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Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Anchor says system to fix odor problems

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- The odor problem on the South side of Pecos from the area south  of the Anchor Foods plant has continued to plague the south  side of Pecos, three months after the smell first began to bother local  residents and businesses. But company officials said they are close to  a solution to the problem, resulting from wastewater at the plant, which  is Reeves County's largest employer.

Local Plant Manager Steve Cordova said that Anchor is in the process of starting up a new wastewater treatment system.

Anchor is currently using two lagoons, located south of the plant, to catch wastewater from the production of appetizers at the plant, located on West Palmer Street on the south side of Pecos.

Cordova said that they are in the process of condensing the two lagoons, or wetlands, into one and replacing some valves to make the treatment more efficient.

Some community members have expressed concern about the wetlands and wonder for the safety of the groundwater.

Cordova said that the wetlands were up to regulation with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission's standards on wastewater and the lagoons are lined.

He said that the company has been working on improving the wastewater treatment and since they have started the problem has gotten better.

"It's gotten a lot better," he said. "It's going to improve as we go."

In a press release on the wastewater treatment plans, Anchor officials said the company is dedicated to protecting the environment and making the wetlands into a habitat for wildlife.

"Because Anchor Foods is committed to protecting and improving the environment, we have selected a wetlands treatment system that will allow greater reuse of treated water and provide a habitat for wildlife," the release said.

Anchor's treatment system consists of a series of ponds planted with local plants that remove contaminants from the wastewater and has been successfully used at other food processing plants, according to the release.

The release goes on to state that due to some unexpected difficulties during the startup of the system have resulted in the "temporary" odorous conditions.

Cordova said that next week a group from Alan Plummer Associates, a wastewater consultant and the primary design engineer for the constructed wetland, would meet with Anchor employees to address the problem and take steps to correct them.

He said that they would discuss taking steps that would "give us more control of what we're doing."

The release also stated that Anchor has also treated the wastewater with a bacterial agent to dissolve some of the material contributing to the odors.

Cordova said that they are also sending to Anchor employees to Austin to attend a wastewater operation course to "better understand the available and emerging technology in wastewater treatment," and have appointed an employee to monitor and control the wetlands and the operations of the wetlands.

The problem with the smell from the ponds first became noticeable in early April. Depending on the direction of the wind, the wastewater smell is most noticeable at the Reeves County Golf Course, Pecos Municipal Airport, Maxey Park and other homes and businesses in the area south of Interstate 20.

Addressing another issue, Cordova said that despite rumors that are circulating around town, Anchor is not being sold to another at this time.

"No one has officially contacted us with anything like that," he said.

Senior Human Resources Manager Jesse Manciaz said that the company is not selling out at this time although the possibility of selling is always there.

"The potential to be sold is there all the time," he said. Anchor, based in Appelton, Wisc., has operated the food processing facility in Pecos since 1990, and have expanded several times over the past decade.

Cordova said that the employees of Anchor have been concerned about the rumors of being sold so he tells them to just worry about putting out good products.

"Our workforce is concerned about the same thing (being sold)," he said. "We just have to focus on what we do best and maintain a high quality production."

So despite all the rumors and the odors, Cordova said that the employees of Anchor are doing their best to keep production going and working on combating the smell.

Anti drug proposal for HS games gets board's endorsement

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- Bell ringers will be a part of each football game during the next  season thanks to a program aimed towards creating a drug free environment for  the youth.

The Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department will sponsor a Pecos Eagle Drug Free, Crime Free Spirit Bell Ringers Group for the 2001-2002 school year.

Juvenile Probation Department Director Louise Moore was on hand to make the special presentation to the school board, which approved the plan at the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting held Tuesday evening.

"I wanted to see what the school board thought about this new project and to get your approval on going through with it," said Moore.

Moore explained that the program is new and would be like the bell ringers used at Texas Tech during their games.

The Bell Ringers will go down on the field before each Pecos Eagle varsity home football game and ring bells to help boost spirit and to help make people aware of how important it is to be crime free and drug free. "This is similar to the Texas Tech Saddle Tramps," said Moore. "There will be a special section at the Pecos Eagle home football games for the bell ringers and sponsors to sit during the game."

The group will consist of P-B- T ISD students or home-schooled students who reside in Reeves County in grades 5-12; both boys and girls. "This is not a school sponsored activity," said Moore.

"Students who participate must be in good standing at school and must be crime free and drug free," said Moore. "The group will consist of 40 students."

There will not be a fee to participate and school participants will not have to pay a fee to get into the games. "We will provide the entry fee to the games, the bells and a T-shirt," said Moore.

The students will be chosen through essays. "We will have them write an essay and then make our selection from there. The essays will be 150 words stating why they think it is important to be drug free and crime free," she said.

Students wanting to participate in the Bell Ringers can submit their essays to: the Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department, 100 E. Fourth St., Room #103, Pecos, Tx. 79772 or essays can be dropped off at the Reeves County Juvenile Probation Department at County Road 204.

Please write your name, grade, address and phone number on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the essay so that you can be contacted.

"This is exciting for Pecos because no other team in the district has a support, spirit group of this type," said Moore. "We hope to get at least 20 high school students to participate and serve as role models for the younger students."

"We'll be asking the parents to pick up the younger children by halftime. They'll be performing at the beginning of the game," she said.

Essays must be submitted by 5 p.m., Aug. 10. Students who are selected will be notified by Aug. 20.

For more information contact Alma Garcia or Louise Moore at 915-447-6901.

Board hears update on building, OKs scoreboard, property bids

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board members awarded several  bids on Tuesday and heard an update on construction of the Career  and Technology Education Building during their regular monthly meeting.

Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral Associates, updated the board on the construction of the CATE Building, located on South Eddy Street, behind the administrative building.

"It appears that the project is two weeks behind schedule," said Hunter, who added that this wouldn't pose a big problem. "We're still in good shape," he said.

"I'm real pleased with what I'm seeing, the project is running smoothly," said Hunter.

The steel is being fabricated and due for delivery the week of July 23. "They really need to let the cement cure, so this will be just about right," he said.

Completion date for the technology building has been set for October, according to Hunter.

Board members approved several bid proposals including a bid for a new scoreboard for the Pecos High School swimming pool to Colorado Time Systems in the amount of $26,000; fuel bid to West Texas Gas, who was the only bidder and the current provider; bread/bread products to El Paso Baking, the only bidder and current provider; milk/dairy products to Bell Dairy Products and property/casualty/general liability insurance to Rogers and Belding.

Bids on foreclosed properties were also approved during the regular meeting. Approved property bids included, 412 E. 14th Street, in the amount of $1,000 submitted by Bertha Estrello.

Other offers were submitted for property in Toyah, including a vacant lot bid submitted by Sandra K. Terry in the amount of $50. Terry also submitted bids on property at100 E. N. Frontage I-20, Rosa's Desert Saloon (Café) in the amount of $1,000, at 500 W. First Street, in the amount of $1,000, and at Second and Elliott streets, for $150. Another bid in Toyah, for the Toyah Truck Stop, was submitted by Aida Yerena in the amount of $9,500.

Ward County foreclosed property proposals included a vacant lot. Juan B. Romero bid $250 for the lot.

School board members approved these foreclosed property bids, but rejected one in Reeves County, submitted by Laurie Gonzales in the amount of $5,000 for property located at 217 N. Cedar.

Board members approved school tax assessor/collector Lydia Prieto as the officer to calculate effective tax rate and roll back tax rate.

The board met behind closed doors to discuss pending litigation in the Bauer case, however, no action was taken during the open session of the meeting.

`Night' events made profit, Chamber told

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- Night in Old Pecos was a huge success and  chamber members are now looking forward to the Fall Fair,  officials with the Chamber said on Tuesday.

"We actually made money at Night in Old Pecos," said Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Rivera during the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors regular meeting held at noon Tuesday.

Special thanks went out to the city, county, all the volunteers from Rivera, who said that while he didn't have the exact figures on the June 30 event, he expected the group to have made about a $1,600 profit.

In upcoming events, a bike rally is scheduled for July 28 and Rivera said he expected several out of town individuals.

"A workshop on Census Data is scheduled for July 17, if anyone wants to participate," said Rivera. The workshop is on how to apply for grants and economic development.

Rivera said that a video conference on rural cities would be held in Fort Stockton on July 26.

Laura Briggs, president of the Women's Division told the group that programs for Golden Girl/Little Miss Cantaloupe Pageant are still available. "We also had a professional videographer come do the videos for the pageant, if anyone wants to purchase one," she said.

Briggs told the group that the women are currently working on some Newcomer's Baskets for individuals new to the community. "We would appreciate any businesses or anybody that wants to contribute something to the baskets to let us know," said Briggs.

Briggs said that magnets, cups or any other mementos can be put in the baskets and that all will be greatly appreciated. "We want to make the newcomers feel welcome in our community and we will provide them with a phone book, a list of all chamber members and other pertinent information," she said.

Briggs told the group that they are also working on getting together all the notebooks on the pageant. "We'll have all the information on the pageant, to make it smoother for whoever is in charge next year," said Briggs. "I've heard that we will have a lot more girls participating next year," she said.

Briggs said that the judges were from Lubbock area and had judged bigger pageants. "They were very impressed with our pageant, which is really good," she said.

The Fall Fair Committee will be meeting next Tuesday at Abbi's Kitchen on West Third Street, and those interested in participating or helping out in the annual event are asked to attend the noon luncheon.

"I have a list of all those that attended the meetings last year," said chamber president Barbara Creager.

Under community development reports, Kevin Duke reported that all the billboards promoting Pecos are up. "The one for the rodeo will be coming down," he said.

Duke said that he wanted to comment on something. "We hear complaints about the chamber all the time, but I don't think people realize all that they do," he said, citing the parade, Night in Old Pecos, Fall Fair and many other events that take up a lot of time, energy and money, that the Chamber is in charge of.

"I think they do an excellent job and should be commended for that," he said.

Duke said that next year he would like to see the rodeo condensed into just four days. "That way we could get more people involved and not have them burned out by the end of the events," he said.

Rodeo president Brenda McKinney said that the group felt like attendance was up this year. "We had a lot of volunteers that helped out," said McKinney. "And maybe by next month we'll have some figures to present."

The number of cowboys entering the event was down. "That might have had something to do with the price of gas," said McKinney. "It's hard for them to come all the way down to West Texas and then back up north to the other rodeos."

Creager commented on the recent survey she had passed out. "Some of the people in the area only see us on certain days. They don't know all that goes on behind closed doors," she said.

Creager said it was up to each individual to be a good board member.

Rivera told the group that he had had a special public information request, under the Open Record's Act, which was filed by the Enterprise. Advice was sought from the Attorney General's Office, according to Rivera. "The only ones we have to give out are the ones paid for by bed tax," he said.

"If anyone wants to look at our books, they can just come to the office," said Rivera. "They're there for anyone to see."

Creager told the group that if anyone has any concerns they could contact her or go to the office and look at the books.

Town of Pecos City Police Chief Clay McKinney, city mayor Ray Ortega, city finance director George Bejarano, city manager Carlos Yerena and utilities director Octavio Garcia were on hand to personally thank the chamber for their support on the new criminal justice center project. "I think together we can work on a lot of projects," said Yerena.

The city was recently awarded a $2.4 million grant by the federal government for the jail, which will house U.S. Marshal's Service prisoners. "This is the largest grant the city has received, and without your support we wouldn't have been able to achieve this," Ortega said.

"These gentleman have done an outstanding job and we have been able to accomplish a lot," he said.

Yerena said that they had aggressively pursued this grant and would be "aggressively" pursuing others in their efforts toward economic development.

Stephenville woman dies in I-20 rollover

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- An accident on I-20 claimed the life of one woman and injured  two other people Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 20 about five miles east  of Barstow.

The accident happened at about 1:50 p.m., on I-20 near the 54 mile marker in Ward County.

The one vehicle rollover claimed the life of 84-year-old Bobbie Isham Luker from Stephenville. Luker was taken to Reeves County Hospital where she was pronounced dead by Dr. Haitham Jifi at 3:24 p.m. She was taken to Pecos Funeral Home.

The injured were Charles Floyd Luker; 62, of Naples, Fla., and Charles Thomas Luker, 83, of Stephenville. Both were taken to Reeves County Hospital. Floyd Luker was reportedly in stable condition with some minor injuries, while Thomas Luker was said to be in serious but stable condition with a shoulder injury. He was later flown by air ambulance to Covenant Hospital in Lubbock.

According to a report from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Ford Crown Victoria in which the Lukers were traveling was headed eastbound on I-20, when the driver veered into the south barrow ditch on the right side of the road, causing the driver to over correct to the left, causing the car to go into a skid.

At that point the vehicle entered the center medium, where the driver again over corrected back to the right. The car went into a broadside skid and the car overturned twice, ejecting Bobbie Luker.

Trooper responding to the accident was Manuel Moreno Jr. of Monahans.

The accident was the second traffic fatality in the Barstow area in six hours on Tuesday. Barstow resident Lucio Florez Sr. was killed when his pickup was hit by a Union Pacific train on the east side of Barstow shortly after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Barstow officials say site of fatal accident was due for closing

Staff Writer

PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- The Brant Street crossing, where Barstow alderman Lucio Florez  Sr. was killed Tuesday morning, had already been scheduled for  closure under an agreement between the city and Union Pacific Railroad. 

But as of this morning, the actual responsibility for closing the crossing on the east side of town was unknown, even while residents of Barstow are asking why no action has been taken three months after the agreement was signed.

Florez' F-150 pickup was struck by an eastbound freight train Tuesday morning, as he attempted to cross the tracks while southbound on Brant Street. The force of the collision separated the bed of the vehicle from the pickup's cab and caused it to roll several times on the north side of the tracks.

Florez, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene by Ward County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Pascual Olibas, before his body was sent off for autopsy.

According to Barstow Mayor Benny Hernandez, the City Council had approved a resolution that would close the railroad crossing on April 11.

"Mr. Florez was one of the City Council members who approved the passing of the resolution," Hernandez said.

A member of the City Council who wished to remain anonymous said that after the resolution had been passed the council wrote a letter to an official of Union Pacific and sent it along with the ordinances.

"We know that they received the letter otherwise they would not have sent us the money," the alderman said.

The city received a check for $7,500 for the closure of the railroad crossing.

The Brant Street crossing is just one block east of the FM 516 crossing, which has signal lights and is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. Brant Street eventually merges with FM 516 on the north side of Barstow, but is not maintained by the state along the section through town, and Larry Levario, the foreman of Texas Department of Transportation's Pecos office, said that it was the responsibility of the city to close the street.

"I know that when Pecos closed two of its streets, the city was responsible for its closure," Levario said.

Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific said that the crossing at Brant Street is a candidate for closure, but added that, "We cannot close the crossings."

The Brant Street crossing only has a wooden crossing sign to warn motorists of the tracks. Union Pacific has sought over the years to get cities to close crossings that do not have electronic warning signals in order to improve safety on the tracks.

Engineers are required to sound their horn before each railroad crossing, of which there are three in the main part of Barstow. The council member also said that during the last few months the traffic of trains crossing has increased.

"We are not used to seeing trains run at the hours they have been running lately," the alderman said.


PECOS, Wed., July 11, 2001 -- High Tuesday 105. Low this morning 69. Forecast for  tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated evening showers or thunderstorms. Low  in the mid 70s. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. The chance of rain is less  than 20 percent. Thursday: Partly cloudy with isolated afternoon showers  or thunderstorms. High around 105. South wind 5 to 15 mph. The  chance of rain is less than 20 percent. Thursday night: Partly cloudy  with isolated evening showers or thunderstorms. Low 70 to 75.  The chance of rain is less than 20 percent. Friday and Saturday:  Partly cloudy. Lows 70 to 75. Highs between 100-105.

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