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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Council given info on landfill takeover plans

Resuming in-house operation of trash collection services will save the Town of Pecos City nearly $100,000 over the next three years and over $150,000 a year after that, City Council members were told during their regular meeting Thursday night at City Hall.

Council members heard a presentation by Martin Arreguy on the operation of the Type I and Type IV landfills owned by the city, and the benefits of resuming city control over trash collection services for the first time since the early 1990s. Arreguy, who supervises the city’s sanitation operations, made the presentation in advance of a vote on the proposal by the council that is tentatively scheduled for next month.

“We’ll be saving an immense amount of money, if we don’t have to contract it out anymore,” Arreguy said of the plan to end the city’s current trash collection contract with Duncan Disposal.

Pecos originally contracted out trash collection services in the early 1990s when state officials refused to give the city an arid exemption permit for a new landfill trench. The high cost of digging a new trench with liners due to the lack of the permit led the city to contract for the removal of its garbage to a regional landfill in Odessa.

However, the state changed its position five years ago and allowed the city to resume landfill operations with an arid exemption permit. It allows trash pits without liners due to the lack of rain in the area that might cause runoff from the landfill to leach into the water table.

Arreguy said the current Type I landfill trench being used by the city is about 90 percent full, and a new pit currently is being build. City utilities director Edgardo Madrid said the construction is being done in-house, at a savings of about $240,000.

“We’re using dirt from the excavation to cover the trash in the existing landfill,” Madrid said.

Arreguy presented the council with a spreadsheet that showed the city’s current contract with Duncan was costing $624,180 a year, while Duncan paid the city $244,550 to dump trash at the city’s landfill. “You can see we’re paying them a little over $400,000,” he said. Duncan’s contract expires in early December. If the city takes over operations, they will have to buy two trucks, and assume employment of the workers to operate the vehicles, while inheriting the nearly 1,800 dumpsters Duncan uses locally. Arreguy estimated the cost at $370,615 annually, which would be $31,680 less than the current deal.

“It would be about $95,000 for three years,” he said of the savings, while adding, “You’ll see in the fourth year what the benefit to the city will be. The numbers will jump substantially.”

He said after the third year, debt service for the cost of the changeover no longer is included, and the city would save $155,789 over the cost of the current contract.

“These aren’t numbers we made up. We did a lot of study,” he said.

City accountant Mark Rushing said the numbers include insurance for three vehicles used for clean up, along with repairs for dumpsters and for the vehicles. “What is before you is the cost-benefit for bringing it in-house,” he said.

Arreguy also talked about using a transfer building at the landfill site for a new recycling center, to replace the old one on West Second Street that was destroyed by fire last month. Along with paper recycling, he also said the city is looking at buying transfer vehicles to recycle tires and white goods. The items would have to be shipped out of town, but he said the city could get reimbursement from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “The benefits in the initial stage won’t be big, but we’d be increasing space at our landfill,” Arreguy said.

Rushing said the presentation, and the proposed vote on bringing the trash collection in-house, were being done now so the city would have time to get their own operation going before the contract with Duncan ends in December.

“If we place an order, it takes six months to get the vehicles here,” he said, adding that the city was also asking Duncan for a new contract proposal, if the council opts against taking over trash collection operations.

Earlier in the meeting, Arreguy told the council they were trying to work out an agreement between the city, hospital district and county to clean up properties on the delinquent tax rolls, including the demolition of condemned buildings. He said the city and school district already were in agreement on the plan.

“We’re going to do it no matter what,” he said. “We’re going forward and would like to have the other entities join us.

The four groups would share demolition costs, along with any money from future sale of the properties. “If we can get the county and the hospital to join us, everyone is going to save money,” he said.

Arreguy also said the city could recoup the cost of property cleaned up by his crews. He said a lien of $8,000 was placed on a Cherry Street property that had been cleaned up by the city, after the owner failed to clean the site on his own and then tried to sell the land once the clean-up efforts were completed.

Residents won’t see effect of higher rate schedules

Ambulance fee adjustments by the Pecos EMS service will mean higher costs on the books, but should result in lower costs for local residents, Pecos City Council members were told on Thursday.

The council approved the new fees at the recommendation of EMS chief Dennis Thorp, during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall. Under the plan, the cost for the services provided by the EMS will go up on paper, but Thorp said Reeves County residents using the service should actually see their payments drop, while at the same time removing bad debt cases from the EMS Service’s accounting sheet.

“We’re leaving money on the table in certain places,” Thorp said, referring to the maximum amount insurance companies will compensate the ambulance service, versus what the EMS was charging its users. He said the EMS would raise its fees to the maximum level, even though some insurance companies will compensate the service at lower rates. At the same time, city finance director Mark Rushing told the council the higher fees wouldn’t affect local residents.

“The individual taxpayers won’t have to pay the co-pay, or any portion of the co-pay,” he said. “These increases will not have a negative impact on our taxpayers.”

Thorp said the change was being made as part of the EMS’s changeover to a new bookkeeping and collection system, while he and Rushing told the council the new fees have been approved by the Inspector General’s office for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We will waive the co-pay to city and county residents, but we’ll bill out-of-town people full price without the co-pay relief,” Thorp said.

“Right now we bill out $300,000 and collect $140,000,” Thorp said, referring to insured people who use EMS. For those without insurance who make cash payments, he said they normally collect less than two percent of their total billings.

“We only collected $1,500 out of $90,000 in cash payments,” he said. “So this makes our bottom line look better.”

Thorp said most out-of-county EMS calls involve highway accidents on Interstates 10 and 20 handled by Pecos EMS. He said the change would not apply to county residents in the southern part of the county who are handled by Balmorhea EMS and operate under a separate financial system.

Groups reportedly seek deal on city land near RCH

Land owned by the Town of Pecos City along Interstate 20 near Reeves County Hospital is the subject of two development proposals, city council members were told during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall.

The council ended up tabling any action on the item, pending a study of state law by City Attorney Scott Johnson, to see if the proposed use of the land could be discussed in closed session.

Council members at their Feb. 9 meeting had opted not to sell the 27-acre section to the south and west of the hospital to the Pecos Economic Development Corp., at the request of president Mike Burkholder. He had told the council he had one group looking at a section of the land for construction of a motel, and wanted title to the land to make it easier to arrange a deal.

On Thursday, city utilities director Edgardo Madrid said two different groups have made proposals for the area in the past two weeks, though the city has not received a full proposal from the second group they were contacted about the property.

Burkholder was also at Tuesday’s meeting and asked the city not to reveal the plans either group had for the land.

“If the council is going to consider that, it should be in executive session,” he said. Johnson said while any bid on the property would have to be done in open session, he would check the law to see if the proposals could be discussed behind closed doors. “Mainly because if we do it in open session, it would place them at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.

The council did approve the same of property at 810 E. Ninth St. to Ramon Armendariz, at a cost of $800. Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD tax collector Lydia Preito, who also handles city tax collections, said the school district and hospital already had approved the sale, and the land was to be used for a mobile home after the existing house was torn down.

Council members also approved the second reading of an ordinance adjusting the water rate increases for the city of Barstow, approved the monthly accounts payable, totaling 4574,890, along with the monthly Juvenile Probation, Municipal Court and the 2005 audit reports.

Auditor Dan Painter said the city had its best report in five or six years in 2005, in terms of corrections required, and that city employees were getting better at keeping their finances updates on computer.

“I’ve been here several years, and this is the cleanest, best audit we’ve had,” said councilman Gerald Tellez.

The council also set May 13 as the date for the city election, and set early voting for May 1-9 at the Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak St. Election judge Debbie Thomas told the council that state law reduced the early voting period from 10 to seven days, but mandated that at least two of those days polls remain open for 12 hours.

“We have proposed the first day and the last day, because those are generally the best voting days,” Thomas said. The council also designated the Reeves County Courthouse as the central counting station for the election.

Council members approved March 11 as the day for a youth concert in Maxey Park to coincide with spring break for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools. Cothrun Street will be closed in the park during the event, and city Parks Department director Tom Rivera said the new park sign under construction at Cothrun and Palmer streets would be dedicated on March 11 at 11 a.m.

Rivera also told the council he was looking at acquiring some new animals for the Maxey Park Zoo. “Right now we’re a little thin on animals,” he said, while adding he has talked with an area rancher about donating some native animals, including a buffalo, for display at the zoon.

Ramirez seeking commissioner’s job in Precinct 4

An individual who was born and raised in Saragosa, is a longtime Pecos resident and wants to become an active part of the community is seeking the position of Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 4.

Alex Ramirez has announced that he is seeking the position of Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 4. He is challenging incumbent “Hivi” Rayos, along with two other candidates, Ramiro “Ram” Guerra and Conchita M. Hernandez, in the March 7 Democratic primary election.

Ramirez is the son of Frank “Pancho” and Natividad Ramirez of Saragosa and is married to Norma Herrera Ramirez. The couple have three children, Katherine, a sophomore at Pecos High School, Krystle a seventh grader at Crockett Middle School and Kevin Ramirez a first grader at Austin Elementary.

Ramirez is currently employed at Pecos High School as a custodian. “If elected I will make my job a full time job. I will make no promises to anyone,” said Ramirez. “I will work hard and together with the commissioners court to make Pecos a better place to live. I will make decisions based on what is best for the county,” he said.

Ramirez said that he is going to start attending the commissioners court meetings to prepare himself for the difficult tasks ahead.

“I will be honest and fair to everyone. I know Pecos is not a bad place to live, although we have made it, but we can improve it,” said Ramirez. “So let’s work together for a better tomorrow,” he said.

Weather Service sets drills for tornadoes

Local residents probably shouldn’t be alarmed if they hear sirens going off on Tuesday. The National Weather Service of Midland office will be conducting tornado drills in both Pecos and Barstow, to allow the public to prepare for the 2006 severe weather season.

The drill in Pecos is scheduled between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon, while the Barstow drill will take place late Tuesday afternoon.

The first severe weather of 2006 passed through the area Friday night, but no warnings were issued by the National Weather Service. Tuesday’s forecast calls for party cloudy skies, but thunderstorms are in the forecast for the area on Thursday.

As part of Tuesday’s drill, the Reeves County Emergency Management Office will be asking local governments and agencies, religious institutions, health providers, school districts, daycares, correctional facilities, public service providers, private businesses, and general public to participate and take this opportunity to practice their tornado plans.

For more information contact the Emergency Management Office at 432-447-3542.

Barstow Volunteer Fire Chief Armando Ortega said the tornado sirens in Barstow would be tested at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Ortega said that the tornado warning signal in Barstow is three 30-second blasts of the siren - warning that a tornado has been spotted in the vicinity. Two 30-second blats is the signal that the area is under a tornado watch.

While the Pecos drill will be held Tuesday morning, the NWS said the exact time of the drill will not be divulged in order to preserve a small degree of the “surprise factor” that is inherent with a true tornado warning. Public information statements will be provided in the coming weeks to remind the public to begin preparing for the drill. These statements can be found on the NWS Midland homepage at . The public information statements will also be broadcast daily on NOAA All Hazards Radio.

The warning will be for the entire Midland NWS coverage area. Warnings will be issued for Andrews, Borden, Brewster, Crane, Culberson, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Howard, Jeff Davis, Loving, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Scurry, Terrell, Upton, Ward and Winkler counties.

The goal of the tornado drill is to involve as much of the public as possible so individuals can practice what to do during an actual weather emergency. The test tornado warning will be issued just like a real tornado warning by forecasters on duty that day. It will go out via routinely issued text products as well as across the airwaves on NOAA’s All Hazards Radio commonly known as Weather Radio. Tones and alarms will sound alerting individuals that the test tornado warning has been issued and to take cover just as one would during a real tornado. Some of your local Radio and TV stations and Emergency Management offices may also relay this warning in your area.

In the event of adverse weather on the planned day of the drill, it will be performed on the next available good weather day.

Check local radio and television stations, or cable outlet to see if they will air this practice warning. For more information contact, Lora Mueller or Rebecca Gould at 432-563-5006 or via e-mail at or .

Jurors indict man who fled area with teen

A Pecos man who had fled Texas to Mexico with a local teen last year was indicted by the 143rd District Court grand jury on Wednesday.

Jose Herberto Garcia, 21, was charged with aggravated sexual assault and his bond was set at $25,000. Garcia was apprehended at the Port of Entry in Presidio last November, after earlier turning himself in to Mexican law enforcement officials.

Town of Pecos City Police Chief Clay McKinney said that Garcia had been in a Mexican prison before he was handed over to Pecos Police officers at the Port of Entry, two months after the incident began.

McKinney said Garcia was placed in Criminal Justice Center and later transferred to the Reeves County Jail.

Garcia had been sought by authorities after the parents of the 13-year-old girl requested that they look for the couple.

Garcia and the girl disappeared from her parents’ Pecos home on Sept. 7. The whereabouts of the couple were unknown until Oct. 27, when Garcia contacted Mexican law enforcement authorities and told them he and the seventh grade girl were in Durango, which is located about 250 miles southwest of Monterey, Mex.

At that time McKinney said, “We had the defendant Jose Garcia telephone asking if authorities had warrants for him in Texas.” “That’s when we found out where he was at.” Garcia turned himself into law enforcement officials in Durango, but was released pending a determination on whether he was a U.S. citizen or a Mexican national.

The investigation revealed that Garcia was a U.S. Citizen and the Pecos Police Department started extradition procedures with the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

The juvenile was reunited with her mother in Juarez on Oct. 29, the day after police received the report she had been found in Durango. She was turned over to her family by Mexican child service agency officials, and then brought back to Pecos.

Other individuals indicted last Wednesday include:

Roger Matta, 20, and Adam Huertas, 18, both charged with aggravated assault. The indictment stated that on or about the Oct. 23, 2005, Matta and Huertas did then and there intentionally, or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to Juan Serrano, by striking him about the head and face area with a bottle. Bond was set at $25,000 on both men.

Alberto Lira Jr., 17, and Theresa Lucrieta Strain, 23, charged with credit card abuse. On or about Nov. 1, 2005, the indictment says Train and Lira fraudulently used a Trans Pecos Bank Debit Card, without consent of the cardholder, Martin Muniz, to obtain benefits. Bond on both Lira and Strain was set at $5,000.

Arturo Franco Jimenez, 41, charged with possession of a controlled substance. On or about Sept. 2, 2005, Jimenez, did then and there intentionally or knowingly possess a controlled substance, cocaine, in an amount of less than one gram, by aggregate weight, including any adulterants and dilutants.

Jeannette Florez, 27, charged with possession of a controlled substance. On or about July 6, 2005, Florez, did then and there knowingly possess, with intent to deliver, a controlled substance, cocaine, in an amount of four grams or more but less than 200 grams, including any adulterants and dilutants.

BPA students participate in a conference

Top students from Balmorhea ISD will be attending the Business Professionals of America 2006 State Leadership Conference, “BPA….A Texas Giant,” in Lubbock, Texas, March 1-4.

Balmorhea High School chapter members, Karina Beltran, Sabrina Lopez, Shaun Baeza, Rodney Fuentez, and Jose Rodriguez will join over 2,000 other conference delegates from across the state to participate in state level business skill competitions, general sessions, and the state officer candidate campaigns and elections. Besides having the opportunity to excel, they’ll experience Lubbock as they visit the city’s exciting sites.

“Students from the Texas Association’s Regional Leadership Conference have qualified to participate at the state level conference. The conference emphasizes business workforce education and training which members of the local chapter of Business Professionals of America at Balmorhea High School have received,” said chapter advisor, Mary Garcia, who teaches Business. These students will be competing in Parliamentary Procedure, as a team.

Business Professionals of America is a national organization for middle school, high school, and college students preparing for careers in business and office occupations. The organization’s activities and programs complement classroom instruction by giving students practical experience through application of the skills learned at school. Business Professionals of America acts as a cohesive agent in the nationwide networking of education and business and industry, and is contributing to the preparation of a world-class workforce through the advancement of leadership, citizenship, academic, and technological skills.

Ash Wednesday service times set

West Texas Catholic Communities will be sponsoring several Ash Wednesday services, this Wednesday at area churches.

At 6 a.m., at Our Lady of Refuge Parish, Barstow, Mass with distribution of Ashes.

At 7 a.m., St. Catherine Parish inPecos will hold Mass with distribution of Ashes; 10:30 a.m., Pecos Nursing Home, Mass with distribution of Ashes; at noon, St. Catherine Parish, Pecos, Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Ashes; 4 p.m., Santa Rosa Catholic Church, Pecos, Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Ashes; 6 p.m., Christ the King Parish, Balmorhea, Liturgy of the word with distribution of Ashes; 7 p.m., Santa Rosa Parish, Pecos, Mass with distribution of Ashes and 7 p.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Saragosa, Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Ashes.

Modern Study Club studies Turkey and their culture

The Modern Study Club met on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the home of Joyce and Donald Morton, in Pecos for an International Affairs Department program entitled, “Turkey a Remote Land, But Important to Us,” planned and presented by Nan Cate, Department Chairman. She chose for the thought-quote: “These went ahead and waited for us a Troas. We ourselves sailed from Phillippi after the Passover season, and five days later rejoined them at Troas, where we spent a week.” - Saul or Tarsus Holy Bible: Acts 20:5-6.

Mrs. Cate gave many interesting facts about Turkey and some of the highlights follow below.

Turkey to most people is a far away and remote country, but this ancient country has influenced western life in the past and still plays a part in the world today.

Turkey is a friend of the United States, belongs to NATO and usually sports American foreign policy. It was once Christian, in fact was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church at Constantinople, but with an invasion of Arabs, became Moslem though freedom of religion is still permitted.

Turkey is of interest to Christians, being the birthplace of Saint Paul and the destination of his missionary journeys to spread Christianity. It was also the land that Abraham left to take up his journey.

Constantinople, located in both Asia and Europe, was once the trade crossroads. Civilization began in Turkey and it is believed that was the site of the first use of iron. It is a large country, somewhat larger than Texas, surrounded by seas, but largely a vast plateau that is mostly dry.

The majority of farmers in Turkey are women and their parliament now includes women. Turkey is ranked fourth for the longest hours worked per day by their people. Turkey now has public education where previously it had been through religious schools.

During the 12 to 16 centuries, Turkey was an Empire, controlling the Anatolian plateau, northern Africa, including Egypt and the Balkan states up to and including part of Austria. But by the nineteenth century, it had lost much of its territories and was called “The Sick Man of Europe.” Today, Turkey is confined to Anatolian plateau. It has petitioned to join the European Union and will likely be approved to join in the near future.

The United States is fortunate to have Turkey as a friend with a democratic government and people who look to the west for friendship.

President Lena Harpham presided. During opening ceremonies Nan Cate led the Club Collect and the pledges to the United States of America and Texas flags were led by Catherine Travland, as those in attendance repeated all in unison.

Secretary Joyce Morton read the minutes of the previous meeting and treasurer Betty Lee gave a statement of club finances.

Margie Williamson, Scholarship Chairman, reported that Vanessa Valeriano had been selected as The Modern Study Club candidate for competition for the 2006 Alma Van Sickle Scholarship presented by the Western District of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. She also reported concerning Lily Ana Valdez, the AVSS recipient for 2005.

It was decided the club would have a bake-less bake sale for the one missed last Fall and plan a Spring sale for March 24, at Trans Pecos Bank in support of the 2006 Modern Study Club Scholarship for a Pecos High School Senior and other club projects.

Joyce Morton told that the annual reports due to Western District, to be postmarked by Feb. 1, were almost finished and ready to be mailed.

The club voted to donate $50 to the First Christian Church for the generosity in letting the club use their lovely parlor for the meetings of the organization.

Hostesses Iris Reddick and Paula Fuller served delicious refreshments to the 11 club members present.

Marriages and Divorces

Editor’s Note: Marriage and divorce records are public record and may be accessed by anyone. All marriage records are kept in the Reeves County Clerk’s office, while divorce records can be located in the District Clerk’s Office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Marriages for December 2005, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office. Victor Manuel Regalado Ruado and Guadalupe N. Marruffo.

Robert Hidalgo and April Faye Ryan.

Gregorio Gomez Barcenas and Mercy Hidalgo.

Oscar Vincent Rodriguez and Kelsie Lynn Gamboa.

Arturo Saenz Jr. and Erica Enriquez.

Alonzo Valenzuela Jr. and Natalie Evaro.

Russell William Smith Jr. and Malerie A. Morales.

Marriages for January 2006, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office.

Rafael P. Corrales Jr. and Esequiela L. Martinez.

Mark Anthony Corrales and Olivia Perez Marruffo.

Divorces for December 2005, as filed with the Reeves County District’s Clerk’s Office.

Traci Dawn Castillo and Victor E. Castillo Jr.

Patricia S. Fuentes and Oscar Fuentes.

Gregory Borland and Teresa Borland.

Divorces for January 2006, as filed with the Reeves County District Clerk’s Office.

Dana F. Valdez and Arnulfo J. Valdez.

Gustavo Villegas and Myra Villegas.

Brandye D’Ann Crider and Christopher Lee Crider.

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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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