department of Public Safety.
Gil offered this advice: If you see a parcel with the
radiation symbol (see the corners of this article box) "Stay
away." Then contact the police department, fire department
or Gil's office directly.
He offered the following story as an anecdote of what NOT
"A logging truck had lost a box labeled radioactive
material. It was found by a tourist, who picked it up and
put it in their car. They brought it to the (Reeves County)
Sheriff's Department." The sheriff, he said, ("not this
present administration") put the box in the dispatch room
-where it sat for "more than 24 hours before they called me."
Good turnout in early voting
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - Early voting for run-off elections
ended Thursday afternoon with a good turnout, according to
Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.
Final totals showed that 433 people voted by personal
appearance while there were 167 by mail.
Runoff election date has been set for April 14.
Commissioner Precinct 4 race will be in the runoff
elections, with Bernardo "Chaquen" Martinez and Gilberto
In the Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 race, incumbent Joel
Madrid is being challenged by Rosendo Carrasco.
Joseph T. Sullivan and Charlie Urbina Jones are also in the
runoff elections in the Congressional U.S. Rep. District 23
The courthouse was closed today in observance of Good Friday.
"We had a really good turnout for early voting, but expect
more voters to come out on runoff election day," said
Florez. "We urge everyone that didn't vote in early voting
to come out on April 14," she said.
Post office open late tax day
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - Federal Income Tax returns must be
postmarked by April 15, and with this in mind the Pecos U.S.
Post Office will be doing all they can to help local
Interim postmaster Tony C. Ramirez stated that the post
office will remain open until 7 p.m. April 15 in order to
hand stamp IRS returns.
"The postal service is committed to operating in a
businesslike manner that satisfied customers need," said
Ramirez. "And what a better example than to stay open late
for those customers that will rush home, complete final
entries on their IRS forms, then rush to the post office to
get it mailed," he said.
"Not only do we want them to mail it, but we want to hand
stamp their letter and provide them with peace of mind for
another year," said Ramirez.
Balmorhea man bitten by snake
BALMORHEA, April 10, 1998 - A Balmorhea man was bitten by an
unknown type of snake last night a little before 10 p.m.
According to Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Danny Reynolds,
James Boykin was cleaning fish in his back yard at Balmorhea
Lake when he was bitten.
Reynolds said that the snake could not be found, so he could
not tell what type of snake had bitten Boykin. There is no
doubt that the man was bitten by a snake though, Reynolds
said, "he had fang marks."
This morning, Boykin was listed in stable condition at
Reeves County Hospital.
Ornelas promoted to lieutenant
By CARA ALLIGOOD
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - Ramon Ornelas, who has been a lawman
for 23 years, was promoted from sergeant to the rank of
lieutenant Monday by Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney.
Ornelas began his career with the city as the animal control
officer, and has been a police sergeant for the past 15
years, he said. He is also a U.S. Army veteran who spent a
year-long tour of duty in Viet Nam. He received his Master
Peace Officer certification from the Texas Commission on Law
Enforcement Officer Standards and Education in August.
Ornelas has a wife, Felipa, and six children, Ramon, 26,
Jeremy, 22, Joseph, 21, Jacob, 15, Jason, 13, and Crystal,
11. He and his wife are proud of all of their children, and
he noted that Joseph is now in U.S. Army basic training at
Fort Jackson, S.C. He was born in Monahans and raised in
Ornelas has been in charge of the patrol division, which
consists of three sergeants and nine officers. He has also
been placed in charge of all dispatchers. Ornelas has
already been a shift supervisor, and the reserve officers
program, which has seven commissioned reserve officers.
"We have a lot of good officers. I'm proud of the police
department," Ornelas said.
Deliberations continue for R.O.T. members
DALLAS (AP) April 10, 1998 - Jurors who heard more than a
month of testimony against Texas separatists are now
deciding their guilt or innocence on charges they tried to
defraud banks, retailers and others of almost $2 billion.
Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren, his wife Evelyn
and seven followers are accused of federal conspiracy, bank
fraud, mail fraud and aiding and abetting.
Separatists who don't deny passing millions of dollars in
Republic "warrants" - documents that resemble checks - to
pay their bills starting in 1996 contend the claims were
backed by $80 billion in state assets.
McLaren, already serving a 99-year prison term for his role
in last year's kidnapping of a neighbor in the remote Davis
Mountains Resort, has testified Texas was improperly annexed
by the United States and its assets belong to an independent
McLaren's wife read a statement he wrote to jurors
Wednesday, warning them not to "trust the baby killers of
Waco," referring to the fiery 1993 siege in which Davidian
leader David Koresh and 80 followers died at Mount Carmel.
The Davis Mountains incident triggered a weeklong standoff
with 300 state troopers and Texas Rangers.
Prosecutors in final arguments Wednesday asked for nine
convictions in a "case of deception ... and dishonesty."
Jurors deliberated more than five hours before U.S. District
Judge A. Joe Fish dismissed them for the evening, ordering
them to return at 9 a.m. Friday.
Pecos man indicted for importing marijuana
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - A local man is among 12 defendants
indicted Thursday by the federal grand jury in Pecos.
Several others are residents of the area.
Tony Earl McGrew, 39, of 515 S. Elm St., is charged with
importing and possessing 159.08 pounds of marijuana on April
Melissa Moreno Pena, 27, of Kermit, is charged with
possession with intent to distribute 21.88 pounds of
marijuana on March 29.
Ivan Villalobos, 19, of Alpine, is charged with possession
with intent to distribute 26.25 pounds of marijuana on April
Celia Quintanilla Urias, 34, of Presidio, is charged with
possession with intent to distribute 48.50 pounds of
marijuana on April 8.
Martin Torres-Sanchez, 18, of Odessa, is charged with
possession with intent to distribute 61.12 pounds marijuana
on March 27.
Bertha Alicia Marquez, 39, of Odessa, is charged with
structuring currency importation to avoid reporting
requirements and with failure to file a currency importation
report on Oct. 3, 1997. She allegedly imported more than
$10,000 within one calendar day without making a report.
Two defendants who failed to show up for Senior Judge Lucius
Bunton's court this week are charged with failure to appear.
Warrants were issued for Luis Exiquio Carrillo, 18, of El
Paso, and Martin Gonzalez, 29, of Chihuahua, Mex.
Gilberto Minjares-Barrera, 32, of Chihuahua, Mex., is
charged with importing and possessing 761.8 pounds of
marijuana on March 23.
Jose Luis Contreras-Lara, 26, and Ezequiel Chavez-Salcido,
22, both of Mexico, are charged with importing and
possessing 62 pounds of marijuana on April 3.
Lorenzo Rojo-Aguilar, 25, of Porvenir, Mex., is charged with
illegal entry on March 25 after deportation subsequent to
conviction for an aggravated felony.
Commissioners meet Monday
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - The regular meeting of the Reeves
County Commissioners' Court will be held at 9:30 a.m.
Monday, April 13, in the third floor courtroom in the Reeves
There are 16 items on the agenda for are discussion and/or
action. Those items are: award of a bid for an industrial
loader backhoe; RCDC dayroom addition project -Application
for Payment #4 on RCDC dayroom addition project -Baynes
General Contractors, Inc.; RCDC dayroom addition project
-Proposal Request #1, 4, 5, and 8 and authorize them to be
incorporated into Change Order #2; declare RCDC unusable
equipment and tools as salvage/surplus; award bids for bunk
beds at RCDC; storage agreement between RCDC and Bell U
Storage; RCDC GED test administrator contract; update of
TCDP Housing Rehabilitation Contract #714160; Pecos
Petroleum Company regarding property for oil and gas lease;
bond and oath on Libby Horsburgh -County Auditor's office;
reports from various departments; budget amendments and
line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes (RCDC,
county library, County Judge, Sheriff's office, JDC);
minutes from previous meeting; and payment of semi-monthly
The meeting will also include an executive session for
discussion/action on personnel matters regarding Reeves
County Maintenance Services.
Spread on minutes will be notice of over-axle over -gross
weight permit; contract for chemical dependency counselor at
RCDC; agreement from DRG Architects for RCDC Support
Services Building; contract for collection of delinquent
taxes; agreement for mutual aid in disaster assistance; RCDC
Modification #15 of the statement of work; and continuing
education certificates: Bernardo Martinez, Felipe Arredondo,
Herman Tarin and Dianne O. Florez.
AREA NEWS ROUNDUP
April 10, 1998
The Fort Stockton Pioneer
FORT STOCKTON, Thursday, April 9, 1998 -The trial of Greg
and Karen Paulson, two members of the Republic of Texas
connected with the invasion of Joe and M.A. Rowe's home in
the Davis Mountain Resort, concluded late Friday afternoon.
After only 48 minutes of deliberation, the Pecos County jury
came back with a verdict of guilty on charges of burglary of
a habitation and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for
both Mr. and Mrs. Paulson. A concerted effort by local
promoters and government leaders has succeeded in bringing a
regional convention of county officials to Fort Stockton
according to Pecos County Judge Fredie Capers, who helped
direct and coordinate local effort.
The Alpine Avalanche
ALPINE, April 9, 1998 -The U.S. Senate approval last week of
the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact makes the
Sierra Blanca dump site one step nearer to becoming a
reality. A vote last year by the House of Representatives
went in favor of the compact which would allow Main and
Vermont to ship their waste to Texas in exchange for
payments of $25 million apiece. Now differences have to be
ironed out by a Senate-House conference committee. Then the
measure has to go to each body again before a final vote is
The Sanderson Times
SANDERSON, April 9, 1998 -In other columns of the Sanderson
Times, there is a notice of intention to conduct weather
modification operations in the state of Texas that is being
done by the Texas Border Weather Modification Association in
Del Rio. The purpose of the weather modification operation
is to increase rainfall and the operation will be from May
1, 1998 through April 30, 2002, and the proposed
cloud-seeding operation may be conducted at any time during
The McCamey News
McCAMEY, April 9, 1998 - Upton County Animal Control
officer, Kathleen Proffitt, informed the "News" that there
has been a confirmed case of rabies in McCamey. On Saturday,
March 28, animal control, responded to a report of a fox in
the yard of Maurine Jacobsen's residence on Shell Road. The
fox was killed and the remains sent to the Texas Department
of Health lab in Austin. The lab confirmed that the animal
Van Horn Advocate
VAN HORN AND CULBERSON COUNTY, April 9, 1998 - Van Horn City
Council members put their stamp of approve on final plans
for this year's Cinco de Mayo festival which is slated for
Saturday, May 2, during their meeting Tuesday evening.
Convention and Visitors Bureau staffers, Andrea Ramirez and
Sara Elms, appeared before council to present the plans and
final requests as final planning is underway for this year's
second annual event. Council approve the CVB staff applying
for a temporary permit to sell beer during the festival,
which will be held at Veteran's Memorial Park again this
year. It was learned that two beer distributing companies
are vying for the right to sponsor the event.
The Monahans News
MONAHANS, April 9, 1998 -Ward County Judge Sam G. Massey
read a six-minute ultimatum to the Board of Managers of
fiscally troubled Ward Memorial Hospital Tuesday. The focus
of his message: "I emphasize we all are going to live within
a real budget, avoid debt and live within our means. And if
that means cutbacks in staff, salaries and services, then so
PECOS, April 10, 1998 - High Thursday, 80, low this morning,
45. Pleasant weather is in store for all of Texas for the
Easter holiday weekend. The state's weather is expected to
remain under the influence of a high pressure system through
Sunday. It will be clear tonight and partly cloudy on
Saturday across West Texas, lows tonight will be in the 40s
and 50s, highs Saturday will be in the 70s and 80s except in
the Big Bend area of the Southwest where readings will be in
the lower 90s.
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