Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, March 9, 1999
Red Bluff opts to change dam plans
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, March 9, 1999 - Fear of the unknown, and the possible cost overruns
it might cause, led Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members to change
their plans Monday on replacing gates at Red Bluff Dam.
Following a presentation by Rick Shoemaker and Sonny Kretzschmar of
HDR Engineering, board members agreed to allow the firm to proceed with
a less complicated plan to replace the dam's gates, which is also expected
to cost $250,000 less than the original proposal.
In January the board approved replacing the current slide gates on the
irrigation flow channels through the dam, only one of which is currently
operative, with knife and jet flow gates, at a cost of just under $1 million.
However, Kretzschmar told the board in February that concrete around
the housing at the dam was greater than expected, and Shoemaker offered
the board a more detailed report on Monday.
"Three-quarters of the level of the irrigation tunnel is filled with
concrete. We can't see any of the valve flanges. We can't see any of the
piping, and that makes it impossible to determine what we need to connect
with," he said.
"We decided there was too much risk and too much uncertainty to have
Red Bluff order $300,000 worth of equipment and then not be sure it will
fit in the hole," Shoemaker said, adding keeping the knife/jet gate plan
"would create a much higher side of cost overruns and time overruns."
HDR's revised plan would replace the current 42-inch sluice gate in
the operating tunnel with a new 42-inch gate, while installing a 30-inch
gate on the second tunnel to make it operational again.
The two gates are expected to cost $150,000 and would take seven months
less to fabricate than had been scheduled for the knife and jet flow gates.
Total cost for the project was put at $750,000.
"In terms of recommending what we need to do, we're now headed towards
the sluice gates," Kretzschmar said. "We aren't saying the other recommendation
is impossible, it's just more expensive."
Under the plan, new stainless steel gates would be put at the front
of the dam, and new sleeves would be placed in the tunnels after the existing
ones are grouted out.
"This way we will not have to disturb the (abandoned electric) powerhouse,
the pinstock and the butterfly valves," Shoemaker said. "I don't see a
need to work in the powerhouse or dry wells if we don't need to."
Board member Lloyd Goodrich was opposed to the plan, focusing on the
need to used stop logs and get a new bulkhead to seal off the tunnel if
future maintenance work is needed. He was also concerned about the effects
de-watering the tunnels would have on the 63-year-old concrete inside,
though Kretzschmar said either plan would require de-watering.
Shoemaker also said by going to the sluice gates, the original two-year
schedule for the project could be maintained. The gate replacement is scheduled
for the final three months of 2000 and the first three months of 2001,
before Red Bluff's water releases downstream begin.
"I see nothing wrong with it," said board president Randall Hartman,
who explained that a vote to chance the proposal was not required by the
board. "We're just agreeing with them on the second proposal. "
Board members then approved a resolution by a 4-0 margin, with Goodrich
abstaining, to support HDR's revised proposal.
In other action, general manager Jim Ed Miller told board members Red
Bluff faces a new delay on their Malaga Bend desalinization project just
north of the Texas-New Mexico state line.
Miller said New Mexico state lawyers told him because there are three
diversion points between Red Bluff's Malaga Bend site and the Loving Salt
Co. plant, they could not allow the district to transfer 30 acre/feet of
water upriver for use by the plant in keeping it's equipment clean.
"I've talked to Collin McMillan,
Reporter's trip home story for Dallas TV
Pete Fuentes and John Pronk Photo
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 9, 1999 - Pete Fuentes used his fluent Spanish to judge
television programs for the Associated Press Managing Editor's contest
last weekend in Dallas.
This week, Fuentes is visiting his father, Jose Fuentes, in the Lindsay
Addition and touring his birthplace of Balmorhea with a Dallas television
John Pronk of WFAA TV in Dallas is interviewing Fuentes' family, friends
and former co-workers at KIUN Radio, where he got his start in broadcasting
20 years ago.
Fuentes is a news and feature reporter at WWOR New York City, where
he has won many awards for his work.
Judging the APME awards was "a lot of fun," Fuentes said. "I judged
a lot of categories that had Spanish interests, because nobody else could
understand them. I did large and medium markets, investigative, some feature,
sports and weather."
An El Paso weathercaster won a first place award, Fuentes remembers.
And WFAA had the best newscast, along with numerous other awards out of
the 50-100 categories entered.
Fuentes said that, since he was in Texas, he should come on to Pecos
to visit his Dad, who is 88 years old.
"We are going to Balmorhea. He is doing a story on the small-town kid
in New York," Fuentes said.
In New York, Fuentes has worked on general assignment news and still
does some feature work.
"I have done everything from the mayor's policies to the President coming
to town, to Hillary and Monica," he said.
Of Monica Lewinsky stories, Fuentes said, "It became outrageous and
absurd. We did angles from the President's tie to the dress - you name
it. It just keeps you hopping."
West Texans visiting New York drop in on Fuentes, and he gives them
a taste of city life. Recent visitors from Balmorhea have included Robert
Scripps and Gussie and Rip Turnbough.
"I took them to some plays and stuff," he said. "And my sister came
up. I get to give them tours."
Fuentes' sister, Dina "Kitita" Tarango, alerted the Enterprise Monday
morning that Pete and John were at her house on Ash Street. Others dropping
in were her son, Ernest, an uncle, Daniel Fuentes, and neighbors Juanita
Barraza and Jesus Anaya.
Pronk said he has traveled over the state of Texas, putting more an
100,000 miles on his company car in the past two years, storing his video
camera and equipment in the spacious trunk.
Photographing on a very windy day Monday, Pronk worked as if dirt blowing
in his face was an everyday occurrence.
And Fuentes, looking little older than when he first picked up a microphone
at KIUN Radio, seemed to enjoy being back home despite the dust.
Spencer adds El Paso office in 20th year
Frank Spencer Photo
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 9, 1999 - Frank Spencer looks right at home seated behind
a mahogany desk in a well-appointed office, dressed in a dark business
suit. But he's equally at home in jeans, toting surveying instruments across
As owner of Frank X. Spencer & Associates, consulting engineers
and surveyors, Spencer has built up a far-flung operation from two employees
20 years ago to the present staff of 18.
With the opening this week of a branch office in El Paso, four employees
will be added. Victor Encisco, a civil engineer, has worked in the Pecos
office for the past two months, "understanding how we operate." He will
work with two CAD operators (draftsmen) and one assistant office manager
in El Paso.
"We are hoping, before the year is out, we will have another CAD operator
and another professional engineer and a well surveyor on staff," Spencer
Celebrating the expansion and his 20 years in business, Spencer and
his wife, Becky, have invited clients to tour the Pecos offices at 611
South Oak Friday afternoon.
They will see how modern technology allows the staff to input survey
data into a computer that will produce a working drawing of the project.
"We probably have the best equipment, equal to what anyone in El Paso
or Odessa-Midland has," Spencer said. "We change computers at least every
three years. Software changes even faster than hardware."
Modern technology has greatly changed the way surveyors work since Spencer
and Francisco Granado took over the business from Fred Armstrong.
The Global Positioning System has replaced manual surveying equipment.
"It costs so much I don't care to say what it costs," he said. It uses
satellites to survey the "total station," with a modern transit that has
an on-board computer and distance meter.
"It shoots a signal and it bounces back off a reflector. It measures
the wave length and measures the distance between the two points," he said.
That is recorded on the on-board computer and is later uploaded to the
design program, but the surveyor also takes field notes as confirmation.
"You think about a surveyor with boots and hat and slide rules, carrying
his surveying instrument and a chain, charging $25 for a lot. Now you couldn't
even drive 10 blocks without charging $25."
Spencer said the surveyor has to be a historian and a detective. "You
have to think about how they thought 100 years ago when they surveyed.
We have to research land title books; to be aware of laws just like an
attorney does. If you make a mistake in surveying, it will be with you
until the day you die."
"We started with three people," Spencer said. "I did everything in the
field and in the office. My kids still today would say I didn't spend enough
time with them, but I had to get the job done."
Although he now has a staff of professional engineers like Abidur Khan
and Victor Thompson, Spencer still puts in long hours. He may be on the
road overseeing projects, meeting with commissioners courts, as he did
Monday in Fort Stockton, or working in the office until 8 or 9 p.m.
"We have been able to bring to Pecos professional services that has
been successful, basically," he said. "We have done it to provide honest,
professional, responsible and dedicated service to our clients."
Spencer believes that track record will serve him well in the new El
Paso office. "I know if it will work here, it will definitely work over
there," he said.
"Above all, I thank the team that we have," Spencer said. "I am very
proud of them."
Some have been on the staff for 13 years, while one was hired last week.
"We did it mainly with guys just out of high school. One guy is a senior
in high school, and he's been a tremendous hand to us. He started with
us last summer. He works every day from 11:30 to quitting time and weekends
Spencer also credited the local banks with supporting his efforts.
"They have definitely been behind us 100 percent. You can go many places
and you don't find that kind of help," he said.
Governing entities such as the commissioners courts, cities and school
districts in Reeves, Pecos and Presidio counties have also worked with
Spencer, and how he is doing some work in Jeff Davis County as well.
Spencer got his start with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort
Worth after graduating from Texas A&M with a civil engineering degree.
He then worked for a small contractor doing utility work - water and
sewer - and bridges and dams, and eventually formed his own company. He
operated a loader and backhoe "basically laying pipe" for awhile, then
went to street projects for the city of San Antonio.
Among the projects in San Antonio, Spencer worked on the popular Riverwalk,
installing waterfalls and re-directing the flow to keep the water fresh.
"I just happened to end up in Pecos in late 1976 and started working
for Fred Armstrong in January, 1977," Spencer said. On March 1, 1979, Spencer
bought the business and later moved it to its present location in the former
Contel telephone company building.
"I just want everyone to know that Pecos has people that can do the
job, given the chance," he said.
He is interested in economic development, and for 10 years has promoted
trade with Mexico and a route to the Pacific Ocean that open up trade with
"Pecos is sitting right in the middle of all this," he said. "We haven't
lost the boat. We just need to get on it."
He believes education is the first priority, and as a director on the
Pecos Economic Development Corporation board, he is pushing for an Odessa
College branch in Pecos.
Pecos County pulls out of water district
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 9, 1999 - Pecos County has opted out of the tri-county
underground water district and voted to form one of their own.
That leaves Reeves and Loving counties alone in the proposed district
to be submitted to the Texas Legislature on March 15 by Rep. Gary Walker.
"That will probably be beneficial, in that the water systems in those
two counties are closely related," said Clark Lindley, temporary board
member for Reeves County.
Lindley said he participated in conversations with Rep. Pete Gallego
in Fort Stockton on Saturday, and he said that 20-25 underground water
districts are being created this session. Texas already has 43 such districts.
"Most of the existing districts are in West Texas, and the ones that
are being added include Presidio, Brewster, Pecos and Reeves/Loving," Lindley
Ward County Judge Sam Massey said on Monday that they are reluctant
to form a water district because they need to focus on whether to form
a joint hospital district with Winkler County, Lindley said.
"I think our intent is to look at what this is going to cost in terms
of a budget," he said. "We will develop a long-range water management plan,
which should be worked out by the end of the year 2000."
Voters will have to approve the district and the ad valorem tax that
will finance it, Lindley said. They will also elect directors, with probably
five each from Loving and Reeves County.
"Over the long term, there will be studies done, and certain permitting
programs for new wells producing over $25,000 gallons a day," Lindley said.
The underground water conservation district will be working to see that
water is used in the two counties in a way that will conserve both the
quality and the quantity of water for the longest benefit.
Loving County has limited underground water, but they are in the same
formations as Reeves, Lindley said.
"It would be financially prohibitive for them to have a district by
themselves," he said.
Border Patrol set to add 25 agents
MARFA, March 9, 1999 - Marfa Border Patrol expects to add 25 agents
before October 1 as part of the National Border Patrol strategy and Operation
"These new agents are an enhancement to the work force in Marfa Sector,"
said Chief Patrol Agent Simon Garza Jr. "There are in addition to positions
that are vacated by agents that have retired or transferred to other areas."
Texas and the Southwest border are the focus of the federal government's
effort to control illegal immigration.
Garza said the new agents will bring the officer corps work force to
"These positions will create even more career opportunities for the
agents already assigned to Marfa Sector, such as promotions to senior patrol
agent and supervisory Border Patrol agent," Garza said.
All new agents will be placed in border stations with responsibility
for coverage along the Rio Grande, Garza said. Assignments are: Sierra
Blanca, 9; Marfa, 4; Presidio, 3; Alpine, 7; and Sanderson, 2.
The new agents will report to Marfa Sector once they have received their
orders. After successful completion of a 19-week academy at Glynco, Ga.
or Charleston, S.C., they will begin their duties in their assigned stations.
Federal grand jury indicts Pecos man
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, March 9, 1999 - Mark Anthony Torres, 20, of 1815 S. Alamo St.,
was one of 32 persons indicted Thursday by the federal grand jury.
Torres is charged with possession of 390.60 pounds of marijuana with
intent to distribute.
Marijuana possession accounted for 15 of the indictments; importing
and possessing marijuana 10; illegal entry after deportation 4; and one
each for transporting illegal aliens, possessing a firearm by an alien,
and failure to appear.
Area cities where defendants live include Seagraves, Odessa, Presidio
and Carlsbad, N.M. Others are from Fabens, Fort Worth, Portales and Belen,
N.M., California and Mexico.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt accepted the indictments. He also
arraigned a number of defendants indicted last month and took guilty pleas
from several others.
ESOL classes available from Carver Center
English for Speakers of Other Languages classes are being held through
Odessa College on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
The class is free and are being held at the Carver Learning Center,
600 E. 12th St. For further information, either come by the Carver Center
or call 445-381 during class hours and ask for Lois Muro or instructor
Border Patrol copter helps locate girl
By ROSIE FLORES
BALMORHEA, March 9, 1999 - A Balmorhea girl was located Friday afternoon
a few hours after being reported missing, thanks to the combined efforts
of several law enforcement agencies.
"It was a combined effort by all of us and we're very happy it had a
happy ending," said Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.
The search began after Deputy Tommy Acosta in Balmorhea received a call
in reference to the missing child. The complainant said that due to an
argument the child had left the residence on her bicycle riding west on
Highway 17 and from there into Toyah Creek, which runs just north of town.
At this point, deputy Acosta got the juvenile's description and went
in search of her.
The girl was not located during the morning hours and at this point,
Acosta notified Deputy Danny Reynolds about the missing juvenile and that
the family was requesting further assistance from the sheriff's department.
Reynolds then contacted Chief Deputy Victor Prieto and was authorized
to contact the Border Patrol for trackers and a helicopter.
An organized search began at this time, with both the Pecos and Marfa
offices of the Border Patrol contacted to help search from the girl in
the Balmorhea/Toyahvale area.
Senior Patrol Agent Roy D. Cason and Border Patrol Agent J.K. Kramer
responded from Pecos. Patrol Agent in charge George F. Campbell of the
Pecos Station and Marfa Sector Pilot Roger Amos flew in a helicopter from
Reynolds told gave photocopy of a recent picture of the girl, and said
while the juvenile was on anti-seizure medicine for epilepsy, she did not
have her medication with her and it was unknown whether she had taken her
Border Patrol agents, aided by the game warden and border patrol pilot
attempted to locate the girl's tracks and find her by using Border Patrol
tracking techniques. Reeves County Deputies did ground surveillance operations.
Because of the possibility of a medical emergency (epileptic condition)
INS-IRP officers stood by to escort medical personnel to the location if
required. Tracking assignments were started at about 3:15 p.m.
Cason was able to determine a direction of travel by the girl, and gave
it to Campbell, who followed a fence line that would intersect her direction
of flight. Kramer and Game Warden Jim Allen were following another road
closer to Cason's location.
According to officers reports, her tracks and the bicycles' were observed
by Campbell crossing the fence line. A line of flight direction was ascertained
and this information was transmitted to Pilot Amos, who followed the suspected
line of flight and was able to locate the girl attempting to hide in the
Amos radioed this information to Campbell, before landing his helicopter
near her location at 4:05 p.m. He said she was in good medical condition
with only bruises and small cuts, and was tired. The juvenile assured him
that she had taken her daily dosage of the required medicine.
Amos took the girl in his arms and brought her to a location near FM
3078 about five miles west of Toyahvale, so that the escorted medical units
could examine her quicker.
"She had already walked about 12 miles," said Gomez.
Medical unit personnel confirmed Amos' medical report and also indicated
slight dehydration, however she did not require hospital attention.
"This was a case of everyone working together and having everything
come out all right," said Gomez.
Gomez praised all the officers who helped and said that they did an
"The tracker has been very helpful to us in the past and everyone who
helped did an extraordinary job," he said.
AUSTIN (AP) — Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 11-20-25-28-37. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner:
$45,738. Winning tickets sold in: Beaumont, Carrollton. Matching four of
five: 213. Prize: $645.
AUSTIN (AP) — The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery,
in order: 1-9-9 (one, nine, nine)
PECOS, March 9, 1999 - High Monday 72, low last night 35. Tuesday, mostly
sunny. High in the mid 70s. Southeast wind 10-20 mph. Tuesday night, mostly
clear. Low in the mid 40s. Wednesday, mostly sunny and breezy. High 75
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