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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Council shifts funds to resume alley clean-ups

Staff Writer

Town of Pecos City Council members opted for cleaner alleys over smoother streets on Thursday, as they voted to take $32,000 out of the city’s seal coating budget to fund a three-person crew to resume the suspended alley clean-up program.

The $32,000 will be a half-year transfer out of the city’s 2005 budget to pay for three new employees for alley clean-ups, after clean-up work using Reeves County Detention Center III inmates was suspended last month. The city and county had been working together on an alley clean-up program using low-risk inmates at RCDC III until the State of Arizona removed those inmates from the prison, in order to have them work on in-state projects.

The city’s public works director, Edgardo Madrid, presented the council with three options for resuming the city-county program, which Madrid said had a cost of $151,484 a year. The first option was to hire a private contractor to handle the job at a cost of $309,000, while the second would have hired private contract laborers while the city provided equipment, at a cost of $83,283 a year.

The third option was to hire three new workers and provide the equipment at a cost of $64,896 for a full fiscal year.

“We cannot drop the ball right now. We’ve got 75 calls from citizens who have dropped something in the alley that needs pick-ups,” Madrid said. “My recommendation is Proposal 3, and hire three new people.”

“That’s my favorite as well,” said Councilman Frank Sanchez, but he asked “Can we work it into the budget?”

Madrid said funds could be taken from the seal-coating budget to pay for the worker’s salaries through the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept. 30.

The council has put off seal-coating local streets in recent years due to cash shortfalls and an effort to avoid raising taxes. But the city was forced to raise its tax rate last fall, and included $160,000 in the 2005 budget to seal coat local streets. The previous plan had been using six RCDC inmates on the clean-up work, and in response to questions from the council, Madrid said at least three people would be needed to continue the clean-ups.

“We have about 85 miles of streets, with the alleys about the same. To have three people do that, that’s a lot of work,” he said.

Madrid and city manager Joseph Torres said the city had made great progress in clean-up alleys using the prison workers, and didn’t want to see that progress lost by suspending the program.

“We do have some citizens who use their alleys as dumping grounds and do not clean up their own alleys,” Torres said. “I would hope these citizens would clean up their trash, but some do not follow the ordinances, and unless you’re right there and see them dump the trash, its tough to fine them. Then we’re back to square one.”

Madrid said the city would still resume the seal-coating program later this year when the weather gets warmer with the remaining $128,000, but would be able to work on fewer streets due to the budget transfer. He also told the council that after the alley clean-up program gets back underway, the city would look at paving some of the alleys using recycled asphalt stripped off Interstate 20 last year during resurfacing work by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Board to weigh enhanced class restoration vote

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss reversing their decision three weeks ago to eliminate the district’s Enhanced program, along with possible revisions to include more students in the program.

Board members voted to eliminate the enhanced program during their regular meeting held on April 14. However, following complaints from local parents, the board will meet again to discuss the issue at 6 p.m., Tuesday at the P-B-T Technology Center, 1301 S. Eddy Street. The public is invited to attend.

Superintendent Ray Matthews said following the board’s April 14 meeting that elimination of the Enhanced Program was put on the agenda, and a 4-3 vote was taken to eliminate the program following a presentation given by administration.

“We feel all the kids would benefit by grouping them together,” said Matthews after the meeting. “Students learn from their peers and by all of them being in the same classrooms they’ll all be equal.”

He said that other programs would be implemented to help the gifted and talented students that are beyond their peers academically. “But socially it would benefit the students more if they were all together.”

However, after hearing from local citizens, board members will consider and take possible action on reinstating the Enhanced Program on Tuesday, and will consider and take possible action to revise the program, which currently has limits on the number of students who can participate.

“I’m all for the enhanced program, but I feel that if they are going to have one, to have it for any child that is eligible,” said board member Paul Deishler.

He said that he would like to see any student that is eligible to be able to take the class. “There is a limit on the number of students per each grade level and I think it shouldn’t be limited,” said Deishler. “Any student that is eligible should be able to take it, even if it means having more of these classes.”

Deishler said that he would like to see all students have that opportunity.

“If they meet all the requirements, but the class is already full, they should be allowed to take it,” said Deishler.

“Our job as board members is to make sure all students are educated,” he said. Deishler, along with school board president Billie Sadler, are up for re-election this coming Saturday, in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election.

David Flores, who had previously served on the board and is once again seeking a position on the board, said that the school should have kept the Enhanced Program. “We should work with others and bring in more programs instead of cutting them out,” said Flores.

Flores said that the district should look in to implementing more programs for the students, instead of eliminating them.

“We should expand on the programs we already have and if possible add more programs to the curriculum, or add other alternatives for these students,” said Flores.

Madrid offers update on work on park, water-sewer projects

Pecos City Council members were updated on the status of several construction projects on Thursday, during the council’s regular meeting, while also receiving briefings on two major projects planned in the eastern part of Reeves County.

Public works director Edgardo Madrid gave a PowerPoint presentation on the various projects currently underway, including the repair work on the city’s ground level and elevated water tanks. He said the city was able to patch the rusted areas of the floor of one of the two 3 million gallon water tanks in the city’s Walthall Street yard at a cost of $15,000, while work has begun on repairing the 500,000 gallon elevated tank at Fifth and Pecan streets.

Concrete work is 80 percent complete on the new Mata-Rodriguez skateboard park at Seventh and Alamo streets. Madrid said the city has added sidewalks from the skateboard area to the new restrooms, and has built several 12 to 24-inch high hills for younger skateboarders to use.

Madrid said crews also are 60 percent complete on building the new rifle range for the Pecos Police Department. The new range north of Acid Delinters, will include a rifle town and a “shoot house” for police training operations.

City crews are waiting final testing on the new sewer lines on the north and east sides of Pecos. Madrid said 18 connections would be added to the new lines, and repaving of streets where the lines were built will begin after the new lines pass inspection.

At the new South Worsham Field, Madrid said two more wells are being drilled, and steps have been taken to improve the reliability of the work, after pipes into two other new wells broke earlier this year.

“Right now they’re requesting us to install steel pipe instead of PVC pipe,” Madrid said. The steel pipe is expected to work better than the polyurethane pipe used on the other wells.

The new wells will be connected to the main water line by a half-mile long pipeline, which should be ready in 30-45 days, he added.

The water project update was tied into one of the two updates on projects located near the South Worsham Field -- on the Waha underground gas storage site near Coyanosa. City Attorney Scott Johnson told council members about the April 22 hearing in Austin before the Texas Railroad Commission on Enstor Corp.’s plan to use 200 million gallons of water to hollow out a salt dome in eastern Reeves County to store natural gas for release into the nearby Waha gas hub.

City officials said they are not opposed to the $65 million project if Enstor uses the Capital Reef Aquifer to hollow out the salt dome. That aquifer has non-drinkable water, and is located 13 miles east of the Waha site, in Pecos County.

“The question came up, what are they going to do if they can’t get permission to transfer water out of Pecos County. They said they would use water underground at their site,” Johnson said.

The city fears use of the Cenozoic Pecos Alluvium Aquifer could contaminate the Santa Rosa Aquifer to the west of the site, which the city is tapping into for its South Worsham Field water.

“The concerns were heard and took due note by the hearing examiners,” said Johnson, who added their decision could come within the next month.

“It’s something the city needs to stay on top of,” Johnson said, adding Pecos could appeal the Railroad Commission ruling, if it allows use of the Pecos Alluvium for the Waha project.

The other project in the area the council was updated on is the planned reopening of the Smithers Tire Testing Center track a few 15 miles east of Pecos.

Mike Burhkholder, president of the Pecos Economic Development Corp., told the council that city and county crews helped get the facility fixed up for a visit by officials with Applied Research Associates, an Albuquerque, N.M. company that would operate the facility in conjunction with the Texas Transportation Institute.

The work involved city crews removing plywood from buildings that have been unused for five years, as well as cleaning brush off roads, restoring water and electricity services and removing over half a dozen bee hives that were in the area. Burkholder said the ARA and TTI officials were impressed with the track’s conditions during their early April visit, and an agreement to reopen the facility it closer to finalization.

“Scott (Johnson) has a contract on his desk for review that would be a 50-year lease with TTI,” Burkholder said. ARA will provide funding for restoring the facility, and federal funds also are being sought for the project, which could lead to the creation of 150-200 jobs in the area.

The council also approved accounts payable in the amount of $440,982, the tax collection report that showed $36,863 was collected, approved a temporary interlocal agreement with the city of Alpine to allow Town of Pecos City plumbing inspector Jack Brookshire to work in Alpine one day a week, and were told the city is saving money due to its new electricity provider contract with Tara Energy of Houston.

“When you compare our electrical expenses for the first half of this year with the first half of last year, you’ll see we saved $5,003.37,” said city accountant Mark Rushing. He added that the future monthly cost avoidance with the new contract would average about $5,000.

“We’re very impressed with the capabilities of Tara Energy,” Rushing said.

Officials hope late turnout boosts early voting figures

Election officials are hoping to see more people at the Pecos Community Center before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, when early voting ends for the May 7 Town of Pecos City and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election.

The two positions up on the school board are those positions currently held by Billie Sadler and Paul Deishler. Both incumbents are running to retain their seats and are being challenged by former school board member David Flores. Meanwhile there are no contested seats in the city election, but voters will be deciding a referendum on establishing a city-county venue tax on local motel customers. The 2 percent tax would be added to motel bill in Pecos, and the money would initially go towards refurbishing the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena and the Reeves County Civic Center.

As of late Monday morning, only 255 people had voted in person at the Community Center in the 500 block of South Oak Street, and another 62 had cast ballots by mail, according to election judge Debbie Thomas.

“I was hoping to have 1,200 people before the election was over,” Thomas said. “It’s a shame a small handful of people are going to end up making the decisions for all of us.” Thomas did same the number of people voting picked up Monday morning, and was hoping that would continue through Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

City councilmen Danny Rodriguez, Gerald Tellez and Frank Sanchez are also on the May 7 ballot, but are unopposed for re-election. The Reeves County Hospital District election was cancelled, because there are no contested races for any of the three seats up for election.

Howard celebrates first birthday

Ian Tyler Howard celebrated his first birthday with a party held in his honor at Maxey Park.

Theme for the event was “Bob the Builder.”

He was joined by family and friends and received many gifts.

Parents are Michael Howard and Audria Acosta.

Grandparents are David and Ester Acosta and Janie Howard.

Art show winners announced

West of the Pecos Museum sponsored their 18th Annual Student Art Festival and awards were handed out last week during a reception held at the museum.

In the first grade Tyler Gomez placed first; Isaac Sandoval, second; Dora Estrada placed third, Ruby Briggs, Katarina Carrasco and Alexis Reyes won Honorable Mention.

Second grade winners were: Kimberly Flores placed first; second place, Emmy Rodriguez; third place, Johnny Benjamin Brown; and Honorable Mention went to Megan Hinojos, Gabriella Cano and Maria Ramirez.

Third grade winners include: first place, Koto Darpolar; second place, Tia Lozano; third place, Jayme Rodriguez; and Honorable Mention winners, Montgomery Miller, Norma Gurull and Zachary Gomez.

Fourth graders: first place, Marissa Elizondo; second place, Edel De La Garza; third place Marissa Hinojos and Honorable Mention went to Harlee Lozano, Ablert Garcia Jr. and Catarina Hinojos.

In fifth grade winners were: first place Jenica Tersero; second place, Gregory Roman; third place, Chelsea Roman; Honorable Mention - Gabriel Salcido, Christian Rodriguez and Jesus Villegas.

Sixth grade: first place, Rina Pino; second place, Sarah Yackel; third place, Ashley Brown and Honorable Mention, Kristi Rodriguez, Brandon Prieto and Nigel Lozano.

Best of Show in the first through third grade division went to Kimberly Flores.

In the fourth through sixth grade division, Best of Show was awarded to Rina Pino.

This year’s theme was “Deep In the Heart of Texas” song.

Over 100 Pecos students participated including Balmrohea.

The exhibit will be up until May 12.

NHS sponsors Wednesday blood drive

The National Honor Society will be sponsoring a blood drive at Pecos High School this Wednesday, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The blood drive will be held in the lobby of the new Pecos High School gym, and local residents are urged to participate in donating blood.

Day of Prayer scheduled on Thursday

A National Day of Prayer gathering will be held on the north side of the old courthouse, at noon, Thursday, May 5.

Everyone is invited to participate; it is for all the citizens of Pecos and the surrounding area.

There will a reading of Scripture, a song of faith, a brief devotion and a time of expressing prayer for the concerns of our country. The whole event will be brief; and will be finished in about 30 minutes.

Shanklin named to Who’s Who in college

Patience Shanklin, a Pecos native, was nominated for the 2005 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Shanklin was one of 69 students from Howard Payne University who received the honor. Who’s Who nominees are college juniors or seniors who have been noted for their scholarship ability, participation and leadership in academic and extracurricular activities, citizenship and service to Howard Payne, and potential for future achievement.

Nominations are submitted by the university’s faculty and staff, then reviewed for eligibility.

Students from more than 2,000 universities and colleges within the United States, the District of Columbia and several foreign nations will be honored in the annual directory. Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges have honored outstanding students since it was first published in 1934.

Howard Payne University is a private university located in Brownwood and affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

HPU was ranked in U.S. News’ America’s Best Colleges 2005 among Comprehensive Bachelor’s Degree granting colleges in the Western Region as fourth in Best Value, as 8th in Campus Diversity and 17th overall.

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