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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Four die in Saturday head-on crash

Four people were killed this weekend in a head-on collision that occurred in Reeves County, approximately eight miles north of Orla.

The accident happened Saturday, Dec. 29, around 12 noon on U.S. 285.

The two vehicles involved were a 2001 Ford Explorer, driven by Lourdes Alemany, 49, of New York, and a 2001 Chevrolet Pickup driven by Alicia Lara, 61, of Carlsbad, N.M.

Alemany and her passenger, ErnieValencia Jr. of New Mexico, both died.

Also deceased were the two passengers in the pickup driven by Lara, Lorine Orosco, 63 of California and Jose Samaniego Orosco, 66, also of California.

Lara was the only survivor of the accident and is in good condition with a fractured wrist.

The accident occurred when the Explorer, which was traveling north, crossed into the southbound lane and struck the Chevrolet traveling south and the guardrail.

Both vehicles rolled. The Explorer ended up upside down and the Chevrolet came to rest upright.

The Care Star Helicopter from Odessa and the one from Lubbock both responded to the accident, but only the survivor was flown to a hospital.

All four of the deceased were pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Eriberto Rodriguez.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Cletus Tapp.

No county ban on fireworks

Even though, surrounding counties have banned fireworks, because of dry conditions, Reeves County did not.

“Fireworks in Reeves County have not been banned, because we haven’t met the drought index of the forest fire service,” said Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera.

Herrera said that most counties around Reeves County have put a fire ban, but that Reeves County has not had many brush fires.

“The commissioners didn’t designate a place to set off fireworks, but it is banned in the city,” said Herrera.

Pecos woman traces Christ’s footsteps in Holy Land

A dream came true for one Pecos woman when she visited the Holy Land, and walked the path that Jesus Christ walked on his way to Calvary.

“It is such an awesome experience, it fills you with a feeling that is incredible,” said Elodia Hartnett.

Hartnett learned of a group of individuals from West Texas that would be taking the historic trip from her daughter, Diana Rodriguez, who attends services at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Odessa.

“We go to Odessa on the weekends and attend services with her, and in the church bulletin it stated that they would be taking this trip if anyone was interested,” said Hartnett.

Hartnett said that her daughter convinced her to go.

“She’s the one that made it possible, because she urged me to go, and she knows that it is something that I would enjoy,” said Hartnett.

Hartnett said that the priest of St. Elizabeth, Father MarkWoodruff, has made this trip three other times, and would once again be offering it next year.

“There will be another group going next year in November and December,” said Hartnett.

Even though the majority of the individuals that attend the trip are Catholic, it is open to anyone of any denomination.

“It’s not just for Catholics, we had people that went that were from other denominations,” said Hartnett.

The group that made the trip this year left on Nov. 27 and returned on Dec. 7.

“We went from the Midland airport to Houston, then New Jersey, and then we flew to Israel,” said Hartnett. “From there, we visited many of the places that Jesus had been,” she said.

Hartnett said that they had the opportunity to see where Jesus was born, (Bethlehem), where he traveled, and where he died.

“We followed his footsteps,” said Hartnett.

“It’s an experience that stays with you forever,” she said.

Hartnett said that they had visited the House of Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“The tour guide that we had was excellent,” said Hartnett.

The group had the opportunity to go by boat into the Sea of Galilee where Jesus reportedly walked on the water.

“The tour guide stopped the boat at just the right time. You could see the mountains and you could feel the breeze. It was like He was there with you,” said Hartnett.

Hartnett said that she was the only one from Pecos that went on the trip, “but I never felt lonely or frightened.”

“Despite everything that is going on in the world right now, I wasn’t afraid to be there, it was so calm, orderly and peaceful,” she said. The group had the opportunity to carry a replica of the cross that Jesus carried to his crucifixion.

“We carried the cross, four at a time and the feeling that overcame us at that time is indescribable,” said Hartnett. “It’s a trip that I truly recommend, because it is an experience that is unforgettable,” she said.

Hartnett said that the feeling of the trip remains with you, even when you are back home.

The group of tourists also had the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River.

“All those that wanted to could be baptized right there in the river,” said Hartnett. “It was so beautiful, the memory of it will remain with me forever,” she said.

The Holy Land Trip for 2008 is already being organized and isscheduled for late November and early December. The cost is $2,500-$3,000 per person. Interested persons can contact Father Mark at 432-367-4657.

Proposed new businesses require actions by council

Town of Pecos City Council members agreed to give land located along U.S. 285 at Interstate 20 to the 4B Pecos Economic Development Corp. as the site of a proposed motel, during their final meeting of 2007 on Thursday at City Hall, while discussing two other nearby sites that are being looked at for motel construction.

The council agreed to turn over 3.07 acres of land to the 4B corporation, after it had been given to the city by the 4A PEDC board earlier in December. The land is being sought by Pecos Hospitality Group LLC, owners of the Best Western Motel in Monahans, and would be the site of a new La Quinta Motel in Pecos.

"The intention of the 4A when they bought the property was economic development," said city attorney Scott Johnson. "My recommendation is to go ahead and transfer the property to the 4B, subject to a performance agreement."

Reeves County sold the land to the 4A PEDC board during the summer, at the request of then-executive director Mike Burkholder. He had been contacted by the group seeking to build the LaQuinta on the land, located behind the former Gulf station on the northeast corner of the I-20/U.S. 285 interchange.

Pecos voters created the 4B EDC in May, and it began operations in October. The 4A board remains in operation to continue projects begun by that corporation, but collects no more operational revenues. "They don't want to take on this project," city manager Joseph Torres said.

The performance agreement would mandate that some sort of development take place on the site, or the company would forfeit the land, which will be sold at the assesed value of $3,070. "If you don't do anything with the property within one year, it reverts back to the city," Torres said.

Another piece of property, located on the southeast side of the U.S. 285-Interstate 20 interchange is also being looked at for a motel, according to city public works director Edgardo Madrid.

"A couple of weeks ago the owners of Motel 6 were looking for available property," Madrid said. The city owns the land, which formerly was the site of a Chevron station. That building was abandoned for over 20 years and was torn down last year.

"They were also saying they wanted to purchase additional land, about 20 acres, around the property," Madrid said. He said the county owns that land, and he told the Motel 6 owners to talk to Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras.

"If the city's going to see it, it will have to go out for bids. If we transfer it to the 4B, it can go out with a performance agreement," Johnson said. He told the council if the city bids the land out at auction, it will have less of a say on how the property is used.

Council members then decided to refer the property to the 4B PEDC, so it can look at the business plans, which tentatively include a motel, restaurant and convenience store.

The council also talked with local motel owner B.J. Patel, who is seeking a tax abatement on land located on U.S. 285 across from Wal-Mart for a proposed Holiday Inn Express. The request had been discussed earlier in the day at the 4B PEDC meeting, where members said any tax abatements would have to be approved by the city, county and the Reeves County Hospital District, along with the state agency charged with overseeing any tax abatement requests.

"A lot of that is to be prepared by Mr. Patel and brought back to us," mayor Dick Alligood said.

"Some annexation issues also need to be addressed," said Torres. He added that some of the other groups seeking to build motels also are asking that all of their property be annexed by the city.

Council members also discussed the possible sale of the old Pecos Garment Factory building in the 100 block of South Cypress Street. "This was asked to be put on the agenda," said Alligood. "We do have a company looking at relocating in Pecos, and asked if the building was available and could be put up for bids."

"This is already a standing building that's an eyesore," Johnson said, explaning the difference between this and the other land sale requests. "In this case, you bid out the building with the requirement for a business plan to go with the bid."

Councilman Danny Rodriguez noted that the building had been put up for bid by the city in the past, but has never been put back into full-time use. "We're going to support whatever they're going to do, but we need some support as well," he said.

Bids on two other pieces of land, on Highway 17 and I-20 and the 800 and 900 blocks of Washington Street, will be looked at by the council at their next meeting, Johnson said. He told the council there are currently two bids on the Highway 17 property, while only one bid came on on the Washington Street land originally developed for 19 single family homes, with the deadline to submit bids having passed on Dec. 26.

In connection with the 4A board, the council selected Paul Hinojos to replace Al Gomez on the board, so it could continue to hold meetings to fulfill its outstanding obilgations.

"We need at least one more person on the board to finish closing things out," Alligood said. Hinojos, president of West Texas National Bank, is already a member of the 4B PEDC board.

Council eyes deal to sell housing development land

The city of Pecos may get a helping hand out of the hole it dug for itself back in 2002 when it applied for, and received, a grant for $400,000 to help build 20 new houses on the land behind Gibsons bordered by Johnson, Washington, Cowan and Adams streets.

Councilmen Frank Sanchez, Gerald Tellez, Danny Rodriguez and Angelica Valenzuela attended the meeting along with Mayor Dick Alligood. Councilman Michael Benavides was absent.

Currently the city is on the hook for $367,342.91, which was spent on basic infrastructure for the addition, since only one house has been built — violating the terms of the grant.

In 2002 the council approved the grant proposed by then city manager Carlos Yrena, who received a three percent commission for all grants he applied for a received. At Monday morning’s 7 special meeting at 7 am the council discussed a bid to buy the property in a deal that could offset the money owed by the city.

In 2006 local investor Ram Kunwar made the city an offer for the land with the intention of building houses on it. But, the city repossessed the land when construction did not begin in accordance with the agreement.

The new bid was made by a company called Dimension Enterprises LLC that is proposing to build a $5 million apartment complex of one- and two-bedroom apartments on the site. Kunwar is a vice president on the board of the company and Dr. Rahat Saied is the president.

Dimension offered to pay the full $367,342.91 in five yearly payments. Under the proposal, Dimension would pay $15,000 at signing, $55,000 in 2008, $80,000 in 2009, $100,000 in 2010 and $117,343.91 in 2011.

As part of the bid Dimension made five requests from the city: that the city assist in constructing curbs, gutters and sidewalks; waive construction permit fees; assist with soil stabilization and site cleanup; waive sewer and water tap fees; provide a tax abatement for five years with the possibility of a five year extension.

If accepted the city would build the sidewalks and curbs with city employees and equipment but Dimension would pay for the materials.

City engineer Edgardo Madrid told the council that the sidewalks and gutters would not interfere with ongoing projects, especially since the need would not arise until construction of the apartments was well underway.

City manager Joseph Torres said that waiving the permit fees would amount to less than $2,000 in lost revenue.

Madrid also advised the council that soil stabilization and site cleanup were well within the city’s ability and would not pose problems.

Primary to the councils’ hour-long, early morning discussion was the amount of money paid upfront along with the particulars of committing the city to building the curbs and gutters.

After hearing from Madrid and Torres, and discussing the payment schedule, Councilman Rodriguez made a motion to make a counter offer which would require the first two years payments in the proposal to be made upfront, for a total of $70,000, and for the following payments to then be made on the proposed schedule. The next payment of $80,000 would then be due in 2009.

The council approved the motion unanimously with a request for City Attorney Scott Johnson to draw up a contract.

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