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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, November 21, 2008

‘Tumbleweed’ rolling towards 40th anniversary

Visiting with people and learning more about their lives is one of the main reasons that one West Texas “celebrity” keeps doing what he’s doing.

Tumbleweed Smith, creator and producer of “The Sound of Texas” was on hand Wednesday, at KIUN Radio Station in Pecos, promoting his new CD, signing autographs and just visiting with the local folks.

“This new CD represents the best program from the early years of ‘The Sound of Texas’,” said Bob Lewis, who as Tumbleweed Smith will mark the 40th anniversary of his radio program on Aug. 1 of next year.

In his 39 professional years, Tumbleweed has interviewed some true Texas characters and assembled the largest private collection of oral history in the United States. He writes a syndicated weekly newspaper column (which is printed in the Pecos Enterprise) and teaches broadcasting at the university level.

The 10,000th broadcast of “The Sound Of Texas” aired on Feb. 7 of this year. The first interview subject was movie actor Jon Voight, who had been in Big Spring filming “Midnight Cowboy.” Voight, who had the leading role of Joe Buck, became a star in that film, and earlier this year Voight was also the interview subject on the 10,000th broadcast of “The Sound of Texas.”

Tumbleweed started his series while employed as news director at KHEM radio in Big Spring. “We had just put a man on the moon,” says Tumbleweed, “and Texans had a lot to do with that undertaking. I wanted to delve into the Texas spirit, travel the state, interview all kinds of people and report my findings on a daily statewide radio program.”

He sent out 65 sample programs and one station, KZZN in Littlefield, signed up for the series. “Man, I thought that was great. I had a network, two stations.”

Within a month, five stations had signed up for the series and Tumbleweed quit his job at the radio station. “I knew what I wanted to do and was going to do it.”

Smith seeks fascinating people who embody the spirit of the lone star state and brings them into the homes and hearts of thousands. “You just start doing something and you just keep doing it,” he said.

Smith was on “Pecos Talking” Wednesday morning talking about his new CD and community members showed up at the local radio station to talk to Smith, following the broadcast, during the reception held in his honor.

“I cover every city from El Paso to Texarkana, the Texas Line to Harlingen,” said Smith. “Each week it’s a different city and new people,” he said.

Smith said that when he gets ‘low’ on one part of the state, he goes to another.

“I was in television and radio nearly nine years and enjoyed doing reports, but I wanted to visit people and learn more about their lives,” said Smith. “I enjoy visiting with people and find out how Texans have fun and then promote it.”

Smith drove 200,000 miles over Texas in the early 1970s, dropping into radio stations, selling his program and getting interviews. He says the series doesn’t seem like work because he has so much fun doing it. He has never considered retirement. The series became the state’s most widely syndicated Texas feature program.

Tumbleweed has taught broadcast production and speech at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa since 1974. He also does a statewide syndicated newspaper column.

RCH board gives approval to new equipment purchases

Reeves County Hospital District board members voted to purchase two new pieces of equipment one for the hospital’s nursing department and the other for its nursery, during their regular monthly meeting in the hospital’s classroom Monday night, while putting off action on buying a new computer system for the entire facility.

Board members approved the purchase of the first of four planned defibrillators for the hospital’s nursing department and agreed to buy a ‘baby warmer’ for the nursery, with the two items coming in at a cost of just over $28,000.

The Physio Control Life Pak defibrillator will replace a 14-year-old unit the hospital currently has, according to Faye Lease, the hospital’s director of nursing.

“The two newest ones we have went down at the same time. That’s why we got to this point,” she said. “Without having a new one, we feel it would be unsafe.”

Hospital CEO Al LaRochelle said the unit would cost $8,178, with a $500 trade-in for the older unit.

He said the baby warmer would replace the oldest of the hospital’s three units, which they had no information available on the date of its purchase. The others were bought in 1983 and 2000, and the new unit would cost about $20,000.

“We’re trying to update the equipment within our means,” LaRochelle told the board. “This is one item we feel we could not wait any longer on.”

“It’s pretty pricey, but it’s really needed,” Lease said. She explained the equipment is needed to help with the resuscitation of babies that are not breathing, and is kept ready for use during any deliveries.

LaRochelle said the hospital will soon have two physicians delivering babies, which would increase the need for the new equipment.

In other action, the board approved the sale of 20 surplus Berg-Warner beds and 14 remote control units for the beds to the Pecos Nursing Home, at a total cost of $1,000. The beds were recently replaced by new ones purchased by the hospital district.

Hung, who owns the nursing home, said he made the $50 per bed offer after inspecting the 20 units, and LaRochelle said, “If we don’t sell them, we’ll have to pay somebody to cart them off.”

He added that the bid by the Pecos Nursing Home was the only one received by the hospital board, and that some other surplus beds still remain in storage.

The board also approved an oil and gas lease by KEW Drilling/MPE Financial Group LLC of Dallas for rights to a section of about 49 acres in Reeves County north of Pecos. Gholson said the offer was for three years with a two-year renewal option, a 1/5 royalty and a $328 per acre bonus.

“The bonus is good. The royalty is OK – 20 percent is not bad,” said the hospital’s chief financial officer, Frank Seals. “We actually leased this thing a few years ago, and it expired.”

Board members also approved a federally-mandated ID theft policy, while tabling any action on a new computer system, and on any purchase of new MRI, CT scanner or ultrasound equipment, a subject discussed by board members at recent meetings.

LaRochelle said hospital employees have worked for over six months to settle on a new computer system out of four options, but said, “We’re not preparing to do anything right now. We just want to keep watching the situation.”

He said the items would probably be taken up again sometime after the first of the year.

“It’s a bid deal when we get down to it. That’s why we’re taking our time,” LaRochelle said. “The impact it will have on this facility as it goes on will be big.”

Board members also held a executive session lasting over 90 minutes, before authorizing LaRochelle to negotiate a new hospital emergency room contract, and approved the hospital’s compliance report. LaRochelle said the ER contract is going to a new company, EM care, and will go into effect on March 1, giving the company about 3 1/2 months to get new emergency room doctors for the hospital under contract.

Fred Dominguez is in his seventh year as minister for the 4th and Bois d’Arc Church of Christ. His members joke that if he keeps at it awhile, he may become a pretty good preacher.

Preaching was not new to Dominguez when he moved to Pecos to manage the Jersey Farms Dairy for his father-in-law, John Forrester. He has been in ministry since 1972, and even taught at a preacher-training school for eight years.

“It is real rewarding work,” said Dominguez. “I get the opportunity to help people in ways that I guess no other can help. When people have those particular needs, they just need special comfort.”

Besides the Sunday morning worship service, the church offers Bible classes for all ages at 10 a.m. on Sunday and at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. A ladies class meets on Monday evenings, and youth have a monthly meeting after church on Sunday nights.

“They go around to different houses, have a meal, fellowship and singing,” said Dominguez. “It gives them a chance to get to know other people in the congregation. We have a group of really good kids. Several are on the swim team and do very well in that. Young boys are training to lead in services; making announcements, leading prayers and leading singing.”

Randy and Clay Taylor are youth teachers, and “They have been a real encouragement to the youngsters,” he said.

The Spanish-speaking congregation numbers 35-40. Besides their regular services, they operate a clothing bank where anyone in the community can find apparel to meet their needs.

”We are focusing on the Spanish-speaking ministry,” Dominguez said.

Andy Scott joined the staff in April to do personal evangelism.

“He is making personal contacts in the community, preaches on the radio and leads a Bible program,” said Dominguez. He also fills the pulpit in Dominguez’ absence.

Scott’s father, Paul, grew up in Pecos, and he still has cousins here. After preaching for 30 years in Papua, New Guinea, with support from the local congregation, he seemed a natural fit for the new position.

Dominguez said he finds Pecos one of the friendliest communities he has ever been in.

“This is a great environment in which to meet people and talk with them and have some influence with them,” he said. “We are planting the seed and letting the Lord give the increase.”

When he’s not preaching or in the church office, Dominguez keeps busy with reading, gun sports and his current interest, the Citizens’ Police Academy.

“I am really enjoying that,” he said of Class No. 8, whose last session was Tuesday night.

“I have really enjoyed meeting officers and finding out more about their work and meeting other people of the community who are part of the class,” he said. “It is a really interesting program. It is one of the neat features of a small town, actually getting to meet and know the men and women who help protect us.”

He uses his home computer to keep in touch with three sons and six grandchildren, and is excited about the seventh, who is due to make an appearance any day.

Dominguez and his wife, Nyla, have been married 37 years. Her father was an elder in the church where they grew up in California.

“I was born and raised in California, and my parents and sisters and brother still live there. We try to get out there every year to see them. I enjoy our visits, but wouldn’t want to move back.”

He repeated the old joke that he was not born in Texas, “but got here as quick as I could.”

While here, Dominguez uses every means to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, including a weekly radio broadcast.

“I have really appreciated the response of the community. I get a lot of nice compliments and comments, everywhere I go,” he said. “People are listening and express their appreciation for the messages.”

Both he and Nyla enjoy living in Pecos, and are open to do more to contribute to the community.

Council again handles truck, shelter issues

People attending Tuesday night’s Pecos City Council meeting justifiably may have felt an eerie sense of déjà vu, as parking for eighteen-wheelers and the city pound were again primary topics of discussion in a meeting lasted for over four hours

Council members held their only regular meeting of the month starting at 5:30 p.m., and second on the agenda was the first reading of two modified city ordinances dealing with truck routes in town, and whether parking the big rigs in any form would be allowed at private residences.

When the smoke cleared, again after a long discussion between supporters and opponents of the change who had debated the issue at three previous council meetings, City Attorney Scott Johnson read the two ordinances as required by law.

A second such reading is required by law before either ordinance can go into effect, and the council decided to schedule the second reading for the next council meeting, also set for 5:30 p.m., on December 4 at city hall.

The new ordinance allows only the truck cabs to park on non-truck routes within the city, and only on the sides or in back of homes on a paved driveway or gravel surface. It modifies an ordinance passed only this past September, which banned all truck parking on non-designated truck routes.

After Johnson read the ordinances the council voted to accept the readings by a vote of 3-2.

Councilmen Cody West, Danny Rodriguez and Frank Sanchez voted to accept the ordinances. While councilman Gerald Tellez and Councilwoman Bernadette Ornelas voted against the ordinances, as read. The council voted 3-1, with Ornelas absent, at their previous meeting to modify the September ordinance change, which was approved at that time by the entire council.

Later in the meeting the council heard from the local chapter of the Humane Society in regards to the current animal shelter run by the city and the construction of the new animal shelter.

Lori Hughes and other members of the group said that they wanted the city to shut down the current shelter and kill loose stray dogs and cats that animal control picks up on the day they animals are captured.

The group stated that conditions were so bad at the current shelter that it would be more humane to kill the animals immediately rather than hold them for five days before killing them.

Police Chief Clay McKinney said that the city ordinance governing the matter demanded the city keep the animals three days, but that policy had been set by the council to keep animals five days before killing them.

“We will do whatever the council directs,” McKinney said.

One of the group’s primary concerns was the upcoming holidays.

The city will be shut down for four days over Thanksgiving and Christmas and nobody is going to check on those animals or feed and water them, Hughes said.

McKinney assured the council that this was not the case and that a heater had been installed.

“I promise you that we will have a man taking care of the animals on holidays and weekends,” Gerald Tellez assured the group.

In other business the council voted to allow a residential property owned by Willie Mae and Frank Williams at 702 S. Peach St., to begin operating on a commercial basis as a beauty salon, but without changing the current zoning from residential to commercial.

Scott Johnson told the council that such move would be legal because the property had been home to a commercial enterprise before the residential zoning restriction was in place, and as such, commercial operations were grandfathered in.

Also on the agenda was TransPecos Bank President Joe Keese representing the proposed Greater Pecos Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce (CVB)

Keese explained currently four entities receive money from motel taxes collected by the city commonly referred to as “bed-tax” money, and that the money had to be used to enhance tourism – “putting heads in beds,” he said.

The four entities are the Chamber of Commerce, the Advertising and Tourism Committee, the Main Street organization and the West of the Pecos Museum.

The proposed CVB would consolidate the operations of the four entities with the goal of more efficient use of the bed tax funds.

Keese said that the current set up was inefficient with a lot of duplication of effort and overlap.

He also said that while in past years bed tax revenues had hovered around the $50,000 mark, but in 2008 bed tax money was projected at over $400,000 with more in 2009.

The plan calls for a seven-member board to oversee the CVB with members being appointed by the separate boards of the four combining entities, and with primary control of the board in the hands of hospitality industry.

“The money comes from the hospitality industry and the majority vote needs to be in their hands,” he said.

Keese also assured the council that current employees and directors of the current separate entities would have positions in the new organization.

According to the proposed budget, fixed expenses would eat up $300,000 of projected revenues, but at least $100,000 would be dedicated toward advertising “outside a 100 mile area of Pecos.”

Keese said that, as revenues hopefully continued to rise, fixed expenses should remain stable, and surplus money would be dedicated to more advertising – advertising he said needed to be focused to bring groups to Pecos.

The council decided to put the creation of the CVB on the agenda as an action item for the coming Dec. 4th meeting. The council also voted to put the cities current electrical provider on notice that the city would be shopping for a cheaper electrical rate when the current contract runs out at the beginning of the new year.

In one of the last issues brought before the council, Councilman Cody West told the council that he was hearing complaints from established businesses regarding street vendors.

West questioned the permitting process in regards to business permits, and health code permits for food vendors, and how the permitting code was being enforced.

One problem that surfaced during discussion is the fact that there is no code enforcement officer on duty on the weekends, a time when many street vendors set up shop.

“It’s not fair for our established businesses to pay taxes and abide by the codes and for us to allow some fly-by-night to come in and sell the same products cheaper,” West said.

The council agreed to take up the matter in more detail and the coming meeting.

Christmas for Kids applicants facing deadline to return forms

A local group working to provide Christmas gifts to the less fortunate children in the community is busy gathering up those gifts, and is also waiting to gather up the last of the applications for the program before Friday’s deadline. “We’re already shopping and getting things ready for the children,” said Sofia Baeza, one of the volunteers for the program.

Baeza said that they are having a problem this year getting the applications back from those who are trying to be recipients.

“We have received about 112 applications, but we know that there are about 30 more out there,” said Baeza.

Baeza said that they normally don’t have a problem getting the applications back and that the ones who haven’t turned their forms in only have one day left to do so.

“The deadline is 4 p.m., Friday and there will be no exceptions,” said Baeza. “We have 240 children as of Monday, but if they don’t bring in the applications we will not be able to help them.”

Baeza said that they are trying to keep the amount of children to 400 to better serve them.

“We want to help everyone and we usually help some that are not even on the list, but they really need to sign up,” she said.

The Christmas for Kids group is comprised of volunteers who raise funds to provide the essentials for children in the community, who would otherwise lose out on having a Merry Christmas.

“Our main goal is to provide a happy Christmas for as many children in the community as we can,” said Christmas for Kids Volunteer Sofia Baeza. “We don’t just provide toys, but the essentials, such as coats and shoes.”

“Families applying for Christmas for Kids must stay within our guidelines and the children must be attending the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD with the exception of toddlers and babies,” said Baeza.

Last year, the group helped a total of 126 families, which included 396 children.

“We also assisted two families throughout the summer who needed help after some house fires,” said Baeza.

Faulkner, Staley announce wedding plans

Anne and Douglas Mackey of Odessa are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Sarah Evelyn Faulkner to Mark Ellis Staley, son of Sandra and George Staley of Midland.

Miss Faulkner is also the daughter of Julie and Wendell Faulkner, Jr., of Odessa. She is the granddaughter of Charlotte and Richard Slack of Pecos and Janet Faulkner of Austin, formerly of Pecos, and the late Wendell Faulkner. Her fiancé is the grandson of the late Helen and Robert Ellis Hendrick of Midland and the late Reba and George Staley of Huntington, West Virginia.

The bride-elect is a 2003 graduate of Odessa High School and currently completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Studies from Breyer State University. She is a certified Equine Massage Practitioner.

Mr. Staley graduated in 1996 from Midland High School and in 2000 from Texas A&M University at College Station, where he received a BBA degree in Management Information Systems. He is employed by Sport Environmental Services in Midland.

The couple will marry Feb. 28, 2009, at the First Presbyterian Church in Midland.

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