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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, March 21, 2006

Council seeks bids for land alongside I-20

Town of Pecos City Council members voted to advertise for bids for a section of land along Interstate 20 near Reeves County Hospital, and approved a new policy for guard duty at the Criminal Justice Center, during their regular meeting Thursday morning at City Hall.

An executive session took up 35 minutes of the hour meeting, after which the council opted to advertise for bids on the land, which is located between I-20 and the hospital west of Texas Street. Two groups reportedly have expressed interest in the site as the location for a new motel, but there was no mention of the possible bidders following Thursday’s closed-door session.

The motion by councilman Frank Sanchez called for bids on the land, but with deed restrictions and with a specific time frame for development of the land to take place.

The land item was one of two discussed during executive session. The second, to discuss/consider the position of senior accountant/internal auditor, was tabled for a later meeting.

The guard duty policy involves guards at the CJC and guards in the employment of the city, Police Chief Clay McKinney told the council.

“Sometimes we have to hire officers from other agencies,” he said, as part of the city’s contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Service to house federal prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing. Along with guards at the CJC, the city also has to provide guards if the inmates are hospitalized for any reason.

The new policy will have to be read and then signed by the guards, who will receive one copy of the document, while another will be placed in their personnel file.

“Will it eliminate all liability? No, but it’s a good positive step towards eliminating part of it,” McKinney said.

Council members also agreed to a resolution authorizing the filing of a grant application for funding at the city’s recycling center, and approved a new appointment to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, after a discussion on whether or not council had right of approval on the position.

City Utilities director Edgardo Madrid said the grant with the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission, would pay for part of the salary for an employee at the center, which is relocating to the city’s landfill after the former site at Second Street and Broadway Court was destroyed by fire in January.

“Bobby Tucker (with the PBRPC) said we should start working on a resolution and the planning commissioner will set aside the money,” Madrid told the council.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a problem in the past with getting grant for the recycling center,” said Stafford, and the measure was then approved.

In the zoning commission discussion, the council agreed to Stafford’s selection of postmaster Kenneth Russell for the vacancy on the board, but the mayor balked as a suggestion by Sanchez that the open position be advertised by the city before the council makes any appointment.

“This is an appointment by the mayor,” said Stafford, adding that it did not require council approval. City attorney Scott Johnson said he wasn’t sure about the rule on the zoning and planning commission, but added, “If it’s a mayoral appointment it doesn’t require council action.”

Council members also approved accounts payable, the monthly juvenile report and the municipal court report during the meeting.

While discussing the bills received by the city, councilman Michael Benavides asked about the cost of new traffic signs. Madrid said the signs were for work the city did on a sewer line at Eddy and Washington street, and were needed because the work was done on a state-maintained street, which required warning signs to meet Texas Department of Transportation specifications.

Madrid said the city is also planning to do sewer line work in the near future on Third Street, which also will require the TxDOT signs. He said that work would await approval of a new grant for the repairs, which the city should know about within the next month.

RCDC visitor gets long-term prison stay

Actions taken by a visitor to an inmate at the Reeves County Detention Center, landed the man in jail himself, sentenced to an 11 year term for attempting to smuggle drugs into the prison.

Fernando Villareal, 23, of San Juan, was tried before a jury for possession of cocaine on Monday in the State 143rd Judicial District Court in Reeves County. After the jury found Villareal guilty of possession of cocaine, the jury sentenced him to serve a sentence of 11 years in prison and assessed him a $10,000 fine.

The range of punishment was from a minimum of two years up to a maximum of 20 years. District Judge Bob Parks approved the verdict and formally sentenced the defendant on March 13.

The incident occurred on Sept. 5, 2005, at the Reeves County Detention Center at the time when Villareal was attempting to visit an inmate at the facility. The cocaine was found in the visitor’s restroom shortly after the defendant left the restroom. Other contraband recovered by the RCDC staff at the time included methamphetamine and diet pills.

Thereafter, the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the incident and RCDC staff provided the results of their investigation to sheriff’s deputies. Villarreal was arrested and transported to the Reeves County Jail where he remained in custody up to the date of the trial.

“This sentence was well deserved,” said District Attorney Randy Reynolds, who prosecuted the case before the jury. “The alert actions by Correctional Officers Tracy Ramirez and Daniel Marruffo resulted in the discovery of the contraband and illegal substances and this sentence is the direct result of not only the initial discovery, but of the quick assistance by several additional staff members and the excellent work in the follow up internal investigation by Lieutenant Rey Muniz of the RCDC.

“Lieutenant Muniz worked tirelessly since the discovery of the contraband and through his efforts and with the assistance of Lieutenant Michael Mondragon, the truth was discovered and the evidence was made ready for trial,” said Reynolds.

“The entire staff at RCDC involved with this case presented themselves as trained professionals who were anxious to see justice served. It was a pleasure working with them in trying this case,” said Reynolds.

“I appreciate the citizens of Reeves County who, when they received a jury summons, appear, serve and render justice, as this jury did,” he said.

Delay causes commissioners to find new colonia grant rep

Reeves County Commissioners agreed to rescind the authorization given to an Odessa firm to submit a Colonia EDAP Grant Application to the Office of Rural Community Affairs on behalf of the county and give it to another firm, during their regular meeting on Monday at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Grant Works was designated by commissioners to handle the application, after the rescinded the adopted resolution on that grant that named Don Bonifay as the applicant on behalf of the county.

“This action will rescind authorization to Bonifay to submit the application on behalf of Reeves County,” said County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Commissioners cited a lack of action by Bonifay as the reason for his losing authorization. Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Alvarado said that the court had passed the authorization in June of last year.

“The time has exceeded on this and we need to move forward to submit the authorization for Grant Works for that submission,” said Alvarado.

Last year, commissioners adopted a resolution to submit a Colonia EDAP Grant Application to the Office of Rural Community Affairs on behalf of Reeves County for sewer service connections on private property located in Reeves County, in conjunction with the Town of Pecos City, and take appropriate action to prepare and submit the Colonia EDAP Grant Application.

“The first action we need to take is to rescind the authorization given to Bonifay and then follow up with another motion to give authorization to Grant Works,” said Galindo.

Bonifay, a grant writer out of Odessa, updated the group last June on the grant application and a public hearing, which was held to discuss the needs of Reeves County.

Bonifay told the group that they had held a public hearing on May 17, 2005, to receive inputs from the community on the needs of Reeves County.

At that meeting, Galindo made the motion to approve the grant application and to list five specific projects including one: potable water for north-western part of Reeves County, specifically the area behind B&B Wreckers; adequate sewage system for Saragosa; adequate sewer system for Brogado; adequate sewage system for Saragosa and target the Verhalen and Valley Farms area, for adequate and potable water and sewage system.

In other action on Tuesday, commissioners discussed roof repairs at Reeves County Courthouse. Alvarado said that they had requested proposals, professional services for the repairs.

“Crenshaw and Associates came and looked at the roof and gave us an estimate,” said Alvarado. “Since then, we asked Mr. (county auditor Lynn) Owens for some financial information to fund the cost of the project,” he said.

Owens said that it was going to be fairly expensive.

“We could amend the budget, go to a local bank or issue certificates of bonds,” said Owens.

Galindo said that the estimate was in the amount of $200,000.

“They brought it down a little, so it was something like $198,000,” said Alvarado.

“What we could do is get a requests for proposals and then when we get exact cost, take it from there,” said Owens. “You do have to have an engineer stamp on it,” he said.

Owens said that they would need to advertise for an engineer.

“If we could advertise it as a package, have someone design it, build it and stamp it,” said Galindo.

Owens said that they would need to advertise for the engineering primarily.

Galindo made a motion that they put together a request for proposals for repairs and engineering services separately.

The group discussed a survey proposal done for the Balmorhea Bridge and for Interstate 20/285 Quadrant.

Commissioner Alvarado said that they had requested legal advice on the Balmorhea Bridge boundary issue.

“This is something we ran into, a right of way issue at Toyah bridge and we need to resolve this,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado said that they would need $3,188 to do a boundary survey on the Toyah Bridge. The group approved doing a survey on the Toyah Bridge to figure out the boundary, but tabled action on the Interstate 20/285 Quadrant.

“We ran into the same problem on the Interstate 20/285 Quadrant,” said Alvarado.

Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera said that they had done a survey on the Interstate 20/285 Quadrant a few years ago.

“I think we still have that survey,” he said.

“Roy Case, from Jal, N.M., was here at the time and did the survey,” said Galindo. “We need to find out if we still have the survey and what it details, before we take any further action,” he said.

Reeves County Librarian Sally Perry talked to the group about a program that other libraries are using for their internet users. “We just have a lot of people that come in to the library to use the computers and they change the icons, the screensaver and some even make them freeze up,” said Perry.

Perry said that they had recommended this program to her, to prevent things like this happening.

“The program is called Deep Freeze, by Foronics,” said Perry.

“This is for public libraries,” she said.

Cost for the program is $491 a year and would include the 15 computer stations at the library and the three staff computers.

Galindo requested that Perry find out more information about the program and bring it back to the commissioners.

Chamber updated on Golden Girl, rodeo event plans

Contestants for the Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant have signed up and plans for the West of the Pecos Rodeo are coming along great, according to organizers of both events.

The events were topics of discussion at the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting, held Tuesday at noon at the Senior Citizen Center.

“This year there will be 18 Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants and six Golden Girl nominees,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson.

West of the Pecos Rodeo President Joe Keese told the group that they have finalized things with PRCA and are now going out to look for sponsors for the rodeo, which will be held in late June this year.

“We’d like to know right away if anybody would like to be a sponsor, a business or an individual,” said Keese. “Box seats should be going out on the first of April, also,” he said.

Keese said that this year’s Tejano entertainment would be David Lee Garza.

“We’ve raised the price of tickets up by $1, this is the first time in five years,” he said.

“Costs are up, including the price of fuel, so we’re trying to squeeze a little bit more.”

Keese said that the committee is working on acquiring a scoreboard, something the rodeo did without last year.

“It’s very expensive to lease one, so we are thinking about just buying one,” he said. “If we do we’ll need to train someone in town to be the scorekeeper.”

Gholson said that they have talked to four carnivals about setting up in Pecos during Rodeo Week.

“This is something we had discussed at the last meeting,” said Gholson. “Four carnivals have contacted us and said that they will be available during those days.”

The group is hoping to bring in a carnival during the rodeo.

“They’ll have it gated and we’ll sell the wristbands, which we’ll get a percentage of,” she said. “We do have some of the start up money.”

Gholson told the group that she had been contacted by Little League representative Alan Ballard about hosting a reception for members of Pony League that had participated in the Pony League World Series.

“They have invited all those members to come back to Pecos and they will be honored on opening day of Little League,” said Gholson.

The members who participated in the 1971 Pony League World Series will be made honorary members and Little League Organizers wanted to plan a luncheon for them, according to Gholson.

“They invited those that participated on the team and the coaches,” said Gholson.

Chamber member Brenda McKinney said that she thought this was something that chamber members should be involved in.

“They’re bringing people back to the community and I think we should give them a big welcome,” she said.

Chamber president Jimmy Dutchover made a motion to donate $500 and have a local restaurant cater and host the event for the Little League.

The Texas Historical Commission selected Sonora as the new headquarters for the Texas Pecos Trail Region, the ninth region to join the Texas Heritage Trails Program, the THC’s-award-winning heritage tourism initiative.

“We were hoping to get chosen, but Sonora really did work hard for this,” said board member Venetta Seals.

“They were very gracious and did say that this was the office for the region and that we were always invited,” she said.

Hill wins recount for Pct. 2 runoff

Incumbent commissioner Norman Hill will face challenger Gabriel Martinez in the April 11 runoff for Reeves County Commissioner, after a recount held on Tuesday afternoon yielded no new results.

“We did the recount, but the numbers came out the same again this time,” said Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.

Precinct 2 challenger Alvesia “Tita” Tarin requested the recount after the March 7 Democratic primary elections, in which she finished three votes behind Hill, who is seeking a second four-year term as commissioner.

In the Precinct 2 race, Martinez received 281 votes, while Hill received 222 votes and Tarin 219 votes. She requested the recount last Thursday with county Democratic Party chairman Bobby Dean.

Florez said that the new voting machines worked really well, since the numbers remained the same. Tuesday’s election was the first held with the new voting equipment, which replaced the punch card ballots that were outlawed at the end of 2005.

“These machines are really good and the results were the same,” she said.

The race between Martinez and Hill is one of three runoffs county voters will cast ballots on in the April 11 election. Voters in Precinct 4 will also decide their runoff race for commissioner, while all county Democratic voters will have a chance to decide on the outcome of the county judge’s race.

Al Gomez finished first in a five-person field in the March 7 election, with 887 votes to 742 for Sam Contreras, who placed nearly 300 votes ahead of third place Grace Jaso Renteria. In the Precinct 4 race, challenger Ramiro “Ram” Guerra finished first, with 315 votes, while incumbent Gilberto “Hivi” Rayos, who is seeking his third term as commissioner, picked up 164 votes. Rayos beat out Conchita M. Hernandez by 23 votes for second place and earned a spot in the April 11 election.

Along with the three local races, voters will also be deciding the runoff election for U.S. Senator, between Barbara Ann Radnofsky and Gene Kelly for the right to challenge Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, and for lieutenant governor, where Maria Luisa Alvarado and Benjamin Z. Grant will face off next month.

All but one local candidate ran in the Democratic primary on March 7. The winner of the race between Gomez and Contreras will face Robert Hanks, who was unopposed in the Republican primary, in the general election in November.

Bragg is final candidate to file before May election deadline

City and school elections will have contested races in May for voters in Pecos, but the Reeves County Hospital District Board election will see its three incumbents returned to office, after no challengers filed to enter the race before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

Mark Bragg, owner of the Got Laundry? laundrimat on South Eddy Street, filed just prior to the deadline to run for Pecos City Council, joining incumbents Michael Benavides and Angelica Valenzuela. Bragg’s filing came a few hours after Dick Alligood, owner of Oilfield Phone Service filed to challenge Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford for her position. Stafford has held for the past four years and for 10 of the past 12 years.

Meanwhile, Valenzuela’s husband, Steve, opted not to see a new term on the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board, but incumbent Amy Montgomery Miller and three others will be seeking the two available three-year terms on the board in the May 13 election.

Along with Miller, challengers Vanessa Simmons, John Grant and Ramiro “Ron” Garcia are seeking the school board posts. Miller was first elected to the school board in 2003.

In the Reeves County Hospital Board elections, the three incumbents filed for re-election, but will be the first election for Precinct 1 representative Brenda McKinney and Precinct 3 rep Terry Honaker. McKinney was named to the board last year, following the death of Chel Flores. Honaker Honaker was appointed in late 2004 to replace Bill Wendt, who died in August of that year.

Leo Hung, who has also filed for a new two-year term, holds the other seat up for election. Under state law, because none of the races is contested, the hospital district can cancel the election in order to save money.

City’s March sales tax rebate shows nearly 20 percent rise

Sales tax collections for the Town of Pecos City in January were up nearly 20 percent, based on the sales tax rebate check sent to the city this week by State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s office. At the same time, the tax rebate checks for Toyah and the Reeves County Hospital District were more than double their checks of last March, while Balmorhea’s rebate check was down slightly from a year ago.

Pecos received a check for $79,058 from the comptroller; up 19.77 percent from the 66,004 the city received last March, as its 1 1/2 cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax. Of this month’s total, one sixth, or $13,176, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. for its operations.

The city’s sales tax rebate totals have increased in 13 of the past 15 months, due to the improving area economy. Compared with the first quarter of 2005, Pecos’ tax rebate total is up 10.68 percent, from $221,066 to $244,677.

Balmorhea’s tax rebate on its 1 1/2 cent sales tax brought in $978 this month, a 1.15 percent decline from last year’s $999 total. However, for the first three months of the year, the city has gotten $4,175 back from Austin, a 41.42 percent rise from 2005’s total of $2,952. Toyah’s March check for $455 was up 140.73 percent from last year’s $189 total, and for the first three months, the city’s rebates have risen 85.98 percent, from $765 to $1,424.

The hospital district’s 1/2-cent sales tax netted $50,470 for March, which was an increase of 113.07 percent from last year’s $23,686. For the first quarter of 2006, the hospital has gotten back $140,481, which is 70.51 percent above the $82,384 for the same period a year ago.

Most of the other area cities also saw their rebate checks increase this month, and most by double digits over March of 2005.

Midland’s check for $2.12 million on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax was up 15.91 percent from last year’s $1.83 million, while Odessa’s $1.38 million check on its 1 1/4-cent sales tax was up 9.29 percent from the $1.26 million check it received a year ago.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received $79,655 in its March check, up 18.84 percent from a year ago; Crane received a check for $38,989, up 18.83 percent from last year; Lamesa got $71,805 back from the comptroller’s office, which was up 18.24 percent; and Seminole received a check for $61,457, which was up 5.44 percent. Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $41,558 in their rebate check, up 51.19 percent; Pyote received a check for $375, which was up 16.75 percent; Wickett received a $6,545 check from Austin, up 49.79 percent, and Wink received a check for $3,742, which was up by 0.65 percent.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews’ check for $177,389 was up 137.54 percent from last year, with part of that rise due to an increase of 3/4-cent in the city’s sales tax since last year. Marfa got a check for $17,611, which was 111.66 percent above last year; while Van Horn got a check for $30,384, up 5.95 percent over than a year ago.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $387,877, an increase of 30.28 percent; Fort Stockton received $137,542, up 30.59 percent; Monahans received a check for $90,597, which was up 35.65 percent; Grandfalls got a $1,482 check, up 15.26 percent; and Presidio received $26,063, up 25.80 percent.

Statewide, the average increase for Texas cities and counties was 15.32 percent, as Strayhorn’s office sent out March rebate checks totaling $255.5 million, up from $221.5 million last year.

Houston’s $31.3 million check was again the largest individual check sent out, and was 11.3 percent higher than a year ago. Dallas’ check was next, at $15.1 million, which was up by 6.34 percent from last March.

Modern Study Club hears about Copper Canyon

The Modern Study Club of Pecos met in the home of Lena and Wesley Harpham during their February meeting, for an Education Department program.

President Lena Harpham called the meeting to order and Juracy Ray led the members in saying the Collect and the Pledges to the American Flag and Texas Flag.

The thought-quote for the day was quoted from Psalms 90, verse 2: “Before the mountains were created, before You made the earth and the world, You are God, without beginning or end.”

Greer Willis, Pastor of The First Baptist Church of Pecos, introduced by Catherine Travland, showed a slide presentation of his trip to Copper Canyon, Mexico. Traveling with Mr. Willis was Jim Ed Miller of Pecos. They drove to El Paso where they joined Caravan Tours for the train die to Creel. The train was comfortable, not crowded, and air conditioned with dining car and Federales for protection.

On the way to Creel they visited a Mennonite Camp. The Mennonite came to the area in the 1920’s from Canada. They speak German and Spanish and own 250,000 acres of farmland. This area is dry and mountainous - much like Fort Davis.

Creel has an altitude of 7,000 feet and rests on the edge of Copper Canyon. Those wanting to go into the canyon could go by train or bus. The train “El Chepe - Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad” runs from Chihuahua to Topolobampo coast, 587 miles. The canyon is five times bigger than our Grand Canyon. It consists of six large connected canyons. The area was settled by the Tarahumara Indian tribe.

From there the group stopped at El Fuerte. This area is rich in history. In 1532 at El Fuerte Cortez was killed and in 1536 Cabeza de Vaca was found alive. They stayed two nights at the very tropical Posada Del Hidalgo, built on original site of Zoro’s birth. The Indians, Tarahumara/Ramamuri, are a very primitive group of 50,000, second largest tribe behind the Navahos. They love bright colors, weave baskets and blankets and make jewelry. They are known for their ability to run.

The return trip was by bus through Chihuahua, where they toured the Chichimec Culture Center, which featured the pottery of the Casas Grandes/Paquine World Heritage Site, and viewed ornamental, hand painted, unique in design, pottery. The pottery is made by hand out of sand-less clay. The tour lasted eight days.

The minutes were read and approved and Betty Lee gave treasurer’s report.

Ways and Means Chairman, Paula Fuller, announced we would be having a Bake Sale, Friday morning, March 24, in the lobby of the Trans Pecos Bank.

There were nine members and six guests present.

Hostesses were Lena Harpham and Betty Lee.

Abila named Officer of the Month

Amy Abila has been employed with the Reeves County Detention Center I/II since August 8, 2000, and has been selected as Correctional Officer for the month of February 2006. RCDC I&II would like to thank her for all her hard work and dedication.

Ross named Employee of the Month

Bert Ross has been employed with the Reeves County Detention Center I/II since January 30, 2003, and has been selected as Employee of the Month for February 2006.

Mr. Ross holds the title of Case Manager. RCDC I&II would like to thank him for all his hard work and dedication.

Citizen’s Police alumni set meeting

Pecos Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 21, at the Pecos Police Department.

All members are urged to attend and dues are at this time.

Softball team plans Home Run Derby

The Lady Eagle Softball Home Run Derby will be held Tuesday, March 21, immediately following the Pecos vs. Marfa softball game at Lady Eagle Field.

The community is invited to come enjoy Lady Eagle Softball and support the Lady Eagles during this fundraiser. All Lady Eagles are currently taking pledges on how far they can hit the ball.

Each player will hit ten balls with the longest ball being measured.

See any Lady Eagle player or coach for complete details.

Celebrity batters will be Robin Land and Vanessa Simmons.

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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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