Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Chamber names Martinez Citizen of Year
The Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce named a dedicated and talented individual who has been involved in many aspects in the community as Citizen of the Year on Friday night.
Nancy Martinez was honored at the Annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet held at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Martinez attended Sul Ross State University and UTPB majoring in Business Marketing. She worked for Reeves County Hospital District for 19 years as Director of Program Development and Community Services and is currently the Marketing Director of HKA, Inc.
Brenda McKinney, who was the 2006 recipient of this coveted award, presented this year’s award to Martinez.
“It is with great pleasure and honor to be here tonight to award the 2008 Citizen of the Year Award,” said McKinney. “My fellow citizens this year’s recipient has a list of credentials a mile long.”
McKinney said that she would individually list the recipients past achievements, but they told her to keep her speech under an hour.
“But seriously, just to name a few, this year’s recipient has been a director of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce, very involved with Relay for Life and a member of the Downtown Lions Club,” she said.
Along with her work with the Chamber, Martinez also serves on the board of the Pecos Area Cancer Foundation, serves on the Santa Rosa Cemetery Board, Campus Improvement Council for Zavala Elementary, Reeves County Health Fair Co-Chair, Team Leader for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University and conducts motivational presentations. Her most recent presentation was in December 2007 for the Pecos Head Start Parents on Building Self Esteem.
She also has served on a specially appointed Community Board established by the Department of Justice to identify disparities in the Hispanic population in Reeves County; and has been a member American Cancer Society Board – Reeves Division for 10 years; served as Relay for Life Chair for two years; Reeves County Health Fair Committee – Co-Chairman for 20 years; Pecos Crime Stoppers – served for six years and was president for two. Martinez has served in various capacities at Santa Rosa Catholic Church and served on the Hospitality Ministry and Ministry of the Sick.
Martinez has numerous other accolades added to her resume and remains very involved and committed to the community.
“I’m deeply humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Martinez during her speech at the awards banquet.
Martinez said that when she was getting ready for the Dave Ramsey Seminar, where she is a volunteer, her son asked her why she did all that since she didn’t get paid.
“I told him because it’s the right thing to do, to volunteer, to help others and it’s God’s will,” said Martinez. “He didn’t understand, because he said it wasn’t a paid position,” she said.
“So, see Phillip, it does pay to volunteer and help others,” said Martinez.
Elmer Kelton, Western Writer, was the guest speaker for the evening.
Kelton and the other award recipients will be featured in other editions of the Pecos Enterprise.
Commissioners accept bid on land for motel project
Reeves County Commissioners awarded a section of land along Interstate 20 to a local businessman Monday morning, who plans to build a motel and sports bar on the site which is currently part of the Reeves County Golf Course.
Investors are excited about the project that will soon be underway after the bid was awarded during a special Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting. Commissioners approved the sale of approximately 15 acres of the Western Section of Reeves County to HKA Corporation, in the amount of $243,388.
“The first step was taken this morning when the county approved the bid, so the land will officially belong to HKA Corporation,” said Nancy Martinez, Marketing Director for HKA.
The project has been in the works for a while and includes the construction of a sports bar and grill, a three-story hotel with 60-65 rooms and suites, a food court with four venues and a party and meeting facility.
The project will begin no later than 12 months from the date of the deed transfer and be completed within 36 months, according to Leo Hung, president of HKA Corporation.
The value of the project will be equal to or in excess of $7 million. Full payment and title transfer of the land will occur in 30 days upon acceptance of proposal by the Reeves County Commissioners Court.
That acceptance came Monday morning, when the group met during a special meeting to consider the proposal and project.
“We’d like to get going the sooner, the better, like all projects,” Hung told the group during Monday’s meeting.
“I would like to thank you all for allowing this whole idea to come together,” said Steve Valenzuela, with HKA Corporation.
“I think we have a unique idea to finish the golf course, but the most important thing is to create a golf course that’s different, unique and will be an asset to the community, add something to this community,” said Valenzuela.
Reeves County acquired title to the land from the Pecos Housing Authority, after securing the rights five years ago to build two new holes for the golf course on the former Pecos Army Airbase Apartments land. In January, the county was given 111 acres of land on the south side of the golf course by the Town of Pecos City to replace three holes along I-20 and build four new holes to expand the course to a full 18-hole layout.
Valenzuela that they hoped that they could have a high, quality golf course that would attract not only tourists, but also that the whole community could enjoy.
Lynn Owens told the group that there were a lot of intangibles, and they couldn’t predict if the golf course would be playable by the time the project is completed.
“We can’t guarantee that it will be playable by May 2010,” said Owens.
“I don’t mind if we take that out of the contract, that the golf course will be playable,” said Hung.
Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras told the group that they approved the bid, because it would add something to the community.
“We want to make it an attraction, not just to complete the golf course,” said Contreras.
He told Rachel Patel, who had also bid for the land in question, that Reeves County had other properties that her company might be interested in.
“By no means do we want to run you off, but we feel that this venture is something that is needed in the community,” said Contreras. “There’s more land available.”
“We are in the process of scheduling a visit with the architect to develop our master plan and following our meeting with the architect, we’ll have a better timeline for completion of our project,” said Martinez.
“We are very excited at the thought of developing a hospitable and entertaining district in the south western part of Pecos,” she said. “The plan will serve not only travelers, but local residents as well,” she said.
Martinez said that as plans are finalized they will be releasing additional information.
“Our timeline includes that within 12 months construction will begin and it will be completed within 36 months,” said Hung.
Hung said that projects like this take a lot of cooperation between the city, the county and Pecos Housing Authority.
“My hometown is important to me and it’s important to give back the to the community,” said Hung. “I’m very confident in the future of Pecos and would like more local people to invest back in this community.”
Hung said that if he can come up with $7 million for this type of investment so can more residents in this community.
“People should believe more in our community and help it grow and prosper,” said Hung.
Early voting starts Tuesday for primary races
Early voting for the March 4 primary elections in Texas will get underway Tuesday morning, with Reeves County voters set to decide four contested races in the Democratic Party primary, along with joining other voters across the state in deciding the party’s presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama.
County clerk Dianne Florez said early voting will start on Tuesday at 8 a.m. and run through Friday, Feb. 29. Voting hours will be weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Reeves County Courthouse.
The contested local races are for Reeves County Commissioner in Precinct 1 and Precinct 3, and county Democratic Party chairman. Reeves County voters will join those in Ward and Loving counties in deciding the race for 143rd District Attorney.
All other local races are uncontested on the Democratic side, and no local candidates are running for election in the Republican Party primary.
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 before being defeated for re-election by Herrera in 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.
Texas voters in the Democratic primary were not expected to play a major role in the selection of the party’s presidential nominee. But a surge of support for Obama in recent weeks has put him ahead of Clinton in the party’s delegate count. Clinton who had been favored to win the nomination, is expected to need wins on March 4 in both Texas and Ohio to keep her campaign alive going into the final large state primary, in Pennsylvania in early April.
In the other races locally on the ballot, incumbents were the only ones to file in the other races, with the exception of Reeves County Tax Assessor-Collector, a position currently held by Elfida Zuniga. Rosemary Chabarria has filed for the position, after Zuniga opted not to run for re-election.
All four constables filed in Reeves County to beat the deadline. In Precinct 1, Arturo Granado has filed for that position; precinct 2, Jerry Matta; precinct 3, Thomas Martinez and precinct 4 John Armstrong. All four are incumbents, with Armstrong filling an unexpired term.
Also filing for re-election is the current Reeves County Attorney Alva Alvarez and Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez.
Council OKs land changes, building bids
Agreements involving land for new construction and returning old buildings to the tax rolls took up much of the discussion Thursday night, during the Town of Pecos Council’s regular meeting at City Hall.
The council met for over three hours and discussed over two dozen items, including two involving the construction of a new motel on Interstate 20 and new apartments in the central part of town, and two long-unoccupied downtown buildings that people involved with the new construction projects were looking to purchase.
The new project discussions centered on problems with financing the builders are having with their lenders. Council members heard from Henry Ghandi, who along with his brother Vinod is planning to build a Hampton Inn on the south side of I-20 just east of the Balmorhea Highway. The Ghandis purchased eight acres of land last year for the motel and other projects, including a restaurant, with a requirement that construction begin by the end of 2008.
However, Ghandi told the council that while he was able to get financing for the hotel, he has not been able to secure backing for the restaurant planned at the site. Because of that, Ghandi asked the council to modify the revert clause on five of the eight acres of land at the site.
“We want to break ground right now on the Hampton Inn,” he told the council. “We are working on financing for the restaurant.”
“I thought you guys already had the restaurant (financing),” said councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela.
“When we looked at the contract, we didn’t look at the clause,” Ghandi said. He asked the council to extend the Dec. 31 deadline for starting work on the five acres, while saying the hotel should break ground in the near future.
“You’re not the only one who has a contract. If we change it for one, we have to change it for all,” Valenzuela said. “I just worry about the other contracts we have out there.”
The council noted that loans and Pecos Economic Development Corp. funding totaling $238,000 has been secured to place underground utilities at the site for the motel and restaurant.
“The taxpayers have put out quite a bit of money to get this going. Other people are asking why you haven’t moved,” said councilman Danny Rodriguez.
“We are ready, but because of this clause the loan office has not been approved,” Ghandi said. “If we separate the hotel pad from the restaurant pad, we can get the loan approved immediately.”
“You have to understand we’ve been burned before,” Rodriguez said, noting that the council has sold city land and buildings for projects only to see no work done for several years.
Ghandi told Valenzuela and mayor Dick Alligood that they can try and get separate funding for the restaurant by the end of the year, and city attorney Scott Johnson advised the council to allow the Ghandis to split off the three acre motel pad from the remaining five acres, but to maintain the Dec. 31 deadline for starting work on the second project.
In a related item, the council agreed to spend $18,000 to complete trenching for utilities at the motel site. The location near the Pecos Municipal Airport require the city to place all the electrical and phone lines in the area underground.
City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid told the council the Texas Capital Fund grant has been approved, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is planning a visit to Pecos for a formal presentation of the grant funds.
The problem with the financing for the apartments involved the agreement the city made with Dimension Enterprises LLC and its owners, Dr. Rahat Saied and Ram Kunwar. Dimension was given land originally developed for 20 single-family homes on which they will construct 128 apartments. As part of the deal, Dimension will repay the remaining $367,343 of a $400,000 load the city received for putting in streets and utilities in the 700 and 800 blocks of Washington Street.
Alligood said the problem involved a conflict between the city’s deal, in which the land would revert to city control if the apartments aren’t built, and the construction loan Dimension is seeking, which wants the land put up as collateral for the $4.5 million project.
“That could be a problem in that if the apartment note is not paid, we’d lose the land,” Johnson said. “My suggestion to him is to pay cash for the land, then we won’t have the lien.”
“All I’m interested in is the $367,000. Whatever they want to do with the $4.5 million, I don’t care,” he added. “If they can borrow $4.5, they can borrow $4.8 million.”
The council then opted to take no action on changing the terms of the contract.
Dimension fared better on their other discussion with the council, which approved their conditional purchase of the old F.W. Woolworth building at Third and Eddy streets.
Former Pecos Main Street Program Director Tom Rivera represented Dimension at the meeting, and told the council the company was bidding $10,000 for the 52-year-old building, which would be renovated to create up to four apartments on the second floor and space for new retail stores on the first floor.
“Right now they have construction companies coming in, and they need housing,” Rivera said. “They would house the construction crews there during the construction phase of the (apartment) housing.”
He added that the roof of the building is in need to major repairs, and that water leaks have caused damage to the first floor ceiling. “If a new roof is not put it, the structure of the building is going to deteriorate to where it will cost more to fix it than to just tear it down,” Rivera said.
Council members and Johnson then discussed a timeline for the project, and agreed to approve the sale, with a six-month start date for renovation work.
“That also allows the council to review it. We can change it if the contractor is late on his work, and we see a good faith effort,” Alligood said.
The other downtown building sold was the old Pecos Garment Factory. Eddie Parra, an El Paso-based contractor, bid $5,000 for the building, and plans to use it to store materials for several current and future projects his company is working on in Pecos.
“We don’t have a Lowe’s here. We don’t have a Home Depot. I have materials run out pretty fast, so we need to buy in bulk,” Parra told the council. “The building is in pretty bad shape, but I think I can turn it around and make it into a storage area.”
Parra said his company is currently working on projects at the Pecos Inn, Swiss Clock Inn and near Reeves County Hospital. He said he would be willing to work with the city’s Main Street Program, which allows for a five-year limited tax abatement on improvements made to downtown buildings.
“I’ll have to replace about 70 percent of the roof,” he said, adding that he hoped the project could start within the next three months and be completed within two years.
“I expect to be here for about five years,” Parra said, and Alligood added that the company is also looking at renovating some of the deteriorating unoccupied homes in town for use by company workers.
Girls’ dance camp set March 1 at OC
A Dance/Cheer Camp will be held on Saturday, March 1, which will benefit the Lee S. Green Scholarship Fundraiser.
The camp is for girls ages 5-14, at the Odessa College Technical Training Center, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Camp instructors will be members of the University of Texas Permian Basin Dance team and present and former Pecos High School Cheerleaders.
Cost is $25 per student.
To register and pre-pay call 940-1965.
Snacks will be provided and a special performance will be held for the parents at the end of the camp day.
Pecos Trails director will depart from post
A special going-away gathering will be held from 2-4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, at the SIDC &TPTR Office, 120 N. Concho, Sonora, in honor of Keith Godwin, the Texas Pecos Trails Coordinator.
Individuals will need to RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 19, by calling Betty Cash, 432-639-2705 or Ann Kay, 325-387-2248.
Godwin, who is moving, has been a wonderful asset to Sonora and the Texas Pecos Trails Region.
Everyone is invited to attend.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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