Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
PEDC funds’ expanded use is questioned
Pecos City Council members heard objections to expanded usage of sales tax funds directed towards the Pecos Economic Development Corp. from the chairman of the corporation’s board on Thursday, during the council’s regular meeting, but said they favored putting a final decision on the plan up to the voters in next May’s city election.
The council looked at a proposed ballot initiative that would convert the current 4A economic development corporation into a 4B, which would allow wider usage of funds directed towards the corporation. Council members said they would official decide on adding the proposal to the May 11 election ballot during their next meeting, but PEDC Chairman Joe Keese said he and other board members were concerned that wider use of the funds would leave the corporation without funds to attract new businesses to the city.
The PEDC currently gets one sixth of the city’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax for operations, which in recent months has averaged around $12,000 a month. State law limits what projects those funds can be used for, and city officials and Keese were at odds over what projects could fall under economic development.
“I feel real strongly this option will help finance our street repairs and wherever else we need it,” said Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood, while Keese said the projects eyed by the city had to meet state guidelines for economic development.
“Street repairs, no, not without a public election,” he said. “You can do street work to an industrial park, if it’s to bring in primary jobs … but it has to be goods or services that are exported, and if your revenue stream comes from outside the area.”
“I know the city needs help with streets and with water, but the war chest was built up to bring in new business and housing. If you take the war chest away Monahans, Fort Stockton, Andrews, Kermit and all the rest are going to kick our teeth in,” he said.
“If Pecos was a truck, the truck would be in the ditch. Infrastructure improvements are great, but it’s like putting a paint job on the truck, when the truck is in the ditch,” Keese told the council. “We need jobs, and I don’t know if paving streets will attract jobs.”
“You’ve had 10 years to do this,” said councilman Danny Rodriguez of the PEDC, which was created in 1998 by the Town of Pecos City. “In 10 years, we could have done a lot more to attract jobs.”
“Granted there has not been a lot of progress, but a 1/4-cent sales tax in Pecos Texas is not going to pave a lot of streets,” said Keese, who added the PEDC has been limited by the city in the scope of its abilities to offer incentives to new businesses.
“This is the only EDC I’ve ever seen in my life that doesn’t have control of an industrial park,” he said. “You have to bid on land at the industrial park. If the EDC doesn’t have control over anything, we can’t offer anything.”
He said the PEDC has been in talks with a number of companies, mainly oil- and gas-related firms that have expressed interest in moving into the area. “We have a lot of companies toeing up to the line. With proper incentives, we can get them to come,” he said. “If we get the tax base up, the city can have more money.”
City Manager Joseph Torres said a number of those companies would relocate here anyway, due to the profit possibilities from oil and gas drilling.
“Economic development has a lot of opportunities with oil and gas around us, because we have a lot of land,” said Torres. He disputed Keese’s claim that a 4B corporation would be limited on its usage of funds, and said Fort Stockton has both 4A and 4B corporations, along with a 4C and railroad district that use tax funds.
“The 4A, 4B, 4C and railroad districts are all voter initiatives, not mine, not the council’s,” he said. “I believe we should give the voters the chance to decide.”
“Grants are drying up. The ones now require more matching funds,” Torres added. “We have to turn the ship around while the oil and gas industry are up.”
Alligood said he hoped that the current recruiting efforts by the PEDC and the city would show significant results by the time the measure goes before the voters. “From what we see right now, by the time it gets to the ballot, we’re going to see a lot of this developing,” he said.
Alligood added that the city would probably hold a Town Hall meeting in the future to explain both sides of the 4A/4B conversion issue to voters.
Council told starts near for motel, apartment projects
Town of Pecos City Council members were updated on construction projects planned by the city and private businesses in the near future, during their regular meeting Thursday evening at City Hall, and plan to meet with owners of one group planning to build a new motel on Interstate 20.
The proposal to build a Hampton Inn on the interstate is from Dr. Arbind Ghandi and his brother Henry. Dr. Ghandi earlier this year had submitted a bid on 27 acres of land on I-20 near Reeves County Hospital to build a motel, retain offices and physician-owned condominium offices, but reportedly dropped out of the bidding due to the objections of his brother.
City Manager Joseph Torres told the council on Thursday “We did receive a package from the Ghandis to build a Hampton Inn on the property they want to purchase,” but added the brothers didn’t want to formally announce their plans at this time, but plan to make a formal presentation at the council’s next meeting, on Nov. 9.
In an April 3 letter to the council, Ghandi said has built 12 motels over the past 20 years and has two current under construction, along with owning 80,000 square feet of office space.
Ghandi had planned to offer $8,000 an acre for the land near the hospital, which instead was awarded by the city to Jaya Corp., which is owned by Ram Kunwar, for $1,125 per acre. Kunwar is currently in the process of competing renovations on the old Pecos Inn, which will be part of the Howard Johnson’s chain of motels, and in his April offer on the I-20 land, said he proposed building 120 town homes in the section located away from I-20, and business space along the interest, a motel, shopping center, fitness center, a number of medical facilities and a nursing home.
City public works director Edgardo Madrid updated the council on the progress of the renovation work, and discussed the status of the I-20 property.
“The exterior has been finished, and in the interior all the rooms have been remodeled,” Madrid said. They include new bathroom facilities and new carpeting, while work is still being planned on the motel’s restaurant.
Madrid said Kunwar currently was in California on business, but would give Madrid an update when he returned to town.
On the land near the hospital, Madrid said Kunwar was still seeking financing for his project. Mayor Dick Alligood reminded the council that the deed on the 27 acres was conditional on work being begun on the site within a year of the agreement.
Kunwar is nearly done with financing on plans for a new apartment complex behind Gibson’s, in the 700-800 blocks of Washington Street, which will replace construction of a planned 19 single-family homes on the site. The plans have to be submitted to the Office of Rural Community Affairs.
“He’s hoping to submit by the end of the month, and it should take 2-3 weeks to get approval from ORCA to start construction,” said Madrid. “If everything works out he may be able to start work by November.”
Madrid added that the original plan for 48 apartments has been doubled to 96 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, in order to satisfy the project’s California-based lenders as well as meeting ORCA’s requirements that just over half the apartments go to low-income families.
The city still owes ORCA nearly $390,000 for a loan taken out five years ago to put in the improvements for the housing. Pecos already has received two extensions from the state agency on paying back the money, but Madrid said ORCA would be willing to wait a little longer, if the city can get the revised project started by the time the deadline comes up early next year.
Madrid and city parks department director Tom Rivera handled the updates on city projects, with Rivera discussing plans for the Ross and Jackson Boulevard islands and Fairview Cemetery, while Madrid talked about the new landfill trench.
Rivera said the city has received a bid for $49,000 for installing sprinklers on the Jackson Boulevard Island, and were expected to get a second bid in this week. “The island controllers will be battery operated, because there’s no electricity on the islands. That’s why the bid is so high,” he said.
Rivera said the Fairview cemetery committee is beginning to meet on its own to come up with ideas for fixing up the site, including desertscaping the areas around the maintained gravesites. Reeves County Extension Agent Tommy Dominguez also talked with the council about possible tree and plant options for both the traffic islands and the cemetery, which included desert willows, live oaks, and Texas redbirds, to replace fruitless mulberries that are both starting to die off and which have damaged sidewalks, streets and water lines due to their root systems.
“Once they die and the root systems rot out, if you get a big wind they can fall over on a house,” he said. The other trees are more slow-growing, but Dominguez added, “Once they’re established, they take very little maintenance to keep up.”
Madrid said the new landfill trench has been competed and certified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for use when the city assumes control of the operations from Duncan Disposal at the end of the year. He also confirmed that the new trash trucks ordered by the city will not arrive in time, but that they would be able to use the two used vehicles purchased from the city of Midland.
Hospital hires search firms in effort to find new doctor
Two recruiting firms have been contacted to help with the search for a new doctor to come to Pecos.
Reeves County Hospital Board members met on Oct. 24 and discussed the possibility of recruiting someone new, with the departure in June of Dr. Haitham Jifi, and the announcement in September that Dr. Oladele Olusanya would be leaving the staff early next year.
“We have at least two firms for sure and possibly three that we’ve been in contact with that are helping us,” said Reeves County Hospital Public Relations Director Venetta Seals.
Board members approved the 2006 tax rolls and keeping the tax rate where it is.
“That means it didn’t go up or down, it will just remain the same,” said Seals.
A contract with Dennard Electric to make some changes per the Medicare survey was approved.
“These are changes that have to do with the new expansion area,” said Seals.
Seals said that the architect had approved the new expansion area and some changes had been done.
“Then we had the Medicare inspector here and he found some things that needed to be corrected,” said Seals. “There are some things that should have been done and the proposals was to make those changes,” she said.
The sale of two properties due to unpaid taxes was approved. “One was a house and the other was just a vacant lot,” said Seals.
Seals said that the board approved to extend the contract with the Dialysis Consultant, through the end of December.
“Everyone is working very hard at turning the Dialysis Center around to at least break even,” said Seals.
Becky Honaker was approved as administrator of the center.
“She’ll still have to report to the administrator at the hospital, but this way it provides continuity in the center,” said Seals.
There are two Director of Nurses at the center and Honaker is in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly and everyone knows what they should be doing.
“She’s been working there for a long time and the board decided to give her the title of administrator to oversee everything and provide some continuity,” said Seals.
Seals said that Honaker has been working hard at finding ways to improve the Dialysis Center.
“A lot of the nurses are under contract, so sometimes when their contract is up, they just leave,” said Seals. “She has already been checking into a lot of things. “
“She has already been busy making suggestions and corrections,” said Seals.
There are currently 27 patients at the center and there will be another PCT class starting up in November, according to Seals.
“Even if all these people pass the class, it doesn’t mean that they will automatically be hired, but we want to have trained individuals out there in case we need them,” said Seals. “That way we’ll have people to pull from,” she said.
Seals said that they are right at that point that if they get three more patients, they will need to add another shift.
“If we get more patients, we’ll be ready for them,” said Seals.
Seals said that if they do have enough people that take the class and pass it, they may get hired at the facility.
“We won’t put them all in one shift, but will split them up with the more experienced individuals,” said Seals.
Halloween costumes, awards come out early for Mother Goose Parade
The Annual Mother Goose and Friends Parade, which was held Saturday afternoon, turned out to be a success with a variety of characters showing up to participate.
The parade was held prior to children going Trick-Or-Treating on Saturday and the costumes ranged from the normal witches and goblins to story-book characters. City officials asked local residents to conduct their trick-or-treating on Saturday, instead of waiting for the official Halloween date on Tuesday.
In the birth through three years of age category: first place went to Laci Hill dressed up as Itsy-Bitsy Spider and third place, Alijah Rene Hernandez, a pumpkin.
Four to six year olds who won included: first place, a pirate, Brandon Dominguez; second place, Snow White, Aaliyah Fuentes and third place, Batman and Catwoman, Ivan Rodriguez and his sister.
Pinocchio, Kayla Martinez placed first in the seven to nine year old category; a scarecrow, Jennifer Barron, took second place and third place was Cody Maledon, a werewolf.
In the 10-12 year old category, first place was a pirate, Justin Walker; second place, a blonde hippie girl, Danielle Torres and third place, a geisha, Teresa Arazate.
In the group category, first place went to pirates, Paul and Phillip Lujan and second place, firemen, Christian Maledon and Martin Fuentez.
The children walked from the West Texas National Bank to the West of the Pecos Museum, where they received a snack.
Modern Study Club begans new year
The Modern Study Club began their new club year on Wednesday, Sept. 13, with newly elected 2006-2008 President Juracy Ray, presiding.
The group gathered in the Juracy and L.M. Ray home on Park Street.
President Ray’s theme for the 2006-2007 club year is - “Texas: Great Peace, Great People, Great Women Volunteers” and that was also her quote for this “kick-off” meeting.
During opening ceremonies following the president’s welcome, the Collect was led by Pearl Gustafson and the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America Flag and the Texas Flag were led by Paula Fuller, with those present repeating all in unison.
President Ray presented the 2006-2007 Club Yearbooks to each member present and reviewed each meeting for the coming club year. She also talked about “Operation Smile,” a project of the club for many years, which helps children with birth defects and other problems.
She complemented Joyce Morton for her hard work in preparing and making a colorful and artful yearbook and thanked Paula Fuller, Betty Lee, and Catherine Travland for helping to collate the books.
The minutes were read by Catherine Travland, secretary, and approved as read. Treasurer Betty Lee presented a statement of club finances.
A communication from Louise Moore, Reeves County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, was read thanking the club for our donation to the basketball camp provided by the Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department.
It was announced that the General Federation of Women’s Clubs South Central Region Conference would be held at Fort Worth Oct. 13-15. South Central Region covers Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
President Ray announced the next program will be Greer Willis’ slide presentation on his visit to the British Museum.
Roll call was answered by suggesting prospective members. The bi-monthly project for the meeting is a year-long one, with all member participating in a club program.
Assisting Mrs. Ray with hostess duties were Jean Olson and Catherine Travland.
The Modern Study Club is a member in good standing of the Western District of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Abila, Sanchez exchange wedding vows
Shirley Ann Abila, daughter of Mark and Sofia Zuniga and the late Alvaro Abila, was united in marriage with Sergio Sanchez, son of Maria Cira Dominguez of Dallas.
The couple was wed in a back-yard wedding on Oct. 7 and they plan to make their home in Dallas.
Maid of honor for the special event was Cassandra Abila and best man was Nemecio Sanchez.
The wedding court consisted of Valerie Carrasco, Giselle and Samantha Sanchez.
Ring bearer Nathan D’Anda and flower girl was Mariah Abila.
Mail ballot deadline on Tuesday
The Reeves County Clerk’s Office announced that at 5 p.m., Tuesday is the deadline for the clerk’s office to receive an application for a ballot by mail.
These applications must be received in the mail or faxed.
Posse Barn hosts fundraiser on Friday
A brisket plate fundraiser will be held beginning at 10:30 a.m., Friday at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Barn.
The fundraiser is to help with medical expenses for Priscilla Renteria Espudo.
Plates will be $5 and will consist of barbecue and all the fixings.
For call in orders, 445-3400.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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