Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, December 4, 2003
First home for new development opens
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
PECOS, Thurs., Dec. 4, 2003 -- Around 30 people turned out on
Wednesday to hear from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural
Community Development representative on the specifics regarding the
housing project under construction in the central part of Pecos.
The hour-long meeting was held to inform the public on the methods
used to purchase a home in the development, located behind Gibson's
hardware in the 800 and 900 blocks of Washington Street. The first home
on the site was just recently completed, and the Town of Pecos City has
planned for as many as 20 homes in the development.
The presentation followed the ribbon cutting on the first house in
the development by the new owners, Israel and Janet Natividad.
Community leaders joined the Natividads to commemorate the closing on
Mayor Dot Stafford, Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce President Linda
Gholson, Police Chief-interim City Manager Clay McKinney, City
Secretary Connie Levario and other assorted officials were on hand to
congratulate the Natividad's, who are scheduled to move in today. The
house, located at the corner of Washington and Johnson streets, took
two months to build and was customized to the Natividad's
USDA representative, Daila McAnally, informed the crowd at the
presentation about the various programs the agency has to aid
prospective homeowners in the purchase of a home. McAnally said that
buyers could qualify for one of two programs, depending on their income
The first is the USDA's Direct Single Family Loan, which offers
buyers a 33-year loan at a low interest rate and typically subsidies to
aid in the monthly payments. To qualify for this program a household of
four people must make less than $32,950. Depending on family's level of
need, the USDA will adjust the amount of monthly subsidy paid in
conjunction with the monthly mortgage payment paid by the family,
according to McAnally.
"The houses range in price from $45,000-$60,000, but the homeowners
are allowed to customize the house as it is being built. The owners are
involved from the very beginning of the construction, and asked for
their input at every stage of the process," McAnally said.
The other program that prospective owners can qualify for is the
Guaranteed Single Family Housing Loan, where the USDA will give the
buyers a list of qualified mortgage institutions. Once the loan has
been secured, the construction can begin and can last no longer than
four months, McAnally's told those at the meeting.
To qualify for the guarantee program the household of four must make
less than $65,000 a year, but the qualification numbers are only a
beginning of the process. The USDA goes through an extensive process of
credit checks ranging from checks with local creditors to a calculation
of the debt to income ratio that the prospective buyers have before the
purchasing process has begun.
According to McAnally, the credit checks continue up until closing.
"If at any point before the house is finished, the buyer's debt ratio
goes above 41 percent, the deal is off until the buyer fixes the
problem," she said. "I had a buyer one week from closing buy a new
truck, we did one final credit check, he failed, and to the best of my
knowledge he is living in the truck now."
No matter what program the applicants qualify for, as the life of
the loan progresses, the assistance that the homeowner receives will
vary as the owner's income increases over the years. According to
McAnally, a loan could start out at a 1 percent interest rate, but over
time the rate will be adjusted to what the owners can pay, so that the
rate will increase until it reaches the current market rate and the
mortgage will be sold by the USDA to a regular mortgage holding
"There is no prepayment penalty; if the homeowner can afford to pay
extra every month, then just like a regular mortgage, the overage will
be applied to the principle, and the total interest paid and the life
of the loan can be reduced. For example, if the monthly payment is
$200, and the owners can afford to pay an extra $50 a month, then the
life of the loan can be reduced from 30 years to 15," McAnally said.
"My goal is to make people successful homeowners, not to make people
pay a larger mortgage payment than they can afford," he added.
Patterson hears water sale foes, eyes new deal
From Staff and Wire Reports
The Texas General Land Office is finalizing a deal that ultimately
would put the state in the business of selling water to communities
along Texas 130 in Central Texas, while a similar project in West Texas
is going forward despite opposition from area residents.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has been pursuing water deals,
which he sees as the next big source of school fund money from state
lands. However, the Central Texas proposal would be the first time the
land office will directly finance a water project.
Other known deals, including a plan being considered in Alpine,
involve leasing groundwater rights on state land. A meeting was held by
the General Land Office on the issue on Tuesday, drawing a crowd of
people mostly opposed to the plan to the Alpine meeting.
The Central Texas agreement would be with Austin-based WaterTexas,
which already has commitments from three potential customers,
Windermere Utility Co., Hornsby Bend Utility Co. and Metro H2O Ltd., in
eastern Travis and Williamson Counties, the Austin American-Statesman
WaterTexas President Lynn Sherman said his company has water rights
from owners of land above the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which stretches
from southwestern to northeastern Texas.
WaterTexas would find water supplies and customers and obtain
permits. Once the customers and contracts are in place, the GLO would
buy the project and own the water rights, customers and revenue from
The School Land Board, chaired by Patterson, would pay for the
project with money from the $200 million it receives in each two-year
budget cycle in royalties from gas, oil and ranching on state land,
Sherman told the newspaper.
The land board puts the royalty money in escrow and has two years
to invest it in real property before depositing it into an $18 billion
Permanent School Fund that supports public education.
"We're looking at opportunities to find other sources of revenue
for the Permanent School Fund and this might be one of them should the
School Land Board decide this is a good idea," Patterson said
On Tuesday, Patterson heard from a number of Big Bend area residents
opposed to a plan by Midland-based Rio Nuevo to pump water from beneath
355,000 acres of Permanent School Fund Land in Presidio, Jeff Davis,
Culberson and Hudspeth counties to areas of Central Texas. The
residents spoke out during a 51/2 hour meeting in the Alpine ISD
Rio Nuevo is offering the state up to $7 million a year in exchange
for pumping 16.3 billion gallons of water from the Rio Grande border
counties each year. Rio Nuevo officials at the meeting said a pipeline
from West Texas to deliver the water could cost $300 million, and the
group is seeking a 30-year renewable lease, according to the Big Bend
Tom Beard, chairman of the Far West Texas Water Planning Group, told
Patterson and other GLO commissioners he opposed the plan, after
hearing Rio Nuevo's presentation.
"Don't do business with these people," said Beard, an Alpine
resident. "They pass off as facts some figures from our water plan that
are not how the plan presents them."
"If you rely on their representations to make a deal, you're making
a grave mistake. No water is believed for export on this scale," said
Beard, who chaired a meeting of the Far West Texas Water Planning Board
on the Midland-based group's project two weeks ago in Van Horn.
The Sentinel said the three commissioners voted to adopt a lease
template that could be used for future water development proposals. The
template would be similar to the GLO's oil and gas leases, and similar
to the plan for the water leasing in the Austin area.
Sherman said the project could be greatly expanded as the Texas 130
corridor, an Interstate 35 bypass, grows. Construction began in October
on an interchange and access roads near Georgetown and other work is to
begin soon farther south.
"This is one of the fastest-growing regions in the state, and
there's a real demand for water," Sherman said.
He said the School Land Board expressed interest in the proposal
and serious discussions have been going on for about six months.
The Rio Nuevo deal is current in a 90 day comment period, which area
residents wanted extended until a hearing chaired by Sen. Frank Madla
is held and its report could be issued.
Patterson said that the committees' input would have a "substantial
amount" of impact in the lease process, the Sentinel said. But the Land
Commissioner said he did not want to wait until the next full session
of the Texas Legislature in 2005 before making a decision on the Rio
Feds boost payments to city for CJC inmates
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
PECOS, Thurs., Dec. 4, 2003 -- Town of Pecos City officials have
negotiated and received a man/day rate increase from the U.S. Marshal's
Service for housing inmates at the city's Criminal Justice Center.
The city has received an increase of $3.60 above the previous rate
of $42 per day, which was used to calculate the money paid to the city
for its housing of Marshal Service's prisoners. The increase brings the
daily rate per prisoner up to $45.60.
The new figures are based off of a request filed by the city last
April in conjunction with an audit performed by the U.S. Department of
Justice in July. The audit's results allowed the city to receive more
money for the services that they perform for the government.
"This is a result of everyone from the jailers to the city manager
working together to achieve this kind of positive result," said Pecos
Police Chief and interim City Manager Clay McKinney. "I see this as
definitely a good thing for Pecos."
While the increase in revenue doesn't dictate a profit for the city,
the money may be used for various projects around the facility and to
aid in the administration of the CJC, which opened in February 2002 and
can house up to 96 inmates.
"Just as an example, the money could be used to add lights to the
CJC parking lot, do landscaping around the facility or possible add
more transportation vans to aid in the movement of prisoners," McKinney
The increase will be retroactively applied to the billing since
August 1 of this year.
"Every dollar increase we receive translates to about $33,000 in
yearly revenue for the CJC, so this is a pretty significant jump," City
Financial Director Sam Contreras said. "We should see over $100,000
more per year in revenue now."
The CJC was projected to clear $1.41 million based off of the old
rate. With the new rate, city officials project $1.53 million to be
brought in by the CJC, based on an estimation that 92 out of the 96
beds in the facility on average will be occupied by government
"The auditor said that the facility was very clean and that the
chief and the rest of the CJC staff did an good job running the
facility and that the operation was very efficient," Contreras added.
The increase comes to a facility that averages over 90 percent
capacity. With an average of only 1.5 local prisoners per day, the CJC
stays pretty much full of U.S. Marshal's service prisoners, according
The increase will stay in effect for the next five years, "If things
change, we can go back and ask for another increase, but that will
require another audit," Contreras said. "These audits don't always go
in favor of the facility though, if the auditor finds that the facility
doesn't need quite so much money to operate, the rate may be
"The auditor bases his decision off of the 'legitimate cost' running
a facility. This includes utilities, food cost, administrative costs,
and so on," Contreras added. "We are currently buying our food from
U.S. Foods, but we are looking into bidding those contracts out in the
future to further lower costs."
Heavy baggage gets driver checked into jail
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., Dec. 4, 2003 -- A man traveling through Reeves County
didn't have a change of clothes in the luggage in his pick-up, but had
enough in marijuana hidden there to land him in a jail outfit, after a
Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force officer stopped him on Wednesday.
Apolonio Martinez, Jr., 34, was arrested during a routine traffic
stop, at 1:20 p.m., Wednesday on Interstate 20 at mile marker 32, seven
miles west of Pecos.
Martinez was traveling east on I-20, when Trans Pecos Drug Task
Force Officer Ken Colston, stopped his 1994 GMC pickup during a routine
Colston said he suspected something wasn't right and asked
permission to search the vehicle. After the driver consented to a
search, the officer uncovered 138.8 pounds of marijuana in a traveling
bag and a suitcase.
"He was headed to Fort Worth," said Colston. "There was nothing else
in his suitcases, they were in the back of the pickup."
Martinez is currently in the Reeves County Jail awaiting arraignment
and charged with possession of marijuana over 50 pounds and under
2,000, a Felony Two Offense. The street value for the illegal drugs was
estimated at $63,106.
Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officer Joe Gonzales of Pecos assisted
Colston who operates out of Midland.
"We're very proud of the work our officers do," said task force
commander Gary Richards. "They are really sharp and they are good at
keeping our community safe and drug free."
Austin Elementary hosting book fair
PECOS, Thurs., Dec. 4, 2003 -- Austin Elementary School will be
hosting a Scholastic Book Fair next week.
The Fair will run from Monday, Dec. 8 through Friday, Dec. 12, in
Room 27, beginning each day at 8:30 a.m. Everyone is invited to come
and browse. Books make great Christmas gifts.
PECOS, Thurs., Dec. 4, 2003 -- High Wednesday 66. Low this morning
36. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low near 35. Northeast winds
10 to 15 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. Cooler. Highs near 50. Eastwinds
10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30. Southeast
winds near 10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 60. South winds
10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s.
Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 70. Sunday night: Partly cloudy. Lows
in the mid 30s to the lower 40s.
Antonia Arredondo and Mary Ruth Eudaily
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise