Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, July 23, 2004
Area residents turn out for KWES visit
By ROSIE FLORES
An ugly dog contest and ice cream and hot dog eating contests were held last Wednesday, at the West of the Pecos Museum grounds for KWES-TV.
The NewsWest 9 crew from Odessa was on hand for their 12th annual “Under West Texas Skies” road tour and one of their stops was in Pecos this year.
The entire news team and crew arrived on location via All Aboard America Charter buses and broadcast live for the 4:30, 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows.
The winner of the ugly dog contest was Isaac Rodriguez.
Victor Hernandez took the prize in the ice cream eating contest. Hernandez ate 2 1/2 pints if Gandy’s Ice Cream in two minutes and Ivan Moore won the hot dog eating contest, with seven hot dogs.
Free samples of ice cream were handed out during the events and several booths were set up around the area including the Lion’s Club who was selling drinks, the Pecos Police Academy Alumni, Red Cross and a tattoo booth.
The television crew handed out pictures of the crew and autographed them for the crowd.
“We’re just thrilled to be here and we always get a good reception,” said Stephanie Rivas.
Jay Hendricks said that he always enjoyed doing the “Under West Texas Skies,” broadcast.
“We always have a lot of fun and we really enjoy visiting the different communities,” he said.
Pecos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Gholson thanked city officials for their help with the event, which included some last-minute logistical changes.
“Tom (Rivera) and the city crew fell right in there and got us out of a bind,” Gholson told Pecos City Council members on Thursday. “I just want to let you know without the help of the city we would have been wrecks.’
Commissioners to discuss RCDC payments
Reeves County Commissioners will discuss the 1999 lease payment for RCDC I-II, the 1999 maintenance reserve payment and the 2001 lease payment on RCDC-III during their regular meeting scheduled for Monday.
The group will meet at 10 a.m., Monday, July 26, in the third floor courtroom.
Commissioners will discuss and take action on direct vendor payments for RCDC III start-up costs; Westlaw contract for on-line services and a proclamation designating July 31, as Catholic War Veterans Day.
Regular agenda items include: inmate transportation crew mileage payments; reports from various departments; budget amendments and line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes (RCDC, sheriff’s department, county clerks’ office and juvenile department) and minutes from previous minutes.
Council heard complaints about cable service
By JON FULBRIGHT
Town of Pecos City Council members will make another effort to solve problems with picture quality for cable television customers in August, after hearing complaints about local cable service during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall.
Former Pecos Mayor William R. “Bob” Bickley spoke to council members at the start of Thursday’s meet about his problems with service provided by Cebridge Connections, and other local residents added their complaints during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Bickley complained about channel location changes, and said overall, “Seldom do we have a good signal on any channel.” But the main complaints were focused on the signal for the Midland-Odessa area network stations.
“Ch. 12 has been unusable for several weeks,” Bickley said. “Ch. 7 will suddenly go off with a loud bang.”
Ch. 12 is KMID, the ABC affiliate in the Midland-Odessa area, while Ch. 7 is KOSA, the CBS affiliate. Other complaints focused on the trouble with KMID, whose signal has deteriorated severely in recent years.
“I’d like to be able to watch ‘All My Children’ but I can’t,” said local resident Emily Fernandes, who added she had to call to find out the recent results of record-setting contestant Ken Jennings on “Jeopardy” because the picture quality on KMID was unwatchable.
“We were just discussing this, and each and every one of us have received numerous complaints about the service,” said Town of Pecos City Mayor Dot Stafford, speaking on behalf of the council. But she added in he short-term, the council’s ability to do anything was limited
Councilman Frank Sanchez said he’s among those who have had problems with their service. “I was without service for about three months and called the cable company, and they said I had good service and everything was fine.”
He added that things changed after he made a later complaint and mentioned he was a member of the city council. “Needless to say they came to my house and replaced the main line and everything is now fine,” Sanchez said.
Cebridge Connections assumed operation of the Pecos cable system last year, along with cable systems in Barstow, Monahans, Kermit and Crane after Classic Cable filed for bankruptcy. The former company shut their Pecos office several years ago and operates all area systems out of Monahans, while Cebridge moved the regional office from Tyler to Kingwood when they took over the company.
“We have a 5-year contract with the company, and I think it has 2 1/2 years to go,” she said. “A gentleman representing Cebridge was supposed to be here this week, but we received a letter from the regional district office that he couldn’t make it and would they please give him another date next month.”
City Attorney Scott Johnson said the council “used to have the ability to approve ret increases. That was taken out 10-12 years ago, and I thought that was a bad idea. We might want to look at that again.”
“The only other alternative is looking at another cable company to come in and that’s a significant cost on their part to set up,” he added.
Pete Abel, with Cebridge Connections, said “We’re looking at a range of options that will be the most reliable and the most inexpensive,” to improve KIMD’s signal. “We don’t want to push the cost over to the customers with something that’s expensive.”
Pecos cable viewers receive six stations from the Midland-Odessa area - KWWT (Ch. 5), KOSA (Ch. 7), KPEJ (Ch. 8), KWES (Ch. 9), KMID (Ch. 12) and KUPB (Ch. 38). Of those six, four are beamed directly into town from the stations’ main antennas west of Odessa and are also available with regular antennas, but getting the signals for KPEJ and KMID are more complicated.
Both stations’ antennas are located north of Midland International Airport, and their signals normally are not strong enough to reach into the Pecos Valley.
KPEJ, the Fox affiliate in the area for the past decade, actually beams their signal over Pecos to an antenna on 6,500-foot Gomez Peak southwest of town. The signal is then rebroadcast over the air on Ch. 16 and picked up by Cebridge’s antenna in Pecos. KPEJ’s signal has been plagued by weather-related problems over the years, but the signal quality received by Pecos cable viewers is based on the signal available from the Gomez Peak UHF channel.
In contrast, KMID’s signal was transmitted for years directly to the cable company in Pecos via microwave relay out of Notrees, 20 miles east of Kermit. However, the station’s chief engineer, Glenn Edwards said that changed about three years ago.
“That company was bought out, and they shut down all their video services,” Edwards said. They’re just using it for data now.”
He said since the change, Classic Cable and now Cebridge have been trying to pick up KIMD’s signal directly from their antenna north of the airport. “That’s why it’s changed from years ago.”
Edwards added that the signal problems are more severe during the summer months, and the line-of-sight problems due to Pecos’ lower elevation compound the problem.
“You would need to be on a pretty good tower to pick it up. In Monahans they have a tower over 200 feet tall to get the signal,” he said.
“From what I understand, they are a low-power, low frequency station,” Abel said about KMID, which broadcasts on UHF Ch. 2 out of Midland. “Their signal just isn’t strong enough to reach to where you are at.
Under the old system, KMID leased space on the Notrees tower to beam their signal to Pecos, and were repaid by the local cable company based on their total number of subscribers. Edwards said that some cable companies in similar situations have set up their own microwave systems, but added, “That would make it a big capital purchase to replace (the former system).”
Abel said his company was looking at several options, including trying to transmit the signal digitally into Pecos. “By the next council meeting Gary Pomonis (Cebridge’s regional business director) hopes to be able to present an update on what we are doing.”
Cebridge cable customers in Barstow don’t have the same ABC signal problems Pecos residents have, but that’s because they receive their signal by satellite from KUSA out of Denver, Colo. Other ABC network stations are also available via satellite, including WFAA in Dallas, but federal laws limit cable companies from bringing in outside signals, if an area network station is available.
“Under federal regulations we must carry that ABC affiliate,” Abel said. “There are rules where if we can’t get a good quality signal we can drop them, but we don’t want to drop them.”
“I wish there was something we could do,” Edwards said. “We would do anything we could do to make it happen.”
Keese replaces Saenz on PEDC board
By JON FULBRIGHT
Town of Pecos City Council members appointed a new member to the Pecos Economic Development Corp., and listened to a dispute between two current members over the handling of the resignation of PEDC president Gari Ward, during the council’s regular meeting Thursday evening at City Hall.
Joe Keese with TransPecos Bank was appointed to the board to replace Oscar Saenz, who resigned from the board after moving to Dallas. Saenz’s resignation became effective as of Thursday’s meeting, even though he has been living in Dallas for the past two months.
That prompted a complaint from West Texas National Bank President John Grant, a member of the PEDC board. He told the council he was upset about Saenz being able to vote via conference call during the PEDC’s special meeting on July 12, when Ward’s resignation, effective on Oct. 31, was accepted.
“While legal, I find it to be a highly irregular action on an item of this magnitude, knowing he had tendered his resignation,” Grant said. He also called the four-month period between the acceptance of Ward’s resignation and his leaving the position a “severance package.”
Ward is moving to Tucson, Ariz., where his wife has a new job opportunity. PEDC board member Mike Burkholder said “He submitted his resignation effective Oct. 31, but he plans to work until that time. It’s not a severance package.”
Burkholder said that due to scheduling conflicts among the board members, July 12 was the only date a meeting could be held quickly, after Ward submitted his resignation. He added that he wanted the transition period at the PEDC to go as smoothly as possible between now and the time a successor to Ward is selected.
Burkholder cited the visit on July 14-15 by representatives from Texas A&M, who were looking at the old Smithers’ Tire Testing Center 15 miles east of Pecos. He said officials with the National Transportation Safety Administration have also been in contact about possible use of the test track.
“It’s important somebody be here to offer consistence. It’s not going to be an overnight thing; it’s going to be 18 months to two years,” Burkholder said. “It’s important the PEDC have somebody functioning there. If that’s not all right, I’m sorry.”
“I personally think it’s a position not to be jumped into in the next month or so,” mayor Dot Stafford said about Ward’s replacement, while Burkholder said he would be able to handle some of the duties if a new president is not in place by the time Ward leaves for Tucson.
“I’m not overwhelmed with work. I’m getting to be an expert on solitaire on the computer, and I’m getting tired of that,” said Burkholder, a retired businessman and former Pecos city councilman.
Burkholder also thanked city manager Joseph Torres and city workers for their efforts in fixing up the test track’s buildings for the tour by A&M officials. “The city really did a great job,” he said.
On filling Saenz’s slot on the board, councilman Frank Sanchez said, “I’ve gotten phone calls suggesting we support Mr. Joe Keese. He’s from the other bank and that would balance it out.”
The council then approved Keese’s appointment on a 3-0 vote. Council members Danny Rodriguez and Angelica Valenzuela were absent from Thursday’s meeting.
Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez also asked Burkholder if the PEDC board could meet monthly for now, while the search is on for a new president. By law, the group only has to meet twice a year.
Stafford also asked Burkholder about holding the next meeting when Valenzuela, the council’s representative on the board, was in town.
“I won’t call a meeting until she’s here,” Burkholder said.
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