Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, January 11, 2008
Chamber seeking banquet award nominees
Plans are underway for the Annual Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet, which is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15 at the Reeves County Civic Center.
“I know that there is a conflict, there’s another event, but we hope everyone can make it and then go to the other event,” said chamber of commerce director Linda Gholson during the Chamber’s monthly meeting, held on Tuesday at the Pecos Senior Center.
The Women’s Division of the chamber will be decorating for the event and guest speaker is Elmer Kelton, a well-known western writer.
Chamber directors voted to extend the deadline for entries for awards until 5 p.m., Jan. 25.
“The nominating committee can meet that day and make a decision about how will receive the awards,” said chamber president Venetta Seals.
Nominations for the four awards including Hidden Hero, Student of the Year, Ruiz Profile of Courage and Citizen of the Year, can be made at the chamber office.
Chamber members were also told that West of the Pecos Rodeo events are coming along well.
Rodeo Committee President Joe Keese said they had found a replacement for Tomas Garcilazo, the “charro” who performed a specialty act in Pecos last year, but could not make it to this year’s show.
“We’ve got another act lined up, Jerry Diaz and his wife and son,” said Keese.
He added that ad placements in the Buck Jackson Arena are still available. “We have sponsorship packages available and the ones near the chutes are always the first to go,” Keese said.
Board member Greer Willis stated that they are going through the second round of the Dave Ramsey financial planning program.
“We are trying to get word out that there is still room if anyone wants to attend,” said Willis.
Willis said that the group meets at 7 p.m., on Tuesdays at the Reeves County Civic Center.
The program is sponsored by the chamber, TransPecos Bank and First Baptist Church.
“We underwriting part of the cost of the course, $40 and the course is $90,” said Willis. “We’ll have some of the graduates give testimonials on how it’s worked out for them,” he said.
The program is 13 sessions and is held from 7-9 p.m.
“We took a break during Spring Break last year and the course itself runs until the first of May,” said Willis.
PBT-ISD Superintendent Manny Espino told board members that plans for the construction at the different campuses is going really well.
“We’ll be meeting next Thursday and at that time will accept the Maximum Guaranteed Price on the (baseball/tennis) concession stands, the CATE building and the softball field,” said Espino. “Those are the three things that we will start with and then the Crockett Middle School and Bessie Haynes Elementary School campuses,” he said.
Espino said that they will be planning a groundbreaking ceremony and will be sure to include everyone in the community.
“In the next four to five months, you will begin to see more,” said Espino.
The idea to have an Appreciation Day or Days for everyone involved in the oilfield business will be discussed with Mayor Dick Alligood at a later date.
“The two individuals from the chamber that agreed to help out will be making arrangements to meet with the mayor and come up with some ideas and a date,” said Gholson.
City’s January tax rebate check up 67 percent
The first sales tax rebate check of 2008 for the Town of Pecos City continued the sharp rise seen in 2007, with the city’s January jumping by two thirds sent back by the state a year ago.
State Comptroller Susan Combs’ office sent out rebate checks on Wednesday, and Pecos’ 1 1/2-cent share of Texas’ 8 1/4-cent sales tax netted the city $131,590, a 67.23 percent increase over the $78,688 sent back a year ago, based on sales made in the city during November. One sixth of that total, or $21,932, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp. for its operations.
Pecos saw sales tax rebate checks increase by double digits in 2005 and 2006. But those increases were much smaller than in 2007, when tax rebates to the city jumped by 54 percent from the previous year. The bulk of that increase came in the final nine months of the year, when average monthly rebate checks for a non-Christmas sales period passed the $100,000 mark for the first time. The continued natural gas and oil exploration activity in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos region have fueled local growth since 2004.
Balmorhea and Toyah also reported gains from their 1 1/2-cent sales tax, based on January’s rebates, though smaller than Pecos’ total. Balmorhea was up 9.71 percent, with a $3,229 check, compared with $2,943 last year, while Toyah’s $696 check for January was up 45.85 percent from $477 a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Reeves County Hospital District reported an even bigger percentage increase in their tax rebate check than Pecos for the first month of 2008. The hospital’s 1/2-cent sales tax brought it a check for $68,247 this month, up 76.15 percent from last January’s $38,743.
While Pecos’ first check of the year continued its pattern of sharp increases from 2007, across the region the results were mixed, with some cities also showing double-digit increases over January of last year while others reported double-digit declines in their rebates.
Midland had the area’s largest single check for November, at $2.63 million, based on its1 1/2-cent sales tax, which was 6.77 percent higher than a year ago. Odessa’s 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $1.75 million in rebates this month, a 7.41 percent rise from a year ago.
For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received a $78,071 check, which was down 28.32 percent. Crane received a check for $36,635, a 16.76 percent drop from last January; Lamesa got a $93,208 check back this month, which was up 20.62 percent, while Seminole received a check for $75,349, which was down 0.57 percent from 2007’s total.
Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $43,149 this month, up 20.09 percent; Wickett received a $13,953 check, up 77.80 percent; Wink received a check for $10,850, up 41.51 percent, and Pyote, received a $1,186 check this month, a 306.43 percent jump from last year’s $292 check.
For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $228,006, a 15.13 percent decrease from a year ago. Marfa got a check for $18,860, which was up 11.33 percent from last January, and Van Horn got a check for $29,184, which was down 10.75 percent from their first check of 2007.
For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $381,861, an increase of 3.09 percent for the month; Fort Stockton received $184,604 this month, up 22.89 percent; Monahans received a check for $112,381, which was up 8.98 percent from last January; Grandfalls got a $1,838 check, up 8.38 percent, and Presidio received $19,386, down 37.88 percent from a year ago.
Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $303.3 million, up 7.4 percent from the $282.4 million rebated in January of last year.
Red Bluff told wetlands sites show success
Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members approved maintaining water allotments and fees for 2008 at the same level as last year, and were given an update on the wetlands development project in the Imperial area during their monthly meeting, held Tuesday at the district’s office in Pecos.
Bart Reid, who is supervising the development of the wetlands project, talked to the board about its progress during the meeting, said he would prepare a full report on it this spring, and that the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife is also working on a report.
Red Bluff supported the use of surplus water in the Imperial Reservoir area being used for wetlands creation as a way to improve the district’s environmental record. “If we ever have excess water from the reservoir, when it gets too salty, we have a place to put it where it’s useful, rather than throwing it on the ground where it looks wasteful,” Reid said.
“Your involvement in this helped get other agencies involved,” Reid told the board.
“We’ve seen snow geese more this year than every before. Snow and Canadian geese, but not as many Sandhill cranes.”
“We planted a lot of seeds in the summer and fall, but they won’t germinate until the spring, and then we’ll see what it looks like,” Reid added.
He told the board the wetlands were in several locations in the area around Imperial, including one just off FM 1053. “Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Wildlife prefer them off the beaten path, because they want to have them more isolated from the public. But this one you can drive along the road and see it,” Reid said.
He said the wetlands can be a deep as eight feet, “but we haven’t had and rain, so it’s about 4-5 feet deep.”
“People in the area are amazed. They come out here in this desert and see all the birds, plants, fish and things, and think ‘wow, this is more than meets the eye’,” he said. “They do this in East Texas, and even up in the Panhandle, but nobody’s ever done it in this area.”
The reservoir is fed by water from Red Bluff Lake sent down the Pecos River during the spring and summer to the seven sub-districts. Imperial gets its allocation for the Pecos County Water Improvement Districts, along with what water is not used by sub-districts upstream.
Last year 25,000 acre feet of water was allotted to the seven sub districts and on Tuesday, Red Bluff board members voted to maintain that allotment, as well as the $6 per acre/foot fee for the water.
In other action, the board discussed upcoming projects, though managing director Randall Hartman said the district isn’t required to take up those projects this year. He said repairs to the spillway and grouting of the dam to stop some small leaks were at the top of the list.
“Last time we did it, it cost us $1 million, and that was years ago,” he said. “I’d imagine now it will be $3-$4 million.”
“We used to do it when the lake was low, so we can get the equipment in there,” he said. “We’re not in a bind right now, but we’re not full. If the lake is full up, the leaks would be bigger.”
The board also discussed repairs to a building and barn at the lake, repairs to a fence, and Hartman said the district needed to get with drilling companies operating on land near the lake, to make sure that proposed well sites near the lake would not cause problems in case of flooding.
“It could technically go underwater,” he said. “They’ll give me something in writing to see how they would attempt to overcome this.”
Hartman said three to four more wells are being looked at in the lake area. Earlier, the board said royalty payments from production wells on Red Bluff property has continued to increase.
“If we keep spending money like we are now, we’ll need it,” said board member Charlotte Wilcox.
Benavides announces resignation from council
Town of Pecos City Councilman Michael Benavides has submitted his resignation from his position on the council, and the remaining members were scheduled to hold an executive session on Thursday evening to discuss his possible replacement.
Benavides, who was in his third term on the city council and has served for the past 5 1/2 years, said he was resigning from the position in order to spend more time with his family.
“I’ve thought about it, and my oldest is playing club volleyball, and I’m getting more involved with my family,” said Benavides, who works as a clerk for the U.S. District Court in Pecos. He added that he had been considering resigning for a while, and decided to make the move before his current term expires in early May.
“The only reason I decided to do it now, is it’s easier for me to walk away,” he said. “Last time, I said I wouldn’t run, but I did pick up a packet right before the deadline. I love public service, and I love doing what I’m doing, but I need to move on.”
Following Thursday’s executive session, council members will have the option of leaving his seat on the council open until the May city election, or appointing a replacement, who would serve out the final four months of Benavides’ term.
Benavides said aside from the council, he’s been involved with a number of activities for the past 12 years, including the Keep Pecos Beautiful organization and other civic and church groups. He said he leaves the council satisfied with the current direction of the city, and hopes recent progress in improving the local economy and the city’s financial condition will continue.
“The groundwork already has been laid for the people who are going to come on, and I’d like to see the city continue to move in the right direction,” he said. “We’ve accomplished quite a lot and Joseph (Torres, city manager) has a great staff in place right now.”
Benavides position was one of two executive session items listed on Thursday’s agenda. The other involved a request for a budget chance by Pecos Volunteer Fire Department Chief Freddy Contreras. Council members in December heard a request from Contreras to shift some excess funds in the department’s 2007 budget over to pay for additional salaries for the Pecos VFD officers.
Funds sought for Fairview vets memorial
The Fairview Cemetery Committee is seeking donations to help with the construction of a Veterans Memorial Monument, which would be located near the entrance to the cemetery at Eighth and Park streets.
The committee, created in 2006 to work with the city on upgrading the cemetery located in the center of town, sent out letters to local businesses in December seeking donations for the project, and committee president Rosemary Scroggins said they are about halfway to their goal in pledges.
“We’ve collected $2,400, which is about halfway to what we need,” she said.
The memorial tentatively would be located along the path leading into the cemetery from the Eighth Street entrance, and would be visible as well from South Eddy Street. “We’ve got a spot we picked out, but we haven’t voted on it yet,” Scroggins said. “We have to get with the engineer (city public works director Edgardo Madrid) and see if what we want is doable. We need to see if where we want to put it, people can still get around it without having to disturb and of the existing gravesites.”
She said the planned memorial would be six-sided and 10 feet tall and 20 feet wide, with either one or three flagpoles. The three flagpole design would carry the American, Texas and Town of Pecos City flags, while the six sides would carry silhouettes of soldiers from the Vietnam, Korea, World War II, World War I, the Spanish American War, and Confederate Soldiers from the Civil War, which would represent those military veterans buried in the cemetery.
“Under each panel will be plaques for each division of the armed services,” Scroggins added.
She said Pecos High School Art Department teacher Walter Holland was involved with the design of the memorial, and that they hoped to have commitments on all of the nearly $5,000 needed for the project by February.
As for the cemetery upgrades in general, Scroggins said they’re still waiting for some improvements to be put in by city crews.
“The water well pump and the drip (watering) system have not yet been installed,” she said. “We’re also working on trying to get permission from individuals to get headstones up that have been pushed down or broken.”
She said new city regulations require any downed or damaged headstones can’t be repaired without permission from the family of the person buried at the site. “We have to have a letter from some family member stating that we can do that,” Scroggins said.
“We also still have a lot of dead tree stumps, and a lot of mesquite bushes we’re trying to get removed,” she said. “As soon as we get the well and drip system going we want to do some new landscaping.”
Officials seek suspects in Wednesday arson fires
Town of Pecos City police and Pecos Fire Marshal Jack Brookshire are seeking information and checking leads on suspects in a series of arson fires which were set on the north and east sides of town over a three hour period late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
Two houses, a dumpster, two mattresses and a pick-up truck were set on fire between 9 p.m. and midnight, and all fire fires have been classified as arson, Brookshire said Thursday morning.
“I looked at both houses, and both houses were set fires,” Brookshire said. He said the three other fires also were deliberately said, though the five fires may not be directly connected.
The first fire was reported at 9:15 p.m. in the rear area of an unoccupied home at 723 S. Sycamore St. About 45 minutes later, Pecos Volunteer Fire Department members were called to extinguish the dumpster fire in the 100 block of North Pecan Street, and that was followed just after 11 p.m. by the call for the second unoccupied house fire, this one at 605 S. Orange St.
Firemen were still at the scene when the mattress fire was reported, in the 200 block of North Oak St., at 11:20 p.m., while the pick-up fire was called in at 11:55 p.m. in the 100 block of South Ash Street.
Brookshire said the house at 723 S. Sycamore St., was owned by Arturo Chavez, while the one at 605 S. Orange was owned by Alfonzo Hernandez. The rear of Chavez’s home was fully ablaze by the time firemen arrived, while the fire at the Hernandez house was still contained inside, but smoke poured from the windows and attic areas as firefighters tried to keep the fire from spreading.
“Both of the homes were in the process of being remodeled,” he said, adding that neither house had utilities connected at the time the fires broke out.
He said the first fire began in a bedroom on the southwest side of the home, while the second house fire started in a bathroom area on the west side of the residence. Brookshire said as of Thursday morning, he wasn’t sure exactly what was used to start either fire.
“I didn’t really dig through them yet. I just took pictures and determined the point of origin,” he said.
Brookshire said the pick-up set on fire was parked in a yard on the west side of the 100 block of Ash Street. “It was parked behind the old Pecos Motors building that belongs to Kevin Duke,” he said. “I think Kevin rented the yard to an oilfield company, and they just pulled that pickup behind the yard.”
Brookshire said because a couple of the fires were reported so close together, “I just kind of get a feeling there are at least two different people, because we had one fire on the east side, then one on the north side, then back on the east side, and then back on the north side.”
Police in the area of the pick-up fire began pursuit of one person seen in the area, who was later arrested, but police chief Clay McKinney said that arrest was connected to a warrant on an unrelated charge.
Brookshire said he and police already have received tips on two of the five fires. “We had one lead we got from Crimestoppers this morning that we’re working on,” he said. “I talked to the police, and they’re looking for one of the suspects right now.”
Sterling receives doctorate degree in Florida
Fredria Carter Sterling, daughter of Daisy Roquemore and the late Saul Roquemore, received her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership on June 8, 2007, from Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida.
Fredria grew up in Pecos and attended G.W. Carver in elementary and junior high school then graduated from Pecos High School in 1967. The fall of that same year she entered college at Huston Tillotson College, Austin, for two years then transferred to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, where she received a B.S. degree in Elementary Education in 1971.
Her teaching career began in San Antonio, however she has worked in the field of education for over 30 years in various cities such as Houston, Central America (Fort Amador, Canal Zone), Republic of Panama, Pecos and finally Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1980 she received her Masters of Education degree in Special Education from Prarie View A&M University. She worked in various positions in Houston ISD until she moved with her family to Atlanta, Georgia. While in Georgia she obtained an Education Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama in 1997.
Her career has led her to specialize in the field of special education, elementary, administration and supervision and director of special education. She has worked with students that have various exceptionalities including deaf and hard of hearing.
Fredria’s dissertation study focused on the No Child Left Behind legislation and its impact on the achievement of special education students as compared to regular education students. After retirement in two years she plans to work as an adjunct professor, travel and spend time with family and her grandchildren.
Balmorhea ag students prepare for stock show
Students in Balmorhea are grooming their animals in preparation for the Annual Balmorhea Livestock Show, scheduled for this weekend in Balmorhea.
The show is set to begin at 10:30 a.m., Saturday and events will kick off with the Hog Show at the Balmorhea FFA pens.
A barbecue plate sale will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. and cost will be $6 per plate.
The Sheep and Goat Show will follow after lunch and everyone is invited to attend.
“We’ve got 30 children involved,” said Balmorhea ISD agriculture teacher Bob Bagley. “We’ll have about 15 hogs, five lambs and around 26 goats shown.”
Participants this year include: Joe Able Rodriguez, goats; Mariable Rodriguez, goats; Joseph Dutchover, hogs; Casey Dutchover, hogs; Sarah Lujan, goats; Gabriel Salcido, goats; Abby Salcido, goats; Victoria Salcido, goats and hogs; Jasmine Chavez, goats; Mayle McElroy, goats and lambs; Avery Weatherman, goats and lambs; Danny Estrada, goats; Diego Estrada, goats; Dora Estrada, goats; Adam Roman, lamb; Mia Roman, goat; Brianne Rodriguez, goat; Ryan Mondragon, goat and lamb; Lain Garcia, hogs; Russell Garlick, hogs; Jeremy Baeza, hog and goat; Marcos Beltran, hog; Gabriel Jurado, hog; Dailynn Mondragon, goat; Abraham Garcia, goats; Joel Madrid, goats and hogs; Anisha Vasquez, hog; Josh Matta, hogs; Alexander Mendoza, hogs and Adrienne Bagley, goats and lambs.
Bagley said Jeff Brisbin, ag teacher at San Angelo Central High School, would be the judge for this year’s livestock show.
The Balmorhea Stock Show is held annually the week prior to the Reeves County Junior Livestock Show. That show is scheduled for Jan. 18-19 at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Meet the Candidates event on Friday
A “Meet the Candidates” Chili Supper is scheduled for 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 11, at the Reeves County Civic Center.
All candidates and the public are invited to attend.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 2003-04 by Pecos Enterprise