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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Four arrested in connection with Friday burglary

Four young people were arrested Friday and charged with burglary after officers stopped the vehicle they were in.

On Friday, Oct. 12, at 2:20 a.m., Pecos Police Officers observed a vehicle driving without headlights and upon pulling the vehicle over, determined that they had been involved in a burglary.

The Pecos Police Department had received an alarm activation earlier and the officers were responding to the scene, when they came upon the vehicle.

Pecos Police Officers were responding to the Kwik Stop Store at 915 W. 3rd and upon arriving in the area, they observed the vehicle driving without headlights.

Arrested in the incident were: Michele Montoya, 21; Abran Sandoval, 17; Aaron Hernandez, 17 and Patricio Barrera, 18.

All four were transported to the Criminal Justice Center and once at the jail, Barrera was also served with a warrant for the offense of assault causing bodily injury, a Class A Misdemeanor, issued by Municipal Court Judge Amonario Ramon.

Pecos man in jail on cocaine charge

A Pecos man was arrested on drug charges, following a narcotics search warrant that was executed at his home last Monday.

On Oct. 8, at 5:27 p.m., officers from the Pecos Police Department and the 143rd District Attorney’s Office executed a narcotics search warrant at 2002 West Fourth Street.

“During the search of the residence, a substance believed to be cocaine was located inside the residence,” said Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler.

Officers also located on the premises materials, which are commonly used with the packaging of cocaine, according to Deishler.

After officers completed their search, Manuel Navarette Rayos, 38, was placed under arrest for the offense of possession of a controlled substance, a third degree felony.

Rayos was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center and released to the jail staff for booking.

Local Christmas elves plan BBQ fundraiser

A barbecue fundraising luncheon is scheduled Friday to help raise money for the Annual Christmas For Kids foundation, and the group will also begin taking applications for gift recipients starting next week. The elves are already getting ready for the Christmas holiday, and applications to be recipients of the special toys and items provided by the volunteers will be available beginning next Friday, Oct. 19, and running through Nov. 16. Applications can be picked up at the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

In conjunction the group is holding a fundraising barbecue luncheon this Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Plates will be $5 and all funds will go towards the program.

To order call 445-3400 on Friday or the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department before Friday, at 445-4901. The group is comprised of volunteers who raise funds to provide the essentials for children in the community, who would otherwise lose out on having a Merry Christmas.

“Our main goal is to provide a happy Christmas for as many children in the community as we can,” said Baeza. “We don’t just provide toys, but the essentials, such as coats and shoes.”

Sales tax numbers double, but still trail area

Sales tax collections for the Town of Pecos City in August were almost double the total from a year ago, based on checks sent out last Wednesday from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office.

October sales tax numbers were posted by the comptroller’s office on Wednesday, and Pecos’ 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax, based on sales made during August, came to $163,015. That’s 93.92 percent above last year’s total of 84,059, and brought the city’s tax rebates for the year to $1,233,082, a 50.46 percent jump from last year’s 10-month total of $819,517.

Combs’ office did note a change in the tax rate for the city in the past year, but the notation was due to the conversion of the Pecos Economic Development Corp. from a 4A to a 4B corporation. The 4B corporation took effect this month, and will receive one-sixth of the city’s 1 1/2-cent sales tax. For October, that total came to $27,169.

Pecos’ 50 percent increase from last year is the smallest of the county’s three cities that collect 1 1/2-cent sales tax. Balmorhea’s check this month for $3,187 was up 36.71 percent from last year’s $2,331, and for the year the city has gotten $26,999 back from Austin a 66.61 percent rise from their $16,205 total in 2006. Toyah’s $2,076 check this month was 539.63 percent higher than last October’s $325 total, and the city’s 10-month total of $8,626 is up by 109.25 percent from last year’s $4,122 in rebates.

The Reeves County Hospital District’s 1/2-cent sales tax brought the hospital $93,498 this month, a 163.78 percent rise from last year’s $35,444. Overall for 2007, the hospital has gotten $650,826 from the comptroller’s office, a 65.37 percent rise from last year’s $393,546.

The continued energy drilling activity in the Pecos area has led to the sharp increases in sales tax rebates for the past three years, and are also reflected in the numbers for most Permian Basin cities.

Midland’s $2.72 million rebate check for October on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax was again the single largest for the region, and was 20.76 percent higher than a year ago. The totals were almost identical to September’s figures Overall, Midland has seen a 14.37 percent rise in its rebate checks in 2007. Odessa’s 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $1.8 million in rebates this month, an 18 percent rise from last October, which also mirrored their totals for the previous month. Overall, Odessa’s tax rebate checks are up by 13.29 percent in 2007.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received an $84,687 check, which was up 16.33 percent. Crane received a check for $51,994, a 23.75 percent increase from last year; Lamesa got an $86,248 check back this month, which was up 21.12 percent; while Seminole received a check for $93,221, which was up 32.66 percent.

Among cities collecting a one-cent sales tax Kermit received $70,100 in their October check, up 72.88 percent; Wickett received a $17,034 check, up 119.99 percent, Wink received a check for $7,813, down 14.2 percent, while Pyote, received a $2,143 check this month, after getting no sales tax rebate check last October.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $267,641, a 1.17 percent increase. Marfa got a check for $16,147, which was down 8.84 percent; while Van Horn got a check for $33,736, which was up 13.64 percent from last year.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $408,472, an increase of 6.75 percent; Fort Stockton received $191,629, up 37.76 percent; Monahans received a check for $110,382, which was up 2.53 percent from last September; Grandfalls got a $2,159 check, up 37.81 percent; and Presidio received $27,680, down 2.81 percent.

Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $301 million, up 6.42 percent from the $277.6 million sent out last year. Houston’s check of $37 million was up 1.96 percent from last September. Dallas’ check was next, at $16.5 million, which was down 2.73 percent from their rebate check a year ago.

City facing major spike in water use

The Town of Pecos City went from worrying about not enough water use by local customers a month ago to worrying about too much use of water on Monday morning, during a special meeting of the council at City Hall.

Council members, who were concerned last month that rainy weather this year lowered water use by customers and cut back on the city’s income from water and sewer rate fees, leading to freezes on department budgets and salaries for the 2008 fiscal year, were presented with the problem on Monday of too much water use by commercial customers that could cause early depletion of the city’s existing water fields.

As a result, the council approved the first reading of a new ordinance designed to better monitor large commercial water users, while setting a higher rate for that use, and to put maximum allotments on the use if studies show the fields are being depleted before their projected 40-year lifespan.

“We had a request for additional 4-inch taps to the city water line,” said mayor Dick Alligood, noting the plans by Roy Lindsey for a water station on the west side of Pecos for trucks going out to drilling sites in the area, and another company seeking a similar project that would involve 52 water trucks with 500 barrel capacities filling up in Pecos twice a month.

Alligood said if the new projects are completed, “That’s 8 million gallons off the field we hadn’t anticipated … We need something to protect the water field.”

He said two local businesses that are bulk water users, M&W Hot Oil, Inc. and Water Works, have been informed about the change. Alligood added that until now, the city had not been keeping close tabs on the high-volume water use.

But public works director Edgardo Madrid presented the council with a water use estimate sheet. It showed that while water use dropped from 925.2 million to 843.4 million gallons from the 2006 to 2007 fiscal year, water usage is projected to hit 985.3 million gallons in the 2008 fiscal year, with 10 percent of that industrial use, and jump again in the 2009 fiscal year to 1.03 billion gallons, with 15 percent of that industrial use.

The changes approved to the city’s 1967 water use ordinance included increasing the water rate for high volume uses to the well rate, currently at $11.03 per 1,000 gallons, and that anyone wanting to re-sell city water will have to get a permit to do so from City Hall. Funds from the new rates would go into an escrow account to pay for future water development.

The city paid $8 million in 2001 for the development of the South Worsham Water Field. Reeves County is currently repaying the Texas Water Development Board 20-year loan on that, at a rate of over $400,000 per year, under an agreement by the city to provide water to the Reeves County Detention Center. The city will assume payment in 2011, when current water rates will increase about 20 percent.

Madrid said the city may also bring in a hydrologist in six months to study the current water usage rates and decide if limits need to be put on well users.

“Can we go back and limit the amount a customer can use?” asked councilman Frank Sanchez.

“You grant the permit, but the permit can always be resinded,” said city attorney Scott Johnson.

“As long as we’re protected. My main concern is the water field,” Sanchez said.

“The main thing is we don’t have city rate payers subsidizing those outside water users,” Alligood said.

Salt and cedar eradication top Red Buff discussions

There weren’t enough members at last week’s Red Bluff Water Power Control District Board meeting for a quorum, but those at the district’s office in Pecos were given an update on a state assessment of the Pecos River Basin by officials with Texas A&M University and the Texas Cooperative Extension Service.

Lucas Gregory, manager for the Pecos River Basin Assessment Project, and Will Hatler, project coordinator, talked for about 30 minutes with board members on Oct. 8 about their just-completed study of the river’s status and possible solutions for its major problems, which also affect Aimstad Lake and the Rio Grande south of Del Rio.

The problems include excessive salt content in the Pecos, both from sources in New Mexico and in Texas; removal of salt cedar trees and prevention of erosion following their removal, and increasing the flow of the Pecos north of Independence Creek in Terrell County. Hatler also talked about funds available through the Enviromental Protection Agency for projects related to solving those problems.

“The EPA gives $1.5 million to the state (water control) board. The board decides how to allot this money, and we work up a proposal to the board on what folks want to do,” Halter said. He added that the funds would cover 60 percent of any project, with a 40 percent match, and would be handled through the Upper Pecos Soil and Water Conservation District.

In-kind work could qualify as part of the 40 percent local match, according to Halter. He said that could involve use of bulldozers for clearing salt cedar trees along the Pecos in preparation for burning.

Gregory and Halter also gave the board a 79-page report on the Pecos River Watershed and the possible management plans. But they told board members any action would be voluntary on the part of area landowners, and the report did note concerns by area farmers and ranchers about any projects that would increase outside control of water usage within the Pecos River Basin.

The Pecos River project would compete with other water projects across Texas for the EPA funds. “We haven’t seen the money yet, but it’s supposed to be on its way as soon as we get the first proposal written up,” Gregory said.

Halter told Red Bluff managing director Randal Hartman that while the funds are not guaranteed every year, the water control board has been getting federal funds for the past 13 years.

He also said the Extension Service planned to have a Pecos River Watershed Coordinator based in Fort Stockton beginning sometime in 2008. Gregory will handle the project until then from his office at Texas A&M.

“I’ll run the deal for now, but it’s not feasible to run the deal from College Station,” he said.

Halter said Texas A&M researchers in El Paso did most of the work on the study, and that some of the salt alleviation solutions would require cooperation with the State of New Mexico.

The report showed most of the salt in the Pecos comes from areas near Roswell, Artesia and south of Carlsbad, where Red Bluff has been working over the years to pump salt water from an underground stream away from the river and into ponds for evaporation. Other salt enters the Pecos between Coyanosa and Girvin, with the highest salt content in the river found near Girvin, at the south end of Red Bluff’s operational area.

The report said the exact source of that salt was unknown, but could be from underground water leaving the river north of Pecos and reentering southeast of Coyanosa.

EMS to continue to run outside city limits thanks to County money

Reeves County will being paying part of the costs of subsidizing the Pecos EMS service, and the county will work with the Town of Pecos City in studying the possible consolidation of local EMS services, following a discussion Thursday night by the City Council, as part of their regular meeting.

The county will join Reeves County Hospital in contributing $70,000 towards EMS operations, and the council voted to continue EMS runs outside the city limits. City officials will also look at the possibility of changing the Pecos EMS from a volunteer to a paid service, in hopes of attracting more people to the dwindling ambulance service staff.

“Our goal is to have enough individuals to cover the additional runs they’ve had the last 2-3 years,” said Pecos City Manager Joseph Torres during the discussion on whether or not to continue ambulance service outside the city, which Pecos EMS Chief Dennis Thorp said accounts for 42 percent of local ambulance calls.

Torres said the annual costs of the EMS right now come to $440,000, of which $370,000 comes from the city, and from collection of bills by the EMS. Reeves County Hospital pays $70,000, while an additional $5,000 comes from Ward County, for Pecos EMS runs covering the Barstow area.

Reeves County has not subsidized ambulance service since 1988, when the hospital was spun off from county control into its own taxing district. “We’ve approached the county to see if they would contribute as much as the hospital,” Torres said. “We did ask the judge (Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras) to budget some funds for the ambulance service.”

“We had our budget meeting, and we did budget $70,000,” Contreras told the council. He said because the county’s budget year doesn’t begin until January, the funding wouldn’t be available until then.

“We’d also like to see an interlocal agreement before we start funding,” Contreras said. Mayor Dick Alligood said the city would be sending an agreement to commissioners within a couple of weeks.

Torres said the city is also looking at a proposal by Thorp to work with the county and hospital on a combined service, which would take over the out-of-town transfer service the hospital district current funds.

“What Dennis has proposed, if we get some funding from all three entities and get the transfer service, we can make these full-time jobs,” Torres said. “If we do go to a full-time service, we want to make sure full-time revenue streams are there.”

He said the city would have to look at a number of cost factors, including the purchase of additional EMS equipment, benefit packages and infrastructure, before deciding whether or not a full-time paid service would be viable.

“We have some preliminary numbers that it would double the cost of the current service,” Torres said.

He said that collections are up in the past year to 42 percent of billings, under the new InterMedics collection service, while Thorp said revenues have doubled, due to higher billing rates for out of town runs, which have boosted the EMS revenues from $183 to $454 per transfer.

Council members also asked Thorp and Contreras about merging with Balmorhea EMS, which covers the southern part of Reeves County.

“Balmorhea EMS is working with a six month variance to operate with only one (certified) person,” Thorp said. “It runs out in December and they can get another variance, but that can only go for so long.

“Balmorhea is in operation more now that in the past 2-3 years because of that variance, but something still needs to be done,” he told the council.

“We have to do a meeting with the ambulance service and see how realistic it is to move over there, because it is 40 miles away,” Contreras said.

Police Report

Sonia Monique Miles, 32, and Virgil Lee Miles, 68, both of 800 E. 12th St., were arrested by police on Sept. 27 on warrants charging them with cruelty to non-livestock animal. Police said the arrest was made at the Miles’ home, and they were transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Ashley Nicole Martinez, 23m 811 E. Fifth St., was arrested on Oct. 4 on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at her home, and she was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Oscar Florez Hernandez, 53, and Blanca Estrella Porras, 52, both of 612 W. Seventh St., were arrested by police on Oct. 6 on changes of assault causing bodily injury, under the Family Violence Act.. Porras was also charged with resisting arrest following an incident at their home. Both Hernandez and Porras were then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Gilbert Ray Fuentes, 28, 923 S. Palm St., was arrested by police on Oct. 6 on charges of public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor, and resisting arrest, search or transportation, a Class A misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at the Suavacito Club, 902 S. Cedar St., and Fuentes was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Iran Calderon Estrada, 18, 801 S. Oleander St., was arrested by police on Oct. 6 and charged with possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 and evading arrest or detention, a Class B misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made in the 800 block of West Walthall Street, and Estrada was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Arturo Garcia Hernandez, 25, of Midland, was arrested by police on Oct. 6 and charged with public intoxication, and evading arrest or detention. Police said the arrest took place near the Fall Fair barbeque cook-off, and Hernandez was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Yvette Diane Gomez, 24, and Jessica Maryann Pena, 25, both of 623 S. Ash St., were arrested by police on Sept. 25 on charges of assault, a Class A misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at their home, and they were transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Samantha Mendoza, 28, 312 S. Orange St., was arrested by police on Sept. 25 on a charge of possession on a controlled substance (heroin) under one ounce. Police said the arrest was made at the Family Dollar store, 1002 S. Eddy St., and Mendoza was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Ernesto Salvador Perea, 39, 1116 W. Fifth St. was arrested by police on Sept. 26 on a warrant out of Winkler County for theft of over $20 and under $200. He was also charged with failure to signal to change lanes after his 1996 GMC Jimmy was stopped in the Wal-Mart parking lot, 1901 S. Cedar St., at 7:36 p.m. following the traffic violation. Perea was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Cynthia Jasso Perea, 38, 2006 Wyoming St., was arrested by police on Sept. 26 on a warrant out of Midland County charging her with bond forfeiture on an original charge of failure to identify as fugitive/give false information. Police said the arrest was made at Perea’s home, and she was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Erek Randall Brown, 27, 411 Sycamore St., was arrested by police on Sept. 28 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest was made at 602 S. Orange St., and Brown was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Santiago Gonzales Juarez, 44, of Barstow, was arrested by police on Sept. 30 on charges of driving while intoxicated, a Class B misdemeanor, and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) under one ounce, a State Jail Felony. Police said the arrest was made following a traffic stop at Cedar and ‘B’ streets, and Juarez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Geronimo J. Menchaca, 64, 618 N. Sycamore St., was arrested by police on Oct. 2 on a charge of public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 1:50 a.m. at 600 E. Second St., and Menchaca was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Ignacio Vega Suarez, 65, 517 S. Alberta St., was arrested by police on Oct. 2 on a charge of public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor. Police said the arrest was made at La Tienda Thriftway, 810 S. Eddy St., and Suarez was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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