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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, March 11, 1999

Council mixes with oil and water concerns

Roy Knowles
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
How to get more water and how to get rid of construction and demolition debris were hot topics for the Pecos City Council this morning.

Roy Knowles, Charter Waste Management Corp. operations director, said the Type IV landfill plan has been stalled by a problem with high levels of nitrates detected under the landfill in 1994.

"The state at that time put out a recommendation that the source of contaminant needed to be determined in order to continue," he said. "At that time you went with a liner in order to satisfy the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission to put in the next cell."

He said that fertilizer applied to area farmland is the most likely source, and two monitoring wells along the west side of the landfill area could detect nitrates migrating toward the east with the water flow.

A third well would be needed east of the landfill to prove that the water there does not have a higher contaminant level after passing through the landfill, he said.

"It is just an issue in Austin. That has to be resolved before we can move forward with a Type IV application," he said.

He estimated the cost for three monitoring wells at $8,000. An engineer's report on the results would cost another $5,000, he said.

"That is $13,000 to resolve the contaminated water question that exists right now," he said.

After that is resolved, the landfill would cost another $40,000, he estimated.

A pit dug previously and partially filled with debris will have to be cleaned out and filled with dirt, he said. "It never was approved for use."

Knowles said it is important to get something done because people do not want to pay to dump debris at the transfer station.

One incident involving rental property sparked a debate between Knowles and city finance director Steve McCormick.

Knowles said that a person who was paid to clean up four rental units wanted to dump the debris free of charge, and that McCormick had told him it was all right.

Citizens who pay a city water bill are allowed to dump one pickup load of debris free of charge each month.

"I was told by that guy (the owner) that he cleaned it up and took it out there, and he pays four water bills," McCormick said.

"It is rental property, and I consider that commercial," said Knowles. The man told him that his stepfather paid him for the cleanup, he said.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said the landfill committee will "go back to the drawing board" because the Type IV landfill is not cost effective.

Councilman Ricky Herrera asked Knowles how the transfer station handles waste oil.

"There are containers out there, but I don't think the public uses them," Knowles said.

Since the company that recycles waste oil has started charging $50 to $55 per trip to pick up the oil, Charter Waste posted a fee schedule for dumping in them.

People have refused to pay the fee, he said.

Herrera said that a citizen told him he took oil to the dump and was told he would have to pay $1 per gallon.

"He thought that was too high," he said.

"The bottom line is that no one wants to pay anything at the transfer station," Knowles said. "They just turn around and leave."

Health inspector Armando Gil said that he has been filing numerous charges on citizens who dump debris in unauthorized locations, such as along county roads and in pastures.

Abidur Khan of Frank X. Spencer & Associates said he has completed specifications for a new water well in the Worsham Field, 2,250 feet from Well No. 10 that is in danger of losing its casing.

He estimated the drilling cost around $75,000, including plugging an abandoned well nearby, and recommended the council advertise for bids.

The city would do outside piping and run electrical lines at an additional cost.

Spencer said the driller would take samples from a required pilot hole to determine whether the water formations are present. If not, they would drill in another location.

Herrera questioned the need for a test hole, since hydrologists Garrity and Miller recommended drilling in that area.

"You don't have to do a test hole," said Spencer. "The state requires a driller's log. It is done during the pilot hole operation. You have to identify the formations and report in the driller's log required by the TNRCC. It is not an extra. They start with a pilot. We take advantage of that to pull out the samples required by the TNRCC."

He said Garrity and Miller recommended the location to offset No. 10 because of the problems with the casing, and the fact that it produces more than twice as much water than Well No. 9, which has been shut in.

"The stratification thickness (at No. 10) is much larger than No. 9," he said. "We felt like it would be a good risk to run a pilot hole for $5,000 and find out if (the recommended location) has the same formations as No. 10. If not, we will drill at No. 9."

Spencer said that another reason for the choice of location is that it is only 600 feet from the line it would be tied into.

"We were trying to get a location where, after making a well, the city wouldn't have to run several thousand feet of line," he said. "The line is already under the highway. It's just a matter of hooking up to it."

The council agreed to advertise for bids to drill the well and to contract with Spencer for the engineering.

Seven members of the Youth Advisory Council were present to observe the council in action.

Police outline plans for Y2K concerns

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 2000, 15 to 20 police officers will be on the streets to ensure that Pecos citizens are safe, said Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney this morning.

McKinney reported that the 9-1-1 system is Y2K compliant, and that Industrial Communications owner Jim Blanchard reports no problem with two-way radios.

"We haven't run a test on the generator for a power source in case of a local power company outage," McKinney said.

Finance director Steve McCormick said that the generator's natural gas fuel supply may not be available either if there is no electricity.

Mya Surratt, public relations officer for Texas-New Mexico Power Company, said their systems have been tested, and that electric power will be available.

McCormick said that his department will switch over to Y2K compliant computers in April for water billing, but possible disruption of water and sewer services in the event of a power loss is more important than sending out bills.

"If we have power we can accomplish that unless we have embedded chips that stops us," he said.

McCormick said he learned in a Y2K school that embedded chips is where the problem is.

Microchips are embedded in water pumps, lift stations, generators, power plants, meters, emergency management system, power grid systems, medical equipment, vehicles, heating/air conditioning controls, lights, locks, alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, security systems, jails, safes and vaults, microwaves, refrigerations systems and others.

"Nobody knows what will happen," McCormick said.

In discussing quarterly reports from the Pecos Chamber of Commerce on operation of the Reeves County Civic Center, the council noted that it is heavily used and seldom cleaned.

Councilman Gerald Tellez said that Reeves County has pulled their part-time custodian from the civic center, and no cleaning is done other than what the user is required to do.

"They need some help," he said. "They are thinking about going up on the fees."

Councilman Randy Graham questioned why the heavy use has produced little revenue.

Mayor Dot Stafford said that many of the users do not pay a fee because they are non-profit or governmental organizations.

Graham said that since the civic center fund has a large balance, they could pay someone to clean up.

The council also approved the quarterly report of the advertising/tourism committee on expenditure of bed tax funds.

City Manager Kenneth Neal reported that work on the Girl Scout Hut should be finished today.

"It looks very nice," he said. "Much better than when they started. They have a pleasant place to have meetings."

Utilities Director Octavio Garcia reported that work on the Third Street sewer replacement project remains slow.

"They have encountered a lot of lines going across, full of concrete," he said. One large slab above a water line had to be broken up slowly to avoid damaging the line.

He said the state requires everything running underneath the highway to be set in concrete.

Engineer Frank Spencer said he inspected the work being done by Holloman Construction Co., and they have done some things not specified in the contract. He required them to do it over, and that has slowed the work some.

With the contract deadline this month, the job is only 40 percent complete, he said.

No action was taken on the M. Brad Bennett request for tax abatement on land where he wants to build an office building for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

City Attorney Scott Johnson said that the INS will have to provide a document stating they plan to employ x number of people to meet state criteria on tax abatement.

And, he said the amount of abatement probably should be less than Bennett is requesting, since the building will be leased to the government.

Councilman Johnny Terrazas said that some governing entities that lease private property reimburse the owner for taxes.

The council approved a full day holiday on Good Friday, approved changes to the Pecos Economic Development Corporation bylaws, amended a contract with the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission to add $4,000 to the grant for recycling dumpsters and ordered an election for May 1 to elect three councilors.

Boll weevil zone ballots mailed to cotton farmers

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
Over 250 cotton farmers and landowners with cotton production in far West Texas will be eligible to vote in a March 26 referendum that will determine whether to establish a boll weevil eradication and pink bollworm suppression program and set a maximum assessment in the 15-county El Paso/Trans-Pecos Boll Weevil Eradication Zone.

Based on Farm Service Agency records, the Texas Department of Agriculture has mailed 263 ballots. Eligible voters in the El Paso/Trans-Pecos Boll Weevil Eradication Zone were scheduled to begin receiving their ballots by mail last Friday, along with a postage-paid return envelope.

The TDA said completed ballots must be postmarked on or before March 26 to be counted. Producers who planted cotton in 1998, but have not yet received a ballot should immediately contact TDA at (512) 463-7593.

To officially establish a boll weevil eradication and pink bollworm suppression program in the El Paso/Trans-Pecos zone and set an assessment, the proposition must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the March 26 referendum, or those voting in favor must farm more than 50 percent of the zone's cotton acreage.

In addition to deciding if an eradication program should begin in the zone, voters will elect a board member from the El Paso/Trans-Pecos zone to serve on the statewide board of directors for the Texas Boll Weevil-Eradication Foundation Inc.

TDA received one nomination, Reeves County cotton producer Larry Turnbough, for this position before the Feb. 24 filing deadline. Turnbough has farmed in Reeves County since 1974 and currently serves as the commissioner-appointed director of the El Paso/Trans-Pecos zone.

The El Paso/Trans-Pecos Boll Weevil Eradication Zone consists of approximately 60,000 acres in 15 counties: Brewster, Crane, Crockett, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, Val Verde, Ward and Winkler.

Week remains to enter races for local seats

Only one week is left for candidates to file to run for election in the area's May 1 city, school and hospital district races.

Wednesday, March 17 is the deadline to enter races for city council seats in Pecos, Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea, along with those for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah and Balmorhea school boards. Persons living in Precincts 2 and 4 in Reeves County can also file to run for election to the Reeves County Hospital District board between now and next Wednesday.

School offices are open this week during Spring Break to accept candidate filings. Candidates for the Barstow city election can also file at the P-B-T school office, while Pecos, Balmorhea and Toyah filings are being accepted at the city offices in those towns and hospital board candidates can pick up filing forms at Reeves County Hospital.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) No ticket matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday night for the twice-weekly Lotto Texas game, state lottery officials said. The numbers were: 2-16-19-42-47-49 Saturday night's drawing will be worth an estimated $7 million.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 6-8-6 (six, eight, six)

Obituaries

James Cathey

James Dock Cathey, 76, of Candler, N.C., and a former resident of Pecos, died Monday, Feb. 22, 1999 at the VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.

Graveside services were held Wednesday, Feb. 24, in the Snow Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery with Reverend Neil Haynes officiating.

He was born in Buncombe, County, was retired from the U.S. Navy with 21 years of service, a former employee of D.O. Creasman and he was a retired employee of T.J. Warren Co., in San Angelo.

Survivors include three sisters, Ruth Brookshire of Candler, Sara C. Phillips of Arden, N.C., and Hilda C. Digges of Asheville; one brother, George Allen Cathey of Winnemucca, Nev. and a number of nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to the American Lung Association, P.O. Box 2702, Asheville, N.C. 28802; the American Heart Association, 50 S. French Board Avenue, Asheville, N.C. 28801; or to a favorite charity.

Groce Funeral Home of Candler is in charge of arrangements.

Jesus Ornelas

Services are incompled for Jesus Ornelas, 71, who died this morning.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Manuel Vasquez

Manuel Vasquez, 96, died Wednesday, March 10, 1999 at Reeves County Hospital.

A rosary will be held Friday, at 7:30 p.m., at Martinez Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 3 p.m., Saturday, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born June 15, 1903, in Balmorhea, was a self-employed contractor, had been a lifelong residence and a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Santos Vasquez of Pecos; one son, Roberto Vasquez of Pecos; six stepsons; one daughter, Carol Munoz and five step-daughters all of Pecos; five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Martinez Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

High Wednesday 83; low last night 40. Tonight, partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. low in the upper 40s. East to southeast wind 10 20 mph. Friday, mostly sunny and windy. High near 70. West wind 15-25 and gusty.



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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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