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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Commissioners voice opposition to N-dump

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- Reeves County Commissioners took a unified stand in approving a resolution against the storage of low-level radioactive waste in Ward County, during the second day of regular meeting, held Tuesday morning in the Reeves County Courthouse.

Envirocare of Texas is seeking a permit to receive and store low-level radioactive waste from Texas, Maine and Vermont in one of three West Texas counties. One of the sites mentioned is a 320-acre block located northeast of Barstow in Ward County.

Envirocare officials have met with officials in Monahans and Ward County about the plan, although the land is 32 miles west of Monahans, and only eight miles from Barstow and 16 from Pecos.

"This will affect all of Reeves County, not just Ward County, because the site in question is closer to us," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. "We're asking the governor to heed our call for support in opposing this radioactive waste site."

Galindo said, "We need to take control and let them know we don't want this in our area." He also cited several articles, which reported that Envirocare has been accused of violations and faces possible financial penalties by Utah's Radiological Control Board, where the company's main headquarters is located.

"We want to fight this and not let them try to bring in to our county," said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin. "They don't think we have much representation in these remote areas."

Tarin said that the State of Texas spends a lot of time and money in trying to save the endangered pupfish, in Toyahvale. "Every month they send someone from Austin to come and protect the pupfish and the pupfish is still existing even though the water is not coming out of that spring," said Tarin. "So why not humans."

Water is the number one concern at this time and the water will be contaminated if this waste site is implemented, according to Tarin. "Let's put people first and their concerns, their health," he said.

Tarin has been a strong opponent of the waste site and fought along with others in the area against the original state-operated waste site that was to be put in Sierra Blanca.

"I foresee that they will eventually try to buy off people in Barstow and this region, try to give them money for projects in those areas," said Galindo.

Galindo said the legislature dashed any hopes of local control, in regards to these sites.

Ward County Precinct 1 Commissioner Julian Florez was on hand to provide information and offer assistance. Florez, whose precinct includes Barstow, told commissioners that the property in question is owned by John Forrester and that Envirocare had already drilled in four different areas and no water was found in any of those locations.

"Just because they didn't find any water this time, doesn't mean they won't next time," said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo.

"They drilled wells in four different locations, 300 feet and said that there wasn't any water," said Florez.

"According to the Texas Development Board, they found water not too far from the proposed site," said Galindo. "We don't think West Texas should be the dumping ground for the rest of the country."

"This is something that's going to be ongoing for the next 2-4 years," said Florez. "It's not going to be accomplished in a day or so," he said.

Florez said he felt that there would be other company's that would try to come in and do the same thing. `There will be spin-offs from this, if this one company comes in and implements their site," he said.

Envirocare bought land in western Andrews County for a proposed dump site, after Waste Control Specialists set up a dump site in the same area of the county. Both firms had hoped to store low-level radioactive waste there, but a study conducted by the University of Texas showed underground water in the area.

Galindo noted that the companies target remote areas, such as around Barstow, to set up waste dumping sites.

The resolution states that Reeves County, which adjoins Ward County on it's eastern boundary, desires to unequivocally adopt a position strongly opposing the location of a low-level radioactive waste dump facility in Ward County.

The dangers of radioactive waste has the potential to emit alpha radiation, which can become airborne and can contain Irradiated Primary System Components and Piping from Nuclear Reactor facilities which have been in continual contact with highly radioactive water for 20 to 30 years.

Low-level radioactive waste can contain control rods from the core of a nuclear power plant, poison curtains which absorb neutrons from water in a nuclear reactor core and can contain resins, sludges, filters, and evaporator bottoms from nuclear reactors which cleanse the water that circulates around the irradiated fuel in the reactor vessel.

In addition, the resolution states that low-level radioactive waste can contain hazardous medical treatment and diagnosis and waste containers and forms will not last as long as some waste remains radioactive and hazardous and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates "planned leakages" which lead to public radiation exposures and health risks.

Along with the Ward County site, Envirocare is also looking at land to the north, in Loving County, as a site for their low-level waste dump, as well as Borden County, southeast of Lubbock.

Lack of inmates blamed for task force cash woes

By ROSIE FLORES
Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- Funding for the Trans Pecos Task Force and finding a solution to the dilemma was discussed in length at the regular Reeves County Commissioners meeting held Tuesday.

Commissioners finally agreed to pay the bills as presented for the task force, to ask each county for the $12,000 plus expenses, which totaled $14,000. The total includes money for the 25 percent match for the grant the task force has been awarded.

Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez and Reeves County Jail Administrator Jesse Baeza were at the meeting to answer any questions commissioners might have.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo said that one of the main things he supported the task force with, was that through bed space the task force could be funded and the 25 percent match could be made.

"We had three options in which we would fund this task force. Number one was through bed space, two was through seizures and confiscation of property and the sale from that, and number three would be to ask each county directly for funds," said Galindo.

"That was to be the last step and here we are four months into the project and we're on that last step," said Galindo.

Galindo said Judge Sam Massey's response was "a little strong. But I don't blame him either for reacting in that manner," said Galindo.

Galindo said that money was supposed to be coming in from the bed space strategy and at this point no funds have been derived from that. "Now we have to figure out how do we proceed from here," he said.

Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 Felipe Arredondo questioned why the jail staff was not utilizing the bed space at the local jail.

U.S. Marshals have not been bringing in as many prisoners to the local facility as in the past and the number has gone down considerably, along with the revenues, according to Galindo.

"Could it be because of things that are happening at the jail with the inmates?," said Arredondo. "Is it because the inmates were making phone calls and dealing drugs over the phone?"

Arredondo said the article on the inmates had been in the Pecos Enterprise.

"We don't control the phone calls," said Gomez. "There are a lot of inmates and we can't monitor each phone call, unless we are given prior notice that something is going on."

Arredondo also questioned taking the U.S. Marshal prisoners to Wal-Mart shopping and for walks around the outside of the facility. "Isn't it true the U.S. Marshals office complained about this and that's the reason we're not getting any inmates in there?" he asked.

"That practice has been going on for many years, even before I took over," said Gomez. "As soon as I heard about it, I got in touch with Marshal Billy Johnson and he said he wasn't aware of that."

Gomez said the situation was straightened out shortly after that.

"We've always used the inmates outside for cleanups during the fiestas and other small tasks," he said. "They are always supervised by jail staff and never left alone."

"Was it accepted by the U.S. Marshals?" asked Arredondo.

"We're not supposed to be using federal inmates as trusties, but this practice has been going on for a long time," said Gomez. "Gary Brown brought it to my attention and I told him we needed something in writing."

"Have any of them been used as trusties or outside?" asked commissioner precinct 2 David Castillo.

Gomez said that "no" since that time, the situation has been handled efficiently. "It's not because of this that we don't have inmates, it's just been a slow period this past summer," said Gomez.

In defense of jail the administrator, Gomez said he was responsible for the things going on at the facility. "It's not Jesse's fault or anyone's fault. They've told me that it's been slow everywhere," he said.

Gomez said that the task force would work, but several items have to be straightened out. "This is a new project, but I'm confident that it will work," he said. "Of course, there are some things that can be done better and several items straightened out, but once we get it going, it will work," he said.

Gomez said he had talked to several other counties, the sheriffs who are committed to the force, and nobody else had complained, except Judge Massey from Monahans. "It's something new and I take the blame for that," he said.

Galindo said he would like to see the jail administrator more involved in this project and in trying to seek out inmates to house at the local facility.

"We have to go by jail standards and we can only house so many here," said Baeza. "We have thirty-something locals in there and the rest can go for federal prisoners," he said.

Baeza said that some restrictions had been placed on the facility which accounted for the low number also.

Gomez defended the task force and his staff and said that new things always take time to be implemented properly.

"We need to find a solution to fund this task force and just to catch up we're asking our partners for the $12,000," said Galindo.

"I didn't think that was too much to ask, for all that we provide them," said Gomez.

Ward County Commissioner Julian Florez said Judge Massey felt he needed to justify where that money was going to, because it was coming from the community.

"I have to answer to him, because I'm the one that promoted it and I need to have answers for all the other counties," said Galindo.

City's rebate up slightly despite tax holiday

By JON FULBRIGHT
Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- Sales tax figures for Pecos this month were virtually unchanged from a year ago, according to figures released by State Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's office on Friday.

Rylander sent Pecos a tax rebate check for $54,768 for October, up .53 percent from last year's $54,475. But that number is better than it would appear, because the check was sent based on sales during August, when there was a three-day sales tax holiday on clothing and shoes, Rylander said.

However, Pecos' sales tax numbers for the first 10 months of 1999 remain behind those of a year ago, due in part to the low oil prices earlier this year that hampered the Permian Basin economy. The city has received $634,014 back as its 1½-cent share of the state's 8¼-cent sales tax, down 2¼ percent from 1998.

Balmorhea and Toyah also saw their totals increase from a year ago. Toyah's total jumped by 327.80 percent, from a low $86 check last October to $369 this year. Balmorhea was up 2.42 percent, from $299 to $308. Toyah's rise came in part from a ½-cent increase in the city's sales tax, while Balmorhea just raised their tax rate by one-half cent, but that did not affect August's sales tax collections.

Other Permian Basin and Big Bend area cities mostly saw declines in their sales tax totals for October. The exceptions were in Alpine, with a 21 percent jump in their tax rebate check, Wink, up 45.2 percent, and Crane, up 5.1 percent this month.

Midland's sales tax check dropped 11.6 percent, and Odessa's declined by 8.35 percent. Other cities seeing their rebate checks fall by over 10 percent include Monahans, Fort Stockton and Kermit.

Also seeing a decline was the Reeves County Hospital District. Its check of $20.738 from a ½-cent sales tax was down 5.83 percent from last year.

Statewide, Rylander said Pecos' small increase was about average. Rebate checks for the month were up 1.2 percent, to $175.8 million, with $161.7 million of that going to Texas cities, a 6.8 percent increase from a year ago. Houston's $20.4 million check was the largest, and was up .2 percent from last year, while Dallas got back $12.6 million a 5.1 percent decline from a year ago.

Navarrete gets 13-month term in cocaine case

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- When the dust settled Tuesday, Judge Royal Furgeson had sentenced 30 federal court defendants to prison or placed them on probation.

Pecos resident Evigael Navarrete, 41, drew 13 months in prison plus three years supervised release for possession with intent to distribute cocaine on June 6.

Navarrete's federal prison time will run consecutive with a prior sentence in 143rd District Court for cocaine possession in another case. Furgeson recommended he be incarcerated at Big Spring and participate in educational programs, drug treatment and counseling, and parenting programs.

Another Pecos citizen pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stuart Platt to possession with intent to distribute between 100 and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Mary Margaret Marquez , 22, of 1011 Cherry St., was arrested July 19. She will appear before Judge Furgeson for sentencing after a pre-sentence report is prepared by the probation office.

Judge Platt accepted nine other guilty pleas on felony cases filed while Furgeson spent a long day sentencing 13 members of one drug-smuggling gang and others convicted of drug and immigration violations.

Erberto Murrillo-Herrera, one of the organizers of a large drug-smuggling ring, drew 151 months in prison, plus five years supervised release. His was the second-largest sentence of the day, behind Martin A. Alarcon, who received 210 months and a $60,000 fine for his part in the ring.

Oscar Javier Nino was sentenced to 98 months plus five years supervised release, while Vicente Sanchez and Rosa A. Rodriguez-Palma received 60 months each.

James Earl Luna got 36 months, and Guadalupe Belmares-Coronado received 15 months.

Consuelo Maria Burciaga and her husband, Ricardo Burciaga-Jimenez, were sentenced to 12 months plus one day, as was their daughter, Hope Jones Lopez.

Placed on probation for five years were Susan Delgado-Ortega, Lourdes Alarcon Nino and Letitia Bretz.

Sentenced in unrelated cases were:

Barbara Ann Althaus, conspiracy to import marijuana, 33 months.

Adrian Fraire-Esquivel and Fernando Jasso-Arevalo, time served for illegal re-entry after deportation.

Ramiro E. Lerma-Almanza, possess marijuana with intent to distribute, 24 months.

Reggie Olivas, import and possess marijuana for distribution, 21 months, concurrent.

Veronica Garcia, possess with intent to distribute 100-1,000 pounds of marijuana on July 15, 60 months.

Juan Carlos Calate-Comacho, 26, of Estipac, Jalisco, Mex., illegal entry after deportation, 24 months.

Antonio Sanchez-Salas, 24, of National City, Calif., possession with intent to distribute marijuana, 41 months.

Rigoberto Salas, 26, Ramona, Calif., possession with intent to distribute marijuana, 41 months plus $3,600 fine.

Jorge A. Rivera Alvidrez of Odessa, 51 months plus three years supervised release for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Carlos Gomez-Cortez, 30 months for illegal entry after deportation.

Brenda Jo Alvarado, three years probation for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Joshua Lee Miller, 24 months, Erica Valenzuela-Gutierrez, four months, Luis Angel Garcia, 30 months, Jose Antonio Garcia 30 months, and Gloria Collazo de Hernandez, 12 months plus one day for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Dollar plans short move to bigger site

PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- Dollar General Store is moving, but not very far.

Manager Danny Diaz said this morning that he plans to move into the building next door, vacated last year by the Pecos Learning Center.

"It is bigger and we will have new fixtures," Diaz said. "It will be 100 percent awesome, with everything looking good."

New computers, more merchandise with a bigger selection, and an expanded grocery section are part of the expansion plan, he said.

"I am looking forward to giving Pecos something new," he said.

Dollar General already carries "basic grocery items that you buy every day," Diaz said, and they sell for 50 cents to $1 per item less than supermarket prices.

Diaz said they will vacate the present store, located in the south end of the complex where Bob's Thriftway occupies the north end. Dollar General will lease the space from the complex owner.

Bypass road, RR crossings on city agenda

By PEGGY McCRACKEN
Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- Transportation tops the Pecos City Council agenda for Thursday, when council members will consider closing two railroad crossings and a street, moving a cemetery fence off state highway right-of-way, street lighting control, hangar lease and airport layout, and a hazardous materials route skirting the city limits.

The Texas Department of Transportation proposes to construct a half loop around the east side of Pecos to divert hazardous materials from traveling through downtown Pecos.

Beginning south of the Coyanosa Highway, the truck route would begin on U.S. 285, cross FM1450 and I-20 using the Collie Road overpass, then swing through the city's sewage disposal site and cross the Barstow Highway (BI-20) and the railroad tracks near the Pecos River, before looping back across FM1216 to U.S. 285 north of the city limits.

The council will consider a resolution supporting construction of the new road, for which funding may be available in 2006.

Bill Wren, public affairs specialist, will present a proposal to control outdoor lighting.

Union Pacific Railroad Company proposes to close railroad crossings at Willow and Alberta Streets, in line with the U.S. Department of Transportation's goal to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities at crossings by 50 percent.

UPRR believes the two crossings could be closed with little adverse impact on the traveling public, and they offer the city $5,000 for each crossing closed. Neither crossing is equipped with crossing guards or signal lights.

Crossings at Locust and Alamo streets, which also have no crossing guards or signals, would remain open.

Fairview Cemetery's fence along Eddy Street is located on TxDOT right-of-way. The council will consider moving it.

TxDOT will present the council a proposed agreement for Municipal Airport layout, and the council will consider a lease contract with Larry Kington for use of the airport hangar known as the "Big Hangar."

Parks director Armando Gil proposes to close two blocks of Toliver Street where it runs through the Maxey Park Zoo, between the buffalo and ostrich pens.

Non-transportation agenda items include proposals for management services and engineering services on water system improvements, the Texas Home Investment Partnership Program, hiring a part-time municipal court clerk and auditing court records, appointment of a representative to the Reeves County Appraisal District board of directors, and considering a recommendation for Halloween trick or treat.

In executive session, the court will consider duties of the animal control officer and possible litigation with Reeves County.

Lotto

AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Tuesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 14-23-28-36-39. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $75,591. Winning ticket sold in: Laredo. Matching four of five: 188. Prize: $603.

***

AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Tuesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 6-0-2 (six, zero, two)

Obituaries

Ben Robbins

Ben Odis Robbins, 82, died Monday, Oct. 11, 1999, at Lakeview Christian Home-Northgate, in Carlsbad, N.M.

Services will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Central Christian Church with Rev. Rusty Smith of the Guadalupe Christian Camp officiating. A graveside service will be held in the Mt. Evergreen Cemetery in Pecos, at 3 p.m.

He was born in Lowell, Ark., ranched around the Jal, N.M., area since 1960 and for the last two years had lived in the Lakeview Christian Home of the Southwest-Northgate Unit. He had joined the U.S. Army May 13, 1942 and served as a medical technician until Nov. 7, 1945. He had received the American Theater Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon and the Victory Medal, while serving in the Army.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth Robbins of Jal, N.M.; two sons, Jeff Robbins of Jal, N.M. and Odis Robbins of Odessa; one daughter, Betty Grace Huckaby of Lake Worth, Tx.; eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Harold Simpson

Harold Simpson, 77, died Monday, Oct. 11, 1999, at Odessa Medical Center.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, at First Presbyterian Church in Pecos.

He was born Sept. 2, 1922, in Raen, Okla., was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, retired and a Presbyterian.

Survivors include his wife, Renee Simpson of Pecos; three daughters, Sharon Tracy of Giltaner, Neb., Vicki Cranvens of Plano, Dianna Peterson of El Paso; one brother, Bill Simpson of Reno, Nev.; two sisters, Helen Hagar of Katy, Alma Capteron of Katy and six grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Weather

PECOS, Oct. 13, 1999 -- High Tuesday 90; low last night 53. Tonight, clear. Low near 50. Light southeast wind. Thursday, sunny. High in the mid 80s. South wind 5-15 mph. Extended forecast, Thursday night, fair. Lows in the lower to mid 50s. Friday, mostly sunny during the day and fair at night. Highs in the mid 80s. Saturday, becoming windy and cooler. Lows around 50. Highs 65-75.



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