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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rental truck, train collide west of town

The driver of a rental truck avoided serious injury late Thursday morning when his vehicle was struck by a Union Pacific freight train at a crossing west of Pecos.

A full report from the Texas Department of Public Safety was not available at press time, but the accident occurred about 11:30 a.m., when a Penske rental truck was struck by the UP train, as it attempted to cross the West ‘F’ Street crossing, about a quarter-mile west of the Pecos city limits.

Weldon Brookshire of B&B Wrecker Service, located just to the north of where the accident occurred, said the truck and train were both westbound, when the vehicle turned off Business I-20 and onto ‘F’ Street. The rear cargo area on the right side of the truck was hit by the lead diesel engine, causing the truck to spin around and flip over, coming to rest upside down and facing south towards the tracks.

“I turned around just in time to hear a bang and see all that stuff come flying out,” Brookshire said. The truck contained boxes with Avon products and brochures, some of which were thrown out of the truck and onto the ground to the west of the crossing. The driver was the only passenger in the truck, and Pecos EMS crews were called to the scene, but no transport was made.

The train had just left the Cedar Street crossing in Pecos following a crew change headed towards El Paso, and reportedly had not reached full speed when the accident occurred. Railroad work crews also were at the Cedar Street crossing, removing an unused section of track, and also went to the scene, while train crew moved the front section of the freight forward to clear the ‘F’ Street crossing.

Hospital board member injured in copter crash

A Reeves County Hospital District board member was flown to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa on Wednesday from the site of where the helicopter he and another man were riding in made an emergency landing northwest of Fort Stockton.

Terry Ronald Honaker, 54, of Saragosa, who represents Precinct 3 on the Reeves County Hospital District board, was piloting a 1999 Robinson R-22 helicopter when mechanical problems forced it to land in a field near the FM 1776-U.S. 285 intersection, about 12 miles northwest of Fort Stockton. Honaker, who is a commercial helicopter pilot, was in the aircraft owned by Jay Smith and carrying Fort Stockton area wildlife trapper Gerald Lane Porter, 48, when the accident occurred.

Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Edward Garcia of Fort Stockton, who investigated the accident, said Honaker was able to land the helicopter in a field near the highway. DPS Sgt. Robert Losoya and trooper David Nanez of Fort Stockton, along with trooper Greg Reyeo of Pecos, were also called to the scene, as were Pecos County sheriff’s deputies and fire and EMS crews from Fort Stockton. Honaker was airlifted to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, where he was listed in stable condition with back injuries, according to the DPS report. Porter, who suffered a fractured rib and bruised kidney, was transported by private vehicle to Pecos County Memorial Hospital in Fort Stockton, where he was treated and released.

Honaker was elected to the RCH board in May of 2005 to fill the seat left empty by the death of Precinct 3 representative Bill Wendt. He was elected to a full two-year term on the hospital board in May of 2006. His wife Peggy is an employee at the hospital. Both hospital CEO Al LaRochelle and secretary Nadine Smith said late Thursday morning they had not spoken to Peggy Honaker since the accident, and did not have any further information on Terry Honaker’s condition.

City’s tax rebates pass $1 million mark

Sales tax receipts for the Town of Pecos City were again up sharply this month, according to figures released on Wednesday by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ office, with the city’s nine-month total for 2007 surpassing all of its sales tax collections for 2006, and surpassing the $1 million mark in a year for the first time.

The city saw an increase in its September sales tax rebate check of just under 80 percent, compared to the same month in 2006. Balmorhea also saw a big jump in its September check, based on local sales during July, while Toyah was down slightly for the month, but remains ahead by over 70 percent for the first nine months of the year.

Pecos’ check, based on its 1 1/2-cent share of the state’s 8 1/4-cent sales tax, brought in $148,864. That’s up 79.79 percent from last September’s check for $82,798. Once sixth of this month’s check, or $24,611, goes to the Pecos Economic Development Corp., for its operations.

Pecos already had seen double-digit increases the previous two years in its sales tax rebate checks, thanks to the increase in drilling activity in the area. But the figures have soared in the past six months, with September’s check bringing the year-to-date total to $1,100,429, a 46.11 percent jump from the $753,129 Pecos received over the first three-quarters of the 2006 reporting period.

Balmorhea’s check for the month was $3,171, a 77.82 percent increase from last year’s $1,783 total. The city has gotten $23,812 back from the comptroller’s office this year, up 71.63 percent from last year’s $13,874 total. Toyah’s $334 check was down 8.16 percent from last year’s check for $364, but overall Toyah has gotten $6,550 back in tax rebates, an increase of 72.47 percent from this time last year.

Meanwhile, the tax rebate check for the Reeves County Hospital District, which had been lagging those of the county’s three cities earlier this year, caught up in a big way this month. Combs’ office sent the hospital a check for $116,996 on its 1/2-cent sales tax, a 254.09 percent jump from last September’s $33,040 figure.

The huge increase put the hospital’s overall tax rebates for 2007 at $557,328, a 55.63 percent rise over last year’s total at this time of $358,102.

Pecos’ recent increases continue to be among the tops of all cities in the Permian Basin, though almost all are experiencing double-digit growth and some cities saw their sharpest increases take place one or two years ago. Meanwhile, after a couple of down months, several area cities in the Big Bend saw their September checks increase over last year’s totals.

Midland’s $2.73 million rebate check for September on its 1 1/2-cent sales tax was again the single largest for the region, and was 20.84 percent higher than a year ago. Overall, Midland has seen a 13.72 percent rise in its rebate checks in 2007. Odessa’s 1 1/4-cent sales tax brought the city $1.79 million in rebates this month, a 17 percent rise from last year. Overall, Odessa’s tax rebate checks are up by 12.77 percent in 2007.

For other cities collecting the 1 1/2-cent sales tax, Alpine received an $90,235 check, which was up 10.53 percent, after declines the previous two months. The city’s overall 2007 total is 2.9 percent. Crane received a check for $49,304, a 13.17 percent increase from last year; Lamesa got an $88,646 check back this month, which was up 32.58 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 $45,178 in their September check, up 24.54 percent; Wickett received an $11,368 check, up 116.32 percent, Wink received a check for $7,764, down 90.18 percent, while Pyote, received a $931 check this month, up 1,057.46 percent from the $80 the city received last September.

For area cities collecting a 1 3/4-cent sales tax, Andrews received a check for $286,968, a 47.97 percent increase. Marfa got a check for $18,468, which was up 5.71 percent; while Van Horn got a check for $30,963, which was down 18.63 percent from last year.

For cities collecting the maximum two-cent sales tax, Big Spring received $425,048, an increase of 13.41 percent; Fort Stockton received $176,583, up 25.08 percent; Monahans received a check for $106,992, which was down 6.54 percent from last September; Grandfalls got a $2,080 check, up 0.36 percent; and Presidio received $31,370, up 7.89 percent.

Statewide, Combs’ office sent out rebate checks totaling $303 million, up 9.14 percent from the $277.6 million sent out last year. Houston’s check of $38.6 million was up 12.61 percent from last September. Dallas’ check was next, at just under $17 million, which was up 3.77 percent from their rebate check a year ago.

Red Bluff wary of new salt removal study

Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members were wary of offering either their verbal or financial backing to a new study on removing salt from the Pecos River, following a presentation by Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher on Tuesday.

Thrasher made a presentation during the board during their regular monthly meeting in Pecos on the plan, which he said was also discussed last week during a meeting of Texas and New Mexico officials in Carlsbad. He said the goal was to get assistance with the salt removal program from the federal government, due to the damage the salt is doing at Amistad Reservoir and on the Rio Grande to the south of Del Rio.

“Thirty percent of the salt load comes in from the Pecos, and just 10 percent of the water load,” he said. “So it’s a very large contribution to the salt content, which affects both Texas and Mexico. Down the line, they will be calling on it for drinking water.”

Thrasher said the U.S. Geological Survey has agreed to do some studies. “We’ve got the State of New Mexico on board, and in Texas we are trying to find some support.”

He said a meeting was held with State Sen. Carlos Uresti, who represents most of the counties in West Texas along the Pecos River, and with State Sen. Kel Seliger, whose district also includes some counties in the Pecos River basin. “Both senators are willing to help us, but they want a resolution from this board.”

However, board members had questions for Thrasher about the resolution, and about what the resolution would do if approved.

“When I see certain things happening, I know where it’s headed,” said managing director Randal Hartman.

The board’s main concern was over the participation of Reeves County Water Improvement District board president Alan Zeman, and Michael McCullough, a member of the Pecos County WID No. 2, at the meeting with Uresti. Red Bluff board members have fought with the two in recent years over several issues, most recently earlier this year, when Zeman sent a letter to Ward County WID No. 3 president J.M. Carpenter proposing to change the Red Bluff board from an elected to an appointed position. Any change would require passage by the Texas Legislature, and no action was taken during the Legislature’s spring session. But board members were worried about their meeting with state senators, while Thrasher said neither Zeman nor McCullough were involved in the salt removal project. “This is my effort, not Mike and Alan’s,” he said. “They’re more interested in the watershed. I’m interested in cleaning up the river.”

“From the past things I’ve seen, they’re after control of this area,” Hartman said, explaining that the district did not want the Pecos River watershed south of Girvin to be included in any overall ecosystem plan. “This hasn’t been beneficial to any landowner in this drainage basin, and they just simply change their (group) name and re-attack.”

“They just seem to have an enormous amount of time and money,” board member Ava Gerke said. “None of us have the time to attend all their meetings. I feel them to be very self-serving for those two and their little handful.”

Thrasher said officials from Uresti and Seliger’s offices were the ones who requested Zeman and McCullough attend the Austin meeting. “I have no hidden agenda,” he said.

Thrasher did say that if Red Bluff supports the new study, “I’ll probably be back to ask you for funding. It’s going to cost about $1 million just for the study in Texas.”

Thrasher said Robert Joseph, the USGS’ top official in Texas, would help with the project, but Gerke later wondered if the Pecos River plan could get any federal funding in the future, in competition with projects for rivers in higher-populations areas.

Thrasher also told the board the Texas A&M Water Research Department out of El Paso would run the study, but Hartman said the same department had just completed a study of the river in Texas north of the Pecos area.

“All the studies have been done on all of it before,” Hartman said, while noting that some past recommendations and reports on Pecos River projects haven’t produced the expected results. He and other board members cited the salt cedar eradication project along the Pecos from Red Bluff Lake to Girvin, saying it has failed to bring the expected increase in water, while the removal of the trees has increased the growth of algae in the river, due to the extra sunlight.

Board members agreed to look at a resolution during their October meeting, and asked Thrasher if they could change the wording of the one he provided to the board.

“It’s your resolution, not mine,” he said. “I just think the wording needs to be where the legislature doesn’t read something into it.”

Commissioners plan tax hike despite increase in valuations

Reeves County Commissioners are considering raising the county’s tax rate for the upcoming year by three cents, and a public hearing on the plan has been scheduled for next Friday.

The increase, despite an eight percent rise in county property valuations since last year, would put the tax rate at 40 cents per $100 in valuations. Commissioners just last year dropped the rate from 40 to 37 cents, due to an even sharper increase in property valuations caused by higher oil and natural gas valuations. The first public hearing will be held at 10 a.m., on Friday, Sept. 21, at the commissioners courtroom, third floor of the courthouse.

“They need to have a public hearing if they plan to raise the tax rate,” said Reeves County Auditor Lynn Owens, while adding that the proposed 40-cent tax rate would not trigger a rollback election.

The commissioners discussed the item during a meeting held earlier this month and three of the commissioners including, precinct 1 commission Roy Alvarado; precinct 2 Gabriel Martinez and precinct 4 commissioner Ramiro Guerra approved the three cent tax hike, while commissioner precinct 3 Saul Herrera voted against it.

The current tax rate of .379545 cents per $100 in valuations was the maximum rate commissioners could set last year without triggering a tax rollback election. The new tax increase would take place despite an increase this year of about $50 million in property valuations within Reeves County.

Following next Friday’s pubic heading, a second public hearing will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the courthouse. The county’s new tax rate and budget must be set under state law before the Oct. 1 deadline.

During budget talks, commissioners have also been meeting to discuss changing the employee’s insurance to another provider, a move that Herrera once again voted against.

“I’ve talked with several people and they tell me that even if the premiums go up, they would prefer to stay with Blue Cross/Blue Shield,” said Herrera.

The item will be discussed again on Thursday afternoon at the Reeves County Courthouse.

Starnes, Roberts exchange wedding vows in church ceremony

The celebration and blessing of the marriage of Leslye Kay Starnes of Lubbock and Joseph Robert Roberts of Stephenville was held in a 4 o’clock ceremony on Saturday, June 23, at the 37th Street Church of Christ. Bill Roberts, father of the groom, officiating the double-ring ceremony. Parents of the couple are Rick and Kellye Starnes of Snyder and Bill and Donna Roberts of Pecos.

The outside entrance of the church building was decorated with pink bows and green fern and two large urns of fern.

The registry table, foyer, aisle and the front of the auditorium were all decorated with pink spider lilies, calla lilies, gladiolas, gerber daisies, roses, hydrangeas, carnations, tiger lilies, and several types of greenery. The bouquets carried by the bridal party also consisted of these flowers. Pew markers were a chiffon knot with a flower centerpiece alternating with floral arrangements in tussy mussy containers. The platform at the front of the auditorium was decorated with five white pillars connected with white chiffon draped between each pillar which was topped with large arrangements and a three-wick candle in each arrangement.

On one table in the foyer were pictures of parents and grandparents from the Starnes family and the Roberts family centered around a picture of Leslye and Joey.

Melanie Gibson and Haley Brown registered guests and gave out the programs that had a page where the couple expressed their thanks, their blessings, and also a remembrance of Gurr Crenshaw, Pappy Starnes, Pop and Mom Roberts, and Grandad Minor – their grandparents who are deceased, but who were remembered during this special time.

Music was performed by an a cappella group consisting of Jason and Jami West, of Snyder, brother-in-law and sister of the groom; Tami Harvey, of Olney, sister of the groom; and Jerry and Kelijon Nance, of Stephenville, friends of the groom.

Ushers were Chris Cox, of Stephenville, friend of the groom; Jeff Harvey of Olney, brother-in-law of the groom; Lee Moore, friend of the groom; and Charlie Turner, of Lubbock, cousin of the bride.

The bride wore a white strapless organza A-line gown with a corset bodice and metallic lace appliquÈs with a chapel train. Head piece was a silver tiara with Swarovski crystals and a white fingertip veil with a scalloped jeweled trim. A penny of the year each was born as well as a 2007 penny was secured in the bride’s shoe.

Bonnie Crenshaw and Charlene Starnes of Snyder and Dorothy Minor, of Abilene, grandmothers of the couple, were seated during the singing of “There is Love.” The mothers of the couple were escorted, lit the unity candle, and were seated during the playing “Proud,” a song written and recorded by the groom.

The bridal party consisted of Kristi Blair, of Lubbock, maid of honor and friend of the bride; Amy Turner, of Lubbock, cousin of the bride; Courtney Conner, of Lubbock, cousin of the bride; Kelbi Pitner, of Snyder, friend of the bride; Sara Simpson, of Lubbock, friend of the bride; Angela Warren, of Moore, Okla., friend of the bride; and Alison Starnes, of San Francisco, Calif., sister-in-law of the bride. Their attire was a sleeveless tea length clover green taffeta ensemble with a pink ribbon sash. Junior bridesmaid was Aleksi Taylor, of Forney, friend of the bride. Flower girl was Abby Tate, of Snyder, friend of the bride. Aleksi wore a floor length clover green dress, and Abby wore a pink dress with a green sash.

Junior groomsman was Cody Harvey, of Olney, nephew of the groom. Jaden West, of Snyder, nephew of the groom, was the ring bearer. He carried a white satin pillow made by the bride’ grandmother.

The groom and groomsmen entered the auditorium during the singing of “God Gave the Wise Men Their Wisdom.” Best man was Aaron Bailey, of Mwanza, Tanzania, Africa, friend of the groom. Serving as groomsmen were Kevin Parker of Saginaw, Ethan Clark of Midlothian, David Rains of Houston, Jason Anderson of Abilene, Nathan Knight of Abilene, all friends of the groom, and Zach Starnes, of San Francisco, Calif., brother of the bride.

The bride’s processional, “Canon in D,” was played as she was escorted down the aisle by Rick Starnes, her father, and was joined by her mother as the bride was presented to the groom at the alter. At that time, both parents of the couple joined in a circle with the bride and groom and were led in prayer by the bride’s father.

In keeping with tradition, Leslye carried with her something old – her great-grandmother MeMa’s wedding rings; something new – a piece of lace carried in her bouquet which was a gift from Mary Fleming, a life-long friend of the bride’s family; something borrowed – a silver hair barrette from her Gran Crenshaw; and something blue – a blue garter from the groom’s mother which has been worn in family weddings with engraved heart charms commemorating each date.

Joey carried with him a pocket handkerchief made by a family friend which was to be used as a wedding handkerchief for all three Roberts children.

During the ceremony Leslye and Joey said their vows to each other that they had written, and Joey sang a song he had composed to Leslye titled, “Hold My Hand and Walk Beside Me.” The couple lit the unity candle to the singing of “I Will Be Here.” Following the pronouncement of the couple, a recording of “Come and Go With Me” provided the recessional music.

A reception was held in the family center after the wedding ceremony. The bride’s cake was a five layer white cake with butter cream icing topped with a silver monogrammed “R” initial with flowers on the top layer and around the base of the cake. Servers were Heather Boyd and Brooke Cole. Emily Long served the punch.

The groom’s table was adorned with a lace tablecloth brought back from Korea by Grandad Minor after his service in the Korean War. The tablecloth, the silver coffee service and a silver candelabra used as the centerpiece have all been used in various Roberts’ family weddings and anniversary celebrations. The groom’s cake was red velvet with chocolate icing; coffee was served. Servers were Karen Cox of Stephenville and Karla Swanson of Corsicana, both friends of the groom.

Following the reception, the newlyweds left to guests ringing bells and blowing bubbles.

The groom’s parents hosted a sports-themed rehearsal dinner in the Eastside Church of Christ multi-purpose building. Following the dinner a slide show was presented of special moments during the courtship of the couple. Also during the evening Jaden West and Cody Harvey, both nephews of the groom, sang “My Girl” to Leslye.

The morning of the wedding a bridal brunch was held in the home of Glenn and Janeen Patterson, hosted by Janeen Patterson and Carla Allen. Following a honeymoon trip to New York City, the couple resides in Stephenville.

Leslye, a 2001 graduate of Snyder High School, holds a bachelor’s degree from Lubbock Christian University in elementary education. She teaches pre-kindergarten for Santo ISD.

Joey holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a master’s degree in digital media from Abilene Christian University and is the sports information director for Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

Lions Club schedules fundraiser

The Pecos Downtown Lions Club is holding a fundraiser.

The group will be taking orders for Krispy Kreme Doughtnuts, which will be delivered on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Individuals can place their order with any club member and the doughnuts are $8 per dozen of glazed doughtnuts.

Orders can also be called in at 445-9444 and ask for Armando.

PSAT test sign-ups underway

The PSAT/NMSQT test will be offered on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Pecos High School.

Fee is $13 and registration deadline is scheduled for Oct. 1.

The test is offered to all sophomores and juniors.

The PSAT can be the first step on the road to college: practice for the SAT; assess your skills in three areas, critical reading, mathematics and writing skills; enter scholarship competitions (juniors: National Merit Scholarship); ask colleges to send you information and compare your academic skills with other students who are considering college.

Lions Club seeks dollars for doughnuts

The Pecos Downtown Lions Club is holding a fundraiser.

The group will be taking orders for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, which will be delivered on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Individuals can place their order with any club member and the doughnuts are $8 per dozen of glazed doughnuts.

Orders can also be called in at 445-9444 and ask for Armando.

Pecos KG needs campus volunteers

Pecos Kindergarten is looking for volunteers for their Campus Improvement Council including parents, community and business representatives.

For more information, call Robert Garrett, principal, at 432-447-7596 or 448-7985.

WWW Pecos Enterprise

Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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