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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

City to raise stink about RCDC inmates’ actions

Items being dumped into the city’s sewer system by Reeves County Detention Center inmates are damaging Town of Pecos City lift station pumps, City Council members were told on Thursday, during their regular meeting at City Hall.

City manager Joseph Torres said water and sewer department workers were still having trouble with the Stafford Boulevard lift station, due to solid waste items being dumped into the sewer system by RCDC inmates, and council members were told the city is seeking to come up with an answer for the problem in conjunction with Reeves County commissioners..

The items are causing pumps to break, and causing sewage smells to spread into homes around the south side lift station that serves the prison.

“I was talking to an ex-correctional officer, and he was telling me it was common problem with then dumping things in there,” said councilman Frank Sanchez.

City utilities director Edgardo Madrid said temporary bar screens have been put on the lift station, and that the city was looking at cutter/chopper pumps to break up any solid waste before it gets to the pumping equipment, which costs $7,000.

“Why not put screens in the facility. That way it would be their responsibility,” said Sanchez.

“If we could construct something, they said they would be willing to pay a portion of that,” Madrid said. He added that the city was putting together invoices to present to the Reeves County Commissioner’s Court to outline the problems the damaged pumps were causing both the city, and residents near Stafford Boulevard and Park Street, where the pump is located.

In other action , budget amendments totaling just over $1.1 million were given final approval by the council. The amendments, which involved transfers to and from departments, closed out the 2005-06 fiscal year for the city, which ended on Sept. 30.

Council members had been given a list of amendments during their final meeting in September, but tabled action in order to get a report of the changes broken down by various departments.

City finance director Sam Contreras said the largest single deficit in the amendment was for the Criminal Justice Center. That department posted a $619,032 loss, due to the federally mandated wage increase for guards at the detention center. The U.S. Department of Labor ordered the city to increase wages to over $31,000 a year, but the city has been unable as of yet to gain approval of a payment increase from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which houses up to 96 prisoners at the facility under a 10-year contract signed in 2002.

“We’ve been talking to them, and hopefully, we’re getting close to getting it resolved,” Contreras said.

He added that the city’s water and sewer budget also ended up with a deficit of just under $469,000. “That was due to a major shortage in revenues, because we got started late with the rate increase,” he said.

The city sharply raised water and sewer rates in mid-December, 2 1/2 months after the 2005-06 budget year started.

The council also agreed to advertise two lots on North Pecan Street for bids, and gave tentative approval to a plan to join with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD on demolishing an cleaning up abandoned buildings that have been taken off the tax rolls.

City attorney Scott Johnson said the plan would have city workers demolish and clear off abandoned homes and properties held in the school district’s name for non-payment of taxes.

“What their lawyers propose is an interlocal agreement on each property before the demolition is done,” he said. “If not, the school district will have to determine if they want to participate in the project.”

“The man thing is the demolition project would clean up the city as far as eyesores and burned houses,” he added.

Council members then gave approval to begin the process of working out an interlocal agreement between the city and school district.

The lots, at 122 1/2 N. Pecan St., are sought by Eva Rubio, who in a letter to the city said she wanted to expand her home located next to the lots.

June graduation for PHS seniors OKed by board

A graduation date for this year’s seniors at Pecos High School has been set for the first day of June, after two months of deliberation by Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD officials and school board members.

The board announced its decision on Thursday, during their monthly meeting, and agreed to allow U.S. History/Government students an opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to attend an educational program through the Close-Up Foundation and allow additional fundraising for the trip.

The group met last Thursday in the Technology Center to discuss several items including the graduation date.

The graduation date had been discussed at previous meetings, but had been tabled to receive more input from parents and the community.

Graduation has been held on a Friday for the past few years, but this coming year the last day of May will be a Thursday, and board members were told the current school budget only calls for paying teachers through the end of that month.

Board members discussed the date at a previous meeting and learned that this would not be the first time that graduation would be held on a Friday as it has been held for the past few years. However, none of the earlier graduation dates had taken place in June.

Other graduation dates not held on Friday: May 1993-Wednesday; May 1991-Thursday; May 1990-Tuesday; May 1989-Thursday; May 1987-Thursday; May 1986-Thursday; May 1985-Tuesday; May 1981-Tuesday and May 1980-Tuesday.

Board members said that it would be more convenient for those traveling from other places, if the graduation ceremony was held on a Friday, instead of during the week, and Superintendent Manny Espino agreed, even though it would be at the beginning of the following month, June 1.

The board approved the trip to Washington, if funding for it can be raised, though no exact date has been set for the trip by the PHS history and government students.

In other action, board members listened to a report and held a public hearing on Schools FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas).

P-B-T ISD received a superior achievement from FIRST, and Espino praised the financial office and said that they had been doing an excellent job.

“Lydia Prieto does an excellent job of collecting taxes, it was at 96 percent, but it will be going up to 98 percent,” said financial director Cookie Canon.

She said that the rating came from the efforts of everyone, including the staff at the tax office and all the district offices.

“This was a joint effort, it wasn’t just us,” said Canon.

The board also listened to a report from Monte Hunter with Hunter-Corral Associates of Midland.

Hunter is the architect for the district and discussed several buildings that will receive updates this coming year and some that need to be fixed.

“We’ll be looking at all the buildings,” said Espino.

Espino said that they would be meeting with the board and coming up with a finalized plan.

Officials probe weekend arson, vandalism cases

Pecos police are investigating several reported vandalism incidents over the weekend, along with a suspected arson case involving an abandoned home on West Sixth Street. Police, fire and EMS personnel were called out early Saturday morning to the house fire, which broke out at the abandoned home located at Sixth and Plum streets. The building was engulfed in flames by the time personnel arrived, and firefighters were only able to keep the blaze from spreading to adjacent homes.

Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire said he couldn’t be certain exactly where the fire started, but said signs pointed to arson.

“It burnt to the ground, so it’s kind of hard to tell, but it had no gas, no electricity, no utilities at all,” Brookshire said. “In addition, all the doors were open and all the windows were knocked out.”

The other vandalism involved broken windshields on four vehicles, including a Texas Department of Public Safety patrol vehicle. Police reports indicated the damage occurred between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning at four locations; the 1000 block of South Oak Street, the 2100 block of Hackberry, the 1100 block of West Sixth Street and the 2100 block of Nebraska, which was where the DPS car was vandalized.

There are no suspects in either case, but Pecos Police Lt. Juan Vasquez was hopeful they would get information into the vandalism incidents.

“Mike (Balog, community service officer) will put that on CrimeStoppers and at the school CrimeStoppers,” Vasquez said. “If those all happened on the same night, it probably involved the same people.”

Police said there was one other vandalism case early Sunday, involving graffiti spray painted on the wall of the Movie Gallery, 1019 S. Cedar St.

‘Xmas for Kids’ holds fundraiser, seeks applicants

A barbecue fundraising luncheon is scheduled to help raise money for the Annual Christmas For Kids foundation this Friday, and the group will also begin taking applications for gift recipients starting next week.

The elves are already getting ready for the Christmas holiday, and applications to be recipients of the special toys and items provided by the volunteers will be available beginning Monday, Oct. 23 and running through Nov. 17. Applications can be picked up at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. “All applications must be completed in order to qualify for the program,” said elf Sofia Baeza.

In conjunction the group is holding a fundraising barbecue luncheon this Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Plates will be $5 and all funds will go towards the program.

The group is comprised of volunteers who raise funds to provide the essentials for children in the community, who would otherwise lose out on having a Merry Christmas.

This year the group will also be handing out knitted caps to the children.

Christi Blake has already provided 86 caps in all sizes and colors, which will be given out along with the gifts.

“I used to do different things for the churches where I lived in Tyler for the missionaries and wanted to do something for the kids here in Pecos,” said Blake.

“Our main goal is to provide a happy Christmas for as many children in the community as we can,” said Baeza. “We don’t just provide toys, but the essentials, such as coats and shoes.”

Last year the group helped out 483 children, who were part of 141 local families.

While the deadline to fill out an application to be a recipient of the Christmas for Kids is still a month away, Baeza said that people wait until the last minute to fill out the applications. Officials with the group would like to have them right away in order to check for eligibility requirements.

Only one application is allowed per household. If three adults live in a household, only one adult is allowed to complete and turn in an application.

The applications will also be screened to see if the children really do exist and that the names are not fictitious, and family household income will also be taken into consideration. The “Christmas for Kids” program is aimed at helping to bring a cheerier holiday for children of less fortunate families in the community.

Baeza also said, “This is for children in Reeves County only,” and the children must be attending Pecos-Barstow-Toyah or Balmorhea ISD, with the exception of babies and toddlers.

Last year, the group also helped four families who lost all their belongings in fires. Volunteers will also participate in a door-to-door drive from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4.

Baeza said that the barbecue plate sale has generated the same amount of money the past few years.

Baeza and Linda Clark said that she wanted to thank everyone in the community, the businesses, organizations and especially the volunteers.

“Our goal for this year is to raise $8,000,” said Baeza.

Donations are always being accepted for the program.

Anyone wanting more information on Christmas for the Kids could call the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department, at 445-4901.

Red Bluff in dispute over reservoir’s repair costs

Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members discussed concerns by members of one of the Pecos River sub-districts over the cost of work planned at Imperial Reservoir, during their monthly meeting last Tuesday in Pecos.

The discussion centered on letters board members received from Ernest Woodward, president of Pecos County Water Improvement District No. 3. The letters questioned the cost of rebuilding a road to and on top of Imperial Dam and fencing around the gates at the dam, along with water measurements done by the district at the area’s diversion canals. Managing director Randal Hartman said Red Bluff has been using a portable measuring device to measure the water diversions, and have been making adjustments monthly in recent years because the canals in the Imperial area have not been cleaned.

Hartman said the U.S. Geological Survey has offered to install permanent weir devices to measure the water levels, but they would cost $17,000 per device.

“I think Ernest would feel better if Tommy (Moseley) or George (Brandenberg) would call somebody to read when they go out there,” board member Ava Gerke said.

“Given the circumstances, I think we should call their office the day before, and tell them we’re going to be out there,” board member Clay Lee said. “If they don’t show up, we’ll just go on with our business.”

On the repairs around the dam, Hartman said, “We told them we would be rebuilding the top of the dam and rebuilding the fence area around the controls.” He said the district, along with Pecos County WID 2 and 3, had previously agreed to each pay one-third of the cost, but Woodward’s letter voiced concerns about not being informed of the cost of the work.

“As long as it’s under $15,000, no bid has to be taken,” said Hartman, who added the two sub-districts had discussed the plans to do the repair work with Red Bluff as early as 2001. “That’s not the way we set it up,” said Michael McCullough, a member of the Pecos County WID 2 board who was at the meeting. He told Hartman that while Red Bluff did sent a letter about their repair plans to the district. “It was two lines. You’re acting like you dictate to the districts.”

In other action, board members tabled a proposed drilling lease agreement on Section 10 at the lake, since the proposal on the 280-acre lease had not come in by Tuesday. Board members were also updated on a pilot burn of dead salt cedars along the Pecos River by the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District.

Gerke said the burn covered 2 1/2 miles of the Pecos River above Mentone, but that a lack of wind on the second day caused problems in getting the fire to spread. “Supposedly if they can get enough of it going at once, it will create its own weather system” she said.

Salt cedars that have been soaking up Pecos River water were killed off from Red Bluff Lake to Imperial over the past seven years, but the dead trees present a threat to dams and bridges downstream in the event of a major flood. The burn is designed to remove the trees, but a more extensive effort is awaiting a state grant. Red Bluff has agreed to contribute $75,000 to the project if the grant is approved.

OC chooses date to support breast cancer

The Odessa College Student Government Association (SGA) along with the Texas Junior College Student Government Association Region 1 was chosen Wednesday, Oct. 25, as its day to go “Passionately Pink for the Cure.” During the month of October, SGA is asking everyone to make a $5 or more donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and to wear pink on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Companies, organizations, groups and individuals nationwide are picking one day in October and urging their associates and friends to make a nominal donation of $5 or more and to wear the group’s choice of pink apparel that day. The idea is to see pink everywhere, every day in October, reminding everyone of the crucial need to eradicate breast cancer.

Did you know it is expected that more than 212,000 women and men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 41,000 people will die from breast cancer in 2006 alone! This dreaded disease touches millions of lives. Odessa College has an opportunity to make a difference in the month of October by showing our passion and sharing the promise for the cure. The Komen Foundation is a global leader in the fight against breast cancer. Contributions will be put directly to work by the Komen Foundation to fund critical research, education, screening and treatment programs in more than 15,000 communities.

Please join the OC Student Government Association in this endeavor to support the Komen Cancer Foundation. Individuals can make a donation by contacting the OC Student Government Association at 432-335-6819 or by e-mailing SGA at .

Millers announce birth of son

Jim and Trudi Miller announce the birth of their son, William Kirk Miller.

Little William was born Sept. 12 and weighed nine pounds, six and half ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long at birth.

Welcoming him home were his big brothers, Jimmy and Steven.

Grandparents are Sam and Pam Miller of Fort Clark; Dough and Glena Miller of Pecos and Don and Jing Miller of Seattle, Wash.

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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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