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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Countywide burning ban is continued

A continuation of a fire ban that was implemented in December was approved during the regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting held Monday morning.

Commissioners discussed several items including the continuation of a fire ban for Reeves County, which had expired on April 1. An emergency order by Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo extended the ban until the commissioners could hold their first meeting of the month.

“As you know the governor has declared a State of disaster for all the counties in Texas, due to wildfires we have been having,” said Reeves County Emergency Coordinator Ricky Herrera.

Herrera said that the court order was only good for 90 days. “We’re trying to get a continuation for the fire ban,” he said. “The Texas Forest Service advised us to continue it for at least another three months.”

“Is there anything new added?” asked Galindo.

Herrera said some exemptions have been added to the continued order.

“The state law allows three exemptions,” said Herrera.

The exemptions allowed were for firefighter training, public utility, natural-gas pipeline, or mining operations or agriculture, harvesting.

“All of these can be exemptions and they can be granted by the governing entity that enforced the ban,” said Herrera. “We still have to go and see if it can be done safely.” He said that whoever wants the exemption still has to go through the county to get permission, to make sure that it is safe.

“We look at all the conditions, such as the weather, low humidity, the winds, the area and all that before it can be exempted,” he said.

In other action, commissioners approved a golf course tournament fundraiser for April 22-23.

“I think the only problem they had was that they wanted to hand out the prize money at the end of the day, which we formally process,” said Galindo.

“I told them I could not prepay anything,” said county auditor Lynn Owens.

Galindo said that the funds they raise will go towards acquiring new equipment for the golf course.

“It will be leased equipment,” he said.

Galindo said that last year’s event was very well attended, a lot of fun and very fair. “To me it was considered a success,” he said.

The commissioners also approved a resolution naming the week of April 23-29 County Government Week.

“This is something that we have been doing for the past few years,” said Owens.

City to weigh development, drilling offers

Town of Pecos City Council members will consider leasing city-owned property for oil and gas drilling projects, and will award bids on two parcels of land, including a section along Interstate 20 near Reeves County Hospital that is being proposed for a motel, commercial and private businesses and residential development, during their regular meeting at 7 a.m. on Thursday at City Hall.

The council will consider five sections of land for development, the largest containing 2,000 acres and the smallest covering 1.63 acres. Council members beginning late last year discussed leasing city owned land, including sections around the Pecos Municipal Airport, for oil and gas drilling, in hopes of bringing in new funds for the financially-strapped city. While property valuations for Reeves County, the hospital district and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD have doubled in the past five years, valuations in the city have remained stagnant, due to both the lack of new development and the lack of land owned by the city with oil or natural gas production. However, recent drilling projects have resulted in the development of a number of new area wells, including two which were just brought into production last week just outside the city limits at the U.S. 285-Interstate 20 interchange.

The council is also hoping for new property development on the land along I-20 near the hospital, and city secretary Connie Levario said on Friday they received two bids for the 27.57 acre tract of land, from Jaya Corp., and from Dr. Arbind Ghandi, both which list Texas addresses.

Jaya Corp., which is owned by Ram Kunwar, submitted a bid for $1,125 per acre for the land, in which it proposes to develop a number of different projects , which include both business and residential uses. His plan includes 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.

Kunwar currently is in the process of remolding both the former Ramada Inn in Pecos as part of the Howard Johnson chain, and the State Theater in downtown Pecos. He also has talked with the council about construction of up to 48 apartments in the city’s Airlawn addition.

The other bid, from Ghandi, was for $8,000 an acre and proposes using the land for hospitality (motel) and retail purposes, along with physician-owned condominium offices. Ghandi said he has a five-year timeline on his project, and in his letter told the council he has build 12 motels over the past 20 years and has two current under construction, along with owning 80,000 square feet of office space.

Council members last month stipulated the buyer would have to develop the land under the terms of the purchase agreement. The council added the requirement while noting that no development has taken place on several commercial buildings, most in the downtown area, that have been sold for tax purposes by the city over the past two years.

In other action, the council will discuss the sale of four lots of land in the Ward’s Addition on the south side of town, and will discuss the Meadowbrook and Palo Verde subdivision survey. They will hear another presentation by Johnson Controls on a reconciliation report on the city’s new water meters; discuss the Pecos Valley RC&D grant; discuss purchase of a 2006 Chevrolet Sliverado truck and 2006 John Deere grader; discuss an emergency facilities and land use agreement with the USDA Forest Service; and discuss an interlocal agreement with the P-B-T ISD.

Council members will also discuss and consider the regular accounts payable, along with the March municipal court and juvenile reports

Grand jury returns drug, false benefit indictments

A few indictments were handed down last Tuesday by the 143rd Judicial District jury and two included tampering with government records.

The first indictment was for Randall French, 29; charged with Tampering with Government Records. The indictment read that on or about March 18, 2004, the defendant knowingly and intentionally, made a false entry, in failing to list a job with an oilfield company while applying for assistance with the Texas Department of Human Service.

French allegedly listed his only household income as being from his employment with Jersey Farms in determining eligibility for Food Stamps. The indictment says he failed to report his earned income from Capstar Drilling, resulting in certification of his household for an amount of Food Stamps eligibility greater than that to which said defendant’s household was entitled.

The other indictment charged Virginia Bejarano 32, with Tampering with Government Records. The indictment read that on or about April 8, 2003, Bejarano made a false entry on her TDHS form, listing her only household income as being from her employment with Head Start in an application for determining eligibility for Food Stamps. The indictment charged her with failing to report her unearned income from child support AFDC payments, leading to an excess payment of Food Stamps to the family.

Bond on both French and Bejarano was set at $5,000.

Other indictments returned on April 4 included:

Jacob Jaramillo, 18; charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. According to the indictment, on or about the Oct. 10, 2005, the defendant did intentionally or knowingly possess a controlled substance, namely, Cocaine, in an amount of less than one gram, by aggregate weight, including any adulterants and dilutants. Bond was set at $5,000.

Erek Randall Brown, 25, charged with Unlawful Possession of Firearm; the indictment read that on or about Jan. 1, 2006, the defendant did then and there, having been convicted of the felony offense of burglary on Dec. 21, 2001, in cause number 99-08-06330-CRR the District Court of Reeves County, in a case on the docket of said court and entitled The State of Texas vs. Eric Randall Brown, intentionally or knowingly possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of the defendant’s release from confinement following conviction of said felony.

Cebridge’s ABC signal switch has pluses, minuses for viewers

Big 12 sports fans can rejoice, while prime time TV viewers wanting to get to bed before 11 p.m. may have reason to complain about the latest change to the primary ABC station on Pecos’ local cable system.

Cebridge Connections on March 31 switched the city’s ABC station from WABC in New York to KMGH out of Denver, Colo. That should work out better for Big 12 football and basketball fans, who have been unable to see those regional games for the past 15 months while the city was receiving its signal out of New York.

But because Denver is in the Mountain Time Zone, the ABC shows in Pecos will now be airing at times more familiar to New Yorkers and others in the Eastern Time Zone. The prime-time ABC shows now run from 8 to 11 p.m. nightly, while the shows on the other networks remain at 7 to 10 p.m. for Pecos cable customers.

Town of Pecos City Council members complained last year about the inability to watch Texas Longhorns and other Big 12 football games on Saturdays due to the out-of-state signal. Denver was considered as an option due to the presence of Big 12 school Colorado nearby, but the time zone difference was a negative factor in any possible change.

However, Pete Abel, with Cebridge’s acquisition division, said on Friday that the company had no choice in making their latest move.

“The ABC station in New York was switching their satellite signal from analog to digital, and right now we don’t have the equipment there to receive it,” Abel said. “In order not to lose the ABC signal, we made the decision to switch to the Denver ABC station.”

“We also pick up the Denver PBS station, so we already have a relationship with the satellite company that picks up that (ABC) signal,” Abel added.

“We understand that the different times are going to irritate some people. I wish there was a Texas ABC station we could pick up, but we feel that having a channel with the ABC signal is better than not having any one on there,” he said.

All U.S. TV stations will be mandated by the federal government to switch from analog to digital signals by January of 2009, in order to begin full broadcasting in high-definition television. Currently, TV stations across the U.S. can broadcast both in analog and digital, and only one Midland-Odessa station, KOSA has begun offering an HDTV digital broadcast in the area.

The changeover to HDTV was also cited by officials with KMID TV as one of the reasons they were reluctant to go to the expense of improving their analog signal into Pecos. The ABC station for Midland-Odessa lost its ability to transmit its signal via microwave relay to Pecos five years ago, and the low-quality of the signal led to complaints in 2004 to the council and to Cebridge’s decision to begin bringing in another ABC station via satellite.

KMID did improve its broadcast signal last year, and the station remains available to local viewers on Ch. 95, with ABC shows airing one hour earlier than on KMGH. But the KMID signal continues to have problems with the picture quality, along with occasional blackouts during the day.

Abel said Cebridge and KMID general manager Chris Prewit have been in talks about possible ways to boost the signal in the near future. However, some options, such as a dedicated fiber optic cable into Pecos, are not economically feasible , given the number of subscribers on the local system.

“Maybe after we assume ownership of the Midland (cable) system from Cox, something can be done to help the ABC signal,” he said. “We’ve done good with him, and they’ve agreed to allow Denver on the Monahans and Kermit systems, where we have similar problems.

“They’ve stepped up and we’re engaged in a new dialogue with them. We’re hoping we can continue to improve the relationship,” Abel said.

Work on I-20 in Ward County to slow, detour traffic

Texas Department of Transportation crews began work on Monday on repairing a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 20 in Ward County, with the first section resulting in the closure of exits in Pyote and on the west side of Monahans through the middle of next week.

TxDOT crews will be replacing the right lane of the highway in both directions from just west of Pyote to just west of Sandhills State Park. The project is being done to solve the severe rutting problem along that stretch of road in the more-heavily used right lane.

“There will be times during construction when westbound and eastbound traffic will be restricted to one lane each direction for short distances and there will be ramp closures,” said Dan Dalager, the TxDOT engineer in charge of the project. “There also will be overnight lane closures.”

“During the first phase of the project, the ramps will be closed at Pyote (Exit 66) and Monahans (Exit 83) for about 7-10 days,” said Dalager.

Message boards will be placed ahead of the affected locations, advising motorists to use alternate exits. Other exits to be affected during construction include Exit 70 (Spur 65), Exit 73 (FM 1219), Exit 76 (Business I-20 west of Monahans), Exit 79 (Loop 464), and Exit 80 (State Highway 18).

The 20-mile area to be affected is from just east of Monahans to west of the intersection with State Highway 115 and FM 1927 at Pyote. The final phase - resurfacing - should be finished by mid-July, said Dalager.

Glen Larum, public information director for TxDOT’s Odessa office, said drivers coming from Pecos who need to get off at Pyote should use the Frontage Road exit (Exit 58) between Barstow and Pyote, and then take either of the two service roads into town.

The contractor for the $7.6 million project is Jones Bros. Dirt and Paving, Inc., of Odessa. The contractor is excavating six inches of the existing pavement, reworking and cement-treating the base, then placing 4 1/2 inches of hot mix, a rubber seal, and a one-inch rubber-modified hot mix surface.

Motorists are urged to obey all warning signs and remember that state law doubles all traffic fines within a construction area for violations occurring when workers are present.

Early voting for runoff races attracts 1,349

Early voting for Reeves County’s Democratic Party primary runoff elections produced a few less ballots than were cast over a longer period for last month’s regular election, but local residents still have a chance to vote in the three local runoff races and two statewide primary runoffs from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

A total of 1,349 people cast ballots early in t he runoff election, down from 1,435 who voted early in the March 7 primary. According to the Reeves County Clerk’s office, 1,075 cast ballots before the deadline at 5 p.m. on Friday at the Reeves County Courthouse, while another 274 mail-in ballots were received by Monday morning.

Voters will deciding runoff elections for Reeves County Judge and for the Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 commissioners positions in Tuesday’s election. All 11 polling sites in the county will be open on Tuesday.

Former Pecos Chamber of Commerce President Al Gomez and Town of Pecos City Financial Director Sam Contreras are in the runoff to replace Jimmy Galindo as county judge. Gomez finished first in the five-person race last month with 887 votes to 742 for Contreras.

The winner of the race will face Republican Bobby Hanks in November’s general election. Hanks ran unopposed for the Republican nomination for Reeves County Judge in last month’s primary.

Challengers placed first in both commissioners’ races, as Gabriel Martinez received the most votes in the Precinct 2 race, and Ramiro “Ram” Guerra finished first in the Precinct 4 commissioner’s election. Both will be facing the current incumbents on Tuesday.

Guerra received 315 of the 657 votes cast in Precinct 4, falling five percentage points short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Incumbent Gilberto “Hivi” Rayos, who is seeking his third term as commissioner, picked up 164 votes, to beat out Conchita M. Hernandez by 23 votes for second place and a spot in the April 11 election.

In Precinct 2, challenger Gabriel Martinez received 281 votes to lead the three-person race. Martinez received 39 percent of the 645 votes cast in the precinct, while incumbent Norman Hill received 222 votes, three more than challenger Alvesia “Tita” Tarin. A recount, the first using the county’s new optical scanner voting machines, did not change the final vote totals for the Precinct 2 race.

The winner of both the commissioners’ races will be unopposed in November, barring the addition of a write-in candidate.

All 11 boxes open on Tuesday will be at the same locations as in last month’s election, but four of the 11 sites are different from past years. All voters are eligible to cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, as long as they did not vote in last month’s Republican Party primary. The locations of the polling places are:

Box 1 - Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak St. Box 2 - Odessa College, 1000 block of South Eddy St. Box 3 - Pecos High School Gym. Box 4 - Change from Toyah City Hall to the Toyah Senior Citizen’s Center. Box 5 - Change from Balmorhea Fire Hall to Balmorhea Library. Box 6 - Multi-Purpose Center in Saragosa. Box 7 - Change from Reeves County Library to Episcopal Church, 5th and Plum. Box 8 - Lamar School, 100 block of West ‘F’ Street. Box 10 - Reeves County Hospital Annex (Old Hospital), 700 W. Daggett St. Box 11 - Change from Haynes/Sadler Community Center to the Reeves County Civic Center. Box 12 - Ready Room at the Texas New-Mexico Power Company on Stafford Boulevard. Barstow voters will also be casting ballots in their runoff election on Tuesday. Voters there will cast ballots at the Barstow Community Center.

Escamilla, family raise funds for cancer

“My name is Crissy Escamilla and I currently live in San Antonio, TX. But my home will always be Pecos. My mother, sister and grandparents still live in Pecos and I visit as often as I can. My mother is Belia Florez, who is the Director of Nurses at the Pecos Nursing Home.”

Escamill said that this past weekend, her family traveled from all parts of Texas and New Mexico to join her in San Antonio for the 9th Annual Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure".

“The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises money for breast cancer research, treatments and screenings. “My grandmother, Regina Herrera is a 30 year breast cancer survivor. My family raised $1945.00 for the organization,” said Escamilla.

The "Race for the Cure" event was held at the Alamodome and consisted of a 5K mile walk, starting at the Alamodome thru downtown San Antonio and finishing back at the Alamodome. There were 26,000 participants. The event wraps up with the survivors being recognized by the number of years they have survived breast cancer.

“This is when my grandmother received 30 ribbons for the years she has been a breast cancer survivor,” said Escamilla.

Escamilla took several pictures of the event and said she would be honored if the Pecos Enterprise would display them in our newspaper and honor her grandmother in her home town.

Pecos JL, SL sign-ups continue

Sign-ups are continuing at Gibson True Value for the 2006 Pecos Junior League and Senior League, while tryouts scheduled for this coming Saturday may be changed, according to league official Lupe Herrera.

Tryouts are tentatively scheduled for Saturday, but Herrera said the date may be moved back due to conflict with this weekend’s Easter holiday. Forms to sign-up 13- and 14-year olds for the Junior League and 15-16 year olds for the Senior League remain available at Gibson, 810 W. Walthall St.

Church sets Holy Week services

First United Methodist Church of Pecos welcomes friends and guests to attend special Holy Week services starting Thursday.

A communion service is planned for Maundy Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.

On Good Friday, the church will be open from noon until 3 p.m., for prayer and meditation. Scriptures will be read every five minutes. Those attending may come and god as they wish during these hours.

Easter Sunday worship will begin at 11 a.m.

The Methodist Church is located at Third and Elm streets in Pecos. John Barrett is pastor.

PHS track closed to public this week

The Pecos High School track will be closed to the public for most of next week, in order to prepare for the District 3-3A track meet, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah athletic director Chris Henson said on Tuesday.

The track will be closed from this coming Tuesday, April 11, until the day of the meet, on Friday, April 14.

Alzheimer’s group meets Thursday

The Pecos Caregivers Support Group meets this Thursday, at 4 p.m. at the Pecos Senior Center, 119 S. Cedar.

The Pecos Caregivers Support Group is in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Coping with Alzheimer’s disease of a related disorder does not have to be a lonely experience, although it is common to feel alone, to think that no one can understand what is happening in your life. Participating in a family support group can help by giving you a chance to share your feelings with others who do understand because they also have a loved one with dementia.

The support is open to anyone providing long-term caregiving, regardless of the diagnosis.

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

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