Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, May 11, 1999
Red Bluff faces fight at Malaga Bend
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, May 11, 1999 -- Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members
agreed to prepare for possible legal action with the State of New Mexico
involving the Malaga Bend desalinization plan, but were hopeful that negotiations
with two water rights holders on the Pecos River could resolve the latest
problem for the long-delayed project.
Newly-appointed Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thacker and Barstow-area
landowner Rusty Carpenter offered their own suggestions to the latest problem,
during the board's monthly meeting in Pecos on Monday. That came after
the board heard from the district's lawyer, Tim Brown, and from Albert
Wagner, president of Loving Salt, Inc., which is seeking to mine salt removed
from the river under the Malaga Bend project.
Brown said the latest delay was created in March, when a lawyer for
the state engineer's office blocked final approval of the plan. "The lawyer
said over lunch hour he checked the records and found two (water) rights
holders, M&M Cattle Company and IMC Kellum, between our subtraction
point and Albert's," he said.
Red Bluff wants to transfer 30 acre feet of fresh water from their site,
located near the Texas-New Mexico state line, to Loving Salt's location,
to be used for clearing equipment. Wagner plans to pump the salt water
from a salt spring at Malaga Bend into three man-made pounds, where salt
would be mined after the water evaporates.
The project would lower the salt content of the Pecos River in Texas,
and improve the water quality for use by farmers south of Red Bluff Lake.
Brown said he has set up dates for hearings on the permit with the state
of New Mexico. "By June 18, we have to tell them who our expert witnesses
are, and the drop-dead hearing date is Sept. 21 in Santa Fe," he said.
In preparation, Brown urged the board to contract with HDR engineering
to do a study showing that transferring 30 acre/feet of fresh water north
would not harm the water going to M&M Cattle Co or to IMC, whose subtraction
point is as the same location as Wagner's site.
The hearings would not be needed if waivers were signed by both IMC
and M&M Cattle Co., but Red Bluff general manager Jim Ed Miller said,
"I think we should ask (HDR's) Sonny Kretzchmar to get it done, because
I don't think we're going to get it signed."
"IMC and the city of Carlsbad made a deal to sell water back to the
state. Until that deal is signed and sealed IMC doesn't want to do anything
to jeopardize that," Wagner said.
Brown said he talked with Jim Wilcox, a Carlsbad attorney who handles
work for Chicago-based IMC. "The only way they'll play ball is if Red Bluff
gives them an agreement that they won't interfere with their water rights
and will shut down (water to Loving Salt) if there is low (Pecos River)
Wagner said IMC has about 600 acre/feet of Pecos River water rights,
while M&M Cattle Co. owns about 30 acre/feet.
Miller said he talked with the son of M&M owner Harold McDonald
about a month ago. "I gave him a contract and he said he would get it signed
in a couple of days, but I haven't heard back from him since then."
Carpenter said she had talked with McDonald since than, and indicated
"If you (Red Bluff) would be willing to negotiate with him, he would be
"By not signing he's preventing us from using our own water and making
us pay him," Miller said, though board president Randall Hartman said a
agreement could be cheaper than a drawn-out legal battle with the state
of New Mexico.
"I don't mind looking at it. The benefits would be greater than going
through all of this," Hartman said, and the board authorized Miller to
begin negotiations with M&M, while at the same time approving funds
to begin the $2,000 HDR study, if no deal can be reached with M&M and
Wagner said he is awaiting final word from the New Mexico State Engineer's
Office on construction of the three ponds where the Malaga Bend salt spring
would be redirected.
"I'm looking at by the end of June we should be ready to start construction
on the pond," he said, adding that the fresh water needed for cleaning
the equipment could be hauled in for about 18 months, until harvesting
of the salt from the first pond begins.
In other action on Monday, after the board talked with Brown and district
auditor Randy Graham they agreed to put some of the district's money into
a maintenance and special projects fund, to better indicate to the public
where Red Bluff's expenses are going.
The action was in response to a discussion at last month's meeting with
Ward County farmer Tom Nance who argued that under the 1989 Pecos River
Compact settlement contract, the district was not allowed to build up a
surplus and should return the money to farmers by cutting the $2.50 per
acre/foot fee Red Bluff charges for its water.
Board members said the surplus funds would be needed for several projects,
including the upcoming Red Bluff Dam gate replacement work, scheduled to
be completed over the next two years. and Brown said on Monday, "The contract
is not absolute to make you charge 93 cents," per acre/foot, under the
1934 contract creating the water district. "Times have substantially changed."
On the water report, Miller told board member Manuel Lujan that low
water releases last month were to blame for a high water loss rate along
the river. "With the river dry and low you get even worse loss" he said,
adding that "Some of the water went to the Imperial Reservoir."
The quarterly investment report, accounts payable and cash disbursements
were also approved by the board at the meeting, which was the first for
Thacker, a Monahans resident appointed by Texas Gov. George W. B ush as
the new Pecos River Compact Commissioner. Former commissioner Brad Newton,
who was appointed by former Gov. Ann Richards, has taken a job with State
Sen. Frank Madla's office.
Balmorhea council OKs park plan
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
BALMORHEA — Demonstrating the cooperative spirit that has begun to
move this valley oasis forward, the Balmorhea City Council on Monday accepted
six lots of land from the Balmorhea ISD for a city park.
The land, lying on the western edge of town, will be developed through
a $64,000 grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife, with an equal amount in
matching funds and in-kind donations from local citizens and businesses.
Karen Pogue, who has spearheaded the drive, said she has $35,000 in
cash, materials and labor pledged.
School superintendent Carl Hoffmeyer said that TPW officials and a a
representative of the Nature Conservancy have approved the property offered
by the school district.
"When I first got involved with the city park, I was leery until I read
the objectives and goals in the long-range plan," Hoffmeyer told the council.
"It talks about under-developed areas and the need for city parks and play
The plan speaks of cooperation between entities, he said.
"In that spirit, (Precinct 3) Commissioner Herman Tarin and myself as
superintendent have worked to provide options for you. This is the only
piece of property the school could donate. We are still willing and didn't
put any stipulations on it."
He said that time is running out on the TPW grant application, and "things
need to be done."
After the council voted unanimously to accept the land, Dr. Hoffmeyer
said that the school district hopes to cooperate further by establishing
a xeriscape educational project in the park as a hands-on learning experience
for school students.
City Secretary Jeannie Clark asked the council to set a usage fee for
the current city baseball park and downtown area, with a deadline for reservations.
Clark said that one group has already reserved the park for Memorial
Day and wants it again for Labor Day. Another group has also asked for
a Labor Day reservation, she said.
"Now I want a deadline and a cash deposit."
Coucil members Olga Mendoza and Sammy Baeza suggested a two-week deadline,
but Clark said that may not be long enough.
Coucilman Danny Reynolds said that most reservations are made on a calendar
year basis. "If you don't let them do it in advance, they can't line up
a band," he said.
Water Supt. Freddie Schrier said that users currently post a $50 cleaning
deposit, which is refunded if they leave the park in good condition.
"We still have to mow it, maintain the bleachers, haul off trash, so
there has to be a figure for rent and paid in advance.
"If someone requests a reservation but does not pay rent, if that day
rolls around and they don't show up...If the rent money is there, the city
is assured of getting that. If they don't show up, someone else is knocked
out of using the park."
The fee should be waived for T-ball, Little League and any youth programs
during the summer.
Reynolds made a motion to set the fee at $150 per day, but Mayor Ismael
Rodriguez and other coucil members said that would be too high.
"You have to remember teams come here and stay in motels and buy, and
I don't think they make that much," said Herman Tarin.
Clark said that anyone using the park for more than two hours is required
to rent Port-a-Johns, and they cost $200 per day.
Reynolds amended his motion to make the fee $75, starting June 1. He
specified that if the city is required to close a street for an event,
that constitutes use as a park and the fee would apply.
The motion passed unanimously, as did all motions made during the 45-minute
meeting before a large crowd of citizens interested in the park grant.
Reynolds commended city employees for working during the recent city-wide
cleanup on Saturday and proposed they be given a comp day off, which the
council approved. He also suggested another cleanup in late August to prepare
for the Labor Day celebration.
"We found some flaws in our system and are going to improve them," he
said. "The sheriff will bring trusties from the Pecos jail. The people
that turned out last time worked pretty hard."
He said Sheriff Andy Gomez would also provide potato salad and beans
cooked at the jail.
"The sheriff is real interested in cleanup," Reynolds, a deputy, said.
The council voted to set cleanup for the third weekend in August.
David Carrasco, a computer technician for the school district, has agreed
to install new computers for the city and transfer data from the old computer,
Clark said. His price is $30 per hour, and the money is in the budget.
Schrier said he has called two attorneys about helping organize the
4-B sales tax board, but with no response. The council tabled forming a
board, which will be composed of two coucil members and five qualified
voters from the city.
The city must first form a corporation, then appoint the board to administer
the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in the recent city election.
Elia Estrada reported the ambulance service made seven runs last month
and are working on license renewal through the Texas Department of Health.
Schrier reported the water system is operating well, with 200 gallons
per minute being pumped.
The sewer permit expires June 26, and the application to the Texas Natural
Resources Conservation Commission has gone in, he said.
One 17-year-old boy will work for the water department this summer through
the Job Training Partnership Act, Schrier said. "Last summer we had two.
They didn't have enough kids down here apply, so we only get one. Hopefully
he's a worker."
Reynolds noted the water department has held expenditures $30,000 below
the budget, and the fire department and office supplies are also under
"We appreciate the performance of our city employees," he said.
Canadian company buying BCTI
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, May 11, 1999 -- A Canadian firm will be taking over operations
at the Battery Conservation Technologies, Inc. (BCTI) of Pecos soon.
The announcement came from Wayne Sorci, CEO of International Reclamation
Corp. (IRC), which is buying BCTI. Officials did not give the cost of the
IRC, a Canadian environmental corporation based in British Columbia,
entered into negotiations with the shareholders of BCTI to acquire it because
of the great and rapidly increasing worldwide demand for an alternative
to the landfill of alkaline batteries.
Company officials were in Pecos last month, prior to the final announcement
of the purchase.
Robert L. Curry, Sr. said he is very pleased with the completed share
transfer of the company he has and continues to serve as president. "I'm
excited about the aggressive strategy the Canadian company has adopted
to elevate BCTI's International presence," Curry said.
"With a multi-million dollar capital upgrade planned for the Pecos plant
as well as the infusion of a solid business plan, there is no question
BCTI will emerge as the sustained leader of cutting edge, battery recycling
technology," said Curry.
In 1992, the Pecos plant began developing a proprietary process of recycling
alkaline batteries which has since become an international solution to
governments as well as large corporate entities wishing to be relieved
of the perpetual liability inherent with the hazardous waste landfill of
BCTI is fully approved and licensed by the Environmental Protection
Agency and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to handle
and process spent batteries as well as offer a certificate of full recycle
which in turn relieves its clients from any and all long term liability
related to future leaching and/or environmental contamination.
Teens' jail terms shortened on pot charges
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, May 11, 1999 -- Five years, two years, 15 months.
Federal court defendants heard those sentences Monday when U.S. District
Judge Royal Furgeson held his now-weekly docket in the Pecos Division.
With Senior Judge Bunton taking a leave of absence following surgery,
Judge Furgeson is handling all the 30-plus criminal cases indicted here
Michelle Raquel Rodriguez, 19, and Jessica Marie Meraz, 18, both of
Douglas, Arizona, drew the judge's mercy and the shortest sentences, although
they admitted possession of more than 800 pounds of marijuana.
Defense attorneys Anthony Foster and Frank Brown sought the reduced
sentences because the two young women cooperated with law enforcement officers
after their arrest. As a result, Anna Robinson was arrested and convicted
of marijuana possession.
Robinson pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to five years in
prison because she refused to talk, Judge Furgeson said.
"She said she was worried for her safety and reprisals. That does support
to some extent the view that you were worried about your safety," Judge
Furgeson told the two tearful defendants.
Foster said that Rodriguez's family members told him she had been employed
since graduation and they knew she must have been under some type of duress
to get involved in a drug operation.
Rodriguez told him she had met someone across the border, and he had
made a proposal that she come to Texas and drive a vehicle from Presidio
to Pecos, where it was to be loaded with marijuana.
"She was to be paid for driving it. She knew it would be loaded in Pecos,"
Foster said. "But her job was strictly to drive it."
The girls rode a bus from Arizona to Ojinaga, Mex., and stayed there
three or four days "surrounded by all these individuals with weapons. At
one point they thought they would like to leave but were told `You know
too much already.'" Foster said.
Intimidation was such that it resulted in them driving the vehicle,
Brown said that Meraz was "hanging on a cliff," and that she clearly
put herself there.
"Today we will shove her off or pull her back," he said. "Her mother
and sister are here from Douglas and Phoenix. Her sister said she will
take custody to get her out of Douglas" if Judge Furgeson would place her
"It's a difficult decision," Judge Furgeson said. "I am so impressed
at how young both these women are. Sometimes young people make such wrong
decisions. If they had just had a little bit of maturity they might not
have made the same decision."
Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Miller said that probation is not appropriate
for a conviction that carries a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence,
based on the amount of contraband.
"When they were stopped, there was no other vehicle before or after
them on Texas Highway 188. The agent could see for five miles," he said,
disputing the girls' claim that the drug dealers traveled in front and
At the checkpoint, they didn't tell the officers that someone was following
them, and they gave a bogus address where they were going, he said.
"They didn't `fess up until a K-9 alerted," Miller said. Further eroding
their claim of innocence, Miller said the women stopped in El Paso and
partied in Juarez on their way to Presidio.
He did request a reduction based on the statement implicating Robinson,
but said, "We are not dealing with 5-10 pounds of marijuana. It was over
800 pounds. Probation is not appropriate."
Meraz apologized to the United States and to Texas for her mistake.
Judge Furgeson said he hates to see young people starting out on the
"Sounds like to me that you have learned that drugs are bad and people
that deal with drugs are bad," he said.
He commended the defendants for cooperating and reduced their sentences
to 15 months each.
"It is one-fourth the sentence of
Arena hosting Relay for Life this weekend
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, May 11, 1999 -- Reeves and Loving County walkers and runners
will go around the clock in the battle against cancer during the American
Cancer Society's Relay for Life this Friday and Saturday.
Teams of walking and running enthusiasts from all walks of life will
gather at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena to show their support in the fight
against cancer. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's community-oriented
team event where participants walk or run around the track relay style
for 24 hours.
When they aren't taking turns on the track, team members camp around
the track and take part in a variety of fun activities. Teams from companies
and organizations collect contributions.
"Relay for Life is as much an awareness raiser about progress against
cancer as it is a fundraiser," said Marie Cardenas, County Extension Agent.
"Many of the participants will be recovering cancer patient themselves.
Their involvement is proof of the progress that has been made not only
in cancer cure rates, but in the quality of life following cancer treatment."
"The funds raised will enable us to continue our services to cancer
patients and their families, to offer more educational or risk reduction
programs, and to expand cancer research programs," said Cardenas.
If you would like to register a team for Relay for Life, participate
as a cancer survivor or recognize someone during the Luminaria ceremony,
contact Marie Cardenas at 700 Daggett, Suite E or by calling 915-447-9041.
You can also contact Nancy Ontiveros at 915-447-3551, ext. 350.
AUSTIN (AP) — Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers
drawn: 3-5-14-18-34. Number matching five of five: 2. Prize per winner:
$42,112. Winning tickets sold in: Houston, Jones Creek. Matching four of
five: 193. Prize: $655.
AUSTIN (AP) — The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery,
in order: 7-4-9 (seven, four, nine)
Salome Munoz, Jr.
Salome Munoz, Jr., 57, died Sunday, May 9, 1999, at Reeves County Hospital.
A rosary is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today, at the Pecos Funeral Home
Mass will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 12, at Santa Rosa Catholic
Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.
He was born May 4, 1942, in Marfa, was a lifelong Pecos resident, a
retired driller for Pennzoil Sulfur Co. and a Catholic.
Survivors include his wife, Polly Munoz of Pecos; one son, Thomas Munoz
of Pecos; two daughters, Gloria Tarango of Pecos and Melissa Valles of
Odessa; his mother, Tomasa T. De La O of Monahans; two sisters, Ageda Nunez
of Pecos and Mercedes Anaya of Odessa; one grandchild; eight nieces and
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, May 11, 1999 -- High Monday 91; low last night 60. Tonight, a slight
chance of evening thunderstorms, otherwise partly cloudy. Low in the mid
50s. Wind becoming northeast 10-20 mph this evening. Chance of rain 20
percent. Wednesday, partly cloudy. High in the mid 80s. East wind 10-20
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