Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, March 21, 2008
Saloon repairs part of downtown renovations
Sprucing up the Judge Roy Bean Replica is just one of the many projects, the new Town of Pecos City Main Street Director is working on.
“I want to give back to this community, because I feel that it has given me so much,” said Martin Arreguy who took over as Main Street Director at the start of this year.
Arreguy and his crew have been busy this week replacing the porch at the Judge Roy Bean Replica, located behind the West of the Pecos Museum.
The Main Street project, which will include renovating, upgrading and building, in Downtown Pecos, is a combined effort by the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce, the advertising committee, Main Street and the city.
“If we all pull together we can make it happen,” said Arreguy. “We haven’t had much activity and we need some positive activity from all of us.”
Arreguy said that they have been busy rebuilding the porch at the replica and have installed a new roof at the Mesquite House.
“We have also trimmed all the trees and want to landscape this whole park,” he said.
Arreguy said that he hopes that they can use the Judge Roy Bean Replica as an extension of the museum.
“We can make it into an exhibit, a gift shop, or we could also dress up people in western wear and take pictures of tourists, there are so many possibilities,” said Arreguy.
“We’re trying to create some activity there,” he said.
Arreguy said that it was going to take the cooperation of everyone in the community. “We need everyone to come together in this effort, and with the economy getting better, we can certainly do it,” he said.
Arreguy said that he has been talking to a lot of tourists, who comment that they expected to see everyone dressed in western wear. “They tell they expected to see cowboys and everyone dressed differently,” said Arreguy. “Maybe, we could have one day where everyone dresses circa 1880 and come out and just mingle with the tourists,” he said.
Arreguy said that their new theme is, “Hang Your Hat in Pecos,” and we certainly want people to do that.
One of the other plans that is in the “works” is putting a professional building downtown.
“This will be in cooperation with SPDC out of Sul Ross, where we can offer classes to existing businesses, or to new businesses,” said Arreguy. “We can offer free training on everything from how to do their books, to customer service and how to handle their finances.”
He said that they wanted to make that office more inviting and welcome more people. “We can have long tables and have discussions and share ideas,” he said.
The group has already reviewed proposals for the landscaping project, which will cost from $40,000-$50,000.
“We got a proposal from a professional landscaping business in Midland and now we need to figure out how to amass resources for the project,” said Arreguy.
Arreguy is hoping to complete the Judge Roy Bean renovations in time for the Pecos Trail meeting, scheduled for April.
“They are having a big meeting here and we hope to spruce everything up by then, to show that we care,” said Arreguy, who added that he is very excited about his new position and plans to be a hands-on director.
“I want to do everything I can to restore Pecos to the way it used to be and with prosperity growing, we can do it,” said Arreguy.
PEDC debuts replacing Torres on board
Pecos Economic Development Corp. 4B board members found themselves in the middle of an argument over whether or not one of the board’s seven members should remain as a voting member through the end of his two-year term, during a discussion over naming a new member to the board at Monday’s noon meeting at City Hall.
The dispute was over the future status of city manager Joseph Torres on the PEDC board. Board member Paul Hinojos said with Torres, Mayor Dick Alligood and Councilman Danny Rodriguez all part of the board, the seven-member panel needed more diversification.
“That’s why I want diversification. If the city’s interest is to control the 4B, just give it to them,” Hinojos said.
Alligood noted that one of the complaints about the former 4A PEDC was that the city through the board didn’t have enough control of its operations. “There are three (city) board members, but there still are four that are not,” he said.
Along with Hinojos and the three city officials, Bill Oglesby, Jimmy Dutchover and Leo Hung are the other members of the PEDC 4B board. During Monday’s meeting, Crissy Martinez and Kevin Duke were proposed as replacements for Torres on the board.
Torres was named to the board in early October, and then named interim president after the resignation of Mike Burkholder, a job he held until the hiring of Robert Tobias a PEDC president in February.
“Mr. Torres is still going to be here in his other capacity,” Hinojos said. “By bringing on another board member you diversify your board.”
Rodriguez said he didn’t think Torres should be splitting time between the PEDC and his city manager duties.
“Mr. Torres is the city manager, and he needs to get back to city manager stuff,” said Rodriguez, who is also PEDC board chairman. He said Torres was one of several appointments made quickly last October when the 4B PEDC replaced the former 4A board.
“My thought when I became director of the PEDC 4B when Mike Burkholder decided to leave without notice was I didn’t see anybody else stepping up and saying ‘I’ll take it’,” Torres told the other board members, in opposing the move to remove him as a voting member.
“He wants to make sure all items be followed up,” said Alligood. “My recommendation is for Mr. Torres to serve the balance of his term, and then we look at bringing people on.”
In the end, the board voted 3-1 to present the city council with the option of leaving the board as is, or naming Martinez or Duke to the board as Torres’ replacement. Oglesby was the only vote against the motion.
In other action, the board approved the temporary relocation of the PEDC into its former home on the second floor of the TransPecos Bank building, until a permanent location can be selected. Tobias said the two options under consideration are the former Pecos Police Department office at City Hall and the old Hubbs Office Supply buildings at 217-219 S. Oak St.
Tobias said the Hubbs site would help add some activity to the downtown area, and part of the two buildings could be used by the Small Business Services office of Sul Ross State University, which could also provide funds to help the downtown area.
Deals almost set on Comfort, La Quinta sites
The Pecos Economic Development Corp. reached a deal to sell 2.56 acres of land along Interstate 20 to a businesswoman planning a new Comfort Suites motel, while moving closer to a deal to sell a 3.07 acre site for a La Quinta motel on I-20 and U.S. 285.
The 4B PEDC board approved the two items, during their meeting on Monday at City Hall.
Rachel Patel agreed to pay $25,000 an acre to the PEDC 4B for a section of land recently purchased from the Pecos Housing Authority, in a deal that would also give Patel right of first refusal on a nearby section of land, located on the north I-20 service road between Teague Street and Country Club Drive.
“We want a restriction that no hotel goes up,” Patel said. The deal would give her the first option to buy the land, which she said could fit a second hotel, similar to the two she is currently building in Fort Stockton.
The exact size of the land still awaits a survey to determine the exact location of an eight-inch sewer line that runs through the property. But PEDC attorney Scott Johnson said, “My thought is if you’re interested in doing this, we can agree in principal.”
The $25,000 price tag is 60 percent higher than the price for land across I-20 that was sold by Reeves County to local businessman Leo Hung, who is also planning a motel, along with a restaurant and sports bar, on part of the eight-acre site.
Johnson said the first right of refusal on the former PHA land would allow Patel to buy the adjacent land within 90 days of any new offer.
The final sale of the 34.5 acres of PHA land along I-20 to the PEDC is expected to close by the end of March. Patel said other work, including surveys and meeting EPA requirements, will also add time before construction can start.
“We should be able to break ground before the end of the year,” she said.
The 3.07-acre site on I-20 at U.S. 285 is to be sold by the PEDC to Pecos Lodging Group. The land originally was sold by Reeves County to the 4A PEDC, and was recently transferred through the city from the old 4A corporation to the new 4B PEDC.
“My thought is you want to get the money back that the 4A paid,” Johnson said. PEDC paid the county $3,070 for the land, was based on its appraised value, but board members noted the price was well below recent sale prices of I-20 land, including the earlier sale to Patel.
In the end, the board voted to keep the sale at the original price, along with approving a proposal by board member Paul Hinojos to add on all legal, survey and filing fees to the final total.
“It’s still going to be a bargain for the Pecos Lodging Group,” Johnson said.
Ag boss in town for new motel’s groundbreaking
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples was in Pecos on Thursday morning to break ground on the Hampton Inn to be built along the south I-20 service road just west of Colt Chevrolet, and to announce the award of a $238,000 grant to the Town of Pecos City that will pay for the necessary water lines the new motel will need.
The motel is the fourth motel that owners Harry and Leena Gandhi have built. In the past years the Gandhi’s have built hotels in Alpine and Fort Stockton, and opened their newest location in Lubbock two months ago.
The grant was awarded through the Department of Agriculture’s Texas Capital Fund.
According to Staples the fund redistributes a little more than $10 million each year to boost economic development in small Texas cities and counties.
“Good things do not happen by chance,” he said. “Good people make good things happen.
“The Texas Capital Fund is a great tool to ensure economic growth in every region of our state,” Staples said. “This award will give a boost to Pecos, and is a good example of good business and great partnerships at work in Texas.”
Pecos was the second of four stops for Staples on Thursday. He visited Marfa earlier in the morning, and had stops planned in Ballinger and Abilene later in the day.
The Hampton was the first of as many as six new motels planned along the I-20 and U.S. 285 corridors in Pecos. But due to delays in securing funding for the installation of utility lines, two other motels already have begun construction within the past two weeks in areas where there do exist water, sewer and electric lines.
“There would be no way a city the size of Pecos could compete for this type of business in Texas without the partnership and assistance of the Texas Capital Fund and the Texas Department of Agriculture,” Mayor Dick Alligood said. “We are grateful to Commissioner Todd Staples and his staff who worked so hard to make this possible.”
Also on hand was Thad Burns with Benchmark Development Corporation of Dallas. Burns is the project manager and said that this would be the fourth construction project Benchmark has handled for the Gandhi’s.
Burns said he expected to start construction within a matter of weeks.
Work already has started on a second Best Western Motel on I-20 next to the Swiss Clock Inn, and work began last week on a new Holiday Inn Express on U.S. 285 across from Wal-Mart. Two other motels on I-20 just east of Country Club Drive, and one at the I-20 and U.S. 285 interchange, also are expected to begin construction sometime later this year.
Plant nursery owner sees growth for Pecos
Grace Omitogun sees a bright future for Pecos, a place she moved to reluctantly. Now she believes God moved her here in response to prayer for revival.
First Baptist Church pastor Greer Willis fanned the revival flames years ago when he told the Unity prayer group that God promised him that Pecos would be renewed.
Omitogun believes the renewal will be both spiritual and economic.
She noted that economic revival has been spurred by the increase in oil prices that brought exploration and drilling crews into the area.
“I spoke to a few people when I came to town,” said Omitogun “I said God is going to revive Pecos, and the revival is going to be from outside. God will be bringing people from all walks of life.”
Some people thought she was crazy, but a few were on fire for God. She believes it was prayer that brought hometown people back from places like New York, Chicago, California and Arizona to take leadership roles in city and county government and business.
Others were attracted here for other reasons, or like her husband, Titus, who is employed by Texas-New Mexico Power Company, transferred to take a better job.
“In 2003 this town was almost dead,” Omitogun said. Prior to 2003, there were no building permits for 20 years except for the federal courthouse. Now we don’t have enough housing, so we see that it is coming. It will be bigger than we think.”
Omitogun had a thriving construction business in Ohio, and she hit the ground running when she moved here. While buying cantaloupe to re-sell in Dallas and looking for a greenhouse to grow her heirloom tomatoes, Omitogun learned that Bryan’s Nursery was for sale.
“All I was interested in was the greenhouse, but since they had just closed, I decided to do this in addition to selling produce,” she said.
Choosing the name “Blessing Assured Nursery,” Omitogun sells trees, bedding plants, shrubs, vegetable plants, potting soil, mulches, fertilizers and plant treatments.
“We can do landscaping work if we have a sizable contract,” she said.
Once a week, she drives to Dallas to sell tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelon and onions in season.
“A lot is going on in town,” said Omitogun. “We have a lot to look forward to and to thank God for.”
She believes each Christian has a role in the revival by professing their belief in God.
“The Bible says to call the things that are not as though they were,” she said. “I believe that God is faithful; that when people ask him things in his name, he will do it, and we have to believe it.”
Grace and Titus have three children: son Jide, 23, who has graduated from college with a degree in engineering; daughter Jummy, 20, a Pecos High School salutatorian who attends the University of Texas at Austin; and son Jeri, 10, a fifth grader at Bessie Haynes Elementary.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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