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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, May 13, 2005

Council debates airport radar site lease

Staff Writer

Pecos City Council members tabled two requests, and granted two easements by energy companies on land east of the city, during their regular meeting Thursday morning at City Hall.

The council took no action after debating a plan by the Pecos Airport Board to charge the Trans-Pecos Weather Modification Program a $650 annual fee to maintain their radar operations at the site, and tabled a request by the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse to grant an exemption to the city’s ordinance limiting alcohol sales on Sundays, in order to host two college graduation parties on May 29 at the Sheriff’s Posse Barn.

Mayor Dot Stafford and councilman Frank Sanchez were absent from the 7 a.m. meeting, while the four members in attendance split on their views of agreeing with the Airport Board’s plan for the rental fee offer too the Weather Modification Program.

Tom Nance had approached the council last month, seeking a reduction in the program’s $4,200 fee, after the plane they had been storing in a hangar at the airport crashed while working on a cloud seeding operation in South America, killing the pilot and a passenger. Council members told the Airport Board to come up with a recommendation, which City Manager Joseph Torres and City Attorney Scott Johnson presented on Thursday.

“The lease is the same as the one previously approved, except the hangar was taken out,” said Johnson, who added the $650 fee, “was a significant savings to the Association, but they’re not using the hangar.”

However, council members Michael Benavides and Danny Rodriguez said under the current conditions, they felt the $650 fee was too high.

“How can we do this, when they’re providing us with a service,” Benavides said. “I’d like to recommend we go back to the board and come back with another viable solution.” “I think let’s go ahead and present this to them,” replied councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela. “It’s a $3,600 savings and that’s substantial.”

Rodriguez said more rain has fallen in the Pecos area since the program began in 2003. “I looked at all their equipment, which is expensive,” he said. “There’s a lot of information that I sure didn’t know about. I think you need to visit with both sides. Anybody else you needed to go do this (cloud seeding), this would cost more money.”

“You know our budget,” Valenzuela said. “Let’s give them the opportunity to be presented this. If we have to negotiate some more, we can get to it.”

In response to a question from Benavides, Nance said he had not been told about the Airport Board’s meeting do discuss the lease fee changes, which Benavides said the council had asked the board to do. Nance also said the change represented a fee increase, since they had not been charged for use of the area outside the hangar in the past, but Johnson said the lease was for the land and hangar area.

“It comes to 10-11 cents a square foot,” Airport Board member Mike Burkholder said, while Mayor Pro-Tem said the new offer, “looks like it comes out to less than $55 a month.”

The council then voted unanimously to table any action until their next meeting, on May 26.

Council members also put off until May 26 any action on a request by Jerry Matta with the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse to allow beer sales at the Posse Barn for two graduation parties on May 29 for college students.

Tellez read the current city ordinance, which limits Sunday beer sales with the exception of the Sunday around the West of the Pecos Rodeo, and the Sundays at the end of December if the coincide with Christmas and New Year’s Day.

“State law does permit it, but we’re more restrictive than state law,” Johnson said about the Sunday alcohol sales. Matta noted while those attending the graduation parties could bring their own beer, the sale of alcohol was one of the main ways the Sheriff’s Posse raised funds to keep the Posse Barn in operation.

The easement requests were for temporary electricity and low-pressure water lines to the Cleveland No. 10 well operated by Pitts Energy, located in the southern half of Section 6, Public School Survey in Reeves County, and for a long-term pipeline easement by Dynegy to the well site, if the natural gas well is successful.

Johnson said the city would make about $4,000 by granting the electric and water line easements, while Chris Martin with Dynegy said he had a check for $3,920 to give to the city if the pipeline easement was approved.

“It’s low pressure polyurethane pipe. If the well’s still pumping in 20 years we don’t have to worry about the steel rusting,” Martin said just prior to the council’s approval.

Water projects going OK, despite troubles with leaks

Staff Writer

Work is progressing slightly under budget on refurbishing the Town of Pecos City’s east side water tower, City Council members were told during their meeting on Thursday at City Hall.

“We’re going to save some money on repairs,” Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid said. He told the council there were no major welding problems found in the inspection of the tank, with the only change needed being the replacement of an interior ladder. Madrid said with the cost savings, they would be able to add a safety-climbing device to the new interior tank ladder.

Madrid also told the council that water department workers were kept busy on Tuesday by two separate water leaks, one on the north side of town that shut down service to area residents for most of the day.

On Wednesday, Madrid said the north side problem began with a leak in a 6-inch pipeline in the 100 block of Hillcrest Road, on the far northern edge of town.

“Originally when it was installed there was no truss block installed at the end,” Madrid said. Its absence allowed the water line’s end cap to blow off, and Madrid said because of the high pressure, it took city crews three tries to get the cap back in place.

“Finally by 6:30, we were able to install a truss block and get the leak fixed,” Madrid said.

Two hours later, he said the second leak occurred when the storage tank at the city’s Walthall Street yard started overflowing due to a blown fuse on the tank’s outflow pump. “The valve was left open when the fuse went out, and it was not pumping water to the elevated tanks,” he said. “We detected the problem by 9:15, and everything was on by 9:30 and pumping at normal levels.”

Madrid added the city would be having a technician come to Pecos from San Antonio to look at the telemetry system at the Walthall site, which was supposed to have alerted water department workers about the blown fuse before the tank overflowed.

“He’ll come down to look at the problem with the notification system,” Madrid said. In other action at Thursday’s meeting, City Manager Joseph Torres noted that Pecos Police Department Community Service Officer Mike Balog received a special award this week at the State Capitol in Austin for his work coordinating relief efforts in April of 2004 for victims of the San Martine Draw flood in Toyah.

“We were very proud to have a person nominated for the first time for such an award,” Torres said, adding that other awards were given out, including two to officers killed in the line of duty last year.

“We’re proud of Mike Balog for receiving such an award,” said Torres. “It was the first time I’ve ever seen Mike so nervous, but we’re very proud to have been able to represent Pecos among so many police officers.”

Pecos Economic Development Corp. president Mike Burkholder updated the board on the negotiations between the PEDC and the Texas Transportation Institute on reopening the former Smithers Tire Testing Center track east of Pecos.

“The council has been looking at the contract, and I’ll be going to Dallas next week hopefully to finish the deal,” Burkholder said.

The PEDC is working with the Texas Transportation Institute and Automotive Research Associates out of Albuquerque, N.M. to reopen the track, and are seeking federal funds to help fully refurbish the 42-year-old track. Council members were told last month a refurbished track could bring between 150 and 200 new jobs to the area.

Flores yet to take action on school vote recount

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board candidate David Flores has not yet filed to seek a recount of the May 7 election, after losing his bid to return to the school board by three votes.

Flores picked up 402 votes to 405 for school board president Billie Sadler in last Saturday’s election. Sadler and incumbent Paul Deishler, who received 542 votes, were tentatively returned to the board for new three-year terms.

School board members are scheduled to next Tuesday, May 17, to canvass the votes for the election, Deishler said on Thursday. However, Flores has until next Thursday, May 19, to ask for a recount the vote. As of late Thursday morning, P-B-T ISD secretary Tracey Shaw said Flores had not gone to her office to pick up the forms required to file a recount request.

Flores was elected to the school board in 2000, but lost his bid for a new three-year term in 2003. He placed third in balloting among people voting early in Saturday’s election, but finished first among people going to the polls on May 7, after the school district became embroiled in a controversy over elimination of the district’s Enhanced Program. In the early voting, Sadler received 257 votes to 193 for Flores. Deishler received the most votes during the early voting period, with 336, and picked up another 206 votes on Saturday, while Flores had 209 votes and Sadler picked up 148.

The board voted 4-3 on April 14 to eliminate the enhanced program, with both Sadler and Deishler voting in favor of eliminating it starting in August. The parental protests resulted in another board meeting on May 3, in which Deishler switched his vote to keep the enhanced program for the 2005-06 school year.

However, board member Steve Valenzuela, who voted to retain the program on April 14, voted to eliminate it during the May 3 meeting, and board member Crissy Martinez was absent. The 3-3 tie left the April 14 decision intact.

The school board was scheduled to meet on Thursday for their regular monthly meeting. While the Enhanced Program was not on the agenda, the board was scheduled to discuss the state-mandated Gifted and Talented Program during the meeting.

Chamber briefs on events upcoming around Rodeo

Staff Writer

Pecos Chamber of Commerce members were updated on events surrounding the West of the Pecos Rodeo, along with other activities both before and after the rodeo, during their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Michelle Workman of the Chamber’s Women’s Division told those at the meeting that the Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Nominees had participated in a Style Show this past Saturday at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“The girls sold more than 200 tickets and it was a huge success,” said Workman. Several businesses in town lend out their clothes so that the girls could model them, while others donated items that were given out as door prizes, according to Workman. “We want to thank everyone who helped make this style show a success,” she said.

Workman said that the Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants had held a bake sale at Beall’s recently to help defray some of their costs.

“They had lots of baked goods and they will be using those funds to help with the costs for their production number,” said Workman.

This year’s production number for the little girls will be “Grease.”

This weekend the girls will be helping out at the Relay For Life, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Martinez Field, south of Interstate 20, off East County Road.

“They’ll be handing out fruit and water to those walking,” said Workman.

Workman said that this would give the girls a chance to visit with everyone and get to know more people. “It’s also good practice for them,” she said.

There are 12 Golden Girl nominees this year. “The girls have been practicing their production number at the West Texas National Bank Lobby,” said Workman. “We won’t be able to get into the PHS auditorium until after May,” she said.

The pageants will be held on June 24, the week prior to the start of the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

Rodeo committee member Brenda McKinney told the group that plans for this year’s rodeo are coming along fine. “We’ve been busy getting our sponsors,” she said. McKinney said that the group has not leased a scoreboard yet for this year’s rodeo. “We’re thinking about just buying our own and paying it off within five years, instead of leasing it every year,” said McKinney. “Other than that, we’re just excited about this year’s rodeo.”

Night in Old Pecos committee chairman Debbie Thomas said that she has 15 people who have said that want a booth at the event this year. “We’re accepting bids for bands, karaoke and will have a talent show again this year,” said Thomas.

“We’re hoping everyone will participate in Night in Old Pecos,” she said.

The Fall Fair Board met recently and discussed plans for the Fall Fair scheduled for October.

“This year’s theme will be, ‘Count Your Blessings,’” said organizer Barbara Creager. “We have so many things to be thankful for,” she said.

The Modern Study Club will be in charge of all the poetry and a prose category has been added this year. “Last year, we added poetry and it was a huge success, so this year we’re adding another category,” said Creager.

Creager said that they needed more adds for the booklet that the committee puts out every year. Ads cost from $50 for a full page; $25 for half a page and $15 for a 1/4 page. The ads help pay for expenses incurred during the annual event.

Theme for this year’s parade is Wild Wild West. “It’s scheduled for June 29,” said organizer Elsa Palomino. “We just want to make it a bigger and better one,” she said. Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Dutchover told chamber members that every year the teachers gather for a day of training before school starts and this coming school year the training will be held in Pecos.

“We’re getting together with about six other school districts and we’ll be hosting them,” said Dutchover. “This will be great for Pecos, because all these people will be coming here.”

The event is scheduled for Aug. 10 and for more information individuals can contact the school district.

Town of Pecos City manager Joseph Torres and employees Jesus Silvas and Edgardo Madrid briefed the chamber on the Waha gas storage facility and alley clean-up situations.

Torres also told the group about the upcoming Memorial Weekend event planned. “We’re going to dedicate the skate park to two fallen local officers, Jaime Rodriguez and Johnny Matta,” said Torres.

Rodriguez was a Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force officer killed in a shootout in May of 2002, while Mata was among the first U.S. soldiers to die in the Iraq war in March of 2003. The skate park was a venture started by local Pecos Police Officer Mike Balog.

Red Bluff asked to help fund burning project

Staff Writer

Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members will study a proposal through the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District to seek a grant to help pay for burning salt cedars along the Pecos River, but made no commitment to provide matching funds for the project during their regular monthly meeting in Pecos on Tuesday.

Larry Brown, a retired extension service worker in both Texas and New Mexico, talked to the group about the plan that would go through the UPSWCD to seek a $900,000 grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the grant, which would require $300,000 in matching local funds.

“If it gets funded, the commitment is made. If not, then there is no commitment,” said Brown, who would serve as grant writer on the project. “Unless the grant is accepted, there is no commitment from the EPA.”

State and federal funds have been used during the past five years to kill off the salt cedar trees along the Pecos River through airborne spraying. While the project was successful, it’s left the river with several hundred miles of dead trees along its banks, as it winds its way between Red Bluff Lake and Girvin.

Brown added there is a proposal in the Texas Legislature to help fund the program, but it was not included in the Senate’s appropriation’s bill, and would have to be part of the House’s bill in order to have a chance of passage.

Additional matching funds for the project would come from Red Bluff’s seven sub-districts, while Brown said funds for additional spraying along the river might also come from the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Board. That spraying would include salt cedar’s on the Pecos River tributaries, and would cover 147 miles of river and 2,000 acres overall.

“I’m visiting with different groups, and I would like your input on what it would take to move the project along,” Brown said. Board members didn’t have any immediate comments on the plan, but managing director Randal Hartman said members would take a look at an upcoming revision to Brown’s grant proposal before making any decision on whether to commit district money to the matching portion of the grant.

“I’d rather see it and read it before I say if I’m for it or against it,” said board member Jay Lee, and Hartman said, “We’ll put it on the back burner for a couple of days and look at it when it comes in.”

The grant proposal took up most of the board’s May meeting. Members approved cash disbursements, receipts and accounts payable, along with the district’s fund balance report showing $352,220 in the bank.

Board members were also told Red Bluff Lake had 128,000 acre/feet of water at the start of May, down from 130,000 acre/feet in early April. “We haven’t used very much yet,” Lee said of the early part of the irrigation season along the Pecos River.

Hartman said Chinese and Japanese researchers working with Texas A&M were in Pecos recently as part of a study of the Pecos River’s salt content. He later added that while the district is expecting an ownership change at Sun West Salt Co., there was no new information to report on the Pecos River salt alleviation project.

The district may also set up a system at Red Bluff Lake to monitor the lake’s evaporation rate, Hartman told the board.

Warden reports prison incident minor

An incident earlier this week involving a guard and inmate at the Reeves County Detention Center was called a minor one by RCDC Warden Tony Garcia “We had a minor incident on Monday, but everything was handled internally and nobody was injured,” said Garcia, warden for the Unit I and II facilities at the prison.

Garcia said that while the prison still has a few vacancies, they are not shorthanded on guards at this time.

“We have the correct number of staff as required by the Statement of Work,” said Garcia. “Everything is going great.”

Relay for Life sets $35,000 fundraising goal

Raising funds for cancer research can be fun and this weekend several individuals and community members will gather at Martinez Field to combine fun and fund-raising. Relay for Life brings groups and individuals concerned about cancer together for a unified effort to fight back.

Former and current cancer patients, their families, businesses, civic organizations, and the public are invited to take part in this exciting team event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., Friday at Martinez Field.

“There will be 10 teams participating this year,” said Reeves-Loving County Relay for Life Chairperson Teresa Winkles.

Teams participating this year include: American Home Health; Austin Elementary School; Catholic Daughters; Reeves County Hospital; Pecos Nursing Home; Winkles M&W; Wal-Mart; Trans Pecos Bank; West Texas National Bank and the Lozano Family. “The emphasis this year for the American Cancer Society is colon cancer,” said Winkles. “We’ll be having a colon race.”

The group has planned a variety of activities for this year’s weekend event. “We’ll have lots of food and plenty of activities,” said Winkles.

The goal for this year is to raise $35,000. “We raised a little over $29,000 last year and hope to do better this year,” said Winkles.

Cancer survivors and caregivers will be recognized during the opening ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. They are invited to walk the first lap to celebrate their victory over cancer.

A special luminaria ceremony will be held during the Relay for Life to remember those lost to cancer and honor those who have survived.

Luminaries will be lit at 9 p.m. to represent those individuals, and may be purchased from any team member or at Martinez Field on Friday.

“If anyone wants to purchase a luminary they can also call Pecos Insurance and talk to Rosemary or call Winkles Trucks and talk to me,” said Winkles. “There is no set amount for this, it’s a gift from the heart.”

Team and track activities such as, cake walk, fruit eating contest, crazy hats, pajama lap and road to recovery race are just a few of the activities that will go on all night long. Events will kick off with the flag ceremony presented by the Girl Scout Troop #188. Awards for Best, Most Money by a team and individual and Most Spirited Team will be given out at the closing ceremony on Saturday at 9 a.m.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service.

For information on cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the web site at .

Villanueva receives summer scholarship

Ezra Villanueva, a 6th grader at Wallace Middle School in Kyle, was selected to receive a summer scholarship from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.

Villanueva was one of 120 chosen from over 265 applications submitted this year. The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented awarded Ezra with a $300 check toward the cost of the program she elected to attend this summer.

Villanueva has elected to attend an intensive dance program at The Pointe Dance Studio in San Marcos. The program will run the entire month of July and will consist of classes in ballet technique, pointe, partnering, jazz, musical theater, and nutrition, just to name a few.

Ezra is the daughter of Leslie Ontiveros of Kyle. Her father is Adrian Villanueva of San Marcos.

Her grandparents are Raymond and Mary Villanueva of San Marcos and Luis and Gloria Ontiveros of Pecos.

Villanueva enjoys dancing which include ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop and she enjoys playing the saxophone and piano. She also enjoys writing songs.

Villanueva would like to thank the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented for this honor.

Natividad completes Basic training

Airmen Basic Anjelica Natividad graduated Airforce Basic Military Training on April 22, from the 323rd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base.

She is attending Technical Training at Goodfellow A.F.B. in San Angelo, where she will receive training in the field of Network Intelligence Analysis.

Natividad is the daughter of Alvaro and Geneva Natividad.

Event planned to remember Carrasco

The Laura Recovery Center Foundation is asking the people of Balmorhea and the surrounding community to wear orange beads with pictures of missing teen Monica Carrasco during the week of May 23-27, Balmorhea’s High School graduation.

This year Monica would have graduated from high school and started a new life as a young woman in the community.

Carrasco disappeared on Oct. 2, 2003 from her aunt and uncle’s home at the intersection of Highway 17 and County Road 323 in Balmorhea. Their house is about halfway between Balmorhea and Balmorhea State Park on Highway 17.

Sometime between 11 p.m., on Oct. 1 and 6 a.m., on Oct. 2, Monica disappeared. If you were traveling on Highway 17 and passed their house between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the following morning, you m ay have noticed some small detail that did not seem unusual at the time, but it could be the missing piece in Monica’s disappearance.

If you have any information, even if you’re not sure it had any connection to Monica’s disappearance, call the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department at 432-445-4901 or the Laura Recovery Center at the toll-free number 866-898-5723.

Monica and Monica’s family need your help. Please, if you have any information about what happened to Monica, call the sheriff or the center.

Bessie Haynes raises book store funds

Bessie Haynes Elementary School PTO sponsored a fundraiser recently to raise money for the AR book store.

Winners of the fundraiser included; first prize, a Play Station Portable, went to Chad Evans; second prize, a Portable DVD Player, to Lauren Elliott; third prize, a Patio Set, to Libby Urias; fourth prize, a dinner for two and a movie, to Wesley Harpham and the fifth prize, an oil change to Maribel Salinas.

Class of ’42 reunion next week

The Class of 1942 will be having their class reunion on Saturday, May 21.

Registration will be held at the Pecos High School Cafeteria from 10-10:15 a.m.; welcome and recognition of classmates, 10:15-10:30 a.m.; class of ’42 and PHS Student Council members - timeline discussion from 10:30-11 a.m.; Dedication and unveiling of portrait from 11-11:30 a.m.; at 11:30 guest and alumni will tour the band hall and lunch on your own at noon.

From 2-4 p.m., the classmates will have Open House for PHS Alumni at the Swiss Clock Inn.

For more information contact Wilfred G. Owen at 661-832-3396 or by e-mail at .

Summer food program

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD and Balmorhea announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food Program in the two districts.

Meals will be provided in the P-B-T ISD at Crockett Middle School.

The Summer Food Program will run from May 30 until July 15 and will be closed on July 4.

Breakfast will be from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. and cost for adults will be $1.50.

Lunch will be from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., and cost for adults will be $3.

Meals will be served Monday through Friday.

Any child 18 years of age or younger may participate free of charge.

In the Balmorhea ISD, meals will be provided at the district’s cafeteria, 1st and El Paso, Balmorhea.

This program will run from June 1-June 30. Meals will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

People who are eligible to participate in the program must not be discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, or political belief.

Anyone who believes that they have been discriminated against should write immediately to: Director, Civil Rights Division, MC W-106, Texas Department of Human Services, P.O. Box 149030, Austin, Texas 78714-9030 or the Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Note: Discrimination complaints based on religion or political beliefs must be referred only to the Director, Civil Rights Division, and Texas Department of Human Services.

OC hosting conference on aging

Odessa College is hosting the 7th Annual West Texas Conference on Aging. The general public is invited to attend lectures scheduled throughout the day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19, in Deadrick Auditorium on the OC campus. Admission is $35 per person.

Updated information on ethics related topics including case studies focused on living arrangements, patient care and professional issues will be provided for those involved in caring for an aging individual.

Motivational trainer and management consultant Lettie England will present “Coping with the Caregiver Crisis in America,” and “No Easy Answers.” England has 17 years of experience as a social worker and is a certified family life educator with the National Council on Family Relations.

She has served as a continuing education instructor and guest lecturer at UT Permian Basin, and as president of England Enterprises, she conducts in-service training and workshops on various subjects. England is also the author of the booklet, “Get Your House in Order.”

Other workshops to be presented include, “Nutrition Strategies” by registered dietician Marcheta Jochimsen and “Documenting for Court Testimony” by juris doctor and licensed paramedic William E. Gandy of Albany.

For more information on the conference, contact Vicki Watson, director of allied health at 335-6539.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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