Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Ministry helps children for Chirstmas
The We Care Ministry of Mentone is providing Christmas gifts and other items to 3,000 children in the Permian Basin, surrounding areas and even overseas through cooperation with other local churches, and will also sponsor a float for disabled children in this Friday’s Pecos Christmas Parade.
Marcie Martinez said the group is helping children in Ward, Reeves, Loving and Winkler counties, along with a family shelter in Odessa, and others in Mexico, New Mexico and overseas. She said the group has received donations from groups like the Pecos Valley Women’s Mission Union, the First Baptist Church and the Belleview Baptist Church in Winkler County.
“We do other things because the Christmas program. We also do the elderly meals program, and help people who have lost their homes in tornadoes or who have been displaced,” Martinez said. “We do that stuff year-round.”
Martinez said the We Care Ministry will have a float in Friday’s parade for special needs children. The float will be designed for the disabled so that children who have special needs can ride in the parade.
She said any families wanting to participate on the float, or who wish to help out with the Christmas toy and gift donation program can call her at 448-7229.
Firm planning new rail yard seeks utilities
Town of Pecos City is looking at a request to annex property 2 1/2 miles west of town for a proposed new freight rail yard that could eventually employ several hundred people. But the city will have to find a way to get water and sewer services to the site before any action can be taken.
Council members discussed the annexation on Thursday, during their regular meeting at City Hall. The discussion came at the request of Fort Worth-based Texsand Distributors, which City Manager Joseph Torres said seeking the yard.
Texsand provides resin-coated sand for use in oil and natural gas drilling operations, and would store the sand at the intermodal rail yard for transfer to drilling operations in the region. The company already operates a four-spur rail facility near Union Pacific’s Fort Worth rail yard that the company says can off-load up to 50 cars per day and loads one truck every five minutes.
Montane Logistics is the company that would actually construct the transfer yard for Union Pacific trains to unload equipment in the Trans-Pecos area, Torres said. The city was just recently able to get UP to agree to off-load rail cars in the Pecos area for drilling-related businesses. Companies in the past had to off-load materials 140 miles away in Big Spring and then truck them into the area.
The proposed rail yard site is located near the Locker Road overpass on Interstate 20, about 2 1/2 miles west of the current city limits. City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid said, “At this time, with the (water) pressure we have, we cannot provide services at that distance.”
Madrid said he did not know if the annexation was feasible, but said Texsand and Montane could seek a Texas Capital Fund grant, which would pay for the extension of city lines and assure water pressure to reach the site.
“I think there are two things; if there’s no or minimal cost to the city, and if we can provide services,” City Attorney Scott Johnson said. “Time-wise, we’re looking at six months to a year to get the Texas Capital Fund loans and grants together. The city has encouraged commercial development in the area, and we have to do everything we can at limited expense to the taxpayer.
Annexation 2 1/2 miles out would require the city to annex at least one narrow strip of land between the site and the current city limits, just to the west of State Highway 17. Torres said the city could provide the services without annexation, if a deal could be negotiated.
“The main thing is not to delay their operation,” he said.
Torres told the council the yard would be similar to the old Pennzoil rail intermodal yard, and is being done in collaboration with energy industry companies, and Texsand has already purchased land at the site.
“You’re talking about a huge rail yard facility,” he said. “They’re looking at making a huge capital investment.”
Torres said the company said the facility could eventually employ as many as 300 people.
“When you’re looking at rail, clearly you’re looking at a very high-ticket operation,” he said.
City asked to back tax help, energy saving plans
Town of Pecos City Council members got a visit from the IRS on Thursday, at the request of one of their fellow council members. But the visit itself involved a request by the agency for the city to participate in a federal program designed to increase public awareness of available benefits on 1040 tax forms and to increase the number of free tax preparers in the area.
The council heard a presentation from Fred Macha of the Internal Revenue Service’s Midland office. Macha and Charles Taylor were asked by councilwoman Angelica Valenzuela to talk to the council about the two programs, along with an effort to improve asset building among low-income families.
“They don’t know about tax benefits that exist,” Macha said, which include the earned income tax credit, and child tax credit. He told the council about 20 percent of the 1,500 income tax fliers in Pecos are not taking advantage of the programs, which could provide each family with up to $4,700 in tax relief each year.
“The earned income tax credit is the biggest cash outlay the federal government puts on the table to help people work their way out of poverty,” he said. The EITC is designed to relieve the tax burden on lower-income families, so that federal income tax doesn’t reduce the net salary below the level of government benefits.
“It makes work more attractive than welfare,” he said.
The tax preparation plan would train local volunteers to use tax preparation software to offer free tax return help locally. Macha said the program is already being tried out by the Community Council of Reeves County, but only a limited number of people qualify for that program.
He said the program would involve 16-20 hours of training in preparing taxes and filing them on-line, which Macha said reduces the paperwork the IRS has to handle.
Macha asked the city to draw up a proclamation in support of the program. It was one of two sought by government agencies during Thursday’s meeting, with the other coming from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for the Energy Star program.
Pecos Mayor Dick Alligood said HUD was asking the city to urge residents to change at least one light in their house over from standard to the new fluorescent light bulbs, in order to cut down on electricity usage.
In other action, the council was given an update on the city’s bed tax fund usage, and agreed to donate $2,500 to the Meals on Wheels program
Council members discussed possible changes in bed tax allocations earlier in November, due to higher receipts from area hotels and motels. The funds currently are divided evenly between the Pecos Chamber of Commerce, West of the Pecos Museum, the Chamber’s advertising committee and the Pecos Main Street Program.
Bill Oglesby with the advertising committee said the groups met prior to Thanksgiving to discuss the funds. “I think basically, we’re looking at leaving everything at 25 percent,” he said, with any increased spending over the current budget levels to be reported to the council.
Torres said there should be a mechanism to keep track of the additional bed tax funds and to pool funds on joint projects. Oglesby said the four groups should have their budget plans for 2008 set by the council’s next meeting
“We want to be able to come before the council and say this is what we want to spend the excess cash on,” he said.
Alligood said the Meals on Wheels donation was a yearly action.
“The city has made donations annually to the Meals on Wheels program, and they sent us a letter asking if it was possible, can we do this again this year,” Alligood said. City manager Joseph Torres recommended the $2,500 amount, and said the city usually had given Meals on Wheels between $2,000 and $2,500.
The council also agreed to hold a hearing on the state’s new Goods in Transit law, which allows taxing entities to place taxes on items being moved through their jurisdictions. The hearing was set for Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, as part of a special meeting, which includes the sale of two properties, one along Interstate 20, and the abandonment of a section of Starley Drive that already has been incorporated into the Reeves County Golf Course. The city would turn the land over to Reeves County, which in turn is looking to sell off the land along Interstate 20 for commercial development.
New facility seen as fix for shelter’s problems
Town of Pecos City is working on plans to construct a new animal control shelter on the southwest side of town, after the current Walthall Street facility was partially shut down by a state inspector.
State inspector Kathy Parker cited the shelter for a number of violations during her July 26 inspection, including poor disposal facilities, a lack of refrigeration for perishables, poor ventilation and inadequate enclosures in need of repair. However, Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said the shelter has been allowed to remain open for some animals.
“What she closed down was our quarantine area. Dr. (veterinarian Ronald) Box has been keeping our quarantined animals.”
“Basically what she said was it can be used, but she’s going to come back and review it,” said Town of Pecos City Mayor Dick Alligood. “It’s not condemned, but she might as well have wrote it that way.”
The problems came as no surprise to one Pecos pet lover, who is also a member of the city’s new Animal Control Advisory Committee, which is trying to fix the problems with the shelter.
Ruth Luster said that she had complained about the city pound for some time now, with no results.
“The reasons that they gave for closing it down, was that it is too close to city water facility, well it has always been,” said Luster. “They said that there are no restrooms, no public facilities, well it’s been that way all this time.”
Luster said that the quarantine means all dog bites will have to be referred to the local veterinarian. “Dr. Box will then have to quarantine them for 10 days,” she said.
Alligood said the committee met last Wednesday and will hold another meeting in the near future to discuss the problem, along with the plans for a new facility that will meet state standards.
“The City Council approved in the budget for 2007-08 to build a new animal shelter and relocated it,” he said, adding that the plans are to locate the new facility behind the Pecos Criminal Justice Center on Raul Florez Boulevard.
“The council right now is looking at samples of animal control shelters to get ours under construction,” he said.
Luster said that right now, there is no place to take the unwanted pets, and that they will have to be euthanized. “They do that anyway, if they can’t find a home for them, but this way it will have to be done right away,” she said.
Luster said that the city pound doesn’t have cold water, only hot and that is what is given to the pets that are taken there.
“They hose the place down every day and it stays wet from one day to the next,” said Luster. “They don’t have bedding for the pets, they just sleep wherever, it’s really pathetic,” she said.
Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera said that he heard of the problem this summer when the inspectors were here from Midland.
“They came to look at it during the summer,” said Herrera. “We knew there was a problem,” he said.
Herrera said that if the county has to quarantine an animal with rabies they will have to do it at the Pecos Animal Clinic.
“That, or we’ll have to contract it out with another county or city that it up to state standards,” said Herrera.
Herrera said that he had brought the problem up to the Reeves County Commissioners.
“I brought it to their attention, so that they could get some kind of agreement with the city,” he said. “Another option would be to get an agreement between the county and city and build one up to state standards.
“Countywide, I hope that the city brings it up to compliance, because we’ll have to get a contract with Dr. Box and he might have to much work,” said Herrera.
Alligood said along with Luster, the rest of the city’s Animal Control Advisory Committee is made up of Dr. Box, city animal control officer Billy Brookshire, city health inspector Al Gomez, Karen White, Teeny Crider and councilman Gerald Tellez.
“The advisory committee is ready to work with the animal control officer to make his job easier, and in no way hinder him and make it tougher to do.”
He added that the committee is also seeking to do education in local schools on animal control, to try and lower the city’s population of strays.
Luster has saved many pets in her life and most recently saved the life of a dog that needs eye surgery.
“She was half starved and pregnant and we couldn’t save the puppies, but we saved her,” said Luster. “The result was that she is now blind and we’re working on getting her eyesight back,” she said.
Luster said that when she picked up her latest “pet project” the dog only weighed 73 pounds. “She was already walking on the back part of her feet, where she was so weak,” said Luster.
Luster just hopes that they find an appropriate solution to this dilemma, before none of the animals can be saved.
“I’m hoping they’ll do something and find a good place for these animals,” said Luster.
Companies, emergency responders attend programs on safety
A program on pipeline safety was well attended on Thursday, with several different oil-field related companies on hand to provide information and giveaways to both emergency responders and to companies involved in digging or drilling in areas where pipelines may be located.
“The main thing was to make the public aware of the new laws,” said Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera of the event, which was sponsored by The Pipeline Group, a Pennsylvania-based company that promotes pipeline safety.
“There are some new laws that have come into effect,” he said.
For example, individuals are asked to dial a 1-800 number before they start digging.
“Also for any pipeline accident they can dial this 800 number, or any time that anyone is going to dig, they can call that number and get a permit to be able to dig,” said Herrera.
About 100 individuals attended the noon session, which was open to employees who work in the excavation field, or oilfield related and the evening session was open to the public.
The event was held at the Reeves County Civic Center and included dinner.
The program was sponsored by a group of companies with a common goal of preventing accidents and damages to underground pipelines and utilities.
While there have been no major fatalities involving accidental cutting of pipelines in the Trans-Pecos area in recent years, 12 persons were killed in August of 2000 when a pipeline spanning the Pecos River just north of Red Bluff Lake exploded due to corrosion.
A free dinner was provided Thursday evening for all persons involved in excavation related activities in Culberson, Loving, Pecos, Reeves, Terrell, Ward, and Winkler counties.
Following the dinner, a brief safety program was presented which stressed the importance of accident prevention by identifying pipeline and utility rights of way, use of one-call systems, and the importance of working with pipeline and utility companies to safely excavate in the vicinity of underground facilities.
“They provided us with a lot of good information and the brochures have a lot more that everyone can look at and learn from,” said Herrera.
Each year many lives are injured or lost, plus millions of dollars in repairs and lost products are incurred due to “third party” incidents – someone digging into a pipeline. Thousands of communications, some life threatening, may be disrupted when expensive fiber-optic cables are damaged or severed. These types of excavation can be financially devastating to the responsible party.
This safety program was an attempt to help those who do excavation work to avoid such situations.
For more information call 1-800-982-8752 or visit the web site at: HYPERLINK "http://www.pipelinegroup.com" www.pipelinegroup.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.
Reymundo Concepcion Duran, 27, of 805 S. Oak St., was arrested at his residence on Nov. 21 on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony. Police said the arrest was made on a warrant for an incident out of Ector County.
Janie Marie Patino, 25 and Jesus Raul Garcia, 24, both of 1306 S. Lincoln St., were arrested Nov. 22, for possession of marijuana in a drug free zone, a state jail felony by Pecos police officer Oscar Machuca. The arrest took place at the 700 block of Texas St.
Ernest Marquez Wright, Jr., 22, of 2018 Wyoming St., was arrested on Nov. 24 around 10:40 pm after Pecos police officer Richard Natividad pulled his vehicle over for a traffic violation. The actual violation was not listed in the police department press release. According to Natividad’s report, he noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle and noticed a clear plastic baggie containing a green leafy substance on the floorboard before arresting Wright for possession of marijuana, a class B misdemeanor.
Oscar Florez Hernandez, 53, of 805 S. Peach St, was arrested Nov. 27 on a charge of public intoxication at approximately 10:30 pm. The arrest was made after officers found Hernandez lying in the road along the 700 block of S. Plum St.
Eric Steve Garcia, 35, of 1101 South Elm St. was arrested for public intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor on Nov. 29 around 6 pm. Police were called to a residence at Sixth and Peach St. after a call complaining of an “unwanted male subject.”
A fifteen-year-old male juvenile was arrested Dec. 1, at 1605 Washington St. at 11:30 pm on a charge of evading detention or arrest after he had evaded detention earlier that same day.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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