Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, February 22, 2008
Mendoza triplets celebrate first birthday
La Margarita Restaurant in Odessa, hosted the first Birthday Party for the Mendoza triplets, on Feb. 1.
In attendance was their big brother, Matthew, along with family and friends to honor Andrew, Michael and Mia Joe.
Parents are Joe and Gracie Mendoza of Odessa.
Paternal grandparents are Joe Mendoza and Olga Garcia, Socorro Mendoza and Johnny Mauldin.
Maternal grandmother is Lucy Sotelo, all of Pecos.
Boosting tax base top goal for PEDC’s new president
The new president of the Pecos Economic Development Corp. began his first day on the job Thursday, meeting with local officials and planning a tour of the town to get a better idea of what the city has to offer to new businesses.
Robert M. Tobias Jr. was selected as president of the 4B PEDC during a special meeting of the corporation’s board on Feb. 13. Tobias most recently served as the director of economic development in Live Oak, a suburb on the northeast side of San Antonio, from October of 2003 through October of 2007.
“The day after I was here for the interview, I took a tour with Mr. (acting PEDC president Joseph) Torres and saw some of the properties that the city has available,” Tobias said. He added that attracting new motels to town along with finding sites for new businesses would be his main early goals.
“I want to focus on growing the sales tax base, getting the tax rate down and making everybody happy,” said Tobias. He added that working with the other local taxing entities to attract new businesses to town would be a key to succeeding.
“There’s a lot more advantages here than on I-10, and there’s a lot more traffic here than on I-10,” he said. “You certainly have transportation, with the highway, railroad and airport, but you still have to get across what the city has to offer in this area, and how do you communicate it to those businesses.”
Torres gave Tobias a list of current PEDC projects. They include proposals for up to six new motels, the purchase of land along I-20 from the Pecos Housing Authority and from the Texas Department of Transportation, and the proposed intermodal rail yard on I-20 2 1/2 miles west of town.
Tobias’ previous positions connected to economic development include president and CEO of the Tulsa, Okla., Hispanic Chamber from Dec. 1999 to Dec. 2002; director of the Edinberg Economic Development Corp. from July 1994 to July 1996; and as a marketing executive with the Greater Houston Partnership from July 1989 to July 1993.
He noted that Pecos has seen a business revival in recent years, with the oil and natural gas drilling boom that has caused the city’s sales tax to double since 2003, and that while diversifying the local economy in preparation for the end of the current boom is important, the city needs to also work on attracting and training a workforce that would be available to companies outside of the energy industry.
“I think if you look at some of the issues in Pecos, as far as attracting and retaining a workforce, they’re the same as in other cities in West Texas,” Tobias said. “We need to make sure the workforce has the appropriate skill set to remain competitive.”
“When I was with the Greater Houston Partnership I had a chance to go up to the northeast area and talk to corporations about the advantages of relocating to Houston,” he said. “When I was up there, I had a chance to see some of the smaller cities, where they was one big factory and now it’s closed, and the question was what can you find to put in that factory? So I’ve had a chance to see cities try to reinvent themselves.”
Torres began work a week ahead of the original schedule. Torres said he was happy to turn over the work of both the new 4B PEDC and the outgoing 4A corporation to Tobias, so that he could concentrate on his city manager’s position.
Tobias is the third full-time president of the PEDC since its creation a decade ago. The PEDC 4B corporation was created in October after a vote last May by voters, and replaces the 4A corporation in receiving a 1/4-cent in funding from the city’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax for its operations.
The 4A PEDC remains in operation to close out businesses and contracts entered into over the past decade. Several items, including job retention and creation projects with the Texas Transportation Institute, TransPecos Foods, Anchor Drilling and Badger Enterprises.
Torres said Tobias’ first meeting with the PEDC board as president would be this coming Monday, when both the 4A and 4B boards will meet in separate sessions at City Hall.
Primary voting up in state, down locally
Democratic voters showed up in far larger numbers than Republicans on the first day of early balloting in the Texas primary election as interest mounted in the race between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
However, in Reeves County, turnout for this year’s Democratic primary election is down about 60 percent from the same time two years ago, due to fewer candidates being involved in this year’s local races.
Democratic officials and the Texas Secretary of State's Office had said turnout could be high for the March 4 primary, as it has been in other states, because of the close presidential nomination race.
On Tuesday, the first day of a two-week early voting period, 65,293 Texans cast ballots in the state's 15 most populous counties in the Democratic primary, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Secretary of State's Office. That amounted to 0.84 percent of registered voters in those counties.
"Turnout after the first day of early voting is significantly higher than we have seen in recent elections," agency spokesman Scott Haywood said. "The Secretary of State is encouraged by the level of participation by Texans and is optimistic this trend will continue through March 4."
In the Republican primary, 25,673 voters, or 0.33 percent of those registered in the top 15 counties, cast ballots.
Excitement over the Republican nomination is not as high because the delegate race is all but locked up by Arizona Sen. John McCain, though former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee hasn't quit yet and is campaigning in Texas.
Texans can vote in either party primary as long as they registered by the deadline a month before the election.
Locally, Reeves County Clerk Dianne Florez said a total of 72 individuals cast their ballots early on the first day of early voting on Tuesday, with another 65 casting their vote on Wednesday. That’s actually down 191 voters from 2006, when 328 people cast ballots during the first two days of early voting.
Along with the statewide primary races for president and U.S. Senate, there are four local races Reeves County voters will decide on March 4. But the total number of candidates in the races for Reeves County Commissioner is down from two years ago, when a multi-candidate race for Reeves County Judge also spiked early voting totals for the county.
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.
Harris and Dallas counties had the largest numbers of Democratic voters the first day, with 10,049 and 9,834 respectively. Those are places where Obama has campaigned this week. They were followed by Tarrant, Bexar and Travis counties.
Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley, where Clinton was visiting for a second time Wednesday since the campaign shifted to Texas, had the highest percentage of registered voters turn out with 2.15 percent, or 6,183 voters, in the Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, Harris County with 4,130 voters and Tarrant County with 3,051 voters had the highest numbers on the first day of early balloting in the 15 most populous counties.
The Democratic one-day total Tuesday amounts to about 22 percent off all early votes cast in the party's primary race in Texas in 2004, when John Kerry had essentially sealed the nomination and most other candidates had dropped out.
City says motel’s mistakes boost sewer smell
Town of Pecos City Council members were given an update on sewer line problems on the south side of town, and ratified the hiring of a new president of the Pecos Economic Development Corp., during their regular meeting on Feb. 14 at City Hall.
City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid told council members last month about problems with the current sewer line from the Reeves County Detention Center to the Stafford Boulevard lift station. They also heard from Best Western Swiss Clock Inn manager Jean Winget about a problem with the sewer lines in the area of the motel on I-20 at Country Club Drive, where the motel’s owners are planning to build a second 60-room motel just to the west of the current building.
Madrid said during the council’s Jan. 10 meeting that the south side sewer problems were linked to the volume of wastewater from the Reeves County Dentition Center, aging lines in the area, and the slope of the line in the area of the Swiss Clock Inn. On Thursday, he said, “We’re still getting problems with the sewer at the hotel, but not at the Stafford lift station.”
At the same time, city building inspector Jack Brookshire said a check of the sewer system at the hotel showed several improper connections, which led to the sewer smell being forced back into the rooms of the hotel, especially in rooms on the east side.
Brookshire said roof vents were removed when that area was renovated following a fire, and there were no elbow joints on the lines leading from the rooms to the main sewer outlet.
“The slope does not meet the code,” Brookshire told the council during a slide show presentation, and said a plumber from Odessa had discovered plastic and grease rags in the hotel’s sewer lines, causing clogging problems similar to those at the Stafford lift station, and that one section of line had been separated from the main sewer connection.
He said motel owner Hans Schlunegger was told of the city’s findings, and will correct some of the problems. “The plumbing crew working on the new motel will be there by late this week,” Brookshire said, and will correct some of the line problems in the east wing, while the roof vents there will be reinstalled.
Mayor Dick Alligood said Schlunegger wrote a letter to the city commending it on the work to solve the sewer smell problem. Alligood also commended Madrid and the city workers who have been involved in trying to fix the problem with the south side sewer lines.
The council was also told by Madrid that the city is awaiting the arrival of a crane to install a new pump at the Stafford Boulevard lift station. The third pump is supposed to provide back-up for the south side sewer lines if one of the two operating pumps at the lift station breaks down.
The vote on hiring Robert M Tobias as president of the 4B Pecos Economic Development Corp. came a day after the PEDC board voted 5-1 to hire Tobias as the new president. The PEDC has been without a president since just after its creation in October, and Tobias will take over the job at an annual salary of $75,000, along with an $8,200 car allowance, and insurance and retirement benefits under the city’s benefits program.
Councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela questioned the $75,000 salary, which was $15,000 above the highest previous salary for a PEDC president. Alligood said the pay was below what Tobias had received for the same position in Live Oak, a suburb of San Antonio, and that EDC salaries for cities of 50,000 or less population averaged between $52,000 and $78,000.
“This gentleman has got 20 years experience,” Alligood said, and the council then approved the selection unanimously. Councilman Danny Rodriguez, who had voted against Tobias the previous day as a member of the PEDC board, was among those on Thursday voting to ratify the board’s decision.
Council discusses health insurance problems
Town of Pecos City Council had two closed-door meetings to discuss a claim against the city’s medical insurance, during the council’s regular meeting on Feb. 14 at City Hall.
Council members met with Pecos Police Officer Mike Balog behind closed doors for about 20 minutes, then approved a motion to authorize city attorney Scott Johnson to settle the claim and send a letter to the city’s health care provider, RH Administrators, complaining about the treatment of the claim.
The council then returned to executive session a short time later, when Rick Holder, president of RH Administrators, arrived for the meeting. The initial executive session had been listed at the end of the meeting but was moved up to the start of the council’s 5:30 p.m. agenda. The second session with Holder lasted about 40 minutes, and council members took no action at its conclusion.
In other action, the council approved a request to contribute $2,500 towards the purchase of a new $7,500 workout mat at the Pecos High School field house. PHS football and track coach Derek Price represented the school, and said the mat would be used for high school activities, as well as being open to the public during designated hours as part of the facility’s weight-training equipment.
“The mat we have right now is 25 years old. It’s ripping apart and the cover is coming off of it,” Price said. He added that those cuts scrape the athletes using the mat, and that the bottom side of the mat was even more damaged than the top side.
Reeves County and the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD also will contribute $2,500 towards the $7,500 cost of the new 30-by-30 foot mat.
The council approved seeking bids on a new inmate telephone contract for the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, while approving a bid from AA Chemical and Supply Co. for janitorial services at the facility. Police Chief Clay McKinney said AA Chemical was the lone bidder for the contract.
The council tabled action on a $500 bid by Dennis Thorp for property at 501 S. Palm St. Council members said the property was the site of where a house had burned, and while the P-B-T ISD board already had approved the sale, council members said the city paid for the entire cost of cleaning up the site.
“I don’t mind selling property to get it back on the tax roll, but the city has a tax investment on this, since we paid for the clean-up,” said mayor Dick Alligood. “We want to clean-up everything, but when it’s left on the shoulders of the city to clean it up and we’re not sharing the burden with any other taxing entity, we need to be fair to the taxpayers.”
The council also cleaned up a problem with a motion last fall to fund a 10 percent grant for a $590,000 airport light replacement project. The council approved putting up the $59,277 to obtain the grant, but city manager Joseph Torres said the council had to approve a budget amendment before the grant could by obtained by airport manager Isabel Blanchard.
Also approved was the closing of three streets in the Maxey Park area on March 15 for the city’s annual Spring Break Concert. Streets on the southeast side of the park will be closed for the first time, in order to avoid problems with the scheduled paintball tournament, which was relocated to the park’s soccer field from the old Pecos Rifle and Pistol Range.
The council named city parks director Adolfo Ruiz, city public works director Edgardo Madrid and councilman Danny Rodriguez as alternates to the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department board.
The board is currently made up of nine voting members, three each from the city, Reeves County and P-B-T ISD. Rodriguez, who is also employed as a coach with the recreation department, told the council the extra members were needed because the board is often short of the five required for a quorum.
Johnson said each entity adding additional voting members would leave the same quorum problems, but the city could add three alternates, who would only vote if the regular members were not available.
“That way if the regular members don’t show up, they can vote,” Johnson said.
Kelton lauds local preservation work
Pecos has a lot to offer and a lot of good that they can be proud of, according to the guest speaker at the Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet.
Elmer Kelton, western writer and the recipient of numerous awards talked to the group that gathered last Friday evening at the Reeves County Civic Center. He has written 40 novels and had worked for the San Angelo Standard Times for many years.
Kelton told the group that he had served in the war and that his souvenir that he brought home was his wife.
“My grandfather had worked at a ranch for many years when things got tough and he decided to come to Pecos to try to make a living,” said Kelton. “Well my grandmother had heard things about Pecos and she didn’t want to come live here, she said I’ll go to Midland, but not Pecos,” he said.
Kelton said that his grandfather said no, we’re moving to Pecos. “They ended up living in Midland,” he said.
Kelton said that he was never much of a cowboy, but that his brother was.
“I was more into writing about western life, than being a cowboy,” said Kelton.
Kelton said that Pecos has had their share of characters and said that history has made us what we are today.
“History is real important and I’m glad to see that Pecos is trying to keep it alive,” said Kelton. “All the things that are done in the past and have been passed to us are important.”
Kelton also said that history has a tendency to repeat itself.
“I’m glad to see you’re preserving your history and congratulate on the longevity of your organization and businesses in town,” said Kelton. “You need to keep history alive and vibrant and keep those character s in town.”
Following Kelton’s speech, several awards were handed out Friday evening, including the Business Person of the Year Award, which was given to Leo Hung, owner pf several local businesses.
Hung came to Pecos in 1980, with a vision of building a sound business and providing good service to his customers.
As his business as owner of Professional Pharmacy became successful he expanded into several other areas. He established American Home Health in 1989 to fill a void in healthcare services. He added American Medical Equipment in 1991 and hospice services in 1993. Primary Care Services and Family Care Service were added in 2007. He acquired Trans-Pecos Lab in 1991 and Pecos Nursing Home in 2001.
As a good businessman, Hung ensured that each venture he has embarked on and each service he has added has been a sound financial investment. He carefully studies every business move because he realizes that many people depend on him for their livelihood, said chamber of commerce director Joe Keese.
“He is about to embark in a huge venture by building a hotel, food court and other entertainment facilities,” said Keese. “His interest in doing this is not self-serving rather to improve the quality of life in this community and promote growth in Pecos,” he said.
Keese said that Hung is the epitome of a good businessman and should be recognized for his business achievements.
“I’m not so sure I deserve this award,” said Hung. “We do have a lot of talent in Pecos and in time we have developed a lot of professional people,” he said.
“Their roots are here and that’s how history grows and we want to welcome all new businesses,” said Hung.
Bill Cooksey was the recipient of this year’s Hidden Hero/Ruiz Profile of Courage Award.
Emily Fernandes, a past recipient presented the award to Cooksey during the evening’s events.
“As Yogi Berra was wont to say, it’s déjà vu all over again,” said Fernandes. “Two years ago I was standing here receiving the Hidden Hero award,” she said.
Fernandes said that last year she was presenting the award to Gail and Hugh Box “And tonight I’ll present the 2007 award, to just one person this time,” she said.
“This man has been a devoted husband to Jo for 55 years, father of three and very proud grandfather of seven,” said Fernandes, who added that they have been friends for over 50 years.
Cooksey is a Pecos native and member of a pioneer family. After graduating Pecos High School and attending Texas Tech he served in United States Navy.
After marrying his high school sweetheart and leaving the Navy, Fernandez said, “He went off to Illinois to study jewelry making and watch repair before coming home to join his father-in-law in the jewelry business.”
Some time later he bought the business and operated it for nearly 50 years.
“He closed the store a year or so ago, got antsy and reopened for jewelry repair and special orders, need a diamond? A gold chain? A bracelet? He’ll order it for you,” said Fernandes.
“He spent many, many hours single-handedly cleaning, restoring and maintaining the Pioneer Graveyard, the old Pecos Cemetery, where Clay Allison’s body was once buried,” said Fernandes.
Every weekday morning he “hosts” the Coffee Bunch, a tradition begun in 1926.
International Affairs Department Program held by club
An International Affairs Dept. Program was held by The Modern Study Club of Pecos on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the home of Catherine Travland, with president Margie Williamson presiding.
Nan Cate of Verhalen, chairman of the International Affairs Dept., planned and presented her program, “Our Heritage from Scotland and Ireland.” The thought-quote for the program was – “O my mother isn’t Irish, and my father isn’t too, but today I feel as Irish as the really Irish do. For today I wear a Shamrock that is very green and gay, so although I’m all American, I’m Irish for today” – Unknown.
Mrs. Cate presented an interesting and most informative program and some of the facts are listed.
About 94 percent of the people of Ireland are Roman Catholics and less than four percent are Protestands and almost all of the people speak English, and about one-fourth also speak Irish, a Gaelic language that is the traditional tongue of Ireland.
Irish influence on Western education began 14 centuries ago when Western Europe was largely illiterate.
Nearly 1,000 Irish missionaries traveled to England and Europe to teach Christianity. Ireland kept Christianity and European Culture alive during dark ages of Europe.
Ireland has produced great works of literature and arts-painting and illuminated manuscripts, is the third largest in Europe, and is a member of the European Union.
Ireland has a mile, but changeable climate all year with few extremes.
There are no snakes in Ireland – the legend is the St. Patrick with a song on pipes lured them all into the sea.
It is believed that Ireland has been inhabited a very long time – probably since about 8000 B.C.
Christianity began when Saint Patrick, Ireland’s popular saint arrived in 432.
The 19th Century saw the Great Famine of 1840’s during which one million Irish people died and over a million emigrated.
Only about half as many people live in Ireland today as lived there 100 years ago.
Since Ireland has been economically successful it is now one of the richest countries in the European Union and many U.S. Citizens now seek to move to Ireland for work.
Ireland is full of castle, but now tall modern buildings are being constructed and in 2006 it was ranked the second wealthiest per capita country in the world. Only Japan is wealthier.
Ireland with its moderate climate, its green hills and picturesque castles seems like a wonderful place to live.
The Collect was led by Pearl Gustafson and Lena Harpham led the Pledges of Allegiance to the United States of America and Texas Flags during opening ceremonies.
Secretary Catherine Travland read the minutes of January 9th meeting, Treasurer Betty Lee reported on club finances and Mrs. Travland reported on the club’s certificate of deposit.
Marian Byrd of Big Lake had reported that the 20th Century Club had voted to de-federate and use the money sent for GFWC and TFWC dues for their local scholarship.
Joyce Morton, Reports Chairman, reported that all reports had been mailed to district chairmen. Catherine Travland told that a Public Relations Report had been sent to the State Chairman since there was no district chairman.
Margie Williamson, Scholarship Chairman, reported that she has everything but a photograph ready to be mailed to the District Scholarship Chairman on Vanessa Valeriano’s application for the $800 Eleanor Tipps State Scholarship. Mrs. Williamson reported she was working toward the Alma Van Sickle Scholarship candidate selection.
During her report, Paula Fuller, Federation Chairman, that we need to support “Putting an End to Global Poverty Act of 2007.” She stated, “according to the United Nations, poverty is a ‘multidimensional phenomenon.’” It is not only about lack of income, but is also about human deprivations of U.S. leadership in improving lives around the world, President Bush has made development a pillar of the U.S. National Security Strategy. The United States needs to act now to ensure the well being of millions of men, women, and children throughout the world.
It’s estimated that 1.2 billion people still live on less than $1 per day, and almost three billion on less than $2 per day.
More than 110 million primary school-aged children are not attending a school, 60 percent of which are girls.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty.
Mrs. Fuller continued, The Global Poverty Act of 2007 (H.R. 1302) aims to require the U.S. President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty.
Pearl Gustafson thanked the club for the beautiful birthday card made by Joyce Morton and signed by members.
A Certificate for Outstanding Clubwoman/Volunteer was presented to Lena Harpham as Modern Study Club’s Outstanding Clubwoman/Volunteer for 2007-2008. Her nomination has been sent to the Outstanding Clubwoman/Volunteer District Chairman, Janet Lindsey of Woman’s Study Club of McCamey.
Roll call was answered by responding to the question – Do you have ancestors from either Scotland or Ireland?
The club’s bi-monthly project for this meeting was to give to M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center.
Delicious refreshments were served by hostesses Joyce Morton and Paula Fuller from a table decorated with a beautiful Irish theme.
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