Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Wednesday, July 29, 1998
Current, future water shortages discussed
Gramm aide receives briefing on area's drought
By ROSIE FLORES
Rain dances, low-interest loans and disaster relief loans
were suggestions made at this morning's meeting to Margarita
Velez, a senior staff member in U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm's El
Velez is in Pecos as part of a program Gramm is initiating.
The three-term Republican is sending a team of senior staff
members on a drought damage assessment tour of Texas, to
meet with local officials and hear their concerns and input
about the deepening drought and water shortages that have
developed this summer.
"Basically I'm here to meet with everyone, listen to their
concerns and suggestions and take them back to Sen. Gramm,"
said Velez. "Maybe we can all pull together and somehow find
a solution to this ongoing problem."
Velez met with a small group at the Texas-New Mexico Power
Co. office on Stafford Boulevard, and was also scheduled to
speak at the Lion's Club noon meeting at Quality Inn. She
was also a guest speaker on KIUN's Pecos Talking.
Velez said one of the suggestions involved the direct
assistance program, which was implemented in 1995. "If that
could be revived, it would also help the farmers and
ranchers," she said.
This program provides direct paying loans from the federal
government -- something like foreign aid, according to Velez.
"But more than anything we need rain," she said. "And I
don't think I know how to do the rain dance properly," Velez
Another point which was discussed at this morning's meeting
was the fact that this isn't the first drought in the Pecos
area, but is the seventh year the conditions have been this
bleak. The city has received just 1.01 inches of rain
through the first seven months of this year, and has not had
any years with well above average rainfall since 1990-91.
"This is nothing new to this area, but is something new to
other parts of Texas, where they aren't used to these
conditions," said Velez. "We have acknowledged that the
drought is certainly and on-going problem and solutions are
now being sought."
Loans from the federal government were one solution to the
problem, but those farmers and ranchers don't need any more
loans since they are already heavily indebted, according to
"The just can't afford any more loans and this is happening
throughout the state," she said.
The price of cattle is low right now, but one of the
comments made at the meeting was that in 1995 cattle was
also low, but the producer was paying the same price. The
retailer was getting the same, so somebody in the middle was
making a profit.
"Somebody is certainly cashing in," she said.
Another item mentioned at the meeting is that farmers and
ranchers provide what opportunities there are. "If the
drought continues farmers and ranchers will no longer be
around and the need for an auto parts store or other such
stores will no longer be there," she said.
Pecos has been real resilient so far throughout the years,
but other areas have really suffered. "Somehow Pecos has
held on and somehow bounced back, but if this drought
continues we just don't know what will happen," said Velez.
The best thing to do at this time is to pray for rain and
hope loans will help the situation, she said.
The Senate recently approved a Gramm resolution urging the
U.S. Department of Agriculture to streamline the drought
declaration process and make sure Farm Service Agencies have
sufficient personnel to deal with the expected volume of
Gramm, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, praised
the vote, "Senators who are working on the agriculture
appropriations bill have recognized that the drought which
is ravaging Texas will require rapid response," he said.
Water district could include eight counties
By JON FULBRIGHT
A proposed underground water district for Reeves County
could be expanded to include all or parts of seven other
counties, following discussions between farmers and area
officials Tuesday at the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment
Station west of Pecos.
The meeting was organized by the Trans-Pecos Cotton Growers
Association, following a discussion in April with State Rep.
Gary Walker about forming the district.
The passage of Senate Bill 1 in 1997, and the creation
earlier this year of regional water planning boards has made
it imperative that action is taken to maintain local control
over underground water supplies, said Reeves County farmer
"Farmers and ranchers have been at odds in the past, but I
think now we all realize we're on the same side," Turnbough
said. "We don't want to regulate it, we just want local
control so the state doesn't regulate it.
"If you don't have a water board by a certain date (in
2001), the state can intervene to create a district and
operate it from Austin if it's not done locally," Turnbough
The main focus of the meeting was the possible combination
of surrounding counties into a single underground water
district. Officials from Loving County and Pecos County were
at the meeting, and it was agreed to send out letters or
talk to others in Ward, Jeff Davis, Terrell, Brewster and
Winkler counties about attending another meeting sometime in
Bill Moody, who represented Pecos County at the meeting,
wanted to make sure the counties that make up the Pecos
River basin were included. "Everyone knows no flood water
goes past the Pecos River," he said. "If you're going to do
this ... Reeves County, Loving County, Brewster County,
Pecos County, Terrell County and Jeff Davis county should be
in one accord."
Turnbough said Jeff Davis County already has its own
county-funded underground water district, though he added
the money it operates on is below what Walker said is needed
for normal operations.
"We could just annex onto their district, but I don't think
we would want to go by their by-laws," he said. Walker,
District 80 representative who also runs the Sandyland
Underground Water District in Plains, told local officials
that a fully-functioning water district would need an annual
budget of between $65,000 and $100,000 for office space, a
district manager, and a district vehicle.
"Gary Walker said he is willing to take the legislation. We
just need to set the boundaries and name board members to
draw up the bylaws sometime by December 1 so he can write it
up for the next session of the Texas Legislature," Turnbough
The board members would set the bylaws and call for the
election, which could be held in the late summer or fall of
1999, if a bill is approved during next spring's session of
The boundaries could include all or parts of the counties,
so long as they are contiguous. But questions were raised
about whether or not the cities within each county should be
included, or if people in eastern Ward County would want to
join the district.
"Gary said a larger district is more advantageous in the
long run. He said one district has up to 15 counties in it,"
Turnbough said. "If Reeves County is the only county and the
city of Pecos is included, Pecos will decide the vote. The
same thing with Pecos County and Fort Stockton."
The concern there was over the tax rate any underground
water district would assess.
"The district can cap the maximum amount is can set the tax
rate. With a larger district, you can go with one cent (per
$100 valuation) or even a half-cent. If it's just rural
Reeves County, you would have to set it at about five cents,
which would make it harder to pass," said Turnbough. "I
don't want to take a chance on the city killing this thing,
because it won't benefit them that much."
Ava Gerke, who has farmland in Ward County, explained to the
group that Senate Bill 1 was designed to assure
municipalities of a guaranteed water supply in the future.
So while cities such as Pecos and Fort Stockton get their
water from out-of-county underground wells, the bill would
make sure they would have some water source in the future.
"The people in Monahans are not concerned about water
because Senate Bill 1 assures municipalities they'll have a
water supply," she said, adding she had talked with Ward
County commissioners, who said ranchers in that county
remain opposed to an underground water district.
"They said they didn't think they would even do enough
pumping, and they didn't want the tax to go with it," she
said, though it was pointed out Ward County ranchers could
have to get approval from state officials in Austin for
drilling any future wells if they do not create a district.
Jeff Davis County's underground water district was formed as
a reaction to the city of El Paso's purchase of Antelope
Valley land and the underground water rights for future
pumping purposes. "It's too late for them, but not too late
for us. We can prevent taking water out of the county, or at
least we can limit it," Turnbough said.
Sections of Ward County, in the Barstow and Pyote areas,
could be put in the district, if landowners and residents
there approve, Turnbough said.
The inclusion of Winkler County was made at the request of
Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford and former councilman
Dr. Elvia Reynolds, who were at the meeting. City officials
were also told their current water field sites in Reeves and
Ward County would remain under their control, even with the
creation of a district.
"Nobody can take any existing well away from you," said
Pecos County farmer Dennis Braden. "If the city of Pecos
went over there (in Ward County) and drilled a new well
after the district was formed, they can regulate how much
you can pump."
Under the rules, new wells would have to be allowed to pump
at the same rate as the maximum allowed other pumpers within
the district. However, Turnbough said the amount of water
removed from the district could be limited, if cities such
as El Paso or Midland were to try and pump water from land
they own within the district to their own counties.
Braden said it would help if Walker could attend the next
meeting, and Tom Cordova, representing Fort Stockton, asked
if Walker could attach other counties to the district.
Turnbough said it would be easier for either the adjacent
counties or individual farmers bordering the district to
later petition for annexation from the underground water
district board. And while questions remain over the
participation of Terrell, Brewster, Ward and Winkler
counties, Reeves County Commissioner Herman Tarin said
county officials, along with city officials in Pecos, Toyah
and Balmorhea, had already voiced their support for the plan.
"In your (Reeves County's) position, you just need to go
ahead and see if we can tag along," Moody said.
"I'm 77 years old, and I've lived in Fort Stockton all my
life, and for the first time, I'm scared," he said. "I saw
the (Comanche) Springs dry up, and if they can pump out the
water to do that, they can pump it across the Pecos River."
Driver killed after truck crushes pickup
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
A Lovington, N.M. man was killed Tuesday and his passenger
injured when a passing truck struck their pickup and small
trailer near milepost 56 on Interstate 20, east of Barstow.
Porfirio C. Munoz, 48, was driving the 1984 Mazda pickup and
towing a small trailer as he and Anita Tijarena, 50,
As three truck-tractors towing semi-trailers approached the
Mazda in tamdem, the first truck passed safely, but the
second failed to see the pickup and "ran right over the top"
of it, said DPS Trooper Darren Storer of Monahans, who
A passing motorist said the victims' vehicles were
demolished, and it was impossible to tell how many or what
type vehicles they were.
Porfirio Munoz was killed instantly, while Anita Munoz was
taken to Odessa Medical Center, where she was listed in fair
condition this morning.
The truck driver, Henry Delatorre, 37, of El Paso, was
taken to Reeves County Hospital, where he was treated and
Glickman briefed on crop insruance woes
By CURT ANDERSON
AP Farm Writer
COLLEGE STATION -- David Schertz bought a basic crop
insurance policy for his 2,500-acre farm, but the persistent
drought is destroying not only his sorghum but any chance
the policy will cover the losses.
``It's a minimal insurance,'' Schertz, 31, said Tuesday at
his North Texas spread as temperatures topped 100 degrees
once again and there wasn't even a rumor of rain. ``You can
buy up more insurance, but you're talking about a lot of
expense there. I think they need to work on it.''
When the Republican-led Congress passed the ``Freedom to
Farm'' law in 1996, lawmakers ended traditional disaster
programs in favor of crop insurance. But the Southern
drought and chronic wet weather in the Upper Plains has left
thousands of farmers unable to get adequate coverage and
teetering on the edge of financial ruin.
``This is the greatest failure of American agriculture --
that we do not have a safety net,'' said Agriculture
Secretary Dan Glickman, who is on a two-day tour of Oklahoma
and Texas. ``It's tragic to see what's happened to the
farmer because of a natural disaster.''
Glickman, who planned a discussion today at Texas A&M
University on long-term solutions to the safety net dilemma,
said in an interview that the Clinton administration would
make a major push early next year to overhaul the crop
Among the proposals under consideration: removal of
penalties for farmers suffering repeated natural disasters;
allowing coverage for farmers trying a new crop; and
increasing coverage for livestock.
``We can make sure people don't go out of business because
of circumstances beyond their control,'' Glickman said.
Driving across Oklahoma and Texas, the magnitude of the
drought is evident as farmers plow under brown, brittle corn
and cotton crops and haul out winter hay stocks to feed
cattle. State officials estimate total agriculture-related
losses in the two states at $6.6 billion and climbing.
Many cattle producers in these key beef states are selling
off herds because they can't afford to feed them, further
depressing already low prices. The Oklahoma City stockyards
last week auctioned off 14,000 head on a single day,
compared with 6,800 the same time a year ago.
``If things don't change, I'll venture to say there's a good
percentage of farmers who won't be here,'' said Jim Roberts,
62, who raises crops and cattle in McClain County, Okla.
Drought is also causing significant losses in Georgia,
Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina, while depressed
exports and huge worldwide grain stocks are slashing prices
and reducing farm income overall.
The current farm law allows precious little federal help.
``There is a limit to what I can do,'' Glickman
For example, Texas and most of Oklahoma have been declared
federal disaster areas, entitling farmers to low-interest
loans. But they have to demonstrate 30 percent loss in row
crops and must be turned down by two other lenders before
they can qualify. People who once had a government loan
written down in the past cannot qualify at all.
Glickman visited the cattle ranch of Harold ``Tooter''
Pruett in Decatur, Texas, to announce some short-term relief
for livestock producers. Ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma and New
Mexico who are already grazing their animals on land
reserved under the federal conservation reserve program can
leave the animals there for an additional two months, until
In Washington, the Senate has voted for $500 million in
emergency farm aid, but half of that is headed for the Upper
Midwest where excessive moisture and wheat disease have
triggered steep losses. Glickman said that number will have
to be raised to cover all losses, perhaps up to nearly $1
billion, when a compromise emerges from Senate-House
Some of that money would go to farmers who have suffered
losses in three of the past five years and to replenish a
now-exhausted program that helps livestock producers buy
feed and recover from deaths of animals.
Machines strained by Powerball sales
By DENISE LAVOIE
Associated Press Writer
GREENWICH, Conn. -- Businesses under siege from would-be
Powerball millionaires got another headache today: Lottery
machines around the state were not working this morning as
the drawing for the record $250 million jackpot approached.
Most machines were back up and running as of midmorning, but
not before already-huge lines swelled at supermarkets and
convenience stores and people on both sides of the counter
``I really don't need this. This is totally, totally
ridiculous,'' said Anita Parone, a clerk at a Grand Union
supermarket in Stamford, who said early today that there
were about 30 people in her store and they were getting
With the record prize up for grabs at tonight's drawing,
many felt waiting was a good investment.
``I figured sooner or later they'd come back up,'' said
Curtis Wade, a disc jockey from the Bronx, N.Y., who waited
along with 150 others outside a cigar store in Greenwich.
``A dollar and a dream -- that's what it's all about.''
The problem apparently started when the system was shut down
as usual Tuesday night before the state lottery drawing. The
lottery computer stops accepting bets a few moments before
the drawing to prevent cheating, said Laura Gibbs,
spokeswoman for the Connecticut Lottery Corp.
``I believe it never came up from last night,'' Gibbs said.
``It's just because the system is absolutely overloaded.''
The problem was confined to Connecticut, as computers for
the Powerball lotteries in various states are not
Dave Wilson, manager of a Dahl's Foods grocery store in Des
Moines, Iowa, the city where Powerball is based, said all
his machines are just fine.
``Ours are running just smoothly. Every lotto machines has
its problems, but so far, so good. With this much activity,
it could drop them down. It's like any machine if you
overload it, especially with a $250 million jackpot.''
On Tuesday, the Connecticut Lottery Corp. reported the
lottery computers were handling more than 15,000 wagers a
minute; Powerball officials said Connecticut was the busiest
Powerball state in the nation, with sales on Sunday and
Monday topping $14 million.
A single winner in tonight's drawing could win $10 million a
year for the next 25 years, before taxes, or a lump-sum
payment of $137 million. The odds of picking the right
numbers are 80.1 million to one.
In the posh Greenwich shopping district, not everyone is
happy to see the outsiders.
``It's been just a horror,'' said Pam Olsey, the owner of an
interior design business on trendy Greenwich Avenue.
``When we get here in the morning, there is no place for my
employees to park and (the crowds) really stop people from
coming to the store. Everyone who is a shopkeeper is
Nick Kurji stopped selling Powerball tickets at his variety
store last week after he was cursed at and even threatened
by some ticket-buyers. He said he won't miss the $2,000 a
day he made at 5 cents for each Powerball ticket.
``I want peace,'' he said. ``The money is not worth it.''
The current jackpot has easily surpassed the $195 million
Powerball jackpot won May 20 by an Illinois couple that set
a U.S. lottery record.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia sell Powerball
tickets. In densely populated New England, only Connecticut,
Rhode Island and New Hampshire participate.
Greenwich has been busy.
State troopers have been stationed to keep order in lines of
500 people waiting up to 10 hours. At one Greenwich exit
near the state line, more than 150 people left their cars on
the highway shoulder and grass to walk to a rest area
Things were more peaceable in the Midwest, where Iowa
merchants say ticket-buyers have waited patiently in line.
``They're not at all crabby,'' said Trista Shannon, a
cashier at a Dahl's Foods in Des Moines. ``But sometimes
they're misinformed on what to do. They don't know about
cash vs. annuities or how to fill out the play sheet. I
guess they've got to figure it out sometime.''
Buyers in Portland, Ore., sweated out temperatures in the
high 90s as they filed into convenience stores Tuesday.
Adam Bell, a lawyer, bought five tickets for himself and
five for his parents and in-laws in California. Like many
other part-time Powerballers, he plays only when the
jackpots get huge.
``I'm a patent lawyer. I'm supposed to be rational, but
...,'' Bell said with a shrug.
Weevil eradication zone draws no protests
A hearing Tuesday on a planned boll weevil eradication zone
for the Trans-Pecos and El Paso areas drew no opposition
during hearings in El Paso and Pecos on Tuesday.
Dolores Alvarado Hibbs, deputy general council for the Texas
Department of Agriculture, was in El Paso Tuesday morning
and at the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station west of
Pecos in the afternoon for the hearings on the creation of a
zone, which would include about 15 counties stretching from
the Del Rio area to El Paso.
About 20 people attended the Pecos meeting, but Ms. Hibbs
said "We didn't have anybody who wanted to make any
She said in El Paso, "There were some who spoke generally in
favor of it, and this group is basically the same thing."
The public comment period on the plan runs through next
Sunday, Aug. 2. Comments by mail should be sent to Katie
Dickie Stavinoha, Special Assistant for Producer Relations
at the Texas Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 12847,
Austin, Tx., 78711.
"This is just the beginning of the process," said Ms. Hibbs.
"Once the rule is adopted, then the real work get started."
She said the zone's interim board would then decide on what
assessment gotten growers within the region would be given.
"The earliest possible date the rule could become a
regulation is Aug. 24," she said. A referendum vote could
follow in the next 60 to 90 days, and the zone could be in
operation in time for the 1999 cotton growing season.
Parents offered previews of educational films
By GREG HARMAN
Parents interested in previewing films and audio-visual
materials that will be shown to students in the
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District this year
will get a chance this Friday -- or may schedule their own
day with school district representatives.
Region 18 Media Supervisor Pam Winn said that parents are
often concerned about what is included in videos on
potentially controversial topics such as sexual harassment,
drug abuse and health issues.
Pre-viewing is offered, said Winn, "so that parents and
anybody else can come in and preview titles on our shelves
because they are the ones being shown in the classroom for
Five days of advance notice are generally needed to secure a
tape copy for viewing, but during the summer months there is
a better chance they will be on the shelves.
Interested adults should call Winn at (915) 567-3260 to make
their requests. Thursday has been set aside as a review
session from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Region 18's Service
Center is located at 2811 LaForce Blvd., at Midland
Seizure of cash sought after $31,000 discovery
District Attorney Randy Reynolds has filed notice of seizure
and intent to forfeit $31,000 taken from two men last week
in a traffic stop by Reeves County Sheriff's Deputy Jesse
Franco seized the money because he believed it was derived
from or used in connection with a drug transaction. He
arrested Johnny Boyce and Ivan Cruz, and notice of the
forfeiture petition were sent to them at the Reeves County
AREA NEWS ROUNDUP
The Big Bend Sentinel
MARFA, July 23, 1998 -- Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio
Counties and the Big Bend Regional Hospital District will
share in the proceeds of the state's proposed settlement
with the tobacco industry. In information disseminated to
county and hospital district officials last week, the state
will receive a total of $2.2 billion. Of this amount, about
$450 million will be paid to local government entities in
lump sum payments during January 1999, 2000 and 2001.
PRESIDIO, July 23, 1998 -- A young married couple was found
dead last week and it is believed they died from carbon
monoxide poisoning caused by a defective water pump in a
water well. The bodies of Enrique Armendariz Garcia, 32, and
his wife Meyma Armendariz Armendariz, 24, were found a week
ago Tuesday after their 20-month-old baby boy was found by a
person who was driving near Rancho El Toro where the couple
lived. The ranch is near the community of Maijoma about 50
miles south of Ojinaga. According to investigations by the
Ojinaga Police, it is believed that on Monday of last week
the couple and their child went to the water well where
Enrique proceeded to work on repairing the submersible water
pump which was malfunctioning. Everything indicates that
carbon monoxide from the pump caused Enrique to faint and
when the wife realized what had happened she too descended
to try and help him. The wife was found near her husbands
body. The small child was found wandering around and was
taken to his uncle's home.
The McCamey News
McCAMEY, July 23, 1998 -- Stephen Wade and his new bride,
Randye, who were passengers aboard the Carnival Cruise Line
Ship, Ecstasy, on their honeymoon escaped a fire on the ship
Monday, July 20. The fire started in the crew's laundry room
and quickly became a major event with large flames coming
from the rear of the ship. The passengers were quickly moved
to the front upper levels of the ship away from the fire.
The couple was given a room at the Miami Hilton, reimbursed
the cost of the cruise and were offered another cruise in
SANDERSON, July 23, 1998 -- Sanderson, like many places in
Texas, has not been exempt from 100 plus thermometer
readings this summer. The first five days of June had
temperature readings of 102, 103, 105, 106, 101.
Van Horn Advocate
VAN HORN, July 23 -- Representatives from Duncan Disposal,
the city garbage collection contractor, were on hand at
Tuesday's meeting of the City Council to assure them that
they are working diligently to improve the quality of trash
collection services here. In particular, they reported that
recycling containers are now being placed in areas of town
which have high density cardboard refuse.
IRAAN, July 23 -- Iraan's own Brian Mecham will be
participating in the Southwestern Bell Texas High School
Coaches Association (THSCA) All-Star Football Game at Rice
Stadium in Houston, Tuesday, July 28. Ten thousand high
school coaches will converge in Houston for the annual THSCA
coaching school and conference.
MONAHANS, July 23, 1998 -- TU Electric Co. will pay a total
of about $150,000 less in Ward County and
Monahans-Wickett-Pyote school district property taxes this
year on the combustion turbines at the TU Permian Power
Plant complex west of Monahans. The figure contrasts sharply
with the about $1 million less TU had sought in a tax
High Tuesday 101. Low this morning 74. Forecast for tonight:
Fair. Low 70 75. South wind 5-15 mph. Thursday, mostly
sunny. High around 100. 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
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise