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Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Balmorhea center land donation get OK


Staff Writer

Balmorhea is a step closer in getting a community center, following action taken at Monday morning's regular Reeves County Commissioners Court meeting.

Commissioners approved donation of land by the Balmorhea Independent School District to be used as the site for the new facility.

"I met with the school officials in Balmorhea, Thursday night and we talked about this property," said commissioner precinct 3 Herman Tarin.

"Everyone is very excited about this, and we had approved $150,000 towards a community center in Balmorhea," said Tarin. The building will double as a senior citizen center.

The property in question is located south of the school property on San Angelo Street in Balmorhea.

"Some of the land belongs to the city and maybe we can make it into a community Balmorhea park," said Tarin.

He told commissioners they have received a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife for a kid park. "And Miss Dailey (architect of the Reeves County Detention Center) will be helping with the specs and plans," said Tarin.

"We're just looking for a certified appraiser to look at the land and submit it to the Parks and Wildlife," said Tarin. "We have met with some city officials and they agreed to maintain the building and provide water and sewer."

Tarin told commissioners that there are no more houses in that area, just farmland.

"That old easement could be developed into a nice hike and bike trail," said county judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

"Everything is looking good, the city and the school are being very cooperative," said Tarin.

Lorraine Dailey, with Rabke, Dailey and Gondeck, Architects, outlined plans for the facility.

"We looked at how much money we had available and designed a facility that would meet the needs of the community," said Dailey. "It'll have a large meeting room, a kitchen and a support system, bathrooms, closets and such.

"We also included a porch, a nice-shaded entrance, that could be a gathering point and meeting area," said Dailey. "There's a lot we could do in the front, and a metal building will be located in the back."

Dailey stated that she has spoken to Banes General Contractors, which is currently working on the Reeves County Detention Center project. They have estimated their cost at about $300,000 plus a $30,000 contingency.

Balmorhea resident Mark Marmillion, stated that there had been a political meeting held in Balmorhea on Sunday in the downtown area. "Maybe, this facility could be used for this, host more events like that," he said.

"The use and user policies will be determined after that, but it will be much like the civic center here," said Galindo.

"I think everyone will agree that we need a community center there in Balmorhea," said Tarin. "Everyone is excited and we appreciate the court for their support on this issue."

Tarin stated that he was hoping the court would approve the donation of the building and description of the property during Monday's meeting. "When we have the more definite plans we'll bring it back to the commissioners court for an update," he said.

"We just wanted to make you all aware that we are working on it," said Tarin.

"We want to let the school know we're working with them, a demonstration of our willingness to work with the school and accept the donation," said Galindo.

In other action, golf course proposed policies for the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD were amended slightly at the regular meeting, per request of the coaches at the schools.

The first amendment requested really needed no changes, according to commissioner precinct 2 David Castillo. "This is already implemented in there and requires no real changes," he said.

The request was that golf players be allowed to play year-round, according to Castillo. "There's no change needed, the only request we have is that we get a list of the golf team members," he said.

The second amendment requested was that coaches be allowed to play at the Reeves County Golf Course with only one student or more, during the school year.

The old rule had been that a golf coach had to have five students in order to play at the course without being charged.

"But now they want it to read that they be allowed to be out there with only one student," said recreation department manager Nora Geron. "Sometimes they don't have a big team and can't get five students at one time, together to out and practice."

Geron stated that up until two years ago, the girl's team didn't even have five players on their team.

"The new amendment will be that a coach employed by the P-B-T ISD can go out there with only one student, except on Sundays, during the school year and not in the summer," said Geron. "There is no summer golf anyway."

Commissioners approved the two amendments.

In addition, golf tournaments were approved for the Pecos High School girls and Pecos junior high school teams, along with the women's and men's association golf tournaments.

The group also met with members of the Pecos Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to discuss operations at the Reeves County Civic Center.

Chamber members had met previously to come up with a proposal to bring to the commissioners. Both parties agreed that the chamber would be in charge of the booking operations at the center and the county would take over the disbursement of the bills.

Red Bluff board accepts bid for dam's gates


Staff Writer

At least one portion of the Red Bluff Dam rehabilitation project won't be necessary, Red Bluff Water Power Control District board members were told at their Monday meeting.

Rick Shoemaker of HDR Engineering said workers won't have to remove the carbon steel pipe in the outflow tunnel on the west side of the dam, because thanks to years of exposure to the Pecos River's salty water, it's not there anymore. "The steel pipe is completely corroded out of the tunnel," he said during a presentation to the board. "The only thing left is the remnants of the steel support posts."

The report came before board members agreed to pay just under $100,000 for two stainless steel gates to replace the ones currently in place at the 64-year-old dam north of Orla.

Shoemaker's report was based on trips through the tunnel he and divers from Stolt-Comex-Seaway Inc. have made over the past four weeks inspecting the inside areas, in preparation for the replacement of the dam's gates next winter. He said the money spent for the inspection was worth the effort, due to "some of the most severe corrosion I've seen in 20 years."

That included a missing guide on the west gate of the dam, the only workable gate Red Bluff has right now to hold and release water downstream to farmers along the Pecos River.

The east gate of the dam is seized shut due to rusting, Shoemaker said while displaying photos of the inside of the dam. That has preserved the pipe inside, but it too is severely rusted.

On the west gate, "The side is completely sheered off on the right hand side. The only think holding the gate together was the stem and the left-hand gate."

He said a temporary guide has been put in and bolted to the tunnel wall, "In order to get you through the next irrigation season."

"We're lucky in the shape it's in it didn't get locked open or shut," said Red Bluff General Manager Jim Ed Miller.

Shoemaker did say that components of pipe within the dam that were made of stainless steel, "are in excellent condition," which helped convince board members to go with the stainless steel gate option when they voted on the bids.

Both gates at the dam will be replaced in between late October and early April of 2001, and the bids came in at about 33 percent below the estimated cost, Shoemaker said.

Waterman Industries, which has an office in Lubbock but is located in California, bid $97,470 for fabricating the 42 inch gate for the west side of the dam and the 48-inch gate for the east side. That was $50,000 less than the bid by Rodney Hunt, the Massachusetts-based company HDR used originally to estimate the cost for replacing the gates on the dam. Waterman's bid includes a 24-week installation period, while Rodney Hunt had a 30 week estimate for gate installation.

Waterman also bid $77,505 for a second option of a nickel-steel gate, with a 16-week period to install, while Rodney Hunt bid $105,989 with a 20-week installation period. But based on reports by Shoemaker that the nickel-steel material already inside the dam has shown signs of rust, board members voted for the stainless steel option.

Aside from the rusting problems, Shoemaker said some sections of concrete inside the dam was crumbling and might need some fixing.

"The erosion in the concrete tunnels could be serious, but since you're not using the power pin stocks above (for the since-removed electric generating turbines in the dam), it's not handling a big load on it," Shoemaker said.

While the work on replacing the dam's gates is scheduled for the period when water is not released downstream, Red Bluff board president Randall Hartman suggested during the water allotment portion of the meeting that water users downstream should be notified about the end-of-year work coming up.

The board set October 15 as the cutoff date, with the first releases of 2001 expected on April 15. "We need to tell them the cutoff date is permanent, with no exceptions," Hartman said. He also said the notice should tell farmers the reopening date in 2001 is subject to completion of the project.

As far as the water allotment for 2000, the board will not make an official determination and set water rates until their March meeting. But with 87,000 acre/feet in Red Bluff Lake as of the first of the month, board member Manuel Lujan said, "I think we can safely allot 35,000 acre/feet."

Board reviews salt removal proposals


Staff Writer

Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members discussed two ideas for salt alleviation in the Pecos River that may or may not be competing against each other, during their regular monthly meeting Monday in Pecos.

The first, a plan by United Salt Company to divert aquifer water away from the river to their lake east of Loving, N.M., was greeted warily by some board members concerned about the transfer of 1,000 acre/feet of water rights from Red Bluff under the proposal.

The second, by Albert Wagner of Loving Salt Co., would divert water from Malaga Bend into six man-made ponds Wagner is seeking to building near Loving. Board members discussed ongoing delays in securing land for the ponds, and were told the deal should be finalized within four months. They then discussed outlines for a contract with Wagner.

Loving Salt's presentation came after the board heard from Jeff McCartney, geological consultant for United Salt Co., and Tim Kelly, another company consultant working for Geohydrology Associates of Albuquerque, N.M. They outlined plans to drill extraction wells into the brine aquifer of Nash Draw in the vicinity of Laguna de Sal.

United wants to extract salt from that location for its facility, which at the same time would lower the salt levels reaching the Pecos River from the aquifer, McCartney said in his presentation. One test well has been drilled, and the company wants to expand its tests over the next several years.

The questions from the board and its attorney, Tim Brown, came in regards to the request made by United Salt for a water credit of 1,000 acre/feet per year over what the company suggested was a five-year time period.

"If, after this trial period, we have not shown that our project has decreased the salinity of the Pecos River, will relinquish the water rights credit," McCartney said in his prepared statement.

Kelly explained "The river has so much salt in it because of artesian pressure. The water is being forced into the river. He said a similar process occurs in the Syracuse, N.Y. area, where water flows over underground salt deposits and into Onondaga Lake.

Kelly said the pumping could lower the pressure on the brine aquifer trying to enter the river, and could result in as much as a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the Pecos River's salt levels.

Brown questioned the need for the water rights credit. "As I understand it, the project is entirely in New Mexico. Why should Texas have to give up anything for your project?" he asked.

"My understanding is New Mexico is bound by contract to deliver so much water to Texas," McCartney said. He said the company was asking that Texas agree not to acquire the 1,000 acre/feet of water that United Salt would take out of the aquifer that would not enter the Pecos River.

"Anything that happens in New Mexico due to acts of man should be New Mexico's water, not Texas'," Brown said. "The problem is they're trying to think of all the ways they can come up with to reduce their liability at the state line."

"We're talking apples and oranges here," Red Bluff board member Lloyd Goodrich told Brown. "You're talking about water and we're talking about salt. I'm quite willing to pay water for salt (reductions)."

"The State of New Mexico buys up water rights up there and leases it to farmers. They can certainly pick up 1,000 acres of water rights, lease it for a couple of years and see if it works out," said Red Bluff General Manager Jim Ed Miller.

Miller also suggested United Salt work its leases on an annual basis, instead of on a five-year basis.

"I have no problem with them taking water. I just don't see them charging us with it," said board president Randall Hartman."

McCartney also said the project would not affect Red Bluff's plans to pump salt water from Malaga Bend for use by Loving Salt. "This is supposed to be a stand-alone project. It's not going to take anything away from him," he said, referring to Wagner.

However, Miller later in the meeting told the board United Salt was behind efforts to block the city of Carlsbad to sell land to Wagner for building the salt retention ponds.

Wagner in turn said United Salt's plan might not work, if the salt closes up around the wells, leaving the aquifer water to simply move around the pumps towards the Pecos River.

Red Bluff officials were approached last year by Pecos River Compact Commissioner J.W. Thrasher about United Salt's plan, but were wary of dealing with the company because of past problems. Miller said at the time that United Salt backed out of a previous salt alleviation agreement with the district, and that the new plan came only after Red Bluff entered into its deal with Wagner.

Wagner said United Salt's latest action has caused a four-month delay and could force Carlsbad to go through a bidding process to sell the land. "We're getting together more stuff for the city, and we may not have to go through bidding, but when it's going to get done I don't know," he told the board.

He added the company is looking at other land on which to build the ponds if the current deal falls through.

Under the agreement discussed between Miller and Wagner on Monday. Red Bluff would own the lease and permit where the well at Malaga Bend would be drilled, while Loving Salt would drill the well and provide the equipment. Wagner hopes to pump about 600 acre/feet a year from the spring, and the agreement provides for not more than 645 acre/feet annually to be pumped.

Wagner would pay for operation of the well and would pay the district 50 cents a ton for what he sells. Red Bluff would give Loving Salt three acre/feet of fresh water rights, to use to clean equipment upstream, and the district could not enter into a new pumping agreement for a year after terminating its contract with Wagner.

Miller said lawyers for Red Bluff and Loving Salt hoped to have the contract worked out by the next board meeting on March 13, and the contract is subject to Wagner acquiring the property for the ponds by June 15, though Miller said that date could be extended.

Crash blamed for Saturday's power outage


Staff Writer

About 300 Pecos residents lost their electricity Saturday evening, due to a vehicle accident on Balmorhea Highway.

"A vehicle lost control and hit a power line pole, with one of the main circuits," said Tommy Terry, planner-scheduler for Texas-New Mexico Power Company.

The accident knocked out the power to about 300 customers on the west side of town for a short period of time, according to Terry.

"Some had the power out for a little better than an hour, while others didn't get any power back until 11:15 p.m.," said Terry.

The accident occurred about 7:30 p.m., on Balmorhea Highway. The vehicle broke the pole, which then landed in the back of the pickup with electricity still flowing through the attached lines. "There were so many people out at the accident site, we went ahead and killed the power out, until we could make sure it was safe," Terry said.

About 6-7 employees were working on the problem that evening, according to Terry.

"We want to warn people and bystanders, who might be involved in accidents with power lines, that the individual in the vehicle might want to stay there until we arrive," he said. "Also, bystanders should not go near the vehicle in these cases, because power surges might still be active."

When accidents happen with power lines, it creates an even more dangerous situation, because of the electricity that keeps flowing, according to Terry.

"That's why we cut the power off, for the safety of everyone around, the emergency personnel helping the victim and bystanders who were around the vehicle," said Terry.

"We want them to wait until our crew, from the electric company arrives to make sure that it's safe to approach the vehicle," said Terry. "It could have been a far worse situation, because all this stuff was still energized," said Terry.

Terry cautions anybody witnessing an accident or being in one, involving utility poles or electricity to please stay away from the vehicle or to remain inside the vehicle, until the electric company can assess the situation and make sure it's safe.

Little League meeting planned Thursday night

The Pecos Little League and Senior League will hold a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Saragosa Hall on East Sixth Street.

League president Tony Aguilar said all coaches and anyone interested in becoming a coach for the upcoming baseball season should attend the meeting. Sign-ups and tryouts for the 2000 Little League, Junior League and Senior League seasons will take place in March.

AUSTIN (AP) — Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers drawn: 11-22-26-33-39. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $78,903. Winning ticket sold in: Houston. Matching four of five: 287. Prize: $412.


AUSTIN (AP) — The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 3-3-7 (three, three, seven)

Ramon Garcia

Ramon Garcia, 82, of Pecos, died Sunday, Feb. 13, 2000, at Reeves County Hospital.

A rosary is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., today at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, at Santa Rosa Catholic Church with burial in Greenwood Cemetery.

He was born March 4, 1917, in Chihuahua, Mexico, was retired and a Catholic.

Survivors include two step-sons, Cosme Valenzuela of Odessa and Eliacer Valenzuela of Ojinaga, Mexico; two step-daughters, Josefa Cordava of Terravella, Calif. and Bertha Valenzuela of Pecos; one brother, Jose Moreno Garcia of Pecos; one sister, Ramona Uribe of California and 28 grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Evelyn Rose Dinwiddie

Evelyn Rose Dinwiddie, 80, of Jal, N.M., died Monday, Feb. 14, 2000, in a Lubbock Hospital.

Services will be at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Methodist Church in Jal, N.M. Burial will be in the Cooper Cemetery, north of Jal.

She was born Oct. 17, 1919, in Pecos, where she graduated from high school in 1937. She married W.D. "Jiggs" Dinwiddie in 1937. They have lived over 50 years on their ranch west of Jal, N.M.

Survivors include her husband, Jiggs Dinwiddie of Jal; one son, Bill W. Dinwiddie of the Roswell, N.M. area; one brother, Bill Cooksey of Pecos; two grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Calvary Funeral Home of Eunice, N.M. is in charge of arrangements.

Patsy Estes

Patsy Estes, 73, of Granbury, died Monday, Feb. 14, 2000, at All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, after a six-week struggle with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at the Granbury Church of Christ, at 1905 W. Pearl Street in Granbury. Burial will be in Granbury Cemetery.

Estes was born Jan. 29, 1927, in Sweetwater, had moved to Granbury in August of 1999 from Brady. While in Brady, Estes served as vice-president of the Brady Museum Board, and the Women's Investment Club and was a founding member of the Community Church of Christ. Prior to living in Brady, she lived in Abilene and was a member of the University Church of Christ where she was active in the bus ministry and P.T.A.

She was preceded in death by her father, D.A. Howe and one sister, Betty Lewallen.

Survivors include her husband, Billie Sol Estes of Granbury; her mother, Mrs. Howe of San Antonio; five children and 11 grandchildren.

Mrs. Estes' request was that memorials be made to the Bin Barn, c/o the Community Church of Christ in Brady, Tx., 76825, or The Wednesday Women's Support Group, c/o P.O. Box 579, Granbury, Tx. 76048.

High Monday 83. Low this morning 48. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 40s. Southwest wind 5-10 mph. Wednesday: Partly cloudy and continued unseasonably warm. High 75-80. Southwest wind 10-20 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 40s. Thursday: Increasing clouds. High 70-75.

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