Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
Commissioners OK rec project proposal
By SMOKEY BRIGGS
PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- Racquetball courts and batting cages topped
the docket Monday during the Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.
Commissioners voted to continue forward with the planning stage that
could result in two racquetball courts and seven batting cages being built
as part of the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department.
The new facilities are slated to be located on the grounds of Pecos
High School, near the old gym, which was renovated over the summer in a
joint project with the county, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and the Town of
Pecos City. The county and city supplying the funding and the school district
supplying the land and/or facilities under the interlocal agreement.
County Judge Jimmy Galindo said that the original plan called for the
racquetball courts to be built within the existing building, but that renovation
costs made a new building more cost effective.
Galindo proposed paying for the racquetball courts with moneys from
the county's Employee Health Benefit Fund — the self-insurance fund the
county maintains for employee health insurance.
"In the interest of wellness and lowered health care cost in the future,
these type facilities are important," Galindo said.
Money for the batting cages would come out of the general fund.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Felipe Arredondo and county auditor Lynn Owens
both expressed concern about paying for the racquetball courts out of the
health care fund.
"We need to make sure that we don't deplete the health care fund," Arredondo
Owens agreed, but also stated that the fund was healthy with over $1.7
million dollars and that except for August of 1999, the fund had always
shown a positive growth.
"Except for last month we've always been able to show a positive flow
into the fund," Owens said.
Owens explained that the fund is a self-insurance fund with a stop-loss
cap of $50,000.
Once the county has expended $50,000 on a claim we have insurance that
kicks in, Owens said.
"On the other hand, $1.7 million sounds like a lot, but if 20 employees
have $50,000 claims then the county will have spent a million dollars from
the fund just like that," he said.
"We just need to be careful," Arredondo said.
With yesterday's vote, the plan will proceed to the planning and specifications
"Right now, we are estimating that the courts will cost between $125,000
and $150,000," Galindo said. "The batting cages should cost about $34,000
excluding the concrete work."
Galindo said that the county had cut a deal with the concrete contractor
currently working on the Reeves County Detention Center expansion to get
the necessary concrete at a good price.
"We should be able to get the concrete for the batting cages at about
$55 per yard," he said.
"Once we get the plans drawn up we will be able to get a better idea
of the exact numbers," he said, "and we can make a more informed decision."
Business concerning the on-going prison expansion occupied most of the
Mark Schumacher of Banes General Contractors, Inc., was on hand to brief
the court on the project.
Banes is the general contractor in charge of the construction project.
Schumacher reported that the project was on schedule and currently below
"Currently we are about $280,000 below budget, not counting the $1 million
in contingency money built into the contract," he said. "So in essence,
we are currently about $1.2 million below budget."
Schumacher submitted bid recommendations to the court for most of the
remaining construction, which the court approved.
"With these bids approved today we have sub-contractors on board for
98 percent of the project," Schumacher said.
The court also took action concerning the pro shop and concessions at
the golf course.
"We advertised for bids for someone to operate the concessions and pro
shop about a month ago and haven't received any bids," Galindo said.
"At this point I think it is time to move on and incorporate this into
regular county operations since there is no interest in the private sector,"
Galindo said that David Vejil had been handling the concessions operation
for the county in the interim and had done a good job, and suggested the
county hire him full-time to run the concessions and the pro-shop.
Lynn Owens pointed out that by law the county cannot make a profit —
it can only charge use fees to try to recover expenses.
"I don't think there would be a problem with the concessions stand but
operating a pro-shop sounds more like a proprietary function that we would
be prohibited from," he said.
Galindo proposed to compare the "profits" from the pro-shop to the costs
of operating the course overall.
"I don't think there would be much profit involved when you look at
it that way," Galindo said.
"The question is, `Is this a government function or not,'" Owens said.
"The county can provide recreational facilities but is a pro-shop a recreational
The court voted to hire Vejil full-time as the coordinator for the Reeves
County Golf Course to operate the concessions and the pro-shop as well
on a tentative basis until the legalities of the operation could be investigated.
Vejil was hired at $8 per hour.
Galindo said that Vejil would report to Nora Geron who is the head of
the Sports and Recreation Department.
Red Bluff gives cash for salt cedar project
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- The Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation
District got some `start-up' money on Monday for their salt cedar eradication
project along the Pecos River, when the Red Bluff Water Power Control Board
approved a $50,000 check as it's share of the $110,000 operation.
Spraying on five sections of land along the river will begin at 7:30
a.m. Wednesday just south of Red Bluff Dam, board members were told by
Barney Lee of the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District, which
spearheaded the effort to get the project approved by state officials.
"I was among the most skeptical around town about ever getting the permits,
and I want to congratulate you on it," Red Bluff General Manager Jim Ed
Miller told Lee at the conclusion of his presentation, during the board's
regular monthly meeting.
"We've come further than I ever thought," added board president Randall
Hartman. "I think it's money well spent." Other area water districts also
contributed to the project, which is based on a similar effort conducted
by New Mexico State University along the Pecos River in the Artesia, N.M.
"We've been working with Susan Combs, the state agriculture commissioner,
and she's very interested in the program," Lee said. The project could
get some funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture in the future,
he added, but funds this year are dedicated to a similar salt cedar eradication
effort along the Concho River near San Angelo. Other future funding could
come through foundation grants.
The spraying will be done by helicopter beginning Wednesday, and Lee
said pilot bob Ewing North Star Helicopters of Jasper would be flying over
the area today to plan out the sites where the herbicide Arsenal will be
"It's one of the smaller (helicopters) and he carries about 100 gallons
of solution at a time," Lee said. He added that while the copter will cost
more initially than using an airplane, they would have less loss in the
spraying process, which will make the estimated cost $42 per acre less.
Red Bluff board members have talked about removing salt cedars from
the river's banks for the past several years in an effort to both increase
the water flow and lower the salinity of the river. The trees were planted
along the river in the early 1900s as part of an effort to stop soil erosion,
but are believed to use up to half the water flow in the Pecos River.
Arsenal is a slow-acting herbicide that will be absorbed by the leaves
of the salt cedars and then carried down into the trunk and roots of the
tree. "You're not going to see anything happen with the trees for at least
eight weeks," Lee said. "It will probably be spring before you see anything."
The area to be sprayed will range from 25 to 87 feet wide along the
river, with cost based on a 50-foot average. Lee said the spraying will
be effective if it's done at least two hours before any rain, with a 95
to 98 percent kill rate expected.
The Upper Pecos district was able to get wetlands permits for Arsenal
spraying, and Lee said "all restrictions on Arsenal we're exempt from,"
as part of the test project.
He did add that cattle that might be within the spraying area shouldn't
be slaughtered for 30 days, but added that New Mexico State University
has done three studies on Arsenal application "and have found no adverse
effects at all."
Wednesday's spraying will only cover the area south of Red Bluff Dam
in Reeves and Loving counties, though under the project proposal spraying
would eventually be conducted all along the Pecos River between Red Bluff
Dam and Girvin.
Another proposal to lower the salt content in Red Bluff Lake and the
Pecos River received a much cooler reception from the board.
Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thacker said the commission has
been presented a proposal by United Salt Co. to drill up to 10 wells at
its site east of the Pecos River in Eddy County, N.M. in order to pump
water from underground salt springs that feed into the river just north
of the Texas-New Mexico state line.
Thacker said the company proposes to pump 1,000 acre/feet a year from
the wells, but Red Bluff board member Lloyd Goodrich said the spring has
a flow of only about a third that total annually.
"The grade of their salt is deteriorating, and they want to improve
it," Thacker said he was told by T.E. Kelly, who was representing United
Salt in their negotiations. However, Miller and other board members said
they had dealt with the company before, with negative results.
"When they first came to us to get salt they said we would have to build
it (a pipeline)," Miller said, adding that the district already has a deal
with Loving Salt Co. to pump water from the Malaga Bend salt springs to
ponds, where salt would be removed after evaporation.
Loving Salt president Albert Wagner has been unable the past several
month to get final permits for building his salt ponds, and Miller was
unsure if United Salt would continue the project if Wager's project was
"Keep this is mind. If we make an agreement with them, they have to
uphold their end," over the period of the contract, Hartman told Thacker.
The board also asked Miller to further investigate United Salt's plan.
In other action, board members reappointed Miller for another one year
term as the district's general manager, received an update on the new weir
for water measurement at the Pecos County Water Improvement District No.
3 diversion point; discussed financing for the upcoming gate replacement
project at Red Bluff Dam and approved accounts payable and cash disbursements
for the month.
Hit-and-run driver leaves passenger behind
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- A hit-and-run accident over the weekend landed
one teenager in jail and left another without a ride.
The accident occurred in the 1500 block of South Alamo Street at about
4:10 a.m., Sunday when Danny Shelton, a homeowner on that street, called
officers after hearing some noise outside.
He looked outside and saw a multi-colored truck and went back inside
to call police, according to police reports. When he went outside after
making the call the vehicle was gone, and Shelton noticed it had struck
another vehicle parked outside his house.
However, a female passenger in the truck, identified as Elsie Rodriguez,
18, was left behind. She identified the driver of the truck as Jose Morales,
17, and he was later located at his home at 2211 S. Cactus St.
The passenger was slightly injured, an ambulance was summoned, but she
refused treatment. "She was just disoriented and a little bit injured,"
said Investigator Kelly Davis.
The damaged pickup was found at Morales' home and he was charged with
failure to stop and render aid. "Alcohol was a factor," said Davis.
Reward offered on bond jumper in cocaine case
Pecos Valley Crimestoppers is offering a reward for any information
concerning a man who jumped bail after being arrested on drug charges earlier
Officials are offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who knows the whereabouts
of Edmundo, aka "Amberto" Lujan Saenz and can provide details that lead
to his arrest.
On Feb. 6, of this year Pecos Police arrested Saenz for possession of
a controlled substance (cocaine) with intent to deliver. On Feb. 9, Saenz
bonded out of jail on a $20,000 bond and then failed to show up at his
scheduled court date. A warrant was then issued by Municipal Court Judge
Phyllis Salyer on Feb. 18 for the arrest of Saenz for possession of a controlled
substance, with intent to deliver.
Saenz is 55 years old, 5'9" and weighs 212 pounds.
Anyone with information on the location of Saenz, call the Pecos
Valley Crime Stoppers at 915-445-9898 and you will remain anonymous.
Task force aids Midland SO with cocaine bust
PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force has once
again been busy helping out their neighbors, as officers were involved
in an arrest Monday in Midland County.
Officers with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and the Midland County
Sheriff's Department responded to a Crime Stoppers tip and arrested Jose
Lopez, 502 W. Park St.., Midland, for possession of cocaine with the intent
Seized from the Lopez residence was 12 bags of alleged cocaine valued
at approximately $1,000.
The task force is under the direction of task force commander Gary Richards
and Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez, who is project director for Reeves
County, the task force's home base.
Cruz Matta Pisana, 54, of Austin, died Wednesday, Sept. 1, after a long-term
Services were held on Sept. 3, in Austin.
She was born July 3, 1945 in Pecos, graduated from Pecos High School
in 1964 and was a long-time Catholic.
Pisana was preceded in death by her parents the late Juan Matta Sr.
and Epigmenia M. Matta and one brother, Manuel M. Garcia.
Survivors include her husband, Bill M. Pisana Sr. of Austin; two sons,
Bill Pisana Jr., and Jonathan Pisana, both of Austin; four daughters, Diana
and Amanda Pisana, both of Austin; Michelle Sanders of Dallas and Annette
Sanchez of Houston; six brothers, Manuel G. Matta of Ojinaga, Mexico, Juan
Matta Jr., Raul Matta, and Paz Matta, all of Odessa, Pablo Matta Sr. and
Hector Matta Sr., both of Pecos; seven sisters, Paula M. Ornelas, Mary
Dutchover and Yolanda M. Ramirez, all of Pecos, Eloisa Casias of Odessa,
Virginia M. Ramirez of Zapata, Sister Martha Ann of Tucson, Ariz., and
Maria Regino of McCamey.
Lucia C. Talamantez
Lucia C. Talamantez, 86, of Pecos, died Friday, Sept. 10, 1999, at her
A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., today at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.
Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Santa Rosa Catholic
Church with Father Ben Flores officiating. Burial will be in Toyah Cemetery.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Talamantez Sr. and one
son, Joe Talamantez.
Survivors include two sons, Frank Talamantez Jr. and Ray Talamantez
of Pecos; two daughters, Romelia T. Herrera and Maria "Lola" Gomez of Pecos;
22 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.
Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
PECOS, Sept. 14, 1999 -- High Monday 81; low last night 60.
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