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for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Council hears latest proposal for sewage plant construction

Pecos City Council members took another step towards beginning work on improving the city’s sewer and wastewater treatment systems on Thursday, during their regular council meeting at City Hall.

Council members approved final plans for the city’s sewer improvement project, and heard a presentation from two engineering firms seeking the contract to construct a new wastewater treatment plans on Collie Road. Both projects have been mandated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which said the city’s current system does not meet state standards.

Engineers Frank Spencer, of Frank Spencer & Associates of El Paso, and Raul Garcia, with Garcia & Wright of San Antonio, made a joint presentation to the council on their plans for replacing the current 27-year-old wastewater treatment plant just east of the city limits. Spencer also talked to the council about the plans for repair and replacement of sewer lines on the east side of town, telling council members the plans are ready to begin the grant application process.

He said the project calls for replacing about 45,000 feet (8.5 miles) of six, eight and 12-inch sewer lines which will include the installation of 124 new manholes and two new lift stations.

“We found out some of the existing lines have very minimal slopes, which don’t meet TCEQ regulations,” Spencer told the council.

He said bids on the project are for materials only, and include the pipe, fiberglass manhole covers and lift station equipment. City crews will handle the actual construction of the new lines.

On the planned wastewater treatment plant, Thursday’s presentation was the latest of several to the council by firms seeking the contract. Spencer noted his work with the city on projects since the early 1980s, while Garcia outlined his work in designing sewage treatment facilities for other cities in South Texas.

Spencer said he has worked with the city on around 140 projects since 1983, including the most recent large project, the construction of the new South Worsham Water Field. “We worked on it for 12 years before it took place,” he said. “I’m proud of the project, and that we were able to do it for $1.4 million less, which allowed us to do several other projects, including refurbishing of the city’s large storage tanks.”

“We are convinced the city needs to do something about the treatment plant, instead of just putting a band-aid on it,” said Spencer, adding that improvements to the city’s east side sewer lines will increase the flow into the plant, which could in turn lead to overburdening the current system.

Garcia went over three options for the city to consider for the new plant, and said he a favored a “carousel” system, in which rotating blades are used to aerate the sewage, before the mixture is separated into sludge and clean water components. He proposed a twin carousel system, in which one of the two units would always be in operation while the other would help out during periods of heavier flow into the system.

He said the system could handle about 1.4 million gallons a day, and that an ultraviolet disinfection system would be used in place of a more expensive chlorination process. Councilman Danny Rodriguez asked Garcia about ways to eliminate the sewage smell coming from the current plant, that has plagued the east side of Pecos. Garcia said the smell comes from heavy materials, which can be screened out of the sewage and into plastic bags for landfill disposal, which would eliminate the odor from outside of the immediate area of the plant.

Spencer said the two firms have worked in the past at helping to acquire grants and low-interest loans for infrastructure projects. City utilities director Edgardo Madrid said the Texas Water Development Board was estimating the cost of this project at about $6.75 million, but added, “If we don’t need the money, we don’t have to use it.”

Harris told Airlawn site’s alcohol sale plans OK

A zoning ordinance waiver is not needed to sell certain alcoholic beverages from a building on the south end of the Airlawn Shopping Center, Town of Pecos City Council members were told during their regular meeting on Thursday at City Hall.

The council was told no new action was needed on a request by Dr. Norman Harris to allow beer or wine sales from the former Pizza Pro drive-through window in the Airlawn Center, at Eddy and Walthall streets. City attorney Scott Johnson said the sales were legal under a 10-year-old zoning change granted by the council and the zoning board of adjustment.

Harris talked to the council in January about allowing off-premises alcohol sales, after a request to the current zoning board resulted in a 2-2 deadlock. He said drive-through sno-cone outlets in the Midland Odessa area have sold frozen alcohol flavored items, and “I’ve been approached by some people to put that operation in, that’s why I’m petitioning for the change. “

He said the store would also sell, beer, wine and cigarettes, and may also have a check cashing service operating out of the drive-through window on Walthall Street. Council members asked Johnson to look at the current zoning law for the site, after councilman Gerald Tellez said Pizza Pro had been granted a permit to sell beer from that drive-through window.

“The end result is he can sell beer and a wine frozen mixture,” Johnson said. “The Alcoholic Beverage Commission talked to him, and he can do it, as long as he has a license.”

He added that the zoning does not allow for mixed drink sales under the current permit from the Airlawn site.

City laws prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a school or church, but city building inspector Jack Brookshire said measurements taken in 1997 showed the window to be more than 300 feet from Pecos High School.

La Tienda Thriftway was denied a waiver to sell beer and wine in their store, located at the north end of the Airlawn Shopping Center, in 1997, due to its proximity to West Park Baptist Church, but was granted the waiver two years later by the Pecos City Council.

Two ordinance changes that did gain approval Thursday involved the second reading of the rural commercial trash collection rates for the Town of Pecos City, and the abandonment of 10 feet of right-of-way on the south side of Madison Street, west of Texas Street, in order to prepare for new home construction.

Town of Pecos City Utilities Director Edgardo Madrid said the abandonment on the south side of the road would allow new homes to be built closer to the street while still leaving 10 feet of space for the installation of utilities. He said city rules requiring homes to be at least 25 feet back from the street would have caused new home of the south side of Madison to be pushed too far towards the rear of their lots.

“I told Edgardo to make sure no other utilities need that land,” said Johnson, before conducting the first reading of the ordinance. The change will become law after a second reading later this month.

The second reading of the trash collection rates set those changes into law. The monthly rates, and the cost for additional weekly pick-ups, were set by the council last month, and are based on distances of between one and seven miles outside the city limits.

In other action, the council was given an update on the first month of landfill operations under the control of the city, and approved purchase of a used roll-off truck and roll-off bin for the city.

The city took over operations of the landfill from Duncan Disposal on Jan. 1, and Madrid told council members that the numbers they had been given by Duncan on average monthly tonnage for the Type 1 and Type 4 pits were in line with the data they compiled in January. He said the city collected an average of19.69 tons of solid waste per day for the Type 1 landfill last month, and 22.75 tons for the Type 4 pit. The city is only allowed to average 20 tons per day each year on the pits, and Madrid told the council last month they expected to have to make at least one trip a month to the Charter regional landfill in Ector County to handle excess Type 1 refuse.

“The reason we were below 20 tons is it’s not summer season,” he said, while the excess trash in the Type 4 pit for January was due to the city’s demolition of condemned buildings. “As our crews get into other projects and the number of demolitions goes down, that will go down,” he said.

Mayor Dick Alligood said the city in near an agreement with Reeves County for use of Reeves County Jail inmates to help with in-town clean-up projects, and asked Madrid if the addition of those crews would cause any problems with a 20-ton per day limits.

“The only way we can do it is to monitor the tonnage we’re disposing,” he said, while estimating how much additional waste would be created by the added clean-up efforts. Madrid said city sanitation director Martin Arreguy had recommended the city buy a 1994 roll-off truck and bin, in order to keep the purchase cost below the $100,000 ceiling set by the council. He said Coyote Environmental was asking for $61,093 for the used equipment, about $35,000 less than a new vehicle, and the remaining funds from the $100,000 budget could be used to make improvements in vehicle storage facilities at the landfill.

Councilman Frank Sanchez said he was concerned about the lack of a warranty on the used vehicle. Madrid said Arreguy went to Burleson to test drive the vehicle, and said he was confident it would not have any major repair problems.

Commissioners get Balmorhea Center update

Reeves County Commissioners discussed plans for the new Balmorhea Community Center and the status of non-exempt employees at the Reeves County Detention Center, during their regular meeting, held Monday morning at the Reeves County Courthouse. Commissioners went over several items, including tentative construction plans for the long-delayed Balmorhea Civic Center, for which funding was approved and budgeted during the budget meetings held in September of last year.

Architect Lorraine Dailey, with Dailey, Rabke and Gondeck, was on hand to talk to the commissioners about the construction and the plans for the facility, which will be located on State Highway 17/Business I-10 and Mill Street.

“It’s a small and pretty simple project,” said Dailey. “The construction company all the construction work and the county will do the paving.

She said that the building will have a lot of windows, which will bring in a lot of natural light and will include four offices, two main offices and two support offices.

“There will be a small storage room and if all the proposals are under the guaranteed maximum price, the county will have some money left over and then you can do what you want with it, add some things or include something you might think of,” said Dailey. She added that the plans are 90 percent completed.

“What if we wanted to make some changes?” asked county judge Sam Contreras.

“That won’t be a problem, unless you want to add square footage,” said Dailey.

The commissioners approved the plans for the construction, all except for commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado.

In other action, commissioners approved payment to Howard’s Mechanical for some construction work done at the Reeves County Detention Center, but agreed to withhold some of the funds, upon the advice of the architect.

“When I did the final inspection of the roofing, the top coating was peeling off,” said Dailey. “I decided to wait and come back a few weeks later to see if it had improved or they had repaired it.”

She said she talked with construction manager and talked by mail to the manufacturer. “They believe that the roof wasn’t clean enough, when they installed the new one,” said Dailey, who said that because of the winds and other debris floating around, the roof must have gotten dirty.

“They recommended that we remove the last coat, but we can’t do that until the temperature stabilizes,” she said.

Dailey said that she recommended that they withhold $30,000 of the payment owed to Howard’s until the roof is repaired.

“The cost to repair it is $14,000, but I would prefer that we withhold the $30,000, until it gets done right,” said Dailey.

The commissioners ended up approving a payment to Howard’s in the amount of $33,700 but withheld $30,000 of that total until the roof is repaired.

Also approved was a status change for employees at the Reeves County Detention Center I and II.

“We have some exempt employees that are currently not receiving overtime pay,” said Reeves County Detention Center administrative employee LeeAnn Lopez.

She said that currently these employees are exempt, but that under DOL rules that status will be changed.

“They did some revisions and recommended these positions be paid hourly and eligible for overtime,” said Lopez.

The status change would be made for February. “They can go back as far as two years if they want, but for now it will begin in February,” said Lopez.

County Auditor Lynn Owens said that they currently don’t have the CAR 5 and CAR 6 contracts, which are the agreements between the county and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for housing inmates at the prison’s two older units.

“I have the CAR 6 contract in my office, but I don’t have the CAR 5,” said Contreras. “We have to have those contracts before we can approve the status changes,” said Owens.

“We need to look at those closely and put them on the next agenda,” said Contreras.

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