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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, April 20, 2007

City may seek new Cedar St. traffic signal

Town of Pecos City Council members retroactively approved placement of a new stop sign near Pecos High School, while discussing the possibility of asking the Texas Department of Transportation to place a traffic light at Seventh and Eddy streets, during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall.

Martin Arreguy, city street department supervisor, asked the council to approve placing the stop sign on Missouri Street at the intersection with Jefferson Street, though the sign has been in place since early April.

The intersection is next to the Pecos High School field house, and Arreguy said, “I talked with the coach (head football coach Chris Henson, who also lives across the street) about people flying down Missouri Street, coming around the corner and endangering children. He said two of his kids already have almost been hit.

“I observed the intersection, and I’m amazed we haven’t put a stop sign there before,” he added.

The discussion on the traffic light at Seventh and Eddy was part of an ongoing discussion about traffic controls on Cedar Street, which has seen an increase in traffic in recent years. Because Cedar also serves as U.S. 285 through Pecos, TxDOT maintains it, and any changes other than adjustments to speed limits have to go through a formal process.

“I will say we’ve had a number of accidents at Seventh and Cedar, so we have evidence that we need some type of traffic remittance,” he said.

“Three times we’ve had T-bone accidents at Cedar Street,” Arreguy said, which usually involve eastbound vehicles on Seventh being hit by vehicles southbound in the left lane on Cedar, hidden from view by vehicles in the right lane turning west onto Seventh from Cedar. Pecos currently has only three traffic lights, all state maintained. Other nearby cities of similar size average between six and nine traffic lights on their state-maintained city streets. But Arreguy said the city would have to do an engineering survey and go through TxDOT to get any new traffic light approved.

“We’ve e-mailed Kelli Williams, the head engineer for TxDOT (in the Odessa District), but she hasn’t returned our e-mail yet,” Arreguy said.

Last year, TxDOT officials in Odessa discussed installation of new traffic lights in Pecos, including one at the Eddy Street intersection with Walthall and Washington streets. But no further action on that has been reported.

Council awards $295,000 in bids for sewer project

Think you’ve ever had a big bill at Home Depot?

The Town of Pecos City will be sending checks for nearly $300,000 to the nation’s largest consumer hardware retailer in the near future, after a commercial subsidiary of the company was the low bidder on two of the three contracts for the city’s sewer line improvement project.

Council members on Thursday awarded bids for the pipeline and the manholes to be used in the installation or replacement of six miles of sewer line on the north and east sides of town. However, the council rejected the lone bid submitted for pumping station equipment for the project, and voted to seek new bids on that part of the project.

City Public Works Director Edgardo Madrid said HD Supply Waterworks, a subsidiary of Home Depot, was the lowest of three bidders on the pipeline contract, and the lower of two bidders on the contract to supply 125 manholes to be installed by Town of Pecos City crews.

In response to a question by councilman Frank Sanchez about the company’s reliability, Madrid explained that the well-known company owned HD Supply Waterworks.

“HD at the beginning of the name is for Home Depot, so it’s a big company and can give discounts,” he said.

Madrid said HD Supply Waterworks bid $172,880.15 on the six miles of sewer pipe, and $123,200.06 for the 125 manhole covers. “The reason we agreed on separate contracts is you can actually have companies interested in selling manholes alone and get a better bid,” he told the council.

However, in the bidding for equipment for the two new lift stations, Madrid said the city received only one bid, from BenMark Supply. “It’s pretty high,” Madrid said of the $243,230 bid, and he recommended that the council reject the bid and advertise for new bids, in hopes of getting a better offer.

In other action, Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney told the council the city had recently received a $292,000 payment from the U.S. Marshal’s Service to make up for the higher wages mandated by the U.S. Department of Labor for jailers at the Pecos Criminal Justice Center, and that city officials would be meeting with the Marshal’s Service next week to discuss further compensation increases.

“We have a meeting set up with the Chief Marshal for the Western District on April 20, and we will hand-deliver the 243 (payment request) form to him,” McKinney said.

The Marshal’s Service helped fund construction of the CJC in 2001, as part of a 10-year agreement to house inmates awaiting federal trial or sentencing. But two years after the deal was signed, the Labor Department ordered the city in increase its salaries at the jail. City officials have been seeking an increased compensation rate from the Marshal’s Service Since then, to pay for the federally-mandated wage hikes.

McKinney was also given approval by the council to apply for a $500 local grant for landscaping at the CJC. City Main Street Coordinator Tom Rivera said the funding, from the Pecos Valley RC&D fund, was available for other local projects, but just two had been undertaken in Reeves County, compared with over a dozen in Ward and Pecos counties. Council member formally approved a six-month deal with Intermedics to install its TripTick system on Pecos EMS ambulances. The system allows satellite tracking of EMS crews as well as wireless transmission of reports and records by EMS crews on-site at medical calls. EMS Chief Dennis Thorp said he was able to lower the added cost by one-half percent that the city will have to pay Intermedics for the system. “It will be 16 percent overall on collections,” he said, with 4 percent of that coming from the TripTick system.

The council also approved a one-year contract with MuniServices LLC to audit local hotels and motels, to see if the city was receiving the correct amount of bed tax funds.

Rivera said he had talked with the city of Garland about MuniServices audit work on three motels in that suburban Dallas community. “Two of the three hotels were short, so they were very satisfied with the service, and are going to renew,” he said.

Mayor Dick Alligood said he talked with the manager of one of the local motels, and was told they had no problem with the outside audits. “They said it’s about time, and they were looking forward to having the other hotels audited,” he said.

Pecos currently has eight motels. Rivera said three would be chosen for audits under the one-year contract.

RCDC’s shortage of guards mirrored at state prison sites

From Staff and Wire Reports

A shortage of prison guards at the county-owned Reeves County Detention Center is mirrored in shortages of guards at state prisons across Texas, according to lawmakers. The RCDC, which is undergoing an expansion that will increase its capacity to over 3,750 inmates, is in need of about 70 guards to fill both current vacancies and newly-created correctional worker positions. A shortage of workers in the area, along with a shortage of available housing, has contributed to the inability to find workers for those spots. RCDC salaries start at just over $31,000 a year, about $2,000 less than the starting salaries within the state prison system. Higher paying jobs in the oil and gas drilling industry have lured away workers from the RCDC, and Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials are reporting similar shortages.

About 12 percent of Texas correctional officer positions are vacant, increasing the chance of breakouts or prison riots, lawmakers said.

The state's prison units have more than 3,000 unfilled correctional officer jobs, leading one lawmaker to question whether the general public is safe.

"There's a public safety issue with the shortage," said Sen. John Whitmire, the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. "It means that the public is at risk of a breakout. It means you endanger corrections officers, and you potentially endanger inmates."

More than 30 percent of correctional officer jobs are unfilled at four prison units in the state: Dalhart, Smith, Coffield and Beto. The Ferguson unit has 28 percent of its correctional officer jobs unstaffed.

Shortages are not as severe at the Lynbaugh Prison Unit near Fort Stockton, the nearest state prison to Pecos.

The reasons for the shortages cited most frequently by experts are low salaries and the location of prisons in rural areas far from big-city labor pools. The turnover rate has risen from 20 percent in 2002 to 24 percent in 2006, experts said.

While lawmakers are considering building new prisons to ease overcrowding problems, the vice president of the Corrections Association of Texas is calling for the state to increase funding to the prisons it already has. The group is pushing for higher hazard pay and a pay raise for correctional officers, whose base salaries are capped at $33,280 per year.

The current shortage could lead to either "a massive escape that puts the public at risk, or a riot where many lives are lost," said Jaye Hightower, vice president of the Corrections Association of Texas.

A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman said the prisons are secure despite the shortage of officers.

"We keep all the critical areas staffed," spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said. "We are dedicated to offering safe prisons and secure prisons."

Of the top-four states in terms of prison populations, the percentage of unstaffed correctional officer jobs is highest in Texas. In California, it's 9 percent, in Florida 4 percent and in New York, less than 1 percent.

School hires new band director, assistants

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members selected a new person to lead the Pecos High School band at Eagle Stadium this fall, and a plaque will be installed in front of the stadium to commemorate a club’s donation 78 years ago of the land that the stadium currently occupies to the school district.

These were just two of the items discussed during the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board meeting held on April 9 at the Technology Center.

The group approved the hiring a replacement for band director William Goff, who was removed from the position last month after regaining the head band director’s job a year ago, after a four-year absence, at the urging of band students and parents Juan Carlos Rodriguez was hired by the board as Goff’s replacement. He has a bachelor of Art’s degree from St. Mary’s University, in Secondary Music 6-12.

Rodriguez was teaching at Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Austin since 2005. He was also at Texas A&M International University and did student teaching at Sidney Lanier High School.

Assistant band director will be Jose A. Villareal, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Music Degree from Texas A&M at Kingsville and also attended Laredo Community College. His certification is all level music PK-12 and music EC-12.

Villareal taught at M.B. Lamar Middle School; J.W. Nixon High School and Barbara Fasken Elementary School.

Assistant band director Kendra Early will join them. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Schreiner University, Secondary Music 6-12. She did her student teaching at Hal Peterson Middle School in Kerrville.

The plaque will be placed at Eagle Stadium following a presentation by Pecos Rotary Club president Ken Winkles, Jr. He requested permission on behalf of the Rotary Club to place a plaque on the west side of the football stadium.

“This is something that a former member of the club who passed away last year, Bill Hubbs, had been wanting to do,” said Winkles.

Winkles said that he was sorry that this was being done after Hubbs had already passed away, but that it was something that he would have really liked.

The plaque would commemorate the Club’s 1929 donation of the land that Eagle Stadium currently occupies to the school district.

“The exact wording on the plaque is yet to be finalized,” said Winkles.

The board members approved the club placing the plaque inside the fence, by the ticket stand.

“We would prefer it be inside the fence because of vandalism,” Winkles said.

He added that the club wanted to make it a nice-looking plaque that would represent both the school and the club well.

“One club member, who wants to remain anonymous, has donated half for the plaque and there are funds for this,” said Winkles.

Winkles said that this was a project that should have been done months ago.

“How soon will it be placed?” asked board president Lila Cerna.

“I just have to contact the company in Lubbock and we have to come up with some wording and as soon as we do, we’ll get them to come out here,” said Winkles.

Aside from the band directors and assistants, other hired by district were: Rumalda Espino, BS, from Sul Ross University and also attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. Certification: Elementary reading 1-8 and elementary self-contained, 1-8. She has taught at Meadows Elementary, Plano; Alamo Elementary, Fort Stockton; Dave Blair Intermediate, Farmers Branch and Highland Park Elementary, San Antonio.

Isabel Villareal holds a Master’s Degree in Reading and Mid-Management from San Angelo State University and attended Sul Ross State University. Certification: Mid-Management Administrator PK-12; elementary Spanish 1-8; Elementary self-contained 1-8; Early Childhood Education Handicapped PK-6 and Kindergarten PK-KG. She has previously worked for the Big Spring ISD and Fort Stockton ISD.

Local residents briefed on severe weather signs

Area law enforcement officials and other area residents were given a brush-up course on weather spotting last Tuesday night, during a two-hour presentation at the Reeves County Civic Center on spotting and reporting severe weather.

Cody Lindsey, with the National Weather Service’s Midland office, delivered the presentation, which included slides and videos. It’s part of a series of training courses the MWS gives each spring, during the most likely time for severe weather to strike it Texas. “We go to various communities during severe weather season,” said Lindsey. “This is my third year doing this, and Reeves County has always had a good turnout.”

Reeves County was under two tornado warnings last month, and May 22 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Saragosa tornado that killed 30 people, and remains the single most deadly tornado in the United States since the 1970s.

“We usually start doing these in late February,” Lindsey said. “Depending on which communities want to have them, we go into early May or mid-May.”

He said the course is roughly the same each year. “We do try to change a little. We add new pictures and videos and we try to recap events in this area over the past year.”

Tuesday’s show included a video of a SUV suffering severe hail damage while its driver and passengers tried to get video of a possible tornado last spring from a storm between Seminole and Lamesa.

Lindsey explained that while radar images can help forecasters in Midland spot possible severe thunderstorms or tornado clouds, by the time the signal reaches the Pecos area, the signal is seeing the cloud 10,000 to 15,000 feet above the surface. “That’s why spotters are important, because they can see the lower levels of the clouds,” he said.

He also went over the differences between wall clouds, rear-flank downdrafts, both which often precede the formation of a tornado, and shelf clouds, which are caused by outflow air from a storm and don’t produce tornadoes. Lindsey said about 70 percent of tornado deaths come from the 1 percent of tornadoes that are classified as “violent”, with wind speeds from 166 to 290 mph, and which can last for up to one hour in duration.

Reeves County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Herrera also reminded those at the session that NWS emergency weather alerts and severe weather warnings are available through the NOAA Weather Radio station that was set up 15 miles south of Pecos last year. Herrera said the local signal covers an area that includes all or parts of Reeves, Ward, Pecos, Loving and Winkler counties, and that the weather radios to pick up the station are available for between $30 and $60.

“We want everyone in Pecos to have one of these” Herrera said of the radios, which have a special warning tone when alerts are issued, even if the sound on the radio is turned down. The NOAA radio signal is also available to persons who own scanners, by setting a channel to the 162.45 frequency.

Airport receives fast return visit by Mig fighter

A Russian-designed fighter aircraft landing at the old Pecos Army Airfield would have been an unusual sight, even when the United States and Soviet Union were allies while the base was in operation during World War II.

But when a Mig-17F fighter jet landed at the site of the old Army airfield, now the Pecos Municipal Airport, on Monday morning, it was the second visit in a week by the Russian-designed plane, which was headed back to California after a weekend at the Corpus Christi Air Show.

Bill Reesman, pilot of the fighter jet, which was built in 1959, and his support crew stopped off at the Pecos Municipal Airport on their way back to Los Angeles. “We came through here last week on the way to the Naval Air Show at Corpus Christi,” he said. “I fell in love with the aviation services here and decided to stop back on our way to Los Angeles.”

He said the Mig-17A was the first supersonic fighter aircraft build by the Soviet Union, though this particular plane never was part of the Red Army’s air force when he acquired it 11 years ago.

“There’s a gentleman in Scottsdale, Az., who is Polish who imported 15 of them from the Polish Air Force,” Reesman said. “It was made it Poland. There were nine different countries where it was made.”

“This is my second Mig. The first blew up under me,” he said. That happened when a leaking fuel line caused an explosion while Reesman was attempting a takeoff at an air show in 1996. He acquired his new Mig about four months later.

The jet sports the Soviet Union’s hammer and sickle symbol on its tail section as recognition of its lineage. But the front of the jet and the main part of the fuselage are dedicated to a different image, than of Reesman’s sponsor, Red Bull energy drink.

“They came on as sponsor eight years ago. You can imagine a jet fight costs a great expense to maintain,” said Reesman, who performs at air shows across the United States. “I do about 12 air shows per year, and each air show takes about five days,” he said. “We try to teach kids about aviation. My interest in planes started when I was seven and my did took me to the Cleveland Air Races, so I’m trying now to have the same influence on other kids at air shows.”

He said he does solo aerobatic performances at the shows in his one-person fighter jet, and is accompanied by his wife Julie, who also serves as announcer, and his crew chief Jim Hoyt, who follow him in a Piper Chieftain to the various air show sites.

He said the group would be leaving Pecos later on Monday and would spend the night in Arizona before returning to Los Angeles, and would then travel north to Washington State for the SeaFair Air Races in Seattle.

Modern Study Club members write short stories

The Modern Study Club met for an Education Department Program entitled, “Mystery Meeting,” on March 14, at the Pecos Senior Citizen’s Center, with Vice-President Margie Williamson, presiding. The Club Collect was led by Nan Cate and Paula Fuller led the Pledges of Allegiance to the United States of America and Texas Flags.

Mrs. Williamson presented Joyce Morton, Co-Chairman of he Mystery Meeting - Short Stories Contest, who introduced guests, Donna Woodard and Vera Sellers, who served as judges for club members’ short stories. Mrs. Morton reminded members their stories could not be over 2,000 words and could be factual, fictional or historical. The stories were sent to Western District for further judging. The stories read were as follows: Etta Bradley, “A Special Wish,” true story in third person; Nan Cate, “A Box of Kittens and a Snake, True Story; Paula Fuller, “A March Haikus and an Ireland Haikus; Pearl Gustafson, “A Hole in the Wall,” True Story; Lena Harpham, “Remembering Grandma and Granpa,” True Story; Betty Lee, “A trip to Taiwan,” True Story; Joyce Morton, “You Don’t Have to be Perfect,” True Story; Juracy Ray, “Flight from Cuba and Castro,” True Story and Cathy Travland, “Greg’s Ordeal,” True Story.

The results of our judges were as follows: first place, Nan Cate; second place, Etta Bradley and third place, Pearl Gustafson. Mrs. Morton presented the judges a beautiful hand painted thank you card and a gift of Bath and Body Works hand lotion and deep cleansing hand gel for their purses.

Secretary Catherine Travland read the minutes of the Feb. 28, meeting which were approved as read.

Treasurer Betty Lee presented a report of club finances. The Official Call from President Sherry Phillips, of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, inviting members to the one day meeting of Western District 47th Annual Spring Convention, at McCamey on March 31, was read and discussed.

An invitation from Woman’s Club of Alpine to attend a luncheon, tour the La Luz de Estrella Winery at Marfa and to tour Aerostat Site on West Highway 90 near Valentine, was read.

The Official Call from TFWC President Patricia Siegfreid-Giles was read inviting club members Annual Convention, April 19-21, at Abilene and Albany.

Margie Williamson, MSC Scholarship Chairman, reported that she had mailed Sylvia Davis’ nomination packet to Bobbe Mitchell, at Sanderson, chairman of the Western District Alma Van Sickle Scholarship. Chairman Williamson also thanked Catherine Travland for her assistance in getting the application mailed in a timely manner.

Paula Fuller, Federation Chairman, reported that GFWC wanted to know what clubs were doing and to send our news items to them. She said the Woman’s Club of Phoenix, Arizona, presented Phoenix College School of Nursing with a check for $250,000 to be placed in a Trust Fund, the interest to fund 10 scholarships of $1,000 each in the name of the Woman’s Club of Phoenix. Also, the Club of Center, Colorado, came up with the idea of a pictorial history of Center as part of their Centennial Celebration.

Margie Williamson asked if club members would be interested in mailing cards to disabled veterans that are in the Veteran’s Hospital on Memorial Day. No action was taken.

Projects of this monthly meeting were to contribute to the Odessa College Pecos Fund; participate in Community Projects; and to contribute 25 cents for each motor vehicle in the club member’s household to operation Smile.

Roll call was answered by responding to the question - should we let Joyce and Cathy plan meetings?

Hostesses Joyce Morton and Catherine Travland served ice cream sundaes with assorted toppings and a variety of cookies to eight members and two guests.

Jordan, Chabarria announce their engagement

Sally and (the late) Tom Jordan of Emmetsburg, Iowa announce the engagement and upcoming marriage of their daughter, Kimberly Ann Jordan to Robert Sanchez Chabarria Jr., son of Robert and Linda Chabarria Sr. of Pecos Texas.

Robert and Kimberly are serving in the United States Air Force and are stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

After graduation from the Community College of the Air Force, both have continued pursuing their education and are seniors at Park University, majoring in Financial Management and Criminal Justice.

The wedding will be held on the 11th of August, 2007 at Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church in Pecos, Texas.

Following the wedding, the couple will honeymoon in Mexico and live happily ever after wherever the Air Force needs them.

Toone honored by Masonic Lodge in Pecos

Pecos Valley Lodge 736 is honored to present the Grand Trowel Award to Brother James B. Toone.

Brother Toone was raised to Master Mason in 1947 And has devoted his service to all Masonic principles.

He has served as treasurer and S.U. to Pecos Valley Lodge. Brother Toone has served his community, serving on the school board and a numerous other things he has done for the community, never expecting anything in return.

He is an active member of the Presbyterian Church, has been a Mason for over 60 years and received his 60 year pin this year.

Past recipients of the Golden Trowel Award are W.O. Bill Pigman, Woody W. Merritt, David F. Lovett and Greg Luna.

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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