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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sign-ups start slowly for May’s local elections

Signups began slowly this week, for the May 12 elections for city, school and hospital boards, with only one candidate filing locally in the first 3 1/2 days of the one-month registration period.

Three of five seats on the Town of Pecos City Council, two of five on the Reeves County Hospital District board, and four of the seven seats on the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board are up for election in May, with filing deadline in all races except for one school board seat continuing through March 12.

Sign-ups also started Monday for city elections in Barstow, Toyah and Balmorhea, as well as for the Balmorhea ISD board, and also run though March 12.

Town of Pecos City elections two years ago also failed to draw much interests. Incumbents Danny Rodriguez, Gerald Tellez and Frank Sanchez were unopposed in winning new two-year terms in office. All three are again up for election in May, but as of Thursday morning, city secretary Crissy Barraza said no one had filed for the May 12 race.

In the Reeves County Hospital Board elections, board president Linda Gholson has turned in her application to run for Precinct 2. Gholson also ran unopposed to years ago in her bid for a new two-year term, as did Precinct 4 representative Pablo Carrasco, whose term also expires this May.

Candidates for hospital board have until 5 p.m., March 12, to turn in applications with Nadine Smith at the Reeves County Hospital.

School board elections will consist of three, 3-year terms and a 2-year unexpired term, left vacant by Amy Miller who moved to Lubbock last fall, after winning re-election to a new three-year term in May of 2006.

The other terms up for election are currently held by board president Lila Cerna, board members, Bubba Williams and Crissy Martinez.

When they pick up a packet, they have to indicate which positions they want to run for. Deadline to file for Miller’s unexpired term is 5 p.m., on March 6, while the deadline to file for the full 3-year terms is 5 p.m., March 12, with superintendent secretary Tracy Shaw. The filing difference is due to the election for the unexpired term being considered as a special election, Shaw said.

“Both will be on the same ballot, but one will be for the general election and the unexpired will be named special election,” she said.

The school office at 1302 S. Park St., will be open on Monday, March 12, even though it is Spring Break for P-B-T students and classes will not be in session. On Tuesday, March 13, candidates will draw for a position on the ballot and the office will again be open on that day.

Chamber readies for banquet, seeks Golden Girl nominees

Chamber of Commerce Women’s Division will be busy next week decorating for the Annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.

The banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Reeves County Civic Center and tickets are still on sale for $15 and can be purchased at the chamber of commerce office.

“The women will be doing the decorating and the event will be catered by Old Mill,” Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gholson told members during their monthly meeting on Tuesday at the Pecos Senior Center.

She said that theme for that evening will be “Mardi Gras,” and that the junior high students are making masks and other decorations for that evening.

New State Senator Carlos Uresti will be the guest speaker at the annual banquet. Awards for 2006, including the Citizen of the Year honor, will also be announced during the event. The Women’s Division reported that Golden Girl signups are still continuing until Tuesday, Feb. 20, and packets can be picked up at the chamber office, 111 S. Cedar. “Any junior girl at the high school can participate and are welcome to come pick up a packet,” said Gholson. “If you know of any junior girl, let them know and encourage them to participate,” she said.

Little Miss Cantaloupe nominee signups have not been scheduled yet.

“Those signups will be held at a later date,” said Gholson.

The Reeves County Health Fair has been scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at the Reeves County Hospital.

“We need volunteers to help out on that date,” said Gholson.

The health fair will be held from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Manny Espino reported to the group that they have done several “walk-throughs” at the different campuses to determine their needs, while preparing for a possible bond election to fund campus improvements.

“When I first got here, they told me there were some things that they wanted us to look at,” said Espino, who added that meetings have been held between the administration, school board, a campus improvement committee and Monte Hunter, architect with Hunter and Corral.

“Monte has been working with the district for several years and knows all of the campuses really well,” said Espino. “He came up with a needs assessment and we formed a committee of community members to help us with this project.”

He said that members of the committee have been doing the walk-throughs with the board. “They might see something that we missed or something that they would like to see added at that particular campus,” said Espino.

Espino said that he would be proving more information as the project progressed. Board members will be meet at 6 p.m., Thursday at the Technology Center and discuss the facility assessment update.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done,” said Espino. “One of the main things that I looked at was the need for bigger libraries,” he said.

He also told Chamber members that he wanted to congratulate several district personnel who have received major awards this part year.

“Jodi Exum, technology coordinator, was named Technology Coordinator of the year in state competition and the district’s trainer, Joel Birch, was named Regional Trainer of the Year,” said Espino.

He said that other personnel had received major awards earlier in the year and congratulated them as well.

Sub-district plan would end Red Bluff elections

Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members took no action on a request for funds to help with removal of vegetation regrowth along the Pecos River, and tabled any action on a response to a move by one of the seven sub-districts to change Red Bluff’s board from an elected to an appointed position, during their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday in Pecos.

Board members also finalized the 2007 water sales at the same price and release levels as in 2006, while taking no action following an executive session on personnel, as part of the 75-minute meeting.

Ava Gerke, Ward County Water Irrigation District No. 3 representative on the board, presented a letter from Alan Zeman, president of Reeves County Water Improvement District No. 2, to Red Bluff board members during the meeting. The letter, dated, Jan. 31 and sent to WCWID No. 3 president J.M. Carpenter, outlined the plans by the Reeves County board to seek the change, which would require action by the Texas Legislature. The letter notes that Legislature created Red Bluff in the 1930s and provided for the election of one Red Bluff director from each of the seven existing districts that created Red Bluff. But it goes on to note recent problems between the board and the sub-districts, including the legal fight in 2004 over seating representatives from WCWID No. 3 and WCWID No. 1, after they changed their status from improvement to irrigation districts.

Red Bluff claimed the change created unequal representation due to differing rules on voting eligibility in each district, but abandoned its legal fight in 2005 after a ruling in favor of its position in 143rd District Court was overturned on appeal.

Zeman’s letter cited the lack of contested races for the Red Bluff seats, and the board’s ability to appoint replacements for vacancies without consultation with the sub-districts. “As we have seen several times in recent years, vacancies on the Red Bluff Board have significantly affected its ability to carry on important business and future planning on behalf of our districts and landowners,” he said.

“Our proposed legislation would maintain the core principle of representation for each member district on the Red Bluff Board, but provide that each Red Bluff director be appointed by the board of the member district he or she represents, and serve at the pleasure of that board,” Zeman wrote. “That change would provide for direct representation of the seven member districts on the Red Bluff Board. A district could appoint its current Red Bluff board member to continue to serve in that capacity, or could appoint one of its own directors also to serve as its Red Bluff Board representative.”

The letter prompted a response in opposition from Ward County Water Improvement District No. 2, on which action was also tabled. It said an elected board produced better representation than an appointed board. “Appointment by the lower District Board to the Red Bluff Board would make the appointed board member solely responsible to that Board, not to the citizens of the lower District.”

The letter said Red Bluff’s by-laws on filling board vacancies could be changed without legislation to allow for more consultation on appointments by the sub-district involved. It also charged that the action was related to an effort by landowners to sell Pecos River water rights back to New Mexico.

Zeman, who arrived at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, denied that there ever was an effort to sell Texas water rights granted under the Pecos River Compact back to New Mexico. He also said no request has been made as of now to the Legislature to end the election of red Bluff board members.

If approved, the change would allow current elected members from the sub-districts to serve on the Red Bluff board. Current state law barring persons from serving in two elected positions at once forced Dick Slack to resign his position on the Red Bluff board last year, after being appointed Reeves County Attorney in November of 2005.

The request for funds to spray regrowth along the Pecos River was made by Michael McCullough, a member of the Pecos County WID 2 board. He said areas that were among the first to be sprayed as part of the Pecos River salt cedar eradication program are beginning to see new seedlings return along the banks of the river.

Red Bluff board members last year approved allotting $75,000 towards a Pecos Forest Service plan to burn the dead salt cedars along the river, to prevent them from being washed downstream in the event of a major flood. McCullough said he was part of a group seeking to acquire a $104,000 grant for the project, and noted that “Since the board already has gotten a commitment for the burn, you can shift $75,000 from the burn to the spraying.” “As far as I know, it isn’t a done deal,” said Red Bluff member Ysidro Renteria of the spraying plans, while Gerke said. “They were talking about it being around $1 million … $104,000 doesn’t sound as if it would even do 15 miles of it.”

Gerke suggested any spraying should be done after the burn, and that the plan for new spraying “isn’t something we can agree to when there’s so many loose ends.” “We should just wait and see what we can do,” said managing director Randall Hartman. “We can’t say ‘no’ and we can’t say ‘yes’. We have to wait until we have more information.”

The water release plans for 2007 were discussed during the board’s January meeting, and approval was given on that decision during Tuesday’s meeting. Red Bluff will allot 25,000 acre/feet of water for farmers in the seven sub-districts this year, at a cost of $6 an acre/foot. The allotment will require release of about 50,000 acre/feet of water from Red Bluff Lake, due to evaporation and other water losses downstream between the lake and the Pecos River. The board was told the lake currently has 105,000 acre/feet of water. Hartman noted the northern areas of the Pecos River basin have seen a lot of winter snowfall this year, which could turn into spring runoff. “There’s a chance we may get some in the latter part of March,” he said.

Change crafted for Wal-Mart under review

Plans to do away with the crafts department located inside the local Wal-Mart are still not concrete, the manager of the Pecos store said this week.

“We had heard from the corporate office that they wanted us to do away with that department two months ago,” said Wal-Mart Manager Tony Currie. “But now they are re-thinking that and don’t know yet if that’s what they want to do with that area.”

The store’s crafts area is popular with local families in need of supplies both for their own use and for student school projects. However, Currie said that two months ago they were contacted and told that that department wouldn’t be there any longer and instead they were going to convert it into a “celebration center.”

“They wanted us to fill that space up with party goods and build that department up,” said Currie. “We don’t have that in writing though.”

He said that the corporate office is re-thinking that and hasn’t come up with a solution yet. “It’s not written in stone, so we don’t know what will happen to that area,” he said.

“When they make that decision, we’ll let everyone know,” said Currie.

Currie said that they had been told that they were looking at the future and that fabrics and crafts would not be as big. “They just didn’t think that area would be as big and had thought about doing away with all that,” he said.

However, Currie said that they are still receiving merchandise for that area and everything is coming along as usual.

Oronas celebrate fourth birthday

Amrie and Arianne Orona celebrated their fourth birthday on Saturday, Feb. 7, at their grandmother’s home.

Theme for the special event was “Tinker bell.”

Guests were served hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos and “Tinkerbell” cake.

The twins received many gifts and family and friends were on hand to help with the celebration.

They are the daughters of Sarah and Catarino Orona of Odessa.

Area students make Dean’s List

The Dean’s List for the 2006 Fall Semester has been announced at Angelo State University in San Angelo.

The honorees include the following from the Pecos area: Sarah K. Lee, Vanessa S. Valeriano and K.W. Winkles.

To be eligible for the Dean’s List, students must be enrolled full-time and maintain a 3.25 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

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