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Friday, January 26, 2001

Council briefed on water, landfill projects

RECOGNIZING YEARS OF SERVICE _ Mayor Ray Ortega (right) presents former city shop foreman Ray Diaz (left) a certificate of recognition for his 26 years of service during the Town of Pecos City Council meeting last night. Diaz retired from his position on December 31. Ortega also presented Diaz with a plaque and watch.

Staff Writer
PECOS, Jan. 26, 2001 - A representative of Frank X. Spencer & Associates updated the Town of Pecos City Council on the status of several engineering projects they are working on for the city, during the council's regular meeting Thursday night at City Hall.

Abidur Khan, engineer for Spencer & Associates, gave the council a slide presentation on the status of two wells in the Worsham Water Well Field, the development of the South Worsham Water Well Field and the Arid Exempt Landfill Permit.

Before beginning his presentation Khan allowed Carlos Colina-Vargas, grant administrator, to give the council members some information on the status of their grant request.

Colina-Vargas informed the council that the state made a mandatory visit to go over files, records and other documentation involving the Worsham Well Field project to determine if the city was in compliance with the terms of the grant.

He explained that the grant was approved in the 1999 fiscal year but was not implemented until 2000 therefore making it the fiscal year 2000 well project, on which he added the work is almost done.

"The project is substantially completed," Colina-Vargas said. The only thing left on well No. 16 is the security fencing around the well.

"We're well ahead of schedule," he said.

Khan supported Colina-Vargas' remarks by giving the Council an update on wells 16 and 7.

He said the fencing must be completed before the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) allows the city to use it.

Khan said the TNRCC has already approved the well but "can not tie into the transmission line until the fencing is up."

He also informed the Council that over $42,000 of funding remains, meaning the project will come in under budget.

Not much more work is left on well No. 7 than well No. 16.

Khan explained that the fencing also needs to be built around that well, along with installation of some well piping, an eight-inch transmission line and well dissinfection.

The city is going to construct the fences around both wells once materials are purchased, using the grant money.

Utility Director Octavio Garcia told the council that the fencing should be completed and the wells ready for use before summer.

"Hopefully we'll get it up and running before summer," he said.

Khan told the council that the first phase of development of the South Worsham well field is underway now with the next phase _ design - hopefully coming soon. The South Worsham field is beging developed to supply water to the city after a 1994 study said the Worsham and Ward County water fields would not provide enough drinkable water after 2008.

The first phase of the development is the environmental impact statement in which the city must get the go-ahead from several state agencies before development can begin, according to City Manager Carlos Yerena.

On the Arid Exempt Landfill Permit, Khan said the application was submitted to the state on Dec. 6, 2000.

The state is reviewing the application and will be looking at such things as the city's eligibility and the level of the groundwater at the landfill site.

Yerena said that Spencer & Associates is trying to coordinate their efforts that will enable them to move on with the design stage of the landfill development once the permit is approved.

He said that they do not want to move to quickly and spend much money on the design stage until it is fairly certain that the city's application will be approved.

"We don't want to spend too much money on the design," he said. "Not until we feel very confident that we'll be getting the permit."

The city was denied an exemption 10 years ago, and was forced to build a costlier landfill trench with clay and rubber linings.

The council did not take any action on those agenda items following Khan's presentation.

In other action, Classic Cable representative Leann Pittard discussed the decision the Cable Company has made to shut down the Pecos office and replace it with a payment center.

Pittard said that the payment center would be better for the company and there would be a local technician who works out of his company truck to service any repairs.

She said that there is an 800 number that would allow the customers to make requests for service.

"So it's free to the customers to call," she said.

Councilman Gerald Tellez asked Pittard if the 800 number would be available in both English and Spanish.

Pittard said she not sure but she believed it would only be in English.

City Attorney Scott Johnson informed Pittard that some community members do not agree with the office closing.

"Some citizens are upset they will be closing," he said.

He explained that the community is used to having an office in town where they could make complaints or ask questions when they needed to.

Pittard said the company is not able to afford to employ one person in offices in all the community Classic Cable services and the payment center would be better.

"In the long run it will make us more efficient," she said.

She admitted that she was not very knowledgeable to the workings of Classic Cable because she was an employee of a company that Classic Cable bought.

She told the Council and audience that she would make a list of their concerns to take back to the company.

Pecos residents and city council members protested a decision by United Video Cablevision in 1991 to shut down its offices in Pecos, Crane and Kermit and operate all area systems out of Monahans. Classic Cable reopened an office in Pecos after buying the systems from United Video five years ago.

Classic Cable is currently installing fiber optic wiring in Pecos for the introduction of digital cable service, and Mayor Pro-Tem Danny Rodriguez said that many members of the community have complained about the loss of service for hours at a time.

"A lot of people in the community are complaining they have six to eight hours with service down," he said.

He asked Pittard if they plan to improve the service.

"Our new president is committed to customer service," she replied. "But this is not going to happen overnight."

Pittard said she would take all these concerns back to the company and the local office would be closed on February 28 with the payment site opening by March 1.

In other business, the Council approved setting a date for a public hearing on annexation for 7:30 a.m., on February 14 and 15.

The Council also approved the bid from Edubigen Ocon for the foreclosed property at 409 E. Fifth Street for $1,500.

The Council also approved the minutes for the regular and special meetings on January 11 and 12 as well as the juvenile and tax collector's reports.

Airbase's arrival sparked growth in Pecos

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a continuing series of features on historical locations in Pecos region
By The Ghost Writer
PECOS, Jan. 26, 2001 - In 1942, Pecos was a small country town with a will to help in the war effort and at the same time to help the economy. The April 3, 1942 edition of the Pecos Enterprise relates the town effort to float a $50,000.00 bond issue to buy 2½ sections with lots south of the present municipal airport and to extend water and sewer lines to the area. This was to be used by a new Air Force training facility. The bonds would have a 2½ percent interest rate for the first 10 years and 2¾ percent the next 10 years. The War Department estimated that the new construction would top $5,000,000.00. The vote was 534 for and four against the bond issue. The four are likely the same ones who today oppose any efforts to get new business in Pecos. If you know why only 538 people voted, call the Enterprise.

The war effort would surely bring on shortages of material and Pecos would try to help in the production of rubber by planting four-acre experimental plots of guayule. J. E. Couch, Barney Hubbs, W.E. Beckham and the Experiment Station in Balmorhea planted the rubber plants. More recent trials to grow the plant were tried by the Firestone Test Tract in Fort Stockton and the A&M Agricultural Experiment Station southwest of Pecos. The plant grows but is difficult to plant and other problems make it uneconomical. We also grew long staple cotton to be used in parachute harness. It was good for the war effort and the price was good.

The Pecos Army Air Field brought in a lot of newcomers and Pecos was not prepared to house all of them. One of the camp followers (Mrs. Kuykendall used "camp followers" meaning a wife who went with her husband who served in the military, not as historians used the expression when talking about the Roman army) was Lucy Roundtree Kuykendall who wrote a book P.S. to Pecos. The book was miss-named. It should have been called, P.S. to Lucy as her main object, it seems to me, was to impress the world of her cute personality.

Many Pecos people were not happy with the book as no one enjoys having a stranger point out the weak points of their community. Mrs. Kuykendall did state in the Forward that Pecos was no different from other towns throughout the nation that had an influx of people and no facilities to accommodate them. She was not always factual about our town but on the whole I remember many of the things she related. Pecos must not have been bad to all of the military personnel as some returned to Pecos, married and made good Pecos citizens.

Border Patrol finds quarter ton of pot

An attempt to smuggle over a quarter ton of marijuana into the United States failed on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Alpine agents assigned to the Big Bend National Park report that maintenance personnel in the Park recovered bundles of abandoned marijuana totaling 519 pounds. Park officials immediately contacted the Border Patrol.

Border Patrol Agents, who are expert sign-cutters or trackers, noticed that horses were used in this aborted attempt.

The arrest was one of two in the area on Tuesday. In the second agents.

Seized 169 lbs from a vehicle at the checkpoint on State Highway 118 south of Alpine from a United States Citizen.

The total value of marijuana seized for January 23, 2001 was put at over $550,000.

High Thursday 73. Low this morning 41. Forecast for tonight: Increasing cloudiness. Low in the lower 30s. Northeast wind 0 to 20 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy and cooler with a 50 percent chance of rain. High in the mid 30s. East wind 10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. Low in the lower 30s. The chance of precipitation is 50 percent. Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers or thunderstorms. Lows in the upper 30s. Highs in the 50s to near 60.

Arlene Hill

Services are incomplete for Arlene Hill, 61, of Pecos, who died this morning at her residence.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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