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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Council awaits water use study Before rate hike

Staff Writer

Town of Pecos City Council members approved ordinances setting both the budget and tax rates for the 2004-05 year on Thursday evening, during a special meeting at City Hall. But the final numbers on the budget won’t be available until a new water report is completed and made available to council members.

The council approved an 10.769-cent increase in city property taxes, to .80446 per $100 in valuations, along with a $4,831,207 budget for the upcoming year and a budget amendment transferring funds to finish out the 2003-04 budget year, which ended on Thursday.

City Finance Director Sam Contreras said a one-time transfer of $600,000 from the Pecos Criminal Justice Center’s construction fund was needed to make the new budget balance. “Even with the funds transfer we still had to make additional cuts,” he added. That included a lower projection on the city’s health insurance cost of $100,000, along with additional cuts to some department budgets

Contreras said some of the deficits that showed up in city departments in both the 2003-04 budget and in the new budget were due to depreciation of assets owned by the city, while a deficit within the water and sewer budget was due to the creation of a separate account to hold funds given to the city by Reeves County, as part of its 10-year payment on the South Worsham Water Field project.

“The water fund will be $805,265 less revenue than expendables when you net out what we transferred to the bond service fund,” said city accountant Mark Rushing.

Contreras later said the 2004-05 water department deficit is estimated at just under $1 million with the county payment separated out. “The big number is due to depreciation,” he said, adding that the new budget would be unbalanced “until we can get clarification on depreciation,” which would affect the proposed increase in city water rates.

“It’s not fair to put this before you to get an increase,” Contreras said. “We can pass a deficit budget and come back after we get a water rate study an amend it.”

“I think you can amend as necessary, but we need a budget before (passing) a tax rate, and today’s the day,” said city attorney Scott Johnson.

During a budget workshop on Sept. 27, the council gave tentative approval to a 26-cent rise in city water rates per 1000 gallons, for all water used monthly above 2000 gallons. That was based on a state water study presented to the city in 2001. The council approved the study, but after enacting the first year recommendations failed to take any action over the next three years.

Enacting Year 2’s recommendations now would rate water rates to $2.06 per 1000 gallons, but city manager Joseph Torres said, “The reason we want to delay the water (increase) is the study made in 2001 no longer applies. That study assumed a growing economy and we haven ‘t been growing, we’ve been getting smaller.”

Members of the Barstow City Council were also at the meeting. Pecos currently sells water to Barstow at a $1.53 cent rate, and local officials said that price will also have to be increased.

“Bear in mind Barstow’s residents are 80-85 percent old retired people, living on fixed incomes,” said city secretary Jo Allgood. “It would be very difficult for them to pay exceedingly high rates.:

“This particular rate study has to be equitable,” Torres said.

“This is the first year we’ve had to do this,” said councilman Frank Sanchez about the inclusion of asset depreciation in the budget.

“We had done it for the water and sewer, but we hadn’t done it for the general fund items,” said Contreras. “It makes the budget look like a huge deficit, but it’s really a non-asset item.”

The budget included depreciation of $85,000 on the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, which ran a $21,676 deficit. Contreras said the city hoped to make up the deficit through an increase in payments by the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which houses about 100 prisoners in the CJC.

“We’re going to ask for another rate increase, because a lot of things have gone up, like fuel and cafeteria,” he said. The city is also hoping to get some payments from the Marshal’s Service that cam be used towards the Pecos Police Department’s budget, based on increase security at the CJC through having it both as a prison and as the department’s headquarters.

The new tax rate is the first increase for the city in nine years, as is the maximum allowed without having a recall election. Of the 80-cent total, 53 cents will go towards the general fund and 27 cents for repaying bonds for construction projects, such as the South Worsham Field.

Along with the increase, the council also approved homestead exemptions for over 65 residents, those with medical or disability problems and for disabled veterans.

Mayor Pro-Tem Gerald Tellez, who chaired the meeting in place of Mayor Dot Stafford, said the exemption would be $15,000 for those over 65, $10,000 for those with medical or disability problems, and at a graduated rate for disabled veterans from $5,000 to $12,000, based on level of disability.

Council members also voted to approve a salary schedule for the CJC, which was in line with both U.S. Department of Labor guidelines for correctional officers working with federal inmates and with the salary scale approved on Sept. 23 by the council for the police department, which sets a base salary of $31,179 for starting officers. A secretary at the CJC will now start at $24,525 and a clerk at $22,800.

“It mirrors the other ranks on the police department side,” said Contreras. “The differences (in salaries) being longevity and the difference in years.

“The top end patrolman makes $35 (thousand), and when you go to sergeant, one level up, the salary goes up $1,500, so the people supervising will be at least $1,500 up,” he added.

Helicopter pilots pay visits to Pecos, truck stop

Staff Writer

The bad weather in the Pecos area last Thursday and Friday meant an extended stopover in the area for two California helicopter pilots who are looking to break the record for a round trip transcontinental flight across the United States.

Johan Nurmi and John Thomas left Los Angeles International Airport last Thursday on the way to Kitty Hawk, N.C., and will then return there this week. “We’re doing this flight for the Christian Foundation for Starving Children,” said Nurmi, who runs his own flight school in California.

Nurmi said their take-off from Los Angeles was covered by KABC television, and the local ABC station would also be on hand for their return to the airport. But as things turned out, the trip has not only included stops at airports like LAX and the Pecos Municipal Airport, but also a visit to the Plateau Truck Stop on Interstate 10 east of Van Horn thanks to the stormy weather that’s been in West Texas for the past 10 days.

“We were forced down about 54 miles from Pecos,” Thomas said. “We had to set down near a truck stop, which looked funny, seeking all those trucks parked and a helicopter in between them.”

“We’ve fallen a little behind schedule, but we’re looking at catching up and thinking about setting a record that’s hard to beat,” said Thomas, who added they hoped to be in Kitty Hawk, site of the first manned airplane flight, by early Saturday and headed back through Texas for California by the end of the weekend.

“Our original fight timeline was about 65-70 hours, but we’ll probably go a little over that. But we still should beat any other flight by 16-18 hours.”

The trip is designed to raise funds and promote awareness of the organization and the plight of starving children around the world. Along with clothing and food, Nurmi said, “We deliver bibles and building materials for housing projects. Of course, the parents would enjoy that, too, but it’s set up for the children.”

He said anyone wanting to make a donation could go to one of two websites - either or , which is cross-linked to the other site.

After their three-day plus trip across the United States, Thomas and Nurmi said their next plan is for a trip around the world.

“We plan to do an around-the-world flight in an R-44 (four-seat helicopter). The one we have now is a two-seater,” Thomas said. “We want to do a 16-day flight around the world.”

God’s Army organizers seek members

God’s Army goes on the march again this week, bringing elementary and junior high school-age children together near their respective schools to march, learn Bible skills, and memorize scripture.

In its third year, God’s Army has provided students the opportunity to learn how to “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph: 6:11) for daily protection and strength in their schools, community and homes.

“Children are precious in God’s sight, and we need to teach them all we can about Him while they are willing to listen,” said North Temple Baptist Church Deacon Bud Nelson, drill instructor and leader for the junior high unit, which meets on Wednesdays at 1720 Missouri St.

Nelson, an engineer and airplane builder, has adopted a curriculum that seeks to train young men and women as missionary pilots.

His Air Force training has helped Nelson teach both students and leaders how to march military style, and to obey commands that will help them as they follow God’s leadership. Freddie Barton also has military training.

Velma Bradley, House of Prayer member, utilizes her unique Bible teaching skills to explain the meaning of verses the Bessie Haynes students memorize. Her group meets on Tuesdays at 11th and Sycamore.

Joyce Morton, a retired first-grade teacher and member of West Park Baptist Church, looks forward to her first year with the younger unit at Austin Elementary. Their curriculum covers both old and new testaments, teaching key verses and their application. Their meetings are on Thursday at the Morton home, 2004 Hackberry St.

God’s Army grew out of a concern by members of the unity prayer group that meets each Tuesday night (currently at North Temple Baptist Church). Christina Sonnen voiced the need for a ministry to children, and others took up the challenge.

“Leaders come from different churches, and we teach children the Bible without any denominational slant,” said Ramon Natividad, a member of Primera Iglesia Bautista. “They learn how to receive Jesus as savior, how to tell others about Him, and how to follow in His footsteps.”

Cook-off awash in survivors after rain, hailstorms

Staff Writer

Despite heavy rains and hail, dedicated cooks prevailed and hung on to the very end at the Annual Barbecue Cook-off, held this weekend at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Arena.

Co-chair for the event, Cody West thanked all the participants and especially those who stayed at the campsites throughout the night despite the rain and hail that fell that night and the next morning.

The strongest storms occurred between 1 and 2 a.m. Camps were literally destroyed by the heavy winds and rain at the cook-off site, but those on hand braved the wind and the chill, to see who would come out on top the next morning.

“I want to thank everyone who was out here last night and is still here with us this morning,” said West. “We really appreciate it,” he said.

KIUN Radio reported about 1 1/2 inches of rain downtown overnight, while the official National Weather Service reporting station at Pecos Municipal Airport recorded half of that amount during the early morning hours on Saturday.

West and the organizers for the event decided to give out a “Worst Camp Award” following the disastrous night.

“Just to give thanks to everyone, we came up with this new award, for the camp that was destroyed the worst last night,” he said.

The Worst Camp Award went to the GEO Group, with head cook Noel Ybarra. Other awards were handed out Saturday afternoon, including the Best Camp Award and first through fourth places in the ribs category and the barbecue brisket category.

Grand Champions for the entire event were the Three Amigos, with Mike Garcia, as head cook. Fred Orona, Randy and Gary Rambaugh were also a part of that team.

Best Camp went to Da Boyz, with Ricky Barreno, head cook and his “Boyz”, Freddy Contreras, Pony Palomino and Peter Dominguez.

Barreno and his group also took first place in the ribs category.

Second place went out to the Three Amigos, including Mike Garcia, Fred Orona, Randy and Gary Rambaugh.

Third place in the ribs category, went out to the “Boyz.” The group, who had two campsites, entered two separate entries and both were winners.

Fourth place in the ribs category, was “The Regulators,” composed of a group from Wink and Jal. Xavier Martinez, Ramon Barrera, Gilbert Martinez, Uriel Barrera and Daniel Gonzales made their way from out of town to participate in this year’s event and took home a prize.

First place in the barbecue brisket category went out to the Ramos Barbecue consisting of chefs, Pete Ramos, Pete Ramos, Jr., Ray and Phillip Ramos and Alvin Rodriguez.

Second place brisket winners were, “Get ‘er Done” with Ernest and Ronnie and Chris Matta and Rudy Carrasco.

Third place brisket winners included the Ramos Barbecue gang and fourth place went out to the Three Amigos.

Rains, which began in the Pecos area back on Sept. 25, already had made the Reeves County Sheriff’s Posse Arena muddy before the first camps were set up. Work crews cleared mud and water out of the area prior to the start of the cook-off, but the storms on Saturday left as much as three inches of water on the ground around the campsites at one point.

Showers in the area continued in the early morning hours of both Sunday and Monday, and the rainfall totals for the Pecos area this year now stands at around 18 inches, seven inches more than the average annual rainfall total and just 4 1/2 inches below the all-time annual record for the city, of 22.55 inches, set in 1986.

Fair officials say turnout good for indoor events

Staff Writer

The 2004 Reeves County Fall Fair was a huge success, officials said, despite the rain and cold weather that hit the area this past weekend.

Winners were rewarded for their efforts and ribbons handed out Friday, while the winners of the Fall Fair Livestock Show were given their awards following judging on Saturday morning.

The indoor events attracted a larger turnout than the stock show, which was not a showmanship lamb sweepstakes event as in the past two years, and as a result, drew fewer entries from outside the area. Show organizers said other shows in Sonora and Lubbock may have attracted some of the competitors this time around.

In the judging done on events inside the Reeves County Civic Center, in the Quilting Category, small quilts, first and second places went to Ellen Friar and third place to Kathy Paschal.

Large Quilts: machine-pieced, machine-quilted: first and second places, Ellen Friar and third place, Elisa Mendoza.

Lone Stars: first place, Ellen Friar, second Debra Bean and third place Barbara Creager. Appliqued, hand-quilted: first and second places, Kathy Paschal, third place, Bessie Osborn.

Machine-pieced, hand tied: first and second places, Laura Teal and third place, Doris Tillery.

Machine-pieced, hand-quilted: first place, Lynn Fowler; second, Kathy Paschal and third place, Ava Gerke.

Pies: first and second places, Calvin Howard and third place, Barbara Creager. Cakes: first, Elfida Howard; second, Roy Prewit and third Cathy Teague.

Cheesecakes: first, Barbara Creager; second, Christie Blake and third, Karen Hornberger. Trifles: first, Roy Prewit and second, Barbara Creager.

Cookies: first place, Jody Williamson; second, Barbara Creager and third place, Doris Tillery.

Brownies: first, David Teal; second, Christie Blake and third, Barbara Creager. Candy: first, Roy Prewit and second Karen Hornberger.

Breads: first and second places, Barbara Creager and third place, Alicia Dominguez. Miscellaneous: first place Venetta Seals; second Karen Hornberger and third place, Terri Spence.

Youth: first, Kelly Lease; second, Harlee Lozano and third, Chris Lease. Best of Show: Roy Prewit.

Children’s Bird Houses: first place, Kristian Rodriguez; second, Zena Jimenez and third, Niferi Jimenez.

Medium Wooden: first, Angela Lopez; second, Chris Lease and third, John Zuniga. Small Mixed Media: first, Kristen Garay; second, Augustina Renteria and third, Phillip Workman.

Medium Mixed Media: first, Amber Sanchez; second Lexus Brown and third, Kimberly Arenivas.

Large Mixed Media: first, Edwin Garcia; second, Anyssa Carrasco and third, John Rodriguez.

Large Cardboard: first, Amber Burleson; second, Kiyanna Hightower and third, Bianca Orona.

Arts and Crafts:

Cross Stitch: first and second places Laura Teal.

Framed Cross Stitch: first, second and third Vera Sellers.

Framed Figure Cross Stitch: first, Phyllis Brisby.

Cross Stitch Towel: first, Melissa Contreras.

Cross Stitch Tablecloth: first, Fran Meek.

Plastic Canvas Tissue Covers, first through third place, Teresa Winkles.

Plastic Canvas Trinket Box: first and second places, Teresa Winkles.

Knitting: first, Dorothy Adkins.

Needlepoint: first and second place, Karen Hornberger.

Embroidery: first place, Rosemary Varela and second, Colleen Paschal.

Applique Xmas Stockings: first through third places: Karen Hornberger.

Sewing- Aprons:

First through third places, Connie Burchard.

Sewing - Wall Hangings:

First place: Olga Urias.

Miscellaneous - Various Items:

First place, Ella Sue Johnson; second, Laura Teal;

First place, Aggie Gabaldon;

First place and second places: Ellen Kimble and first place, Aggie Gabaldon.

In the livestock show, Grand and Reserve Champion Steers were shown by Jeremy Harrison of Wink. In the heifer division, the Grand Champion award went to Lura Ann Hayes of Kermit, and Reserve Champion to Zack Morton of Barstow.

The Grand Champion Lamb award was won by Houston Dobbins of Comstock, who also took Breed Champion in fine Wools and Reserve Breed Champion for the Cross Class. Breed Champion for both Southdown and Medium Wool Lamb was Jessica Vick of Alpine. Tyler Vick was Reserve Champion for Southdown, and Kersten Criddle of Kermit won Reserve Champion for her Medium Wool lamb.

Board OKs budget, approves tax rate for ‘04-05

Staff Writer

Reeves County Hospital District Board members set the tax rate and adopted the budget during their regular board meeting held Thursday evening.

The group, however, have not found a replacement for Precinct 3 board member bill Wendt, who died in August.

Board members set the tax rate at .35855 cents per $100 in valuations. The total is down three cents from last year, but will still bring in more revenue to the hospital, due to a $75 million increase in valuations during the past year.

“That’s what had been proposed,” said board president Linda Gholson. The valuation rise is due to increases in oil and natural gas prices.

The board also approved the exemptions, the same exemptions as in the past. The exemptions are up to $15,000 for senior citizens over 65; up to $12,000 for disabled veterans, based on verifiable criteria and up to $10,00 for medically disabled.

Board members also approved the sale of four pieces of property and those will be presented to the other entities.

The group went into executive session and then returned to open session.

In open session they agreed to give directive to administration to negotiate a contract with Alexander Kovach, the radiologist.

Several members of the Reeves County Hospital Auxiliary and RCH Public Information Officer Venetta Seals attended a district meeting recently.

Leroy’s owners blame closing on economic problems

Staff Writer

One of the community’s favorite eating places closed forever on Saturday, after nearly 20 years of operation.

“It’s really sad, but I just feel it’s something that I have to do,” said Laura Esteve, owner of Leroy’s Restaurant , located at 900 W. Third St.

Leroy’s offered a little bit of everything, but was most popular for it’s barbecue, potato soup and rib’s special, was forced to close due to the overall economic problems in Pecos.

Esteve said that the economy has just been really bad, rising prices and cost of electricity, she just felt they couldn’t keep it open any longer.

Esteve moved to Pecos in February of 1979, while her husband Herbert, or “Steve” as he is known to everyone, moved to Pecos in the 1960’s from Houston.

“I used to work at Duval and before that I had the Second Street Bar, with my husband,” said Esteve. “We worked at that for three years.”

She was not new to the restaurant business when Leroy’s opened in 1986. She also owned a little restaurant in Christoval, where she lived before moving to Pecos.

“The café in Christoval was a like the Dairy Mart here, basket food and we mostly had teenagers during the day and coffee drinkers at night,” said Esteve.

She said that that restaurant was open from 6 a.m. until midnight. “I worked there for 18 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Esteve. “We opened at 6 a.m., but after a while I was really tired.”

“I got down to 104 pounds, where I never had time to sit still, I was always working,” she said.

Esteve said that she has really enjoyed Pecos and the community. “We’ve been here for 19 years and I’m really sad to have to close,” she said. “This building belongs to Bruce Grady and I don’t know what he’s going to do with it,” she said.

“It’s sad, everybody just hates it, but I can’t help it,” said Esteve. “It will never be the same, everybody tells me this place is just like home.”

Esteve said she and her family plan to stay in Pecos. The family consists also of a grandson, Steven Burl Grayson, a Pecos High School senior who she has been raising since he was 18-months old and her son, Steven Grayson.

“I’ve had this restaurant since he was a baby and now he’s a senior, so he grew up with this restaurant. We’ve been here about all his life,” she said.

Esteve said that she appreciated the community and all the support she has received over the many years. “I just want to thank everyone, I appreciate everyone in Pecos and the surrounding communities,” she said.

Esteve said that now her employees will be looking for a position elsewhere.

“It just makes me so sad, but with the economy so bad and everything so high, it’s just something that needs to be done,” said Esteve.

TransPecos Foods celebrates 2nd anniversary

Staff Writer

Thanks to all the employees for their hard work and dedication to the company were handed out last Wednesday at the TransPecos Foods facility.

TransPecos Foods celebrated their second anniversary with a luncheon held inside the facility for all the employees. The company was launched using the facilities left vacant in 2002 when McCain Foods shut down its recently-purchased Anchor Foods plant in Pecos, a shutdown that cost the city 700 jobs.

Patrick J. Kennedy, Jr., chairman of the board and chief executive officer spoke to the employees and staff at the plant.

Kennedy made his speech in Spanish, thanking all the staff for their hard work and dedication to the facility. “It’s thanks to all of you that this facility is so successful,” said Kennedy, who took the initiative to reopen the plant with the financial assistance of TransPecos Banks and a group of local investors.

TransPecos Foods reopened three months after Anchor’s final shutdown with just seven supervisory employees. Now, there are over 200 area residents working three shifts, which again makes the plant one of t he largest employers in Reeves County.

“We are continually trying to improve our processes, we have had some meetings and talked about ideas that will help us improve,” said Kennedy. “We hope to bring in new equipment to produce faster and lower costs and produce costs.”

“As soon as we get the new equipment we’ll know more about adding to our employee list,” said Kennedy.

In the TransPecos region, local restaurants and institutional food buyers may obtain TransPecos foods products from Midland based Phoenix foods, an area food distribution company and Zanio’s foods with offices in Albuquerque, N.M., El Paso and Lubbock. “We have confidentiality contracts with all our customers,” said Kennedy.

TransPecos Foods manufactures and markets nationally a high quality line of onion rings, breaded vegetables, cheese and pepper appetizers. It’s onion rings may be found in virtually every Dairy Queen in Texas and a number of other restaurant companies operating across the southwestern United States.

The group enjoyed a barbecue luncheon and several giveaways were held following the luncheon.

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