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for Pecos Country of West Texas

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Tuesday, July 11, 2000

Railroad eyes new motel for train crews

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 11, 2000 - Union Pacific Railroad is making plans to locate a crew change point in Pecos and build a motel to house them on their overnight trips.

But while the change is good news for Pecos, it's bad news for Toyah, which will be losing its longtime crew change site under the proposal.

"They're in the process of working with the union because they want to move the crew change point from Toyah to Pecos," said Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad.

Management will have to work with the two unions involved with the railroad employees to move the crew change from Toyah to Pecos, according to Davis.

The next step will be to hire a crew for constructing the motel and restaurant. "They'll need a little motel that they can stay in and a restaurant that will be open 24 hours a day," said Davis.

The motel will be for the railroad employees only, but the restaurant would be open to the public, according to Davis.

"They're always analyzing the railroad and service and how to operate better," said Davis.

When Union Pacific merged with Southern Pacific in 1996, they did a lot of work on looking at crew change points, which are where the company physically changes train operators on the line between Fort Worth and El Paso, according to Davis.

Crew changes are at El Paso and Toyah. Union Pacific also had one at Big Spring, but changed it to Sweetwater. The other is in Fort Worth, according to Davis.

"We have crew change points where a train crew can make it to point `A' from point `B', without working over 12 hours," said Davis. "Twelve hours is the maximum a crew can work," he said.

"What we require is a place for the train crew members to stay and a restaurant that will be open 24-hours," said Davis.

Davis stated that train management looks at a location where you can have a change of crew, to get to El Paso to Toyah or Midland/Odessa within a 12-hour limit.

Pecos is the midpoint between El Paso and Sweetwater, 210 miles from both cities, while Fort Worth is another 200 miles to the east of Sweetwater.

Typically, when they do a crew change point, an away from-home crew will live in El Paso or Sweetwater and they will just be overnighters in Reeves County, according to Davis.

"But they do spend money at the crew change points, which will be good for the Pecos economy," he said.

Employees will be needed to clean the hotel and to operate the restaurant. "So there will be a little bit of increase in employment as well," said Davis.

The timeline, if everything works out well, is that about this time next year, 2001 the hotel and restaurant will be in place. "We still need to get a construction crew as well as getting labor equipment in place," said Davis.

The point of the new change crew location is to place where trains change and a location that's midway in between two other locations where train crew changes. "For example, the line between Fort Worth and El Paso, the crew would take this train from Fort Worth to Sweetwater where the crew from Fort Worth would get off and crew from Sweetwater would get on," said Davis. "This would take them to Toyah and then that crew takes over."

Toyah is just a little further west than the El Paso-Sweetwater midpoint, which is one of the reasons for the change, according to Davis.

"This is all in the process of starting, if it works out with the unions," said Davis. "They're usually agreeable in changing locations."

Pecos also stands to benefit from the Union Pacific-Southern Pacific merger next year, when Amtrak trains begin running through the area, with a flag stop planned locally. Union Pacific has upgraded its Fort Worth to Sierra Blanca line enough to allow the higher-speed passenger trains to return. Currently, Amtrak's Sunset Limited uses the former Southern Pacific line between Sierra Blanca and Houston.

County OKs library grant for Internet

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 11, 2000 - A grant application to benefit the Reeves County Library was approved during the regular meeting of the Reeves County Commissioners Court on Monday morning.

Reeves County Librarian Sally Perry made a special presentation to the court and explained the grant and the purpose of the application for the grant from the foundation created by the founder of Microsoft. "We want to get approval to begin the process of possibly getting four new Internets (terminal connections)," said Perry.

The grant the library has received is in the amount of $19,246 and comes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

With these funds, the Reeves County Library will be getting four new terminals, three set to operate in English and one in Spanish, according to Perry.

"We want to send in our acceptance application for this, and 700 libraries have already done this," said Perry. "It's wonderful that we have done this, because it will benefit a lot of people."

The Internet terminals would be placed in front of the main desk and would be for the public's use.

The purpose of this grant is to expand public access to computers and the Internet, according to Perry.

"I want to commend you for your efforts in trying to better serve the public," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

"About how many persons per day go to the library?" asked Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin.

"We average about 300 per day," said Perry. "I'm counting each and every person that walks through the door."

Perry stated that the library is a busy place and now that summer is here more parents are taking their children.

"We had story hour last week and we had about 50 children," said Perry.

Perry stated that funds are still needed for furniture for the new computers. "We still need study areas, desks, chairs and tables," she said.

Donations from private citizens and businesses are being accepted to help with the new project at the library.

Commissioners approved the sale of machine gun equipment that is currently at the Reeves County Sheriff's Department.

"We have been offered $3,000 for this equipment that has been in storage for many years, and want to use the money to buy vests for the deputies," said sheriff Andy Gomez.

Gomez told the court that the equipment needs to go to a licensed dealer or other law enforcement agency.

"It's just been sitting in the safe for over 20 years and we would rather use the funds to go towards our deputies," said Gomez.

Each vest costs about $500 and this would be a good way to get the money to fund the special equipment.

Commissioners awarded a bid for inmate boots and jackets to Desiree Boutique of Pecos.

Other bidders were ICS, the current supplier and Gibson True Value.

Desiree's bid for both jackets and boots and Gibson bid on just jackets.

"We had some samples, from Gibson and Desiree's, and the jackets and boots were heavier from Desiree's," said county auditor Lynn Owen.

Reports from various departments and minutes from previous meetings were approved during the regular meeting.

New hires included at the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, Jose Millan Gonzalez as a deputy for the Balmorhea area; Stephen Cross as a Tae Kwon Do instructor at the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation at $8 per hour and part-time employees at the recreation department, Asencion Banuelos and Reynaldo A. Dominguez.

Malaga Bend project faces new roadblock

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 11, 2000 - The Malaga Bend salt alleviation project is probably going to need help from higher-ups in the State of Texas if it's ever to become a reality, Red Bluff Water Power Control Board members were told during their monthly meeting on Monday in Pecos.

General Manager Jim Ed Miller told the board the Interstate Stream Commission in New Mexico has reversed the position it took originally, and has now denied the district and Loving Salt Co. the right to divert brine water from an underground stream feeding into the Pecos River to man-made ponds to be built upstream by Loving Salt Co.

Miller said Loving Salt Co. president Albert Wagner planned to talk with Herman Settlemeyer with the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission about the problem, and added the state Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs would also be involved.

Board members talked with Combs about the problem earlier this year when the commissioner was in Pecos to tour the salt cedar eradication project along the Pecos River. About the same time, Miller told the board New Mexico officials had changed their minds, and said a drilling permit to pump the Malaga Bend water would have to be in the name of the Red Bluff district.

Miller said when the drilling permit request was originally filled out in Roswell, New Mexico officials told them to put the Interstate Stream Commission's name of the permit request. That produced the initial delay this year, before the Interstate Stream Commission's latest decision not to allow the transfer of the Malaga Bend water, which normally enters the Pecos River just above the Texas-New Mexico state line.

About 50 percent of the salt content of the Pecos River at Red Bluff Lake comes from the Malaga Bend salt spring, according to monitoring sites upstream and downstream from the spring's confluence with the river.

The board took no action on the situation after listening to the update from Miller.

In other business, board members approved the budget for fiscal year 2000, which will run through Oct. 31 of this year. They also approved cash disbursements, accounts payable and the water report for July.

Disbursements included a May 31 payment to district lawyer Tim Brown for his work on the Malaga Bend project for $3,664, while the water report showed the seven Water Improvement Districts had used 6,365 acre/feet of their 2000 water allotment of 32,870 acre/feet, with 2,433 acre/feet used during June. The water level in Red Bluff Lake was 66,873 acre/feet, down about 4,000 acre/feet for the month and down just under 23,000 acre/feet for the year.

Emergency personnel to attend course

Staff Writer

PECOS, July 11, 2000 - All emergency personnel in Pecos and the surrounding areas are invited to attend a fire-emergency vehicle response training class, set for tonight at the Pecos Community Center, 510 S. Oak St.

The class will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Fire Chief Roy Pena said the city, fire department, EMT, police department and the different department heads are invited to join in the training.

This class is designed to review driving habits and conduct of personnel operating emergency vehicles. Ronnie Sexton, a Loss Prevention Training Specialist is the instructor for this class and is sponsored by the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool.

"It explains to you about the laws in driving an emergency vehicle," Pena said.

Pena said members of the emergency rescue teams need to understand that just because they drive an emergency vehicle they are not above the traffic laws.

"It's good training, especially for the new guys," he said. "We still have to follow the laws, especially the school zones."

Pena explained that the emergency vehicles should not pass other vehicles unless they are given the right of way.

Sexton will discuss many topics with the emergency personnel. These are Texas Transportation Codes as they pertain to use of emergency vehicles, supervisor responsibility to ensure employee safety, development of policies and procedures, punitive damages/tort liability, use of lights and sirens, high speed hazards, intersections and passing and speed.

Pena said there is another training class planned for September that will cover emergency response to terrorism. That class will be open to all supervisory officials in town, including school administration members.

Dell City fights El Paso's water pumping plan

PECOS, July 11, 2000 -  El Paso - Fearing city officials' plans to buy West Texas ranches to fatten municipal water supplies, officials in Dell City want to quintuple the size of their water district to block El Paso tapping into plentiful reserves in Dell Valley.

Water officials from the town of about 780 told the Hudspeth County Commissioners Monday they want to expand the city's water district from 225 square miles to about 1,180 square miles, according to the El Paso Times' Tuesday editions.

"Someone wants to buy our water, and we are trying to protect our livelihood. It has put a kind of fire under us," said Gene Lutrick, vice chairman of Hudspeth County Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, which covers Dell City.

The expanded water district would block plans by El Paso and Hunt Building Corp. to buy West Texas ranches, and the water underneath them, to supplement the city's water supply when the Rio Grande is running low.

The El Paso plan calls for a minimum of 15,000 acre-feet of water per year to be pumped out of West Texas aquifers and blended with 30,000 acre-feet of brackish water from the Hueco Bolson.

Hunt, one of the nation's largest builders of military family housing and one of El Paso's major real estate developers, plans to complete a study on the project by November.

Although the initial idea was to buy ranches near Valentine and Van Horn and pump it to El Paso, Hunt Corp. executive vice president Ron Glover confirmed the company has bought land near Dell City.

Officials in Culberson and Jeff Davis counties already have taken action to try and limit El Paso's ability to pump underground water from the Van Horn and Valentine areas. Water rights also are available at this time beneath the Freeport-McMoRan land in northern Culberson and Reeves counties.

Town of Pecos City officials looked at the site as a possible new water field, but are currently focused on developing the South Worsham Field site and are looking at underground water rights on land near the Reeves-Pecos County line to provide the city with its future water needs.

The Hunt Corp. bought a 3,000-acre ranch just across the state line from Dell City in New Mexico's Otero County and a 563-acre farm near Dell City and is in the process of buying another one of about 650 acres.

Glover said the expanded district wouldn't protect any more water the current district.

"I don't think (expansion) benefits anyone in the Dell City area because there is no large underground aquifer in Hudspeth County except what's within the current boundaries of the district, other than what is in New Mexico," Glover said.

Ed Archuleta, general manager of El Paso Water Utilities, said officials would cooperate with Dell City if the West Texas pipeline project comes to fruition.

"I think El Paso definitely would participate completely in regulation or in partnership to make sure that ... we're a good steward for the community or the area," Archuleta said.

The city's plan hinges on getting enough Hudspeth County landowners to petition the county for inclusion in the larger water district. If enough sign on, the expanded water district would then be voted on by landowners who would be annexed.

The city could then keep the water by using a provision in the bylaws that requires a permit to move water out of the district's boundaries.

But the landowners are the same ones who could benefit from selling their ranches to Hunt Corp.

Members of the Hudspeth County Commissioners Court said they supported Dell City's plan to expand its water rights.

"You may not be able to protect yourselves against El Paso, but this should put you in a better position," Commissioner Curtis Carr said.

The expansion will next be discussed at the water district's July 18 meeting in Dell City.

Balmorhea ISD board to review student codes

PECOS, July 11, 2000 - The Balmorhea school board will disuss the district vision, mission and goals and student code of conduct at the regular meeting on Thursday.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the boardroom at First and El Paso Streets.

The board will also discuss air conditioning installation in the school gymnasium/auditorium. There will be discussion about the finance report and appointing of a person to calculate effective tax rates.

Other topics on the agenda are the head custodian, medical plan, worker's compensation agreement with TASB and a board member continuing education.

The board will go into a closed meeting to discuss personnel.


Ignacia Acosta

Ignacia Acosta, 66, of Grandfalls, died Thursday, July 6, 2000, at Ward Memorial Hospital.

Mass was held at 2 p.m., Monday at St. John's Catholic Church in Monahans with Father John Lucido officiating. Burial was in Grandfalls Cemetery.

She was born July 31, 1933, in Terlingua, was a homemaker and a Catholic.

Survivors include four sons, Pedro and David Acosta of Grandfalls, Rafael Acosta of LaPort and Robert Acosta of Odessa; three daughters, Yolanda Acosta of Grandfalls, Maria A. Jordan of Midland and Juanita Brandenburg of Grandfalls; one brother, Mike Cadena of Midland; seven sisters, Tomasa Vasquez, Tina Acosta of Grandfalls, Francis Dominguez of Crane, Rosie Williams of Monahans, Isabell Salmon of Pecos, Lucy Prieto of Lubbock and Mary Cavazos of Crane; 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Harkey Funeral Home of Monahans is in charge of arrangements.

Maria Natividad

Maria Pena Natividad, 55, of Barstow, died Monday, July 10, 2000, at Odessa Medical Center.

A rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., today, at Pecos Funeral Home Chapel.

Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 12, at Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church in Barstow with Father Ben Flores officiating. Burial will be in Barstow Cemetery.

She was born Aug. 7, 1944, in Barstow, was a homemaker and a Catholic.

Survivors include her husband, Edwardo Natividad, Sr. of Odessa; one son, Eddie Natividad, Jr. of Maple Heights, Ohio; three brothers, Jose, Candelario and Silverio Pena of Barstow and one sister, Consuelo Arreguy of Pecos.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, July 11, 2000 - High Monday 104. Low this morning 78. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Isolated evening thunderstorms. Low 70-75. Southeast wind 5-15 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent. Wednesday: Mostly sunny. High near 104. South wind 5-15 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear. Low 70-75.

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