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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Group to help on Thanksgiving with Meals on Wheels deliveries

A new group will be delivering meals to those individuals who can’t leave their home for one reason or another on Thanksgiving Day.

The “We Care Civic Club,” has decided to undergo the task of making the Meals on Wheels deliveries for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We know that a lot of these people don’t have anybody and sometimes no way to go anywhere,” said Marcie Martinez, a member of the club. “We decided we would take on the deliveries for that day.”

Sulema Ulate and her husband, Juan, have asked the Lion’s Club for help in serving the meals at the Reeves County Civic Center on that day, but they couldn’t do the Meals on Wheels deliveries.

“Since they are going to make the meals there, but can’t do the deliveries, the Christian Home has decided to do the deliveries,” said Martinez.

Martinez, along with the Pecos Christian Home, where the meals will be cooked, will be helping out the home-bound. The group is in dire need of donations, including turkeys, candied yams, desserts and anything else they would like to donate.

“Maria Martinez, the director of the Christian Home, will be there all week during the Thanksgiving Holiday week,” said Martinez. “They can take their donations there and we appreciate everything.”

The Christian Home is usually open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., but on that week, it will be open much later.

“So many of these people don’t have anybody and we really need to do something for them,” said Martinez.

For more information or to contact Martinez, individuals can call, 448-7229 or go to the Christian Home, 1201 S. Elm St.

Commissioners honor deputy, eye bond plans

A fallen officer was remembered fondly this morning during a ceremony held at the Reeves County Courthouse. A plaque was presented to the family of Jaime Rodriguez, who died on May 16, 2002, while on duty with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force.

Rodriguez was killed during a shootout with a passenger on a Greyhound bus during a drug interdiction search of the vehicle while it was stopped in downtown Pecos. His family was on hand Monday during the regular Reeves County Commissioner’s Court meeting, where the presentation was held.

John Carter, president of the Big Bend Law Enforcement Association, made the special presentation to the family, which included Rodriguez’ widow, Diana and his two children, Jessica and his son, Jayme Lee.

Carter told the group assembled that he knew Rodriguez from when he worked for him as a Border Patrol agent in California.

“He was a wonderful man, a wonderful father and was the hardest working agent that we lost in Border Patrol,” said Carter.

Carter said that Rodriguez had a lot of experience in the law enforcement. “It’s not things that you get accomplished, but the character of a person,” he said.

“We’ve honored 137 fallen officers, now we have 138, with the addition of another one, who have been killed in the Big Bend area,” said Carter. “Today, we’re going to honor one, because he was special, he stood out.”

Carter said that Rodriguez had a certain nobility of spirit and that he really cared about others.

“That’s why he joined law enforcement,” said Carter. “Service to mankind is something we are all involved in, no matter what our vocation is.”

He presented a small replica plaque with a bullet casing to Rodriguez’ son, Jayme, who was six years old at the time his dad was killed.

“When someone we love leaves us, we’re the ones left behind, but because of the promise of our Lord, our souls will reunite someday,” said Carter.

The gun-casing presented to Jayme Lee, was from the 21-gun salute held during Rodriguez’ funeral in 2002.

Carter said that he was thinking of his own children and wife, if he died. “If I died, would this community be a family to my wife and kids and I don’t want this family to think that they are alone,” he said.

Carter said that the plaque had an exact duplication of Rodriguez name on the plaque at Sul Ross State University and lists the many fallen officers from the Big Bend area. “We also had the shell casing from the 21-gun salute in there, so that you can always remember your dad and the good work that he did,” said Carter.

A slide show presentation was also held during the ceremony and an array of photos was displayed.

In other business, the commissioners approved a payment to Architects Dailey and Spear in the amount of $53,672.

“My question was, that I thought that these fees would be paid for from the bonds,” said county auditor Lynn Owens, referring to the $16.5 million in revenue bonds approved by voters in the Nov. 4 general election.

“I talked to the financial adviser to see if we could spend some of these funds, but we need a resolution and I didn’t get one in time for this, so what we need to do is pay it out of the general fund and then get reimbursed,” said Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras.

“I see they only billed 60 percent and we still have 40 percent left,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Alvarado.

“Yes, this is for the schematic design,” said Contreras. “Maybe by then we’ll have a resolution in place,” he said.

The designs were for the projects that were outlined and put before the voters during the November elections. Voters approved Proposition 1, which includes the construction of a new sports complex, renovations for the golf course and park upgrades, and Proposition 2, which provides for a new library, passed with a majority of support from voters. “These construction projects truly represent an opportunity to provide high-quality facilities to Reeves County citizens, to draw visitors to our community, and to have others settle here,” said Contreras. “Quality of life goes hand-in-hand with economic development, and these projects show our commitment to build a better, stronger community, one where companies and people want to live.”

He said that moving forward with the community’s support, the commissioners court will soon meet with the architects to discuss a construction timeline and priorities. Such issues to be worked out in the meeting include which construction project will begin first and when the construction will begin.

Also during Monday’s meeting, local business owner Leo Hung spoke to the group about the proposals and bonds. “I wanted to congratulate the court on the passing of the Propositions 1 and 2 and I hope that you will allow community input for all the projects by forming subcommittees,” said Hung. “We’re all taxpayers and hopefully the court will spend the money efficiently.”

Pecos Economic Development Executive Director Rob Tobias told the group that he was looking forward to working with the county on the projects.

“I look forward to working with you and making the most of this investment,” said Tobias.

Nancy Martinez who worked with Hung and others in getting voters to support the bond issues, said that the majority of the people had spoken. “They send the message that they voted in favor of the bond proposals to get the things that they need,” said Martinez.

Voters did reject a $500,000 bond issue to support improvements to the county’s 4-H and FFA facilities, but Martinez said they are working to find other financing methods.

“As individual citizens we got together with Logan (Lair, county extension agent) and offered our assistance to raise funds to get things that he needs for 4-H,” said Martinez. “He’s applied for four grants and has been guaranteed some monies, but we plan to help him through fundraisers to get the things that he needs.”

Rodeo arena board urged to fix stands

Replacement of the south stands at the Buck Jackson Rodeo Arena should be the top priority for the arena’s venue tax board, those attending a Town Hall meeting on Thursday at the Reeves County Civic Center agreed.

But plans for renovating and repairing other parts of the arena and the Civic Center brought a variety of different ideas from the small group in attendance.

Members of the venue tax board heard from several local residents during the meeting, which lasted a little over an hour. The meeting was called to discuss options for using the new 2 percent hotel/motel venue tax, which was implemented in January, and which is expected to raise about $100,000 this year.

West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee Chairman Joe Keese stressed to the board the need to replace the south stands, which have been repaired several times since termite and other damage was discovered to the wooden supports just prior to the 2004 rodeo.

“The south side stands need to have a bonfire. They’re aging and dangerous,” said Keese, who added the uncovered outer grandstands need to be removed or replaced with portable stands.

“I’m not trying to take tradition away from the arena, but it would be better if we do not have the back 40 in Monahans,” he said of the outer stands at the far east end of the arena.

“I like what Joe was outlining here. We need to take this in steps,” Paul Armstrong said, while adding that the board needs to maintain the look of the current arena, which he said was built at its current size to fit steer roping and saddle bronc riding events.

“As far as the size of this arena, that’s a tradition. I feel like we don’t need to cut it down one square foot,” he said. Cody West, the newest member of the venue tax board, agreed that the arena didn’t need to take on a modern look. “The big reason people come to this rodeo is because of the atmosphere,” he said.

Keese said a new south stands could be built similar to the current north stands, which aren’t as long but have more rows of seats and a larger capacity. Concession and rest room facilities that are ADA compliant can be put in under those stands.

Armstrong and others said the arena’s rest room facilities, especially on the north side, need to be improved, while a few additional pens and electrical connections for rodeo cowboys’ trailers need to be installed on the southeast side of the arena.

“We definitely need something in the plan, but as much as the cowboys would love to have it (electricity), it doesn’t need to be at the top of the plan,” Keese said.

West also asked about ways to relieve crowding at the narrow front ticket windows and gates on rodeo nights. He said separate lines for ticket buyers and ticket holders could help with that problem, while Keese said the rodeo is planning to go to an electronic ticketing system in 2009, which should also cut down on the lines.

Keese also asked the venue tax board to look at a more modern watering system for the arena grounds, to replace the county water truck currently used. “It’s hard to keep the ground consistent all four days,” he said.

Keese also spoke about the problems with the Civic Center, which he and others hope to convert to a convention center at visitor’s bureau, under a plan to allow maintenance and operations there to be funded by the city’s hotel/motel bed tax, while all venue tax funds could go towards remodeling that building and the rodeo arena.

He said recent events like the muscle car stopover in Pecos, “are the story of things we can attract, but we need a facility we can house them.”

Keese talked about expanding the climate controlled area inside the building, and the option of creating a multi-purpose area in the rear of the facility that could be set up for either livestock shows or dances. Board member Hugh Box added that groups currently using the exhibition area would like to have the roof extended over the hog pens on the southeast side, to keep bad weather out during the winter shows.

Space would also have to be designed in to house a new convention and visitor’s bureau, and Debbie Thomas with the West of the Pecos Museum recommended separating the Civic Center’s current restrooms from use during rodeo events.

Pecos Economic Development Corp. executive director Robert Tobias mentioned other improvements, such as fully paving the parking lot at the Civic Center to cut the dust problems, and told board members they should look at what other cities have done with their convention center projects.

“We’re not the first ones to try and take a facility like this and made it better,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to take outside advice.”

“We just need more area under heating and cooling, and a little higher ceilings,” Keese said. “I don’t think we need to go too far or too fancy.”

Venue tax board president and Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras said the state rules under which the venue tax board operates will require some sort of action to be taken early next year towards issuing bonds for whatever the board decides will be the initial project.

“If we need something to get moving, the stands at the rodeo arena are the easiest to get going,” Keese said.

Area cities again see drop in tax rebate checks

Sales tax rebate checks for all three cities in Reeves County were down from last year’s totals for the second month in a row, and down for the third time in the past four months for the Town of Pecos City, according to figures released on Friday by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office.

Combs sent out checks to cities, counties and other special purpose districts for their share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax, and the totals for Pecos, Balmorhea and Toyah based on their 1 1/2-cent sales tax figures all were lower from a year ago. However, both Pecos and Balmorhea remain up by double-digits for the year, and the November tax rebate check for Reeves County Hospital based on its 1/2-cent sales tax also reported a double-digit increase.

Pecos’ check for $160,179 was down only slightly from last November, when the city got $165,767 back from the comptroller. That’s a 3.37 percent drop, but for the year overall, the city has received $1,750,760 back, a 25.15 percent rise from the $1,398,849 in 2007. Of this month’s total, one-sixth, or $26,680, goes towards the Pecos Economic Development Corp. for its operations.

The $1.75 million rebate total is the highest ever in a single year for Pecos, and is $1 million above the total Pecos received for all of 2003, just before the boom in oil and natural gas drilling began. However, the recent numbers do show that the drilling boom as leveled off, and the sharp drop over the past three months in energy prices could result in future sales tax revenue declines.

Balmorhea’s November tax rebate check was for $3,338, a 23.44 percent drop from the $4,360 it received last year. Overall for the first 11 months of 2008, the city has gotten $34,719 back from Austin, which is still a 10.71 percent increase over last year’s $31,360.

Toyah saw a sharp drop in its rebate check this month, falling 58.34 percent, from $2,002 to $834. That drop also put Toyah behind in tax rebate collections overall for 2008. The city has received $9,913 so far this year, a 6.72 percent drop from last year’s $10,627.

The numbers were better this month for the Reeves County Hospital District. It got back $114,433 from the comptroller, a 42.18 percent rise from last year’s $80,482. Overall for the year, the hospital’s 1/2-cent sales tax has netted $1,063,995, the first time that total has ever surpassed the $1 million mark, and a 45.49 percent rise from the 11-month total of $731,308 in 2007.

Across the area this month, most other towns continue to report double-digit increases in their tax rebate checks. Midland’s check from its 1 1/2-cent sales tax was $4.2 million up 26.76 percent from last year, and was the largest single check sent out for the area. Overall for 2008, the city has seen a 15.19 percent rise in its sales tax totals. Odessa’s 1 1/4-cent share of the state’s sales tax share brought in $2.1 million, an increase of 15.19 percent, while for the year, Odessa is up 12.12 percent.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received a $99,465 check, which was up 4.02 percent. Overall, Alpine is up 7.9 percent in tax rebates this year. Crane received a check for $65,433, up 36.61 percent, while the city is up 19.98 percent for the year. Lamesa got a $131,323 check back this month, which was up 8.84 percent, and its 2008 total is up 12.23 percent. Seminole received a check for $114,913, which was up 14.12 percent, while overall, its 2008 totals are up 10.45 percent.

Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $59,863, which was up 17.87 percent from last November. The city is up overall for 2008 by 7.56 percent. Wickett received an $11,175 check, down 18.35 percent this month, but for the year the total is still up 38.52 percent; Wink received a check for $17,829, up 179.60 percent for the month, and the overall 2008 total is up by 104.76 percent; and Pyote, received a $1,762 check for November, a 30.61 percent increase, and the city is up 28.68 percent for the year.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $418,835, a 37.71 percent increase for the month, while its nine-month total is up 20.78 percent. Marfa got a check for $24.742, which was up 1.51 percent, and for the year the city is up 7.23 percent, and Van Horn got a check for $30,177, which was down 4.04 percent from a year ago. Van Horn is down 2.56 percent for all of 2008.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Fort Stockton received $328,105 this month, up 32.91 percent, while the city is up 36.91 percent overall this year. Big Spring received $599,976, a 14.31 percent rise for the month, while overall the city’s total is up by 12.92 percent increase for the year. Monahans received a check for $172,877, which was up 23.31 percent, while the city’s increase for 2008 is 21.86 percent. Grandfalls got a $3,329 check, up 33.24 percent for the month, and the city is up 17.37 percent for the year, while Presidio received $27,726 this month from Austin, down 22.25 percent from last November. This month’s collections were based on sales made during September, which was the period when flooding on the Rio Grande flooded sections of the city and closed off the International Bridge connection with Ojinaga for most of the month. Overall, Presidio is down 3.66 percent for the first 11 months of 2008 compared to a year ago.

Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $373.9 million, compared with the $359.4 million rebated last year, an increase of just over 4 percent. Houston’s check for $43.9 million again was the largest single check and was up just over 1 percent from last year, while Dallas’ check was next, at $21 million, which was down just over 1 percent from last year.

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

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