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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Council facing water rate hike vote at meeting

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Water rates. Fire protection. Cable service. Truck routes.

Take your pick. Any one or all of those topics on Thursday's Pecos City Council agenda may be too hot to handle.

Development of a new water field that will ensure an adequate supply for 50 years will cost about $8 million, and the council will consider raising everyone's basic water rate $1 per month to help pay for it.

Commercial rates would be increased $2 per month under the proposed ordinance amendment.

For fire protection, volunteer firemen have proposed an ordinance that would call for election of officers each November for one-year terms and require the candidate for chief to have basic certification through the State Fireman's and Fire Marshal's Association and at least seven years experience in the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department.

Classic Cable has proposed a franchise agreement that complies with the council's wishes except for maintaining a local office and giving the council authority to regulate rates.

Along with the agreement, Classic announced a rate increase to take effect in July. Basic rates would be $30.25 per month, and Classic has added the Toon Disney channel on Ch. 98 to the basic service.

If the truck route ordinance is approved, trucks over two tons would be restricted to Interstate 20 and U.S. Highway 285 except for loading, unloading or traveling to a repair shop.

Also on the 7:30 a.m. agenda are a grant application for federal funds to pay 75 percent of a police officer's salary for three years; lease rental agreement on the miniature golf course; purchase of two pickups and a backhoe for the water and sewer department, and a vehicle for the city manager; and funding for employee health fund.

In executive session, the council will review the positions of utilities director and health department director, and consider duties of city police and dispatchers.

Monthly reports to be approved include ambulance, tax collector and financials.

TDH holds WIPP preparation class

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Radioactive waste soon will be traveling through Pecos on Interstate 20 and U.S. Highway 285 to the WIPP site near Carlsbad, N.M.

But the chance of contamination from the material in the event of an accident is almost nil, said Mike Rutherford of the Texas Department of Health Tuesday.

Rutherford and John Bush taught a class of first responders how to approach a radioactive shipment, monitor for the presence radioactive contamination, and care for the victims.

The first shipment to the site was made March 29, after years of study by the U.S. Department of Energy and others on its safety.

Current shipments to the WIPP site are from Idaho, but shipments from the east part of the United States will begin arriving on IH-20 through Texas in late 2000, Rutherford said.

"The idea is to ship all this to WIPP, for storage in underground salt veins," he said. "Since the salt is there, they consider the earth to be stable for thousands of years. Waste is stored 2,150 feet below the surface."

Transuranic waste from nuclear weapons development since World War II is stored in 10-12 sites all over the United States in above-ground containers, said Rutherford, who taught a seminar for first responders at the Quality Inn Tuesday.

Rutherford is project coordinator for the radiological emergency preparedness bureau of radiation control for the Texas Department of Health. He and Bush taught the course and demonstrated use of radiological monitoring equipment to 21 local officers and fire department volunteers.

Westinghouse has contracted with DOE to store the waste, and Westinghouse has contracted with TDH to do the training in 22 Texas counties along IH-20, Rutherford said.

"We mainly show what the plant is about; where it is and precautionary measures taken, so they'll feel comfortable responding to an incident involving one of these trucks," he said.

Because the trucks have signs warning that radioactive material is aboard, emergency personnel often are afraid of being contaminated, Rutherford said.

"It is very unlikely they would be exposed," he said. "Their primary concern is taking care of the injured victims."

All radioactive material is double-sealed inside TRUPACT-II containers that have been tested for safety. They have been dropped from a height of 30 feet, exposed to 1,475-degree heat for 30 minutes and dropped onto a steel spike from 40 inches to test for puncture resistance.

"There has never been a breach of one of these containers," said Rutherford.

At a cost of $300,000 each, they are reusable and expected to last a long time.

Inside the 10-foot tall TRUPACT-II container are up to 14 55-gallon drums filled with contaminated waste.

Armando Gil, emergency management coordinator for Reeves County, has extensive training in radiological response and has taught local classes.

"He has some of our equipment on loan to the county and city. We are showing them how to use it," said Rutherford.

Part of the training Tuesday was to have the class search for radioactive material in the pool area of the motel, using the equipment.

Rutherford said he was impressed with the number of officers and volunteers attending Tuesday's class. Nine were from the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, seven from the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department, two each from the Texas Department of Transportation and Emergency Management; and one from the Pecos Police Department.

Bush provides training on the equipment all up and down IH-20 and maintains and calibrates the detectors every two years.

Rutherford said that an exercise has been scheduled for January, 2000 in Odessa/Midland to simulate a disaster involving radioactive material. Officials from other states are invited to attend, as well as some local citizens.

Even the FBI will participate, because they are concerned about terrorists hijacking one of the trucks, Ruther ford said.

"Even if the exercise fails, it won't be a failure, because it is a learning exercise," he said. "After it is over, we will discuss what went right and what went wrong."

Alamo area cleaning up after strong storms

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Helen Vernon warily watches storm clouds moving across the Alamo area, since a baby tornado, wind shear or just high winds picked up her porch roof Friday night and used the boards to beat up her mobile home roof.

As another threatening cloud hovered her home Monday night, finally dumping rain and damaging hail, she looked for a safer place to be. Reeves County Sheriff's deputy Danny Reynolds suggested a nearby irrigation ditch.

Monday's fast-moving storm spawned a tornado warning for Toyah Lake, southeast of Pecos, and tore on through about 9 p.m., leaving behind .3 inch of rain. Then early Tuesday, another shower moved in, giving the city a total of .49 inch and soaking thirsty soil.

Elsewhere, reports of rainfall ranged from zero at Verhalen to two inches on the Boyd Ranch north of Pecos. Orla got about an inch, while Barstow caught about 1 1/2 inches.

Red Bluff Lake reported 1.43 inch, while the Cooksey ranch got a quarter inch, said Susan Gahr, Orla postmaster.

Fort Stockton residents scurried to shelter when a tornado warning rousted them out of bed about 10:30 p.m. "Lots of rain" and some damaging hail fell, said Tina Hagy, who lives outside the city limits.

Gary Ingram estimated Toyah's rainfall between one and two inches.

"We got a lot," he said. Small hail accompanied the rain, but Ingram said that it didn't even knock leaves off the trees.

Balmorhea reported only .10 inch, said Jody McElroy. The McElroy Ranch east of Balmorhea received .40.

Karen White reported an inch at their ranch home near the Pecos/Reeves County line on U.S. Highway 285.

Salt Draw had water standing Tuesday morning, and some fields south of Pecos were flooded.

The rains brought the May precipitation to .76 inch in Pecos, and a total of 1.24 for the year. Cloudy skies and cool temperatures this morning promised more of the same.

Heavy rains, accompanied by hail, pounded sections of Texas overnight as a cool front punched its way through the state, the Associated Press reported.

The weak, almost stationary front was draped across North Texas today. Storms were moving through the Dallas-Fort Worth area just before daybreak.

In West Texas and the Panhandle, large hail and heavy winds caused scattered damage. But storms then moved eastward.

Temperatures remained mostly in the 50s to 70s overnight, with relative humidities once again in the 80s and 90s.

Early-morning readings ranged from 68 at Port Arthur to 73 at Sanderson and 79 at Laughlin Air Force Base.

Winds were variable at 15 mph or less in most areas, with gusty conditions through the mountain passes and in the vicinity of thunderstorms.

The National Weather Service posted a flash flood watch for the Hill Country and parts of South Central Texas.

Some showers and thunderstorms could become severe in the region as well as the Edwards Plateau, causing flash flooding.

Police report new arrest in bunker marijuana bust

PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Another Pecos man has been arrested on drug charges in an ongoing investigation that began in April, Pecos police reported on Tuesday.

Police said at about 6:18 a.m., Tuesday officers arrested Jose Navarette, 42, for an outstanding warrant for possession of marijuana 2,000 pounds or less but more than 50 pounds, a second degree felony.

The warrant was issued by Municipal Court Judge Phyllis Salyer.

Officers Billy Hull, Jeff Green and Sergeant Tony Dawdy helped make the arrest.

Navarette posted a $5,000 bond later on Tuesday and was released on bail.

Navarette is the owner of a property approximately three miles north of Pecos on U.S. Highway 285 where officers from the Pecos Police Department and Reeves County Sheriff's Department discovered about 750 pounds of marijuana on April 25.

While executing a narcotics search warrant, 17 tow sacks containing the marijuana was located in an underground bunker.

"The search warrant was part of a series of search warrant executed where approximately 850 pounds of marijuana and firearms including an AR-15 Assault rifle have been confiscated," said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

The series of search warrants include the ostrich pens, located on Rancho Road, and Juarez Ranch on West "F" Street, where about 150 pounds of marijuana was located in a similar underground bunker.

"The investigation continues and many more arrests will be made," said Deishler.

Jury returns guilty verdict on pot charge

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Federal court jurors quickly determined Tuesday that Roberto Moreno-Gutierrez is guilty of importing and possessing marijuana.

Moreno, 38, of Cuahtemoc, Chih., Mex., was arrested Feb. 15 with 318 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle.

Jeff Parras, assistant U.S. attorney, prosecuted for the government. Alpine attorney Mike Barclay represented Moreno before U.S.District Judge Walter Smith of Waco.

Judge Smith is helping out in the absence of Senior Judge Lucius Bunton, whose criminal docket was transferred to District Judge Royal Furgeson.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt accepted a number of guilty pleas Tuesday on felony cases assigned to Judge Furgeson.

A second jury trial set for this week was continued, and Judge Smith set hearings this afternoon for several pleas and re-sentencing of Dudley Edward Vandergriff.

Vangergriff was convicted of felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the April, 1997 standoff between the so-called Republic of Texas ambassador Rick McLaren and law enforcement officers.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, and Vandergriff pleaded guilty.

Committee members already seeking entries

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Get your arts and crafts ready and those home-canned goodies, because the the 1999 Reeves County Fall Fair is closer than you think.

"It's never too early to plan your entries," said fall fair committee member Barbara Creager.

The annual event will be held Friday, Oct. 1 and Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Preparations are well underway for this year's shows. Categories in home economics division include, food show, dried arrangements, herb show, textiles, quilting and creative arts and crafts.

Categories in agriculture division will be fruits and vegetables.

A Livestock Show will be held in conjunction with the fair, with a sanctioned lamb show and West Texas Steer and Heifer show planned.

For a set of rules and regulations contact the Reeves County Extension Office, 700 Daggett-Suite E or call 447-9041 for more information.

TNMP offers bill payment through credit card

PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- Texas-New Mexico Power Co. customers can now pay their bills via credit card, after registering through a toll-free number.

T-NP said customers can pay bills through a third party arrangement by calling 1-800-375-3819. A small fee will be added for the credit card processor to each bill.

"We consistently assess the value we offer to our customers," said Mya Surratt, T-NP's community relations coordinator for Pecos. "Their ability to pay by credit card provides extra flexibility for those who may need it."

Along with paying in person or by mail, T-NP also offers a drive-through drop box and automated bank-draft payments for customers in the Pecos area, in addition to the new credit card payment system.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 6-22-25-36-38. Number matching five of five: 5. Prize per winner: $16,785. Winning tickets sold in: Cedar Park, Corpus Christi, Millsap, Pleak, Sulphur Springs. Matching four of five: 186. Prize: $677.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 7-0-4 (seven, zero, four)

Correction

An article in the Lifestyle section of Tuesday's Enterprise stated that Jerry Samuel Workman, Jr. graduated from Texas A&M University. The story should have read that he graduated from Texas A&M-Commerce.

Obituary

Barry Sanders

Barry L. Sanders, 36, died Tuesday, May 25, 1999 at San Antonio Community Hospital.

A memorial service will be held in June at the Shanks Brothers Ranch, northwest of Roswell, N.M.

He was born Dec. 17, 1962, in Anacortes, Wash., on Fidalgo Island, after college served 12 years in the Air Force, before his medical retirement. He has donated his body to science for cancer research. He was a member of the Church of Christ.

Survivors include his wife, Brenda Sanders of San Antonio; one daughter, Kaylah Sanders of San Antonio; his parents, Lee and Mary Sanders of Pecos; one brother Mark Sanders of Lubbock; one sister, Paula Garcia of Odessa and four nephews and nieces.

Weather

PECOS, May 26, 1999 -- High Tuesday 97; low last night 65. Tonight, a chance of thunderstorms. Some possibly severe. Mostly cloudy with a low near 60. East wind 10-20 mph. Chance of rain 40 percent. Thursday, mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High 80-85. East wind 10-20 mph.



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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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