Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, July 9, 1998
Council OKs street fee
By GREG HARMAN
A shorthanded Pecos City Council wrestled with a street
closure ordinance and water matters at this morning's
meeting, before finally coming to decisions on both items.
With Mayor Pro Tem Danny Rodriguez and Councilman Ricky
Herrera in San Antonio attending an Hispanic leadership
conference, Mayor Dot Stafford and Councilmen Gerald Tellez,
Johnny Terrazas and Randy Graham haggled over what fee to
charge Pecos residents to close their streets for private
parties. They also discussed with Reeves County Commissioner
Herman Tarin the possibility of joining a new underground
water district that would include all or parts of four area
With Stafford bidding high ($500) and Terrazas bidding low
($200) on the street closing fee, the council settled with
Graham's middle figure of $300.
After the council approved two recent public street closures
-- one for a private party and one for a family reunion --
City Water Superintendent Octavio Garcia said he has heard
from as many as 12 people who wanted the same treatment.
"It's going to get bigger and bigger. I think it may become
a hazard for the Police Department just going to all these
areas," Garcia said.
Because of the potential costs involved in providing
additional police or emergency personnel to monitor such
events, Stafford said she felt that $500 would be a fair
fee. "Several families could go in together," she offered.
Terrazas disagreed, saying the fee too large. "I think that
is too steep to charge for barricades. I think we might have
a fee, maybe a flat fee, plus a charge for the barricades."
Two hundred dollars seemed more appropriate, he said.
But what no one had considered, said City Finance Director
Steve McCormick, was the city's open container law, which
forbids the consumption of alcohol on city streets and
sidewalks. The ordinance was added to the council's
resolution on street closures.
The council came close to lumping events such as Night In
Old Pecos and Cinco de Mayo with the private parties in the
resolution, but Garcia urged against it.
"Churches and volunteer organizations should be exempt," he
said, "The fiestas have been here for years and years, but
now the questions brought up are about private parties."
The council reworded the resolution to cover only private
parties, charging them a non-refundable fee of $300 for
street closure. Terrazas opposed the motion.
The council also approved a resolution to "study, support
and participate in the creation of an area underground water
district pursuant to Senate Bill 1." after hearing from
Tarin, commissioner for Precinct 3, and Trans-Pecos Cotton
Association Executive Director Bob Bickley about their
effort to secure local water rights.
Tarin opened by saying, "It is very important for our county
to form their own underground water district. Dealing with
water is difficult these days because there is not much (of
Tarin, speaking on behalf of Bickley, said that the water
district --- though the boundaries are far from final --
includes all of Reeves and Loving counties, along with
western Ward and northern Pecos counties.
"What it comes down to is another taxing entity," Tarin
said, "but, we must do something now before the state takes
Both men said it was the passage of Senate Bill 1 during the
1997 legislative session that challenged local districts to
take charge of their water supply, or face regulation by the
Another risk of not forming the underground water district,
they said, is the threat posed by thirsty major cities like
El Paso, which are known for their water grabbing policies
around Valentine and Van Horn. El Paso has bought land in
those areas and plans to pump out water under that land in
Councilman Graham voiced the most concern over supporting
the plan, asking both Tarin and Bickley whether area farmers
were supportive of the measure, how it would affect them,
how the initial board would be decided on and if forming a
district would make Reeves County more vulnerable to state
Bickley answered that farmers were overwhelmingly behind the
proposal and suggested that the initial board be made up of
representatives of each county in the water district.
Bickley furthered explained to the council that what is
being pursued would be a bare bones water district.
"We have been talking about this for years and years and
people have not been particularly interested, but the threat
of state control is what has motivated us," he said. "Water
districts come with voluminous duties, but it has never been
in any of our thinking to get into all of that. We only want
to do what we need to do."
He said that would include regulating the number of water
wells drilled and the spacing of those wells. According to
state requirements on underground water districts, those
duties would also include record keeping on all drilling,
equipping and well completions; all information on
groundwater resources being made available upon request to
the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission and
Texas Water Development Board; and the holding of regular,
quarterly board meetings.
The district would be funded by tax revenue, which Bickley
insisted would have a cap placed on it.
City Attorney Scott Johnson advised that SB 1 has the
capability of changing the common law rule of capture, and
urged Tarin and Bickley: "When the district if created,
please try to get the city water fills into the district.
That has the highest capacity of water production in the
area." To include these areas would mean expanding the
boundary farther east and south than previously considered.
Graham asked if the new water district would affect Madera
Valley Water Supply Company. Bickley answered that it would
have "no effect on them at all."
"You have to know this above all else," said Bickley,
"you've got the biggest part of the vote. If you want the
city left out, that can be done, but I doubt that we could
generate the money to run the district (without Pecos)."
A meeting to draft the boundaries of the district has been
scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at the Texas
Agricultural Experiment Station.
Earlier in the meeting Stafford encouraged Garcia to inform
Tarin of strange discoveries in the city sewer and
relay recent complaints from Reeves County Detention Center
(RCDC) over problems with the water pressure.
In the city sewers, Garcia said, "We have been getting
a lot of paper cups, uniforms, even some blankets" from the
RCDC. "How they got in there, I don't know. Now we have a
vacuum truck that does a real good job, but it's still
giving us problems. We get pants, shirts, we get underwear.
We get everything."
Tarin offered to look into the matter.
Also, Garcia said, the water department is still receiving
complaints from RCDC about low water pressure. "It's very
hot and people have really been using water," he said.
Tarin answered that he would investigate, and offered that
the facilities expansion in inmates could be putting a
strain on the water.
County Judge Jimmy Galindo approached the city council
several months ago, council members noted, to offer
providing the materials to replace the six-inch water line
leading to RCDC with 12-inch line, thus resolving any water
pressure problems, if the city would provide the labor. But,
as was also noted at today's meeting, that conversation was
never followed up on.
Following an executive session, Garcia was named assistant
city manager. This non-paying position was created so that
someone could handle situations when City Manager Kenneth
Neal is sick or out of town.
"Everybody has their wish list," said Neal. "I told them if
they could work this out it would free me up to work on
these grants more."
Chief of Police Clay McKinney, having completed his six
month review period, was granted a $2,000 raise - from
$33,000 to $35,000.
Classic adding three channels
By ROSIE FLORES
Cable television subscribers in Pecos will be paying a
little bit more for the privilege due to rising costs in
products and services, a company spokesman said Wednesday.
"There are a lot of reasons, such as operating costs and
program fees," said Classic's regional manager Gil Nichols
for the increase in basic cable rates, which will go from
$24.95 to $27.95 per month. (See correction)
"This is something we didn't want to have to do, is raise
the rates," said Nichols. But the costs of highly-rated
quality cable network services such as such as ESPN, WTBS,
Disney continue to significantly increase, according to
According to Nichols, Classic Cable works hard to provide
cable television service at the most reasonable rates
possible, while at the same time delivering the quality
programming and services that the customers expect.
"This is something we strive for," he said.
"These networks (the fees charged to cable systems) have
been tremendously high and this is a normal increase in
operating costs," he explained. "We don't like to do this,
but to continue to provide the best service possible, it's
something that will have to be done," he said.
At the same time the increase was announced to local
subscribers, Classic Cable announced three other channels
will be added to the basic lineup: Animal Planet, Sci-Fi
Channel, and CBS Eye on People. They join Fox News, which
was added to the local cable system three months ago.
"We want to continue to provide quality service and since
1997 have installed a call service, which is open 24-hours,"
By calling this service number (1-800-999-8876) cable
subscribers can talk to an individual at any time instead of
talking to a computer, according to Nichols.
Classic Cable purchased cable systems in Pecos, Barstow,
Monahans, Kermit and Crane from United Video Cablevision in
1993. The Plainville, Kansas-based company operates systems
in eight states.
"There are 300 communities, with about 163,000 subscribers
and Pecos is one of the largest towns we provide service
to," said Nichols. "We pride ourselves in providing
excellent services to communities such as Pecos," he said.
Nichols stated that Pecos has a great staff and that they
are there to help everyone. "Pecos has an excellent staff,
we're very proud of them and everyone of them is there to
help," he said.
Nichols said Classic Cable remains committed to supporting
local education initiatives such as the Classic Scholarship
program for graduating high school seniors within our
service area. "We encourage all students to apply for these
scholarships," said Nichols.
Tears, `shaky' defense fail for pair
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
Federal court jurors discounted tears and a plea that
61-year-old Lucila Dominguez of Cuauhtemoc, Mex. was duped
into importing marijuana, convicting her and her 83-year-old
co-defendant Tuesday on two counts each.
Dominguez and Carlos Solis-Calmenero were arrested April 10
at the Presidio Port of Entry after inspectors found 148
pounds of marijuana in the gas tank of the car he was
Dominguez admitted she knew the marijuana was in the gas
tank, agents testified. Dominguez said she overheard several
men talking about it, and that she was to be paid $800.
Dominguez' defense attorney, Frank Brown, got into a scrap
with Solis' attorney, Paul Escobar. during final arguments,
when Brown accused Solis of duping Dominguez into making the
trip with him.
Solis had been arrested twice in 1997 on similar charges,
once at Sierra Blanca and once in Las Cruces, N.M. He was
traveling with different women on those trips. The Sierra
Blanca charge was dismissed because Solis was a passenger in
the car, but he failed to appear for court on the New Mexico
charges, and they are still pending.
Escobar questioned inspectors' right to search the car at
the POE, since their suspicions were based on his client's
"Elderly people shake because of a medical condition or just
plain nervousness around law enforcement officers," Escobar
said. "My client never admitted to knowing marijuana was in
the gas tank. They used a K-9 to smell the car, and he
didn't hit, but that didn't satisfy them."
Solis did give a statement admitting his guilt, but it may
have been done out of fear or "just because of the promises"
of leniency, Escobar said.
"My client is innocent. He didn't testify, but he told the
first agent he borrowed the car to do shopping on this side
of the border," he said.
Brown admitted that Dominguez made a mistake when she failed
to report the conversation she overheard to law enforcement
"This was a hard decision for my client to make..." he said.
Dominguez sat with head bowed, tears in her eyes and
apparently praying as Brown argued on her behalf.
In his closing argument, government prosecutor Tom McHugh of
San Antonio said that nobody was duped.
"Both defendants knowingly imported marijuana through the
port of entry," he said.
"They want to make a big deal that the K-9 doesn't smell the
marijuana. You know they have loaded with 148 pounds in the
gas tank. They are good marijuana traffickers because the
bad ones are going to have it in a suitcase in the
trunk...Don't let these tears excuse what happened in April."
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton set sentencing for Sept. 21.
Worker critcally burned in Hobb fire
HOBBS, N.M. (AP) -- A pipeline worker suffered third-degree burns over much of his body when a natural gas fire erupted while he was doing routine maintenance on a pipeline
The blaze Wednesday morning was essentially out by noon, but
the ground remained so hot hours later ``that you can't walk
on it,'' said Fire Department Lt. Ray DuPlessis.
That stalled the investigation into the cause of the fire.
Ray Nofess, 46, of Hobbs was taken to University Medical
Center in Lubbock, Texas, where he was listed in critical
condition this morning with burns over 68 percent of his
The fire, fed by an 8-inch gas line at the metering station,
was so hot that firefighters responding to the call about
9:30 a.m. had to back up half a mile, DuPlessis said.
He said the blaze sent flames shooting 50 to 60 feet into
the air and forced authorities to close part of U.S. 62-180
west of Hobbs for several hours. Two lanes of the four-lane
highway were reopened at noon, allowing two-way traffic on
that half of the highway; the other half reopened at 3 p.m.
The fire occurred in a field across the highway from the GPM
Linam Ranch natural gas plant.
Crews closed the valves feeding the lines, shutting off the
fuel for the flames, DuPlessis said. But he said it took a
while for the fire to go out because of the size of the
``Something like that you just can't put out. There's not
enough water in the world,'' he said.
The pipeline supplies two Hobbs-area power plants owned by
Southwest Public Service Co. SPS and Lubbock Power and Light
asked customers to use as little electricity as possible.
SPS, based in Amarillo, Texas, serves much of northwest
Texas and parts of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New
Mexico. Lubbock P&L serves the West Texas city and its
``The fire temporarily reduced the amount of electricity we
can produce,'' James Brannen, a spokesman for SPS, said
Wednesday. ``This coupled with the hot weather is making it
necessary for our customers to conserve energy.
'' We're asking for them to avoid using clothes dryers
between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., turn off unnecessary lights and
avoid using electric equipment,'' he said.
Authorities said there were no black outs or brown outs
associated with their request. They expected the situation
to be back to normal by today.
Directors pacts, taxes on agenda
EDITOR'S NOTE: The continuation of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah
school board advance story was inadvertently left out of
Wednesday's Enterprise. THe entire story is reprinted below.
Contracts and salaries for the Pecos High School head band
director and for middle school band directors will be
discussed at the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board
meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., today.
The group will meet at the board room, 1304 S. Park St., to
discuss an agenda filled with important items.
Board members will discuss and approve the high school,
middle school and elementary handbooks and Student Code of
Conduct for the 1998-99 school year. They will also approve
a Records Management Officer, discuss a gifted/talented
cooperative with Region 18 Education Service Center. and
review bids for fuel, milk and bread.
Other items on the agenda include:
* Discuss/approve records retention plan.
* Discuss/approve 1997-98 budget amendments.
* Discuss/approve adoption of TASB Tax Anticipation Note
(TAN) resolution authorizing the district to issue a tax and
revenue anticipation note pursuant to the 1998 program.
* Discuss/approve appointing office to calculate effective
tax and rollback tax rate.
* Set schedule for setting tax rate.
* Discuss/approve status of warehouse at Second and Ash
Streets Lots 1 to 5, Block 5 original.
* Discuss/approve elimination of employee life insurance
covered by New Era.
* Consideration and possible action on DKT#143-TTC-698,
* Discuss/approve professional personnel appointments,
resignations, retirements and reassignments.
* Investment transaction report.
* Reconciled bank balance report.
* Depository securities report.
* Tax report.
* Approve payment of current bills and financial report.
The group will also meet in closed session to discuss
personnel or hear complaints against personnel.
No early break seen in Texas' summer
From Staff and Wire Reports
Texas' long, hot summer is straining city-dwellers' air
conditioners, electric bills and patience while farmers and
ranchers anxiously scan the sky for drought-breaking rain.
Don't expect much relief until September, weather
Pecos residents have been dealing with the hot weather for
over a month now. It began in late May and peaked in the
final week of June, when temperatures surpassed 110 degrees.
Cloudy skies helped cool things off somewhat during rodeo
week, but after rains on Monday, temperatures began to rise
again on Tuesday, and Wednesday's high in Pecos reached 105.
More sunshine and oppressive heat are in the forecast for
today, but rain could provide temporary relief in some parts
of Texas. Storms did build up over the Davis and Baylor
Mountains west of Pecos early Wednesday afternoon, but
dissipated before they could reach town.
Electricity usage across Texas is already breaking summer
records that don't usually fall until August.
Two records were set Tuesday in Texas Utilities Electric
Co.'s system, where usage peaked at approximately 20.85
million kilowatts and customers also pulled an all-time load
over a 24-hour period.
Before the peak at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the previous record was
20.35 million kilowatts, set Aug. 20.
In the 24-hour period Tuesday, TU Electric customers used
401.36 million kilowatt hours. The previous record of 394.83
million kilowatt hours was set July 1, 1998.
A kilowatt is equivalent to the power drawn by 100 100-watt
light bulbs. The average residential demand is about 8,000
kilowatts a month.
``Usually in the past whenever we set a record, it has been
a small decimal point forward,'' Chris Schein, spokesman for
Texas Utilities, said Wednesday. ``Yesterday, it was a half
With a 20 percent increase in electrical demand this summer,
TU Electric says 15 percent of that is from hotter
temperatures. The rest is due to overall growth.
Some 70 daily temperature records were broken last month
Along with high temperatures come higher electric bills. TU
Electric said Texans will save almost $200 over the summer
months if they set their thermostats at 78 degrees instead
``Obviously, when you have temperatures this high, people
will see an increase in their electric bill sooner than when
they usually see it in the summer,'' Schein said.
The tinder-dry vegetation in many parts of Texas has
contributed to more then 4,600 fires burning approximately
Dryland crops, including the cotton mainstay, are especially
hard-hit. That could prompt farmers to move toward more
drought-resistant crops, added Robert Morgan, of the
department of agronomy and resource sciences at A&M
Through June, temperature records were unofficially broken
in Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Brownsville, College Station,
Corpus Christi, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio and
seven other Texas cities.
The relentless heat will remain until a high pressure system
moves out of the area, said Joe Harris, National Weather
Service meteorologist in Fort Worth.
``I anticipate it staying here through August,'' said
Harris. ``There may brief periodic relief, but it is a
normal summertime feature.''
Weather experts said the Bermuda High, the subtropical high
pressure system that normally sits over the southeastern
United States, has contributed to the hotter weather.
Harris said the system that usually builds westward during
the summer months has already pushed its way all the way
over Texas and its center is now over Texas.
Professor James Norwine of the department of geosciences at
Texas A&M University at Kingsville, said Texas' location
also has a role in the heat wave. Gerald North, head of the
Texas A&M meteorology department, said the El Nino weather
phenomenon is another factor.
North and Norwine said global warming will cause more rains
but the rate of evaporation also would increase, making the
climate more dry.
So far this year, Texas farmers are estimated to have lost
more than $500 million. The state has lost more than $1.8
billion in economic activity because of crop losses.
``We are looking at a very serious situation when it comes
to the dryland crop,'' said Beverly Boyd of the Texas
Department of Agriculture.
In a story Wednesday on the proposed low level nuclear waste
dump in Hudspeth County, the location of the 1995 earthquake
was incorrectly given as between Alpine and Marfa. The
epicenter of the quake was between Alpine and Marathon.
High Wednesday 105. Low this morning 75. Forecast for
tonight: Clear. Low 70 75. Southeast wind 5-10 mph. Friday,
mostly sunny. High near 105. South wind 10-20 mph.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise