Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Council given building work, street updates
Town of Pecos City Council members were given an update on the city’s current infrastructure projects on Thursday, including reconstruction of a major east-west street, and plans for the city’s new animal shelter, which council members were told has come in sharply over the original budget.
The council also heard a request to purchase several items for the Pecos Volunteer Fire Department, including rural firefighting equipment, during their three-hour meeting at City Hall.
City public works director Edgardo Madrid went over the list of current projects, including plans to redo Lincoln Street between Cedar and Eddy streets. The project involves repaving the street in conjunction with Reeves County, since the central section of the street is not within the city limits.
“Both of the entities paid half of the survey,” Madrid said. “We got the survey in, and we’re going to do the design in-house.”
He said they hope to have the design plans done by the end of this month, and could start the project in July. “A portion will be to redo the whole street, and another portion will be only seal-coating, because it’s in pretty good condition.”
Councilman Frank Sanchez asked Madrid and city manager Joseph Torres if the city could look at annexing all of Lincoln Street into the city limits. “It would make things a lot easier for law enforcement,” he said.
Madrid said city crews also have just finished one series of abandoned home demolitions, and were working on a list of additional condemned structures to be torn down. “There are some we really desperately need to get to,” he said, adding demolition on the most urgent sites can be done before the final list of 17 homes is compiled.
A total of 23 homes were torn down during the recent effort, and Madrid told the council, “Reports are being done right now to send over to Jack Brookshire (city building inspector) and Scott Johnson (city attorney) to file liens on the properties.”
He said work is continuing on the east side sewer line project, though the work won’t be done in time to meet the original grant rules from the Office of Rural Community Affairs.
“That’s going to be an ongoing project, and it’s going to be for years to come until they finish it,” he said. “At this time, we’re looking for a one-year extension, and we’re looking at alternatives to complete that project.”
He said the construction time frame was narrow because of competing projects the city crews had to work on, along with the loss of workers to higher-paying oilfield jobs, and the time it took to get the final plans completed.
Madrid said the city already has begun work on digging a new pit for the landfill site south of town, while work as been delayed on the recycling center at the site. However, work has been delayed on a couple of projects, including completion of the new police department shooting range and improving curbs and sidewalks in the Maxey Park area due to a need to redirect funds to other projects, including the construction of a new animal shelter next to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.
“The animal shelter, when we first started the project, we decided to put $50,000 in an do it as an in-house job to try and lower the cost,” he said. “However, the design we finalized and with all the amenities we put into it, it went over what we expected.
Madrid said the city is ready to seek bids on the project, which is now expected to cost about $260,000. “That’s why we are looking into alternatives for financing on the project,” he said.
The fire department’s request was made by Noe Ybarra, who asked the council to seek a grant through the Texas Forest Service for purchase of emergency rescue equipment, at a cost of $15,000; 10 structural firefighting gear for the department, at a cost of $8,700, along with lightweight rural firefighting gear, to be purchased through the TFS.
Ybarra said the Forest Service would do a 75 percent match on the funding from the city, and that the request could be processed by the Texas Forest Service during their next quarterly meeting.
Councilman Cody West asked if the fire department was looking at getting a brush truck to use on calls to rural brush fire. Ybarra said the city has a nine-year-old brush truck, but that it lacks the water capacity the department would like.
“I’m thinking if we had brush trucks to go fight brush fires, instead of using our regular units, we could use the brush trucks to go fight that, and our units would remain in the hall,” West said. “I know situations like that have happened, where there’s a structure fire in town and two or three units are off at the Culberson County line fighting a fire.”
Alligood asked Ybarra to go back and put together a proposal on a new brush truck and get back to the council, which then approved seeking the TFS grant for the other items, pending approval by Reeves County Commissioners.
“We spend their money, and we don’t like to do it unless we talk to them,” the mayor said, noting that the county subsidizes the fire department for calls outside the city limits.
In other action, the council tentative approved removing an unused section of Morris Street between Jefferson and Jackson streets from the city’s street plat. Clyde Daugherty made the request for George Hernandez and the family of H.P. Bryan, whose homes were built 50 years ago, but are in the listed right-of-way. He said clearing the title would make it easier for Bryan’s heirs to settle the property issues.
The council agreed to make the change pending a second reading of an ordinance. They asked Madrid to look into the matter before that reading, to make sure there are no city utilities along the Morris Street right-of-way.
During public comments, he council heard from Belinda Ruiz about problems she and her husband had with Ram Kunwar while she was serving as manager of the Pecos Inn.
Ruiz said she had not been paid for her work, and was accused of stealing a computer by Kunwar, who has been awarded bids over the past four years by the city of a number of parcels of land, including the right to develop 25 acres near Reeves County Hospital and the construction of apartments in a four-square block area behind Gibsons, in the 700-800 blocks of Washington Street.
“It is a civil issue between Mrs. Ruiz and the business owner, but I guess they just wanted to bring it to council’s attention,” Alligood said. Johnson said there are proper channels the Ruizes can go through to enforce public debt.
Zoning board positions filled, city hunting health inspector
Pecos City Council members filled some vacancies on the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission, and began a search for a new city health inspector, following Thursday’s meeting at City Hall.
Four current members of the zoning board were named to new terms, while four new appointments were made to the commission, which hears requests for zoning changes from local land and homeowners. Mayor Dick Alligood said Jess Stevens, John Teague, Lynn Owens and Kenneth Russell have asked to stay on the board, while George Vasquez, Linda Gholson and Tom Rivera have agreed to serve on the board.
For the final position the council agreed to nominate Pecos Economic Development Corp. president Robert Tobias, at the suggestion of city attorney Scott Johnson.
“We can’t have a proper EDC without a proper planning and zoning,” Alligood said.
The council also approved retaining city secretary Crissy Barraza and city building inspector Jack Brookshire as alternates to the commission.
The decision on the health inspector came following a 30-mintue executive session and the acceptance of the resignation of Alfredo Gomez from the position, effective at the end of the month.
The council earlier in the three-hour meeting heard an update from Max Usanov of Johnson Controls on the accuracy of the electronic water meters put in by the company three years ago. Usanov said the random tests showed an accuracy rate of better than 98 percent, and that the cost savings for the city over the three-year period has exceeded the original $141,561 estimate by over $71,000.
City manager Joseph Torres said the meters help the city by sending out signals when they are not functioning properly and record either abnormally high or low usage. He said in one case that even involved the use of a magnet by a customer to prevent the meter’s dials from operating.
“The good part about this for our customers is we want them to know these meters are being read accurately,” Torres said. “With the software and computers we’ve purchased, this has been a more effective billing system.
Council promised delayed audit arriving soon
Town of Pecos City Council members finally got a chance to talk to auditor Tracy Tartar on Thursday night, during their regular council meeting. They just didn’t get to talk to him in person, and are still waiting to see the city’s 2007 audit report, which was expected to be completed three months ago.
For the second time in as many years, council members voiced their displeasure at the delays in receiving the city’s audit report, and talked to Tartar by phone from his office in Fort Worth. They were told that the delays at this time will not affect the status of Pecos $6.7 million, interest-free loan from the Texas Water Development Board, and were promised that the audit report would be ready for them by this Friday.
Tartar was hired by the city last fall to conduct the 2007 audit, despite missing several deadlines and meetings with the council after he was hired to replace CPA Dan Painter in conducting Pecos’ 2006 audit. On Thursday, Tatar told council members his brother’s illness has contributed to the delays, though he knew last year that he was unlikely to meet the original early 2008 deadline.
“I’m getting towards the end. I’ve been swamped with everything. That’s why I told the city back in September when I tried to resign, I told them I’d be late, but I’m later than what I thought I would be,” he said.
The city and Tartar were able to get enough information to the TWDB last month to meet the deadline for the 30-year $6.7 million loan at zero percent interest, which will be used to rebuild and expand Pecos’ wastewater treatment plant. Tartar said he has talked with TWDB officials, and the latest delays won’t adversely affect the loan, though city officials were concerned any further delays could cause problems with the state agency.
“I did know it was going to be late in September, but I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead and done it if I knew I wouldn’t have it until June,” he said.
Mayor Dick Alligood asked city officials if they had double-checked, to see if there were no problems with TWDB. City manager Joseph Torres said they had spoken with the agency, and they were OK for now with the city’s loan, despite not having gotten all the financial information.
Torres told the council new people in several of the city’s financial offices may also have slowed the process, but that he has been collecting names of CPAs so that the city can solicit bids from other sources for the 2008 audit.
“I feel comfortable with the next auditor we will get the audit when expected,” Torres said.
“Once he delivers it, we’ll go to Plan B,” Torres said, referring to the auditor search. “If he doesn’t deliver it this month…”
“We’re hurting,” Alligood said.
While the full report wasn’t in, Tartar told the council the city was in better financial shape than in past years, though the General Fund continues to show a loss and the $900,000 netted by the city’s Water and Sewer Rate Fund is going towards covering that deficit.
“Your cash-on-hand is $3 million, which is up from a third of that or less,” he told the council.
He said one problem the city needs to correct is bidding out more items in the $10,000 to $25,000 range, and departments doing better reporting on any grant funding they receive. “There are some little things like that, but nothing negative or truly serious,” Tartar said.
Pageant to open rodeo events on Friday
Rodeo Week events are scheduled to get underway this Friday in Pecos, with the Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant prior to the start of the 2008 West of the Pecos Rodeo on June 25.
The pageant will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, at the Pecos High School Auditorium and will feature seven Golden Girl nominees and six Little Miss Cantaloupe Contestants.
Vying for the Golden Girl title include Lillian Gutierrez, daughter of Maria Gutierrez; Victoria Herndon, daughter of Richard and Bonny Herndon; Niki Lindemann, daughter of Jeff and JoAnn Lindemann; Stephanie Lucas, daughter of Steve and Diana Lucas; Donicia Marquez, daughter of Julio and Tammy Quinones; Elva Martinez, daughter of Carlos and Yvette Romo and Janette Perea, daughter of B.K. Perea.
Little Miss Cantaloupe contestants are: Vanessa Chacon, seven years old, parents, Debra and Jesse Chacon; Clarissa Millan, seven years old, daughter of Dorinda and Jerry Millan; Eileen Overcash, six years old, daughter of Billy Ray and Martha Overcash; Arianna Rayos, seven years old, Jazlynn Iman Rodriguez, seven years old, parents, Dephanie Ortega and David Rodriguez and Hailey Nicole Vasquez, seven years old, daughter of Bobby and Patricia Vasquez.
Tickets are currently on sale at the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Office, 111 S. Cedar for $15 each.
Most of the other Rodeo Week events will be held on the days when the rodeo takes place, from June 25-28 at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.
The West of the Pecos Rodeo Parade will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 25, along Third Street and though Downtown Pecos. Line-up will be at 8 a.m., at the intersection of Third Street and Balmorhea Highway.
The Old Timer’s Reunion will be held at 9 a.m. that day, where everyone will gather at the West of the Pecos Museum for refreshments and to view the parade.
A barbecue lunch will be held on that day at noon, at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Barn.
From June 25 through June 28, the West of the Pecos Rodeo will take place at 7:30 p.m., at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena.
The Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse will feature nightly dances during the rodeo and on Wednesday and Thursday, Gunslinger will perform and on Friday and Saturday, Texas Rain will be on hand.
On Friday, June 27, the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held with a barbecue luncheon at 11 a.m.
A West of the Pecos Rodeo Dance will be held on Saturday, June 28, featuring the popular, Tejano group, “Control.”
Local rodeo events will include a Wild Cow Milking on Wednesday; a boot scramble at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, with a bicycle to be given as a prize; Tough Enough to Wear Pink/Hide Race, on Thursday; a kids’ calf scramble with a West of the Pecos Rodeo belt buckle as a prize, and the Wild Mare Race on Friday. The two best of each of the local events the first three nights will compete in the finals.
Classic team roping, for non-PRCA members, will be held on Saturday, June 28, with the books open at 8 a.m. and roping at 9 a.m. The 12 top finishers there will advance to Saturday night’s finals.
Rodeo officials said due to conflicts with the Reno, Nev. Rodeo, slack competition times were changed this year. Slack will commence on Monday, June 23, with steer roping at 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, June 24, ladies barrel racing will be held at 7:30 a.m. and steer roping at 5:30 p.m. Team Roping slack will be held at 7:30 a.m., Thursday, June 26; calf roping at 7:30 a.m., Friday, June 27.
End of year luncheon held at church fellowship hall
Members of The Modern Study Club of Pecos and guests met on May 12, for the club’s Annual End of Year Luncheon, at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.
Following grace and eight members and 13 guests enjoyed a covered dish luncheon.
Following the luncheon, President Williamson introduced Joe Villalobos, the recipient of The Modern Study Club’s Pecos High Senior Scholarship for 2008. Presented annually for the past 32 years the scholarship is in the amount of $500. Villalobos told of his plans to attend Texas Tech University and pursue his degree in electrical engineering. His mother, Yolanda Villalobos was a special guest for luncheon and her son’s presentation.
Louise Moore, Continuing Education Coordinator for Odessa College, Pecos Center, installed the officers for 2008-2010 as follows: Margie Williamson, president and reporter; Lena Harpham, vice-president and parliamentarian; Catherine Travland, secretary and Betty Lee, treasurer.
The club’s $50 donation for “Dollars for Scholars” was presented to Louise Moore for the Odessa College Pecos Fund. This fund, supported by The Modern Study Club for several years assists students who otherwise would not receive any financial aid.
Mrs. Williamson presided over the business meeting and the Collet was led by Betty Lee and the pledges of Allegiance to the United States of America and Texas Flags were led by Catherine Travland.
Minutes of April 18, were read by secretary Travland and treasurer Betty Lee presented statement of club finances and annual written report.
A thank you note from Laura Teal was read for a “Cross on a Stand,” she received for judging art during the Texas Federation of Woman’s Clubs’ 48th Annual Western District Convention held in Pecos March 15.
Western District President Catherine Travland presents a report on the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs 111th Annual Spring Convention wit the theme, “Hats Off in Houston,” held April 23-26.
As WD President, she participated in the installation ceremony of 2008-2010 TFWC Officers.
President Travland also presented a short pep talk on ESO (Epsilon, Sigma, Omicron), during the Orientation Breakfast. ESO is an educational reading program offered to TFWC members. She has been TFWC ESO Chairman and Secretary since its re-instatement in federation in Texas in 2003.
Vanessa Valeriano of Pecos was the recipient of the TFWC Eleanor Tipps State Scholarship in the amount of $600. Vanessa had advanced to the state competition after being chosen at the district level. She plans to attend Texas Tech this fall to pursue her degree in architecture. She has been attending Angelo State the past two years.
Paula Fuller, Federation Counselor, reported on program updates. Under Conservation even little changes can make a huge environmental difference such as always walk through revolving doors. When you enter or exit a building through regular swing doors, rooms lose heat.
She also that that services designed to aid victims of domestic violence are coming up short. A significant number of requests went unmet due to lack of funding and staff to meet the demand. She recommended getting involved by donating time or money to local shelters.
The counselor also spoke about Education Department matters and told there is a video for kids, an animated digital version of “Horton Hears A Who!” by Dr. Seuss being released. This Seuss classic will be available for free on KidThing.
She continued, under Health, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate more that five ounces of nuts per week suffered 1/3 fewer heart attacks.
Also, this year, Heifer International is offering a new way to give. Instead of funding animals that are sent to communities worldwide, one now has the opportunity to choose from a selection of specific Heifer projects. Projects range from agricultural work in Poland to sustainable community development projects in Nepal and are covered in the International Affairs Department.
President Williamson announced her theme for 2008-2010 would be “Texas: Make a Great State Better – Volunteer with Vision.
Roll call was answered by giving program suggestions for next year and they included conservation; under education literacy; international affairs – Middle East; and TFWC President’s Special Project – Domestic Violence.
The project for this meeting is club member’s involvement in community affairs.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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