Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, January 19, 1999
Walker says water district bill in works
By ROSIE FLORES
A bill will be filed within the next 20-30 days with the Texas Legislature
to form an underground water district, consisting of Reeves and two adjacent
Reeves, Pecos and Loving counties are planning to form an underground
water district, the bill authorizing it will be introduced by State Representative
Gary Walker, R-Plains, and co-authored by Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine.
"Once the bill passes an election will be called in all three counties
and if the voters want this district created, directors will be elected
to oversee the project," said Walker, who represents Reeves and Loving
counties in the Texas Legislature.
Walker stated that they have a chapter in the water code that allows
them to set up a district. "This enables the people of the district to
call an election to say yes, we want to manage or control our own water,
or no we don't," said Walker.
The counties decided to seek creation of an underground water district
as the result of Senate Bill 1, passed by the 1997 legislature. Under the
bill, areas which do not have districts to regulate underground water by
the year 2001 could see officials in Austin make the final decisions on
the use of their underground water supplies.
Wakler said his bill is an enabling legislation, so the people themselves
can decide if they want the district set up.
The state of Texas will not be the one to say if the district will be
set up, it's up to the voters, according to Walker.
Water district directors are sometimes appointed by the county commissioners,
but they can also be elected. "This will be written into the bill, that
the people want the directors to be elected, instead of appointed by the
commissioners," said Walker. "We had several calls and talked to numerous
people about that, and they didn't particularly like that, that the directors
be appointed, they want them elected."
Walker stated that in areas where the underground water districts have
been created have been very successful. "We want to provide the best opportunities
for people to manage their water and have access to it," said Walker, who
managed the Sandyland Underground Water District in Plains before being
elected to the legislature in 1994.
Walker was sworn in for his third term last Tuesday, while inauguration
ceremonies for Gov. George W. Bush were held today in Austin.
Last week's opening ceremonies were particularly exciting for Walker,
who was given the honor of presenting the nominating speech for Pete Laney
for Speaker of the House.
"We are now anxiously awaiting our committee assignments from the Speaker,
which are expected to be announced Jan. 21. I hope to be back on the Natural
Resources and Appropriations panels this session," said Walker. "I've really
learned a lot about the budgetary process from Appropriations and have
heard the job is even harder when there's a surplus."
Walker stated that he will be in Austin most of the time through the
end of May, but can be reached at P.O. Box 2910, Austin, Tx. 78768-2910.
His Austin office number is 512-463-0678 and the number in Plains is
Walker stated that Austin will be his second home untiil the end of
Walker's district aide is Judi Addison and his Austin aide, is Laurie
McAnally. "They do all the research for constituent problems, so it might
actually save a step to speak directly to them," said Walker. "When the
session gets fast and furious, sometimes I'm not able to return calls until
about 10 p.m., most folks down't want to hear from me at that hour," he
Church marks Willis' decade as pastor
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Discipleship has been the focus for Greer Willis' ministry at First
Baptist Church over the past 10 years.
He's led the church to form small groups for Bible study, growth courses
such as "Experiencing God" and "Masterlife," and gender-specific studies
for both men and women.
"I also serve as association discipleship training director and try
to go to Glorieta (N.M. conference center) every year to get refreshed
and learn about new programs," he said.
But it isn't just his leadership that church members appreciate; he's
a friend and encourager to all, said deacon Jim Ivy.
"I have a great association with him. He's been a great friend in addition
to being my pastor," Ivy said. "He goes the extra mile for every member
of his congregation."
Ivy said that Willis travels many miles each year to attend funerals
and other major events to support church members, to "lift them up, pray
with them and help them. That's probably his greatest quality."
Willis is a "people person," Ivy said, and is always there, "especially
in tough times when you need him."
Bird watching is one of the interests that Ivy and Willis share, although
"he walks my legs off," Ivy said.
With 250 species of birds traveling through the area each year, Willis
finds time each month to get out his binoculars and bird list and head
for the mountains or lakes.
Balmorhea Lake hosts a surprising number of birds, including rare species
that summer in the Arctic.
"There are snow geese on the lake right now," Willis said today.
Besides Ivy, Willis enjoys visiting with birders like Bob and Billie
Bickley, Mike Pharaoh and Kelly Bryan of Fort Davis, the Texas Parks and
Wildlife's "lead birder" for this area.
"I have taken trips to south and east Texas and to Arizona to spot birds,"
Willis said. "I go with a friend."
Birding is a true change of pace from the office at FBC, where Willis
serves alongside youth director Kevin Kimmel and secretary Judy Wyles.
Mike Pharaoh is music director on a part-time basis.
Willis also serves the Pecos Valley Baptist Association as discipleship
training director and the Odessa-Midland-Pecos Valley area board of directors.
At the state level, he is on the executive board for the Texas Baptist
Convention, which oversees business matters between annual meetings.
His training for the pastorate includes a bachelor's degree from Baylor
University in psychology and religion; masters in education guidance from
the University of South Florida and pastoral ministries from Southwestern
Seminary in Fort Worth.
While in Florida, Willis served five years with a para-church group
called the Navigators. He also worked for the world's largest distributor
of electrical supplies, going to Disney World twice a day while it was
"While I was still in the Navy, I was at the grand opening of Disney
World and helped blow up the balloons," he said.
His first pastorate was in Water Valley, near San Angelo. While there,
he worked as a school librarian and married his principal. Glenda Willis'
experience as a principal was excellent training to be a pastor's wife,
"She was chairman of the pulpit committee that invited me to Water Valley
straight out of seminary," Willis said. "I think her administrative training
kind of got her ready to be someone who could live in a parsonage and meet
the public and meet the challenges of church life."
Glenda uses her training to home-school their 14-year-old daughter,
GeNelle, and is a great homemaker, Willis said.
Both lead the small groups that have helped church members to grow in
their faith. Willis says he has grown spiritually and socially as well
during their 10 years in Pecos.
The Willis' came to Pecos from Matador, where he was pastor for five
Participation in the Pecos Ministerial Fellowship has been a valuable
experience, Willis said.
"It is a very affirming; positive experience to serve with Catholic
and Protestant and various denominations," he said. "I think we have a
The fellowship sponsors an annual day of prayer, Easter and Thanksgiving
community services and Baccalaureate, as well as supporting efforts by
Ivy said that Willis has also been a positive influence in the community
through such organizations as the Rotary Club, which he has served as president.
First Baptist is "real lucky" to have Willis this long, and "until the
Lord calls him somewhere else, we are happy," Ivy said. "We hope he will
stay as long as possible.
Celebrating his 10-year tenure, the church has a special morning worship
service planned Sunday, with area missionary Jimmy Law as guest speaker.
A noon meal will follow the service.
Freeport landfill prelude to mine closing
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Freeport Sulphur is creating a two-acre landfill at the Culberson Mine
40 miles northwest of Pecos as part of their closure plan, said Bill Collier,
spokesman for Freeport McMoRan, owners.
The mine is still producing sulphur on a temporary basis, but the mine
is targeted for complete closure, Collier said.
"The small landfill, which will be closed upon closure of the mine,
is being built under the regulations and oversight of the Texas Natural
Resources Conservation Commission," Collier said.
Prior to Freeport's purchase of the mine, the previous operator had
a landfill of some 12 acres for on-site non-hazardous wastes. That landfill,
which Freeport did not purchase, was closed under TNRCC guidelines and
Freeport has been sending its wastes off-site for the past four years,
Services are incomplete for Christina Tarin, 58, of Balmorhea, who died
Monday, Jan. 18, 1999, at Midland Memorial Hospital in Midland.
Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
High Monday 73; low last night 39. Tonight, partly cloudy. Low in the mid
40s. South to southwest wind 10-15 mph. Wednesday, partly cloudy. High
in the mid 70s. West wind 15-25 mph.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, 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 1999 by Pecos Enterprise