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Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Red Bluff eyes new federal help on salt removal

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 14, 1999 - Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members would like a little help from the federal government with their salt alleviation efforts.

But they made it clear they didn't want the kind of help with salt alleviation the new Pecos River Compact commissioner is providing, when the held their regular monthly meeting Monday in Pecos.

Reeves County Judge Jimmy Galindo, who also serves as manager of the Ward County Water Improvement District No. 1, told the board that they might be able to get the federal government to help with the removal of salt from the Pecos River, under the provisions of a 1954 agreement between the district, the State of New Mexico and the Department of the Interior.

"The federal law said they would take care of the problem," of removing salt from the river, Galindo said during the general discussion portion of the meeting.

He cited a book published on the Pecos River Compact, "A Decade of Progress," which authorized the Secretary of the Interior to construct a brine diversion system on the river.

General manager Jim Ed Miller and board member Lloyd Goodrich said the government did build a brine diversion pond, now known as Anderson Lake, in New Mexico. "The idea was we would be able to mine the salt from there, but we weren't able to market the salt, and it filled up and we had to stop," Miller said.

Galindo said under the wording of the agreement, "I think this gives you the chance to go back to the Department of the Interior and say `your plan didn't work'.

"If the plan for 1954 didn't work they should be back here looking at a plan that will work," Galindo said. He added he had talked with Hector Villa, the U.S. Commissioner for the Pecos River Compact, who said he would go with Galindo to talk with the Interior Department in Washington, D.C., if the board agreed to the plan.

Goodrich questioned whether the government still had any responsibility for salt alleviation after building Anderson Lake, but board member Dick Slack said, "I see no reason why they can't start it up again."

"I think we should look into it," said Board President Randall Hartman, who moved to have the item put on the board's January agenda. However, he said the government's help might not be needed, as long as the district's plans with Loving Salt Company go through.

"If the present deal works it will solve our problems," Hartman said. Loving Salt plans to build six ponds where brine from the Malaga Band salt spring would be diverted. The company would then mine the salt, as is already being done at Anderson Lake. "We can continue to dig salt out from the other depression (Anderson Lake) as long as we can, then we can start pumping water in again," Hartman said.

The deal with Loving Salt was at the center of the board's anger with Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher earlier in the meeting.

Thrasher attended the board's October meeting, and members that 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. United said it wanted to pump water from underground salt springs that feed into the river just north of the Texas-New Mexico state line.

However, Miller and other board members said they had dealt with the company before, with negative results.

On Monday, Miller passed around a letter from Thrasher to Loving Salt Company President Albert Wagner demanding detailed plans of Wagner's construction plans, along with information on lining the ponds to prevent seepage back into the aquifer.

"Texas is not willing to enter into any negotiations until we are convinced that your's (sic.) or any other project is able to reduce the amount of salt coming into the Pecos River to improve the quality of water in the river as it enters Texas," Thrasher wrote Wagner. "We will need to examine any project to be sure it will be a viable project that will be there in the long term. Consequently, a plan to monitor the water quality of the Pecos River both above and downstream of Malaga Bend needs to be provided. Short term projects will not benefit the water quality of the Pecos River or Texas."

"I think J.W. is completely out of line writing this letter to Albert, but I don't know what we can do about it," Miller said. "He isn't dealing with Albert, we're dealing with Albert."

"United Salt Co. tried to stop this deal before, and that's what I think they're trying to do here," Miller said. "If they want to drill wells on their property, they can do it."

"His job is to see to it that water is divided between Texas and New Mexico. His job is not to get involved in deals," said Hartman. "This is for the State of New Mexico to do and for us to do."

Hartman said because United Salt's main lake near Loving, N.M, is not man-made, it might come under federal enivormental rules, and "They may need the water for something else."

Goodrich said Thrasher "has a legitimate interest" in accounting for the water used and released downstream as part of Wagner's plan. "My objection to the letter is the tone, but he does have some legitimate interest in getting (water) accounting in place."

"If it suits New Mexico, it should suit us," said Miller. "Half the stuff referred to in the letter is already being required by New Mexico," including water monitoring stations above and below Malaga Bend.

Miller told board member Manuel Lujan he expected Wagner would use drilling mud to line the ponds, which would not be dug into the ground, but would be built using above-ground levees. "It would be relatively seep-proof," added Hartman.

Board members voted to take no action on Thrasher's letter.

Earlier, the board approved fund balances and accounts payable, along with the water reports for both October and November. Board members were also told by Miller that engineers for the Red Bluff Dam reconstruction project should be in town by Wednesday to begin work on blocking off the dam's water flow as part of the two-year project to replace the gates on the 63-year-old structure.

Commissioners rescind new RCDC bus contract

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 14, 1999 - Reeves County Commissioners awarded several bids for services for the county during their regular meeting held Monday at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Commissioners approved a new contract between Reeves County and Mike LeCuyer and a computer software contract for the Reeves County Detention Center as well, and rescinded a bid to a bus transportation company.

RCDC Warden Rudy Franco, who was on hand for the regular meeting, said LeCuyer has been in charge of the transportation department and will continue to handle that job under the new contract. "He has done a tremendous job and the bus service is increasing tremendously," said Franco.

Franco said some adjustments were going to have to be made to also make LeCuyer the custody administrator. "He'll be in charge of all the custody area," said Franco. "We're fine tuning things to get ready for next year."

Franco said the salary would remain the same, but would include extra duties.

A computer software contract was awarded to Tomlin Communications. "We are now Y2K compatible and have been searching for a better system, for our booking department, case management and other departments that need this type of system," said Franco. "We hadn't found one that was extensive enough for our uses."

Franco told commissioners that this particular system was the only one compatible enough to handle the duties required at the facility. "And it's been tried in a facility like ours, it's an excellent system," he said.

"There are provisions, since it's a high-tech item, for it to be an exempt item," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo. ""Since it's the only system it will be best for the county to say it's an exempt item."

After a lengthy discussion, commissioners agreed to rescind the bus transportation contract they had awarded to a San Angelo company last month. Commissioners had awarded the bid to Ted Springer, Bus USA over a bid by the current contract holder, Odessa-based All-Aboard.

"We had entered into a contract with Mr. Springer and he has not been able to produce the bus he promised us here in court," said Galindo.

Springer told commissioners at their Nov. 8 meeting that he would provide a new bus, with a door in the back, so the guards could get in and out without going through the whole bus.

"It stipulated that you would provide a new and now we want to know if you will be able to fulfill that," said Galindo.

Springer told the group that he had gone to commissioners court to ask for an extension.

"I don't think anybody gave you an ultimatum," said Galindo. "You came in here and promised a new bus."

"What about a bus with 55,000 miles, that would still have a warranty?" asked Springer.

"That was my question back then, my understanding was that it would be a new bus, what I call new, is brand new out of the factory, with warranty, not used," said Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 2 David Castillo.

Galindo asked Springer if at this point he would be able to provide the new bus.

"If given more time, yes, I could," said Springer.

"I think it falls under a credibility issue, it's fraudulent as of this time," said Franco. "The recommendations have been made and have not been followed up on."

"You have not provided the bus within the time frame, which leaves you in default," said Galindo. "This makes it hard for us to provide services to the BOP."

Galindo said Springer was given an opportunity to provide a service and he had not done so. "Since Dec. 1, you have not had a bus available," he said.

"The court would have to extend his contract starting date so he wouldn't be in default and since the court hasn't, you can declare the contract in default, making that contract void," said county auditor Lynn Owens.

Franco told the court that having the bus service up and running was imperative. "Last week we had four vans and bus and expect that for the next four weeks," he said. "The need is definitely there and we expect it to grow."

"If it's alright with them, we would like to continue to do business with All-Aboard America, the quality of the bus was an issue and that was one of the reasons we were looking at other providers," said Galindo.

Galindo told representatives from All-Aboard that the county would like to continue to use their services for the next 2-3 months and continue from there.

"I have been somewhat confused about this whole issue, because our bid was not ever proposing for a new bus," said Bert Bealls, the representatives from All-Aboard. He told the court that they had been providing services to Reeves County for the past 31 years, beginning with Pennzoil Sulphur and to the detention center for the past 13 years.

"We provide what you need, we just need to know what it is," said Bealls.

"Some of us are acting on the basis of information we were told, and it's been a long time since this contract was re-visited," said Galindo.

"Service is crucial at this time, we can sit down and figure out all the specs and lay out everything on the table and not have this much confusion," said Franco.

Other bids awarded included the electrical and telemetry contract to Rabalais Electrical Sight Utility and Telemetry, of Corpus Christi; finish carpentry was awarded to Classic Millwork and Products of El Paso; building specialist and miscellaneous equipment to different suppliers with Banes General Contracts doing the work; building pad and concrete to Roy Lindsey Construction of Pecos; emergency storage tank, to Red Ewald of Karnes City; inmate clothing to ICS; janitor supplies to Triple I and some items to Gibson True Value; auto insurance to Texas Association of Counties, along with property and general liability insurance; pharmaceuticals award went to Professional Pharmacy; inmate food/supply, went to several companies including, White Swan, M&M Packing, El Paso Baking, Gandy's, Ben E. Keith Foods and La Nortena Tortilla Factory.

Other bid awards went to Dr. Joseph Darpolor for physician services at the RCDC; physician services for the county jail went to Dr. James Cam; lab services went to Trans Pecos Lab; salad bar cart to Dellco Kitchens and dental services to David Lovett.

Commissioners also approved holidays for the year 2000, for county employees.

County supporting TxDOT proposals

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 14, 1999 - Reeves County Commissioners approved two resolutions with the Texas Department of Transportation at their regular meeting Monday morning.

The first resolution approved was for the landscaping project along the Interstate 20 corridor.

"This is to assure them that we are in cooperation and will be providing in-kind services," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Commissioners fully support this project and the court agreed to provide the excavation, the embankment and the transportation of loose aggregate and large boulders for the project, according to Galindo.

"More funding may be available in the future," said Galindo.

TxDOT will develop a landscaping master plan for the state highways in and around the city of Pecos, according to Galindo.

"The city is also involved somewhat and we hope that funds will be available," said TxDOT area engineer Paul Henderson. "We plan to form a committee to proceed with the plans."

The second resolution approved was for a truck route off of U.S. 285 (Cedar Street) to bypass downtown Pecos

TxDOT has proposed building new north/south roadway, from north of the Pecos City Limits at U.S. 285 easterly across F.M. 1216 to a curve near the Pecos River. The road would then go south and parallel to the river crossing the Railroad and Business I-20 about 1,800 feet east of the east city limits.

It would continue south to the Collie Road intersection with I- 20 and across the current overpass south along the east side of Mosquito Lake. The route would cross FM 1450 and intersect with U.S. 285 about three-quarters of a mile south of FM 1450.

The road would help divert radioactive waste trucks that will soon be bound for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico away from downtown Pecos. Trucks from five sites in the Eastern United States are scheduled to exit I-20 and travel through Pecos on their way to WIPP starting sometime next year.

Henderson said the plan meets the requirements for funding under the Texas Farm to Market Road System Expansion program, and Galindo stated that the county commissioners fully supports the expansion of the Farm to Market Road System to include all of the mentioned roadway.

Reeves County will be responsible for acquiring 100 percent of the necessary right of way, including any fencing and will be responsible to adjust 100 percent of the necessary utilities.

Funding may not be available before fiscal year 2006, and TxDOT will develop a long- range project assessment package requesting long-range project status in the Texas Farm to Market Roads System Expansion.

This road would greatly improve the public transportation system of the county and the state of Texas, once it is adopted into the Texas Farm to Market Roads System, according to Henderson.

New hires approved by the commissioners include part-time jailers at the Reeves County Jail, John Randall Cole and Rodolfo Reyes at $6.50 per hour; at the Reeves County Detention Center, Juan Prieto Jr. was upgraded to Correctional Officer III at an annual salary of $23,000; Road and Bridges Department, Lee Ward, as a Tech I at $6.50 an hour, Nasario Lara and Armando Mondragon at the Road and Bridges Department, upgraded to a salary of $21,465 and part-time employees at the Reeves County Clerk's office, Margie Natividad and Leroy Chavez at $7 an hour.

AC units move theatre closer to reopening

Staff Writer
PECOS, Dec. 14, 1999 - One of the main stumbling blocks to the re-opening of the State Theatre in Pecos has almost been taken care of, with the installation of five new air conditioning units on the roof of the 45-year-old building.

Richard Creasey and his wife Lilian have been working since August 1998 to re-open the Oak Street Theater, which will mark the 10th anniversary of its closing at the end of this month. The air conditioning units were lifted by crane onto the roof of the theatre last week, after repairs had been made to the top of the building.

"There are five units on the roof. Four of them are 10-ton units and the other is a 3 ½ ton one," Creasey said today. The units will provide cooling for the 900-seat theatre during Pecos' hot summer months.

"Hopefully we'll have it opened by June," he said. "June 30 is the 46th anniversary of the original opening, so I'd like to have it open on June 30."

R.S. Smith of Smith Electric and Dick Moreland of Pecos Air Conditioning have been working with Creasey on the current project. "I hope by the end of the week we'll have all the air conditioning in. He (Smith) still has to hook up all the thermostats and have all the diffusers put inside," Creasey said.

Once that's done, the work will continue inside the building. "We're going to start redoing the ceiling on the inside, and we still have an awful lot of upholstery to do," he said. "Mr. (Pecos High School teacher Walter) Holland's art class has volunteered to paint in murals in the lobby, and Mr. (Cory) Hannz' class has volunteered to do cleanup and also some upholstery work."

The State Theater was the city's only remaining theater when it closed in 1989, after its owner, United Artists Theatres, decided not to operate any single screen movie houses. Funding for the current rehabilitation work has come in part from the Pecos Chamber of Commerce and the Pecos City Foundation,

The Chamber has helped by providing a portion of bed tax collected from local motels, which is set aside for community projects, while the Pecos City Foundation provided a grant. The foundation is dedicated to improving Pecos.

Pecos Elementary Christmas concert set  Thursday

Pecos Elementary School will host their annual Christmas Concert, beginning at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 16, at the school cafeteria.

Everyone is invited to attend the special program by the third graders, filled with Christmas cheer.


AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers drawn: 30-21-27-12-38. Number matching five of five: 3. Prize per winner: $25,786. Winning ticket(s) sold in: Houston, Laredo and Rockwall. Matching four of five: 211. Prize: $550.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 9-1-5 (nine, one, five)


PECOS, Dec. 14, 1999 - High Monday 68. Low this morning 44. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Low around 20. North wind 10-20 mph diminishing to 5-10 mph around midnight. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. High around 60. Northwest wind 10-20 mph. Wednesday night: Fair. Low 25-30.

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Pecos Enterprise
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