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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Break Festival events scheduled on Saturday

A concert will be just one of the many events planned this Saturday at Maxey Park for the Annual Spring Break Festival.

This year’s event will include vendors, music, a paintball tournament and the First Annual Adult-Student Golf Tournament, and is sponsored by Town of Pecos City and the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce.

While most the concert and food vendors will be set up inside Maxey Park, the paintball tournament will take place at the softball field, located across the street from the park.

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.

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 ""

The Adult-Student Golf Tournament will 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. which 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).

“The trophies are really nice and we hope that we have a good group out there playing,” said Town of Pecos City Mayor Dick Alligood. “The weather is supposed to cooperate and it should be a beautiful day,” he said.

For more information contact Crissy Barraza at city hall at 445-2421.

School board’s incumbents get late challenger

Two last-minute filings on Monday assured a contested election for the Pecos-Barstow Toyah ISD board and assured that one seat on the Reeves County Hospital District board won’t have to be filled by appointment.

Two seats are up for election in the P-B-T school board race, where incumbents David Flores and Paul Deishler had filed to retain their seats.

On the last day to file they were challenged by Louis Juarez.

Juarez is the new physician’s assistant at the Reeves County Hospital Rural Health Clinic. All three are seeking three-year terms on the board.

The two incumbents in the Reeves County Hospital District race, Precinct 1 representative Brenda McKinney and at-large board member Leo Hung, had already filed for new two-year terms. Monday afternoon, Jim Breese filed for the position in Precinct 3 that had been vacant since last September due to the resignation of Terry Honacker.

Board members would have had to appoint a person to fill the position after the May election if no candidate had filed. Since none of the three hospital board candidates have opponents the district will not have to hold elections on May 10.

Two other candidates filed earlier on Monday in the Town of Pecos City election. Incumbent Dick Alligood filed to retain his seat as Town of Pecos City Mayor, and wull run unopposed, while Cody West filed for one of the two available positions on the city council..

He joined Tom Rivera, Bernadette Ornelas and Oscar Ramirez in seeking the two positions on the council currently held by Angelica Valenzuela and Michael Benavides, both of whom opted not to see new two-year terms.

Rivera retired last December as the city’s Main Street Director, Ornelas is a teacher for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, Ramirez is the manager of La Tienda and West, the latest to file, is the former news announcer for KIUN.

Deputies find 105 pounds of pot after I-20 traffic stop

One man was arrested late Wednesday night by Reeves County Sheriff’s deputies following a traffic stop on Interstate 20 west of Pecos.†

Deputies said that Sheriff Department Narcotics Division Criminal Interdiction Unit initiated a traffic stop on a 1997 Jeep Cherokee on Mile Marker 33 on Interstate 20, seven miles west of Pecos, for a traffic violation.

The driver and sole occupant, Marty Wayne Higgins, 43, was subsequently placed under arrest for possessing marijuana after officers located four fabricated metal boxes concealed inside the gasoline tank of the Jeep Cherokee.

The boxes contained approximately 105 pounds of marijuana, according to the sheriff’s report.

Higgins was subsequently charged with possession of marijuana over 50 pounds under 2,000 pounds, a Second Degree Felony and Possession of a Criminal Instrument a State Jail Felony.

Higgins is currently held in Reeves County Jail awaiting arraignment.

The estimated bulk price of the marijuana was set at $50,000.

Police seeking leads into drive-by shooting

Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers and the Pecos Police Department need the community’s help in solving a drive-by shooting that occurred last Saturday night.

Police said at about 10:46 p.m., Saturday officers were dispatched to the 1100 block of South Ash in reference to a drive by shooting.

Police Capt. Kelly Davis said two shots were fired into the home of Jorge Navarrete. He and a second person, identified as Sarah Mendoza, were inside at the time, but no one was injured in the incident.

“We did recover two bullets,” Davis said. He added that there were no witnesses to the shooting, but “We do have some suspects we’re checking on.”

“Please help us make our community safer by putting these criminals behind bars,” said Mike Balog, the community relations officer for the Pecos PD.

If anyone has any information about this drive by shooting or any other crimes call Crime Stoppers at 445-9898 or leave a Secure Web-Tip on the crimestoppers website HYPERLINK ""

“As always you will remain anonymous and your tips could be worth a cash reward,” said Balog.

There is no caller I.D. on this line and the community and the police thank you for your help.

Groundbreaking for hotel project, school wing set

Groundbreaking ceremonies for several different construction sites in Pecos were discussed during the regular Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ monthly meeting, held on Tuesday at the Pecos Senior Center.

Town of Pecos City Mayor Dick Alligood told the group that there would be a groundbreaking ceremony next Thursday, March 20, at the Hampton Inn, which will be located on the south side of I-20 at the Highway 17 exit.

“The commissioner of agriculture will be here at that time and we would like for as many of us that can be there to please attend,” said Alligood. “He was instrumental in helping to build this hotel and there will be a groundbreaking a we did the last hotel.”

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino said that the school was planning a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, at 1:30 p.m., at the Crockett Middle School campus. A new wing is being added at the school, to allow sixth grade classes to be relocated there from Zavala Middle School.

“We’re hoping to get the bids in and award them so that construction can began,” he said.

Espino said that the construction is planned at Crockett Middle School, Bessie Haynes Elementary, the CATE building and the concession stands.

“We want to invite everyone to come out to the groundbreaking on Friday,” said Espino.

A grand opening is scheduled at 11:30 a.m., Friday, March 28, at the Country Club Apartments, located by the Reeves County Golf Course.

“There will be a luncheon for city officials, county officials and chamber members,” said chamber of commerce director Linda Gholson.

In other business, Alligood reported an update on the venue tax board, approved almost four years ago by city voters.

“We received a letter from the commissioners court with their appointees,” said Alligood. “We will meet Thursday night and will be making plans, we’ll send the names of the appointees from the commissioners court and the city to Austin.”

Alligood said that they were looking at having a meeting this month. “We want to have them at the civic center so that they can see the condition its in and what needs to be done out there and at the rodeo grounds,” said Alligood.

Alligood said that the 70-year-old rodeo grounds will have to be completely redone and every organization will be notified.

From the city, the committee will have the mayor, city manager Joseph Torres, Ken Winkles and Frank Sanchez. County Judge Sam Contreras, Precinct 4 Commissioner Ramiro Guerra, Brenda McKinney and Mario Villescas are Reeves County’s appointees to the board.

“I understand that Mario won’t be with us, but his name will still be submitted and then we’ll look for a replacement,” said Alligood.

Alligood told the group that they have already received money from one of the hotels, in the amount of $14,000.

“That will help us get started,” said Alligood.

“The venue tax is very important and we’re certainly glad to see it going,” said president Venetta Seals.

The Women’s Division reported that there are eight girls running for Golden Girl and applications are being accepted for Little Miss Cantaloupe.

“This year we decided to narrow it down to just first grade girls, because we had so many at one time and it’s just too hard to handle,” said women’s division member Olga Keese.

Keese said that the group had donated $5,000 the museum and $1,000 to the school.

“We will be having a Style Show this year, the date has not been set yet,” said Keese. “We meet the first Tuesday of the month and welcome new members,” said Keese.

The Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant is scheduled for June 20.

Reeves County Hospital Administrator Al LaRochelle said that four new physicians will be coming to Pecos soon.

“Steven Serrano will be here Aug. 1, William Jorezon in July, Dr. Kim and another doctor will be here in October,” said LaRochelle.

LaRochelle said that they are in negotiations with GE and Toshiba to purchase an MRI.

“We’re also talking to a developer about the land located across from the emergency room,” said LaRochelle. “We hope to have 17-18 providers in there, as well as a dentist,” he said.

LaRochelle reminded everyone that this year’s Health Fair has been scheduled for April 5, at Reeves County Hospital.

Board director Debbie Thomas said that they would be hosting retired Texas Rangers on Sept. 5-6, at the museum.

“We’ll be honoring the Texas Rangers and we are very excited about the event,” said Thomas.

Joaquin Jackson, a famous Texas Ranger, will be on hand to sign his second book, according to Thomas.

March tax rebate check for city up 83 percent

Sales tax collections for the Town of Pecos City in January were again up sharply, according to figures released on Wednesday by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office.

The comptroller’s office sent out March sales tax rebate checks, based on sales made during January, and they showed Pecos 1 1/2-cent share of Texas’ 8 1/4-cent sales tax brought in $150,429, an increase of 83.64 percent from last March’s $81,913. For the first quarter of 2008, the city has seen a 70.15 percent increase in its tax rebate checks, which have risen from $270,742 for the first three months of 2007, to $460,682 for the January-March period this year.

One-sixth of the city’s total goes toward operations for the 4B Pecos Economic Development Corp. This month’ check will net the PEDC $25,072 for operations.

The sharp increases for the city’s totals should come down at bit next month, when the April sales tax checks are sent out. Pecos has received over $100,000 in monthly tax rebates for 12 straight months, dating to April of 2007, after only surpassing the $100,000 mark previously in their February tax rebate checks, which was based on sales taxes collected during the Christmas shopping season.

Balmorhea already has seen some slowdown in its surge in tax collections, based on the boom in the area’s economy since 2003 due to higher oil and natural gas prices. Balmorhea’s 1 1/2-cent share of the state sales tax resulted in a $2,208 check this month, down 27.51 percent from last March’s $3,046 total. For the first three months of 2008, the city has gotten $8,309.55, down 4.15 percent from last year’s $8,670.

Toyah’s March check was $907, which is up 258.93 percent from a year ago. For the first quarter of the year, Toyah has gotten $2,263 from its 1 1/2-cent sales tax, a 52.37 percent rise from last year’s $1,485 total.

The March numbers for the Reeves County Hospital District were also up sharply. Receipts from the hospital’s 1/2-cent sales tax more than doubled from a year ago, as it brought in $87,421, a 101.11 percent rise from the $43,467 the hospital got in 2007. Overall for 2008, the hospital’s total is up 88.06 percent, going from $128,223 to $241,140.

The area’s increases continued to outpace most other totals in the Permian Basin, but sales tax numbers across the oil producing areas continued to show increases from 2007’s totals.

Midland had the area’s largest single check for March, at $2.96 million, based on its1 1/2-cent sales tax, which was up 30.34 percent from a year ago. Odessa in contrast, was down for the month, after running ahead of Midland’s pace in recent months. The city’s 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought in $1.44 million in rebates this month, a 5.01 percent drop from a year ago. Odessa is still up 5.25 percent for the year as a whole.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received a $103,959 check, which was up 24.52 percent after declines in January and February. Crane received a check for $97,433, a 113.71 percent increase; Lamesa got a $97,396 check back this month, which was up 24.08 percent, while Seminole received a check for $83,931, which was up 11.71 percent from last March.

Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $51,139 this month, up 5.24 percent; Wickett received a $14,939 check, up 141.93 percent; Wink received a check for $8,667, up 14.68 percent, and Pyote, received a $1,812 check this month, a 388.6 percent jump from a year ago.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $294,014, a 22.30 percent increase from a year ago. Marfa got a check for $19,781, which was up 2.2 percent, and Van Horn got a check for $29,265, which was down 5.08 percent from March of 2007.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Fort Stockton received $186,731 this month, up 33.42 percent; Big Spring received $388,284, an increase of 5.35 percent for the month; Monahans received a check for $113,062, which was down 1.04 percent from last year; Grandfalls got a $1,782 check, up 6 percent, and Presidio received $31,857, up 20.83 percent from a year ago. Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $293.2 million, up 9.16 percent from the $268.6 million rebated last year. Houston’s check of $37.9 million was the largest single check and was up 10.12 percent from last year, while Dallas’ check was next, at $16.9 million, which was up 7.453 percent from their rebate check in March a year ago.

PEDC hunting for new member, new office

The Pecos Economic Development Corp. is looking at both adding an eighth member to its board and finding a new location for president Robert Tobias’ office.

The 4B PEDC board discussed both items during the noontime meeting on Monday at City Hall. Members agreed to look at creating an eighth spot on the board, though only seven members would still have voting privileges.

Board member Paul Hinojos said he wanted the eighth member in order to diversify the 4B board, which was created in October following voters’ approval last May of replacing the former 4B PEDC. The new board has seven members; two more than the 4A board, but three of the seven members, Danny Rodriguez, Dick Alligood and Joseph Torres, are city officials.

Under the plan, a new voting member would be added and the position currently held by Torres, the city manager for Pecos, would be reduced to non-voting status.

“I haven’t contacted anyone, because it’s not our decision, it’s the council’s,” Hinojos said of possible candidates.

“You can always recommend someone,” said Rodriguez, who serves on the city council and is the chairman of the 4B PEDC board.

City attorney Scott Johnson said the council has the final say on PEDC appointments, but can be given recommendations on possible candidates by the current board. “This board cannot appoint members. Only the city council can appoint members,” he said.

Rodriguez said names of possible board candidates would be taken until noon on Thursday, and the item will be discussed at the PEDC’s next meeting, scheduled for 12 noon on Monday at City Hall. The PEDC office situation was discussed by both Tobias and Rodriguez, who said the current office at the Pecos Community Center was not big enough, and had to share its office space with he Pecos Main Street Program.

“Our situation here is very uncomfortable,” Rodriguez said. “Where they are now you can hear what’s going on in the next office. They have very thin walls.”

Tobias discussed possible use of the former Hubbs Office Supply building on South Oak Street, while Torres said that renovations at the former Pecos Police Department office at Sixth and Oak could free up space for the PEDC office.

Board member Bill Oglesby said until a decision is made, the PEDC could move back into a second floor office at the TransPecos Bank building, where the 4A office was located during its nine years of operations.

“We would provide it free as we did before in the interim, while we look at the other deal,” he said.

Red Bluff board says engineer skeptical on need for new study

Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members want to hear from a Dallas-area engineer, whose review of the proposed Pecos River Watershed Protection Plan tended to support the district’s claim that no further studies of the river are needed at this time.

The watershed report and the analysis by David Hardgrave was the only major item of business for the board, during their March meeting on Tuesday at the district’s office in Pecos. Two Texas A&M officials, Lucas Gregory, manager for the Pecos River Basin Assessment Project, and Will Hatler, project coordinator, have held meetings across the Pecos River basin since last year, and both also have met with Red Bluff members in the past. However, the board has been reluctant to support the proposal, which they say is not needed, and could end up costing $500,000 or more to implement.

Board member Ava Gerke said she obtained a copy of the letter sent by Hardgrave to Halter at the request of Iraan area landowner Mike Turk during a recent hearing to review the proposed Watershed Protection Plan. Hardgrave said his family has owned land in Terrell County and has been a professional engineer for 28 years, 25 of those with oil and gas services company Halliburton.

“He went back and looked at all these studies,” Gerke said, noting that his recommendations included actions involving lowering salt levels at Malaga Bend in New Mexico, and solving the problem of loss of river flow south of Red Bluff Dam.

“He said you can add little dye balloons in there and they will tell you where the loss is,” she said. “It’s probably a crack in the formation, and then you just cement that thing over.”

She said 92 percent of the water loss between Red Bluff Lake and Imperial Reservoir apparently is in the area between the dam and Mentone.

“He said you already have an excellent study by (Texas A&M soil scientist Selichi) Miyamoto, and that you should see if you can do something above the Mentone bridge,” Gerke said. “He said ‘no more studies’. You have some good studies. See what works.”

Miyamoto, working out of the Texas A&M station in El Paso, did a study several years ago on the water conditions in the Pecos River north of Pecos. Board members said they would prefer to work on solutions to the river’s flow and salt contamination problems working off that study before funding the Watershed Protection Plan, which would include the lower sections of the river in Texas. “I’m in favor of not doing anything until we look at what we have from the other study,” said board member Jay Lee, who also asked that the board invite Hardgrave to speak at a future Red Bluff meeting. Copies of his letter to Hatler were also send out to members of the seven water districts served by Red Bluff.

Managing director Randal Hartman said he was wary of the new study supported by Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher because the specifics of that report and any possible costs to the district have not been put on paper.

“I’m not signing onto anything unless it tells me specifically what’s to be done,” he said. “We’re not acting impulsively.”

Hartman said restarting the Malaga Bend salt alleviation project would solve part of the problem. Groundwater contamination fears from unlined salt collection ponds stopped the latest effort to pump salt spring water away from the Pecos River between Loving, N.M. and the Texas state line, and another option, to pump the salt away from the river by pipeline to existing ponds, can’t get the necessary permits at this time.

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