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Friday, June 23, 2000

State Democrats back anti-dump resolution

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - Texas Democratic Party officials have approved a resolution against the proposed low-level radioactive waste dump north of Barstow, using language similar to the type opponents of a dump near Sierra Blanca used in 1998.

Envirocare of Texas is seeking a permit from the Texas Department of Health to construct the aboveground structure, which would be located north of Barstow in Ward County. The company announced plans to build on the site about a year after the three-member Texas Natural Resource Conservation rejected plans by the state to build its own low-level radioactive waste site southeast of Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County.

The site was rejected mainly based on concerns over how earthquake fault lines would affect the underground site, but protests were also raised both in the El Paso area and in Washington over the dump's proximity to the Rio Grande and the high minority population in the Sierra Blanca area.

Reeves County Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Dean said the measure opposing the Ward County site was passed during the party's state convention, which was held the weekend of June 9-11. It is similar to a resolution passed by the Reeves County Commissioner's Court earlier this year.

The measure as passed also mentions the high minority population in the area, focuses on the site's proximity to Pecos and says radioactive waste collected would not be limited to Texas, Maine and Vermont, as specified under the Sierra Blanca waste compact.

The resolution reads:

"Whereas Envirocare of Texas has made application to the Bureau of Radiation Control within the Texas Department of Health for a license to store so-called low-level radioactive waste at a site within 10 miles of Reeves County and about 12 miles from the community of Pecos within Reeves County,

Whereas Envirocare of Texas has proposed to store the radioactive waste for a period of 500 years at the site near Reeves County,

Whereas the Bureau of Radiation Control has clarified that a license would permit Envirocare of Texas to contract with sources throughout the United States to store radioactive waste at that site,

Whereas it appears that the site location targets a population that is over 80 percent Hispanic,

Whereas no Texas law present exists to give multi-county government jurisdiction over radioactive waste stored or disposed of within their area to protect citizens and both surface and groundwater,

Therefore be it resolved that the Democratic Party of Texas opposes approval of the Envirocare of Texas application to store radioactive waste in western Ward County as a potential danger to our citizens who have dedicated their livelihoods for generations to our land in the Trans-Pecos region and as a potential danger to the generations of their sons and daughters to come.

Gene Brown, Envirocare's director of West Texas Community Relations disputed the statements in some sections of the resolution.

Brown said Envirocare's definition of low level radioactive waste is in accordance with the definition in federal law, and said the distance of the site from Pecos is further than stated in the resolution.

"We used the most current mapping software and the distance from the property to Pecos is 23.4 miles by road and 16.3 miles by air," said Brown. He added there are no people living within seven miles in any direction of the site (50 square miles).

The site itself would be on land owned by rancher John Forrester, located between eight and nine miles northeast of Barstow.

Brown also said that under the company's proposal, "The State of Texas would be the holder of the license and would be manager of the facility. We would hope that the State of Texas would hire a private firm to manage the facility, and we feel we are the best firm to handle this business."

Envirocare and Waste Control Specialists of Dallas first sought the contract to store low-level radioactive waste last year, after the Sierra Blanca site was rejected by the TNRCC and Gov. George W. Bush. Both firms proposed storing the waste on land owned by the companies in western Andrews County, but those sites were rejected after a University of Texas study indicated underground water was present in the area.

Envirocare selected the Ward County site last November, after tests show it to be on land with no underground aquifers. The company also said water runoff from the site would go to Soda Lake, a normally dry area north of Barstow with no exit streams.

Reeves County officials voiced their concerns about the location, because it will be half the distance from Pecos as it is to Monahans, where Envirocare's area office is located. Commissioners also called for a multi-county decision on the site, as opposed to a referendum only by Ward County voters, and that message was included in the final paragraph of the resolution passed at the Democratic state convention.

"As far as that fifth (final) paragraph, I don't know if multi-county government bodies have control over anything," Brown said, "But that's a Texas Constitution question, which is something I'm not real familiar with."

Opponents of the Sierra Blanca site voiced similar complaints in 1998, when Congress approved the Texas-Maine-Vermont radioactive waste compact, which was then signed into law by President Clinton.

"This is a fight for communities all across the country who don't have the political clout to keep this pollution out," said Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone on Minnesota, the plan's leading opponent in Congress. "This is a fight for minority communities who are burdened with a disproportionate share of these sites."

"If this bill passes, President Clinton must veto it to stop the beautiful desert town of Sierra Blanca from becoming another chapter in this nation's sad, sorry history of racial discrimination," said Erin Rogers, executive director of the Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, the Maine Republican who led the Senate fight for approval of the compact, noted the legislation is backed by the three states' governors and senators, and that Congress had approved nine previous compacts covering 41 other states.

In signing the compact measure, a Clinton spokesman noted the compact did not specifically designate the Sierra Blanca site, meaning a waste dump could be located in any part of Texas under the agreement.

Envirocare's permit request for the site is currently before the Texas Department of Health's Radiation Control Board. Brown said the TDH is still asking Envirocare questions about its plans, and Envirocare of Texas president Rick Jacobi said earlier this year he was hoping for a decision from the department sometime late this fall.

Third St. work to be finished before parade

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - This year's West of the Pecos Rodeo parade should not be colored with bright orange barrels.

Engineer Specialist for the Texas Department of Transportation John Salcido said that most of the construction on Third Street should be finished by the time the rodeo parade is held on July 5.

"We're hoping to get from the intersection of State 17 (Balmorhea Highway) and Business 20 to U.S. 285 (Cedar Street) and Business I-20 done by rodeo week," Salcido said.

Salcido said it's been tough because some days the crew can not do and work due to the recent rains, but the rain hasn't damaged any of the new sidewalks, curbs and brickwork that has been installed over the past four months by Reece-Abbott Construction Co.

The company has been building new curbs and gutters, pedestrian sidewalks and wheelchair ramps. Crews have been working on the construction since February 24 and tentatively will be completed by the third week of July.

The rodeo parade will travel along a two-mile stretch of Third Street, from Highway 17 to Cypress Street, on July 5, then cross Third Street twice, at Oak and Cedar Streets, before ending up at the West of the Pecos Rodeo Grounds. Those are the sections of Third Street work will be focused on over the next two weeks. Construction crews will continue working east of Cedar Street during the week of rodeo.

Salcido said the crews might have to fix some of the wheelchair ramps due to recent regulations but that should not extend the completion date.

"We're just hoping to get it done as soon as possible," Salcido said. "We hate to put the public at an inconvenience but I think in the end it will be nice."

Two jailed on heroin, cocaine charges

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - Local law enforcement officers were busy over the past 36 hours, executing narcotics search warrants at two different locations.

The first one took place at about 10:39 a.m., on Thursday. Pecos Police Department officers, Reeves County Sheriff's Department and the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force joined to execute a narcotics search warrant at the home of Felix Porras Hernandez, 304 E. Eighth St.

Pecos Police Investigator Paul Deishler said once the warrant was executed and all subjects at the residence were secured officers proceeded to the search the residence. During the search, officers found a substance believed to be heroin in the bedroom.

"Officers located inside the kitchen area more packaging material commonly used in the packaging of heroin," said Deishler.

After the search was completed Hernandez, 42, was placed under arrest for the offense of possession of a controlled substance, heroin, and possession and delivery of drug paraphernalia.

The second incident occurred this morning at 12:15 a.m., when officers executed a narcotics search warrant at the Town and Country Motel, 2128 W. Highway 80, in room number 15.

The room was registered to Roberto Garcia Martinez, of Pecos.

After officers executed the warrant and the two male subjects that were inside the room were secured, officers proceeded to search the room for narcotics.

"Upon searching the room a substance believed to be cocaine was found inside the room," said Deishler.

Also found inside the room was packaging material commonly used in the packaging of cocaine.

Martinez, 41, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), felony of the third degree and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"The other male subject was questioned by officers and released," said Deishler.

City approves street closings,discusses Main Street project

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - Town of Pecos City Council approved a request by State Theater owners Lillian and Richard Creasy to close down part of Oak Street for the Grand Opening of the newly renovated theater next month.

Council members also approved closing of Second and Oak Streets on July 1, for the annual Night in Old Pecos event, during their regular meeting on Thursday.

Since the theater originally opened in 1954, the Creasys said they plan to have a `50s street party on July 14 in celebration of the re-opening of the theater. They requested the portion of Oak Street directly in front of the theater to be closed.

"We want this to be a family event," Lillian Creasy said.

The Creasys said they would only need the closure for approximately one or two hours for a party and then they would show the first showing at 8 p.m.

Councilman Ricky Herrera said he did not see a problem but would like to see how the post office feels.

The Council then approved for the Oak Street closure pending approval by the post office.

Tom Rivera, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, also requested the July 1 street closing for Night in Old Pecos, and presented the Council with a petition signed by all downtown merchants supporting the closure. Council members then approved the measure.

Chamber of Commerce President Jeanette Alligood asked the Council to approve the process of applying for a grant program to work on the downtown area.

Alligood is a part of the Main Street Advisory committee that was chosen by former mayor Dot Stafford. This committee is applying to be selected as a Main Street City.

This program is a self-help program that gives money to a chosen city to revitalize the downtown area.

Many cities in Texas apply for this program. The Main Street Agency in Austin has a board of 25 members that reviews each application. That board will choose five cities in January that will receive grants.

Councilman Johnny Terrazas asked if an effort has been made to contact the building owners in the downtown area.

Alligood said yes they were contacted and they realize that they can not rent the building in the shape they are in and the application process must start as soon as possible.

"The longer we wait the more it's going to cost," Alligood said.

Creasy said they found about two dozen historic buildings in the downtown area that "desperately need to be saved."

He said the most important thing is to have community participation, to which Herrera voiced agreement.

"Well I'm certainly in support of this thing," Herrera said. "I think we need the community involved in this."

The Council approved the request to apply for the grants.

The Council accepted a bid of $2500 for the purchase of a foreclosed property at 310 West 13th Street.

They also approved the minutes of the last meeting, the tax collector's report, the juvenile court report and the city's accounts payable.

Crockett assistant principal's post OKed

Staff Writer

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members voted Thursday to create a new assistant principal's position, due to the consolidation of the district's seventh and eighth grade campuses.

Board members voted for the new position at Crockett Middle School, which will house both seventh and eighth graders for the 2000-2001 school year.

"That's the position that was all alone at the seventh grade, but now it will be at the Crockett campus, which is for both seventh and eighth graders," said P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love.

Love stated that the position was just put through the proper channels and was approved at last night's special school board meeting.

The district will now be taking applications for that particular position, according to Love.

The position for assistant principal at Crockett will be advertised for the next 10 days, according to Love.

"The position for principal at sixth grade, which will be at the Zavala campus, has also been posted," said Love.

He said the current Zavala principal, Victor Tarin, has been reassigned to the same post at Austin Elementary, which was left without a principal after the retirement r of Beau Jack Hendrick last month. Hendrick had been the principal at Austin Elementary for the past several years, while Tarin's post at Lamar Middle School is being eliminated under the school consolidation plan.

After their special meeting Thursday, a budget workshop was held by the board, which went over principals and the proposed budget for the 2000-2001 school year.

The budgets for the tax office, all the campuses, including Carver Center, the P-B-T athletic department, community recreation, Career and Technology, cheerleading, community service, Gifted and Talented Program, special education, maintenance, transportation and food services budget were all discussed during the workshop.

"We have some new board members that brought up particular items that they wanted discussed during the budget workshops," said Love. "These are items that they would like to see in the budget or just discussed."

He said the group would talk some more about the budget during the July 13 meeting. "We will go through all this again at that time," he said.

RCDC pay increase proposals to agenda for commissioners

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - Salary increase proposals for the Reeves County Detention Center and an update on Census 2000 from the Community Partnership Specialist for Reeves County will be discussed Monday during the regular meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court.

The group will meet at 10 a.m., on the third floor of the Reeves County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend this open session.

Commissioners will discuss and take action on Pecos Eagle Pee-Wee Tackle Football funding; jail and courthouse telephone consultant; and a mower and a utility pickup for the Reeves County Golf Course.

The group will also discuss and take action on Xerox lease agreement for the Reeves County Sheriff's Office; jail contract between Reeves County and Town of Pecos City; Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Resolution and Cooperative working agreement with Jeff Davis County and the 2001 American Cancer Society Texas Golf Pass Contract.

Commissioners will appoint a commissioners court member to the Juvenile Detention Center Advisory Committee and discuss or take action on RCDC two sewer line site utilities.

The group will discuss and take action on foreclosed property bid for Lot 4, Block 131, original addition and Lot 2, Block 91, original addition and approve the bond and oath for Debbie Almuina, assistant county auditor.

Under regular business the group will discuss and take action on:

· Reports from various departments.

· Budget amendments and line-item transfers.

· Personnel and salary changes (RCDC, recreation department, sheriff's office).

· Minutes from previous meetings.

· Semi-monthly bills.

· Spread on minutes: Notice of over-axle over-gross weight permit; interagency agreement; LMD Architect contract for the Reeves County Community Recreation Master Plan; LMD Professional Services contract for the Balmorhea Community Center; Public notice for Loving County Auditor; Public notice for Loving County Court Reporter and budget workshop- discuss revenue and expenditures budget: general fund and road and bridge employee salaries.

Rodeo Program to be included in Free Press

PECOS, June 23, 2000 - News about rodeo, along with other local Rodeo Week events and pictures, are all a part of the 2000 West of the Pecos Rodeo Program, which will be inserted in the Pecos Free Press on Sunday.

The 11-by-18 sized program replaces the regular glossy program used in past years. The change was done by the West of the Pecos Rodeo Committee in order to distribute the program across a wide area of West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico.

A total of 35,000 copies of this year's Rodeo Program were printed, and will be inserted into other area papers along with this Sunday's Free Press. The Enterprise will publish its own annual West of the Pecos Rodeo Edition in next Friday's paper.


PECOS, June 23, 2000 - High Thursday 95. Low this morning 70. Rainfall last 24 hours .03 inch. Forecast for tonight: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and Thunderstorms: With locally heavy rain possible. Low in the upper 60s. South wind 10-20 mph. Chance of rain 30 percent. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. High in the upper 90s. Southwest wind 10-20 mph. Chance of rain less than 20 percent. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Low 65-70. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Low 65-70. High in the mid 90s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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