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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 16, 2002

State brushes off funding for salt cedar project

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 16, 2002 - A public hearing held today at the Pecos Community Center on proposed rule changes to the Texas Brush Control Program became a heated debate after questions were asked about the salt cedar in Pecos.

The hearing was to receive and respond to any local comments on the proposed changes to the state's rules. However, the hearing became heated when it was mentioned that Pecos would not be receiving any money to help with its salt cedar problem.

According to James Moore, Deputy Executive Director of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservations Board, Reeves County is not a critical area.

Moore went on to say that they would do everything they could to help with the salt cedar problem.

"We will do everything we can, Moore said. "We are not opposed to salt cedar control."

Moore stated that the area which is looked at is the part of Texas that receives 18-inches of rainfall but then no more then 36-inches.

"The money will go to North Concho," Moore said. "Our board will continue to look at our visibility studies."

According to Moore most of the visibility studies have come from North Concho, Twin Buttes and Upper Colorado Rivers.

Moore told a group of members from the Upper Pecos District to put together a letter that would request the help of salt cedar control.

With the letter the TSSWCB would then present it to the legislature asking for funding for salt cedar control.

"If we are going to do salt cedar, we will do it," Moore said.

According to District Conservationist, Greg Huber, with the Natural Resources Conservations Services, the removal salt cedar is very expensive.

"Salt cedar control is very expensive in comparison to other brush management species," Huber said.

The salt cedars are a non-native tree to West Texas that were introduced 100 years ago as part of an erosion control measure. The trees have multiplied across the region, draining water from rivers and lakes, while the salt secreted from the tree's leaves makes the ground beneath it too salty for farming.

The Red Bluff Water Power Control District has received financial aid over the past three years with a salt cedar eradication program along the Pecos River, between Red Bluff Dam and Imperial Reservoir. But other areas of Reeves County not included in the project would have to seek their own funding for removal of the trees, which officials estimated consumed between 40 and 50 percent of the Pecos River's flow at the time the project began.

A helicopter was used to spray Arsenal on the trees along the river, beginning in September 1999. The first year of spraying was so successful that a group of 300 local residents were joined by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs in April of 2000 to view the results of the first phase of spraying at the Highway 302 Bridge.

"This project is truly critical to Texas as we're in our third drought in four years. Each and every source of water is extremely important to the entire state," Combs said at the time.

At the time of the initial spraying, by Barney Lee, then district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pecos, said that removal of the salt cedars would conserve enough water to irrigate another 10,000 acres of farmland.

Red Bluff Managing Director Randall Hartman said on Tuesday that as of now, no increase has been detected in the flow of the Pecos River following the arsenal spraying. However, the ongoing drought in Texas and New Mexico has led the district to cut water releases south of Red Bluff Lake this year, making water loss measurements impossible to gauge compared with normal release seasons.

Monahans firebombing suspect undergoing tests

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 16, 2002 - A man accused of firebombing the Monahans Police Department in early June is currently in Fort Worth for a psychiatric evaluation following a motion filed by his attorney.

Travis Harris, 22, who was accused of bombing the Monahans Police Department on June 3, will be undergoing a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial and whether he was insane at the time of the bombing.

"State charges in Monahans have been dismissed," said Pecos attorney Scott Johnson. "I'm representing him for the federal arson charges."

Johnson said that in Monahans he had been facing charges in 143rd District Court of arson and retaliation and that both had been dismissed. The arson charge was filed following Harris arrest in U.S. District Court in Pecos.

Johnson said that a trial date has not been set. "Pending the outcome of the evaluation, we'll know if there will be a trial and when," said Johnson.

Johnson is also seeking a change of venue from Pecos to El Paso due to extensive publicity about the trial in the area.

Midland County District Attorney Al Schorre said no decision has been made to present another case involving Harris to the Midland County Grand Jury. That case involves Harris's alleged involvement in the death of 29-year-old John Paul Ceniceros, whose body was found July 17 in a Midland oilfield.

"I'm not aware that charges have been filed in that case," said Johnson, who added that he is not his attorney for that particular case. "I was aware that he was a suspect, but I don't know that he's told them anything about that," he said.

Ceniceros had been reported missing by his family on May 26. Law enforcement officials say they found Ceniceros' cell phone, a 9 mm shell casing, latex gloves and a shovel in Harris' vehicle in Lubbock. They also allege Harris shot Ceniceros and drove the Odessa man's red 1996 Ford Mustang coupe to Lubbock.

Harris was arrested in Odessa the day after the firebombing, in the early morning hours of June 3. The fire heavily damaged three rooms at the Monahans Police Department, which has since relocated its offices to a city annex building on the south side of Monahans.

Williams, Granado scheduled for Fox HS show

Staff Writer

PECOS, Aug. 16, 2002 - Two Pecos High School coaches are scheduled to be profiled by a crew from Fox Sports Southwest next week.

PHS athletic director and head baseball coach Bubba Williams and head volleyball coach Becky Granado will be profiled for a feature that airs on the network's Texas High School Sports Report entitled "Coaches That Make A Difference," Granado said.

"They are going to profile both me and coach Williams," she said, while Williams added, "They're also going to do something for the muscular dystrophy foundation."

Williams was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy this past April, and is currently undergoing physical therapy for treatment of the disease. With the start of pre-season workouts for Pecos Eagle teams last week, he has been helped getting between sites through the use of a motorized scooter.

"They said they would either be here on Tuesday or Wednesday," Williams said.

Granado said the crew might make a stopover in Odessa Tuesday evening, where the Eagles' volleyball team will open their 2002 season with matches against the Odessa High Bronchos and Alpine Bucks.

Granado is beginning her sixth season as head volleyball coach for the Eagles, after spending nine years as junior varsity coach. Williams is beginning his 22nd season as head baseball coach for Pecos, after serving eight seasons as assistant coach.

Boosters seeking local sponsors for player photos

PECOS, Aug. 16, 2002 - The Pecos Eagles Athletic Booster Club is seeking sponsors for the fall varsity picture posters from local businesses and individuals.

Sponsorships of the posters, which feature either team pictures or one player off the various varsity squads, are $45 apiece. Further information is available through either the Pecos Eagle Athletic Booster Club or from the coaches for the fall sports teams.

PECOS,Aug. 16, 2002 - High Thursday 109. Low this morning 78. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy and breezy with isolated evening showers and thunderstorms. Lows 70 to 75. Southeast winds 15 to 25 mph, decreasing to 10 to 20 mph before midnight. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 104. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy with isolated evening showers and thunderstorms. Lows 70 to 75. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs near 102. Monday: Partly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Lows 70 to 75. Highs near 100.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise