December 15, 1998
Red Bluff OKs $1 million dam rehabBy JON FULBRIGHT
Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members bit the bullet on Monday, agreeing to spend over $1 million for a long-delayed rehabilitation project on Red Bluff Dam's outlet controls, after the only remaining water tunnel was briefly stuck shut last month.
Board members voted unanimously to undertake the two-year project following a presentation from Richard Shoemaker Ted Campbell of HDR Engineering, which had originally conducted a study of the dam's outflow gates in 1996.
"We've been putting this off for 20 or 30 years," said Red Bluff board president Randall Hartman, while board member Lloyd Goodrich said an emergency repair job was done back in the mid-1970s went a roto-valve in the dam failed while open, causing a substantial loss of the lake's water.
The 63-year-old dam was built with four outflow tunnels, two for power generation and two for releasing irrigation water from Red Bluff Lake. The upper tunnels have been abandoned and the generators removed for a number of years, while the gates on the west side irrigation tunnel are seized shut, Shoemaker told the board.
"The slide gate (on the east side) is the only way to make releases," Shoemaker said, "and the video (shot underwater in 1996) shows it's pretty deteriorated and corroded."
Red Bluff general manager Jim Ed Miller said an electrical problem on the one working gate last month showed the need to repair the structure.
"Until last month I was hoping it would go away, but when I couldn't get those gates raised it made a Christian out of me," Miller said.
The gates were opened once the electrical problem was resolved, but the need for two tunnels led the board to vote for the $1.026 million plan, as opposed to repairing just one of the irrigation tunnels at an estimated cost of $710.560.
"You could use one side for a while, then use the other. That would allow you some backup and redundancy," Shoemaker said. He and Campbell later said doing both tunnels should assure that at least one will be operational by the time water releases are scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2001.
HDR's plans have the actual rehabilitation work being done between the 2000 and 2001 growing seasons. New plates would be put over the abandoned upper tunnels, replacing the leaking butterfly valves that are in place now.
The lower tunnels would have their gates removed and replaced with 42-inch jet flow and knife gates, which Shoemaker said would give the district better control of the water flow out of the dam.
Under HDR's timetable, equipment specifications and bids would be taken in the first half of next year, with the equipment fabrication and deliveries to take place over the following 12 months. Construction would begin sometime in the final three months of 2000.
Bids would have to be taken on construction of both the equipment and on the actually work at the dam, but Shoemaker and Campbell said the number of companies that can handle a project as big as this are limited.
"There are only two companies in the world that manufacture the gates, and all the equipment has to be manufactured from scratch," Shoemaker told the board. One of the companies, located in Massachusetts, put in a 1996 estimate of $120,000 for the jet flow gate, which HDR increased to $132,000 in its new estimate. The other, located in Argentina, put in a 1996 estimate of $230,000.
Shoemaker said that company just supplied new jet flow gates to Hoover Dam, and added that he had talked with the contractor on that project, J.R. Jacks of Las Vegas, about working on the Red Bluff project. "He's very interested in hearing about it," he said.
"There are contractors around who know how to do this. If you put in a pre-qualification stipulation in the contract, you will get people who know how to do it," Shoemaker said.
The rehabilitation project took up the bulk of Monday's regularly scheduled monthly meeting. In other business, the board was told by Miller that Albert Wagner of Loving Salt Co. is reportedly closer to getting the permits to begin pumping salt water from Malaga Bend away from the Pecos River and into three man-made lakes, where the water would be evaporated and the salt mined out.
"Wagner called and said he would have the permits by the first of the year," said Miller, though he still suspected officials involved in the permitting process may find some new problem with the plan before final approval is granted.
With the end of the 1999 irrigation season, the lake level at Red Bluff was up 13,000 acre/feet in November.
"It looks like we caught some water, and it's good water," said Hartman, though board members added it's still too early to make preliminary estimates on water allotments for 1999.
The board also reaffirmed its plans to make requirements for water allotment requests fall more in line with actual water usage next year. A total of 35,000 acre/feet of water was allotted in 1998, of which 23,127 acre/feet was actually used.
In a review of the investment report, the board was told $18,750 in interest which was credited to this year's report will have to be deducted in the 1999 report. Board members also approved monthly accounts payable and cash disbursements prior to the discussion of the dam rehabilitation project.
Reserve deputies seek financial backupBy ROSIE FLORES
They patrol alleys, businesses, homes and streets, but this group of hardworking citizens remains in the background.
For many years the Reeves County Reserve Deputies have been patrolling areas both within Pecos and in the surrounding country. They assist various law enforcement agencies and perform numerous duties, but right now, the group's leader is seeking help from local citizens in funding their continued operations.
"We have always been there backing up the Reeves County deputies and the Pecos Police Department," said Chief Reserve Deputy Lionel Garza. "A lot of people don't know about everything we do, or the fact that we don't get paid."
There are currently eight reserve deputies, but the group is allowed to have as many as 10, according to Garza.
Whether it's a family disturbance, bank, business alarms, fights in progress or a suspicious vehicle, these deputies are hard at work.
"Our concern is to provide more manpower. The more manpower, the harder it is to commit a crime, because there's more officers out there," said Garza, who added that the reserves also provide added protection and help with crowd control at special events such as the Fourth of July Rodeo, concerts and fiestas.
"We're out there, helping out in anything that we can and we want people to know that we're here to help," said Garza.
Reserve deputies have the same duties and rights as the regular law enforcement officials, Garza said. "We do all the same things," he said, and to become a member, the reserves have to be qualified, attend the police academy and basically follow the same rules as any law enforcement officer.
One of the requirements the reserves have is that they have to work at least 15 hours per month. "Of course we put in a lot more than that sometimes, but the only problem right now, is that we have to buy our own equipment," said Garza.
While the sheriff's department generously provides the reserves with a vehicle, equipment such as scanners, radios and flashlights have to come out of their own pocket.
"All of us have regular jobs, and do this to keep our license as a peace officer," said Garza, and the group relies on donations to buy the much needed equipment.
"There have been a couple of donations and with that we have bought some things, but we need a lot more equipment," said Garza, who added that any kind of donation to the reserves will be appreciated.
"We just want to do a good job and to do that, we need some necessary items," he said, especially during the holidays, when more people are out and busy the group will be hard at work keeping the community safe.
"We want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday," said Garza. "We also want them to be extra careful during this time and of course, we'll do all we can to protect them."
If anyone wants to make a donation to these hardworking individuals, they can call the sheriff's department at 445-4901 or contact Garza at 445-7314.
Pena comfortable in role as fire chiefBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Roy Pena laughs as he recalls his "baptism by fire" in his first two weeks as chief of the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department.
"We had three structure fires and a train derailment," Pena said. "I was baptized. I didn't get the easy ones like dumpster and grass fires."
He said he didn't sleep for three or four days, fearing he wouldn't hear the fire calls on his beeper. "Now I am sleeping good. I am getting the hang of it."
Pena took office Dec. 4, along with other officers elected by the assembly - volunteers who form the 38-member department. He presided over his first meeting of the assembly Thursday and checked out the gear of each fireman.
"The first order of business was their safety," Pena said. "We checked their bunker gear to make sure they have everything they need to fight fires. We will start ordering those items they need."
Structure fires are the most serious, where firemen can be injured while protecting the life and property of others. Pena's first as chief was a vacant house on East Second Street that threatened a residence next door.
The next two were in heating units where lint had built up, and the damage was mostly from smoke, Pena said.
Standing by at the wreckage of 16 boxcars that derailed from a Union Pacific freight last week, firemen were happy they weren't needed to handle a hazardous chemical spill.
Pena said one truck is dispatched to stand by at vehicle accidents, and firemen assist the ambulance attendants when needed. He hopes to have firemen trained in CPR so they can be of greater assistance in emergencies.
"We work very close with the ambulance service," Pena said. "We have had a good relationship and communication with them, and we plan to keep on working with them.
Pena said the department is short seven firemen, and invites anyone over the age of 18 and in good physical condition to pick up an application. Members may approve or reject an applicant, with fewer than 10 negative votes required for acceptance.
Although the department has no women among its volunteers, they may apply.
"We had one woman apply, and she just missed it by one vote," Pena said.
Each volunteer is eligible to be considered for fireman (or fire person?) of the month, an honor to be bestowed by either the assembly or the board, Pena said.
Fire practice is held at the fire hall each Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Veteran lawyer gets pot charge droppedBy PEGGY McCRACKEN
Alpine attorney Mike Barclay's 40 years of experience may have helped him Monday when he won dismissal of marijuana possession charges against his client, Jose Ever Nevarez-Marin.
Border Patrol agents had stopped a vehicle in which Nevarez and several other men were traveling north. Barclay contended the agents had no "probable cause" to stop the vehicle, and Senior Judge Lucius Bunton agreed.
Friends of Barclay will gather in Alpine Friday night for a "roast" in honor of his 40 years as a lawyer.
Judge Bunton also dismissed charges against Amy Armstrong, 25, of Midland, and she was released from custody. She had been charged with cocaine possession and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Several defendants entered pleas of guilty, but three chose jury trial. The trial of Jesus Manuel Fabela, 20, of Mexico, began Monday and continued today. His co-defendant, Jorge Saldana-Gonzalez, 25, of Mexico will be tried by a different jury, beginning at 1 p.m. today.
They are charged with possession with intent to distribute 152 pounds of marijuana on Aug. 21.
Government prosecutors called three Border Patrol agents from Sierra Blanca and Fabens as witnesses.
A third jury was chosen Monday for the trial of Abel Flores Gonzales, which is expected to begin Wednesday.
Pleading guilty Monday were Reynaldo Ruiz, possession of 194 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute;
* Martha Aide Saenz-Holguin, 30, of Ojinaga,, Mex., illegal entry after deportation;
* Ricardo Franco-Rubio, 19, of Ojinaga, Mex., false claim to citizenship;
* Alberto Juarez Jr., 32, of Pasadena, Tex., possession of 29.92 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute;
* Carlos Franco-Rubio, 25, of Mexico, false claim to citizenship; and
* Carlos Samaniego-Sandarte, 32, of Ojinaga, Mex., possession with intent to distribute 279 pounds of marijuana.
Woman jailed in heroin bustBy ROSIE FLORES
Reeves County sheriff's deputies and Pecos Police officers were busy again Monday, making yet another drug arrest.
Police said officers from both offices executed a narcotics search warrant at 702 S. Almond St. on Monday, which narcotics officer Ernest Lazcano identified as the home of Maria Jessica Montgomery.
Upon executing the search warrant a substance believed to be heroin was found (eight papers of heroin), Lazcano said.
Montgomery, 47, was placed under arrest and taken to the Reeves County Jail and charged with the offense of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in a drug-free zone.
Montgomery is currently waiting arraignment.
"This is a third degree felony, because it was in a drug-free zone, the Pecos Children's Day Care," said Lazcano, who explained that under state law, a drug-free zone is established within 1,000 feet from a school, daycare or other children's facility.
The investigation is continuing and charges are pending on another subject who was at the residence at the time the warrant was executed, according to Lazcano.
Snow's gone, Santa arrivesThe annual Pecos Christmas Parade, postponed due to Friday's snow and cold weather, is scheduled to go off tonight, starting at 6 p.m.
A lighting ceremony at Reeves County Courthouse, along with caroling and hot chocolate will be a part of this evening's events.
Lineup for parade floats and other entries will begin at 5 p.m. in the Pecos High School Parking lot. The theme for this year's event is "The Good Old West," and entries are still being accepted.
This year the parade will run along Eddy and Third Street to the downtown area, and then around the West of the Pecos Museum before ending at the Reeves County Courthouse, where the lighting ceremony will take place. Refreshments will be provided to all those who attend.
Several area churches will be leading the singing along with Eddie Vasquez and his group, However, because of the postponement, the Pecos Eagle Band will not be participating in this year's event. The band is scheduled to perform in the Annual Christmas Concert at 7 p.m., at the Pecos High School Auditorium.
WeatherHigh Monday 61, low last night 28. Patches of snow in shady places. Tonight, clear. Lows in the lower 30s. Light winds. Tuesday, mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 60s. East to southeast winds 10 mph. mph.
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