Colored Rock Map of Texas at I-20 in Pecos, Click for Travel Guide

Pecos Enterprise


Pecos Country History
Archive 62
Archive 74
Archive 87
1987 Tornado Photos
Rodeo Photos 88
Archive 95
Archive 96
Archive 97
News Photos 1997
Rodeo Photos 97
Archive 98
News Photos 1998
Rodeo Photos 98
Parade Photos 98
Archive 99
Photos 99
Archive 2000
Photos 2000

Area Newspapers


Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Top Stories

Thursday, March 23, 2000

Late challenges fill local election races

Staff Writer
Last-minute filings made turned what would have been unopposed races into contested contests, as the deadline arrived Wednesday to enter the May 6 city, school and hospital district elections.

Incumbents Danny Rodriguez and Ricky Herrera had been without opposition in their bids for new two-year terms on the Town of Pecos City Council, but newcomer Hector "Tito" Roman filed on the final day with city secretary Geneva Martinez.

Incumbent mayor Dot Stafford already was facing opposition from Ray Ortega in the May 6 race. This morning, all five candidates drew for places on the ballot at City Hall, with Ortega scheduled to be listed first and Stafford second in the mayor's race.

On the council ballots, Rodriguez' name will appear first, followed by Herrera and then Roman.

In Balmorhea, all city and school races also will be opposed thanks to late candidate filings.

In the Balmorhea city races, Danny Reynolds had filed for the mayoral position had was joined by incumbent Ismael Rodriguez and another challenger, Doug Maynard, this week. Reynolds' term as Balmorhea City Councilman, along with that Rosendo Galindo also are up for election on May 6, and Galindo has filed for another two-year term and will compete against challengers Tammy Marmillon, Bertha Brijalba and Eddie Roman.

In the Balmorhea School Board election the three-year terms of Raymond Carrasco and Paul Matta are up in May. They've both filed to run again and will be joined by Dora Machuca, Tommy Ray Dominguez and Louis Rene.

The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD election has four candidates seeking the two three-year terms up for election. Incumbent Steve Armstrong will be joined in the May 6 race by challengers Paul Deishler, Steve Valenzuela and David Flores. Incumbent Freddy Lujan opted not to seek re-election.

The other two contested area races on May 6 will be for the Barstow City Council and the at-large position on the Reeves County Hospital District board.

Pablo Navarette filed for the position of alderman on the Barstow City Council on Monday. He'll challenge incumbents Robert Ortega and Benny Avila, who have filed to retain their council seats for another two years. Benny Hernandez will be unopposed in the race for Barstow mayor, where incumbent Salvador Villalobos opted against seeking another term.

In the Reeves County Hospital District election Leo Hung filed to seek the at-large seat on the board against two-term incumbent Greg Luna. Incumbents Chel Flores for and Jesse Prieto will run unopposed in their bids for the Precinct 1 and Precinct 3 seats on the board. All seats are for two-year terms.

Candidates for elections in Toyah also waited until the last day to file, where terms for mayor and two council positions will be up for grabs.

In Toyah, Ann Marsh has filed to run for mayor, while Paul Anthony Budlong and Sharon Sanchez both signed up for city council seats.

Budlong is currently serving as mayor for the little community, a position he won in 1998.

The council seats up for election are those won by Clara McConnell and Howard Dennett two years ago.

Mine's laid-off workers offered retraining funds

Staff Writer
Displaced employees from the Freeport-McMoran sulphur mine in Culberson County, which closed down late last year, will be receiving more help due to an amendment to a petition.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced that all workers of the mine, in Pecos, who lost their job due to lack of work on or after Jan. 12, 1998 are eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

Freeport announced on June 30, 1998 that it would close the 30-year-old mine, located 40 miles northwest of Pecos in Culberson County. Over 60 workers were laid off at the time, though mining work at the site continued through the fall of 1999.

Under petition number TA-W-35,557 which was amended on March 7 of this year and will expire April 5, 2001, workers who were partially separated from employment with Freeport-McMoran Sulphur, L.L.C., Culberson Mine, also known as McMoran Exploration Company, in Pecos, will qualify for assistance.

TAA is available to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. TAA includes a variety of benefits and re-employment services to help unemployed workers prepare for and obtain suitable employment, according to Harry Crawford, Trade Adjustment Assistance Coordinator for the Texas Workforce Commission.

"Workers may be eligible for training, a job search allowance, a relocation allowance and other re-employment services," said Crawford. "Additionally, weekly trade re-adjustment allowances may be payable to eligible workers following their exhaustion of unemployment benefits."

Crawford stated that there are some who are attending higher learning facilities. "We currently have former workers attending either Odessa College and Midland College, those public institutions have been very cooperative," said Crawford.

Crawford stated TWC would also be working in conjunction with the Odessa College-Pecos Center, as well. "I'm sure we'll be sending some there as well, and this will be done in individual assessments, depending on the individual's needs," he said.

Workers should contact the nearest Texas Workforce Commission office for assistance in filing for the following services: weekly trade adjustment allowance, job placement, employment counseling, vocational training and financial assistance for job search and job relocation.

Telecom tax bumped up by council

Staff Writer
The Town of Pecos City Council voted to raise the telecommunications franchise tax this morning, but refused to raise the rate up to the statewide average.

City Finance Director Steve McCormick recommended the rate hike that the council approved.

"We have to remember that this is a pass-through tax. The telephone company collects it for us, but it still comes from you and I and the rest of Pecos," McCormick said.

McCormick advised the council that at the old rate, the city collected approximately $30,000 in 1999. At the new rate, the city would collect about $80,000.

"The Public Utility Commission (PUC) authorized us to raise the rate to the state average. If we did that we would collect about $117,000," he said.

"It is my opinion that we have to find a way to increase revenues. If we don't then we are going to have to cut services and there just isn't much left to cut," McCormick said.

McCormick also advised the council that the way the tax would be calculated would change.

"Currently the tax is four percent of your telephone bill excluding long distance charges," he said. "The new tax will be a flat assessment and should be about $1.08 per person, per month."

McCormick said that Public Utility Commission would give him the exact rate once the council approved a total amount for the tax.

"But with the $80,000 figure the council approved today, local residents can expect to pay $1.08 per month," he said.

Businesses should anticipate a rate of about $2.39 per month.

"I don't see how we can avoid this," Councilman Johnny Terrazas said. "We have to find someway to generate more revenue or we are going to be in a hurt and cutting services."

"We've been operating at a deficit for several years and eating into the city's reserves," Councilman Ricky Herrera added. "Our tax base has been shrinking and for the past few years we've been cutting back, consolidating and doing everything we can to save money. At some point we have to look at generating more revenue."

"One thing many people may not realize is that two years ago we dedicated $125,000 a year to the Economic Development Corporation. That money came right out of the city's budget. We need economic development, and it is a good investment, but we've got to replace that money in the mean time," Herrera said.

Mayor Dot Stafford agreed. "According to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), our rates were very low," she said. "The TNRCC suggested a higher rate increase to help the city pay for further water development _ something Pecos has to have just to survive."

"There just aren't many services that we can cut," she added.

The council was also briefed by engineer Abidur Khan of Frank X. Spencer and Associates, concerning work on two water wells in the Worsham Well Field.

Khan presented the council with estimates and recommendations for two wells _ a new well and a replacement well.

Total estimated costs for both wells is about $220,000 including an additional five percent of total cost added in for contingencies.

The council voted to authorize the firm to advertise the jobs for bids and also submit the plans for the two wells to the Texas Natural Resource Commission.

The bidding will open on April 24, 2000.

In other business the council approved the monthly tax collection report and the Pecos Volunteer Ambulance Service report.

The council had the second reading of a proposed ordinance allowing for the appointment of an assistant fire marshal during times when the fire marshal is absent or disabled.

Rec department continues youth soccer sign-ups

The Reeves County Community Recreation Department is continuing to register boys and girls for its spring soccer league now through April 3.

Registration forms are available at the Recreation Department office in the old West Pecos gym, weekdays between 5 and 10 p.m. The program is open to children ages 5 through 12.

The RCCRD is also offering adult low-impact workouts with Liz Guerrero Vega at the old PHS gym. For further information either on the workout classes or the youth soccer program, call 447-9776.

Storms skip Pecos area, but wind, dust don't

From Staff and Wire Reports
The drought situation in the Pecos Valley can pretty much be summed up by this morning's road condition reports for the region.

Highways south of Midland and Odessa remain closed today due to flooding, two children are feared dead due to high water over a road near Big Spring and residents in Wickett continue their clean-up from Wednesday's post-midnight storms. But locally, Texas Department of Transportation officials were checking late this morning to see if Highway 17 between Pecos and Saragosa should be closed for the third time in four weeks because of blowing dust.

Pecos got a few more drops of rain just before midnight on Wednesday than fell in the midnight hours on Tuesday, but the rains again missed the fields to the south and west of town, and this morning's wind gusts again sent dust blowing across Highway 17, obscuring visibility for drivers on the road.

The problem was centered on a plowed field near the Davidson Feed Pens at the intersection of Highway 17 and FM 1934. A TxDOT crew was going to remain in the area early this afternoon to monitor the situation, as the problem was not severe enough late this morning to require closing of the road, as happened on Feb. 22 and Mar. 7, when dust storms were blamed for a series of accidents in the Pecos area.

KIUN radio reported receiving .05 inch of rain Wednesday, while the Texas A&M Agricultural Research Station seven miles west of town received .06 inch of rain on Wednesday and .01 in after midnight today.

Tuesday's storms were blamed for an oil tank battery explosion caused by lightning near Orla and for high winds that damaged homes in Wickett and blew a tractor trailer off Interstate 20 shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday. Last night, the brunt of the storms were focused on an area between I-20 and I-10, east of Fort Stockton and west of Sterling City.

Two children were missing and feared drowned after a car was swept into a creek by high waters following overnight storms in Howard County, authorities in Big Spring said.

A woman who said she was taking her two children to school said her vehicle was swept into the creek. She said she was forced out of her car, but wasn't sure if her children made it out.

The Howard County sheriff's department brought in a helicopter to aid in the search for the children.

As many as ten storm cells went through the area beginning at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and continuing until about 2:30 a.m. today, dumping as much as six inches of rain near the usually-dry creek known as Mustang Draw, in a rural area just northwest of Big Spring.

Police and rescue personnel spotted the roof of the submerged car in the creek and were trying to recover it when the woman was found.

About 4 inches of rain fell in Big Spring, said National Weather Service meteorologist George Mathews.

To the south, a tornado leveled two homes, swept away several storage sheds and injured a family of three as funnel clouds dipped down in Regan and Glasscock counties.

This morning, the main highway between Midland and San Angelo remained closed due to high water, as did roads in Upton and Crane counties.

Robin Collins, a dispatcher for the Reagan County Sheriff's Department, said one tornado was spotted on the ground in the southern part of the county by about 15 different residents near Big Lake around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

"We had two homes completely destroyed, but the path where the tornado went was mainly a ranch area," she said.

A couple and their daughter in one of the houses were briefly hospitalized after they received minor injuries in the storm, said Collins. She said the owner of the other house wasn't home when the tornado hit. She said there also were several reports of storage sheds blown away by the twister.

Several other tornado warnings were issued through early today by the National Weather Service.

"It's been a very busy 36 hours," said Brian Curran, a forecaster at the NWS office in Midland.

A dispatcher from the Glasscock County Sheriff's Department who refused to be identified said two people were injured when three mobile homes were toppled in Saint Lawrence, to the north in Glasscock County. "We're not sure if it was a tornado that brought them down of if it was just winds."

Glen Larum, public information officer with TxDOT in Odessa, said late this morning, "We still have two main roads closed. State Highway 349 between Midland and Rankin is closed due to flooding in Upton County. We expect it to reopen today as the floodwater recedes.

"State Highway 158 is closed due to flooding at the intersection with State Highway 137," between Midland and Garden City, Larum added. "Farm Market Road 1379 in closed due to flooding in the Midkiff area, and there is severe damage to the roadway."

He said U.S. 385 north of Crane was also closed overnight due to flooding, but both the north and southbound lanes were reopened by 11 a.m. "The flooding was just four miles north of Crane at Golf Course Draw. There were some big oilfield tanks floating out on the draw, so we'll have to keep an eye on that."

He said State Highway 329 was also closed both east and west of Crane due to floods. "There's major damage to a roadway bridge east of Crane, while west of town the highway is just underwater. As the floodwaters recede we expect it to reopen."

Larum said in Odessa only about .3 inch of rain fell, but heavier rains were reported to the north of town. The storms dumped pea-sized hail on parts of Yoakum County, including Denver City, the National Weather Service said.

Lotto Results

AUSTIN (AP) - Results of the Lotto Texas drawing Wednesday night: Winning numbers drawn: 5-8-17-35-38-41. Estimated jackpot: $28 million. Number matching six of six: 1. Winning ticket sold in: Austin. Matching five of six: 193. Prize: $1,355. Matching four of six: 9,663. Prize: $97.


AUSTIN (AP) - The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Wednesday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 1-2-6 (one, two, six)


High Wednesday 68. Low this morning 49. Rainfall past 24 hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .07 inch. Forecast for tonight: Fair. Low in the mid 40s. West wind 10-15 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High in the upper 70s. Southwest wind 10-15 mph. Friday night: Fair. Low in the mid 40s. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High in the mid 80s.

Search Entire Site:

Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.

Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise