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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, January 12, 2007

Construction work starts on south side apartments

Ground was broken and the leveling work begun Wednesday on a 44-unit apartment complex on the city’s south side, the first major new housing project in Pecos in over 25 years.

Zimmerman Properties, a company based in Springfield, Mo., is building the apartments on the south side of Interstate 20 at Country Club Drive, and city officials, along with Pecos Chamber of Commerce and Reeves County Detention Center officials, were on hand for the 2:15 p.m. ceremony.

Also on hand was Richard Wells, project superintendent for Zimmerman Properties, which just completed an apartment complex in Fort Stockton. “I moved down from Oklahoma and took over as superintendent of that project, after we had a couple of superintendents who moved on to other jobs,” said Wells.

Other workers were busy during the groundbreaking laying out the site for utility installation on the complex, which will be made up of four buildings on land located between the Reeves County Golf Course, Pecos Valley Country Club, the Town & Country Food Store on West Palmer Street and Country Club Drive.

The city’s zoning board in March agreed to reclassify the 2.72-acre site for multifamily housing, and Zimmerman Properties bought the land from the Pecos Valley Country Club after the zoning change was approved.

The project is being funded both through private loans and a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the company’s website. Under the USDA rules, residents must qualify with maximum household income not to exceed 30 percent and 60 percent of area median income, and meet the standards imposed under the federal tax credit program.

Zimmerman Properties said they expect leasing of the apartments to begin this summer. Out of the 44 apartments, five will be equipped for senior or disabled residents. “There will be handicapped and visually impaired units,” Wells said. “There will be strobe lights on the smoke alarms in the units for the visually impaired.”

Two of the handicapped and one of the visually impaired units will be located in the south building, located nearest to the golf course, while another handicapped unit and another unit for the visually impaired will be built in the north building.

The apartments will come in three styles, Wells said. There will be single-bedroom, single-bathroom units, and ones with two bedrooms and two baths and three-bedroom two-bath units.

Monthly rents will range from $160 to $435 per unit for the senior/disabled housing, which will be one- and two-bedroom units, and from $165 to $500 for the other two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Parking will be built both inside the complex, along with a barbeque area, and on the roadway leading to the Reeves County Golf Course. A driveway with two entrances onto Country Club Drive will be constructed as part of the project, the company said it its Tuesday press release.

Along with laying down markers for the new utility lines, Wells said workers also will have to find a water line that runs through the site, and is used for irrigating the golf course. “The golf course water line lies under the parking lot on the east side of the complex. They laid it down in an abandoned irrigation canal,” he said.

The last significant housing construction in Pecos occurred on the west side of the city in the early 1980s, during the last oil and natural gas drilling boom. While job losses in the late 1990s and the early part of this decade caused Pecos’ population to plunge by 25 percent, the lack of any new housing in the past two years, with expansion of the Reeves County Detention Center and the growth in the area’s oil and natural gas drilling, has created a housing shortage in the city, due to the poor quality of much of the vacated housing and low property valuation rates that have made home and apartment builders reluctant to begin new construction in the city.

RCDC officials have said they’ve run into problems getting people to move to Pecos to take available jobs at the prison due to a shortage of apartments, and local motels over the past year have been running occupancy rates of between 80 and 90 percent due to extended stay customers.

A second apartment complex in the planning stage, a 96-unit complex in the 700 and 800 block of West Washington Street, is still awaiting final approval of the plans by the Office of Rural Community Affairs for investor Ram Kunwar. That project is to replace plans for 19 single-unit homes, of which 10 had to be occupied by low-income families, after only one of the planned 20 homes at the site was built.

The apartments project also has to have just over 50 percent low-income occupancy to meet the requirements of the state Office or Rural Community Affairs loan the city received for infrastructure work at the site in 2001. The city will have to repay just under $400,000 to the state if the apartments are not constructed. The city received approval to change the project from homes to apartments, when not enough low-income families could qualify for the loans needed to begin construction of the homes.

Along with the apartment complex just south of I-20, work is expected to begin later this year on at least one new motel along the Interstate, near Reeves County Hospital. Along with the Hampton Inn, other projects along the interstate also are in the planning stages, though official announcements on those projects have not yet occurred.

Chamber introduced to new hospital CEO

Several items were discussed, and special guests introduced, during the regular Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Meeting held Tuesday at noon at the Pecos Senior Citizen’s Center.

New board president Venetta Seals introduced the new directors for the year and guests present at the meeting, including the new CEO for Reeves County Hospital, Albert LaRochelle, who provided members with his background.

A native New Englander. LaRochelle has spent most of the past 13 years in Vermont, but attended Odessa College for two years and served as a hospital administrator in Spearman for nine years.

Seals, who is also employed by the hospital, told the group that Pecos had been named as a National Main Street City.

“There were six or more others that were named as well, it’s on a point system, so we’re very excited about that,” she said. “Thanks to Nancy Martinez for all her time and effort in helping us get the information together and getting it in.”

Greer Willis talked to the group about a new financial program that will be coming to Pecos this week.

“We are full at this time, which is good news, but we still have the kits for sale if anybody is interested and they are $90,” said Willis of the project, which is associated with Dave Ramsey, whose radio show on personal finance is heard afternoons on KCRS-AM out of Midland-Odessa.

Willis said that they had sold 50 kits and that program began Thursday at 7 p.m., at the Reeves County Civic Center.

“We are taking alternates at this time, if someone doesn’t show up, or thinks that they can’t commit to 13 weeks, they can fill in,” said Willis.

The financial program will include information on investing, banking, budgeting and other financial topics.

West Texas National Bank will provide refreshments for the first session, Trans Pecos Banks are also sponsors and the chamber provided the civic center.

“We want to thank everyone who is helping with this program,” said Willis.

“We would like to have small groups and need leaders for the groups,” said board member John Grant.

In other business, executive director Linda Gholson reported on the Women’s Division and said that the Golden Girl Pageant will be held on June 22 this year.

“I know some people think it seems earlier this year, but that’s how we had to schedule it,” said Gholson.

West of the Pecos Rodeo events are coming along great, according to president Joe Keese. “We are working on our final plans and trying to raise money for another team roping event,” said Keese, who added that they were hoping to push the creation of venue tax committee in order to use money from the 2 percent tax to do something to improve the arena. The tax was approved by local residents in 2005, but has never been implemented by city and county officials.

“We are looking at new companies to help with the added performance,” said Keese, referring to funding for the 2007 West of the Pecos Rodeo.

Bill Oglesby reported to the board that there would be a Texas Pecos Trails meeting on Thursday in Big Lake.

“Some of our funding is going to be cut and we want to contact the legislature and try to get some of that funding back,” said Oglesby.

Reeves County Detention Center Warden III Martin McDaniel said that things are coming along great at the prison and that they now house Bureau of Prisons inmates.

Fire at drilling rig site contained to trailer

Faulty electrical equipment was suspected as the cause of a Wednesday morning fire that destroyed the inside of one of two trailers set up at a drilling site nine miles south of Pecos.

Pecos Volunteer Fire Department and Pecos EMS crews were called to the Patterson-UTI 627 rig site about 11 a.m. on Wednesday to battle the fire, which sent a large cloud of smoke into the skies above the site, located off County Road 118, about midway between U.S. 285 and State Highway 17 south of Pecos.

Josh Prasise, rig manager for Patterson-UTI, said the trailer was unoccupied at the time the fire broke out. “The company man had just left when I saw it start smoking,” he said. Fire and EMS crews were then notified and went to the site, which is accessible only via a road off Highway 17, about 1 1/2 miles southwest of the rig’s location.

The trailers and the rig were set up south of Pecos on Dec. 30 Prasise said. The rented trailers were being used as living quarters and the fire broke out in an area near where the driers were located.

Fire crews were able to put out the blaze shortly after their arrival, and before it could spread to the adjacent trailer or to the rig site itself, which was set up just to the east of the trailers.

Annual Junior Stock Show set to begin at Civic Center

Goats, heifers, lambs and sheep will be roaming through the Reeves County Civic Center this weekend, during the Annual Reeves County Junior Livestock Show and Sale.

Events began on Thursday with the weigh-in and continue through Saturday night’s auction at the Civic Center.

On Thursday, weigh-in will be held for all the sheep, goats and hogs from 4:30 p.m., until 7 p.m.

The Heifer Show will be held at 5:15 p.m., Friday, followed by a commercial cattle show at 5:45 p.m.; goat show at 6:15 p.m. and the lamb show at 8 p.m.

On Saturday, the hog show will start at 8 a.m., with a pudding contest to follow at 4 p.m. A barbecue dinner is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. and the premium sale is to be held at 7 p.m.

Exhibitors this year include: Josh Aguilar, Katelyn Aguilar, Ari Alligood, Miranda Alvarez, Mysela Alvarez, Conner Armstrong, Heath Armstrong, Salvador Baez, Jeremy Baeza, Adrienne Bagley, Nathan Box, Ryann Box, Victoria Carrasco, Anastasia Contreras, Giselle Contreras, Amber Cook, Kebbeh Darpolar, Casey Dutchover, Joseph Dutchover and Josh Elliott.

Also, Lauren Elliott, Daniel Estrada, Diego Estrada, Dora Estrada, Dora Estrada, Stephanie Fuentez, Abraham Garcia, Ariel Garcia, Dillon Garcia, James Garcia, Russell Garlick, Trey Graham, Wes Grant, Rudy Guerrero, Sterling Hannsz, Michael Hardwick, Cassidey Hegar, Dakota Hegar, Tye Hegar, Dorothy Humphries, Ryan Jurado, Haley Kington, Jordan Kington, Christopher Lease and Kelly Lease.

Also, Michael Lee, Niki Lindemann, Albert Lopez, Harlee Lozano, Teg Lozano, Stephanie Lucas, Sarah Lujan, Joel Madrid, Patrick Madrid, Chris Martinez, Jason Martinez, Matt Martinez, Joshua Matta, Sarah Matta, Nathan McCormick, Mayle McElroy, Alexander Mendoza, Tommy Millan, Dailynn Mondragon, Ryan Mondragon, Vance Mondragon, Zachary Morton and Adrian Muniz.

Also, Marcus Muniz, John Nunez, Ashley Ornelas, Cielo Ornelas, Francisco Ornelas, Geronimo Ornelas, Brittany Quintana, Kristopher Quintana, Mark Quintana, Annabel Ramirez, Zackery Renshaw, Brianna Rodriguez, Emily Rodriguez, Joe Abel Rodriguez, Jose Rodriguez, Joseph Rodriguez, Maribel Rodriguez, Allann Roman, Mia Roman, Abby Salcido, Bryce Salcido, Gabriel Salcido, Ryan Salcido, Victoria Salcido, Omero Sanchez, Sammy Sandoval, Teodoro Serrano, Marissa Tarango, Mateo Tarango, Clay Teague, Derek Teague, Mac Teague, Joseph Terrell, Shelby Terrell, Keyna Valenzuela, Anisha Vasquez, Isaiah Vela, Claire Venegas, Kacy Villanueva, Kendra Villanueva, Manuel Villanueva, Myra Villanueva, Avery Weatherman, Justin Workman and Phillip Workman.

Red Bluff plans no ‘07 changes in water release

Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members tentatively set 2007 water release levels at the same rate as last year, while getting a good report on their 2006 audit from CPA Randy Graham during their regular monthly meeting, held on Tuesday at the district’s office in Pecos.

Managing director Randall Hartman said the actual release numbers won’t be approved until February, but told the board the district should send out letters in the next 30 days to let the seven sub-districts and farmers in those districts know what the 2007 plans look like. “We’ve got 103,000 acre/feet (in Red Bluff Lake) and I expect a lot more,” Hartman said. “I’d like to leave it at last year’s (allotment) level of 25,000 acre/feet.”

Hartman said the allotment would require a release of about 50,000 acre/feet of water. Red Bluff Lake reached just over 120,000 acre/feet last year when the 2006 water releases began. “Let’s send them down a letter saying the allotment will be 25,000, and everyone can figure that from there,” board member Jay Lee said.

Along with maintaining the 2006 release levels, the board also tentatively approved maintaining the water rate at $6 per acre/foot.

Graham went over the district’s 2006 finances for about 30 minutes, and told the board, “You got a clean bill of health.” He said while interest rates on the district’s bank funds are down, funds received through water payments and oil and gas royalties are up sharply in the past five years.

“Water sales are up $21,000, and oil and gas sales are up $210,000,” he said, adding that 2006 income was $345,000, compared with a $31,000 loss in 2005.

He said the district will have to put more money in the future into its retirement fund, but overall the 2006 budget came in below estimates, and the district had adequate funds to meet near-term commitments, including a planned $75,000 payment to remove dead salt cedars from along the Pecos River.

In other action, the board discussed a letter from Alan Zeman, president of the Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2, on improving water measuring by Red Bluff to its sub-districts, which is used to determine water sales fees.

Cecil Lee, who was at the meeting as a representative of RCWID No. 2, said Zeman wants a more accurate measuring device put in the canal coming from the Pecos River. “We had a reading of 40 acre/feet, and Red Bluff billed us 240 feet,” he said. “The rules say Red Bluff is responsible for maintaining the weirs. Somebody could sue you because you’re not delivering the right amount of water.”

Hartman said the cost of a new weir was about $7,000, but that the U.S. Geological Survey could charge the district up to $17,000 per weir to set up the measuring devices properly, and the permanent weirs in the river and canals are subject to tampering and vandalism. He said the district was using a couple of portable weirs to measure water flow during release periods, while Cecil Lee said RCWID No. 2 was using a parasol flume - a 6-foot long, 30-inch wide pipe, as a measuring device.

“What we need to do is find out what all our options are,” said board member Clay Lee. Hartman said he would look at the district’s options and report back to the board.

Barreno receives her Bachelor Degree

Yvette Barreno, of Pecos, received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Degree with a Minor in History from the University of the Permian Basin.

Graduation ceremonies were held Dec. 9, 2006, at UTPB.

Barreno graduated from Pecos High School in 2001 and plans to continue grad school at UTPB and obtain a masters in Public Administration. Her future plans after grad school are to attend law school or pursue her PH.D.

She received her Associates in Arts in General Studies from Odessa College in 2003.

Barreno is the daughter of Ricky and Angie Barreno of Pecos.

Grandparents are Julia Contreras and Alicia Barreno.

She has one son, Isaiah Tyler Ornelas, a second grade student at Austin Elementary School.

Marquez named Top Baby Model 2006

Maritza Marquez, of Pecos, was named Top Baby Model 2006 Hollywood Boulevard.

Marquez loves modeling, singing and dancing to Selena and the Cheetah Girls.

She is a first grade student in Mrs. Matthews class at Austin Elementary School.

Maritza is the daughter of Tony and Crissy Soto and her grandparents are Jesus and Maria Soto and Danny and Mary Lou Marquez.

Great grandparents are Bonnie Marquez and Pete Falcon of San Antonio.

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