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Archive 2001

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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Thursday, October 11, 2001

Range managers study salt cedar removal effort

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 11, 2001 -- Over 140 people traveled to Mentone on Wednesday to take a look at the progress of the fight to destroy the salt cedars that line the Pecos River.

The Texas Section of the Society Range Management hosted the tour that made a stop at the Mentone Bridge on State Highway 302, about 20 miles north of Pecos, as part of their annual meeting taking place this year in Odessa.

Many researchers, state officials, extension agents, water district managers that have been or will be involved in the salt cedar removal project, as well as numerous ranchers, were on hand when the three tour buses made the stop in Mentone.

While the group gathered under the shade of the bridge, many scientists and researchers gave a report of the progress that has been made in the past three years.

Reeves County Extension Agent Terry Holder said that the group just took the day to tour the river sites to get firsthand knowledge of the progress and effort of the salt cedar clean-up.

"We're touring the Pecos River Ecosystem Restoration," he said. "We're showing what we have sprayed with Arsenal and how it is helping the river, water quality and water quantity."

The salt cedar is an invasive tree species that consumes large amounts of water and excretes salt into the surrounding water and soil.

According to some of the researchers, the salt cedar was introduced in the United States as an ornamental plant that was used in the Western states to help control erosion and since has taken over the banks of the Pecos River. It has also spread to other rivers across Texas, and officials are hoping if the Pecos River eradication project is a success, that similar efforts can begin in other parts of the state.

The salt cedars have been treated with a herbicide called Arsenal, developed and manufactured by the BASF Corporation. The first trees were sprayed in September 1999, with additional areas sprayed each of the past two Septembers.

Texas A&M Extension Range Specialist Charles Hart said that over the three-year span of treatment there have been a few problems with the treatments.

He explained that at first there was not a good way to treat the salt cedars because the placement of the trees along the river.

"We are dealing with such a narrow band of area," he said.

After several tries with crop dusting and double flying the herbicide, Hart said that the use of a helicopter has worked and has enabled them to "get more consistent control" of the treatments.

Donnie Dippel, assistant commissioner for pesticide programs under the Texas Department of Agriculture, said that Red Bluff Water Power Control District money was used to treat the salt cedars for the first two years but now, in the third year of treatment, the state has designated $1 million for the project.

Only $220,000 of the $1 million has been used for the treatment leaving $780,000 to be used next year, according to Dippel, which he hopes would be enough to treat the remaining amount of the Pecos River.

"We hope to go down to the Rio Grande River," he said.

Hart and other researchers involved in the project continued to give presentations on the amount of research that has been done and is currently being done to determine the effects of the salt cedar and how the destruction on over 120 river miles has changed the Pecos River.

Hart also explained how the state keeps track of the water flow from Red Bluff Lake, through seven water districts, to Girvin, a small town southwest of McCamey.

He said that they keep track of what is released from Red Bluff and delivered to each water district and what ends up in Girvin as well as the amount of rainfall that is received.

Hart said that the extensive tracking of the water is to help them try to get an estimate of how much water the salt cedars absorb.

Salt cedars spread both through seeds and roots making them hard to control.

However, Hart is pleased at the success of the treatments so far, and according to a BASF news release, 85 to 90 percent of the treated areas are under control.

Hart explained that the he would be willing to continue the treatments and maintenance along the river as long at the Red Bluff district is interested in controlling the salt cedars.

No plans are being made right now to remove the dead salt cedars until the natural vegetation has been able to grow back and stabilize the riverbanks.

"Right now the objective is to leave them there until the bank is stable," he said.

Engineer sought for sewer project by City Council

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 11, 2001 -- The Town of Pecos City Council is planning to advertise for engineering services for sewer improvements after approving the proposal during their regular meeting this morning at City Hall.

City Manager Carlos Yerena informed the council that the city would provide a list of criteria that the city would expect from the engineers.

Yerena said that the advertisement for services would begin before the city's Economically Distressed Area Programs (EDAP) grant application is approved so the city would not have to wait longer to advertise and start the project.

"It's contingent on us receiving the grant award," he said.

City Utilities Director Octavio Garcia said that the plans include installing a few new lift stations because of the elevation of the wells.

Yerena explained that the city would install three new lift stations, seven manholes and construct some new sewer lines.

He said that the project would not exceed $310,000.

The city is planning to advertise for engineering services over the next two weeks but Yerena explained that the engineer would not start until the Texas Water Development Board approves the city's application.

Yerena said that he believes the state board should make the decision either to approve or deny the application by December but feels that they would approve it.

"They feel comfortable with it," he said. "Right now we anticipate to know (the decision) by the end of the year."

The council also approved the first reading of an ordinance that would set rules for on-site sewage facilities.

The ordinance allows the city to designate a person to enforce the health codes involving septic tanks on property.

Yerena said that the city would designate Health Director Armando Gil to inspect the on-site systems as well as give out permits for the septic tanks.

"This is a standard procedure," he said. "The ordinance gives us the authorization to designate the city representative, in this case the health director, to give out permits."

The council tabled discussion of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation budget until the next meeting so that a PEDC representative could be present.

In other business, the council approved the second reading of the adoption of the provision affecting the Texas Municipal Retirement System, which changed the number of years of service before eligibility for retirement from 25 years to 20 years.

The council also approved the juvenile court report, accounts payable and minutes from the previous meeting.

Board given timetable for school rehab work

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 11, 2001 -- Schedules and cost estimates for renovations to a number of campus projects were discussed and approved during the regular Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board meeting held Tuesday evening.

Monte Hunter, with Hunter Corral Associates, Inc. provided a chart for board members on the planning session, when proposals would be due and when construction was set to begin on each of the projects. The timetable was set after voters opted to keep the district's $1.50 tax rate in last month's state-mandated tax rollback election.

"This chart shows when actual construction time will be and gives you a general idea of how the project will be approached," said Hunter.

The projects involved are the Bessie Haynes and Crockett Middle School HVAC/renovation project, Pecos High School tennis court renovation and Pecos High School building renovations, Pecos Kindergarten carpet project and Lamar AEP school roofing

The Bessie Haynes asbestos removal will be done over winter holiday break, according to Hunter. "We'll take the asbestos out and put the new ceiling in over Christmas vacation," said Hunter.

Bessie Haynes and Crockett Middle School will also be getting a new air conditioning system during that time as well.

"We want to consolidate these two to get a better price," said Hunter.

Hunter told board members that carpet replacement at the Pecos Kindergarten would follow the same schedule.

Asbestos removal will be done at the Pecos High School auditorium during the Christmas break and roofing repairs will be made in January, with a new air conditioning being a part of the project.

Tennis court repairs at the high school are scheduled for December and January, with the Lamar roofing project set for February.

Hunter also provided the group with an update on the district's CATE Building, which is currently nearing completion.

"The inside is finished and it's ready to be moved into," said Hunter.

Hunter said he would do a walk-through and do a punch-list of items that still need to be re-done or completed to the computer technology building on South Eddy Street.

"It's coming along great and on schedule," he said.

In other action Tuesday, board members approved a Reading Academy for students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

"This year they've incorporated math into the classes," said PBT-ISD Superintendent Don Love.

Reading/math academy will be held during the Fall and Spring semester for a total of 21 instructional days per semester.

Dates will be: for the Fall semester, Oct. 15-Dec. 6 and for the Spring semester, Jan. 14-March 5.

The academy is held three days a week, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Selection of students to participate in the program: lower quartile of each group per grade level and teacher recommendation.

An early release date for March 28, 2002 was approved by the board. Pecos will be hosting the annual UIL meet during that week.

Board members also approved the disposal or trade-in of a golf cart that is no longer necessary for the operation of the school district.

Big bucks bus passenger ends up with stop in jail

Staff Writer
PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 11, 2001 -- One man carrying a large sum of money was not very lucky Tuesday after he was arrested in Midland and over $100,000 in cash was confiscated.

Officers with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force and the Midland County Sheriff's Department while working on bus interdiction arrested the man and seized the $108,020 he allegedly was carrying.

Saul Morales, 29, who was traveling on an Americano bus, was arrested on money laundering charges, a first-degree felony. He was traveling from Fort Worth to El Paso.

"He was carrying the money on his body," said Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Lieutenant Larry Arredondo.

Arredondo said that the Texas Attorney General Office's money laundering department is going to help with the continuing investigation.

"The investigation will continue and there could possibly be more arrests," said Arredondo.

"The officers of the task force have been doing bus investigations and have been very successful in arresting people for crimes committed whether narcotics or money laundering cases," said Arredondo. "This is money that is used for criminal activity or is connected to a crime."

Teddy bears sought by services  for NYC residents

PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 11, 2001 -- Victim Services in Reeves County are seeking Teddy Bear donations between now and next Monday to assist the victims of New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The Teddy Bears will be given to the school children and adults as well.

"The Teddy Bear is an object outside of one's self that reminds one of being cared for, soothed, matured and it is kind of tie, an emotional blood bank," said Susie Saenz, with the Victims Services office.

Needed are new Teddy Bears, not used, small (24 inches of less) and each one should include a personal note for the victim who gets it.

The Teddy Bears are to be taken to the Adult Probation Office, 700-A Daggett and the deadline is Monday, Oct. 15.

For more information contact Saenz at 915-447-6600.


PECOS, Thurs., Oct. 11, 2001 -- High Wednesday 90. Low this morning 50. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows 50 to 55. South winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 80. West winds 10 to 20 mph, then turning cooler in the afternoon with temperatures falling to around 70. Winds shifting north and increasing 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Friday night: Decreasing winds. Otherwise mostly clear. Lows 4 to 50. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s. Sunday: Partly cloudy and turning colder. Lows 50 to 55. Highs in the 60s.


Valeria Vela Sanchez

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