Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Early vote turnout down for primary
Early voting concluded Friday for the March 4 primary elections in Reeves County, with a total of 906 individuals casting their vote early by personal appearance.
Voters still have 12 hours on Tuesday to cast ballots in the primary election, which statewide is expected to draw record turnout. However, that hasn’t been the case in Reeves County, where fewer candidates in contested races compared to 2006 resulted in a one-third drop in the number of persons casting ballots during the two-week early voting period.
“We usually have over 1,000 to cast their votes early, so it was surprising that the number was lower this year,” said Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez.
“By Saturday we had received 145 by mail, but that number is usually more also,” said Florez. “We usually have between 300-500 mail out ballots,” she said.
Florez said that they had mailed out a little over 200 ballots by mail, but have not received all of them back yet.
“A lot of people wait until the last day,” Florez, added, and the early voting totals did show a jump on Friday.
Two years ago, five candidates were vying for the open position of Reeves County Judge, while seven others were entered in the two races for Reeves County Commissioner. That election brought 1,345 people to the polls for early voting, while this year, only eight candidates are running in four contested races, for the two commissioners’ positions, the 143rd District Attorney’s job and the position of Reeves County Democratic Party chairman.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the 11 voting sites in Reeves County, along with the Barstow Community Center for voters in western Ward County.
Polling placed are unchanged from two years ago. Voters on Tuesday will cast ballots, based on the box number on their voter registration cards, at the following locations:
1. Pecos Community Center, 506 S. Oak; 2. Odessa College-Pecos Center, 1000 S. Eddy; 3. Pecos High School Gym, 1302 Iowa Street; 4. Toyah Senior Center, Toyah; 5.
Balmorhea Community Center, Balmorhea; 6. Saragosa Multi-Purpose Center, Saragosa; 7. St. Mark’s Church, Parish Hall, 520 W. 5th; 8. Lamar Elementary Room 1, Oak and F Streets; 10. Reeves County Annex (Emergency Entrance), 700 Daggett; 11. Reeves County Civic Center, 1000 S. Cedar and 12. Texas-New Mexico Power Company, 1126 Stafford Blvd.
Almost all area votes are cast in the Democratic Party primary, which features all four local contested races, along with the party’s statewide primary races for president and U.S. Senate.
All four incumbents in the contested races are seeking re-election. Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 1 incumbent Roy Alvarado will be challenged by Samuel Urias, while Commissioner Precinct 3 Saul Herrera will be challenged by former commissioner Herman Tarin.
Tarin held the position of Precinct 3 commissioner for 12 years, from 1993 through 2004.
Longtime Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Dean will also have a challenger, after former Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo filed for the job. Galindo opted not to seek a fourth term as Reeves County Commissioner in 2006.
In the race for 143rd District Attorney, incumbent Randy Reynolds is seeking a third four-year term, and is being challenged by Ward County Attorney Kevin Acker. The two clashed last year, filing counter suits to remove each other from office in the wake of the sex abuse scandal at the West Texas State School in Pyote, and have been trading charges during the current election cycle over claims made in political advertising.
Council approves land sale for planned LaQuinta motel
Town of Pecos City Council approved the sale of land at the Interstate 20-U.S. 285 intersection for a new motel, during the council’s regular meeting Thursday night at City Hall.
The council approved the sale of 3.07 acres of land to the Pecos Lodging Group, LLC, owners of the Best Western Motel in Monahans. The group plans to build a La Quinta Motel on the land in Pecos, located on the northeast corner of the I-20-U.S. 285 intersection. The motel will have between 65 and 70 rooms and will employ 25 people,
The action came after the land sale was given approval on Feb. 25 by the Pecos Economic Development board of directors, and PEDC 4B president Robert Tobias made the presentation on the land sale to the council on Thursday. He said the sale was conditional, requiring work to start on the motel within 180 days and for completion no later than 24 months after the contract is signed.
“We do need to have terms and conditions to protect the city,” Tobias said. “I think anytime you look at a public-private partnership you’ve seen instances where you sign an agreement and it doesn’t get done.”
The La Quinta is one of seven projects involving new motels or expansion of existing motels in Pecos. Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela asked Tobias if any study had been done on whether the area can support that many new motels.
“I’m just wondering if we have any type of feasibility study, to see if it’s too much,” she said.
“I think it’s their money. They’re taking the risk,” said Tobias. He added that the investors loaning the money for the motel projects have apparently decided that several new motels in the can succeed, and that similar projects are being built along I-10 in Fort Stockton, which has less traffic than the I-20 corridor.
“At the end of the day a lot of traffic is moving through the corridor. If we can offer a place to stay, a place to eat and a place to shop, we’ll be working on that sort of thing,” he said.
Tobias had been introduced to the council earlier in the meeting by council member and PEDC board chairman Danny Rodriguez. He said the city needs to work at development along the I-20 corridor and cited his past experience in the private sector, along with that of city manager Joseph Torres, as an asset in working on a development plan.
“I’ve always said if you put $5 million in the hands of a city manager who has only had public sector experience and say ‘what are you going to do with it?’, it always comes out different than someone with public sector experience,” Tobias said.
Thursday’s meeting lasted almost four hours, with half of that an executive session to discuss employee retention and the city’s personnel policy.
Following the closed-door meeting, the council voted to have the retention plan reviwed and brought back to the council at their next meeting. They also voted to change personnel policy so that no person could be employed by the city with a state or federal felony conviction or with a conviction for a Class A or B domestic violence incident within the past seven years.
The council also approved a central counting station at City Hall for the May city election, along with election officials as recommended to the council. Also approved were two 12-hour early voting days. City secretary Crissy Barraza said in the past, the city has designated the first and final early voting days as the ones for the extended voting hours.
Other action included the awarding of a contract to AA Chemical of Pecos to provide janitorial supplies to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, approval of final action on the South Worsham Water Field project, and the recodification of city ordinances through Municipal Services Inc.
City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid said the final step of the South Worsham project involved tying two additional wells drilled by the city into the line. “We finally got the OK from TCEQ to connect the two water wells to the system,” Madrid said. “The two wells are being kept as backup for the summer.”
The recodification, at a cost of $5,500 will also involve placing the city laws on the city’s website. Alligood said the cost could be paid off over a two-year time period.
Initial funds for ambulances, airport upgrades OKed
Town of Pecos City Council agreed to make an investment in the newly-expanded Pecos Emergency Medical Service, during their meeting Thursday night at City Hall, while agreeing to set up a fund for improvements to the Pecos Municipal Airport, but delaying putting any money into it for at least the next several months.
The council agreed to spend $138,780 for the equipment, which includes seeking bids to buy a new Type 2 ambulance for Pecos EMS, at a cost of $58,734. The other $80,046 will go towards placing an existing EMS unit on a new body.
The ambulances are needed due to the merger of Pecos EMS with the Reeves County Hospital District’s ambulance service. Under the agreement, Pecos EMS goes from a volunteer to a paid service for up to eight of its members, and will also handle transfer calls to other area facilities, along with regular emergency calls in Pecos and the surrounding area.
City manager Joseph Torres said Pecos is in the final year of payments on the newest ambulance in its fleet, while Pecos EMS Chief Dennis Thorp said the annual payments on the new and reconditioned ambulance would come to $28,000.
“It won’t change this year’s budget at all,” he told the council.
Thorp said he preferred the new ambulance be on a Chevrolet body, to allow it to be serviced in Pecos. But city attorney Scott Johnson said, “You can’t say ‘Ford’ or ‘Chevy’ on the bid. But it’s a factor you can look at.”
The discussion on the airport improvements involved a 10 percent matching grants for a $2.1 million project to repave runways at the airport. Torres and Pecos Municipal Airport manager Isabel Blanchard said the Texas Department of Transportation needed some sort of signal from the city that it was interested it putting up the $210,000 to cover the local share of the grant.
Torres said creating a line item in the city’s budget to keep the grant matching funds would go towards starting up the project. He added that the Pecos Municipal Airport Board is also hoping to get Reeves County to contribute to the matching grant, which would be spread out over a three-year period.
“TxDOT recommended we do something on all the asphalt surfaces,” Blanchard said. She told the council that work was last done in 2002, and TxDOT recommends the new project start in 2009, but that it could be pushed back a year to allow time to acquire the matching grant funds.
Torres explained that currently, all airport funds not used at the end of each budget year go back into the general fund. The line-item would allow the funds to be carries over into the following year, though council members said creation of the line-item would not obligate the city to provide the matching funds.
“If we don’t have the money, we don’t have to be obligated to transfer funds,” said Mayor Dick Alligood.
“One thing that hasn’t been noted is the money comes from the federal government, and we’re trying to take advantage of this,” said Airport Board president Greg Mitchell. “If we do nothing now, then you’re looking at reconstruction. Then you’re looking at a lot of money.”
Blanchard said if the funding was put into the upcoming 2009 fiscal year budget, it would cost the city slightly less than to wait a year, due to inflation driving up the price of the repaving work.
“If we don’t have all the funds, we can go half way, because we’ve done that before,” said councilman Danny Rodriguez. Torres said the initial work could focus on repaving the airport’s main runway, and Blanchard said the council did not have to make a financial commitment to the project until later.
“I’d rather table it until later,” said councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela. “In that time we can go to the county, go to the PEDC and see how much money they’re willing to come up with. Because at this point, we’re committed to $69,000 a year.”
After the discussion, the council voted to look at the full commitment when the 2009 budget is drawn up, but to fund $13,800 of the project as the city’s 10 percent matching grant for the airport engineering study.
In other action, the council told local homeowner Jesse Acosta they would look at using city ordinances to control the number of trucks driving and parking on city street not designated as truck routes. He said the trucks have been parking in the area around his home on South Plum Street.
“At first it was four of them parked in back of where I live. Now it’s all of them, like 60 of them. They’re coming in like cockroaches,” he told the council.
“We do need to get the code enforcement officer and see if it’s being enforced. If not we need to enforce it immediately,” said councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela.
Council members also discussed keeping trucks off of West Second Street, but were told turning clearances on Third Street make it a problem for trucks to use that street to get from U.S. 285 to yards on the west side of town.
Council members also discussed leash ordinance violations with Municipal Court Judge Amanario Roman. He told the council the current law assesses a $100 fine for an initial violation goes up to $500 per violation.
“If some dog has been loose a few times the fine automatically increases until the owner starts obeying the law,” Roman said. He added they have also bee focusing on proper ownership tags and vaccinations, due to the recent outbreak of rabies in the Pecos area.
Chamber, city add events to Spring Break Festival
Additional activities have been planned for the Annual Spring Break Festival, scheduled for March 15, at Maxey Park.
This year’s event will include vendors, music, a paintball tournament and the First Annual Adult-Student Golf Tournament.
The event is sponsored by Town of Pecos City and the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce.
The paintball tournament will begin with sign from 9:30-10 a.m., at the sign-in table at Maxey Park. This year’s event is being moved to the park’s softball field from the former Pecos Rifle and Pistol Range area.
All players must attend a one-time orientation session that will cover the rules and requirements of the tournament. Those not attending the orientation session will not be allowed to play. After orientation all players will be required to sign a waver. If they are under 18 years of age, then a guardian will have to sign the waiver also.
A photo ID is required, or a parent or guardian’s ID if they are a minor. The guardian does not have to be present during play.
There is a $15 charge to play in the tournament. If the player does not own equipment, then they can rent it from “Just for Fun” out of Odessa. They will have a booth set up at the playing field.
Anyone needing equipment will be required to pay $15 at that time. This also includes the CO2 needed to fill the tanks. The grass field that will be utilized is located next to food booths, games, and other events.
There will be two divisions. Division One is for experienced players. Division Two is for inexperienced players. Teams will be composed of three players. It will be alright to have a fourth alternate player.
Registration forms can be purchased by going to HYPERLINK "http://www.townofpecoscitytx.com" www.townofpecoscitytx.com.
The Adult-Student Golf Tournament will be held on March 15 at the Reeves County Golf Course.
The participants in the golf tournament will have to consist of a team of one adult and one student. There will be no age requirement for the student to be able to participate. The gender of the team does not matter.
The entry fee is $50 per golfer and will cover the golf cart fee and the golfers green fees. Each golfer will also receive a ticket that will allow them to eat at the Lion’s Club booth after the tournament. The Lion’s Club booth will be at Maxey Park.
Trophies will be awarded to first, second and third place winners in each flight.
There will also be a trophy awarded to the golfer (nearest to the pin).
For more information contact Crissy Barraza at city hall at 445-2421.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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