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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, June 27, 2008

Judges choose Rodeo Parade’s division winners

Golden Girl nominee Niki Lindemann and her group took first place in the Golden Girl float section of the West of the Pecos Parade, one of several division winners announced following the parade on Wednesday morning.

Lindemann’s float, featuring a covered wagon, took top honors, while nominee Donicia Marquez placed second with her float, which had a western saloon theme.

In the horse riding groups division of the parade, the Madera Riding Club placed first, with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Posse taking second.

Armstrong Steel placed first with his car in the classic cars division, while Wayne Sparkman placed second.

In the commercial division of the parade, the float with BMB Badger Services employees placed first and TransPecos Banks placed second.

Antique vehicles that won in the parade included an antique car owned by George Toone and second placed went to the Taylor family.

In the Civic Clubs division, Wally Moon placed first and the Ranger’s Girls Softball took second place.

Grand Marshal for the parade was Wendell Scott, a rancher and farmer who resides in Verhalen.

Parade attendees then had the opportunity to eat barbecue at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse or the Senior Citizens Center.

An Old-Timer’s Reunion at the West of the Pecos Museum, featured an array of food for those who watched the parade in the shade in front of the museum.

Monahans grad killed by pickup crash in Wickett

A recent graduate of Monahans High School and former Barstow resident died early Wednesday morning following a one-vehicle accident near his family’s home.

Joshua Daniel Rodriguez, 19, the son of Roxanne and Daniel Rodriguez of Wickett lost his life in the accident, which occurred on Wednesday around 2:50 a.m. in Wickett.

According to a report by Trooper Daniel Leyva with the Pecos Department of Public Safety, Rodriguez was traveling westbound in the 800 block of Fourth Street in Wickett when the vehicle left the roadway to the right.

Rodriguez was two blocks from his home Wednesday when he lost control of his vehicle. He then overcorrected the vehicle, causing it to go into a broadside skid and strike a chain link fence. The vehicle overturned and struck a carport at the residence of Debbie Salcido, located at Houston and Fourth Streets.

Rodriguez died while being flown by air ambulance to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He was the lone occupant of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Rodriguez and his family moved from Barstow to Wickett several years ago. He was a 2007 graduate of Monahans High School and was a star player on the Loboes’ football teams during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

Current NFR bareback champ takes early Pecos Rodeo lead

The defending champion in bareback riding at last year’s National Finals Rodeo jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday, following the opening night of competition at the 2008 West of the Pecos Rodeo.

Bobby Mote, the 2007 NFR winner, scored 87 points riding Grass Dancer early in Wednesday’s show, the first of the four nighttime performances.

Cowboys were back at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena Thursday morning for slack competition in tie-down roping, which was pushed back this year due to a conflict with the weeklong Reno, Nev., rodeo. The nightly performances will continue through Saturday, starting at 8 p.m. each night.

Mote’s ride gave him a three-point lead over Chris Harris, who scored 84 points riding Sunburn. Ryan Gray took the No. 3 spot on the opening night, with an 83-point effort on Black Magic.

Also taking the lead in his event with an 87-point score was Bryce Miller in saddle bronc riding. Miller rode Little River to first place following the first night of competition, while Jace Garrett is second,

scoring 83 points on First Lady, and Mo Forbes was third, with an 82-point score on Teddy Bear.

In bull riding, the early leader is Kanin Asay, who scored 84 points riding Snake Eyes. Chance Smart was second, with an 80-point score on board Riddin Dirty, while Jarrod Ford’s 79-point ride on Kingpin was good enough for third place on a night when only four of the 16 riders were able to make to the 8-second buzzer.

In the timed events, Luke Brown and Monty Joe Petska took the early lead in team roping, as their 7.7 time was a second up on Justin and Matthew Ingle. Shank Edwards and Tanner Blount were the only others to break the 10-second mark, placing third with a 9.8 second time.

Tie-down roping also had its first riders compete on Wednesday, with Cade Swor having the best time, at 10.4 seconds, with Pecos’ John Clark second, at 11.0 second. Tie-down continued Thursday morning, to complete the first go-round, and Scot Komos ended up in the top spot, with an 8.7 second time, followed by Clint Cooper and Joseph Parsons, at 9.9 seconds. Swor’s time for Wednesday night put him in fifth place overall.

Steer wrestling had its first go-round earlier in the week, and so far, winner Mickey Gee also leads in the average, with a combined 9.2-second time on two attempts. He won with a 4.2 second time and currently stands second to Clayton Hass in the second go-round, with a 5 flat time to Hess’ 4.9 effort.

Team roping had two go-rounds earlier in the week, and second go-round winner Rod Hartness holds the overall lead for cowboys who’ve already completed all three attempts. His 43.2 second total time includes an 11.5 second effort in the second go, and has him 5 1/2 seconds up in the average on Buster Record, who is tied for the lead in the third go-round with Leo Campbell, both with 12.5 second times. In barrel racing, Terra Bynum’s 17.7 second time during slack competition on Tuesday held up through Wednesday’s opening night performance. She’s one-hundredth of a second ahead of Shali Lord, while Sherry Cervi is in third place, with a 17.75 time. Wednesday’s best ride was by Shelly Morgan, at 17.85 seconds, which tied her for fifth with Wendy Culberson.

Slack in team roping will continue on Friday morning at the Buck Jackson Arena, while the open team roping competition for non-PRCA cowboys will be held on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. Also on Friday, the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the Hall’s future site, at the former Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot, beginning at 11 a.m.

Officials report little damage from brushfire

About nine acres of land burned Tuesday night in a brushfire east of Barstow, but no homes are located in that remote area of Ward County. “The call came in about 9:30 p.m.,” said Ward County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Luna.

The fire, which was believed to have been started by lightning storms in the area, burned about eight or nine acres of land, located east of Barstow on County Road 136.

Volunteer firefighters from Barstow, Pecos, Pyote and Wickett responded to the brush fire that took about three hours to extinguish.

“Luckily, there are no homes located in that area, there’s a lot of fence lines, so it must be privately owned land,” said Luna.

Luna said that they had trouble reaching the area because there are no roads and fencing around the entire property.

“That’s why we had to call in Pyote and Wickettt, because they brought in their brush truck, Barstow doesn’t have one,” said Luna.

Luna said that one of the fire trucks from Barstow had broken down as well and firefighters were having trouble with it. “There were no injuries,” said Luna.

Company sees railyard adding up to 500 jobs

The general manager of a company planning to build a new rail yard just west of Pecos said he hopes to have the first phase of the project operational by the spring of 2009, and that when fully developed, the yard could add 500 or more jobs to the local economy.

Farrell Arceneaux, general manager for Texsand Distributors LLP, made the presentation to a group of local officials Wednesday afternoon at the Reeves County Civic Center. Texsand and Montane Logistics are developing the Pecos Transmodal Railyard on land located adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad’s main line, north of Interstate 20 at the Locker Road overpass.

The company first presented the plan to Town of Pecos City and Reeves County officials last year. Arceneaux said the initial phase would involve construction a facility to off-load and store sand for use by drilling companies in the area closest to the railroad tracks, at an estimated cost of $12 million.

The second phase would involve building warehouses and extending track to the north so that oilfield service companies and other businesses could off-load materials that currently have to be transported in by truck. The cost of that phase could reach as high as $40 million.

“We weren’t thinking of other businesses when we started doing this. We were hoping to expand our sand business to take advantage of the energy industry,” Arceneaux said. He added the company already has developed a similar yard in the Fort Worth area to take advantage of the Barnett shale exploration efforts that are similar to those currently underway in the Trans-Pecos region.

“We do think that we’ll relieve some of the congestion in the Midland-Odessa area, and we have had interest from other industries like TSI (concrete),” he said. “All of the things that support the oil and gas sector will eventually end up at this point. Trucking it in from Fort Worth, or trucking it in from El Paso or Midland at this point isn’t practical with $5 diesel.”

Arceneaux said Texsand planned to use the facility to service a multi-county area, stretching from south of Fort Stockton into New Mexico. “We’re looking at going as far as the Hobbs and Artesia area, because those areas also have problems with rail service.”

He said the main hold-up right now is getting final approval from Union Pacific for the track connection, which initially will be for westbound trains, but the company eventually plans to have connections to hand trains coming from the El Paso area as well.

“The railroad has to bless everything we do,” Arceneaux said. “We have to have a special electric switch they can throw from Omaha (UP’s headquarters). That will be the biggest delay. But I think it will be in place no later than the first quarter of ’09.”

He said the company plans to use 100 of the 500-acre site for their business, while subdividing the other 400 acres for other companies looking to build warehouses next to the new rail connection. He said the parcels are expected to be about 15 acres each, but could be adjusted in size depending on use.

“You aren’t going to see those come in right away, but I do thing in two, three, four, five years time that will come,” Arceneaux said. He said it was hard to accurately gauge the number of jobs that would be created, but said based on the number of workers at yards of similar size elsewhere, the total could run from 400 to over 500 new jobs.

“These are not $5-$6 an hour jobs like at McDonald’s. These are well-paying jobs,” he said.

Aside from the drilling service-related use, Arceneaux said he’s already been contacted about using the yard to ship cottonseed to California, and that it could also be used to offload home construction materials, lowering the cost of building news houses or apartments in the area.

Texsand and Montane talked to city officials last year about extending water and sewer lines to the yard. Arceneaux said plans would be to extend the lines along Locker Road from the Reeves County Detention Center to the rail yard, and that the initial phase of the project wouldn’t use that much water.

“Water usage would not be that great for the facility itself. It would probably be fewer than 1,000 gallons monthly,” he said. However, the expanded project and an increase in drilling activity could use millions of gallons, and that the initial plans also propose a water treatment and recycling facility on-site to help limit the use of city water sources.

Council approves agreements on EMS billing, DARE officer

Town of Pecos City Council approved a new contract with the city’s collection agency for the Emergency Medical Service and tentatively approved a contract to provide a DARE officer for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools, during a special meeting held Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.

The council voted to enter into a four-year contract with Intermedics, which has been handling collections of EMS bills for the service for the past 2 1/2 years. The contract is longer than the previous agreement, but EMS chief Dennis Thorp said the change was due to the addition of new software and new laptop computers for use by ambulance crews.

“Initially to change the contract, they wanted to up the percentage 1 1/2 percent to get the new Toughbook (computers),” Thorp told the council. “But I was able to get them back down to 16 percent.” He said the longer contract was part of the agreement that allowed the city to keep Intermedics’ percentage of the collections at 16 percent, and that city attorney Scott Johnson, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting, had approved the contract.

“Scott said as long as we have a 90-day opt-out clause, he doesn’t have a problem with it,” Thorp said.

City manager Joseph Torres said Intermedics gets 12 percent of the collections as its service fee, and another 4 percent for the computers and software used by EMS crews. “Those are reasonable. Those Panasonic Toughbooks are very high-ticket items,” he said.

Council members did ask Thorp if on future billing reports he could break out the costs of the 911 calls and the transfer service calls, which the Pecos EMS took up earlier this year under an agreement between the city, Reeves County Hospital and Reeves County.

“We’ve got two other entities looking at that,” said mayor Dick Alligood. “If we can break it out, it would behoove us to.”

Thorp was also involved in a second council agenda item, the sale of property at 501 S. Palm St. Torres said the city had demolished a home on that site, next to Thorp’s residence, and he wanted to buy the property for a future home for his daughter and son-in-law.

“Both Julio (Quinones) and Scott said there are no liens on the property,” Thorp said, adding that his initial bid was put in to the local taxing entities in December. But Alligood noted that the city put off action on his original offer, and in February voted to make payment of demolition costs part of any future property sales agreements, since city crews are handling the demolition work.

“My bid happened before you made that decision,” Thorp said, and councilman Frank Sanchez recommended that the council send the issue back to Johnson for a ruling.

P-B-T school board members approved the agreement with the school district on stationing a DARE officer on campus on June 19. It will be the third time the program has been implemented in local schools, but past efforts were funded through outside sources.

“Right now we have no drug education in our schools,” said police chief Clay McKinney. “From what out department has found, we believe it’s an important responsibility we need in our community.”

Under the agreement, the city will provide the officer, vehicle, uniforms and training, while the school will pay the salary, overtime, benefits and stipend pay, based on the normal 187-day school year.

McKinney said the city would be getting two new patrol cars, and the DARE officer can use one of the vehicles scheduled for retirement.

“If we move an officer to DARE, I will ask to replace the officer,” he said. “If the program is stopped, we would have to lay him or her off.”

“It’s a very successful program, and good for the kids, but when the money runs out, they stop you in the middle of the road,” councilman Danny Rodriguez said of past DARE programs funded through state grants. “The state is good with grants, but then they expect you to take it over.”

P-B-T Superintendent Manny Espino said the officer will mainly work with students in the lower grades, and would probably be based at Bessie Haynes or Zavala Elementary. He added that the deal is a one-year agreement, and both sides will look at renewal of the agreement following the 2008-09 school year.

Sanchez asked about how the DARE officer would be used during the summer non-school months, while Alligood asked about the liability situation for the city under the agreement.

“He or she, unless you want to change it, would be off,” McKinney said. Espino said the 187-day salary would be full-year’s pay, and it would be up to the chief as to how the DARE officer would be used when school is not in session.

As far as liability, Espino said any potential legal action involving the city would also end up involving P-B-T ISD and its attorneys.

“The only thing I can tell you is we’re committed to combating the drug situation and committed to making the community better,” he said, after which the council approved the deal pending review by Johnson.

In other action on Tuesday, the council reappointed five members of the Zoning Board of Adjustments and also named a new member to the board, which decides on exceptions to the city’s zoning rules.

Arturo Granado was added to the board, while Jim Breese, Joe Coody, Bob Trammell, Jerry Matta and Mark Zuniga were reappointed to new two-year terms.

“Mark Zuniga has been on the board for a while, but he said if you can’t find somebody, he’d be willing to serve a little bit more,” Alligood said.

Hospital, Masons debate building repair costs

A deal made a decade ago by the Reeves County Hospital District to obtain storage space for records and equipment became the subject for discussion on Tuesday night, during the district’s regular monthly meeting.

The building in question is the Masonic Lodge at Seventh and Oak streets, and several members of the lodge were at Tuesday’s meeting to discuss problems with the structure, which was given to the hospital in 1998.

Lodge member Don Weaver said he brought the problem to the attention of hospital board member Jim Breese. He said due to declining membership in the 1990s and a decision by Reeves County to impose a property tax on the lodge’s building, members decided to donate the building to the hospital. Under the agreement, the Masons continue to use the southeast portion of the building for their meetings, while other parts are used by the hospital for storage.

“Under the agreement the hospital would maintain the Masonic Lodge building, but as far as I know since then no work has been done on the building,” said Weaver, who told board members leaks in the roof and along the east wall of the building are causing structural damage.

“From my understanding the other half of the building the hospital has has tremendous water damage,” he said. “If there’s anything we can do to help you, we’ll be glad to.”

Hospital CEO Al LaRochelle said he had been told rains in 2004 were the main cause of the current water damage, but that none of the damage to items stored inside would be a major loss for the hospital. “There are no medical records in there. It’s all financial records, and I’d venture to guess most has passed the statute of limitations,” he said, adding that some of the equipment is being stored because of the paperwork involved to dispose of obsolete hospital equipment.

“The records are your concern, but the building is our concern,” Weaver said. “I know the roof hasn’t been touched in 10 years.”

“If you want to let this fall down we’ll still have a Masonic Lodge. We’ll meet somewhere else, but the building will fall down,” he said, adding that the Lodge has reversed its downward membership numbers in recent years. “We’re trying to help get things turned round and make this community one we could be proud of.”

He said Masonic rules limit how much the organization can have for a building fund. The current structure was built in 1952, and had a valuation of $200,000. The deal to give it to the hospital was made through former hospital board member David Lovett, who also was a member of the Masons.

Under the deal, the hospital cannot sell the building as long as there is a Masonic Lodge active in Pecos, and the Masons agreed to contribute $500 annually for utilities and janitorial work. LaRochelle said increases in energy costs have raised the district’s expenses for gas and electricity to $3,000 a year.

“I can’t imagine why anybody in their sweet mind would enter into an agreement like that,” LaRochelle said. “We’re going to be using taxpayers’ money to support another non-profit organization.”

Lodge member Dale Toone said agreement was done to give the hospital storage space, and board president Linda Gholson said the hospital was able to get out of storage rental agreements at other sites following the 1998 deal.

“I don’t see where we have but two choices, to fix it or let it fall down,” said Breese.

LaRochelle said the district currently is in the process of getting bids on the roofing work for the Lodge building, which would be opened at the board’s regular July meeting. Hospital Chief Financial Officer Frank Seals estimated the bid would come in at between $25,000 and $30,000.

“The bids will open July 24, then you can decide the expenditures on that,” LaRochelle said. He added that the hospital would have to delay another project to shift funds into the roof repair work.

Breese also asked LaRochelle about the hospital’s Medicare payment situation. A keystroke error at the government’s Medicare payment office has left the hospital receiving only $1 per patient day in Medicare compensation, instead of the $1,000 a day the hospital was entitled to under the critical care facility designation.

LaRochelle said the mistake was keyed in on Sept. 19, and the shortfall since then has totaled $300,000.

“This is not an unusual deal with these people, and it takes time to fix,” he said. “They need to figure out how to fix the data and re-enter the information into their system.”

In other action, the board approved physician’s contracts with two new doctors scheduled to arrive in Pecos later this year. The agreements are with Dr. Steven Serrano, who will be in Pecos starting on Aug. 1, and Dr. Patricia Chisum, who will arrive on Nov. 1. Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. W.J. Bang said medical privilege agreements for the two haven’t been finalized yet, but would be ready by the board’s July 24 meeting.

The two are among four new doctors due to arrive in town by the end of the year. In connection with that, LaRochelle said he reached agreement with Fatu Darpolar, widow of Dr. Joseph Darpolar, to rent out his office space and medical equipment under a one-year deal at a cost of $2,000 per month.

Dr. Darpolar died in May. LaRochelle said the space was needed while the hospital awaits construction of a 20,000 square foot clinic where officials hope to house the new physicians. The board will hear three presentations and are scheduled to award the bid for the clinic as part of a special meeting this coming Tuesday in the hospital’s classroom.

Along with the physician discussions, the board also approved a trauma facility designation for the hospital, along with the annual report for the hospital’s Rural Health Clinic. They also approved the purchase of three lots across Texas Street from the hospital, at a cost of $13,500, which the hospital already had entered into an agreement to buy.

“I need to have formal approval of that. If you don’t, that means I’ve bought three lots,” LaRochelle said.

During discussions on monthly bills, Breese asked LaRochelle and Venetta Seals, director of public information for the hospital, if the district needed to spend $1,268 a month in advertising on local radio and in the newspaper. “We’re paying for ads, and I don’t know if we’re benefiting from it, since we’re the only hospital here,” he said.

Seals said the hospital has cut back on its advertising budget, but that the ads were still needed to let the public know what days specialty clinics that using visiting physicians would be held. “It’s the only way I know to let the community know when they are going to be here,” she said.

Aguilar receives several awards

Tommy Prieto Aguilar graduated from Del Valley High School and will be attending college in Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton and playing football for them.

He was awarded the Walton and Edward Endowed Academic Scholarship; awarded offensive MVP award and most outstanding in track and field.

He also received All Academics Awards for football and track.

Aguilar is the son of Eliazar and Lupe Salazar.

Grandparents are Juan and Teresa Prieto of Pecos.

Local students receive scholarships from foundation

Permian Honor Scholarship Foundation, Inc. has awarded scholarships totaling $265,000 to Permian Basin students who wish to pursue their education at Howard College in Big Spring, Midland College, New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, Odessa College and The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Since 1977, the foundation has awarded 2,374 area students with scholarships totaling $5,731,000.

Permian Honor Scholarship Foundation, Inc. a private foundation was established by J. Conrad and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan, to provide scholarships to area high school graduates in order for them to remain in the Permian Basin for their higher education.

Pecos High School graduates Maritza Acosta and Matthew Florez were each awarded Permian Honor Scholarships in the amount of $9,600 to attend UTPB.

Acosta plans to major in pre-med with a minor in chemistry. She is the daughter of David and Lupe Acosta and is sponsored by the Dunagan Living Trust of Monahans.

Florez plans to major in public administration and minor in engineering. He is the son of Julian and Francis Florez and is sponsored by West Texas State Bank in Monahans.

For more information about the foundation, call 432-552-2832.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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