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Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Commissioners seek Balmorhea senior building

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- Reeves County Commissioners dealt with several items Monday morning during their regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting, then enjoyed a lunch and a tour of the Reeves County Detention Center at noon.

Commissioners approved the fourth payment on the RCDC's 1,000 bed addition project to Banes General Contractor; along with approving the DRG Architect request for a payment draw on the 1,000 bed addition and the sale of RCDC surplus property.

Several concerned community members were on hand to discuss the Balmorhea Senior Center and offer their support.

"I do believe there's a need over there for these type services," said Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin, who was filling in for County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo, who was out of town on Monday.

Tarin said that the former director has done a wonderful job in Balmorhea, but the Senior Center has chosen not to re-apply for funds for next year.

"The building they are meeting in belongs to the Well-Kept Community Club and they have chosen to take it back, to use for something else," said Tarin. However, he said that another group wants to go ahead and submit a budget for the following year.

"Donna Woodard, (the director of the Pecos facility) has stated that she will help us all she can and will oversee the Balmorhea center," said Tarin.

"I think we should continue to provide these services and I believe we can get a good response," Tarin said. "We can try it for one more year and see if it works."

Woodard told commissioners that she was willing to help out and help with the application forms and anything else that needed to be done.

"I believe Balmorhea has seniors that don't drive and they especially need the bus services," said Woodard. "Triple A is more than willing to help us out, to fund that and there's a lot of other programs that we can provide."

Commissioners agreed to allow it budgeted for next year and submit it to the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission.

Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said that the building is also the one used during voting. "As a community member and an elected official, I will also do all I can to help with this problem," she said.

In other business, Madera Valley Water was granted a line easement on County Roads 201 and 202. "They need permission from the county to bring in water lines through these county roads to the Lindsay Addition," said Tarin.

Madera Valley Water serves about 652 families in the community and this is very important, said Tarin. Water is the number one issue everywhere these days and bringing in more to the community is vital.

Reeves County Golf Course concession bids were tabled. "We advertised for proposals and the deadline was supposed to be Aug. 1," said county auditor Lynn Owens, but no bids were turned in by the deadline.

"We did have about four people pick up applications, but none were turned back in," said Owens.

Owens said that he overheard one individual say that he didn't want to bid without including the golf carts. "That situation won't change until another year, because we have them rented for that long," said Owens.

"I believe we gave the public ample time, but the question now, is what do you want to do now," Owens said, and commissioners agreed to meet with the golf course steering community and get their input before pursuing the matter further.

"We need to get the golf advisory committee involved as much as we can," said Tarin.

During their lunch and tour of the RCDC, commissioners also talked with Lorraine Dailey, with Dailey, Rabke and Gondeck Architects, who was on hand Monday.

Several facets of the construction have been completed. "The rest is coming along very well, we're trying to stay within the budget," said Dailey.

Personnel and salary changes included new hires at the RCDC, Ruben Salcido, Jennifer Rainwater, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Moises Castillo, Jesse Sauceda, Rudy Villegas, Juan Chabarria, Michael Chabarria, Jesse Rayos, Bryan McClure, Ricardo Valencia, Pete Ramos, Amy Marquez, Benito Chabarria, Christopher Celaya, Cindy Barragan and Isela Ortiz, as medical clerk I. Jesse Contreras was promoted to counselor.

Commissioners approved a re-classification from foreign medical graduate to an LVN position which will be filled by Chona Lozano. Thomas Valdez was promoted to maintenance II and Mark Seibert promoted to maintenance III at the RCDC.

Several individuals were promoted to Corrections Officer level 2, including Guillermo Anchondo, Teodoro Cabral, Raul Fierro, Jose Garcia, Michael Juarez, Gilda Leos, Ruben Levario, Mark Lyles, Sandra Martinez, Alfredo Nieto, Alfredo Paz, Robert Pessia, Rene Rayos, Jason Williams, Steve Apolinar, Randy Licon, Joe Lopez, Luis Lopez and Chris Cisneros.

Olga Flores was approved as a deputy clerk in the Reeves County Tax Office and Norma Fuentes Chavez was approved as a new hire in the county clerk's office.

Pay raises were approved for Toyah Walker and Yvonne Abila in the County Attorney's office.

Reports from various departments, minutes from previous minutes, budget amendments and line item transfers were approved as presented.

Board approves  Red Bluff drought plans

By JON FULBRIGHT
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members went over a draft report for the district's new Water Conservation and Drought Contingency Plan during their regular monthly meeting in Pecos on Monday.

The plan, which was drawn up by HDR Engineering and approved by the board, was mandated by the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 1997. It sets a deadline of Sept. 1 to place a plan on record with the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission.

"You're in a very unique situation in the purest sense of the word," said Sonny Kretzschmar of HDR engineering in presenting the plan. "I believe you're the only one (water power control board) in the state of Texas."

While Red Bluff Lake has actually seen its water level go up this summer thanks to heavy rains in northern Reeves, Culberson and Loving counties, general manager Jim Ed Miller quipped that a drought situation wasn't really unusual in West Texas.

"Instead of planning what to do if we get a drought, we need to make plans for what to do if we get water," Miller said.

As presented, the draft plan wouldn't change operations within the Red Bluff district much from current operations. "Essentially, you're always in a drought," Kretzschmar said, while it was pointed out that the amount of Pecos River water needed for irrigation 6.2 acre/feet was three times the normal level recommended by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

"We're the only place in the United States that uses the quality of water we do," said board member Lloyd Goodrich. He said the presence of gypsum in the soil allows for absorption of some of the high salt content in the river water.

The plan noted water stored in the lake is to be maintained at a minimum of 20,000 acre/feet to maintain saturation of the dam's foundation for stability purposes, while seepage is also a problem, though less than when the dam was first built due to grouting.

Other items discussed included the ongoing Malaga Bend desalinization project and the salt cedar eradication project, both of which are expected to improve the quantity and quality of water in the Pecos River.

Goals of the district were defined as holding water loss to 50 percent from release at Red Bluff Lake to arrival downstream, and optimizing releases so that 90 percent of the water released to member district is diverted to farmers.

"It's a simple plan that covers what we do," said board president Randall Hartman. "We have the right to amend it or change it if we need to."

The plan was accepted on a motion by board member Manuel Lujan and seconded by Goodrich.

As far as the Malaga Bend and salt cedar projects were concerned, the board was told by Miller there has been no progress reported in the past month by Albert Wagner of Loving Salt Co., in efforts to get his three man-made salt ponds permitted. The ponds will store water removed from Malaga Bend, and salt will be mined from there after evaporation.

The board also discussed plans by the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation board to spray Arsenal herbicide on salt cedars by helicopter next month. Red Bluff as agreed to contribute $70 per acre/foot for materials, but the overall cost is tentatively put at $190 per acre/foot, Hartman said.

In other business, Miller said he instructed HDR to send a bid package to Jerry R. Jacks of Las Vegas, Nev., on the Red Bluff Dam gate renovation project, but the package has not been returned.

"We'll send anyone who's interested a pretty stringent set of qualifications," for the project, Miller said, which is scheduled to begin this year and will be completed in the spring of 2001.

Board members approved a pay raise from $1,000 to $1,200 a month for Tommy Mosley, who works for the district in the Imperial area. The salary also includes a vehicle allowance and was approved by a 6-1 vote, with Lujan opposed.

The board took no action on a new weir for Pecos County Water Improvement District No. 3. Board member Jay Lee said an engineer would look at the current weir situation on Aug. 24, after which a recommendation would be made.

Members also again discussed the issue of "free water" due to the recent rains. Board member Teresa Walker said she was asked by farmers in the Barstow area to ask Miller about dumping water from Imperial Reservoir.

"I think the times we have dumped they only have a little bit left and it's pretty rank," he said, referring to the sale content. Miller added that with the recent diversion into Imperial Reservoir, "They probably have enough water for them for the rest of the year," which could open up extra allotment in the next few months for other districts upstream.

Rancher says fight over flights continues

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- Round One of a fight by landowners to halt low-level training flights over West Texas is the first battle in a war, said Kaare Remme, owner of McCoy Land and Cattle Co.

Remme and four landowners settled their federal court suit against the U.S. Department of Defense's plan to add to their low-level realistic combat training flights over the Trans-Pecos region.

"We look upon this agreement as neither a victory nor a defeat," said Remme. "Basically, it means there won't be any airplanes flying on the routes that were contested."

The U.S. Air Force has agreed to do further environmental studies before trying to find another West Texas route for the American, German and other foreign pilots flying out of New Mexico.

Bryan Kelly, president of the Trans-Pecos Protection Group Inc. of Alpine, said the outcome represents a "clear, if narrow, victory in some ways."

The suit established a precedent for the Third Amendment argument and is the first time the Air Force has had anything taken away from them, he said.

"The on-going confrontation between several West Texas groups and the federal government over low-level realistic combat training flights will continue. The Trans-Pecos Protection Group Inc. will be filing litigation concerning numerous USAF violations of Freedom of Information Act requests," he said.

Kelly said that the next battle will be over the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative that proposes to extend flights of B-1 and B-52 bombers as low as 200 feet above ground level at 600 mph over ranch and farmland in Reeves and surrounding counties.

"These flights have been in progress since 1984, and have created hundreds of complaints," Kelly said.

He cites Visual Route 196/197, which passes over Alpine.

"This MTR has allowed military aircraft of any type, American or foreign, to fly 100 feet above ground level at speeds of 650 miles per hour since 1980," he said. "There was a low-level military aircraft flight directly over Alpine and Fort Davis on July 29 at an estimated 300 feet AGL."

The flights are a national problem, Kelly said, and more than a dozen groups across the nation have joined efforts to correct the Air Force's mistakes.

"The military presently has over 800 training sites in the United States on 575 million acres," he said.

"The tactic of low-level flying has already been abandoned in actual combat situations due to the sophistication of ground based anti-aircraft weapons. Successful low-level tactics were not used in the Persian Gulf War nor in the air strikes on Iraq and Kosovo," he said.

Pickup driver convicted on pot charges

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- Federal court jurors on Monday took just 25 minutes to convict Jorge Arturo Rivera-Alvidrez of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Rivera was arrested Feb. 9 when Border Patrol agents intercepted his pickup south of Marathon, just at dusk. A white Oldsmobile following the pickup had 197 pounds of marijuana in the trunk, said Border Patrol agent Rodolfo Garcia.

Jay J. Lujan of Odessa was driving the Oldsmobile. Three other Odessa residents who were passengers in the pickup were also arrested and charged with conspiracy and possession of marijuana. They have already pleaded guilty and are to be sentenced Oct. 12.

Lujan and Eva Gloria Vega testified against Rivera Monday, along with Border Patrol agents Clayton Thomas and Garcia.

Garcia testified that he and Thomas parked beside the highway 40 miles south of Marathon to observe passing traffic the night the group was arrested.

When the blue Chevrolet pickup and white Oldsmobile sedan passed, traveling north, the headlights on their patrol units illuminated the vehicles and made the faces of the occupants visible, Garcia said. Rivera looked surprised to see the Border Patrol units, he said.

Garcia said he stopped the Oldsmobile, in which Lujan was the sole occupant. Thomas stopped the blue pickup, occupied by Rivera, Vega, Maribel Tarango, Oscar Ramriez (aka Raul Rivera) and two toddlers.

Tarango was the registered owner of the white Oldsmobile, Garcia said. A drug-sniffing dog alerted to the bed of the pickup, indicating that one of the occupants had handled marijuana, he said.

Rivera was "rather nonchalant about the whole affair" after being placed under arrest, Garcia said.

"He didn't seem worried or concerned. It was sort of the attitude of `Well, I'm caught; there's nothing I can do about it; just take it as it comes,'" Garcia said.

None of the defendants seemed surprised when the marijuana was found in the car, Garcia said.

Rivera had his son and Tarango had her daughter in the pickup, Garcia said. Both were 2 years old.

"It is not unusual for people to bring their children with them. They kind of add a sense of credibility to the people," he said. "They use their children so they don't stand out and appear to be normal."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Parras prosecuted for the government, and Gerald Lopez represented Rivera before visiting judge Ginger Berrigan of New Orleans, La.

Berrigan began another trial this morning for Rigoberto Salas and Antonio Sanchez-Salas.

Council sets last budget workshop


PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- Pecos City Council will convene at 4:30 p.m. today in council chambers of City Hall for a budget workshop.

City Manager Kenneth Neal said this should be the final workshop before the budget is filed for public inspection. It is to be adopted before the fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

School board set to discuss absence policy

PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- Student Code of Conduct and the number of times a student may be absent to participate in extra-curricular activities will be the topic of discussion at the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting.

School board members will meet at 6 p.m., Thursday, at 1304 S. Park, in the board room to discuss several issues.

Board members will discuss employee health insurance prescription co-pay; construction of racquetball courts/batting cages by Reeves County; release of revision/restriction to public use requirements of Block 41 Town of Toyah (Old Toyah Gym) and proposal for facility value assessment-Hunter Corral Associates.

In other business board members will discuss and approve policy on resale of property struck off at previous tax sales and listen to the second reading of Policy DEA (Local) (Compensations and Benefits: Salaries, wages and stipends).

Other items for discussion and approval include:

* Class size reduction grant report.

* 1999 certified appraisal rolls.

* 1999-2000 budget.

* Fuel bids.

* 1998-99 budget amendments.

* 1999-2000 bus routes.

* Tax report.

* Depository securities report.

* Investment transaction report.

* Reconciled bank balance report.

* Current bills and financial report.

* Set date and time for next regular meeting.

* Calendar of events.

* Request for items for next agenda.

The group will meet in closed session, to discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel. Board members will reconvene in open session and take action, if any, on items discussed in closed session.
 

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night:

Winning numbers drawn: 7-9-16-17-22. Number matching five of five: 0. Matching four of five: 345. Prize: $579. Matching three of five: 9,403. Prize: $22.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery, in order:

5-9-1 (five, nine, one)
 

Weather

PECOS, Aug. 10, 1999 -- High Monday 101; low last night 70. Tonight, clear. Low in the lower 70s. Southeast wind 5-10 mph. Wednesday, mostly sunny. High in the upper 90s. South wind 10-15 mph. Extended forecast, Wednesday night, clear. Low in the lower 70s. Thursday through Saturday, mostly sunny days and fair skies at night. Lows 70 to 75. Highs 95 to 100.
 



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